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Interview: J. Torres and Jason Bone

June 18th, 2010 (07:36 am)
thirsty

Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Good Morning from Singin' in the Rain

Thank goodness it's Friday! Today, I'm speaking with J. Torres and Jason Bone, the creators of the Alison Dare graphic novels. These recently re-released stories are packed with action and wit, and I recommend them to kids and adults alike. The Alison Dare logo is an obvious nod to Indiana Jones, and the books mix together elements of action-adventure movies with superhero comics and life at a private all-girls Catholic school. When Alison reveals her parents' true identities to her friends, readers learn that she comes from intelligent, brave stock. (No spoilers here, people - Read the books to find out what I mean... and keep your eyes peeled for the panel in which Alison quotes Ferris Bueller's Day Off!) Now, let's meet the fellows behind the comics, shall we?

Little Willow: How did you meet?

Jason Bone: Torres and I met while sitting side-by-side at a convention in Toronto. I had, at the time, only drawn a few pages of my first comic book project Solar Stella and was still working at Nelvana in the design department. I'm sure it was J. who introduced himself first. We hung out a few times after that, discussing story ideas before hitting on Alison Dare. She was a character J had already created but she, and her world, featured many of my own interests it felt natural to draw her. We worked together on a bunch of stories for Love In Tights, a superhero-romance anthology comic book.

Little Willow: How did you come to work together on Alison Dare and Huntress?

Jason Bone: The Huntress story came up recently, after we'd teamed up on the Batman: Brave and the Bold story for DC. Unfortunately my art couldn't be used for the final but I was still able to finish the pages because I thought it was a nice story.

Little Willow: What inspired the character of Alison Dare? Which came first, Alison or her family's backstory?

J Torres: She is a combination of a number of childhood heroes of mine, characters whose exploits I loved to read, like Tintin, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys. I thought a kid that cool had to come from an equally amazing family so it seemed natural to make her mom a cross between Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, and her dad a Golden Age superhero type. This is allowed for us to play with different genres, smoosh elements from pulp adventures with superhero comics, fantasy stories with family drama, and so on.

Little Willow: J, do you leave all of the art to Jason, or did you plan out the characters' features together?

J Torres: I usually write "full script," which means I break the page down by panel, describe the action in each panel, and include all the dialogue and sound effects. In terms of character designs I had some specific ideas for most of the cast, but Jason and I did talk about body types, real actors as models, and bounced around ideas for certain characters' looks. Some of them, though, were all Jason like the designs for Blue Scarab, Baron Von Baron, and Auntie Freeze.

Little Willow: Jason, how much of the characters' "voices" came from you?

Jason Bone: I think what I contribute to the characters is their body language. The girls' characters are clear in J's script and dialogue. I take those cues and make sure Alison is always boldly up front (even when she might actually be nervous), Wendy is hesitant, and Dot is eager but nervous (she’s usually pushing Wendy ahead of her as a shield).

Little Willow: Congratulations on the reprinting of Alison Dare! How did that come to pass?

J Torres: I worked with our amazing art director Jennifer Lum on the Degrassi: Extra Credit graphic novel series at another place and time. A couple of years ago, she put the Alison Dare books in front of then Tundra publisher Kathy Lowinger. And here we are today!

Little Willow: How did you become involved in iconic comic lines, such as Batman and Teen Titans?

J Torres: Actually, Alison Dare is partially responsible. Editors Tom Palmer, Jr. and Lysa Hawkins were familiar with my work, which included the Alison books, and recruited me to write for the Teen Titans Go series. My stint on Titans Go then led to writing assignments on three different Batman titles at DC Comics.

Little Willow: Which classic superhero comics would you love to write or illustrate?

Jason Bone: The first answer used to be Doom Patrol. But then Torres and I got our wish to work on those characters with our Batman: Brave and the Bold team-up last year. Not that I wouldn't want to work on them again. I'd love to do a Hawkman story at some point. And I think something fun can be done with Aquaman.

J Torres: Ditto on the Doom Patrol. I've written a couple of stories with them as "guest stars" but not really the featured players, so I'd love to get my hands on them again someday. The same goes for Captain Marvel and Superman, who were also guest stars in someone else's book when I wrote them. Jason’s had a chance to work with Spider-Man, and I'd like a crack at him one day as well. I think it’d be fun to write the Archies or Josie and the Pussycats too.

Little Willow: Which illustrators have influenced your work?

Jason Bone: Jack Kirby, Bruce Timm, Darwyn Cooke, John Buscema, Dan DeCarlo, and advertising art from the 50s. Plus many, many other artists but those are the ones I turn to time and again.

Little Willow: What are your favorite novels? Who are you favorite novelists?

Jason Bone: Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. Issac Asimov. Jane Austen, particularly Northanger Abbey.

J Torres: The answers are right there with Alison Dare whose mom's name is Alice and whose best friends are Wendy and Dot (short for Dorothy).

Little Willow: Thumbs up for the nods to classic literature! I too love Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and the Oz novels. Okay, last question: If you could have a superpower, what power would you select and why?

Jason Bone: Invisibility. For spying. Duh!

J Torres: Shape-changing for even better spying!

Follow J and Jason on their Double Blog Dare Tour.

Enter the Alison Dare photo contest hosted by Tundra Books.