Carole is a Professor of English at Alverno College in Milwaukee, WI, where, among other things literary, she teaches a course titled, ‘The Future in Film and Fiction.’ She’s a regular reviewer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, and a regional NBC morning show.
We were recently invited, along with several other sites, to put a few questions to Carole E Barrowman about her joint venture with her Brother to write a comic strip for Torchwood Magazine. We’d like to say thanks to Carole E. Barrowman and Ricky Claydon for the opportunity.
“John and I first got the idea for a Captain Jack story in the summer of 2007. We met the artists, Tommy Lee Edwards and Trevor Goring, at ComicCon last year. Once we got the go-ahead from Torchwood Magazine, we had a really quick turn around from story to script to finished comic . . . maybe two months.”
“My short story had nothing to do with Captain Jack in its initial form, but when John and I started brainstorming a story for the comic that’s when he said my story should be a Captain Jack tale. We imagined a number of ways Jack might be involved and eventually came up with the version you’ll see in the magazine.”
“I’ve been a fan of comics and graphic novels for a long time so I always thought I’d like to write one if the opportunity arose. I never imagined my first one would be in collaboration with John and such terrific artists.”
“It was different, but I don’t think it was more difficult. Because a comic demands the collaboration of a number of people, the process was much more interactive, which made it easier for me because the work was spread among a number of people; on the other hand, it also made it harder because I had to be willing to let the images carry as much of the plot as my words. I had to be succinct and every word had to carry its weight. In a comic the story’s exposition has to be a balance between the visual and the verbal.”
“I’ve never been to the Orkney Islands-although my parents took me to John O’Groats, a village at the northern most tip of Scotland, in a caravan when I was an infant. I’m a fan of the gothic so the remote setting appealed to my literary sensibilities.”
“Yes. It truly was a collaborative project. For example, when Tommy and Trevor started to imagine the panels, it was important to the story that certain visual details be in place from the beginning (can’t say what without giving too much away . . . sorry). At the same time, my script asked for a flashback scene involving Captain Jack and when Trevor emailed me with a suggestion for what he’d like to add to the flashback I agreed and wrote it in.”
“A selkie, an enchanted seal, is at the heart of the story. It’s based on an ancient Celtic myth and the images of a selkie are as varied as the many versions of the myth. I sent Tommy and Trevor my original short story while John and I fleshed out the details for the Captain Jack version. Tommy’s selkie goes far beyond what I imagined . . .”
“Definitely. Getting to see Captain Jack in action up close really helped. After John and I had worked out the details of the story and I started to write the script if I wanted to know ”what would Jack do?” I’d just call him.”
“Interesting question. I think so, yes. Understanding the mystery helped me think about the level of mystification we wanted in the plot and I think it helped with the story’s pacing.”
“I think reviewing the work of others keeps me honest as a writer. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. I also know there are lots of good writers out there who never find the audience they deserve. I try not to forget that. I’m very grateful for all the new readers my collaboration with John has brought me.”
“I’m not sure it surprised me but I was definitely impressed by the layers of technical expertise that go into the creation of a comic . . .”
“By far, it’s much more than John or I imagined when we began.”
“I’d love to write more about Captain Jack.”
“We can never have too many stories, so, yes, a place for both. If they’re well written, I love interpretations, re-imaginings, re-tellings of all kinds, and sometimes the thrill is discovering a new version that surpasses its original. The new ”Battlestar Galactica” is brilliant television. It’s an example of an interpretation that’s exceeded its original source. One of my favorite novels is Jane Austen’s Emma, and I love Amy Heckerling’s Clueless too.”