The GeeksverseMemorial And Chris Roberson

Memorial And Chris Roberson
Published on Sunday, March 11, 2012 by

Memorial is a new series published by IDW, written and created by Chris Roberson. We got a chance to talk with him recently.

Comixverse: Just got done reading Memorial #3. I’m really enjoying this series and like the way you’re telling the story. It feels like an illustrated novel in a way. What led to this style of writing for this story? Was Memorial originally meant to be a prose novel?

Chris Roberson: The original version of the idea, which bore little resemblance to the form that Memorial ultimately took, was originally going to be a prose novel. As time went on, the idea evolved in unexpected ways, and consumed other partially formed ideas along the way, turning into something quite different by the time it was fully developed. And even though it made more sense to tell the story as a comic, in the end, it retained a lot of the “storybook” feel that I had in mind when the idea was intended for prose.

There’s alot of elements thrown into this world. The idea of the three lands and rulers is interesting. Where did Memorial come from?

From several different places actually, as usually happens. The central idea of the young woman in the mysterious store that wanders from place to place actually had its genesis as an idea I was thinking about pitching to the BBC as a spinoff novel to Doctor Who. The idea quickly mutated in ways that meant that it wouldn’t fit in that world, after all, and so I never ended up pitching it. But at around the same time I was working on another idea about children’s literature and the fantastical landscapes that they often feature, and still another idea about physical embodiments of different aspects of the universe existing as a single extended family. It took me the better part of eight years to realize that all three ideas were really part of one bigger story.

How did the idea change from the original thoughts?

Besides the young woman, the old man, and the curiosity shop, very little of the original idea remains.

Since not much of the original idea remains, what was the original idea. Are there elements of it you wish you had retained?

Actually, I’m wary of saying too much what the original idea was at this point, for fear of spoiling the end of this first miniseries. The original notion is just similar enough to what we ended up doing that a canny reader would be able to reverse-engineer it to figure out just where things are heading. Ask me again in a few months!

This first volume is 6 issues long. How much more story is there to Memorial and when can we expect the next volume, if there is one (which I hope).

The world of Memorial is HUGE, and we could potentially continue to tell stories set in it indefinitely. That depends largely on reader interest, though, and how well the series sells, both in individual issues and in trade collections. We’re planning a second miniseries now, but how quickly it will come out depends in large part on the sales of the first issue in trade. So if you want to see more, recommend that your friends check the book out!

With the fourth issue coming out soon, how has the first volume changed from your initial plan?

As usually happens, the broad strokes of the plot haven’t changed much (with the same beginning and ending that I originally had in mind), but the details have changed considerably. That almost always happens in my stories, where I start out with a general skeleton of a plot outline, and then layer it up with unexpected bits of muscle and meat as I go along.

Where did the title, Memorial, come from?

There’s actually an in-story explanation for the title, that will be revealed in issue six. To say too much now might spoil it!

Where did you meet Rich Ellis and what made him perfect for this project?

I was introduced to Rich and his work by my pal Paul Tobin, who is studio-mates with Rich at Portland’s Periscope Studios. As soon as I saw Rich’s website, I knew he’d be the perfect artist for Memorial. He is equally as adept at depicting the fantastic as he is at the mundane, and that’s key for making a story like Memorial work.

Any chance of going back and making a Memorial novel?

It’s possible, but not terribly likely. Now that it’s a comic, I think I’d have a hard time coming up with Memorial stories that would work as anything OTHER than comics. But never say never, I guess!

You’re all over the place in the comics world lately. How did you break into the field and was this something you’ve always wanted to do?

I’ve wanted to write comics since I was eight years old, I think, just after I gave up my dreams of being a crime-fighting astronaut. It was really the only career I ever seriously considered. Of course, breaking into comics is extremely difficult, for writers in particular, so it took me until I was in my late 30s to manage it. Along the way I managed to build a career as a novelist and short story writer, because it turns out that, as difficult it is to break into the world of prose writing, it’s still marginally easier than breaking into comics.

As for how I broke into comics, it was a very simple and, I’m sure, repeatable process. I tried continuously to break in for twenty years, and then I got very, very lucky. That’s all you have to do, apparently!

The projects you’ve worked on have covered alot of ground. From Superman and Starborn to Cinderella. What do you look for in a project? What is your favorite genre to work in?

I don’t think that I have a favorite genre, actually. As a reader my tastes are fairly catholic and wide-ranging, and my tastes are a writer are just as diverse. If I had to read only one kind of story for the rest of my life I think it would get old very quickly, and I feel the same way about writing just one kind of story, too.

As far as choosing projects go, I ask myself a couple of very simple questions. “Does this seem like something that will be fun to work on?” and “Do I think I can tell an interesting story here?” (And “What are they going to pay me?”, of course…)

What’s next for you, besides hopefully more Memorial? I believe I read that you’re returning to Cinderella with your Fables collaborator Shawn McManus in the pages of Fairest?

Yes, indeed, Shawn and I are doing another Cinderella story. It began life as an idea for a third Cinderella miniseries, but along the way got subsumed into Fairest as one of the rotating story arcs.

In addition to Fairest and Memorial, I’m still chugging along on iZombie, and have a few more issues to go on Elric: The Balance Lost for BOOM! Studios. Beyond those, I have several creator-owned projects in the works, but it’s too soon to talk about any specifics, I’m afraid. Expect news in July!

Thanks to Chris for talking with us and make sure you pick up Memorial and his other work, including iZombie. Make sure to keep an eye out for the next Cinderella story in Fairest.

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