FOR TOMMY: MIKE CAREY
crept up on me unawares. Like some kind of banana in pyjamas.
I'd read a fair few bits of his work before I knew who he was,
and from the moment he started working on Lucifer, I was able
to follow his career forward and backwards through my back issue
Even during this
interview, there were a few pieces that I had to go rummaging
through the boxes to find, that I had no idea he worked on.
Including my block of Toxic!, the outrageous weekly comic
that burnt like Icarus. An incontinent Icarus.
Carey currently writes Hellblazer and Lucifer. He's a greedy
sod though, and he wants a lot more. Let's go hear him talk.
JOHNSTON: You followed the path into American comics that
used to be quite common but now seems to have fallen by the
wayside. Get published by 2000AD, get published by American
indie publishing, get picked up by one of the Big Two. I think
next you're meant to become a magician, a recluse or a friend
of the media glitterati. Sometimes all three. You seem to
walk the tightrope between "old hat" to some folks and "new,
untested guy" to others. The worst of both worlds, or a combination
of reliability and freshness of voice?
MIKE CAREY: I guess I did do that, only I didn't do
it through 2000AD - my initial UK work was for the short-lived
Toxic! anthology title from Trident Publishing. After that
I did do U.S. indie work, and used that as a calling card
at DC. But I wrote the Lucifer and Petrefax minis before getting
anything published in 2000AD - and then I separately sent
Andy Diggle a Future Shock (or Pulp Sci-Fi, as it briefly
was) pitch, which was accepted.
Damn my vicious memory. Okay, back to the issue bins.
Am I old hat? I'm certainly old school, as far as Vertigo
is concerned, in that I do horror fantasy rather than neo-noir
or action thriller. But that's as much an accident of history
as anything else. The stuff I was submitting to Vertigo was
Sandman-esque because Neil was my strongest influence at the
time - and once you've got your niche, you find that initially
the work that people offer you relates very closely to the
work you've already done. I think I'm getting a chance now
to prove that I can work in different registers and different
genres, and maybe I'll be less likely to be typecast in future.
But I know there's
another level to that question. Yeah, I've been writing for
about five years now in the mainstream, and that's long enough
so that a lot of people will know my name without necessarily
having read my stuff: the combination of familiar name without
stupendously-successful-project attached leads to exactly
that ambiguous status. "Oh, he's been around for ever. Who
the hell is he...?"
Well, just who the hell are you, Mike Carey? And what qualifies
you to write about the devil?
MIKE: I grew up in Liverpool. My Dad was Catholic.
My Mum was Anglican. I think that qualifies me well enough
- not just in terms of having been given a lot of religious
education as I grew up, but also through living in an environment
in which religion was important. Like, day-to-day important.
A determining factor in your life. I remember trying to describe
this to a good friend after I'd gone to University down South.
But he didn't get it until we went back to Liverpool together
and went for a drink at my local. I introduced him to a cousin
of mine, Terry Jones, and the first question Terry asked this
guy, just so the conversation wouldn't proceed on any false
footing, was "Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?"
strong opinions about religion, and about the way religions
work both on a psychological and on a social level. I'm not
saying that I comment on these things from a position of great
subtlety or great learning, but what I say and what comes
out in my work is pretty much what I believe.
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