Paul Pope talks about writing for a new fanbase, the Battling Boy universe, and the newest book in the series, "The Rise of Aurora West."
Charlie Chang: “Battling Boy” has been such a success and I’m personally really looking forward to exploring more of this universe. What have you enjoyed so far about the success of the book and the series?
Paul Pope: The cool thing with doing this series is it falls into the purview of Young Adult, I’ve never had kid fans before and I do panels with Young Adult fiction and science fiction writers and that’s very interesting. It’s a completely different world. I’m used to Comic-Con and the culture and collecting and I have a lot of fans and peers in the industry at Comic-Con. It’s really amazing going to schools to do talks and to see Battling Boy in libraries and school libraries. Meeting twelve year olds who are fans of my work.
CC: I feel like kids have an automatic response to whether something is cool or uncool, good or bad, right or wrong. Since they’ve just been gravitating towards Battling Boy and Adventure Time and so many of the other great all-ages comics being written right now. For these fans, what is the difference between “The Rise of Aurora West” and “Battling Boy”?
PP: Well, this is the first time that I’ve worked on a series drawn by another artist. It’s drawn by David Rubin, he’s a Spanish artist. I deliberately wanted a European artist and specifically a Spanish artist. I feel like everyone knows about the French cartoonists and the Italians and there are so many other talented people out there and I’ve been wanted to work with David for a long time. We collaborated on illustrations before and I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. Luckily he had time and he’s quick so he’s able to do two books in one year. The format is also different. This one is 160 pages so the Aurora story completed is about 360 pages. “Battling Boy” clocks in at about 450.
CC: What are you most excited for fans of “Battling Boy” to experience that’s new?
PP: Well you know, this is really for the fans of Aurora and for fans of Haggard West. All of people have been asking me, “Are we going to see more of Aurora?” “Are Battling Boy and Aurora going to hook up?”
“Why did you kill Haggard so fast? He’s really awesome” So now we get to see the story of Haggard and learn about the West family. What happened to the mom.
CC: Was digging deeper into these characters something you were always planning on doing or did it come out of the desire of fans to learn more?
PP: When it looked like “Battling Boy” was doing well, I had a meeting with the editorial staff and they asked me if I had any other ideas for this universe and I said “Yeah I do actually.” I rattled off two or three different things and decided that the logical choice would be to start with Aurora and if it does well there are other things we can do. The storytelling is very different. “Battling Boy” takes place in roughly two weeks. The story of Aurora is her entire life. It goes from her infancy up through the time she’s 16 and first meets “Battling Boy.” It’s funny because “Battling Boy” is two books and “The Rise of Aurora West” is two books but Aurora is in all four books so we get much more of her interior world than we do of Battling Boy but he’s supposed to be a cipher. Gods are sort of unapproachable right as characters right? Luckily he’s a boy so he acts like a kid. He does boy things. He has boy fears and he’s aloof. He likes boy foods, he’s got that ambrosia he likes.
CC: I know this is a graphic novel so it’s different than weekly serial comics but for some reason in my mind it reminds me of a Manga. That just feels like the format that my brain wants to fit this series into.
PP: Yeah, you know, I worked in Japan for five years in the 90s and there was a long period when I looked at nothing but Manga and I loved the energy and the visceral quality of Manga. The way that it puts you more into the moment. It’s very different from American comics in that way. It’s very experimental, there’s also Manga that’s really kind of pedestrian but the good stuff is really its own visual language. So after Batman: Year 100 I knew I wanted to do something very different. I don’t want to say lighthearted but something intended for a younger audience that’s still kickass. It’s funny too because that was before Marvel put out the Thor movie. I wanted to blend all the exciting energy of Silver Age comics with the sexy gritty and cool European comics like Heavy Metal magazine from the 70s with the visual energy of Manga.
CC: That’s exactly right, it’s got this Silver Surfer inserted into a Manga feel.
PP: Yeah exactly, the funny thing is the only books I’m looking at are Moebius and a little bit of Hugo Pratt and Jack Kirby. That’s about all I look at.
This interview was conducted and transcribed by Kindle Comics expert Charlie Chang. Interested in comics and graphic novels? Sign up for Comics Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in comics each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from creators.