Wednesday, May 10, 2006

INTERVIEW: Who has a CRUSH on Jason Hall?

[Interview for Toon Zone News: 24th October 2003]

CRUSH is the sixth title to be released through Dark Horse's new adventure comic line - Rocket Comics. This dark tale is the latest project from comic writer Jason Hall. Along with Star Wars Tales artist Sean Murphy, CRUSH takes us into the deeply confusing life of a young teenage girl who has to come to terms with the monster that lurks within her.

Toon Zone recently spoke to CRUSH writer Jason Hall about the new title.

Toon Zone: How did you get involved in writing CRUSH?

Jason Hall: I had been doing a good deal of work for editor Dave Land with my stories regularly appearing in STAR WARS TALES. He liked what I was doing on those and I think we both wanted to work on something together that wasn't Star Wars. When he and Dark Horse decided to start their ROCKET COMICS line of books, Dave asked if I'd be interested in doing one and I told him I was definitely in. I was given the very basic couple sentence pitch/premise for CRUSH and was told to run with it. And that's what I did -- creating the world of the book, the story direction, the back story, etc., from the ground up. It's been a lot of fun.

TZ: What will make CRUSH stand out above the rest?

Hall: CRUSH is about dealing with all different types of monsters: both the everyday (abusive parents, paranoid neighbors, high school punks) and those that are more "out there" (deadly agents of mysterious organizations, giant brutish goliaths, and nerdy teenage wolf creatures). and while most of us may be able to keep that "monster" we've all got inside of us in check, Liz Mason literally finds herself unable to do this. She's got a lot of built-up frustration and rage inside of her -- and because of a startling transformation on her eighteenth birthday, it's all coming to the surface. And it just may lead Liz to discover the terrible truth about her past and who she really is. Actually, you can probably bet on it!

In it's own way, CRUSH deals with all the self-discovery and change everyone goes through when becoming an adult -- physically and mentally. Liz's life is spiraling out of control in so many was, and I think that's something we can all relate to. But it's not all "oh, it's so hard to deal with change, woe is me!" Not at all. The book really does have it all -- there's action, humor, suspense, mystery, drama, romance, a bit of horror -- so hopefully there's something for everyone in there. At the same time, I think it's the introspective and emotional side of the book that will make it stand out as something different. All the ROCKET COMICS titles are pretty varied in genre and theme, etc. -- and I'd have to say that CRUSH is very different from what's come so far. It's definitely its own entity. I like to think of it as the "black sheep" of the ROCKET COMICS family. And I mean that in a good way!

TZ: From the images I've seen, Sean Murphy has done some great work on the title. What did Sean bring to the final product from the perspective of the writer?

Hall: Sean does a great job with visual story-telling. There are many sequences in the book that even without any dialogue you could easily follow the gist of the story. I write full-script -- and my scripts tend to be pretty detailed, but Sean has also added a few little moments here and there in the art that drives home the emotion of a scene. The art needs tell the story in conjunction with the writing and not simply rely on the writing itself to get the story across. I'm not a fan of comics that have large panels with two characters talking back and forth so the one panel is filled with a ton of dialogue balloons. That just might as well be an image with some text. Comics (to me) should be more than that -- and it's the writer and the artist working together and communicating that allows that to happen.

TZ: Female lead characters becoming more popular in comics. Does that make defining a memorable female character such as Elizabeth Mason more difficult?

Hall: I don't think so. I enjoy writing female protagonists, as evident from BEWARE THE CREEPER and PISTOLWHIP: THE YELLOW MENACE, and CRUSH itself not only has Liz, but also her best friend Jen Tanaka and the deadly Agent Bixby. But I don't think you can really go into it thinking "I need to make this character memorable" -- you just write characters that you feel are interesting and hope readers feel the same. I always hate to break anything down into its parts because then it becomes more of a science experiment than writing a story. I don't believe in formula at all. I just do what I think is best and most entertaining.

TZ: How does writing an original tale like CRUSH compare to writing for an already established universe such as some of the DC/Dark Horse titles you work on?

Hall: Well, there is certainly the freedom of having an entirely open slate from the start. On one hand, it's always fun to be able to write stories featuring iconic DC or Star Wars characters -- especially when you've always enjoyed those characters yourself. But with your own "world", you get to decide what happens to each an every person in it. You get to map out the future as well as the past. You can't go and cut off Batman's arm, but if I want to cut off Liz's arm in a story, there's no stopping me! That's what makes the PISTOLWHIP stuff (with co-creator Matt Kindt) so much fun as well -- it's your own world to play in. And I'm having a great time both creating and playing in the world of CRUSH.

But with most comics, their fate depends on sales and there was no guarantee how long CRUSH would go on -- but I made the decision to write the book as an on-going series for which I was in for the long-haul. I really strove to create characters with some depth and plenty of secrets. I basically put together an entire mythology for the book. This first four-issue arc is just the beginning of a much larger story that I'm eager to tell. I hope the book has a long life because I'm really looking forward to delving more into her character and past. Every character has a story to be told, a history to be revealed and examined, and I'm hoping to get the chance to tell those stories down the road. The first story-arc has a lot of surprises and revelations but also raises a number of new questions and mysteries, and I think the reader is going to have a lot of fun taking this journey with Liz.

Let's all hope it's a long one -- and you can help make it last by picking up a copy on October 29th!

TZ: Any projects you are also currently working on you'd like to tell us about?

Hall: I've got my second issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES coming up in #28 -- with artwork by Min S. Ku and Ty Templeton (I've seen Min's pencils, and they're phenomenal!). And it features The Legion of Super-Heroes! I've also written a follow-up to my Mr. Freeze story from GOTHAM ADVENTURES that will be appearing in an upcoming issue of BATMAN ADVENTURES, with artwork by the current cover artist on that book, Kelsey Shannon. I also just had a story in the recently released STAR WARS TALES #17 with artwork by Ben Templesmith, and I'll have stories in #18 and #19 as well. Plus, I've got a short two-part story featuring my favorite Golden Age character coming up, as well as a potentially major project that I can't announce just yet until it's official. I hope everyone will check that stuff out!

TZ: Finally, CRUSH deals with the manifestations of monsters. Is the CRUSH character Agent Bixby's name homage to TV's Incredible Hulk actor, the late Bill Bixby?

Hall: But of course!

CRUSH #1 was released on Wednesday 29th October 2003.

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