Titan Comics just released their new graphic novel, Normandy Gold, a vigilante thriller from creators Megan Abbott (You Will Know Me, HBO’s The Deuce), Alison Gaylan (What Remains of Me) and artist Steve Scott (Batman, X-Men Forever, JLA). As part of their Blog tour, our very own James Enstall had the opportunity to interview Megan and Alison about their newest project and it’s origins.
Geeks WorldWide: You say this was born out of your mutual love of 70s movies. Was this a culmination of various plot threads you saw in the movies or was this a story that you always wanted to tell and the movies just prompted you to go ahead and tell it?
Alison Gaylan: I think it was more the world of these movies rather than specific plot threads that inspired us. We wanted to create a story with the same, gritty, paranoid feel as films like Hardcore, Taxi Driver and Parallax View, with a single-minded, revenge-consumed protagonist like Charles Bronson in the Death Wish movies, or Lee Marvin in Point Blank. And we wanted her to be a woman.
Megan Abbott: Yeah, we really just wanted to enter the world of those films, but with a character you likely wouldn’t find in them. Normandy became our avatar to enter the seamy 70s cinemascape.
GWW: When I first saw the image of Johnny Deeper, I immediately thought of Sam Elliott from ‘Roadhouse’. Was I imagining this? Or was that intentional?
AG: Good eye! We actually included a lot of visuals in our script – and many of those visuals happened to be movie stills and headshots…
MA: Certain characters, especially the secondary ones, were directly inspired by actors (Nancy Allen, for instance, and PJ Soles—how’s that for an obscure 70s reference?) or certain scenes (like the diner one in Taxi Driver, which influenced a scene with Normandy and Charity).
GWW: Modern technology (I.E. cell phones, text messages, internet) takes away some of the “allure” of mysteries such as this one. Did you find it simpler and more rewarding telling a period piece for that reason?
AG: Yes, I think the thing that sets these 70s thrillers apart from their modern counterparts is that feeling of isolation on the part of the protagonist. That’s a lot harder to achieve in a world in which everyone is connected. Also, there is something about reel-to-reel tape as an image that I find incredibly foreboding. It could be a Watergate thing.
MA: The analog nature of the 70s—there’s a weird nostalgia in it now, for me as much as anyone. And yet that nostalgia doesn’t strip these objects of their power. On the contrary, because it makes us think now we can’t even the mechanisms of surveillance. They’re invisible.
GWW: While the story certainly has a tangible grit to it, is it a story that necessarily had to be told in the 70’s era or would it have worked just as well in, say, the 80’s or 90’s and, if you were to update it to one of those decades, what do you think would have fundamentally changed about the story?
AG: I imagine it could have been told in either of those eras, but I think the 70s was a uniquely cynical time, in which distrust for all institutions – the government, the police – was pervasive. I think if we’d updated it to the Reagan Era or the Clinton Era, that distrust might have been subtler. Sexual politics too were darker back then… Interestingly, I think it’s a story we could have set in the present day easier than in the 80s or 90s.
MA: The disillusionment of the 70s—I guess that only comes once. After that, there’s not a strong enough faith in traditional institutions to experience disillusionment on that scale again.
GWW: Are there any plans for a sequel or even a possible on-going “Normandy Gold” series? If so, where would you envision her going from here?
AG: No definite plans, but we have discussed it, and I’d love to work with Megan – and Normandy – again. We did come up with another story for her, in which she did some work for the government and became enmeshed in a plot that had a bit of an Apocalypse Now feel.
MA: Yes, we got a story up our sleeves!
GWW: If this were to be made into a movie in the next year or so, who would you envision playing the main parts?
AG: Well, we did envision Mark Ruffalo as Sturgis when we wrote the script, but I also think Ryan Gosling would do in a pinch. And Eva Mendes would be great as Normandy. I could also see Margot Robbie in the part. Or Beyonce. (Ah, to dream…) How about you, Megan?
MA: Those sound good to me! Maybe Eiza Gonzalez from Baby Driver as Normandy?
GWW: You obviously had a lot of inspiration that you mentioned from various films and this story flows so incredibly well. Were there any moments of Writer’s Block during the process or did it flow seamlessly from conceptualization to printing?
AG: I feel like that’s where collaborating worked to our advantage. We did a lot of brainstorming. If one of us got tripped up, we’d get on the phone and hash out ideas. We were so much on the same wavelength throughout the writing process. For me, it was the most fun and least amount of torture I’ve ever experienced writing.
MA: Whenever one of us would slow down, the other’s enthusiasm would spark us again. The ideal collaborative spirit!
GWW: What would be the most important element of this graphic novel to you? What would you tell the average reader about it to encourage them to go out and buy it?
AG: When we wrote it, we’d never seen a thriller that was driven by female rage. And I still think it’s rather unique in that way. Normandy isn’t a victim, a superhero or a femme fatale. She’s just very pissed off. I find that very compelling.
MA: Normandy really speaks to this moment in ways we couldn’t have anticipated. And she’s also kind of eternal. A force for justice for women. That’s evergreen.
If you are interested to learn more about Normandy Gold check out the trailer below and head to your local comic book shop or ComiXology to pick up a copy.