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Andy Diggle

Andy Diggle's Q&A thread

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Evenin' all...

 

So John and Ade have known for a while now that I'm taking over HELLBLAZER, and they've done an admirable job of keeping it to themselves. Now the cat's out of the can of worms, or whatever the phrase is, Ade's sent me a few questions to answer. I thought I might as well turn it into a full blown Q&A thread, so feel free to fire away. I can't guarantee I'll check in every day or that I'll answer every question, but I'll do me best and I'll answer honestly or not at all. Fair enough?

 

Over to Ade:

 

Several world authorities on Hellblazer (okay, I'll say "people" instead) have observed that most of your successes have been in action adventure books, how does that sit with your intentions for Hellblazer ?

 

I think that’s a perfectly reasonable concern for HELLBLAZER fans. But the fact is, I’m not a one-trick pony, and after having written pretty much nothing but action/adventure books for the past few years, I’m looking forward to a change of pace and style. HELLBLAZER has always been driven by character, dialogue and mood - so don’t panic, I won’t be trying to shoehorn car chases and exploding helicopters in there.

 

Case in point: in my first issue...

... Constantine spends the entire issue handcuffed to a wooden post in the River Thames, trying to talk his way out of drowning before the tide rises.

No action, just character, mood and dialogue.

 

Of course, that’s only ‘cause they made me re-write my original version where he’s hanging from the undercarriage of a helicopter whilst being chased by a pack of ravening gun-wielding mutant werewolves...

 

(Kidding!)

 

You said that you have two parts in mind for your run on the book, does that mean you have a finite number of issues planned ?

 

I’ve agreed to see the book through its 20th anniversary and at least on to issue 250, for which I have big plans. After that I’ll make a decision based on how it’s all going.

 

What is your take on the continuity of Hellblazer? Wealth of characters to play with (living, dead or demon) or albatross ?

 

I don’t see it as “continuity” so much as “history”. It’s just this guy’s life story - it’s not like he’s fucking Hawkman, y’know? So yeah, I definitely fall into the “wealth of characters” camp. At the same time, I think Constantine has always worked best as a bit of a loner. I don’t see him as someone who needs an entourage. He picks people up as and when he needs them in a given situation. If you wanted to be harsh about it, you could say he’ll bring in whoever he needs to use.

 

But I’m not huge fan of soap opera, so don’t expect to see a lot of the current “supporting cast” milling around in the background, or Constantine spending every issue down the pub with his mates. I’m also not a fan of bringing characters back from the dead, or just casually popping down to Hell for a quick chat. That’s already a comic-book cliché anyway, and HB’s supernatural milieu makes it way too easy.

 

I like the idea of using very minor characters who might just have been glimpsed or barely mentioned in the past, like John “Pearly” Grey or Eddie Morgan. Characters so obscure they aren’t even listed in Vertigo’s “Hellblazer Bible” - so I might occasionally ask around here to fact-check my “where are they now” continuity.

 

(Speaking of which, check out HB # 226 for a nice continuity-catch from Denise Mina on the Triumvirate).

 

Are there any specific Hellblazer loose ends that you want to tackle ?

 

No. I already made that mistake on Swamp Thing.

 

You said in the Newsarama interview that you'd have a twisted view on Blair's Britain. Given that the Thatcher issue sits as a perfect historical work, whereas some of the other current affairs in Hellblazer has dated, how will you approach the Blairite culture ?

 

Personally I’m not convinced the Demon Yuppies issue has dated all that well, to be honest. Alright, it’s mostly played for laughs, but I thought the way Constantine casually wandered down to the Financial District of Hell for a cosy chat with the Lord of Flatulence would be way too glib for today’s HELLBLAZER. But, y’know, horses for courses. I thought Mike Carey did a good job of making the prospect of "going to Hell" a lot more... well, hellish.

 

My point is, you write stories about the world you see around you. Delano happened to be writing during the Thatcher era, I happen to be writing it during Blair’s. I just grab that ball and run with it. If there’s one thing I learned from Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING, it’s that you can write supernatural horror stories with a point.

 

Right. Who's next... ?

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Your interview has assuaged some of my niggling doubts I had.

Especially reading the spoilers of your first issue.

Very fine interview! Love your sense of humour too!

I'll be buying your Green Arrow:Year One series! Yes, I suck up to all the writers who stop here.

 

I liked your comments about John only bringing in people "he needed to use".

I'm glad to see that this habit of John bringing around a pack of friends/family everywhere he goes, as we saw at the end of Carey's run and currently in Mina's run will be coming to an end!

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But I’m not huge fan of soap opera, so don’t expect to see a lot of the current “supporting cast” milling around in the background, or Constantine spending every issue down the pub with his mates.

 

For this alone, could kiss you.

 

But I won't.

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HELLBLAZER has always been driven by character, dialogue and mood

 

Christ...Not another one, I've been lobbying to get rid of those elements since day one. Nows a perfect time to get rid of the dated trenchcoat, and pull out the red spandex suit and thigh high boots for John...

 

I won’t be trying to shoehorn car chases and exploding helicopters in there.

 

Good...those are tired cliche's. Instead John can chase a helicopter while throwing burning cars at it using his newly discovered meta powers of flight and superstrength.

 

Of course, I'm sure upper management block you in this move to greatness because they are afraid of the tantrums the "fan" community will throw. That's OK...I forgive you. Give them their faggy character, dialogue and mood for an issue or two, and then have him move to LA, dye his hair black and be granted with a holy shotgun. That way you can have some action and the "fans" will be mollified.

 

Oooh...If fact, give him TWO holy shotguns that he uses, one in each hand...and have him bit by a werewolf AND a vampire AT THE SAME TIME! That would RULE!!!

 

-b

 

-b

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... Constantine spends the entire issue handcuffed to a wooden post in the River Thames, trying to talk his way out of drowning before the tide rises.

 

I like the sound of that a lot. I've been, oooh, a wee bit critical of you in that other thread but I do like the sound of all this political business and I'll come to this with an open mind (not that I imagine you care one bit!).

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Oooh...If fact, give him TWO holy shotguns that he uses, one in each hand...and have him bit by a werewolf AND a vampire AT THE SAME TIME! That would RULE!!!

 

It certainly sounds like an exciting threesome.

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A.D. (do you mind if I call you that? There's a regular here named Andy, and Mr. Diggle sounds too much like a pornstar) do you have any plans to use any of the major characters from the past in additon to the minor characters?

 

Will the First of the Fallen ever pop up?

I ask not because I want to see him, but because I'd like to be warned in advance.

 

Will you ever have John address his age?

He seems to have stopped aging since his 40th and I wonder if maybe he's slowing down in recent years (Carey seemed to indirectly hint at this at the end of his run).

 

Any love interests planned? And are they all female? (Just kidding.)

 

Thanks for stopping by and interacting with us.

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Just for the record; I think The First Of The Fallen is one of the worst villains ever.

 

Not that my opinion counts for much but I thought I'd put it out there nonetheless.

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Andy welcome. Loved Adam Strange, by the way. I too am have many doubts fade away.

 

A few questions:

 

-How will you handle John's speech? "Americanized"? English?

 

-Will John be sticking close to home or will he be globe trotting?

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Just for the record; I think The First Of The Fallen is one of the worst villains ever.

 

Not that my opinion counts for much but I thought I'd put it out there nonetheless.

 

He was really cool back in Dangerous Habits.

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Andy, are you planning to go with a subtle-nearly nonexistent supernatural presence (Brian Azzarello), classical mythology based supernatural beings (Garth Ennis) or free for all magic/beasties/monsters/thingies (Mike Carey) during your run? Or a combination?

 

I ask because HB is - among other things, naturally - a horror comic and I like it when people remember that. It's part of why I hated Azzarello's run and went batty with excitement while reading Carey's. It's great when there's a well defined supernatural undercurrent comprised of plenty of interesting types. Not so great when Constantine spends a bunch of issues running around after hillbillies, Nazis and dogs. I know you mentioned doing 'supernatural horror stories' so I'm sure it won't go that far but I was just wondering about the nature/execution of said supernatural elements. I'm probably asking too much here...

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Just for the record; I think The First Of The Fallen is one of the worst villains ever.

 

Not that my opinion counts for much but I thought I'd put it out there nonetheless.

 

He was really cool back in Dangerous Habits.

 

I think Carey did a good job of making him a proper enemy in "Down in the Ground...". A few more appearances like that would be okay, I think, so long as they were few and far between.

 

A quick question: it might be a bit early to say now, but do you plan to follow the "long arcs seperated by smaller or one-issue stores" format used by Mina, Azzarello and the latter part of Carey's run, or will there be runs of shorter, single-issue stories like we had with Ellis, Jenkins and Delano?

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Alright Andy, nice to see you here man.

 

James asked the one question I'd have myself about your run, I'm personally missing the shorter Hellblazer stories, so I'd be interested in knowing if you're at the point where you know what structure at least the opening part of your run will take ?

 

Oh, and if you could maybe let slip who'll be doing the issue between Denise's last and your first, that'd be aces!

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But I’m not huge fan of soap opera, so don’t expect to see a lot of the current “supporting cast” milling around in the background, or Constantine spending every issue down the pub with his mates.

 

For this alone, could kiss you.

 

But I won't.

 

 

SHOCK BROOKSIDE-STYLE GAY KISS IN HELLENDERS !

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do you have any plans to use any of the major characters from the past in additon to the minor characters?

I don’t have any specific plans to at the moment, but it’s always possible.

 

Will the First of the Fallen ever pop up?

Again, no plans, but never say never.

 

Will you ever have John address his age?

He seems to have stopped aging since his 40th and I wonder if maybe he's slowing down in recent years (Carey seemed to indirectly hint at this at the end of his run).

Quite possibly. He’s starting to feel his age, although he certainly doesn’t look the 50-odd he should be, although that could be explained by the restorative power of the demon blood.

 

... And before we get into some nit-picky continuity argument about whether Constantine still has any demon blood in him, or whether shagging Ellie would be any kind of substitute, let me just nip that one in the bud. As Constantine tore out the Demon Constantine’s throat in Hell, we can happily assume some of that tainted blood got back into his system when he swallowed it. Case closed. Move along, nothing to see here.

 

Any love interests planned? And are they all female? (Just kidding.)

Hell is other people. John’s going it alone for awhile.

 

How will you handle John's speech? "Americanized"? English?

Certainly not Americanized. He’ll speak like a Londoner with a slightly Scouse twang (hence “ennit” rather than “innit” etc). But he won’t be quite as gorblimey as some have written him - I’ve lived in London for 35 years and I’ve never once heard a native use the word “strewth”.

 

I’m using a fair bit of British slang, and I’m not going to worry about how well it translates across the pond unless the editor asks me to change it. I don’t think anyone wants Keanu-speak.

 

Will John be sticking close to home or will he be globe trotting?

London and the UK for starters, with a bit of globe-trotting later on.

 

Incidentally, I think some fans have been bang out of order in criticising certain writers for taking John off his “home turf”. It was always one of Constantine’s key defining traits that he was international. Alan Moore had Constantine popping up all over America and later Brazil, and the first issue of HELLBLAZER takes him from New York to London to Sudan. He gets around.

 

Andy, are you planning to go with a subtle-nearly nonexistent supernatural presence (Brian Azzarello), classical mythology based supernatural beings (Garth Ennis) or free for all magic/beasties/monsters/thingies (Mike Carey) during your run? Or a combination?

More overtly supernatural than Brian, less overtly supernatural than Mike. Anything goes in the cosmology of HELLBLAZER, so it’ll be less specifically Judeo-Christian in its cosmology than, say, Garth’s run. It’s more about magic than religion.

 

it might be a bit early to say now, but do you plan to follow the "long arcs separated by smaller or one-issue stores" format used by Mina, Azzarello and the latter part of Carey's run, or will there be runs of shorter, single-issue stories like we had with Ellis, Jenkins and Delano?

Personally I think HELLBLAZER lends itself very well to short, one or two-issue stories, and I think they work best as the mortar between the bricks of longer arcs. A long run of short stories can start to feel slightly uninvolving and disposable.

 

What would you guys prefer to see? Longer arcs, short stories, what kind of mix? Just curious...

 

I'd be interested in knowing if you're at the point where you know what structure at least the opening part of your run will take ?

The opening story is just two issues, just to whet yer whistle. Then a longer story of 4 or 5 issues, also set in London. I’m still hammering out the issue breakdowns, but the first issue’s already written.

 

Oh, and if you could maybe let slip who'll be doing the issue between Denise's last and your first, that'd be aces!

I believe it’ll be a stand-alone short story by Mike Carey and John Paul Leon, but don’t quote me.

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it might be a bit early to say now, but do you plan to follow the "long arcs separated by smaller or one-issue stores" format used by Mina, Azzarello and the latter part of Carey's run, or will there be runs of shorter, single-issue stories like we had with Ellis, Jenkins and Delano?

Personally I think HELLBLAZER lends itself very well to short, one or two-issue stories, and I think they work best as the mortar between the bricks of longer arcs. A long run of short stories can start to feel slightly uninvolving and disposable.

 

What would you guys prefer to see? Longer arcs, short stories, what kind of mix? Just curious...

 

I'd be interested in knowing if you're at the point where you know what structure at least the opening part of your run will take ?

The opening story is just two issues, just to whet yer whistle. Then a longer story of 4 or 5 issues, also set in London. I’m still hammering out the issue breakdowns, but the first issue’s already written.

 

You answer your own question for me.

Nothing too long, but perhaps a way to weave the stories together later - American Gothic style.

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Personally I think HELLBLAZER lends itself very well to short, one or two-issue stories, and I think they work best as the mortar between the bricks of longer arcs. A long run of short stories can start to feel slightly uninvolving and disposable.

 

What would you guys prefer to see? Longer arcs, short stories, what kind of mix? Just curious...

 

I'd quite like to see a little run of done-in-one (or, I suppose, through-in-two) stories, like we got with Jenkins and Ellis, and in the first bit of Carey's run, between Red Sepulchre and Staring at the Wall. I can see what you're saying about it seeming 'disposeable' or maybe creating too many jumping-off points though.

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Will the First of the Fallen ever pop up?

Again, no plans, but never say never.

 

Oh, can we please say 'never'? Please?

 

In other words, what Tom said.

 

do you plan to follow the "long arcs separated by smaller or one-issue stores" format used by Mina, Azzarello and the latter part of Carey's run, or will there be runs of shorter, single-issue stories like we had with Ellis, Jenkins and Delano?

Personally I think HELLBLAZER lends itself very well to short, one or two-issue stories, and I think they work best as the mortar between the bricks of longer arcs. A long run of short stories can start to feel slightly uninvolving and disposable.

 

What would you guys prefer to see? Longer arcs, short stories, what kind of mix? Just curious...

 

As Ade suggested, I'm heartily in favour of a diverse range of mid-length (4-5 issues, max) stories linked by a wider theme running through the background, a la American Gothic, with the occasional stand-alone 1- or 2-parter breaking them up. I think we've had a few too many epic 6-12 issue arcs of late, and it's sapped some of my enthusium for the title. But hey, that's just me.

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I'm not fond of the 6 part or longer length story-arcs.

I'm tired of the "these are all self-contained stories, but they all add up to one huge story through interconnectedness".

I don't like that format on Hellblazer at all. It gives John's life more of a purpose than I feel it should have. John's life should be random, existential.

I'd like to see larger story-arcs mixed with short stories, every so often a standalone issue. I'd like to see non-genre stories every so often, where John deals with an issue from his life or the fact that he's bored with life, before the next crisis comes along. More like the Paul Jenkins era format, only with a much more miserable John. You can see it's all happening in the life of John Constantine, but there's no big overarching plot connecting everything that happens.

And once again, for the "Hell is other people" comment....Thank you!

I'm quite excited about your run now.

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What would you guys prefer to see? Longer arcs, short stories, what kind of mix? Just curious...

Short stories, and I'd prefer not to have any longer arcs in the mix. Thanks for asking our opinions, and best of luck with the job.

 

I thought I might as well turn it into a full blown Q&A thread, so feel free to fire away. I can't guarantee I'll check in every day or that I'll answer every question, but I'll do me best and I'll answer honestly or not at all.

What happens after we die? Where does love come from, and where does it go?

 

Any love interests planned? And are they all female? (Just kidding.)

Hell is other people. John’s going it alone for awhile.

Just a warning: the puerile fools on this forum get their pathetic jollies from that kind of accidental double entendre. I, of course, am above that sort of thing. In fact, I don't even know what I'm referring to. :huh:

 

 

I'm not fond of the 6 part or longer length story-arcs.

...

I'd like to see larger story-arcs mixed with short stories...

Why, if you're not fond of them? Masochism?

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6 part story-arcs? Usually always a waste of space.

4 part story-arcs? Just fine.

Longer story-arcs can be from 3-5 issues. 6 issues or longer is almost always stretching the plot. Sometimes 1 or 2 issues just aren't enough to fit the entire story in, unless you're Stan Lee.

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What happens after we die?

Soon after death (15–120 minutes depending on various factors), the body begins to cool (algor mortis), becomes pallid (pallor mortis), and internal sphincter muscles relax, leading to the release of urine, faeces, and stomach contents if the body is moved. The blood moves to pool in the lowest parts of the body, livor mortis (dependent lividity), within 30 minutes and then begins to coagulate. The body experiences muscle stiffening (rigor mortis) which peaks at around 12 hours after death and is gone in another 24 (depending on temperature) as enzymes begin to break down the tissues. Within a day, the body starts to show signs of decomposition (decay), both autolytic changes and from 'attacking' organisms—bacteria, fungi, insects, mammalian scavengers, etc. Internally, the body structures begin to collapse, the skin loses integration with the underlying tissues, and bacterial action creates gases which cause bloating and swelling. The rate of decay is enormously variable and depends on numerous factors. Thus, a body may be reduced to skeletal remains in days, though it is possible under certain conditions for remains to stay largely intact for many years.

 

... Man, I love Wikipedia!

 

Where does love come from, and where does it go?

Love is a survival trait which has evolved to increase the probability of parents' DNA being successfully passed on to the next generation. It ceases to exist upon death.

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