The Classics Never Go Out Of Fashion
Tripwire’s contributing writer Scott Braden just spoke to writer-artist P Craig Russell about working with Neil Gaiman again to bring Gaiman’s Norse Mythology to the world of comics…
With the assistance of Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell is adapting the multiple award-winning author’s Norse Mythology for Dark Horse Comics. Assisted by colorists Dave Stewart and Lovern Kindzierski and letterer Galen Showman, this new 18-issue series will feature covers by Russell with colours by Lovern Kindzierski and variant covers by David Mack.
“I fell in love with the Norse gods from reading about them in comics as a boy, so it’s only fitting that they return to the medium that started it,” said Norse Mythology creator Neil Gaiman. “I cannot wait to see P. Craig Russell and his collaborators tell the old stories for a new generation.”
After previously writing about these ancient deities in American Gods and The Sandman, Gaiman finally brings readers to follow the northern gods in their own setting in this comic book adaptation of the best-selling novel. Gaiman and Russell breathe new life into the classic Norse stories by taking readers through the creation of the Nine Worlds to the epic origin and adventures of Thor, Odin, and Loki. It will take you all the way to Ragnarök – the end of time itself.
Taking time out of his busy schedule, Russell – a living legend in comicdom – spoke to us about the much-anticipated series, and many of its intricacies.
Norse Mythology is just the latest adaptation you have done based on Neil Gaiman’s work. What is it about Gaiman’s various pieces – as well as the man himself – that appeals to you in regards to having him as a creative partner? And, how close do you work with Gaiman, if at all?
On the adaptations of Neil’s novels or short stories he pretty much leaves me to my own devices. I think with all that he has to do now, between Hollywood, personal appearances, and carving out uninterrupted time for new writing, he’s fine with me doing handling the transition to graphic stories. Having said that, he is available when, from time to time, I have a question about the text. He always gets back to me on that.
How are you approaching the work?
My approach to the Norse Mythology book is a bit different from the recent American Gods. For one thing we have much more room to play with. American Gods was a 525 page densely plotted novel that we had to squeeze into 598 comic art pages. The Norse Mythology book is about 220 pages of text that expand 372 comic art pages. That gives us so much more room to play around with. Another difference is the relative tone of the books Though there was humor in American Gods it was a darker book. Norse Mythology is much more playful. Playful to the point where I’m using a device I rarely use in my work. Sound effects. Great whopping sound effects that I’m working into the layouts and that are being beautifully executed by letterer Galen Showman. It’s all hand lettering on the original art.
Gaiman’s Norse Mythology was his interpretation of the classic Norse mythos. Is your adaptation a four-color interpretation of Gaiman’s best-selling book, or do you also go back to the original mythic text, too?
I’m working strictly from Neil’s text.
With American Gods, you worked with a wide variety of artists. Do you plan on doing the same with Norse Mythology, as well? If so, who is involved in the project and what stories are they assigned to?
Just like American Gods and The Graveyard Book there’s a host of artists involved. I’m doing the ten page intro, first six page story and then the last one, Ragnarok, approximately 34 pages. Beyond that, we have Mike Mignola, Jerry Ordway, Piotr Kowalski, David Rubin, Jill Thompson, Matt Horak, Mark Buckingham, Gabriel Walta, Sandy Jarrell, Michael Avon Oeming, Colleen Doran, and Galen Showman.
Do you consider Norse Mythology being in many ways a prequel to American Gods? Are you approaching it that way?
When you’re dealing with Norse Mythology as American Gods did in addition to all the other world gods, there will be some parallels, but no, I’m not approaching it as a prequel.
How did the project take root? What got the wheels spinning?
You know, I don’t recall who brought it to my attention first. Neil’s agent? Neil? Dark Horse editor Daniel Chabon? It just seemed to happen. However it happened, it was an easy yes for me. I love the puzzle solving aspect of taking a novel and turning it into pictures. It’s my favorite thing.
What other projects, if any, are you working on now, as well?
I still have my final fairy tale of Oscar Wilde, The Fisherman and His Soul, to finish. That series has been going on since 1991. I really hope to get to it sometime next year. After I end the world with Ragnarok.
Norse Mythology comes out from Dark Horse Comics in May 2020. P Craig Russell is a guest at the Portsmouth Comic Con 2020 the weekend of 2 to 3 May 2020 visit the show website for further information www.portsmouthcomiccon.com