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  • MIKE CAREY talks BARBARELLA #2, on sale in JANUARY!

    MIKE CAREY talks BARBARELLA #2, on sale in JANUARY from Dynamite!

    BYRON BREWER: Mike, since comic-con season and deadlines chewed up Decemberís interviews, tell us about writing this tale of such a classic character as Barbarella for Dynamite.

    MIKE CAREY: Where do I start? This all began when my editor, Matt Idelson, emailed me and hinted that he had an offer I couldnít refuse. I just assumed that was the straight line for the old horse-head-on-the-pillow gag, but in fact it was the chance to write Barbarella.

    I admit I hadnít thought about the character in years, but I was of the generation who read Barbarellaís adventures the first time around, when Jean-Claude Forest was writing and drawing her. And the prospect of introducing her to a new generation of readers was hard to resist.

    Well, impossible as it turned out. I shot Matt some rough ideas for about a yearís worth of stories, and we started to brainstorm. It was a really enjoyable process, and it was clear that we were on the same page when it came to what a modern Barbarella comic would look like. In an incredibly short time I was going to script.

    And so far itís just been pure pleasure.

    BB: Tell us about your take on this character. Who is Barbarella to you, and were you a fan before this assignment?

    MC: I had been a fan, very definitely. I have a lot of affection for the movie version, too, but the comic was its own thing and it was kind of awesome. Jean-Marc LíOfficier has described it as a grown-up Alice In Wonderland, and I think thatís a really useful way of looking at it. Barbarellaís adventures were always picaresque. She dropped into situations almost at random and never questioned their logic. She just did what she felt needed to be done. And, of course, had sex a lot, because that was a part of who she was.

    I didnít want to mess with the character. I just think Barbarella works, in a simple and archetypal way. Sheís an idealist, a pacifist, something of a genius in that she thinks outside of every box she ever found herself in, and hugely promiscuous. Thereís a lot to love about her, and I donít mean that in a snickering, prurient sense.

    So although Iíve tinkered with her idiom a little I havenít changed her motivation or her personality much at all. What I have done is to change her world, or her universe, rather, so that the situations she finds herself in have a more contemporary resonance. These are sci-fi stories that are Ė sometimes, and partly Ė about sex and sexuality and the part they play in our lives. I wanted to make sure that the issues I was addressing would make sense to a modern audience.

    BB: Can you give us the general storyline of the series, please?

    MC: There will be lots of different stories, some long and some short. Barbarella is a wanderer, originally from Earth but she hasnít been back there in so long she barely remembers it. She never stays anywhere for long, and she never moves with any kind of a plan or purpose. Consequently sheís always finding herself in extreme situations and thinking her way out of them.

    Over the course of the series, though, we get a sense of the big picture that sheís resolutely trying not to be a part of. There are various galactic powers, one of which is Earth, and their relationships are often strained. Through the supporting characters weíll get glimpses of the web of alliances and influences that defines this portion of space. There are agendas, both government and corporate, that Barbarella keeps running across. But sheíll never let anyone else define or use her.

    BB: Since issue #1 is not in stores yet, please introduce us to some other characters in your book.

    MC: The first arc introduces a number of characters who weíll meet again further down the line Ė but again, you have to bear in mind that Barbarella is a character who travels light and tries not to form deep attachments.

    Having said that, she forms two non-human acquaintances in the first arc who will be important going forward. One is an alien creature named Vix, who looks a little like a fennec fox and is generally thought not to be sentient Ė but we have our doubts. The other is Pegasus, a robot horse with impeccable manners.

    A lot of the other characters we meet belong to one of Earthís intelligence agencies. The most important is Jury Quire, a female spy with a lot of cybernetic enhancements. Barbarella and Jury are sent to prison together in the first issue Ė and in due course attempt to break out. Itís the start of a beautiful friendship, although the two women donít always see eye-to-eye.

    And thatís even more true of the other spies we meet, notably Ix Pendrum and his right-hand robot Kettlesmith. As the only character with a fully working conscience, Barbarella has her work cut out to avert an act of genocide.

    BB: What can you tell us about the world you are creating here? Is there any inspiration from past iterations of the character?

    MC: Iíd like to think that my Barbarella is exactly the same as Jean-Claude Forestís, but Iím aware that the truth is always more complicated than that. The inflections always change when one writer takes over from another. Itís probably closer to the truth to say that my Barbarella will bear the same relationship to Jean-Claudeís as my Lucifer did to Neil Gaimanís. In both cases I love the original iteration and tried to be loving and respectful in my treatment of the character. But just in your choice of what stories to build around the character you start to emphasize different aspects of their nature.

    And in terms of the world, that will come across in the way some elements from one story will find their way into another, creating a kind of indirect continuity around Barbarellaís seemingly random journeyings. This is a crowded and somewhat dangerous corner of a big and complicated universe, and weíll get to see what some of its biggest problems are.

    BB: Tell us about the war Barbarella has involved herself in (non-spoilery, of course).

    MC: Itís a war between Earth and a religious autocracy called Parosia. In the first issue Barbarella strays across the edge of a battle in deep space and is pulled in as a potential collaborator. The rough justice she receives, and the glimpses she gets of Parosiaís hellishly repressive regime, leave her determined to intervene, but there are some question marks over the rights and wrongs of the situation. Maybe both sides are at fault. Certainly theyíre both guilty of some truly terrible acts, so itís not going to be as simple as just choosing a side.

    BB: How is it working with artist Kenan Yarar on this very important book from Dynamite?

    MC: Absolutely awesome! Kenanís style is a perfect fit for the book. Heís wonderful at world-building and at maintaining a clear narrative through line no matter how crowded the canvas gets. Heís really a joy to work with. As soon as I saw his character sketches I knew he was the right artist for the job. I found myself thinking about Mike Kaluta, which Ė letís face it Ė is never a bad thing!

    BB: Mike, any other projects current or near-future you can tell our readers about?

    MC: The only other comic book Iím currently writing is The Highest House, which is my latest collaboration with Peter Gross. The first issue comes out from IDW early next year.

    Iím also most of the way through a new novel, Someone Just Like Me, which will be released in October of 2018. Itís a story about domestic abuse and demonic possession. Light-hearted stuff.

    And coming back to IDW, Iíll soon be working with Arvind David on the TV adaptation of Darkness Visible. Weíre already planning the pilot and bible for the series.

    BB: Thanks, Mike!