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  • DAVID AVALLONE talks BETTIE PAGE #7, on sale in JANUARY!

    DAVID AVALLONE talks BETTIE PAGE #7, on sale in JANUARY from Dynamite!

    BYRON BREWER: David, your joy and enthusiasm for writing this title have been palpable. For the uninitiated (you know who you are!), tell us about your love for Bettie Page, comic-life and real-life.

    DAVID AVALLONE: I was introduced to Bettie like a lot of people my age, by Dave Stevens’ amazing work in The Rocketeer. I read up on her, and discovered she’d had this roller coaster life and bowed out of modeling at the top of her game. Aside from the obvious – her singular beauty, which Dave captured so well – the more I read about her, the more I admired her guts, her lack of shame (in the best sense) and her independence in a time when society exacted a heavy price from women for living how they pleased.

    BB: A lot of readers have told me they enjoy your use of a diary as the framing/narrative device for Bettie’s adventures. Looking back, can you tell us about the choice and any advantages?

    DA: That came from Bettie herself. When I was researching the project, I watched a great documentary called “Bettie Page Speaks.” The narration is culled from one long interview with Bettie, and it gave me a strong sense of her “voice” and I wanted to hear that woman tell these stories. I thought that was the best way to honor her personality and make sure it was all over the book.

    BB: Similarly to the above, having Bettie in 1950s California. The great lengths you have gone to for familiar structures, etc. in your telling of these stories is amazing! Share with readers some stories of some of the photos, etc. you have used for both your artists and in your commentaries please.

    DA: For the first arc, issues 1 to 4, I used a lot of my current home (for the past 30 years) of Hollywood, California. In the commentaries, I posted photos of the Pantages Theater (currently playing Hamilton, I think) and the Shakespeare Bridge and the Dresden Room (my favorite bar). Of course, I had to use the Griffith Park Observatory, not merely because it’s a great location but also as a tip of the hat to the underrated Rocketeer movie.

    BB: What has it been like portraying the Cold War here, and through the eyes of someone (like many in entertainment) from the vantage of half a century later?

    DA: I am not old enough to remember the fifties, but I remember growing up with the looming threat of nuclear war, in the middle of the space race, and with the Soviet Union as the big international boogey man. I think if I was ten years younger it would be a lot more abstract to me, but I was on my way to thirty when the Soviet Union collapsed so it was real and vivid to me for a big chunk of my life.

    BB: How much of the Cannes Film Festival will we get to experience in issue #7, on sale in January? Have you ever attended? I would imagine it is rife with comedy situations in and of itself!

    DA: Issue #6 was the transition into this new storyline and half the issue was getting her to the French Riviera. Issue #7 is all Cannes, with some references to the movies that were there in ’51, and some feeling for the time and place. I have never been to Cannes, but I have been to film festivals and have worked in movies for the past thirty years… so I think I have a pretty good insider’s feel for all that. As for comedy… I’m trying to walk that line between comedy and adventure in this book… not too funny to lack thrills and suspense, but also not “gritty” and dark. For tone, I’m shooting for something like the movies “North By Northwest” or “Charade.”

    BB: Talk about working with artist Esau Figueroa.

    DA: Esau is great: I give him a lot of reference (as I am wont to do) and he utilizes it beautifully. He’s a perfect collaborator, and I love the way he draws Bettie.

    BB: Outside of issue #7 in January, talk about doing an exclusive comic for THE Playboy with artist Joseph Michael Linsner and about Bettie’s history with Playboy.

    DA: Dynamite’s amazing PR person, Janie Mackenzie, came up with that. Bettie was the first “Christmas” Playmate in the magazine, and decades later, Hugh Hefner is the person who helped her earn money from the exploitation of her image. Janie thought it would be natural for them to do an article on our comic. She sent them the first issue, and to our delight, they asked instead that we come up with a six page comic to run in Playboy. I was incredibly flattered: getting a story in Playboy has been a sign of achievement for a writer for half a century. So that was a real thrill. Condensing a satisfying adventure into six pages was a challenge, but I love how it came out. Joseph’s art was beautiful, and I managed to sneak in some funny pop culture Easter eggs, including crediting Bettie with telling Hefner how to make a better magazine. (Which didn’t happen in the real world, but I thought it was funny…)

    BB: Haha! It IS funny, and quite plausable. … David, are there any other projects readers should look for from you?

    DA: This last summer I kickstarted a project I co-created with Kevin Eastman (the Ninja Turtles legend) called Drawing Blood. At the moment, it’s only available to the Kickstarter supporters, but we imagine we’ll be releasing it to the general public sometime around when Bettie #7 is hitting the stands. And currently, my previous series with Dynamite, Doc Savage: Ring of Fire, is out in trade paperback. Anyone who enjoys the period adventure stuff I’m doing with Bettie should get a kick out of it. And while Doc is the hero, his cousin Patricia and Amelia Earhart are center stage for a lot of the story… if you like how I write kickass women.