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DAVID AVALLONE talks BETTIE PAGE: UNBOUND #4, on sale in JULY!

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  • DAVID AVALLONE talks BETTIE PAGE: UNBOUND #4, on sale in JULY!

    DAVID AVALLONE talks BETTIE PAGE: UNBOUND #4, on sale in JULY from Dynamite!




    BYRON BREWER: David, to my recollection, it has been awhile since we’ve talked about Bettie Page: Unbound. I would never guess in a million years you could do so much with this character based on the real-life pin-up model. Remind us what specifically Unbound is about as a series please.

    DAVID AVALLONE: In previous Bettie Page adventures, she has faced down Yog-Sothoth, one of the evil space gods known as the Great Old Ones (aka Cthulhu and company)… and obtained a powerful alien object: one of the Five Keys to the Eternal Gates. The Great Old Ones are in the process of breaking out of their prison dimension and destroying the universe. The only hope of stopping them is obtaining the other four Keys and shutting all the Gates, locking the Great Old Ones out. Problem is… the other four Keys are all in other dimensions, and every time Bettie steps through a portal into a new world (which she does every issue) it’s a whole new situation, and she’s a whole new Bettie. She has to adapt to her new “self,” find the Key and escape, alive.





    BB: I usually ask this later, but the whole concept of this book has me drooling. Since you are a research king, what materials did you scope out and dissect to bring the mood you have brought to this very different Bettie book?




    DA: The fun of the whole premise is that Bettie is a changed woman each issue, and the changes are pastiches of famous heroes, mostly from Dynamite comics. Luckily, I was mostly pretty familiar with the material I was referencing: Lovecraft short stories, Red Sonja (Chapter #1,) Vampirella (Chapter #2,) Dejah Thoris (Chapter #3,) and essentially Tinkerbell (Chapter #4.) I went back and looked at some of these materials, but honestly this is one series where I know the sources very well. It’s great fun to mash up these disparate elements.




    BB: So Bettie in July’s issue #4 becomes a fairy or sprite of some kind? Pixies have a tendency these days to be darn malicious in some fairy tales. Describe Bettie the Sprite for us, and what is some of the visual fun you may be having with this, just to whet our appetites for the issue?

    DA: This is another case where, like a comic book writer from the 1970s, I let the cover inspire me. Dynamite President Nick Barrucci’s idea was to have Bettie as Red Sonja, Bettie as Vampirella, Bettie as Dejah Thoris… but he left the fourth and final issue to me. While I was still mulling it over, I remembered John Royle had done a gorgeous Bettie-as-Tinkerbell cover we’d never used for the previous series, and I asked editor Kevin Ketner if it was okay with Dynamite to use that cover, and make Bettie a six inch tall fairy in the last issue of the arc. As it turned out, this was a perfect choice for the story. In this issue she is finally in R’lyeh, Cthulhu’s island home, and she has to go up against this titanic, Kaiju-sized all-powerful space monster. And she’s tiny. She’s powerful and resourceful… but she’s the smallest she’s ever been. That contrast is dynamic and comical and terrifying all at once.





    BB: If there is one thing about Bettie, she no matter what her guise always manages to turn lemons into lemonade! Through all the adventures you have put her through, she has remained determined and optimistic, a true survivor. So refreshing today! Was this something the character has in common with the real-life Bettie, when she was living?

    DA: Yes. Before I embarked on this series, I made no conclusions about who Bettie was and what kind of character she would be. I wanted to know who she really was. I did a lot of research, read some books, but the most helpful thing was a documentary called BETTIE PAGE REVEALS ALL. The soundtrack of that doc is almost entirely Bettie herself, from a very long interview, telling the story of her life. Listening to her speak… I knew that she was very self-possessed, shameless (in the best way: not constrained by shame), funny, sassy and smart. And she faced a lot of difficulties and tragedies in her life, and mostly kept a sunny disposition regardless of how bad things got. Listening to Bettie’s voice made me decide that the comic had to be narrated by Bettie, from a “secret diary.” The woman on that soundtrack was one I wanted to write a comic book about.





    BB: Wow! … Can you give us any more information (non-spoilery, of course!) on Bettie Unbound #4?

    DA: I mean… it’s Tinkerbell-sized Bettie fighting the Great Old Ones. It’s a cross between Peter Pan and Destroy All Monsters. Gelfling vs. Cloverfield. And it’s the climax to what I will always call the Crisis On Infinite Betties. If that premise doesn’t sound like fun, you don’t know fun.





    BB: Talk about the artwork of Julius Ohta.

    DA: Julius is a gift, and I feel incredibly lucky to work with him. In general, he’s a fantastic artist who understands emotion, action, pacing, design, composition… all the stuff you just can’t teach. In particular, he really captures Bettie. It is vital for the enjoyment of a comic like this that you believe you are looking at Bettie Page. That’s incredibly difficult to do, and Julius makes it look easy.





    BB: David, what else is coming up for you in the way of projects you can tell our readers about?

    DA: With Dynamite, I continue to write ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK, with art by the fantastic Dave Acosta, who is, by the way, also a gift. He does for Elvira what Julius does for Bettie: you believe you’re seeing the real woman. For American Mythology, I did a Zorro vs. Zombies comic called ZORRO: SWORDS OF HELL, that should be out soon in trade paperback. And with Kevin Eastman as my partner and co-creator, I’ve got the DRAWING BLOOD series and the RADICALLY REARRANGED RONIN RAGDOLLS one-shot. Everything else going on is top secret… for now.


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