Jeff Lemire made his name in comics with the small slice of life series Essex County. Since he burst on the scene though, he’s grown into one of the most skilled and prolific creators in comics. With a career that ranges from small towns to the Justice League to the X-Men and back, he written almost every genre and some major characters. Now, he’s prepping to launch his newest creator owned series, the horror mystery Gideon Falls. We got to chat to him about Gideon Falls, as well as what’s to come for him in 2018!
Jeff, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! You’ve had a very eventful year so it’s great to sit down and chat.
For any of our readers who may not have heard about the series, can you tell us a little bit about Gideon Falls?
Gideon Falls is a brand new ongoing series written by myself and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino. Andrea and I previously worked together on Green Arrow at DC and on Old Man Logan at Marvel, but this is our first creator-owned work together. It is a supernatural mystery/thriller and will start in March with colors by the amazing Dave Stewart.
Who are our important characters in the series?
Gideon Falls focuses on two main characters and two different settings and narratives. First we have Norton Sinclair, a troubled young man who believes he has discovered some sort of secret conspiracy or power hidden in the trash of the large city he lives in. So Norton literally goes out and hunts through the alleys and dumpsters of the city looking for clues in the trash. And our other narrative focuses on Father Fred Quinn, a Catholic Priest sent to the small town of Gideon Falls to replace the town’s priest who recently died. Fred has a checkered past of his own and soon learns that his predecessor in Gideon Falls was murdered. Eventually both stories and the characters of Father Fred and Norton begin to connect and everything they are involved in seems to be linked to something called The Black Barn a supernatural building, and seemingly the source of some evil, that is sort of a rural legend in the town of Gideon Falls.
Can you tell us a little more about Father Fred? What makes him an interesting protagonist?
We don’t often see priests as protagonists in comics and we don’t often get to see them as fully realized characters. So I wanted to show a man conflicted with his faith and with his place in the world.
One thing I’ve enjoyed with your creator owned series is how much world building you do. How does that world building help you tell your story?
It certainly helps shape the story. I always start with the characters and they are the heart of everything I do, but theworld building comes next and the plot and story really can grow out of that, especially in something like Gideon Falls where we are juxtaposing rural life with urban life and both these settings are played off one another to enhance the stories of Fred and Norton. And behind allthat we have the supernatural mythology of The Black Barn which involves an entirely different kind of world building.
What would you say Gideon Falls, the place, is most like? Is it the quiet small town full of secrets or an innocent place being invaded?
It really stems from two sources, first I grew up in a small town much like Gideon Falls, so that always informs my work, it’s a big part of my DNA as a person and an artist. Secondly, this story is also a love letter to my favorite piece of fiction in any medium, which is David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks. I have been obsessed with Twin Peaks since it first aired in 1990 and it has been a constant source of inspiration for me since. It’s influence is clear in Gideon Falls. But at the same time, Gideon is its own world and its own story. The best way to pay respect to something you love is not to copy or emulate it, but to be inspired by it and create something all your own.
Is genre an important element when you begin plotting?
Not really. I don’t think about that; it’s really about the characters and where they take me. And if they lead me down certain paths that fit into one genre or another, so be it. In Gideon’s case it really crossed into a number of genres. Certainly there is horror, but there will also be a strong science fiction element later on as well, and some crime fiction and noir elements as well. So it’s hard to define it or limit it to one genre.
What genre do you most enjoy writing?
There isn’t one. I love telling all kinds of stories. With Descender I get to do sci fi, with Black Hammer I get to do super heroes, with Royal City I am doing more grounded, genre-free human drama and with Gideon I am delving into horror and noir. So really I enjoy them all and they are each their own world and I get to visit each. I think I would only feel restricted if I could only work in one genre and not explore a lot of different types of stories.
There are hints of the supernatural in this first issue. Is that something we’ll see more of throughout the series?
100% yes. But I don’t want to say too much more yet!
What was your process in creating the book?
Gideon Falls had a long genesis. Elements of this story have been things I’ve been playing with since I first started trying to make comics and tell stories. I actually created the Norton character for a short film I made when I was student in Film school way back in 1996. Then, when I left film school around 1999 and decided to focus on making comics, a version of Norton’s story was the first comic I tried to write, draw and self-publish myself but it never came together back then. So the concepts in Gideon Falls have been evolving and percolating for almost twenty years!
That’s it for part one, be sure to check out part two. In part two we continue our chat with Jeff and we talk more about Gideon Falls and his other books.
Descender #27 in stores February 21st.
Gideon Falls #1 in stores March 7th.