The Barrowman Interview
(a version of this appears in Torchwood Magazine, Issue #14)
The following phone conversation takes place between 6pm and 6:24pm on February 8th, 2009.
CB: Ready to chat about our Torchwood Magazine comic?
JB: Wait. Shouldn’t we have some sound effects if we’re making this read like a scene from ‘24’?
CB: Do you even know how to write sound effects? You’re the worst speller.
JB: I blame the doctor for that because when I was a kid I’d stay up late on Sunday nights when the classic DOCTOR WHO was on WTTW in Chicago so I’d never study for my Monday morning spelling tests. Add the sound effects later.
CB: Do you remember when we first got the idea to collaborate on a Captain Jack story?
JB: The summer when we were working together on Anything Goes. We were on location for Torchwood in a warehouse in Cardiff. I was filming the “Meat” episode.
CB: Wasn’t that the same shoot where the pigeon pooped on Jack’s shoulder? Now that was hilarious.
JB: That was good luck . . . the shoot was taking forever. Lots of green screen shots. I think I started making up ways that Jack could end the scene and we could all get home. Now that I think about it, we came up with some funny stuff . . . I still think we should do something someday with the idea of Jack and the–
CB: Shush!! . . . Can we tease shamelessly like that?
JB [laughing] I think we just did. Anyway, I remember the endings we made up got more ridiculous the longer we all sat in that cold damp warehouse . . . you and I kept playing on the way home in the car.
CB: I’d forgotten about that . . . do you remember what we called it?
JB: “What Would Jack Do?” . . . but the actual comic didn’t really take shape until Comic Con last summer in San Diego when we met Tommy Lee Edwards and Trevor Goring.
CB: It was the ‘Face of Bo’ poster that did it.
JB: The poster they created of Jack superimposed on the ‘Face of Bo’ still amazes me when I look at it. I framed it as soon as I got back to London. It’s on the wall in my office and I think it’s the best illustrated characterization of Jack that I’ve come across . . . until our comic is released that is.
CB: And you see a lot of images of Jack.
JB: Oh, yeah . . . so after Tommy, Trevor and I signed a batch of the posters, I asked them if they’d ever be interested in working with us on a graphic novel about Captain Jack.
CB: We had a graphic novel in our head because we had both recently read Neil Gaiman’s MARVEL 1602. You’d bought it to send home with me for Turner [my son], but we each ended up reading it first.
JB: Was that the one where the X-Men face the Spanish Inquisition?
CB: Uh, huh . . . they’re in Elizabethan England. Very clever stuff.
JB: Trevor and Tommy thought a collaboration sounded like a great idea and on the way home from Comic Con I knew that if we didn’t pursue the idea of the four of us working together right away, we’d all get busy with our individual work and it would never happen.
CB: Torchwood Magazine didn’t necessarily have a comic in mind did they?
JB: I don’t think so . . . but given that we’d just hooked up with two of the best artists in the comic world, as far as I was concerned, it made sense to pitch a comic . . . and then later when you and I were brainstorming on a story, I remembered you’d written something before about the myth of the selkie, and I thought it’d be a perfect plot to adapt for what, in my head, I was already calling a “Captain Jack Tale.”
CB: Except that my story had nothing to do with 'Torchwood' or "Captain Jack."
JB: Not then it didn’t but we worked that out between us . . . I’d always wanted to do something that put Jack in Scotland and your original story was set on an island off the Orkneys. Plus we’d already agreed to tell a story that showed a side of Jack and a part of his history that hadn’t been explored too much in other media . . . I wanted to give fans something original about Jack.
CB: What side of Jack do you think our comic foregrounds?
JB: I think we see Jack’s compassion . . . maybe his guilt. Plus his wicked skills with a harpoon!
CB: You’ve always been a comic fan, haven’t you?
JB: Oh, yeah. Love Spiderman, Batman, and definitely Captain America. . . I think it has something to do with when we immigrated to the States in the late 70s and I was trying hard to be an American kid. Couldn’t get enough of comics and Captain America . . . but I also love Superman–all the Justice League heroes for that matter. You are too.
CB: I tend to read more graphic novels that comics. I'm a big Neil Gaiman fan. . . . do you remember the first mint condition comic you ever bought me when you could afford one?
SOUNDS OF CRICKETS CHIRPING
CB: You haven’t got a clue, have you?
JB: A TIN TIN comic . . . plus a bunch of first edition ‘Noddy’ books.
CB: Nice save . . . so what do you think of ‘Captain Jack and The Selkie’ now that you’ve seen the finished product?
JB: I’m astonished. It’s brilliant work. The panels with the selkie are completely breathtaking . . . and Jack looks so damn good.
CB: When Tommy and Trevor sent the first colored panels, I just stared at them in stunned admiration.
JB: Tommy Lee, Trevor, John Workman on the lettering, Martin Eden at Torchwood Magazine, everyone worked really hard, but Tommy Lee especially, given the tight deadlines and budget constraints.
CB: Are you game for another one?
!bOng! !bOng! !bOng!