Comics Journal 93 (1985)
While I’m reading through Moore’s run again, it’s fitting to share the mega, Swamp Thing focused Comics Journal 93. It features a whole lot of insight into the Swamp Thing title at the time. It’s fun to re-read the comics that are discussed in the following interviews, piecing together the creative process behind my favorite stories. The stunning cover was painted by Stephen Bissette and John Totleben, the team in charge of visuals for Swamp Thing at the time.
The magazine kicks off with a short article, discussing DC’s decision to drop the Comics Authority Code. It was a big step for the title, and the hype may have helped increase intrigue for the muck monster.
The Code rejects Swamp Thing, Swamp Thing rejects the Code.
“The first such book to be sold on newsstands without the Code’s seal of approval since the inception of the Code in 1954.”
it’s exciting to read about Berger, Moore, Bissette and Totleben, blazing trails in the comics world; dedicated to telling great stories.
and thus, a Sophisticated Suspense was born…
The Swamp Thing section makes up the bulk of the magazine, featuring interviews with Moore, Bissette and Totleben. Mark Burbey presents a brief but passionate intro before launching into his lengthy discussion with Stephen Bissette.
“What Alan, Steve and John are doing with Swamp Thing is like nothing else happening in comics today.” –Mark Burbey
Burbey breaks down the interview formats, warns of spoilers, and The Bissette Interview begins
“This is the place”, the prose by Alan Moore is featured within the Swampy section. It’s an eerie description, helping to set the tone of the series. The magazine is peppered with process drawings and concept sketches. They’re reprinted in black/white and are beautiful.
the Bissette interview was made up of two separate conversations. Burbey interviewed Stephen prior to him starting on Swamp Thing, so they play catch-up a little toward the beginning. Below, Bissette discusses working on TSR figures with his artists friends in Vermont. You’ll no doubt recognize a few names.
Bissette mentions that he and Totleben helped Tom Yeates during his time on the Swamp Thing title; Totleben since issue 2.
“October of 1982… we should take a shot at it, and that’s when we put the time in.”
Below is the page with the “frog creature”, Bissette mentioned above.
below, Bissette discusses his learning curve in getting used to drawing Swamp Thing.
my favorite aspect of collecting and reading articles related to Swamp Thing is finding information, like the good stuff below. Reading how Moore, Bissette and Totleben hadn’t met, and exchanged ideas via mail is fantastic… and insightful. I wouldn’t mind reading some of those letters today.
after the Swamp Thing title floundered under Martin Pasko, DC didn’t put much support behind the book. Below, Bissette mentions the shift in attitude toward the character, once their stories boosted readership.
above, Bissette mentions the widely discussed DC Sampler that features Swamp Thing and company. The spread advertises the Swamp Thing series. For more info, see my DC Sampler post, here.
Bissette mentions his Un-Women concepts in the above selection from the interview. A cool section within the book, “The Unseen Un-Men” features a series of Un-Men concept sketches. We now interrupt this Stephen Bissette interview to bring you…
back to the regularly scheduled Stephen Bissette interview…
the Swamp Thing related portion of the interview winds down with Bissette discussing Wrightson’s Un-Men and how they went about reimagining them. Bissette also mentions how frantic it was, wrapping up Martin Pasko’s run, prior to Moore coming aboard.
The Alan Moore Interview
The interview gets a little clunky in areas, with Moore providing humble and brief answers to dippy questions regarding his personal life. But, he provides a great deal of insight into his work, early on in the series. Below, Moore discusses the enthusiasm and energy exchanged by the creative team
Moore discusses his discontent toward fandom, from an early age
Moore discusses his influences…
“Each of these genres have gradually built up an arsenal of cliches that… smothered the original concepts”
It’s fun to read Moore’s wholistic approach to writing; considering various entertainment mediums and writing formats when story telling.
“we’re trying the best we can to construct stories that have some sort of real human resonance and some moments of genuine unease.”
Moore discusses character development…
How Moore got the Swamp Thing gig
How Swamp Thing fits within the DC Universe
Establishing what sets Swamp Thing apart from other DC characters
The John Totleben Interview
Totleben talks about Wrightson’s influence on him, when the first Swamp Thing series came out.
Tight deadlines and working with Bissette’s pencils
We can thank Tom Yeates for the Bissette and Totleben run
Swamp Thing, issue 19 could have been the curtain call for our muck-encrusted mockery of a man, if not for Totleben’s hard work.
Totleben discusses reworking Dan Day’s pencils in Swamp Thing 20
Totleben on developing Swamp Thing
Totleben touches upon something that always bothered me within the Martin Pasko run. swamp Thing and transportation…
“We’ve probably enough for three or four years’ worth of stories”
Totleben discusses taking over cover duties, now that he and Bissette are on the boo
Totleben discusses making a new Swamp Thing logo