Interview with Caitlín R. Kiernan at Darkeva’s Dark Delights
Darkeva: Although you’re mainly known for your powerful and dark novels such as The Drowning Girl, The Red Tree, Silk, and Low Red Moon among many others, you’re also a prolific comic book writer, most notably for Alabaster, but also with Vertigo for The Girl Who Would Be Death and The Dreaming, spin-offs of sorts from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels. Tell us a bit about how you came to write for these series, what you enjoy (or least enjoy) about writing for comics, and if you have forthcoming comic projects.
CRK: I began doing comics back in 1996, after Neil called to ask if I’d like to do a three-part story arc for The Dreaming. I was actually in Eugene, Oregon at the time, attending the WHC. I was a great admirer of The Sandman, so, naturally, I said I did. The series’ sales had been pretty abyssal, certainly not what Vertigo had expected after the wild success of The Sandman. But there was an increase in sales with my arc, so I was asked to do a second. Eventually, I was offered the opportunity to be sole writer for the comic.
I wanted to do it, and the money was good. And it was great for a while. But after a year or so it became a grind. I was relieved when the series finally ended. And yes, while writing The Dreaming I also did The Girl Who Would Be Death, but I’ve all but disowned that, due to interference from DC editors who demanded changes I refused to make until they threatened to have someone else rewrite the last issue. It was ugly.
A year or so I did one last mini-series for Vertigo, Bast: Eternity Game, also a Sandman tie-in. It was intended as a four-part story, but was cut to three after I started, which ruined it. And which left me with no desire ever to work for Vertigo again. Or, for that matter, in comics.