I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Paul Allor, mostly through Comics Experience, a workshop for people who want to create comics. He’s had a meteoric rise in the last few years, and next for him is a war/romance miniseries published by IDW and Comics Experience called TET. He sent me all four issues, and it’s truly something special. Intrigued, I asked him some questions about genre, process, careers and more.
You’ve said In the past that you didn’t dive deep into comics until a few years ago. Why, then, have you dedicated yourself to breaking into this medium?
I don’t know? I guess there’s just something about comics that kind of connected with me, as a writer. It seemed ideally suited to the type of stories I want to tell.
Plus I’ve always wanted to swim around in a vault of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck, and I’ve heard comics can make that happen.
You’ve also mentioned that you add genre elements to your stories so that the market will accept the deeper themes you want to get across (and you do it very well). If an audience wasn’t a concern, how would your comics be different?
Well, I say that kind of half-joking. Three-quarters joking, maybe. No, not that much. Three-fifths joking. If the market wasn’t a concern (I prefer market to audience, since of course you’re gonna think about the audience, even if the audience is just you and your dog), I would do a lot more stuff that’s fairly grounded in reality, with no supernatural or sci-fi elements. But the work I already do would still be there, and remain more or less the same.
Plus, I mean, Tet isn’t exactly a market-friendly book, so it’s not like I’m pitching things towards the market right now. Plus, we’re calling it a war/crime/romance book, but it doesn’t really follow the tropes of any of those genres very strongly. It’d be more accurate to call it a book that takes place during a war, and involves a crime and a goodly portion of romance.
How do romance and war make a strong pairing?
I probably shouldn’t just answer “I don’t know” to all your questions, right? I guess because one is about building something, and the other is about tearing something down? Yeah, let’s go with that!
It’s one thing to speak on authority about love, but another thing entirely to speak about war. What did you do to capture the psyche of someone in combat?
It sounds so trite to answer a question like this with “research,” but that is half of the equation. You read about what these guys went through, you listen to oral histories, you read their letters home, and in all of those things, you can see the emotions, you can see the conflicts, either on full display or peeking around the edges. Then you do your best to empathize with those emotions, and to get your facts straight.
And then you hope you came close. You hope you didn’t fuck it up too completely. But that’s all writing. There are more than seven billion people on this planet, and everyone knows what it’s like to be exactly one of them.
It also helps to have a collaborator like Paul Tucker, the ridiculously talented co-creator and artist of Tet. Dude’s work conveys emotion like nobody’s business, and probably does a lot more to tap you into the characters’ experience than my writing ever will.
What inspired the crooked caption boxes?
Eugene, our narrator, is an emotional dude, and I thought it tied into that, well. Plus it looks good with Paul Tucker’s art.
I feel like that’s a thing that you might not get if a third party was lettering your book. How else has lettering yourself improved your work?
Can you describe the development of Tet, from conception to upcoming publication?
This one was actually pretty easy. The idea had been kicking around in my head for a long while but needed time to ferment. At Emerald City 2014, it kind of started to really come together for me. Paul was the first artist I thought of; he said yes; we took it to the Comics Experience imprint at IDW; and three months later, it was announced. Seriously, this one was a ridiculously smooth process, the likes of which I will almost certainly never see again.
What were/are the benefits to having the miniseries finished before releasing the first issue?
I’d say there’s probably a bit more cohesion of storytelling, through lettering and art adjustments made before the first issue comes out. It’s also a bit of a mental relief, to know, before the first issue drops, that the whole thing came together well and that you’re proud of it.
You and Paul Tucker work so well together. Have you discussed collaborating on another project?
Yup. We’re putting something together now, and pretty soon we’ll be looking around for a publisher.
Comics is a weird industry. Nowadays the ideal career path seems to be doing your own stuff, getting licensed work off of that and then actually making a living just off making your own stuff. Do you consider yourself on that same trajectory?
Not really, no. I was lucky enough to get some licensed work pretty early in my career, just as my creator-owned stuff started coming out, really. Since then it’s been a lot of zig-zagging, a lot of starts and stops, a lot of lucky breaks and disappointments. I think my career has a trajectory in much the same way that a pinball has a trajectory. And I also think that’s more common than not.
TET is comes out September 9th from IDW Publishing. Retailers can order it with ________, and they really should.
Writer of Stuff. Journalism for The Beat, articles for websites, blogs for businesses, comics for publishers, and so on. Writing is my least and most favorite thing.