In this third part of our interview with Gabrielle Bell, we discuss the artist’s burgeoning solo career, years of anthology work, and the key differences between Lucky volumes one and two.
Yeah. I think it’s harder to write screen, because in comics, I write things out in a storyboard kind of way.
You don’t storyboard your screenplays?
Well, I haven’t tried it yet. I’m really new at the screenwriting.
Can you talk about the projects that you’ve been working on, in that space?
Weeeeeell, let’s see. The screenplay for the short film that we did. Michel wrote most of it, and I wrote the ending. We sort of worked very closely on it. We threw out different ideas and went back and forth. And then I would go through it and try to clean out the awkward parts—sort of Americanize it, in a way, even though it’s a Japanese film. Then you have to go through the whole process of Japanesifying it [laughs]. And then I helped him to write another script. He wrote the whole thing, and then we went through it, line-by-line and talked about what worked and what didn’t, and what could be changed. We wrote that, but it’s still being reworked, again and again. The difference I guess is that, with comics, I’m the authority, but with this, someone else is the authority.
Is that your first real experience collaborating on a large scale?
Um, yeah. I don’t really like to collaborate that much [laughs]. I made an exception for Michel.
Was it difficult working with someone, especially when working on a pre-existing piece?
Sometimes it was difficult, and other times it was a great pleasure.
Did the difficulty lie in the inability to express your own voice in the work?
I guess the question of having it be a movie was the difficult part.
Creating something for other people to work with or just operating in a new medium?
Both. I guess it’s just really being out of my element, in movies. I know what works in comics, I don’t really know what works in film. In the first draft of the screenplay, I had people waterskiing in this brief dream sequence, and Michel said, “you can’t just write that in, do you know how expensive it is to have people waterskiing.” Or in another, I had someone playing a piano, which was a very big deal, bringing a piano into the room. In comics, you just draw a piano, or you just draw people waterskiing. In movies, you have to think about the physical possibilities. There are just so many logistics that I wasn’t quite familiar with. I’m a little more familiar with now.
It’s funny to hear that coming from Michel. I’d imagine that, on a whole, reading one of his scripts would be something of a logistical nightmare…
Yeah, but then there’s a lot of problem solving and a lot of hands-on approaches to things. He’s thinks about these things, beforehand.
Did you feel similarly out of your element when you first started working in comics?
Not really. Comics, especially alternative comics, have this sense that you can just invent your style as you go. I think I did feel a bit of pressure when I was starting to get noticed, and people started to give me feedback. There was a pressure to top myself that’s always there, but that’s a healthy pressure, I think.
Is there a big distinction in your mind, between the first and second volumes of Lucky?
Yeah, definitely. Volume One was sort of experimental. I was feeling things through.
Why did you split them, initially?
I didn’t really draw the line. I stopped doing Lucky for a while, and then at one point, I just wanted to pick it up again.
So, initially you set out with the intention of ending the series at three issues?
Yeah—actually, I can’t really remember if I had it in my head that I just wanted three issues.
How large of a gap did you leave between the two volumes?
I guess it must have been a couple of years. I was working on stuff for different anthologies.
What prompted the decision to go off and work on those more dissonant pieces?
It wasn’t really a conscious decision. It was more that a lot of anthologies were asking me to do different stuff, and I could never refuse, because I never like being left out [laughs]. I did the Drawn & Quarterly Showcase and Kramer’s Ergot and Mome.
Is there a marked difference between that work and what goes into Lucky?
Well those are short fictional stories, for the most part. And if they were ever autobiographical, they were very removed. They were very fictionalized accounts that were very removed.
Removed in terms of the time that occurred between the events and your writing?
Yeah. Lucky’s more immediate. I think of it kind of like blogging.
[Concluded in Part Four].