live chat transcript – Don McGregor

007Forever is pleased to present the transcript from our live chat with comix legend Don McGregor, well known to Marvel and independent comix fans as a groundbreaking writer and pioneer and to Bond fans for his work as well. Don paused for about 90 minutes on the eve of his birthday to chat online with Forever fans live, while Marsha Childers McGregor baked a delicious cake for Don in the next room. This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity. Enjoy!

Flemfan: Welcome to 007Forever at Fandom, if you`ve just joined us. I am Matt Sherman, Assistant Editor of 007Forever, and I am delighted to moderate our live chat tonight featuring your questions for Mr. Don McGregor, author of “James Bond: The Quasimodo Gambit” and “James Bond: GoldenEye”, both successful graphic novels with everyone`s favorite number in the forefront. Don`s large body of work is well known in the comix industry, so if we stay on topic for a few questions in a row, hang tight and we will get to your topic`s questions soon.

**This is a “moderated chat,” so if you are just joining us inside 007Forever`s chat room, please head for the auditorium by entering /auditorium at the prompt at bottom of your screen, and you will receive a “welcome to the 007Forever auditorium message” on your screen. Only questions submitted in the auditorium will be answered in tonight`s chat. Thank you.**

Please let me take a moment to share excerpts from the accolades given to Don`s recently released “Detectives Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams”…

“…a lean, taut piece, pared down to its dark essence, that pulls no punches…”

“…Wow! Don McGregor and Gene Colan know how to tell a great story…the best comic book I`ve read in 5 years, when I last read A Terror of Dying Dreams…Don`t just stand here reading the back cover, Man. Take it home…a virtuoso synthesis of words and pictures from two of the industry`s grand masters…”

Don McGregor That`s some high praise…

Flemfan: …indeed…

…Welcome to 007Forever!

Don McGregor Good to be here, M. Please don`t accuse me of being a misogynist dinosaur, okay. Don`t ask, don`t tell.

Flemfan: I think you`ve given us a good place to start…

…what I mean is…

Don McGregor I give you all the straight lines. Rainier and Denning taught me how to do that.

Flemfan: You took exception with the GoldenEye script…

You added to Bond`s interior monologue…

Don McGregor Who me?

Flemfan: When M calls Bond a dinosaur…tell us about that?

You had Bond upset…

…at M`s lambasting that he is a misogynist pig…

Don McGregor Well, I`m a Bond fan. And here is M chastising and criticizing Bond for having sex, when she`s screwed up with the information he`s managed to give her.

So, when adapting that scene into comics, I certainly thought Bond should be able to take up for himself. But I didn`t change any of the dialogue in the script. I just gave Bond`s reaction to this tirade.

Icebreaker asks: How is it that you felt about GoldenEye that M “screwed it up”…

…by getting on “Bond`s case”?

Don McGregor Bond has been following the people who have stolen the stealth helicopter, and it`s M who doesn`t let him pursue it.

Boy, I should pull those GoldenEye comics out, huh?

We`re up to 77 questions?

Flemfan: Very funny!

{action: } laughs hysterically.

Here`s a good one from jsacks…

Jsacks asks: Is there any hope of ever returning to the world of Sabre?

… Maybe some Sabre text stories? Old scripts? Sketches?

How much of your “…Decadence” do you have worked out?

Don McGregor Great question, Matt. For fans of SABRE, they know the biggest storyline of all, THE DECADENCE INDOCTRINATION, left at a cliffhanger.

If, we manage to sell enough of the graphic albums on the Internet, or through the specialty shops, or through places like Bud Plant, then, yes, you will see how that biggest fantasy heroic epic I`ve ever attempted will end.

There will be stories that go into characters backgrounds, as well as show where they end up. Dearie Decadence, Heironymous Skull, Tango Two-Step, and other characters that Sabre and Melissa Siren haven`t met yet, but the readers have, will all collide!

Icebreaker asks: Who owns the rights to produce Bond comic books, either original ones or ones based on the movies?

Don McGregor My understanding of that, is that if it involves the literary Bond, the Ian Fleming Bond, then it would be Glidrose. If it is involved with the cinematic Bond, then that would be Eon Productions.

Icebreaker asks: Were more Bond comics planned with Topps before they folded?

Don McGregor Not to my knowledge, but there could have been. The fact that the last two issues of GOLDENEYE never came out certainly wouldn`t help the cause, though.

Jsacks asks: What current comic books do you enjoy? Have you read Brian Michael Bendis? He does solid detective yarns.

Don McGregor Jack Cole`s PLASTIC MAN. It was great to see that early, first material. Milton Caniff`s TERRY AND THE PIRATES. I see a lot of the comic strips these days because I`m doing the ZORRO NEWSPAPER STRIP. They finally found a way to get me to buy a daily newspaper. Have my comic in it every day! That`ll do it!

That has its upsides and downsides. The upside is that you have a reinforcement of the work you are doing every day! It is also the downside, because every day you see where they are, and how close on your butt they are.

Flemfan: **If you joining us late, please enter the auditorium by typing /auditorium and then send us your questions for Don! Watch for the full transcript of tonight`s chat to be posted later this week at**

Mrflig asks: Don, do you write full scripts or “Marvel” style plots? Does it vary on the project, or do you have a definite preference?

Don McGregor It does depend on the project.

Flemfan: What do you mean?

Don McGregor I more or less prefer a full plot, because the other way, it`s almost having to go back and write the sequence a second time. I prefer to write the scripts to the artist`s strengths. Sometimes I am very detailed in every aspect of the page design.

With other artists, I may do panel breakdowns, suggested angles, with others I`m less specific.

It depends on the working relationship you have with the artist, if you are lucky enough to know before hand who you will be partnered with.

And make no mistake, writing comics and illustrating comics is a partnership. You can write your heart out, you can bleed onto the paper, you can care passionately, but if you don`t have an artist that brings their talent and vision to the project, you`re dead on the page.

Jsacks asks: Here`s an off-the-wall question: as a creator, how do you feel about the current controversy about Napster and copyrights?

Flemfan: How do you feel about the Internet and related copyrights?

Don McGregor That`s a broad-based question.

It has no easy answer.

The Internet can help books survive.

But it can also be a place where you have no control over where it appears.

Illya asks: Don, did you ever read any of the Evan Tanner series (by Lawrence Block)?

Flemfan: You know, Don, the detective named “Matt”…

I apologize for the technical troubles tonight!

Don will stay late if you are having fun at 10!

**This is a “moderated chat,” so if you are just joining us inside 007Forever`s chat room, please head for the auditorium by entering /auditorium at the prompt at bottom of your screen, and you will receive a “welcome to the 007Forever auditorium message” on your screen. Only questions submitted in the auditorium will be answered in tonight`s chat. Thank you.**

Hang in there, everyone…as Don says…he is on the way again!

Hang on!!!

Don is coming back on beloved…

…AOL! LOL more like it!

My server went down in the middle of our chat tonight!

…but I am back…

…and am an expert on Don McGregor!

{action: } screams loudly.

Welcome back, Don!

{action: } bows gracefully.

What was it like to turn ZORRO from movie to comic book form?

Don McGregor You know, it was getting a little crazy. There was the ZORRO`S RENEGADES that I was writing.

Then there was THE MASK OF ZORRO movie adaptation into comics.

And then there was the comic strip that was coming.

Mrflig asks: What`s your favorite Bond: a) movie and b) book?

Don McGregor DR. NO is my all time favorite Bond book.

I can still remember reading that sequence with the centipede.

I actually stopped myself three quarters of the way through, and said, Hold it!

You don`t come across a suspense narrative like this very often.

Savor it.

Enjoy it.

I went back and started it from the beginning.

Reading slowly.

And the centipede crawls through his groin hairs.

And then drinks the sweat off his forehead

In high school, I read this aloud in a high school English class.

This was before Kennedy made Fleming acceptable in the States.

The teacher near had a heart attack.

The students love it.

I don`t believe I got expelled.

Flemfan: We know your fav film is Goldfinger…

…you saw it 20 times…

here’s a follow-up to the Dr. No episode…

Mrflig asks: Did the centipede scene in Dr. No inspire the nasty scene with the leeches in Quasimodo Gambit?

Don McGregor I did not have that sequence in the beginning of scripting QUASIMODO.

I knew I had to have a Fleming-esque Bond situation, where there was that intimacy of danger and detail.

But everything I came up with just didn`t have that spark.

I was actually researching the Georgia swamps when I came across some information about the leeches.

And how when they sucked the blood from you, they put an enzyme into your system that wouldn`t allow the blood to coagulate.

And I knew had something that would be vivid!

That could make a memorable Bond sequence.

I hope it did.

Flemfan: It sure did…

Here`s a follow-up…

Illya asks: Don, do you have any problems writing for Bond because he`s so flawless? Part of your strength as a storyteller is giving us the very human Rainier and Denning, Dragon, etc.

Don McGregor I`d argue that point. Fleming`s Bond is not flawless. In writing THE QUASIMODO GAMBIT, I re-read many of the Fleming Bond books.

The Bond in that comic has Fleming`s Bond`s memories.

And the structure is a reverse of LIVE AND LET DIE. Did I ever tell you that, Matt?

Flemfan: I thought you read from RIGHT to left…

Don McGregor Rainier and Denning are a part of the New York City Scene.

They love Culp and Cosby.

They have a deep and abiding respect for each other.

But at the same time, despite being DETECTIVES INC., these guys do not have the same personalities.

They have different opinions on many things.

But not on important things, like honor, commitment, friendship, accountability, etc.

Jason, good to see you here. Jason`s on the don mcgregor OneList. Hope some of you can join us there, as well.

Flemfan: “one world, one list, Mr. Bond…”

Jsacks asks: Will you ever release the “Detectives Inc” video, so everyone can see it?

Don McGregor Just this week-end, I was at a wedding with my good buddy Alex Simmons, and we were discussing the DETECTIVES INC: A TERROR OF DYING DREAMS film version.

Flemfan: …Alex starred in the film…

Don McGregor It needs a third track and a digital copy made, before we can make any final decisions about that.

The cast is superb.

And the fight sequence in the parking lot is much longer and dynamic than we had room to do in the comic.

Flemfan: Bond represents five decades now…

…he has to be “updated” sometimes…

here`s a crossover question of sorts…

Illya asks: Given your love of westerns & Bond, why haven`t we seen you create an Artemis Gordon sort of character…a Bond of the 1800s so to speak?

Don McGregor Okay, I`m thrown here for a moment.

I thought you were saying that Bond himself has to be updated.

But the question now seems to be he should have a Jim West sidekick?

Are we crossing into Zorro territory here?

Do you mean, in Zorro there should be an Artemis Gordon type character?

I don`t know how much Bond has to be updated, just as I don`t believe…

Zorro has to be updated.

I think you start with a love of the character, but you can`t be slavish to it.

You have to bring something new to the stories.

And yet there are certain things about those characters that remain the reasons why they have been loved for so long.

And I`m glad there are people who have loved DETECTIVES INC. and SABRE for so many years.

And that the books and the characters have meant so much to them.

Flemfan: **If you joining us late, please enter the auditorium by typing /auditorium and then send us your questions for Don! Watch for the full transcript of tonight`s chat to be posted later this week at**

Alteredsal asks: What happened to your ZORRO: Matanzas from Image Comics?

Don McGregor Oh, man! Break my heart, why don`t you?

The series was scripted about one half-dozen years ago.

Full script.

Mike Mayhew has done an incredible job on the art.

Sam Parsons has beautifully colored the book.

I kept talking with him throughout ZORRO: MATANZAS! If you go up on the and into the ZORRO: MATANZAS! website you can see for yourself.

You don`t have to take my word for it.

There are finished page samples up there.

John Costanza, arguably one of the best letterers in comics, has finished the lettering.

And we have no idea when the book will come out.

It may appear in France first.

But I haven`t heard anything on that in awhile.

Mrflig asks: Who is the most autobiographical of your characters, if any? (This is Rob Clough, by the way…)

Don McGregor Hey, Rob. Ah, you think I`m going to give myself away here, huh?

I don`t really know how to answer that question.

In some respects, most of the characters probably have something of me in them.

Even the bad guys.

But to single out a character, well, I don`t know, I`d be reluctant to do that.

Some people, for sure, would say Bob Rainier, from DETECTIVES INC, or even Ted Denning, but I don`t know about that.

Who do you think?

Illya asks: What about other folks? Denning’s mom is obviously Alex`s mom… (Kev here btw)

Don McGregor Kevin! Hey, you guys are great!

Flemfan: Is “Denning`s” mom “Alex`s” mom in real life?

Don McGregor Well, she plays the character in the film version.

But I wouldn`t say it`s her. DETECTIVES INC. is fiction.

You could say there might be some aspects of her in the character, just as there might be a little of Alex in Denning, perhaps.

But they really are just them.

You can`t replace them.

They didn`t come out of a mold, or from any one source.

Kevin Hall, by the way, for all you, is the one who makes the look the way it does.

He is the artist for me, the partner I work with on the Internet.

He takes my ideas and helps make them a reality in Cyberspace.

Thank you, Kevin!

Flemfan: Don, you have written extensively for magazines…Bond-related interviews…”Ice” asks…

Icebreaker asks: What do you think of Bond and genre fanzines? What could they use in future? What are their best qualities now?

Don McGregor That`s another question that`s pretty wide.

The Bond magazines out there each have a different approach so there is no one answer.

I suppose you mean to appeal to a wider audience.

I think, when you get that love across, with the facts, and not let the love blind you, but make you want to make this the best Bond piece you can, then something people who love Bond should get a quality product.

Illya asks: More Bond, please. Seems like the Bond movies are great on action, but short on the suspense that I LOVE the original Fleming books for. How do you keep some suspense in the comics?

Don McGregor I think one of the biggest challenges in doing genre fiction with heroes is to get the audience to forget for ten seconds that Bond or Zorro have to come back next issue!

If I manage that, that they get so swept up into what is happening, that the actually forget that, then I think I`ve done my job as a storyteller.

It means going into the intimate detail as Fleming did.

You have to live with it, day after day.

Rob Clough, who wrote earlier, wrote on the OneList, that there is a sequence with the Black Panther buried alive that made him feel like he was suffocating.

That`s what the writer does every day in a scene like that.

Imagine what it`s like to be buried alive.

Or if it`s Bond, what it`s like to have your mouth taped shut with leeches inside it.

Or in PANTHER`S QUEST, what it`s like to be tear gassed.

You go there day after day. And you try to make it the best damned pages of comics you can.

Flemfan: Follow-up to your life inside the head and soul of your characters…

You have filmed a movie of “Detectives, Inc.” (and have appeared in film cameos) and have written prose books as well. Which medium is better for you and why? Which is your personal fave?

Don McGregor Hey, I see there`s an emotion meter here. What`s it reading? Yikes!

That`s a good question.

I love all the mediums.

When you write a prose book, like DRAGONFLAME and THE VARIABLE SYNDROME, the thing you know about this is that what you put down there is what the audience knows.

In film, it isn`t just you.

There is so much technical detail that has to be dealt with.

On the other hand, as a director, unlike as a writer, you have people who deal with specific sections, and you ask, “What`s my options?”

And someone says, this and this and this.

And you say, “This sounds the best. Do that.”

The actors bring your words and sequences to life.

In comics, the artist brings them to life.

So many folk think comics are a second-rate art form.

Flemfan: {action: } snorts derisively.

Don McGregor I think they`re beautiful.

Flemfan: {action: } nods solemnly.

Don McGregor When you see a finished page of comic art from a Gene Colan, or a Dwayne Turner, or Mike Mayhew, or Billy Graham, as just some of the people I`ve been privileged to work with…

Well, nothing beats it.

All the anxiety about facing the blank page…

And how can you make the best page of comics you can that day…

All that is swept aside, when that art comes in, and sometimes the scene is even more than you dared hope for.

It brings breath and meaning and those characters alive!

Icebreaker asks: You’ve created GoldenEye and The Quasimodo Gambit as comics. How do you REALLY feel about other writers and artists who have created Bond comics in recent years?

Don McGregor I`ve seen Paul`s [Gulacy of “Serpent’s Tooth] Bond. He`s a big Bond fan, and he has a lot of power in his drawing. I really haven`t read the material.

On the other hand, how can any writer really answer this.

Even if I had.

Because you can`t come to that objectively.

I just hope the work I`ve done stands on its own merits.

I hope, in the case of Bond or Zorro, people know I came to it with a respect for the mythos of both characters.

And I wish the others well.

Flemfan: Don, thanks for staying late…last question…

…before a few quick announcements…

Don McGregor You want to do some more, it`s flowing now, so it`s up to you.

Flemfan: {action: } cheers enthusiastically.

Don, this is why the fans love you, everywhere!

How about we have you back instead for a follow-up chat soon? Final question…

Jsacks asks: Who are you rooting for tonight, the Lakers or Pacers?

Don McGregor Hey, Jace, are you really David Letterman? I`ll ask my son that question. Hey, Rob. Who are you for?

Ooop! Rob is gone!

Best I can answer that one. I am working on a sequence at Shea Stadium. It`s the only sports answer I can think of.

Flemfan: And so say all of us…Shea?

A few thoughts…first…

For everyone who participated tonight, as always, many hearty “thank yous” from Fandom/007Forever for chatting with us, and a very special THANK YOU goes to Don McGregor, for taking the time to talk with his fans. Don`s current projects, as well as opportunities for ordering specially inscribed copies of his work are available now at

Don McGregor In the GIFT SHOP.

Flemfan: ZORRO can be enjoyed with updated strips each day at Plus, the latest ZORRO news and exciting collectibles may be found at You will also find interaction and fascination at (The above plugs were not solicited by Don McGregor.) 🙂


Flemfan: …and…drum roll…

Don McGregor Just thought I`d throw that in there!

Flemfan: Don is available at as well.

Don McGregor Don`t I help, Matt? 😉

Flemfan: …Plus you can catch 5,000 words of Don this week at 007Forever…

…his two-part interview…

Apologies to all for the tech troubles tonight…

and thanks to Don…a super writer and a super sport…

We salute you, sir!

Don McGregor Thank you, Matt. It`s great working with you again since Bond Weekend ’99.

Flemfan: And great to be at Fandom!

Don McGregor But what did you say you really thought about A TERROR OF DYING DREAMS?

Flemfan: Your latest re-released work? I will be heading out to the auditorium if anyone wants to chat a bit more… 😉

…Don, thanks to you and Marsha McGregor tonight!

–pardon me…am heading to chatroom…the auditorium is closing it down now…

Don McGregor Thank you, Jason. Let me know how you thought this went on the One List.

Illya asks: Sorry to leave the party early gang. Nice seeing Rob & Jason. And of course the inimitable Don. Great moderating job Flemfan!

Jsacks asks: Thanks Don!

Icebreaker asks: Bye for now, Don, thanks for the chat, Matt.

Mrflig asks: Thanks, Don! And thanks for setting this up, Matt.

**Check out:

Zorro Productions

Zorro Strips: Daily Update

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