Tag Archives: don mcgregor

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 www.fandom.com/james_bond.**

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 www.fandom.com/james_bond.**

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 www.donmcgregor.com 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 www.donmcgregor.com 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 www.donmcgregor.com.

Don McGregor In the GIFT SHOP.

Flemfan: ZORRO can be enjoyed with updated strips each day at www.creators.com/comics/zorro. Plus, the latest ZORRO news and exciting collectibles may be found at http://members.aol.com/zorrocomix. You will also find interaction and fascination at http://www.comicon.com/donmcgregor. (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 www.donmcgregor.com 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

Don McGregor: Bonded Comix Part II

–Continuing our two-parter with comix legend, Don McGregor, as he shares about the Bonds, John Glen, Maurice Binder, and struggling to fit the creative muse into a “DEADline”.

Matt: James Bond in Quasimodo Gambit was a bizarre deadline, wasn`t it? Tell us about it.

Don: The Deadline itself kept changing, and there were different deadlines!

When I was first approached to do a Bond comic series, the book was being produced by two separate companies: Eclipse Comics and Acme, which was based in London. They were already in the midst of doing a Bond series with different talent, and they wanted this book to be ready when the other finished. The common thought was to do a Post-Glasnost Bond plot, but I felt, even if they could pull all the talent together to do it, and could come out with Quasimodo Gambit as rapidly as they said, it could be dated by the time it saw print.

It ended up taking years (yeah, that`s right, instead of months, the deadline became years!) for the book to be illustrated. Now, I had written and researched the entire project, so virtually it was all there. But then I had to do final scripting over the art, and make the captions and dialogue fit the art, and because the art was so late, it was often a pressured deadline…

…And Bond had to be done on pages that were in rough penciled sketch. I often had difficulty just in making out who was whom. In one sequence, in M`s office, I placed a lot of the M and Bond introductory stuff into what looked like blank space behind M`s head, but when I saw the color, finished pages, I don`t know how many odd months later, I could see the artist had put in detailed wall space, including a painting behind M`s head, and it was all covered by copy! So, I went back, a replaced it all, to preserve the art. And once again, I was running against another “Deadline.”

James Bond: GoldenEye was a different beast altogether, because Topps got the license to do the series late, and you have to have the first issue of the book ready by the time the film opens. The problem is no one knew what the finished film looked like, and let`s face it, with a Bond film, and a Bond comic, fans are going to be looking closely. But what does that War Room really look like? What about the interior computer control rooms under the frozen wastelands? Never mind, what do many of the characters in the story look like!

Matt: How did you start your lifelong love affair with Mr. Bond? 😉

Don: With Ian Fleming. And that goes way back before any films were made. It goes back even before President Kennedy put “From Russia, With Love” on his favorite books list.

I used to travel down to a small town in West Warwick, Rhode Island. And they had a huge store there called “Newberries,” and it was one of those places that sold everything from fresh made cookies (Oh, man! I loved those Scotch Jams, to this day, but you can`t find them anymore) to paperback books. And that`s where I picked up a copy of “Diamonds Are Forever”.

It`s funny how you can`t remember things that happened two days ago, and other things stay with you, sharp, clear, the moment of impact as fresh as if it happened an instant ago.

I`d gone to a friend`s house on New Year`s Eve, and I`d taken that DAF paperback with me. I was going back towards my house, walking beside the road that traveled up a steep incline that just went on what seemed like forever when you were walking. There was a January snap in the air, stinging the cheeks. I was stopping under streetlights, reading a few passages here and there from Diamonds, and then hiking to the next light in the darkness. And there was that moment when the villain gets his intended victim in the hot mud rooms, and pours scalding mud in his face and eyes! And I remember standing in the lone light in the black expanse. Everything was quiet. New Year`s Eve was either over, or people hadn`t returned to their houses yet. And I thought what the hell is this!

And I hadn`t even read “Dr. No” yet!

I learned a lot from Fleming. There`s a sequence from “No”, where the centipede is crawling up Bond`s body, and it`s one of the most exquisitely detailed suspense narratives I`ve ever read. I actually recall telling myself to slow down, go back to the beginning of the scene, and savor it, because those kind of scenes didn`t happen often!

Matt: You have plenty of stories about Bond insiders. What is the wildest thing that happened to you while working on a Bond related project?

Don: The wildest thing! You think I`m going to tell you that, Matt? Right here, and now! Or ever!

I will tell you that one of the nicest thing was meeting so many really nice, talented people. I have fond memories of talking with John Glen the night before For Your Eyes Only opened in the States. He was incredibly candid and open about all his feelings. Maurice Binder was a delight. I`d gone to the MGM buildings to talk with him, and they were supposed to have a clip of the opening credits to show me, and for some reason, it couldn`t be found. I told Maurice that was fine, not a problem, but Maurice wouldn`t hear of it. He said, “You`ve traveled all this way, Don, and they were supposed to have it ready!” And guess what, ten, fifteen minutes later, we were in a screening room watching his wonderful way with credits.

What pleased me most in that instance is that after the article on Maurice appeared in Star Log magazine, he wrote me a note telling me how pleased he was with it, and that he felt it was the most accurately he had ever been quoted. That`s not a wild moment, but its one I hold dear.

Still, one of the best things about working on Bond related articles in those days, was meeting Tom Carlile. He was Cubby Broccoli`s US Publicity Coordinator. He treated me, and Star Log, as if we were as important as the biggest promotion gig they had going. Tom took me to dinner one night. I shouldn`t have been there. I`d had a heart attack the night before, although I`d convinced myself by morning that it couldn`t have been that, and yet I`d gone into Manhattan to make sure everything was all right with a series I was writing called Nathaniel Dusk, which was drawn by the Dean of comics, Gene Colan, and then I`d hiked over to see Tom.

He was going in for cancer tests soon after. It was a foolish thing I`d done, and I hope I`d know better today, and yet I`ve always treasured that night, sitting with Tom, as he told me great stories about the early days of trying to promote Bond in the States. “Who wants a movie about a Limey detective?” more than one theater owner would say to him. And the change to where he had people beating at his door and ringing the phone off the hook to get whatever they could on 007! But he also told me amazing stories about working with George Stevens and behind-the-scenes events on “Shane”, stuff I`d never known. Or how difficult it was to work on “Barbarella” with Jane Fonda and Dino DeLaurentiis.

Maybe not wild, but certainly treasured, Matt. It was the last time I ever saw Tom. But what a wonderful last time together. I miss him.

Matt: Tell us about why it was that the lovely and popular GoldenEye comic`s last two issues went unpublished!

Don: See, now, you`re talking about stuff you know the answers to! Now, you`re just baiting me!

Let me see how to tell this without all the twists and turns that project took. The first thing people need to know about a project like this is that there are three companies involved. Eon Productions, of course, made the film. They hired a company called Leisure Concepts to handle Licensing deals for the Bond movie. So, now you have three separate companies, when you include Topps, all with people handling the business end of the project. (And comics are a literary-style item like Glidrose produces for the Fleming estate, too.)

What I have to do is find out how many pages we have to tell the film, get as much visual reference as possible, and find the best way to capture the spirit and tone of a film I haven`t even seen yet! Now, all of Topps negotiations had to go through Leisure Concepts to get to Eon Productions. The problem for a place that handles licensing is that they don`t understand the nature of comics. Normally, they are approached to do a Bond product, be it watches or T-Shirts or talcum powder. The company wanting to make this product needs Bond images.

Let`s take a T-Shirt company, for example. They make the deal, the licensing company sends them 20 or 30 images of Bond, the company selects the one they feel will make the best T-Shirts, and its onward. With comics, you have to see everything!

It`s not even like adapting the book, because you can slide over the details, the pictures aren`t right there in front of the audience. But with a comic, you have to visualize every scene! And with all the technical gizmos and unique backgrounds that are a part of the story, you have to show it! And if I was going to do a Bond comic, I`m coming to it, as someone who loves comics, who has a reputation for the books my names goes on, but as important as that, producing a quality book for fans of Bond, because I`m a fan! I want to do the book I`d like to see if I was out there, wanting to have a comic about Bond!

All of GoldenEye, all three books were pencilled. All three books were lettered. All three books were inked. I had worked on the covers for all three books with Brian Stelfreeze. And without a doubt, the best cover we had, in terms of attracting an audience, Bond and especially, non-Bond, was the cover for Issue #2. Brian did a painting from the steam room sequence between Bond and Xenia Onatopp, with General Ouromov as a ghostly overseeing presence. It was colorful, provocative and caught the spirit of the scene exquisitely.

And it became a problem. I wasn`t there for all the conversations, but apparently someone, somewhere was concerned about the cover. Topps was ready to go to press with the second book when an objection came about the cover. Leisure Concepts and Eon, or just one of the companies, had to give approval to the book, and that approval stalled. Jim Salicrup wouldn`t print the book until Topps had the approval.

THE DAY (and I`m not just saying this for dramatic effect; it`s really the way it happened), the day they put all the finished art in my hands, done, complete, was also the day I was told the book wouldn`t see print. Ads had already been taken out for a compilation edition! You can see the book listed as if it exists in Price Guides! No Bond fan will ever find it-issues 2 and 3–because it didn`t happen. There are lots of books like that these days, advertised as if they exist, with Price Guide sums printed as to their value, and the damn books never came out! Twenty years from now, comics researchers and historians are going to go nuts trying to find books that don`t exist at all!

I knew time was running out, even as the book was being finished. And we were all under the gun, to get the book done, to do it right in the amount of space we had, to have it ready. But the more time that passed from the opening of the movie, the odds were increasing that the series wouldn`t be completed.

And it wasn`t because the book didn`t sell! GoldenEye #1 was very successful. All that work. I held the art in my hands, heard the words, and there`s an empty feeling inside. You`ve run the race! You`ve given everything you have! And the James Bond fans will never see it!

There`s not one argument you can offer that`s going to change it.

And it hurts the chances for more Bond comics down the road, because some people are going to think, hey, Bond comics didn`t sell.

Matt: You attended the Bond Weekend `99 we held in Las Vegas. What was it like to meet all those crazy fans and inscribe some of your work for them?

Don: The Bond Con was great! Although, you ask about wild times, Matt, and the wildest time there was when you took on the entire Las Vegas airport security personnel. Personally, I thought maybe you`d been doing a little too much James Bond immersion identification. But you appeared at Planet Hollywood, shaken, not stirred.

Both Marsha and I really enjoyed the people there. It wasn`t just the connection of Bond, it was a genuine warmth with so many of those people. There was a lot of passion, for Bond, certainly, but for life in general!

But I do miss driving with Jim Sieff in the Bond Aston Martin going down the desert highway! I wish we`d done that with Lana Wood! Damn! Is Jim bringing the Aston Martin to New Orleans for Bond Weekend 2000? Did you know that`s where I set the Blade series I wrote for Marvel? Thinking about it, I guess there aren`t many desert highways in Orleans, are there? Hmmm.

Matt: Jim may be busy filming with his Astons for Austin Powers 3. What are some of the trends you foresee in the comix industry?

Don: I`m far from a soothsayer. Comics are under siege, in many ways. Certainly, the Internet will open the way for new ways to present and do comics, though how all that will play out is still cloudy. I do believe this is a way to help books survive, by using the Web, that might not have a chance if one has to rely just on the big Distributors. It`s one of the reasons I decided to start the www.donmcgregor.com site. Kevin Hall put together that and the McGregor ONElist Message Group. I wasn`t sure anybody would write to the thing. Well, not only have they written, but they`ve put file copies up of art from books I`ve done, and they`ve done a magnificent job with it. There`s color art from Dwayne Turner drawn Black Panther, to repros from Billy Graham SABRE art. I hope that we will have graphic albums of SABRE: An Exploitation of Everything Dear sometime in the near future. The entire storyline that ran from SABRE Issue #3 to #9, “Everything Dear” collected in one big volume. But before that we should have out The Definitive Ragamuffins Graphic Album, a series I created years ago, pencilled by Gene Colan. It`s about kids growing up in the 1950`s, a book about kids for adults, with flash forwards to various points in time in the `60s, `70s and `80s.

It`s exactly books like these that I think the Internet can help to survive.

If people can find you on the Internet, see that they can get the books directly from you, and if they feel confident in ordering those books, then perhaps this opens the medium up from the domination it has been under to produce “superhero” books. Many of these titles have become so inbred that if you haven`t read a hundred issues you don`t have a clue what the hell you`re reading!

I can`t prove this will work. I just know the Internet is opening new doors and venues. If I could see into the future, I guess I would know how to use that effectively to promote and sell the books, but remember, I`m primarily a storyteller, that`s what I`ve always been, and that hasn`t changed, so this is something totally new to me.

It`s difficult to get people to know you`re there in the vastness of Cyberspace.

It`s difficult to get people to know who don`t normally read comics that there might be books they`d really be interested in, if they knew they existed.

But how to get, let`s say, someone who really loves mystery fiction to know there`s a series of beautifully produced books like Detectives, Inc., with complex characters you can get involved with, in story-lines that are serious, but not without humor, visually exciting and evocatively rendered? I don`t have all the answers for that. But certainly, a site like Fandom/007Forever helps reach people, Matt, and makes it more accessible to know these books exist! If you love Bond, or ZORRO, or, to name a couple of my favorites, these days, Buffy or Xena, well, now you know there`s a place that you can go and get quality material on these characters. The same hopefully will apply to Detectives, Inc. and SABRE and Ragamuffins. These books cover a wide span, from heroic fantasy to private eyes to mainstream stories.

They are unique, and they are of singular vision, and I hope to do more of them.

And meet more of those incredible fans who have been so supportive over the years. Thank God for them! They surprised a few editors over the years, let me tell you!

Matt: What new projects are on your plate now?

Don: I`m writing the daily ZORRO newspaper strip, which appears in the New York Daily New and the Houston Chronicle, among many other papers. I`ve just introduced the first major black characters in the ZORRO mythos in the strips–starting back in the middle of April 2000. The Definitive Ragamuffins is at two companies right now, and hopefully, we`ll have copies by the San Diego Comic Con [author`s note: It would be great to see a lot of Bond fans there as 007Forever staff and contributors are attending in July]. The new book includes a rough version of a twenty-page lost Ragamuffins story called “The Pack Rat Instinct”, which has never yet seen print! The fans will love it. It is all about the dear, sweetly absurd, all consuming need to collect that which you love! It`s as much a part of the fan as breathing. [I know Collectors` Corner fans at Forever can relate–Matt]

I`m also working on a new Detectives, Inc. story entitled “A Fear of Perverse Photos”. Detective Bob Rainier`s opening line is, “Let me see if I`ve got this right, you want us to break into your apartment and steal all the pornographic photos you`ve printed off the Internet.” It`s a story that looks at this new phenomenon, how it affects everyday people, examines the different criteria for what is considered obscene and isn`t, and even looks at views on the afterlife and angels. Oh, and it also looks at the changing face of Manhattan. Has it really been changed? Could Dorothy now get off a bus at Port Authority with Toto, look around and sigh, “Jeez, Toto, we really still are in Kansas!”?

But I`ll be spending a lot of time and energy on the www.donmcgregor.com website, as well, promoting it, making sure people have a way to find the books if they haven`t found other sources. But I`ll be doing conventions as well. I`m due to be at the big Madison Square Garden convention with the people behind Pulp Adventures. I`ve just done an introduction for their first reprint of Johnston McCulley`s ZORRO pulp reprint stories. Plus, I have every intent to be at the San Diego Comic Con, as well.

Matt: Do you have any tips for aspiring comix authors and artists?

Don: I teach a course on “Writing For The Comics” at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and that`s a question that starts every class. A short answer, and by no means a definitive one, is for the person to figure out what type of writer they want to be. You might as well start early, because you`re going to have to make that decision again and again, if you survive in this business. Remember, it`s your name that goes on the story! I`ve never had someone come up to me in all the years I`ve been signing books and say, “Don, the managing editor of the comic did this and made this story say this.” They come up and ask, “Why did you…?” and as long as you know the answer, and it is an answer you can live with, you`ll know that it is your story. They can`t take it from you.

Hang in there!

–Many thanks to Don McGregor for taking the time to help prepare this special two-part story. Follow the links below to check out Part I of this interview and learn about the Bond Collectors` Weekends including Las Vegas `99 and New Orleans for Bond Weekend 2000 in September!

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author interview – Don McGregor: Bonded Comix Part I

We at 007Forever are delighted to present this in-depth interview with Don McGregor, pioneer of independent authors` rights in comics and author of the glossy GoldenEye movie novelization in graphic novel form, and the in-depth Bond adventure The Quasimodo Gambit.

We hope this two-part interview will stimulate your questions for the upcoming chat with Don on Wednesday, June 14 at 007Forever. Don has a lot more of the scoop on comics, James Bond, “I Spy” and much, much more to share Wednesday starting at 9:00 p.m. E.S.T. — join us! One of the most popular writers at Marvel in the 1970`s, Don struck on his own to work with Paul Gulacy (yes, the Gulacy who created the visually stunning James Bond adventure Serpent`s Tooth) to publish SABRE, a graphic novel now in anniversary re-release. Later with Marshall Rogers of illustrated Batman fame, “Dauntless Don” struck again with a second graphic novel, Detectives, Inc. , (and again five years after that in a Detectives, Inc. mini-series with legendary artist Gene Colan).

McGregor started his writing career at Warren, scripting stories for Creepy and Eerie. Later, invited to Marvel, he wrote the cult-hit Killraven series in Amazing Adventures and acclaimed Black Panther stories in Jungle Tales. After he published SABRE and its follow-up on-going series from Eclipse, Don wrote two Nathaniel Dusk, P.I. mini-series for DC and then a Killraven graphic novel for Marvel. Don revisited the Black Panther in the pages of “Marvel Comics Presents” before landing the writing assignment for Topps Comics` revival of the legendary ZORRO.

In working with ZORRO Productions on the project, Don developed his take on the classic western hero by surrounding him with strong adversaries and interesting allies. In his analysis of the standard ZORRO motifs over the years, he came to the conclusion that ZORRO should have a strong female counterpart. Thus, Lady Rawhide was born. First appearing in ZORRO #3, Lady Rawhide (as illustrated by Mike Mayhew under a cover by Adam Hughes) rapidly became a fan favorite and she was spun off into her own mini-series.

When Topps stopped publishing comics, both ZORRO and Don landed at Image Comics, which ZORRO Productions selected to publish their character`s adventures. Image is presently reprinting the second Lady Rawhide mini-series and trade paperback collections of the ZORRO stories, and they`re also re-publishing some of Don`s creator-owned work under their imprint. Don and artist Tom Yeates (they teamed up for ZORRO vs. Dracula) create the daily adventures of ZORRO for newspapers around the country including the New York Daily News. Don`s recently released 20th Anniversary Edition of SABRE garnered as much praise as it did originally, as did the re-release of Detectives, Inc. Now the second DI story, Detectives, Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams has been collected in trade paperback form for the first time. (All three should be available through your local comic book shop, and are available to them through Diamond Comic Distributors` STAR System.)

–Don is also a wonderful guy who is passionate about the things he loves most; things like family and friends, the world of James Bond 007, ZORRO, Hopalong Cassidy, and communicating passionately to others through the unique medium of comix.

Matt: Why did you choose to work in the comics industry?

Don: Well, I`m not sure if I chose it or it chose me. Before I was writing comics, I actually was working on novels and films. I learned at an early age, once I got hold of my dad Francis McGregor`s 8mm Bolex movie camera, that if you wrote the script, and if you directed the film, and you acted in it, a number of great things happened:

1. You always won the fights! And since, in those early 60`s days I was often doing some kind of a James Bond or private eye riff, well, this was terrific! It didn`t matter how big the guy was. He could give me a look and say, “Don, I can pound you into the ground. You know it and I know it.” But then, I`d just show him the script, and answer, “Well, sure, we both know that, but see, right here, in the script, it says, “I win!” So, here`s how we`re going to do it!” But even better was

2. You ALWAYS got the girl! This was infinitely preferable to real life and I thought I would dedicate my life to it. We even rigged a briefcase to shoot out a torrent of white gas to take out one of the bad guys, in one of the films. Now, understand, I`m no technical whiz, and I don`t remember who came up with the way to pull this off, but we were filming up at my grandparents` house, Alfred and Marguerite Besson`s house, and they had a lot of land to play make believe in as if it was real. I played out a lot of fantasies there during my young years, rode a lot of invisible horses, you better believe it. Anyhow, my grandfather had a workshop there, and someone figured out how to hook up one of the old insecticide spray containers he had into that Bondian attache case, after the first attempt we`d made to gas the bad guy failed miserably! This time, as the villain opened the case, we pumped down on the canister and the white clouds shot out of the nozzle and engulfed him! It really worked! I don`t even want to give thought to what kind of stuff may have been inside the insecticide tank before we filled it with talcum powder!

Some years later I actually created Detectives, Inc. as a film vehicle, for Alex Simmons and I to play the lead characters of Denning and Rainier. So, now finally, here comes the transition to comics. I`ve given you a few brief, hopefully scenic detours here. But before we ever got around to acting Rainier and Denning out, I`d gone to my first comic con. And something clicked!

I was writing, as I`ve already mentioned, and I`d always loved comics, I just hadn`t really thought about writing them. But after meeting Alex Simmons at that New York City Comic convention, and after we started acting together, and coordinating our own fight sequences, something else clicked during the year until the next con.

Matt: You mean, “Why not do a comic book?”

Don: Alex was multi-talented, and at the time he did a lot of illustrating. It struck me that comics is considered a visual medium, even if, like film, it needs a written word, first. Comics are also a literary one, and that combination makes it truly unique as a medium. But, if you were going to get seen, if you were going to get read, how to do it?

Well, you could write a script and send it. But the downside for writers is that an editor has submissions coming in and they end up in a stack. I talk about this a lot with my students in the course I teach at the School Of Visual Arts. You don`t want to get caught in that pile. Most editors seldom have time to go through those pages, and the higher the stack grows, the more intimidating it becomes.

If you`re an artist, you come in with samples of your art, and people can see right away whether they like it or not. They can say, “Hey, I like this, but this sucks!” And at least you have some feedback. But a writer, the first thing the editor sees is just a jumble of words on page upon page.

So, it was kind of like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, “LET`S PUT ON A SHOW!” and I said to Alex, “Let`s do Detectives, Inc. as a comic. Because I knew then that people could look at it, they could see that you had a grasp of the mechanics of comics, how words and pictures worked together, plus it did what I always wanted to do: TELL A STORY!

And I loved comics. I have never thought they were a second rate medium. Yes, I was primarily focused on books and film, but that didn`t mean I didn`t have this passion for comics. From the first time I saw them, all the color and pictures and words, it was like discovering this incredible treasure. Years later, when I created Ragamuffins, I tried to capture what that love for comics was IN a comic itself.

Matt: What appeals to you about being on a deadline with projects like ZORRO or James Bond, 007?

Don: Deadline! What appeals to me about the deadline? Well, one writer once said, “You know, Don, there`s a reason why they call deadlines DEAD lines!” I think what you`re after is more the format that the story is going to told. So, for instance, in James Bond: The Quasimodo Gambit, once I know what the format is, in that case a three-issue mini-series, I more or less know the page count I am dealing with. I know I can approximate the structure of a novel, because I have the room. I know that I have to take into account where the books should break, so there is at once a sense of completeness to the books, that the reader has gotten something from that one book, but that it also flows into the next, and hopefully makes the audience want to know what happens to Bond and that cast of characters next.

That, by the way, is a much different kind of project than adapting a Bond film like “GoldenEye” for comics, in a three-issue “monthly” format. But more on that later.

And still different, say, would be doing graphic albums, like Detectives, Inc.: A Rememberance of Threatening Green or A Terror of Dying Dreams. These are self-contained stories, but the page length is shorter, and you have to deal with that challenge. It`s as much a question of what won`t be in the story as much as what will make it.

Like James Bond, I`ve done ZORRO in different formats. When I was doing the monthly comic series for Topps, I was always aware of the, more or less, 30-day time span between issues. This has a tremendous difference on the way you approach a story than, say, if it was published bi-monthly. Now that I`m doing the ZORRO newspaper strip there is always the constant reminder that another day has gone by. The upside of this is that there is a concrete re-enforcement of the story-telling. Every day, you hold the paper in your hand, you see the strip, and when it works, there`s that incentive to get you back to the blank sheet of paper. But the downside can be that it does appear every day, and if you haven`t written a day`s strip yet, it`s intimidating.

On top of that you have to face a whole different sort of choices and challenges as a storyteller. In a graphic novel, the audience gets the whole story at one time. The impact of the story and what happens to the characters and the thematic thrust of the story is immediate!

But a strip has an audience coming to it in different manners, and you have to be aware of this! Some people only get the Sunday paper, and thus they may only have exposure to what`s going on once a week, in that Sunday.

Others only read the paper during the week. Often, many buy it and read it on their way to work. So, I try to make sure the story can track from Sunday to Sunday, yet that there is never any repetition, because you have to be aware that in the long run, one day, those stories may be collected into a single volume, and then the story must flow seamlessly.

Oddly, what with all the horrendous lurid screaming headlines in the paper, one of the constant things you have to contend with is what someone might say, “Well, this can`t be in a family newspaper!” But that only seems to apply to the comics page. The fight is to tell a compelling story, one that has meaning, one that will move the audience. I try to make each day`s strip work singularly, but at the same time flow into the next. Yet, I`m not always trying to do the same thing with each strip. As varying as I will make the visual approach of each strip, from one panel to four, from silent to one just with captions, to those that are comprised of dialogue, I also want to have different emotions to the strip. Sometimes, I want the audience to laugh. Sometimes I want them to be moved by what they have read. Sometimes I just want to compel them to say, “Man, I can`t wait to see tomorrow`s paper and see what happens next!” If someone who buys only a Sunday paper, let`s say, said, “You know what, I`ve got to buy Monday`s paper, because I`ve got to see what happens to ZORRO next!” Well, I can`t think of a compliment that would mean more to me. And sometimes I want to jolt the audience.

Sometimes it`s the storytellers job to disturb. And if you are reading the daily newspaper, and you haven`t come across something that disturbs you, you aren`t really reading that newspaper, I`ll tell you that. In the Daily News, ZORRO is carried on the same page as Ann Landers. Ann`s column can have topics that deal with domestic violence, drugs, incest, you name it, but put that into a story with pictures, on the same page, and different eyes and with different agendas somehow are still of the mind that comics are a kid`s medium.

Well, no! Comics are as varied a medium as books and film, and just like the best in those mediums, the best comics have a voice and strength that are uniquely their own! And then again, there`s another aspect about deadlines, they change from project to project. A Daily strip deadline is “always” there! It never changes.

–Read Part II of this interview (linked below this story) and hear all about James Bond: The Quasimodo Gambit, James Bond: GoldenEye, and more! There will also be a special opportunity to purchase unique McGregor work at Bond Weekend III, September 2000 in New Orleans!

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