INTERVIEW with Paul Jenkins

BOOM_Revelations_001REVELATIONS by Paul Jenkins and Humberto Ramos

Jon: You started in comics editing at Mirage, what brought you to the writing? Was that the goal from the beginning?

Paul Jenkins: I think the answer to that, to be fair, is “yes and no.” I knew I wanted to be creative for a living and had studied to be an actor in Great Britain. But I don’t think I was ever going to go down that particular path. When I came to the States, I had been teaching music and drama to learning disabled kids when I first met the TMNT guys. And for whatever misguided reason I thought I was probably going to be a musician. Once I got onto the editing side, I realized very quickly that I wanted to also be a writer – that particular switch did not take too long to be activated. After all, I was Alan Moore’s editor for a time, and also an editor for Neil Gaiman. I used to see this amazing work, and in comparing it to a lot of mainstream stuff I felt the general approach to mainstream writing was haphazard at best. I thought I would probably be able to say something, to contribute.

Jon: Pre REVELATIONS you’ve got quite an impressive track record. Do you think the work leading up to REVELATIONS helped you nail down the story as tightly as you did?

Paul Jenkins: Well, I think that writers and artists and musicians and actors need to practice all the time. If you don’t keep creating then you get stale. If you are working regularly in the comics arena,
specifically, then I think it really helps to keep you sharp. I feel as though I am just scratching the surface, that I have so much to learn and so many things to explore. So while I am aware that the regular comics work helped to keep me sharp, the success of a book like Revelations is for others to determine.

Jon: Paul, how would you describe REVELATIONS, more of a thriller or more of a mystery?

Paul Jenkins: A mystery, most definitely. One of the interesting things about working in the sequential graphic narrative is that comics readers are used to serialized fiction. And these days, the fans like to try and guess the endings of the stories before they have been published. I suppose it’s nothing new – back in the days of Charles Dickens people in America would wait for the latest issue of his serialized novels – like The Old Curiosity Shop – and try to persuade a dock worker to let them see a copy before it went to the stores. There are entire groups online dedicated to spoilers and speculation on TV series. I’m gratified that not a single person speculating on the “twist” ending to Revelations has ever been correct. No one sees it coming.

BOOM_Revelations_002Jon: When approaching a work like this do think it is important to “play fair” with the reader? To keep them in the loop and learn things as Charlie does?

Paul Jenkins: Well, that’s a great question. I love it when the readers can learn as the main character learns. I think that it kind of undermines a mystery like this when the author gives too much away, or moves to locations that the main character cannot move to. I hope that is why the ending is such a surprise.

Jon: When you came up with Charlie Northern did you have specific characteristics you wanted him to have? He comes off as a classic PI type. (Which I think is great)

Paul Jenkins: Yeah, I wanted Charlie to be a little bit of a failure in his own way. He’s a heavy smoker, which is a little bit of a weakness. He’s a lapsed Catholic in the very heart of Catholicism, working a Vatican crime scene. So at times he is just a little bit unnecessarily cynical. But he’s clearly a good guy, even if he has a wicked sense of humor and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. In this story, we get to hear Charlie’s voice, his inner monologue: that’s probably where the “PI” vibe comes from. I wanted Charlie to view the world around him with a combination of bemusement and disdain – at one point he sums up an entire religion (not overly cynically, mind you) as being a bit of a “club.” We tend to like him for his simplicity, and his adherence to doing what is right.

Jon: The Vatican makes for a great backdrop to the story. What was your reason for setting the story there?

Paul Jenkins: As I mentioned previously, the idea that a lapsed catholic has to investigate a crime scene in the heart of all that is Catholic is pretty amusing and interesting to me. Charlie gets pretty annoyed pretty quickly once he finds out how the Swiss Guards have
processed the crime scene, and it kind of goes downhill for him from there. The Vatican is like a different world, isn’t it? It’s like writing a scene in which two people are arguing on the edge of a cliff: the readers get a sense that something is going to happen – the potential is aided by the environment.

Jon: Is there a part of REVELATIONS you are particularly proud of?

Paul Jenkins: Just an odd thing, I suppose: I am not particularly a religious person but I get a little tired of the notion that all Catholics must be twisted or strange or guilt-ridden, and all priests must be “this far” away from being child molesters. It has become very cliché and seems to be fueled by the press as much as anything. So I took a little pride in the fact that even though the Vatican is an extreme place, our story did not particularly take potshots at
Catholicism. Charlie takes a few, I suppose…

Jon: Is Charlie a character you’d like to revisit?

Paul Jenkins: I am really not sure. I think this story stands out as a one-shot, yet I think Charlie’s a cool character. I’ll let you know!