First off, how did you link up with Stephen King?
I started to work for Stephen King while I was a grad student at the University of Maine. That was back in 2000, after Steve's accident. Steve needed a temporary research assistant so he contacted Burt Hatlen—an old friend of his who had been one of his professors at the University of Maine—and asked if he knew of a poor graduate student who needed a job! Burt knew I loved horror and fantasy, that I was a fan of Steve's work, and that I was a writer myself, so he recommended me for the position. (Somebody up there was smiling down upon me!) Anyway, my first assignment was to help sort through the thousands of stories Steve received for his On Writing competition (and I mean thousands!). That was a really neat job, and it meant that I got to know Steve's personal assistant, Marsha DeFilippo, really well. Anyway, one Friday afternoon I went into the office to pick up my paycheck and there was Steve King! I was really embarrassed because I'd been without power for a week. Maine had suffered one of the worst ice storms in its history and much of the state was without electricity, so I hadn't had a proper shower in a while. I must not have smelled too bad though, because Steve told me that he was going to return to the Dark Tower series and needed somebody to compile lists of characters and places for him, as well as the pages on which they appeared. Was I interested in doing it? I was really excited about the job so went wild. As well as doing what Steve asked I collected all sorts of extra information and had the whole project bound in black. I even taped a magic key to the front! I guess Steve liked my enthusiasm because after that he kept me on so that I could continue to expand my proto-concordance.
Prior to the Gunslinger Born comics, you'd written two volumes of Dark Tower: A Concordance. How did that prepare you for taking on a more active role in shaping the story of Gunslinger Born?
It was incredibly helpful! In order to write the Concordance I had to reread the novels many times, so I knew the stories like I know my own life history. (I'm not joking there.) It meant that I had already collected many of Roland's stories about his youth—stories that are spread throughout the series. It also meant that I'd been daydreaming about Roland's life for many, many years. What surprised me when I started to work on the plots for Gunslinger Born was how much of Roland's backstory story I'd already started to imagine. For example, what exactly happened after Roland and his friends left Hambry? How did they make it back to Gilead and what other adventures did they have along the way?
Do you have a favorite moment, scene or part of the Dark Tower series? Will we see it in Gunslinger Born?
Wow! That's a tough one! I must say I've always loved the story of Roland's relationship with Susan. I find that very moving. I also think that Steve's characterization of Susan is great. Somehow he really caught her—she feels so real. I guess that's what makes her ending so tragic. (I won't say any more because I don't want to ruin the story for those who haven't read the books!) I've also always had a soft spot for Cuthbert Allgood, so I'm incredibly pleased to be spending more time with him. In some ways, I feel like the comics are a way to tell not just Roland's story but also Cuthbert and Alain's stories. I feel very lucky to be able to help tell that tale.
How closely do you work with Peter David in putting each issue together? Can you give us a breakdown of the creative process?
One of the things that's really neat is that as the story progresses, the whole process is becoming more and more collaborative—not just between myself and Peter, but also with Jae. (You also can't forget about Ralph Macchio and his team of editors. They are a hugely important part of this project!) For the first few issues I handed in my plots to Ralph Macchio and his team, who gave me feedback and suggestions for rewriting. (By the way, they are really great editors.) These plots then went to Jae who penciled the story, and to Peter, who did dialogue. We all were trying our best to stick to Steve's work, so I think we were all kind of nervous about that. (Well, I was really nervous!) Anyway, Peter, Jae and I got to meet each other in New York last summer and we started to really have a good talk about the Dark Tower series, about what we needed to include, and about what we should expand upon. Over the last few issues we've had some really good internet conversations about plots and storylines. Peter and I also tend to fall into Mid-World speak as we converse, which is a lot of fun. (Hey, we're all ka-tet now!) It's been really great to work with Peter and to see how he seamlessly weaves the back story into the scripts.
You recently attended your first comic convention, the New York Comic Con. How did you feel about the show, the fans and the atmosphere?
It was great. By nature I'm kind of shy so I was nervous about the whole thing, but the Dark Tower fans and the Marvel fans were really supportive about the work we've done, so I felt really happy about that. It was also fun to walk around the convention and see how much great work is out there. (I also got to collect some comics that I've been trying to get hold of for quite a while!)
After Gunslinger Born wraps up, do you think there's any chance you'll dabble in comics again?
Oh yes! Comics are really magical, and I love that. As long as Marvel will have me, I'll be sticking around!