Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Terry Moore

The incoming writer of SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE and RUNAWAYS dishes on how to craft a perfect teenage tale, working with Spidey's classic squeeze and running away with Marvel's Los Angeles. Plus: preview art galore!

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By Kiel Phegley When new broke last summer that writer Terry Moore would be joining Marvel's extended family to pen two of the company's most acclaimed teen series in SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE and RUNAWAYS, fan excitement exploded that the indie creator known for crafting character-centric stories would be tackling the Marvel Universe. But what many readers didn't know was that beneath the black and white cred of the acclaimed Strangers in Paradise creator beat the heart of an old school Marvel fan. With the first issue of MARY JANE dropping on August 6 and the new volume of RUNAWAYS following on August 27, Marvel.com took a minute to pick Moore's brain on what elements of his favorite Marvel stories of the past will come to bear in his new work, what lessons he learned from Brian K. Vaughan and what insidious threats wait around the corner in the form of well known villains and drama class drama queens.

SPIDER-MAN
LOVES MARY
JANE #1 cover
by Craig
Rousseau

Marvel.com: You established yourself as a Marvel writer by coming to Joe Quesada and asking for the gig. How long have you been a Marvel reader? Terry Moore: Marvel was my book of choice when I was a kid, so I think I have seniority on almost everybody on that. And I've continued to keep up with them over the centuries. I've always had my favorites, so I have a lot of pedigree in Marvel. It just didn't show in publishing until now. Marvel.com: And was Spider-Man one of your go-to Marvel characters? Terry Moore: Oh yeah, absolutely. Spider-Man was the Marvel character that I latched onto, and he made Marvel's New York real to me because he was real to me. I could latch onto and relate to the character of Peter Parker, and he was the gateway that made me interested in X-Men and Fantastic Four and Captain America and everything else. All of that other stuff was grounded [by] some kid going to school in Queens. Marvel.com: There's a pretty big cast at work in SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE. Starting out in your story, where will we find MJ, Liz, Harry and the rest of the gang in terms of their personal relationships? Terry Moore: My take on it is that it's the next school year. My point of view is that everything else that came before was Freshman year, and I'm writing Sophomore year. So they've had a summer break, and they come back a few months older, a few months wiser. They're still 16, but they have a history together, and I'm building off of that in my story.

SPIDER-MAN
LOVES MARY
JANE preview art
by Craig
Rousseau

Marvel.com: How do you think they view themselves now that they're not Freshmen anymore? Isn't part of that Sophomore mindset to get really cocky and self-assured? Terry Moore: That's exactly Liz's take on it. She shows up on the first day of school and can't believe how young the Freshmen look. Everyone has their own style and their own way of rolling with it. That's what makes it fun as a writer, how everybody handles the same situation. Sophomore year of high school is kind of like being on a really bad flight. It depends on the personalities how they handle it. That's the fun in the story. Marvel.com: Two big elements that you're introducing are Mary Jane getting a job and some "drama" in her theater class… Terry Moore: [Laughs] You gotta expect to find drama in a theater class! Marvel.com: These are pretty relatable teenage problems. Where did you look for inspiration in making these plotlines feel like real high school adventures? Terry Moore: Well, the truth is, I'm one of those unfortunate people who never grew up so I don't have to dig very deep to find that stuff. I think at the core I'm still 17, so it's really easy to tap into these things. I remember high school as if it was yesterday. And I know an awful lot of young people who are either in school or just getting out, and watch a lot of the same movies and TV shows. So it's really not that hard to tap in. It's not like I grew up and matured and became a banker and then someone asked me to write a story about high school like it was another life.

SPIDER-MAN
LOVES MARY
JANE preview art
by Craig
Rousseau

It's really easy for me. I don't know how to explain it. I heard ["Peanuts" creator] Charles Schultz once say that it was so easy for him to write these kids because that part of him never left really. He still [dragged] it around with him inside. So I guess it's something like that. If you're grown up, then this job isn't for you. Marvel.com: What are some of your favorite elements from the original Spider-Man stories you'll include? Terry Moore: Well, the big thing for me was Gwen Stacy. This is the only Spider-Man book that has Gwen in it. Everyone knows I'm attached to Gwen, and that was the big selling point for me. I can stay in those golden years when Peter Parker's life was fascinating on a level we can all relate to: here's a regular guy who puts on a sweater and goes to school and has these cute girls he talks to, and then at night he puts on a costume and fights adults. And then the next day, he has to go back to school. That's the Peter Parker I like. That's what I love about this series. It stays in that golden period that Stan Lee established before it gets into all the wild stuff. Marvel.com: One standout thing about the previous volumes of the series was the art tone of the book where the look of SMLMJ was defined by both the artists and the softer color pallet. Have you been talking with Craig Rousseau about synching up with that style while retaining his own strengths? Terry Moore: You know what? We never had that conversation, and it really wasn't necessary because Craig was chosen to do what he does naturally, which is draw this particular look [that he] has. It comes very easy to him, and the book has developed to his look very easily. It's not an anime or a manga take. It's much more of an American animation look, and it's

SPIDER-MAN
LOVES MARY
JANE preview art
by Craig
Rousseau

different. To me the book looks fantastic. And we have a really good colorist that's really bringing out and filling in all the space in between the lines. I love the look of the book now, and I hope the readers do too. It's different, but it still has a young, American teenager look to it. Marvel.com: With RUNAWAYS, you'd noted that you'd heard of the series but didn't read it until you started talking with Marvel about the job and then got it from your son. How old is he, and what's his taste in comics like? Terry Moore: He was in his young 20s when this all happened. He's 25 now. He's a serious Marvel nut. He knows more about the [Marvel Universe] than I do, so it was very fortunate for me to be able to talk to him about this stuff. I said, "Hey, we're talking about RUNAWAYS. You have the series, right?" And he had the whole thing! So I took it with me on summer vacation and read it on the beach. Marvel.com: You're working for the first time on a series that involves you playing off other writers' work and the larger Marvel U in a big way. How much will recent events in RUNAWAYS and their Secret Invasion limited series play into what you're doing on the book? Terry Moore: Actually, one of the things that was good about these series that I took into consideration was that both SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE and RUNAWAYS are out of the line of fire with major continuity. Both books are kind of in their own world—one via time span and the other via geography. So that was good for me. For want of a better word, I'm a Marvel rookie. I can't walk in my first year and know all the continuity I need to know. It's really great for me on these two series because it takes a lot of pressure off [having] to follow every single move that Tony Stark and the Skrulls and everyone are doing.

RUNAWAYS #1
cover by
Humberto Ramos

Marvel.com: When we start off, the kids are back in their home base of Los Angeles. What is their plan of action moving forward, and what external forces might be lurking there? Terry Moore: They just want to get back to L.A. and get a life. That's their plan, but when they arrive, they realize some practical matters have to be dealt with, like "Where." They've lost all their hiding places, and so they've got a lot of logistical stuff to take care of. And while they're dealing with that, this consequence from the past comes up, and it is a fierce, fierce consequence. It's something that happened during the [Brian K. Vaughan] run, and now the price has to be paid. Marvel.com: You've mentioned wanting to play with Gert and the Pride and other "classic" Runaways cast members if you could. Is part of the fun of this book finding out what the core of the series is and then doing a new twist on it? Terry Moore: I think it's important to build on the story that's there and stay in the world that the readers love. Brian Vaughan set up an incredible world, and a lot of things happened during his run on the series. A lot of what did happen was left open ended. So it was really easy to pick up one of those threads and just carry it on. I like writing about consequences in my stories anyway, so this one seemed to me too big to ignore. Marvel.com: You've got a new team member in the group in the form of Klara Prast. Since she's both a runaway super kid and a kid from a century ago, what kind of challenges does she present to keeping the team together as a tight unit?

RUNAWAYS
preview art by
Humberto Ramos

Terry Moore:
Because of her age, she's willing to let the older kids take the lead—at least in the beginning. She's got a lot of qualities. We've really only seen a hint of the person she is, especially the person she will become. It's really fun for somebody Molly's age to be there so that somebody can play off of Molly. I've already enjoyed putting those two together. They have something in common because they're so close in age, but in some ways Klara is much older and wiser than Molly because of the way she's grown up and the life she's experienced already. She's an amazing character. She's kind of like Dorian Gray in a way. She's much older than she looks. Marvel.com: While you'll obviously be keeping mainstays like Nico and Chase in the forefront, do you have any thoughts on our resident Skrull, Xavin, and the son of Ultron, Victor? How does the team keep on stable footing with two wildcards like that in the mix? Terry Moore: A lot of this is like college roommates—they may not match when they come together, but circumstances exist that they are together, and so they find things they have in common, especially in adversaries. One great way to bring people together is to have a common adversary. That's always there. It's the reason why when bands aren't on tour, they tend to fight and break up. It has been fun, even in the few issues I've already done, to find the heritage in Victor and Xavin. Every time they open their mouths, I as a writer have to think about the wisdom behind their words. Where are they coming from? Why do they have those opinions? If it's a good or a bad opinion…why? I have to think about the weight behind them. You learn a lot more about a series writing it than you do reading it. For every word they say, I spend about three times as much reading it. When you look at a character like Molly, you think, "I can figure her out. I've known a lot of 12-year-old girls, so I can imagine it in my mind." But when you get to a character like Ultron,

RUNAWAYS
preview art by
Humberto Ramos

you're thinking, "God…how do I think like a computer? How can I figure out where he's coming from on morality or right and wrong or the end justifying the means? Where does he stand on all this quick decision-making that has to be done in a conflict?" It's really fascinating. I guess what I come up with is what ends up on the paper. Marvel.com: With Los Angeles being largely unexplored territory in the Marvel Universe, will you be expanding the L.A. map in terms of new locales, characters and other story elements? Terry Moore: I think that's a given because you need to get out and use your turf. And it's wide open out there for me. There's nothing to get in my way. I was actually talking to [editor] Nick [Lowe] about this on the issue I'm on now. The last couple of issues I'd done had stayed in one place and after 20 or 30 pages of that, I was getting antsy, much less the kids. They've got all this ability and all this power, and they just want to get out and use it! It's a very high energy team, and they have all of southern California to play with. Yeah, they're going to use it. And it's an area I know, so it's easy for me to sit down and think about how they're going to tear apart Disneyland or something. [Laughs] Get ready for Terry Moore's Marvel debut with SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE and RUNAWAYS on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!

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      2 comments
      kreemarvel
      kreemarvel

      [color=seagreen] I just read Dead Wrong and Rock Zombies.I did not enjoy them as much as other Runaways stories, and I was surprised I didn't.I expected Moore would do a better job (from my POV). I guess his being new to the genre is one reason, but there's also this:[/color] [quote] But when you get to a character like Ultron, you're thinking, "God…how do I think like a computer? How can I figure out where he's coming from on morality or right and wrong or the end justifying the means? Where does he stand on all this quick decision-making that has to be done in a conflict?"[/quote] [color=seagreen] That's a problem. Victor should not be seen as a computer, and be written as one. He should be seen as this kid who grew up with a mother who loved him, taught him to be good, and obeyed her as much as he could. He is a kid who loves super heroes, and would love to be one of them, or be among them. Then, he realizes he is this computer thing, too, and has some "computer" abilities. But that other side of him should never be lost...[/color]