Carla Speed McNeil says: "Carla Speed McNeil lives in Maryland, lives with computer-jockey husband Michael and ever-growing occasional horde of wireheads, dead squirrels, and songbirds. And turkeys. Been doing FINDER in its current form since Fall 1997. Will talk cooking with anybody who does not suggest new ways to serve potted meat and soup mix."
FINDER is, I think, what some sf critics call a planetary romance. It's the setting, the sociological tangle around it and the rich mix of weirdos in it, that make it what it is. It's an ongoing story about a mad world and everything that fills it. There's not another thing in the medium like it. So I wanted to look inside her head:
What was the impetus behind FINDER? Did you simply have the original story in your head, or was there something specific you wanted to achieve with science fiction?
I had a thousand-plus ideas in my head. They were beginning to rot.
This is not as glamorous as some may think. You can see hordes of people at cons who have this problem. They're the ones who've been carrying the same sketchbook for four years. It has a sweat mark from the hand they carry it with. In '95 when I started writing and drawing every idea that popped into my head, I went through seven sketchbooks and a foot-high stack of typing paper.... Since I started doing the comic in earnest I haven't had time for a sketchbook.
I'm too 'young' as a writer to know where I'm going yet. Some themes are beginning to take shape -- gender issues, the creator as a character, some other things similarly vague. In time.
Is FINDER one long finite story, or is it becoming a skein of complete stories simply set in the same milieu?
I'm hoping I've made a place with a high enough ceiling that I can do whatever I want with it. There is a Big Picture that will slowly piece itself together over time, but, like most Big Pictures, some stories will be more affected by it and some hardly at all. The milieu is evolving into a character in its own right, with plenty of room for marginally-related complete stories.
Are the FINDER readers coming out of the usual comics audience, do you think, or are you reaching a more diverse crowd? Who's reading FINDER?
Diverse, God yes. Letter writers and con-goers are an amazingly mixed bag. I get letters from people who send me emu feathers and diagrams of plans for biological architecture. I get a lot of bright-eyed folks who normally read a lot of prose science fiction, who are getting more than a little discontented with the ever-shrinking pool of authors available to
them. I get letters from librarians who accuse me of reducing them to tears. I meet charming middle-aged men who ask me how I write a male character 'so convincingly' and then answer all my questions about kashrut law. I assume that Indi'ns and beefcake fanciers and dollmakers and neurologists and linguists and MTFs and tattoo addicts and avowed schizophrenics and fantasy authors read all kinds of comics, but to me they talk about all this other stuff. There's always somebody interesting to talk to.
What graphic novels do you keep close and never want to lose?
Yes, Carla. I'm trying to sell books here.
FROM HELL. STINZ: CHARGER. SAFE AREA GORAZDE, BREATHTAKER, POISON RIVER. TO THE HEART OF THE STORM. BIRDLAND, FRANK, THE KINDLY ONES. CASTLE WAITING, CEREBUS: GUYS. ALIENS: LABYRINTH. SPLIT-LEVEL DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR. Probably two dozen more that I'd put in a big box in storage if I lost my house, but those I'd scour the stores to replace if the house burned down.
What're you listening to these days? Especially while you're working?
KODO: MONDO HEAD in the car. Obsessively.
In the studio, the DVD is king. CHOCOLAT, BOUND, SLEUTH, SULLIVAN'S
TRAVELS. PRIZZI'S HONOR, THE LIMEY, THE OTHERS. DON'T BOTHER TO KNOCK, DONNIE DARKO, MEN IN BLACK, GOTHAM. PORCO ROSSO, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. A ROOM WITH A VIEW, TOPSY TURVY, TAXI DRIVER, and, God help me, TITANIC. I blame that last on Donna Barr.
For some reason, music makes me itch when I'm working. Movies cut up the day and keep me interested but don't distract me... except when I'm writing. I don't listen to anything while writing.
You can find Carla on the web at http://www.lightspeedpress.com.