By Zack Quaintance — David Moses LeNoir sent us his first comic earlier this year, saying a review would be cool but more than that he just wanted to share it. That, I think, is indicative of a passion for writing and drawing (both of which he does...and does well, too) that also shows in his work. Dave, as you’ll read in a moment, is heavily influenced by Jack Kirby, both in aesthetic and in the sort of larger than life (yet grounded in dynamics) stories he likes to tell.
The best way to get to know him (in addition to the questions below) is probably to read his comic, which is available here (and highly recommended). You can also find him on Twitter @MosesLeNoir and his ongoing comic @GJSwmlf. It’s called Galactic Junk Squad (Well, More Like Family), described by its Twitter page as a cosmic cacophony about a family of space beings who run an intergalactic junkyard. The book is written and drawn by LeNoir, with lettering by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. Think Jack Kirby writing/drawing a dysfunctional family sitcom and you’ll have a decent idea of what to expect.
Anyway, enough! Onward to the five questions…
Q: I think the phrase I see most often associated with Galactic Junk Squad (Well, More Like Family) is Kirby-esque…what kind of relationship do you have with Jack Kirby’s work?
A: For me, Kirby attains a level of dynamic energy and has a connection to the marrow of life that is unmatched in comics. I haven’t been able to shake the purity of his creative expression. His imagination was unhinged from limitation, and he used it in service to humanity - to pursue tough questions. Kirby is equal parts artist, philosopher, and prophet. For example, he did an interview alongside Carmine Infantino where he reveals the underpinnings of the Fourth World, which dealt with the effects of technology on humanity; he was both prescient and ambivalent as a futurist. But his exploration of technology always came back to his philosophical center: the struggles and potential of the human spirit. I think that’s the thing for me: wherever Jack goes he pushes the boundaries, but the core is always humanity.
Q: So then, can you narrow it down to a top 5 of favorite Kirby creations?
A: That’s a tough one! Many people think Jack needed editing, but I disagree. Most of my favorite stuff from him was what he wrote for himself. Top of the list has got to be Forever People, simply for the subjects he tackled: fascism, the promises and pitfalls of youth, and the practical failure of heroism that is, somehow, ultimately hopeful. It’s extremely relevant today. Close behind that is the rest of the Fourth World, which was massive in scope, but dealt with mundane circumstances; like, here are gods that have to disguise themselves and deal with bureaucracy or bullets or Darkseid - the embodiment of evil - chilling on their couch! Next, 2001: A Space Odyssey, mostly because of the beautiful cosmic absurdity. I feel like he was the most unfiltered in that series. It was pure, high-concept Kirby philosophy. And Mike Royer, who’s my favorite inker for Jack, does some truly beautiful work there. Next, it’s mid-to-late era Fantastic Four. Sinnott’s inks were incredible, and Lee did great work interpreting Jack’s story sense - not to mention, the FF are the foundation for the Marvel Universe. Then, I think, everything Black Panther that he did, because Jack wanted to push the conversation forward. He knew he was writing mostly for kids, so he built in assumptions that countered the general American narrative about race. The period of his work between 1967-1976 was where I think he hit his strongest stride.
Q: I know you mentioned that this was your first comic. Can you talk about where the idea for this book came from and how it developed into a fully-formed comic?
A: Before this, I wrote a full five-issue arc of a comic in an entirely different style, and I was planning on farming out the art duties. My wife kept prodding me to do the art, but I didn’t feel ready. Then one day we were driving out of town when suddenly this thought poked into my head: “hillbilly space family that runs a junkyard in space,” and for the rest of the night I couldn’t stop thinking about it. This was the thing I knew I wanted to draw, and I was going to pack as much Kirby crackle and reflective metal into it as I could! So I took that initial idea and started teasing it out into a script. It became a cute little one-shot with a happily-ever-after ending. But in the process of drawing it, I thought, what if it didn’t end there? It became a sandbox for me, where I could explore any and all ideas that I have. So more characters, like The Catastrophe Twins, started surfacing. More and more of the mythos of this world developed, and even though it became decidedly less “hillbilly” than the original idea, I wanted to try and retain a humorous element.
Q: The banter in this book strikes me as being as witty as a well-done sitcom. What are some of your favorite TV family comedies?
A: Thank you! That’s nice to hear because I feel like I’m not particularly good at banter. Brooklyn 99 is a modern classic. I feel like each show has at least one big laugh. Definitely the first three seasons of Arrested Development - I am in awe at what Mitch Hurwitz was able to do with thirty plot threads and subtlety. The IT Crowd is another one. Also, reaching way back, the Dick Van Dyke Show, which my wife and I have watched through three times.
Q: Not to be too intrusive, but has your own family read your work, and if so, has there been any feedback?
A: Yes! Good feedback, actually! We’re all very supportive of each other’s creative endeavors. All of the family that has read it has been encouraging. Even if comics may not be their “thing,” they still support it. I haven’t gotten, “Hey, is that supposed to be about me??” Really, I have not been writing it in a way where I’m directly referencing things that have actually happened, or where characters are based on my family members. If anything, the Galactic Junk Squad (Well, More Like Family) represents different sides of myself, each vying for dominance - or at least a modicum of control - and I say, “Let’s see what happens when it all falls apart.” I want to make it as human and relatable as I can, but set it against a crazy cosmic backdrop.
+1: Funniest family drama story you’re able/willing to share…
A: When I was probably two or three, my brother told my mom that he wanted a TV for his room for Christmas. This was back in the 80’s when there was just one TV in most homes. My mom said, “Get realistic,” and I said, “Yeah, get real lipstick!”
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