By Zack Quaintance — Vault Comics’ newest series, Queen of Bad Dreams, launches this week. Like the publisher’s other offerings, this one features a thoughtful and complex concept executed with honed storytelling chops and a fearless eye for narrative innovation. In other words, it’s very good. Click here, btw, for our full Queen of Bad Dreams #1 review.
We, in fact, liked Queen of Bad Dreams so much, that we reached out to Vault and setup a quick email chat with the comic’s writer, Danny Lore. During said chat, we discussed world-building, the artistic interest in dreams, artist Jordi Perez’s stunning visuals, and a bit more. Check it out below, and don’t forget to snag a copy of Queen of Bad Dreams when it hits comicbook stores tomorrow. If you’ve sampled other Vault books, you already know.
Let’s do this!
Queen of Bad Dreams - Danny Lore Interview
Batman’s Bookcase: Whenever I read a new comic as good as this one I like to start by asking the creator...who are you and how did you create a world this compelling?
Danny Lore: I’m glad you enjoyed it! As for me, I’m Danny Lore, and I think the best description of who I am is a queer black writer from Harlem and the Bronx. Really, everything I write comes back to that. I love stories where brown people get to be center stage, where they get to move in and effect their own communities.
The Queen of Bad Dreams world is really a team effort. I bring what I can to the world building, but Jordi and Dearbhla make some of the coolest parts of it. I was just looking over some of the art, where I’d describe a simple/basic room- and if you only knew what Jordi had done! It was nothing I could have imagined, and was closer to the heart of the world than I could ever get in a script. In the first issue, I said ‘a scribble monster,’ and Dearbhla’s colors hit the home run.
BB: An intense interest in dreams is something artists sometimes seem to share, though it rarely seems to be approached the same way twice. Can you talk about what sparked your own interest in dreams and how you’ve chosen to approach it here?
Lore: I used to be heavily into new age spirituality, and that was where my interest in dreams started. My interest has waxed and waned and waxed again throughout the years. As it stands, what I love about dreaming is basically what you said- artists have such varied ways of approaching the dreamworld. We all dream differently, and so I really liked the idea of a world in which that makes a difference. Some people have very realistic dreams, some have really abstract dreams, some remember them, some don’t- and Queen of Bad Dreams is a story in which all of those pieces can come together.
BB: I also felt a heavy scientific interest in this book, really more of a statement as to how the plot would be approaching dreams and their bearing on reality. How much and what sort of research did you do on dreaming and waking states while writing this story?
Lore: I watch a lot of conspiracy theory documentaries. Any of those documentaries about aliens, or cults or ‘this event was staged!’ And sometimes, those conspiracies come off the back of real research, successful or failed. More so than being about hard science, it’s primarily inspired by governmental agencies doing research on psychedelics and psychic abilities back in the 70s. From there, I started theorizing, wondering what would have happened if they’d discovered psychic abilities, and what that would mean.
BB: This book, I think it’s fair to say, has a singular aesthetic, one that extends to everything from clothes to vehicles to architecture. What sort of direction did you give Jordi Perez in the script, as far as the designs and the stylistic coherence of the visuals?
Lore: As I said before, so much of this book comes out of Jordi and Dearbhla’s brilliance! My initial concept owed a lot to Bladerunner and Paprika in terms of aesthetic, and Jordi went to town on that! I fell in love with Jordi’s designs pretty much immediately. In the same vein, I really love talking through concepts with Dearbhla, and then seeing where she takes them.
I can’t do what they do, so I really don’t want to step on their toes!
BB: One of the things I liked most about this script (among many) was the choice of second person for the narrative voice, how did you land on that perspective for your narration?
Lore: Queen of Bad Dreams went through a few different narrators over the course of the editing process. Viv’s voice was the strongest, in the end- she’s a character with sense (sometimes more sense than Daher!) who makes for a great narrator, but who also is really intimately connected to the story at large. And then telling the story to her child...this is a story about growing into your own, about being at crossroads in which you’re forced to make choices. Choices that have repercussions. It was very natural to have that conversation happen between a mother and her child. Every parent has to have those moments with their kid. And then, on an extra-textual level, it means that the reader has a different relationship with the story. They actively have a friend, someone who cares, and I really love writing a voice that heavy with empathy.
BB: I loved the ending here, from the colors on that last page to the design of the motorcycle...which is all my way of asking, what can you tell us about where this plot is going from here?
Lore: Trying to keep it spoiler free, we’re going to get straight to business! Daher knows there are parts of the story she’s missing, and in order to make a decision about Ava’s case, she needs to find out the truth. There are people who will do whatever they can to stand in her way, but she’s not alone. On a wider, thematic level, we’re going to talk a lot about who gets to be free, and what that means- and what people are willing to do in order to keep their version of autonomy.
Check our our full review of Queen of Bad Dreams #1!
Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.