Recently, Comic Watch got the opportunity to talk with W. Maxwell Prince about his new comic miniseries King of Nowhere from BOOM! Studios. W. Maxwell Prince is an Eisner-nominated writer perhaps best known for the anthology series Ice Cream Man. Joining him on King of Nowhere are Eisner-nominated artists Tyler and Hilary Jenkins (Grass Kings) with letters by AndWorld Design. King of Nowhere’s first issue drops March 4th.
Comic Watch: This first issue — without giving too much away — follows a man named Denis into a bar full of peculiar characters. Even the bartender’s head is upside down. If you found yourself in a bar full of strangers and had to explain King of Nowhere to one of them, what would you say?
W. Maxwell Prince: The first thing I’d say is, “Hello, stranger. Can you buy me a drink? I left my wallet at home, but will absolutely pay you back the next time I see you.” Then, after sitting down with this person whom I’ll never see again, I’d tell them that King of Nowhere is about a scumbag named Denis who wakes up in a town that makes no sense. Weird shit there ensues.
CW: A lot of readers may know you from Ice Cream Man, an anthology series. After spending so long writing shorter stories for ICM, have you had to adjust your writing process returning to a longer (albeit five issue) story?
WMP: It’s been probably the biggest writing challenge I’ve faced in the last few years. For the most part, I have no real interest right now in writing serial narratives (i.e., standard comics fare wherein you progress a story across multiple issues, writing for the big cliffhanger, developing characters over time and space.)
But Eric Harburn at BOOM! convinced me to work outside of my comfort zone and have a little fun. And so I’ve been trying to do just that.
Even though the demands of serial storytelling are such that you have to carry over ideas from issue to issue, I’ve tried to trick my brain into treating each issue as a one-shot: building something new from the ground-up each time, allowing space for different kinds of storytelling within the confines of a continuous, single story.
We’ll see if people think I’ve done a decent job.
CW: You’ve said in an interview for ICM how one of your influences for that series was growing up on Twilight Zone, but what pieces of fiction have influenced King of Nowhere?
WMP: KoN is probably most directly influenced by all the novels and short stories of Denis Johnson, with Jesus’ Son and Resuscitation of a Hanged Man given special weight. But also: George Saunders, Cormac McCarthy, Grace Paley, and Rick Moody.
I’d mention some comic stuff, but I’m not sure I know of any important comics about mutants. Do you?
CW: Despite its name, was the titular town of “Nowhere” inspired by any particular places, real or imagined?
WMP: Nowhere (née North Waherek) is supposed to be in California, but a lot the town specifics are pulled from where I grew up in New Jersey—an admixture of suburban sprawl, old-town Main Street-ism, and surprisingly quick access to the salty coast.
CW: What drew you to Tyler Jenkins’ art and Hilary Jenkins’ colors for this comic?
WMP: I could try to articulate this, but just look at their stuff—who would ever turn down a chance to work with them? Certainly not me, which is why I said yes to Eric and BOOM! when they offered I do a book with them.
CW: How much detail do you put in your scripts? With such a visually diverse cast of characters, is every character’s appearance, for example, pre-set, and how much do you leave up to Tyler?
WMP: It’s the expected give-and-take between writer and artist. Sometimes I get very specific in my scripts, be it about a certain character’s look, or a location’s topography. But then, other times, Tyler (and Hilary) will have a better or different idea, and will explore that on the page. Every artist I work with has carte blanche to follow their instincts; I’m a big advocate of getting out of the way of myself and letting trained professionals do the thing they’re trained to do professionally. I’m exceedingly lucky that the Jenkins family is very good at their craft.
CW: Creature creators from Mary Shelley to Guillermo del Toro have used the monstrous or not-quite-human as a means of social commentary. In introducing readers to the inhabitants of Nowhere, do you aim to offer any social commentary of your own? And if so, how?
WMP: I’m not sure I’m smart enough to offer anything in the way of social commentary. The inhabitants of Nowhere are people going about their lives—lives full of wonder, frustration, love, contempt, violence, peace, petty stuff, big stuff. Nowhere is just the world as I’ve experienced it, but some people have gills and horns.
You can join Denis on his strange adventure and meet the inhabitants of Nowhere by picking up King of Nowhere somewhere (your local comic book store or online) March 4th.
Out of Nowhere: An Interview with W. Maxwell Prince
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