One of the best indy books out of Ireland this year was Little Room’s If Only I Was A Waterproof Watch. An encapsulating tale that sticks to your mind long after reading it. A debut book from writer John Currivan and David Mooney with a cover from Nicholas Grey, the guys got together for a chat on the book and where they go from here in an exclusive roundtable discussion for ICN.
David O’Leary: Firstly, IOIWAWW to me is one of the highlight indy books of the year. Can you tell us firstly the genesis of the story?
John Currivan: Wow. IOIWAWW is a lot of initials.
There’s a Korean film called ‘I’m a Cyborg (but that’s ok)’. I saw it once in the Grafton street HMV and read the back of the box. It’s about a girl in an asylum who thinks she’s a cyborg. I thought it sounded interesting. I thought boys play at being robots and soldiers, what do girls play as? Princesses, witches and mermaids. So how would the two play together? I didn’t actually watch the film until about a year or so later, and my script was already written. It’s a good film.
I’m an actor and so I wrote the script first as a stage play. Which is why it is quite dialogue heavy. Also it was originally meant to be named ‘The Robot and The Mermaid’ (Very clever). I began writing it backstage in the Abbey Theatre where I worked one summer. It stayed a play (unperformed) for ages before even considering it as a comic.
DO’L: As writer John, did you approach the story with a specific artist in mind or was it a case that David came on board later?
JC: Since it was originally a play, not a comic I had no artist in mind while writing.
Myself and Dave were best buds as kids and grew up together in each others houses playing each others computer games and painting each others Warhammer models. We were always making stuff up, like superheroes or computer game characters, like the third Mario brother.
We hit secondary school and sort of fell out of touch, no bad blood just different schools, but when I hit on the notion that I wanted to write comic books I instantly thought of Dave. He’s one of my favourite artists and someone who I knew I could talk to and share ideas with.
I had an idea for an Irish comic character and that we could create a series of books about this character but having no clue how to approach creating a comic book we decided to do a test run to try find a way to work together.
I figured, I had a script on my computer not going anywhere that might work for a comic and I wrote ‘Robot and Mermaid’ in comic-script (which I learned from the back of Graphic Novels and a recently acquired writing programme on my computer). I passed the script to Dave and kept in touch while he worked. And ‘Waterproof Watch’ was our test run.
DO’L: The story itself was one that stayed forefront in my mind long after reading it. It really made you ask questions of which of the two characters if any were telling truths or telling tales and it was surprisingly complex. Was this the intention all along or did the story take shape itself as it was been written?
JC: !!!SPOILER ALERT!!! Just had to put that there for anyone who hasn’t read the comic.
Yes the point of the story is sort of, ‘how do you know if a tale is true or false if you don’t see evidence either way’. And how that for children playing games and telling stories can be just as real as reality. Otherwise fairytales would be pointless.
The intention was that they were playing a game or at least one of them was and at the same time competing with each other for who believes who and whose story is better. Also slightly flirty like a childhood holiday romance.
I did have a little internal battle with the fantasy comic nerd and the realistic dramatist in me, kinda saying wouldn’t it be cool if it was real, but also that in the real world it can’t be true, and that its ok if it’s pretend. The great thing about comics as a medium is that anything goes, if you can imagine it and write and draw it why wouldn’t it be true. I left it deliberately open so neither side of me would be disappointed. But that’s why I think that it’s neither an adult’s or a child’s story. It’s both.
DO’L: There were some great uses of black and whites in the art. Was it a production thing to leave it B&W or was a colour book ever considered?
Dave Mooney: Colour was considered but (we’re poor) it was more cost effective to do in black and white. We did the best we could with the cross hatching and really used the most of ink and pencil with uninked sketches and ink washes. Plus it was to visually break up the back stories and the main story or the fantastical stories and reality.
JC: We wanted to differentiate the different worlds in the comic and just because it was in black and white there was still room to go a little bit mad and try different styles of drawing. We noticed that when scanning the images to the computer the pencil shading didn’t look too bad and that it gave really interesting different shades. So in the end Dave managed to create pictures from sci-fi, fantasy and reality, and make them different.
DM: Plus black and white has a charm that colour doesn’t have.
DO’L: Was this a one off with these characters or are there plans for a follow up?
JC: Do you want there to be a follow up?
DO’L: Wouldn’t mind it. (Laughs)
DO’L: What was the collaborative process like between the three of you while producing the book?
DM: Not very. (Laughs) I’m kidding. It’s great.
JC: Well, myself and Dave met up and talked through the story and ideas for the art with the story.
Nicholas Grey: Yeah, when I met up with the guys, they had pretty much everything figured out already. So I remember the process going almost comically smooth, no demands or arguments, just nodding heads all round
DO’L: The cover art of Nicholas Grey is astounding. We have showcased his art on a couple of occasions recently on ICN to some great comments and views from our readers. Could you tell us firstly how Nicholas came on board?
JC: I was open to Dave possibly doing the cover but we both kind of agreed that its better to have a different artists for the cover and interior art.
DM: Me and Nick were in college together and I love his style.
Nick: Apparently it’s astounding!
DM: His work is pretty dark and I knew that he would do a great cover
NG: Me and Dave hung around a lot in college and had similar tastes in art, so for me it was a good excuse to work with him again.
DM: We like dark things, weird things, funny noises and stupid shit.
DO’L: When working on the layout of the cover how much of the process was for Nicholas to do himself or was there an idea for the cover from John beforehand?
NG: Did we actually discuss the cover? I think I briefly mentioned a few loose ideas and all were greeted with enthusiasm, so they seemed perfectly happy for me to just go ahead with whatever I saw fit.
DM: John gave Nick a brief overview of the story and the characters and the sort of style and we never actually compared drawings
JC: I was actually astounded at the first cover Nick emailed me.
NG: I sort of went into comic book cover mode and put a girl on the cover with a really curvaceous posterior.
JC: I reminded him that the character was a child and that we might need to tone it down. A few days later I got the new picture with an email subject titled “If Only I had a less sexy bum’.
DO’L: What have you found the reaction to be for the book now that the release is behind ye?
DM: Generally very positive. We haven’t heard a bad thing about it.
NG: Yeah nobody is going out of their way to give out to us.
JC: Everyone seems to enjoy reading it. So we must be doing something right. It’s only now a case of trying to sell and market it better.
DO’L: What is next on the plate for each of you?
JC: Our next comic is called LANDMARK. I’m currently doing a tour of a play ‘Skullduggery’ which will be in Bewley’s Café Theatre Dublin from 17th- 30th October (plug,plug,plug) And I’m starting rehearsals for ‘Romeo And Juliet’ next week. Also working on ideas for future plays and comics whenever I can.
DM: I have a full time job and currently working on the next comic LANDMARK
NG: Illustrations, email me. (Laughs)
DO’L: What is next for Little Room moving forward from here?
JC: More plays, more comics (Landmark) and trying to make more stuff.
DM: Watch this space.
DO’L: Guys thanks for your time, take care.
JC, DM, NG: No bother.
Little Room Productions email— [email protected]
Little Room facebook— http://www.facebook.com/pages/Little-Room/159168000806283
Nick’s website— http://www.nickgrey.com/
Nick’s email address— [email protected]
My thanks to the guys for this great chat. Check our the above links and keep an eye our for the talented trio as they move forward on their respective works.