Comic Book Yeti contributor and designated AHOY Comics expert Katie Liggera welcomes Stuart Moore into the Yeti Cave to talk about writing The Wrong Earth: Purple, the connection between Hill Street Blues and The Dark Knight Returns, and all the great comics from the 1980s.
COMIC BOOK YETI: Welcome to our first interview here at Comic Book Yeti, Stuart! You probably already know what a huge fan I am of your previous work and my obsession with writing about the AHOY Comics staple comic series, Captain Ginger. It’s a true delight to finally get to sit down and talk with you for a bit. To start us off, I’d like to ask this: What was your first thought when asked to write a one-shot in The Wrong Earth comic universe?
STUART MOORE: Thanks, Katie—it’s great to talk with you too. My first thoughts were: Tim Burton, Michael Keaton, Prince, “You Belong to the City.” Or, to boil it down: I’ve seen the future, and boy it’s rough.
CBY: The Wrong Earth: Purple takes place on Earth-Kappa, a world living endlessly through our historical 1980s. What drew you to set this comic during this iconic and tumultuous decade?
SM: To answer that, I have to back up and talk about the WRONG EARTH multiverse for a minute. Richard Fame, the alter ego of Dragonfly/Man on every Earth we know of, is a rich Wall Street industrialist. The 80s were probably the high point for those guys: They weren’t just raking in money like the greedy bastards they are, they were praised for it in the press. That’s the first time that had been true for close to a hundred years. And that period really ushered in our current era of oppressive billionaire-ocracy, where we seem to have decided that the rich owe nothing to anyone but themselves.
I also like the music of the 80s, so I decided to try capturing that in a medium with NO SOUND. Brilliant, huh?
CBY: The 1980s kicked off the beginning of both modernized superhero comics and superhero comic book films (Tim Burton’s Batman debuted in 1989). Did you take inspiration from these mediums when penning TWE: Purple?
SM: Definitely! Comics were heavily influenced by TV back then—actually, it’s much more specific than that: They were heavily influenced by Hill Street Blues. HSB was an amazingly ambitious show that broke a lot of traditions and made quality TV possible. It’s also a program with hideously problematic political and sexual overtones that make it nearly impossible to revisit today.
Anyway: Hill Street shared a DNA with Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke and a lot of lesser comics, a dark view of the world that we now dismiss under the description “grim and gritty.” I wanted to play with that, to try to capture that feeling of oppressive urban darkness with, hopefully, a modern, far less dead-girlfriendish vibe.
CBY: Springboarding off the previous question, who was your favorite superhero and/or superhero comic book series during the ‘80s?
SM: Well, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing was my favorite, but that probably doesn’t count as superheroes. Marvelman/Miracleman, of course of course of course. I’ve just been rereading Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen’s Legion, which was amazing stuff. Miller’s Daredevil, the Claremont/Sinkiewicz New Mutants, and oh, The New Teen Titans! There was a lot of terrific work being done.
CBY: What is the basis behind the “Purple” in The Wrong Earth: Purple? Is this a reference to Prince and Purple Rain?
SM: As they say in particularly tedious textbooks: The answer to that is left as an exercise for the reader.
CBY: I’ve had access to peeking at a few panels for the upcoming comic, and Fred Harper’s artwork is stunning. The look of the one-shot mirrors the previous Wrong Earth visual style, yet there’s certainly a darker, grittier flair attributed to TWE: Purple. What sort of art direction did you and Fred discuss for this issue? Further, how did you and the creative team decide to incorporate the color purple visually into the series?
SM: I totally agree about Fred…he’s completely outdone himself here. Yes, purple was always planned as a motif. At one point Tom suggested Fred try coloring it in ONLY purple tones, to give an accent to his incredibly detailed black and white art. Fred went away and came back with a fully colored book that looked absolutely beautiful.
CBY: Obviously, the 1980s saw the emergence of music styles across genres. The emergence of electronic dance music and synthesized sound appeared, as well as new wave and Modern rock tracks. What songs influenced this comic? Were there any specific songs or soundtracks you listened to while writing?
SM: A whole variety of stuff, ranging from Pet Shop Boys to Guns N Roses. I’m probably the only person in history to re-watch Prince’s Graffiti Bridge for research purposes.
CBY: Can you believe 1980 was over 40 years ago? That’s nearly twice my lifetime! What is one thing (if anything) you would bring back from the 1980s?
SM: I dunno…fondue pots? The one thing I WOULDN’T bring back is those hideous Snackwell cookies. Pure sugar; they messed with your head while pretending to help you diet. Wait a minute, TWICE your lifetime??
CBY: Finally, who is your favorite Wrong Earth character? Mine would be Lady Dragonflyman, for obvious reasons.
SM: She/they/it are amazing, yes. Probably my favorite, too. But I also liked the Stinger from Earth-Zeta. Something about the way Jamal drew him really broke my heart.
CBY: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me, Stuart. I appreciate it greatly. Do you have any upcoming projects in the works? And where can we find you on social media?
SM: Yes! I’ve got a fun sci-fi-medical-farce story in AWA/Upshot’s book ET ER #2, out in June. I’m working on another Marvel novel; I’ve written a few of those already. And Fred Harper and I will have big big news about something 100% Dragonfly-free to announce…soon!
Me me me:
Instagram: stuartmoore01 (just to confuse you)