Through his multitude of comics title, writer W. Maxwell Prince has wowed, haunted, and entertained audiences in equal measure. For his next title, it’s clear that he’s about to do all that and far more.
King of Nowhere is described by Prince as “the most important comic about mutants to be published next year.” After reading an advance copy of the first issue, I was blown away by the art of Tyler Jenkins and colors from Hilary Jenkins. But it’s also the story, equal parts complex and compelling, that will most certainly resonate with readers of all kinds.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Prince, where we went over the new series, the story’s motifs, his writing habits, and much more.
King of Knowhere #1 hits comics retailers on March 4 via BOOM! Studios.
King of Nowhere feels like it’s very much about mental illness, but maybe it’s also about addiction, or maybe it’s about finding your way. There’s clearly a layered experience when reading the first issue. Can you talk about your approach with the series?
W. Maxwell Prince: I approach pretty much all my writing the same way: gleaning from personal experience and concern, then kind of desalinating those ideas so that they fit into some kind of narrative. For KoN, I wanted to do a scumbag story—a comic about a guy who’s just always out of his depth, always drifting through the miraculous and mundane parts of life in a fog. So I started with Denis, and a world of weird stuff started to build itself around him.
Pacing is always so key for me when reading a comic, and I found the pace quite good between captions and dialogue, how do you go about speeding up or slowing down a single issue’s story?
WMP: Walter Pater said that “all art aspires to the condition of music.” And I think that’s absolutely true of good comics writing: you try to craft the pages in such a way that the story takes on the quality of a very dynamic song, switching between loud and soft, carrying you through movements. And if a guitar solo somehow finds its way in, rad.
I can only describe the visuals in this book as a cacophony of mind-bending delights, how much is scripted and how much room does artist Tyler Jenkins get to mix things up?
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.
When you were little, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?
WMP: I always wanted to be an actuary. It must be exhilarating to be able to assess risk, and then make financial decisions based on that assessment. What a rollercoaster that must be.
Is there a particular time and place you write?
WMP: I write a lot on the subway. I have a full-time job, so much of my writing takes place in the interstices. A general rule is that I don’t run if the sun isn’t out—the moon gives me nothing.
Do you have a writing routine?
WMP: I don’t really, but I always try to read 40 pages of a book before I dive into writing. I think it oils the machinery nicely.
If this series was pulled off as a TV show or movie, how would you envision it? Do you see it as animated, a certain director handling it, etc?
WMP: I think my vision would be vastly different from that of a rational Hollywood producer. The natural instinct, I imagine, would be to make it a live-action, CGI’d thing. Maybe a Coen Bros.-type affair but with some green screen. But I’d prefer to see it done on a smaller scale: intimate, highly designed set pieces; practical monster effects; maybe some puppetry. Like a Wes Anderson film, but with mutants. I’m sure I’d be laughed right out of said producer’s fancy Hollywood office.