Clifford Meth: Of Snakes and Paradigms

A comics interview article by: Tim O'Shea
Clifford Meth is a name many comic book folks will recognize for myriad reasons--all positive ones in my book. He's the kind of guy that friend Harlan Ellison will call a "schmuck" with affection. He's one of the main folks who helped (X-Men co-creator) Dave Cockrum in his later years. For more than a decade, we've seen Meth's dark fiction courtesy of Aardwolf Publishing. SBC folks will recognize the name as the force behind the Past Masters column he wrote for SBC from 2004 to 2006. His time here at SBC is but a sliver of the creative output the man has generated over the years. He recently joined IDW Publishing as Executive V.P. of Editorial/Strategies. If you crack open the current Previews, you'll see he's writing a new miniseries for IDW, Snaked. He recently took an email from me to discuss the project (written by Meth, art by Rufus Dayglo, cover by Ashley Wood), set to launch in December. Here's the official word on it (before we launch into the interview): "In a world of dirty politics, backstabbing friends and unfaithful women, Bill Timmons discovers that being a Snake is more than a metaphor but he's unprepared for what will happen when he sheds his skin and the fangs start to show--and so is everyone else."

Tim O'Shea (TOS): Can you explain the Dave Cockrum connection to Snaked?

Clifford Meth (CM): One of the first things Dave and I collaborated on was a short story entitled Snakes for Aardwolf Comics #2. Rather than do it as sequential art, we ran the full text of the story with half-a-dozen illustrations from Dave. I then went on to develop the character of Bill Timmons—the protagonist—for another story entitled Snaked and for a film treatment, but the character designs are based on Dave Cockrum’s initial output. Dave was one of the best character designers ever to grace the comics industry.

TOS: You recently became an executive at IDW. Was Snaked slated to be published at IDW before you joined their ranks? And how are you settling into your new role at IDW?

CM: IDW planned to publish my illustrated fiction collection One Small Voice before I joined the company—I think it’s slated for release this January. But after I joined the team, Ted Adams and I discussed Snaked and agreed that it was good "high concept" and well-suited for comic treatment, for sequential art. As for my role at IDW, I’m having a great time: I brought in a number of projects that we’re all very excited about including Harlan Ellison’s YR. PAL HARLAN, Robert Silverberg’s NIGHTWINGS, and Bill Messner-Loebs’ JOURNEY collection, which Neil Gaiman just gave me an introduction for. IDW is a great place to work--an opportunity to create and edit worthwhile projects.

TOS: How did Rufus Dayglo become involved with the project? In what ways does his style compliment your writing and this story in particular?

CM: Ted Adams suggested Rufus. Ruf had been working with Ash Wood and IDW expects Rufus to be a rising star so we wanted to give him something important… When I looked at his samples, I saw that Ruf was very adaptable and Snaked needs that kind of flexibility because it is by no means straight horror. I am very happy with the collaboration.

TOS: You are friends and collaborators with myriad industry legends...what are the odds we might see a Neal Adams or Jim Steranko alternate cover on Snaked?

CM: I specifically asked Ash Wood to do the covers and I’m glad I did. He sent me the cover to Snaked #2 last night—just when I was wondering how he’d top his stunning cover to Snaked #1. Neal Adams painted the cover to my book One Small Voice, which I previously mentioned. As for Steranko, don’t be surprised to see me work with him again but right now I have some "secret" projects with Jeffrey Jones and Michael Netzer--at least they were secrets until just this moment. So there’s your “legends” scoop.

TOS: At present, Snaked is a miniseries, but do you see the potential for future miniseries or is there a finite run to the project.

CM: I already have a story arc for the next mini-series rolling about in my head. Bill Timmons is a complex character; he sheds his skin more often than Nixon did and has snake-like abilities far beyond those of mortal men, but his politics and emotional state are just as important as his physical traits, so there’s lots of room to grow with this character.

TOS: Given your involvement with developing properties for film, are you surprised at the increasing trend of screenwriters opting to do a comic book as a form of a pitch?

CM: Not surprised at all. Once the medium was discovered, comics became Hollywood’s Great Gold Rush. We are the new paradigm.

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