Regie Rigby: The Great Satan was an excellent title for a comic. Did DC really change the name because they thought people would confuse it with Lucifer?
Jamie Delano: That is my understanding.
RR: That being the case, just how stupid do they think we are?
JD: Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? To be fair, I believe DC did have one or two slightly confused queries in the pre-publicity stages of both books development. But given that Lucifer has a six-month (?) head-start on my book, one might have imagined that most half-awake readers would recognise the difference.
RR: Great Satan is another series about the soul of the United States written by a Brit (the other one I’m thinking of is Preacher) Do you think that the British, immersed in American culture, but looking at it from the outside, are more able to write that kind of thing than someone from within the culture?
JD: Not necessarily more able… Sufficiently arrogant, perhaps. Not that I’m making any claims for great insight in this book. If the U.S. has a soul, I’m not sure I want to discover it. But yes, I’m sure a degree of objectivity helps.
RR: The book is billed as an ongoing series, something which seems to have gone out of fashion lately. Do you have an end point in mind, or do you intend it to run and run.
JD: Walk, hobble, stagger… slither on its belly like a snake until someone treads on its head. I’ve got some rough charts… waypoints I’d like to pick up, but basically I guess I’ll do what I always do and make it up as I go along. Only way to keep it interesting over a long-haul in my experience.
RR: If you do want the title to run indefinitely, would you be happy to turn your creation over to another writer when you moved on to other projects?
JD: You think anyone would want it? Hadn’t thought about it until now. Nah… I guess I’d probably be possessive.
JD: You have also recently returned to the character of John Constantine (in a Dark Knight Returns sort of way) for the first time in half a decade. Whose idea was that? Did you take the idea of Constantine’s future to DC, or did they approach you looking for a new Constantine limited series?
JD: It was Karen Berger’s idea to shamelessly exploit the tragic demise of Diana. I thought my old pal Constantine might enjoy to get involved. The future setting for Bad Blood was my idea, too. I like playing with near-future stuff… and I thought it might help circumvent one or two potential legal problems.
JD: Is it you or Constantine that’s the Republican? (obviously that’s not Republican as in the political party)
JD: Both of us… in our various confused and typically English ways.
RR: I remember reading that you used to drive a taxi. How much of Chas was developed from people you knew?
JD: Not much. That does not hold true for a lot of characters in early Hellblazer stories, but Chas really grew out of an attempt at a more ambiguous take on the traditional “hero’s loyal side-kick”… usually a useful fictional device enabling a protagonist to show off to the reader more effectively.
RR: I also can’t help wondering what you make of the current creative team on Hellblazer. They’ve taken some flack for their characterization of Constantine (particularly the accent). Do you think it matters whether he speaks Scouse or Cockney?
JD: I’m really not that bothered… within reason. Scouse/Cockney debate is irrelevant. He was born in Liverpool, but moved to London in his adolescence. Speech patterns and accents change according to our circumstances sometimes. Constantine is a chameleon when he wants or needs to be. I’m not familiar with the “flack” you mention – but if Constantine is living in the ‘states, (in my experience) he’ll need modify his “English” if he wants to be understood even well enough to buy a pack of cigarettes.
I have only seen the first Azarrello/Corben story-arc (if that is the new team referred to). Constantine’s appearance gave me a bit of a fright… but Azarrello made his character ring clear and true for me… and I was used to his “ugly elf” incarnation by the end of the first book.
RR: Any plans to take over the reins of Hellblazer again?
RR: You have been mainly associated with Vertigo (or at least pre-Vertigo) titles since you wrote the first forty issues of Hellblazer. Has that been an advantage, or a bit of a strait jacket?
JD: There is no where else in comics that I would rather be — even if they would have me.
RR: Do you find you have more creative freedom working at a “mature audience” publisher like Vertigo than at a more “all ages” outfit like Acclaim or Dark
JD: Inevitably, I think. Although Acclaim let me throw a few fucks into Shadowman… for a while.
RR: You haven’t done much work for British comics publishers since the mid eighties (although there was Night Raven for Marvel UK in ’93). Is this because there isn’t much work going on this side of the Atlantic, or are the US publishers just easier to work with?
JD: I’ve been busy. No one asked.
RR: What characters that you haven’t written would you like to have a shot at?
JD: Not to be facetious, but I always prefer to invent my own if possible. Not that I’m too proud – obviously – but I only think about it when asked to do a specific job.
RR: Which artist (or writing partner) would you most like to collaborate with?
JD: I’m not risking a happy marriage to Goran Sudzuka (Outlaw Nation) by indulging in pointless fantasy.
RR: You co-wrote Cruel and Unusual with Tom Peyer. How does that experience compare with writing solo? I presume the relationship is different to the collaboration between writer and artist?
JD: Easier in some ways, harder in others. It’s a lot less boring and lonely. When you run the story into the sand you can hand it off to your buddy with a challenge to get you back on the road. He’ll probably stop up all night rather than appear to be found wanting. Works both ways of course, once they catch on. When it comes to criticism, you can say: “Oh that was Tom’s fault. I argued but he cried, so I gave in and let him have his way.” I think collaboration is probably like a love affair. It either works or it doesn’t… and there has to be genuine mutual respect, or it hasn’t got a chance.
RR: Conventions – Love ’em or loathe ’em?
JD: Largely indifferent these days… though they are always a good excuse to visit some foreign city.
RR: Any convention anecdotes you’d like to share?
JD: Nah. The world is too litigious.
RR: Which of the Delano cannon are you proudest of?
JD: 2020 Visions; a couple of odd Hellblazer issues – #35 & #84, Night Raven: House of Cards and Hell Eternal — but ask me tomorrow and I might tell you something different.
RR: You were developing the Vertigo one-shot Hell Eternal for the screen. Any progress on that?
JD: The struggle continues. The producers have financed the second draft screenplay, which I will be completing this month. What happens next depends on how much they like it.
RR: Any more plans to move into other media in the future?
JD: A novel before I die. Writing movies is more interesting (and harder) than I’d anticipated. I’d like to try another screenplay – but this time an original, rather than adapted, story.
RR: And of course, any upcoming comics projects in the pipeline?
JD: Actually, no. Just Outlaw Nation to bash on with for now. Shit! I still haven’t done anything about a pension, either. (But before any hungry insurance brokers reach for their keyboards… Don’t bother guys. I don’t trust your product and I don’t plan to retire.)