DC Comics The Swamp Thing has proven a hit with both critics and collectors alike and with the third issue out this week I thought it high time I caught up with artist Mike Perkins to ask him all about this dream gig. He discussed his and writer Ram V’s decision to introduce an all-new personality into the Green – Levi Kamei – as well as his love for drawing the macabre and much more…
Olly MacNamee: First thing we must put out there; if readers were expecting a familiar Swamp Thing, like the one on the Justice League Darkteam, they’s didn’t get it’d him did they? What was the thinking behind introducing an all-new person to the Green?
Mike Perkins: It was always the driving force behind the series. I’m guessing it evolved out of the 5G proposals and took on a life of it’s own. Ram V and I feel that, as much as we love the character … Alec Holland’s story has been told – and told perfectly. There’s really not that much more we could add to it other than Alec, perhaps, coming along and being a guiding light to our new Swampy – Levi Kamei. With a clean slate it opens up a whole slew of new situations and interesting stories. Especially with one who doesn’t even really know what’s happening to him.
OM: But, it is a concept you and Ram V have already played with. If people have picked last year’s Legend of the Swamp Thing Halloween Spectacular,they will notice this idea of others inhabiting the position of Champion of the Green is something you and DC Comics have already toyed with. Did this make it an easier sell when coming to prepare for this new run?
MP: I think the concept for that mythological/ historical take on the Swamp Thing avatar in the Hallowe’en special erupted from the possibilities we presented with Levi… It’s been established within Swamp Thing’s own continuity that Alec was not the first – there’s a whole parliament before him and, at one point, he even went on a quest to find a suitable recipient of the next Swamp Thing. It’s an established part of the continuity so coming up with a new Swamp Thing character wasn’t so difficult to sell to either editorial or the established fanbase.
OM: I have to ask, but will the regular DCU Swamp Thing be making an appearance during your run? Surely he will sense a new Swamp Thing emerging? I this even set in the regular DCU, I wonder?
MP: It IS the regular DCU – we saw Batman make a brief cameo at the end of the second issue – and we have Poison Ivy making an appearance…or two…in the 3rd issue. We have further plans for other DCU appearances but we feel it has to make sense within the context of our story and the revelations and discoveries Levi will be making. You may be surprised by who makes an appearance in issue #3 as well.
OM: How much of what has come before will you and Ram V be leaning on? Or will your Swamp Thing be his very own muck monster, detached from the convoluted continuity of Alec Holland?
MP: The Green has a history – a really rather wonderful one – and Levi will want to tap into that to discover more about what he’s becoming. But how can he do that. Surely someone will need to help him along.
OM: And of course, Ram V can certainly do horror marvellously well. His Vault Comics’ series, These Savage Shores proved that hands down. So I suppose it was no-brainer to partner up with him for this new take on an old favourite?
MP: Oh, certainly. It’s the versatility of Ram that really makes this series shine, though. We’ll get the chance to put our Swamp thing into different genres – he won’t be restricted.
OM: Is the idea still to run this for a 10 issue season. Similar to The Green Lantern? Or, with the initial success of the first two issues, is there rumbling from above wanting more, maybe?
MP: Ram and I certainly want to continue it into a second season and the response to it – both critically and in sales – have been promising. We have some truly inspiring ideas for the continuation and it’s certainly looking good that we may get to tell those tales.
OM: The identity of this Champion of the Green may have changed, but the inclusion of the supernatural hasn’t. And events quickly turn to some amazingly horrific pages by the end of the debut issue. On full page panel in particular really caught my imagination. I must say, you seem to revel in the gothicism of this genre. What are your influences for such a series? It can’t all be science text books, right?
MP: I love to illustrate the supernatural and horror stories. You can just dredge up all that nastiness from deep inside yourself and put it on the page. That’s what makes me such a nice person!
The Swamp Thing #3 is out tomorrow, Tuesday May 4th, from DC Comics.