We asked all of our writers some questions about their writing and their work on Wormwood. We’ve talked to incoming writers Tiffiny Whitney and Rick Bata, as well as Rob Allspaw. This time, we’re talking to Jeremiah Allan, the first writer to join the Wormwood staff. Jeremiah has been instrumental in helping co-creators Jeremy Rogers and David Accampo flesh out the series bible and focus some of the concepts.
Questions created by Rob Allspaw.
Q: How did you get involved with Wormwood?
A: Absolute dumb luck. I frequent Newsarama.com quite a bit and got turned on to writing for this now-defunct anthology comic project, on whose website I first came into contact with Dave and Jeremy looking for help with their Vostok [graphic novel]. That place died out, and I didn’t think anything of it — a lot of comic book entrepreneurs live and die in the same breath on the Internet — but a couple of months later, Dave shot me an e-mail asking if I’d like to hop aboard the Wormwood train and I dug my claws in, screaming “Dibs!” at the top of my lungs. Dave and Jeremy both still have scars. I’ve seen them. They’re pretty sexy.
Q: What attracted you to Wormwood?
A: A lot of things. Wormwood’s like a dream project for me. For one, I get to work with a bunch of people who are just as hungry as I am to put our names out there, to create and entertain people, and for two, I was given the opportunity to help build the Wormwood mythos from the ground up. For a long time, it was just Dave and Jeremy and I popping e-mails off to one another or bombarding our super secret, ultra private message board (ooooh) with post after post of brainstorm material. It was just the three of us in that first writer’s meeting, as well, so a lot of what you’re going to see, particularly in the first season, is a melting pot of what we worked on in those early days and I’m really excited to be able to say that. It’s given me the chance to flex my creative muscles, and I love it.
Q: Which character do you associate with most?
A: Definitely Jacob. Every writer has his or her favorite character and Jacob’s my little pet project. He’s just a normal, everyday kid, you know, who’s constantly taught to think that he’s not. Normal, that is. He’s our version of Peter Parker, who gets suddenly thrust into this crazy situation and doesn’t know how to deal with it. There’s a lot of potential drama in that, a lot of stories you can tell, and a lot of humanity that I’m crossing my fingers will translate well into the final project.
Q: Are there any characters you are struggling to understand?
A: The Sheriff. I get his wife and I get all the characters that surround him, but it’s hard for me to write his speech without a backwoods dialect because I can’t think of a sheriff character that’s not pulled straight out of the Andy Griffith Show or The Dukes of Hazard.
Q: What aspects of the project and/or Wormwood do you find the most compelling?
A: The potential for sequels, especially after we clear the opening season. They say that you’ve always got to include certain elements in an origin story, and you do, but it’s after you get all those bits and pieces out of the way that you can really run with the concept and see what it can do. The mythos is so open-ended that there are a million ways we can go with it, spin off in so many different directions that I’m excited to see how big the tapestry grows. There’s just so much potential for telling great stories.
Q: Within the project of Wormwood, what do you find the most challenging?
A: Holding my horses. With a mystery, there’s always the temptation to go out and fire all your guns off at once and nail people with a rapid-fire series of revelations, and I know that’s not how you keep people interested, but I want so bad to get out there and drive the Corvette around the block—just to show it off, you know? We’ve worked so hard to build it and I want people to appreciate how beautiful it’s going to be when we let it out of the garage.
Beyond that, though, finding a balance between mystery and disclosure is a pretty tough line to walk, too. We learned a pretty important lesson from LOST, in that you can’t tease and tease and tease without giving your audience a payoff, but there’s a lot of payoff in the anticipation, too. The question then becomes, where do you tease and where do rip your pants off and put your money where your mouth is?
Q: Within the project of Wormwood, what do you find the most rewarding?
A: The feeling that we’re actually doing something. Wannabe writers like me, we’ve always got that hook out for something that’s going to bite and pull us off the boat, and projects like that don’t come along every day. I think Wormwood bit and has been dragging me along in its wake since we first started moving forward with it in December . I feel like I’m a part of something that’s really going to knock people’s socks off, and I can’t wait to hear the first episode.
Q: What do you think about the added content on the website?
A: I love it. I always thought Wormwood should be this enormous creature with dozens and dozens of arms, like Alexander the Great, and it would branch out and take over everywhere it went. There’s so much to say about the concept of the series, the driving force behind what’s going on, and even the smaller, more subtle concepts beneath that are worth being explored and played with and loved equally. The bigger the universe, the more places people are going to have to fit in and find their niche, and the website is a great addition to that.
Q: With the collaborative process of writing the story, you have six writers now, what do you find to be the most rewarding of this style and what do you find to be the most challenging?
A: The surprises are the most rewarding, because you get all these heads together and suddenly somebody says something, usually out of a tangent, and you’re all left with your mouths open, saying, “That’s brilliant!” The creative energy that comes out of one of our writer’s meetings is like jet propulsion on crack. It’s beautiful.
The most difficult thing of working like this, though, is that, with so many voices, it’s sometimes hard to get yours heard. You’ve got a particular vision for where the story is going and maybe you can’t express yourself well enough amidst the cacophony to make it happen. And there are other times, too, where you might like an idea but the group votes it down because, really, in the end, it’s pretty dumb but you don’t see that at the time.
Q: Where do you see the project heading?
A: Probably a better question would be: Where don’t you see the project heading? Not only do I see some really great stories on the horizon, I can see Wormwood headed to the small screen, maybe even the big screen, I can see a series of novels, both graphic and otherwise, and I think there will always be a special place in our hearts for the radio serial side of things. I can see the characters branching out into other media, but you’ve got to dance with the girl that brought you, and the serials need to keep going through all of it. That’s going to be our bread and butter for awhile.
Q: Give us a hint, what’s one thing you can reveal?
A: Keep your eye on the library. That’s one of mine, and I’m proud of it.
Q: What are some of your influences?
A: I’ve always been a pop culture guru. I immerse myself into anything with a plot because I believe the way we tell our history or share our imaginations is the biggest part of who we are as a people. You can be black or white or red or rainbow, it doesn’t matter because, at the end of the day, you still love the Ninja Turtles. Or the Rocky movies. Or whatever. I read a lot of Piers Anthony when I was a kid, back when Geis of the Gargoyle had just come out in paperback and pretty much everything before that, and got turned on to the Wheel of Time books around Lord of Chaos (though I refuse to read anything beyond Crown of Daggers until Robert Jordan actually finishes the series). Early 90’s Spider-Man and Fabian’s X-titles were crucial, but so was Archie’s TMNT books. I dunno. I’m a product of the late 80’s and early 90’s. I can’t really point out five distinct things that shaped the way I write, but there is something about growing up in that time period that produces people like me. It’s scary.
Q: Share a little about you past writing projects and education. Any awards or publications?
AL Ah, well… I’ve wanted to be a writer from the time I learned how to put phonetic sounds together. It’s just something I always liked, and wanted to do. I’d write these short, ten or twelve pages booklets about this guy named L.P. the Detective when I was eight or nine, and staple them together so I could pretend I was a real writer. And I drew a lot of my own comics when I was young, too, so the writing’s always been there.
My teachers have always been supportive. I’m currently a senior at Ottawa University, majoring in English so you know I’ve been suckered in by this whole starving artist thing.
I wrote for and was the editor of my high school newspaper, I wrote for the paper of the community college I went to, and now I’m the Entertainment/Opinion editor at the Campus newspaper here in Ottawa. I had a short story published in the University’s literary journal. For a long time, I had several of my journals available for purchase on one of those Internet publish-on-demand sites, and I made a little money off them, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone with copies anymore because I yanked them out of circulation, wanting to spiff them up before I let people devour them again. Wrote a book of poetry once, which has also been yanked.
I’m constantly looking to break into the world of comics. I’ve been trying to get my Mister Misadventure and One Copper Marauders stuff off the ground for years. By the end of this summer, you’ll hopefully be able to pick up a copy of Dead: with Dick & Jane #1 at your local comic shop, but I’ve still got to jump through Diamond’s hoops and that doesn’t look like the easiest thing to do.
Q: What made you want to write?
A: Comics. I was in love since cracking open my first issue, New Warriors #12.
Q: Is there anything you wanted to add to let the fan base know more about you?
A: Only that I’m the biggest self-shilling son of a bitch this side of [Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief] Joe Quesada. I will whore things that whore other things, just out of an innate need to whore things, and it’s a lot of fun when there’s nothing more important to get accomplished. That, and you’re always free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re a young, upstart graphic artist who is willing to put your blood, sweat, and pencil shavings into a project about a superhero who looks eerily like Adolf Hitler. (See what I did there?)