John Luzar and Kasey Quevedo’s crowdfunding project from Resistance Comics, Marguerite vs. The Occupation, arrives on July 20, and Luzar looks to continue his crowdfunding streak, as he hopes to make his latest the third success in a row for the writer.
The new 20-page one-shot action fable is set during the last days of WWII, and concerns the plight of a young woman who returns home only to find that the Nazi army has planted a machine gun crew in the bombed-out remains of her childhood bedroom.
We got a chance to talk to Luzar and Quevedo about the new one-shot comic in this exclusive interview.
Where did the idea for Marguerite vs. The Occupation originate? Did it transform or change at all through your creative process?
John Luzar: Heh. It changed a LOT. It was originally titled Cannon Fodder, and it had a whole sci-fi setting at first, like, it was about this old alien woman, navigating her way across a battlefield, to stop her junk trader husband from selling resources to an invading army, I think?
(I used to be an actor, and I confess I’m still absolutely tickled by all the freedom a writer has. When you realize your alien war story would be better off set in Resistance-era France, you can just…do that. But when you’re performing somebody else’s script, if it says you cry on page seventeen, you have to cry on page seventeen, whether you feel like crying or not).
But honestly, this one originated from a self-imposed goal to tell an action-based story; my first couple of comics are pretty talky, and hopefully this one is a step forward, in terms of telling a story visually. In that regard, I’m really lucky to have Kasey as a partner; he’s such a clear storyteller, which made it easier to get out of my own way and let the visuals carry more of the weight.
Kasey Quevedo: I’ll pipe in real quick that the story was pretty much formed by the time I came on, but I got to work with John in the Marvel method. There was a breakdown of the overall story, and each page. There were specific story beats that needed to be hit on each page as well, but I was free to come up with general panel breakdown and layout. Sometimes a writer will have each panel broken down , camera angles, staging etc. John was really great about giving me the freedom to work out the scenes on my own. There was definitely some back and forth to make sure everything was clear, but I was thankful he had the confidence to let me tell his story.
What was it about this time in history that made you want to use occupied France as the setting?
Luzar: I was working on this during the transition period, between the election and the inauguration, and it was all so damn exhausting, just that sense of “you’re beaten, it’s over, just LEAVE,” and suddenly that tail-end-of-WWII setting seemed like a useful parallel. Then that led to the idea of the machine gun nest in the bedroom, which just feels so infuriatingly invasive.
Also, I have a little political humor blog (showercapblog.com, for the curious), with a very activist audience, and I’ve tried to angle these first comics towards them, which is where “Resistance Comics” comes from. So telling a story of the French Resistance just felt like a good fit.
The blog audience has really come through so far, incidentally, which has been a lifesaver as a new creator, starting out with zero name recognition. Lots of folks tell me it’s their first ever comic book purchase, which is pretty cool.
Quevedo: In researching the Resistance it was really interesting how much they were or looked like plain clothes civilians. Just people trying to protect and reclaim their homes.
John: You refer to the story as a “fable”, but in most ways, Marguerite’s story is grounded in reality. How does your story have the qualities of a fable in your eyes?
Luzar: I’m really glad to hear it comes off as grounded in reality, I think that’s a testament to Kasey’s work. I confess I was worried the climax wouldn’t feel believable.
Thinking about it now, I guess I use that term because I was shooting for a tone like the old Arnold Lobel FABLES book, which I grew up with…sort of pastoral, but still dangerous, does that make sense? The kind of stuff I’d read on rainy Saturday afternoons when I was avoiding homework.
Kasey: As far as your art style for Marguerite, how did you approach illustrating a historical tale? Influences or inspirations?
Quevedo: We always associate the WWII era in B&W. Most of any images we have of the time are B&W, and the heyday of the subject in cinema was also predominantly B&W. I knew it was going to be colored, but I wanted the illustration to stand on its own. I wanted the images to have a substantial grit and texture to them like you would see in old photos and film, so I decided to use a lot of texture and linework for the environments.
There’s a chunk of pages that are just in front of a brick wall, but I didn’t want it to feel static so I made sure the bricks felt like they had some tooth to them. I wanted the situation these two are in to feel grounded. I extended this to the rest of the environments as well. I think it was also important for the environment to feel grounded as the church and the house were both characters unto themselves. They were almost part of the ensemble. I kept the characters fairly simple as John really wanted to make sure the characters’ emotions were clear.
Lastly, I just wanted to mention how excited I was to see Laurel’s colors over my work. She really helped sell the dire and precarious mood of the story. I think this really helped contrast the flashbacks and the outcome.
Thoughts of the Kickstarter campaign and how you go about setting the contribution levels?
Luzar: Setting the pledge levels certainly gets easier once you’ve got a couple of existing comics from previous Kickstarters to offer as rewards, though my apartment’s getting pretty crowded. It was much tougher on the first book; we worked up this awful “making-of” PDF that I doubt anyone even looked at.
We’ve had success in the past offering custom-made rewards for fans of the blog, so we’re doing that again, allowing backers to choose some content I’ll create for the blog site.
And we have a Kickstarter-exclusive alternate cover by Sebastián Píriz, who just wrapped up that Canto & the City of Giants mini-series at IDW. It’s a really beautiful piece, I think it’ll draw plenty of interest.
Other things we should know about the Marguerite Kickstarter?
Luzar: Well, I’d like to give a shoutout to our colorist, Laurel Dundee. I think she really knocks it out of the park, in terms of adding emotional depth, and making the spaces feel lived-in and real. And Toben Racicot’s lettering work is always spectacular.
Anyway, I love how the crowdfunded comics community is so open to genres you don’t always find in the comic shop, and I think we’ve got a nice, tight, little story that folks’ll enjoy.
Marguerite vs. The Occupation is currently available to back on Kickstarter until August 19.