ELLIOTT SERRANO: Thanks for taking the time to talk about Miss Fury! First up, boy, issue #7 starts in a pretty dark place and just kept getting darker as it went! What's it like writing an issue like that?
ROB WILLIAMS: It keeps going in #8 too, which takes the ground laid in #7 and builds to a pretty dark conclusion. It's kind of the ethos of the book, really. We're doing capes and adventure and time travel and all those fun things, but it's primarily a book about getting to the heart of who Marla Drake/Miss Fury is. She's trying to be a good person when all the evidence is weighed against her. And you see what she could so easily be in #7. And it's violent and ugly.
ES: Sheesh! There's a lot of limb loss, gun play and some bacchanal thrown in for good measure. Do these images just come up in your mind as you're writing the script? Or do you have a sense of the visuals and try to figure out a plot around them?
RW: Heh. Well, you don't go in thinking 'I want to tell a story featuring limbo loss and bacchanal' and build around it. It's all about theme, really. The core of the story. Miss Fury is in this other timeline and she comes face to face with another version of herself, but one without ethics, without love. All these actions are kind of the opposite of the good she's holding onto.
ES: All the stuff with Nazi Spies and time travel just bent my brain. Where did the idea for the "alternate timeline" originate?
RW: Oh, that's a pretty standard trope in time travel stories. But then it's all about trying to do something unusual and interesting with it. The Nazi time travel spies have been with Miss Fury since #1, and she's been travelling between various timelines, which is a headmelt, I'm sure. It's that way for her too. But that approach also allows for a lot of creative freedome with the book. You can tell some fun, far-out stories with it.
ES: Who do you think of when you're writing a story featuring Miss Fury? Fans of the classic noir series? Or like most writers do you just write for yourself?
RW: I just write for myself. You've got to go down roads that get you interested and excited. There's no point trying to ape someone else's style or to try and appease what you think the fans want. It'll probably show in the end product. Approaching the book I didn't want it to follow the road of a Catwoman book, which would've been too easy given their similar origina and look, which dates back to the '40s, of course. I think we've created a pretty adventurous book in its own way.
ES: What do you feel are the elements that make compelling "noir" fiction?
RW: I'm no expert on this, but I guess you'd look at a protagonist who's trying to do the right thing even though they're morally shades of grey themselves, there's usually a tragic element, fighting against odds that they can't possibly defeat. And there's a darkness inherent, obviously.
ES: In a related question, do you find it to be tricky when writing a "classic" character for contemporary audiences?
RW: No, you can't let things like that get in your head. Just like any character, you try and get to the heart of them, to see what makes them tick, and then it's a question of attempting to do something a little different with them. Miss Fury as a sexy jewel thief would've been fine, but not that exciting. We've seen that story a million times before. Any writer will try and put their own spin on things, to an extent.
ES: So much is made of men writing female characters convincingly. Do you find that to be a challenge?
RW: I guess it is, to an extent. Simply because you're out of your comfort zone and can't always fall back on your experiences. But you're writing a human being, you've got empathy. It's not impossible. I think you just have to treat any character with respect. I tried with Miss Fury to make her a three-dimensional character and not just some badass crimefighter in tights. But I'd have done that with a male character too. Because it's pretty boring for a writer to just deal in archetypes.
ES: What is it about the character of Miss Fury that appeals to you as a writer?
RW: I like the fact that she's trying to be good, despite all the weight of evidence against that. That's a pretty heroic internal struggle, I think. With the jigsaw puzzle approach to character we've taken, you see her past, you see all the things that have happened to her, and she's not had a lot of love in her life. But the heart of her journey is that one person saw good in her and she's trying to cling onto and enhance that. I like Marla Drake for that.
ES: What other dark places do you plan on taking Miss Fury into in the future?
RW: In coming issues we've got the final showdown between 'evil' Miss Fury and 'good' Miss Fury, the Philadelphia Experiment, A Mob boss who has become convinced he's a superhero and a behind-enemy-lines mission into Nazi Germany. It's a fun ride.
MISS FURY #7 is now on sale, as is MISS FURY VOL 1: ANGER IS AN ENERGY TPB. You can also pick up ARMY OF DARKNESS: THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE QUEEN TPB by Serrano.
Elliott Serrano is a freelance writer and resident "geek specialist" for the Chicago Redeye (redeyechicago.com/geektome). He has been dubbed the "King of Geeks in Chicago" by tv/radio personality Laurence Holmes (NBC5/WSCR 670AM) and "Chicago's Clark Kent" by Eisner Award winner Gene Ha. You can follow him and learn about the ways of the Force on Twitter (@ElliottSerrano).