Alison Dare is back! A series of funny, kid-friendlytales of a feisty little girl who is the daughter of an archaeologist and asuperhero, the Alison Dare comics first came out in 2000 from Oni Press andwere very well received, even garnering a nomination for an Eisner Award.Written by J. Torres (Lola: A Ghost Story)and drawn by J. Bone (Super Friends)the two-volume set Alison Dare: LittleMiss Adventures and Alison Dare:Heart of the Maiden is due out in a new edition from Tundra Books this May.We took the opportunity to talk to J. Torres about Alison's origins and how hefeels the comic has stood the test of time.
PW Comics Week: The Alison Darestories have a real classic feel. What was the inspiration for them?
J. Torres: Oneof my favorite comics growing up was Tintin. I also loved the cartoon JonnyQuest. Plus, I read quite a lot of Hardy Boys and some Nancy Drew books.Eventually, along came Indiana Jones. I'd say all of these, among other things,inspired Alison Dare in one way or another.
PWCW: You made some interestingchoices-Alison's father is a superhero, and her mother is an archaeologist butthey are separated, and Alison goes to a Catholic boarding school. How did youcome up with that?
JT: Myyounger sister went to a Catholic girls school. We lived nearby so I walked bythe school almost every day. It was an old building, and looked a littlemysterious to me. I remember attending my sister's piano recital there once andbeing fascinated by the large stone walls and big wooden doors, also some ofthe paintings and tapestries, and wondered what was behind them. The choice ofmaking Alison's parents adventurers came from wanting to give her a certainpedigree. I also wanted to play with different genres, so I even added a superspy uncle to the family tree. Making her parents separated was a consciouschoice to present a different kind of family dynamic, one we don't see all thatoften. Disney movies are known for subtracting a parent from the storytellingformula to simplify things, but I chose to have my cake and eat it too. Alisoncan deal with one parent at a time, but the option for switching between them,adventuring with one or the other, and sometimes both to add to the action anddrama, is there for me.
PWCW: How did you meet J. Bone?
JT: I can'tremember how we first met. It was almost ten years ago, I think. We're part ofa very large comic book community in Torontoand have many mutual friends, so chances are we met through another comiccreator or at a comic book convention. I do recall seeing his art somewhere andthinking, that's someone I'd like to work with someday.
PWCW: Were they first released assingle-issue comics and then collected? How did that come about?
JT: Jasonand I pitched the idea to Jamie Rich, editor at Oni Press at the time. Adouble-sized issue one shot called AlisonDare: Little Miss Adventures was the first comic they published. Then camea three-issue miniseries of stand-alone stories called The Return of Alison Dare. Then we did a two-issue story called Alison Dare and the Heart of the Maiden.There were Web comics somewhere along the way too. Oni put out three differentcollections over the years. Tundra is now publishing two reprint volumes.
PWCW: What will be new about this newedition?
JT: Thereare a few editorial changes in the Tundra volumes, mostly some language that wewere asked to change so as not to offend certain sensibilities. Jason was alsoasked to design a new emblem for one of our villains Baron Von Baron, who is aNazi. I guess you can "get away" with more in comics versus children'spublishing. We also have a new logo and some really swanky new covers drawn byJason and designed by our art director Jennifer Lum.
PWCW: Do you have any idea who wasreading the comic when it was first published?
JT: I waspleasantly surprised that not only comic fans who frequent comic shops werefinding and reading the books, but also educators and kids were finding them inlibraries. I remember walking into a Torontolibrary and seeing the first Alison Dare collection in a display case promoting"summer reading picks." It also got the attention of industry types whochampion all-ages comics, which eventually led to an Eisner Award nomination inthe "Best Title for Younger Readers" category.
PWCW: How has that changed for thisnew release? Are you aiming for a different audience, and are you marketing itdifferently?
JT: Well, wetried to make Alison Dare truly all-ages, so we'd love everyone from 8 to 88years old to read it. Earlier volumes had a limited distribution because thatwas the nature of the comic book industry at the time, but nowadays comics aremore readily available outside the direct market. That, coupled with Tundra'sreach and reputation in the children's publishing world, will hopefully getAlison Dare into more book stores, libraries, and into the hands of morereaders than ever before. From a personal standpoint, I love the fact that whenwe first put these stories out there, there were only a couple of kids in my familyand they were all babies. Now, I have half a dozen nephews, nieces andgodchildren-not to mention my friends' kids-who are not only old enough toread, but they're avid readers so it's great to have these new volumes to sharewith them.
PWCW: If you were starting AlisonDare from scratch now, what would you do differently?
JT: That'stough to say. On the one hand, I'm really proud of our work on Alison Dare. Onthe other hand, I'm never 100% happy with my writing and want to change thingsalmost as soon I see a story in print. I suppose the one thing I might havewished we'd done is put more stories out there.
PWCW: Do you have any plans to writemore Alison Dare stories?
JT: I'd loveto do more, but it really depends on how well these books do and what Jason'savailability and interest is at the time. Fingers crossed!
PWCW: Your books all have verydifferent looks, because you work with different artists. Is there a singleunifying thread in your work, something that makes a comic instantly recognizableas J. Torres work?
JT: It'sinstantly recognizable as a J. Torres work by its sheer awesomeness. Or not.I'm kidding! All this Team Canada "own the podium" Olympic stuff is starting toget to me. But seriously, I honestly don't know what, if anything, ties all mywork together. I like writing in different genres. I like writing for differentaudiences. I suppose one could say that my work in comics is as eclectic as mytastes and likes in the comics I read. Hopefully, most people are saying thework is good, and that's what all my different books have in common.