Oscar winner Curtis’s debut graphic novel, Mother Nature (Titan Comics, July), is an ecological horror story set in the American Southwest, cowritten with Goldman and drawn by Stevens.
How did this book come about?
Curtis: I had the idea when I was 19. Some years went by and I made a movie with David Gordon Green called Halloween—I came home with a renewed mojo and decided to hire somebody to write Mother Nature. My husband said to me, “Why don’t you write it?” I literally did what you’ve seen in the movies. I put up index cards with characters and deaths and connected the dots.
Originally, it was about a man who ran a mining company. Russell came on as cowriter and realized it was a story about mothers: a woman boss and her daughter, and a Native American woman and her daughter. I met Karl because my husband and I collect original New Yorker cartoons, and Karl was the one who suggested it be adapted into a graphic novel.
Russell, what made you decide to center women in the story?
Goldman: We settled on the question: What kind of planet are these two mothers trying to leave for their two daughters? After that, it felt natural to make the heroes and villains women.
What research was involved in creating the town of Catch Creek?
Goldman: It was a mixture of on-the-ground research trips and generating earnest, authentic connections with the Navajo community. Jamie and I were concerned because we have an Indigenous spirit at the center of this. Our advisers steered us toward the idea that with enough research and care, it could actually be really cool, because Indigenous audiences love horror.
Stevens: I traveled to the region and used a lot of visual references, trying to design characters who looked like they lived in New Mexico. The sense of space and landscape was important.
What was the most surprising thing you learned?
Curtis: How violent Jamie’s imagination is!
Stevens: I’ll never forget the conversation we had where you were telling me to look up realistic murders.
Curtis: For somebody whose basic daily juju is peace, love, understanding, sobriety, rescue dogs, children’s hospitals—somewhere deep down inside me is a really dark person.
What do you hope readers take away from this story?
Curtis: That we’re blowing it. The cataclysmic climate events we’ve been seeing all around the world are a direct result of the warming of the planet. This is a really gruesome, visual, and specific way of saying, “Pay attention.”