The following is an interview with Joanne Starer regarding the upcoming release of the comic book series, The Gimmick, through AHOY Comics. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Starer about the shared creative process of bringing this series to life, how her background in wrestling has inspired the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of The Gimmick! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the series’ premise?
Joanne Starer: The Gimmick is about a wrestler who kills his opponent in the ring on live TV, and then goes on the run, hiding in plain sight under a lucha mask. While he continues his career without consequence, everyone in his life is left behind to pick up the pieces. So, it’s really about this broken man in this broken industry and how he breaks the people around him.
Oh, and he has super strength. Which is a thing I always forget to mention because it’s not a “superhero” book. He’s not a hero. He just plays one on TV. That’s what it’s about.
BD: In light of your own background in the field of wrestling, what inspired you to tell this story alongside artist Elena Gogou, and how would you describe your shared creative process in bringing it to life?
JS: Well, honestly, comics are the only way I know how to tell a story. It’s how I learned to read. It’s just in my blood. I guess I could have written this as a novel, but wrestling involves big, colorful characters and lots of action. And I needed an artist like Elena for that. Someone who could bring those characters to life on the page. I had been wanting to work with Elena for a while, and we had done a pitch for a previous project, so I was pretty familiar with their style going into this. So, our process was pretty straight-forward I think. The first few scripts were actually already written before Elena was attached, but then they came in to do all the character designs. I provided lots of wrestling references, and then Elena just blew me and everyone else away with what they came up with.
BD: What makes AHOY Comics the perfect home for this series?
JS: No matter how serious a subject I tackle, I still have to do it with a sense of humor. Ya know, in addition to The Gimmick, I’m writing books about abortion, about the Holocaust. But that’s heavy stuff. You have to find a little light in there to help people get through it. And that’s AHOY’s philosophy, too. Life is hard. Make people laugh. They get that. They gave me the freedom to sprinkle in the laughs and the sobs as I saw fit.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Shane’s story will connect with and impact readers?
JS: Well, the thing about The Gimmick is, it isn’t really Shane’s story. It’s the story of the people he hurts: the women in his life, the marginalized wrestlers who don’t get the same opportunities he does. And those characters, they’re not perfect either. But they’re real. They’re single mothers, and angry daughters, and people just trying to make ends meet.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
JS: Khary Randolph and I are part of a new exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History called Cellphones: Unseen Connections. It’s opens June 23, and you can read more about it here.
And I release weekly free comics on GlassEyeComics.com. This is also the best place to get up-to-date news about what I’m doing (and there will be a LOT of it soon).
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about The Gimmick and your other work?
JS: You can follow me on Twitter at @JoanneStarer. But mostly, I just talk about my cat and my disgusting bodily functions.