AMY CHU talks with KARL KESEL about BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: GODS & MONSTERS #3, out NOW

WRITER 2 WRITER: AMY CHU, writer of KISS #4, talks with KARL KESEL about BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: GODS & MONSTERS #3, both on sale NOW from Dynamite.

AMY CHU: My experiences working on licensed comics have differed so much depending on the licensor and the property. How involved was the licensor in the development of your storyline. How much leeway did you have in adding to their universe?

KARL KESEL: I received no push-back from the BSG licensor at all— that I know of! (Maybe my editor was protecting me!) I’ve noticed some very small changes between my scripts and the printed comic, but they’re extremely minor and I don’t know if that’s an editorial decision or at the request of the licensor. I’ll admit I expected to jump through a lot of hoops, and that never happened. I’d like to think it was because I was true to the show— but if that’s the case, it’s only because the characters were so well-defined on the show that the book almost wrote itself at times.

AC: I know you’ve written for many years, but you’re also an award-winning penciler and inker. How do your years of experience as an artist affect your work and process as a writer?

KK: Well, I’m not an award-winning anything, actually. Never won an award for my comics work. Ever. Don’t want to mislead people there. As to your point, however: I like to think my art background helps me understand what’s possible in a panel, and on a page. What can actually fit, what reads clearly and what doesn’t. Like anyone, I’ve developed my own set of “rules” over time. For instance: each page should have one panel that’s a close-up on one person. It gives the page visual variety, gives the eye a place to rest and focus. Ideally, it should also be the most important panel of the page, story-wise. So not a shot of someone saying “Think I’ll make a sandwich,” but a shot of someone saying “But then, of course, I’d have to kill you.”

AC: We’re halfway through this arc and there’s so much going on! What was the most difficult part scripting this issue and why?

KK: The most difficult part of every issue was the question/juggling act of “Whose side is Baltar’s Centurion really on?” Hopefully readers won’t know the answer to that yet— or even better: they’ll change their minds issue to issue!

AC: In the TV show and in your story there’s a great deal of plot complexity (at least, compared to KISS and Red Sonja!). How do you manage that as the writer and avoid logic gaps?

KK: Well, as you pointed out, the complexity of the story is really a reflection of the tone set on the TV series. How do I manage that? Short answer is: I don’t! I kinda let the characters manage it! I’ll admit that the characters have really dictated how the story progresses, much more than anything else I’ve ever written. Again, I believe that’s a testament to the strength of the show’s characters. (And the show’s writers!)

AC: With both KISS and Red Sonja I’ve found that certain characters or elements of the story start to change or take on a different life as the
story progresses and I wonder, is that just me? Does that happen with you, or do you find you pretty much stick with what you had originally pitched and envisioned?

KK: Lots changed in this storyline! Or I should say: I knew how the story started, and I knew how it would most likely end, but the middle part was a bit vague in my mind. And as I wrote the story the characters kept taking it in directions I hadn’t expected. It still ended in the same place, but I was very (pleasantly) surprised by the journey. Hopefully, the readers will be, too! For instance: I knew Baltar’s Centurion was going to instantly recognize Sharon as a Cylon the moment it was brought to life, but it didn’t initially occur to me that this meant the Centurion could also recognize other Cylons hidden within the fleet! But believe me— it certainly occurred to the other Cylons instantly! And they were going to deal with it! I suddenly had a plotline in the book that I had never planned on! And I had no idea where it was going… until all the pieces fell perfectly in place!

AC: One of the things I love about BSG are the variety of characters and you do a wonderful job of making their motivations so clear in the storyline. Who is your favorite character to write, and why? And if I may ask, who gives you the most trouble?!

KK: Truth is: I enjoyed writing all the BSG characters! Honest! Probably the biggest surprise for me was Sam, who at times seemed a little too-good-to-be-true on the show, but writing him in the book I realized what a reluctant Resistance leader he was (at least on Caprica), and how he really didn’t want the responsibility of sending people to their (possible) death. He’s much more comfortable as sports-team-leader, and in many ways that’s the rhythm he falls back into in issue #3— back in the Pyramid Arena, beating a “visiting team.” As for my favorite, that’s easy: BALTAR! He’s charming, intelligent, witty, narcissistic, deluded, scheming and his own worst enemy. Everything a writer could wish for!