FAREL DALRYMPLE has been a Portland comics home-team favorite for nearly a decade. Already known for his award-winning Pop Gun War series and Marvel's Omega: The Unknown, his signature illustration style is impossible to forget. This month, Dalrymple has been on a bicoastal tour with his new graphic novel about a brilliant, post-apocalyptic child gang, The Wrenchies.
MERCURY: The Wrenchies contains so many perspectives and interrelated characters, all converging on one point. How did you come to make such a complex narrative?
FAREL DALRYMPLE: I like playing with time. I like writing from a child's perspective and then putting them 20 years in the future or as a middle-aged person. I think with The Wrenchies there was so much stuff I was putting in there that I was trying to make a new thing in comics with all the stuff that had been done, [like] put them together in a different kind of package.
In The Wrenchies, there's an in-story comic that you really nailed.
I played with the idea of doing a comic about that [in-story] comic... I thought about making another comic so you could actually read the comic that the Wrenchies—the child gang—have. But then I thought that would sort of ruin it.
Your comics are covered in scores of floating boxes that hover above the action. Where does that come from?
I'm sure that's stuff I've gleaned from Brandon Graham or others. Sometimes I want to add an extra character reaction. I like weird little things popping up in the corner—some strange little detail that I might catch on a re-read.
People are always talking about what makes comics unique from other art forms. That's one of those things!
Right! I tried to do that a few times. I don't know if you noticed but in the last chapter of The Wrenchies there's a flipbook. There's a little character in the corner... in the beginning he goes through the vortex and we find out that he is watching his life unfold. I thought it would be neat to have him hovering every once in a while—like his ghost is watching the scene. Then I realized I could just make them all in the right-hand corner and there could be a little flipbook!