Campfire Writer’s Interview (Lewis Helfand)
1. Where are you from? Just outside Philadelphia in Narberth, Pennsylvania.
2. How did you first get interested in comics/graphic novels? I was first interested in comic strips and cartoons and Disney movies. When I was twelve, I was given a few comics as a gift. That became a few more and a few more and my interest just grew from there.
3. What inspired you to start writing graphic novels yourself? It was something I wanted to do from a young age. I think it's one of those fantasy jobs a lot of children dream of doing, but one day they grow out of that fantasy and pick a "real" occupation. I never grew out of the idea of writing comic books and started doing it because I couldn't think of anything else I wanted to do.
4. What titles have you published with Campfire so far? I have published adaptations of The Time Machine, Kim, A Journey To The Centre Of The Earth and Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.
5. Are you working on any other Campfire titles at the moment? I am working on a number of projects including the soon to be released Gulliver's Travels adaptation, biographies on The Wright Brothers, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, and some original graphic novels, 400 BC and Photo Booth.
6. How does your approach to adapting classics differ from writing an original script? Aside from having more freedom to take an original story in different directions, the approach is somewhat similar. I still start by figuring out how many pages to devote to each scene and putting together a basic story that will make the reader want to turn the page.
7. Is writing a full time job for you? I do write full time, but depending on my schedule I also work some additional part-time hours in restaurants or offices.
8. What motivates you to write graphic novel scripts after a hard day at work? Writing graphic novels is what I've always wanted to do, so it isn't a struggle to devote long hours to a script. It’s something I look forward to when I’m done at my other job.
9. When you’re writing a script, do you imagine how the illustrations will look? And, if so, to what degree? I try to imagine every detail, from the characters to the clothing to the settings. I try to include enough detail in the script so the artist’s final work looks like what I imagined.
10. What has been the most rewarding graphic novel project you’ve worked on so far? The upcoming Gulliver’s Travels adaptation. It’s one of my favourite books, so having a chance to bring the story to a different format was very rewarding.
11. Who, in your opinion, is the greatest graphic novel/comic book writer of all time? I think there are so many tremendous writers with very different styles; it's impossible to pick one. Some that have greatly influenced me have been Frank Miller, James O'Barr, Chris Claremont, Scott Lobdell and Larry Hama.
12. Why do you think young people should read graphic novels? To me, that's like asking why should someone listen to music or watch a movie. Graphic novels are just a different medium, a different way of telling a story. Just like you can get lost in a great song or film, graphic novels can capture your imagination in the same way.