GVN Talking Comics Interview: Writer Alisa Kwitney for Ahoy Comics ‘G.I.L.T.’

Coming April 6th, Ahoy Comics premiers a new series by Eisner-nominated comics writer and novelist Alisa Kwitney (Rogue: Untouched, Mystik U) and artist Mauricet (Star Wars Adventures, Dastardly & Muttley). Their new book G.I.L.T. follows two very different women whose lives become entangled when they both slip through a portal in time to the day, they first met in 1973. That’s what happens when you don’t follow the number one tenant of the G.I.L.T. society: ‘Travel Responsibly. Only one Temporalist at a time.” Full of smart, sassy dialogue and the art Alain Mauricet is known for, G.I.L.T. will grab on and take you through their journeys through time. And you’ll be glad you did. In advance of the new book, we were able to sit down with writer Alisa Kwitney and talk about her beginnings, her work on G.I.L.T. with Mauricet and Ahoy Editor Tom Peyer and more. So, let’s welcome Alisa Kwitney to GVN’s Talking Comics.

Introduction

GVN: Thank you so much for a bit of your time, Alisa. So, I hope you’re not tired of talking about yourself as I always lead with a bit of background. What made you decide to go into writing and comics particularly and who were the writers and creators who inspired you to pursue that goal?

AK: I was raised to be a writer the way some kids are raised for the army, or priesthood. My mother was a journalist and editor who taught me about existentialism and blank verse and took me to see Edward Albee’s experimental play about lizard people well before puberty. My father was the science fiction writer Robert Sheckley, and even though he was not on the scene for most of my formative years, his books were. So, I was basically raised by a writer and shelves and shelves of science fiction books. And since I was a geeky, awkward kid who loved books and comics, I never considered not being a writer. As for outside influences, lately I’ve been rereading a lot of the horror comics I loved as a kid, and lots of them were written by Nicola Cuti, and illustrated by Joe Staton.

The Value of Improv

GVN: With that kind of pedigree, being a writer was obviously a given. In researching a bit about you I noticed that you enjoy doing improv. What is it about that particular exercise that appeals to you? I’ve always equated those with such abilities to generally be highly intelligent with the ability to think on the fly (judging from your writing, you definitely fit that criteria).

AK: Thank you for the compliment, but for me, improv is a way of shaking loose my internal critic and focusing on story. It’s not about being clever or getting the most laughs. It’s about building a scene with a partner, and toggling back and forth between coming up with ideas for character and plot and letting go of those ideas when your partner does something you weren’t expecting, so you can build on what they’re doing. Improv is also about being authentic to whatever improbable character or scene you’re playing, too—so a whole lot of good practice for writing this comic!

Alain Mauricet and G.I.L.T.

GVN: You have joined your writing talents with talented artist Alain Mauricet for a new book series called GILT for Ahoy Comics. (having read the first issue, the writing is extremely sharp with characters absolutely dripping with sarcasm that I really appreciate). How did that collaboration come about, and can you give us a synopsis of what GILT is about?

AK: Mauricet and I met over the telephone in 2015, when DC comics paired us up on the first incarnation of Mystik U. That version of Mystik U fell into development hell, and we both went on to do other projects. By the time Mystik U was revived, DC had snapped Alain up and seduced him with high profile projects (Harley Quinn) and big city glamorous writers (Jimmy Palmiotti, Garth Ennis). But Alain and I had bonded with each other over our mutual love of campy horror, dark humor and the avocado and vomit color palette of the seventies. We collaborated on some shorter stories—two for Shelly Bond’s Femme Magnifique, and one for Snifter of Terror.

Then I pitched GILT to Tom Peyer as “The Golden Girls meets Sex and the City—by way of the Twilight Zone.” Alain and I couldn’t believe it when we got the green light—we had been trying to get a longer project together for ages, and had chatted publishers up at various comic cons in San Diego and New York, and had sent off pitches with sample art — and here was Tom, talking ideas through and then just saying, “Okay, yes, let’s do this.”

Working Process

GVN: That certainly sounds like Tom. He has a gift for knowing what works and will fit Ahoy’s brand for sharp writing, satire and sense of fun., which we’ll talk about in a minute. But, as aforementioned, you are working with Mauricet on GILT. How closely have you communicated during this project? Some writers and artists work hand in hand developing the look and feel of a story, and some work better if the writer supplies the script or outline and the artist takes it from there. Which category did your team fit?

AK: We don’t fit into either category. Sometimes we’ve hatched ideas collaboratively, and sometimes I’ve had the initial spark — that was the case with GILT. And I do write full scripts. But we talk at every stage of the process—while I’m writing the script and while Alain is drawing it. He often asks questions that make me tweak things, and adds elements that I then work into the storyline. The cats, for example. Alain was doing so much with Hildy’s cats — that I had to give them more to do.

The Wisdom of Tom Peyer

GVN: So now there is another process of working I can add to my knowledge. Thank you for that. As I mentioned previously, Ahoy has developed a track record for thought provoking and humorous books. Part of the reason is the man in charge (EIC Tom Peyer) is constantly looking for those kinds of stories (plus he has quite the sense of humor himself). What advice did Tom give you as you joined the extremely talented Ahoy stable of talent?

AK: I used to share an office with Tom in the 90’s, and I took over his assistant editor duties on The Sandman and Shade The Changing Man, so I know his sensibility. I’m a huge fan of his writing, and I’m always trying to get him to give me more advice. The main wisdom he gave me regarding this series? “Whenever you are trying to figure out a time travel question, go with the solution that is the most fun for you to write.”

Jill Thompson

GVN: Great advice. You were the beneficiary of a variant cover from one of my favorites, Jill Thompson. How did you get so fortunate? (Fan-Boying…just a bit).

AK: I may have stabbed a Fleuvog shoe with a Civil War era fork and done a little ritual dance.

Following Alisa

GVN: Ok, you had me on that explanation. I had to look up what a Fleuvog shoe even was after seeing it mentioned in the first issue. You’re not dealing with a very sophisticated guy here. (laughs) Thank you again for your time, Alisa. Before I let you go, do you have any other projects you would like to talk about and where can fans go to follow you on Social media or the Web?

AK: People can follow me on Twitter @akwitney, on instagram at k.witty, or on FB @alisa.kwitney.sheckley. My website is www.alisakwitney.com, and Sandman fans can check out my Endless podcast with Lani Diane Rich at https://endless.transistor.fm.

Ahoy Comics new series GILT, written by Alisa Kwitney, with art by Mauricet comes out April 6th where great comic books are sold.

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