Interview with Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox of ‘Plutona’

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Set to release on Sept. 2 from Image Comics is Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox’s Plutona, a miniseries about a rag-tag group of five kids who bump into the dead body of a famous superhero.

“The book isn’t so much about the superhero as it is the kids who find her. It’s about how this discovery, and the decision they make, starts to affect their lives and their friendship,” said writer Lemire via email interview. “It’s a very grounded story told from these kids’ point of view.”

PLUTONA_Promo_350_540Lemire isn’t new to superheroes, stories focused on kids, or original creator-owned work. He has worked on books like Animal Man and Justice League United for DC Comics,  Sweet Tooth for DC Comics’ Vertigo line, and Descender, an ongoing comic for Image Comics that was picked up by Sony for an upcoming film adaptation.

Lenox is best known for her Image-published graphic novel series Emitown, which is an autobiographical book called a “sketch diary” on the cover of the first release.

Lemire was inspired by works like Lord of the Flies and Stand By Me in his writing, planning to focus on thematic beats specific to childhood that are similar to his past work, he said. His experience writing superheroes will be put to use in a more unique fashion.

“… Plutona allows me to examine the superhero genre from a totally different angle and in a way that readers and I aren’t used to,” Lemire said.

While Lemire is writing the book, as well as writing and drawing short back-up stories in each issue detailing the superhero’s final adventure, he told me, it was Lenox who came up with the plot for this book after watching the movie Mean Creek.

“It’s been an idea I’ve had for a while but I’d never really done anything with it,” said Lenox via Skype interview.

Lenox and Lemire were friends since they met at a convention, and it was that friendship that ultimately led to Plutona, they explained. Lenox recounted a time they were hanging out and she shot out the story idea. He was pleased, and the two kept fleshing out the story.

The tone of the comic isn’t something capable of strict definition.

“There is humor and whimsy, but it’s not a kid’s comic for sure,” said Lemire. “It goes in some pretty dark and frightening places.”

For Lemire, Lenox’s art style goes a long way in interacting with the tone.

“.. [T]hat tone is totally undercut by Emi’s art style, which is so charming,” said Lemire.

Lenox and Lemire. Photo from Top Shelf Comics.
Lenox and Lemire. Photo from Top Shelf Comics.

The joy Lemire feels for Lenox’s art is palpable. It’s what he brought the exchange back to when asked what his favorite moment working on the book is.

“Seeing Emi’s art come in and seeing the kids come to life on the page has been a thrill,” said Lemire. “She imbues them each with so much personality and life.”

Lenox loves all of the kids they created equally, appreciating the realism and dynamics among them, she said.

“They kind of created themselves,” said Lenox. “It’s not like we had boxes that each kid had to fill in with personality types. They just kind of became who they are throughout the story.”

The book is being colored by Jordie Bellaire, whose credits include such comics as Pretty Deadly from Image Comics and Hawkeye from Marvel Comics. Both Lemire and Lenox are pleased with her work on Plutona thus far.

“Jordie was both Emi and my own first choice to color the book,” said Lemire. “We’ve both admired her work for a while.”

Plutona has already received high praise from comic criticism outlets, including Nerdist’s Benjamin Bailey who rated the comic a 5/5, IGN’s Jeff Lake who rated the comic a 9.5/10, and Comic Book Resources’ Doug Zawisza, who rated the comic a 4/5.

“The book has a lot of twists. It goes in some pretty unexpected places,” said Lemire. “I think it will take readers on a real ride.”

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