We Talk About the Grimm Fairy Tales 10th Anniversary Special with Jeff Massey

Although relatively new to the medium of comics as a writer, Jeff Massey already has an impressive list of writing credits to his name.  He has been responsible for most of the Oz offshoot of Grimm Fairy Tales at Zenescope, and recently had the chance to writer the 10th Anniversary special featuring Britney Waters.  We got a chance to talk to him about the special and what to look forward to at Zenescope.

red004Graphic Policy:  Britney Waters is technically the oldest of the Grimm Fairy Tales characters but she has never made it higher than the secondary role except for the occasional miniseries or story arc.  Do you think that she is ready to break through as a character and maybe some day get her own ongoing series?

Jeff Massey:  Absolutely!  I’d love to see her in the spotlight more often. Brit has lots of fun narrative potential in her internal conflict (psychoanalytic intellect/feral rage) and external hybridity (beauty/beast), and werewolves are just fucking awesome in general, so it’s about time she got more attention. Pat (Shand) and I have talked about a possible team-up with Brit and Robyn, and I have ideas for building Red’s rogues gallery / support team that I think would give her storyline legs.  My pitch: “It’s like Kolchak the Night Stalker meets Karen Sisko meets Moonlighting”: who wouldn’t like a dose of that werewolfy goodness every month?

GP:  This special is a strange opportunity to both look forward and to look back to the beginning of the company’s amazing run on Grimm Fairy Tales.  How did you manage to find the balance between the two?

JM:  In the one-shot, Brit is in transition—between her old life in (evil) Hibocorp and the start of her new life as a “solo” hero—so I think her current narrative reflects the general awareness of the past and future that Zenescope is celebrating.  But “balance” is a good term to keep in mind with Brit and her own transitions!

GP:  I think it is fair enough to say that wolves are often associated with masculine features and also therefore also masculine heroes.  How do you approach the character as what is pretty much the most feminine wolf character in comics?

JM:  Werewolves have been traditionally male, certainly—there are maybe three pre-modern female werewolves in literature—but I loved Wolfsbane back in the old New Mutants series, and when Ginger Snaps hit theaters I realized how much fun werewolves running against gendered expectations could be.  And Terry Pratchett’s Angua is amazing.  So I think Brit should deal with the typically “male” difficulties of lycanthropy—uncontrolled rage, unruly hair, unexpected public nekkidness—but her reactions to these difficulties will likely be unconventional.

GP:  Is it harder to approach a female character as a male writer?

red001JM:  I don’t know: I’ve never been female, so I don’t know how women feel about writing women.  But I do run some ideas past my wife, just in case. But really, I’ve mostly written women and wolves so far at Zenescope (my first assignment was a Toto back-up story, then Dorothy, and now Brit), so it’s hard to make the comparison, I suppose.

GP:  Werewolves are also a pretty common topic these days in popular culture.  How do you approach the story to give a fresh take on it?

JM:  I spent a few years researching werewolves in popular culture as part of my doctoral studies—my dissertation was on medieval lycanthropy—and I’ve been the vice-president of MEARCSTAPA (a society for the study of literary monstrosity), so I know my monster history.  As you say, there are lots of werewolves out nowadays, but I still think there are different werewolf traditions (mechanics of change, psyches, demeanors) that haven’t been tapped yet.  And there’s always a fresh take to reflect our changing culture.  Have you seen Wolfcop?  Awesomesauce!

GP:  The setting for the 10th anniversary special is in Los Angeles.  Is there any particular reason that this setting was chosen?  And are there any difficulties in writing a story based there?

JM:  Joe and Ralph chose the location; I’m not sure what their reasoning may have been, but I like the idea of spatially distancing Brit from Robyn.  The two are besties, sort of, but also very different people, and their geographies reflect that.  Like me and Pat: he lives in CA and writes about Robyn in NYC; I live in NY and write about Red in LA.  It’s all pretty Freaky Friday.  And LA is so…sunny.  It should yield some nice gothic juxtaposition: dark monster themes in Sunnydale.  Oh, wait.  Now I get it!

GP:  The Master of the Hunt is making his debut in this issue.  Is he possibly going to become Britney’s main nemesis?

JM:  I loved creating Rikk.  He’s terribly self-righteous, and I think that makes him a great villain-who-thinks-he’s-a-hero.  If I have my way, he’ll be back.  But I also think previous writers, like Pat Shand, have given Brit a great foil in Ivory.  Ideally, I’d like to see Brit get a rogues gallery of her own, maybe have some two-on-one villain action.  Who says you only get one arch-nemesis?  Plenty of time to make enemies!

GP:  What can we look forward to seeing in the remainder of the 10th anniversary specials?  And will you be involved with any more?

JM:  Honestly, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens as much as the next guy—this was my one anniversary project for Zenescope.  But (my wife and co-writer) Kristin and I are currently wrapping up scripts for Oz: Reign of the Witch Queen, so if you haven’t checked out the high fantasy shenanigans in the Realm of Hope yet, take a look!