Comics Creators

Wednesday Fan Chat #26 - Colleen Doran


Face forward, Millarworld denizens! We have a new guest this week for our series of Wednesday Fan Chats. Colleen Doran is a writer/artist who has illustrated hundreds of comics, books and magazines. She has worked with the likes of Tori Amos, Peter David, Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, Anne Rice and J. Michael Straczynski with credits that include The Sandman, Wonder Woman, Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans, The Vampire Diaries comics and Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. She even created her own comic book series, A Distant Soil, at the age of twelve. Please give Colleen a grand Millarworld welcome by leaving your questions in this thread. All other posts will be dismissed to never been seen again. Thank you.

If you have difficulty finding out when this will happen in your time zone, please consult this link.


A few year’s back, I heard a female writer comment on Joseph Campbell and the “Hero’s Journey” that in the overwhelming majority of the myths, it was men who undertook the journey of transformation. She asked, “What is the Heroine’s Journey”? Do you believe there is a separate Heroine’s Journey? If so, what do you see it as? Or is the journey the same regardless of gender?

What is your favorite Kurt Russell movie?

If you could illustrate the biography of any historical figure, who would it be?

What is your favorite Talking Heads song?

What is typical work day like for you?


Hi Colleen,

A couple of years back I remember hearing you were working on a graphic novel with Neil Gaiman, is that still in the works?


As an artist what do you think makes an effective comic cover?


First, thank you for taking your time to answer our questions today. It’s an honor and privilege for us.

Is there any chance we can see movie or cable TV versions of A Distant Soil? I think it would be perfect for cable TV or a streaming option like Netflix or Amazon.

When it is finished do you plan on collecting the entire series in one massive edition?


Thank you for taking your time to ask some questions, here are mine:

1.- When will you work with Mr. Mark Millar in a Millarworld book?
2.- Have you cosidered to make a TV series of “A Distant Soil”?


Hello Colleen,

Thanks for spending some of your valuable time answering our questions. I wanted to ask you about Electicomics, as I know that you have done a story for the launch. What kind of impact do you think that this could have on the industry? I have heard Leah Moore speaking about it in terms of democratising the comics industry ( I hope that I’m not misquoting her). What are your thoughts?


I remember reading an interview with Neil Gaiman where he said that he started reading Campbell, and when he realized he was reading a book about storytelling patterns, he decided he wanted to avoid it, because he didn’t want to duplicate patterns in his stories. I feel pretty much the same way.

I don’t read books with a conscious decision to seek out heroic characters and behaviors, I read them for the stories. People don’t have to be heroes to be interesting. I’m sure Emily Dickenson was content to write poems and putter in her garden and I find her interesting as she is.


My favorite Kurt Russell movies is Big Trouble in LIttle China.

I would most want to illustrate the story of Hypatia of Alexandria.

I’m not really sure if I have a favorite Talking Heads song, and I am heavily medicated, so at the moment, my head feels like a Talking Heads song.

A typical work day is my desperate struggle with the responsible and irresponsible sides of my nature. I am either on or off.


I am still working on it and should be finished in October, but it won’t be published until next summer. Sorry it is taking so long.


Whatever works. I don’t have any rules for this sort of thing. I figure whatever gets the reader to buy the book is what goes.

What happens is someone figures out a good formula for a cover, then everyone imitates it, then the next thing you know, someone comes along and does something different and everyone imitates that.

I really don’t care what’s on the cover as long as it gets the reader’s interest, and what interests me is not what interests a lot of other people.


No need to apologise Colleen, I was just hoping it was still happening and I’m sure will be all shades of awesome! :smile:


That’s really nice of you to say. Thank you. I hope I’m doing this formatting correctly. Oh, well.

I think A DISTANT SOIL would be pretty cool as a series. I’ve had several film deals, but I think everyone knows that getting a movie deal and getting to screen are two different things.

I used to think it wouldn’t work on screen because it’s basically a romantic space opera, but then they made Jupiter Ascending. Which has it’s problems, but it’s very similar to my work in some ways. So A DISTANT SOIL can be filmed.

But I think it would work better on television. I seem to be enjoying television more than films these days.

I am not at all sure about doing a big fat final edition. It would be a challenge, it’s 1000 pages long. Or it will be when I get through with the last 7 issues. There have been some really nice omnibus editions, so we will see. I just gotta finish my current work first!


Thank you, I am kind of notorious for being a slow artist, but then I have these weird bursts of focus and speed, so you never know. Maybe one day I will just have a really good run and be Speedy Gonzales for a few years!


There’s a funny bit in your profile where it says you started in comics very young but were taken off a project because it was a bit too ‘adult’.

Was that your choice, your parents or the publisher?


It seems every second movie or TV series is based on a comic book (or at least there have been a lot of these on our screens recently!). Is there any title, yours or someone else’s, past or current, that you’d like to see adapted?

Also, do you ever give comics as gifts and if so what are your go to titles?


Sure, thanks for popping in. I appreciate it.

I don’t know, but we have talked in the past. He’s a terrific writer, I’d love it. He’s on my bucket list of writers! We will see.

Well yes, it’s been mentioned before. Again, nothing definite. My last rights agreement lapsed and I haven’t been proactive. I know some people are waiting for me to finish the series. I think they are all afraid I will get hit by a bus and leave it hanging. Then it will be the Mystery of Edwin Drood. A really rude part of me would find that amusing.


Anything that makes comics more accessible and gets people reading them and creating them is OK by me. Of course, we also need to encourage people to buy them!

But I love how Electricomics isn’t just putting a static comic page on the screen. I really wasn’t sure what they intended when they came to me and I have to say that BIG NEMO is the most technically challenging few pages of comic art I’ve ever drawn. Alan Moore is a genius who thinks in four dimensions, and that is a big advantage to comics on the computer, playing with dimensions.

But it also keeps a step back from animation. I don’t have a particular interest in motion comics per se. The stories in Electricomics were designed to be reading experiences, designed specifically for this particular medium. I don’t know if I’m making much sense here, but the sensation on the computer is markedly different than what you would get in print. It was very interesting, I wasn’t entirely sure how it would work after I draw it. It was amazing to see.

I want people to read comics and to make comics. Anything that facilitates that is good. And I think it’s extraordinary that this project has UK funding. That’s amazing. I’d like to see the project continue. Of course, I’d like to do more work with Alan Moore!


That was my choice. As a matter of fact, I was so embarrassed by what I was asked to draw, I didn’t really want to tell my mother at first. I felt like I’d done something wrong by becoming involved with those people! But they were happy I was able to tell them and my mom helped me to write the letter to tell the publisher I wasn’t going to continue working on the book.


Well, we had a movie deal for Warren Ellis’s Orbiter, but that got scuttled by Warner. I thought Orbiter would be perfect on screen. There’ve been several abortive attempts on that one. A Distant Soil of course, LOL!

Carla Speed McNeil’s FINDER would be an interesting series.

I do give comics as gifts, but mostly to our kids. Most of my adult friends don’t really know what I do for a living, and our kids didn’t really understand what it is I do until fairly recently. When I first tried to give them comics, they had no interest. Now they think they’re really cool. I’m not sure why the sudden change, but they pretty much glom on to whatever they get. They really like superhero comics, but our eldest just loved the Dork Tower comics we gave him, he just laughed and laughed!