Peter Milligan and Giuseppe Camuncoli talk HELLBLAZER and the marriage of JC
Rookie Vertigo Assistant Editor Gregory Lockard here with my first blog for GRAPHIC CONTENT and it’s regarding HELLBLAZER #275! This issue features both the wedding of John Constantine and Epiphany Greaves in an over-sized anniversary special by one of my all-time favorite writer/artist teams AND it is my first issue as Shelly’s assistant editor. “Holy crap” would be a boring understatement but my thumping heart won’t let me concentrate. Since I don’t have the proper words to celebrate Vertigo’s longest running series, Shelly gave me a chance to go directly to Peter Milligan and Giuseppe Camuncoli to find out some specifics about the matrimony of John Constantine.
Gregory: John Constantine was instantly likeable for me in the hands of the
Milligan/Camuncoli team. For you, what makes him such a enduring and popular
character--even though he is completely unafraid to go to the dark places?
Giuseppe Camuncoli: Exactly that... The fact that in spite of everything he went through (or maybe just because of it), he still keeps on going. He never gives up going to the dark places, no matter what he'll find there. And he does it
fashionably, with his own unique style. Let's just say that he can move in
Peter Milligan: I think he’s popular mainly because he is able to carry something essential of himself – some quick-witted bastardry – even in the most dangerous and terrifying situations. Situations that would have normal mortals screaming or crying for help. John Constantine doesn’t cry for help. He utters a bon mot and lights another cigarette. For me though there’s something else. I see him as a complex person. Beneath that tough wise-cracking surface he has feelings, vulnerabilities.
Gregory: What about Epiphany makes her "The One" for John?
Peter: Leading on from my previous answer about Constantine possessing feelings, the main thing about Epiphany is that she brings out or can access these often hidden feelings in him. She is his match – which most people aren’t – and rather than being scared or put off by his strange occupation, she’s quite thrilled by it. The life she’s led – the harrowing death of her mother when she was young, the strange school she was sent to, and having a dangerous and unpredictable dad like Terry Greaves—in some way this is a perfect training for being with Constantine. There’s something else which works—and that is as indefinable as why any other couple are right for each other. I mean, I hadn’t intended Epiphany and John to marry, hadn’t even intended a long term relationship (though I thought from the start that a one night stand was on the cards). But something about the way this character – this young woman – developed forced her towards John. I think this is why there’s a degree of verisimilitude about their relationship. It has the messiness of real life.
Giuseppe: When designing Piffy, I had no idea she was going to become so important
in John's life and to the series. So I went for something that could make
her look unique, and proper for what Peter described her to be. Maybe it was
just some unexpected alchemy (indeed!) between writer, artist and editor
that made her perfect for John. You know how sometimes characters tend to
get a life of their own, and steer away from the initial programs... That's
what happened with Epiphany.
Gregory: Without spoilers, what can Constantine's fans look forward to after the
Peter: First off, married life certainly does not mean comfy evenings in front of the TV, not for these two. The issue of where they should live comes up – as it does with any married couple – but it’s dealt with in a very “Hellblazer” way. Also, after a terrifying incident, Epiphany demands that John does something with his missing thumb. This sets John off on a strange and often grotesque storyline called PHANTOM PAINS. In this story we’ll find out some dark secrets about Epiphany. And while all this is going on, John’s niece Gemma is plotting revenge. She believes John assaulted her at the wedding – in fact it was Demon Constantine – and she sets about having a suitably demonic revenge. Which as you can imagine goes pretty horribly wrong.
Gregory: I know you are a fan of the entire series but do you have favorite
creative team --or storyline-- you would recommend to readers? Favorite
creative team, other than the current one (whose run begins with JOHN
CONSTANTINE, HELLBLAZER: SCAB TPB, plug)
Giuseppe: Ha! That's a very tough question to answer... I've always loved the
series and the character, and all of the creators that have worked on it
have managed to make him their own without making him something else. I
loved every run so far, including of course (and maybe one of the most loved
ones for me) the Alan Moore issues of SWAMP THING in which John was created.
The very first story-arc by Jamie Delano and John Ridgway still holds a
sweet and scary place in my memory, the flavor is still intact. But for some
reason, though, Brian Azzarello was the one that really got me addicted to
the character, with his first run drawn by Richard Corben and then by
Marcelo Frusin, whose John Constantine I've really observed and absorbed for
my own version. That's the face and attitude that I've based my own version
on, graphically speaking.
Peter: I wouldn’t dream of saying I had a favorite team. The fact that this book has lasted so long is testament to the fact that a veritable roller coaster ride of brilliant teams has worked on it. Having said that, for a new reader who doesn’t have a month to spare I’d suggest reading some of Jaime Delano’s early HELLBLAZER stories. And then jump forward to Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. After that you can hop to this current run.
Gregory: HELLBLAZER has been written and drawn by many of the top creators in our industry (including you two). How did you get into the character's head? Was
it a gradual process while preparing the early issues?
Peter: I was always aware of him and had my own thoughts about the kind of geezer he is. When I took over writing the character I remembered chatting to a bunch of people and so many of them said he was a “complete bastard”. I was convinced there was a lot more to him than that. I’ve known and seen complete bastards and Constantine is not one of them. Not quite. He is at heart a pretty decent and moral man who has learnt to be a bastard to survive. Maybe he’s learnt it too well, sometimes he forgets he isn’t a complete bastard. It’s this grey area that I find fascinating about the character.
Gregory: Giuseppe, you modeled the chapel scene after your own nuptials. Did any
demons show up on your day to cause supernatural havoc?
Giuseppe: Not that I know, but there definitely was a moment in which I thought
there was something strange going on. Immediately after I got into the
church, there was a sudden burst of heavy rain. People started running
inside, and I was getting nervous that my soon-to-be wife would've refused
to step out of the car to "ruin" her wedding dress, as we were in the
countryside and puddles of mud were beginning to form on the ground. Luckily
enough, just as it started, it ended, and then I was detached cool again.
Gregory: Where do the newlyweds head off to next? How do they keep things fresh & exciting?
Giuseppe: I don't think that John and Piffy would ever have any
problems in keeping things fresh and exciting. After all, if they don't, I
guess something or someone else would make life interesting anyway. John
Constantine can never stay too far from trouble, right?
Peter: Epiphany gets pregnant. They buy a bungalow in Eastbourne, John gets an office job and grows a moustache. As if…
Gregory: Ha! Thanks, gentlemen. Now I will go home and shave off my moustache…
And thanks to all of you for reading. HELLBLAZER #275 is in stores now! Our letter columns have returned so please write to us at:
Letters to the Editor
New York, NY 10019
Or go to the letters website at dcletterspage.com and put HELLBLAZER in the subject line.