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Hey J. Torres...Take 5!
Interview by James W. Powell
Posted June 5, 2005

Lola coverJ. Torres has been a busy man lately, and judging from his track record, that's just the way the writer likes it. Aside from his work on Teen Titans for DC, Torres has two books shipping from Oni Press in August. The first is the original graphic novel, Lola, in which Torres teams up with artist R'John Bernales. The second is Alison Dare, Little Miss Adventures Vol. 2, a collection all-ages stories featuring the young adventurer Torres did with J. Bone.

 

Lola tells the story of Jesse, a young boy who sees dead people, monsters, and demons, among other things. Yet this isn't your typical suspense thriller. While it certainly promises ghosts and other scary things, the story also revolves around Jesse's relationship with his mother. In other words, it's a ghost story with a heart.

 

Although Torres is incredibly busy, I talked him into pausing on his work for a moment to Take 5...

 
 
 
 

Jesse, the the lead character in Lola, sees dead people, which many people recognize as the tag line from The Sixth Sense. How much do these two stories have in common? Is it safe to say that fans of the film will enjoy this book?

 

Hmm...I think so. I hope so. Both have a kid who sees ghosts...although Jesse sees more than that... and both have a twist at the end.

 

Lola is a ghost story, but from reading the solicitations, it seems to be more than just a spook fest. Without having read the book, it looks like there will be themes on family and personal growth. Is that true? Will these be the undercurrents of the story?

It's a kind of coming of age story, yes. Family is central to the story. But there are creepy elements and strange twists, shall we say, on both of those themes. It's about a kid who's haunted by the past and who's kind of terrified of his future, and all because like his dead grandmother, he "sees dead people."

 

How did you and Bernales hook up on this story?

Lola interior imageI knew I wanted someone who was Filipino like me for this book. I can't explain exactly why, but I just felt that it would be easier to communicate certain things to a Filipino artist, and that such as artist would know where I was coming from in terms of characterization, setting, references to folk lore and tradition. Not that I couldn't explain such things to a non-Filipino, or have them do the research, but I think this is working out as I had hoped.

 

Again, it's hard to explain or exactly put into words, but it's kind of like...my fiancée was talking to a friend the other day about looking for a make-up artist. We're getting married next year. She really wants an Asian make-up artist — she's Korean — because she thinks they'd "get it" and know what she needs for her complexion, the shape of her eyes, and so on. Does that comparison make sense? Anyway, I've known R'john for about a year now and I've wanted to work with him pretty much from my first look at his work online. When I was ready to work on Lola, I just knew it had to be with him.

 

Alison Dare is definitely a read for the kids. But what about Lola? Who is the target audience there?

Well, although it has some "scary" elements I think it's safe to say that it's all-ages, meaning no swearing, no nudity, nothing too graphic or gory. I'm just not sure this type of ghost story would appeal to young kids. Our target audience is probably 15 or 16 years old and older, I'd say.

 

I'm unfamiliar with the Alison Dare character. Can you tell us a bit about her?

Alison Dare coverShe is Indiana Jones as a girl and wants nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of her explorer mother or superhero father. Despite their attempts to give her a normal life and keep her out of trouble, she always finds a way to have adventures or her own. Thus far, she's faced everything from ninjas and Nazis to evil magic and Biblical type plagues. The kids who've read the Alison Dare comics seem to dig it, and there are some adult fans out there too. It's been a while since she's been in print, but hopefully folks will fall in love with her again with this new trade paperback.

 

 

For more information on J. Torres and his upcoming work, check out his website or head over to onipress.com.

 

 
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