It’s All Love: Discussing ‘Dejah Thoris’ With Writer Chuck Brown
by Tom Smithyman
Dejah Thoris returns to comic books in April, but this time her story is set thousands of years before John Carter ever sets foot on Barsoom. Chuck Brown is writing the story of the sheltered young princess who must learn to become a warrior and champion of her people. In an exclusive interview with Comicon, Brown discusses why he wanted to return to the Red Planet, the strength of his creative team and the challenge of writing a character who doesn’t wear many clothes.
Tom Smithyman: Edgar Rice Burroughs introduced Dejah Thoris over a century ago. She started out largely as a damsel in distress but evolved over time. What more do you hope to add to her story?
Chuck Brown: Burroughs introduced “a princess of mars” over a century ago and she has evolved into a warrior in her own right. I hope to continue to add layers to her character and explore more of her backstory and motivations. I want to delve deeper into her relationships, her political prowess and her inner thoughts. I also want to explore her role as a leader and a warrior in a society that is constantly at war.
Smithyman: You have experience with these characters, having written John Carter of Mars. What made you want to return and write about Dejah Thoris?
Brown: Writing John Carter of Mars was fun, and I was excited to return to the world of Barsoom and explore more of the characters and cultures that inhabit it. Dejah Thoris is a complex and interesting character. When I was given the challenge of writing her thousands of years in the past, that is what really caught my attention. It was a great opportunity to add to the legacy of the character and Barsoom.
Smithyman: She’s not all that big on clothing, is she? Does that make her more difficult to write, or easier?
Brown: LOL. Yes. Dejah Thoris is not typically known for wearing a lot of clothing, but that doesn’t make her difficult to write. In fact, it adds an interesting dynamic to her character as she is not defined by her clothing or appearance, but rather by her actions and her leadership. In the books, everyone is basically nude. I think the lack of clothing is helpful to the artists. I don’t know!
Smithyman: You are joined on your creative team by artist Emiliana Pinna and colorist Ellie Wright. Have you seen their pages yet? How do they add to story you crafted?
Brown: I am lucky to have a talented creative team working on Dejah Thoris with me. I have seen some of the pages created by artist Emiliana Pinna. They are really beautiful, and the background work is mind-blowing. It’s still early so I haven’t seen Ellie Wright’s pages yet. But Emiliana’s art captures the sense of adventure and action in the story. The pencils and inks add a sense of atmosphere and mood to the world of Barsoom. Together, I’m sure Emiliana and Ellie will bring the story to life in a way that I couldn’t have imagined.
Smithyman: You’ve spent much of your career working on independent titles, including Flawed and Bitter Root. But you’ve also had success with established books like Black Manta and Aquamen. Do you have a preference for the kinds of characters you write?
Brown: To be honest it’s all love. When I’m given the opportunity to write characters like Red Sonja, John Carter or Dejah, I’m living a dream. I’m writing characters that we’ve all grown up reading and falling in love with. With my creator-owned properties, the creative process is more involved with long-term rewards. I’ve always dabbled in both worlds, and I think I’ll continue to do so.
Smithyman: What is next for you after Dejah Thoris wraps? Will you head back to the Red Planet or try something else?
Brown: After Dejah Thoris, I have several other projects in the works, but I am open to the possibility of exploring more of the mythos of Barsoom in the future. For now, I’ll be working with Dynamite and Disney to bring a couple of iconic villains to comics. Stay tuned!
Smithyman: We’ll do just that. Thanks for taking the time to talk to Comicon!