Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your comic book, Crime & D’Sorder! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the story’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Chris Fildes: Thanks! Crime & D’Sorder is the followup to the book I released last year called Fanny Galactic: Tuck to the Future. This was the story of a drag queen who finds herself plunged 100 years into the future after her wind machine explodes on stage. There, she finds the world is ruled over by an evil drag queen dictator and tries to get back home.
Crime & D’Sorder continues the story by going back to the present day and finding out how this dystopia came to be. So, Violet Crime and Sybil D’Sorder are both drag queens who were in the local bar when Fanny Galactic’s wind machine exploded. Sybil (the posh one) thinks it was a deliberate hate crime, but Violet (the ageing punk rocker) thinks that’s crazy and it was just an accident; however, after the shocking murder of a prominent figure, Violet starts to wonder if Sybil knows more than she is letting on… ...then things spiral out of control.
I was inspired to write the stories as I wanted to explore themes of growing up gay in Britain in the 1980s and how it affected people now they are older in the present day. Homophobia was everywhere - friends, family, strangers, and the state. HIV/AIDS swept through the gay scene, wiping out much of a generation of gay men and leaving behind a lot of trauma for those who survived. So, I wanted to look at some of this but absolutely not in a depressing way. I wanted to tell really fun stories that had undercurrents of it driving the characters. So, featuring drag queens seemed ideal as they have been there and done that, seen it all, and are massive fun. The drag queens in Fanny Galactic all are a bit rough around the edges (the best kind) and inspired by those you’d see in local bars and clubs rather than the more polished TV ones.
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in bringing this story to life, and what (or who) have been some of your creative influences?
CF: Working with Edward Bentley (artist) is really good. He’s nailed every character design I’ve given him pretty much straight away and bought so much to the project. I give him a few pages of script each month and we have a quick chat about it. He gives me sketches to approve and then goes on to draw the pages. Most of the time, it works really well, but if there’s something I don’t like, we have a chat about what I don’t like about it, and we work something out. It’s a great process and improves each month a little.
I’ve read 2000AD since I was a kid, and it’s irreverent, quirky style is definitely a big, big inspiration. I like to think the world of Fanny Galactic would fit nicely in their pages with a few nips and tucks. Something like John Wagner’s Judge Dredd or Strontium Dog would be a massive influence. I’m also a big fan of old 1980s British TV shows like Doctor Who and Blakes 7 and also American soap operas like Dallas or Dynasty. These would be very big influences for some of the bombastic characters. The character of Sybil D’Sorder is very much in the mold of the strong female villains from Dynasty and Blakes 7.
TV writer Russell T Davies is also a big inspiration, and I’ve followed his work from Queer As Folk down to Doctor Who, Years and Years and now It’s A Sin. Coincidentally, some of the themes in It’s A Sin overlap a bit with parts of the entire Fanny Galactic saga about growing up gay in 1980s Britain. There was a lot of it in the original script for Tuck to the Future, but I cut most of it out to keep things moving. What I left was a bit ambiguous I felt in hindsight and that’s something I’ve regretted. Perhaps I was scared of frightening readers away with some heavier themes made me pull back a bit. It’s less ambiguous in Crime & D’Sorder. It feels quite cathartic to write about it, but still keep things upbeat and fun.
BD: As this is a followup to Fanny Galactic: Tuck to the Future, did you find that there was a creative shorthand to returning to the world and characters?
CF: For me, yes definitely. After writing the first story, I felt I got to know a lot about the characters. I had basic backstories for all of them, but by the time I’d finished I’d worked out a huge amount of detail that there just wasn’t room to include. I knew a lot about Fanny Galactic, the lead in the first story, and Sybil D’Sorder - the villain. Now, Fanny doesn’t appear much in this story but Sybil is a constant. I find her really easy to write. She’s a camp villain who does terrible things but there’s a lot of justified anger driving her so she’s really interesting to write.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Crime & D’Sorder’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
CF: I think it’s important to remind people that although society is much more friendly towards LGBTQ+ people, bigotry is still there not too far away. There are people in power in the 1980s who are still around either in government or local politics, and they would love to undermine our rights. We see it at the moment in the UK with fake LGBTQ+ rights groups getting setup by bigots, getting funding and support from the government and then campaigning against our rights - particularly those of the trans community. That’s worrying and needs to be kept in checked. Most of all, I just want people to enjoy the story though - it’s a really fun read with a lot of heart. I hope people who enjoyed the first one come back for more, but I hope a lot of new readers discover this world too. It’s written in such a way that you don’t have to read the first story at all - though it’s a richer experience if you have (and you’ll be able to grab a copy at a really cheap price as a Kickstarter add-on).
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
CF: I’m working on a third story, FANNY GALACTIC: 20,000 WIGS UNDER THE SEA. This is a direct followup to the first book resolving the cliffhanger we left Fanny in. It’s really good fun, is half written, and I hope Ed can start on it in the not-too-distant future! I’m also working on a totally different story - it’s a historical horror. Quite experimental. I’ve an artist working on some designs for it at the moment. I’m very excited by it. I’m going to take my time with it. I’m not sure what people will make of it but I’m looking forward to finding out.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Crime & D’Sorder?
CF: The Kickstarter Prelaunch page will be available soon, and the book itself will be there on August 17th. You can find out more from iamchrisfildes.com or follow me on Twitter (@iamchrisfildes).