Proof that people are saying things about us
Dr. Id, Psychologist of the Supernatural
By Marco Rizzo (Comicus.it, 9/21/06)
Translated by Andrea Plazzi
It happens. The non-mainstream American comics still have small, wonderful surprises for us.
One is Dr. Id, a black & white comic book published by a small label, absolutely surprising for the witty quality it displays in dealing with its peculiar subject matter. And for its artist: the 100% Italian Paolo Leandri. Here Leandri puts his never-more-Kirbesque style in service of writer Adam McGovern, a leading expert worldwide in all things Jack Kirby, telling the feats of a psychologist of sorts, treating his patients through a somewhat magical approach. Dr. Strange meets Dr. Freud, if you ask me.
We wanted to know more and we interviewed both creators. You'll find a few images as well, so follow the link...
Interview With Adam McGovern:
Comicus: Dr. Id is a very clever and bizarre comic book. Where did the idea of mixing sci-fi, the paranormal and psychoanalysis come from? Are you usually interested in psychoanalysis?
McGovern: It is like a modern religion of America, and probably of the industrial world in general. Psychologists are the shamans of the space age, leading us to understand ourselves in ways we like to think are complete, even though the human mind is probably insurmountably hard to figure out.
In Europe Freud replaced God for a lot of people, and in America, we are so convinced we can accomplish anything we can imagine, that the concept of mental health has an extra attraction for us. At least that is what we assumed in the mid-20th century time period that was the height of our stature, and this is one of many American assumptions that coincided with the optimism and confidence of "Silver Age" superheroes.
Paolo and I remember the comics of that era with both fondness and amusement, and psychotherapy was perhaps the one principle of that time that did not get prominently represented in comics. Heroes like Hal Jordan/Green Lantern symbolized Americans' sense of magical destiny; Superman symbolized benevolent imperial power; Martian Manhunter symbolized a unified order that extended not only across the planet but the whole solar system; yet no hero symbolized the belief that psychological engineering could be the remedy for all social problems. Paolo and I decided to peek into a parallel universe where such a hero got his own stardom. (BTW I'm pleased and honored that you like the book so much -- we take it as a sure sign of sound mental health!)
Comicus: The style used is a clear tribute to '70s comics and above all Kirby stuff. A choice made by you or by the penciler?
McGovern: Paolo has natural echoes of Kirby in his style, but since we decided to set our stories in the '70s, there would be no escaping Kirby's influence since it touched all corners of American comics (and often beyond). Kirby encoded the DNA of comic-book visuals, and to me Paolo represents the next evolution in that chain. Meanwhile he surpasses Kirby in certain areas: by the '70s Kirby had lost some of the subtleties of his film-noire, kid-gang work, and of the moody, atmospheric "Black Magic" period; Paolo retains all of this, for a fascinating mix of Kirby's dynamics, Gene Colan's nuances, and Paolo's own visionary design.
Comicus: How did you get in touch with Paolo Leandri?
McGovern: It will scarcely be surprising given my answer above :-) -- he wrote to me at the Jack Kirby Collector magazine in the U.S. to show me some samples, and when I proposed a collaboration it was soon to seem as if the Muse had deposited one-half of several fascinating ideas in each of our heads, waiting for us to discover each other and put the puzzle together!
Comicus: How can Italian readers buy a copy of your book?
McGovern: Dr. Id, Psychologist of the Supernatural comes out on October 25, 2006 worldwide. It is available from Diamond Comic Distributors. You can tell your nearest shop that sells comics that the order code is AUG06 3403. Like in a pulp adventure yarn, finding comics can be a bit of a mystery and treasure-hunt, but this should work. We also welcome you to visit our website at www.doctoridcomic.com (which has some content in Italian, with more to come!), and to email us if you'd like to order a copy -- we will soon be able to sell them online, and will notify you when the "shop" is open. Like any self-respecting mystic, Dr. Id is approachable on a number of alternate planes!
Interview With Paolo Leandri:
Comicus: Your style is reminiscent of Jack Kirby but of more contemporary artists as well, like Keith Giffen or Marcos Martin. Do you acknowledge other influences? Does your work for Dr. Id come from any particular research you did for its '70s flavor?
Leandri: I can't say I did any particular research; the Silver Age of comics is somewhat rooted in my subconscious. So it all came out very naturally, very spontaneously.
My influences go back to Kirby but to Steve Ditko and Gene Colan as well, while non-comics influences include (not only) horror movies from the '60s, and then way back to the genre's origins.
What I like in these old masterworks is both the technical skill they display and the way they use a very functional "language," as opposed to today's trend of special and spectacular effects -- they were so good at creating something truly, straightforwardly popular and entertaining.
Among contemporary artists, my fave is Mike Mignola.
Comicus: Any other American projects after Dr. Id?
Leandri: I'll keep teaming up with Adam, a cultivated and brilliant writer who knows how to conjure up truly visionary images. We have two kinds of projects on the floor. Some start from a full script by Adam, with stories and characters by him. Others are about ideas of mine, and dialogue is added by Adam over my pencils. After that, a certain amount of interaction comes naturally. Dr. Id falls into the first category and he will hopefully be welcomed enough to give our other projects some momentum.
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