Christopher Sequeira is a writer and editor who specialises in mystery, horror, science fiction and super-heroes. His short stories and articles have been published in Australia, the UK, the USA and Canada. He has also written scripts for flagship superhero comic-books, such as Justice League Adventures for DC Entertainment, and Iron Man and X-Men stories for Marvel Entertainment. He has created original characters and edited and published comics in Australia, including the Tides of Hope anthology that raised $10,000 for charity in the wake of the national disaster that was the Queensland floods of 2010. Sequeira, his wife, and two children, reside in Sydney. He is currently developing two television series; three prose anthologies; a feature horror film with friend and former professional collaborator, Oscar winner Dave Elsey; and several comic-books for the international market.
You’ve produced work seemingly across the entire spectrum – prose stories, graphic novels, collaborative works, radio, and even a graphic story using real photography. Do you find it hard moving from one medium to another? What are some of the challenges in doing so?
I’ve even done some TV and film scripting, and I very occasionally do visual art pieces, too, so I guess I’ll take a run at most stuff. I will say that I don’t think these are ‘all the same’; I think they have very different requirements and need different rules to be observed to successfully execute a story for them, you have to study the formats and see what the audiences expects, and get that down before you do a piece, otherwise it will be a mess. I don’t find it hard moving from project to project, my biggest problem is I’m usually juggling too many, but that, I’ve gotten REAL good at! No, the real thing is, study the form, study the genre, know and respect these things and you’ll find opportunities to tell good stories. When I get an idea for something now, I can usually categorise it in my head: “That’s a novel.” “That will only work as a short film.” “That would work as a screenplay and possibly a graphic novel.” “That’s a comic-book on-going series, etc.” If you can do that, you won’t get too badly off-track and can concentrate on how to make something a good story.
It would be safe to call you an expert when it comes to Sherlock Holmes, with a number of essays, as well as prose stories and graphic novels featuring the iconic detective. What is it about the character that appeals to you so much? What impact do you think the recent decisions regarding the copyright on Holmes will mean to the field?
Yeah, I have the credits and lifelong obsession with the character, and enough stories and non-fiction articles in print to justify that label (and in fact I intend a book collecting my stuff in a year or so)! The reason I like the character is because he’s both the first superhero (e.g. the non-super-powered time, and he’s the first scientific hero. The original stories are just so, so remarkable, not just in the way the style is so accessible where other Victorian efforts are hard to read now, but the insights into the human condition as well as the plots are just so dazzling! Doyle was an absolute original.
The copyright decision is great, I know Les Klinger who was the champion here. The position pursued here by him here was not about taking Holmes off anybody, it was Les arguing the law already allowed Holmes SHOULD be in the public domain NOW; so it needed to be accepted. The final book of stories, as Les always said, are themselves still NOT pd. But the main characters and their attributes are. I think the field won’t be damaged by the decision, as just like Dracula and Frankenstein the fact can use a character doesn’t mean everyone will every day. There have been terrible Holmes takes, and there still will be, but there will still be cool ones!
You are heavily involved in the Australian comics industry. If someone was trying to learn more about what is currently being produced here, as well as some of classics of the field, what are some of the essential stories and artists you would consider “must reads”?
I’m heavily involved in the local scene – and, man, am I involved with the biggest local comics project – in every sense of the word, right now, than I ever have, but I’m also still obsessed and involved with American and international comics, too. I have my favourite creators, rather than titles: Classics include dozens, but I gotta mention Steve Ditko (whom I know and have met), Kirby, Colan, Wally Wood, dozens more. Modern; I’d have to say Alan Moore, Gibbons, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid (a friend, and a flippin’ ‘proper’ comics writer – the guy understands his job is to deliver EVERY issue). Study these guys and just get lost in the craft. Pulling one of their stories apart is a joy of a learning experience. Lots of others, too. The best Australians include Gary Chaloner, Paul Mason, Bruce Mutard and Nicola Scott; and people you aren’t going to be able to stop from setting the world on fire include Jason Franks, Julie Ditrich, and Jon Sommariva (they are already doing so).
LOVED is that strong word. I think Bruce Mutard’s collected stuff is always a delight on the comics scene. In prose Kaaron Warren is continually amazing. My buddy, Paul Mason is a machine.
Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?
I have never been more excited about the publishing industry because it is undergoing evolutionary change, and now the potential for great works is not shackled to earning the favour of rich people. Great stuff can get into the marketplace with some smart thinking and a click of the mouse. It won’t sell particularly well unless the work is solid, so that’s eminently fair, as far as I’m concerned.
After years away from publishing I’m back in again with really great collaborators all excited by strategically well thought out projects with the highest calibre creators involved. Four books I am editing have me really, really excited, three should shelves or crowdfunding platforms in less than 12 months, they are collaborations with the best professionals in the country and overseas; and represent a real game-change to the belief we can’t do quality commercial stuff here. I’m also working on some film and US comics stuff, but that’s stuff you can’t really discuss until it germinates, one’s a project with Mark Waid, another involves my pal, Chewie Chan, another, Paul Mason, another Jan Scherpenhuizen and probably Jason Franks. Cool things aplenty.
I’ll read anything I get time for, but there’ll always be horror and there’ll always be heroes. And I read lots of geopolitics, because that’s the real version of both.
This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Aussie Spec Fic Snapshot. In the lead up to the World Science Fiction Convention in London, we will be blogging interviews for Snapshot 2014 conducted by Tsana Dolichva, Nick Evans, Stephanie Gunn, Kathryn Linge, Elanor Matton-Johnson, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Jason Nahrung, Ben Payne, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, , Helen Stubbs Katharine Stubbs, Tehani Wessely and Sean Wright.
To read the interviews hot off the press, check out these blogs daily from July 28 to August 10, 2014, or look for the round up on SF Signal when it’s all done. You can find the past Snapshots at the following links: 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2012.