When the first full-length adventure of Lenore was published by Slave Labor Graphics in 1998 creator Roman Dirge became the figurehead for comic-books combining the morbid and the macabre with the absurdly cute, kick-starting a mania for the Cute Little Dead Girl that shows no sign of abating 14 years later.
Titan Books recently published Lenore: Swirlies, their fourth collection of Dirge’s comics, all fully coloured by the man himself. Packed full of gory piñatas, Cupcake Castles, unrequited romance and cyborg undertakers, Swirlies represents Lenore at her very best, and Starburst Magazine has taken time out to quiz Roman Dirge about what makes him tick and what valuable lessons he has to share with our children...
Starburst: Years have passed since Lenore made her first published appearance. Did you ever imagine that you would spend so much of your life creating comics like this?
Roman Dirge: Honestly, I'm surprised I've lived this long, let alone still be working on my comics. You wouldn't believe the amount of scars and broken bones I've had. Having stated that, I'm pretty thrilled that I still get to pen my homicidal muse. She's looking good for her age.
In your introduction to the book you suggest that another collection could be due as soon as a year from now. Is that really possible?
It is indeed. I believe it's still on track. I'm an issue away already from having another collected batch. I'm that speedy these days. I'm like a puma and shit but different.
In twenty years what has been your favourite piece of Lenore merchandise and why?
The Dark Horse figure of Lenore being wrapped by a python with what is clearly the figure of Ragamuffin inside the snake. I like toys that tell a story. That story was don't be eaten by a giant snake. It's a lesson to the children, really.
Going forward, does Lenore have a natural ending or would you like to continue working on the loveable dead girl as long as you can?
I know how Lenore ends. I figured it out years ago. The ending is surprisingly tear-jerking for a Lenore issue. I've actually thought about drawing it and putting it away somewhere to be released after my demise. I'm also an artist though, and it's so tough not to see the reaction of your efforts. I dunno...
If for some reason you were ever unable to create more comics would you want anybody else to take over Lenore for you, or is she too personal to share?
What? Do you know something I don't? Is there a hit on me? Speak, damn you!!! When I die, I'd like Lenore to join me. I'm sure there are many talented artists and writers that could pick up her torch. It wouldn't be me though, and the light would flicker not the same. When you're the creator, writer, artist, colourist of your invention, it feels impossible to let go. I couldn't imagine it.
Does Lenore have a soundtrack? If not do you do anything special while you're drawing? Wall-to-wall torture porn DVDs?
Look, the wall-to-wall torture porn is just a decorative choice. I actually just listen to movie soundtracks when I work or I run through Netflix's library of awful movies that I can sort of listen to, but won't distract me too much.
Lenore: Swirlies is out now from Titan Books.