Paul Bedford - Love you with a knife


Paul Bedford has broken new ground with his graphic novel The List being optioned for a movie. This writer lives and works in Melbourne, Victoria, and has recently undergone the life changing experience of being a new dad. He strangely agreed to an interview with ScaryMinds, taking time out of writing about sociopaths, doing bottle feeds, and no doubt causing mayhem in the inner suburbs of Australia's second largest city.

ScaryMinds - The List has been critically acclaimed and is optioned for a movie, have your thoughts about the graphic novel changed over time?

Paul Bedford - Good question! I haven't been asked that one. Threw me a bit. I guess I feel about it as I always have and like most writers feel, in that sometimes I love it and think it's brilliant, other times I think it's a piece of shit and that I just should be done with it. It's a love-hate thing we have with our work and ourselves. Ha! To be honest I can only enjoy reading it when I've had a magical cigarette, which is a rare thing, even more-so now my wife has popped out a new human.

ScaryMinds - Sticking with The List, the novel falls into the psychological horror genre, are you a dedicated horror writer or did the central premise of the novel simply have to be told?

Paul Bedford - Nope. Can't say I am. Then again, I don't think I write in any particular genre. Brains are indiscriminate about genre. It produce stories. If what the brain has conjured makes the heart sit up and take notice, I write them.

ScaryMinds - At the conclusion of The List there is definitely room for a sequel, any thoughts of continuing the story?

Paul Bedford - Hmm. I beg to differ. While I see your point and can understand why readers can imagine a sequel, I intentionally structured it to end like that. It's hard to answer this question without giving away the ending or the reason I wrote it as I did. Sorry to sound vague...

But! A prequel could indeed be possible, and many notes have been taken with a view to that happening. I'll write it, however, only of it makes my heart flutter. I'll not insult the original vision with a forced work.

ScaryMinds - How do you fit in writing with the pressures of modern family and work life, do you have a set writing regime per day or do you use a more ad hoc process?

Paul Bedford - Being a very new dad, I'm still sorting that one out. Even before bubs arrived in all his screaming glory I had no real schedule, unless under a deadline. I can lock myself away and write for hours if necessary, but I usually do it when I have time, which is increasingly rare. In the end, though, it still gets done. Where there's a will, and all that.

ScaryMinds - Your writing can be viewed as pretty disturbing, how do family and friends react to a “dark dreamer” in their midst?

Paul Bedford - What? Huh? ;)

Yeah, writing The List does require tapping into the Shadow: rage, insecurity, all the things you don't like about yourself and your/the world. But my family and friends don't seem overly worried about me. Give me a few beers and some time on Battlefield 4 and my desire to kill and maim dissipates. Those little blue pills help too. And monthly injections... and that electricity they run through me... and that piece of brain I had removed... and...

ScaryMinds - What are you currently working on and when can we expect to get our grubby paws on it?

Paul Bedford - I am currently (sllllooooowwwwllllly) making headway on the 3rd draft. The film will be somewhat different to the GN, but I'm doing all I can to retain the tone and flavour of the book. I think that the decision to make a film different to its source material is an intentional one. It's not; it's the nature of the beast. Archetypal screenplay structure demands that an atypically structured narrative such as The List graphic novel be utterly rearranged. I just hope I can do it and make it not shit.

ScaryMinds - Is the Australian comic and graphic novel climate in good shape at the moment and what do you see as the major issues going forward?

Paul Bedford - I can only comment since I became involved, in the relatively recent 2006, but it has certainly gone from strength to strength, with more creators, titles, works of world standard. Some titles, like mine, have been optioned for film or TV series, including Tom Taylor's creator-owned title, The Deep. Unfortunately I'm not at liberty to discuss which other works are being looked at, but there are some worthy titles being brought to screens both big and small, which is fucking amazing and a huge indication of the talent this small country produces. We're a tenacious lot, but the thing I love about most Aussie creators is that they don't live up their own arses. I have a saying about the Aussie scene: "We take our work seriously, not ourselves."

ScaryMinds - Aussies attending the conventions in the States can report the Independent scene isn’t strong there, why the differences do you think between the local market and the North American one?

Paul Bedford - I'm probably not qualified to answer that. I've not been to the Cons at States (I plan on attending New York Con someday - esp if the film the gets made), but Indie scenes are never busting at the seems. It matters little anyway, as to most indie creators, the act of creation, a few sales and some good reviews and feedback from readers mean a hell of a lot.

The North American market is dominated by superheroes and huge licensed properties which, while Australians certainly like them, we also are possessed of an anti-authoritarian streak as we descend from criminals and so don't mind creating and reading darker works because we all have some mental problem or another. Ok, some of this answer might have been tongue in cheek...

ScaryMinds - Support for the graphic side of horror story telling would seem to receive luke warm support from the AHWA etc, do you think it’s time people in the comic industry formed their own body and pushed for greater public awareness?

Paul Bedford - Any association claiming to support the arts but fails to give equal support to all mediums isn't worth a great deal. That comment isn't aimed at the AWHA, as I don't know their stance on comics/GN's, but if it's true they should rethink it. I've written a graphic novel which people rate as one of their most disturbing reads, an experience which stays with them for days and I've had reports of giving people nightmares. I am perversely proud of these achievements. Ha! On top of that, the film rights have been optioned. I think that is evidence enough of the power of the medium, and that is only my work (see Question 12 where I make mention of other works sure to fill your pants).

ScaryMinds - I note the Bedford clan is expanding, congratulations, fatherhood or graphic novel creation, which is the greater challenge?

Paul Bedford - Fatherhood. Hands down. And that's nothing compared to what the mothers have to endure. If giving birth was up to males, I wouldn't be here writing this. Anyone who tells you writing is really hard should spend the first weeks with a newborn. But it is awesome and my gorgeous little Viking is worth any sacrifices I have to make. I'm smitten. He's amazing. Want to see some photos? I can show you a few videos! Ok, I'll stop now.

ScaryMinds - With family commitments naturally taking priority do you expect your written word output to drop or will Paul Bedford be churning out words in between late night feeds?

Paul Bedford - I think the problem will be getting past the awesome feeling of being a dad so I can tap back into the dark side. My output has never been great, as I write when I feel like it as like to enjoy the experience... unless under a deadline, where I find I can get the work done due to pressure. Or maybe I just need to uninstall Battlefield 4...

ScaryMinds - If you had to nominate five comics/graphic novels that represent the dark genre Downunder which would you choose?

Paul Bedford - Let's see. There's a few nutbag creators I'm proud to call my mates who have produced some fucked up works. In no particular order of nutbagness, here are a few of my fave darker works. Note: I take dark works not to mean simply violent or trying to be edgy. They have to be to able reach their tendrils into that hidden part of your psyche and mess with your fears, perceptions of the world etc.

And I m going to break your rules and name 6, because they are all too good to leave any out...

Winter City by the Purcell Brothers: Think Spawn, but with bigger balls and darker back story... and the art is just as good. Stupidly highly recommended.

Worry Doll by Matt Coyle: An incredibly dark and terrifying work. As close to a nightmare in book-form you could hope to find. Criminally underexposed. Hunt it down.

Changing Ways by Justin Randall: Simply brilliant. A world class work. It's The Walking Dead for the thinking person.

Oxygen (in the 'Digested' series) by Bobby N: My all time favourite story in this medium along side The Crow.

Anything written by Jason (Fruitloop) Franks. Just read his stuff.

Seven by Alisha Howard. A truly fucked up fairy tale. Keep this one away from kids. Adults too.

ScaryMinds would like to thank Paul Bedford for taking time out of his work, family, and Battlefield 4 committments to talk with us. Looking forward to the movie and the prequel.

Internet References for Paul Bedford

The List (200 pages of headfuck) is available from the following places:

Comixology (eComic)
Amazon (Print or eComic)
Stores: Melbourne: Minotaur and All Star Comics. Geelong: Gifts for the Geek. Canberra: Impact Comics. Queensland (Toowoomba): Kaboom! Comics