Wednesday, March 14, 2012

M.R. GOTT interviews...Chuck Miller

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

M.R. interviews...Chuck Miller
FROM M.R. Gott's Cutis Anserina; A Place for Hard Boiled Macabre

Please Welcome Chuck Miller to Cutis Anserina.

Tell us about your character, the Black Centipede.

The Black Centipede was originally conceived as a cross between William S. Burroughs and the Shadow, with a dash of Doc Savage. (Black centipedes are a loathsome centerpiece of Burroughs' novel "Naked Lunch.") Like Doc, he makes his home/headquarters in the top floors of the tallest skyscraper in the city; he is addicted to the use of clever gadgets of his own invention. The Centipede shares Burroughs' enthusiasm for orgone accumulators, the cut-up method, and quoting Shakespeare, as well as a certain unfortunate vice they both have in common with Sherlock Holmes.

He's kind of difficult to sum up in a few words. He took a strange path to become a crime fighter, and he does it for reasons that are not entirely clear even to him. In the origin sequence, he is a boy of 16. His friendship with H.P. Lovecraft and a strange encounter with Lizzie Borden make him aware of what he calls a "Dark Power" operating beneath the visible surface of the world. He becomes a crime fighter almost by accident. He is a pretty ruthless individual, and he is not at all deep or introspective. He does what he does joyfully, and sort of revels in the violence. He suffers from absolute self-assurance, which can be a very dangerous thing. I do plan to have his character evolve as the series progresses, and we will see the beginning of this in the second book.

He was originally intended as a marginal character in a comic book I wanted to do some 20 years ago. That never got off the ground, but the Centipede and a few other characters wouldn't quit loitering around in my head. I did a short novel a couple years ago based on that comic book idea, but it didn't turn out to be very good at all. So I decided to do some short stories featuring some of the peripheral characters. The first one of these was a Black Centipede tale called "Wisconsin Death Trip." It's set in 1957 and deals with the Centipede's involvement in the curious case of Ed Gein. It was fun to write, and I have maintained the practice of having several "real life" characters appear in almost all the Centipede stories. The first novel features H.P. Lovecraft, Lizzie Borden, Frank Nitti and William Randolph Hearst. The second book, "Blood of the Centipede," which I just finished, includes Amelia Earhart, Aleister Crowley, Fatty Arbuckle and Bela Lugosi.

In the Centipede's fictional world, he is not only a real-life crime fighter, he is the star of a monthly pulp adventure magazine that presents highly-sanitized accounts of his adventures. This has arisen from a deal he worked out with Hearst. The public perception is that the Black Centipede is a heroic paragon of virtue, while the truth is a little less rosy.

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