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PI Jane Interview

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PI Jane. Copyright © Lauren Burke, Antonio Maldonado and Greg Sorkin

Lauren Burke (writer), Antonio Maldonado (artist) and Greg Sorkin (letterer) have all been collaborating on their own webcomic called PI Jane since April of 2010, at least, when the first strip premiered.

Now our very own ReuBen (also sometimes known as RJD, author of various comic book related articles found at the Essential Webcomics Showcase) speaks for a little bit with these esteemed creators about their work on PI Jane, as well as other works, and the process of this work. Enjoy!

Click here to read P.I. Jane.

ReuBen: Alright, then. Welcome Tony and Lauren. I guess the first thing I want to ask is what the premise of PI Jane is, for someone not familiar with it.

Lauren: I always describe it to people as a pop-culture inspired girl-detective series. A modern day Nancy Drew

ReuBen: And would you say Nancy Drew inspired you a great deal on this series?

Lauren: Definitely, I was a big Nancy Drew fan as a kid. I've always been a big fan of mystery/noir. The Thin Man was another favorite when I was young. And then Veronica Mars was a huge influence as well.

ReuBen: Are there any other genres that have a hand in the creation of PI Jane, or is it pretty much just detective/noir?

tmalo: And I have always been a fan of Film Noir, Gumshoe Detectives like Philip Marlowe

Lauren: Definitely comedy. P.I. Jane is a bit quirky, we have loads of pop-culture references and, of course, Pie vs. Cake.

ReuBen: Which one is the victor, though? Pie or Cake?

tmalo: as well as campy 80's shows like Magnum P.I. and Remington steel

Lauren: Definitely Pie, for me anyway! Tony's old enough to remember Remington Steel--OH!

tmalo: Pie, hands down

ReuBen: Love the Magnum show. Fantastic stuff. Would you guys say this is a collaborative effort on creating the stories, or is it more of a Lauren does the stories, and Tony draws them?

Lauren: Oh, it's a collaboration, for sure. And I would be remiss if I left out my writing partner--Greg Sorkin. Greg and I have been working together for years on television pilots, actually, P.I. Jane started as a television pilot.

PI Jane. Copyright © Lauren Burke, Antonio Maldonado and Greg Sorkin

tmalo: Definitely a collaboration.

Lauren: We meet at least once a week, and we talk, we write, we all came up with Pie vs. Cake together.

ReuBen: Excellent. So that leads into my next question. What are the benefits of a webcomic as opposed to any other kind of medium, like television, or print comic books?

Lauren: Well, having a webcomic is a lot like having a weekly television show (on a teeny, tiny scale). You have a weekly audience, you can gauge their reaction to your work. You're able to build your audience over time. Doing P.I. Jane as a webcomic was actually Tony's idea, when we came to him initially, we wanted to do it as a graphic novel.

ReuBen: And you don't have to deal with problems like Actor availability, if such problems exist in the real world (I always imagine they exist).

Lauren: Absolutely! It's really so much more convenient. I'm so much happier that we did it as a webcomic instead of jumping straight into the graphic novel.

ReuBen: What was the deciding factor on making it a webcomic as opposed to a Graphic Novel? Was it the similarity to television that you already had experience with?

Lauren: Well, are you familiar with The Dreamer? It's a webcomic by Lora Innes and now, a graphic novel published by IDW.

ReuBen: I'm afraid I am not familiar with it, but i have heard of many webcomics that later go into print after existing on the web for some time.

Lauren: Lora was really smart in the way she went about getting her book published, she put up a couple pages weekly, gained a following, and then when she went to IDW with her stats and completed work, they jumped on it. So, that was the plan for us too. And honestly, when we started writing P.I. Jane, we were new to comics. So, this has given us a great opportunity to learn and grow as a team.

ReuBen: And would you say what Lora did is still the plan for you guys?

Lauren: Yes, we do have a plan to start releasing the pages for the P.I. Jane graphic novel in 2012, and our hope is to get them collected by a publisher. So, be warned guys, P.I. Jane will be quite different in 2012! I guess we're breaking that story here, lol.

tmalo: I think We'll still continue to take full advantage of the immediacy of doing a webcomic, but would like to eventually start doing books for print.

ReuBen: On a somewhat different note, you said that you and Greg had collaborated on television for some time. How did you guys meet Tony?

tmalo: Through Our mutual friendship with Terry Gant, who owns Third Coast Comics

ReuBen: And, Tony, if doing it as a webcomic instead of a television pilot was your idea, I suppose I should ask if you've worked in comics much before PI Jane?

Lauren: If anyone out there is looking to start up a webcomic, I highly recommend they go to their local comic book shop to make connections.

tmalo: I've worked on a couple of webcomics before PI Jane. I did Chicago 1968 with Len Kody for Shadowline's webcomics. And I did Labbratz with Ed Dunphy

ReuBen: Would you say the experience on those strips helped you with PI Jane?

tmalo: I think so.

Lauren: Tony has some experience with Moonstone publishing, Nickelodeon, The Cartoon Network

tmalo: Each of those other webcomics required different storytelling techniques. And that forced Me as a storyteller to up the ante in My work.

ReuBen: Even though you are doing PI Jane as a webcomic, is it necessarily your favorite medium to work in?

tmalo: To completely honest, I just Love telling stories

Lauren: I honestly don't know if I have a favorite, that's a good question.

tmalo: Doesn't matter what the medium is, as long as the story is Good. And PI Jane is Great!

Lauren: Recently, Greg and I have been doing some work with a film production company, and I will say that I definitely prefer working in comics than film.

PI Jane. Copyright © Lauren Burke, Antonio Maldonado and Greg Sorkin

ReuBen: Yeah, each medium offers different possibilities. I am glad to hear that the story is the priority for you, Tony. It warms my heart to know that creators still think that is important (I am something of a cynic on these things)

tmalo: Well, there's a lot of reasons to be a cynic. But it's easy to avoid becoming one, when You work with Good, Talented Folks like Lauren and Greg,

Lauren: Yeah, a good story is a good story no matter where you find it. I try convincing my non-comic reading friends this all the time.

ReuBen: Since you both have done work in television and movies, do either of you think, sometime in the near or far future, that PI Jane might grace the screens, even though she's already in the comics?

Lauren: Well...I might have to plead the fifth on that one. It's possible!

tmalo: Man, I Hope so!

ReuBen: I'd say if you guys have the connections, you might be closer to that than others. But of course I’m sure it's not easy getting something like this into the films while retaining creative control.

Lauren: The process is loooong, slow, and painful. I'll tell you that much. But honestly, I'd just be happy to see it find the right publisher.

Greg: Hi all!

 Lauren: And Greg Sorkin is here! Writing partner and Letterer extradoinaire!

tmalo: And, He brought Pie!

Greg: well, at least letterer ordinaire

tmalo: ;OD} ~ nom-nom-nom!

Lauren: He did indeed, sorry we can't share it with you, ReuBen.

ReuBen: Welcome, Greg! Would any of you guys say that PI Jane has influences outside of detective stories and comedy? For instance, music?

ReuBen: I'm enjoying the Pie in spirit.Smile

Greg: Of course. We're all kinda pop culture sponges. I love references in stuff. It grounds it in a little reality, as long as it's not overused. It helps that we like a lot of the same stuff while covering a lot of ground, so music has seeped it's way in. we've parodied Elton john in titles and I’ve even thrown in a couple alkaline trio refs. but tv, film, stand-up, video games, comics-- it's all fair game.

ReuBen: I'd say that having music, movies, tv and comics influence you guys also helps things not to ever get boring, as it might if you were just working off of a love of music, or something.

Greg: right. and it's totally not to ape joss Whedon, JJ Abrams, Bryan Fuller, Jane Espenson and others. nope, nosiree

ReuBen: Hey, if it works, it works. If those guys are doing it, that just means it works. Some storytellers and creators say their character they thought they knew going in took on a life of its own, and after a span of years, was an entirely different character than before. Has this happened with any of your characters yet? For any of you guys?

tmalo: Sure! If it's Good, it influences. If it's not, it's cannon fodder.

Greg: we like to break stories as we go, so it's possible that we lead Jane, but it's equally possible that Jane leads us to the story/case. And not just Jane, but Heather, Chad-- any of them we like to write for. even pastries.

Lauren: Definitely, Jane is a lot less emo than she was originally written, lol. But Heather is the one that jumps out to me the most. She was really supposed to be a one-off. We wrote her in for a friend, as the annoying secretary, and then I started to warm up to her.

ReuBen: And, Greg, I think it's only fair I ask...Pie or Cake?

Greg: and heather's fun to write for, because she just runs on. it doesn't matter if you overwrite her b/c you can't

tmalo: And Heather is the only one in the series to go through the most wardrobe changes.

Greg: while I'll eat either, i prefer pies. but I’m not a fruit pie person, cream pies. I brought a chocolate cream today. but Baker's square has this 'celebration' pie that's like a pie MADE of cake. it's madness!

ReuBen: It's like the two warring pastry dishes got together and mated. That IS madness

Greg: it's a pie/cake Thunderdome and they found a loophole

Lauren: That just might happen in a strip!

ReuBen: Ah, yes. I can't say I was expecting a Mad Max reference (I do hope that's what It was and I'm not gonna look like an idiot) but that kind of reference IS welcome. You mentioned that you guys sometimes lead the stories, and sometimes they lead you. How far in advance would you guys say you plan your strips?

Lauren: Yes, you are right on target there. We're always around 6 weeks ahead in the writing process.

PI Jane. Copyright © Lauren Burke, Antonio Maldonado and Greg Sorkin

Greg: we write in chunks. We’ll do like 6-10 at a stretch, which is usually an arc, sometimes with a short transition arc-let

Lauren: But, I do write mad outlines. I'm a planner. So, I usually know what's going to happen for the next three months.

Greg: and then while tony draws them up, we'll work on other projects until we're low on scripts again

Lauren: We're in a "other project" phase right now.

ReuBen: That sounds very efficient. A good way to get a lot of work in a short amount of time. Other than PI Jane, have you guys ever considered working on something else together, or does this take up most of your time as creators?

Lauren: Oh yeah, we have a lot going on at the moment actually. Oddly enough, we were just sitting here talking about it. We have a project called I See Monsters, which giving Tony the chance to draw action, which he excels at. We're also working on some pieces for various anthologies. I'm working on a story for Womanthology, which blew up on Kickstarter this week.

Greg: and monsters. and cartoony/kid-friendly violence

tmalo: I do Love drawing that kind of stuff. I was raised on a healthy dose of Saturday Morning Cartoons back in the 80's. And, that all works its way into My work.

Lauren: And we have a more mature book in the works right now. We're trying to hit all bases--something for the kids, something for the young adult audience, something for adults.

Greg: we have creative adhd. There’s always something else we can be working on. now when we have the time, we're doing what we can to stockpile a diverse portfolio

 tmalo: I think readers will be surprised at just how diverse this team can be.

ReuBen: Diversity can be a fantastic thing that is certainly lacking in the field of comics, I sometimes feel. Perhaps the medium most lacking in it. As for the Saturday cartoons diet, there are worse things to grow up on, i would say.

Lauren: It's good to experiment. It keeps things fresh. I prefer bouncing back and forth between different projects.

ReuBen: And working on so many stories, is it easy to say "this kind of story is not right for PI Jane, but it could be great for Womanthology"?

Lauren: Yes, absolutely. For instance, I have been dying to write a superhero story for...well, forever. And finally I have the right place for it.

ReuBen: And are all of these other stories, I See Monsters, Womanthology, are they all going to be webcomics as well?

Lauren: But what is nice about the world of P.I. Jane is that there is a lot of room for experimentation. Shas has a rich, inner fantasy world that you can play with. So, we can get away with a Mission Impossible-esque storyline.

Greg: the mature/adult one will be a three issue, three act story, 65-80 pages i'd guess. But mature/adult makes it seems like it's dirtier than it really is. I just mean it's R-rated (language and adult situations)

Lauren: Womanthology is actually a book put together by artists Renae De Liz, it pairs up various women writers and artists working or aspiring to work in the industry. We have people like me, who don't have that much experience, and then people like Gail Simone, Devin Grayson, and a bunch of webcomickers. I See Monsters may be a webcomic, we're still waiting to see where it's going to land.

ReuBen: And I can only imagine the answer to this, but how does it feel to be working on the same thing as Grayson and Simone?

 Greg: we've talked about a few possibilities for ISM

Lauren: I am unbelievably excited about it. I just can't believe the amount of talent that is in this book, it's really going to be something special. For my story in the book, I'll be working with Meg Brennan, who has a webcomic that you can check out here:

ReuBen: If you are a fan of them, and I can't imagine anyone not being a fan, then that does indeed sound quite spectacular. I don't believe I have any more questions. Do either of you guys have any final thoughts before the interview comes to a close?

PI Jane. Copyright © Lauren Burke, Antonio Maldonado and Greg Sorkin

Greg: Just some plugs, I think.

Lauren: Well, we have a second printing of our P.I. Jane - Missions Totally Do-able coming out next month, which we'll be selling at cons.

Greg: check out our websites: (new strips mondays); (Lauren and my writing portfolio site); (Tony's art blog/sketchblog)

 Lauren: The book has a bunch of extras that you can't get online, it's good fun.

Greg: it's also available digitally at via Drive Thru Comics and's many platforms, if you've got a fancy tablet

ReuBen: Those sound like fantastic things for fans and new fans alike to check out. In that case, thank you for your time and answers, Lauren, Greg and Tony!

Greg: one last question-- which do YOU prefer: pie or cake?

ReuBen: Oh, I’m going to go with Pie as well, but I must say I actually AM a fan of the fruit pies, such as blueberry, cherry and apple.

Greg: that's fair. different strokes, etc. Thanks for chatting with us! Keep up the good work!

 tmalo: Yeah, Thanks ReuBen.

Click here to read P.I. Jane.

Dip your toe into the world of Jane Day. Follow Jane and her frenemy Heather as they go undercover for the world's biggest pop star (Amber Valentine) to snoop on the worlds biggest rock star (Kane Truman) — Amber's fiancée.

If you liked this comic, you might want to check out P.I. Jane - Missions: Totally Do-able, available in digital version at DriveThruComics and tradepaperback format at IndyPlanet

View P.I. Jane in Comic Gallery Format

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 29 October 2011 14:45 )  
Author Profile: RJD

RJD has written fan letters, reviews, and examinations of various qualities, mostly on the Tavern.


0 #2 Amran 2011-07-14 03:14
Wonderful interview. The FCBD version of the comic doesn't do it justice. The actual pages from the official PI Jane website is in colour. I hope you find a publisher soon. :-)
+1 #1 Gladiator 2011-07-11 07:57
I had just read the comic. A wonderful read. I do hope this book gets properly published.

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