Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing Call Clayface a Mudslide
We offer a sneak peek at an upcoming Creator Corner conversation with the only couple that matters in comics.
Welcome to a Creator Corner Preview, a sneak peak of our podcast conversation with writers Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, talking about their DC Comics one-shot Clayface: One Bad Day. Keep your eye on Our Podcast Feed for when the full audio will drop.
Writing partners Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing put everything they know about the L.A. scene into their new one-shot, Clayface: One Bad Day. They know the pains Basil Karlo has gone through. No, not the rogues gallery gauntlet, facing Batman and failing to achieve victory over the caped crusader time after time after time. Kelly and Lanzing understand Karlo's other gig, the actor's torment and the Hollywood dilemma.
Each chapter in DC Comics' recent One Bad Day series has focused on a particular Batman villain. We've already read banger stories devoted to The Riddler, Bane, and Catwoman. The Bat-icons, right? While Clayface is not often uttered in the same breath as the top-tier violent talent that plagues Gotham, he's easily the most visually striking and when he gets his shot at the title, his bouts are always memorable.
Clayface: One Bad Day removes Basil Karlo from Gotham, returning him to LaLa Land, where he is once again trying to make it as a performer. On the side, he's hustling as a waiter, collecting friends from his fellow wannabes, building resentment when they nab the parts that should have gone to him. Of course, no one understands these fictional characters and stories as much as him, right? Not the directors, and definitely not the producers. His artistic integrity will get the best of him and ultimately unleash the mudslide we all know and love.
We were giddy to chat with Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing about Clayface: One Bad Day. As much as we've loved the other entries in this DC Comics series, their contribution struck a personal nerve. Our conversation with the creators will be made available through the podcast shortly before the issue sees release on February 21st, but we had such a good time with the writers that we wanted to offer you a small tease here.
Jackson: We need couples counseling, so this is great for us.
Collin: When we saw you on the docket, we were so excited to chat because as far as we're concerned, we are the only couple in comics.
Jackson: Only one.
Lisa: Within 44 pages, you made Clayface the most relatable to me Batman villain. because I go, "What am I willing to kill for? Revenge? No, thank you. Money? Don't need it, I'm good. Artistic integrity? Okay, I'm listening."
Collin: Yes (Laughter)
Lisa: I think that genuineness comes through in the story, particularly in the kind of building of his little cadre of friends. When you're doing something artistic, having friends can feel almost like conspiratorial.
Collin: Oh, yeah.
Lisa: We have to stick together to make it work. We have trust each other.
Brad: But also, you're my enemy!
Lisa: Exactly. What elements of the story were you like, this is essential to tell this Hollywood tragedy?
Jackson: So first off, we knew we needed the idea of him starting at the bottom rung because that's where everyone starts. And if you're going to start there, you got to start there. The idea of "I have this high ability, I'm one of Batman's 12 best super villains, but I don't want to be a super villain. I want to be an actor, so I'm going to go be an artist." So it felt like that was really crucial. We've a really good friend, an actor named Dylan Duvall, who has been a really close friend of ours for many, many years, literally our entire twenties. And Dylan had worked at the Chateau Marmont as a waiter for a very long time, and we were one of his friends. We were one of that conspiracy of people where we would all hang out.
We would be like, "Oh, we went on a terrible pitch." And he was like, "Oh, I went on a terrible audition." And then we all talked about our day jobs and about how we were all going to escape them someday and how we all went about that. And so that relatability, that aspect of it was like, "Well, we know when you're starting from the baseline, that's where you start." You start from a level of working for all the people you want to be and living with the only people who are able to understand that. The other people who are withstanding that kind of low key abuse cycle that's just happening all the time. So we knew we wanted that.
Collin: It's so important, those friends, because you need them to gas you up. The town is too hard to be alone. It's one of the reasons Jack and I work together, because going alone is hard and scary, but it can also be an echo chamber if you're just with the same little people. It's you guys against the world, of course you're going to gas each other up, and of course you're going to start spiraling. And ideally in the best case scenario, you all lift each other up together. In our human lives, that's kind of what Jack and I have done. We've developed a network of people, found family, so that we can all survive here in L.A. because it's so incredibly isolating unless you actively make a community. So we knew that the seed of that community was incredibly important to plant, even though this is Clayface's one bad day.
Jackson: And that's the turn, ultimately the second half of that question, what did we need to really nail the idea of how you go about Hollywood is - yes, you have your community and yes, you have your people and then you have a choice to make. Inevitably, you always end up with this choice. And you don't want to end up with this choice. It just happens. Do I screw over my friend to get success? This is a thing that, and it's because maybe you guys go up for the same job, maybe you're on the same job, maybe your friend got the job that you wanted, and you're just dealing with the jealousy of that inside yourself and trying to figure out how you accept that side of things. Those worst aspects of you, you don't need to act on them. You don't need to be those worst aspects of yourself.
In general I know I try not to be that person. I know Collin tries not to be that person. I know that we try to help each other not be that person, because Hollywood will encourage backstabbing, and you really try not to be that. We knew that Clayface was going to lose that battle every time. Cause at the core of Basil is not a need for community, but a need for recognition and most of all, a need for identity, a need for other people to look at him and say, wow, you are such a great artist. Even though at the core of it, it's unclear whether or not Basil is a great artist. And I'm not sure he's done the self interrogation to understand whether or not he has anything to actually say. But he knows in his heart that he has something to say. That's like his baseline and he will kill to get there.
And so that idea of saying, "Hey man, we're going to build you this community. We're going to show what it could be like for you if you could just put down your toxicity." Then we're going to watch as this toxicity completely ruins you the minute one of your friends gets success. And turning that into a story about the worst impulses that we ourselves have. Doing a very personal horror story that's like, "What if instead of doing the hard work of trying to be good people, we didn't do any of that and acted on our instincts." Well then you're going to end up with some really bad actions and some really horrible stories. And that's like, boom, there you go. That's a horror story. Collin likens it to a mudslide. I think that idea of watching the mudslide come towards you is the horror for us.
Collin: That's what's scary. And with Basil all he wants to do is be seen, and yet he refuses to wear his real face.
Clayface: One Bad Day hits comic shelves on February 21st.