Charley Macorn on “Lynda Linda: Unlicensed Detective”

Charley Macorn (they/she) is a nationally touring, award-winning standup comedian, drag performer, and general weirdo. She wrote “Lynda Linda: Unlicensed Detective,” which appeared in the Becoming Anthology, and “Strikeforce Dracula,” which appeared in Oneshi Press Anthology #5. Also known as the Mercurial Icon and the Voice of Her Generation, Charley makes her home in the City of Many Shoulders, Missoula, Montana. We talked to Charley about the mystery genre, diversity in comics, Elvira, and much more!

Tell our readers about yourself, Charley. How and why did you get into writing comics?

I started making comics as a kid. I wasn’t much of an artist then (I’m slightly better now), but I loved putting together my own fantastic world, creating my own characters, and being able to tell my own stories. Then, I started freelance writing in my early twenties, mostly technical writing for board game manuals. I was still a diehard comic fan, following lots of related blogs on Tumblr. One of which was Superdames, which celebrated women characters and creators in comics. The blog became so popular that its founder, the immensely talented D.M. Higgins, started a small imprint, creating new stories for public-domain heroines who hadn’t been touched in decades. I submitted a script for the flagship title, Jill Trent, Science Sleuth. I was blown away when I got the email accepting it. It was an incredible experience, and I learned so much about the process (and, believe me, it is a process) of making comics. I ended up publishing three different scripts for Jill Trent before the company shuttered.

Can you tell us about your inspiration and process for creating Lynda Linda?

Lynda Linda grew out of a horror screenplay I was writing. It was about a young woman on the run from her past who finds a room to rent in a big scary house full of mysteries and terror. The script just wasn’t coming together, however. The pre-Lynda protagonist just wasn’t doing it for me. She was bland. I put the project on the shelf and moved on to other things.

Months later I was having lunch with a playwright friend when the topic of detective fiction came up. Now, I love a good mystery, but my friend isn’t a fan. I was defending the genre, in that very silly way we do when we’re defending our personal tastes, when a little pin pushed itself into my imagination: if I love it so much, maybe I should try my hand at it. 

One of my favorite tropes from the genre is how often the protagonist has some profession other than detective. I’ve read countless books about film archivists, bakers, witches, bakers who are also witches, secret agents who are secretly extra-terrestrials, and writers who keep finding themselves solving mysteries in the captain’s chair. So, I decided to create a detective whose whole deal was she that she specifically knew she wasn’t trained to work in this field. And more than that, she had to keep her whole operation secret.

It was then when my early screenplay and this new idea flooded into each other in my imagination. And this detective is living in the attic of a big spooky house that is also home to a feminist commune with a secret. Lynda’s name came to me in a brainstorming session and I couldn’t stop laughing when I came up with it.  The rest came in the writing process and through my collaboration with (Lynda Linda artist) Phobia Solara.

Is Lynda Linda going to have any more unlicensed detective adventures after this one?

Stay tuned.

Your short comic, “Strikeforce Dracula” with Lucas Peverill was featured in our 5th anthology. How is Lynda Linda different, and what will Strikeforce Dracula fans find to love about this one?

There are zero differences. Lynda Linda is also about a squad of vampire commandos fighting off an alien invasion in a desperate attempt to protect their food source.

Just kidding. Lynda’s story’s a lot less grim than the apocalyptic world of Strikeforce Dracula, but I think fans of Private Gemignani and her team will be delighted to find my same demented sense of humor stitched through both titles.

What’s important to you in a comic, as a reader? As a writer?

I really like comics that exist outside of the superhero monolith. This is a genre that can do so much, and it delights me to see resurgences in humor, mystery, horror, and the romance comics. 

It’s also important that we see titles, characters, and creators that more accurately reflect the beauty and diversity of the world around us.

What’s your all-time favorite comic book?

A friend in college introduced me to the world of 2000 AD and Judge Dredd, and that ended up being a formative moment in my life. I love the way the world and characters could do so many different things. It could be drama, it could be horror, it could be comedy, it could be space opera. In fact, the abovementioned Strikeforce Dracula gets a lot of its DNA (yes, joke intended) from 2000 AD’s Rogue Trooper.

What fictional character do you identify most with, and why?

Elvira. Does Elvira count? She spooky, she’s silly, she’s a little creepy, and she’s got great knockers. Just like me.

Who are your writing heroes, and other creators who inspire you?

I have a longstanding love and appreciation for the Norwegian cartoonist Jason. A true master of the artform. His comics I Killed Adolph Hitler, The Last Musketeer, and Werewolves of Montpelier really stretched my understanding of what a comic book could be.

I also fell deep into Lynda Barry’s philosophy and cartooning practices in college. Anyone with an interest in comic art can gain incredible insights. 

Any new projects you’re working on?

Speaking of Lynda Barry, I recently released a comic zine called Missoula Famous, a semi-autobiographical story about my stupid punk rock 20s. I did all of the art also. The next part is coming, I’m sure, at some point.

Where can readers find you online?

All my social handles are @CharleyMacorn. You can also check me out at charleymacorn.com to learn more about my stage performances, and read my old comic books! Also, please follow Lynda Linda’s artist Phobia Solara @myvariantart

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