Sara “Samm” Barnes interview (April 2006)

April 26, 2006 | Interviews


Sara “Samm” Barnes has a fascinating dual life. She’s not only a television, movie and radio producer, having worked on such films as Cats And Dogs and Mission To Mars and the TV show Jeremiah, she is also a writer for Marvel Comics.
In fact, her mini-series Doctor Spectrum earned Barnes the 2005 Joe Shuster Award for outstanding Canadian comic book writer. She’s up for the 2006 honour, too, for co-authoring last year’s Dr. Strange mini-series with friend and colleague, J. Michael Straczynski.
She is also one of almost two dozen top female creators featured at the Women Of Comics symposium at the 2006 Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon and over a hastily eaten lunch, she spoke with JPK about what it’s like living her dual life.

JPK: What does it feel like to be part of this amazing collective of female creators?
Barnes: Humbling… amazing. I’m as interested as the fans to hear what they have to say. I’m a huge fan of many of the people on the panel.
I’ll be doing a lot of listening, I think.

JPK: What is your impression of the status of women in comic right now?
Barnes: We’re better than we were.
I’m a huge fan of so many male writers, but I’m reading them because they’re good writers. The same is true of women: I’m a fan of women who are great writers, not because they happen to be women
I think we need to encourage more women to read (comic) books —no matter who wrote or drew or created those books.

JPK: You are one of a minority of women working on mainstream comics. Do you feel any added pressure with that?
Barnes: I write what I like. I write from my gut. I hear the story, I watch it in my head and I write it down.

JPK: You have a dual career as a film/TV producer/writer and as a comic book writer. Do you prefer one ahead of the other?
Barnes: Comic books are like candy — they’re like dessert. I love writing for television, I’ve enjoyed working in radio drama, I’m just about to start my first foray into directing and I love producing, but there’s something about comic books that are so fun and free. It’s imagination — you can go absolutely anywhere within a page.

JPK: Anything you’ve got in mind to work on next?
Barnes: I have one small seed of an idea. It’s a strong female character and it’s something that’s been playing in the back of my mind, it’s like a little whisper and I’m starting to listen to it. It’s definitely not Spectrum, it’s not as serious as that.
It’s something quirky and different. I’m ready to write something like that.
I also think we need to write the follow up to Dr. Strange. The six parts were good, we left it at a point where we wanted to launch off and now I think we’re ready to do the next six parts.

JPK: With Straczynski?
Barnes: Yeah, I think we’ll do it together.

JPK: How did you feel when you heard about your second consecutive Joe Shuster Award nomination (for outstanding Canadian comic book writer)?
Barnes: Gobsmacked. I’m speechless. I’m floored.
It’s a really honour and I’m so thrilled.

JPK: Do you think your TV work has been a benefit to your comic book work or vice-versa?
Barnes: My comic book work helps me in so many ways because you are forced to direct, to see it in your head.
It forces you to keep the story condensed. You can’t just go off and rabbit trail for four pages — who’s going to tune in? You really need to focus, to know what the core of your story is and hit those beats. I think I’m much stronger thanks to my comic book work.

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