Over 40 years have passed since the original events of H.G. Wells’ “The Island of Doctor Moreau”, but his legacy lives on in David Walker’s THE ARMY OF DR. MOREAU. IDW Publishing’s Jason Wages shares an EXCLUSIVE in-depth interview.
What inspired you to choose the works of HG Wells to draw inspiration from? Did you find inspiration with other outside stories too?
I read a bunch of HG Wells when I was a kid, but there was something about The Island of Dr. Moreau that always stuck with me. I also loved Abbott and Costello movies, especially the monster ones, like Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. I always wished they had made Abbott and Costello on the Island of Dr. Moreau, and it was one of those ideas that got stuck in my head. The Army of Dr. Moreau actually started with that ridiculous idea I had as a kid, although it obviously went through a major transformation.
Taking a peaceful stance or resorting to violent resistance are at the crux of the conflicting challenges found on the island. Your thoughts on how this translates into the modern world?
We see this conflict every day. Right now, somewhere in the world, peaceful resistance is being met with violent opposition. In Wells’s original book, the beast-folk live by the Laws of Man, which are really in place to keep them from being violent. I thought it would be interesting to play with the idea that there were these beings that had been raised to be pacifists, but were facing extinction because they refused to be violent. I wanted to explore that ambiguous area between violence as an act of self-preservation and violence as an aggressive act of domination.
The original “The Island of Doctor Moreau” was written just before the turn of the 20th century, over forty years before your own story’s setting. What made World War II in particular the choice to make this take place in?
I wanted to play with this idea that Wells had based The Island of Dr. Moreau on a true story, and the narrator of the book was a real person, who could one of the heroes of my story. This meant I had to keep it within a certain timeframe, and the beginning of World War II fit. Of course, this meant I could have Nazis as the bad guys, and they really do make for the perfect villains.
If there’s one lesson you would like readers to take away from this tale, what would it be?
The Army of Dr. Moreau is an examination of morality. There is a flashback sequence where the Moreau character says that morality is the gift of God to humans. But I wanted to play with the idea that morality comes from a place of intellect, and that as these monstrous creatures become more intelligent, the more they develop a moral compass—a sense of right and wrong.
Last question: with all the possible hybrids in the animal kingdom at your fingertips, which would you choose to be if you could?
I’d like to be something ridiculous, like a skunk. There’s something appealing about the ability to leave a foul odor wherever you go, and it’s just accepted that it’s part of who you are.
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