Captain Jack and the Selkie
My friends, here is a very special non-TV Party piece, just for you (and just because, well, I can. )
As many of you may be aware, John Barrowman - Captain Jack himself - co-wrote "Return of the Selkie" for the Torchwood comic magazine. (That particular issue will be released in the UK/Ireland on February 19th, and in the US on March 19th) The story, titled, 'Captain Jack and the Selkie', sees Captain Jack facing a deadly threat on a remote Scottish island, where people are disappearing one by one... To his horror, Jack starts to suspect he may know who - or perhaps more specifically what - is responsible...and integrates John's Scottish background as part of the story.
Fortunately, I had to opportunity to ask his co-writer/co-conspirator/big sister Carole Barrowman some questions about the story, Torchwood, as well as her brother John, who is a notorious recluse who shuns attention. The comic story features the When she's not writing, Ms. Barrowman is a Professor of English at Alverno College in Milwaukee, WI, where she teaches a course in 'The Future in Film and Fiction.' (My good friend John - another John, not John Barrowman - teaches math at the University of Milwaukee. She is a regular reviewer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, and makes regular appearances on a regional NBC morning show. I am grateful that Ms. Barrowman took the time to answer my questions, and I present them to you unedited.
What were the challenges in co-writing a Torchwood story not just with the lead actor....but with your brother? Did any sibling rivalries emerge?
John and I play well together. We always have - except maybe when he takes us off on a tangent that means a task takes twice as long because we're suddenly in stitches about something or we have to call my mum to mediate a debate about the correct spelling of a word in Scottish slang. Despite being his "big sister' and, therefore, having a natural right to the upper hand in the relationship (all "big sisters' know what I'm talking about), John does have unique access to Jack's psyche so whenever we'd have a question or issue about character development, John had the final say.
Did writing the story whet your appetite for doing more Torchwood stories, either comic or prose?
Most definitely. I love Captain Jack. He's a complicated character and I'd love to explore some of the aspects of his being that we don't always get to see fully on Torchwood.
Having immersed yourself in the world of Torchwood, has it changed your perception of the show? Are you able to watch it and enjoy it, knowing your brother is playing the lead character?
John will always first and foremost be my "wee brother' so I have to admit that it does take me some time to watch him in a part and not see John first. But I think it's a tribute to Torchwood's writing, and, of course, to John's acting that after one or two episodes of Torchwood Season One I was watching Captain Jack and not seeing John anymore. It doesn't matter that I've spent a lot of time on the set (for season two and season three), when I sit down to watch the show on BBC AMERICA I'm still thoroughly engaged. I have to say, though, this distinction is toughest for my daughter, Clare, to make. She and John are very close and she was a basket case for hours after each of the final episodes of season two of Torchwood because Jack was crying so her Uncle John was crying and so she was crying. Man, she was a mess.
I was interested to read that when you and John were younger, you lived in Joliet IL. Being an Illinois native myself (grew up in Chicago), let me just ask - what brought your family to Joliet? And how would you describe your experiences?
Our dad was an executive with Caterpillar Tractor Co. in Scotland. In 1976, he accepted a transfer to the Caterpillar plant in Aurora, Il, and then we later moved to Joliet, Il. The experience of moving was harder on my other brother, Andrew, and I, in part, because we were teenagers and had to leave our friends. John was almost nine when we moved from Scotland and so for him it was a great adventure. One of the most fun aspects of working together on Anything Goes was revisiting those early days in the US.
I know in British culture, DOCTOR WHO has always been significant during the classic run. Did you and/or John watch it? And how do you feel about its return/revival?
John and I have always been huge DOCTOR WHO fans. I'm older so I remember watching the second and third doctors on classic WHO when it first ran on the BBC in the late sixties and into the early seventies before we moved to the US. (FYI my favorite classic doctor is Jon Pertwee. Fave assistants? Sarah Jane and later, Tegan). John is younger so he really experienced WHO for the first time when classic WHO ran on WTTW in Chicago on Sunday nights. Everyone knows John's a lousy speller because he'd stay up late and watch "the doctor' instead of studying for Monday morning spelling tests at school.
Having seen the art for "Return on the Selkie", how do you feel about the story?
The art is stunning. Absolutely amazing stuff. To see our story take life in that way... well we are both still in awe of Tommy Lee and Trevor's work. Even when I first saw the pencil sketches, I was blown away. There's so much texture and layers of detail in every panel, and each image paces the story so well that when you get to the climax, oh, my, it's breathtaking. I think fans are going to love seeing Captain Jack in this way.
Any further plans for writing with John?
You can count on it. We're having way too much fun to stop.
(One brief note - I find it incredibly interesting that not only were John Barrowman and I growing up within 50 miles of each other...but that we both engaged in the regular Sunday night Doctor Who watching ritual. I remember doing my homework with Who in the background. Whether this had any influence on my grade point level in high school....I have no idea. Thanks again to Carole Barrowman for her time).
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