‘Trillium’: Jeff Lemire On His Latest Comics Miniseries

Jeff Lemire is no stranger here; his work on DC’s mainstream books, such as Animal Man, is something we regularly harangue you about reading every few Wednesdays. But Lemire is also an accomplished writer/artist at Vertigo, having just finished Sweet Tooth. His new miniseries, Trillium, is a love story crossing ’20s British exploration adventure with a future where humanity is on the verge of being wiped out by a sentient virus. Lemire took a few minutes to talk with us about Trillium, working as both artist and writer, and discussing the book’s unique flip style and layouts.

Gamma Squad: Where did the concept for this story start?

Jeff Lemire: I’d always wanted to do SF. I grew up reading it, love it, but I hadn’t really had a chance to do anything in that genre in comics yet. When I was drawing Sweet Tooth, it was SF but very much grounded in our world. Trillium was my chance to draw planets and aliens and spaceships and all that fun stuff. That was really appealing to me, to build that world from scratch and populate it. I’d pitched a couple of things to Vertigo after Sweet Tooth that didn’t really go anywhere, and my editor challenged me to do something a little different. I decided that doing a love story that not a lot of comics people try to do. Combining the desire to do a really affecting personal love story and putting it against an SF backdrop seemed fun. (laughs) Something challenging.

Gamma Squad: One of these stories is epic and one of them is very personal. What drove that decision?

Lemire: I feel like William’s story is more personal, obviously scarred by World War I. I liked the idea of having these stories juxtapose; we see the end of time and the last gasp of humanity. And in the other story, it’s the great era of British exploration. The world seemed wide open and new. I thought there was an interesting juxtaposition there.

Gamma Squad: What made you choose the end of humanity as the stakes in this story? You don’t get bigger than that, really!

Lemire: Well, that’s the whole thing. I wanted my characters to do something pretty intense. So you go as far as you can with that. The best love stories to me are the ones with a tragedy mixed in, and you don’t get more tragic than finally falling in love as the universe is ending. It seemed like a dramatic and huge backdrop to pull out a lot of emotion.

Gamma Squad: As an artist, is there a shift between working in a historic era and going to the far-flung future? Does one take more work than the other?