Interview: Jamie Lee Curtis Reveals The True Nature of 'Mother Nature'
Mar 07, 2023
Interview by Nicki Faust
Mother Nature is the debut graphic novel by Hollywood legend Jamie Lee Curtis and filmmaker Russell Goldman, adapted from their original film script, with art by Karl Stevens. On sale June 2023, this eco-horror story follows Nova Terrell in her campaign against the oil company, Cobalt Corporation, and the terrifying discovery that could destroy her entire town.
We interviewed writers Jamie Lee Curtis and Russell Goldman on their upcoming graphic novel and how the threat of climate change prompted its creation.
Mother Nature is a graphic novel adapted from a film script. What was the artistic process behind adapting a film script into sequential art form?
JLC: I would never be able to draw a graphic novel as EVERYTHING I draw looks like stick figures. It was actually Karl Stevens’s idea to turn it into a graphic novel. I collect original New Yorker cartoons and I gifted my husband a really wonderful Karl Stevens cartoon. We then began a correspondence and I mentioned in one of our communications that I had conceived and cowritten a script that was an eco-horror film, MOTHER NATURE and he wanted to read it, and after reading it, he suggested that we consider turning it into a graphic novel.
RG: We gave Karl a draft of our script, where he then meticulously adapted the images we had described on paper into hundreds of panels, each of which he would give his signature human, natural, watercolor touch. We edited dialogue and story details for clarity as Karl drew, yet as soon as Jamie and I read his drawings of the opening of the film, we knew we were in the hands of a master.
At the center of Mother Nature is the real fight by indigenous communities across the United States against climate change. What drove you to making their story part of your narrative, and what research did you do in preparation for the script?
JLC: Russell handled so much of the communication with our indigenous advisers. I always knew there was an Indigenous / Native American center point when I first thought of the idea when I was 19 years old but Russell expanded that and along with our indigenous advisers created the correct mythology. It was crucial we get that right.
RG: Mother Nature is a story specific to the Four Corners (southwest Colorado, southeast Utah, northeast Arizona, northwest New Mexico). It’s an amazing part of the world where every major source of energy has been mined, and where the climate and resource crises are acutely felt. Jamie, Karl and I do not live in the Four Corners, so it was our imperative to spend the last five years researching on the ground and speaking to everyone we could, from scientists employed by energy corporations, to environmental groups, and most importantly to indigenous voices. This is an ensemble story with Navajo characters at its front and center. We were lucky to have the chance to collaborate with Navajo artists like Brian Lee Young and Jerry Watchman who helped us tell this story the right way.
Where do you think the horror of Mother Nature lies- the human causality behind climate change or the ecological violence that emerges from it?
JLC: I think it’s all very scary. Human casualties tug at our heartstrings but the bigger, global, climate challenges tug at our morality. They are not mutually exclusive. It’s dangerous. This is a dangerous time.
RG: The devastating effects we see of climate change today were caused by our impact on the environment over a decade ago. The true horror to me is what the effects of our impact on the environment today will feel a generation from now.
What part does art have in the fight against climate change?
JLC: Art has been leading from the beginning of civilization. Art is the great translator, the great equalizer.
RG: Art will never combat this existential crisis (do oil magnates even like art?), but it can help us process the incomprehensible weight of climate change on a more intimate scale. Our story starts decades ago, in the world of energy extraction that was left behind for my parents’ generation. The rest of the tale follows how the characters in this generation (Kai, Nancy, Cynthia) either change that course or maintain the status quo for their own children. What does it actually feel like to live around the extraction of resources the Mother Nature Project in our story is emulating? What’s the world we’re leaving behind for my generation, and my childrens’ generation? Mother Nature is designed as a fun genre ride above all else, but every detail of the story is in conversation with these ideas. Art is a machine for empathy; even climate change stories have to be intimate, emotional experiences.
Mother Nature (JAN231073) is available to pre-order now from your local comic shop. On sale June 2023. Reserve your copy with PREVIEWSworld Pullbox.
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After witnessing her father die in mysterious circumstances on one of the Cobalt Corporation's experimental oil extraction projects, Nova Terrell has grown up to despise the seemingly benevolent company relied upon by the town of Catch Creek, New Mexico.
The rebellious Nova wages a campaign of sabotage against the oil giant, until one night she accidentally makes a terrifying discovery about the true nature of the "Mother Nature" project and a threat that could destroy the entire town.
Nicki Faust's heart is as cold as concrete in the Chicago winter. When not writing for PREVIEWSworld, Nicki is busy playing Limbo on Twitch, writing about the great robot uprising on Medium, and completing the untitled follow-up to the 2012 best-seller, Sue Storm: A Nude Photobook.