When Three Little Wishes Isn’t Enough. An Interview with Paul Cornell and Steve Yeowell.

In Three Little Wishes, it’s about the king of all fairies being unable to stop the wishes from working, because they’re so precise. 

Paul Cornell, Author of Three LIttle WishesLegendary Comics

Three Little Wishes is a hilarious graphic novel which subverts the traditional idea of about fulfilling one’s grandest desires. Sometimes, the person finding magic in the bottle doesn’t want that, and in what he or she wants may well be something nicer. I don’t want to say too much, but as for what caught my attention is that we don’t get a tale out of Arabian Knights, and the creators Paul Cornell and Steve Yeowell crafted a beautiful tale that I often don’t see in this subgenre.

It’s a very British work, and the nuances that come with it was enough for me!

Can you please introduce yourselves? That is, what was that break that got you into working in the comics industry?

Paul Cornell (Pictured left): Both times it was through Doctor Who–I got into writing British comics because I knew the editor of Doctor Who Magazine and I said I wanted to write. John Freeman gave me a strip and taught me the basics, And many years later, after he saw my work, Mark Miller emailed me asking if I would like to write for Marvel Comics. It’s a career route that any young creator can easily follow. I recommend it to anybody.

Steve Yeowell (Pictured Right): My first professional job was working with Grant Morrison on a Japanese toy tie in, Zoids, for Marvel UK. And from there, I went to 2008 A.D. From then on, it was with various American projects–Skrull Kill Krew, Starman, The Invisibles. I worked with lots of American writers. I’ve even worked with Miller a couple of times, and James Robinson. My latest is with Paul on Three Little Wishes, a rom com graphic novel.

Steve Yeowell

One thing I’ve always wondered about–what’s the difference between British comics and American comics?

PC: There aren’t many of them left now, but most of them were anthology titles. So you’re dealing with short strips. And it gives you great discipline. With 2000 AD, you have to be in and out in five pages. What would you say, Steve?

SY: I think it’s a difference in dynamic because of the format. It means the story is much more concise. You have to get to the point quickly.

With Three Little Wishes, how did the idea come about?

PC: Well, the idea came about because I was sitting with my agent one day, and her husband is a contract lawyer. And I had in my head an idea for a book about granting wishes. I thought who would be the worst possible person for a fairy, interested in tricking humans with the fine detail of wishes, to encounter? A contract lawyer!

Why did you choose to use a fairy instead of a traditional djinn from Arabian Nights?

PC: Because I’m a white dude. And I feel that genies shouldn’t be written by people who don’t know their stuff. I think we’re a bit past the panto Genie now; I’d like to hear from somebody who can tell me about a real djinn. And that’s not me.

And also I wanted something that’s on a completely flippant level that doesn’t require me to engage with an enormously meaningful and significant culture that is not my own. I just wanted a fairy that grants wishes. Hence, Oberon, the very English fellow.

Three Little Wishes | Legendary

How well versed are you with fairy lore? And how much of it did you feel was important for this?

PC: I’m a student of British mysticism. But this isn’t that this isn’t quite what this is about. There’s a lot of proper historicity here. We see Oberon through several decades, through the ages in the past, and how the human world has changed around him. And yeah, I didn’t really have to draw on my fairy lore, he’s just a fairy who grants wishes.

Plus, we perhaps also see the source of the legend, the human woman whom Oberon loved.

SY: I didn’t draw on any fairy lore, either. So we have to be careful about the image of Oberon with the butterfly wings, though, because Legendary didn’t want him wanting to resemble any other versions that may have appeared in computer games, or whatever. So we were very careful. It was very deliberately made to look different from everyone else.

Rather than giving him a pair of butterfly wings, It was a case of giving him three butterfly wings per side, if you see what I mean. So it’s kind of a butterfly Dragonfly crossover.

Can we have a summary of what Three Little Wishes is about?

PC: I think our work shows for the first time somebody successfully used a wish to change the world. Normally it’s about the fun of wishes going wrong. And this time it involves the king of all fairies being unable to stop the wishes from working, because they’re so precise.

Our heroine, Kelly Castleton, is always about the details and always sweating the small stuff. When she finds a bottle with Oberon and frees him, he grants her three wishes. But because he’s a fairy who likes to trick stupid humans by giving them exactly what they wish for, she’s not going to fall for that. Instead of saying what she wants, she writes a very detailed paper, and he ends up basically causing world peace. This annoys many people, and they want to go after her!

There are lots of character journeys here. It’s a proper graphic novel, one big story, and a fantasy rom com. That’s because in her life there is also an ex whom she still loves–who really could do with a wish. I haven’t ever written a full length work before. It’s terribly satisfying, and Steve Yeowell’s art is great.

There’s also another in the book (Pigeonly), who used to be a professional assassin. But Kelly has changed the world so that no act of violence is possible. He has a career crisis. Because he doesn’t know what to do with himself, he tries to assassinate her. Although he tries to set up a series of accidents, he can’t do that either. There’s a whole story arc where he basically gets very lost. Steven draws him so well; he’s a lanky goth.

SY: The nature of the project demanded an awful lot of character acting, which I haven’t had the opportunity to pursue as much previously. It was very satisfying for me to take on, [to sketch all those expressions, you see]. It was helped along, of course, by Pippa Bowland‘s fabulous colouring, and her husband Simon’s expert lettering.

PC: Our first work together was for the comedy horror anthology, Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror. And I realised that he’s excellent at character comedy. He’s superb at facial expressions–and when Legendary Comics came along and offered me a contract, I knew I’d got the guy; it was a great pleasure to be able to bring this team together. That really was the team I wanted.

Are there any plans for an ongoing story?

PC: It’d be nice to see some of Pigeonly’s career pre-Three Little Wishes, to see him as the world’s most successful assassin.

SY: Yeah, I think if there’s anyone that would be great for it is him. It wouldn’t be a sequel or a prequel, maybe not. It’d be delightful to see some of his career pre-three wishes… Furthermore, it’s kind of hard to not imagine this.

PC: Indeed, I’ve pitched to Legendary another rom com. But one of the delights for me is that we are absolutely finished with our story.

Three Little Wishes Cover

What if some producer saw a potential in a live action film?

PC: I would love to see a movie. I mean, honestly, we made this comic with Legendary–it means we are right there. This idea is very much on my agenda. I would love to see it.

We very carefully mixed different actors and characters we knew [in our outline.] It’s awkward to speculate on whom we might want–but there are surely some quite rotund British comedy actors that would be into this. I can see Noel Fielding play Pigeonly (from the Great British Bake Off)

SY: We’re open to suggestions as to who could play Kelly.

PC: Yeah. And one of the pleasant things about it is that Steve really inhabits the characters. So they’ve all got a life of their own. It kind of takes you away from thinking about actors a bit. And I know our wonderful editor, Nikita Kannekanti, was tremendously useful and precise in terms of offering, for example, fashion advice, about carrying your guide.

What would you like to say to readers that are kind of uncertain about picking up your work?

PC: I think Three Little Wishesis a delightful, funny fantasy rom com that says some big things about the world. It could because it is indeed about fixing the world and will be required to fix the world. And I’m hugely proud of it, because it lures you in with the farm, and then hopefully engages you about meaningful stuff about big emotions.

SY: I’d like to think that the fun we all had in making this book comes over to the reader when they read it. If it engages the readers, and they have as much fun reading it as we had working on it, then we’ve succeeded.

Three Little Wishes is available to purchase on Amazon USA, on Kindle or ComiXology, and at book stores near you.

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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