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Jamie Lee Curtis' graphic novel shows how 'We're blowing it with Mother Nature'

Titan Comics

Updated August 9, 2023 at 10:43 AM ET

Oscar-winning actor Jamie Lee Curtis has made a separate career for herself as an author. Her bestselling books for children encourage them to be silly, be patient and like themselves.

But her new graphic novel, Mother Nature, is more in line with the horror movies for which she's known.

The scream queen co-wrote an "eco-horror" screenplay, which New Yorker illustrator Karl Stevens adapted into a graphic novel for Titan Comics.

"I went through a lot of cadmium red," he told fans during a panel at the recent Comic-Con in San Diego.

"Because there's a lot of blood," added Curtis. "There will be blood in this book."

The story is set in New Mexico, where an energy corporation is fracking under land leased from a Native American woman. Her daughter Nova tries to sabotage the project and is struck by lightning. Nova then becomes the spirit of Mother Nature, who takes revenge for being destroyed.

"I had an idea of every gruesome way that Mother Nature could kill people," Curtis said. "You know, black ice, storms, tornadoes, burning them up with extreme heat. Hailstones to the head. What a way to go." It isn't nice to mess with Mother Nature; In one key scene, an earthquake shakes loose the head of an oil drill, killing Nova's father, who worked for the energy company.

Curtis says the climate crisis motivated her to write such a story. "The inspiration is terror. The inspiration is fear that we are heading into a very, very dangerous place."

Over the years, Curtis says she's been involved with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. But she first imagined this story when she was 19, just as she began acting, following the footsteps of her famous Hollywood parents Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis. She says she was influenced by 1970's disaster movies The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure.

"I was aware of the raping of the land. I was aware of the drilling and the blasting and the and the stealing of these natural resources. And I just had this idea in my head. I said, I'm going to write a movie about how we're blowing it with Mother Nature. I just knew it," Curtis told NPR in an interview before the panel.. "It stuck with me so that in 2018, when I made the Halloween movie and got reinvigorated to the process of making movies, I decided to write a screenplay."

Jamie Lee Curtis, Russell Goldman and Karl Stevens <em>— </em>co-creators of the new graphic novel <em>Mother Nature — </em>at Comic-Con San Diego.
Mandalit del Barco / NPR
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NPR
Jamie Lee Curtis, Russell Goldman and Karl Stevens co-creators of the new graphic novel Mother Nature — at Comic-Con San Diego.

She teamed up with Russell Goldman, who was her assistant on the Halloween films. She says his great contribution to the screenplay was to make it about women.

"Women are cool," he says.

And Curtis agrees. "Women are cool. You heard it here on NPR." Mother Nature centers on two pairs of mothers and daughters. "It's a story about the decisions that one generation is making in leaving a planet behind for the next," Goldman says.

The story's main mother and daughter are Navajo. Goldman researched the culture, and he collaborated on the script with several Native American consultants, including author and filmmaker Brian Lee Young.

Young (who is also the author of a new book, Heroes of the Water Monster) says he helped Goldman, Curtis and Stevens incorporate elements of traditional Diné folklore depicting retaliating natural forces.

"This is the first time that I've seen the Navajo culture portrayed in a respectful way," Young says. He says the story also shows "that we have the power to reverse the dangers that climate change enacts on all our communities," says Young. "I hope everyone gets to read it. It's a lot of fun, especially as a horror fan."

Curtis is currently on strike against the Hollywood studios as a member of the union SAG-AFTRA. But at Comic-Con, Curtis told her enthusiastic fans they might make Mother Nature into a movie someday.

"That would be fun. Maybe I'll direct it. Maybe I'll co-direct. Maybe I'll be in it. Maybe I'll do all of it," she said to many cheers.

"You know what? I'm 65 years old this November, and I have no time to waste. None."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.