Rebelle Interviews: Writer and Editor Greg Lockard

By: Rebelle Summers
Jul 3, 2024

Writer and editor Greg Lockard is bringing the heat this Pride with a new graphic novel, Trick Pony. A universe away from his GLAAD Media Awards nominated and New York Times celebrated Liebestrasse set in Nazi-era Germany, this time Lockard, with artist Anna David and letterer Lucas Gattoni, transports the reader into a wander through the desert of the Southwest, US of A. Jimmy Thomas, a notorious bad boy of the rodeo circuit takes leave to travel back home and visit his ailing father. On the journey, he is confronted by the demons of his past. Is he able to decipher what is mirage and what is the real stuff worth holding onto? The long and winding road to answers takes place against the backdrop wide open spaces of warm golds and Saguaro guides. Earlier this month, I spoke to Greg to talk about the creation of Trick Pony, the magic of the process, and Jimmy Thomas’ noble companion, Emmylou. This interview has been condensed and edited from its original form for clarity and length.

So you started conceptualizing Trick Pony during the pandemic?

It goes back farther than that. It was always my dream project that I’ve kind of toyed with. But the approval for the original digital version came from Comixology right as the pandemic was hitting and everything was starting to shut down. So, the actual creation, and writing, and finding Anna David, the co-creator and artist, all happened during lockdown.

Was it always a cowboy/rodeo story?

Yeah! The acid, Western, fantasy elements came later. There was always this image of Robert Redford in The Electric Horseman in that purple get-up he wears and I always had this idea of, what if he was queer? What kind of different story could we do? I always wanted it to be a less traumatic story than the typical Western like a Brokeback [Mountain] is for queer people. The heart of it was always that.

You tell yourself, that dark voice in your head, you’re going to mess this up. You’ve got this chance now and it was almost too easy… I think that realization in Phoenix was just like, ok you can relax. Be softer, kinder to yourself.

Greg Lockard

The desert is such a symbol for wandering, answering questions, finding questions, and facing your demons. For your protagonist, it’s also his home. It kind of elevates what he’s going through on this journey back and the way he handles these things that come up for him, whether it’s the coyote or this fantasy in armor. It’s really quite beautiful.

Thank you so much. When Anna came on board everything just clicked so magically for me that, not to sound too hippy dippy but it was a very dreamlike, subconscious process. I think that’s why I tried to put the simple hero’s journey structure on it. Just to reel in some of those aspects.

Were you exposed much to rodeo culture and the desert growing up?

Nothing outside of country music. My dad’s side is western PA, so I didn’t have any rodeo exposure. It was all through pop culture, so that part was definitely research for me… and I had traveled [prior to the pandemic] with my family, you know, on a Grand Canyon trip and I did a lot when I lived in California. There was always that Palm Springs drive and traveling in Mexico and Texas. So [with the landscape] I knew I wanted certain types of cactus and the poppies. The mood board for Anna was very specific. And after that [more recent] trip to Tucson and Phoenix for the gay rodeo, that was also kind of magical in that I sat down in that arena was like, “Holy shit, we got it right.” It was a really powerful moment. Because you do worry. This is so many readers’ home or this is so many peoples’ background that is outside of me on a certain level.  I was trying to get the specifics right and still keep it classic or universal in a way. Even down to his name. Jimmy Thomas is country and also an anything name.


What would you say that was the biggest challenge in the creation of the graphic novel?

I naively thought that I was very separate from the material, that it was completely fiction. At one point a friend was like, “Jimmy’s a little too close to home.” It was funny that I had deluded myself into thinking I was just being a wonderful fiction writer. I can see it now with distance. The emotional aspects were and are the good and bad of my writing. That it is emotionally raw, generally speaking, and I am not separate from it in a professional way [laughs].

Do you have tricks that you go to when something like that comes up?

For this one, Jimmy and the flashbacks are more towards teenage-years and 20-somethings stuff. I am a little separated from that by the calendar but for characters… I want to build worlds that we don’t see. For me to stay interested, fiction has to be this intellectual and creative challenge. I think that’s why I was surprised that my friend saw that. Each new book, each new writing project, each new creative project you’re almost starting from scratch and I thought all the things I learned from the first graphic novel I wrote [Liebestrasse] would make [this one] so easy. This is the one I had been dreaming of and have had notes for for 10 years and this one was harder.

I wonder whether because it was the dream project and what you wanted to work on, if all of the emotions that go into that made it more difficult? I know, for me, sometimes it’s like, “I really don’t want to fuck this up,” because this is what I’ve been wanting to do. And all those fears come to the surface.

Yeah! That’s me crying at the Phoenix rodeo. You tell yourself, that dark voice in your head, you’re going to mess this up. You’ve got this chance now and it was almost too easy. Comixology just greenlit it based on the first graphic novel and that’s everyone’s dream. But your brain does that trick on you where you’re just like, “Well, maybe you don’t deserve it.” I think that realization in Phoenix was just like, ok you can relax. Be softer, kinder to yourself. It was almost more pressure with that but now with distance, the whole process was amazing. It’s Anna’s first graphic novel and that’s tricky for artists [but] every page that came in was amazing. Her colors are mind-blowing. She’s a really powerful creator so that also makes it less about yourself. It gets you out of your head on a certain level. The magic of comic book-making is you give artists some gobbledygook word tone poem and they come back with a character or situation that is even more beautiful than you imagined. And that was the whole process with Anna. And Lucas Gattoni, the lettering designer he just clicked with everything. So that [collaborative process] does help step out of the typical writer mental games.

Trick Pony cover art. Greg Lockard, Anna David, Lucas Gattoni


You said this is Anna’s first graphic novel, how did you two get connected?

I was working on a graphic novel called The Roman Stars [illustrated by V. Gagnon], it is Julius Caesar as a space opera. We had been doing weekly FaceTimes to check in, which is so rare these days and I just delighted in it. Some of [the check-ins] became me talking about the other stuff I was doing as a writer and as an editor. I said to V. we’re having a hard time finding an artist who likes to draw horses. They’re really tricky and there’s a horse on every page of this book. V. said, “Oh my gosh, I think I have the right person. She graduated with me and is an active horse girl.” Like, was working at stables. And I was like, cool, show me the art. At this point I was starting to have a vision for what I wanted and V. showed me these horses, I forget for what game, but they were demon horses. And I was like, that’s the acid western right there. That’s perfect. The horses are perfect, the artist has to do this job! V. connected us and we started chatting and it became a different story in so many ways when Anna joined.

Let’s talk about the horse! Let’s talk about Emmylou and that relationship. It was interesting because it wasn’t this old-timey cowboy story. This was set in modern times and yet he’s [Jimmy Thomas] going back home on horseback with his trusty steed.

[It started] from the place of The Electric Horseman fan fiction, when Robert Redford rides the horse out of Vegas. I love that image and I also hate cellphones in fiction, and computers, and modern technology in general. I knew we had to sort of David Lynch it. Make it modern but dreamy and time stuck. Keeping him on the horse made it a classic wandering through the desert situation and it also, I don’t know how I came to this idea, I had it in my head very early that I didn’t want internal narration and caption boxes. Because if we’re hearing his thoughts then these monsters he encounters we know what he’s thinking and if we don’t hear his thoughts then there’s still a blurry line between is this a hallucination? Is it a dream? Is this reality? I wanted us to see what he sees. So, removing the caption boxes of his internal narration and just having Emmylou as his only option to speak with kept it in that present action that I really wanted. And she’s named after Emmylou Harris for gay reasons [laughs]. She became her own character, I don’t know if it’s Jim Henson or Disney brainwashing.

It was a beautiful, gentle partnership. She’s the one that kind of keeps him grounded and going [forward] and we all need that.

Yeah, we all humanize those animal familiars and it felt very natural like talking to the cat or talking to the dog. I’m glad that came through. It does, like you said, keeps Jimmy gentle so even if a party boy isn’t appealing in the beginning it makes you see a sliver of humanity.

Trick Pony will be available in print June 18, 2024 from Dark Horse Books. Greg Lockard will be attending Word Bookstore in Greenpoint, BK that same day and Pulp Fiction June 26, 2024 in Long Beach, CA. For more on Greg, see his website Header Photo Credit Erwin Caluya.

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