EXCLUSIVE: Dexter Creator Jeff Lindsay Interview

EXCLUSIVE: Dexter Creator Jeff Lindsay Interview

EXCLUSIVE: Dexter Creator Jeff Lindsay Interview

Dexter Morgan is the most sympathetic serial killer since Norman Bates, and the star of a Showtime TV show, series of novels and forthcoming Marvel comic book series. CBM's Ed Gross sits down with his creator, Jeff Lindsay, to explore why Dex is so damn lovable.

ED GROSS: I have to ask something about this whole Dexter thing lately – do you suddenly find yourself on the defensive, that people are taking this whole thing too seriously and blaming the character for too many real-world incidents?

JEFF LINDSAY: From the very beginning, one of the questions we got from reporters was, “What about all the terrible feedback?”, but there hasn’t been any. There have been a couple of people, mostly in the lunatic groups. There’s one group in Kentucky that has, like, 11 members and a fax machine, whose name is at the bottom of every petition that asks, “Is Dexter the tool of the Devil, stealing your children’s souls and dragging them into alleys and making them drug addicts and killers?” I’m sorry, but these people need parenting help, not veto control over TV and books.

ED GROSS: I also wonder as I look at Dexter – you've got book #6 out, the 6th season of the TV show just ended, a game online, you're doing a comic book – does it ever feel like the whole thing is growing TOO big? Years ago I interviewed Robert Bloch and asked him his feelings about all his novel Psycho had inspired. He responded that he doubts Mary Shelley ever envisioned Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.

JEFF LINDSAY: I never expected it and that's the truth, so it surprise me daily. You know, my agent keeps calling me daily and saying, it's an icon now, it's a cultural icon now, it's iconic – it was an answer on Jeopardy, Nancy Grace used Dexter to tease a headlining story – a Dexter moment. My comparison, rather than to Mary Shelley, because I'm so butch, I think of myself as Edgar Rice Burroughs, and you can go all over the world and anywhere, any language, any continent, and say “Tarzan,” and someone will do the Tarzan “yell.” And if you said to those say people, “Edgar Rice Burroughs,” they say, “What?” Well he's the guy who invented Tarzan, among other things, but no one knows that – Tarzan got bigger than him. Dexter has, too, and whether it's good or bad or indifferent, it's not really for me to say. It's out there now. You know, I think my overwhelming reaction is still surprise – I had no idea it would go this way. I originally thought, “This is a cool idea for a book, no one will read it,” and that was it. Who would really want to read more about a sympathetic serial killer? What a dumb idea.

ED GROSS: It's strange that a serial killer could endear himself to people in a sympathetic way.

JEFF LINDSAY: It is, and in retrospect, I can come up with a lot of really cool, intellectual reasons why it happened, but at the time, I was amazed and maybe a little bit appalled –like, what's wrong with people?

ED GROSS: Okay, let’s put this in your hands. Why is Dexter so popular?

JEFF LINDSAY: There's a couple of reasons – and I think the main one is we all have a “list.” And when I say this in front of a crowd, they're like, “Oh come on," and say, “M’am, did you drive to work this morning? And how about you, sir, did you take the subway, did someone cut in line, step on your toe, smoke where they aren't supposed to?” So everybody has the list. My brother just had something in his work situation, where if he had been Dexter there would be a new body, but we're not Dexter. None of us are. For the most part we take a deep breath and stack the boxes, but it's really nice to think of someone who does have a list and takes care of things. With the Casey Anthony thing, which at first I was upset about – not the trial, I mean about the reaction – a couple of those things went viral. You know, let Dexter take care of Casey – it was huge – and that's what people like about it. It's having the bully on your side to finish your battles for you. People love that. If someone bothers you, you can say that's all right, Dexter will take care of this, and the people like that.

ED GROSS: So there’s an element of wish-fulfillment there.

JEFF LINDSAY: Right, and we’re also fascinated by storytelling. What’s the beginning of storytelling? “You guys won't believe what happened to me, I was stalking this Mastodon, when a Saber Tooth Tiger jumped out of tree, missed me by two inches, I go running, what do I see, a wild boar with rabies chasing me all the way” – that's story telling. Well, OK we don't have Mastodons and so on now; we've outgrown all of those other creatures in the dark and now we've got a new one – a serial killer. It's the thing that goes ooga booga and jumps out at you.

Look for more from Jeff Lindsay soon.
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