1) What’s the coolest experience you’ve had as a fan that’s resulted from your position at BOF/MMM/Movies.com?
By far, it’s my visit to the set of The Dark Knight Rises in Pittsburgh during the summer of 2011. The movies are how I initially connected to Batman in the first place, and the fact that a kid from the Pacific Northwest was able to find himself talking to Batman himself, Christian Bale, as well as Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway continues to boggle my mind. Other highlights included seeing a few Tumblers drive out on the field, getting to talk with the publicist about the experience of being on-set for all three of Nolan’s films, and running into Emma Thomas in the elevator on my way out of the hotel. Pretty crazy, huh?
I guess beyond that, though, the coolest experiences I’ve had are when comics professionals tell me that they’ve appreciated my reviews or my thoughts. I also appreciate the people that actually take the time to read and/or listen to the things I’ve said on this topic and contact me to tell me what they’ve thought of it. I wasn’t even sure I had any semblance of an audience until a few of you came forward. So that’s up there, too, definitely, and it’s very much appreciated.
2) I’d really like to try to do what you do and write comic reviews/podcast for a site/write a column about super heroes. Any advice?
Well, if you’re looking for advice on how to make money doing this stuff, I’m definitely not qualified to tell you that. While the paid writing jobs I have are nice, they’re by no means completely self-sufficient, and the majority of the stuff I do for sites like BOF and MMM are things I do because I enjoy doing them. So my first piece of advice, if I have any, is to just be passionate about whatever you think you can contribute opinion to.
One piece of advice I’d like to throw out not only to prospects, but active participators in this, is that you really shouldn’t mistake yourself as the star of your pieces if you’re writing primarily about other properties. I know that the characters/stories/movies/comics that I write about are the reasons most people that do read my work will even bother to click on the link for a piece, or download a podcast. If you think that your opinion on Batman or Spider-Man is bigger in a reader’s mind than Batman or Spider-Man themselves, I’m sorry, but you’re mistaken.
There are also some segments of the comics fan community that try and ascend from forum flamer to column writer, and I’ve seen examples that have demonstrably shown me that it’s just not going to work. If you’re a bitter fanboy and all you have to say on a topic is that the stories “suck” and aren’t “as good as [insert hackneyed idea here],” then nobody’s going to ever care about what you have to say. I firmly believe that your objective, in any sort of punditry or commentating, should always be to start conversation. Not to end it. Try and foster thinking instead of relying on a snappy one-liner. You’ll be better for it.
3) I have a comic book, would you be able to get me in touch with anyone at DC/Marvel?
Really? ME? I’m sorry, but I am in no way connected to either DC or Marvel Comics, or any other publisher. I’m just a pundit/commentator on matters of the masked man (or woman). While in that position and as a fan I communicate with comics professionals from time to time, it’s on a very irregular basis and I don’t do so in a capacity that allows me to pitch either my own creative work or that of others. Sorry.
4) Would your store be interested in holding my comic?
Oh right, I’m a retailer too. Unfortunately, my boss at The Comics Place is only entertaining creators from the Pacific Northwest on the “uber-indie” front. If your title is available to order through Diamond’s Previews magazine, I could ask him to take a look at it. We’re a small store, though, so if he agreed to stock your book, I wouldn’t expect to sell us more than five copies at the most. If that sounds alright, then you can send me your title info (with the Diamond Item Number please) to my work email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. From there, I’ll see what I can do!
5) Who are your favorite comic book writers?
I’m a Grant Morrison guy (if many of you haven’t been hinted at that already), but beyond him I enjoy the works of guys like Greg Rucka, Scott Snyder, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Geoff Johns, Jonathan Hickman, Jason Aaron, Dan Slott, Gail Simone, J. Michael Straczynski, Jeff Lemire, and Paul Dini. This is by no means a complete list, just the names that pop into my head right off the top.
6) What are your favorite indie comics?
In truth, I don’t really read very many except for some creator-owned things by writers and/or artists that I first read about in superhero comics. Titles like Jonathan Hickman’s The Manhattan Projects, Greg Rucka’s Queen and Country, or Scott Snyder’s Severed come to mind. I love Grant Morrison’s work on The Invisibles, The Filth, and Happy. I applaud people that go out of their way to find the next “mind blowing” indie book, and by all means tell me about it, but I’m perfectly satisfied with most of the superhero comics that I read, and am unashamed to say that they are my first passion in comics.
Working in a comic book store, I’ve met too many people that have dismissed superhero comics just for the fact that they have superheroes in them. They walk into a comic book store and just don’t want to be exposed to superheroes at all, instead dismissing them on the grounds of childishness. For my money, I like saying that I am primarily a super hero fan.
7) What about your favorite prose writers?
It’s kind of weird, because most prose I read tends to be nonfiction. I enjoy reading works by political and metaphysical philosophers, like Thomas Hill Green, John Rawls, Jean Baudrillard, and George Santayana. Cornel West is always insightful, as is the dramatic non-fiction of Vincent Bugliosi. From a perspective of fiction, I thoroughly enjoy the prose of Truman Capote and Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird is probably my favorite book in addition to being one of my favorite films), but I also enjoy classic American literature by authors like Mark Twain and Stephen Crane.
8) What piece that you’ve written are you most proud of?
In truth, the thing I’m most proud of writing is the eulogy for my father. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write, and I felt most vindicated when people came up to me after the memorial service that didn’t know him well and said that they felt like they did after hearing my piece. That’s practically the definition of what I was trying to aim for by giving it, and was extremely gratifying.
If you’re speaking of strictly comics-based work, I personally think that the best review I’ve written is for Action Comics (vol. 2) #1 at Modern Myth Media. I’m also pretty proud of the piece I contributed to an academic project called In Media Res, the title of which was “The Clown on Which the Knight Falls.” I’m sure you can guess the subject matter there!