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WAITING FOR TOMMY: BOB MORALES
By Richard Johnston

Bob Morales is best known by current comic book readers as the writer of The Truth, the controversial Captain America-related mini-series. It starred a very different American soldier undergoing the super-soldier experiment, a young, idealistic black man, with parallels to the way ethnic groups were treated as lab rats by the USA. His recent task, taking on Captain America as an ongoing series was an unexpected one. Here he talks about his struggle with his work, the expectations of others and how he's grown his reputation - as well as an exclusive publication of the script to a Kyle Baker work that never was.

RICHARD JOHNSTON: You've had fairly wide experiences across a number of different media - how does working in comics hold up? What are its appeals compared to everything else?

BOB MORALES: The appeal is much like that of most writing I do-pretty much after the fact. I find writing nerve-wracking, but lucky me, it's one of the few things I can do. Anyway, the difference between writing comics and entertainment journalism or pop criticism is fundamentally nil when you're writing: you have x space to fill, you have an obligation to provide the reader pertinent information (a novel's premise, for instance, or the fact that plaid kryptonite gives Superman a nosebleed), and it would be nice if your work is interesting and fresh, so you have to keep up with your field.

 

THE TRUTH #1 - SIGNED BY ARTIST KYLE BAKER!

The comics I've published before Truth were satirical cartoons I wrote for Kyle Baker to draw; they were for Vibe magazine, so they touched on general hip hop interests. Superhero comics have conventions that you keep in your head, so if you're writing a 22-page issue and you're on page 13, and somebody's been gabbing for three pages, you start thinking about the best way to get your lead character shot at before the last page.

Long after I'm done, I might look at something in a script or once it's drawn, and find some clever comment on comics iconography, or some connection or insight into a character, but it doesn't happen while I'm doing it. I'm just trying to fill up pages in a way I think is interesting. I remember once Michael Moorcock stating he left things out of his stories because he figured whatever bored him bored the reader as well. So my focus is to be sincere in what I find interesting.

I grew up reading DC, Marvel, and Archie comics in the early '60s-my dad taught me to read with Batman, actually-and I still retain great love for them. I was a film school dropout and a fairly gifted poet and an aspiring science fiction writer before I decided to make a living and go into journalism and editing-all that comes in handy doing comics. You'd think that'd make writing them fun, but nope.

RICHARD: So, what, I'm guessing masses of self doubt and beratement, fuelled by a desire to succeed, to "prove" your success to others, though really, to yourself? What are you, Richard Nixon?

BOB: No, for me it just comes with the territory, and I accept it; I'm not complaining. It's anxiety that accompanies trying to figure out a technical solution to a problem, because I'm blocked until I figure out whatever I'm working on. I have a strong sense of story structure, so I always know WHERE it goes (how an issue will end, what my point in a text feature will be) - getting there is the problem. I like myself and trust my ability, but it's still hard to Zen your way through something you haven't done before. Proving myself to others has never really been a major concern to me - it's probably the innate arrogance of being a New Yorker - and it's an unnecessary burden to add on to work you know is difficult and you hope will be rewarding.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 Continued Here...

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