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1. I don't think there's an atom of hyperbole at work when I say that you seem to be in constant motion, running at super-speed, especially over the last couple of years. Are you the restless kind in all aspects of your life, or is there a division between the personal and professional?
HA! IF ONLY. I long for that division, but I've just never been the kind of writer who can punch a time clock, so I'm lousy at "turning off" the work at the end of a day. And even when I'm "relaxing," I don't sit still very well. I'm not really content unless I'm in motion. I can sleep when I'm dead.
2. You've become a very key voice in the ongoing discussion of creator rights. Was that an issue that you were cognizant of from the very beginning? If it wasn't, are you able to pinpoint even a general period in your career when you decided to take up that particular cause?
Not specifically; I've just always been of the mindset that you should treat people the way you want to be treated yourself, and that creative people (as a rule) do their best work when they're financially invested and have some share, some piece of the pie. I'm lucky to come at it from a pretty unique position; having worked in all aspects of the industry, from editorial to publishing to creative, I believe I have a pretty good grasp on what's "fair" for all parties and can approach creator/publisher interactions being able to see both sides. And, honestly, when it comes to speaking out against bullying behavior by some publishers, that's not new. I've been doing that since the day I started in this business. (I don't tolerate bullies well.) If it seems that I'm becoming a "voice," as you put it, that may just be because the older you get, the louder you sound.
3. Despite your keen awareness of the pitfalls in our industry, you're making comics that have a real sense of purity to them. The things you're doing with Daredevil, the Hulk, and the Fox (to name a few) seem like really well-executed love letters to the medium. How do you keep that joy alive in your work, when it's so easy to be jaded?
It's not easy sometimes. But above my desk, framed, is a copy of Batman #180, the very first comic I ever read, and it's a constant reminder that (at heart) comic book heroes gave me a good life when I was growing up, so it's up to me to return the favor and give them a good life.
4. You recently teamed up with Dynamite to deliver your take on the Green Hornet. In a market that has several different versions of a great character who is – to be fair, despite a huge boost in exposure – still relatively unknown to the modern reader, what are you bringing to the table that makes your interpretation unique?
I think--I hope--it's that I'm writing it not as a superhero story but as a crime series. THE WIRE or THE SHIELD but in 1943. It probably gives my artist conniptions sometimes--there's more tension than actual action in the series--but to me, GREEN HORNET really is the story of the world's first supervillain.
5. I'd like to talk a little about Thrillbent. Would you explain it for the folks at home, just in case we have some readers who haven't caught on yet?
You bet. Thrillbent is a digital-comics website I launched with screenwriter John Rogers two years ago, producing comics specifically for digital platforms, taking advantage of the things you can do on an iPad or a computer screen that you can't replicate in print. It's a place to do innovative storytelling using new tools. Talking about it this way, however, is not unlike trying to describe an elephant to a blind man--since the material on Thrillbent.com is free to read and free to share with your friends, I encourage unfamiliar readers to check it out. We've built quite a multi-genre library over the past two years!
6. How has the reception been thus far? Has it impacted the overall plan either way?
Reception's been terrific. The hard part is trying to explain to people why we're different if they're not already coming to the site. But the whole process of writing for digital enervates me, and that alone is a measure of success.
7. You're obviously a serious forward-thinker. Looking back, have you ever misjudged the longevity of an idea or innovation? It must be a statistical certainty that at least one person said, "Lenticular foil covers are the wave of the future, and they will endure forever!"
Too, too many times. In my favor, I can take credit for being the forward-thinking guy who got rid of all those "continued on 3rd page following" footers that used to clutter up comics--that was me, back when I was a DC editor--and I've backed a couple of winning plays when it comes to futurism and advancement. On the other hand, I misfired in the mid-‘90s when I predicted that issue numbers were an artificial holdover of a past era and would/should be done away with (and if you'll look at the Marvel comics published in summer of '95, where the issue numbers were buried in the UPC box--that was my idea), and clearly I was a lunkhead.
8. We've seen the rise of digital comics, a prospering independent publishing aesthetic, and vast multimedia interpretations. Is there anything you're keeping an early eye on, far out on the horizon?
Yeah--flexible displays. Natural feeling, lightweight tablets that you'll be able to roll up like a magazine. Trust me, they're coming.
9. What are your big projects for 2014?
SO MUCH. The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor. Daredevil. Hulk. A giant Green Hornet finale. Several series for Thrillbent, including one revival of a too-long-missing creator-owned project and another new one. And plenty of other things I can't yet talk about.
10. Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to anyone trying to break into the industry, what would it be?
Know what a story is. Someone wants something, but there's an obstacle. It's that simple, but you'd be stunned at how many new writers don't seem to be able to grasp that. I'm your reader; tell me CLEARLY who your protagonist is, what he or she wants, why I should be rooting for them to succeed, and exactly what s/he's up against, and you have a good chance that I'll invest myself in the story.
NEW! 1. 09/24/2020 - MICHELLE CZAJKOWSKI FUS
2. 09/22/2020 - CHRISTOPHER PRIEST
3. 09/17/2020 - CRAIG HURD-MCKENNEY
4. 09/14/2020 - SHELDON ALLEN
5. 09/11/2020 - GARTH ENNIS