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WAITING FOR TOMMY
By Richard Johnston

RICHARD: Well it certainly seems you're on the power list. While your name may not sell hundreds and thousands in the direct market, you seem to have the ability to make publishers publish whatever is your whimsy. Is this true - and could that power go to our head?

KYLE: It's great to be able to try new formats and genres. A big change in comics I've seen since I started in the '80s is the greater variety of genres. Now you have books like DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, ETHEL AND ERNEST, FAX FROM SARAJEVO, I NEVER LIKED YOU and others. The main thing I do with my work is add to the variety of books available. Most of my books start with me saying, "Why can't I buy a comic book like this?" I've always wanted to see a book like YOU ARE HERE, but nobody ever made one, so I did it. I like Bible stories, but only Max Gaines in the '40s and DC in the '70s had really done any. I talked to the fellow who did the recent SAMSON book, and he said that my KING DAVID had helped him get his publishing deal. Most people aren't given opportunities to do something unprecedented, it's risky. The great thing is now I meet all these younger cartoonists who were inspired by WHY I HATE SATURN, and are doing similar work. It was hard for me to get SATURN published at the time, because it was an unfamiliar format and genre. Now there's tons of great books in a similar vein. Even art techniques like two-color printing, or coloring the lines like a Disney film get imitated and become commonplace after I use them. It's also why people tend to like my books better five to ten years after they're first published.

RICHARD: Maybe that'll happen to The Truth? The series made a splash in publicity and influence, if not quite the same in critical opinion. News discussion progams, the main character joining Priest's Crew, Bob Morales taking over the main Captain America book - and you seem to be a fan as much as the readers. Bob reports that you don't want to know the story before you receive your next script. Why has this touched you so?

KYLE: I think it's always great to have more Black superheroes. I also enjoy working with Bob. We used to do cartoons for VIBE magazine together. I didn't want to read the script in advance, because the suspense keeps me interested. A problem with working from my own scripts is that not only do I know the ending in advance, but I have to read the same story a million times, when I write it, when I letter it, when I pencil it, when I ink it, color it, proofread it, etc. I never get to experience the excitement that everyone else does when they read my book.

RICHARD: So, what did go down between you and Evan Dorkin. Best of buds, co-publishing work, now you seem to disown each other and he's selling off sketches you did for him. Join the dots for us? ***UPDATE: see Evan Dorkin’s response to this question ***

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE NEW DEAL HARDCOVER

KYLE: I've lost touch with a lot of my old pals since I moved away from Manhattan, got married and had kids. I don't hang out with "the guys" any more. I'm home with my family every night and I don't have much of a social life, because I work a lot. I tend to socialize with other parents and go to places we can all take kids to. I'm never in New York City any more, so I'm not part of the big cartoonists social scene like I used to be. I moved out of Manhattan in 1990. So that's 13 years I haven't been able to hang out with my New York drinking buddies. Some of them understand, others don't. After 13 years of not seeing someone, you should get over it.

As far as business goes, I've reached the top of my field, as you mentioned earlier. I have access to opportunities that most other cartoonists don't. Since I am in demand and have the luxury of choosing, I tend to take high-paying, high-profile jobs like TRUTH, PLASTIC MAN, or BIRTH OF A NATION, my upcoming collaboration with Aaron McGruder and Reginald Hudlin from Crown Books. I had to mention this project somewhere in this interview. I'm not doing this interview for fun, I'm doing it to sell product! And you're doing it for money, so now we're both happy, Rich. This simple understanding is why you and I have maintained a successful professional relationship for many years now. I work only with people who will help my career and make me some money. I think that's a healthy attitude, don't you?

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 Continued Here...

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