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1) What’s the coolest experience you’ve had as a fan that’s resulted from your position as a writer?
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 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 entirely self-sufficient, and the majority of the stuff I do for other outlets 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 your opinion or critical perspective to.
Sometimes, fans can get kind of a big head if something they’ve written and/or said gets traction, so one piece of advice I have is not to 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 or talk about in my most visible work are the reasons most people that do follow what I’ve done 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, you’re gravely mistaken.
There are also some segments of fandom at-large that try and ascend from online troll to column writer or podcaster. While I used to think that wouldn't work at all, evidence to the contrary has proven me otherwise.
If you’re a “fanboy” who tends to get too hot under the collar when a property you like somehow “wrongs” you, 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 the people who care about what you have to say will be...well, let's just say that toxicity will beget toxicity.
I've always felt that your objective, in any sort of punditry, commentating, or critical analysis, should always be to start conversation, not to end it. Try and foster thinking instead of relying on shock value, sound, and fury. 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 and 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) I heard you were a comic book retailer. Would your store be interested in stocking my comic book project?
As of August 2013, I no longer work as a comic book retailer.
Also, my former establishment, Bellingham, WA's Comics Place, is generally picky about which indie titles they will carry in-store. If you’re really interested in trying to get that specific store in the pacific northwest to stock your project, you can reach out to the current decision-makers there by visiting their website.
5) Who are your favorite comic book writers?
I’m a Grant Morrison guy, but beyond him I enjoy the works of guys like Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Scott Snyder, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman, Jason Aaron, Dan Slott, Gail Simone, 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?
You may as well ask what my favorite book or movie is, because indie creators are unbound by restrictions on genre or content! 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 generally satisfied with most of the superhero comics that I read, and am unashamed to say that they are my first passion in comics.
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.
I'm also pretty engaged in the expanded universes of both Star Trek and Star Wars, with authors like Dayton Ward and James Luceno, respectively, being personal favorites in those arenas.
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.
I also poured my heart into a blog I wrote for the Huffington Post called “Coming Home to Small Town USA,” where I talked a bit about the experience, love, resentment, and love again for the little corner of the country I grew up in after moving to a much bigger city.