First off thanks to everyone that showed up at Wizard World Philly for autographs, to attend panels and brave the electrical storm on Friday night. I finally met artist David Michael Beck who is illustrating an upcoming issue of "Jonah Hex" that guest stars El Diablo. I'm probably not supposed to show you this because issue #8 just came out, but I can't resist…
This issue #11 is a sequel to issue #1, so expect Carney folk and all manner of grotesque violence with a bloody splash of justice.
I'm playing catch up on some deadlines this week so we'll jump right to the interview.
I've got a special guest this week and you may know her as the host of G4TV's "Fresh Ink" or maybe you've seen her on Comedy Central's "Premium Blend," comedian and Comic Book Goddess, Blair Butler. Jimmy Palmiotti and I ran into Blair outside Wizard World Los Angeles and took the opportunity to thank her for covering "Jonah Hex" on the G4TV Attack of the Show's Fresh Ink. Actually Jimmy prompted the conversation because I'm an introverted freak and approaching people at random isn't my thing. Positive, non-stereotypical television publicity for comics is hard to come by so if you're going to bitch about the mainstream not getting it, then its time to suck in that gut and give thanks to Blair for infecting the airwaves with an unapologetic appreciation of the funny books.
Blair, if I may say so you're an intelligent, funny, attractive woman and you love comics, I imagine your fan mail must be very interesting.
I actually get a ton of really great mail - often from people whose e-mail addresses are something like "FrankCastle300" or "GuyGardner88," just letting me know what they're reading. Really smart, cool, comics fans who watch the show, and I kind of love that you can tell what books they're into by their e-mail address. No prison mail so far, and a lot of nice e-mails from writers, artists, and publishers, which is great. I'm actually terrible at getting back to people because my schedule is pretty crazy, but I do try to write people back - sometimes it just takes me a month or so...I'm sorry.
Lets talk comics. You've referred to yourself as a unicorn, because comparatively speaking there aren't that many women who read mainstream American comics. When did you first discover comic books and what was the attraction?
I want to say I was 10 or 11 and my dad took me to Clint's comics in Kansas City. I went over to the 25 cent bin and started pulling issues of "Werewolf by Night" and "She-Hulk" … old horror comics, too. After that I got addicted to the "New Mutants" and the "X-Men." Plus, I read a lot of trades as a kid. "Batman: The Killing Joke," Frank Miller's "Ronin," "Swamp Thing," "Batman: Year One," "Batman: The Cult," "Arkham Asylum" - looking back, I really gravitated to the darker DC stuff. Also, I read tattered copies of all the Marvel Graphic Novels from the '80s. You know, "X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills," John Byrne's "Sensational She-Hulk" issue, Bernie Wrightson's pencils on "The Amazing Spider-Man: Hooky" and "The Hulk/Thing," "Iron Man: Crash, " and - most embarrassingly - "Willow." I have to say, as a kid I just loved Wrightson's stuff. When he did those illustrations for Steven King's "Silver Bullet," I totally nerded out.
Obviously tastes and styles change over time and like many of us you dropped out of comics for a while. What brought you back into the fold?
Yeah, the early '90s killed comics for me. "Death of Superman," all the crossovers in the X-Books at Marvel, the crappy embossed covers, and Image - I mean, Rob Liefeld single handedly did a lot to get me out of the industry when he started working on "New Mutants" - which is funny in retrospect, because his art really made that a "hot" book at the time. But it was just - you know, the characters I loved all got junked - and replaced with Feral. Sad to say, I still have the first issues of "Brigade" and "Youngblood" lying around somewhere, but in the '90s, it just felt like comics were all style and no substance. So that was pretty much the nail in my coffin. But in 2000, I was living with a guy who was really into comics, and he gave me the first few issues of "The Authority" to read. And it was - I picked up that book, started reading, and just kept going. I mean, "The Authority" just hooked me, and after that, I started reading a ton of DC -- Grant Morrison's run on "JLA," Geoff Johns on "JSA" - it was funny because, for the most part, Marvel (I was always a Marvel girl as a kid) got me out of comics, and then DC got me back in… and then, right around the time that Morrison started writing "New X-Men," and the new "X-Force" with Mike Allred's art came out, Marvel won me back big-time.
On average how many comics do you read each month?
As many as I can afford. As with my mail, I never have enough time to read everything. But every month "Ex Machina," "Y the Last Man," "Planetary," "Gotham Central" (may it rest in peace), "The Walking Dead," "American Way," "Desolation Jones," "Jonah Hex," "Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk," "The Ultimates," "Daredevil" - I'm loving Brubaker's run on it. Consuming a lot of limited series too, "Ares," "Son of M" and "Justice" - you can't beat Alex Ross. Oh and "Bite Club." It's so mind-blowingly vulgar - a vampire "Sopranos." Every week I walk away from my local shop with a big stack of books. I know, I'm just forgetting tons of titles that I love - there are just too many.
You know, it's interesting, because on the show, some of the books that I really enjoy now - when I picked up the first issues, I was like…eh. "Marvel Zombies," "Nextwave," "American Virgin" - I initially gave them a browse, and now that I've read more, you know, they're growing on me. "Marvel Zombies" was … ridiculous, but if you sort of sat back and enjoyed it, it was so weird it was mesmerizing.
What are some of the lesser-known stand out series, the ones that consistently deliver month in and month out without much recognition?
Well, "Gotham Central" was one. "Top Ten" - all the Alan Moore issues. "American Way." "Desolation Jones" - god, you put Ellis and J.H. Williams III together - damn! "Son of M," I just…again, that art. But you know, I think people do love these series - and they do get recognition. I just don't know that mainstream audiences are all that familiar with them. I really liked "Felon," back in the day - I don't even know if that even finished its run. Rucka even got me to read Wonder Woman for a while - I love his stuff.
I read somewhere that you're being given creative control to develop some new shows any chance you can talk about that and if so are you looking at creating something that further expands or promotes comic book coverage to the uninitiated?
Well, you know, I'm working on a lot of stuff right now, but one of the things I can talk about is the fact that G4 will have a huge presence at this year's Comic Con. We'll definitely be going live from San Diego Comic Con on July 21st. And we'll have continued Comic Con coverage on "Attack of the Show."
Do you have an interest in creating your own comic book or working for one of the existing publishers?
Yes, but talk about a conflict of interest. On the other hand, Roger Ebert wrote the screenplay for "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," so there's a great track-record of critics crossing over. Pffft.
See, I told you it would be relatively painless. :)