Friday, December 27, 2013

Interview with Chris Kohler.

Full Name:
Chris Kohler

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
I've had a few, mainly old BBS 'handles', but the one that's stuck for over 20 years is "Captain Relhok".   I still sign my artwork with 'Relhok', as well.  Bonus: Relhok is Kohler backwards!
That’s actually kind of cool!  You’re lucky that your name reads cool backwards.  “Ttocs Ervbefel” isn’t catchy at all.
It was coined during a BBS chat session where everyone had re-entered their handles temporarily as their names, backwards…  mine stuck, and it became a thing. 

The wilds of Western Los Angeles County.

Current hometown:
Vancouver, Washington (basically a suburb of Portland, Oregon)

Favorite city and why?
I do really love Portland.  I even love the airport.

Birthday / Age:
My birthday is always on or around Super Bowl Sunday, and I'll be 42 for this one.

How would you describe yourself physically?
Not too bad for entering early middle age.  6 foot, 195lb, quasi-athletic.
I remember when I was 25 that a guy I worked with said that he’d heard that however you look at 35 is pretty much how you’re going to look, in a general physical way, for the rest of your life.   Sadly, he was mistaken.
Eh, I think that can happen – it just takes a metric shit-ton of work.  For instance, I look about the same physically as I did at 35 (except for a few more white hairs), but it requires severe food/drink cutbacks, and a minimum of 90 minutes of cardio every day.  At some point I’m sure laziness will win out.

How would someone else describe you physically?
I used to get "You remind me of Tim Curry" a lot.  I never saw it.
Don’t dream it… be it.

The first thing people notice about you is…
My eyes, usually.  Unless I've been growing my hair and beard long, in which case I look like Jesus.

Sexual orientation?


Religion, if any?
None, but I'm strongly considering Cthuluism.
Having practiced, I can say it’s a decent mythos, er, ethos.   The robes are comfortable, but the human sacrifice is a bit dubious, ethically speaking.
I just don’t want to be caught with my pants down when the Great Old Ones awaken. 

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
As an atheist/agnostic, I try to shun superstitions, but some of the appealing ones are difficult to resist... it's human nature.  I subscribe to several phobias, but my biggest would be acrophobia.  I don't even like to be on a ladder.
That’s why I asked the superstition question after the religion question.  I think you’re the first person to make the association, so congratulations for paying attention and getting associative references.

Do you smoke/drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
I drink socially, primarily enjoying the fine beers of the Northwest.  Occasionally I'll have some Scotch, or in a throwback to college days, Jagermeister.  I've successfully resisted cigarettes despite trying them a handful of times over my life.  I used to enjoy pot, but in recent years my esophagus has rebelled against me, and it's one of the things that make it go haywire.  Just in time for it to be legalized in my state!

Current occupation / Dream job:
I've been a combination of graphic artist/web designer/webmaster/IT specialist/production specialist over the last twenty years.  My dream job used to be 'comic book artist', but I've discovered that I'd much prefer doing comics for pleasure rather than my living.  Hence, my dream job is now 'lottery winner'.
Yeah, the comic book biz is a cruel mistress.  There’s nothing like the gratification of seeing your ideas in print, but there’s nothing worse than having it not succeed financially.   It’s like having a healthy baby… that dies a month later.   You have all of the elation of the process of creation, and then you have to buy a coffin for an infant, and that’s never a good time.
I’ve had a small handful of print credits (i.e., material I didn’t print/Xerox/whatever, myself) in publications that I’m sure were seen by dozens.  I don’t mind, that’s still pretty cool to me!  I guess the ‘coffin’ in this case would be the quarter box.
Alternately, selling one’s comics directly to the public from behind a con table is incredibly satisfying, especially if you make some money after paying off the exhibitor fee!   I know that you can get nearly instant commentary for work in an online gallery, but when it comes from someone’s actual mouth right in front of you, it’s really cool.  We’ve exhibited Portland Underground at three local small press cons (Stumptown Comics Fest, Rose City Comic Con, and the venerable, but expired Portland Comic Con) and did pretty well at each.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Most of my days outside of work consist of drawing comics, bicycling, hiking, or watching sports and drinking beer with my pals.  I also spend an inordinate amount of time on the internet, for someone who spends their entire work day on it.  It's sick.
It can be an unhealthy habit.  That’s why I make it a point to either turn of my laptop or at least disable my wifi every now and then just so I can experience some unadulterated reality every now and then.
I’m a random information junkie, so I can cruise around for very long periods without becoming bored.  Well, every so often I have a “You have reached the End of the Internet” moment and I get up and go do something else (the moment where one exhausts a Wiki Trek and can’t think of anything else they care to look up).
I used to be that way with downloading music.  I’ve finally whittled my music library down to around 60,000 songs, but I hope to someday have it pared down to a more manageable 30,000 over the next year or so.  They can’t all be hits!  A person can only have so many “favorite” songs.
I’d hit a wall with grabbing music a few years ago, but I’ve kept it all archived “just in case”.  My employer experimented with running a media-exchange website a few years back (of which I was responsible for much of the front-end layout/design) called  The concept was that you could list CDs (and later DVDs and games) for trade with other members.  We couldn’t give it the time and attention it needed to compete with similar sites at the time (2004-2009 or so), so it went the way of the dodo.  But at the beginning, the employees were asked/compelled to list all of our CDs to help ‘seed’ the site’s catalog.   Anyway, after several years I somehow ended up with way more exchange credits than I could ever need, so did a lot of ‘experimenting’ with CD requests.  I think my rate of “Holy cow, I’ve made a great new music discovery!” from that process was about 5%.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
If it seems like a successful resistance/community has been formed, I'd totally join that... even if led by an evil megalomaniac.  I'd work on edged weapon fighting skills.  And farming/animal husbandry.
Good plan!  I integrated something similar into my post-apocalyptic zombie-epidemic novel-length book project.  Except for the animal husbandry part, but thanks for the reminder!
I’m not even sure I’m using the term correctly, but it makes me giggle.

Weapon of choice:
I'm a fan of the Klingon Bat'leth, I've got a sturdy one hanging on my wall for occasions such as the above!

Do you have any special skills?
My skill/aim when throwing/shooting some sort of object/missile increases exponentially when hitting said target would cause the greatest amount of embarrassment or resentment.  Example: playfully tossing an object at the back of someone's head will *always* hit true, even if my intention is to miss.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I earned my BA in drawing and painting from San Jose State University in 1994.

If you went to college, did you manage to pay off your student loans?
State schools were still pretty well affordable for residents when I attended, so I was able to pay as I went by working the whole time.
I tried to do the same, but I only got around $25K of the $40K balance paid off by the time I got out of school.  The remaining $15K has been haunting my credit history ever since.
In that case, I consider myself even luckier that I was able to get by on the cheap.  I think my tuition was about $1k per semester, books and supplies probably from $200-300 a semester.  I feel horrible for my younger friends who are into 5 or 6 figure student loan debts, especially the ones who aren’t doing work related to their coursework.
I am that type, but it’s my own damn fault.  I wanted to go to a state school with on-campus dorms so I pretty much borrowed my rent and tuition from the government for five years and only managed to pay off three of the five years before I got out.  I worked in my “career field” of psychology/mental health/human services for eighteen years, but after my last square peg / round organization early termination I picked up a job as a horror-genre-merchandise brand manager for an independent merchandising company and I was awesome at it.  If it wasn’t for the downturn in the economy and a bad break-up I’d still and happily be doing that job till this day.  As of recently, working security, like I did for a couple years in college, pays a couple more bucks an hour than any human service job I could find in my home state, which I think is a sad statement on where our society places its priorities.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
We've got three cats:  Guido, Mia, and Molly.

What is your favorite animal?
I do love kitty cats.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
My 'berserk button' is litterbugs.  I'm normally pretty introverted, but I will go ape shit on someone if I see them litter.
I’m that way with dog shit.  Allow me to clarify.  If I see someone walking their dog and the dogs stops and squats and drops a turd and the person doesn’t pick it up I stop what I’m doing and make a beeline right at them and as them “Are you going to pick that up?” and pretty much conduct a citizen’s arrest until they pick that shit up.
I know, right?  I would “lump” dog shit in with the litterbug thing.  I just can’t fathom that someone would have such disrespect for their environment (in a purely physical sense, not necessarily a ‘green’ one) and their fellow travelers that they would feel that it is okay to be that lazy.   In any civilized area, there generally WILL be a garbage receptacle within 200 paces of where you are walking.  Dog owners, spring for/carry some goddamn baggies, and get used to how the warmth and squishiness feels through the plastic.  That is the COST OF ENTRY for dog ownership.
I was working security for a yacht yard last summer into fall.  My vehicle died, and taking an hour-and-a-half but commute back and forth from the work site wasn’t worth the hassle since I was doing twelve hour shifts, so I’d just hang out at a public park and nap on a park bench between shifts.  I nicknamed the park “Blunt Wrap Park” because it was always littered with blunt wrap sleeves and those little one-shot liquor bottles.  One time, this disgusting woman with a paper-bag face walked past the bench where I was sitting, writing in my journal, minding my own business, with earbuds in, and she made this big deal of waving and saying “Hello!” as she passed.  I thought, “That was weird.”, and then she went behind a shrub less than five feet away and dropped her shorts and excreted behind the bush.  I turned away so I don’t know if her excretion was liquid or solid, but unless she just wanted to air out her vagina, I presume she was engaged in the activity of excreting waste.  But here’s the kicker… there was a port-a-potty at the edge of the park.  There was a free public device designed and provided EXPRESSLY for the purpose of conducting human excretion in, in plain sight, and this awful waste of life decided that doing her business behind a bush was the better choice.  As I said in my interview with Daniel Mark VanderMolen, some people really bring out the Travis Bickle in me.

Favorite / Least favorite food:
I love all kinds of BBQ-style food, or Hawaiian BBQ.  I think my favorite food is probably pig, in all its forms.  I absolutely hate mushrooms.  First of all, it's not food.  It's fungus.  Come on!

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve it through not dying."  -- Woody Allen
Coincidentally, that’s been a popular favorite quotation this week.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
A series of choices/actions I took at age 30 which changed me from a passive participant in my life to an active one.  Before that, I was simply existing for the moment, with no plan or even a direction for seeking personal happiness or fulfillment.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
My mom passed away recently, that has been the worst thing, so far.  I've been pretty lucky in my life, otherwise... even with the bad choices one makes in their youth I've been fairly unscathed.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?

A small handful of times, but nothing permanent or worth going into.  I'm confident that if a relationship was not working for one party, it won't work for either party.  Rationalizing that makes letting go of those instances easier.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Same answer as above.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
I'm pretty darned proud of all of the comics I've done in the last decade, especially Portland Underground.  Doing this kind of work, even on an amateur/self-published level, is the most satisfying joy for me.
If someone was to pick up just one of your comics to check out as a gateway to getting into your work, which one would you recommend?
This one’s a bit old, and I’ve gotten a lot better since then – but I did a 10-page story in 2002 called “Wanna Buy a Mattress?” It’s the only complete story that I also wrote, which wasn’t difficult as its 100% based on real events.  I made a printed minicomic out of it in 2004 that I still have copies of, but it’s also in my DeviantArt gallery. 

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Wasting the prime years of my life on boozing it up, and a series of failed relationships... but that's not especially unique, I suppose.  I've probably THOUGHT of doing a lot of 'worst' things, though.

If you could kill one person, consequence free, who would it be and why?
Killing is such a one-time deal, though!   Couldn't I just torture them mildly, forever?  Also, I'm having a tough time thinking of *just one* person's death (or mild torture) would do it for me.  Actually, wait - I've got one.  Joel Osteen.  I would like to slowly undo his cosmetic surgery.   I just don't like obscenely rich, good-looking pastors.

What do you do?
I'll assume this regards my creative work, rather than my day job.  I pencil, ink, and hand-letter comic pages, as well as the occasional book illustration.  All black and white, pen/brush and ink.
The question can go either way, as they’re all pretty open to interpretation, but that’s half the fun of the interview process, seeing what the interviewees will do with the questionnaire.  I love myself some hand-lettered comics.  Who is your favorite comic book letterer?
Oooh, a fellow lettering enthusiast!  Lettering is one of those arts that you could compare to sports officiating – if you don’t notice them, they’re generally doing a good job.  I kid!  Computer-aided lettering is not a slam dunk – there are definite amateurs out there, and actual letterers (like Todd Klein) can do some nice things with fonts.  Some of my favorites are the aforementioned Mr. Klein, Tom Orzechowski, Ira Schapp (love those great Silver Age DC promo boxes!), John Workman (KRAKA-DOOOOM!).  But my favorite is probably Tom Frame, whose unique narrow/italic style in the majority of the British 2000 AD stories really stuck with me.
My own hand-lettering is simply functional, but I still prefer having the word balloons and captions as part of the art.
I used to be a member of an APA (Amateur Press Association), kind of like a photocopied zine anthology, called ‘Nuff Said.  Tom Orzechowski was a member, and it was great to be able to be a sort of group pen pal with someone whose work I admired.  Ironically, perhaps, I don’t think he hand-wrote his submissions, deferring instead to typed font, but I guess when you do lettering for a living you might want to type in your leisure life.
Ahh!  I, too was part of an APA for a couple of years – I was a member of WAPA (Western Amateur Press Association – imaginative name, no?) from 1988-1990.  Those things seem so quaint now, don’t they?  My contribution to the mailing was also my first attempt at a regular comic story, featuring the Badger and Mister Miracle doing the Cannonball Run.  My hand-lettering in those days was absolutely a non-starter, so I’d do the lettering on my TYPEWRITER and paste them up on the art boards.  Gods, it looked horrible.  My DA gallery is of recent vintage work (the last decade or so) that I consider ‘reasonably good’ or at least comparable to my current work, but part of me almost wants to put up my early stuff (age 16-24) just for fun.
That APA also featured a couple of contributors who ended up writing the Legion of Super Heroes a couple years later, Tom & Mary Bierbaum.   By coincidence, I met Tom Orzechowski at the 2011 Portland Comic Con, where he complimented our first issue of Portland Underground.  I was so chuffed!
I can see how you would be congrats!

How did you get started doing what you do?
I've been obsessed with comic books ever since I'd seen my first one as a child.  It wasn't too long before I found I was compelled to draw my favorite characters, all the time.  In my pre-teens, I became a comic 'collector' as opposed to simply a consumer, and my compulsion to draw became focused on comic art and potentially drawing comics for a living.  Years later I found that career path impractical, but I still wanted to draw comics.  I'm not much of a writer.  Another favorite quote, from George Carlin: "I got a lot of ideas... trouble is, most of them suck!"  However, I've found that I really enjoy working *with* writers on comics.  The Portland Underground is the longest comic project I've been involved with - I'm currently working on the 80th page!   That may not seem like a lot for a project that's been going for over four years, but at a rate of one page a week at full speed (after the day job is through), a graphic novel is slow going.
I can totally relate.  I remember my first comic book.  It was a Marvel Team Up where Spider-Man and The Daredevil team up to take on The Ringmaster.  I was also an avid comic book collector and had around 1,500 comics before repeated moves compelled me to sell off my physical copies and witch over to CBRs.  I remember drawing my favorite characters as drawn by my favorite artists, learning the process of creation by imitation as almost every artist does.  I even tried to do some comic book creation with some friends as a teen but it’s probably better that we never followed through as our ideas were unoriginally derivative and wouldn’t’ve really added anything to the world of comic books.  Then again, we were teenagers without a lot of worldly experience, so of course our ideas were going to be influenced by the media we consumed.  Was it a challenge for you to break away from the influence of the comics that you love to try to do something original?
It certainly was.  I was influenced mainly by Bronze Age (1970-1985 or so) superhero artists as a kid/teen, and I would copy their styles as the “right” way to do things.  Not that I don’t still enjoy their work, but I had tunnel vision on superhero comics for many years.  It’s taken me over a decade to get a lot of that out of my system.  On the other hand, I have been paying attention to a lot of different types of comic art styles where I *do* want to integrate some of their influence.  I think avoiding superhero type work has helped me meld all of my influences into a style that’s inherently my own… plus, I’m really enjoying working in all these other genres!
I asked because, as a writer, it’s really hard to get out from under the influence of the authors you love to read.  Thankfully I’ve managed to develop a personal style with a fair amount of a la carte use of different stylistic trademarks from the authors I love.  The way of turning a sentence backwards that Chuck Palahniuk uses, telling the reader what a person, place or thing is not.  The detailed descriptions of Stephen King.  The cold dissection of Bret Easton Ellis.  The word-by-word building of a wall of words like building a cinder block wall of Bukowski.  The Chandleristic metaphors of Raymond Chandler.  The warm dark nostalgia of Ray Bradbury.  I try to use all of the preceding like spices and I’d like to think that I do it relatively successfully, although I’m still waiting for fame and fortune to find me.  Also, as an artist, I’m still stuck in the “imitation” phase of my artistic development as my DeviantArt demonstrates.  Still stuck on doing Frankensteins and Bride of Frankensteins and the like.
These days my biggest influences on my ‘original’ work (at least, the ones I am intentionally trying to let seep into it) are Jack Davis, Robert Crumb, and Wally Wood… lots of detail, and lots of cross-hatching.    For the last few months I’ve also dipped my toes into doing recreations of Bronze Age comic covers, since attempting to collect originals would be laughingly expensive.  If you’ve looked at my DA gallery lately, you can see a bunch of examples in between my PU and other story pages.   They’re a lot of fun (even the logos, I’m sick) and look really great all up on the wall together.  I’m also learning a lot by attempting to match the inking style of the original artists.
I noticed those!  I was trying to figure out what you were doing with those.  I added them to my favorites on DeviantArt.  Solid work!

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Become obsessed with it, that really helps.  Because the old saying is correct, you need to do 2000 bad drawings in order to start doing good ones, and being obsessed with the work or form will make that medicine go down a lot easier.  So, draw.  All the time.  Every day if you can.  Get involved with projects that will hone the skills you desire to possess.  Trying lots of different things is good, while also keeping focus on the desired skill set.  Have goals.  Don't be afraid to fail.  Make sure you're enjoying what you do, or change to something you do enjoy.  A lot of the usual clich├ęs about art can apply here.
Good advice all.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past? Give us a little history if you will.
As mentioned before, Portland Underground has been my longest/largest ongoing project.  Prior to that, I'd worked on a series of unrelated comic projects... my first 'serious' comic project was a collaboration with my friend Jennifer back in 1998, called "Clusterfuque".  Over four years, we only managed to complete 13 pages.  It was more therapy than a serious project, as we were both undergoing turbulent emotional times.    I worked with a writer named Samuel Kienbaum from 2003-2006 (in conjunction with a self-publishing group called Hidden Agenda Press).  We completed a couple of 6-7 page short stories for the group's anthology book.  Both of us were big baseball fans as well, and came up with a concept for a graphic novel based on a fictional minor league baseball team's 1974 season.  That one made it up to about thirty pages before life events/drama intervened.
***Don’t they always though?
I’m trying real hard not to let that happen these days!   Daniel moved back to Michigan three years ago, which was disappointing on a creative level because we got a lot of mileage out of impromptu plotting/idea sessions at our Friday happy hours, and I miss that.   We have been at this project for over four years, though… so we have achieved a certain level of rapport with each other.   I just can’t get on his case in person when I need more script!
There’s part of me that is disappointed that the baseball book didn’t go further, as it had a lot of fun potential, but I’m pretty sure the ship has sailed on that one.
It’s interesting because in Daniel’s interview he talks about the baseball book like it’s still a viable I.P., so maybe he’s working on a surprise for you and maybe I just spoiled it, and if I did, I’m sorry.
Ha, I think we’ve bandied the idea about before.   I’d love to revisit a baseball-related (or even other sports) comic project at some point, though not necessarily the existing one as it is co-owned by the writer, and we haven’t talked in years.

What projects are you working on now?
In addition to Portland Underground, I've been doing b&w illustrations for Van Plexico's SENTINELS series of sci-fi novels.   I've done five interior illustrations for each of the seven (so far) books, as well as the cover art for the seventh.  I've also done similar interior illustration work for a related anthology Van put together, called BLACKTHORN.  If that weren't enough, I've been working on a handful of mixed-genre short comic stories with another writer friend I met on, which we'll be self-publishing as well.
I literally joined DeviantArt and set up a profile just last night so I’m still trying to figure out how the site works and what the proper forms of conduct are.  Send me a friend request or whatever one does on DeviantArt.
Update: I scrolled down to the bottom of your interview and noticed you provided a link to your DeviantArt so I “followed” you, which is, I gather, the DeviantArt equivalent of us becoming friends.
Solid work, by the way.

I noticed and reciprocated, thank you!
I’d always posted my work on my website(s) since the mid 90s, but the problem with that is attracting traffic – and I’m more of a ‘get the art done’ guy than a ‘promote that thing’ guy.   DeviantArt has been a great promotional tool for the promotionally lazy.  We get way more ‘views’ for PU than we do on, mainly from the networking/search aspect.  I really enjoy the community there, I’ve found collaborators/friends, people who’ve commissioned me, and people I’ve commissioned.    The stairwell in my house is more or less dedicated to pieces I’ve commissioned or done art trades for, with fellow Deviants.
The problem is always diverting traffic.  I’ve been lucky with the interview blog, since, as a primary effect of the interview formula, the interviewees usually help to promote their interviews so I get their fanbase clicking through to check out the interview.  I’ve posted 70 interviews and the last time I checked I had over 4,000 page views, steadily clicking towards 5,000 in two or three view bumps with a larger bump each time I post a new interview.  Not bad considering I’ve only been doing this since October 1st.  The problem is that the internet is infinite and most of it is free.  Given an infinite variety of media to indulge in, the battle is to develop and promote a brand and a fanbase and unless you want to dump money into artificially stimulated promotion, the only way to build a fanbase is to do good work and grow it organically.  Even promoting your projects via social networking can lead to what I call “promotion fatigue”.  The point where you say to yourself, “Yes!  I get it!  Alright already!  You made a (movie/book/comic book)!  I’ll check it out when I get some free time!  Now fuck off!” and you take the person out of your Facebook News Feed so you don’t have to see their promotional Status Updates anymore.  That’s why, in the wake of self-publishing, I think that the primary role of “publishers” will move from physically producing media, to taking on the task of developing and maintaining an audience for the media, allowing the “creatives” to use the time that they would have to spend on marketing and promoting the brand to create more media.  At least that’s what I’m looking for in a publisher/agent.  I don’t need any help writing my books or making my art or music.  I need help selling the motherfuckers.  If I can find a publisher that is willing to send me a decent weekly paycheck for my work, I can turn in a novel-length book each week for at least the next ten weeks, because I can write 10,000 words a day when life doesn’t get in the way and I’ve got that many book projects that I can work on.  But the time spent holding down a wage-slave job and doing all of the formatting and graphic design and web page design and updating and promotion and marketing is time that could be spent writing, so I’ll be quite relieved when I’m finally “discovered” by the kind of publisher or agent that I’m looking for and I can tell my wage-slave job that I will no longer be reporting for duty as scheduled and wasting my time and effort doing work a fifth-grade drop-out could handle with a little bit of effort.
That being said, I received more feedback in the one night of having a DeviantArt profile than I’ve received in over a year at least of having an Etsy and about six months of having a Tumblr.  Now if only I can figure out how to turn that feedback into sales I might be onto something.
Yeah, it’s a fine line between using FB/etc. as a viable promotion tool, and annoying all your friends.  Portland Underground has its own FB page, and I share the ‘new episode’ posts from there on my personal FB feed, but that’s the extent to which I ram it down people’s throats there.  I’ve known some creators who could really use an alternate FB presence for the daily updates and sales pitches.
I created an alternate/puppet Facebook profile for my publishing imprint so I can post on behalf of the imprint without subjecting my imaginary friends to promotional fatigue.  I also maintain about a dozen Facebook groups and pages so that people have a place to go when they’re looking to be pitched and to keep track of the projects I’m working on if they’re so predisposed.  But I agree that it is a difficult balance to achieve and maintain.

What are you watching?
I'm giving FARSCAPE another try, now that it's streaming on the Netflix... I tried it once, but it was kind of "muppet-y".  I've heard it gets better.  I'm also enjoying the 2nd season of Lilyhammer.

What are you listening to?
I listen to a bunch of different stuff depending on my mood, but in heavy rotation the last few months:  Mr. Bungle, Ween, David Bowie, Gentle Giant, and the Butthole Surfers.

What are you reading?
I've been on a big newspaper strip kick lately... I guess that means my comic tastes are "maturing".  Right now I'm on the 2nd book of Dick Tracy strips,  circa 1933-1935.  I never thought I'd be into the newspaper strip format, as the pace used to seem odd compared to 'proper' comic books, but I've adapted and really enjoy some of the classic strips.
I love some of that stuff.  I’m a hug fan of Berkley Breathed’s Bloom County and Bill Waterson’s Calvin & Hobbes.  I also really appreciate Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
I really, really enjoyed Milt Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates, which I read via IDW’s hardcover collections.  I’d heard about him for years, but was turned off by my prejudice against adventure comic strips.  He deserves every accolade he’s received… it’s amazing to see how advanced he was as an adventure artist in the era he was working, and recognizing how he influenced guys like Jack Kirby.   Unfortunately, I think I started at the ‘top’ with my first foray into reading classic adventure strips, and others I’ve tried just haven’t been quite as good.
Yeah, comic strips are like Italian zombie films.  There are a few, well-known and amazing ones that everyone should be lucky enough to discover and experience when they’re ready, and then there’s a whole lot more that are awful and not worth the time and effort of subjecting oneself to.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading the Dilbert books… once.  But it doesn’t have the same re-readability of, say, Matt Groening’s “…Is Hell” series.

Favorite author / book?
I'm gonna copy Daniel and give my top five, in no particular order:  Larry Niven's Ringworld, Issac Asimov's Foundation, Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, Fredric Brown's What Mad Universe, Arthur Clarke's Fountains of Paradise.  I think lately I've most enjoyed Clarke's work.
***I’m a huge fan of Bradbury.
One of my favorite short-stories of all-time is Bradbury’s “Homecoming”.
When he died, I was shattered, and adapted my two favorite short-stories of his into audiobooks that day.
I’ve got three books by Mike Resnick I’m going to let myself read as a treat when I get caught up on my own writing and review work in a month or so.  I read the covers off of a paperback copy of his “The Wild Alien Tamer” when I was, like, ten, and I managed to find him on Facebook and interview him for the blog and it was really a treat to be taken relatively seriously by someone whose work had really influenced me during my formative years.  I recommend checking out his “Galactic Sideshow” series if you get a chance.  Maybe we can start a sci-fi book club!  *laughs*
I’m also looking forward to getting into Philip K. Dick as I had somehow managed to accidentally avoid his work other than “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?”.
Dick is great!  (But don’t quote me out of context, tee hee)  His stuff can range from very approachable to super inpenetrable, but I’ve enjoyed a good number of his books.  Unfortunately most of his work is being printed in more expensive trade paperback ($14-17) format rather than a standard paperback ($6-8), but the good news is… there’s still a ton of his work in print.  My favorites of his are ‘Man in the High Castle’, and ‘UBIK’.   Other stuff of his has been more of a tough slog to get through, but generally satisfying.  His style was definitely unique for his time, and several of his works (mainly short stories) have made it to pretty reasonable film adaptations.

Favorite band / song?
If I had to pick one band over my whole music 'life', I'd have to go with Pink Floyd.  Probably because they are the band I'd least be likely to tire of.  My favorite song changes all the time, but I'm particularly fond of "I Want You/She's So Heavy" from Abbey Road.

Least favorite band / song?
I really do not like the Insane Clown Posse.
I tried to get into them once, or at least figure out what the attraction was.  I listened to two full CDs worth of music before I realized it was unredeemable and I had wasted my time.
I was dating a girl in the late 90s who was really into them and the Juggalo culture – at first for what looked like ironic purposes, but then became more sincere.  It’s like if you put a bunch of abhorrent, antisocial behaviors and put them in a blender.   It was a real turn-off.
Being a Juggalette is definitely a deal-breaker and will always be an irreconcilable deterrent against participating in a serious relationship with one.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d fuck one, with appropriate physical barriers between us, but I always say, “Everyone likes to visit the amusement park, but no one wants to live there.”  Crazy chicks usually fuck like they’re possessed but they’re also the worst to try to be in a relationship with because you can’t fuck the crazy out of them.  Not unless your dick is like a candy cane made out of Prozac.  And they ALWAYS find something to argue about.  I find that the best way to avoid an argument is to say, “I’ve got an idea.  How about we have an argument?” because that way, you win either way.  If they realize that arguing is pointless, you don’t have to deal with their crazy bullshit.  And if they do keep on stoking the fire, you win because they’re doing what you suggested.  And since the main reason that crazy girls argue is to be oppositional and contrary they usually won’t argue after I say that because they just want to be oppositional.  It’s a benefit from having worked in the field of mental health for eighteen years, but also probably the reason why I’m single because having ovaries means that you have to have a knock-down drag-out fuck-you-no-fuck-you argument every now and then and I have no tolerance for unnecessary drama.  I’ve got enough shit to deal with on my own, I don’t need half of yours to boot. If you have issues, I don’t want a subscription.  Unless someone is bleeding so badly that they need to go to the hospital or you’re really excited about something awesome you’d better use your inside voice when talking to me, because the first time a girl decides it’s a good idea to scream at me, she gets a warning, and the warning is that the next time she screams at me she’d better have her fucking bags packed or be ready to buy a new toothbrush because I am done.  I don’t yell at my girlfriends and I’ve never raised a hand to a woman in anger and I expect the same courtesy. Unless you’re screaming “Fuck me harder!” you’d better check yourself.
Wow, I didn’t really even have the ‘fuck as if possessed’ benefit going in that case, so it was kind of a lose-lose.   Luckily for me, I waited until my mid-30s to get married when I met someone sane who would also put up with my crap. 

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
I'd love to co-own a sports and karaoke bar.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met?
You get three choices:  Alive. Dead. Fictional.

Alive: Steve Ditko
Dead: Frank Zappa
Fictional: Lazarus Long

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
When I was a sophomore at SJSU, I answered an ad in the college newspaper classifieds looking for an artist.  Art for money!  How could it possibly go wrong?   It turns out, the 'art' was drawing pornographic scenes to be used for adult-oriented rubber stamps.  Talk about a niche market!   I did about fifty drawings of all kinds of things for the guy, as well as being talked into working in his used mattress store.  There's plenty more to the story, which is why I made a ten page comic out of the experience.  That was my worst job.  My best job was being the afternoon/night manager for the SJSU art department's computer graphics lab.  I worked from 2pm until 11pm, at which time my graphic design friends would close up with me, and we'd go drink.  I'd go to sleep at 3 or 4 AM every night, and still get up with plenty of time before I had to work.  Sometimes I'd even start the day off with a bike ride.  That was pretty great.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
I can't think of any, yet!  Or at least, any that top "Who would you kill, if there were no consequences."
That’s funny, because I was thinking of pulling that question and the “Sexual Orientation” question from the survey as I usually get boring answers for those two, but you’ve changed my mind.
I think you’ve gotta “go big, or go home” with answers to those types of questions.   You should really press the case with the interviewees who give boring answers.  “Could you elaborate on your answers a bit more?  This is really key for the timbre of the interview.”
Don’t get me started!  Okay, too late.  *laughs*
The correspondence style of my interview process is like trying to move a sofa down a staircase.  It’s a lot harder when the other person isn’t carrying their weight.  I can’t make anyone interesting.  All I can do is work with what the interviewee gives me.  If they give me a bunch of one word, dead-end answers then there’s nowhere I can go with that.  It’s boring for me to read, and will be boring for anyone else to read and is a waste of time and effort for everyone involved.  Those are my least favorite interviews.  Most of the time when that happens I just soldier on and get it done and post it and try to forget it happened like bad sex.  We’re here.  We’re doing this thing and it’s being done badly.  Now it’s done.  And I’m glad it’s over with.  Let’s never speak of this again.  I have had to abandon around five interviews for being completely unsufferable, where the interviewees were so boring that I just walked away from the interview.
Or if they decide that they’re going to message me their answers to the survey one-by-one in a Facebook chat.  If you think I’m going to copy and paste and reformat all of your answers because you don’t know how to open and edit a document in Microsoft Word you are out of your motherfucking mind.  I did that once… once.  And I’m never going to that again unless someone is really worth the effort.  Like, if Henry Rollins or Jello Biafra wanted to message me their answers one-by-one I’d take the time and effort to format that interview.  But if you’re an aspiring author trying to promote your first book, you’d better send me back your answers in a format I can work with.
I just had a person I didn’t know ask for an interview and, as usual, I replied “Sure! Here’s your questions!” and sent the survey over.  The person sent back their answers that night and I thanked them.  Then when I opened the document I discovered they had only answered half of the questions.  I messaged the person and asked “Wait, did you only answer, like, half of the questions?  What am I supposed to do with this?” and I haven’t heard from them in reply, although, of course, they asked me to “Like” their Facebook author page and the fan page for their book.  “Nope!  I don’t fucking think so.”  When I get home, I’m going to block that person and delete the conversation.  Whatever you do, don’t waste my fucking time.  This interview blog is a labor of love I started to help people to promote their projects because when I was trying to promote my latest book project I couldn’t find anyone to interview me about it and I don’t think that’s fair.  I think everyone should have the chance to be interviewed to promote their project, but that’s why I make the interviewee do half the work and I use a standard interview survey.  I don’t have the time to read your book or watch your film or whatever and craft custom questions to indulge your ego and perpetuate your opinion that you’re as special as a snowflake.  Half of the people I interviewed I didn’t even know or know that well before interviewing them.  If I’m not already your fan, make me want to be your fan.  I’m using time I could be spending to work on my own writing to interview you and help you promote your body of work or upcoming project and I don’t mind doing it, but I’m going to make you do half the work because aside from maybe making a new friend and maybe networking a little and some page views for the blog, there’s no net benefit from any of his for me.
Page views don’t pay the rent.
My favorite interviews are where the interviewees take the questions and run with them or at least either do something interesting with the questions or provide an interesting answer.  I don’t necessarily want people trying too hard and trying to be a sarcastic jack-ass or a hack comedian, or trying to be funny.  If you can make me laugh, that’s great.  I get jokes and I like to laugh. But if not, at least be interesting.  I’ve worked the last three months and over seventy interviews refining the initial interview survey and I think I have it about where I want it.  None of the questions are accidental and if you skip a question or just give me a one-word answer, you’re fucking up the rhyme scheme.  I’ve made one special exception for an artist that refuses to use capitalization or punctuation because he was a really nice guy and a talented artist aside from that unusual affectation.  And I’m about to make an exception for an author that refuses to capitalize the first letters of their name because it’s their “thing” for whatever fucked up reason.  But I’m at the point that I’m not going to make special exceptions because you’re too crazy to use spelling and grammar like everyone else anymore.  Either write sentences with capital letters at the beginning of them and punctuation at the end of them or fuck right off until you learn how to.  I don’t mind editing for spelling and grammar, I understand that not everyone has their “there”s and your “you’re”s locked, I’m naturally dyslexic and I feel your pain.  But if I have to reformat your entire interview because you “don’t believe in periods” then I don’t believe I’m going to waste my time and effort editing your interview so that it doesn’t make you look like a complete and total idiot.
In that case, I apologize in advance for my tendency towards comma splices.   It’s like I can’t not do it.
No harm done and no love lost.  I think this one came out pretty good.  I’m looking forward to posting it on the blog.

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
The aforementioned Van Plexico, writer/publisher of pulp and sci-fi novels, may be interested.
Cool!  You handle the introduction and I’ll handle the follow-through.
Will do!  And thanks go out to my old friend Thom Stark, who introduced me to you.
Oh man!  Thom Stark!
Speaking of good interviews, that one clocked in at almost 20,000 words and 34 pages in Word.  That guy knew how to participate in a correspondence style interview!  It’s almost a book unto itself and is definitely going to get included when I decide to put together an “all authors” collection of interviews which I’m probably going to do after I get finished with the “zombie-genre-authors” collection of interviews that I’m soliciting interviews for now.
Since I’ve known Thom, he’s never been at a loss for words!  

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
Thank YOU, sir!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.

My full comic/art gallery:

About the Interviewee:
Comics, and the creation of such, have been an obsession for most of my life.
Many years had been spent trying to be the next John Byrne (or at least, the next Sal Buscema…) while floundering for some sort of direction and style to go along with the passion. Several more years were spent doing everything *but* drawing.
Finally at age 30, there was a synergy between the discipline required in order to draw and the joy felt due to drawing. Since then, a couple hundred pages of comics or so have been born between short stories for small press groups such as Hidden Agenda Press and Approbation Comics, and commissioned pieces via eBay and DeviantArt.
Synergy struck again when I made one of my occasional browses through Craigslist’s local Art ad section and found Daniel’s post, inquiring about a comic artist/illustrator for his zombie webcomic. I found the story concept desirable and felt that it fit right into my stylistic wheelhouse, as well as liking the idea of an ongoing project to be distributed primarily online.
As with any comic project, I hope to improve in all phases of comic art I work with (layouts, inking, occasional lettering). I expect that over time the style in which I work will change as my ‘inking legs’ adapt to the ongoing story, hopefully for the better!

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre has probably read everything you've read and can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces Electronic Music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
Check out the Facebook Fan Page for the project here:
Check his author profile at:
Follow him at GoodReads here:
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
And here:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
Check out his videos at:
Check out his IMDB profile here:
Follow his Twitter here: or @TheLefebvre
Follow his Tumblr here:
Check out his Etsy here:
Join the group for The Arkham Film Society here:
Stalk his Facebook at:
E-mail him at:

No comments:

Post a Comment