Do you remember your first comic book or graphic novel? If so, what was it?
It was probably an old Disney Uncle Scrooge. I had an uncle who had a bunch of those I remember reading. I was also always into the Sunday funnies…so Peanuts was big for me. Those were some of the earliest memories.
What do you love about the graphic novel as a format for storytelling?
The marriage of story and art. I’ve always been more of an art guy, just more in tune visually to things. Went to school for it and used to draw a lot. So I will always look at that first. If I’m turned off by the art, it’s tough for me to even try to read it. And of course if you have beautiful art, but the story or dialogue is awful, or even kinda bad, that doesn’t work either. But when you’ve got great art, and combine that with great words…it takes it to another level…and expresses a lot more than either one alone could do. And those are the graphic novels that always stand out.
Whose work do you admire?
Oh, geez, long list. I’ve always liked Moebius. Jamie Hewlett…what he did with Tank Girl is great, but Gorillaz really blows my mind. Jim Lee, of course. Joe Mad. Ryan Benjamin. Garth Ennis. Jeff Smith. Marc Silvestri. Brian K. Vaughan. David Mazzucchelli. Frank Cho. Adam Hughes. Art Adams. Adam Warren. Frank Miller. Michael Turner. Sam Keith. Jo Chen. Tony Harris. Matt Wagner. James Jean. John Romita Jr. All the Kuberts. J Scott Campbell. David Finch. Geof Darrow (Hard Boiled!). Sean Murphy. Scottie Young. Humberto Ramos. Jason Pearson is one of my faves. I could keep going, but I’d better stop now….
Who do you read outside of the graphic novel format?
Lately a lot of what I’ve read has actually been tied back into the comics I’ve been working on. So I’ve read Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files (all 11 novels), Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time (on book four now), and the list goes on. I need a few good nonwork-related books actually….
How many graphic novels do you read a month? How many of those are manga?
Probably between 5–10, depending on the month. Not many manga in there usually. If I’m really into a book, I’ll pick up the comic; otherwise, I’ll wait for the trade, like a lot of people. Just don’t have room for single issues anymore.
How did you first get involved in the field professionally?
I had graduated high school in Portland and started going to a local college for art, and after taking a trip to a comics shop, I kinda rediscovered comics. This was around ’94…so Image was making big splash, and it really flipped my wig. After further discovering that one of the largest independents was practically in my backyard, I landed an internship at Dark Horse, working in the accounting department, of all places. That was the foot in the door that turned into a full-time position splitting time between accounting and licensing. Then full time into licensing, and after spending seven years at DH doing various things related to licensing, sales, marketing, and editorial, I went on to work at Dreamwave, Devil’s Due, Dabel Brothers, and now at Dynamite. The running joke is that I’m working my way through all the publishers that start with the letter D….
What kind of reaction do you get when you tell people what you do?
“So, uh, what do you mean you work in comics? Like at a comics shop? You sell comics? Sit around and read comics all day? No? You draw or write at all? No? Hmmm…I guess I don’t get it…but it sounds like a cool job.”
Either that or they are into comics and totally get it, and then it’s a whole different conversation that moves into favorite books, upcoming comics movies, state of the industry, etc.
Do you collect comics? What is the most valuable piece of art, graphic novel, or comic book in your collection?
Not really. I have a couple bookcases full of graphic novels. When I first got into comics, I bought a lot of single issues, so I have several longboxes that I’ve been lugging around for a while from house to house. Honestly, I really need to go through and give away a bunch of them….
Is there something you covet adding to your collection?
Original art. From some of my fave artists. That tends to get a little more spendy though….