Guest interview: McNamara and Braddock return to mars

A couple of years back I attended a panel at the Alternative Press Expo featuring Jason McNamara, writer of the Martian Confederacy, interviewing the books' artist Paige Braddock for her spotlight panel at the show. It was an interesting discussion, so when Jason approached me about the possibility of doing an interview on the follow-up to the book, I asked him if maybe he'd be willing to interview Paige instead. And here it is. You can check out a preview of the book here.

by Jason McNamara

She’s an incredible talent, a generous collaborator and a very good friend. I’m talking, of course, about Paige Braddock.

Raised in the South, Paige graduated from the University of Tennessee and spent years working as a journalist before being recruited by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz to join his studio, where she’s now the Creative Director.

After hours, Paige is also the Eisner-nominated creator of Jane’s World, the saga of hapless journalist Jane Wyatt, cracking jokes and suffering one lesbian misadventure after another. Paige employs a classic Sunday-morning approach to modern relationships, creating a natural entry point for all readers. Created as an online strip in 1998, JW became a comic book in 2002 when Paige founded Girl Twirl publishing imprint. Jane’s World continues to be published twice a year as a series of graphic novels and is serialized at Comics.com.

A few years ago, Paige approached me about collaborating on a project. The result was 2008’s The Martian Confederacy, a futuristic Sci-Fi romp, equal parts Noam Chomsky and Dukes of Hazzard. With the upcoming release of our second volume, I thought this would be a great time to catch up.

1) At what age did you know you were a cartoonist?

Would you believe 7. Seriously. It pays to focus on your goals and aspirations early in life.

2) Tell me about how you came to work at Schulz and what was the most important thing you learned from him?

It was really through a collection of random encounters... once in a hotel gift shop, once pitching a baseball and once when he and his wife Jeannie were in the audience when I gave a talk in San Antonio. Among other bits of "life" wisdom, I got two really good cartooning tips from Sparky. One was to clean up my lettering and use all caps. The other was to work on drawing more expressive mouths. More yelling. He was right. Big expressive mouths are funny. As the creator of Lucy, he should know.

3) In your mind, do you have a perfect ending to JW?

I don't have an end for Jane's World yet. As a matter of fact, every time I think I'm winding down and I take a break from JW (like now, to work on The Martian Confederacy) the stories just start bubbling up. The characters in JW seem to have lots of stories to tell. I like those characters. I miss them like I miss old friends when I'm not working on their story lines.

4) Janes World is consistently fun and seems to be agenda free; are you ever tempted to wade into politics when something like Prop 8 comes along?

I am tempted. But I'm never convinced I'm right enough to take a political stance in the comic. It's sort of like keeping my personal life (my real life) separate from my work life (Jane's World). It's more fun to just make people laugh. I have touched on gay marriage and some other current events, but only from a humorous point of view.

5) We have a new volume (MC2) coming out. Why work with another writer in the first place? What are the pros and cons?

I think the biggest pro is that I don't have to worry about the story, just the artwork... I mean, there is story telling in the artwork, but I don't have to create the dialogue or other specifics of the text part of the story. I find it's very hard to have more than one cast of characters talking in my head. I'm envious of creators who can tell more than one compelling story at a time. It's been great to work with you because you take the story to places I wouldn't think of... it stretches my skills as an artist... and it's just plain fun to collaborate if the creative chemistry between the partners is good. And I think our chemistry has been great. If anything, I just feel bad that I can't draw faster! We'd be halfway into book 3 if I could!!

6) What's next for you as a creator?

A very wise person (you!) recently suggested that I do an autobiographical graphic novel. I think that might be my next project. I've been giving it a lot of thought.

7) Do you think we'll still have books in ten years?

Well, Mrs. Claus brought me an iPad for Christmas and after downloading comic books to it... well, I'm just not sure. The whole digital comic app thing is pretty damn cool. But I personally hope we'll still have books. While I appreciate a nice gadget, I'm sort of old school.

That flashing light means we’re entering the lightning round!

Favorite meal?

Hamburger and Fries or Pepperoni pizza... that's a tough call...

Celebrity Crush?

Queen Latifah.

If you found yourself living on Mars in the year 3535 what would be the first thing you would do?

I'd get myself one of those cool floating airstreams with a nice view of the Bonneville Crater.

Do you know karate?

Unfortunately, no. But I can fire a 12-gauge and have one hanging over my front door as I type.

The Martian Confederacy: From Mars with Love will hit stores the first week of March. Hearts will be broken, moons will be destroyed and hooch will flow in zero gravity in this sci-fi romantic action comedy set in the year 3535.Diamond Order Code AUG101040

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