Reflections, Volume 2, Number 14
This week is the second part of my two-part interview with comic writer Paul Jenkins. As any recurring reader of this column knows, at the end of every interview I ask the creator a series of similar questions that hopefully reveals something different about everyone.
Those questions with Jenkins got very in-depth, so I'm giving them more of a spotlight than normal here. Have no fear, Jenkins also takes time to talk up his new Desperado/Image creator-owned "Sidekicks," and his career as a humor columnist.
Robert Taylor: Let's talk "Sidekicks."
Paul Jenkins: It's about this mild-mannered pizza delivery boy called Eddie who works for an idiot superhero called Mr. Excellent. Basically Mr. Excellent just keeps trashing the town over and over: he'll rescue a cat from a tree and cause millions in damage. Eddie is trying to make ends meet by delivering pizzas, and is actually making more by doing that than being a sidekick.
He ends up making a desperate decision to be a sidekick to four superheroes at once.
Naturally, chaos ensues.
Also, Eddie is having an affair with Mr. Excellent's wife, which isn't good since Mr. Excellent is like Superman.
RT: Why choose to write this type of story? You aren't really known as a humor writer in the comic medium.
PJ: I like humor. I've been doing humor in my Newsarama column for ages. I've wanted to do this story for ages, and now that I've found the right artist, I can do it.
It's something I want people to laugh out loud about because I think it's a pretty damn funny concept.
RT: Let's talk about your other humor outlet: "Flogging A Dead Horse." What goes into it?
PJ: It's a pain in the ass! I'm always running late, and then I get stuck with it and I'm really tired. It came about when I was talking with Dan Buckley and he told me to do some more self-promotion because I'm good at it. He told me to revive the column.
I know that you write for a rival Web site so you should be quite happy about "Flogging" being published on Newsarama.
PJ: "Flogging A Dead Horse" has already brought down three other publications. Every time "Flogging" appears, everything goes crazy, so I'm predicting Newsarama is about to go AWOL.
It's supposed to be a comic about a column about comics and video games. After about three weeks I realized I couldn't be asked to write about them because I already do all the time.
So instead I just started writing about completely random shit.
My wife now has a fan club online because of my column, as does the baby. She normally reacts to it with amusement. The other week we did something about her idiosyncratic ways, and the column had a picture of her. She's very good looking, of course, and suddenly everyone is off about the size of her breasts!
She was really amused, but then there was some fan somewhere that said she wasn't all that good looking. She was pissed! She had fifty comments about how good-looking she was and/or the size of her breasts, and she dwells on the one that said she wasn't good looking for a week!
RT: How's the movie coming along?
PJ: The movie is on hold for the moment. The thing is that we couldn't get the movie started in March like we wanted to. But the company wanted to do three movies right in a row, and there was no way we could just shoot in Arizona through the summer! We're just taking more time to prepare. We can't do the film right now, so things are moving slower than we wanted it to be, but that's just the way it is.
RT: What comics can you never miss every month?
PJ: I'm not a guy that goes into the store desperately every Wednesday. I like my friends' comics. I like Brian Bendis' comics, Millar's stuff, Brubaker's books…Jeph Loeb, Greg Rucka. I follow it by writer.
RT: Has there ever been a comic that touched or changed your life?
PJ: Waitaminute, actually that's not true. When I was a little kid I lived in Britain on a farm. My dad was gone and my mom worked for the farmer. My brother and I would get a tube of comics from London every now and then. There was this one comic where Spider-Man fights the Green Goblin, and the Goblin flew through an advertising board. On the board was a man who was smoking.
I just sat back and thought that I would one day live in New York, and it came true. I assumed New York was like London, and thought it might even be in Britain.
RT: What's the best comic you've written?
PJ: Can I have three?
PJ: Excuse me?
RT: I mean yes.
PJ: One of them is probably the story from Spider-Man that I did with Mark Buckingham, "Peter Parker: Spider-Man" #35. It's about a small black kid in bad circumstances and his mother ends up dying.
Another is the "Inhumans" issue that no one else liked. Triton witnessed the sinking of the Lusitania and it infects the way he sees the human race.
RT: No one liked that issue?
PJ: People were ready to find out when Black Bolt would go crazy. They had said everything nice they could about "Inhumans" and were starting to get pissed off because it wasn't done yet.
The other favorite issue is a two-parter in "Hellblazer" about a soldier who lives in a house. It's about wartime Britain, but it's really about my grandparents.
RT: Tell us about your weirdest convention experience?
PJ: Oh God, there are billions of them!
I was being the token celebrity guest at a Wizard booth and we were playing a sort-of "Wheel of Fortune" game. If you don't get the question on the wheel then you have to do a physical challenge.
I told a guy to walk on his hands from one booth to another. But everyone looked shocked. I looked and the guy only had one arm! I felt awful, just awful.
RT: You are going straight to hell for that, Paul.
PJ: I've got an even worse one. I was at the Dragon Con and decided to go hang out with fans. I like the fans and am always happy to hang out with them. I went through the con and came to a makeup table, where they give people googley eyes and Austin Powers teeth and things like that. I walk up to a woman with Austin Powers teeth and yell "nice teeth!" at her. Of course they were her teeth, not false teeth. I didn't have the social grace to deal with it, so I squeaked a little and ran away.
RT: Favorite comic of all time?
PJ: Awww…I know! Blimey! I need to revise two of my answers.
PJ: I definitely need to revise two of my answers.
RT: This has never happened before.
PJ: You asked me what comic had an effect on me. I said that one, but there was one that had a bigger effect on me. When I was younger I was really into DC Comics, and there was this one issue of "Uncanny Tales…." My dad was gone and my brother and I were in the farmhouse alone. The story was about a guy who walks into a house from a storm and the only people home are some kids and their mother. He had these weird slanty eyes and went outside and began to catch lightning and play with it. He told the kids not to be afraid of the storm.
As a kid it had an incredibly profound effect on me.
PJ: It just did.
PJ: Now, as far as my favorite comic of all time, I'll say "Cages" by Dave McKean.
RT: If you were remembered for only one thing in your career, what would it be?
PJ: That I was good to the fans.
That I didn't consider myself in any way, shape or form any better than them.