REFLECTIONS: The One Where Robert Gets Interviewed

Reflections #200

Kurt Busiek: Who the hell are you, anyway?

Robert Taylor: My name is Robert Taylor, current CBR columnist/reporter and former Wizard intern. Also, if I do say so myself, one heck of a nice guy.

Kurt Busiek: Where did you get my e-mail?

RT:Uh, I might have stolen it from Wizard over the summer. They aren't going to dock me money like if I would have stolen thumb-tacks or something, right?

Kurt Busiek: What is it you want?

RT:Well, Kurt, I would like you to ask me some questions…any questions you'd like…to help me celebrate my 200th column. Let me take you back a bit to help explain: I began writing columns at the now-defunct Hero Realm and then moved to CBR, providing readers weekly interviews with the best and brightest in the comic industry for several years now. It's been a lot of fun and I wanted to have my anniversary be something a little different and special: instead of interviewing just another creator, I decided to have the creators interview me. I'm not just emailing you for questions, you see, I'm emailing a bunch of my other favorite creators asking for questions as well. And some creators I even called randomly to get honest surprised responses. Then I'm going to take all the questions, put them together in a seemingly random form and answer them. It's going to be great.

Kurt Busiek: What do I have to do to get rid of you?

RT:Just ask me some actual questions instead of these.

Kurt Busiek: Okay, what's your favorite comic that I wrote?

RT:As a fanboy, you can't get any better than "JLA/Avengers," which had everything including the kitchen sink thrown at readers with the simple directive of making us pee our pants in delight. As a reader, it would be "Superman: Secret Identity," which takes the ultimate hero, strips him down to what he represents for you and me, and makes it sing.

Kurt Busiek: What is it about my work that you love so much?

RT:As evidenced by my previous statement, you have a great gift at being able to mix the larger-than-life fanboy needs with down-to-earth characterization. Most writers can only do one or the other well, you can do both consistently well.

Kurt Busiek: If you were to ask me for an autograph while I was eating breakfast at a Waffle House in North Carolina with my family, how would you handle it - an obsequious, truckling approach or just barge in there and interrupt our meal? Or some other strategy?

RT:I'd hijack you on your way out of the bathroom. If that didn't work I'd pull my car in front of yours so you can't get out. Not that I've ever thought about it or anything.

Kurt Busiek: I saw your earlier column where you say nobody likes the Iron Man armor with the nose.

RT:I remember that.

Kurt Busiek: I like the Iron Man armor with the nose just fine, especially when Dave Cockrum, Sal Buscema, Jim Starlin or Gil Kane drew it. What do you have to say to that, buster? Huh? Huh?

RT:Uh…I've lost all respect for you?

Kurt Busiek: Why should everyone reading this rush out and buy my work?

RT:Don't ask me, I've lost all respect for you.

Adam Beechen: When you reach 300, will they make a movie about you where you wear a loincloth, carry a shield, and battle Persians?

RT:If Kristen Bell or Emmy Rossum plays me, I'm all for it.

Adam Beechen: Gaze into your crystal ball. Now that we're in the heyday of long-term company-wide crossovers, what's the next big trend in mainstream comics?

RT:I think "World War III," which is about to come out from DC as a tie-in to "52," is the first of a major new wave of crossovers, something that won't be mined more fully until during "Countdown" and when Marvel jumped on the weekly comic wagon.

Since Marvel had such immense problems with scheduling and delays because of "Civil War," and DC had similar problems with "Infinite Crisis" (this was less noticeable with the fill-in artists), creating events out of a weekly comic book series will become more feasible, both creatively and financially. A weekly comic series has more of a guarantee to come out on time (thanks to the "52" guys not missing a week), and therefore ancillary books that tie-in to events and hold spoilers are more likely to ship on time as well. There is less chance of stalled series', which means more dollars in the companies' pockets and less things for the fans to whine about.

Adam Beechen: What one issue of one comic have you read more than any other?

RT:"Superman/Batman" #26. Wow it's amazing, just to have all those creators coming together to support a lost friend, all working at the top of their game - that book is an example of what the comic industry can accomplish if they put their minds and hearts together.

Andy Kubert: Do you have any aspirations to become a comic creator yourself? Do you have your own character, or would you want to work on an established character?

RT:Uh yah, that would be a definite affirmative. I love writing, and would love to write comics. Marvel, DC, I've got some independent pitches in mind, but if I had to choose I'd love to work on established characters first and foremost. I love paying homage to those that have come before on characters while still bringing my fresh voice and ideas to the plate.

Andy Kubert: If you had to pick between writing about comics or actually working on them, which would you do?

RT:Actually working on them, definitely. But one of the amazing things about the microcosm of the comic universe is that you can do both easily, and if I do get picked up to write books for publishers, I have no plans to stop writing "Reflections," the format will just change a bit.

Andy Kubert: Which on-line or paper published magazine would you like to work for if you had to choose one?

RT:"Entertainment Weekly." "TV Guide." And, of course, "Wizard."

Frazer Irving: How much have you enjoyed interviewing me in the past?

RT:Quite a bit. I'm looking quite forward to our upcoming interview next week as well. Not that I'm giving a sly hint for readers of what to look forward to in upcoming installments or anything.

Frazer Irving: Do you think amateur internet critics sleep better at night after they have brutally savaged the dignity and creative output of people whose comics they have never read, or after a cup of warm milk?

RT:That would be choice A, Fraz. Mind if I call you Fraz? How sad is it that people will rail on characters and books that they have only heard about but don't bother to read, but don't complain as much about books that come out once a year? Sometimes I just want to smack people in the head and feed them a bloody big piece of humble pie. These aren't faceless robots writing books, they are guys just like you and me who are trying their very best to entertain readers and maybe throw in something special or give their books more meaning, and to attack them like that is wholly unprofessional.

Paul Jenkins: True or False?

RT:No comment?

Paul Jenkins: Okay...with that out of the way, would you care to comment on the widely held perception that you are the finest Internet columnist since Marcel Proust?

RT:I would just like to say that this is such an honor and I…

Paul Jenkins: Robert, when I say "widely held perception" I am, of course, referring to the opinion shared by "DevilMonkey5" and "Kumquat127" on the Wizard newsgroup.

RT:Two is better than none. First Kumquat, then the world!

Paul Jenkins: Is Sally Floyd the worst character ever created in a comic, or does Typeface still hold that distinction?

RT:Things were so much better in the Marvel universe when Typeface was alive. It was an entirely different company, one that was creative and actually good. I have not read a Sally Floyd comic, but I know for a fact that she is a racist anti-feminist bigot and refuse to ever read a comic with her in it, and will continue to make these unfounded claims for years to come.

Paul Jenkins: Why don't you ever praise "Sidekick" as the funniest comic of all time? Is it because issue #5 still hasn't come out, or because you have a personal grudge against Chris Moreno?

RT:Yeah, what did happen there, Paul?

Paul Jenkins: …

RT:But it is damn funny. I wish you would do another one after, ya know, the last issue comes out and stuff.

Jeph Loeb: So after 200 of these things have you finally figured out that we aren't bad men, just not very good wizards?

RT:You aren't bad men? When did that happen?

Jeph Loeb: When do you put up or shut up? Haven't seen your independent Zombie comic!

RT:Well, yes, I did pitch around an independent zombie comic called "All Fall Down" for awhile, and when nothing came of it, I stopped. And turned my plot into a novel instead, which I mostly wrote while doing my internship at Wizard. Well, not at work, but after work. You get the idea.

And I'm going to get the damn pitches in sooner or later. They are all in my head, and I have the artwork commissioned to help the editors notice, but damn it, writing for five publications, teaching, and being a student takes up time.

Maybe I'll have time this Wednesday?

Jeph Loeb: Can you draw big tits or just make fun of them online?

RT:Define big.

Jeph Loeb: Comic book collecting. Is it an art form? A hobby? An addiction? And keep in mind, we know you buy the X-Men every month, but only read "Astonishing..."

RT:Comic collecting is different for every person. To some it becomes an addiction, others so perfect chronicle and catalog their collection that they turn it into an art form. Others, like myself, just throw the damn things in a bag and box and never see them again for three years.

And don't tell Ed or Mike or Chris about the whole not reading thing.

Justin Gray: As a journalist how do you feel about the symbolic representation of America in modern comics and what kind of moral message would you say it sends, if any, to anyone under the age of 18?

RT:I do enjoy when mainstream culture and government is represented in comics subtly and with class. I don't think it's correct to use that kind of storytelling in all situations, and much of the time the message is sadly nailed into the head of readers in an utterly obvious way. But in the right place, at the right time (and what better time than now, when American culture is at its most polarized in decades). And while an obvious argument could be made that younger, more impressionable readers might have their more conservative views skewered by a mostly-liberal bias (not that I'm complaining) visible in comics today, one also has to realize that, from the age of 12 and up, these kids are smart enough to know what is what.

There's a reason I fondly remember "Supergirl," in my first years of reading comics, and that was because Peter David was giving me insights into faith, GLTB communities and politics that didn't judge in a beautifully-done story. Let's hope that young readers are discovering just how much a comic can mean when reading books like "Runaways" or Heinberg's "Young Avengers" and feeling the same way I did.

Justin Gray: The mainstream comics industry is undergoing yet another transition period designed to both reflect modern sensibilities and reinvigorate hundreds of existing franchises. In your opinion are these changes designed to capture the collective imagination of a new generation or do they serve to keep in step with the complexities of an aging fan base?

RT:Pick your poison: With DC, you have them trying to reinvigorate old franchises by bringing back ideas from the '60s and '70s in full-form, so much so that new readers may well be completely lost trying out "Infinite Crisis" or "Identity Crisis," while longtime fans may jump for joy. That said, weekly comics like "52" and "Countdown" are a phenomenal way to reinvigorate old franchises by giving newer readers enough backstory to digest manageably while still telling a good story that brings the franchises into new directions.

Over at Marvel, you've got the publisher jumping forward into the future by tackling more political issues and bringing years of continuity to its head in arcs of stories and hitting the reset button on others. This is proving to alienate some older fans who cry afoul at the characterization and alienation of characters, but certainly it's a smart way to bring in new readers and keep them interested in the product.

Greg Pak: What are the three most important things that make you fall in love with a particular comic book or series? Please provide examples of each.

RT:Nothing beats the first time you feel like you have discovered something, whether it is a book, writer or artist. It takes you back to the very first day you read a comic book and gives you goosebumps. And that only happens once in a blue moon as well, so each time is special. Recent examples include "Samurai: Heaven and Earth," "Freshmen," and "Necromancer."

Next up is when you follow a creator for a long time and you get a feel for what he writes or draws best, and then a page or issue comes along that just blows you out of the water. Look at what the Kuberts are doing on their respective books or Bendis' recent issues of "Ultimate Spider-Man."

And finally, when you read something that just touches you and makes you feel all warm inside, like "Superman/Batman" 26.

Greg Pak: If you ran one of the big comic companies, what would be the one thing you would do to increase comic book readership all up and down the line?

RT:One of the main complaints up and down the line are that comics are just not new-reader friendly, which is very true. I'm having trouble keeping up nowadays, and climbing onto any new book is a daunting task, full of back issues to hunt down or expensive trades to buy. I would have each ongoing series set aside a certain issue every year to serve as a jumping-on point for new readers. The issue, of course, wouldn't just be a recap of everything that has gone on in the character's history, because that would be boring as hell, but also move the ongoing plots in the book forward in a way that won't intrude on loyal readers. The issues would have a marking or designation to let potential readers know that this is a good time to give the series a shot. The boost in sales may not be immediate, but in the long term it would be more healthy for the industry.

Greg Pak: Let's play king of the world for a moment - please list ten of your favorite writers and artists and tell us what books/characters you'd like to see them writing and drawing - and tell us why. Only rule, you can't pair them with projects they're already doing or are about to do.


Brian Bendis/Jim Cheung- "Captain America"

Greg Rucka/Tim Sale- "The Pulse"

Darwyn Cooke/Mike Perkins- "Tomb Raider"

Mike Carey/Simone Bianchi- "Batman"

Tony Bedard/Paul Pelletier- "Ultimate X-Men"

Brandon Peterson: What piece of information, personal or otherwise, from an interview surprised you the most?

RT:I always am a little surprised when creators speak honestly about their feelings on the inner business workings of the company they are exclusive to. I hear a lot of BS spoken very carefully so as never to step on anyone's toes on a weekly basis, so to hear that perhaps this business dictate or that editorial move wasn't well-liked is refreshing and always brings a smile to my face since the creator is being so honest.

Brandon Peterson: If you could re-interview anyone from your past 200 columns, who would it be and why?

RT:Now you are making me choose favorites! Okay, as far as creators who always knock it out of the park with me every time I interview them, I have to single out Jeph Loeb, Mike Carey, Tony Bedard and Paul Jenkins. I've done three interviews each, and I think we always get a great back-and-forth banter between us whenever we talk, and I often just forget about the recorder. I would also love the chance to interview Bendis again, and maybe that will happen sooner than I think.

Mike Carey: How did you get onto this boulevard of broken dreams?

RT:Even though I had paged through comics on racks before, I had never dreamed of collecting until one day when I was walking through "Borders Books and Music" and spied a large hardcover called "The Comic Book." It was on sale. Less than a week later I bought $300 worth of Silver Age comics and new issues of "Superman," "JLA" and "Batman: The Long Halloween."

Mike Carey: You're on record as saying that Cyclops is a sissy boy.

RT:I am?

Mike Carey: You are.

RT:I am.

Mike Carey: Who in the X-Men do you feel is the most potent and unquestionable hunk?

RT:Beast is so soft and fuzzy, but has a savage edge to him as well. Plus he's smart, and I just love the blue fuzz…I mean…I'm manly. I'm going to go spit and chop some wood.

Mike Carey: What was your most embarrassing convention experience, apart from that whole "I have a broken leg, give me your tickets" thing?

RT:Getting Mike Perkins, Drew Hennessy, Bill Rosemann, Chuck Dixon and myself thrown out of a bar because I was underage.

Mike Carey: If a tree falls in a wood, and only Squirrel Girl is there to hear it, will it stretch to a miniseries?

RT:If Ellis writes it.

Mike Carey: Has meeting any creator ever proved to be a spectacular disappointment?

RT:Surprisingly enough, no. I've been going to conventions for years, and all the creators I've had the pleasure to speak with have been fairly nice.

Except for Mike Carey. What a bitch.

Mike Carey: What specialized equipment do you pack for conventions?

RT:My tape recorder was all for awhile. But after learning that Purell is the new drug of choice for creators at conventions (because shaking hands all day can become a bit germy), I'm contemplating buying a hundred of those travel-sized bottles to a convention and offering them to creators in exchange for an interview.

Mike Carey: Review a book in fifteen words or less.

RT:"Planetary" - I don't get it.

Mike Carey: Is it true that you keep scissors over your doors?

RT:They keep bad Chuck Austen comics out.

Marc Andreyko: Toilet paper: do you prefer it hanging over the front of the roll in the dispenser or hanging behind the roll?

RT:In front of the roll, totally! If it gets ripped off too early behind the roll you have to spend an extra three seconds feeling around the back of the roll to find where the rip is. Wait, is this some sort of metaphor for comic books? If so, I don't get it.

Marc Andreyko: Who's stronger: The Thing or The Hulk?

RT:Hulk is the strongest there is. If some computer math equation Reed created can cause part of the Thing's skin to come loose, then there is no question.

Marc Andreyko: This question is decompressed for the TPB: who is your favorite....

RT:And this answer has been delayed because the trade paperback was cancelled because the artist can't draw more than a page a week….

Simone Bianchi: Why do you think great artists and projects from Europe can not break the American market as they should?

RT:I'm quite surprised by this, actually. It's not like films or novels, which can lose much through dubbing or translation, the art is still as beautiful as ever and only the dialogue balloons need to be switched around. My only thought it that us dumb Americans only like this phenomenal European artwork when it has been tailored with American characters and concepts. Sad, really sad.

Simone Bianchi: Don't you think it's a shame that young generations don't have the opportunity to discover amazing artists like Moebious, Enki Bilal, Massimiliano Frezzato, Juan Jemenez, Guarnido , Sergio Toppi and so on?

RT:I have my fingers crossed for trades.

Simone Bianchi: How much do you think the Internet (related Web sites and forums and stuff like that) can really affect or influence the real comic book market and sales?

RT:I think it can affect the market quite a bit, but won't affect sales quite as much. Trolls and constant naysayers aside, the comic industry has, by and large, the smartest base of fans one could ever desire, and when they make real calls for action or cries of anger about something, companies really have no choice but to take notice. That's why I love writing a column for CBR, and why I love the forums to speak your mind for this medium: you actually can make a difference. However, as far as sales go, Peter David once told me that if the chatter on the Internet reflected actual sales, the X-Men books would sell 2,000 copies and "Y: The Last Man" would sell half a million. I agree with that sentiment.

Greg Rucka: What was the most embarrassing moment you've ever had in an interview?

RT:When I asked Paul Jenkins about how his golf game was and he told me he couldn't play golf because he had just had knee surgery. Whoops.

Greg Rucka: What comic book that everyone loves (or says they love) that you really, honestly, can't stand - either because you believe it's over-rated, or because you just don't "get it"?

RT:Uh, I just don't get "Planetary." It's so pretty, and I pick up most issues, but I just can't get into it. I try, and I try, and then I buy the trade and Absolute edition, but I. Still. Just. Can't. Get. It.

Greg Rucka: What's the worst thing your parents think you've done. Not the worst thing that you've actually done - the worst thing they think you've done.

RT:Ran my car into Taco Bell. Literally, into Taco Bell.

Keith Champagne: Which female creator would you most like to 'reflect' on?

RT:Rosario Dawson.

Keith Champagne: Who has been your absolute worst, most uncooperative interview over the course of your 200 columns?

RT:Oh my. I have to separate adjectives here.

The most uncooperative interviews are the ones that never happen, with creators dropping off the face of the planet after agreeing to do the interviews for several weeks at a time before emailing me again to reschedule and then disappearing again. It kind of makes me want to pull out all my hair and ask Bendis and Vaughan if something similar happened to them and that's the reason why they are bald.

As far as the worst interview? Back in the Hero Realm days, I had an interview with Dave Lapham that was so bad I wanted the name Alan Smithee to be written on the byline. This is no fault of Dave's, the interview was coordinated via email through a publisher, and therefore I was limited in the number of questions I could ask, restrained by only talking about a certain project, and forced to cover the same ground ten other interviews did. I will never do that again. Like, ever. And then, randomly, the guy who posted it on the Web site put up art from a different book! It was not a good week for the column.

Keith Champagne: At its finest hour, what does your column aspire to be?

RT:A surprising, in-depth portrait of a creator (or creators) that leaves the reader with at least three nuggets they didn't know going into the article, and a better understanding of who the creator I've interviewed is.

Jim Cheung: (groggily) Hi Robert, I'm very excited to be participating in your 20th column.


Jim Cheung: Oh it's your 200th? Wow, they've let you go on for that long? Okay, um, let's see…With your ever increasing presence within the comic industry, where do you think you'll be when your 500th REFLECTIONS column is written? And what nuggets of advice would the future Robert Taylor have for your current self?

RT:Hang on you are going too fast…

Jim Cheung: What advice could you provide for your pre-Reflections column self? Or for that matter, what would you say to the ten year old Robert Taylor? And if you hadn't started on these questions littered with past/future selves, what do you think you might've done with the past five minutes instead? What do you think I might've done in the five minutes it took to think up these questions? Wait, no, don't bother answering that one, Robert. I don't want you to start trawling the dark murky depths of your filthy imagination for anything that might resemble a clean answer. I wouldn't want you to strain yourself. After all, you need to preserve some energy in order to write the 201st Reflections column, right? Hey, you like what I did there? Looped back around to mentioning your REFLECTIONS column again. I must remember to read one of those columns sometime…. Ah... who am I kidding? Now, what was I doing before this nonsense started again? Ah yes, counting the spaghetti I have left in the kitchen. Where was I? ...67...68....69... Heh, 69 >snicker<...70...


Peter David: Who (unh) who wrote the book of love?

RT:According to IMDB, "The Book of Love" was co-written by Tomas Aznar and Julian Marcos. It's ranked at 139,935, if anyone is interested.

Peter David: Why do fools fall in love?

RT:Because they are, like, foolish and stuff.

Peter David: "Fallen Angel" - Great comic, or the greatest ever?

RT:It is currently a great comic. Always has been, always will be (knock on wood). We need about 20 years to see, but I do think it will be regarded as one of the greatest of all time. In time. Some time.

Mike Deodato Jr.: If you weren't involved in the comics business in some capacity, what other calling or interest would you follow, and why? Or do you do this comics-related stuff because you can't get a real job?

RT:I would be a journalist of some type, most likely in the field of entertainment. Or a millionaire film director/writer. Probably the latter. Maybe homeless, though.

Mike Deodato Jr.: Since this is all supposed to be about you and current events as a journalist, how great do you think I am...right now?

RT:What are you drawing again? Something with Moonstone? Lame!

Mike Deodato Jr.: Bullseye is in it.

RT:I'm buying twenty-five of each issue.

Mike Deodato Jr.: Are you absolutely certain it's two hundred columns? Or do you stay up night worrying you miscounted somewhere and you're going to give up the ghost at 199?

RT:Oh my God you are freaking me out! Now I have to go back and recount twelve times in a row to make sure everything is kosher! Damn you, Deodato, damn you to hell!

Okay, everything is fine, I've just assassinated some editors to make sure no one squawks about this being 202. I mean…shit!

Dale Eaglesham: Robert, I need your help with this project where I'm supposed to come up with a question for an interviewer. If you wanted to ask me a question about what I would like to ask you, what would you ask me to ask you?

RT:I'm confused.

Dale Eaglesham: If you were dating the daughter (or son, whatever makes you happy) of a JSA member, who would you find most intimidating as a would-be father-in-law?

RT:Uh, Wildcat. I would be terrified he would send Catwoman to try to lure me away from my woman and then kill me when I cheated. Or he might show up in my home and night, beat me up, drink my beer, and search through all my stuff while buying premium channels to watch wrestling.

Tony Bedard: If you were uber-hottie and "Veronica Mars" star Kristen Bell, and you could sleep with any comic book creator, who would it be?

RT:Gail Simone, definitely.

Tony Bedard: Can a comic creator make it big these days without a MySpace presence?

RT:Uh no. Myspace is totally the new Comicspace, like Comicspace ever actually was an in thing to do. In fact, creators, if you join and friend me, I'll put you in my top 20!

And you, dear reader, feel free to friend me as well right here, but just shoot me a message saying you are real and not some girl named Lola who has a great deal for me in real estate or the best drugz on the 'net.

Frank D'Armata: Who are your favorites in the industry?

RT:Everyone who responded to the column. The rest are bitches.

Frank D'Armata: Have you gotten over your crush on "Veronica Mars?"

RT:I will never get over my crush on my very favorite detective ever. Though I am terrified that if I ever pissed her off, she might take a tazer to my balls.

Frank D'Armata: What did I do to deserve this honor?

RT:Color some good comics and doing an interview with me.

Luke Ross: After spending years reading comic books with the past few having to make public your thoughts about them, have you ever had a nightmare with any serial creator killer? If so, can you tell us?

RT:I'm constantly in fear that the Batgirl fans who didn't like my opinions about Adam Beechen's great run on "Robin" might come for me in my sleep.

Oh, and Jeph Loeb threatened to blow up my car once or twice.

Luke Ross: What's the superhero name you thought for yourself when you first knew about the Stan Lee's "Who Wants to be a Superhero" show?

RT:Superbob, of course!

Luke Ross: What's that clever question you did for an author that you thought "man, I'm a genius!"? And to whom you did the question? And the answer was?

RT:I love asking the lightning round of questions at the end of every interview because, for at least one of the questions, most creators have to stop and think about them for a few seconds. I find this odd, since they should know the questions are coming because I ask them every week.

Luke Ross: Are the rumors true saying you're leaving the REFLECTIONS column because of the frequent death threats?

RT:I will never yield!

Mike Perkins: Company-wide crossover, weekly comic or self-contained big event?

RT:Self-contained big event without massive tie-ins. If I see another OMAC randomly appear and beat up a hero before disappearing or Tony Stark rain on another hero's parade, I might implode. And that is not an invitation, guys!

Mike Perkins: Late releases or monthly fix?

RT:As long as the late release isn't over six months I'm willing to wait because I have faith in the creators to blow my socks off. Imagine if the final issues of "Ultimates" or "Young Avengers" had fill-ins, and I think you'll agree.

Mike Perkins: Original Graphic Novels/Albums - the way of the future or still a place for the pamphlets?

RT:There will always be a place for individual comics, we just need to find a way to bridge the gap between bookstores and comic stores so that the graphic novels and trades are supporting the monthlies instead of taking away from them.

Mike Perkins: Poirot or Miss Marple?

RT:Poirot, since it's actually his job to solve crimes instead of being a busybody. But if I saw either on the street I would run in the other direction because you just know some shit is about to go down and I'm either gonna be dead or found with a gun in my hand.

Hugh Sterbakov: Give me three favorites, and tell me why they're at the top of the stack: Your favorite column, your favorite single comic, and your favorite character.

RT:I always need my weekly dose of LYING IN THE GUTTERS, if only to find out plots of stories before the creators do. My favorite single comic right now has got to be Kubert and Morrison's "Batman." My favorite character is, and will always be, Superman.

Hugh Sterbakov: Why is life so unfair?

RT:It is? Sucks to be you, dude.

Hugh Sterbakov: Where do you see the industry in ten years? Can young readers be recaptured?

RT:Not if Captain America keeps getting shot on the way to prison or Sue Dibny keeps getting raped in major crossovers.

Mark Waid: If I were a serial killer, my nickname would be "The Lazy Shovel" because I don't have the patience to dig six-foot graves. What would your serial killer name be?

RT:"The Jealous Wannabe Creator"

Mark Waid: Are you relieved that Jack Kirby is dead because "Civil War" #7 would have killed him?

RT:Ouch. No one tell Mark what happened in "Cap" #25!

Mark Waid: Do these pants make me look fat?

RT:I think it was just the pizza and coke that you had beforehand.

Dan Jurgens: What was your favorite time as a comic fan or journalist? For example, it could have been the summer you were 12 and your favorite books came out. Or it could have been the four days you spent at your first San Diego convention. Or the 6 months it took your favorite storyline ever to play out.

RT:The most exciting moments, for me, are when a legendary creator or creative team ends their run on a book in high fashion. When Morrison ended his run on "JLA" I waited outside the comic book store before it opened. When Loeb and Lee finished "Hush." When you finished "Thor." When Busiek and Perez completed "JLA/Avengers." I remember reading the last issues as I drive home in my car praying no one breaks hard in front of me more than most anything else as a comic fan.

Dan Jurgens: Schmuckiest creator you ever had to deal with.

RT:The ones who drop off the face of the earth.

Dan Jurgens: If you could be named publisher of Marvel or DC and snap your fingers to change one thing - be it a book, character, business practice, whatever - what would it be?

RT:Not to step on Marvel's toes because they might have an unseen plan in the works with his characterization, but I would really love to give Tony Stark his soul back. This isn't aimed at any specific book, because at this point it has become company-wide.

Aaron Lopresti: Do you have a real job?

RT:Is college considered a real job? And is it weird that we work on more shit during our college years and are busier every week than we probably ever will be after graduating? Or maybe that is just me.

Aaron Lopresti: Where do you find the time to write so many internet fluff pieces?

RT:I don't sleep. I mix the contents of caffeine pills with coke and shoot it, with a syringe, directly into my eye. And it keeps me awake.

Aaron Lopresti: Is this all just a big lie in attempt to draw attention to yourself?

RT:About 45 percent of it.

Charlie Huston: I want to know who you want to interview for your ultimate column.

RT:It would be nice to interview God so he can tell everyone the gays should be able to get married.

Charlie Huston: What is your dream team from writer to editor on any book?

RT:"JLA" written by Grant Morrison, painted by Alex Ross, lettered by Richard Starkings, edited by Michael Marts.

Christos Gage: What do you think should be done about the growing problem of late internet columns? I just don't understand why the same offenders continue to get away with it without facing any consequences.

RT:Someone should cut them!

Christos Gage: If you could shag any woman in the world (or dude, whatever floats your boat), who would it be? And if the only way it could happen was in a threesome with Screech from "Saved By The Bell," would you still do it?

RT:Kristen Bell and no.

Christos Gage: How has the comics medium improved since you first became a fan, and how has it gotten worse?

RT:The artistic craft present in comics has improved five-fold since the first day I picked up a comic. I don't mean to even imply that the likes of Kane, Eisner and Kirby are outdated, because their comic art continues to be some of the greatest of all time, this is mostly about the coloring. With the advent of digital coloring, comics have been raised to a completely new level of beauty. That is why I can't wait for the "lost" Lee/Kirby "Fantastic Four" to be released in both classic coloring and modern coloring styles: it will help show how far the coloring artists have come.

But, by the same token, I have to wonder if writers delaying books for years and artists managing to draw only three issues a year is a good sign for the industry. Or the fact that publishers keep giving them high-profile assignments even though they won't deliver them on time. It's not very professional. At all.

Mark Millar: What's your thoughts on British trade union law circa 1964-1979?

RT:I have none and I couldn't find it on Wikipedia. * begins crying *

Mark Millar: What insular reef was struck by Captain Gundal's vessel in 1904?

RT:Ha! I found this one! It's the Rockall reef!

Why the hell do you need to know this, Mark?

Mark Millar: Who or what is Thecla Betulae?

Robert Taylor: It's a butterfly in the Netherlands. Oh my, I'm confused right now.

Joshua Ortega: All right, what was the toughest interview you ever had to do?

RT:The interview that opened this volume of "Reflections," interviewing Jeph Loeb. I'm quite proud of it, especially that it reads so cohesively, since the interview took place in bits and pieces over the course of two months. Twenty minutes here, three minutes there - it was quite an undertaking to put together, but Jeph was very helpful and it all came together in the end and I doubt anyone believes it feels disconnected.

Joshua Ortega: You were the first guy in the media to sing the praises of "The Necromancer" - now Mike Carey is writing the foreword to the trade paperback due in April? How do you feel about being ahead of the curve?

RT:Can I bottle that quote and uncork it every time I have to impress someone at a job interview?

Joshua Ortega: Kristin Bell - you still dig her as much as you used to, or is there a new woman in your life?

RT:Blasphemer! There will never be another…oooh…Emmy Rossum is pretty…no! Kristen will always be mine!

Mark Verheiden: 1-mil bags or Mylar snugs? And, ahem, which does your significant other prefer?

RT:Mylar snugs. I mean, what?

Mark Verheiden: What was your first comic book?

RT:"Supergirl" #3. I tried picking it up at the grocery store and my Grandma made me put it back because someone got an icicle to the eye. I don't get it.

Mark Verheiden: What was your second?

RT:An issue of "Daredevil" by Joe Kelly where Matt gets a facial on the first page. I don't remember anything else about it. I also picked it up at the newsstand and had to put it back.

Mark Verheiden: Third?

RT:Electo-Supes' first appearance.

Mark Verheiden: Fourth?

RT:An issue of "The Long Halloween."

Mark Verheiden: Fifth?


Mark Verheiden: Sixth?

RT:Stop this, my brain hurts!

Mark Verheiden: Seventh?

RT:That dripping sound you are hearing are the brains literally dripping out of my ears.

Mark Verheiden: Moral conundrum. You're given a choice: you can save your best friend's life, or you can keep your comic book collection. How do you break the bad news to your pal?

RT:I wouldn't, I'd just throw him into the flames, laugh and grab my comic box.

Greg Land: What is your favorite muscle car from the '60s or '70s and why?

RT:My answer is the Buick Gran Sport and the answer is very simple: the car quite possibly has the coolest-looking design from the '60s and exudes coolness.

Greg Land: Was that you in the original "Time Machine" movie?

RT:No, but that was me banging Greta Garbo in "Camille."

Ron Marz: So on the morning you were supposed to start you internship for Wizard, you couldn't find the office and called me in a blind panic - despite the fact that I live about two hours from the Wizard office.

RT:Ah yes. It wasn't a good morning.

Ron Marz: What I want to know is, did you really get attacked in the woods by a wild turkey?

RT:Okay, here's the story. I used Mapquest to get directions from the hotel I stayed at over the summer to the Wizard building, but the street Wizard is located on is split in half at the center by the really stupid twenty foot deep wooded area. There are two dead-ends and I was on the wrong side of the dead end and had no idea where the hell I was supposed to go. I called Ron and a few other creators on the off chance they might know how to get to the building, and they were no help (sorry Ron), and finally got out of my car and looked through the wooded area and saw the building through the trees.

Instead of doing the sensible thing and driving around the woods to the building, I decided to park on the street and walk through the woods. At some point I began to step on a wild turkey, which was none too pleased. I wouldn't say it attacked me, but it did squawk and flutter around for several seconds while I screamed like Jennifer Love Hewitt in "I Know What You Did Last Summer."

Ron Marz: Everybody in America watches drivel like "American Idol," but we can't get most of them to even look twice at a comic. Do comics just need more Paula Abdul?

RT:Remember that K.I.S.S. comic where the ink was made out of some blood from them? Now if we could get Paula to donate a pint and put it into everyone's favorite underselling comics, then we'd have multiple sellouts.

Ron Marz: Quick, the building is one fire, and you're trapped inside with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kristen Bell and Joss Whedon! You can only save one of them. Who is it?

RT:Crap. Uh, well, I'm thinking Kristen Bell and Sarah Michelle Gellar weigh about a hundred pounds combined, so I probably could save both of them by putting one under each arm. And then get a TV movie of the week out of it.

Ron Marz: Robert, it's time for the lightning round.

RT:Sock 'em to me, Ron.

Ron Marz: What comics can you never miss?

RT:The drawn ones.

Ron Marz: What is your biggest strength as a writer?

RT:Bringing my personality to my articles and interviews without making it seem too jarring.

Ron Marz: What is your biggest weakness?

RT:Someone is going to call me on this now that I've said it. When I get bored during interviews, I begin to say "mmmHMMM" rather loudly in the background. I started noticing this when I was transcribing one day and I held the final HMMMM so long that I couldn't make out a couple words from the creator.

Ron Marz: So you are doing a weekly comic with four other writers. Who are they?

RT:Tony Bedard, Mike Carey, Jeph Loeb and Ron Marz.

Ron Marz: Has there ever been a comic that touched or changed your life?

RT:Yes, "Superman" #153 by Jeph Loeb and Mike McKone. After my grandfather died I was reading through it, and the inner monologue of Lois struck a chord with me and I incorporated the idea of using the number -30- to denote the end of a story in my speech at his funeral. I will always be in Jeph's debt for that magical story.

Ron Marz: If you could only write one book for the rest of your career, what would you want it to be?

RT:"Justice League of America." I have years' worth of stories in my brain.

Ron Marz: Who would be your artistic partner?

RT:I'm going to take the cop out answer so many creators do and say each storyline will have a different artist.

Ron Marz: What's the best comic book movie ever made?

RT:"Superman The Movie"

Ron Marz: If you were remembered for only one thing in your career, what would you want it to be?

RT:That I actually wrote some great comics. At some point.

Ron Marz: The last time you did one of these columns, it ended with egregious profanity. What's the plan this time?

RT:How the fuck should I know? Oh, is that the last question?

I'd like to give a big round of applause in thanks to all the creators who helped out with the column, I am forever grateful for their help and support! And, of course,

Next Week: Charlie Huston!

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