Robot Roulette | James Asmus

Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.

Trying his luck today is writer and comedian James Asmus, who you know from Gambit, Thief of Thieves and the just-released The End Times of Bram & Ben.

Now let’s get to it …


4. What's the worst job you've ever had (comic industry or otherwise)?

Well, the boring answer is the paper route I had as a kid -– wholly because I am not a morning person.

But the more interesting runner-up is probably my time as a nude model for art classes (mostly attended by senior citizens) in Evanston, Ill. I didn’t care about the being naked part, so much as holding one pose for an hour and half. I didn’t have a car, so it was a pain in the ass to get to -– all for something like 50 bucks. But I just moved to Chicago, needed the money, and I could basically work whenever it fit my schedule. Still, there might still be some naked drawings of my floating around the Chicago suburbs ...

10. Who is your favorite band/musical performer, and why are they your favorite?

This is tough to answer. But I’ll go with Andrew Bird. He’s one of a few artists I’m happy to put on almost any day, any mood. His best stuff is intoxicating, and his worst stuff is merely “very good.” But beyond his insane musicianship, intelligently intriguing lyrics, and champion whistling skills -– he regularly goes to an aesthetic place that I fall for every time: a warm, welcoming, even appealing veneer -– but once you really look at what is being said, you see it’s about darker truths. As an example: Bird’s song “Immitosis” is a heady pop song who’s thesis is “We’re all basically alone.” And he’s able to make me enjoy that bleak perspective. That’s an artist after my own heart. (And to think – he started out as the violinist for Squirrel Nut Zippers!)

If you’re interested in trying an album, I’d recommend starting with either The Mysterious Production of Eggs or Armchair Apocrypha.

16. What's the best part of being a creator?

Seeing a collaborator improve on what I wrote. Getting brilliant art back from guys like Clay Mann, Shawn Martinbrough, Francesco Francavilla or Rem Broo (buy End Times from Image!) -- they add so much imagination, texture and emotion to things that it transforms my ideas into something richer than what I imagined. (And couldn’t have happened without them.)

It’s a very similar to working with great actors, directors and composers on new plays. I’ve been lucky to work with people who make me look good and teach me about my own writing at the same time.

28. Based on where you live right now, what's the farthest you've ever been from home, and why did you go there?

Amsterdam! My then-girlfriend-now-wife Mara and I took a trip to see the city and visit my composer/collaborator Julie Nichols. It was a great trip -– even without partaking in hash bars or legal prostitutes.

35. What is your all-time favorite TV show?

This is even harder than the music one! So I’m going to cheat and break this down by category -–

GENRE: Buffy the Vampire SlayerCOMEDY: Kids In the HallDRAMA: The WireCARTOON: ... I can’t pick just one. But 80s GI Joe, Batman TAS, Gargoyles, The Tick and Adventure Time would be in the running.

36. How old were you when you started reading comics, and who introduced them to you?

I was maybe 8. I was at Cleveland’s West Side Market with my dad (who had read some comics in his childhood, but it didn’t stick). I spotted the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League #24 at a newsstand and recognized characters from the late 80s Justice League/New Gods cartoon and toy line, and he bought it for me. From there I was hooked. My dad was taking me out regularly to shops collect baseball cards at shops that also had comics (very strange bedfellows, thinking back on it). I started using my allowance to pick up comics when I could, and never looked back.

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