Archive for March, 2009
Yesterday I featured the first part of an interview regarding the Lee Weeks installment of TwoMorrows’ Modern Masters series. The first part was with Tom Field. This second part focuses on Eric Nolen-Weathington, the co-author of the Weeks book, as well as the designer and editor behind the entire Modern Masters’ series. It’s always a pleasure to interview Nolen-Weathington, so I was game to also discuss another book that Nolen-Weathington co-authored: Nick Cardy: Behind The Art, a work that goes beyond Cardy’s comics work and into his commercial illustration career.
Tim O’Shea: Do you think you could have been able to do the Weeks book without Tom Field’s involvement? Were you afraid that because Weeks and Field were such old and close friends it might make it harder for Field to ask tough questions in the process? Or due to the nature of these books (which intend to honor modern masters) is there ever a need to ask tough questions, per se? (feel free to tweek this question if need be).
Eric Nolen-Weathington: Yes, I do think I could have gotten Lee without Tom’s involvement, as I know several artists who are friends with Lee. And Lee was already on my list of guys I wanted to cover at some point. What Tom’ pitch really did was move Lee off the “sooner or later” list and onto the actual schedule.
Tom had already done a book for TwoMorrows on Gene Colan, Secrets in the Shadows: The Art and Life of Gene Colan, which I feel is one of the best books TwoMorrows has published. That was all I needed to know that he would do a good job with the interview. And having known Lee since childhood, I think Tom knew exactly where that line was of what he could ask and what he shouldn’t. The result is one of the most honest, open interviews of the series thus far.
Lee Weeks is an artist that you don’t see a great many articles about. While he’s an incredibly talented artist, the way he has conducted his career–on his own terms and in a modest manner–has kept him out of the spotlight (as compared to many of his contemporaries. So months ago when I found out that Tom Field and Eric Nolen-Weathington had devoted a volume of the Modern Master series to Weeks, I was eager to interview them. And then…my disorganized nature misplaced this interview. My apologies to Field and Nolen-Weathington for the delay. (This interview was conducted in early December 2008, well before I joined Robot 6 and that’s why I am running a comics interview here for the first time in awhile.) To make it up to these fine fellows, I will be splitting this interview into two parts. Part one will be with Field and the second part, which will run tomorrow, will be with Nolen-Weathington and will delve into other projects of his.
But before jumping into this first part, in case you don’t know Weeks’ work, here is some info courtesy of TwoMorrows: “Weeks is the consummate storyteller. Over the course of his twenty-five-year-plus career, he has proven this again and again. His ability to create dynamic, interesting layouts, plus his strong draftsmanship, and wonderful sense of lighting made his runs on Daredevil, Captain America, Spider-Man: Death and Destiny (which he also wrote) and The Incredible Hulk fan favorites, and his artwork for Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet is among the most finely crafted in the character’s history.”
Tim O’Shea: Given that you and Lee Weeks are old friends, were you afraid you were too close to him to be able to create a good book?
Tom Field: Actually, I looked at it just the opposite way — that because I *did* know him well, I could do a better book because I’d know the best topics to ask him about. I could get a little deeper than ‘Which character have you always wanted to draw?,’ y’know? We did speak upfront about what we wanted to stress in the interviews — topics we did/did not want to pay much attention to — but our friendship was never a challenge. Quite the opposite. I think it was a major strength.
The most recent episode (#148) is a Ten Out of Tenn (as in Tennessee) showcase special, featuring performances by Butterfly Boucher; Trent Dabbs; Erin McCarley; K.S. Rhoads; Jeremy Lister; Katie Herzig; Tyler James; Andy Davis; Griffin House and Matthew Perryman Jones.
Nothing like a late Sunday night drive listening to good music. Thanks Shelby.
Scott Shimamoto is a home mortgage consultant who describes himself as a “black man trapped inside an Asian, who grew up with Mexicans and is trying to make it in a white man’s world”.
Paula Johnson is a marketing consultant who has written more than 40 funny radio spots, and often infuses her client projects with humor.
Together they created The Joke Gym, an open mic night in Arcadia, California, that has presented more than 140 comics since February 2008. While both had experience planning special events, The Joke Gym is the first time either of them has managed an ongoing production. My thanks to them both for this email interview. (Photo by Two Story Building)
Tim O’Shea: Both of you started doing stand-up in 2007. What made you want to try comedy?
Paula Johnson: For me, it was an accident. I was in charge of the silent auction at charity event at The Ice House in Pasadena, California. I bid on lots of items to get the prices up. At the end of the evening, I was the winning bidder on a stand-up comedy class. It was kind of a shock because I assumed I’d be taking home a martini-making kit.
Scott Shimamoto: I was always the smallest kid in school, so it was either get my butt kicked by the big guys or make ‘em laugh. It was much easier to make ‘em laugh! Taking a comedy class was a natural next step.
Johnson: Scott and I met when we sat next to each other in class.
Shimamoto: In the front row, dead center.
Johnson: We both wanted to be the valedictorian—which they don’t actually have in stand-up school.
As far as I’m concerned, San Francisco Chronicle movie critic Mick LaSalle is the Roger Ebert of the West Coast. So I was ecstatic when he agreed to an email interview recently. Here’s LaSalle’s bio “Mick LaSalle is the film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, and the author of two books on pre-Production Code movies, Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood, and Dangerous Men: Pre-Code Hollywood and the Birth of the Modern Man. Both were published by St. Martin’s Press. The Turner Classic Movies documentary, Complicated Women, narrated by Jane Fonda, debuted in 2003.” In addition to discussing these efforts, I got to talk to him about his upcoming book, as well as his blog, Maximum Strength Mick, his podcast and his column, Ask Mick LaSalle.
Tim O’Shea: Thanks to DVDs, would you say there more pre-code films available for purchase or rental in recent years?
Mick LaSalle: Yes — there’s the FORBIDDEN HOLLYWOOD series, various musical series that bring out pre-Codes, and a terrific set from Universal coming out in April. Still, to really see pre-Codes, you need to have cable and Turner Classic Movies.
O’Shea: Since the mass availability of pre-code films has increased, would you ever consider revising your two pre-code books, Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood, and Dangerous Men: Pre-Code Hollywood and the Birth of the Modern Man?
LaSalle: I would consider it, but it probably wouldn’t happen. Of the two, the one I’d like to revise is COMPLICATED WOMEN, because I wrote it very quickly. (I researched it a long time — and for a long time before that, when I didn’t know I was researching it — but once I had the book deal, I only had eight months to turn in the manuscript.) Plus, I was under the impression that I had to strictly adhere to the 65,000 word limit that was in the contract. Had I to do it over, I’d have added about 10,000 words, mainly about actresses besides Garbo and Shearer.
Novelist Tod Goldberg entered my realm of knowledge through my appreciation for the USA Network show, Burn Notice. In August 2008, Goldberg saw the release of The Fix, his first original Burn Notice novel (one of three that he is contracted to write; Burn Notice: The End Game [his second Burn Notice novel] will be released in May 2009). I was fortunate enough to email interview him about his career to date, including his upcoming second collection of short stories, Other Resort Cities (set for release in October 2009).
Before jumping into the interview, here’s his full bio from his site: “Goldberg is the author of the novels Living Dead Girl (Soho Press), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Fake Liar Cheat (Pocket Books/MTV), Burn Notice: The Fix (Penguin) and the short story collection Simplify (OV Books), a 2006 finalist for the SCBA Award for Fiction and winner of the Other Voices Short Story Collection Prize. His short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Other Voices, Santa Monica Review, The Sun and Las Vegas Noir (Akashic), twice receiving Special Mention for the Pushcart Prize. His essays and nonfiction have appeared widely, including in the anthologies When I Was A Loser (Free Press), Don’t You Forget About Me: Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes (Simon & Schuster), and Off The Page: Writers Talk About Beginnings, Endings and Everything In Between (WW Norton). A contributing writer for a number of magazines and newspapers, Tod’s journalism and criticism frequently appears in the Los Angeles Times, Las Vegas CityLife, Palm Springs Life, E! and many other publications, and have earned three Nevada Press Association awards for excellence. Tod Goldberg is currently the Administrative Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts at the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert Graduate Center and previously taught creative writing at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, where he was named the 2005 Outstanding Instructor of the Year. He lives in La Quinta, CA with his wife, the writer Wendy Duren.”
Tim O’Shea: Last August you wrote in the LA Times about why–after writing three novels–you chose to write a Burn Notice novel. What were some of the more unique responses in the literary community (or in other circles you travel) regarding the piece?
Tod Goldberg: It was overwhelmingly positive, really, so that was unique in and of itself. Writing is a profession and sometimes you do different things just to see if you can, if you’re any good at it, if it might be another way of doing your job. In this case, I’d always wanted to do some straight crime writing (versus, say, the terribly depressing criminal behavior I normally catalog in my fiction…) and doing it in a fashion where I was assured an audience seemed to strike people as fairly savvy. Mostly, though, I think they just found it funny. I had a ton of other information from Max Allan Collins that I would have loved to have used about his experience writing tie-ins and such, but his story about writing the novelization of Road to Perdition (which was adapted from his graphic comic…and then which he adapted from the original screenplay) was by far the most horrifying.