Many folks that I have met in the comic industry are multi-tasking, multi-talented people. Case in point: writer/critic Jamie S. Rich. When Jamie S. Rich is not writing graphic novels (his and Joëlle Jones’ You Have Killed Memade my top books for 2009 at Robot 6), his critical analysis can frequently be read at DVD Talk or at his own blog, Confessions of A Pop Fan. I recently email interviewed him to get some of the thinking behind his critical analysis.
Tim O’Shea: In a recent post, on the topic of best of 2009 movie lists you wrote: “in case you’re not sick of best-of lists yet (I’ve avoided most, and it’s still like a lot of white noise to me)”. What annoyed you about from a most of the best of movie lists from 2009?
Jamie S. Rich: It’s nothing about any specific choices, it’s just that there is so many lists out there now, the chorus has gotten too large. There is no definitive voice, no standards. I mean, there are now lists just to keep up with the lists, a conglomeration of top 10s and top 15s and the like. What with the end of the decade countdowns also going on, I am just at a loss to see what purpose it serves anymore. I’m not a big fan of crowdsourcing, because I think that it eventually kills the formation of legitimate opinions. Even before that was a term, you could see how certain lines of thinking took root and critics and fans alike would start parroting one another. It’s something I wrote about when I reviewed the most recent DVD release of The Godfather trilogy. People don’t bother to watch the third one and react to it in their own way, they already have the common thinking to draw on. It’s like, right now, I can log on to Facebook, and I’ll see ten updates in my friends list about Avatar, and all say the same thing. “Looked great, but the story was boring,” like this is some new opinion of great value. Okay, sure, and…?
Alisa Kwitney is writer who I have respected since her days as an editor and writer at Vertigo. So a few months back, while visiting Kwitney’s website to see what upcoming projects she had, I contacted her for an email interview. She was kind enough to accept the offer. We cover a range of topics in our exchange, but first a snippet of her official bio: “Alisa has written some half a dozen novels, two coffee table books, and assorted comics and graphic novels. Her novels, which have been described as ‘romances laced with satire and a mainstream flair’ (Library Journal) have been translated into Russian, German, Japanese, Norwegian and Bahasa Indonesian. She also writes dark fantasy/paranormal romance and science fiction under the name Alisa Sheckley.” My thanks to Kwitney for her time and damn fine sense of humor.
Tim O’Shea: Why do you make a divide between your work as Alisa Kwitney and Alisa Sheckley?
Alisa Kwitney: It actually wasn’t my idea – I was asked by my agent and encouraged by editors to publish The Better to Hold You and Moonburn under a different name. But I did think that they made a good point when they said it might confuse readers of my more realistic novels to discover that I had werewolves wandering around in these books.
O’Shea: Do you consider the two identities to have separate writing ”voices”?
Alisa: Well, in some ways, no. I think my voice, my sense of humor and my themes come through pretty consistently, whether I’m writing about scuba divers and driving instructors or shapeshifters and mad scientists. And I would argue that some of my Kwitney novels actually contain a fair amount of darkness and angst, while my Sheckley books have some Fawlty Towers style romantic farce – the whole man/dog dichotomy really lends itself to absurd situations. On the other hand, I did let myself go darker with the Sheckley books, because I was playing in the horror side of the playground.