My dear Fandomania readers! It is a red-letter day for this nerd girl right here because G4’s resident comics maven, Blair Butler, took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for the site and share her thoughts on making movies out of comics, the rise of the digital comic, and what her theme song to taking out the walking dead would be.
Summer: Hi, Blair! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for the readers of Fandomania! As a fan of your work myself, I’m very grateful for this opportunity.
Blair: My pleasure!
SS: To start off, how awesome is it to have a career that involves something you’re passionate about? As someone who is working toward obtaining that, I can only imagine that even on the off days it still beats working a job you hate just to pay bills.
BB: Oh, believe me, I feel incredibly lucky. And extra blessed that G4 lets me spotlight books like Fun Home, Asterios Polyp, Wilson, Battlefields: The Night Witches, and The Alcoholic on the show — along with the more “mainstream” stuff. If I could go back in time and tell my 12-year-old self that a large part of my day job would involve reading comics, twelve year old “me” would flip out — and probably bend the spine of my beloved ’80s New Mutants floppies in the process.
SS: Back when you first were getting into comics, did you ever think they’d be as big of a cash cow for Hollywood as they are now?
BB: I had no idea. It’s a case of technology finally catching up to the human imagination. I mean, the most I could ever hope for, when I was a kid, was to see my favorite characters animated “fairly well.” I watched the VHS version of 1989’s animated Pryde of the X-Men so much the tape wore out — because it looked a hell of a lot better than all those old “Spidey and His Amazing Friends” cartoons.
SS: Do you think making comics into summer blockbuster movies helps or hurts the actual comic book industry (i.e., the comics publishing side of the business, not the “entertainment”)?
BB: I don’t really think it hurts the industry. I think it does lead to a few more comics on the shelves that seem like calculated movie pitches — though I think most readers can see through that. But I also think that the added media attention helps the guys and gals working in the comics industry to get a little extra revenue if they win the “option” lotto — and that’s a good thing. Especially creator-owned or small press stuff. So many of those books are a labor of love, and if something like Scott Pilgrim gets made, I think that’s awesome for both the creator and publishers — and the fans. There are plenty of other books that haven’t fared so well in their transition from page to screen — but at the end of the day, my hope is that even bad films and TV shows will draw people back to the source material. Perhaps that’s naïve — but for everyone who saw the Hex or Whiteout movies, I’d love to be able to say, “Yes, the film was not so good — but have you read the comic? It’s fantastic.”
SS: How do you feel about digital comics? Do you think they’ll ever make the hard copy comics obsolete?
BB: I don’t think a digital tablet will ever replace the joy of having a nice, new floppy filled with great art in my hands, or the self-satisfied nerd glee that comes with having an Absolute Edition on your bookshelf. But I do think that, despite many creators’ well-founded fears of piracy, digital comics can — and will — expand the install base for comics. I think you’ll find people who haven’t picked up a comic in years — let alone set foot into their local comic retailer — giving a free first issue of The Walking Dead or Y: The Last Man a try on their iPad. And my hope is that those first, digital tastes of “sequential art” goodness will get them to read and/or legally download more comics — and maybe even get those new readers into their local shops to seek out the most recent issue of that iPad comic they’re now hooked on. Let’s all cross our fingers and pray for that.
SS: Which do you think is more important in a comic: the art or the writing?
BB: They both have to work together — like riders on a tandem bike — or you’re going to be weaving all over the place and face-planting by the side of the road. Look at a comic like Locke & Key, or Grant Morrison and Frazier Irving’s current arc on Batman & Robin. Both those books have a creative team working in visual and narrative harmony — and they’re immensely compelling as a result.
Still, having witnessed the horrific comics collapse of the ’90s, I firmly believe that great art can’t save a terrible, derivative story. I’m not naming names, but I think we all know that the early ’90s were years of style over substance — and as a result the whole industry fell apart. Still, I’ve seen good comics pulled down by sub-par art — and crappy plots elevated by the work of a talented artist. But on those occasions where everything is humming — it’s a transcendent reading experience. All Star Superman comes to mind, as do Planetary and Y: The Last Man.
SS: You don’t seem to the aggressive type, so I was very surprised to read on your Twitter feed that you’re into MMA/UFC. Was that something you’ve always been into or is it something you’ve just gotten into recently?
BB: I will admit that ever since the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, I’ve been hooked. I think I actually rented one or two of the early UFC fights on VHS — the Ken Shamrock stuff. But I’ve become a bit obsessed by it lately. Those mixed martial arts dudes (and ladies) are built like actual superheroes. If Batman were real, he’d be training MMA. And he’d be putting the Joker in an omoplata.
SS: Zombie Apocalypse is in full swing and you’re something of a legend zombie killer amongst the survivors. What’s your theme song and weapon of choice to play/use while plowing a path through a hoard of the flesh-eating walking dead?
BB: Oooh. I want to go after the walking dead with Sideshow Collectibles replica of Thor’s Hammer. That would be impractical — but freakin’ awesome. As for a zombie-killing theme song… it’s gotta be “Brick House” by the Commodores. Even if I’m not built like one — it’d be the perfect soundtrack for ass-kicking in the apocalypse.
SS: What’s your favorite game right now?
BB: Just finished Red Dead Redemption. The ending was — I won’t spoil it — but, wow. Now, I’m waiting for Fallout: New Vegas, Dead Space 2, and Fable 3. Oh, and Bioshock: Infinite. The first Bioshock, Resident Evil 4, and Portal are my favorite games of all time.
SS: What comic series do you think people are missing out on if they haven’t read it already?
BB: Daytripper. It’s an incredibly moving, life-affirming comic about death. One of the best things I’ve read in ages. An Asterios Polyp level of awesome. Also, Scalped is incredible. And I have to assume anyone reading this article already knows about The Walking Dead — but if you aren’t reading it, you’re missing out.
SS: And, finally, if the immovable Blob and the unstoppable Juggernaut go head-to-head, do you think comic fans will ever stop asking each other “who would win in a fight” questions?
BB: Dude, those two mutants just need to hug it out. Everybody, just hug it out. And then get back to debating the real issue: Who would win in a fight — Batman or Darth Vader?
Thanks again to Blair for being the awesome lady that she is and for taking the time to answer a few questions. You can catch Blair on G4 or the Fresh Ink Podcast where she dishes about what comics came out that week.