Friday, January 25, 2008

Chad's Jackass Comic Creator Interviews from 2001: Tom Peyer

[The first in a series of posts containing old interviews I did with comic creators in late 2001. New posts Monday, Wednesday and Friday.]

Okay, this is the first interview I've posted. Back in 2001, I had begun writing an online column each week called "Shut Up and Listen." At some point, I had the bright idea of seeing if comic creators would let me interview them. It turns out that getting a comic creator to answer your questions is pretty easy: you e-mail them and they say yes (except for a few who declined). As you will see, I had a lovely balance of almost-insightful question and just pure jackassery. I find these interviews a little embarrassing (particularly two question that I always asked--I was 18 and stupid), but, hey, that's what the internet is for, right?

I'm presenting these interviews in the rough order in which they happened, complete with my original introductions. Enjoy.


Interview With . . . Tom Peyer!
I was bored one night so I thought I’d e-mail a few famous writers and ask if they wouldn’t mind me interviewing them. Then it came down to which writers’ e-mails I knew. Tom’s is easy enough to find what with his forum on and his monthly chats on the Authority boards. I asked him and he said yes. When I got the answers to my questions back I noticed in one I may have offended Tom, that and I wanted a better answer, so I resent the question and rephrased it. You can see the results in the interview, but the best part was when he sent back that question again he called me Craig. I love that! Now I can say a famous writer got my name wrong. It’s so cool. And now for the interview.

Me: Tell us a little about yourself.

Peyer: Born in Syracuse, NY. Moved to NYC to edit comics for DC; went freelance and moved to South Florida. Hated it there. Came back to Syracuse, a great place.

Me: How did you become a writer?

Peyer: I was a newspaper cartoonist locally, and a comic book writer, Roger Stern, followed my stuff. When he found himself over committed at one point, he asked me to help him get the work out. Being a great guy, he talked me up to his editor and helped me get work of my own.

Me: What have you written?

Peyer: Hourman, The Authority, DC 2000, Justice Leagues (the bookends to a recent JLA stunt-month), Smash Comics, Cruel & Unusual, Totems, Doom Patrol (for last year's Silver Age month at DC), Magnus Robot Fighter, Legion of Super-Heroes, Legionnaires, L.E.G.I.O.N., R.E.B.E.L.S., The Atom, Marvel Team-Up, Quicksilver, X-Nation 2099, Doom 2099, Titans, the odd Impulse, Supergirl and Superman stories, some 80-Page Giant shorts . . . Quite a bit of stuff, I guess.

Me: How did you land the Authority gig?

Peyer: Mark Millar recommended me.

Me: What are you working on right now?

Peyer: The Punisher.

Me: Do you find it intimidating to be following writers like Garth Ennis and Mark Millar on books?

Peyer: I find it stimulating. When I come onto an existing series I have to read the back issues. It really helps if they're fun to read, and Garth and Mark in particular write funnier stuff than nearly anyone.

Me: Boxers or briefs?

Peyer: Cellophane.

Me: Summer or winter?

Peyer: We have hot & humid summers here that would peel the paint off a house, and winters a person is lucky to get out of alive. Like I said, Syracuse is a great place.

Me: Cats or dogs?

Peyer: I like them both, but I love my dog, Lucy.

Me: Got any cool stories involving a chick?

Peyer: Queen Victoria was never let out of anyone's sight until she became queen at age 18. The first thing she did as queen was get her own room.

Me: I just gave you a case full of 100 untraceable bullets like in 100 Bullets, who do you use them on?

Peyer: 100 cans of Utica Club beer, previously emptied by yours truly and several chosen pals.

Me: What comics are you currently digging?

Peyer: Outlaw Nation, New X-Men, X-Force, Punisher, JLA, Authority. And I loved the Atom Archives.

Me: Who are your favourite writers? Comics, prose, whatever.

Peyer: Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan, Mark Millar, Steve Gerber, Arnold Drake, Bob Haney, William Burroughs, P.G. Wodehouse, Ishmael Reed, Christopher Hitchens. My God . . . they're all men. I've got to read some women writers and fast.

Me: What is the one comic you desperately want to do?

Peyer: I've always wanted to take a crack at the Fantastic Four, particularly Ben Grimm, who is one of the greatest characters of all time. But the word “desperately” doesn't really fit.

Me: Who is your hero?

Peyer: The late I.F. Stone, last of the great American journalists. He had the skill to work for anyone and make as much money as he wanted, but instead he published himself in this rinky-dink little newsletter, I.F. Stone's Weekly, just so no employer could keep him from telling the truth as he saw it. Journalism is in such bad shape right now (in fact, by comparison, comics are enjoying a renaissance), it's comforting to remember that it once did, and still could do, its job.

Me: You were involved with that Morrison/Waid Superman pitch a few years ago, right? We know that DC's rejection really through Morrison and Waid for a loop, did it affect you in the same way?

Peyer: The way that question is phrased, I can't think of any way to answer it both directly and truthfully. It feels like you're lighting a fuse and standing back, hoping for a big explosion.

[Note: the next question was asked later via e-mail after every other question was answered. I wanted to clear things up and possibly get an answer. And this is when he called me Craig.]

Me: Would it be better if I asked how it affected you? I don't mean to cause trouble, I was just wondering really.

Peyer: No hard feelings. You can run the question and answer as is, or if you're not comfortable with that, here's another answer: I don't publicly comment on matters like this. The people I do business with have a right to expect that our dealings occur, and will remain, just between us.

Me: Do you have as much of a militant stance against editors as some writers?

Peyer: I've never heard of any writers with a militant stance against editors. A writer and editor's job is to please themselves, each other and the reader. It's not always easy, but it's achievable. There's no reason to leave anyone out.

Me: Who would you really like to work with?

Peyer: That I haven't worked with already? Chris Weston, Steve Pugh, Steve Ditko. I'm sure there are others.

Me: Who do you love?

Peyer: Everybody in the whole wide world.

Me: Any final words?

Peyer: We're lucky to have comics. They're entertaining. They communicate ideas and feelings as well as any other medium. When we allow ourselves a relationship with our favourite characters and creators, we're undermining the loneliness and alienation that has engulfed the larger culture for over 50 years. Don't let anyone make you feel ashamed to read comics. Don't feel like they have to be enshrined as fine art or taught in universities to be worthwhile. They're just fine without anyone's help, and especially without anyone's approval.