Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chad's Jackass Comic Creator Interviews from 2001: Steven Grant

[Continuing my embarrassing series where I post interviews I did with comic creators in late 2001. I was 18 and kind of a douche, okay? I really like this interview, because Grant has no patience for my idiocy. New posts Monday, Wednesday and Friday.]

Interview With . . . Steven Grant!
This is the guy who wrote, under Warren Ellis at first and later on his own, one of my favourite titles from Marvel ever: X-Man after Ellis did his Counter-X thing. “Finally!” I said, “Something new and different.” It was out with the old and in with the Shaman for Mutanity. I highly recommend everyone go out and get it. I’ve also been a fan of Grant’s Master of the Obvious column over at It’s good and just ended, with Grant now starting a new column entitles Permanent Damage.

Me: Tell us about yourself.

Grant: Born Madison, Wisconsin; grew up in the late 60s with lots of involvement in sex, drugs, rock’n’roll & politics; went to University of Wisconsin and became a film and music critic for local papers. Moved to NYC in 1978, started doing odd jobs for Marvel Comics while working as writer for Trouser Press magazine. Moved around, both my home and my career, ever since: Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, DC, First, Dark Horse, TSR, Vortex, Wildstorm, Eclipse, Tekno, Capital, Chaos, etc. etc. I can no longer keep track of all the companies I've written for. It's been an interesting enough life to live, but it's pretty dull to talk about.

Me: How did you get interested in writing?

Grant: Dunno. Just always did it. Certainly reading comic books from an early age helped. But I was always reading books; I started reading novels before I started reading comics. If you're around stories enough you start generating stories.

Me: What have you written?

Grant: Gobs of work for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and others over the years. Let's stick with what I've created: WHISPER at Capital (which went to First). BADLANDS at Vortex (which went to Dark Horse). ENEMY and OUT FOR BLOOD at Dark Horse. DAMNED at Wildstorm/Vertigo. PSYCHOBLAST and TWILIGHT MAN at First. MANHUNTER (a later version) at DC. Also did X at Dark Horse and the last year of X-MAN at Marvel, but I didn't create either of those.

Me: What are you currently working on?

Grant: Two graphic novels for AIT/PlanetLar Books, including a WHISPER graphic novel. Three graphic novels for Platinum Books: SOCORRO; PALADINS; and GUILTY. A Superman graphic novel at DC that was begun with Gil Kane -- it was Gil's idea -- and is now being drawn by John Buscema. Odd jobs at Marvel and DC. I've been doing some film work and prose fiction as well lately. And I'm writing the new column PERMANENT DAMAGE at CBR.

Me: Did you find it weird that Joe Quesada came into Marvel speaking of doing comics differently and then
cancelled X-Man, which was probably the most different title Marvel had at the time?

Grant: Not really. While I probably would've kept it around, I understood the reasoning behind it. Bill and Joe are rebuilding the company around the X-books. If I'm trying to get people involved in the X-books and I drop something in front of them like X-MAN that's totally removed from the X-books, it's just going to bewilder them. So I don't really fault their decision, though I wish they'd made a different one. X-MAN was being done differently, but it wasn't being done in the way Joe and Bill meant differently. A subtle but important distinction.

Me: In one of your Master of the Obvious columns you made several predictions and later when it was re-ran asked the readers to judge how right you were. How right do you think you've been so far?

Grant: I haven't really been keeping track. Besides, it doesn't matter what the score is at halftime, it matters what the score is when the game's over, and the game isn't anywhere near over yet.

Me: How far ahead of posting do you generally write a column?

Grant: 3-6 hours, usually.

Me: Boxers or briefs?

Grant: None of your business.

Me: Cats or dogs?

Grant: At this stage in my life, I'd just as soon have no pets at all. Saying “cats or dogs?” is like saying “blondes or brunettes?” Depends on the specific blonde or brunette.

Me: Summer or winter?

Grant: Autumn.

Me: Any cool stories involving a chick?

Grant: Except that we don't call them “chicks” anymore, sure.

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

Grant: Untraceable bullets only exist in fiction. Anyway, I'd never shoot anybody. Even my worst enemies I don't have any great compulsion to shoot, and I don't believe in restructuring governments through the barrel of the gun, so who else is there? I like target shooting, though. I'd riddle a handful of targets on a firing range with them.

Me: Who are some of your favourite writers?

Grant: My favourite comics writer these days is probably Warren Ellis. I find pretty much anything Warren writes tremendously entertaining. William Gaddis is my favourite novelist. J.G. Ballard, James Ellroy, Malcolm Lowry. I don't really follow authors much anymore. I read specific books for specific information or other purposes, but usually not solely because I like the author's work. Most modern fiction is pretty pathetic, really.

Me: Who is your hero?
Grant: Phil Ochs is the closest anyone comes to being my hero.

Me: If you could have one person, living or dead over to supper, who would it be?

Grant: What are you, Barbara Walters? Why not just ask what my favourite color is? I don't even like to eat with people I know. You never know what anyone's table manners will be like. For that reason, probably Gandhi, since odds are he wouldn't eat.

Me: How much of X-Man was you and how much Warren?

Grant: Warren conceived the new direction, loosely outlined it, pretty tightly wrote out the opening sequence with Mr. Scratch and Mr. Forge, though I shuffled the dialogue around and added some of my own. The rest was fairly sketchy, with Warren setting up specific dialogue here and there, but he really didn't have much input past the first issue of the second arc, and no input at all into the final arc and the final issue. But it was his idea, and it was a great idea.

Me: What's the one comic you want to work on?

Grant: The next one I think up. And I want to work on it within a month of thinking it up, not three or four years. As for other people's characters, I'll work on them, but I don't have any crushing urge to work on any specific one. I'd rather create my own.

Me: Which artists do you really want to work with that you haven't already?

Grant: Oh, gobs of those. Anyone whose work has intelligence and distinctive style, really. That's what I look for in comics art, since storytelling is really a function of intelligence. Smarter artists may not necessarily draw better, but they tell stories better.

Me: Who do you love?

Grant: Again, none of your business. I don't really discuss my personal life.

Me: Any final words?

Grant: Not really, thanks. After writing MASTER OF THE OBVIOUS (soon to be collected by Larry Young at AIT/PlanetLar) for two years, I've pretty much said everything I can say about comics.