Monday, September 13, 2010

Questions 1: Jeff Parker

Since this is the Portland Comics blog about the fantastic Portland comics community,  I felt I should to put together a questionnaire/Interview with a local artists.
Jeff Parker, originally from North Carolina, is currently working on Agents of Atlas, Thunder Bolts, and The Hulk for Marvel.     I think I encountered Jeff Parker when I read his fantastic Mysterious the Unfathomable and Agents of Atlas.  I loved both for different reasons; Mysterious for being a crazy story about a crazy magician, and I loved Agents of Atlas for bringing together these golden-age characters from the 50's, revive them, and putting them into an engaging action adventure.    Both had beautiful art and great characters.    Both were unusual and eclectic. 

Jeff currently lives in Portland and is a member of Periscope Studio.    He released Underground with Steve Lieber, also of Periscope Studio.  He has also written for Marvel,  DC, Virgin, Image and Malibu.    He worked for DC on the the impossible to find series Big Book of.., Weirdos, the 70's, The Unexplained, etc.      Remember I told you to read Agents of Atlas.

DD:   What projects are you working on currently?

JP:      I am writing HULK, THUNDERBOLTS and just finishing ATLAS all for Marvel.

DD:   What is your writing Process?

It begins and ends with coffee, preferably Stumptown coffee in iced Americano form. I usually start the day at my nearby cafe, work there a couple of hours, and then bike downtown to Periscope studio and work at my desk behind cartoonist Colleen Coover. That may not sound insightful, but actually breaking up the work into different places helps me- while riding my bike I often solve story points that I'm stuck on and then when I get my computer back out, I'm ready to transcribe what happened in my head. I don't think I would do as well if I woke up and just walked into another room in my house to write.

DD:   What Comic/ Trade would you recommend?

That's hard, because I like to tailor my recommendations to the reader. But at the moment I would happily push THOR THE MIGHTY AVENGER by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee on anyone.

DD:   What Comic/ Trade would you recommend to someone new to comics?

That CAPTAIN EASY collection that just came out would captivate a lot of people I think.

DD:   Do you draw?  How involved are you in the illustration of your stories?

I do, and I just drew a scene in the final issue of ATLAS. I sometimes rough out a panel here and there for the artist I'm working with if it's hard to describe. Because many times I'm calling for something simple to depict but spelling it out makes it sounds very complex. I often do cover roughs too, largely to save the artists time from having to work up multiple sketches when only one will be picked.

DD:   What skill would you like to learn?

Every few years I noodle with guitar and then decide I don't have the time to put into it and I never get very good. I hope to eventually break through that.

DD:   Do you have a collection?   If so, what is one of the items you're
most proud of?

I have some original art, and thanks to Jim Ottaviani paying me from his collection on a project, I have a Caniff/Sickles Terry and the Pirates and a Roy Crane Captain Easy strip. I also have some stunning Gabriel Hardman art from Atlas.

DD:   What is your favorite genre of Comics?

I lean towards adventure. But that's hard, I can be all gung ho for sci-fi one week, and crime the next.

DD:   Do you have an Ipad?   If so what do use it for the most.

Not so far!

DD:   What is your favorite TV show/ movie?

I will always plop down in front of the orginal KING KONG.

DD:   What was your first comic convention?

It was an ACME Con in Greensboro, NC in the 80's.

DD:   What is your favorite part of comic conventions?

Signing tall stacks of everything I've written- just kidding. I like doing sketches for little kids.

DD:   What comics do your kids like?  What was/is your favorite character?

My kids are liking most of the children's line BOOM is putting out now, like Toy Story and the duck books, Muppet Show. My favorite  is probably still Popeye, who was my first favorite. If you get those Fantagraphics collections of Segar's original Popeye strips, you'll see that they're still terrific.

DD:   If you weren’t doing comics what would you do?

I would write something else, all story telling appeals to me. Screenplays probably.

DD:   Do you have a favorite restaurant that you would recommend?

Being originally from the south, I like Pine State Biscuits a lot, and Hillybilly Bento downtown on SW 6th.

DD:   How long have you lived in Portland, what made you choose Portland?

I've lived here since 2003- I worked in Los Angeles storyboarding cartoons and commercials for a while and I would come up to visit. Portland was the opposite of L.A. in almost every way, I loved it. And then when my daughter was born, I dragged my family here because I knew it was a great place for kids. I like that I can ride my bike everywhere, and I just bought a boat so now I can putter around on the Columbia and Willamette a lot too.

DD:   What is your favorite part of Portland?

I love the Hollywood area where I live, but I also am really fond of Sellwood, where I first lived here. There's so many great things to walk to there, the river, Oaks Bottom Park...

DD:   Where in Portland/ Oregon would you most like to visit?

I have still not seen the Shanghai Tunnels!  And for greater Oregon, there's so much I've still not seen because my kids are not big on long car trips. Like I still haven't been to Crater Lake, which is heresy.
DD:   Would you like to write for another media? or conversely, how would you feel about writing a comic of a character from a different media, for example, Dr. Who, James Bond?  What would you explore?

Actually either or both of those would be great, as I've enjoyed both series. I mentioned screenplays before, and that's because I've had lots of things I wanted to write that would work better in 'real time' rather than frozen moments the way a comic works. Perhaps Dr. Who could come back in time and help James Bond stop something enormous!

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