Saturday, March 26, 2011

Questions 33: Justin Zimmerman

Justin Zimmerman is a nationally recognized filmmaker and professor.  He created 2006 documentary Fireland about the Golden Age Nursing Home fire which took place on November 23, 1963 in Fitchville, Ohio killing 63 residents.   He is a Theater Arts Adjunct faculty for Portland State.   He just completed directing, shooting and editing the annual Wonder Woman Day Documentary released on Jan. 12.  

Justin Zimmerman is currently writing The Killing Jar,  an action packed horror story set in a small Colorado town.  He is also writing Other Worlds, a series of one-shots with lead artist Mike Lawrence.

Doug Dorr:    What projects are you working on currently?
In the comic world, I’m writing and publishing a couple independent books. The Killing Jar is an ongoing title with the great Russ Brown and Other Worlds is a series of one-shots with lead artist Mike Lawrence and a variety of other visual talents. Talk is cheap, so check ‘em out!

The Killing Jar is on Facebook here:
Other Worlds is on Facebook here:

I love comics, but they’re my hobby. I’m a working filmmaker, a professor and a screenwriter through Bricker-Down Productions®.

DD:   What is your writing process?
I need quiet and I need a clean and organized space. When I’m writing – when it’s going well, anyway – it’s like I’ve jumped into the ocean. I try to stay submerged in that world as long as possible before I have to come up for air. When I’m interrupted it’s so jarring that it’s almost impossible for me to get back to where I was before. So I need to make time for the discipline!

DD:   What is your process working with the artist?
I’ve played around with different forms of scriptwriting for different artists, but I come back to the screenwriting credo over and over…action and dialogue with as little direction as possible. I prefer to break down the pages into panels, which is obviously different than traditional screenwriting. I also usually include a partial or full script in each of my books.

DD:   What Comic/ Trade would you recommend?
I love Warren Ellis. There’s always something interesting in a Warren Ellis comic.

DD:   What Comic/ Trade would you recommend to someone new to comics?
I love getting people hooked on comics. In fact, I love giving comics away. There’s a comic for everyone! Recently, I’ve gotten friends and family hooked on Savage Dragon, The Walking Dead, Chew, Sweet Tooth, DMZ, Supergod, Old Man Logan, Watchmen, The Tale of One Bad Rat and The Secret Six, just to name a few.

DD:   What skill would you like to learn?

DD:   What's the most important thing you've learned?
Life isn’t fair.

DD:   Do you have a collection? If so, what is one of the items you're most proud of?
I have a small collection of comics – a couple moderately valuable – but I read ‘em to this day. I just read The Walking Dead #1. I remember buying it in a small comic shop in Ohio. I have every issue of Savage Dragon. I’ve been reading that comic for almost half my life! I have a couple pieces of original art – a Norm Breyfogle painted Batman and a Jae Lee piece from the first Gunslinger book. Nothing too crazy.

DD:   What was your first comic  book convention?
The first comic book convention I ever attended was back in Ohio a couple decades ago. I was in line to get Mike Mignola’s signature on his Dracula book. The guy in front of me had one too, only his was in the polybag to keep his trading card mint or something. Anyway, I got up to Mr. Mignola and handed him my worn copy. “Yours isn’t in the bag,” he said. “I like to read mine,” I replied. Just being honest. He smiled at me and drew me a little picture on my book. Never forgot that.

DD:   Do you have a collection? What is your favorite genre of Comics?
I tend to like more independent, creator owned fare, but I’ll read anything. Literally.

DD:   Do you have a collection? Do you have an IPad? If so what do use it for the most?
Because so much of my professional life is multimedia related, I want to keep away from it in my personal life as much as possible. I don’t even text. I will say, too, that I will be sad to see print go, if it truly does. I love holding a comic in my hands and I love going to Excalibur and Guapo comics every week to pick up my books. But I like the tactile nature of the medium…that’s part of my film methodology too. My last project was shot on the RED, but I still shoot 35mm stills and 8mm and 16mm motion picture stock when and where I can.

DD:  What is your favorite TV show/ movie?
Favorite TV show is Deadwood by a landslide. Hoop Dreams and anything by Errol Morris rule the film world for me. And let’s throw some video games in there too! ActRaiser, Shadow of the Colossus, the original Silent Hill, Beyond Good and Evil, Psychonauts, Oblivion, Fallout 3 and Battlefield for the multiplayer win!

DD:  How does the Portland comic culture shape your work?
What’s interesting is that I had no idea Portland was the comic book capitol of the world when I moved here. I started making comics because I love comics and it was a new mode of writing. It was only after a year of work that I got involved with Stumptown and some of the local fests. And then…BAM! Talented people everywhere!
 One of the greatest things about Portland’s comic scene is Wonder Woman Day, which takes place at Excalibur Comics, one of my local shops. Once a year they auction off original images of Wonder Woman and the proceeds go to Portland domestic violence shelters and charities. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars every year! I can’t draw a stick figure, so I particpate by creating short docs to help spread the word. It’s such an amazing event and it truly represents what’s so special about Portland’s comic culture.
Here’s the WWD 2010 doc:
Here’s the WWD 2009 doc:

DD:  What was your first comic convention?
Somewhere in Ohio. See Mike Mignola story above. Oh, and Dave Dorman signed my Aliens: Tribes book and drew a creature for me. It was AWESOME!

DD:   What is your favorite part of comic conventions?
Meeting people who read my books or who are going to read my books! Writing is an isolated event…talking about the work is always a lot of fun.

DD:   If you weren’t doing comics what would you do?
Why wouldn’t I be doing comics?

DD:   Do you have a favorite restaurant that you would recommend?
I love SE Portland so I’m all about Tani’s, Tom Yum, Mezza’s and the Delta!

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

Four years now, I think. Portland is my favorite city. I made a concerted effort to get here. And here I am!

DD:   What is your favorite part of Portland?

Excalibur comics! Fubonn! The Zoo! (I don’t know…there are a lot of cool things happening here. That’s why it’s a great city.)

DD:   Where in Portland/ Oregon would you most like to visit?
I don’t know, but as soon as I figure it out, I’m going there.

DD:   Would you like to write for another media? Or write a character from another media? What would you explore?
I DO write for other media, which is cool, but I’d love to take a crack at a branching video game script, which I’ve never done, or a great character from my youth, like Robocop. No, I’m not kidding. ROBOCOP!


fromthetomb said...

Awesome interview. Justin is an awesome guy who makes some awesome books. Apparently the word of the comment is Awesome!

Ben said...

Fun interview. I know Justin personally and Doug brought out the reason I identify with him - he has a normal life outside of comics and pursues it as a passion instead of relegating his life to being a 'starving artist'. He has varied interests and varied ambitions. Nice work Doug.