Monday, May 16, 2011

Questions: 40: David Walker

David Walker recently was at Stumptown with his new book  Darius Logan: Super Justice Force. The book allows us to look into the lives of superheros in a new way.   It was a designed as a book that your teenager wants to read.

David Walker is a director, producer, author, movie reviewer, contributor, comic book writer, magazine publisher, businessman, and radio personality. He was a former screen editor of Willamette Week.  He literally wrote the book on Blaxploitation…two of them to be exact, Reflections on Blaxploitation: Actors and Directors Speak and BADAZZ MOFO’S Book of Blaxploitation, Volume One.

Back in 1996, David Walker created a tiny ‘zine called BadAzz MoFo.  Over the years, BadAzz MoFo earned an international reputation for its pop culture commentary and political insight, as well as the ultimate resource guide for blaxploitation. The badazzmofo website is a continuation of that legacy.

He has made several short films including Blaxploitation Star Wars mockumentary, Blackstar Warrior, Black Santa's Revenge (starring Ken Foree of Dawn of the Dead, and available on DVD), The New Home of Grindhouse History, a web series about grindhouse films.

Some of people say he is just "one of the baddest of the bad motherf**kers alive (there was six of left, but he shot the other five)"

Doug Dorr: What projects are you working on currently? Can you tell us anything about the Matt Grigsby Project?
I'm working on several projects. First, there's the sequel to my novel, Darius Logan: Super Justice Force. I'm just getting going on that, but I've set a deadline of June 30th for completion of the first draft. Next we have a comic project called Number 13. This is a collaboration with artist Robert Love, and it will debut in Dark Horse Presents #2. And finally there's the project I'm doing with artist Matt Grigsby. The working title is Moreau's Army, and as you might guess, it has something to do with The Island of Dr. Moreau, but it's nothing like anything you would imagine. It is going to be pretty awesome.

What is your artistic Process?
It varies with each project, but it always starts with a basic concept. With Darius Logan: Super Justice Force, it started with me thinking about the people behind the scenes in the world of superheroes. You never see the support staff at Avengers Mansion or the Hall of Justice, but come on, you're going to tell me that superheroes cook their own food, do their own laundry and handle all that grunt work. So, that's where that whole idea came from. With Moreau's Army, the idea came from me thinking about playing around with ideas and
concepts that already existed, kind of like what Alan Moore did with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I come up with a basic story premise, then I figure out the characters I will need to tell the story, and then, while I'm developing plot, I start to work on theme. Theme is everything. Without theme, you got a bad sitcom.  

DD:  With your broad backgound in movies, books, news, interviews. What are you most proud of?
That's a difficult question. Right now it is Darius Logan: Super Justice Force. But I hope that will change as a I grow as a writer. I'm also really proud of my 'zine, BadAzz MoFo, which has been going since 1996. That publication has done more for me than even I realize. It opened a lot of doors and helped me develop as a writer and person.

DD:   What Comic/ Trade would you recommend?
One of my favorite titles is POWERS, by Brian Bendis and Mike Oeming. I had taken a long hiatus from reading comics, and that's the title that brought me back to the medium. I like Bendis's other work, but POWERS is it for me. I also really like Ex-Machina by Brian K. Vaughn and Tony Harris. I think Kyle Baker's Why I hate Saturn is one of the greatest graphic novels of all time, period. Both of Matt Wagner's Mage collections remain all-time favorites. Matt is an under-appreciated genius of the comics medium, and I'd argue one of the top ten most importnat creators of the 1980s.

DD:   What Comic/ Trade would you recommend to someone new to comics?
It depends on how old they are. If they were younger, like a kid or something, I'd recommend any of the all ages Marvel stuff Jeff Parker or Paul Tobin have written. Older readers, I would definitely point them towards Why I Hate Saturn. Both of the Whiteout series by Rucka and Lieber are awesome. And I'm a die-hard Will Eisner fan, so maybe the Contract with God collection.

DD:   How involved are you with the illustration, the look and feel, of the books you write?
I have a background as a failed artist. I know what I want, and I try my hardest to get it, without being pushy. I came up with the basic character design and cover concept for Darius Logan: Super Justice Force, and then handed to the Robert Love who did the actual illustration. When I write comics, I draw rough thumbnails for myself as a point of reference. I can't write comics without doing the thumbnails. I tell the artist they can use my layout ideas, or come up with their own. But having studied guys like Will Eisner, Alex Toth and Wally Wood for years, I'd like to think I have a decent visual sense, even if my talent is lacking.

DD:   What skill would you like to learn?
I'd love to improve my drawing game. But I'm lazy when it comes to that stuff and don't have enough patience. I keep telling myself that I'm going to start drawing again, but instead I do things like make movies and write novels.

DD:   What's the most important thing you've learned?
If you want to be a creative person, then do it. Don't wait for the time or money, because it may never come. I know people who are amazing artists, but they want to get paid before to do the work. That's cool. We all want to get paid. But if no one has the money to pay you, are you not going to use the talent you have? It bothers me when people squander their talents or get hung up on getting paid. You get paid to do a job. Your artistic passion should never be a job. And if you ever get lucky enough to get paid to do your artistic passion, then you are one of the luckiest people on the planet. But until that happens, shut up and draw or write or play music and be happy that you got a shred of talent.

DD:   Do you have a collection? If so, what is one of the items you're most proud of?
My collection has dwindled over the years. Back in the day, I had every issued of X-Men from 94 to 250, including Giants Size #1. But I got rid of all that stuff. Now it is mostly trade paperbacks. I have a few hundred random comics. I have a copy of DC Showcase #43, the adaptation of Dr. No. It's pretty rare. I never look at it.

DD:   What is your favorite genre of Comics?
I'm a big fan of the superhero deconstruction genre. That would include Powers, Gotham Central and a handful of other books set in the world of superheroes, but not the primary focus. More than anything, I like a well-written book with art that doesn't suck. Genre is secondary.

DD:  Do you have an Ipad? If so what do use it for the most.
No. I'm waiting for someone to give me one as a present.

DD:   What is your favorite TV show/ movie?
My favorite TV shows of all time are Barney Miller, The Wire, The Shield and Twilight Zone. My favorite movie of all time is Jesus Christ Superstar. Seriously.

DD:   How does the Portland comics culture shapes your work
There is a great sense of community among creators and readers, and that helps to keep me motivated. It is great to talk to other creatives and it is great to interact with the people who appreciate the work. I consider myself lucky to be part of this community.

DD:   What was your first comic convention?
It was a Creation Convention in New York City back in 1978. It blew my mind. I met Bob Kane, the guy who created Batman.

DD:   What is your favorite part of comic conventions?
I love seeing friends that I don't see otherwise. When I go to Sand Diego or some other show out of town, that's when I see my friends from other cities, so it's always a reunion of some sort.

DD:   If you weren’t doing comics what would you do?
I write. It doesn't matter what the medium is. Comics are a means to an end, and that end is to tell a story. Darius Logan: Super Justice Force was supposed to be a comic. I wrote the whole thing out, and couldn't find anyone to draw it, so I rewrote as a novel. So, even if I'm not doing something in the medium of comics, I'm still writing.

DD:   Do you have a favorite restaurant that you would recommend?
Big-Ass Sandwiches food cart, Foti's Greek Deli, or Du's Grill down the street from Cosmic Monkey Comics.

DD:   How long have you lived in Portland, what made you choose Portland?
I've been here longer than Starbucks. My mom got a job here when I was in junior high school.

DD:   What is your favorite part of Portland?
Any place where the sun is shining and there are no stupid people around to annoy me.

DD:   Where in Portland/ Oregon would you most like to visit?
Any place where the food is free (and the sun is shining and there are no stupid people around to annoy me).
DD:   Would you like to write a character from a different media, for example, Dr. Who, James Bond? What would you explore?
At this point, I like playing with my own toys. When you play with the toys of someone else, there are too many rules. Perhaps the one exception is Shaft. I really want to do a comic series based on Ernest Tidyman's original Shaft novels, not so much the movies.

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