Monday, April 16, 2012

Portland Questions 51: Aaron Duran

Aaron Duran  is a writer and media producer in Portland, Oregon.   He is the host of Geek in the City Radio (alongside co-host Scott Dally), webmaster of, and a regular guest on the Cort and Fatboy Show  and Funemployment Radio show.  He is also a writer for newarama.  Duran organized a failed effort in 2008 to rename Portland's 42nd Avenue to Douglas Adams Boulevard after science fiction author Douglas Adams.

Upset with the current state of comics, Aaron, began working on his own comic in 2007.   He started the writing La Brujeria, and when he was joined by artist James Sinclair the story solidified.      La Brujeria's plot involves a Mexican American woman named Althalia who has a temp job at a Pawn Shop.    But, with Werewolves, Elementals, & Chupacabra as co-workers;  she was recruited by the Golden Bought Pawn Shop’s real goal of fighting the monsters of the under the streets of Portland.        At present the comic is available at most comic stores in Portland  and you can or it online at Geek in the City.    If you are going to be at Stumptown you can pick up the latest  issue 3 of La Brujeria

He has started his radio show up again called Crimson Mist, co-created by Jayesunn Krump. 

Doug Dorr:    What projects are you working on currently?
I am in the middle of a couple of projects at this time. Currently, James Sinclair and Jenn Alvin are working on issue 3 of La Brujeria, which will debut at the 2012 Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland. I am also wrapping up a new script for an all-new Adventures of the Crimson Mist audio play for Comic Book Month in April with the Incubator Lounge. And, as always, I work on the weekly podcast, Geek in the City Radio.

DD:  What is your artistic Process?
Coffee. Lots of coffee. Okay, seriously. My process is a lot like a sprinter. I try and write about 6 – 7 hours a day, but very little of it is usable. Most of what I write is just dreck, something to keep me going through the motions. However, when I dive into a project, I become incredibly focused and very hard to distract. So while I say it takes me a week or so to complete a draft on a script, in all honesty, I tend to burn through the first draft in a constant 8 – 10 hour writing marathon. Then, it's all about the re-writes.

DD:  When are writing, what is your process working with the artist?
It all depends on the artist. When I'm writing descriptive scenes in a comic, my style is very flexible according to the needs of the artist. As I have a background in film / video production, my writing has a very cinematic style to it. As such, a lot of my scenes are broken down like camera angles and shots. With James, the artist on La Brujeria, we've got a pretty strong short-hand now. So, I can simply write “horrible beast dude” and he knows exactly what I mean. But, were I to work with someone new, I'd be far more descriptive.

DD:  What Comic/ Trade would you recommend?
Right now? The Sixth Gun is still my favorite series on the shelves. There might be single issues from other comics that hit me harder once in a while. However, month in, month out, it's Sixth Gun that turns in the win for me.

DD:  What Comic/ Trade would you recommend to someone new to comics?
It all depends on the person. If they only know superhero books from films, and want to read more capes and cowls, I'd recommend Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men, The Sinestro Corp War from Johns, or Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man. But, if they want something else, I've got a short list. Stumptown from Oni Press, Chew from Image, Northlanders and Scalped from Vertigo, and of course, The Sixth Gun.

DD:  What skill would you like to learn?
In comics? Pencilling. My art skills are some of the worst you will ever see. I've taken courses, I've practiced for years, I've even had highly talented friends and professionals give me tips. Nothing. These fingers just can't make the pretty pictures. It's very frustrating, as I have one or two highly personal stories I'd like to tell, stories that I want to be 100% from me. But I get so frustrated with my own lack of penciling skills, I keep pushing them back.
DD:  What's the most important thing you've learned?
Be nice. No, really. You never know if the person you're complaining to or about will someday be someone you have to work with. Or, even worse, someone who could review your work one day. Years ago, I was all about making as much noise as possible in order to be noticed. Making noise meant yapping off about things I knew little or nothing about. It was all about what I thought, and as the consumer, I just had to be right! Well, it's one thing to have an opinion, it's another to be a total a-hole about it. I was that a-hole, but I got really lucky. Lucky in that the people I rambled on about saw that I was being just that, a young and hungry a-hole and let it slide when I grew older and more mature. Not everyone is going to be that lucky. So, be nice. Also, hit your deadline. If you can be nice and hit your deadlines, you'll go far.

DD:  Do you have a collection?   If so, what is one of the items you're most proud of?
Oh, I have quite a few collections. What good geek doesn't? I've got a fair amount of Batman action figures, I've recently started collecting original comic book art, and I have all the Hallmark Star Trek Ships ornament collection. However, when I think about the items I always unpack first, the ones I always show people, regardless of their interest, it would have to be my RPG book collection. Don't know why, but I'm obsessed with collecting first editions of various Role Playing Games. Haven't even played most of them, but I love to collect and read them.

DD:  What is your favorite genre of Comics?
Cliché as it sounds, I'm a child of superheroes and I still love the genre to this day. Weird / supernatural mash-ups are a very close second.

DD:  What is your favorite TV show/ movie?
Currently, it's A Game of Thrones. All time? Star Trek: The Next Generation. I know it isn't the best, it isn't even the best Trek (that's Deep Space Nine). But, it has a pretty hard hold upon my nostalgia string and it just ain't gonna' let go.

DD:  How does the Portland comics culture shapes your work?
It doesn't really shape it. Well, that's not true. There are so many great and talented creators in this town, it forces me to keep up my game and skills. Not that I think I'd ever knowingly phone in a project, being around so many talented people keeps me honest.

DD:  What was your first comic convention?
This dingy little “convention” in Reno, NV. A couple of shops set-up this 10 – 12 table convention in the middle of Old Town Mall. It was really just a flea market with some collectors selling their stuff, but to my 10 year-old eyes, it was the most awesome event of all time.

DD:  If you weren’t doing comics what would you do?
I don't honestly know. Some form of writing. Some form of narrative writing. I love to tell stories, so I'd find some way to tell my stories. Or, I'd actually become a chef like my grandparents wanted.

DD:  Do you have a favorite restaurant that you would recommend?
Autentica in North Portland. They serve some of the finest Mexican food in the city.

DD:  How long have you lived in Portland, what made you choose Portland?
I moved to Portland in September of 1998, so I've been here for over 13 years. (Long enough for locals to call me an official “Portland Native). I moved here to become a chef. I was enrolled in the Western Culinary Institute, event went through orientation. Then, panic set in and I canceled the whole dang thing.

DD:  What is your favorite part of Portland?
I love the weather here. Honestly. The clouds and the rain, I love it. It also helps me appreciate our summers, even if I am one of those people that starts to complain around August about the heat. And, I love how every neighborhood in Portland it like a small town unto itself.

DD:  Where in Portland/ Oregon would you most like to visit?
I wander around the city a lot, so I don't miss much in Portland. I'd like to spend more time in the northern coast, I love that region. I'd also like to explore more of Eastern Oregon. I've only passed through it a couple of times, so I'd love to explore some of the region.

DD:  Would you like to write/Illustrate for another media?   Or write a character from another media, for example, Dr. Who, James Bond?  What would you explore?
Well, I wouldn't want to stop writing comics. I don't see comics as a stepping stone to other media, but I am also open to writing within others. I love the idea of writing for video games. The potential for branching and interactive stories is something I really dig and I think games are the perfect format for that. As to other characters. Well, I wouldn't want to suggest I'd do any better than people currently writing known characters, because I highly doubt that. Still, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to add my stories to Batman, as well as Star Wars and Star Trek. I know, it's stunningly predictable, but these universes had such an influence on me, it'd be a blast to add my own.

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