The Eisner Award-Winning writer takes a seat in The Outhouse to talk about the new Punisher #1, as well as his first foray into the world of webcomics!
Greg Rucka has spent much of the last decade as one of the most sought-after names in comics. Known for his well-observed and nuanced takes on the superhero, crime, and espionage genres, Rucka has won four Eisner Awards (including one in 2011), a Harvey Award, and the GLAAD Media Award for Best Comic Book. After having written for all three of DC's "trinity" characters (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman), as well as for Wolverine and Spider-Man at Marvel, he is one of the better known writers in comics. He has also gained plenty of acclaim for his own properties, such as Queen & Country, Whiteout, and Stumptown. His newest projects include Punisher #1 for Marvel, which is out today, and his new webcomic Lady Sabre and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether. Rucka stopped by The Outhouse mere days after San Diego Comic-Con to talk about his newest projects, Comic-Con, and being a Big Shot.
The Outhouse (OH): How was Comic-Con?
Greg Rucka (GR): It was one of the best San Diego Cons I’ve been to in the last decade, I think. This is my twentieth in a row. It’s an awful lot to go to. I had a great time. I signed mostly at Oni. Matthew Southworth and I signed a lot of Stumptown. Folks came up with other work. We got some good feedback on the webcomic Rick Burchett and I started. And I was over at Tr!ckster for two of the symposia. That was actually quite remarkable. That was really a great experience. Of course Mike [artist Michael Lark] and I won an Eisner Friday night, so there was that too! So it was a good San Diego Con by any metric.
OH: What do you hope to accomplish when you go to a major con like that?
GR: Well, I’m a writer, not an artist. I can’t draw to save my life. And I don’t spend a lot of time online chasing down forum discussions about what I’m doing. So the primary draw of any con for me is to get to meet the fans. You get to talk to people about what they think of the work, hear what they’re saying, and meet people. San Diego Con is sort of it’s own beast because it’s so big and it becomes such a marathon. It used to be, I would go and try to do some business, and this year, maybe this is why I had such a good time, I didn’t even bother. I went to the panels, and Tr!ckster, and signed, and met people and attend the Eisners on Friday, and that’s what I did. When you’re a writer, you’re working alone, and you’re sitting at a desk wherever you are, and there’s no interaction with people while you work. Not to sound too touchy-feely about it, but it is good to meet people and hear what they say and sign for them. I enjoy that.
OH: It seems like that tends to be more of a motivation to go to these events for comic book creators than it is for other people like actors, et al.
GR: Absolutely. Like I said, writing can be very isolating. It can be very rewarding, but it’s something you do by yourself. Actors, very rarely are they working by themselves. They are working with others. And another reason I forgot to mention in the list of why I go to cons is that I get to see other professionals. I get to see my peers. That’s something I don’t get to do that often. There are some large cons, and some smaller ones where I live, but no matter how large, that’s just a fraction of a community that is global. There is an agent out of Spain, David Macho, and I haven’t seen him in a couple of years, and it was great to see him and catch up. He’s got some great guys working for him. I got to meet Pere Perez, whom I’ve worked with. That was really a delight. I got to see Nicola Scott, and I haven’t seen Nicola since last San Diego, I think. So it’s an opportunity to catch up with people that are friends but without these shows, I’d probably go potentially years without seeing them. Or never!
OH: One thing you hear about San Diego a lot is that it’s gotten so big largely because the movies and video games have come in and almost taken over, while the comics take less and less of the real estate in there.
GR: Oh yeah. I honestly don’t think anybody could objectively dispute that. All you have to do is walk in the hall. I can remember when I first went, Image was just getting their huge booth, and people were there to just stand on line for hours and get their MacFarlane and Liefeld signatures, and I was in the DC booth, which was just across the aisle, and they clearly were busy the whole weekend. Those were nothing compared to the lines outside Hall H for the Doctor Who preview [this year]. I arrived late on Thursday, and I was told I had missed the worst of it. There had been people camped out for the Thursday Twilight panel since Tuesday. Look, you can dislike it, you can accept it, you can love it, but Hollywood now knows about San Diego Con and they’re not going to forget, and until San Diego becomes and uncool place to be a geek, they’re going to continue because, if for no other reason, they know it’s a way into our pockets. If you can get the same fan passion that drives comics behind your movie or TV, or whatever, that’s a step up. My understanding is that Spielberg and Peter Jackson shared a stage at San Diego this year, and that in and of itself is remarkable. They debuted Cowboys and Aliens at San Diego. I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all that Captain America premiered the Friday of San Diego.
OH: Have the other cons stepped up their comics presence in response?
GR: I think so. I think that it influenced the creation of Tr!ckster this year too. That’s not to say that Tr!ckster is meant to be another convention per se; my experience is that it was sort of an old style salon where people would go and hang out and talk art and storytelling. It wasn’t only about comics, it was about creative endeavor.
Heroes con, for example, is very much dedicated to comic books, and quite lovely as a result. There’s Emerald City, there’s Geek Girl con, which is not going to be restricted to comics. In order for a movie to do well, you need more than 200,000 people to see it. For a comic to do well, if you get a quarter of a million people to buy it, that’s a staggering number in this market. All you gotta do is look at it from an economic angle. I’ve been down on San Diego for the media saturation, but this year, it really didn’t bug me. Either I found a level of peace with it or I was able to navigate it in a way that it worked for me.