I am very excited to present to you my first interview with a comic book writer, Jeffrey Kaufman.
As a lifelong fan of comics, I was excited & pleased to have been asked by Malena Public Relations to review his work & interview him.
If you're a comic fan or not, you'll enjoy this interview, reader, and I hope that it gets you interested in the comic book industry of you're new to it!
1. What made you decide to get into the comic book industry?
"FFL", Fanboy For Life. I've been a comic book reader and a storyteller all my life, and always dreamed of putting the two together. I got my start in the industry representing artists and writers. A couple years later I decided I wanted to do more and went after it.
2. What were your favorite comics growing up? Whose work do you enjoy today?
I remember one of my first books was DC's Adventure Comics with a character called The Spectre. The cover was awesome, but I'm a big Spider-Man fan with the dream of one day controlling Peter Parker for a couple pages. I guess if I had to choose a current writer it would be Ed Brubaker. His work on a book called Winter Soldier was fantastic.
3. What made you decide to start Big City Comics, as opposed to inking a contract with one of the existing companies?
Well, the first thing is that most new writers don't have the skills and/or the opportunity to write for an existing company. A writer really has to fail a lot before they find their true voice.
4. Can you please tell the readers a little more about how BCC and Zenescope work together to produce your comics, as many of them are new to this world?
I'm really fortunate in that I have developed a good relationship with the guys over at Zenescope. I send them over the completed book and they publish it. I would rather wake up with a baseball sized kidney stone and a mutating STD than have to be a publisher again.
5. Though you talk about it in the introductions to both books, can you please tell us what inspires Whore and Angel Falling, respectively?
One of the reasons I haven't done a sequel to any of my graphic novels is that each story I write is a struggle. Not in that they are hard to write, but they all come from ideas jockeying for position in my head fighting to come out. I just feel each book I write has to be better than the last.
Whore was fun to write. Dealing with a guy who does anything for money, was simply too easy and lead into some ridiculous situations. Angel Falling, being the book that followed Whore had to be completely different in feeling and form since I couldn't beat Whore in the same genre. In Angel Falling, writing about a character with autism, I felt I needed to remove all the sex and swearing which was difficult for me, but I felt it was necessary.
6. Autism is a personal topic to you, since your son has the disorder. Did you ever vacillate with your decision to include it as subject matter in Angel Falling?
I didn't vacillate. I was terrified. I created the main character because of the issues he suffers with, but I wanted the character to be someone you respected and didn't pity. There was no way I could have lived with myself if I thought I hurt or offended some one in the Autism community. Also, anything that could have come back and hurt my son was so unthinkable that this book did cause me a lot of emotional issues.
7. Murder is a recurring topic in your graphic novels. What is it about trained killers that appeals, not just to you, but to your readers?
Murder deals with the finality of a life which makes it the most serious topic out there. When we see or read about death, subconsciously, we are reminded of our own mortality, and that makes the issue so interesting.
8. How did you come to work with the various artists, colorists, etc. who appear in your work?
For the last nine years, I have worked hard building relationships in the industry. While I made more than my share of mistakes, making sure I was financially responsible with the people I worked with was always a priority.
9. In Whore, you feature many people whom you personally know. What made you decide to do that?
I actually posted the opportunity on our Facebook page and those who followed up with a picture and signed the release got in. I only missed one of our fans, and still owe that person an appearance which I'll make up for in the next book. I think it was a cool opportunity for our readers and most of them were really surprised to see themselves in the book. Believe it or not, some of them thought I was screwing with them.
10. Two extremely high-profile people are used as character material in Angel Falling. Were you ever concerned about getting into either legal trouble, or having people criticize your decision?
"Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell" protects a person when they parody public figures in their stories. If Larry Flynt can get away with making fun of the idea of Reverend Jerry Falwell's first sexual experience being with his mother, drunk in an outhouse then I think I'm good.
11. You're also a powerful lawyer and have made appearances on numerous legal television programs. How do you balance your careers and home life?
I don't know about "powerful". Let's go with a quote from A League of their Own, and say, "I've seen enough to know I've seen too much".
As far as balance goes, I think it's less about balance and more about fitting things in. On this planet, we have twenty four hour in a day, no more, no less. Our daily physical requirements are air, sleep and food and water. Outside that, my number one priority is my family and how I provide for them. That probably sounds like a stupid answer, but when put into context it works.
Using myself as an example, I take 24 hours then I subtract 8 hours for sleep, then 8 hours for work, then 2 hours for eating, and then 3 hours for family which leaves me 3 hours for whatever I want to do, whether that's writing, watching television, exercising, or screwing around on the Internet. I am a true believer that any problem can be solved using fifth grade math.
12. Does your legal occupation influence your writing at all?
Everything influences my writing. Did representing thousands of criminal and civil clients effect the way I write? Absolutely! While practicing law, I have seen love, hate, good, evil, kindness, selfishness, life, death, sickness, happiness, sadness, justice, injustice, and about every possible emotion, relationship and situation our world has to offer. Writing about something you have seen or experienced usually comes off more honest with the reader.
13. Are you working on any new projects at this time? If yes, is there anything you can tell KSR about it?
I finished a book called The Finders (22 page) for Conspiracy Comics that should be out by March 2014.
Chip and Gorro our Children's Book should be in the can by the end of December and out by March 2014. Our graphic novels New Jack and 9/11 (GN) should be finished by July for preview at the San Diego Comic-Con. I'm also currently working on a Peter Pan theatre script. Like I said, "you got to fit it in".
14. Where do you see yourself and your writing career in the next ten years?
I think if things keep moving forward some of my properties will go to the next level. I'd also like to be writing for Marvel and DC while also writing and producing for television and film.
15. Thank you for participating in this interview! Can you please leave the reader with three things that may surprise them about you?
1. I spent 3 years as a paratrooper in the Army in 82nd Airborne as a line medic in an infantry unit.
2. I worked for eight years at Disney World doing character work...
3. ...Which in a weird way got me on Court TV's 20 Most Outrageous Moments.
Find Jeffrey Kaufman & Big City Comics via the following:
Find Malena Public Relations via the following: