Waiting for his ride outside of the 111 Minna Gallery and reading Into the Labyrinth, by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. He likes to read--mostly in the sci fi, fantasy and detective genres--because it helps him with his work. He's editor in chief of National Press Comics in Oakland.
The difference between Harry Potter and what you read and throw away, he said, is the intricate world that is created. People who read Harry Potter talk about it and go off on a tangent about things (fan fic aside). It's what differentiates Tolkien from whomever.
A transitional book in his life-- Dragon Reborn, by Robert Jordan. It's the third book in the Wheel of Time series. When the main character embraces his destiny and it's like a big boulder...once it gains momentum it really goes. He remembers the last hundred pages just flying by. He read it for the first time when he was seventeen and remembers thinking about how to apply it to making comics.
Comics, he said, used to be like a good ol' boys club--women were sex objects, Mexicans lived in the barrio and there was shame in being African American. But, nowadays things are different. National Press lifts comics out of this realm, but they're no trail blazer. Milestone Comics made some good ones, like Icon about a black superman who crashes into the planet earth in 1839, grows up as a slave and later becomes a superhero/lawyer with a teen mom sidekick who the hero met when she was breaking into his house.
Milestone Comics went out of business, though, trying to overcompensate. People thought, oh, those comics are for black people. They made the same good ol' boys club mistake, but in reverse.
It being my thousandth interview, I needed to celebrate. When his ride came to pick him up I walked into the 111 Minna gallery, ordered myself a gin and tonic, opened up my book and prepared myself to revel in the number 1,000. The people inside, though, were reveling over a different number--111. Not only is 111 the name of the gallery and the address, it was also the opening date for the show of artwork you can sort of see through the window of the brick wall-- 111 rock-and-roll inspired supermodel nudes lounging on sofas, by San Francisco photographer, Merkley, all being sold for $111.
I wasn't particularly interested in the show--though the photos are beautiful and have amazing technical merit...until I saw the books. There are books in most of the 111 photos, on bookshelves and scattered beneath plates of cold pizza and boxes of Rice Crispies. Though some of the titles are hard to read, represented among the authors are Tom Robbins, Charles Bukowski, and Jules Verne. In front of a nude jumping on couch with electric guitar with orange cat leaping through the air, is, resting demurely on an amp, Jean Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness.
And, that's the reason I've been able to make it to 1,ooo readers --books are everywhere. It's more difficult, I guess, to get people take their clothes off.