Name: Joey Gruszecki
Type of Creator: Writer
List Your Work:
- Midnight Feature
- The Secret Circus (Children’s Book)
- Stuff that’s so indie I haven’t even WRITTEN it yet.
What was the first comic you read?
The first comic book I remember having and reading over and over was the Amazing Spider-Man Super Special #1. It was a flip comic (2 in 1!) that had an Amazing Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider and Venom story. I highly doubt it holds up in any way. What I remember reading the most as a kid were TinTin, Asterix and any collection of newspaper strips I could get from the library. Lots of Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes and I was possibly the only 7 year old boy to ever read every collection of Cathy.
What inspired you to make comics? A specific story? Writer? Artist?
Despite loving them it never really occurred to me that they would be something I could write as well until I saw an interview with Neil Gaiman where he described the advice Alan Moore gave him on how you write a comic: (I’m paraphrasing) “Well, first you get a bit of paper and on it you write PAGE ONE, PANEL ONE and then you write down everything you can think of and then you write PANEL TWO.” That cheeky answer really appealed to me and I decided to give it a whirl.
What do you like about comics? What is it about them that interests you? Inspires you? Moves you?
Comics are the most unique medium on the planet. They’re a perfect combination of words and pictures that can tell a story in a way no other medium can. They also have a completely limitless budget. People often say things like “the sky’s the limit”, well comics aren’t anywhere near that restrictive. The limit in comics is infinity itself, and yet they are also capable of the most intimate and small forms of storytelling. There is literally not one single genre or style that comics isn’t best suited for and that is pretty exciting to me.
What is the most important thing people need to know about comics?
They make them without superheroes. They also make them in other countries. Once you learn that, things really pick up.
What comic would you recommend to a first-time reader?
I suppose it would depend on the reader, but you can’t really go wrong with Asterix or any of Moebius’ work… I’m a big fan of the EC Horror books from the 50s and the Warren black and white horror magazines. For something more modern I’d probably hand them Transmetropolitan or Sandman. Maybe Criminal if they’re into crime and noir stories or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Hellboy for pulp and horror… Dark Horse has a zillion awesome Conan comics too
As a writer, pen or keyboard?
I prefer a quill made from a bald eagle dipped in the blood of my enemies, but keyboard mostly.
Do you have a set work space? Where?
I wish I did. I’d probably get more done. My kitchen table is pretty much it. Someday I hope to have a desk, but every square inch of my house is filled with comics and child paraphernalia.
Do you listen to music when you work? Other background noise?
I listen to music when I do everything. If I’m writing I tend to listen to ambient music. Warren Ellis has a pretty great podcast where he curates a bunch of good, sleepy, ambient tunes called Spektrmodule. That and a few other ambient podcasts tend to be my soundtrack (although I did assemble an all hair-metal playlist for a project recently)
Apart from having a small child that monopolizes a lot of my time my biggest frustration/challenge would be that I can’t draw, worse still I actively dislike drawing. If I didn’t hate it I could just keep doing it until it was at least mediocre, but I hate doing it so that’s not going happen. So, it means I need to find other talented people who want to spend a significant chunk of time drawing the stuff that falls out of my head, and most of the awesome talented people I meet who could do that are capable of coming up with their own things to draw and don’t need me to supply them with material. If you’re reading this. If you like monsters and whatnot… call me.
If you had to pick one comic as a favourite, what would it be?
Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson. Greatest comic series of all time. Sandman’s a close second.
What is the:
Most romantic comic you’ve ever read?
Hmm… that’s a toughie, I know I said comics are the perfect medium for any genre I must confess to not having read a ton of romance comics… I like some of the Young Romance stuff Kirby did in the 50’s and have a soft spot for a lot of Archie (especially the Harry Lucey Jugheads). I suppose I’ll cheat and say Transmetropolitan because it’s a story about a man’s love for the truth.
Most exciting comic you’ve ever read?
I love a lot of Conan comics. The early Kurt Busiek, Cary Nord stories from the Dark Horse series are pretty unbeatable. Sandman is exciting in a totally different way. It’s exciting because you realize how GOOD a comic can be.
Going with Transmetropolitan again. That book always inspires. It inspires you not to eat shit just because that’s what they’re serving and to always believe in the truth.
Asterix is funny. I also think recent books like Ryan Browne’s “God Hates Astronauts”, “The Auteur” and “Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever” were specifically written for me. OH! and Jimmy Giegerich’s “Fight Frogs” is amazing.
Horror comics are pretty much the best. I’d recommend the Wolfman/Colan “Tomb of Dracula” series, Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’ “Neonomicon”, all of “Hellraiser: Masterpieces”, Niles and Templesmith’s “30 Days of Night”, Junji Ito stuff, Nijigahara Holograph by Inio Asano, Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra’s “Colder”, Naoki Urusawa’s “Monster”… you know what, just email or tweet me and I’ll go on.
Transmetropolitan and Sandman. Again.
Who is your favourite comic character?
I don’t know that I have one. I tend to have favourite creators instead, so I’ll just say Spider Jerusalem from Transmet and Lucien from Sandman
What is the natural talent you’d like to be gifted with and why?
I should say draw, but I’d really like to be better at video games so that I wouldn’t have to suffer the indignity of being killed and mocked by tweens.
What three words would you use to describe your work?
Absurd. Silly. Puns. I wrote a story called “The Telltale Herd” (illustrated by Hyde Forsythe who rocks) about a shepherd who gets killed by a goat monster… so yeah.
What is your favourite place to go in Calgary?
I live in the suburbs with a toddler. We don’t “go” places.
Future projects you are working on/ would like to work on:
I’ve got a few short stories being drawn by cool people that will go into the second volume of our “Midnight Feature” horror anthology series and a couple of projects percolating with some of my artist friends that hopefully will be something soon. Also a ton of notes for a series about a kid detective, one about a gnarly rock-band’s adventures through hell and space, and an idea for a book about Tom Waits, David Lynch and Werner Herzog living as roommates solving mysteries.
The Hammer films of Terence Fisher. I love everything about them and just want to make stuff when I watch them.
You are stranded on a desert island, you must have:
Which 3 comics?
- Tomb of Dracula
Which 3 albums?
- Tom Waits – Mule Variations
- Phish – A Live One
- Jonathan Coulton – Artificial Heart
Which Three Movies?
- The Big Lebowski
- The Thing
Which 3 Foods?
- Other Types of Sushi
- Count Chocula
Which 3 TV shows?
- Mystery Science Theater 3000
- Twin Peaks
- Doctor Who
And which 3 people would you be happy to be stranded with?
My wife. Justin Heggs so I have someone to talk about Wrestling with and Christian Slater… he seems nice.