GARY CARLSONThe following is an e-mail interview with GARY CARLSON, a writer whose titles have included TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and SUPREME as well as creating the great BIG BANG COMICS, a fresh look at Golden and Silver Age story conventions. This interview was conducted on August 25, 1998.
JOHN DALTON: What are your earliest comic book memories?
GARY CARLSON: I started reading comic books when I was in kindergarten. My brother Jeff was three years older than I was, so we shared comics and I started trading with his friends. I remember mis-pronouncing "Composite" Superman and constantly being corrected. My favorite of all time is Superman Red and Superman Blue!
JOHN DALTON: What has best prepared you to work in comics?
GARY CARLSON: Lots of practice. I spent the 1980s writing and editing the b&w comic Megaton, trying to learn what the hell I was doing and how to do it better.
JOHN DALTON: What's the best part about working in comics?
GARY CARLSON: I'm doing what I've always wanted to do since I was five years old! (Getting paid for it helps too).
JOHN DALTON: Your book Big Bang Comics pays tribute to the Golden and Silver Ages of comics, a trend reflected in many comics today. Why do you think there has been so much interest recently in the past?
GARY CARLSON: Because the recent comics' past has been so bleak. Most of us remember when comics were fun to read. Until recently, DC has been embarrassed by their history. I for one am happy to see them celebrate it, and hope that I'm responsible in some way.
JOHN DALTON: Some people say that the "ImAge" or "Dark Age" has recently ended. If so, what's next?
GARY CARLSON: That's the $64,000 question. My guess is most of the independents will disappear for a while, and the big companies will go to returns in some way to survive until comics reinvent themselves in a viable new format. It's tough for do-it-yourselfers out there.
JOHN DALTON: How do you see comics changing, for better or worse, as we enter the 21st Century?
GARY CARLSON: They've already changed a lot in the past decade! Comics pros have been saying "Comics aren't just for kids anymore" for a long time. We've lost the kids. All the cool stuff in comic shops are expensive: $200 statues, $50 books. Original art prices have skyrocketed, established pros rarely do sketches at Cons, even comics at $2 to $4 are expensive. Everything is aimed at the former fan -boy turned Yuppie with disposable income. We've got to find a way to make comics a mass-market product again, and to make the mass market care about them.
JOHN DALTON: Of all the things you've done in comics, what are you most proud of?
GARY CARLSON: Getting to work with old pros and personal faves like Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Shelly Moldoff, Mart Nodell, Rich Buckler and Dave Cockrum at Big Bang Comics. There were a few issues of Supreme (issues 26, 27 and/or 28 I think) that I wrote that I was and am very proud of. I was also very happy with the Vanguard: Strange Visitors mini-series, and am proud of the 20 issues (and still counting) run on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (TMNT is a lot of fun, and it's NOT the TV version! I wish more people would give it a try.)