Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Comically Speaking: Interview with Joey Esposito

Person of Interest (Comically speaking)
By: Andrew Hines

As a comic book reviewer, there's only one person I look to as an example of good reviews, IGN's Joey Esposito. As the Comics Editor at IGN Entertainment, he pens some of the most succinct and accurate reviews online. Being in charge of such a large portion of IGN, a company that caters to movie fans, as well as anyone interested in video games and comic books, is no small feat for the 27 year-old Massachusetts native. As a fan of such classic series as Back To The Future and Star Wars (for some reason he counts the prequels), a follower of professional wrestling, playing both drums and guitar, drinking beer, he may be the quintessential 21st Century male.

As most guys raised primarily in the 90's, he recalls his first career goals swinging back and forth between being a professional baseball player and some kind of superhero. Speaking of things he always wanted to be, he was always interested in storytelling. That became apparent when he mentioned his four-part mini-series, FOOTPRINTS, which comes out this month. No specific date was given as to its availability. Footprints is a crime noir set primarily in the present day, follows Bigfoot, who is working as a private detective and trying to find his brother, Yeti's killer. Built up in the fashion of a traditional noir murder mystery, it's a pretty straightforward story, despite the casting of such mythological monsters as the Loch Ness Monster, the Jersey Devil and El Chupacabra. When asked of his inspiration for the story, he says it "came from my love of the noir genre and using it in a way that was fresh to me." The concept came to him seven years ago, when he was still in college. "It stuck with me and evolved over time," says Esposito, "until about October, 2010 when I started writing the first issue." Though, he claims that there are other projects currently "in the works," none of them are superhero-related.

He mentioned that, though the first comic books he read were published by DC Comics, it is not his favorite publisher. "At heart, creator-owned material is what I love the most," he said, "and no one has been doing it better than Image [Comics] these last few years." His favorite new writer is Kurtis Wiebe, who is the scribe on the reimagined Peter Pan, now set in World War II, PETER PANZERFAUST. That begged the question of who actually drives a book to be good; the writer or the artist? "The two have to work in tandem 100% of the time." He continued, "Neither one can make a good book on their own. You can have strong writing with bad art or vice versa, but neither of those situations will make it a good book."
On the subject of good books, he mentioned that DC's recent re-launch was good, at least for the business aspects. He believes that since it got mainstream attention and lead people to more people finding their way to comic shops. He added that he has noticed a negative outcry from the fan base due to the certain events "not mattering" anymore. "Continuity stuff doesn't matter." he said, "If the story is good, then who cares where it fits?" He mentioned that he thought the company "catered too much to the longtime fans." Possibly as a result, he mentioned that we was hoping for "less editorial mandates," in the coming months from all of the major publishers. As far as current titles to focus on, he mentioned the accessibility and fun, in particular, of Mark Waid's run on Daredevil. "That's one place the New 52's been struggling: none of their books are plain and simple fun."

The last bit of critical information came when he thought of why people should be reading comics in the first place. "They are modern myth, just the same as we continue to pass down ancient myths and fairy tales from generation to generation. They're never going to die. The formats and consumption might change, but the stories will continue in some form or another."

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