Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Q & A with Jay Faerber
This time I interview someone special. Jay Faerber is a comic book writer and has one comic book on his name featuring a PI (Webster Dodge). As a fan of his comic books I thought it would be interesting to learn about his views on the genre.
Q: What makes Webster Dodge different from other (unofficial) PIs?I think one of the things that makes him different is that he doesn'treally want to be a PI. He has dreams of being a rock star, but he'sactually quite good at detective work. It's his only marketable skill,so he's forced to do it as a "day job," so to speak. I think that's different than most PIs, unofficial or otherwise, who rarely get paid and who hold down other jobs to support their investigative work. WithDodge, it's the opposite. He'd quit the PI gig in a heartbeat if he could make money with his music.
Q: How did you come up with the character?
I approached Dodge like I approach my super-hero work -- I tried to find a new angle on the classic genre. I wanted Dodge to be the rumbled, lone private eye who gets beat up a lot and has anantagonistic relationship with the cops. So I was able to do all that,but the whole "struggling musician" thing gave it a fresh spin. Ofcourse, I'm far from the first person to combine music and mysteries.I'm not making that claim. But I think the way I approached it withDodge is fairly unique.
Q: How do your favorite novelists influence your superhero comics?
That's hard to pin down, since it's not something that has a direct correlation. Robert B. Parker was the first author I really followed,and I think I learned a lot of my dialogue approach from him. That's been a huge influence. Lately, I follow Stephen J. Cannell, Lee Child,and Robert Crais, and I love their plotting. I work really hard atgiving my stories -- whether they be super-hero or mystery -- solid,well-crafted plots, and I think all of the novelists that I followhave helped inspire me in that regard.
Q: Will we see Webster return?
I really don't know. It's been over five years since DODGE'S BULLETS and it wasn't really a commercial success so it's tough to do more. > But it's not out of the question, in some form or another. I've > written a short story featuring the character, but haven't done > anything with it yet.
Q: What are you working on now and what will you be working on soon?
My main work is DYNAMO 5, my Image super-hero series. We're currently in the middle of a 5-issue mini-series that ends in October. Then we've got a Holiday one-shot coming out in December, then another mini-series sometime in 2011. Besides that, I've got a new Image crime series that I'm slowly working on, which we hope to debut in mid-2011, plus another Image crime/horror/romance mini-series that will also
hopefully launch in 2011. So next year should be a big year for me.
Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
Well, as usual, a bunch of imitators have distorted the original. Hawk, the first modern "sidekick" (although I'm sure he'd take issue with that term) of his kind is a true original. And while Joe Pike kinda started out as a bit of a Hawk-type guy, he's really grown into his own "leading man" status. I mean, there have already been two Joe Pike novels, with a third on the way. I'm curious if we'll see any
more Elvis Cole-focused novels, or if Crais is having too much fun letting Pike take center stage. And I don't grant the premise that either of these guys are
"psychotic," but I know what you're getting at: the 90's craze of having every new PI with a colorful "sidekick" with some extreme character traits. I read a piece by Lee Child where he talked about his creation of Jack Reacher, and he basically created Reacher as the "sidekick." When you think about it, Reacher has all the colorful traits the 90s-era sidekicks have: he's huge, violent, and all that.
But he's the star of the books. And I think that's a great observation and a great approach, on Child's part.
Q: You are influenced by the recently departed (screen)writer Stephen J. Cannell. What's so great about his work and how has he inspired you?
I just think Cannell's great. I love so many of his old TV shows, and his novels are, for the most part, really good, too. I'm a sucker for a good high concept, and his old shows all have great high concepts, great premises, and great characters. While I love a good plot, character always trumps plot. I can take a bad plot populated by great characters, but a great plot with bad characters? Much, much harder to take. And Cannell's great a creating engaging, interesting, fun to
Q: What are your favorite Stephen J. Cannell shows?
My top three would have to be The Rockford Files, Wiseguy, and The Greatest American Hero. And just look at those three shows -- they're so diverse, with such different premises, tones, even genres. And yet all really groundbreaking, original pieces of work.
Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, first influenced
by Hammett, then Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you think
will influence the coming generation and in what way?
Well, I'm not as well-read as a lot of mystery fans. I'm really particular about the kind of prose I like to read. I find a lot of it really overwritten. So I'm sure there are authors who are huge that I'm just not familiar with. However, I think Crais and Child are really going to influence the next generation. They've got great,
iconic characters who are engaged in interesting plots.
Q: Bill Crider came up with the following question: Hammett or Chandler?Chandler.
Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your
First person or third person? I don't really have a set answer, but I know some people are very passionate about this subject. I kind of waffle. There was a time when I found it hard to read anything that wasn't first person. I was just really drawn to that approach. But now I can see the advantages to both, and as a writer, I tend to prefer to the third person. With first person, it's a little too easy for the
character to merely sound like me, rather than a CHARACTER.