The intro from my long conversation with Paul Pope for Ain't It Cool News….
Paul Pope didn't wait for anyone to discover him. The Ohio native kicked his way into comics during the mid-'90s self-publishing boom with work that included "THB" -- his as-yet-unfinished sci-fi adventure about a 13-year-old girl running from robots and bureaucrats on Mars.
Pope stood out for a number of reasons in the mid-'90s. He was one of the few Americans at the time to work in-house at Japanese megapublisher Kodansha -- and his crazy-fluid style and mammoth page counts merged European, Japanese and American comics styles in a way that proved prophetic. (I'd argue "Scott Pilgrim" and its ilk owe a lot to Pope's groundwork, consciously or un-.) Pope also had fun playing with personas and the notions of what a comics artist can be: He put cheeky rock-star photos of himself in his comics, gave himself Ziggy Stardust-style names like "Pulphope" and "Comics Destroyer," and took his illustration into the realms of rock and fashion in New York, where he now resides.
Right now, Pope is working on three big projects. For First Second, he's writing and drawing "Battling Boy" -- his young-adult graphic novel about a kid superhero fighting monsters for hundreds of pages -- and "Total THB," a partial redraw of "THB" that will finally conclude that series. He's also working on "Psychenaut," a dream-analysis project for French publisher Dargaud.
Pope is making a rare guest appearance this weekend at the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Oregon -- with two-hour signings on Saturday and Sunday, April 24-25. (I'm told it's a chance to pick up his limited-edition vinyl toy, "The Masked Karimbah." ) On Sunday, he'll also give a talk with a Q&A. Then, on Sunday night, Pope will DJ and show his experimental sci-fi mashup film "Psychenaut" (a different project than the French comic) on the main floor of the Bossanova Ballroom during the "Stumptown Volunteer Appreciation and After Fest Party." Pope's girlfriend, the New York burlesque and circus performer Harvest Moon, is coming to Portland with him; she's performing at the Bossanova at "The Royal Tease" (April 24) and "Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School" (April 25).
When we spoke last week, Pope had just wrapped a deadline for a French magazine. We talked for an hour-and-a-half while he walked around New York. ("I'm like The Fonz," he joked. "The street's like my office.") Topics of conversation: "Battling Boy," "Psychenaut," burlesque, manga, sex in comics, the ultimate Bat-Cycle, how to draw 70 pages in a month, "THB," Moebius, "Close Encounters," Jeff Smith, what makes a good superhero movie, and how to make toys, camouflage and a rock-star comics persona.
Oh, and we also talked about Pope's surprising connection with AICN's own Mr. Beaks....You can read an edited transcript of the entire Q&A by clicking here.
Mike Russell Delivers A Must-Read Interview With Paul Pope! BATTLING BOY, BATMAN: YEAR 100 And Much More Discussed! (Ain't It Cool News, April 19, 2010)