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May 2, 2009

Behind the Scenes with Jason M. Burns


Jason M. Burns

Jason M. Burns is an award-winning writer (A Dummy’s Guide to Danger, Curse of the Were-Woman, and The Expendable One) and has recently been named the editor-in-chief of the newly formed Outlaw Entertainment (some titles: Praetorian, Imaginary Friends, Hat Trick, and Jenna Blue). As a publisher and writer himself, Jason had a lot of background in the industry, and he shared his thoughts on collecting (and what he’d like to add to his collection) in this interview.
Do you remember your first comic book or graphic novel? If so, what was it?
The first comic I ever bought (or should I say, my mom ever bought me) was Web of Spider-Man #55. I picked it up from a convenience store, because back in those days, you could get comics everywhere. From the minute I read it, I fell in love and I never looked back. I even remember reading it on the couch in our living room for the first time. It was one of those life-changing moments that open your eyes and you suddenly go, “Why didn’t I know about this before?!?!”
What do you love about the graphic novel as a format for storytelling?
It’s a complete story from cover to cover. As a kid, I always got frustrated when I’d get this killer cliffhanger in one of my favorite books, and then I’d have to wait 30 days to see how it all turned out, only to realize that they did it to me again. (Insert more waiting.) With the graphic novel, you get to sit down and read the story as, in my opinion, how it was meant to be told.… Without any month-long commercial breaks.
Whose work do you admire?
I admire any creative person who can consistently tell good stories and who can hold an audience. For me, when I got into comics, I wanted to have a career and not just put a book or two out. Because of that, I always looked up to the creators who made comics their career, and while they dabble in other things, they continue to return to the sequential page as a means of getting their stories out. That to me is the dream.
Who do you read outside of the graphic novel format?
I read a lot of novels. That’s been my weakness lately. Most recently, I’ve read Dog Gone It by Spencer Quinn, which was great, The Undead Kama Sutra by Mario Acevedo, and Breathers by S.G. Browne. Right now, I’m reading Vinnie’s Head by Marc Lecard. Reading a few chapters in a novel is how I wind down every night before bed.
How many graphic novels do you read a month? How many of those are manga?
I just picked up the Starman Omnibus, Volume 1, and that was the first GN I picked up for the last few months. I have been so swamped with readying Outlaw Entertainment for its launch that my own personal comic reading has had to take a vacation. But, with Starman on my reading plate for this weekend, it should refuel the tank and get me back into the swing of things.
Which do you prefer and why: color or black and white?
For me, it depends on the story. Some stories are just better told black and white, and some are better told in color. It’s the choice of the creators which direction they want to take the tone of their story in, but when done right…I think either works.
How did you first get involved in the field professionally?
It happened by accident, actually. I was an entertainment journalist and had convinced my editor to let me do a story on independent comic books. Well, after getting the green light and interviewing a number of publishers within that world, I ended up staying in touch with Jessie Garza over at Viper Comics. He read a few film scripts I had written and gave me a shot doing a short story in a Dead@17 anthology. After that, I pitched them on a couple of projects, they picked them up, and the rest is history.
What kind of reaction do you get when you tell people what you do?
People get a kick out of it, especially those who are so entrenched in the corporate world that the idea of someone making a living writing comics is so out in left field that it just blows their mind. But, in my day-to-day life, I don’t really talk about what I do all that much. Where I’m from, blue collar is pretty much the only collar people wear, so it just never comes up. I just do my thing and go about my life. I don’t make a big deal about what I do, so I don’t expect anyone else to either.
Do you collect comics? What is the most valuable piece of art, graphic novel, or comic book in your collection?
I do. I’m not really sure what my most valuable piece is because I haven’t gone through them in a very long time, but I have many old Amazing Spider-Man books from the very early go of his run. They’re all packed away in long boxes, sleeping. Ha-ha! I keep telling myself that I have to go through my collection just to see what’s there and what isn’t, because it’s been so long since I’ve done that.… But then I look at the number of long boxes and I get overwhelmed and just let sleeping comics lie.
Is there something you covet adding to your collection?
Amazing Fantasy #15. I would love to have it, but I also know that it will probably never happen.