Posted by Anika
For today’s Fangirl Friday we have another of our own. The first real conversation I had with Caroline was about Cable, and Jean Grey’s questionable decision to ask for his help while wearing nothing but a bathrobe. It remains one of the top 100 conversations I have ever had. Fantastic Fans — here’s Caroline!
Name: Caroline Pruett
Where do you live? Richmond, Virginia
What is your job? Education? I have a graduate creative writing degree and a law degree. I have a job in a cubicle where I sort of use skills from both degrees. It’s boring, let’s talk about something else.
Tell me about your family: My family consists of my parents, three brothers, and my sister, plus my siblings’ various significant others and kids. I grew up in kind of a loud, rowdy house where getting a word in edgewise could be a competition, and being well-informed and funny and kind of a nerd was rewarded and expected. Good training for fandom, in other words.
How long have you been reading comics? About five years as a “serious” comic book fan. Before that, I read some graphic novels casually. And as a teenager, I loved newspaper comic strips like Bloom County, Doonesbury, and Calvin and Hobbes. So I’ve been a fan of words with pictures for a long time, I just didn’t put it together with loving “comics” as a medium until I was thirty. Even though I’m pretty confident that I can hold my own with just about any other critic or fan, I still sometimes get a reminder that I came to this late.
Many people believe the “words with pictures” medium is — or should be — directed at children, and adults who read comics are either childish or nostalgic. What are your thoughts? Quite the opposite, I think. I love reading prose books, but it seems to me that a medium which makes you use more than one part of your brain at the same time — processing images and words — has to have the potential to make you smarter. I started reading a lot of comics when I was thirty or so, and I discovered that I was learning to read in a new way. How can that be bad?
Do you have a favorite comic of all time? A favorite character? Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men series was the title that brought me into superhero comics, so I have a special affection for that. Though, ironically, that series brought me into reading other X-Men titles, and made me a fan of Jean Grey, who isn’t really in it. Which doesn’t stop me from saying she’s the most important character in the series. If everything wasn’t always bouncing off of Jean and her history with the X-Men, nothing in the book would mean as much.
How about favorite creators? I’ll try anything Greg Rucka or Jeff Parker does, and I’m a fan of the whole Bendis/Brubaker/Fraction axis at Marvel. My favorite artists are Gabriel Hardman and Colleen Coover. I’m sure I’m leaving somebody off. Oh, Fred Van Lente! Christos Gage! As far as all-time favorites, I have great love for a lot of classic Denny O’Neil work — Green Lantern/Green Arrow and The Question, particularly. I can’t really deny the influence of the Claremont/Byrne/Cockrum X-Men on forming my tastes, either, even if it’s not the stuff I gravitate toward now.
What comics are you currently reading? My current obsession is Fullmetal Alchemist, a shonen manga by Hiromu Arakawa. It’s this sprawling epic about magic and war and love and found family and figuring about how to be a good person in a corrupt society. And, you know, it’s also about people who fight by throwing fireballs at each other, and spend a lot of time on trains, and look really good in military uniforms. Also, there’s a dog with a robot leg. It’s comics.
In American comics, I’m still mostly a Marvel fan. I’ve been following Brian Bendis’s multi-year Avengers epic that is secretly a sequel to Alias, I love Invincible Iron Man and Avengers Academy and anything with Iron Fist or Misty Knight in it. My favorite DC Comics are pretty consistently about the women of the “Bat” universe — Batgirl and Birds of Prey, right now. I would certainly be reading any Batwoman or Question comics if they existed right now!
What kind of fangirl activities do you do? Well, I work on this website . . .wait, you know that! I like going to cons – probably just WisCon and Dragon Con this year, but you never know what will come up. I’ve also been involved with some comics podcasts, and more on that front may be developing soon. Other than that, I read, I tweet, I watch DVDs. I don’t think the “fangirl” mentality is limited to tradition “geek” properties, either. I go to a fair number of rock concerts and Shakespeare plays, all of which I approach with similar enthusiasm to geeking out over my favorite comics creator at a con.
So you’re a fangirl of comic books and Shakespeare — is there a connection? Do comic-geeks, theatre-geeks, and music-geeks all accept you as one of their own or do they “not get it”? Oh, not everybody is going to “get” everything. There’s plenty of stuff my friends like that I don’t get. But most of the enthusiasts I spend time with know what it is to be a fan of something, even if my thing isn’t their thing. That’s not to say that I lead every conversation about King Lear with, “This is just like that scene in The Dark Phoenix Saga,” but it’s not like anybody I know would be surprised if I did.
What’s your favorite Shakespeare play? Would it make a good comic? King Lear, in fact! That actually has been adapted into comics a few times recently and. . .the result wasn’t for me, really. I’m sure it could be done, and beautifully, but that play is so much about stumbling around an empty stage and wailing out your pain as much as possible, I don’t know how you adapt it to the page without losing a lot. That’s okay; sometimes a play just wants to be a play. There are some lovely uses of Shakespeare in comics, though. Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest both show up in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, and since they’re about myth-making as much as they’re about drama, it works really well.
I think you might be able to make King Lear into a role-playing game, though. See what choices you can make that don’t result in the “rocks fall, everybody dies” ending. Just a thought.
Led Zeppelin wrote songs about The Lord of the Rings and U2 (Bono and the Edge) wrote the songs for the Spider-Man musical. Is there a collaboration between a musician and a geek property you want to happen? You know, every time I read Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ book Criminal I think, “This could be a Drive-By Truckers song.” And when I listen to a lot of the Truckers’ story songs — “Decoration Day,” for example, which is about the survivor of a family feud who’s torn between taking revenge for a father he hated and just letting the damn thing go — I think, “This could be a great crime comic.” So there ought to be some kind of musical-visual collaboration. They already have some great design elements with their album art by Wes Freed.
Maybe an anthology tied in with an album, like the Tori Amos Comic Book Tattoo collection. Granted, this might have an audience of me and 5 people I know, but you’d think that about a lot of things I like that somehow exist.
Alternatively, Jason Aaron should write a comic about that time in the seventies that Wolverine hung out with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. You know it happened.
What’s your favorite thing about comics? Why do you read them? I like fictional people who do brave and improbable things, who value their friendships and who try hard but really screw up sometimes. I like real people who are creative and enthusiastic about sharing their creative passions. Comic book characters give me the first; comic book fans and creators give me the second. What’s not to love about that?
Thanks for the chat, Caroline. Please get on that King Lear RPG, okay?
Posted by Anika