Allen: Tell me about yourself Gary Reed. Do you come from family with history of working in comic book industry?
Gary: No, I was the first and only. All my brothers read comics when they were little but like most kids, they abandoned them when they got older. I got into comics after opening my first bookstore and just added comics as something to entice kids into the store. I had no idea that decision would send me into an entirely new direction.
Allen: Do you recall some of the first comic books you ever read?
Gary: I read just about any comic, didnít matter. Iím dating myself but I remember all the early Marvels as that was the exciting thing going on although I liked a lot of the DC titles especially things like Challengers of the Unknown, Adam Strange, and was a big fan of the Metal Men when I was a kid. I probably started with the usual, Batman and Superman. They were the most accessible. Comics werenít a big deal or anything but I read just about everything that came out. I used to go to the soda fountains that every drug store had, buy a soda and just read comics for hours on end.
Allen: What inspired you to want to write comic book stories?
Gary: When I started, it was partially just a business decision but I was always interested in writing. I won a writing scholarship and so I started thinking more about writing. I found I had someone of a knack for it in college and once I turned towards comics, I realized what a great medium it was to tell stories. I still think it is one of the most compelling ways to create worlds and tales.
Allen: What was your first professional work?
Gary: Iím not sure which came out first but I think it was a short story for Caliber Presents #1. It was called ďTrue LoveĒ and told the tale of a prostitute who resisted a rescue by a john who fell in love with her and wanted to marry her to get her out of the business. She couldnít do it because she was too young to get married. Art was by Vince Locke and Mark Bloodworth and it looked great. But at the same time, the first issue of Baker Street was coming out. That was a punk version of Sherlock Holmes that I co-created with Guy Davis. Iím not sure what came after that.
Allen: What kind of stories do you like to write?
Gary: I usually dabble in historical areas although I certainly donít feel restricted to that. Itís just something that interests me quite a bit. I think a lot of my work is introspective, not of me, but of the characters. Thatís why I wanted to do something like A Murder of Scarecrows as it is much more of an action and adventure tale. But I managed to get some introspective scenes in there, of course.
Allen: Do you have favorite projects that youíve written?
Gary: Some projects stand out. Renfield for example, I loved doing the stories of Saint Germaine and Raven Chronicles, two serials. Usually if someone wants one single project to get an idea of my writing, I tell them to get ďOf Scenes and Storiesí which is a large collection of short stories and scenes from various longer works. It provides a wide and varied sampling of my work and I think it stands up pretty well.
Allen: Tell me about original graphic novel A Murder of Scarecrows. Please go into depth about setting and time period of story.
Gary: Itís set in Colonial America and although the American Revolution hasnít started yet, there is definite tension between the occupying forces of the British and the American townspeople. That was one of the problems in the years prior to the Revolution, the stationing of soldiers. Most Americans were proud to be British subjects and viewed themselves as one extended family.
However, when the situation over taxes, representation, and economic growth started to spill over, the arriving troops from Britain had a different attitude towards the colonists and vice versa. So, the animosity has been brewing at the beginning of the story and it escalates from there.
Allen: Are Scarecrow and The Freedom Fighters based on historical stories?
Gary: No, not really. There were many rebellious groups, especially involved in smuggling and there were some colorful nicknames but the Scarecrow is not based on specific person. I chose the Scarecrow because it was a unifying thread between the English and later, the Americans. Itís something that is very Anglo so I thought that would be a good symbol as it means the same to both sides. The Freedom Fighters or is possibly one of the most over-used names in history and I use it more of a description of their goal rather than their designated name. They may call themselves Freedom Fighters or Freedom Riders but the British wouldíve called them Rebels or Traitors. Just like Iím sure the Taliban claim to be freedom fighters whereas we label them terrorists. It all depends which side youíre on.
Allen: When can we find this graphic novel on the stands?
Gary: Itís expected out in January. The book is completely drawn but sometimes with printers, you never know so it might be February but it should definitely fall close to the scheduled time. It depends on your comic store on whether they carry it or not but itís available online and many different places including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Books-a-million, and others.
Allen: Tell me about your past and now present work with noted historical artist Wayne Reed?
Gary: Wayne first started doing work with me when I had Caliber. I donít really remember his first project but I think he had sent in a submission. It may have been a Lovecraft story he did, I just donít remember. I worked with him on a fully painted book based on the later life of El Cid, the great warrior of Spain and then we did the Zulunation series about the British war against the Zulus. Wayne contributed quite a bit to other series such as Lovecraft, Sinergy, and he did the first four issues with Jim Calafiore on Camelot Eternal, a King Arthur adventure. There are plans to collect that into a trade and Jim is going to do a new cover for it. Zulunation is already collected from Transfuzion and the El Cid will be collected next year in full color instead of the half tone version that was released in comic book format a long time ago.
Now that Wayneís done with A Murder of Scarecrows, weíll be working on another original graphic novel that I donít want to give too much away about yet. Itís a murder mystery that takes place in the early 1900ís.
Allen: What conventions will you be attending or have attended?
Gary: After attending most of the cons and trades shows when I had Caliber, I stopped going to most shows for a few years. Then three years ago I did the Motor City Convention and Wizard World Chicago, just because both are in driving distance. I have a mixed feeling about cons. I enjoy seeing the people, the fans and friends Iíve made over the years, but they can be draining, both physically and financially. I like being a guest as that way I donít have to deal with the setup but going as a publisher or in artist alley also has its merits.
So, Iíve been to virtually every show, I think I went to San Diego Con for 12 straight years or something but I havenít been back there in about 6 years. Not sure what the plans are for 2009 as I havenít made up my mind yet but not likely to do too many.
Last year I did some bookstore signings and library visits and those are completely different experiences. Not as much fun as comic cons but definitely much shorter.
Allen: How can someone contact you?
Gary: Easy. I have my website at www.garyreed.net . Thereís an email link there.
Allen: Are there samples of your prior or present works on websites you know about?
Gary: Of course, I have quite a few projects with Desperado (www.desperadopublishing.com) so there is stuff up there. The Caliber Comics website (www.calibercomics.com) is kept active, primarily as an archival site. A lot of my stuff can be found in digital format on Drive Thru Comics (www.drivethrucomics.com) and is available for downloading.
Allen: If you could go into any time machine, what year would you stop at and tell me why. You would be able to return to present time period.
Gary: I donít know. I think it would vary from day to day but Iíd like to see the early days of this country, see the interactions of the founding fathers as they debated on how to set up the government and get an inkling at what their true motivations were. Iím not suggesting they had ulterior motives such as economics or anything but it would be fun to see their thought processes.
Allen: What TV shows, movies, cartoons do you like?
Gary: I donít watch much network TV. I watch The Lost but I think Iím sort of just sticking it out at this point. I did watch the first season of Heroes, missed the second season, and growing bored with the third season. I like Mad Men and I loved Rome. There really isnít much in the way of ďcanít missĒ TV for me as I tend to watch the History Channel or Discover.
I guess for movies, Iím most interested in drama whether it takes place in a mystery or some other genre. I donít care for horror movies, especially the splatter ones and I donít like most romantic comedies. So many movies seem formulaic so I like the ones that take you places where you least suspect. I enjoyed Usual Suspects, Momento, Pulp Fiction... stuff like that because you didnít know what was going to happen next. There is nothing worse than watching a predicable movie.
I donít watch cartoons at all.
Allen: What kinds of books do you have in your personal library?
Gary: The vast majority are non-fiction, usually dealing with the topics of history or biological sciences especially in microbes, evolution, and everyday science. For fiction, I have a few writers I follow but not necessarily read all of their books such as Martin Cruz Smith, Dennis LehaneÖa couple others.
Allen: Have you ever thought about writing novels?
Gary: Actually Iím working on a couple of them now. One is based on Deadworld and the other is a look at Lucifer but from his side of things. There are a few Iím interested in doing but comics allow me to tell stories in a much quicker way. There are benefits and drawbacks on both forms.
Allen: What comic books do you read now?
Gary: Really donít read much in comics. I find a lot of them like movies, just too formulaic. I donít really care for superheroes although I liked Watchmen. My all time favorites are probably From Hell and V for Vendetta and I like Sandman quite a bit.
Allen: Will there be any more Scarecrow and the Freedom Rider stories?
Gary: The plan is to do each story as a stand alone one shot in the original graphic novel format. But that means each story has to be able to be enjoyed completely in of itself. One of the things alluded to in this first graphic novel is that there was a previous Scarecrow so that might be the focus of the next tale. A lot depends on how well this one sells. Isnítí that always the way?
Allen: Are there any other comic book projects you are working on?
Gary: Iím still putting out some collections. Thereís a third Saint Germaine trade coming out that will have quite a bit of new stuff in it such as a story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame and a look at Genghis Khan. Another collection, Sinergy, is a modern retelling of Danteís Inferno and collects the Caliber series but there are some new levels of hell included and some reworking of previous ones. I have a hybrid book-graphic novel coming out called Subversives. This is a look at rebels, traitors, spies, and the like through out history. That should be out next summer.
Allen: Thank you Gary for working with me on this interview. Would you like to leave any encouraging words of wisdom?
Gary: I donít know if I have any wisdom to share... I need all I got. I guess I could remind people that there is no master plan to how things work in the universe so that means you have to deal with finding a good plan B.