Allen: Why did you decide to work on “Female Force: Barbara Walters” comic book?
Robert: I wrote to Darren G. Davis after I saw the media buzz surrounding Bluewater’s Michelle Obama comic. I used to write biographical comics a few years back and I was interested in trying my hand at one again. We kicked around a few ideas for possible subjects and settled on Barbara Walters.
Allen: Describe what main idea is for Female Force story.
Robert: I hope to tell the story of Barbara’s life in an entertaining and informative manner. My take is the subjects of these books are superheroes in every sense but one: they don’t have super powers. They have origin stories, they have adventures, and they overcome adversaries. So it’s just like writing an issue of Spider-Man, say, except that instead of crawling walls and fighting the Green Goblin, Barbara is interviewing Sadat and fighting Harry Reasoner.
Allen: Have you ever worked in comic book field before working for Bluewater Productions?
Robert: Yes, I was a writer for Personality Comics and Revolutionary Comics, back in the heyday of biography comic books in the 1990s.
Allen: What was it about Bluewater Productions that made you feel right choice for comic book work?
Robert: They’re good books. There’s care put into the creation and production—not to mention the promotion. They’ve really seemed to hit a chord with people and they’ve created their own niche in the comic book marketplace. You gotta love that.
Allen: Did you ask to work on Barbara Walters story. Did you have other options from Darren Davis?
Robert: We kicked around a few other subjects. In the end, Darren gave me a list of three subjects to choose from. I chose Barbara.
Allen: Tell me about basic story and also length of “Female Force: Barbara Walters” issue.
Robert: It’s 22 pages and I’m telling the story of her life from her childhood to the present.
Allen: Did you use any special writing devices to tell story? What will be person viewpoint?
Robert: I’m using a heightened version of myself as the narrator for the story, as a number of the other writers on these books have done. It’s a great way to get in and out of the story and make the reader feel as if they are discovering the details of this person’s life along with you.
Allen: How did you decide what to write or cut from Barbara Walters’ story?
Robert: I tried to focus on the really important or turning point type events. Also, you keep in mind what will translate best visually. It is a visual medium, after all. You don’t want to bog a comic down with too many words.
Allen: Did you have any contact with Barbara or her staff while writing this story?
Robert: No, I subscribe to the old Todd Loren Revolutionary Comics motto: Unauthorized and Proud of It.
Allen: How long have you had to work on story from first draft to final copy?
Robert: I have been given a very generous deadline, which I am hoping to beat by a wide margin.
Allen: Do you feel more comfortable writing non-fiction or fiction comic book stories?
Robert: I’m a non-fiction guy. I wrote my share of superhero comics back in the day, but mostly I gravitated to the biographies, which is why I’m so glad they’re coming back into fashion.
Allen: When is this comic book expected in the stores? What is best way to get copy?
Robert: In the fall. I would go down to your local comic shop today and start nagging them to stock it.
Allen: What are some comic books that you liked to read in your youth?
Robert: I was always a Marvel guy. So Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil when Miller was doing the book. Iron Man, and of course Power Man and Iron Fist.
Allen: Do you try to read many comic books in present time?
Robert: Not as much as I used to. I have been reading the new comic book adaptation of The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub, but only because I am writing the cover copy.
Allen: Tell me about some of your prior jobs before writing “Female Force: Barbara Walters” comic book?
Robert: I’ve alternated between freelancing full-time and being a wage slave for various media and publishing companies. Mostly I write books, than I realized you couldn’t make a living writing the kind of books I write, and then I have to take a staff job again. It’s like Groundhog Day, really.
Allen: Tell me about some of the books you wrote. What genre would these books be considered by publishers?
Robert: I write non-fiction in an irreverent style that one of my publishers has dared to call “irreference.” Some of my previous titles include Secret Lives of Great Authors, Christopher Walken A-to-Z, and The Encyclopedia Shatnerica—the ultimate guide to the life and career of William Shatner.
Allen: Do you plan on writing any more comic book stories? What other kinds are planned and for what publishers?
Robert: I would love to do more work for Bluewater and hopefully they will ask me to do some.
Allen: What’s your family life like? How old are you? Where do you live?
Robert: I’m old enough to drink but not old enough to take it through an IV tube, let’s put it that way. I live in Brooklyn and the vast majority of my family members are either deceased or incarcerated. Which really takes the stress out of Christmas shopping, let me tell you.
Allen: Tell me about your website. What is the best way to contact you?
Robert: Yes, you can go to www.robertschnakenberg.com and write to me directly. Or just search for me on Facebook and visit my fan page. I need more fans!
Allen: Do you have any comic book convention appearances planned?
Robert: Not at the moment, but when the book comes out I would love to get out there and meet my “people.”
Allen: Who are some others that you would like to see have Female Force stories?
Robert: Darren and I have talked about doing a Sonja Sotomayor comic, to commemorate her ascension to the Supreme Court. I also think Rachel Maddow would make a great comic book character.
Allen: What do you like doing with your free time?
Robert: I watch baseball; I watch old movies and television shows. I read a lot and I play with my dog.
Allen: What kind of new books are you working on? Who will they be published through?
Robert: I have a book coming out next year from Quirk Books called Secret Lives of Great Filmmakers. I’m also working on a unique baseball encyclopedia for Triumph Books in Chicago.
Allen: What do you feel inspires your creativity?
Robert: Tanqueray #10.
Allen: I think this is great place to conclude interview. Would you like to give any closing thoughts?
Robert: I would just like to urge Barbara Walters to please, please, please invite me to come on The View to promote the comic. It would really be a career highlight for me.
Allen: Thank you Robert Schnakenberg. I hope to interview you again on future comic book story.
Robert: Thank you. See you in the funny pages.