Interview: Tony Moore – The Walking Dude

Interview: Tony Moore – The Walking DudeAlex Wilson writes for Bleeding Cool;

Tony Moore goes along the convention circuit every year, attending major events in the comic book industry and talking with excited fans. Moore is currently working on a run of "Deadpool" with Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan. I talked with Moore about Deadpool, his life in the industry, and his advice for people trying to break into the comic book industry.

How did you first get your start in the comic book industry?

Robert Kirkman and I had known each other since we were kids. We went through school together and graduated the same year. I went off to college, and he went into the work force. As I was finishing my Freshman year, he called me up and asked if I was interested in getting together and making some comics, which of course, I was. Over the next few months, we hammered out Battle Pope, which was our first book, and it was published under our own company called Funk-O-Tron. Small gigs led to bigger gigs, and the rest is history. I've always been of the mindset that if you're an aspiring comics creator and plan on practicing anyway, you might as well cut your teeth on a book of your own. You can sit around and do practice pages all you want, but nothing propels you through those growing pains like pouring it all into an actual book that you put out onto the stands. That's still one of my biggest thrills.

New York Comic Con just ended. How did you enjoy the convention? Do you have any good fan or convention in general stories?

The convention was grueling, downright brutal on Saturday. But then again, I don't go to those things to have fun anymore. I know full well that there will come a day when the fans' favor doesn't shine so brightly upon me, so my wife and I are out at these things as often as possible, making hay while the sun shines. This often ends in an "all work, no play" scenario, but as I often say, this travel isn't a vacation, it's a vocation.

That said, I do get to meet some great folks. Rabid fans, the odd celebrity every once in a while. I once met this one guy who was a huge beast of a fellow, looked like he could take me apart and put me back together again, really intimidating looking dude. He walked up to me with quite a bit of sweat beaded on his brow, and reached out to shake my hand, which I gladly accepted. As I grasped his hand, I could feel that he was literally shaking and I could see in his face that he was actually quite nervous. I don't understand that, in regards to me. I'm a dumpy dad who sits in his PJs all day drawing monsters, and never remembers to take out the trash. I'm no rockstar, for sure. But I get it. Not all that for me, but I get being nervous. I've been on that same side of the table, pacing and rumbling, mealy mouthed and trying to work up the nerve to approach guys like Kevin Nowlan and Geof Darrow. I've met Hollywood stars and rock gods, and have been scarcely put in the same position of awe as I am when I get to meet artists whose work I so deeply respect and admire. So, while I don't get it as it applies to me, I understand being there, and it honors me profoundly that anyone feels that way about anything i've done.

As for New York, a guy came up decked out in a GREAT Battle Pope costume, which completely made my weekend. I figure nobody's even read that thing, much less devoted real time and effort into crafting a spot-on costume like this dude had. I was delighted to see it, and moved that the book had inspired him to put together such a thing.

Deadpool is coming out soon. What made you want to work that book in particular?

The collaborators and the plot they cooked up. I was honestly never a huge fan of Deadpool, but when I heard my pals Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan were writing it, and they told me the general plot, I knew I had to dive in and go on that ride.

How has working with Brian Posehn been?

Brian's great. He's a comedic genius, and really gets comics as a medium. We worked together briefly on a short story for Eric Powell's The Goon several years ago, and I also did a cover for Brian's book, The Last Christmas, which incidentally, he co-created and co-wrote with Gerry Duggan. They're an awesome team, and they're really receptive to any input I manage to have, which is great. It really feels like a team effort, which makes it easy to invest myself in, creatively.

You have been working with Marvel the last few years. Is Marvel becoming your new home?

I don't know if it's exactly my new home or not, but it's definitely a place where I really like working with my friends. I've gotten to do some great stuff with sue great folks over there over the last few years, most of it was stuff that I'm still amazed we've gotten away with. Axel Alonso has been pretty directly overhead on most of the projects I've done, and the editors with him have all been super receptive to the most insane ideas we've managed to cook up, which has made it more fun than I ever thought it could be.

You create the art for a lot of books and covers. Do you prefer working on covers or taking on the longer projects of book interiors?

I like telling stories, so I love doing interiors, but when you're working on a scheduled book, sometimes you have to resign yourself to the fact that every panel can't be a home run, and you just have to call it "done enough." Covers, though, are generally my one chance to invest myself fully into a single image from start to finish, and stop when I feel like it's done. If anything comes out wrong, I can only blame myself, but regardless, it's my own complete voice on the page for that single image, and I can know I gave it my all.

Has the lawsuit affected how you view and choose creative partners when it comes to collaborative work?

I've definitely learned some lessons the hard way. But the flip side has shown me a lot about how people treat each other with respect, as well. Rick Remender and I have been partnered up pretty tightly for the last almost a decade, and have plans for future projects already in the works. I think our creative relationship has lasted so long because we have a mutual respect for each other and what that person brings to the table.

Do you prefer to work on original series or established series? Why?

I like playing in the Corporate Comics sandbox sometimes, but I don't want to spend my whole life walking around in other people's footsteps. I like telling new stories and creating new characters with my friends. No matter how much a love what I do at Marvel, it's never mine. I don't own it, it's just a job. With creator-owned stuff, though, it's an investment in something I have a real stake in, and the thrill of building something brand new.

What advice do you have for young artists and creators trying to get into the industry?

I always say the same thing. If you want to do this, you'd better love it like you've never loved anything before. Jack Kirby once said, "Comic Books will break your heart." And that's absolutely true. The work will drain you mentally and physically, and the incredible highs are matched by grueling lows. But you do it because you can't fathom doing anything else. Like a battered wife, you keep coming back, thinking, "maybe it'll be better this time." But those who are driven to do it will just do it, without thought. It's a compulsion. That's what separates the guys who want to do it from the guys who ARE doing it.

What are you currently reading? In and out of comic books?

I rarely get to read for my own enjoyment. if i'm conscious enough to read and comprehend, then i'm generally investing that brainpower into getting my own work done. That said, I do love Jason Aaron and RM Guera's SCALPED. I also read and re-read a lot of old EC books. Those guys were the masters. I also love reading stuff by Robert Crumb, Dan Clowes, Vaughn Bode, and whatever else is off the beaten path. I've really been enjoying Michael Deforge's stuff, as well as Johnny Ryan and Benjamin Marra. But yeah, it's a rare treat these days to get a moment to absorb anything, and sometimes it's like working at the candy factory– some days after making it all day, you're not exactly excited by the prospect of eating it.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.