Cliff interviewed by Comic Book Electronic Magazine
by Paul Dale Roberts
Question: Clifford, what was the first comic book you read?
Meth: Avengers #33, written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Don Heck. I was six years old and hooked for life. That is, until the recent generation savaged the look and feel and story-telling of all Marvel books. Perhaps Chris Claremont's return to Marvel will go a part way toward re-establishing the quality of those books. Perhaps not.
Question: Tell me some family background about yourself. Your personal history, like where you were raised, if your family was normal or dysfunctional, you know what I mean.
Meth: I'm from Rockaway, NJ, which measures into everything I write and do and eat. I was in gangs as a boy. My family was as dysfunctional as the rest -- a monument to dysfunction, I suppose, but as my friend Harlan Ellison likes to say, no one gets out of childhood alive.
Question: Give us some of your comic book background history.
Meth: My only real comics work, per se, has been on Aardwolf #1 & #2 with Dave Cockrum and Marie Severin, One To Go with Mike Pascale, and on The Futurians, again with Dave Cockrum. Marvel has some interest in bringing back The Futurians right now, but the catch would be bringing them into the Marvel Universe, which is difficult because issue #1 of the book saw New York City blown to bits, as it should be, let's face it.
My audience has been built via the trade paperback originals that Aardwolf publishes, which feature illustrations and covers by some of the grander comics creators, such as Alex Toth, Gene Colan, Marie Severin, Joe Linsner, Dave Cockrum, Herb Trimpe, Joe Sinnott, Mike Ploog, and Joe Kubert. These books are better characterized as illustrated fiction for older readers, as opposed to comics. Nevertheless, Diamond has successfully placed them comics shops across the fruited plains.
Question: What comic books are you working on now?
Meth: The current project is called Conflicts of Disinterest, another trade paperback that features 13 new stories, with illustrations by Alex Toth, Gene Colan, Dave Cockrum, Mark Badger, David Boswell, Dave DeVries, Adlai Zander, and Paty. The stories have sexual content and language that put them in the R-rated bin. It's not for people who are used to Marvel or Image comics or New York Times best-sellers. The book also has a sensational painted cover by computer air-brush wiz Jeff Amano, who does TaoLand and an introduction by rock-and-roll legend Peppi Marchello of The Good Rats. Aardwolf has so much confidence in this book that itís offered with a money-back guarantee. Personally, I feel it's my best work to date.
Question: Where do you want to go in the comic book industry? In 5 years? In 10 years?
Meth: I'm just hoping there is a comic book industry in 5 or 10 years.
Question: What other writing projects have you been involved in?
Meth: My short fiction and poems pop up here and there, largely in the little magazines of the academic world. I have a piece forthcoming in The Literary Review, which is a sort of highbrow, international quarterly. Personally, I'm more gratified when I discover GenXers reading my work because they're more likely to click with it.
Meth: If you could be doing anything besides comics, what would that be and why?
Meth: I'd like to sleep with several of the women in this month's Victoria's Secret catalog. And there's a few people I'd like to boot stomp. But outside of that, not much.
Question: What are your feelings about the comic book industry (pro and con)?
Meth: On the thumbs up, it's still fannish enough to allow for personal contact; there's nice people. On the downhill side, the business has been raped and exploited by chiselers and scam artists who crawl out from under every piss rock in the forest. Slugs like Gary Groth are bad for our industry. Bad for air quality, too. And 90% of the writing is sophomoric and dull. But then, McDonalds sells what they call "meat" to people who don't know any better. Go figure.
Question: What advice can you give to inspiring comic book creators?
Meth: Write like Scott Lobdell. No one seems to notice.
Question: What was the worst thing you ever did?
Meth: There was this one girl in high school.
Question: What was the best thing you ever did?
Meth: Marry my wife.
Question: What are some of your hobbies, recreational activities?
Meth: I teach Shotokan karate and fight bullies.
Question: Have you created your own comic book characters? If you have, can you tell us something about them? Will we see them soon?
Meth: Like most writers who hang around this biz, I've created a lot of heroes and villains. I suppose the only ones I found worthwhile were The Legion of Dysfunctional Heroes, which George Perez illustrated for my book Crawling From the Wreckage.
Question: How can someone get a hold of you or check out some of the work you have done?
Meth: Go to Aardwolf's home page or ask for my newest book at Barnes & Noble. People can write to me care of Aardwolf. Don't send poems.
Question: What TV shows do you like?
Meth: What do I need TV when I've got T-Rex?
Question: What books do you like?
Meth: Currently reading John Fante's 1933 Was a Bad Year.
Question: If any established comic book character could crossover with another character, who would it be and why?
Meth: Barbara Gordon and Jean Grey, drunk and under the sheets.
Question: Tell us about the comic books that you worked on, what your role was and some memorable moments.
Meth: Working with Dave Cockrum was a boyhood fantasy come true. Even if he is a pain in the ass.
Question: Why did you choose the comic book field?
Meth: No one else would have me.
Question: What comic books do you read now?
Meth: Anything that Frank Miller or Alan Moore touches. Anything drawn by Gene Colan or John Buscema or Neal Adams. Not much else.
Question: What do you think about self publishing?
Meth: It's like masturbation.
Question: If you could work on any comic book, what comic book would that be and why?
Meth: I'd like to do Daredevil with Gene Colan. Matt Murdock has more potential than most characters; he's brooding and sullen and reminds me of me, to be honest. And Gene Colan is magic.
Question: What comic book conventions have you been at and will be going to soon?
Meth: I attended the very first MarvelCon in 1975 as a boy, where I met Dave Cockrum and George Perez, and that asswipe Barry Smith. I have
no current convention plans, although there's a chance I'll be a guest again at this year's ICON on Long Island in late March.
Question: Tell me who your 3 real life heroes are and why?
Meth: Charles Bukowski, who made the spaghetti I ever tasted, Che Guevara (loved the haircut), and my best friend Dave Vnenchak.
Question: Tell me who your 3 fictional heroes are and why?
Meth: Hank Magitz, because we have the same taste in women; Cordwainer Bird, because we dislike the same people, and Henry Chinaski, who is Hank Magitz' hero.
Question: What do you like the most? Hate the most?
Meth: Like brunettes; hate Lubavitchers.
Question: I guess this wraps the interview up, is there anything you wish to add?
Meth: Just a note of caution to today's comics readers -- don't be satisfied with the mediocrity. Ignore it and it will go away.
(c) 1997 CBEM