Cliff interviewed by Fanboy Planet - 1/22/06
Cliff Meth Prepares a METHo.d.
Interviewing a decent human being with a dark imagination...
by Derek McCaw
We first met writer Cliff Meth when legendary comics artist Dave Cockrum faced crushing medical bills and a terrible financial situation. A long-time friend of Cockrum's, Meth contacted every website, comics journalist and professional he could think of to call attention to the artist's plight. He's good people. But then, Harlan Ellison knew that, and told our contributor Jason Sacks all about it.
The Dave Cockrum story had a relatively happy ending, with the creator of Nightcrawler (among others) receiving a nice settlement that helped restore his financial health. But of course, the comics industry has tended to eat its old professionals, and soon enough Meth sounded the horn again when hard times hit William Messner-Loebs.
Having worked on both sides of fandom, as a fanzine writer then a professional, Meth has garnered many friendships among the giants that influenced our childhood imaginations, and he has fierce loyalty toward them. Clearly, the affection is returned, and a few nights ago we spoke with Cliff Meth about his new collection from Aardwolf Publishing, METHo.d., due out in March but available for ordering in the January Previews.
Described by the publisher as a collection of "angry tales," the 110-page book features illustrations from top talents like Steve Lieber, Messner-Loebs, Al Milgrom, with a cover and design by the legendary Steranko. As if that wasn't enough, Meth even got an introduction by Peter David. We spoke for a while about this new collection and spun a few remembrances.
Derek McCaw: What can we expect out of this book?
Cliff Meth: Mean little stories. In fact, it was supposed to be called Mean Little Stories, but but Jim Steranko, who designed the cover, really liked METHo.d. and it's hard to say no to Jim. It's largely dark/fantasy-type stuff, but not straight up.
McCaw: I see you've got Messner-Loebs onboard doing art, which is something we haven't seen from him for some time. How did you get him to do it?
Meth: Bill and I go back 30 years. We worked on some fanzine stuff in the mid-70s and we've been pals ever since. In fact, we're co-writing a graphic novel together right now... I showed him some of the stories from this book and gave him the pick of the litter. He liked one called "Back on The Horse" and called his art "Back on the Whores," which was fitting.
McCaw: With all these excellent comic book artists illustrating your stories, why aren't you writing, comic book stories rather than illustrated fiction? Or is that a euphemism?
Meth: I love comics -- the industry, fandom -- and I collect artist friends like others collect comics, but I've always considered myself a real writer, if you'll excuse the expression. I don't write specifically for a visual medium. I write stories you can read without visual aids.
McCaw: You consider yourself a real writer, yet are eager for film optioning. Does that conflict in any way? Or do you plan on adapting yourself to the screen?
Meth: I don't see a conflict. I learned to write short stories by reading the great science fiction masters. They'd be the first to tell you that options give you the money -- and thus the time -- to pursue serious projects. Of course, I'd rather do the screenplays myself, and suspect I might get the opportunity. I've spent the last 18 months working on film projects and just finished a stint working with Peter David on Gene Roddenberry's "Starpoint Academy" for IDT Entertainment. I've also adapted Dave Cockrum's Futurians for the screen, also for IDT.
McCaw: I'm a big Futurians fan. That's cool to know.
Meth: One can only hope it will actually get made. But the screenplay is done. I've updated it, somewhat -- the dialogue to closer to the way I write than Dave's original graphic novel, but the plot was his, with some twists. I added a romance.
McCaw: You've collected many artist friends. You have people like Steranko working on your projects. Is there anyone you're dying to hook up with that you haven't yet?
Meth: Mark Texeira. We talk about it, but when we get together, we end up getting drunk. His fault. Not mine... I was turned down by [Steve] Ditko.
McCaw: What did you want Ditko to do?
Meth: A story. A cover. Anything. Aardwolf was delighted to pay his price, but Steve didn't like my stories. Said they were too negative. That was ten years ago... But I've been very lucky. I've had covers by Joe Kubert, Gray Morrow, Michael Kaluta, Mike Ploog, Dave Cockrum, Joe Linsner, Gene Colan, illustrations by Alex Toth, Marie Severin... I regret that I never asked John Buscema. We had a nice friendship. He was close with the Cockrums, who I'm very close with, and he did some art for me that hangs in my home, but I never asked him to illustrate a story. Big mistake.
Whether it's luck as the gracious Meth would have it, or the Americanized concept of karma, the energetic writer continues getting the best in the business to collaborate with him on his flights of dark fancy.
METHo.d. has a cover price of $14.95, and Aardwolf Publishing offers all of Cliff's books (and possibly all their output -- but don't quote us) with a money-back guarantee. As Meth himself asked, "how's that for confidence?"
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