Cliff interviewed by Newsarama - 1/24/06

Catching Up With Cliff Meth & METHo.d.
by Rik Offenberger

Cliff Meth is a comic book columnist and author, known for knowing every past master in the industry. He stopped by Newsarama to chat about his new book, METHo.d. coming from Aardwolf Publishing, which collects thirteen stories with illustrations by some of his friends.

Newsarama: How did you get Jim Steranko to do a cover for you?

Meth: Jim and I have known each other for many years, so it was no trouble at all to pick up the phone and ask him. It was really as easy as that.

NRAMA: Moving inside, what are the stories about?

Meth: Half of the them are about the misadventures of Hank Magitz, a character who suffers through the pangs of an on-going midlife crisis, complete with the go-go bars, the anxiety, the drinking and desperation. When I "invented" Hank some ten years ago, I didn't know him that well, but now that I'm experiencing my own mid-life crisis, we've become much better acquainted. It's easier to write him. The other stories are dark fantasy, borderline science/horror fiction with political overtones.

NRAMA: Where did the title of the book come from?

Meth: The title was suggested by Steranko. I have great admiration for Jim--he has an extraordinary sense of drama and is very much the noir character he plays. I had used the working title "Mean Little Stories" because that describes the book, but Jim said, "Call it METHo.d.--you'll get the double-entendre of 'method to his madness' and over-dosing. It's darker and it fits." I was uncomfortable with this, at first--playing with my last name seemed a little too cutesy, but Jim has certainly been down more roads than I, and arguing with a legend is silly when he's doing your cover. If J.D. Salinger offered to write the intro, even if it were about menstrual cycles of ballerinas in the Ukraine, I wouldn't mind the association.

NRAMA: For those who may not have read your previous books and stories, how would you describe your writing?

Meth: Thatís hard because I never write the same thing twice. I grew up reading Harlan Ellison, Charles Bukowski, and Stan Lee, so I guess my writing combines the worst elements of all three, if thatís possible.

NRAMA: Aside from a Steranko cover, what artists do you have working on this book?

Meth: Steve Lieber (Hawkman), Al Milgrom (Thor), Jordan Raskin (Penthouse Comix), Michael Netzer (Batman), Wm. Messner-Loebs (The Flash), and Paty Cockrum (Claws of the Cat, Elf Quest).

NRAMA: Thatís an impressive list of talent. Are they providing spot illustrations throughout the book or single illustrations?

Meth: Itís all different. Jordan Raskin did a real composition for a single story that should really be a cover--itís that good. Same thing with one of Netzerís pieces; he has several. Messner-Loebs did sequential art.

NRAMA: Some of the stories have already been optioned as movies. Which stories?

Meth: ďSnakesĒ and ďThe Legion of Dysfunctional Heroes,Ē which I did with George Perez, were picked up by Richard Saperstein, who is the new head of Weinsteins. Of course, the whole option business is funny. Perhaps one percent of stories optioned will even get scripted, but it ups your stock. And the money is okay.

NRAMA: How does a story get optioned before it is published?

Meth: Several directors have asked my agent for a first-look. Iím hardly in a position to say no to that.

NRAMA: There is something a little different about this book too, itís got an unconditional money back guarantee. Who came up with this idea?

Meth: Jim Reeber, who owns Aardwolf Publishing. From day one, heís been in my corner and has had more faith in my career than Iíve had. He suggested the money-back guarantee as a vote of confidence on my last book, Godís 15 Minutes. As far as I know, not a single book was returned.

NRAMA: For the publisher this is really a losing proposition, since the distributor and retailer each get a percentage. Aardwolf is really going to give back more money then they receive for the book?

Meth: The guarantee is for books bought directly through Aardwolf. I donít believe that arrangement was made with Diamond, although I do know that smaller distributors like Bud Plant Comic Art have special arrangements with Jim. Shocklines also lists the book as a guaranteed good read.

This is a limited edition of 1500 copies. Why would you want to limit the orders?

Meth: It seemed like a good idea at the time.

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