Mike Pascale takes out the grill
Mike Pascale interviewed Cliff on Jan. 30, 2006 in preparation for a CBG article on METHo.d.
Mike: What do you mean by the term, "Punk Fiction"?
Cliff: Everyone wants to categorize literature. I read somewhere that Fitzgerald’s work was jazz fiction or jazz-age fiction so I called my work punk fiction because of when it occurs. I was probably listening to The Ramones or The Sex Pistols when I wrote it any way. If I’d been listening to Kevin Federline’s muzak, I’d call my stories Poseur Fiction, but I don’t listen to that guy.
Mike: What do you want and/or expect readers to experience and take away from reading the stories in your book? What is your desired response?
Cliff: My desired response is that they’ll read more of my work. What they’ll experience is another story--I think that depends upon whether or not they identify with the main protagonist. It’s kind of like the joke, “What do 30,000 battered women have in common?” Guys and gals react very differently to the punch line.
I always suspected I would attract a male following--you know, down-and-outers, desperate men, con men, hunger artists. Boy, was I wrong. First of all, those cats don’t even read fiction, let alone punk fiction, or poseur fiction, or what have you. My fan mail, all six pieces, have been from college co-eds. I try to imagine them sexy and thin, but who knows?
Mike: What will comic book fans specifically enjoy about these stories?
Cliff: The fact that they have illustrations by artists who are typically trapped drawing comics. You’ve never seen Michael Netzer or Jordan Raskin looking this good; comics just don’t allow it... Moreover, my assumption is that comics readers are real readers, too. And, as such, they’re looking for work that resonates with their mindset, their sense of atmospherics and justice and injustice. When I was a kid, I read lots of things but I preferred comics and Harlan Ellison to everything else--two completely different things, but they were compatible parts of my diet. Like coke and fries. Or coke and speed... Why would a comics’ reader pick up this book? Well, Steranko did the cover. That would make me pick it up. Why read it? I think the stories have a heroin effect.
Mike: Why should readers buy this book?
Cliff: It’s the only one that comes with a complete money-back-if-not-orgasmic refund. Sure wish I could return half of the graphic novels and comics I’ve purchased in my lifetime and didn’t like. Jeez, I’d be rich enough to buy Fantagraphics Publishing and turn it into a septic tank. Or is it Fantagraphics Septic and turn it into a publisher? I can never get that right.