Geekout: Interview with Ken Pisani (part 1)

Geekout: Interview with Ken Pisani (part 1)

As promised, this post will be sharing my interview with Ken but before I jump into the Q&A I wanted to share more about his work.

Picture it, a future where Earth has become a dead planet and what remains are survivors destined to colonize Mars and the muck of the world (criminals, sociopaths, outsiders, etc) who have fled to Venus.  Colonus opens three generations later where those on Mars have begun to destroy their colony with overindulgence and colonists riddled with laziness. The outcasts on Venus however, have forged a desirable lifestyle; the byproduct of their hard work and seem to be enjoying life until…. best cliff hanger ever!

“Q: Alrighty then, where to begin… how about a nice ice breaker, What is your favorite candy bar?

A: Kit Kats, but only from the Freezer!

Q: How did you get into the comic book industry?

A: “To be accurate, I’m not in the “industry” yet, though we’re trying hard with the great reception to Colonus and our Geekie Win.

I always loved comics, just devoured them as a kid… no “real” books I was reading at the time resonated as much. (There was no Harry Potter, only Encylopedia Brown.) I always drew as a kid, and over time that kid stuff evolved into more weirdly adolescent work (I was a huge fan of Robert Crumb!) and somehow I eventually became a published illustrator and cartoonist before getting into television.

My interest in comic book storytelling was rekindled when, as a producer on a history channel special, “Comic book superheros: Unmasked!” I got to sit with and interview many of my idols, including Denny O’Neil, Frank Miller, and Will Eisner. I’ve since become good friends with Denny and his wife, Marifran, and Denny and I created a project together as a TV pilot and comic book property that stirred some interest, but no deal.  Subsequent to that, I created “Colonus.”  Although to clarify, I am not the artist… I’m fortunate to have found the amazingly talented Arturo Lauria to bring this to life.

Q: Is there a difference between submitting a novel to a editor and submitting to a comic book editor? (I have heard that one is brutal and the other deadly)

A: Funny you should Ask! I’m shopping my second novel (I never shopped my first one which is probably a good thing)… but out to agents, not editors.  The hard part about both is the waiting… if there were 5 stages, it would go something like this:

1 – THEY’RE GOING TO LOVE THIS!

2- WHY DON’T THEY LOVE THIS?

3 – THEY ARE GIANT ASSHOLES FOR NOT LOVING THIS!

4 – I HATE THIS BUSINESS AND EVERYONE IN IT!

5 (THIS HASN’T HAPPENED YET BUT WILL) – THEY LOVE THIS!!!

Q: Inspirations (people, places, books, music, etc.)?

A: The places that inspire me are the ordinary ones… just sitting, listening, observing, interacting. (If you’re a writer and you’re anyplace in public poking at your smart phone, you just missed you next big idea or small, enormous detail, in the world around you.)  Also, I know it’s childish but I love restaurants and hotels! Where people bring me thing and clean up after me!

I’m inspired by singular visionaries (and would not yet consider myself among them).  Anything you’ve ever found absolutely unique and awesome is invariably the result of a single, specific vision, from the creation of Superman to Peanuts, to Star Wars and the Simpsons.  Attempts to cynically engineer, by committee, that kind of creative success invariably fail.

Books: I’m a great fan of the literary Jonathans: Lethem, Franzen, Safran Foer, Tropper, Ames.  All of Richard Russo’s books. Although my favorite book is Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale… Extraordinary, funny, weird, compelling, magical, and nothing else like it. Ever.

Tv: Writer David Milch. Even the “miss” in his “Hit or Miss” stuff is compelling, like John from Cincinnati and Luck. There are definitely echoes of Milch’s Deadwood in the bad guys versus badder guys in Colonus. I always love the snappy banter of Justified, the surreal ambiguity of Mad Men, the escalating personal stakes of Breaking Bad. and Robot Chicken!!!!

Patton Oswalt, Andy Kindler, Louis CK, could make me laugh even if I was on fire. The coolest song ever is Move on Up by Curtis Mayfield.. (Not to be confused with the Jeffersons theme song!) I used to listen to this on my way to meetings, so wound up when I’d get there it’s surprising I didn’t start taking hostages.

Finally, at the risk of sounding corny: my dad has always been an inspiration. He’s an extraordinarily creative architect (he had buildings in the NY World’s Fair),and just such a solid, good guy.

Continued in Part 2 

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