The Devil You Know: Ray Wise on Reaper

Ray Wise

It's high noon on Friday the thirteenth, and I've got the Devil on the phone.

Any other time this might give a writer cause for concern. But the Devil in this case is Ray Wise, the face and force behind the diabolical tempter on the CW series, Reaper -- so I shouldn't have anything at all to worry about.


Part game show host, part used car salesmen, Wise's Devil makes for a perfectly charming fallen angel who relishes torturing Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison) whose soul he owns, and whom he tasks with collecting escaped souls from Hell.

The villain is, notoriously, the best role to play, and it certainly seems like you're enjoying yourself.

Yes, indeed.

You pull off such a great bad guy -- like Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks or Hal Gardner in 24. Do you think casting directors see something in your personality that leads you toward these kind of roles?


Lora Innes: Bringing History and Comics Together

Lora Innes is one of many new friends I made on my annual trip to Pittsburgh this year. She is the creator of one of the finest webcomics I've ever seen, The Dreamer. She's a die-hard history buff, a fantastic artist, and a wonderful person. She even took time off from her comic recently to help the people who were devastated by the floods in Iowa. Lora was kind enough to share with me her thoughts on The Dreamer, her creative process and her views on gender in the industry.

How were you first introduced to the world of comics?


Ernie Hudson: Everything's Jake

Ernie Hudson

When I was given the opportunity to interview Ernie Hudson, I'll be honest: my first thought was, "What's he done since 'Ghostbusters'?" Then I learned he was promoting a new DVD called "Everything's Jake." So I said, "Okay, let me take a look at that, and we'll move on from there." So they did, and so I did, and so here we are. And I couldn't have been more pleased. Hudson is a man who's passionate about what he does and what he believes in, with concrete opinions about the message of "Everything's Jake," acting on television, and the ongoing WGA writers' strike.


Kathy Garver: An AFFAIR to Remember

Kathy Garver Family Affair

Fans will recognize Kathy Garver's face from her scores of television appearances, not the least of which was the role of Cissy in the Don Fedderson classic series, Family Affair. But if you have a discerning ear, you may find that you're more familiar with Ms. Garver's work than you might have realized, as the actress has continued to keep quite busy up through even today.

Through the magic of cellular phones, we caught up with Ms. Garver while she was en route to a celebrity golf tournament, after which she was slated to deliver a carload of Mrs. Beasley dolls and ornaments loaded in the backseat for an autograph show at the Beverly Garland Hotel in Studio City for fans of Family Affair, the fourth season of which is just now becoming available on DVD.


Stephen Anderson: Meet the Director Behind "Meet the Robinsons"

Stephen Anderson Disney Meet Robinsons

Stephen Anderson has over ten years of experience working for Disney's animation department. Starting as a story artist on "Tarzan," Anderson continued with other successful Disney projects like "The Emperor's New Groove" and "Brother Bear."

Most recently, Anderson has graduated to directing for the Mouse House, and his latest venture, "Meet the Robinsons," is soon to appear on DVD. In advance of that release, we spoke with Anderson about animators directing animators, creating eccentric characters, and working with musicians and voice actors.


Alton Brown: Forging THE NEXT IRON CHEF

Alton Brown Iron Chef Food Network

James Brown may have been the hardest working man in showbiz. But when the showbiz is also the food biz, nobody is working harder than the guy who made it cool for men to cook, the MacGyver of all things culinary, the ubiquitous and always multi-tasking Alton Brown. You've seen him host Good Eats, traveled with him while he was Feasting on Asphalt, and cheered on competitors as he emcees Iron Chef. Now, Brown will present yet another show on Food Network: The Next Iron Chef.

Gee, pretty soon somebody's going to have to give this guy his own network!


Ellen Hopkins: Sculpting the Words Behind GLASS

Ellen Hopkins Glass author

Authors often draw upon the well of their experiences as a source for their art. For New York Times bestselling writer Ellen Hopkins, that well is deep, dark, and painful. Through her verse-novels Crank and its sequel Glass, readers are taken on a journey into the world of a young meth addict, seeing through her eyes the impact she has on her family, her friends, and ultimately herself. It's an eye-opening story, and one that couldn't really have been written with the same vision had Hopkins herself not had to live the nightmare, when one of her children became addicted to "the monster" drug, crystal meth.

You've mentioned that this story is "loosely based" on family events. Does the writing act as an abatement or catharsis for what plainly must have been an extremely painful time for your family?


Lou Scheimer: A Candid Conversation with Filmation's Founder

Lou Scheimer

I've been lucky to do a number of interviews with influential people through the course of my career. I don't do an awful lot of them, but I've done enough to generate a conversation at a dinner party, if ever I should attend one. However, there are a few interview opportunities that have come my way that exceed fortune. I haven't been lucky to talk with these people -- I've been blessed. Thurl Ravenscroft, Dan DeCarlo, Mort Walker, Stan Lee... pioneers all, and veterans of their craft who impacted the world in so many ways, some of them not always through the things for which they are most remembered.

I can now add Lou Scheimer to that list.


Warren Murphy and James Mullaney: Building a Better Destroyer

To protect the Constitution, it became necessary to break it. And so creators Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir came up with a man who could do what needed doing, accomplish the things which no one else was capable of. His name was Remo... but he became known as The Destroyer. A hero to many, a political nightmare to even more, the Destroyer novels have garnered a large and loyal fan following who have stuck with the character even through the lean years. He's a classic man of action in the school of such pulp heroes as Doc Savage -- except that where Doc was the head of his agency, Remo falls more at the bottom of CURE's food chain.


Bruce Campbell: On Making Love, Books, and Movies

Bruce Campbell

It's easy to be a Bruce Campbell fan. One gets the sense that he is what he appears to be: capable, hardworking, smart, with a keen sense of his strengths and limitations. The hard part is trying to figure out just how good he is at his craft, how good he could be, given the right role, the right script, the right director, with something bigger than a B-movie budget and a shooting schedule extending beyond two weeks.

Given that you had relatively minor roles in your friend Sam Raimi's mega-blockbuster Spiderman movies (the carny-like fight announcer in the first film, the boorishly obstinate theater usher in the second), did the inspiration for Make Love!* The Bruce Campbell Way spring from these 'small-role-big-movie' Spider-man experiences?

Yes and no. I've been in and out of studio films like "Congo" for years, so it's my overall experiences that became amalgamated into an original Hollywood tale.


Vincenzo Natali: Turtles All The Way Down

Canadian director Vincenzo Natali's latest film "Nothing" will soon be released on DVD. Natali's first feature-length film, "Cube", about a group of amnesiac strangers trapped in a giant, lethal puzzle box, garnered high praise for its smart scripting, conceptual originality, and deft direction. Natali's second effort, "Cypher", a futuristic story of shifting identity and corporate espionage starring Lucy Liu and Jeremy Northam, demonstrated an increasing sophistication of means and greater command of pacing. And "Nothing?" Unlike Natali's previous films, "Nothing" can safely be considered a comedy, although the comedic elements are an aspect (albeit an important aspect), not the whole.


Geoff Johns, Engineer of Destruction: On Crisis, Continuity, and Consistency of Character

If you're not familiar with the impending Crisis occurring within the continuity of DC Comics... well, you probably aren't reading this article. For those of you who are, you're very likely aware of the role one of the main architects, Geoff Johns, plays in the current restructuring.

Plans for the future of DC have been kept Top Secret. And while we tried to worm as much out of Geoff as we could without resorting to violating the Geneva Convention, we were only able to glean a few nuggets of information -- not enough to inspire a Sutter's Mill rush, but enough to keep us panning away until Infinite Crisis debuts in just a few short weeks.

You've recently been appointed the official "Keeper of the Continuity" for DC. Can you elaborate on what this entails?

I'm a Consultant Editor along with Grant Morrison and Mark Waid. It's not just about continuity -- it's about "One Year Later" and all the stuff going on during Crisis.


Thurl Ravenscroft: He's Grrrrr-eat!

Thurl Ravenscroft

Author's note, May 24, 2005: It's been less than 30 minutes since I heard the heart-rending news that Thurl Ravenscroft had just passed away at the age of 91. Many people are unfamiliar with Mr. Ravenscroft and his work. Those who have a passing acquaintance may know of some of his more famous voice acting roles.

I was privileged and honored to speak with the man a few years back and learned there was so much more to Thurl than a career behind a microphone. Actor. Singer. Veteran. Mister Ravenscroft, you will be missed. You were, indeed, great.


Geoff Johns: Man out of Time

Geoff Johns is, by many accounts, one of the more prolific writers in comics today. Following a fan-favorite run on Marvel's AVENGERS, he currently writes TEEN TITANS, JSA, FLASH and, recently, HAWKMAN. He also has another hot project up his sleeve planned for later this year. One assumes Mr. Johns must have perfected a time machine--or at least a method of making it stand still long enough for him to keep apace with his current rate of output.

We were able to coax Geoff away from his scripting for a precious few minutes to get some of his insights into the characters he's currently working with.


Stan Lee: On Green Brutes and Blonde Strippers

Stan Lee 2003 Critical Blast

Stan Lee. If you want to talk about comic book creators with your non-comic friends, his name is one of a select few you can bring up with a good chance he'll be someone they've heard of. He's not the father of the modern comic book--that title goes to men who came before him. He's more the favorite uncle, the one your mother isn't crazy about, but who never forgets to bring you a surprise whenever he comes to visit and who always has a treasure trove of amazing, incredible, and uncanny stories to tell, some of which might even be fantastic enough to be true.

We spoke with Stan "The Man" Lee a little over a week after HULK--another one of his marvelous brainchildren--debuted on the big screen, and even snuck in a question or two about PUNISHER and STRIPPERELLA.


David vs. Goliath, Round 2: WildStar vs. the Wild Stars

"You can’t fight city hall, we’re told. The folks with the bucks get all the breaks.

But sometimes -- just sometimes, mind you -- the little guy wins.


In 1984, Michael Tierney did something that many comic fans would like to do: he created and published his own comic book, Wild Stars. By doing so, he created more than just a book--he birthed a trademark.

"You have a ‘common law’ trademark if you show use," explains Tierney. "I did the comic in ’84. I did the portfolio in ’86. I did another comic book in ’88. I was getting ready to start publishing again in the early ‘90s -- because the industry was really booming right then. My timing was bad in ’84 and ’88, because I was right in front of the black and white boom, and I was right after the black and white bust. So I was waiting for a right time."


Budd Root: Rooting Around the Basement with Cavewoman

He's the creative force behind Basement Comic's flagship title, Cavewoman. But who is Budd Root, really? While investigating another story (stay tuned, folks), I had the opportunity to speak with Budd about comics, Cavewoman, and... the Marine Corps?

What made a U.S. Marine want to become a comic book writer?


Dan DeCarlo: Archie, Josie and Dan

When discussing the Grand Old men that made the comics industry what it is today, you can't go too long without bringing up Dan DeCarlo, one of the originals of the Timely bullpen and a mainstay at Archie for decades. His creation of Josie for Archie Comics, and the Josie and the Pussycats movie, stirred up a controversy that once again brought creator's rights to the forefront of industry headlines.

Dan isn't with us any longer. Sadly, he passed on, too short a time after this phone conversation. But I learned more about the golden age of comics from Dan than I ever did from any book or magazine article.

Godspeed, Dan DeCarlo.

Your first work in the comics industry was with Timely Comics (which later became Marvel). What were you working on with them?

I started working with Timely in 1946. Stan Lee hired me.


Greg Rucka: A Good Enough Man For Any World

He's killed one person, crippled a second, and forced a third into retirement (after shooting him in the back three times!) With that kind of a track record, how do people feel about him?

They love him!

Of course, we're talking about Greg Rucka, the new creative talent in the Batman stables at DC. Having made his comic book writing debut during the controversial "No Man's Land" (in which he killed Jim Gordon's wife, Sarah), Rucka, an experienced mystery novelist with several books to his credit, has continued to rock Batman's world with unexpected events and some darn fine writing.

I had an opportunity to speak with Greg as he was coming off his latest shakeup of the Batman universe: the retirement of Police Commissioner, James Gordon.

You've written crime novels about cops and bodyguards. Is writing Batman a natural extension of what you've done before?


Scott Adams: A Phone Conversation From My Cubicle With Dilbert's Creator

Scott Adams and Dilbert

Nine hours a day, I stare at a computer monitor. I'm surrounded on three sides by cloth-covered panels that are nearly as tall as I am. My doorway cannot be closed. My neighbors' conversations (and, indeed, my neighbors themselves) drift in and out throughout the day.

Stuck to the walls with thumbtacks are the office worker's one sine qua non: Dilbert cartoons. Culled from newspapers, Internet printouts, and calendar pages, these business environment cartoons are sometimes the only anchors of sanity in an otherwise insane setting. They help us to laugh, lest we should cry.

It's the perfect place from which to call Scott Adams, creator of the funny pages phenomenon known as Dilbert, and wrest away a few precious minutes of his time. Hey, anything to break the monotony of creating yet another way to look at the same sales figures, right?


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