Joe Loves Crappy Movies Volume One was one of my favorite books coming out of last month’s New York Comic Con—in the giant stack of books that I got to review there were a number of good reads, a slightly larger number of stinkers…and a small handful of books that I just fell in love with right away. Joe Loves Crappy Movies is an inoffensive, pop culture answer to Joe Matt—a guy who uses himself as the main character, and acknowledges that he’s not always right, or brilliant…but ultimately doesn’t let it ruin him. And as an added bonus, it has some great insights into American cinema (such as that all Vin Diesel movies are better if you watch them drunk). Joe Dunn, the creator of the webcomic and consequently of the collected edition, talked to Blog@ about the book, which has been on the shelves for a little over a month.
Blog@Newsarama: Can you give the readers who may not have seen the site what Joe Loves Crappy Movies is all about, in a nutshell?
Joe Dunn: Sure it’s basically I combined my love of making comics and my love of going to the movies. Every movie I see, I’ll make a comic about sort of making fun of it and then I’ll write a detailed review of it, kind of pointing out the good points and sliming the bad ones. I wanted to get those two worlds together and sort of get a discussion of movies and comics started on my site.
Blog@: Just because of timing, and the fact that you’re a movie guy, I have to ask: What did you think of Watchmen?
JD: It’s tough; I’m going to be one of those people who says I was a big fan of the book, and I’m having a really hard time separating it. It was a really faithful adaptation and the movie was so much fun, but my official opinion is that it was beautiful, it was fun, but sort of dead behind the eyes and it didn’t have the same kind of emotional impact the book had.
Blog@: Can you get a little bit into the head of the flick and tell me what it is that made that happen?
JD: It’s almost as if they got really distracted by adapting it—so much of it so faithful to the comics, and it’s almost like they were too worried about getting the picture on the wall and the tear in Rorschach’s jacket right and forgot to make people care.
Blog@: Back to the strip—what was the impetus for collecting now?
JD: People have been asking me for a while if I was going to collect—that seems to be the rage in webcomics right now. I always found it to be a daunting task because collecting the comics as well as the reviews seemed like too much work but I spent about six months just whittling stuff down, and adding bonus material to make it worthwhile for people who see the material for free anyway on the site to buy the book.
Blog@: How tempting was it to go back and make reviews a little more, or less, charitable depending on hindsight and how you really think the movie has fared over a longer run, as compared to presenting the original reviews as published?
JD: The hardest part was looking back and going “Oh man, I gave Mr. and Mrs. Smith a 6.5? It wasn’t that good.” So I spent a lot of time there sort of trying not to take away from what I had originally written but hindsight played a big factor and I said something like two years later, I look back at this movie and it doesn’t have the same power or whatever.
Blog@: Is there a unique challenge, with webcomics, to trying to sell people a collection of material that they’ve already seen for free the first time around and probably can still find in the archives for free?
JD: As far as giving some extra content, I had about fifty sketches from that time and put them in the book, I did another fifty sketches, brand new, and I jammed them in. I’m very conscious that people are not going to want to buy something they can get for free and so I lay awake at nights worrying about that kind of thing.
Blog@: So for the fans of the strip—how hard is it to decide when and where it’s a good idea to use The Palpatine Joke?
JD: I think in the first book, which collects the first 115 strips, I think he shows up four times. And I knew right away that this was a joke that wasn’t going to go anywhere because it’s the same joke over and over again. But there’s a fine line, you can’t bring that up all the time. I would say now, I do about two Palpatine jokes a year and I’m very conscious about finding new ways to approach it so that it’s not always the same setup. It’s the same punchline—it has to be—but it’s not always the same setup.
Blog@: What’s your take on the dynamic between webcomics and the rest of the comics world?
JD: For most people, me included, it’s essentially the equivalent of self-publishing. Nobody picks you up, most people do it for the joy of it so it’s about creating your own website and being able to reach people because a lot of people out there will never get picked up for print or anything like that. Webcomics really opened up a lot of doors for independent creators to tell their stories. It’s good and bad because the market’s been flooded with work, and it’s not all awesome, but everyone’s having a chance to have their say, which is great.
Blog@: …And so Digital Pimp? That’s not an established site that picked you up and decided to publish you?
JD: It’s this website I created about five years ago and I’ve been running strips there ever since. It had been running a little bit before Joe Loves Crappy Movies—I’d been doing two other strips there before I started doing the movie comic. I do a total of five comics—some of them I only do twice a month and some of them I do weekly but Joe Loves Crappy Movies is my main push.
Blog@: For the brick-and-mortar fans, do you have anything else that I can walk into a comic shop and buy?
JD: The only other collection I have is for a book called Matriculated, which I draw but I don’t write. It’s written by a friend named Phil Chan, who I started the site with and it’s about five college friends and I think the official pitch line is, “Five kids in college but not in class.” It’s all about their relationships but no homework or anything like that. So you should be able to get that collection in stores. But I urge them to check out Digital Pimp Online, check out the rest of the strips and see what they think