“Why do you write about this stuff if you hate it so much?”
“I really wish you’d write about stuff you like instead.”
“Why are you so mean?”
No doubt Tucker Stone has heard all of the above and probably worse at one point or another. Over at his Web site The Factual Opinion and in his weekly column, This Ship Is Totally Sinking, at Comixology, Stone has mad a name for himself via his snarky, scorched Earth policy towards mainstream comics, sinking his fangs into tripe like Nightwing and Thunderbolts, declaring it tastes awful and then moving on to the next book in the pile. It’s an critical attitude that’s earned him a number of fans, myself included, but also a number of angry, and perhaps to some degree confused, detractors.
I tend to think there’s considerable value in snark, especially if it’s informed snark. Stone — as well as his wife Nina, who does the “Virgin Read” column for the Factual site — writes with a good deal of humor and insight and I envy his ability to cut to the quick of what marks a particular issue succeed or fail in just a few sentences.
I also think there’s a method to his madness here, beyond simply making fun of bad comics. In critiquing what’s wrong with, say, New Avengers, he’s actually talking about what’s wrong with the comic industry as a whole. He’s critiquing the specific to make a larger statement about the whole.
I talked to Tucker and Nina Stone back in August from their New York City home. I want to thank them not only for taking the time to talk, but also for going back and helping edit this interview extensively when it turned out my phone is a piece of crap and only caught every other sentence. Their help filling in holes was much appreciated.
Q: Tucker, tell me a little bit about yourself – your background, and how you got interested in comics. That sort of thing.
TS: I was an Army brat. I grew up in Texas, Kansas, West Berlin, back when there was a West Berlin. I don’t remember reading a lot of comics as a kid. I’m trying to remember how I actually got into comics–I think we were at a used bookstore that my mom went to. My Dad got out of the service and we had moved to Georgia. I got an issue of the Detroit Justice League at some used bookstore and just thought it was the best thing ever. That and Detective Comics, when Batman got in a fight with the Corrosive Man. I mostly just collected superhero comics until at some point I got a driver’s license and started dating. Then I was completely done with them.
I didn’t come back to comics until I was in college. I remember I read in the newspaper that they were going to do a sequel to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and I thought “that might be interesting.” Of course, I didn’t like it, at all. But, somehow that got me back into the stores. I don’t know if it was the Jimmy Corrigan book – I don’t think that was out yet – but there was some issue of Acme Novelty Library, some Chris Ware stuff, so I started getting into random shit like that.
I moved to New York about eight years ago and there’s all kind of places to get weird ass art comics. I became a weekly guy again after I moved here, just because there’s so many fucking stores. That’s my background. (more…)