Thom Zahler, the creator of “Love and Capes,” was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. I stalked him for about a month. He seemed okay with that, I think. If you get a chance to go to the Indiana Comic Con this weekend, you should visit his booth. He’s got superhero comics and “My Little Pony” books. What’s not to love? Your kids will thank me later. I’m hoping that my kids will behave when we visit his booth Saturday.
His comic books are also available wherever you can buy comics – Amazon, his website, your local comic book store. He is everywhere.
How did you get involved in doing comic books?
My parents had a reward program when I was growing up where I got a comic if I cleaned my room –that kind of thing. I was reading at a pretty early age. By the end of the thing, they had a really well-behaved kid and I had a lot of comic books.
Me- That’s a great idea!
Thom- Oh yeah, it worked out wonderfully for me
What comic books did you read as a kid?
I was big into DC stuff. I loved “Superman,” “Justice League.” “Justice League” was my gateway into everything else. I had my “Green Lantern” and “Green Arrow” phases. My “Wonder Woman” phase. My “Flash” phase.
When I started being able to decide more what books I got, rather than whatever my parents got me. I’m a huge Firestorm fan. I’m very excited to see him show up on the new “Flash” TV show this year.
What do you read now?
I don’t read anywhere near as much as I want to. I read Mark Waid “Daredevil.” I pretty much read anything by Mark Waid. I love his stuff. I keep my toe in some of the “Justice League” stuff.
I do a lot of Trades. I’m doing a lot of picking books up after the fact.
I find that I’m reading a lot of older stuff. So I’ll get the Uncle Scrooge collection from Fantagraphics. I’m loving the Teens collections. I’ve been reading the Fantastic Four Omnibus. I just picked up a collection of the DC Justice League crossovers that was a lot of fun. I love those stories. I’m reading Batman 66. I like DC’s digital line a lot. I think there’s a sense of fun that there that they are now only getting into their line. I think they have a very much house style when they reintroduced the new 52.
I think today they announced that there was going to be a new “Shazam” comic by Parker and Doc Shaner. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that one.
Do you enjoy comic book conventions?
I love going to comic book conventions. So much of my world is me in a room by myself working on stuff that nobody sees – at least not for a long time. So the comic book conventions are a way in which I can interact with people in the world. It’s also part of the reason that I’ve taken to Twitter the way I have. Because it’s replaced the water cooler from back when I had a day job and talked to people like that. So it is a way for me to get validation. There’s so much of what you do that no one is responding to. You don’t have any idea if people like what you’re doing or if it’s finding an audience. So when you go to a comic book convention, that is actually has.
Do you ever regret quitting your day job?
No. The thing about going freelance is one – you really have to want to do it. If you do it right, there’s the feeling that you should have left sooner. It’s so much better than having the feeling that you left too early. I cannot remember what it was like to have a real job. I have to remind myself that I worked at a newspaper for years and an ad agency. When I think of my career, it’s like I’ve self-edited some of that stuff out. So when I talk with my friends who are still in the Matrix and still work for the man, I’m like “How do you go to the DMV? What if you have a dentist appointment? How do you make that work?” It hits me in such a way that I can’t remember what it was like before.
It was a real slow burn. It took me awhile to get where I am. I think I did 7 or 10 years where I had day jobs until I went off on my own. I went off in 2001. I have not regretted it. It’s the kind of thing that you have got to that you’re making the right choice. You’ll have points where you’ll wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. You need to know that you’re doing it for the right reasons.
Do you think you’ll eventually do another series?
I’m actually working on a new thing for IDW. It was just announced. It’s called Long Distance and will be out in June.
I need a break from “Love and Capes” to make sure that I’m not just doing it to do it. I want to make sure I’m not doing the really bad last season of fill in your blank sitcom. I want to make sure that I’m doing work that is to my potential. The thing is with Love and Capes that is has resonated with people and found such a good audience, it makes me very respectful and fearful of what I’m working on to the point that I don’t want to do a book because it’s time to do another book. I need to actually have something to say.
Where “Love and Capes” wraps up at the end of the fourth trade is such a good ending to me. I need to have something just as awesome as that to keep going because I don’t want to overstay my welcome with that. Plus, there are other stories that I want to tell.
How did you get involved with “My Little Pony”?
My fiancé is a huge fan of My Little Pony. I work for IDW and they announced that they were going to do a new series. I know that they do multiple covers. So I went up to them and said, “You know me from Love and Capes. I know you’re going to about a dozen covers. I’d really like to do a cover.” They asked if I wanted to pitch the book. Well, I’m not stupid and I said yes. I did my research and caught up on a bunch of episodes, figured out the characters.
They are very easy to write for. I wound up pitching the one that became the first in the micro-series, which I had not expected. I didn’t expect to lead it off. I thought I would get one in the middle of the run. Twilight Sparkle became the lead feature in the micro-series.
Do you get star-struck when you see celebrities at conventions?
I’m in favor of bold moves. I have cultivated a personality that allows me to approach famous people. Some of it comes from working for Mid-Ohio Con for a long time. So I was in more than a few green rooms. Every once in awhile, I would bring somebody in. I worked with Andy Hallett from “Angel” for a long time.
The best phrase that I’ve heard is, “Act Like you’ve been there before.” I try to act like a professional and I have found that that goes pretty well. Some fan will come up to me and they tripping over themselves and I never want them to feel too embarrassed by it. It’s the same thing that happens to all of us. I’ve never gone up to someone and said that I like their work and had them be upset by that. Nobody ever reacts poorly to someone saying you are a fan of their work.