Sunday, April 15, 2012

Progressively Aggressive Sit Down with Nate Cosby - C2E2 2012

-Mike Gallagher
As I noted yesterday in my post on Chris Hardwick, one of the reasons I've fallen in love with this genre of entertainment is how absolutely delightful (what, it's the only word I felt could really capture how I feel) everyone is, even the most accomplished artists. Social media has allowed fans to connect with their idols in a way never before possible, adding a completely new dimension to fandom. Today I was given an opportunity to show exactly what I meant.

I was surfing around Twitter this morning when I came across the former editor for Marvel, lead on the Eisner Award-winning The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and all-around cool guy, Nate Cosby. Being the up-front and adventurous type I am, I made it a point to stop by the Archaia booth where Nate was promoting his new western graphic novel, Cow Boy, to say hello and see if he was up for an interview. 

Let me preface the following with a bit of a warning: I've been a part of numerous Q&A's and group interviews, but I've always had time to prepare. I figured we could do some research, come up with some solid questions overnight and then sit down with Nate on Sunday. One problem-- Nate won't be at C2E2 on Sunday and was done at the booth just one hour after I stopped by! Needless to say I gave Ron somewhere between 4 and 12 ulcers after calling to say I was on my way to him and that we needed to come up with good questions for Nate Cosby and oh, by the way, we had about 30 minutes to do so. 

The following is what we came up with, raw, uncut and uncensored. Big thanks again to Nate Cosby, it was an absolute pleasure, I hope we can do it again sometime. 

Quick Note: Be sure to follow Nate on Twitter @NateCosBOOM and pick up a copy of Cow Boy when it arrives in your favorite shops later this year. 

PA: We’re sitting here at C2E2 2012, I [have] the pleasure to sit down with Nate Cosby—or stand up with really—he was an editor at Marvel Entertainment for 6 years, he actually got to oversee some series including Thor: The Mighty Avenger, the Eisner award-winning The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as well as Spiderman, X-Men First Class, Hulk, Spiderman Loves Mary Jane and many others. Nate most recently worked on Cow Boy, which is a western graphic novel.

Read the rest of interview and check out the audio after the break

PA: Nate, where did you come up with the inspiration for Cow Boy?

NC: Well, I’m from Mississippi originally and my parents grew up in a little place called Iuka, Mississippi, which you’ve never heard of, in Tishomingo County. Whenever I’d go visit my Grandmother and see my [dad’s old] house he always had these western dime novels. I loved the texture of the cover, the touch of the paper and, you know, they were books for kids from the ‘60s. For a kid in the 90’s, that’s not the same. There was killing and Native Americans were called ‘Injuns’, with a ‘J’, and I was fascinated. It was like, ‘what is this?’, it felt like a time capsule from another time and I really appreciate[d] that and took that stuff with me. So I just decided I loved the western genre and just wanted to try something out and I just didn’t think there was enough all-ages stuff western wise.

PA: It sounds kind of like it’s a little bit closer to your heart than maybe some of the things you’ve worked on?

NC: Very personal, very personal. I like superheroes, don’t get me wrong, but every once in a while I want to be able to do something a little different with the media.

PA: So how is working with Chris [Eliopoulos]?

NC: It’s awesome. He and I make fun of each other and complain a lot but at the end of the day I’ve worked with him with for like 6 years, 7 years now, I was his editor on Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius; I hired him to write Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers. He does his own stuff [like] Misery Loves Sherman, [and] this is the first book that he actually drew with another writer. He usually writes and draws his own stuff, but I tricked him into doing this.

PA: And how did you manage that?

NC: Mostly just through starvation, mind games, lock him in a cage, make him stand up, waterboarding, you know, standard Guantanamo stuff.

PA: So what has it been like getting a chance to expand and work on already well-known universes such as Jim Henson’s: The Storyteller, Marvel’s X-Men, Avengers and many more?

NC: You know, it’s great. I grew up obviously loving comic books. I was a DC guy [while] growing up; my favorites were Superman, Batman, Flash, Impulse, Captain Marvel, [and] those kind[s] of people. Working with Marvel was great, it taught me a lot. I obviously got to work with a lot of characters that I knew very well, and when Archaia offered me the opportunity to edit Jim Henson’s: The Storyteller it was great because I loved that show growing up, [it was] one of my favorite. I got to adapt a never before made screenplay by Anthony Minghella which was just a dream, The English Patient. Oh my gosh. But there’s something about being able to create your own stuff [that] you come up with out of old cloth, collaborate with an artist. It just makes it more personal, more fun and it makes it way scarier and more difficult sometimes to come up with a story that you’re happy with because it’s your standard. The only standard you have is yourself so it’s as good as you can possibly make it. No editor, no net, no nothing. You can be 1 of 18 Spiderman books that come out that month or you can be the one hardcover western that you came up with yourself. They’re both rewarding but this is definitely more exciting for me.

PA: Do you hold yourself to pretty high standards then? Is it pretty tough?

NC: I do. I’d say that having been an editor for so long, I write something and I say, ‘Okay, that’s good enough, I’m gunna go eat.’ Then I come back and I say, ‘would I have let one of my writers get away with just doing that? Did I cut a corner? Did I make something too simple? Am I not challenging the reader enough?’ So I write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. My editing definitely informs my writing.

PA: You oversaw the Eisner award-winning The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. How was working on that as opposed to working on comics and superhero books?

NC: You know, it’s a lot more freeing because obviously the only thing you’re beholden to with that is making sure that you saw Mr. Baum’s vision through. Eric Shanower and Skottie Young—I edited it, I oversaw it—but at the end of the day if those two aren’t making the magic that they made, and especially colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu, if they’re not doing their thing, then I’m not overseeing a book that wins an Eisner. Even in writing—in writing and editing and doing all of that stuff—you’re only as good as your collaborators if you pull yourself up to their level a lot of times, which is what I feel like I have to do. To answer your question as far as being different from superheroes, you know, it’s not that different. It’s the meaning, it’s all about telling a good story whether they have a mask and a cape or they’re riding on a magical horse and going down a yellow brick road, it’s all about telling a good story.

PA: So, leading from that, do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

NC: Digital. Go digital. Get online if you’re a writer; get online if you’re an artist. Get on Twitter, get on Facebook, [and] check out Deviant Art. Find a collaborator if you’re not a writer and artist together. Commit to 5-10 pages of something that you can use as a portfolio to put online, to tweet a link to an editor or something like that. Get yourself found. We live in an amazing age where you can really make something of yourself so much easier than if we were in 1984.

PA: I want to thank you very much for your time. Once again, Nate Cosby at C2E2 2012, great luck with Cow Boy and keep selling those copies!

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