Posted by: Graeme McMillan on October 4, 2009
Despite what it sounds like, it’s a compliment when I call CONVERSATIONS WITH ADD a frustrating read. For those unfamiliar with it – which may be most reading this – it’s a free e-book collection of interviews and Q&As with comic folk conducted by Alan David Doane over the last ten years for ComicBookGalaxy.com as well as his radio station, and it’s full of names you’ll recognize: Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Mark Millar, Joe Quesada, Mark Waid, Brett Warnock, Peter Bagge, Seth, and many many more.
What’s frustrating about it is twofold, and both pretty much the nature of the beast – Some of the interviews are so old that I wish they’d had a little more background information attached to put them into the appropriate historical context (Kurt Busiek and Mark Waid both talk in depth about the short-lived Gorilla Comics, for example, and I’d have love to have seen some more editorial footnotes about what happened to it in practice, because as it is the uneducated reader will be left thinking “That sounds great! I wonder what happened to it?” Of course, you could make the argument that no uneducated reader would be downloading an e-book collection of interviews from a comic book website…), and some of the interviews – namely, the ones from his “Five Questions With…” series – are… well, too short.
The second complaint pretty much gets to the whole “it’s a compliment” part; ADD is, especially in the longer interviews when he gets to go into greater depth with creators, a very effective and enjoyable interviewer, and the frustration of the short interviews is really “I wanted much more!” more than “Well, that was a waste of time.” He knows when to let the subject go on at length, and also what questions to ask to prompt the conversation into interesting directions, and if some of those questions betray his own prejudices and feelings about the medium and industry, then so what? It makes for a more interesting interview, in almost all cases.
At times, this nearly-300 page collection feels like a contemporary sequel to the (great) Comics Journal Library: The Writers collection Tom Spurgeon edited a few years back, and makes you want more longform (and freeform) interviews from Doane. Someone should be paying him to do this on a regular basis, but until then, this freebie book exists to tide us over. Unless you have a complete aversion to PDFs, go and grab it.