Several weeks ago I reviewed Andrew Anderson’s 31-an intrigue fueled, spy comic told in non-linear fashion. If you missed it, go buy the comic. Andrew was nice enough to answer some questions for us and offer some advice that has helped him along the way with writing.
B: I was excited to find another person who is not sold on James Bond being the end all be all of spy-dom. What is your take on the Bond character portrayal in film?
A: I enjoyed Craig’s outing as Bond more than I do the other Bond films. To me though, Bond is unrealistic. He has cool toys, but at the end of the day it’s skill sets that save you and not the toys. I’m sure if you take away the toys, Bond wouldn’t do as well. I watch Bond films to zone out and turn my brain off. Ludlum and Hunter I read (and watch films based of their work) because they’re very real. It could happen. I think people are smart and need smarter things.
B: In another interview you stated you do a lot of research before you start to write. In your research for writing 31- did you learn anything that just amazed you or that changed the direction of your story in any way?
A: I’m a little distant from the first arc of 31 at this point, so I can’t really say what amazed me the most in my research. A lot of my research came from my days as an ROTC cadet, so for me it was just standard knowledge. So that knowledge did shape 31, as well as my knowledge of firearms and so on. I spent a summer with the ROTC on a navy base and saw how the Navy operates. That played a huge part. I can say that in the book I’m working on with Brian McCraine, the research really impacted the characters.
B: Obviously, I want to know what the significance of the number 31 is.
A: I will say that the number 207 plays a big part in all my works, so it’s hidden in there too. The reason I choose 31 is because I’m a fan of a French spy comic called XIII. I’m also a fan of Get Smart. I’m really surprised that people didn’t catch on that I took the agent numbers from Get Smart. I flipped 13 around (I made a spy film called 13 when I was 13, not knowing about the comic book), and payed homage to my short film and the comic book. I will say what sets 31 apart is there are no names. Throughout the entire series you never learn his name.
B: I am finding myself visually drawn to the good use of white space in 31- the pages look more like frame-able art than a typical comic. There’s also more action than dialogue. Do you find it challenging as a writer to try to tell a story in what amounts to little dialogue and a dependence on illustrations done by someone else? I am assuming you have a big say in what will be illustrated but at some point you have to let the artist interpret or there would be endless back and forth.
A: I was told when I started to write comics that the less dialogue you have the better. This is not the case. After reading lots of scripts, sometimes the comic is wordy, and some times they aren’t. What worked for 31 was being able to switch between the art and the dialogue. When James and I started this series, I wanted him to help dictate the feel. I was very sad when James retired from comics. Orlando came on board and has been knocking it out of the park. There are parts of the script where I very specifically say what I want, and some parts where I leave it vague for the artist to interpret. Some times the artists will suggest something else, that is way better than what I thought of, and I’ll say “Go with that”. Sometimes I’ll get a page back, (and this is rare) where I have to say, “No, it should look like this,” or “No, it’s more cinematic.”
B: You’ve voiced some annoyance at DC’s rebooting of their universe- are you a fan of the New 52 at all and if so which ones or have you been completely disappointed?
A: I’m a fan of Superman, so I still buy those books. I’ll glance through them for the artwork, and I love Morrison’s take on the Man of Steel, but no, not really. I don’t really read Marvel anymore since a friend of mine kind of got burned, and they messed up Ms. Marvel. I’ll read the Ultimate Universe from time to time though. I’m more into creator owned. Maybe they’ll put out a book I’ll get excited about again. The industry goes in slumps, and sometimes we as fans get bad stories. I might out Spider-men. Whoops, went off on a tangent there. I like Superman so I’ll read those books. I’ve bought every issue of the reboot, but I’ve been disappointed with the way DC handled it. I’m sure they don’t even know what’s cannon any more, let alone what their plans are. I could be wrong though. Don’t get me wrong, if they called up and offered me a chance to pitch, I’d take it. Like I said earlier, I dig Morrison’s Superman.
B: A question I like to ask other writers- what is your writing setting- are you a home office type of guy, coffee shop, etc?
A: Home office. I bought a computer that I can’t take everywhere. Although from time to time I will write in a coffee shop on my iPhone. I have an app that will sync my scripts.
B: What is the best piece of advice you have been given about writing?
A: What advice has helped me? It came from Brian Bendis. He said, “Writers write. They don’t sit around wishing they were writing or talk about what they wish they were writing. They write! Because while you’re sitting around and talking about it, someone out there is writing their ass off. Someone is out there kicking your ass and stealing your dream job.” Alan Bellman gave me the best advice too. Keep working at it. If some one turns you down, go to the next company.
Andrew, thank you for the time and good luck with 31 and hope to see the film (and other things from you) in the near future.
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