From ‘X-Force’ to the Backstreet Boys: Six questions with Joe Harris
Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Joining us today is Joe Harris, writer of Great Pacific, Wars in Toyland, X-Files: Season 10, Ghost Projekt, Spontaneous, The Fury of Firestorm, Vampirella And The Scarlet Legion , Slingers, Bishop: The Last X-Man and many more.
Now let’s get to it …
1. At what particular point in your career — a specific comic, job offer, convention, etc. — did you realize you’d gone from wanting to be a comic creator to knowing you’re a comic creator?
Wow, it was a long time ago honestly. But I’d been hired by Marvel to sort of “try out” on a few things. I did some scripting samples, providing dialogue over some artwork, then was given the chance to write what’s called an “inventory story” for X-Force. That’s basically a story that sits in the drawer until a need for it arises, usually to give the regular series writer a break or time to catch up with the schedule if things have gotten hairy. So I get this job getting paid whatever it was and I write, what felt to me at least, like my heart out. I wanted it bad, but I had never published anything before and I didn’t really have any guidance. For as much as I’d dreamed of doing this, I really didn’t know how, you know? The “how” is something I still feel like I’m figuring out sometimes, honestly. But I did it and, nervously, I submitted it … then heard nothing. No feedback at all. Maybe a week or two passed when, on New Year’s Eve, I get a call from the editor to tell me my script was going to be published as an issue of the monthly series — and soon too. Very surreal.
4. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had (comic industry or otherwise)?
I think the worst comics job I ever had was doing some online comics thing for Stan Lee Media way back when involving The Backstreet Boys. This magnum opus of mine was, thankfully, never published. Outside of comics? I’d go with working in a plastics factory after I’d just gotten out of high school. I suppose I actually retained something which informs some aspects of Great Pacific with regard to how plastics are formed and used in manufacturing, as well as what happens to the waste and scrap that falls to the workshop floor. But I’m not sure it was worth the trips to the emergency room working with saws, drills and routers made necessary back then. Don’t let me work with power tools, folks. For the sake of my fingers, hands and your insurance premiums. Bad idea!
9. If you could be reincarnated as any animal, which would you chose and why?
I think I’d like to be a champion thoroughbred racehorse. They’re given every luxury, run, flirt with the fillies and, hopefully, retire to a nice pasture where they graze and get put out to stud. Sounds fulfilling.
10. Who is your favorite band/musical performer, and why are they your favorite?
I’m sure every single person you ask this question agonizes over this, and I can tell you it’s the same here as I’ve got myriad favorites for multitudes of reasons. But I’ll say Bruce Springsteen. At least right now. I get a lot from Bruce’s songwriting and performance, but I credit my discovering his discography when I was a teenager to inspiring me to want to write about positive stuff. Gritty stuff, yeah. And heavy and filled with flawed people making tough choices under ever tougher conditions … but it was positive. It was about busting out and escaping the trappings that held not only you back, but the people you cared about … even if you never knew them, directly, or if they never actually noticed you. It was about surviving and triumphing and appreciating the sacrifice and nobility and struggle toward the light we all take on.
16. What’s the best part of being a creator?
Being my own boss. Living in my own head. Being able to drink and partake of whatever I want in the middle of the day so long as it makes me productive, fuels my imagination, and lets me chase my ambitions and keep on trucking. Not having to put on much in the way of clothes is a contender too … unless I’m taking my act to the local happy hour, I mean. Then, regrettably, pants tend to be required.
24. What did you dress up as the last time you dressed in a costume (whether that’s Halloween, a convention, or wherever)?
I just wore a New York Yankees jersey to a Washington Nationals home game in DC vs. the Braves. Does that count?