From ‘Billy Madison’ to Extraño: Six questions with Justin Aclin
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 Justin Aclin, writer of Hero House, S.H.O.O.T. First, Star Wars: The Clone Wars — Defenders of the Lost Temple and Akaneiro.
Now let’s get to it …
7. What is the strangest thing you have in your house?
Probably the thing other people find strangest is a photo of my wife and I shortly after we started dating, at her 16th birthday party. (Don’t worry, I was 15.) It’s, if not strange, at least mighty unusual that the two of us have been together for so long, but I think it’s fantastic. The other strange thing is that I have no beard in the photo. Very few humans have seen me without a beard.
14. What is your “guilty pleasure”–it can be a comic, a TV show, a food, etc.?
When I first got a DVD player, I wanted my first DVD to be something I’d watch again and again. So I bought Billy Madison. And I was totally right. That movie is fantastic.
21. Who has been the biggest help or motivator in your career?
In my comics career there’s no question that it’s Dave Marshall, my wonderful editor at Dark Horse Comics. Other than Twisted ToyFare Theatre, literally every comic I’ve worked on I’ve collaborated with Dave. He gave me extensive feedback on my first graphic novel, Hero House, when he was just an intern at Dark Horse with editorial aspirations. Then when he became an editor I pitched him S.H.O.O.T. First as a short story, and he’s been working with me ever since then to bring it to life as a mini-series. And while that was coming together, he tapped me to work on Star Wars and Akaneiro.
He’s the best kind of editor, which is the kind that doesn’t rewrite your work but asks questions that let you arrive at your own solutions to the problems in the writing. Just having an editor who’s willing to listen to your ideas is the greatest asset a writer can have, but having one who’ll go to bat for you, and who helps make you a better writer, is a dream come true.
25. Do you have any pets and if so, what do you have and what are their names?
We have a Scottish Terrier named Calli, which is short for Calliope. We also have a tank full of fish, and one frog that my daughters named Horizon.
30. What hobbies or interests do you have outside of comics?
It’s weird, because the things I do for work — both comics, and my day job in the toy industry — are the things that other people do as hobbies. So my hobbies are kind of ordinary things like watching TV shows and playing with my kids.
36. How old were you when you started reading comics, and who introduced them to you?
I was probably about 7 or 8 and when my dad brought home a big box of DC Comics that I began poring through. My dad, Jeff Aclin, had been an artist for Marvel in the late ’70s, but there hadn’t been a lot of comics around when I was growing up. By then he was working at an apparel company with the DC Comics license, which is how he got the big box of comics. I specifically remember reading a lot of Millennium tie-ins, which is a really weird comic to be introduced to comics through. So one of my earliest comics memories is the birth of Extraño. Then when I was about 10, I spent some time with my uncle who was a bagged and boarded collector, and got bit by that bug just in time for the Mutant Genesis books to hit at Marvel. So those were my first books I collected religiously.