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War Rocket Ajax: ‘X-O Manowar’ Writer Robert Venditti On Breaking Into Comics

This week on War Rocket Ajax, Chris and Matt are pleased to welcome Robert Venditti to the show! He joins us on the podcast to talk about the unique path that led him from being an adult who didn’t read comics to a writer whose first graphic novel was turned into a movie, all the way to writing Valiant’s relaunch of X-O Manowar — and you can listen to the whole show right here at ComicsAlliance!War Rocket Ajax #111: Self-Horn Tootin’™ with Robert Venditti
(WARNING: Contains NSFW language)

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On this week’s show, Chris has a lot of opinions about pet ownership that are definitely not popular, even among the people on this very podcast. Meanwhile, Matt has been prowling Chicago’s bookstores, looking to see where The Supervillain Handbook has ended up on the shelves.

When Robert Venditti joins us, we talk a little bit about how he got into comics not as a kid, but as an adult:

I didn’t start reading them until I was about 27 years old. It was around the year 2000. I’m not really sure why that is, because when I was very little, my first ambition when I was in elementary school was to be an artist. I don’t know if they still have it, but there used to be this little mail-away test for art school you could get, and you had to draw a turtle and a pirate wearing a hat. I mailed away for the test and I could just tell that I sucked. Even at that young age, I could tell that I’m just not an artist. I’m never going to be an artist, so I started to tell stories as a way to describe in words what I couldn’t draw with my hands.

All these years later, when I’m in my twenties, I started reading comics. I picked up my first comic and I really enjoyed the story, and it just dawned on me that here was an opportunity where I could write the story and somebody else could do the art, and that could be as close as I ever got to that childhood ambition. Why it took me, you know, 27 years to come to that rather obvious conclusion, I have no idea whatsoever. Looking back, it seems like comics should’ve been something I was reading my whole life, but it didn’t work out that way.

I kinda hope that maybe makes me a little bit different than a lot of other people trying to get into the industry, in that I don’t come from this long background where I was steeped in continuity and these kinds of things, so maybe when I do get that opportunity to take a look at a character, I can take a different perspective to it.

And how he had the single best New Comics Reader experience ever, starting with Astro City:

I was such a novice when it came to comics that I didn’t know that Silver Agent was an embodiment of the Silver Age style of comics. I didn’t know that the First Family was a riff on the Fantastic Four. I didn’t know any of those things because I had literally not read a comic before. So coming to it from that perspective I think helped me better than if I’d just known a little bit, if that makes sense.

My progression was, I read the “Confession” story arc and I enjoyed it so much that I went and started finding all the back issues so I could read the entire Astro City run. This was in 2000, so even though I started with v.2, #4, way more than those had been published, so I had to go back and read those prior issues, and then Volume 1.

Then from there, it’s a really bizarre story but it’s the truth, I went to the comic shop and I was like “All right, I exhausted Astro City,” and I’m looking at the rack and I see this Alex Ross cover for Tom Strong #1. It was this really cool cover that has this sort of Hammer and Sickle vibe, you know? I really liked the cover and I thought “that looks cool, so I’m going to pick it up and read it.” So I read Tom Strong #1, and I was like “man, that was a really good story, it’s written by this dude named Alan Moore. What else has he written? Oh, he wrote this thing called Watchmen? Let me go see what Watchmen‘s like.”

That’s literally how I got into comics.

Show Notes:

You can follow Rob Venditti on Twitter or check his work out on RobertVenditti.com!

Dylan Todd’s interview with Rian Hughes on the new Valiant logo.

Chris’s Rec: Street Fighter: The Movie. Specifically, Raul Julia’s part. Even more specifically, this:

Matt’s Rec: Veep.

Comics Reviewed:

Action Comics #9: “The comment that I’ve heard about this comic more than any other has been ‘where was this Action Comics for the past eight months?’ I really enjoyed this issue.” “The question I had the whole time I was reading through this is, are we already bored with the new 52, to the point where we’re reading about these alternate universes that are more interesting? Because that’s kind of what it felt like to me. I don’t think that’s the message DC wants to be putting out there.”

Earth-2 #1: “This is also DC saying hey, let’s go look at another universe. While I did not like everything in this comic by any stretch — there are scenes with the military that read in a really corny way and there’s a scene where Jay Garrick’s girlfriend breaks up with him where she’s written as just a terrible shrew — some of the characterizations of the main characters are really well done.”

Popeye #1: “I have never been a big fan of Popeye, but this is a really, really solid book. I’ve talked before about how I love Floyd Gottfredson and Carl Barks, and what they’re doing here is very much in tune with those. It feels like a comic from the fifties. It’s got a dense layout, it’s a full adventure.”

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