Walt Flanagan is living the dream. He’s got a TV show, draws comics, and he runs a comic shop with a bunch of his friends. Why he would want to let our collection of sad sack and snarky mouth breathers darken his metaphorical doorway is beyond comprehension, but in the interview below, Flanagan fields our questions about comic book reboots, whether he’d advise someone to run their own comic shop, the brick and mortar battle against digital, his upcoming comic book Cryptozoic Man, and the upcoming season of Comic Book Men, which premiers Sunday on AMC at midnight, following The Walking Dead and Talking Dead.
Sarah Moran: Is there any update on the sequel to Batman: The Widening Gyre and when we can expect to see it?.
Walt Flanagan: As of right now nothing new to report… but half of the series is done and it’s pretty cool.
Jeremy R! Hudson: From a retailer perspective and as a fan, what do you think of reboots and reshuffles like The New 52 and Marvel NOW?
Flanagan: I think it’s a smart move. I’ve been reading since the mid-seventies and when a “fresh” start on a certain series was promised? I was in. Now you tell me the whole DC universe is getting a fresh start? That’s exciting and c’mon, when they eventually go back to the old universe whether that’s in years or decades, that’ll be exciting too!
Luke Gallagher: If someone wanted to own their own comic-book shop and came to you asking if it’s a worthwhile venture, what would you say?
Flanagan: Wow…tough question. Most people starting their own comic shop don’t have the safety net The Stash had staring out with Kevin Smith bankrolling it. But if you look at Kevin as a model? He’s always been about follow your dream, follow your heart. I’ve seen too many good things happen to him to not believe that’s how to live your life. If your dream is to run your own shop? I say give it a shot. Life’s too short not to try to make the dreams you have realities.
Jason Tabrys: What do you think brick and mortar shops need to do to stem the loss of readers to the digital marketplace? Are you concerned that the drip drip transition from paper to pixel will one day grow to a dangerous level (if it already hasn’t), and would you ever consider something like ComiXology’s digital storefront that allows brick and mortar’s to get a small slice of the digital pie?
Flanagan: I still don’t think you can ever discount the “collectibility ” of comics or the value of back issues as a massive reason why people collect. Digital will never offer that aspect to the market. If you have a Hulk 181 on your iPad, you really don’t own a Hulk 181. Comics as floppies, I think, will always be around because of that.
Luke Gallagher: Comic Book Men depicts comic shops in a positive and entertaining light. Other Nerd inspired shows (like Heroes of Cosplay, Fangasm, King of the Nerds) are cropping up left in right. Do these shows help celebrate nerd culture, or is the exploitation of drama and competition doing more harm than good?
Flanagan: I don’t know. I always felt the comic industry was so great at poking fun at itself when I first got into comics. From books like Not Brand Echh to Toy Fare, a sense of humor was always there. Now it seems like a lot of the fan base of comic books are overly concerned about being cast in a bad light somehow if a joke about being a nerd if you read comics is made. I have a laugh and feel good when talking about comics, because the subject is fun .
Jason Tabrys: How do you feel about Ben Affleck as Batman?
Flanagan: I feel he is more than capable of bringing a great Batman to the screen, but I prefer to take a wait and see approach. A lot of people don’t seem willing to do that and have a lot of trouble just waiting to see how the film turns out before saying it’ll be crap…or great for that matter.
Shelly V: What can we expect to see on this season of Comic Book Men?
Flanagan: A lot of guest stars this season, a lot of moments for the comic book men to meet and geek out over their heroes from childhood.
Jason Tabrys: Will we see more of you and Bryan’s collaboration on Cryptozoic Man this season on Comic Book Men? A bit of you guys trying to market and publicize the book and that process?
Flanagan: Yes, an entire episode is devoted to the Cryptozoic Man release. It’s very exciting!
Jason Tabrys: What can you tell us about Cryptozoic Man? What are some of the things that inspired it?
Flanagan: Well, it’s a book about my favorite genre of comics: the monster hero. I have always dug books where a good monster battles evil, books like Werewolf by Night, Swamp Thing and Man-Thing. But the book is about a man who allows himself to be turned into a patch work creation made up of Big Foot, the Jersey Devil and the Loch Ness monster, all to save his daughter. And oh yea, the Cryptozoic Man book has a ton of monsters in it.
Matthew Jackson: What is your comic book Holy Grail?
Walt Flanagan: Wow… Swamp Thing Annual 2 or Werewolf by Night 34-37. Not all that valuable, but those books inspire me. When I’m looking for a spark, I pull those books out and just revel in those masterpieces.
Matthew Jackson: The book that you’ve never seen but always wanted to get your hands on?
Flanagan: Action Comics #1. Never seen an original, I don’t think.