A Work in Progress: an excerpt from an interview with Michael Zulli

Last year I began a rather lengthy interview with artist Michael Zulli. Unfortunately, due to prior commitments on both my end and his, we haven’t been able to wrap it up as planned. So until the day in which we can both commit to finishing up our conversation, I’ve decided to run a few excerpts for you to enjoy. I’ve loved working on this interview so much, that it pains me to have the portions that are complete sit dormant in my hard drive collecting “virtual dust”.

This interview was conducted via email in September of 2012.

John Rovnak: What is your earliest comic book memory?

Michael Zulli: I honestly couldn’t tell you my earliest comics memory, as that would be lost to the mists of time. But I can tell you one of the most memorable. I lived in Tennessee most of my childhood, and we had just moved to New England, and I had just bought a copy of The Brave and the Bold starring the Gardener Fox and Joe Kubert Hawkman, the one with the Dragonfly Raiders on the cover. I was sitting in the waiting room of some doctor’s office for a reason I forget. It was in an old Victorian home, so I was surrounded by beautiful old wood paneling, and utterly enthralled in this precious thing, stunned by the art and story. Such a great time for comics, the so called “Silver Age”. I’ll never forget it. I had a nice binder of Silver Age Hawkman and The Flash comics that I had asked somebody to try and sell for me back around 2002, that I never saw again. I sometimes wonder what happened to it. Oh well, live and learn.

Rovnak: I find it interesting that when asked to recall your first comic, the majority of your answer actually had very little to do with comics at all, but more about the “where and when” of your life. I find that comics have a sneaky way of seducing more, if not all, of our senses that just our sight. Comics are a visual medium, but I find that most times I equate sounds, tastes and smells with a good comic, or comic experience, more than just a visualization. It’s sort of the unspoken power of comics… Do you find this to be true also?

Zulli: Oh, without a doubt. Case in point would be the long and deeply lamented Storyteller by Barry Windsor-Smith. The size ration of comic-to-hand was frightingly close to being ten year old or so and pulling a new comic from a spinner rack. What contact I have with actual comics these days, they seem these over-bright, reflective little things with no sense of mystery, as they used to. Whether this is a symptom of a generalized malaise on my part or me catching a glimpse of the “man behind the curtain” from the corner of my eye, I wouldn’t know.

Rovnak: Were comics accepted in your household growing up, or were they looked down upon? Describe for me what your upbringing was like, and how comics fit into it.

Zulli: As for comics in my home while growing up, they were totally accepted without question as my father was not adverse to picking up a copy of Sad Sack now and again, and reading in on a Saturday afternoon, laughing until tears rolled down his face. Some of the fondest memories of my father.

artwork © Michael Zulli

to be continued…

Interview © John Rovnak

Author: John Rovnak

John Rovnak can hardly remember a time when comic books were not a part of his life. He has bought them, sold them, written them, drawn them, collected them, bought them again, and sold them again. He has endured a lifetime of ridicule and shame for his hobby, but that hasn't stopped him. Most recently he's written and edited a book about comics. He's planning more.

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