Mike Marts -- Give us a five sentence bio of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Tell us what readers don’t know about you, but should.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa -- Well, Mike, my family's originally from Nicaragua, but I grew up mostly in Washington, DC. Now I live in New York City, in Washington Heights. When I was in college, I had two jobs: I worked at a funeral home and at a comic book shop in Georgetown. (Luckily, my heart was in comic books, not cadavers, or else I might have grown up to be a staff writer on Six Feet Under.) Before I was a creative writer--plays, comic books, screenplays, and the like--I was a reporter and a reviewer; I sometimes even used to review graphic novels.
Mike Marts -- How did you get your start in comics?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa -- I got extremely lucky. I "broke-in" at a time when Marvel was really actively recruiting writers from other disciplines to write comic books for them. (Which, by the way, as you know, is something they still try to do.) At the time I started pitching on different possible series (including the solo HAWKEYE book), the long-anticipated FF movie was on the horizon, so Marvel asked me to write a pitch for a down-to-Earth take on Marvel's first family, the Fantastic Four. Thus, MARVEL KNIGHTS 4 was born and the rest is, as they say, history.
Mike Marts -- Tell us a bit about the professional writing you were doing outside of comics before you entered into “the biz”.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa -- Mostly, I was doing playwriting, Mike, which is what still takes up most of my time when I'm not writing MK 4 or NIGHTCRAWLER. I'd had a play done in New York called The Mystery Plays, which was pretty successful, and some of my other plays were getting published and being performed around the country, which is great, but as anyone who works in the theatre will tell you, it's not really "steady work" the way writing a monthly comic book is or can be. Oh, and I also turned one of my plays, The Muckle Man, into a horror screenplay, which is constantly moving towards production...
Mike Marts -- How is writing for comic books different than play writing?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa -- Oh, God, a million ways, but the two biggies are: 1) When you're writing a comic book, you have no budget. You're only limited by your imagination. Otherwise, anything goes...whereas when you're writing a play, well...there are always budgetary concerns regarding what you can and cannot put onstage. 2) With plays, you write continuous action. Like: SAM ENTERS THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR, TAKES OFF HIS COAT, AND SITS DOWN. With comics, you write in a series of "frozen" images. So you have to break down continuous action into individual snapshots/panels. That made the art direction of my first couple of issues of "MK 4" extremely interesting, let me tell you...
Mike Marts -- You’ve had the opportunity to write some of Marvel’s icons—the Fantastic Four, the X-Men’s Nightcrawler…what draws you to those specific characters?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa -- The Fantastic Four have always been among my favorite comic book characters, since I was a kid. I think because they're so different from other Marvel Teams like the X-Men and the Avengers. Because they're a real family, of course, but also because they always seemed slightly...less cool than the other teams, if you know what I mean. A little more retro, a little more square, which for some reason appealed to the Inner Nerd in me. Also, Stan and Jack's original run on the FF has always been such a high-water mark for me (yeah, and everyone else, too) that writing the FF really feels like I'm contributing to this amazing legacy, you know? Plus, I've always thought that Sue Richards was the most under-appreciated female character in Marvel's Universe. As for Nightcrawler, I have to admit that I've only recently grown to love him as a character. Since I started working with Darick Robertson on NIGHTCRAWLER series and I read all these back issues and really started living and breathing Nightcrawler night and day. At which point Darick's almost legendary affection for Kurt started to rub off on me in a big way. For the same reason everyone loves him. He's an outsider, he looks like a monster but has one of the Marvel U's most compassionate souls, he's totally a ladies' man, he's conflicted, he's complex, and he's got the greatest step-family ever...
Mike Marts -- Favorite fictional character/sports team/movie/television show?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa -- These are hard to narrow down...among my favorite fictional characters are: Archie Andrews and his gals and pals, the Hardy Boys, John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Dracula, Rikki Tikki Tavi, Prospero from "The Tempest," and many, many other comic books characters. My favorite sports team is the Washington Redskins 'cause they're my hometown team. My favorite movies include Rosemary's Baby, The Shining, The Sweet Hereafter, Alien, X-2, Superman 2, and many, many other horror movies. My favorite television shows include The Sopranos, Sex and the City, and...uhm, yeah, pretty much any show on HBO.
Mike Marts -- How do you find working for Marvel Comics?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa -- Is this a trick question, Mike? Since you're one of my editors? Okay--joking aside--it's like this--I started writing comic books for Marvel about a month before finishing grad school. When I was getting ready to move to New York and be a struggling playwright and I had no idea what I was going to do for money. How I was gonna pay my rent, pay off my student loans, anything like that. All of which Marvel has allowed me to do--while keeping up with my playwriting, as well. So, in other words, it has been the greatest gift--the greatest opportunity--anyone could ask for. Plus, you know this better than anyone, Mike, there is no editorial staff cooler or crazier than Marvel's!
Mike Marts -- What is your ideal project? What writing dream would you like to see fulfilled?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa -- This one's easy. I want to write the screenplay for Fantastic Four 2.