Hands down, my favorite title from 2019 was Killadelphia (you can see al of my reviews on that link, or check out the Chops Podcast). Its an interesting take on Vampires, I was hooked from book 1 especially when it cryptically hints that President John Adams is responsible for the coming spike in Vampiric activity. After book 2-3 dropped, I sent Mr. Barnes a message on twitter asking some questions about the series. This was the first time I had interviewed anyone, and they were bad questions which I was too embarrassed to publish. However, on Monday night, I ended up in a thread on twitter where Rodney was talking about what comics meant to him, what he chases when collecting and more. I was so amped up by that conversation, I decided to take another shot at interviewing him and he said sure! So I bring to you:
My Q and A with THE Rodney Barnes
Talkin' Comics With Professor Barnes
CBP-What brought you to comics as a fan/collector?
RB-Fell in love with comics when I was 5 or 6 years old. Been collecting and reading them ever since.
CBP-Have you ever taken a break from reading/collecting? If so, why? What brought you back?
RB-Took a break in the mid-90’s due to work and life. The routine of going to the comic store every Wednesday sort of brought me back.
CBP-What brought you to comics as a creator/author/show writer?
RB-I’ve always wanted to be a screenwriter. Decided to go to LA in 1995 to take a shot at making my dream come true.
[Author's Note] I'd argue he's succeeded in living that dream. If you're not familiar he's written and/or produced some of my favorites like: The Boondocks, My Wife and Kids, Everyone Hates Chris, and Wu-Tang: An American Saga. I'm guilty in not seeing Marvel's Runaways (its now my "office hours" viewing to rectify this mistake). He's won several awards for his work: a Peabody Award, an AFI Award, one from the Writers Guild, the NAACP and many more! (now you can see why I was freaked out when he said yes!)
CBP-Of all of the various projects you’ve created across film/tv and comics, how does what you do in one project inform another?
RB-It doesn’t. There is the exercise of writing which keeps me sharp, but I typically don’t do the same types of things so they rarely relate.
CBP-Do you have any other passions/obsessions outside of comics?
RB-My kids are my passion. Other than that, horror/sci-fi TV and films.
CBP-What is the first comic you remember purchasing/reading? Do you still own it?
RB-Avengers #6 at my public library. No. I was maybe 5 years old at the time and it’s against the rule to take comics from the library. At least back then.
CBP-What character/series etc. holds a special place in your heart?
RB-Swamp Thing is probably my favorite character, although Miracleman is a close second.
CBP-Is there a popular book/character that you just loathe, you don’t get the hype behind them?
RB-Nope. I appreciate everyone’s work. [Author's Note] It is awesome to see a creator embrace this type of philosophy since you see a small fraction willing to roast or dunk on creators, and its amazing to see someone of his stature isn't going to drag anything.
I Couldn't Resist, I Had to Ask About Killadelphia...
CBP-When book 1 was published, I reviewed it out of chance because of the cover to issue one. It was love from the first read. How important do you think cover art is to hooking readers who may pick up the book without checking out things like “previews?”
RB-Cover art is essential. It’s the first thing that catches the reader’s eye.
CBP-Why John Adams? As someone who teaches history and government, this is honestly the decision that hooked me. Are there any other figures you thought about before deciding on he/Abigail?
RB-Not really. Adams was the perfect figure for what I wanted to say.
CBP-This book makes an excellent commentary on race and blackness given the status of several of the prominent black vampiric characters, is there a conscious choice between the vampire and blackness in contemporary society?
RB-Not really. I’m not trying to hit readers over the head with a “message.” Just trying to tell a satisfying horror story with maybe a dollop of social commentary.
CBP-How did you and Jason Shawn Alexander hook up for this amazing collaboration?
RB-Jason and I have been friends for a while. I pitched the idea to him and he hopped on board. Lucky to have him.
CBP-Congratulations on this being picked up by Levantine Media for a television option. As a producer, how hands-on do you get to be during the creative process for the show?
RB-I’m creating the show and overseeing all, so pretty hands-on.
CBP-Is there anything juicy you can tell us about the show?
RB-Just that the plan is to stay true to the book. I purposely wrote it like a TV show to make it more adaptable.
CBP-Who are some of your favorite folks to read/follow/etc. online about all things comics and/or media?
RB-Joe Hill, Tananarive Due, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, I could list about 25 more folks lol...
CBP-What’s your coolest interaction with a fan/collaborator/fellow creator?
RB-Twittering with folks like Shaquil Hickman, whose energy and passion are constant reminders of the beauty of the comics community.
CBP-What piece of advice would you give to someone trying to create their own fan/collector content online?
RB-To go for it. There’s nothing in the world like being creative. I encourage all to give it a go!
CBP-Anything else you want to say or want us to know?
RB-Just that I appreciate all of the Killadelphia love. Hoping the fans dig arc 2 as much as they did arc 1.
It was amazing to get to ask Mr. Barnes some questions, even if it was just a simple back-and-forth via a doc, I'm still through the roof with excitement. The fact that someone who has seen the massive levels of success and number of accolades Rodney has just speaks volumes of his character! I'm loving this era of seeing creators willing to interact with fans on an increasing basis. I feel like this is something that makes the comic book community exceptionally unique compared to other forms of entertainment, and I was excited to see his thoughts on what all of this means to him!
Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to answer my questions. I'll make it right by watching Runaways, and I'll still be massively hyping Killadelphia because it is amazing, and I can't wait to see what it looks like in a different format!
The journey of a 30-something father of three who's trying to break into the world of reviewing comics after a loooooong hiatus...