On April 24th, I posted about wanting to get to know some of my favorite youtube channel creators, fellow bloggers, folks who are very active with their opinions on twitter/instagram. One person who was my quickest yes and someone who makes me feel incredibly less stupid when I have to ask any questions about DC titles is Wes Greer.
Introducing Wes Greer--The Reviewer
I write a monthly Batman news column on the site titled Legends of the Dork Knight where I update you guys with the latest Batman news, review Batman Collectibles, and interview writers and artists. You can check the site out at www.comicsthegathering.com or follow me on Twitter: @Wes_Greer or Facebook: Wes Greer, Comics The Gathering .
CBP: What is your origin story? How did you come to join Comics the Gathering?
WG: I joined the site last October. I was a very active member on the Batman Reddit page and I used to write my own Batman comic reviews and post them over there all the time as well as frequent other Batman related posts. One day I got on to the page and saw this post from Stephen who is the co-creator of the site that said he was looking for someone who had knowledge of Batman Comics and wanted to be a review writer. The post said to email him a review of any random Batman comic as kind of a try out and I remember I did a review of The Batmans Grave #1 and I emailed it over to him. I never thought in a million years it would work out but my motto has been you never know until you try so I did it and not even an hour later I got an email back saying that he really liked my review and gave me some contact information. Not even two days later I was all set up as a member on the site and my first review I ever did happened to be Batman #80 by Tom King. I went from just being a fan posting reviews for fun to becoming a full fledged legit reviewer for an amazing review site. I’ll never forget how nervous I was when I first started because I had to start reaching out to all these huge names I had only met at conventions as a fan or read their names on these books I loved and I was actually blown away by how kind and welcoming these creators were to me. Scott Snyder was my favorite writer in the world and all Batman fans know his name and realize how big he is and I was so worried I wouldn’t even blip on his radar but Scott was actually one of the first creators to actually message me back and he was so supportive and friendly and I’ve actually established a really amazing relationship with him which still blows my mind because I never thought in a thousand years I would be in regular contact with him because I was just such a fan of his.
After Scott I established relationships with so many other amazing creators as well such as Tom King, Sean Murphy, Tom Taylor, Greg Capullo, Brad Walker, and so many more of the most amazing names in comics and it’s just such an honor to be a part of the team at Comics The Gathering. My status as a reviewer has blown up so much that I’ve actually been approached by some of the bigger review sites where they have tried to poach me and I won’t leave CTG no matter what they offer because all of us at CTG do this out of the passion we have for Comics. Our reviews are all written from our own love and that is something that the other big sites don’t have or lack. Even though we are a smaller and lesser known review site, our love and passion make us one of the best out there right now and we are growing more and more every day because of that very thing.
CBP: Describe the type of content you offer to someone who hasn’t read your work!
WG: At CTG we are at a heart a comic book review site but we offer so many other great features. We have the latest comic book news, blogs, interviews, community forums, exclusive previews, and so much more! I personally am in charge of all DC Comics Batman reviews and news as well as cover some independent books like Undiscovered Country.
Introducing Wes Greer--The Human Being
I myself am a recovering addict and just celebrated 7 years of sobriety so I understand more than most the troubles as well as the stigma that surrounds drug addiction. I grew up in Seattle, Washington and I miss the north west so much. It’s probably one of the most beautiful areas in the US in my opinion and my mother’s family all still live up there so I get to visit every so often.
CBP: What brought you to comics?
WG: Growing up in Seattle, we really didn’t have much. My mother had a struggle with addiction and it was tough as a young kid to have to deal with it because she wasn’t always around and if she was she wasn’t very motherly. She tried her best and she always took care of us the best she could but for the most part I had to look out for myself and my younger brother. My mom had a real passion for Batman and Spider-Man when I was a kid. I remember in our living room she had the movie posters for Batman 89 and Batman Returns and she had her own really huge collection of Batman Collectibles as well as comics, so naturally I was intrigued. Batman the Animated series came out in 92 and it meant so much to me because my mom always made sure she was home on Sunday nights after Fox moved it to prime time so we could watch every new episode together. When Batman Forever came out in 1995 my mom took me to see it and it was the first movie I had ever seen in theaters and as a kid I was instantly in love with the character. I started buying my own comics and toys and really fell in love with the comics because they were an escape from my difficult childhood. I could open a Batman comic and immediately be transported from my difficult situation and I was right alongside the Dark Knight, fighting crime and taking down the Joker and it was something that really helped me get through my childhood and I’m forever grateful to DC and the writers of those Batman books because they encouraged me and gave me the strength I needed to keep my head up and move forward. Comics are so much more to me than just stories and art.
CBP: Have you ever taken a break from reading/collecting? If so, why? What brought you back?
WG: I actually did stop reading comics in my early twenties because I was going down a dark path of drinking and drug use and really was in a downward spiral. In 2012 I remembered how much reading comics helped me and that was around the same time the New 52 started. I went to my local library and I found the collected Batman Venom book. It was the only Batman book they had in stock so I sat in read it one day when I was really down in the dumps and the story is essentially about Batman using an enhancing drug that he was using to “up” himself but started over using and having to battle his own type of addiction. I remember thinking wow this is ironic. Here’s a character I’ve always admired for his strength but he is just a normal guy like me who has the same downfalls and weakness I do.
That got me back to my LCS where I picked up Batman #1 by Scott Snyder and I read through the entire Court of Owls story arc. I was so blown away by the way Snyder kind of did the same thing to Batman. He took this amazingly strong character and essentially broke him and put him in a situation where it looked like he had no chance of winning but even through all of the struggle and getting his ass kicked, Batman found the strength from within himself to fight back and not give up. That is when I said I can do the same thing. So because of Scott Snyder and Batman, I found the strength within myself to go and get help and I have been clean and sober ever since and I’ve never missed a Batman story since. Even after all this time, I still draw a lot of inspiration and hope from Batman comics and they are a reminder of how no matter what, I can overcome all. I’m so grateful to Scott for his story and I know he just thought he was writing a Batman story but really he helped save my life and got me back I to comics and my life has been so amazing ever since.
CBP: You have any other passions/obsessions outside of comics?
WG: I am actually an amateur artist. I’m no where near good enough to do comics or anything but I’m pretty good at drawing and I also have been playing guitar since I was 12 and really enjoy pulling it out every once in awhile and shredding. Other then that I really just enjoy being a father to my kids and spending time with my wife and doing family things. I never had that as a kid myself so it really just gives me so much joy to have that with my own family now.
Talkin' Shop with Wes
CBP: What is the first comic you remember purchasing/reading?
WG: The first comic I ever bought was Robin III Cry of the Huntress. I bought two copies. One to read and one to collect because it had a really cool moving cover and a collectors poster.
CBP: Do you still own that book? Why/Not?
WG: Yes, I still have both copies I bought. I kept them because I thought one day they would be worth big money but now they are worth more in sentiment to me then they are worth monetarily.
CBP: What character/series etc. holds a special place in your heart? What character/franchise will you die on a hill defending?
WG: It has to be The New 52 Batman Court of Owls because like I mentioned before it was what gave me the strength to get help and save my life. I will defend it against anything and everything thrown at it! Most people agree that it is amazing but there are people out there who call it overrated to them I say “Good day”!
CBP: Is there a popular book/character that you just loathe, you don’t get the hype behind them?
WG: I wouldn’t say I loathe him, but I just can’t get behind Superman. It’s always the same with him. There are certain stories I really enjoy so it’s not all Superman stories but for the most part I just am not a fan. I remember the first time I read The Dark Knight Returns and I was so giddy inside when Batman walked the dog on him and gave us that famous quote. “I want you to remember the one man who beat you”. Still gives me goosebumps
CBP: What are your “grail books/titles?”
WG: Detective Comics #27, which is the first appearance of Batman is my holy grail of comics. I don’t care how but one day I WILL own a copy of that book. Even if it is in piss poor condition I would buy it.
Finally, Growth and Community 101 with Dr. Greer
CBP: What took you from being a regular fan/collector to wanting to create with a review/chat/etc. outlet.
WG: Honestly I had never planned on doing this. It was just a post on Reddit I responded to and never thought I would be picked or hear back and now here I am!
CBP: What was your strategy of edging your way into the marketplace of ideas?
WG: My main approach was always just to write what I would want to read as a fan. Too many reviewers get way too far into details and Ron one wants to read all of that because they want to enjoy the comic when they read it and not have everything spoiled. I stick to three key details in my reviews, The writing, The overall art, and my opinions on the issue. In essence I keep it sweet and to the point and I think that’s why I have so much traffic on my reviews because they are also all spoiler free. I don’t ever give away anything that happened in the story and that’s also our number one rule at CTG is no spoilers because we don’t want to ruin anything for our readers.
CBP: How long did it take you to build a following? How did you start engaging folks?
WG: It took me about 6 months to really establish a decent following particularly on Twitter. I started sharing my reviews there and then the creators would retweet them and I’d get a lot of followers that way and then I started doing giveaways via Twitter and my page took off with followers. I did one for my 200th follower [SPOILER ALERT, I won that drawing and I was lucky as hell!] and that was only a couple weeks ago and now I am nearing 400 and counting. It’s amazing having the following I do and I’m so grateful to all of them and plan on doing bigger and better giveaways to thank everyone who follows me.
CBP: Knowing everything you know now about your outlet and where you are, what would you have done differently at the beginning of your grind?
WG: Honestly I wouldn’t change a single thing. I’m glad it took a bit of time to take off because it gave me time to get into the swing of things.
CBP: You have any plans for the future you’d like to make public?
WG: I actually working on a new column called Artists of the Knight where I am going to be interviewing different artists who have worked on various Batman titles and do a kind of get to know the man/woman behind the pencil format. I also will have an exclusive interview coming up soon with Scott Snyder I’m excited about as well as a BIG giveaway coming up via Twitter.
CBP: What piece of advice would you give to someone trying to create their own fan/collector content online?
WG: Just keep at it. There are so many people trying to do something right now but don’t let that discourage you. I started off just posting reviews on Reddit and I did that for years but I did it because I enjoyed it. Even if no one was reading them I didn’t care because I wasn’t doing it for them, I was doing it for me and that is the key! If you are doing this to try to get your name out there or blow up, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. You need to be doing this because it’s something you love and have a passion for. It also takes a lot of dedication and time and sacrifice and I don’t think a lot of people understand just how truly tiresome it can be sometimes. It’s not as easy as reading a comic book and reviewing it and that’s it. There’s so much more that goes into it and it’s truly a full time job. From the time I get up to the time o go to bed I am either reading a review copy or typing a review or keeping up with the latest news and interacting with my followers and emailing all my partner companies and making sure I’m keeping on top of all of that while trying to be a husband and a father at the same time and do my day job. It’s a commitment you have to be sure you’re ready to make and that’s why it needs to come from a place of passion otherwise you will crash and burn fast and hard or tire yourself out.
I would like to thank Wes for taking the time to answer a zillion of my questions! I really enjoy the way Wes and all of the folks over at CTG write their reviews. If you don't check out their website, or follow Wes on twitter you really should! Wes is one of the funniest, most engaging, and knowledgable people I'm lucky enough to get to interact with on almost a daily basis!
The journey of a 30-something father of three who's trying to break into the world of reviewing comics after a loooooong hiatus...