To kick off our newest campaign, which starts tomorrow, eSpec Books interviews Aaron Rosenberg, contributor to The Side of Good / The Side of Evil, a Superhero Flipbook anthology. Help make this project a reality through Kickstarter: http://tiny.cc/SoGSoE.
eSB: What drew you to this project?
Aaron: I’m a HUGE supers fan, and it’s not an area I get to write in a lot, so when I heard the premise I was all “oh, heck, yeah!”
eSB: Which side are you writing for?
Aaron: Good, of course! I mean, with the understanding that there is no such thing as true EVIL, just Good that’s misunderstood. Or misapplied. Or a little too narrow in its focus. I mean, if you’re trying to improve your own lot in life, that’s good, right? And if you win, somebody else has to lose, right? What’s so evil about that?
eSB: What got you interested in superheroes/villains?
Aaron: Oh, I started reading comics like Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes and Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America and so on when I was a kid. Actually, a lot of credit for my wide vocabulary goes to those old comics—they didn’t dumb things down at all, used a lot of cool and unusual words, and then had short definitions in the little caption boxes. I loved comics then, and never stopped.
eSB: Please tell us a little bit about the inspiration for your story.
Aaron: Ha ha, well, I just got to thinking about how most villains—and heroes, for that matter—are so clearly defined in terms of their name, costume, powers, even personality somewhat, it all fits together so neatly, and I thought “yeah, but what if it doesn’t? What about the guys who’re sitting around trying to figure out how to brand themselves and just can’t seem to get it right?”
eSB: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and how would it work?
Aaron: Oh, teleportation, definitely. But not just for me, more like Illyana Rasputin (Magik)’s stepping discs, so I could transport myself and my friends and family anywhere instantly.
eSB: What would your weakness be and why?
Aaron: You mean like Superman with Kryptonite, or just a character flaw sort of thing? Because the latter would be similar to the Asian vampire’s, when I see a mess I’m compelled to stop and clean it up. That’s my actual weakness. A super-weakness? It’d probably be something like “can’t teleport a certain material.” Hopefully not cotton, ’cause that’d get awkward—“Wait, what kind of unders do you have on?” “What? Why?” “Well. . . .”
eSB: Describe your ideal super suit.
Aaron: I’m definitely in the “why are they wearing their unders on the outside” camp, I like the super suits that are not only cool-looking but functional and comfortable. If I could, I’d just go with the Kevin Matchstick style—jeans, a T-shirt with my logo on it, and a leather jacket. Plus a mask. And gloves—can’t go around leaving fingerprints at crime scenes, that a sure way to give up your secret identity!
eSB: Who is your favorite superhero and why?
Aaron: That’s a tough one, because I have a lot of superheroes I really like. Doctor Strange is up there. So is Iron Fist. I was always a big Moon Knight fan, and of course Spidey, too. Plus Resurrection Man, Animal Man, Power Man, Night Man…
eSB: Who is your real-life hero and why?
Aaron: James Gunn—the SF author, not the director (though he’s cool, too). He was my mentor, back in college, an incredibly nice guy, very sharp, great dry wit, very professional, very hard-working, great writer, great with students, and still writing even now in his 90s. He’s a real inspiration.
eSB: Who is the villain you love to hate, and why?
Aaron: Well, there’s always Loki, because he’s just so despicable and doesn’t even notice when he steps on the little people. Then there’s Molecule Man, who I always just feel bad for. Doc Ock is usually pretty heinous, too. And Doom’s always fun just because he chews so much scenery every time.
eSB: In your opinion, what characterizes a hero?
Aaron: The willingness to put yourself on the line—usually physically, but not always—to help and protect others when you don’t have to. I don’t mean when it’s not your job, because people like cops and firefighters choose those jobs in order to help people, but if you screw something up it’s your responsibility to help fix it, and if someone in your family is in trouble you owe it to them to help, whereas if a stranger is in trouble and you step in, that’s being a hero.
eSB: In your opinion, what characterizes a villain?
Aaron: Not caring who you hurt to get your own way.
eSB: What is your favorite superhero movie and why?
Aaron: Captain America: Winter Soldier. I think it’s just an amazing film. It’s got it all—action, humor, suspense, pacing, and great character development.
eSB: What other comic or superhero-related work have you done in the past?
Aaron: I wrote a superhero novella for an anthology called Imaginings: An Anthology of Long Short Fiction a few years back. I also worked on the DCU Roleplaying Game, back in the day. That’s about it—I’ve always wanted to write for comics, and I’ve come close a few times, but it’s never quite worked out. Yet.
eSB: Fiction or comics, which is your favorite medium and why?
Aaron: I haven’t written for comics yet, so obviously fiction is where I’m at right now. But I think comics can be amazing when written well, especially with the right pairing of writer and artist, and I’d love to try my hand at it properly someday.
eSB: Please tell us about your non-comic related work.
Aaron: I write novels, mostly, with the occasional short story, children’s book, educational book, or roleplaying game here and there. I’m currently finishing up an urban fantasy novel called Oversight that will be coming out from Silence in the Library at the end of the year. I’ve also got an educational series coming out from Barron’s, plus I’ve got the last book in my DuckBob SF comedy series to write, and the next book in my Dread Remora space-opera series, and more books in the OCLT occult thriller series to do.
eSB: Please let us know where you can be found on social media.
Aaron: You can find me online at gryphonrose.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/gryphonrose, and on Twitter @gryphonrose.
eSB: Thank you for allowing this glimpse beneath your alter-ego. We’re looking forward to more super heroics and evil geniuses to come.
Aaron: Thank you!