The Batman scribe and Sex Criminals co-creator hits the road to talk comics
Comics | Aidan Morgan
Chip Zdarsky 2023 Canadian Tour
8th Street Quentin’s Comics & Toys
Who Is Chip Zdarsky? This is the question on the minds and in the mouths of politicians, celebrities, heads-of-state and influencers around the world.
The answer: Chip Zdarsky is a patriot. An Ontarian. A man with a car (the “Chipmobile”), some snacks and a mission to spread the Gospel of Batman across this country.
Zdarsky is also a prolific comics artist and writer who has worked on titles from Spider-Man and Batman to Jughead and Howard the Duck. He’s also responsible for independent comics like Sex Criminals (with Matt Fraction) and his most recent work, Public Domain. He’s also an Eisner-award-winning talent beloved across the comics industry.
Zdarsky recently set out on the “Chip Zdarsky 2023 Canadian Tour Except For the East Coast I’m Sorry I’ll Do You Next Time”, a non-Maritime cross-country journey to local comics stores. He’ll be at the south end ComicReaders in Regina on May 16 and at 8th Street Quentin’s Comics & Toys in Saskatoon.
I spoke with Zdarsky to get his thoughts on the comics industry, anagrams and a deeply disturbing digression about sex clubs.
How’s the tour going?
Not bad. Today is the first day where I’ve officially left home and I’m gone for a month now. Up until now, it’s been day trips just outside of Toronto and then back to Toronto. But today’s the first day where I’m on my own hitting the road.
It’s going to be a full month of not seeing my loved ones. Except for the fans and the readers, who I also consider to be loved ones.
Hopefully they’re showing up and giving you their love.
Yeah. So far I’ve done three shops and it was surprising. I have fond memories as a child of going to comic book store signings where you get to hang out with the creator and ask a bunch of questions, see them draw and have more of an interaction with them than you might at a comic convention. I just wanted to support comic shops and meet people after being cooped up for so long.
I was wondering if you could tell me about some of your recent work — in particular, Public Domain.
That’s a comic I’ve been self-publishing on Substack and now putting out in print at Image Comics. It’s about a fictional comics creator who creates the most popular superhero property in the world. It’s a comic book, then it becomes a movie, TV show, etcetera. A very similar trend to like the Marvel and DC stories. And now he’s in his retirement years. And, you know, he hasn’t really seen a lot of money from it. It kind of spiraled out of his control. As it did for a lot of creators in real life.
I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Marvel and DC, but I know people and I have friends who have created characters who have shown up on TV screens and movie screens, and who feel like maybe they’re owed more for their creations. It’s a tricky subject.
I know that there are certain trade-offs that come with working for Marvel and DC as you’re describing. There must also be some degree of sheer enjoyment out of being able to say, oh, I write Batman comics.
Yeah, 100 per cent. The trade-off is like “Ohhh, I get to have a ton of fun living my childhood fantasies through these characters”.
Now it’s time for the anagram section of the interview. This is standard journalistic practice.
Okay, so we’ve got a few anagrams of “Chip Zdarsky”. I’d like you to rate them on a scale of [dismissive] “ehh” to [intrigued] “hmm”.
So first off, we have “Zip sky chard.”
Chard, as in a vegetable. The vegetable that looks kind of like spinach.
Yeah. Yeah. I was gonna say almost like a kale kind of thing. Chard and sky just do not go well together. Like, chard belongs on the ground, if not in the ground. And sky is sky.
Right. They’re opposites.
I get this idea of chard flying through the sky at your head. Zip Sky Chard. It’s not as catchy as, say, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”.
“Cloudy With a Chance of Chard” would not have done as well at the box office, I don’t think. I don’t know. I’m rating it “ehh”.
Even if it were high-velocity chard it still wouldn’t work.
In a way, this may be your fault because you picked Chip Zdarsky as a name in the first place.
I did pick the name. Yeah.
Okay, second anagram. It’s similar but maybe a little more potential. Dry Zip Shack.
That is the dirtiest thing I’ve ever heard. Dry zip shack. Not even a wet one. Somehow — I don’t know why — it just seems dirtier now. It’s dry.
Not even the courtesy of a wet zip.
“Dry zip shack”. I’m sorry, I know I’m going into dirty territory, but it’s your fault. I’m picturing, like, a shack with a glory hole that has a zipper.
That sounds awful.
Which just seems dangerous.
And maybe it’s on a timer? If you take too long the zipper just zips back up.
That’s really terrible. Wow.
You know, when we launched the first Sex Criminals, we had the launch at a sex club in Toronto called Wicked. It was a great night but the one thing I noticed was they had glory holes there. But I feel like glory holes should be oval shaped, because the heights of gentlemen vary.
Here’s the last one. This one feels like it has some comic book energy: Zap Hicks Dry. Oh, that sounds dirty too, now that I’m saying it.
I feel like we’ve already gone into this territory. It sounds like something that’s scrawled on the bathroom wall: “Come in here at 9:30 a.m., I’ll zap hicks dry.
It did not occur to me when I wrote these anagrams down, but now that I’m looking at the words, I realize how smutty they sound.
It’s great. I love it.
What do you think of when I say, “AI generated Chip Zdarsky graphic novels, guaranteed half off real Chip Zdarsky graphic novels”?
I love it? It’s great. Take some work off my plate, please [sighs].
The AI thing, it’s so funny, it’s definitely gonna be the end of us, I mean creative people. It’s gonna be really hard, I think, to stand out in the crowd. I don’t necessarily think AI will be able to create great art, but it will create art that will trick people into thinking it’s great.
Yeah, definitely agree with you on that one. Well, it’s already happening. Anyhoo. Is there anything else that you think is of vital importance for readers of Planet S?
I just want to say that I love this great nation of ours. I look forward to spreading the Gospel of Batman from town to town. Batman: a poor, unrecognized character who needs the spotlight just a little bit more, and I’m only too happy to shine that spotlight as I drive from town to town, along with my brand-new driver’s license. ■