R. Alan Brooks, keeping pop culture alive in Denver.Britney Ouzts/PhotosbyB
#3: R. Alan Brooks
Atlanta transplant R. Alan Brooks has got his genres down. The graphic novelist (and author of the soon-to-be-released The Burning Metronome) and MotherF**Ker in a Cape podcaster gives words to pictures as a writer and spotlights local nerd- and comics-culture heroes as an interviewer and moderator. He does all of that with a much-needed twist of diversity in storytelling, and when he’s not wading knee-deep in pop culture, he’s the musician Soul Daddy, hosting monthly open mics at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox on the side. To top it off, he’s writing a screenplay! What’s next for this fanboy of comics, mystery and sci-fi crossovers? Brooks tells all via the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
R. Alan Brooks: Either Rod Serling or Mark Twain. Rod Serling, because with The Twilight Zone, he mastered the modern fable, creating entertaining and thought-provoking stories that made people examine their lives. That’s something I aspire to in my own writing. Also, I was born in the town where he died, about a month after his passing. So, the natural conclusion to draw is that I’m Rod Serling, right?
Mark Twain, because he’s the only author whose writing cracks me up so much that I actually laugh out loud. He was like a word warlock — crazy ahead of his time. In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, he actually used the phrase “tricked out.” (It’s in Chapter 23: “He got no new clothing during his apprenticeship, but on his graduation day his master tricked him out in spang-new tow-linens and made him feel unspeakably rich and fine.”)
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Melissa Rosenberg, the writer and show-runner of the Jessica Jones series on Netflix. I dig the complexity of her writing and the dimension she’s able to give to her characters.
Walter Mosley, one of my favorite authors. This guy writes enthralling historical fiction that breathes context into social issues that black Americans have faced for centuries.
Charlie Brooker, who’s behind Black Mirror and seems to be the inheritor of Rod Serling’s legacy.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Being afraid to finish your work and put it out to the world. Stop that shit! Fear isn’t your friend. Neither is perfectionism.
What's your day job?
Thankfully, it’s art: “All day, errrry day.” I make a meager living from writing, hosting my podcast and music gigs.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I’d ask them for unlimited wishes! ?? (Wait, that’s an answer to a different question.) ?? I’d do more of what I already do, I suppose. I’d like to expand my art into other media and provide opportunities for creative people who are motivated but don’t have the necessary resources.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
Denver is truly good for my soul. It’s creative, open, and generally a loving place. Although I love traveling, I find much of the comfort of home in Denver.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Obviously, that’s a complex question, but I think there’s a lot to be said for the example of MCA Denver, which decided to engage local working artists by creating free memberships for them, hiring them to bring events to the museum and making it a place where artists could gather and build community.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
My collaborator on The Burning Metronome, Matt Strackbein, is one of the most formidable artists I’ve ever known. His design sense is beautiful, and he always obliterates deadlines. Working with him has been the most rewarding creative collaboration I’ve ever had in my life.
I plan to release our book in July, finish the movie script I’m working on, write the next arc of The Burning Metronome, keep performing music at cool places like Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox and others, and generally try to live an interesting life while participating in cool shit.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts (and/or comics) community in the coming year?
Five comics creators come to mind immediately:
Dailen Ogden, an artist/writer whose work I admire. She’s creating a comic book called The Liminal, and every bit of it that I’ve seen is knocking my socks off.
Thea Hunt’sAmelia comic should be done soon, and will definitely turn some heads.
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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.