Did you get your Howard Chaykin fix this past weekend at Raleigh's Oak City Comicon? If not we got you covered! We had the chance to talk to this legend of the comics industry and I just gotta say speaking with him was both interesting, exciting, a pleasure and no one in any interview has ever terrified me more.
What was the first comic book you remember seeing that made you want to become a creator?
HC: I don't recall any one specific. My first comics experience was a gift from two older cousins, who laid on me a refrigerator box filled with comics of all genres when I was four years old--and I was hooked from that instant.
As the artist on the first 10 issues of Star Wars which is no doubt one of the most popular fandoms of all time, what did you think of it at the time?
HC: I feel my work on the material is second rate hack work at best and awful at worst. If I'd known it was the phenomenon it became, I'd like to think I'd have done a better job, but I can't guarantee that. This work will haunt me to my grave, obscuring the quality of the actual good work I've done in the intervening years in the eyes of at least 75 % of the enthusiasts, who confirm once again that the material is more important to them than any quality of craft brought to it--a deeply unfortunate and disappointing truth.
How do you feel the comics industry has changed since you started out? Better or worse?
HC: When I started in comics, the old men were dying and we all assumed the business would die with them, certainly before we turned 30. Now, the business has shrunk rather than died, and exists almost exclusively to serve the interests of the IP world. Neither better nor worse--just evolving.
What would you say is hands down the work that you are the most proud of?
HC: AMERICAN FLAGG!, TIME(SQUARED) and BLACK KISS.
What was your best experience at a convention?
HC: Doing my last LSD trip at my first San Diego Comic Convention.
Without naming names or locations (you can if you want to), what was your worst experience at a convention?
HC: Too many to mention, and too many people involved still living, so I'd prefer to hurt no feelings.
How do you feel about major companies like Marvel or DC doing universe spanning crossovers?
HC: I can't imagine giving less of a shit about this sort of thing
If you could pick one title from any company to work on for the rest of your career what would it be?
HC: Really, now.
Who is a comics creator you have always wanted to work with but never had the chance?
HC: I've done everything I've ever wanted with everyone I've ever wanted to work with, to dangle a participle.
What advice would you have for any creators (writers or artists) looking to break into the comics industry?
HC: First and foremost, remember that the audience has nothing more to give you than second hand received opinions. Go your own way, and take responsibility for what you do but be careful about what you apologize for--pandering is bullshit.
And make a serious decision about whether you want to be good, or popular.