Intewrview with Tim Broderick of CASH AND CARRY

This is an interview from our current issue of Crimespree Magazine, issue 31. (copies still available) Interview conducted by Timm Hintz. I first met Tim Broderick in 2007 at Love is Murder.

I went to a panel on graphic novels not knowing what to expect. As I sat in a room watching people come in and find a seat. I saw a man walk in and set some things down on a table walk to the back of the room get a glass of water. Walk up to me and say “I’m Tim nice to meet you, and you are?” After exchanging introductions and talking about his book (him talking, me listening eagerly). He went to the front of the room and started the panel. As I listened to him talk about himself and his characters I found myself wanting more information. I left that panel and went right to the bookroom and bought Tim’s book “CASH AND CARRY”.

I found out later that this was his second book, so I also picked up “SOMETHING TO BUILD UPON”. I was excited by these books of murder, mystery and action, I was blown away. I have the honor of interviewing Tim and can’t be more excited.

Timm Hintz: Did you find it difficult to make the transition from online novels to paper novels?

Tim Broderick: Actually no. While I was creating the first story, Lost Child, for the web back in 2000, I was asked by my wife what I wanted to eventually do, what were my goals. At the time, I was considering it a victory when I got a page done. It was while I was in a bookstore looking for a new copy of Maus by Art Speigleman that I had the epiphany. I found Maus in the Jewish studies section of the bookstore, not the graphic novel section. Since I was basically drawing a mystery story, I decided to go all in and commit to doing a mystery – one that would work on the web and on the printed page. And the printed book would be able to go on the shelves with other mystery books. At that time, the graphic novel shelves – with a few exceptions – were filled with reprints – superhero stories and imported manga serials repackaged as stand-alone books. Original work that I felt really fit the idea of a graphic novel was just lost on those shelves – overwhelmed by corporate comics. So it seemed pretty logical to me to do something that could go there, but also sit in another section. After that, it was a pretty easy process from a technical point of view to create pages for both print and the web.

TH: How would you describe your main character David Diangelo?

TB: If it wasn’t for the tragedies in his past, David would be a bright young college graduate successful in the corporate world. But his life was derailed by the death of both parents and the incident that put his sister in a coma. As he needed to survive, circumstances thrust him into the new economy where people acquire new skills as they go along in order to stay competitive and get new jobs. It’s not any easy task for people with a family safety net – for David it’s been a grinding marathon. Imagine having to learn a new software program one day, and figure out how to repair a roof the next. And to find these jobs, he’s become adroit at using technology to make connections. As he says: “The new economy is all about links. Don’t have enough time to do that special task? I do. And all you have to do is link up…” For him personally, he’s had to be grimly determined for so long that what joy he’s known are fuzzy, childhood memories. And he has a pessimistic view of happiness: that it won’t last and he needs to prepare for the next bad thing. In the current story, Children of the Revolution, this world view is being challenged due to his sister recovering from her injury and waking up. Now, David is confronted with the possibility his life could change for the better, and he’s not handling it very well. I also sometimes imagine that he’s descended somehow from Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese.

TH: What inspired you to start writing graphic novels?

TB: A basement flood and my family. About 1996, we had a horrible Spring rain that flooded out our home’s basement and destroyed all the artwork I’d done in college and up to that point. I lost everything. I gradually realized I had nothing to show my daughters what I did, what I liked to do. When I saw some people posting their cartoons on the web, it kind of all fell into place. TH: Any plans to turn Children of the Revolution into a graphic novel? Or are you going to keep it as an online novel? TB: Absolutely. Once I have the story done, I’ll take it offline and shop it to publishers, just like I did with “Cash & Carry.” Few people make a living from internet page-views along. Most use the internet to sell merchandise – books, t-shirts, prints. And by the way, visit timbroderick.net. I’ll be bringing out some new prints in time for Wizard World Chicago this August. I’ll have them available on my website for sale as well.

TH: What other odd jobs do you think David may be up for?

TB: Wow, I’m not quite sure if David is going to survive this one. But, I have a few stories in mind – one that might actually work as a play called “A Day in the Death of Katie McClellan.”

TH: What process do you use when creating the storyline? Writing or drawing first?

TB: Outline, outline, outline. Since it takes two years or more to produce a single story, I need to make sure I have key things written down so I can hit the milestones when I should. After that, I do more detailed scripting a few pages at a time in a notebook turned sideways, two pages to each notebook page. I’ll sketch out the frames, write up some dialogue and maybe plot out the look of each panel. Then, when I sit down to do each page, I’ll go back and edit the dialogue to fit. Sometimes I change it enough that I end up changing dialogue in other pages down the line. In a way, that’s a good editing process – write it down then come back later and edit it.

TH: Do you let your daughters read your work? Or are you going to wait till they are a little older?

TB: Nope, they’ve read it all. I like to say that my work is accessible to 10 year olds and people like me who used to be 10. But, I also tend to self-edit. Careful with cuss words, make sure the violence isn’t gratuitous but advances the story and the characters. I believe that the way you respond to challenges like violence can tell you something about the nature of a person. And since I started with the idea that I would appeal to that wide an audience, I don’t do much in the way of sex or nudity. To be honest, there’s so many people doing stuff like that I figured I could set myself apart a bit by avoiding it.

TH: What’s next for you and David DeAngelo?

TB: I have some library programs coming up this summer, Wizard World in August and hopefully some more bookstore signings. I may travel to Fallcon in Minneapolis again in the fall, and try SPACE in Columbus next Spring. There’s also a few cons in the Detroit area I haven’t been to yet. But for the most part, after this summer I intend to pull back a bit on the selling side to focus on getting “Children of the Revolution” completed. It’s going to be David’s toughest challenge yet and I have two endings I’m playing with – one where he lives and one where he dies. If he survives, I have to decide if I’m going to take a break from David’s life for a bit. I have a few ideas for other stories that have been kicking around. It’d be weird, though, not doing a webcomic – next May will mark my tenth year doing Odd Jobs stories. No matter what I do in the future, any character I create will have been influenced by what I’ve learned from writing about David Diangelo.