I decided to do a set of mini interviews with people I’ve interacted with and have extraordinary backgrounds. Many I’ve met via Facebook and many I’ll meet when I attend SDCC for the first time this July. Next up is Crazy, Sexy Geek and author, Alan Kistler!
Name: Alan Kistler
Online Handle: @SizzlerKistler
Age: As old as my tongue and a little bit older than my teeth
Fave Cartoon: Fullmetal Alchemist, Batman the Animated Series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Gargoyles, Justice League, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Darkwing Duck, Count Duckula, She-Ra, Phineas & Ferb, The Simpsons, and Futurama.
Fave Book: The Hogfather, The Caves of Steel, Dragons of Autumn Twilight, The Positronic Man, Jumper, Warlord of Mars, I am Legend, Sunshine, Star Trek TNG: Crossover, Sherlock Holmes VS. Dracula, the Elric Omnibus, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Reaper Man, Young James Bond: Silverfin, Crisis on Infinite Earths the novelization.
Fave Movie: Dark City, Harvey, Back to the Future, Love Actually, Inception, Batman Begins, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Karate Kid, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Angels in America, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Stalag 17, Terminator 2, Aliens, The 5th Element, Tombstone, For a Few Dollars More, The Muppet Movie.
Fave TV Show: Doctor Who, Star Trek, Life on Mars (UK), Invisible Man, Firefly, The Muppet Show, 30 Rock, Luther, Parks & Recreations, The West Wing, Sherlock, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Community, Homicide: Life on the Street, Fraggle Rock, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Quantum Leap, Brimstone, Wonderfalls, Kings, Arrested Development, Game of Thrones, Jim Henson’s Storyteller, and Cheers.
L: First off, you’re already my hero for being able to whittle your favorite books down to just several, a task I am incapable of! Alan, in addition to writing a column for Newsarama, you host one of the funniest podcasts around (Crazy, Sexy Geeks). What gave you the idea to start up a podcast that explores a wide range of subjects, such as dating to new comics?
AK: Aw, that’s so sweet of you to say that. Thank you. Crazy Sexy Geeks came about originally as several web-videos and then it evolved into a podcast since I could put that out with regularity and it could run longer. It also made it easier to snag interviews since now we could just call or SKYPE people.
As for how it really came about, I saw other geeky comic-focused web-series and listened to similar podcasts and I found a lot of them wanting. They were either so focused on one sort of topic that it got a little dry to me after 15 minutes or they were really disorganized and rambled or their energy was crap or they assumed you know what they were talking about so they never stopped to explain anything.
AK: I actually didn’t contribute to it, I wrote it. It was a few months of work, researching through the books and listing nearly every instance of food, coming up with recipes for them, then also adding lots of other recipes just for fun, like Dire Wolf ale and Lannister IPA.
I absolutely tried out these recipes. Putting together a book like this involves testing, trial and error, and I wouldn’t have felt comfortable publishing it otherwise. Nor would my publisher have gone ahead if I didn’t know what I was doing. And since I’m not a professional chef and I wanted this book to be fun rather than sticking with a strict “only do as they did in medieval times” code, we made sure to make this new cook friendly. There are also Words of Wisdom for each recipe that give tips if you’re not used to working with that style of dish.
AK: Aw, thanks, again. I have to say, my life is pretty fun and amazingly random, which I enjoy since some of my favorite nights are ones where nothing went according to plan and some of my best friends are those I’ve met while walking through a convention floor or hanging out in a bar. In June, I have two more books coming out: The Unofficial Batman Trivia Challenge and The Unofficial Spider-Man Trivia Challenge. Both have over 800 questions dealing with each character, covering the comics, tie-in novels, newspaper strips, films, video games, cartoons, manga stories, and BBC audio plays.I’m also shopping around a proposal for a fourth book that I can’t really talk about yet but it involves examining the history of a certain superhero and discussing how they reflect many things happening in American pop culture and politics, mixed in with my own ideas concerning superheroes as modern folk tales and myth.
Aside from the book projects, I’m currently co-writing a screenplay with a friend. It may or may not involve a powerful young woman kicking a lot of ass. What else… I’m finishing up scripts on a web-based mini-series that should go live in a few months. I’m finishing an audio play that I’m also producing and acting in. And I’m trying to get a web-comic done, but I honestly don’t know how soon that will get into action. I can’t talk about the web-comic, beyond the fact that at some point you will see a penguin with a sword. And for some reason, I’m also taking time to do a fan-fic featuring the 9th Doctor teaming up with the reboot Star Trek cast. When I have a silly idea, I usually have to do something about it, even if it means taking time away from such pursuits as video games and yelling at sporting events. Priorities, people, that’s the secret of the freelancer’s life. That and whiskey.
AK: The original Back the the Future film is one of the finest made films ever done. Every scene has a purpose, every line of dialogue adds to the story, the jokes remain funny over a quarter century later, and it is ridiculously filled with hidden references and temporal effects. If a studio tries to remake that film, I may set the damn place on fire.
Next to that, I’m very passionate about Doctor Who and Star Trek TOS. I love the rest of the Star Trek universe, but TOS holds a strong place in my heart due to the frontier atmosphere and that the crew was more flawed. They’d give each other crap, they’d argue, they’d get drunk. The symbolism of Spock, Kirk and McCoy as Superego, Ego and Id. So many levels of fun.
On the flipside, Doctor Who is amazing because it has no limits and embraces absurdity and imagination. If you are flipping channels and you see a show where there’s a horse on a spaceship, or if you see a scene where there’s a city made of glass surrounded by an ocean of acid and a young/old man with no fashion sense is arguing with a robot dog, you know you’re watching Doctor Who. There are so many reasons the show should not work, yet it lasted 26 seasons, survived in novels, audio plays, comics and a TV-pilot, and now it’s back and bigger. Amazing. It honestly gives me a lot of hope when I see how many people are excited to watch an action show featuring an action hero who refuses to carry a gun or a laser sword and instead chooses to defeat people through reason, optimism, appeals to humanity, or by enabling people to reach hidden potentials for themselves. Intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism. We so need that. Especially the children.
AK: Oh, I wouldn’t say I’m THE guy. There are many pop culture historians out there. Peter Sanderson, Robert Greenberger, Mark Waid, these are folks with ridiculous memory and knowledge at their fingertips and I’m truly honored when some folks mention me in the same sentence as them. As for exploring new territory, I’m kind of doing that right now with my book project and with the audio play. I’ve never written an audio play before, though I listen to them all the time, especially ones from Big Finish Productions, so that’s a great challenge.
I’d love to get acting more again. It’s been about a year since I’ve been on stage and I miss it. I’ve been very much wanting to break into fiction, so I’m working towards that too, both prose and comic-wise. Beyond that… well, there are a few ideas I have for things I hope to do in the near future. Hopefully I can convince others that I know what I’m doing and they’ll say “yes.”
AK: Any position on THEIR planet? Interesting. Assuming I was comfortable with their system of government, I think I’d like to be a storyteller and join some kind of exploration/historical society that operated on their world. I could grab a jet pack and fly over lava-falls, examining crystal forests with flowers that leap into the air in order to get more sunlight, visit with people made of sentient smoke and walk through streets of cities constructed from solidified songs. I’d love to hear what music another planet might produce, what instruments they might construct if their body is a different shape and configuration than a bipedal human being. Then at night I’d relax with a drink and share stories about my own planet and it’s strange, bizarre societies with my new friends. Or maybe I’d just recount how Batman first met Superman and then act out Back to the Future as a one-man show. There’s no point in growing up if you can’t be silly, too.
Many thanks to the awesome Alan Kistler! If you haven’t listened to Crazy, Sexy Geeks, I definitely recommend you do so!