Sean Howe’s Give Our Regards To The Atomsmashers! is the latest in a series of recent books that examine how comic books are received and perceived by critics, fans and children of all ages. Unlike previous books that are filled with dissertations about the social impact of comics, Howe’s book adds a human element by having many of America’s top authors discuss their passion for comic books.
Night Times spoke with editor Sean Howe via email and in person at San Diego’s massive Comic-Con about the book, his work and of course, his love for comics.
NT: How did you get the various writers involved? Did you call them or did they seek you out?
SH: I made up a list of a few dozen of my favorite writers, then set about finding which of them were comics readers. It was easy in the case of a few, such as Jonathan Lethem and Glen David Gold, who had dropped comic-book science in their fiction work. Others, such as Tom Piazza and Chris Offutt, were surprises. I didn't know they read comics until they asked.
Were there any writers who wrote pieces that got cut form the book?
Yes, but it was more deadline-related than anything else.
Do you think that the comic book medium is respected more now than it was in the past?
Absolutely. I never would have imagined that I'd have women approaching me after readings to tell me they were embarrassed that they'd never read comic books!
You get to edit cool things for Criterion's DVD liner notes. Do you select the films you want to write about?
I didn't write the liner notes, but rather had the rewarding experience of assigning and editing the notes, which meant I could pair my favorite writers with their favorite movies. Jonathan Lethem, Luc Sante, Gary Giddins, Geoffrey O'Brien, and Tom Piazza were among the Atomsmashers contributors with whom I'd worked on liner notes.
What do you think of the wave of comic book movies that are out now?
I tend to be disappointed in comic book movies. Oddly, I thought that The Matrix, which was not based on a comic, was what a comic-book movie should feel like. That said, I love that Hollywood is getting the word out on comics, especially when it's Harvey Pekar or Dan Clowes.
How long did it take you to organize, edit and publish the book?
The entire process was just under two years.
What is your next project?
I'm working on several projects, each vastly different from one another, and each in the very beginning stages: trying to develop a television show, writing some fiction, and perhaps doing some more DVD production.
What comic book title would you like to write for?
If I was to work with a pre-existing franchise, I think I'd have plenty to say about Ant-Man.
Read Rob Levy's review of Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers