Welcome to Interviews With The Industry, a monthly series from Comical Musings. Each month we interview different personalities in the exciting world of comic books. We believe that everyone who contributes to our favorite art form is valuable from creators to retailers and we celebrate them here. This month we are privileged to get to speak to someone on my interview “bucket list.” You may know him from his stint in comics journalism or from his work in the technology field. You may not know him at all, but you should. This month, we interview Ron Richards.
Scott: Thanks for agreeing to chat with me, Ron. What is your official place in comic-dom now?
Ron: I am the Director of Business Development at Image Comics, which basically means that I work on business type things for Image. Sales, marketing, spreadsheets…all the not so glamorous aspects of the comics business.
Scott: How did you get the job at Image? Is there a cool “behind the scenes” story? Did your long-standing courtship with Erik Larsen through the pages of Savage Dragon get you past the first interview?
Ron: I wish there was a cool origin story for you, but it’s pretty boring. I’ve known the folks at Image for years through working on the media side of comics at iFanboy and had a pretty good relationship with them personally as well as professionally. They had an opening that they thought I’d be a good fit for, I considered it and accepted. Pretty standard hiring story.
Scott: Did you attend SDCC for Image officially?
Ron: Yes I did.
Scott: Is it harder or more stressful to run through a con as an Ifanboy guy trying to find scoops and/or grabbing exclusive interviews or as a cog in the wheel of business presentation and marketing?
Ron: I’ll be 100% honest. Working SDCC or any convention for iFanboy or for a publisher like Image is hard. Really hard, but in completely different ways. If I was hard pressed, working the con for Image is slightly more stressful because it’s a bigger operation than iFanboy was, and it involves sales and intense details and logistics, but I probably worked just as hard at both.
Scott: Speaking of the convention scene, one of Comical Musings’ writers (JK Leo) went to your groundbreaking event, Morrisoncon and absolutely loved it! What was it like to pull that off?
Ron: Glad to hear JK Leo loved it – that makes all the hard work that went into it worth it. It was a ton of work and planning and tough, tough work – but it was completely worth it and one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever worked on.
Scott: Do you have anything else coming in the way of an exclusive, creator-focused convention that you can tell us about? Is Image trying to utilize any of those skills?
Ron: Well, this past July, Image hosted IMAGE EXPO in San Francisco, which was a single day event with some of our best creators in attendance as we announced new titles and initiatives. We’re doing another one this January, and it’s blast to work on and pull off. It’s not just my skills, but everyone at Image coming together to put on a great event for fans, retailers and the press.
Scott: I feel like I got to know Ron Richards through Ifanboy and I always felt that I identified with you. I know that leaving was a conflict of interest thing, but do you still have anything to do with Ifanboy? ( residual checks? 😉 )
Ron: Thanks for identifying with me. Leaving iFanboy was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and it was one of the things that made taking the gig at Image even harder. But Josh and Conor are two of my best friends and they were super supportive. In fact, when I told them about the potential job, it was Josh who said “You’re nuts if you don’t go for it.” I’m eternally grateful for the support and friendship those guys give me on a daily basis. We talk everyday, because, well even though we did iFanboy together, we were friends first and that has continued just like it has been for over 10 years.
Scott: When did you know that you had made it as a comic book journalist?
Ron: I never said I was a comic book journalist! I’ve always said that we’re entertainers, pundits at best. But that said, the first time a quote from one of my reviews was printed on a cover, that’s when I felt accomplished. That book, by the way, was Dynamo5 from Image Comics
Scott: I miss you greatly on the podcast. Can you ever legally guest star? Is there some sort of non-compete clause situation?
Ron: I miss it greatly too. I suppose I could go back on, but guys have been doing a great job without me, so I don’t think they need me anymore.
Scott: How bummed are you that you left Ifanboy right when Bendis started getting your beloved X-Men popping? What is your favorite thing about the current state of The X-Men?
Ron: Not too bummed. I still get to read the comics, so I win. My favorite thing about the current state of the X-Men is easily Wolverine & The X-Men and the work Jason Aaron has done with the characters. They feel like a family again and I think they owe alot of that to Aaron’s writing.
Scott: Do you listen to the POTW Podcast now that you are not a part of it?
Ron: I listen to every episode, every week.
Scott: In your time at Ifanboy.com, was there ever a time where you said something critical about a comic book property or creator that you felt bad about later?
Ron: There have been a couple of times where I was overly critical without explaining my criticism in a fair and educated manner, so I did regret those, but thankfully most of the time Josh or Conor would call me out on it, or we were able to go back and discuss it further. That’s one of the things I took away from the iFanboy experience – that criticism is okay if you have the analysis and intelligent thought to back it up. You can’t just say “This sucks!” You have to explain why and how it sucks and show your reasoning through analysis.
Scott: At one time, I published a scathing amateur review of “Hell Yeah,” entitled “Hell No.” Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?
Ron: Sure. I forgive you. But you’re allowed to like what you like and not like what you like.
Scott: In your opinion, what is the most exciting thing coming out of Image next?
Ron: It’s so hard to pick just one thing because we have so many amazing things happening right now. VELVET from Brubaker and Epting was one of the best first issues I’ve ever read, in my humble opinion. SEX CRIMINALS is one of the most original, unique comics out there. SAGA and EAST OF WEST amaze with every issue. The stuff Rick Remender has coming with BLACK SCIENCE and DEADLY CLASS is going to blow people’s minds. So I can’t just pick one thing – so the most exciting thing would have to be that it’s literally something else every few minutes.
Scott: I have been on record as saying that Image could soon overtake DC Comics as a “Big Two” publisher, based on the quality of Image products, the adaptability of Image properties, and creativity of Image’s storytellers. Could you see this happening?
Ron: I have a ton of respect for what Marvel, DC and the other publishers do. I try not to get hung up on the “Big Two” or numbers etc. We just try to make the best comic books we can and I can only hope more and more people read them. If someday as many people who read DC or Marvel read Image, then awesome, we’re doing our job.
Scott: What’s next for Ron? Do you have the writing bug? Josh wrote Astro Van and Dixon’s Notch. Do you ever see yourself creating?
Ron: Nope, no aspirations for writing or creating. I’m happy doing the business side of things. I enjoy it, that’s where I get to be creative and that’s good for me.
Scott: Last question: Gerard Way and now Max Bemis have created successful comic book properties in The Umbrella Academy and Polarity, respectfully. If Morrissey was to write a comic book, what do you think that it would be about?
Ron: It would probably be about himself.
So, there it is. I know it is silly to say that interviewing a former interviewer is an odd thing to be on your “bucket list,” but I love Ron Richards. Ifanboy was a big part of me coming back to comics and Ron was the Ifanboy that I related to most. There is a charismatic energy that Ron exudes and it makes you interested in whatever is being discussed. He was a pioneer in comics podcasting and deserves every privilege that his new job at Image affords him. Ron Richards can be enjoyed on the All About Android Show and on this great video of him experiencing Google Glass for the very first time. I follow Ron on Twitter for up to date updates on fancy food, punk rock, and other various info…you all should. Join us next month as we interview another great personality in the world of comic books.
~ Scott Deaux ~