THE CONVENTION COLLECTIVE: How did you get into writing/why did you want to become a writer?
Russell Lissau: I started writing for publication in middle school, in the mid-1980s. That continued in high school on my high school newspaper, and then I went to journalism school at Northwestern University. Decades later, I remain a reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago. As for comics, I’d been making my own comic books since I was little, as many kids do. I think I always enjoyed storytelling. And at some point, I discovered I was good at it. I started writing comics professionally at a relatively late age, in my 30s. I had an idea for a comic (about a photojournalist, interestingly enough) and I noodled with it and turned it into a script that I then pitched to DC Comics. An editor passed but liked my work, and eventually I was hired to write a Batman script. It’s still unbelievable. Batman has always been my favorite hero, and to break into comics on a Batbook — that just doesn’t happen.
TCC: What writers inspire you?
Russell: That’s a long list. Hunter S. Thompson, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Greg Rucka, Devin Grayson, Jeph Loeb, Frank Miller, David Mamet, Aaron Sorkin, Ed Brubaker, Darwyn Cooke, Elmore Leonard, Neil Gaiman, David Mack…. I could keep going!
TCC: Tell us your greatest fanboy moment.
Russell: After I’d been writing The Batman Strikes for a few years, I approached Adam West and Julie Newmar at their booths at a con and gave them each copies of my books. I told them that if it hadn’t been for their work, I wouldn’t be writing Batman. Both were appreciative. Newmar and I even chatted for a few minutes about how comic books are made!
TCC: Who is your favorite comic book character/movie/tv character (any fandom)?
Russell: Batman. Always Batman. His is a tragic story full of drama and pathos, and I find that appealing. Plus he’s got the absolute best rogues gallery in comics.
TCC: What genre do you like writing the most?
Russell: Crime stories. It’s one of the reasons I loved writing Batman so much. I didn’t want to just write “Batman beats up the Joker” tales, but stories about the crimes focusing on the villains — and then showing how Batman solves the crimes and catches the bad guys. My current creator-owned mini-series, THE HARDWAYS, is a crime story. Drawn by Shawn Richison, it’s the story of a kidnapping in Las Vegas that goes bad for everyone involved. It’s a caper gone wrong — I love that sub-genre, too. You can find it on Comixology at https://bit.ly/3qzH10S. (editors note: check out the review we did on THE HARDWAYS #1 here)
TCC: When you’re writing, what do you use for background noise? Some creators use music, some use a tv show that they just can listen to. What do you use?
Russell: I used to listen to music when I wrote, typically alt-rock, but these days I prefer silence. I like being able to disappear into my thoughts and the world I’m creating in my script. When I’m writing for the newspaper it’s the same thing — silence. No distractions.
Thanks Russell for your time!
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