If you knew me, then you'd probably know that while I have an interest in film, somehow none of what I've watched thus far (with the exception of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) has been based on a comic book. And, while I love to read, I don't really gravitate toward comic books or graphic novels. That is until now, when I was sent a copy of Jordan Margolis's newest publication, "Excuseman: A Ring of Truth." Recently, I was able to pose a few questions to the attorney / author. Here's what he had to say about what led him to create a comic book instead of a novel, when his interest in comics began, his favorite authors, and much more...
Andrew DeCanniere: Since your newest publication is not a novel, but rather a comic book, I would be interested in knowing what led to this choice.
Jordan Margolis / EXCUSEMAN (XQ): EXCUSEMAN, like all Super Heroes, derives his legitimacy from the imagination of well-meaning readers. In one of his umpteen new books this month, Deepak Chopra recently opined that Super Heroes are modern-day mythological figures. I don’t necessarily agree, and I wanted to present a more realistic Origin Story in a familiar style, which reveals how EXCUSEMAN got his powers. The Power of Reverse Apology is the pseudo-science I created in my first book, The Misadventures of Excuseman, wherein I explained that the ancient Greek “apologia” meant to defend an idea; hence an excuse. What better way than a Comic Book to transcend time and space so we can witness Aristotle teaching Alexander the Great the secrets of “people control”? (Actually, if I had Steven Spielberg money, I’d use special effects in 3D, or at least a Super 8, but a comic book was all I could afford.)
AD: Have you always been interested in comic books? At what point and in what way did this interest develop?
XQ: I’ve been hooked on comic books since I learned to look at pictures, (reading has taken me a bit longer, so I’m looking forward to War and Peace this summer. The book, I mean.) As a kid, I hid my share of Marvel and DC comics inside my school back pack. My Hebrew school teacher was not too happy when I chanted from Spiderman rather than the Torah on my Bar Mitzvah. Before then, nobody knew that Moses dropped the Ten Commandments when he shot his webbing goo at the Golden Calf. You think only Deepak Chopra has deep spiritual thoughts?
AD: From my perspective, it’s a bit difficult to put Excuseman: A Ring of Truth into a particular genre. How would you categorize it or sum it up, without giving too much away?
XQ: First of all, Andrew, I’m Jewish, so I never give anything away. But all seriousness aside, when Michael Troy, pop culture artist (Going Gaga), advised me that he was available to collaborate again (XQ Goes Gallactic illustrations), to create EXCUSEMAN’s origin story, we faced the challenge of spanning several decades of earth shaking excuses in only eight pages. We developed a combination of mural and panel configurations to skewer dozens of historical figures by cartoon political satire. The trick was juxtaposing Jordo the Lawyer, as a secret government agent, with EXCUSEMAN’s exploits, both of whom changed the course of history, despite never being seen in the same room. We must have done something right, because the back of of A Ring of Truth is honored to include blurbs by syndicated cartoonists, Shannon Wheeler (Too Much Coffee Man) and Lalo Alcaraz (La Cucaracha).
AD: Who are some of your influences when you work on something like this? Is it one particular individual, or perhaps several people who influence your work?
XQ: Well, my art mixes law with humor, and there aren’t many Trial Lawyers running around in public wearing bright blue and orange spandex tights, not to mention my cape. To be honest, my biggest influence was my late father, Irving Margolis. (He was usually “late” even before he died.) My dad taught me his unique way to strive towards the Jewish concept of “Tikkun Olam,” repairing the world, through justice and humor. However, my more notable influences are pretty obvious. For political satire, my influences were Ben Franklin, Mark Twain and Franz Kafka. For anarchy, my influences were the Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Richard Pryor, and Mel Brooks. For poetry, I’d say E.E. Cummings, James Thurber and Allen Ginsburg. Lemme add Lenny Bruce and George Carlin as inspirations.
AD: Who are your favorite authors?
XQ: I loved to read, and always have a book on me (or eBook, yeah I’m cool). Growing up, I read everything by Leon Uris, Dickens, Dostoevsky, and I still read Philip Roth, who just keeps getting better. Nowadays, for fun, I read everything by Robert Parker, Christopher Buckley, Carl Hiaasen, Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke and Chuck Palahniuk. But Scott Turow stands out as my all-time fave, crafting courtroom drama with seer like observations on the human condition.Besides, Scott wrote the best blurb ever for Excuseman Only Tortures English; “Jordy always makes me laugh.” C’mon, you can’t beat that kind of writing!
AD: What draws you to them? To that sort of literature in particular?
XQ: Story and characters, rapid fire dialogue and surprise endings. I believe the best tribute comes when a reader laughs out loud, for real, in public. Of course, I’m referring to humor books, so I hope the ghost of Dostoevsky doesn’t visit me in my dreams tonight and hit me in the head with an axe!
AD: Which of their books would you recommend and why?
XQ: Now I’m a bit superstitious about Dostoevsky’s ghost, so I’ll start with Crime and Punishment, but I encourage you NOT to laugh out loud (unless you’re in Siberia and no one will hear you). Otherwise, you can pull any book by the above authors, including the dead ones, and find a good read.
AD: If someone were to tell you that they only plan to read one book this year – though I can’t imagine why someone would read only one – what would that book be, and why is that book in particular important?
XQ: Actually, Andrew, that’s an excellent question, which I thought you’d never ask. I strongly encourage everyone who can read (although there are funny illustrations) to grab a copy of Excuseman Only Tortures English, More Novel Than Ever. Of course, I’d prefer if you bought it, but even if you grab a copy and get arrested for shoplifting, please call me; I am an attorney first, and green is green, which partially answers your second question. But, also, with the recent news that a torture suit can proceed against Rumsfeld, and the prior Nigerian indictment against Cheney; my plot line (George W. Bush hiring me to defend him at a Show Trial when Iran indicts him for War Crimes) is not so fictional after all, except much funnier, of course.
AD: Now that you’ve finished this particular book, what is your next project? Will it be another comic book or will it be a different format?
XQ: Currently, I’m working with my uber slick director, Mark Gerard, filming two web series projects. My Excuse of the Day videos are quick hits, each running only 30 seconds or less, perfect for sharing. Ever the lawyer, I’ve incorporated Planet Jordo, LLC to produce EXCUSEMAN Saves Hollywood, a new web series which begins shooting in September, featuring celebrities who don’t mind laughing at themselves when they screw up, and look-a-likes to portray them when they do. All XQ videos will be presented on my website, www.excuseman.com as well as YouTube, FaceBook and Twitter. And I bet Michael Troy put you up to asking me this, because he just called, nudging me to begin writing the next installment of EXCUSEMAN for Planet Jordo Comics. Hiyo Segway, Away!
Photo / Video Credit: Mark Gerard