The idea behind AWA is that by putting creators first, we all benefit. Our tagline says it all: “Where the best creators do their best work, for you.” We think the quality of our original stories backs that up, and our fans, critics, and the industry seem to agree with us.

Our “Creator of the Month” program lets us spotlight a different writer, artist, colorist, letterer or more each month, allowing you to get a glimpse into what makes them tick. (What’s more, you may ask? As you may know, AWA is venturing into film and TV, so you may just see a director or other movie auteur show up on these pages over time, too!)

Creator of the Month – August
Mark Russell
Not All Robots, Rumpus Room
Follow Mark Russell
Instagram @manruss
Twitter @Manruss

Who most influenced you in the world of comics?
I feel most influenced by the indies. Particularly people who were at it in the 1990s. The Shannon Wheelers, Lynda Barrys, Dan Clowes, and Mike Allreds of the world. I think when I started writing for DC Comics I felt like, “Well, of course all these characters should be filled with self-loathing and thwarted dreams.” I was surprised when it was pointed out to me that this was weird.

Tell me about your favorite story/panel/art page from an AWA series you’ve worked on.
I think my favorite moment from an AWA title I worked on was when we killed the City of Orlando in NOT ALL ROBOTS. The fact that Mike Deodato, Jr. drew all these dead bodies slumped over on rollercoasters and lining roads in theme parks just felt like such a perfect crystallization of people refusing to take their fate seriously. It was almost a shame to ruin it with words.

What’s your favorite comic book genre?
I’m not sure if it’s a genre, but I always like comics that I feel someone was really compelled to create on a personal level. Either memoirs or fictional stories that feel like they were drawn from some deeply personal well. I feel like I can always tell when this is happening and that’s when a creator has my full attention.

Would you rather be invisible or have the ability to fly?
I already feel pretty invisible so I’m going to say “fly.”

Do you think you could survive in a zombie apocalypse?
No, thank God.

Do you listen to music while you’re creating?
Yes. Usually music without words, though. A lot of John Coltrane and Brian Eno albums.

What is your favorite song or band?
My favorite song is Waiting on a Friend by the Rolling Stones. Not only is it a beautiful piece of music, it really resonates with me. The idea of non-romantic, non-familial love being sort of the magic ingredient in life. That this is the oxygen that makes life livable even when relationships and the great loves of our life fail.

What is the best advice you ever got?
Don’t be mad at somebody unless you really got to be. Give people a break whenever possible. Not only because it makes you a better person, but also because it saves your mental energy for things that really matter.

Where is your happy place?
There are basically three places where I feel more or less just as comfortable. And these also tend to be the places where I write. And those are my home, the local library, and the bar down the street.

Tell us one of your guilty pleasures.
Watching the squirrels in my trees. A lot of the times when I look deep in thought or like I’m working through a complex storyline through in my head, I’m really just watching the squirrels.

If you were stranded on an island with any 3 people — real or fictional, living or dead — who would you pick?
What I’d really like to do is choose the island. But, assuming I can’t and we’re stranded on some remote atoll with nothing but sand, trees, and maybe some wreckage on the beach… I think I would take McGyver, Thor Heyerdahl, and hopefully someone who was both clinically dead and incredibly delicious. I suppose I could just make up a fictional character who met both conditions. We’ll call this person “Patty”.

What’s the last movie you watched?
Asteroid City.

What’s the last comic you read?
Our Members Be Unlimited by Sam Wallman. A comic about the labor movement.

What is your favorite type of pizza/pizza topping?
Taco pizza.

If you could have anything in the world for a last meal, what would it be?
Probably a taco pizza. Especially if I didn’t have to die if I didn’t eat the last slice.

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