Project Wonderful

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Interview with Comic Book fan Ashley Oglesby

So I have chosen for my first interview to go with a fan of Comic Books my good friend Ashley Oglesby from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

I READ COMIC BOOKS: Ashley is there anything that we should know about you before we start?

ASHLEY: Nothing all that fascinating. I'm a man of many hobbies (pro wrestling and comics being the primary ones) and as you may soon discover, when I'm into a hobby I'm into it pretty hardcore. I'm lucky enough to be married to a woman that can put up with my little obsessions.

IRCB: We should note that Ashley's wife carries a gun for work and can end his hobbies whenever she wants to do so.

IRCB:So Ashley you have a pretty unique way of reading comics that I don't think most of us would attempt to do. Tell us your process and where you are starting from.

A: HAHA that is true but she's a cool chick and just goes along with it.

A: Yeah I started a comic reading project almost three years ago. I've always loved comics but previously couldn't really afford to keep up with it regularly. But as of three years ago I could and started thinking about how I wanted to proceed. The mutant universe has always fascinated me but by 2007, if you've never really followed the X-Men and other mutant groups, the sheer volume of history involved with those titles can be overwhelming to try to get into. It was around the same time that I discovered that Marvel had released DVD ROMs of every single issue of their main titles up to about 2006. So it got me to thinking: All the major titles are one continuous story that started in the 60s. And to me, there's only one way to read a story and that is from the beginning. So I headed to the local comic shop and picked up the Amazing Spiderman and Uncanny X-Men DVD ROMs. I was a bit surprised at how well the stories held up from way back then (especially Spidey) so I decided what I would do is read EVERY Spiderman and Mutant title form the very beginning on. The way I approach it is I pretend I'm a comic fan from whichever month I happen to be in and am going to pick up that month's titles and read them. I read everything in cover date order, so say whichever Spiderman and mutant related titles were cover dated April of 1982 I read, then move on to May of 1983, and so on.
IRCB: So you didn't go back to the 1960's your timeline starts in 1982?

A: No I started in the 60s and have worked my way through. I'm currently in April of 1983 so I'm just now starting to get into the New Mutants. Alpha Flight is right around the corner. I should note that I'm getting EVERY title so that would include Marvel Team Up and Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spiderman (when's the last time you heard THAT full title) as far as Spidey titles. My focus is on the Spiderman and Mutant titles.

Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider Man is a great title and I love a lot of the cover images appeared in that comic.

Spider-Man and the X-Men are also my favorite comics of all-time and Uncanny X-Men #170 is really what got me into comic books.

IRCB: Now you read each comic month by month as if you went to the comic book store to buy them every month. In the 80's you will start to find out what the Major Crossover is will you be buying all the tie-in comics that go along with Secret Wars and all of the many cross-over’s to come in the 1990's and beyond? Do you think that these crossovers make peak your interest in other titles such as The Avengers or The Incredible Hulk?

A: Wow that's a great question. I am fascinated by many of the characters in the Marvel U (Marvel Team Up was a great way to get introduced to them). I do plan to get every issue of every crossover so long as the event takes place in one of the core titles I'm reading (or if one of the characters are in a big crossover mini-series ala Secret Wars). As far as branching off into other characters' titles, I doubt it. This project is so massive in scope that you do have to set some limits. Now that's not to say that I won't pick up the occasional TPB of some characters that intrigue me along the way to read on the side. But as far as this project goes, my focus is on Spiderman and all mutant titles.

IRCB: You gotta respect a man with a plan.

IRCB: Now to some serious business. Who killed Gwen Stacy? And if you had to choose Gwen or Mary Jane?

A: Ooooooh I love this question. This is my theory on the death of Gwen: The Goblin already killed her before they got to the bridge. She was completely motionless the whole time she was up there. Of course Spidey didn't know she was dead so he had to fight to save her. Goblin knocks her off the bridge, Spidey slings a web line to save her and does indeed snap her neck in the process. Spidey thereby thinks he was responsible for her death. The fact that she was dead before Spidey even got there but him blaming himself for her death makes it all the more tragic.

This leads me to a side note. The death of Gwen is arguably one of the biggest events in comics history. Anybody can go and read those couple of issues. However, having read everything from her first appearance and all the different phases of her relationship with Peter makes reading her death all the more impactful. I seriously had to brace myself before reading her death because I really didn't want her to die even though I knew exactly what was going to happen because it's such a famous story.

As for your second question, Gwen all the way. Peter was saving up money to buy her an engagement ring right before she died and she was really good for him Now, to be fair, I'm only in 1983 right now so haven't yet gotten to the good stuff of Peter and MJ's romance.

IRCB: Hmmmmmmmm you know that your theory is fightin' words for a large portion of the comic book geek society.

A: All I can say is the good ole' Spidey can't really go wrong in his choice of women he's always got the hotness surrounding him.

A: Yeah I know that's not the most popular theory, but reading the issues allows for some variance of interpretation.
IRCB: So we know you are a big Spider-Man fan but who are your favorite characters so far in your reading? Feel free to include superheroes, villains, and supporting cast.

A: Favorite characters. Wow, that could be quite the list. Here we go:

Spidey supporting characters: Robbie Robertson - constantly the voice of calm and reason in the midst of all the chaos.

Favorite X-Man: Nightcrawler - I'm a man of the faith and so is he. I'll never forget this one issue where the X-Men were fighting Dracula. One of the X-Men (I believe Wolverine) held up some sticks to make a cross at Dracula and nothing happened. Dracula says "My friend, that trick only works for those who believe". He turns around and Nightcrawler's right there with a cross and yells "I BELIEVE!!!!" and down goes Dracula. Classic. The other appeal to Nightcrawler is he doesn't need to be the center of attention, is a true friend to his cohorts, and ya gotta love the smell of brimstone and BAMF!

A-Grade villains: Dr. Doom is always fun and Magneto is of course awesome because he truly believes his causes are altruistic. That makes for the best kind of evil.

B-Grade villain: Arcade. Give this guy his own book because I will follow him to the ends of the Earth. Murderworld is sooo much fun.

Other Heroes: Ben Grimm is a favorite of mine, mainly because sometimes he doesn't always wanna play the superhero bit, he just wants to lay on the couch, eat some chips, and watch some tee vee. That's how I roll!

IRCB: Those are some nice choices I do love Robbie Robertson he keeps it real all the time and Nightcrawler has been one of my favorite X-Men for a long time. You may be the only person on the planet that has serious love for Arcade but I can't hate on a man in a white suit.

IRCB: I noticed that you didn't take the bait with my last question possibly because your wife may read this but let’s talk about your one true love that I have known about for a while now the beautiful vixen Alison Blaire the DAZZLER. What is your fascination with the lovely lady?

A: Haha yeah I knew we'd get to this. It started out as kind of a joke. Dazzler was officially the first X-Men spinoff series (even before Wolverine's first limited series). From a lot of what I'd heard from people was that the series wasn't very good. So I was hyping about how excited I was to read the series in a tongue in cheek sort of way. But when I got to the series, I really didn't think it was bad at all. Now I'm not saying its Comic Book Shakespeare, but I do think it gets a bad rap that it doesn't deserve. First of all, she has powers but really doesn't want to be a hero at all. Now Spiderman sometimes falls into this way of thinking but Dazzler really means it. She just wants to be a singer but trouble keeps finding her. Plus she took on some real heavyweights in the series. In one of the first issues she talks some sense into Galactus. That took some real guts from a 20-something year old woman. The title also was not your typical comic book fare as many times the focal point is on her personal life instead of battles with the baddies. So kids, if anybody tries to tell you that Dazzler is lame, don't you fall for it, check it out for yourself!

IRCB: So you are alright with DAZZLER being the comic book ABBA and self lighting mirror ball? And have you found the 1984 Marvel Graphic Novel: Dazzler The Movie?

A: Well considering her first appearance was in 1980 and her series started in 1981, the country was in full on disco mode. Comics have always reflected the signs of the times and as embarrassing as the disco era might be to some, it only makes sense that Marvel created a character that reflected that subculture. Plus she did sing a Ramones song at one of her concerts, so she's A-OK with me. There was also some really good artwork on the covers of some of her later issues that hadn't been seen much at that time. And yes I do have Dazzler the Movie and will cherish it forever. If only they could make that movie a reality and put Gwen Stefani in the lead role. You know you'd go see it!

IRCB: Oh I'd go see it for sure. I'm a casual Dazzler fan myself and really just like giving people a hard time about her. This may or may not be a sin against all that is wonderful about Dazzler but check out this little website and think of all your dreams coming true.

IRCB: So now to some serious business before we rap this up. DC Comics, you have any love for them or any other comic book publishers?

A: Those jokers got nuttin on the lovely Ms. Blaire.

A: As far as DC goes, about all I can stand is Batman and even that in limited doses. I find the storylines of the greater DC Universe to be needlessly convoluted to where I seriously think you may need some herbs to get what the hell is going on. I even read All Star Superman which is supposed to be one of the best freshest representations of the Man of Steel. I thought it wasn't bad, but they did start to go into things such as the Phantom Zone and Underverse and it made me want to hurt myself. With that being said, DC does own the Vertigo imprint and thus they are forgiven. Y The Last Man is the GREATNESS.

IRCB: HA HA HA . . . Vertigo does have some greatness. I enjoy DMZ and Fables is quite awesome also.

IRCB: Any other Independent comics on your radar?

A: I've read some Image (mainly Sam and Twitch) and Frank Cho's Liberty Meadows. Those were both a lot of fun. I would like to get more involved with some indys because it looks like there's a lot of quality out there.

IRCB: There are plenty of good Indy comics out there that will take you in all kinds of directions.

IRCB: Ok to wrap this all up tell us what you are currently reading and where you are (Issue numbers) so that we can check back in with you later and see where you are and when do you expect to be caught up so that you can go to the comic book store and buy what came out that week?

A: Well I'm currently in April 1983 so that puts me at Amazing 239, Marvel Team Up 128, New Mutants 2, Spectacular Spiderman 77 and on tap for tonight is Uncanny X-Men 168. Can't wait to see Kitty's response to Professor X demoting her to the New Mutants. Methinks she won't go down fighting. As far as getting caught up, I'm not really concerned about that. I read one book a day, so assuming I live to be at least 73 I'll get there. The important thing to me is getting every piece of the story one layer at a time. It's a long process but I have been having a blast with it and don't regret the journey for a minute.

IRCB: Thanks for the interview Ashley and for keepin' it real one comic at a time. I'll be checking in with you from time to time to see where you are and you can tell us what we missed . . . or forgot.

A: Not a problem. And remember kids: If you take everything you've accomplished in your life and condense it to one day, it looks decent.

IRCB: And knowing is half the battle!

- Kevin P. Johnson
Copyright © 2010 Kevin P. Johnson

Unless otherwise noted all images are copyright © 2010 Marvel Comics and are used as Fair Use Review images only. Images will be removed upon request of Marvel Comics.

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