The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Paul Pope

Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Today we’re joined by Paul Pope, the acclaimed author-illustrator of Batman: Year 100, Heavy Liquid, and 100%. Known for his frenetic, high-energy artwork and action-packed, genre-bending storytelling, Pope has won three Eisner Awards and his latest work The Rise of Aurora West, part of the Battling Boy series of graphic novels, is out on September 30th from First Second Books. Check out some of the comic here.

Read his answers below and get a rough sketch of how Paul directs his life. The term “lone wolf” seems apt here.

What is your favorite short story?

Hmmm I might say “A Piece Of Steak” by Jack London. A close second might be The Word for World Is Forest by Ursula Le Guin. Anything from Hemingway’s series of shorts called A Moveable Feast, which is a great field guide for young writers and artists looking to develop a creative method for themselves. He reveals a lot of his personal prestiege in these stories.

Describe your favorite place to read or write.

My studio, alone, with music playing and good black tea handy. I am a very monkish artist when I work, and need isolation to focus.

If you could choose your own personal theme song to play every time you enter a room, what would you pick?

That changes constantly, so dependent on the mood. Lately it might be “Science Killer” by The Black Angels.

Do you have a favorite unknown author?

Modern times, it would be Howard Waldropa. Great science fiction writer. I also wish Michel De Montaigne was more in the canon. He invented the essay from French “essai,” “I try, I attempt.” Although a writer from the 1600s, he is arguably a Modern, and his writing remains relevant today.

The Rise of Aurora West Battling Boy Paul PopeBattle to the death, which weapon do you choose: A) Phaser, B) Lightsaber, or C) Wand?

A knife and it would be in a ditch.

Do you have a favorite word?

No, but I just learned the meaning of the word “pareidolia”: that aspect of mind where you imagine you are seeing faces and shapes in things like clouds and stucco, or hear patterns in sound which aren’t really there like with those bible thumpers and the backwards masking in Led Zeppelin LPs. From the Greek “para” “to be alongside” and “eidolon” “image, form, shape.” My new favorite word.

Strangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?

First thing to come to mind is that the Greek philosopher and inventor Euclid died by falling into a well while on an absent-minded walk, absorbed in thought and not paying attention.

What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve ever worn?

When I was about five, my mom made me a mummy costume. I remember her throwing the white bedsheets down the stairs so we could tear the fabric into long strips. It took forever to pry myself out of that costume.

What’s your favorite sandwich?

I’m more of a sushi guy. I love the Japanese diet and try to stick to that.

What literary or film science fiction technology do you wish existed in our world right now?

Fusion energy. It could completely set the world on its side in a good way.

What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?

MC Escher and Walt Disney films.

What would your Patronus/familiar be?

A wolf. Loyal to a pack, but solitary.

Having finally established communication with a distant alien species, what’s the first thing that we should tell them about Earth/humans?

Probably that we would like to be your friends, but be warned we often mean well but usually fuck up out of greed and fear. The message of Love is the most important thing to share and establish. I’d imagine they’d say something similar in return.

If you were secretly going to write fanfic (or, even better, slashfic) about any character(s), who would it be?

Mickey Mouse. Before they changed copyright law which would’ve allowed Mickey to slip into the public domain, I was planning to do my own version.

Which language, real or fictional, would you like the ability to speak fluently? Who would you talk to?

I speak French and am working on my Spanish. So, more Spanish. It’d be amaze to read Lorca in his own language.

What is your ideal pet (real or fictional)?

I don’t like pets. I have a hard enough time domesticating myself.

What’s your favorite fairy tale, or fairy tale retelling?

Does The Iliad count? That or Beowulf (the Seamus Haney translation). I’m into the Classics.

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