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Strange Tales

Strange Tales Spotlight: Nick Bertozzi

The creator of The Salon reveals the hidden links between M.O.D.O.K. & Picasso and The Watcher & Charlie Brown

To celebrate the upcoming release of Marvel's groundbreaking series STRANGE TALES, in which some of the brightest stars of alternative and indie comics present their takes on the Marvel Universe, Marvel.com will be showcasing the contributors in an expansive series of exclusive interviews. And don't forget to pick up STRANGE TALES #1, on sale September 2!


By Sean T. Collins

A page from Nick Bertozzi's M.O.D.O.K. story in STRANGE TALES #1
Nick Bertozzi is a towering presence in the alternative comics scene. Literally—the guy's about as tall as your average NBA player. But this gentle giant has been making big waves in the indie scene ever since his Ignatz Award and Xeric Grant-winning historical-thriller minicomic Boswash hit the stands. Whether through his acclaimed one-man anthologiesThe Masochists and Rubber Necker, his wild sci-fi webcomic Persimmon Cup, his recent return to period pieces with Houdini: The Handcuff King and The Salon (the unwitting subject of a major case for the CBLDF) or his upcoming collaboration with "Colbert Report" writer Glenn Eichler, Stuffed!, Bertozzi's proven himself a master of both off-kilter humor and hard-hitting drama. What better way to combine the two than with a story about M.O.D.O.K. in Marvel's STRANGE TALES?

We talked to Bertozzi about his contribution to Marvel's indie anthology series, his upcoming projects and his own personal Marvel milestones.

Marvel.com: What character or characters are you taking on?

Nick Bertozzi: I have taken on M.O.D.O.K. and Agent 272 from AIM.

Marvel.com: This may be my favorite question I've ever asked in an interview: Why M.O.D.O.K.?

Nick Bertozzi: I like characters with acronyms for names. Plus I like characters with giant heads. It was a toss-up between M.O.D.O.K. and the Watcher. Am I the only one that thinks the Watcher looks like a grown-up Charlie Brown?

Marvel.com: That's true! Just give Chuck a toga and a high collar. Does that make Galactus Lucy?

Nick Bertozzi: Galactus would be Pigpen, now overcompensating for the constant taunting he received as a child.

A page from Nick Bertozzi's M.O.D.O.K. story in STRANGE TALES #1
Marvel.com: What's the scoop on your story?

Nick Bertozzi: Haven't you always wanted to see M.O.D.O.K. in his undies? Or see him kissing his gal pal? Sassy dialogue, brassy drawing and a nasty end. A mini-epic spanning four decades in four pages.

Marvel.com: What do you bring to the table as a writer and artist that's different from the norm?

Nick Bertozzi: I'm useless at writing and drawing super heroes. I'm compelled in my writing to show characters at their lowest point. Worse, I over-analyze their powers and their motivations. There's nothing I can do to make Marvel fans say "damn!"—the most I'll get from them is "ick." But I like that.

Marvel.com: What's the first Marvel comic you remember reading?

Nick Bertozzi: The first Marvel comic I read was an issue of Spider-Man from '76 or '77. He battled a gold and red skateboarder. I think Frank Robbins drew it.

Marvel.com: Rocket Racer! Frequently listed on "dopiest villains of all time" countdowns. Were you impressed?

Nick Bertozzi: I would be proud to be on that list were I the Rocket Racer.

Marvel.com: What about more recent Marvel title?

Nick Bertozzi: Anything by John Romita Jr. JRJR and Klaus Janson draw great punches and explosions, and are incredibly adept at depicting mass, movement and the consequences of action.

Marvel.com: What's your all-time fave Marvel book?

Nick Bertozzi: My favorite Marvel comic is Jack Kirby's adaptation of "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the series he based on it. The protagonist is a flying baby. It is always inspiring. I think that just in terms of kinetic action, Kirby and JRJR have a lot in common.

Marvel.com: Any other Marvel heroes or villains you'd like to tackle someday?

Woodgod in MARVEL PREMIERE #31
Nick Bertozzi: Woodgod. I just liksue saying the name to myself, "Woodgod. WOODgod. WoodGOD." And Galactus. Wouldn't you like to see where he sleeps? Finally, the Vanisher. He vanishes!

Marvel.com: Plug time! For those fans out there who don't know your stuff, what do you recommend if they're hungry for more of your work?

Nick Bertozzi: If you're mature enough to handle it, you should read my book about Picasso and Braque and a magical blue absinthe, The Salon. And if you can't handle Picasso in the raw, check out Houdini: The Handcuff King, a graphic novel I did with Jason Lutes.

Marvel.com: Who has the bigger head, M.O.D.O.K. or Picasso?

Nick Bertozzi: Neither of them knew how to treat a lady.

Marvel.com: What else are you working on these days?

Nick Bertozzi: You can read my sci-fi/fantasy comic Persimmon Cup for free every week at ACT-I-VATE.  There's a non-web P. Cup story that'll be appearing in the ACT-I-VATE Primer due out from IDW this fall. Also, this September First Second will be releasing Stuffed!, written by Glenn Eichler from "The Colbert Report" and drawn by me. I'm also working on a Lewis and Clark graphic novel that'll be coming out in 2011, this also from First Second.


Read Nick's M.O.D.O.K. story in STRANGE TALES #1, on sale September 2! And for more info on Nick's work, check out  nickbertozzi.com.

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