Concluding our two-part interview-and in case you missed part one, be sure to check it out here-with Tom Scharpling, executive producer of "Monk" and host of "The Best Show" on WFMU, the longtime comic book fan discusses the medium's unique value as an art form, the possible link between comic books and comedy, and why he thinks of Best Show caller Fredericks as his Deadpool.
Marvel.com: How many comics do you buy? How often do you get to the shop?
Tom Scharpling: I go [on] runs with stuff, because a lot of times work or whatever things I have to deal with just take precedence. And I also try to, once in awhile, read books without pictures. I'll just go into a place and just buy everything I see, and then I won't go back for a month. And then sometimes I fall out for a few months, and then I just go on runs where I go a couple of times a week and just try and get onboard with everything that I want. So, that's kind of been my pattern.
Marvel.com: You've written for radio, TV, magazines; what do you think of the comic book form, and do you think it offers anything as a medium that those other forms don't?
Tom Scharpling: Oh yeah. Absolutely. Outside of the difficulty level of drawing and pulling off the artwork, it's like you can do a movie without being beholden to budget restrictions. And it's the one medium where the entire thing is in your hands, in a way. You're getting words and images but there [are] still blanks to be filled in, even though you're getting everything on that page. You're getting text and a visual, but you bring the glue to that. As the reader, you kind of unite the words and pictures. You bring them together. However you read it is how it works for you. Comics are presented with what it looks like, but there's still work to be done. I think there's nothing like it, and I think that's the one thing that will always keep it around. It's an experience that no other form of entertainment can replicate.
Marvel.com: Would you ever be interested in writing a comic? Is it something you have an ambition to do?
Marvel.com: Well, hopefully someone is paying attention to this.
Tom Scharpling: [Laughs] Well, I hope somebody is paying attention. It's something that I haven't had the time to pursue fair and square, and if you're going to do something like that, you have to go in head-first. It drives me nuts when people are not taking it seriously. You have to be ready to give whatever you're working on like that everything you've got. So it would be something that I wouldn't even think about until I was done with "Monk"-which is later this year.
Marvel.com: Seth Meyers said, "I would say the best thing about getting into comedy is that you get the chance to meet somebody else who's into comic books. That's the upside." One thing I noticed is that a lot of friends of "The Best Show," like Patton Oswalt and John Hodgman, and a lot of comedians in general, seem to be really into comic books. Why do you think that is, and do you think there's some kind of similar sensibility between comic books and comedy?
Tom Scharpling: Huh. Maybe that's what attracted me more to Marvel than DC. There was always a sense of personality [similar to comedy] that I related to with the Marvel stuff. I just never related to the perfect heroes of DC. If you're reading a thing with the Defenders and they're arguing, it's like, "That's funny!" Or even Spider-Man, with all his dumb comments, it's like an extension of Bugs Bunny. You know, you start off with Bugs Bunny, and then you go to Spider-Man, and then you kind of remember both of them. And they both influence [you]. At least, that's how it worked for me.
It's funny, because there are so many people [in comedy] who, even to a very minor degree, read comic books. They're at least aware of what's going on, amongst the comedy people that I know, even if they're not bananas for the stuff the way some guys are.
Marvel.com: You were speaking about Matt Fraction earlier. It seems like he's become a regular caller on the show.
Tom Scharpling: Yeah, he listens to the show, and has all the [Scharpling and Wurster] CDs and all that. I had no idea. And I was just following him on Twitter, because I was a fan of his, and then one day, he made some comment. He said something to me on Twitter, and I'm like, [in a surprised voice] "What?" And then I wrote, "You know, I'm a fan of yours." And he made some direct reference; he knew what the show was about. I was like, "Oh my god, you know the radio show?" And then we just started talking, and I met up with him at the [New York Comic-Con]. Yeah, he calls the show, it's great. He's a great guy and I think guys like that, those are the names that you would trust. It would be that guy, and Dan Slott, and Brian Michael Bendis. You just know you're getting somebody who's doing the work when you buy stuff done by those guys.
UNCANNY X-MEN #507
Marvel.com: There was a "Best Show" reference in UNCANNY X-MEN #507. How does it feel to sort of exist in the Marvel Universe?
Tom Scharpling: Unbelievable. I got giddy. That was so great, seeing that. That was just unbelievable. That was awesome. I will be eternally indebted to Matt for that.
Marvel.com: I have one final question for you. In the new "Dark Reign" storyline, Norman Osborn has recruited a bunch of super villains and psychos to masquerade as the Avengers and they're called the Dark Avengers. Now, this is a little inside. But if AP Mike is the Norman Osborn of the Best Show Universe, and he could only choose from "Best Show" callers to form the Dark Avengers, who would he choose?
Tom Scharpling: Man, that's a scary proposition! I guess he would start with Spike. Who are the other villains of the show like that? There was a guy who used to call a long time ago called the Leader, who was always a creep, and would give me a hard time. I would've said Fredericks from New Port Richey, but now he's kind of in the middle. He's just like a free agent, he'd go good guy/bad guy.
Marvel.com: He's like Deadpool. He's the Deadpool of the Best Show Universe.
Tom Scharpling: [Laughs] Yes, exactly! He might just go to the highest bidder! Who else do we have? Julie from Cincinnati. Petey. I could picture Mike luring Petey to the dark side and putting him in his camp as a genius boy wonder.
Marvel.com: Is there anything else you'd like to say about Marvel or comics in general?
Tom Scharpling: You know, someday before I die, I would want to get my name on a comic book. And you even asking me that makes me feel weepy.
Marvel.com: Oh, well, to quote you, "You're sweet for saying that."
Tom Scharpling: [Laughs] Well, you're sweet for remembering that I say that.
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