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Mike Rasbury Interview

By • Aug 15th, 2009 • Category: Interviews

Interview With a Vampire! Mike Rasbury – AKA: RAZ

I met Mike Rasbury when I was still getting my feet wet as EIC of JLU: 2001. He came to the Site with a Prop – A REAL Prop mind – to write Young Justice, and did so for a few issues with great success. Shit happened however, and one by one dominoes tumbled. Mike has since moved on to bigger things, but I’m glad Raz and I remain friends. He’s helped me Web Wise a time or three, and hopefully, in some way, I’ve reciprocated to some extent. Anyway, read on, and find out why Mike is what he is as he tells all, or most of it anyway…

To start, tell us a bit about yourself; family, job, things like that. Whatever you would like to comfortably share.

Name’s Mike Rasbury and I’m a would-be dictator. Would-be because my satellite death-ray got lost in the mail. In the meantime I play graphic and web designer, tutor and teacher in the same field. I live with two dogs and my dad. I’m miserable if I’m not cold or wet. Weather, people.

What Sites are you currently writing for? I know you had a BIG hand in Munn’s Strange Tales. DO give us the lowdown on that.

As far as Fanfic is concerned the only site I’m actively working for is Strange Tales.and that’s being generous. As for that site, I wouldn’t say I had a big hand in anything there. Before I got intimately involved there, the entire framework was already laid by one of the most talented staffs around. It was some time after the Digitally Mystic crash and the crash of Munn’s own server when Fanfic sites were re-shuffling that I even got “involved”. It pained me to see Strange Tales absent as other sites found life again (my admiration for ST was immense), so I took it upon myself to do a site redesign that I pitched to Munn as a way to relight the fires if you will. I had figured that was the end of my involvement. Because I always admired ST so much I never thought myself talented enough to write there, however, through the combined effort of Megan Curtis and Chris Munn I came on as scribe of Doctor Strange. I suppose that helped some Strange Tales some because word of the book spread pretty quick for our community (no doubt because of Munn’s own love for the book). I guess if you throw sensory abuse at a reader, they respond well. Masochists. Now I’ve fallen into another role, I like to call it “The Bouncer at ST’s Door,” meaning that I actively scout writers-especially our younger ones (in terms of time in community)-and pass the names along to Munn. I also like to “workshop” with writers to help develop ideas to bring to ST. Also, if you’ve had a proposal accepted or rejected chances are I’ve at least said something about it to Munn. So, yeah, I’ve certainly contributed but I’m not so certain how much that led to ST being rejuvenated and healthy. The phrase “most exciting site in Fanfic right now” has been tossed around recently and I think all of that is owed first of all to Munn and how the site is approached. ST writers are allowed a certain freedom that just can’t be matched. That level of freedom can allow writers to get awfully personal, or experimental and that’s where the fun comes in. Plus, while our writers stable is small, it makes up for it in talent. My contribution only comes in because I didn’t want the site to disappear.

What Titles are you working on?

Doctor Strange, Defenders (with Chris Munn) and Howling Commandos, all at Strange Tales. And that’s where I’m at right now. I’m not sure I’m capable doing anything more right now. My interests have shifted some toward more original fiction. I’m currently on the third chapter of a caper/adventure entitled Johann Margrave: One Night at the Opera, which will be released soon.

Do you write for any Sites outside of Fanfic, or our group of Fanfic Sites, i.e. other types of Fanfic, Writing Clubs, etc.?

Man, did you see that killer segue? Woo! Most of my meager time writing is spent on a site I’m helping develop with the most capable hands I’ve ever worked along side. It’s probably my worst kept secret, but it’s going to be an original fiction site akin to Frontier Publishing, if you will. It will include beloved projects from around the ‘net including book(s) from Meriades Rai’s soon to expire website as well as new original creations from a most talented roster, names of which we’re all familiar. So, be on the look out for that. I think it’s an extremely exciting time to be working on “Tree Root” (some of us are skeptical about referring to the site by its real name). We hope to open (re-open) another avenue to writers that has kinda gone away as of late. It’ll be coming to a Serial Prizes server near you soon. Which reminds me to thank Jason Kenney whom without we’d be stillborn.

Would you like to write professionally, or is this just for fun- a hobby? I know for awhile your main drive was in the technical end of webwork. Are you still doing that?

Hobby mostly. It’s fun for me and that’s why I do it, but also, I’m a wildly imaginative person in that I can’t turn it off. Writing keeps me sane. Writing professionally hasn’t been on my radar since I was a child. I don’t think of myself as skilled enough, or nearly as skilled as I can be to seek publication for my prose work. However, I do fall into a strange hole of being published, but for something entirely different. That being some really, really bad poetry that found it’s way into some small publications that paid chump change.

How did you get into writing Fanfic? Through comic books, or some other media?

I think like ant child writer, we wrote about (or crafted stories with toys) about all the things we enjoyed. What got me to this point more specifically, however, was the tried and true path of online role play featuring X-Men characters (that’s right X-Men. I was Exodus, ‘natch). After that well dried up three of us RP’ers (then known only as “Xan”, “Meta” and “Smash”-plays on our email addresses) got together to write Fanfic in a shared universe. Somehow we built a staff around us and the now long-deceased NeoMarvel was born. After a few years (which I’d like to note I produced something like forty issues in) and several Editor-in-Chief changes (myself included) NeoMarvel ran its course. Thanks to some good word and even more well-deserved criticism from Derrick Ferguson, I ventured out to Marvel Dark Design where I pitched Deadpool. That was my coming out party as a writer to the “Heroes” crowd.

How did you find our Fanfic community? What led you here?

Above, I explained how I got into our community, but that’s not how I found it. While still RP’ing, Meta and I had discussed doing Fanfic. We searched the web and both found Marvel-X (Moreel’s days). After consuming it all, we were rather enamored. We even templated NeoMarvel after it (with an Ultimate spin).

We assume that you enjoy the writing and Fanfic, but are there things you would like to see done differently or changed in Fanfic?

Oh, man.do we have all day? In no way is any community perfect (especially with this level of assumed anonymity) but I think we could make some key changes. For the sake of brevity, I’ll only high light a few: In-fighting: In no way do I claim immunity from this, in fact I’ve been one of the worst candidates but this community can be a bit insular, a bit vain and a bit mean (see, ME), can hold a grudge and dwell too much on the routine shit-talking that happens. We need to just shut up and write. Inversely, I think the community (speaking in blankets) could benefit from some thicker skin. I don’t know if I want to call it “professionalism” but writers need to make sure to keep some indifference about their work. If you’ve chosen to publish your work, or share your ideas, you need to expect (and be willing to accept) a negative opinion of them. Don’t take it personal. Tutoring/Mentoring/Writer’s Workshop: I know that I wouldn’t be the fraction of the writer, or will become the writer I can be without the likes of Derrick Ferguson, Ian Astheimer, Matt Pierce and Chris Munn pushing me along the way. They’ve always been willing to inspire me, or push me through a block and that’s something I take A LOT of time out of my day to do for other writers. However, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot else. There’s no dedicated mailing list as a writers workshop where writers can work on prompts, or get critiques, or bounce ideas. There’s HEROES and WORDS, but those get swallowed up by releases. This is a trend we are working hard to rectify at “Tree Root.” Because an open dialog between creative folks is the best and quickest way to grow and expand your own talents. Experimentation: I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a real big comic book fan. I know, I know, the term is “fanfiction” and is built on a love of characters and all that, but when I read just ANOTHER traditional fanboy story where Iron Man throws down with Mandarin or Reed Richards saves the world from a evil pocket dimension, or Batman whines about his parents, I am bored out of my freaking skull. Sure, there are writers out there who really take creative license, but not a whole crop of them, which I find unfortunate because I don’t really see the point in writing these characters if you won’t take them somewhere fresh. Then again, I’m not really the target audience for fanfiction and I don’t expect anyone to hear my cries.

What other things do you do in your spare time? Any special hobbies or interests you care to share?

Writing is my spare time, scary as that thought is. Another benefit, I suppose, is that my profession is my hobby, and so I’m constantly designing something. Other spare moments are spent playing video games (I’m a junkie) and illustrating.

Is there any certain Title that you would like to write down the line, or any specific Site that you might want to write for?

Cloak and Dagger and Magik are at the top of the list. I’ve always wanted to write Aquaman too, especially with the Sub Diego plotline (which, interestingly, was pitched to me and I turned it down). Along those lines Namor would be a blast to go back to. Part of me wants to try and get Moon Knight right this time, too. I think Dino’s got something with DCO’s Vertigo imprint, too. As for sites, I’d like to write at the ones I’ve constantly crapped out on, most notably Altered Visions. Honestly, though, if I were to come back to Fanfic in more than a one-off here and there and my Strange Tales commitments it would have to be a site that brought something “unique” to the foray. A Steampunk M, where our Marvel heroes are re-imagined for a Steampunk Victorian England, an “Enigmarvel” where only second string characters could be the focal points or a “Ultimate Alliance” where squads of four written by several scribes scatter across the Marvel globe to battle a common foe and would be conqueror. For you DC cats, the same could be applied for each, I’m just more familiar with Marvel.

Outside of Fanfic, what are your reading habits? Who’s your favorite author or series, or book?

I read a whole hell of a lot.I mean, as a writer I’d be a fool to think reading wasn’t important (even more so than actually writing). To that, I feel it necessary to read all styles; classic lit, history, nonfic, mystery, children’s books, anything. When I don’t travel by foot, I’m on a bus and that gives me about 35 minutes to read both ways, plus, I’m always 30 minutes early to anything, so I have even more time to read. Unless it’s a book I’m not thrilled with (but will finish anyway) I can plow through a book in a week. I also will read books several times over if I enjoyed them and will certainly re-read books/magazines if they relate to something I’m writing. As for my favorite book, it’s not a huge surprise.Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass. I read those once a year.

How about in comics- do you have a favorite Title, author or artist?

Moon Knight, despite its bumps (Dixon, Kavanaugh). I really like Fables, too and Usagi Yojimbo. I’m a constant reader of Aquaman for whatever reason also. I will admit that the superhero fanfare has lost its luster on me and so I tend to steer clear of Marvel/DC and opt for the smaller, independent houses. Some of my favorite writers are JM DeMatteis, Doug Moench and Osama Tezuka. The artists include Tommy Lee Edwards, Niko Henrichon, Josh Middleton and, heh, Osama Tezuka.

What’s your favorite comic book story, or storyline? How about in Fanfic?

Comics: A fill in arc of Marc Spector by JM DeMatteis entitled “Scarlet Redemption.” It was wildly entertaining, eerie, personal and focused on two favorite characters. One of the bright spots in that series. Fanfic: The one that sticks out right now is Greg Hernandez’s Shade mini at Omniverse; bizarre, creative, and a writer expressing some true emotion. It was simply genius.and criminally overlooked.

What’s your favorite movie?

I’m a big movie buff, I’ll watch anything. I even watch movies every night. The films I tend to clump together as my favorites display my wide array of tastes. Those favorites are: Ichi the Killer, Edward Scissorhands and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Gotta admit though, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is now right up there. How can you go wrong with Kilmer and Downey, Jr. (two of my favorites). That’s a whole lot of smarmy going round.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I have the fortunate gift of being insanely imaginative. I’m not saying that I’ve alone in that, but my mind seriously works over drive and it helps me to be inspired everywhere. Plus, I see the world differently than everybody. One day as I sat waiting for the bus, I was captivated by a crow picking through cracks in the sideways for whatever nasty meal it could find. I instantly thought what if there was a guy, hunchback and armless? He could only pick up things with is teeth. Well, that would quite the intriguing visual. A perverse, and shit mottled grin popped into my minds eye as the character took life before me, dutifully snacking on trash can scraps, and finding solace with his birdly-bretheren as the human world dejected him. As highlighted previously, movies, books and songs are all inspirational to me as well. The most vivid example of that was while listening to Blondie I thought, what if a character could assimilate into their body as skin, arms, weapons, whatever anything that they ate? Again, it’s a rather entertaining visual, and as a victim of “style over substance” that’s what keeps me interested. And for those of you wondering if I’d really name the character “Man From Mars” the answer is yes. Eating cars would be a must. One thing that is not just being gifted with an imagination, is that I take time out from life to observe anything and everything so that I can call on it later. I’ll stop to take notes on how paint peels under years of tough wind, for instance or I’ll sit in a park in the pouring rain and remark out it bounces off roves, or beads down a certain fabric, or collects in a puddle. Maybe I’ll go to a park or coffee shop and just watch people talk, or drink, whatever. However, I don’t want to just see phenomena, I want to taste it, smell it, touch it. It isn’t until I do that I feel I can truly write the physical manner in the lucid style that I hope to achieve.

Do you have a Blog or LJ? Any other Internet activity you would like to share? Now’s the time to drop us some Links…

I have two sparsely updated Livejournals. http://morlocks.livejournal.com (“personal stuff”) http://razurrection.livejournal.com (a catalog of writing and writing related thoughts) Also, for you poor souls who aren’t aware of http://projectrooftop.com really should be. Fashion design for superheroes.

Do you like to listen to music as you write? If so, what and which, or some other background noise, like the television or DVD’s? Or maybe you prefer silence when writing?

I’m probably one of the few writers that thrives on organized chaos when he writes. Not only do I tolerate TVs, DVDs and music when I write, I prefer it. For me, I’m more productive when I can set a “mood” for whatever I’m writing. That means selecting DVDs to play that are in some way related to my topic (and for me, this can be in the most inconceivable relation ever) AND I’ll also have music on that works as a soundtrack for what I’m writing. Due to the fact that I’m a frustrated director, and that’s how I approach writing (even going so far as to write from “camera angles”) all these additions help frame in and flesh out the scenes to completion. The one thing I CANNOT have on while I write is video games.man does that kill me.

What book are you reading now?

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor; it’s a retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland but it really lacks imagination which, you know, is kind of important given the subject. The next two books in my queue I’ve read before but not it a good while.The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler and Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Manuel Puig.

What’s your favorite reading genre?

Without question children’s literature; fables, fairy tales and nursery rhymes. That’s probably not the most normal thing for a 21 year-old to admit but I’m mesmerized by the escapism and sublime reverie. The genre shapes me completely as a writer. While I don’t write the genre, I try to plug in that sense of bizarreness and absurdity into otherwise traditional plots. I’m also captivated by a sense of “romantic melancholy” that permeates those stories. For that reason my own character tend to be tragically flawed or “maimed.”

How long have you been writing stories- Fanfic or otherwise?

Here’s my only short answer: Forever.

What Title/ Site was your first in Fanfic?

Moon Knight, NeoMarvel. I’ve never been able to write my favorite comic book character correctly and this was a vivid illustration of that. I tried to take all the things I didn’t like about the character, own them and fix them. It didn’t work. Plus, I tied the story too much to real events in history-as a crutch-and it came out dry as the Sahara.

Any upcoming events in your life you’d like to share: births, marriage, graduating college, etc.?

I’ve given up on the thought of graduating. I’ll be a student forever, I like learning far too much. My personal life (beyond being extremely dull) is exactly that, personal. So, there’s not much else to add (not that any of the above apply anyway). To reiterate, though, watch Serial Prizes for a new original fiction site in the near future.

Where about do you live? Be as specific as you like or as vague: town, state, time zone, continent, etc.

I hail from Seattle, Washington in the great Pacific Northwest of the United States. It does rain a healthy amount-although not everyday (even if it did today)-and I LOVE that. Rain is, strangely, my wonder drug. It lifts me up, helps express myself. In fact, the city and I are soul mates, kindred spirits. Strange, huh?

What’s your favorite Title to read currently in Fanfic?

No single title is really my favorite. I’d say on the whole I like the bulk of Strange Tales equally. Tom Moses is showing folks how Moon Knight, can and should be done. Curt Fernlund’s Dracula Lives! Is simply spellbinding. Chris Munn continues to show that he’s one of the best writers we have, and among the best “freakout” writers I’ve come across in his multitude of books. The rest of the crew, Mike Franzoni, Megan Curtis are there and consistently solid. Dino Pollard has come on, and will certainly hit his stride with Blade. Oh, and don’t forget we just acquired one of my favorite books.Brother Voodoo by Meriades Rai which just drips with cool. All the contributors for Black Mass were top drawer and just knocked it out of the park (big thanks to them!). However, I think perhaps one of the most prolific writers there, and among my favorites is Josh Reynolds. He’s gonna take Morbius on, and trust me kids, it’s gonna be good. Plus, his Man-Thing (insert joke here) is pure gold and criminally ignored by and large. It has been in both its iterations, a strong and creepy book with one of the strongest voices in Fanfiction, and possibly fiction. Period. Go love you some Man-Thing, okay?

You’ve been a driving force in our little community, whether you care to admit it or not – Outspoken and controversial. Looking back, is there anything you might have done differently?

Driving force? I don’t really think so. I don’t know how anybody with my lack of production can drive much of anything (except for maybe Miss Daisy). Controversial I’ll take though, it’s a sexy term. The short of it is, no, I wouldn’t take anything back. Is there anything in my history to really to take back? Heaven forbid I be controversial for simply speaking my mind and giving EVERYONE the simple truth (as I see it) when asked for anything. I only wish more people were brutally honest, I think we all could improve if that were the case. The only real times I’ve gotten into some trouble, especially as of late is when I’ve gone “above and beyond” and extended myself as a mentor for other writers. And there’s nothing in that to be ashamed of. Just when you get me (a strongly opinionated character) with fiercely prideful people, something is going to break. I’m aware of that and something I’ve been dealing with all my life. It happens and it’s no skin off my back, or however the damn saying goes. I try just to be faithful to myself and honest (to a fault) with everyone else. Damn the consequences.

Now’s the time for closure. Give us a final bit of wisdom. Pimp your projects and say ‘Hi’ to whomever. Don’t forget the links…

“if you drink much from a bottle marked `poison,’ it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.” — Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures from Wonderland. The greatest quote ever. In closing, I’d like to thank Curt for this exercise in vanity and thank anyone who was unfortunate enough to slog through it at all, greatly appreciated. I’d thank other individuals, but they know who they are. Also, again, for the 40 millionth time.watch http://grapefruit.serialprizes.com

Thanks Raz. A truly unique step through the corridors. Next time: One more for 2006. A very special interview with someone with a truly GREAT name! Be here!

is a 32 year old happily married man who loves comics and the characters associated with them so much he writers Fan Fiction based on them. Currently He is the Editor in Chief of Altered Visions, Marvel Reborn, and Ultimate DC.
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