Alex Robinson interview

(September 2005) Alex Robinson is the creator of the popular and critically-acclaimed Box Office Poison. This month, Top Shelf releases his new project, Tricked. Westfield's Roger Ash recently caught up with Robinson to find out more.

Westfield: What can you tell us about Tricked?

Alex Robinson: I've been working on it for about three-and-a-half years, and it came out to about 350 pages (shorter than my first book, Box Office Poison). It follows the stories of six different characters whose lives are unconnected at the start of the book. By the end, they've all been affected by one common, violent event.

Westfield: Who are the characters involved?

Robinson: There are six main characters: Ray Beam, a reclusive, washed up rock icon; Phoebe, a teenage girl searching for the father she's never met; Nick, a counterfeiter leading a double-life; Caprice, a waitress looking for love; Steve, an obsessed music fan; and Lily, a temp worker about to get the best job of her life.

Some readers may remember that Caprice was a minor supporting character in my first book. Other than her, and one other cameo, none of the characters from Box Office Poison appear.

Westfield: How did this story come about?

Robinson: I was in a diner one time, and I was looking around at the other patrons eating their meals going about their business. I thought about how every single person there has their own life, their own problems, joys, annoyances, etc. I thought it might be an interesting starting point for a sort of anthology, telling all these stories and the only common factor would be that they ended up at this diner. From there I played with it a bit and wound up with the structure of Tricked.

Westfield: You're releasing Tricked as one big graphic novel as opposed to serializing it like you did with Box Office Poison. Why did you decide to do it that way?

Robinson: It was sort of an experiment, encouraged by my publisher, Top Shelf. We're sort of hoping that releasing it all at one point will make more of an event of it, as opposed to being just another trade paperback collecting a series. It's not without risks, because there's always a chance it could tank, and that's three years down the drain. But we're hoping that people will be excited and that will create some kind of buzz.

Personally, I'm very excited and nervous because I've been working with these characters for so long, and now I'm releasing them into the wild, so to speak. I'm happy with the book, and I hope readers will be, too.

Westfield: There's also a new edition of Box Office Poison coming out. Anything you'd like to say about that?

Robinson: I'm astonished that it's been popular enough to go to a third printing. As you might guess from the title, I really had very low expectations for the book, so the fact that it's done as well as it has is crazy. It's especially gratifying that most of the publicity for the book seems to word of mouth - people telling their friends they liked it or buying it for someone as a gift.

The new edition is really just the same book with a new cover, one that's designed to compliment the cover of Tricked. I don't want people to think it's a special edition or that I've added new material, because I hate when publishers (and movie makers) do that. People were kind enough to pay $30 for the book once, I couldn't ask them to do it again.

Westfield: Any other projects you're working on you'd like to mention?

Robinson: Right now I'm working on some short pieces before I start work, hopefully, on a third book. I did some back up stories for John Kovalic's Dr. Blink, Super-Hero Shrink series, and I've been working on a mini-comic which I'll hopefully be debuting at the MoCCA Art Festival in June. It will mostly focus on Steve, one of the characters from Tricked. Sort of like a prequel.