Jim Higgins has been a writer and editor in the comics business for over 25 years. He’s worked as a screenwriter and been a comics consultant for films and TV as well as being an editor at DC Comics/Paradox Press. He is the editor and publisher of New Thing, an international comics anthology. His show on drawing comics, “Crafting Comics with Jim Higgins” was produced by Nerdist and is available for free on Amazon Prime. Currently, Jim is a Comics Program Manager at The Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles where he teaches classes on writing and drawing comics, how to write and pitch a graphic novel or series, and ink drawing.
Nate: Welcome to Comic Book Curious, Jim, introduce yourself, please.
Jim Higgins: Hi, my name is Jim Higgins and I'm a comic book editor, writer, teacher and a few other things.
Nate: Wonderful. Jim, who is your favorite superhero and why?
Jim Higgins: My favorite superhero is, has changed over the years and- it probably in the last 10 years, my favorite superhero has become Captain America.
Jim Higgins: And one of the things that's interesting is that I don't think a lot of people who were out in the world necessarily realize as much, well, you know what, I'm going to, I'm going to take that back. Before the Marvel movies, I don't think people understood that much, what Captain America means to comics fans.
Jim Higgins: And Cap is a character who all the other characters in the Marvel universe, all the other superheroes like admire him. They don't just like him. They admire him. They look up to him for his leadership, for his sense of morality. And for his just innate virtue that he is a good guy. And he inspires them to be better too.
Jim Higgins: And the Marvel movies have done a really good job. And Chris Evans has just knocked it out of the park to establish that for him. If you look in the movies, especially his relationship with the Black Widow that she's like, I don't know why even know why you like me. And he's like, everybody gets a second chance and that's Captain America.
Jim Higgins: And one other- after 9/11, Captain America suddenly just leaped up even further for me as a symbol of everybody in America, you know.
Nate: And what he meant to the country when he was originally strong was a huge.
Jim Higgins: Yeah,
Nate: That's a great answer, and I- that's the first one I've heard of that. That's great.
Nate: I think now he's my favorite. What is one quirky thing that you can do? Impressions, sounds, voices, beatboxing, vocal gymnastics, anything quirky party trick...
Jim Higgins: Oh, I can do a trumpet sound.
Nate: Let's hear it.
Jim Higgins: All right. Yeah, I just made it up. So you're my first fan.
Nate: That's great. That'll be our theme music. Okay, great. What is one superhero, a superhero power that you want- if you could have...?
Jim Higgins: To fly- to fly, immediately. I have had dreams of flying regularly for my, most of my life. I have I've I, in my dreams, I don't really fly as much as I can float, levitate, and then move.
Jim Higgins: And I often in the dream think, wait, am I dreaming or not? I don't know if I can do this in real life or if it's just a dream thing.
Nate: That's fantastic. That's great. Okay. In two or three sentences who would win in a fight DC or Marvel?
Jim Higgins: I will not answer that question.
Jim Higgins: It's not it's, you know, when you're in the comics business, it's like, especially when you're a professional, like I worked at DC! They're not- Marvel is not the enemy. Marvel, if they do well, we did well. Everybody wins. I'm going to say honestly, and this sounds corny, but comics is such a collegiate environment amongst professionals, I think that we don't think that way, so I don't want to encourage it.
Nate: Okay. I love it. That's a great answer. Okay. Do you have any real life superheroes in your life besides your parents?
Jim Higgins: Let's see.
Jim Higgins: My sixth, I went to Catholic- Catholic grammar school and Catholic high school. And my Catholic grammar school experience was really pretty good. And my high school experience was like was an all boys Catholic school. I don't recommend that to any human in the world to go to that situation. Anyway, but the thing my sixth grade teacher was a hippie nut.
Jim Higgins: So she didn't wear a habit or she didn't wear the headpiece. Her cross was a big, like hand-carved wooden cross. So she had one like that, I think. And you know, we had, she had carpeting put in the classroom and we didn't sit at desks. We all sat on the floor. And so we would often sit in a big circle and she was kind and thoughtful and funny and treated us like people.
Jim Higgins: So I remember- I was, I loved her. I thought she was the greatest person in the world and we were talking after class one day and she invited me to come with her to the airport to pick up a friend of hers and I just felt like WOW!
Jim Higgins: But she recognized she was like a witness for me. She witnessed my, who I was for what I was and liked that person, and, but more importantly respected and how to, and valued me for what, the things that I valued and who I was and what I could do and my intelligence, which, you know, I often didn't feel like- I was an intellectually curious kid and I often felt like I didn't get a lot of props for that.
Jim Higgins: And she was one of the people who gave me that she's a star and she's like, has a, you know, a list a mile long of people who she taught that I think feels similarly.
Nate: And it's such an important time-
Jim Higgins: Sister, Beth Hassell. She may not be a sister anymore, but-
Nate: Sister Beth Hassell. Thank you, Beth Hassell for creating this wonderful man, cause she, she had a big influence on you.
Jim Higgins: She did.
Nate: All right. What is your passion?
Jim Higgins: I have three passions and I'll be brief about them since I'm giving you so many. The first one is comics. Okay, you know, I gave up having a potentially financially successful career to be in comics and it took me a long time to realize that I was allowed to do what I wanted with my life.
Jim Higgins: And, you know, and through a combination of luck and persistence, I got a job at DC Comics, but I had worked at a comic store for years, and I had done some comics writing very little bit. And and it's just been my passion. And since I was a teenager, I saw the value of the comics medium as an art form, as a literary form.
Jim Higgins: And you know, to me, I never thought I would live to see the day of comics being taken so seriously with comics like Mouse and Fun Home, you know, and people who do journalistic comics. And it's just amazing. Other passion? I was a social worker for five years counseling families, where there was abuse and neglect and I have a real passion for psychology for, especially for developing your emotional life, dealing with trauma in a productive way, not glossing over it with a lot of platitudes and self-help books stuff. And- and I learned a tremendous amount about empathy while doing that. And that is- may, is one of the most important traits for us to have when dealing with people is empathy.
Jim Higgins: My other passion is film, so I have a bachelor's and a master's in cinema studies. So I kind of learned about the art film as an art form. As a, as opposed to, I didn't really, I took some filmmaking classes, but I, it was the study of film.
Jim Higgins: So I have a really broad range of stuff I like, so I like Marvel movies and I like, you know, art films from China from the nineties, and I like Japanese exploitation movies from the seventies, and I like Pam Greer, and I like Indie American films and on and on.
Nate: Cool. That's great, man. That's great. Okay, cool. Great answers. Here's a lightning round with one or two word answers. All right,
Jim Higgins: I'll try it.
Nate: You already answered the first one: fly or teleport?
Jim Higgins: Fly.
Nate: Introvert or extrovert?
Jim Higgins: Extrovert.
Nate: Would you rather choose Wolverine or Cyclops?
Jim Higgins: Cyclops.
Nate: Sweet or salty?
Jim Higgins: Salty.
Nate: Batman or Iron man?
Jim Higgins: Iron man.
Nate: YouTube or Netflix?
Nate: Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel?
Jim Higgins: Captain Marvel.
Nate: Super strength or super smart?
Jim Higgins: Super smart.
Nate: Favorite illustrators- like you because you're a specialist, so you can have like three or four. I only asked one, but you can choose four or five if you want.
Jim Higgins: Let's see comics artist Moebius, I'll give Moebius from- the French graphic novelist. Brilliant. One of the most influential comics artists in the world.
Jim Higgins: Jack Kirby, can I do this? I'm going to do it.
Nate: Hey, there it is.
Jim Higgins: Not only am I wearing my favorite superhero for you, but this is a Jack Kirby shirt.
Nate: Wow. Yeah, man. I've read some stuff about him and Stanley and what went down over that relationship? It's crazy.
Jim Higgins: Yeah. So what else? And then I'm a big fan of illustration outside of comics too. I'll give another favorite Edmund Dulac- D-U-L-A-C was an illustrator in the early 20th century who illustrated a lot of fairy tales and historical things for magazines and books and he's astonishing. He's absolutely full of color. He's a design- was a design genius. His drawing skills were suburb. He's a home run.
Nate: Cool. That's very cool. That's cool. That's a great answer. Okay. Favorite two comic book writers?
Jim Higgins: Alan Moore, and...
Nate: Okay. You can do two more if you're really...
Jim Higgins: No it's just flat fighting. The number three is hold on. Gilbert Hernandez. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. He's an alternative comics guy, does Love and Rockets. He's- I think he's arguably... well over the last 40 years, I think he's written more great comics than pretty much anybody.
Nate: Cool. Cool. Any last thoughts? The round is over speed round is over. In a paragraph- how comics touched you or changed your life?
Jim Higgins: Well, I'll tell- let me, I actually, I want to give a message to people about comics. So one of the things that I mentioned earlier was that I had never thought that these, the kind of comics that I also loved besides, superhero comics would become as much a part of the mainstream as they are. And, in the early 2000s people started talking about, well, you know, comics aren't just superheroes anymore.
Jim Higgins: Now we, I always knew that, but the average person was seeing graphic novels and bookstores and they were about, they were memoirs and slice of life and whatever. And now with the Marvel movies, people are starting to think, oh yeah, comics are superheros again.
Jim Higgins: And, I wish people would go out and look at the, you know, go Google best graphic novels and go see what you get that's not superhero stuff
Jim Higgins: And you'll find brilliant books that are for anybody. Not for, it doesn't matter if you read, have ever read a comic in your life, you know, go read Mouse, go read A Contract with God by Will Eisner.
Nate: Cool. That's great. Cool. Well, that's the end of our- our interview and don't hang up.
Nate: I'm just gonna hit stop.