When I’m asked how/why I got into film reviewing I cite three film critics whose work inspired me. The first is Steve Otto, who was the film critic of the Tampa Times when I was in high school. He took the time to talk to me every time I stopped by the paper and would often lend me photos to reproduce with my school paper reviews. Second was Stephen Hunter, who was the film critic of the Baltimore Sun when we first met. I actually paid $50.00 in a PBS auction for a chance to go see the film “Beastmaster” with Stephen and then discuss it with him during lunch. When I got into the promotions/marketing field I got to work with Stephen often and we became friends. He later went on to write for the Washington Post and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for Distinguished Criticism. The third is Robert (Bob) Butler, former film critic for the Kansas City Star. When I arrived (the first time) in Kansas City in 1979 the first thing I read in the local paper was Bob’s review for the film “10.” The more I read his work the more I began appreciating how much fun and passion one person could share with the written word. When I moved to Baltimore I would pick up the Star at the local out of town newspaper stand each week and did that until I moved back to KC in 1996. I finally got to meet Bob when I was admitted into the Kansas City Film Critics Circle. To now be considered a colleague of someone I admire was a pretty great feeling.
I give you this background information as a way of introducing Blair Butler. You probably know her from her stand up comedy routines, appearances on the G4 television network or creator of the popular comic book “Heart.” That’s how I knew her until her mother, Ellen, remarked to a fellow critic that “Blair was coming home this week.” After listening for a few more moments It suddenly dawned on me that Blair was Bob and Ellen’s daughter! Small world.
Mike Smith: How did a girl from Kansas develop a love for comic books?
Blair Butler: My Dad took me to Clint’s Comics in Westport and let me buy comics out of the 25 cent bin when I was little. After reading some really terrible issues of Werewolf by Night and She-Hulk, I stumbled onto Batman and the New Mutants – and I was hooked for life. After a brief lapse in the mid 90s (I got burnt-out on gimmicky covers, variants, and style-over-substance) I came back to comics thanks to great titles like Planetary, The Authority, and Geoff Johns’ run on JSA. And I’ve been there ever since.
MS: How did you get involved with G4?
BB: I was hired as the head writer for “X-Play,” a videogame show on the TechTV network. When G4 bought TechTV, the two networks merged – and I wound up becoming the comic book correspondent for “Attack of the Show” – which was an amazing opportunity that I’m incredibly grateful for. If I knew at age 12 that I’d be covering comics for part of my day job, I think my 12-year-old self would hyperventilate with excitement.
MS: You once reviewed comic books in your “Fresh Ink” segment of “Attack of the Show,” by rating them either BUY, BROWSE or BURN. Have you ever gotten a nasty message from someone whose work you trashed?
BB: Well, the good news is that I haven’t used the BUY, BROWSE, or BURN system for a few years on the show – primarily because I was pretty adamantly opposed to the suggestion of “burning” any comics. Now, I usually only review comics that I really love on the Live edition of “Attack of the Show,” or on my weekly review segment at www.G4tv.com/FreshInk — so thankfully, I haven’t met any furious writers or artists. Yet.
MS: What do you have coming up in the future?
BB: Well, I’ll be busy writing full-time for “Attack of the Show,” as well as working as a correspondent for two of the show’s signature segments: “Fresh Ink” – where I cover the wide world of comic books, and “M.M.A. Chokehold,” where professional fighters come in and do analysis for several of the biggest UFC events. We’ve have Chuck Liddell, Urijah Faber, Forrest Griffin, Nate “Rock” Quarry, Roy “Big Country” Nelson, Mayhem Miller, and a ton of other great fighters on the show, so — as a fan — that’s been amazing. And now that I’ve written my first comic book HEART — about a young, up-and-coming cage fighter named Oren “Rooster” Redmond – I’m hoping to make even more comics. And if I’m lucky, I’ll get to make them with my amazing HEART collaborators, artist Kevin Mellon and letterer “Crank.”