Some readers may already be familiar with the genius that is Alan “Sizzler” Kistler host of Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast, or from this post, or from his previous publication of The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook: From Direwolf Ale to Auroch Stew!
But if you are not I hereby give you not one, but two good reasons to become a fan just in time for certain Summer movies.
We ran into Mr. Kistler on the street and were lucky enough to have the following questions prepared. And he had some good answers.
Q. These two new books are so fresh I haven't even looked through them yet, how best would you describe them?
A. These are meant in the spirit of fun for people who are really into some aspect of Spider-Man or Batman. You can read each book alone as a whole or treat each chapter as a game between you and a friend. If you've been reading the comics for years, we got some questions you'll have to think about. If you're casual about the comics but you happen to have read all the tie-in novels, we've got those covered too. If you don't really read the comics or novels, but you have played every video game and watched every cartoon episode or movie repeatedly, we've got sections focusing on those aspects as well. Each book has over 800 questions and covers these characters across media.
Q. What inspired you to write these, and what other superheroes were/are you considering?
A. The movies are coming out for each of these characters, so they were obvious choices. People are seeing a new beginning for Spider-Man, one that seems to be closer to the comic book version, and we're ending Christopher Nolan's interpretation of the Batman mythos. So it seems a good time to look back on the many interpretations, histories, and alternate histories of each character.
Q. Did you enlist any help to make sure you got the facts right?
A. I definitely believe in fact-checking things even if you're pretty sure you're right. I looked through the works of Robert Greenberger, who's published encyclopedias on Batman and Superman. Once or twice I e-mailed him directly. I was also in contact with a couple of writers at Marvel and DC to double check some things. And fortunately, I have a pretty decent library myself of superhero DVDs, audio plays, comics, novels, and creator interviews.
Q. Without giving too much away, what do feel are the nerdiest or surprising bits of trivia fans will find?
A. We ask questions about tie-in novels that are out of print, newspaper comic strips storylines, and plot elements from BBC radio plays based on Batman and Spider-Man. So those aren't your typical superhero trivia questions.
A. If you don't know much about the comics, cartoons and novels, these books are fun guides to information on all those areas. You can educate yourself, not just through the answer key, but through sidebars in each chapter that delve into different topics from "How do Spider-Man's powers work?" to the evolution of the Batmobile. And by seeing questions that reference particular stories and cartoons, hopefully you'll be interested enough to then see those stories for yourself.
Q. Both Batman and Spider-Man have so much history and numerous awesome storylines; where should new fans start if they want to get into the comics?
A. With Spider-Man, I think just picking up the first volume of his Marvel Masterworks collection works fine. That collects the first several Spidey stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. They're dated, but they hold up and they really show you how fun this character was and how he began. If you'd prefer a more modern introduction, I'd watch the cartoon "Spectacular Spider-Man" that came out a couple years ago, and which is now on DVD. For Batman, you can always start with "Batman Year One," "Batman: The Man Who Laughs," and "Batman: The Long Halloween," which take place in that order. Or watch the wonderful "Batman: The Animated Series" from the '90s, all of which is on DVD.
Q. Do you feel you need to be brought in to keep the facts straight when comic-based movies are being made, or are they doing a good job on their own?
A. There are many comic book movies that are doing just fine without people like me hanging around. But I would love to be brought in and help out. I'm a historian on these characters and I've studied what people respond to. I'd like to be brought in not to be as a nitpicker, but rather to lend my thoughts and knowledge on what has kept the character relevant and what story elements fans still love years later. I don't care if you say Bruce's parents were murdered outside of an opera house instead of a movie theater, as long as you remember that he's a person driven not only by his parents death but also by their example, someone who becomes a modern day samurai.
Q. Now that these books are in the world, what’s next for you?
A. I'm working on another book, finishing up a radio play script and a web-series script, and working on an online comic. I'm also still doing my weekly audio podcast Crazy Sexy Geeks and constantly working on pieces for web-sites such as Newsarama, GeekNation and ComicBookResources. I might be working on a film script with a friend later, but I can't say much about that.