Our Meet the Team series spotlights members of the Smart Pop family through a Q&A designed to reveal the depths of our nerdy, pop culture–loving souls. First up is Editor-in-Chief, Robb Pearlman.
What do you do at Smart Pop?
I’m the Editor-in-Chief of Smart Pop, which means I’m responsible for putting together the list of books that we publish every year. I get to work with amazing authors, illustrators, agents, studios, production companies, and other creatives to talk about what they’re doing, what they’re excited about, and how we can work together to translate their ideas and art into books for readers. Then I get to work with pretty much everyone within Smart Pop to make sure each and every book is meeting our high expectations and standards and accomplishing the goals we set. It’s hard work, but it’s great fun, and I consider myself extraordinarily lucky that I’ve been able to channel my love of pop culture into a career that I love!
What are your fandoms?
I feel like, as a Gen-Xer, I was born and raised in the absolute best time for pop culture, so I’ve a wide range of fandoms. Star Trek, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Marvel, DC, and a ton of smaller independent movies, shows, and books—I find something great in each one.
What show/movie/book that was seen as a critical or popular disappointment will you always champion?
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a huge fan of the 2004 Hugh Jackman film, Van Helsing. I think people are way too hard on it! I think the story is fun, the special effects are good—great for the time—and the action is just over-the-top enough. It’s so much more than just another Dracula meets Frankenstein movie, and I’ll watch it whenever I find it on.
What is your current binge?
Like most people, I just finished season 1 of Bridgerton. I wrapped up the first two seasons of Harley Quinn last weekend, and am about halfway through Ted Lasso. I’m planning on binging all of Resident Alien once WandaVision is over, and then I’ll probably rewatch the first two seasons of The Mandalorian and the first season of Star Trek: Picard pretty soon, too. I watch a lot—but don’t judge me, I do it for “work!”
What was your favorite childhood toy?
I loved all of my Star Wars action figures. In fact, I still have them all safely housed in my Darth Vader carrying case. I was a careful kid, so they’re all still in really great condition. In fact, I post pictures of them sitting atop a menorah every holiday season in a series of social media posts called “The 8 Nights of HANukkah.”
You’ve just been exposed to an origin story-amount of radioactivity, chemicals, and/or animal bites. What’s your superpower?
Well, I can’t swim, have pretty sensitive skin, and don’t like spiders, so maybe I could walk through a light magical haze or pick up an ancient idol? Those seem much less traumatic. Because traveling can be so difficult I think I’d like to fly and, because I don’t like conflict, I’d like to have the ability to get people to stop fighting, calm down, and talk about things rather than fight. But regardless of my power set, I’d like a cape. Capes are cool.
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
As much as I’d like to say Paris in the springtime, I have to be honest and say San Diego during Comic-Con! Paris is a really really close second, though.
Where is your favorite comfort food?
Oh I don’t even have to think about this one: It’s mac-and-cheese! Maybe with a crispy crust and, just to keep it sort-of-healthy, some veggies thrown in. But that’s optional.
What is your most memorable celebrity experience?
I’ve three, actually, so indulge me. 1) After my first Star Trek book, Fun with Kirk and Spock came out, I received an email from none other than Leonard Nimoy, who congratulated me on the book and wished me success with it. I’m extraordinarily grateful that he bothered to take the time out of his busy day to acknowledge me, my book, and my love for Star Trek. What a mensch!
2) I once left a party five minutes before Mark Hamill arrived. I will never forgive myself for scheduling a meeting so far away from that party!
3) I was once invited to an industry lunch thing and found myself sitting one seat away from Stan Lee. I tried to play it cool, but knew if I didn’t take the chance to speak with him I’d regret it for the rest of my life like I do regarding what I like to call “The Hamill Tragedy,” so I worked up the nerve and spoke to him. Stan (he said I could call him Stan) couldn’t have been nicer and he even took a picture with me, which I have framed in my office! He looks great, but I look like I’m going to pass out.
What is your favorite way to share fandom with others?
It may sound corny, but any chance to share my fandom is my favorite. Whether it’s jammed in with a jillion other people in the aisles of a convention center to meeting folks at a book signing or talking with fellow fans at a comic book store, waiting in line for a movie, or noticing their (or my) t-shirt while walking down the street, being able to engage in the shared experience and language of pop culture is always a thrill for me. Unless we’re in the middle of watching a movie, in which case I’d appreciate it if you’d hold your comments for after the mid-credits scene!