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. Today, we’re joined by illustrator J.K. Woodward who created the art for The Con-a-Sutra.
What do you do at Smart Pop?
When needed, I’m hired under a standard work-for-hire arrangement, much the same way I work in the comics industry.
What are your fandoms?
All of them. My first that I remember was Spiderman comics in the 70’s. Then came Star Trek and Doctor Who. Then Star Wars came out and around that time I started reading X-Men comics as well. Shortly after I discovered Tolkien and Frank Herbert; gateway drugs to Heinlein, Asimov, Dick, Welles, Clarke, Anthony . . . Anyway, I joined a sci-fi book club and must have read them all. My only pop-culture blind spots are video games, post 90’s.
What show/movie/book that was seen as a critical or popular disappointment will you always champion?
Show: Vinyl (HBO). I loved that show and it was dropped after one season. I’m actually very familiar with that era in music history and it was brilliant how they weaved it all into the narrative. Funk, the dawn of disco, the emergence of punk; it was all part of the story and it was brilliant.
Movie: Star Trek V. I will always defend this movie and even refer to it as my favorite from time to time. Yes, it has its problem, but it also has Star Trek’s greatest moments with the three core characters.
Book: Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Leggs McNeil and Gillian McCain.
I’m not sure how the book was greeted by critics, but everyone I lent it to seemed to hate it. I regard it as the most accurate account of 1977 NYC. The whole book is a collection of quotes put in chronological story. It weaves a very visceral tale of the dawn of this scene, and no other book on the subject made it seem so real.
What is your current binge?
In Therapy (HBO). I remember loving the show when I saw the first season so long ago and it just came back with a fourth season. I’d forgotten all about it, but took this opportunity to binge from season one through four.
What was your favorite childhood toy?
I didn’t seem to have as many toys as the other kids in school, so they were all special to me. But I think the one that meant the most was an X-Wing fighter I got when I was 9 years old. This was two years after A New Hope (It was just “Star Wars” back in the day). It seemed to me all the other kids had everything: Millennium Falcons, Tie Fighters, all the action figures; and when I finally got something it made me feel a part of it. It wasn’t all the toys, but just having something meant I could play with the other kids.
My second favorite was the “spider buggy.” It was ridiculous. It was Spiderman’s dune buggy. As far as I know it was made up for toys, but it did eventually make an appearance in the Spiderverse comics.
You’ve just been exposed to an origin story-amount of radioactivity, chemicals, and/or animal bites. What’s your superpower?
Freezing time! I dream about it all the time when deadlines are stressing me out. I have a feeling if I did have that power, I would over-use it. I’d probably look 80 right now.
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
I pretty much work every moment of my life, so though I travel a lot for work, it’s always meetings, conventions, etc., not vacation. But I’d say if I could, I’d spend a couple weeks on the island of Crete, Greece. I spent some time there back in the early 2000’s and I loved it.
What is your favorite comfort food?
Probably pizza or Italian subs with everything. Actually, as I got older, I found I really had to cut out bread and pasta. It is not easy. So, if I’m going to cheat on my diet, it will be anything with bread.
What is your most memorable celebrity experience?
Most of the celebrities I’ve met have been Star Trek actors. Unfortunately, it’s always at a convention, cruise, or event, and it’s always in a green room, car, or something. When I’m there, I’m expected to act as a professional, not a fan. So, if I engage with them, it’s always in that capacity and we’re not really talking about their work. This is very hard for me, but I do it to stay working. I think if I had to pick, it would be the time Wilson Cruz, me, and the rest of the car had a Prince singalong on our way back to the hotel from the floor of the Star Trek: Destination con in Birmingham, England. It was fun and random and made my night.
What is your favorite way to share fandom with others?