Comics Experience faculty member Paul Allor has enjoyed an exciting career in comics so far, with credits including household names like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, and Clue and independent titles like Tet, Past the Last Mountain, and Monstro Mechanica. And more, of course! His is a thoughtful and experienced voice in the Workshop and in classes alike; see for yourself in Paul’s next Introduction to Comics course with Andy Schmidt starts up on February 6.
But Paul’s life isn’t wall-to-wall comics, however much fun that may be! We asked him a few questions about his life and times outside the printed page.
Comics Experience: What movies/books (including comics)/music inspire you to create? What media would you say has the biggest impact on your life, and not just regarding comics?
Paul Allor: Oh, gosh, that’s such a big question. I feel like you have to constantly feed the beast, inspiration-wise.
The poetry of C.K. Williams is a huge one. I love the way he makes anger feel gorgeous and righteous, and I think his voice has had a clear impact on my writing. Staying in poetry, Jennifer Michael Hecht’s collection Funny was a watershed book for me. It’s a poetry collection that essentially deconstructs common jokes and then examines their philosophical underpinnings, and has a lot to teach writers about using humor in your work for more than just a quick laugh.
Moving over to prose, Gabriel García Márquez absolutely warped my brain as a teenager, and I’ve never looked back. I think Of Love and Other Demons was the first thing of his I read, and it was so completely unlike anything I had read up until that point. More recently, I absolutely adore Ann Patchett, whose work also leans heavily into magical realism, and who writes so precisely and poignantly about love, friendship, grief, redemption – about being human.
I’m pretty hard on movies, and tend to not enjoy most of them (that’s true for me of media in general, but it seems to be most acute with movies – and comics, ha). But some I find myself visiting over and over again include Jaws, The Conversation, The Apartment, Children of Men. The Coen Brothers’ catalog is famously a bit uneven, but that unevenness is a result of them always taking chances – and when those chances pay off, holy hell. So many of their movies have had a huge influence on my work, especially in the way they lean into ambiguity and provide no easy answers. The final moments of A Serious Man haunt me like few other things in cinema.
Honestly, it’s hard for me to consume great media and not be influenced by it. As a writer – and I’m sure this is very common – I want to do everything. I want to do big blockbuster entertainment, I want to do quietly intense drama, I want to get weird as hell. Basically, I want to write Jaws and Upstream Color, you know? Very few people have careers like that, but that’s no reason not to try – no reason not to open your brain up to as many influences as you can, and use it all to create something uniquely you.
CE: What would you like to be doing with your life if you weren’t writing?
PA: Before getting into comics, I worked as a newspaper reporter (which is also writing, so let’s glide past that) and then spent a decade working in economic development for a municipal government, helping businesses big and small with tax abatement, tax increment financing districts, revolving loan programs, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…
I also helped a local comic shop (Comics Cubed, in Kokomo, Indiana!) open by guiding them through the process of applying for a small business loan through one of the programs I oversaw. They paid that loan off years early, and are still in business and doing great things for the Kokomo community.
So, I’d probably still be working for the government, or in economic development for a non-profit. I have a Master’s in Public Administration that I got just as I was getting into comics, when I thought that government would be my career path.
CE: What are some of your passions outside of comics?
PA: My dog, as anyone who follows me on social media can attest. We found him as a stray on January 1, 2018, and he’s made this terrible year noticeably brighter. I also enjoy walking… my dog, which I spend at least an hour or two a day doing. I spend some of my free time playing backgammon and doing crossword puzzles, because I am very old. I’ve also recently started volunteering as a mentor for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Indiana. My Little Brother is an awesome dude, and spending time with him has the added impact of pushing me to do new things, in an incredibly rewarding way.
To sign up for Paul’s upcoming Introduction to Comic Book Writing course (with Andy Schmidt), click here!