Comic-book fans, writers, and filmmakers alike can revel in the insights of Jim Krueger next week. He will pay a visit to Wilmington, giving a book-signing, question-and-answer session, and writers workshop at the newly opened Giant Café off 23rd Street.
Having graduated from Marquette University with a degree in journalism and a minor in marketing, Krueger has made a career of selling his talents, allowing him to seamlessly climb the writing ladder. Krueger, who grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, recalls fostering an interest in comic books and storytelling since youth, and after a fateful trip to Disney World. A hurricane just had made its way across the Florida peninsula when Krueger and his family arrived at the gate wearing yellow panchos amidst a torrential downpour. They journeyed through the tunnel, which led to the childhood mecca, and upon exiting, the storm let up.
“So, you had these giant shards of light coming down through the clouds, and my dad looked down at me and said, ‘Now you know why they call it the Magic Kingdom,'” Krueger reminisces. “[And it started me thinking:] What does it mean to go to another world? There [are] always storms, there [are] always tunnels, [and] there [is] always darkness moving to light.”
With metaphorical musings planted, Krueger took to reading comic books. His first introduction was Superman, while his brother read Batman.
“I remember being extremely jealous that he got Batman,” Krueger says, preferring the more expansive ethical gray area found in the well-known story. “I [now] have a whole lecture on ‘Surperman versus Batman’ and the Superman I want to see.”
Krueger will release a Superman entry this month that embodies the direction he sees for the character.
Enjoying the escapism and adventure comic books offer, his father used it as a method of payment for work. “He had a garage, so he would take me on tow jobs,” Krueger elaborates. “His payment for me going on these tow jobs would be a couple new comic books—sitting on the seat of the tow truck.”
As well, his burgeoning interest in comics came at a time when the industry saw a dramatic shift, one which greatly influenced the work Krueger does now. He cultivated a newfound respect for the medium. The writers of the late ’80s, such as Frank Miller (“The Dark Night Returns”) or Alan Moore (“Watchman”), created a more serious tone. They highlighted character depth, more complex themes, and sought to make sequential literature.
Fast forward to Krueger’s post-collegiate career: He found himself advertising products in a marketing job. He worked with products like Teat Dip, a substance rubbed on a cow’s utters after milking. Though his work in advertising garnered him a few awards, tough times in the market forced him to put his abilities to the test. He lost his job—and he wanted to focus once again on comic books. Using his advertising capabilities, he basically sold himself to Marvel Comics and landed a job as a copy writer. From there he worked his way up to senior copy writer, to assistant creative director, and finally creative director.
During this time period, he honed his filmmaking skills through a continued education course at NYU. One summer in the early aughts he made a short film called “They Might Be Dragons.” He made the whole film for around $1,000 and concentrated on substance rather than special effects. The film won Best in Class at NYU and Best Short Film at the New York Independent Film Festival. Krueger finds the film still shows as an exemplary entry to current students of the NYU class.
“As I tell young filmmakers now, it’s all about the script,” he advises. “Start with a great script and the rest will fall in line.”
About 10 years ago, Krueger became a freelance writer. He’s showcased his talent through DC Comics, Dark Horse, Big Bad World, and Silent Devil, just to name a few. As well, he’s created his own comic-book brand, 26 Soldiers.
Krueger’s expansive career has taken him through an array of previously conceived ideas, including Avengers, X-Men, Star Wars, Matrix, and Batman. He also served as a contributing writer for a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” comic, which received an Outstanding Comic Book nod in the 2010 GLAAD Awards.
The prolific writer also generates original works. His brain-child, “Foot Soldiers,” tells the story of teens living in post-apocalyptic times. They unknowingly receive powers after stepping into the shoes of a bygone superhero.
“I definitely [like] to talk about what it means to be courageous,” Kruger discusses. “In ‘Foot Soldiers,’ I suggest that bravery and courage is something you put on–not something [with which] you were born.”
His own imaginings afford him the opportunity to do what he wants with the characters. When it comes to comic book staples like Spiderman or Superman, certain territory remains off-limits.
However, writing comics based on already-existing characters doesn’t come without its benefits. Having to shape his story-arc within restraints forces him to become even more innovative.
“You’re so far ahead of the curve once you get to the point that you can embrace other people’s notes and criticisms,” Krueger articulates. “The right criticisms are worth seeking out.”
Krueger plans to expound on this concept, among others, over the course of his four-hour workshop, held this Saturday at Giant. As well, he intends to inform on structure, character development, and curate a Q&A session. Also on his agenda is a dialogue about marketing oneself and anecdotes that illuminate mistakes he’s made in his own career.
“I plan to be very open and just throw stuff out there and let people react how they want to react,” he says. “Because it’s a workshop, [I’m also going to] suggest a new [writing] structure that people aren’t used to seeing.”
Krueger also will have a limited edition pressing of the comic-book version of “They Might Be Dragons,” and a few copies of his comic currently only available on Amazon, “The High Cost of Happily Ever After.” The latter focuses on a damsel in distress and will be in stores later this year.
Krueger will offer a Q&A session after screening Krueger’s film at 8 p.m. ($10-$15). His workshop will take place earlier in the day for $150. But, if you buy tickets before March 5th at encore deals, you can score them half-off for $75.
Also, Krueger will do a signing at Fanboy Comics on March 9th from noon to 4 p.m.Details:
“The Super Hero Life” screening and Q&A
Giant Café • 1200 N. 23rd St. Suite #209
Sat., March 8th, 8 p.m. Jim Kreuger Workshop
Sat., March 8th, 1-5 p.m.
Tickets half off through March 5th here.
http://cincup.com/cafe • (910) 200-9511 Signing at Fanboy Comics
Sun., March 9th, noon-4 p.m. • Free
419 S. College Rd., University Landing #32