Arts Desk

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Bamn Writer Troy Allen

On his blog, Troy Allen describes himself as "a Washington, D.C. native who has worn many hats over the last several years. Notably, during his time as a meandering film student at Montgomery College, Allen opted to train as a professional wrestler for six months. The experience left his ego bruised, but also served as an inspiration for Bamn." It's due to his work promoting Bamn that I first heard of him; he recently answered our standard questions.

Washington City Paper: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?
Troy Allen: Well, primarily, I'm the writer of a self-published wrestling comic called Bamn. I've also done two short stories for the Dr. Dremo's Taphouse of Tall Tales anthology series, and I'll be doing a monthly comic strip for the upcoming Magic Bullet newspaper. Outside of comics I write film reviews for OfNote Magazine in New York. Double-also, I blog obsessively about robots taking over the world at www.AndroidMassacre.com, but you didn't ask for all that. Sorry.

WCP: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
TA: 1981 at Howard hospital. I'm definitely a child of the '80s. I'm not sure if I should be proud of that or not.

WCP: Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?
TA:I've lived in and around the DC-area my entire life. Currently, I'm in Gaithersburg, which I hate with a passion. I'm used to living closer to the city, so having to drive to the nearest carryout or Metro station is something I will never get used to.

WCP: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?
TA: While I rarely draw, I did study film while at Montgomery College. It got me familiar with a lot of things I suspected about the storytelling process including how to tell the audience things visually. It's informed how I write comics pretty heavily.

WCP: Who are your influences?
TA: I grew up primarily on Marvel Comics, so their style of storytelling — y'know, loaded with angst — has been a big influence. As a kid, I really gravitated towards Sal Buscema and J.M. DeMatteis on Spectacular Spider-Man. Dematteis would write these pages that would have rows and rows of the same image, and Buscema would draw them in a way that made my 11 year-old brain recognize that someone was telling me a story, that the artist and the writer we're working me over. I had a similar experience with Steven Spielberg and Jurassic Park.

As an adult, my influences tend to be the oddballs of mainstream film and comics. The guys who seemingly haven't had to grab their ankles and seem to enjoy making over-the-top entertainment. Guys like Grant Morrison, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, and screenwriter Shane Black. I'm sure I'm forgetting people. I'm still a big fan of Spielberg...he's gotten a little quirky in his old age.

WCP: If you could, what in your career would you redo or change?
TA: I would have probably started this comic book-thing earlier. Now, to anyone looking in, it seems like I'm just scared of turning thirty, but this was always in me. I just had to get tired of everything else.

WCP: What work are you best known for?
TA: This may not be the answer you we're looking for, but I think most people in this area know me because I managed a comic book store for 6 years. I did a lot of stuff with Diamond Comics Distributors, the Small Press Expo, movie theaters, and other comic shops, when I was doing that. I mean, A LOT. I was (and still am) proud to be doing comics and I think that experience was preparing me for self-publishing and writing these damned things.

WCP: What work are you most proud of?
TA: I really am proud of Bamn. It really is hard for someone to go, "Okay, I'm going to put the beer down and actually pursue my life's ambition," but when you see your comic book printed up—you're going to conventions just so your friends can buy a copy of it, you're meeting people that speak the same language you do, and you look in the corner and you see that Marvel and DC have a booth 20 feet away from you—you realize that beer wasn't that good in the first place. Okay, that last part is a lie.

Bamn #1 and #2 are both available at Alliance Comics and Games in Silver Spring, MD. And for those of you who don't like sunlight, you can purchase Bamn and the Dr. Dremo's series online at www.comixpress.com. Just type the name of the title in the search engine and give us your money! Also, be sure to get the soon to be released Bamn #3 and The Magic Bullet at the Small Press Expo and the DC Counter Culture Fest later this year.

WCP: What would you like to do  or work on in the future?
TA: Tons. I got this Zombie/comedy thing I've been holding onto for a few years now that I would like to do relatively soon. I also have this nasty superhero story I plan to co-write, but the Magic Bullet deal is the most immediate thing. The comic strip I'm doing for them is called Boogie Monster. It's about two hipster who run a comic shop—plenty of which autobiographical. It'll be fun doing something without a plot that is all about the jokes.

WCP: What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?
TA: I have a playlist on my iPod for everything, so I just listen to music to get me out of my funk. I've never gotten writer's block, but I have just been too lazy to proceed. When that happens, I go to the playlist called "Bamn" or whatever and wait for the scene to come to me. Always works.

WCP: What do you think will be the future of your field?
TA: There is no future for my field if the robots aren't stopped. Do your homework.

WCP: What's your favorite thing about DC?
TA: Jumbo Slice in Adam's Morgan and Good Stuff Eatery in Capitol Hill (sorry, I'm hungry while I'm doing this interview).

WCP: Least favorite?
TA: The Red Line. Oh...and tourist who don't understand Metro escalator etiquette. Look, people, one side is for walking, the other side is for standing! You're here on leisure time;  I, on the other hand, have to get to work! MOVE!

WCP: What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?
TA: Actually, most people who come out of town ask me about bars and clubs. I've worked at museums before, and most tourist want a drink after looking at galleries all day. LOL!

WCP: Do you have a website or blog?
TA: Yep, www.typographicera.com. It's appropriately named, too. I write everything there from the hip, so there isn't much editing going on. There you can find links to Bamn, Dr. Dremo, DC Conspiracy, Android Massacre, and OfNote.

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