We recently had the pleasure to speak to the very funny Billy Kirkwood about his love of comics, comedy and wrestling. Here’s what he had to say.
Hello Billy, Thanks for agreeing to a wee interview for The Big Comic Page. How are you doing?
Hey man I’m good thanks for having me on, it’s a pleasure.
Just a few questions, mostly comic related for you but first could you introduce yourself
To followers on the page who may or may not be familiar with your work.
I’m Billy Kirkwood, I’m a stand-up comedian, geek, wrestling fan and generally into all-out geeky nonsense.
So what first got you into comics?
Y’know it’s kinda weird because I’m the only one out of me and my brother that’s into comics. It’s actually kinda hard to say, I started buying them properly when I was a teenager, as you do y’know when you finally get “your” money, but I initially remember being into some really old-school stuff like Asterix and Obelix and stuff like that. I always remember being into funny stuff, stuff that was visually funny was what got me into it. As, y’know, you get older and your taste changes and you get more cash you start spreading out a bit, but I remember where I grew up, there wasn’t really anywhere you could buy comics without going up to Glasgow to get them so it was hard.
I think a lot of folk even from Glasgow can relate to that growing up as I remember being lucky to find the odd comic in the local newsagents, everything else you had to wait to go into town to places like Forbidden Planet to get them.
Yeah cause growing up in Ayrshire there was nothing except libraries which are pretty good now for finding things but other than that you were pretty lucky to find maybe an odd 2000AD or something. I can remember picking up things like Terminator comics and stuff but there was nothing regular because they were so hard to get around here and it was pretty rubbish.
I remember being similar that my earliest memories were of my gran buying me the Beano and Dandy and occasionally the odd import Spider-man or X-men book the local shop got, but they never ordered anything regularly. It always seemed quite sporadic, but I guess that influenced me when I got older to actually go out and find them for myself.
Yeah man same where I’d occasionally get a 2000AD or something , I’ve never really been a massive fan of 2000AD, they always kinda looked cool but ehhh….they’ve never really been much of a page turner for me. Which is personal preference obviously, you might love them but no really for me. Unless Batman was in them, haha! I remember the old crossovers with Judge Dredd vs. Batman and stuff like that which was kinda cool.
I always thought Judge Dredd was pretty cool but when I was younger 2000AD was just a bit over my head whereas Spider-man and stuff like that were able to draw me in more.
Batman was always the one I was drawn to at an early age, I remember getting Batman: Bloodlust and that when I was young but even then it was fairly limited as to what you could get and what was available.
Yeah, indeed. Earlier on in a message you sent you mentioned you were a fan of Steve Niles and Scott Snyder. Do you have any particular favourite stories that they have done so far or anything that sort of sticks out?
My favourite Steve Niles one is actually The Lurkers, which was a short series that he did but was sadly cut short. I don’t actually know a lot of people that have read it but I very luckily got the opportunity to talk to Steve Niles when I hosted the Comics vs. Fans quiz thing at the Glasgow film festival this year and y’know everyone goes “30 days of night!” but I got to sit down with him say how I really liked Lurkers which is basically about a creature from the undead who comes and kills a bunch of kids and It kinda crosses the line between the alive and the undead. It’s a really spooky little series and that’s one of my favourites from Steve Niles.
Scott Snyder stuff is really anything related to Batman which is just incredible. I actually got to meet him as well last year which was awesome. He’s a really nice, really quiet and unimposing guy, really humble and just y’know, a nice guy but when you read the stuff he writes you kinda go “Holy s*it! You’re a f**king maniac” haha. That was at the first two Kapow’s in London when I got to host the Stan Lee awards which was awesome. Terrifying but awesome. First one was Shambolic but a lot of fun. Joe Quesada from Marvel was there which was a bit nerve wracking when I knew how much I was planning to swear and take the piss and the C.E.O. of Marvel is sitting right there with the potential to get up and deck me but that was a lot of fun.
But Scott Snyder yeah, first one I read was Gotham gates I think it’s called and I really enjoyed that. The thing I really like about comics is that you can find a writer you like and it doesn’t need to be their first story but you can go back and find them all and get into them from there. Same with Mark Millars stuff, I picked up one of his and went out and found all the rest.
Yeah I can agree with that, Scott Snyder as an example is still kinda new to me being more of a Marvel guy but I got into his American Vampire series after I heard how good that was meant to be and then I realised he was doing the new 52 Batman as well which has been pretty awesome so far as well and now I’m trying to dig into his back catalogue a bit.
Yeah another thing I found funny hanging around with them on drinking sessions, obviously I don’t drink myself I’m just there with a coke but it was cool asking them questions and finding out what they thought of each others work and Scott Snyder seems to be one of those guys whose work’s becoming the hottest around at the moment and at last year’s Stan Lee Awards he walked away with 3 awards I think which was cool and he’s a really nice dude.
Awesome. You’re also a big fan of The Punisher, yeah?
F*ck yeah, I have a Punisher tattoo haha
I was wondering who you felt wrote your definitive Punisher?
I guess I always liked Garth Ennis, He’s not the only guy but I think he set the benchmark of how he should be done in the modern era. I think everyone compares to him now. I kinda like how, with some writers it’s kinda like the Bond films in a way that different writers can take the same character and make him different but it’s still The Punisher. One thing that does piss me off though is when they write a Punisher story and The Punisher’s no the main guy. Y’know, if their following detective Soap or something like that who’s following the Punisher who you don’t see till the end when he stops him from getting raped or something ridiculous. But yeah Garth Ennis is the one I always seem to come back to and it would be good to see Marvel get someone like Mark Millar on board for a movie.
I don’t know if you saw it but I’d love to see them make Thomas Jane’s #dirtylaundry made into a feature length Punisher movie.
Yeah well I really likes Thomas Jane’s Punisher much better than that bloody awful piece of sh*t Warzone movie haha. Even Thomas Jane’s movie wasn’t that great but he’s apparently good friends with Steve Niles…I think they may actually own a production company together, I’m no sure. But Thomas Jane was meant to be in the sequel and I remember when he was dropped out thinking “oh for f*ck sake I’ve just got used to him being Frank Castle” haha. The Punisher’s had a f*cking terrible time in movies though and I can’t help but wonder how they have managed to screw up 3 reboots effectively. The Punisher movie in my head is f*cking amazing but will sadly never be made. Warzone was terrible though, I mean the guy who played him looked like Frank Castle but he wasn’t him, it was just terrible. But I think that’s down to Hollywood maybe being afraid to bung a whole lot of money into an adult rated Punisher film they couldn’t advertise, just look at what happened to Dredd when it came out.
I have heard though that Dredd has done really well on blu-ray and DVD sales and may get a sequel off its success in the home video market.
That would be awesome, but I still feel Hollywood maybe nervous with films like that with the fear it won’t make them their money back at the box-office. I’ve now seen 3 Punisher movies and I feel it’s hard to get excited about a possible fourth film being made haha. Funnily enough If they ever did make another and I could cast someone, you’ll laugh, but I’d like to see Sylvester Stallone as Frank Castle.
Actually yeah because if you look at it a bit differently, Cobra is basically like a Punisher movie.
Aye! Also Stallone’s got a bit of mileage on his clock and Punishers no meant to be a young guy, he’s meant to be in his late 40’s or early 50’s. I’d love to see someone like Stallone do it but I don’t know how that’s never come up.
I know eh? Anyway much like myself you wear your love for comics on your sleeve so to speak, you have a show called “show us your tattoo” so what comic related tattoos do you have?
Oh f*ck haha trying to think now, Well I’ve got my Punisher one, I’ve got Snoopy and Calvin and Hobbes tattooed on my as well. Calvin and Hobbes actually is probably the only comic me and my brother bonded over y’know from snotty little Billy to teenager Jason. I just love Calvin and Hobbes, Absolutely love it. I’m also possibly going to get a Spider Jerusalem one on my calf as well. So 3-odd but eh (counts) 12 total.
Haha, speaking of Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts, Do you feel that they were early influences in your sense of comedy and sense of humour now that you are a comedian?
I guess they must have in some way, I mean I don’t often write jokes about lasagne or ‘I hate Mondays’ but I do like the sense of playfulness and the funness that they have, so yeah, probably. It’s funny when people talk about comic books they don’t mention things like Calvin and Hobbes or Garfield but we’ve all read them! Even going back to Asterix, everyone read Asterix books growing up. I mean only recently did I start thinking “yeah actually I used to read f*cking all of those” but that was because that was all you could get, haha. Definitely think they have been influential though. I mean I like wee indie comics as well as Punisher and stuff like that but I like indie comics, especially ones that make me laugh. I like comics with an element of silliness to them even when they are silly with a serious subject. I think that’s why I quite like Transmetropolitan so much. That stuff’s got quite a dark sense of humour to it. But y’know sometimes I’ll buy stuff cos it looks funny and I get three pages in and think “that’s f*ckin terrible” haha and throw it away but I think I like to try things that are a bit different from Calvin and Hobbes to stuff like Arsenic Lullabies which is probably the darkest comic in history, have you ever read it?
I’ve not actually.
F*ck, some of the stuff in it is terrible but it’s brilliant, well worth checking out, it’s a missed hit.
I’ll need to check it out, I enjoy similar stuff that’s both quite silly but dark like Roman Dirge’s Lenore or Bear by Jamie Smart who I actually think does stuff for the Dandy now.
Yeah I really like Roman Dirge, his stuffs brilliant as well. Lenore’s a great example of that sort of stuff….it’s actually quite old now, F*ck that makes me feel old haha.
We’ve spoke about your passion for comics and we know you like wrestling from your work with ICW, what other things are you passionate about?
It’s got to be comedy, the art of comedy and being able to make a living doing it as my job now is just awesome. Other than comedy and wrestling I don’t really have much time for anything else really haha. I’m probably the worst gamer in the world actually, like I’ll buy a game and it’ll take me three years to complete. If I buy two games my wife just laughs, absolutely pissing herself and I’m like “I’ll play them but” haha.
At least you get your value for money though and they last you, eh? Haha
Exactly! Like Arkham Asylum I bought years after everyone else had played it and it took me a f*ckin year to finish it just in time for Arkham city coming out haha. But yeah, comedy and wrestling and I’ve been lucky that they have opened doors to me to do other things I enjoy. I actually got a credit on the super crooks graphic novel, if you look in the back there’s me, Florence and Hemphill and we get a special thanks because there’s a wrestling scene somewhere in the middle of it and we got asked what wrestlers could say during a battle and I said things like “C**T” and “C**tadactyl” and nonsense like that haha. I’m also passionate about staying away from facebook and twitter even though I’m always on the bloody things. I’m just thankful I get to do what I’m passionate about as a job. By the way I’m rubbing my dogs belly as I’m talking, sorry if I get distracted haha.
Oh and tattoo’s I suppose, really I’m like some bizarre Venn diagram where everything I do leads to something else, Comedy, wrestling and tattoos, I think I’m just trying to get the perfect gig together with all the things I love. I’m doing my own show on Saturday in Glasgow and I’ve been looking at it and its probably one of the weirdest shows I’ve ever done because I’m really improvvy when I perform, I’m really chatty with the crowd and will sometimes go off on a though similar to what Billy Connolly does but not quite because I’m far too fu*king weird for that haha. People will often go “what!? This has nothing to do with that!” but I’m always just like, go with it it’ll be fine but sometimes I will go off and never come back. One time a woman came up to me after a show and asked me “so what did happen at the circus? You started talking about the circus and went off about the zoo and never came back to the circus” and I was like “I literally have no f**king idea” haha.
Haha funnily enough that brings me to my next question which is, where can folk next see you perform?
Well unfortunately my shows for the Glasgow Comedy Festival are sold out but the best thing to do is follow me on twitter @billykirkwood or friend me or like me on facebook, I have a website but I’m terrible at keeping it up to date. I’m also a regular at The Stand in Glasgow, I’ve got Rockness coming up and I’ll still be doing the upcoming ICW shows. I’m always very bombastic about promoting my shows though on twitter before getting instantly embarrassed haha. Oh yeah actually I’m supporting Mick Foley on tour so go see him! And I’m doing a one off show with Chris Brooker the night before ICW who actually organized the first Mick Foley tour called “I’m the tag team champions” which we’ll need to figure out but he’s away to Wrestlemania so he can go F*ck himself haha.
Brilliant stuff, not wanting to keep too much of your time Billy so onto the last question and it’s a fun wee one. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?
Ahh F*ck man that’s a question! God, y’know I’ve actually asked little kids that at the stand kid’s comedy events and their answers are amazing, kid’s answers are always way more mental than adults. I had one little kid say he would like to shoot ninjas out of his eyes so they could beat up bullies and I asked him “why wouldn’t you just want powers to beat the bullies yourself?” And his reply was “Well….I’d have ninjas to do that for me” I thought to myself “that’s it wee man, your right, I’m wrong” hahaha. Y’know If I could have a power I would have to say It would be the equivalent of Spider Jerusalem’s bowel disruptor so I could have the power to make people sh*t themselves haha. That would be amazing like “BANG! F*ck you!” haha even general Zod I think would have a hard time keeping face if he just sh*t himself. I think it’s the ultimate level of diffusing situations, “have you just Sh*t yourself Batman?” haha that would take away a lot of his aura. I’d also like the power when I say “everybody go fu**ing mental” everyone just goes nuts and actually destroys places but I think I’m gonna go with the sh*t yourself one because it causes awkwardness and can diffuse situations and make people sick, I would actually be able to make people sick as well if I wanted to just make them throw up suddenly but I don’t think I’d make them jizz themselves because that would just be weird and too far haha.
Hahaha brilliant, thanks very much again Billy for agreeing to the interview.
Not at all man it was a pleasure, anytime. I actually follow the page on facebook so I’m happy to chat even if I am a rambling mess haha.
It was a pleasure dude and thanks again, Take care.
No worries man, cheers and take care yourself.