Creator Focus—Jill Pantozzi

Humming right along…eight weeks now! I can’t say they’ve been *consecutive* but who’s counting? I mean really, is there anyone counting? What else are they saying about me? Jill, do you know? Jill and I have been friends for over seven years at this point so she understands my level of crazy. And with her years of experience in pop culture journalism, cosplay, and the online community in general, her level of crazy might quickly be surpassing mine.

The definition of the word “geek” has changed so much over the years, both positively and negatively. When did you first identify with that moniker?

I always like to say I’ve been a geek from birth considering my mom is a Star Trek fan so I grew up in a nerdy household, but it was a while before it was a term I was comfortable using for myself. The first time I even found someone “like me” was in the sixth grade when I heard a boy in my class mention The Next Generation. We became fast friends (still are) but I knew there was a negative connotation so I didn’t speak about the geeky stuff I liked openly until I was in college.

What made you decide to turn that passion into writing?

I had gone to school for journalism, intending on eventually becoming an on-air reporter, so I already had the passion for writing in general but took a detour after I graduated and got into radio. I enjoyed DJing and producing for several years but missed the writing and so I decided to start a blog focusing on something fun I was doing at the time which was just getting into weekly comics. It was a lot of fun and quickly spiraled from there into covering all sort of other things. Eventually I sent some of my convention reports to the main comic book news outlets and started getting paid gigs. If you’d asked me when I was young, never in a million years would I have considered writing about pop culture was going to be an actual job. I’m thankful it is because I enjoy it a great deal.

What’s the hardest part about writing for other people’s consumption?

Getting something wrong. And I don’t mean typos or grammatical errors, those happen because we’re not robots. I mean accidentally hurting a person or underrepresented group. Being part of a few underrepresented groups myself I have made it my goal as part of my writing and platform to make sure I speak on aspects of the industry that aren’t getting enough attention, like representation. My intent is always to help but sometimes I get it wrong or go about it the wrong way. It’s important in times like that to take a step back, listen, and learn. I’m learning every day.

Contrastingly, what are some of the most positive responses you’ve had towards something you’ve written?

I’ve had people not just from all over the country but all over the world email me to say thank you for things I’ve written. Whether it’s something that helped them through something personally, opened their eyes, or just made them joyful, it’s constantly astounding. Most writers work in their own little world most of the time and it’s easy to forget the impact words can have. And of course it happens in person when I’m out at conventions too but sometimes even locally. I had two nice fans introduce themselves to me at the Wonder Woman screening I went to the other day. It’s always a welcome surprise.

What advice do you have for someone thinking of starting their own blog, or getting into writing articles on pop culture?

If you want to start your own blog for fun, definitely go for it! If it’s something you want to make a living at you really have to dedicate yourself. I went to school for journalism and I started my blog before I knew this could be a career but even then I treated it very seriously. I had fun but I also made sure it looked good, that my facts were correct, that I gave proper credit. I also took the time to get to know other bloggers, read and share their stuff. It’s an incredibly supportive community but you can’t take it for granted. And if you do want to write for other websites, make sure you’ve got a good base of your own work to show on your own site first, there’s a lot of competition out there and a few posts about your favorite TV shows or movies isn’t going to cut it. Also, don’t expect to always get a response when you’re pitching ideas to other sites. Editors are incredibly busy and can’t always reply to everyone. If you do get a reply and feedback, make sure to listen and use it to help you grow.

You’re a pretty centralized figure in the online community, and I know that sometimes bleeds over into real life at conventions. What’s it like being recognized and meeting fans in public?

It’s really, really awesome, if not a bit awkward sometimes just by the nature of introducing yourself to someone you don’t really “know.” Meeting people from online in real life in general is still such a wild concept considering how many years we’ve been online now but I never get tired of it. Everyone is always so nice and it gives me a chance to put a face to a Twitter name! I sometimes forget that I’m a minor internet celebrity because even just one step outside that into the more general entertainment field there’s plenty of people who have no idea who I am. Like I mentioned before, convention recognition is pretty normal but getting recognized in more every day places is still really surprising to me. I got recognized in a Target once. Shockingly, I was not in the action figure section.

What conventions are coming up for you? Do you have any cosplay planned?

I can’t even believe these words are coming out of my mouth but none! I’ve been working only for myself this year so there hasn’t been any opportunities for an outlet to send me to cover a convention and the expense is a bit too much right now. I may be at New York Comic Con, my local show, if a panel I was asked to be on gets approved. Otherwise folks can find me after-hours at that one! The last big cosplay I did was my Medieval Batgirl and I switched it up with my last casual cosplay by doing a Modern Xena! I did just learn that the Bride of Frankenstein was actually a redhead in the old black-and-white film so that is a definite possibility down the road once my hair grows a bit longer.

What kinds of projects are you working on now?

Currently I’m writing on my own site daily and bringing other content to fans via Twitter and my Facebook page. I relaunched TheNerdyBird.com (with help from 801red!) back in 2015 with Patreon support which means there are absolutely no ads. It makes for a much more pleasant reading experience in my opinion and I’m extremely grateful to all my Patrons for supporting me. I’m also looking for another outlet to call home and doing some part-time social media and PR work for Skelton Crew Studio. I’ve actually known them for years and they are such nice people. They make really cool licensed collectibles based on indie comics.

 

And now the fun stuff.

Top three favorite comic book heroes.

Batman, Batman, and Batman. Just kidding!! Not really. I mean ok, Batman, Supergirl, and Zatanna. Honorable mentions go to Booster Gold and Mogo.

Who is your favorite Transformer?

Voltron. Yeah. I said it.

Who will take the final seat on the Iron Throne?

I like to think more than one person will rule in the end. Perhaps even three. Daenerys, Jon, and Tyrion perhaps?

You can reboot one MCU/DCEU movie; which one, who would you cast as the lead, and why.

Hmm, this is a tough one. While I don’t love all the films, their collective casting has been pretty good so far. Jared Leto as the Joker being the one huge exception but I feel like the Joker needs a rest anyway. So I’m going to have to go with Ben Affleck’s Batman. I thought he made a good Bruce but his Batman didn’t do much for me. That said, I’m going with someone I never actually considered before now. Tom Welling. Yes, that’s right. Me, the person constantly complaining about people casting comic book adaptation actors in other comic book roles is suggesting Smallville’s Clark Kent as a big screen Bruce Wayne. I think he was really genuine in that role and I’d love to see what he could do with a darker character.


And that’s a wrap on week eight. How do I know so many talented people? I mean, my blog is basically just chicken broth at this point, and creators like Jill are the spices that make it worthwhile. My thanks to Jill for her time in answering these questions, and for putting up with me as a friend for all these years.

As always, let me know if you know of anyone you’d like to see on Creator Focus!

For more about Jill, find her online