Earlier this week, DRUNK HULK spoke to IBTimes about the Oscar nominations, drunkenness, and the Most Sexiest Peoples of 2011.
While it was a most entertaining discussion, we couldn't get enough -- fortunately, DRUNK HULK creator Christian Dumais agreed to give us some behind-the-scenes commentary about what it's like to be a virtual Bruce Banner, and what he gets up to when he's not drinking and tweeting.
IBTimes: I understand that you live and work in Poland. What do you do there?
CD: I'm a teacher who happens to be a PhD student. I've been fortunate enough to teach various American Pop Culture classes at a private college here in Wroc?aw and I teach good old fashioned English courses at the Wroclaw University of Technology.
My favorite course -- and the one students respond to the most -- is my American Storytelling class, where I spend a year looking at our storytelling techniques from books to television to comic books to memes, starting with Herman Melville and ending with someone like Dan Harmon. It's an absolute blast.
Do your students know about DRUNK HULK?
Some of them have made the connection. I try not to advertise it at my work. Maybe if I were Punctual Hulk or Hard Working Hulk, but then again, if that were the case, we probably wouldn't be talking today.
According to your bio, you are currently working on a novel. Can you tell us more about that?
It's a big road trip story about a man who must return home to his dying mother. The problem is his mother also happens to be one of mythology's most terrifying monsters. It's dark and exciting, and there's also a lot of humor. I'm having a lot of fun writing it and I hope to finally finish it by summer.
Do you consider DRUNK HULK to be an alter-ego?
I suppose he'd be more my alter-ego back when I was in university or when I first moved here. Those who've read my biographical short story collection Empty Rooms Lonely Countries already have a good idea what Drunk Hulk would be like if he drank with the Secret Service in Krakow or if he officiated a wedding in Philadelphia or if he ran around in cities like London and Paris. These days, I suppose I'm more Social Drinking Banner, but I do enjoy playing Drunk Hulk on Twitter.
I have read you say that writing for Twitter is liberating. But do you ever find it confining?
Not really. It's just a different way to write. While I'm a fan of traditional storytelling, I'm also a huge fan of nanofiction, especially in terms of what can be accomplished in as few words as possible. Can you change the way someone sees the world in less than 1000 words? Can you make someone laugh in 5 words or less? For the former I think of writers like Donald Barthelme who could say more in a couple of pages than some writers can in a whole book. And for the latter, it continues to amaze me how The Onion manages to make me laugh with a five word headline. This is what I'm interested in. Sure, it's challenging, but it's more liberating than it is confining.
While recognizing that almost any Twitter account today exists to promote something, it seems to have broken down some walls --- between art and commerce, between celebrities and mortals. It's become a medium unto itself. Do you think this is in spite of or because of the 140 character restriction?
The 140 character restriction is why Twitter is so transcending. I keep going back to Warren Ellis' concept of burst culture, something I've spent a lot of time studying and teaching. We really don't have as much time as we'd like to engage in all the seemingly infinite amounts of entertainment, and Twitter allows people to connect with everyone (especially the celebrities they love and admire) and receive something substantial in a short amount of time.
There's no downloading, no having to watch a video, or to skim through an article to get to the good stuff -- it's a pure concentrated point. It might be a nugget of wisdom that'll change your point of view, a joke that'll make you forget that you're sitting in that cubicle eight hours a day, or complete utter bullshit that'll remind you that the writer/celebrity/star/whatever you love so much is just as human as you are. Also, you'll probably discover that they can't spell very well.
And how do you anticipate Twitter will change in the next year, the next few years?
I don't know how or if Twitter will change. I know that I can't possibly imagine my life without it. Twitter has really changed my life.
Has the success of DRUNK HULK informed how you approach your other writing projects?
I think it's helped me to not take my writing so seriously, to have more fun and take more chances. I've said this before, but the fact that I'm recognized for writing in ALL CAPS in poor English is something the Inner Literary Me took a while to accept.
DRUNK HULK didn't answer an earlier question about @FeministHulk. Can you comment on their relationship?
There is no relationship to speak of. As Drunk Hulk, I don't respond to or mention any of the other Twitter Hulks. Personally, I appreciate the fact that @FeministHulk is accomplishing something very specific and different compared to other Hulks, which is why I feel that arguments over which one is better or funnier are unfair.
DRUNK HULK seemed to have some opinions about the Academy Awards. What about you? Why do you think Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was nominated for Best Picture?
It's clear that there's a lot of politics and behind-the-scenes shenanigans involved in the whole nomination process, and the inclusion of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close in the Best Picture category really makes that obvious. This was a good year for independent cinema and it's a real shame that so many smaller movies were overlooked to accommodate terrible movies. Plus, does Tom Hanks hate us or something?
Did you ever watch The Incredible Hulk show on television?
I loved that show when I was a kid. I was loyal to any live action superhero show. I was even on board for the awful Hulk TV movies they did in the late Eighties with Daredevil and Thor. Bill Bixby was a fantastic Banner.
Who is your favorite superhero?
This changes all of the time, so I'm going to give you my favorite comic book character instead: Jim Gordon. My dream writing assignment would be a Gordon comic book series. I think he's one of the most interesting and complicated characters in the medium, and the very nature of his role in the Batman universe creates an endless supply of legal and ethical scenarios that would make for some excellent reading. When Chris Nolan started the latest Batman trilogy, everyone was talking about who would play Batman, who would be the villain, and all I cared about was who is going to play Gordon. One of my dogs is named Commissioner Gordon, so I take this seriously.
Is DRUNK HULK a generally happy person? (Wait: Is he a person at all? I'm not sure what a HULK is).
My interpretation of Drunk Hulk is a big grumpy guy whose eyes are glued to the TV at the bar and occasionally shouts out interesting points about what's he seeing. If not for his green skin, he'd just be some overweight man without a shirt sitting at the end of the bar. I'd say he's capable of happiness, sure, but most things get under his skin enough to yell about them - which we see as tweets.
While yours appears to be the most popular, there are a few others out there using Twitter for purposes of high art. Have you seen @DadBoner? (And do you have any guesses who might be behind it?)
I never heard of @DadBoner. I try to stay clear of other humorous Twitter accounts for the same reason that I purposely stay a day behind on The Daily Show. When I make jokes on topical issues, I need to reach my point of view with the material independently.
You recently tweeted: Knowing that Patton Oswalt follows Drunk Hulk is giving me stage fright. This was shortly after I asked about him in the DRUNK HULK interview. Did you not realize he had been following you before that? Would you rather not know who was following you -- does DRUNK HULK perform better to a darkened audience? Are there any potential followers out there who you'd rather didn't follow DRUNK HULK, for fear of stage fright, or for other reasons?
I didn't know about Oswalt until you mentioned it in the Drunk Hulk interview. I don't really pay attention to who is following Drunk Hulk, and honestly, it would be hard to keep track considering the number of followers. Unless they mention @DRUNKHULK or retweet something, I won't notice they're following. That's how I discovered that writers like Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman and Peter Straub are/have been following Drunk Hulk. If I at least made them smile, that would be a small gift for all the amazing work they've published. In the case of Oswalt, he's someone I admire greatly in terms of his comedy and his geek-centric world view. I'm more surprised than afraid that he's following Drunk Hulk. I can only hope that he, like everyone else for that matter, is enjoying what I'm doing.
What are some of the offers you've gotten for DRUNK HULK?
I've had offers to buy the @DRUNKHULK feed. That was surprising. I had an agent who was very close to getting a Drunk Hulk book off the ground with a great publisher, but that fell through when legal everyone recovered their sanity. I was offered a cool little project happening in March that should surprise some people. T-shirt offers, etc.
I'd love to have offers to write something, whether it be scripts, books, whatever. I'm really proud of my work and I'm getting better at what I do every day, and I'd love for someone to take a chance on me. I'm ready for pretty much anything.
Any chance you can elaborate a bit further on the project that's coming in March?
Honestly, I can't talk about [it]. I can say that I'm excited to have a project that I'm not allowed to talk about for once in my life.
How much longer can we expect to see DRUNK HULK on our Twitter feeds?
I'll keep it going for as long as it stays fun and people enjoy it.