Today, we here at Abnormal Use once again continues our series, “Abnormal Interviews,” in which we conduct brief interviews with law professors, practitioners, and other commentators in the field. For the latest installment, we turn once more to lawyer blogger James Daily of The Law and the Multiverse blog, an incredibly fun site in which the authors apply the laws of the real world to the exploits of comic book superheroes. You might recall that we interviewed James and his co-blogger Ryan Davidson way, way back in March 2011. James was kind enough to submit to a second interview with Abnormal Use, which is as follows:
JIM DEDMAN: We first interviewed you in March 2011, just a few months after the blog debuted in late 2010. In the years since, what is the most important lesson you have learned as a legal blogger?
JAMES DAILY: I’ve learned a few different lessons, but it’s hard to say which is the most important. One thing I’ve learned is to change it up from time to time. Some of my most popular posts have been about unusual topics, such as the contract from The Hobbit. They’ve also been a nice change of pace for me.
DEDMAN: You’ve achieved an immense amount of attention as a result of the site, including interviews with national publications, a book deal, and even your own Wikipedia entry. What do you feel has been your biggest success with the site?
DAILY: All of that attention has been a continual surprise. I think the biggest success has been that I still get more questions from readers than I have time to fully answer. It underscores the point that there is still tons of material to write about, and as an attorney it’s always a great feeling when someone wants to know your opinion about a legal issue, even a fictional one.
DEDMAN: As the blog approaches its fourth anniversary, what challenges do you face in continuing to find new material for the site?
DAILY: The main challenge I have is finding the time to write, not finding new material. I have a backlog of dozens of questions from readers, and I’ve fallen behind on Daredevil and She-Hulk, to say nothing of less law-focused comics. The creativity and breadth of questions from readers never ceases to amaze me. They often come up with better post ideas than I could.
DEDMAN: Since the blog came into being in 2010, what has been your favorite reaction from a reader to the site and its mission?
DAILY: I have received quite a few letters from law students, lawyers, and comic book fans that include some version of “I’m so glad I found the site. I thought I was the only one that thought about this kind of stuff.” It validates the thesis of the site, and I think it’s great that the blog has contributed to a community of sites centered around discussing the law and pop culture.
DEDMAN: As you know, there is a burgeoning movement of “real” superheroes out there making news in some jurisdictions. What have you learned from writing the site that might be of benefit to them?
DAILY: The main thing I’ve learned is that it would be very, very difficult to be a comic book-type superhero that stays within the bounds of the law and yet still does more than act as a member of the neighborhood watch. The law has evolved to frown on “self-help”, with the possible exception of modern stand-your-ground and castle laws. It’s a legal tightrope act without a net, and I don’t recommend it.
DEDMAN: Is service by publication the only way to serve a superhero or villain with a lawsuit?
DAILY: It depends on the superhero or villain. Some superheroes have very public identities (e.g. Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk and Tony Stark/Iron Man). Even some villains act more-or-less in the open, such as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin. And of course even a villain such as The Joker could be served during one his many (brief) stays in Arkham Asylum. Even more reclusive characters such as Batman and Superman have accepted process (subpoenas anyway) at the Justice League headquarters on the Moon. A really aggressive process server might stage a crime (with a “victim” who was in on it) in order to attract a superhero’s attention. That might make for an interesting comic book story!
DEDMAN: What has been your favorite post since you founded the site?
DAILY: I have trouble picking my favorite anything, but I really enjoyed the opportunity to interview Mark Waid (writer of Daredevil, among many other things) and Daniel Reeve, the artist who created the contract for The Hobbit movies. That was definitely something made possible by the success of the rest of the blog. I enjoyed being able to take a peek behind the scenes and hopefully ask questions that my audience would want to know about that wouldn’t be asked elsewhere. Since you’ve also interviewed Mark Waid (and a host of other interesting folks), I think you can understand the appeal.
DEDMAN: What is your favorite superhero movie?
DAILY: Another favorites question! I’m going to punt and say the Christopher Nolan Batman movies and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But honestly the MCU movies have been so consistently good that it’s tempting to say all of them. I’ve generally enjoyed them more than the Spider-Man and X-Men movies, although The Wolverine and Days of Future Past were quite good.
DEDMAN: What do you feel is the most disastrous depiction of the legal process in popular culture, and why?
DAILY: That’s a tricky one. Disastrously wrong or disastrous for its negative impact on society’s perception of lawyers or the legal process? I tend to shy away from writing about stories that get the law laughably wrong, since it’s not much fun to beat up on someone’s creative work, especially when legal accuracy is rarely central to the plot. I’ll leave that to the experts.
BIOGRAPHY: James Daily is an attorney licensed in Missouri and a graduate of the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is also registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. He and Ryan Davidson started the Law and the Multiverse blog in November of 2010. You can follow him on Twitter here.