June 2016 - Cover Story: Jim Burleson
There’s always that actor you see consistently getting his screen time in movies and commercials. New Mexico native Jim Burleson is truly becoming one of those actors. Catching the acting bug at a young age, Burleson explains where his love of acting came from. “I love being the center of attention, ever since I was young. Playing a role and being someone else is exciting.” The experience of filmmaking, on so many levels, has been one of pure enjoyment for Burleson.
With over 40 credits to his name, Burleson has taken to acting like a duck to water. Taking advantage of being on set, Burleson has learned the business, from being an actor to working behind the scenes as a producer, production manager, and even stuntman. But when it comes to sharing his favorite project, the family man goes straight to what truly moves him. “My favorite project has been my family. I just had my seventh baby on the 26th and loving him is as easy as each of the six before. I love that my career has allowed me to prioritize my kids’ needs. I also love that I played Pat Garrett on a TV show [Gunslingers]. It's exciting to have been so lucky to have been able to connect with others,” shared Burleson. “From acting to promoting, to politics, I find the ability to express myself my greatest talent.”
Jim has taken another love - the love of comics - and has created two events that are easily making Albuquerque a hub for comic cons and him, the King. Burleson shares his desire of creating those events. “When I bought Tall Tales Comics back in 2009, I did it to give myself the flexibility to be with my family more and in an environment that was positive for my kids,” says Burleson. “The problem is I'm never satisfied and needed more. Comic Con in 2011 was the next step. After eight years of cage fight promoting, I had the right skills. The timing was right. Other shops have since opened and I think those shops are better suited to be called the King of Comics. Astro Zombies, Lobo Anime, Twin Sons, Age of Comics, and even Jim Brazell, who owned the first comic shop in Albuquerque back in the 70s, who is still in business as Pak Rat Collectables. Any of those guys are at least co-owners of the title ‘King of Comics.’ I'm just grateful to be able to bring them all together at Comic Con twice a year.”
His position in the comic convention world led to him ruffling some feathers a few weeks ago with a post on his Santa Fe Comic Con Facebook page about outside entities capitalizing on Comic Con crowds. Jim shared his reason to acknowledge this topic. “Social justice warriors are coming out of the woodwork on every topic on the internet, trying to bully people on what they are and are not allowed to say,” states Burleson. “Back in the 60s and 70s, when communities tried to ban comics for the ‘message,’ there was a unification of shops and creators who banded together for the comics legal fund to help prevent censorship of the industry. The access to people's thoughts thanks to social media has given people some feeling of responsibility to tell people how their thoughts are wrong. I think that the access to people is positive, but the need to tell people to think one way, because they themselves do, is counterproductive.”
“I posted about a conversation that was coming up frequently where people from outside the industry were trying to capitalize on the crowds we get at Comic Con to make money and how it was frustrating and something to be worried about since the exposure of a hobby arm of our industry was profiting on the intellectual properties of major studios…publishers could hurt the hobby of cosplay by forcing lawsuits for illegally selling prints of said characters. People assumed I was referring to a woman. Then assumed I had some moral problem with how women dressed. Then decided to invite hundreds of thousands of social justice warriors to punish me for my assumed misogyny. I refused to back down and refused to apologize for the mistake they made, (which) prolonged the assault of our event. Before long we use 100,000 people participating in the discussion and support for us came at a rate of 10 to 1 of the negative statements. I think people's desire to be offended shouldn't scare us into behaving differently than we responsibly should behave. We do too much good in our community to let a perceived slight ruin our community of tolerance and support. I'll fight that fight every time no matter the outcome.”
When Jim isn’t fighting the good fight, he continues to work. His latest film project, Justice, brought a roster of celebrities to participate in the production. He shared a little more about the film. “Justice is an amazing Western I was lucky enough to work on, written by a great writer, John Lewis, and brought to me by a producer I worked with once before on a film called Checkpoint. We got to show off New Mexico to a new group of producers in a film that I am totally proud of. Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Stephen Lang, Quinton Aaron, Robert Carradine, Nathan Parsons, and so many other A-list actors and dozens of local actors. Directed by Richard Gabai, who is about to be a household name. I plan on using him every chance I get. Brilliant director.”
Burleson has made a name for himself in the Comic Convention world and in the film world. When asked about his legacy, he went back to his family. “My legacy?” laughs Burleson. “I have seven kids! I want them to work hard and be able to say, ‘My dad always fought the good fight and worked hard to help others.’ I hope they will take the good from my example and forget the bad habits I have. Be bold, be honest, be kind.” Burleson is always giving us lessons. We could all take a thing or two from that last piece of advice.