Thursday, January 31, 2008
When and how did you get started writing?
I had this dream growing up to be a comic book artist. I began writing stories that I could illustrate. As I got older I met others with similar interests and began writing stories for them to illustrate as well. However, I never really considered the writing part as my main job until a good friend of mine pointed out to me that I was a far better writer than an artist. Begrudgingly, I have to admit that he was right. At that point I focused more on the writing, but I still dabble in the art. Then one day I got this wild notion to write a novel. The rest, as they say, is history.
How did you break into this industry?
With comics, I worked on a few fanzines and had a few stories published in small press titles. Like most other writers, I submit to publishers and answer ads looking for writers. My big break came in late 2000 when I landed the scripting duties on Marat Mychaels’ Demonslayer comic series. The title had two mini series at Image Comics. My first issue (Demonslayer: Vengeance #1) came out in 2001 when the title moved to Avatar Press. It was my first color book and actually sold fairly well as I remember. I worked on the title, which was a series of mini series, until 2004 when the book ended.
With novels it was a little different. I wrote a sci fi novel that I admit was not very good, but I got the “I want to write a novel” bug out of my system. Eventually, I had the urge to try again. This time I joined a writing class at the University of Georgia Continuing Education Center and began working on the novel that eventually became Evil Ways, my first published novel. This time I never lost the urge to write more prose and have stuck with it.
You’ve worked on a lot of different projects with a lot of different artists. Who are your favorite artists to work with?
I love the collaboration process that you get working in comics. There’s nothing like seeing the artwork coming in. It’s a beautiful thing. I’ve worked with some talented artists like Al Rio, Jeff Austin, Marat Mychaels, Cory Hamscher, Allan Otero, Stephen Toth, Blake Wilkie, Daniele Sera, and Luis Ruben Rivera Nunez (look for us on the Yin Yang graphic novel from Arcana Comics in 2008) and I look forward to working with more great artists in the future. As for dream artists, I’d have to say that the biggies would be George Perez, John Byrne, Frank Cho, Steve Epting, Adam Hughes… I should stop here as this could become a long list.
Do you pick the artists or are they assigned by the publisher?
It depends. Most of my writing work to date has been work for hire so the publisher hires everyone. I have some artist friends I will sometimes pitch something to and see if they are interested in working on it, but for the most part I have not picked the artists I have worked with.
I see you write both comics and novels. Is there a particular genre or style that you like writing for the most?
I like to dabble in multiple genres. In comics, the sky is the limit. It’s just a matter of finding the right publisher for certain types of stories. In novels, I think I do very well with the suspenseful thrillers and the adventure stories. Writing the pulp style stories over at Wild Cat Books and Airship 27 is a fairly new thing for me that I’m enjoying, but I tend to gravitate to the thrillers. That said, were I to get a horror novel idea I would certainly give it a shot.
When we met at the convention, I have to admit the first thing that caught my eye was your “Fuzzy Bunnies from Hell” comic. Please tell me, where did that idea come from?
I would love to take the credit for this because it is such a wonderful concept, but Fuzzy Bunnies From Hell is the brainchild of Jason Shane Powell over at FYI Comics. The title and basic premise was already in place when I was hired on as writer. I was given a paragraph or two synopsis and I took it from there. At the time I did not have many opportunities to write comedy so I really punched up the comedy to accentuate this horror story.
I see there are four issues, correct? Do you have any plans to add more?
Four issues are out. I’m not sure if they are still available for reorder or not at this time. There is still more to go to finish the story, but it’s currently on hold. I do hope to see the rest of the story out one day. You can check out the story so far for free at www.drunkduck.com/FUZZY_BUNNIES_FROM_HELL/index.php?p=117638. And if you really want to know the end of the story, there is a script book available featuring the entire script for Fuzzy Bunnies From Hell available at www.lulu.com/content/1103151. Okay, enough plugs. Back to the interview.
In reading the description of your Fantastix: Code Red novel, and I was struck by how similar it’s plot line is to a very popular TV Show “Heroes”. When was your novel published?
I’ve been waiting for this question since Heroes started. The novel, Fantastix: Code Red was published in March 2006. The story was originally written in comic form in 2003, before Heroes ever aired. At the publisher’s request, I turned the comic script into novel for in late 2005 for publication in 2006.
In what ways is it similar to Heroes?
Well, it’s a super hero story for one thing. There aren’t a lot of costumes either, but there are some. When I took on the project, which, like Fuzzy Bunnies From Hell was also work for hire with the characters and a basic plot in place, I was intrigued by the thought of super powered people living in a more realistic world. It’s certainly a concept that has been done before, but for Fantastix, I felt it was important to ground the story in reality. There are some flashbacks to the days of capes and cowls though, just for good measure.
What sets it apart from Heroes?
It’s written with a different style and tone. I like to think it’s my unique take on a classic type of comic book story. Plus, it’s a different medium.
Living in the South, I totally can appreciate your Life in the Faster Lane. Where do you get your material?
If there is one project I’ve worked on that is closest to my heart, Life In The Faster Lane is it. In 1992 I took a comic course and created the characters that would eventually become the cast of Life In The Faster Lane. I was only required to do one strip for the class, but I just dove in and drew stacks of them. The main cast of characters include R.O. Nudell, his wife Honey, and his son, Mel. These three are based on my Dad, Mom, and younger brother, respectively. Most of the strips are either based on something that really happened or something one of them has said. My Dad is such a loveable character in his own right that the strips started out primarily about him, but eventually everyone got in on the act.
In 1994, the strip, called simply R.O. at the time, was picked up by a local North Georgia family magazine called Keeping Up With Kids. The magazine, and the strip, ran for 12 years. These days I have been rereleasing the older strips along with some commentary and assorted bits of trivia at http://fasterlane.blogspot.com. I even do new strips on occasion and post them as well. It’s a free site and I hope everyone who reads this will stop by. On a side note, I am planning a book collection of these strips for release sometime in 2008.
Is this an ongoing project?
Oh yeah. If for no other reason than that my family seem to enjoy them as much as I do. Plus, I like to joke to them how I own them since the characters are owned by me. Ha. Ha.
What inspired your “Evil Ways” book?
I have a friend who was interested in making a low budget movie. He asked me to write something for him to film. I wrote up an idea that he wasn’t overly crazy about. When the urge to write a novel hit again, I pulled that plot out and reworked it, keeping just a few of the main elements and started writing. Then I joined a writing class at the University of Georgia Continuing Education Center taught by Harriette Austin. Eventually that novel became Evil Ways. Evil Ways was my first published novel.
How long did it take you to write this novel?
Six months. Then it took me five and a half years to sell it. [laughs] Granted, I did go back and tweak things in that time while I was pitching it to publishers, but the main bulk of the novel was written in six months.
Of all the things you’ve written do you have a favorite and why?
Evil Ways because it was my first “big” accomplishment with writing prose. When my comp copies arrived you could not wipe the grin from my face. Plus, Evil ways opened doors for me. I was hired to write other prose work based on what editors saw in Evil Ways. On a more personal level, I would say Life In The Faster Lane because of the family aspect.
I see you have a pulp anthology “Domino Lady” coming out in April of 2008. I was so excited to Renderosity Artist Uwe Jarling did the cover art! What a small world. How did Uwe get involved in this project?
He was hired by the publisher, Moonstone Books. And let me tell you, I was floored when I saw that cover. WOW!
As a pulp anthology who else is included in this project?
Oh, we’ve got some great talent on this. Chuck Dixon, Nancy Holder, Martin Powell, Ron Fortier, Gail Mcabee, CJ Henderson, James Chambers, Lisa Bandemer, Ver Curtiss, Jeff Butler, Uwe Jarling, Anthony Schiavino, and our editor Lori G. I should also mention that The Domino Lady anthology comes out in April 2008.
What can we expect from Domino Lady?
Pure pulp fun. Domino Lady used everything at her disposal to take down the bad guys. She was smart and sexy. A lethal combination if you get on her bad side. The Domino Lady has that something special I like to call “Pulp Sauce.”
Can you share a little teaser with us?
My story is called
Target: Domino Lady.
The Domino Lady is framed for murder and her alter ego, Ellen Patrick’s current beau Inspector McCarty has been tapped to bring her in: dead or alive.
Here’s a taste.
“I’m afraid she’s stepped over the line, Miss Ellen.”
“She’s killed a man.”
“What?” Ellen shouted, alarmed. Her practiced detachment wavered. A lump caught in her throat threatened to choke her.
“It can’t be,” Ellen croaked, her world suddenly turned upside down.
“I’m afraid so, Ellen,” McCarty said sadly.
“The Domino Lady is wanted for murder.”
Thank you so much for taking the time to let us get to know you better and for joining us for “Graphic Tales”. We look forward to seeing what you write next!
Thanks, Lillian. I appreciate it.