News: Graphic Tales: Interview with Sean Taylor
Friday, February 01, 2008
“Graphic Tales”: Interview with Sean Taylor
Lillian Hawkins [LilyHawk]
“Graphic Tales” resurfaces with an interview with Sean Taylor, comic book writer, creator, editor and letterer. After meeting Sean at the Nashville Comic Book and Horror Festival I just had to know more about the interesting writer behind the Gene Simmons Dominatrix comics.
Thank you for your willingness to do an interview. I see that you are a very busy, and well rounded kind which includes being a husband, father, friend, writer, comic book creator/editor/letterer, coffee nut/barista, cat fanatic, musician/songwriter, web designer, self-professed postmodern existentialist Christian mystic, to name a few things.
I’m also told that I’m really full of crap, so take anything you read on my website with the proverbial grain of salt. I’ve been called several other things as well, but therapy is helping me live with the pain. But barista is completely true — I make a hell of a cappucino. Like drinking whipped up coffee air.
I like to live in the dichotomies of life as much as possible. I’m probably too religious a person to write the comics I’m writing, but I’m also probably too big an irreverent jackass to write conservative religious curriculum, but somehow I manage to walk the line between the sacred and the profane well enough to enjoy doing both. It’s a fun life, I tell you.
After reviewing your website I have to say I am very impressed with all the different activities you have going on!
[Sean’s current projects include:
the Gene Simmons Dominatrix comic book series with IDW Publishing
Shan: Be My Hero a graphic novel with VLE Comics
The Veil comic book series with Rogue Wolf Entertainment
Last Chance School for Girls with artist Jesus Antonio for Arcana Comics
Show Me a Hero a prose short story collection being shopped to agents
Kasume No Josei a short Japanese horror comic story with Scott McCullar
Co-Plotting a tie-in project with fellow Shooting Star alum Erik Burnham to Arcana Studio’s War of the Independents which will feature Cyberfrog, Fishnet Angel, Nick Landime, and Phantom Jack
Sweetly Felt the Dream an iHero-based short for Terminus Media, with penciller Dustin Griffen, inker Luis Alonso, and colorist Luis Antonio Delgado
Pitches to Heavy Metal (with several fine artists, including Esteve Polls, Ricardo Sanchez, and Martheus Wade) and Tales from the Crypt]
Unless you have mastered cloning, or time bending, how in the world DO you keep up with all of these different projects?!
I try not to sleep more than 16 hours a day for starters… I don’t know. I just work on the main gigs for the bulk of my time, and in between scripts, I’ll hammer out a few pages for some of the side projects. It’s more about keeping busy to avoid vegging in front of countless DVDs than it is about trying to manage my time. I figure I could either waste time in front of the TV or actually get off my butt and attempt to make myself rich and famous. Or at least regularly employed.
How long have you been working as a comic book creator/editor/letterer?
How did you get started in this industry?
I got my start in the pages of Shooting Star Comics Anthology. Some friends and I started our own company and took the bull by the balls to show this industry we meant business. I had previously been a magazine editor, so I became the editor-in-chief of the company and helped us to develop publishing plans and publication schedules. As for the lettering, I was too broke to hire a letterer, so I learned how to do it myself in the stories I had written, and thankfully, there was helpful information all over the Internet. We had a blast putting out our books and eventually branching out to do other people’s work too, such as the critically acclaimed Children of the Grave and one of the graphic novels in the Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa series, and I was able to publish my Fishnet Angel: Jane Doe miniseries as well, but when it came time to close up the shop and move on, we instinctively knew it, and we all moved on to find our new places in the comics world. Fortunately several of us have landed in various spots from AC to IDW and beyond.
What is the one comic that you are most proud of and why?
You know, I’m really proud of all my work, but I think Gene Simmons Dominatrix is the one I’m most proud of right now. It’s tough work to take an idea that people enter into with so many assumptions about and leave your mark on it enough to make those same people come out on the other end saying things like it was not what I expected or it surprised me. And let’s be honest, the idea of a practicing dominatrix could easily be derailed into either camp or porn. And neither Gene, IDW nor I wanted this book to become Stripperella, back shelf leather porn, masturbatory bondage fiction or worse, the campy scenes from Mel Brooks’ Hi Anxiety. To be able to keep the book sexy and cheesecake-esqe but still manage to tell a story about a woman trying to find her life and reclaim it from the forces trying to dismantle it, well, that makes me very, very proud.
Do you have favorite artists and cowriters that you like to work with?
Absolutely. I’m absolutely in love with working with Esteve Polls, the new artist on Gene Simmons Dominatrix. He draws beautifully detailed backgrounds, and I’m swooning for any artist who devotes time to backgrounds and faces. Any lugnut with a set of pencils can draw big muscled people in underwear beating the crap out of each other nowadays it seems, but it’s the rare artiste who provides the context of faces that speak volumes and backgrounds the give the illusion of a real place and time in a comic.
And I’m working with an artist named Martheus Wade who is one of the best martials artists I’ve seen in years. His fight scenes are some of the few in comics that actually make sense. You could just about map them out panel by panel and verify the follow-through on the punches and kicks. If you’re not reading his book Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa, you really should be.
How did you get hooked up with Gene Simmons and IDW?
I’ll give it to you straight and honest. It’s a case of being in the right place at the right time. It’s as simple as that. I really believe that’s what this business is about. Back when I was editor-in-chief at Shooting Star Comics, I edited a book called Children of the Grave by Tom Waltz and Casey Maloney. When that book was later picked up by IDW as a trade paperback, some things fell into place for Tom and he ended up as the editor of the Simmons line of books at IDW. And he contacted me about writing what he described as a book with a strong female lead and some potentially disturbing subject matter. And well, how could I say no to an invitation like that?
I see from the Simmons Comics Group website that Gene was the creator the Dominatrix concept. What’s it been like working with Gene on this comic and on the Gene Simmons House of Horrors?
These are all Gene’s babies. He has the ideas and he trusts his writers to run with them and build on them. Gene’s been great to work with because he does have that level of trust in us to basically turn over the keys to his kingdom and move in right after he builds the framework of the castle. And to be honest, my dealings have been more with my editors at IDW than directly with Gene, but he has certainly added or changed things from time to time to ensure that the books stay in line with his vision. But he doesn’t do that in a didactic or heavy-handed way. I really appreciate the trust he has put in me to let me play with his toys, so to speak.
Are there a set number of issues planned for the Dominatrix series?
The first arc, Daylight’s End, will run for six issues. After that, well, just like anything nowadays, that’s up to the fans to tell us how badly they yearn for more. That said, I’ve got Dominique’s adventures plotted out well into multiple years of stories, and I hope to stay with her and her friends and enemies for an awfully long time.
I’m a big fan of Heavy Metal and Tales from the Crypt. Do you have any pitches you would like to tease us with?
I’m actually working up stories to pitch to both of those books. Unfortunately I can’t tease you too much except to tell you that space cowgirls can be sexy and dangerous and that grandma’s house can be much scarier than a cemetary, especially if you have the right grandma.
In addition to your busy convention schedule, what are your plans for the future?
I’m always working about six projects out, and I have a list of the way too many projects I’m in various stages of involvement with on my website at www.taylorverse.com. Some folks might think it’s a little too premature to mention things as early as the concept and pitch development stage, but I like the idea of being an open page, and I’ve really never have been one for doing things the way I’m supposed to. The beauty part of having so many things in development is that I’m never hurting for something to write. There are a few things I do want to mention specifically though.
Shan: Be My Hero is a romantic high fantasy graphic novel I’m writing for VLE Comics based on a short story by Stephen Antczak. It tells the story of a woman warrior named Shan who has become the local hero and the village that loves her. It simultaneously tells the story of a man no one would have ever expected to do anything heroic. And there are also lots of fantastic creatures and a multi-armed giant. I really like that it’ll be released by VLE directly as an original graphic novel since that gives me the freedom to pace it more like a novel and not have to think of it in terms of 22 pages and then a cliffhanger. I can really let the character breathe in the OGN format, and let the story unfold at the best speed for the the book instead of in a format that is dependent on a monthly publishing schedule.
The Veil is a new series I’m writing for Rogue Wolf Entertainment, and if you are a fan of supernatural intrique and secret government agencies, you’ll dig this book. At it’s core, it’s a lot like Alice in Wonderland, but with the twist that Wonderland is a sinister, evil place, and it’s trying to creep over into our world. Only a select few agents are able to protect our world and keep the public blissfully unaware of the real danger all around us every second.
Last Chance School for Girls is a miniseries I’m working on for Arcana Comics. Jesus Antonio is drawing that one, and it features young adult characters in the lead roles. I cut my teeth reading books like Titans and classic X-Men and Legion of Super-Heroes, but I didn’t want to give this one such an innocent teenage quality, so instead I darkened the hell out of it and gave it a very Suicide Squad edge. It’s been a lot of fun to write so far, and I can’t wait to show off Jesus’ art. It’s going to blow people away.
I’m also working on a dream project for a short story that reunites me with my fellow Shooting Star alum, Scott McCullar, called Kasume No Josei. It’s a traditional Japanese ghost story created by two western storytellers who have had their heads in Eastern culture for a long time.Beyond those, I’ve got several things in the early stages, such as a book featuring Jesse James and Mayan mythology that I’m working on with artist Kurt Belcher from the Alterna Comics book Sleepers and a book called Quinn: The Reckoning that I’m working on with Jetta artist Martheus Wade. That’s one that’ll be sure to get me in hot water again, but you’ll have to wait to learn more about it as it gets closer to being published. Another in-development book I’d love to plug early on is one Richard Kohlrus and I are working on called Victor’s Parrish. It’s the most unique take on the story of the Frankenstein monster I’ve ever seen, and Richard’s love for the monster really shows in his artwork. I can’t wait to share that one with people.
I bet you’re sorry now that you asked this question. Aren’t you?