Thursday, March 12, 2015


If you're familiar with my work, you probably identity me as a cartoonist--and thank you for that. I'm worked a long time for the distinction. But it may slip your definition to think of me as a writer. With only one exception, I've always written my own comics, and I'm as proud of that fact as I am the art side of it. My friend Alicia VanNoy Call is also a writer and artist, and called upon myself and others to answer some questions about their writing. For anyone interested, here's what I had to say:

1. What are you working on right now?

I'm writing the script for issue #2 of BODIE TROLL: FUZZY MEMORIES--the newest Bodie Troll mini-series. Writing may be overstating a bit. I have the plot in a notebook and tumbling around in my head. I just need to take the next step and put it to paper. I'm also writing the next gag for NECRONOMICOMICS, though the term 'writing' is even more overstated in this case. I haven't a clue what I'm doing yet, but it'll come to me.

2. How does it differ from other works in its genre?

I think the main reason BODIE TROLL differs from other all ages comics is that many (though not all) all-ages comics on the mainstream market these days are based on existing properties--toys, cartoons, and such. BODIE, by comparison, is just from me, my interests, my emotions, my experiences. That makes Bodie a tougher sell to new readers, I think. But it allows me to keep BODIE more personal, and to do things the way I feel is best for my comic without a corporation telling me what to do and how to be most marketable.

Having said that, I am a contributing artist on the MY LITTLE PONY comic book, which is based on a toy, and does fall under corporate scrutiny. but I am pleased to say that I haven't experienced any pressure or interference in what I've done on that book at all. It probably doesn't hurt that I'm not the book's writer, who is much more in the gaze of the licensor. Plus, my style naturally jibes with the established Pony style, at least enough to please the licensor while maintaining my own artistic identity.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I entered the comics industry with my sights set on continuing the bawdy humor traditions of the underground comics movement of the 60's and 70's. I maintained that status quo on my first graphic novel, DEAD DUCK, for a few years. Gradually, I came to realize that that sort of humor wasn't really who I was. I was a shy, emotional person who loved stories with characters you could really love and root for. That changed my whole perspective on what I wanted my professional identity and creative output to be. That's why I created BODIE TROLL.  

4. How does your writing process work?

The spark of an idea comes first, and never when I'm trying to find it. I'll be on a walk, in the car, even in the shower, wherever it's least convenient to grab a piece of paper to jot down my inspiration. Once I do get it on paper, the development process comes slowly, often in the form of loose scribblings devoid of any proper sentence structure, spelling or punctuation. Doodles follow--LOTS of doodles, that will sometimes wind up in my notebook, but mostly in a separate sketchbook. The best ideas come to me when I'm in a diner, ideally ones with paper placemats that are blank on one side. Most of my comic creations started on placemats. All this rough development eventually gets piled into a typed script that also has very little proper script form initially. I write in a stream of consciousness, trimming away the fat, adding more fat, scrapping whole sections of story that I'd previously thought were brilliant, until I find the best way to tell my story. Inevitably, chunks of dialogue will get changed when I'm drawing the actual comic page, if I find a gag that's funnier, or a name or word that seems to fit better than what I'd originally written. There is no straight path or set formula for my writing. It's a very organic process that, inexplicably, works for me every time, and always within the constraint of a set page count and whatever deadline I may have.

No comments: