Friday, July 18, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

Last week my friend and fellow CCS alum Joyana McDiarmid asked me to be a part of a writing process blog tour.  Joyana writes awesome sci-fi stories with a clear focus on the human condition as well as a heavy love of science and math. They say to write what you know and you can tell she knows her stuff when it comes to what she writes about. She has a clear understanding of how to tell an interesting story and I was honored to be included in this writing tour thanks to her. Now onto the tour!

1) What am I working on?

I just finished working on a silly comic packed full of monsters for an anthology called Monster Pie.  It's a zine that was dreamed up by horror legend Steve Bissette and fellow alum (and soon to be horror legend) Denis St John. I was super excited to be included in it, but as it's not out yet I don't want to spoil too much of what I did for it. I will say I interviewed a fellow horror cartoonist that I admire, and drew the aforementioned comic, some of which can almost be seen below...

In addition to that I am also currently working on a horror story for Joyana's anthology called Maple Key Comics.  I will be in issue 4, but there are already two great issues that are out that you can and should pick up. They are chock full of amazing comics, and I am very lucky to be a future part of it.

The horror comic I am doing will be set on an island in Maine that I spent a good deal of my childhood on. Although this is not a true story there are many elements of the island's past I drew inspiration from. The story is fully written, and I just spent a week on the island taking all sorts of reference photos, including several from an old fort on Maine's coast. 

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write horror comics, but my goal is not to gross you out. I'm not trying to pack as much gore or torture onto the page as I can. Although I love that kind of shit. My goal is to be the closet door that creaks open in the middle of the night. My goal is to be the eyes that watch unblinking from a dark part of the dense woods off the beaten path. My goal is to get under your skin and keep you up at night wondering if there just may be something laying under your bed waiting for you to fall asleep so it can crawl in beside you and put a slimy, cold hand over your mouth. I want you to sleep with one eye open, and every light on...

3) Why do I write what I do?

Because I'm fucked up in the head. It's a tough question to answer, and not one that I care to think too much about. I have always enjoyed watching movies that scare me. Whenever I am alone at night I take great pleasure in turning out the lights and trying my hardest to scare myself to the point of having to turn all the lights back on, and check every closet and cupboard for monsters. I sometimes get myself so worked up that the only way I can fall asleep after is to have a light on, and a sitcom playing on my T.V.  So I guess I write what I do because I hope there are others like me that seek that next scare, and I hope I can be the one to provide it. . . and because I make creepy look good...

4) How does my writing process work?

I start by getting a simple idea stuck in my head. Then I walk around and play with the idea a bit while I'm doing mundane things like riding public transportation or doing laundry.  If it's a good idea it stays around for a while and it becomes like a snowball rolling downhill. It gathers more and more mass until a story begins to form around it. I then write the whole story down in chunky paragraphs, as an outline of major events. This way I can get as many ideas down as fast as possible without getting stuck on little bits of dialog or specific scenes. Once I have the outline of the story from the beginning to the end I go back and write from the start again, filling in dialog for each scene that needs it, and cutting out crap that isn't necessary. Along the way I flesh out scenes, adding greater detail, or ideas on how I will "shoot" a specific panel that may help reinforce the dialog. I also try to add ways to "show" rather than "tell" the story whenever I can.  Rather than explain a scene with dialog I want my characters to show you via their actions how they feel for example.
Once I have the dialog written out I start a round of thumb nails to get a feel for how many panels I will need for a page, and where I can fit in page turns for the exciting parts.  After that it's on to penciling the comic and finally inking it. I try to get my pencils pretty tight so when I ink I'm mostly just tracing and not having to make any new decisions about how a page will be laid out.

I am passing the torch off to Aaron ShrewsburyHe is a current designer at Seven Days, and an all around comics power house, as well as an alum of CCS. I never know what I am going to get with Aaron and I think that may be what I admire about him the most. His comics almost always make me feel weird inside. Not in a bad way... just... weird.
You will also be hearing from Denis St John. Yet another alum of CCS and friend of mine, Denis makes the kind of horror comics that I wish more people cared about. Denis is destined to become a name taught to newbies in horror comics 101. He writes in an almost 70's grindhouse vibe one minute, 80's slasher fare the next, but is just as at home doing a 50's style sci-fi monster movie type of tale as well. Whatever it is he is working on, it is something to be cherished by the people who dig this kind of neapolitan horror flavor. 

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