While I was attending Stonecoast, I needed to come up with a third-semester project. I knew I wanted to involve comic books somehow, but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. What I was sure of was that I wanted to take advantage of any connections I had made with people I met at comic book conventions and people I was going to school with.
So, in the same vein as my new blog feature “Friend Files” – I present to you an interview I had with Adam Gallardo, writer. I happened to meet Adam during his graduating semester from Stonecoast, back when I was green and just coming into the program. I was blown away by the fact that Adam, already a published writer (and of comic books, no less – a medium that I have loved since I was three years old), was in a program that I was attending. I watched his graduate presentation and took lots of notes and got to have a couple of words with him before he was off back to his hometown after graduation.
We became Facebook friends after that, and, graciously he accepted my request to answer some questions for comic book creators for my third semester project which I titled “Eight Simple Questions”.
Note: These are “beginner” questions for folks who are either interested in Adam’s work, interested in possibly getting into writing comics, curious about the methods comic book writers use, or if you’re just curious in general. These are very simple questions, meant to just get a snapshot of what the comic business is like for these particular writers. Tune in to later editions of this blog feature for more interviews with other comic book creators. Also, this interview is now a year old or more, so some of the publication data might be old as well.
And, now – on to the interview:
- For those people who may be unfamiliar with your work, which comic book company are you working for at the moment (or in the past), and what are your current projects?
My first comic was for Dark Horse Comics – Star Wars: Infinities – Return of the Jedi. That was a nice book to luck into writing. I followed that up with two creator-owned series. 100 Girls for a small outfit called Arcana Comics. That book was later bought by Simon and Schuster and published in a collected edition. Finally, I did two volumes of a book called Gear School published by Dark Horse Comics. I’ve also done a number of short stories, both company-and creator-owned.
Finally, I’m currently working with Arcana Comics again, writing a company-owned property called Salem’s Rain. This is a project I thought had died years ago and the publisher just contacted me about it out of the blue the other day. A fine example of how weird and fickle the comics industry can be.
- What got you into writing/drawing comic books or graphic novels?
Desperation? I had tried for a few years to break into the prose short stories market with no luck. One day the opportunity to write a comic presented itself and I decided to try it. While I loved to read comics, and even worked at a comics publisher at the time, I’d never really thought too seriously about writing them. After that first Star Wars comics, I was able to sell a couple more ideas and so it was easy to just keep rolling with it. It was entirely accidental, like so many successes in my life!
- What was the most difficult thing about breaking into the comic book industry?
As a writer? Just getting someone to read your stuff. Artists can walk up to an editor with a portfolio which the editor can leaf through in a few minutes. In those few minutes, the editor can tell whether or not the artist has the stuff. But as a writer, you can’t just hand the editor a script and expect them to read it. It’s that old catch-22: You need experience to get a job, but how do you get experience without a job? The answer used to be ‘zines or minis. These days, I think the answer is web comics. You need to show the editor that you know how to do the job. Work with someone to produce a comic and put it up on the web. Then you give the editor a business card with a URL on it and let the work speak for itself. Even a poorly drawn comic will show the editor if you know how to actually make a comic.
- What do you think about indie publishing?
This is a really broad question, but I guess I love them? The vast majority of the comics I read are published by indie companies. If superhero comics vanished off the face of the Earth tomorrow, I’d be okay with that. And I don’t think I’m putting that too strongly.
- Who was your biggest influence?
Grant Morrison and Alan Moore are two people I look up to for their inventiveness and craft. They’re also two people I’ll never be able to match in terms of talent. There’s a period of Frank Miller’s career that really inspires me – from Daredevil: Born Again through Elektra: Assassin. Nowadays, I think he’s turned into a crank is is sort of embarrassing, but those years where he was cranking out one great superhero comic after another were really something. Warren Ellis is someone I try to emulate in terms of his economy. He can do so much with a 22-page comic, it’s insane.
- What is the hardest thing about working for a well-known publisher? If you don’t work for one, what’s the hardest thing about doing things yourself?
I’ve done both and they both have their challenges. Working on a Star Wars book with Dark Horse – or, perhaps more accurately, working on a Star Wars book with LucasFilm licensing – meant working with someone constantly looking over my shoulder. They had more work and rework on the story before I was ever allowed to go to script. And then they went over that with the same amount of attention to detail. And I understand that they have a vast money-making property to take care of, but some of the changes they asked for seemed to me to be petty or arbitrary. On the other end of the scale, working with Arcana on 100 Girls meant that, to a large extent, I was on my own editorially speaking. In a sense, I self-edited those books. And, at times, it shows. The perfect balance for me was working on a creator-owned book for a large company like Dark Horse Comics. It was my property and I could do with it as I liked, but there was definitely an editor there giving me suggestions and asking my questions. They challenged me in the best possible way to create a good story.
- How do you make your own work stand out?
Do I? I don’t know. I like to feature female protagonists, which is not something you see a lot of in genre comics. And I guess I have been noticed for that. I think it was because of that that The Onion A.V. Club decided to give me a favorable review for my book 100 Girls. I also avoid superheroes; that’s another thing that gets noticed in this business.
- What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone trying to create their first comic book or graphic novel?
If I’m restricted to just one piece, I’d say, “Create something you want to read. Let go of the idea of creating something commercial. By creating something you truly love, you’ll find an audience.
If you enjoyed this interview and/or wish to know more about Adam’s work, visit the site for his publisher – Kensington Publishing Corp – where you will find info on his new novel ZOMBURBIA and its sequel…ZOMBIFIED.