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 I came up with eight simple questions and had multiple comic book writers and sometimes artists answer them and collected the interviews into one small book.
So, in the same vein as my blog feature “Friend Files” – I present to you the interview I had with comic book writer and creator Clay McCormack. I met Clay during this year’s Maine Comic and Arts Festival (MECAF!) Clay was a nice guy, and he sent the answers to his questions along via e-mail. Thanks, Clay! I know you’re a busy dude. Past installments of Eight Simple Questions can be found under the Eight Simple Questions tag on my main blog page.
Note: These are “beginner” questions for folks who are either interested in Clay’s work, interested in possibly getting into writing or drawing comics, curious about the methods comic book writers/artists use, or if you’re just curious in general. These are very simple questions, meant to get a snapshot of what the comic business is like for these particular creators. Tune in to later editions of this blog feature for more interviews with other comic book creators.
On with 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?
Well I’m the writer and artist of the online graphic novel Dead Meat, which ran for about five years before hiatus which you can see HERE, and currently I’m the artist on a book called Redline with Oni Press, which will be coming out March of next year.
- What got you into writing/drawing comic books or graphic novels?
I kind of feel like I’m a frustrated filmmaker at heart. I was big into comics and movies as a kid, and I loved telling stories, so what really attracted me to creating comics was that comics allow you an even larger scope of storytelling than movies do, but is way, way cheaper, and you can do it all yourself.
- What was the most difficult thing about breaking into the comic book industry?
The most difficult thing about breaking into the industry was realizing there was no one path, and I was going to have to forge my own way in. Fortunately the internet allowed me the forum to publish my own book with very little overhead, which was a big step in getting my work seen.
4. What do you think about indie publishing?
I think Indie publishing is fantastic. As I stated above, I probably wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t started publishing my own book, and in doing so it forced me to learn more about aspects of comics, other than just pencil art, that I hadn’t given much thought to before, such as lettering, inking, designing, formatting and printing of books, building an audience, salesmanship, etc etc.
- Who was your biggest influence?
The three books I always keep by my art desk are Bill Sienkiewicz’s The Essential Moon Knight, Jorge Zaffino’s Winterworld, and Miller/Janson’s The Dark Knight Returns.
- 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?
The hardest thing about doing things yourself is definitely the fact that you’re doing things yourself. Ironically, that’s also probably the best part about it as well. As I’m only starting my work with more established companies, the hardest part for me is giving up some of the control I’m used to as an independent, be it working with a writer as opposed to writing myself, or even having someone else color my work. There’s a certain part of my brain that I’m learning I have to shut off and realize it’s a team effort, and I don’t have final say on everything!
7. How do you make your own work stand out?
The ink used to print all of my comics is mixed with the blood of the band members of KISS. Other than that, sometimes I ink with a toothbrush.
8. What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone trying to create their first comic book or graphic novel?
Stop thinking of all the reasons why you CAN’T, and just DO IT. There are fewer excuses than ever to stop you from creating comics, and it’s the only way you’re going to get better at it. Never let your insecurities about your work stop you, because the next one you draw or write is always going to be a step forward, and better than the last. SO DO IT!
If you enjoyed this mini-interview with Clay McCormack, please check out his website HERE where you can find updates on everything he’s involved with. And, in the meantime, if you want to see more of his artwork, you can find it on Deviantart, which you can get to HERE.