Posted on May 29, 2016
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 Eric Peyron, who hails from France. I was introduced to Eric through a friend of mine, and have been an editor/proofreader on some of his works. You can see the post about it I made HERE. And since I have been working with Eric on his books, I’ve been able to see how dedicated he is to his series and so I asked him if he’d do one of my interviews and he agreed. Thanks, Eric! 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 Michael’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?
I have created my own company, Glyphs Productions, to publish my books. My first book as a writer has been the Rage: Bane of Demons graphic novel, painted by Thony Silas, who is now working for DC. Then I launched the Rage Series. The first issue of this series, drawn by Alan Quah and Stéphane Degardin, has been out since January 2016, and the second issue, drawn by Alex Nascimento, should be out in a few months. I am also working on the Worlds of Rage anthology series, which will feature shorter stories drawn by Stéphane Degardin and Yonami.
- What got you into writing/drawing comic books or graphic novels?
I have wanted to write comics ever since I read my first one, at seven years old. Writing comes naturally to me. All I have to do is describe the scenes I picture in my mind and organize it into a story. When I was in my twenties, I sent submissions to many publishers – mostly French ones since I live in France – but none of my projects have been accepted. So when I turned forty, I decided it was time to publish my own comics, and I hired Thony Silas to produce the very first Rage graphic novel. Thony has since been working on Amazing Spider-Man: Ends of the Earth, Venom and Daredevil: Dark Nights for Marvel, then on Batman Beyond and Justice League: Gods and Monsters for DC. I then hired Alan Quah, Stéphane Degardin and Alex Nascimento to produce the first issues of the Rage series.
- What was the most difficult thing about breaking into the comic book industry?
Well, for me it’s still difficult. I don’t consider myself as having broken into the comic book industry just yet. I have attended a lot of conventions in France, and I can see the difference between artists who are working for established publishers and artists who publish their own books: it’s all about legitimacy, really. When an established professional agrees to publish your work, someone whose job is to look for talent has recognized yours. If you auto-publish your books before having this kind of legitimacy, before making a name for yourself, there’s not that many people who are going to open the book and look at what’s inside. People go to conventions mostly looking for celebrities, not to discover new talent. Promotion is also a problem. The fact that I am publishing my books mostly digitally, and in print at Amazon, means that they can’t be seen yet in comic stores. The advantage of being in comic stores is that people can pick up the book out of curiosity. You get more visibility. Each time I release a new book, I am sending a press release to every comics news site and magazine I know of, but I get very few articles or interviews. All in all, I’ll tell you how I broke into comics as soon as I actually manage to do it. I’m not there yet.
4. What do you think about indie publishing?
I love indie publishing for the energy it generates, the feeling of freedom! As an artist, you can experiment with anything you want when you’re an independent. Too bad I don’t see more experimental work out there. I’d like to read about the next Robert Crumb for example, but we’re obviously in the wrong period…
- Who was your biggest influence?
My background as a writer is mostly based on the 70’s comics I read when I was younger, and the feeling of liberty they conveyed. I also love Frank Miller’s 80’s work, as well as Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Mark Millar, Geoff Johns, Brian Michael Bendis… all the artists who are not afraid to go to places most writers won’t, in order to write a really emotional and sincere story.
- 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?
When you do things yourself, you have to be good at lot of different things, which is kind of gratifying, but also very time consuming. In my case, I am able to do most everything myself: writing, lettering, editing, art directing, English translations, DTP, web design… The only thing I am not good at is drawing. You have to be organized to do all this, but if you’re a writer, organization is a huge part of your work, so it’s nothing new.
7. How do you make your own work stand out?
So far, my only published work has been the Rage stories, but I think the trick is giving your story an identity, something that makes it peculiar. In the case of Rage, the main character is also the bad guy of the story, and he is surrounded by characters that are not-so-good guys. There are no heroes in the Rage stories, not even anti-heroes. When a character is actually doing something good, I make a point of making him do or tell something wrong a few panels later. As soon as the reader begins to agree with the character, to identify with him, I tend to throw something into the scene that puts everything into question. I won’t approach every series this way, but it’s the spirit I have chosen for the Rage series, and it sure makes the dialogue fun to write.
8. What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone trying to create their first comic book or graphic novel?
I would advise aspiring artists to submit their work to established publishers first, and then to auto-publish if they feel they need to. Making a name for yourself is very important, because it’s part of your promotion. “Promotion” is when people say good or bad things about your work. “No promotion” is when they say nothing.
As for technical advice, there is a lot I could give that might help aspiring writers, but that won’t tell them how to break into the comics industry (and let’s face it, that’s what you really want to know), so I’ll wait to actually be a famous writer before giving advice (if I become one, that is).
At this stage, the only thing I can tell you is this: if you want to be an artist, you need to practice your art everyday, but if you really want to be an artist, it’s what you’re already doing anyway, so…
If you enjoyed this mini-interview with Eric Peyron, please check out his website HERE where you can find updates on everything Rage-related. And, in the meantime, if you want to support him by getting his newest book; Rage: Worm Of The Earth on Amazon HERE I’m sure he’d appreciate it. (Trust me, it’s good!) And you can also find his earlier title, Rage: Bane Of Demons HERE.