How many comics have you made?
I lost count of the comics I wrote, drew, and/or inked back in the paper days. Well over 100. My primary publisher was the Eternity branch of Malibu, but I did work for a few others and a lot of illustrations for RPGs. My proudest release was Grease Monkey, a graphic novel from Tor books. Since then it’s been all digital all the time.
Long form or short form, and why?
Long form all the way. Stories can take their time to expand and characters can become fully alive.
Why did you get into comics?
For the fame and fortune, obviously. (If only) I grew up in a Michigan farm town with no access to an entertainment industry, so creating comics was the only way to fully explore what was in my head. In time that became my second language. Ultimately it laid the groundwork for a career in animation storyboarding, which clicked with me immediately. (And paid a LOT more money.)
What is the aesthetic?
Storytelling uber alles. It always seemed critical to me that anyone, regardless of their familiarity with the form, could pick up one of my comics and understand what was going on. Otherwise, you don’t have much of a shot at expanding your audience past a core group. That’s a disservice to the medium itself.
What motivates the plot?
Usually an image lodges in my mind and I work backward from there to build a story that leads up to it. A plot inevitably emerges from that process.
What is your inspiration?
There are a lot of artists and storytellers I admire, but getting deep into a story and working out every little piece of it gets my entire brain fired up and focused. Achieving that level of concentration is all the inspiration I need.
What is special about your comic in particular?
Pitsberg.com is a completely experimental attempt to create a multimedia story with no thought of ever putting it on paper. Every time I work on it, I discover something else that couldn’t be done any other way. There’s no money in it, but I always wanted to reach a point where I didn’t have to chase money. Now I’m there and I don’t want to ever leave.
What is your process for coming up with characters?
They tend to grow out of the plot. They start out as tools of the story (just as we are all tools of fate) and ultimately take over the story as their histories and personalities emerge. It’s fascinating when they take on lives of their own and tell me what needs to happen.
Any comic related anecdotes?
Lots of little escapades and lucky breaks here and there. But the most important discovery I made was how much compromise is forced on you by the simple act of publishing on paper. As soon as you take on the cost of paper, you’re obligated to put something on it that will recover that cost. That guides all editorial thinking and, in my opinion, prevents truly innovative projects from ever coming to life. I like reading stuff on paper as much as anyone, but I sure don’t like being a slave to it.