Saturday, April 19, 2014
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Spalding Manik
1. When/why did you decide to be a comic book writer?
That is a good question. I have to contribute that to my love of reading. I love to read anything and everything. This is what really got me on the road to writing, the influx of ideas from everything I read. Fiction, Nonfiction, Physics, Philosophy, Comics, you name it I was spending a lot of my free time reading and eventually all the ideas that I read started to come together. There was one story in particular that really game me the idea I had to start writing. It just hit me, and a little voice in my brain said hey this would make a neat story. I thought about it for months, I would lay in bed thinking about each scene until I could not take it anymore. I had to write it down. So, I started writing the story down a little at a time. Originally I wanted to turn it into a novel but slowly I realized that I was in over my head. I did a little research and found that the shortest novels are about 60,000 words. That was pretty over whelming, my first story was not even close to that word count. One of my friends told me, why not just make it a graphic novel. I took his advice and have not looked back. In a roundabout way I didn't choose to be a comic writer, it sort of fell into my lap.
2. What was the inspiration behind your book Death's Life?
I am honestly not sure. I took a course in college that focused on Vietnam Literature, it was really interesting, and by far my favorite class I took while I was in school. Since that class I have always been interested in war, in general and the stories associated with it, both fiction and nonfiction. I wanted to write a story about a normal soldier who gets mixed up in a few things that are beyond him. I also have a fascination with omnipotent characters that I read about in comics, they are always so mysterious. So it was cool to put a character like that in a story of mine. War is hell, but it is very interesting to read how each person experiences it and what their story entails. I always imagined that if I had to go to war and things got bad that I could see myself curling up in a ball and asking whoever is out there to save my life. Then I asked myself, well what if someone answered that call, what then? I think a mixture of those things is the inspiration behind Death's Life.
3. How did you come about gathering the creative team with which you worked on the book?
A lot of Google searches! Seriously, that and deviant art. I sent out quite a few emails trying to get in contact with different artist. Finally I got in touch with Jethro Morales, who is phenomenal. He has actually worked on Green Hornet for DC. I do not know the extent of his time there or what he did, all I know is that he has been awesome to work with. He also knows quite a few people in the industry so he is mostly responsible for putting together the team. So he gets most of the credit there.
4. How many chapters will Death's Life span and how frequently will they be released?
The story will be 4 chapters in total. The time frame is the issue, chapter two will be released here in possibly another month or so, probably a little longer. The last two may be a little longer as my budget will be close to being maxed out. My ultimate goal is to have all 4 released before the end of the year, and I do not think that will be a problem. My fear is for those that may be interested in the story will have to wait so long in between to find out what happens next. So for all two of my fans out there I am trying to make them happy.
5. Do you have any other comics in the work or are you just concentrating on this now?
I have tons of ideas and quite a few other scripts/stories written that are ready to go. The problem again is having the financial means to fund them. If it was not for that I would have every one of my stories in front of an artist right now. I am working on a short web comic for a short story I wrote, that is posted on my site, called C.T. I contacted a local artist and she agreed to work with me on it. So my goal is to have a web comic for that story on my site to give people something else to check out if they stop by. I am also thinking about a sequel to the story and if I do that then I guess I could keep the story going making it an ongoing series. That is my plan for now, as soon as I finish Death's Life I plan to start another project right away.
6. What comic writer and/or artist would you love to collaborate with?
Johanathon Hickman or Grant Morrison or Brian K Vaughan. Between the three of them they have been a part of some of the coolest comics/graphic novels that I have read or that have been made for that matter. I would love nothing else than to just talk to them and see how they come up with their ideas and how they turn them into a story.
7. Comic book writers, such as Neil Gaiman, have also written novels. Do you have any plans to write novels as well?
I would love to write a novel and it is on my list. I have some ideas that I am working with but right now my skills are limited. I have only been writing for about a year, so I am still fine tuning my style and getting some basics down. For the time being I think my skills are limited and attempting to write a novel would prove disastrous. But in the future I will definitely give it a try.
8. What do you think of the trend of comics in television and film? Would you like to see Death's Life join their ranks?
This is a tough one, I don't know would be my final answer. Maybe a TV show but I think it would make a pretty bad movie. Plus I do not think comics in general have a good track record on the big screen (RIPD, John Carter; which I saw and did not think the negative reviews were warranted.) Wanted I think was a comic as well and kind of bombed in theaters. I also know there are quite a few out there that were successful. Honestly if the opportunity came along I would have to jump on it.
9. Why choose something paranormal as opposed to superheroes?
I think superheroes are way over-done. Plus, I think it is near impossible to break into the industry writing about superheroes again; that is my opinion. I do not think there is anything I could write about that has not already been done in that genre. I think it is interesting you ask because to me there is a stereotype that comic means superhero or someone in tights. Along with that I think most people thing comics are childish for the same reasons. I am not saying Death's Life will change any of that, but I hope someday in the near future comics will lost that stigma and be taken more seriously as an accepted form of literature.
10. Where do you see your career in the next ten years?
Hopefully retired sitting on the beach somewhere, (laughs) just kidding. My dream is that either this story of one of mine will become successful enough to where I can quit my real job and write full time. I would love to be able to do that, but unfortunately I do not have that luxury right now. Either way I think it is cool that, potentially, an idea I had could make money and I could support myself from it. I love to think about that, the power of an idea is truly amazing. I hope that I am fortunate enough to keep doing this for the next ten years and beyond.
11. Do you want to join a large comic publisher or do you prefer to remain independent? Why?
Being new to the industry I do not know enough about it to really give you my thoughts. I would say that I intend to send out Death's Life to the large publishers to see if they are interested in it. My dream would be for this story to be picked up by a large publisher so they take on the other costs. Not to mention the marketing aspect as well, that would be great. On the other hand I do not know what it would be like to write for a large comic publisher, as I doubt they would let me write what I wanted. I do not know how I would adapt to writing like that. If I were lucky enough, to write for an already well-established character I do not know if I could keep readers interested with a character that has already been through so much. That is another thing that kind of bothers me about the main stream characters in comics. They have all been through so much, sometimes more than once. When do they get a vacation, when do they get to walk away? If the opportunity came along I would have to jump on it. It would be a great learning experience if nothing else.
12. What do you hope to see in the comic book industry in the future?
I kind of mentioned above that I would love it if comics or graphic novels lose that stigma of being childish and full of nonsense. I think you are starting to see that trend now. There are a lot of comics or graphic novels out there that are great stories and full of deep meaning. So I think the trend is changing and I hope Death's Life helps with the transition. I also think that some super hero comics are doing a great job with having real world problems enter into the mix. I cannot relate to being invulnerable or being able to fly, but I know what it's like to have my heart broken or struggle to pay my bills. I love when I am reading a story and the hero has to deal with a problem like that, it makes it more real. I think the big publishers are realizing that the era of the "never do anything wrong superhero" is gone. Readers want a character they can relate to; I know I do. The truly great stories are the ones that have a mixture of these issues.
13. Out of all the longstanding titles (Batman, Superman, etc.), which, if any, would you love to take a crack at and why?
I would love to take a stab at Superman, mostly because I would change everything about him, and then I would be swiftly fired (laughs). I am kidding but I think Superman is one of the worst characters in my opinion. He is too -everything, too strong, too powerful, too good. That bothers me, he is so unreal that he is impossible to relate to. If I was to work on a character and not anger an entire generation I think I would like to write a story for Fantomex. He is a very intriguing and interesting character. I first read about him in the series Uncanny X-Force. It is not very often that you find a character in comics that is very sophisticated and quotes philosophers throughout the story. He also has this smugness about him that no matter what you say to him he will have a better come back. Fantomex is a very interesting character all across the board, I think it would be cool to write a story for him.
14. What comics/books inspired you when you were younger? What do you read today?
Confession time! When I was younger I collected comics, (I still have a big box full of them) but I never read them I just would flip through them and made up my own dialogue as I looked over the pages. Weird I know. I just hated to read, but life is not without a sense of irony. Now I could spend all day reading and writing and then writing about what I read. It is pretty weird how I love to read now, but if you talked to my high school self I would say that reading is stupid. Youth is wasted on the young I suppose. On my blog I give a pretty harsh tongue lashing about college and how it was pretty much a waste of money in my eyes but the Vietnam Class I mentioned earlier really changed my opinion of reading, that and the Da Vinci Code of course. I read that one summer when I broke my foot, so that helped as well. As for what I read now, basically anything and everything. If I have a slight interest in it and can get my hands on it I will read it comic/graphic novel, fiction and nonfiction. I read quite a bit of nonfiction because sometimes real life can be far stranger than anything the imagination can come up with. As far as comics go I have kind of gotten away from the super hero genre a little, there is just so much out there I am trying to take it all in. Needless to say that I am failing miserably.
15. Thank you for participating in the interview! Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
I actually grew up on a farm about 50 miles from Louisville in a small town. I often go back home to help my dad with anything he needs done. It is nice to take in the sweet crisp country air, filled with the titillating smell of cow manure. I am a huge soccer fan. I played in college and will do almost anything to watch my favorite team Manchester United. I have seen them play three times, twice in the states and once at Old Trafford where they beat Aston Villa 3-0 to clinch the Premiere League title. That was truly an awesome experience, plus it was Sir Alex Ferguson's final season. It just made it that much more special.