1. What is your daily/weekly writing regiment?
I used to work in sales, and they most important thing they drilled into me is green, yellow and red time. Green time is the time in which you are making money (i.e. you are writing, signing at cons, going on pitch meetings, etc). Your yellow time is the stuff you have to get done administratively but they’re not making you money (i.e. responding to emails, marketing, promotions, etc). Your red time is the stuff that is completely unrelated to your job (i.e. going to the doctor, playing Diablo 3, etc).
I write 4 hours a day. Even if I’m not writing a script I’m brainstorming, writing outlines or something else. Of course if I’m in the zone I’ll go much longer, but it’s really important to block out time every day for writing. Some people are more productive later, but I’m most productive in the morning.
I also take 1-2 hours for marketing, responding to emails, etc. If I don’t set that writing time my marketing and other responsibilities start seeping into my green time and I’ll never get anything done.
2. When you write comic books, do you write for floppies (single issues) or do you write for larger formats?
I always write in arcs. I have to know where the story is going.
3. What is the most important thing about writing dialogue for a character?
Don’t overwrite, especially in comics. People, including myself, tend to overwrite dialog. In reality, most people talk in stinted sentences and shorthand. They almost never give expository dialog, even when first meeting somebody. It’s incredibly important to let the story and artwork do the job of telling the story, instead of a character.
4. What is the most overlooked rule for writing comics?
Hire the right artist. The biggest “crime” in comics is creators hiring the wrong artist. Now I’m not talking about hiring a bad artist. Very rarely do creators hire a bad artist. But they’ll hire a dark artist to do a comedy book, or somebody that does elongated features for a realistic book. It completely takes me out of the story.
If you do hire a bad artist, know this: art is the most important aspect of comics. If you have a terrible story with great art, you can still draw an audience; people will still buy the book.
The reason for that is in a comic shop customer generally just do a flip through. If they see great art, they are more inclined to buy. However, a great story without high quality art…. forget about it. You’ll be lucky to sell an issue.
I can’t tell you how many books I’ve bought as a creator for nothing but the art style. A great book is a plus, but the artwork is what inspired me to buy it.
5. What is the most important thing about creating a new character?
Make your characters three dimensional. Everybody has quirks. They have hopes, dreams, motivations, dark things in their past, etc. Nobody thinks they are an ancillary character. Nobody is one dimensional. Everyone you meet has depth.
Yet most new creators don’t make their characters three dimensional. They don’t make characters, they make caricatures.
6. What is the optimal number of panels per comic book page?
Absolutely less than 6. I generally write 5-6 panel pages. I break that up with 2-3 splash pages (1 panel pages) an issue.
7. Is there an optimal/minimal amount of description to write for a single comic book page?
Short answer is no. There are all sorts of rules about how much dialog to write for a page, but description depends on how comfortable you are with an artist, how comfortable a publisher is in you, and how comfortable you are with yourself.
8. What software do you use to write?
9. What script format do you write in?
I’ve appropriated a couple different ones. My format most closely resembles the Marvel format because those are the scripts I read when starting out.
10. When writing comics, where do you look for inspiration?
EVERWHERE. Pull inspiration from everywhere. A writer’s mind should never stop moving. If you watch a TV show and feel inspired, use that. If you’re walking down the street and see an interesting character, use that too. Inspiration comes from unusual places and if you close yourself off to anything, it will only hurt you.
• What company do you work for? Maybe it is your own or maybe it is just you – tell us.
• What comics you’ve written?
Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter
Katrina Hates Dead Shit
Find out more about Russell and his book Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter here.