So Brandon Easton is this prolific writer who knows how to set goals and more importantly doggedly follows through, often to extremely satisfactory results. He came to L.A. with the intention of becoming a working screenwriter and has begun to find success. He practices what he preaches and constantly reaches out to aspiring film and comic book writers with his popular podcast. We spoke at some length.
Who are you, where are you from and where do you live now?
I’m Brandon Easton, born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and I have since relocated to Long Beach, CA.
Let’s go back in time, what was the first comic book that you bought, and what were some of the books that turned you into a fan, and eventually a creator?
The first comic I bought was a MARVEL TALES reprint of an early issue of Amazing Spider-Man by Lee and Ditko. I believe it was the one where Peter Parker fights Flash Thompson in the boxing ring. Great stuff.
There were SO many books that made me a fan. Early stuff was the Marvel Tales Spider-Man reprints, later on it was the Claremont X-men run, Superman, Star Wars and Star Trek comics. The books that made me want to be a creator was all the 80s grit – Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Frank Miller’s Daredevil run, anything with Spider-Man, John Byrne’s reimagining of Superman.
I know you went to Ithaca for film school, correct? Were you alone in your geekdom?
No, I went to Ithaca College for undergrad, studying Sociology, I went to grad school at Boston University for Film & TV Screenwriting.
Oh, my bad.
Let me take it back a step then. Did you pursue a Sociology career and then decide to go to Boston University? Or was it always a plan to become a writer?
While at Ithaca I wanted to attend their film program (the Park School of Communications) but my finances were non-existent, so I decided to study Sociology because it interested me on many levels. I took a ton of writing courses there and my professors realized I had talent and helped me to cultivate that. I had plans to be a film director for many years but writing had a stronger pull.
I understand that pull my friend. So you went through the screenplay program, what were your next steps in pursuing your dream?
After grad school, I moved to NYC and got a gig writing comics with Pat Lee’s Dreamwave Productions. That lasted for about a year and then things got tight in the industry and I started teaching History and Communications in NYC public schools until September of 2008.
I then decided to take the biggest chance of my life and moved to LA to give my Hollywood dreams a serious shot.
I remember that I first “met” you on BlackSuperHero.com, you already had your Shadowlaw project in germination. Were you working on this during you teaching days? And when did you decide to go the indie route with the Graphic Novel?
After my Dreamwave days I couldn’t get work to save my life. My friends told me that I would have to produce my own work in order to get attention in the industry. Shadowlaw was based on an abandoned screenplay concept I had from college and I converted that into a comic book idea. I began production on Shadowlaw back in 2004. I went that route because it seemed impossible to get work at Marvel and DC. Heck, even smaller publishers kept their ranks tight.
So you brought Shadowlaw with you on your move to Los Angeles. When and how did you find a publisher?
I had created a pitch package for Shadowlaw in 2005 and was shopping that around to independent publishers. Eventually, Arcana Comics got back to me and I signed with them after Wizard World 2006 in Chicago. But Shadowlaw wasn’t completed when I moved to LA, I assumed it was going to be done by the end of 2009. I eventually hired and fired 8 different art teams before it was completed in 2010.
What!? You’ve got to tell me a little bit about your experiences with artists. What happened?
Flakiness, immaturity, cynicism, greed. All the typical reasons comic book artists back off of projects. Some felt they weren’t paid enough, others realized they couldn’t do what I wanted them to do, and still others believed there was another project with greater prestige over the horizon.
Yeah, figures. Unfortunately, I’ve had similar experiences. You’ve been in Long Beach for a while now and you’ve had some success in Hollywood beyond Graphic Novels. Tell me about that.
I hustled hard upon arrival and after two years got a gig writing a script of the new ThunderCats series. It was a hell of a coup and I was ecstatic to work on the series. In that short time, I learned much about the industry and how it operated from within.
I also got hired to write an episode of the new Transformers: Rescue Bots series. Also a great learning experience.
You dont have to go in depth if you dont want to, but what are some of the pitfalls other aspiring writers can avoid if all possible?
Ha! I discuss that in great depth on my podcast WRITING FOR ROOKIES (http://writingforrookies.podcastpeople.com/) which might be the only podcast for aspiring sci-fi and comic book writers. The first thing is to make sure you have an idea. So many new writers have concepts, but not workable ideas and rely upon a vague assurance that things will magically come together. Writing is damn hard work and takes true dedication and skill. Too many wanna-be writers assume that the process is easy and wind up making a fool of themselves. Writing is a craft, and some would say and art form that requires years of practice, trial and error. So I would tell anyone to prepare by reading a lot, writing alot, taking a few classes on literature and storytelling and listening to established professionals who take the time to give practical advice. Too many new writers don’t listen.
Man, I’ve got tons of other questions, but this column is only so big. Finally, tell me what your opinion is of the indie comics scene, and the Black indie scene in particular?
Indie comics are experiencing a renaissance since so many incredibly talented people are putting out quality books every month. The problem is that the comic book industry is notoriously horrible when it comes to marketing and promotion and the audience isn’t aware of all the great stuff that’s available. With Black indies, the same thing applies. However, the issue is that Black creators are torn between seeking a mainstream audience and marketing directly to Black comic book readers. Another problem is that a lot of Black comics fans don’t support anything indie so the Black indie titles are doubly ignored.
A sobering truth, unfortunately. Well, Brandon, it was great chatting with you. Thanks for the time.
You’re welcome, and thank you!
Andre Owens has been hiding in Los Angeles for over 15 years, a former Director of Photography, he now writes and publishes the cosmic comic, Force Galaxia. He is currently writing and plans to produce a webseries, The Psychedelic Detective. In his free time he enjoys long form television, sushi and a celebration of all things 420. His name’s not Supergreen!
By Andre Owens