10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – Douglas Hahner

We’ve got our third entry of interviews with The Gathering and GrayHaven Comics team! You can catch our first and second interview which we ran earlier.

Up next is Doug Hahner, one of the editors at GrayHaven Comics.

Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic book industry?

Doug Hahner: It started for me when Andrew, GrayHaven EiC, posted on an internet message board “Who wants to make a comic?”  I responded that yes I did want to make a comic, but didn’t think anything would come of it because many many people on comic book boards think it’s a good idea to make their own comics.  Some even get an issue together, but Andrew had some publishing experience so he knew what needed to be done.  Now over 2 years later we’re still going having published many books already and we have about a dozen books at different stages of completion ready for publication.

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

DH: Oh dear God yes!  My parents’ attic is full of all the comics I purchased over the years, and now my wife has to deal with my obsession.  Fortunately I have been able to drag her into my madness (thank you Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and Mike Mignola’s Hellboy), and now she reads books too.

GP: Do you read comics now? If so, what are some of your current picks?

DH: I don’t think I will ever stop reading comics.  Right now my favorites are Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt (Dark Horse), Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (DC), Saga by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples (Image), and I look forward to anytime Dark Horse puts out a new Blacksad HC by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guranido.

GP:  How did you get involved with The Gathering?

DH: It started with the comic message board.  It has always been a dream of mine to be a comic book writer, and Andrew gave me that opportunity.

GP: Each issue of The Gathering has a theme, how did that factor into the comic creation?

DH: We try to pick themes that are open enough to interpretation that we don’t hinder the writers and artists, but the stories can still be placed in that theme.  For example one of the future volumes we’re working on is War.  This book can feature historical stories, modern stories, stories about the war on drugs, futuristic war stories, or anything a writer or artist can think of dealing with War.

GP: What advice would you give to independent creators just breaking into the business?

DH: Listen to your collaborators.  Everyone is just trying to help make the story better.  On the second story that I wrote, I had a major story point happen in one panel of a 9 panel grid.  The artist I was working with, Aaron Bir, said he would draw it the way I wrote it, but it might work better as a splash or half splash.  It really made me think about the story visually, and I did a complete re-write cutting panels left and right, and ended with a much more open script that let the art breathe, and Aaron did an amazing job on the finished story.  Now if I’m writing a story and I have more than 6 panels on a page I feel weird.

GP: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned through your experiences?

DH: Take advice from everyone.  Don’t just show your script or art to your girlfriend or mom, they’ll like it no matter what.  If your editor or artist have questions on your script, don’t just blow them off thinking they just don’t get your work.  If they don’t get it, maybe you didn’t explain it well enough.  That doesn’t mean your story is bad, just that it could be clearer.

GP: Do you think it’s easier today for creators to get published?

DH: Depending on what you define as published, yes.  Creating a web comic is pretty simple now, and there are ways of self publishing through Amazon to get your work out there.  Now if you mean breaking into the Big 2 (Marvel and DC) or even the Big 5 (Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and IDW) then it is still very hard to do.  Not to say it is impossible, but it is not easy.

However just getting your work out there for the public to see is not that hard.  You just have to be really good at marketing yourself to help people see it.  Social media helps with that, but it’s a very fine line between marketing yourself and spamming your followers.

GP: How do you think technology like social networking or crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter are impacting comic book publishing?

DH: I won’t lie, Kickstarter has been very kind to Gray Haven Comics.  It has certainly helped us publish as many books as we have.  I think sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are helping many creators who need the help.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

DH: Coming down the pipe I edited GrayHaven’s Western and Romance 2 issues.  Both of them will be out before the end of the year.

Writing wise I have a story coming in our Tales From the Abyss book drawn by the amazing Leigh Walls, and something I’m very proud of, My Geek Family.

My Geek Family is a one-shot that I wrote that is a kinda/sorta sequel to the story I wrote for volume 1 of The Gathering: Hope.  While the Hope story was kind of heavy with a true life cancer scare in my life, My Geek Family is a typical Saturday in the life of my immediate family.  We are all geeks in our own ways about different things.  Should it prove successful I can certainly expand the cast to show how everyone, in every family, is geeky about something in their life.

My Geek Family will be drawn by Donal Delay.  He drew the story I wrote for Hope, and it is incredible to be working with him again.  He is such a great cartoonist on his own I’m thrilled that he’s willing to draw something that I wrote.  You can check out his web comic, The Legend of Tanin, on Gray Haven’s website at: http://www.grayhavencomics.com/category/webcomic/legend-of-tanin/