10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – George Amaru

We continue our interview series with members of The Gathering and GrayHaven Comics. We’ve put out the same questions to numerous individuals and can compare their responses. A hopefully intriguing interview series.

Check out our previous interviews.

Up today is artist George Amaru.

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

George Amaru: As I suppose most artists do, I started by answering ads for different assignments that were posted on some art community/comic forums.  Most unfortunately never saw print.  I finally found “real” projects with Tezlon and Wolfman Productions Interantional, as well as some other smaller publishers.  I still serve as editor and artist with Wolfman.

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

GA: Oh, Absolutely.  I’ve been reading comics on a regular basis since 1992.  Before that, I read them sporadically and was a fan of the TV shows and movies based on comic characters, most notably Superman: The Movie.  That’s where it all started for me.

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

GA: My pull list is shorter now than it used to be due to the economy and just not having as much time, but I do still buy comics every week.  Right now my main titles are Action Comics, Superman, Superboy, Supergirl, Detective Comics, Batman, Justice League and He-Man.

GP: How did you get involved with The Gathering?

GA: I participated in one of their open submissions and was chosen to work on a short story for their Romance 2 volume.  However, a scheduling snafu caused the story to be delayed to a later volume, so the second story I did was actually the first one to be published.  It was a story Erica Heflin wrote for the Fairy Tales volume.

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

GA: For me, the theme of the issue mostly determines the script that I get.  I generally don’t have input into which themes are chosen.  However, I do use the theme to help me establish the “mood” of the artwork.  For example, I worked on a ghost story for one of the young readers issues.  Though the script was already light-hearted, keeping the theme in mind helped me to decide on the visual style of the piece, which was heavily influenced by the old Casper cartoons and comics.

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

GA: I guess I can only speak to the artists reading this, but the most important thing is to get your work seen.  This is easier than ever to do with the advent of the internet and digital and webcomics.  Don’t wait for someone to find you or for something to happen for you.  You have to produce work, whether you write and draw your own webcomic and release it online for free or collaborate with other creators, or whatever, you’ve got to get product out in front of the public (and editors) and get yourself noticed.  Companies like creators who come with a pre-existing audience. Another important step is to go to conventions and get portfolio reviews.  Talk to editors from companies big and small and talk to other artists who are already working.  The point of a portfolio review is not necessarily to get a job right away.  The point is to get feedback and guidance and also to make some connections that may pay off later.

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

GA: I think one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is part of what I wrote above.  Don’t wait for something to happen.  Your dream job isn’t going to fall in your lap; you have to MAKE it happen.  Seek collaborations, answer ads on message boards, etc.  Send submissions to any and all companies willing to take them and follow up with newer samples often.  Whatever you do, whether it’s work for someone else or something for yourself, always continue drawing and practicing.  Keep working to hone your craft and always continue to grow.

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

GA: I think it is, especially if you include digital and webcomics into the mix.  The advent of print-on-demand allows anyone to get a book in print affordably.  Also, digital distribution allows creators to get their work out in front of the entire world via the internet.  While it is harder than ever to get an indy book picked up by Diamond, it has never been easier for an independent creator to get their books out to a large audience.

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

GA: I definitely see a positive impact from these sites already.  They allow smaller publishers and solo creators to get their books printed and out in front of an audience without going bankrupt in the process.  It also offers creators a way to contact and market to a large potential audience while also essentially pre-selling the book.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

GA: I am currently working on the Havoc 21 Presents series from Wolfman Productions International, where I will also debut my creator-owned title Legacy of the Falcon and other titles from my own Amaru Studios line.

I also have a great project in development with Grayhaven Comics that I’m very excited about.  It will be announced at New York Comic Con, so stay tuned for more!