10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – Travis M. Holyfield

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.

George AmaruErica J. Heflin
Elena AndrewsMarc Lombardi
Andrew GoletzGlenn Matchett
Doug HahnerJames O’Callaghan

Up next is writer Travis Holyfield who has contributed to The Gathering volumes 2, 6, 8, 9 and 11.

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

Travis Holyfield: Through the good people at GrayHaven. I’d been writing for years, and trying to figure out a way to break in and get some of my work out there into the world. GrayHaven gave me my first shot at being published, and I will always be grateful for that.

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

TH: Lifelong fan. I taught myself to read when I was three with The Electric Company and Thor and Iron Man comics.

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

TH: I absolutely read comics now. I’ve got a weekly habit, and I cannot muster the patience to wait for the trade.  I still read and enjoy just about everything Marvel puts out. I’ve been on board with Kirkman’s Invincible and Walking Dead since their first issues. Hickman’s Manhattan Projects, Vaughn’s Saga, and Fraction’s Casanova are probably my three favorite books on the market right now. I also recently discovered Danger Club, and I’m really enjoying every minute of that book.

GP: How did you get involved with The Gathering?

TH: I knew Andrew and the rest of the staff via the Bendis Board. They all knew I wrote, and Andrew approached me for the second volume of The Gathering with the opportunity to write something for them, and have it drawn by one of my best friends, Pat Loika. I jumped on it with both feet.

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

TH: It’s been a really amazing writing exercise for me to have a specific theme or setting handed to you and to then develop a short story around that theme. It’s given me the opportunity to dip my toe into genre waters I’d never have thought to pursue otherwise, like romance.

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

TH: Focus on doing the best work you can, have fun doing it, and surround yourself with positive people who are similarly committed to making awesome comics. A professional told me at one point, “Nobody gets anywhere in comics just making stuff with their friends.” But I think the GrayHaven staff have proven that to be more than a bit of an overstatement.

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

TH: The absolute value and pure joy of the collaboration inherent in making comics. The best writer in the world can’t make a decent comic without an artist who is committed to seeing that vision delivered on the page. And having a solid, knowledgeable editor to steer the ship is crucial.

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

TH: There are certainly more avenues available for publication than ever. Webcomics alone offer huge possibilities for people to see your work. But you still have to do the work and make the comics first.

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

TH: I think it’s very exciting. It’s democratized the process in a lot of ways. Who gets published and who gets their work noticed can be based on non-corporate decision making, which can be great. But I do worry that it takes creators who should be spending their time creating, and it puts them in the position of having to constantly hustle for attention. Sometimes the person who makes it isn’t the person who’s doing the best work, but is the person with the most Twitter followers. That makes it less of a meritocracy and more of a popularity contest. Then again, maybe I’m just bitter that I don’t have more Twitter followers.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

TH: I will have stories appearing in the Western and Romance volumes of The Gathering, coming later in 2012. Next year you can see my work in the Crime volume of The Gathering, as well as stories in Hey Kids: Superheroes, and the third installment of Tales from the Abyss. 2013 should also see GrayHaven publishing my one-shot comic, The Great Caper of Crime, created with artist Edward Whatley, and based on the characters from our story “Timesheet” in the Silver Age volume of The Gathering.