10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – Jason Snyder

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 AmaruDoug HahnerJames O’Callaghan
Elena AndrewsErica J. Heflin
Arcadio BolañosTravis M. Holyfield
Marc DeschampsMarc Lombardi
Andrew GoletzGlenn Matchett

Up next is artist and writer Jason Snyder making it a dozen interviews!

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

Jason Snyder: Well, I’ve been writing since I was very young, mostly prose, poetry, script-writing, and so on that I mostly did for myself or for various classes from junior high to college. I took several     creative writing courses as well, but again, that was mostly for fun and my own self-fulfillment.

GP: As for actually trying to get into the comic book industry, it was initially mostly failed attempts at submitting. I think at one point I sent an inquiry letter to Marvel for a Spider-Man story in its then-published Tangled Webs series. Also, when Marvel made its short-lived revival of the Epic line (around 2003, I think), I put together a pitch and first-issue script for an original series; I did submit it, but the imprint died before I ever heard back. It wasn’t until GrayHaven Comics that I had my first published comic work, but more on that later.

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

 JS: Oh yeah, most definitely, though not right away. I did pick up a few random comics here and there in the ’80s. My first comic was Marvel Superheroes’ Secret Wars #4, with the cover where the Hulk is holding up a mountain in order to keep it from crushing the rest of our heroes. Great fun, and I think I picked up a few issues after that in the local grocery store, but didn’t finish collecting the series until years later. I also picked up the random X-Men or Archie comic, and at some point, I started collecting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures series that was published by Archie.

It was probably around 1991, when I was twelve, when my true love for comics began, and I started collecting Fantastic Four, then Amazing Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, and it just snowballed from there. More than twenty years later, and I’m still here!

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

JS: I read too much, if I’m being honest. I’m almost embarrassed to discuss my monthly comic budget, so I won’t! I will say, though, that I read a ton from the Big Two, as well as from Image, Valiant, Dark Horse, IDW, Dynamite, Boom!, and some of the other small press companies.

Some of my favorites right now are Daredevil by Mark Waid; Batman, Swamp Thing, and American Vampire by Scott Snyder (no relation!); Locke & Key by Joe Hill; Fantastic Four, The Manhattan Projects, and Secret by Jonathan Hickman; Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Bendis; X-Factor by Peter David; Uncanny X-Force, Secret Avengers, and Venom by Rick Remender; Animal Man and Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire; The Unwritten by Mike Carey; and Captain America and Winter Soldier by Ed Brubaker. I’m probably forgetting a lot, because let’s face it, there’s a ton of great stuff out there right now!

GP: How did you get involved with The Gathering?

JS: Andrew Goletz paid me quite a large amount of money. Don’t tell any of the other contributors! Nah, not really. The real story is that I’d known Andrew for a while from our time on Brian Bendis’s Jinxworld Message Board, and at one point, Andrew posted in one of the threads there that he was wanting to self-publish a book for new creators, so as a writer, I submitted a short two-page story called “On This Day” for the first issue of The Gathering, which was the Hope-themed issue called The Thing With Feathers. The story focused on a father who had just lost his wife and now had the responsibility of being a single parent to his daughter. The shortened format was an adjustment, but I was pretty happy with the way it turned out. Obviously, at that point, the book itself was a gamble, and we had no idea how well it would do or even if we’d do more. Fast-forward three years later, and it’s turned into far more than I think anyone could have dreamed. Of the fourteen volumes that have come out so far, I’ve written seven stories: volumes 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, and 13. The latest, Volume 14, the third horror-themed issue, actually just came out this week.

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

JS: Factor into my story for that particular issue? A little bit in terms of tone, of course. Andrew basically gave us a broad theme to work with and left it pretty open to interpretation, so you really just had to have a basic idea that allowed for enough molding, if that makes any sense. I think the only story where I really molded the idea around the theme was for the Romance  issue. It actually turned out to be one of my favorite stories that I’ve done so far.

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

JS: Advice? I could still use some advice myself! [laughs] Seriously, though, I think breaking in works differently for each person. For me, it was just being in the right place at the right time and having a connection and the motivation to put myself out there.

However, I will say that you definitely need to build enough of a writing or art foundation before you attempt to publish. Yeah, your first work — or even first few works — won’t necessarily be the best work you’ll ever do, but you need to make sure that you’re putting your best foot out there, regardless, because you never know who’s watching or reading. Also, network, whether it’s online with other creators or in some other writing or art-centric community, and always make sure to be professional, especially because the comic community is a small world, and these may be the people you’ll be working with in the future. Most importantly, whether you’re    a writer, artist, letterer, or whatever, continue to hone your craft. Do it every day, because you’re not going to get any better if you don’t.

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

 JS: You’re not going to be perfect. Even after you’re satisfied with your work and send it off, you’re always going to find something later on that you’ll say, “I could have done this better” or “I could have done this differently.” And you know what? It’s fine. Everyone does it. Don’t get bogged down in the details. Just do your best work, and let that work speak for itself. Then move on to the next project. Wash, rinse, repeat. Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy what you do, and that will show in your work.

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

JS: In some ways, sure. Self-publishing and having your work be visible is easier today than ever, mostly due to the Internet. Is it easier to get in to one of the bigger companies? Probably no easier than it was in the past. However, if you go out there and do your own thing, and people like what you’re doing, the sky’s the limit. If your goal is to work for Marvel or DC, or one of the other companies, then there’s no reason to say that your work won’t serve as a doorway to getting hired there.

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

JS: It’s a huge impact, and a very positive one. If it wasn’t for Kickstarter, I doubt GrayHaven would be as successful as it has turned out to be. The use of Twitter and Facebook, and many of the comic websites (yours included), has also served in getting word out. Even the established creators are utilizing technology to either promote their current projects or do personal pet projects that they may not be able to do through one of the other companies. So yes, I think it’s a great thing, and it can only get better and help more creators, professional or up-and-comers.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

JS: As I mentioned earlier, The Gathering Volume 14 (Horror 3) just came out this week with a   story by myself and art by Michael Sumislaski, who has also done art for many of my other stories. I also have a two-page story in GrayHaven’s Dark anthology one-shot (with art also by Michael), which should be out sometime within the next month. After that, in 2013, I have a story in the Superhero edition of GrayHaven’s Hey Kids! series, which is a continuation of a story I did for Volume 13 (both with art by Charlie Robinson), and another story for the second Sci-Fi-themed issue. I’m also doing a story for Tales From the Abyss #4, which is now GrayHaven’s         ongoing horror title; the story is being co-written by my friend and GrayHaven contributor Gary Hogan, who also has a GrayHaven one-shot called The Bid coming out very soon. In addition, I’m toying with a few other side projects, but it’s too early to mention anything specific.