10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – Ray Goldfield

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 AmaruNick FrancisTravis M. HolyfieldBrad Nelson
Elena AndrewsVictor GischlerNathan Lee JamesJames O’Callaghan
Arcadio BolañosAndrew GoletzSean LeonardChris Page
John M. CokerDoug HahnerWilliam LevertAmanda Rachels
Marc DeschampsErica J. HeflinMarc LombardiJason Snyder
Donal DeLayGary HoganGlenn MatchettSam Tung

Up next is writer Ray Goldfield who makes it number 25 in our interview series with The Gathering team.

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

Ray Goldfield: It’s been a dream of mine to write in comics for a long time. Like many fans, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would do if I got to write my favorite characters, but it wasn’t until recently that I started focusing on telling my own stories through independent comics. The Gathering is my first published comic work.

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

RG: I’ve been reading comics consistently since I was 8 years old. I first dipped my toe in the pool with the Archie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic, an obsession for me as a child. From there, Superman died, Batman got his back broken, and Green Lantern went crazy, and a lifelong obsession was born, heh.

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

RG: Oh, yes. I still read pretty much the entire DC line, a good chunk of Marvel’s, and any independent comic that catches my interest. Some of my favorites at this moment are Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, Vertigo titles The Unwritten and Sweet Tooth, Image miniseries Planetoid and Grim Leaper, and Oni Comics’ supernatural western The 6th Gun. And a lot of others. I could go on all day, really. But by far the most rewarding experience I’ve had in comics recently is breaking out of the superhero groove and starting to buy more independent and creator-owned comics.

GP: How did you get involved with The Gathering?

RG: Before Andrew was our editor in chief, we were both posters on the Jinxworld message board, and regulars in the DC Comics Megathread I started a few years earlier. After several years of talking comics with him, I was definitely excited when he told us he was developing a new anthology comic and wanted to include many of the DC Thread regulars as writers, if we were interested. It was a great experience, and since then I’ve been pitching to later waves when inspiration hits me.

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

RG: It’s definitely both a challenge and an inspiration. There have been some themes that have just stumped me, but turned into amazing volumes. On the other hand, there were times where a theme that seemed challenging at first, like the upcoming True Ghost Stories, wound up sparking an idea for me. I find the variety of themes to be very helpful in breaking me out of the superhero groove I was stuck in for a while.

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

RG: Write, write, write. Then write some more. Write whatever you’re interested in, even if you don’t have a place to have it published right now. Practice is a good thing. I would also say to find a good friend, preferably a fellow writer, to bounce ideas and scripts off of. Learning how to polish a script is almost as important as learning the basics of writing, and you’ll need both if you want to go pro. And finally, make sure you’re getting out there and pitching. There are a lot of anthologies out there (including ours!) that are taking pitches from new creators, and independent work is a great way to get your name out there.

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

RG: I’ve learned a lot during my time at GrayHaven Comics. But probably the most important lesson is how to take constructive criticism. The perfect first-draft script is almost as rare as the unicorn, and when you send it in, corrections and changes are almost inevitable. The first time you open your e-mail and see that red font, it can be a bit daunting. But virtually every writer, from the newcomers to the big guns, likely goes through the same thing, and it’s important not to get discouraged. And there’s nothing more satisfying than learning from past mistakes and turning in a script that needs little to no editing. Also, I would say it’s important to develop a rapport with your artists. Keep the lines of communication open throughout, and be ready to take input from them on how to make the script stronger. I’ve been lucky to have great creative partners like Kent Holle, Nathan James, Fred Stressing, and Jeremy Carson in my time on The Gathering, and they’ve all helped to make my stories what they are.

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

RG: In a sense, yes. The internet has opened so many doors for like-minded individuals to find each other and get a comic together, much the way GrayHaven did. However, I think there’s a double-edged sword to that. While it may be easier to get a comic off the ground, it may be harder to get noticed, since the independent comic book has experienced a boom with a lot of great product. It’s important to keep on your feet and look for what’s working and what isn’t. That’s why the constantly shifting themes of The Gathering help us, I believe – with each volume, we can see what’s catching on with the readers. For instance, strong sales for our Horror volumes led the company to launch an ongoing Horror anthology, Tales from the Abyss, launching later this year.

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

RG: I think this is very tied in with the increased opportunities for independent comic book publishing, in that it’s definitely a great opportunity for a lot of talented creators. But at the same time, there is an added pressure when your supporters have “skin in the game”. They expect quality, and with so many comics seeking Kickstarter support, it’s a very competitive field. Overall, though, it’s an amazing net positive if you know how to use it.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

RG: On the writing end, right now I’ve got stories coming up in several volumes, including Romance 2 and Pulp Heroes (edited by Doug Hahner), Fairy Tales 2 (edited by Glenn Matchett), True Ghost Stories (edited by James O’Callaghan), and a six-page story in the second issue of Tales from the Abyss (edited by Glenn Matchett and Erica Heflin). I’m also in the process of developing a Phase Two project, based on an idea that’s been kicking around in my head for a long time. More on that as it develops, heh.

I was only brought in as an editor a few months ago, so the first volume under my purview won’t be hitting till next year, but it’s already shaping up impressively. The theme is Fantasy, under our growing “Hey Kids” banner. Editing my first volume has been a challenge, but my writers have been making it easy on me, with a lot of them turning in incredibly polished, clever scripts well ahead of deadline. And open submission season is right around the corner with a new Hey Kids volume that I’ll be steering.