10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – Sterling Gates

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 AmaruVictor GischlerCassandra JamesJames O’Callaghan
Elena AndrewsRay GoldfieldNathan Lee JamesChris Page
Arcadio BolañosAndrew GoletzSean LeonardAmanda Rachels
John M. CokerDoug HahnerWilliam LevertJason Snyder
Marc DeschampsErica J. HeflinMarc LombardiSam Tung
Donal DeLayGary HoganGlenn MatchettLeigh Walls
Nick FrancisTravis M. HolyfieldBrad Nelson

Up next is writer Sterling Gates.

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

Sterling Gates: It’s an extremely long story. The short version is that I spent a few years working as Geoff Johns’ assistant, and through that connection I met DC Comics editor Eddie Berganza. Through Geoff’s help, I was able to sell my first story to DC in 2007, “Fear is a Baby’s Cry.”

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

SG: Absolutely. My parents owned a comic book store in Tulsa when I was a kid, so comics have been a part of my life for, well, as long as I can remember. My Dad was a huge Silver Age Marvel collector, so I’d spend hours looking at the covers of his runs of Amazing Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, and the Fantastic Four. I didn’t take ‘em out of the bags, though. Just read the reprints! [laughs]

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

SG: A lot of DC books, Avengers Academy, Daredevil, Saga, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, Batman, Aquaman. And that’s just looking at what’s on my desk right now. I’m a huge fan of what Mark Waid is doing on Daredevil, though. It’s no mistake that book won so many Eisner awards this year. It’s fun, exciting, pitch-perfect superheroism. Marks’s got such a nice handle on Matt’s voice, it’s…well, I’d think Mark were a blind lawyer if I didn’t know any better. Aquaman has a quality to it that I can’t describe. Geoff has made Aquaman cooler than cool (Editor’s note: that’s ice cold!), and for the first time in my life, I consider myself an Aquaman fan.

GP:  How did you get involved with The Gathering?

SG: It was all Gail Simone’s fault. Gail was talking about the anthology on Twitter, and I asked how she got involved and she put me in contact with Drew.

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

SG: Well, I’m focusing mostly on horror genre work with The Gathering. I cowrote a story for the Western issue with my friend Cody Cundiff, but I’ve mostly been working on horror stories for the anthology. Usually, I write a lot of superhero fiction, so I’m thankful that Drew has let me go outside my usual zones to play in genre I really love. If you’ve ever spent any time reading my Twitter feed, you’ll know that the horror genre is one of my personal favorites, and it’s nice to get to tell some stories with a horror bent.

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

SG: Read a lot, write a lot, draw a lot.

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

SG: That I don’t read enough, I don’t write enough, and I don’t draw enough.

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

SG: Yes. And there are some huge success stories in the self-publishing world, too. Look at 50 Shades of Grey, for example. It was a self-published ebook series, and now book one is the fastest selling novel of all time. Of all time! Incredible.

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

SG: It’s diversifying the comic landscape, which is wonderful. We need new stories, new types of stories out there. The other day, I wondered out loud to my friends if a romance-style comic book could find an audience online, or be published through someone’s Kickstarter efforts. Romance and Western comics were huge from the 1940s through the 60s, but publishers discovered they could make more money with the superhero books and those genres died out. With crowdfunding around, could you do modern soap opera-style romance comics? Would people want to read those kinda stories?

GP: What can we expect from you next?

SG: Besides my ongoing horror stories in The Gathering: Tales From The Abyss? I have a couple projects in the works right now (including one outside of comics), but unfortunately I can’t really talk about them until they’re formally announced. Sorry!