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 next is artist Leigh Walls who contributed to The End of an Afternoon’s Street-Fighting which appeared in The Gathering, Volume 4: Into the Abyss.
Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic book industry?
Leigh Walls: I’ve always written and drawn comic stories for myself. Usually superheroes or robots or race comics. It wasn’t until the late 80’s/ early 90’s that I realized that it was a “real job.” I interned at the Marvel Comics editorial offices in ’94 during high school and then went to college, studying cartoon art. After graduation, I worked with a small (very small) comic company where I learned of my love of inking. After that I did a few odd jobs where I wrote or drew small comic strips that never saw the light of day until 2007 when I self-published Bloody Pulp Magazine with a couple of my college buddies, which became my first “official” comics publication. Following, I did a couple of other self-publications until I met The GrayHaven guys in 2011 through a friend of my brother’s who was also the writer of our The End of an Afternoon’s Street-Fighting story in The Gathering Vol. 4, Camille Dewing. The rest as they say – dot dot dot.
GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?
LW: A HUGE fan. I mean I think I was a fan of drawing comics before I became a fan of reading them. I remember reading comics on the floor of our shared bedroom with my brother. I think my favorites were his favorites: X-Men, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, the Avengers…
I would cherish the days when he would decide to count, what seemed like, an endless collection of comics and we would come across the books that I rarely saw because they were older than I was. He also used to get the Marvel Comics subscription where they would ship the books to your house with a paper sleeve around them. I used to read the books before he got home from school or work and put them back in so he wouldn’t know. It broke my heart when they switched the books to being shipped in a sealed, plastic baggy.
GP: Do you read comics now? If so, what are some of your current picks?
LW: I do. Not as much as I used to but, I’m still “addicted.” My old stand-bys are (The) Savage Dragon by Erik Larsen and Image Comics and Hellboy by Mike Mignola and Dark Horse Comics. I don’t pick up the Marvel or DC books as often anymore because (BEWARE! Small Rant Approaching!) I feel the books have gotten a little too mean spirited and a lot less fun.
GP: How did you get involved with The Gathering?
LW: My brother is friends with Camille Dewing, my writer for The End of an Afternoon’s Street-Fighting that was featured in Volume 4, Into the Abyss.
GP: Each issue of The Gathering has a theme, how did that factor into the comic creation?
LW: The theme was horror and Camille came to me with a story that was based on a true experience her grand-father had during THE war; WWII. So, when she came to me with it, I was thinking old-school inking and Ben-Day dots for shading (what folks sometimes call Zip-a-tone) and, of course, lots of shadow. The final image in the story, which is also the reveal, was really intimidating but, I think I pulled it off in the end.
GP: What advice would you give to independent creators just breaking into the business?
LW: Hmmm… Love what you do, first of all. This is a hard business and a lot of it is without thanks or benefit and at the end of the day, if you don’t love it, it will eat you alive. Also, just get it done. Now with Print-On-Demand and a lot of the crowd-funding options out there, you don’t have to wait for Marvel or DC for that big break.
GP: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned through your experiences?
LW: It all goes back to just get it done. The mistakes or the little things that look like big mistakes in your artwork only really look big to you. Don’t let those things discourage you and just GET-IT-DONE!
Also, be sure you make yourself leave the house at least once a day, but not when you’re supposed to be working. Take a break, once in a while.
GP: Do you think it’s easier today for creators to get published?
LW: Now I didn’t say it’s easier to get paid but, you can definitely get published a lot easier than when I first got out of college in 1998. When I printed Bloody Pulp Magazine in ’07, I was like, “That’s it?” There’s no reason why anyone who has a story and some time can’t put out a comic or a book… or with Youtube, a movie. Very interesting times, indeed…
GP: How do you think technology like social networking or crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter are impacting comic book publishing?
LW: It’s making it possible for fans to get and fund the comic or movie or book that they’ve always wanted. Not to mention the direct contact fans can have with their favorite creators almost every day of the year. I remember how much I geeked out when Erik Larsen replied to a tweet I made… or Dave Johnson or Dan Panosian! It’s really making the behind the scenes stuff accessible to the public which can be good and bad. I mean, I like the access and ability to reach my favorite creators but, at the same time, I miss being surprised.
GP: What can we expect from you next?
LW: Right now, I’m doing a horror story with Doug Hahner for The Gathering that should be ready by the beginning of the year. I’m also working on a comic book series called Trey with FacePalm Comic. I’m on the 3rd issue which should be complete in another month and a half. I’m also working on a second issue to a small book I put out last year called Guardian Knight Presents which should be ready to buy around March of 2013 and there’s a graphic novel that’s making a rumbly in my tumbly… but I can’t say when that’s going to be happening. Maybe sometime next year.