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10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – Victor Gischler

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 Amaru Nick Francis Travis M. Holyfield James O’Callaghan
Elena Andrews Andrew Goletz Nathan Lee James Chris Page
Arcadio Bolaños Doug Hahner William Levert Amanda Rachels
John M. Coker Erica J. Heflin Marc Lombardi Jason Snyder
Marc Deschamps Gary Hogan Glenn Matchett Sam Tung

Up next is writer Victor Gischler.

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

Victor Gischler: I started as a novelist, and I was very fortunate that an editor at Marvel noticed my work and worked with me on ideas for Punisher Max.  The gritty tone of my crime novels suggested I might be a good fit with a Max title.  A Punisher one shot was the first thing I ever wrote for comics and it did well enough that I was able to write a 4-issue arc for Punisher Max.  That went over pretty well too, and more Marvel work followed.  I’ve now also done work for Dark Horse and Dynamite now, but I’ll always appreciate what I learned scripting those first Punisher issues.

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

VG: Yes.  From ages 7 to about 15 I read a ton of comics.  The Frank Miller run of Daredevil was a huge influence on me, but I enjoyed quite a variety of things.   Then when I went off to college there was a huge gap of many years when comics just didn’t fit into my life, and I was always broke anyway.  Then about six years ago, I really started picking up comics again, catching up on what I’d been missing.

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

VG: Well, I’m still playing catch-up.  I’ve been reading trades of Red Sonja and Buffyverse stuff from the Dark Horse Digital Store.

GP: How did you get involved with The Gathering?

VG: I bumped into Marc Lombardi on Twitter and found out about it.  It occurred to me I really didn’t have a lot of experience writing shorts, and I wanted to sort of test myself to see if I had the control and patience to write one.  It was a good experience.  It’s not an easy thing to fit a complete, satisfying story into 3-4 pages.

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

VG: It really helped me focus to have a theme.  Most new writers hate the idea of “limitations” but more experienced writers know that often a limitation will help spark creativity.  So I think I got the ball rolling a lot faster having a theme to focus on.  Ironically, I *think* the story I wrote actually ended up in a different issue than the one I intended, but I might not be remembering that right.  You’ll have to check with Drew and Marc.

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

VG: Write SOMETHING.  Just get it out there where people can see it.  I mean, yes, make sure you’ve written it well, revise it, all that.  The work has to be your best.  But after that it needs to be seen.  Nobody will blame you for submitting to the big places, but if that fails just get it out there anywhere you can.  When I first started, I published short stories in zines and on websites for no money.  You don’t want to do that forever if you’re looking to have a career, but it’s a perfectly acceptable training ground.

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

VG: Listen to your editors.  They know the readership and the characters. Their goal is the same as yours – to produce the best product possible.

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

VG:  Not sure since I wasn’t doing this in the “old days.”  I’ve been writing for a long time, but only scripting comics for about 5 years.  But it seems like there are more publishers, digital publishers, just a lot more outlets available … so that’s encouraging.

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

VG: It’s giving readers a chance to vote on what they really want with their dollars.  Publishers are putting out a ton of great stuff, but they can’t do everything.  It’s good that creators have a way to appeal directly to readers.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

VG: Well, my first issue of Spike hits in this week and my first issue of The Shadow hits in October.  A handful of creator-owned things at various stages.  Exciting times.