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10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – William Levert

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 Marc Lombardi Jason Snyder
Elena Andrews Andrew Goletz Glenn Matchett Sam Tung
Arcadio Bolaños Doug Hahner James O’Callaghan
John M. Coker Erica J. Heflin Chris Page
Marc Deschamps Travis M. Holyfield Amanda Rachels

Up next is writer William Levert who has worked on two issues of the anthology.

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

William Levert: I’ve been flirting with doing comic work for a long time, but my first true break into the comic industry was thanks to Andrew and GrayHaven comics.  They gave me my first real chance to write comics and get them published, and for that I will always be grateful.

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

WL: I’ve been a comic book fan since I was a little kid.  I don’t even remember how young.  My dad used to always get a bunch of comics from the library, and forbid me to touch them because he didn’t want them messed up.  Well, I got into a lot of trouble in those days to be sure.  I really got into comics when I was in Jr. High, during the big ninety’s boom and the starting of Image and Valiant.  I’d go to a comic shop called Super City comics in downtown Cleveland every day of the week after school.  Brian Michael Bendis was working there at the time, and when he made it, it made me realize that one day, I could too.

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

WL: Oh, I read tons of comics.  I’ve always loved reading period, but comics have been my number  one pleasure.  I’m the guy on the internet who will defend both Marvel AND DC in one sided arguments.  I love those two companies, but my highest recommendations would come from more of the Independent and creator owned books.  When I really got into comics it was Valiant that ruled my heart, and they have recently been coming back with some of my favorites, and everything so far has been so good it warms my heart.  So I’d definitely suggest books like X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, Harbinger, and the recently released Archer and Armstrong to anyone.

GP: How did you get involved with The Gathering?

WL: Like many others, I’m a long time Bendis Board member on Jinxworld.  When I found out that Andrew and some of the guys were doing this thing called The Gathering I wanted to help out where I could.  Buy the books, which are phenomenal, and help promote where I could.  When I got the chance to pitch my own stories to some of their anthologies I did, and I’ve never looked back.

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

WL: The Gathering started out with a lot of guys who were just breaking into telling comic stories themselves, or those who have been telling them a while, but were getting their first chance at having them published.  When your at that point, you have a lot of worries.  What kinds of stories do you tell?  How do you juggle telling a story that’s close to your heart, but making it so that others will love it too?  The Themes of the different Gathering anthologies provided a focus.  Something that first timers could pinpoint their imaginations on without having to worry about thinking too far outside of the box.  With a theme in mind, they had somewhere definite to focus their imaginations and creative styles, and I think that helps a whole lot.  It definitely did for me.

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

WL: At first, think small.  Don’t worry about creating some vast world, or wide spanning stories that you want the masses to love and embrace.  Anthologies are a great, great way to start.  Or do small, self contained quality stories, and graphic novels to show your craft, and hone it so that people will take notice.  One day it will lead you to bigger things.  Create connections with other writers, artists, and definitely editors.  Most of all, love what you do with all of your heart.

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

WL: Have a great editor, or someone who knows what they are doing to help you out with your short comings.  The worst thing you can do is not know your mistakes and be able to correct them.  You can be caught up in your craft and never know your making them.  Ignorance is not a shield.  You have to be proactive in learning what you are doing wrong, and making it right.  It’s a big part of making yourself, and your craft the best it can be.

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

WL: Definitely.  Today there are so many more platforms you can use to get yourself off the ground and noticed.  You can self publish through various sources, get your work out there in the open to be seen.  There are small up and coming companies, like Grayhaven comics, that give guys like people not only a chance to break into the business, but work with very well known, and established creators as well.

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

WL: These sites are the biggest weapon up and coming comic creators have to get projects they want to see published off the ground.  In fact, even well known and established creators are using them to get projects they truly want to do, but couldn’t otherwise get it off the ground.  It’s a great tool for any comic creator to use.  Some will abuse this system, but that’s with anything of this sort right?  Looking at the big picture though, these sites are definitely great tools that not only deepen the talent pool of the comic industry as a whole, but it adds more diversity as well.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

WL: 2013 is going to be a big year for me at GrayHaven Comics.  I’ll have stories in the upcoming issues such as Hey Kids: Fairy Tales, Erotica, Limitless: Dark Anthology 2, An issue of GrayHaven’s horror anthology, Into the Abyss, The Gathering: War, and Hey Kids: Fantasy.  So I’ll definitely be busy, and I hope that everyone who reads these stories take some kind of enjoyment out of them.