10 Questions for B. Clay Moore

B. Clay MooreB. Clay Moore is a prolific writer known for a variety of projects including Hawaiian Dick, Expatriate, Battle Hymn, ’76 (all for Image), Superman Confidential, JSA Classified (for DC), Casey Blue: Beyond Tomorrow (WildStorm), Black Vault (Top Cow), and The Leading Man (Oni). In addition, he has an upcoming project for Oni called Billy Smoke.

Clay lives in suburban Kansas City. You can find out more about his work at bclaymoore.wordpress.com and www.hawaiiandick.com.

Question 1: When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics for a living?

Several years ago I was dabbling in comic book writing, and whining to my pal J. Torres about whatever crap job I was working at the time, and he said, “Have you thought about writing comics full-time?” It was the first time I remember thinking that I should figure out a way to make that happen. So, as I got more involved in the industry, I began to angle toward finding ways to do comics full time. I sucked at everything else I ever did, so…

Then again, as a kid my goal was to be John Byrne.

Question 2: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

My parents. Whether they understood the decisions I made in life or not, they always supported me. My mother, who passed away in late 2007, encouraged my creativity from an early age, and always stood up for me when I needed help (which, frankly, was a lot of the time). She was a very creative person herself. My father has the most intimidating work ethic I’ve ever seen, and has achieved tremendous success through hard work and dedication. But he always tempered his business and political success with a commitment to the community and to helping improve the lives of those around him. Despite all that, his dream job is to be the drummer for the Rolling Stones. His sense of humor and enthusiasm for life has had a big impact on myself, and I think my sister would say the same thing.

Question 3: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

That’s hard to say. I guess Eric Stephenson and J. Torres had the biggest direct impacts on my career, J. by pushing me out there and helping pull back the curtain on the industry, and Eric with his support of my work at Image and friendship over the years.

In terms of influence, I think I absorb a little bit from everything I read, see or hear. Speaking strictly in terms of comics…as a kid, it was Stan Lee, the Byrne/Austin X-Men, Steve Gerber, Roger Stern and Bill Mantlo that turned me on. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and Grant Morrison’s Animal Man completely turned my head around and made me realize what kind of potential there was in “mainstream” comics. And then James Robinson’s Starman, combined with Warren Ellis’s StormWatch, DV8 and Authority, helped point me in the direction I wanted to head.

Ellis, in particular, taught me how dialogue could be used to develop a character in relative shorthand.

Question 4: What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

Hawaiian DickI usually stop writing and dig out some inspirational movie or book. Or, more and more, some well written television series (usually British these days). Right now I’m knee-deep in Band of Brothers, which is the kind of thing that just fuels the creative fire.

Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.

I don’t have one, to be honest. Generally I type up a loose idea, think about it for ages, do a rough outline. Then, when inspiration strikes, I’ll usually just plow through a script in one sitting. Sometimes I’ll tackle a script in pieces, though, scripting a scene here and a bit there, and then editing all of that when I sit down to finish it. My “rewrites” usually consist of minor tweaks. One of my goals for 2009 is to develop a more consistent routine.

Question 6: What writing, drawing, or other tools do you use?

Moleskine notebooks and a Sony Vaio laptop. I’m kind of a journal freak, though, so I’m always picking up interesting looking journals. So I have notes on various projects scattered throughout numerous half-full journals.

JSA ClassifiedQuestion 7: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

I love reading something I wrote months ago and finding myself entertained by the dialogue. I think dialogue is my strong suit, so it makes me feel good to read something I’d totally forgotten about writing and getting a kick out of it.

Yeah, I’m the dude who picks up his own books in the shop and chuckles over them. What a dick.

I suppose I get my greatest satisfaction, though, from developing a good plot. Plotting is harder work.

Question 8: What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?

Oh, I don’t know. I kind of feel like that’s still on the horizon. Hawaiian Dick makes me very proud. We’ve published twelve issues and two trades, despite a billion setbacks and hardships, and there’s more to come. I just love writing that book.

I’m developing something right now that I hope will turn out to be the feather in my cap thus far.

Question 9: We’ve all met very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?

Do the work.

Question 10: Time to get philosophical: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?

Oh, man. I don’t know. My life philosophies haven’t always held up under fire. My one unwavering “philosophy” is that ultimately, what you accomplish in life is up to you and you alone. In comics there’s a lot of whining about how “unfair” the business is, but, you know…what is fair in life?

If one avenue is shut down, build your own damn road.

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Learning about Fractions

Matt Fraction is the focus on an extensive page one article about area comic book creators in today’s Kansas City Star. Brian McTavish is one of the most comics-friendly writers in mainstream journalism, and lately the Star has been unbelievably supportive of comics in every form. I raved about their support of Planet Comicon just a month or so ago.

The article covers starts with Fraction’s new Iron Man series and uses it as a jumping off point to talk about the explosion of Kansas City talent that is currently taking the industry by storm. It includes quotes from Tony Moore, Nathan Fox, B. Clay Moore, Jason Aaron, and Jai Nitz
Well, enough of me telling you about it. Go read it for yourself!

On Beyond the Planet

As far as I’m concerned, this past weekend’s Planet Comicon was a great success. There were far too many highlights for me to possibly cover them all, but I’m going to ramble through what comes to mind. I’ll just have to fill in the rest later.

First, my biggest regret: I was so busy that I didn’t manage to take many photos. I guess it will just have to live in my memory (but if anyone’s got photos they’d like to share, I’d love to have some.) I was constantly scrambling during the show because I did double duty, serving as Panel Coordinator and also making courtesy car runs to transport our out-of-town guests between the hotel and convention center. The courtesy car service meant that I always hit the convention hall after the show was up and running, so I never managed to catch up with all of the programming duties. Next year I’ll have to do one or the other.

Thanks to Seth Wolfshorndl for allowing my to swipe this image of Kenny Baker at Planet Comicon!!

Next, the most special memory: I had the pleasure of driving Kenny (R2-D2) Baker and Valerie Gale during the convention. My Chrysler Concorde, it turns out, is well-suited for Kenny’s needs. It’s low enough to the ground for easy entry and also has a large trunk to hold the rented wheelchair that helped him get around. They are an absolutely charming couple and were wonderful to escort. My kids were delighted that Kenny gave them signed photos. I was thrilled when Valerie kissed me on both cheeks as we said our goodbyes – and she got quite a razzing from Kenny for that!

The parade of courtesy cars: I also provided transport for sci-fi icon Walter Koenig, scream queen Brinke Stevens (who “liked my chariot”), editor/publisher/artist representative Renee Witterstaetter, and artists Angel Medina and Bernie Wrightson. Each and every trip was a pleasure and it was great to get a chance to spend some one-on-one time with some very talented and interesting people.

The parade of panels: As coordinator of the panels, I was happy that promoter Chris Jackson and I were able to come up with a well-rounded roster of presentations. Walter Koenig was kind enough to handle an hour on Saturday and then a second full solo session on Sunday. He had the crowd enthralled for the whole time. (Thanks to Rob Davis who oversaw both Koenig events and also to Victor Péna, Phill Dutcher, and Mark Runyan for wrangling the sound system)

Through pure coincidence we had a terrific assemblage of Ghost Rider talent on hand for a fabulous panel (pictured above). Ghost Rider co-creator Gary Friedrich, current series writer Jason Aaron, long-time GR artist Javier Saltares were interviewed by Jai Nitz (with the microphone in the photo). Another definitive GR artist, Mark Texeira, was slated for the panel, but unfortunately a delayed flight kept him from making it in time.

Jai Nitz also interviewed Kurt Busiek on Sunday. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see more than a few seconds that panel, but they ran long, so the large crowd must have been enjoying it.

I got the chance to moderate three panels. Panel one featured local talents Hector Casanova, Travis Fox, and Daniel Spottswood. Panel two had the current Superman Confidential creative team B. Clay Moore, Phil Hester, and Ande Parks. Panel three featured the terrific artistic talent of Eric Powell, Tony Moore, and last minute pinch hitter Jeremy Haun.

The last panel of the weekend featured your truly and Renee Witterstaetter providing tips to aspiring creators about how to crack into the comics biz. The session was modestly attended but seemed to be received well. Those in attendance were the first to hear an announcement that affects this blog.

My wife and I are drafting a business plan to launch a full-scale ad supported site for comics creators. I’ll finally make use of the comicscareer.com URL that I’ve had parked for ages (if you go to it now you’ll just be redirected back to this blog). The plan is for Kelly to run the day-to-day operations for the foreseeable future while I maintain my “real job” as Marketing Director of MCH, Inc. There will be much more to announce as we finalize the business plan and move toward a launch date. Check back regularly. If you would like to get our upcoming weekly e-newsletter for comics professionals and aspiring professionals, just send your name and email address to us at comicscareer@yahoo.com.

Whew. Now it’s bedtime!