The week has once again made its way around to Tuesday, so it’s time for 7 Questions. James Asmus is busy writing the next arc of Thief of Thieves, but he still took the time to answer a few questions for me.
1- Let’s start things simple: How does a guy go from writing plays to writing comics?
Well, I’ve always been a huge comics fan. So once I got into playwrighting (a whole other long story) a lot of my pulpy and genre influences were pretty evident in my scripts – superheroes, horror, mystery, etc. But when a musical I created (Love Is Dead: A NecRomantic Musical Comedy) went to New York Fringe Festival, I invited Marvel editorial to come out to the show. In reality, I was just hoping to meet some of the people currently behind the comics I grew up loving. But luckily for my future (and my bucket list) they liked the show enough to let me try my hand at writing for an X-Men anthology. And now that I’ve been able to enter the world of actually writing for comics – I don’t plan on ever giving it up.
2- Part of the fun of Image’s recent Experience Creativity ad campaign is getting to see where creators get their work done… What does your writing area look like?
It is COVERED in awesome comics and non-fiction research books. I’ll throw some photos in to spice this up. I understand my organizational system – but my wife Mara just sees it as chaotic piles. It drives her crazy to look at it.
And though Robert gets a little weirded out when I mention it – I do have all my Invincible and Walking Dead trades I’ve been buying for years.
3- Without spoiling the outcome of Nick’s story arc, what can you tell fans about your run on Thief of Thieves?
The crimes get a little more urgent – and a lot more personal. Also, now that Nick’s set everything us so nicely – I get to start knocking things over and injecting some surprising new complications into everyone’s lives. That and some nice character humor. Plus, we’ve plotted so many good twists and cliff-hangers for my issues that I think the story is really going to keep people amped for what comes next.
4- Everyone has a different approach for how to make it in this industry… what words of wisdom do you have to America’s next Skybound creator?
There isn’t one right answer to how to make comics. Create with your own voice and instinct – because no one gets excited about someone merely imitating some other creator. BUT – you’re not infallible. Ask for critique from people you respect and actually listen to it. You can decide later which things you want to listen to and which you don’t.
5- How has the “writer’s room” approach to Thief of Thieves felt different than what you’ve done at Marvel, or in theatre/ comedy?
It’s been awesome! When I was developing my plays, I absolutely loved kicking around ideas and possibilities with my casts or directors. I’m much more interested in the best possible final story than I am interested in preserving “my idea”. And the approach on Thief of Thieves has reignited that spark for me. One person’s idea sparks something in you that you never would have considered before – but that might be even more exciting, intriguing, and resonant than how you thought of the story before. And it’s a seriously rare treat to be able to take the time and really hash through the big questions and concepts in your story. Most monthly comics get produced in such an unstoppable machine that you rarely get the time to reconsider your micro- and macro-story with your collaborators. I wish I could do this for more projects.
6- Go-to solution for writer’s block- what do you do?!
I pull out a blank sheet, set a timer, and I try to come up with 20 wrong ideas in 10 minutes. Whether it’s for a premise, a location, a solution – whatever. And generally, one of those wrong ideas ends up being wonderfully right – or at least starts to lead me toward something I can get excited about. But for me, generally, a writer’s block comes out of the pressure to find “THE one, perfect piece.” Taking that pressure off, and asking myself to get it wrong frees my writing and helps me find surprising choices. At the very least, it will help you narrow your path get a different understanding of what needs to be done by considering the inverse.
7- I ask writers and artists what is on their iPods all the time… let’s try something new: what’s on REDMOND – AKA CONRAD PAULSON’s iPod?
Probably some self-help audio books. And beyond that, I imagine the guy hasn’t picked up a new album in 10 or 15 years at least. I bet he’s got a lot of heartbroken Sam Cooke, Al Green, and Otis Redding tracks. I’m trying to get him into new stuff along those lines like Nick Waterhouse or Charles Bradley – but he refuses to get an iTunes account.