Sunday, June 27, 2010

Nerdy Wordy: A Conversation with B. Clay Moore

By Isaac Dilbert

B. Clay Moore is a talented American writer most notable for the acclaimed Hawaiian Dick from Image comics as well as other titles which have set the bar for crime noir and pulp comics. Great things, and people come from the Midwest and Clay Moore is one of those people. He's earned his place among the best the industry has to offer and continues to write great comics with a growing audience. He takes time from his work and scripting to gives us a few words on his plans, projects and his thoughts on things comic related.

DILBERT: How was your experience working with Image Comics?
MOORE: It's always been fantastic. I started off publishing through Image, became their PR & Marketing coordinator, and then moved back to "just" being an Image creator, and it's always been good. Image is like an extended family to me, and I'm always doing what I can to promote the brand and support up and coming Image creators.

DILBERT: Take us through some of your past work.

MOORE: I've worked on too many things in too many places to cover it all, but the highest profile books have been HAWAIIAN DICK (three series) and BATTLE HYMN at Image, and THE LEADING MAN at Oni. Jason Latour and I did a book called THE EXPATRIATE at Image that we have yet to complete. And, of course, I'm still working on '76 at Image (with Ed Tadem). Not too long ago I did a three issues story arc on SUPERMAN CONFIDENTIAL (with Phil Hester and Ande Parks) and a three issue Wildcat story arc in JSA CLASSIFIED (with Ramon Perez). Last year I did a six issue WildStorm mini called CASEY BLUE: BEYOND TOMORROW (with Carlo Barberi).

DILBERT: What do you have upcoming?

MOORE: I have a one-shot from DC coming out this fall called OUR FIGHTING FORCES #1, featuring a story about the World War II version of DC's Losers. The artist is Chad Hardin. I have another DC fill-in coming out later this summer, but it has yet to be announced. Kicking a couple of other things around, including two graphic novels from a new publisher.

DILBERT: Any more creator owned projects on the horizon?

MOORE: Jeremy Haun and I have agreed to work on a BATTLE HYMN sequel together, which will be proceeded by a MID-NITE HOUR one-shot, featuring art by Steven A. Gordon and Ben Passmore. More HAWAIIAN DICK, and the stuff I think we already talked about (like THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF THE WHISTLING SKULL).

DILBERT: What are some of your favorite writers?

MOORE: In comics, it's pretty simple. Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison and Alan Moore. James Robinson's STARMAN had a huge impact. Jason Aaron (a fellow Kansas Citian) is probably the best of the current crop. Joe Kelly can be fantastic, too.

DILBERT: Are there any other writers looking to leave their mark in the industry?

MOORE: Contemporary writers? I'm not sure the guys who actually leave a mark are always the guys trying the hardest to do so. I mentioned Jason Aaron earlier, and that's a good starting point. I think Jonathan Hickman has some things in his future that will push us in new directions. I'm hopeful Matt Fraction returns to CASANOVA sooner than later, because I think he's as capable as anyone of doing creator-owned work that will leave a lasting impression. I admire the hell out of Ed Brubaker and Warren Ellis for crafting sharp work-for-hire and still investing themselves in engaging creator-owned work.

DILBERT: Can you draw? Or have you attempted to?

MOORE: I used to write and draw a comic strip in college. One of my first goals was to create a syndicated comic strip, but I never really had the discipline to get better as an artist.

DILBERT: Any creators you would like to work with in the future?

MOORE: Sure, but I'd be hard-pressed to start naming them. I have friends in comics I've never worked with that I'd love to collaborate with. Guys like Brian Hurtt and Tony Moore.

DILBERT: With the recent rise of comic movies/and television pitched programs have you been approached or tempted to come up with something?

MOORE: You mean from scratch, aside from the things I've already had optioned? I've been approached by different production companies looking for new IP, yes. Most of my focus has been on creating my own things and seeing where they land.

DILBERT: Who is a character or team you would love to work on?

MOORE: The JSA. The Invaders. The Avengers. Always the Blackhawks (the originals or Brian Azzarello's new team). BPRD. The Fantastic Four. More Losers! I don't know. I like teams. Team America.

DILBERT: Do you do any other writing?

MOORE: I've just completed a television pilot pitch with a collaborator who's had quite a bit of success in television writing. I'd like to angle toward other media, without leaving comics.

DILBERT: What does your workspace look like?

MOORE: I used to have a large, tiki-themed office and now have a desk in a storage room, but I generally work on the kitchen counter, with my three year-old son wandering the living room.
DILBERT: What is your research process like when approaching a new story? How much information do you give your artist?

MOORE: I write full script, but I'm pretty skimpy with panel descriptions and camera angles, unless it's something that I think is vital to the storytelling. By and large, I trust the guys I work with enough to let them carry that load. I tend to describe a character's attitude more than exactly what he or she is doing physically.

Research is determined by subject matter, I suppose. I do a lot of period stuff, and I'm generally knowledgeable about the eras I'm plundering going into projects, but my goal is always to use our perceptions of the past as a kind of filter through which to pass the story. My vision of the past is based on general perceptions of the era, and subverting those perceptions to some degree. It's not documentary storytelling, but I want it to "feel" correct for the era.

DILBERT:Would you like to promote anything?

MOORE: Just the stuff I've mentioned. Keep your eyes peeled first for the OUR FIGHTING FORCES book, which will feature a gorgeous Mark Schultz cover.

DILBERT: Whats the rest of the 2010 future look like for yourself and upcoming 2011?

MOORE: More work-for-hire than before, more focus in my creator-owned work, and, hopefully, a bold move into new media.

DILBERT: Any advice for writers looking to leave their mark in the industry? And do you have any advice on writers looking to improve their writing?

MOORE: My only advice is to be yourself, and don't rely on work-for-hire to leave a mark. You can leave a mark on the sales charts, and in the long, convoluted continuity of beloved characters, but I think leaving a mark is about sharing personal vision.

I think to improve your writing, you need to expose yourself to writing that falls outside your comfort zone. Introduce new influences into your writing, and stray from the easy path as often as possible. Take criticism, but examine the source. Accept praise, but if the praise is wrongheaded, accept that you might have failed to communicate the way you meant to communicate, and use it as fuel to work harder at communicating to your readers the next time around.

And, you know...keep writing. Keep thinking.

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