One of the reasons that I loved CinciComiCon was that I met really awesome people there. My second or third year there I had the pleasure of sitting next to Eric Palicki. Eric is a comic book writer who is currently writing working on a really interesting indy book called No Angel. I have read a few other of his books. To be honest, I bought them mainly because I was sitting at a table next to him, and you have to support local, am I right? You know I am. Anyhoo.. It turns out that the books just happened to be good. He was enjoyable to chat with and I am really happy to get to know him better.
So without further ado... let's jump into the questions.
I am going to really freak out readers of this here blog, by just shaking things up a bit.
Question 1: Cake or Pie, which specific kind and why? (what just happened?!?!?)
Cake. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, or rather, "cream cheese" frosting (I'm vegan). Ideally, the cake came from Patty Cake bakery in Columbus, OH.
Carrot cake is a love I inherited from my dad.
Patty Cake's Carrot cake is amazing. As a kid, I was always a fan of spice cake (which is carrot cake without the pesky carrots). Number 1: I love that you know about Patty Cake's in Clintonville. Number 2. Next time I know you will be around, I will bring a carrot cake from Patty Cake. Really. Number 3. I did not realize you are vegan. That is usually something that comes up with any interaction with vegans. I kid. I kid.
Question 2: Health or philosophical reasons for going vegan, and how long have you been off the meat wagon?
A little of both, along with a bit of peer pressure. I initially went vegetarian about seven years ago, when three of my closest friends all did it independently and for different reasons, one each for health, the environmental impact, and ethical considerations for the treatment of animals. I figured, I agree with all three of these friends, and if any one of their reasons is good enough to go veg, well, I guess I'm out of excuses.
Veganism started as an experiment. If I could give up the bacon, could I also give up the eggs? I just kind of stuck with it, starting about three years ago.
All of that said, I try not to be a vegan/veg evangelist; I won't bring it up without cause, and I never judge folks for what they eat.
I think there needs to be a portmanteau with vegan evangelist, it is all right there for the taking, but I cannot parse a "word" that rolls off the tongue. Maybe "vegangelist"? Actually, that might be it. When my oldest was a wee little toddler, due to food allergies he had a limited diet such that he was basically a vegan who could eat meat. It confused many people.
As everyone who has read one of these interviews knows, I was a cartographer for about 20 years total, so I have always been interested in the idea of geographic place and the stories that associate with that geography. For example, I was born just outside of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma moved to Montgomery, Alabama when I was a wee toddler, moved up to the Birmingham, Alabama area for the rest of my childhood until I went away to college at Kent State University in northeast Ohio. In Kent I met the woman would I would marry and moved to the Columbus area after college to live with and marry her. I have been in the Columbus area ever since my undergrad college years. Question 3: What is your geographic story?
I was born in Toledo, Ohio, where I lived well past high school and graduation from the University of Toledo. Shortly after graduation, I took a job as an technical writer (not much else you can do with an English degree, frankly), and I bounced around a few gigs in Northwest Ohio before taking a job in Columbus, doing the same kind of work. In November of last year, I packed up everything I owned and moved out to Seattle, following my girlfriend. I'm one of the lucky few who, on a rare cloudless day in the Pacific Northwest, can sit in view of both the mountains and the ocean (assuming you'll give me the benefit of the doubt and accept that Puget Sound is part of an ocean -- but you tell me; you're the cartographer).
Well, a sound is technically an offshoot of an ocean or a sea, but typically if it is a named water body but attached to and consisted of the same water chemical make up as the ocean, it can be considered part of the ocean. There are exceptions when you get to bodies of water that are attached to items named "sea."
Question 4: What is the biggest difference you see between Ohio and the Pacific Northwest?
Perhaps surprisingly, it's not the weather. It's actually the geography. Ohio is so flat.
It really is... even growing up in Alabama, I have found that most of Ohio is really flat. Especially the northwest of Ohio since it was scoured by glaciation in the last few ice-ages. Ohio is seriously flat until you get to the edge of the Illinoisan Ice Age boundary. Then it gets some relief in the Appalachian foothills. But it is not relief like Cascadia.
Your geographic story is fairly short. Question 5: Is there somewhere out there that you would like to live, that you haven't yet?
Just down the road in Portland is one of the most robust comics communities in the U.S.
I think I'd like to give Portland a try.
Portland is just and awesome city to begin with, regardless of the comic book culture.
So, you are a comic book writer with an English degree... Question 6: What word in the English language do you think needs to be used more? For example, I love the word "whilst' and feel it should be used more often.
So many good but underappreciated words out there, but without too much thought, I'd say 'elan,' or possibly 'panache.'
This script was way past its deadline, but Palicki executed it with great elan.
Oooh... I am leaning towards "panache" between those 2. But "elan" has a delightful ring to it as well. Both are great choices. I have actually said “panache” before in conversation, but I only know the work “elan” because of crossword puzzles.
I know that you are co-writing "No Angel" with your sister, Question 7: Do you have any other siblings? and what are the biggest issues of working with a sibling on a project?
It's just the two of us, and while there weren't any issues as far as personality clashes, my sister comes at storytelling from a very different medium -- she being an actress and living in LA. We basically got together over a long weekend to figure out the story beats, and then I came back to (at the time) Ohio to write the scripts, which I then turned around and sent back to Adrianne for review. Her notes back to me were very much the result of her looking at the story through the Hollywood lens. "Where's the love interest?" Et cetera. The beauty of working in comics, specifically for a company like Black Mask Studios, is we're not beholden to those structural limitations and storytelling expectations. It was all very punk rock.
Also, my sister is a poopy stinky dummy and has been since she was two years old.
I think it is interesting to look at the story beats from a writer's point of view and an actors' POV. I imagine it makes the comic book scripts resemble screenplays a bit more and that makes me wonder if the comic book might be a proof of concept for a TV series... Say "Hi" to your sister for me. Loved her as Mockingbird and she was awesome in John Wick, but that is enough about her. I tend to try and not dwell on poopy stinky dummy people, because I think poopy stinky dummy people get in the way of generative creativity.
Question 8: Is writing for comic books your primary source of income, or is there something else you do as your primary money-maker? Good Lord I hope it is not concerning the shaking of your money-maker.
I'm still a technical writer by day, telecommuting to Abbott Nutrition from out here in Seattle, which means getting up at 4am to work according to something resembling East Coast time. Good thing Seattle's known for its coffee!
Technical writing is an interesting task to say the least. Taking info-babble and making it consumable can be really tricky.
Question 10: What skill from this job as a technical writer is something that you will always keep with you regardless of your enjoyment of or employment status in regards to this job?
Comics writing is like technical writing insomuch as both benefit from the ability to convey instructions clearly and succinctly, sometimes to people, whether technicians or artists, who are not native English speakers. I think tech writing has made me a better comics writer, but it has probably destroyed my chances of ever writing prose.
That is super interesting. I did not think at all about instructional writing and how that translates to comic book writing. It makes perfect sense, but it doesn't quite account for your ability to write dialog. I imagine that technical writing does not prepare you for dialog.
Question 11: Fill in the blanks. I find that I am mostly __________. Others find that I am mostly __________.
I find that I am mostly reserved but outgoing. Others find that I am mostly an introvert.
With those answers it seems like you may be the personality unicorn known as kind of a quiet extrovert. You are quite the enigma. Question 12: So are you energetically an introvert or an extrovert? Meaning do you recharge your batteries by being by yourself or being around others?
Oh, I definitely recharge with alone time. In fact, I mostly prefer being by myself, but that's punctuated by bursts where I absolutely NEED to be part of a group, to see people. Conventions are great "punctuation marks" on the otherwise lonely existence of a writer.
I like small intimate groups for my recharging. Small groups of 3 or 4 people having conversation is really perfect for my recharging. That seems to be harder and harder to make happen. That is one reason I am so happy with the job I have now. There is the opportunity to be in small cluster conversations with very intelligent and insightful people... but enough about all that.
We are at Question 13: So do you have any superstitions or rituals that you adhere to?
I'm not a big believer in superstitions when I approach them from a rational standpoint, but some small things have crept in around the edges: I'll always pick up a penny, so long as I find it head-side up, and I never kill spiders I find in my house (owing more to a fondness for spiders -- wink, wink -- than to any profound superstition).
Ritual-wise, I try to start the morning with the crossword puzzle, because it's a decent brain game to prep myself for writing, but I don't know if my output suffers when I can't do it.
That is the exact reason I mention rituals instead of straight up superstitions. Very few people still believe that putting a hat on the bed is an invitation for death to visit, but lots of people do some kind ritual to get themselves ready for some task. Anyone who has ever played sports has had some kind of ritual to get prepared for playing that sport. Rituals are all about getting into the correct "frame of mind" for whatever task is at hand. Your crossword puzzle is a perfect example of this. You use that exercise to get you in the correct frame of mind to write. Could you write without doing the crossword? Of course. Would some of that writing be used to get you in the correct frame of mind? Most likely.
Question 14: What creative projects do you have going on right now?
I have two unannounced miniseries on my plate right now, I'm helping to curate a politically motivated horror anthology which will appear on Kickstarter later this summer, and I'm contributing a ten page story to a pal's kaiju anthology. My story for that last book pits a giant monster against a samurai in Edo period Japan, and it looks like Adam Ferris will be drawing it.
That sounds awesome. I am really glad that you have that many irons in the fire.
So... Question 15: Is there a particular existing mainstream book that you would kick a kitten in the rain to write?
Well, maybe not IN THE RAIN (I'm not a monster, Scott), but I think I have a Green Arrow story in me. Moon Knight. My dream with the Big Two would be to take a half-forgotten character and give it a Frank-Miller-on-Daredevil-style renaissance.
I'd love to do a Captain America story sometime, maybe when doing so isn't controversial.
I will be the judge of the monstrosity. Spiders every issue? Really? ugh... You are a monster. A horrible monster.
I would love to see your take on Cap, especially with this weird run they are doing right now with him being a hydra sleeper. There are so many directions the next story can go. He needs to ditch the red, white, and blue and become Nomad again. Only way to redeem Steve Rogers is to remove him as the iconic character, but I could go on for a good bit about the Steve Rogers character.
Question 16: Is there a question I have not asked that you expected me to ask?
Well, you asked about siblings, but I often get some variation of "What's it like having a sister on tv?" or "What's it like having a famous sister?" I very much appreciate that you kept the conversation in the context of our comics together and not her little side project as a semi-famous actress. I had a colleague shoulder check me at a con once and when I asked him why, his reply was "That's for your sister, for trying to kill John Wick."
This is 20 questions with you, not your "poopy-pants" sister.
That being said, her career has been a fun one to watch, and I love that I did not find out that she was your sister until this past October. All that being said, I love that it seems like you have a really nice relationship with her, and that is delightful. More than that, I really love that you have gone out of your way to work together, because the two of you have no requirement to work together.
Question 17: Did you ever think that you and your sister would have/make the opportunity to work together? It seems like the two of you have gone down relatively different paths.
I certainly hope we'll work together. When I moved to Seattle, Adrianne flew out to Ohio and drove with across country. During that time we brainstormed a (probably) comic book follow up to No Angel. Without giving away too many details, it's inspired by a true story of a young woman who was sentenced as a juvenile for taking part in the murder of her parents, then released back into society when she reached adulthood. We made significant progress in exploring questions like how do you come back from having done something like that? Are you actually rehabilitated or is age just a number?
And then there's a heady conspiratorial angle to the story, because that's my jam and poopy-pants' jam as well.
As far as tv goes, I'd never rule it out. Although my dream is to keep writing comics, I'd be a fool to turn down a writing gig for television.
I really have loved No Angel (even with all the spiders... so many spiders) and I love the idea of having an actor be part of the writing team, because an actor's and a writer's point of view are so different. It is also so nice to hear of siblings who enjoy each other and respect each others different skillsets. I could see and have seen sibs becoming competitive and jealous at popular success.
Now it is the time wherein I turn the tables on myself. Question 18: Do you have any questions for me?
Sure! What's the TV Guide synopsis of the Scott Ryan-Hart story? (and for bonus points: what song would be the subtitle of that biopic? You know what I mean? Like, Don't Go Chasin' Waterfalls: The Eric Palicki story. What's yours?)
Wow... That is an amazing question. Such an amazing question. Let me think on it a bit....
Okay here we go.
Carry a Laser: the Scott Ryan-Hart Story
For 15 years an average kind of guy forgot to be creative. Dusting off rusty and atrophied skills he tries to re-kindle some creativity in his life and become more fulfilled as a human. Guided by his wife and newfound drive to do something creative, Scott embarks on a question to answer and ask questions, draw and write, and live and be.
Cancelled after one season due to the low stakes and relative boredom it induces.
Full disclosure... "Carry a Laser" is my southern protestant misunderstanding of "Kyrie Eleison" by Mr Mister
Okay, we are nearing the end of this conversation... so
Question 19: What are you taking from these 20 Questions that you did not bring in with you?
Well, for one thing, it's nice to know I wasn't the only guy who thought he was saying 'Carry A Laser.' I was probably in high school or college in the latter half of the 90s before I saw the actual title written out.
I tweeted out yesterday about it having been 5 years since Ray Bradbury passed, and he was my first writing god (later replaced by Vonnegut and Harlan Ellison and Hemingway -- who could write a helluva sentence, even if he was a drunk misogynist -- and then by some comics writers), and I tend to still embrace a lot of Bradbury's method. That is to say, I write fast, which doesn't allow for much introspection. These twenty questions have given me pause to think about how and why I write, so thanks for that.
My lapsed Catholic wife informed me about the Kyrie Eleison maybe about 5 years ago amid nigh uncontrollable laughter. I blame Mr Mister for going too niche with their references.
If I have given you a vehicle for introspection, then I am very happy with how these 20 questions have shaken out. I really wish you were still in the Columbus area, because I would love to hang out with you since you are such a great guy.
All of that leads to the final of the 20 Questions. You already kind of mentioned some aspects of you plans, but questions 20 is always... Question 20: What's next? Be as vague or as specific, as concrete or philosophical, and as near term or long term as you would like.
This is maybe the most intimidating question of the bunch, Scott. I'm living in Seattle, but this move is still fresh, and as much as I'm growing to adore the city, I'm not sure it feels like 'home,' yet. My arrangement with my current day job is coming to an end (by mutual arrangement and design) at the end of June, and with No Angel wrapped, I don't have another announced project ready to go (in contrast to last year, when I had a graphic novel and Marvel gig and No Angel announced).
So, the honest answer to what's next is, I don't know, and that's terrifying. I guess it's time to get off twitter (at least a little bit) and start making some proactive moves to find a new day job and some new comics work, or even better, find a home for all the awesome creator owned projects I've developed since No Angel debuted.
Thanks so much for doing this 20Qs with me.
No, Thank you for doing this 20 Questions with me. This was really enjoyable.
Seattle is an awesome place, I am sure you will feel comfortable calling it home soon.
As for work... I am positive that you will create more comic work. And if the work does not come to you, I know you will make work for yourself. No Angel is a great series (even though there are too many spiders) and I have really enjoyed reading it.
You are an absolute delight, and I am sad that I will not be seeing you at Cincy ComiCon anymore.
So, everyone, you should buy your work on Orphans, No Angel, Red Angel, Fake Empire, and the Guardians books you did for Marvel. People should also give you a follow on the Twitters too. You have a very enjoyable feed. Just a reminder, if Eric is making work, you should consume it, and consume it with gusto.
EDIT: Since Tuesday when this was posted Eric has been part of a Kickstarter launch for the "This Nightmare Kills Facists" project that he and a team of people are doing. Support it like I have with the sharing and the pledging. Do IT!
Wife is out of town this week
And I am exhausted
I finally took the plunge and ordered SeeSo
I think it was a wise decision
I am on vacation next week
That should be fun
Donutz on a Stick… now in a gluten free version
More than that though is some sleeping in
Oh, how I love sleeping in
Like I am an adolescent, I really love it
I still need some peeps to interview
Iffens you know anyone who wants to answer 20 questions, have them contact me
Now I need to get back to paying attention to other parts of my life
Podcast? Should I make a version of this as a podcast? Thoughts?
Have a great week everyone