One Marvel’s top writers, Portland based Jeff Parker is in an exciting creative place these days. He’s currently rockin’ the Hulk and Thunderbolts, and has the comic world at his fingertips. Renaldo caught up with him for a chat.
CBNAH: What made you want to delve into comics?
Jeff Parker: I always made up stories since childhood, and comics were very powerful to me.
Since I liked to draw it became a natural medium to work in.
CBNAH: Is it a feasible job in these hard times where 'economic recession' is thrown around a lot?
JP: Comics isn't easy to find work in even when every nation's economy is doing well. You have to be very stubborn to pursue work in this field. And hopefully, very good. If you have a strong artistic voice and are persistent, I think you can do it.
CBNAH: You started off as an illustrator so which do you prefer - writing or drawing?
JP: My favorite is when I do both together, but I'm not fast enough to do that for monthly comics. If I can't do that, then my next preference is to write stories for excellent artists to draw, which I'm lucky enough to do now. I love the different ways artists approach the scripts and breathe life into the characters.
CBNAH: How beneficial do you view this internet age and digital era in terms of moving from print media? Has it made you job easier, efficient etc? Do you think moving to digital comics is the best step forward?
JP: I think we have no choice but to move into digital. It's our best chance for reaching the widest audience. And if we can do that, and make the readership grow, we'll be able to also have those digital comics in book form, so we'll ultimately lose nothing! I would like to see comics shops be able to focus on selling hardback compilations of the works sold mostly online- the stores will make more money that way.
CBNAH: Can you shed insight into your creative process with sculpting an issue from scratch and how it differs from illustrating some work off a script?
JP: If I'm writing and drawing, I will try to outline the story and then begin writing the script, but sometimes a scene may come to me in pure visuals. So I begin with sketching. Sometimes I 'hear' dialogue in my head, and start with that. Whatever makes the story start taking shape.
CBNAH: How did you break into the business?
JP: I showed my art around a lot when I was in school, going to comics festivals and conventions. And I assisted some professional artists like Bo Hampton. That way I would meet editors and learn what books I could try out for jobs on. Early on I got work drawing a couple issues of Wonder Woman, and then drawing Solitaire at Malibu Comics. It was years before anyone hired me to write.
CBNAH: Any chance you soon will be drawing and writing your own title someday at Marvel?
JP: Probably not, most of their books are done on a monthly (or faster) schedule, I just wouldn't be fast enough.
CBNAH: You did Hulk, Avengers, Hercules, T-Bolts, X-Men titles at Marvel so what is your favorite book you worked on?
JP: I really enjoyed them all, but Agents of Atlas is the one where I got to put it together nearly from scratch the way I wanted to, and start off the series. That is some of the work I'm proudest of.
CBNAH: Advice to aspiring writers trying to break into industry?
JP: Write VISUALLY. Remember comics is a series of frozen moments, it is not television or movies. Work with the strengths of the medium and work closely with the artist if it is someone other than you. The artist has to spend much more time with the page than you do, and what you describe must be worth his or her time!
Also, try to do short pieces starting out, that will be easy for people to read and judge. That will help you get more work faster.