It’s “Ten Questions Team-Up” as we put the entire creative team of Sky Pirates of Valendor through the interview obstacle course.
Question 1: When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics for a living?
Everett Soares: When I was in high school. I daydreamed of becoming as big as Jim Shooter or Marv Wolfman.
Brian Brinlee: The first time was when I was around 20 years old, but it never panned out. Then the bug hit me again when I was in my thirties. I was working a nine to five job and was tired of not doing anything with my art. So I thought I would try again.
Alex Rivera: I decided at age eight that I wanted to create my own comic book.
Question 2: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?
Everett Soares: It would have to be the team of Wolfman and Perez. Their work at DC was new, fresh, and started me thinking, “I want some of that!” I wanted my ideas to be as groundbreaking as theirs.
Brian Brinlee: As far as influencing me as an artist, there are two. My mother is the first. She is also an artist and taught me how to draw at an early age and continues to encourage me in the field. The second influence is a group of people and they are my long list of artists that I admire. They include Michael Whelan, Boris Valejo, Frank Frazetta, Brom, Alan Lee, John Howe, and many more.
Alex Rivera: My eighth grade social studies teacher who taught me how to enjoy history and storytelling. My ex-store manager who taught me the value of patience, and the ability to adapt to any situation. Lastly, a childhood friend who taught me how to be “street smart.”
Question 3: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?
Everett Soares: There are two. The first would have to be my good friend Matt Ryan. He taught me that a good idea doesn’t have to die on the paper it’s written on. He was the first person to see the rough scripts for Sky Pirates. With his first advice, I was able to find an artist that would work with me, not against me. He also gave the best advice anyone could give me, “Get rid of your @#$%ing swear words!” Okay, I took liberty with his words, but the gist is there.
The second is my wife. Without her foot squarely kicking my butt to do things, I wouldn’t have a book to call my own. She is the oil that keeps the machine running.
Brian Brinlee: Probably people in the industry. There are far too many to name.
Alex Rivera: Mark Mazz, because he is always telling me what I’m doing wrong, and Dick Giordano because I always admired his inking style.
Question 4: What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
Everett Soares: Music: been listening to Abney Park a lot. They bill themselves as a steampunk band. Some TV: I think I watch too much of the History Channel. I read a few different books to help out at times. Just finished World War Z, some good reading there. Sometimes I pop in a DVD and watch it until I start quoting it.
Brian Brinlee: Sketch, read, watch movies, and walk through the woods with my camera.
Alex Rivera: I revisit my earlier work for inspiration and examine ways to improve myself.
Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.
Everett Soares: I normally wait for my wife to start reminding me I have a deadline coming up. Then with pencil and paper, lots of information gets dumped onto the pages. I start trimming out what doesn’t fit. Then the tough part, finding the time to sit down at the computer, with the music playing, and start writing.
Brian Brinlee: Is there a typical one? Because I have a day job, I do most of my work at night. By around seven or eight o’clock I get down to business. I also work through the weekends. I really hate seeing the sun come up the next morning, but if you are under a deadline, you gotta do it. As for the routine of actually getting a page finished, here’s the process. If I haven’t done the layouts yet for a page, I will do a quick sketch and get the writer and/or editor to approve it. Then I lay out the panels on the page and rough everything in. After that, me and my trusty kneaded eraser go back and clean everything up and tighten up the lines.
Alex Rivera: I wake up at eight, have breakfast, check my email, put on music, and then get to work.
Question 6: What writing, drawing, or other tools do you use?
Everett Soares: Well, being a writer I normally stick with diving into different research material. I think I have gathered a small library of history books. Although I still think I watch too much History Channel at times.
Brian Brinlee: It’s me and my mechanical pencil all the way. Actually, I have two mech pencils, both are .5 in size. One had a hard, light lead for sketching. The other has a darker lead for the finished lines. A kneaded eraser and a soft white eraser are essential.
Alex Rivera: I use Winsor and Newton series 7, #1, 2, and 3, a Staedtler Marsmatic technical pen, and Pelican Ink.
Question 7: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
Everett Soares: I think what gives the most satisfaction is watching my scripts come to life. I love looking at my artist’s rough panels when he starts blocking out the page. I can’t believe these loose characters were a mere loose thought just days ago.
Brian Brinlee: Seeing the piece finished, knowing that I didn’t cut any corners, and that it is a good, solid piece. And that I got it out on time! That is really satisfying. I hate having to rush through something and not having the time to put in my best effort.
Alex Rivera: The satisfaction of a job well done.
Question 8: What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?
Everett Soares: Sky Pirates. It was my first idea. I’m proud of this book. It started off as a busted old notebook full of ideas that were meant for a game. Then one day I made up my mind to do something with them and slowly it came to life. I think it’s taken on a life of its own.
Brian Brinlee: Oh, it would be Sky Pirates, hands down. It was one of those rare instances when the creator and I just clicked. Everything fell into place smoothly and it has been great fun to work on.
Alex Rivera: Completing any project, in or out of comics, and knowing it was done well.
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?
Everett Soares: 1. Don’t swear. Keep it open to be read by anyone.
2. Listen to any advice you get. Feedback is rare.
3. Make sure your art is dead on.
4. Be nice to everyone you meet because you never know who they may become.
Brian Brinlee: Find another career! No, seriously, the best advice I have ever heard has been simply don’t give up. Just because you get one rejection does not mean everyone will reject you.. And as long as you keep practicing and show improvements, sooner or later, somebody is going to hire you. Don’t give up!
Alex Rivera: Always have enough reference materials for whatever project you are doing, such as having the right textbooks and images. Also, get advice from other creators in the profession, and always keep an open mind.
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?
Everett Soares: I think the reason why it’s important stands out when I say it. Work your butt off because it’s the only way it’s going to get done. No one else can tell your story. So it’s all up to you.
Brian Brinlee: As far as comics goes, one of the best things I have learned is that not every creator can be the next Frank Miller or Jim Lee. Chances are you are not going to be a superstar. And if you can be realistic about that and accept that, then it opens up more possibilities for you such as different genres, small press jobs, etc. and you will be a lot happier in your work.
Alex Rivera: Always go forward, never go backwards.