B. Clay Moore is a prolific writer known for a variety of projects including Hawaiian Dick, Expatriate, Battle Hymn, ’76 (all for Image), Superman Confidential, JSA Classified (for DC), Casey Blue: Beyond Tomorrow (WildStorm), Black Vault (Top Cow), and The Leading Man (Oni). In addition, he has an upcoming project for Oni called Billy Smoke.
Question 1: When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics for a living?
Several years ago I was dabbling in comic book writing, and whining to my pal J. Torres about whatever crap job I was working at the time, and he said, “Have you thought about writing comics full-time?” It was the first time I remember thinking that I should figure out a way to make that happen. So, as I got more involved in the industry, I began to angle toward finding ways to do comics full time. I sucked at everything else I ever did, so…
Then again, as a kid my goal was to be John Byrne.
Question 2: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?
My parents. Whether they understood the decisions I made in life or not, they always supported me. My mother, who passed away in late 2007, encouraged my creativity from an early age, and always stood up for me when I needed help (which, frankly, was a lot of the time). She was a very creative person herself. My father has the most intimidating work ethic I’ve ever seen, and has achieved tremendous success through hard work and dedication. But he always tempered his business and political success with a commitment to the community and to helping improve the lives of those around him. Despite all that, his dream job is to be the drummer for the Rolling Stones. His sense of humor and enthusiasm for life has had a big impact on myself, and I think my sister would say the same thing.
Question 3: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?
That’s hard to say. I guess Eric Stephenson and J. Torres had the biggest direct impacts on my career, J. by pushing me out there and helping pull back the curtain on the industry, and Eric with his support of my work at Image and friendship over the years.
In terms of influence, I think I absorb a little bit from everything I read, see or hear. Speaking strictly in terms of comics…as a kid, it was Stan Lee, the Byrne/Austin X-Men, Steve Gerber, Roger Stern and Bill Mantlo that turned me on. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and Grant Morrison’s Animal Man completely turned my head around and made me realize what kind of potential there was in “mainstream” comics. And then James Robinson’s Starman, combined with Warren Ellis’s StormWatch, DV8 and Authority, helped point me in the direction I wanted to head.
Ellis, in particular, taught me how dialogue could be used to develop a character in relative shorthand.
Question 4: What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
I usually stop writing and dig out some inspirational movie or book. Or, more and more, some well written television series (usually British these days). Right now I’m knee-deep in Band of Brothers, which is the kind of thing that just fuels the creative fire.
Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.
I don’t have one, to be honest. Generally I type up a loose idea, think about it for ages, do a rough outline. Then, when inspiration strikes, I’ll usually just plow through a script in one sitting. Sometimes I’ll tackle a script in pieces, though, scripting a scene here and a bit there, and then editing all of that when I sit down to finish it. My “rewrites” usually consist of minor tweaks. One of my goals for 2009 is to develop a more consistent routine.
Question 6: What writing, drawing, or other tools do you use?
Moleskine notebooks and a Sony Vaio laptop. I’m kind of a journal freak, though, so I’m always picking up interesting looking journals. So I have notes on various projects scattered throughout numerous half-full journals.
I love reading something I wrote months ago and finding myself entertained by the dialogue. I think dialogue is my strong suit, so it makes me feel good to read something I’d totally forgotten about writing and getting a kick out of it.
Yeah, I’m the dude who picks up his own books in the shop and chuckles over them. What a dick.
I suppose I get my greatest satisfaction, though, from developing a good plot. Plotting is harder work.
Question 8: What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?
Oh, I don’t know. I kind of feel like that’s still on the horizon. Hawaiian Dick makes me very proud. We’ve published twelve issues and two trades, despite a billion setbacks and hardships, and there’s more to come. I just love writing that book.
I’m developing something right now that I hope will turn out to be the feather in my cap thus far.
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?
Do the work.
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?
Oh, man. I don’t know. My life philosophies haven’t always held up under fire. My one unwavering “philosophy” is that ultimately, what you accomplish in life is up to you and you alone. In comics there’s a lot of whining about how “unfair” the business is, but, you know…what is fair in life?
If one avenue is shut down, build your own damn road.
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