10 Questions for James Lynch

James Lynch is the writer and artist behind several books from his Hero Universe Comics Group. There’s more information on his books at the website herouniversecomics.com.

Lynch, who lives in Muskego, Wisconsin, wrote and drew the one-shot Bliss: The World’s Greatest Superhero and, Victors #1, and A Heroic Holiday Christmas Special. In addition, he drew Saints #1 which was written by Reggie Hansome.

His current and upcoming projects include Victors #2 (“I swear, this first arc will be finished”), Borrowed Time — a fantasy time travel book about a guy who dies but finds that, according to Death’s lists, he doesn’t exist and therefore has no place in the afterlife, and Bombshell — a book about a painfully average teenage girl who finds she has superpowers. “She’s totally clueless, but she tries so big,” Lynch said.

Question 1: When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics for a living?

When I realized it was something I was actually good at that didn’t make me loathe my existence the way a real job does.

Question 2: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

There’s a man I know named David Scherer, who raps under the stage name of Agape, who is one of those guys who can’t help but bring an upbeat energy to any room he enters, and who uses his musical skills to spread a positive message. He also makes his living doing something creative that he loves, so he’s something of an inspiration to me in several ways, and I’m thankful to have him as a friend.

Question 3: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

Just one? Holy crap. I guess I’d have to say Joss Whedon. “Genius” does not even begin to describe this man. Watching his shows — and now reading his comics — really shaped my understanding of story structure, character, and tone more than anyone else.

Question 4: What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

Sleep. Eat. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt really drained creatively — except when I’m actually just plain physically exhausted, and sometimes not even then. I suppose part of that comes from the fact that I wear so many hats at my company. If I don’t feel like writing, there’s always drawing to do, and vice versa, not to mention coloring, lettering, editing, etc. There’s not enough hours in the day to drain me creatively.

Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.

I do both writing and drawing, and there’s always tons to do, and I’m so disorganized that to say I have a “routine” would be dishonest. Part of the reason I work in comics is that I hate jobs with set routines. My internal clock really doesn’t seem to jive with a regular 9-5 schedule.

I should mention that my drawing days tend to involve a lot of Coke, Cheez-Its, and DVD commentaries playing in the background. I find music to be a little distracting, and there’s really no other time I’m actually going to sit down and listen to these commentary tracks. By the way, 40-Year-Old Virgin and anything by Joss Whedon have commentaries almost as entertaining as the movies/shows themselves, but I swear I felt my soul starting to leave my body during the Spider-Man commentary.

Question 6: What writing, drawing, or other tools do you use?

For writing, I use a computer and Microsoft Word. For drawing/coloring, I use a mechanical pencil; various erasers — most often the one that’s on the end of the pencil; Bristol board, usually Strathmore 3 Ply Smooth; various inking pens especially the Staedtler .05mm; a pair of Ott lights — lighting is very important to me in my dark little basement studio; sometimes black watercolor; an 11×17 ScanExpress A3 Mustek scanner; Photoshop; and a 9×12 Wacom board. And also Coke and Cheetz-Its.

Question 7: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

I guess seeing the reactions of people reading it. I sometimes have people buy my books and read them near me, and it’s certainly satisfying when I can tell where in the book they are by their reactions — laughing, cursing, or whatever. It means I did my job and got the reactions I was going for. There’s nothing worse than having someone read through a book I’ve done and not react, especially when I think there’s a killer joke or two in there. Well, I guess vehicular manslaughter is worse.

Question 8: What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?

I guess probably my first book, Bliss: The World’s Greatest Superhero. I was determined to prove that I could 1) make a complete comic and 2) make a good comic. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive for that book, so I’m very happy about that. Not only has the feedback been good, but it has been the type of feedback that I was looking for; that my work is actually funny, dramatic, that I made people care about the characters, and that the story is original, somewhat smart, and made people think.

Now if I could only get more people to read the damn thing.

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?

I once heard Paul Jenkins say that breaking into comics is like breaking out of prison: once someone gets through, they figure out how that person did it and seal that way up so no one can bust through that same way again. I’m not sure that it’s actually very helpful advice, but I enjoyed it.

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?

We’re all going to die, and once we’re gone, most of us won’t really be missed. Sure, your family and friends will be sad, but the world won’t care that the average person isn’t in it any more. The world generally doesn’t care that the average person is in it. It doesn’t notice that you’re here, and it won’t remember you when you’re gone. All you can do is try to leave behind something, some legacy, that makes the world remember and makes the world care. Some people do that by contributing to history, by shaping world events, and some do it by creating things that people want to keep around. If you can create great art, people will care about you when you’re here and will remember you when you’re gone. I want people to care and I want to be remembered. I want the world to know I am — or was — here, and more importantly, I want them to care about and remember me for having brought some level of joy into their lives.

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