10 Questions for Rev. Martin R. Oakley

Rev. Martin R. Oakley is the publisher of Living Word Publications, a small press Christian comic book publisher. He also writes and draws comics for the line. His credits include
Hell and The Prison for Kingdom Comics. He’s currently working on Beyond Mortality and Clean Slate.

You can find out more about him at www.livingwordpublications.info

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

I was fourteen — in 1993 or 94 — at the time and friends with another would-be comic creator. Back then Image was huge, and we planned on making our own splash at comics. The only problem was we had absolutely no business sense, and no talent at the time. But that was it, I got the bug.

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

I have to say that my wife Stephanie is my biggest influence. Ever since we got married eight years ago, she’s pushed me creatively and artistically to do better and better with my work. Steph has taught me to keep pushing the envelope no matter how hard it is and how far we’ve made it in the industry.

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

Norm Breyfogle. When I was first starting out in the industry, I sent Norm some samples of my work at that time. He sent back a multi-paged critique of my work that I still have to this day. Norm was honest, bluntly so about the work that I sent him, and it caused me to really seek professional training as an artist before I could continue on with my dreams.

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

Many different ways. I mainly recharge with my family, but also play video games a lot. Movies, video games, books, or even a walk in the woods near where I live and work. I’m constantly inundated by my surroundings, so no matter what I’m getting more grist for the mill, so to speak.

Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.

I wake up, down about a pot of coffee, procrastinate until after my son is fed or off to school, then my wife makes me go down to my hole — my basement studio — to work. Once down there I work from 4 to 12 hours, getting about two pages a day done, complete artwork, pencils and inks.

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

For writing, I use OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office 2007 almost interchangeably. Drawing, it’s all pens, pencils, erasers, and my Intuos 2 Wacom Tablet hooked up to Adobe Photoshop CS2 and Illustrator CS2. For final packaging of a comic to deliver to the printer, it’s Adobe Acrobat 7.

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

It’s hard to pinpoint just one piece out of everything that I do. I enjoy publishing other people’s books, and have done so with two of the books we have available now — The Overcomers, and The Improbable Barnsy kids’ graphic novel. If I had to absolutely pick a piece, it’s holding that final production copy of the book that I’ve slaved over for months to produce.

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

I have to say the current project I’m working on with newcomer writer Aric Mitchell. Clean Slate has a completely different take on a faith-based superhero. He’s an imperfect man given an extraordinary power, and has to reconcile his doubts and beliefs in such a way that will allow him to use this gift to the best of his abilities. Think one-part Batman, one part Soldier of God.

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?

Never stop trying. This is a difficult industry no matter what part of it you’re in. I became a publisher to help some of the talented newcomers to have a place to publish their faith-based works, yet I still have to turn down some people who just aren’t ready. For those that are getting turned down over and over and over again — as I originally was — I say “Never stop. Keep going, take the advice given to you by the pro’s and work it into your abilities.” If you give up, you’ve gained nothing but heartache. If this is truly your dream, keep working and never stop learning.

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?

Salvation by Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. This is a big idea shunned by so many people as either fake or weird. In this day and age my ability to stand up and say, “Hey! I produce faith-based work that’s entertaining and won’t preach at you!” is considered crazy. No matter how imperfect I am, or my work is, I know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

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