10 Questions for Buddy Scalera

Buddy Scalera is an accomplished comics writer, journalist, and compiler/publisher of photo reference for comics artists. In addition to writing comics including Deadpool, Agent X, Weapon X, X-Men Millennial Visions, Marvel Knights Millennial Visions, Necrotic, 7 Days to Fame, and Decoy, he has contributed to magazines including Wizard, Spin Online, Comics Buyer’s Guide, and Comics Values Monthly.

He was also the original online editor for Wizard Entertainment, and co-developed Wizardworld.com, Wizardschool.com, Toyfare.com, Toywishes.com, and Inquestmag.com. The Wizardschool.com site was so popular that Scalera hosted live events at conventions in Chicago and Philadelphia. For over four years, the New Jersey resident also hosted ComixVision, a cable-access television show devoted to comic book hobbyists.

His Comic Artist’s Photo Reference book series (Impact Books) features models in hundreds of poses, ranging from the dynamic to the mundane. The three books, People & Poses, Women & Girls, and Men & Boys, also include illustrated examples of how the photos can be used and modified for various purposes, plus a CD-ROM with hundreds of additional photos.

He’s just wrapped up planning and hosting the comics education panels for the 2009 New York Comicon. He recently written several licensed properties, and is self-publishing two new graphic novels through his After Hours Press imprint.

You can find out more about this very busy man on both his personal (buddyscalera.com) and publishing (ahpcomics.com) websites.

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

In college. I worked on the student newspaper and one of the editors mentioned that his internship was going to be at Marvel. It never dawned on me that you could work in comic books, but at that point I just knew I wanted to do it. I got a degree in Journalism, so I sort of broke in as an industry reporter.

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

That would be my father. Even from a young age, he tried to get me to understand visual language. He was an artist, so he taught me how to tell a story with pictures.

I don’t draw much, but I use what he taught me to take photographs.

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

I’m lucky, I have a good group of people who have influenced me creatively and professionally. The Godfather of Comics, Jimmy Palmiotti, was one of the guys who really helped me the most. He taught me a lot about the kind of discipline you need to work in this business. Mike Marts was my editor at Marvel and he taught me a lot about dialogue and pacing. And a former Marvel editor named Glenn Herdling taught me a lot about story structure. I’m close friends with Chris Eliopoulos, who really helps me stay focused on the core story elements. And, finally, Darick Robertson has helped me a lot, since he’s such a visual thinker. We only worked together a short time, but the influence remains.

Everyone you meet influences you somehow, but these guys have left a lasting imprint on who I am as a writer.

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

I try to get out and do things. Too many writers are insulated. You need to have experiences, so you have things to use as a foundation for your stories.

Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.

There is none. As a freelancer, I am usually reacting to work that comes in to me. And for the most part, I work in surges, so I don’t have steady projects.

But I will tell you, when I work, I have to focus. No instant messenger, no email, nothing. I just turn on iTunes and work. If I am on a serious deadline, I cant even relax, so I don’t read or watch television either.

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

When I write, I just use my Mac with Microsoft Word. When I write for video or television, I tend to use FinalDraft. As a photographer, I use a nice dSLR camera and Photoshop. I also carry around a digital audio recording device to save ideas.

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

Like a lot of writers, I am very critical of my own work. But when I meet a fan or get an email, it’s worth all the time and effort. If you can entertain or influence someone through your creativity, it’s really fulfilling.

Most of my work has been in doing photo reference for comic artists, so I get a lot of email regarding my pictures. Artists sometimes send me art that they’ve created from one of my photos, and that’s really exciting for me.

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

I think my most rewarding was my first CD-ROM Visual Reference for Comic Artists: Vol. 1. This project was rejected by several publishers and even by Diamond. Nobody wanted it. So I took a risk and printed them myself and sold them directly at Wizard World Philadelphia. And I completely sold out.

That led to a lot of interesting opportunities, including a three-book project for IMPACT books.

Sometimes you have to ignore the critics and experts and do what you think is right.

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?

“Treat it like a real job.”

I’m amazed at how poorly people present themselves at conventions or over email. You may just be breaking in and there may be no money, but that’s not a good excuse to present yourself or your work in a sloppy way.

Dress, speak, and act as professionally as you can, and people will treat you as a professional. Even though comics may be a dream for you, it’s still a business.

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?

For me, it’s a simple idea: “You can pay now or pay later. But you always have to pay.”

I learned a long time ago that there is a price for everything. It usually means that you have to spend time to get where you want to be.

If you try to skip that time — specifically in how you practice your craft — it will come back and haunt you. You have to practice and work at your craft before you progress to the next stage. It is true for writers, artists, and anyone who wants to work in a creative field.

Work hard now, benefit later.