Category: Super Creatives series

Paul Jenkins is one of the premier creators and writers of comic books, graphic novels and video games in the world today. After five years working with the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he began his freelance writing career in 1993 as scribe of the DC Comics Hellblazer. In 1997 Paul won an Eisner for his work on Marvel comics Inhumans series. He has since worked on virtually every comic character in the business, including Spider-Man, Batman and The Incredible Hulk, and the smash hit Wolverine: Origin, for which he won five Wizard Fan Awards.

Other work for Marvel includes the blockbuster Frontlines series, a part of the Civil War event, the Mythos series, and Captain America: Theater of War. Upcoming work includes the Thor: Heaven and Earth miniseries. In addition, his creation The Sentry has become a mainstay of the Marvel Universe. Paul’s work as Writer and/or Creative Director in the video game genre includes Twisted Metal: Black, Soul Reaver, Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, God of War and others. 2007’s The Darkness earned him a BAFTA nomination for storytelling and characterization. His latest work, Activision’s Prototype, hit stores in 2009, and he is currently hard at work on at least one unannounced blockbuster title. Paul has written a number of movie screenplays including Tatua, to be produced by Rick Schwarz (Departed, Aviator, Gangs of New York). He recently directed the 30-minute CybeRacers animated film.

1.  Paul you are involved in many creative projects, could you share with us what you have on the go at the moment and a little about your new media business.

“Trans Media” is the buzzword du jour of the entertainment industry but I’m not fond of it. That’s because in order to have a product that truly crosses between print publishing, video games, film/animation and new media (such as iPhone), you must be able to understand how to create in each arena. I have the weird distinction, I think, of actually being able to create in all of these places because I’m currently working on projects in each of them. I think being able to guide a franchise through different media is the true definition of the term.
A number of years ago, I became dissatisfied with simply writing comic books. Comics are a wonderful way to tell a story but the audience is limited. I was lucky enough to work with Dave Jaffe (then at Sony) on a couple of projects, and this put me into the world of video games. I’ve since co-directed some animation and have voice directed for a few games. My company – Clockstop Entertainment – is also working on a few iPhone and iPad application ranging from games to functional plugins.
So while I see for example a number of film production companies bringing in a video game advisor, or perhaps turning towards publishing, I haven’t found anyone yet who has the patience to learn how to actually make the games themselves. To be honest, it is really hard. I love doing games but I have often said you need to take the difficulty of directing a motion picture and multiply that by ten. Bottom line: I never sleep!

2. If you could pick any entertainment franchise to work on, which would you choose?

Honestly? I rarely answer that question directly because I’m of the opinion that all characters have validity. Maybe I feel I have a lot to say, or that you can’t shut me up, I don’t know… I’ve just never been a fan of, say, Spider-Man or the Silver Surfer anymore than I am a fan of the Green Lantern. If I had to pick one, I would probably pick the Halo franchise because I happen to think the storytelling there is very atmospheric – the game developers have really created a cool universe that just seems so real to me. Mind you, it’s probably because I normally play games at 5AM when I am ready to fall asleep. Maybe the whole thing was just a dream.

3. What has been the highlight of your career as a writer so far and why?

There are a couple. My little old Mum in Britain once called me to say how proud she was of me because the fans spoke well of the way I conducted myself at conventions. I am a fairly friendly bloke and I have always understood that the fans pay my wages. I really enjoy speaking to them, so it was nice that it got back to my Mum. Another highlight is that Joe Quesada (Marvel EIC) once called me to say that he had been speaking with Stan Lee, who had been complimentary about a story I was doing. I am sure Stan has forgotten by now but it was cool at the time.
I guess the highlight so far goes back to my days working for Mirage Studios, owners of the TMNT franchise. Back then, the place was really hopping and we were inundated with requests for our time. But one time, I pulled some major strings to have one of the actors in a Turtle suit visit a little boy dying of cancer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The little guy died the very next day but his Mum wrote to thank me. She said that as hard as it was to lose their child (and as a parent I can barely imagine it), her last memory of her son was how excited he was to have met Raphael the Ninja Turtle. She explained that she and her husband would always think of him laughing and chatting in his final moments, and this helped them to say goodbye. That kind of thing is more important to me than any kind of accomplishment or award.

4. How do you see the creative industries in twenty years time? Will the independent mediums (TV, FILM, BOOKS, COMICS) have combined into one amorphous mass of hand held entertainment? Will there be room for the purists? Or will a new kind of fan evolve?

Will Eisner once stated the comic industry had “died twenty times during his lifetime.” I think by that he was saying that people’s interests are fickle, and probably somewhat cyclical. At some point smart phones will seem quaint because we’ll be programming our dreams or watching movies on the lapels of our jackets, or something. The truth is, each form of entertainment has its own set of rules. On a cold day you can sit down with a book, add in a dash of your imagination, and perhaps a cup of hot chocolate, and you have an experience that cannot be recreated by, say, a video game. The rules of seeing a new release at a movie theater involve overpaying for a massive Coke and a tub of popcorn, and sitting through the event until it ends. But take that same film and put it on DVD and you simply change the viewing parameters. Now, you can pause the story, go off and make a sandwich, etc. So when that same film comes onto your iPad it’s just a different way of being able to view the same film but it creates a different experience. Television did not bring an end to the movies, video games did not signify the end of novels, and iPhones are hardly likely to kill theatre. People like all types of content and all kinds of methods to consume it.
In twenty years time I would imagine we’re still going to be wearing jeans and eating junk food and reading books or playing console games. And I honestly don’t think that someone who enjoys, say, a good novel will be seen as a purist. (It should be noted, by the way, that if we do perfect a way to program our dreams, it will be the porn industry that develops it first. )

Nicola grew up in Sydney, Australia, on an unhealthy diet of 70’s American TV where her fetish for people in shiny outfits with amazing powers germinated. Coming from an artistic family, there was rarely a time when she didn’t have a pencil or paint brush in her hand so rendering her favourite icons was par for the course.

After a couple of mini careers modelling, acting and costume designing, she moved into the comic book industry, as a penciller, in 2002 with work for Australian publisher, Phosphorescent Comics. She then spent a couple of  years living in New York City chasing the dream.

Now back in Australia, Nicola has worked for Dark Horse, Top Cow, Image and IDW. Since 2006 Nicola has been working for DC Comics on monthly titles “Birds Of Prey”, “Secret Six” and “Wonder Woman” with Gail Simone, and recently “Blackest Night: Wonder Woman” with Greg Rucka. She is currently on a run of “Teen Titans” with JT Krull.

1. You began your career as an actress. Does your desire to perform ever clash with the very back room nature of penciling? How do you get your fix?

I’m actually quite happy being by myself. I get work done, potter around the house, talk to the cat, sing at the top of my voice. Sometimes I go a little stir crazy and I don’t quite know it. My husband will ask about the last time I was outside. If I can’t remember, he drags me out for a walk. I try to catch up with my friends regularly and I see my family all the time. They’re all pretty loud, big talkers, and we all “perform” for eachother. Other than that, I do get to do conventions pretty regularly, and that puts you in front of people. That’s enough for the performing side, but I really get to flex my acting muscle through the work. I act out all the scenes I draw, from each characters perspective, so I can find the truth in the moment. That’s really where i get my fix.

2. As an Australian, based in Sydney, do you feel distanced from the hub of the comic industry? Does an artist need to ideally be based be in NYC.

The great thing about  the industry now is that you can be anywhere. As long as you have an internet connection, you’re good to go. That said, I do feel removed from the action and that can be good and bad. Like any freelancer knows, doing the work is only half the job, keeping the work coming is the rest and a constant thing. I have a contract with DC Comics, so I don’t need to spend much time getting work, but making sure I’m being thought of for bigger and better jobs is tricky from the other side of the world. It’s missing those incidental face to face moments with editors that can really hinder ones progress. I go over to the States at least once a year, just to remind editors that I’m here. It’s how almost every big jump I’ve had has happened. The up side of being away from the hub of the industry is that I miss out on all the drama that can take place. I’m not into drama.

3.      What skills do you like in a comic writer, and what makes you job harder?

I like working with character driven writers. I love drawing all the subtle moments that people can have as well as the action. I’ve had the good fortune of working with a number of really great writers that have a confident grasp of the sequential art form so I haven’t really faced much in the way of trouble spots, like a novice writer putting too many actions into one panel. Really, my job is only harder when I have to draw something challenging, but that always turns out to be the most satisfying work to complete.

4.  What’s you favourite piece (of your own work) and why?

There was a pin-up I did for my folio just a couple of years before I started working at DC. It was of Wonder Woman and it hit just the right note. That image circulated it’s way around the internet, got published in Wizard Magazine and made an impression on everyone that saw it. It still pops up pretty regularly and is by far my most famous image. Earlier this year I had a chance to re-draw the image, bring it up to date with my current style and ability, for the land mark #600 of Wonder Woman. It was coloured by the fantastic Jason Wright and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

5. If you could try something completely different, what would it be?

Well, I have had experience doing costume and production design for film and for stage and I wouldn’t mind getting to further those skills in the future.

6. What will Nicola Scott be doing in five years time?

See above! Seriously I hope to still be doing comics, maybe a little less than now, but also working with design departments in the film and TV industry. it’s certainly where I’m just now starting to slowly steer my career.

ZOMBIE KING, ARTHUR SUYDAM

Award winning creator and Marvel artist Arthur Suydam’s meteoric rise to superstardom for his work for the smash hit series Marvel Zombies broke graphic novel records, immediately placing the artist in the category of comic legend.

Arthur Suydam was recently honoured with: the Spike TV Scream Award (best writer, best artist, best comic of the year) Suydam’s short story Christmas Carol was chosen for inclusion in The Mammoth Book of Horror and Legends for best comic horror stories of all time and The Art of Painted Comics (2008). Recently honoured with inclusion in Spectrum 14: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Suydam was also honoured with the prestigious Gold Award in Spectrum 12, in 2006, the San Sebastian Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and numerous fan-site favorite awards across the globe.

Suydam’s popular covers have graced the covers of Deadpool ,  Marvel Zombies, Dead Days, Marvel Zombies #2, Marvel Zombies#3, , Wolverine, Fantastic Four, The Incredible Herc, X-men, Ghost Rider, Thor, Spider Girl, Black Panther,  Oz Chronicles and more. In 2008 Marvel released an exclusive hard cover tribute to the works of this unique artist entitled Marvel Zombies, The Covers dedicated to Suydam’s ground breaking work.

As a world class musician Suydam has composed and performed numerous film soundtracts . A list of Suydam’s band members reads like a whos-who list of Rock’s legends including musicians from Bob Dylan, Paul Mc Cartney’s wings, Steely Dan, Paul Simon group, Aretha Franklin, The Stones, Billy Joel and many more . Suydam’s current group The Gotham Playboys recorded 3 albums and won the Grammy for The Sessions with Bruce Springsteen.

1.You’re a talented musician and writer as well as an artist. Do you find the Arts war inside you? How do you satisfy each of their thirsts?

The wars inside and everywhere else seem to relate to there just not being enough time.  For me personally, working to master a skill required to be able to competently express oneself in a given art form is a life long pursuit . One that begins when once committed, and ends with the grave.

The best I can do is to chip away at each of them as best I can.  Slowly over the decades, to get in as much wood-shedding and on the  job  experience and practice possible.   When inevitably we come face to face with our own short  comings and with the competition; set  targets, make plans. Shoot high. Start swimming. Doggie paddle until one learns how to swim.

2.  What has been your defining moment as a creative person?

I believe that  would have to be the brush with death I experienced when I caught fire as a five year old.  The doctor told my parents I was not expected to survive. I spent a year in the hospital and decades working to recover. Being set  back physically, having to play catch up with the other kids who were my own age but after I lost that  year, were bigger stronger faster and one grade ahead of me in school.

3. It’s said that “your work helped revolutionize the industry and began the comic art renaissance of the 1980’s, opening doors for mainstream writers and artists to create literature for a more mature readership.” What is your reaction to this statement?

I believe what they may be referring to is that some professionals credit me with  introducing painted graphic story telling to the comic  medium. I believe it was around 1972 when  I showed up at DC Comics with oil painted comic story boards  for  publication. That and the actual short stories I  wrote for comics back then were among the first non-underground “graphic  novel” style stories, as they  are called  today, published  in   mainstream comics. Those stories were  written for a  sophisticated audience rather than the standard seven-to- ten year olds that the main-stream comic publishers were producing  for at the  time.

4. Do you envisage “New Media” impacting the way you express yourself?

Too soon to tell.  I believe my natural “forte” artistically  speaking is writing and visually designing animated  movies, like those produced by Pixar Studios.

Musically, I believe my calling is as a song writer and vocalist, two areas that seem to get the least amount of time, unfortunately, due to practical demands (rent).

5.     What would you like to be doing in ten years time?

The above two items. That, and having the time to study the vast body of study materials I have been collecting over the years for my own personal development.

**Watch an interview with Arthur Suydam recorded at Long Beach Comic Con.

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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