As you know, I'm a huge comics junkie. I was away during the 90s. I think a lot of people took that decade off from comics. Like any business or art, comics are cyclical, and the 90s was very much a time of the artist. The 2000s, though, are shaping up to be a decade of the writer. The writers are the big draws right now in the comics industry, and I think that's fantastic.
Here, I've put together a few quotes from comics writers I really enjoy from Writers on Comics Scriptwriting 2, where writers who work in either the work-for-hire world of "The Big 2": Marvel or DC (and sometimes Image) and the often creator-owned world of Dark Horse, Vertigo (and sometimes Image), talk about their processes and work.
Brian Michael Bendis
(current books: New Avengers , Secret Invasion and others)
"Can you describe what your typical work day is like?"
I get up at one or two in the afternoon and get all my business done. Then I get out of here and get on my bike--usually with my kid now--and we take off and do a bunch of stuff. Bike riding is a big part of my writing now. I know it is because the minute I took up bike riding as a dialy activity, there was a response from people to my writing. It's just something about cardiovascular activity and the brain: the scenes start happening in my head and the characters start talking and I can't get home fast enough. So whatever my writing problem for the day is, it's been solved and I just have to transcribe it for the night. Then I do the family stuff, put everyone to bed and then write sometimes for fifteen minutes and sometimes for eight straight hours. I'm down there working on something, doing something work-related all night long. And then I go to bed about 7am. (21)
(current books: Uncanny X-Men [with Matt Fraction], Captain America)
"How organized and focused a writer are you?"
A lot less than I need to be. I used to very, very ogranized about work, but what I found happens with me is I'll go through stints where I'm getting a ton of work done and I'm very ogranized about everything, and then I'll do something stupid like take on a side project because I think I have enough time to do something extra on top of what I'm doing. And that throws a huge wrench into everything because the side projects are inevitably more fun. I kind of alot one week to each thing; do the outline on Monday or Tuesday and then write the whole comic on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. But I often end up having to work through the weekend. The last six months or so has been a period of playing catch up, and over the next three or four months I'm just trying to get really far ahead on all the books [...] What I try to do is get up about 8am, read for a little whileand look at some online news sites. If I've got the outline written for the week, then I can sit down and start working right away and work through till lunch. Usually if it's a good day, I'll knock off around 3. That's what my actual schedule is supposed to be. But if I don't have the outline written, oftentimes on Monday or Tuesday I just kind of dawdle around the house staring at the walls or seeing what TIVO has recorded. So a lot of times Monday and Tuesday are really wasted and Wednesday through Friday are ten-hour long days. Whatever doesn't get done then, I end up working late at night on Saturday and Sunday. (44)
(current books: 1985 , Ultimate Avengers )
"What's a typical writing day like for you?"
I've always tried to mix with normal people and live a normal life, because I've heard horror stories of people who sleep all day, write comics all night, have a heart attack, die or have a nervous breakdown or whatever. That kind of lifestyle's great if you're Batman, but I think if you actually want to function in the normal world, you should try to keep it close to a 9 to 5...especially since I got married and my daughter was born. I thought it was important to be like everybody else's dad. Anyway, in a typical day I get up around 7 o'clock, see my daughter off to school, and then I'll sit and do emails. Email is the curse of the 21st Century. Everyone got email thinking it was going ot make us more productive, but it's made us massively less productive. Every day now starts with ninety minutes of replying to emails and checking stuff out online. It's awful, and I'm sure it's some defect in my character, but I actually can't start working until I've spent a good half-hour reading all the message-boards. I'm genuinely embarassed about the neediness in my character [laughs]. A few good reviews can totally brighten up your work schedule for the morning, and a few bad ones can crucify you for the day. (152)