Bill Nichols’ Prescription:
Comics
10ccs of William Skaar

What inspires you to create and keeps you going?

I’m really inspired by books and movies…Less inspired by comics these days. Although comics is my chosen medium for storytelling I really don’t follow any comics on a monthly basis (are comics even still monthly?) I LOVE watching old movies. Horror movies from the 70s and 80s probably inspire me the most. 

 

Do you have a set routine?

I do. I’m painfully routine. I’m a very early morning person. I usually go to bed around 10:30 at night and and I’m up by 3:30 in the morning working. That’s my best time- the early morning when it’s still dark out and quiet. My energy and creativity are at there best then and I always get the best work done then.

 

What kind of output do you try to achieve?

I set goals for myself- nothing too rigid (because some things go quicker and some go horribly slow. I have a good pace where I know Im doing things at the best of my ability and I’m not going to rush things that just take longer. It’s a marathon for me- never a sprint. 

 

What inspires you WHEN you create? Music? Noise? Silence?

Strangely, I don’t listen to music when I work. I don’t like having my emotional state affected by the music- It’s distracting for me. Usually I will stream movies in the background- but almost always movies I’ve seen a bunch of times- so I don’t have to watch the screen…I just listen to them. I’ve probably ‘watched” Horrors of Spider Island 5000 times now haha…or old Twilight Zone episodes.  

 

Who was the first comic book creator that influenced you to pursue this?

I don’t know if he was the first, but Richard Corben has been a huge influence on me- both stylistically and also the way he seems to approach his work. I admire his ability to stay focused on what he wants to do and ignore the chaos of shifting cultural fads around him. 

 

When did you realize you could follow this path yourself?

I decided very early that I was going to follow an art path- or an artistic storytelling path…and never really wavered from that.  I’ve dipped in and out of comics over the years, simply because there was no way to make any kind of a living at it. Animation art and computer game concept art have been more lucrative. I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to practice my craft in a lot of different venues- but comics is the most personal one- the one which gives me the most creative freedom.

 

What do you find to be a challenge in creating?

I think when you sit down to do a comic book it’s the overwhelming amount of WORK involved that can be intimidating. I do everything. I write, draw, color, letter …I even send it to the printer and run the Kickstarter and then physically drive to the post office to mail out the books to backers- or to people that order them. It’s REALLY important in the early stages to break the work up into manageable pieces, or it can quickly become overwhelming and demoralizing. Every part of the process needs to have its own fun- when I write the script or break the script down into panels and dialogue I’m always trying to make that part the most fun part of the process- so that I can stay interested and do my best work.  

 

What else do you have to learn?

I have a LOT to learn about comic book storytelling. It’s such an amazing craft, when I look at guys like Will Eisner, or Mike Mignola or Richard Corben I really see how far I still have to go- but that’s the fun part! I see what these guys are doing and I’m like Holy Shit there’s all this fun potential in comics! Anyone who reads my stuff knows that “storytelling” isn’t something I’ve really taken on in a serious way yet. I’m just not ready to do that. I may never be.

 

What keeps you motivated to get better?

I think looking at guys who HAVE done it better motivates me. I look at a guy like Serpieri for instance and it really motivates me to do better work. He reminds me that my draughtsmanship can ALWAYS be better. If you think you are a person who draws well, take a look at Serpieri (or Moebius) and you will be reminded that you don’t. But again, that’s not depressing- that’s inspiring! it shows you the room you have to develop and progress. Guys like that have blazed a trail.

 

Can you turn your brain (creativity) off (and on)?

For me it’s mainly an issue of ENERGY. As I mentioned I’m a morning person- but after about 4:00 in the evening, I can feel the energy slipping away from me. By 5:00 at night I’m finished. Its like lifting weights in the gym. You start off strong but after a while your muscles are just not going to lift anymore. You can scream all you want and play Metallica but your muscles are done lifting. Things that were easy for me at 3 in the morning are suddenly impossible at 5:00 at night…and that’s when I know I’m done for the day. But as long as I’m well rested I can work just fine- I’ve never had a creative block or anything like that. 

 

Booster Shots

What advice do you have for aspiring creators?

I really think you have to cultivate a commitment to the craft which goes beyond “getting this job” or working “on that project” or anything like that. . Art is a PATH that you choose to follow, or not follow. It’s not based on jobs or money or recognition or any way social media might evaluate you. You pledge yourself to it, and it is its own reward. In my experience it’s a fantastic way to live your life…and I highly recommend it. But it’s definitely not for everyone. And the requirements of earning a living should be treated separately from the requirements of your art path. They are NOT the same thing at all.

 

Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?

Sometimes my ideas get stale- like with Deanna, there’s only so many different ways she can throw her boobs around in a graveyard haha..at that point I have to start pushing the concept in new ways, and sometimes those new ways are not immediately obvious. Then I go back to films I love or books I love and try to push that in a new direction I can get excited about. But I never worry about “running out” of ideas…as long as the culture is so rich I have an infinite well to draw inspiration from. More often than not I have too many ideas which I know I don’t have time to develop- so I have to be selective.

 

How do you handle the slow times?

I WISH I had more slow times- I would love to work in my sketchbook more. I used to spend hours just drawing silly things- monsters and sexy girls and stuff based on movies I was watching- but I have so little time now I’ve had to let a lot of that go. 

 

How do you feel about the industry?

I’m probably not a great person to ask about the “industry” since I don’t consider myself a part of it. I’ve never done mainstream American Superhero comics …and I think that’s pretty much all there is over here right? I have a lot of friends doing horror comics but I don’t really know anyone who makes a “living” doing it. Crowdfunding is opening up all kinds of new possibilities for indie creators so that’s been amazing. I’ve had two successful Kickstarters and they really have inspired me to try and find fans directly. Deanna of the Dead (my erotic series) is published in France through Tabou Editions…so I think there is a better market overseas for the kind of stuff I do. Ten years ago I thought digital was going to revolutionize comics distribution…but that keeps not happening haha. I do think the direct market system for distributing comic books is dead. And it has been dead for a LONG time. What ends up replacing it though I have no idea.

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Bill Nichols

Author, Artist, Editor for ShoutFyre.com
Bill is the creator of Arteest & Ursula comics, writer for Ringtail Cafe, co-creator of Savage Family, writer and inker of HellGirl: Demonseed. Editor for ShoutFyre and Sketch Magazine. Co-author of Camelot Forever novel series.