Bill Nichols’ Prescription:
Comics 10ccs of Tony Isabella
Tony Isabella is a writer and creator of some of my fave comics, stories, and characters, growing up and now.
What inspires you to create and keeps you going?
The need to create, the need to tell stories, is part of my DNA. I used to act out super-hero stories using the Marx soldiers that pretty much every boy of my generation owned by the dozens. My need to create and tell stories has never lessened since childhood. I’ve just gotten better at it over the years.
Do you have a set routine?
Sorta. I get up very early every morning to post birthdays, historical notes and remembrances on my Facebook page. I prepare my desk for whatever work I need/want to do that day. I feed our cat, making sure she has fresh water and scooping out her litter boxes.I’ll do little things to help my wife get ready before she drives to her job. Having done all that, I try to squeeze in another hour or two of sleep.
During the day, I work on whatever I need/want to do that day. I’ll take breaks to handle odds and ends. I’ll take meal breaks, during which I watch some TV. I work as late as I need to work to finish the work I had scheduled for the day. However, if it’s not coming or if I get tired, I’ll call it a day and try to do better on the next day.
What kind of output do you try to achieve?
If I’m working on a comics script, I shoot for four pages each day. Plus a blog piece or some other prose article.
What inspires you WHEN you create? Music? Noise? Silence?
The sheer love of what I’m doing. When I listen to music, it’s instrumental or non-English language. When I don’t understand the language, such as with Japanese or Spanish music, their lyrics are just part of the music. When I do understand the language, the lyrics distract me.
Who was the first comic book creator that influenced you to pursue this? When did you realize you could follow this path yourself?
Stan Lee. I’ve been reading comic books since I was four years old. Fantastic Four Annual #1 made me realize making comics was a job and that it was a job I wanted. I began teaching myself how to write comic book stories at the age of twelve.
What do you find to be a challenge in creating?
Setting aside the time to do my work. When you’re a one-man operation like I am, there are dozens of business and home things that can get between the writer and the work.
What else do you have to learn?
I have to get better at saying “no” to people. There will always be job offers that don’t pay enough to justify the time and effort they will take. There are always convention invitations and interview requests. There are so many demands on my time that, in the past, I’d routinely grant. I don’t like saying “no” to people, but I am getting better at it.
What keeps you motivated to get better?
I firmly believe in Pop’s motto from the Luke Cage series on Netflix: “Always forward.” I have no interest in writing comic books the way I did in the 1970s or the 1980s or the 1990s or even one decade ago. I never want to be the nostalgia comic-book writer.I want to write comics that resonates with the entire audience, those of my generation and those of the current generation.
Can you turn your brain (creativity) off and on?
Nope. The brain is always working, even when I am asleep. An idea will come to me and wake me up. I’ll jot it down on a pad next to my bed. An idea will come to me while I’m doing something or going somewhere and, as soon as I can do so safely, I’ll write it down for further reference. This is why I have a bucket list of over three hundred things I want to write before I kick the bucket.
What advice do you have for aspiring creators?
Get it in writing. Make sure a lawyer goes over contracts before you sign them. Don’t expect any client to give a fig about you beyond your current usefulness to them. Make decisions based on what’s best for you and not the client. Always remember that it’s better to create your own characters and series – characters and series you own – than to be the four-hundredth creator to work on Batman or Spider-Man.
Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?
Never. Ideas are easy. Developing them and then finding the time to write them are much more difficult tasks.
How do you handle the slow times?
When I don’t have a paying gig on my desk, I work on some of my back-end or personal projects. I let myself take time off to recharge my energy. I still write every day, but I’ll slow my pace so I’m well rested for the next paying gig.
How do you feel about the industry?
The comics industry has never operated in a logical manner and likely never well. The decisions made often have me shaking my head in bewilderment. As a storyteller, I pride myself on telling my tales in a logical manner. That skill is useless when it comes to figuring why a company does “this” instead of “that.”
Jack Kirby once said that comics will break your heart. It’s true to some extent. But they will also mess with your mind if you let them. Try not to let them do that.
Do you have a website?
TONY ISABELLA’S BLOGGY THING:
Answers © 2018 Tony Isabella
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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.