Bill Nichols’ Prescription:
Comics 10ccs Mark Verheiden
A long time ago I joined a group of creative people known as APA-5. About the time I joined several of the members had left or were leaving to start up and build Dark Horse Comics. Mark was the first CM (Central Mailer) of the group and I’ve followed his and the other DHers ever since.I still do.
What inspires you to create and keeps you going?
When I was younger (like grade school), I loved making up stories and I guess I got the bug then. As to what keeps me going, the jokey answer is “making a friggin’ living!”, but truth is I would be writing for myself (and still do), regardless of my circumstance. You just have to do it! It’s in the blood.
Do you have a set routine?
Depends on the project. If I’m doing a TV show, then those dictate long hours, usually 7 days a week when you’re in the middle of things. When things aren’t quite so intense but I’m trying to finish something, I try to write a solid three/four hours a day. When I’m just futzing around, it’s “flexible.”
What kind of output do you try to achieve?
When on deadline, it depends on how much time I’ve got. I once wrote a 55 pageTV episode in 36 hours because there was no more time. That was insane. Without that sort of deadline, if I can come up with something that tells me I’m going in the right direction, that makes me happy. But I am NEVER happier than when I finish something and hit “send.”
What inspires you WHEN you create? Music? Noise? Silence?
I used to like music. Now, silence. So get off my lawn!
Who was the first comic book creator that influenced you to pursue this?
Probably Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. I LOVED Marvel in the 60s, especially the Fantastic Four. And in prose fiction, I loved (and love) Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Stephen King.
When did you realize you could follow this path yourself?
I wrote and optioned a couple super-low budget movie scripts back in the 80s, but I think I really started to believe I might have a future when my Oregon pals started Dark Horse Comics and I wrote my first published comic, The American. It actually sold okay and got solid reviews. My Sally Field moment.
What do you find to be a challenge in creating?
Everything. I’ve been facing blank computer screens professionally for 32 years now. That said, some aspects do get easier with experience… I know I can usually solve script problems on the fly, and I can tell how much time a rewrite or “write” is going to take. But overall I’ve found the process getting harder with time, maybe because I’m tough on myself, or know too much about how difficult it is to wind things through editorial and/or production.
What else do you have to learn?
Same answer… everything. I want to be better at everything.
What keeps you motivated to get better?
Endless rage at myself. (I’m not kidding. I can get real cranky.)
Can you turn your brain (creativity) off (and on)?
No. And it drives my wife crazy when I wake up at 2AM and start typing notes on my i-pad.
What advice do you have for aspiring creators?
Try to write something you love. I enjoy cop shows, but have always steered toward fantasy/superhero/horror. I like writing those worlds. But be realistic… if you love writing Lithuanian opera, understand that you’re working in a niche of a niche, so temper expectations appropriately! Develop a thick skin. Take advantage of ANY opportunity that arises. (I sold my first feature screenplay for $500. Best $500 I ever made!). Start if possible when you’re young, pre-family, responsibilities, mortgages, etc. And keep your temper. That may sound obvious, but no one wants to deal with a hot head unless they’re a super duper genius, and I have yet to meet one of those. In fact the most talented people are usually the calmest.
Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?
When I’m in the thick of something, actually I don’t. I think that comes from years of working in television, where ideas fly fast and furious. There are times when I just get tired…
How do you handle the slow times?
I luckily haven’t had many, so I try to relax. Corollary to this, SAVE MONEY when you can. Because there WILL be slow times.
How do you feel about the industry?
I’m not sure I have much of an opinion right now. As I write this, comics are obviously going through a massive upheaval with the advent of the coronavirus. Same with film/TV. So anything I say may be moot in a month. Apart from that, I’ve met some of the greatest people on all sides of publishing and film/TV, but I’ve also met some real pieces of work. The nasty, corporate types can suck the life and fun out of almost anything, but I have been very fortunate in that most I’ve dealt with were supportive.
And do you have a website you would want to direct folks to?
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.