Posted on October 19, 2014 at 6:05 PM
Q: When did you first get into comics as a reader/fan?
know, I’ve been asked this question a few times, and I never really
have a good answer, for the simple reason that I don’t remember when I
first got into comics as a fan. I’ve been reading comics for about as
long as I can remember. Well, not completely as long as I can remember,
because I have distinct memories of a time before I was old enough to
read, but for as long as I’ve been reading, I’ve been reading comics.
Maybe even longer. Probably the first comic I ever read was this old
Superman storybook and record. It was a Superman comic (two of them in
one book, I think), that came with a record that was basically an audio
play of the two comics, so even before I could read, I would listen to
the record and follow along in the comic book.
Q: Why comics? What do you like most about this medium?
I love about comics is that comics lend themselves to certain types of
storytelling, and the marriage of the words and the pictures just
fascinates me. They’re action-packed, but there’s no actual movement, so
all of that energy has to be exhibited through still art (and we owe
guys like Jack Kirby a huge debt for leaping that art form forward). And
because, unlike with animation, or live-action, or whatever, the art is
static, you’re able to breathe it in and linger on any particular image
or page that you choose (or rush through anything that’s not as
interesting to you). You can sit there and absorb the detail and every
bit of effort that went into crafting that artwork. There’s also the
fact that certain things can be done in comic book format that don’t
work in television or films. Every superhero movie seems to hammer home
the point that the superheroes can’t be dressed like they are in the
comics. Wolverine can wear yellow spandex, but Hugh Jackman can’t. And I
get that. Comics have their own visual language.
course, comics aren’t just visual art. They’re also literature. The
visual component I think is what, as a child, helped engage me with
comic books more than prose novels ever could. Prose novels have a
unique relationship between the word and the reader. It’s up to the
reader to visualize the world that the author has put on the page, and
it would always tick me off as a kid when I’d then see a new edition of a
book I loved come out, and the new cover art would have a very
different interpretation of the world of the book from what I’d imagine
reading it. Is that what the author intended it to look like? Did I
misinterpret? Did the new cover artist misinterpret? Due to the visual
component of comic books, that ambiguity doesn’t exist. In a weird way,
it’s a cleaner way of telling the story.
comics, anyway) also rely heavily on the dialogue to help tell the
story. There’s little, if any, of the descriptive narration that exists
in prose novels. As a writer, I’ve always felt that dialogue is the most
important component of writing. If it’s crafted well, it develops the
characters and moves the plot without being heavy-handed exposition.
That’s why bad dialogue really bothers me, in any medium, be it comics,
novels, television, movies, etc. It’s one of the most important elements
of storytelling, and professional productions are allowed to be
released with such a weakness in that area.
And yes, I
realize that things didn’t always used to be that way. I grew up on
Chris Claremont X-Men. There’s a joke that goes around about Silver Age
comics that you could read them to a blind person and they’d have no
trouble following along. The dialogue was weirdly descriptive of what
was happening, and the narration boxes were redundantly descriptive. The
art of storytelling in comics has evolved immensely in the last 15
years or so, and I for one couldn’t be happier about it.
Q: Say a little about the project(s) you have worked on in the past (if any), and what they were about?
first book I ever put out was called “Bliss: The World’s Greatest
Superhero.” It was a one-shot that told the story of a man who basically
could do almost anything because he didn’t understand that he shouldn’t
be able to. He didn’t understand gravity, so he could fly. It didn’t
make sense to him that a tiny piece of lead could kill a full grown man,
so he was bulletproof. The main thrust of the story was that there was a
villain who wanted him out of the way, and how do you stop a hero like
Bliss, and what lengths will he go to to prove that he really is the
hero everyone thinks him to be?
I tried a couple of other
series after that that, unfortunately, remain unfinished, due in part to
personal (health, financial) issues in my life, and partly due to lack
of reader interest.
I also did a one-shot called “Borrowed
Time” that told the story of a man named Eric Cooper who was killed in a
car accident, but when Death (the guy with the scythe) came to collect
him, it was found that Eric was not on any of Death’s lists. It was
basically a clerical error in the afterlife. This had never happened
before, so until the situation could be worked out, Eric was given free
rein to move about the space-time continuum, up until the moment of his
own death. It then became a bit of a time-travel fantasy story, with
some pathos, due to Eric not being able to return to his family. I’ve
always planned on going back to this story, but I haven’t had time yet.
Eric’s adventures definitely aren’t done.
My most recent
completed project, and by far my most successful to date, was a
three-issue miniseries called “Bombshell.” It’s the story of a girl
named Katie who wakes up one day with superpowers in a world where such
things are purely the stuff of fiction. Since there’s no older
generation of heroes to show her the way, she tries reading a bunch of
comics and watching some movies and using those as a how-to guide for
becoming a superhero. It doesn’t go too well for her. It’s another
series that’s due for a follow-up. Because of the way my mind works,
there are about 7 or 8 sequels already written.
Q: What project(s) are you currently working on?
many, is the usual answer. The main one I’m focused on right now is a
60 page graphic novel (novella? I have a hard time calling something
that’s 60 pages a “novel,” but it’s almost 3 times as long as a standard
comic) called “AngelDemon.” There’s a Kickstarter campaign running for
it right now that I’m about to shamelessly plug:
This is a story that I’ve been wanting to tell for a while, for a variety of reasons.
is that I think there’s a viable market for it that isn’t being catered
to. I have a good friend named David Scherer, who goes by the stage
name Agape. He’s a Christian rapper from Minneapolis. I was wearing one
of his t-shirts one day at a convention, and some people noticed it and
stopped at my table to talk to me, just based on me having a positive
Christian t-shirt on (though it’s a weird feeling having people fawn
over what a “nice Christian boy” you are when you’re drawing a
commission of Wolverine stabbing Deadpool through the head). They asked
if any of my comics were Christian themed, and I had to tell them no,
they weren’t. They told me that they were having a hard time finding
anything at the show (and it was a big show) that was Christian themed.
reason is simply that I always make an effort to tell the types of
stories that I would want to read. I’m the only audience whose tastes I
can really predict. While I am Christian, I don’t always go in for
Christian-labeled entertainment, because it always seems catered to one
audience, that being a very conservative family audience. Which is
something that definitely has its time and place, so I’m not knocking
it. But there are other Christian audiences. I’m Christian, but I’m also
not offended by mature themes. Nudity, violence, swearing, etc., don’t
bother me. I firmly believe it’s possible to have mature entertainment,
entertainment that’s just as intelligent, funny, thought provoking,
etc., as anything else, and still put a Christian theme into it. As much
as I love Veggie Tales, Veggie Tales can’t be the height of maturity in
terms of Christian storytelling.
Q: What format(s) do you
prefer for telling your stories (e.g., on-going series, mini-series,
one-shot, graphic novel, etc.) and why?
A: I’m always looking
to try new things. I’d love to be able to do a monthly book. I even
tried getting one started, but it’s a ton of work and requires a ton of
resources that someone like me, who’s self-funding their projects, just
can’t really afford. If I was in a position where I could commit myself
to just creating comics, I could probably put out several monthly books
at once. I could be Brian Bendis, at least in terms of output. But bills
need to be paid, collaborators need to be paid, and the harsh reality
is that few independent books make enough money to sustain their
creators (hence why I’m looking for help funding “AngelDemon”;).
also depends on the story. There are certain stories I’ve told, or want
to tell, that couldn’t be an ongoing. They’re a story with a definitive
ending, so the story dictates that they can’t be stretched out. That’s
probably why so many move/book/comic sequels aren’t very good. The real
story has ended, and trying to artificially extend it doesn’t work.
for example, was 3 issues, because that’s how long it needed to be to
tell the story. As I mentioned above, I’ve written a bunch of sequels,
but they’ll all be mini-series as well. The character’s life story
really only works if the reader pops in on her every few months or every
few years. The style of the story means that, if you wanted to see what
happened to her every day, you’d be seeing a lot of a girl sitting
around being bored.
Stories have a way of dictating what
they need to be. If you can’t figure out yet what format to tell your
story in, you’re not ready to tell your story.
Q: What sources of information and inspiration have helped you along the way?
honestly not sure I can link back to any specific sources of
information, per se. The way I work, it’s sort of, if I hit a snag, I’ll
look up what I need to do to do that particular thing. When I first
started making comics, I looked up how to scan and clean my artwork in
Photoshop, and how to letter in Illustrator. When I started coloring my
own artwork, I looked up tutorials on how to color digitally. Things
like that. And I don’t know if I could go back and find those particular
tutorials again. But Google is a great resource, and it’s amazing to
think that for decades, people making comics did not have it. Even
Google Images is a marvel. It used to be, back in the day, artists had
to have files full of reference images. If you wanted to draw guns, you
had to have a folder full of reference images of guns. If you wanted to
draw a street scene, you needed a folder full of pictures of street
scenes, or maybe invest in some books of urban photography and/or
architecture. Even when I first started out (the better part of a decade
ago), I could look things up on Google Images, but I’d have to then
print out the pictures to help make up that file I mentioned. Now we
have smartphones and tablets and you can just have the digital copy
right with you at the drawing table. It saves a lot of paper.
for inspiration? I have a ton of it. Anything I’ve ever read or watched
that I’ve loved has been a source of inspiration. My biggest influence
when I was growing as a writer was Joss Whedon. “Buffy the Vampire
Slayer” was, in and of itself, a seminar on characterization. I was like
nothing else on TV at the time. This is also another one of those
instances where technology can be hugely helpful. Up until the advent of
DVDs (okay, maybe laserdiscs, but how many people actually owned
those?), you didn’t have things like creator commentaries on films and
television shows. Buying TV shows was a roll of the dice, because you
either only got a couple episodes of a series ever released on VHS, or
maybe Time Life would release the whole series, but you’d pay $80 a tape
for two episodes at a time, and would need to buy sometimes 80-100
tapes on a monthly schedule to complete a series. It was prohibitive for
the average person to try to purchase a TV series for home viewing.
There was no internet, no Netflix, and finding shows in syndication
wasn’t reliable, because even if you could find them, they were probably
aired out of order and edited down to fit more commercials in (and
you’d still have to watch once a week or once a day to get the full
story. It could take months or even years). But with DVDs (and later Blu
Rays), you could buy whole seasons at a time, and at a more reasonable
price (and prices have only continued to get more reasonable, at least
in most cases). And those creator commentaries are a Godsend. To be able
to hear the writers, producers, actors, etc. discuss the creative
process and what went into certain decisions, it’s like taking a college
course without the cost of tuition. There are some major clunkers in
the commentary arena, to be sure, but there’s also a lot of really
helpful information to be mined from them. Heck, some are even really
helpful as a “what not to do” instructional. I’ve listened to some
commentaries on films that had major problems, and when you get to the
parts that were really problematic, and you hear the creators discussing
what went into those decisions (even if the creators seem unaware that
what they attempted didn’t work), it can be helpful to keep in mind for
your own work.
As an artist, that’s another one of those
areas where I’ve had a lot of influences and inspirations. As I
mentioned above, Jack Kirby really helped develop the visual language of
the modern comic book, and we all owe him a huge debt. I’ve heard some
people who don’t “get” his art, or his continued popularity, and what
those fans don’t seem to understand is that, even if you don’t love
Kirby, they guys you do love love Kirby. He’s the TalibKweli of comic
books (I bet no one ever thought they’d hear the phrase “Jack Kirby is
the TalibKweli of comic books”;). Kweli is your favorite rapper’s
favorite rapper, and Jack Kirby is your favorite artist’s favorite
artist. Beyond Kirby, I’ve been influenced by Andy Kubert, Michael
Turner, John Cassaday, Jim Cheung, and Mark Brooks. I’m sure many
others, but those are the ones that pop into my head at the moment.
for pure inspiration? I have stories inside me, and I want to get them
out. One of my deepest frustrations in life is knowing that, even if I
hit it big tomorrow and could publish a half-dozen books a month, I’d
still never be able to keep up with my mental output.
Say a little about how you've been able to communicate your faith
through your project(s)? What has that process been like? How has it
evolved over the years?
A: With the type of Christian that I
am, I feel that the best way to display my faith is to live well and
lead by example. Trying to preach to people never seems to get you very
far with people who don’t share your faith, and for people who do share
your faith, well, that’s where the phrase “preaching to the choir” comes
The same thing applies to the books I’ve previously
worked on. Few of them are overtly Christian-themed (there is a book
called “Saints” that I did the art for the first three issues of that
does feature some visible Christian themes, but as I was just the
artist, not the writer, I don’t take credit for that), but they are all
entertaining books that deal with themes that anyone, Christian or not,
should be able to relate to. Sacrifice, loss, redemption, etc.
is the first book I’m trying to produce with overtly Christian themes,
and even then, I don’t think you need to be Christian to enjoy it, as
it’s not preachy, it’s just a good story with Christian themes. The
biggest theme of the story is redemption, but there’s no redemption
taking place in the book. Instead, it’s a story of how someone seemingly
beyond all hope can be put on a path where redemption might even be
possible. In real life, redemption is hard work, and not everyone’s
willing to put in that amount of work. It’s not like in movies, where
someone does one heroic thing one time and suddenly they’re a good
person for the rest of their life. If this first book is a success, the
sequels would deal with the character in question actually working
towards true redemption.
Q: What is the best way for people to contact you, and to read/purchase your work?
A: Probably the best way is through Facebook (my personal page is https://www.facebook.com/james.lynch.52438174 our fan group is https://www.facebook.com/groups/304179068342/ and our company page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hero-Universe-Comics/279103453142 ). If people want to get in touch with me directly, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
I am also, reluctantly, on Twitter, https://twitter.com/herojameslynch
I say reluctantly because I find the internet to be hugely distracting,
so I try to avoid the constant distraction, but I also realize that
having an online presence is immensely important these days. So, I’m
making the effort.
There’s also our company website, which I don’t update nearly as often as I should www.herouniversecomics.com
I also have a page on DeviantArt, http://jameslynch.deviantart.com/
can contact me directly to order our books (if you order that way, I’ll
sign your books at no extra charge), or most of our stuff is available
through IndyPlanet http://www.indyplanet.com/front/brand/HeroUniverseComics/
Q: What is your favorite Christian comic book?
this is a tough one for me. The honest answer is, I’m not sure I’ve
read any really good ones. Which is not to say that I don’t think there
are any out there. I’m 100% sure there are. But wherever they are, I
haven’t been exposed to them. Much like the folks I mentioned above, who
couldn’t find anything Christian at a major comic convention, I haven’t
been able to find any really high quality Christian comics. Most of
what I’ve found is people who, and I’m not knocking them for this, but
people who aren’t maybe the best writers/artists, who are putting out
Christian comics simply because they want to make comics that are
Christian. And that’s certainly admirable, and more power to them. But
my goal with my books is to make comics where the production values and
quality of storytelling stand up to anything you’d find at a normal
comic shop. I’d want my books to be shelved next to Marvel, DC, Dark
Horse, and Image books, not just isolated to Christian book stores.
That’s my goal. A good story is a good story, regardless of your faith.