QUICK QUESTIONS WITH Conor McCreery
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO COMICS?
My name is Conor McCreery and I am the co-creator and co-writer with Anthony Del Col of Kill Shakespeare, published by IDW.
WHAT COMIC ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Kill Shakespeare is my baby, we’re just putting to bed the 12th issue which is the end of the first run.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
The best part of making comics is getting to see the lettering proof for the first time – that’s an awesome moment.
WHAT’S THE WORST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
Probably reading through your work and then suddenly getting a better idea on how you could have done something. Oh, and being poor – GRIN.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER COMICS?
My “Mean Uncle Joe” was a huge collector of comics. We used to go over to his house and he’d let us read and sometimes borrow all these old silver-age books. I read a lot of his Thor and Daredevils. I think I still have a few kicking around at my folks’ place.
WHO IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WORK?
Our artist, Andy Belanger has been a huge influence on my work. Andy is a fantastic storyteller in his own right and he’s certainly taught me a lot about how to refine my visual style.
I’d also say I’m influenced by the films of Stanley Kubrick – I find him an incredible humanist. And of course the Bard is a biggie. Shakespeare’s stories are larger than life and filled with sex, magic, betrayal, honour, sacrifice, cross-dressing and double crossing. Really, that’s all the things that make comics great as well.
WHAT TOOLS OF THE TRADE DO YOU USE?
Since I write (and can’t even draw a straight line without a ruler) I rely on simple tools. I like to write first drafts on yellow-message pads and use a blue pen (and a red pen for editing). I do my second through umpteenth drafts on my computers. One is a handmade puppy a buddy of mine in Montreal put together for me, the other is a crappy Gateway laptop.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE WORK OF WHICH YOU ARE MOST PROUD?
Kill Shakespeare is all I have out professionally in the comic world. Although the 100 plus issues of wrestling comics I wrote and “drew” in high-school have a special place in my heart.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
Probably Ben McCool telling me to stop being myself and to try to be more like him – it definitely has landed me far more women
WHAT IS THE WORST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
Probably also Ben McCool telling me to stop being myself and trying to be more like him – as I’m engaged and all those extra women are just difficult to explain.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CURRENT IRISH COMIC SCENE?
Since I am part of the Diaspora (my passport comes through my Dad who was born and raised in Dublin) I don’t always see the local scene as clearly. But I am always amazed at the number of great Irish creators who are scattered across the industry.
I also think that Irish mythology makes a LOT of appearances. In Kill Shakespeare we designed the faeries (like Puck) with an eye towards Irish mythology.
I love the way the Fey are presented in Irish folklore – that sort of “alien-ness”. These are creature of another world who are concerned about human emotions and problems in the way we’re concerned about whether or not a grasshopper has anxiety issues.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN IRISH COMIC IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
Well, I know about a certain Irishman who has an amazing project that is going to let the world see one of the Island’s greatest heroes (if not the greatest hero) in a totally new light. I’m super pumped by this.
I can’t give anything away, but when I was a kid my Father used to tell me bedtime stories about this character – so I can’t wait.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN COMICS IN GENERAL IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
My biggest wish for comics is for them to stop being seen as a “genre”, and instead being seen for what they are — a rich medium that tells all manner of stories.
It really pisses me off when somebody tells me “they don’t read comics”. It’s like saying “Oh, I don’t listen to music”, or “I don’t look at paintings”. What? What the &^%$ are you talking about?
We need to make sure people realize that whatever their taste in literature is there is a great comic, and likely dozens of great comics, waiting there for them.
Here in Canada a really ambitious graphic novel called Essex County by Jeff Lemire was nominated for a national literature prize and when it came time for the jury to discuss the work a couple of them had the gall to admit they hadn’t even finished the comic because, well, you know, it was just a comic. That annoyed me to know end, it was so arrogant and dismissive of an entire art form.
Thankfully I think that is slowly starting to change, but the industry really needs to work hard at capturing mainstream awareness because otherwise all these fantastic artists and writers and stories are not going to get out to the eyeballs they so richly deserve.
WHAT WAS THE LAST COMIC THAT MADE AN IMPACT ON YOU?
Oh wow, what day is it today? I try to read at least six graphic novels a month and then I have all my regular books I pick up. I’m really enjoying Morning Glories by Nick Spencer, and Ed Brubaker’s Criminal series is always amazing.
I have to say though I was pretty blown away by IDW label mate Locke & Key. It’s rare that a comic actually gives me a scare and this series does.
And of course there is Blacksad, I just got that anthology from my lovely fiancée and I think its some of my favourite art in the world.
Daytripper (by Ba and Moon) really moved me, and I ALWAYS have time for Charles Burns and Black Hole.
I’m pretty interested to read Chester Brown’s Paying for It (all about his real life experiences as a john).
I always was really blown away by how good the two Umbrella Academy trades are, and I was pretty excited that Eric Powell got back writing The Goon.
Oh, shit. How can I not mention Mike Carey? ALL his work amazes me – especially Lucifer. Or Darwyn Cooke – his Parker books are blow you away good.
I could go on all day…
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO START MAKING THEIR OWN COMICS? (And don’t say DON’T 🙂 )
The first thing I would say is ALWAYS work to get better. There is no level that is “good enough” to be a pro. If you are not constantly evolving and improving your career will whither and die on the vine.
Then I’d say be prepared to market the fuck out of your work. The publishers will help but you need to be a SHAMELESS self-promoter. If you’re the type who thinks that art lives in an ivory tower and that it is to base to try to market your work and hustle for dollars, I think you’re in the wrong business.
Also be professional. We landed five different offers for Kill Shakespeare because we wore suits, we had great business cards AND we had a pitch document/business plan that detailed to perspective publishing partners EXACTLY how we thought Kill Shakespeare could make money and what our plans were (creative and business) going forward.
And finally, get REALLY good at writing a five or six page scene that encapsulates what your idea is really about. If you can serve up five or six awesome pages a) if you don’t draw then the artist you work with can find the time to churn out those pages and b) if you can get a compelling scene out in five or six pages that has a beginning, middle and end you’ll have gone a long way to showing you can handle a full 22 or more.
And last? Keep at it. This is a tough industry to break in to, but editors do notice the guys and gals who stay at it and keep in touch (without being pushy) and are always asking about how to get better.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
Just that I am really excited to see where the Irish scene goes next. I think in film (and especially Hollywood) the Irish have done an incredible job of telling all manner of stories. I can’t wait to see how the medium of comics is used to further those stories.
I can’t wait to read the first AMAZING story about someone dealing with the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger. There must be hundreds of compelling tales from the last decade – so get writing them people!
Conor McCreery is the co-creator and co-writer with Anthony Del Col of Kill Shakespeare, published by IDW.