Comic Creator Interview
with Nate McDonough
Name: Nate McDonough
City: Pittsburgh PA
Comics: Grixly, Don’t Come Back, Bears In Space
Websites: grixly.tumblr.com, facebook.com/grixly
QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?
Nate – I remember having an almost full long box of comics around the time I learned to read. My interest waxed & waned until I was eleven & found the spinner rack at a gas station down the road from my home in Watertown, WI. A couple months later I found the stack they kept in a filthy convenience store adjoined to a filthier bar by the river (the only other place in town comics could be found) & it’s been a full blown obsession ever since.
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Nate – It was an issue of Spider-Man I read until it disintegrated.
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Nate – The first issue of Grixly at age twenty-one.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Nate – Won’t answer it! But I will say the 70s are way underrated.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Nate – Not a writer. Though some can say in a few sentences what I can say with hours of crosshatching, I still love the drawing. Not just drawing because I’ve still got something to say.
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
Nate – I see plenty of overlap & interchanging of ideas between the two. It would be a real mess of a flowchart.
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
Nate – Usually between 100 & 200.
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
Nate – My rough rule of thumb is approximately a dime a page for something that really appeals to me.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Nate – The last four years I’ve drawn between two & *gulp* four hundred pages a year. For a number of reasons I’m slowing it down just a little bit.
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
Nate – Depends. Some stories are perfectly suited to the serial format (if not quite so perfectly suited to their schedule, monthly or otherwise). I guess I would say I prefer stories as complete works because the period that elapses between one installment & the other is almost always too long for me. But if someone I dig is going to spend years working on a book & they feel like serializing it or putting it out in parts, I am always the richer for it & endorse the method completely.
QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?
Nate – I don’t draw much of a line between the two. Making a good comic strip is different than making a good comic book, but so is making good comics at any two significantly different lengths
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
Nate – Sometimes a month, sometimes a year. Mostly in between.
QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
Nate – I’d like to think I’m going easier on the reader. More fluid panel layouts, better lettering, less punishingly oblique plots.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Nate – I clean everything up a little bit in Photoshop & drop all my pages into InDesign. Sometimes I’ll do type design for the cover, but everything else is by hand.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Nate – Love ‘em! Tons of drek out there to wade through to find the good stuff, but such is the case for just about anything interesting. I’m gonna forgo any prestidigitation on the future of comics digital & otherwise.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Nate – Black & white for sure! I am getting less queasy working in color though.
QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?
Nate – Just one is fine. I can see how the right team of people could make something much greater than the sum of it’s parts, but I love comics as much as I do because I’m left alone to do my thing. I’m always receptive to criticisms, advice, etc. from friends & peers; but I get to be the creative tyrant & no one gets offended. I am so glad I make comics every time someone tells me their drummer is an asshole or their boom mic guy didn’t show up or their colorist is taking too long. All that said, I love collaborating with friends on comics large & small, but there’s never really any science or rote routine when I get into that sort of thing.
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
Nate – I usually get along real well with people who love to draw & I don’t mind taking the drawing board on the road & hanging out wherever they get their work done. When one has spent enough hundreds of hours drawing with a friend, sometimes collaboration becomes inevitable.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
Nate – Depends on the writer, depends on the artist. Sure there are really thorough panel by panel scripts, but I’m sure most of them would make me put my head through the wall. Just as I’m sure there are really vague scripts that I wouldn’t be able to do a thing with & ones that I could really wild out & have a great time working on.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Nate – “Dan Clowes” he muttered lamely, hunched over staring at some shitty half finished autobio strip no one will ever give a fuck about, tears intermingling with the ink, still wet.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Nate – My friends, at the very least, all love showing up in them. As far as family goes, they all politely humor my art & ambitions. I think most of my relatives think I either operate a comic shop or draw The Fantastic Four.
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
Nate – They appeal to me about as much as any other genre in comics. Sometimes I just need to read a good Batman comic.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Nate – More & more they’re becoming like the malevolent heartless corporate entities they belong to. I know I shouldn’t say so since my Treasury Sized Man-Thing/Phantom Stranger 3D Special will probably get pulled from the upcoming solicitations if my paymasters at the respective companies spot this.
QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?
Nate – CONAN!
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Nate – It’s not quite the ideal, but it suits me fine.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Nate – I table at SPACE & walk around at SPX. Now that I’ve things besides b/w minis I suppose I ought to try tabling at more shows, but I’m always ten times more interested in looking around.
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Nate – I make a bunch of free minis. I mess around with social media. I’ve got most of my stuff available free online. I work with friends who do cool comics & we hype each other’s stuff.
QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?
Nate – I’ll sell them wherever I can.
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
Nate – Anything really, just so long as it’s cool or involves a ton of money.
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Nate – I love reading comics & am no longer quite the price guide toting mort I once was. My collection would probably stand close to a hundred feet tall if stacked comic on top of comic, so go ahead & call me a collector too.
QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
Nate – I wish I had a clue!
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Nate – People are doing exactly the right thing just so long as they’re love of comics is the one primary motivating factor.
QRD – Anything else?
Nate – For the last year I’ve had work in a really great anthology from Yellow Springs Ohio called The Kindlin Quarterly. Definitely worth checking out. Thanks!
Other QRD interviews with Nate McDonough:
Indie Comic Creator Interview Update with Nate McDonough (April 2013)