Comic Creator Interview
with Lucas Herr
Name: Lucas Herr
City: Dayton, Ohio
Comics: The ERAS series, The Tomb of Naomi, Changeling, Socialfist (links to all except Tomb are on my site)
QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?
Lucas – Growing up, my family had a few Farside, Calvin & Hobbes, Dilbert, & Zits collections; but no “comics”. I poured over those volumes, but eventually faded away from comics until junior high when I found webcomics. Then in high school I made friends with some other people who made their own comics & that got me to make my own, though I’m the only person from that group who is somewhat successful. My first comics then were these hastily drawn 20 minute pieces where I’d stay up till 2 in the morning doing 5 or 6 of them & they were weird things, though I made the mistake of throwing them away a while back. Then during my junior year I left the school to study graphic design at a vo-tech school & stopped drawing comics for the time being, the biggest reason was that I had no audience & I started feeling a lot more conscious about how bad my comic art was. High school ended & pretty soon while I attended college I ended up hiring the first artist, P. Cattelini for the first version of Socialfist & from there I was regularly making comics.
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Lucas – Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus #1. I was a Magic: The Gathering player at the time, I’d won the tournament that night & instead of getting more cards I bought a comic with a funny title & cool art. Little did I know that it was by Mike Mignola - & I loved the Hellboy movies. That got me into my first comic craze with the BPRD stuff.
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Lucas – Jeeze, I was like 16 when I started doing my first series, Carl the Dark Lord of Menial Labor. As for the first thing that got online - that was Super Feudal Communist Russia Team Squad Now! when I was 18 or so with P. Cattelini on the art.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Lucas – I think each decade has its own merits & I honestly haven’t read enough to be a good judge. Its like, while the 90s had the Liefeld influence, you had a lot of counter culture comics like Morrison’s superhero work & Gaiman’s Sandman & Alan Moore who were around (though that is a bit of the late 80s too…).
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Lucas – There is something magical about the sequential art where, when you get a good team together, you can get people to see exactly what you want them to see while also letting them control the story.
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
Lucas – I don’t think there is any one path to mainstream comics & I think a lot of indie & mini-comics people don’t want to work on Marvel & DC stuff or even Image. That said, I think doing any comics at all is a better path to getting mainstream work as opposed to doing nothing or just wanting to write them.
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
Lucas – Back in 2010 I printed 20 copies of Socialfist Chapter 1 & 2 to give out, which was just so I could talk to other creators at SPX.
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
Lucas – As much as it takes to make them, honestly. That isn’t like a flat number & I think that the industry is having issues, because they aren’t changing fast enough. There are people out there who make webcomics & earn more than professional comic artists from people donating to support them & those main comics are free. Thrillbent is releasing digital comics for free & then offering collections for money if people prefer that & that is amazing. DC & Marvel & the other companies are lagging behind by charging full print for digital instead of lowering that price to invite more readers while focusing retailers on trades & backwork.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Lucas – Ha-ha, as many as it takes for me to make a living off of writing & making comics to be completely honest. I’m nowhere close to that - I’d need to be doing a new mini-comic every month with a large Kickstarter backing & then I’d have to sell out everything that I’d get to even get close to enough right now - though I am working on some alternate projects for support.
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
Lucas – Both parts have their own merits. Serialized comics tell stories differently than graphic novels or even collections. The rate at which you digest media determines how you feel about it, but there is no right or wrong answer.
QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?
Lucas – Comic strips are a different format & as an idea, there is nothing wrong with them. Johnny Wander is a perfect example of what I wish more comic strips were like. The problem is most comics have been going so long that it is hard to keep them fresh & there is no reason to keep them fresh. Like, unless everyone drops Garfield from the paper, he can keep eating lasagna.
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
Lucas – It depends on the project. I’ve been doing a graphic novel script for over a year with rewrites & breaks & other projects in between & once it is done I’ll still have another few months - maybe even another year till it sees print - if it ever does.
QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
Lucas – Work with the artist & talk to them. Early on everything was solely my vision - though it was usually really rough & now I try & incorporate the artists a lot more.
QRD – Do you do thumbnails?
Lucas – I do. It helps me to see what the scripts I write might look like, so I can decide to add beats or panels or even just describe the comic better.
QRD – At what size do you draw?
QRD – What does your workstation look like?
Lucas – A laptop, a laptop pad, & a couch or a chair.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Lucas – I start writing out my ideas in TextEdit from the start.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Lucas – Digital comics when done well - by not taking away control or adding sound - are amazing & I totally dig the idea of webcomics & the freedom that it offers creators. You learn as you go & hopefully force yourself to improve as a creator.
QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?
Lucas – There is no perfect answer for this besides “as many as you need.” I usually have me as the writer, an artist, & then an editor to tell me where I am failing horribly.
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
Lucas – Reddit has been good with the ComicBookCollabs & DeviantArt. You have to reach out to people politely & professionally.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
Lucas – It depends on how you are going to work with the person. If you are doing corporate work where there isn’t really time to collaborate, then you need to explicitly spell everything out. My editor gave me the general advice of “as much as you need to get your idea across so the artist can understand it.”
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Lucas – Ha-ha, I’ve been told I write better than Scott Lobdell, which I always appreciate. I personally like to think I have a Morrison-y vibe with concepts.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Lucas – My family is incredibly supportive of me. My friends are usually more critical since they actually read them & I appreciate that. Most of them like my work.
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
Lucas – Modern gods? A good genre sometimes plagued by it’s own legacy? I like them. I’m not opposed.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Lucas – Marvel all the way. People’s stories & less horrible editorial stories.
QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?
Lucas – Any that could make me money. Umm, it really depends on how I’d be writing for them & the amount of freedom I’d be given. On my Tumblr a few times I’ve run something called “The Pitch Machine” where people suggest a character or character idea & I write a story around that, that is actually how ERAS got started, & I think any character has the potential for a good story. If I had to pick anyone though, I’d like to write a good Superman story or something crazy like Doom Patrol.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Lucas – I already do & it works fine so far starting out.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Lucas – I’ll be tabling at Heroes Con this year & I had a lot of fun there last year. I’ve also enjoyed SPX but it is impossible to get a table there - but a lot of friends show up. Beyond that, I don’t really try for many shows. I did go to Gem City Comic Con this year & it was kind of sad & depressing. Too many retracing artists, not enough original projects & not enough space to talk to creators.
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Lucas – Friends, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, & otherwise not enough.
QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?
Lucas – The first ERAS & a few other comics have ended up in shops where people check them out or buy them, which is always good.
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
Lucas – If I wanted to write for those mediums, I would. That said, Changeling started as an animated cartoon pitch for Adult Swim that I never sent in. If someone wanted to do Changeling as a TV show that would be great. & I would dig some Socialfist action figures.
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Lucas – I am a horrible collector. I usually donate my old stuff I don’t want or that I collected as a trade to the children’s hospital. I am all about reading the books. Enjoy the story as the story, not as an object.
QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
Lucas – 10 years from now it is all going to be digital or print on demand at comic shops, which I figure will have the big companies selling licenses to only print their comics there.
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Lucas – Hiring me to write or asking me collaborate with them! Ummm, I’d like it if more people tried to tell new stories, especially professionals. We have a lot of superhero stories that professionals do but I want to see more range in what professionals do for their non-company projects.
QRD – Anything else?
Lucas – Check out my site, feel free to message me on Twitter @koltreg & check out my next Kickstarter for ERAS: Fung.