Comic Creator Interview
with Michael S Bracco
Name: Michael S Bracco
Comics: The Creators (current) - The NOVO series - Adam Wreck
Websites: Creatorscomic.com, spaghettikiss.com
QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?
Michael – My older cousin Steve introduced me to comics when I was pretty young, maybe 7 or 8. I loved them & collected a lot of Marvel stuff until early high school. My favorites at the time were TMNT, Spider-Man, & Iron Man. I followed them into the beginnings of Image comics & lost interest a bit, mostly because there was a stigma in the 90s about guys who were into comics & at the time I was more interested in girls than comics. I still read every once in a while (Heavy Metal when I could get my hands on one), but my social life took over. It wasn’t until late in college that I got turned back on to comics. At that age, being handed Frank Miller & Alan Moore books got me back into it in a big way.
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Michael – I was 22. I drew a lot of comics as a kid but never tried to even put out a photocopy book. When I got back into them in college I started jonesing to make one. The book was a sci-fi book called Atty & Max. The main character, Atty was a really sweet innocent guy/alien who was always trying to help people. On the back of his head however, was another face (Max) who was the most horribly ignorant, chauvinistic, homophobic personality you can imagine. The humor was pretty sophomoric, but it was fun to write for such opposing personalities trapped in the same body.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Michael – I really think that the last 10 (maybe 15) have been my favorite. So many writers & artists are pushing boundaries & telling new kinds of stories & it’s very exciting.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Michael – BECAUSE BOTH! I guess for me there is none of one without the other.
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
Michael – I think they can be both. I don’t think there is any hard line in comics that dictates a format is suitable for any one thing. I think that a lot of indie concepts have become great mainstream ideas (i.e. Saga) & there are a lot of mainstream concepts that have been explored on an indie level that bring nuance to a tired trope (i.e. Invincible).
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
Michael – Usually about 1000. It takes me some time to sell them off though.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Michael – I try to do about a graphic novel’s worth of material a year & have kept up with that since I put out my first book… that is until I became a dad. That slowed things down a lot, but in a good way.
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
Michael – It really depends on the story, but since comics have a long history of serialization, I personally tend to prefer finite story lines.
QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?
Michael – A strip has to nail its punchline every time or deliver a new thought with every strip, but is often limited in its scope. A book has the chance to explore a narrative & deliberately pace its way through larger concepts without having to be funny or brilliant in short breaths. I have a lot of respect for really amazing strip creators (Bill Watterson) because I could NEVER handle that. I much prefer to plot & explore a story.
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
Michael – It varies, but at my fastest I started a 136 page book in July of 2010 & had the printed copy in my hands by mid July of 2011.
QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
Michael – Everything. Comics is one of those things that no one can be good at right off the bat. You don’t realize how much you have to know about pacing, anatomy, environment, composition, etc. Over the years you build up your visual vocabulary & it gets better, although not easier.
QRD – Do you do thumbnails?
Michael – Hell yes. I do thumbnails of a spread from a script before doing the actual page.
QRD – At what size do you draw?
Michael – I draw all my comic pages in sketchbooks so that I can stay portable. That way I can get stuff done at home, at work, or in a waiting room.
QRD – What kind of pens do you use?
Michael – I use Microns & Zebra brush pens.
QRD – What does your workstation look like?
Michael – It’s a shoulder bag. My desk at home has piles on it. I almost never use it. Mostly I work in my lap.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Michael – When I work in black & white I do everything by hand. When finished I will scan it & clean it up a bit, but it’s all very analog. With my current project, The Creators, I hand draw all the pages, scan them, & then digitally mask in watercolor washes in different values & add in some digital color. I always want my work to feel as handmade as possible.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Michael – I just started my first webcomic & am forming opinions slowly as I go. As a reader, I love the idea of them but have trouble committing to keeping up with any of them. I’d rather buy a trade or a big digital book, not because I prefer it but because that’s how I am better at taking things in.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Michael – I prefer working in black in white. Color is such a struggle for me so it’s always easier & feels safer for me to work without it. That said, I usually prefer books that use color in inventive & sparing ways.
QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?
Michael – It depends on the team & the project. I’ve worked on my own books pretty much by myself & I love that. I’ve also worked with writers & collaborated on comic projects like FUBAR that have dozens of creators working in tandem. It’s all good if the project is good.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
Michael – I like scripts that are written like movie screenplays. They give direction, narrative & great dialogue, but leave the artist to completely design the page & control the pacing.
QRD – Do you think it’s important to have a full story arc completely written before starting to draw?
Michael – I usually am both writer & artist on projects & for me I think that completing the writing process before drawing a page is important. It gives me knowledge of where I am & where I need to get in the story. It also gives the story more time to gestate & evolve as I draw it.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Michael – Frank Miller & Doug Tennaple in their earlier days were both masters of comic story telling & if I could ever be compared to them I’d be pretty damn flattered.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Michael – They seem to really like them, but they are my friends & family so they’re not allowed to say anything else!
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
Michael – I enjoy them, mostly in movies. In comics they aren’t really my bag. Some notable exceptions are Dark Knight Returns, The Ultimates, & Watchmen.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Michael – Marvel if only because it holds so much nostalgia for me. That said, I do have a soft spot for Batman.
QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?
Michael – TEENAGE. MUTANT. NINJA. TURTLES.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Michael – Hell No! I’ve done both & I love having someone to take care of all the logistical stuff.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Michael – I work most conventions so I don’t often attend them. Every year I do Baltimore Comic Con, Magfest, SPX, Connecticon, Anime Expo, Katsucon, & quite a few more. Even when I don’t vend at SPX I still go. It’s the most creatively stimulating show out there.
QRD – How do you feel about doing work for anthologies?
Michael – It’s rare that an anthology is really good, but when it is I’m in. I’ve been in 3 FUBAR books & I love working with those guys. The books are ambitious & have a lot of integrity.
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Michael – I try & promote online, but I suck at it. I’m best behind a table at conventions. I love meeting people & talking to them about what I do & am way better at marketing in person.
QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?
Michael – I’ve had them in shops & they do really well if people in the store point people towards them. I have a few shops who point my work out to their customers & the books move great. I just think that all comics are suited for shops, but they all need equal footing. It’s hard to stand out against the Big 2.
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
Michael – Oh man I would love to see them in film or on TV. They would be so expensive to make, though, that I have no expectations.
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Michael – I am not a collector but I am definitely a reader.
QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Michael – I just want to see people exploring new ideas.
QRD – Anything else?
Michael – If you are ever at a convention & you see Spaghetti Kiss, come say hi. If you ever see a Super Art Fight listed in the program at a convention, go see it & laugh at the big idiot I make out of myself.