Free Comic Book Day is Saturday, May 6. In addition to giving away thousands of free comics, this year we will again be hosting many fine artists and writers at Richard’s Comics & Collectables. Along the way we’ll be highlighting some of these guests by asking them a few questions about who they are and what they do. Here’s John Davis!
What was your first published work?
“I self-published somewhere in the early 2000s a full-color mini-booklet of work I was getting into to hand out at local shows. From there, a number of comics, sketchbooks and then a web comic published as two graphic novels.”
Do you have a certain routine you follow when you create?
“My ideal schedule is wake-up, gym, work, draw, sleep, repeat.”
What materials do you use when you work?
“I use a Skilcraft 0.5mm mechanical pencil, burgundy with a bad erasure. I used one a long, long time ago as a kid. My mother would let me swipe the broken ones from her work and I would piecemeal a few together and have held onto them successfully for decades. They fit right in my hand. I was fortunate 30 years later to find an unopened box of the same model on eBay. As far as inks, anything between a Sharpie and a Micron pen. Anybody who can use a brush is admired.”
What’s the first comic you remember reading?
“Probably the Sunday comics from the Charlotte Observer, but the first comic book I read was either a He-Man mini-comic or G.I. Joe.”
What comics are you reading these days?
“I’ll give anything a shot. Sequential storytelling such a unique form of storytelling. I appreciate the mechanics of how comics work. I recently caught up on Savage Dragon, re-reading the entire run by Erik Larson. I’ve read a volume of Dick Tracy strips, a 1000-page Archie digest, Vattu by Evan Dahm, the Abnett and Lanning Guardians of the Galaxy omnibus, Tetris by Box Brown and the entire Girls with Slingshots webcomic by Danielle Corsetto. In between, I’ve been reading issues of The Badger and Airboy from the defunct First Comics with Grimjack on standby. Also on my stack to read is a bunch of Image trades (as if I need to commit to more series), Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising omnibus and a bunch of back-issues of series I’ve completed over the years.”
What do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies?
“Instead of ‘comicbooking,’ I read, deadlift and piddle around on open world video games.”
Do you have any advice you’d like to give someone reading this that might be interested in making comics?
“Don’t stop drawing or writing. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. A blank page can be a monolith.
“Your first attempt or first draft will always stink. Don’t be afraid to edit yourself harshly. If your work gets demolished with criticism, don’t get upset. Sometimes what’s in your head makes sense to you because you’re knee-deep in the creative process but doesn’t translate to an audience. It’s okay to make edits for clarification so the reader understands the story you’re telling. Sometimes, it’s better to just rip up the drawing or page itself and start over.
“Deadlines are your friend. It’s the key to publishing. Set reasonable deadlines for you to meet like first draft of script in six weeks or completing 1 to 5 pages a week. In short time, your work will accumulate.
“The digital world is also your friend. A lot of tools available are free to use; Use them. Digital publishing helps with managing deadlines and immediate feedback the ego craves. However, the majority of people are still tactile readers enjoying physical copies of books (comics or otherwise) they enjoy. In my opinion, the creator should be responsible to the audience selling only collected editions in print be it graphic novels or single-issue one-shots. Nothing is worse than picking up a first issue you like from an indie creator for them to vanish with no follow up. Print is expensive, so make it count and plan to include more material exclusively for that project to entice people to purchase.
“Buy a web domain name. They’re ridiculously cheap. Instead of promoting another company like Facebook or Blogger, you can send people to your web address. You can forward a web address to your social media or web site or web comic hosting service. Social media and web services will come and go, your name shouldn’t.”
What’s a project that you’re particularly pleased with how it came out?
“I’ve always been keen on the packaging to the Rachel Rage graphic novel.”
Are there any upcoming projects you’d like to plug?
“I promise, promise, promise. Something is coming together. I’ll have proof of a script and several pages at Free Comic Book Day. I live with the guilt daily not being proactive and productive.”
Where can we find you online?
“Twitter: @TheJohnAston or @OldeTowneComix. Minds.com: @TheJohnAston.”
Be sure to head to Richard’s for Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 6 and meet John!