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How did you break into comics?

If you ask five different people in comics this same question, you’re likely to get five very different answers. There’s really no standard way of breaking in. Thus, my answer is rather unique. I won a contest. A Marvel Comics talent search contest, in 2002. That led to my first published comic book work: an 8 page Wolverine story. It’d be another 4 years before I had another story in print. Four years of sending off all sorts of different pitches, to all different comic companies.


In 2003, Marvel began taking pitches for a relaunch of their Epic Comics line, for which they wanted new takes on existing Marvel properties. I pitched a relaunch of their Vietnam War series, THE ‘NAM. To make the pitch, you had to have the entire first issue script written. I worked harder on that script than probably anything I’d ever written before or since. It was inspired in large part by my late cousin, Gustav Hasford, the Vietnam vet and novelist who’s book THE SHORT-TIMERS was the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam War film, FULL METAL JACKET. My pitch made it onto Epic’s “maybe” pile but was ultimately rejected. Not long before the relaunch of Epic folded entirely.


But then I had a finished script and a pitch for a Vietnam War mini-series and 8 published comic book pages to my name. So I sent it all to editor Will Dennis at Vertigo, who’d edited a lot of my favorite comics of the day, including the war books of Garth Ennis. Will turned me down. Two or three times. But I asked if he’d at least read my finished script and let me know what he thought. He did. And he liked it. And with my Vietnam War mini-series THE OTHER SIDE at Vertigo, I broke into comics for a second time.


And that led to an ongoing crime series at Vertigo, SCALPED, that would run for 60 issues. And SCALPED would lead me back to Marvel and more WOLVERINE. And I’ve been at Marvel ever since.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to break into comics?

Be smart about the editors you’re pitching to. Don’t just chase any job you can. Seek connections with the editors who work on your favorite comics, editors you figure will have similar sensibilities to yours. And if you do get in touch with those editors, be patient. They’re all busy people. But be persistent too. Politely persistent.


But above all else, focus on being good enough to warrant an editor's time. I've always been convinced that that's the truly hard part: being a good writer. Focus on your craft, not just on getting editors' email addresses. Figure out how to tell the stories you want to tell. The stories you were born to tell. The ones only you can possibly bring to life. And then treat your creative pursuits like a job, even if it's not paying you like a job. And be an honest judge of your own work. If you can look at a story you’re working on and honestly say that you’d pay four bucks for it if you saw it on the shelf at your local shop, then have the confidence that someone else out there will feel the same. You just have to find them.

Wasn’t there gonna be a SCALPED TV show?

Yes, there was. For WGN. A pilot was produced back in 2017, written by Doug Jung and directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. The cast was really incredible, including Gil Birmingham as Chief Red Crow, Alex Meraz as Dash Bad Horse, Irene Bedard as Gina Bad Horse and Zahn McClarnon as Catcher. I got to go hang out on the set in New Mexico for a day (below is a pic of me on the set, with Birmingham in costume as Red Crow). And overall, I was really happy with what I saw, especially McClarnon’s performance. The pilot wasn’t quite the story I wrote in the comic, but I thought it turned out interesting. But WGN passed on it and no one else picked it up, so I’m afraid you’re not likely to ever see it. But the comic still exists. All sixty damn issues.



Wasn't there gonna be a SOUTHERN BASTARDS TV show?

Yes, and there still might. SOUTHERN BASTARDS was optioned by producer Scott Rudin in 2015 and has been in development at FX. But so far, there’s nothing I can really talk about. If there is, I’ll let you know.

Are we gonna get more issues of THE GODDAMNED and SOUTHERN BASTARDS?


Yes, neither series is finished yet. The second arc of THE GODDAMNED begins in May of 2020. I'm hoping we'll have more SOUTHERN BASTARDS this year as well.

How do I figure out the right order to read your THOR comics?

I know, it gets confusing. I wrote THOR for seven years and over a hundred issues, and in my mind, it was all one long story. But that story was still spread across multiples series and mini-series. So it’s hard to know where to start or what order to read them in. There are a couple of guides online, like this one.

Or Marvel also recently started publishing a new Complete Collection trade paperback series collecting all of my issues in order. You can find the first volume of it on Amazon or check your local comic shop for a copy.

What does it take to get you to come to my comic convention?

I love doing conventions, when I can fit them into my schedule. If you'd like to bring me to your show, just  email my assistant and she can give you the details.

Can I interview you? Would you come on my podcast?

Maybe. I do interviews and podcasts when I have the time. Sometimes I'm not able to do any. You're welcome to email my assistant and inquire about my availability.

How much do you charge to sign comics at a con?

Nothing. For fans, I always sign books for free. Doesn’t matter how big a stack you lug up to my table. I’ll sign them all. And happily thank you for the support. Though if there’s a long line and you've got a giant stack, I may ask you to break up your stack and get back in line, just so everyone else doesn’t have to wait.


The only time I might charge for signing is if you’re bringing up a whole box of the same issue or you’re a retailer or speculator who wants me to sign a big chunk of your stock. If that's the case, I’ll likely want to work out some sort of separate, paid signing time.

Can I mail you a book to sign?

No, sorry, I don’t do signings through the mail. But check my appearances page to see if I’ll be popping up near your town sometime soon.

When are you gonna write Batman?

Someday maybe. Well actually, I already did. For one panel in a Penguin one-shot several years ago. But I've very happily had an exclusive contract with Marvel Comics since 2008, and right now I have at least a few more years left on that deal and a lot more work I'm super excited to do at Marvel.

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