Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stephen Thor Interview Part I / Gone Zombie Lives!!!


This is a interview I did with Gone Zombie writer Stephen Thor. Gone Zombie finished 6th in the May 2009 Zuda competition. It stood out to me with great writing, great art, and is one of the few zombie comics I actually like! Gone Zombie lives on, on its own web-site updating every Wednesday. Thor is still writing, a new artist (Eduardo Garcia) is drawing and doing a great job too, and I'm still enjoying reading it. In part one we cover the set-up to Gone Zombie, getting into Zuda, and getting another fantastic artist to carry on doing to comic, not to mention what Gone Zombie hopes to deliver to readers.

1. Steve would you like to tell us a little about yourself, and how you came to be writing comics? Are you working on any projects besides Gone Zombie?


I think the origin story of every writer includes similar elements: he or she loves the medium, wants to be a part of it and works diligently to make that happen. Certainly not as exciting as the origin stories that feature radioactive spiders or exploding planets under a red sun, but there you have it. I just got to a point where I really wanted to contribute something. And Gone Zombie was born.

I actually do have another title I'm working on - and it couldn't be more different, really - but I'm going to wait a little while on that one. Starting up a comic is remarkably time - consuming and I'm going to concentrate on Gone Zombie right now.

2. For those who may have missed Gone Zombie in the Zuda Competition would you give the set-up to the story?

Gone Zombie is about a young man searching for his sister and nephew after they join a religious cult dedicated to "transitioning" their members to a undead state. His quest places him in direct conflict not only with the zombies that roam the landscape, but with militia members and cultists too.

3. Scott Wegener and Eduardo Garcia are two well known artists, how did you manage to get both of them involved in this comic? Any tips for writers looking for artists?

I started working with Scott on this story several years ago, before he hit the stratosphere with Atomic Robo. I'd actually stumbled across his art blog one day and said "This is the look I'm going for." But once Robo took off, Scott simply couldn't devote the necessary time to Gone Zombie. Completely understandable. But that meant I was off in search of an artist again - and it would be a long time before I found someone I felt was as good as Scott. Thankfully, in Eduardo, I think I've done just that. In both cases, I think I was able to conect with them because they liked the script.

As for looking for artists, I think it's important to go where the artists are, places real and virtual such as:

  • Conventions (as a kid, I spent most of my time at cons looking at comics; now, I spend most of my time in artists alley)
  • Drawingboard.org
  • The Zuda site
The artists you'll want to work with are the ones who conduct themselves in a professional manner, so make sure you conduct yourself in a professional manner: explain what your looking for, the scope of the project, your plans for distribution and compensation. About compensation: if you can't offer any, your project is a non-starter. Even if you can't offer the moon, make the best offer you can. The good ones deserve it.

4. What was your experience in Zuda like? Is their anything you would do differently, and do you plan on entering again?

I loved my Zuda experience. Loved it. But I almost missed it. Here’s how:

I’m sitting at home one day while some workmen install a new bathroom door for me (don’t ask). Amid all the hammering and drilling, my phone rings.

Me: Hello?

Them: Hello, is this Steve?

Me: Yes.

Them: Hi, this is [garbled; I can only hear the hammering going on] from DC Comics. You submitted a title for competition at ZudaComics.com?

Me: Yes, I did!

Them: We want to include it in our upcoming lineup, but haven’t heard back from you.

Me: What do you mean, you haven’t heard back from me?

Them: You never replied to our e-mail.

Me: I never received an e-mail!

Them: We sent one a couple weeks ago. You must not have gotten it.

Me: Honestly, I haven’t!

Them: Would you like to be a part of the Zuda competition?

Me: (perhaps a little too emphatically) Yes!

I hate to think what might have happened had that phone call not been placed. Thankfully, we worked everything out, I got their next e-mail, and it was off to the races.

5. Gone Zombie updates on Wednesdays, but have your plans for the structure of the series changed since it won’t be on Zuda? 60 screens, more than 60 screens, is their a definitive end for this comic planned?

I’ll be honest with you: until you mentioned it just now, I didn’t know there was a 60-screen limit. Gone Zombie is going to go a little beyond that. There’s a definite end, but room for the story to continue. Although only a few pages have been published to date, I’ve had a completed script for years and we are progressing nicely with the finished art, so I’ve had time to really fall in love with these characters. It’d be great to be able to continue it beyond the pages I have planned right now.

6. ‘The same, but different’ has become a mantra of mine. Meaning: Genre clich├ęs are writer shorthand so readers can get invested in a fictional world quicker. You have to meet reader expectations, but also do something to stand out from the rest to draw in more readers. With Gone Zombie you have meet fans of the genre’s expectations. You also have to that extra something ‘different’ that sets your story apart from all the other zombie stories out there, and attracts non-zombie fans. ‘The same, but different’ moment in Gone Zombie for me is the zombie rape scene on screen 3. It was a little surprising to see on Zuda, but very compelling to me as a reader who doesn’t like zombie stories. How do you plan to continue to set Gone Zombie apart from other zombie comics.

Zombie fans, non-zombie fans, comic fans, and non-comic fans are all looking for the same thing: a compelling story expressed with believable characters. That’s what we hope to deliver.


[Monday we go into the themes of Gone Zombie, zombie fatigue in comics readers, to reveal, or not reveal the cause, and what readers can expect as they read future screens of this comic.]

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