If you had to make a list of some of my favorite comics to read, Kurt Busiek would be listed as the writer.
What inspires you to create and keeps you going?
I think it’s more of a case of “What could stop me?” It’s nice to have an audience and to support myself by telling stories — and deadlines are a marvelous spur to inspiration — but honestly, I’ve been a storyteller all my life, and wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. In one form or another, I’d be telling stories, whatever else I did.
Do you have a set routine?
In theory. In practice, things blow that routine up left and right, and all I can do is roll with it.
What kind of output do you try to achieve?
It would be wonderful to finish one comic book script a week.
What inspires you WHEN you create? Music? Noise? Silence?
Usually, when I’m working these days, things are silent. I used to play music but eventually realized I was tuning it out. While I’m not actually writing, music can be inspiring, as can random images, something I’m reading or watching, news stories, or just about anything. I find driving to be a big help — while driving, my surface attention is tied up doing the mechanical job of driving, and that seems to free up my mind to solve story problems.
Who was the first comic book creator that influenced you to pursue this?
I had wanted to write stories long before I read comics. It was a Tony Isabella-Bob Brown issue of DAREDEVIL that hooked me into comics and made me want to keep reading them regularly…
When did you realize you could follow this path yourself?
…but it was a Chris Claremont letter column, where he described his grandfather saying, “Sure, you do the funny books, Chris, but what do you do for a living?” That made me realize that writing comics was a job that people actually made a career out of. That’s when I realized I wanted to do that too.
What do you find to be a challenge in creating?
The hard part is the story structure. Once that comes, the rest falls into place.
What else do you have to learn?
Everything! Pacing, atmosphere, nuance…everything!
What keeps you motivated to get better?
My own interest. If I can do something well, that’s great, but then I want to reach for the next thing. Keep getting better, because the challenge is what makes it interesting.
Can you turn your brain (creativity) off (and on)?
Off? No. On, sometimes, usually with a sounding board to bounce ideas off of.
What advice do you have for aspiring creators?
Practice. Finish things. There is no better way to learn than by doing, by trying things out, seeing what works for you.
Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?
Not yet. I come up with ideas faster than I can use them.
How do you handle the slow times?
By coming up with more ideas. If I don’t have enough going on, I’ll start some new things going. That hasn’t been a problem in the last 20 years or so, though. But I still keep coming up with new things I want to do…
How do you feel about the industry?
Often frustrated that it doesn’t work better, but glad I’m able to connect with an audience through it.
What would you say is your crowning achievement thus far?
Almost certainly ASTRO CITY. But I think I’ve had quite a few “crowning achievements,” and hopefully, there are more to come.
Writer, ASTRO CITY, THE AUTUMNLANDS. In the past, MARVELS, AVENGERS, ARROWSMITH, UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN, SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY and many more.
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