Bill Nichols’ Prescription:
Comics 10ccs of Ron Fortier
What inspires you to create and keeps you going?
Just a natural love of telling stories. When I was ten years old, I’d make up stories for all my neighborhood pals while we sat in our backyards on long summer nights. They were mostly horror or ghost tales. My imagination just wouldn’t shut off. Once I got into actual writing, I realized it was what I was meant to do with my life. Tell stories.
Do you have a set routine?
Not really. As I’m now an editor/publisher of Airship 27 Productions, my own writing tends to get squeezed into the background. Most of my days are spent reading and editing short stories and novels for our line of new pulp titles. Again, my own writing takes a back seat until I can find a few precious minutes to devote to whatever I might be working on personally.
What kind of output do you try to achieve?
No, never. I sometimes go weeks without writing anything new.
What inspires you WHEN you create? Music? Noise? Silence?
I use to love listening to movie music. Note, I did say music, not songs. Thus I have a huge collection (well over 400) movie scores on disc that I would play while writing. I’d pick that score that I thought suited the tale I was working on, be it a mystery, adventure or whatever. Whereas in the past few years, I’ve learned to work with complete silence. This is something new for me, but I’m starting to get used to it.
Who was the first comic book creator that influenced you to pursue this?
Stan Lee was my hero from day one. When he launched the Silver Age over at Marvel, I was only 12 at the time, and a big comic collector. What he did with the Fantastic Four and Spiderman simply blew me away and I intuitively began to understand there was an entire new level of sophistication a writer could reach in comics. And whether he knew it or not, Stan became my biggest influence in those early days of my career. And one time the late comic critic/historian Don Thompson once likened my writing to Stan. It was the highest honor anyone had ever given me.
When did you realize you could follow this path yourself?
By the time I was 8 yrs old I was drawing my own crude little comics. Upon entering high school I still dreamed of being a comic book artist. By my sophomore year, I realized that though I had some art skills, they were not my strong suit. Rather it was the storytelling aspects of comics that inspired me and so I switched gears and set my goal at being a professional writer. From that point on I took every writing class I could get into. I studied journalism, poetry, if it had to do with writing, I was on board. After high school I went into the army for three years. Upon my return to civilian life I began writing comic scripts and submitting them to various publishers and didn’t stop until I got my first sale. Took about five years of amassing lots of rejections…but in the end I did prevail.
What do you find to be a challenge in creating?
Find a new way to tell a familiar story. Most people believe there are only a handful of actual plots from which spring all fiction. So the challenge to any writer is to put a fresh spin on those worn out plots, to make them something new and exciting that will entertain your readers. The last thing I ever want my work to be is boring.
What else do you have to learn?
Everything. Really. I don’t know a single writer who thinks he’s reached perfection. Every time I sit down to write my next story, I’m doing my best to make it even better than the last thing I wrote. And every time I write, I hope I am truly learning something new. Which is generally the case.
What keeps you motivated to get better?
My readers. Every time I get a fan letter in the mail, or meet a fan at a convention and they tell me how much they are enjoying my work, it fires me up to do even better for them. Without them, there would be no point in writing anything.
Can you turn your brain (creativity) off (and on)?
No way! The damn thing (creative muse) is an independent bitch with a will of her own.
What advice do you have for aspiring creators?
Work hard at what you do. Get an education. If you want to be a writer, then take all the English/writing classes you can take. And read…ALL THE TIME. You learn from other writers. If an artist, then take art courses, learn the business of being a commercial artist and don’t only draw from comics. Draw from all the things around you.
Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?
How do you handle the slow times?
There are no slow times. When I’m not writing, I’m editing. Never enough hours in a day. But I do manage to find me time…i.e. still go to the movies, watch a little TV and set aside an hour a day to read for the pleasure of it.
How do you feel about the industry?
Think the industry today is vibrant and well in the independents..thanks to internet and self-publishing. I think both Marvel and DC are wastelands, only tools for the big movies and have absolutely nothing to offer comic readers today.
What would you say is your crowning achievement thus far?
Getting a movie company to produce a film of one of my original characters. That, and having created Popeye’s mother
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Author, Artist, Editor for ShoutFyre.com
Bill is the creator of Arteest & Ursula comics, writer for Ringtail Cafe, co-creator of Savage Family, writer and inker of HellGirl: Demonseed. Editor for ShoutFyre and Sketch Magazine. Co-author of Camelot Forever novel series.