Bill Nichols’ Prescription:
Comics 10ccs of Billy Crooks

 

What inspires you to create and keeps you going?

I don’t think it’s as much to do with Inspiration, as much as it is a Need to create.  As a kid, I used to sit on the toilet, or in the tub taking a bath and playing with my GI Joe’s, telling stories, inspired by my favorite cartoons.  30+ years later, that need hasn’t subsided in the least. I’ve currently got about…..5 or 6 different projects that I’ve been developing for the last decade or more, whether writing some of the issues myself, to just being the inker and co-writer.  They may not see the light of day for quite some time, but I will get them out. That itch to create something new and exciting will be scratched. That incessant need will go on, because I need it to.

 

Do you have a set routine?

It’s not so much a routine, as much as how I work, in whatever capacity I’m working in. 

If I’m writing, I do all my Prewriting in a notebook.  Panel by panel, all the little intricate details that I want in a particular scene, it all gets written down as I go.  When I’m done, and move onto actually typing it all up, crossing off things in my notebook so I don’t get confused where I am, I edit everything as I go.  “Do I need this scene?” “Do I expand this a bit more?”. It really helps to reread it as you go, because there’s always something that’ll pop up that you’ll realize can make the work even better.

As a Penciler, not so much.  Probably why I haven’t been able to get to where I want to be as a penciler, but I’m working on it.  Life just got in the way the last 20 years. These last 2 years, I’ve been cleaning houses, and this last year, doing it all myself and running my wife’s business, so my art was put on the back burner. 

Now as an inker…. that’s a much different story.  I won’t go into a long-winded play by play of just how Inwork in that capacity.  Obviously not all inkers in this business work the same way. But, as I spent 9 years as an assistant inker, Ghosting on a whole slew of books that others would have killed to get their hands on….I normally work on all the technical aspects of a page first, if there are any.  Or start from the background and work my way forward. 

 

What kind of output do you try to achieve?

As much as possible.

 

What inspires you WHEN you create? Music? Noise? Silence?

Music mostly.  When I’m sitting at my desk inking, I’ve usually got my headphones plugged in, and the Spotify app opened on this tablet, and cranking on whatever group I feel like listening to.

I actually wrote about 3 scripts while listening to Emma Hewitt’s “Burn the Sky Down” album on repeat.  Right now, it’s KMFDM, Project Pitchfork, and God Module while I ink. Hell, been writing to them too, so it’s all good. 

Sometimes I’ll have the TV on for background noise while I work, but comedy’s not good for inking (trust me on that), and something serious that you haven’t seen a billion times already, doesn’t help, because you’ll keep wanting to stop and see what you’re missing.  Personally, silence doesn’t do any good.

 

Who was the first comic book creator that influenced you to pursue this?

Jim Lee.  His work on Uncanny X-Men, blew my mind. 

 

What do you find to be a challenge in creating?

Finding the time to do it.  I’ve been running my wife’s House Cleaning business, taking care of her clients by myself, as she’s been physically unable to do the work herself.  So kuch of my writing lately has been done while on the train or bus to work (yeah, it’s about 3+ hours back forth to some jobs), and getting a little writing done at the house I’m working at, if there’s time.

 

What else do you have to learn?

Everything.

 

What keeps you motivated to get better?

The fact that my career has been relatively stagnant for almost 20 years. 

 

Can you turn your brain (creativity) off (and on)?

 I wish I could turn it off.  Even if I’m sitting down, watching TV after a long day, I’m thinking about whatever project it is I’m working on.  Most days I wake up thinking about whatever it is, and even sleep is hindered at times because of these thoughts.

So no….I can’t turn it off no matter how badly I want to at times.

 

Booster Shot

What advice do you have for aspiring creators?

Don’t ever…..EVER think that you’re better than anyone else, especially when the proof is out there that You’re not.  Learn. Learn everything you can from those who’ve been doing it A LOT longer than you. Don’t EVER turn your nose up to anyone, simply because you think that person is beneath you.  Even if you’ve been at it a long time, there’s room to grow and get better. Open your eyes and ears to everyone willing to point out mistakes. 

 

Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?

Not really, no.  I’ve got enough ideas turning right now, that’ll keep me busy for quite some time. 

 

How do you handle the slow times?

Much of my career, before and after assisting, was nothing but slow time.  Even now, I spend as much time as I can working on my own stuff. Writing, penciling, inking, character designs.  Gotta keep the Muse satiated.

How do you feel about the industry?

Personally, it’s a Love/Hate relationship.  I’ve spent so much time trying to get in, and not really getting anywhere, in any capacity.  Some would have given up by now, gone on to do something else, perhaps in another business. But me, I’m a glutton for punishment.  Come Hell or High Water, I will have my day in this business. You will see my projects on the shelves at some point. Oh yes….you will. 

 

Do you have a website where folks can follow you and your work?

https://www.facebook.com/Splotchedink77/

Billy Crooks.

To comment on this interview, you can head to the ShoutFyre Forum: http://sketchmagazine.net/community/billsnicholsprescription/billy-crooks/#post-7

Bill Nichols

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.