Bill Nichols’ Prescription:
Comics 10ccs of Dave Flora
What inspires you to create and keeps you going?
My inspirations have always been a mix of what I’ve read or watched and where I live. I was the type to drive by a broken-down house or deserted barn and ask “What if a vampire was in there, or a ghost or an alien?” The blend of imagination and fact is at the core of all of my stories. In some way, I’m creating a fictional reality that looks a lot like where I live. I guess it’s the world I’ve always lived in, and I just get to share it with others through my art.
Do you have a set routine?
Routine is KEY to being productive. I used to work my day job, and then work all evening on projects. I got a little burned out by it, so I decided to try getting up an hour early to work on creative stuff before I started the day. It’s been working out pretty well, so far. I get to start off with art or story, and after a long day, if I want to do something creative, great. If not, then it’s okay. I’ve done something. In the long haul, that is what makes progress.
What kind of output do you try to achieve?
I’m the type of person who can get really obsessed with output, and it gets me burned out. At this point in my life, I’m trying to focus more on the process of creating than by doing x number of pages in a week. I still try to find efficiencies and streamline the process, but I know that I’m going to be telling stories all of my life, so I’m just going to do it on a regular schedule, and release what I have when it is done.
What inspires you WHEN you create? Music? Noise? Silence?
Oh, I LOVE music. Nothing gets me fired up to create than some great power music, or something that fits the theme of what I’m working on. I’ll listen to songs with lyrics if I’m just doing art, but if I’m writing, I’ll put on movie soundtracks.
Who was the first comic book creator that influenced you to pursue this?
Well, I grew up with comics at an early age, so Kirby and Dikto, of course. But, I also was influenced heavily by Alex Toth’s designs in cartoons like Super Friends or Herculoids. Later, I learned about the great newspaper storytellers like Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon) and Milton Caniff (Steve Canyon). Those were game-changers for me in telling serial stories.
When did you realize you could follow this path yourself?
I suppose it was the appearance of webcomics. I saw people telling stories in ways that were very much like the old newspaper strips, only in modern formats. That is how I started my first Ghost Zero Webcomic. It got me started on the whole thing.
What do you find to be a challenge in creating?
Accepting that I’m not going to be happy with every part of it. I tend to be very hard on myself regarding my art, and I tend to want to constantly re-work panels. You have to let that go, and remember that most readers aren’t even going to notice if a character’s arm looks a little weird. They’re in it for the whole story. Focus on that.
What else do you have to learn?
I really need to work on simplifying my composition and storytelling. The most dramatic scenes are not complex ones. Some of the Alex Toth pages are almost poetic in the reduction of elements. I also fumble when it comes to digital colors. When you do all parts of a project, there’s just so much!
What keeps you motivated to get better?
I want every story to be better than the last. That includes everything…art, writing, colors, text…the works. And, as I keep having story ideas, it’s like a ladder of continual improvement!
Can you turn your brain (creativity) off (and on)?
I don’t want to, no. The only time I’ve known that my creativity shut down is when I’ve experienced situational depression. That’s pretty miserable. But, it’s also important to know that things will come along, the loss of a job or a bad diagnosis, that will knock out your creative drive. Be kind to yourself when that happens and talk to people about it. It will come back, don’t worry.
What advice do you have for aspiring creators?
Realize that this is a longer road than you think. You won’t get somewhere overnight, and the only real way to get better is to do the things you don’t like doing. Don’t worry, though, …for some reason, the stuff you didn’t like actually becomes interesting. Or, maybe just by learning to be interested in drawing something makes it enjoyable. Either way, it’s a long road, and you take it one step at a time.
Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?
No. I worry that my ideas suck, but I keep having them. J
How do you handle the slow times?
It’s helpful to me to change up things in my routine. I’ll switch to a different creative project, or take a break to customize a figure or sculpt something. Or, maybe I’ll change what I’m reading or watching, or even how I drive to work. You never know what small thing will inspire you in a new way.
How do you feel about the industry?
Well, it’s great that there are so much variety and much more creator-owned work out there that is getting attention. I don’t read much of Marvel or DC, but wow…we’re having quite the time with superhero movies, eh? With the options for self-publishing available to creators, it’s a great time to be alive.
And do you have a website you would want to direct folks to?
I really just use my Facebook page, Dave Flora Presents. https://www.facebook.com/DaveFloraPresents
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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.