Bill Nichols’ Prescription:
Comics 10ccs of Comfort and Adam Love
Adam and Comfort Love do an awesome comic called The Uniques along with other cool stuff. Their creative energy is infectious and inspiring. And they’re awesome people on top of it.
What inspires you to create and keeps you going?
Adam: We just love stories. We love thinking about them, analyzing them, creating them, sharing them—
Comfort: We have so many in our heads, it would be impossible not to do something with them. And the more we talk about them and flesh them out, the more excited we get to bring them to life.
A: So, yeah, it’s the creative process itself that inspires us and the act of being able to share them with people that keeps us going.
Do you have a set routine?
C: We are so boring, you guys.
A: We get up, get breakfast and watch a show. Usually one of the comedy-news shows in the morning to catch up.
C: Then we’ll spend an hour working out or go take a walk. It’s really easy to be unhealthy in this job, and it’s important to us that we take care of ourselves. Also: we really like walks.
A: Come home, take a quick nap, then get to work. Then we work all day until dinner, only pausing for a quick snack in the mid-day.
C: After dinner, we’ll take another walk or sing some songs on Rock Band to break up the day. Then we’ll have another little nap before working all night.
A: If we aren’t up against a deadline, I’ll usually knock off around midnight and spend an hour or two playing video games while Comfie writes or works on different art to decompress.
C: And that’s our day. On Mondays we’ll have friends over for TV night, but we’re still working while we hang out. And on Fridays we have our interns over, but it’s basically the same schedule.
What kind of output do you try to achieve?
A: Ugh, this is what makes us nuts. There’s what we want to be able to do and what we can do. If we could just focus on nothing but making the comics, we could produce one 30-36ish page issue every two months. But there are always other things to have to deal with.
C: We’re running a small business; it just happens to produce comics. So, there are a lot of the kinds of business stuff any self-employed person has to deal with every day. And there’s messages and correspondence, some client work on the side, walking interns through things and getting them up to speed – it’s a lot.
A: We’re working to get to a place where we can release two trade paperbacks a year. Our trades are bigger than others, though – 160 pages on average compared with 120 or so for most publishers these days.
C: I want to do three!
A: So do I! Two just feels more realistic. But if we really get the process down and get enough extra hands to back us up, I’d love to get to a place where we could get through three TPBs in a year.
What inspires you WHEN you create? Music? Noise? Silence?
C: We watch a lot of TV while we draw. Once the roughs are done and you’re doing final lines, it’s a pretty mechanical process. Good shows or movies or documentaries help give our brains something to think about while we work.
A: And TV gives us something to rest our eyes on where radio doesn’t.
C: Though there are a few podcasts we really like, too. You have to train yourself to be able to “watch” TV while not keeping your eyes on it most of the time.
A: Top 5 all-time favorite shows: The Wire, Battlestar Galactica, Parks and Recreation, Steven Universe, and Avatar: The Last Airbender (we include Korra as part of that package).
Who was the first comic book creator that influenced you to pursue this?
A: Two comics – Justice League International and The Flash. I read JLI when I was little and the art of Kevin Maguire and then Adam Hughes defined a lot about what I still think of as “good art” today. They’re the biggest heroes I had, artistically. Then later when I read Mark Waid’s Flash run, I went from wanting to draw comics to wanting to write AND draw them. He was the first writer who blew my mind over and over; the first time I actively hunted down each new issue because I had to know what would happen next.
C: Chris Bachallo. Generation X was the first comic I collected, probably the first I ever read, and I loved his art so much. There was so much detail, but the characters were so clean. He had an almost fine arts approach in his early work, but also such animation in his characters.
When did you realize you could follow this path yourself?
A: I’m not sure I ever didn’t think I could be a comic creator. I made comics all through childhood; it’s the only thing I can remember wanting to be in any serious kind of way. I never had that “wouldn’t it be great if…” mentality – it was always The Thing I Was Going to Do, Period. How I wanted to do it changed as I got older, but I was always certain comics were my future.
C: Image Comics. Once I understood what that publisher was – artists who left Marvel and DC to tell their own stories the way they wanted to – I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I was never overly interested in working on other people’s stories (except maybe X-Men). I just wanted to do my own! When I realized what Image was and how it worked, that was my lightbulb a-ha moment.
What do you find to be a challenge in creating?
C: Having to deal with all the business stuff that comes along with this job. People don’t usually think about it, but running your own business takes a lot of time. And the more successful we become, the more side business stuff we have to deal with. It’s a hard catch-22 where, the better we get at making comics and the more we sell and the more people want them, the less time we have to make comics.
A: Finding a balance of perfectionism and speed. It’s too easy for me to get lost in little details and making everything “just right” if I’m not careful, and I still sometimes struggle with letting things go that don’t matter so I can get things done and move on.
What else do you have to learn?
C: We’re actually in the early days of starting an art studio, bringing together former interns and young creators we’ve hooked up with to start doing work together. It’s a way for us to produce more, but also a way to get them real work while they’re still coming up. There are a lot of challenges there, but we’re very excited about it.
A: If we can manage this business, we can manage a studio.
What keeps you motivated to get better?
A: Straight-up love of the work. I want my hand to be better at recreating what my mind imagines. As long as there’s still a gap between what I can see and whatI can make, I’m going to keep working at getting better.
C: Our stories are the most important thing to us. We feel like we have to make them the best we possibly can; there’s a responsibility there. We owe it to ourselves, to our ideas, and to the people who read our work to live up to our responsibility as creators to do our best and keep expanding what our best can be.
Can you turn your brain (creativity) off (and on)?
C: No way. Why would you want to?
A: Every time we get talking about movies or TV or comics or whatever and somebody says “you just have to turn your brain off and enjoy it,” I want to tell them that I can’t enjoy it if I have to turn my brain off. Having my brain on is the way we enjoy things!
C: Yeah, it’s no fun if we can’t analyze and examine and just think about the things we enjoy. It makes good things better and even bad things more interesting because you can analyze why it’s bad and how it could be better and what we’d do instead.
A: A thoughtful life is a rich life.
What advice do you have for aspiring creators?
A: Do-oon’t stop… be-lieeeee-ven’!
C: Ugh. I love you.
A: That’s how she tells me I’m dumb.
C: Seriously, the best advice we can give is the advice everybody gives – do something every day. Draw every day, write every day, create something every day. Set time aside, learn to draw while you watch TV, take a nap after work if you’re too tired; whatever it takes, just find a way to be creative and practice your craft every day.
A: Make it fun! Give yourself projects you’re excited about that will also demand that you work on your problem areas. Have trouble drawing hands? Do a Spider-Man piece! Or spellcasters! Characters who are always making weird hand gestures. That way, you’re doing something you enjoy and learning to be a better artist at the same time.
C: Just start doing it. Stop waiting and start creating. You’ll only get better if you never stop pushing yourself.
Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?
A: Our problem is too many ideas and not enough time.
How do you handle the slow times?
A: I don’t remember what slow times feel like. Comfort?
C: We usually just fill them with more work. Like we said – too many ideas, too little time. If we ever had time free up, we’d just pull out one of those other projects and get back to work.
How do you feel about the industry?
C: That question has a long, long, long answer. To sum it up: it’s complicated.
A: There’s a lot about comics we love and a lot about how comics are made that we don’t. A big issue that’s bugging us right now is social media. Publishers and executive-types are too reliant on it as a gauge of skill.
C: You’ve gotta get your numbers up! It doesn’t matter how good your work is or what experience you have – how many followers do you have? How many likes do you get? But being good at social media is an entire job unto itself. You’re asking creators to do two full-time jobs at once, and nobody can keep that up.
A: The time and effort it takes to maximize your social media presence and get those numbers high enough that people pay attention makes it impossible to spend the time you need to make comics. So you get people with high numbers getting hired who have no idea what they’re doing and can’t do the job, and people who are great at the job who can’t get a meeting because their social numbers are too low.
C: Social media are the standardized tests of entertainment right now; they have zero relationship to talent, drive, or ability, but people treat them like they’re everything just because they want an easy numerical metric to rate people by.
A: There’s a lot to be excited about in comics right now, especially how much more open they’re becoming and how much freer the medium is getting to be, with major webcomic platforms drawing millions of viewers and launching careers totally outside the mainstream publishing hierarchy…
C: But the total reliance people have on social media for validation and vindication is extremely worrying.
Website you would like to promote?
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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.