Interview with Nova and Deadpool writer, Gerry Duggan.
Kevin Fukunaga (Scripts & Scribes): Can you talk a little about your background and how you got involved in the comic book industry?
Gerry Duggan: First as a fan, and at a young age. I read comics and went to conventions as a kid. In the late 1990’s I became friends with Brian Posehn & Rick Remender. I also worked the back issue counter at Golden Apple Comics. There were fewer hurdles to making my own comics than trying to set up material in Hollywood. The entertainment industry contracted. I remember I took a meeting about a Blind Date “producing” (writing) job – and the other guy in the lobby had two Emmy Awards from Frasier. I thought “What the hell am I doing here?” I stuck around for the meeting because I wasn’t sure if they would have validated my parking if I didn’t. More than anything, I wanted to start writing comics. That’s when I decided I would start putting serious effort into comic writing. Making comics is the best job. I get to work with really smart editors and wonderful artists.
Kevin: What is your typical writing day like? Where do you write most often? Do you listen to music or prefer quiet?
Gerry: If I’m answering emails, or scripted interviews I can listen to anything. If I’m plotting or scripting comic books it has to be something without lyrics, usually film scores or bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor. Right now I am listening to Queens of the Stone Age.
Kevin: What is your writing process like on a comic book script, from inception of the initial concept to final written draft?
Gerry: A tight outline for the eventual collected edition, that road map is priceless and then even a page outlines and sometimes crude thumbnails. The outlines are broken apart into issues, and then the outline gets cut and past at the top of the first script. When I need to I can scroll to the top of the outline to review or edit the outline. When the script for the first issue is wrapped, I copy and paste the new, tweaked outline into the next script document, and I repeat that until the end of a story. Moleskine books are very helpful too – for any thumbnails and when inspiration strikes.
Kevin: Can you describe for aspiring comic book creators, how the editorial process of an average issue or arc on a comic book works? At what points are you reaching out to the editor before moving to the next step in the process?
Gerry: I seek and get approval at every level. Outline, script, and then any polishes after the inks are completed and usually while a comic is being colored. Surprising editors is usually counter-productive.
Kevin: What is one comic book character or property that you haven’t written for that you think would be really fun to?
Gerry: That happened with the Hulk…this has been the most fun I’ve had writing a comic. Mark Bagley’s work has been tremendous. I can’t wait for the reaction.
Kevin: Which other comic book writers/creators would you say influenced you the most?
Gerry: I’ll just name-check some writers because I’m always astounded by artists, and what they accomplish with not much time. People like Mark Waid, Alan Moore, Remender, Simonson, Gail Simone, Scott Snyder, Frank Miller, Mazzuchelli, Ann Nocienti, Bendis, BKV.
Kevin: What classified secrets, ones that could get people killed, can you tell us about the upcoming storylines of Deadpool and/or Nova?
Gerry: The fate of both Deadpool’s daughter and Sam Alexander’s father plus who shot Banner will be resolved.
Kevin: I hear you have a new creator owned comic on the way. Can you tell us what it’s about and when we can expect to see it?
Gerry: I’d rather not go too far into details, except to say that the book is slightly delayed so myself and the artist team could take on an opportunity that we could not turn down.
Kevin: When last we spoke, you were hard at work on a writing and directing gig. What is it you’re working on?
Gerry: I think last time we spoke I was directing a series of ads for IFC starring Patton Oswalt, Bob Odenkirk and John Ennis. Last week I wrote and directed this Godzilla sketch for Nerdist/Legendary starring Tom Lennon.
Kevin: How does being a prominent comic book writer affect your profile in terms of film and TV writing/directing work?
Gerry: The lines between comic books and Hollywood have blurred, and this has created an opportunity for some writers like me, while perhaps causing some other writers to possibly lose work. If you can make comic books, you have the DNA to direct. Both are a collaboration between visual artists. That’s the fun part, and the business of film and television requires a lot of writing and rewriting, but directing requires a very special ability and that is to be able to ask, bully, or manipulate people into doing what you want. It’s actually a lot nicer than it sounds. Writing is solitary, directing means you are never alone, not even for a moment – you’re constantly bombarded with questions from everyone on set. It’s fun – like being in a storm.
Diversifying is really pretty good advice for almost anything. Last-minute plug: I’m helping to write a game for the Xbox One from Insomniac Studios called Sunset Overdrive. It will be out in late October and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. They wanted a sarcastic tone and a little fourth wall breaking. It’s worth buying the hardware to play it.
Kevin: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Gerry: Spend time with my wife and son. I am boring.
Kevin: Do you have any words of advice or final thoughts to share with aspiring comic book writers/creators?
Gerry: The most important advice I have for anyone looking to break into comics is this: there is no invitation to make comic books. If you wait for an invitation to make comic books you will not make any comic books. You must make your own comics, even if your dream is to write Wolverine you must still make your own creator owned comics. There are many reasons for this the first is so that you can get good enough at making comics to be asked to do it in exchange for a paycheck. The other big reason you must make your own comic books is so that you have something to show an editor. It’s unlikely that you will get work in the comic book industry from scripts alone, you have to have some published work. The most important way to succeed at making comic books is finding like-minded collaborators and to become part of the community. Jason Latour nailed it with a blog post that I will link here. Anyone looking to break into comic books would do well to read and absorb his thoughts on the matter. Good luck to everyone that wants in. Keep in mind that success will not happen overnight and may take years to develop. Good luck! Comics are for everyone!
Kevin: What’s your opinion of Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool? Other than Ryan, who would you choose to play Deadpool?
Gerry: The real answer to this question is that I should not answer this question. If I could choose one person to play Deadpool it would be Lee Marvin.
Kevin: If you were stuck on a desert island with one other “Gerry”, who would you pick: Gerard Butler, former Vice-Presidential nominee Geraldine “Gerry” Ferraro or Buck Rodgers himself, Gil Gerard and why?
Gerry: I guess Geraldine Ferraro. Maybe there would be some romance?
Kevin: What’s the weather like, right now, outside your window?
Gerry: I’m in a valley outside Los Angeles, so I get a nice breeze, and hummingbirds and monarch butterflies visit me. Like how you imagine Walt Disney used to sit at a desk, but I’m writing Deadpool killing guys. It’s a wonderful life!
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