I’ve been a fan of writer/creator John Ward’s work since I read the first issue of Lowlives and after reading his recent release Scratcher, I was keen to hear more on what his process is like and what he’s working on next.
What was the first title you worked on?
The first comic title I worked on was Lowlives which I co-created with Tom Sacchi (art by Giles Crawford and colours by Dan Thompson). It’s a beat crime-thriller which we’re describing as Tarantino meets Tintin.
We originally planned to release the first story arc in four parts, but things didn’t work out that way. We finished the first issue and decided to release it as a graphic novel, and I’m hopeful it’ll be available in the not too distant future.
How has your work changed since then?
I think my storytelling has certainly improved. I didn’t really appreciate the power of pacing or odd/even page turns back then, I was simply focused on telling an interesting story. But now I’ve learned a few tips and tricks and I think I’m pushing myself harder as a comic book writer and collaborator, trying to dig deeper and find that third or fourth idea beyond the more obvious initial one. I think that’s where a lot of the rich characterization comes from, which ultimately makes for stronger stories. I’ve also started teaching myself how to letter, so word selection is more important to me these days. Lowlives was an interesting exercise, as it’s written in a lot of period-specific slang but I wasn’t too concerned about some of my word choices, but this is certainly something that I’m working on now. I’m always trying to find the perfect word combination for each panel.
Who are your main influences?
Alan Moore and Bendis had the biggest impact on me when I was first getting into reading comics. They both have incredibly distinct storytelling styles and keep pushing the boundaries in interesting ways. To be honest there’s a massive list of people who I’d identify as influences. The ones that come immediately to mind are: Ed Brubaker, Brian K Vaughn, Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Mack, Matt Fraction, G. Willow Wilson, Matt Hawkins and Bryan Hill. I’m also influenced by indie creators like Jeremy Holt (Skip to the End) and Eric Grissom (Deadhorse) who are not only great writers & people, but they’re getting out there and making things. They don’t wait for permission to create, they just create, and that’s incredibly inspiring.
What comics are you reading just now?
In terms of current books I’m reading Outcast, Bitch Planet, Saga, and Scarlet. I’m also loving The Dregs by Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler and Eric Zawadzki which is fantastic. I also just started reading The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwoman by Hope Nicholson, which is an incredible history of female characters in comic books. Well worth checking out.
What’s the best thing about creating comics?
Creating indie comics is a little like being in a punk band. There’s no-one (really) telling you what to do, there’s no money, a lot of hard-work but its a helluva lot of fun. Also less smelly. I love that the medium itself continues to change and evolve. There’s always something new out there which pushes the boundaries of what you thought could be done, and that’s incredibly refreshing. As a writer I think the best thing about creating comics is the way the words and art combine to tell the story. You can obviously tell stories with all words or all images, but there’s something interesting about how these things can reinforce and contradict one another from panel to panel which helps tell another story entirely. It’s like inception I guess, planting ideas in the reader’s mind which they assemble and interpret in their own way. I find that fascinating.
What are you working on just now?
I have a few projects on the go right now. First up is ShadowLost which I co-created with Tom Sacchi (Art by Vince Medellin, letting by Lee Milewski, colors by Lee Milewski & Kathleen Aldrich) which is a gorgeous-looking action-adventure book set in Feudal Japan.
There’s also a sci-fi one-shot about rats called Sewers of Fire that I co-created with Tom Sacchi (Art by Jason Williams, colors by Lee Milewski) which we’re trying to finish. Then there’s Lowlives (look for more details soon), and new issues of Scratcher.
Where can we see you next?
Maybe FanExpo Vancouver in the fall. Failing that, I’ll probably be in a bar somewhere.
You can check out more of John’s work over on his Arbutus Films website and keep up to date with him on Twitter too. You can also get hold of his titles over on Comixology as well.