Lakes Festival Focus 2020: Comics Writer Paul Cornell

Every year, in the countdown to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October, this year running as the virtual LICAF LIVE, we bring you a series of interviews with both guests and participants in the Comics Clock Tower (This year, also virtual).

Today, we’re talking to Paul Cornell, who has three new creator-owned comics series underway in 2020 and who has written episodes of ElementaryDoctor WhoPrimevalRobin Hood and many other TV series, including his own children’s show, Wavelength.

Paul’s worked for every major comics company, including his creator-owned series Saucer State for IDW and This Damned Band for Dark Horse, and runs for Marvel and DC on Batman and RobinWolverine and Young Avengers.

He’s won the BSFA Award for his short fiction, an Eagle Award for his comics, a Hugo Award for his podcast and shares in a Writer’s Guild Award for his Doctor Who.

He’s also the writer of the Lychford rural fantasy novellas from Publishing, and the co-host of Hammer House of Podcast.

What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?

Paul Cornell: I’ve just finished #4 of I Walk With Monsters, my creator-owned horror series, the first issue of which will be published by The Vault on 11th November. I’m also currently writing two other creator-owned series, a non creator-owned series and several one-offs!

Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?

Paul: It’s I Walked With Monsters, because it’s straight from the heart and was painful to write. But I’m also very fond of my runs on Action Comics (with Lex Luthor) and Captain Britain and MI-13.

How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)

Paul: I divide projects up into the amount of pages or word count needed per day, then do that. I’m usually writing five pages of comics a day, plus some prose. But that’s my maximum, I’m hoping to reduce that soon.

What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?

Paul: How wild the medium still is, for good and ill. Comickers get good anecdotes from the great and awful things that happen to them.

And the worst?

Paul: Well, the above, by definition, but also groups of so-called comics fans that attack creators, particularly women creators, online.

What most distracts you from getting your work done?

Paul: Childcare. I wouldn’t have it any other way, mind you.

Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?

Paul: About the same, honestly. As doors close, more open. It’s easier for comickers to self-publish, online and physically, and this is a medium which has always recognised that as a way in.

How has the Pandemic affected you, work wise – good or bad?

Paul: I hate to say it, but it’s been good. I’ve channelled all my pain and stress into an increased work rate, which is unhealthy, but that’s always been true of my process. Plus the TV industry is all about development rather than production right now.

What do you think might be its most significant impact on the comics industry in general, long term?

Paul: I worry about how many stores will survive the hit. Also, I worry for editorial staff, given that some companies (and in retail) have responded to this with immediate layoffs.

Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?

Paul: I’ve met a lot of my favourites, and tend to seek out Bronze Age creators at events so I can say hello. But I would love to have met Steve Gerber, who was on another level.

What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?

Paul: It’s still possibly the hardest medium to get into, so don’t get discouraged. Keep working on your skills and make your own comics.

What’s your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?

Paul: I’m an enormous fan of John Allison, so Wicked Things, in which some characters from his sprawling rom com/ fantasy/ horror/ slice of life universe get older and get into a surprisingly detailed crime thriller plot, is very satisfying.

Paul, thank you very much for your time and the very best of luck with I Walk With Monsters! It’s looking great!

• Web: | Podcast: | Twitter: @Paul_Cornell

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