Every year, in the countdown to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, we bring you a series of interviews with guests at the event. This "Festival Focus" for 2018 is Corey Brotherson, a writer and editor with over 15 years’ experience writing copy and content for websites, publishers, magazines and TV.
He's also scribed a variety of comic book stories during his 12 years in the medium, including tales in the Unseen Shadows, Bayou Arcana and Dead Roots series’, and is the co-creator of the critically acclaimed ongoing graphic novel series, Magic of Myths (along with commended artist Sergio Calvet).
He’s the adapting writer and editor for Yomi Ayeni’s popular and award-winning transmedia series Clockwork Watch, and his most recent work includes forthcoming sci-fi/fantasy graphic novel collection Deadlier Than…, as well as currently co-adapting an Amazon bestselling novel for TV.
Corey appears to have grown out of at least some of his debilitating cat allergy, which he thinks is a sign that his soul is now far purer than it previously was (possibly).
Corey, What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Corey Brotherson: I’ve got a fair few things on the go at the moment – I’m in the final stages of finishing Deadlier Than… (a four-story woman focused sci-fi and fantasy anthology, all drawn by women) – due by the end of the year, drafting the third season of fantasy series Magic of Myths (co-created with Sergio Calvet), editing a lovely Magic of Myths one-shot special (launching at LICAF) that Sergio has written and drawn, and editing/overseeing next summer’s instalment to the ever-growing transmedia steampunk series, Clockwork Watch. Busy times.
Which comic project you've worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
Corey: Hard to answer! I’ll cheat and say two things, here: Magic of Myths: Faerie, because it became a breakout critical and commercial hit that introduced a wider audience to the world, while playing with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream in a way I’ve wanted to since reading The Sandman. It can be purchased at https://gumroad.com/brothersonbooks individually and as part of the series’ collection.
The second thing is the first Clockwork Watch anthology, because it was my first experience adapting someone else’s (creator Yomi Ayeni) movie script, creating new scenes, thinking about Yomi’s work and making it work in a different medium and having the freedom to put my mark on this rich universe. That can be purchased here on comicsy.co.uk.
How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Corey: Because I work full time as a content producer at PlayStation, planning my comic book work is pretty much something of an essential and often malleable experience. I used to write as much as I could in the evenings, but now I tend to do it during my lunch breaks and mostly at the weekends, where I set aside at least a day to sit down and write.
More often than not, the ‘legwork’ (research, plotting, blocking, notes etc) are all done in my downtime moments, so that the actual writing of pages can be done unhindered. Not that it ever goes as simply as that.
What's the best thing about being a comics creator?
Corey: It’s a great industry, full of wonderful people, in a medium that is only limited by the static wordlessness of paper and your imagination. Working with talented creators, engaging with your audience first hand at conventions, seeing your story come to life quicker than TV/movies and more visually than prose/novels is an amazing experience.
There’s an intimacy of the medium that manages to encapsulate the thrill of creating story in a way that just isn’t the same elsewhere…
And the worst?
Corey: ...It’s also an industry which has its problems – distribution, reach and a painful lack of truly great ideas in how to really take advantage of the internet (not having a unified reading format doesn’t help) all make for a feeling that sometimes we’re trapped beneath a glass ceiling we’ve yet to truly crack. And as a creator these become amplified when there’s a feeling that we’re not able to totally fulfil our audience potential.
Hollywood has made comic books (mostly superheroes, but its influence has spilled over into other genres) the cool kid of entertainment, but its source material is still relatively difficult to obtain for the same people looking for more, whether that’s the material that inspired it or new stories by new creators.
What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Corey: Life. There’s so much going on that trying to keep up can be a struggle at times. On top of my full time job and writing/editing multiple comics, I also edit children’s books and am co-writing a video game, so time for things gets a little on the short side. I guess, the games I play during my down time can be distracting, but I try to use them as a source of inspiration, both in terms of storytelling and style.
There’s little time to actually get distracted, per se, more a case of trying to squeeze everything in.
Do you think it's easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Corey: It’s easier to get published, due to the internet and the high number of resources available (self publishing is perfectly valid entry, and many of the books I’ve worked on have been through the self publishing route) – but I’d say it’s harder to be noticed due to the sheer volume of work being published in the process.
This holds true for entertainment on a whole. Option paralysis due to the sheer amount of content out there means audiences are generally more discerning and it’s harder to stand out.
What do you think of the Lake District?
Corey: It’s a beautiful place. I enjoy visiting it, although it’s a bit far to travel to!
Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
Corey: There are lots, but one of the main ones is an obvious answer: Stan Lee. As one of the most important figures in the medium, I feel it would be wonderful to say thanks for being an inspiration.
How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
Corey: They bridge the gap between creators and the audience in a way the internet can’t compete with. Festivals and conventions create a valuable and personal bond and not only gives a reader insight into the creator and their material, but gives the creator a way to understand the reader better.
What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Corey: Write/draw/create. There’s an impression that you’ve only ‘broken in’ when you’ve hit Marvel or DC or a big publisher, but you ‘break in’ when you get your book out there with your name on it and someone pays money for it: doesn’t matter if you’re publishing it or one of the big publishers is.
There are various goals we may have and we all want to see our name in lights, but if you want to work in the comics industry, create comics. The more you create, the better you become and the larger your audience will grow. But you have to put something out there. And then start attending conventions to help expand your audience and engage with them.
What's your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
Corey: Too many to count! I think Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark is up there as one of my favourites, right now. It scratches my ‘sci-fi political intrigue’ itch, but it’s just wonderfully drawn, written and crafted. It’s pretty much available everywhere, but your local comic book shop is a good shout!
Corey, thank you very much for your time and we look forward to seeing you in Kendal!
• The Lakes International Comic Art Festival will be back in Kendal 12th – 14th October 2018. Tickets for the Festival are on sale now from: www.comicartfestival.com