Chat Transcript: Brian Wood

Earlier this month, Brian Wood stopped by the CBR chat room to dicuss his two brand new series, "DMZ" (for DC Comics) and "Local" (for Oni Press), as well as talk about his past work, and whether Jubilee's mom could beat up Chamber's dad. You will have to read the chat to believe it!

Brian Cronin: Welcome, folks, to the Brian Wood chat!

briancwood: I hope its not a problem, but I had a massive vodka drink with dinner.

Brian Cronin: A problem? That is a bonus!

SuperBoyGold: I like wine coolers better than vodka.

SuperBoyGold: And no they are not a woman's drink!

briancwood: They are a woman's drink and a teenagers drink.

briancwood: It's what a 14-year old steals from the fridge

Brian Cronin: Yeah, I am afraid Brian's right, SuperBoyGold.

JimmyDee: Hey Brian! "DMZ" #1 was fantastic. Great read!

Brian Cronin: Jimmy speaks the truth

briancwood: Thanks! I am so up to my eyes in deadlines on that book, it's hard to see the forest for the trees. Nice to have someone confirm it's not a complete pile of crap. :)

briancwood: Sorry "Local" #1 didn't make it this week.

Brian Cronin: What happened with that? Printer problems?

briancwood: Distributor problems. It's printed - I have my comp copies, it just didn't get put on the truck.

JimmyDee: It's a good month to be Brian Wood, I guess, with two high profile releases coming out at the same time. Was it always planned this way?

briancwood: Not always planned... not the month anyway, but I did arrange it so they came out (or were supposed to) on the same day.

JimmyDee: Probably one of my favorites of your books is "Pounded." So much fun.

briancwood: "Pounded" is out of print, but a second edition is coming in a month or so.

Brian Cronin: Any chance that you'll ever revisit "Pounded?"

Brian Cronin: That was such a great work

Brian Cronin: And there could be so much more said with those characters.

briancwood: I think I've moved on... I did have an idea for a sequel called "Missy's Revenge," but Steve was busy with other stuff, then I was, and then too much time passed.

Brian Cronin: Yeah, fair enough. I can see how you don't want it to be like a "The Two Jakes" thing.

JimmyDee: Ohhh, "Missys's Revenge!" Don't give up on it completely ... maybe one day you'll both find the time. You'll be assured of at least one sale with me!

JimmyDee: Is creator owned work an arena you'd like to stay in exclusively? Or would you consider getting back to some work-for-hire super hero stuff?

briancwood: I was never really in superhero stuff... I wouldn't rule out ever doing it, but I can't see myself hustling for that kind of work.

JimmyDee: I gotcha ... yeah, you've always worked outside the mainstream in comics, which I admire.

JimmyDee: You have an amazing design sensibility. Did you go to art school, or is this all self taught?

briancwood: I went to Parsons School of Design in NYC... got a degree in Illustration with a minor in Communication Design.

briancwood: I worked a lot of design jobs

JimmyDee: How different is your design style now compared to when you finished school? Is it still pretty similar, or much different?

briancwood: My old stuff was all zine-style punk rock stuff, almost exclusively... but now I have a lot of different methods in my toolbox.

briancwood: To mix a couple metaphors.

JimmyDee: Cool ... you've got this great mix of street and high design ... how you mix it is beyond me, but you do it pretty successfully.

Jake V: Is the experience working through Vertigo any different than working with a smaller publisher like AiT/PlanetLar?

briancwood: Well, Vertigo pays me enough to live on, which is the biggest difference. :)

Jake V: Hah!

SuperBoyGold: If you had to choose between being a writer or a graphic artist, which would you pick?

briancwood: I would prefer to not choose, actually. I don't know how to make that choice. I guess if a gun was to my head, I'd rather be an artist, but don't quote me on that. It'd be a painful choice.

portblazerfool: Do you think you'll ever put out a novel?

briancwood: A novel? Sure. One day, I'd love to.

portblazerfool: Wasn't "The Walk" an actual book idea you had going?

briancwood: "The Walk" is an ancient idea.. I have a little paragraph about it on my site, in the FAQ.

SuperBoyGold: If a person has the imagination and can create...but doesn't seem to have a natural ability with drawing ...what do you suggest to that person?

briancwood: I think people can learn to draw... takes time, though.

JimmyDee: I think my first exposure to your work was back when you were doing that thing with Warren at Marvel (damned bad memory, what was it called?). When you look back on that now, what do you think of it?

JimmyDee: "Generation X!"

briancwood: "Generation X," yeah. I was just talking about that today on my livejournal. I look back on it, and it seems like it was written by someone else. I've come a really long way since that work.

Brian Cronin: And yes, Brian, I agree. Your "Generation X" work really does not compare well with your current stuff.

JimmyDee: How would you do things differently today? And written by someone else ... how? Do you look back on it thinking it's immature or something? I remember quite liking it at the time ...

briancwood: I just barely remember writing it... and it doesn't sound like my voice. it was only the second published project... I was seriously a rookie, flying by the seat of my pants.

Brian Cronin: How far along have you planned "DMZ?"

briancwood: I have outlines and notes for "DMZ" for a couple years.. I hope it runs that long. Ideally, it would be a 5 or 6 year project, like "Transmetropolitan" or "Preacher."

Brian Cronin: That'd be great. It really does seem like "DMZ" has enough heft to it that it could sustain a long run.

JimmyDee: Were initial orders on "DMZ" what you were hoping for?

briancwood: I don't have the initial orders yet... I keep forgetting to ask for them.

Brian Cronin: Will "DMZ" be longer arcs, or closer to "Demo," in the sort of "meet someone new, learn their story" etc.?

briancwood: The first "DMZ" arc is three issues, then a couple single issue stories.... I'll keep switching it up like that, I think. I am not used to arcs, and it doesn't come easy, but sometimes you need a longer space to work in.

briancwood: It's funny... I used to only write Graphic Novels at a minimum of 88 pages, but since "Demo" and now "Local," I tend to prefer the 24-page self-contained format.

Brian Cronin: Do you plan on Matt Roth (lead of "DMZ") to be more of a POV character, or will you be developing him further?

briancwood: My personal preference is to have him be more of a POV character, although my editors probably want him developed. We'll see how that goes.

JimmyDee: I saw in the interview on CBR yesterday that Riccardo Burchielli's first language isn't English. Has that proven challenging for you to work with him?

briancwood: Riccardo's english is really good... we email all the time, so its been okay. I think he has a translator for the scripts, though, just to make sure he's getting it all correctly.

dennisculver: Jubilee's Moms or Chamber's Dad? Who would win?

briancwood: Hey Dennis. :) I was waiting for someone to come along and fuck with me. :)

dennisculver: BOOM! Loved "DMZ," dude. That script was very tight.

briancwood: It should be, the amount of edits I put into it.

briancwood: Anyway, isn't Jubes moms some uptight, upper middle class housewife? like, in Vuitton? She's no match for some working class guy

JimmyDee: BW: Cmon, sometimes upper middle class moms can kick some ass. Look at the show "Weeds!" That mom kicks all sorts of butt

Brian Cronin: I think jubilee's mom is dead.

Brian Cronin: Oh wait. I should not admit that I know that.

briancwood: Plus she's dead.

dennisculver: That may be the case, but who would you cast in the movie? I think Lucy Liu would make an excellent mom for Jubilee

briancwood: Stop trying to kill me!

SuperBoyGold: How often do you get the dreaded writers block...and what do you do when you get it?

briancwood: I get writer's block all the time. Although its always eventually defeated by the Fear.. The Fear of not getting a paycheck.

JimmyDee: Is writer's block a real thing? A screenwriter friend of mine contends it simply doesn't really exist. That those who suffer from extended periods of writers block just aren't living their lives.

briancwood: Yeah, I strongly disagree with your friend on that one.

briancwood: Call it a block or something else... sometimes it just doesn't come, no matter who you are .

JimmyDee: I wouldn't know, I ain't a writer, but that's what he thinks. He understands short-term blocks fine, but guys who have like a year where they can't write ... he thinks it's just depression or something.

briancwood: Yeah, in an extended case like a year, its probably just a symptom of something larger.

SuperBoyGold: What comics are you into Brian...who are your favorite artists?

briancwood: Fave artists: Jock, Bryan O'Malley, lots of the D&Q people

briancwood: Becky Cloonan, Ross Campbell, Farel Dalrymple

dennisculver: "DMZ" is really sharp. And the art is sweet. I'm very impressed with the color, too. This is something to proud of.

JimmyDee: Yeah, ya know, the color in "DMZ" is quite excellent. It's more than just servicing the art. It's really helping set the mood.

briancwood: Our colorist is the "Promethea" guy... he's got an amazing talent.

Brian Cronin: Jeremy Cox?

dennisculver: How far ahead are you on ":pca;," any previews on the next towns to be used?

briancwood: I'm on "Local" #4... the next town in Minneapolis, then Richmond, VA, then Missoula, Montana, then up to Halifax, Nova Scotia

Brian Cronin: So, for future "Local's," more depiction of the local settings?

briancwood: It varies... I can't get too detailed on the local stuff and risk alienating people who don't live there. It's a balance.

briancwood: #3, though, is very Richmond-centric

Brian Cronin: I don't think it is a necessary thing by any means. I was just curious. I think the whole "local feel " works well.

briancwood: The biggest appeal, it seems to me, of my stuff like "Local" and "Demo" is how its relatable to everyone. I gotta keep that in mind.

briancwood: Everyone should be reading "Scott Pilgrim."

JimmyDee: "Scott Pilgrim" seems to be every creator's favorite comic. I gotta check that thing out.

Jonah Weiland: Jimmy,do ... it's wonderful.

Brian Cronin: "Scott Pilgrim" is awesome.

Brandon Hanvey: "Scott Pilgrim" is my new crack.

Brandon Hanvey: I thought I heard that "Demo" was not going to be collected as a trade. Was this ture, and if so why the change?

briancwood: "Demo" is collected at the end of this month. It was always planned, but only if the project was a financial success, but planned as an afterthought, a way to keep the stories available long after the singles go out of print.

Brandon Hanvey: Are there any extras in the "Demo" trade?

briancwood: No extras in the trade. Also part of the original plan. The trade is just a collection of the stories.

briancwood: "Local" will be the same as "Demo," FYI... all extras, etc, in the single issues only.

JimmyDee: One thing I've always felt is that Brian Wood books are best enjoyed with a cocktail. I prefer a vodka tonic myself.

briancwood: I read all my comics in the bathroom.

JimmyDee: Wait, your own comics, or all comics?

briancwood: Pretty much all comics. I have "The Winter Men" in there right now.

Brian Cronin: Leon is awesome.

briancwood: Indeed he is.

Brian Cronin: What do you have on when you write/draw? Music, TV or movies?

briancwood: Music... all different kinds, usually as an aid to get me into a certain frame of mind depending on what I'm working on.

Brian Cronin: So the "Pounded" soundtrack...did you listen to those songs while working on "Pounded?"

briancwood: The "Pounded" soundtrack came much later... I think I was drunk for most of the writing of "Pounded." Seriously, it was an experiment…get a little buzzed first.

Jonah Weiland: Oh, the "Pounded" soundtrack! I totally forgot about that. "My New Girlfriend" by that Mr. T band thing is one of my fave songs, actually. Serious!

Brandon Hanvey: Have you thought of drawing and writing a series or graphic novel again? Or do you prefer writing and having someone else do the art?

briancwood: I'd love to write and draw a book again... usually it's finances that prevent me from doing that, but hopefully that'll change.

Brian Cronin: What comic artist makes you most jealous?

briancwood: Jock, probably. And Becky Cloonan

Brian Cronin: Jock is incapable of bad work, it seems.

briancwood: And Dennis Culver

dennisculver: He's overrated.

Brandon Hanvey: If you had your choice of artist to co-lab with, who would be your top 5?

briancwood: Picking the TOP five is hard, but here's just five: Farel Dalrymple, Jock, Tomm Coker, Ashley Wood, Lee Bermejo

Brandon Hanvey: What is your con schedule for 2006? Are you planning on attending APE?

briancwood: Not sure about APE. Probably not, but I cant say for sure

briancwood: My site has a full list of appearances.

JimmyDee: Didn't you just move back to New York from SFO? Why? Didn't like the SFO scene? (I'm originally from SFO and am itching to get back there).

briancwood: I am just not a west coast kinda guy. SF is a very pretty place, though.

Brandon Hanvey: SF rocks. I love living here. We have APE, CAM, WonderCon, AIT Planet LAR, Isotope, Comic Relief.

dennisculver: Hey Bri, I will have at a table at Megacon in Orlando in Feb, you should totally come down and exhibit.

briancwood: Dennis... Florida seems random for you..

dennisculver: I am from there!

briancwood: Oh yeah.. I knew that

briancwood: I still think the best small press show is MOCCA.

JimmyDee: SFO's my favorite city in the world. I'm in LA right now ... but I've been traveling all over the world for business the last two years. Just makes me miss SFO that much more. NYC, though, is an amazing place. Closer to SFO in style than is LA..

briancwood: Having lived in both, I can say that NYC and SF are light years apart.

briancwood: NYC and Chicago are pretty close, though.

Brian Cronin: Hey Brian, what is the craziest video game design experience that you have had?

briancwood: I have a lot of stories about working at Rockstar, but I fear their lawyers so I won't say anything.

Brandon Hanvey: Do you give artists full scripts or basic plots/outlines?

briancwood: Somewhere in the middle. The scripts are broken down by page, with dialogue, but I give the artist the freedom to layout the page as they see fit. Although "DMZ" is full-script

JimmyDee: You a sports fan at all?

briancwood: Was a Boston fan as a kid, always a Boston fan. But I don't follow any sports.

portblazerfool: Do you plan on doing any signings or events in Portland?

briancwood: I'd love to come to that little show in Portland next year... forget what its called....

briancwood: or just to visit sometime. I'm sure at some point I'll do a "Local" signing.

dennisculver: Stumtown Comics Fest.... I am moving to Portland in February. I will be there.

briancwood: The Toronto Comics Arts Festival this past spring was great... but its every two years.

portblazerfool: Did you have anything to do with the "Grand Theft Auto: Liberty Cities?"

briancwood: I left Rockstar years ago... last game I worked on was "Manhunt."

Brian Cronin: Were you into comics much as a kid?

briancwood: I never was. I'm sure I read some when I was a kid, but they never left any impression on me. I got into them seriously in college.

briancwood: Which I guess is why I'm not dying to write superheroes.

Brian Cronin: When you were studying design? Or before?

briancwood: Yeah, in art school. I was around 23.

portblazerfool: What comics you reading currently?

briancwood: I don't read many comics... not regular ones. I read a few Vertigo books... most of Warren Ellis', a lot of D&Q and Top Shelf stuff... "The Ultimates," I guess. "Gotham Central."

SuperBoyGold: "Gotham Central" any good?

briancwood: I like it in trades, yeah. Same with "100 Bullets."

Brian Cronin: Steve Leiber did a great job on the last "Gotham Central." Can't say much for the story, but the art was great.

briancwood: And "Scott Pilgrim," of course. Over and over and over.

Brian Cronin: "Scott Pilgrim" as Crimson and Clover (I apologize to everyone for that gaudy reference).

Ouzo Man: Reading comics isn't a necessary prerequisite to making good ones. I don't think Kirby read that much of other people's work...depending on what you're doing, it could be counter productive, since if you read everything any idea you come up with is going to remind you of someone else's story.

Ouzo Man: It can sort of foreclose some parts of the creative process.

briancwood: Comics are just fiction, anyway. You should be a hardcore reader, though, if you want to make good comics.

Brandon Hanvey: You set "Pounded" in Vancouver. Did you do that for Steve Rolston or because it best suited the story?

briancwood: Steve wanted to draw Vancouver. It was the least I could do for him. :)

Brian Cronin: What was up with Becky Coonan's different art styles on "Demo?" Was that her choice or yours?

briancwood: That's just how she draws. It was never even discussed, and I think it never occurred to her that it was unusual to work that way.

Brian Cronin: So, who wins in a fight, Vampirella or Witchblade?

Brian Cronin: I figure you'd be the man to ask. :)

briancwood: Its always a tie, you know that.

Brandon Hanvey: The fanboys win!

briancwood: The IRS won in the end, as I paid my taxes with that check.

briancwood: Although who won in my crossover? I can't even remember.

Brian Cronin: Nor do I. That was awhile ago. You have to give it up for Maureen McTigue though. She loves to help indy creators

Brian Cronin: Anyone ever see the Vampirella/Scurvy Dogs crossover?

briancwood: Maureen is awesome. She let Becky do that Vampirella vs. Dead Vikings stories where Vampy makes snow angels in the end.

Cayman: Any chance of a "Fight For Tomorrow" collection?

briancwood: I seriously doubt we'll see a FFT collection.. The series didn't do so hot, in the end. I'd have to become quite a star to get them to do it.

Brian Cronin: You did the "Global Frequency" covers, right? Those were great. Did you do them in the old "Make a cover, then a comic" or did you read the issue first before you did the cover?

briancwood: Warren would send me a paragraph of text with story notes and suggestions for the covers, and I'd go from there. I think the only script I saw was for the first issue.

Brian Cronin: So they were stuck with the plot that Warren told you? That's funny.

Brandon Hanvey: Are there still "Defend Comics" t-shirts out there for sell?

briancwood: AiT had those... they might have a couple left. Brandon - what size are you?

Brandon Hanvey: Medium.

briancwood: Brandon, email me your address, I'll send you a spare Defend Comics hoodie, if you want it.

briancwood: You win the prize!!!

Brian Cronin: If you feel like "Generation X" does not reflect well on your current writing, what about "Channel Zero?"

briancwood: CZ and Gen X are both at least 5 years old... CZ is almost 8 years. I feel I've grown a lot, even though I look back on them fondly... CZ especially.

briancwood: I think CZ is a great artifact of that time of my life, and my career, and its interesting from a design standpoint... and as a starting point for my writing - you can see from where all my subsequent ideas sprung from.

Brian Cronin: So what's the biggest difference, do you think, between your writing on "Channel Zero" and your work now?

briancwood: I just think I've gotten better. At the core, the same concepts are in CZ as are in my current stuff... the execution is just 1000x times better. Remember, CZ was the first story I had ever written.

Brian Cronin: So you would still point to CZ if someone wanted to know your tone/style of writing.

briancwood: Maybe…I just wouldn't give it to them as the first thing of mine to read.

Brian Cronin: Who picked out Ryan Kelly? He's quite a find. Was that you or James [Lucas Jones]?

briancwood: I knew Ryan from his "Giant Robot Warriors" book, which is a really great book... everyone should get it. I asked him to work on "Local."

Brian Cronin: Do you see his style shining through on "Lucifer?" Or do you think that he changes his style on that book to fit gross?

briancwood: I can look at it now and recognize his linework, but I think its more Peter than him. Although it's clear he puts a lot of work into it.

Cayman: Will he be the artist for all 12 issues of "Local?"

briancwood: Yeah, he'll do all 12.

Cayman: If you put out a DMZ soundtrack, what would it sound like?

briancwood: "DMZ" soundtrack... good question.

SuperBoyGold: How many editors read your work...and does it change once it gets edited or does it get edited at all?

briancwood: I have 2 or 3 people who read the "DMZ" scripts, and it goes through a couple rounds of revision. My indie stuff I'll show to the artists and I'll give it a couple edits myself.

Brandon Hanvey: Do you think you'll attend ECCC 06 in Seattle?

briancwood: I'd like to do a Seattle con... I don't have a lot of money to travel everywhere, so I'd love to be invited, officially.

briancwood: I think I gotta wrap this up, everyone

Brandon Hanvey: Thanks for the chat, Brian.

briancwood: All my updates, PDF previews, all that stuff is here: http://brianwood.livejournal.com/

briancwood: Scroll a few entries for a PDF of SUPERMARKET, an upcoming IDW project.

briancwood: It was fun. Even the Jubilee stuff. :)

briancwood: See ya!

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