Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Interview: 'Method Man' writer David Atchison

David Atchison is a writer for the times. He bills himself not only as a Comic Book Writer, but also as a Journalist and Producer. On his most recent project, he was charged with fleshing out the story of Method Man's Peerless Poe character, a task that no doubt required him to wear all three of these hats, at once. I caught up with David and we discussed what it is like to be a writer in the world of celebrity owned comic book projects and social networking sites.

IT: What was the Method Man project like? Were you a fan of Method Man
and Wu-Tang before you landed the job?

DA: Growing up, I was a fan of the Wu-Tang Clan, specifically Method Man.
He's possibly one of my fave front men in Hip Hop. For me, he
encapsulated what the Wu-tang was about. Through the process of the
comic, Method Man and I communicated, BUT he also gave me the space to
create something from his initial idea. It was good creative
interaction. I liked the way it turned out for the most part. I would
have liked a couple more pages to tell the story in, but I think we
did a good job with the amount of pages we had. I don't know for sure
if I'll be involved in the other Wu-Tang Graphic Novels. If my
schedule and Hachette Publishing's Schedule line up, there's strong

IT: When you are writing on these celebrity projects, Method Man,
Rosario Dawson's Occult Crimes Task Force, what kind of input do you
have in the backstory, plot points, etc.? How complete is the premise
when they bring it to you?

DA: I've had as much input as any creator would have on a creator owned or
new book. Maybe even a little more. Rosario and Meth have both
respected by skills as a writer and let me "go with it."

When we started the Method Man Graphic Novel, Meth had a series of
ideas that he wanted to see in a story. It was my job to take those
ideas, combine them with ideas of my own and characters I created to
fashion a story. The OCT was totally different. It was actually a
story I created. Rosario came on board after the initial premise was
created and helped me to tweak it further. The books protagonist,
Sophia Ortiz, was based on Rosario in the same way Marvel's Ultimates?
Nick Fury is based on Sam Jackson. The difference with the OCT is
Rosario actually has a hand in the guidance of the character. It's
cool because she provides a different perspective as an actor and
helps to ramp up the emotion in scenes.

IT: The information that's out on the web bills you as not only a comic
book writer
, but a journalist, and producer, as well. When you wear
so many hats, do you find there is considerable overlap in terms
process and networking?

DA: Comic Illustrator Brian Stelfreeze once told me, "who you are is who
you are." I think about that with all of my jobs. Who I am as a man is
who I am as an artist and who I am as journalist and producer. The
same level of discipline and commitment I bring to one project must be
apparent throughout every facet of my life. If anything, I try to
bring a certain level of professionalism and passion to all the things
I work on. There is actually a good amount of overlap right now
because I produce multimedia projects with iterations in the comic
book medium
. As for networking, the statement is true "a good name is
better than riches." In all fields you have to guard your reputation
with your life. The easiest way to guard your reputation is to follow
the golden rule. Everyone can respect a consistent person.

IT: Where do you see yourself going? If you had to pick a single path
to follow, based on the different kinds of work you've done, what
would choose.

DA: I see my life going forward. It might sound corny, but I'd like to
advance myself in all the areas that I'm currently working in. I'd
like to write bigger comic projects, I'd like to work on larger
film/multimedia productions and I'd like to write for bigger
publications. Choosing one... I'd go with comics. Of the three, they
were my first love.

IT: Having been in the game for a few years now, what advice do you
have for creators trying to break into the industry? What do you think
of networking tools like ComicSpace and Triggerstreet comics? Do you
utilize these channels? If so, can you speak on their strengths and

DA: The best advice that was given to me: do the work. If you want to
write comics then write them. Writing is revising. You need to
practice. I get better with every script. Even when you look at the
comic storytelling legends you can see their skills improved as they
did more. If you want to work in comics you've got to create comic
books. Even if no one sees them. It only to increase your skills. New
creators should also remember that creating comic books is a job and
it should be respected as such. Invest in your industry by purchasing
the tools to do your job better. You can either be a creator that
takes away from the industry or you can be a creator who adds to the
industry in the form of good stories that help to increase the
artistic merit of the medium. There are a lot of great books about
writing comics that can help a new writer. It's also important to
educate yourself on the other guy's job. A comic book is a team
effort. As a writer you're like the quarterback of a football team. To
call the play right you've got to understand what the other guys on
the team do.

As for comic book networking tools. I don't use them as much as I
should. I do use social media sites like myspace, blogspot, twitter
and facebook to keep up with other comic book professionals. I also
peruse a couple of message boards where fans and creators hang out.
Online networking is a great tool for meeting other creators. I would
caution new creators to watch what they say online though. Excessively
slandering other creators or taking a drink of E-Courage and fighting
online can come back to bite you in the ass.

IT: Are there any characters or properties that you'd really like to
get your hands on and write?

DA: I'm a big fan of early Marvel Stuff. I'd love to write Black Panther,
Daredevil, Fantastic Four or Captain America. The Milestone characters
would also be really dope to write. I was a huge fan of Static growing
up. DC has some gems in there as well. The New Gods, the Guardian,
Batman, etc. If I could bring one property over from television to
comics it would be the Bionic Six. It was a great show and could make
a great comic book.

IT: Describe your dream project.

DA: My dream would be to push a creator owned project I have to the next
level. I'm really inspired by Mike Mignola's mix of artistic work and
business savvy on Hellboy. I'd like to do something like that with my
baby. As for a project owned by someone else- I'd like to do a what if
where the Black Panther takes on the Marvel Universe.

David is online, in many places:

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