Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Artist Profile: Ian Flynn

 Ian Flynn is one of the nicest, approachable guys working in comics today. I can say that from experience having met Ian in person, as a guest at the Return of Mini-Con, and over the ol' world wide web. I was thrilled when Ian agreed to let me question him for one of the blog's Artist Profiles. And while it isn't set, Ian is considering returning to the Return of Mini-Con- provided his schedule for the summer doesn't just swamp him!
 Living in Charlotte, Ian writes for Archie comics- primarily the Sonic the Hedgehog stories. Recently, Ian took up writing Mega Man, and on May 16, Archie Comics goes back to its roots with Red Circle Comics and the return of the New Crusaders. The comic will be available via the redcircle app, and will feature weekly 6-page installments!
If you get out for Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 5- look for the Sonic and Mega Man issues. They were both written by Ian!

Hey, Ian-

Thank you for taking your time to answer these questions. Thanks also for giving consideration to our event, too. I really appreciate that.

Sure thing.
 What titles do you write at the moment? What other titles have you worked on?

Right now I'm the writer for Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Universe, Mega Man and New Crusaders, all published by Archie comics.  I also wrote the four-part Magical Tales of Young Salem, a spin-off of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, along with a few other Archie projects and some other odds-and-ends.  I've got it all listed on my website, www.BumbleKing.com (shameless plug)
 When and how did you decide to become a writer? Why comics and not magazines or novels?

It was something of a "sink or swim" moment.  I was clearing my bachelor's degree rapidly, and the prospect of entering the real world was daunting.  I was majoring in English, I liked writing as a hobby, and I was lucky enough I was able to apply what comes naturally to me to get a steady job. 

Magazines don't immediately capture my attention since I'm not very good at short pieces.  Informative articles feel like term papers, and op/ed pieces either feel like I'm dragging out a topic or I don't have enough room to cover all the bases.  Short fiction, serials (like comics) and novels are more my forte.  Call me long-winded.
 When you plot out a story, it ends up looking similar to a script. Do you "see" the story in your  head with all the different angles and views?

The manuscript for a comic really isn't all that different from one used in other media.  Where they differ most is comics don't have as rigid a design structure - there is no industry-wide standard.  Different publishers have different policies, and I use the form taught to me by my first editor.

Have you ever thought of scripting a TV show or movie?
 I'd be all for branching out into other media, but my plate's a little full as it is.  (which rarely stops me anyway, but I digress)
People (parents and older folks, usually) like to ask artists and writers, "That's nice what you do with the comics, but what else can you do with your skills?" So, do you use your writing skills in any other jobs?

I've used it to do a lot of ad copy for various Archie books.  I've also been very active interacting online with the readership, and a well-spoken presence goes a long way.  With the launch of New Crusaders this May, I've been inundated with interviews, and finding fresh ways to reiterate the same points can be a challenge.

You were a fan of Sonic before you took over writing the stories. What made you like Sonic and his world so much? Was it the video games, cartoon shows, the comics or something else?

The game caught my attention first.  They were fun, and I could play them with a high degree of success. (as opposed to Mario or Mega Man - can't beat those to save my life)  I came upon the comics and cartoons about the same time, and I was drawn to the world used to expound upon the game's simple premise of "hedgehog jumps on robots and fat man's head."
 How did you end up getting the job at Archie working on Sonic?

The one way they tell you to never try: unsolicited personal application.  I improvised scripts, gathered letters of recommendation, and kept contacting the editor once a year.  My lucky break came when there was a change in editors, and the new guy happened to be open to new talent.  I did a lot of clerical, record-keeping stuff for the series bible and then graduated to script writer.
Did you ask for Mega Man or did Archie approach you about the book? Were you a fan of this character, too?
The story goes that Capcom, the owners of Mega Man, were interested in expanding the franchise and approached Archie to do a book.  Due to my success with the two Sonic titles, I was asked to pick up Mega Man.  I've always been appreciative of the franchise from the sidelines because, like I said, I fail terribly at his series of games.  Thankfully, the internet is full of dedicated fans who catalogue everything about the series.

Have you ever had to take on an assignment or character you did not like at first, but after working on it you became a fan of the book or character?

I can't think of any project I've gone into dreading it, but there's been a few where I feel like I'm out of my comfort zone.  Once I get into the characters, world and lore, however, I think I can get by pretty well.
As a kid, what were the cartoons, comics, and other things that helped steer you towards comics?

I was a child of the 80s.  I grew up on those half-hour toy commercials like He-Man, Thundercats and Transformers.  (personally, I preferred Silverhawks and Go-Bots, but nobody seems to remember those as fondly) My parents encouraged me to read, and we usually had Bearinstein Bears and Dr. Seuss books in the house.  So I grew up on high fantasy/adventure with clear morals and colorful, memorable character archetypes.
Is there another dream project out there you would love to do?

Get something of my own published!  I've got a myriad of original comics, graphic novels and short stories I want to put together.  It just takes time and focus, neither of which I have a lot of lately.
 If you could jump in right now and rescue a storyline or change one, which comic would need you most right now?

That's a loaded question (haha).  I don't want to be so presumptuous to say a story "needs" me.  There's stuff going on in the comics I grew up with I'm not fond of, but I also know that a lot of those writers are just following orders from their editors, and that those orders can originate even higher on the food chain.  It's part of the job - the nature of the beast - and I know they're doing the best they can.
You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?

That reminds me - y'wanna know how I got these scars?
Who would win in a footrace- Sonic or Quicksilver? (Poor Quicksilver- he's supposed to be so fast but everybody can beat him it seems!)

Are we talking comic-Sonic or game-Sonic?  616-Quicksilver or Ultimate-Quicksilver?  If the former, before or after M-Day/Secret Invasion/yadda yadda yadda NERD SPEAK!

 Any words of wisdom for future writers who read this? Any epically bad ideas and no-no's you'd like to offer them as well?

Gorge yourself on media.  Cartoons, comics, TV, movies, music, fiction, non-fiction.  Take in the good stuff, the classics, the industry-crafted junk, and the terrible.  Everything you take away from it - the good, the bad, the mentally scarring - will shape how you approach your worlds and characters.

Don't be afraid to walk away from a project if you're stumped, but make sure it's only to refresh your mental faculties.  Don't shelve a project indefinitely.  Keep working, always write.  In this day and age where everything is digital, you have no excuse not to have a million pages of practice.


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