RUSSELL is an edgy horror, sci-fi and mystery writer with a ton of amazing products in the works. He currently has a publishing deal with VIPER COMICS for his first four-issue comic book ICHABOD JONES: MONSTER HUNTER.
What is the current project you are working on?
I assume you specifically mean comic properties. I have a novel, children's book and other projects to keep myself busy, but I'm in production on three comic properties:
ICHABOD JONES: MONSTER HUNTER is currently in production with Viper Comics set to publish it. I won't have an exact release date until the third issue is complete. I'm crossing my fingers it's either late this year or early next year that Ichabod will be released.
Ichabod Jones is about a deranged mental patient that escapes from an asylum during the Apocalypse and becomes a monster hunter at the end of the world. The really cool thing about it though (besides the FANTASTIC art) is that the audience is always kept guessing as to whether he's dreaming everything, if he's actually a monster hunter, or if he's killing people and thinks that it's the Apocalypse. I really can't wait for that to come out.
Then I have KATRINA HATES DEAD S%&t, which is about a bada$$ chick that gets sick of living during the end of times so she sets out to Hell to confront the Devil and end the Apocalypse once and for all. It's my lapsed Catholic, sick of hearing about the end of the world book. Five issues with some amazing artwork. This is the book I'm currently funding through Indiegogo. There is a book trailer on the site that explains the set-up to the story.
Finally, I have MY FATHER DIDN'T KILL HIMSELF. It's a quirky, weird, off-beat book about a young Goth girl that learns her family home is about to be foreclosed upon. She sets off to prove that her father's recent suicide was actually a murder so that her mom can cash in on a hefty life insurance policy. I don't like talking about that one only because there's been about a million artists that have come back and forth on it. Now that I have one that's been getting me ridiculously great pages I don't want to jinx it.
How do you handle rejection?
Rejection is a part of the game. In fact it's most of the game. Luckily, you only need one person to say yes. That's what you have to keep telling yourself. Remember, just because THIS person doesn't want to publish my book, doesn't mean it's a bad book.
Publishing is a business. Not only does your book have to be amazing, but it also has to be something that specific publisher thinks he can make money. Every publisher is different in that regard. Your book might not fit their niche. It's not a condemnation of your book or you as a person. It's business.
At the end of the day you're making a book for the AUDIENCE, not the publisher. The publisher is just a step toward reaching that audience. If you believe in yourself and create a great book, an audience will come--knock on wood.
Did you always want to create a comic book?
When I was a kid I always loved comics, but I can't draw... not even a stick figure. So I thought that dream was dead. It wasn't until people told me that Stan Lee didn't draw his own comics that I immediately started work on finding an artist and getting a book out.
What inspired you to create your comic books?
That you can do anything in a comic book. I worked in film and tv for a while and even though they can create basically anything, it takes a lot of time and effort. With a comic, as long as I can dream it up, my artist can make it. It doesn't cost more money or take much more time to create the universe imploding than it does to draw two people talking.
What is the best thing about being one?
Honestly, seeing something come out with your name on it. Again, with film and tv even when something sells it sits in "development Hell" for months or years and will probably never get made. However, with a comic I can see my vision realized in a matter of months.
What is the worst thing about being one?
I pretty much love everything about making comics. It's the most fun I've had as a writer in years. The worst part by far, however, is the financial cost.
What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?
Comic projects? 5. Overall? add a novel to that, a children's book, about 20-30 scripts for web series, tv shows and movies. 40-ish? And that's just as a writer.
Do you prefer Marvel or D.C. Comics?
Marvel. I hate to say this because I know lots of great DC writers and editors. I've also read a lot of great DC arcs and books I really enjoyed, but I've always been drawn more to Marvel.
How has your life changed since you became a created your comic books?
All those ideas I've been talking about for years and couldn't get traction... now people can see them on paper and go "Oh yeah. These are great." It's a very weird change. I'm exactly the same guy with exactly the same ideas, but the response to my work is night and day.
What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to create a comic book?
Find the right artist for your book. An artist may be fantastic, but they might not work with your book. There are tons of communities where you can search for artists. Take your time and make the right choice. It's the most important choice in the entire process. It helps tremendously in finding a publisher and getting an audience excited.
What do you like to do besides creating comic books?
I play a lot of board games and watch TV. I'm married so most of my spare time is spent with my wife and our dog bumming around the house.
Have you had any other jobs before you decided to create comic books?
I used to work as an executive at an internet TV station. I've been an assistant. I've directed, produced, edited. I was a fashion and headshot photographer. I worked on Capitol Hill as a videographer. I went to Denmark once to help shoot a feature film. Yeah, I've had some different jobs.
What are some of your favorite American films? Foreign films? Television shows?
American films would be movies like Little Miss Sunshine and American Beauty, funny and flawed Americana without an easy resolution. Also Big Lebowski and Pulp Fiction. The older I get the more I want my movies to be funny. Not necessarily light comedy, but not wholly depressing either.
I don't watch a lot of foreign movies but I loved "Let the Right One in" and the "Girl with a Dragon Tattoo" series.
I spend more time watching TV since it's basically free. I want to make sure I get my money's worth for my subscription fees. I try to watch everything, but I prefer comedies. I watch Futurama, Parks and Rec, Community, Modern Family. I have Netflix so I've been rewatching Friday Night Lights and Lost too.
How would you describe your film education with regard to comic books?
I'm not exactly sure of the question, but I'll try to answer what I think the question is.
Coming from a film background is a GREAT primer for working in comic books. Both are a visual medium where you as the writer are laying a blueprint for others to interpret your work. From storyboarding to editing, it all helps give you a solid foundation for creating a comic book.
How would you describe the comic book "scene" where you live?
I live in LA, and the scene is great. Not only do I have an awesome comic book store, Dreamworld, complete with Batcave near my house, but there are great stores all over LA.
Additionally, Comic Book Sunday is a monthly gathering of comic book folks from artists to writers to editors that really fosters a sense of community. Because LA is a film town there are also lots of people, writers especially, that migrate between the worlds of movies and comics.
How has social media changed the comic book industry?
It allows you to show publishers a fanbase before they ever pick up your book. Additionally, it allows you to promote your book to the fanbase and attracts new fans even before the book drops.
What's your opinion on crowdfunding?
Similar to what I said above, it allows you to almost "pre-sell" your book to the target audience. I've had a great experience with crowd-sourcing. Anything that can help raise both funds and brand awareness at the same time gets a thumbs up in my book.
How does independent film differ from the mainstream?
Much in the same way independent comics differ from mainstream comics. Studios have a brand and investors they are beholden to, whereas indies are beholden to a great and unique idea. Of course they all hope to make money, but I think that's a secondary concern for indies to telling a great story. You have to look no further than the recent comments by Disney to see that story is a secondary or even tertiary concern to some studios.
You could go back in time and see any classic comic book being made. Which would it be and why?
Well I think it would be kinda boring to watch a comic be made, though I'm sure it would be fascinating to sit over an artist's shoulder and watch them work.
If you mean what book would I like to go back and read as it's being made it's Watchmen. It may not be a ground-breaking answer, but I would love to pick up Watchmen every month as it was coming out. Even when I read it now, knowing exactly what's coming, I can't help but get excited.
What's your favorite comic book character quote and why?
Again, it's not going to rock anybody's world, but "with great power comes great responsibility". I think Spider-Man takes it a little far by feeling the need to save everybody constantly, but it's a very humbling quote. It help prevents you from getting a big head.
When your a small creator it's easy to handle the responsibility of a few fans, a publishing deadline and an interview every once and a while. But it's always good to have that playing in the back of your mind when you start to have more responsibilities.
What is your opinion on comic book to movie adaptions?
If they're done well then I'm all for them. It's great to see a book go from a teeny tiny market (and comics are most certainly that) to a global one.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
You can find more information on my website: www.russell-nohelty.com. It links to every one of my projects. You can read previews of all my upcoming books and like them on Facebook for more updates. Additionally, even a dollar helps raise funds for my new book, KATRINA HATES DEAD S%&T. There is an indiegogo campaign for the book which you can reach from the www.katrinacomic.com website.
Thanks Russell for doing the interview. Keep me posted on the status of KATRINA HATES DEAD S%. Let me know when Viper comic publishes ICHABOD JONES: MONSTER HUNTER.