INDIE SPOTLIGHT ON: James O’Callaghan

We’ll spend the next few weeks featuring some of our incredible staff members who volunteer their time and energy into putting together GrayHaven’s comic line. As a group we’re from assorted backgrounds and even different parts of the world, but we share a passion for creating comics and helping others to bring their comics dreams to life!

Today we talk to Writer/Editor/Irishman James O’Callaghan

james

The Grayhaven Comics Staff Spotlight

Name:

James O’Callaghan

Position:

Editor, Assistant Editor, Writer

GH: How did you come to be involved with Grayhaven Comics?

JO:  I initially had pitched as a writer to a couple of volumes. After throwing out a crazy idea that combined several unconnected stories into one single story, Andrew asked me to be an editor.

GH: We all wear many hats at Grayhaven. Of the jobs you have to do, what do you find most rewarding?

JO: Definitely editing. More specifically helping writers find a clearer path to tell their stories and make sure the readers understand what’s happening on the page.

GH: We’ve all made appearances at different conventions. What is your favorite part of the convention experience? Your least favorite part?

JO: For me, living so far away from everyone, getting to see the editorial team and brainstorm for future books is probably the most rewarding for me. A bit selfish, I know, but I can’t help it. A very close second would be being able to talk comics with people who stop by the table, and convincing them to try the books, or even pitch a story to one of the anthologies.

Worst part, having to deal with the rude people who knock stuff about the table because they drop their stuff on it, or swing their bags around without caring what’s around them. Table hoggers, who start talking to someone and refuse to move so other people can browse the stuff on offer is also pretty annoying.

GH: Of what Grayhaven projects are you most proud? Why?

JO: I’d say for editing, The Dark Anthologies made me happy to get out there. There were quite a few good stories in there, and I was glad to let people go a bit more mature than The Gathering anthologies would allow. The first one also featured the first written work by my best friend, who has gone on to impress quite a few people since with his writing, so seeing that makes me very, very happy.

GH: Are there any other works – be they comics, literary, or art related – that you’re working on?

JO: I’m currently assisting in editing the Kaiju OGN and Lil Kaiju book with Erica Heflin for Grayhaven. I’ve also co-written a one-shot with Sean Leonard and art by Damian Duncan, called The Village which will be out through Grayhaven sometime in the next year. And I’m editing several of Erica’s other projects, which are coming out through Inverse Press, such as the upcoming OGN Antithesis, and both of the soon to be completed mini-series, Flesh of White and Black Hand (Black Hand will be released digitally through Alterna Comics).

 

GH: What kinds of comics do you enjoy reading and why?

JO: I honestly have no preference. I started with superheroes, like a lot of readers, and still read most of Marvel’s output today. But I also read virtually everything I can that Image, Dark Horse and IDW put out. I don’t care what genre. If the first issue grabs me, I’ll keep reading. And I’ll pick up any book by Terry Moore. And I’ll give any European or Japanese comics I can get my hands on a try too, if for no other reason than to study the differences in how they create comics versus most American made comics.

GH: What are you current top five books to pick up?

JO:

Rachel Rising by Terry Moore

Velvet by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting

Coffin Hill by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda

Daredevil by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

Starlight by Mark Millar and Gorlan Parlov

 

GH: How were you first introduced to the comics medium?

JO: I’m not sure about the US, but here in Ireland we have hardback Annuals based on whatever the current craze is. Generally they featured reprints of regular American and British comics, along with prose stories and games and after Christmas, they dropped to a really cheap price, so they were standard cheap gifts for kids. I had a lot of them, so that’s when I started getting used to reading comics. The books were a bit more durable thanks to the hardcover, so they lasted longer than a standard issue. We also didn’t have a standard comic shop, so I had to rely on whatever newsagents got in, which were generally British comics like 2000AD and reprint books for Spider-Man. Then when I was about 7 I was huge into Sonic the Hedgehog, and the British Sonic the Comic started. I missed the first couple but I picked it up with issue 3 and it became my first serious attempt at collecting comics, but with the bi-weekly schedule, I’d miss issues a lot. After that I slowly started picking up whatever I could, until I started seriously collecting Marvel UK’s Wolverine reprint book when I was about 12 and from then I haven’t missed an issue of a book I’ve been collecting.

GH: Do you have aspirations to be a professional in the comics industry?

JO: Definitely. I love comics, and working professionally in the industry is always something that I’ve wanted to do.

GH: What is the fundamental advice you’d like to give to all up-and-coming comics creators?

JO: Work as hard as you possibly can. If you’re a writer, write every day, no matter what. If you’re an artist, draw every chance you get. If you’re an editor, drink a lot (okay, maybe not that last one). Keep honing your skills.

Set believable goals, and understand that you’re not going to be an overnight success. You may not be a success for years, if you ever are. For every Robert Kirkman, there are an uncountable number of creators who are struggling to get noticed. Don’t let this turn you off trying.

If you have an editor, listen to them. If you don’t have one, get one. And listen to them. Don’t rely on friends and family to tell you if your story is good or not, because often friends and family will say they love whatever you hand them so they don’t hurt your feelings, or because they don’t want to risk making you mad. Always remember that the editor is basically your test audience so that you can fix any problems before it gets to the people who’ll be spending money on your book.

You should also understand that comics are collaborative. Try to keep a good, professional attitude with your writer/ artist/ letterer and your editor. Writers, understand your artist’s limits. Don’t write a page with 24 panels of action shots, with tons of dialogue and captions all over the place. That page isn’t happening. Artists, don’t just randomly change stuff because you think it looks better than what the writer has written. If either of you have an idea, discuss it with each other, and if needed, bring in your editor for a second opinion. Writing too much for a page, or changing what’s written because you want to draw something else, is just going to sour people from working with you.

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