INDIE SPOTLIGHT ON JASON SNYDER

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The Grayhaven Comics Staff Spotlight

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!

Name: Jason Snyder

Position: Writer/Editor/Production

How did you come to be involved with GrayHaven Comics?

It’s a pretty similar story to many of us on the staff, both former and current. We were all friends on Brian Bendis’s now-defunct Jinxworld message boards, with publisher Andrew Goletz being one of those friends. Andrew posted about a bunch of people getting together to make an anthology and asked for volunteers. I don’t recall how soon it was after he made the post, but as soon as I read it, I contacted him to let him know about my interest. This would turn out to be only the first story I’d write for GrayHaven, as well as only the first issue of THE GATHERING that we would release. The theme proposed to us by Andrew was “hope,” and so I put together a two-page story about a man raising his daughter in the aftermath of his wife’s death. The story was illustrated by the esteemed Pat Loika. It was a bit wordy, and I definitely showed how “green” I was, but it still ranks as one of my favorite stories. One reason for that was because of it simply being my first published comic work. The other reason was that it still resonates as one of my truly heartfelt pieces. 

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

That would definitely be the writing side of things. I love writing, and I’ve been doing it to some extent for the last twenty-five of my thirty-six years of life. Mind you, I’m still not at that professional level I would like to be, but I’m certainly more experienced that I was five years ago with that first Gathering story. Still, there’s nothing like crafting a story, be they short two-pagers or full arcs. I love the long-form style of storytelling, though these days I feel it may be dying with the shorter runs most creators seem to be doing.

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

I haven’t had the opportunity to make it to a big convention like San Diego or NYCC yet, and not yet as a professional guest, but of the local cons I’ve been to, I enjoy the different exhibitions and set-ups I see. Everyone truly lets their “geek flag” wave. My least favorite part is when a “comic convention” is too beefed up with other pop culture aspects, and it overshadows a bit of that comic flavor that this convention was originally intended to have.

Of what GrayHaven projects are you most proud? Why?

There are two one-shots coming out later this year as part of a secret GrayHaven initiative of which I obviously can’t talk about yet, but these will be the first full-sized stories I’ve released, so just having two fully realized stories instead of the short anthology segments we normally do fills me with an immense pride. Beyond that, the both stories have their own unique moments I’m proud of, and I can’t wait to share that with our audience.

 

Of the stories released so far, my proudest works would either be “I Remember Jack,” “The Confession of Jonas Salinger,” and “Borrowed Time.” “I Remember Jack” was a story released in our Gathering: Cities volume, which detailed the day JFK was assassinated but focused on the day of a Dallas police officer leading up to that moment. “The Confession of Jonas Salinger” was a futuristic science fiction tale about a man on death row that appeared fairly early on in our Gathering: Myth volume. Even earlier, “Borrowed Time” was a story that appeared in our unfortunately named Gathering: Heroes book. I say it was unfortunately named because for being an indie publisher, having a cover and title that seemed to showcase superheroes was apparently a nail in the coffin for the book’s sales, which is a shame because the stories in that volume were quite good, and also one of the only times GrayHaven released an issue of THE GATHERING with every story being extended from the normal two to five pages to a whopping six to eight pages. Ironically, each of those stories was illustrated by my frequent collaborator Michael Sumislaski (more on him in a minute).

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

There are a few things with that Mike guy (remember him from up above? Haha). For the last two years, Mike and I have been working on two volumes of the humor webcomic HORNTOAD SAM WEEKLY. Mike is actually the creator of the Horntoad Sam character, and back in 2013, he was kind enough to ask me to come work on the strip with him as its writer. In that time, Sam and his characters have become almost like a second family to me, so much so that Mike and I are currently going back to that well and relaunching his original comic book series that he had started working on several years before the webcomic. I’ve sat down and read over Mike’s original notes, kept a few things that I really enjoyed, and just finished the first-issue script of a new direction both Mike and I are pretty excited about. It’s actually something we’re going to try submitting to Oni Press now that they have opened up submissions for creators. Regardless of it getting accepted there, the series is something we want to continue with, even if we have to publish it ourselves. Hopefully look for that soon in some kind of venue!

What kinds of comics do you enjoy reading and why?

All kinds. I grew up as your Marvel and DC guy, but I also read books from Image, Valiant, Oni, IDW, and Boom as well as self-published books like Rachel Rising. I’m a stickler for the horror genre, though I have yet to really delve into that in my comic work. I also enjoy period pieces, so I’m really looking forward to something like Brian Woods’s REBELS, which is coming out any day now from Dark Horse. Older books like SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE also fit into that like of period stories.

What are you current top five books to pick up?

This one is a tough question for me, mostly because I’ve gotten so far behind on my reading that my “current” favorites may be ones that came out two years ago. With that said, with what I’m reading right now, I’m really enjoying RACHEL RISING by Terry Moore, the recent SWAMP THING runs by Scott Snyder and Charles Soule, AMERICAN VAMPIRE by Scott Snyder, the AVENGERS/NEW AVENGERS runs by JONATHAN HICKMAN, and DAREDEVIL by the Mark Waid/Chris Samnee team.

Even though my reading is behind, I’m still picking up the books that come out weekly and throwing them on my to-be-read pile as well as keeping up with the news, and once I get to them, I’m looking forward to SECRET WARS; WYTCHES by Scott Snyder and Jock; C.O.W.L. by Kyle Higgins; HOWARD THE DUCK by Chip Zdarsky; and the aforementioned REBELS by Brian Wood.

How were you first introduced to the comics medium?

I think the first comics I picked up were in a Giant chain of grocery stores when I lived on the east coast as a child in the 1980s. These were random issues of the first SECRET WARS and UNCANNY X-MEN (I think during the Australia/pre-Siege Perilous issues). After that, I picked up a few Archie digests and got into Archie’s TMNT ADVENTURES, and that was around 1990, when I first discovered comic book stores. My first regular superhero title was FANTASTIC FOUR in the same year, followed by AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, SUPERMAN, and BATMAN. My interest and collection continued to grow from there until I got to the point where I was spending several hundred dollars each month on new books. Today, twenty-five years from when I first started collecting, I have about eighty long boxes of comics and two bookshelves of trades and hardcovers. I’m lucky my wife still lets me live in our house!

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

Definitely. I’d at least like to get my stories out there and hopefully have a series that has a broader audience. I’d even like to do some Big Two work, if the chance ever presented itself. Spider-Man is my favorite superhero, so I’d be psyched to have a shot at his stories. However, I also love the Marvel horror creatures like Man-Thing and Werewolf By Night, so if Marvel ever wants to give me a call to relaunch those characters… 😉

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

For both writers and artists, I can give very similar advice. First of all, practice. Even if you’re only writing or drawing for an hour each day, it’s still something. Hone those skills, and even if you do get published, continue to hone them. You can always get better. My second piece of advice is to always listen to critiques from those who have experienced the same thing you’re going through, whether that be other writers or artists or the editors to whom you’re submitting your work. Be humble, and listen to what they have to say. No matter how great you think you are, there is always a piece of advice you can take with you to get better. Finally, get your work out there. You may get rejected dozens, sometimes hundreds, of times before you get a “yes.” This is an extremely tough field to get into. However, if you truly have the heart and mindset to succeed, that “yes” will come, but you need to at least be proactive and take that step yourself.

 

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