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Writing wisdom from ‘Frankenstein, Alive! Alive!’ writer Steve Niles

Long Beach Comic Expo 2014 was the site for The Comic Bug’s Monthly Comic Book Creator Meeting, a gathering of aspiring comic book creators looking to get tips and network with fellow creators with the similar comic book aspirations. At the May 2014 meeting Mike Wellman sat down with the main name in comic book horror, Steve Niles.

When it comes to comic book horror Steve Niles is the writer to find.
Bernie Wrightson
Steve Niles dishes writing tips at Mike Wellman's Comic Creators meeting and the gloves came off.
Mike Wellman, used with permission

The Comic Bug Presents: A Discussion with Steve Niles” was a thoroughly entertaining discussion of Niles’ career and life as the writer bared all from his years of work that allowed him to be an “overnight success” to his sobriety to his development of new comic titles in place of the old.

Most important was the advice that Niles gave at the panel, “Just write, don’t think ahead.” The mistake too many aspiring creators make is to think about what they do after they have written instead of just doing the work. If you don’t have the work there is no need to find an agent, find a publisher, or market your book.

Writing is a solitary endeavor and you are going to spend a lot of time alone working on your writing. The best thing to do is to sit and do it, “Just create the material.”

Niles did not make any money writing until he sold “30 Days of Night” when he was 33. For years he toiled away publishing enough to get by but not making any money.

When “30 Days of Night” hit big and his writing was in demand, he had drawers filled with stories he had written that he was able to dust off, clean up and sell. His output at the time was outrageous but it was due to all the years of “Just Writing” that gave the impression that he was a writing machine.

The other piece of advice that Niles gave was networking. For years Niles attended comic book conventions and talked with relevant people in comics from fellow writers, to artists, to editors. He got to know them from an early point.

It was the networking that he did that took care of all the other things that people take so much time worrying about. Once the writing was done, through his networking Niles was able to find the right contacts to bring his books to life. It was all there and ready for him when he needed it just from getting to meet people over the years.

Along the lines of not looking ahead, comes the viewpoint that it is so much easier to criticize the current comic book landscape. The “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” that is prevalent where every fan knows how to “save” comics and make the comics the “right way.” The truth is there is no “fix” for all of comics’ problems.

Niles says all the worries about the industry are just worries and out of his hands. His recent series published through Dark Horse Comics “Breath of Bones” was a critical hit, but the sales were not indicative of this. Now the story is selling better in a collected edition format and getting more attention. Sales are a mystery of comics and that if you spend the time worrying about how to sell the book that is time taken away from writing the material.

You can find Steve Niles’ comic work “Frankenstein Alive! Alive!,” “Monster and Madman,” “The Nosferatu Wars,” “Mystery Society,” “Ash and the Army of Darkness” among many others directly on his website

You can also find all of these books at The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, where Mike Wellman hosts The Monthly Comic Creator Meetings. Special guests are lined up to thrill the regular attendees. Be sure to check The Comic Bug website for more details. The creators publish an annual anthology book that features the product of the group. The most recent book is “Briefs” and is available at The Comic Bug.

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