If the name Wes Black doesn’t ring a bell, clearly you haven’t been reading this blog for very long! That’s okay, because we’re here to introduce the man/myth/legend/etc. in our very first Creator Spotlight. This series is exactly what it sounds like: I’ll be shooting questions at artists and writers behind comics and other creative endeavors, finding out more about what fuels their work.
subhumanzoids: Hey, you’re our first creator spotlight! No pressure, but this has to be really good. For right now maybe I should just write “Wes says something funny here” and fill it in later.
Wes Black: Remember when that homeless guy with the high-pitched voice chased us into a Japanese video store on his bike, and then sat parked in the doorway, taunting us by ding-dinging the bicycle’s bell? That was funny after we realized we weren’t going to get stabbed. I recall us having a good laugh about it.
Regular readers of subhumanzoids may know you from two of the “Big Three” on the site: Two of a Vine and Neon Starlight Express. What was your writing process like for each of these comics?
I love giving myself lots of extra work. For Neon Starlight Express, I wrote a pitch (which I sent you to gauge interest) then a 17-page plot, followed by a full script — a script with way too many panels per page. After you sent me the finished art, I got mad at myself for using too many goddamn panels, and then rewrote most of the dialogue and captions, because half of it wasn’t needed. Despite this, I still managed to saddle you with pages and pages of overstuffed word balloons.
Two of a Vine didn’t have this problem so much, since we wrote that together. Except for the parts I went off and wrote on my own. Those definitely have too many panels. And words. For the past couple of years, I’ve found myself unable to read a comic without counting the panels and word balloons. I’m very good at ruining the things I love.
Two of a Vine basically stars us and the California Raisins. Were you ever worried said Raisins would emerge from your TV screen to strangle you for twisting them into the deranged creatures we created?
That or a cease & desist letter. I went in fully prepared to make the comic about The Delaware Dried Prunes in order to appease big corporate lawyers or murderous California Raisins.
Prior to this, you had more experience writing spec scripts for movies and TV. How does your approach to writing comics differ?
There’s slightly less anxiety involved, mainly because I’m confident you’ll fix things to where I won’t look like a complete moron. Honestly, I wish you could just illustrate all my pilot scripts.
The fact that we practically share a brain definitely makes communication easier. Have you written comics for people who aren’t named Joseph Luster? How did that go?
I haven’t, but I imagine I probably wouldn’t be able to use “that thing Craig T. Nelson pukes up in Poltergeist II” as shorthand. Sounds terrible, actually.
I know you’re primarily a writer, but do you have any of your demonic drawings to share? I feel like that’s a little known aspect of Wes Black.
I think most states have some sort of law on the books preventing that.
Regardless of what you’re writing, what’s a typical day like for Wes Black?
Usually I start by staring at the ceiling, then I talk myself into writing, and try to get down as a much as possible before the self-loathing really kicks in. After that happens I still keep on writing, but things tend to move a tad slower. I like to follow that up with a nice long walk while listening to a podcast (Shock Waves and Pure Cinema are faves). Maybe slip in a movie late at night — most recently 1987’s Dragnet, which has aged wonderfully. Expertly strides the line between spoof and straight buddy-cop film in a way that I feel wasn’t fully appreciated at the time of release.
Alright, speed round time: What’s your current regular comic roundup looking like?
Kill or Be Killed, Misfit City, Alien: Dead Orbit, Black Hammer, and Rock Candy Mountain. Plus early ’90s-era Valiant.
Favorite movie of 2017?
Does the new Twin Peaks count?
Might as well. Best kung fu movie ever made?
8 Diagram Pole Fighter.
Put 10 grand on it: McGregor or Mayweather?
Mayweather in the third, unless he accidentally KOs Connor while toying with him in the first two rounds.
A live-action Gantz TV series.
Alright, thanks for not messing up our first Spotlight, Wes! I’m writing this in advance assuming we didn’t totally beef it. Any parting thoughts or plugs?
I have a towel stained with the sweat of professional wrestler Kazuchika Okada that I keep hidden in my closet. Since I don’t have a will or anything, I’d just like it in writing somewhere that I want to be buried with said towel in the event of my death. It’s yellow and was made to look like a $100,000 bill with Okada’s face on it. That’s all, really.
Follow Wes on Twitter for a closer look at what watching a ton of wrestling and mainlining movie marathons will do to even the boldest of brains.