Jeff Parker is a writer for comics currently on titles Batman ’66 and Aquaman for DC Comics, as well as Rovio’s Angry Birds. The past decade he worked mostly at Marvel, with acclaimed runs on Hulk, Thunderbolts, Agents of Atlas, and X-Men: First Class. Jeff drew comics for several years and worked in television animation (The Big Guy and Rusty The Boy Robot) and live storyboarding, ultimately returning to comics with his graphic novel adventure The Interman. Among his other original creations are the cave thriller Underground with Steve Lieber, the supernatural Mysterius the Unfathomable, and the webcomic Bucko with Erika Moen. He is a member of Periscope Studio and lives in Portland, Oregon.
What made you decide to work in the medium of comics?
I liked writing and drawing, and nothing else brings those disciplines together better for storytelling than comics. Ultimately it’s telling stories that I like to do, and comics lets me tell a lot of them where other media would limit that amount.
What part of the process is the most challenging or frustrating to you?
Good names or series titles are tougher than you’d think, at least for me. I’d rather build a whole story around a good name than start with the concept, it’s actually easier.
I don’t find much about building a story hard, it mainly requires enough time and I’ll get there. What’s much harder is raising awareness of a new project and bringing readers to that. Creating a book and selling it are two different things altogether.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring comics creator, what would that be?
My advice would be, if you want to be employable on a number of projects and have longevity, adopt a very zen approach to your assignments. Curves will be thrown at you by the publishers, the readership, everyone involved; it’s unavoidable. You can either grouse about it and become known as difficult to work with, or you can ride the wave instead of fighting it. I usually take it as a challenge that I can make almost any editorial note or change work and still get a good story from it.
There have been cases when the requested changes seem arbitrary and start coming way too often to make the job profitable, and I’ve had to bow out, so it’s not like I can always zen my way through. But I give it my best try before I resort to that.
Can I only give one piece of advice? I would also say to do whatever you can to make your collaborators’ jobs easier. If they’re happy with the process, it will just reflect well on you and make the story work that much better. Like, don’t ask for crowd scenes repeatedly, for instance. Do a lot of the visual research for the artist already and save that creator some time by including reference. Don’t try to push them to be other artists that they aren’t, work with who they are. As the saying goes, you go into battle with the army you have.
More at parkerspace.com