Many comic book professionals can be accurately labeled with the term “Jack Of All Trades”, and that phrase specifically describes comic writer Buddy Scalera. Having started in the industry with news magazine Wizard, Buddy has gone on to work on many popular series, such as Marvel’s X-Men and Deadpool, as well as a number of creator owned titles through his imprint, After Hours Press. Buddy’s talents are currently being tapped by Ape Entertainment for a new Richie Rich title, based on the character created by Harvey Comics. Buddy was gracious enough to take some time out of his schedule to talk with us.
Just to start things off with a softball; what brought you into the world of writing comics?
I really discovered comics in college. I was studying journalism and one of my professors actually sparked my interest in comics. At the time, I knew nothing about comic books, but I did have a journalism degree, so I used that as my door into the industry.
So I broke into comics writing for newspapers and magazines, and then I eventually got a job at Wizard.
I try not to think about it much. If I did, I’d get analysis paralysis. I mean, I am an unabashed Richie Rich fan and I still have every one of the issues that I had as a kid.
Right now, I’m trying to make sure each of the characters has a consistent and unique voice.
For me, the goal is to write a basic comic book story that will entertain kids. I have kids, so I imagine them reading the comics, so a clear plot is extremely important.
What can you tell us about your plans for Richie Rich?
The next few issues, I’m going to take the team on kid-awesome adventures. In this issue, they became superheroes. In the next issue, they hunt the Loch Ness Monster. They’ll go into the center of the earth to battle pirates. They’ll go into outer space.
It’s really a broad range of adventures, which should keep the book from getting stale or pedestrian. But more than anything, I’ll focus on good, wholesome entertainment for kids. Clear, strong characters in fantastic adventures.
You have a series of Comic Artist’s Photo Reference books out in stores. What prompted you to put together a series of books like this?
Lots of professional and aspiring artists like to use some form of photo reference. Traditional art reference books are very expensive and they can be quite bulky. Many artists would keep morgue files of photos.
I love taking pictures and I am obviously a huge comic book fan. It’s an ideal way for me to combine two of my favorite things.
When I first started to create reference collections, I just wanted to make affordable reference available to everyone. I would put 500 pictures on a CD-ROM and sell it for $10. I still sell those CDs to this day and I have never raised the price.
Later, I moved on to books, but the books included CD-ROMs with bonus images. Again, for me, it’s about providing a good photo reference product at an affordable price.
Tell us about your Comic Book School. What do you hope to accomplish with that?
I am hoping to help the next generation of comic creators to improve their craft and to navigate the industry. If you just want to get better as a comic book creator, you can read my books and check out my website for ways to improve your craft. A lot of people just want to make comics and tell stories.
Then again, there are a lot of people who really want to work in comics as a professional. If you read my book Creating Comics from Start to Finish you will learn a lot about the industry.
There’s a lot of really bad advice out there. I’m taking a journalistic approach, as I ask working creators about professionalism. If you want comics to be your career, it would be smart if you understood the entire business and production process, not just your specific niche. I’m trying to give a holistic view of the craft and business of creating comics.
Comic Book School is starting to get a decent following and I am planning to produce more educational materials. I always have something going. Some of it will be paid and some of it I will share for free. I hope that people can utilize everything I generate because it may help them have a better, more productive career in comics.
In addition to writing, you also promote yourself as a marketer, using many aspects of social media. Given everything that you have on your plate, why spend your time doing this?
By day, yes, I work as a professional marketer at a large advertising agency. It’s an awesome job, since I get to play in social networks and use new technology.
At night and on the weekends, I work on writing comic books and doing stuff like Comic Book School. This is my form of creative expression.
I don’t just read comics, I actually have an opportunity to create them as well. I can’t imagine walking away from that.
So while other people are watching television or doing yard work, I am writing or taking pictures or doing something else creative. We only get one chance at this life, so we may as well make the most of it.
Any other projects in the pipeline that you care to share with us?
I wish. Most of the stuff I am doing has a really long timeline. Making books is a very long process with years of planning.
In the short term, people can check out Richie Rich. I’ve already completed the next four issues, so now I am just excited to see the final product.
I’m a licensing guy. I love anything that’s tied into television and movies. They are doing a lot of stuff with characters like Conan, Red Sonja, Planet of the Apes, and other comic adaptations. I’m hoping that this is an ongoing trend, since I like working with licensed properties.
I want to write the comics I buy, so that I can contribute to the stories. I’m a traditional superhero guy, so I buy books like Spider-Man, Batman, and the Avengers. I buy entirely too many books from Marvel and DC, and I am hoping to write kid-friendly versions of their superhero characters.
And just because it’s a question every comic book creator should be asked, if you could be any super hero, who would you be?
The Flash. Dude, that guy has great superpowers. I’d never have to sit in traffic again!
If you haven’t picked up a copy of Richie Rich, be sure to ask your local comic shop to put one aside for you. And all of you aspiring artists are doing yourselves a disservice by not having Buddy’s collection of Comic Artists Photo Reference or Creating Comics From Start To Finish in your home library or ComicBookSchool.com bookmarked on your computer. It really takes a classy kind of guy to give his knowledge away to the next generation of creators and Buddy has proven himself to be that kind of guy.