Finally, after resolving some WordPress issues, I am posting today’s Creator’s Spotlight on Robert Jeffrey of Terminus Media. Robert was kind enough to answers a few questions about his creative process and projects. Enjoy!
As it relates to your earliest memory as an artist, did Art choose you or did you choose Art? The Art of writing that is, explain. I’d have to say I gravitated towards writing, so maybe we chose each other? Middle of the road response, I know. As a kid, writing was my outlet to travel to faraway lands like the stories I found in library books or the TV. It was something that I had a lot of fun doing. It’s just something that I love.
Who or What were your earliest inspirations and present influences that that inspire your art/comics/writing? As far as early inspirations, I’d have to say Christopher Golden, Walter Dean Myers, Bruce Coville, Franklin Dixon, John Bellairs, Stephen King, Susan Cooper.
Presently, the list includes Dwayne McDuffie, Robert Kirkman, Greg Rucka, Stephen King (again, I know, lol), Octavia Butler, Tannarive Due, Brian Michael Bendis, Richard Wright, Nathan McCall, Joss Whedon, Geoffrey Thorne, Kurt Vonnegut and a host of others.
How important is it to study your art and how do you approach keeping your skills sharp? It’s essential. As with anything if you want to excel, practice makes perfect to use! Even if it’s just half an hour, it’s best that you do something to keep the creative juices flowing. Otherwise, your skills get stagnant. Also, read as much as possible and continue to learn about the craft of writing.
What are some books that are on your personal shelf? Greg Rucka’s Atticus Kodiak and ‘Queen & Country” novel series (in addition to all of the “Queen & Country” comic definitive editions), Vol’s 1-6 of Robert Kirkman’s “Ultimate Invincible” Edition’s, Peter David’s book on writing comics, “Batman: The Long Halloween”, “Prodigal: Egg of First Light”, “Parker/ Book One: The Hunter”, “The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury” & Joss Whedon’s “Fray”.
Are there any titles that you are currently reading? Dirk Manning’s “Write or Wrong”, John McGuire’s “The Dark That Follows”, Lion’s Forge “Knight Rider”, “Skull Kickers” and “American Gods”.
Give us a description of your Creative Lab or Studio where you work and how is the environment a co-creator or partner in ultimately what you create? I pretty much just do the ‘ole desk and computer deal. I try to have my digital tape recorder, notebook, and as many pens as I can nearby. I try to keep the area orderly as possible, but that’s never a guarantee. The bookshelf is above the desk, and I usually queue up my Pandora radio to my Jazz station.
As far as being a partner in helping me to create, it’s a really strong relationship. I usually try to keep things quiet, and as peaceful as I can, so I can concentrate on whatever I’m writing/ researching.
If Art can save the world, then that makes the Artist a Superhero; and every Hero needs theme music. Name the song or songs that you listen to for inspiration as you create? Ummm, some that come to mind, any John Williams/ Danny Elfman orchestral music. Power, Family Business, and Bring Me Down, by Kanye West, Hans Zimmer, any Latin Jazz I can find, and Zedd’s Zelda Remix. Kind of a mash up of different things.
What techniques & tools do you employ to bring ideas to life? Basically I try to clear my mind of clutter. When I first sit down to write, I find that I get stuck, for a minute or two. I usually get up, walk around, pester my wife until she says “Go back in the room and write.”, and sit back down at the computer. I don’t know what it is, but just getting over the first “hurdle” so to speak is something of a “thing”, but nothing to major. So clear my mind, walk it out (not the Dirty South dance, ) and get to writing.
How would you describe your writing style or artistic technique? Descriptive and natural. I find that being descriptive has worked well for me and my editors and artists seem to point out.
Once I have in mind a picture of what I’m trying to capture, and I do my best to relay that to whomever I’m working with. I don’t go for “It has to be this way or no way!”, but more like “this is what I’ve got in my head, let’s work together and make it as awesome as possible.”
Another thing that I’ve heard is that when I write dialogue, it sounds “natural”. Not saying that I’m at a Bendis like level when it comes capturing natural sounding dialogue, but I find that it helps to develop and hone an ear for dialogue.
In terms of personal projects, what is the Flagship creative project for your company and how did you come up with the idea for the concept?
Our company is Terminus Media. We publish creator owned comics, custom comics/animated projects for clients such as the Centers for Disease Control, international Japanese tire manufacturer Nitto Tires, and other clients. Our books have been nominated for Glyph Comics Awards (Route 3 and Radio Free Amerika), and our creators are some of the best in the business.
You can buy our books on Amazon (any Kindle reader) and Comics Plus (tablet, computer, smartphone/ I Phone). Check out all of our books including The Gilded Age, Radio Free Amerika and Route 3 which is our flagship project.
In terms of Route 3, as far back as middle school, I wanted to simply tell a story about a kid getting caught up in larger than life circumstances. At the core, a guy whose recently suffered a loss and how these world changing events help him grow beyond this tragedy. Also, I have a desire to see more multi-faceted characters of color, rather than seeing them shunted to either the sidekick status.
What are some of the most immediate/follow-up projects? Still working on Route 3, Radio Free Amerika and the Stealth web comic original graphic novel adaptation. In addition to handling client work like my scripting duties for an animated motion comic project, for the Centers for Disease Control. Freelancing wherever I can. I have a few other scripts that I’m working on which are fun, and will hopefully see the light of day sooner rather than later.
Talk about the difficulties of being an independent artist and the hurdles you’ve overcome to produce and publish your own works. Well as an independent writer working for a smaller publisher our biggest hurdle, at least that I see, is getting our work out in front of people. Basically you have to find ways to get folks to find you, and I think we’ve been successful in getting the word out. But you always want to do better, and reach more eyes. But I think that’s been a big thing that we’re getting closing to being able to better tackle.
What is your preferred medium for your stories; comic book, graphic novel, animation or movie? I’d always want to start first with doing the book as a limited/ mini comic series, collected into a graphic novel. An animated, straight to DVD movie would definitely work also, something in the vein of a DC animatWhat is your preferred medium for your stories; comic book, graphic novel, animation or movie?ed straight to DVD project.
Here’s a fun question. Name a mainstream project/character or an independent project and/or character that you’d love to work on or revamp and what would you do to put your twist on it? Heck, I’d looooveeeee to have a chance to play around in the worlds of both “Sliders” and “The 4400”! I’m a huge fan of underrated shows (ok, Sliders could get really goofy at times), but at their core I feel both there’s a lot that could be done with both properties.
“The 4400” is one of the best series to deal with the whole “everyday folks with extraordinary abilities” trope. With its backdrop of inter-dimensional travel, “Sliders” leaves the door wide open to endless possibilities of storytelling.
The other thing that I enjoy about comics, is that there are no restrictions. So just let me get a shot at both of these, and I’d have a helluva time telling a good yarn.
For the independent artist, how has technology affected the way you are able to do business or make progress on your art? Technology has allowed me to connect with other creative types, while also allowing me to seek out and find freelancing opportunities. It’s an awesome tool that should be put to use by anyone seeking to continue a career in writing, art, or whatever creative endeavor they’re pursuing. Between FB, Twitter, my own personal blog, and so forth, I’m able to stay abreast of trends within comics, keep in touch with fellow creators, and also meet and pow wow with fans of our work.
What are the conferences that are on your yearly schedule to attend? I’d have to say Dragon Con and OnyxCon. Really want to make New York Comic Con an annual one. Had my first experience there last year and loved it.
What advice do you give to aspiring artists of all mediums about the importance of events and how do you prepare to maximize your potential at these fairs? Network, network, network. The best thing about attending conventions is that it allows you a chance to meet professionals who are doing what you want to do for a living. If they’re open to it, mine them for as much information as you can, without seeming obnoxious, lol.
Most folks, including myself, will be willing to answer any questions you might have about getting started, building your own skills, etc. I know from experience, because I find myself working the floor, and just meeting different creators.
Whether it’s taking your portfolio for a review to an artist, or, for a writer, taking a completed work to a prospective employer/ publisher, try to be as professional as possible. Remember, you’re trying to get beyond the fanboy status.
Where people can see your creativity and how people can get in contact with you for commissions and/or to follow your work?
You can find more information about me and my work at:
What impact would you like your art to make on the world? Basically I’d like folks to just enjoy my work, and have it get them through a lazy Sunday at home.
What are your favorite quotes or philosophies of life that help you improve as a person or artist? My favorite from Mark Twain: Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
Is there anything else that you want the readers to know, feel free to elaborate? Just thanks for giving my work a shot, and I hope you enjoy it. I’ve been blessed to do what I love professionally, and I’m going to keep it rolling for as long as I can.
Thanks for the opportunity to do this interview, and you are doing solid work with this column.
Thank you Robert, I appreciate your time and continued success!
If you are an artist, writer, creator etc and you wouldn’t mind an interview, make sure you contact me at email@example.com with the subject line: Interview Inquiry.
Until Next Time!
Peace, Power & Prosperity!
& Stay Creative!