Vince Hernandez, editor-in-chief at Aspen Comics, consistently posts good advice for creators but also for just being a good person, I think. I’ve enjoyed reading what he has to say long before we started this blog. He’s an encouraging “voice” when you need to hear one. So, listen up. -Bill
What inspires you to create and keeps you going? I have an inner drive to always want to get better, while I realize that sounds cliché, I can’t help it. Plus, the fact that I get to create and write stories about things that interest me is a huge bonus. I find it easy to keep going.
Do you have a set routine? Yeah, I’ve worked long enough in this industry to integrate most of my writing and creating work within the confines of my day job. Once I finish up my work for the day, I tend to call it quits and just relax. All-nighters have never been a big thing for me. I think sacrificing an entire week to pull one night of hard work never felt like a productive strategy. I prefer a more rigid schedule on a continual basis, not short bursts of productivity.
What kind of output do you try to achieve? With the aforementioned answer, it forces me to really focus on working hard within the time I have during the day. I tend to think if you have to sacrifice all of your free time to do something, you’re not planning well enough.
What inspires you WHEN you create? Music? Noise? Silence? Personally, I prefer silence, but the occasional song or background noise doesn’t affect me either. I’m think I’m fairly accommodating when writing with outside distractions but don’t rely on many as I write.
Who was the first comic book creator that influenced you to pursue this? I can’t point to a specific person that inspired me as a catalyst, but Michael Turner, Frank Mastromauro, and Peter Steigerwald were the first three colleagues to believe in me enough to offer me a chance to write comics. Since then, it’s been the fans that keep me going.
When did you realize you could follow this path yourself? I sort of fell into working for comics when I was a teenager, but after several years I sort of conceitedly realized that I could definitely write stories just as well— if not better— than some of the colleagues I had worked with. Writing has always been something I feel I can do extremely well, I suppose. But, I would say those early pros I encountered made me say: “Hey—I can do this, too!”
What do you find to be a challenge in creating? Honestly, I think the balance between creating something that is sellable to the comic market and something that I WANT to create can be maddening. I’ve been blessed to have a large amount of creative control over what I create, but I constantly have to temper what I write through the lens of what I know sells.
What else do you have to learn? You should really strive to learn everything your chosen craft offers while also continually learning along the way.
What keeps you motivated to get better? My personal goals, financial responsibilities, and the mindset that I want to build a lasting legacy with the body of work that I create, it keeps me plenty motivated.
Can you turn your brain (creativity) off (and on)? I think to an extent, yes, you can turn your brain off at times in regards to your work, but your life experiences will invariably keep inserting different perspectives and ideas for what you ultimately create. Your life experiences form a fabric that is the basis for everything you do, in my opinion.
What advice do you have for aspiring creators? Never give up, never stop learning, and never stop striving to be a better creator. There’s about a thousand other elements in between the lines, but those are the broad strokes.
Do you ever worry about running out of ideas? No, only running out of time.
How do you handle the slow times? I’m a comic book editor as well as a full-time writer—what are slow times? J
How do you feel about the industry? I’m not a huge fan of a lot of the elitism, cronyism and rampant misdirection this industry serves up on a regular basis. I think at its core, the comic industry is flawed in ways that a lot of regular fans might not realize or understand, and maybe even contribute to. Of course, I’m not pointing fingers at them, but there’s also a reason why the same crop of titles and gimmicks seem to always pop up, and it starts with what people continue to buy versus what they say they want.
What would you say is your crowning achievement thus far? The fact that I’ve created nearly five completely fleshed out properties with Charismagic, Damsels in Excess, Dellec, Psycho Bonkers and Trish Out of Water, that were all positively received. A lot of creators barely manage to create one property that stands the test of time, or let alone more than a handful of issues before the fall off. I’ve been blessed to see my creations through to the end…or is it? 😉