Saturday, 22 January 2011
Dancing With Myself: MICHAEL MORECI interviews MICHAEL MORECI
Now, tell me, Thomas—
Oh, right. Of course. So you are a…
Writer. Did you do any research before this interview?
I see here that you work in a couple different mediums. What attracts you to working in such a way?
I love all mediums, whether it’s comics, prose, video games, movies, or animation. But my main passion lies in simply being a storyteller. It’s always nebulous and difficult to talk about the mysterious “where do you get your ideas from” aspect of artistic creation, but I generally start any story with a concept. I unravel the story from there, and allow it to take me where it needs to go.
Granted, I work primarily in comics, and there are a few reasons for that. For starters, I grew up on comics and movies—visual storytelling has instructed not only how I form my art, but also how I interact with the world. I also love the dynamic within a creative team, that collaborative process of a few people working to make something unique. Not only that, but comics allows you to really burst ideas without limit—sci-fi, horror, super hero, you can do anything so long as you do it well.
But, like I said, my responsibility is always to the story. For instance, the prose short story I have forthcoming in Needle, titled “Anonymity”, I couldn’t tell as a comic. It relies much too heavily on the interiority of the main character—there’s a psychological subtlety that couldn’t be conveyed visually. But for something like Terminus, a graphic novel I’m working on with artist JM Ringuet, the visual component is as much a part of the story as, say, the dialogue or plot.
Do you find it difficult to transition between prose and comics writing?
No, not really. The main difficulty I have is finding time—my eyes are always bigger than my appetite when it comes to work. There are so many projects I have in mind, in need of attention. The thing is, though, as an independent comics creator, my role extends well beyond being a writer. By necessity, I’m my own agent and publicist—that’s the transition I find challenging.
What made you want to be a writer?
I don’t know for sure. I remember being a kid and drawing Simpsons comics, back in the 6th grade or so, and selling them at school (unfortunately my art is still at that level). Some of my fondest memories involve comics, movies, and books. It’s always been in me to tell stories—it’s ingrained in who I am.
Are comics going the way of the dodo bird?
Not at all. Look, comics are going through a difficult period right now. Sales aren’t great, the market is shifting, and the evolution of digital technologies is filling a lot of people with anxiety. There’s a lot of talk about how to fix comics, and who/what’s to blame for the industry’s failings. It’s odd, though, because in 2010, sales were down, but it was an excellent year for comics, content-wise.
One of the main hurdles the comics industry needs to solve is how to overcome the perception, real or otherwise, that the culture is a closed circuit. You can casually read books, or casually watch movies; you really can’t be a casual comics reader (or at least the reader the direct market wants you to be). The industry relies too heavily on a certain type of comics, and there’s just too much history, continuity, crossovers, etc. to unpack. I’ve been reading comics most my life, and even I get confused sometimes.
No one is to blame here, not the publishers, creators, or fans. It’s systemic to the industry, and the burden is on all of us to find ways to foster a wider range of creativity that brings people in. Graphic novels and limited series are playing a big part in this shift. Publishers like Image and Archaia do an excellent job of allowing creators to tell their own unique stories, and more of that is needed (and bigger sales).
Expanding creative boundaries (and market boundaries) will only make the industry stronger and more diverse; comics need to attract new readers, I don’t think anyone can argue that. And if the industry is healthier, everyone wins—publishers, retailers, fans, and creators. I just don’t buy the thinking that the way to fix comics is to keep churning out the same content in the same format. Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Look no further than the thinking that says, “let’s stick to what hasn’t been working and see what happens.”
What do you hope to achieve, ultimately, as a writer?
Short answer: fame, fortune, and the ability to buy my way out of anything.
Beyond that…creative freedom. I want to be able to tell the stories I want to tell. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m implacable and can’t take editorial guidance or input—far from it. Nor does it mean I’m uninterested in writing a big-name comics property. I’d kill to write certain Marvel and DC characters and stories. But I’d like to maintain a sense of versatility and push boundaries in both story and art. I see what JM Ringuet and I are doing with Terminus and, not to toot my own horn, but I think it’s pretty special and I never want to abandon that.
I see someone like Greg Rucka and I think, yes, that’s where I’d like to be. Last year, he wrote Batman, released a novel, and launched an amazing mini-series, Stumptown, with Oni Press. I’d like to have the freedom to tell such a range of stories—and have people want me to tell them.
What’s the key to success as a writer?
Work. Work really hard, for a really long time, and you’ll get there.
I once had a writing teacher tell me that the secret is simple: just wear everyone else out. And he’s right. I’m not going to lie, I’ve seen friends and peers who are more talented than me fall to the wayside. They lose their work ethic, their drive, then everything is gone. Forget all that nonsense about writing when the muse whispers in your ear: if you want to earn a living as a writer, you need to treat it as a job. Somerset Maugham said “I write when inspiration strikes; fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine a.m. sharp.” That’s the necessary attitude.
There are so many comics, movies, and books that have sparked my creativity over the years that it’s hard to name them without leaving out far too many.
What I really tend to admire are the artists who stick to their guns and fight to maintain their artistic credibility. Stanley Kubrick is a brilliant mind I admire, greatly. I can literally go on for hours discussing the painstaking beauty that is inherent in each of his films, not to mention the genius. He never allowed himself to be swayed, nor did he ever, ever play it safe. Same goes for Alan Moore.
I also look up to “big idea” writers—Brian Wood, Brian K. Vaughn, Jonathan Hickman. Comics is a blessed medium in that it knows no boundaries, creative or otherwise. Comics readers are the most risk-taking out there, in that they’ll support the most off-the-wall concepts and stories. Things that, as a movie or TV show, would send people running in the other direction.
You have a pretty full dance cart for 2011. What’s on tap?
Lots. It’s weird, because so many things are happening at once even though the work stretches back for years.
First up is Hoax Hunters, a continuing series written by Steve Seeley and I and illustrated by JM Ringuet. It’s going to run backup, monthly (starting February 9), in the pages of Hack/Slash, a comic that I’m crazy about. To have my work actually appear in that book—and with Image—is exciting, gratifying, and completely surreal. I’ve been an Image reader since day one; in fact, one of my first original comic creations was a character called M.I.A., who was a direct rip-off of Deathblow (originally from Darker Image). Only M.I.A. had a knife for hand—take that Deathblow.
After Hoax Hunters is Quarantined, an original graphic novel with art by Monty Borror. It’s a zombie story that I promise is different from the zombie pack.
I’ve got some other projects in works as well, namely Reincar(Nate) and Terminus. I also am going back to the developing board and will get some new projects off the ground in the coming months.
When are you going to write a novel?
One day—it’s a promise I’ve made to myself.
If you weren’t writing you’d…
Likely turn to a life of petty crime. Or basketball hustling, like in the movie White Men Can’t Jump. I’ve got the part down where no one in their right mind would think I’m any good. Proving them wrong…that’s the part I need to work on.
Thanks for taking the time. I hope you don’t mind me saying, but this has been one handsome interview.
It sure has been.