Chuck Dixon is one of the most prolific writers in comic books doing everything from Batman to G.I. Joe and graciously agreed to share his thoughts on comics and writing in general.
Q) What made you want to be a writer of comics? Was there a specific run or issue
that made you realize the story telling power of the medium?
I don’t do anything else well.
I was drawn to the medium of comics because when I was a kid comics were everywhere and I became fascinated with
how a series of static pictures could be strung together in a variety of way to tell a story.
Q) You have been involved in many seminal storylines and gave definition to some characters that laid the ground work for years of story lines. Do you have have a favorite story line or an issue that you worked on that you are very proud of?
The ‘Nam #66.
Q) While there is a fairly straight forward process to getting work as an artist in the comics field the road to being a writer seems murky at best some times. Do you have any advice for getting your foot in the door with a publisher?
First become either a best-selling author or write a television show with a cult following. Then not only will editors notice you but you’ll have enough money to afford to write comic books.
Q) You have worked with some characters like batman or GI Joe that have been around for a long time as well as working with new companies like CrossGen. Which do you prefer and which is more challenging?
Both have their challenges. With new properties you have to create a whole new, engaging world to attract readers and keep them coming back. And you have to get the word out as well to draw in an audience. With classics like Batman et al, you have to work really hard not to screw it up.
Q) You have worked with some great artists over the years, do you have any secrets for getting the most from an artist? Do you change how you write scripts based on who you are working with?
I absolutely tailor my scripts for the artist. You want them to enjoy the story and to allow them to show their best stuff. Some artists are strong with characters so you want to include a lot of “acting” in the script. Then you have artists who just so darned good at things like weather or architecture or mechanical stuff that you want them to go crazy and, in the end, make you look like a genius.
And, in a lot of cases, the most important aspect is how good a storyteller is the artist? Scott Beatty and I went back and re-wrote Robin Year One when we saw how strong Javier Pulido’s storytelling talents were. We trimmed dialogue and added more
Q) On your current run on GI Joe you have shook some thing up in the GI Joe universe? What inspired you to take a different slant on GI Joe and especially their conflict with cobra?
I don’t see that I did anything that drastic. When the franchise was created, Larry Hama had to reveal both the Joes
and COBRA simultaneously because the characters and vehicles were tied to the release dates of the toys. He did this brilliantly and the comic is not only a masterful piece of epic storytelling but is also much better than any toy
tie-in comic deserves to be. He raised the bar on a thankless sub-genre of comics. But now that Snake Eyes and the Baroness and all the rest are established and be-loved characters I was afforded the luxury of rolling out the new series in a way that makes more dramatic sense. I was freed of the restrictions Larry had to cope with and that’s the biggest difference.
Q) You have gotten to work with a lot of the best toys in the comic book toybox is there any character you haven’t handled that you would like to someday?
The Fantastic Four, the Lone Ranger and the Jetsons.
Final four (questions we ask all interviewees)
When the zombies take over the world where will you be?
Directing the defense of my housing development (surrounded by a perfect natural moat of marshes) through maximum firepower.
Jedi, Ninja, vampire, were-wolf, pirate, fairy or Spartan?
Pirate. It’s as close to freelancing as you’ll find in fiction.
What one piece of art, be it music, book, film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?
Give one fact that most people would not believe about you?
I was born without a face