Name: Steve Colle
Type of Creator: Editor, Writer
List your work:
As a writer:
- Creator/writer of KNIGHT & DEY for The Other Side Productions
- Writer of the short comic story “The Rounds”, published by Comixtribe in the SCAMthology/SCAM Ultimate Collection
- BREAKING THE PAGE column on sequential art techniques for comics with Comixtribe at http://www.comixtribe.com/category/breaking-the-comics-page/
- BREAKING THE COMIC PAGE reference book (in progress)
As an editor:
- Editor-in-Chief of The Other Side Productions (1993-94)
- Consulting Editor for A MONK’S TALE and SHORT TERM KONSEQUENCES for Calgary-based Konsequential Studios
- Senior Editor for Comixtribe
- Editor of SCAM, THE RED TEN, and primary editor of SCAMthology/SCAM Ultimate Collection
- Co-editor of numerous scripts submitted to THE PROVING GROUNDS column with Steven Forbes at http://www.comixtribe.com/category/the-proving-grounds/
- Involved in review and selection of submissions for consideration/publication
- Freelance Editor with my business of EDITOR’S EYE VIEW Freelance Services, serving an international clientele of comic creators and self-/small press publishers
What was the first comic you read?
In 1977, at the age of 9 and while I was in the Montreal Children’s Hospital, my mother brought me a comic book, knowing I loved shows like the Super Friends. That comic, of which I recently bought a copy and have framed in my office, was Black Lightning #2 by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden. I had already been drawing ‘paper dolls’ (for lack of a better term) of TV characters because we couldn’t afford action figures, but seeing this comic sparked a desire in me and a love for the medium. Reading it now, there is a lot of cliché – especially in the dialogue – but that was the way things were back then.
What inspired you to make comics? A specific story? Writer? Author?
That Black Lightning comic was what created the inciting incident in my life story as a comic creator and, eventually, in my role as an editor. Throughout my youth, I wanted to work in the industry. It started as my wanting to be a colorist, where the B/W French versions of Marvel Comics were available in Quebec. Then I wanted to be an inker, where I was tracing over pictures I had. I loved to draw as a teenager, but my talent was in taking an existing picture and free-handing it, making it larger, and most times adding it into new designs. Then I realized that I had been creating stories ever since I was a kid with the ‘paper dolls’. The person who motivated me to write was my Composition teacher in Grade 7, who gave me a perfect mark on a short play I had written. I still have it. Taking it into the visual medium of comics seemed like a natural progression for me, as I much prefer film and graphic novels to prose.
What do you like about comics? What is it about them that interests you? Inspires you? Moves you?
I love the combination of text and art. Comics are the perfect middle point between film and prose: you aren’t being spoon fed the information as most film and television does through motion and auditory dialogue – leaving less room for interpretation – and yet fills in some of the blanks that prose doesn’t provide by giving you a visual interpretation of setting, character, situation, and so on.
The other thing I love about comics is the control the reader has as to pace. You can read an image, text, and/or page and have the control to stay on it, revisit it, or stop and go as you please. If you want to study the nuances of the visual technique of an image, interpret why the artist designed the page the way they did, or concentrate on the cool components used to express the story, that is controlled by the reader. It’s an art-form and my goal has always been to teach creators (and readers, for that matter) how to really appreciate the techniques and deliberate creativity that goes into the process. It really is a collaboration of word and art, whether you’re working as a team or doing everything yourself.
What is the most important thing people need to know about comics?
Comics are for everyone. When you see the influence comics have had on our world – as stories translated to film or used in industry and professional development (medical reference using the medium to teach, for example) – you can better appreciate the role it has in our global culture. The stereotype still exists and I think it always will, but the ratio of readers to non-readers has shifted substantially over the years. I remember back in college – when I worked in a comic shop – how we had a teacher come to our store to look for comics to use in her class, with The Dark Knight Returns being the one she chose. The fact her department heads allowed her to use the material was groundbreaking. Now it’s the norm. That says something about what we are doing as creators in this medium.
What comic would you recommend to a first-time reader?
It would entirely depend upon who the reader was. If it was a teenager, I’d try to determine what they like. If it was a movie lover, I’d ask what properties they are attracted to. If it was an intellectual, what appeals to them – such as history, philosophy, etc. And if it were a person looking for story vs. high action (or vice versa), I’d ask what they look for in genre, character, and so on. There are no one or two books that I’d recommend. I know I have ones in my personal collection that have survived the gutting of my comic inventory over the years, but they aren’t for everyone.
Pen or Keyboard?
As a writer, both. Ideas come out of me so quickly sometimes that a notepad, clipboard with loose-leaf, or scrap of paper has to be on hand. Final work is done on the computer, but notes are on paper. I’ve actually started using the Voice Memos and Notes apps on my phone a lot more lately in this regard.
As an editor, I like to print things out when it comes to scripts and visuals, as I find it easier to have the paper in hand. However, all edits are done on the computer.
As an aside, quite often the editing process will take on a completely different form: phone or Skype calls with the creator(s). I prefer this method as it is the most immediate and – because editing is meant to be a collaboration between editor and creator – brainstorming is key to the process in some cases. Also, writing dialogue when it is spoken aloud allows for a better understanding of sound to the ear (character, diction, syntax, slang, and sound effect) as well as ensuring intention and meaning in what is being said.
What’s the first thing you do when you sit down to work? Do you have a routine?
Multiple drinks around me. Unless I have a jug or fridge near me, I prepare both hot and cold drinks to have nearby. Keeping myself hydrated is important.
I also have music playing at all times. If I’m editing, I either listen to trance or ambient music on my computer, depending upon my mood. If I’m writing, I choose music that best serves as inspiration. Song lyrics often bring about great ideas for plot and character. Aerosmith’s “Livin’ On The Edge” brought out a great concept for title and story for me, and “Domino” by Genesis is something that gets me air drumming and screaming out lyrics when I’m writing something with more action and intensity. I have such a wide range of musical tastes that I change back and forth from, so inspiration is a constant.
Do you have a set work space? Where?
My office at home is great. Working from home can be hard with distractions, but my workspace has what I need – except a door to close! The landing at the bottom of the basement stairs in our townhome is a small room unto itself separate from the balance of the basement. Lighting is more casual without windows, but I’m lucky enough to have an artificial sunlight lamp now which really makes a difference. I’m always reaching for office supplies, so everything is at hand. I also tend to use my whiteboard for brainstorming and corkboards to put copies of artwork, especially for page sequences and cover designs.
Distractions. They are bound to happen, especially working from home. Also, when my family is home, the goal is to spend time with them, which takes time away from work and creativity. Good and bad.
If you had to pick one comic as a favourite, what would it be?
Can’t answer this. There are too many ‘favourites’ to choose from! V for Vendetta, The Killing Joke, Watchmen (see a trend?), Cinder & Ashe, Kingdom Come, and so many others. That’s like asking what my favourite movie is: can’t choose just one.
Who is your favourite comic character?
Without a doubt: Captain America. Not the Hydra-version, but the classic that existed over decades, the version represented in the Captain America films. A leader who is passionate, determined, and has strong morals and values in which he tries to live his life. He is the character who best defines who I try to be.
What is the natural talent you’d like to be gifted with and why?
Ultimately, I’m happy with who I am. I think at this point that learned skills are the direction I would like to take as my foundation is strong
What three words would you use to describe your work?
Collaborative, Imaginative, and Innovative.
Future projects you are working on/would like to work on
As an editor, instructor, and consultant, I am working to develop classes and workshops outside of established educational institutions for comic creators and editors, with a planned course on The Art of Comic Book Editing in the works. For the editing course, the goal is to instruct aspiring editors, editors who currently work in other media, and self- and small press publishers to learn and understand the role, knowledge, and techniques used in this industry. I am also planning a writers group for graphic novelists and a combination professional & peer portfolio review sessions for sequential artists.
As a writer, I’d like to dedicate more time to writing comic scripts and expanding into film and television. My plan is to also continue writing the reference book I started that is based off of the classes I have taught and continue to teach.