World of Words: Time to talk creativity with Jimmy Pearson...

Jimmy Pearson is a graphic novelist, writer and illustrator. He is the author of several titles including, The Reckoning, Bayou Arcana: Songs of Loss and Redemption and British Showcase Anthology.

Thursday, 16th January 2014, 7:00 pm

He has several books out in 2014, including, The Heart of War and Cogs and Claws.

To those in the know, Jimmy’s rising star is definitely one to watch in the world of graphic novels..

In no more than 10 words, why did you become a writer?

Since day-one, I loved storytelling. Writing found me.

How do you come up with ideas?

Real life provides so many of its own mysteries – you don’t have to look far. The sort of horror/sci-fi/fantasy I play around with usually draws upon what has happened and is happening in the world we are all familiar with.

The scariest stuff arises from what we know are truths and then flips them on their heads. Historical events and scenarios also play a big role. Bayou Arcana, for example, is an observation of the years of the American civil rights fight that has a Southern Gothic fantasy twist.

The Heart of War is set both in Vietnam, 1968, during the war, and Manhattan, 1988, right at the height of Wall Street excess. It speaks of the horrors of armed conflict and the mercenary, predatory nature of global economics (that still resonate today), but, essentially, it’s a ‘vampires versus marines shoot-em-up’.

What was your first proper opportunity?

The first was meeting the extremely talented and exceptionally kind John Higgins (Watchmen, Razorjack), who whipped my material into a shape worthy enough to deliver to an artist.

Markosia getting behind Bayou Arcana was the next.

And that break came from seven years of seriously going along to comic conventions and just meeting people. It was funny, but I first thought I was going to break into the comicsindustry as an artist. In 2007, I pitched the idea for The Heart of War at the Birmingham International Comics Show as part of a writers competition and, that is what really got my foot in the door. I am extremely chuffed to see that story finally see the light of day.

What’s the worst thing about being a writer?

Being a writer, by its nature, is a lonely pursuit, and spending a lot of time within your own head comes with the territory. That is pretty much offset by the social opportunities that also come along with the turf. Writing today can be a really interactive pursuit. Just see all the good things springing up in Worthing.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Being a graphic novel writer in particular, seeing the process of words amazingly transform into images on the page via the efforts of some awesomely gifted and dedicated people is the biggest rush imaginable. The moment you see a script rendered into life is a bizarre and wonderful experience.

The creative outlet is something special, too.

When you find a medium and an audience for your ideas you can start sharing what is near and dear to you, I really cherish being able to do that.

What do you consider to be your single greatest achievement so far?

To date, I am pretty proud of all the material I have worked on. The artists and writers I have joined forces with share in any achievement as far as comics are concerned. I am extremely pleased with what we achieved on Bayou Arcana.

Can you name a book or story that changed your life?

There are a few books, comics and movies that changed my life as far as writing is concerned.

Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing was one of the comics I read at an early age that steered me in a creative direction, as did V for Vendetta and Watchmen. The visual sensibilities of movies like Alien and Blade Runner left a huge impact on me when I was a kid, and that comes through a little in my scripts.

The biggest influence on my life and writing is the great American comedian Bill Hicks. I hope to imbue the ethos of ‘entertain yet constantly provoke thought’ in virtually everything I create and do.

What do you think is the secret to being a good graphic novelist?

Imagination, vision and faith in that vision. It takes a lot to get published today. There are ways and means to self-publish, but having a publisher comes with its advantages. Go to conventions, talk to the professionals, listen and learn. If you have the talent and determination, you will get there. It will not be overnight, but, eventually, you will get noticed.

What do you like reading in your spare time? What are you reading at the moment?

I still love reading comics. I am a bit of a fan of The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, and have always been a sucker for sequential horror. As for my taste in novels... all over the place! Horror, science fiction, American crime fiction – they are the genres I usually frequent.

What are you goals for you future writing career?

To produce work of some kind of substance for as long as I possibly can. Writing this stuff is my dream job. Comics I feel pretty confident with, so I have been toying with both novels and movie scripts.

Diversity is a real aim. I’ll be doing a bit of travel next year and soaking up a bit of life experience. Writing from that experience is certainly on the cards and has always been a personal goal. Hitting the road and relying almost entirely on my creative output is a hugely scary prospect, but I think if it can be done, now is the time.

On a completely comic-nerd level, one major goal is to eventually do a superhero book.It was DC comics that first got me totally hooked, so at some point I would like to return to that world and do a heroes versus villians story. It would be sure to be dark, but it would be fun as well!