Troy Brownfield, writer of the Blood Queen series for Dynamite among other works did a r/comicbooks AMA the other day and we have some of the highlights.
The first thing I would ask is: What do you typically like to read? I've done a lot of work in a lot of genres (a Batman 80 page giant story with Matt Brady, the Buck Rogers annual, Blood Queen, Prince Dracula, the Zenescope stuff, Sparkshooter, etc.), so I would try to find out what types of things you enjoy and steer you in that direction FIRST.
If there's an ongoing thing that I try to do, where it's dark fantasy or comedy, etc., it's that I try to put together whole and believable characters first, and then give them as many interesting things to do as I can, whether that's action, intrigue, etc. I've been told that I have good dialogue and good action scenes, and I'm happy to take those compliments. Mainly, I try to make things that I as a reader would want to read myself.
The Blood Queen blends history, fantasy and horror perfectly! How did the concept for this book get off the ground?
When my Prince Dracula novel was first being developed at Dynamite, editor Hannah Gorfinkel (now) Elder told me that editor Molly Mahan was kicking around a concept that might be a good fit. Molly and I talked and a basic idea was there, so I took a swing with a big proposal of how I might tackle the Elizabeth Bathory story within a high fantasy context. They were supportive and enthusiastic about my take. I'd say nearly everything in the first four or five issues was in my initial conception, while elements of the Annual and the later issues took more shape as I got into the work.
We all know you are staying busy with comics of both the print and web variety, so I'm curious just how different writing for an online comic is from writing periodicals. Is there something shockingly similar or intriguingly different? Let us see behind the curtain! Thanks for doing this. I'm off to get my Blood Queen #6!
You're welcome, and thank YOU for picking up Blood Queen.
The main difference between the webcomic and the monthly book . . . good one. The webcomics are both ostensibly comedies. So, to me, it's important to land a joke on each page. With, say, 20 pages to work with that is immediately released together, you might pace that out differently. For Sparkshooter, I know that I want one central gag to hit for every page; if too many pages went by without something funny (or, very occasionally, shocking or dramatic),then the momentum would crumble and people wouldn't care about coming back the next week. Granted, we plan to collect the "chapters" of Sparkshooter and Solo into "issues" eventually, but they were designed to give a complete "issue" from the beginning too.
Oh, hey, I remember checking out Blood Queen until I stopped at issue 3. Why should I continue reading it?
Because it keeps getting bigger and more intense. Four begins the build up to war. Five focuses on Elizabeth, Helena and Sara on a mission that gets dark faster than you might expect. The Annual is action-packed and fills in a lot of backstory while keeping everything moving. And #6 goes for the throat.
If I may be so bold as to ask a second question… With your history of reviews and the obvious fact that you are a fan of the comic book medium yourself, what comics or graphic novels have you been enjoying? What should we read after we are all caught up with your work? Thanks again!
How long have you got? Let's start with Dynamite: Vampirella, the Gold Key books, Jerwa on Bionic Woman, Red Sonja, the Chaos stuff . . . there's a lot of entertaining books from Nick and crew right now. I read The Walking Dead, Saga, Invincible, and Alex + Ada regularly; Alex + Ada is co-written by my friend, former student and original Sparkshooter artist Sarah Vaughn. Get that book. And I read a fair amount of things from Marvel and Dark Horse, too. Pat Shand's Robyn Hood. More.
In addition to comics work, you also write prose. Is there a big leap between writing for these two different of mediums? Are there any major challenges you experience going between the two?
Great question! You're right in that there are big differences between the two, but I have the same general concerns for both. I like to have a direction established but allow for new things that might occur along the way. I like to have character goals in mind, etc. Those bits are entirely similar. I'm used to switching gears between prose and journalism and script writing; I came up that way through my education, etc., so that part is actually part of the fun for me. The major challenge to me is that prose requires so much more of a setting of the scene and environmental description than comics scripting does. Consider how much weight the artist bears in terms of look, atmosphere, etc. As a prose writer, that burden in turn falls on you to create those images in the mind of the reader. That's probably the biggest hurdle you have to reacquaint yourself with when moving between the two.
So, you started on the comic journalism side, scrawling thoughts about books and the industry, and then moved to the comic books themselves, right? How was the transition? Did babbling out reviews help you schmooze your way into the comic book writing door or did you find some other avenue into the medium?
Having a presence on the journalism side certainly helps, because you meet people and make connections. And I did it for a long time in newspapers, magazines and online. Not just reviews, but feature stories, interviews, movie set visits, etc. I did some early versions of webcomics around 2000. About 2006, I pitched a story to Midnight Show, which led to me getting invited to be the Associate Editor for the Fangoria Comics line. In 2010, Raven Gregory asked me to pitch him a story that became the Tales from Wonderland White Knight issue. Everything builds. You don't get to do the work that people see without an awful lot of hard work on your own. In terms of Dynamite, I covered the Dynamite beat for Newsarama for several years before deciding to pitch a story with Matt in 2010. Nick thought it was interesting but wasn't sure but he liked our inventiveness, so he offered us the Buck Rogers annual instead. That was my first work for Dynamite. Again, everything builds on everything. You have to do a lot to get to anything else.
So what's next for you Troy? Now that Blood Queen has wrapped and Prince Dracula is out in the world!
It's fair to say that you might expect something new from me from Dynamite. It's also fair to say that I have a couple of things happening elsewhere that I also can't discuss yet. Sparkshooter wraps Chapter 4 in a couple of weeks and heads right into Chapter 5, and Solo is deep into Chapter 2.
As for Prince Dracula, I would love to do a second book following up on threads that we put down in the first one. I'm definitely planning more prose, too, including a prose collaboration with Matt Brady.
For more on Blood Queen, you can click here.