My friend Kristina Krengel interviewed me for an assignment in her graphic novel class. (Pause. How awesome is it that "graphic novel class" exists?) Since you're here and I'm here, I thought I'd share what I shared. Some of these anecdotes have been posted before. Am I turning into that guy who shares the same stories over and over?

When did you begin reading comics/graphic novels and why?  I know I've talked to you about it helping with dyslexia (I've used that as a pro with my reading teachers before.  Thanks.), but was that why you began to read them or just a positive byproduct?

I began reading comics when I was about nine years old. I have dyslexia, but I wasn’t diagnosed until I was an adult. All I knew as a kid was that I had a hard time reading, and I got held back in elementary school because of my grades. Then I discovered comic books, mostly Marvel Comics -- X-MEN, POWER PACK, CLOAK AND DAGGER, X-FACTOR, and NEW MUTANTS. And something clicked. Of course, now I know word balloons group the text in a way that makes it easier for someone with dyslexia. And the illustrations reinforce the words, working in harmony, so that the reading experience is at a more “natural pace” and can be enjoyed. It helped that the stories were wonderfully dramatic, heartbreaking, funny, surprising, and a little crazy. I never missed an issue. It was the fun, expansive universe that I was able to engage in.

What are your favorite types of comics & GN?  Why?  Do you have a favorite artist or author?

It may sound like I'm cheating to say I love all comics, but I really do. I love mainstream, small press, and independent comics. I love a wide variety of genres. I love Japanese comics (manga) and European comics. Wherever there's a good story, I want to read it. I have a few favorite creators. Right now, I'd say my favorite is Naoki Urasawa. He's one of the most talented storytellers we've ever seen. MONSTER, PLUTO, 20THE CENTURY BOYS -- he crafts these amazingly dense, epic heartfelt stories. His comics are as engaging as anything you'd see on HBO, A&E, or Showtime. I also like Rutu Modan. She's an Israeli illustrator and comic book artist. Urasawa tells big, often loud, stories. Modan's work is much softer and more tender, but her stories will just destroy you. From the U.S., Will Eisner, who passed away in 2005, is my Twain, my Hemingway, my Fitzgerald. His work and his name should be right up there with those authors. He created some of the greatest literature I've ever read, and yet you won't see his name spoken with the same veneration.

I know you helped build a larger GN section in Martin's library while you were there.  Why did you want to do this?  Was it easy to get support or not?  How was the circulation of the section?

Librarians are amazing people. I've never met a librarian who wouldn't move heaven and hell to get you a book. And when I gave Martin's librarian a list of comics/graphic novels that the students would enjoy (and it was a long list), she ordered every single one. It's the most popular section of the school library. I know people bemoan that these comic book kids are no longer reading "real novels," but these kids are actually the ones who are more likely to read novels. They're not the problem; they are our future. It's the kids who never set foot in the library that we should worry about. They don't think there's anything in there for them. And I guarantee we could find a comic book they would love.

Why did you decide to start writing GN? 

I always wanted to be a writer. I've dabbled with fiction and non-fiction, essays and short stories. I've written for magazines and websites. And I knew I'd eventually stumble into comics when the opportunity was there. Twelve years ago, I wrote a one-act play for my friend who had a theater troupe. I had about a week to write it. The experience was a trial-by-fire for scriptwriting. The day after opening night, I started writing my first comic. Writing is about momentum, and one experience led me to another.

How did you go about writing (the short version) your graphic novels? How many have you written?

I've written five major works -- KARMA INCORPORATED, EMILY EDISON, ASTRONAUT DAD, WE'VE NEVER MET, and an adaptation of ANTIGONE. I've written twice as many graphic novels (mostly treatments and some full scripts) that have never seen publication. I've had 18 smaller comic book projects published in various formats.

The writing process is different for each comic book/graphic novel. It largely depends on the type of story I write. (Once again, I dabble in different genres. Each story takes a different shape and a different approach.) It also depends on the artist I work with. I try to tailor our collaboration to his or her own preferences and abilities. For instance, Paul Milligan and I largely co-wrote our graphic novel project. With Brock Rizy, our graphic novel was a lot of creative back and forth. On WE'VE NEVER MET, Chad Thomas had ideas that I injected into the work, but it was mostly me passing the finished scripts to him. I wrote ASTRONAUT DAD several years before I found an artist. It all starts with me and a notepad. I brainstorm ideas, jot down a loose outline. I then type a four page synopsis, which I reference when I type the script.


As a mentioned last week on this blog, after a five month unplanned hiatus, I need to reevaluate how I can "sustain momentum" as a comic book writer (i.e. no more nervous breakdowns and still keep writing). Find balance in my life, family, teaching, and comics. Thus, I need to prioritize, focus, and cut down my work load. No more working on seven projects at a time. I'm going for a leaner, smarter David Hopkins as writer. The plan. I've divided my writing work into five categories:

1. Completed projects: stuff I've already written (and maybe it's completely art'd), and it just needs to be published 2. Ongoing projects: stuff I'm currently writing and/or it's in the process of being published 3. New projects: stuff I haven't written yet, but I'm planning to work on 4. Abandoned projects: the graveyard of rejected proposals and unfinished projects 5. Loose ends: small bits of writing I've promised to people

As far as completed projects, I need to renew my efforts to find a home for ASTRONAUT DAD and HOW TO LOSE BIG. In regards to ASTRONAUT DAD, it's frustrating for a beautiful 160 page graphic novel to be completely finished and yet unread. Also, HOW TO LOSE BIG is such a great story. The proposal looks great. We just need to find it a home.

With ongoing projects, I'm focusing all my energy on WE'VE NEVER MET, which resides on the back inside page of the free weekly entertainment newspaper Quick. On a professional and creative level, it's everything I could ever hope for. It's consistent, paying work where I get to develop a continuity and collaborate with a talented artist. We have a massive local readership (Quick reaches more than 90,000 per week), and the potential for a huge fanbase. Story wise, I love the slice-of-life feel of WE'VE NEVER MET. It's a story about a person's life, an adventure in searching for meaningful relationships and pursuing artistic goals. It doesn't have to be a "gag comic" nor does it need super heroes, monsters, robots, zombies, pirates, or ninjas. Although, it does have one hobo.

ANNOUNCEMENT #1: As of this month, WE'VE NEVER MET is now weekly. It's no longer on an every other week cycle. This will give us a much better opportunity to build our audience. That's 52 pages every year. Unfortunately, it does end the regular appearance of LISTOONS (click here), created by my friends Geoff and Cal, with whom we alternated on that back page. LISTOONS isn't gone. There should be periodic appearances elsewhere in the pages of Quick.

In the next few weeks, Liz (our protagonist) will be in the studio recording an EP. We will introduce a new character, Lindsay Graham from Junius Recording Co. Liz's last name will finally be revealed, as well as the band's name. Exclusive preview: The band name is Inklings.

ANNOUNCEMENT #2: Speaking of Inklings, music producer Lindsay Graham and I are entering the bold terrain of fictitious bands -- Gorillaz, Josie & the Pussycats, Partridge Family, Monkees, The Oneders, etc. We're still in the early stages of everything, but you can expect to actually hear Liz's band. You'll be able to buy the album, proudly wear an Inklings t-shirt, request them on KXT, or vote for them in the Observer Music Awards. Who knows where it will all lead? I'm proud to be working with Lindsay, and I can already tell this is going to be an exciting experiment.

Inklings are my new favorite band.

But first, Liz has to write some more songs (below: a preview of the October 14th comic).

My other goal in the "ongoing projects" category, unrelated to WE'VE NEVER MET, is to try to write at least two features for D Magazine every year. And guess what?

ANNOUNCEMENT #3: I just signed a contract for my first magazine feature (2,000 words). I don't want to go into any further details. Let's wait until the story is sent to my editor, and then off to the printers.

With new projects (and this is a difficult issue), I'm going to work on only one new graphic novel proposal at a time. Jamar Nicholas and I have our BULLETPROOF WEST project. That's the one. Nothing else until that's complete. I know I've mentioned this idea before, but it's new because all we have is a plot outline and some characters. I'll have more details soon.

With abandoned projects, unfortunately, there are too many to name: FRONTIER, BOLIVAR, OMISOKA BRIDGE, JACK RUBY, KARMA INC 2. Better not to think about it.

With loose ends, Paul and I are working on the finale for SOUVENIR OF DALLAS to appear on D Magazine's Frontburner blog. Also, Brock and I have a short Emily Edison side project that I need to script this week.

And that's the update. Sound good? Let me know your thoughts.


Some links and updates... This one is from January 4th. Very proud to have MINE ALL MINE mentioned in Cherry Grrl: Lesbian Entertainment News + Culture. The article talks about the one-page comic illustrated by Cat Staggs and written by me, titled "Darcy." Despite being only four panels of art and 24 words of dialogue, I put a lot of thought into this one, and of course, Cat's art is absolutely sublime. I'm glad Cherry Grrl picked up on all the details. The article mentioned that the comic was written for a friend of mine who recently came out, and that's true. It also adds "and is having a difficult time dealing with it." In all fairness, I don't know if that's completely accurate. I took liberty as a writer to send her a little message, a pat on the back, which I think she needed. I've always been an ardent supporter of gay rights (PFLAG), but I'm hesitant to write gay, lesbian, or bi characters simply to be subversive or exploitative. Certainly, some writers do. That's their artistic choice, and there's a need for that. However, for me, if a character is gay, I want to write them as naturally as I would write a straight character. I think "Darcy" captures that. http://www.cherrygrrl.com/mini-comic-features-lesbian-vignette-among-%E2%80%9Ccasual-encounters%E2%80%9D/

The second to last batch of comics for Design-PT is finished. Cal Slayton posted them on his blog. It was a fun challenge to develop an advertising campaign for an I.T. company using comics. http://calslayton.blogspot.com/2010/03/ads-done-in-comic-book-style.html

Paul Milligan and I finished the May installment of D Magazine's SOUVENIR OF DALLAS. This comic will focus on the re-design of the Texas Giant roller coaster for the 2011 season at Six Flags. I had the chance to interview the director of construction and maintenance, which was interesting. No links yet.

The next WE'VE NEVER MET will be in this Thursday's Quick. Also, the comics archive has been updated on their blog. http://blog.quickdfw.com/archives/comics/

I received my pro registration confirmation for 2010 Comic-Con International. I haven't worked out hotel and travel plans yet, but I'll probably plan it around a visit to see my family in Huntington Beach and attend the convention on Thursday and Friday. I'd like to attend the Eisner Awards. Yes, yes, I know it'll be impossible to book a hotel. I'll figure something out.


It's a good week when my comics for D Magazine and Quick both hit at approximately the same time. The next four installments of WE'VE NEVER MET deal with Austin, SXSW, NX35, and the personalities of the various cities in Texas. It's my opportunity to pick on our neighbors a bit. All in good fun, of course. Best of all, we get some quality time with Liz and her band (still unnamed). Since the comic posts every other week, it's tricky to make each one "self contained" and still try to continue a larger story. I have to resist the urge to move too fast with what I want to develop. I could write WE'VE NEVER MET for as long as Quick and Chad Thomas are willing to tolerate me.

The March issue of D Magazine features a new SOUVENIR OF DALLAS (click here). This one was a real challenge. I knew what I wanted to do, but I had to interview everyone and get the quotes. Mike Snider at AllGood was such a nice guy. I could've talked with him for an hour. Pete Zotos of St. Pete's Dancing Marlin returned my call while he was at a Cowboys game! It was a short conversation, but I appreciate his effort. Tim Frazin, owner of Zini's Pizzeria, was a fortunate last minute interview. I was roaming the streets of Deep Ellum at night trying to find a third restaurant after my other interview never materialized. I saw Zini's was open. Tim was there. We had a good conversation. He's a cool guy. In fact, Zini's is also seen in WE'VE NEVER MET. They might become the official pizza of my comics -- like Duff Beer in the Simpson's, but real. Paul Milligan did a great job as always with a script that wasn't the easiest to work with.

Speaking of difficult scripts, David DeGrand finished the first page of our Happy Bullets mini-comic (the song: "F--k Yeah, I'm In Love With You"). It looks great. I went overboard with these scripts. Working with DeGrand and the Happy Bullets lyrics, it's hard not to get a little weird. In fact, "Lead Balloon" might be one of the best comics I've ever written. No words and pitch perfect. No pressure, DeGrand.

In case anyone missed the tweet, Brock Rizy and I finalized our proposal for EMILY EDISON AND THE END OF THE WORLD. http://twitpic.com/156bin

And one more thing I'm excited about, the talented Chris Medellin has launched his webcomic for Roam. Bookmark it. Seriously good work.


The latest WE'VE NEVER MET is now available. Look for it on the last page of Quick, DFW's weekly entertainment newspaper. This one might be my favorite thus far. It establishes everything I want you to know about the story. It flows well, and I love the last panel. Chad's art is personable, expressive, incredible. No surprise there.

click for larger version

I don't say it nearly enough, but thank you to everyone at Quick. I greatly appreciate all the attention this comic project receives. You always put a nice image of Liz (our protagonist) in the table of contents -- and post little blurbs here and there to direct people to it. I'm proud to be a Quick contributor.

Tonight, I'm working on the script through April 8th. These characters are coming into their own, and it's fun to spend time with them.


I just completed an order of 1,000 5x7 postcards through Overnightprints.com. We should have them in time for Dallas Comic Con.

I'll distribute the remaining cards to various DFW comic book stores and other strategic retail locations. The hope is to spread the word about our work in D Magazine and Quick.

Postcards designed by Paul Milligan. WE'VE NEVER MET art by Chad Thomas. SOUVENIR OF DALLAS art by Paul Milligan (again).


This week, I've been working on SOUVENIR OF DALLAS for D Magazine's March issue. It's covering affordable dining in Deep Ellum.

In addition to some other freelance work, I'm plotting WE'VE NEVER MET through the month of April. Here's a sneak peek at what's coming, without spoiling too much.

January 14th: Disaster Picnic 2010. Already scripted and illustrated, this one will come out on Thursday. We're introducing another major character, Patricia.

January 28th: Already scripted, this one flashes back to what else happened at Lee Harvey's on New Year's Eve. Keith and Patricia are involved.

February 11th: We return to Disaster Picnic 2010. In honor of Valentine's Day, Patricia and Liz talk about relationship problems. Actually, Patricia does most of the talking.

February 25th: SXSW, part 1. The band loads up and prepares to make the trip down to Austin for SXSW.

March 11th: SXSW, part 2. The band in Austin.

March 25th: SXSW, part 3. The band in Austin.

April 8th: SXSW, part 4. The band returns from SXSW, and they're happy to be back.


First, thank you to everyone at Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles for hosting us. There was some confusion at first, because our contact person was out all week with H1N1. So, I showed up with a box of comics (early as always) and they didn't know they were having a signing -- but it didn't phase them at all. "Cool. Let's set you up over here." Introductions were made, and we were good to go. Plus, with California locals Christopher Higginson, Cat Staggs, and Sina Grace, we were able to bring a lot of people to Golden Apple. The people at that comic book store were all very nice. It was good to hang out with Christopher, Cat, and Sina -- and thank you Christian Beranek and Christina Weir for stopping by and supporting us.

A picture of us at the signing (click here)

A nice review of ONE NIGHT STAND (click here)

My interview with CBR about ONE NIGHT STAND (click here)

The latest WE'VE NEVER MET is now available, featuring the new logo by Jenni Leder. Look for Quick in racks around town. (click here)

This week's Quick also features some love for the web series The Variants.


The January issue of D Magazine is now available in newsstands around town. It features a new installment of SOUVENIR OF DALLAS (click here). Also, this week's Quick has the latest WE'VE NEVER MET (click here).

SOUVENIR OF DALLAS covers the opening of Main Street Garden in downtown Dallas. I attended. (What? You think I make all this stuff up?) It's a beautiful park, and finally we have some green in a downtown dominated by concrete. Score. However, being satire, it wouldn't be any fun for the comic to leave it at that.

WE'VE NEVER MET introduces Trenton, one of Liz's best friends and a fearless bike rider. I was a little worried that I'd get a negative response from the biking community, especially my friends at Bike-Friendly Oak Cliff. However, with the exception of this twitter post from Pedal Dallas, I haven't heard much. Maybe everyone is still worn out from the Observer's big story on the subject? Yes, it's not a good idea to ride on the highway without a helmet and other proper equipment (rear-view mirrors, etc). It's also probably bad for someone to ride with you, standing on your back wheel pegs, at night, on the highway. This comic might stereotype bicyclists as having unrealistic expectations of their place within traffic. If you feel slighted, let me know! Alas, responsible behavior just isn't as funny. Given the chance, Trenton will grow as a character. Mostly, I wanted to make one big statement with this issue: It is possible to live in Dallas without a car, but it's probably not easy. Trains, buses, and bicycles will be instrumental, along with other creative alternatives.

The next WE'VE NEVER MET will come out December 31st and will debut our new logo, designed by Jenni Leder.

Currently, Paul, Chad, and I are working on some postcards to promote SOUVENIR and WE'VE NEVER MET. I should have them ready by January's Dallas Comic Con.

In other news, I shipped ONE NIGHT STAND to retailers yesterday. If you live near one of these stores, pick up your copy on December 30th. On that day, I'll be signing at Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles with Cat Staggs, Sina Grace, and Christopher Higginson.

Comps will be sent soon to the artists involved. If you are a ONE NIGHT STAND artist, try to wait for your comps. I want regular store customers to have a chance at this mini-comic. Supplies will be limited.

One random link: Here's a humorous and insightful review of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (click here). It's 70 minutes in length and worth every minute. This video actually doubles as a fairly good Creative Writing lecture on critical mistakes made with characters and plot. Valuable stuff to keep in mind when you work on your next story.