Raven Gregory is Executive Editor and Staff writer of Zenescope Entertainment. In 2003, Raven self published the indie hit The Gift, which was soon picked up by Image Comics. Following the success of The Gift, Raven went on to co-created and write The Wonderland Trilogy and Grimm Fairy Tales: Myths and Legends for Zenescope Entertainment – The Wonderland Trilogy consisting of Return to Wonderland, Beyond Wonderland, and Escape from Wonderland. He has also written the critically acclaimed best selling creator owned series, The Waking (which features a brilliant twist on the Zombie genre), Fly, and the upcoming horror series The Theater. He is currently writing Zenescope Entertainment’s Grimm universe crossover, The Dream Eater Saga. Most importantly, Gregory never graduated from High School. Showing that at the end of the day, all anyone needs to succeed is hard work and perseverance.
You can learn more about Zenescope Entertainment by visiting its homepage here.
Nicholas Yanes: Many of the comic book creators I have interviewed have had some level of college education. How do you think your lack of higher education has positively or negatively influenced your career?
Raven Gregory: I like to think it kept my writing pure. That by not being taught in higher education I somehow avoided having others influence my style and my growth as a writer. But it’s really one of those things where I’ll never really know if it helped or hurt. I can’t look at one point in my career and say that having a college education would have helped at that time or not. I was always an avid reader from a young age so I wear my influences on my sleeve but at the same time I like to think it helped not having someone there saying I was doing this wrong or this right so that I learned more so by doing than having it taught to me.
Yanes: On this note, you’ve built an incredible career for yourself in the industry. What are some words of wisdom you think people who want to get into the industry should know?
Gregory: If you want to be a writer, be ready to give everything up. Be ready to sacrifice the world and be ready to have a very lonely existence. This is the life of a writer. Is it the best job in the world? Yes. But you have to really really want this, as the road is long and hard that leads out of hell up into the light of being a published creator. It sounds really melodramatic but it’s true. I used to say never give up and if you really want this then you can do it, but the longer I’m in this field the more I feel it’s my responsibility to let future writers know exactly what they are getting into. It’s very much like studying to be a doctor. Expect to spend eight to ten years making no money before your good enough to start making a living off of it. But writing is much like anything else…nothing worth getting is ever easy.
Yanes: You live in Arizona and Zenescope is located in Pennsylvania. What is it like being part of an industry that is archaically rooted in New York, and not living there?
Gregory: The nature of comics has really changed since back when Marvel and DC first took hold of the business. Now you can live anywhere and still be part of the business.
Gregory: For now I’ll be focusing on more creative owned stories. I’ll still be dipping my feet into the fairy tale universe with Myths and Legends and the upcoming Wonderland ongoing series but as for reimagining fairy tales I think I’m done for now. I am looking forward to what Zenescope has planned for OZ but other than that, I think I’m good.
Yanes: One of the reasons I love your Grimm Fairy Tales is that I find them to have an old-school EC Comics-horror vibe. Are you fan of the old EC horror comics? On this note, who are some of the horror-legends you loved growing up?
Gregory: Those were my favorite books growing up. That and The House of Mystery series. I loved Bernie Wrightson, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, and Rod Serling. Those were the first creators I was exposed to growing up and they’ve stayed with me ever since.
Yanes: What is considered a “proper” representation of the female body is a complicated and highly charged issue. How do you address criticisms of how female characters are hyper-sexualized in your books?
Gregory: I really think of it as more of a marketing tool and let the criticisms fall to the wayside. But if you really get down to the nitty-gritty, people like looking at pretty things. Hence…pretty characters.
Yanes: Given how good your stories are, do you feel how females are drawn may discourage women from reading your titles?
Gregory: Again, there’s a sense of what’s pleasing to the eye and I’m always amazed how large Zenescope’s female fan base is, so it’s not really something I give a lot of thought to. I write the stories I want to read and let the chips fall where they may.
Yanes: Your new miniseries, The Theater, is coming out September 2011. What is it like knowing that it is already earning a lot of positive buzz? Also, in addition to what’s already out there, what else can you tell us about this story?
Gregory: It’s pretty cool. I’m really glad the reviewers have been digging the story. We’re really trying to keep it under wraps so that readers can go in and just experience it for what it is versus having it spoiled for them before hand. But what I can tell you is that The Theater is the story of an old-fashioned movie theater which holds a dark secret that threatens the lives of those who dare enter it. And when an unsuspecting couple decides to visit the old movie house to watch some horror films, they soon find that something full of horror is also watching them.
Yanes: Comic books are being seen more and more as starting points for movie, television and videogame franchises. Which one of your projects would you love to see adapted into another medium?
Gregory: All of them. I’m happy with them all the way they are but who wouldn’t want to see their characters on the big screen or running around in a video game.
Yanes: In addition to The Theater, what else are you working on that people should look out for?
Gregory: I’ll be revisiting The Waking later next year as well as a few other creator owned books that are still too early to mention. The Wonderland ongoing is also in the works and I can’t wait to be writing Calie on the regular once again.
Again, you can learn more about Zenescope Comics by visiting its homepage here.