Cy Dethan is a British writer who began his comics career in 2006 on the Starship Troopers: Extinction Protocol strip for Mongoose Publishing.
In 2007, Cy was hand-picked to take over the reins of Markosia’s flagship ongoing series, Starship Troopers. He has subsequently written several creator-owned titles for Markosia, including Slaughterman’s Creed, The Indifference Engine and White Knuckle.
Cy’s first creator-owned book, Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth, was a major independent hit and a sequel, Cancertown: Blasphemous Tumours, was released in November 2012. Recently, he has joined the writing team of the Unseen Shadows transmedia project.
You can buy Cy’s graphic novels via his Comicsy Shop and even purchase multiple collections of his work at reduced prices.
1. When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics?
I made that decision in 1986, after reading The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, Maus, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen all in the space of about a fortnight. I got caught up in real-life nonsense for a couple of decades after that, but comics were a solid part of my life from my earliest years.
2. Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?
I honestly don’t know how to answer that question. Certainly, I have heroes ranging from Bruce Lee to the coin magician David Roth, but I genuinely don’t think of myself in terms of influences. I’m certain they exist, but they’re not easy for me to itemise or rank.
3. Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?
This one’s a lot easier to pin down. Nic Wilkinson (my partner, collaborator and creative muse) is the one person on this Earth who actively encouraged me to try writing comics professionally, and the only one who believed I could do it. There’s literally no point in even speculating on my career in comics without her input, as my creative output would be non-existent.
4. What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
I tend to work on multiple stories at once, typically three or four at a time, so that’s rarely a problem I need to solve. I spend a week working up one script, then switch to something entirely different the next. At the end of the month, all my projects have been advanced and I almost never get bogged down to the extent that I need time away from writing.
5. Describe your typical work routine.
I generally structure my week around making multiple “passes” over a single script. Day 1 would be page and panel breakdowns, getting at least a few notes down about precisely what happens in each panel. By the end of that day, the story is essentially “written” – or at least structured and plotted out. I then spend two days on dialogue and sound effects (if any), followed by another two days of fleshing out the panel descriptions. I think of the process like writing a piece of music. Each pass over the script is the addition of another track to the overall composition.
6. What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the ‘right tools’ for you?
Final Draft and tea. I got hooked on Final Draft when an established writer passed me a comics template reportedly created by a Big Name Pro. To be honest, though, since there doesn’t seem to be a one-size-fits-all script format, the best tool is always the one you’re comfortable with.
7. What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
Weirdly, I’d say it’s everything that happens once my part in the process is over. There really is nothing like watching the artwork come together on a book you’ve written, as all your co-creators add their own flourishes and bring the thing to life.
8. What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?
At the risk of copping out, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing people and watch them work on scripts I’ve written. Almost every day I’m floored by something in my email inbox. There’s just no way of answering that question with anything less than an essay.
9. What’s the best piece of comics advice you’ve ever heard?
My answer to that one’s pretty self explanatory, although I guess it’s more of a realisation than actual advice: make every mistake you can, but never make the same mistake twice.
10. Time to get philosophical: What’s the most important ‘big idea’ that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?
Question everything. The absence of critical thinking is poisonous to every field of human endeavour.
You can buy Cy’s graphic novels via his Comicsy Shop and even purchase multiple collections of his work at reduced prices.
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