CW Cooke is a comic book writer living in the Kansas City area who has been working in comics since 2007. He has been published by Action Lab, Big Dog Ink, Viper, Bluewater, Arcana, and Devil’s Due Entertainment with his creator-owned series Solitary. He is a featured writer for Project-Nerd Publishing with two new series, Clock Puncher and Barrens, both scheduled for release in early 2016. He has successfully Kickstarted his series Solitary and helped successfully Kickstart the series Barrens.
Cooke, along with Sean Demory and Scott Novosel, will share their experiences successfully using crowdfunding to develop projects, build community and establish buzz at our 2016 Writers Conference.
Introduce yourself. Where do you live and work?
I live and work in Overland Park KS but have lived all over the metro area on both sides of the border. I work a boring day job in insurance but write comics full time as a second gig. It's fun.
What kind of writing do you do?
Mostly comic book/graphic novel. I've dabbled in novel writing and screenplays and poetry and plays and everything in between. I took numerous classes in high school and college and tried to learn everything there was about writing.
How long have you been writing?
My whole life in one fashion or another, but in comics since 2007 or 2008. My first published comic book work came out in 2008.
Did you choose your genre, or did it choose you?
I believe it to be a bit of both. I've loved comic books since I was a kid, after seeing the Batman film and then the cartoons of that and X-men and Spider-man. So ever since then, I've loved comics and wanted to be involved in comics in some fashion. So this love of comics made me want to draw them, and when I wasn't any good at art, I went after writing them. And somehow, it's worked out.
How many unpublished manuscripts are stuffed in your desk drawer (or in a folder on your computer)?
Too many to count. I've got starts and stops on various series that I've completed and I've got starts and stops on series that may never happen. I've got notebooks full of my ideas and stories that may never end up working out as well.
What do you find most challenging or surprising about the writing process? The publishing process?
Most challenging would be the waiting game. As I'm not an artist, I write a comic script and send it to the artist and then wait. And that can be stressful but it's always rewarding to see the finished product at the end. The publishing process itself can be stressful and challenging at times, but right now there are more avenues available for publishing than ever before. So it's been a real learning process and a real change in pace for me to learn new things daily about creating and publishing.
On what does your writing productivity depend? Is it a routine, a place, a special pen?
Time really. Since I have a day job, I have to find the time to write in between work and sleep and everything else in a day. It can be tough but just sitting down and forcing myself to write for an hour a day, no matter what, makes it easier. I just have to tie myself to the desk for that hour. And stay focused!
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
Just write. Or as Shia Labeouf or Nike would say, just do it. That's the best advice, to stop standing in my own way and thinking or overthinking things. To just sit down and write. For better or worse to just write and keep writing. Like everything else, it's a skill that has to be honed and trained.
To whom do you look for inspiration?
The best part about comic books in Kansas City is just the immense amount of talent working here. But outside of the Kansas City comics community, I try to find inspiration where I can. The comics of Mike Allred and Jeff Smith, video games, movies, the outside world, and even my day job gives me inspiration to get to work and to make things happen in comics so that I can stop doing my day job. But I look for inspiration wherever I can.
What books do you recommend to fellow readers and writers?
Scott McCloud has some incredible books about comics called Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics, and Making Comics (three separate books). Run out and read those now. On Writing by Stephen King is a great tool and helps a lot. Freddie Williams has an incredible book that I talk up a lot called The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics that everyone should read (writer or artist or neither). Madman by Mike Allred. Bone by Jeff Smith. Rasl by Jeff Smith. The works of Chuck Palahniuk or Hunter S Thompson. Read a little bit of everything about writing whether it be about comics or books or screenplays. And just never stop reading and never stop writing.