PopCultHQ is kicking off 2018 in a new way. Each month, we’ll be selecting Comic Book Creators of the Month and interview them for a spotlight article. For February 2018’s Writer of the Month, we selected Bryan Edward Hill.
One of the things that amazes me so much about writer/editor Bryan Edward Hill is besides scripting (and editing) numerous comic book projects, he’s also a screenwriter, graphic designer, musician, and an entertainment industry consultant (just to name a few jobs). This guy is a workhorse! Whether being involved in “Writer’s Room” meetings with DC Comics/Warner Bros. Entertainment for the upcoming TITANS show, working in animation (9 SATRA: The Legend of Muay Thai), writing for Starz‘ ASH vs. EVIL DEAD, or hammering out comic book gems, Bryan’s gifts are being showcased on many platforms. He even makes time to work with at-risk youth as a peer counselor. Hill is a true hero in the entertainment industry, the comic book community and beyond.
The New York University film school grad has a slew of noteworthy comics from Top Cow Productions for which he has written: POSTAL, EDEN’S FALL, NETHERWORLD, ROMULUS, BROKEN TRINITY: AFTERMATH, and CYBERFORCE. Currently, you can find Hill’s work in Top Cow’s recently debuted series BONEHEAD, the new volume of CYBERFORCE, the upcoming launch of APHRODITE V, as well as DC Comics’ THE WILD STORM: MICHAEL CRAY.
We at PopCultHQ are beyond honored to feature writer Bryan Edward Hill as our Writer of the Month. So sit back, relax, and hear our interview with the man himself as he discusses how Batman framed his personal tragedy, how working to extremes is how he works best, and how being a writer is comparable to being the quarterback of a creative team.
PopCultHQ Spotlight Interview
Writer of the Month – February 2018:
Bryan Edward Hill
PopCultHQ: How did comic books influence your childhood? What was the defining moment in your life that you knew, from then on, that you wanted to write comic books for a living?
Bryan Edward Hill: If I’m being honest, the story is a little sad with some sunshine at the end of it. When I was ten years old, my father died of cancer. It left the kind of hole in me that love and words can’t fill. Suddenly, you have people telling you that you’re the “man of the house” now, and you have to take care of things and being a kid, I couldn’t process anything that was happening. I had a father, and then I didn’t. It wasn’t a long fight and he just faded like a candle.
Soon after that, I walked into a comic book store and I bought an issue of BATMAN. This was around the YEAR ONE period where Batman was everywhere. I had seen the show and cartoons, but I didn’t read the comics and when I did I identified so much with Bruce Wayne. I understood his emotions and I wanted his discipline and motivation. In many ways, BATMAN framed my tragedy in the way only fiction can.
I didn’t want to write comics. I wanted to be Batman. I studied martial arts and philosophy in my teens and I thought maybe I would go into law enforcement, but my mother (bless her heart) didn’t want me to have a dangerous job. Writing was something I seemed to have a knack for, or at least I was comfortable with it and could express myself, so I thought I would try to tell stories like the ones that helped me.
From that point on, I knew that I would write comics and screenplays and perhaps direct a film. Tragedy becomes passion and here I am.
PopCultHQ: Your writing has been featured across a number of titles at Top Cow. I’m a big fan of Postal, was a backer for the Golgotha HC, and I’m just getting into Bonehead. With also writing for DC Comics, editing, your non-comic book writing work in the entertainment industry, and being active on social media, how do you manage it all? It would seem like your plate is pretty full.
Bryan: Well, I don’t really socialize very much. I try to reserve my energy for the creation of art and most of my socialization comes through my work. There was a period, right after college, where I was pretty intense with the party life. So for about two years out of college I lived like a music video for TheWeeknd, living in New York City and making gloriously bad choices.
Now, I’ve mellowed and I just try to structure my life around creation.
PopCultHQ: You’re a part of DC’s relaunched Wildstorm Universe with scripting the new Michael Cray series. What stands out to me in this title is the amount of heart that has gone into the narrative, and especially the titular character and his search for his identity. From where did you draw the inspiration for such a dynamic inward look at Cray and his inner struggles?
Bryan: When Warren Ellis and Marie Javins (the editor of the book) came to me, they didn’t have too many rules. I told them that I was interested in a man finding purpose in destructive power. I have self-destructive urges. We all do. There was a period in my life when those urges might have been in charge. That’s the part of Cray that I understand. He’s a man being used for his power, and simultaneously being transformed by it into something either more or LESS than a man. That was fascinating to me and worth the exploration.
When you’re talented and hungry and looking for something to be a part of, you often times get used by people who see their own benefit in your ability. I’ve gone through that. Cray is going through that. Most of my work reflects something REAL in my own life, either something I’m going through currently, or something I’ve gone through in the past.
I tend to work in extremity. Extreme emotion. Extreme pathos. Extreme action. Extreme consequence. D.C. is allowing me to do all of those things with Cray and Warren has been fantastic.
PopCultHQ: You’ve worked alongside an incredible list of talented writers and artists in your published work. What do you find is the most important tool for a writer to have in order to work cohesively with any given creative team?
Bryan: Malleability. Writing in a collaborative process is like being a quarterback. You get coaching. You have to start the play and make sure the rest of the team has what they need to succeed because the ball WILL leave your hands and you need to get to the end-zone. You have to be flexible, but you also have to KNOW what you want to accomplish so when you make your adjustments you can still reach your goal.
Put the ego away and focus on the reader, the end user experience. That’s the thing I keep in mind. People will spend money and time on these books and people deserve the best experience possible. If the team is on that page, that team usually wins.
PopCultHQ: What has been the most important and/or valuable piece of advice you’ve received as a writer in the comic book industry?
Bryan: In the TITANS writer’s room (I’m a writer on the upcoming show) Geoff Johns spoke with me about the importance of human connection and making sure those moments land with sincerity. What I love about Geoff is his complete lack of fear when it comes to sincerity. He’s not worried about being “clever,” but he focuses on being honest. He pushes us to make things more real, less written. I’ve applied what I’ve learned from him across the board.
PopCultHQ: On top of Postal, Bonehead, and Michael Cray, what’s on tap in 2018 for Bryan Edward Hill? Any conventions and signing appearances lined up?
Bryan: I’ve got CYBERFORCE and APHRODITE V coming this year from Top Cow. Some big two stuff I can’t talk about at the moment.
As for conventions, I’m not really sure. My schedule is TIGHT, but I’ll be at SDCC and NYCC this year, for sure.
PopCultHQ: If you had the power or ability to make one change in the comic book community or industry, what would it be?
Bryan: I’d like us to stop making villains of one another over the ideas we carry. Fiction is a battlefield of ideas, but instead of responding with work, now we respond by vilifying each other on social media and that creates a pretty awful frequency in the culture. We create these heightened, narrow personas and then we go to war with others doing the same thing. We’re all wearing masks, fighting each other, convinced that the masks we’re fighting are people’s real faces. It’s something I’ve avoided in my work and my social media presence.
I’m pretty left of center, I suppose, but I don’t aim war at people who think differently because that never changes a mind. I try to create work that expresses my point of view, but also doesn’t browbeat people into believing what I believe.
I wish comics culture was more sensitive to the feelings of others, and less sensitive about itself. I wish everyone would just take a moment to remember that we’re here because we love these characters and this format.
I wish people worked a little harder to manifest the qualities of the heroes we read and write in our own lives. Don’t be an asshole in a Superman T-shirt. You’re missing the point of the “S.”
On his planet, it stands for hope.
Special thanks to Bryan for making time to speak with PopCultHQ.
Be sure to follow Bryan online for
all the latest from the talented creator!
Writer – Bryan Edward Hill