The latest installment in my ongoing effort to cover the creators of ACT-I-VATE continues this week with my interview of writer Chris Miskiewicz regarding Everywhere. Everywhere is an anthology series with a unique foundation that is discussed in our opening question. My thanks to Miskiewicz for the interview.
Tim O’Shea: In a few words, could you tell our readers the premise of The Everywhere Anthology?
Chris Miskiewicz: You wake up to find that millions of a single species have appeared EVERYWHERE around the world at the same time. It’s basically The Twilight Zone meets an Animal Disaster B-Movie Feature where each episode features a different animal disaster drawn by a different artist.
O’Shea: What motivated you to initially develop Everywhere, and how did it land at ACT-I-VATE?
Miskiewicz: The Everywhere Anthology came from a drunken conversation with artist Andrew Wendel who co-created the concept with me.
We were pitching a period piece to Vertigo Comics that was reference heavy and he got burnt out on drawing 1920’s Manhattan. So, we were at a bar and he said something about wanting to draw “some crazy shit.” “Like what?” I asked. “Like anything. Like a Plague of Animals running everywhere through the world.”
We starting laughing about it and by the end of the week I had four episodes scripted. It was just too much fun to write these random non-related disaster tales as opposed to the longer fiction I was doing.
Once I had finished the first few scripts I shot them over to Dean Haspiel to get his opinion. He read them and came back immediately with a phone call saying, “This is an ACT-I-VATE comic.”
I met with Dean and Mike Cavallaro to talk about how we’d do it, and then I formally pitched the series a few months later with several finished episodes and it was approved.
O’Shea: Is this your first writing for comics?
Miskiewicz: Yes. Everywhere is my first published comic. (Even though my desk is overflowing with scripts.)
O’Shea: Are you a full-time writer or do you have a day job?
Miskiewicz: I’m a full time writer with a day job. I work as an Actor. I recently finished episode 4 on the new season of HBO’s “Bored to Death” and had a small part in “Please Be Normal” directed by Haik Kocharian, staring Sam Waterston. I tend to call myself a Wr-Actor as a joke. Writer/Actor…sometimes it’s funny.
O’Shea: How vastly different is this effort than your other creative writing pursuits?
Miskiewicz: It’s short content meant for the web, so there’s a quickness to the pacing of an episode that took a bit to get used to. It’s a Horror-Parody so there’s a fine line between it being completely silly, or total action. I’ve written a novel and several screenplays, but this series is probably the closest thing I’ve done to television writing, and by that I mean the quick beats.
O’Shea: Can you break down the collaborative effort when you did the installment with photocomix creator Seth Kushner? Was it vastly different than the collaborative process in the other Everywhere installments?
Miskiewicz: Working with Seth Kushner was an absolute pleasure. Seth’s known about the project since the very beginning and was a huge help in getting me in touch with a number of artists he knew from his GraphicNYC interviews.
As far as the nuts and bolts went, it was the same as every other episode. We agreed on the shots, who we’d cast, and the locations. Basically, everything an artist would do in breakdowns/roughs, but with people. I’ve worked in film in different capacities since college and this episode was just like putting any shoot together. Once it was shot the rest was on Seth, and I think he rocked it.
I truly feel that Seth Kushner is pushing the boundaries of what you can do with photocomix. I’d even dare to say that Seth is currently the pioneer of that field. We hit it off really well and are in pre-production on another photocomix project.
O’Shea: Dean Haspiel serves as editor on Everywhere, how has he helped to improve the stories with his editorial input?
Miskiewicz: Dean has edited four or five of the episodes so far, and each time he does the episode comes out better than I could have hoped. Beyond being an artist/writer/content maker, he’s got a natural talent for editing a piece and shaving it down to a clear point. I’m lucky to have his oversight on this project.
O’Shea: With the Worms chapter, when the pipe unloads worms on one of the characters, it made me laugh out loud–right before the horror aspect kicked in. Had you hoped to go for a comedic note to throw the reader off, or did I misread that scene?
Miskiewicz: Nope. You got it right. Like I said, there’s a tongue in cheek aspect to the whole anthology and Worms Everywhere was hysterical to make. Rick and I had about twenty emails going back and forth about how we’d do that story. Then Dean got involved and there was about twenty more.
Worms was the most collaborative effort for the series so far. We had three endings when Rick came back with a, “Got it! Starting now!” reply. A day or two passed and I emailed him “Which ending are you going with?” he replied, “Moo Hoo Ha Ha.” So, I had no idea.
Then, he emailed me the story a page at a time, just to kill me. Just to make me bust while waiting to see which ending he went with.
Rick Parker is a total gentleman, and it was a pleasure to work with him. I’d jump at the chance to do so again.
O’Shea: Some of the installments are in full color, while others in black and white. Do you defer to the artist’s preference on if it is color or b&w or do you make the decision partially based on what mood you are hoping to establish with your story?
Miskiewicz: A little of both. I have an idea in mind, and then I speak with everyone to see if what they’re thinking is what I’m thinking. The script usually changes a bit after they do their roughs, and then we figure out what will work best thematically to set the tone. In the end they’re drawing it so I tend to defer to whatever is easiest and most exciting for them to do.
O’Shea: Can you talk about some of the folks you’ve already worked with on Everywhere (and what qualities you appreciated about their art)?
Miskiewicz: Andrew Wendel has been there since the inception. I’m a huge fan of his art. Andrew has an eye for detail that’s just amazing.
Rick Parker, always a gentleman, had me busting up every time he sent a page.
Bobby Timony did Bunnies Everywhere. I like Bobby a great deal and always dug his artwork in “Night Owls.” We joked about doing an episode for a few months and eventually chose bunnies because he owns a gigantic bunny. (Really. It’s the size of a dog.) Once we agreed on the script Bobby had it finished in two or three weeks. The guy is a pro. Since then we’ve been goofing off on a Frankenstein idea.
O’Shea: Can you talk about some of the future chapters that are on the horizon and what readers can look forward to reading?
Miskiewicz: Okay, in no particular order:
People Everywhere by Nick Abadzis is going to add a wonderful tone to the series. I think people will like People a lot. (That’s a random sentence)
And Nick’s a friend of mine, so, its just cool to finally be working with him.
Kittens Everywhere, by Maurice Fontenot might be the funniest episode of the series. Maurice is currently known for Ghost Pimp. Kittens stars the real life British rock band, Big Linda on their way through London during a Kitten apocalypse. I personally know the members of Big Linda, contacted them about it, and got the okay to use their logo/likeness. Maurice just finished inking the episode. It’s just amazing.
Butterflies Everywhere is beautiful. It’s just beautiful work by newcomer Kate Mc’Elroy, who had a back up story in Vertigo’s Fables 100. I feel like she’s really going to stand out when this goes live.
Alligators Everywhere by Chris Sinderson is also going to be a blast. It’s set in Vegas with a great Rat Pack flashback scene.
Whales Everywhere by Ashley Quigg is our next episode, and it’s got a great indie feel to it.
And I’m very excited about Bats Everywhere by Dennis Calero. It’s a great military story with lots of action twists, and millions of BATS!
Dennis just started and I can’t wait to see what he does.
O’Shea: Are you hoping to publish Everywhere as a collection at some point, or are you content with the online audience you have garnered with the stories?
Miskiewicz: I’d love to see this in print. I know what’s coming, and it’s going to make a great anthology book once it’s all together. I suppose there could be a digital download as well, but that’s still a bit away.
Overall I’ve been pleased and surprised by the attention the series is getting. My inbox has been exploding when a new episode goes up. It’s been a really positive experience.
O’Shea: Creatively what’s on the horizon for you?
Miskiewicz: I have a pretty full plate at the moment between upcoming film projects and creator owned properties that I’m developing for comics. I’ve also just finished my first novel, Allergy Season and am getting ready for everything that comes with trying to find a publisher.
I’m co-writing/producing a live action web series called, Secret Identity alongside Director Christopher Piazza, and Comedian Zachariah Durr.
And then a second web-series entitled “The Adventures of Shakespeare & Watson, Detectives of Mystery” staring theatre actor David Blatt and myself as Shakespeare & Watson.
And then I’ve written the screenplay for a science fiction photo-comic graphic novel with Seth Kushner entitled “Complex.” Seth, Dean Haspiel and I are the writers on it. It’s a very ambitious project. We’ve begun casting actors and pre-planning the shoot. When it’s shot Seth is going to go crazy warping thousands of images into a 140-page book.
And after these things, well, just a hell of a lot more typing.