Q&A with Donny Cates

It’s not every day that we get to enjoy seeing Donny Cates chime in on ATOMAHAWK, and all things indie comics, so let’s do this, with relish.

Q:  ATOMAHAWK looks like a fun ride.  What can you tell us about this wild tale, without giving too much away?

DC:  Atomahawk is the most fun you can have in comics from a creator standpoint. It’s honestly just me and the series artist (Ian Bederman-@wonkytiger on twitter and Instagram) getting together and hanging out here in Austin trying to make the coolest sci-fi barbarian story we can. As far as spoilers go….there’s not much to spoil. Atomahawk is a crazy space axe that wants to kill. That’s’….kind of the long and short of it. You’ll have to check it out on August 31st to find out more!!

Q:  How did you and Ian link up?

DC:  Ian is one of my best friends and also my Tattoo artist. He’s done a ton of work on me over the years, and we’ve always chatted the time away while he works on me by coming up with fun stories about his rad drawings. This was a pretty logical next step.

Q:  What is your favorite part of the comic creation process?

DC:  I think just that. It’s all about breaking the story for me. It’s all about the collaboration. Certainly a large part of what I, and all writers and artists do, is solitary and lonely at times, but I think we all live for that moment you get to lock in with someone else about a story, or a moment. It’s like geeking out with your friends about a movie or a book, or a show, except you are the ones making the show. You’re making the moment happen. Nothing in life feels better than that.

Q:  When did you know that you wanted to begin creating comics?

DC:  Around 2008 or so. I was running a bunch of comic book stores here in Austin and when they closed down I thought that I really wanted to be in comics somehow. I could draw a little, but after some playing around I felt I had a bit of a knack for rearranging the alphabet in fun ways. So…I went and did that.

Q:  Tell us more about this rearranging of the alphabet?

DC:  Oh, that’s just my dumb way of saying “I WRITE THINGS”

Q:  Indie comics have risen in popularity so much in recent years.  Why do you suppose that is?

DC:  Oh, Because of me.

Q:  Well, bless our lucky stars!  If the taste of ATOMAHAWK that we got in Heavy Metal #282 is any indication, we expect to be seeing more great things from you in the near future.  What’s still on your bucket list, as a creator of graphic lit?

DC:  You know…there’s this one Wall Crawling hero i have my eye on. Oh, and this one girl in California that slays vampires that I’m quite keen on. Other than that…I’m living it, man. The goal was always this. And I’ve been very lucky over the years to get where I am now. I’m having a killer time.

Q:  Which of the current crop of indie comics are you most curious to read?

DC:  ALL OF THEM! Hah, honestly I never have time to read comics anymore. It’s the worst thing about this gig, and the thing no on tells you when you start doing it. You will not have time to read comics anymore! That being said I, like everyone on earth, absolutely adore Southern Bastards. It’s the one comic I make time for every month.

Q:  Jason Aaron is one hell of a storyteller, isn’t he?

DC:  Oh god, is he ever. Honestly I have to save his books for the end of my stack, and even then i have to read them only after i have finished a script. If i read them while i’m working I’ll just quit comics forever and never look back because I just….ugh, i’ll just never be that good.

Q:  What do you suppose brick-and-mortar comic book shops could do more of, to remain relevant in these digital times?

DC:  I suppose I somewhat disagree with the premise of this question. I think comic shops are incredibly relevant. As a former retailer I can tell you that this notion of Digital sales competing and threatening brick and mortar shops is utter nonsense. The digital platform brings in NEW readers, it does not divide existing ones to an extent that it would make comic book stores irrelevant. Comic shops are dope. But, in response to your question….they could stock more of my comics. How’s that? ☺

Q:  What surprised you most, about the comic book industry, during your early days as a comic book retailer?

DC:  How outgoing comic geeks are! Honestly, you know you’re fed that bullshit “antisocial live in my mom’s basement” image for so long you start to believe it but, honestly most comic fans are just regular, awesome people who want to hang out and talk about comics! That was my hands down favorite part of having those shops. Getting to know my customers and chatting with them about how cool Green Lantern or Thor is….nothing like it. Some of the best times of my life were in those shops.

Q:  Five dinner guests.  Which five living writers (of indie comics or otherwise) would you invite to a dinner party?

DC:  Oh lord, well I’ve become a bit of an introvert, and I feel like if I actually invited the writers I look up to (Mark Waid, Jason Aaron, Grant Morrison, Jonathan Hickman, Brian Michael Bendis) they would just ignore me and talk amongst themselves anyway….so I’ll just stock this table with my buddies who are writers. So like, John Layman, Frank Barberie, Joshua Williamson, Chris Sebela and—wait….actually who the hell wants to hang out with writers? Artists are so much more fun. I’m going Nick Pitarra, Daniel Warren Johnson, Geoff Shaw, Dylan Burnett, Ryan Stegman and Chris Burnham.

Q:  That sure would be one happening dinner table! What hasn’t happened yet, in indie comics, that you would love to see happen next?

DC:  I’d like to see the total collapse of trademarks and copyrights so I can just write my own Spider-Man and Batman and Buffy comics without having to like…pitch for them…or like…be asked or earn it in any way whatsoever.

Q:  [Role play] you’re riding a hang glider when you suddenly see a UFO landing on the ground far below you.  What do you do?

DC:  Mind my own business I guess. I don’t know them people. Hence the “U” in the title, right? I DON’T JUDGE PEOPLE, MULTIVERSE!



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