THE CONVENTION COLLECTIVE: Thank you for joining us in the Spotlight Bryant! How did you get into writing and why did you want to become an writer?
Bryant Dillon: Thanks for having me.
My path as a writer seems to be a unique one, mostly because I pursued other creative endeavors early on. I had a talent for drawing and was invested in the visual arts for a long time. In high school, I also got really seriously in to theatre and acting, eventually being accepted in to the acting program at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pa. Through those years, creative writing was always something I dabbled in here or there, but I never considered myself a writer at the time, just someone who knew instinctually how the story should go or the dialogue should sound. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting after graduating college, but I found myself writing more and more often, and this eventually lead to writing the first two graphic novels published by Fanboy Comics (now Fanbase Press) when I helped co-found the company. So, ultimately, I think necessity played a lot into the direction of my creative career, but, at the same time, all the artistic endeavors I was involved with were about telling stories or being part of the craft of storytelling, so writing, in many ways, was the purest form of being a storyteller and I’m sure that attracted me to it too.
TCC: What genre do you like writing the most?
Bryant: Much of my writing has at least one foot (if not both) planted solidly in the horror genre. I tend to have an easy time imagining things that would scare me (and often others) and that kind of darkness or edge seems to be present in most things I work on. Still, this can be diverse and varied within the genre or elements of the genre. For example, the graphic novels Something Animal and Identity Thief are clearly classic horror stories, but when it comes to audio dramas that I’ve written for, like The Odds: The Audio Drama: The Collected Edition from California Coldblood Books and the fan-project known as The Katniss Chronicles, are both science-fiction stories with heavy horror elements present.
TCC: What was the first work you completed, where you stepped back and thought, “Yes, y’know what, I can do this for a living!”?
Bryant: While it wasn’t a paid project, I think The Katniss Chronicles audio drama really made things click for me in regards to what was possible. This was an unofficial adaptation of the Hunger Games novels in audio drama format that was completely fully cast and completely fan produced. I was one of the original co-creators and served as a writer and actor on the series as well. The goal was to offer a loyal adaptation of the novels prior to the release of the feature films, given how often movies are required to cut or re-invent the source material they adapt. In an effort to ensure that we couldn’t be accused of biting of the film adaptations, we made a concentrated effort to release all episodes prior to the corresponding film was released, so the deadlines were intense, but it also felt like being in a real writers’ room given our approach and pace. The response from the fan base was incredibly enthusiastic, with the series still receiving thousands of downloads per month to this day, and, ultimately, it’s one of the creative endeavors I’m most proud of.
TCC: Which writers inspire you? And they don’t have to be in the medium you work in, either…
Bryant: When it comes to comics, Christos Gage is someone who always seems to deliver no matter what title he’s writing and as a big time Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, I absolutely loved his run on Dark Horse’s Angel & Faith and the Buffy “seasons” he wrote after that. I’m also a big fan of Phillip Kennedy Johnson who’s currently writing Marvel’s Alien series (along with a dozen other cool things). His work just stands out to me as smarter and more relevant than the competition and I was really impressed with his world building in DC’s The Last God. Finally, outside of comics, Dave Filoni of Disney+’s Star Wars: The Mandalorian is at the top of my list. There’s just something magic about the way he approaches not just Star Wars, but character, plot, and storytelling in general. He believes in the purpose of storytelling as a functional force in human culture and brings so much genuine heart to every story he tells.
TCC: Can you tell us your greatest fan moment, interacting with a personal hero of yours where you may have gone a little weak at the knees?
Bryant: While I’m no where near the most hardcore Grant Morrison fan out there, I definitely respect and admire the guy and his work. Also, there’s no denying that when he and Dan DiDio randomly walked in to the restaurant I was bartending at a few years back, I totally freaked out. It was a dead time in the afternoon, so they were the only ones there and, as one might expect, no one working there knew who they were but me. The manager of the place saw me losing my mind behind the bar and asked me to fill him in on who Morrison and DiDio were. After I did, he ended up bringing them complimentary drinks and appetizers and telling them that the bartender bought the items for them. This of course prompted Morrison and DiDio to invite me over to shake hands and chat for a minute. I don’t know that I’ve ever found it that difficult to speak before.
TCC: What is your favorite fandom? Who is your favorite comic book character/movie/tv character?
Bryant: Wow. That’s a tough one because I’m an intense fan of a few different properties. Honestly, I think my favorite fandom shifts back and forth every couple years. Currently, I would have to say Star Wars is my favorite fandom. I’ve really dug the majority of the stories they’ve been telling since the Disney purchase and it’s been something I can share with my wife, who’s also a huge Star Wars fan, so that makes it pretty special. I have a particular fascination with Anakin Skywalker and the era of the Republic and the Clone Wars. Anakin was a character with a epic amount of mystique and mythical presence when I was a teenager playing Star Wars RPGs in my friend’s basements and while he ended up being an incredibly different character from the one we imagined, I still find myself continually intrigued by the romantic and Shakespearean nature of the man who would become Vader.
TCC: What’s your working routine? Do you work regular set hours and days, keeping certain days free for personal time, or do you find you create any time the muse takes you?
Bryant: Well, my own writing is secondary to my publishing duties as Fanbase Press President, so that means that, for me, my work schedule is often determined by what time I have left. It’s slow moving and there are times that can be very frustrating, but I also really believe in the titles we’re publishing at Fanbase Press and the creators whose stories we have the honor of sharing with the world, so it’s totally worthwhile despite the slow pace.
TCC:When you’re creating, what do you use for background noise? Some creators use music or podcasts, some use a TV show that they just can listen to in the background. What do you use?
Bryant: While I enjoy doing a lot of types of work with a podcast or TV show on in the background, creative writing is not something where I can split my attention like that. When writing, I prefer to go with music only, especially cinematic scores. Typically, I want the score I choose to reflect the tone of the piece I’m working on, but some of my “go to” scores for writing are Tron: Legacy, Alien 3, Annihilation, and the score for the Battlestar Galactica spinoff, Caprica.
TCC: What was the first comic con that you remember attending? And, indeed, what was the last?
Bryant: There weren’t a ton of comic conventions that I was aware of when growing up in central Pennsylvania, so my first convention experience was actually attend San Diego Comic-Con as a volunteer in 2007. It was definitely a different show back then. You could even walk up and buy a badge the day of the show. The last comic convention I attended was Imperial Valley Comic-Con 2020 in El Centro, California. It was Fanbase Press’ first time exhibiting at that show, but we had a great time. We always love being part of the smaller shows with passionate attendees.
TCC: What’s your favourite element of a comic convention? And which bits could you easily leave behind?
Bryant: I love a lot of elements of attending conventions, but my favorite is probably the 10-15 minutes my wife and I find as exhibitors, before the show opens, to walk the aisles of Artist Alley. Seeing the original creations and becoming familiar with new talent is always something I enjoy. As for what I could do without, jacked up prices for the necessity of parking and subpar convention food would definitely be at the top of the list. That said, I will give a shout out to Silicon Valley Comic Con for having one of the healthier and tastier selections of food available at their convention.
TCC: At a convention, when you’re not behind your table or doing the things you have to do at a con, which corner of the show would we find you in?
Bryant: Again, I think Artist Alley is where you’re most likely to find me. I do wander to check out certain exclusives and specific booths, but that’s my natural habitat.
TCC: A lot of creatives are also taking to crowdfunding – such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo – to generate income from their work. What’re your thoughts on that?
Bryant: While Fanbase Press has yet to take part in any crowdfunding campaigns to generate income, I know a lot of creators who take part and recommend it highly. I think it seems like a great way to fund creative projects and interact with an interested, passionate audience.
TCC: What projects have you recently finished? What are you working on at the moment, what projects are coming up that you can talk about?
Bryant: Currently, Fanbase Press is in the process of releasing our new alt-history comic series, Nuclear Power, via ComXology and Hoopla Digital. This series is co-written by Desirée Proctor and Erica Harrell of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: Michonne, and illustrated by Lynne Yoshii of DC’s Gotham City Garage and Inside the Loop, and has been described as The Handmaid’s Tale meets the X-Men. The collected trade paperback will be released in October and is currently available for pre-order through the Fanbase Press website.
On a personal level, I wrote several episodes in the recently released The Odds: The Audio Drama: The Collected Edition from California Coldblood Books. These are just the scripts, collected in book format and ready to be performed and produced. This was an adaption of the post-apocalyptic action-comedy novel of the same name written by Robert J. Peterson that features some incredible world-building, bizarre and fascinating characters, and a mystery as to what specifically destroyed the world and society as we know it. Fans of Mad Max and Firefly will definitely dig it.
I also wrote a short horror comic included in the recently released NIGHTMARE THEATER: A Cinematic Horror Anthology. My story is titled “Buried” and deals with a parent’s reaction when they discover an actual living and breathing monster in their basement. It features art by Chris Thorne, colors by Jesse W. Campbell, and letters by Oceano Ransford.
Finally, for what lies ahead, Fanbase Press has just announced Ripple Effects, our next superhero title. This five-issue comic book series was created, written, and colored by Jordan Hart (Terminarch, Doppelgänger, Emergence), illustrated by Bruno Chiroleu (El Borde, Mara and Samu), flatted by Shane Kadlecik, lettered by Oceano Ransford (Eisner Award-nominated Rikki, The Sequels, Haphaven), and featuring cover art by Justin C. Harder of CLAUS Studios. Ripple Effects explores life as a superhero with an invisible and incurable disease and is similar to The Incredibles meets the dramedy, 50/50. What sets this series apart is a positive, person-first representation about life with a chronic disease… which just so happens to also include superhuman abilities. But, Ripple Effects isn’t just a story about a character with an incurable disease. It’s also a thrilling and relevant superhero tale that touches on the difficulty of finding a work/life balance, the class struggles and economic inequality experienced by many in our nation, and the desire to help others during trying times. Anyone interested in learning more should head to the Fanbase Press website or view our announcement video on the Fanbase Press YouTube channel.
TCC: How do you stay connected with fans? Do you use a mailing list or newsletters, are you active on social media?
TCC: Where can people find out more about you and reach out to you?
Bryant: It’s probably easiest to reach out to my via Twitter these days. If you’re interested in finding out more about me, I would recommend visiting FanbasePress.com, listen to The Fanbase Weekly – the podcast I co-host, or checking out my professional Facebook page.
TCC:Thanks Bryant, for your time!
Bryant: Thank you! Much appreciated!
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