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Author Interview: George Wassil, Writer of ‘Oh Hell’

Headshot300Bio: I am George Wassil, writer of Oh Hell. Oh Hell is pencilled and inked by Dave Hamann, colored by Michael Birkhofer, lettered by Troy Peteri. Oh Hell began in late 2012 as a web comic. In the spring of 2013 we printed a 28 page floppy which we used to help build a fan base. In 2014 we won the Geekie Award for best independent Comic/Graphic Novel. That same year we ran a successful Kickstarter which enabled us to complete and independently publish the 224 page book in July 2015. In December of that year we teamed up with Jon Hughes and Overground Comics to serialize the book and distribute it through Diamond. Volume 1 Issue 1 dropped in comic shops this month (March 2016).
Facebook and other social media:
We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr. I chose the very creative handle of OhHellComics @OhHellComics #OhHellComics for everything and do them all equally poorly.
 G33K-HQ:  When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics as a career?
George Wassil: You could say, I came late to writing comics but early to wanting to create them. I began writing Oh Hell shortly after my 65th birthday.  Yep 6 – 5. In my 30’s I wrote a couple of stage plays then transitioned to screenplays in my 40’s. Over the next decades I wrote 14 screenplays of which eight were optioned by producers with credentials ranging from “dubious” to Academy Award nominated, for monies ranging from $1 to a bad check that had a few zeros. (The one nominated for an Oscar never came across with any money.) As for wanting to create comics, that began with the daily comic strips in something known as the “daily newspaper”. I began reading comic books in the early 50’s during the transition from the Golden Age to the Silver Age. We didn’t have comics in our house partly due to a lack of money and the known fact that they caused juvenile delinquency. Fortunately I lived in a neighborhood rife with juvenile delinquents so i had easy access to comic books whenever my mother chased me out of the house.
11889675_932747560097653_152859014265178894_n G33K-HQ: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?
George Wassil: Pearl S. Buck. I read The Good Earth in high school and sometime around 1967 Ms. Buck spoke at my college. It was a tumultuous time – political assassinations, the Civil Rights struggle, Viet Nam war, inner cities a tinderbox – and she spoke of the need for justice and reconciliation. Her final word to us was “Live.” I took that to mean don’t spend your life going through the motions, go out and do something.
 G33K-HQ: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?
George Wassil: I have to credit or blame Nunzio DeFlippes. He and his wife Christina Weir have written for Oni Press, Marvel, DC Comics, HBO, film and more. He was an adjunct instructor in the UCLA Writers Extension program. I took his class, Writing for the Sequential Arts, and fell in love with creating for this medium. I know half a dozen of his former students who are active in creating comics today.
 G33K-HQ: What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
George Wassil: Creative batteries are always fully charged. It’s the batteries that take care of all the rest of life and business that need an occasional recharge and to do that I create.
543427_450318475007233_454167863_n G33K-HQ: Describe your typical work routine.
George Wassil: I work best when I’m able to stick to an every-other-day routine. On non-writing days, I’ll try to take care of chores and all the detritus that goes along with operating a very small business. My best writing days begin with a 20 minute work out on a flight of 58 steps at the beach, a shower then off to a coffee shop for a large redeye and 2 hours of writing. Around 11:00 I head to a local microbrewery for lunch and another 2 hours of writing. I’m working on several projects right now; Oh Hell Volume 2, a middle grade novel, and a new comic series.
 G33K-HQ: What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you?
George Wassil: Napkins, notebooks and Scrivener. I can’t help watching people and eavesdropping on conversations so that’s where the napkins and notebooks come in. When writing I find it difficult to outline a story. I’ll start with a plot idea but then I like to get to know the characters and have them tell me what to write. That’s where I’ve found Scrivener to be really handy. I can have hundreds of notes on digital index cards and move them around without dropping them on the floor or leaving them behind in a coffee shop or brew pub.
 G33K-HQ: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
George Wassil: Creating characters that people relate to.
 G33K-HQ: What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?
George Wassil: Coaching baseball. I’ve coached all levels from tee ball through high school. I love it because it’s a game predicated on failure. The best fail 70 to 80% of the time but if you can keep hold of the joy of playing and play it one pitch at a time, you never know what can happen. The same holds true for writing.
Oh-Hell-Ch4-CVRc G33K-HQ: We’ve all met very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?
George Wassil: “Don’t get it right, get it written” – James Thurber, New Yorker cartoonist and writer. Getting that first draft down on paper or electronic device is so important. Once you have it down you can begins sculpting or chiseling away at it. Today there are so many avenues to get your work out there but first you have to create it.
 G33K-HQ: Time to get philosophical: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?
George Wassil: Time is finite. No explanation needed.
 G33K-HQ: What does the word geek mean to you?
George Wassil: If you scratch the surface of most people you’ll find a geek. I think we all “geek out” about something whether it be comics, cars, food, money, sports, art, music, religion, history, politics. The list is endless. Being a geek provides us with a community or even multiple communities where we fit in.

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