Back in June, we spoke about musician Scott Hoffman’s first foray into comics with his book Nostalgia on ComiXology Originals. Scott had shared with us his musical inspirations for his first book. Well fast forward to today and Scott has released a new series entitled Wag. A story of a loner in a post-apocalyptic world, who hears voices in his head. Perhaps the aftermath of his time in the war or perhaps his inner demons speaking to him since his medication ran out. That is part of the mystery being explored in Scott Hoffman and artist Juan Bobillo’s Wag.
Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with the talented writer. We discussed his transition from musician to writer, his mentorship with Phil Jimenez, working and collaborating with talented artists from afar and what is in his future. So, let’s welcome musician and now writer, Scott Hoffman to GVN’s Talking Comics.
GVN: Thanks for giving us a bit of your time Scott.
SCOTT: My pleasure!
GVN: Before you started into comics, everyone knew you from your music. As you progressed in your music career, when did the idea of getting into comics take fruition and whose work inspired you to consider it?
SCOTT: Oddly enough, from my earliest days as a daydreaming kid I was equally drawn to the idea of a future in music as I was to getting involved writing or even film. I was always a big reader, and perhaps just a consumer of anything that encourage escapism. Everything from Clive Barker and Stephen King for prose, and weird books like Preacher, Black Hole, Sandman, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and Batman for comics.
So, writing was always in the back of my mind, and I tried, and failed, various times to find my confidence and voice as a writer. Right before the pandemic, I was at a bit of a crossroads with my music career and was wondering how to express myself in other ways. After telling my friend Phil Jimenez about this dream, he encouraged me to give it a try. We began a weekly writing workshop/accountability check-in with a mutual friend of ours that we still do to this day. He forced me to start, and once I started, I haven’t been able to stop.
Music and Comic Collaborations
GVN: Can’t go wrong with having Phil Jimenez as a tutor, that’s for sure. It has often been said by comic creators, especially those who also are involved in music, that creating a comic is kind of like creating music. In each case, talented people come together with a common mindset and create something even better as a whole. Did you find this to be true in your early experience, and if so, how would you correlate the two?
SCOTT: I definitely found this to be true. Phil, as both an experienced comics creator and teacher/mentor, was very adamant from day one that I understand that comics is a highly collaborative medium. Once I got started making these books, I was actually really thankful that I’ve had so much experience with creative collaboration, with of course the compromise and relational nuances that come with the process. Scissor Sisters was perhaps more of a reverse role for me, where I was more of the practical one (running the production software and organizing the ideas), whereas my bandmates were providing a large amount of the concepts/content. It was interesting, and kind of freeing, to be the one creating the raw material and to experience the abandon that comes with watching an artist make that come to life.
I do also love the isolation of writing at times. Music is a very back and forth, direct form of collaboration, and despite that changing somewhat with technology, I think the best results come from working together in real time. With comics, I love the challenge of being on my own, possibly even lost in the wilderness before the production begins, having to figure build a world completely inside of my head. Of course, this all changes once the collaborators come in, and then there’s an amazing back and forth that readjusts, materializes and improves everything.
Wag and Nostalgia
GVN: So, your first comic was Nostalgia which was a story greatly inspired by your life in music. As you went through the process of getting this book written, drawn, and published, what did you learn from the experience that prepared you for your next story? Was there anything about the process that surprised you?
SCOTT: I actually wrote Wag first oddly enough, but I can easily reverse this question. I think with Wag I wanted to see what I could do with something familiar to me as a consumer of comics and genre overall, and I chose one of my favorite landscapes: the post-apocalyptic world. I was very resistant to structure when I started, being someone more interested usually in a feeling (a very musical inclination I think), but I eventually realized that structure wasn’t a deterrence to evoking something in the reader; maybe quite the contrary. So I was surprised by how quickly I went from that avoidance to not only acceptance of structure, but also a real excitement about the history and importance of it as well as the challenges that come with it. I had the same experience in music: first resisting structure, then realizing (through some great mentorship) that it was more of a tool than a limitation.
I think I also was seeing writing as an escape from an industry that I had felt, in that moment, more and more disconnected from. When the idea for Nostalgia came along, I decided that I was ready, for whatever reason, to confront something closer to my experience but of course imagined with the same world-building desires I had with Wag. The creation of these books happened somewhat in tandem, so I learned a lot from both, and that has informed the many scripts I’ve written since.
Stories that Reflect the Writer
GVN: So, as you mentioned, your next published book (but first written) is a series called Wag, a post-apocalyptic journey not only through the world but through the main character’s head. What was the inspiration for this story and since you worked on WAG first, did both Wag and Nostalgia reflect you as you wrote them?
SCOTT: I was writing pretty furiously once I began, mostly because I really wanted to learn the process and also because realized I loved it. I think both of these stories are about me in many ways; I’m often times an introvert who deals with both negative and positive obsessions. Both of these books really are about obsessions.
What drove me to Wag specifically was an article I had read about the inner voice and about how, throughout time, humanity has had different feelings and understandings of what that voice was, whether it was a god, another person in our heads, etc. That mixed almost instantly with fears I had during the start of the pandemic. One in particular that I hadn’t considered before with post-apocalyptic scenarios (and one that I didn’t see addressed in much of the genre work I was familiar with): what happens when the pills are gone? What do so many people who depend on medication for balance and regulation do when those options disappear? And that’s how Wag was born.
Working with Talented Artists
GVN: You worked with talented artist Danijel Žeželj on Nostalgia and worked with the equally talented Juan Bobillo on Wag. How did these collaborations come together and how closely did you communicate with both Danijel and Juan. Did you just send them a script or was there an ongoing discussion as you both proceeded?
SCOTT: I’m not sure if the process was more a result of the pandemic, but both books were made remotely (Juan is in Argentina and Danjiel in Croatia) and without too much back and forth beyond our initial chats, where we looked at lots of references and talked about tone and general philosophy. Will Dennis (one of the editors) was friendly with both of these artists and huge fans of their work, and he recommended them both.
In terms of process, fortunately I was mentored by an artist, a very experienced and headstrong one at that, and thanks to him as well as guidance from two very experienced editors (Greg Lockard and Will Dennis), I was pushed very early on to give the artist freedom in order to get the best version of what they do. Both Danijel and Juan made that very easy. They are incredibly adaptable and accommodating but are also extremely confident artists whose skills I trusted as soon as it started coming to life. It turned out to be the process for both books that they were given completed scripts, did what they did, made changes if I thought they were necessary for story, but in the end were able to deliver mostly completed work that were adjusted mostly through lettering in the final stages.
GVN: So, with two series now under your belt, do you have some other ideas for future books? At least anything you are willing or able to share.
SCOTT: Great question, and I’m glad you asked. I have lots of finished scripts, and it was important to me to map out a future when I began to really take the writing seriously. My biggest fear was coming into a new industry as someone looking to stroke my ego or only dabble in what I consider to be a very serious medium. So yes, I have lots of ideas, lots of scripts, some more playful than others, some less sci-fi than others, but all in some way touching on genre. Taking on really different projects is what makes this fun for me and is a challenge I want to keep giving myself. I’d prefer to hold onto the element of surprise here, but fingers crossed there will be more tell soon in terms of my publishing future!
Working on a Mainstream Title
GVN: Thanks again for your time Scott. I want to close with a hypothetical question for you. You have created two personal stories for your initial efforts. Say that because of the success of these books, you are offered an opportunity to write for a mainstream comic character, whether it be from DC, Marvel, Image, etc. Who would you like to take on or would that even be an ambition for you?
SCOTT: I very much would love to write a mainstream comic, but there aren’t many whose storylines I would feel comfortable intruding on. I was never a huge superhero reader and was always looking for the stranger, more underground or quirky books and series. Not that I don’t enjoy superhero books, I’m just less familiar with them. That said, Vertigo has been such a touchstone, and I love the more episodic books like Hellblazer or Sandman. There are so many places those worlds can go, hopefully places where I don’t need to be familiar with a century of history to get right. And if anyone is looking for a REALLY dark, moody, futuristic, aloof and obsessive Batman, give me a call.
Wag, Issue 1 by Scott Hoffman, Juan Bobillo and Steve Wands is available now on ComiXology Originals.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 18 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.