Hello! My name is Justin Gray, and I'm a graphic novelist, author, and have written hundreds of comic books for some of the biggest publisher's in the world. Issue 2 of my Survival/Horror-Sci-Fi series Standstill is on Kickstarter! Ask Me Anything.

Justin Gray
Nov 10, 2017

STANDSTILL #2 is the Second Chapter of the mature readers Sci-fi Horror Comic Book that follows the survivors of a global pandemic.

As a writer, sometimes horrible little ideas creep into my head. With Standstill, I imagined what would happen if most of the world's population suddenly stopped moving. Trapped in our bodies we would slowly starve. That in itself is horrible, but I wondered what might happen next.

The larger idea that followed was born from the fact that I live sandwiched between a major American prison and a nuclear power plant. The campaign to fund issue #2 is currently live Here on Kickstarter 

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Nov 10, 4:18PM EST0

Nov 10, 4:16PM EST0

How did you find your inspiration?

Nov 10, 12:39PM EST0

In a comic about Spider-Man.

Nov 10, 3:59PM EST0

How long have you been a graphic novelist and where did you get ypur training from? 

Nov 10, 8:18AM EST0

I started working professionally in 2001. I'm largely self-taught and although I have taken a few creative writing courses I began writing at a young age. Much of my training came from rejection letters and reading, reading, reading. 

Nov 10, 10:41AM EST0

From where do you get your sci-fi inspiration to create events and characters? Do you have to read another novel or watch a movie for that?

Nov 10, 2:29AM EST0

You can certainly find inspiration in the work of others and other media like film and TV, but it can also make the writing or ideas too derivative. I believe the more you read and consume material from all different places the more likely you are to develop interesting ideas. I tend to be curious about almost everything. That curiosity drives me to read fiction, non-fiction, biographies, science journals and so on.

The analogy I use is that all of these things you see, hear, read, people you meet, conversations you have or overhear are ingredients for storytelling. If you have a wide array of these ingredients on hand eventually when inspiration strikes you can mix and blend those ingredients into a cohesive idea. 

With my book Standstill, the initial idea was born from an irrational fear of being trapped inside my own body unable to move, speak or do anything. From there it continued to expand outward as I asked myself questions about why this might happen, what would happen to the world after and so on. 

Nov 10, 5:47AM EST0

Are these comic books for children?

Nov 9, 4:27PM EST0

The majority of comic books that I've worked on are not meant for children, which is what inspired me to write a book called The Adventures of Penelope Hawk. Because my daughter isn't old enough to read a lot of what I write I wrote a book specifically aimed at her age group.

Nov 10, 5:37AM EST0

What themes do you pursuit?

Nov 9, 12:19PM EST0

I like to explore many different themes and I also enjoy tackling several different genres from science fiction to westerns to literary character studies and historical fiction to name a few. I've most recently challenged myself with writing a book that is full of action where violence can never solve conflict among the characters - the theme being that violence is not the answer to life's problems. 

Nov 9, 4:07PM EST0

How old were you when you started writing?

Nov 9, 12:14PM EST0

I believe I was 12 or 13 when I started writing really bad stories about Conan the Barbarian. 

Nov 9, 4:03PM EST0

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Nov 9, 12:12PM EST0

Hopefully writing successful novels. Also, living someplace warm. 

Nov 9, 4:04PM EST0

How long have you worked with comic books?

Nov 9, 11:16AM EST0

I've been working professionally since 2001. 

Nov 9, 11:32AM EST0

Are your comic books in stores in your country?

Nov 9, 10:26AM EST0

Yes, some are in stores and available digitally on Comixology.

Nov 9, 10:34AM EST0

Are you going to sell your comics on line?

Nov 9, 10:23AM EST0

I do currently have comics for sale online at Paperfilms, Comixology and I also have books available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Nov 9, 10:41AM EST0

Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

Nov 9, 10:21AM EST0

That's a good question and I don't know that there is one person that has impacted my life more than my daughter.  I was an extremely selfish person prior to becoming a parent, but my worldview has changed so dramatically in my role as a father. I find it terrifying and incredibly satisfying at the same time. 

Nov 10, 4:14PM EST0

What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you?

Nov 9, 10:18AM EST0

While I'm primarily a writer, last year I made an attempt to digitally paint two artist's line work and lettered multiple stories using both photoshop and illustrator. When I assemble the art as a print ready file I used Adobe InDesign. Other than that I use Microsoft word. 

Nov 9, 10:23AM EST0

Have you ever written something so risky, so daring, you were scared it was either the most brilliant or most stupid idea you'd ever come up with? What was it and what did you decide to do with it?

Nov 9, 10:13AM EST0

I don't know if I could ever consider something I write to be brilliant because I tend to see my mistakes and weaknesses in hindsight.  I might be really excited the moment of writing something and consider it clever, but reality has a way of grounding me. I've had a number of stupid or half-baked ideas. Those are unavoidable. You throw out the trash in a manner of speaking. I do think I have this dumb idea that I love and I'm working with an artist on it now. It is a book about talking animals in the old west, but it is not for kids - it is definitely for adults. I think doing a foul-mouthed talking animal comic is risky, but I have to try for the fun of it. 

Nov 9, 10:28AM EST0

What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

Nov 9, 9:15AM EST0

I think the actual writing when I'm in that state of mind where the only thing I'm focused on is living in another world and watching characters come to life. 

Nov 9, 9:28AM EST0

When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics as a career?

Nov 9, 3:33AM EST0

I had been working as a chef for a number of years in restaurants all over the country and after a while, I started hating it. One day I decided to give up everything I was doing and to focus on comics. I'd had several half-hearted attempts at transitioning to a career in writing, but that was when I resolved to do everything imaginable to get write comics professionally. 

Nov 9, 9:31AM EST0

Do you have other comics?

Nov 8, 10:28PM EST0

Yes, I have worked for several companies like Marvel and DC, but I've also self-published a number of books. The most recent publication was released yesterday published by Adaptive Books and is exclusive to Barnes and Noble: Called THE KNIGHTS OF YORK

Nov 9, 9:35AM EST0

Do you think young generations are interested in comic books?

Nov 8, 6:47PM EST0

If you're speaking to American comics I think they would be if they had more choices in content and a cheaper price point to enter. I know there are several highly successful graphic novelists producing award-winning work in children's sequential fiction. Raina Telgemeier has an extremely successful line of books and there are also a handful of imprints at large publishers producing comics that can appeal to children. I think the ease and availability of popular superheroes being on TV and in theaters have very little crossover to actual monthly superhero comics featuring those same characters. 

Nov 9, 9:40AM EST0

How did you come up with the caracters?

Nov 8, 6:37PM EST0

Generally speaking, I start with familiar elements and personality types of people I've met or people around me. I tend to observe people and pick up on their personality traits, overhear stories or engage them directly in ways that reveal who they are and what motivates them. Often I see things in extremes and exaggerations so you take the reality of a person and then use it as a springboard. From that, it becomes something of an exercise in role-playing within the rules I've established for any given character. In other instances when you're writing a known figure like Batman, you have decades of material to reference. 

Nov 9, 9:46AM EST0
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