Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Meet a Local Comics Writer: Shawn Padraic Murphy

I met Shawn Padraic Murphy at Awesome Con this spring. He writes comic book scripts and hires artists to illustrate them. As a college student also did a webcomic, Wesleyan World. He's currently writing a series of blog posts How Not To Make Money In Comic Books. He promptly answered my usual questions (and as usual I'm much less prompt in posting them).

Mike Rhode: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I am a writer, and work with artists to make my comic books.

Mike Rhode: How do you do it?  How did you find an artist for your books? What kind of script do you provide?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: When I first started, it was a chance meeting with a grad school friend who was already working on a comic book for a friend and was interested in doing another one, and we worked together on a script I had already written.  But to start working on more comics, I was sort of at a lose (espcially since I graduated and had just moved to the Baltimore/DC area 1 year prior).  I met someone who told me about DigitalWebbing.Com and how they had a forum just for writers that were trying to hire artists.  I sumbitted a description of 3 different titles I needed work on, and placed the ad up for 3 days (what was recommended).  Then, after 3 days, I closed the forum and looked over the 120 submissions I had.  That took a while sifting through them all to find a style that matched the story I wanted to tell.  Since then, however, I've hired my artists throug the con scene by hoarding business cards and entering their name and website into a database so I can look for artists that match the type of storying I'm trying to tell quickly when I have a new project.

page-7I've always used a script that breaks down the panels and describes in detail what's happening in each scene and panel.  In only one comic (Strength) have I ever just summed up what was happening on the page without panels and left the panel layout and number of panels to the artist, but I think that kind of format is rare.

Mike Rhode: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I was raised in Scott Depot, WV in 1982.

Mike Rhode: Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: After I obtained my MFA in Creative Writing, I needed to move from Southampton, NY, as there was nothing there you could do in terms of jobs unless you were a contruction worker, retail, or had money to buy mansions.  Luckily, I happen to have a friend in Baltimore that needed a roommate soon, and Baltimore and DC were close enough that it seemed it would be easier to find a job with 2 different cities close by (this was 2007, by the way; less than a year before the recession, and before MFA's now meant basically nothing).

Mike Rhode: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I had an undergrad degree in English & Psychology at West Virginia Weslyan College at Buckhannon, WV, then went to Southampton College (now closed) in Southampton, NY and got an MFA in Creative Writing, which I thought would help get me writing or editing jobs for magazines or corporations.  Unfortunately, the recession hit less than a year after I graduated and business started not to care about writing as a whole and I couldn't find anything, despite having an MFA.  Luckily, I did find a job eventually (not writing related), so I could actually have funds to pay artists to draw for my comics.

Mike Rhode: What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I've attended many conventions now, such as Small Press Expo, Baltimore Comic Con, SPACE, HeroesCon, and AwesomeCon.  I'll be attending Intervention for the first time this year (and hopefully Otakon; I'm going to be attending more Anime conventions next year).  I find that anime and indi comic places are good to sell comics and meet with other artists and writers, but found that the big superhero cons like Baltimore Comic Con usually only contain people who want to meet celebrities or buy fan art, so I don't try to go to those often.

Mike Rhode: Who are your influences?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I got into comics with The Death of Superman, but stayed around because of the Spider-Man Clone Saga.  I really liked serialized storytelling then.  As I grew up, though, I found out about a lot more mature and serious works and realized you could do more than just superheroes.  I really enjoyed the indi comics I discovered in the early 2000s that covered virtually every subject they wanted (you couldn't find those in WV when I was growing up; there was no internet info about them, and all the comic stores closed in 1996, leaving mail-order the only way to read comics).  When I write my comics, I try to ask myself for each project if this is different than something else I've read or seen, because I want to create something new and exciting for people to experience the way I enjoyed discovering different types of stories as a kid.

What work are you best-known for?

PhotobucketShawn Padraic Murphy: At conventions, the comic book I am most known for is "The End" a series that focuses on how regular people deal with the coming end of the world in 7 days.  Each issue has 2, stand-alone, stories.  People enjoy the series for the variety of the stories.  Plus, each issue has a different theme, so people can start with a theme they like on any issue, rather than starting from the begining like in most other comics.

Mike Rhode: What work are you most proud of?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I'm actually proud of them all, because I like the fact that I can write such completely different stories and be able to show that I can write anything (I hope that's not just my ego talking).  I have a slice-of-life anthology (The End), a mature superhero story that addresses our societies double-standard concering nudity and shaming (Strength), an experimental diary comic (Displacement), and an all-age fantasy (Mechanaflux). 

Mike Rhode: What would you like to do or work on in the future?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I already have the next 3 comics planned that I want to work on.  I'm working on a superhero/romance comic right now with an artist.  I've written another all-ages comic and a completely different fantasy comic, but those last two are only finished at the script stage as I'm trying to finish up the comics I am already currently working on.

Mike Rhode: What do you think will be the future of your field?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I'm not sure.  I know that local printers and easy access to technology have made it easier to make my comics in print.  I'm hoping digital comics makes it easier to get your comics out to the public since everyone is connected throug the pad and phones now.

Mike Rhode: Do you have a website or blog?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: My website is  My "Comics" tab contains links to descriptions of my comics and preview art, as well as links to purchase my comics. I also have some video reviews, comedy skits, video game reviews, and recently I posted a short novella about playing a video game as if I was that character; I pretty much like to write and create anything.

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