Written by: Ron Bricker
At this year’s New York Comic Convention I was given the chance to interview one of DC’s newest writers, Sterling Gates. Gates most recently spent some time with the Green Lantern Corps books and will be playing a role in Final Crisis. How large or small, Gates declined to comment. In fact, he couldn’t really tell me much of anything in terms of upcoming content. But that’s DC for ya!
Bellow you’ll find my interview with Sterling Gates; which turned, quickly, into a conversation. Gates is a great guy and I look forward to reading more of his stories. He actually approached me during day 1 of the convention, looking to make small talk about pretty much nothing. An awesome guy to talk to, I hope you folks enjoy our conversation as much as I did.
CC2K Comics: I just recently read your interview with Vaneta Rogers from Newsarama ; seriously, I’ve never been more jealous in my entire life. But I’m curious, now that you’ve made it and are on the inside, do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Sterling Gates: Be really good? [laughs] Luck is also a big factor. [laughs] For a lot of creators, it’s just putting the work in and knowing your stuff, followed by being in the right place at the right time. Who you know opens doors, but it’s what you know that keeps you inside.
CC2K: Is it difficult writing comics?
SG: Yes. [laughs] You have to be sure to convey to the artist exactly what you want them to draw. And for me, that can be very hard. I’m trained as a visual artist, I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art, and so I’m trained to convey information visually, rather than descriptively. Translating what’s in my head into a Word document in such a way that anyone who reads it says, “Oh, okay, he wants this…,” for me, has been one of the biggest hurdles to get over.
CC2K: Do you ever actually get a chance to just sit with the artists during the process?
SG: No. The pencilers I’ve worked with so far all live in different parts of the world. I live in L.A., Nelson lives here [in New York], I think, Joe Prado lives in Brazil… this is really the only time I get to see and hang out with these guys, at conventions. I had never met Joe before at all, we had just chatted online and through emails.
CC2K: How about everyone you’ve met in DC Comics, good guys?
SG: Oh yeah, they’re all great. Good people to work with and work for.
CC2K: How about working with Geoff Johns?
SG: Geoff is awesome, he’s an awesome boss.
CC2K: You’re his assistant, right?
SG: That’s my day job, sure.
CC2K: Whoa, wait… day job? When do you have time to write?
SG: [laughs] I write during down time at work. I write at night, whenever I get a break.
CC2K: Work long days?
SG: Yeah, they’re long. I normally get into the office at 9 and head home around 8.
CC2K: Wow! What, do you get home and go straight to bed?
SG: No, I get home and hang out with my girlfriend, you know, we play Xbox, have dinner or watch a movie or whatever and then I’m in bed around 1. Then I get up and do it all over again. Honestly, the worst part of my day is the commute. I live seven miles from the office, but it still takes 45 minutes to get there through LA traffic. It’s horrible.
CC2K: What Xbox games are you playing?
SG: Right now, Call of Duty 4. I just got Rainbow Six: Las Vegas 2, but I haven’t really had time to play it. It’s all been CoD4. I play a lot of Hardcore Team Deathmatch. Before that, I was on Halo 3 pretty much constantly.
CC2K: Halo 3 really just pales in comparison.
SG: It does, but, if you go back and play Halo multiplayer after CoD 4, your abilities are a lot better! You learn, on CoD4, to think and move so fast that it’s like everyone in Halo is moving in slow-mo.
CC2K: So… you’re like the Flash?
SG: Yeah, you’re Wally West with a Battle Rifle! [laughs] Exactly. You should go back and try it.
CC2K: I actually traded Halo 3 in.
SG: Really!?! Well, the story, I had trouble with the story.
CC2K: What about Halo 2, did you like that story?
SG: I don’t know… they just kept switching back and forth with the Arbiter so much… I just kinda lost interest.
CC2K: They name drop a lot too, like you are just supposed to know that kind of stuff.
SG: I actually have a good friend who reads the extended universe books, and he said they really help the Cortana-Master Chief relationship make sense and I’ve really been talking about Halo for way too long.
CC2K: [laughs] We need to get back on track! I know what you’re going to say, but what’s coming next for you?
SG: I can’t tell you.
CC2K: Do you have anything that you want to pitch to DC in the future?
CC2K: Like what?
SG: [laughs] I can’t tell you.
CC2K: How about a time frame for when you are going to start your own project?
SG: I so can’t tell you that, either…Soon! Soon!
CC2K: I had to try. Are you ever going to try to do some more original stuff, like creator owned graphic novels or series stuff?
SG: I’d love to. I’ve got a great idea for a horror comic I’d love to do that’s sort of a thematic sequel to this Fifties horror movie called The Blob that needs a publisher. So if anyone’s looking, drop me a line! [laughs] I’ve also got a children’s OGN I’d love to do, too, I just don’t know when I’ll have time to write it!
CC2K: Are you going to be playing a big role in Final Crisis?
SG: Me, personally? No. I’m not in Final Crisis. [laughs] However, the Alpha Lanterns are going to be playing a big role…In fact, I just got off of an arc in Green Lantern Corps (issues 21 and 22) starring one of the Alpha Lanterns, and the Alpha Corps is going to be a big, big deal in Final Crisis. I set up some stuff in that arc that’ll feature in Final Crisis, too, so people just might want to give it another look.
CC2K: How was it doing the Secret Files stuff?
SG: Oh man, isn’t that a great book? It’s awesome. That was six months of my life, doing all the research and writing that book, and I think it turned out terrifically.
CC2K: Did you read DC Comics before you got into this?
SG: Absolutely. DC Comics were my favorite. My parents owned a comic store, and when we were growing up, my brother Alex was the Marvel kid and I was the DC kid. The Flash TV show came on when I was probably 9, and I was so drawn to John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen Flash that I started reading Flash constantly. I’ve been a huge Flash fan since then.
CC2K: Do you do a lot of research for the stories you write?
SG: Y’know, I did do a lot of research for my story arc in Corps. Though having already researched the Secret Files, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. Boodikka of Bellatrix had a bunch of appearances to reread, and I kind of adjusted things other people had done that I thought made her weak or come off as stereotypical. My take on her as a Bellatrix Bomber is very different from anyone else’s, but I think it’s a more pure take on the character and unifies with how she’s been portrayed the last few years.
CC2K: Didn’t Vaneta call your take on her ‘sick’?
SG: Oh, no, that was Kryb! In that story I did in Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime! Yeah, Kryb is very, very sick, but she’s such an amazing character.
CC2K: Do you want to return to that character again?
SG: I would love to! I think they have plans for her, but I’m not completely sure. I want to see those characters I created in Superman-Prime Special, [Green Lanterns] Matoo and Amnee Pree, go after Kryb. And we did kind of seed the idea in Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps: Secret Files that [Green Lanterns] KT-21 and Matoo and Amnee are going after Kryb. I love the idea that the Green Lanterns with children go after the kidnapping Sinestro Corps member to take her down before she goes after their children. That makes total sense to me. It would be great if someone, [leans into the mic with a booming voice] Peter Tomasi, were to pick up on that thread in Green Lantern Corps and run with it, though.
CC2K: From before… DC Universe, I’d say, best character is Wally West.
SG: People would argue Dick Grayson. There’s an argument there.
CC2K: If you wanted to actually hang out with one character in real life, who would it be?
SG: I’d actually hang out with Robin. Tim Drake Robin. I bet he’s got some awesome stories about Batman.
CC2K: Would he be able to tell you that he knows Batman?
SG: Pfft. I already know Tim Drake is Robin… he would totally fail at hiding it.
CC2K: ‘I may have written you,’ kinda thing.
SG: Yeah, and then it turns into a Grant Morrison Animal Man scene! Grant is amazing, though, absolutely amazing. One of the best writers DC has. He and Geoff are firing on all cylinders right now.
CC2K: I’m really looking forward to Morrison’s Final Crisis.
SG: Dude, Final Crisis is going to be huge. I think Final Crisis is going to be giant. It’s got Grant Morrison at the helm and J. G. Jones drawing it. I don’t think you can really go wrong with that combination. In fact, I guarantee you that after every issue, you’re going to have to go out and buy new socks.
CC2K: [laughs] Why?
SG: Because month after month, Final Crisis is going to blow them right off of you.