Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Scott McCullar: Bringing the Thrills

Scott McCullar is a Professional Graphic Designer, Writer, and Visual Artist currently working for the Illinois State Board of Education as a Principal Consultant (Graphic Designer) in the Software Solutions Department. Outside of his day job, Scott is also the creator-owner of THRILL SEEKER COMICS™ ANTHOLOGY Pulp Action & Adventure Series featuring The Yellow Jacket: Man of Mystery™ that he writes and illustrates under his independent publishing banner named Bandito Entertainment™.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.  

I just recently released THRILL SEEKER COMICS ANTHOLOGY #1 through my label BANDITO ENTERTAINMENT. This creator-owned, self-published independent comic book series was decades in the making after many false starts and stops due to roadblocks in my personal life that are now overcome. 

THRILL SEEKER COMICS is a pulp action and adventure series featuring various interrelated stories told in a non-linear manner jumping around in different time periods about a ragtag group of heroes fighting evil in globe-spanning adventures on Earth-24 (as seen recently in INDIEVERISTY – A guidebook to the varied worlds of the independent comics multiverse). At the center of these two-fisted tales is the Dust Bowl-era vigilante known as THE YELLOW JACKET: MAN OF MYSTERY, who pursued by lawmen, is conscripted into THE STAR-SPANGLED SQUADRON to battle Axis Powers during the outbreak of World War II. Alongside THE EMERALD MANTIS and other colorful characters encountered, their enduring mission to fight crime, crush tyranny, and protect the world is carried on by a generation of successors. 

It was just over 20 years ago my series first appeared as a cornerstone feature in each and every one of the six issues of SHOOTING STAR COMICS ANTHOLOGY and a few other sister titles.  Now rebooted, THRILL SEEKER COMICS returns in this relaunch with all-new stories alongside reprints of the original tales that have newly remastered and restored artwork in full color in printed comic book anthology format. New heroes also join the fray in the first issue that includes several short stories in this same shared universe.  

This series was inspired by Golden Age, Silver Age, and Bronze Age classic comic books and newspaper comic strips. The films of Quentin Tarantino. The Coen Brothers, and a touch of Akira Kurosawa also influence the stories. The genres in this anthology include superheroes, pulp detective and mystery, martial arts, and war stories with dashes of romance and humor to be injected in the tales. 

Spinning out of the comic book, I’m also currently co-writing and illustrating a related online comic strip web series based on one of the brand-new characters from the anthology comic. She is a rookie private investigator in the early 1940’s. The webcomics series is called THRILL SEEKER COMICS PRESENTS MS. TITTENHURST: FINDER OF LOST THINGS about the divorced, red-headed Dame Detective from Texas who is also a college student. This feature and the comic strip were co-created and co-written with my wife Jennifer McCullar. 

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?  

Personal struggles. Family. Friendship. Pushing boundaries. Sly humor. Combative violence. Repentance. Revenge. Adventure. Trying to escape from personal matters. Interweaving fiction with history. 

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?  

I don’t view myself as a traditional writer though I’ve dabbled and written some fictional prose short stories here and there. Instead, I mainly moonlight on the side on and off as a comic book writer and comic artist. I don’t feel comfortable calling myself a professional writer as I would rather use the term ‘storyteller’ to identify myself as I combine writing and drawing together to tell stories. Plus, I like the term “Storyteller” and it is the title of a damn good Rod Stewart song collection. Every picture tells a story and for me it isn’t always words. 

What inspires you to write?  

I enjoy writing and drawing comics.  For me, creating comics is a bit of a release valve opening up all these stories out of my head to release and share them with others. My characters bounce around and talk to me in my head telling me stories that they want to share and let out in the world. I sometimes feel like I’m just transcribing events and bringing the visuals in my mind’s eye to view with the artwork. Hopefully I am entertaining a few folks along the way with the comic books and webstrips that I release. I think my life experiences and interests seep into my writing. I enjoy sharing and connecting with others with my work, but honestly, making comics is a creative and artistic expression done primarily to appease myself first and foremost and the audience second. Maybe that’s wrong of me, but it is my truth as to my satisfaction and why I do this. I love the creative process and seeing something tangible in front of me. 

What would be your dream project?  

When I was about to graduate from college around age 22, I wanted to become a comic book writer/artist with the goal of working for DC Comics. I especially wanted to write GREEN ARROW for DC Comics.  I worked hard at it. At age 32, I was given the opportunity for a few years to be and advisor to the writers and editor of the book, and just for one fleeting moment, I  wrote a story for GREEN ARROW SECRET FILE AND ORIGINS #1 (2002). For a brief time, I believed that DC Comics was going to hand off the monthly book to me after Kevin Smith and Brad Meltzer were done with their turns at bat, but instead, it went to Judd Winnick who held onto the writing chores for quite a while. That was my original dream project. 

I’m still thankful for the opportunity to have written that one GREEN ARROW comic that I felt hit the bull’s eye. Elements from that single story popped up in the ARROW television series that they borrowed from my writing. I’m proud of that. I even received a letter of thanks and a bonus check from DC Comics twenty years later for that. Again, I just wished that I had a long run on the book years ago, but I don’t imagine that will ever happen and I’m okay with that now.  

As for future dream projects… what I’m doing right now at age 52 with my THRILL SEEKER COMICS projects is my dream project that I am happy and content working on at the moment. Sure, I wish I could write, draw, and self-publish THRILL SEEKER COMICS as my only full-time job without the worries of having to keep a “day job”. I’m not there yet. I cannot do that financially with my bills that need to be paid, so working on these creator-owned stories is something that I do on the side on my own time and enjoy. 

I do want to take a stab at writing some pulp fiction novels in the future… probably start off with a few shorter novelettes to test the waters. I’d like to dabble in some of those pulp adventures in prose. 

I’d also like to work on Popeye as a writer/artist… or  I guess the term should be “cartoonist”. Sounds a little out there, but that was a dream that I has as a kid in elementary school. 

Other than that, my dream is to see that what I self-publish is well hopefully received and my readership grows.  

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?  

About 20 years ago, I wrote an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL that another artist illustrated (and actually Sean Taylor was the editor on).  And while that artist did a fine job, I wish I was the one who had illustrated it instead.  

Since A CHRISTMAS CAROL is in the public domain, perhaps one day if I have time, I just might self-publish a new version of this classic and illustrate it myself as it is one of my all-time favorite stories. 

What inspires you to write?

I really don’t ponder this question very much. I focus on putting out comic book stories and comic strips. For me, the storytelling is in both the script and artwork. I focus on that more as I’m handling both chores and trying to strike a balance that the written words will work hand-in-hand with the artwork to tell the proper story. I tell these stories out of enjoyment, passion, and the need to get them out of my head and put them out in the world. I’m not thinking about inspiration. It just comes to me. I’m concerned about finding the time to do the work. 

What writers have influenced your style and technique?  

The novels of Ian Fleming and Elmore Leonard greatly influenced my writing. Also movie script writers like Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers have also been major influences on my storytelling. Comic book writers that include Denny O’Neil, Chuck Dixon, Mike Grell, and James Robinson had a strong impact on me.  

To tie this in with the visual arts, I was inspired by those who could do both write and draw like Mike Grell (GREEN ARROW, WARLORD, JON SABLE) and Mike Mignola (HELLBOY) as well as some legendary newspaper comic strip creators like Milton Caniff (STEVE CANYON) and EC Segar (POPEYE) who did both chores. I wanted to be like them.  

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?  

I don’t think I’m qualified to answer that question. If I were to say what I’ve experienced… it is both an art and can also rely on formulas to some extent to work and thus be a science. I have kept in mind “rules to writing” that I’ve learned from writers such as Denny O’Neil, Chuck Dixon, Bud Sagendorf, and Elmore Leonard. I’ve read and listened to what they have had to say about writing and they’ve all sort of compiled checklists of do’s and don’t’s that I’ve found helpful. Those checklists seem to me to be more formula-driven science but it is also an art. 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?  

Time management for me. Finding time to write (and draw). I have a 40-hour-a-week “day job” and thus writing and drawing take place when I can find those select moments to work outside of my day job and family life. 

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?  

I’m inspired to see the passion and success of my writer friends. They inspire me to pursue my own creative passions and publish. I also occasionally bounce ideas off of them and they are my sounding boards when I seek private consultation. 

What does literary success look like to you?  

At this point in my life and with all the ups and downs that I have experienced, success for me is to follow through from start to finish on a project and have a tangible book in hand that also gets into the hands of others. If along the way I hear some positive feedback that someone enjoyed my work, then that feeds my soul and gives me the satisfaction that my work wasn’t done in vain. I no longer seek fame and wide recognition like I did in my youth when I was ready to take on the world. I had my Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame sometime around 2002. Those 15 minutes of fame are long over and I don’t need that again. Now I just want to enjoy peace in my life and to scratch some creative itches. 

 Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug? 

Currently, THRILL SEEKER COMICS ANTHOLOGY #1 was released during the holidays and is still available. You can purchase directly from me on my website and it will soon (any day now) be available as Print-on-Demand from IndyPlanet.com. Also, I am currently running a free online comic strip THRILL SEEKER COMICS web series that updates every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Again, the comic strip web series is co-written with my wife Jennifer.  

On May 1, 2024, I will be launching a Kickstarter Campaign for the 52-page THRILL SEEKER COMICS ANTHOLOGY #2 and a tie-in book THRILL SEEKER COMICS ADVENTURES #1 featuring the first collected MS. TITTENHURST: FINDER OF LOST THINGS web series “Case of the Missing Guitar”. If all goes well, THRILL SEEKER COMICS ANTHOLOGY #3 and THRILL SEEKER COMICS ADVENTURES #2 will be available for Thanksgiving 2024. The online comic web strips featuring the Dame Detective will also run weekly all year long in 2024. All are self-published through my label Bandito Entertainment. I also have a “secret” non-Thrill Seeker Comics project that I recently began working on that I’m aiming to release in January 2025. 

For more information, visit: 

My personal website is located at www.ScottMcCullar.com.  

The official website for my comic series is www.ThrillSeekerComics.com with links to our online store, additional information, the online comic strip, and has an onramp to our official Facebook page where I hope you will like and follow us there, too. 

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