In part two, Beau talks about seeing the show, becoming a professional writer, and invites fans’ suggestions. If you missed part one of this interview, it’s called: “Wynonna Earp’s creator spills some beans”.
Featured image: Beau Smith signing cast books at Wondercon 2016 (Supplied by Beau Smith)
L: How does it feel for you to see Wynonna “come to life”, being portrayed on TV?
B: Lyanna, I will not lie, I’m like a kid with a never-ending Christmas morning. The first time I saw one of the actresses in the first audition reels say “Wynonna Earp, U.S. Marshal.” I got the classic goosebumps. It really hit home when I was in Calgary on location, filming, and seeing Melanie, Tim, Dominique, Shamier, Michael, Katherine and Rayisa [Kondracki] acting as the characters, I kinda looked around to see if anyone was going to toss me off set, it was too good and too fun to be real, I felt like a 12 year old kid. I’d use the word “Giddy” but that word hardly fits a guy as ugly as me.
Melanie Scrofano, as Wynonna Earp has been the best gift I could ever dream of. Melanie is a very special person as well as a talented actress. She has taken the original core of what I created with Wynonna, meshed that with the TV version of what Emily has created and then evolved into a better than perfect Wynonna Earp. Melanie has such incredible timing, not only with humor, but with all the ranges of emotion that she called upon to use. Her quiet moments as Wynonna are not only scene stealing, but she also brings out the very best in whoever she is working with in the scene. Wynonna Earp and Melanie Scrofano were made for each other.
L: Wynonna Earp seems to be a redemption story, for several characters. What are the key messages that you hope this show gives viewers?
B: Without getting preachy, I really hope among all the monsters, the humor, and the action, that people with real lives that have real flaws, like we all do, find a piece of Wynonna Earp in their own lives that gives them the hope that, “Yeah, I’ve messed up, but I’ve learned as well, and maybe, yeah, maybe, I can keep myself from becoming just another sad song about poor choices.” Fiction isn’t real life, but it can reflect it to where we see our own mistakes and not repeat them.
L: When did drawing stories become a career choice, and how hard was it to make it a career?
B: I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. About 9th grade, I realized that my art had gone as far as it would ever go, so I focused more on my writing. The writing came to me naturally. I remember telling stories when I was only five, some may have called them lies, but I always stuck with stories. (That’ll keep you from doing jail time.) It was a career choice for me since third grade. We all had to get up in front of the class and tell what we wanted to be when we grew up, Back then, most boys wanted to be an astronaut or a cowboy. I said I wanted to write comic books. My second choice was a milkman, I thought nothing would be better than to get up really early, drive around in a cool truck and drink chocolate milk all day.
My teacher told me that there was no future in writing “funny books” and that I should try and write for a newspaper or a magazine. I saw no future in that, heck if you did that, you had to tell the truth, I wanted to make stuff up. Being from a small town in West Virginia, there was little hope of landing a job with one of the major publishers in New York, but writing was something that I never stopped doing, I couldn’t. Storytelling is something that was hardwired into me. Can’t explain it, not smart enough to try.
I didn’t break into the comic book business until late. Most get in quite early, I didn’t until I was in my early 30’s. I was married, had a son, a regular job in marketing and sales, but I always made time to write, even if it was just 10 minutes, I made the time. I had always meant to submit my work, but regular life kept me busy and I didn’t. Everybody has different motivation triggers, mine was a brick wall, a few later, I was divorced, not living with my son and working a dead end job. One evening, I was outside of my job, sitting on the tailgate of my truck and it hit me, this was not what I wanted to do. I decided that if I were to make that third grade dream come true of writing comic books, then now was the time. The next day, I started moving forward.
There was no internet in the mid-80’s, no way to really make contacts except through snail mail and the phone, (Land Line) so that’s what I did. Every time I bought a comic book, I would read it and then sit down at the typewriter, (not many, if any, had computers then) and write a letter of comment to the editors of the book. I would try and be entertaining, constructive in opinions of the book and I also signed my full name Stephen Scott Beau Smith. I had to set myself apart from others that were writing letters, I had to market myself, self-promote myself. I was the only product I had, so I had to sell Beau Smith. Stan Lee did it when I was growing up reading Marvel Comics. He sold Stan Lee, and if you liked Stan Lee, then more than likely, you like and buy Marvel Comics. I started going to comic book conventions, meeting editors as well as other creators, making contacts, networking. Editors began recognizing me as “The Guy With Four Names”. As corny as that may have been, it worked. Soon they started sending me advance copies of books asking me to write letters for them, the also began asking me if I had ever thought of writing comics. BANG! First door open, my boot went in quickly.
At the same time, through my times at conventions, I met artist/writer Tim Truman, a fellow West Virginian native that was doing comic books for Eclipse Comics, a very independent, cutting edge publisher out of the northern California. They were in need of a marketing person. Tim knew that my day job was sales and marketing, he knew I was also an aspiring writer, he suggested to me that I talk to the publisher, Dean Mullaney about the job opening. I did, and a month later, I was working for Eclipse. That began my education into publishing and comic books. It also opened the door for my writing. That was 30 years ago and they haven’t tossed me out of the party yet. I’ve written everything from Batman, Star Wars, Wolverine, Spawn, Guy Gardner Warrior, and for every major publisher there is.
Like the professional sports or the film industry, breaking into comic books is not an easy thing. You not only have to be creative with your writing you need to be creative with how you present yourself. A lot of creative people just want to write or to draw, that’s not enough these days, you have to sell yourself as a brand as well. Relationships are harder to cultivate these days, you’d think with the internet and social media it would be easier, but it’s not, there a lot more people trying to grab that brass ring. (I never understood what you’d want with a brass ring. It should be a million dollars.) Most of all, as a writer, make sure you have something to say and a way for your characters to say it even better.
L: What question(s) do you wish I’d asked, and what’s the answer?
B: You’ve asked some very interesting questions that have covered just about anything a person would wanna know, and more about me that they’d ever wanna know. 🙂 As most of my friends will attest, ask me a question and I tend to get diarrhea of the mouth. It’s hard to shut me up. There’s a question I get asked a lot, and I don’t think I really have the answer to it. The question is “Where do you get your ideas?” The answer is, I don’t really know, because when I think about that, I usually figure I’m just flat out nuts. Ideas will come to me in the shower, walking the dog and in other really weird situations where writing is the last thing on my mind. It’s like I’m living life, and all of a sudden my brain cuts in to remind me I should be creating, that it’s not getting enough stimulus and it wants something imaginative. That’s why I always carry a notebook and a pen. It’s best to write it down fresh, even if it doesn’t make much sense at the time. I’ve had situations where a bit of dialogue will pop in my head, just a line, and I will end up writing a whole book around that one bit of dialogue. I’ll hear a song, and it won’t be the lyrics that inspire me, it’ll be the mood of the music, that will bring forth a scene and from that scene, a story will be told. I also find those to be the most satisfying.
Editors and other writers will cringe in horror when they hear that most of the time, I just make these stories up as I go. No real outlines, blue cards, no multiple drafts, or long bounce back discussions. I just make it up. It’s like I’m writing stories in a Twitter format. It has worked for me all my life. I love working with an artist, we add layers to a story together. That’s an incredible high, I’ve also co-written with other writers, most notably, Chuck Dixon of Batman and Punisher fame, I love that, but I also think most writers are lone wolf types that enjoy being alone in that room or whatever landscape makes the words flow. I love sharing the end product with readers and the greatest reward is having someone else enjoy it and “get” it. That keeps me from thinking I truly am a nutbar.
L: Where can we buy Wynonna Earp comics? Is there merchandise too? (I’d quite like that ‘Athena’ necklace!)
B: Wynonna Earp comic books can be bought wherever they sell comic books world-wide. The comic shop locator number is also very useful http://www.comicshoplocator.com/Home/1/1/57/575 Amazon and other online services can also put the printed pages in your hands as well.
I’ve spoken with Ted Adams, CEO of IDW Publishing as well as David Ozer, President of IDW Entertainment, and they are wide open to Wynonna Earp Merchandise. From a business and marketing end, I think we’ll see all sorts of Merch in the near future for Wynonna.
I would ask readers, viewers and fans to let IDW know what they would like to see as far as merchandise. I know from my POV, being a ball cap aficionado, I’d love to see a Wynonna Earp ball Cap. Like you mentioned, Lyanna, I know a lot of folks that would LOVE to have an “Athena” necklace or a Wynonna Leather jacket.
Thank you so much for the great questions on Wynonna Earp, other than me, she’s my favourite subject. 🙂 I appreciate you taking the time to listen to my wild ramblings and if I could entertain you for just a minute, then my day is made.
If you want to follow up on that invitation to request/inspire Wynonna Earp merchandise, IDW Entertainment can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about Beau and his work at www.flyingfistranch.com
Wynonna Earp is on Syfy in the USA on Fridays 10pm/9c and on CHCHTV in Canada on Mondays at 9pm
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