Interview: Sean McKeever

This interview was done through emails in January 2004

Matthieu-David: Which artists influenced you the most ? And what are your influences in general ?

Sean McKeever.:  Which artists? Interesting, never got that one before. I suppose any artists who have a strong command of layout and a striking style, like John Romita Jr, Bryan Hitch, Sean Phillips, Steve Dillon, J.G. Jones, Frank Quitely, David Lapham.

John Romita JR

Bryan Hitch

J.G. Jones

Frank Quitely


Matthieu-David: by "Artists I also meant  : " penciler, writers, painters", Artists in a more general way ( sorry about my bad english )

To one extent or another, my comics-writer influences include Paul Jenkins, Warren Ellis, Kurt Busiek, J.M. DeMatties, Garth Ennis, Roger Stern, David Lapham and Frank Miller.


M-D: Is there an artist you would you love to work with ? (writer, inker or colourist )

S.M.:All the ones listed above, obviously, plus (off the top of my head) Adi Granov, Walt Simonson, Tim Seeley...sorry, nothing else springs to mind right now. But there are plenty I'd like to work with. And I'd love to work with Mike Norton and Jason Alexander again.


M-D: On which comic book would you like to work or is there a specific character that you would like to work on ( can even be a dream project )?

S.M.: I used to say it was Spider-Man, and I still do depending on how the question's phrased, but now I don't know that there's a "holy grail" for me in terms of a character of title. I mean, yes, getting to write an issue of Amazing Spider-Man would blow my mind, but it's not like I'm dreaming up Spidey stories in my spare time. I'd rather spend that time either sewing the seeds for future work (where I wouldn't be trying to kick someone else off a book to get the gig) or pursuing creator-owned material.

As far as a dream project...I wouldn't mind orchestrating one of those big Secret Wars-type books for Marvel. I also have several dream projects that are creator-owned properties that I hope I one day have the time and luxury to develop.

M-D: What type of script do you write ? Highly detailed ones or very short ?

S.M.: I used to write more detailed full scripts. Usually when it's a new series I get more detailed, but as I get comfy with the series and the artist the verbosity tends to dwindle to one- and two-sentence panels a lot of the
time. I just want to concisely and accurately communicate the story and the panels to the artist. I don't want to make the artist wade through unnecessary excess


M-D: You worked with Paul Jenkins on the Hulk : can you tell us what are the advantages and disadvantages( if there are any ) of writing with someone ?

S.M.: The advantage can be that it takes a bit of the load off your shoulders, maybe frees you up a little to pursue other work or play catch-up or whatever. For a novice writer, a definite advantage is that working with
 someone who's established and producing regular work is a great learning experience.
As far as disadvantages, there can be a loss of clarity to the work because of the two voices involved in the writing, especially if one or both are used to working alone. It can actually make for more work as you try to fit
 your voice into someone else's ideas.


M-D: is there a title you would be very embarrassed to write ?

S.M.: Not that I can think of off the top of my head.

M-D: Have you noticed any storytelling changes  since you started writing  ?

S.M.:  It seems the one- and two-part story is a rare creature these days. Sometimes that's for the best, and sometimes not, depending on what the writer's trying to accomplish. The art of telling a story of some sort every
issue seems to have gone by the wayside. When there's a four-part or six-part story, I think it's important to view each of these individual chapters as a unit unto itself in some respects, because it is a unit unto itself, you know? It's a single issue of a periodical.

I suppose I can blame myself for this problem with SENTINEL, where each arc is an arc with some natural breaks but nothing all that standalone from issue to issue. But, to me, that's what the story called for: the
never-ending serial type of storytelling. It wouldn't have worked another way, in my opinion. Whereas with INHUMANS I was pretty well able to give a satisfying single issue from chapter to chapter, but that's always easier, I think, with an ensemble cast.


M-D: What do you think of the increase of length of a story to make it more suitable for a trade paperback release ? It seems to happen more and more lately.  

S.M.: I think it's done a lot less often than fandom tends to believe. Many of these complaints, to me, are made over stylistic and atmospheric choices  that the creators have made--subtle pacing choices that put more focus on
 absorbing character and tone (or properly showcasing an artist like, say, Frank Quitely on New X-Men) than on getting the story over with as quickly  as possible. It's not intentionally drawing a story out.

I think that, if a writer does increase the length of a story to make it graphic novel-friendly, then the writer has a responsibility to thicken the story rather than split each page into two pages and make liberal use of splash pages.
I also think the interest in collecting serialized comics into graphic novels has created a whole new writing discipline where the writer is now writing for two formats. One is a monthly serial, and the other is either a
 stand-alone graphic novel or a graphic novel serial. It's a tricky thing to master. Brian Bendis is the king of simultaneously writing for both.


M-D: If you hadn’t worked in comics, what would you have done for a living ?

S.M.: Well, pretending that comicbook writing just wouldn't be an option for me for whatever reasons, I'd probably still be working as a web designer and feeling miserable and stressed. And I probably would be writing spec screenplays.


M-D: "spec screeplays" ? What are those ?

S.M.: That's a screenplay one writes "on spec", meaning it's written without prior  interest from a studio. You write it and hope to either sell it or use it as a showcase to get studios to hire you for other scripts. Something like


M-D: If you were a comic book character, who would you be ? and why ?

S.M.: I don't think I'd like to be any of them, honestly. I like myself okay.


M-D: What’s your favourite movie ?

S.M.: A single favorite? That's a tough call. One flick I can never seem to get enough of is Swingers.


M-D:  speaking of movies, what do you think of the scripts of some of the recent comic book adaptations into films ?

S.M.: Like with anything else, some are great, some blow, and some are meh. I really enjoyed Ghost World, Spider-Man (despite some major hokeyness) and X2.


M-D: Could you describe your typical day ?

S.M.: I get up as early as I can without the alarm clock, watch some CNN over breakfast, work out, maybe do some work, maybe go ice skating, then I either work from home or run out to the local Starbucks with the notepad. Spend WAY too much time on the internet, rip CDs for my MP3 player--that's quite a project. I have hundreds of CDs, and I'm at Killing Joke - Pandemoneum now. Watch some TV, or whatever else to procrastinate. Maybe do some work in the evening, but rarely, then go to bed around midnight or one.
Really exciting, I know.


M-D: What’s your favourite song ?  

S.M.: Right this minute, it's "If I Ever Recover" by Basement Jaxx.


M-D: Do you use music as an inspiration for your writing ?

S.M.: Absolutely. Music is vital for getting the juices flowing and for developing the proper pacing and atmosphere in my work.

M-D: What’s your favourite book ?

S.M.: I'll assume you mean comicbook and say Gotham Central.



M-D: And what your favorite book in general ?

S.M.: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking


M-D: What's your favorite alcohol ?

S.M.: I'm a beer man. I usually swill down Sam Adams (love their seasonals), Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Bass, Guinness and Blue Moon Belgian White. Every one in a while I'll have a gin and tonic or a Jagerbomb (a shot of
 Jagermeister dropped in a tub of Red Bull). And artist Jason Alexander kind of got me into scotch


M-D: Is there a comic book character that you really can’t stand ? which one and why ?  

S.M. Nothing comes to mind.


M-D: What is your best achievement so far ?  

S.M.: I would say becoming a full-time freelance comicbook writer's been my best achievement. As far as work I've done, I'm especially pleased with The Waiting Place and how that turned out.


M-D: readers may be more familiar with your Marvel titles than with "Waiting Place" . Would you mind pitching it to us ?

S.M.: Better than any pitch I can write up is the website I built for the series, which includes full previews of three issues:

M-D : Looking back at "Sentinel" and "inhumans", Are there things you would have done differently ?

S.M.: Nah, I'm pretty happy with how they both turned out.


M-D: did you have some hard times in your career ? which ones and how did you deal with those ?

S.M.: Sure, I've had plenty. I just went two months without work, for example. That's the first time that's happened to me since going full-time a year  ago, and it was kind of scary. You always have to be looking for the next job, because you don't know when your current stuff will dry up. It's a difficult balancing act.


M-D: What’s the weirdest thing a fan asked you ?

S.M.: I don't think I've ever been asked anything weird, to be honest. Unless I'm conveniently blocking something out of my mind.

M-D: So more generaly What is the weirdest thing you saw in a comic convention?

S.M.: There was a female rap group dressed as ninja superheroes who performed at Atlanta Comicon one year. They had choreographed moves they did and everything. Maybe not the weirdest thing, but it's the first really bizarre thing that sprang to mind.


M-D: Have you ever been to Paris ?  

S.M.: Never been, but I'd like to someday.


M-D: And since My website is on Dr Doom mainly : How would you describe the character : “DR DOOM” ?

S.M.: He's the ultimate scheming badass.

M-D: Who do you think wrote the best Dr Doom ?

S.M.:I don't know if the best Doom has been written yet, but I really liked the Dr. Doom/Dr. Strange graphic novel by Roger Stern and Mike Mignola, and I dug Walt Simonson's Doom stuff in Fantastic Four. I also loved his role in Secret Wars.

M-D: Do you have an idea for a dr Doom story ? is he a character you'de like to write ?

S.M.: I don't have a specific idea, no, but I'd love to make use of him someday, sure.


M-D: Who draw " Dr Doom" the best in your opinion ?

S.M.: Jim Lee, followed by Mignola and Romita Jr.


Thanks a lot Sean !

Check Sean's website here :