This past week we got chance to sit down with writer J.D. Oliva to talk about his book Deluge, illustrated by Richard P Clark. We get to know a little more about him, his life in comics and the book itself. Be sure to follow the links at the bottom to keep up to date with all of J.D’s latest adventures in comics. Now sit back and get ready to dive into the world of Deluge.
Inter-Comics Podcast: Hey J.D. thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Could you give us a rundown of your origin story, who are you, where are you from?
J.D. Oliva: I’m J.D. Oliva. I’m a writer/documentary filmmaker/amateur wrestling coach from Suburban Chicago.
ICP: How did you get introduced to comics and do you remember your first?
J.D.O: I’m a child of the 80’s, so I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t into superheroes in some way. My parents told me I had a Spider-man cake for my second birthday and refused to let them cut it so they wouldn’t hurt Spidey! I think I remember having some Star Wars books before I could read but the first book I remember buying and reading was when I was 9 years old. My dad took us to see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and there was a Batman trailer. In that moment, I became obsessed. After the movie, we stopped at a drug store and on the shelf was Batman Annual 13. I remember the cover was this real dramatic pose with Batman covered in snow. I can’t remember the story but I remember in the back it had these Who’s Who entries, so I pretty much learned everything I needed to know about Batman right there.
ICP: Which books do always recommend to fans old and new?
J.D.O: I always start with Kingdom Come by Mark Waid. I think it’s a great book for anyone looking to get into Superheroes. I try to get a vibe of what someone is into before recommending anything. If they like crime stories, I recommend Scalped. If they’re into Sci-Fi or fantasy, I recommend Saga. If they’re looking for something different, WE3.
ICP: Tell us about Deluge, when did you start working on the idea and what has brought you to this point?
J.D.O: New Orleans is a big production hub. Lots of films get made down there. Way back in 2008, I directed a short horror film (starring John Wesley Shipp of the Flash) in New Orleans. One night we were at local bar and I heard a story that during Katrina a few of the cops went rogue and took to their boats and were shooting criminals that were stranded on their rooftops. I thought that was a great idea for a story. Later that night, I saw a cop smash a drunk guy in the face with his nightstick. I’m not sure what the guy did but watching that cop always stuck out to me. A few years later, I was in Andy Schmidt’s Comics Experience Advanced Writing class and we had to pitch an idea for a miniseries and I remembered that night in New Orleans. In 2011, we ran a successful Kickstarter on the book and got a publisher, but when the book was competed in 2013, the publisher was no longer in business. So I went Comixology Submit and released it there. That week it was Bleeding Cool’s Comicology’s Submit Pick of the Week (back when that was a thing). We won a few small awards, which was really cool. This past year Comic Experience started their own digital publishing program and we thought it was a perfect chance for the book to really come home. So, this project has been with me a long time and has gone through a lot of growing pains but seeing it with that Comics Experience logo on the cover really makes me feel good.
ICP: Richard P. Clarke was your artist on the book, how did you two meet and what was it like working together?
J.D.O: Rich was a member of those Comics Experience classes. Rich is really talented and brought a real sense of gruesomeness to the book, which I loved.
ICP: There are a few different themes going on in the book, social commentary, race issues, natural disasters, was this always your intention and how did you find juggling all these aspects?
J.D.O: Absolutely. Spending several months in New Orleans and working on couple documentary projects there really impacted me. I’m a pretty politically motivated person. I have no interest in ever running for any office, but I think people need to have conversations about these things. I never felt like I had to juggle anything. I believed in the story we were telling, the rest just fell into place.
ICP: What advice would you give to anyone looking to begin work on their first comic book and was there any part of the process which had you stumped?
J.D.O: If you want to create comics, I can’t say enough good things about Comics Experience. Their classes and workshops will prepare you for anything and the networking is second to none. As far as being stumped, I think I was over writing at first, like stretching the book out longer than it needed to be. Paul Allor was the first editor of the book and he gave me some great advice about chopping the scripts down to three issues which made for a much tighter story. Best advice I’ve ever been given.
ICP: Do you have any plans to visit any conventions in the coming months?
J.D.O: I was planning on going to NYCC, but my wife had a baby and I’m playing the role of stay at home dad for a while. So I probably won’t be at a show till C2E2 in Chicago next spring.
ICP: Where can people get a hold of the book and keep up to date with your work?