The following is the conclusion to our Q&A with Beau Smith.
What do you look for in a good notebook or journal?
Durability with the cover material and construction of the journal/notebook. I prefer leather that’s flexible. I’m outside a lot and I’ve found that leather really holds up as well as looks better with time and character lines. I like pocket-size journals for ideas and lists and a larger, heavier journal for actual script and plot writing. I use ruled and blank pages, but my favorite is graph or dot pages. I have more freedom there and still have enough structure for more fine, detailed text. I’ve filled a few Rustico Expedition Notebooks for their flexibility, durability and dot grid pages. I would love to see a larger, heavier version at some point. That would be a real Writer’s Notebook!
I use the Rustico Executive Leather Padfolio for meetings and rough draft notes. I love the size of it and the fact I can carry files and copies with me. The pen loop is a major plus. I like a pen loop with notebooks and journals, very handy and serves multiple uses for me.
I find that leather notebooks and journals are not only more traditional but they last when nylon, plastic or other man-made materials fail. I love the character of leather, and I personally feel it shows that you care about what goes on to the paper inside the journal.
What style(s) do you draw some of your creativity from? Comics, TV shows, etc…
As mentioned, observation in life is a huge well that I draw creativity from. So many characters and personalities are created from composites of people, both close and just through chance observations in my life. Growing up as a kid in the 60’s, I would pay attention to the credits of a TV show, films, and music that I liked. I sought out other creative people that were connected to the show, film, or song I had just experienced. I figured that if I liked this—I would like that. This was all before the internet, so needless to say, I was filling up notebooks even then.
I’ve always imagined stories in my head as cinematic films. I see the pictures, both static and moving in my brain and then translate that into words and descriptions on paper and computer. It’s always been like that for me. I think that’s why I am and have always been drawn to pen and paper first. It’s natural…at least to me.
Growing up, there was little that I wouldn’t watch, read or listen to. I can always find something entertaining or informative about the creations of others. Greek mythology was a big attraction to me, I figured if they could make up this wild characters and compelling stories, then so could I. I never stopped trying. Comic books were like Greek mythology to me, there were no limits to what the characters could do, what conflicts they would be involved with, from a simple cowboy western to The Fantastic Four fighting Galactus as he tried to devour the Earth. Writing comic books makes me the writer, director, actor, and cameraman—it’s complete control of storytelling with an unlimited budget. I don’t know how a writer could ever ask for more.
The most important thing in writing that has, and continues to stick with me, is likeability. A character MUST have that to make the story not only compelling but important to the reader. Without likeability, the conflict means nothing, the story means nothing. You lose the reader and you lose interest yourself. You lose everything.
What are your go-to writing items? Instruments, materials, etc…? What items do you currently have on your desk that you use?
I work on a desk that is oak and over 100 years old. It has character. I have always been drawn to handmade or handcrafted items, writing equipment, vehicles, backpacks, most anything that has had a human hand in it’s making. Here’s my list of what we can call my “Write Equipment.”
3. iPad Pencil
My “Tools of the Trade”
Are you published and what was the first material that made you famous among your peers?
Yup! I’ve been published every year for the last 31 years, comic books, graphic novels, Television and video games as well as a columnist for various pop culture magazines and sites. The first material that really put me on the comic book map was the semi-autobiographical “Beau LaDuke-Real Man” Eclipse Comics 1987. A politically incorrect, testosterone filled, two-fisted John Wayne Meets The Dirty Dozen Meets Lethal Weapon adventure series with tongue-in-cheek humor. The two series that really made a global difference were my creator-owned series Wynonna Earp and Cobb: Off The Leash. Wynonna Earp is the comic book series about the great-great Granddaughter of famous lawman, Wyatt Earp. Where he hunted fugitives of the law as a U.S. Marshal in the old west, Wynonna is a present-day member of a covert U.S. Marshals branch called Black Badge. She hunts fugitives as well, paranormal fugitives! Three years ago, Wynonna Earp premiered as a television series on the SyFy network and is a globally cult hit series starring Melanie Scrofano and Tim Rozon. Showrunner Emily Andras has expanded the viewer and readership of Wynonna Earp to where the comic book now has one of the largest female followings in the last 20 years. The latest and third season premieres July 20th on SyFy. I’ll be at San Diego ComicCon for the premiere as well as signing books.
With Tim Rozon (Doc Holliday) from my cameo on Wynonna Earp
Cobb: Off The Leash is a thriller/Crime series very much in the vein of 24 and the Jason Bourne series. It’s about a former Secret Service agent that now helps those that can’t help themselves. The comic book series was an award-winning crime comic book that placed Cobb against terrorists, The Cartels and the Russian Mafia…all at once. Cobb is currently in development for television as a series.
Through my career, I’ve been fortunate to be able to write some of the most noted characters of my childhood and of the present day. Properties such as Batman, Guy Gardner-Green lantern, Star Wars, Spawn, Catwoman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Wolverine, just to name a few. I have been blessed to be able to put words into the mouths of iconic heroes. If I could go back in time and tell my 12-year-old self that this would happen, I’m sure his head would explode.
When you’re not writing what else do you enjoy doing? Hobbies, etc...
I like to backpack and hike with my dog, Cobb. I do that every morning, six days a week. Here in West Virginia, getting outside is a great place to be, and I do my best to take advantage of it. Being outside truly can clear your mind. There is so much to see, some simple things and others pretty brilliant. As I mentioned, I’m a book addict. I love to read. I favor non-fiction for the most part, and that covers anything that’s of interest. History, How-To Books, The Old West, Outdoors…to give an example of my eclectic tastes—I am currently reading: The Cyber Effect by Dr. Mary Aiken, Cattle Kingdom by Christopher Knowlton, The Disaster Diaries by Sam Sheridan, and A Splendid Savage by Steve Kemper. Always something to draw from and inspire for me. My wife, Beth and I, like to take advantage of traveling and finding neat local places to eat in different areas. Especially Tex-Mex and seafood. We keep it healthy, but now and then we walk the razor’s edge and go a little calorie crazy. I’m also somewhat of a gear addict for outdoor equipment, vintage and new. It’s best to separate me and my credit card from outfitter shops and army surplus stores. ;)
Out on a morning hike with my dog Cobb hoping to find some story ideas
Advice to someone just starting out and wanting to get better and do more writing/illustrating?
For writers—Write every day! Even if you only have 10 minutes, Write! Jot down ideas, names, lists, anything that will spark you on a creative level. Write a journal, it’s YOUR story, Your life. Writing a journal helps you become a better writer all the way around. You have no limits to your structure. A stream of thought actually becomes your own form of poetry. It’s there on paper for you to remember, to refer to, and to learn from. Study the mechanics of scripts and prose, learn why there’s different style between Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, and Robert Parker, but at the same time, all their writing is compelling. Learn from that. Never think that you’ve learned everything. You can always learn more, and that’s the gift that keeps on giving.
For Artists, just like writing, try and draw every day. Draw something, anything. You’ll be surprised at how much growth there is when you draw gradually on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid to show your work to others, not just other artists, but everyone. You’ll be able to listen and find a common thread that others will like or dislike your work. With art portfolio reviews at comic book conventions with editors and established artists, if you show your art to ten people and 8 out of those ten people tell you to work on backgrounds or anatomy, or horses…then you can figure it’s true and you need to focus a little more on those specific areas.
As an artist or a writer, you have to have tough skin. You have to know how to deal with rejection or constructive criticism. Again, it’s how you’ll learn. Use that criticism as a tool, because that’s what it is, a tool that will help you build your skills and your love for the arts.
Don’t limit yourself. I got into my chosen field at the age of 30, I lived in a small town, in a small state, and the internet hadn’t been invented yet. There are so many tools and opportunities at hand today, use them and don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid of not wanting to get up and try again.
We really appreciate Beau taking some time to talk about his written works, inspiration, and how journaling has impacted his life. He’s an incredibly talented and accomplished writer and a busy schedule hasn't prevented him from making strides in his work.
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