AMA Bestselling Author and Graphic Novelist, Mike Gagnon

Mike Gagnon
Dec 2, 2017

I’m a bestselling Author and comic creator with nearly 20 years of experience. I’ve worked for publishers of all sizes, large and small. Find out more at www.gagnonwrites.com.

Became an Amazon best-selling graphic novelist in June 2017, then an Amazon best-selling fiction writer, then in July, a best-selling non-fiction writer on Amazon, currently another one of my horror novels hit Amazon as a best-seller in August of 2017!

I love to tell stories that make you think. I might tell you an eerie horror story that gives you chills, leaving you spending a sleepless night staring at your closet. I might tell you a satire that makes you laugh until you cry. I might tell you a crime story, so suspenseful that it leaves you breathless, wondering if the detective will apprehend the killer before they strike again. I might tell you an erotica that will leave you breathless for…other reasons… But above all I want to tell you a story that makes you think: about life, love society…about real life issues that make you challenge your own beliefs, all through the safe and comfortable filter of fiction.

I have over 15 years of professional experience in writing and illustration for graphic novels and film. I have also had the privilege of being a part of the writing team for The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and it’s one-shot spin-off; Deadpool Corps: Rank and Foul along with being involved with art production for Dark Horse Comics and Jack Lake Productions.

I currently spend most of my time working as a traditional novelist and teaching the next generation of artists and writers. I collaborate with some great art organizations and schools and conduct independent seminars, as well as serve as an adjunct professor teaching writing and digital illustration in the Sequential Arts program at Max the Mutt College of Animation, Art, and Design in Toronto, Ontario, Canada


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Conversation (40)

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Can you give an inspirational quote for aspiring writers?

Dec 8, 10:46PM EST0

What's your most challenging experience in your career?

Dec 3, 7:24PM EST0

Any useful advise on aspiring authors?

Dec 2, 8:29PM EST0

Among the many books you authored, which one is the most memorable?

Dec 2, 5:08PM EST0

What triggered you to pursue this career path?

Dec 2, 3:46PM EST1

The "trigger" was The Adventures of Superman #425 from Feb. 1987. I was in kindergarten and my mom took my shopping. I was being a terror and she handed me a comic, this one, to shut me up. It worked. When we got to the cash register she asked if I wanted to take it home. I said yes and started making comics and writing my own stories that day. It clicked and I never looked back. 

Dec 7, 4:30PM EST0

You are very involved in training the new generation of writers. What important lesson would you like to impart to them?

Dec 2, 2:24PM EST0

There are so many.

- Be true to your creative vision and don't compromise.

-The key to unhappiness is to make comics or books that your parents would like. Write the story you want to read. Make it for yourself. 

- Some people will get your work, some won't. Don't worry about the ones that don't and don't waste your energy bad mouthing the art that you don't get. Not every story is for every person, and that's okay. Focus on your own work and the people who enjoy it. The rest is just noise. 

- Don't work for free. It's the equivalent of starving so someone else can realize their own dreams. If you need exposure, work on your own creator-owned ideas, that way if they are successful, you have some kind of financial reward and investment in it. If you have to work for free, do it for yourself, not someone else. 

Great question. I could do this all day, so I'll cut myself off now. Great questions and a fantastic place to end off. Thanks for your question. 

Dec 2, 3:02PM EST0

I'm curious as to how you can make your readers become so immersed in the story. What technique is this?

Dec 2, 2:02PM EST0

I think it comes from consuming a lot of good content. I like to immerse myself in movies and books and comics and my brain is like a sponge for all of the things that work. When I like something I note it. I also like to write in my own natural voice. I don't think it does any good to write in an unnatural way. I like to write in a conversational manner and I never have my characters use fake, stilted or expositional dialog. I always strive to make character dialogue believable and sound the way that real people talk. I always pay attention to what I emotionally respond to and find a way to adapt it to my own work. Read. Read. Read. (and watch or black and white movies) 

Dec 2, 2:57PM EST0

Do you create your own graphics for the books you wrote?

Dec 2, 8:44AM EST0

Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. It really all depends on what I'm doing and how busy I am with teaching, clients or personal projects. My most recent books, like "The Illusion of Freedom" and the upcoming "A Western Gentleman" have covers created by me, but I also often have other professional artists I know help like Orlando Baez did with the cover of "The Island of Dr. Morose".

Dec 2, 2:53PM EST0

Which of the illustrations you are most proud of and why?

Dec 1, 9:07PM EST0

I'm always trying new techniques and styles. I'm working on one of my first professional manga projects right now. The drawing that stands out most is a recreation of a Dale Keown Hulk cover. I'm a huge Hulk fan. You can see the drawing here: https://mikegagnon.myportfolio.com/sketches-and-commissions

Dec 2, 2:51PM EST0

If we want to learn your techniques, where can we find your classroom?

Dec 1, 12:52PM EST0

I currently teach at The Dundas Valley School of Art - www.dvsa.ca and Max the Mutt College of Animation, Art and Design - https://maxthemutt.com/

Dec 2, 2:45PM EST0

Do you have plans to establish your own Graphic Art School?

Dec 1, 12:51PM EST0

I have had ideas for doing just such a thing for some time. Just a few years ago I actually had a launch date and a building leased to open. Things fell through when the lease owner didn't honor our agreement to actually do renovations to make the building useable. It was disappointing because I had a post-grad program already approved by the Ministry of Career Colleges. I decided to redirect my focus back to creative work, writing, and teaching at other schools. I still have that program in the back of my mind and am always open to an established school that would make a good venue. 

Dec 2, 2:44PM EST0

Which is your best selling book of all time?

Dec 1, 10:59AM EST0

My most recent book, The Illusion of Freedom, is also my most well-received and best selling book ever. The response has been as amazing as it is unexpected. I never expected people to respond so much to my little non-fiction book about world corruption. You can find it here: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781988369150

Dec 2, 2:41PM EST0

Among the many themes you can choose from, which one is your favorite?

Dec 1, 8:31AM EST0

That's hard, I like to play with all genres, but I write horror and humor most often. I love combining the two. If I have to choose...horror.

Dec 2, 2:36PM EST0

What is your secret to succeeding in almost every endeavor of your life?

Dec 1, 7:00AM EST0

LOL without letting this question stroke my ego too much; never give up. Work hard. If one path doesn't work find another or make a new one. Don't let people stand in your way, brush obstacles off your back. Create your own success. It sounds like a lot of clichès, but it's true. Don't let insecurity stop you, and don't come up with excuses. 

The difference between a winner and a loser is that a loser finds a problem for every solution and a winner finds a solution for every problem.

I've always been determined to reach my goals and never taken for granted that they were not achievable. 

Dec 2, 2:36PM EST0

Would you like your children to follow the same path as yours?

Dec 1, 6:43AM EST0

I don't have any kids and don't really plan to so thankfully, I don't have to deal with this. LOL However, if I was to offer advice to any young creators in any creative field, I'd tell them to work hard, don't compromise your values, and be prepared to struggle. Don't expect to be rich. Do something creative because you love it and you can't live with not doing it. Anything creative arts wise is hard. Expect struggle and frustration. If you want to be rich, become a doctor or lawyer. 

Dec 2, 2:32PM EST0

Which novel earned you the "best-selling graphic novelist" award?

Dec 1, 5:33AM EST0

If memory serves correct, the first time I was involved with a best-selling graphic novel, that I was aware of, was "The Illustrated History of Pirates" for Jack Lake Productions as a part of the Classics Illustrated reprint series. I really enjoyed working on the book, as every time I work for JLP they give me the true stories and biographies, so it's a learning experience every time. The book, in particular, was the first time I'd learned that Captain Morgan had been a real pirate. It was great fun. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.ca/Pirates-panel-zoom-Classics-Illustrated-ebook/dp/B009AC3358

Dec 2, 2:30PM EST0

Which novel won you "best-selling fiction" writer?

Dec 1, 5:30AM EST0

If memory serves me correctly, my first bestselling fiction novel was "The Island of Dr. Morose" my zombie satire, which you can check out here: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780994021830

Dec 2, 2:24PM EST0

Which novel is the product of your initiation into writing?

Dec 1, 5:01AM EST0

Hmmm. Wow hard to answer....I've been writing since I was 5. I was writing comics before I was writing novels. My first self-published novel though was a slice-of-life dramedy called Clows, which you can find here: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780991695096 It was also re-released under the title "Sex and the Circus" Just over a year later. 

Dec 2, 2:20PM EST0

Did you undergo some training of the basics in animations and graphics artistry initially?

Dec 1, 4:36AM EST0

I'm self-taught. I discovered comics at 5 years old and have been doing them ever since. Really. I started buying every guide to drawing, writing, business, publishing. My entire life. I've read and drawn every book I could find page-for-page. When I went to college, I was already self-publishing my own comics and writing for websites. I had been accepted for graphics and art programs but decided to take Business Administration instead, thinking that the business knowledge would be more useful. The fact that I've avoided being screwed over so many times is evidence to me that I made the right decision. LOL

Dec 2, 2:17PM EST0

How did you earn your spot in the educational institution?

Dec 1, 4:07AM EST0

Well, I had started teaching private art and writing lessons on my own. I happened to get a lot of students with special needs. That gave me some great experience. Then I started attending conventions as a professional guest and at FanExpo one year, I was sat next to Kent Burles. Kent and I got along really well and stayed in touch. He would eventually ask me to review the portfolios for his graduating class at Max the Mutt College of Animation, Art and Design. I did that for them for a couple years and then when a teaching position opened up they asked me if I'd be interested. I decided to give it a try and loved it. I've expanded to a few schools since and specialize in comics. I love it and I work in schools that are private or career colleges, so I'm hired based on teaching and professional career experience like having worked with Marvel and Dark Horse. I don't have a teaching degree, so I can't work at a public school or unionized board.  LOL long answer, I know. 

Dec 2, 2:14PM EST0

What can you consider as your best achievement?

Nov 30, 3:05PM EST0

I've done a lot of things, from comics to acting and more. It's very hard to choose. I'd have to say working on The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and Classics Illustrated were up there, but my own books becoming bestsellers has to be the top one. 

Dec 2, 2:08PM EST0

What would you say is your secret to success?

Nov 30, 9:08AM EST0

I'm never sure how to answer this, but if I am considered a success, it's because of hard work. I don't quit. When I find the line where it seems hopeless and should quit I regroup and blow past that line by 100 miles. Work hard and believe in yourself. Love what you do. Success is being happy with your career. 

Dec 2, 2:06PM EST0
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