JMH: Where were you born and raised?
CL WERNER: I was born in Warwick, New York but have only a few memories of my time in New York. Sometime when I was four or five my family moved to California, settling in San Bernardino. So I guess I was properly raised down there. Couldn’t get out fast enough however.
JMH: Have you had any formal training in writing?
CL WERNER: Outside of a few courses in high school and my brief college career, I haven’t had anything like formal instruction. I find that there’s a good deal of rubbish taught in such courses anyway. The real instructor for any writer is to read, read, READ! There’s nothing more instructive than exploring the works of other authors and studying their techniques firsthand. Having someone explain the same techniques to you just isn’t so effective so far as I’m concerned.
JMH: Who are your writing influences?
CL WERNER: My big writing influences would have to be Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft, of course, was the originator of the bleak genre of cosmic horror best typified by what has come to be known as the Cthulhu Mythos. He had a way of eliciting a sensation of nameless dread that has often been mimicked but never really duplicated. His stories have such a grim tone about them that as a reader you’re never certain exactly how bad things are going to get. That’s, I think, a key to true horror – exceeding the fears of the audience.
Robert E. Howard is today probably best remembered as the creator of Conan the Cimmerian; however he produced a vast number of stories that have nothing to do with Conan or the Hyborian Age. He was a fairly prolific writer and very versatile. He wrote everything from horror stories to westerns to boxing stories and adventure yarns, as well as single-handedly creating the genre of sword-and-sorcery with characters like Conan, King Kull, Solomon Kane and Bran Mak Morn. I still think his story, ‘Worms of the Earth’ is the greatest thing ever written. Howard had a very vibrant and physical style of writing; his stories are very action-oriented and a bit at odds with the more genteel narratives of his predecessors. There’s a deceptive simplicity to his stories as well, but I can tell you, Howard might use only a few dozen words to describe a city but he uses the exact ones he needs to create a vivid image in the mind of the reader, moreso than a lot of authors can do in an entire chapter.
JMH: How did you break into writing comic books?
CL WERNER: My break with comic books came when my friend John Michael Helmer founded Red Leaf Comics. Prior to that, I had been acting as a story and character consultant for the Imperials and some of John’s other concepts, but it was his creation of Red Leaf that allowed me to pen some actual comic scripts and see them reach publication.
JMH: What is the first comic you remember reading?
CL WERNER: The first comic book I can recall reading was an issue of Marvel’s Supernatural Thrillers featuring the Living Mummy. This would have had to be way back in the late 1970’s. I remember the story dealt with the Arab-Israeli War, with the title character helping a female Israeli soldier against some Egyptian soldiers.
JMH: Do you read any of the new comic books that are being published today?
CL WERNER: I find that the style of writing I appreciate has largely vanished from comics. The emphasis seems to have shifted to the art with story and character becoming increasingly victimized by editorial diktat and mercenary marketing schemes. The only ones I buy these days is IDW’s Godzilla titles.
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