Dino Caruso is a native Canadian with extensive writing credits. His well-crafted tales can be found in numerous anthologies throughout the industry. He recently spent some time with CBI to discuss his career in comics…
JMH: How long have you been writing comics?
DC: I’ve been writing stories (in a variety of different formats) since I was a kid, but it’s been about 8 or 9 years since I started writing comic book scripts with the intention of actually getting the stories “out there”.
The Adventures of Bell Boy, created by Dino Caruso and Simon Fernandes.
JMH: Have you written other characters or only your own properties?
DC: I usually write stories featuring my own characters, but I have had several opportunities to work with the creations of others.
For example, I’ve written some stories for Crystal Fractal Comics which feature some of their characters such as Dr. Twilight, Illonus and The Emmisary.
I had a lot of fun writing in the “Bizarre New World” universe that Skipper Martin created in his series for Ape Entertainment.
And lastly, I wrote a short story that will eventually be featured in an anthology based on an Indy horror movie called Sweatshop.
JMH: What is Caruso Comics? What is the company’s focus?
DC: Caruso Comics is a small imprint that I created to get some of my work out there. I’ve published four stories (with a fifth one still in limbo). I haven’t done much publishing lately as I’ve been focusing on writing anthology projects and a few other things.
JMH: Can you tell us about your signature character(s) or other creator owned properties?
DC: Most of my stories are “slice-of-life”, stand-alone projects, so the characters don’t reoccur. AGAINST THE WALL is an 80 page OGN about a guy who gets caught up in a gambling sting. OLGA is about a weird night in the life of a high-school student. CROSSROADS is about romantic steps and missteps, and A CAUTIONARY TALE is about the dangers of obsession.
Against The Wall, created by Dino Caruso and Shawn Richter.
Now…FISK is potentially my one self-published project with the opportunity to have a “signature character”. It’s about a special division of the Board of Education that investigates paranormal situations that occur in schools. The title character, Agent Fisk (named after Carlton Fisk) has the potentially dangerous job of heading into schools to clean these messes up before they become a danger to the public. Shawn Richter (the artist and letterer) and I have completed one full issue, and we’re trying to find a home for it. I have ideas for many more stories.
Fisk: Substitute Hero, created by Dino Caruso and Shawn Richter.
JMH: What other mediums or genres have you written for?
DC: As I mentioned, when I started out writing comics, most of my projects were “slice-of-life”. Lately, I’ve been focusing more on horror, crime, science-fiction and super heroics (or some combination of those genres).
I’ve written a prose story (IN VINO VERITAS) that was accepted to an anthology called Pulp Empire.
This year I started working on a web comic with Simon Fernandes, the illustrator of OLGA. It’s called THE ADVENTURES OF BELL BOY, and it’s about a kid who gets superpowers when the recess bell rings…or at least, he thinks he does.
JMH: Tell CBI about yourself.
DC: Not much to tell…I live in Ontario, Canada with my wife and young son. I love baseball and I’m determined to master bar chords on the guitar at some point in my life.
JMH: What unique story telling can you bring because of your Canadian background?
DC: Interesting question…hmmm…well, I’m not sure if this has anything to do with my citizenship, but in one way or another, sports (hockey, baseball, soccer) seem to work their way into a lot of my stories. I guess it’s something I can relate to and find some dramatic purpose for…
JMH: What future projects are you working on?
DC: Francisco Paronzini and I are working on a project called Gryfalcon that will be finding a home at Red Leaf Comics. The same is true for a project called Courage that Paul Houston and I are producing. Sami Kivela and I (with Paul Little on colours and Ed Brisson on letters) have completed one issue of a project called Outcast that we’re VERY excited about. Other than that, I’m mostly just at the brainstorming or research phase on a bunch of different stories.
Gryfalcon, created by Dino Caruso and Francisco Paronzini.
JMH: If you could write another company’s character which one would it be and why?
DC: Another interesting question! Well, first of all…I’d be honored to be considered for any assignment, but you know, I’d really like to work on some stories for young readers. It would be great to play a role in introducing young readers to comics. Characters like Richie Rich, The Flintstones and The Muppets would be an absolute joy to write.
But having said that…Superman, Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Captain Marvel (Shazam!), Firestorm, The Fantastic Four, Hercules and Spidey have always been superhero faves of mine. I’d love an opportunity to work on those characters as well.
JMH: For anyone who wants to be a writer, what can you tell them about the craft?
DC: I’m not sure if I can tell them anything about the craft, but I think I’ve got some good general advice.
First of all, if you ever have the opportunity to work with an editor…listen and be grateful for any advice or suggestions you get. You may not use them all or agree with them, but it’s so important to be open-minded to anything that makes the story better. I honestly feel that the best stories I’ve ever written have been improved upon by solid editorial advice and wisdom.
Anthology projects are a great way to get started out as a comic book writer. Working on a variety of short stories is a great way to meet artists (on sites like Pencil Jack and Digital Webbing) and get some exposure. All those anthologies make your table at comic cons look nice and full, and it gives you plenty of samples to send out to publishers.
Lastly, it’s so important to keep on writing. Try not to lose too much time to video games or web surfing. Make a realistic goal for yourself and try to stick to it. If the goal is to be a professional, time management is a good place to start.
About the interviewer –
John’s creator-owned properties include: The Leaf, Canada’s Greatest Hero, Sky Watcher, The Armor Guardians, NorthForce, MacSorly – R.C.M.P, and many others.