We Interview Writer of Inheritance James D Schumacher III

Photo By Martin Aguirre, www.orangedogimages.com

James D. Schumacher III is a screenplay writer, director, producer and most recently comic book writer, whose award-winning comic Inheritance is about to be distributed in the UK for the first time. I got the chance to talk to James about his very personal comic and his new partnership with WP Comics.

Inheritance has received high praise and awards since it’s release, for those who are not familiar with the book and it’s personal connection to you could you please give our readers a summary of what inheritance is all about?

Inheritance is a multi-generational story of a family struggling to cope with an insidious family curse, one that brings about the scourge of a long deceased relative who’s hell-bent on eradication of the remaining members of his family. Inheritance originated from the deep pain of watching my mother struggle to beat the horrors of the disease called cancer. Since I was a child she’s been fighting a constant battle with it, and seeing that from a young age, and knowing that your mother was not invincible as you had initially perceived altered my view of the world. 

I spent a majority of my life struggling to understand why this would occur to my mother. It was a battle with my personal demons that inspired Inheritance. On June 6th, 2009 my mother called me over to her house, and this proved to be the most heartbreaking and thought-provoking moment of my life. She looked at me directly in the eyes and told me she was going to die soon, which was at odds with the clean bill of health the doctors had given her after a recent struggle in the hospital a month prior. I was sceptical and did the only thing I knew I could do, deny it and tell her she was going to be okay. My reliance upon my mother was absolute, not in the fashion of financial support, but the emotional support and encouragement she provided me, that kept me driving directly into my dream. 

During this moment of introspection and skepticism , we had the most amazing conversation we’ve ever had before. We opened up to each other in ways very few parents and children do. She kept telling me she wishes she could be there to see me succeed, to hold my children, to see me become the man she knew I would always become. My father arrived home from work, and that moment, my only true regret is that I told her I was going to leave her. As I stood in the door, she asked me “No matter how hard it gets, do not quit writing and do not quit filmmaking.” and I told her I would, and I left this last conversation I had with my mother, unaware that it would be the last. 

I’ve struggled with that for a long time. Inheritance is birthed from that moment of skepticism  and that inundating sadness and that nagging regret that plagues me to this day. I wanted to give audiences a story about real people, real emotions, and heartbreak but combined with my mother and I’s shared love of all things horror. 

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Do you feel inheritance will bring a personal sense of coming to terms with the passing of your mother when the series is completed or is it that as time goes on you discover more that you need to express and deal with?

Undoubtedly. All of my work is a form of exorcism. Therapy to be more exact. Inheritance tackles head on this pain. Pain that has brought me to my knees numerous times. With each and every word, every rough sketch, every line of ink, it brings me closer to the freedom from the pain. I find that my work is fueled by pain. So with every completed issue of Inheritance, I am able to extend my mother’s influence, help her dreams and desires to help people reach more and more people than she was able to her in a lifetime. Time may pass, but the pain will never truly subside. There will be days where I have kids, where Inheritance sells to another cancer survivor, that I wish she were still here to see this. 

There never will exist a time where this pain is gone even after the entire arc of Inheritance has been told, but as the years grow further from when she and I last talked, it will become my armour, my driving force. I hate the phrase time heals all wounds, it doesn’t, it just makes it easier to cope with the void that was left in the wake. 

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Aside from the personal goals you have for Inheritance and the relatability to the readers do you hope this inspires people to create and share their tragedies whether in comics, art, movies, etc? Seeing as this process has helped you so much.

It is not selling out every comic that means the world to me. Albeit that is incredible, but it is the people that stand at my booth and discuss their experiences. Whether it’s pain from losing a loved one, or having a loved one in the grips of cancer or if they are fighting the disease. That is the greatest thing for me. It makes every ounce of blood, sweat and tears worth it. People tend to close themselves off when pain overwhelms them; I know I did and by openly talking about, being honest with others about what the pain did to me, what it did to my life and my body, gives almost a sense of permission to people to open about it. 

The accolades are incredible. Seeing every book sell is amazing. Seeing other people connect to me is heart-warming. Watching people open up about their lives to not only myself, but their loved ones is humbling. 

Comic books are a visual medium. Your original artist decided to leave the project, and you have recently found a new artist (who will be announced later this fall) how important is the artwork to you and has it been hard trying to find someone who understands the emotion and vision you have in your head?

I’m sure if you ask any creator out there and they will say second only to story and script, the artwork is the most pivotal portion of the comic book. The writer lays the foundation and the superstructure of the story, and it’s the artist’s job to come in and shore up the foundation and bring the walls and facade up. The artwork is the first thing a potential reader and fan notices, and it is the make or break moment for the comic book. I work as the creator, which means when I work with an artist I send them the rough sketch of a page, (Fancy words for stick figures) it outlines character placements, panel set ups and what occurs in the gutters. My background before comic books was filmmaking in all stages. 

The style I’m going for in Inheritance is a very grounded, cinematic feel and tone. This approach pushes an artist to their breaking point, and beyond, because instead of doing fancy explosions or people flying, they’re focusing on real emotions and terrifying horror that relies upon stillness over gore, these specific focuses forces an artist to think outside of the realm of what is deemed possible. So after the first artist quit, I wanted to take my time to find the right artist. It was daunting to search out someone who had the same sentimentalities, passion and vision that I have. 

So after pouring through a litany of amazing artists who in their own styles are incredible, whose styles don’t mesh well with my vision, I found the right person. It’s absolutely exciting to see the next evolutionary leap for Inheritance that this artist brings, and that’s not to say that the previous artwork is not great, but it doesn’t truly match up with the vision that I have been creating. This new artwork is literally pulled directly out of my head, and I am absolutely humbled that an artist like this would want to work on this book and bring this story of real people, real emotions in a horror setting to life. 

Inheritance Is about the be distributed in the UK for the first time by WP Comics how did that partnership happen?

After the original publisher had dropped Inheritance out of the blue after it had sold out every print run and every comic con and was their most successful title against their own publisher owned titles, it hit me hard. I’ve been an entrepreneur, as most filmmakers and comic creators naturally are, so I decided that I would not bring the book to another indie publisher. I did not want a repeat of that, fool me one shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I was doing a lot of the legwork as it was, reaching out to press, retailers and fans, so I thought to myself why am I giving a percentage to a publisher for doing what I am already doing?

So I decided I would release Inheritance through my own company. Rusty Gilligan has proven to be a huge inspiration, and he was also collateral damage when that same publisher dropped his series at the same time. I talked to him and let him know my plans, and he encouraged it. I’ve been able to expand Inheritance into retail stores in multiple states like Black Cat Comics (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Kevin Smith’s, The Secret Stash (Red Bank, New Jersey) just to name a few, and I knew the next step was to begin to move Inheritance internationally. During its time at the old publisher, Inheritance sold throughout the world in numerous countries, which was fantastic. 

Rusty Connected me to the publisher WP Comics out of the UK and instead of signing the book to them, I negotiated a distribution agreement with them to bring Inheritance to all of their comic cons, stores and digital retail outlets in European countries. Partnerships are important in comics and film, and this brings together two groups of immensely talented people hell-bent on crafting amazing stories with amazing artwork, as opposed to selling poorly thrown together comics. I’ve Seen enough of those. I am excited about this partnership and where my quest for world domination will lead me. 

What does 2017 look like for you?  Any new projects or appearances?

2017 looks amazing! It’s going to be an insanely busy year, with the release of Inheritance: The Binding of Three issue #2 coming early 2017 as well as the physical release of the first trade paperback for Inheritance in stores across the country. I am unbelievably excited to bring the fans the brand new artwork for Inheritance. It’s unlike anything people are expecting. I’ll be attending various comic cons; I will be listing them on my website, www.schumacher3.com I will also be collecting more tattoos, so that should be amazing as well.



  1. […] If you missed my interview with James Schumacher last month you can read it here […]


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