Finding The Unseen Stories With Author And Storyteller Cody Ziglar

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Cody Ziglar is an Emmy-nominated Los Angeles-based writer, director, and producer. He currently writes a variety of well-known properties including Miles Morales: Spider-Man for Marvel Comics.

“Working with Cody is like a roller coaster of emotions – one second he has you cracking up, the next he has you in your feelings, and by the end of it you’re feeling like a superhero.” says Curtis Baxter, who is a head writer on various properties.

Ziglar is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art & Design Film & Television MFA program. He has also written for Futurama, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Rick & Morty, Robot Chicken, and Craig of the Creek.

“This mfer think life a fckin’ game, ” cheekily offers Tawny Newsome (actress, writer and producer) about Ziglar.

He has produced podcasts for Earwolf, iHeartRadio, and UCB Comedy and directed videos featured on Funny or Die, Cracked, WhoHaha, and more. Cody Ziglar sat down with Forbes to speak on his career journey, mentorship and his creative process.

Goldie Chan: Hi Cody, thanks for joining us. What has been your favorite book or project to work on?

Cody Ziglar: Oh jeez, this is a super hard one to answer just because I’ve been so lucky to work on a lot of projects that meant something to me. But if I had to choose, I think it’s a hard tie between She-Hulk: Attorney at Law and Miles Morales: Spider-Man.

She-Hulk was the show that get me into the WGA, got me into the Marvel Studios fold (something I’ve always dreamed of), and more importantly got me into Marvel Comics. Without She-Hulk I would probably wouldn’t be writing the comics I’m writing, and I’m forever grateful for that and to the show-runner, Jessica Gao, taking a chance on me.

Chan: What has your career journey been?

Ziglar: It’s honestly been completely all over the map! When I first moved to LA straight out of film school, I was working as a producer/editor for this lady who did SAT/ACT video prep videos for her Youtube Channel – it was miserable and in Westwood and paid dirt. I eventually got a job working in the equipment checkout cage for UCB Comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade and just spend my weekends making things. Shooting shorts, sketches, pilots, web series, whatever I could do i was doing it. I eventually got into producing podcast and from that I got poached by this company Earwolf where I produced a bunch of even more podcasts, met a lot of comedy people I respected and enjoyed working with, and eventually got into TV writing from that! I have to also get a shout-out to Jeff Trammel. He hired me for my first writing job which was part-time for Craig of the Creek. It was my first job and I loved every moment of it.

Chan: What informs the characters that you write?

Ziglar: This might be a bit of a boring answer but truthfully I pull a little bit from my personal life, a bit from real-life experiences and interactions, and then just making up stuff I think is interesting and fun or cool. I think I try to place a version of myself into character, particularly Miles, and then sort of take it from there.

Chan: Describe your personal brand for us.

Ziglar: Oh wow, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that! I guess, maybe, I’d have to say I’m definitely leaning more genre forward. So anything with sci-fi or monsters or weirdness is me, sprinkled with a nice dose of comedy. I guess that’s my long winded way of saying maybe my personal brand is genre-comedian? Though I feel weird calling myself a comedian.

Chan: How do you build mentorship into your career?

Ziglar: I love this question! I was just speaking at my old grad school, SCAD, and was talking about the importance of mentorship! I’ve been blessed to have a lot of really great, caring, mentors in my life and I cannot attest enough to the power of that dynamic – I think particularly in this industry it’s real gift.I’ve learned a lot from different mentors in different fields – Jessica Gao in the world of television writing and navigating this business and Zeb Wells in the world of comic-book writing. I’ve had professors who really helped me navigate my path when I was in school and trying to figure out where I was going to do with my life. I had a writing professor at SCAD, professor Michael Nolin, who was fantastic and did so much in lighting a fire under my ass.

Chan: How has your Black American identity changed how you create or write?

Ziglar: I definitely draw a lot from my experience growing up, particularly being from the South. I feel like I get most of that represented in Miles – I write a book that I think a younger version of myself would like to read. Moreover, I try to talk about things that I thought was important growing up (or now) and that I think would be helpful for young black folk growing up.

I try to write a world that reflects the world I live in and grew up, which usually means adding more POC in roles where there traditionally might be very little. I think that’s important and I’m very lucky and grateful that I get to do that.

Chan: What are you working on right now?

Ziglar: I’m plugging away at Miles Morales: Spider-Man, a graphic novel called Goobers which comes out sometime in 2024, as well a few more comic projects that haven’t been announced yet!

Chan: How do you refill your creative well?

Ziglar: I LIVE LIFE! I GO FOR WALKS IN PARKS OR EAT OUT OR WATCH MOVIES OR GO TO MUSEUMS!

Whenever I’m working on a project I try to make time to get out of my house to take in fresh air and live life. Creativity is a reflection for how we live and if you’re not outside living, then it’s going to be reflected in your work.

Chan: Any career advice for next year?

Ziglar: Whew, this too shall pass! This has been a difficult year for a lot of people but I’m always thankful for the idea that things will eventually turn around. I think, unfortunately for the society that we live in, you have to have some tenacity if you want to work in the creative-world. You have to be unbreakable in a sense. Once you learn that strength, you will be a lot more confident in you place in the creatively space you fulfill.

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