I once commented that Joe Casey, during his “Business of Writing Comics” panel at the San Diego Comic-Con, successfully lit a creative fire under my ass. Well, I’m pleased to announce that a similar event his occurred recently…except that this sensation is more akin to that of a Bunsen burner.
The setting is WizardWorld Chicago and due to prior commitments, I’m touring the convention floor solo without the best friend in tow. On top of that, I’m slightly over two hours late and this disaster is just another entry in what is quickly becoming a very strange weekend. After missing the “Connections” panel that served to pair writers with artists and vice versa (the one panel I was looking forward to the most by the by), I had to settle on a little something called “What Marvel Wants.”
Terrific…Joe Quesada is going to take the stage and tell everyone that we have the potential to make it, when odds and brutal statistics indicate that not only will no one in the room of hopefuls make it, but they’ll drive themselves crazy trying. Right?
Perhaps it’s testament to Joe’s ability as a spokesman and salesman, but something about this pep talk was a little different. He talked of the new wave at Marvel, dedicated to telling stories that a casual reader could follow and care about. He talked of refusing to be handicapped by years of baggage and continuity, and how that would serve to completely disconnect a new reader from the material. He talked of how the Chosen One, the person capable of taking things to the next level and providing the new voice that Marvel is looking for could be sitting in that very room. And I believed that shit.
What is it about a creator’s mentality that causes them to think that they have something that the people want? That they are in fact the Chosen One? And why is that the only mindset under which we can deliver the goods?
“You have to be prepared to drown your babies,” Quesada said at the panel. He’s referring to a creator’s inability to release his or her own ideas and concepts when presented with another alternative that may work just as well. But if you think your baby is too ugly to present at the river, you won’t even get the chance.
When you sit down to pen your own version of the Fantastic Four, or the new revamp for Young Justice, or the ultimate Batman and Robin story, it’s a testament to your work if you suspend your disbelief for enough hours to produce a story worthy of being pawned to retailers in Previews. If you can imagine your artistic collaborator toiling over your script and being as interested in the impending ending as your audience. If you imagine your editor receiving your plot via e-mail and thanking himself or herself that they ever took a chance on THIS unknown. If you imagine your name being synonymous with quality, the mutual respect of your peers, and hanging at a convention booth chatting with the people putting a check in your pocket on a monthly basis. To me there would be nothing more satisfying. Entertaining the masses. “Putting asses in the seats,” as Quesada put it.
Marvel’s announcement that “We’re not just superheroes anymore,” is even more stimulating to the mind of any hopeful. No longer is a writer handicapped by the singular choice of genre. Got a killer Western story? Bring it. What about comic satire? Bring it. A damn romance comic? Just bring it. The floodgates are officially open and for large moments at a time, you must forget the odds, throw caution to the wind and get noticed.
Whatever it takes to put you in the mindset to make things happen? Do it. Otherwise, you’ve lost before you’ve even begun. Game over. You lose because you were afraid to fail. I’m still keeping all of my rejection letters, written in form though they may be, to use as fuel. You think I’m going to let a form letter force me to turn back? HELL NO. Too much work to be done, too many stories to tell.
Is it in you? Let’s make it happen people…just don’t think you’re taking my spot. 😉
Next time: There is a force out there that exists strictly to derail and prevent everything we hope to create. They are growing in number and the internet has made them stronger and bolder in their pursuits. Next week…we take aim at the “haters” to turn the tables.