I know what this looks like…but I can explain.

The column should’ve posted last week, but I got a little busy putting the gloss on my Hulk/Thing issue of FF Tales, so hopefully come April, all will be forgiven. Really think it’s progressively better than the second issue, which is progressively better than the first, and I’m taking the weekend to recharge for the final issue, which’ll allow me to pen a completely original story to close things out. Only requirement is that Ben Grimm teams up with Sue Storm, but beyond that, I’m looking at 22 pages to fill with an almost overpowering level of coolness. Something designed to grab a reader of any age by the throat on page 1, and refusing to let go until 22. I would tell you exactly how I’m intending to do this, but what fun would that be?

Think it’s best to write every script as if it’ll be the last, but with this being the final chapter of the mini, you better believe I’m showing off. A shameless and unapologetic play for attention and a follow-up assignment. To say this has already been an incredible ride is an understatement, and I see little reason to get off here. Over the last three months, I’ve written Black Panther, Doc Strange, and the Hulk, in addition to the Fantastic Four, and that anxious tingle attached to every e-mail from my editor isn’t getting any weaker, because seriously, this time last year I was waiting on my check for Spidey Unlimited 3, just to actually confirm that I was being paid for writing a Spider-Man story. Now, I’ve got two Marvel minis about to start up, and if that wasn’t cool enough, two long developing creator-owned series’ that I see up and running before the end of the summer.

Of the pair, priority one is Project: Cross, and getting so incredibly ahead of schedule that the first six chapters have no choice but to ship on-time. I’m nursing an incredible sense of impatience about the whole thing, because thinking about how long ago I started developing the series is almost painful, but I’m finding out that everything is timing, and that things happen when they’re supposed to, but I’m hazarding to call ’05 as Damon Cross territory. But as it really starts to assemble itself, the decision of monthly, bi-monthly, or staggered minis will be made, though in the spirit of momentum, the tagline “six months–six issues” is looking more and more attractive.

Late books are something that happens more than anyone is comfortable with, and unfortunately, it engenders a certain degree of retailer and fan skepticism surrounding many independent releases, that the story either won’t finish, or that it will at such an unpredictable rate, that it nearly cripples the project. Regardless of the understandable explanations for it, I’m just trying not to be that dude who’s spending more time outrunning his solicits, than he is getting the word out about his book. I’m of the mind that any fledging indy that’s even entertaining the possibility of being taken seriously on an ongoing basis, has to adhere to the Kirkman model.

His Invincible and The Walking Dead are not only well-written and well-drawn, but they dropped according to some discernible schedule, and sprinted toward double digit issue numbers as soon as possible. People know that when these books are solicited, they will appear in comic stores very close to when they’re supposed to, and that they’ll be hot once they get there. Both titles deserve to be moving several more units, but I watch those month-to-month numbers like everyone else, and there aren’t many titles enjoying a noticeable and consistent sales increase, especially independent ones, so this is the type of performance that I aspire to for my own stuff. Everyone starts somewhere, and I’m really excited to see where Cross fits in.

The conspiracy book is being fitted with a far more explosive opening scene, and as with any long developing concept, time passes and changes its overall look and feel. This one has been on my mind for even longer than Cross, and every few months, the story grows faster because the comics I’m reading are moving faster. With titles like JLA Classified, New Avengers, and Wolverine, marking a notable increase in their storytelling speed, it’s hard to look at something I’ve written with a plodding six issue tempo, and that’s really how it should be. I’m not going to get into an argument that attempts to dictate the length of people’s stories, but it’s all about taking full advantage of a story’s possibilities, regardless of how many issues it fits into. So, Project: Conspiracy will ultimately benefit from the lengthy gestation, and when it’s time to let it go, it’ll be stronger than it was before. And who knows, Seven Soldiers will probably drop and change everything again, because like I said a few weeks ago, Grant Morrison is coming back and the work he does this year is going to inform and influence how superhero comics are written in 2006, and possibly beyond.

On top of that, I’m preparing pitches for another popular character that’ll allow me to branch into another genre, and hopefully, refine my actual technique in regards to actively pitching to companies. Then there’s the upcoming revamp I’ve been planning for this column, updating the logo, moving some pictures around, revising the profile, little things like that long overdue. Still picking at the schedule, hoping to get back to weekly as soon as possible, but if everything works out, I’ll end up even busier than I was before I scaled things back, so who knows. Maybe shorter bursts of transmission, leaving the two thousand word diatribes to the young guys. I’m not sure, the proposed “revamp” is still under heavy discussion and as always, I’m open to suggestions. Would you be interested in reading 750 word columns? What direction would you like this forum to take, and what are you expecting from me as my perspective undergoes yet another shift?

Seriously though, sorry about the tardiness, thanks to everyone that has touched base with me this week to see what was up, and thankfully, as you can see above, I’ve been extremely busy, getting this New Year off to a proper start. Next week, I should have Reginald Hudlin stopping by to discuss Black Panther, among other things, and the week after that we might be looking at the revamp, as I pave the way for the first issue of FF Tales…


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