It’s only right to thank every one of you.
When this column started a couple years ago, I was under the impression that it’d run for about six to eight months, before I’d be “discovered.” Besides being terribly optimistic, that goal proved unreasonable for a few reasons, but back then, you let me tell it, this whole thing was all figured out. I’d created this perfect little scenario where my own Internet column was the final stage in a completely random “master plan” that began with an observation period, led to a short stint as a letterhack, and culminated in penning reviews for SBC.
Ambi. was pitched as part platform, part journal, that could both chronicle and bolster my chances at breaking into the biz, but I lost the nerve to post several of the scripts and plots I’d intended to solicit feedback on. Even after stating my intentions up front, it’d felt entirely opportunistic to just drop off a stack of scripts, and allow that to stand as my contribution to the game. Hell, I was just imitating Warren Ellis’ stuff back then anyway, and filling this space with it was just a little too obvious. I wanted to emerge from this experience as a professional writer, but couldn’t do it holding my fingers crossed every week. There’s absolutely no way of knowing who’s reading this stuff, so it’s really a complete waste of time to sit around worrying about it, especially when you have an editor that’s leaving your articles virtually untouched.
Back then, I was all about format and presentation, but needed to find tone and voice, that wasn’t simply a pantomime of Ellis, Morrison, Dixon, or whoever else I was feelin’ at the time. The weekly also trained me to write in rhythm, and even now, when I’m forced to skip a week, or drop a less than inspired piece, I count the days until it can be fixed. Nothing is ever perfect, but that’s little excuse not to try, because regardless of how colorful the justification is, in the words of Method Man, “Doo-doo is doo-doo.”
So, thanks for sifting through all of mine, and finding something that brought you back here. I’ve traded the dorm for a dope apartment, finished college, and eventually came back home, all since this started. I’ve lost jobs, family members, and maybe almost more, and been able to talk about it here. Been pissed off at cheating girlfriends, flat broke, and completely frustrated with my pursuit, sometimes all at once. There are periods when Ambidextrous was literally the only thing in my life I was proud of, and
I appreciate that you kept it here, and continue to do so. Especially when I’ve spent my week looking at this over and over again…
SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #3
Written by Tom McLaughlin & BRANDON THOMAS
Penciled by Scott Kolins & ALE GARZA
Cover by STEVE MCNIVEN
It’s another pair of stories set in the world of the web-slinger! A young man must grapple with a life-altering choice in “PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE” by Tom McLaughlin and Scott Kolins. Then, in “6TH” by Brandon Thomas and Ale Garza, Spidey must cope with both the Vulture and his own spider-sense!
32 PGS./MARVEL PSR …$2.99
Now, I can’t pretend that I hadn’t seen the bare text version of this long before last Wednesday, but when the official solicitations hit, and the words were paired with that fly ass Steve McNiven cover, all I got is one word, Keanu Reeves style…WHOA.
I’ve been going through Previews on the monthly since ’92, and my damn name is in this one, attached to Spider-Man of all things. Still not sure this makes any sense, but this very cool, yet strangely bizarre sensation, explains the Kool-Aid grin I’ve been nursing since Christmas, as every couple weeks, another part of the process falls into place, and the whole thing becomes more and more unbelievable.
I wrote the very first draft of 6th several months ago, as Epic was pulling up stakes, and my editors shifted my focus onto the Unlimited titles they were putting together. My first instinct was to key in on the X-Men one, partly because of the larger character base, and a personal mission I’ve consciously undertaken to make people like Cyclops. Okay, maybe “like” is too strong a word, as I’m willing to settle for having more folks understand Cyclops. But ignoring even that, the prospect of writing a Spider-Man short intimidated the hell outta me, as I couldn’t find an angle to approach the character.
Something else which was messing with my head is realizing that Spider-Man should be funny. Maybe not stand up comedy knee-slapping taped in front of a studio audience funny, but Peter Parker’s got that sarcastic wit about him, you know? The natural response from a normal dude that realizes his life is somewhat ridiculous remains his trademark, whether we’re talking a 616 or an Ultimate interpretation.
My friend called one day and said two words that set me off instantly though… spider and sense. I took some notes, brainstorming anything that might come along with being acutely aware of every single nearby danger you’d encounter over the course of a day. My editor also mentioned that I shouldn’t hesitate in having Spidey trade blows with one of his villains, so combining these two aspects, I picked Venom, who nullifies this ability, and would garner some really nice visuals. I set up this really brutal fight in the middle of a street, filled with bystanders, but unfortunately, along the way, I unknowingly contradicted an upcoming element of Venom’s regular series, and was forced to switch villains, which actually spread the story into better directions. Instead of removing Spidey’s power, I amplified its importance, picked the Vulture because I hadn’t seen him in a while, and opened the fight up.
(Even more proof of Ideaspace lies the fact that I specifically chose the Vulture because I hadn’t seen him in a while, and now I think this spring, he’s appearing here, in The Pulse, in the first issue of Marvel Age Spider-Man, and I even think Millar’s using him in his Marvel Knights series over the first couple issues. You throw some lead time into the mix, and you figure that we were probably all thinking the same thing at the same time, and now it looks like Vulture is the villain of the next movie. But I’m getting off track…)
The revised script sits in limbo for a bit, the book changing editorial hands a couple times, but I get a set of notes back in early December. It took a few days to wrap my head around the story again, because seeing as how I write stuff and hate it three days later, you can imagine that after a few weeks, I’m scratching my head at how this ever got turned in. After shaking off my embarrassment, I make the corrections, rewriting a large chunk of it, and giving the panels a little more breathing space, before firing off another draft and patiently waiting for my next set of notes, because that’s how it usually went with Marvel over the past year. A couple days before Christmas, someone at Marvel contacts me, asking for my address, so they could send out the contracts.
Uh… excuse me?
This served as my Christmas present, and a month later, two days after my twenty-fourth birthday, the check arrived, and a couple weeks after that, Garza’s pages got here by way of Fed Ex, looking even more incredible than I’d imagined, and missing not one panel that I asked for.
I said this two weeks ago, but given the situation, I think it bears repeating… being a writer is the best damn gig in the world. For the last two months, I’ve learned exactly why.
Hopefully, it’ll show on May 5th.
By the way, here’s a few strange numbers to consider…
6 drafts- because I kept tweaking little things.
Feb. 6th- the day that the pencils reached my house.
May 5th- graduated college on this date, two years ago.