Resolved to write more this year, and as usual, took things to the extreme.
My increased productivity is likely the result of the good vibes I’ve been nursing for more than a month now, but as usual, I’m not allowed to reveal how they got that way. What I can do without breaking too many rules, is comment on all the extra work I’ve managed, being slightly more relaxed than usual. I’m attempting to push myself a lot harder this year, juggling several different projects at once, and officially campaigning for the position of full-time professional writer. Go hard or don’t go at all, right?
What follows next are the assorted projects helping me make good on my resolution, hopefully hitting a venue near you very soon.
Thought Power Six-
Last weekend was a good one, and not just because of the traffic spike that Quesada interview probably caused. That Friday, I received a set of penciled pages, that one of my scripts helped create, and it led to me having a bit of a moment. Instantly becoming aware that this relentless pursuit was always leading to something is difficult to describe, but the word reaffirming comes to mind. Being that a writer’s job is to make people believe things that don’t really exist, every once in a while you have to wonder if you’re doing the same to yourself. Nothing worse than believing your own hype. But looking at what my script had turned into, and trying to remember what I could’ve been thinking about when I wrote the thing, or what CD was playing, I finally understood. I knew it.
I’ve been right this whole time.
Being a writer is the best damn gig in the world.
Romantics aside, seeing a Word document turned three dimensional is something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. At least I hope not. Cause on February 6, 2004…being me did not suck.
I remembered what was coming next though, because I got a similar feeling when Clement hit me with those Cross pages a couple months back. When the euphoria died down a little, I realized that I’m supposed to place words all over this now, and suddenly, the script that’d gotten me to this point simply wasn’t good enough. The narrative was choppy, all of the lines were wack, and don’t even get me started on that ending. It’ll never sound good enough, and I know this, because this column puts me through it every week, but this was different somehow. Despite my concerns, I suppress the urge to rewrite the entire thing, and only tweak a few things here and there. I’ve been itching for another “pass” at it the last couple days, so if I can last the night without changing it again, I’ll be very impressed.
But seriously, on Feb. 6th?
You couldn’t stop me if you tried…
Wrapping up the finalized Cross proposal, before the colors come back. Shortly after Clement finished the cover, I had an idea for a visual signature that could allow the book’s covers to leap off the stands and hit you in the throat, before comfortably settling into the pile that encompasses your weekly stash. I’m obsessed with cover images that do more than simply slot the company logo into the top left corner, with the title written in large letters, top and center. I want someone to look at the shelves, and say, “DAMN, I wasn’t even going to buy this Cross thing, but the cover’s just too hot.”
Following heavy revision, I think the cover letter is finally doing everything I’m telling it to do, but I keep checking back in to clean up the sentences. Not sure how much my pitching technique has improved, but I do know that introducing myself and the creative team, the main characters, premise, and central conflict, along with the secondary goal of the project, using only one page, would’ve given me an aneurysm a few years back.
It’s also strange to step back and consider that this idea has been under development for a little over a year now. Whether that’s testament to the characters’ willpower or my own remains to be seen, but I’m seriously putting all of you on notice, if 2005 starts and
I’m still talking about Cross and changing the game for black characters, somebody pull me aside. The ATR preview went over very well, so I shouldn’t have to resort to outright bribery to get this through somewhere.
As usual, stay tuned. I’ll probably drop that cover off here in a couple weeks.
The Tactile Man-
I’ve really tried to get down with the whole idea of webcomics, but there’s one very relevant factor that keeps us at arm’s length. This is highly personal, and I’m not quite sure how I got this way, but I’m a man who enjoys the act of touching. It’s somewhat unfortunate, and it really can’t be helped, but the prospect of pointing and clicking my way to or through a comic is just something that doesn’t appeal to me. The tactile sensation is a huge part of the reading experience, and that mouse just ain’t doing it. The obvious question would be, given this rather considerable hurdle, why am I planning to write one, then?
Well, mostly for all the reasons above, as I do enjoy a challenge, and seriously, if the artist who asked me had asked you…you would’ve said yes, too. Can’t say anything about his identity of course, but he’s currently working among the Big Two, and the whole thing will be a real chance to experiment with format and presentation. Initially, I thought he just wanted my help in developing an idea, but he specifically asked for one of my stories, so I delivered The Remainder, a spiritual thriller that I thought could handle persistent chapter breaks.
The idea itself almost made its way into a column probably a year ago, but I changed my mind about printing it, before I could transcribe it. It deals with the concept of “untimely death,” and thematically, is a sequel to that story I just got the artwork back for. I purposefully chose it because I thought its relatively small scale would allow me to jump in and out of the narrative without becoming incredibly trapped there, but I should’ve known better. Spent almost a week walking through the plot, scripting a nice number of pages, and rewriting the ending, which seems to grow more and more twisted with each revision. One of those things that you write with a big Kool-Aid grin on your face, because you know people will respond.
We haven’t decided who’ll be approached with it quite yet, but hopefully it’ll be free to access, and easy to print out and take with you. That way even I’ll have no excuse not to read it.
The Pitch That Killed Mark Powers-
About two years back, Joe Quesada helped me to make some inroads with a few editors on his staff, and one of the people I exchanged mail with was former Marvel editor Mark Powers. I was pitching my ass off back then, asking for critiques, advice, and general pointers that would get my work on their desk, and keep it there for more than two minutes. A few of them had much more time to steer me along than others, and seemed to indulge my occasional stunt. For instance…
I had this project I was calling The Syndicate. It was a large scale conspiracy epic that focused on a group of supervillains who stopped long enough to seriously consider why The Avengers and the X-Men were always kicking their ass. The answer they settled on was fairly obvious. Crazy costumes and colorful antics seem to attract attention to criminals, and criminals don’t like that, because it prevents them from doing criminal-type shit. So this brainstorm I was enjoying told me to develop a book that tossed a lit match onto the traditional conventions of the “supervillain,” rebuilding it for the
twenty-first century, and introducing a group of immoral, strangely appealing bastards, that just may get away with “taking over the world.” My adoration of the X-Files was manifesting itself heavily here, and like the show said, “The truth is out there.” Only these guys and gals would put a bullet in you before even getting near it.
Condensed the thing to about two pages and one morning just bombed the Marvel office with it, every address I had my hands on got a copy of this thing. Powers replied within a couple days, and sent me this excited e-mail about how he wanted to hear more immediately. Mind you, this was back in the day and if a Marvel editor returned my mail, I was emotionally satisfied for about a month. He had me send him a compilation of my best scripts, prose, and columns, to get a better grasp of my style and voice. I sent it off and a couple weeks went by, Powers promising to read through it when he got a little more free time.
Then he left Marvel.
Since then it’s been relegated to the “secret files,” cringing in horror as several of my favorite titles tread on similar ground, and ensure that if I can put it out there, I’ll spend half the time trying to convince people I’m not biting somebody else’s style. Such is the way of things, but a couple recent events have convinced me that maybe 2004 is the place for it, so with the help of an extremely talented artist I met at the San Diego convention, I’ve started to put it back together. Had a long, long talk on the phone the other night about character motivations, and how the entire conspiracy fits together, so now I’m preparing these “studies” for each main player and we’re going to do the back and forth a bit, while physically designing the characters.
The success of books like Wanted and Sleeper implies that the market is at the very least, interested in material like this, and the concept is strong enough on its own merits to risk the bandwagon label. Had to change the title though, and am officially burying all information into the securest of hard drives. And speaking of secrets…
The Liefeld Connection-
The second issue of Youngblood: Genesis should be out in March, I think, and I’m assuming Brigade will follow shortly, but that’s all I can comment on. There is a very logical and interesting explanation for the extended delay between issues 1 and 2 of both Genesis and Youngblood: Bloodsport, but if I say why, it’ll ruin the surprise. And who wants that? But there are a few more Thomas/Liefeld collabos in the works. Stay tuned.
All right folks, that should last you until next Monday.
Hope everyone got some love for Valentine’s Day.