Saturday, June 30, 2007

Chimaera's Challenge 3: Funtime's Over


'"" is a death word in comics these days...(it) automatically kills off a lot of your sales...I just hope that the "fun" label doesn't hit us too hard. If so, it's just another sign that current readers don't want "fun" comics.' Mark Waid, talking about the potential damage done to sales of THE BRAVE & THE BOLD by reviewers characterizing the book as...well, guess.

My eternal quest to avoid doing actual work regularly takes me to numerous comic-related websites, some news-oriented, some commentary-based, a few review sites. And I've noticed on several of these sites the blame for the current dearth of "fun" comics being laid at the feet of DC Vice President and Executive Editor Dan Didio. The claim that Didio holds to the dictum "Fun comics don't sell" is a common one, though if he has actually said such a thing publicly, I've yet to find a direct quote.

Even if he hasn't said such a thing, the prevailing wisdom at the Big Two (even Three, though when it comes to superheroes, Image no longer has the overall market pull or presence it once did) seems to be decidedly anti-fun, and arguably has for quite some time. Marvel has turned some of its greatest heroes into what are essentially villains, and then allowed those same villains to prevail, on the grounds that this is more reflective of the realistic world which Marvel's characters supposedly live in. (Someday, I want to do a Marvel miniseries about a kid who gets bitten by a radioactive spider and dies of cancer.)

DC, in spite of books like DKR and The Watchmen still generally considered the more traditional of the Big Two, has also progressively darkened its superhero universe in an effort to keep readers involved in storylines. Characters, countries, worlds, and universes are being slaughtered in record numbers, or so it seems to my jaundiced eye.

The rise of darkness in superhero comics has been accompanied by something of a return to '90s style publishing stunts designed to generate interest in titles/properties/characters through something other than the merit of the stories in which those characters appear. (Please note that I say "stories", rather than the merits of the characters themselves, which are only as good or bad as the creator's craft or reader's eye allow them to be.) Variant covers artificially boost sales numbers, company-wide crossovers force writers to put their actual stories on hold to deal with stuff happening "over there", noted creators are brought in to write for established properties (Todd McFarlane made a big deal when he brought four Big-Name Comic Writers in for an issue each of SPAWN; these days, rather than aiming for superior writers who've established themselves in the comics medium, companies are looking to the wider entertainment world, bringing in screenwriters and TV creators to give books a boost.) (Which, now that I think of it, is a weird thing to do, as the companies' money is in the characters, not the creators, and I have a hard time believing sales on ASTONISHING X-MEN will be nearly as good without Joss Whedon and John Cassaday involved.) (Note also that Whedon's pulling away from writing comics for Marvel, precisely because he does see the interconnectedness between titles both Marvel and DC are trading heavily on these days as overly restrictive to him as a creator.)

The term "continuity porn" has been thrown at books like COUNTDOWN and, if it hasn't been already, could be attached to something like Marvel's ILLUMINATI (which, if co-writers Bendis and Reed's critics are to be believed, has less to do with examining hidden chapters of Marvel's history than with wholesale rewriting well-known chapters of same.) There's an element--if not the biggest element, certainly the most vocal--of fandom that does enjoy recognizing the purpose of the lightning rods in the latest JLA/JSA crossover prior to it being revealed to the unenlightened reader who isn't well-versed in 1960s Legion of Superheroes continuity.

To some extent, former members of that element of fandom are the ones who're currently steering things at the Big Two. They realized their dreams and now create stories with the characters they love, stories that are considered "real", or at least legitimate, by other long-time fans who actually have something emotionally invested in the Beyonder being a flawed cosmic cube rather than an Inhuman mutant.

I don't know if I'm part of the fanbase that really enjoys stories steeped in continuity. At this point I'm more inclined to let a continuity gaffe slide (assuming I notice it at all) than I am a writer (or, possibly more likely, an editor) twisting a character's actions out of (my admittedly subjective interpretation of) their established personalities.

But what sells in superhero comics isn't about me, or it shouldn't be, anyway. And it shouldn't be about those fans who are going to buy the next issue of X-Men no matter how much they think it's sucked for the last 20 years. The continuity-laden stories running rampant at the Big Two these days cater to those fans, and that's a clear and present danger to the well-being of superhero comics as a genre, if not North American comics as a medium. Because books laden in continuity are going to alienate new readers, and the old readers are getting older all the time and will die eventually.

Will a non-comics reader coming to a Marvel or DC book think it's an entertaining read? Will they even find it intelligible?

I have a hard time seeing it. And reading something you don't get, that you have no chance to get without reading the last five years of Amazing Spider-Man, is not going to be a positive experience for a theoretical non-comics reader who picks an issue up at random. It will be no fun. Because what's fun for the hardcore fans is not fun for someone who's not one of the Cool Kids.

The accessibility of Chimera's books should be an advantage the studio has over many other superhero comics publishers. Or it would be, in a sane world. Unfortunately, given the state of the direct market, the people most likely to pick up a new superhero book at this juncture are also the ones who enjoy continuity porn, company-wide crossovers, variant covers, etc., etc.

This could be a problem for the creators of the Chimaera Superhero Universe. In the absence of a viable distribution model outside of the direct market, we must find a way to create comics that are fun to both the new comic reader, and marketable to the old.

To Be Continued, as always, If I Feel Like It.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007


(cross-posted to the AFWT blog, Andrew6 liveJournal, and Foley MySpace blog. It's personal, and it's also business. Still having a hard time keeping the two separate.)

In the last 48 hours or so, I have gone from being inexplicably upbeat about my future prospects to completely down about the whole writing thing, a change which, while hardly unfamiliar, also falls on the inexplicable end of the Foley behavioural spectrum. I mean, nothing particularly major changed in reality, but my mood just crashed. If the two Big Things I'm waiting on at the moment failed to pan out--then I could understand feeling like this. But they're still up in the air, and by being up in the air, they were making me very happy just a day or two ago. Now, I'm hardly thinking about them. I'm hardly thinking about anything, really. I'm just...feeling stuff. Which is a less than productive use of my time.

I'm trying to put my finger on what's bothering me, what's actually changed in the last 24 hours that altered my way of looking at things so dramatically. The odds are I've simply been over-indulging in dairy products again and it's entirely chemical. Things that have actually had an effect that are based in something resembling objective reality, or at least had the potential to have an effect, include:

-A lengthy and ultimately kind of pointless e-mail conversation with another creator whose position on life in general and experiences with a mutual publisher in particular are so vastly different from mine that I am actually starting to take his self-confidence, optimism, and seeming success as a personal affront.

-Getting some commentary on a script that amounted to: "I liked everything but the beginning and the end. And the bits in the middle."

-Wrapping my head around doing something I almost never do last week. I didn't think it would bother me as much as it is.

-Wrestler Chris Benoit's death, and the details surrounding it. I was at a local wrestling show the other night, and now I feel strangely guilty.

Maybe not so strangely. Several years ago, a friend of mine jokingly explained his interest in watching downhill skiing by saying it was the most likely place you could watch someone die live on television. A few days later, a skier actually did die--I can't remember her name, but it was all over the news for awhile. Being a callous jerk, I didn't have much sympathy for her, on the grounds that anyone who deliberately throws themselves down a mountain with only a layer of lycra for protection doesn't deserve a lot of sympathy when they hit something on the way down. I made a joke about it the next time I saw my friend, and he practically bit my head off. He clearly felt guilty about having made the original remark, and I didn't really get it. I think I sort of do, now.

I'm sure it's just the dairy.


Sunday, June 24, 2007


The first draft script of the heavily revised INCURSION #1 is done and off.

90% of this week was spent writing e-mails of dubious value and having phone conversations of even more dubious value. This was sometimes entertaining, sometimes depressing, sometimes informative, but this week, this #$&^ing week...

Silly. Silly week.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Well #2.

Make that two days.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007


That certainly wasn't a productive way to spend the day.


Monday, June 18, 2007

When the Devil Drives

I can't imagine it's a coincidence that the day I talked on the phone with no one and e-mailed no one that I finally managed to really sink my teeth into the INCURSION rewrite. The people behind Unusual Project 1 (and only, for the moment) have decided they've got better things to do than get back to me on the thirty pages of script and forty-pager outline revisions for the moment also helped, letting me focus elsewhere for a bit without feeling guilty.

As INCURSION is a paying job, this isn't the worst thing in the world. As it doesn't pay as well as UP1, which itself doesn't pay as well as straight WFH honestly should, it's not the best thing in the world, either. The glass is most definitely half-something. In an effort to not have Jay Bardyla kick me in the groin, I'll not say either empty or full.

I'm hoping to have the INCURSION #1 script done and off by Wednesday night, and, if UP1's guys don't get back to me any time soon, to get the whole damn thing done and off for the end of the month. What was initially pitched as a relatively insignificant rewrite has turned out to be a major overhaul and corresponding pain in the ass. Note to self: next time hold out for more money.

On the Nomoneyup Front, just got word from The Future of Comics (II) John Keane that he's back in the game after a rough couple of months. Work on the first nine pages of BadBoy has resumed, unfortunately not soon enough for The Manager to "go out with it" before Hollywood Pitch Season officially closes down for the summer. I'm just glad John's finding some joy in drawing again--for awhile I was seriously worried that the Future of Comics (II) was going to throw in the towel and start 9-to-5ing it, which would effectively kill THE SPOOKY KIDS and GEMINI for the foreseeable future.

Still waiting for word from The Manager re: ERSATZ. Which itself now feels like last week's news as I move on to other, shinier and/or better-paying jobs. As soon as I know what I'm doing with it, I'm sure my interest level will pick up.

Yesterday I, quite by accident, came up with a brief outline for a three-volume comic series that's practically begging to be pitched to TokyoPop. Of course, pitching to TPop's become something of a controversial thing to do these days, on account of the company's IP acquisition-based publishing model (as opposed to a creator-owned model). Also making the rounds (detailed a bit in today's Lying in The Gutters at are rumours of the company's dumping OEL material on the market with minimal promotional support. Been there, done that. But if they do pay a decent page rate for writers and get an art team on-board...

I'm feeling a bit dispirited at the moment. As it stands, barring extraordinary circumstances, I'll have no new comic work out this year, probably no comic work at all, and that's a galling situation to be in at this stage of my so-called career. Making matters worse is the fact that the material that is out there isn't going to be benefit me or my collaborators even if anyone noticed D2D and PARTING WAYS are still out there and decided to buy them (other than me, of course--I've got a fairly steady flow of both coming to me through Happy Harbor. Well, as steady as Diamond will be with Markosia books, anyway.)

In light of that, I find myself in the irritating position of considering publishing terms I , just a few months ago, swore up and down I'd never accept, simply in order to get something new out there. I continue writing and I've already made more money this year than I did last, but as far as getting stuff published goes, my comics career has stalled. Getting it going again is likely going to take either some serious luck or accepting terms I find disagreeable, to put it mildly.

Needs must when the devil drives.


Friday, June 15, 2007

The Roots of Outrage

To paraphrase (because I don't have the exact quote on-hand) Joss Whedon, "I don't want to create characters people like. I want to create characters people love."

Over at the Newsarama blog, Lisa Fortuner comes at the "Heroes for Hentai"/"Mary-Jane: Thong Launderer" from an angle I should've seen myself but, in my general apathy towards characters I don't own and am not immediately working on, managed to miss.

"It amazes me that it never occurs to certain people that the problem is not one of jealousy or lack of attraction, but of identification with the character."

I'll admit, my initial reaction to the whole thing was "If you don't like it, don't buy it." I also questioned the wisdom of publicly criticizing, much less angrily denouncing, the company or creators involved for making aesthetic decisions based on business considerations, on the grounds that that sort of online noise is free publicity for what the one complaining considers distasteful. That's almost an "At Best" possibility, too--there also exists the possibility of a kneejerk backlash from people who don't see what the problem is at all and think the ugly fat chicks should just shut up.

I don't think anyone should shut up about anything. I do think that the internet is, with rare exceptions, not the ideal place to advocate for one side of a divisive idea--there's just too many a-holes out there looking to rile people up. I know I've taken a few shots at people who think Harry Potter's promoting witchcraft to children, and I don't even particularly like Harry Potter. Certainly not as much as I like pissing off people I think are idiots.

So I came to the whole thing with the more "meta" outlook being someone who makes these things on a regular basis by necessity has to some degree, rather than someone who invests in comics solely as heroic fantasies. It's been years since I stood in front of a mirror and shot Greedo (first), and regardless of their rating, there's no way H4H is aimed at nine-year-olds, or at a female audience. Which, as it features a lot of butt-kicking women protagonists, non-direct market logic would lead one to think it ought to be.

In spite of that, Misty Knight likely has female fans who identify with the characters (maybe even some male ones), as do Colleen Wing and almost certainly the Black Cat. And those people are seeing their heroes brought low in a crass attempt to cater to a different audience--in fact, to the most disturbing elements of stereotypical direct market mainstream audience.

No wonder they're upset.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Graphic Comics vs. Comic Novels. Or something.

(this entry is cross-posted on pretty much every online journal I've got)

Quick note: Last night my neuroses grabbed me by the plums and got me worried that I was flip to the point of insulting when I mentioned Happy Harbor Comics' Shuster Award win for Outstanding Canadian Comic Retailer yesterday.

So, just in case that was how it sounded, I want to make it perfectly clear that, as far as I'm concerned, what Jay Bardyla and Shawna Roe have accomplished with Happy Harbor here in Edmonton is nothing short of amazing. They are an inspiration to me and, I suspect, dozens if not hundreds of other local comic fans and I've nothing but the deepest respect for either of them, even if Jay does Cry Like A Little Girl from time to time. Who doesn't? I still get a bit weepy at the end of the Bill Murray film "Scrooged", so I'm certainly not in a sound position to be throwing stones.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, I'd have said all that even if Jay and Shawna didn't let me hang out behind the counter for six hours a week and read floppy comics I can't afford to buy for free.


From the boards, some early-morning pontificating from me on the "Comics vs. Graphic Novel" issue, in response to a post by ATHENA VOLTAIRE writer Steve Bryant:

Anything that will potentially add to the audience of the medium is a Good Thing in my book, but I do have issues with the putting on of airs in an effort to gain cultural legitimacy.

That said, in my limited experience it's marketing folks that are putting on those airs. If calling a tulip a rose will sell more tulips, I say go for it. It's when a graphic novelist thinks his rose is automatically superior to my comic creator's tulip that there are going to be problems.

Fortunately, when the question of "What do you do?" is put bluntly, I can't recall a big name comic creator who self-identifies as someone who creates graphic novels. They all make comics, they all know they make comics, and in my experience, they all know that calling comics graphic novels is a marketing move that has little, if any, effect on their creative practice.

When someone asks me about the terminology these days, I explain that my only real problem with the term graphic novel is that to me it sounds more like porn than comic books. Then I do my best Bob Guccione impression and say "These books are graphic novels. Very graphic...and very novel..."

Given the fickle nature of North American pop culture, I don't think the term graphic novel has been completely cemented in the public consciousness--there's still a chance to re-position the term comic book as something other than shorthand for "immature kids' stuff".

Though hearing of anyone wanting to do a two-page graphic novel makes me think it's not a very good chance, at this point...

Full thread here:


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Day In The Life

Managed to get a decent amount of sleep, if not a decent amount of decent sleep, thanks to the judicious use of chemical consciousness suppressants. Woke up to find an e-mail from Big Publishing Company Editor saying they'd be happy to look at D2D and Parting Ways and asking me to send copies.

Another e-mail from my lawyer led to a phone call in which he described my desire to include reversion clauses if certain conditions aren't meant in a WFH contract for Small Press Publisher 1 isn't a good idea. Said the lawyer, "You're trying to turn a car into a boat. It's going to take a lot of effort and it's more than likely to sink anyway." (This would've been the Quote of the Day if I hadn't come across something better--see below.) Bottom line: get as much creative stuff nailed down prior to signing the contract so I know SPP1 and I are on the same page, but come to terms with the fact that it is work for hire and I will not be considered an author or creator of something I wrote and created, or walk away. My lawyer would walk away. But then, my lawyer's written for Marvel and DC and walked away from an offer at Vertigo. If I as a writer had my lawyer's options, I'd walk away, too. But if I had those options, I wouldn't even be talking to SPP1 in the first place.

I really want to write ERSATZ, but after talking to a couple people who've worked with SPP1, I'm extremely leery of going into a WFH arrangement with the company, at least not on a story that originated with me. On the other hand, without SPP1 supplying an artist and creative team support, there's just no way the comic is going to come into existence any time in the near future. I'm over-committed to artists as it is--just ask Nick Johnson, who's still waiting for script pages of HOLIDAY MEN beyond the first two. (In my defence, I'm still waiting for character designs for HM beyond the first two, too.)

What to do, what to do. If only there was someone who could help me make this decision, who could give me an honest appraisal of my options. If only I had a manager...

...Oh, wait. I do have a manager. Wrote Carina an e-mail with the ERSATZ pitch and outline and asked if she thought it would have legs as a spec screenplay with no comic to support the property. She's thinking it over and will get back to me in a couple days.

At some point, the decision comes down to what I'm willing to give up to write something I want to write. I'm in the throes of inspiration for ERSATZ right now--I could probably write the entire script by the end of the month even with my other obligations. But to get it out there, I'd have to lose not just control, but legal recognition of my work for what it is.

This shouldn't be a hard decision, it really shouldn't. But for someone on my current rung of the industry ladder, losing IP rights in order to get a book published is par for the course.

I hate this rung of the industry ladder. I've got to get off this rung of the industry ladder.

After sending the copies of D2D and Ways to Big Publisher Editor, I realized I may have made a bit of a boo-boo and breached standard Big Publishing submission etiquette. Had an e-mail exchange with a possible candidate for an agent who'd handle the publishing end of things to make sure I wasn't, and am still a little uncomfortable that I might be, in spite of some assurances. This would be easier if he actually was my agent, or if I had another publishing-oriented agent. If we don't decide to work together, I'll have to put some elbow grease into getting that end of things handled. God knows I'm doing a piss-poor job of it myself...

After getting that out of the way, I got an e-mail from George Singley showing some concept sketches from the artist for TITUS: HEROIC FAILURE. That book is going to be bad, dirty fun. Had a lengthy phone conversation about George during which I regaled him with my theories about creating grassroots support for a small press comic. "That's a good idea," said George. "See, stuff like this is why I don't believe what all the other people say about you."

"Pshaw," says I. "The only thing anyone says about me is a I'm a bitch to work with, and you already know that."

3:00's bearing down and I haven't gotten ahead of e-mails and phone calls. Finally manage to get some work done, revising the outline for the 40-pager for UP1, before getting into an e-mail discussion with a couple of colleagues regarding the relative merits of the e-comic, the ongoing series, series of miniseries, and original graphic novel formats. I personally strongly favour OGNs, just because there's no question of issues running late or a story getting cancelled before completion. Frankly, if I were Diamond, I'd refuse to sell anything but original graphic novels from any small press company that fell more than a month behind schedule or cancelled a miniseries mid-storyline. Probably just as well I'm not Diamond...

Talked to Jay at the Harbor and find out a local filmmaker wants to set up a meeting to discuss optioning Parting Ways. The idea of "doing a meeting" with someone tickles me.

Revised the first five pages of script for SIX SHOTS, retyping the dialogue in the Dreaded Lower Case to make life easier for the letterer.

Made supper, ate it, took several painkillers, tried to write stuff that needed to be written (still does, come to think of it), ended up writing blog and LiveJournal entries.

Today is now officially over. Tomorrow: INCURSION and a shift at the Best Canadian Comic Retailer. Or possibly just the shift. In which case, Friday: INCURSION. I swear it.



"I didn't cry this much at my wedding." Happy Harbor's Jay Bardyla, accepting the 2007 Harry Kremer Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Retailer.

A video of Jay Crying Like a Little Girl can be found here:



My buddy Scott O. Brown dropped me a line to say that his company at Cyberosia had, at long last, acquired the left-over stock of the Speakeasy Comics run of Jamie Delano's epic 20/20 VISIONS hardcover. Art by Frank Quitely, Steve Pugh, and a couple other notables whose names currently escape me.

This is good news. I shall have to dig out and reread my copy of 2020V now.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

World-weary sigh.

There are days dealing with the business end of my so-called writing career gives me a headache, and this has been one of them. Better a headache than a heartache, I suppose, but one could easily lead to the other.

I don't know which distresses me more, dealing with small-press comic publishers or dealing with lawyers. One costs me energy and the other money, and both are in short supply these days.

Started writing ERSATZ as a screenplay while waiting for the comic deal to fall apart, which seemed inevitable a few hours ago. Now, maybe not...mayyyybe.

And then, when all seems bleak, from out of the blue an old acquaintance pops up with an e-mail address for a Big Publisher Editor and says they've talked to said Editor and he's willing to take a look at something.

I feel like a fish looking at a nice juicy worm, trying to figure out where the hook is before I take a bite.

Tomorrow: INCURSION and revised outline for UP1 40-pager II. Or Death.

Don't ask which I'd prefer.


Monday, June 11, 2007


Outline for ERSATZ is done and off. It's the last thing I should be working on at this point, but it was the thing on the To Do Pile that I could get moved on to the next phase of development fastest, and after the (to put it mildly) lackluster work week I had, I really needed to feel like I'd made some progress on something.

Gave myself a deadline of Wednesday night for the revised outline for the final 40-pager of UP1. And then I told the editor that was the deadline. Which he wasn't asking about. But nothing gets me working harder than knowing someone's going to give me grief if I don't.

Also got to deal with the revised revised (revised) outline for INCURSION and get that script rolling at a decent clip.


It's nice that people who make movies like my work; it'd be nicer if people who make movies and have money liked my work. Oh well. Beggars and choosers.


Big congratulations to Happy Harbor Comics for winning the Harry Kremer Outstanding Canadian Comic Retailer Award on Saturday. I have a hard time envisioning a store that deserves it more (but then I must admit I've got a soft spot for the comic shop that bought and sold 10% or more of the total volumes moved of PARTING WAYS and DONE TO DEATH.)


Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Weather changes led to health issues led to a terrible day, production-wise, which has led me to start thinking again about trying to fashion a story for LI'L HANNAH & HER BIG FRIKKIN' GORILLA.

Nothing good can come of this. NOTHING.

This is going to be a terrible week for writing, I can tell already.

AND I've got a headache.


Monday, June 4, 2007


In a previous post, I said “The success or failure of the Chimaera Superhero Universe will hinge on three elements: promotion, quality work, and an audience looking for something different than what they can get from DC, Marvel, and even Image.”

Of the three, the one I’m most concerned about is the first, because promotion takes money. I’m not sure how much money the various parties involved are willing to expend on marketing the books; my personal experience with small press publishers leads me to suspect the answer is “not much, if anything.” Which could be fine if it’s established as being the case up-front and the Chimaera brain-trust can find money elsewhere. The Free Comic Book Day project could help out a lot, but assuming everything works out as it’s tentatively planned, FCBD’ll still be seven or eight months too late to help the first Chimaera books coming out the gate.

I shouldn’t worry about this, and I’m sure George is sick of my talking his ear off about how important this is, but, again in my limited experience as part of the small press, promotion’s the ball that always seems to get dropped, and it’s the most damaging ball to let bounce away from you, especially early on. You can have the best book in the world but this is a loud, loud business and getting people to notice what you’ve got isn’t easy. Just ask anyone who’s worked the small press area at the San Diego Comicon. Then duck, because recalling that horror is probably going to trigger an explosion of homicidal rage.

So, promotion gets bums in the seats. What’s going to keep them there is quality work. George has a history of hooking great artists up for Chimaera projects--hell, SILENT GHOST artist Brett Weldele is up for an Eisner for his work on that book and SOUTHLAND TALES. That's always a big plus in a visual medium, though not, I like to think, the be-all and end-all of a successful book. Of course, I’m a writer, so I’m naturally defensive about the absolutely critical role I play in things and likely to overestimate my own importance…

Comic writing is a trickier proposition than art at the best of times. One look at a page tells you whether or not you like an artist, while it can take several pages (or these days, several issues) to get a handle on a writer. In addition to the stories being executed with a degree of professional competence, the notion of quality writing in Chimaera’s superhero universe is going to some degree be entangled in the final element of success. As the First Creators on the various Chimaera books, it’s the writers’ job to concoct characters, stories--an entire universe, really--that provides a superhero audience with something they want, but which isn’t being provided by the Big Three.

This is part of the reason the conventional wisdom regarding superheroes is that it’s not worth trying to do them outside Marvel, DC or Image--the market has spoken (at least as far as giving Valiant, Defiant, Malibu and any other number of superverses the finger) and therefore the readers are getting what they want. On first blush, the current upward sales trends for the Big Two seem to support that (though I personally believe sales are being artificially inflated via instant collectability stunts like variant covers and a slump is on the way.) (The cup is never half-full. NEVER.)

So what can Chimaera bring to the table that Marvel, DC, and Image aren’t?

When George first described the future first press release for the CSU, he originally wanted the first line of the PR to be something along the lines of “Remember when superhero universes were fun, exciting places to be?” And when working on TITUS: HEROIC FAILURE, TALES OF STUPEFICTION (changed the name from Spooky Tales), and Chimaera’s Canadian Champion Contingent, I’ve always come back to “fun” as the requirement for whatever I contribute to the Chimaeraverse.

There’s at least two reasons this is potentially problematic.

To be continued. If I feel like it.



Actually managed to get some real, honest-to-god writing work done today, which is a pleasant change from the last four or five. The entire upper floor of the house is unbearably hot, and that unfortunately is where both my office and my bed are located. Suffice it to say, I've spent a lot of time the last little while sitting in front of my monitor wishing I wasn't so damn sticky and could focus enough to write something other than laments over how unbearably hot it is in here.


Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Brass Tacks

Someone on a LiveJournal comic creator community had the misfortune of identifying himself as a comic writer before going on to mention that they'd never actually finished writing a comic because they were: 1) a perfectionist, 2) lacking a peer group, and 3) lacking experience.

All of which sent me into a berserker fury of a post that I then managed to tone down before posting it as the following:

"This is probably going to come off as more than a little flip, and I'm sorry about that but I can't think of a less brusque way of putting this, so here's my advice:

Just write the damn story.

Write it, *finish it* (at least your portion of it), put it aside and write the next one while looking for collaborators to finish the first one. Repeat as necessary until you:

1) Have an actual comic,
2) Give up, or
3) Die.

I've seen lots of people, too many of them with legitimate talent, take themselves out of the game with the "I want it to be perfect" excuse. I tend to see it as people insecure over their own abilities rationalizing their failure to do what they claim they want to do (this is based on my personal experience with others who've made the claim; I don't know you well enough to say one way or the other about you.) If you never have to finish something and put it out where someone can point out its flaws, then it forever exists in your own mind, as fantastically wonderful as you can imagine it to be.

If you're happy with that, that's great, it really is, but don't call yourself a comic writer. There are millions of people not writing their stories and thousands who are writing them, and hundreds who are finishing them and taking the actions necessary to move those stories to the next phase of their development.

Finishing the story is the *easy* part. Then you've got to find an artist, and/or a letterer, and/or a colourist, and/or a publisher. Then you've got to convince people to buy, or even just read, your work.

Look: Your stuff is not perfect. It's never going to be perfect, and if you ever did do something that *was* perfect, the thing you did after that wouldn't be and you'd be living forever in the shadow of your one perfect work which you'll never be able to match up to.

Striving for excellence is fine. Networking is fine. Socializing is fine (in controlled doses--I've seen a lot of people who were more interested in being writers than they were in actually writing, and that doesn't fly.)

NOT FINISHING AT LEAST ONE STORY is not fine. Not for someone who fancies him or herself a writer.

You don't need peers (they'll only slow you down right now) and you don't need experience (which you'll get more of from actually writing and finishing a story than you will from doing anything else.) You need a finished story; once you have that, then you can go to people for suggestions/critique. And then you can take that and gain experience by applying what you've learned, either in revision or in working on your next story.

Right now, for you, the only thing that matters is getting a story done. And there's nothing stopping you from writing it.

What are you waiting for?



UPDATE: Happily, the fellow on the receiving end of that rant seems to have taken it as the pep-talk it was, for all my initial frustration, ultimately intended to be. Now I need to read the damn thing over a few times myself and hopefully it'll inspire me to actually, y'know, get something done, too.

Friday, June 1, 2007


Posted this at the Maple Ink Forums, seemed worth repeating here:

GUTSVILLE #1 is one of the best single issue packages I've come across in some time. With the exception of a single ad on the inside back cover, every page (including the back cover) features GV material. In addition to the standard comic length story*, there's lots of "back matter", including Ray Fawkes' and Fiona's List of Oddities and Curiosities and the first installment of an illustrated prose story in the Arthur Conan Doyle tradition.

Disregarding the book's actual central concept (which I love but can see could be an acquired taste), from a technical standpoint GUTSVILLE #1 is outstanding. I'd recommend it to anyone looking to try and create a small press floppy as a concrete example of How It Should Be Done. Considered as a package, it's right up there with the LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN floppies, as far as I'm concerned.**

(*written by Simon Spurrier, art by Frazer Irving)
(**and I'm not just saying that because Fiona's The Future of Comics.***)
(***She is, though.)