Posts Tagged ‘comic books’

It’s been said that there’s nothing new under the sun. Everything’s already been done.

Maybe.

But that’s why you’ve got to combine stuff, make it new, and make it your own.

Take Deadpool, for example:

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Deadpool = Spider-Man + Wolverine + Deathstroke + Ash from Army of Darkness

 

 

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A hilarious Choose-Your-Own-Adventure!

I’ve been sending my work to comic book publishers. I did some research and thought I could share it with my readers.

First, I went to my local comic stores and wrote down the names of independent companies I saw. I also jotted down what kind of comics they published (horror, pop culture) and the quality. Then I looked them up online and tried to find their submission guidelines.

Specifically, I was looking at their writers’ guidelines, and if they accept scripts without art, but some of this would be helpful for artists or writer/artists.

On a few of them, I mention they are looking for high concept stuff. What do I mean by “high concept?” That’s a judgment call on my part. It’s like when you can distill a story down to a flashy advertising phrase.

Abstract Studios is just Terry Moore’s stuff.

Alias is now part of Lamppost

Antarctic Press is open to non-super hero submissions from writers. However, they will not pair you with artists. They will keep a promising script on hand. For what I’m not sure.

Ape Entertainment – Open to subs from creative teams. Can’t just be a writer. Have to have it all together. Also does RPGs.

Arcana – Finished projects only.

Archaia – Finished projects only.

Aspen – No submissions

Asylum Press – Horror only.

Avalon/Haberlin – Might just be his own work.

Avatar – Have to be famous

Big Dog Ink – Didn’t look like it needed anything. There’s a submission link that brings you to forums where you can post links to your current works, but that’s it. Might be more for artists to post work.

Blue Water – No writers at this time. Looking for high concept stuff.

Boom – No subs

Campfire – Has a submission queue on web site, but I think it’s more for artists. Tend to have retellings of classic stories, so the Greek warthog story might work. A few originals are still period pieces.

Dark Horse – Looking for finished products

Desperado – Established only, writer artist teams only, now an imprint of IDW

Devil’s Due – Does not seem to be accepting submissions. Definitely will if you’re already famous.

Do Gooder Press – Just his stuff

Dynamite – Send a query. Top names, though. Doubtful.

Exploding Funny Books is just Eric Powell’s stuff.

Humanoids Press – I sent e-mail. They look like they only do top names, but I don’t know. In reply, they said there are no submission guidelines and to feel free to send anything.

Icon – Marvel creators only

IDW – Doesn’t look like they’re looking for anything. They responded to an e-mail of mine that said to submit through the e-mail for letters.

Lamp Post – Christian

Oni – Not open to traditional submissions. “we decided to suspend the submissions process in favor of a more streamlined process-namely, viewing online comics, portfolios, and resumes, reading minicomics, and meeting people at conventions. We are always looking for talent. Come by our booth at any convention and introduce yourself. We are more than happy to talk.”

Peregrine – Just their stuff

Red 5 – Open to relative unknowns, as long as you’re established. But you must have a team.

Slave Labor – Finished only.

Tokyopop – Closed

Top Cow – Finished projects. Top names only.

Top Shelf – Finished projects only.

Top Shelf 2.0 – Web stuff. Finished projects only. There’s an anthology thing online. No special guidelines, e-mail reply from editor: just send me a link or small attachment!

Udon – Doesn’t seem to publish anything but a few licensed properties and their own stuff. But can be hired as an art studio.

Viz – only Japanese

Zenescape – If you have an artist draw it first, “we’ll strongly consider it,” but there’s no room in the publishing schedule to do other people’s work.

Someone wrote on their guidelines: Web sites like Digital Webbing, DeviantART and Penciljack are excellent sites for connecting with other creators.

I got the post card for the Philadelphia Comic Con this week. On the front, there are 10 small pictures of comic creators. On the back, a ton of actors, actresses and wrestlers.

I’m not the first person to complain about this. And no offense to Pam Grier, but how are we supposed to keep the comic industry afloat when you have to bring in non-comic related celebrities to boost sales?

You want more people to come to your shows, so you grab some movie stars. That raises the prices. Which raises the ticket prices for the people who are only going to see comics. And it reduces the amount of money with which they buy comics.

I guess it could be argued that without the stars, the shows might go bankrupt.

I saw a commercial today for the remake of “Arthur.” The commercial didn’t impress me much, but not because of the content. It just seemed like the studio wasn’t going to go big on this one.

I’m actually OK with a remake of “Arthur.” I loved those movies when I was a kid, even though I’m sure I didn’t get most of the jokes. I don’t know if Russell Brand has the same charm as Dudley Moore, or if his acting chops are up to par…or if he’s even an actor. Is he a singer? I don’t even know.

Anyway, maybe I’ve been beaten into submission with remakes to the point where I just shrug them off these days, but I really don’t mind that they’ve remade “Arthur.”

You’ve got an alcoholic playboy who builds a robotic suit to fight crime…I mean, an alcoholic playboy who has to settle down to keep his family’s money. That’s a good enough set-up for a dozen comedies. The original isn’t the be-all, end-all. And any remake might only need the set-up, Arthur, the Liza Minnelli character and the John Gieldgud character (this time around Jennifer Garner and Helen Mirren) and the rest just writes itself.

I’ve heard several people say (people ranging from Entertainment Weekly writers to my friend who puts peanut butter on his head) that they shouldn’t remake good movies, just bad ones. This is true. (Come on, people, remake “House!”)

If a move has a good premise, but flawed follow-through, then by all means, give it another shot.

Of course, some movies are dated and need to stay dated. “Casablanca,” “Citizen Kane,” and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” popped into my head as movies that were indicative of their time. If you did remake them, they’d have to be period pieces.

Disclaimer/background: I’m a traditionalist. I don’t think people should break rules of storytelling unless there’s a good reason. I write comic books, short fiction and children’s books. Just to put my comments in perspective, these are my interests and favorites: My favorite superhero is Spider-Man, and I also like Justice League and Batman. My favorite comic writers lately have been Kurt Busiek, Peter David, and Geoff Johns. I am a huge Transformers fan. In children’s books, I go either simple or meta: either really simple stories or books about stories. In movies and books, I am more impressed with something small that makes me feel something rather than something I’m told is a “must-read” or a must-see.”

The Goldfish Principle.

A goldfish will grow larger in a bigger tank. If you have a small tank, or a crowded tank, the goldfish somehow regulates its size. In a larger tank, it grows enough to spread out. It’s an obscure piece of trivia.

Actually, I’m not even sure it’s true, but it’s a good metaphor for time management. A project will take as much time as you let it.

Let’s say you give yourself a month to write a Green Lantern fanfic comic book, it will take you that entire month. Because in the back of your head, you keep thinking “I’ve got ’til the end of the month.”

But if you give yourself a week. And really stick to that deadline, then you WILL get that project done in a week.

The best thing about that: You have three more weeks that month to write something else. If you gave yourself an entire month, than you’d only have one finished project to show for at the end.

Obviously, your goal has to be realistic. You’re not going to be writing an entire screenplay in a month. (Not if you have real job, anyway.)

And before you worry about quality and doing a rush job, what I mean by this is to write the first draft of something. You can always go back. Or, if it’s a considerably long project, you can cut it up into smaller pieces and decide that completion of one of those pieces, say, the first chapter of a novel, counts as one. I got a bunch of comic books written by writing one scene a day. (The blog on this is here: https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2010/05/)

I’ve worked as a reporter for years. We have firm deadlines. Maybe that’s what helps.

Last year, I put myself on a budget of doing something every week. This meant I would do one of the following: Send work out to a publisher, upload a video to my YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/verylittleknowledge?feature=mhum), or do a considerable amount of work on a project. Considerable = finishing a story, comic book, or a large chapter of a book. I made a calendar and wrote down every finished project. I turned out to be something like 21 over by the end of the year. So not only did I reach my goal, but I got extra stuff done as well.

Therefore, I keep my goldfish small and manageable.

Here’s a link to a very funny YouTuber, Shyaporn Theerakulstit, of 500 Impressions (In 2 Minutes) fame. In it, he challenges people to work on something every week. I probably got the idea from him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViNF6_3fHfU&feature=channel

A lot of movies and shows seem to have a character with autism, or more specifically with Asperger syndrome, and the characters are all more or less the same.

In “Mary and Max,” Max turns out to have Asperger syndrome. All the charm, for me, slipped away from the character. He stopped being a quirky recluse with no social skills and instead became a textbook.

At the point it is mentioned that he had Asperger’s, it was no longer a story about Max. It was a story about Asperger’s syndrome. The condition became the character.

A commercial I saw advertised an episode of “Parenthood” with the boy asking about Asperger’s, because he was apparently just diagnosed. It felt like “A very special episode of…”

I never thought I’d blog about “Dear John” twice (Here’s the other one: https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/%E2%80%9Cdear-john%E2%80%9D-and-how-weakness-defines-character/), but at one point, John’s father is determined to have Asperger’s syndrome. My wife, a special ed teacher, had it nailed already, of course. Especially because they had already introduced a boy with autism earlier.

“Dear John” wasn’t about Asperger’s. That was just a subplot. “Rain Man” was definitely about autism. But “Rain Man” was based on a real person.

I think writers try so hard to paint these characters in a positive light, and be accurate, that they stop making them characters and just make them cut-outs. They have their little obsessions, which are interchangeable from character to character. And they have their odd way of looking at the world. In sad movies, they are constantly at odds with the way the world works. In reassuring movies, they look at the world through the eyes of a wise and noble child.

Writers have two audiences in mind. The first is someone who knows someone with autism. These people they are trying not to offend. The other are people who don’t know anyone with autism. I think the writers are trying to educate these people.

These are all good goals, but they don’t really make for good storytelling.

Here’s a thought I’ve had before and I’ve got to say it again: The only way to make movies inclusive of people who are different is to make the movie not about the difference. If the whole movie is about a character with autism, you’re not building bridges. They are still the “other.” Studied. Under glass. If you want to show autism as a part of life, show an autistic family member in the movie, but don’t have the whole movie be about that.

I have a comic book super hero whose brother is autistic. Will that fact be the center of stories at some point? Undoubtedly. However, until then, he’s just Jake’s older brother Ronnie, who likes to play video games with him and keeps his mom on her toes.

Sometimes writers like to pile on the villains, and somehow they think this makes it better.

I believe I’ve said it before, that the thrill you get when a character shows up is no substitute for them actually doing something.

This X-Force “Angels and Demons” story I just read has Donald Pierce and Cameron Hodge and a host of others. It’s kind of cool for that, but at the same time, enough already.

Also, if you pile on the baddies too much, they become generic. In Robin: Year One (I think) Robin single-handedly takes on Mr. Freeze and two other A-listers, maybe Joker and Poison Ivy, I can’t remember now. But individually, Batman’s top villains are a danger to him and any sidekick, and you mean to tell me that this kid is going to take them all on in one of his first adventures? Besides, why would all these villains team up anyway?

I guess part of it is fatigue. How many times have you seen a huge villain team-up? It has to mean something.

So, the lesson here is if you team up multiple villains, make sure of the following things:

1. They have a good plot. A bunch of villains all coming together for one big fight is not a plot.

2. They’re personalities are accurate. They can’t just ignore their eccentricities and interpersonal issues in order to streamline the story.

An Iconic Image

Doomsday

I bought the “best selling graphic novel of all time,” the death of Superman.

Firstly, when Doomsday first appears, Superman is fighting some monsters under Metropolis. Later, when Doomsday is besting the JLA, he’s giving an interview to school kids.

It’s got to be difficult to have a character so powerful that you’ve got to make excuses in order to move a story along.

In a more recent comic, the city of Kandor was expanding, and that’s why Superman didn’t hear Pa Kent have a heart attack.

So if there’s anything to be learned from this, don’t write yourself into a corner. Don’t have a god as a main character.

Panel Breakdowns

In the last four issues of the story, the panels are rigidly controlled. Four panels a page for an entire issue. Then three. Two. The issue where Superman dies is entirely made up of splash pages.

I knew about this beforehand, and made a mental note to pay attention to it, but didn’t notice it until they were all two panels per page. And that’s only because the 2nd and 3rd pages are a weird kind of 3/4-splash that caught my eye. It was very subtle. I remember reading just the “death of” issue soon after it came out, but I didn’t recall the splash pages.

It’s an amazingly quick read. It’s almost all one long fight. It’s like what my friend Gary said when Maximum Carnage was going: “It’s the best story I’ve ever read that has no plot.”

I think if I was reading these issues as they were being released, I’d feel the storyline was wanting. But now, it’s been more than a decade since it’s been out, and discussed ad nauseum. There’s a certain mystique to it. And the creators have talked about how they wanted Doomsday to be this force of nature. This unstoppable unknown. But I still want to know more. Maybe later they give the answers.

Continuity

My wife was flipping through the book when I got it. “Why does Lex Luthor have long red hair and a beard? And why is Supergirl in love with him?” Yeah. I didn’t know either. The hundreds of thousands who flocked to pick up these books probably didn’t, either. It definitely didn’t have a good jump-on point for new readers.

For coverage of the stories after this: The World Without Superman, and the Return of Superman, click here:

https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/supermans-death-post-mortem-review/

 

For my humor videos, visit:

http://www.youtube.com/user/verylittleknowledge?feature=mhee

I don’t like to be negative about another writer. After all, they poured their heart, soul, and a lot of time into their work. So, I’ll talk about some good work first.

“Fantastic Four 1 2 3 4” stands out in my mind as among the best stories the team has been in. Dr. Doom systematically takes them down one at a time. Finally, he comes for Reed at the end of the third issue. And the cliffhanger has Doom asking what Reed’s been doing wasting away in his little laboratory while the people he loves are being attacked. Reed says, “Well, Victor, I’ve been thinking…”

Chills. Such a great cliffhanger.

It was written by Grant Morrison. So I had high hopes for “Final Crisis.”

I get it. It was a farce, in every definition. It was taking crossover event comics to an extreme to see just how much you can push it before fans say “No.”

He supposedly said in an interview: “And it’s taking a lot of trends that I see in comics and pushing them to the max to see, ‘do we really want it to be like this’?” Well, I guess we learned the answer is “no.”

I’m not a fan of Orion, but to kill him off so unceremoniously was just disrespectful to the character and to the hundreds of creators who have worked on him over the decades. And then to do the same to Martian Manhunter. At this point, I logged out. Mentally. Just didn’t care what happened the rest of the story. When he was brought back in “Blackest Night,” I shrugged, because in my mind he shouldn’t have been dead to begin with.

It was as if some bully came over your house, broke your toys, and left you to clean up the mess.

It bothers me when a creator does what they want without the understanding that these are real characters who have existed for decades before you and would have existed for decades after you if you hadn’t screwed them up.

I know the purpose of the story was to unite certain elements and prepare the DCU for events. But it was very blatant. Forced.

My friend said “He brought back the Flash.”

Yeah. He also brought back Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew.

I get that it’s supposed to be meta. You can do meta and still have a good story. Like Astro City.

I had intended to buy Batman 700 when it came out, but knowing he wrote it, I won’t. I know I won’t like it. A lot of the aftermath stories by other writers have been pointless as well.

When Alan Moore wanted to alter or destroy a bunch of old characters, DC wouldn’t let him. Instead, he just made up new versions and created “Watchmen.” If you know the old characters, you know who Rorschach and everyone else is supposed to be.

Someone should have stopped Morrison from doing this. “Final Crisis” should have been an Elseworlds.

Two thoughts about emotional connections.

Alan Moore wrote about trying to reach your reader by thinking about what you love, hate and fear. Then, I was watching “What Would You Do?” on TV. This is a show where they get actors to perform certain things, like kick kids out of a car and tell them to walk home, and leave. Then they record the reactions of passersby. The parenting expert they were interviewing said most people reacted to that situation because of how they were raised. There was an emotional connection to the victims.

Now, let’s apply that to comic book stories.

The token plot in comics is that the villain robs a bank. But how many of us have been in a bank robbery? How could we have an emotional connection to the victims? Unless, of course, we feel for anyone in a bad situation.

The writer could do this broadly, and almost cartoony, by just making obvious ploys to our humanity by showing a shivering old lady, a crying baby. Whatever Odessa Steps baby carriage they choose. But it’s almost a formula.

Instead, the villain’s plot must put at stake something we all care about.