I’ll put this out there: I love helping out emerging creators and giving advice where I can. I’m by no means an expert in the field, but I certainly have career experience and have been through many parts of the process that newer creators have not. I’m very available — my email is public, my podcast has a voicemail line, I’m active on Twitter and Tumblr; the point is, it’s not hard to throw questions my way, and more often than not, you’ll get an answer in a timely fashion.
I think it’s imperative that we pay it forward as a community and help each other out whenever possible. I was helped — still am — by creator friends that have been down the path before me, and I feel comfortable reaching out to them for advice or to address concerns about something going on in my career (and sometimes: life).
But asking for advice and asking for favors are two very different things. I read friends’ comics all the time. I love it. I love reading things in their early stages and offering my input. And they do it for me. Like most writers (of any medium), I have friends and loved ones that I trust to read shit and give me honest feedback. It’s invaluable and something I recommend for anyone to have.
I’ve also introduced friends and collaborators to people that they should know, and have had the same done for me, but these are actual in-the-flesh friends and people that I have a positive working relationship with. That’s “networking.” That’s how these sorts of things go. Engage in the community, be a part of it, and get to know people on a level deeper than “who can do something for me?”
Part of being a writer in comics is pitching. Pitching, pitching, pitching. Sometimes that’s for your creator-owned stuff, sometimes it’s at the request of a publisher for a particular property, and sometimes it’s just a passion project that you pitch to a publisher that you have a relationship with.
In this instance, it’s the latter — my co-creator on CAPTAIN ULTIMATE, Ben Bailey, and I wrote a Sonic the Hedgehog back-up in 2014 for Archie Comics. After the success of AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE and an impending ARCHIE revamp on the horizon, we took it upon ourselves to craft a new take on what is, I think, the best Archie property: JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS.
So obviously nothing ever came of this — we tinkered with the idea of revising it into a creator-owned project, but in the time since we wrote this, “punk rock takes” on things have become all the rage and by the time our book would come out, it’ll most definitely be old hat.
So instead, we thought it’d be fun to just show off the pitch!
At the very least, you can enjoy this awesome playlist we made to accompany your reading.
I’m by no means a financially successful writer that should be giving any sort of contract advice to other comic book creators (though not for lack of trying), but I think it’s important for us all to share our experiences with these things and there’s far too little of it in the community (if you want great legal info on contracts from a creator-POV, check out Charles Soule’s posts on the subject; the man is a talented writer as well as a lawyer).
So, I’ve done a few things here and there: some work-for-hire for publishers I love, some work-for-hire that I wish would disappear forever and burn in Creative Hell, creator-owned books with indie publishers and creator-owned books self-published with the help of Kickstarter. I’ve done work I’m proud of (except for the aforementioned stuff burning in Creative Hell) and have plenty more in the works.
More recently I’ve been collaborating with the amazing Joe Badon on a science-fiction project that I’ve been pitching as CHEERS meets BLADE RUNNER, called SPEAKEASY. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, Joe’s art is stunning and weird, and pretty much every publisher has passed on it. And that’s totally okay. The style is definitely outside of the mainstream wheelhouse, and coming from two no-names, I get it. We did, however, have a long (year-long, in fact) conversation with a smaller publisher about getting it out there, possibly this summer/fall. I’m not going to say who because it really doesn’t matter. They put out books that I really like and I would’ve been happy to work with them.
SPEAKEASY art by Joe Badon
Only two days left on the Footprints: Bad Luck Charm Kickstarter, and we’ve already explored the behind-the-scenes of Pages 1, 2, 3, and 4… onto Page 5!
This page is pretty straightforward. The only real deviation from the script is panel 5.3, which originally called for a medium shot or so of ‘Resa placing her bet. Smartly, Jonathan conserved space and changed it to a close-up with an off-panel balloon. It just wasn’t necessary to show that many details, not when the location has already been firmly established and we can infer what she’s doing from the context of the scene and her dialogue. Great example of an artist being economical with space.
We’re only a few days from the end of the Footprints: Bad Luck Charm Kickstarter, so I’ll be posting the remainder of these behind-the-scenes pieces this week! We’ve looked at Page 1, 2, and 3, so onto Page 4!
Jonathan more or less rendered this page as I wrote it aside from two notable changes: he added a panel that helps build the suspense of the gambling and he chose a different angle for that last panel, which definitely works better (and is less complicated) than what I wrote. But the thing I love about this page is something that you can’t see from comparing the script to the final art — you’d have to be privy to our emails back and forth to have any idea about it.
‘Resa’s line in the last panel, “Cash in your winnings and never come back” is a nod to one of the greatest movies of all-time, Casablanca. But it wasn ‘t written in the original script that way; it was originally just “Oh, Devil…” as she tried to grab his attention. Continue reading
Since we’ve looked at pages 1 and 2 so far, I figured we might as well go the rest of the way and check out the remaining four pages of the Footprints: Bad Luck Charm story. Whereas Page 2 takes a lot of liberties from the script in terms of what Jonathan did with the art, Page 3 is a great example of how Adam’s lettering really helped the flow of the story in a significant way.
You’ll notice that Adam shifts the balloons around a bit, most notably Devil and ‘Resa’s lines as scripted in 3.2 to 3.1 and Devil’s line as scripted in 3.6 to 3.5. While the moves might have been related to space issues within the panels, they both help punctuate particular moments that would’ve been lost under dialogue otherwise.
Last time around we looked at Page 1 of Footprints: Bad Luck Charm, in which Jonathan followed my script exactly. Page 2 has significant changes, and I think goes to show how much a good artist and storyteller can help improve whatever you’re trying to do with the story.
So often, as a writer, you’re lost in the script and the dialogue and trying to think so visually that you’re neglecting the core of the scene and what it’s about. That was the case in my script for page 2, I think, where I was doing more to establish the setting than I was the characters (see below).
As the Kickstarter for the new Footprints wears on, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at what goes into a page of the book. Here you see the full script for Page 1, which Jonathan followed pretty much exactly (next time we’ll look at Page 2, where he deviates from the script and makes it better).
Way back during the Pawn Shop Kickstarter campaign, we revealed the Pawn Shop Script Book as a stretch reward. It’s a collection of all my hand-written notes, the original rough draft, and the final typed draft of the entire graphic novel. It’s meant to show off the process of making a comic from conception to final product. The reward has gone out to the Kickstarter backers, but I’ve just listed it in my store for anyone that missed out on the campaign.
Buy the Pawn Shop Script Book
It’s $5 for a 222-page PDF, and you can buy it here. Here’s a sample of what you’ll get:
Yeah, I know. It’s been a hot minute since I did one of these. But here we go! Page 4 of Footprints #1. Keep in mind that this isn’t REALLY what my actual script looks like, but just what I can provide within WordPress formatting issues.