Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Q&A. BRING IT!


“The casino should have a new ad campaign demonstrating all of the worst possible things that can happen to you there. Just the worst, most humiliating, most horrible, painful, awful things that a visit to the casino could bring. Just unflinching. And then the tagline is, “Or… Maybe Not? Come Gamble With Us.”


Q&A time!

Joey Cruz‏ (@NeverWanderer) asks: The Host, Good monster movie or BEST monster movie? (Real Q: How much detail is too much when writing a comic script?)
I didn’t like the Host when I first saw it. Everybody I know professes to really dig it, though, so maybe I need to give it another shot. There’s this whole field of South Korean cinema that everyone who isn’t me seems to be in love with, and I just can’t quite penetrate the culture barrier.

Real A: It depends, I think. A lot of it hinges on your relationship with your artist. I try to write based on what I know about the artist’s strengths, and about their ability to tell the story effectively. And I have been blessed to work with artists who can absolutely deliver. I don’t know that there IS a thing as too much detail, as long as you, the writer, understand a few things. Foremost is that you can’t always get everything you want. And comics is a collaborative medium. You’re less the director than you are the screenwriter, in movie parlance. The artist is the director and the cinematographer and the costume designer and the lighting director and everything else that makes the visual aspect of your story happen. You have to trust that they know what they’re doing. I have read the scripts for Watchmen, and have been blown away by the level of detail on each panel and each page. But I also have read that Alan Moore also tagged almost every script with “If that doesn’t work for you, do what works best.”
"If you screw with my script, I'll turn you into a newt!"

Also, remember that the page has limits. The panel has limits. You need to be aware of what can be done in a single panel, and then make sure that you’re not trying so hard to write like Alan Moore that you overwhelm the artist with a lot of stuff that can’t happen in one panel on one page. An artist friend (not naming names) called me one night to see if I had any ideas on a script he was trying to draw. In one splash page, the writer had asked for no fewer than 5 angles of focus. And my friend was pulling his hair out trying to figure out how to draw what he was being asked for. (“How do I show the POV of something on the floor AND something on the ceiling at the same time?”)

Look at a comic you love and reverse engineer it, and ask yourself, what details are absolutely necessary to make this panel happen? 

And for the record, I am by no means holding myself up as an expert here. This is stuff I try to do, and I am still learning something new every time I write a new script, every time I read a script, and every time I look at a comic.

Adam Witt‏ (@adamwitt) asks: What part of your writing process takes you the longest?
It varies based on what I am working on. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m going to write before I even sit down at the keyboard. In the shower, in the car, on the train, when I’m trying to get to sleep, I’m thinking about the story, and working things out in my head. So by the time I sit down to do the mechanical typing, I usually have a pretty good sense of the beats I want, and how I’m getting from point A to point B. And then, as I write, I just try to fill in the blanks and see what new and interesting directions things take.

My main hold-up to writing is research, typically. I am completely paranoid about not knowing enough about a given topic, and so I have a bad habit of over-researching to the point where I’m not actually writing. Fortunately, I have Jenny to yell at me and tell me, “Write first! Fact check later!” But still, I spent a couple hours last night researching the differences between western and English horseback riding styles. If you look at the faux Secret Avengers pitch I did in my last blog, understand that I spent several nights researching the characters involved to make sure that everything I would propose was in continuity and to ensure that I could draft the characters in question without encroaching on any other book Marvel was publishing at the time. So… I may have a problem.

Sean Francis‏ (@indeciSEAN) asks: Thoughts on The @Avengers’ trailer?
Is “nerd-boner” a thought? It looks wonderful. I am unspeakably, pants-wettingly, excited for this movie, and from what I can determine from the trailer, Joss Whedon and all involved really knocked it out of the park. The quick segment where Hulk catches Iron Man in mid-air and then slides down the building are probably the Marvel-est things I’ve ever seen in a Marvel movie.

Kt‏ (@KtIsGerman) asks: What [super]villain would out-villain them all and how? How does the existence of smart phones impact plot/story telling?
As far as comic book villains go, Bullseye is the guy who always makes me nervous. When he shows up, you know SOMETHING horrible is going to happen.

Norman Osborn is getting there for me, as well. Between Warren Ellis’ use of him in Thunderbolts, all the work Brian Bendis has done with him in the pages of Avengers, and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s brilliant Osborn miniseries, Norman’s gone beyond the Green Goblin to being a genuinely terrifying supervillain who is always one step ahead of the good guys.

As far as non super super-villians, the scariest for me will always be from Garth Ennis’ Preacher. Jesse Custer’s grandmother and her henchmen Jody and T.C. are absolutely bone-chilling. “All in the Family” (collected in Preacher volume 2, “Until the End of the World”) is arguably the best arc in a series filled with amazing arcs. And that’s largely due to how EVIL Grandma is.


I went online and asked for questions, and the amazing Terry L. Tyson (‏@terrytyson) came through!

Is there a comics collectable you've ever coveted?
Original art, mostly. If money were no object, my walls would be covered with commissions and original pages. As it stands, I own only three pieces of original art, and if my house were on fire, they’re probably the things I’d grab on my way out the door. One is an original Michael Gaydos page from Alias. The second is a Michael Oeming Powers page. And the third is the original sketch from the cover of Ethan Van Sciver’s “Manifesto” sketchbook.

Which comic from your childhood do you miss? What made it special for you? Was it the book or was it you, in that time, etc?
I have the good fortune to still have pretty much every comic I have ever purchased. But I wouldn’t mind having a better copy of New Teen Titans #1. My copy was read so much by my young self that it’s pretty much disintegrated at this point.

God, I love that comic. I walked down the street to the 7-11 one summer day when I was a very young lad, and picked it off of the rack, with no idea who anybody except Robin and Kid Flash were, and had my little brain thoroughly blown. That was probably the best half a buck I have ever spent.

What's the worst comic book based movie ever made?
Although I’ve never actually seen it, I have it on good authority that Halle Berry’s “Catwoman” takes that title. But I’m not brave enough to verify that for myself.

What comic do you wish YOU had written/drawn? (Mine will forever be Steranko's "Nick Fury" books.)

Drawn? Anything. I’d just like to be able to draw. (The nerdiest thing I have ever said to follow.) If I could “re-do my character sheet”, I would put more attribute points into “artistic talent” and “play guitar”.

Written? Probably Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run or James Robinson’s Starman series.

Should Marvel ever consider a 52-esque reboot of their books? Which ones really need it, if any?

ABSOLUTELY NOT. There’s nothing to be gained from such a move. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Name three people from the comics world you'd invite to dinner, living or otherwise.

This is the hardest question I received! (It’s probably easier to list who I WOULDN’T want to have dinner with.) I’ll limit myself to the deceased. Mark Gruenwald, Archie Goodwin, and Jack Kirby. That would be a really awesome dinner party.
I know picking three dead legends is sort of a cop-out, but I seriously puzzled over this for hours and couldn’t settle.
I DO still want to take C.B. Cebulski to Caseus in New Haven, though. That offer is on the table.

What would be the ultimate (even if the tech doesn't yet exist) e-comic experience?
Something that could replicate the experience of spreads and double-page panels. Something that grows and shrinks to accommodate the artwork.  That’s my biggest issue with digital comics right now  - scrolling about to see the panels and the artwork.  But I would also point out that I’m not the world’s biggest advocate for digital comics. I know lots of fans who love them, and I know there is a big push in that direction, but actual physical comics just suit my reading preferences better. And I say this as someone who would pull out his own teeth before surrendering his Kindle.

And now, via Facebook: THE LIGHTNING ROUND!

Benel Germosen asks: Super Ninento or Sega Genesis?
Super Nintendo. I never had a Genesis, although I did play Sonic a few times at a friend’s house and thought it was basically Mario on crank.

Bryan Lipsitz asks: Superman or Batman?
This is Sophie’s Choice, man. I’m going Superman. 

Adina “Sailor” Gruzleski asks: Logan’s Run or Brazil?
Logan’s Run is super fun, and cheesy, but Brazil is inarguably a better film, and holds up WAY better.  

Jared Moore asks: New Mutants, Gen X, or Academy X/New X-Men?
New Mutants. Absolutely.

Walter Hall asks: Did Han shoot first?
Of course he did! Anyone who says differently is a fool and a liar. And YES, I mean George Lucas when I say that.  

James Michael asks: Will your male Shepard be gay?
Nope. Although I appreciate that Mass Effect fans will now be able to have their male Commander Shepards bump rude parts with a large black man, my personal Shepard is in a committed, monogamous relationship with a blue alien lady.

Aleina Paige asks: Comics or graphic novels?
Six of one, half dozen of the other. There’s no real difference, to my way of thinking. Some stories tell better in a single book, while some benefit from the great traditions of cliffhangers and serial storytelling.  

Kelley Gilman asks: Spring water vs. tap water?
Tap water. Although I use a Brita filter, so maybe I’m cheating. 

Christopher Bell asks: Most embarrassing thing ever caught in your beard?
I keep my face-fuzz fairly close-cropped, so I have never really had any problems in that regard. Although when I eat anything with butter or garlic, I spend the rest of the night making “duck face” while I smell my moustache. 



The Gathering Volume 8, “The Fifth Dimension” is now available through GrayHaven Comics. It features the story, “I AM (ANALOG) LEGEND”, written by me, with art by Chris Page.

I have it on good authority that Volume 9 (Fairy Tales), featuring my story “The Heartbreak Tree” (art by Leonardo Gonzalez), should be out in time for MoCCA Fest. So anyone in the NYC area should come and pick up an issue from me, personally!

Hugs and kisses,


1 comment:

  1. 10-4 on the Avengers movie. I've been slow coming to appreciating the tights-and-fights-teams story approach to comics in general, but with this movie, (and Fraction's "Defenders" series of books,) I believe I finally get it. And like it.