Comic Stuff

16 Jan

I have a comic book called Dark which I’ve been working on, bit by bit, for a few months now. I know the shape of the thing, I know the ending — and it has an ending. At the most, it’s a six-issue mini-series. The more I work at it, the more and more I bet I can tell the story in less space. Which is a good thing. I know I’m capable of decompressing in stories, a skill I gained in serials. I like the idea of having to tell the story in a limited amount of space. Get in, tell it, get out. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am to quote David Bowie (can anyone tell me what song?)

So, I’ve got my plot, which I’m outlining (I don’t outline for comics, any more than I particularly outline for anything else. I just take scatterbrained notes). I’ve done some script work. And I keep an eye toward publishers. Most mainstream comic publishers aren’t interested in scripts by themselves. They’re “agent only” markets, more or less. The comics equivalent of that. Some places — like Image Comics, I was pleased to find out — DO take “unagented” submissions. They just want the artist and the writer to be on board.

Which isn’t so unreasonable. In fact, it’s utterly reasonable. However, if you’ve spent any time hanging out with people who want to be comic book writers, the most frustrated question you inevitably get from them is how the hell do you get a comic book artist? As if they’re elusive Yeti-like creatures, or else they’re mysterious New York agents, or something.

Mostly, they aren’t. But I bet they feel like it. I don’t know when comic books climbed out of the gutter and became respectable enough for phrases like “graphic novel,” but it leads to every kid and their dog wanting to write comics. And going to places where artists hang and badgering them. Or, what more commonly happens, sitting around terrified to do anything at all.

Here’s how you get a comic artist: You chain them in your basement and don’t feed them ’till they draw. Wait! No! Ha ha!  You ask them. You act like a human being who is calm, and sane, and has a life outside of getting that comic book artist. You buy ’em a drink. Or, alternately, you do what I did, which is to work with a magazine like BBT, which had, more or less, an on-staff artist named Christoffer Saar, a piece of whose work I posted below (and who drew all the illustrations for the short-run of God in the Machine, one of which is my icon when I comment on a WordPress blog). We worked together, we chatted, we had fun, and the end result was that when something like God in the Machine came around, I e-mailed him and said “Oy!”

That’s my preferred method, I’ve got to be honest with you, but it was a stroke of luck. And for this comic book, I keep thinking about Chris Saar and thinking about him and thinking about him. He’s commented previously that he doesn’t enjoy comic book work as much as other outlets, or at least that he’s slow at it (and he just pours the rest of his work out.) And it’s the possibility that he doesn’t like it, combined with sheer guilt over the collapse of God in the Machine, which has kept me from e-mailing him about this.

Another artist I found, whom I’m dead impressed with and who’s on the same page I am — in terms of this project, anyway — is Mike Mitchell.  Particularly, he has a couple of portraits of Batman put up which I was dead impressed with. Looked at ’em and went “that’s it, he could do this project.”

So of course, I am instead sitting here, blogging, trying to get up the gumption to e-mail him and say “Hello, I am not insane, care to work on a submission with me? How about two?”

I think that any God which thinks that running “Highway Star” by Deep Purple through my head at 12:30 at night (or in the morning, if you want to be cruel about it) is a God who likes a good joke. As much as I love that song, it’s not doing me any favors right now. Certainly, I can’t sing it. The long opening note would get me thrown out of the apartment.

I stayed up late to write novel material, not a lengthy blog post, but a WIDE AWAKE! baby has put the kibosh on those plans.  So instead, he sits here and does the non-verbal equivalent of “dad? dad? daddaddaddaddad? hey dad? dad?” and pulls on my glasses.

And now he’s fussy. Which means it’s time for bed for all.


Posted by on January 16, 2008 in Uncategorized


15 responses to “Comic Stuff

  1. tjwriter

    January 16, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Yes, there’s nothing quite like having your plans thrown for a loop because the little one decides to have a change of mind.

    I’ve never really gotten into reading comic books, but reading your description of the process sounds pretty neat.

  2. mymidnightmuse

    January 16, 2008 at 8:57 am

    I believe that Bowie tune is Suffragette City ? Just email the guy – what’s the worst he could reply with, a restraining order?

    Wouldn’t be the first one, would it ?


  3. Pete Tzinski

    January 16, 2008 at 9:11 am

    It warms the cockles of my heart, when someone not only knows “Suffragette City” but spells it properly. Now I have warm cockles. 😀

    I wanna finish the script for the first one, before I send anything to anyone, though.

    And it wasn’t a restraining order! It was a Legal Polite Request asking me to stay at least ten feet away!

  4. mymidnightmuse

    January 16, 2008 at 9:21 am

    I adore Bowie – I can even tolerate seeing him in the Spiders from Mars days. I shall not speak toward your warm cockles, however 😀

    I knew a guy, years ago, who drew comics but had no story-telling ability, and until that point in time, I’d always been under the false assumption that the person who drew the comics was always the person who wrote them. But until NOW, I had no understanding of how on earth the two ever got together and then tried to get published.

  5. Shadow Ferret

    January 16, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Well, comics came out of the gutter in the 60s when Marvel made them popular with college kids. That’s my take on it. And I’ve never been embarrassed by the term comic book. To me graphic novel is too pretentious and I shall never utter those words.

  6. Pete Tzinski

    January 16, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Oh, they were in the gutter LOOONG after the ’60s. It was things like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman that helped, but even then, it was years after that series had been running and was starting to appear in “graphic novel” format. And thanks to the quality of comics — and things like the current Spider-Man run — they’re slipping back into the gutter, interestingly enough. It’s fun to watch, and I applaud it. Some of the best work in any given field is done in the gutter, after all.

  7. Pete Tzinski

    January 16, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Kristine: sometimes, the artist IS the writer too. There are people like Frank Miller, Will Eisner, and David Sim who all wrote and drew their comics. Jeff Smith, likewise, with his work on “Bone” and “Shazaam! and the Masters of Evil,” which has got to be one of the best super-hero comics in ages, and if you haven’t gone out and read it, you’re mad.

  8. Shadow Ferret

    January 16, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    And of course there were the underground comix which wallowed in the gutter and liked it. I wish I’d kept some of my Will Eisner underground The Spirits. I also wish I had my Death Rattles, too. And anything by Richard Corben. I think the underground comix scene with Kitchen Sink was (aside from the overly perverse sexual stuff) the beginning of adult concepts in comics.

  9. Pete Tzinski

    January 16, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    I guess it depends on what you mean by “adult concepts.” Because if we count things like “A Contract With God,” by Will Eisner, then adult comic books go much further back. And for that matter, I’ve always been convinced that Little Nemo in Slumberland was an adult comic subversively disguised as a kid’s comic strip.

  10. Pete Tzinski

    January 16, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    When I think “adult concepts,” I guess I think the perverse sexual stuff, and then I immediately think of R. Crumb and then I wish I hadn’t. Oof.

  11. Shadow Ferret

    January 17, 2008 at 8:45 am

    R. Crumb. Dennis Kitchen (Kitchen Sink). Yeah. Crumb did the cover of Big Brother and the Holding Company “Cheap Thrills.” I think that “Keep on Truckin'” dude is his, too.

    But yeah, aside from the perverse stuff, he had some fun stuff, too. When did “A Contract with God” come out, because the underground comix scene started in the late 60s. It was part of the drug culture.

    And by adult content, I mean mature themes that mainstream comics couldn’t touch because of the “Comics Code of Nannyism.” They were bloodier, edgier, and yeah, sexier when they weren’t completely over the top. One of my favorite artists came out of there, Jeff somethingorother. I can’t recall his name, but he did some beautiful work.

    I loved the whole Roger Corman airbrush stuff he did. Gave everything this three-dimensional look.

  12. Shadow Ferret

    January 17, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Corben, not Corman.

  13. Shadow Ferret

    January 17, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Richard, not Roger.


  14. Pete Tzinski

    January 17, 2008 at 8:57 am

    A Contract With God came out sometime in the ’70s. When I said earlier, I was just generally referring to Will Eisner, whose contemporaries were people like Bob Kane, back at the turn of the century.

  15. C. Saar

    February 17, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Hi Pete!

    what’s up?


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