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Thread: SEB-standard: Week 6 - Writing Comics

  1. Join Date
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    SEB-standard: Week 6 - Writing Comics

    Writing Comics? What the-- Am I trying to muscle in on Forby's little corner of our site?

    Hells No, BOLTS AND NUTS is safe as houses. I'm not here to talk the "hows" of comic writing. I'm here to wax pathetic about my own misadventures as a would be writer of comics.

    It's rough. Not the writing part, that is actually kinda fun. Finding time to write...that sucks. I teach. I know most of you think that means I have after 4 each day, every weekend, and all summer to write, but you are SOOOOooooo wrong. Lesson planning and paper grading comsume my weeknights, and weekends. My summers are spent at home with my daughters, (7 & 2) whom I have yet to convince that being-quiet-so-daddy-can-write is a fun game. And PFB takes a lot of time too.Tracking down interviews, writing them up, reading books for reviews and then writing those up, news, this column, the day to day stuff....the list goes on.

    So, the story I've been working on in one form or another for the past few years slowly takes shape. Too slowly. You see, many moons ago, from 1990 - 2001 I was a member of THE SUNDAY NIGHT DORKS. We were a group of friends and coworkers (many of us from the now defunct COLLECTOR'S COMICS of WANTAGH, NY) who met each Sunday night to roleplay. REAL roleplaying, with dice and stuff, not this I made a character on my computer that never interacts with anything except to kill it stuff. Kids today...., yeesh. Anyway, we often used the old MAYFAIR games rules for DC heroes to creat our own universe full of supers. From there many an idea was born. These ideas would boil just under the surface until about 5 or 6 years ago. It was at that time I found myself in Florida and seriously missing my pals. Which got me to thinkin' of our old games..and the characters...so I fleshed out all of my guys, and got permission from the boys to use a few of theirs, and began what I called THE LEGACY.

    Originally, THE LEGACY was going to be the story of our characters, as if they were second stringer in an existing world. The story would revolve around the total anhialation of the BIG GUN heroes, and our guys would have to take their place as world champions.

    From there, something happened. As I was creating my disposable A-listers, I began to do research, Historical reasearch. This gave me more ideas. The new ideas prompted further reasearch. I began a timeline to chart what I created. Around this point, the project took a life of its own. I began creating golden, silver, and bronze age incarnations of my original characters. The next thing I knew, I had a complete timeline, running from 1774 - 2011, complete with heroes, villains, major events, and historical accuracies and deviations.

    Finally I was ready to begin plots. Great, right? Wrong. Now I had to figure out what part of the timeline rated being my first script. Plus, it was at this point that I realized my 2 English degrees trump my 1 art degree. In other words, I write on a much higher level than I draw.
    So I fired myself as artist. harsh, huh?

    In the meantime, I continue to watch character names and concepts similar to my own begin to pop up around the industry. Things I've had jotted down in some shape or form for 20 years with no worries, and then I start using them and BAM! similar things pop up all around.
    Stupid universe!

    So, I plod on. I take a gig here at PFB, hoping to network and meet people in the industry, so that when I pitch my work I'm not just another total unkown, but a guy who has some level of familiarity with some of the publishers. That at least has gone fairly well. The irony being, however, that I'm often so obsessed with writing for PFB that I don't get to write anything to pitch.

    Still, I plod on. I finish issue # 1 to my first storyline. Artists become a problem. I, without looking, meet an artist who become rather excited about one of my other characters, one who has a descendant in the script I've finished, but he himself predates by several generations. This artist is so excited he whips up a concept sketch that floors me. I figure, this is too good to pass up, so I begin a scipt for this older character, so I can both work with the artist and introduce background that will/does come into play in my other script.
    I get up to page 7 in the new script.
    Another company announces that a character of theirs that came out a few years ago, in similar vein though totally different direction, has some new things in the works. Things that mirror a lot of what I had come up with all those years ago.

    The kicker? Where do I learn of these events?

    In the NEWS threads here on PFB!

    ::sigh::

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to suggest anyone got wind of my little timeline and got inspired. I know similar ideas happen. In fact, I'm sorta happy, 'cause that means my ideas were good ones. Good enough for other people to get similar ideas of their own.
    I AM bummed by the fact that when my stuff comes out, it will look like I was the one inspired by the other guys.
    ::sigh again::

    The good news for both parties (but, mainly me) is that the characters' specifics are very different, despite their similar concepts; and while they now have more in common conceptually, we are still both going about things in very differnt fashions.

    Still, you snooze you lose. Or, in my case, you don't snooze so much as have to keep working at your full-time job in order to support your family, and while you don't totally lose, you do end up being beaten to the punch.

    But, as cliches go, mine is a bit wordy.
    Last edited by SebastianPiccione; Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 12:56 PM.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  2. DavidPaul Guest

    Dude, that sucks on so many levels. Don't know if you have considered this or not, but you could write short stories for your (numerous) characters and have those published in a variety of magazines. Never mind. You've already thought of that.



  3. Join Date
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    I've thought about that...but, I'm tentative about splitting my characters up. I'd rather not send story submissions to various companies, but keep them all together.

    I have been thinking of doing my own little anthology for some of the characters, something along the lines of MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS meets SECRET ORIGINS. I could do the origins of my characters in mini stories. I figure, I could do 3 or 4 eight-page stories per issue. The origin arcs could run varying lengths. A few 6 parters, a few four parters, some two parters, and even a couple stand alones.
    I could focus on characters being used in the other two mini series.

    Or, at least that's what I was thinking.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  4. StevenForbes Guest

    Nice one, Seb.

    Has me thinking about other stuff, too.

    But I definitely understand about finding time to write, as well as other writers coming up with ideas similar to your own. Happens to me all the time.

    You know the character Puma? One of Spidey's friends/foes? I had that character name back in the 80s, when I was still in elementary school. Mine was different (I'm in love with shapechangers), but imagine being 11 or so, and finding out that Marvel comics "stole" your character idea.

    If I had known then what I know now, I would have known I was doomed from the start...



  5. Join Date
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    I hear, ya, man.
    The worst is when you've had a character for ages and somebody else uses the name/idea for a throw-away.
    My friend Vinny had this character from our RPG days. ESPete. I drew several sketches of him 9and the rest of our heroes) back in the early '90s. In one issue of DC's 52 they show a guy ESPete, who actually looked EXACTLY the same as my sketches of Vinnie's guy...not there are a lot of ways to draw a character called ESPete. It was heartbreaking.

    We had a customer at COLLECTOR'S COMICS, guy named Steve Price. He actually got a cease and decist on MARVEL, that worked until he let it lapse...the weenie...because he was self-publishing a character he'd copyrighted called AMERICOP, and then Marvel had an Americop in CAPTAIN AMERICA. I think it was Busiek who created the other one. All they had in common was a name and a USA theme, but, I guess that was enough.

    ::shrugs::

    Some of my guys have had to undergo changes due to similar characters popping up. Many of them are different enough to swing by. But, still, 'tis disheartening.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  6. StevenForbes Guest

    Yeah, my next character is going to be named Wolverine. He's going to be short, ferocious, and have a bad attitude. A brawler that you do NOT want to mess with...



  7. DavidPaul Guest

    Okay. Here's the thing. Take heart, dude. A few days ago I watched the Robert Altman 1980 movie Popeye starring Robin Williams. I know. Not anyone's best work but I don't give a shit. I like Williams and I like the movie. So fuck anyone who wants to rob me of my childhood love for what I thought was the best movie I had seen at the time. C'mon. I was 10.

    Anywho... the very next day I read a rather lengthy review of the first two volumes of E. C. Segar's long-running Popeye comic strip. Very interesting facts. For example I had thought the character of Castor Oyl was fabricated solely for the movie, as well as a number of other characters. I was very wrong. Castor actually got his start as the lead character in the strip Thimble Theater with Popeye only appearing sporadically in a sometimes supporting role. Things evolved over time, as they do, and Popeye gradually began to take center stage with Castor joining him on some of his adventures in a role reversal. Eventually Olive, Castor's sister, was introduced and things began to take even more turns. It should be noted here that both Olive and Popeye were originally drawn purposely as ugly characters to give Castor more appeal perhaps. In any case the romance between Popeye and Olive, comical as it was, took over the story and Castor began to appear only very frequently until, at long last he was written out of the strip altogether and it was retitled Popeye The Sailor Man. Olive and Popeye became more attractive (I'm not sure if it's possible these two could be any uglier) and the strip started to take on the likeness that became the iconic image of the cartoons many of us remember with fondness.

    Okay, so yes, E.C. Segar had control over his strip to a certain degree. Editors of that day were notorious control freaks. But I have a feeling it was Popeye he always intended to bring to the front. If not it worked out for the best. Write your stories, Seb. If this is your dream, write your stories in any way you can. Find an artist who digs it and produce the stories in any way you can. It doesn't matter who publishes the work and presents it to readers, so long as you retain the copyright/s of your work. Bottom line is the work is yours, shared with your artist. Eventually you'll reach your goal. And you might just have a few more adventures of your own getting there. Doesn't matter how long it takes. Live in the now, plan for the future and enjoy the ride. It's all good, bro.



  8. Join Date
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    How sad am I for having already known all the Popeye history?

    So, David, you're saying as long as I have ugly supporting characters my books will be a success?
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  9. RyanEldridge Guest

    To be a bit blunt here, but my advice to you as a writer is to stop giving a crap about if people think your character is inspired (or "ripped off") by a character from a larger publisher. Almost all of my scripts and characters are inspired by other folk's work in one way or another. At this point, it's practically unavoidable that you're going to develop a character that is completely unique. What's important is that there is a difference and that it is clear to the reader that this isn't just a rip-off.

    In fact, creator-owned characters that bear similarities to large-press characters offer the writers a fantastic opportunity of exploring aspects of the character and his world than any of the big name publishers would ever allow to see the light of day.

    My point is, write a kick ass story with kick ass characters and nobody will give a damn if your idea sounds a bit like some other schmuck's.



  10. spyhawk824 Guest

    That's because its an awesome character

    The reason i'm excited is because just from Your description its an awesome character, and one that fits into the mold that I'm interested in. I'm honored and humbled that you were floored by my sketch... and trust me my friend the best is yet to come... I haven't been this excited for this long and this obsessed about a character in a long time.... The other reason that I'm so excited is that I've read only a few of your things and you are a phenomenal writer and to be teamed up with you is going to be great... Look out world Here comes Seb and Neil .... the Seigle and Shuester of the new millenium... (yeah that didn't sound too cocky) sorry just excited... great article by the way... and awesome column....

    Neil J.



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