ALL TOO QUIET SUCCESS
One of the quietest success stories in the comics market in recent years is Cinebook. You don't see much coverage for them in the big comic web magazine type sites, but they've been quickly building up an impressive catalog of titles translated from the original French.
I've reviewed a bunch of their books here, from "Largo Winch" to "Lucky Luke" to "Orbital." Every year, I vow to read and review more, but it's getting harder to keep up. In their most recent newsletter, they've announced plans in 2014 to publish at least 60 books. That's five European albums translated and available every month.
Did you ever think you'd see more than 30 "Lucky Luke" volumes printing in English? Or the complete "XIII,"" which had been attempted and had failed at a couple previous publishers here in the States, including Marvel?
Cinebook is a British company and their books go worldwide. We see the books in America after a minor delay. This January, there's 10 different titles available through "Previews." Give one a shot, and then keep an eye on them. They're still growing.
Some quick tips: If you like more serious action thrillers, go with "Largo Winch," which mixes insane action bits with economic and political thrillers. If you like science fiction and fantasy, go with "Orbital" and its beautiful art. If you like The Smurfs and that school of art, "Lucky Luke" and "Spirou and Fantasio" will fit right in on your bookcase. If you're an Anglophile and like period mysteries, go with Denis Bodart's "Green Manor." If you like "Asterix," then go with (again) "Lucky Luke."
Let me know how those work for you, too, after you've tried them.
GO BIG OR GO HOME
I read the second issue of a comic series this week whose first issue I felt was a little too strange for strange's sake. While I enjoyed the artwork, the story felt incomprehensible and bizarre. Maybe, I thought, the creator would find what he was looking for as the series continued and things would settle down.
As of the second issue, they haven't.
Good for him.
If you're going to create a comic that goes too far, go too far in a new or creative direction. Push it further. Don't compromise. Why settle? Why arrive at a comfortable middle ground? I think I'm happy to read a flawed work that throws too much at the wall with not enough of it sticking. Yes, that interferes with the storytelling and gives us a story that doesn't feel complete, but I can't help but want to read more. No, not in the car crash kind of way. I want to see how far things will go before things end. Will they explode in fireworks, or settle down into a more traditional style at the end? Most likely, neither.
I want to watch the creator get there, though. Bring it on.
I have a slightly different angle on a direction Rucka glanced across when it comes to "inspiration." The trouble is never writer's block; it's a lack of inspiration. What inspires writers to write? An idea. A deadline. The mortgage bill. A desire to do so. A need to do so.
If you can't summon up the inspiration to take enough time out of your day to sit in the chair and pound away on a keyboard, then you're not a writer. At best, you're a dreamer. If you have no dreams, you'll never be a writer, either.
I am not a professional writer. I don't write multiple comic scripts a month or novels per year or screenplays per lifetime. I write a little column on a large website. I have done so every week for the last 16 and a half years. Inspiration strikes in a variety of ways, but I've structured a part of my life to ensure that it does.
So, then, some tips on Getting Writing Done:
- Set a deadline. Force yourself to get something done by a specific time. For some, it's necessary. Without a deadline, they push things off. For six or seven years. If I decided to quit writing Pipeline weekly in favor of doing it Every So Often, I'd likely never write it again. I write to a constant deadline.
- Set aside time. That's your writing time. Keep a schedule. Practice and repetition is good. For Pipeline, it's Sunday and/or Monday night(s).
- Think small. You don't have to write it all at once. Nobody writes a 50,000 word novel in a day. Most writers on the best of all possible days won't even write 10,000 words. 1000 words is possible and gets you closer to your goal. As you might have guessed, this week's column was written in self-contained chunks over the last few days.
- Write out of order. What inspires you today? Write that scene or that section of the review. Fill in the rest later. Every writer is different. Some can't write until they have their first paragraph. Others can't write their first paragraph until they've written everything else and know what they're introducing. When writing reviews, I'll often write the most interesting part first and then branch out and fill in the rest.
- Your first draft sucks. Sometimes it doesn't. That's the exception. Don't expect greatness on the first pass. Just get it out of your system. Most writing really IS rewriting/editing. I'd get a lot more sleep if I didn't need to edit.
Writing is do-able if you commit yourself to it. If you can't do that, don't pretend to be a writer. Be happy being a reader. There's nothing wrong with that.
I hope the Ant-Man movie will star the Eric O'Grady version of the character. It would be sweet to have the #1 movie that weekend and the #1 cable TV show ("The Walking Dead") that year both come from characters created by Robert Kirkman. Plus, maybe we'd hear a little more about what's in the Marvel contracts of the last ten years for new character creations. Would Kirkman see a dime from such a thing?
Here's one very good reason to make the movie be Eric O'Grady's that still isn't enough to make it happen: It would be the first Marvel movie ever where the entire comics industry knows which one book to sell movie-goers who enjoyed the movie. Marvel would just need to reprint the masterful 12 issue series that Kirkman did with Phil Hester, and every book store and comic book store and New York Times Best Seller list would know where to point. One book. Remember how confusing it was for retailers to figure out which "Avengers" comic to push? Or which "Spider-Man" book? Or which "X-Men" book? This would be a slam dunk.
Sadly, publishing success is small potatoes to the movie industry. The tail isn't wagging the dog, but maybe we could get a nice domino effect from a perfect storm of factors, anyway.
THE COLOR PURPLE
Sarah Horrocks disagrees with me a bit on the "Miracleman" recoloring job. She makes some good points. If you're interested in this kind of coloring theory discussion, definitely jump over there now. She gives a great counter-example of how flat purple can work in comics, though I'd then counter-argue that it works as a willful choice and design scheme for that work. With Miracleman, though, it looks more like a limitation of available technology or imagination than willful design choice. Her Dean White/"X-Force" example is spot on, though.
COMPLETELY OFF-TOPIC SECTION
- I think a lot of you will enjoy it: The Ad Hoc Podcast dedicated a nearly two hour show to "The Princess Bride." After listening to it, I immediately ordered the Blu-ray with express shipping. (I think I have the DVD somewhere, but it's missing.) Can't wait to watch it again for the first time in a looooong while.
- Just because "that ship has sailed" doesn't mean we should give up. I mean, yeah, sure, the intent of the phrase is that we should give up, but isn't tilting at windmills what makes us honest and human? It's the holidays and I'm allowed to mix my metaphors, OK?
- Next week: The Pipeline year in review!
- This week: Merry Christmas!
(See, I'm still drawing. Still inking. Still messing up hands and limbs. Still learning!)