Archive for the ‘breaking in’ Category
I decided to put my pitch from last year for a new Blue Devil series up on my blog. I knew it didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell (sorry, couldn’t resist) but I still had fun writing it. And if nothing else, it was good practice for writing pitches, which let me tell you, is not an easy thing to do.
Anyway, you can read it here.
This might appeal to the writers in the audience: Diamond Light Source is a particle accelerator facility in England, and they’re holding a fiction contest (including flash fiction) inspired by the facility and its science. They’re calling it Light Reading.
To introduce Diamond to a wider audience we are running a short story competition, Light Reading. The rules are simple: we’re inviting you to submit a story of up to 3,000 words inspired by Diamond – the facility, the science and the people. There’s also a Flash Fiction prize for stories under 300 words. Stories can be in any genre and there is no minimum word limit. Diamond will shortlist the best of these stories, which will then be judged by an expert panel. The top three writers will receive a cash prize, and these, along with those highly commended by the judges, will be published in an anthology of short stories.
Stories should be under 3000 words, and flash fiction stories under 300. As far as I can tell, it’s open to anyone from any country. There are cash prizes, and publication opportunities, plus you retain the rights to your story. Deadline is November 30th.
This might of of interest to you process junkies and writers curious about how different creators handle pitches. Brian Clevinger is the writer of the well-loved indie series Atomic Robo. He was going to do a new Firestorm series for DC, before the whole thing got derailed by the big reboot. You can read his final “approved” pitch here.
Argument should be a part of their civilian relationship and their partnership as Firestorm. Each of these guys got to be Firestorm independent of the other for years. So, each one has built up his idea of how to run the show and, of course, those ideas end up conflicting a lot of the time. Ultimately, each one just wants the best of the other. But, they’re dudes, so it usually comes out wrong and they start making fun of each other.
What I’m getting around to is this. They don’t argue just to argue. They don’t snipe at each other just to get cheap shots in. They don’t talk down to one another. They tease, they mock, they complain, they argue, but it’s because they care. There’s a respect, one that most often goes unsaid, but it’s there and it informs the nature of their debate.
I’ve always liked the idea of Firestorm, and his various looks, more than the actual execution of his series. For one, he’s simply too powerful a character for my tastes. But Clevinger’s approach to the new Firestorm sounds like a solid one. Too bad he never got the chance to write it.
British publisher Myriad Editions is looking for “a first graphic novel in progress, with the winner working with Myriad to complete the title.”
Entrants are asked to submit a one-page synopsis and between 15-30 pages of a graphic work in progress.
Deadline for the contest is October 1st. Judges include the awesome Bryan Talbot! The winner will be announced at the First Fictions Festival in January 2012. The novel would be considered for publication by Myriad in 2012/13. Details here.
To promote the book “The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown,” by Paul Malmont, publisher Simon & Schuster is holding a science fiction short story writing contest. The winner’s piece will be published in the book.
Finish the story begun by one of the characters in the new novel. Start your version with “The robot felt…” Finish with “In the end, the robot felt nothing. He wasn’t programmed to.” The up-to-2000 words in between are all yours…The top five finalists, selected by online voting, will be judged by the incredible Patton Oswalt, lit-agent Susan Golomb, and R/GA agency Creative Director, Dan Harvey and Malmont.
Contest ends July 4th. Detail can be found here.
Last year, I did my first work for DC Comics in the form of a short story in their DC Universe Holiday Special #1.
As this detailed post on the Bleeding Cool news/gossip site lays out, quite a number of former DC editors who were either publicly or privately known to have been “let go” of their jobs are actually quite gainfully employed by the DC/Warner Brother family.
Last year over in Burbank, LA, within Warner Bros, DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns put a team together that included a number of recently-made-redundant DC Comics editors. And no one talked about it.
Titled DC Entertainment Creative Affairs, the group has a rather roving brief. Working on multimedia exploitation such as animation and live action, including DC Nation, Young Justice, Brave & Bold, Smallville’s final season (including another Geoff Johns’ episode), the Sandman TV show and other not-yet-announced projects up and running for development (including a possible animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns), it’s basically a Bullpen for a different multi-media world and a veritable West Coast Justice League Of DC Comics.
Among the group is Mike Carlin, ex-longtime senior editor at DC, and the guy who gave me my break on that Holiday Special. Mike was kind enough to give me a tour of the DC office last year when I was in New York for the NYCC show, and he was honest and professional with me during the whole process of getting my story into print. He even let me know privately about his transfer out of the publishing side of DC when it happened, since he was my main contact at the editorial offices (now that this story is public, I feel like I’m not betraying any secrets by mentioning it here). Over the last year or two, I’ve kept in contact with about half a dozen other editors at DC as well, sending them copies of my latest books, and just reminding them that I’m still out here. Well, according to the article, 2 more of those folks are no longer editors either: Adam Schlagman and Sean Ryan have both moved over to the new DC Entertainment Creative Affairs. So, yeah, most of my contact in DC editorial are gone.
To further complicate matters for new creators looking to break in, the kinds of writing gigs that in the past may have been open to folks like me (and I say may because even then, the odds were way against you, as you were competing with seasoned pros who were desperately looking for gigs as well) are now being filled with many of these same ex-editors:
And in a further twist, a number of the now-ex-editors working for this new department have been hired by Eddie Berganza to write comics involved in the Flashpoint crossover.
The upcoming Flashpoint event is a good example. The crossover comprises something on the order of 14 new mini-series and one-shots. You might think that somewhere in there, an issue or two (or maybe even a backup story) would be open to new talent. But a look at the creative teams shows that of the few not being written by DC regulars (folks like Tony bedard and Peter Tomasi), they are being written by current and former editors: Adam Schlagman on Flashpoint: Abin Sur the Green Lantern and Flashpoint: Hal Jordan, Rex Ogle on Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint, Sean Ryan on Flashpoint: Grodd of War, Pornsak Pichetshote on Flashpoint: Green Arrow Industries, and Mike Carlin on Flashpoint: The Canterbury Cricket. Related to the above, a mini-series spinning out of the recently-concluded year long mega series Brightest Day, titled Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search, will be written by former Vertigo editor Jonathan Vankin.
(Aside: for another take on this topic, check out friend-of-the-ferret Caleb Mozzocco’s post What the Flashpoint creative teams tell us about DC’s strategy regarding talent on his Every Day Is Like Wednesday blog.)
I think the writing is clearly on the wall for writers like me when it comes to DC Comics.
Now, I’ve never had any illusions of writing comics for a living, nor of getting a “dream job” of writing the Batman monthly or what have you. But, I do have a connection to a lot of these characters that I’ve been reading for almost three decades now, and it’s definitely fun to “play in the DC sandbox,” as the saying goes. However, I think these days, more than at any other time, the door to that playground is firmly shut to new talent. So the choice is to keep beating my head against that wall (wait, did I just switch metaphors on you?), expending a lot of time, money, and energy in the process, or move on to other projects and opportunities.
I choose the latter.
This year, I’ve been concentrating my efforts on getting a few of my creator-owned projects off the ground. In many ways, that’s just as daunting a task as trying to “break in” to Marvel and DC, but if and when it finally does happen, the emotional rewards are much more gratifying. Already, I’m enjoying small victories. I just sold an autobiographical short story to the new Dark Horse Presents, and wrapped up another short autobio for this year’s Liberty Annual, to benefit the CBLDF. And if nothing else, the process of pitching my Persia Blues series has been a great learning experience, and a fantastic way to hone some writing skills unrelated to the actual creation of a story (those loglines and summaries are a bitch to get right!) Add to that The Unseen pitch (with artist and fellow PANELista Andy Bennett) and a couple of other in-development proposals, and I remain hopeful that at least one of my books will gain some traction this year. And of course, I continue to be involved with the PANEL group, which is my single biggest outlet for creative expression.
All of this isn’t to say that I won’t keep an eye on the industry and look for opportunities here and there, but unlike last year where I spent an inordinate amount of energy trying to play with the big boys, I’m going to be much more judicious with my time now. But as for me and DC, I think that first date may have also been the last. And you know what? I’m OK with that. I gave it my best shot, and ended up in one of their books with a story I feel proud of.
Now it’s time to dial it up to 11 on my own books.
So I just sent off my first real big pitch to Vertigo this week. Needless to say, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on pitching comics these past few months, trying to pick up tips and helpful advice. Here’s a great anecdote I came across, as told by editor extraordinaire, Bob Schreck. And while it may not work again, or at a more “corportae” publishing house like Vertigo, it’s certainly quite clever:
“Steve [Seagle] was the best pitch guy ever. I still have his original pitch, in my living room, on a bookshelf. You got a rectangular, hollowed-out glass paperweight, about an inch and a half deep. Under that, in a very simple rubber-stamped typeface, is the word, ‘Look,’ stamped on the glass. Then he stamped it on the piece of paper that was really a kind of origami kind of thing, and the paper was underneath it so it was three-dimensional look to it. And then there was a rubber band, and you take off the rubber band, and you take out this piece of paper. Then, as you unfold it, it says – and I’m paraphrasing here – ‘a man.’ Unfold; ‘a woman. Unfold; ‘a gun.’ Unfold; ‘A night they’ll never forget.’ And then you unfold the whole thing and there it is, and you’re reading his pitch.”
Well, they say the Internets is forever, and it’s so true.
Cyberspace Comics is an Ebay comic book retailer, and they have a pretty nifty blog, with several recurring features like One Shot at Greatness (reviews of one-shot comics) and Famous Fanmails (reprinting letters written by future comics pros, as printed in comic book letters columns). And it’s the latter feature that finds episode #43 spotlighting a letter from none other than yours truly!
Yep, they found a letter I got published in Doctor Zero #6, a title in Epic Comics’ Shadowline Saga series, from February 1989. Check it:
Honestly, I gotta say I’m pretty flattered that they even know who I am!
The whole Famous Fanmails category is fun to read through. They have fan letters from the likes of Scott McCloud, Anne McCaffrey, Chuck Dixon, Neil Gaiman, and many more. Drop on by and take a stroll down memory lane.
Comic Book Resources is doing a fun artist contest where each month they’ll post a script page and invite artists to show off their interpretation of it. Here are the details:
“So, each month, I’ll put up one page from a comic book script by a notable comic book writer. If you want to participate, you will then draw that page and e-mail it to me at email@example.com by Saturday, March 5th. On Sunday, March 6th, I’ll post all the pages people have sent in. Then the readers will vote on who they think did the best job on the page (I might do a secret panel, as well, but there will definitely be a public voting option). Sounds fun, right?”
The inaugural contest features a page from Andy Diggle’s script for Batman Confidential #1. There are no prozes, as far as I can tell, so it’s just for fun (and practice). Plus, it gets your art seen by a bunch of folks. And who knows, maybe some editors will be checking it out. So if you’re so inclined, give it a shot.
So this is a cool little post on the official Vertigo blog, wherein Mike Carey (truly one of the best writers working in comics today) and artist Peter Gross share their stories about how their first gigs with Vertigo came about. It’s full of neat little behind-the-scenes anecdotes, and a nice quote from Karen Berger:
“When I told her I was waiting for my big break to come along, she said, ‘There’s no such thing – it’s a whole lot of little breaks.'”
I also like Carey’s story about how he essentially blew it when he had his first opportunity to pitch to editor Shelly Bond.
Well, the December solicitations are out and I can officially announce my debut DC work: an 8-page story in the DCU Holiday Special 2010 anthology. My tale features The Spectre and is set in Iran during Norooz, the Persian New Year. Here’s a look at the cover by Matt Haley:
And here’s the official solicitation text:
DCU HOLIDAY SPECIAL 2010 #1
Written by DAN ABNETT & ANDY LANNING, SETH ALBANO, TONY BEDARD, JOEY CAVALIERI, KEVIN GREVIOUX and DARA NARAGHI
Art by RENATO ARLEM, ROBERTO CASTRO, RICHARD & TANYA HORIE, CARLO SORIANO and more
Cover by MATT HALEY
From the dawn of time (Anthro) to the far-flung future (Legion of Super-Heroes), sentient life has honored the winter holidays with celebrations and rituals as diverse as the universe itself! Join DC Comics – and a stellar team of writers and artists – to honor the vast and diverse holidays of the DC Universe in 6 tales of holiday cheer! Starring the aforementioned characters along with Superman, The Spectre, Jonah Hex, and Green Lantern John Stewart for a HOLIDAY SPECIAL like no other!
On sale DECEMBER 8 * 56 pg, FC $4 .99 US
I don’t know yet who will be drawing my story, but as soon as I do I’ll post it.
I’m not a big fan of all these “break into comics” competitions, as by and large they tend to be gimmicks, designed more for the sake of publicity than actually finding talented newcomers. But this one looks to be pretty solid: Eagle Awards Initiative. Organized by the same folks behind the long-running British “Eagle Awards,” they are open to previously unpublished creators (self-published books seem to be ok, as they define professionals as ones that have received a page rate from a publisher).
Entries, which will be considered on their individual merits, will be judged by a panel of the industry’s top talents. Each should be a clearly told, self contained story of between 4 and 10 pages with no restrictions as to genre. Entrants can be a single writer/artist, a writer and artist, or a writer, penciller and inker team…The winner will have their story published in print and digitally, in multiple languages, and have it available to anyone on the planet.
A cash prize is on offer to the top three entries as voted by the judges:
They’ve definitely rounded up an impressive list of folks as judges:
Karen Berger (Executive Editor, Vertigo)
Ellen Abramowitz (Chairman/President, MOCCA)
Tom Brevoort (Editor, Marvel)
Diana Schutz (Editor, Dark Horse)
and a ton of other prominent editors, writers, and artists, including Jeff Smith, Bryan Talbot, Mark Waid, Dave Gibbons, Becky Cloonan, Peter Bagge, etc.
Deadline for entry is November 1, 2010. So head on over and read the submissions guidelines.