Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Little Note To Warren Ellis

My thing with Warren Ellis started with this thread:

You can see the full thread here.

CommentAuthor mjmartinejohn
    • CommentTimeMar 31st 2010
    So, you go to the comic shop and pick up your pull list, but its a crappy week. So you go and look at the racks to see what is happening in the world of small indie superhero comics. You see an amazing cover, great art and notice that it is a limited series. Not a big investment in the long run. Might be a cool little story. You pick it up...

    What do you want to see out of an indie superhero comic book? Black and white? Color? More pages? Extras? The start of a letters page?

    I'm trying to see what format would be good for my comic and I know that Erik and his fans have been discussing this lately.

    Would you just like to pick up a completely new black and white graphic novel for a low price?

    Any suggestions? Would you want a digest size or something like a Conan magazine from the eighties?

    Do you even give a shit. 
  1.  (7983.12)
    Thanks guys. I'll see you on the comic stands.

    No, I'm thinking I probably won't.
    1.  edit (7983.13)
      No Warren, because I'll send you a copy personally. 
    2.   CommentAuthorwarrenellis
      • CommentTimeApr 1st 2010
       (7983.14)
      I will, I'm afraid, be hugely surprised if you make it to publication. The last 10/20 years are littered with the corpses of indie superhero comics, and the fact that you don't have strong ideas about format right out of the gate indicates that you don't really have a solid sense of what you're doing. Format and content are indivisible, and one really does define and dictate to the other.

      You can't crowdsource your own creative intent.
    3.  edit (7983.15)
      I agree with that.

      Seeing that I am still in the planning stages on certain parts of this endeavor, and that the comics industry seems to be in flux as of print, web, etc. I am curious as what people would like to see. I have written my project as a serialized, twelve issue series that will be published as a floppy. I am going to include a who's who page, a news report page, and a couple of pinups. Each issue will run twenty-two pages of story with the added bonuses. The first three issues will be given away free on the web because I like the idea of people seeing, reading and talking about it. It will be in color.

      If I hadn't of posted this, there would be a couple of ideas that I hadn't come up with myself.

      I am thinking that no publisher in their right minds would touch twelve issues from an unknown. I am hoping that they shit their pants when they see the art (which is amazing).

      If this doesn't work I have a four issue series that I am going to shop around. Once again superheroes. Once again an indie.

      If I understand correctly you started out with Lazarus Churchyard. Not exactly mainstream, but with an amazing artist attached.

      That was an anthology, no?

      Anywho, I will see you on stands, just so that I can prove you wrong. And you will get a copy in the mail, even if we're ten years older by the time you get it.

      Thanks for the incentive. 
      1.  edit (7983.20)
        James Puckett.

        Nice idea. It has me thinking about whether I want to produce this completely online. I know I have enough money for one full issue. For complete control I could get this online, and see whether or not I could make enough in donations or something in order to have the second issue made. And so on. All I would need is a domain, the software to crank it, and so on.

        What I receive from this. Something to show others (editors, etc.), and I can make it my way.

        Oh, and as for the Lazarus Churchyard comment, I was slightly off-kilter because one of my favorite writers just told me I couldn't get me comic made. It hit me quite hard, and I didn't know what quite to think.

        But it all led to some new thought in how to get this out there, and how to get some recognition in this industry.

        Now the question changes. Does this sound like an interesting way to pursue things? I think it does, and I think it is what I will do. And I can follow it up with a graphic novel if I can build enough of an audience to see print.

        Thanks for the different thoughts. 
        1.  (7983.21)
          If I understand correctly you started out with Lazarus Churchyard. Not exactly mainstream, but with an amazing artist attached.

          That was an anthology, no?


          A newsstand anthology, yes, called BLAST. I knew the parameters going in - six pages a month, page size, etc. They bought the script first, and then we looked around for an artist to fit it.

          I have written my project as a serialized, twelve issue series that will be published as a floppy. I am going to include a who's who page, a news report page, and a couple of pinups. Each issue will run twenty-two pages of story with the added bonuses.

          Use "single." Some people treat "floppy" as a perjorative. Sounds like you've scripted the whole thing already. That means you've already taken page size into consideration.

          I am thinking that no publisher in their right minds would touch twelve issues from an unknown.

          This is very true -- I usually advise against new creators leading with their personal epic, and starting with smaller pieces that are less of an economical risk for the publisher and show you as able to complete something.

          If you're already taking the web into account, you might want to further consider "just" doing your project as a webcomic, and using that to shop for a print publisher.

      1.  edit (7983.23)
        Costa_k sorry if you were misled. This started as an open question...I wanted to know what people were interested in so that I could get some idea about how to package a comic.

        Then it became something else. I am attempting to make a comic. I would like people to read it, and I would like to see it in print. I was set on hitting up publishers for work because I cannot afford to print it myself, but I did not really take the web into consideration. Now that is kind of stupid on my part, considering the ipad, the ipod, comixology, iverse and etc, and this is just what I have learned in the past few hours.

        I am an internet person, but I don't have an ipod, or any ithing in fact, just a Dell that I got on the cheap. Now I have a little money that I have borrowed and a little money that I have saved and I have paid for some pages to be made for a story that I have half scripted and plotted. I have written an adventure story that I like, and that has gotten some good feedback from the online communities that I frequent and would like to share it.

        My artist is amazing, but I have to pay him, and having taken the leap in spending some money in order to achieve a dream of mine I am considering taking a bigger leap and making a larger investment with little or no return in order to have something to show people.

        So through discourse and some small heartbreaks (that I can laugh at now), I have come to the conclusion that the online universe is probably the best place to bring my creation. I have a whole bunch of work ahead of me so that I can get this right.

        Once again thanks everyone for your input. See you on the interweb.
      2.  edit (7983.24)
        But once I get it published in print I'm sending you a copy Warren. 

        Before I get any further, let me explain my history with Warren Ellis as a member of his audience. When I was around seventeen I bought issue number 4 (I think) of Transmetropolitan. I was a sullen, lonely teenage boy that listened to too much music and read too many comics. I thought of myself as suicidal and was looking to latch onto anything that moved and I latched onto this book because it was unlike anything I had ever seen. I might have just read Neuromancer, and I might have just read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but I had never thought of what it might be like to smash those two ideas together and add Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail of 72 to the mix as well. I ate that book up, and being such an a dopey-eyed young boy I became a huge fan of Warren Ellis.

        With the exception of SVK, some select Marvel projects and Freakangels I have read and owned everything in Warren's catalogue. EVERYTHING.

        So, one day I decided to make my own comic, and I had no idea what I was doing. None. I went onto message boards, read books, and the like, trying to figure out what the fuck I was going to do with myself and what format I might like to try it in. I was striking out blind into the wilderness with a match and an idea.

        And then the conversation above happened. And I broke a little bit. Warren does give me good advice in the conversation, eventually, but the first comment was staggering. I understand tough love, I use it myself sometimes, but I had a bond to this man's work, and that bond made me snap a little inside. It still hurts as I write this, but this is my last say on the whole thing, my purification from Warren, a bit of a cleansing to say the least.



        Why now? Two years after the whole debacle? Well, I am getting rid of my last stack of Warren's comics that have been sitting beside my computer and I am having a hard time doing it. Warren's work is full of bile and intelligence and wonderful ideas. I love his work, I really do. But I am reminded how much someone I idolize let me down in a moment whenever I look at them, or flip through the pages. I've told this story a couple times since then and have been told, "You should never meet your heroes," and that rings true with me. I have never met the man, only had a short online conversation with the fellow, and I don't deign to know him from a hole in the ground, but...

        I sent some emails to him since then:

        Email #1:
        Take a look at the first five issues. I think you might be surprised. And if you are not. Oh well. At least the art is worth looking at.

        Thanks for the incentive.

        Email #2:
        I think I owe you an apology for being a troll. I am sorry for being a dick. I took something you told me to heart, and hurt myself with it and made myself a pest. This is the last you will hear from me.

        Email #3:
        Warren,

        I know that I took what you said on your boards wrong and harassed you about it. I hurt myself with some words I did not read properly, and your advice was solid and something I should have paid attention to, but I stumbled around in the dark and found my way eventually.

        I would like to send you a copy of my book, because I am proud of it, and am overly proud in general. You can burn it in a satanic ritual, or just use it as something to light your next cigarette, or read it to your children at bedtime. I self-printed 3oo copies, have it up in various digital places and am still working on volume 2.

        I'm a fan and I hate looking at your work and feeling all bittersweet about it. So...it is up to you, but this proud man would like to send you his book, say sorry and get on with his life.


        --And I know I totally trolled him on twitter for awhile and I tried to find those tweets, but I couldn't. I wanted to show how irrational I have been about this whole thing, and what an asshole I've been as well. 

        I really want to take the books out into my backyard and burn them, but I think I'm just going to sell them instead, and hopefully get this out of my head, and move onto something else.

        Why write a blog about this? What is the point behind writing this down, making this public? Because it feels real that way, and because in my moment of not-so-rational thinking, on a day that I feel vulnerable, this has bubbled up to the top of the pile and I don't want to hold onto it anymore, I want to cast it off in the most public and stark way that I can, because I can.

        I'm opening myself up to ridicule and I'm opening myself up to whatever hurt this could do my career as a comic book creator, but I needed to get this out.

        I now understand what words can do to people and to fans of my work. If I have fans I will endeavor to treat them with the utmost respect, keeping in mind that I am human and I have bad days, and so do other people.

        So know this Warren, I have my book in three shops right now, they're not selling that well, but I have them on the stands. And in my book I blow the shit out of a ship that I modeled after your Planetary ship, because I am childish and petty, but it felt good at the time.

        I took your advice and put the comic up online. I am quite proud of it and we have some loyal readers, people seem to like it. I'm not finished it yet, but I'm going to do it.

        Thanks for the work that I read of yours, I enjoyed it. I think I won't read any more of it and after this will finally be able to leave you the fuck alone.

        The offer stands if you want that book.

        Martin





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