Part of being a writer in comics is pitching. Pitching, pitching, pitching. Sometimes that’s for your creator-owned stuff, sometimes it’s at the request of a publisher for a particular property, and sometimes it’s just a passion project that you pitch to a publisher that you have a relationship with.
In this instance, it’s the latter — my co-creator on CAPTAIN ULTIMATE, Ben Bailey, and I wrote a Sonic the Hedgehog back-up in 2014 for Archie Comics. After the success of AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE and an impending ARCHIE revamp on the horizon, we took it upon ourselves to craft a new take on what is, I think, the best Archie property: JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS.
So obviously nothing ever came of this — we tinkered with the idea of revising it into a creator-owned project, but in the time since we wrote this, “punk rock takes” on things have become all the rage and by the time our book would come out, it’ll most definitely be old hat.
So instead, we thought it’d be fun to just show off the pitch!
At the very least, you can enjoy this awesome playlist we made to accompany your reading.
I’m so pleased to say that Pawn Shop, by me and Sean Von Gorman, is being published by Z2 Comics this fall, as announced by Publishers Weekly earlier today.
The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and at your local book and comic stores. If you were a Kickstarter backer or purchased one of the self-published editions from us at some point, your support means the world! If you enjoyed it, we’d love if you could continue spreading the word and get your local shops to order a copy or just tell a friend!
Spoilers for Game of Thrones. And early ’90s Superman comics, I guess.
Death in stories is important. Or at least, it should be.
Coming from comics, we’re used to death being a revolving door. Heroes and villains die frequently and eventually return. It’s part of the tapestry that makes superhero comics what they are. The impact of these deaths, when done well, is a source of great drama and character exploration. Their purpose is to reinvigorate the ongoing stories with a new status quo and open up new paths of storytelling. Likewise when the same characters return.
The most well-known example — and the best, I would argue — would be the death of Superman. By 1992 Superman had become sort of passe, an optimistic character in a pessimistic world. In an era of things like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, Superman had become almost anachronistic. The public’s wants seemed to be shifting, and this was reflected in Hollywood as much as in comics. 1987 delivered the ill-conceived and repugnant Superman IV: The Quest for Peace — an abysmal flop — while the grittier Dark Knight found smashing success in Tim Burton’s Batman only two years later. The era of the morally upstanding hero was done, it seemed, and the ’90s ushered in the era of the anti-heroes and grim avengers. More brooding, more bullets, more blood.
If you haven’t seen It Follows, there are spoilers here. I highly recommend avoiding this post until you have a chance to watch and unpack this movie. Not even because I’m spoiling it for you, but because I want you to spout your theories and your reads. Let’s dig into this shit.
It Follows is the modern horror movie that finally understands that over-explanation is, in fact, the removal of horror.
That writer/director David Robert Mitchell rejects any notion of explanation is why It Follows is as compelling as it is. In this interview with Yahoo! he has a lot of interesting things to say, but his quote “something from a nightmare can’t be explained” sums up his movie perfectly.
It Follows is a horror movie with something to say, but ultimately it’s up to the viewer to unpack what that might be. It could be read as an allegory for AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, a celebration of monogamy, an exploration of true love, a condemnation of casual sex, the terrible effects of a non-present parent, the nature of death, facing the consequences of our choices, or… it could just be a nightmare caught on film. And there are no rules for a nightmare.
I’m by no means a financially successful writer that should be giving any sort of contract advice to other comic book creators (though not for lack of trying), but I think it’s important for us all to share our experiences with these things and there’s far too little of it in the community (if you want great legal info on contracts from a creator-POV, check out Charles Soule’s postsonthesubject; the man is a talented writer as well as a lawyer).
So, I’ve done a few things here and there: some work-for-hire for publishers I love, some work-for-hire that I wish would disappear forever and burn in Creative Hell, creator-owned books with indie publishers and creator-owned books self-published with the help of Kickstarter. I’ve done work I’m proud of (except for the aforementioned stuff burning in Creative Hell) and have plenty more in the works.
More recently I’ve been collaborating with the amazing Joe Badon on a science-fiction project that I’ve been pitching as CHEERS meets BLADE RUNNER, called SPEAKEASY. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, Joe’s art is stunning and weird, and pretty much every publisher has passed on it. And that’s totally okay. The style is definitely outside of the mainstream wheelhouse, and coming from two no-names, I get it. We did, however, have a long (year-long, in fact) conversation with a smaller publisher about getting it out there, possibly this summer/fall. I’m not going to say who because it really doesn’t matter. They put out books that I really like and I would’ve been happy to work with them.