Apr 232017

Even if you are a writer, you will still need a concept before you can write the story. And do not make the mistake of thinking they are the same thing, either. 

Star Wars is nothing more (at the least level) than a fairy tale set in space. You have the good wizards and the bad, the prince and the princess, the evil enemy complete with a huge castle, the thief who turns out to be a diamond in the rough, and so on. Great concept, but there is no story there. 

Without fleshing out those characters and giving them wants and desires to motivate them, nothing is actually happening. And this leads to my problem.

Moby is more of a ‘concept’ guy than a storyteller. I’ve had some good ideas and bad ones, but generally speaking it’s the setting or circumstance that I find interesting, and I can usually think up some ideas that are at least a bit different or new-ish. But I don’t trust myself to actually write, much let script, the actual story.

Normally this would keep me from ever making my own comic book, but through the power or work-for-hire and having a little cash to hire artists, I believed it could be done. Was I right? Well, yes, but there is a lot to learn about getting to there from here.

What it means is that I have to first have my concept, then hire a writer. One example of a concept is the book I am currently working on, Dr. Fizz.

What I’ve Learned So Far From Dr. Fizz

The concept for Fizz came about while talking with a friend about what movies Adam Sandler should be making.

A romantic Comedy set in a world where superheros are rather common and how a boy has to pretend to be one to get the girl. His plans backfire and he ends up facing real superheros while still having to save the girl. 

Yeah,  not bad. But it was the motivations of each character that was the genius behind the concept. I had, without knowing it, done things right when I dreamed up Dr. Fizz. Boy wants the girl, but the girl wants to date only superheros. Boy pretends to be superhero to get the girl. Each of those sentences is easy to relate to because we all have wants and desires. The motivations of the characters drive the story, and that is why I have to hire a writer.

The writer takes the concept and gives it life, a story and then writes a script. Along the way he will have ideas and things to add into the story, most of them good if you are lucky as I have been so far. 

For Dr. Fizz, I have been blessed to have Rob Stanley take on the challenge and his writing has proven to add to the concept and the characters in ways I would not have thought of. Ah, the power of collaboration.

Page One Progression From Pencils to Inks to Colors. Art by Rick Alves, Colors by Rodrigo Charles.

And it will be a collaboration. In the end if you are paying others to work on the book then you are the editor (or hiring an editor), but you have to give the writer and the artist the room for them to do their thing. You have to trust that since their name will be on the book that they are trying hard and will not turn in bad work.  Trust is very important.

For example, with Dr. Fizz I had looked at the script and thought to expand one scene from 2 to 3 pages, and Rob came back and said he really thought it would better as two. I said, OK, your the writer and this is a script/pacing issue, we’ll let you make the call. And you know, it worked out just fine.

And Then Depression Sets In…

But then there was the latest of my ideas, a really different concept having to do with the idea of our universe actually being a simulation, but with a twist. I had an inkling of how the book could go, but there was a lot more to cover. It was a lot for a single issue, but I had thought of how the exposition would work and even a antagonist and a final, cliffhanger scene. I just had nothing in the middle of these scenes, very little of the character and nothing for his motivation. 

I could have worked on it more, but I got lazy and put an advert for a writer. I got over 20 responses, more than I ever expected. This is where I started to learn a new lesson.

I decided to just have each person write up a small outline of their story idea and get it to me within two weeks. With twenty people interested I was going to have a lot of disappointed and possibly mad writers not get the gig so I was asking for the bare minimum, like two paragraphs or something. This turned out to be not the best idea.

Without realizing it I had made the whole thing some sort of private contest. Yikes! Note to self…even if twenty people are interested in the future weed out most and then deal with the remaining few in a much more personal manner. I have to give John a big kudo, he’s the only one who outright passed after seeing the proposal, and I can’t stop myself from thinking he’s the smartest guy in the room.

All the same, hiring a writer is a daunting task simply because it is the foundation of this issue of your book and all the others that come after. It has to be right, so who you hire is a big deal. You will probably have a few regrets, so learn to roll with the punches. And by punches I mean the results of your decisions. It’s easy to blame others, but try to remember you are running this clown show and there are flying bucks everywhere. 

Things will work out, I will get the proposals and choose one. I’ve even thought of making the issue a 36 page anthology using several of the proposals if there are enough good ideas. 

So, be careful of how you hire, as well as who. Once you hire them, trust them to have the books best interest at heart. Be open and honest, don’t lie to your team, ever. Roll with the punches, mistakes will be made. And don’t mistake the concept, the writing, and the scripting for one thing. 

And for the record, my concept is nothing like The Matrix, or at least not the same. Well, not exactly the same. Really, it’s not.

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