Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Excitement of Comics

Tomorrow I've got a new comic coming out. Black Widow: Deadly Origin is its name, and you can listen to me going on about it here. I'm very proud of it, and I'm tremendously excited for Wednesday (Thursday in the UK), when the title shows up in comic shops. This is hardly an unknown condition for my fellow Clockworkers, all of whom are, as we speak, I'm sure, groggily trying to piece together some fragmentary memories of the World Fantasy Convention in order to frame a report or two. (Seriously, communication from the floor was limited this weekend. I waited in vain for a photo or two from the bar, with glasses being chinked and people falling out of windows, but... nothing! Did an EMP bomb of some kind go off? Or would said reports just read 'bar, bar, awards, bar?') Many of them are comic book writers, and Chris Roberson has the first issue of his own Cinderella title out tomorrow too. Indeed, that's his first issue of any series, so he must feel extra excited.

That Wednesday feeling, where one hangs around I Fanboy (I hope they note I've dropped the comma I kept putting in their name, like they were the fan equivalent of I, Claudius), Millarworld and other forums, waiting for the first reviews to wander in, when one can pop into a comic shop, and actually see it sitting there on the shelf (right next to the Avengers titles, hmm, that's good) is just one of the many lovely things about writing comics. There's that ability one has to edit dialogue right up until the last moment, to make speech suit expression, or add a joke (like some of John the Skrull's lines) that I only thought of very late. There's the joy of getting new pages of artwork in one's inbox. And the realisation that, if you're vocal in your praise at that point, gradually inkers and colourists will join in sending you their work, because they all love what they're doing too. There's that feeling, a little like playing Test Cricket, that one is joining in with an enterprise (the Marvel Universe or the records of the MCC) that stretches back a long way, that you're comparing your efforts to those of the greats. (And being found wanting, obviously, but maybe one day...) There's working with a really small team, really fast, to create serial fiction under pressure, sometimes working from a whole plot, sometimes leaping hopefully from cliffhanger to cliffhanger, with none of the many layers of approval required of the broadcast media. And there's the audience: immediate, terrifying, roaring, non-impartial pop music reaction.

I think the feeling is quite an ancient one, akin to what Conan Doyle and Dickens and all the other writers of serials for magazines must have felt. I think if Apple do make comics available on ITunes for their Tablet (if such a thing is forthcoming) then that feeling may become a genuinely populist movement again. At any rate, I really love it, and I hope some of that comes over in the comics. Dears, do any of the rest of you want to talk about your special feelings towards this medium? Cheers.


  1. And Black Widow is of course about a deadly female spy. Tomorrow is the day to get to your comic shop and pick up comics about deadly female spies. These funnybook marvels are coming out like... (dare I say it?)... clockwork.

  2. Paul, I know exactly what you mean. iFanboy is usually where I go to get a feel for things. Not a perfect indicator, I don't think, but definitely a good finger in the wind for what fans are thinking about things.

    One of the things I love about doing monthly comics, aside from what you mentioned, is that every month is a fresh start, a chance to make a new impression. With a novel, say, you get a single chance to make a splash, but with comics you continue to get feedback, and can sometimes win people over from issue to issue.

    Anyway, Wednesday is definitely my favorite day of the week.

  3. Novels still used to have the clear advantage of a much longer shelf life, but that's changed too. Many comics stores (maybe even most) keep issues on the shelf for awhile.

  4. I like the iFanboy reaction too. Mind you, they didn't notice my Young Avengers series, for good or ill, really, apart from their namecheck in it. So they do have blindspots.