So, in the last six days, it’s been announced in Entertainment Weekly that I’m killing Wolverine, and by the Hollywood Reporter that my creator-owned series with Oni Press, Letter 44, is in development as a television show with SyFy.

That’s nuts. How did this happen? I wish I could tell you – it still seems almost misty, like it’s happening to someone else. Or, more pertinent to this blog post, it seems too big to articulate. But I suppose I’ll give it a shot. I mean, words are my job, aren’t they?

Here is what these announcements mean to me – along with the trajectory of the entire last year, really:

I don’t have to be quite as worried that it’s all going to go away.

For years – years – every time I made a wish of any kind (birthday candles, eyelashes, falling stars, you name the trope), it was always the same thing: “I’d like to spend as much of my life creating things as possible, making a living from ideas.” Not that I hate being an attorney – hopefully my She-Hulk series shows you that – but it’s just a different thing. Once you reach a certain point in your life, I think you figure out where your happiness lies, and mine comes from making things, whether music or stories or whatever else. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do – I wrote my first “novel” in fourth grade (it was about a unicorn.)

Now, though, because of everyone who has picked up, written about, talked to me about, tweeted, Facebooked, spoken to their friends about, ordered for their shop, hired me to do or just plain old read my work… I can feel myself relaxing a bit. I think, I hope that I’m not going anywhere. I can think about what’s next. (What’s next = cool stuff, if I have anything to say about it.)

So, thank you, all of you. I better get back to it, though – turns out I have quite a lot of work to do.

It’s Thursday – tomorrow morning I fly to C2E2 for what promises to be another great weekend of meeting fans, talking comics and – time permitting – a few great runs along the Chicago lakeshore, which is something I look forward to all year long. You go up from the convention center along the shore through Grant Park, Millienium Park and then turn around once you hit Navy Pier. It’s just gorgeous, and really helps to clear out the con-related cobwebs. And any other cobwebs.

By the time I land in Chicago, I believe some news will have broken about a project I’ve been referring to as The Grey Book on Twitter for a while.  This is the grey book in question, the Moleskine dedicated to the story:

IMG_20140424_140423_322

What’s in it? You’ll find out in broad strokes tomorrow, and more specifically later this year. It’s big, though – bigger than that one little grey notebook should be able to contain.

In other C2E2-related news, I’ll be doing a cool run of panels and signings. When I’m not doing those, I can be found at table O-13, near a rogue’s gallery of incredibly talented folks.  Here’s the schedule:

FRIDAY

2:45-3:45 – Room N427 -DC All Access – I’ll be talking about some of my projects for DC Comics, including Swamp Thing and Red Lanterns. Other guests include Brian Azzarello, Dan Jurgens, Greg Lockard, Greg Pak, Jim Chadwick, Kyle Higgins, Nicola Scott and Scott Snyder.

4:15-5:15 – Room N426 – Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way – Are you a writer or artist? Ever dream of working for Marvel? Do you find yourself thinking, “I could do that…if I knew how!” Well, here’s your chance! Join superstar writers and artists including Mark Brooks (Fearless Defenders), Joshua Hale Fialkov (Amazing Spider-Man: Who Am I? Infinite Comic, Ultimate FF), Todd Nauck (Nightcrawler), and Charles Soule (She-Hulk) as well as Marvel’s talent scout C.B. Cebulski to find out the answers on how to get your foot in the door and make your job MARVEL!

 

SATURDAY

Noon – 1 PM – Signing at the Marvel Booth.

4:15-5:15 – Room N426 - Marvel’s Next Big Thing – Want to start reading Marvel comics? There’s no better time than Marvel NOW! And there’s no better place to learn about our thrilling and creatively diverse All-New Marvel NOW series than this panel! Don’t miss some exciting discussion of Guardians of the Galaxy and Inhuman titles, plus a surprise announcement or two! Panelists include Executive Editor Mike Marts, Senior Editor Nick Lowe, Mahmud Asrar (Wolverine & the X-Men), Joshua Hale Fialkov (Amazing Spider-Man: Who Am I? Infinite Comic), Charles Soule (She-Hulk), Ryan Stegman (Wolverine), James Robinson (Fantastic Four), and Skottie Young (Rocket Raccoon)!

 

SUNDAY

12:15-1:15 – Room N427 – Superman, the Man of Tomorrow – cool panel discussing Superman (obviously), and more particularly the upcoming Doomed event, which starts next month. Other panelists include Aaron Kuder, Greg Pak and Scott Snyder.

1:15-2:15 – Room N426 – Wolverine – Three Months to Die – Wolverine is going to die! But when, and how? The biggest Wolverine event in years kicks off in June with “3 Months to Die” and this panel is the place to find out more! Plus, learn about exciting new developments across the entire X-Men family of titles! Panelists include Executive Editor Mike Marts, Editor Jordan D. White, Mahmud Asrar (Wolverine & the X-Men), Russell Dauterman (Cyclops), Jason Latour (Wolverine & the X-Men), Greg Pak (World War Hulk) and Charles Soule (She-Hulk, Thunderbolts) as they take on all questions!

Now, at the table, I’ll have the usual assortment of cool things – Strongman Vols 1 and 2, 27 Vols 1 and 2, Strange Attractors, Letter 44 1-6 (the whole first arc) and some of my Marvel/DC work as well. I’ll have 27 and Strange Attractors shirts, the world-famous Indian Swamp Thing poster, and something else – a brand new Strongman story called El Tigre and the Tiger.  It’s drawn by my frequent collaborator Robert Saywitz – the guy who did the amazing complexity maps in Strange Attractors. This is a short, fun tale about a trip to Coney Island undertaken by our doughty hero. It’s designed as sort of an art object – printed on really cool paper and folded in an interesting way, so that unfolding it becomes part of the story is told.  I’m very proud of it – this is the first new Strongman material in something like four years! Here’s the cover pane (the final is inked, etc. – but it’ll give you a taste!):

Strongman3_Pencil_Panel1-small

These are pretty limited, self-printed works of love, so if you want one, swing by O-13 early. See you in Chi-town!

 

I’m in the home stretch of prepping for my first convention of 2014, the always incredible Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, Washington.  While it’s not the first big convention of the year (Planet Comicon hits before ECCC, for one), it’s been my first con for the last four years running. This makes ECCC #5 for me, which I believe is a legacy to be proud of. I have family in Seattle, but it’s also just such a great town in general. I live in NYC, which I love, but Seattle lets me go for runs along Puget Sound, check out the EMP museum, do karaoke at one of my favorite karaoke places in THE WORLD (which I will be doing on Friday night with several friends I do this with every year, a small, select, talented group – we’ve been planning our song list for literally months), eat great food, hike up in the mountains… anyway, I dig it.

But I’m not just flying to Seattle to recharge my spiritual batteries and gallivant with my creative brethren and sistren in the comics industry. No, I’m also coming to see YOU.  I will be set up in Artist’s Alley at table V-12.

I expect to have the following items:

Letter 44 1-5
Strange Attractors
27 Vols 1 and 2
Strongman Vols 1 and 2
T-shirts (27 and Strange Attractors)
Posters (that awesome Indian Swamp Thing one you may have seen around)

Plus, various issues and collections of Swamp Thing, Superman / Wonder Woman, Red Lanterns, Thunderbolts and She-Hulk, including variant covers. If you’re looking for a particular cover (especially S/WW), chances are I might have one.

TONS O’ MERCH! But I will not just be trying to turn paper with words and pictures on it into smaller, greener paper with words and picture on it. I will also be talking at you. I’m doing a number of panels and signings. Full schedule below:

Friday 1-2 PM, ROOM TCC 301 – Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way: “Are you a writer or artist?  Ever dream of working for Marvel?  Do you find yourself thinking “I could do that, if I knew how!”  Well, here’s your chance!  Join Marvel’s Talent Scout C.B. Cebulski and panelists Jason Aaron (Thor: God of Thunder), Jordie Bellaire (Deadpool), Jason Latour (Wolverine & The X-Men), Declan Shalvey (Moon Knight), and Charles Soule (She-Hulk) to find out how to get your foot in the door at Marvel!”

Friday 4-5 PM, Signing at the DC booth. (Look for the DC comics booth. I’m sure you’ll find it.)

Saturday, Noon-1 PM, ROOM TCC 301 – Marvel: Pint O’ CB: “This is it, Mighty Marvel fans: the no-holds-barred, anything goes, full-of-surprises panel you waited all year for, and it’s here!  Executive Editor Tom Brevoort and Marvel’s Talent Scout C.B. Cebulski take on all questions about upcoming Marvel events with guests Jason Aaron, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Charles Soule and G. Willow Wilson!  Plus: find out more about thrilling new series Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel from the women who write them!  This is the panel everyone will be talking about… so head on over and have a pint with C.B.!”

Saturday, 2-3 PM, ROOM TCC 301: DC Comics – The New 52: “New and veteran fans alike are welcomed to be a part of history as the DC team and top-notch talent discuss the books that are shaping this new era of DC Comics! Don’t miss this exclusive look inside the hottest comic line in decades! Panelists include Matt Idelson, Brian Buccellato, Ray Fawkes, Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Ann Nocenti, Scott Snyder, Charles Soule, Alessandro Vitti. Moderated by Larry Ganem.”

Saturday, 3-4 PM, Signing at the Oni Booth! Letter 44 galore! Show up and I will answer ONE question about the series for you. BUT ONLY ONE.

Sunday, Noon-1PM, Signing at the DC Booth!

Sunday, 1-2 PM, Room 201, Writers Unite: “Creator-owned comics are back in a big way and publishers are looking for new stories. Charles Soule (Superman/Wonder Woman) and Jim Zub (Samurai Jack) discuss writing, pitching, and breaking into the business.”

FYI, this last panel is incredibly useful for anyone aspiring to be a comics writer. Jim and I have been doing it for several years, and at this point it’s a finely honed cornucopia of handy, frank advice, with a pretty lively Q&A to boot. Highly recommended for anyone trying to get into this cramazing biz.

And that’s Emerald City! CANNOT WAIT TO SEE YOU!

 

 

Last night – probably too late last night, I tweeted this:

At the time, I was watching a movie that featured a few ex-Spetsnaz characters, which got me thinking about the incredible novel REAMDE from Neal Stephenson, which also features one of those scary, tough, extraordinarily competent dudes.  I decided to re-read that book as soon as I finished the one I’m on now (which I’m liking but not loving – good thing about books, though, is that there’s always another one).  From there, I moved on to a quick mental overview of Stephenson’s entire output (the movie clearly wasn’t really grabbing me) and realized that he’s what I would consider unassailable – everything he’s published is at a certain level of creative excellence, from essays to novels. Not a dud in the bunch. If you don’t know his work, please, see for yourself.

That led to the tweet above, which led to a pretty busy time on my feed. Seems like there’s plenty of brilliance out there (or at least the perception of brilliance).  The following names popped up in, in order of posting:

Wes Anderson, Charlie Chaplin, Quentin Tarantino, Jack White, George Carlin, John Williams, Seth**, Alfred Bester, Spalding Gray, Robert Fripp, David Bowie, Philip Seymour Hoffman, David Lynch, Slayer, Twain, Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, Kurosawa, Toth, Paul Newman, Bryan Fuller, Daniel Day Lewis, Manet, Cormac McCarthy, Nikola Tesla?, Jack Kirby, Michael Jordan?, Christopher Nolan, Charles Soule (uh huh, sure), Scott Snyder, Brian Bendis, George Eliot***, Quentin Tarantino, Lewis Carroll, Hitchcock, Alan Moore, Otomo, Warren Buffet, Chen Kenichi**, Shigeru Miyamoto, Randall Munroe**, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Rush, Charles Schulz, Miyazaki, Aretha Franklin, Kate Beaton, Miles Davis, David Bowie, Eminem, Kurosawa, Harryhausen, Orson Welles, Jules Verne, Westlake, Hitchcock, Freddie Mercury, Will Eisner, Frazetta, Jimmy Stewart, Maurice Sendak, Osamu Tezuka*, Tom Waits, Akira Kurosawa, Alastair Reynolds, Bill Watterson, John Cassavetes, Warren Ellis, Tarkovsky*, Jack Cardiff*, Christopher Doyle*, Bach, Bowie, Whitman, Naoki Urasawa**, Shel Silverstein, Theodore Seuss Geisel, Alex Ross, Coen Bothers, Calvino, Saramago, Taiyo Matsumoto*, Hiroaki Samura**, Andre 3000, Phonte**, Madlib*, Mingus, Tolkien, Salinger, Faulkner, Emerson & Fuller*, Flannery O’Connor*, Norman Rockwell, Bill Watterson, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Daniel Day Lewis, Jim Henson, Coltrane, Moebius, Jack Kirby, Glenn Gould, Mamoru Hosoda**, Philip Glass, Rothko, Vonnegut, Kara Walker**, Hitchcock, Poe, Miles Davis, Stravinsky, Joyce, Saramago, Moebius, Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Steve Reich**, Hendrix, Kafka, Kurosawa, Wool*, Dostoevsky, Bach, Rothko, Dali, Goddard, Mozart, Warhol, Trent Reznor, Vandana Shiva**, Leslie Nielsen, Coen Brothers, Bella Tarr*, John Candy, Gregory Peck, Meryl Streep, Rimbaud, Plath, West, Cronenberg, Burroughs, Ballard, Philip K. Dick, Brautigan*, Melville, Lynch, Bjork, Reed, Davis, Jodorowski, Otomo, McCartney, Andy Kaufman, Charlie Kaufman, Tezuka, Alex Toth, Moebius, Louis CK, Plath, Proust, Garcia Marquez, Flaubert, George Lucas, Freddie Mercury, Joe Strummer, Bill Finger, Borges, Metallica, Hendrix, Clapton, Stan Lee, Jim Lee, George Lucas (1977), Spielberg, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, The Beatles, David Lynch, Borges, Scorcese, Scorcese, Alphonse Mucha**, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Osamu Tezuka, Lynch, Kurosawa, Kubrick, Alexander McQueen, Coco Chanel, Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser**, The Brothers Quay**, Jane Austen, Hilary Mantel** and… as of this morning, the last pick was, sigh, Charles Soule.

Wow, right? A few thoughts on that list:

–First, it’s a pretty recent group. You’ve got plenty of 20th century folks, but then it drops off a cliff. Earliest name that I’m seeing as I scan through that is Bach. I think that’s legitimate, though, because we don’t necessarily know Bach’s entire output the way we do, say, the films of George Lucas, or the Coen Brothers. I know Bach was brilliant through and through because I’ve had the pleasure of listening to a huge cross-section of his stuff – same with Mozart and Beethoven. But Homer? I know two works, the same ones everyone else knows. For all I know, everything he wrote other than The Iliad and the Odyssey was a bunch of crap.

–There’s a difference between “genius” and “unassailable brilliance.” I think you could make a case for Star Wars being a work of genius, but I’m not sure I would agree with the idea that George Lucas is unassailably brilliant. Howard the Duck.

–No Shakespeare. No James Ellroy. No Frank Lloyd Wright. No Leonardo Da Vinci. No Michelangelo. No Julia Child. No Dickens.

–Few painters, few fashion designers… the focus was mostly filmmakers, writers and musicians. I wonder if that’s because I framed the original question using those, or because those are the people current society tends to elevate, or because that’s who my feed focuses on? Not much as far as popular novelists, either. I think you could make a case for Stephen King – although I’m sure it would spur fervent debate.

–We seem to really like David Lynch, Kurosawa, Hitchcock, Miles Davis, Hendrix, Bowie, Borges, Rothko, Moebius, Jack Kirby, , Tezuka, Alex Toth and Saramago.

–Here’s the best part about this, for me – every name on that list with at least one asterisk next to it is someone whose work I’m not particularly familiar with. I’ve heard of most of them (although not all), but I just haven’t checked out their work yet. To put it another way, THANK YOU, TWITTER, for giving me a fantastic series of recommendations for the next little while. I’m particularly intrigued by the ones I haven’t heard of. Those folks have two stars. Do I know everything and everyone? Come on – of course not. I’d be an idiot to pretend I do.

In fact, thank god there is more brilliance out there to find. I hope I never find it all.

–George Eliot gets three stars because of this lovely exchange with my friend Jennifer de Guzman:

I knew George Eliot wrote Silas Marner and Middlemarch, and I’m pretty sure that at some point I knew “George Eliot” was the pseudonym of a female writer – but not last night at 1 AM, apparently. I also might have mixed up Ms. Evans with this other pseudonymic writer. Anyway, no shame! I’ll never make that mistake again.

–Finally, I have no business being on that list.

So, last point – man, I love looking at that block of names. Pure distilled incredible. So much of culture is disposable – which is not necessarily a bad thing, as I think disposability serves a valuable purpose – but sometimes, we transcend.

And maybe the best part? Many of those people are still alive.

Who would you add?

It’s been a bit, but it’s become pretty clear to me that unless things slow down, that blog posts will be a luxury for a while. Perhaps I’ll just assign blogging to of the clones I keep being accused of having, but I prefer to save those guys for the books. Blogs need the personal touch, I think.

Anyway, I decided to take a few minutes to type something up today with respect to a new milestone in my writing career – and for once, it’s not about a new project I’m taking on.  Nope, this one’s about the first book I’m leaving.

As was reported this week, my time on the very cool Marvel series Thunderbolts will be coming to an end with issue 26. I took the book over from the infinitely capable Daniel Way with issue 12, and I will be succeeded by the equally skilled Ben Acker and Ben Blacker (of the Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast, among other delightful things.) When all is said and done, I will have done sixteen issues with the ‘Bolts, a little over a year’s worth of work (Marvel double-ships some titles, which means they put out more than one book per month on occasion.) Three hundred and twenty pages worth of dark action/comedy featuring some of my favorite characters in all of comics, including the Punisher and Elektra, not to mention newer faves like Red Leader and Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider. Tbolts scripts are always a joy to write – it’s work, sure, but it’s work I look forward to every month (or every three weeks, really – double-shipping, remember?)

So, if I like it that much, why am I leaving the book? Ultimately, there are a few reasons, but mostly, it’s workload. I am currently on seven titles (that we know of), and that is a tremendous amount of material to generate. I’m up to it, but here’s how I think about it – if I’m carrying everything I can, then I can’t really pick anything else up, you know? You guys know what my Tbolts is like – and so do I – but it’s also a song I’ve sung, at this point. To stick with the musical metaphor, I think of Thunderbolts as a track on my first record (my first MAJOR LABEL record, anyway…) but it might be time to think about what my second album is going to sound like.

Change is good, development as a writer is good, and part of that is setting new challenges for myself ALL THE TIME. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts on that second album…

1. SWAMP THING – still love it, still love that people love it.

2. SUPERMAN / WONDER WOMAN – Issue 6 is a HUGE issue. It’s out Wednesday, March 12, and it’s stunningly drawn by Tony Daniel and the crew.  I know everything in comics is “Big, Amazing, Don’t Miss!!!” but this really IS. It pulls together everything from the first five issues and really, really goes out with a bang. If you haven’t picked up any issues of this series, get this one. I feel like that once word gets out about what we actually DID in this issue, Twitter will crack, Tumblrs will tumble, Faces will Book… you know.

3. SHE-HULK – wow, you guys dig this book. So do we. THANK YOU.

4. INHUMAN – Coming soon. Bunch of info and incredible colored Joe Mad art just released yesterday – see it here! Very pleased with how this series is coming together. The scope is huge, and it feels like a different kind of layered “powered people” storytelling than we usually see. Err… if I do say so myself.

5. RED LANTERNS – Mustache Guy! We’re building to a huge crescendo in this story of our space biker gang ruffians. The response to the Green/Red flipbook issue was tremendous, and I want to thank everyone who’s been supporting the book. If you miss my Tbolts when it’s gone, you really might enjoy my Red Lanterns, starting with Issue 21. Different, of course, but in the same family.

6. LETTER 44 – oh yeah. Big things coming. First trade’s out in July, there’s plenty of big news about this series that has been hinted at before… buy a ticket on the rocket. It’s going all the way.

7. KICKSTARTER – I’m doing one, pretty soon. What it’s about… you’ll have to see, but it’s related in part to a project I’ve talked about before on this blog. Nervous about it, and it’s a lot of work, but still very exciting. I hope you guys support it when it launches – I know KS is a little bit of a roll of the dice, but I won’t let you down.

8. THE GREY BOOK – Biggest thing I’ve ever done. You’ll see.

9. CASH – Soon.

10. SHIPS – Soon.

So, yeah. Plenty going on. And don’t worry about sophomore slump. None of this.

I’m currently putting some finishing touches on the lettering pass for She-Hulk #1, out in just about a month from Marvel Comics.  Some amazing pages have been released online already, so I do not feel bad re-releasing them here. Here you go  – pages 2-6 from She-Hulk #1, with pencils/inks from Javier Pulido and colors from Muntsa Vicente.

she-hulk1-1-625x948 she-hulk1-2-625x948 she-hulk1-3-625x948 she-hulk1-4-625x948 she-hulk1-5-625x948I love Javier’s storytelling. It’s just fantastic. Everything you need to know is right there. It’s not the photorealistic superhero art you sometimes see (hell, you often see), and I think that’s its strength.  The art here perfectly fits the story I’m telling, and Javier is just a killer asset. I’m so happy to be working with him (and Muntsa, who really gives this stuff the pop sensibility it needs.) I’ve been saying all along that She-Hulk is a fun book, and now hopefully you’ll start to get the idea.

Now, to post up something that hasn’t been released online yet – an unused script page from this issue. I’m not going to say where it would have appeared (other than to say that it clearly wasn’t within pages 2-6). This doesn’t really spoil anything – it’s just a fun little look at the tone of the story, and a quick snapshot of the way I script. Hope you enjoy!

SH1 Unused PageReally looking forward to reactions next month – Issue 1 hits February 12! Feel free to let me know what you think on Twitter, as always!

I’m getting one question more than any other these days – whether it’s phrased as a comment (e.g. “I don’t know how you…”) or a straight up query (“How do you…”), people want to know how I’m managing my workload. I’m way overdue for a post here in any case, and it seems like this will be a good opportunity to talk about the projects I have happening right now as well as reflect a bit on the insane year that has been 2013. So, this, then, is…

…HOW I DO IT.

I am currently writing seven monthly titles – Superman / Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing and Red Lanterns for DC; Thunderbolts, She-Hulk and Inhuman for Marvel; and a creator-owned title called Letter 44 from Oni Press (read the entire first issue for free here!) That essentially means I’m generating 140 pages of script per month, every month.  My pagecount for 2013 is 1116. If I stay on this path, my pagecount for 2014 will be something like 1680. Every script that gets turned in also (usually) requires at least one rewrite to incorporate editorial notes (those are thankfully pretty quick, most of the time), art review and then a lettering pass, all of which have their own deadlines. There’s also a PR component, represented by interviews, Twitter, Facebook, blogging, convention appearances and store signings.

In addition, I’m running a law practice – it’s small, but that doesn’t really matter as far as workload. (Small aside, for years, while I was breaking in, I never mentioned the day job. I was concerned about negative associations with that profession, and intimations that it was somehow easier for me than it might be for others who didn’t have massive student loans and 80-hour work weeks to contend with… seems silly in retrospect.)

There are other things I do that take up time as well, but I don’t know that you actually need my minute-to-minute itinerary.  Suffice it to say that my ass is BOOKED UP.

It is extremely important to me that the work doesn’t suffer in quality because of obligations towards quantity. That’s obviously very important on the creative side, but also professionally crucial on the law side. I’ve always had to handle significant workloads, ever since graduating from law school, but these days it’s on an entirely different level. Here are a few strategies I use to hold things together and make sure the books remain entertaining and deadlines get hit:

1. Decide. This is ultimately the most important point. I considered this path carefully, and I have decided that I can handle it, and I will do what is required to make the preceding clause true. We all have much more time and focus than we think we do. We’re capable of amazing things. We just have to decide to do them.

2. Organize. I make lists constantly. I have a to-do list that appears in several different places (phone, email, whiteboard, desktop), which I update as new obligations hit my desk. (The idea being that I’m constantly being confronted with reminders of the next set of tasks on my plate). I have a stack of different-colored moleskines, each assigned to a different title, so I can quickly grab whichever book I need and all of the notes remain in one place moving forward. Everyone will have their own system, but I think that it is crucial to have a system. I have a good memory, but if I can offload mental processing power that I would otherwise use trying to remember what I have to do next, or what I’ve already done, so much the better.

3. Recognize. The world is constantly vying for your attention. That’s the entire purpose of the adspace that invades our consciousness during almost every waking moment. Try to eliminate distractions, to the extent possible – shut off your internet and phone when you’re working, write longhand first drafts, all of that. Beyond involuntary timesucks, there are the ones we choose – video games/TV/Netflix, screwing around online, getting hammered or high, just generally bumming around. “Wait,” you’re thinking, “that shit is what some would call fun.” Yup. I haven’t cut out the good times, but see (1) – I try to restrict that stuff to what I need, instead of what I want. This is where I might lose people, but it’s one of the most honest answers to the “how I do it” question. I do it by deciding that I want to do the truly important stuff well instead of spending time on stuff that, ultimately, doesn’t matter.

4. Say No. I turn down things all the time. You might not think so, based on the workload, but I do. I just said no to a gigantic project, because I didn’t think I could do that without compromising some of the other work I’m doing. I turn down(some) interview requests, store appearances, convention appearances, social stuff, even clients – this goes back to (3) – I know what I want to achieve, and if I can’t draw a relatively straight line between [x] (a potential obligation) and [y] (a goal), then I just say no. Hmm. It’s possible that I’m coming across as a bit psychotic, but it’s not really that bad – I love doing the work, otherwise I wouldn’t be so focused on trying to do it well.

5. Run. I’ve learned that, despite points 2-4 above apparently being concerned solely with locking my life down as tightly as possible and micro-managing the hell out of every second of every day, that’s not great for mental health or creativity. So, I put myself in situations where my brain can just do its thing, away from the lists and schedules and rigor. I run every other day, usually for about an hour. I often set myself a question at the beginning of a run (what will Red Lanterns 30 be about? How should the final battle between Swampy and Seeder play out?) and then by the end of it, I often have my answer. It’s not a conscious thing – it’s about letting my mind just work, and the exercise tends to let that happen. I don’t know what the equivalent would be for others, but this is a crucial part for me – without it, I’d have cracked in half a long time ago. Plus, it’s, you know, healthy.

6. Pre-Write. I don’t often sit down to write without having a pretty solid idea of what’s going to happen on each page of a script. I do this by outlining issues in several phases ahead of time – usually in those multicolored moleskines I mentioned above. My first pass is just a general splorch of every idea or plot point that I think might fit in the issue. That isn’t always done all at once – it can happen over several days, as I have new ideas. That gets refined into a second pass that starts to look like an actual story outline – it’s a list of the plot points that need to be in the issue. Then that turns into a page breakdown, where I say that pages 1-3 will cover scene X, with points A-D covered, and sample dialogue. From there, I script. So, I’m almost never sitting and staring at a blank page. If nothing else, I can type in the page breakdowns to the script, so I have, say, 50% of the finished product that I can shape if I have to. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you don’t have all of your good ideas at once. Your subconscious needs time to work on a story, to build on existing ideas, and getting your first version of those ideas down (somewhere, anywhere) frees up your mind to find the next iteration of those thoughts.

7. Sit Down and Don’t Stand Up. When it’s time to script, sit down and don’t stand up until it’s done. I usually write a full script in a day, most often in 3-5 hours. I often go somewhere that isn’t my usual environment, like one of several local coffee shops or bars (bars, I find, are better for pre-writing, while coffee shops are better for scripting, but each to their own), but your mileage may vary.  The point is that I try to put myself in a situation where I can just do that – turn off phone, turn off internet, etc. (see (3).) This one might not work for everyone – some people write in chunks and it works just fine – but this post isn’t about how they do it, it’s about how I do it.

8. Decide. Seemed important enough to put it on the list twice.

So there you have it. More or less, how I do it.  I expect that this will evolve – I don’t know that I’ll always be writing seven monthly titles – I’m doing it now because I don’t want to drop off books that I don’t feel like I’ve “finished,” or where I might be letting people down if I did. However, several of the books I’m writing do have planned endpoints (for me, not necessarily for the books), and so I think I’ll move along to new projects here and there in time. Seven is a lot. I’m not pretending it’s not.

Now that you’ve slogged through all of that, here are a few more general thoughts on the books I’m working on, in no particular order:

1. Superman / Wonder Woman – This project made me nervous, initially, but that’s one of the reasons I knew I should do it. I also really wanted to write Superman and Wonder Woman, and the idea of getting to explore emotional beats with them that might not otherwise be available was a huge attraction as well. The reception has been fantastic, better than I could have hoped – I’ve heard from a lot of people who thought they’d hate it, but have been won over, and that’s one of the best things a writer can hear.  Tony Daniel is doing some of the best work of his career (in my opinion), and I am incredibly excited with the way the first arc (which runs through #6) wraps up. I’d never really done gigantic-scale superhero action before this series, but I think it will read as epic and very emotionally satisfying. I hope!

2. Inhuman – I’m applying many of the lessons I learned on S/WW to this series. Epic scope with many strong character beats. The great thing about this series is that it’s not going to feel like anything else Marvel’s doing, and it’s going to be able to utilize surprise in a cool way because so much of it is new. Plus, of course, Joe Mad – I’m so lucky to be working with the artists I’m working with these days. Speaking of that…

3. She-Hulk – …Javier Pulido.  The man is brilliant. If you missed it, Axel Alonso tweeted a few pages from She-Hulk #2 that will explain what I’m talking about. In the script, that’s just a page of two folks chatting, but Mr. Pulido brings it to life like nobody’s business.  And if he can do that with a conversation page, wait until you see the action stuff. She-Hulk is an incredibly fun, funny series, and I’m really looking forward to it showing up on the shelf in six weeks or so.

4. Letter 44 – this is my first creator-owned project since Strange Attractors, and I could not have asked for a better reception. The first issue sold out, the numbers are very healthy on subsequent issues, and fingers crossed, we’ll get to tell the whole story as planned.  If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, and you enjoy any of my other books or cool real-world sci-fi in general, I urge you to click on the link to the first issue above. It’s about a Presidential conspiracy to cover up a manned mission to the asteroid belt to meet aliens who have set up residence there, and it should appeal to fans of anything and everything.

5. Red LanternsGuy Gardner now has a ‘stache! DC has been incredibly cool about letting me turn this book into a revenge saga based around sort of a space biker gang.  People seem to dig it, and we’re really just getting rolling.  The pieces will start to fit together soon, and you’ll be able to see where I’ve been heading since my first issue (#21). There’s a definite plan in mind here, and it’s going to be big.

6. Thunderbolts – man, this book is fun. I love the lineup, and I love being able to write stories in essentially any tone. You want grim, write about Punisher. You want tragic, write about Red Hulk or Venom. You want idiotic, write about Deadpool. I can do ANYTHING!!! There’s an upcoming arc written with sort of an Indiana Jones-esque feel to it, to which I say “Yay comics!”

7. Swamp Thing – my first book in the Big 2, and where I think I’m doing some of the most creative work of my career so far. Swamp Thing has always been a book about risk-taking, and I’d like to thank everyone who’s followed me on the Avatar’s journey after Scott Snyder stepped away with Issue 18. Swamp Thing has made a bunch of 2013 best of lists, which is hugely due to the incredible work of artists Jesus Saiz, Kano and Javier Pina and the colors from Matt Wilson. Just stunning work. There are amazing things on the way in Swamp Thing in 2014 – we’re just going to grow from here.

Beyond those projects, I also have some new creator-owned stuff I’m working on, including sort of a jam project, as well as an epic I’ve been working on for years, and more. It’s truly astonishing to me to think about where I was just a year ago (no Big 2 work announced, although I had the Swamp Thing job by then) and where I am now. I’m incredibly thankful to everyone who’s taken the time to read, review or talk about my work in 2013, and I’m looking forward to great things in 2014. Happy New Year!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,285 other followers