writing


Despite my best efforts – well, not my best efforts – those tend to go into the scripts – I haven’t updated here since April. Still, it was the end of April, so it could be worse.  And yet, it could be better, because this is just going to be one of those “here’s all the places I’ll be at this convention this weekend” posts, which will only be interesting to those of you who are going.

BUT IT IS A POST. IT IS CONTENT. I AM MANAGING MY BRAND.

Sort of.

Anyway, here we are, San Diego Comicon 2014. I expect this to be a pretty insane show all around – SDCC is always like being dropped into a giant blender filled with sharks that are also gummi sharks, so you want to eat them as much as they want to eat you. (Note – if that metaphor doesn’t completely work for you, it might be because you’ve never been to SDCC.)

It’ll be busy, especially with some high profile things like Death of Wolverine just around the corner, the release of the Letter 44 Volume 1 trade, and other exciting tidbits.  Here’s where you can find me over the course of the weekend:

Thursday, July 24

5:00-6:30 PM – Signing at the Oni Press booth. I’ll be signing Letter 44 Vol. 1, as well as the con exclusive variant cover of Issue 8 (which is gorgeous, see below):

 

LETTER44 #8 GABO VARIANT - 4x6 COMP WEBAs mentioned, the collection of the first arc will also be available, a week before it’s out on store shelves, as well as a con-exclusive Letter 44 “Mission Patch” that I believe comes free with purchase to everyone who gets a trade.

Letter-44-patchSo, get all of those.

Friday, July 24

11:15 – 12:15 – DC Champions of Justice panel, room 6DCE – just what it sounds like. Come see me dish on Red Lanterns, Swamp Thing, the September Future’s End event, and who knows what else! Lots of great DC folks on this panel – should be fun.

12:30 – 2 – Another signing at the Oni booth (see above).

3:00-4:00 – Signing at the Marvel booth.

Saturday, July 25

10:00 – 11:00 – the famous Writers Unite panel, hosted as always by the incredible Jim Zub, room 25ABC. This time, it’ll be Jim, me and Fred Van Lente (writer extraordinaire) sharing our tips and tricks about breaking into the business, writing in general, and other extremely useful bits and bobs. This is, I believe, something like the tenth time I’ve done this panel – and I do it because (a) it’s fun and (b) I think it’s some pretty good outreach. Breaking in is hard, and we need talented folks in the business. Come check it out!

11:15 – 12:30  – DC Superman panel, room 6DCE. Again, just what it sounds like. Superman! We’ll talk Doomed, Future’s End and beyond… I love Big Blue and so do you. You know you do.

2 – 3:30 PM – Signing at the Oni booth.

3:30 – 4:30 PM – the Nerdist Writers Panel over at Petco Park on the 6th Floor. I’ll be on the panel with some serious luminaries: Ben Edlund, Jill Thompson, Chris Roberson and Heath Corson. I’ll certainly be the least interesting person there – I’m probably looking forward to it more than you are.

Sunday, July 26

12:30 – 1:30 – Marvel Next Big Thing, room 6DCE. This will be all about the next big thing to come from Marvel. I do believe something fun will be announced here with respect to a certain soon-to-be-deceased Canadian X-man, so swing by.

2 – 3 – Signing at the DC Booth.

3 – 4 – DC Secret Origins panel, room 6DCE.

That’s the scheduled stuff. In between I’ll be all over the place, hopefully taking a few minutes here or there to relax a little – but honestly, this ain’t that kind of show. If you see me, come up and say hi!

 

 

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!

We’re coming up on New York Comicon, the very first New York Comicon since New York Comicon happened last year.  Much has changed for me since the last New York Comicon last year. (I’m just going to keep typing New York Comicon as many times as I can.)

At NYCC (couldn’t do it) last year, I was a guy a few of you had heard of, but most of you hadn’t.  I had a well-received Image series called 27 in 2010-2011, and prior to that I had a book come out through SLG called Strongman.  While I had deals for two other creator-owned projects (Strange Attractors and Letter 44), neither had arrived yet.  I knew a lot of creators (which remains one of the best things about being a comic book guy, and I suspect always will be), but I didn’t have much of a foothold in the mainstream comics world.  That was fine.  I figured Strange Attractors and Letter 44 would come out, and maybe the next thing after that, and maybe by then my profile would be high enough that I would start having conversations about Big 2 work.  No rush.

And then I was introduced to a DC editor who asked me to pitch on Swamp Thing.  I ended up getting that job – it all locked into place around the beginning of December last year.  Still, it feels to me like NYCC 2012 was where what I’ve been calling the “crazy year” started.  As of the announcement yesterday that I’ll be working on a relaunch of She-Hulk for Marvel with the incredibly talented Javier Pulido, I have six ongoing titles, five with the Big 2 and one creator-owned. SIX.  I say that not in a “holy shit, look how awesome I am” sort of way but more of a “holy shit what is happening???” way.  They are, listed in the order I began to work on them:

Letter 44 (Oni)

Swamp Thing (DC)

Red Lanterns (DC)

Thunderbolts (Marvel)

Superman / Wonder Woman (DC)

She-Hulk (Marvel)

That is a wide spread of material. Realistic sci-fi/political thriller; supernatural weirdness with strong horror overtones; aggressive space opera; street-level antihero super gang; superhero epic with a romantically involved lead couple; and a superhero legal drama.

None of those are like any of the others, and that is, frankly, one of the only reasons I am able to handle this workload. My Red Lanterns mindset doesn’t take up the same headspace as my Superman / Wonder Woman mindset. So, ideas don’t really bleed across books, and I can snap myself into whichever one I need to focus on at the time.  I’ve also become a pretty lean, clean, writing machine. Not a lot of fat in my schedule right now.  Part of that is, of course, my increasingly-mentioned day job, which I discuss in more detail here.  In the abstract, it might sound a little intense and focused and miserable, but in truth it is only the first two things.  Who wouldn’t want to spend as much time as possible doing something they love?

It all seemed to happen very organically.  I could draw you a road map on the way one gig led to the next, which you might find a little bit surprising.  I can tell you that there’s a LOT that goes on behind the scenes that never gets out there, which is as it should be.  Still, the tricks to doing well in mainstream comics seem to be the same as doing well in life in general – be cool, do your best, do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it, and help people out when you can.

Another tip – work with great people. The artists, editors, colorists, letterers I get to work with… holy goddamn.  They are magicians, and yet they are mostly humble about their incredible powers. It’s awe-inspiring.

Now I find myself in a strange position.  I have the storytelling platform I have always wanted.  It’s not necessarily about going higher for me right now. It’s about going deeper.  Seeing if I can get better, seeing if I can find new angles.  Navigating the weird waters of having a wide audience – especially one that feels very free to comment on my work to me directly (follow me on Twitter!) Figuring out how much of myself to put out in the world (or in the stories), and how much to hold back (you don’t get to have everything!!)  Thinking about things like the creative impulse, and where it comes from, and how in the world to sustain high-level work over a career.  Thinking about the next round of stories I want to tell.

Strange Attractors came out in May, Letter 44 hits next month (and people seem pretty excited about it, which is awesome), and so I’ve been thinking a lot about the next stories of my own I’d like to tell.  Here’s what I’m mulling over right now:

–A battle of wits

–A common cause

–A story in the water, that will be very hard to draw

–The circus

–A terrifying Thanksgiving

Who knows if any of that will come together, but it’s nice to think that it could.

So that’s where things are these days. Amazing what a year can do. My next post will be all about New York Comicon (got one more New York Comicon in after all – no, two!), which is just a few weeks away.  See you there!

 

 

UPDATE: The Lady Weeds release hit on DC’s website, so I’ve added some information about her (and images) below. If you’re here for the first time today (or ever), then read on!

The Swamp Thing Annual hits in October.  Annuals are double-sized issues that come out once a year (more or less).  They’re a lot of fun, because they often allow the creators to dive into some story element a bit more deeply than they would otherwise be able to in a 20- or 22-page regular issue.

In the Swamp Thing Annual, I decided to delve  into the history of the Green (which refers to a sort of shared consciousness of all plant life on Earth) and the Parliament of Trees, specifically with respect to how it affects the life and ongoing tenure as the champion of the Green of Dr. Alec Holland, aka Swamp Thing, aka the main character of the book.

The Parliament of Trees is sort of an advisory body made up of previous champions (also known as Avatars), who hang around and give the current Avatar tips and tricks as needed based on their millennia-long collective memory.  One of the fun things about that concept is that it means you can tell stories from many different eras in history and still have them fit into the main thread.  I’m doing that in the Annual in spades.  At last count, eleven different Swamp Things make an appearance.

DC Comics is previewing the designs for a few of them on their “What’s New in the New 52″ feature on their blog – we had one yesterday, the Burgher Thing, and another should debut today – Lady Weeds.  I thought it might be fun to give a bit of additional context to these images here, in case anyone’s curious.  First, Burgher Thing:

Burgher Thing, as designed by Jesus Saiz.

Burgher Thing, as designed by Jesus Saiz.

How about that design, eh?  The work is from the spectacular Jesus Saiz, who drew Swamp Thing 21 as well as the Villains Month issue with Anton Arcane, out in September. Thankfully, he’ll be doing much more work on the series going forward.  This fellow isn’t actually named Burgher Thing – that’s just a name I put into the script that sort of stuck around the office.  His actual name is something else that you’ll discover in the Annual.  I gave him the Burgher Thing title in the script because the character’s identity as a human was a burgher – a member of the German middle class in the 1600s.  They were mostly prosperous merchants – not nobility, but doing pretty well for themselves nonetheless.  There’s an even more specific reference – this dude is based on a particular figure from history – but I’ll let that come out via the book in October. (And, honestly, calling him Burgher Thing made me laugh.  I do that sort of thing a lot in my scripts – I called the Franciscan monk character from 21 the Monk Thing, for obvious reasons, and the Annual is packed with many more placeholder script names that may or may not ever see the light of day.)

This gentleman is Swamp Thing’s patron – he takes him under his wing to offer some very specific guidance in light of some challenges Swampy’s facing (of which you will hear more in Issue 24.)  He’s a bit self-serving and fairly pompous, but he’s very cool, and I think you’ll like him a lot once you see how he works in the story.

The second character to get a design from Jesus Saiz is the batshit Lady Weeds.  Check her out:

Lady Weeds, by Jesus Saiz.

Lady Weeds, by Jesus Saiz.

Looook behinnnd the veilllll....

Looook behinnnd the veilllll….

Lady Weeds is a Swamp Thing from the 1800s.  She’s named not so much for the fact that she’s made of plants (although that’s certainly a factor), but because she’s wearing what were known as “widow’s weeds,” clothes worn by women in mourning in those days.  Here’s a historically accurate version:

3440563994_d8b019230c_o

Poor, sad Mrs. Kintner wore a variant on widow’s weeds after her boy Alex was chomped to death by a certain titular shark, too (such a bummer – the kid just wanted to splash around on a raft on a hot day – why won’t Sheriff Brody DO SOMETHING???):

I wanted you to know that.

I wanted you to know that.

 

Anyway, so that’s the deal with widow’s weeds. Why Lady Weeds wears them? Well, it seems like EVERYONE died back then. I don’t think a single person from those days is still alive today.  Lady Weeds undoubtedly has plenty of people to mourn… not least because she killed MANY, MANY of them.  Lady Weeds did horrible things.  Her character came out of an idea that not every Swamp Thing was necessarily heroic.  As long as they do their “job” of protecting plants, the Green doesn’t care how they use their powers, and Lady Weeds took that license to an extreme.  You’ll learn much more about who she is and what she did in the Annual, out this October.

Cool stuff coming up in Swamp Thing! It’s the era-spanning weird epic I’ve always dreamed of writing, and I’m so glad you guys are along for the ride.

Interesting month!

My first issues of Red Lanterns (#21) and Thunderbolts (#12) hit the shelves, along with another installment of Swamp Thing (#22).  My first opportunity to write Batman, a three-part Legends of the Dark Knight story called “Riddler in the Dark” went live over on Comixology, and I couldn’t help but notice tons of commentary on the Superman / Wonder Woman title I’m writing now (first issue hits in October), both negative and positive.

I’ve been tempted to jump into the fray a bit beyond my last blog post, but I decided that the best course of action would simply be to let the book speak for itself in October.  Anything else is just an expenditure of time and energy that I’d rather put other places.  Both of those are very limited for me right now, and they’re both a zero sum game.

So, on to more interesting topics (at least to me) – my schedule for San Diego Comicon 2013! For many reasons, I expect this to be the most action-packed SDCC I’ve ever had, and I’m really looking forward to it.  I’m sure it’ll be exhausting, but hey, it’s the big show.  If you aren’t bone-weary when it’s over, you probably didn’t do it right.

The biggest note is that my fall ongoing series from Oni Press, Letter 44, will have a black and white preview version of Issue 1 available at the show.  I’m not sure how available it will be, but hey, the hunt is part of the fun, right?  It’s your chance to check out what I honestly think is the best thing I’ve ever done many months in advance (the series doesn’t actually begin until October.)  Beyond that, my latest OGN Strange Attractors will be at the Archaia / Boom booth, so make sure you check that out, if you haven’t already.  I’ll happily sign anything you put in front of me.  Anything.

Here’s my schedule so far – I expect it to change as we get closer to the show, but I’ll update the post accordingly if that happens:

Thursday, July 18

(My birthday! I’ve heard tales of birthdays celebrated at San Diego, and if I’m incoherent and/or not present for the rest of the con, you’ll know that those tales are true.)

4-5 PM – signing at the Archaia booth

6-7 PM – signing at the DC booth

Friday, July 19

10-11 AM – signing at the DC booth.

11-12 AM – Writers Unite Panel, which is a comics writing tips and tricks panel I’ve done a bunch of times in the past at different cons around the country.  It’s always a blast, and we focus on not just tips for getting your stories done and making them good, but also ideas about how to break into the industry.  The panel always includes some of the best new(ish) writers in comics (myself excepted – I just happen to be pals with the moderator), and this year follows in that tradition and then some.  The panel will be run by Jim Zub (Skullkickers, Pathfinder), and the other writers besides me are Rob Venditti (Green Lantern, Surrogates) and Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT, tons of DC stuff).  If you’re a writer, or want to be one, this is WORTH YOUR TIME.

Also in this window, just towards the end, I’ll be popping into the Oni Press panel, which will include a serious first look at Letter 44. I’m told you might have a chance to score a special variant edition of the first issue, which won’t be out until October!

3-4 PM – signing at the Marvel booth. Bring your Thunderbolts issues and I’ll deface them for you!

4-5 PM – Signing at the Oni Press booth – if you don’t make it to the panel, come to the Oni booth to get your advance copy of Letter 44 #1, a San Diego Comicon exclusive!

5:30 – 6:30 PM – DC New 52 Panel (Room 6DE) – we’ll talk about all the exciting stuff coming up in the New 52.  Always illuminating and entertaining.

Saturday, July 20

11 AM – 12 PM – signing at the Archaia booth! You can get my latest OGN Strange Attractors here, inscribed with a special message from yours truly (which will probably just be my name, but hey, that’s something.)

12:30-1:30 PM – Green Lantern – Recharged! (Room 6DE) – panel discussion about the new creative teams and direction for the various GL titles.  I’ll be there, I’m sure Rob Venditti will be there, and I would guess we’ll see some of the other GL writers and artists as well.

1:45 – 2:45 – Infinity / Avengers Panel – the Thunderbolts title I’m writing ties into Marvel’s big summer Infinity event, and here’s where you’ll get to hear more about both the event and the individual titles related to it.

4-6 PM – signing at the Oni booth! Your last chance to get a signed con exclusive Letter 44 #1!

Sunday, July 21

I leave around mid-day on Sunday, so I probably won’t be doing any signings or panels, but I’ll be with you all in spirit, as you stagger around the show floor, trying to squeeze that last little magic out of the convention before bidding adieu until next year.

Next con for me past SDCC will be Baltimore in September, and then NYCC, and then that’s pretty much it for the year.  While I love the cons, I love writing too.

This has been an amazing week, and it’s only Wednesday.

A huge project I’ve been working on for a while was announced on Monday – I’ll be writing “Superman / Wonder Woman,” an ongoing series for DC Comics that will feature Clark Kent and Diana of Themyscira as the main characters.  Tony S. Daniel is drawing it (and boy howdy is he a talented SOB.) This sort of thing has been done in the past – Batman and Superman in particular have a long history of teaming up in a single title, from “World’s Finest” to the most recent iteration of “Batman – Superman,” written by my pal Greg Pak (the first issue of which hits shelves next week, in fact.)  What makes S/WW different is that the main characters are currently embroiled in a romantic relationship, and the title will explore that angle in a significant way.  It’s not going to just be about that, but they’re absolutely “together,” in every sense.  In fact, that’s what attracted me to the project in the first place – it’s a chance to tell stories about superhero adventures on a gigantic scale with a very personal angle attached to it.  (Although let’s get real here – ANY chance to write a title featuring two of the most popular and significant characters in all of popular culture is nothing to sneeze at.)

So, the announcement hit a few days ago, and the reaction has been fascinating to me.  There’s been a lot of support, but there’s also been a fair amount of discussion (particularly on Twitter) from people who wish that DC would focus on a romance between Clark Kent and Lois Lane.  I haven’t gotten too involved in that on Twitter one way or the other, mainly because I think Twitter is a terrible place for making reasoned arguments.  Blogs, however…

A few things about relationships that I’ve come to believe over the course of my life:

  • You need to date before you figure out how to have a mature, grown-up relationship that will stand the test of time. You learn from your previous mistakes, and then you bring that experience to the one that sticks.  You also come to understand what you want and need out of a partner – none of that will happen unless you have some relationships along the way that do not work for the long haul.
  • A relationship doesn’t have to last for the long haul for it to be valuable.  I still have extremely fond memories of some of the relationships I was in during high school, college, etc.  They didn’t last, but they were all a big part of my own emotional development. Not to trivialize, but a relationship can be like a really great song – some are bubblegum pop that give you a rush for a while until the initial thrill wears off, but others are deep, more complex experiences that you can return to again and again over the course of your life.
  • What the world needs now is love, sweet love. That’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.

In a nutshell, then – I think that exploring a relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman will help both characters grow significantly.  Whatever happens in their futures (and I’m sure it’ll be all kinds of crazy business – it’s comics, after all), this is where they are now, and I feel fortunate to be the one seeing how it all works out.

A couple other notes – first, I’m not dropping any titles that I’m currently working on.  My workload is intense right now, but I can handle it.  I’m way ahead on scripts for Letter 44, and I have a nice backlog for Swamp Thing, Red Lanterns and Thunderbolts.  If it gets to the point where stories are starting to suffer (and I’m sure the Internet will let me know if that happens), I’ll move away from some of that, but right now I think we’re good.

I’ll be attending San Diego Comicon in about a month. That show is always insane, but I expect this year to be crazier than most.  I’ll be doing a lot of signings, panels and so on, and I’ll post my full schedule as soon as it gets locked down.  In particular, I know Oni’s planning to do a bunch of cool stuff with respect to Letter 44, even… just maybe… some show exclusives.  That series is going to be amazing (uh, if I do say so myself – I’m just really proud of it), so this will be your chance to get on the wagon train (to the stars!) early.

Finally, let me thank those of you who have read, reviewed, tweeted about, FBed, Amazon starred, ordered for your shop or otherwise helped to get the word out about my latest OGN Strange Attractors.  It’s been just about a month since it came out, and the reaction has been UNBELIEVABLE.  People really seem to be finding it, and that’s all I can ask as a writer.  If you’re curious about my work on Superman / Wonder Woman, and you to want to see how I handle relationships and character stuff, you could do a lot worse than Strange Attractors.  Here’s a link to the Amazon page, and here’s one to the Comixology page if you’d rather read it digitally.

Speaking of Strange Attractors, I’m doing a really cool signing event at Bergen Street Comics here in Brooklyn next Wednesday, June 26. Bergen Street is one of the coolest comics shops I’ve ever been to – I’ve been shopping there for years, and I’m honored they asked me to do an event there.  The specifics are here, but in a nutshell, I’ll be having a conversation with the very talented Ales Kot about his new graphic novel Change, while he asks me questions about Strange Attractors.  Ales is a really sharp guy, so I expect the discussion will go to some cool places.  There will also be free drinks, and tons of awesome stuff for sale – it’s a comic shop, after all.  (Among other things, the first issue of my Red Lanterns run hits stands that day, but they’ll also have plenty of Strange Attractors, Swamp Thing and other books around from both Ales and myself.)  Here’s the sweet poster for the event:

Groovy, right?

Groovy, right?

See you soon!

Wow, this has been a long time coming.  I’ve been working on Strange Attractors – my story about New York City, complexity theory and the people affected when they interact – since at least January 2006, and my guess is that I had the seed of the idea back in 2005.  Of course, the most intense period of work was from roughly fall 2010 through fall 2012 while the story was being drawn, but still, that’s a long road for any book.

It hits comic store shelves today, and will be available at bookstores and via Amazon in a few weeks.  I’ve been doing a ton of press for it, so I’m a bit talked out about the premise, but in a nutshell, it’s a real-world thriller with some sci-fi touches, about two genius complexity mathematicians who are able to use extremely high-level applications of the Butterfly Effect to (more or less) make New York City do whatever they want.  One of the reviews that hit today called it “equal parts Ex Machine, Sandman and Planetary,” and that’s a comparison I can certainly live with.

If you’re the kind of reader who likes books by Jonathan Hickman, Warren Ellis or Neal Stephenson, or Christopher Nolan movies that don’t involve Batman, then I think this might be your kind of story.  If you’d like to know more about the story, check out this interview I did with Multiversity.com, a pretty fantastic review from MTVGeek and another lovely writeup from ComicBastards.

Here’s the Amazon link if you think you might like to order it, and your local comic shop can certainly help you out as well – just ask for it.

If my ongoing work for DC or Marvel brought you here, consider trying something on the creator-owned side.  I know the entire creative team is really proud of this book, and we’d love to see people reading it far and wide.

Stay complicated!

Just a quick one today.  My pal Riley Rossmo, who you probably know from a ton of great Image books including Green Wake, Bedlam, Debris and many more, sent me this amazing Swamp Thing pinup today.  He said I could share, and so I’m sharing:

Love the bones! Swamp Thing by Riley Rossmo

Love the bones! Swamp Thing by Riley Rossmo

Gorgeous, right?  I particularly like the horror that image captures.  The more I write Swamp Thing (and I’m deep into my third script right now, with issues plotted out to my ninth), the more I find the scary side resonating with me.  You can do anything with Swamp Thing, really, but there’s definitely a lot of room for the spooky stuff.

As a side note, I love pinups, so if any of you artist-types out there feel like doing a take on the Avatar of the Green (or any other characters I’ve written), go for it!  I’ll post up whatever I get.

Finally, my first issue of Swamp Thing, #19, is in Previews right now, so if you’re looking forward to it, please pre-order with your local retailer!  While most shops should carry it, the advance orders are a big part of how well a book does.  I’d love to write Swampy for a good long time, so tell your guy to put it (or keep it) on your pull list!

…a long, mournful wail that writhes through the gnarled cypress branches like a breath of Hades’ wind, skipping over the placid surface of the stagnant mire below…

That’s the first sentence of Swamp Thing #1, by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, all the way back in November of 1972.  The character has been almost continuously published since that date, and has germinated (HA!) two films, two TV shows (live action and animated, the latter of which had a spectacular theme song) as well as tons of toys, fan art, cosplay and so on.  The comic has been written by some of the most spectacular talents in the business, including Alan Moore, Rich Veitch, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Brian K. Vaughan, Joshua Dysart and Scott Snyder, to name a few (and I put those names in publication order – not trying to imply any preference).  Swamp Thing has always been a home for incredible, mind-stretching ideas.  At its most basic level, it’s a story about a man turned into a plant-based swamp monster, who is also a sort of champion of the environment, specifically its vegetation.  But in the hands of those very talented scribes, Swamp Thing became much more than just a spookshow.  Swamp Thing has covered virtually every aspect of the human experience (despite having a giant lettuce as its main character.)  It’s an incredible book, and well worth your time if you haven’t read it.

So, it is incredibly humbling to be the guy taking over the writing reins for the next little while on the title.  First of all, I’m not sure that I’ll ever come up with something that will beat that first sentence I included up above.  On the other hand, I don’t think the point of writing a book with a long history like Swamp Thing or any other DC character is to compete with or try to duplicate what’s gone before.  I have an opportunity to write Swamp Thing the way I want to write him, and that’s exactly what I plan to do, come what may.  I hope people enjoy my take on the character, but even if they don’t, I know I’ll have written scenes and lines I think are cool.  And really, isn’t that the point?  That’s why I’ve worked as hard as I have to get an opportunity like Swamp Thing.  I hope it’s the first of many, but even if this is the only title I ever work on for DC (or Marvel, for that matter), it’s still amazing that it’s happened at all.

The response to the announcement has been incredibly gratifying – the worst thing I’ve seen on message boards and Twitter is “…who?”, and that’s been intermixed with tons of support and folks wishing me well (from people I know and people I don’t).  We’ll see how it goes, but it definitely seems like people will be reading.  In particular, I’d like to single out Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette, the book’s current creative team, who have been super helpful both behind the scenes and in public.  It’s a big deal to be taking over a title from two such brilliant fellows, and their support means a ton.

Now, as far as what I’m going to be doing on the book… well, I don’t want to get too specific, because I think a lot of the joy in experiencing entertainment in any medium is coming to it as fresh as possible.  If you want a few hints, though, you can read the interview I did over at i09 to coincide with the announcement that I’m the new writer.  Another, more general indication, can be seen here:

Swamp Thing

That lovely tweet pretty much sums up what I want to do.  Anything and everything goes, except a boring Swampy.

The interior art on the book will be handled by Kano, and I’ll tell you, from what I’ve seen he’s going to absolutely KILL it (in the best way.)  Covers are by Andy Brase, and… likewise.  The first piece of art from my run to be released is the unfinished cover you can see below:

Swamp Thing 19 Temp

Beautiful, no?  Just wait until you see the final version.

My first issue will hit in April 2013, probably the first week.  If you want to stay up to date on Swamp Thing and other things I have going on, the best way is to follow me on Twitter, or keep checking this space.  See you in the funnybooks!

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