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Part One: The Idea
Andrew Goletz

Writers block. Form letter rejection letters. Polite but blunt critiques at comic conventions. These are just a few situations you’ll run into time and time again as you set out to write in comics. Now, I have never had a comic book story published before, but not for lack of trying. The purpose of this ongoing saga here will be to give you a sort of play by play on the road I take (which may or may not be the right one) on getting two different types of comics stories published.

If you’re a writer, there are several options. You can self publish your own comic. You can submit a creator-owned story idea to an independent or small press company. You can try and submit an original creation to one of the larger companies. You can choose to write a story featuring ‘Spider-Man’ and submit it to Marvel. Depending on your interests and the stories you want to tell, there are a variety of choices and all that you really need to do is decide on a concept and start writing. For the purposes of this experiment, I’ve chosen two methods.

I wanted to write a story for a ‘big company’ using an already existing character, but not someone who currently had a title or that was even being featured in published title. I had some memories of favorites from my youth and after doing some research, I narrowed down the list of candidates to less than a handful.

From there I spend some time jotting down ideas and trying to figure out which character I could bring the most to, from a creative point of view. When all was said and done, it was a pretty clear cut case for me. I also wanted to have something published that no one else could lay claim to. I would never want anyone else to  own my creations, so going the independent route seemed the most logical. Again, all that was needed was for me to settle on an idea. When I did this, it was time to move on.

The first idea is to submit a story idea to Marvel Comics based on existing characters that aren’t being used. Having no industry credentials, it would be next to impossible to submit a Spider-Man or X-Men story and think that it would get published. And for the love of God, if you’re stubborn and attempt to write a franchised character like Spider-Man or Superman, don’t include drastic changes to the character in your story. The ‘Bruce Wayne Gets Married’ mini-series may seem like a good idea to you, but there is no way it’ll see the light of day. I chose Marvel Comics because they had a somewhat obscure character that hasn’t been heard from in years that I really wanted to write. I believe that the character in question has a lot of potential and I really want to try and see if I could create an interesting story with the materials at hand.

The second idea is a creator owned property. It’s a relationship story that follows the ups and downs of a set of couples and their friends through heartbreaking circumstances.  I have long out-grown the standard jocks in spandex stories and to me, the idea of realistic relationships is as compelling a story as there could be. Look at the masterful work Terry Moore has done with Strangers in Paradise for an example.

Both stories are going to be 3 issue mini-series. It’s a lot easier for someone to judge your work and make a decision when there is a beginning, middle and end than to try and pitch an open-ended epic of the grandest proportions. And mini-series carry less risk for publishers and retailers alike.

The Marvel mini-series would feature the return of the obscure character, tell their story and end the story with a definite (if not open-ended) finale. The Independent story would also tell a complete story in 3 issues, but it would only be the initial introduction and first complete arc for the characters. Ideally, their stories would continue in future mini-series, but the first 3 issue arc would also double as a stand alone should no one bother to read the damn thing.

So I’ve managed to accomplish the first big step in my future comic book writing career: I’ve come up with an idea, well, two of them. I have my spiral notebook and sat by the desk writing whatever ideas came into my head; crossing out some, expanding on others until I had a more solid basis for the stories in question.

The intent of this column is for you to hear about the exact steps I take for these two completely different types of stories. This may or may not have a happy ending. At the very least, it may offer a clear idea of what ‘not’ to do when pitching your ideas. We’ll see where the next several weeks and months take us, and I hope it will be an interesting, entertaining and perhaps informative journey.

I have to go write. See you next time!

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