Lizzie Boyle is one of the two driving forces behind Disconnected Press and she’s recently written a rather excellent piece providing advice to comic writers. Highly recommended!
I’ve just stumbled on this very funny review of IDW’s Dredd issue 2 on Everything Comes Back to 2000AD.
It seems I’m not the only one with a poor view of this series.
A word of warning though, it’s very NOT for the kids, the review that is, and it is full of spoilers.
Every now and then we get a pitch that just will not work as a one shot. Most of the time we tell the team ‘hard luck, deal with it. We don’t do serials.’ This isn’t one of those times.
Premiering in Zarjaz this summer, Tales of Mega-City One- Baby Jays is a short serial by writers Alistair McLean and Richard Swabey and artist David Broughton. Part 1 is in the files ready for Zarjaz 18, with the remainder to run in Zarjaz 19. We trust you will see why we thought this one was worth it.
Recall the last time you went out to dinner – not a fancy jacket and tie thing, but a reasonable restaurant or a decent pub. You’ve finished your main course, perhaps a 21-day hung steak, steamed seasonable veg and hand-cut chips. Then the dessert menu comes out, and there it on the top of the list a cheesecake, maybe vanilla with raspberry coulli.
Sounds good right?
But let’s look at this critically.
When you order that cheesecake, you only know how much it’s going to cost, it sounds good, but you don’t know how big a slice you’re getting, you don’t know if you’re going to enjoy it or whether you’ve had a decent plate of food and eating a sugar-heavy dessert is only leave with a need undo your belt a notch before you get in the car. All you have to go on is that you’ve had a vanilla cheesecake before so you think you have an idea what this one will be like.
Plus I know my local supermarket sells cheesecakes for £2 and the restaurant is maybe buying in a better class of cheesecake for £5, cuts it into eight slices, adds some sauce, covers it in icing sugar and adds one of those wee orange fruits that no-one can identify. £5 please.
So the cheesecake might be great, might not. Is expensive compared to the rest of the meal and other cheesecake options and may leave feeling rather disappointed. Sound like anything else?
Which brings me back to comics: you don’t know what you’re really going to get, and you’re paying more than for similar entertainment.
I know comics aren’t cheap to make and I don’t think we’re being taken for a ride, but compared to a blu-ray or an album I think it is an expensive medium.
And what’s the right approach with comic buying? Buy the first issue of a run and see what you think? Wait until CBR issues it top 100 of the year and buy those in trade?
Another quandary I have is that my local comic shop is a new business and I really enjoy popping in and supporting them. But having a pull list is expensive – got a £21 surprise yesterday having only been in there two weeks ago!
I could wait for the trades I suppose, but the comic shop sell those at RRP so a six-issue story is typically £12. But of course then the ‘great South American river’ comes to mind and I know they’re only asking for £8! But then I’m feeding that massive gorilla and not the guys selling comics in my local high street.
But cost is only one of the things we’re talking about here. If that cheesecake was £8 but amazing, you wouldn’t care!
So as I said I was stood in my local comic shop yesterday faced with a wall of sealed, carded, bagged comics and what do you have to go on? The cover and maybe a creative team you know, but we all know of a book that’s promised lots and delivered very little. And even if we get to look at the book we really can only go on the artwork, and that seems to be enough for some, but I got tired of seeing double-page, should-have-been-a-poster spreads in Marvel years ago. I want to read a story that’s told through words and art that make me want to sit up and pay attention.
Why do I come away so disappointed so often then?
I’m currently massively disappointed with IDW’s Judge Dredd series. It seems to have no clue what it’s trying to do. I don’t like the two stories per issue thing they’re trying and the stories just seem .. well, I don’t know what to call them. I’ve read better stories in Zarjaz though! On the other hand IDW’s Judge Dredd Year One in a single issue has overtaken the ‘main’ title. It’s telling a story that grabs you from the second page, the character of Dredd is told through his reaction to the story and I can’t wait for the second issue. I think it’s pretty much guaranteed I’ll be getting the main title removed from my pull list.
But I don’t want to just pick on IDW. I’m also not at all convinced by Bendis’ two X Men titles. The premise of bringing the classic X Men forward in time to act as fresh eyes was what drew me to the title, but I need to see more from this title.
I guess what I’m asking for is for the industry to become story driven, not event driven, not license driven and not ‘big idea’ driven. It’s not good enough to just have the X Men fight the Avengers, it’s not enough to go licence the latest ‘brand’ an slap big covers on the issues and it’s not enough to have a great idea and have no story to back it up. And it’s the writers that need to take some of the blame here but I guess they’re under pressure to produce more issues and give the artists big pages to draw. I’d just like to see the industry to maybe recognize that less is more, that quality needs to improve and let’s allow these talents to produce what they’re capable of not what they capable of producing quickly.
Anyway I have some cheesecake to eat!
Both MacTruck and I go to the gym, quite often to be fair but not so you could tell. Mainly as an escape from our work, what with the clicking and typing and the constant incessant bleating of other people. God I hate people sometimes, it’s the breathing… the raspy mouth breathing… just horrific. So the regular lunch time jaunt to the industrial shed down the road, in which to lift various heavy objects, in variety of manners and then putting them down again, is an exhausting and yet strangely cathartic past time.
Importantly though it is also the time I have all my best ideas, which is actually a bit frustrating because, as this is a proper gym, it’s incredibly frowned upon to be sitting and jotting them all down. You should be beefing and beefing with great gusto, only then do you gain approved nods from the various bulging mutants.
I’m not clear if it’s just being distracted, for example trying to not choke yourself with an overloaded bar, that frees up the mind to chew over ideas you’re too busy to properly consider earlier but you finish your last rep of jumping split squat blitzers and blam! an idea for a story jumps out on you. It proceeds to get far to close for comfort. You try and keep focusing on your next exercise but suddenly it’s like that man on the bus, the one who keeps jostling you and stroking your leg, makes it impossible to focus on anything else.
Which is why I can be found muttering to myself round the gym trying to flesh it out before it vanishes, which might explain the ever expanding circle around me as the session goes on. It also explains why I take so long in the shower, I’m in there jotting ideas down, not that anyone ever buys that excuse. In that environment it’s often less embarrassing to go down the alternate route as a rationale, at least that’s a reason they understand.
Point being always carry a pen and some paper, or a tablet, or something to jot notes down on, as typically your best ideas spring into life when you aren’t really thinking, and don’t worry about dropping everything to write it down there and then, people can wait, this is important! You wouldn’t want to lose that perfect idea for a new fan fiction of Dr House and Sherlock crossing lighting fast barbs while in the bath together. Wilson and Watson staring on disapprovingly yet helpless to stop them.
For me there is nothing like the gym for letting you zone out and let the mind roam unimpeded for a while. Then back to work where all your ideas become intellectual property of the company…
Plus if you have a PS3 do yourself a favour and pick up Ni No Kuni, it’s a beautiful game, lovely sentiment, clever battle mechanics, sincere characters and Studio Ghibli do the in game animation for gods sake! What more could you possibly want.
I thought I should bring the site up to date with where we are.
David has also started work on second story Baby Jays: Destiny’s Plaza. We’ve seen the pencils of one of the pages already and I think David has surpassed his work on the previous strip, which I didn’t think possible!
Again, this is for Jarjaz. Destiny’s Plaza is a much bigger story than Jimmee’s. Jimmee’s is six pages, but Destiny’s Plaza is eighteen. Although this gave us much more scope it also means that we’ll occupy a fair bit of one issue of Jarjaz, so when they’ll have a gap for a story that size I don’t know. It many mean hoping for issue 19 might be wishful thinking.
As you not doubt noticed both stories come under the Baby Jays banner. This is something Richard and I came up with when thinking about Mega City One and what it would be like to live there. We decided that life as a citizen is not very pleasant, so we started to wonder if life would be better as a run-of-the-mill Judge.
Young Judges seemed to have the same life expectancy as the red-shirted, unnamed character in Star Trek TOS who accompanies Kirk anywhere, i.e. no longer than the next scene!
So that set us down the path of investigating life as a new Judge, a “Baby J”.
Jimmee’s introduces us to two youngsters: Ricardo and Brookes. Both have been on the streets just a matter of weeks.
In Destiny’s Plaza two others join the story: Oldby and Kline.
We have ideas for a third Baby Jays story – assuming any of the four survive that far!
In the meantime we each plan to work on a couple of one-off stories.
Richard has a some great ideas that he’s hoping to target at Future Quake, but I can’t say too much: don’t want to give the endings away!
I’m working on a Tales of Mega City One that explores the “what’s it like to live there” theme from another perspective. I also have the start of an idea percolating away that I have high hopes, though currently it’s a bit high-concept and needs a bit of grounding. I’m hoping that Jarjaz will like both of these when I have something to show them.
Well, that’s where we are today. If Jarjaz or David post any previews, then we’ll make sure we highlight them here.
2000AD Prog 1823 arrived today, and in it were a number of writers who need congratulating.
Montynero has provided a Past Imperfect story. This is her/his debut in the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, and gets to see it drawn by none other than Nikolai Dante co-creator Simon Fraser!
T.C. Eglinton has seen print in 2000AD before – if memory serves it was a couple of Future Shocks and a 3hriller – but today he gets his first Judge Dredd story! And Karl Richardson, also a fairly new face, does a great job of bringing T.C.’s story to life.
Living the dream! Now back to your cubicles before you get sent to Mek Quake!
Also congrats are due to Ian Edginton and Steve Yeowell. The Red Seas comes to a conclusion after 10 years and fourteen series. A very impressive run – both in terms of content and duration.