Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Interview: 'Method Man' writer David Atchison

David Atchison is a writer for the times. He bills himself not only as a Comic Book Writer, but also as a Journalist and Producer. On his most recent project, he was charged with fleshing out the story of Method Man's Peerless Poe character, a task that no doubt required him to wear all three of these hats, at once. I caught up with David and we discussed what it is like to be a writer in the world of celebrity owned comic book projects and social networking sites.

IT: What was the Method Man project like? Were you a fan of Method Man
and Wu-Tang before you landed the job?

DA: Growing up, I was a fan of the Wu-Tang Clan, specifically Method Man.
He's possibly one of my fave front men in Hip Hop. For me, he
encapsulated what the Wu-tang was about. Through the process of the
comic, Method Man and I communicated, BUT he also gave me the space to
create something from his initial idea. It was good creative
interaction. I liked the way it turned out for the most part. I would
have liked a couple more pages to tell the story in, but I think we
did a good job with the amount of pages we had. I don't know for sure
if I'll be involved in the other Wu-Tang Graphic Novels. If my
schedule and Hachette Publishing's Schedule line up, there's strong

IT: When you are writing on these celebrity projects, Method Man,
Rosario Dawson's Occult Crimes Task Force, what kind of input do you
have in the backstory, plot points, etc.? How complete is the premise
when they bring it to you?

DA: I've had as much input as any creator would have on a creator owned or
new book. Maybe even a little more. Rosario and Meth have both
respected by skills as a writer and let me "go with it."

When we started the Method Man Graphic Novel, Meth had a series of
ideas that he wanted to see in a story. It was my job to take those
ideas, combine them with ideas of my own and characters I created to
fashion a story. The OCT was totally different. It was actually a
story I created. Rosario came on board after the initial premise was
created and helped me to tweak it further. The books protagonist,
Sophia Ortiz, was based on Rosario in the same way Marvel's Ultimates?
Nick Fury is based on Sam Jackson. The difference with the OCT is
Rosario actually has a hand in the guidance of the character. It's
cool because she provides a different perspective as an actor and
helps to ramp up the emotion in scenes.

IT: The information that's out on the web bills you as not only a comic
book writer
, but a journalist, and producer, as well. When you wear
so many hats, do you find there is considerable overlap in terms
process and networking?

DA: Comic Illustrator Brian Stelfreeze once told me, "who you are is who
you are." I think about that with all of my jobs. Who I am as a man is
who I am as an artist and who I am as journalist and producer. The
same level of discipline and commitment I bring to one project must be
apparent throughout every facet of my life. If anything, I try to
bring a certain level of professionalism and passion to all the things
I work on. There is actually a good amount of overlap right now
because I produce multimedia projects with iterations in the comic
book medium
. As for networking, the statement is true "a good name is
better than riches." In all fields you have to guard your reputation
with your life. The easiest way to guard your reputation is to follow
the golden rule. Everyone can respect a consistent person.

IT: Where do you see yourself going? If you had to pick a single path
to follow, based on the different kinds of work you've done, what
would choose.

DA: I see my life going forward. It might sound corny, but I'd like to
advance myself in all the areas that I'm currently working in. I'd
like to write bigger comic projects, I'd like to work on larger
film/multimedia productions and I'd like to write for bigger
publications. Choosing one... I'd go with comics. Of the three, they
were my first love.

IT: Having been in the game for a few years now, what advice do you
have for creators trying to break into the industry? What do you think
of networking tools like ComicSpace and Triggerstreet comics? Do you
utilize these channels? If so, can you speak on their strengths and

DA: The best advice that was given to me: do the work. If you want to
write comics then write them. Writing is revising. You need to
practice. I get better with every script. Even when you look at the
comic storytelling legends you can see their skills improved as they
did more. If you want to work in comics you've got to create comic
books. Even if no one sees them. It only to increase your skills. New
creators should also remember that creating comic books is a job and
it should be respected as such. Invest in your industry by purchasing
the tools to do your job better. You can either be a creator that
takes away from the industry or you can be a creator who adds to the
industry in the form of good stories that help to increase the
artistic merit of the medium. There are a lot of great books about
writing comics that can help a new writer. It's also important to
educate yourself on the other guy's job. A comic book is a team
effort. As a writer you're like the quarterback of a football team. To
call the play right you've got to understand what the other guys on
the team do.

As for comic book networking tools. I don't use them as much as I
should. I do use social media sites like myspace, blogspot, twitter
and facebook to keep up with other comic book professionals. I also
peruse a couple of message boards where fans and creators hang out.
Online networking is a great tool for meeting other creators. I would
caution new creators to watch what they say online though. Excessively
slandering other creators or taking a drink of E-Courage and fighting
online can come back to bite you in the ass.

IT: Are there any characters or properties that you'd really like to
get your hands on and write?

DA: I'm a big fan of early Marvel Stuff. I'd love to write Black Panther,
Daredevil, Fantastic Four or Captain America. The Milestone characters
would also be really dope to write. I was a huge fan of Static growing
up. DC has some gems in there as well. The New Gods, the Guardian,
Batman, etc. If I could bring one property over from television to
comics it would be the Bionic Six. It was a great show and could make
a great comic book.

IT: Describe your dream project.

DA: My dream would be to push a creator owned project I have to the next
level. I'm really inspired by Mike Mignola's mix of artistic work and
business savvy on Hellboy. I'd like to do something like that with my
baby. As for a project owned by someone else- I'd like to do a what if
where the Black Panther takes on the Marvel Universe.

David is online, in many places:

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

PRESS RELEASE: Comic Book Writer Seeks Burgeoning Artists For Experiment in Comic Book Creation




Seeks Burgeoning Comic Book Artists to Compete for Weekly Prizes and Promotion
My name is Ian Thomas. I am a writer, trying my best to break into the Comics Industry. I run a blog called Ian Thomas Comics, which I use to examine my own tastes and to explore what goes in the annals of today’s Geekdom.

I have found one of the greatest challenges in building a body of work to be engaging potential collaborators. With limited financial resources and no reputation, it is difficult to make the case that working with me will benefit them.

On the flip side, I know there are plenty of artists out there in my situation, looking for writers with which to collaborate, but unsure how to approach them. I see them on message boards, networking sites, and in the Artists’ Alley at the cons. They are hungry to work in the industry, but can’t afford to give up their services for free.

With all the noise and distraction of today’s industry, it is difficult to get a solid line of communication with potential collaborators. This dilemma forms the basis of my experiment. I have stories to tell, but no resources to tell them. Given the nature of the Internet, though, I have a voice. While I can’t pay what the Big Boys are paying, I can pay some. I intend to pay in the form of weekly prizes worth around $25 that will usually be given in the form of online gift certificates. In addition, I am bringing promotion to the table, because every entry I receive will be featured on my site.

Here is how it will work: Every week I will post an assignment and a deadline for participating artists. These assignments will begin with the character design. Once designs are cemented, I will post the script at a rate of one page a week, with each page corresponding to one prize. At the deadline, I will post all of the entrants and open the polls for voting. The winning entrant will receive a prize, recognition, and their page will be sent to a letterer to become an official page of the story. The result, assuming this experiment takes, will be a sort of jam story, showcasing the industry’s next wave of talent.

I am not seeking to publish this story outside of the site. I am not trying to make money off of these artists. My reward for this project will be the promotion it creates for me and the finished pages that result, showing I can work successfully with artists.

I am aware that the nature of this project is highly unorthodox. But if ever there were an industry receptive to experimentation, the Comics Industry is it. Further details, along with the first assignment, will be posted on my blog on Friday, August 8, 2008. Please come to my website,, to see what happens.

If you have any questions about my project, please contact me through the channels listed above.

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sad-urday Night "Fun"

There are a ton of very cool desktop backgrounds over at the Dark Horse site. I'm currently rocking the Usagi Yojimbo.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Haiku Review: The Machine Girl

Revenge is dealt by
Carnage creating gadgets
Making laughs for all

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wu-Tang Comics news and reviews

I recently had a chance to check out the Method Man graphic novel, courtesy of the nice people at Grand Central Publishing. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it's a lot of fun, a COMIC BOOK, in all caps.

Method Man stars as Peerless Poe, a "murder priest", excommunicated from his order of demon hunters. When the order faces a threat it can't handle alone, they call Poe in on it. That's when the fun begins.

Method Man incorporates enough Wu-Tang references to keep the fans that came for Wu-Tang happy. In addition, it has a nice back story, based on Biblical mythology. The artwork and story allude to further Wu-Tang comics.

As far as I know, the next Wu-Tang graphic novel will be GZA's Advance Knight. However, it was indicated to me that Advance Knight's publication has been postponed. Grand Central tells me that it is due to a rearrangement of the publishing schedule. I'll have more on that, as it develops.

Look out for my interview with Method Man co-writer David Atchison, coming soon.

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Crowdsourcing Creation: Comics by Committee

The Triggerstreet announcement has me thinking about this crowdsourcing thing. Wikipedia defines Crowdsourcing thusly:

Crowdsourcing is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call. For example, the public may be invited to develop a new technology, carry out a design task, refine an algorithm or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data (see also citizen science).

As I understand it, members of Triggerstreet will serve the function of reviewing comics, providing criticism and feedback. There are a few clear benefits to this type of set-up. The most obvious is that it provides the creator a chance to gauge perception before s/he has made a final commitment to pursue a particular creative route. If something doesn't play well, the artist can change it. Additionally, it gives the creator some publicity. At it's heart, this is a promotional tool. If nothing else, it puts the creators name out there for future collaborations.

From a business sense, this kind of site makes a lot of sense for creators. It's very possible, that a commercial success will result from a Triggerstreet winner. From an artistic point of view, though, this kind of thing makes me sick. A true creative endeavor cannot be focus grouped. it has to come from the heart. Names might be made on projects like this, but I think the real innovators will come up through more traditional channels, or create channels of their own. When it comes down to it, the comic industry loves innovators over innovation.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kevin Spacey Launches Triggerstreet Comics

via Wired article. Kevin Spacey, in partnership with Devil's Due Publishing, is expanding his Triggerstreet talent search site to include Comic Book submissions. I am not quite sure if this is for artists only, or if writers can submit scripts, as well. I plan on creating an account later, to check it out.

I don't know. I am wary of this type of thing. The idea of being "discovered" through something like this rings a little hollow to me. To me, it is like American Idol. Winning American Idol is proof that you can sell yourself and navigate the system, but I don't think that it is proof of talent. I'm not sure, if like American Idol, the work of winners will belong in some way to Triggerstreet, either.

I will suspend judgment until I know more. Ultimately, I am in favor of any medium that brings talent to light and allows artists to interact with one another. However, I would caution applicants to the site to read the fine print. Fame always comes at a price.

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