We are Hurt, We are Resilient

This week’s post was supposed to be the second chapter in my series on creating a comic book sans a publisher. But then last Saturday night a man walked into an Orlando gay club and killed 49 people with an assault rifle, and injured many more.

The worst massacre in American history they are saying. Following the too familiar script, they are saying this attack is an issue of gun control, terrorism, and mental illness.

But make no mistake, this was a hate crime, first and foremost. Homophobic hate, possibly self-loathing as well, fueled by religious doctrines that speaks to the annihilation of gays.

Unless you have ever feared retaliation for holding hands in public, ever worried that you be would be fired for marrying your partner, or ever worried that you could be killed for kissing someone of the same gender… do not tell us otherwise.

He came into our safe haven, our sanctuary, one of the few places we can come together without threat or judgement, and he hunted us down.

This was an attack on gays, on LGBTQ, on people who are different and hated for it.

Make sure that is not forgotten in the ongoing narrative in the weeks and years going forward.

We are hurt. We are angry. And we are resilient. We are many. We will fight back with love and with action. Generations before me fought for decades so that they and I can marry those whom we love. And now we will fight for our safety, fight for our protection, fight for our equal place in society, and we will do every American a favor and fight the NRA until they are nothing but a shell, and real gun control is a reality.

 

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So You Want to Make a Comic Book?

Last night when I finally had a chance to sit at my computer and vent my frustration and festering sense of injustice, I tapped out a rant (because really, doesn’t the keystroke feel more like a tap these days?) about the possibly hypocritical expectations between amateur comic book writers and artists… and to be honest, it was cathartic to just let it all out on paper, so to speak.

It just doesn’t sound or read quite as nice if I was to say, “Let it all out on the screen.” Images of a horror scene or of a poor soul losing their lunch come to mind…

But perhaps for another day, and certainly when I’m a bit more objective on the subject.

Instead, welcome to an introduction of sorts to my experiences in creating a comic book. As a writer wanting to be a comic book professional, the route is not the same as it would be for an artist. Writers cannot show portfolios for critiques at conventions, and honestly editors just do not want to read your script when it comes in from the cold and they’ve never met you. It is not so much presumably that editors are lazy readers (because really, they are reading all the time), and much more to do with these two simple truths:

  1. Editors would never finish if they read every one of the thousands and thousands of scripts fans would bury them in. Imagine Scrooge McDuck and his vault of gold, except the gold is reams of paper.
  2. Most of what they would read would be so bad that the trauma might become irrevocable. Now we have Scrooge sitting there, surrounded by mounds of scripts, crying his bleeding eyes out and laughing maniacally like Mark Hamill’s superlative Joker, “Derivative Superhero Story #478” open in his hands.

All hope is not lost. Obviously writers are discovered every year and find their names for the first time gracing the covers of comic books on store shelves come Wednesday morning. How did they get there? They made comic books.

If you’re blessed, you have an artist’s hands as well as a writer’s mind. And we all hate you so very much for that. For the rest of us, we have to find an artist to collaborate with. I put emphasis on the word “collaborate” because my own experience thus far is that artists will want to be paid for their time, and not surprisingly there is a rising slope of how much they will want as the quality of the art also rises.  If you want free or cheap art, chances are the art will reflect that.

But maybe you’re thinking the artist will want to work with you on a story, just for the exposure?

No.

There is a valid argument that artists shouldn’t work for free, otherwise they would be taken advantage of in the name of charity or exposure. I use the word “work” because even when you approach an artist to do an 8-page story, and you’re thinking it’s a creative partnership, they will still see it as work, and most likely they will see you as an employer regardless of what words you use to describe the collaboration. There is also an argument that writers shouldn’t work for free either, and in a more perfect world an artist and a writer would mutually come together to create something they love, in their spare evening hours after working all day in a full time job, without one charging the other.

This is not that world. Artists looking to be discovered don’t need writers in that same boat. That is just the brutal, in your face truth. Artists have sample scripts a plenty to draw from to appease the editor gods.

But comic book writers do need artists. So if you want your story told, then it’s best to get your head out of the sand or out of your ass, and fork over some cash. It is not impossible to find a decent if not great artist who is willing to work for cheap, who is also very eager to collaborate and understands that such collaboration is meant to benefit you both. You will need capital though, so you best start packing lunches to work and drinking less at the bars, saving up those bills while you work on your script.

That’s right! To be a writer you must first write!

Before you approach any artist, you need to have a story. We’ll cover some thoughts on story structure and comic book script writing in the next post. But for now, let it sink in that you will need anywhere between $500 to more than $1000 to get your short 8-page comic story made, digitally. Yes, that is an insane amount of money just to get an editor to read your story! And if it’s not even a good story, then you might as well have burned your money in a barrel, in the backyard, to the horror of poor Scrooge.

So make it a great story!

I need a title for my anthology…

It’s already been a month since my last post… I’ve been meaning to update of course, but wanted to wait until I survived through May. Disney ABC, Warner Brothers, and NBC Universal all have television writing programs of varying design, with the applications all due on the last day of May or very first day of June. So I was busy every night after work and gym, writing my spec and pilot scripts for those – over 120 pages in total. Having Memorial Weekend just before the deadline didn’t help much. I had to negotiate with my better half just how much time I could devote to fun.

But I survived! Every year I learn a lot through the process, my scripts improve, and this year I gained a writing mentor who has been invaluable, and wonderfully available with his own precious free time. And I’m already thinking about the next pilot script…

But first, San Diego Comic Con is only six weeks away!

In preparation, aside from researching every editor, writer, and producer on this green (ish) rock hurtling through the void, I’m preparing a comic book of four short comic book stories, by four different artists from around the world. It’s really exciting, and it occurred to me that I could chronicle my experiences and the process of putting together and publishing a comic book.

So stay tuned! I’ll be backtracking a bit to retroactively explain the process thus far, covering finding and communicating with artists, discussing and collaborating on the story and art, pages, notes and editing, format, lettering, and working with both a printer and Comixology.

Also I hope to launch a Kickstarter next week to help fund the printing. So don’t miss that.

Now… I just need a title for this anthology series, as I plan to do more books if all goes well. So far all I have is “Dane Styler Presents” so send me your suggestions!

Noises in the Dark

In other news, I’m putting together an anthology of five short comic book stories by five artists so that I can maniacally shove them into the hands of every unsuspecting editor this July at Comic Con. Here’s a bit of a preview of Noises in the Dark

p1chimera1 - grey shadingchimera3 - grey shading

Art by Erwin Arroza and Nikola Čižmešija

Salutations

Hello everyone, and welcome to DaneStyler.com!

Hopefully this iteration will fare far better than the last… Honestly, I’m not one for talking about myself, at least not on the inter webs for anyone and all, complete strangers included, to see. But maybe starting a blog is like a buying a new couch. You need to let the cushions contour to your body as you settle in, gradually get comfortable, until you finally come home from a long day and all you can think about it sinking into that couch and taking  a relaxing snooze.

So here’s to new endeavors!

But also, the impetus to start now was indeed for a very specific purpose – I needed to be self-published. DC Comic’s Talent Development Program announced their Writer’s Workshop for this year, with the caveat being you have to be published by the application deadline end of this month. Sure, no problem, I had an 8-page comic book that I recently finished with my friend, Erwin. I created an account with Comixology, filled in all the data, loaded the PDF, clicked submit, and sat back and waited for their approval and praises of our masterpiece.

A week goes by… I finally decide to look up how long it takes for them to review. Answer: 4 months!

30 minutes later I have a WordPress-powered, bare bones website up and running, with my comic book as the first post. “Published.”

Now cross your fingers and hold onto your hats, because with my submission uploaded there’s nothing left to do… except get cozy in my couch and wait 4 months for a decision. Ha!

No, but seriously: Do you have ANY idea how badly I want to get into this program??

Bathala Rising

Here’s a short story I did with my friend Erwin Arroza, who is the artist on the successfully kickstarted and upcoming OGN, GrinidonEnjoy!

Little piece of knowledge about comic book publishing: it can take months to publish, even online. Comixology cautions a 3 to 4 month window for review and approval, and print comic books run the gamut from last minute to sitting on the shelf for a year before seeing publication.