My comic book dreams are entering the really real world

Three years ago, I completed my first legitimate attempt at a comic book script. It’s a 10-page, noir-driven, supernatural-infused revenge story that I thought was ready for prime time.

It was horseshit.

Thankfully, the time between then and now allowed me to read the plot and characterization with fresh eyes. I went back to the lab, tweaked dialogue, boosted themes that were far more understated than I remembered, and planted an additional seed for potential follow up tales. I’m really pleased. Though, I was pleased last go round, so what the hell do I know.

I don’t desire to become a comic book writer in the traditional fashion, but I do want to make this one-off story. Or a mini-series. It’s not one of those burning lifelong yearnings, but every person who’s read a comic book as a kid has fantasized about one day seeing their words or visuals in a series of panels. So, I figured, why not?

Recently, I’ve recently made the next step in the comic book creation process: having a talented artist design my lead character. He took my description and turned it into a reference guide for layout artists. The results are quite good. Even more recently, I’ve hired a studio to draw, ink, color, and letter my story. You’ll see the result of that soon enough.

Now, the hard work begins. And it feels damned good.

P.S. – The image above is a blurred version of the initial thumbnails. A teaser of what’s to come. I’ll share how the sausage is made after the comic is available for purchase.

“But I am still thirsty”

Frustration is the shriveled hand that quickly lowers our life-blinds and prevents us from enjoying the vistas. The feeling can touch any area of our existences, but it has a particularly wounding sting when it grips our careers. Although I constantly trumpet the idea of divorcing one’s self-worth from one’s job, I recognize that it can be a wickedly difficult course of action; we pour a significant amount of hours into our jobs, after all. I also recognize that I’m not immune to the struggle.

I entered the publishing business at age 30, a time in a writer/editor’s life when s/he is ascending the ladder of success. Not only was I new to the game, I stood on the absolute bottom rung of the ladder—I was an intern. As a result, I reached, stretched, leaped, and scrambled to ascend to a senior-level position and overcome that delayed start. The journey took longer than I’d imagined, and I sacrificed tears, time, sanity, and a relationship to get there. Some would question the journey’s validity if it brought so much strife, and it would be a fair critique. I performed actions that I’d never repeat or encourage others to take, but the many trials proved beneficial in the long run for one simple reason: I learned not to take any of this too seriously.

Still, there are moments when it’s difficult not to feel as though my career would be on another level if I’d pursued editorial during the normal window in a young professional’s life. The thoughts often creep to the forefront during meetings with people above my rank, but I try to drown out regret’s footsteps with happy reflections.

I grew up a poor kid from a single mother. She did a fine job of shielding me from just how poor we were, and put me on the path of learning and dreaming. In my younger days, I wrote before I consciously decided to become a professional writer. I slapped together awful poems. I created and penned an Uncanny X-Men parody that I sold to other 7th graders during lunchtime. I wrote a couple of hacky screenplays that, thankfully, remain on a USB drive for none to see. The projects were mainly a way for me to escape some of the stress that came with growing up in the crime-filled 1980s- and 1990s-era Coney Island.

I was never a troublemaker, but I got into the typical troubles that teens get into in a large, connected metropolis. I grew up in the projects, and ran with peddlers, but the only time steel touched my wrists was when I got caught hopping a train turnstile on West 8th St. I had goals, and knew that getting involved in negative activities would ruin my pursuit of attending CES, covering E3, visiting Japan, and sitting on a panel at a geek-related function to talk nerd stuff.

All of those dreams, and more, eventually became reality. This isn’t a self-high five moment. I simply highlight these accomplishments because those memories comfort me whenever I begin to kick myself. They also inspire me to chase more.

It would be easy to coast on those successes, but now is the time to focus on new goalposts, ones that will serve as the fuel that propels me through the second half of my existence. They represent not just my future, but my personal shift from career goals to life goals.

  • Continue expanding my economic ability to walk away from anything (AKA, “Fuck You Money”)
  • Help even more black people achieve their goals
  • Create a successful podcast
  • Travel more
  • Make art

They’re a mix of passion, financial, and “leaving a legacy” projects. And the best part about the plans? I’m starting them at exactly the right time in my life.

*Image courtesy of Chrysalis/EMI Records 

Tweaking my LinkedIn profile upped my expert status

When the word “expert” hits your ears, what images come to mind? A wizened man with salt-and-pepper hair in a tweed jacket? A scholarly woman sporting a bun and librarian glasses? How about a guy in a cheap sweater, Lucky jeans, and low-top suede Wallabees? If you didn’t imagine the last person, I don’t blame; I wouldn’t have envisioned him either—and that guy is me.

Recently, I decided to do my yearly LinkedIn profile update. It’s an annual task that I adopted after reading Jill Duffy’s “Get Organized: 5 Tips for Getting the Most from LinkedIn.” The helpful suggestions helped me tighten and strengthen my LinkedIn page, but there was one tip that I didn’t use until very recently that proved very valuable: think in keywords. Long story short, I tweaked my professional title into one that’s more SEO-friendly, so that it would catch the eye of people searching LinkedIn for, say, “tech editor.” And it’s worked!

High-profile news publications, freelance writers, college kids writing theses, and podcast hosts have asked me to drop knowledge in the last few weeks. It’s been an empowering experience. Although I’ve written about technology for a decade, I saw myself as an editor with valuable thoughts and analysis, but not necessarily an “expert.” That is until someone on the other end of the phone actually referred to me as such.

It legitimately surprised me. No false humbleness, here. It later dawned on me that by having so many friends and acquaintances working in the technology and/or video game fields, I’ve lost touch with the fact that not everyone knows—or cares to know—the PlayStation’s role in elevating video games a mainstream, billion dollar industry. Or the best Web hosting services for companies on a budget. That realization played an important role in how I view myself in terms of career goals. That realization also helped me identify the required steps that are needed to walk toward expertise.

  • You must have a high level of knowledge in a particular area
  • You must have a few years under your belt; people seek veterans for knowledge
  • You must have the ability to explain a topic in everything language to someone who’s unfamiliar with it

And that’s about it. I think. There’s a very good chance that I may have overlooked an essential tip, but I never claimed to be an expert about experts.

Image courtesy of ReliableSoft.

I want you to pencil my comic book script

Howdy, y’all,

As previously mentioned in a blog post on this very site, my comic book script is completed.

I’m pretty decent with words, but not so much with the pencil. That’ll prove problematic when it comes time to pitch an indie work to publishers.

So, I’m in search of a comic book penciler who has a knack for sci-fi/mecha visuals. Send me samples and let’s talk! There shall be compensation.

Hit me up if you’re attending Special Edition: NYC. Let’s mix it up.

So, I completed my comic book script

I brain-spilled a post a few months back that detailed my renewed interest in that great American art form known as the comic book.

In the time between then and now, my renewed interest morphed into renewed loved thanks in no small part to covering the digital comics beat for PCMag, and some good friends who are comic book die hards. Another thing happened in that time frame: I completed the first comic book script that I’m proud to share with others.

Note the qualifier. I penned a jumbled mess of a script not too long ago, but the recently completed script is a story that I was meant to tell. I reread the script last night and I think it’s a damn good sci-fi/action piece, but I’m not going to self-high-five myself into false contentment. I’ve shared the pages with select friends, ones who I know will give me the real deal, and eagerly await their opinions.

In the meantime, I’ve been combing over comic book publishers’ submissions guidelines and reaching out to artists who can give visual representation to what’s in my head. This is the part that I fear the most. Not the potential rejection letters, but the Xenogears-like grind. It seems like each publisher has its own specific submissions requirements, and you have to follow them to the letter or get your package skyhooked into the nearest trash bin. Hunting down artists is a stressful, too. But, ‘evs. I’m feeling good, despite some jitters.

I’m not one to believe in divine intervention or the power of star alignment. Not. At. All. Still, a lot of good things have happened recently that’s driving me to get the script published. I turned 40 and gained a fresh perspective on what I want to accomplish in the second half of my life. Two New York Comic Cons were announced for 2014. I interviewed one of my comic book idols. Plus, I’ve come to learn the importance of having Black writers in the comic book industry after mixing and mingling with attendees at New York Comic Con 2013. Part of this is for me, part of this is for the community.

It’ll be an interesting ride; a ride that I’ll appreciate should I succeed or fail.

Image courtesy of Greg Pak.

Four-color funnies are on the brain

Comic books. I used to love ’em as a kid, but the entire industry seemingly took a walk down a back alley (located on the other side of the tracks) and went mega-dark during the ’90s. Batman had his spine snapped. Shadowhawk broke criminals’ spines while battling H.I.V. Supes bit it. Image was one large gun-and-pouch fest. And who didn’t snarl or angrily drool? It was all very depressing.

My day job, PCMag.com, is what recently magic-lassoed me back into the comics game. I met a friend’s husband while I was out west covering the insanity known as E3. Over a few brews, the good sir gave me a much-needed comic book boot camp that covered not only new titles and hot creators, but the challenges he faced as a Black man in a circle that’s even more homogeneous than the tech field. Upon my return to the office, I pitched three comic book related stories which the editors dug. I’m looking forward to see how it plays out. Could be quite fun.

More importantly, my Los Angeles experience reignited my writing passion. That may be difficult to grasp considering that I write for a living, but creating characters and worlds is something I haven’t done in a very long time. I dreamed of being a comic book writer during my junior high school and high school years. That obviously didn’t pan out (I let an opportunity escape, unfortunately), but I have a script in the works that’s tapping a purely creative side of the brain…and it’s been a marvelous experience. Honestly, I don’t have Marvel or DC desires. Typical capes-and-tights stories aren’t my thing anymore. Dynamite, IDW, Dark Horse, and other publishers have more varied catalogs that would prove a better fit for an action-comedy, methinks.

But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. Plotting and story structure don’t come naturally to me. I tend to think in dialogue and individual scenes more so than big picture. It’s challenging, but I’m coming around. Still, if I could get away with two characters yapping away in a single scene with no true subplots, I would do just that.

It worked for Clerks.

Image courtesy of Marvel Comics.