Batman, Ben 10 and The Deep: Here Be Dragons. The creator-owned debate.
So, I’m accepting questions. This will spur me on to writing blog posts. Our first question comes from James Gilarte via the comments section. Thanks, James!
Hey Tom, Do you enjoy being an independent writer or working for the big publishers? Is working with DC or Marvel a role you would want full time?
Starting out, I think most comic creators dream of getting that exclusive deal for DC or Marvel. Signing a three year deal which means you will essentially be paid a wage to create the best stories you can, in a universe you love, while consistently being able to afford to eat, is a pretty fantastic notion.
It is something I would have leapt at when I began.
However, that was before I began writing my creator-owned books.
I saw my first finished Batman story last week. ‘Finished’ meaning; the pencils are done by fellow Australian, the wonderful Nicola Scott, her pencils have been inked, it has then been coloured, we’ve asked for a couple of small tweaks with the colours, the whole thing has been lettered, and editor extraordinaire Ben Abernathy has delivered it to my inbox. And there it is; my first freaking Batman story!
The whole thing is part of a new digital exclusive initiative which will see a ten page Batman story available for download every Thursday. The first story is being written by Lost co-creator and writer of the new film, Prometheus, Damon Lindelof, so it all has a massive profile and I feel very lucky to be a part of it.
A good friend of mine, Ben Templesmith, a Perth-born genius of an artist, and co creator of ‘30 Days of Night’ is also illustrating a story.
This is Templesmith's Batman...
Isn't he sweet and cuddly?
Writing Batman is probably one of the top things, if not THE top thing, on every mainstream comic book writer’s bucket list. For me, the ultimate would be Superman… but I’m a little different.
However, writing Batman exclusively would probably mean not being able to create the NEXT Batman and that's where Joe Kelly comes in.
The first time I went to San Diego Comic-Con, I met and chatted to a writer whose work I’ve enjoyed for a long time, Joe Kelly. Joe has done it all. He spent years writing JLA and Superman for DC. He spent years writing Spiderman and the X-men for Marvel. He did it very well.
He also created probably my favourite book of 2009, I Kill Giants <-- Check this book out. It's beautiful.
When I first met Joe Kelly, I told him how much I’d enjoyed his Superman and his JLA and his recent Superboy work. I was just starting work on Star Wars at the time, and Joe told me writing something as high profile as Star Wars was great but he insisted that, while I should definitely take on the high-profile work, I should never stop creating my own characters, stories and worlds. It was the best advice I received that year.
Joe can speak with some authority about this because he, along with three other Superman creators, formed their own studio called ‘Man of Action’... and created a little something called Ben 10.
Yes, this Ben 10 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_10
Ben 10 is everywhere. My son has Ben 10 shoes. They light up when he walks and I am envious of them. WHERE ARE MY LIGHT-UP SHOES???
Seriously, marketers, you are missing the all-important grown-men-who-want-to-wear-light-up-shoes demographic!
But I digress... I do that.
My point is, this is where creator-owned can lead; to light-up shoes and beyond.
If I’m writing a story for Lucasfilm, they own the story. As they should. They’ve paid me to write it for them. They've made sure that I eat regularly and, in exchange, all I've had to do is write stories about Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. That's a very good exchange. I've loved writing these stories. I am very proud of a lot of my Star Wars work. Having written Star Wars for the last four years has been incredible... but nothing gives me as much joy as writing these guys.
The Nekton family would not exist if I was writing Star Wars exclusively. Jeffrey the fish would not exist.
And I, along with artist James Brouwer and Gestalt Publishing, own The Deep: Here Be Dragons. If anyone wants to come along and transform The Nekton Family into the next Ben 10, then we will benefit from it and, hopefully, still be involved creatively.
And, if The Deep doesn't spawn its own light-up shoes, James and I have still created this award-winning story, featuring these strong, loving, adventurous, intelligent characters, which has been read by children, young adults, parents and grandparents all around the world.
Keep those questions coming in the comments section and on twitter, people - Follow @TomTaylorMade
And I would still like someone to create 'The Deep Light-Up Shoes For Grown Men' please.