obscure reference for the month: No, this column will have
nothing to do with actor David Naughton. If you
don’t get that
one, you’re not as big a TV geek as I am. Or
younger. Probably both. If you’re not
sure what the obscure
references were in the previous columns, go read them now.
pretty sure there was at least one in each.
Recently, I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about
in comics. Specifically, folks who feel that I’ve
now. That I have finally broken in and become a real, live,
honest-to-goodness comic book professional. After all,
written for DC. I’ve written for Marvel.
I got to haul my
butt down to the bank and cash those nifty checks with the superheroes
on ‘em. Come July, I’ll get to realize
one of my dreams -- seeing
my name on a Captain America story in print. Later this
I’ve got a 5-issue DC mini-series called Gotham Girls where I
play in the very cool Animated Series sandbox crafted by Paul Dini and
Bruce Timm. This month marks my Marvel debut with a story for
Mutant X. By what criteria haven’t I hit the comic
Well, that’s the tricky part. The criteria.
When I was starting out, my criteria were pretty basic. I
wanted a comic book in print and I didn’t want to pay to
it. That, to my mind, would make me a comic book
Now, some of you may quibble with the “pay to publish
part” and I won’t
argue that self-publishing isn’t a noble and difficult
However, to my thinking back then, there was an added cachet to getting
someone else to foot the bill. Why? Well,
we’ve all seen
self-published comics that were far less than professional.
barely make the level of amateurish. The way I saw it, having
someone willing to foot the bill to put my work in print meant that I
wasn’t deluding myself about its quality. If
someone is going to
plunk down the cash to see a story printed, that person must believe in
it too. A lot of people I know still see those as the
characteristics of being a pro.
In any event, that was my measuring stick. I hit that mark
my first series, Robyn of Sherwood, from Caliber. In fact, I
insanely lucky that I got to start out on a series, instead of a single
issue or a story in an anthology. Only as soon as I reached
pinnacle, I realized that it wasn’t all I’d cracked
it up to be.
After a very short time, having an obscure, black & white book
didn’t feel like being a pro to me. I doubt anyone
obscure part of that equation. After all, “if a
tree falls in the
woods” and all that. A whole lot of people will
the idea that having a book in color is any kind of landmark.
me, though, it was. After all, color books dominate the
comic book market. Ironically, black & white is fine
daily funnies in the paper, but when it come to comic books, color
seems to be a dividing line that denotes ‘real’
It ain’t right but it’s true.
Where I hit that particular mark is a bit fuzzy to my mind. I
a gig doing a color book for Moonstone Books (Robin Hood & the
Minstrel) back in 2000. Thing is, because of some logistical
nightmares, bravely fought by editor Joe Gentile, in launching the
color line, the book didn’t come out until after I had
work in the proverbial Big Leagues. Specifically, an
story for DC’s Batgirl. Only that hasn’t
Still, I had hit the big time, right? DC and Marvel, to the
American comic book audience, are the top. Not to take
away from Dark Horse or Image or any of the other great publishers out
there, but DC and Marvel have been the giants for decades.
did I “make it” when I did my first story for
DC? It kind of felt
like it at the time. I was pleased and proud and I got plenty
slaps on the back from people who sure seemed to think that getting a
DC gig was “it”. The paycheck sure was
nice, I’ll tell you that
Like I said, though, the issue didn’t see print and
“I wrote something
no one ever saw” is kind of dissatisfying.
Batgirl story led to more work. My first published story from
Batman Beyond #23, came out in July 2001, in glorious color.
Surely that was the final hurdle? A color book from an
giant! What more could I need to feel like a pro?
Well, I stepped back, gave my burgeoning career a close look and
decided that working for both of the industry giants would be a pretty
good indication I’d arrived. That and a multi-issue
Preferably more than the four issues of Robyn of Sherwood that
The last part came first, when Lone Star Press tagged me to develop and
write a 6-issue mini called NIGHT & DAY. Only
it’s taken a
long time coming together (for various and sundry valid reasons that I
won’t go into here). That means it hasn’t
hit the shelves
yet. I guess I’ve always hung on to that initial
something that hadn’t hit the shelves didn’t
Then, I landed the aforementioned Gotham Girls.
What’s more, it
was a proposal I concocted on my own (inspired, of course, by the
Batman Animated Series and the cool Gotham Girls webtoons at
www.gothamgirls.com) and pitched cold to DC. That it got
up was awesome. That it transformed into a 5-issue
was amazing. All that added up to a petty big argument for
finally and completely arrived.
What’s more, within a short time, I was talking seriously
over at Marvel. Before long, I had two projects lined
2002 seemed like the year guaranteed to satisfy, once and for all,
every criterion I could possibly have for really feeling like a comic
book pro. Certainly a lot of friends, relatives and fans are
telling me I’ve arrived. In particular, people who
their own climb up the ladder seem to feel I’ve reached the
They’re kind of puzzled when I don’t quite share
view of my current perch.
Not that I don’t appreciate everything that’s come
my way. It’s
great to have something you’ve worked for come to
What’s more, I’ve been fortunate and I know
it. Getting where I
am requires almost as much luck as it does perseverance.
Still, I haven’t landed that monthly gig yet, the standard of
American comics industry. I haven’t hit a point
where I’m able to
completely support myself on my writing work either. Two more
important benchmarks, to be sure.
All of which leads me to a couple of conclusions. One, as you
climb the ladder, your goals are going to keep changing.
a matter of perspective I guess. Two, and this ties in to
‘makin’ it” in comics, as in life,
isn’t so much a destination as it is
a path. You don’t really arrive; you just keep
walking and take
your satisfaction from the trip.