Stolen from a Message Board

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I just wrote something over at CBR that I thought I’d repurpose here.
To set the stage—people had been discussing the new publishing set-up and DC, and concluding, among other things, that I wasn’t writing anything for DC at presented because Mark Waid and I had both departed in a huff over Geoff Johns having too much influence, or that I’d had a falling-out with Dan Didio. This, I think, is the result of something Steve Gerber talked about years ago, where comic-book people (creators and readers) are used to thinking in terms of conflict, and then thinking of conflict in terms of fistfights. If something’s happening (or appearing to happen), there must be a story behind it, and there must be a fight at the heart of that story.
But most people just muddle along. If you decide to go see Sherlock Holmes Friday night, it’s not because you had a falling-out with the director of Avatar, it’s that it looked interesting to you. Working freelance can be like that, too.
When you add to that a common reader assumption that if you’re not working on something ongoing and currently out, you’re probably not working on anything at all, this can result in interesting suppositions.
Anyway, I pointed out that I wasn’t mad at Geoff or Dan, nor they at me so far as I know. I was asked if there were any DC books, either now existing or existing at some point in the past, I’d be interested in, and I answered:

Depending on the circumstances, plenty, from Superman: The Secret Years to Swamp Thing to Flash to Cassandra Craft (wait a minute, that one never was a book).
But a lot depends on the circumstances.

So I was exhorted to let people at DC know this, so I could start writing one or more of these.
I noted that listing a bunch of titles I’d be interested in someday doesn’t mean I’m either available to write them now or not working on something else that might hopefully be equally entertaining.
The response was, in part, “‘Can’t wait to see what you and Brevoort have planned for over at Marvel.”
This is partly due, I think, to the prevalence of exclusive contracts and the us-against-them vibe you get a lot in Marvel-and-DC areas. I’ve recently been announced as writing a story for Age of Heroes, part of the new Marvel event, and maybe doing some more. So naturally the assumption is that I’m “back at Marvel,” rather than “non-exclusive and freelancing.”
So, I rattled off (with edits, because I’m second-drafting it now):

Tom and I don’t have anything specifically planned at present. We’ve talked about a few things, but not moved forward on any.
I’m working on Astro City and Batman: Creature of the Night for Wildstorm and DC. I have the Arrowsmith novel (Wildstorm again) to work on, an untold tale of Spider-Man to write for Steve Wacker, and I’m supposed to come up with a short Spirit story for Joey Cavalieri, but haven’t yet.
I’m also waiting on contract revisions for American Gothic (Wildstorm again), was at one point supposed to do a Superman GN, but it seems to not be happening at all. And it looks like I’ll be reissuing a couple of older books through IDW, and I’m talking to them about revamping and redrawing an old and little-known project of mine as a new OGN. Plus there are two other companies who want me to do large projects that would be interesting to do but I can’t say yes or no while other things are up in the air, and another very major project that’s been up in the air for a couple of years now, but could come down to Earth at any moment.
Oh, and a small-scale-but-fun Robert E. Howard-related (but not Conan) Dark Horse project we’ve talked about a few times over the years and I even outlined once, but we were never able to get going on it, but it might be doable now.
I’m also awaiting contracts on a movie-related project that were supposed to be in yesterday, and (in my copious spare time) working on a novel of my own. And I just recently talked to a book editor about a non-novel book project that could be a lot of fun.
But mostly, just at present, I’m getting ready for sinus surgery on Tuesday, so I won’t be writing for most of next week, I’d think.
Still, of the stuff Tom and I have talked about, I think I know which one I’d want to do first, if we do something. And it’s not one of the stories I actually described to him, though it falls in the general category of the stuff we talked about, and I think he’d like it. My wife did, when I ran it by her the other day.

And that, I think, makes a nice snapshot of my current workload, as sprawling and confusing as it is, so I figured I’d slap it up here.

Adventures in Freelancing

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One of the odd things that occasionally happens when you’re freelancing.
That, above, is a picture of Liana, the former Green Lantern of the planet M’Elu. She starred in my first professional comics script sale, where she was drawn by my friend and occasional collaborator, Richard Howell, in what was his first professional comics sale as well.
A while back, I got asked for some input on a project DC was doing . One of the ideas I occasionally bugged Bob Wayne about DC collecting as a TPB was being done—a collection of the very enjoyable Mike Barr/Len Wein/Joe Staton Tales of the Green Lantern Corps mini-series from 1981, backed up with enough stories culled from the subsequent “Tales of the Green Lantern Corps” backup series that ran in Green Lantern. The collections editor wanted to know if I had any thoughts on which GLC backups to use?
Well, sure. I put together a list of possible stories—and since this is me we’re talking about, I gave him a list long enough to fill three TPBs, but hey, it woulda been good stuff—and among the stories I suggested, I included “The Price You Pay,” Liana’s, Richard’s and my debut. I think it’s a pretty good story, and I’ve got legitimate sentimental reasons for including it, I’d say.
So I was gratified when the book was solicited, and Richard and I were on the contributors’ list. Great! Our debut story would be coming back into print!
Then the book came out, and I heard from some readers that the story wasn’t in there. There had been two backup stories in the issue that story had appeared in, and it was the other one they’d collected, even though it had recently been reprinted in another Green Lantern collection.
I was curious as to why the story didn’t make it—was the other one picked by mistake? [It was the one in the back of the book, so if someone simply grabbed the last story from that issue, they’d have gotten that other one.] Was there a problem? I wasn’t upset, just curious. I was told that there was a problem with the film, one that wasn’t going to be fixable by their deadline, so they went with the other one. No problem, so it goes.
A week later, though, I got a comp copy of the book, and so did Richard.
That was nice, but since we weren’t in it, I contacted DC again to let them know that we weren’t actually in the book, and maybe they should correct their records. But in the meantime, thanks for the book, I’m glad to have it. No problem, I heard back, they’d fix it.
Today, I got a royalty check. So did Richard. Not a bad check, either—it’s less than I was paid for writing the story in the first place, but not by all that much. It’d cover a very nice dinner and a night out at the movies for the whole family.
I’ve let DC know about it, and I’m sure they’ll fix it. But in the meantime, thanks, Liana—it takes some kind of ingenious hero to deliver free books and money without even appearing!
[And sorry, Todd Klein and Dave Gibbons—I’m sure your proper royalties will be on the way to you soon!]