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  1. #1
    Mild-Mannered Reporter
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    Default Shelf Life - Jun 27, 2013

    Aspiring writers often ask their favorite creators to read their scripts, and in his latest column Ron Marz examines the familiar question and provides an alternative avenue for feedback.


    Full article here.

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    One of the reasons creators say no is a legal one. If I read your script, and a decade from now something remotely similar appears in one of my stories, there could be a lawsuit. It's a fairly regular occurrence in music and film, obviously; somebody looking to cash in with accusations of "you stole my song" or "you stole my idea."
    I don't really get that one. The ideas inspire other ideas. That's why if you look at any premise you can easily deduce what works of fiction inspired it, but can the authors of them say that their ideas where stolen? Should I be worried that anything I read or watch right now can be used against me once I publish a novel or produce a movie?

    Mind you, I'm only talking about "remotely similar" situation, not "exactly the same including names of the characters " situation.

  3. #3
    Marked for Redemption David Walton's Avatar
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    Established authors tend to openly admit artistic influences. George Lucas acknowledges the creators of the old serials that inspired Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and he doesn't need to sue the creators of The Mummy franchise.

    My understanding is that Peter David once took an unknown writer's pitch to Marvel out of the kindness of his heart. Marvel rejected the pitch, but the guy had a brother who was a laywer, and he tried to say Marvel used his ideas.

    BTW, JM DeMatteis has a story consultation business.

    I can testify from personal experience that he's as good a consultant as he is a writer. Worth every dollar. If you want to take advantage of someone with cross-media writing experience, excellent editing skills, and a real passion for mentoring young writers, he's your guy.
    Last edited by David Walton; 06-29-2013 at 12:36 PM.
    "I came to the conclusion that the optimist thought everything good except the pessimist, and the pessimist thought everything bad, except himself." -- G.K. Chesterton

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    Hi Mark, great article! BTW, would you read my script? ;)

  5. #5
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    Literature is a different medium than comics, but I would suggest aspiring writers also try their hand at FanFiction.net. The majors allow their characters to be used with no legal percussion, and you can get reviews. I think everyone has a Batman or X-Men idea in them. More importantly, try publishing seven thousand words a week (as a starter) to test your writing chops.

  6. #6
    Hater booyah's Avatar
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    I don't have the most extensive publishing history, but if you can say 'Hey, I had several short stories published and I'm trying my hand at comics,' do you think that counts for anything? That said I don't think anyone should be expected to read a script, as it's a tedious medium - more of half a medium, even.

    Quote Originally Posted by OtakuLad View Post
    Literature is a different medium than comics, but I would suggest aspiring writers also try their hand at FanFiction.net. The majors allow their characters to be used with no legal percussion, and you can get reviews. I think everyone has a Batman or X-Men idea in them. More importantly, try publishing seven thousand words a week (as a starter) to test your writing chops.
    Done that and would recommend it, if for no other reason than using it as an exercise in writing to franchises. Which helps in developing worlds, honestly.

  7. #7
    Cold War Myth aNamored's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Walton View Post
    Established authors tend to openly admit artistic influences. George Lucas doesn't need to sue the creators of the old serials that inspired Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

    My understanding is that Peter David once took an unknown writer's pitch to Marvel out of the kindness of his heart. Marvel rejected the pitch, but the guy had a brother who was a laywer, and he tried to say Marvel used his ideas.

    BTW, JM DeMatteis has a story consultation business.

    I can testify from personal experience that he's as good a consultant as he is a writer. Worth every dollar. If you want to take advantage of someone with cross-media writing experience, excellent editing skills, and a real passion for mentoring young writers, he's your guy.
    David, thank you for the link and advice about JM DeMatteis. Great to know :)

    Excellent piece, Ron.
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  8. #8
    Cartoonist Ryan Buck's Avatar
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    So all you unpublished unknowns out there the message seems to be this: Either rely on the industry's incestuous nepotism, shill out hundreds of dollars for professional reviews and/or Convention visits in hopes that whatever social skills you may posses will be adequate enough to make contacts with people who are busy maintaining their own professional image, submit your work to sites that professionals rarely visit or shut up and make stuff that professionals may or may not take an interest in? Seems like a more useful suggestion would be a contact list of editors and or art directors that work for the companies publishing comics than just another article on how "pushy" wannabees interrupt the zen of professional's being professional. The points Mr. Marz makes are definitely ones to be considered by anyone approaching a professional for advice. However the tone of his article comes across as dismissive and judgemental toward those who may not posses the social graces or professional resources to seek alternate avenues of introduction. The comics industry itself seems to perpetuate a myth of inclusiveness and approachability (when it wants your money) but the reality is that like every other industry that relies on "celebrity-ism" to function it is a world of exclusivity and enforced distance.

  9. #9
    Hater booyah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Buck View Post
    So all you unpublished unknowns out there the message seems to be this: Either rely on the industry's incestuous nepotism, shill out hundreds of dollars for professional reviews and/or Convention visits in hopes that whatever social skills you may posses will be adequate enough to make contacts with people who are busy maintaining their own professional image, submit your work to sites that professionals rarely visit or shut up and make stuff that professionals may or may not take an interest in? Seems like a more useful suggestion would be a contact list of editors and or art directors that work for the companies publishing comics than just another article on how "pushy" wannabees interrupt the zen of professional's being professional. The points Mr. Marz makes are definitely ones to be considered by anyone approaching a professional for advice. However the tone of his article comes across as dismissive and judgemental toward those who may not posses the social graces or professional resources to seek alternate avenues of introduction. The comics industry itself seems to perpetuate a myth of inclusiveness and approachability (when it wants your money) but the reality is that like every other industry that relies on "celebrity-ism" to function it is a world of exclusivity and enforced distance.
    Comics is like any art-related business - it's about exploiting creators. So if you make yourself appear creative and 'exploitable,' and can get that across to semi-important people, you're golden. It's not about celebrity - if it were DC wouldn't be luring no-name writers from image to their stables.

  10. #10
    New Member BChristgau's Avatar
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    Hey Ron, will you read my comic? It's called SIX-GUN GORILLA: LONG DAYS OF VENGEANCE.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Yeah, I know. There's already a SIX-GUN GORILLA comic out there from BOOM! Studios. Yup. That's right. TWO Six-Gun Gorilla comics. At the same time.
    This is obviously a case of what Hollywood refers to as "parallel development" (i.e. VOLCANO and DANTE'S PEAK, ARMAGEDDON and DEEP IMPACT, etc.).

    I recently got my first reviews, one from AIN'T IT COOL NEWS:

    “Cartoonish by only a pinch, the story does a great job of walking that line of being too fantastical, yet has just enough realism to make you understand that this is a story with heft and emotion.” "...(an) indie powerhouse of a book."

    The lads at COMIC BOOK BASTARDS also had kind words for it:

    “Read this comic book. I’m dead serious. Find it, buy it, and enjoy how Six Gun Gorilla: Long Days of Vengeance succeeds as any good comic book should.”

    “I recently read the Six-Gun Gorilla from Boom! Studios and it was very good... this indie book of the Six-Gun Gorilla is fucking great! I can’t emphasize that enough!”

    “…this guy can draw the shit out of a gorilla.”

    You (and anyone else who is curious) can check it out here:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/kwcu390fgl...4thVersion.pdf

    If you like it, pop on over to the official blog, where I'm selling the first issue for the very reasonable price of $1.99 for a .PDF copy:

    http://blog.sixgungorilla.com/

    Cheers,

    B

  11. #11
    New Member Tommy-Never's Avatar
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    Default Just my Thoughts.

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    Last edited by Tommy-Never; 07-01-2013 at 01:57 PM.

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    Also speaking as an author an illustrator–have been doing my job professionally for 20 years–I applaud Ron's customary candor.

    While Ron understates the legal reasons for not looking at unsolicited, unpublished stories and scripts, it's actually quite a big deal. I won't go into any more specific instances than have been stated above, but I will say the ramifications have devastated some careers and livelihoods.

    Additionally, it's far better that someone refuses to look at an unpublished story than it is to skim & give a less-than-thorough reading. Half-formed and hasty criticisms does one's work a lot of harm. When Ron writes that it takes real time to read a script or story and make notes, it should be understood that he means to do the job properly. People in other media who do this type of vetting are paid–and paid rather well in most cases–for the time and expertise required to a proper job of it.

    Finally, Ron has proven to be one of the most fan-friendly, outgoing and supportive creators to ever work in this business–bar none. Copping a sense of entitled "you owe me!" attitude toward him says more about the person taking this stance than it does Ron. (BTW, I'm confident Ron does NOT need me to defend him in any way–I write this more as a PSA for anyone who mistook the meaning of the column.)

  13. #13
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    -------------
    Last edited by Tommy-Never; 07-01-2013 at 01:57 PM.

  14. #14
    Marked for Redemption David Walton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aNamored View Post
    David, thank you for the link and advice about JM DeMatteis. Great to know :)
    You've very welcome!
    "I came to the conclusion that the optimist thought everything good except the pessimist, and the pessimist thought everything bad, except himself." -- G.K. Chesterton

  15. #15
    Marked for Redemption David Walton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tommy-Never View Post
    personally as a author and illustrator, and having been infatuated with Comic Books and Graphic novels since around five years old, I find certain connotations ron marz made, disturbing, rude and arrogant. while I must admit I cannot Imagine the volume of unsolicited submissions many writers and creators may receive it should be handled with a grain of salt. many people who love comic books and the genre in general would love to contribute to such a miraculous facet of art and literature, if those in the industry wont or refuse to offer some kind of direction and assistance how will the genre thrive and grow? and I mean free of charge direction and guidance, ron marz seems to think he is more popular in this field than he actually is, perhaps he thinks he is todd mcfarlane or frank miller. ron marz also contradicts himself by saying he wouldn't be in this field if jim starlin hadn't mentored him earlier in his career, yet he attempts to excuse his indifference by stating they knew each other before hand. so that means rons mentality is that he will not help anyone unless he has known them for a number of years, how fortunate for his cohorts. and to add insult to injury ron marz states that there should be a forum where new or possible talent should be critiqued by "veteran" creators and writers, "and the creators should be compensated" if as he states he is so busy and successful in this medium, why not give back some time? on a monthly basis? like really? ron marz is that busy? it seems he has forgotten that the fans make the industry really, without them the greats would not have a platform, bottom line. not that I recently have, but any project this guy is involved in I am going to over look, just off of GP.
    I think you're being unfair to Ron, as how he spends his extra time is a personal decision. What works for some doesn't for others. It takes a special kind of person to read a script 'cold,' and Jim's relationship with Ron probably gave him a better sense of his potential.

    I think it is problematic that the industry doesn't value mentorship like it once did. It seems more like a systematic failure than a personal one. Marvel and DC editors are genuinely too busy to find untested talent, and even if they had the time, they don't want the legal hassle. So you basically need to get published before they'll even consider you. If you can't find (and pay) an artist, there aren't many venues for a comic writer. Dark Horse takes writing submissions, but they're an exception to the rule, as most companies want their creative team in place before they'll take a pitch.

    And the market being what it is, even established writers have trouble selling pitches these days. JMD says he once walked into Jim Shooter's office and suggested an Iceman limited series, and Jim approved it without any further details. That's just the way the market was then.

    So that's why it might be a bit harder to get sympathy from veterans who are themselves fighting for work. There are some freaking great ideas by established creators that get shut down all the time!

    But Ron's definitely on the right track with the consulation idea, and like I said, JMD's got a business that will look at scripts, novels, screenplays, you name it. So there are people who can help you with this if you know where to look!
    "I came to the conclusion that the optimist thought everything good except the pessimist, and the pessimist thought everything bad, except himself." -- G.K. Chesterton

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