When do you confidently start saying you’re a writer?
ETERNAL landed last week, and it did alright, alright, alright.
This shieldmaiden ghost story at Black Mask Studios from me, Eric Zawadzki, Dee Cunniffe, Dan Hill, and Courtney Menard has been a crazy passion project and we were beyond excited to see stores rally behind us and get us to #51 on the sales chart for January!
This is a staggering success for us, but the party isn’t over.
This coming weekend I’ll be a guest at the amazing new Canberra show, the Australian Comics and Art Festival [ACAF – hit the link]
I love this show, and not just because it’s a local romp for me. It’s a show absolutely centred on comics, and beyond that, also spends a lot of time looking into the craft and business of comics. It’s a true blessing of a show for someone looking into making comics, and it’s also ace for those who just love the medium and want to immerse into it for a weekend.
I’ll have some panels, and will be tabling on Sunday, so here are the details.
Riley Rossmo is an absolute master. His art and storytelling have gotten better every year, recently culminating in his run on BATMAN/THE SHADOW recently that showed how good he was with the caped crusader, and I remember how intensely precise he was at dealing with emotion on GREEN WAKE nearly a decade ago.
The guy is aces, and he’s also an ace guy. Proven the morning I woke up to find he’d taken time to illustrate Vif from ETERNAL, my comic with Eric Zawadzki and Dee Cunniffe.
This thing is wildly gorgeous, and also serves to remind me that comics people are the best people.
It also reminds me that Riley Rossmo and green is always a winner.
Finally, after many years, ETERNAL finds a home in your LCS/hands/shelves this week. We here at Shieldmaiden HQ think you will love this Viking ghost story illustrated by Eric Zawadzki, coloured by Dee Cunniffe, edited by Dan Hill, and published by Black Mask Studios.
If you’re on the fence, let other people convince you, perhaps.
And I mean writers should write lots. More than they ever publish.
I wrote many complete comic minis. All before I pitched a publisher. Some before I pitched to an artist. And all of them never made it to the page. I would never do that now, why did I do it then?
Because I was young and dumb. Dumb enough to believe I’d get those stupid ideas made. Young enough to think I had the time. Dumb enough to think I had to do it. Young enough to think an artist would come on board.
I’d never script a full 6 issue mini now. But I did a decade ago. And I’m damn glad I did. Writing those issues gave me an appreciation of story structure far beyond what a plot document will. It showed me how characters fuck with your plot outline, how they won’t behave. How by the time issue 4 is ending, you know everything better, with gather clarity, and you know certain elements have to change.
We tell people not to write ahead. And we tell people not to write for free. But we forget sometimes to tell people that writing is a skill you practise. And you won’t practise with every page published, you don’t want to do that, trust me, so you want to practise in the shadows. You want to practise so when you do emerge, you’re pretty decent. Maybe close to good. Probably serviceable.
I tell people all the time about all the scripts I wrote before I self-published my first one. It was about 60 scripts. A ludicrous amount. But it all helped me understand how story flows out of me better. That I can trust the process that plots change, characters change, and you will have different strategies to figure out the hard stuff.
I think back and remember just banging away on these scripts like they were the most important pages in the world. And I still want to approach everything in that manner. I want my pages to still feel like the most important pages in the world to me. Because they kind of are.
And I always enjoy writing every damn word of them.
Take time to enjoy your writing. It’s a fool’s pursuit, done because we love it, and if you’re in for the ride then really throttle into it and give it everything.
THE FIREMAN by Joe Hill is an astonishing novel that’ll completely engulf you.
I love Joe Hill, I’m a complete mark for his work, and this book is definitely one of my absolute favourites of his stuff. It’s a great premise, handled well in the narrative line it chooses, the characters lure you in, and by the end you’re exhausted in all the right ways.
For as long as I can remember, I always dug playing the Fighting Fantasy books.
My brothers had copies of these strewn around the house, and I don’t even know at what age I picked them up, but I can vividly remember playing them when I was about 7, half laying under our coffee table, and half poking out with a cushion under me, to roll the dice, to battle the pages, and to make my own adventure sheets in an art pad.
I loved the adventure, the nerdy mathematical/chance aspect of it all, and the scenarios and art were wild. These were infinitely better than the Choose Your Own Adventure books – these were the Horror Section of your old VHS emporium compared to the Kids Rental Section of your safe old library.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but these were the METAL interactive story/game pages of my youth.
We owned many of these books, and I played the all, and while many hold a dear place in my heart, it is always this cover that fires up my imagination. behold, the ISLAND OF THE LIZARD KING!
BEAUTIFUL CANVAS was my comic minisieries published through Black Mask last year. The stellarteam of Sami Kivela [illustrator], Triona Farrell [colourist], Ryan Ferrier
[letterer], Dan Hill [editor], and myself [writer] put out 4 issues of this gonzo pulp madness in 2017 and we are wildly proud of this story.
Now, in 2018, you can preorder/buy the trade paperback collection, which will hit shelves on Feb 21.