Monday, November 11, 2013

Must be nice...

I tell people that my upcoming graphic novel, Patriot-1, is the story I've been telling my whole life. Playing with G.I. Joes, or creating my own characters with those same G.I. Joes, there was always one character that was representative of the main hero. Later, as I became a writer, that character still existed in some form. In 2006, it finally took the shape of the tentatively-named U.S.Avenger before evolving in the more realistic, less cheesy Patriot-1.

I've told many more stories in the 7 years since. Westerns, zombie romps, the superhero fare and more starts and stops than I can count. Oh, and there's that little detail that the past (almost) 4 years have been spent writing about professional wrestling sports entertainment in some form or another for my day job.

But Patriot-1 remains the single most important story for me as a writer. Years of development, three artists attached, four rewrites, 2 publisher rejections of it in previous forms - this story is the true tale of being a writer, especially in a world where everyone and anyone can be a "writer."

I was trained as a screenwriter. I still consider myself a screenwriter and I have the bachelor's degree that says I am a screenwriter. I haven't written a full-fledged screenplay in a couple of years mostly because of the shift in focus to my one true love - comics. But that doesn't mean I don't ever have the itch... (especially whenever Marvel puts out a movie) to write for film and TV and pursue that avenue.

But if there was one thing I learned as an intern in Los Angeles during college, it was that I had to forge a different path. As a creative type, I have to do things my way or I fall into a depression of sorts. My parents call it "being stubborn," my wife calls it "being Kevin," but it's a condition. I couldn't do the assistant thing, I couldn't do the struggling Hollywood thing... I had to do it my way. More power to you if that's the path you chose. But as much as I loved Los Angeles and that life, I needed something more. And with a beautiful wife supporting me, two one year old babies climbing all over me and parents who are happy to see me doing what makes me happy so long as I have a regular job and good health insurance... I've done it my way. Right or wrong, it was the only way to satisfy the creativity beast.

Patriot-1  is coming in the spring. Possibly sooner digitally. I got a little personal a moment ago because it directly relates to what I'm trying to say here. Patriot-1 is a cinematic experience. Those aren't my words. Those are the words of my editor, a friend who has read it and two of the three artists that had been attached. The editor even told me once, "it reads like a screenplay."

In my personal opinion, Patriot-1 is one of those books that readers would say "when does this movie come out." People would talk passionately about who plays the characters and what not because it is written that way and it is presented like a full-fledged action movie.

That was my intention. Yes. I think Patriot-1 has potential to go that far. That's how much I believe in this project, story and characters. After all, I do my own lettering to ensure the best wordsmithing. I'm 99.9% sure it will be self-published in some fashion under my TJ Comics imprint, but those who know my comics know I put quality first.

So when I see news like this: Robert Kirkman's Exorcism Drama 'Outcast' Lands at Cinemax I want to lose my effing mind. Not because I think Kirkman is a bad writer, quite the contrary... but because he's had one bonafide cross-media hit in The Walking Dead and then this Outcast and previously Thief of Thieves get picked up by major networks BEFORE THEY ARE EVEN RELEASED.

I mean, good for Robert Kirkman. He's written some stuff I've absolutely loved like the earlier Invincible stuff and Marvel's The Destroyer MAX series. His Marvel Team-Up book is criminally underrated and I like that he has forged the creator-owned path. But even with that, like any writer, all of his stuff isn't totally my bag. That's fine, that's how it is for everyone.

Yet I just can't wrap my head around this notion that a comic book series gets optioned before it's even released and tested amongst the rabid niche of comic book readers. The Walking Dead is one of the industry's best selling books right now, but single issue sales are nothing compared to what Chris Claremont and John Byrne's X-Men used to sell.

I'm sure Kirkman pitched the comic as a TV series to studio execs... that's how it's supposed to work, but seeing as how this is the third one, I'm not sure I believe it. Does his name have that much clout because of The Walking Dead? There are so many other creator-owned books out there ripe for this sort of attention, but obviously Kirkman knows the right people, has an exceptional talent agent that needs to contact me or is just a really good schmoozer.

Seriously though, Patriot-1 is already film or TV ready. The first 40 pages of the book contain no less than 20 pages of pure adrenaline-filled action. I kid you not.

While I do hope it reaches cross-media franchise levels, the least I could hope is getting some gigs writing my favorite characters for Marvel or DC.

So Hollywood friends and friends of friends... let's chat.

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