Sunday, July 19, 2015

Not comic-related but kind of, has to do with ideas and things.

I originally posted this on my private Facebook... but I'm going to share with whoever comes by here.

July 19, 2015

Lengthy, rare, late night post, it's kind of vague because names aren't important, the story is, but I read something tonight from a guy I kind of know that really hit me. Like really moved me in the kind of inspiring, heartwrenching, "wow" ways that you can't make up.

To me, it started when I had this idea... I was kind of down on things and myself professionally in general, nothing serious, just a lot of things that would be thrown my way and never work out. Things... projects that come my way... always start and I get behind it, lead it and they collapse. Not by my own doing, but just by the nature of certain things. The most infamous one to me was a cartoon I did. It was something I had always wanted to do, I was so proud of it, and it was gone 24 hours after it was posted. Dead. Living now as an Internet urban legend (okay, not really). I was defeated. Around the same time, Patriot-1 was coming - and that was a great personal accomplishment and "moving toward the end game" accomplishment that softened the blow. But professionally in the general day-to-day, I just got kind of down - until I saw an opportunity.

I'd gotten to the point where nothing seemed too crazy, it'd probably just die anyway like everything else seems to so I went for it, all in. I don't like being restrained by what I'm "supposed" to do, and sometimes I have no support, sometimes I do. But I don't like complacency and I often think bigger and better can always be done.

There's this guy out there who is kind of famous, plays another guy on TV that actually means something to me. Anyway, this guy wanted to do a thing and it seemed complicated. But I wanted to do whatever the hell I could to try and help this guy do this thing - because I saw the kind of stuff this guy does for other people and thought he deserves it. So I eventually talked to the guy, met the guy, set-up a thing with the guy. Then I did something I hadn't done for five years because the guy wanted to do something, and then he almost didn't, but I made sure everything was in place so he could. That's where the thing that the first guy mentioned in the thing he wrote happened - just because I had this idea to help this guy do this thing he wanted to do. (Sorry for vagueishness).

Then it started to snowball because of the very first guy I mentioned. The guy who wrote the thing that prompted this post - he actually had the same crazy idea I did, the support just wasn't there, but eventually we got on the same wavelength. And this thing he wrote that prompted this... is a tribute to his father who recently passed, and he mentions something that kind of started with that crazy idea. What he discovered literally made my jaw drop. Literally made me tear up. It had to do with making sure that I got the TV guy to a place. Had he canceled or if it didn't work out at the last minute, it wouldn't have happened. It's incredibly moving and it really made me step back for a moment and realize how this one small thing, this one crazy idea that I had, suddenly has become something completely bigger.

These guys likely won't ever read this, and I don't want to tag them because that's not the point, and they still wouldn't see it because I'm only sharing this with my friends.

The point is, as I sit here, writing my comics, wondering about what steps I should take to try and do the things I want to do the most - I'm just floored that one small, crazy idea by some nobody who just wanted to help a guy do a thing has taken on a new, insanely meaningful life.

All those professional things I did, the things that would just die... The cartoon... all of it, they seem so small and trivial now. Maybe they always were... but this thing that's happened... it's amazing how one small action or idea, can suddenly have a huge impact on other people. And part of me sits here and thinks "what if I hadn't pursued that crazy idea."

If you know me well enough, you probably know who/what I'm talking about. Please leave it at that. Don't put it in the comments or ask me or anything because the WHO doesn't matter. It really doesn't.

And maybe I'm just thinking too much into it... but as I write all this vague nonsense, to me personally, this has become something else. Not an accomplishment, not an achievement... I wouldn't call it either of those things at all.

It's just... the next time you have a crazy idea, that sounds unattainable and sounds that it can't be done... go for it. Do it. Make it happen, some way, some how. Because even if you feel like you won't be recognized or you won't get the credit you deserve, you never know what kind of impact that crazy idea may have on another person even if it's something that becomes completely coincidental or unexpected. Someone else may take credit, but it's always your risk to take.

And that's my takeaway from this. That's what's keeping me up thinking and reflecting. You have some wild idea?

Go for it. The impact may end up being greater than you could have ever imagined.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

'Thank you, Mark' or how I learned to stop worrying and love the process

There's this great interview with Mark Waid about process that I've been thinking about the past day or so.

It's here, it's a great read:

Mark is hands down my favorite, and the most influential writer for me. Tom Clancy is up there, but Mark has written some of my favorite stories that solidified my love of comics and desire to tell stories. "The Return of Barry Allen" remains one of my favorite stories ever, and his run on Captain America is fantastic.

I've met him a handful of times, he likely doesn't remember, but I did give him a copy of Patriot-1 last year at Baltimore Comic-Con because I do believe you should give your work to those that inspire you. He's always very gracious and gives people the time of day. His politics and beliefs line up with mine, so following him on Twitter is always a joy. Also, he stands up for fellow creators, especially when they are bullied or harassed - a good example to follow. (He's doing it as I type this).

My process changes every time I write. I have no set way of writing and I never have and it's especially variable with three little kids. And I often question my process. I always have in my various incarnations as a writer. There's that "self-doubt" that writers speak of, and I often question myself and whether or not I'm doing it "right."

This has especially been the case with my past two projects.

Right now, I've been in the middle of plotting out and scripting my next Kickstarter project. A revival of the golden age hero The Atomic Thunderbolt. It's been milling for a couple of years, and I'm finally ready to move forward with it. It's a neat story set between World War II and the Cold War and The Atomic Thunderbolt is my favorite Golden Age one-hit wonder.

As I try to structure ideas in a composition notebook, it always starts out structured, breaking down the action on each page - even panels. Then it degrades into a rapid fire note scribble because I need to flesh out ideas that work and don't work. This notebook is never far. During the day, I take it to the gym with me and jot down the ideas between sets.

Then I can take it to script. Sometimes I go right to script and make it up as I go. I also thought this was just downright wrong, but there is no rule book on process, you have to just do what works.

But even at the script phase comes that doubt and wondering if my process works.

It's been prevalent lately. Maybe I feel the added pressure of having an award-winning book. An accomplishment I'm proud of and I want to hold myself to certain standards.

Then I read Mark's interview. It came during one of those self-doubt moments. And it's lit a fire.

There's so much quality advice in that interview. Being an admirer of Mark's, I've always wondered how he works and how the scripts churn. And best of all, there's so much I can relate to.

My wife and I bought our first house last year, I have an office space, a nice basement with toys, movies, collectibles, comics etc... but it's still the disorganized room. I can't work down there. So I literally sit at the kitchen table. I can jot down ideas all day, but the real writing comes at night, when my wife and kids are asleep and the cat is begging for treats.

Reading Mark's interview, I thought to myself "the process isn't important, the writing and the story is all that matters."

When he gets stuck he builds a LEGO set or something predetermined where you just have to follow directions. I turn to video games and movies, it's always helped for me and it's also good to immerse yourself in a fictional world to find the inspirations for your own.

I was just fascinated by the interview and the process of a writer whose work I greatly admire. It made me think about the similarities in my own process and how I need to stop worrying about doing things "right." The stories just have to be told and getting there is an adventure, whether you have a set path to your ending, or you just make it up as you go along.

So thank you, Mark, for continuing to inspire me.