OPENING SALVOES

Welcome to everyone who had the curiosity to see what I’m going to write about. Frankly, I have no idea, either, but I guess we’ll find out together. The idea of writing a weekly column is daunting. I’m not really going to do reviews, although a few might pop up here and there so I can’t just say “I read so and so comic and here’s what I think” (taking up an easy 300 out of 800 or so words). And unlike many pros who write net columns, you won’t see me railing against the industry – I’ve been in the business for over thirty years and happen to love it.

Oh, there are problems like there are in every creative field, but having worked in many other facets of creative writing and editing, trust me, the stresses one faces in comics are a walk in the park. And, when you get past them, you’re still writing or drawing or lettering or coloring or editing comic books. The thing you wanted to do all your life.

Doing good work in any business is always difficult. If you care about what you do, getting things perfect or as perfect as possible, has to be stressful, but at the end of the day, this is fun, guys. Don’t forget it. And while you’re being paid to do what you always wanted to do, you are making the majority of readers very, very happy (and a few who will always be pissed off beyond belief no matter what you do. But since you don’t want to homogenize your work, you should know in advance you won’t please everyone).

Although others enjoy reading or writing such stuff, I don’t believe one needs to look behind the curtain and scream at the man working the levers. For instance, I didn’t need to read in ‘The Trades’ that the Mom on “Malcolm In The Middle” was ‘out sick’ and missed episodes because she was actually trying to get a raise. I only care if the show is funny (it usually is! And the actress playing the Mom is usually brilliant). In fact, knowing the behind the scenes stuff actually affects my attitudes toward the show, which it shouldn’t.

The same holds for comics. Back in the “old days” we all wanted to believe that Stan, Jack & Steve were one, big happy. We loved the idea that they all worked together in the famous Marvel bullpen and made our dreams come true. If we knew the truth it might very well have affected our love for the best super-hero comics ever done. Maybe I’m missing something, but comics seemed to be more fun before every pro who came down the pike thought every little complaint they have should be voiced in public (like I’m doing here, so sue me. No. Don’t. Been there. Done that. Can’t afford the t-shirt). Enjoy the books. That’s all that matters.

Anyway, first columns are, by their very nature, impossible to write. You tell people who you are, why they should be reading this semi-stream of consciousness, try to set your goals, tell people what you’ll be doing, solicit as much feedback as possible and hope for the best. So, following that template, let’s begin, shall we?
Who am I? The short of it is: writer and editor. Story-editor and producer. Fan. And more.

I’ve written millions of comics and hundreds of TV animation shows. I’ve created tons of characters including Blade, Black Cat, Terrax, Bullseye, many of The New Teen Titans, Deathstroke, Night Force, Vigilante, the new Robin (Tim Drake), Superman’s professor Hamilton and Cat Grant, the new (businessman) Luthor, bunches of Transformers, and more. I was editor-in-chief of Marvel back in the 70s, senior editor of DC in the 80s, founding comics editor of Disney Adventures, story editor of many animation shows including Transformers, Superman and Pocket Dragon Adventures and more. I’ve written novels, theme park amusement rides and shows and God knows what else. Oh, with Len Wein I’ve just finished writing “The Gene Pool,” a live action super-hero movie.

So, what does that thick resume mean? It means I have talent (I’m not going to play humble – I know what I do well and I also know what I don’t do well). It means I probably know my business and it means I may have something relevant to say in this internet forum. Well, the first two are accurate, but the third, that I’m not so sure about. Again, we’ll find out together. If you don’t see me next week it means I’ve run out of ideas already. But since I wrote The New Teen Titans for 16 years (almost a record - anyone out there want to let me know how many stories I actually wrote?) I think I’ll probably come up with enough ideas for a few weeks. Maybe even a month.

So, what can you expect with the “What Th--?”

Primarily, NO NUDE PICTURES OF ADAM SANDLER.

And I promise you that on the stack of SHAZAM #1s that I have in my basement.

What else can I promise you? I’m going to shamelessly use my friends and rolodex to get interesting interviews with people you don’t usually see. They won’t always be about comics, either. I’ve got several people already lined up including science fiction writer Larry (Ringworld) Niven, TV-movie writer/creator Rockne S. (Farscape) O’Bannon, TV Exec Dan Watanabe, novelists and TV writers Gar and Judy Reeves-Stevens, comics writer Kurt Busiek, comic artist, Disney Imagineering painter, Jerry Bingham, and lots more. I want to interview a cross-section of talent, and the questions will be more about craft and how-to than the typical interview questions I’ve been asked over the years. They should, I hope, be fun and informing.

Speaking of craft, I’ll also do the occasional article on writing comics, animation, TV or movies. They will discuss creation, character, structure, dialogue and story. I’ll also be talking shamelessly about books I’ve worked on and the projects I’m currently doing (get in line immediately to see “The Gene Pool” at your local Cineplex even though we haven’t got a director yet and won’t start filming ‘til at least next year. Maybe.).

Finally, I would love to have YOU ask me questions. About comics. Animation. TV. Movies. Whatever. I don’t promise to answer every one I get but I will answer the ones I feel will be the most interesting to everyone. So please write, ask whatever you’ve always wanted to know but isn’t covered by pal Bob Rozakis elsewhere on Silver Bullets. Send your question to: marv@silverbulletcomicbooks.com

Essentially, I want to write a column that I’ll enjoy writing and reading. Since this is going to be rather freeform, I’d love to know what you’d like to read about. Columns are mercurial and will change with time and response, so help me out, please.

That’s it for my first column. We are at 1240 words, more than I expected to write. This was easier than I expected. Maybe I’ll even make it to month two.

See you all in a week.
-Marv Wolfman

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