When I was asked if I'd
like to write DOGS of
WAR, I jumped at the opportunity...a chance to write about
I liked was more than most writer's could resist...including myself.
in the end, there was never really any doubt as to the subject of this
column. Here, in it's simplest form, is how I found my way to becoming
a writer for DEFIANT...
into a public argument with Jim Shooter.
was last August at the 1993 San Diego
Comic-Con. I was scheduled to appear on a couple of STAR TREK panels
talk about the movie I had just written, a futuristic virtual reality
entitled Shades. My friend, Val Ontel, was working
for the con and asked in desperation one day if I'd fill in on a panel
about collaboration since they were a guest short. I, of course, said
anyone who knows Val will tell you that she isn't someone you can
refuse. So off I went.
room was packed with fans as I took
my place on the dais. The moderator began the session immediately
one of the panelists was late. We were all well into topic when an
tall man in a suit and pony-tail arrived. Every head in the room turned
and followed him to the podium. I had never met Jim Shooter before and
had no idea who he was or what the big deal was all about.
I'm a terrier on a panel and, by the
end of the hour, Jim and I had publicly disagreed about everything from
the nature of collaboration to the state of television writing today.
it was over, someone had mercifully took me aside and explained to me
Jim Shooter was. I was stunned and more than a little mortified; this
a man whose work I had enjoyed most of my life, although he's only
years older than I am! Embarrassed, I walked up to him afterwards and
his hand, and actually found myself saying something like, "You know,
always wanted to write for comics." You know how it
commits you to say something incredibly stupid and there's nothing you
can do to stop it.
Jim was gracious. He said I should send
a writing sample to DEFIANT and he'd take a look at my work. Normally I
would have dismissed what he said as simple politeness, but something
me to take time from the project I was working on to send him some of
work. Even with that, I was prepared to never hear of the matter
later, I received airline tickets
to NewYork City for a meeting with Jim Shooter. That was eight months
writing DOGS of WAR
more than anything else in my career thus far. The people at DEFIANT,
Jim in particular, have struggled to show me their special view on
one I believe is more creative and vastly richer than most comic lines
on the market today. Jim is a master storyteller, fiercely committed to
weaving stories of power and action for characters we can all care
And as a writer hungry to improve his art, there is no place right now
I'd rather be.
Readers, the next time life
presents you with an opportunity to fulfill a dream, take a chance.
route to success COULDN'T be any stranger than mine.
Commentary: Dogs of War had a
very strong story and it was an excellent read.
is my first try at writing a comic
book, I expected a whole host of interesting other firsts as well:
signing party; first rush of adrenaline when I saw #1 on the rack; and
first rush of horror as I sat down to write the second issue for fear
I would come up dry for ideas. But one of the strangest firsts I
was from readers who came up to me, leveled their eyes to mine and said
in a flat voice, "You beat up a woman in issues #1 and #2?!"
The answer, of
course is that, yes, I beat
up a woman, or rather I had the main character Shooter
beat up a
woman in the last part of Issue #1, and the first part of Issue #2. It
was shocking. It was despicable in every sense of the word. And I was
raised to not do such things to women. Now, with that out of the way, I
want you to pay close attention to the following:
If need be, I
would do it again in a New
I'm amazed at how some
readers (myself included)
can blithely go through the pages of these books or watch TV or movies
and remain unmoved by the number of men who are hurt or maimed, all in
the name of entertainment. In the first two issues, Shooter
shot, punched, kicked and generally pounded the snot out of 28 men, and
the reader never batted an eye.
The female in
question here was the leader
of a child pornography ring, who exploited helpless children in the
horrible and damaging manner. A loathsome toad who, if she were a man,
you would have let me torture and torment to my heart's delight while
cheered. But, instead, Shooter beat an evil,
decadent and perverted
individual, responsible at least for the corruption of one little girl,
who just happens to be a woman, and I get sideways glances and
looks. Get real.
of War is a story about one
person who sees the wrongs in the world and decides to actually face
one and defeat it. Shooter is many things: He's
smart and single-minded,
crude and arrogant, powerful, and yet, sympathetic. But one thing he is
not is politically correct. He doesn't believe in the 'fairer sex' when
it comes to evil. He will continue to fight whoever crosses the line,
doing something which contradicts that deep-seeded sense of right and
which most people nurture in their own secret hearts. Dogs
about the violence, about the danger and fear that fills us all
I think there lives a Shooter inside most of us;
I've seen many
of them, people looking to solve their own problems with the tools at
So write to me
Gentle Readers, and tell
me what you think. And once in a while, let's all cry for the man
that gets nailed as well.
Commentary: This is an amusing
editorial and it pretty much makes it clear as to why this title was so
Since you are reading
this, there's an excellent
chance that you've already read the entire comic book. And for that, I
thank you deeply. Had it not been for a signing I recently returned
I would never be saying this so sincerely.
One of the
delights of writing comics is
that I get to go to comic book stores all over the place and talk to
and retailers about DEFIANT and my work. This last trip took me from
wilds of Southern California all the way to Springfield, Missouri, and
I found everyone pretty much the same everywhere. In each place I was
extremely well, but I soon noticed a strange pattern developing amongst
the people I met.
These are the people who have
read one or more of the DEFIANT titles and keep coming back for more. I
love these folks because most know about my work and love to talk...as
do I (he said narcissistically).
These are the people who
have never read our books and came only because they heard a "comic
writer" was going to be in the store that day. They are exciting too,
many of them will read the book in the store, so we can talk about what
they thought about it before they leave.
But the last
type of buyer really upsets
These are the people who
carefully bring their perfectly stacked copies to the autograph table,
instruct me on how they want them signed, and then
when asked (I
still can't believe this), boldly tell me that they have
our books, or most of the other that they own because...they
I made the
third guy who pulled this on
me sit on the floor of the store in Moreno Vally, California and read
copy of what he wanted signed before I would touch them.
The idea that
my stories, along with out
various artist's coloring, lettering, penciling, and inking should be
away in a plastic bag and never enjoyed, as they were meant to be,
me livid. Personally, each story is a part of me that I mold an shape
something I care about...something I need to share with you. It's a
we creators offer, made by our hands...it was meant to b opened.
So here's the
deal...you get a couple of
options if you want a book signed by me in the future. Either be
to answer some pretty tough questions about the books, or admit that
new to the series and I'll let you slide--just once. But, if you're a
bent upon hiding our work away and you don't want to anger me..
One for the
One for the
Commentary: This is a disappointing
snapshot of the industry in 1994. While I agree that people who collect
comics and don't read them is sad, almost all comic fans are guilty at
one point or another. I wish there had been about 30,000 more of each
Comic sold to collectors, because if there had been, I as a reader
still have some Dogs of War comics to enjoy.
On July 22nd, I had the
honor of joining some of
the most creative minds on comics at Golden Apple
in Los Angeles
for a panel discussion of comic book writing. The setting was perfect,
the atmosphere relaxed, and the fans informed and eager. Contrary to my
normal behavior pattern, I sat quietly and listened to the experienced
creators spin stories of their careers. It was fantastic. I learned a
about the industry, good and bad.
turned eventually to our individual
companies. The fans love these insights, a chance to experience what
are aiming for: the life of a professional writer. But when one fan
me what it was like to write for DEFIANT, I think I disappointed him; I
told him exactly what it's like...
I told him
about my editor Debbie Fix.
write two series for DEFIANT:
Dogs of War, the series in your hand
that sadly, will soon be ending
(as planned from it's inception) and, The Great Grimmax,
powerful story set to premiere early in 1995. It's a lot of work, and
be impossible if not for Debbie. As editor, she must do the following
(1) Tap dance
in the volcano: For Dogs,
Debbie must coordinate the writer (me) in Southern California, the
Georges Jeanty in Miami, Florida, and the inker, colorists, and
wherever they may be. That means getting my scripts to her on time, and
then down to Georges, then the drawings back to me and then of to the
in an endless juggling act. Debbie is a born master of coordination,
she handles it better than humanly possible...thank God.
gold from dross: Debbie also
makes sure that I have a monthly plotting session over the phone with
busiest man in comics--Jim Shooter. So once a month, it's Jim, Debbie,
and me and she makes sure we're never rushed. We talk out plots until
satisfied and then I go back to my office and write stories, such as
one, and fax them back to her.
Now, I' rather
chew on my own foot off
than reveal the following, but there are times when the stories I turn
in need work I know what you're saying, Gentle Readers, but it's true.
And that's how we come to:
the spoiled child to the dentist:
Debbie calls me and we work on them together. Now, writers are an
breed, and fiercely protective of our stories. Which means that I'd
have my nose set on fire rather than change my dialogue. I don't want
believe there's anything wrong with my stories, and this could make for
a shouting match. But Debbie just lets me run on until we agree about
changes. And it's usually smooth and painless, but always for the
Sometimes I treat myself to a sucker afterwards if I've been
of War comes out as well as
it does because of Debbie, and I never forget that. You know, at Golden
Apple that night, I heard a writer say that the first
question he asks
about a new assignment is..."Who's the artist?" But I know that's got
be Question #2.
Question #1 is
"Who's the editor...and
is there a chance we could get Debbie Fix instead?"
Commentary: This was one of the
last issues published.