Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Brief History of Cold Iron Badge, Part 1

I'm going to leave my impressions of the rest of the first edition of The Hobbit -- from Chapter Six on -- for another time, for a couple of reasons.

I haven't actually finished it yet, for one thing -- I've been reading other things, books that I can actually read while on public transit without fear of damaging an heirloom. A lot of science fiction (one of my other loves, and which I also write) by John Scalzi and Charles Stross, both terrific writers.

The other thing is that first edition of The Hobbit, after the radically-different Chapter Five, the variation between versions in the chapters that follow is pretty minor. Barely noticeable, and not the sort of thing that makes for very interesting analysis.

So, if I'm not going to bore you with that, what do I intend to bore you with?

Well, Patrick has been wowing everyone with his posts about process, so you've learned quite a bit about the whys and hows of his creative choices. But you haven't heard much about the writing side of that particular coin.

So: How was Cold Iron Badge conceived? How did that translate into the story you've been following and, I hope, enjoying the hell out of?

It emerged, first and foremost, from a desire to work together.

Patrick and I have been friends for a long time, and at various times in the past we had talked about doing a comic of some sort. Nothing that had gotten beyond an interesting conversation or two and some character designs.

About a year and a half ago, I was frustrated. My attempts at breaking into screenwriting had long since fallen by the wayside (the details are a long story for another time). I had also recently had reason to remind myself why I've always avoided writing short stories or a novel: I'm just not very good at prose. What I'm good at is scripting.

Especially in the wake of attending the 2007 Toronto Comics Art Festival, I missed comics. But it was clear to me that, in terms of creative outlets that were fun, didn't have many related expenses, gatekeepers or bars to entry, but still held out the possibility of being of high quality and maybe even profitable someday, webcomics were where the action was.

The problem was, I can't do a webcomic by myself. Because I can't draw. It pisses me off. It's the one talent I don't have that I really, really wish I did. But I can't draw for beans.

At that point, I didn't have many contacts in comics anymore. My "career" (and I use the self-deprecating quotes advisedly) was about as cold as my "career" in film. The artists I was still in touch with were all busy with their own lives and projects.

So, Patrick and I were talking, and I was bemoaning my situation. "The problem is," I whinged, "That I don't know any artists who want to work with me!"

"Ahem," he replied.

"Oh! I thought you were busy!" I said.

So, that was where it all began.

That left wide open the question of what we were actually going to work on. More on that next time.

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