Tag Archives: Marvel

Comic Book Editing

It isn’t unusual that I get asked to read and offer critique or feedback on someone’s work. When I have the time, I very much enjoy it. I’m much more inclined to fill my time with friends’ work than with that of folks I don’t really know. And while I don’t really “advertise,” I also do editing work—y’know, that people pay me for—though I’m very particular on what I take on. Usually if someone just wants a quick “wha’cha’think,” the chances are more likely the lower the page count it. It isn’t that I don’t want to read their 600 page novel, but I just don’t have time.

Of course, that lack of time scares me sometimes. But that’s not what this post is about.

I enjoy comics/graphic novels most of all, and it’s in that format that I get called on most (prose being 2nd…well, only other).

But it’s also that format that tends to aggravate me the most because of the huge misunderstanding of the role of an editor in comics—even by people who have produced them. Please know that I’m mostly talking about those who really don’t what they’re doing even though they’re doing it.

It often happens like this: I get an email asking if I’d be interested in “editing my graphic novel.” I respond with 50 questions (content, audience, etc., etc.) It’s usually at this stage I find out the graphic novel—all 200 pages of it—is already finished. I generally respond, that “oh, you don’t need an ‘editor,’ you want a ‘proofreader.'” We then swap emails with them trying to convince me that no, what they really want is an editor, even though the entire book is already produced.

People, at that stage, the person who reads the book is no longer an “editor.” A “copy-editor,” maybe, a “proofreader,” for certain. And please don’t think I’m badmouthing copy-editors. They are a vital part of the production/assembly line, but that is not the role of the traditional comic editor.

A traditional comic/graphic novel editor is involved practically from the ground floor. Most often, the writer has submitted or finished a plot outline. At this stage, the editor can make broad story suggestions and it is fairly easy for the writer to make changes. From there, the writer breaks it down scene by scene, even page by page (meaning the printed comic page). This is done so the editor can get a sense of pacing; they can see what the writer intends to happen on each page and point out lulls in the story, or places that need more time/explanation. It’s then that the writer goes to script. At this point, the editor has read and commented at a minimum twice. Writing the script almost becomes an act of typing (yeah—not really, but you get the point).

Granted, once the art is done, the editor reads it again…but at that point, it’s almost an act of proofreading.

I enjoy editing…quite a bit. I enjoy helping a writer find that special thing that makes the story jump out.

Proofreading I do…but it isn’t at the top of my list of things I enjoy. It’s more mechanical that creative. There are many better proofreaders out there than me.

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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop hello

Hi there and welcome to my blog! For my regular readers, I beg your patience as I participate—for the first time ever—in a blog hop.

For those of you new here, you’re likely here thanks to a link provided to you by my friend and colleague, author Tom Lucas. I want to thank Tom for inviting me to participate and for encouraging all of you to check out my page.

I know that you’re getting a wide variety of authors as you make the hops. Honestly, I’m not how sure far up (or down) the string of hops I am…but I’m pretty sure you haven’t run across many like me. Good or bad? That decision is up to you. (The images on this page is a sampling of covers to things I’ve written).

I spent a little more than ten years in the comic book industry (graphic novels to you more literary types) mostly as a writer, but some of that time as an editor…and some of that time as a Marvel editor. I quit writing for a few years to take up my second career: teaching! That career led me to a side-career of speaking (at writer conferences and the like), which I never thought I’d like…and yes, the introvert in me still gets nervous. Once I got going with the teaching, I dove back into writing, this time my focus was prose. I still write comics and have several graphic novel projects in the works that I’ll be talking about on this page soon. I’ve got an agent trying to sell my YA novel, The Intern, but next week I’ll be answering my ten questions about my first novel, Buying Time, which is a contemporary fiction work…with a smattering of romance (completely unintentional on my part!), a tiny sprinkle of sci-fi (completely intentional on my part!), and a coating of faith (a natural extension on my part!).

I blog about once a week where I break all the “rules” of blogging in that I pretty much write about what I want to write about (y’know—if you’re going to “do” a blog, you need a FOCUS!). I write about writing, review the occasional book, write a little about my family, rarely politics (though those seem generate the most comments!) and whatever else strikes my fancy.

So, I hope to see you next week where I’ll also point you to five more unique writers!

Thanks for stopping by.

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Buying Time is here!

Yep, it’s finally here and I’m holding it in my hot little hands as I type—well, not literally. It’d be hard to type then. Some of you watched it over to the right of here…watched the progress and then saw it move into the “projects” section of my blog. Now, my first novel, Buying Time, is out!

I must say that I’m incredibly excited about it. That goes without saying, though, huh? The cover was done by my good friend and very talented colorist/photographer/designer Emily Y. Kanalz. If the quality of my writing inside can keep pace with the cover, then I’m in good shape! Thanks, Em!

Buying Time isn’t actually my “first” novel to have written. Not long after Malibu/Marvel shut down, I embarked on trying to write one. I wrote nearly 40,000 words on it before I realized that I pretty much hated everything about it. While I liked some of the “ideas” behind it, it didn’t contain a single character that I liked or felt I could identify with. I pretty much tossed writing on the back burner after that, and that’s when I entered graduate school with the plan to teach…which I did.

But after teaching for a few years, I got the itch to write again. I’d done some writing for newspapers (both school and local), but that didn’t count—not for what I was wanting to do, anyway. Not only that, my life had changed in a big way since I’d last written…so I dove in again. It took me about two years to finish, but finish I did. I was still searching, too, for the kind of writing I wanted to do post-comic-writer-life. While I enjoyed Buying Time, it wasn’t the kind of story that I could see myself continue to write. Ultimately—if you’re keeping score—I’m ending up writing pretty much everything now with some sort of superhero connection.

So what is Buying Time about? It stems from short story I wrote back in the early 90s about a time-traveling time salesman (I love time travel stories—and in fact, my Master’s Thesis was on “alternate histories,” fiction that explores those “what if” questions of history)…Basically, my pitch for the book is this:

If you could redo part of your life, would you? Even if it meant you died a little earlier? That’s the decision Tom Morgan and Larry Pace must make when they are approached by a time traveling time salesman. Complete opposites, both men are drawn to the idea for the same reason: to save someone’s life. But is that even possible? Can the past be changed? Add to that the problem that it’s very addictive, like a dangerous drug. Each trip back in time shortens life.

If you find yourself interested in the book—and I hope you do—you can buy it directly from me by going to this page: https://rolandmann.wordpress.com/projects/buyingtime/ and clicking on the “buy now” button, or you can hop on over to this link and purchase it through ebay: http://cgi.ebay.com/Buying-Time-Roland-Mann-/270571172656?cmd=ViewItem&pt=US_Fiction_Books&hash=item3eff4c7330#ht_500wt_1182 If you want it signed, just let me know. Autographs are free! J

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Dead projects

I’ve said before that writers should have a handful of projects going at the same time in order to avoid writer’s block (which I don’t believe in, of course), but after so many years, the “dead project” file begins to get thick.

I was recently reminded of a “dead project” when a writer emailed me to ask questions about it. Seems he was writing a book about Planet of the Apes and his work (Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: A Definitive Chronology) would include a section about comic books…and then about the comic projects that never made it to print. Part of my body of work includes a four issue mini-series entitled Planet of the Apes: Blood of the Apes (POTA:BOTA). Instead of setting the story in the tri-state area where the original movie was set, I brought the talking monkeys to the South and set my story in Memphis. Any of you who’ve read more than one of what I’ve written will realize that I attempt to tell my stories in the South, if possible.

Before I go on, let me add that as a result of his questions, I got to looking around at Ape stuff. I discovered that POTA:BOTA was included in an academic work: Planet of the Apes as American Myth: Race and Politics in the Films and Television Series by Eric Greene. It was published in 1996. I found out about it just a few months ago. Now, while POTA:BOTA only gets about a page and a half—the book is mostly devoted to dissecting the films—let me just say it was pretty cool to see something I’d written included in an academic work like this. I went on to find that on one Ape “fansite,” BOTA was listed as the #3 favorite Ape comic among fans. Again, pretty cool.

So anyway, I got to thinking about the Apes projects that didn’t happen.

#1: POTA: Sky Gods. Humans land at on the planet at a different time to find man extinct, and apes back on the bottom of the chain. Who rules, then, you ask? Tigers! Yep, talking Tigers. Would’ve been fun!

#2: POTA: Henry the Ape. Aside from the word play on the title, this was less developed than Sky Gods (which had a full four-issue plot) but consisted of a spoiled rich prince (Henry) who runs away from the kingdom/responsibilities.

Another project that I really would like to have seen published is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle story that turtlesindixieI’ve written and that Steven Butler was going to pencil and then Ken Branch would ink. (sample page is Steven’s pencils) The working title was Turtles in Dixie. The story brings the turtles down to Vicksburg, Mississippi where they get to tour the Vicksburg Military park, and run afoul of such villains as Armadillo-man (pictured) and Alligator-man.

There is a point to all this, though. I saw this all to suggest that even if a project isn’t “published” or doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away, hang on to it. You never know what could happen in the future. All those extras notes and doodles can turn into something somewhere down the line!

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Travel Woe Is Me!

You would really think that after an adventurous trip last weekend, I’d have smooth sailing this weekend. Not so! To begin with, I didn’t really leave Oxford on time to get to the Memphis airport. I thought it took an hour…it takes about an hour twenty. So I start the trip off running late. No biggie, I’ve got last week’s experience under my belt and actually breeze through security. Looking good so far.

Flight to Cincinnati goes on schedule and I move to my connection flight and stand in line. While standing in line, I hear an announcement looking for 20 volunteers headed to Philadelphia to get another flight. Warning bells go off. When I reach the counter, the lady tells me that I don’t have a seat on the plane. It seems the 70-seater plane has turned into a 50-seater and 20 folks suddenly do not have seats. I was one of the lucky 20.

So, I’m told the next available flight out of Cincy is 3:00…I was supposed to arrive at 12:45, now the earliest possible would be around 5:30. Very frustrating. And, had it not been for what happened next, I would have been writing here to suggest you avoid this airline as much as possible. BUT, the Delta representative paged me to the counter and made my unpleasant situation a little less unpleasant. They gave me a voucher for lunch AND for a future flight. So while I missed half a day in Philadelphia, I get to fly somewhere else at a later date…and likely have a similar experience.

Friday night I met Lloyd Wagner and his wife. Lloyd is one of the Elfin Writers and is doing some cool research on the ghosts at Gettysburg. I’m sure there are a few things that I’ll need to eventually set him straight on—especially on the subject of Yankees and Abe Lincoln, but I liked hearing about some of the non-comic work that he is doing. I also met Ratna’s son, Robin, who, after being a little shy at first, really seemed to open up and have a good time.

Saturday was the big day of the Convention and I actually enjoyed walking the Con-floor with Ratna, looking at the various methods of marketing and the wide range of product. I will say, not having really read mainstream comics in almost 10 years, I was surprised to find how similar it all looked; even the superhero books not produced by Marvel and DC. It all looks alike!

While there, I had the opportunity to meet some other folks who’ve worked on Elfin projects, including Andrew Harrar, Lewis Helfand and Tony DiGerolamo. I also had the opportunity to bump into (some briefer than others), several pals from days past: Ken Branch, Dan Nakrosis, Jimmy Palmiotti, Tom Romano, Rodney Ramos and Billy Tucci. They were pretty much like you would expect them to be 10 years later…a little heavier, a few more wrinkles and either a little greyer or less hair—some both!

It’s a little spooky walking during the evening hours, especially for a Southern boy feeling very out of place in the big city. I have been amazed to see Philly so busy—people are going to and fro in all sorts of directions. Granted, I have no idea where they’re going, but they’re a whole bunch of them going somewhere. Not only that, I’d have problems driving here. The cars are all so very close to one another—I’d be hitting pedestrians right and left just trying to steer clear of all the cars that look like they’re about to side-swipe me!

Sunday, Howard Mackie joined us and we continued to discuss things like royalties, contracts and story process. We did not go in circles around Philly! But, we did get a lot accomplished and so it is exciting to move forward. Of course, I have a stack of scripts just waiting for me to read!

As I write this, I’m still in the hotel room in Philadelphia. I have no clue what my flight back will be like. I will likely end up going through North Dakota just to get home to Mississippi.

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