The Comic Book Connection

I don't write comic books.

It's not that I haven't tried; I have a bunch of spec scripts and even a few original creations.  But 99% of my time is spent writing other things.

This probably seems weird (particularly to my wife) given how much time (and money) I spend reading comic books.  And, to be honest, they're my number one source of inspiration.

A big part of it is tone.  Because comic books are a visual medium, they can create tone much faster than prose.  Tone is big for me.  I'm not an intricate plotter and I'm not a super genius, so I rely on things like tone to keep people interested.  Right now I'm working on a book that has a very specific tone, and to prepare myself I'm re-reading Sandman, Starman, and All-Star Superman, because they all evoke variations on the tone that I'm going for.

There's also something to be said for the fearlessness of comics.  The comic book audience comes with a certain ability to suspend disbelief in ways that a prose audience doesn't and won't.  Comic books are a language that not everyone speaks, so the audience is specialized, so much so that certain things can be left unsaid.  Since everyone can read prose, the requirements change.  In some ways, this causes writers to take fewer chances, because those chances can fail in big ways.

My evolution as both a reader and a writer has lead me to embracing just how essential comic books are to me creatively.  I have my issues with short stories.  I enjoy a good novel from time to time.  I read a lot of YA books.  But the one staple is, and has always been, comic books.

It's kind of a hard sell, too.  I do a lot of things for the sake of my writing, all of which my lovely and talented wife puts up with.  But it can probably be hard to believe when I tell her I need to order more graphic novels because I'm working on a new book.  It's like saying we should buy a bigger TV or an Xbox for my writing.  It's a particularly hard sell given the current economy; spending money on comics seems excessive.  But the fact is I get more out of comic books than I do out of any prose material.

I like to think I'm taking a comic book aesthetic and applying it to a prose world.  This isn't exactly groundbreaking by any means, but that's what interests me.  In a world where our bookstores are filled almost exclusively with non-fiction and YA, a little magical realism goes a long way.

If I look to comic books for tone, I look to prose for style.  Hopefully the resulting hybrid is something people enjoy.