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Showing posts by: Steve Englehart click to see Steve Englehart's profile
Fri
Aug 13 2010 11:29am

From Comics to Cosmic, Part 10: It Will Always Be the Same Old Story

“From Comics to Cosmic” is a series from noted comic book writer/artist Steve Englehart. Read about the intense and often unbelievable ups and downs of his experience working in the comic industry. Previous installments of “From Comics to Cosmic” can be found here.

So I used to write comics, and then I wrote a novel called The Point Man that Dell published...and then I designed video games, and wrote more comics, and live-action TV, and animation…and there was some twenty-five years before I came back to novels. With a real-time sequel to The Point Man called The Long Man that Tor published. Now, why did I put twenty-five years between novels?

[Read more]

Thu
Aug 12 2010 9:56am

From Comics to Cosmic, Part 9: Quit Cramming Concepts Into Comic Movies!

“From Comics to Cosmic” is a new series from noted comic book writer/artist Steve Englehart. Read about the intense and often unbelievable ups and downs of his experience working in the comic industry. Check back daily for more of his exploits! Previous installments of “From Comics to Cosmic” can be found here.

As I mentioned earlier, one day I figured out how to make comics characters work for the general audience, by making them full-grown human beings rather than cartoons. A film producer named Michael Uslan said “I finally see how to make superhero films for adults,” optioned my Batman stories, and started down the road to the first Batman movie, the one with Jack Nicholson as the Joker. I was eventually brought in to rework the scripts generated by actual screenwriters, but when it went before the cameras, the characters I’d created all had their names changed and the story was credited to DC Comics.

Unfortunately, that’s a typical Hollywood story, but except for the name changes, the film was very true to my characters, so I was happy enough in a writerly way. It does, however, explain why I’ve had a conflicted reaction to the floodgate of comics movies it generated. It’s kind of like the Wright Brothers, in a way: before I did it, it had never been done, and now everybody’s doing it.

[Read more]

Wed
Aug 11 2010 12:01pm

From Comics to Cosmic, Part 8: In Which Captain America Loses His Freedom

“From Comics to Cosmic” is a new series from noted comic book writer/artist Steve Englehart. Read about the intense and often unbelievable ups and downs of his experience working in the comic industry. Check back daily for more of his exploits! Previous installments of “From Comics to Cosmic” can be found here.

When I started writing my first monthly comic, Captain America, my editor said to be “We expect you to make this book sell and meet your deadlines. If you can do that, you can keep doing it. If you can’t, we’ll fire and you and get someone else.” That was the sum total of Marvel’s editorial policy at the time. If you could meet those two requirements, you had carte blanche with how you met them. I was encouraged to be as creative as possible and given complete freedom to follow my muse in the land of popularity.

[Read more]

Tue
Aug 10 2010 12:31pm

From Comics to Cosmic, Part 7: Working in the Industry, Then and Now

The comics industry today is very different from the industry I joined back in the day. It is, I suppose, a victim of its own success. Back then, every Marvel title sold 500,000 to 750,000 copies, every month. Today 50,000 is a phenomenal sale. Back then, comics cost 20¢, 25¢, 35¢. Today they’re $3.99, but the rates paid the creators have escalated as well, so the profits are less. Back then, comics were printed on newsprint with a four-color process. Today they’re printed on slick stock with full Photoshop color, which also eats into the profits.

Back then, comics was a genre. If you were into comics, you knew comics, but if you weren’t, you knew that they were low-level trash—not from personal experience, but because that was the commonly accepted label. Three-quarters of a million people read them, and that was the entire audience.

[The transition occurs...]

Mon
Aug 9 2010 11:29am

From Comics to Cosmic, Part 6: The Secret Marvel/DC Crossover Event

“From Comics to Cosmic” is a new series from noted comic book writer/artist Steve Englehart. Read about the intense and often unbelievable ups and downs of his experience working in the comic industry. Check back daily for more of his exploits! Previous installments of “From Comics to Cosmic” can be found here.

So there we all were, all of us comics people, in the New York area. I continued to live up in Connecticut, though soon enough I moved from Milford (2 hours out) to Stamford (43 minutes), and I spent many weekends crashed on some Manhattan couch. Now and again, there would be conventions, and some of us would get way out of town for the weekend, but conventions were still in their infancy. The now-Gargantuan San Diego convention took place in one hotel back then.

But the real high point of the year for some of us was the Rutland Halloween Parade.

[Read more]

Fri
Aug 6 2010 12:16pm

From Comics to Cosmic, Part 5: Stan Lee and Thor By Flashlight

“From Comics to Cosmic” is a new series from noted comic book writer/artist Steve Englehart. Read about the intense and often unbelievable ups and downs of his experience working in the comic industry. Check back daily for more of his exploits! Previous installments of “From Comics to Cosmic” can be found here.

Stan Lee is a living legend (he’s 87 at this writing, and you can see him hale and hearty doing a cameo in every Marvel Comics movie, as well as a recent Iron Man/Dr Pepper commercial). He was the nephew of the publisher and was made the editor in 1941, before the age of 19. That may have been nepotism, but he held that job until 1972 and guided the company to everything it is now. The job required everything an editor had to do in addition to the comic writing.

[Blackouts and bullpens]

Thu
Aug 5 2010 12:41pm

From Comics to Cosmic, Part 4: Comics Make You a Better Writer Faster Than Anything Else

“From Comics to Cosmic” is a new series from noted comic book writer/artist Steve Englehart. Read about the intense and often unbelievable ups and downs of his experience working in the comic industry. Check back daily for more of his exploits! Previous installments of “From Comics to Cosmic” can be found here.

The great thing about writing comics books is the fact that they’re monthly. That means that you have to come up with a complete story every month for every book you’re writing. A working comics writer will often write four a month, so that means that you have to come up with a complete story every week.

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Wed
Aug 4 2010 1:03pm

From Comics to Cosmic, Part 3: Pterodactyls Play Ptheir Part

From Comics to Cosmic” is a new series from noted comic book writer/artist Steve Englehart. Read about the intense and often unbelievable ups and downs of his experience working in the comic industry. Check back daily for more of his exploits! Previous installments of “From Comics to Cosmic” can be found here.

Last time, I was telling you how I ended up on staff with the dominant comics company. The job didn’t pay much—about $105 a week, or something like that—so Marvel threw freelance work in my direction.

It began as artwork because I was working at being an artist, but then, one day, the assistant editor I was filling in for sent back a script he was supposed to do. I don’t know why he did—it was only a 6-page filler for a generic fantasy comic—but I guess summertime away from Manhattan had slowed him down. Anyway, since I was filling in for him on one thing, Marvel figured I might as well fill in for him on another thing, and they offered me that story.

[Read more]

Tue
Aug 3 2010 12:04pm

From Comics to Cosmic, Part 2: Missed Connections

“From Comics to Cosmic” is a new series from noted comic book writer/artist Steve Englehart. Read about the intense and often unbelievable ups and downs of his experience working in the comic industry. Check back daily for more of his exploits!

Last time, I was telling you how a stewardess living in the apartment above that of a Marvel assistant editor was murdered, with a result of that being that the assistant editor’s wife insisted that they get out of the city for a while. He called me and asked if I’d fill in for him for six weeks. I was living two hours out of the city then, so my regimen involved getting up at 6, getting to work at 9, getting home around 8, eating, sleeping, rinse and repeat. Only a young guy hungry for his chosen career would ever do anything so stupid, and that would be me.

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Mon
Aug 2 2010 1:09pm

From Comics to Cosmic, Part 1: It Begins with Murder

“From Comics to Cosmic” is a new series from noted comic book writer/artist Steve Englehart. Read about the intense and often unbelievable ups and downs of his experience working in the comic industry. Check back daily for more of his exploits!

 °  °  °

I have no idea if this is common among writers, but in my case, there are extant examples of my creating books as a child by figuring out how the pages would fold together and then typing (on a typewriter) as necessary to make it come out right. In other words, I wasn’t satisfied just writing a story; I wanted a book. After that, you’d think I’d grow up to be a publisher, but I settled (if that’s the word) for being a writer.

On second thought, maybe that is the word, because I wanted to be an artist.

[Read more of today's installment!]