Monday, August 23, 2010

Oh, Hollywood

So, one day you're sitting in Kansas and you have an idea to write a graphic novel (a long comic book) about the Union Station massacre, and the next day you're sitting in a hotel bar in Hollywood, getting drunk and wondering what the meeting with the directors will be like the next day.

It's not that simple, of course, and it doesn't really happen overnight. Looking back, though, it can almost seem that sudden.

I want to write graphic novels. It's what I'm passionate about. I want to write big fat comic books about things that speak to me... about people that I know and who I feel are interesting enough that other people should know them too. The thing is, it's hard to make a living doing this. There are folks who manage it. Some of them manage it spectacularly. In general, though, the books don't sell well enough to support their creators. We need some help. The most conspicuous form this help takes is that of a check from a movie studio. And so, while I just want to write my little comic book thingies, I end up riding the highs and lows of the movie business.

Some days I feel lucky about the way my Hollywood dealings have gone. Some days, not so much. On my more cynical days I can't get over the fact that I had a brilliant idea for a film and then executed that idea very well (I'm very much my own worst critic, but I do believe that Capote In Kansas is a very good book) only to miss out on reaping any financial benefit from the movie business by a few months. On my sunnier days, I rejoice in the fact that my first graphic novel (Union Station) still has hopes in Hollywood and the fact that my third graphic novel (Ciudad) has been optioned and led me to that hotel bar in West Hollywood.

It is both grand and depressing that the comic book business is so tied to Hollywood. It is the source of much bitching and hand-wringing, but the fact is that comic books are wildly unpopular in this country, and we need the help. I'm like any other poor bastard. I want things to be easier for my family. I want to be free of stress about how next month's bills are going to be paid. So, I eagerly jump onto the little comic book moon that orbits the movie business. I cross every digit I can manage to cross when the wonderful people I work with release a great movie like Scott Pilgrim. I suffer when the world isn't cool enough to go see Scott Pilgrim in droves. I wait by the phone. I wonder if the stories I'm passionate about telling will appeal to some faceless studio executive. I wait for the mailman, who is surely bringing my big fat Hollywood check today!

In short, I do the work I want to do. I make graphic novels. I make them on my own terms, for the most part. And then, I set my gaze on the western horizon and... wait. Such is the comic biz!



=shane white= said...

You weave a dark and unnatural tale of love and deception and you name it the entertainment business.

Dear god man, get a grip on yourself!!! :)

I wish you well in your dealings.
Just keep making them, you're bound to find the riches of imaginative freedom far outweigh those of monetary gain.

Though the latter does help. But nothing good ever came out of a doing anything easy.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I read your comic books and am preparing to write some reviews on them. I also saw a feature on Comic Book News, I think, about your Upcoming Zorro/Lone Ranger limited series. I was, and still very much am, a huge fan of Zorro (Though I must admit I watched in Spanish as a child in El Salvador). I don't know much about the Lone Ranger (Except for the fact that I read The Lone Ranger and Tonto's Fistfight in Heaven) but I can't wait to read your take on the characters. Kato is incredible to read every week and definitely one of the books that I want to follow this year. Thanks for continuing to write about heroes who inspire us to be better.

- Arnoldo

PS - Tonto, in my country, is a word used to describe someone stupid or idiotic. Peace!