My daughter won’t stop singing “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” And you know what? I’m cool with it. When she doesn’t know the words, she makes them up and she is infinitely more creative and clever than I will ever be.
We’ve done it, friends. We’ve reached the holidays. Congratulations! You made it through another year despite society threatening to tear itself apart every nine minutes. This will be the last issue of Writer’s Writer for the year, so let’s go out on a big note!
But before we get into what’s new and exciting…
What happened last issue?
In the last issue, I discussed (complained about?) being stuck in a creative rut. And between when I started writing the last issue and when I finished it, I had fresh the perspective and direction I so desperately needed. Because slumps don’t last forever. It only takes one exciting idea to get you back in the saddle.
In this issue:
The weeks that were!
The Weeks that Were!
The holidays are a busy time in the Locher household. Never mind the fact that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day are ridiculous close to one another (seriously, who do we talk to about changing that?), but my wife also had a birthday right in the middle of everything. The end of the year becomes a blur of family, food, gifts, traveling, and celebration. Adding another wrinkle to the schedule is my work trip to Las Vegas in just over a week. It’s gonna be a jam-packed holiday! I’m tired just thinking about it.
But let’s get to why I’m really here today, crowding up your inbox. I want to tell you about…
In the last issue I gave a little tease of something… a project that clicked into place and removed me—jaws of life style—from the creative funk that had been hanging over my head for months.
I thought it might be fun to chronicle this project as it comes together, providing a peek behind the curtain of what the ol’ writing career looks like beneath all the glamour. (Hah!)
I decided to make a comic book.
Wait? That’s the big news? I know, I know… I already make comics. But this one is different.
Rather than simply create a new comic series, I wanted to try to crack the graphic books market. Did you know that children, from elementary to high school are reading more graphic novels than ever before? While kids aren’t necessarily reading the superheroes that Marvel and DC continuously shove down our throats, they are intimately familiar with titles such as Captain Underpants, Dog Man, Wings of Fire, The Last Kids on Earth, and the many wonderful works of writers such as Raina Telgemeier and Molly Knox Ostertag.
Throughout the past few years, I’ve held many discussions with artist friends about creating something for this space. While those conversations produced great enthusiasm, for one reason or another, those projects never went any further than the initial concept stage.
Kids books—the middle grade and YA market—is a tough space. It requires one to not only write something worthwhile that a young reader will actually want to read, but since these books fall under the umbrella of “traditional publishing,” one must also to successfully pitch the project to literary agents in hopes that they will then sell the book to a publisher and get those books into stores and book fairs, allowing the creators and amass great wealth and notoriety.
There’s a serious market for these books. Publishers want them. I have friends in the literary world who have told me for years that I should make a comic for the mainstream market. And me, in all of my infinite wisdom, well… I ignored them.
Why did I ignore the advice of industry professionals? Wow, that is a great question, dear reader! It probably had something to do with pride, or lack of interest in younger markets, or whatever other excuse I came up with at the time. Maybe I thought I was… better than that? Above that? Too mature for that? (Says the guy whose most recognized work is a comic about idiotic Area 51 employees that’s full of totally immature humor.)
Things changed when I had a child, as things tend to do. Suddenly, creating things for younger audiences didn’t feel like punching down, or selling out. If anything, I started viewing it as a way for my daughter to become familiar with my work earlier in her life and hopefully want to keep me around. What can I say? I’m a writer. I crave validation… even from people who can’t tie their own shoes.
But what makes this time different after trying to create stories for this market in fits and starts? It’s all in the collaborator.
The truth is, I’ve been so so sooooooooo fortunate when it comes to my comic book collaborators. All of the artists I’ve worked with over the past decade of making funny books have become friends. I wish them happy birthday. I keep up with their lives. I admire their talents and am thankful they share them with me. I love working with people whose enthusiasm is infectious and makes me want to create better stories, and be more innovative, and try new things.
This time, I ran my idea of creating a graphic book by Aleksandar Jovic, the artist for my sci-fi/comedy series Unit 44. You see, Aleks and I have a million things in common despite living on opposite sides of planet Earth. We’re the same age. We were both musicians in our younger days. We both have young kids. (Well, I have one kid and he has, I dunno, a dozen?) We both think the stupidest things are funny. He makes me laugh so hard that I’ve shot coffee out through my nose. When I make stuff, I want to involve my friends. That’s just how I roll. I wanted to involve Aleks if he was interested because A) he’s super collaborative and FUN to make comics with, and B) his art is perfect for any audience, be they kids, teens, or adults. The dude has amazing skills, and for whatever reason, he has been sharing them with me for the past year or so. For that I am grateful.
So, I emailed Aleks and was like, “Hey dude, let’s come up with a bunch of ideas and then start pitching them!” And that’s what we did. I brought two pretty fleshed out story ideas to the table and Aleks tossed in three ideas of his own (he’s always trying to outdo me). We picked a favorite and agreed to start there—that project’s codename being The Oddity.
I thought it would be fun to share the process of developing this project with you because, what else am I gonna talk about? My favorite notebooks? Yeesh. That sounds boring.
I took the idea Aleks and I chose and wrote a short summary—an elevator pitch, if you will. Then I wrote a long summary (like, overly long, but it shall be trimmed) featuring the major story beats. Because when you pitch a book, that’s what you need. A short summary and a long one. And some other stuff.
While I’ve pitched traditional novels to literary agents before, (and been rejected, hard) I’ve never pitched a comic/graphic novel (let’s be honest—they’re the same thing) to anyone outside of the comic industry. I reached out to some pals who have ventured down that path, and paired with the research I did online, learned that not only should I include a partial script in my pitch packet, but also some finished pages as well. A little over a week ago I wrote the first 18 pages of the book, which Aleks will draw up as his schedule allows, along with crafting some rudimentary character designs. We’ll make everything look all presentable and professional—finished pages complete with colors and letters—and then send it off to those literary agents who might be a good match for the tone and content of the book.
Once we’re pitching this book, I’ll shuffle my time between writing the full script and expanding on our next idea. We’ll throw stuff at the wall (at least 5 stuffs) until something sticks.
But where’s the summaries? Where’s the script? What’s the project about? Well, I gotta protect the IP in these earlier moments, but I can share that the story blends science-fiction, horror, and comedy. If we make headway with this crazy idea, I will eventually share all the background details in hopes it can serve as a learning process for the many burgeoning writers I that I know are also subscribers.
The Oddity Progress - December:
Short Summary - COMPLETE
Long Summary - COMPLETE
Sample Script Pages - COMPLETE
Character Designs - IN PROCESS
Sample Art Pages - IN PROCESS
So, stay tuned! I’ll continue to drop updates on this project each newsletter (provided something new happens), and you can bask with us in our glories and point and laugh at our failures.
Issue #7 will be available for preorder from Alterna Comics on January 11, 2023! Hit the link below the teaser image to be reminded when the IndieGoGo campaign launches! (Expect a special edition on this issue next month because this issue has such a cool story behind it!)
Issue #8 is still done and sitting quietly, waiting to be released in (hopefully) Spring 2023.
Issue #9 is completely drawn, and is currently being colored by Andrew Pate!
Series artist Aleks Jovic is already several pages deep into this issue #10! Things happen! Scary things! Funny things! Ridiculous things! Things like this…
Unit Forty-Four Fancast!
If you follow me on social media, you may have seen a recent Twitter thread wherein I revealed which actors I would choose to play the characters from Unit 44 if the comic were adapted to film/TV/animation.
Hit that link below to read the entire thread and see my casting choices. Now, keep in mind that I only created these characters and world, but please feel free to tell me how wrong my choices were!
While I have you, I’m curious: What’s the last comic book or graphic novel you read? What was the first comic you ever read? And if your answer is N/A, then why aren’t you reading comics?
I’m Wes Locher. I’ve been writing professionally for a decade (I’m gonna have to update that number soon!). I write comic books, video games, fiction, and nonfiction. I write whatever seems fun, cool, and inspiring. I also love helping other writers to demystify the process of making a living through words. This is my newsletter.
So excited for you on this journey! Have you gone to writing conferences? We've got one here in ATL that is sort of a big deal. Getting agents to bite is difficult these days with an industry becoming more and more money hungry. BUT there's still hope for anything to happen.
I loved Captain Underpants and T-Rex growing up. Those were really cool graphic novels... wait, was T-Rex a graphic novel or a regular book? Either way, there's definitely a market to dip your toe in.
So I was never a comics kid growing up. I never had enough money to consistently buy comics and my parents thought they were a waste of time and money. So I think my first comic I actually received in a gift bag at a friends birthday party. It was a Batman detective comic where the Dark Knight was investigating a series of grisly murders at the hands (er paws) of an escaped Siberian Tiger or something like that.
These days I still don't have many comics, but due to my Star Wars fandom, I do have a chunk of those. I can't remember my last one, but I have preordered the combined book of issues 1-5 of the Marvel Kenobi series. That should be arriving in a week or so. So I know what my next read will be! And the Oddity sounds great!