Story Concepts & Development for Novels, Comics, Games, Film and TV

Believe in the Vision

Early in my career, I came up with an original idea for a comic book. It didn’t feature muscle-bound men in tights or capes. It didn’t have nefarious mustachioed villains plotting to destroy Manhattan. No, I wanted to write a comic book based on ancient (Irish) Celtic myth – a fantasy comic.

I pitched the idea to my publisher, to which he famously responded, “Fantasy doesn’t sell in comics.”

At the time, I didn’t understand his point of view. Why would he want to publish the same thing everyone else was publishing? Couldn’t he see the potential of the story?

I took the criticism hard, but wasn’t ready to give up on it. Several weeks later I took the project to a close friend who was also an amazing comic book artist. Like me, he had a love for both fantasy and Celtic myth. So we conspired to produce a piece of art that we hoped would help sell the idea to the publisher.

I remember seeing that first finished piece. It wasn’t just good – it was stunning (and remains one of my favorite pieces of art from the title). A week later we reapproached my publisher with the same pitch and the new art piece.

This time, we got his attention.

It still wasn’t an easy sell – the publisher wasn’t keen on the idea of a female heroic lead either, but eventually we got the project greenlit and were on our way.

Of course, I wish I could say it was my forward-thinking brilliance that was responsible for the success that followed that project, but in truth, we had very good timing. Xena Warrior Princess and Hercules were just taking off on television, and the Lord of the Rings films were in pre-development.

I wasn’t following a trend. But I did benefit from one.

I’ve seen similar struggles in the film industry. Fifteen years ago, no one would even take you call if they knew you wanted to pitch a superhero film. And then Spiderman and Batman Begins broke through, educating both studios and the general public that comic book stories weren’t just for children.

The industry said no one would come to see an R-rated comedy. Then came Hangover and 40-year Old Virgin.

Five years ago, you would be laughed out the door if you wanted to pitch something sci-fi. Then Avatar came along and obliterated all records. And just last month, Hunger Games took in more than $200 million worldwide.

How is it that these supposed “underdogs” are able succeed?

Because the work is good and the storytellers take themselves seriously.

The demand for your work will grow and shrink depending on the market, so you can expect there to be struggles more often than not as you look to get projects sold. Not everyone to understand your vision.

I got lucky when Alien Confidential fell into my lap. They were willing to let me play my vision out.

Kudos to Namco for bucking the trends, and for taking a chance on these once-forgotten titles. And for giving each creative team such freedom on each project.

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