Posts Tagged ‘nigtwing’

A very long time ago, I wrote some comics: three stories in Trailer Park of Terror, and one issue of X-Men Unlimited. Well, half of an issue.

Well, that’s quite not fair, to me. I’ve written more comics stories, including a graphic novel; Those stories, however, were the stories that were published.

Actually, here’s a quick ‘story behind the stories’ tale.

In the latter story, I got to write some X-Men characters, which was fun. And I’m still pleased with the story, even though there was an… incident involving the final panel.

At the time, Juggernaut was trying to be a good guy, and Cyclops was headmaster of Xavier’s school. The story explained how Juggernaut ended up on staff; there’s more to it than that, including Wolverine ‘testing’ Juggernaut’s temper, in every sense of the word. The tale ended up with Cyclops and Juggernaut shaking hands.

Just that, with appropriate word balloons.

Except that’s not what saw print.

Why it didn’t see print wasn’t my fault, nor the artist’s – the incredibly talented Travel Foreman, who made my writing look good. It was a… mistake… by Marvel.

When I got the pencils through, from Marvel, there were individual panels where I was grinning like a loon.

Not only because of the quality of the art, and how Travel had precisely got what I’d intended to convey when writing the script, but also because he’d drawn some additional things into the panel, things that were so obviously gags that they would be (and were) removed when it was inked and coloured: the occasional humorous word balloon, for example.

The reason I know they were removed was because they were removed; both the inked and coloured pages I saw didn’t have the silly stuff in them.

And one of the bits of silliness ‘gags’ was a sparkly heart behind the final panel, which was a shot of a handshake between Scott Summers and Cain Marko.

Here’s the unlettered, but inked and coloured panel, as sent to me by Marvel:

So all was well and good.

And then the comic came out… and the final panel, as it saw print?

Hrm. Yes. Neither Travel nor I were, as you’ll appreciate, exactly overjoyed at the re-appearance of that damned heart….

And more than one reviewer said that they loved the story, but ug, that last panel…

In the interests of fairness, though, I have to say that Stephanie Moore, the editor on that book, was an utter delight to work with throughout and I can only imagine that someone else in production had a complete brainfart when they put that damned heart back in…

You know, I don’t have many “behind the scenes” stories about my short career in comics (for obvious reasons), but I think you’ll agree that’s a doozy…

(As for why they are shaking with their left hands, well, that’s partly mine, and partly Travel’s fault. The panel description was ambiguous at best, as I recall, and Travel drew it with them shaking hands right-handed. it was only afterwards that we realised that the panel had to be flipped in order for the word balloons to be able to be read in the right order…)

I’m still quite happy with the opening page though.

Anyway, back to the main thread of this post.

There are loads of comics characters that I’d have loved to have written stories for.

Sometimes, I’ll admit, it’s because I wanted to write “a Batman story” or “a Superman story”. Which is absolutely the wrong way to approach it. Unless you’re hired to write them, obviously. As a general rule, if I have a story to write, the idea comes first then ‘who needs to be in this story’.

But sometimes it’s been me accepting my own fun challenge: “can I write a story that’s absolutely a Batman story or a Superman or a Captain America or a Fantastic Four story that doesn’t betray the basic tenets of the character… but that DC or Marvel would never in a million years publish?

(Odd that I’ve never, however, managed to come up with an idea for Batman that would qualify for both, to my satisfaction, but it’s surprisingly easy to do it for Superman. I wonder if it’s because in order to do so, it’s easier to come up with a workable story in which Superman’s circumstances are ostensibly permanently changed than it is for Batman.)

I’ve written some just for fun; never been submitted; occasionally I’ve referred to them as examples that’d never go anywhere, but mostly, just for fun.

But here are two WFH/licensed characters I’d actually want to pitch stories for. (No detailed story ideas in what follows, for all sorts of reasons, including, I guess, legal.)

While in no way at all denigrating the fantastic work done by the creators of some fantastic comics over the decades with Dick Grayson, I think I’ve only rarely enjoyed comics where he’s the lead character.

Mainly because no one seems to know what to do with him. An obvious step when taking over a book or a character is to change things. Well, writer after writer has changed where he lives, what aspect of his character on which to concentrate, who his friends are, and – so I understand in the latest iteration – his name and personal history. After being shot in the head, he’s come to, groggy about the details, thrown away much of what previously mattered to him, and now goes by Ric Grayson.

As the ‘role’ of Robin has been taken on by first one character then another, then another, DC took the decision to make each of those who’ve worn the ‘R’ specialise in one thing or another. Tim Drake was almost as good a detective as Batman, but nowhere near as accomplished in other spheres. Damien Wayne is almost as good a fighter as Batman, but… Jason Todd was almost as, perhaps more, ruthless as Batman but…

And Dick Grayson retrospectively became the superlative athlete (understandable given his in story background), who could fight quite well, and was a better-than-ok detective.

That never made sense to me. He was the first trained by Batman, and Wayne would have tried his damndest to give him every skill at the best level.

There’s an old one-shot (done as an issue in the Titans Solo run, as I recall) in which Batman is captured by a bad guy… and Dick Grayson finds him… by being smart, by being clever, by being… a detective. Another issue – early after Tim Drake was introduced – had Grayson training Drake in how to observe. Just that: how to… notice things.

I can get that DC want to keep Batman the best (in the Batman circle of books, anyway) at everything, but with due respect to the others who’ve worn the Robin outfit, the Dick Grayson I’d want to write would perforce inherently acknowledge Batman’s superior skills in most things, sure, but would go out of his way to train himself so that no one else would easily make that mistake.

I’d want to write a Nightwing who combines all the skills he learned, and just do the job differently. He could effectively be a clone of Batman, but he chooses not to. Using all the skills but just presenting in a different way to the observer. For the past however long it’s been, he’s not had that choice.

Modesty Blaise
Yeah, the big one, the single character I’ve wanted to write since I first read her stories. Also the single character over whom a superbly talented writer friend of mine – a lovely, kind woman – would cold-bloodedly, and with forensic skill, maim me in order to deservedly get the job herself.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see new, clever, fun stories about Modesty Blaise, Willie Garvin, Steve and Diana, Sir Gerald… and I’m sure KellySue would write far better stories than I could even dream of. (If you’ve not read her work, you’re missing out. I’d unreservedly recommend Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly without hesitation.)

But gods yes, would I love to have the chance to write the characters, to create a gloriously depraved yet entirely logically consistent set of bad guys for her and Willie Gavin to encounter, fight, and defeat.

There’s so much unexplored history there, so much you could delve into while telling a ‘current’ story, so many ways you could who just who the characters are and why they matter, to each other and to the reader. and, my heavens, I’d love to write the relationship between Willie Garvin and his Princess.

Besides, hopefully, we’d get more Jamie McKelvie art to salivate over, and that’s never a bad thing.

Oddly, I saw the kitsch 1960s Modesty Blaise movie was on telly the other night. Its’ unremittingly awful 99.4% of the time, but I’d quite forgotten that at one point Monica Vitti dresses up as Modesty from the strip: black outfit, chignon, bow, quiver. She looked fantastic in the classic outfit.

It genuinely made me sad all over again that they’d not, that they’ve never, made that movie.

And that they probably never will. (I’ve not seen the Tarantino My Name Is Modesty movie, which is a kind of prequel, taking place before she meets Willie Gavin, nor the 1982 Modesty Blaise US tv pilot, where both Modesty and Willie are… Americans. Yeah… No.)

Something else, tomorrow.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.