Thursday, December 30, 2010

John Layman on Pitching - CBLDF 12/18/10

Rob Anderson, Panda Dog Press publisher, and writer of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit, attended John Layman's workshop, The Secrets of Pitching Comics, at the CBLDF offices in New York City on December 18, 2010. Here's his report:

Photo taken by CBLDFSo, what would make me do a *second* road trip from Virginia to New York City just two weeks after the last one? How about John Layman, writer of Chew and former Wildstorm Editor, talking about pitching? Yep, it was time to hit the road once again, so Joe Sergi showed up at my door around 5:00am and we headed north. (Photo at left is from the CBLDF Twitter feed.)

I had already had a "Layman-filled week." (Wow, that sounded weird.) John, along with Rob Guillory, had been a guest at the live, online Comic Creators Workshop Book Club, on Tuesday, December 14th discussing Chew, Volume 1. So I had spent the early part of the week reading Chew and preparing a Powerpoint for the session, and then spent Tuesday night in the discussion. Hearing John and Rob speak Tuesday night cemented that the trip to NYC would be worth it.

The class was held at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund offices, and there were about 15 people attending, which allowed for a lot of interaction. John is a very laid back teacher, checking his outline on his cell phone as he went, and giving us straight talk on how to pitch. He was realistic, open, and clearly had a lot of experience from both the editorial and freelance writer sides of the table. He even shared the actual pitch document he used for Chew, which in itself was invaluable. He also talked mechanics like what should be in the pitch document, where and how to pitch, and even important details about how to structure deals with your collaborators.

What was really inspiring was hearing how he had pursued Chew as a project for six long years. For the most part, it was considered somewhat of a joke amongst his friends and colleagues -- "the bird flu cannibal book." He finally decided he had to publish it himself and everyone thought he would lose his ass on the book (with the possible exception of Image, who agreed to publish it). Considering how successful the quirky and unique book has been, this is definitely one of those stories that any comics creator loves to hear.

It was a great session, and Joe and I once again got a chance to catch up with our Comics Experience colleagues, Dan Rivera, Bill Yurkas, and Janine Frederick in the class. After the workshop, we all had a late lunch (along with Eric Drumm and Christopher Murphy who joined us--all pictured at left), and we even hit Jim Hanley's Universe and did some shopping before starting the long trek home. We made it back by around 11pm; not bad at all.

Bottom line: if you get the chance to attend a workshop like this with John Layman, don't miss it. You'll rarely find anyone who will be more open and honest with you about the business of comics.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Renderwrx/Center of Attention Interview!

Rob Anderson, writer of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit, was just interviewed by Paul D. Houston of Renderwrx for the new Center of Attention feature.

In the interview, Rob shared the "in progress" cover by DaFu Yu for the new anthology series, Great Zombies in History, coming in the Spring of 2011 from Elevator Pitch Press. Rob is both editing the book and contributing a story.

Rob also talked about the Comic Creators Workshop, the Comic Geek Speak SuperShow, Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit and more.

Check it out here:

Interview with Renderwrx -- Center of Attention

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rob Anderson's Interview with the Washington City Paper

Rob Anderson, writer of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit was just interviewed by the Washington City Paper.

Rob got to chat about Animal Control SCU, Comics Experience and the Comic Creators Workshop, a new project Rob is editing (and contributing a story to) called Great Zombies in History, and more!

Check it out here:

Interview with the Washington City Paper

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Paul Levitz on Plotting - MoCCA 12/6/10

Rob Anderson, Panda Dog Press publisher, and writer of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit, attended the Paul Levitz class, The Craft of Comics Writing: The Long and Short of Plotting, at MoCCA in New York City on December 6, 2010. Here's his report:

When I heard that Paul Levitz would be teaching a MoCCA Master Class on plotting, I knew I had to find a way to attend.

Thus was hatched a crazy scheme in which fellow Comics Experience alum, Joe Sergi, and I would make a single day, round-trip, road trip from Virginia up to New York City. Our plan eventually settled around a combination of car, Amtrak, subways, and taxis...and started at around 7am in the morning, and didn't finish up until after 2am the next morning.

It was worth it.

Paul Levitz is the legendary writer of the Legion of Super-Heroes, particularly The Great Darkness Saga. Twenty years after its release, The Great Darkness Saga is sitting at #5 on the New York Times best-seller list for Hardcover Graphic Books (as of December 2010). Paul's also writing the current run on Legion of Super-Heroes, which demonstrates he still has the magic when it comes to plotting, even after a "break" in writing to...y' DC Comics in one capacity or another for many years.

The class ran for two hours on Monday night and was standing room only. Chairs had to be added to the back of the room as Paul got started. Clearly, Joe and I weren't the only ones interested in hearing Paul's thoughts on writing. In fact, almost the entire front row was packed with Comics Experience colleagues who had traveled from Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York to hear Paul speak--including Janine Frederick, Bill Yurkas, and Dan Rivera. (Pictured above, Joe Sergi, in front of Jim Hanley's Universe. It was so cold that even the Silver Surfer in the window had on a coat!)

Paul explained that he'd be providing five tools that we could use to improve and organize our own writing, specifically with regard to plotting, and he delivered! From beat sheets to discussing how he flow charts his multi-issue story arcs, we heard from a master on how to plan out our stories. I walked away with a lot of ideas, and some personal homework, that I'll definitely be applying to my own writing.

Paul was also very gracious (and patient) in answering many questions from the audience, even after class ended. And at least one attendee had brought the 20-pound 75 Years of DC Comics book for Paul to sign; an idea I'd briefly entertained...before thinking about the toll of dragging that monster tome throughout a 19-hour, multi-state trek.

Having seen Paul speak about writing both at a panel at NYCC and at MoCCA, I can highly recommend his class for aspiring comic book writers. Paul is also apparently teaching courses at colleges in the NYC area, so if you live nearby, you should check them out!

On the personal front, my whole time in NYC was a blast. Joe and I had lunch with Bill Yurkas at Island Burgers & Shakes, then we did a geek tour of the city for a couple hours, hitting the new Disney Story, Jim Hanley's Universe, Forbidden Planet, and Strand Bookstore, before meeting the remainder of our Comics Experience crew (including Comics Experience alum and Zenescope artist, DaFu Yu) for dinner. Our initial dinner spot turned out to be closed for a private party, but after a rather frigid trek in search of food, we still had a great time catching up with everyone. I'm already looking forward to the next time I'll be in NYC!

-- Rob Anderson