Writers: The drummers of the comic book industry.

Writers: The drummers of the comic book industry.
In: advice, thoughts

Greetings everyone,

First, about Torchbearer. I’ll do an updated post of where we are on Saturday, with images and whatnot. All I can say right now is that we’re in the coloring stage and we’re progressing fine. If all goes well, we’ll be sending the issue to the letterer right afterwards and issue 2 will be in the can, as it were.

Now, onto other things.

Several nights ago, I was walking around New York City, talking to Enrica from Red Stylo Press about Torchbearer: the plans we have and where we are right now. As we were walking the Village, a fleeting thought came to mind:

Writers are the drummers of the comic book industry.

While we spent part of the night somewhat explaining how this thought was true, and the rest assigning roles to this fictional rock band (so you know, Pencilers are lead signers, Inkers and Colorists are guitarists, Letterers are bass players and the Editor is the Manager), it didn’t really go further than that. But the thought was still there, burrowed among script ideas and random trivia.

Writers are the drummers of the comic book industry.

Here’s why: writers bring forth the essence of the comic book. More importantly, they carry the beat of the story.The writer determines the pacing, much like a drummer would with a song. Without the drummer, there’s no one there to keep the music in check and synchronized and writers have a similar role as well. Writers and drummers are the backbone upon which everything rests in their respective creative endeavors.Think about it: Does an Alan Moore comic have the same pace as a Brian Wood comic? Does a Stan Lee comic? Todd McFarlane’s? Robert Kirkman’s? Jimmy Palmiotti’s? Neil Gaiman’s? No. And that’s a testament to both the writer’s style and to the rhythm he’s set.

The ability to maintain a rhythm, a flow, to know when to heighten the tension, when to ease up, when to lay out 5 panels instead of 2, is something new comic book writers struggle with ( and something I flat out admit to having problems with at times). In part, this task is alleviated by the penciler, as it’ll be he (or she) who creates the layouts, and their suggestions should always be taken into account. But even so, you as a writer must be the first to paint the picture in your artist’s mind, and consequently give him (or her) an understanding for the pace you are striving for.

Another thing that the comic book process has in common with any musical group is that they are greater than the sum of their parts. Yes, pencilers get all the praise much like lead singers, letterers get no love (much like bass players), and some writers are rock stars (just like Phil Collins, Keith Moon, Tommy Lee and Dave Grohl), but at the end of it all: it doesn’t matter. They all need each other to make something great. And as new writers, one needs to internalize that the comic is a product that’s greater than the sum of their parts, not just theirs and theirs alone.

Otherwise, you should consider writing a novel.

That’s it for now, everyone. I’ll update you on Torchbearer on Saturday once everything’s been squared away tomorrow. Again, thank you all for being so patient with us.


-Nick D.

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