In a comic I call Becoming Super there is a town inspired from the binge watching and reading of Stephen King’s Maine. I created a fictional town while living in Michigan. That takes place… in Michigan. The population is 1,500. I was really fascinated by the old buildings. Really the simplicity of Michigan.
I’ve lived in Wisconsin as well. In Wisconsin it feels more functional. A small town in Wisconsin there is a balance of modern and old. The houses are a hundred years old, but they’re also refurbished. Where in Michigan they feel like something from a Stephen King book. When you take a long walk among these broken down farms or houses. It feels like Stephen King’s IT will pop out at you. Do a silly little dance in front of a curtain of fire. Then rip a child’s arm off and eat it. You might get lucky and have one of the farmers jump out of their house and shoot the long fanged clown with a shotgun because everybody in Michigan loves trucks and guns. Well… speaking for the population I lived around.
As I’ve mentioned before I was never a fan Superman. I felt like most comic book fans, he was boring and one dimensional. My friend told me to give three major Superman comics a try and I did. I will say this. If your ideal hero is the guy who gets beat down and rises once more to beat the BIG bad monster. He definitely won’t be your cup of tea. Because he’s god tier strength. No one can beat him. He brings a different heroism to comics. He’s wholesome and kind. Before you read a Superman comic you’re sitting in traffic giving every passing car the finger. After you read Superman. “Am I angry at the person driving that vehicle or am I angry at the situation at hand. Is the situation really worth being angry at in the first place. What am I missing out on that calls for me to drive like a maniac. Anger is really just the alpha male version of fear. Am I angry or do I just feel helpless.” To me personally that’s what I get from Superman.
As I explored Superman comics I found myself watching Super Girl. I enjoyed it. But it relies heavily on Superman’s myth. You can’t help but feel that the writing is “Super” lazy. That pun is exactly how watching Super Girl feels like. The cheese is thick. Plus it has no identity of it’s own.
Then DC turned Starfire into an overly sexual click bait bikini model in Red Hood and the Outlaws which didn’t sit well with me. At the time Wormwood was being developed in my brain. It was initially going to be some twisted horror tales. It turned out exactly like it sounds. Fan fiction for Stephen King’s Maine. It sat idly by collecting Digital dust or Pixels if you will. (Crickets) Then I read a quote from Joss Whedon.
“I miss good old storytelling. And you know what else I miss? Super powers. Why is it now that everybody’s like “I can reverse the polarity of your ions!” Like in one big flash everybody’s Doctor Strange. I like the guys that can stick to walls and change into sand and stuff. I don’t understand anything anymore. And all the girls are wearing nothing, and they all look like they have implants.
My brain immediately screamed. “Kansas doesn’t need a hero who can close black holes with his bare hands, but Michigan does! Especially a town called Wormwood.” If there was ever a small town in need of a Super Hero. It’s definitely a town that sounds like it has been infested with termites, and the town’s people just shrugged. “Oh, are we swarmed by bugs again? That’s not as bad as when aliens possessed our cheerleading squad. Nor a woman giving birth to a shape shifting murder disguised in plain sight. Those were wild times.
It is the perfect formula for a comic book. A hyper abstract version of a small town life, with characters that are symbolic like in Greek mythology. Encountering existential problems of modern times.
I love Marv Wolfman’s New Teen Titans run in the 80’s. You’ll read in comic book community that it was DC’s version of X-Men. I disagree. In a side by side comparison between both comics that New Teen Titans was superior to the X-Men in every way. Art, writing, story telling, pacing, character development, everything.
When I started writing Becoming Super I took inspiration from Marv Wolfman’s writing style. I can’t emphasize how much I hate the lack of writing in comics nowadays. I understand comics have more of a visual element then obviously novels. But it’s still reading material. Therefor the writing should be sharp. Not relying on the purely visual element. They need to go hand in hand. Which is why I love Grant Morrison and Alan Moore along with Marv Wolfman. They often described situation or scenery as if in a novel, or play. There was thought bubbles and Dialogue. In one of the reviews someone said that New Teen Titans was, “A bit wordy.” This was not a child but a man in his 40’s. That’s a problem I’ll get into another time.
I ran into a issue while writing Becoming Super. While attempting to make the two elements coincide. Sticking to the common formula I gave myself a maximum of 5 to 6 panels. The problem was that I couldn’t mentally tell how much room I was taking away from the artist with my hefty dialogue.
I used the great advice of GZA The Genius from Wu-Tang Clan. “Too many songs, weak rhymes that’s mad long. Make it brief son: half short, twice strong!” Using that with my dialogue I found that I was being a bit stubborn. So I let go of my precious dialogue and found that I had a lot of fat. (unnecessary words) I’ve always been a slow writer. I thought writing a comic would be quicker. I find the process a bit tedious due to the choppy nature of writing in screenplay format. But that’s how it needs to be done. Because like movies it’s a blueprint for other people to do their individual jobs.
I don’t have an artist yet. I thought what I would do in the mean time is perfect the story and make sure the beginning, middle, and end are tight and precisely how I want it to play out. Then find an artist let them know exactly what I’m looking for and make sure financially it won’t send me dumpster diving for my next meal.
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