The script for HOW TO LOSE BIG is coming along. I finished chapter three yesterday and will start chapter four later tonight. This might be the best thing I've written, which is good -- considering it's the most recent thing I've written.
It's hard to judge from my perspective. I felt most "at home" writing KARMA INCORPORATED. EMILY EDISON was a lot of fun creatively, a wild collaboration. And ASTRONAUT DAD went through so many re-writes; it may be the closest I ever get to literary fiction (as opposed to popular or genre fiction). With HOW TO LOSE BIG, I've had several moments where I lean back and think, "Oh, this is nice." Maybe my baby ego is becoming a man, deeper voice and all (as spoken by Patrick Warburton)?
It was actually Paul who approached me with the idea for HOW TO LOSE BIG (email sent on August 5, 2008, I archive everything). The original title was HOW TO BREAK INTO COMICS (OR DIE TRYING). He described it as "a group of four or five friends who are small time comic creators and their trials and tribulations trying to get into mainstream comics." There's a twist, but I can't really share that. Can I?
Usually, I don't like working from another person's story concept. No offense, but a lot of comic book artists are only looking for a new reason to draw ninjas, zombies, pirates, robots, monsters, aliens, super heroes, or some combination. But Paul? He suggested a story that was actually a story. I guess, as the creator of DASH BRADLEY, he had tapped the "guilty pleasure" vein dry and was ready for something with a little tenderness. Also, it helped that Paul said in his email: "we could get together and develop it into something more detailed or you can just take this idea and run with it," which I interpreted as "just take this idea and run with it." It made me less worried about ruining his story. HOW TO LOSE BIG did come back around to being a collaboration. Paul helped immensely with the plot, and working with him on the story felt very natural. It's one of those rare partnerships where every new idea begins with "Yes, and..." You forget you're plotting a story. Instead, you're cracking up over where these characters are prone to wander. And you go there. After the plot was more or less finished, I grabbed our notes and crawled into my office to write the script. Occasionally, I'd slide bits of the script to him via email for feedback. Beyond that, this part of the process requires me to isolate myself. I do a lot of pacing and talking to myself. My unofficial iTunes soundtrack consists of Queen's Somebody to Love, Supertramp's Dreamer, She & Him's Sweet Darlin, Stevie Wonder's Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours, Joni Mitchell's Raised On Robbery, and Lose Big by Eef Barzelay, of course.
My biggest concern with writing a story about indie comics was it feeling like an auto-bio, as though I'm hiding my own persona behind the protagonist. I'm not. Leslie Odom is not me. I have no interest in some angsty self evaluation. After all, that's what blogs are for. HOW TO LOSE BIG should feel like the most honest take on indie comics, with a lot of heart and still be absolutely absurd. Hell, I'll say it. This story is my ALMOST FAMOUS, a love letter to comics and my friends. (Yes, for Cameron Crow, that movie was slightly auto-bio, but whatever, the example still holds.)
No pressure, Paul.
I do feel bad for Paul. He's going to be drawing lots of convention scenes, road trips along I-35, people hanging out at the comic book store, people talking pop culture in their hotel rooms, people sitting in the cereal aisle of a grocery store at two in the morning. On the other hand, with the inclusion of OH NO POGO and PRINCESSES VS. UNICORNS, Brock and Katie get to draw all the fun violent stuff with monsters and guns. Sorry Paul, you were invited to the wrong party.
For those keeping score, all previous posts about HOW TO LOSE BIG...
August 25, 2008: I first mentioned the comic, no title, and included character designs from Paul. I said it takes place in Lawrence, Kansas and involves some small press/indie comic book creators. (click here)
November 13, 2008: I announced the title, posted the logo, and said I started work on the script. I described it as a graphic novel about "comic book industry and failure." (click here)
December 9, 2008: I shared more character designs. I described it as "a wonderful comic book project that we're working on... about working on a wonderful comic book project." (click here)
December 16, 2008: I revealed the two comics-within-the-comic, OH NO POGO illustrated by Brock Rizy and PRINCESSES VS. UNICORNS. Erin Riggs was attached as the artist at the time. Yes, the comic would include violence between princesses and unicorns. (click here)
January 18, 2009: Paul came over to the house, and we finished plotting the story HOW TO LOSE BIG. I said I was happy with it, and that Paul had most of the good ideas. (click here)
February 3, 2009: I posted a page from OH NO POGO. I described the style as "Brock Noir" and said the story was my attempt at something involving secret super agents and monsters. Concerning the outline for HOW TO LOSE BIG, I commented that Paul and I kept each other entertained with insane twists in this story, especially the climax. I said the story has a message about the strained relationship between commerce and artistry, professionalism and friendship. (click here)
February 4, 2009: I posted a page from HOW TO LOSE BIG. (click here)
And there you go. The most complete update on HOW TO LOSE BIG I can possibly offer. Keep us in your good will, start a fan club -- we need to get this graphic novel published.