I had a chance to meet writer Mark Waid and chat with him briefly at the Gem City Comic Con last weekend. We both had contributed a story to last year’s CBLDF Liberty Annual 2011, which in a fanboyish way gave me a bit of a thrill when he signed my copy of the book. Also, it was illuminating to listen in on some of his conversations about the emerging digital comics market, and his own plans for going digital (I’d highly recommend his blog if you’re interested in this topic).
Anyway, at a lull in his line on Sunday, I stopped by his table and asked if he wouldn’t mind reading my 8-page Spectre story from the DC Universe Holiday Special 2010, my only DC Comics story to date. I hated imposing like that, but I figured the worst that could happen was getting a polite “no,” which would be understandable. And besides, when you have a writer of Mark’s caliber, you don’t pass up an opportunity like this for some feedback on your work. To my surprise, he said that although he didn’t have time to do so at the show, he had the book at home and would read the story and send me his thoughts, if I just gave him my email.
Well, a couple of days later I got this short missive from Mark:
Really nice little story! I wish we’d had just a little more exposition for brand-new readers as to how the Spectre “works” and what the “rules” are about exactly what happens to his alter-ego when Spectre’s absent, but overall, nicely done! Well-paced, good dialogue, not overwritten. Kudos!
His critique is spot on, of course. I did struggle with how to fit in some exposition about who exactly The Spectre is, and what his powers are, but working under the constraint of a mere 8 pages was tough. In the end, I decided, rightly or not, that this particular comic would probably only be picked up by the hardcore DC Comics readers, who in all likelihood would already be familiar with the character. But it’s still good to be reminded that when it comes to serialized comics and superheroes, every issue is someone’s first issue, and they need enough information in the story to understand and enjoy it.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that he also had some kind words to share about my writing. It’s the little things that keep you going.