Newsletter #39: And Now for Something Slightly Different (Part 1)

A somewhat differently-structured post about my personal goings-on and the latest items on my work docket

  
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Hey guys, it's Scott.

I'm gonna try something a little bit different with this post, and I'm going to use it as a template going forward. What I've realized is that people want a few different buckets of things from me in this newsletter. And bear with me, because I'm still learning how to use this, and I love it—spending a little less time on social media and coming over here has allowed me to engage with you guys in different ways, and to read a lot of the comments and responses has given me a better sense of what people get excited about when I post. But the membership over here is way beyond what I had hoped, so I want to really devote myself to it and do a good job. The three things that it seems like people want are:

  1. Personal updates on an intimate level about my life and things that I've mentioned in posts on social media.

  2. Updates on the work, obviously, and how things are going. Teases and those things, which I'm always happy to give. And also…

  3. Thoughts on books that I've read, on the industry, anecdotal stories and history about how certain things were made.

So, I'm going to try and move through those three categories from now on in this newsletter, give it a shot, and let me know what you think! If this works for you, great. If it's something that you're bristling against, let me know and I'll change it up. But I think this will give me a way of connecting different thoughts and giving a more comprehensive picture of where I am, both in my life personally and creatively, and what I'm thinking about. So, first, I'll always try and start with housecleaning stuff. Just a reminder, I will not be here to teach next week. I'm going out to Florida with brothers Greg Capullo, Tony Daniel, and Charles Soule to sign books that you guys sent in for CGC. I don't know if there's still time to do it, but hopefully a bunch of you guys send in stuff, because I'm not doing signings for a while. I'm going to be a complete homebody with everything on my plate, so this is my one big signing. If you want to try and rush a book down there, contact Comic Sketch Art. But we're going down there to just sign thousands of books in two days in a warehouse and have some drinks and then come back.

Secondly, I just wanted to say thank you. The Nocterra: Blacktop Bill Special, which comes out in just a few weeks—we just got our final orders for that and it exceeded our expectations by a lot. It was up in the 50,000s, which is way beyond what I had thought it would hit. So, the fact that you guys are so enthusiastic about the series means the world to us. It's one of my few absolute tried-and-true ongoing, physical series that will be out there every month with Tony and a few guests artists, like the Blacktop Bill Special has legends Denys Cowan, Kent Williams, and Chris Sotomayor for this issue that I just love and co-wrote with Tony. To see you guys show such enthusiasm for it means a lot to us, and it's something we have tons of plans for. Issue #7 starts our second arc in a huge way. Tony's back on art, and that's next month, January 26th. So, I'll keep you posted, but thank you for showing such support.

Nocterra #7 kicks off the second arc of the Ferrymen’s saga—PEDAL TO THE METAL!

So, housecleaning done. Personal life… I don't really know if this is something that you guys want to hear, but my life has been consumed by two things: One is potty training Quinn the last week, so a lot of it was a naked gremlin running around the house telling me, “Dadda look! No diaper on wee wee,” and putting towels down behind him frantically and trying to smile and be positive through all of that. But luckily, he is at a great place with it now. As of yesterday, he is (seemingly) completely potty trained, and he is extremely proud of himself, and he is full of Pez. Pez was his reward, so he would just say “Pez! Pez!” But it kinda sounds like piss when he says it, which is pretty funny, where he’s like, “Dadda, piss!” And the saddest thing (or maybe not saddest), the other night he picked up his scoop, which, those of you who've been following me while on social media might remember, is this blue coffee scoop he loved when he was young. And he was like, “Oh, Dadda, yook! Scoop!” And he remembered it, which was very touching to me.

And it got me thinking about how as much as I am so happy never to have to deal with diapers again, I'm never gonna have to deal with diapers again. This was the last time we're having a kid, and I will never have to buy a box of diapers in my life (except maybe if I have grandkids or whatever). But Quinn was a surprise. We’ve wanted to have three kids for a while, and tried for a while, and then were told that it wasn't likely. And so we decided two was plenty and we were great. And then we were very surprised to get pregnant with Quinn, and extremely happy, and he's a joy and a tornado in the house. Luckily, he's healthy after his surgery, which I've talked to you guys about, and he's doing great. But there are definitely days when I think about the fact that he's going to graduate high school in 2037 and it freaks me out entirely. And as I've said before, if I do not go to that graduation in some kind of flying car, then there is no justice in the world.

Thinking about the future… (Cover by Michael Sta Maria)

But the other side of my personal life is this Wytches writers room, which is like a second job and yet is more like being in class. I'm loving it. I try not to use the word ‘inspiring’ too much, but it is genuinely inspiring. The people that I selected for the room are all seasoned television writers, and the things that they're bringing to the story are so exciting to imaginatively—the ways in which they're helping flesh out sailor and Charlie and Melinda and Seb and Clara and the wytches themselves and Lucy and the town's history. They're just full of great ideas in that regard. They're bringing so much to it and making it so much more expansive and exciting and full blooded that it's an incredible experience.

And secondarily, they're also teaching me all these things about televisual structure—how episodes often have three movements in them, for example, or how, when it comes to breaking eight-episode series vs a ten-episode series, there are certain beats that you can excise from the whole story, and then make up for later. These are all things that I really want to bring up in class. Because for me, learning new techniques, learning new methods and craft elements of writing, it keeps me young. It makes me feel engaged, it makes me feel like I want to try everything that I haven't tried before. And honestly, it reinforces my basic idea or thesis of the class, Comic Writing 101, in a lot of ways, which is if I can teach you guys the foundational aspects of Western storytelling, the things that people have come to expect as readers, the things that we'd become used to seeing as a skeleton, blueprint, or superstructure to our storytelling, then a lot of different media, a lot of different mediums and formats can be learned very quickly. So, it's not incredibly hard to move from comic writing to televisual writing (not to sound arrogant or like a dick, but it's kinda true). If you have a really good grasp on the fundamentals of storytelling, because the rest is more mechanical, you get excited about learning—how do you start to do something where you can create an elliptical structure and television that you might not be able to do in comics exactly the same way because of music, because of voiceover, because of different things that you have at your disposal?

So, all of it, for me, is just this great learning curve. And that's what I hope you guys feel, especially in the class, that learning the bones, learning the basic structure, is something that you can use as a keystone almost as this Rosetta Stone to then decipher all these other methods of storytelling, and you feel confident and excited to move from one to the next—screenwriting, televisual writing, playwriting. You learn those things if you have a really good grasp of the fundamentals of Western storytelling, and then branch out and incorporate all kinds of other forms of cultural storytelling, all kinds of things that allow you to break the rules and experiment. So, again, that's what I love about doing the class and that's my reasoning behind the way that I teach. If I give you those basics, then you become the writer you want to be on your terms. I'm not teaching you how to write a story like I would write it. I'm teaching you the expectations around Western storytelling, some of the things that power it, and then giving you those tools to say, “now go off and tell the story you want to tell your way.” So, if you're interested, not to shill, but—Comic Writing 101, paid subscription, same site as this, $7 a month.

And I forgot to say this earlier. I will not be here to teach next week, as I said, because I'm going to be down in Florida in a big warehouse signing your comic books with my friends, hopefully having a good time and having some drinks and relaxing, even though there are thousands of books sign, but I will do a class that's just me, no guest, really textual, really in-depth about three act structure, and even more than this, story superstructure. So, three-act structure is the jumping off point. As I've mentioned before, it's a structure that you find in almost, I'd say, like, 90+ percent of films, especially American/Western films. It's a really fascinating protractor to hold up to cinema and say, “oh, look, I understand how story is built emotionally in a character driven way in our culture without it feeling like this thing that's oppressive.” For me, It's a key where you apply it to things and you see what the character’s motivations are, what matters to the people creating the story. It's not about plot, it's not about, like, this is where explosion happens! It's more about this is where the character realizes they need to change their ways. It's those things. So, if you're interested, I think it'll be a lot of fun. It's one of my favorite topics, it'll be a bit interdisciplinary, and it'll just be me. That will likely be on December 22nd, a week after the class was supposed to be on the 15th. So, spread the word if you're in the Discord or anybody in the class that needs to know that.

S

P.S. I’m so so excited to announce that I’ll be back on Stegman and his Amazing Friends for a live show starting tomorrow at 9:00pm EST! The last show I did with Ryan and Donny (along with supple boiz Ethan and Griffin) last July was a ton of fun, so I hope you’ll all tune in and send us your burning questions. Until then, check out Ryan and Donny’s Substack, KLC Press, for the latest chain-wrapped news!

To be covered in the second part on Friday—some thoughts on the current state of the comic industry…