Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Claremont Outline: How to Write Comics By Rehashing

Think you can write a series?

Can't think of a new idea to save your life?

Been in the game for years but can't find an effective way to phone it in?

Then let Chris Claremont show YOU the way to start a series by rehashing work you did ten years ago!

It's simple. Step 1: Choose a better writer's old comic book series to get an established stable of characters. Claremont chose Alan Moore's UK Captain Britain series from the 80's. It's important that this series ran for enough years that it has a large cast of heroes and villains to fill up your current series with.
Step 2. Choose a character, even a minor sidekick or sibling of the main character, to be your avatar. This character will be changed and molded to suit your whims, and can be brought into every book you write. For Claremont, Betsy Braddock became his avatar, Psylocke. She used to be British. Who knew!

Step 3. Want to do a solo character book, creating a rich tapestry of a life with supporting characters and character development? Well, forget it. Your avatar couldn't-nor shouldn't-be able to sell their own series to save their life. Team books are the way to go. Team after team of team books. Throw in some characters from that established writer's work. Hell, all you have to do is add like three people and BOOM!, it's an all new series.

Step 4. Time to create some conflict. Whoever's on your team (and by the fifth or sixth book, people will be able to guess who you'd pick) has to fight a kickass villain. Wait, that's if you're making something the classic way. The Claremont Way, you need them to fight some random villain from that established character's repertoire. Like how Excalibur fought the warwolves, or when the Uncanny X-Men fought the Fury. Don't worry that almost no one will know who these villains are. They won't care as long as someone mentions how 'nigh invulnerable' they are or how the world hates and fears them.

Step 5. You've had ideas before, and hopefully before needing this Outline, you've had a few stories in the funny papers. Time to reuse 'em! Take a novelty villain from your earlier work, or at the very least the setting he's known for, and drop every team you work on there for their second adventure. Claremont's teams have been to Murderworld so often, they still have unspent Murderbucks.

Step 6. You like cowboys? Dinosaurs? Ghosts? The collected works of Robert Frost? Incorporate it! Anything that's caught your interest when you're not writing comics you can write into your team book. Vampires, cyborgs, Japanese ghosts, crazy European hostels, Kal Penn. It's all good!

Step 7. The best part of rehashing? It never stops. So dip back into the well, find another villain from that talented writer's stable and send him after your team for any old reason. Doesn't have to make sense, he can just be angry or trying to fill his taxes on April 18th. Or for the same reason that first villain you chose had.

Step 8. Start looking for a new series, my friend, because by now, most readers are pretty much done with you. But hey, Claremont still is writing two books a month. Who cares if they suck now? At least we get Slaymaster back.
Follow these tips and YOU, too, can be the most hated man in comics.


Sharif M. said...

Last year, Marvel did a reprint of some of Claremont's kung fu stories with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. I was amazed to see how far back his schtick reaches. I'd believed that his current writing was simply self-parody. But he's always been this terrible. He never jumped the shark; he's always sucked.

Normally, when I read superhero comics I can suspend disbelief (repress my self-consciousness), but when I come across anything written by Claremont I find myself red with embarrassment.

Scipio said...

That's VERY funny!

I have often heard people disdain his work, but, never having read any, I didn't know what exactly bothered them.

Thanks, Jonnie!