Is out today. I'm pretty pleased with it...as pleased as a fella can be about a book that doesn't star his own characters, operating in a world not of his own creation—it's a licensed comic, based on the universe created by the makers of the feature film Push, out next Spring. Actually, that first statement is only partly true, given that only one character is a holdover from the film; the rest of the populace are ours. Still, we were not free to do as we pleased with the story. Approvals needed getting from the production company, plot points needed vetting. The approvers were aces, but still...the most comfortable prison and all.
It's the closest we've come to writing company-owned characters—not counting a four-page Lobo story we did for a DC Halloween anthology last year—and, I've gotta say, I'm not in love with it. Can we do it? Sure. But I find myself way more invested in a story when it's a wholly organic creation. It was an interesting exercise, though, but I don't relish the extra work that goes into work-for-hire.
If I'm pitching a creator-owned book, there's one story: the one I want to tell. If the editor doesn't like it, he passes on it, and I move on to the next lucky victim. And if no one bites, the idea goes in a drawer, to be brought out when time passes and either I make it a better pitch with the benefit of fresh eyes, or the person who passed on it is replaced by a fresh editor with regular eyes. But if I'm coming up with springboards for Batman or Spider-Man, I'm doing a lot more work with a lot less opportunity for reward. Plus, that's story generation with only one possible market. And, you know what? I'm a busy guy.
I don't write comics to keep the lights on, or my kids in new shoes. I'm doing it because I love it. I want to love the entire process, from beginning to end. I've got a full-time job in a deadline-oriented business. I've got a family that I want to see—a lot. If I don't love the thing that I'm doing that takes me away from those two, then it's not worth it. And, frankly, I don't love thinking up 10 different stories that have probably already been told in different ways about a character that's been around since WWII. I'm not gonna crack it. Or, if I did, they're not gonna let me do it.
I had an idea a few years ago that centered around Bruce Wayne having a son that he didn't know, or know about. I thought it was a pretty neat way to play a little Count of Monte Cristo in the Batman Universe. I sent it to a guy I knew in the Bat-office. Never heard anything back. And I wasn't surprised. Because would-be freelancers don't get to tell those stories, Grant Morrisons do. And I understand why only dudes like that get to monkey with continuity. Doesn't mean I have to agree with it. Instead, freelancers have to pitch sitcom stories for superheroes: tales that start and end with the characters in the same place they began, both emotion-wise and continuity-wise. "Put the toys back where you found them, in the same condition." I've got nothing against the guys that do that work, and do it well. Power to 'em. But, I'm sorry, that's not the way I want to spend the little free time I've got.
Are there conditions under which I'd consider it? Absolutely. You wanna talk about more than an inventory story that's gonna lie around for years before getting dusted off and slotted in? You wanna talk about examining, evolving, and in some cases, killing the characters? Awesome. Like the man said, sometimes folks just need killing. But I'm not up for spinning the wheels.
So, hey, go buy Push. It was an experiment for us. Not sure how many more experiments like it we'll do, so get it while the getting's good.