Working with Established Characters.

Alrighty, boys and girls! Are you looking to put in your writing into comic books? If you are, here's a little heads up: When you're writing for comics and graphic novels, you'll be appointed with established characters at one point or another. Clearly, anybody will tell you about a comic book writer who's worked on your favorites. *Comic book master Peter David states that when working with characters like Zatanna or the X-Men, you're being handed a certain degree of reader investment and it's easier to sustain and build an audience with established characters than ones made from scratch.

Andrew Mcqueen

Alrighty, boys and girls! Are you looking to put in your writing into comic books? If you are, here's a little heads up: When you're writing for comics and graphic novels, you'll be appointed with established characters at one point or another. Clearly, anybody will tell you about a comic book writer who's worked on your favorites. *Comic book master Peter David states that when working with characters like Zatanna or the X-Men, you're being handed a certain degree of reader investment and it's easier to sustain and build an audience with established characters than ones made from scratch.

Here's a couple of examples: *In Incredible Hulk #373, Peter David put a unique spin on Doc Samson. The Mother Superior berates an army colonel because he had gone to Catholic school. Samson showed no fear whatsoever because he's Jewish. As a result, Doc Samson was the first Jewish character in the Marvel Universe.

According to David, "Leonard" is a Jewish sounding first name and "Samson" is an Old-Testament hero. Another example of the topic is Judd Winick's run on Green Arrow in 2004. **In issue 43, Oliver Queen's ward, Mia Dearden was tested positive for HIV as a result of her previous life as a young prostitute. Despite this she's proven to be a capable fighter and archer which earned her the right to be the new Speedy and go off fighting alongside the Emerald Archer.

The one thing to keep in mind sending established characters in bold and different directions is that you're the caretaker of these characters. *Now you can too with the following steps.

  1. Look for patterns. Pick a character and look for common threads and try to interweave them in ways other writers haven't.
  2. Pull on a single thread. All you need is just one thread. Following example of that is Kevin Smith's run on Daredevil. The "Guardian Devil" epic redefined the Man without Fear as DD faced a crisis unlike any he's ever encountered. The biggest moment of that storyline was the death of Karen Page. 
  3. Get inside the character's head. Put yourself in the character's shoes and try to preceive things differently. Write dialogues that explore the innermost workings of his mind and break new ground.

Creating your own superheroes can be fun, friends. But the greatest challenge is working with superheroes that've been around for a long time. As Mr. David puts it: "You're redecorating the living room, not demolishing the house."

Happy Creations!  

Sources: *Writing for Comics & Graphic Novels with Peter David, pg. 57-58

**Jonah Weiland. "Winick on "Green Arrow", Mia's HIV status and More." Comicbook Resources. com Oct. 2004

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