I'm sitting here at my desk eating cold leftovers from the night before, sipping on an energy drink (I have much to write still tonight and I've only just come home from my day job), and to my right is a piece of paper that I printed off at work earlier.
On that piece of paper is a review of my first comic book I ever wrote, LEGACY #1.
LEGACY is an idea that I've had and worked over several times now for well over a decade, but only come into fruition in the last two. It took the better part of a year and a half from the moment I sat down and wrote the script until the time the title finally was published just this past summer. The artist, a wonderful guy named Mike Campeau, and I worked together to bring to life something that I never thought I would EVER do.
A comic book that I wrote.
Countless times I had TALKED about writing a comic book, or a novel, or one of a dozen other things, but this time I actually sat down and DID it. Then saw it through to completion and put it out there for the world to see.
So, I bet you're wondering, what does that have to do with what you titled this blog? Was it a glowing review that suggests that you have a long and fruitful career with accolades to be heaped upon you, with large piles of cash from your massive book sales, on the side?
No, it most certainly was not.
Before I post it here for you to read though, let me say this. I do not disagree with what the reviewer said on many of the points. He analyzed it with a keen eye and made his thoughts clear and was good enough to have some specific examples where the book's writing could be improved. I'd like to think that LEGACY #2 was a step up from the first book and hope that the reviewer would be willing to provide his feedback on that one as well. We only get better by pushing ourselves, after all.
Here, then, is the review as featured on the DriveThruComics website.
by Scotty G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/18/2013 17:21:44
Staff: Andrew Lorenz and Mike Campeau
Generic superhero in genetic tights
There is something weird going on with the art. Most times it is downright solid, but sometimes it shifts style (in the same panel) and looks like it was drawn by two different people. A good example of this is on page 4 where it looks like the thug’s head is drawn in a different style than his chest. It should also be noted that some of this looks like the reused all or some of certain art pieces. Again on page 4, look at the position of the thug’s head and arm, then compare it to the panel on the top of the page. There is also this weird reliance of really amateur level gradients on things (particularly noticeable on what I assume is paper or trash blowing in the wind?) over what is otherwise really solid line work. We also have a very visually clean city for an environment that is apparently slipping into the hands of crime and heading towards total collapse. I see this a lot with people who don’t pay as much attention to the background and the kind of world they are portraying. There is a very bright background with a lot of primary colors, something that kind of clashes with the urban aesthetic they talk about in the next. This could also be a lack of detail on the artists part.
The lettering is not up to par either. I hate to be rough on this stuff, but we have some seriously decent lettering with some big bobos when it comes to the placement of text (See page 9) in the dialogue balloons. The lettering on the intro is not the same quality as in the comic and really is distractingly bad (maybe a center align or something?). However, otherwise it is very solid.
The dialogue is lifted from every golden age comic ever that serve more to explain the scene then to explore the characters. For example we had line where a criminal say, “He’s got Shane!”. This does very little to educate us, the reader, to the nature of either the hero who has apprehended Shane. It doesn’t even explore Shane’s character and only gives us a vague insight into the other two mooks who say “Forget him, lets go!”. In a lot of my reviews I bring up that comics are a visual medium (at least in part) and you don’t always have to have dialogue for a scene to work. In this case, I think a lot of these scenes would have worked a great deal better if they dialogue had been left off. For example, imagine if the hero has ripped the top of a car and we got the panicked faces of the thugs and as they flee we see him grab one. The emotion on the faces of the characters (which is well done) could have had time to shine and carry the scene, but instead we get trite dialogue.
Overall this seems like a failure of concept. This is a decent art team but it feels like someone had a “really cool idea for a hero” (who is, in truth, rather generic) and paid an artist to illustrate it. It lacks that je ne sais quoi that a well thought out comic concept that has real potential has. The setting is one step from Gotham and Paragon is somewhere between Superman and Captain America. I HATE to simplify it like that, but that’s the vibe I get. Like someone, a very passionate fan, wrote this comic as a love letter to his favorite tropes. And I’ll give him credit- he mimicked them well. However, mimicking and effectively implementing them are two very different things. It just doesn’t feel unique or novel at all. It’s just a different rehashing of the basics wearing it’s factory printed tights.
The postscript is a very good read actually. It tells you the name of the characters and some of the background on the comic’s development. It seems like a lot of passion went into this comic and it looks like there is a longer term goal in mind because we are told there is 130 issues so don’t write this comic off on my review of it. This is potentially a very strong series and I am just reviewing the “trailer” here. Then again, I wish we’d got some of that in the first issue. If it didn’t grab me it might be lacking in something.
Something else I liked in the postscript is that our dear author talks about not talking but doing something. This is a HUGE issue that I see in the indie industry. Everyone thinks is really easy to make a comic and their idea is the best one out there. These guys, including this team, bite and claw their way up. It is a massive undertaking that takes talented people months (if not years) of hard work. Sure they are “indie” but hot-damn if that doesn’t make it all the more impressive.
Art: 4/10 (Not pro, some weird elements)
Lettering: 4/10 (Good with a few small missteps)
Plot: 3/10 (Genetic with trite dialogue)
Novelty: 2/10 (Nothing new under the sun)
Review from: http://indiecomicreview.com/
So, you ask again, what does that have to do with Success Is a Matter of Perception?
I'll explain WHY I decided to write this. And no, it isn't to show you how this review (which, by the way I'm going to frame- it's my first review, actually). If anything it was a happy addition to my reason for this blog entry.
Over the last few days, several creative folk who I've gotten to know (not KNOW know but through the wonderful world of online interaction) have all discussed frustration and feeling of hopelessness in regards to their art; either writing or drawing.
One declared that he had had enough of an industry that didn't seem to want his artistic voice to be heard, another was editing her novel while reading a book written by a Pulitzer Prize winning author and felt overwhelmed that hers would never be as good. One artist told me that he was ready to throw away all his art supplies and never draw again. And so on.
I can understand where their frustration comes from, I've experienced it myself many times and am still "new" to the creating scene, as it were.
I know what the struggle can be like to be heard- I live in the middle of Canada- a country with an amazing array of talent but without any co-ordinated promotion of said talent. Whether football players or writers, many of my fellow countrymen find more success south of the border. But then there are others who DON'T make that move. The band The Tragically Hip have never much tried to make a run outside of these borders, though their music would easily have found listeners worldwide. The fiercely Canadian actor Jay Baruchel has said several times that he won't accept a role in a movie that takes him away from his country for an extended amount of time. Both examples are highly regarded in their fields of profession. So what does that mean about success?
Say you own a computer store. You sell enough to pay your wages, as well as that of your amazing staff, and both go and leave work with a smile on your face. Is that success? Or do you have to own Apple to be a success in the computer industry?
What if your dream is to be a musician in a band? You work hard every day at your music; writing, rehearsing, playing shows at every bar or venue that will have you. You do it for YEARS. One day you make it all the way down to Nashville. You meet with record executives. They tell you all the reasons that you will never "work". Reasons that they won't sign you to their label. Does that mean that you've failed? Does it mean that suddenly, because some stranger in a suit says that they don't like your tattoos or your style of music, that you can't play anymore? That you have to give up your dream of being a musician?
It all depends on how you see it.
Sticking with that same musician example, let's break it down a little. Many people WISH they were able to play an instrument, but aren't willing to put in the time to sit down and learn. Several more will TALK about great songs that they will ever write, and just as many will never take them out of their song book and play in front of an audience. Even less of those that do that will stick with it for any amount of time. Only a small handful will ever make it to Nashville for a meeting with a music executive. They will not have SUCCEEDED in making it that far.
It's very true that the only time you are guaranteed to fail is when you do not even try. The effort is everything. And if you keep plugging away at it, things happen. Sometimes great things. If you give up on yourself and your dreams, though you'll never know. Ask J.K Rowling.
So what I'm getting at over the course of this extremely long-winded blog is that only YOU can ever decide if you are a success. Not some guy in a suit, not your parents, not your friends, not your competition, not your sales reports, YOU.
Some folks are happy to write novels that they love and make enough money to pay the bills and live a simple life, some have a dream to show off their ideas by going outside of their original concept and presenting them in a different format, others toil away putting hours upon hours into rehearsals or in front of a keyboard, punching out that next novel that might make them the next big thing.
Do what you love, bring others along for the ride to share in it, and realize that all your hard work adds up to something, whether your novel wins prizes, your songs make the radio, or they don't, success comes when you can step back and say "I came, I worked hard, and this is what I did as a result". No one can take that from you. You don't know until you try. And in trying, you succeed.
My name is Andrew Lorenz and I have written eight comic books, have seen three published as of this writing, with several more to see print in the next few years. Each one is better than the next as my knowledge and writing continue to grow with every book.
I have worked with artists from Canada, Croatia, Indonesia, Great Britain and the United States and all of them are amazing people.
Two stores now stock my comic books and I have made sales in both print and digital formats that are in excess of four hundred, and while my following is small, it is supportive and encouraging; my family and co-workers have been nothing short of astounding in their on-going investment in them and myself.
Three writers whom I greatly admire, and would consider myself a fan of, have all said that they have found my books to be "an enjoyable read" and more importantly my sons think they are "awesome".
If that isn't success, then I don't know what is.