Author Topic: Walter Mosley on Good Comic Book Writing  (Read 3471 times)

Offline zeraze

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Walter Mosley on Good Comic Book Writing
« on: August 27, 2007, 05:24:53 pm »
Popular novelist Walter Mosley just released a book, THIS YEAR YOU WRITE YOUR NOVEL, explaining how to become a writer.  Columnist Steve Grant suggests that writers of comics can also learn much from Mosley as shown in this quote:

"Our social moorings aren't the only things that restrain our creative impulses. We are also limited by false aesthetics: those notions that we have developed in schools and libraries, and from listening to critics that adhere to some misplaced notion of a literary canon. Many writers come to the discipline after having read the old, and new, masters. They read Dickens and Melville, Shakespeare and Homer. From these great books of yore, they develop tics and reflexes that cause their words to become stiff and unnatural.

Many writers, and teachers of writing, spend so much time comparing work to past masters that they lose the contemporary voice of the novel being created on this day.

You will not become a writer by aping the tones and phrases, form and content, of great books of the past. Your novel lies in your heart; it is a book about today, no matter in which era it is set, written for a contemporary audience to express a story that could only have come from you.

Don't get me wrong - you can read anything and learn from it. But your learning will also come from modern songs, newscasts, magazine articles, and conversations heard on the street. A novel is a pedestrian work about the everyday lives of bricklayers and saints."


You can read Grant's full commentary here:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/columns/index.cgi?column=pd&article=2867

Grant is correct that Mosley is a great writer for comic writers to emulate.  Too many comic creators do make the mistake of rehashing the work of past masters instead of drawing upon new, contemporary ideas to make their stories cool not stale.

zeraze
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Offline Battle

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Re: Walter Mosley on Good Comic Book Writing
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2007, 07:54:01 am »
I was re-reading an old issue of MARVEL PREMIERE #52, y'know the 3-part arc where Black Panther confronts the klan...and in the letters page First Class Mail, was a note written to the assistant editor, Jim Salicrup by a little known amateur named James Owsley. I've read that this person became Christopher Priest. This book was printed in the summer of 1979 so I'm not sure if Priest went pro yet but think back...but if he was just a fan writing to Marvel checking them... then this was just a hint of what was to come! ;)  His letter to the editors, Roger Stern and Jim Salicrup:

People:

MARVEL PREMIERE #49 was a pretty good issue, all-in-all. Mark Evanier has done what few comics writers today can do---fit a story into just seventeen pages. I must salute Mark for his composition, which was amply supported by the art.
The who-done-it angle was not, of course, completely original. And i feel the story depended a bit too much on Captain America's association with neo-fascist super villians. In fact, (as implied) Captain America had shown up at the reception at the Bodavian Embassy, chances are that the entire murder scheme would never have gotten off the ground.

It's a little hard for me to believe that the spindly, well-bred Count Barza decked the Falcon, and then made a fool out of him on three separate occasions. Also, Captain America I've come to know and love would not have gone on with his daily constitutional while his former partner was all torn up over a case.


What's really disappointing, though, is that--as always--Marvel writers seem to have trouble writing Black characters. Contrary to popular opinion, Black people do not run around making incredibly cute and witty remarks to each other. Moreover, the Falcon, as an unofficial representation of his country--and as a Black man--would never insult a member of the Bodavian consulate with that quip about Redwing's fetish for dead rat hors d'oerves. I mean, by the end of the story, I expected Falc to don a wide grin and shuffle off into the sunset.

Sal Buscema'a art was also pretty good this issue. Sal is an excellent artist, but he always seems to get saddled with some lesser talent as an inker. This issue, fortunately, was not the case. Dave Simons's inks were very good. The coloring was also exceptional, and the lettering was fine. In fact, my only criticism with the art was the presence of one of the most ineptly drawn J. Jonah Jamesons in the history of comics.

The cover was drawn well, but it was---IMO--insulting to Blacks... uh,make that us Blacks. Al Milgrom, in a fine attempt to create a ghetto atmosphere, ended up placing insultingly familiar stereotypes, such as the fat lady with the groceries, the jive-talking wino being hassled by the cops, and the mountainous supply of garbage--in front of the vegatable store. C'mon, Al, give me a break!  Not all of Harlem is like that... and not all Blacks live in Harlem. I guess that White middle-America couldn't relate to the Falcon sweeping down over Scarsdale.

James Owsley
New York, NY


Oh, we don't know about that, Jim. However, having the Falcon buzz Scarsdale on the cover would have related a lot less to the story... part of which did take place in Harlem (that is where Sam Wilson lives, after all). And since when are fat ladies, winos, and garbage considered black stereotypes? It seems that if you changed the race of the people on that cover---and changed the street by one hundred city blocks--you'd have a street scene right out of the garment district. Would that make it insulting to whites? (Oh, BTW, Frank Miller and Klaus Janson drew that cover... not Al Milgrom!)



« Last Edit: September 04, 2007, 01:08:07 pm by Battle »

Offline supreme illuminati

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Re: Walter Mosley on Good Comic Book Writing
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2007, 06:40:12 pm »
This catch on (hopefully) Priest's letter to MARVEL is dead on,and I completely agree with him.The response by Marvel is both reasonable and more than a trifle indicative of the very ignorance that Owsley was writing about.Note how they completely ignored the issues of characterization which formulated the primary thrust of Owsley's letter.I agree with Marvel's comment about Falc not buzzing Scarsdale because it's not in harlem,but in so doing they really miss the main thrust of Owsley's point.they wind un REENFORCING Owsley's contention regarding their inability to write Black characters well and their lack of affinity for the soul of Black people as a whole.
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Offline Battle

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Re: Walter Mosley on Good Comic Book Writing
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2007, 06:41:42 am »
This catch on (hopefully) Priest's letter to MARVEL is dead on,and I completely agree with him.The response by Marvel is both reasonable and more than a trifle indicative of the very ignorance that Owsley was writing about.Note how they completely ignored the issues of characterization which formulated the primary thrust of Owsley's letter.

Yeah, I caught that, too. ;) Well, the tactic the editors used in thier response is to deflect the criticism by re-arranging the pieces of the puzzle to see if Priest (or the readers) will see something different. Since this is before the 'post & go' style of a global internet forum,  and whatever reply Priest may give is at the mercy of the publishers plus the lag time between responses completely kills the momentum of the issue.

Quote
I agree with Marvel's comment about Falc not buzzing Scarsdale because it's not in harlem,but in so doing they really miss the main thrust of Owsley's point.they wind un REENFORCING Owsley's contention regarding their inability to write Black characters well and their lack of affinity for the soul of Black people as a whole.

Which is why I posted this gem! :)
It was a well known problem at that time everyone knew about. Priest clearly wanted to change things from the inside offices of Marvel instead of complaining from the outside.  And he did. 

Offline Battle

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Re: Walter Mosley on Good Comic Book Writing
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2007, 08:28:11 am »
Speaking of Mr. Mosley...
So I'm reading an article in the paper today about his latest book in the 'Devil In A Blue' Dress series: "Blonde Faith"

Walter Mosley closes the book on Easy Rawlins after a decade
by Colleen Long

NEW YORK - When the world first met Easy Rawlins, he was 28. It was post-World War II Los Angeles _ a city full of opportunity and without a long history _ not a bad place to be for a smart, confident black man. Fired from his job, Easy was in need of fast cash to pay his mortgage. So he agreed to find a missing blonde, and his adventures began.

The book was "Devil in a Blue Dress," the 1990 tale that launched a best-selling crime series by Walter Mosley.


"Blonde Faith," the final book in the series, is a melancholy send-off for Easy and his gang _ his adopted kids Feather and Jesus; Mouse, his skittish and dangerous best friend; and Bonnie Shay, his love.

And Mosley isn't even going to miss him.

"I've got other things to write," he says. "I've written 3,000 pages of Easy Rawlins. If you really miss him, go back and reread."


But wait, at MSNBC there's more...


Offline bluezulu

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Re: Walter Mosley on Good Comic Book Writing
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2007, 09:07:50 am »
What is sad you can see the love Priest had for comics back then. Now the political heads who mostly visit his boards have to tell him the latest happenings in the comic world. I mean people do leave and interest change but mostly due to changing interest not out of bitter resentment in the like. He was and is a giant in comics and should be able to pick his job and company to do it for imo.

Offline supreme illuminati

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Re: Walter Mosley on Good Comic Book Writing
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2008, 05:00:55 pm »
CJP is da bizness and a true icon,and I liked Easy Rawlins alot.That is all.
I AM THAT WHICH GODS,DEMONS,IMMORTALS AND ANGELS FEAR.I AM THAT WHICH PERFECTION ITSELF ASPIRES TO BE
BLACK PANTHER FANFIC:
http://archiveofourown.org/works/663070
Sub my YouTube with the world's first and only viral "capoeira" gun disarm technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM5F_qg2oFw