Tag Archives: glenn matchett

Matchett’s Musings: Creating Sparks Part 2

Creating Sparks Part 2: The Basics and Getting the Green Light

I remember in English class something my teacher said something to me which I feel is very true. ‘The moment you write something and consider it brilliant is when you should stop.’ In essence what she meant was ‘don’t get your head up your own ass too much.’ Indeed you see it all the time in comics, movies, music or any other industry you can think of. You see people struggle and fight for their spot, producing amazing work but then they get their big break. They become a sure-fire hit, they get told their work is genius and after a while that stops being true. The fire, the motivation to really deliver is gone because no matter what you do, people will buy it.

The reason I’m saying that is I never really think you stop learning to write, especially in comics. Literally every work, every project I learn something new. Sometimes it’s something small, sometimes it improves the quality of my scripts a great deal. However when I started out, after creating Sparks which was closely followed by a concept called The Immortals (more on that later) I had no idea how to put together a comic script. I wasn’t even sure how to structure prose properly and so I completed a lot of stories that went pretty much like this.

Turning to the audience, Glenn gives them a big smile.

Glenn: Hello audience!

Audience: Hello Glenn!

Taking a bow, Glenn proceeds to bask in the audience applause.

Around this time I also sent a full letter of ideas forward to Marvel. I posted it all the way to New York and even put in the legal form the big 2 make you sign anytime you want to submit work/ideas to them. Looking back it was so unprofessional and so deluded of me that the entire submission may have been done out in crayon with cute little backwards letters.

There are plenty of books on how to write comics or to write period. The likes of Stan Lee, Peter David, Brian Bendis, Stephen King, etc have all crafted books on how to write.

I’ll admit right now that I have read none of those. I certainly encourage others who would likely benefit greatly from it but I never did. I just learned through buying a lot of comics.

That might sound strange but one of the wonders of the modern age of comics is how much effort put into collected editions. With some of these collections you get an assortment of DVD/Blu-Ray type special features. You get sketches, pin-up art and sometimes you get scripts. Full comic scripts from the best in the industry and how I learned to put together scripts was by reading other scripts.

I also found a number of other writers putting their scripts online, what then has followed is some trial and error. I’ve included some stuff, ditched other things and tried my best to find my own way to do it. I learned the difference between full script and ‘Marvel style’, how to structure a page and some interesting things I never would have realized.

I found that there was no real ‘wrong’ way to do it. Every writer laid out their full scripts differently and I came across quite a variety of styles. I would probably call my own mostly a blend of Neil Gaiman, Ed Brubaker, J. Michael Staczynski and a little of myself.

Being an editor with GrayHaven I have the pleasure of reading literally hundreds of scripts for anthologies and I pick up interesting things here also. Little hints and tips I use to adjust my own style. If there is anyone out there looking to write comics or wants to learn how to do it better (we can all improve) I would highly suggest reading scripts from peers or pro’s. It’s astonishing what you can pick up. Often times whenever I green light a pitch for a GrayHaven anthology I sometimes get the writer going ‘This is great…now what do I do?’ I then send them some strong scripts I have received over the years.

I would like in particular like to mention GrayHaven vets Ray Goldfield, Doug Hahner, Sean Leonard and Jason Snyder who have great instincts when it comes to scripting. There are many others who I’ve found helpful but those guys are top-notch.

Something I really liked from Neil Gaiman’s scripts was the informal manner he wrote in. In her introduction to Absolute Sandman Vol. 3, Jill Thompson wrote how much of a pleasure it was to read Gaiman’s scripts because of this. I thought I would do the same and I do attempt to do so on a regular basis.

Now obviously it’ll depend on the artist and publisher. The majority of the latter I have worked with enjoyed it but others consider it a distraction. When it comes to your publisher, if they ask you to write the comic script standing on your head and reciting ‘Old McDonald’ then you must do so but…more on this later.

So I started to write comic scripts because mainly, I learn by doing. I first wrote a Booster Gold one I published on Facebook for fun. I was loving the comic series at the time and thought ‘Well, why not?’

I also wrote a script for artist Aaron Bir for his then website Sequential Stutter. I tried to find the story and can’t which is a shame because it was the first comic I had published anywhere.

Then came the beginnings of GrayHaven comics. I’ve told the story over and over so I’ll keep it as brief as possible. Good friend and fellow Jinxworld poster Andrew Goletz asked a bunch of us if we wanted to do a comic anthology for fun. It turned into Vol. 1 ‘The Thing With Feathers’.

I could probably (and will likely) craft an entire article on where I get the idea for some of my GrayHaven shorts but my first actual printed comic work was in there. The feeling I got when I heard that first book, saw my name on the back (which I still miss) is something I will never forget. I also got to work on with artist Brent Peeples who went on to much bigger and better things with Images Last Of The Greats and other work for IDW, Zenescope, Valiant, Dynamite. I loved working with Brent and hope that one day, our paths cross again.

Vol. 1 of The Gathering was a big hit commercially and critically. It wasn’t perfect but people liked the potential and what it offered. A publisher was willing to let unknown creators throw themselves out there, for better or worse. Having learned over the years that breaking in was very difficult to those who could only write and not draw, it was great to see somewhere that offered that.

I helped out GrayHaven the only way I could in the early days which was financially and with any advice Andrew was willing to take from me. Time passed, more volumes got released and we even had some great pro’s like Gail Simone and Sterling Gates help us out.

Soon we had over 8 volumes with more on the way. New volumes were being announced, I’d sent pitches and Andrew approved them along with another opportunity. Due to my initial support he granted me a one shot. It was quite something as back then, the only solo work GrayHaven had approved was Doug Hahner and Donal Delay’s My Geek Family which had earned it through winning a contest.

I was over the moon and my mind exploded with possibilities. I went back to the idea that came first, I went back to Sparks. I pitched it to Andrew who liked it but wanted one change, he wanted it to be set in Britain and not the US because back then in the days of 2011 when this all happened it wasn’t all that common. Nowadays we have quite brilliant crime dramas set in the UK like Sherlock, Luthor and Broadchurch but at the time it was a great idea so I was all for it!

He then asked me who I wanted to draw the story and I gave him a list of 4-5 names, the first of which in an interesting twist was Kell Smith. However Andrew went above and beyond to a secure an artist (here thereafter referred to as artist A) who was immensely talented and seemed to be on the cusp of real success.

It was all set! The car was there, the key was in the ignition and it was all a go. I had only one problem. I had an enemy I wasn’t fully aware of. An enemy that had operated in the shadows for years but it seemed that now, just when things were taking off for me they were about to become my archenemies and a frequent pain in my rear.

Sherlock Holmes has Moriarty

Batman has the Joker

Even the Powerpuff Girls have Mojo Jojo

It turns out that Glenn Matchett’s enemy was named ‘impatience’ and we were about to get very well acquainted.

Next: Artist A, Artist B and Kell Smith

Got any comments, suggestions or questions? Let me know! Also follow me on Twitter @glenn_matchett

GrayHaven Phase Two Announcements

GrayHaven Comics has been hinting about their Phase Two for a while now and we got the first of their announcements last week.  Over the weekend they announced more projects, further diversifying their projects and showing why they’re an independent publisher to keep our eyes on.

GrayHaven Comics will be aggressively expanding their publishing line. New One Shots, Mini Series and Ongoings will begin to roll out over the next few months through New York Comic Con and into 2013

In addition to print collections of several of their popular web-comics there’s also the one-shot Sparks, a hard boiled detective drama by Glenn Matchett and Cassandra James and My Geek Family, a heartwarming slice of life tale by Doug Hahner and Dober-Man, a love letter to the Silver Age of comics by Travis Holyfield and Ed Whatley.

They’re also releasing 5 major projects in the first quarter of 2013:


Chronographer– a time travel mystery by Erica HeflinFabio Pio, Edson Alves and Carlos Paul
Tomorrow sci-fi superheroic epic mini-series by Jason Hissong, John Coker and Devin Taylor
Run Like Hell – the comic adaptation of the hit YA Thriller by Elena Andrews and George Amaru

Ongoing Series:

11:59 – a post-apocalyptic horror series by Andrew Goletz and Nick Francis
Titanium Star a Sci Fi/Western series of mini series by Victor Gischler and Sam Tung

10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – Glenn Matchett

Yesterday we kicked off a series of interviews with those associated with GrayHaven Comics and The Gathering. You can read our first entry.

Today, we’ve got the second entry with comic book writer and senior editor for GrayHaven Comics Glenn Matchett.

Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic book industry?

Glenn Matchett: It’s been my dream to write comics for over 10 years now. I’ve worked on writing styles and ways to plot and script in all that time.  I really began as a fan to be honest and it wasn’t until Andrew came up with the original proposal for the Gathering that I got my first comics work printed.

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

GM: Yes for many years, since as far back as I can remember.  I did a series of articles on Grayhaven’s website titled ‘My Life As An Irish Fanboy’ which details me learning to read with UK comics such as the Beano and takes the reader up to the point I begin to write comics.  I can’t seem to locate part 1 but here’s part 2 that talks about my passion for Sonic the Hedgehog comics in my youth lol http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2011/12/16/my-life-as-an-irish-fanboy-part-2/

GP: Do you read comics now? If so, what are some of your current picks?

GM: Oh yes, too many.  I think Batman under Scott Snyder’s pen may be a modern classic in the making.  Dan Slott is also doing great work on Amazing Spider-Man at the moment.  I love Robert Kirkman’s indie titles especially Walking Dead and Invincible which I collect in the lovely yearly hardcovers.  I wait forever for those things and devour them in no time and then end up having to wait all over again.

GP: How did you get involved with The Gathering?

GM: I had known Andrew for a while as a fellow poster on Brian Michael Bendis Jinxworld forums.  Both he and I were huge Spider-Man fans so we got a connection quickly.  He basically proposed to the people who posted in a thread we both frequented (the DCU megathread) about doing a one off comic for laughs.  I gave a pitch for a 2 page story and he liked it.

GP:  Each issue of The Gathering has a theme, how did that factor into the comic creation?

GM: It’s an interesting challenge I feel.  There are particular genres I feel very comfortable with and others less so.  Working with various themes allows me to play outside my comfort zone.  It’s also interesting to try and go ‘okay what hasn’t been done before’.  The interesting thing about Grayhaven and the Gathering is how many talented folks we have.  You have to stand out and go ‘well what will no one else think of?’ and I enjoy that a great deal.

GP: What advice would you give to independent creators just breaking into the business?

GM: Write every day and never give up.  It’s cliché but it’s true that if you want to write you should just write.  I may be in the minority here but I feel writing is not something you can learn from a book or a classroom it is something that has to be deep inside you.  As an editor for Grayhaven I’ve learned the difference between people who write and those who are writers.  You have to keep plugging and along and listen to the advice you’re given.  Don’t take a break and don’t come up with excuses not to do it.  If you’re serious about writing you will make the time.  You’ll also hear a lot of people tell you that you can’t do it or it’s too hard.  It’s not easy and no not everyone will make it but you will never forgive yourself if you don’t try.  Hard work does pay off in the end I feel.

GP: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned through your experiences?

GM: Oh god there are so many.  Both from the editing and the writing I’ve learned a lot.  I think even though I thought I was doing this initially I think I’ve learned to not give the artists such a huge headache.  It literally takes me seconds to write ‘and there’s a fight scene involving 1 million people!’ but someone has to draw that and it will take considerably longer than a few seconds.  Just because you’re only given a few pages don’t overdo it on the multiple panels either.  Try to think of how you can apply ‘less is more’ to your stories.   Basically I’ve learned how to be a better writer by just doing it and that leads back to my point earlier.

GP: Do you think it’s easier today for creators to get published?

GM: With the internet and things that in a way yes it is.  However since there are new ways to get yourself out there and more avenues available to get your work noticed it’s hard to stand out in the crowd.  Its swings and roundabouts really because in some ways yes it is easier but that in itself makes it harder to stand out.  Since the success of Walking Dead there has been an explosion of zombie related comics trying to capture the same ‘lightening in a bottle’.  Don’t get lost in the shuffle think ‘well how is my zombie story or whatever different from his or hers?’  That’s the challenge now I feel.

GP:  How do you think technology like social networking or crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter are impacting comic book publishing?

GM: Without social networking and kickstarter there might not be a Grayhaven comics.  Using avenues like the ones you mentioned and others like Twitter have got us some serious talent.  There are is a lot of amazing artists out there that no one has ever heard of and we’re given this great tool to find them.  It also brought our work to the attention of some pro’s who are doing some stories for us down the line.  It’s been invaluable and I see the same story all across the internet.  Again there are more ways to get your work out there but capturing people’s attention will be the new stumbling block to success.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

GM: Editing wise I’m currently pushing out our third and final Gathering Horror anthology that should be available to buy soon.  Our Horror anthologies have been incredibly popular so we’re splitting them off into their own series ‘Tales Of The Abyss’ which I’m co-editing with Erica Heflin.  This is going to be the book where we really give our best creators a bigger playing ground and will feature a regularly appearing story from comic Pro Sterling Gates.

I’m also editing the second Sci-Fi and Fairy Tale volumes next year.  I edited both the initial volumes and they turned out very well so I want to top that next year.  I’m also editing something else that hasn’t officially be announced but could be our most successful anthology ever so stay tuned for that.

Writing wise I have stories coming up in Horror 3 with artist George Amaru, our first Dark Anthology with Arcadio Bolanos, Western with Amanda Rachels and True Ghost Stories with Alan Anguiano.  I also have stories and scripts written for our Mystery volume and the Superhero volume out next year as well as one of the stories in our third issue in Tales Of The Abyss.

Also late this year I will be very proud to debut my own one shot entitled ‘Sparks’ that is being drawn by Cassandra James.  This is a story I first came up with when I was 16 or 17 and I can’t wait to see it finally in print.  I don’t want to say a lot about it but I think people will certainly find something different in its pages.  I’m also plotting out a sequel in my mind at this time so I very much hope it becomes a regular thing maybe 2-3 times a year.

I’m also involved in the Gathering Phase 2 which is allowing some of our creators to publish their own creator owned work.  I’ve got a project approved for that too which I’m thinking might even be a series of mini’s.  Don’t want to say much about that since its in the early stages but I will say it may be the best idea I’ve ever had and allows me to pay partial tribute to one of the reasons I’m a writer.

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