Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Monday, June 06, 2005

Larry Young Is Wrong

Larry Young, the head of AiT/PlanetLar Comics and patron saint of self-publishing comics, has a famous saying he directs towards wanna-bes:

“You want to make comics? Go ahead. Nobody’s stopping you.”

Good advice: Straightforward. Uncomplicated. Wrong.

Larry, of course there’s somebody stopping me.


A four-character scene plays in my head whenever I set to work on my own comic. If you would please allow me the indulgence to set the stage and describe the players.

Physically, there’s just me. Slouched in a chair and staring at a computer screen, or hunched over a table, scribbling into a spiral notebook, I write in solitude.

The three devils who haunt me will here be named Archie, Jughead, and Reggie. Below is a recreation of the scene between your humble weblogger and his demonic triplets during a stint of writing a few days past.

HARVEY: Okay, where did I leave off last time?

REGGIE: Well, there’s “Trite Story #1,” “Trite Story #2,” and my personal favorite, “Giant Steaming Bowl of Crap.” That had promise.

HARVEY: Bite me. Okay…[looking in notebook] I like how this particular story’s been going, so I’ll plug more on this script today.

JUGHEAD: Do I smell ham?

HARVEY: No. Besides, we just ate.

JUGHEAD: I swear I smell ham.

ARCHIE: Are we gonna do this, or are we gonna be a pathetic collection of wanna-bes who talk a lot and get nothing done?

HARVEY: I’m here, right? I’m getting it done.

REGGIE: Badly.

HARVEY: That’s beside the point. The point is that I’m doing it.

REGGIE: So says the hack. That logic is what fills the world with bad novels, bad movies, bad art, all that stuff we hate. Do we want to add to that? Does the world need more junk?

HARVEY: I might create something good. Besides, this is good practice.

JUGHEAD: We should get Chinese takeout for lunch. Now.

HARVEY: We’re fat enough, thanks.

ARCHIE: We should compose these stories while we jog! That’d be great! We’d get in better shape and the stories would distract us from the running!

REGGIE: Remember when we tried jogging last week?

HARVEY: Oooh, yeah, that was bad.

REGGIE: So is this “script” we’re working on. Monkeys? Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, every halfwit comic guy puts monkeys in his story.

HARVEY: Monkeys are funny!

REGGIE: Monkeys are overused! Would it destroy what little remains of your brain to come up with something that gave off even the faintest aroma of creativity?

HARVEY: Like marmosets?

REGGIE: No! Not just switching animals! Stop thinking like everyone else!

ARCHIE: The tools aren’t important. It’s the outcome. Monkeys aren’t the issue. People have written love stories for millenia, and good ones can still be made.

HARVEY: Maybe I am too pickled in current comic thought…maybe I should stop and reassess where I’m going with all this.

JUGHEAD: The air conditioning isn’t turned up enough in here. Kinda stuffy. We need doughnuts.

REGGIE: Are you ready to write something decent? You know what comes out today will be nothing but tired clichéd garbage.

HARVEY: You may be right. -sigh-

ARCHIE: No, he’s not! Sit down and write! You don’t know what’ll come out until you start writing!

HARVEY: I’ll research today, and get writing in a few days.

ARCHIE: NO!! You keep saying you will, but you don’t. Man, you sound like a Keith Sweat song: “I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna.”* Sit down, shut up, and do the work now, or you never will.

JUGHEAD: We can’t work hungry. C’mon…General Tso’s Chicken…mmmm…**

HARVEY: Okay, okay, okay, I’ll work for a half-hour, then break for lunch.

REGGIE: Three-quarters of a page worth of drivel, coming up!

HARVEY: Zip it. [Starts to write]

ARCHIE: Yeah! Excellent! Do it! Do it! WOOO!!

REGGIE: Sure you don’t want to change that panel a bit, so it’d be, y’know, um, good?

HARVEY: No. I’m committed. [Scribbles more.]

REGGIE: You sure?

HARVEY: Hm. You're right. If I altered this line here, that’d make for a better story. [Rewrites a panel]

ARCHIE: NO! No editing! You’ll never finish if you stop to fix holes!

HARVEY: But this tiny change is so much better.

ARCHIE: That’s not important! You just have to finish!

HARVEY: Excuse me?

REGGIE: What’ll really sting is when we read this later, this script we poured our hearts and souls into, and realize it’s mediocre.

HARVEY: I’m not listening. [Scribbles more.]

JUGHEAD: We should play “Madden 2005” instead. And get a pizza.


[Mental fistfight breaks out. Ends with a little work done, doubts increased, and an unhealthy lunch of fried meat. At least Jughead ends up happy.]

On occasion Archie wins, and I produce. On others, Reggie convinces me that the talent deficiency I’ve demonstrated thus far is, in fact, incurable, and that I would be better served to spend my days mooning over the work of my superiors. Most of the time, Jughead wins. Mmmm…General Tso’s Chicken…

Sorry, Larry. I do not mean to make a liar of you.

La lucha continúa.

*My favorite motivational quote, from Do the Right Thing. No other quote stings quite so much. No other quote is quite so accurate. Damn you, Spike Lee.

**A close bud developed a working philosophy of life. “You know what’s good? General Tso’s Chicken. You know what sucks? That movie 'Point Break.'” Passing years have only proven my friend’s wisdom. Cling to these truths, my children, for they will ease your pain.