Friday, June 1, 2012

Secrets Of The Shadow Legion Part One...With Added Commentary On Controversial Comic-Related Topics!

This was a preliminary version of the promotional
image Michelle Scuito put together before we
went for the one featuring all the characters
peering out at the viewer.....
I'm taking a break from doing the introduction of our characters to let you in on a little something about the creation of this series, and tie it in to something that is happening right now in the world of comic, it'll tie into a contest we'll be having when the book comes out.

For the longest time, I was involved with writing super-hero fanfiction. This was something I did after I experienced a personal trauma that resulted in something of a writer's block when it came to original fiction (don't worry; I got better...;)). I wrote a slew of stuff for a number of fanfic sites, many of which are still operating today. One of those sites was DC Omega, where in its earlier iteration I wrote some Titans and Green Arrow stories.

Now sometime last year I became disillusioned with superhero comics--a hobby I had pursued for literally decades--with the announcement of 'The New 52,' a reboot of the DC Universe (well, we learned, the company's two biggest franchises, Green Lantern and Batman, remained untouched by this 'radical new direction')--prompting me to go cold turkey. But I still had an urge to say something about this I contacted the present E-i-C of DC Omega, which I had learned was planning on doing a true reboot of the site, Gavin McMahon and offered my services.

Gavin was amenable to my doing something for the site, and I polled my friends on Facebook, asking them to suggest obscure DC characters they'd like to see me rework. I picked the most intriguing of these suggestions--six in total--and got to work on figuring out what my versions of these characters would be like in the DC Omega newly started universe.

But here's what happened...

As I developed the new versions of these DC heroes, they strayed far of their original conceptions. They strayed so far, in fact, that I had the nagging feeling that I should turn them into entirely original characters and see if I could finally make something worthwhile....something I might own myself.

I sent out a copy of the outline I was working up for Gavin to a number of my writer friends who either had a background in comics or fanfiction. Amongst them was Ron Fortier, the mastermind of Airship 27. Everyone pretty much told me I was right in pursuing it as an original property, but Ron put his money where his mouth was.

This needs to be pushed to the boundaries you are following, he wrote me, and made into a novel.

Ron offered me the opportunity to bring what is now The Shadow Legion--he suggested the name, and it stuck--on the spot.
Continuing one of the milestones of super-hero literature's our IP, and we want more money form it.

Now I present this little peek behind the curtain because as I post this, the first of the Before Watchmen issues will soon be released. There's been a lot of controversy over Alan Moore's asking that this project not be done...much of which involves certain fans (and you know who you are!) insisting that Moore is being disingenuous with his demands that his creations not be revived in a cynical marketing ploy by a bunch of cynical writers (if you can call Brian 'If My HBO Went Out I'd Have Nothing To Write About' Azzarello a writer) who care more about the headlines they're generating than producing art when the Watchmen characters were extrapolated by Moore from the Charlton Comics' 'Action Hero' line of the 60's.

Here's the thing, though...just like I originally began The Shadow Legion as a fanfic featuring a handful of obscure extant characters and brought them so far afield that they became original characters in and of themselves, Alan Moore took those Charlton Characters and, in fashioning them to fit the story he wanted to tell, brought them so far afield that they became original characters as well. Yes, some of the Watchmen characters have resemblances to the Charlton characters that inspired them, but they're mostly superficial--i.e. Nite Owl has a special ship and is a legacy character, Rorschach wears a trenchcoat and a concealing mask--but for every one that bears those superficial resemblances, there are others that end up with no commonality with their inspiration, like Silk Spectre and Ozymandius.

(And for those of you who start crying 'But Moore desecrated family literary icons like Dorothy Gale in ways their creator wouldn't have approved of!', I say there's a big difference between using characters whose creators have long died and fallen into the public domain and characters whose creator is not only alive, but asking politely for you not to do this thing...)

It is possible to take inspiration from extant works...given how long and wide and deep previous literature is, it's hard not to stumble onto something that has been done before. But it's what you do with that inspiration that potentially makes what comes out of it yours. It's what makes The Watchmen Alan Moore's, and hopefully makes The Shadow Legion mine.

I'll let you in on more secrets as we move closer to release....

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