IntroductionDavid B. Schwartz is living the dream of many comic book enthusiasts. He has a comic book through Image that has been released in both comic book and graphic novel form. Getting his comic from concept to finished form has been quite a trial by fire, losing artists and having to start over from scratch, as well as facing rejection of his original idea and having to rework it into something different. His journey on this project is a great tale for anyone interested in creating their own comic books, as well as just plain ol' comic book fans everywhere. What follows is an email interview with the writer and creator of Meltdown, David B. Schwartz.
InterviewAaron Albert: I think many other sites have already done a lot about how you got into comic books so I don’t necessarily need to go into it much here. Basically you went to San Diego, started to network with editors and publishers, then started to send out pitches. The question is, was it easier or harder to get into comic books than you thought it would be? Why or why not?
David B. Schwartz: Well, my expectations were pretty low. I knew going in how highly competitive it is to break into the field, particularly as a writer. If you’re a great artist it’s pretty easy to show off your stuff. A good editor can look at a few pages and see that you’ve got that elusive “it”. But writing just doesn’t jump off the page quickly and grab the eye in that same way. Being an unknown writer, it’s pretty hard to prove yourself.
So, I was very pleasantly surprised when one of my first pitches got picked up. Honestly, though, I think it was really a matter of luck as much as anything else. I happened to hit up the right editor (Image’s then-Publisher Jim Valentino), at the right moment, with the right concept, with a very talented artist (John-Paul Leon) attached at that point, and everything just clicked. p The large bribe I sent Jim probably didn’t hurt, either. A big bag of unmarked hundred dollar bills can always help make a pitch significantly more compelling. AA: In working for Image, if I’m not mistaken, you need to do all the comic creating work. What was the hardest part of putting Meltdown together? Was it when you lost your artists? Talk about that.
DBS: You’re right, working with Image means that you’ve gotta do pretty much everything on your own. In some ways it’s great, because you’ve got total artistic freedom. But in other ways it can be pretty daunting, because you’ve gotta serve not only as a creative force, but also as the editor, financier, accountant, PR and marketing maven, etc. It’s a lot of hats to wear, particularly when also juggling a day-gig and a family.
That’s not to say that Image isn’t tremendously helpful in every possible way, because they unquestionably were. They’re a spectacular team to work with, and I’m tremendously indebted to them for giving me a shot.
As far as a specific hardest part goes, [u]EVERY[/u] part of MELTDOWN’s production has been difficult, and there were many times where it seemed like the whole project, and all of my comic writing dreams, might collapse around me.
Losing the artists (the aforementioned John-Paul Leon, and the also amazingly gifted Bernard Chang) was a crushing blow, because it looked for a long time like I’d never be able to land a replacement. Luckily, just as I was at the end of my rope, I ran into Sean, and, again, everything just clicked. He’s not only an incredible artist, but also a wonderful collaborator and a consummate professional.
Finding a great colorist who believed in the project enough to be willing to work on our little indie budget was equally daunting. And then there were times when it looked like we’d never make our deadlines; that we’d never get any publicity for the book; when we had to deal with a well-publicized cover art controversy; and many more potential pitfalls.
But, we pushed through it all, never giving up on the project, never giving up on my comic writing dreams and, in the end, all of those challenges it’s just made the final result that much sweeter.
AA: When you first had the idea for Meltdown, it was for a pitch for Marvel comics and the main character was Sunfire. What was it like to go from your original concept to what it is now? Were you a little sad to see your original idea change the way it did? What was the process like?
DBS: It would’ve been tremendously cool to write for Marvel. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that, one day in the not-too-distant future, I’ll have the opportunity to do so. But, honestly, I couldn’t be happier about how things turned out on MELTDOWN.
Taking MELTDOWN away from an established character allowed me to make it a very personal story. And, while it would’ve been very cool (no pun intended) to get inside Sunfire’s head, there’s nothing like being able to build your own character from the ground up. So, no, it wasn’t sad at all.