MINDY NEWELL: Meeting Deadlines
God Bless Mike Gold.
One thing about being a writer.
If you want to be considered a professional, you need to understand that deadlines are part of the job.
There have been a few times in my writing life where I have missed my deadline. It doesn’t engender good feelings on anyone’s part.
Missing a deadline is like being Aaron Rodgers in yesterday’s Giants/Packers game. It’s throwing one too many turnover. It’s getting sacked one too many times. It’s knowing that you’re letting down your teammates who are depending on you. In the comics world, it’s not just your editor, who will have to answer to his or her boss. It’s letting down the artist, the penciller, the inker, the colorist, the letterer. It’s letting down the production department. The scheduling department. The printers. The distributors. It’s letting down the comic shop owner is dependent on monthly arrivals of books on a monthly schedule to help meet their monthly budget, including expenses and net profit.
Most importantly, it’s letting down your readers.
Remember 24? Each week the hour ended with a terrific cliffhanger, and the next seven days were murder. You haunted all the spoiler boards. You got into heated discussions on your favorite 24 message board about what could be next, how Jack was going to get out of this one. You twisted your brain trying to outwit the terrorists that are about to set off a nuclear bomb in Port Newark.
It’s the same with comics. Think about the last time you were heavily involved in some storyline that ended each month in a terrific cliffhanger. You can’t wait for the next issue.
And like any good comic geek, you talk about it all day and all night, surf the web looking for information on what’s coming up next, write the next chapter in your imagination.
And then you walk into the your friendly neighborhood comic shop and the proprietor tells you that the issue is delayed.
How many times has that happened?
What was your reaction?
Lots of cursing, I bet. Lots of swearing that you’ll never read an issue of fill-in-your-favorite-book-title-here again. And then you go home and log on to your favorite fan site and let everybody know what a dick the writer is, and not only will you never buy an issue of that comic again, you’ll never read anything by that dick again, you’ll never even buy a comic from that dick company again!!!!!
And then sales go down, and the comic is cancelled. The writer loses his or her job, the artist moves on to the next thing if he or she can, the editor is hauled into his or her boss’s office, and the domino effect continues. All the way down the line.
And just maybe because a deadline was missed once too often, your neighborhood comic book shop closes. And now someone else is out of work.
And most likely the penciller, the inker, the colorist, the letterer will get more work. The production department will move one. So will scheduling, and the printer, and the distributor. Even the editor will move on.
But the writer, the one who came up with the brilliant idea, the one who made the story come alive in the first place?
You’ll have the Mark of Cain on you. Oh, yes, word gets around.
And the only writing you’ll do is the weekly shopping list.
Oh, and writing out the checks.
If you can afford it.
There’s a reason why they’re called DEADlines.
TUESDAY: Michael Davis