Strange week this week, with edit notes coming in on X-Men#203, Fakers#3 and #4 and Crossing Midnight#13. I don’t know if this is true for every writer, but for me, rewrites are always a lot harder than first drafts.
I think it’s because you’re not just writing, you’re also unwriting. Okay, this page has to go, but I’d love to keep this line of dialogue. If this character doesn’t enter here, then how can I bring him in smoothly later, et cetera. There’s something about it that goes against the grain, even if you agree with the reasoning behind the edit.
The first comic I ever wrote for a US publisher was a kind of dramatised biography of Ozzy Osbourne for Malibu’s Rock-It comics division. It was fun to do because Ozzy is a fascinating character and his life has been pretty weird at times. I sent in the first draft and waited anxiously for the editorial response.
In the end it wasn’t that tough an edit, but it did contain one bitter pill. The publishers had decided to include some photos and a prose article, so they wanted me to condense the script by four pages, from 34 to 30 in total.
Gnngrrrwww! Twelve per cent of my masterpiece, obliterated. I kicked some boxes around the room, taught the cat some more swear words and then buckled down to it. It took the best part of a day, because I wanted to keep as much of the material intact as I could, and I wanted to do that without having insane panel counts on the remaining pages.
In the end it was done, and draft two was duly signed off and passed along to the artist. The trauma was over and I could begin to heal.
Then the pay check arrived. Thirty pages at $50 per page: $1500.
I had worked for a whole day at REDUCING my payment for the job by $200.
I know that’s not the right way to look at it. The payment is for the finished work, which includes all redrafting. If the page count changes, then yeah, your bottom line will change too and there’s nothing you can do about that. But it still felt like for that day’s work I’d been paid in anti-dollars: crackling, energy-arcing black banknotes that had the power to disintegrate normal money on contact. I was inconsolable.
By comparison, these dialogue tweaks are pretty small potatoes…