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  • Hyper Epics

At this point in time, everyone in the country (and around the globe) has been isolated and quarantined far too long. The COVID-19 crisis has threatened our health, disrupted our lifestyles and generally turned the world upside-down.

Not to diminish the importance of the pandemic, but maybe--just maybe--there has been a way to cope with this right under our noses all along. I can't think of a better way to occupy my downtime--stuck in my house and trying to maintain my "social distance"--then catching up on my reading. And what better place to start than with the four-color fantasy of comic books?

Now, I may be slightly biased--having been an avid comic book fan for more than a half-century and a comics professional since the 1970s--but nothing beats spending a few quiet hours with a stack of comics or (in the case of Hyper Epics) with a laptop, scrolling through a few of our three-page masterpieces.

Think about it. I'd be willing to wager than most of us--men, women and the occasional ET who may be reading this--have fond memories of thumbing through well-worn copies of our favorite comic books.

I can't be the only one here who read and re-read comics as a youngster until the covers were ready for fall off. And that was, usually, when our well-intentioned mothers insisted we toss them.

I vividly recall, lo these many decades later, when my mom threw out an old issue of Wonder Woman while I was at school. It was a classic comic from the '50s that had committed only one fatal crime: it had lost its cover and so, in my mom's eyes, had lost its value. I think I may have cried that night. I wasn't finished re-reading that comic yet.

Maybe this is the perfect time to combat the evils of this pandemic with the inherent goodness of comic books. Or, at least, with the joy of reading our little Epics on a computer screen.

Try it out today. Read one (or more) of our original stories. And then try to tell me you don't feel better for it. The real world can wait. The world of the imagination is calling.

Enjoy.

Peace,

Thomas A. Tuna

Managing Editor

  • Hyper Epics


I don't know of any comic book fan who didn't want to try their hand at a script or create a new super-hero (or a sympathetic villain). And while starting the process is not as easy as it may appear, it's not terribly difficult if you have the desire, a working background of the medium and a modicum of writing and storytelling talent.


There's no way to condense everything you should know about starting a comic book script in one article, but the following are a few steps to get you pointed in the right direction if you're driven to enter the wonderfully creative world of illustrated fiction.


1) To start with, it really helps if you're a true fan--someone who has bought, read and collected comics of all genres. You should know your stuff--backgrounds of heroes and villains, origin stories, supporting characters and where their adventures have taken them through the years. Do your research and love what you're writing about. It really helps.


2) Be prepared to tell a good story. Writers in any field aren't just wordsmiths who know the proper punctuation and grammar (but make sure you do), but they're comfortable with and capable of telling an interesting story. You may have created a terrific new hero or villain, but if you don't place him in a viable story line that will grip the reader, you haven't closed the deal.


3) Write a detailed plot outline of the entire script. I'm not going to get into what it takes to sell your story to a publisher (maybe another day), but a busy editor won't spend much time on your idea if you don't give him a well-written and well-thought-out plot. That's the meat you need before you sit down with dessert.


4) Speaking of dessert, the next step gets you closer to the sweets. Break down your plot outline into a page-by-page working draft of what will become your script. How many pages? If you're interested in the anthology-type of horror comic, a rule of thumb is stick with 10 pages or less. The best guide is: Write until the story is finished. If you really know your subject matter and where you're going with your plot, you'll know when to wrap it up.


5) Now's the time for the completed, polished (proofread and double-checked) script. Break down each page of your full outline into individual panels, complete with dialogue and captions. This part of the process can be the most fun--putting words into the mouths of your characters and writing crisp, expository captions. Remember to ALWAYS write your captions in the present tense. Comics is a "now" medium. Keep it real; keep it happening.


Again, all this hinges on your writing skills and being able to string together several words without tripping over them.


And loving telling a good story with powerful action words. Have fun; that's the key.


Maybe I'll see you in the funny papers!


Thomas A. Tuna

Managing Editor

  • Hyper Epics

I have a confession to make. As much as I love writing and editing comic books (hard to believe that I started as a wet-behind-the-ears 20-year-old scripting stories for Charlton back in the 70s), when someone asks me what I do for a living, I almost always just say, "Well, I'm a writer."


Then, if they push and ask if I write fiction or non-fiction, I say I've been a journalist for several newspapers, but what I really love most is (gulp!) writing comic books. Then I wait for the reaction. To my surprise, most of the time, it's positive. They think it's cool I write comics.


Well, to that end, I'd like to pay homage to several stellar comic book authors who inspired me to follow this crazy path. Now, I'm not worthy to reboot the computers of these guys, but I tried to learn as much as I could from them and I encourage you to read and re-read as many of their books as you can find.


In no particular order, my Top Five Comic Book Writers are:











* Stan Lee. OK, I know, a no-brainer. Except for my parents and my maternal grandmother, no one had a greater impact on my life than Stan Lee. I never had the privilege of meeting the man, but his presence has permeated my life for more than a half-century. He's the reason I wanted to become a writer, specifically a comic book writer. All his scripts, all the incredible characters he created were so vitally important to me growing up. He saw comic book super-heroes as real people, with real problems and foibles. What he was really saying, I believe, was that anyone could be a super-hero. When you think of The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, the Avengers, the X-Men and dozens more, you think of Stan. May he forever rest in peace. Excelsior!












* Gardner Fox: DC Comics' equivalent of Stan Lee. The single most important writer for DC in the 50s and 60s, Fox scripted more than 4,000 comic books during his long career. The only reason I didn't hold Fox is as much esteem as I did Stan was that back then, DC was lax in giving their writers and artists credits on Page One of their comics. I didn't know who he was until much later in my life, but, boy, did I appreciate his contributions then. Fox helped create the Flash, Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Zatanna and the original Sandman, and teamed up those and other heroes as the Justice Society of America and later recreated the team as the Justice League of America. Whew! Somewhere he and Stan are dreaming up another great character right now.












* Roy Thomas: It has been written that as great as Stan Lee was, his most important contribution to the comic book world is that he hired Roy Thomas. Roy's writing brilliance was quickly recognized by fans and collaborators alike and he moved up to the editor in chief's chair at Marvel to lead the brand to new heights. He took Stan's beloved characters and story lines and stretched them in directions never dreamed of. His work on the Avengers and Conan (among others) made him a household name. His stunning dialogue and revolutionary captions caught my young eye and had a great influence on my writing style. Arguably the best comic book wordsmith ever, "Rascally Roy" can flat-out write.











* Denny O'Neil: A legend in the industry, O'Neil is best known for revolutionizing the Batman titles and creating the award-winning Green Lantern/Green Arrow series in the turbulent 1970s. He brought a breath of realism and hard-hitting everyday living to several DC characters, traits they had been sorely lacking until then. His work with star artist Neal Adams on both Batman and GL/GA are stellar examples of comic book story and art. And if these contributions to DC's legacy to readers like me weren't enough, O'Neil never wrote a mediocre story. I learned so much from him about script structure, character development and storytelling. A true professional.










* Chris Claremont: What can you say about the writer who made the X-Men into one of the most popular titles in the history of comics? His long and storied run on the X-titles with artist John Byrne cemented their place in industry lore along with other outstanding writer/artist teams like Lee/Kirby, Thomas/Buscema and O'Neil/Adams. From Claremont, I learned the importance of writing important captions (not just the usual "Meanwhile..." or "Back at the Daily Planet..." or "Later"). Claremont used captions to further the story and give readers a better insight into the characters and their feelings. Simply put, he wrote comics like no one had before him.


I'd be remiss if I stopped at these five giants and didn't at least mention a few others who influenced me and thrilled millions of comic book fans everywhere. Writers like Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Archie Goodwin, Steve Englehart, Geoff Johns and so many more. The comic book world has indeed been blessed with so many gifted writers whose greatest talent is their love of comic books themselves. I'm proud to have read their stories and, in some small way, to be doing what they did so well.


Peace,

Thomas A. Tuna,

Managing Editor

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