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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 04:11 pm:   

I just picked up the first issue of Richard Morgan's Black Widow comic. Bill S's artwork is VERY solid - best interior work I've seen him do in years, and the tone of the art and story seem to be meshing quite nicely.

Since the story is pretty much being set up in the first issue, I can't comment on it too much, other then to say I am very intrigued and can't wait for #2.

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Adam
Posted on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - 05:28 am:   

I read the first two issues of Black Widow back-to-back yesterday, and really enjoyed them both.

What impressed me overall was the strength of the characterisation. Too often, comics are simply strings of set-pieces, albeit tied together with an equally exciting plot. But they never slow down or reflect on themselves, which leaves the characters lacking at times.

In Black Widow, there are quiet moments in cars, whispers in darkened houses and conversations in bathrooms where real life take place, revealing feelings, humour, regret, guilt and so on - all the things that take 'beings' and make them 'characters'. I knew nothing of Natasha before this series, but finished the books feeling great empathy and sympathy for her, and maybe a little fear and her occasional, yet highly motivated bursts of violence.

This is very impressive considering the brutal limits on time and space comic writers have.

On a slight downer, it was shame that art duties were split between Goran Parlov and Bill Siekiewicz, considering the excellent job Bill did on Issue 1. I imagine you had no part in this, Richard, but Goran's pencilling was a little too 'Alias' for my liking.

But an excellent cliffhanger means I'm waiting eagerly for Issue 3.
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richard
Posted on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - 12:14 pm:   

Thanks Adam - much appreciated.

For me, the real delight of creating *any* fiction is in these little character moments you mention, and I couldn't see any reason to work differently with the comic. The whole reason I took on the Black Widow gig was because as soon as Jenny Lee introduced me to Natasha, the character instantly reached out and grabbed me - I wouldn't have been up for it otherwise.

Many more cliffhangers to come...that's a promise :-)
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Robert Burke Richardson
Posted on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - 12:19 am:   

Just spotted this interview Richard did on Black Widow over at CBR. Love the pacing and the characterization -- screw the cliffhangers!

*bites nails nervously while waiting for next month*
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Adam
Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 06:52 am:   

Richard - in the interview above was this quote from you...

" I'm talking to Jenny Lee about either an on-going monthly or a second mini-series, but nothing's finalized as yet," Morgan said. "I'd love to do either. I'm immersed in the character now and there's huge mileage left in both Natasha's internal dynamics and the global plot she's webbed up in."

How would a monthly title affect your novel writing?

ps. Any updates for the website about what you've been up to? It's even more 'cobwebby' now!
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richard
Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 02:31 pm:   

Hi Adam - yeah, guilty as charged. The site badly needs an update, and there's certainly a stack of stuff I could put on it, but I've been distracted. I was gone for a month and a half in Peru and Bolivia, then in Madrid for a while, then I came back to find my front door had been kicked in and I'd been efficiently if superficially burgled. The fact it all went down a couple of weeks before I got back didn't help matters when it came to dealing with aftermath - police reports, insurance, new door etc...that plus interviews in London with overseas publishers and plus I managed to get my traditional winter flu early...I did sit down last night and try to compose but my head was too full of snot to think straight. But I'm on it.

Re doing a monthly Black Widow, I've actually found it quite restful writing the comic alongside my other work. Every time I reach saturation point with my prose, I find I can switch horses and do some comic work, then come back to the novel refreshed. The truth is that being required to write one novel a year isn't a huge imposition - I don't think I'm blowing any author secrets here by saying that being a full time writer is an easy gig compared with the day jobs most people I know hold down. Just takes a decent measure of time management - the hardest part is usually the racking your brains for ideas before you kick off, and that's not a time intensive thing - more Zen in fact - the less your think about it, the more likely inspiration is likely to come and smack you in the head.
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Will Hindmarch
Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 09:31 pm:   

You got robbed? Get even in fiction.
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - 02:29 pm:   

Richard --

I just got through reading the first three issues of Black Widow. Good stuff! I weaned myself off of comics years ago, but still pick up a few books now and then. This was one I'd been waiting for since you first mentioned it, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading them.

The reason it took me so long is that I didn't know where any local comic shops were. I used Marvel's website to help me find one, but never got around to seeking it out. Then, lo and behold, a comic shop found me. Where there once was an empty store, now lives a comic shop. Lucky me.

I'm curious -- have you talked to your book publisher at all about possibly advertising in the comic? I ask, because I wondered if comic book writers are familiar with your other work. I keep thinking that there would be a lot of audience crossover with SF and comics, but I've never been able to convince Gordon to do any marketing in that direction. Though I don't know that I've ever seen a comic shop that carries any of the fiction magazines, so perhaps there is no crossover after all.

But speaking of books...looking forward to the new Kovacs book, due out in March, is it? I assume it will still be released only in the UK in 2005 (with a 2006 US pub date)?

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richard
Posted on Thursday, November 25, 2004 - 05:43 am:   

Hi John - thanks for the kind words.

There certainly is some crossover between markets here; I've seen a couple of comments on comic forums along the lines of "I'm going to check out this guy's novels" and others who bought BW primarily because they'd read Altered Carbon and/or Broken Angels. And if you look at magazines like SFX, you can clearly see a big chunk of common ground out there. Perhaps this shouldn't be so suprising, since modern SF is so deeply rooted in the pulp tradition, and a lot of stuff now being taken seriously in SF literature has long been the common domain of comics. Alien life forms, alternate dimensions, hardened super-elements, advanced battle-tech, mutants....there isn't, in the end, a lot of space between the X-men and John Wyndham's Chrysalids (though there I suspect the order of influence is reversed, but the idea of super-powered mutants probably predates Chrysalids by a couple of decades in one comic or other) Same thing with SF movies - Judge Dredd predates Robocop, and I always thought Aliens had a real whiff of 2000 AD's Bad Company about it.

Whether this would translate into a pursuable ad policy, I really don't know. Like most writers, I maintain a rather smug distance from the mechanics of actually selling my work (tho' I'm not one of these rather suspect prima donnas who spend their time deploring the
"commercialisation of publishing" while eagerly waiting for the next royalty cheque - got no fucking time for that stuff). Who knows - might work. But I've never seen a novel advertised in a comic before, and I'd think there's got to be a reason for that. The publishing sales people I've met on both sides of the Atlantic all seem pretty switched on to the possibilities and you'd think they'd be doing it by now if it worked.
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richard
Posted on Thursday, November 25, 2004 - 05:45 am:   

Ah - forgot. Yes, you' re right about WOKEN FURIES (Kovacs 3). It's out in March next year here in the UK, presumably a year later in the US. Hope you'll like it.
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Robert Burke Richardson
Posted on Thursday, November 25, 2004 - 12:28 pm:   

John;

Perhaps more effective than advertising in comics would be getting F&SF into Diamond's ordering catalogue so direct market comic shops could carry it. Comic shop patrons are the most concentrated (about 500,000 people in North America) group of people who would be open to sampling F&SF you're likely to find. If you could manage an issue with Richard Morgan or Warren Ellis or Grant Morrison on the cover, I think the crossover would be considerable (plus F&SF costs only a dollar or two more than a comic).

Some info on advertising with Marvel is available here: http://www.marvel.com/company/media_kit.htm

Sorry for pulling the thread off-topic :-)
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Adam
Posted on Friday, November 26, 2004 - 07:03 am:   

Richard - sorry to hear about the burglary - I guess you do have more important things than the website on...

And that's good news regarding the writing process, and comics not getting in the way -

"I don't think I'm blowing any author secrets here by saying that being a full time writer is an easy gig compared with the day jobs most people I know hold down."

- and that comment was rather amusing. Does everyone else agree?

Roll on March!

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Andrew J. Breitenbach
Posted on Friday, December 24, 2004 - 01:51 am:   

f crossover:

"Locus" is distributed via Diamond, so I always see it (and buy it when I do) at ye locale comic book shop. I second John Joseph Adams's opinion that Van Gelder should try to get Diamond to distribute "F&SF". Diamond doesn't "do" returns, so you certainly wouldn't have to worry about sell-through....

That all said, I usually will buy comics by sf writers I like instead of vice versa (otherwise I would never have bought "Black Widow" -- which is entertaining as all get-out, incidentally). Have *you* ever tried to read one of Chris Claremont's execrable novels?

>>shudder<<


--Andrew J. Breitenbach
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Claudio Cicchini
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 09:51 pm:   

The first time I had heard of you was in an interview on the Newsarama web site, which prompted me to go out and get Altered Carbon...I think I inhaled that novel in 15 seconds :-) Broken Angels came soon after that, which gave me a fair idea of what your take on Black Widow was going to be and boy have you NOT disappointed.

What I especially like is the pacing of the storyline. It feels like I'm reading a novel in a graphic format. The mini series progresses significantly with each issue, nothing is padded. I also love how you managed to tweak Black Widow's origin without contradicting anything that came before (at least to my knowledge). I'm not a stickler for continuity or anything, but it's impressive how seamlessly you weaved this new element into her origins. Other comic book writers should take a cue from this.

Jenny Lee should be commended for seeking you out. Both of you exhibit the right passion for the comic book industry.

I would love to see you do further mini series on Black Widow. I'd also love to see your take pn Psylocke :-)

Claudio
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 07:29 am:   

Richard -- It didn't occur to me when you first mentioned that Jenny Lee recruited you, but upon seeing her name just now, I wondered: is she a relation of Stan Lee? Daughter, granddaughter, something like that?
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richard
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 10:03 am:   

No, I thought that too when she contacted me but she's not. Jenny's Korean American and Stan Lee...uh...isn't

Thanks for the kind words Claudio - in fact I ended up with a rather compressed storyline because I'm just not used to the constraints of the form. I think I said in the Newsarama interview that my first shot at issue 1 turned out to have all the material for issue 1 and 2 and then some - well, that continues to be a defining factor, I've got a stack of stuff I want to bring on and a very limited space in which to deploy it - I've resolved this by leaving a lot of the action implied in hints rather than played out dead centre. I find that this approach helps to give a solidity to character and relationship by implication as well
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Claudio Cicchini
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 06:10 pm:   

Well I think you nailed the pacing quite well in this case. Props once again to Jenny Lee for helping you out with that.

Your storytelling approach is also a good one because it utilises the comic book medium (for lack of a better term) to its fullest extent. I don't read too many other titles, but I think 100 Bullets is the only other book (at least to my knowledge) that uses this approach as well and both it and Black Widow make for very strong reads.

Hopefully people are taking notice because (and I'm sure others will agree) we would like to see more of your work in the comic book industry.

Personally, if you were to continue to write Black Widow, I would like to see it published as a series of mini series rather than an ongoing monthly. She's an extremely interesting character (one of my favourites) but with todays market being what it is, Black Widow would benefit more if her stories came out on an intermittent schedule.

This is just my own personal opinion, but Elektra is a good example of an interesting character that couldn't sustain a monthly series (the quality of the stories are a different topic altogether, but hopefully you can see where I am going with this). On the other side of that coin, you have Birds of Prey, which started out as a series of mini-series and developed enough of a fan base to justify a monthly.

Claudio
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Claudio Cicchini
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 07:55 pm:   

Well I think you nailed the pacing quite well in this case. Props once again to Jenny Lee for helping you out with that.

Your storytelling approach is also a good one because it utilises the comic book medium (for lack of a better term) to its fullest extent. I don't read too many other titles, but I think 100 Bullets is the only other book (at least to my knowledge) that uses this approach as well and both it and Black Widow make for very strong reads.

Hopefully people are taking notice because (and I'm sure others will agree) we would like to see more of your work in the comic book industry.

Personally, if you were to continue to write Black Widow, I would like to see it published as a series of mini series rather than an ongoing monthly. She's an extremely interesting character (one of my favourites) but with todays market being what it is, Black Widow would probably benefit more if her stories came out on an intermittent schedule.

This is just my own personal opinion, but Elektra is a good example of an interesting character that couldn't sustain a monthly series (the quality of the stories are a different topic altogether, but hopefully you can see where I am going with this). On the other side of that coin, there's Birds of Prey, which started out as a series of mini series and then grew into a monthly.

Claudio

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