Showing posts with label Comic book writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Comic book writers. Show all posts

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The History of Champion City Comics - Part III - The Champion City Fire

The cover for our first issue

The Champion City Fire was the first webcomic/comic book project for Champion City Comics. It was initially pitched to comic book publishers as the first of a six issue comic book run, but a lack of interest led us to the world of webcomics.

My interest in writing comic books started sometime in 2004 when I was reviewing comic books for Silver Bullet Comics (RIP) and Erasing Clouds. My reviews mainly focused on small independent companies and self-publishers. Some of the titles were amazing while others were so bad that I should have scanned them, created a PDF, titled the thing 'How Not To Write Comics', and uploaded it to Scribd for the world to read.

If you followed the Erasing Clouds link then you saw the title of my column was Champion City Comics. I was born and raised in Springfield, Ohio, which was once referred to as "The Champion City" because it was the producer of the Champion Farm Equipment brand. Also, it works well for a comic book review article and it's even better for a comic book and webcomics community.

A few story ideas floated around in my head, but I decided to do something that blended noir with vigilante tales. I was reading a bunch of Batman graphic novels at the time and was watching films like Blast of Silence, The Killers (1946), and Le Cercle RogueThe Champion City Fire was a title that I wrote down in a notebook and it stuck with me for months. There was a story with that title and it took many synopsis revisions before I came up with a story that was good in my opinion.

I came up with a rough guide to a six issue comic book series c.2004 and a few months later I had developed a rough draft of issue #1 of The Champion City Fire. It wasn't easy, but I developed a twenty-five page script and eventually sent it to a colleague for review. Their critique of my script was blunt but diplomatic. It takes a special person to tell you that your story sucks. I re-wrote the script and my colleague found the changes to be an improvement. Then I was hit with a moment of inspiration, re-wrote the script again and sent it off for review. My colleague was impressed, and that mini boot camp of script writing was tough but necessary in my writing evolution.

Finding an artist was not difficult because my cousin, Joe Haemmerle, was a talented artist that graciously accepted my offer of collaborating on a comic book project. Joe must like me because he's still around some six years later. Also, he's still a very talented artist.

Let's talk about the story. The Champion City Fire is set in the mythological city of New Ravenwood, Ohio. Two time traveling vigilantes arrived twelve years ago and murdered ten of the most notorious criminals in the city. Detective Johnny Magnum was assigned to investigate the murders and discovered that all ten victims were in the proverbial doghouse of New Ravenwood's crime lord, Alex Empire. Magnum's top witness was an insane former used car salesman, but everything went cold and the cases were left unsolved. Fast forward twelve years and the time travelers have returned and are back to taking out New Ravenwood's infamous criminals. This is Magnum's last chance to solve the crime and figure out who was behind the murders.

I've re-written that previous paragraph plenty of times and have realized that my "hook" for grabbing readers might not have been solid as I wanted. At the time it was viewed by me as a golden script. No, it was a golden script plus it was in the running for an Eisner Award. I'm amazed that I didn't dust off some shelf space for the award I was sure to win.

I sort of cringe at character names like Johnny Magnum and Alex Empire, but I'm proud of the script. My earliest scripts didn't contain the hard-boiled inspired captions and dialogue. Those early scripts featured some seriously bland captions, plus a few captions were basically these horrible text bombs.

The artwork was also a work in progress. Joe and I knew that color comics were appealing to editors and readers, so we went with a style that looked incredible when we started the project. Below is the proposed first page of The Champion City Fire. Not only does it have the original artwork concept, but it features the early draft of the script which was heavily revised. This is what happens when you have a script that's not critiqued.

Not only did I revise the script, but Joe decided to give the story a new and improved design. The page below is the result of our changes. This is also page one of the story and you can see the differences.

The artwork by Joe Haemmerle is excellent and I love his minimalist use of colors. Joe's style is a great asset for Champion City Comics and I'm always excited to see what he brings to the table when we collaborate on a project.

Something I learned while researching writing a script is that you have the basic story people see on the surface but there is something else to your story that some readers may or may not recognize. The Champion City Fire is not just a story of time travelers and cold cases but it's also about how vigilante justice is basically an act of sheer folly. We're not talking a revenge tale, but the act of reactionaries serving as judge, jury, and executioner. It goes back to reading Batman graphic novels. Batman is one of my favorite characters and he's a vigilante. The inconvenient truth is that he's never solved the cycle of violence that plagues Gotham. Batman fueled the criminal fire and never put it out. The argument goes deeper than this statement and I'm sure an entire novel can be dedicated to vigilantes in comics.

I've embedded the story below for you to read and hope you enjoy the first twelve pages of The Champion City Fire. Yes, we only completed twelve of the twenty-five pages. It was always our intention to finish it, but we never got around to it, which is typical of some Champion City projects. I don't want that last statement to be taken the wrong way because I'm very pleased with our work. Some of our stories are completed, others are a work in progress, and some are in a state of development hell.

Just read The Champion City Fire. Thanks.

Tony Wright is the onwer of Champion City Comics. Follow him on Twitter @TonyDougWright.  

THE CHAMPION CITY FIRE (Pages 1 to 12) (Adult Language & Violence) by Tony Wright

Monday, September 14, 2015

The History of Champion City Comics - Part I - It's Terrible

"It's terrible"
- Someone's opinion concerning our website c.2010

From late 2009 until early 2014 Champion City Comics experienced a creative period that I view to this day as tremendously successful. Opinions of our success will vary, but my overall assessment of our output is extremely positive and it happened because a group of enthusiastic people sacrificed time and money to create webcomics, comic books, articles, and reviews. Words cannot express my gratitude to the writers and artists and colorists and letterers that made us a great but very special community.

It was never supposed to be a community, but it happened. My Bob Ross opinion of it all was that it was a happy accident. Friendships were developed, bridges burned, and other shenanigans were experienced. My initial plan was to use Champion City Comics as a proverbial springboard which would send us into the world of comics as paid writers and artists. There was never a windfall of cash from publishing our work online or from advertising nor were there contracts from publishers to be signed. We had promises of being published but a small publishing company or two gave us the silent treatment following some brief publishing deal discussions. Is that considered ghosting? 

Our work has been praised and ridiculed. Our use of embedded PDFs created some moments of outrage and was frowned upon by our peers. Comic Related (RIP) and The Two Headed Nerd Podcast gave us plenty of publicity and we are very thankful. People told us that they loved our comics or took the opportunity to tell us how much we sucked. The bumps in the road were rough at times but it didn't slow us down initially. 

Then there was that moment where I quickly discovered that I was the "boss" of Champion City Comics and my management of projects and website updates ranged from dreadful to successful. Current and former members of Champion City Comics will definitely give you the details if you ask them nicely. 

This morning I realized that October 2015 marks our six year anniversary. The past year and a half has been interesting for me when it comes to Champion City Comics. I'm frustrated, proud, burned out, and nostalgic when it comes to this site. 

It's my goal to write more about our history, so you can better understand what we've experienced the past six years. 

Tony Wright is the owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him on Twitter @TonyDougWright. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I'm posting some useful advice to up and coming comic book writers about developing villains in their stories. I've got a small bit of advice for today's post and it involves fighting. If you are going to develop a fight scene then PLEASE do not subject us to the fight scene where the villain and the hero trade punches while delivering witty banter..

Watch a MAA fight or a boxing match and count the number of times they stop and trade wisecracks. Did Mike Tyson say anything witty before chewing off a portion of Evander Holyfield's ear? No. It was *CHOMP* and *SPIT*.

I love a good fight scene in comics and I don't mind it when the hero is thinking to himself or herself how he or she needs to suck it up and win the fight against their arch-nemesis. A part of me gets Mike-Tyson-about-to-bite-off-some-fool's-ear angry when a good fight between a hero and villain is filled with too much banter. STOP IT! Talking and fighting do not mix unless you are Muhammad Ali.

Tomorrow's post will be about how the ladies can be villains too!

TonyDoug Wright is the owner and editor of Champion City Comics. His webcomics include Dr Death vs The Zombie, The End of Paradise, The Red Devil, and Day 165.

Monday, February 4, 2013


A common problem for rookie comic book writers is that they create one-dimensional villains that are just plain evil. I have had the opportunity to read some scripts where the villains are these purely evil men that kill a bunch of people for no reason. Stop creating these one-dimensional villains and start creating more well-developed characters.

Here just a few basic tips:

1. Villains are people too, so drop the every villain is a psychopath mentality. Sorry, but not every villain is born as pure evil. Life shapes a person's psyche, so perhaps you could include a moment or series of events that turned your character from good to 'evil'.  

2. If you have a psychopath in your story, then at least do some research regarding mental illness to understand that type of behavior. Watching a bunch of action movies is not the right kind of research.

3. Villains are at different levels of evil. Some are ruthless businessmen who want nothing more than to destroy their competition via sabotage. Some are bullies who are out to torment weaker kids because the bully has a parent at home that torments him or her. Some are crooked politicians who look the other way when a company dumps a bunch of chemicals into the drinking water supply of some poor community.

4. A villain could have a hobby. Maybe they enjoy cooking or fishing. Remember that villains are human. 

5. Villains can be non-human. They can be aliens or robots or demons. However, develop the 'why' portion of their evilness. 

These are just a few tips you can use for your villain character development.I'll have more villain stuff for you tomorrow.

TonyDoug Wright is the owner and editor of Champion City Comics. His webcomics include Dr Death vs The Zombie, The End of Paradise, The Red Devil, and Day 165.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Courtesy Blake Snyder
Welcome back to the Champion City Comics Writers Academy. The purpose of these articles is to aid novice comic book writers. I've learned from my mistakes and I am here to provide some useful tips for your comic book script.

I've already discussed not getting married to your script and having a boring story. Yesterday, I told you that it was OK to have stories that feature superheroes, vampires, and zombies. Today, I want to talk more about your story. Your story needs a goal for the main character. This may sound easy, but you really need to get this right or your story is an EPIC FAIL.

When scripts are submitted to me for review by up and coming writers, I do see some rookie mistakes. A major problem for some writers is that they have not developed a goal for their main character. If you are developing a superhero tale, a sci-fi story, a criminal tale, a fantasy story, or even a horror story, then set a goal for your main character. Most importantly, the goal has to be something that will get readers to turn the pages of your comic book. The goal has to be a major accomplishment.

For example, having Batman race back to the Batcave to turn off the coffee maker before it sets off the smoke alarm is not a page turning goal. Batman racing to an orphanage to diffuse a gigantic bomb planted by The Joker is a great page turning goal. Now add some obstacles for Batman. The orphanage has been sealed by The Joker, making it impossible for anyone to escape. Maybe have The Joker create some flying teddy bears with bombs strapped to them to blow up the Batmobile or the Batwing to stop Batman from getting to the orphanage on time. Batman has a goal and there are obstacles from having him achieve his goal. Perfect.

Readers want their heroes to win in the end by achieving their goal. Placing major obstacles in the way of that goal makes things more interesting for your story. Good luck!

Tomorrow I will discuss the slice of life script.

TonyDoug Wright is the owner and editor of Champion City Comics. His webcomics include Dr Death vs The Zombie, The End of Paradise, The Red Devil, and Day 165.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Welcome to the third installment of The Champion City Comics Writers Academy. This weekly column is for those aspiring comic book artists that are low on funds to hire an artist and lack any artistic abilities. The first article dealt with not getting married to your script while yesterday's article dealt with the fact that your story just might be boring as hell.Today the purpose of this article is to tell you that it is OK to develop superhero, vampire, or zombie stories.

There have been a few moments where writers submit scripts to me and they are somewhat apologetic about the fact that they wrote a superhero, vampire, or zombie story. There is no shame in developing a superhero, zombie, or vampire story. Having said that, you must set yourself apart from the pack.

Do your best to come up with a superhero, vampire, or zombie story that is slightly or vastly different from the rest. We have stories that deal with all three at Champion City Comics: 

Rapid City is a superhero tale that explores the complexities that comes with the job of being a superhero. Kinetic is the main character and we see how he struggles to maintain a normal life while learning the ropes to be a superhero. We have more of a normal guy developing into a superhero story than a cliched tale featuring mindless fights and women with large breasts serving as eye candy.  

Doctor Death vs The Vampire takes the vampire concept but changes them from the Bram Stoker blood lusting variety into creatures that feed off of pain and suffering. Gone is the black cape and fangs, and they have been replaced by normal looking people. However, these new vampires are incredibly intelligent and they hunt their prey by the amount of pain they have from an illness or an addiction.

Doctor Death vs The Zombie is influenced by the West African and Haitian mythos and  is combined with the George A. Romero world of zombies. You have the zombie that loves to eat brains, but must be controlled by the voodoo priest or bokur.

Slight changes will make your story stand out and that will appeal to readers.

Setting yourself apart from the others is not as difficult as you think. Take time and work on your sscript so that you have a superhero, vampire, or zombie story that brings something relatively new and fresh to the table. Have an artist or a fellow writer review your concept to see if it works. Be willing to revise and revise and revise some more until you have a solid story.

Tomorrow we will discuss goals for your main character.

TonyDoug Wright is the owner and editor of Champion City Comics. His webcomics include Dr Death vs The Zombie, The End of Paradise, The Red Devil, and Day 165.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


The Champion City Comics Writers Academy is a daily column where I provide some advice for rookie comic book writers.I'm writing these columns for the writers who have no artistic abilities and do not have the cash to hire great artists. Yesterday, I wrote about not getting married to your script.Today we need to talk about the fact that your story is boring as hell.

A majority of scripts sent to me by aspiring comic book writers are boring as hell and that is very disappointing. I've been guilty of committing the same crime and have learned from my mistakes. I want you to know that when it comes to pitching a comic book to an artist, and eventually to a publisher, then you better bring some action or major conflict to the table.

When you develop a script for a comic book or webcomic, be sure to have a good balance of plot development and action. If your story doesn't require action then conflict is something that will keep the reader interested. You must grab the attention of the reader or else you might lose them quickly. I'll use my comic book Day 165 as an example and it is posted below.    


DAY 165 - ISSUE 1 (Adult Language) by tonydoug25

Day 165 was developed as a war story that included some supernatural elements of The Twilight Zone. Some readers like war stories and others enjoy tales of the supernatural. By combining the two, I believed we had something fun and interesting. I wanted to grab the attention of the reader quickly and had our main character, Pvt. Chris Richland, ambushed on the second page. From there I keep the pace moving by developing story and including enough action to keep the interest of the reader. The action and the plot were linked together, which is important. Also, there were moments of conflict between Richland and the medic.

One thing that all aspiring comic book writers should understand is that action scenes need to move the story along and be part of the overall plot. Never create an unnecessary action scene that doesn't develop the character, introduce another character, or have something to do with the overall plot of the story. I have plenty of pet peeves about action scenes that will be for another article.

Tomorrow's Post: Superheroes, Vampires, and Zombies are OK. 

TonyDoug Wright is the owner and editor of Champion City Comics. His webcomics include Dr Death vs The Zombie, The End of Paradise, The Red Devil, and Day 165.

Monday, January 28, 2013


It has been a long time since I've posted anything regarding writing tips, but I'm back with some more tips for rookie comic book writers. This column is merely advice, so I'm just sharing what I've learned as a writer at Champion City Comics. These posts are going to be aimed at the writers out there who have no artistic skill plus lack any funds to pay for an artist.I'm hoping to make this a Monday to Friday series. Cross your fingers, boys and girls.

My first post deals with the dreaded move of getting married to your script. It sounds silly, but it's true because writers I encounter have a script that is THE script that will change the world of comics. It is the script that will sell 300,000 copies in the first week and will win an Eisner Award plus the Pulitzer Prize.

Some of you writers out there think you are this dude.
 As the owner and head writer of Champion City Comics, I receive on average one to three scripts per month from aspiring comic book writers. The majority of the scripts show a great deal of potential, but a variety of factors weakens the story. I'll go into more detail on the variety of factors with upcoming posts. If an aspiring writer has a bad script, I usually ask for another to see if they have developed a more interesting story. There have been times when I do get another script, but there have been too many instances of writers telling me that I have just read their one and only script.

Look, I had a one and only script from 2004 to 2009, which became The Champion City Fire. I was convinced I was going to be the next big thing in comic book writing due to that script. Silly me. I had six issues carefully planned out and was waiting for that call from Marvel or DC or Image or Dark Horse or anyone interested. Silly me.

The smartest thing I did was putting that script down. I then began working on two more scripts. Two scripts became three and since 2009, I have worked on nine titles at Champion City Comics. Each script has improved due to what I have learned as a writer, but I would not be at the place where I am if I had stayed married to one script.

My fellow aspiring comic book writers, please do not get married to your script. Here are some good reasons:

1. You may think you've just written the best story ever, but you need to realize that you need to pitch this story to an artist who thinks your story is worth their time. I know a large majority of rookie writers do not have the funds to get a good artist, so you must find that needle in the haystack that is the free artist. I've found ten or twelve free fantastic artists over the past three years, so there is hope. That's also another future post. Remember, the artist has to be sold on your script. If they're not then they'll ask to review another script. If you just have the one script and no funds to pay an artist then you will be waiting and waiting to find the right person.

2. An artist who works for free with you will want some creative input with the script. You'll also want to be prepared to negotiate ownership rights as well. Now if you do not allow the artist to have some kind of freedom then you have a 99.999999% chance of pissing off the artist that's willing to work for free. That's not a smart move. Artists want input and they'd like some creative freedom to work their magic. Over the years, I have worked with artists that have provided me with valuable input when it comes to my scripts.

3. Do not get discouraged if nobody likes your script. Put it aside for now and try working on another idea. It worked for me and perhaps it could work for you. If you still love your script, then take into consideration the fact that it may need some revisions.

4. You may not want to hear this, but perhaps the reason that nobody wants to jump on your script is because it sucks. The best thing to happen to me as a writer happened seven or eight years ago. I submitted a rough draft of The Champion City Fire to someone I respected in the comic book business and they HATED the story. They didn't sugarcoat anything, and I was devastated. However, I went back and made some major changes, which made the script better. I re-submitted the script to the person that hated the first script, and they ended up loving the second script.Nobody picked up the story, but at least I know I improved as a writer.

That was my return to comic book writing tips, and I hope you learned something. Come back tomorrow for more tips.

Tomorrow's Topic: Your Story Is Boring As Hell

TonyDoug Wright is the owner and editor of Champion City Comics. His webcomics include Dr Death vs The Zombie, The End of Paradise, The Red Devil, and Day 165.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


We are looking for writers to submit articles on comic book and graphic novel reviews. Individuals that are interested then please email with a sample of your work in PDF or DOC format. If you do not have a sample then write up a mock review for us to examine. We'll review your work and get back with you in 24 to 48 hours.

What you need to know:

1. We do not pay writers for their work because we do not have the funds available.

2. Writers are to purchase their own comic books and graphic novels because we do not receive material for review.

3. All submissions must be sent as a DOC attachment.

4. We have 300 to 1,000 visitors to our site daily.

I can answer any additional questions and thanks for your interest.


TonyDoug Wright
Owner and Editor at Champion City Comics

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