All this week, I’ve been celebrating the release of Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary and Phrasebook in the ‘Verse from Titan Books. And, today’s the last day! Each day, I’ve been posting about an aspect of working as a media/tie-in writer. I hope you enjoy this series of posts! Interested in the dictionary, but are still on the fence? Be sure to read Take Five with Monica Valentinelli on Suvudu.com for some interesting tidbits about the book and my process. If you’re keen on learning more about me, then check out my interview with GeekDad, too!
Since today is the last (exciting) day in a series of posts about media/tie-in, I want to talk about my thoughts on the future of this style of storytelling and production. The interesting thing about media/tie-in, is that the stories come “after the fact” in a lot of cases, because they’re driven by a game or a movie in a lot of cases. Comics, on the other hand, could be painted with a broader brush since they intersect with movies and existing storylines, but they could also simply be based on existing characters. Though that is true for all media/tie-ins to some degree, it’s especially true with comics in my experience.
Anyway, what I’m trying to note here is that the point of origin for a story will heavily influence where media/tie-in is going. Where I think/hope it’s going, is to address multiculturism and gender balance to line up with the fact that original fiction is also heading in that direction as well. This, I feel, is very exciting–more voices is a good thing. But, in some ways, media/tie-in will have a bit of a catch up depending upon the casting for films or video game character representation or what-have-you. There appears to be a fear that the general public will not embrace a female superhero or a minority/underrepresented character in a movie, as that’s the only explanation that I can come up with for the recent rash of whitewashed characters and the Oscars So White controversy. Ghost in the Shell and the Sorcerer Supreme in the new Doctor Strange movie are two of the most recent examples of this. Since there are so few minority/underrepresented actors featured on blockbuster films to begin with, I see this as having an impact across all media/tie-in–much like the fact that many actresses over 40 can no longer find work or roles for their age brackets.
Mind you, this entire conversation is scary for a lot of people, because this is about change. Change is frightening, especially if there’s a perception that this change is reductive and it will mean the new stories suck. I view this approach to be about adding and enhancing to an existing rich tapestry of stories, about making more art, about making better art, about giving readers more choices. It’s a big ocean out there; not a pond–you never know what will happen! Look at Valiant Comics’ runaway (and surprise) hit Faith, just as one example. Here’s a plus-sized superheroine who is not your usual fare, who nailed an existing need: for plus-sized women to see themselves in a positive light. Fantastic, right? New stories, new characters, and experimenting with storytelling mediums should thrill fans, not terrify them. What’s not to love about every kid or adult being about to look up at that big screen, or at a comic book, or dive into a novel with a huge smile on their face to say “They’re just like me! They’re the hero/heroine and they’re just like me!”?
Now the thing is: I may be a writer, because this is my calling, but it is my job to find ways for publishers, agents, etc. to say “Yes!” to my work and to working with me. It is my conscious choice to recognize that there are problems, but seek solutions through the aspects I can control on the projects I’m attached to. I lose so much (time, money, etc.) if I don’t spend the bulk of my time creating, and being a writer means I have to write. Period. Multiculturism, however, is important to me because it’s reflective not only of the world we live in, but the world I live in. Sometimes, this means I buy books or comics from lesser-known authors and artists. Sometimes, I might suggest other writers who specialize in subjects or cultures to bring on board. Sometimes, I might add more characters or sub-plots so the minorities aren’t always the villains. (e.g. A common solution to the need for more diverse casting is to make the antags a minority that are then defeated.) Sometimes, I might look for positive representations in the art, when art notes fall under my purview. These are small things, sure, but that is all I can do. Again, this entire conversation circles back to doing what I can in my role while still finishing, shipping, and publishing projects on time as much as possible. Talking about a thing isn’t the same as doing it, at least for me, and I’m aware that my focus needs to be on my work instead of getting pissed off on the Internet. Meeting deadlines, making my word count, exceeding expectations, delivering quality–these are all the other reasons I need people to say “Yes!” to my work as well.
Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s series of posts to celebrate the release of Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary and Phrasebook in the ‘Verse. Thanks for reading this week and supporting my work. Have a fantastic day!