Kurt Christenson ** Timothy Mucci ** Johnny Gatts ** Brian Bannen ** Rick Lacy ** YOU!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We Are Write Club! Kurt Christenson: a decade creating

Hey there Write Clubbers!

With all the new readers/listeners out there in internet-ville I figured I'd take this opportunity to say hello, welcome, and tell you all a bit about ourselves.

My name is Kurt Christenson and I formed Write Club earlier this year with my life-long partner in geekery Tim Mucci, who took me to my first comic book store nearly twenty years ago. After the economy went bad and I was laid off, he wanted to podcast and I wanted to talk about comics. So we got together in his apartment about 8 months ago and decided to start recording ourselves as we made sense of the comic book industry.

A lot had changed since I last read comics regularly, so we needed a format to dissect all these changes and examine them, work out the best way to strike if we were to take our comic careers to the next level. There's nothing like taking a break from the thing you love for awhile to make you re-appreciate everything you first fell in love with about it.

I made the decision to start writing comics on New Years Day 2001 after being a longtime reader of Warren Ellis' Come In Alone articles on ComicBookResources. I wrote a few scripts for myself and then hit up Digital Webbing and found a new comic book company called JJAMS that was looking for a writer for a series of one-shots. I wrote three 28 page one-shots, NightDreamer, The Night, and Maracas, all based on generic superhero tropes that I added my own spin on. They came out great and I got paid $50 a script. Then I start a four issue mini-series, Texas Rangers, which I only completed 3 issues of when the company folded due to mismanagement of funds. Shame, as the artwork for the books looked great.

Feeling invigorated by the quick success (I got paid to write within the first 3 months of deciding to write) I went back to Digital Webbing, and wrote a series in 5 page segments for the anthology they started publishing at that time Digital Webbing Presents. I found an artist and my modern day Kung Fu Master vs SuperVillains story took shape, but it never saw print in the end, so I lost the artist's interest and was back at square one. So I wrote a bunch of new scripts as I prepared to start hitting up comic book conventions to network.

My first con as a budding professional was WizardWorld Philly 2001. I sped all the way from Long Island to Philly in order to make it there for the first workshop of the con. At 12:30 that Friday I ran into Buddy Scalera's Networking For Comic Creators panel. Here he broke everyone up into groups depending on what you wanted to work on. The superhero group lined one entire wall, while the crime, horror, and my little group, action/adventure, were placed here and there. That's when I met Chris Chua.

We all flipped through the artists' portfolios as writers told their ideas. As I saw each insane drawing after drawing in Chua's portfolio I was blown away. This kid was amazing. It ended with a full color shot of the Hulk eating his own leg. He was too good, I was just a novice, juat a beginner, I wasn;t good enough to work with him, although the other artists in the group had a long way to go before they were ready to do some serious sequential work.


So I left without giving him my packet of scripts. In fact, I utterly failed. I got intimidated and ran away from what it was I was here to do in the first place; find an artist and create comics. I felt bad for myself the whole day at the con but that night I was determined to find Chua the next day and give him my scripts. So I went back the next day, and while looking around I stumbled across Grant Morrison standing in the middle of DC Comics' booth. Now, Grant Morrison is not only my favorite comic book creator, the writer of my all time favorite comic series, The Invisibles (which he was just wrapping up at this time), he's also my personal lord and savior. I had him sign my Invisibles #1 and his prose book Lovely Biscuits (just to prove that I was an elite superfan) and got my picture with him.

That's when, reeling and stumbling away, high on Grant's ethereal being, I ran into Chris Chua. I ran right over and talked to him for a bit, seemed we had a good amount of similar interests as far as action movies went, and so I gave him my scripts. A month later we began working on a new take on my modern kung fu vs superpowers story. We made it in the future, more of a Mad Max/Road Warrior desolation mixed with old school super kung fu. A few months later Samurai Jack debuted on Cartoon Network and we knew we were on to something.
And so Legend of Liquid Fury was born; our scarred, young kung fu warrior, Wulong, his wise, father figure Master Tze, his brothers, mighty Mao, and stealthy Jian, his childhood love and Tze's daughter, Wei-Lin, the evil General Zhao and his powered minions, mountainous Yama, electric Raiko, and fiery Kaego, were all born through my words and Chris' ink and white-out. Over the years we developed a 200+ black and white graphic novel about revenge and coming back home too late, being unable to make right the mistakes of youth.

We released three versions of the first act through DreamWeaver Press. The first two were full sized and we printed 100 copies of each. These were mostly given out to any and all professionals we could talk to at comic conventions. We debuted the first issue at the National in NYC and gave the first copy to Joe Kelly who read it and loved it. So much so, that when San Diego rolled around he invited us to sit at his ManOfAction table (with Joe Casey, Steven Seagle, and Duncan Rouleau) right next to Richard Starking's Comicraft/Active Images table. We even had a meeting with Starkings at that con to talk about Active Images publishing Liquid Fury.

But it wouldn't be. Just as the art was finished, Active Images stopped publishing work. However they were nice enough to create our own font for us based on Chua's handwriting and wished us luck. As we finished up Liquid Fury we did see our work published in an anthology out of Brooklyn called Reflux. I still have the copy of Previews that solicited the issue in which our first story appeared. Also at the same time we met a bunch of other artists that were hitting up the same cons as us and we joined forces, forming TenTonStudios.com, which is just about reaching it's 5th anniversary this month.

At this point I sort of had a mid-life crisis (at age 27), quit my job, ended a 7 year relationship, and moved to NYC. I needed to live a life of adventure for awhile, and so I did. I moved to the Lower East Side, went to Colombia and L.A., got a tattoo, climbed a mountain, and went to a million events and open bars. At this time I was in the middle of writing a novel, that read more like a collection of short stories, essays, journal writing, called The Tower of Brahma based on a screenplay I started in college. I knew there was 64 chapters, based on the I-Ching, that I'd have to write before it was over. And as I finish up the last three chapters you can read a new chapter every Monday as I near the end.

I became burnt out, on life, on writing, on creating anything after that. I gave up on reading comics, on the idea of creating them, and as a last ditch effort to move forward I decided to go back to school. Fall 2007 I enrolled in classes at New School University and began the process to get my Bachelor's Degree. Finally. I read the Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid and wrote papers on them. I saw all sorts of classic films and broke them down, saw what made them work. I took a class in superheroes and what that means in today's world. And as I prepared my final project for that class, a 20+ page paper on the Return of Barry Allen storyline and the Flash legacy (just as Flash: Rebirth was about to be released) I rediscovered my love for comics books and it reawakened my desire to be part of that world, to leave my mark on the history of comic books, just as comics have left their impact on me.

So I helped fellow TenTonner Doug Hills write and letter a comic for his daughter where she teams up with Spider-Man and the Flash. Here was my chance to write a fun adventure, an all-ages romp with two of the best superheroes in all of comicbookdom. Once I got past the intimidation factor of not only writing two of my favorite characters but also a real kid, I found the true joy of piecing a comic together bit by bit; first imagining the scenes, seeing the art Doug created, then dropping text on it and making the characters come alive.


As Tim and I recorded each episode, then began writing articles for the blog, I began to see the comic industry much clearer. I knew that this is what I wanted to do with my life. I heart comics. I slept on top of them for 4 years. I know them through and through and can out geek almost any person I meet who's "into comics". This truly was my destiny. So I finally got over myself and decided to start from scratch and re-letter Liquid Fury (I lost nearly 50 pages while backing it up last Xmas), as I prepare a new digital comic with my good buddy and Write Club supporter from day one, Reilly Brown, and now I'm addicted. I'm writing scripts constantly, and every other waking moment is spent reading comics to catch up on continuity or to write reviews or watching cartoons/movies for inspiration for new ideas. As the New Year approaches, the ninth year since I first decided to write comics, I hope to end this decade long adventure with a slew of my work published finally.

This is what Write Club means to me, unbridled creativity and a means to keep me on track, to maintain the motivation to keep writing, even on those days when I just want to lay in bed all day long, or go out to the bar for a drink. First comes writing, then comes life. And the more I do this, the more the writing becomes the real fun, the joy of creating superseding all else. I'd like to invite all of you reading this to be a part of Write Club in whatever way you'd like. What is it that you've always wanted to do, wanted to create? How can Write Club help you make that come true?

We're here for you, you weary traveler of the lonely path that is beset before the creative individual. We want to help.

We Are Write Club.

K

You can keep up to date with the progress of LEGEND OF LIQUID FURY on my new blog where you'll get to see some behind the scenes stuff, sketches, "lost" pages, and more.

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