Welcome to the Mind of a Comic Writer

You ever want to start typing a story but the damn blinking icon of your word processor decides to not let anything come out of that magical portal because it’s too busy blinking at you? You just stare at your keyboard and the letters start to look like ancient hieroglyphics and you don’t know what to type. Then you hear a voice coming from the keyboard saying, “You got nothin’.” Yeah… it happens.

Luckily, right now that isn’t happening to me. Hasn’t really happened too often. I have diarrhea of the mouth and it translates to the keyboard. It’s true. A long time ago my mother and father agreed that I would become one of two things when I got older: a lawyer, because I argue using peoples words against them. Or a writer, because of my ability make up a story on a seconds notice. Being a lawyer looks fun, but there is too much paperwork involved. So, I became a writer –as if there is less paperwork involved…  Well, I’m trying to become a writer. Hold on… I am a writer, but I am not yet a writer who can make a career out it.  Yes, a writer of comic books and webcomics. I’m not exactly a pro, but I’m not not a pro. (that’s not a typo, just take your time and read it and it will make sense) I self-publish and have been published with shorts, but I haven’t technically made enough money to claim on a W2 form. Make sense?

So, who am I? I’m Sal Brucculeri, I’ve been writing comics and webcomics for almost three years. 99.98% of you have never heard of me. 0.01% of you have heard of me and the other 0.01% percent of you thought you heard of me until you realized I’m not the same Salvatore as in GTA3. Sorry for the disappointment. My most notable work is on my webcomic series, C U Next Tuesday at cunexttues.com, with art by the amazingly talented and funny artist, Ibai Canales. Him and I were also lucky enough to have three two-page shorts for our comic in development, SOUL MEN, in the back of JC De La Torre’s Star Mage #2-4 published by IDW.  Back in 2012-13, when I started writing in this medium, I wrote a webcomic called, The Adventures of Mighty K.O. Punchman and SIRR!, with art by the talented, Monique Blaize. That led to linking up with Drew Maniscalco, the creator of the hit video game and mame, Ninja Baseball Bat Man, which became the successful Kickstarter comic, Ninja Baseball Man, soon to be published through AA88 Press.  I’m also the writer and co-creator of the upcoming AA88 Press comic, BADassary, along with artist/co-creator Jason Rivera. If I ever ever the opportunity to take on more projects I’ll be mentioning them here.

By now, if you’re still reading, you want to know what this column is. Well, thanks for asking. This little column, brought to you by Comic Crusaders, is going to be your entrance into the mind of comic writer. This will be my work journal for the foreseeable future. I have always been a fan of the writers who peel back the curtain. Matt Fraction did something like this a while ago, it was called Pop Life and it was over at CBR. Some of you may remember it and most of you –now, hold on a second, don’t just go googling it right now… Fine. I’ll be waiting for your return… plays Jeopardy music.– I want to allow comic fans to see what goes on outside the panels… Eureka! That’s it, that’s what we will call this thing: Outside the Panels! (you probably figured out the title of this column by reading it above, but this is the moment I figured it out. Just wanted to share that with you.) My plan is to throw the curtain back and allow readers to see exactly what a basement level comic writer does.

I’m a lifelong comics reader, who has always planned to become a comics writer. Right now, I’m a nobody in this business. Just a guy with a webcomic and a few other projects. Hopefully, some day I’ll be considered halfway decent… or at the very best be able to make a living off of comics. As of this moment, I have a regular 9-5 like most people. I have a growing family with my wife, our 10 month old son and our 7 year old pit bull.

I write comics in the hours that most people are drooling on their pillows. I’m determined. Finding time to write, while being a working class family man, could be a hard task but I have created a routine that has now been incorporated into my home.

I usually wake up 6am, check my phone for emails and texts from my artists or editor. If I have something I reply, only if it involved a quick reply, otherwise I just read the email or text and mark it as “unread” so I remember to get back to it later. Then I make coffee, by now my son is up and comics work ends and my fatherly routine begins. By 7:15am my wife leaves with my son and it’s back to the emails, and usually my 2nd or 3rd cup of coffee. I answer the previously postponed emails. Sometimes if I am feeling ambitious I’ll bang out one comic page. I leave my house at 7:45am for work. Work all day, and on my lunch break I check my comic related emails again, brush up on comic news around the world, and listen to some podcasts. –Hey, when I have something I’m trying to get sold through Diamond or on my own this will come in very handy.– I get home from work around 5:15pm, do more family-man stuff, like play with my son, cook, hang out with my wife, until about 9pm. Then comes my writing time. That’s a work week. As for the weekends, I usually write at night and when my son is napping. So… Do I just write comics every day at those hours on Monday through Friday? No… Here is my typical comic work schedule for a week:

Sunday (8pm-12am) – Emails, Comic writing, Promoting

Monday (9pm-11pm) – Emails, Promoting, and Maintanence of cunexttues.com

Tuesday (8pm-11pm) – Emails, Comic writing

Wednesday – I usually just read comics on this day

Thursday  (8pm-12pm) – Emails, Comic writing, sometimes I meet with Frank Mula, my partner and co-founder at our small-press comic publisher, AA88 Press

Friday – That’s my video game and de-stress night, where no writing at all gets done… maybe an email or two

Saturday (9:30am-11am) – Emails, Promoting, Comic writing during my son’s nap time

Saturday pt. 2 (3pm-4pm) – Emails, Comic writing during my son’s second nap time

Saturday pt. 3 (10pm-1am) – Emails, Comic writing

Did you notice anything that repeats besides “Comic writing”? Emails… I don’t know how many people realize this when they are trying to start creating comics, but unless you are an all-in-one writer, artist, letterer, self-publisher, you will be doing non-script writing things almost more than the actual writing. That’s the reality of it. I’m literally checking my emails hourly because, when you are juggling multiple projects in various stages, you need to always be ready to respond to an email because that is the only way you can move forward and get things finished. We will touch more in the weeks to come.

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One of my favorite sounds in the world is the rapid fire pitter-patter of a keyboard as I watch the letters pop up on the screen.  It’s weird, I know. I think it could be a sound that is near and dear to my heart because it reminds me of my mom. In her prime she was the fastest typer I’ve ever seen. The keyboard just sounded like an instrument with melodic flow of pitter-patter. I’ve always aspired to be as fast as her at typing.

Now is a good time to mention that at times this column will be random. Bare with me, as I don’t want to get caught up in a set format. Let’s just have fun.

I also plan on helping other people out who are curious about getting into comic writing. I’m no big shot, but at the very least, I could share how to get a project rolling. Hopefully, people won’t make the same mistakes I made after reading this column.

Tonight, I’m finalizing a few pages from Ninja Baseball Man #6. They’re written… in my head. I have this problem. I’m not sure if it is a real problem or just this weird thing I do. I basically write the issue of a comic in my head. I piece it together. I make sure all of it makes sense. I can see the page and kind of have a feeling of where everything is suppose to go when I have to write the script for the artist. Then I do this thing called, procrastination. I have the whole thing in my head, but I wait until a two or three days before the due date to actually sit down and type the script. Other times, I write it an hour or two before. I like the pressure of needing to type out a script. It makes me better, I think, and some of my best ideas have come from last minute time-crunched typing of scripts. I pride myself on having never missed a deadline since I’ve started writing comics… (knocking on my desk right now)

Welp, that’s all I have today. Tune in next week to comiccrusaders.com for another installment of Outside the Panels!!!

-Sal Brucculeri
Twitter: @SalveyB
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