// you’re reading...


Danny Fingeroth talks about his favorite books

DANNY FINGEROTH is the author of Superman On the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us About Ourselves and Our Society (Continuum), and teaches writing for comics. He was also the longtime editorial director of Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man line, and has written hundreds of stories for comics and animation. I asked him about his magazine Write Now! , his recent trip to the San Diego Comics Convention, as well as his favorite books.

READERSVOICE.COM: How did you come up with the idea for Write Now!?
DANNY FINGEROTH: I saw there were several books and magazines out about drawing for comics, especially Mike Manley’s TwoMorrows publication Draw! Magazine, and thought there might be an interest in a magazine about writing comics and related things.
I figured there must be people who are curious about the field either because they’re interested in what makes stories and writers tick, or because they’re aspiring writers who want to know some tricks of the trade, creative, technical and business.
RV: Can you talk about the working arrangement you have with publisher John Morrow, and how you came together to produce Write Now!?
DF: I called John up and asked him what he thought of doing such a magazine.
Turns out he’d been thinking along those lines anyway.
I sent him a formal proposal, he liked it, and the next thing you know, Write Now! #1 was out.
We have a pretty simple arrangement. The magazine is essentially my baby, but John offers input when he has a thought or an observation, and most of the time, his instincts and ideas are right on target, both commercially and creatively.
RV: Can you list some of the steps that were involved in getting the magazine up and running, from initial idea to seeing it on the shelves?
DF: The steps were pretty simple. I decided that I’d need some name creators to bring attention to the first issue. So I got Stan Lee, Brian Bendis, J.M.DeMatteis, Tom DeFalco and Mark Bagley into it.

I gathered some examples of how comics are scripted and put them in there.
Then I got Bagley to do that sensational cover, the one of Shakespeare and DaVinci collaborating on their lost comic Mona, Warrior Princess.
Shake well and voila Write Now! #1!
I will say that getting a magazine up and running is much simplified because of the internet.
Even though editor, designer, and publisher are in three different states, we’re able to work together as if we were in the same office.
Ten or 15 years ago, it would have been much more difficult to do.
RV: What sorts of people were needed to run the magazine initially, and where did you find them?
DF: The main thing I needed was a terrific designer for the magazine, and luckily TwoMorrows had a guy they’d been using named Chris Day.
Through the magic of the internet, despite the fact that he’s in Chicago and I’m in New York, we were able to work together on the mag.
Chris recently left to concentrate on other projects, and John McCarthy and Rich Fowlks have stepped in without missing a beat.
In a magazine with interviews, you also need great transcribers, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with Steven Tice as well as the longbox.com crew.
And the staff at TwoMorrows, Eric Nolen-Weathington as well as John, have just been terrific to work with since day one.
They make sure most of my boneheaded mistakes don’t make it into print.

RV: If someone wanted to start a magazine and do it cheaply, what steps would you advise they take, and what should they watch out for?
DF: Pay as little as you can to freelancers which means you either work with friends, people in it for love, newcomers, or you do it yourself, whatever it is.
Use regular mail instead of overnight services when at all possible.
That kind of thing.
RV: What were some of the biggest difficulties you have found in running a magazine?
DF: It’s a lot of detail-oriented work, so everything takes three times longer than you think it will.
RV: You also teach writing for comics. What sort of percentage of your time is spent on the magazine versus teaching or other responsibilities?
DF: I actually do many things.
I teach. I run the magazine. I consult with private clients. I write animation, comics, and books. (Superman on the Couch, a book that explores why people love superheroes, published by Continuum is in a third printing.) I write reviews. I run seminars.
What percentage I spend on each varies by the week. I’d say I put about 60 to 80 hours of work into each issue of Write Now!, if that’s any help.
RV: Can you recommend a book that comprehensively teaches about plotting stories?
DF: Robert McKee’s Story (not specifically about comics). Dennis O’Neil’s The DC Comics Guide to Comics Writing, and Jeffrey Scott’s How to Write For Animation are three excellent books that come to mind.