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Fanboy of Fear Chris Gage Review by
Chris Gage
WRITE NOW! Magazine
Danny Fingeroth
TwoMorrows Publishing
Editor: Danny Fingeroth;
$5.95; quarterly

Reviews in this space usually concern comics in the horror, crime, or mystery genres. Danny Fingeroth's WRITE NOW! doesn't fall into any of those categories. It's not even a comic book; it's a magazine. But it deals with a topic near and dear to the hearts of feoamante.com readers: the craft of writing, and how to do it for a living.

There are plenty of screenwriting magazines out there; some of them even contain helpful information. There are also more than a few publications about writing books, poems, and short stories. But, to my knowledge, WRITE NOW! is the only regularly published magazine to examine writing for comics, animation, and science fiction (with a strong focus on comics). Judging by the number of wannabes I see at the San Diego Comic-Con every year asking pros how they can break into the biz, a lot of folks are interested in this topic, so it's amazing it's taken this long for such a periodical to emerge. Veteran comics writer and editor Danny Fingeroth saw the void and stepped up to fill it.

To be fair, there are some fine books about writing: both for comics and in general (WRITE NOW! reviews a few in the latest issue). But anyone involved in the entertainment industry knows that market conditions change daily. The strength of a magazine, even a quarterly one, is that the information is current. Some of the people interviewed in WRITE NOW! have been working for decades, others just a few years, but all are reporting from the trenches. They're sharing stories of what it's like to do what they do, and giving an insider's view on how to get into a profession that can be chaotic, intimidating, and frustrating, even for those who already work in it.

Being the only fish in an otherwise empty pond, it would be easy for Fingeroth to just slap a magazine together, but it's clear this is a labor of love for him. He includes interviews with pros, actual reproduced script pages (side-by-side with both penciled and finished art), and other behind-the-scenes goodies like pitches, outlines, notes and proposals, all contributed by working professionals.

While Fingeroth's primary experience has been in super-hero comics, he commendably has sought out pros from diverse walks of life to interview. Issue #2, currently on the stands, contains talks with Savage Dragon writer/artist/creator Erik Larsen, who loves writing and drawing super-hero comics and never wants to do anything else (right on, brother!); Stan Berkowitz, who writes the JUSTICE LEAGUE animated series for the Cartoon Network and has also worked on one-hour dramas like MIKE HAMMER; underground cartoonist and animation writer Anne D. Bernstein, whose best known work is MTV's DARIA; and Todd Alcott, writer of the Woody Allen-voiced animated film ANTZ, whose background is in theater. That's just part of what you'll find in the magazine's 100-odd pages; it's really worth the cover price.

As impressive as the diversity of subjects is Fingeroth's focus on his goal: to educate aspiring and working writers about how they can break into a field, and do their best work once they get there. Sure, he discusses a subject's background and personal life, and there are plenty of interesting stories told, but this isn't People and these aren't fluffy celebrity profiles. The conversation always focuses on the craft and business of writing.

WRITE NOW! doesn't have many drawbacks that I can see. One is that reproducing two or three script pages from a 22-page comic provides only a partial picture; to really understand structure and pacing, one should look at an entire script, ideally from the outline stage through to the finished art. But that would take up an entire magazine, and getting the rights from the publisher would be tricky (unless it's creator-owned). Still, maybe a future installment can gives us just such an in-depth look.

If you just like to read stories and don't care how they're made (which is perfectly legitimate), WRITE NOW! has nothing to offer you. But for those who want to make writing their life, or are just interested in the process, WRITE NOW! is an invaluable resource that merits Five Rabid Fanboys. Like I said, there's really nothing else like it out there: and as long as it maintains this level of quality, there won't be a need for anything else. Although a bi-monthly schedule would be nice!

Review copyright 2002 by E.C.McMullen Jr.

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