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“Writers are nothing.”

This is the basic premise of this column on writing for Comics. But let me clarify it: writers, whether they are themselves the artists of their own material or ones who pass on their ideas to others, always start from scratch, from an abstract that does not exist. From a “nothingness”, which ends up becoming something, shaped by ideas, concepts which finally end in a story, in drawings, color, artwork, lettering, and all the steps of the process by which a “nothing” becomes an “artistic whole”.

The writer lives in this anguish of the absence of references to begin the process, living, breathing and being … nothing, until they make it into something more. “Writing Squared” aims precisely to make a connection between the ninth art and the writing process that is attached to it, be it through essays, criticisms, style reviews, biographies or merely by telling famous episodes in the history of writing for Comics.

And because we have to start somewhere, I’ll take this opportunity to speak of someone I believe to be the most competent writer in the contemporary comics industry, namely TOM KING.

Thus, on the footsteps of any good, modern digital article, minus the clickbait aspect, I present five main points that defend my opinion.

1- TRAINING

Created by a mother who worked in the film industry, Tom King grew up surrounded by stories and narratives, something he used and deepened when he studied Philosophy and History at Columbia University. Freshly graduated, he would complete internships in the editorial departments of DC COMICS and MARVEL, where he would work as a personal assistant to the famous comic book writer CHRIS CLAREMONT. However, after September 11, he would make the decision to join the CIA’s counterterrorism division, where he would work for 7 years, a remarkable experience that he decides to abandon after becoming a father, embarking on a career in writing novels and comics.

2- THE DIVERSITY

Having shined with “A Once Crowded Sky,” a romance illustrated with a few comic book pages, King is then invited by DC to co-write the title “GRAYSON” in partnership with TIM SEELEY, about the adventures of a newly recruited Dick Grayson to an international spy force, a subject matter that was perfect for the writer.

However, he quickly escapes the thematic niche, starting to write the “OMEGA MEN” Maxi-Series, about a rebel force in combat with an oppressive galactic empire.

Curiously in the same year of 2015, the “SHERIFF OF BABYLON” crime series, perhaps the most inspired by its previous professional life, was launched under VERTIGO, Dc´s editorial label for adult readers, where he perfectly depicted the intricacies of corruption, crime and the American military occupation of Iraq.

In a new opportunity, Tom King then signs with MARVEL Comics , creating the “VISION” Maxi-Series, about the Avengers robotic android, in and more mature, disturbing style, reminiscent of the works of Phillip K Dick, where he portrays the creation of a synthetic family by the hero, in search of what ultimately constitutes, “to be alive”.

The attention and profusion of styles, would garner him an exclusive contract with DC COMICS in 2016. Here, he would take on the legacy of SCOTT SNYDER to carry on the title “BATMAN” after the purposefully dubbed “REBIRTH” of its line of super -heroes, a book he still writes, after almost two years.

In addition to this, King has worked several in several short stories and a tribute to JACK KIRBY’s disheveled and feverish style of action and concepts, in the delirious “MISTER MIRACLE”.

3- MASTERY OF COMICS LANGUAGE

Often using 9-panel base grids, somewhat like “WATCHMEN”, in titles such as “OMEGA MEN”, “VISION” or “MISTER MIRACLE”, TOM KING comprehends the timings of panel to panel narrative, like sometimes repeating actions or through the use of silent panels, to control the reader and his understanding of timing and plot advancement. In fact, the writer expertly makes use of the so-called narrative “contract” with the reader, leaving it up to him or her, to “feel” the pace of each panel and each page, linking words and images, in a sometimes cinematic experience and unique narrative style.


4- THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE ACTION, SERVED BY A LACK OF EXPOSITION DIALOGUE

Although mastering the use of a curious assortment of dialogue with constant repetitions, interjections and adverbial phrases, the main characteristic of King’s writing is that it often leaves it solely to the art and the inherent action to tell the story, using the dialogue specially to differentiate the characters, their intentions and characteristics, avoiding just passing on expository information. Perhaps for this very reason, the silent panels abound in much of his work.

5- THE CONTRIBUTORS

And because Comics is primarily a visual art, Tom has been fortunate enough to surround himself with some of the most innovative graphic talent in the comics industry, who not only understand his guidelines, but also feel at ease to create their own styles, in what is always meant to be a creative synergy that benefits and inspires both sides. Thus, names such as MIKEL JANIN, MITCH GERADS, GABRIEL HERNANDEZ WALTA, DAVID FINCH or LEE WEEKS have been some of his main partners, performing works that increasingly garner the appreciation of critics and audiences, catapulting the name TOM KING as one of the indisputable new geniuses of today’s comic book writing.

NUNO DUARTE

writer of Comics, TV, Theater, Multimedia and bootlegged karaoke tapes, signs this column, recommending everyone to read the special “BATMAN / ELMER FUDD” by TOM KING and LEE WEEKS, as one of the strangest, most beautiful and significant crossovers in recent comic book history.