Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wizard Features That Never Were: My very first pitch

The time: December, 2004.

The place: somewhere on one of the various highways between Highland Falls, New York and Boston, Massachusetts.

I had been working at Wizard for a scant month and a half or so and was headed home for Christmas. It was a three-hour-plus drive from my former apartment in Orange County, New York to my parents' house in Newton, Massachusetts. Megan was with me and it was pretty late, so she wanted to nap during the trip, meaning no radio or cell phone for me. It was also snowing out, so I needed to make sure I was alert.

So what do you do to keep your mind sharp during a lengthy, wintry car ride if you're a fledgling Wizard research assistant? You try and come up with your first feature pitch.

Wizard editor Brian Cunningham had been encouraging me and my fellow research assistant Dylan Brucie to come up with ideas for features we'd like to write as he wanted us to progress in that regard so he'd have more guys he could count on for assignments. We had thrown a couple rough ideas for Wizard's old back page humor gag, Bullpen, at him, but not much else. I decided to use this trip to change that.

I have no earthly idea why (I believe it had something to do with spending several years as an accredited archery instructor who was terrible at archery), but I decided that the perfect feature for me to make my first impression on Wizard and the world would be...The Ultimate Guide ot Green Arrow.

I dig Ollie Queen plenty, but he's certainly not even in my list of top five all-time faves. Snow and silence do strange things to a man.

Now I wasn't just talking about a quickie article on the Emerald Archer, I meant the *Ultimate* Guide to Green Arrow. Here's the stuff I can remember coming up with for my initial pitch:

-A lengthy Q&A with then-Green Arrow writer Judd Winick.

-An "Essential Green Arrow" list of the best and most influential Green Arrow stories of all time.

-The archery equivalent of the "Power Chart" features Wizard had done in the past, placing Green Arrow where he belonged in terms of skill on a list of comics archers like Hawkeye, Shaft, Merlyn, Trickshot and Golden Archer.

-A guide to Green Arrow's rogues gallery, from Shado to Rainbow Archer (I can't recall why, but I was really set on working Rainbow Archer into this article somehow...that should have been a sign).

-And finally, my coup de grace, a consultation with various "real world" experts who would teach us how to make Green Arrow's arsenal (boxing glove arrow, handcuff arrow, etc.), and then determine whether or not there was actually a way to make them work in a practical sense. Yes, I wanted to figure how to construct and fire a boxing glove arrow.

I was so amped about my ideas that I woke Megan up (always a risky proposition) and excitedly outlined them for her. Being half-awake and freezing, she told me she loved them and then went back to sleep. The minute we walked in the door of my parents' house, I said hello, gave my mom a hug, then ran to the computer to frantically jot down my ideas and shot them off to Brian.

Then I waited.

Then I had a nice Christmas.

Then I came back in to work.

In the days in between, I had realized a few things about my pitch:

-There wasn't much question that Green Arrow and Hawkeye would top any list where I had to strain for inclusions and came up with Golden Archer.

-Green Arrow had a terrible rogues gallery.

-I was never going to find somebody to help me make a boxing glove arrow.

All this aside, the initial enthusiasm of that drive was still fueling me, so when Brian told me E-i-C Pat McCallum wanted to see me, I was still optimistic.

Pat sat me down, asked how my holidays were, and then very politely explained to me why my pitch was insane.

To be fair, the main reason my pitch didn't work--aside from the ones I listed above--was that it was January 2005 and the biggest thing going on with Green Arrow was Speedy joining the Teen Titans. There was a lot of exciting stuff happening in comics that Wizard had to cover, and taking eight-plus pages to talk about Green Arrow and Rainbow Archer just was not a winning proposition.

However, Pat did not simply show me the door and ask Brian to hit delete every time I pitched an idea. He took the time to explain to me what worked about my pitch and what did not. He noted the boxing glove arrow thing could actually be cool for our recurring "Superhero Science" column. And he encouraged me to keep on pitching ideas, because even though this one wasn't going to work, he appreciated my initiative.

And then he let me mess around with his Marvel Legends figures for 20 minutes.

"Meetings" like that were one of the reasons I loved working with Pat. Another was that he took the time to cut out and glue a Flash insignia to a Marvel Legends Dracula figure and leave it on my desk as a "rare variant figure."

Good times.

1 comment:

Justin said...

Good times indeed.

I must have been working at Wizard for too long, because I immediately could see why your pitch was insane as soon as you went into it in this post. Still, good learning experience, I'd imagine.