Buddha said, “An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.”

There is no shortage of “great ideas” and it’s been repeatedly observed that a large percentage of people with “great ideas” never do anything with them.  It’s the doers that get it done.

If you’re a comic book fan and you’ve ever spent any time in a comic shop or at a convention (or especially if you’re a professional or an editor in the mainstream biz), you’ve heard the guys with the “great ideas” talk about these ideas at great length.  Surely, I’ll give it to you that sometimes it can be nauseating, but I usually found myself quietly wishing said Guy would actually just DO it. Get out of this crowd, this bar, this convention center, this comic shop, go home and sit down and write it or draw it. Maybe it IS a great idea.  The real thing.  And I’d love nothing more than to see Guy in his too-tight Green Lantern shirt, more comfortable in this comic shop than in his own skin, go home and get that stuff down on paper (or the computer) and hit it BIG.  I have always been secretly rooting for that geek at the counter, haranguing the shop owner with his ideas for what Marvel and DC “should” be doing.  Inevitably, he would get to the point of “Bill Flananglian is a sucky writer.  Herbie McSwizzle can’t draw to save his life.  He shouldn’t be allowed near a pencil.”  Hmmm… Okay, but they aren’t still standing in the comic shop with their ideas.  They did something with them.

Unfortunately, statistically speaking, Guy probably never did anything with his ideas, beyond talking about them.  Don’t get me wrong.  With the right people, I do like to talk about the ideas, because it does provide the opportunity to get them to evolve and, if you’re not SO in love with one, if you can let it grow and bloom, it’ll probably change and the story will end up better than that “brilliant” thing you came up with in the beginning.  I dig the brainstorming, but eventually you have to move on it.

I’m sure other folks who grew up reading comics have run into the same things my buddies and I did, years ago. You come up with this “great idea” for Thor or Ecstaticman or what happened to the town of Chrismateropolis and it’s not long and you see it (or something uncannily similar) show up in the comics.  Doh!  We were too late.

Now, while I’ve talked about ideas or things I wanted to do or whatever, there is that next step.  I did go home and write them down.  I made notes, emails, drew in sketchbooks.  I’ve texted myself  when I wake up in the middle of the night or from the hunting blind or out on the river with my fishing rod under my arm.  I had plans for how I thought I would pull the stuff off.  Things change and you can’t get to this or that didn’t go the way you wanted or the timing wasn’t right.  Whatever, now we’re here.  Ultimately, this led to my launching some of my I.P.s (formerly those “great ideas”) as my webcomic.

I digress, but I had a point.  Here’s a lesson for all of us, about sitting on your hands when you have that “great idea”.

My buddy, Owen Leonard, and I had a cool little story on our hands, somewhere back in 1996-97.  It was a Western with our adventurers stumbling into the supernatural.  We’d gone beyond the “great idea” stage.  Had a few scripts going.  We had sketches and concepts for the characters.  I had gone so far as to do layouts for some of the stories.  My vague “plan” had been to use these vignettes of Big Jack Sledge and his sidekick, Box Gault, as backup stories in something else I had cooking… gods’ country.  Our backup tales featured these heroes bumping into famous monstrous characters.  Flash forward some years and I’m putting stuff together to launch my webcomic, figuring, somewhere along the line, the stories of Jack and Box were going to show up on the site.

One of the coolest things was the name that Owen came up with, that tied the whole thing together and captured the essence…  It was what they used to call those cheap suspense stories in the era of our characters…  Just a great name…  PENNY DREADFULS.

So, here we are today, a day away from the premiere of a new series on Showtime, a cool-looking show that, in concept, (from trailers I’ve seen) bears enough resemblance to our “great idea” that future progress on ours will require some re-working.  But worst of all…  They got that awesome name out there before we did (minus the “S”, but still…).

So there it is.  If you’ve got your “great idea” don’t stand around just telling it to the poor bastard behind the counter at the comic shop.  DO IT.  DO IT NOW.

P.S.  If you like ERB, REH, and HPL, (you know you do!) here’s some of Owen’s “pastiche” available on Amazon for digital download.  Check it out!

P.P.S. Here’s a post from 2008 on my old blog with one of my later concept illustrations, experimenting with a possible “feel” for the stories.