The Author Stack
The Author Stack
[SPECIAL ARCHIVE EPISODE] How to build a monumentally successful transmedia writing career with Paul Jenkins

[SPECIAL ARCHIVE EPISODE] How to build a monumentally successful transmedia writing career with Paul Jenkins


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This episode I talk to Paul Jenkins, writer of all the things. Paul was the third employee on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, right when Eastman and Laird were about to explode into an empire. He’s worked with almost every known writer as an editor, and every artist as a writer. He’s written for Hellblazer, Spider-man, Batman, Inhumans (which won him an Eisner), and so much more…and that’s just on the comics side.

Paul is really a transmedia kind of guy. He works in every medium. Aside from writing movies, he’s written several video games including the Legacy of KainTwisted Metal Black and God of War series. Most recently, Paul is credited as writer on Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, created with Radical Entertainment and The Darkness, created by Starbreeze Studios (source: Wikipedia).

On top of that he runs Meta Studios, and does his own creator owned comics Fairy Quest, which went on to raise $95,100 from 1,642 backers on Kickstarter, and is one of the prettiest books you’ve ever seen.

So long story short…Paul has some creds. And because of that we were able to go all over the map. He started by talking about his passion, which I found interesting…because he said he can find passion in anything. I love that idea, because it’s one that I use all the time. I hates marketing and sales before I started doing it, and by doing it I found something to love in it.

Paul’s big thing in that segment was in coming to work and doing it full force, and the idea that If you come full force at something, you’re going to be able to find something you love about it. Paul could choose anything to work on, and I’m sure he has people throwing projects at him, at least sometimes. He could phone it in, yet he still comes with the same work ethic that made his career.

Over and over it seems that these successful guys, talented as they are, come from a place of work ethic, and incredible work ethic. We saw this all the way back in the Les Garner episode and echoed in other episodes like Erik Lervold when he talked about every day being a fist fight.

These are incredibly talented guys, but there are thousands of talented guys. What separates the talent from the success is work ethic. It’s so much more important than talent. The world is littered with talented, lazy guys. If you can just outlast and out hustle, you will be a success.

Then we talked about Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling, and how important they are. We touched on a lot, but mostly talked about endings, and how without an ending you have nothing. Lots of times people think they’ll figure out the ending as the go, but without an ending, Paul said, you are lost.

We also touched on some structure stuff. I talked about my way of designing a story and writing it sort of ends into the middle, where I take each issue and work from page 1 and page 20, toward page 10, and end on page 10-11.

What we really talked about though was whether writing comics gave him structure when he was writing his new novel, Curioddity, which I’ll plug now. Here’s the synopsis, pulled from Amazon.

Will Morgan is a low-budget detective after quitting his job and hardly ever has any work. When one day a mysterious man named Mr. Disndale, curator of an even more mysterious Curioddity Museum (a museum that houses legendary relics of history), visits him and asks him to find a wooden box made of teak, with a mother of pearl inlay that contains the world's largest sample of levity, Wil thinks it is all a joke. He accepts the task and before long finds a worthy substitute to meet Mr. Dinsdale's specifications. What Wil soon learns, however, is that there is a whole other world out there, a world he can only see by learning to un-see things, and in this world there are people who want to close the Curioddity museum down. With the help of his new girlfriend Lucy, Wil will do everything he can to deliver on his promise to help Mr. Dinsdale keep the Curioddity Museum in business.

Curioddity is Paul Jenkin's debut novel... exciting, fast-paced, and uncanny. A must-read.

Honestly, when I asked we sort of skirted around the question, because I was much more interested in his answer. He told me that most novelists and screenwriters have a hard time in graphic novels because so much is unseen and unread. I’m fascinated by that, because I found that comics made complete sense to me.

That’s when Paul dropped another truth bomb; he said it’s probably because I’m adaptable and not afraid to fail, so when I went into comics I was ready to figure out how to make it work.

And that made me think, because I always think that people are like me, but most people aren’t like me. They aren’t proactive, and in this business you have to be proactive. You have to be adaptable too. And when I went from movies to television to comic books, there was a comfort in that structure for me. I knew that every issue needed a cliffhanger, and every page and two page spread needed a cliffhanger, so I understood it all immediately, moreso I welcomed it.

Funny story, Paul blew me away when he told me writing for Marvel and DC is totally different, in that you can’t end every page on a cliffhanger. Why? Ads. You never know where ads are going to come, so you can’t rely on having every two page spread end on a beat. That’s something unique to creator owned books these days. The only way to guarantee you will get that beat you want is by doing a two page spread, because then you have to run the pages back to back.

I always wondered, with digital, why people still did so many two pages spreads, and now I think I have an answer. So when you write mainstream, you don’t have that freedom.

We also talked about Teenage Mutant Ninjas Turtles, and the phenomenon that accompanied it. TMNT is a violent book made for adults, and how it became a household name associated with children is fascinating. I’ll let you listen to the story Paul tells.

We ended on Paul talking about his creator owned books, like Fairy Quest, and indie vs. mainstream. I still don’t think it’s possible right now to break in the way Paul did, basically by asking an editor for a shot, but I love that idea.

And it’s in that idea that I want to end: asking. Paul was an editor who wanted to be a writer. So what did he do? Asked an editor for a shot…and he made the most out of it. But even if he didn’t get the job, the worst that would have happened was a no from that editor.

I love asking. I love Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, and I’ve pretty much built my career on asking for things. It’s the only way I had Paul on the show. It’s the only reason I had successful podcasts. It’s the only reason we’ve had success at all, and the more I do these shows, the more through lines I see. One of them being that asking is one key to success. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

The Author Stack
The Author Stack
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