Cleaning out old files and such today, I ran across an email I wrote to Melissa nearly three years ago. Dave Land, my editor at Dark Horse, had just asked me to work up Gear School as a story pitch and I was casting around for a way to tell the story. The pertinent (non-mushy) part of the email follows:
So over yesterday and today I read this collection called Global Frequency written by Warren Ellis (probably my favorite guy writing comics today). GF is very often a big, dumb, fight comic, which is the same way I've described Gear School to you -- the stories [in GF] are also, more often than not, a Race Against Time. Very simple, self-contained things that always resolve and center around the action and not around the characters. So, why is it I found myself nearly crying on the street today as I finished up the last issue?
Ellis is using the framework in a really interesting way. The structure of each issue is a given: "There is an immediate, time-specific threat that must be eliminated." And on that he can hang whatever other elements he wants. And he wants to hang a lot of other elements. He's coming from a pure pulp angle, too. The story is the king, characters function to serve the story, but the glimpses we get of those characters are always interesting and intense and, like today, poignant.
I'm bring this all up because I'm thinking of the structure of Gear School. Yes, I want to make it fun and big and I want giant robots smashing each other to bits, but I also want someone out there to get a catch in their throats while reading it. I want there to be something just beneath the surface that resonates with the kids who will (hopefully) be reading it.
I still think everything I wrote about Global Frequency and Warren Ellis is true. What I'm not so sure about is how well I hit the target with Gear School.