Saturday, March 6, 2010

The amazingly difficult synopsis

I'm currently working on my Previews catalog synopsis for SWEETS. Previews is the catalog retailers and readers use to order their comics, so the synopsis is very important since it's the main chunk of info everyone uses to make buying decisions. This is the entry point for retailers and fans. It's the bait on the hook. WIKI defines a synopsis as: "A brief summary of the major points of a written work, either as prose or as a table; an abridgment or condensation of a work."

The easy part is I already know the core of what I need to write in my synopsis. But...
Yes, there's a reason it's called the easy part. That hard part is writing and re-writing this one paragraph until it bleeds. I need my synopsis to grab readers by the throat and make them want this book. Alas, that's my amazingly difficult task this weekend. The general guideline for synopsis length is 75 words for first issues, and 50 words for ongoing titles. The Previews catalog entry also lists details about the project such as page count, delivery date, etc. But for this blog entry, I'll just focus on the synopsis.

Here's our solicitation for the most recent PUNKS comic written by my good pal Joshua Hale Fialkov :

Punks: the Comic Christacular Special
by Joshua Fialkov and Kody Chamberlain
What's that you say? You need something to celebrate a long haired fellow who died for your sins AND participate in crass consumerism? Well, consider your Christ-mas wishes granted when Abe, Dog, Fist, and Skull return with the most Holy Hostly Holiday Hootenanny Hyperbole allows! Join their search for the true meaning of Christmas, Leprosy, and most importantly of all, friendship. Featuring an exclusive animated section rendered in stylish inanimate still panels. PLUS! Eight Exciting Bonus Pages to ring in the New Year/Age of Leopards.

In a recent chat, Josh gave me this bit of advice on the subject: "Snappy, catchy, information filled. You don't have space to fuck around, so don't. And try to get the facts right. Retailers hate it when you don't."

Since I don't trust Josh one bit, I did a little more research on the subject and found a few web articles:

Some good info to be found in reading opinions on synopsis writing. I found far more info than I could possibly consume. So much reading, so little time. If you know of a great piece on writing a synopsis, I'd love to see it. Post up a link for everyone to check out.

Here's another good synopsis sent to me by my pal William Harms :
Impaler # 1
by William Harms
Millions of vampires have descended upon America. In a desperate bid to defeat them, the military nuked NYC. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late, and now an army of the undead pushes west, butchering all that stand in their way. Humanity's only chance rests in the hands of vampire hunter Vlad the Impaler and a small band of human survivors.

I sniffed around on Google to find random examples of first issue solicitations from various publishers. Which of these sparks your interest? If any of you have a favorite(s) you'd like to share, paste 'em in the comments.

Broken Trinity: Pandora’s Box #1 
by Rob Levin, Bryan Edward Hill, & Alessandro Vitti           
The Road to ARTIFACTS Begins Here!     
Finn and Glori, the bearers of the Glacier and Ember Stones, first introduced in Broken Trinity, return this month in a pulse-pounding, world-spanning adventure series. When a fanatic cult embarks on a quest to remake the world with the mythical Pandora’s Box, Finn and Glori’s individual goals of gathering the 13 Artifacts is kicked into overdrive.

Gwen Dylan is a gravedigger in an eco-friendly cemetery…and a zombie detective. Once a month, she has to eat a human brain – both to keep from going all “Night of the Living Dead,” and to keep her own memories intact. As a result, Gwen’s mind is crowded with the dead person’s thoughts. And lately, she feels compelled to fulfill their final requests. Torn between a mysterious mummy and a dashing young monster-hunter, Gwen is set for adventures beyond imagination! A were-terrier, a swinging ’60s ghost and a pack of paintball blasting vampires complete the cast of I, ZOMBIE.

by Peter J. Tomasi, Adrian Saef & John Dell
Deadman can't shut out the cries of the dead rising as he comes to the aid of the new Batman. It’s just in time, too, as the duo face a circus of zombies including the Black Lantern Flying Graysons! 
BLACKEST NIGHT blankets Gotham City in this 3-issue miniseries from writer Peter J. Tomasi (GREEN LANTERN CORPS, THE MIGHTY) and hot new talent Adrian Saef!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Andy Kubert), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Bill Sienkiewicz). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale August 12 • 1 of 3 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Abe Sapien: The Drowning #1
by Mike Mignola & Jason Shawn Alexander
A century ago, paranormal investigator Edward Grey fought and destroyed a powerful warlock off the island of Saint Sebastian. In the early 1980s, the B.P.R.D.'s newest agent was sent to retrieve the warlock's remains. But Abe Sapien is ill prepared for the supernatural forces that block his way. Written by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, and featuring the haunting art of Jason Shawn Alexander (Damn Nation, The Secret, The Escapists), Abe Sapien: The Drowning's the story of Hellboy and B.P.R.D. mainstay Abe Sapien's first solo adventure.

Joe the Barbarian # 1 
by Grant Morrison & Sean Murphy
Having an overactive imagination can get a kid through a lot, but it doesn't change the facts: Joe's still the kid in school that can't fit in. He's the victim of bullies. His dad died overseas in the Iraq war. And then there's the Type 1 diabetes he has to live with. So is it insulin-deprived delirium or something much, much bigger that transports Joe to a land inhabited by all his toys – from ninja commandos to action robots to magical knights to star fleet captains? Is Joe really the savior of this wild fantasyland that's been held under siege by dark magic and evil forces? With the help of a samurai rodent, is he ready to take back besieged castles and win the freedom of an oppressed people? Or is he just an over imaginative boy who could die if he doesn't take his meds?

1 comment:

J.B. Love said...

Well, 'Joe The Barbarian' jumps out at me, but I really think it has to do with the strength of the concept. I guess if your concept is strong enough, it shouldn't take too much 'pitching' to get people's attention.

I look forward to 'Sweets'!

(Oh, and was that character in last month's ish of 'Chew' a Rob Guillory shout-out to you or coincidence?)