Part of my job at Top Cow was discovering new talent. Mainly on the artistic side, but I’m a story guy, so I was always looking at new writers. It’s nearly impossible to find them fresh, but sometimes you get really close. I was after Matt Fraction and Jason Aaron before they became Marvel-exclusive superstars. Ditto for Brian Wood, who had a ton of work under his belt, but DC hadn’t quite made him a household name. I lost out on a lot (though I guess you could say I helped the mainstream discover Phil Hester, the writer…).
One of the guys I did “discover” has turned out to be one of the most beneficial discoveries of my professional life. Last April at the New York Comic Con, I met Nelson Blake II. Cully Hamner recommended he swing by the TC booth and come talk to me. I dug his work from the jump, and literally ended our conversation by standing up and saying, “Okay, so I love you…” A few months later, Nelson introduced me to his buddy Bryan Edward Hill at the San Diego ComiCon. For some reason, I kept wanting to call him Joe. So for a few days and a couple weeks jokingly after, he was Joe-Bryan Hill.
One day Bryan asked if he could pitch me something for Pilot Season. Normally when guys ask, they have a pitch ready to send your way as soon as they get the greenlight. Bryan told me he was working on something, and even checked in a bit later to tell me he’d have it to me in a couple days. Okay, whatever. We’d hit it off just fine at the show, but there are plenty of really nice people who just aren’t on the level of guys already working. What I didn’t know is that Bryan had been paying attention to what I’d been saying and to what kind of stories I liked, and then crafting something that would knock me off my feet.
He sends me the pitch and I’m floored. It’s the best pitch I’ve read since Marc Bernardin handed me the pitch for Genius a year and a half earlier. I schedule a call with him immediately and I believe what I told him was, “Okay, you can pitch… But can you write?” He sent me a screenplay and I loved it. I asked for more. He sent me part of the graphic novel he had done with Nelson, and I loved it. He sent me a novel, and I loved it. He writes exactly the kind of stuff I like to read, and he does it really, really well.
We started talking more and more, about the pitch, my writing, and other things. We became more and more friendly, and he asked me if I wanted to jam on something with him. It started with one idea, which I didn’t think he even needed me on, and now we talk a few times a week about the umpteen things we have in the pipeline, and whenever one of us has something new, it’s kind of like, “Um, if you want in on this… I’d be cool with it.”
And just so no one thinks I’m just glomming onto his immense talent, I hired him to write one of the stories in Broken Trinity: Aftermath, and he was being groomed to write the spin-off series whenever it gets moving. He’s got stuff coming out, and it’s good. There will be more – solo, with me, and in multiple formats. He’s a writer, filmmaker, and entrepreneur. He’s a storyteller for the new media age.
He’s also served as a bit of an inspiration. And not because he had a WMA agent at my age and has already written all kinds of awesome. He’s got the right mindset, the right experience, and the right things to say when I need to hear them. It’s really helped me keep my head on straight, especially when I got laid off. He was actually the first guy to know, as I had a call scheduled with him minutes after Matt walked into my office.
Long story short, I’m kind of in love with Bryan Hill. He’s a collaborator, a partner, and most of all, a good friend. He posts almost daily on what I guess could be called a culture blog. I enjoy it quite a bit.
Bless yourself: HERE.