It's Not a Challenge, It's an Experience

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With Comic Book Challenge 2007  right around the corner, BF sought out a few of last year’s contestants to find out what kind of impact the event has had on their comic book careers.

We skipped DJ Coffman, since it’s rather clear how he’s fared: his winning pitch, Hero By Night, is serialised online and was turned into a four-issue limited series earlier this year. But what about the two other runners-up and a few other key entrants? Where are they now, 365 days later? Let’s find out…

Megan Gedris, Finalist, I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space.

I have lots of new fans now, both for the comic I entered and my other webcomic, YU+ME. I've got people who know who I am now and I've got project offers coming out of my ears, but Q-Tips take care of that.

I put "Lesbian Pirates" on the web and it's been in the top 10 on Drunk Duck since it started. And even though I didn't win 1st place, it's getting published anyways! Six 22-page issues, posted on the web and then in graphic novel form sometime next year.

One of the best parts was right before I pitched. Dan Forcey gave me a nice pep talk that got rid of my nerves and I went in and gave a great pitch. Then was the great moment of Dan calling and saying "I'm terribly sorry, but you're going to have to stay another night in San Diego because you're in the top 3!" Freaked me out that first part, I'll tell ya.

Ryan Burton, Finalist, The Six Sinners.

One of the really cool things about the 2006 Comic Book Challenge was hearing all the different story ideas. The stuff people came up with was phenomenal. I mean, there was this one guy who pitched a story about Jesus being a vampire slayer. Now, the funny thing is that one judge said "I’m not a religious guy, but this’ll never work. People will never go for this."

About a month later, I saw the same story concept being featured on a comic news site. Jesus—sandals, crown of thorns, and everything—was slaying vampires. Ah-mazing. Obviously, this particular judge couldn’t see past his own worn-out spandex. Another great pitch was a story called "Gass", which was a futuristic, nihilistic yarn that seemed extremely captivating. If someone could publish that piece of work, I’d be grateful.

But the best part? This is lame, I know—but the best part was meeting all the people. Seriously. Here you had all these writers and artists from different walks of life, passionate about their work, all coming together to share their ideas. This is what they loved, what they had developed from a spark of imagination, what they had spent their own hard earned cash on to present to their peers, and a panel of judges. I mean, people had travelled from all over the world—heck, there were folks from Canada and Mexico—to show their work to an audience and some people they didn’t know from Adam.

The people I met made the experience. I was fortunate enough to meet Dan Forcey, a charming guy who pretty much ran the show and laughed at my inane jokes, Scott Rosenberg, and Megan Gedris who was as charming and eclectic as her comic book, I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space. And then we were on local TV, which was in itself, surreal and silly at the same time.

Also: I can’t get the image of my wife sitting in the audience amongst sweaty fanboys, holding her breath, while I pitched to the likes of Marc Silvestri. In a nutshell, it was all so cool.

Andy Tafelski, Semi-Finalist, Ulf the Frog.

The real payoff from entering last year's Challenge came when some folks from Platinum contacted me and privately expressed great enthusiasm for my creation Ulf the Frog.

In the time since I've been developing Ulf into a graphic novel. Since I work a day job I have been doing this in a very methodical fashion asking my writer friends to review and critique the script, doing a lot of thumbnailing and researching venues for publication. At the rate my work is progressing I anticipate this will be done sometime next year.

In any event, the opportunity to pitch was pretty spectacular and I wouldn't have traded it for anything. With any luck I'll be down in San Diego again this July.

Orlando Harding, Semi-Finalist, Inner Demons.

The Comic Book Challenge helped my career, but not in the way I thought it would. Inner Demons was a very unique concept and was received pretty well by the judges. Even that judge from Time magazine, who was tearing into every body that pitched, liked my story idea but commented that he thought it was too big for Hollywood—imagine that! Too big for Hollywood?

What really helped me was meeting Dan Forcey. I always thought he was a cool guy and was nice to talk to in person. The real story was that I was already working on a book named Pariah and right after the pitch to Platinum, the San Francisco Chronicle did a huge story on it since it stars the Bay Area’s first super hero. A couple of people remembered my name and sent the info to Platinum asking if I was the same guy that just pitched. Dan responded telling them yes and contacted me and wished me congratulations.

I’ve drawn interest from a few people concerning Pariah and was contacted by Joey Travolta-the brother of John and sold him the rights to pitch the property about 3 months ago. When the new contest for Platinum came out I received an email from Dan and responded to him. Dan asked whatever happened with Pariah and I told him that I had just sold the rights to Joey and we were setting up a pitch with Crystal Sky and a couple of other companies. Joey has already spoken to John to play the role of Natasami the rat in Pariah. It's weird to think that this really might happen.

It's funny how things worked out: even though my first story did not make the final 3, it made the way for another story to find its way to other companies. I have just heard from another company that is considering Pariah for an animated series and it is all due to me making the Top 50 in the Platinum contest.

How does this story grab you? People can't believe it when I tell them how it happened. Check out my website at www.orlandohardingspariah.com where you will see all the articles written about Pariah and me.

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