Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Crossover Kings: Writers Who Can Do It All

A list of insanely talented people of whom we should be very jealous (from The Slacker Hero):
When most of us think about writers, a very specific form comes to mind: Books. Or comics. Or movies. Or any number of other kinds of media. When we hear the name Stephen King, we think of a guy (who looks like a serial killer, let’s keep it real) who has had success so huge as a novelist that it seems like something ripped from the fiction he writes. Think about it for a minute, and you’ll realize that the same thing happens when you focus on any genre.

The truth is that good writers, driven writers, tend not only to span genres in the medium that made them famous, but also to branch out to write other things. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll provide a list.


Neil Gaiman: One of the greatest voices in comics (Sandman, The Books of Magic), Gaiman is well-known around the world as a novelist whose work moves from modern fantasy (American Gods, Anansi Boys) to fairy-tale romance (Stardust) to macabre children’s books (Coraline, The Graveyard Book). Several of his works have been made into movies, though I’m still waiting for Gaiman’s epic collaboration with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, to be turned into a major film. When Clive Barker raves about a book by saying, “The Apocalypse has never been funnier!”, you know you’ve got a winner.
Speaking of Clive Barker…


Clive Barker: Known to many as the writer and director of the orignal Hellraiser film, Barker is an exceptionally talented novelist. His directorial skills and screenwriting abilities shouldn’t be underrated, but anyone who has read The Great and Secret Show or Weaveworld will probably tell you how engrossing and addictive those books are. Barker is a prolific author of novels, short stories, novellas, novelettes, and has even written a few comics. If you haven’t read anything of his, you should. If you haven’t watched any of his movies, I suggest Hellraiser if you aren’t easily creeped out, or Lord of Illusions if you are.


Joss Whedon: If you’re a regular reader on this website, chances are high that you know who Joss Whedon is. If you don’t know who he is, you A) don’t read anything on SH that often, B) have no interest in popular culture, or C) are dead. If the last is true, please stop using your ghost powers to read this article over people’s shoulders or whatever. It’s creepy.

Anyway, Whedon has written movies (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and TV (Also Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But not to forget Angel, Dollhouse, and Firefly.). He’s a director as well, most notably that of this summer’s blockbuster, The Avengers. In addition to that, he’s written quite a large number of comics, all of which have been very well-reviewed. Runaways, The Astonishing X-Men, several Firefly comic adaptations… and, yes, the continuation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In comic form. He’s like a bad cough. The dude just spreads unstoppably.


J. Michael Straczynski: He’s probably the ultimate renaissance writer. Joe (and I use his unused first name because ‘Straczynski’ is hard to spell) has done it all. He’s written and directed a metric ton of television, most notably his pet series Babylon 5, which a lot of science fiction fans don’t like. But that’s because they’re scared of the pure, unadulterated awesome that B5 was. Joe has been a screenwriter for decades, has written several movies, three novels, dozens of short stories, a stage play, even radio dramas, which I was pretty sure stopped existing in reality right around the time human beings realized they could put pictures to recorded words.

Good ol’ Joe has written so much stuff that it’s almost pointless to list out examples of each. Some of his best work (aside from Babylon 5, of course) has been in comics. Joe wrote the landmark series Rising Stars, one of the best regular series in comic books pretty much ever. The Wikipedia entry on Joe’s comic work is extensive, but my favorite recent work of his was the relaunch of Thor a few years back. I don’t think anyone has managed to make the contrast between ancient Asgardians and the human race so touching and dear, yet also hilarious and realistic, quite like Joe. And that from a guy who writes across all genres and forms of media. To be so profoundly talented in so many areas is pretty much insane.

Now, don’t go calling me sexist. I realize there are no women on this list, but that’s because of my experience. Most of the people I read are male, and those tend to be the ones that I look into a bit more. I’m sure Mortari, my fellow Slacker Hero and fount of feminism and philosophy, can point out any number of societal reasons why I’m not aware of any female writers who fit this mold. If so, I hope she shares, because I’d love to add more material to my reading collection.

Which is the whole point. If talented writers with skills across the board sound like a good deal to you, then go forth and Google things. I promise, you’ll have to look very hard to find work by any of these men that even comes close to disappointing you.

Joshua Guess is an independent author who just can’t seem to stop writing. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook, where you can learn about his new novel, Beautiful, a modern fantasy full of vampires, magic, and snark. Since March of 2010, he has also been writing Living With the Dead, a real-time fictional blog set in the zombie apocalypse, which is free to read online and available on the Kindle and Nook. His author blog contains links to all his work.