Magnum Opus

edited March 2013 in Do The Work
It seems that most successful cartoonists have one or two particular works for which they are best known (and eventually remembered).  It might be the one that put them on the map, or it might be the one that becomes their life's work, or it might be the ultimate pinnacle they reach.

What – if anything – do you imagine yours being?  50 years from now, what work will be mentioned in the first paragraph of your Wikipedia article?  Is it something you've already begun, or is it something on the "to do" list?  Is it something you're particularly proud of (regardless of sales), or one that readers would most appreciate?  Why that one? Or do you see your career being more a series of works, with no one of them dominating the others?


  • I guess...

    Bomb Queen will be mentioned in my bio if I step in front of a bus any time soon.

    But I'd rather be known for the diversity of works I've created over my so-called career. However, a lot of that might be a tad bit obscure to most folks.

    Also, I have no awards or any great singular epic tome in me for the masses (at this point).

    What I do feel is the weight of my age. At 50 years-old it seems that any legacy building is against me. Brandon and Justin are doing it right... starting early, building a name and a brand. They still have 20+ years to even catch my age. They can really cement something in that time. I know that being 50 is not a big deal but there are certain things (biologically) that cannot be denied. Pulling all-nighters, eye sight drifting, energy levels, perception by the industry and Hollywood, et.

    Yes, there are plenty of exceptions, but I'd rather have more odds in my favor than less. I guess this is my cautionary tale to the up-n-coming talent.

  • I don't know, but I suppose that Some New Kind of Slaughter is the most conceptually ambitious book in my resume. Its also the one that a few people rave about while others are, meh. Its the most controversial, except that controversial is too strong a word.
  • I will transmute base metals into higher metals. Or possibly brew the panacea, the cure for all diseases. Or discover the secret of the elixir of life. Nothing less is worthy of the term "magnus opus."

    (Sorry, alchemy joke.)
  • My thought as well is that most name brand comixers have a name brand character/title that they can be identified with. Carla Speed McNeil/Jaeger, HugoPratt/Corto Maltese, Milton Caniff/Terry and the Pirates, Mignola/Hellboy and so on. It may change over time, but Brandon, Justin, Jimmie, Steve and Greg all seem to be taking this approach to a greater or lessor extent. I am working on something along these lines.
  • edited April 2013
    I've started tackling some more ambitious stuff, but for now, my claim to, uh, relative notoriety probably is Conny Van Ehlsing. Which is nowhere near Hellboy or Corto Maltese fame, or even Bomb Queen, but there you go. I do have very notable readers, including a lot that are comics writers themselves, which makes up for numbers in a way. (I guess that makes me the comic book equivalent of a musician's musician.)

    Like Jimmie, I sometimes wonder how far I'll be able to take this before I'm too old to draw a straight line. The math is against me: If I keep my current pace, I'll be able to finish another 10-20 albums before I'm 60. That's not much of a legacy. It's also the price of dabbling with a lot of different things over the years: You gain notoriety by doing the same thing long enough for people to notice, not by moving on to the next thing when you're ready. On the other hand, I am kinda notorious within the active German scene for my ... dabbleosity.
  • What I do feel is the weight of my age. At 50 years-old it seems that any legacy building is against me.
    I hear ya. I take some comfort in the fact that Lee & Kirby were in their 40s when they came up with The Fantastic Four.

    I guess to whatever extent I'm "known", it's for Glorianna.
  • For right now I'm (suddenly) best-known for Bloody Waters--not a comicbook. 

    In comics it would have to be the Sixsmiths, since that's been my most-widely distributed work so far.

    I think that my best work to date is some stuff that I am still working on or, for comics, has not yet seen production. 

    I just do the best work I can. The way that the work is received is largely out of my control. 


  • If anyone thinks that they are too old to create a magnum opus, I'd like to point out that there are many people out there who didn't have any memorable work put out/recognised until they were older. The two examples that immediately spring to mind are Raymond Chandler and George R. R. Martin.

    I agree with most people here though, it's really hard to tell what will be considered your greatest work, because ultimately the people who read your  work will decide that for you.
  • I've made little enough headway at a late enough stage in my life, that I know that if I leave a mark with anything, it'll be something I haven't put out yet ... and it'll have to be kinda soon.  So be it. 

    Although most of my effort at present is on the JAQrabbit Tales project (which I imagine being hailed someday as a groundbreaking fusion of pornography and biography) the work that's most likely to be noticed and remembered (because it has a larger potential audience) is one I've partially scripted but had on the back burner for some time now.  Its working title is Jesús 2.0 (though that's sounding a bit dated by now), and it's a heavily-researched, carefully-plotted reboot of the Gospels, set in the 21st century (e.g. Jesús is born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to a Madonna fan who is "like a virgin").
  • I'll be 60 in October. I don't think I'm too old to produce something of significance.
  • There's a couple things I've written that felt like steps up, but I dunno that I'd call anything a magnum opus yet.
  • I'd be very interested to see you guys answer Jason's original question — which was:

    50 years from now, what work will be mentioned in the first paragraph of your Wikipedia article?  Is it something you've already begun, or is it something on the "to do" list? 

    So, not which work are you known for NOW — but which one do you think you'll be known for in future decades?
  • To answer that question: For me, I really hope the work I'm known for in 50 years isn't Witch Doctor. As much as I love that series, it's just one idea of mine — and it's neither the most unique, nor the most commercially viable. I have a half dozen other projects that I want to do that are as good or better ideas. Maybe one of those will be my magnum opus. Or maybe it's an idea I haven't come up with.

    Whatever it is, I think I'm going to be known more for the projects I create myself than for whatever future WFH work I do, no matter how well-received it is. As solid as I think some of my WFH work has been so far, it's just not where my heart lives — and I think the ideas I create whole-cloth are much stronger than the ideas I bring to someone else's pre-existing creation.
  • I couldn't even begin to answer his question. I've got two big projects (12 issues apiece) that I'd like to be my big things, I guess, that have the scope that might be something to be known for. But who knows, I have so many ideas....shrug.

    I know right now I'm known waaaaay more for Luther than anything else. Which is actually fine by me. I'm proud of that book.
  • @JustinJordan, do you have any ongoing series ideas, or are they all mini/maxiseries ideas?

    (Part of my problem is that 90% of the ideas I come up with would make the most sense as ongoings/continuing series.)
  • I'm pitching an ongoing now, actually - Spread. Which is sufficiently weird and differen that I could see it surplanting Luther.

    I've got a couple of other ongoing idea, but I mostly have discrete story ideas.
  • I would have no problem with my magnum opus being Love is in the Blood. I've done the comic for quite a while, and now I'm starting on light novels to go with the graphic novels. Who knows what else might happen? I still love the characters and the universe and have plenty of stories to tell there. 

    OTOH, I've got plenty more ideas and am working on several at the moment. At this point I don't even know if comics will be at the top of my list, since I can't keep an artist and just don't have the skill or will to draw it myself. I want to tell stories and I love comics, but I love novels as well. But I have to keep writing because I pretty much hate everything in the world when I'm not writing regularly. I need to tell stories. Comics would be my first preference for medium, far and away though. 
  • Damn you, Brandon.... always reading things carefully and shit.  Haha!

    50 years from now?  You mean when people are no longer reading because they have implants and ingest nano dream inducers that create comics in their mind's eye?  At *that* time I'll be known for... Bomb Queen.

    Sex will always win out. Though there is no sex in Bomb Queen I'm sure *modifiers* in the future will fix that.  They just need something to start with.  Something that already exists.  Something that might be out of copyright... say, in 50 years.  Hahah!

    Okay.  Seriously?

    As others have said, I can't even answer that.  I have no epic tome in me and even if I did... I fear for the future.  The attention span will be so split that good, or even *great* works, will be shunted to just one-of-the-things out there.  You can see that now in books and film.  Good movies are being made.  Astounding films, mega blockbusters, deep-thinking and important films and documentaries.  Books that are relevant, invoking and engaging.  And all for the memory of what?  A 6-month window and then nobody cares or even remembers it?  It won't matter what Wikipedia writes, what matters to me is what I believe in and what I want to create for those who want to read it... even if it is only a few thousand.  As long as my work supports itself enough to be made and have a venue then I'm happy.  What impact will I have?


    I'm sure the info-geeks of the future will pride themselves on obscure trivia in a world of instant information from their Babel Fish implants.  But even in that world I can't see my legacy being no more than a footnote to the uncaring future... just as many today (beyond the hardcore fans) don't give enough importance to yesterday's creators and artists -- which is a shame.  It's a sad, sad world out there.

    Get used to it.
  • I don't know. Good storytelling survived 80s' TV, it'll survive the current phase of whatever this phase is, too.  Whatever shape it'll take, I just hope I won't be too old and misanthropic by then to recognize it and contribute.

    It's another thing I've been concerned about in my more bipolar moments. I've written in several different media. but I've always come back to comics. Recently, my output has been more comics-centric than it used to be. I hope that won't backfire when future kids stop reading comics altogether because that's Something That Old People Do (and teachers).

    Apart from that, no idea if and how I'll be remembered in 50 years. I'm not seeing myself as the legacy-building kind, more the type whose comics will be found in somebody's attic long after the copyright expires, maybe clutched in my own mummified hands or something, opening a whole new avenue of rediscovery to a new generation wondering if this was something relevant they missed and why there were so many words mingled with the pictures in my time.

    No wait, that was in 5000 years. In 50, I hope it'll be the Dreadful Gate Universe which by then will have been retconned into one congruent multi-threaded storyspace, but knowing my luck, it'll probably be the most depserate WFH I made because that one was backed by somebody who could afford continuous reprints.
  • I'll be happy to be known for anything fifty years from now.

    What'd I really like is to still be writing, with enough of a reputation from my previous work to still be selling what I write. That's enough.
  • edited April 2013
    @BrandonSeifert - I know what I'd want to be my magnum opus, but the very act of wanting it to be that kinda precludes it ever being made. What story can live up to that in-head hype, etc.

    At my most optimistic, I figure I'll end up being known for some fondly remembered B-list WFH or indie book; a Howard the Duck, a Phonogram, something like that.

    e. There's very few ideas I want to do as an ongoing; almost none as indefinite ongoings. I'm much more in the "do an arc, do an OGN" school of thought (yet I still kind of hate miniseries. If I'm writing a contained story, I'd rather do an OGN than impose artificial story-breaks and worry about issue 6 not coming out due to sales. If I'm writing a season of a serialized story, that's different)
  • edited April 2013
    I'll be known for... Bomb Queen.  Sex will always win out.
    That's why there will also be sex in my want-it-to-be-magnum reboot of the Gospels. :)
  • edited April 2013
    @JustinJordan - you've been writing up a storm for a bunch of publishers recently (which I've enjoyed and have been happy to see you get the exposure), and I still have you mentally pegged as the "Luther Strode" guy. And I mean that in the nicest way, because it also means that you have something that's yours (and Tradd's -- I think of him in the same way). So I think if something were to supplant that, it would be Spread or some OTHER creator-owned thing rather than Shadowman or the like. That may also be a product of coming into your work from Luther as opposed to Shadowman or Team 7.

    Actually, that's not entirely true. I think of the beard first, then Luther :)
  • So far my Magnum Opus would be Isaac & Lee, but I'd rather be known for the series I'm working on right now.
  • @GMatias, @JustinJordan - I also think of Justin as the Luther Strode guy. But I also still kinda think of Warren Ellis as the Transmet guy, so take that with a grain of salt.
  • @joshhechinger - Exactly, that's why, for me, I might be known as the Bomb Queen guy for a while.  Even if I do something better (which I hope) I might be known as... that guy who once went out on a limb with that weird series.

    Thus, it's not so much what *good work / magnum opus* I'll be known for, but rather which one has left a mark... for better or worse.

  • edited April 2013
    The last thing I create before I die will be my opus. Ideally, it'll be published posthumously and I'll be like that Dragon Tattoo guy, becoming a wild success but never being around to enjoy it too much. My heirs will live well, though. :)
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