Scott McDaniel: “Why Static Failed”

So I have been following the Static Shock buzz since I heard of it’s relaunch in the DCnU. I had high hopes and all that yadda, yadda, yadda……I was so wanting it to succeed that I bought the books even when the writing bothered me and even when I had problems with the storytelling, I soldiered on and hoped for the best…..wasn’t the first time I waited for a comic to get good. I figured they would change writers and believe in the book as much as the fans would….well they got a new writer but it was too little too late….
John Rozum the initial writer explained why he left the book, I expected his response to be a bit bitter and
venomous….and honestly he had every right to make it that way. However he took the high road. He plainly said he wanted to write it one way and the rest of the team wanted it another….so he quit due creative differences. It wasn’t Scott’s or DC’s fault, everything that happened just didn’t work. That’s what I took from it.
Scott McDaniel responded and he sounded more bitter about what Rozum said (which I didn’t think Rozum was a jerk about anything) and continued to rip into him. Personally I think Rozum hit a nerve and McDaniel took what he said the wrong way. But still, I may be reading into this wrong. I have nothing but respect for what McDaniel and Rozum do. Both are decent talents if you ask me….but if  gotta go with who gave a better  or more decent reason for whatever….I gotta go with Rozum….but don’t take my word for it….read it for yourself and you decide tell me if I’m wrong [Rozum’s Response]
Below are snippets of McDaniels Responses:
Editor Harvey Richards initially hired me to be the STATIC SHOCK penciller. PERIOD.
That was perfectly fine with me. I didn’t know much about the character. I freely admit it to you now just as I did to Harvey then. It’s the truth.
The original, Milestone Media STATIC #1 was originally published back in 1993. During the early 1990’s, I had been working as a full-time electrical engineer during the day, and moonlighting for independent comic book companies by night. In 1992 I had the extreme blessing to be offered the penciller’s role the Marvel Comics monthly series DAREDEVIL. With the full support of my wife, I quit my engineering job and put my full energies into comics. Just as STATIC was launching, I was preparing to vault into the storyline FALL FROM GRACE, which was to run concurrently with MAN WITHOUT FEAR, a Daredevil limited series created by the legendary creators Frank Miller and John Romita, Jr. Man, I was in WAY over my head. A boy among men. It dominated my attention, and I never really noticed Static.
My colleagues have probably experienced similar, intensely demanding early days in comics. Everything is new. Back in my day, there were no schools that taught you how to draw comics. No internet chat groups to turn to. You had to figure it out on your own and learn by doing or by studying film texts, or be lucky enough to receive actual advice from working professionals. That’s how it was for me. I’m a self-taught artist and comics creator. More good stuff on this at the end, too!


I can speak no more clearly than this – I believe everyone involved wanted this book to be a smashing success, including the entirety of corporate DC and its group of editors, and every single person involved with the book’s content. There is absolutely no strategy to sabotage books featuring minorities. Any suggestion that there is such a hidden, destructive strategy in place to keep characters of color from succeeding is simply and absolutely wrong. Such wrong-headed theories only serve to unnecessarily agitate an already potently pressurized situation.
But no matter how truthful this statement is, the fact that STATIC SHOCK failed brings this unfounded racial argument forward. Some people stubbornly refuse to let go of the incorrect belief that this failure is an intentional affront to people of color, and someone must be held accountable.

At this point, our collaboration really soured. For all his talk of his expertise with character, he seemed to limit his involvement to trivial dialogue.

This REALLY bothered me, but at this time, I couldn’t figure out exactly WHY this bothered me so much. I couldn’t articulate it. I did later on. More on this in a moment.
We found ourselves embroiled in petty arguments concerning dialogue. I thought his dialogue was overly wordy, passive and weak. He thought my dialogue was obtuse and clunky. Ahh, Crom, those were some days!
I am ashamed to admit to being provoked by the situation. I crafted most of the key characters, story points and conflicts, and he scribbles a few lines of dialogue. And along the way, he reminds me that he was the writer of the critically-acclaimed XOMBI series, as if I had forgotten his numerous previous reminders. It was maddening, for me and for him. I think at some point Harvey added a flak jacket to his expense report.
Looking back on the situation, I think John simply felt there was nothing he could contribute. I solved most of the story issues to Editorial’s satisfaction, not him, and he was relegated to scripting a novice’s plots. And that infuriated him.
For my part, I am ashamed of being so angry. I am not ashamed of the work I contributed, but of the manner in which I offered it at this time.
And again, I hurled no expletives, or personal insults or insults of any kind. I simply refused to lay down before the master, instead making him earn each step.
I think a sadly humorous but illustrative example occurred early on, regarding the naming of the bridge featured in the opening scene with Sunspot in issue #1.
I asked him to explain where he was going with the book. What he planned to accomplish. His answers seemed to center on Piranha’s army.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I love Piranha. I CREATED him, and his motivations, and his freak army! I don’t have anything against Piranha, but the book is called STATIC SHOCK.
I told John to forget Piranha. This isn’t about him. I kept hammering at the same question, “What is your plan for Static? What are you going to do with him?
John said he was writing issues #4-6 kind of simultaneously, writing bits of each in turn.
Again, I asked him to simply state what he planned to do with Static. Just describe what challenge he’ll face, or what he’ll learn. How he’ll grow.
John replied that he didn’t know yet. He hadn’t yet written that part of #6.
Frankly, I was stunned. And boy, I felt those old familiar urges returning hard and fast. John was the writer in charge, and he couldn’t say where he was going with the title character.
I asked him how he could possibly write issue #4 without knowing where he was going in #6.
He replied it wasn’t necessary to know that yet.
Crom and Mitra! I think steam literally shot out of my ears. This guy was steering the boat, and I feared he didn’t have a clue where he was going with the lead character.

I reached for my bookcase, grabbed my copy of Syd Field’s SCREENPLAY, and read to him the following passage. For those of you who wish to read along, turn to page 56 and read the following:

So – what’s the best way to open your screenplay?KNOW YOUR ENDING!
What is the ending of your story? How is it resolved? Does your main character live or die? Get married or divorced? Get away with the holdup, or get caught? Stay on his feet after 15 rounds with Apollo Creed, or not? What is the end- ing of your screenplay?
A lot of people don’t believe you need an ending before you start writing. I hear argument after argument, discussion after discussion, debate after debate. “My characters, ” peo- ple say, “will determine the ending.” Or, “My ending grows out of my story.” Or, “I’ll know my ending when I get to it.”
Bulls**t! [Sorry, I had to redact the expletive for this family friendly post!]
Those endings usually don’t work and are not very effect- tive when they do; often weak, neat, contrived, they are a let- down rather than an emotional shot-in-the-arm. Think of the endings of Star Wars, Heaven Can Wait, or Three Days of the Condor; strong and conclusive, definitely resolved.
The ending is the first thing you must know before you begin writing.
It’s obvious when you think about it. Your story always moves forward – it follows a path, a direction, a line of de- velopment from beginning to end. And direction is a line of development, the path along which something lies.
You don’t have to know the specific details, but you have to know what happens.

Amen, Syd! Testify!

This is what I read to John. I didn’t demand rigid adherence to any story structure from McKee’s STORY as John describes it.

This response of his was pretty lengthy and thought I put a lot of what he said here….it was only about 10% of the whole rant. I think the whole rant actually confirms Rozum to me….but still I am just one opinion, tell me what you think check out his full response on his site
[McDaniel’s Response]

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About Alvertis

Kidmutantstarr (aka Alvertis) is a comic illustrator, writer and reviewer. A gamer, father, husband as well. Check out his blog on Twitter:@mutantstarr Youtube channel: