FAQ 11dec12: Writing On An iPad

December 11th, 2012 | FAQ

I’ve got one for you, actually, though it’s a bit pedantic, I suppose. You said you wrote GUN MACHINE (which is fucking fantastic) on your iPad. With what, howfore, and why? I find jumping between an open Pages doc and Safari a royal pain, for instance, and given the amount of research you did, I’m wondering how you negotiated it. Also: keyboard? program? And any other details you care to share. Me, I’m lost without my laptop.


Greg Rucka, everybody.  When you pass out from stark boredom three lines into this one, blame him.

Okay, so, yes, I did write a chunk of GUN MACHINE on the iPad.  I did it in a couple of different ways, depending on my mood.  To write material on your iPad, you need:

*  A keyboard case.  I have the Logitech Zagg Keyboard Case for iPad, which is a nice keyboard inside a padded aircraft-grade aluminium shell, that connects via Bluetooth.  It is very good.

*  Dropbox.  Dropbox Dropbox Dropbox.  Seriously.

*  I have two basic word programs on the iPad that both pretty much do the same thing.  PlainText and iA Writer.  I still can’t decide which one I like best.  Probably PlainText.  They both have their annoyances.  But what they do is create (inside your Dropbox) a plain old .txt file.  If I was writing something that I needed to check the research on later, or something that I felt was going to need a polish later, I’d just bang it down in PlainText.  Writing in .txt makes me take another look at it before it goes into the manuscript.

*  For actual finished work, I open Quickoffice HD Pro, which uses and creates Microsoft Word doc files, which is what I submit manuscripts in.  Again, it’s seamless with Dropbox.  I can write on the iPad in the main manuscript with full comfort.

*  When I’m mobile with iPad-only and I am stuck for research but want to get a thing done — well, I can simply keep Quickoffice running in the background and launch the Evernote app, which is where my book research lives, organised by folder.  Or I can launch it on my iPhone, for that matter, because where I go, the phone goes, and when I’n writing it’s usually propped next to the work machine anyway, picking up messages, playing a podcast and/or running a news stream of some kind.  (Twitter, or Reedlines, or similar.)

*  Why do I do this?  I’ve always hated lugging laptops around, and have always looked for efficient mobile solutions.  I had one of those early Asus netbooks.  I had a Treo.  Hell, in the 90s, I had a Handspring Visor.  And I figured that since the iPad was light, instant-on, built for wifi and supposedly fucking magical, I should be able to make it work as a mobile work solution without having to screw around with laptops and crappy batteries and all the rest of it.  In the mornings, I just grab the iPad and case and go out into the back garden and sit at the table and am ready to go.  I go back to the office, wake up the laptop, and thanks to Dropbox everything I’ve done is already there.  It works for me.

FAQ 4dec12: How NEXTWAVE Was Conceived

December 4th, 2012 | FAQ

How did the idea for Nextwave (Or is it NEXTWAVE?) come about? I’m just getting into the series and it’s pretty much one of the most amazing comics I’ve ever read.


Oh, god, that was a few years ago.  Nick Lowe at Marvel wanted me to do a book in his office.  I know I’d been thinking about something Brian Bendis said, about hoping his work on the AVENGERS comic would start a conversation about that kind of superhero-team comic.  This was, what, seven years after THE AUTHORITY and Grant’s JLA and all, at this point, so it was a fair conversation to have.  And Brian was presenting his take on that.  Brian’s very interested in David Mamet, and Mamet’s often used as a stick to beat him with, but his approach in AVENGERS is probably easier to understand as being like Tarantino going to crime fiction in RESERVOIR DOGS — turning a greying “action genre” formula thing into a hyper-verbal ensemble piece.

So, well, I obviously couldn’t do that.  I wanted to engage that work in conversation, but I had to come in from another angle.  And since this was to be a company-owned book, and my job at Marvel was really to service their extant creative library, coming up with something brand new would have been counterproductive.

Which brought me to this: taking just a ton of those old characters and ideas that were currently useless to Marvel, throwing them in a pot like thepotboiler catmeat they were, and just driving them down over high heat until you had something pure.  Or at least concentrated.  While watching FLCL on repeat.  Just boiling and mixing and throwing more old Marvel ideas in there and remixing and sampling and remixing some more.  Taking out all the sticky tendon and unmelted bone of, you know, plot, and character, and continuity, and anything else that people think should belong in superhero comics.

And that would be my contribution to the conversation.  There’s a quote that’s stuck with me for, oh, 25 years, that I’ve used a few times to describe a certain kind of work, and it was probably never more fitting than used for NEXTWAVE.  It was my motto for the job as I was writing it.  Nik Cohn describing “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard:

“A glorious burst of incoherent noise.”

I doubt I ever lived up to it, but that was the target.

i have no idea if i’ve answered the question NEXTWAVE IS LOVE send

Also Stuart Immonen is a genius.

FAQ 27nov12: On Downloading And The Length Of Books

November 27th, 2012 | FAQ

[The FAQ category]

What are your opinions on the quandary of downloading scans of comics due to a Trade Paperback’s lack of back matter. I recently bought a copy of the original 1997 Helix comics single of Transmetropolitan and loved your essay in the back. The TPBs lack this and I want to read them all. I hate illegal downloading, but lust after your mouth-words. Guide me.


Is this something I really have to have an opinion about?  If I’d wanted that stuff in the trades, I’d have had them put in there.  They were just ephemera for the monthly readers, for as long as we had use of those editorial pages.  But I certainly can’t stop you from downloading scans, and would really have no interest in doing so.  I don’t police my readers.

So long as you’re not making new money off me, I won’t track you down and have eels violently introduced into your innards through whatever human portal presents itself.  How’s that?

The new book, Gun Machine, is rather short for a novel at 320ish pages. Crooked Little Vein wasn’t all that long either. Has this been a conscious decision on your point to write shorter books or have you found, so far, that this has been the appropriate length to get your stories on paper?


GUN MACHINE came out around 85 to 90 thousand words long, which is almost 40,000 words longer than CROOKED LITTLE VEIN.  I’ll never be Neal Stephenson (in a great many ways).  I tend towards concision.  They end where they want to end.  I suspect the one I’m currently writing will be about as long as GUN MACHINE.  I dream of (being able to afford to spend several years) writing a huge meandering doorstop like AGAINST THE DAY, but I seem not to be that kind of writer.

(Also: I think I’d actually question “rather short for a novel.”)

Greg Rucka had an interesting further comment on this:

ruckawriter said: 90K novel is not “short.” I’ve read 60K novels that read as if they’re three times as long, and that’s not a good thing. Over 120K, in my experience, and the publisher gets nervous. And raises the price, to boot.


November 20th, 2012 | FAQ

baffledjailbirdisin asked: Hi Warren, I was wondering if you know of or are talking about some alternative adaptation projects for Transmetropolitan? I understand that seeing it on the big screen is at present too big a budget to even consider, but do you have any thoughts on how you might like to see it adapted otherwise? If so, how good are the chances of this happening?

We don’t take TRANSMET out, but very occasionally persons in the film and tv industries request conversations with us about it.  And I mean very occasionally, because it’s an obscure work.  We haven’t, since the days of Patrick Stewart optioning it, met with anyone we’d consider the best fit for the material.  TRANSMET is not a thing we sell options on for the hell of it.  There are other works of mine that I’m happy to see other people adapt, just to see what happens.  TRANSMET is not one of them.  It’ll go to the people who will keep it intact, or it won’t go out at all, and either result is entirely acceptable to Darick and I.  I don’t feel that any book has to be “legitimised” by film or tv for it to have been a successful work.  And, at this point, the book is between ten and fifteen years old, depending on how you measure it, and enquiries as to the rights are growing ever fewer.  So, you know, don’t hold your breath or anything.

FAQ 9nov12

November 9th, 2012 | FAQ

[FAQs passim]

How does do you write dialogue so well? I’ve always heard other writers say that all it comes down to is listening to how people talk and mimicking that in your writing, but most of time I feel like what I have my characters say either falls flat or isn’t going to be interesting/witty/funny/what have you.



I’m ignoring the first bit, because my dialogue isn’t great.

Dialogue for comics is a hugely different animal to dialogue in books or film, but here’s a couple of general things to think about:

1) You can’t force being funny.  Forced funny is never funny.

2) When you have a character talking, have two things you know about their lives in your head as you let them talk.  Two things that make them what they are.  What was their childhood like?  What was their first job?  Do they spend a lot of time alone?  Are they guarded around people?  Because dialogue is about moving information around and expressing character.  What you know about them affects the way they talk.  Take a book you like — or, hell, even one you don’t — and select a passage of dialogue, and see what you can learn about those characters from the way they speak.  (And, on top of that, see if the way they speak changes during the course of the book.)

2a) Once you know what they think is funny, or what’s funny *about* them, their dialogue will get funny.

I hope that helps a little bit.


Hiya. What kind of reading vs. writing ratio do you normally have? (Sometimes it seems like you cruise the internet for the amazing and absurd while your beard writes the books. Also, if that’s actually the case, what’s the best way to make a beard?)


There is no ratio.  People tend to look for structure in my working life, and there isn’t a lot.  Reading is work.  Writing is work.  Communication is work.  Research is work.  I work from when I get up to when I go to bed.  I’m fairly stupid, and writing passable pages doesn’t come easily, so this is a 24/7 gig for me, just to be competent.  All this means that it’s really hard to separate the elements of the day out enough to be able to see a ratio.  It’s all The Job.