Over the past five years, the comic book market has changed, the audience has changed and writer Steve Orlando decided it was time for him to make changes too. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Orlando discussed his decision to transition from writing for DC Comics to becoming a freelancer.
Orlando started writing for DC in 2014, beginning with Midnighter then adding titles, like Justice League of America, Electric Warriors and Martian Manhunter to his resume.
For four years, he had a contract making his relationship with DC exclusive.
Comics have to grow and change. People have to grow and change.
Orlando “grew up as a DC guy,” so getting offered a contract was a dream job, and writing for DC is still a dream job, he said, but “when you’re an adult, you realize that dreams have to evolve and change.”
While he was under contract, the comic book market evolved, and there are a number of publishers out here now that weren’t around five years ago.
A lot of those companies have a different flavor from each other. They offer different types of work relationships on the creative side, and Orlando said that’s both fascinating, challenging and he’s ready to get into the mix.
“I love when I see companies forcing themselves to innovate.”
Orlando hasn’t severed ties with comics or with DC. He’s still excited to continue working on Wonder Woman.
“These are icons, and to be asked to become a lasting part of those things, you know, it’s an honor, it’s a huge responsibility, and there’s just no way I wouldn’t do that,” he said.
But Orlando revealed that he has a slew of other projects in his grand plan.
Some are in the direct market and others are in the book market. The list will include new non-capes content and capes content. “But it’s going to be bolder than what we saw before,” Orlando said.
“It’s not just even staying in comics and pushing out to where graphic novels and comics can go, it’s pushing myself beyond that as well.”
For Orlando, that means venturing into prose and animation.
Near the end of 2020, he’s hoping to release “a project” that’s reflects the inspiration of Thunderbolts, a book that he says influenced him when he was young. He also has plans for a “gay time travel romance erotica book.”
“I’m sort of firing on all cylinders.”
“I have this drive to innovate and to do new things, and that freedom is very exciting, but it’s also something that comes with a price. And that price is security,” Orlando explained.
Writing for DC under contract offered reliability, but going freelance is “terrifying” Orlando admitted.
But he understands that’s part of the game.
“As creators, we can’t be comfortable.”
Orlando has tried to minimize the volatility by transitioning, instead of leaping, into the freelance world.
“Since I’ve been looking at coming up off contract, I’ve basically been working since May of last year on setting stuff up for this year,” he told THR.
And he offered some words of wisdom for those pitching their work in the comic book market.
Publishers don’t want to feel like you’re just treating them like a means to an end.
Publishers also don’t want to be treated like they’re all the same.
“I mean, when you send a pitch out, you’re asking for attention. And if you’re just sending the same thing to 20 different people, you’re actually not giving attention to the people you want attention from,” he said.
Orlando claims he has taken a more strategic approach. Instead of mass pitching, he stops and asks, “these are things that have been in my mind for a long time — what is the publisher where we could both benefit the most from doing this book?”