Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Whose Work Is It Anyway?

That’s one question. Another question is, just how proud am I allowed to be?

Because I’m terribly proud.

The husband often delights me with his work. I happen to think he’s talented. He works a lot and he produces some pretty good stuff. Some of that stuff has earned him an accolade or two along the way. He has a stack of 5 star reviews to his name, probably more than I can count, and he’s been on the New York Times bestsellers list more than half-a-dozen times in four separate categories.

I can feel my chest swelling, even as I type.

I was proud when he was approached to write the Dr Who christmas novel The Silent Stars Go By the year after Michael Moorcock wrote his, because, let’s face it, that’s keeping some pretty decent company; and I was proud when his name appeared beside Audrey Niffenegger’s on the cover of the short story anthology Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane.

I was more than a little bit chuffed when I saw the husband’s name on-screen when the credits rolled for The Guardians of the Galaxy movie, too. And this is where it begins to get complicated.

Six years ago, the husband wrote the comic book that James Gunn based his movie on, hence the screen credit. The tone, flavour and sense of humour of the husband’s comic are all there. It was lovely that Mr Gunn made this kind of acknowledgement. But it was also deserved, because it was the husband’s team up on that screen, his dynamics, his relationships portrayed.

Writing is a funny business, and tie-in writing is a funnier business still. It’s like playing in a communal toy box. The toys don’t belong to the writers. We’re allowed to play with them, but it’s for a limited time, and we have to return them to the box at the end of playtime, in the same condition that we found them. 

When kids visit places with communal toy boxes they don’t sit on the sidelines and watch other kids play with the toys while they wait for their turn, and they don’t then have to sit on the sidelines and watch other kids come along and play with the toys that they learned to love for a while. But that’s exactly what happens to tie-in writers.

Yesterday I read this status update from James Gunn on his FaceBook page:

The article the accompanied James Gunn'sstatus update
As of yesterday, we became the first movie of the year to gross more than 300 million domestically. And we also grossed more then (sic) 300 internationally to have over 600 million worldwide (luckily I had a calculator handy to figure that out). We just opened in Japan, and are yet to open in China or Italy, so we still have a little bit to go. But I guess it's time for my Saturday morning THANK YOU!

This made me enormously proud, and I wanted to celebrate.

It’s a kind of nonsense, of course. The husband put the toys back in the toy box after he’d finished playing with them. James Gunn took them out of the toy box for his turn. He’d watched the husband play, and he’d been influenced by the husband’s games. Nevertheless, it’s James Gunn’s script and it’s James Gunn’s direction that have earned the movie those bums on those seats.

I wonder if I’m enjoying this moment vicariously. I wonder whether I’m entitled to the pride I feel. I wonder whether I’m justified in feeling that warm glow that goes with the husband being part of something big and shiny and successful. Perhaps I am, perhaps not. It’s an odd feeling. I want to enjoy it, and I do, but then I remember everyone who had a part in the making of The Guardians of the Galaxy movie and I wonder whether my pride in the husband is misplaced. Honestly, I know how hard he works and I know how talented he is, because I share a life with him... and an office for that matter, and I watched him play with the toys in that toy box, too.

If you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet, go see it. It’s clever and funny, and big and shiny, and it has a heart too, and some of that comes from James Gunn and the cast and crew, but a little bit of it comes straight from the time the husband spent writing the comic books. 

Come to think of it, if you like comic books, you can buy the husband’s version as a trade collection. You’ll also soon be able to buy a new comic called Guardians 3000, in which the husband gets to play with the toys in Marvel’s cosmic toy box once more. He’s about to take the original 1968 Guardians team out for a new adventure, and I wonder where in the cosmos that might lead to.

1 comment:

  1. To your husband's credit, he has set the tone of the characters to such a point that during the big dramatic moment where it looked like a character would die, my girlfriend later confessed to me that at first she was expecting that it would be a fake-out as per The Avengers, but then realised "Dan Abnett wrote the comics!" and was genuinely worried as to the character's safety.

    With regards to sandboxes, he's managed to basically declare the 40k sandbox his and change the direction and tone of the entire thing.

    So I'd say you can safely be pretty proud of him really.