No one can ever own or end a concept.
I think about that a lot in my constant state of creator’s decision paralysis, stemming all the way back to when I first starting writing my novel as an eighth-grader and then that summer a comic with almost the exact same concept came out.
I was young then, and I thought, “Oh no! Now they own that concept! They’ve done it so well that no one can do it again. They ended it.”
I’ve thought that many times about a lot of my creative endeavors. People have owned being a boy/girl duet band, blogging about Philly, the theme of my novel again, and many other things. Heck, it’s no so different in the start-up world, where at RJMetrics we saw dozens of other companies with similar concepts get funded and join the fray.
Here’s the thing – concepts are very rarely a zero sum game. There’s room in a single theme for many different variations.
The case and point for me is an actual zero sum game – the “many people enter, one person leaves” theme in fiction. Highlander might be the best example of this for us children of the 80s. There can be only one! Many film fans thought Battle Royale was such an innovative, transgressive take on it that no one else ought to bother. Then, of course, came Hunger Games. Some people called it a Battle Royale rip-off, while others thought it was such an innovative, transgressive take on it that one one else should bother. I loved a comic called Avengers Arena, which many people called a Battle Royale and Hunger Games rip-off, and by that point I knew better than to think it should prevent anyone else from trying the same thing.
People keep bothering. There is something elemental about concept of a zero sum game where the sum is both power and life. No one owns zero sum games, or superheroes, or zombie apocalypses, and no single work on any of those is so prohibitive a mic drop that no one else ought to make an attempt.
All that matters is that your story is good – that your creation is compelling.
Collects Unfollow #1-6 written by Rob Williams and drawn by Mike Dowling with Pahek and R.M. Guerra, with lettering by Clem Robins and color art by Quinton Weaver and Giula Brusco
Tweet-sized Review: Unfollow: a comic for tweeters who’d love a real-world Hunger Games about wealth’s abundance rather than its lack
CK Says: Buy it.
Unfollow, Vol. 1 contains the first six issues of a maddeningly intriguing comic that breathes fresh life into the concept of a zero sum game where there can be only one winner, which we’ve seen used to such great success in Highlander, Battle Royale, and Hunger Games.
Part of its delightful conceit is that there really can be more than one. Larry Ferrell, a Zuckerbergian figure, is facing imminent death and has decided to dispense his $17 billion fortune between 140 people. Their selection isn’t entirely random nor is it perfectly deliberate, and it is extremely public. Some of them are potential future CEOs and world-altering documentarians, while others are bored rich kids and god-fearing one-man militias.
There’s a catch: for every one of them who dies, the remainder of the 140 get to split that person’s inheritance of $120 million. That’s less than an extra million each, so there’s not a lot of incentive for assassination – unless, of course, you plan to slim down the ranks considerably. [Read more…] about Review: Unfollow, Vol. 1 by Williams & Dowling