I'm a YA author with over 20 books - including the offical reboot of TARZAN. Also write screenplays for film and TV with my latest - CROWHURST and SUPERVIZED - are both out soon. Also have written a bunch of graphic novels too! AMA!

Andy Briggs
Mar 3, 2018

Andy is a screenwriter, graphic novelist, author and conservationist – writing on movie projects such as “JUDGE DREDD” and “FREDDY VS JASON” and “FOREVERMAN” for Paramount Pictures, Spiderman creator Stan Lee and legendary producer Robert Evans. He has worked on TV projects for SyfyNetflix, ITV and Amazon and is working extensively between the UK, US and China.

Andy went on to work on Warner Bros.’ animated “AQUAMAN” – while at the same time landing an eight-book deal with Oxford University Press for “HERO.COM” and “VILLAIN.NET”. His comics and graphic novels include MADISON DARKRITUAL and DINOCORPS

He has rebooted the classic character TARZAN, with a series of contemporary books TARZAN: THE GREYSTOKE LEGACYTARZAN: THE JUNGLE WARRIOR and TARZAN: THE SAVAGE LANDS.  His latest series of middle grade novels – THE INVENTORY – is published by Scholastic.

He wrote and Executively Produced the UK/Chinese movie – LEGENDARY – starring Scott Adkins and Dolph Lungdren. In 2017 his latest movie, CROWHURST (directed by Simon Rumley, Dist. Studio Canal), will be release in Autum.  SUPERVIZED (directed by Steve Barron, starring Tom Berenger, Beau Bridges wrapped this summer) and WAR WOLF (directed by Simon West) will enter production later this year.

Andy Briggs 2.jpg

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You mentioned going to comic cons to meet aspiring artists. Do you have any advice on determining how suitable a particular artist will be? What questions to ask?
Mar 8, 3:54AM EST0

That’s a tough question. Like most creative projects I think it’s always best if you get on with your team on a personal level (It’s not always possible, I know!). You want to be able feel relaxed enough to tell each other the truth as creative differences can get heated – and ultimately, you’re both doing the project for the same reasons. I suppose first and foremost is that the artist and you are both happy about the way you plan to split ownership/fees when you hopefully do sell megaloads… that’s the most difficult barrier to get over I think.

Mar 8, 2:45PM EST0
With so many things on your plate, how do you manage your time? Do you ever take on too much?
Mar 8, 3:37AM EST0

I often feel that! However, with different deadlines everything tends to overlap quite nicely. It also helps thwart off writer’s block as I can jump from project to project – and that difference gives me a real creative boost … and a sense of sanity if I am ever feeling overwhelmed!

Mar 8, 2:41PM EST0
Of all the books that you have written, which one is your personal favourite?
Mar 7, 11:20AM EST0

Nice question! I would have to say the first TARZAN book. Not because it's a particular favorite story, but because of the jounrey it took to get permission, link with an ape charity, etc. It gave me the greatest sense of satisfaction I think.

Mar 7, 5:13PM EST0
Do you think it's possible to get success with all the techniques one choose, how do you know that you are on a right track and how do you evaluate this decision?
Mar 5, 3:00AM EST0

You absolutely never know if you are on the right track. Books and films can take years from inception to release, so there is never a clear sense of progression. Thinking about this question, I think the notions of success/failure are more psychological than real world. For example, I tend to feel things are going well when my inbox is pinging away. This usually means pitches, job offers, meetings, etc. When the summer months come this tails off considerably and one gets the feeling that things are grinding to a halt.

 

I know people I would consider very successful, who don’t think they are. Some people you meet are one-hit-wonders, but that could still be a massive success. So I think bumbling along with one compete project after another has to be my yardstick of success.

Mar 5, 9:20AM EST0
Is there a word or a phrase that you use frequently in your writings and verbally as well?
Mar 5, 12:23AM EST0

I should really stop satying "awesome" as it creeps into everything. I sometime catch myself using the same similies, which is a bad habit and lazy!

Mar 5, 9:16AM EST0
Which category or genre of writing is the greatest to create a big impact when starting of?
Mar 4, 1:45PM EST0

I wish I knew the answer to that! I think trends shift, but it seems that if you are marked down (for example) as a horror writer then it is difficult to break out into other genres. Thriller or ‘true story’ genres seem to allow writers to have a broader remit for future work.

Mar 4, 6:38PM EST0

Hi Andy - I wrote what I think is an awesome idea - a US Serviceman during the Vietnam war finds out that he's the reincarnation of a monk meant to help the North, lots of plot twists, etc., you get it. I sent out all my query letters, etc., to agents, the whole deal, and ZERO bites. Why is it that I'm having such a difficult time, and (on the movie side of things), a lot of movies suck? To summarize, do I have a chance in hell of getting published?

Mar 4, 7:02AM EST0

Hey Barry – first of all, never say never! Firstly, landing an agent is a numbers game. They only have a limited amount of clients they can take on so it’s a little like the lottery – keep hitting it, accept the rejections (which are mostly because they are taking on zero new clients) then, when a client dies/moves on/etc they have a gap in which case they will then ask to see the material. It’s not a personal thing, it’s just a numbers game.

Secondly, agents tend to geo-locate ideas. So, if you’re based in the UK then agents in general will automatically wonder by a US hero in Vietnam is relevant to the UK market. Boring, I know. You would be bets approaching a US agent. But then you hit the problem above… however, managers are a different beast and more likely to take a look at you. (same problem as agents, but they tend to be more approachable). 

Third – radio silence or a “no” isn’t a no. Sure, they may not like that idea – OR (and this happens) – they may have another monk-based idea in progress, so it’s easier to ignore you. Your best bet is to have a selection of projects to pitch – as wide as possible. Horror, action, etc… whatever you’re comfortable with. To use the lottery example, you’re spreading your bets and widening your chances.

Good luck! Remember, there is no time limit on this stuff – keep fighting the fight.

Mar 4, 7:19AM EST0
Show all 5 replies

What would you recommend for writers trying to break into graphic novels who need to find artists to work with them?

Mar 4, 1:46AM EST0

I was very lucky that Markosia comics worked with a slate of talented artists. Without an artist, comic companies are always seeking decent scripts, so it’s not a major issue. However, with an artist means you have a little more control and it’s a better package to pitch to publishers. If you have no friends who draw, reach out on social media and – probably the best source – go to comic cons and seek out some aspiring artists. Of course, if you are asking somebody to do something for free then you will essentially be forming a partnership with the artist so expect to be giving them a decent share of the rights!

Mar 4, 5:13AM EST0

Have you, or are you considering adapting your Tarzan series for film or TV? And if you do, would it be "easier" for you to do so since you have written for both the page and the screen?

Mar 3, 7:52PM EST0

Absolutely! I hope it’s something that can happen in the not too distant future. I’d love the chance to adapt them myself as there are many things I would like to tweak and enhance – ideas I thought about later… that’s not to say it will be easy. Perhaps as a TV show it would also benefit from input in a writer’s room… either way, I want to be there!

Mar 3, 8:04PM EST1

How long does it take to write a good screenplay? 

Mar 3, 10:44AM EST0

Love this question! I have no idea. I find the trick is in the planning of the story and that can take months (or longer!). A thoroughly planned out script can be written very quickly, in days… although that is never a sign of quality. Nor is spending months dwelling over a script a sign of quality either. However, no matter how good you think the script is, others will have notes. Producers, etc – some may be excellent. Many will be terrible. They are the notes that can destroy any good script regardless how long you have worked on it.

Mar 3, 8:02PM EST0

What drives you in this career?

Mar 3, 9:30AM EST0

Interesting question… I suppose there is a joy to finishing stories. Getting them out of my brain and onto the page give me a real sense of satisfaction. So, in a basic sense, it’s simply the joy of writing makes it a lot of fun. But driving me… mmmm…. This is like therapy! I suppose what drives me is to find a story that I find interesting and can turn it into something a little more interesting for everybody else. As a kid I was never a fan of real life stories, but the older I get the more I am drawn to true stories – maybe that’s what’s driving me now?

Mar 3, 7:58PM EST0
How do the images and language of a graphic novel work together to communicate the plot and in what ways do you think the novel will be different if it were not written graphically?
Mar 3, 2:53AM EST0

This is of course a personal opinion, but books are the easiest of our craft to write (although ‘easy’ doesn’t mean easy…). Graphic novels are a hybrid between movies and novels and bring with it unique challenges and fantastic opportunities. The old adage ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ is very apt. A single panel can convey more in a few seconds than a chapter of a novel. The sequential nature of the narrative means that readers have to work harder to fill in the gaps – whereas novels easily pull you by the hand from scene to scene; graphic novels make you work for your entertainment dose.

 

You mention language, which is very interesting. In addition to the quick consumption of a panel, the language used also has to be concise. Like a novel, we may be able to drift into a character’s inner thoughts, but we have to experience the ‘highlights’. That means the writer has to craft sharper dialogue and make sacrifices to wider or deeper plot strands.

Mar 3, 8:09AM EST0
What do you consider to be unique about working in graphic novels and what was some of the obstacles you faced when writing for the genre?
Mar 2, 10:56PM EST0

When I teach any writing workshops I get gasps of disbelief when I say that (in my personal opinion) writing graphic novels if one of the most difficult disciplines in our world (the most difficult is poetry and song writing). TV and screenplays are next down that pyramid with books at the bottom. With books, you have no budget, no real page limitations and you can drift into a character’s inner monologue.

 

Graphic novels are generally limited in page count and hemmed in by the number of panels and dialogue you can feasibly fit onto a page. Add the fact that panels need to feel sequential to convey the narrative, then you have all the problems of a screenplay with none of the flexibility offered in a novel. Even if I am not hooked on the story, I still am blown away by the sheer skill of some comic/graphic novel writers out there.

Mar 3, 8:01AM EST0
What element of your work as a screenwriter gives you the most personal satisfaction and why?
Mar 2, 9:22PM EST0

I would love to know this answer from other writers! I suspect it’s different for everybody. The most satisfaction for me comes from an approval of a full outline and delving into the first draft. At this stage ANYTHING is possible – not terrible notes, no budget bites, no kowtowing to actors and directors. Bliss! I think the least point of satisfaction comes in watching the final piece because, as a writer, I have been watching it in my mind for YEARS before it hits the screen – although that experience is also balanced by a sense of pride for having got so far. The ideal premiere – you turn up – avoid the film – attended the after show party.

Mar 3, 7:57AM EST1

I love that response. Makes sense, absolutely! Thank you for your answer!

Mar 3, 6:01PM EST1
What’s the experience of pitching like, and is it true that one needs to be able to sell one’s self well and exhibit personality in order to achieve success?
Mar 2, 7:17PM EST0

Hi Stella – that is a VERY insightful question. The big answer is yes, you’re selling yourself first and foremost. Development folks meet writers day-in-day-out and, like it or not, very similar ideas are pitched. What makes the difference is if you both engage with one another and above all, have fun. Even with the most serious of topics, people want to work with folks they enjoy being around. Story creation involves disagreements and arguments – so why not at least do that with somebody who you like being around. It may seem frivolous, but it’s at the heart of a good pitch meeting.

 

A good pitch should be memorable and concise, leaving just enough wiggle room for the development person/producer to add their own ideas into the mix. The more they engage with the idea and buy-in to it with their own suggestions, the better.

 

Ultimately, he harsh truth for writers of any experience is that you are very unlikely to sell your pitch (it’s a small percentage of a writer’s overall ‘sales’). What actually happens is they will remember you for that next project.

Mar 3, 7:53AM EST0
What do you believe to be the harshest reality for new writers and why?
Mar 2, 4:35PM EST0

The harshest reality is that there is a lot of competition; coupled with the fact no matter how hard you work on a single genius idea – somebody else is probably doing exactly the same thing. So the next harsh reality is that getting your idea out there is actually a race against time. I know plenty of people (myself included) who have sat on an idea believing they need perfection before the world can see it… only to see somebody else do a half-assed (or worse, better!) job.

 

That said there are many avenues out there – comics, books, films, tv, etc, and writers I have met tend to confine themselves into a single ecosystem and really hate to be told to branch out. To me, writing is about telling stories, the medium you use can – and should - always change.

Mar 2, 5:34PM EST1
How would you describe the main and supporting characters in your graphic novel, Madison Dark, and what methods did you use to develop these characters' personality traits?
Mar 2, 3:15PM EST0

I always wanted Madison to be strong and not dependant to any male supporting characters. Likewise, I approached Poe to be very much the sidekick. In very crude terms I thought it would be fun to flip the ‘established’ genre roles – so Poe is the damsel in distress.

Mar 2, 4:12PM EST0
If you could do anything with regard to any of the genres you write for; what would be your fantasy project and why?
Mar 2, 1:05PM EST0

Who doesn't want to work on a Star Wars movie?? I'm jealous of my freinds who already have. Actually, I would love to get my hands on the old FIghting Fantasy books and do something special with them...

Mar 2, 5:35PM EST0
What unusual or strange habit do you have to recharge your creative batteries?
Mar 2, 12:48PM EST0

Ha, ha… I’m sure I have plenty of bad/weird habits, but they seem normal to me. But to recharge the creative batteries there is nothing like going on an adventure somewhere different, even just for a few days. The bigger the difference in cultures the better the creative boost.

Mar 2, 4:09PM EST0
What was some of the comics you read when younger and which titles and creators inspire you today?
Mar 2, 11:19AM EST0

Easy – The Amazing Spiderman and Daredevil. Stan Lee was my Obi Wan, so I was overjoyed later to be able to work with him and remain friends. I still have a passion for the older comic stories rather than the 20-part epics trending now…

Mar 2, 4:07PM EST0
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