Ask Dayton 38 – Crossovers, Storytelling, and Shout-outs
Dear Dayton: On last week’s show, G&T discussed the topic of the Assimilation2 comics and crossovers, and suggesting numerous ideas for crossovers they would like to see. Are there any crossover stories you’re particularly fond of, or would like to see some take a crack at?
When it comes to storytelling, what kind of stories do you prefer writing? Do you prefer the grand scale set pieces, shaking up the universal status quo? The smaller, more personal stories relating to the trial of a singular character? Or, some combination of the above?
Lastly, what do loyal fans of the great Dayton Ward and have to do to earn a shout-out in one of your books? Must we sacrifice the soul of our first born children atop a ziggurat to the great Gene Roddenberry on the coldest November night? Must we throw money at our screens till something happens? Must we simply make you laugh, or worse….mow your lawn?
Crossovers such as Assimilation2—when executed well—can be a lot of fun. For example, I enjoyed IDW’s recent Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes crossover, because I’m a fan of both properties and it was obvious on every panel that the creative team was having an absolute ball as they worked to bring us the story.
Comics are fertile ground for crossover events. DC and Marvel have done their share of this over the years. Remember such match-ups as Superman vs. the Incredible Hulk? More recently, IDW has been bringing us a variety of different “events” in this vein, such as their Infestation mini-series which mixed their own Robots vs. Zombies universe with licensed properties like Star Trek, G.I. Joe, Ghostbusters, and so on.
And let’s not forget stuff like Aliens vs. Predator, which started in comics and later became a couple of movies which were better in theory than execution. Still, the idea itself was cool. On TV, I enjoyed last season’s crossover between Hawaii Five-0 and NCIS: Los Angeles because, again…fan of the shows. Of course, what I’m really hoping for is that McGarrett and his team in Hawaii one day have a case which can only be solved with the help of a retired Navy SEAL/Private Investigator/Mustache Aficionado named Thomas Sullivan Magnum III….
Some hardcore fans cringe at stuff like this, believing that “their” show or movie shouldn’t be sullied by such silly antics. My response to that sort of thinking usually is some variation of “Lighten up, Francis,” though I generally also suggest that such folks go to a quiet corner somewhere, and figure out a way to remove that giant, knobby stick from their ass. This shit is supposed to be fun, remember?
As for crossovers I’d like to take a crack at? If somebody wanted me to have a go at teaming up Star Trek and the Green Lantern Corps, I’d be down with it. Would a Star Trek/Aliens crossover work? I bet it could. How about this: The Six Million Dollar Man vs. Predator? Or, maybe “The Bionic Man” if we update the concept and adjust for inflation? Either way, I think I could be all over something like that.
As for the types of stories I like to tell—grand scale set pieces that shake up the universal status quo or smaller, personal stories relating to the trial of a singular character—I like combining the two if and when I can. Even in stories where I lay out a lot of big plot arcs calling for heavy action sequences where I juggle several stories at once while blowing up all sorts of shit, I prefer to show how those events affect individuals. Some of my favorite scenes from my Last World War books involve “regular people” or low-ranking military types, who don’t always have all the information about the big invasion or whatever. They’re just “rank and file” folks, trying to get along as best they can. That, to me, is where the more interesting stories reside.
In the Star Trek work we’ve done to date, I always enjoyed balancing the big, sweeping stories with scenes and arcs focusing on particular characters. Although I got a kick out of upsetting the game board a bit with what I did to the Andorians in Paths of Disharmony, I really enjoyed the scenes I wrote with Picard as a father in that book. Star Trek: Vanguard is filled with big story arcs and plots, but some of my favorite scenes focused on Diego Reyes in the aftermath of his court-martial. And, yes, I enjoyed writing the scenes with Master Chief Christine Rideout in my recent TOS novel That Which Divides, as she channels her grief into work that ultimately helps resolve one of the book’s subplots.
That last bit actually brings us to the final part of the question: “What do loyal fans of the great Dayton Ward and have to do to earn a shout-out in one of your books?” I don’t really have any set policy on this. Sometimes I do it because I want to cheer somebody up (as it was in Christine’s case), or recognize them for being a good friend or great fan. Other times, I do it just to see if anyone will notice. The only real rule I have is that if you ask to be so recognized, I’m going to find a way to make sure that your namesake character dies in the story. Of course, I might do that even if you didn’t ask, but the more you ask? The more gruesome your death likely will be.
Other writers sometimes hold auctions for the chance to have a character named after them in a book, or they solicit donations as part of a raffle, with the proceeds going to a charity. I’ve haven’t done that yet, but I’m certainly not against the notion. Maybe I’ll look into doing something like that, myself: auctioning off the chance to have a major character named after a high-bidder, and give that money to a deserving cause. Anybody have any ideas on that?
See? I’m not always such a bastard. Then again, I’m late for going back to being a bastard, so I’ll see you fine folks for next week’s question. Same Bat Time! Same Bat Channel!
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He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.
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