23

I'm in talks with a publisher about my comic book. In it, the main character is a hunter who hunts monsters, but in a way inspired by how real hunters hunt. My editor suggests that the character wears a hoodie whenever he is sneaking, to inform the reader that he is sneaking.

I then tell my editor that a hoodie doesn't make sense in the context of the story and the fictional world, along with reasons why. But my editor is adamant that the hoodie is a must, because otherwise, readers won't know that the character is sneaking.

Also according to my editor, a hoodie-wearing character is what's selling in the market right now, so my character has to wear it no matter what if I want to get my comic book published.

Should I continue to defend my point? Or should I just let this one slide, and make a (possibly sloppy) excuse in the story as to why the character wears a hoodie?

  • 1
    This is a tough one. On the one hand it's your work and your world, if you let people dictate changes then how much is it still your work? In the worse case you could "lose creative control of the project", as they say in Hollywood. On the other hand you don't want to be seen as some sort of diva. Depending on the rules of your story's world maybe there's some kind of happy medium to make it more obvious the character is sneaking without breaking your own rules? Besides, it's entirely possible the publisher has a point. It's not unknown for them to be right from time to time – GordonM Oct 17 '17 at 15:46
  • 1
    you can always throw it to WorldBuilding and ask them a reality-check tagged question about why a monster hunter might wear a hoodie. Or why a particular piece of clothing could be called a hoodie while not really being a hoodie. – Jeutnarg Oct 17 '17 at 17:25
  • Your editor is god. If he/she is going to publish your book, you can fight what you want but the ultimate word is his/her. An editor knows better than an author what works and what doesn't for their audience, so trust your editor, especially if you are not an experienced published author. There is a chance you are right and he/she is not, but you don't have options here. In this case I think you're right, but the only opinion that counts is your editor's. – FraEnrico Oct 17 '17 at 20:02
  • 1
    I question your need for a publisher at all these days. – Cypher Oct 17 '17 at 21:24
  • 2
    If you ask it at worldbuilding.se, you'll probably get answers in the order of a hood/hoodie being a horribly unsuited clothing accessory for sneaking, it would hinder you a lot: while sneaking you need a very good peripheral vision to be able to track where those who you are hiding from are located and in which direction they are looking. (I have trouble crossing the street while having the hood of my rain-jacket on) There are no scenarios where the presence of a hoodie would save you from being spotted (it would only make you slightly harder to be identified after you are already spotted) – vsz Oct 19 '17 at 6:25

10 Answers 10

20

Every artist should defend their vision of their world, but sometimes compromises have to be made.

Is publication the most important thing at the moment? If not, you could hold off for a publisher who appreciates your vision, but if it is it could just be one of those things - you can look forward to television interviews where you say "ah, yes, I did that to get published. It was 2017 and the publisher thought that's what the cool kids were doing. The idiot.".

I'm guessing that when we're talking about your editor, we're really talking about the publisher's editor - if it's someone you're paying, the question becomes a lot simpler.

But since we're talking compromise, is there another visual cue you could use that makes more sense? And even if it has to be a hood, does it have to be a hoodie?

  • I've suggested many things to the editor, from using camouflage face paint, having the character climb trees, even using a camouflaged hooded poncho that is way more sneaky than a simple hoodie. But nope, hoodie our out. – M Arif Rahman Winandar Oct 17 '17 at 11:02
  • 2
    What's the relationship between the editor and the publisher? If he/she is their person it sounds like you might be stuck (until the television interview...), but if you're employing them independently, "out" becomes a threat you can use on the editor. If they're the publisher's employee, is there anyone else at the publisher who could mediate? (Warning, though. The editor is likely to see this as "going over their head".) – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Oct 17 '17 at 11:13
12

As I understand it, then: The editor has said that if you don't have your character wear a hoodie, he will not publish your comic book. You have tried to talk him out of this and he won't budge.

So you have three choices:

  1. Give in to the editor's wishes despite your opinion that this hurts the story.

  2. Find another publisher. This is not easy, and I'm guessing that if you had another publisher in the wings you wouildn't be asking this question.

  3. Don't get published.

If you're a new writer, I'd think this is a no-brainer: Swallow your pride and give in. You want to get published, right? When you're a rich and famous writer, you can dictate to publishers, tell them that they will respect your artistic vision or you will take your work elsewhere. But you're not a rich and famous writer; you're a newbie trying to break into the market.

You could, of course, piously declare that you refuse to compromise your artistic vision and storm out of the office. Then you can sit home with your unpublished comics. No one but you and maybe a few friends will ever read them, and you'll never make any money from it, but you can proudly hold your head up and say that you were true to your art. Is that worth it?

I've had editors make changes to my stuff many times, or require me to make changes. I'm hard pressed to think of a time when I thought they improved my work. Sometimes I thought it was understandable, like insisting I shorten an article to fit a magazine's space requirements. Sometimes I found it annoying, like an editor who added a paragraph that I considered vague and worthless. I sucked it up. The work was still 90% mine, I got paid, and I got my words and ideas out there. I had one time that editorial changes butchered my work so badly that I said no, print the original or nothing, and the editor said forget it then and didn't print it.

And let's face it, the editor may be right and you may be wrong. Maybe it really will improve your work. In this case the change sounds goofy. Maybe your description is biased or maybe it really is goofy. Whatever.

11

I think I know where your Editor got the idea for the "Hoodie Stealth":

Edward Kenway in Assassin's Creed: Black Flag Ezio Auditore in Assassin's Creed 2: Revelations Jacob Frye in Assassin's Creed: Syndicate

Assassin's Creed is currently pretty big business in the gaming world, and the next chapter in the series, Origins, is releasing next week. In pretty much all of these games, the defining characteristic of the main character is that they wear a hoodie. In the most recent chapter, Syndicate, the main characters actually put up their hoodie and hunch over when they go into stealth modus. Bayek, the main character in the next episode, actually allows the player to choose between hoodie or no hoodie, and that game is situated in pre-BC Egypt.

The hoodie might be a bit too ridiculous, but it can be interesting for the reader to know when the hero is in stealth. There are multiple ways to be stealthy: you can sit on a bench as if you're resting and not show your face, you can blend in with a crowd and get lost in the masses, you can hide behind a desk out of sight of any guards, you can hide in a bush in the middle of the forest,... It's not always easy to notice whether the hero right now is stealthily in a crowd or mingling with his friends, or whether he's sitting on the bench because he's tired or because he's trying to escape a chase. The hoodie

A hoodie might be an anachronism/other poor fit for your story, but another indication of sneaking might not be a bad idea. You might be able to discuss this with your editor and get something that fits your setting better. For example, Watch Dogs (another Ubisoft game) uses a mask:

Marcus Holloway in Watch Dogs 2

5

There is a story that in the early days of Fonzi from Happy Days, a network exec said he wanted The Fonz to lose his leather jacket cause it made him look like a punk. The head writer agreed, but on condition that Fonzi could use the outfit if he was on his motorcycle, because it's legit safety equipment and they didn't want to have people dying in bike accidents because of it. The execs agreed and the head writer left, went immediately to his writing staff, and told them to never write a scene where Fonzi was not just getting off his motorbike or just about to get on it. Later, when they clearly won the jacket problem, they made an episode featuring a one off cop trying to arrest anyone who wore leather jackets because they were punks, which ended with Ritchie convincing the majority of the cast that they should all take up the fashion.

Point is, just because the editor wants the design, doesn't mean you can't write around the editorial mandate in protest... maybe do what another poster said, leave the hoodie for situational events and when he proves successful, do a story where the real reasons you wouldn't wear a hoodie are discussed.

4

No one can really answer this for you, it's about what trade-offs you are personally willing to make. This request sounds ridiculous and off-the-wall the way you described it, but it's the publisher's job to know the market, and maybe he's correct that the "Hoodied Hunter" would be a huge success. Paul Simon's producer didn't even ask him before he edited an electric guitar right over top of Paul's quiet acoustic folk song "The Sound of Silence," but without that intervention, Paul might never have had a career.

With that said, it's your character, and if the concept is strong enough to attract the attention of one publisher, maybe you can find another one who is a better fit. You're the only one who can tell if this does irreparable damage to your artistic vision or not.

If you do decide to accept the hoodie, however, the potential "sloppiness" of the excuse for it is entirely on you. Don't half-step it, or be begrudging --find a way to make it actually work (either straight, or ironic). Otherwise you'll likely be selling out for nothing.

3

Your editor sounds like an idiot and non-professional. If all characters wear hoodies as part of their costume, are they all always sneaking? What is the difference between a hoodie and a Halloween mask, or painting the face entirely bright blue, or wearing a ski mask? That makes no sense, and even if they have money, dealing with people that refuse to see reason is a mistake you should not make.

So the question becomes (if I were in your place) does this editor and publisher truly value my story telling and artistry so little that they would make this hoodie a deal breaker? Because that would make me a slave to their every whim! If they want my character to show more power by having a much larger crotch (or much larger breasts, if I have the gender wrong), I must draw that. If they want my character to also carry a whip, because whips are selling this month, I must draw that. If they want me to flashback to when my character was an assassin for money, even though that was never a part of my story, I must draw it.

I would see this insistence on "hoodie or forget it" as a symptom of a deeper and larger problem: They don't value my work, they want too much control, and I won't be able to tell the stories I want.

I will say editors should have some unilateral powers, an example by extremes could be they refuse to publish a story in which your character, temporarily drugged by a villain, rapes and murders an innocent young girl.

But in my opinion demanding a hoodie is nowhere near the border of such powers.

I would test this, and feel I have nothing to lose. I would refuse, respectfully but adamantly, to draw the hoodie, and thank them for their interest and inform them I feel that, if the hoodie is unconditional, I must seek publication elsewhere.

If they let me walk away, I am better off, I can find somebody that values my artistic vision more than they did. I won't be a slave to their whims. I am at least as well off as the day before I ever heard of them.

If they come back and say they wish to talk further, fine. I would still be eager to be published, and I will have proven I have a spine and won't be bullied.

Obviously this is advice for you to consider carefully, I certainly won't be the one suffering the consequences! But I have done exactly this on actual paying jobs, in the past, and both kept the jobs and gotten what I wanted.

3

It seems your publisher and you are miscommunicating, because you are looking at the same thing from different perspectives.

You are thinking in terms of the internal logic of your story or world.

He is thinking in terms of customer expectations and shared visual language.

Try to find a common language to resolve this dispute. That would usually be his task, but you can do it, too. See the world from his eyes, then see if there is a way to satisfy his desires with something that doesn't clash with your internal logic. Since it is your world, you can create a reason why the character puts on a hoodie. You can also explore other alternatives. Obviously your publisher wants a visual indication of the sneaking mode, so readers are not confused. Can this be accomplished in a different way?

The main is that you two are talking about completely different things, and you won't find a solution as long as that is going on.

2

I have to agree that you might want to seek a second opinion with this one. A hoodie doesn't designate sneaking around. Just because, as Nzall showed in their answer, that Assasin's Creed uses it as such. Sneaking is designated by posture more so than anything with clothing. In a comedy, sneaking is usually done where they are on their tip-toes, doing some silly antics.

In a more serious setting, they are usually crawling, or low to the ground and crouching.

If I put a hoodie up while sitting down to hide my face, does that mean I am sneaking? No, it means I am hiding, so what defines sneaking then?

sneak

snēk/Submit

verb

gerund or present participle: sneaking

move or go in a furtive or stealthy manner.

"I sneaked out by the back exit"

synonyms: creep, slink, steal, slip, slide, sidle, edge, move furtively, tiptoe, pussyfoot, pad, prowl

"I sneaked out"

convey (someone or something) in a furtive or stealthy way.

"someone sneaked a camera inside"

synonyms: smuggle, bring/take surreptitiously, bring/take secretly, bring/take illicitly, spirit, slip

"she sneaked a camera in"

do or obtain (something) in a stealthy or furtive way.

"she sneaked a glance at her watch"

synonyms: steal, take furtively, take surreptitiously; informalsnatch "he sneaked a doughnut"

creep up on (someone) without being detected. "he sneaks up on us slyly"

As you can tell, by definition, to be sneaking requires an action, not clothing. Does clothing help? of course, but clothing is not the factor in telling if someone is sneaking. it is the ACTION. Crouching, laying low, slithering, crawling. Action words or images that can be drawn to denote sneaking in context of words.

It sounds like your editor is really narrow minded and you may want to see another editor if they won't go farther with you unless you do a hoodie.

2

I suspect your editor may be considering merchandising, add a hoodie to the character and there is a potential revenue stream.

His job is to take your story to market with some confidence of commercial success and maximise potential maximise profits, he is working in your interests as well as that of the publisher

If you cannot compromise then you can self publish, but then of course commercial success is less likely.

If you are at the beginning of your career I would suggest you concede, the editor is of course working in your interest as it is in his interest that your story succeeds, once commercial success is achieved then you can be more rigid.

Everything can stand a little tweaking, it's just sometimes hard to hear.

1

You might consider discussing why a hood is or isn't appropriate. For example, you could point out that a hood is used for stealth when trying to hide your identity, but it may actually interfere with hunting/tracking activities.

If he's convinced that a hoodie is needed to sell the story, maybe you could flip it around? Wear the hoodie to hide your character's face/identity when out in public, but remove the hood when things get serious.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.