The Emo Beard and Writing What You Know

Hallo! My name is Manda and I co-wrote Sidekicks with Errol Elumir, part of the Monkeyman fall production, Sidekicks and Secret Identities!

I haven’t been a writer for an incredibly long time (although I’ve been saying that for four years now so maybe that statement has become obsolete). But I’ve been one long enough to hear the multitudes of advice that far more successful writers dole out to the masses. There’s A LOT of it out there, but the one that always inevitably crops up is “Write what you know”.

It makes sense. For the most part, I have stuck to this rule, for I am a timid soul and don’t like stepping much out of my warm and cozy comfort zone.

I know a lot about video games. I know a lot about awkwardness. I know a lot about pie, though I have yet to write anything about that.

Pie: The Musical
Pie: The Musical

I don’t, however, know a whole lot about superheroes. I was never the kid with the Marvel and DC comics stacked up by her bed. Hell, I barely read Marvel or DC comics as an adult.

I DID get into this recently though.
I DID get into this recently though.

No, everything I’ve ever learned about the insane world of superheroes has basically been from movies or from what my far more comic-savvy friends have told me.

Even then, my tastes are questionable. I haven’t seen all of the Marvel movies yet. I could not understand why Spiderman needed all of those cheesy catchphrases. I question ANYBODY’S need to inject themselves with any sort of untested, experimental super serum. I am one of the few people in the world who sincerely enjoyed the first X-men movie more than the second.

It wasn't THAT bad!
It wasn’t THAT bad!

In other words, I am probably the least qualified individual to write an entire script about the trials and tribulations of living in the superhero world. And normally, I would stick to my precious video games.

But then about two years ago, I was finishing up my first webseries with my co-writer/producer/actor Errol. We had written, produced and edited an entire webseries musical about NaNoWriMo in three months (in our spare time on top of full time jobs). It was…a lot of work. We were burned out to say the least and I was beginning to feel the pull of post-show depression hit me as it usually does after I finish something fun and rewarding.

Then someone showed me the trailer for Man of Steel. I can’t remember who showed it to me. I can’t remember even where I saw it. All I remember was the emo and the beard. All of the emo beard.

Two thoughts crossed my mind. One was that Superman is way hotter with a beard.


The other though was that all of this sudden emoness injected into our superhero movies would make a great sketch. And then it got me to thinking about the sidekicks of superheroes, and what they must think of their bosses in their off hours. Do they meet up and complain about their emo bosses or the ridiculous evil plots? And so, fueled by the sadness of one project ending and the hilarity that was “gritty superman”, I began to write this sketch.

Of course the jokes to be told were far too numerous to fit into one sketch. And so I brought my idea to Errol, who has become my partner in crime for most of my writing endeavors and who has great wisdom and talent when it comes to creative projects and I can say that here because it’s my blog and he can’t deny it.

At any rate, his suggestion was “Why not make it into a webseries? I can help write it!” My only response, well, my only response after fretting over my lack of qualifications, was that we would do it at a slower pace than our action packed musical webseries that nearly murdered my last nerve.

This is us after our last shot of the webseries!
This is us after our last shot of the webseries!

Nearly two years later, we have the webseries almost filmed and now a stage adaptation being produced. It is incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking. Although I did some research, my experience today remains much the same as it did two years ago. I do not know much about superheroes. I don’t know who fought what battle in what issue in what universe to save my life.

But I do know a lot about the pressure to live up to people’s expectations, to fulfill a role that you can’t quite fit into. I know a lot about lacking the skills that society values most. I know a bit about being dissatisfied when life feels stagnant or is not the perfect adventure it was made out to be. I know about how important having a true friend is when you’re feeling down and that a friendship can be just as strong as any romantic relationship.

I didn’t know that’s what we’d be writing about when we started this. First and foremost we wanted to tell a funny story about two people normally relegated to the sidelines and the insane laser filled world they lived in. But then the superhero does lend itself to the above themes.

All of this came about because of my delight of the Emo Beard.

And now we’re just waiting for an audience to share it all with. I am, naturally, nervous. Errol scoffs at my nervousness (anybody who knows me well knows now to scoff at my nervousness). But the thing is that I’ve stepped into unfamiliar territory on this project. And while it’s uncomfortable, it’s also a bit thrilling.

So I guess what I’m saying is…write what you know…and some of what you don’t. Because there are so many interesting things to learn about out there.

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