The ballad of a local kid who loved movies and comic books so much he moved to Hollywood...where he writes movies and comic books
Published: July 27, 2011
"Jesus. You're doing the work before you've got any takers?"
"How else would I do it?"
Well, Haddon filed that 1,200-word feature he pitched and, as I'd expected, it sucked. It was too peripheral and light, rambled with little punch and setup, as if he were penning the subject's record company bio. Boring too. (But perfect grammar.) Short feature writing is a lot harder than it looks, precisely why so few can do it. But we published him after a lot of editing.
That was his way in. He immediately became a story-pitching machine — his persuasiveness was really galling pushiness with tremendous momentum — and he soon became a regular contributor to Metro Times. He'd write anything, including bottom-of-the-barrel stuff — phoner features with lame indie bands, or, worse, celebrities. His album and film reviews were OK, but inoffensive. But, he was an easy edit; his usual effusiveness gave way to listening without grievance. He made himself available and nailed deadlines early. Haddon was capable as all hell.
His writing began to improve exponentially; authenticity and empathy crept in, a voice in lieu of jetsam. I'd never seen anyone progress that quickly — in a matter of weeks — it's as if his writing gene was mainlining meth.
I began to learn about Haddon too, and, beneath what I considered blind ambition, I saw a guy who dealt with any set of circumstances, such as starvation or fear, by writing, and his devotion to it yielded him zero personal time, as if there was little else in life for him. I saw a guy who is kind, deceptively bright and absurdly intuitive about people — hell, he sold me knowing full well I'd never seen his feature work.
He'd head out in the field to shows or wherever for a story, spend hours waiting for interviews, go home and write, for not much money. He pumped out pieces with Detroit assembly line precision, beginning a new one from the final sentence of the last. He did them by the dozens. He could write for 12, 16 hours straight. He says he wrote for 24 consecutive hours once with no drugs, leaving the screen only for food and toilet stops.
Soon he was packaging single features and reviews for publication in numerous papers around the country. He'd write for Metro Times' sister papers including Baltimore City Paper and San Antonio Current. I tipped him to a pal at the Village Voice papers and within months Haddon was a "rising star" at that chain, contributing to Phoenix New Times, Denver Westword, Miami New Times and others. Not five months after that music conference, Haddon was writing for a living. He easily had a fulltime gig in the big J if he wanted one.
The public school-educated writer Cole Redlawsk (Haddon is his "pronounceable" pen-name, a method of his Hollywood entry) grew up in New Baltimore, the oldest of four kids in a home that featured "not one ounce of privilege." Pop's a war vet who served two tours in 'Nam and worked his way into a highly ranked security division. He also worked for the Macomb County Road Commission, a job that sometimes ate up "100 hours a week in winter." His mother is a first-gen Australian, daughter of itinerant farmers who grew up "sort of skinning kangaroos and rabbits, moving from camp to camp."
His childhood was "utterly what you'd expect from suburbia and, consequently, excruciating," with no trauma or family weirdness. "I know there are actually worse things for children to endure, but, for me, there was nothing worse than the tedium of Midwestern suburbia."
Mom and Pop encouraged young Cole to read and to seek out art ("they got that amazingly right"), and he escaped boredom through books, movies and comics.
"My imagination became my way of making a world that seemed without wonder just a little more bearable," he says.
He read and watched movies a lot, and at a tender age fell in love with historical fantasy figures and adventurers, namely Indiana Jones. His comic book "gateway drug was Batman," and he couldn't get enough. Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Frank Miller et al. followed. "These guys were my comic book gods in the same way that I worshipped filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock and Sergio Leone," Haddon was quoted saying in an article in Geek at MTV.com. He began writing and illustrating his own comic books at 11 inside of a spiral notebook and "kept writing them until I was about 19, which is when I decided I'd rather focus on film than comic books. Fifteen years later, I found my way back to them as a profession."
Haddon describes himself as a "progressive nut job" from a world of rural suburban conservatives. He had to learn to "stop thinking like your family who has really high hopes but low expectations ... you'll end up a manager at Target."
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