Writing=Freedom Dept. 1: From ‘Seinfeld’ to Disney to comics

Today is “Writers Mobility Day,” by which we mean a day in which we bring to your attention 2 writers who work in multiple media, wordsmithing like sons of bitches however, wherever, and whenever they can.

For us at TVWriter™ it boils down to this simple equation: “Being a Writer = Being Free

Here what we mean:

Darrin Henryby Julia Hatmaker

Darin Henry was enveloped in hugs and handshakes in the packed room at Comix Connection in Hampden Twp.

On one end of the hugging was Christina Valentine, who had grown up with Henry in Silver Spring Twp. It had been more than 20 years since they had seen each other face-to-face.

During that time Henry had moved out to Santa Monica, California, and his career writing for television had taken off with jobs with “Seinfeld,” “Futurama” and “The Ellen Show.” Now he builds off his work in television to create sitcom-like stories in comic form for his company, Sitcomics.

Each comic published so far is set around the central Pa. area, and he was back in town on July 16 to promote the books.

Despite his time away from the area, he recognized Valentine right away.

“He looked through the crowd and knew exactly who I was,” she said. “He even called me by my nickname, Titi.”

HOW IT GOT STARTED 

Growing up, Henry didn’t imagine he’d be a writer.  But he was interested in British comedies, like “Black Adder” and “Red Dwarf.” That drove him to volunteer with WITF and eventually work in the station’s programming department.

During college at Temple University he spent a semester abroad and met some of the writers of “Red Dwarf.”

It was a key moment in his life.

“They were such normal people and I thought that’s sort of what I am,” Henry recalled. “You don’t have to be like a standup comedian with an arrow through your head, a type of a Steve Martin thing — if you can tell stories, that’s a way to become a TV writer.”

When he came back home to central Pa., he contacted Mike Greenwald over at WITF for advice. Greenwald listed a few people from the area who had made it in Hollywood, including Carmen Finestra and Tom Cherones.

Henry’s ears pricked up at the mention of Cherones, who was the director his then-favorite show, “Seinfeld.” Greenwald said he would give Cherones a ring.

“I called Tom and said ‘I know this engaging, talented young man who aspires to be a writer – maybe for the ‘Seinfeld’ show,'” Greenwald remembered. “Tom said, ‘Nobody writes for ‘Seinfeld’ other than Larry David, but if he’s willing to sweep floors, I can probably find him a job.'”

That job ended up being a gig as a writer’s assistant on the show.

“It was a really great way to start a Hollywood career by never leaving central Pa.,” Henry said of leveraging midstate connections to get his foot in the door.

Read it all at Penn Live