Monday, June 28, 2010


When I was a kid, all I wanted to do with my life was play baseball. I was a big sports fan (still am, if you can believe it) but baseball ruled the roost. I lived and breathed the game. At a young age I could tell you more about baseball history, rules and statistics than a lot of MLB analysts. Unfortunately for me, my skill for the game lay in strategy and not physical prowess. I couldn't hit a damn ball to save my life. I wasn't a terribly good fielder either. Typically, I spent my days riding the pine. The one thing I was always good at though was throwing. I was most often relegated to right field, which is where they typically confine the least talented of all the ball players at that age. What did I discover about myself in right field? Well, I had a lot of hustle even if I wasn't very quick to the ball, I was prone to trying to make spectacular catches (usually a failure) in an effort to somehow distinguish myself as a ballplayer, and, most importantly, I had a cannon for an arm. A big, nasty, mean, accurate ten year old fireball thrower. I could hit the cut-off man with pinpoint accuracy, I could one-hop a laser guided shot to home plate whenever some over zealous kid tried to sneak his ass home.

Let's review. I couldn't really field, I was a terrible batter, I could throw hard accurately. Why the hell wasn't I a pitcher? Unfortunately, in little league you often run into the problem of "coach's kid gets the best positions." What that meant more often than not was the coach's kid got to be the pitcher. Even though I had that aforementioned cannon, even though my own father had been a good fastball pitcher in his youth and could have taught me a ton about mechanics (all you need at ten is a good heater), they never put me on the mound. I'm not ashamed to admit that it still bothers me a bit to this day.

How fitting it is then, after all these years and all this geektastic self-discovery, that I would enter a field that required I be a "pitcher" to get work. Sure, its an editor instead of a batter and a synopsis instead of a hard white ball, but I'm finally a pitcher.

So my question for all of you guys this week is this; how do you pitch? Some of you have pitches out there right now awaiting critique, some of you have sold pitches and are currently working and some of you are like me, just starting out and trying to determine the best manner in which to sell your work. So what do you do? What advice do you have for myself (and my readers) about putting together the best possible pitch and reeling in those editors?

Batter up!

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Question...

For those of you who don't know, my current job is at a local bar, where I barback and work the door. I work five nights a week (Fri - Tue) and the shifts last from 8 PM till around 5 AM. Five days a week in an industry like this is different than five days a week in a normal industry with a normal schedule. The reason I say "normal" industry is because the bar industry is, for the most part, a lifestyle and not just a job. People who work in bars get hung up on how much money they can make and then often begin to lose sight of other goals that they had in life. This isn't always the case, but often you find bartenders, barbacks, servers who work in bars, hang out in bars and only have friends who work and hang out in bars. It transcends work and becomes how you live your life. This is an easy trap to fall into, as the bar industry is one of the few places that people like myself (intelligent and hard working but otherwise under-educated workers) can find work that offers a decent amount of money.

Despite the amount of money I make (it's good), I'm burning out pretty badly at work. The three shifts a week where I barback don't cause too much stress, but my two shifts working the door (Friday and Saturday) are so stressful that I spend all week dreading them. Adding to this stress is the fact that I feel I have to cram all my creative work, my friend time and my time with my wife into the two days off (Wednesday and Thursday) that I currently have. There just doesn't seem to be enough time.

You might be asking yourself, "Why not just get up and do a lot of creative work before going into your job for the night?" Well, I just don't sleep. Sleeping during the day, being wired at the end of work, etc, etc. There are plenty of factors that lead to insomnia, so I'm constantly trying to catch sleep where I can. And, when I am awake, I don't feel I have a great deal of energy or creative fire.

You're probably thinking to yourselves that I should just find a new job, and I'm trying, but the job market in Nashville is still pretty terrible so opportunities are few and far between. I'm hoping to scale back the amount of days I work at the bar and that would certainly help, but the level of stress right now is flirting dangerously with breakdown levels.

So my question to you friends and readers is this; how do you do it? I know that many of you have wives, full time jobs, kids, and other obligations which no doubt cut into your creative time. How do you balance it? How do you find time to do your jobs, work on projects and still maintain the obligations to family and fellowship that you feel are important? Do you exercise, meditate, drink heavily, do copious amounts of recreational drugs? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Analog Dilemma

I think every burgeoning creator who cut their teeth on superhero comics faces the analog dilemma. Simply put, we all want to add our own spin to the classic themes that prevail over superhero storytelling. While certain creators have managed to work their way into the pantheons of the big two and tell the kind of groundbreaking stories they wanted with established characters (Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, Mark Waid's Kingdom Come), most creators had to branch out and form their own worlds and their own characters to really come at superheroes the way they wanted (The Authority, Watchmen, etc.).

It's beyond argument that many of those superhero analog books rank amongst the most important work in the realm of comics. Watchmen, perhaps the best example of an analog story, is widely considered the greatest comic ever created. So there's definitely a precedence there. The issue, at this point, isn't whether analog stories are a worthy use of panel space, but whether there are still enough original stories to be told in that particular vein.

This is what I'm struggling with right now. I have different projects which I try to divide my time evenly between. There's the horror/Western with elements of classic mythology, the homage/critique of the pulp/adventure genre, the space opera. Lately though, I find myself devoting more and more time to my own superhero analog. The question I pose to you, readers, is this; is it worth it? Should I continue to pump so much of my time and effort into something that many people will likely disregard with a simple, "Eh, it's been done before,"?

I think I have original things to say with these stories and I believe that I've come up with a very interesting and original way to tell the stories while still fleshing out the history of the universe that surrounds them. Aside from that, I've put a lot of myself into these characters, both good and bad, and I find that I like them and the story that surrounds them better than anything I've done yet.

So what do you think, friends and fans? Has this horse been beaten, dumped in a Lazarus pit and beaten again so many times that it's hardly worth it? Or should I soldier ahead, steely in my resolve, determined to put my own personal stamp on the genre that has meant so much to me and to the industry as a whole?

Up, up and away?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rounding Up

On days like this when I don't have too much to write about, I'm going to try and round up a few interesting comics stories from around the net. At least this way I'm putting something up and those five or six of you that read this (not counting everyone at BOOM! Studios. You my boys, yo.) have something to entertain you for a few minutes. Enjoy!

Summer Glau joins the cast of Knights of Badassdom. - courtesy of Bleeding Cool.

Brian Bolland (The Killing Joke) responds to Icelandic artist Erro appropriating his Tank Girl work for his own personal gain. - courtesy of Bleeding Cool.

Concept art for the Thor and Captain America movie costumes leaked. - courtesy of Broken Frontier.

Tom Bondurant spends a little time dissecting the Man of Steel. - courtesy of Robot 6/CBR.

And now, for your viewing enjoyment, the first trailer for Marvel vs. Capcom 3. - courtesy of Game Trailers.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What I'm Reading

Here's a quick look at the books that have consumed my free time of late. I highly suggest that you put your hands on all of these books if you haven't already.

Marvel's Cosmic Line: Annihilation through The Thanos Imperative - Launched by Keith Giffen and featuring the talents of such writers and artists as Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Cristos Gage, Brad Walker, etc., Marvel's cosmic universe has been stellar (pun intended) for years. I'm ashamed to admit that I only recently got into the line, but better late than never, right? With an eye to continuity and a penchant for operatic space storytelling, Giffen & DNA have created one of the richest and most appealing comic storylines I've ever read. Everything you've loved about the stories of such authors as Robert Heinlein and shows such as Joss Whedon's Firefly and SyFy's Battlestar Galactica can be found in these books, all of which have led up to the Thanos Imperative which kicked off over the last couple of weeks. If you've got some folding money just burning a hole down your Levi's, there are far worse ways to spend it than this.

Secret Warriors - Jonathan Hickman (and a little bit of Bendis) tells the tale of super-spy Nick Fury still trying to save a world that has abandoned him after the events of Civil War and Secret Invasion. Equal parts adventure story and nasty black ops spy book, Secret Warriors mines the secret history of the Marvel Universe as only a Hickman book can. A book powered by b-list superheroes and Nick Fury's unstoppable grit, Secret Warriors brings the age-old conflict between S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA to its logical and explosive conclusion. A fantastic book from top to bottom, with great storytelling and breathtaking art. If you're not on it, get there, because this book just keeps getting better.

Fantastic Four
- I honestly can't believe I'm writing this. If you'd asked me, even a month ago, what I thought about the Fantastic Four, you would have been met with a detailed rant expressing my general distaste for the group. As a kid, I was an awkward and fatalistic little outcast with little self-esteem and no delusions of grandeur. In the Marvel Universe, I would have had an X sewn firmly into the fabric of my skintight jumpsuit. To that awkward nerd, the X-Men and their ilk always resonated a lot harder than the FF, who seemed to be just too damned perfect for their own good. Despite my interest in all things Kirby, cosmic and crazy, I never could get into the FF. Then Jonathan Hickman threw a monkey wrench right at this ol' head of mine and really shook things up. Hickman's FF aren't a bunch of never-fail do-gooders, they're a real family with real family problems. They seem so much more human, so much more resonant than they ever did to me before. His Reed Richards isn't a perfect, dominant super-genius, but a loving father and conflicted hero, a man who has the power to do anything and is limited only by his desire to remain human. If I didn't like that, then I'd have to stop being a Superman fan as well. Taking what I love about superheroics, Hickman has crafted a Fantastic Four book that recalls friendship, family and the obligation of good people to make hard decisions. In a word, the book is fantastic.

That's what I'm going nuts over lately. How about y'all?