Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thirty In Thirty - Days Four and Five

Sorry I haven't updated the blog in the last couple of days. I'm transitioning from one job to another and bills are piling up fast, so until I can get back on my feet financially, internet is one of those things that I have to skimp on. Right now, skimping means "borrowing" a neighbor's connection. That connection isn't always reliable and for the last couple of days it hasn't worked well at all. Given that I've been busy with training at the new job the last couple of days, I haven't had a lot of time to get to a library or coffee shop to update. Have no fear though, faithful readers, for I have not abandoned the project.

As I mentioned before, I didn't have a lot of time over the last couple of days, so I dialed back the effort to script my own characters and put together a couple of quick established superhero things again. The first is a humorous Green Lantern/Green Arrow story that features an fun cameo at the end of the story. The GL/GA piece is six pages long, for those of you keeping count.

The second story is a one page piece about Robin and his pal, Ace the Bat-Hound. I recently rescued a black lab (with some hound dog in there somewhere too I think) and, given my love of all things Batman, decided to name him Ace. Inspired by his playful mischief (he, much like Batman, cannot be contained by cage or trap), I wrote an eight-panel spread featuring him and the Boy Wonder. The story features Robin (young Tim Drake) searching for his boots which Ace is playfully running around the Batcave with. Like I said, it's just one page, but it's fun and kid-friendly, which I love. Maybe I'll post the script soon.

I'll be back later tonight with some work from today, though technically, with the six-page GA/GL, I'm way ahead of schedule. How is everyone else doing?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thirty In Thirty - Day Three

Well, it only took me two days to decide to do something differently. I did some superhero stuff tonight, but it's my own character, not an established one. The character is called The Poet. I believe I mentioned him here once before, but I'm not certain. The Poet is a hero in the vein of some of the old Charlton characters and is most similar to last night's subject, The Question.

The Poet takes place in post-WWII New York City and is set in and around the emerging "beat" movement. The book mixes elements of magic and two-fisted justice with the historical, artistic and political developments of America in the 1950s. The book also serves as sort of the starting point (with one notable exception that I'll get to later) of the superhero universe that I created recently. You remember, the one populated with all the analogs that I mentioned in my "analog dilemma" post? Anyway, the Poet stories serve as the spine of that universe.

I only got the first page done tonight because, well, I'm exhausted. I start a new job in the morning and it will be the first time in nearly two years that I've had to drag myself up at the crack of dawn in order to get to work on time. For this insomniac, that doesn't sound pleasant. But the job is a good one with the potential to be great and it's a company I've wanted to work for for quite some time. Once I adjust to the schedule, I should have a lot more free time and energy to work on various projects. But tonight...tired.

So one page complete with more to come.

Anybody else have progress to report?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thirty in Thirty - Day Two

Tonight's work is a silent Question story. Anybody who knows me knows that The Question is one of my favorite comic characters of all time. From the earliest Charlton comics, through Denny O'Neil's iconic run, even onto Rick Veitch and 52. So when I decided to do some short superhero scripts for the Thirty In Thirty project, I thought it appropriate that The Question get some attention.

I did things a bit differently tonight than I have done them in the past. The story is three pages (two standard pages and a full page shot) and I thumbnailed it all out before I wrote the script. The thumbnailing process worked pretty well, though it was fairly simple for this comic since it's meant to be silent. I'm interested to try it for a story that actually has dialogue.

I like how this turned out. It's basic, but it's definitely got the right feel for a classic Question story. I love that there are characters out there that are so iconic, that have such natural force, you can tell a story with them in just a few panels and have it resonate immediately with fans. In my world, the Question is definitely one of those characters and I think this story does him justice.

How was everyone's Day Two?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thirty In Thirty - Day One

My first page is done, but it's not great. I think what I'm going to do with my end of the project is try and write a quick, 1-2 page story with established characters. I was extremely inspired by Mark Chiarello's Wednesday Comics project and I'm curious to see if I can do something similar with established characters. I may change my mind about this starting tomorrow, but right now, this is my goal.

Tonight's page (actually, its two pages, four panels and a full page shot) is a Wolverine story. It's the kind of fun, all-ages comic that I'm a big fan of. Not that I can't enjoy the pages of Milligan's Hellblazer or Aaron's Scalped, but anyone who knows me knows that I think superhero comics appropriate for all ages are extremely important to the industry. Sure, some of you are probably thinking, "Wolverine? Safe for kids?" Fanboys know that Wolverine is a cold-blooded killer, but that doesn't stop him being one of the most recognizable characters in comics, complete with his own film franchise. So when it comes to characters that comics writers can utilize to get kids interested in the medium, Wolverine is near the top.

I'm not sure if I'm going to post the script because I'm prouder of the concept than I am the execution. Of course, getting better at the execution is part of the point. I'm going to finish watching Monday Night Football and then I'll probably tweak it a bit and post it in the morning.

What's everybody else working on?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thirty Pages In Thirty Days

I turn thirty in just over a month (October 21st) and to be honest, it's got me a little rattled. I'm not having an early mid-life crisis. You won't see me driving a new sports car or going on a "bro's only" ten day trip to Las Vegas, not that I could afford those things anyway. But to say it's not having a similar effect on me would be a lie.

When I was younger, thirty seemed far enough away that I just assumed I'd have my entire life worked out by then. At twenty-nine, I can safely say I'm nowhere near having everything figured out. Hell, there are days when I don't feel like I have anything worked out at all. Almost a month away from this milestone year and I'm unemployed, broke and at times completely directionless.

When I left high school, I thought I'd be in college for four years and after that I'd just, well, BE a writer. Sure, there'd be hardships, pitfalls along the way, but it was nothing a genius kid from the sticks couldn't handle. It turned out to be a hell of a lot more than I could handle. Or maybe it was just more than I was willing to handle. Let's face it, to know me is to know a picture of ennui. I can be one of the most pessimistic, cynical and, well, lazy people on the planet at times. I get frustrated, I get discouraged, I let myself believe in the worst possible outcome in all situations.

Okay, so, I'm being hard on myself. I'm not always like that, though I am capable of falling into some pretty long stretches of self-doubt and inactivity. Like, say...21-25. That's a pretty long stretch, right? Over the years, I've probably spent as much time talking about being a writer as I have actually writing. That has changed in the last couple of years, as I've taken a more active stance on making this writing for a living thing actually happen, but for years it just seemed like a pipe dream, or, maybe just something I'd get around to eventually. I always wrote, but it was mostly for myself.

A couple of things shook me up lately though. First, a friend told me that the stories in my head weren't for me, that they were for everyone and that I'd be cheating everyone by not allowing them to see these stories. That hit me pretty hard, because its correct. All these notebooks full of worlds that I've built, all these google docs full of half-written pitches and unfinished scripts, what is their purpose? What's a story that never gets told? Worthless, that's what. It's not helping anybody or inspiring anybody just sitting there collecting cobwebs, virtual or not.

The second bit of posterior fire-lighting came from another friend, who essentially told me, while drunk, that I had to shit or get off the pot. He told me, in no uncertain terms, that my pitches are great but that my scripts were not. Not that he was being mean, he was just being honest (maybe a bit more honest because of the inebriation). I have a knack for world-building, but I am still so green that I need to hone my chops. I need to be able to tell a story in this language of comics, and that means scripts that just knock the shit out of an editor and make he or she say, "Yes, grab this guy an artist, pay this man a small sum to do something awesome." Right now, I can speak this language, but I'm not a master of it. Anything less than a mastery means I'm just a fan for the rest of my life.

I'm not okay with that.

So here I am, staring down the barrel of THIRTY YEARS OLD like it's a nickel-plated harbinger of doom. Maybe it's not though. Maybe it's like the Death card in a tarot deck, ominous to be sure, but not necessarily a signifier of bad things to come. So in the interest of appeasing my constructively critical friends and making serious strides toward being the creator I want to be, I've decided to challenge myself.

I've got just slightly more than thirty days before I hit the big 3-0. In that time, I'm going to write thirty pages. Sound easy? Maybe it will be. Maybe it will be frustrating, terrifying and hard. Maybe it will be fun. I'm certain, no matter what, that it will be constructive. The thing about this is, I don't want to do it alone. So I'm not issuing this challenge just to myself, but also to any creator out there, professional or otherwise, that wants to give this a shot.

Here it is: Thirty Pages In Thirty Days

Starting Monday September 13th (I'm aware this is NFL opening weekend and many of you won't pay attention to this at all if I start it tomorrow) I want to see a page a day for thirty straight days. I'm going to be doing this myself and posting my progress here at Surfing the Bleed. If you want to engage in this exercise as well, then you can e-mail me your progress and/or get in touch with me on Facebook or Twitter. Now there are no hard rules here. If you want, you can write thirty one page stories, a la Wednesday Comics. If you feel so inclined, you can right a 22-page one shot and an 8-page back-up. Maybe you're feeling ambitious and you want to write the first thirty pages of your epic graphic novel. Whatever you decide, I want thirty scripted pages before my thirtieth birthday. Consider it a present to me. You all love me, right?


So there's the challenge. Are you up to it? Am I?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jason Latour - Recording the Bleed

I interviewed Daredevil: Black & White contributor Jason Latour at this year's Baltimore Comic-Con. Below are parts one and two. I had to cut the second part a bit abruptly, due to YouTube's upload requirements. It's okay though, all you're missing is us going on about the Big Lebowski and professional wrestling.

Actually, that might have been the best part.

In all seriousness though, Jason was a great guy and he had some fantastic advice for young creators. It's a bit of a haul (twenty minutes?! what?!) but it's well worth it.

Now, without further ado, Jason Latour.

and part two

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Baltimore 2010

My terribly vague recap of the Baltimore Comic-Con, complete with firefighting midget leg retrievers, is up at Broken Frontier.

Baltimore Comic-Con 2010 - The Year We Make Contact...with Desperadoes!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Digital Comics Debate Heats Up!

Video uploading is taking longer than I expected (which is what happens when you are borrowing a crappy Clear Wire connection from a neighbor and are legitimately so broke you can't even afford to go to the coffee shop), but that doesn't mean we don't still have content. Okay, the content is technically borrowed, but hey, you get what you pay for.

A couple of very good editorials advocating the advancement of comics as a digital medium came out today, one from Comics Alliance and the other from Mark Waid via Comic Book Resources. Below are links to each.

Digital distribution and how it evolves is something the entire industry is watching. Expect to see more content about it here, as well as in my column at Broken Frontier, in the coming months.

Comics Alliance

Mark Waid