Saturday, December 29, 2007

Facebook Thought for the day.

Funwall isn't fun, Super Wall isn't super, and neither are actually walls.

I'm beginning to intensely dislike Facebook.

***

I NEED SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP

A

I'm getting real tired of all this insomnia.

TIRED of all this INSOMNIA--get it?

I'm lying in bed at 3:00 in the morning and completely and utterly FAILING TO SLEEP, for the fourth night this week, and that joke actually seemed funny to me for a fleeting moment.

I NEED SLEEP.

A

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

HOLIDAY MEN bits

THE HOLIDAY MEN - bits
It's official--HOLIDAY MEN Season begins January 8 on the Chemistry Set. I'm pretty sure this is the first press release I've done where someone didn't stop me from having fun with it:

The Chemistry Set Online Comics Collective is pleased — well, not pleased, exactly, more like extremely reluctant but they’re doing it anyway, to announce the addition of Andrew Foley and Nick Johnson’s comic THE HOLIDAY MEN to the site’s regular features.

ChemSet co-founder Vito Delsante tried to explain the situation. “I don’t really know how it happened. I was just having a drink–a Pepsi, it wasn’t even liquor!–and the next thing I know I’m in a cheap hotel room with a dead hooker and there’s Andrew and Nick telling me they’ll take care of everything if I’ll just convince the other ChemSetters to let them join. No one’s found the body, yet, so,” said Delsante, stifling a shudder, “They’re in.”

THE HOLIDAY MEN chronicles the ongoing conflict between twisted versions of holiday icons and global economic superpower O’Mega-Mart. Described by Johnson as “a subtly nuanced, satirical critique of consumer culture,” and “a haphazard collection of ridiculously violent fight scenes” by Foley, THE HOLIDAY MEN is the first collaboration between the two talented, handsome, and modest creators.

An elderly curmudgeon since the age of 12, Foley graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design’s drawing program, ran his own painting studio, and successfully evaded his creditors for several years in the ’90s, before deciding to focus his creative efforts on writing. In addition to the independently produced comic books PARTING WAYS and DONE TO DEATH, he’s been paid to write more than a dozen graphic novels that haven’t been published, and a couple that have.

In addition to being a founding member of Calgary’s Vicious Ambitious Studios, Nick Johnson’s hobbies include juggling, animal husbandry, and lingerie modeling. An artistic wunderkind who drew his first comic prior to leaving his mother’s womb, he started selling minicomics to earn beer money at the age of fourteen.

Writer and artist first met in 2000 when Foley attempted to dispose of the pizza box Johnson lived in at the time. Said Foley, “Looking at the frankly disturbing images Nick had scrawled on the side of the box, I realized I’d just stumbled onto an amazing creative talent and immediately planned to ruthlessly exploit him to the best of my ability. Now, with THE HOLIDAY MEN, I finally get the chance.”

In addition to giving Chemistry Set’s audience a rollicking good time, THE HOLIDAY MEN also offers invaluable services to its corporate clients. Foley claims that, “Sponsoring a HOLIDAY MEN panel is a great way to bring your message to ‘the kids.’ You give us money and we give you access to the free webcomic-reading demographic every company’s dying to reach. Being part of this project will lend your business instant ’street cred.’ Rather than seeing you as a dust-covered dinosaur on the brink of extinction, partnering with THE HOLIDAY MEN will convince young people you’re ‘radical to the extreme!’” Anyone interested in becoming a HOLIDAY MEN sponsor is encouraged to send an e-mail with “Sponsorship” in the Subject Header to OMegaMart@Gmail.com.

THE HOLIDAY MEN’s first episode, “The Massacre Memorial Day Sale Massacre”, will appear in serialized installments every Tuesday on chemsetcomics.com, starting January 8. “We’ve still got good stuff like Dwight McPherson’s SURREAL ADVENTURES OF EDGAR ALLAN POO and Andrew Drilon’s KARE-KARE KOMIKS appearing on other days,” said Delsante, trying to reassure himself as much as anyone else.

The Chemistry Set is a destination for webcomics in a variety of styles from a variety of up & coming and established talent. Founded in 2006, The Chemistry Set’s membership boasts three Xeric Award winners and a combined bibliography including work for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Random House, Image Comics, SLG Publishing, Markosia and many others. Visit The Chemistry Set at www.chemsetcomics.com

***

"Robert" commented on O'Mega-Mart's Holiday message posted on the Set, taking offence that O-Mart had failed to mention Christmas. I wrote OMegaMart@Gmail.com and got the following in reply:

Dear O’Mega-Mart Customer,

Thank you for contacting O’Mega-Mart’s Customer Relations Department. While we don’t want to encourage such behavior, we appreciate you taking the time to have thoughts of your own, and even for sharing them with us.

O’Mega-Mart would like to apologize for offending you by refraining to use “Christmas” in our annual Holiday Greeting. As you are likely aware, the O’Mega family are strong believers in the Christian faith—their luxury underground bunker on the O’Mega Estate has a fully-stocked 200 seat chapel ready to go in the unlikely event that they are not swept up with the rest of the righteous during the Rapture. Hopefully knowing this will help you appreciate that the O’Mega Family shares your indignation with its employees’ failure to highlight the celebration of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ in an appropriate manner.

In defense of the employees in question, prior to their termination, numerous studies indicated that a substantial portion of O’Mega-Mart’s customer base did not respond favorably to religion-specific holiday messages (unless those messages were specific to their religion.) A choice had to be made between the O’Megas’ deeply-held religious convictions and the desire to profit from people who are doomed to an eternity in the Lake of Fire. Ultimately, we had to do what was right by our shareholders; hence the generic holiday message. Only time and Our Lord Jesus Christ will tell us whether we chose correctly.

As you clearly have an interest in O’Mega-Mart-related affairs, we have taken the liberty of adding your e-mail address to our O’Mega-Mart Customer Update mailing list. If you don’t wish to receive alerts regarding the latest bargains available at your local O’Mega-Mart, please go to chemsetcomics.com on January 8 and follow the instructions there to remove your address from our list, or send an e-mail to this address with the “I don’t want your XXXXing Spam” in the subject header.

Yours truly,
The O’Mega-Mart Customer Relations Dep’t.
_____________________________________________
O’Mega-Mart: Serving all your consumer needs. Or else.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

WANTED.

O'Mega-Mart: Serving all your consumer needs. Or else.
OMegaMart@Gmail.com

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Alter Ego

Over at Zeros 2 Heroes, a site I seem to have developed an unhealthy obsession with, someone asked people to describe the superpowered alter egos they would have if they had superpowered alter egos, in terms of Hero/Villain?, Name, Costume, Origin, and Quirks and facts.

I don't think what I provided was quite what they had in mind, but it amused me, so here it is:

Hero/villain: Probably a villain, but he wouldn't do anything actually criminal. He'd just not be the kind of person a superhero would want to hang around with.

Name: The Bummer.

Costume: A large, food-stained nightshirt with pajama pants and slippers, holes with socks around them. And a domino mask.

Origin: One day Andrew realized it wasn't just his generally bleak outlook that brought other people down, but his mere presence. Maybe it was pheremones, maybe it was the withering sarcasm, maybe it was the general ennui he carried with him every waking moment, but no optimism could be exposed to him for more than a couple minutes before withering and dying. Misery Loves Company, so The Bummer sallied forth from his Hidden Lair (carefully disguised as his bedroom) and began to spread dark thoughts and despair wherever he went.

Quirks and facts: Ironically, The Bummer actually has a superhuman sense of humour. He can find something to laugh at in almost every situation, no matter how inappropriate. His funeral will be the second most entertaining event he's ever coordinated.

A

O'Mega-Mart: Serving all your consumer needs. Or else.
OMegaMart@Gmail.com

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Bad Guys

I'm not entirely sure where my path to writing comics started, but I know it wound through roleplaying game territory for a good number of years. Running campaigns was where I started getting a sense of what made for a good story. It was also where I started to realize that many players weren't as concerned about telling a good story as I was, and given half a chance, would do exactly the exact opposite of what the story, and even the basic natures of the characters they were playing, called for. Frustrated that the stories I wanted to tell weren't being told, I started writing them for different media. The moment I decided to focus on writing as a prospective career was the same second I started sucking as a GM.

One CHAMPIONS campaign I played in (rather than ran), the player characters, through a mixture of our own ill-thought out actions and dealing with a GM and villains who were smarter than we were, began being perceived by the public (in the game) as villains. (Actually, we may have been perceived as villains by the real public, too--I think that was the campaign when the cops knocked on the door because someone had heard one of us screaming we were going to kill someone else) (We always leaned towards the LARPS end of the gaming, rather than the dice-rolling.)

As I said, this was partly our fault. A couple of us, including myself, were playing characters who didn't care what people thought of them. A couple others weren't playing their characters that well and some NPCs ended up dying. In most cases, they deserved it, but still, it's one thing for Wolverine to kill someone, and another altogether for Jubilee to rip someone's arms off.

One session we had a guest player show up, a friend of the GM. And his character was Joe Superhero, very straightlaced. The first thing he heard when he encountered our characters was me saying to the group, "Someone ratted us out." The first thing he saw was the guy who'd publicly torn a supervillain (who wasn't necessarily identified as a supervillain) into little bits and pieces.

So the new guy decided we were villains and the session basically devolved into a huge fight between player characters who thought of themselves as heroes, and another player character who looked at us as villains.

This was a perfectly reasonable development, and led to some nice roleplaying, but it really upset one of the players, the guy who'd ripped the supervillain apart. He didn't understand why the new guy was treating us a villains. "Why's he being like this?" he said. "We're supposed to be the good guys!"

I thought about this for a moment, and then, in character, replied, "Then we should probably act more like the good guys."

I suspect someone figuring that out was why the GM put us in that situation with his buddy in the first place--I know he wasn't terribly happy with the "heroism" of the player characters.

All of this came back to me when I checked out the official website of the AMPTP (the coalition of Big Media who drove the Writers Guild to strike), which is trying to present the group as the good guys while acting like...something else.

It's not nearly as funny as AMPTP.com (which the AMPTP managed to let fall into the hands of a group of very funny, if bitter, writers.)

***

STRIKE A POST

Posting will be light over the next couple weeks. I'm in my annual Christmas Depression, and have other things I need to be doing, some of which I actually WANT to do.

So, to the three of you who still read this thing, have a Merry Christmas or Equivalent Holiday of Your Choice, a Happy New Year, and a reasonably pleasant rest of the week.

***

SWEENEY TODD

I don't really need to be able to hear things. I'm sure the other four senses will tide me over.

Very stylish film, though I can't make any sense of what they're thinking releasing it at Christmas. It's no Edward Scissorhands, and thank God for that.

I have no affinity for the musical genre. None whatsoever.

Still. I could've done worse things on the Wednesday night before Christmas, and all of them would've likely cost more than the free pass T and I got to the preview. So, no complaints. Other than the volume.

I am a delicate flower.

Foley

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More Rambling.

DOMESTIC BLISS, FOLEY STYLE

Tiina: Do you love me?

Andrew: Of course I do.

T: Really? You aren't just saying that because I'll beat you up if you don't, are you?

T and I have conversations like this ALL THE TIME.

***

BEST-LAID PLANS

A day had passed and the traps I'd laid in my office and the bathroom had caught no poop machines. My plan clearly wasn't working. My first idea: continue the failed plan, only commit more resources to it. A Trap Surge would surely solve the problem.

My second solution, seeing as new mouse poop had materialized on my desk and there was no place to buy traps at midnight, at least not that I was willing to venture out into the cold to go to, was to slather more peanut butter on the existing traps. It wasn't much of a plan, but it'd make me feel better, like I was being proactive in the face of difficulties.

Fifteen minutes later, I wandered into my office, and discovered a dead mouse in the trap next to my desk. And I've got to say, my reaction wasn't what I'd expected. It's one thing to pick up a mouse carcas that Jewel (who steadfastly refuses to lift a paw to fend off the current invasion of vermin) has gotten tired of playing with. It's another thing altogether to realize that this animal died because you arranged to kill it.

Mildly depressed, I disposed of the body outside and came back upstairs. Started writing a blog post, because that's what I do when I'm down. Got about three words into it when there was an audible SNAP! from the bathroom...

...accompanied by a pathetic squealing. The trap had slammed down on the mouse's body, rather than its neck--it was pinned, terrified, and squee-squee-squealing in pain. And I thought finding a dead mouse was as bad as my night would get...y'know, I could've gone my entire life without knowing what colour the contents of a mouse skull are.

I disposed of the second mouse, sprayed the traps down with bleach. Waited a couple days, debating whether the effect the traps working had on my emotional well-being was worth setting them again.

Found another turd on my desk later that night. Now that I know what they look like, I'm seeing them everywhere (even places they probably aren't--the animals are always dragging stuff in from outside--that speck could be a mouse dropping, or it could just be some random dirt Data tracked in...). I took a deep breath, smeared the pedals with more peanut butter, and set the traps again.

That was a couple nights ago. The traps haven't caught any more mice. Not sure why--maybe they can smell the bleach, maybe they aren't dumb enough to venture into those places other mice went and never returned from. I think I'm actually happier this way--I get the satisfaction of feeling like I'm doing something about the problem, but don't have to deal with the guilt I feel for snuffing out the lives of what are, in the grand scheme of things, fairly inoffensive creatures.

And I'll continue to be happier with this situation, right up until I find new poop on my desk.

***

BETWEEN THE CRACKS

The Chemistry Set is the subject of the Second Interstitial Arts Foundation (Online) Salon. There are only nine words in the preceding sentence that I'm sure I understand. There hasn't been a lot of posting yet (the salon's going till the fifteenth), at least some of what has been posted has flown so far over my head it didn't even part my hair, but it's an interesting conversation, nonetheless, esp. if you've got an interest in disparate arts, media, and genres. And semantics, which seem to have become terribly important to me, somewhere along the line.

Foley

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

MelanFoley Ramblydamblings

After two years not seeing the guy, I finally managed to get in to see the ear nose and throat specialist last Thursday. I could've gone a few months ago, but I wanted to see him when I was in maximum discomfort, sinus-wise, which meant postponing till the dead of winter.

Two days prior to the appointment I was in as much pain as I had been since the infection over the summer--I was almost certain it had returned. Spent a whole day waiting for something sticky, vile and yellow to drain down the back of my throat. Never happened.

Of course, when Thursday and my appointment rolled around, I awoke to the least headachy day I'd had since Hallowe'en. But the appointment was made, so in I went.

The device I call the Footcam (due to it feeling like someone is shoving a foot up your nose into your forehead) wasn't as uncomfortable as my previous visit. However, if there's ever a time NOT to sneeze, it's when someone's got a miniature camera shoved in behind your face, uncomfortably close to your brain. Word to the wise...

Apparently I've got some discharge in my right cheek sinus cavity. I'd have mentioned this sooner, but it took me three days to remember the proper term. I kept on wanting to call the discharge "emissions" even though nothing of note had actually emitted, at least not that I've noticed. Anyway, the ENT guy's scheduling me and my discharging sinuses for a CATscan, which I gather is one of the more detailed x-rays available. If that's right, I figure this should pretty much kill any viable sperm I had left after the myriad other x-rays I've had taken in the last ten years. On the upside, it's nice to have some independent confirmation that I'm actually feeling noticeably worse this winter than previous ones (which weren't exactly loads of fun themselves.)

***

WORDS FAIL ME. THEY MUST BE PUNISHED

Discharge is just the latest word I've lost, lately. It seems to be happening with greater, almosst worrying frequency. I lay in bed for two hours one night last week desperately trying to recall what Prozac is called.

***

WHO MANAGES THE MANAGERS?

Talked to Hollywood Manager for a solid hour on Monday. It's pretty clear nothing major is going to happen until the strike is resolved, but that doesn't mean nothing's happening. Just nothing that's going to help pay any bills any time soon. Which is frustrating, worrisome, and frustratingly worrisome. And typical.

Tomorrow I'll be bugging Publishing Manager about what he's done for me lately. THE SPOOKY KIDS has been rejected at four places now, but that still leaves an awful lot of publishers we're waiting to hear back from. He's supposed to be following up with editors this week. Hopefully there'll be some good news out of that, but I'll believe it when I hear it.

***

NO HOLIDAY

In the meantime, work on THE HOLIDAY MEN progresses, with artist Nick Johnson knocking it out of the park. Some sort of announcement should be made soon, hopefully prior to Christmas. Before it comes out, I want to make sure we've got enough in the can to maintain the schedule we promise.

***

DO THE WRITE THING

Speaking of The H-Men, I find myself on the horns of a dilemma. I've got an idea for something I want to do--am actually definitely going to do, provided Nick sticks around long enough. I'm just not sure when to do it. It's an idea that I find quite funny, which is why I'm going to do it. But it's also a double-edged sword, and both edges could well end up aimed squarely at my and Nick's throats. The idea alone is all but certain to offend someone; if it's executed right, it should offend almost EVERYone. And get us a lot of attention because of it.

Which isn't why I'm going to do it. If we did get attention (at least some of which would likely be in the form of death threats), that would just be a nice side effect of pursuing a particularly silly idea to its satisfyingly ridiculous conclusion. That said, after having PARTING WAYS and D2D go practically unnoticed, and C&A getting attention for things I had nothing to do with, it'd be nice to know someone out there is actually reading my stuff, even if they're only doing it to collect evidence they can present in their defence at the murder trial. As a result of my desperate need for attention, it's difficult for me to resist the temptation to do this particular story early on in the strip's life.

BUT.

This story is, in a lot of ways, the ultimate Holiday Men tale. It's the essence of what's going to make the standard H-Men episode, taken to the logical extreme. When this is done, there's really nowhere else for the Holidays to go, storywise. Nowhere but down, anyway.

In writing this, I realize this story will have to wait, possibly a long time (I've got a lot of ideas for H-Men stories, and more pop up all the time). When it gets done, there's only one other story that can happen after it, and it won't be as silly, pointed, or inflammmatory--it's just the story on which the series must end. This idea of mine will have to be the second-last H-Men episode, written after I've exhausted all the other entertaining but lesser (less funny, less offensive) variations on the H-Men's themes. The Story requires this trigger not be pulled before its time.

Sigh. I hate the Story, sometimes.

Foley

Thursday, December 6, 2007

So that's the way you want to play it, huh?

Dear Mouse/Mice who've been lurking in the upstairs area of my house,

You creeped me out that one time by doing your pervy little peeping tom thing while I was on the toilet, but, you know, I could've let it slide. Really, I could. I was happy to let this go for as long as you could avoid the cats. And let's face it, given the stellar job annihilating your cute furry butts the cats AREN'T doing lately, that could've been a good long time, especially in mouse year.

What I'm trying to say is, it didn't have to come to this. I didn't sit down in my office planning to buy a bunch of traps which I'll smear with peanut butter and put in corners where the cats hopefully won't get at them (hardly likely, considering their ambition lately), which you'll come sniffing around and have your life come to an abrupt end. I'm a live and let live kind of guy, normally.

But dude(s).

You pooped on my desk. And for that you must pay.

What happens this weekend is on your head(s). And probably part of your spine(s).

Andrew

PS: Yes, I realize now you've probably been pooping on my desk for weeks. I'm not exactly an expert in vermin scat, you know (though apparently my wife is, as she's the one who pointed out what I thought were a couple loose grape seeds...weren't.) That's beside the point. I KNOW NOW. And my wrath shall fall upon you like a piece of metal snapping down in the dark, shattering your spine.

PPS: I EAT STUFF ON MY DESK. It's on plates, but still. Ew.

Monday, December 3, 2007

ALPHA MAIL

An example of Angry Andrew's thought process, from an e-mail I just sent over to a collaborator:

"To say I am Displeased with XXXXX at the moment doesn't really cover it. I'm on the edge of considering the possibility of maybe doing something rash."

OOoooOOOooo...I'm SCARY.
Link
On other e-mail related news, I've started receiving messages from Grant Morrison DOOM PATROL characters. Here's an example of what one of them sent me:

"retain snare koinonia bluet tooth ehrlich twenty judson shell usable rook chang
prague plato lufthansa usable twenty snare repetitious
strident ghoul fractionate chang usable admix slovenia clean wit strident
rosenberg josephson ghoul"

I reread this particular passage several times while suffering a bout of insomnia in the wee hours this mornig. There was a brief period, between 3:50 and 3:54 AM where it actually made sense. Then God showed up, gave Data a key-shaped chicken bone and told me if I knew what was good for me I'd forget everything I 'd just read.

***

VICTORY IS THEIRS!

Man, I'm congratulating a lot of people lately, but what the heck, they deserve it and it's not like anyone actually reads this thing. First up, my buddy Scott O. Brown has won the first round of DC's Zuda Comics competition. Lettered by SOB, written by David Gallaher, and drawn by Steve Ellis, HIGH MOON is apparently a pretty good western werewolf webcomic that I guess I'll have to read now (my friend is the LETTERER on this one, OK? It's not like I didn't have his back when he was actually writing something {like Platinum Studios' ATLANTIS RISING, available online at DrunkDuck.com with the first issue currently on the shelves, for instance.}) (Did I mention SOB and I have gotten the rights to THREADS back? Coz we have. Which is cool.)

Also on the Andrew's e-Handshake List this morning is Dwight McPherson, Kevin Conley, and Worth Gowel, whose KID HOUDINI & THE SILVER DOLLAR MISFITS, currently being serialized at The Chemistry Set has found a publisher.

At this rate, I may have to get on-board this webcomics thing myself.

***

WORK IS FOR THOSE WHO DON'T HAVE ANYTHING BETTER TO DO

Finally got the outline for MERLYN COMPANY in fighting shape, and I don't care how crappy you're feeling, 3,000 words shouldn't take more than a week to write. But it's done now and I can hopefully move on to other projects with a more reasonable chance of getting somewhere than a five volume trade paperback series with no artist attached.

The first three pages of the first HOLIDAY MEN episode are almost complete, and all I had to do to get them finished was ruin my marriage by constantly asking Tiina to make little, niggling changes. She says she doesn't mind, but I'm not sure I believe her. There were a few moments there when I wanted to punch me in the throat, I can't imagine her not feeling the same way...On the upside, the pages and lettering look amazing (in my humble opinion). I can't wait to inflic--sorry, I mean unveil this project to the world...

Another person who probably wanted to reach a few thousand kilometres across Canada and throttle me last week is John Keane, who had to deal with the same sort of nitpickery T did on the BadBoy proposal, which is now done and off to the people who can hopefully do something with it faster than we could on our own.

This week, I've absolutely got to get the SOULMAKER pitch polished for The Pack, and send The Future of Comics (I) Fiona Staples some feedback on the story for what may well be the first major comic work she writes as well as draws. Reading the story was more than a little depressing, as I quickly realized a) she doesn't really need me, in an capacity, and b) she's got more quirky, cool visual ideas in her pinky finger than I will ever have in my entire life. Why she hasn't been picked up by a major company already will always mystify me. (Well, not really, but the shortsightedness of NOT signing her up for something major baffles me.)

Also, a couple blog posts, including, when I'm able to think of it without bursting into tears, a description of my weekend journey through Hell (AKA The Shoe Company).

Good night.

I mean afternoon. Ehhhh....so it's going to be one of THOSE days...

Foley

Friday, November 30, 2007

It's the little things that get you.

All was right with the world. There I was, sitting on the toilet, enjoying a passage from Terry Pratchett’s latest novel, MAKING MONEY, not at all worried about the shady publisher who’s managed to miss his deadline for paying what he owes me YET AGAIN, or the bills that are going unpaid because of it, or how much the American cheque is actually going to be worth if/when I actually get it as opposed to how much it would’ve got me if it arrived when it was supposed to…None of that is bothering me (then. Writing this has managed to piss me off all over again.)

I’m as serene as I am ever likely to get until/unless I (or Tiina) somehow become fabulously wealthy, I’m calm, I’m at peace…

I’m being watched.

Crouched behind the bathroom garbage bin is a teensy little brown mouse--well, more grey, but you get the point. It’s staring at me with its quivering nose (I know how that sounds, but I swear, it was staring at me WITH ITS NOSE) and it’s one of the top ten cutest things I’ve ever seen.

And it’s creeping me the hell out.

Something about the proximity of this probably mostly harmless disease-carrying vermin really unnerves me. This is worse than the kid I saw smoking crack on the street corner just beyond the wall of trees that protects our front yard. This is worse than the discovery that someone had actually set up a makeshift home in a nook of one of our protective wall trees, complete with a dumbwaiter-y plant bucket on a chain. This is even worse than the guy who tried to talk his way into the house before running away when the police pulled up behind his friends’ car.

This is a cute, inhuman little monster watching me, uh, read.

I want it dead. No, for my own peace of mind, I NEED to know its life has met a premature but definite conclusion. I need it.

Throwing Jewel into the bathroom for a half an hour did not yield the desired results. She’s a cat, and she kills according to her own schedule.

So now, at the back of my mind, there’s this oppressive, inescapable awareness. There is a THING is scurrying around my home, sleeping in my clothes, eating my food, and using my pots and pans as a toilet (probably).

Ewwww…

Foley

Monday, November 26, 2007

Congratulations to Andrew Drilon

This past weekend, the Chemistry Set's Andrew Drilon, creator of Kare-Kare Komics, won what was effectively the top prize in the Second Annual Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards. He also got to kiss Neil Gaiman, which seems to be rapidly becoming the Thing To Do When Onstage with Neil Gaiman at An Awards Ceremony...

Drilon's the most prolific, certainly the most idiosyncratic creator distributing work via the Chemistry Set (which is saying something. With stories like THE SURREAL ADVENTURES OF EDGAR ALLAN POO and THREADS OF RED JACK being serialized on it, the Set's not exactly lacking in idiosyncratic creators...). Well worth checking out.

Foley

Take My Wife. Please.

TIINA: So, do you want to shovel the sidewalks, or should I do it?

ANDREW: You can do it.

Subtext-laden pause. Then:

T: Let me rephrase that: When are you going to shovel the sidewalks?

Foley

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A QUESTION OF DEGREE



Doug petulantly refused to accept what was obvious to the rest of us. “It wasn’t that bad,” he said yet again.

Jay, still hunched over, looked up at him, scowling. “I threw up.”

“You didn’t really,” said Doug.

“Dude!” said Jay, gesturing at the small puddle of vomit seeping into the dirt at his feet.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Doug insisted.

“It MADE ME THROW UP,” said Jay.

Eventually, Doug admitted the fart had been pretty bad.

Foley

Friday, November 23, 2007

Newsarama asked a bunch of professional comic creators (and me!) for comic-related Christmas gift ideas.

***

MAILBAG

From an artist collaborator's e-mail today:

"Comments for page 6:
-fuck guns
-fuck vans
-fuck perspective"

Coincidentally, these are three of the many things that convinced me I'd be much better off writing comics than attempting to draw them.

***

MOOD SWINGS

A strange thing's been happening to me, lately--I've been getting really worked up over interactions with some folks online. Maybe I'm getting older, maybe I'm starting to feel like there's nothing to lose, but on a couple occasions in the last couple weeks I've come dangerously close to cutting loose on a couple of people who managed to get under my skin on messageboards and/or blogs.

I don't think I actually did cut loose, and I don't believe my comments (the ones I posted publicly, anyway) came anywhere near the level of asinine behaviour characteristic of those I was commenting on.

Still...getting angry with people online does not speak well to my mental state, I fear. I've cut back substantially on my participation with one messageboard, and, if I can't calm myself down, am probably going to have to stop going to another site (which turns out to be the online equivalent of crack, at least for one with my peculiar tastes).

***

THE HOLIDAY MEN...

Soon. Soon.

Foley

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lines I Will Never Open A Story With #29

"In the beginning, there was The Word" or any variations of same.

An exception might, might be made if it turns out The Word is "flatulence."

I hope any Americans who happen to read this have a happy Thanksgiving, and everyone else who reads it has a decent Thursday.

Good night.

Foley

Sunday, November 18, 2007

BONE BAG

I used to be a professional painter. Nine years ago, when that stopped being an option, I don’t think there was a neighbourhood in Calgary that didn’t have a building I’d painted part of in it.

Painting is largely responsible for my perspective on what constitutes hard work. Standing on top of a fully extended thirty-two foot ladder in the blazing sun for 10 hours a day is hard work. Writing is not hard work. And thinking about what I’m going to write--which is a lot of my personal work process--doesn’t qualify as work at all in my book.

Which is one of the major reasons I like my “job.”

This attitude’s gotten me in some hot water with other writers, from time to time. They claim writing is hard work, and argue that they never stop working, because they never stop thinking about writing.

And there’s something to that. No matter what happens, some part of my mind is always picking events apart, recording (consciously or otherwise) speech patterns and pieces of dialogue…it’s all grist for the mill. But still. In my book, anything you can do while walking the dog doesn’t count as work. And anything you can do without breaking a sweat doesn’t count as hard.

There’s a big difference between a goal you can think your way to achieving and one that can only be reached by the application of physical effort, but off the top of my head, the English language doesn’t offer much in the way of distinguishing between the different kinds of effort…

Anyway.

I actually used to like the physical act of painting, at least certain parts of it. Rolling walls and spraying fences can have an almost meditative quality. Once you find the right rhythm, your mind can wander where it wants; hand and eye take care of the rest. There’s a certain satisfaction that comes from cutting a straight line freehand across an uneven drywall job with a good brush (I still like Purdys. They’re pricy, but they’ll take care of you.)

Which is why it’s slightly depressing that, even when I’m working at my own pace (as I was on the room that now serves as my office when I decided to paint it bright yellow), painting’s always work for me, these days. And when I’m working to the best of my current ability, as I was at Happy Harbor Volume 3 for a few scant hours last week, it’s hard work.

Part of me can’t help but think it shouldn’t be, a big part. Three hours rolling some walls should not leave me semi-paralyzed the next day, no matter how crappy the pole I was using was (it may be a poor workman who blames his tools, but it’s also a poor workman who doesn’t use the right tool for the job.) For that matter, three hours rolling walls shouldn’t leave me dizzy, lightheaded and wanting to throw up. But it did. Did it ever.

That same part of me also thinks my knees shouldn’t be flaring with pain when I hit the stairs from the office to the kitchen the day after I lugged some boxes of new stock for the store up the back stairs of HHV1. Or that my back should give me any kind of grief whatsoever after a few hours sitting behind a cash register Thursday evenings.

My body doesn’t seem to care what that part of me thinks.

I always told myself I’d age gracefully. Hell, I look forward to being a crotchety old man. I’ve had my Dirty Old Guy laugh ready to go since my second year of college (it’s based loosely on the laugh of one of my old painting teachers).

But I’ve got to say, if this is what aging is going to be like…well, it kinda sucks.

Maybe I’m not getting old. Maybe I’ve just got a cold. Or the yo-yoing weather’s messing with my equilibrium as much as it is my sinuses.

Yeah. I like that better. Let’s go with that.

Foley

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Anyone got a little morphine to spare?

Or, alternatively, a way to freebase codeine out of Tylenol-3 pills?

***

THE HOLIDAY MEN

Nick Johnson is making me look really good.

***

MASTER OF THE HOUSE

Looks like it will be rocketing forward in April or May, with The Future of Comics (I) Fiona Staples giving pretty much a full month over to working on it. That should make for a nice, hefty proposal...

***

READING

I haven't gotten to do a live reading since WordFest in 2006. Mind you, I hadn't actually done one (to a non-writers group audience) prior to WordFest, so you wouldn't think that would be a big deal. However, I actually enjoyed the WF readings and want to do more. Looks like I may have an opportunity to break out the PowerPoint in January.

***

WHAT WAS THAT GUY'S NAME AGAIN?

T dragged my near-lifeless carcas to a 3-D IMax screening of the Neil Gaiman/Roger Avary-penned Robert Zemeckis CGI film BEOWULF last night. After twenty or so minutes of relentless 3-d effects, the nausea became tolerable, though I still had to have my hands over my ears for a lot of the big fight scenes. I have become a delicate flower in my old age. A heavy, tired, achy, illness-ridden, grumpy delicate flower.

Mixed emotions on the film itself. The writing was solid enough--I choose to believe Gaiman contributed the mythological revisionism that made the story sufficiently its own thing to be worth telling yet again, while Avary was responsible for most of the sophomoric humour. Apparently 5th Century Denmark was like High School, only with more alcohol and slightly less swordplay (I played a lot of D&D in high school.) Also, the whole "conveniently placed piece of scenery that obscures genitals thing is played out. If comics hadn't done it in, Austin Powers certainly did.

Not sure what it really gained from the animation approach that it couldn't have had in its original (acccording to Wikipedia) 20-30 million dollar live-action form. Hell, if Dave McKean could get MirrorMask made for less than ten million, there's no reason this couldn't have been done in a similar fashion, other than Zemeckis wanting to play with his new digital toys. There's no real harm in that, I suppose, unless of course it leads to a JarJar Binks character down the road.

Funnily enough, for me the most sympathetic character in the whole film was actually Grendel, who I personally sympathize with in ways that I don't think I want to examine in great depth...

If this bombs, I can easily see it becoming a midnight classic in the vein of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Or, at minimum, a drinking game. Every time someone says Beowulf's name, take a drink; every time Beowulf bellows his name, make it a double...when everyone's completely soused, they can have an "I AM BEOWULF!"/"THIS IS SPARTA!" shout-off.

T chose to interpret the ending of the film as Denmark being ruled by a couple of lesbians. I think that's a bit of a reach.

Angelina Jolie's character in Beowulf looks like the Ultron from the first six issues of Bendis/Cho's MIGHTY AVENGERS, only with a gold sheen instead of silver and a pony-tail that turns into an iguana tail.

Oh, and the dragon's head at the end looks an awful lot like the American version of Godzilla's. At least this one actually breathed fire.

***

I HAVE A BURNING DESIRE TO GO TO MEXICO

This is odd, as I've never, ever had a burning desire to go anywhere particularly hot.

Foley

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Is It Possible for a Head to Tread Water?

Because mine isn't exactly swimming, but it's not on solid ground, either...

Been feeling sick most of the week. Back of the throat's sore, I've got that "axe in my face" feeling that characterized the sinus infection a few months back, and my body's achy.

I could deal with all of that--it's almost par for the course, for me in an Edmonton November. So this afternoon I went to Happy Harbor Volume 3 to do a little painting. And by little I mean LITTLE. Rolled primer on most of the upstairs, started cutting and that's around the time the room started to shrink and I almost fell down. Fortunately, there was a door frame handy to prevent me from doing an out of control face plant, but still...

After driving about halfway home, I realized what my problem was with the traffic--my eyes kept wanting to go out of focus and see double. It's a weird experience, consciously forcing your eyes to focus every few seconds. And distracting. I think I might've technically driven better if I'd just let the focus go, picked the version of traffic that looked most welcoming, and ran with it.

***

WORK

Almost got MERLYN COMPANY figured out. Started scripting a few days ago, and the holes left in the plotting I'd done started filling themselves. I love it when that happens. Still one major story element that needs to be worked out, but it's started, now.

Nick Johnson's gotten the first two pages of art for THE HOLIDAY MEN done done done, and they are gorgeous. Tiina's taking a shot at lettering, to hopefully help Nick pick up speed. Things aren't coming together as fast as anyone had hoped, but when they do fall into place I think we're going to have something special. I can't wait for the press release to go out--it's the kind of thing I've tried to write repeatedly over the years and had someone above me balk and go, No, let's do something that doesn't make a mockery of the idea of press releases. But nobody's going to stop this one from going out. Whether it gets picked up remains to be seen...

***

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/magazine/11wwln-cowboys-t.html?ref=magazine

Fantagraphics founder Gary Groth called COWBOYS & ALIENS "undistinguished pap." For some reason, this has actually improved my mood.

Casting a wider net, Toronto comic shop The Beguiling's Chris Butcher says he has yet to see a Platinum project that didn't feel like a pitch. It's not likely he's going to come across many that don't any time soon--high-concept material suitable for exploitation in other media is pretty much the model Platinum's built on, after all. Off the top of my head, I'd say the Platinum projects that at least SEEM most driven by the creators executing them are HERO BY NIGHT (the writer/artist of which was given extraordinary creative latitude by Platinum's standards of the time) and WEIRD ADVENTURES IN UNEMPLOYMENT. That this can be said of the last example is more than a little ironic, as it's actually being done by someone other than the strip's originator. But it's also one that at least feels as though the creator's being left more or less to his own devices, and is producing an idiosyncratic webcomic as a result.

That isn't to say the webcomic is better than the original version--I don't think it is. But, as the one-time editor of that original version and staunch supporter of the artist who drew it, John Keane, I'm obviously more than a little biased.

Good night (hopefully.)

A

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

R&R

Quick notes from someone who has almost nothing to do and yet is still having trouble finding time to do it:

Thanks to everyone for the anniversary well-wishing. Much appreciated.

T and I spent a very nice weekend in Calgary, thanks to Mum, Dad, and numerous friends and acquaintances. It's sad that I've got more friends in Calgary than Edmonton. Or it would be if I liked being around people more than I generally do.

***

The only thing that could've made the weekend better would've been my being conscious. Bouts of insomnia hit me almost every day last week, including Friday night. Finally started catching up on sleep Saturday night and have been in a coma pretty much since I got home.

I still love sleep.

***

Some people in Calgary noticed that I hadn't continued my dissection of Zeros 2 Heroes and asked why. There are a number of reasons, not the least of which is, someone else actually wrote the post I was going to do prior to my doing it. I did a short version of the post and put it up at my Z2H blog, where I've also been inflicting my wisdom on the would-be creators who hang out there (it was something to do when I couldn't sleep). That doesn't really seem like something that'd be of interest to most of the people I know who're reading the non-Z2H blogs, but if someone's actually interested in my Z2H-specific blathering, let me know and I'll either post it or link to it.

***

Three Great Things about Calgary: The Ship & Anchor's Ship Burger with the works (plus guacamole), my parents, my parents' shower. I love that thing. It carves five pounds off your body every time you step into the blast of water it produces.

***

The Greatest Garment Devised By Man: An oversized (size 4XL) night shirt. I need to get me many, many more of these.

***

Tiina celebrated Hallowe'en by buying enough candy to put my into hypoglycemic shock just by looking at it, decorating the yard, and giving kids gift baskets and, occasionally, copies of Parting Ways (the latter going only to the older kids.) I celebrated Hallowe'en by taking Data for a walk without changing out of my pyjamas and robe.

***

My teeth hurt. Really, really bad.

***

My back is aching in a particular way that tells me Happy Harbor Volume 3 is edging closer to reality.

***

I really wish I was in Los Angeles or New York right now so I could picket with the writers who belong to the union I want to join.

***

That's all I've got for now.

A

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

T plus Three Years

I’ve probably inflicted this story on you before, but what the hell…

Tiina and I had been officially going out for a few months at the time. I’d moved from Calgary to Edmonton, because the romantic commute bus fare was killing us, and established myself as slightly above the dog and far, far below the cat in the hierarchy of T’s household.

We were at some cafĂ©, talking, and somewhere along the way, she mentioned something she’d seen at goth-culture emporium Sanctuary.

T: They had this wedding dress/straitjacket combination.

A: Neat.

T: If I—I mean, we—er, if I ever got married--hopefully it’d be to you, but I’m not pushing, this isn’t me pushing—

A: OK.

T: I want that to be my wedding dress.

(Pause as A mulls it over. Then:)

A: Well, if you get to wear a wedding dress, I want—I’m assuming you’re getting married to me, here—I want to have a black bag over my head and be forced down the aisle at gunpoint by my—whatever they call the groom’s bridesmaids—

T: Groomsmen.

A: Right. Well, I want them to be dressed as stereotypical Colombian drug smugglers, greasy hair, five o’clock shadows, mirror shades—and they’ll force me down the aisle at gunpoint. And then when it’s time for me to say I do, they take the bag off my head, rip off the duct tape over my mouth (I’ve got duct tape over my mouth) and I’ll say “I do.”

(Pause as T considers the possibilities.)

T: OK. If you get to do that, then I get to do this…

*

There followed a lengthy discussion over the various ways Tiina could simultaneously marry me and get disowned by her parents (who probably hadn’t given it much thought but we assumed would be pushing for a three-hour long Greek Orthodox ceremony.) The exact details of this conversation are lost to the mists of time, but if I recall correctly, different options considered included monster trucks, faked electrocutions, open flame, and a crucifixion.

As we finished our soy chai lattes, we looked at each other, expressions of resignation on our faces.

T: You know what this means, don’t you?

A: Yeah. Now we have to get married.

*

We’d pretty much settled on Hallowe’en as the day of the wedding.

But Grandma was dying of cancer, and it was pretty obvious she wasn’t going to last till October. I briefly toyed with the idea of holding the wedding sooner, but someone—I think it was Mum—talked me down.

We kept aiming at Hallowe’en, till we realized that that year it’d land on a Sunday. As most of the people I’d be inviting would be coming up from Calgary, that seemed like a sure way to ensure a lot of people wouldn’t be able to stick around and help us celebrate. So we moved the date to October 30--Devil’s Night.

Or, as T didn’t realize at the time, the anniversary of one set of her grandparents’ wedding.

Or, as I also didn’t realize it at the time, the anniversary of my Grandma and Granddad’s wedding.

Maybe it was a sign.

*

I’m pretty sure Grandma was the first person to see our rings.

We got them from a jeweler who’d set up shop in the main lobby of the Misericordia Hospital, where Grandma was staying. I chose mine because it had moving parts—it was like a Happy Meal toy.

I was seriously worried about the ring—I’ve never been comfortable with personal adornments. I mean, they’re fine for those who like them, but that’s not me. I hadn’t worn a watch since grade five and hadn’t liked it then, never pierced anything, even putting a necklace over my head leads to an instinctive constricting of the throat.

As it is, to this day my engagement/wedding ring is the only piece of jewelry I’ve ever been comfortable wearing.

Definitely a sign.

*

My wedding is probably the coolest thing I will ever be involved with in my life. I’ve certainly no pressing desire to try and coordinate anything remotely resembling it ever again. (T’s a different story. If you’re ever invited to the anniversary party we hold on a boat, don’t come. Trust me on this.)

It was a lot of stress, but it came off about as well as it could, I think (with the possible exception of the extended family’s attempt to line dance to Zorba the Greek.) The lightning effects seemed to work, the nieces and nephews weren’t too scared of me to chase me down the aisle (primarily because I spent fifteen minutes in the staging area letting them kick me), I choked someone during the ceremony, the wedding cake bled when we cut it…

And in the end I was married to my perfect woman.

For all that I abuse the readers of these blogs with my incessant whining about the unbearably awfulness of my pitiful existence, getting married to Tiina is the best thing that ever happened to me. If the success of a marriage is the only measure of the quality of one’s life that matters, then I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

And I have been for three years tonight.

A

Monday, October 29, 2007

HOW TO ENSURE THAT THE SEAT NEXT TO YOU ON A GREYHOUND BUS IS THE ABSOLUTE LAST ONE AVAILABLE BEFORE ANYONE SITS IN IT

An ANDREW FOLEY WRITES THINGS Public Service Message

1) Get on the bus as early as possible. I guess Greyhound’s charging extra for the right of first entry these days—I usually settled for getting in line early, because I’m cheap.

2) Buses tend to fill from the front back or the back forward, depending on the age/disposition of the other passengers. Select an aisle seat in the middle of the bus. Don’t just sit in it—consume it, sprawling yourself over as much space as possible.

3) Put all of your stuff on the window seat next to you. The more stuff the better: a jacket’s an absolute must, bookbag’s good, food, a pillow, a laptop case…anything that will give the impression that the seat, if it’s not already occupied, is certainl in active use.

4) Put your walkman/Discman/iPod/whatever the hell kids use to listen to music these days headphones in. Turn music up loud enough that it can be heard by other passengers. This emphasizes the idea that you will be an unpleasant person to sit next to for the next several hours, which is precisely the impression you want to give.

5) Pretend to be asleep. This and the previous step will encourage prospective Nitwits who think they might want to sit next to you to look elsewhere.

6) If someone is rude enough to wake up the sleeping person with the loud headphones, immediately launch into a loud, protracted coughing jag. If you can manage to cough something out of your mouth that requires a Kleenex or other handkerchief-style technology to wipe away, so much the better. If you don’t have a Kleenex and have to wipe away with the palm of your hand, better still. Make sure to wipe your hand on the pantleg that will be closest to the person that sits next to you.
NOTE: Be careful with this one. On occasion I’ve coughed to hard I actually hurt my throat and ended up coughing when I didn’t want to.

In all my years traveling Greyhound, this sequence of actions only once failed to ensure that the seat next to me was the only one available before it got sat in (on a couple of occasions, passengers selected the floor rather than sit next to me.) And in that case, there was only one other seat that could have been chosen. I still wonder what that guy did to keep himself clear. Anyway. This brings us to:

HOW TO MAKE THE BRAINDEAD NITWIT WHO CHOSE TO SIT BESIDE YOU WHEN THEY HAD ANOTHER CHOICE PAY FOR BEING SO STUPID

Because if they don’t suffer, they’ll never learn.

1) First, crank the headphone volume up. If you have a variety of music to choose from, select that which looks most likely to irritate The Nitwit. Something in the speed metal vein is generally a good bet.

2) Seeing as The Nitwit’s already woken you up, REALLY get into the music. Sing quietly along with it, especially the ruder lyrics, while contorting your face in the most disturbing ways possible. Bob your head back and forth to the beat. Or faster than the beat. Air guitar/drumming is not out of the question.

3) Once you get tired of this, pretend to fall asleep (but don’t turn the headphones off.)

4) After you’ve been “asleep” for awhile, slowly and systematically begin to intrude on The Nitwit’s personal space. The leg you wiped your hand on moves onto their side of the seatset. You start listing to the side, eventually putting your head (with headphones blaring) onto their shoulder. It’s vitally important this be a slow, subtle thing, though. Too much too soon, or too deliberate, and they might break the sequence prematurely.

5) When they finally can’t take it anymore and feel they have to wake you up, wake up with a start. If you’ve got a cup of coffee, spill what’s left of it on The Nitwit.

6) If you didn’t spill something on The Nitwit, at first act irritated at being woken up.
If you did spill something on The Nitwit, be terribly apologetic. And by terrible, I mean terribly loud—don’t take off or turn down the earphones.

7) Most people are polite (stupid, but polite) enough not to wake up the sleeping, loud, intrusive jerk next to them until they really can’t take it anymore. By the time The Nitwit’s asked you to stay on your side and turn the music down, they’ll be seething with anger at your many trespasses against them. This is why it’s important that, once you’ve been informed of your impositions, you be graceful. Apologize with as much sincerity as you can muster. Immediately pull back and refrain from doing any of the stuff you’ve been doing for the last hour. That way, The Nitwit’s left with no out—they’re still pissed, but they have no legitimate target for their anger.

The only time I had to resort to this sort of behaviour, I got off the bus ten minutes later, for which I’m sure My Nitwit was very grateful. If your trip still has a ways to go, your read of The Nitwit’s personality will be critical. If they’re talky, put the earphones back in, but quieter. Snore loudly, occasionally breaking into a coughing jag. Don’t cover your mouth—you’re asleep, after all. If they’re clearly consumed with hatred of the person sitting next to them, engage them in conversation. Tell jokes that aren’t funny, screw up their telling, and then laugh uproariously at your own patently unfunny offerings.

The possibilities are endless, which is how the bus trip should seem for The Nitwit.

***

It’s been years since I took a Greyhound bus anywhere. If you live in the Calgary/Red Deer/Edmonton/For MacMurray corridor, you are frankly insane if you even consider taking a Greyhound bus. Red Arrow’s where it’s at, man. Costs a little more, but it’s got big seats (including ones that don’t have any seat next to them), seat reservations for all passengers, plug-ins for laptops, free pop, coffee and cookies in the back…

If I ever have to ride in a Greyhound again, it’ll be too soon.

Now if I can just figure out how to make this work on planes, I'll be onto something...

Foley

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Time Keeps On Slippin', Slippin', Slippin'

Wow. Time flies when you’re semi-conscious…

This week managed to breeze by, I suspect largely because I spent most of it regretting--I mean, recovering from the 24 hour comic slog. In trying to relive my art college days, I forgot two things: 1) I’m not as young as I once was, and 2) I’m not as drunk as I once was. Both of these things left me borderline crippled through Sunday and Monday…

I haven’t had the nerve to actually look at what I did in any detail since last Saturday. I’ve got a feeling this is the 24 hour comic I’ll be most embarrassed by. Which will take some doing, as my second one was complete and utter nonsense.

But 24HCBD07 is over and done with, and it’s time to look to the future.

***

Oh, dear. I don’t like the look of the future. Let’s stay here in the present, where it’s nice and cozy.

As you can probably guess, I haven’t gotten a lot done this past seven days. Fortunately, a lot has been happening anyway, so the world’s at least semi-interesting and I’ve got something to blog about.

***

HOW VAGUE THE NIGHT?

Manager 1 talked to Big Producer yesterday about The Project That The Co-Writers Did That Big Producer May (or May Not) Be Interested In. This was the day after what sounds like a reasonably in-depth conversation between Co-Writer and Big Producer. Big Producer told Co-Writer he (BP) would write a four-page outline of where he saw The Project going in motion picture form. This seemed like a Good Thing. Better for Co-Writer than me, though, as Co-Writer was seeing The Project return to his original vision for it, rather than the one he had his arm twisted to accept--the one that brought me on as co-writer.

Which means there’s an outside chance of me getting fifty percent of something big (if this happens--and it almost certainly won’t--it would be big) I had little or nothing to do with. Unless we get the comic version of The Project out. Which I really want to do, because it’s something I’m proud of.

Anyway. Manager 1 talked to someone at Big Producer’s Company (not actually Big Producer, which was who Co-Writer talked to), and got a slightly different impression of the situation, that being that, while Big Producer is interested in The Project, Big Producer isn’t putting as much into moving The Project forward as he might. Manager 1 really likes the idea of setting something up with Big Producer, but doesn’t want to put all our eggs in one basket.

What does all this mean? I’m not really sure. I plan to leave this in Manager 1’s capable hands, in the hopes that it will move forward at a pace slightly less glacial than the one I’ve come to associate with Hollywood…

***

BAD BOY, BAD BOY, WHATCHA GONNA DO…

I can’t believe I actually have a Cops reference in my blog. Someone put a bullet in my head, stat.

Manager 2’s enthusiasm for THE SPOOKY KIDS seems to have dimmed somewhat, as the realization sets in that it’s “a little dark” and therefore a tough sell to the North American young adult book market. To the best of my knowledge, we’ve only had two of a possible twelve publishers pass on it so far, so we shall see.

In the meantime, he’s become fairly enthusiastic about the prospects for BadBoy, which is great, except that he needed something I didn’t have--an outline for a first volume of a potential series of long-form comic books (aka “graphic novels”, a term I’m trying to avoid just ‘cuz.) I’ve got a proposal for an animated series version, an outline for a movie version, a script for a first issue, an outline for two issues…self-contained long-form comic with potential for sequels? Um, no.

Until a few minutes ago, anyway. I just sent an outline of that very thing off to Manager 1 and The Future of Comics (II) John Keane. Having done that, I’m now worried that it’s crap. It’s hard to gauge how good something I’ve written is at the best of times, never mind after I’ve been staring at it for several hours straight.

Oh well. This is why I’ve got People--so someone can tell me when I stink.

***

SUBMIT OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES

A few years back, I was a submissions editor for an online comic company called UnboundComics.com. I actually rather enjoyed that job, though I’m not entirely sure why… Something about the raw nature of what shows up, combined with the outside possibility that I might stumble across something Really Cool, appealed to me, I guess.

This might explain why I’m spending so much time at zeros2heroes.com. I was actually tempted to pitch something of my own on the site, until I realized that just putting a pitch up there requires one to agree that “all development, production and exploitation rights in the Submitted Material are exclusively available to Z2H.” I asked about that on the Z2H forum, as it seemed to go against one of the premises of the Comic Creators Bill of Rights, but haven’t gotten a response yet. Then again, compared to other posts, it hasn’t had a lot of readers, yet. In any event, if I did take part and managed to win, I’m pretty sure one or the other of my managers would kill me for not consulting with them beforehand. At the end of the day, I’m not really Z2H’s target demographic, anyway.

In spite of this, I’ve been reliving my submission editor days reading some of the stuff on the website. And there are a couple gems among the, uh, less gem-like and the fanfic. It’s always neat to see an interesting idea coming together (for me, anyway.)

Still. Got to pull back a little. Damn site’s almost as addictive as e-mail.

***

DISTRACTED? I DON’T GET DIST-HEY WHAT’S THAT SHINY THING OVER THERE?

Of course, thinking about what I might pitch to Z2H led to me thinking about an old idea at some length. The beauty of pitching this one to Z2H was that it was something nobody but me really seemed to like much. So putting it out in the public eye wouldn’t have bothered anyone (this was before I read the submission agreement.)

And, in thinking about it, I started to like it all over again. And so I started to bat it around in my mind--as a possible comic, as a film spec, as a pilot spec, as an animated series…

And I think it could very well work as any one of those. But this isn’t the damn time to be developing something new! I’ve still got THE KIDS spec to finish, and then there’s THE HOLIDAY MEN to get back to, and I’ve got to find an artist for ERSATZ and I really should be figuring out how to make MERLYN CO. work if I’m going to be developing something, Manager 2 was interested in that one, after all…

Someday I’ll run out of stuff to work on. And THEN I can work on this.

***

24 HOURS - EXPOSED

Did I mention that during 24HCBD I actually took my pants off for half an hour and nobody noticed?

I don’t know if this should utterly depress me or not.

Foley

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

24 hours = six days


At least, it does when you're a decrepit geezer like myself. I'm still not feeling entirely human after the 24HCBD slog. Body's still sore, brain still feels like it was sucked out my nose and replaced with a cement-like substance. On the upside: more than $2700 will be going to the Alberta Literacy Fund. Yay team.

The weather's not helping my general condition, yoyoing as it is from 22 degrees this afternoon to a high of 5 tomorrow.

This didn't stop me and T from going to listen to Gilbert Bouchard and a bunch of Unitarians and/or university students discuss various aspects of vampire and zombie mythology at the U of A this evening. It was an entertaining, occasionally frustrating discussion that had the floor thrown open to the peanut gallery earlier than I'd have preferred. Gilbert's an entertaining speaker whose thoughts are worth listening to even when he's wrong, wrong, wrong. The desperate desire to appear clever and erudite made some of the audience participants' input absolutely intolerable. If I never have to hear how the myth of the vampire is tied to giving a loved one a hickie so that you can control them again, it'll be too soon.

While I was out, my Scott O. Brown, originator, co-creator and co-writer of THREADS, had a conversation with a fairly well-established film producer about the project. We'll see if that goes anywhere.

The only place I'm going is to bed.

A

Friday, October 19, 2007

24 Hours in the life of a former art student

It takes place at Happy Harbor tomorrow, starting at 10 AM. If previous 24 hour comics are anything to go by, I'll be pretty much completely off the grid for the weekend and probably actively ignoring the grid for a good portion of the next week. You can call or e-mail, but don't expect an answer until Monday the 29th or later (you might get one earlier, but don't expect it. That way you'll be pleasantly surprised.)

Moved all the stuff needed to ensure being stuck in a confined space with thirty other people while trying to create a 24 page comic story on the fly is as comfortable as possible--comfy office chair, drawing table, slippers. Also several gallons of latex paint, a variety of brushes and pens, and twelve large pieces of poster board.

Making a 24 Hour Comic takes me back to the best times of my art college days, when I and my studiomates would stay up all night painting like madmen. The other three books I've done have been pen and ink--this one's going to be different, to say the least. The plan is to glue pages of tomorrow's Edmonton Sun to the poster board, paint out non-photographic details and photographic ones I don't like, and build a comic around the images remaining. There's all sorts of artsy philosophical meaning I could claim for doing it that way, but mostly...it's an excuse to act like an art student again.

In an effort to not start out from a position of weakness, I had the insomnia traditionally reserved for the night before a 24 hour comic attempt LAST night. Hopefully, this means I'll get some decent shuteye tonight. If I don't...yuck.

Previous HH 24-Hour Comic events have capped out at sixteen participants. This one is looking to have around thirty. Come midnight tomorrow, we are gonna smell Baaaad...

***

MY SO-CALLED CAREER - UPDATE

The Spooky Kids: Yen Press rejected the book for much the same reason as Scholastic--too dark. Artist and Publishing Manager getting a little edgy about it being too graphic for a North American audience. I'm waiting to hear back from the dozen other editors who're looking at it before making that call. Publishing Manager is looking into possible European publishers.

Done To Death: With a writers strike looming in H'wood, the Multimedia Manager is looking to get this as packaged as possible so it's ready to pitch as soon as the strike's over. An actor who'd be PERFECT for Andy is looking at the book. They're trying to find a screenwriter who'll add to the package. Meanwhile, Publishing Manager is getting ready to take the book out to a few comic publishers, as well as some smaller traditional horror publishers looking to catch the graphic novel wave.

Unnamed Spec Pilot: Multimedia Manager's talking with a packaging agent today. I have no idea what that means. Spec was sent to showrunner last week, haven't heard of a response, if any.

BadBoy: Publishing Manager thinks this is an easier sell to the North American market than the Spookies. John Keane's got nine sequential pages done. I need to retool/rework previous outlines intended for various media to come up with a synopsis for a story that works as a single volume but doesn't eliminate the hook, so the possibility for sequels is available. This is going to be tough.

The Night Beat: I'm seriously considering pitching this at Zeros 2 Heroes, just to see what would happen. Need to read the submission agreement first to make sure there's no "once you submit, you're ours" clause like there is with Zuda.

Unnamed spec screenplay: Supposedly getting notes for this soon. Multimedia Manager wants to get it polished and ready to pitch as soon as strike is over.

Ersatz: Had a Very Good Artist interested, but he couldn't find the time, at least not for the next year. Sigh.

The Kids spec screenplay: Still picking away at a first draft. Taking a long time, this one, but I've been distracted.

The Holiday Men: Pure Spec and thhe 24 Hour Comic event at HH are taking their toll on Nick's output, but the scripts for the first two episodes are in and they are a Metric Buttload of Fun. Seen Nick's first page inked, and he's really bringing his A-game to the project. That boy's come a long way from his old ACCA minicomics.

Threads: I haven't read the document yet, but it sounds like all rights to the piece have been returned to Scott O. Brown and myself. Once that's confirmed, we'll consider our next move for it. But getting it back is potentially huge in ways that go beyond Scott and myself. This is one of the top ten best scripts I've ever written, in my book (would've been top five a few weeks back, but The Holiday Men knocked it out. If I ever calm down and look at THM rationally, it may get back in there), so getting it back is A Good Thing.

I'm probably forgetting something.

***

I'VE GOT NEW SLIPPERS

That is all.

A

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

ZEROS 2 HEROES, PART TWO: WEBSPINNING

Some more positives about Z2H:

-They’ve posted their contract online for all prospective CCN creators (and anyone with a internet access) to see.

-They’ve even gone one better, and made that contract VERY simple, compared to what they could have done. I wouldn’t advise signing it without having an entertainment lawyer look at it, but odds are if you’re a would-be comic writer, you can’t afford a lawyer. I couldn’t when I was starting out. I still can’t, but I’ve had enough difficulties with contracts (and with not having contracts) that these days I’ll try to find the money ($150 an hour for the lawyer I go to; I count myself lucky he’s usually got things sussed in an hour). If I can’t afford his fee and I’ve still got to make a decision about a contract, I’ll either pass or sign. If I sign, my automatic assumption is that, at some point, I’m going to get screwed. If I end up not screwed, I’m pleasantly surprised. If I am screwed, at least I’m generally prepared for it.

Well, no I’m not, but that’s another post.

Anyway. Z2H’s contract seems very straightforward, which is to the company’s credit.

-I posted Part One of this discussion on my Z2H blog (as well as the Andrew Foley Writes Things blog, my LiveJournal and MySpace blog), which was read by at least one person involved in the company. Their response was friendly, not defensive at all--to me, this is further evidence that the company is run by people who have decent heads on their shoulders when it comes to business--a double-edged sword, to be sure, but I’ve been involved with companies who would have come out swinging in response to any perceived negativity. Which is the worst possible move, in my book. They’d be better off not responding at all, but passion drives people to do stupid things sometimes. Z2H’s people come off as nothing if not passionate, but the reaction to my comments shows that passion is tempered by a professionalism that is sadly lacking in the lower echelons of the comic industry.

-In addition to that, in responding to my post, Matt Toner indicated that the creative contract/agreement for CCN was not written in stone and was in at least some regards negotiable. My experience is that “we’re willing to negotiate” tends to be, well, let’s be charitable and call it a distortion of the reality. However, the activity on the recently opened Z2H forums does seem to show the company has some flexibility when it comes to creators’ concerns. I doubt the Big One is going to be something they’re willing, or even able to bend on. But the willingness to discuss things, and to some degree in public, to boot, is commendable.

***

RAKING MY OWN MUCK
Full disclosure time.

I consider myself to be a professional writer/editor. I know a lot of other writers, a few other editors, and some artists, and we’re all looking for work. I didn’t attend Comic Talks’ Professionals panel with no agenda. I would have if Jessica Leigh Clark hadn’t been on it, because I had friends on it. But Ms. Clark was on it, and I’m not so far ahead in my career that I’m not going to try and find work (well, paying work, anyway) wherever I can.

So I’ll admit, I had some hope there might be some kind of opportunity for me at Z2H, and if not for me, for others I know.

The procedure for writing submissions was going to be detailed online with the introduction of Z2H’s Pitch Engine (which seems to be a little behind schedule.) But by the time I got to talk to Ms. Clark, I was well aware of the contest aspect of Z2H’s process, and more or less realized my ego would prevent me from taking part in CCN, unless it paid its writers well.

Still, maybe there was hope for some editing work, for me or, if not me, for those editors I know who have substantial comic editing experience? Regrettably not, as Z2H’s “virtual studio” requires its editorial staff to be on-site in Vancouver.

OK, then, what about artists? Ms. Clark had already exchanged cards with Fiona, so she was covered, but there are a couple other people whose names I routinely put forward whenever a paid art job appears. Like Fiona, they’re great artists, they’re professional, and I like them. I get a vicarious thrill out of seeing them make progress in their chosen field.

As with the Pitch Engine, Ms. Clark’s advice was for artists to put their work online at Z2H, so the community could see it and support it (or not.) Which I’m reasonably sure the community would, if these guys could be convinced to make that effort. But unlike me, these guys are, unquestionably, professionals. I haven’t talked to them about it yet, but I strongly suspect that, like me, their reaction to the notion of having their work judged by a community of strangers would not be overwhelmingly positive. Then again, a paycheque is a paycheque, so we’ll see.

This was all more than a little dispiriting for Ye Olde Blogger. What I was looking at was a set-up that could allow professional creators to do something great, but which put all creators on the exact same level. After years of effort to get to where they/I got, they/I are being told that to get involved with Z2H in a professional capacity, we’d essentially have to return to square one and work our way up all over again, this time not just having to appeal to editors, managers, and publishers, but a group of people we didn’t know as well.

This stung at the time, and still does, a little. And that sting may be affecting my perception of several aspects of what Z2H is offering, and how they’re framing their offer.

I’m about to start dissecting the way Z2H presents itself. I expect--I hope--my own interpretations, presentations, and speculations will be likewise dissected by any parties who are interested enough to still be reading this. I’m trying to be even-handed and fair, here; I may not succeed. Ultimately, it will be up to those readers who are interested in pursuing a relationship with Z2H to decide whether what I’m putting forward are legitimate concerns or paranoid ramblings.

Or both. From where I stand, paranoia is a legitimate response for any creator who finds him or herself navigating the murky waters of intellectual property.

***

SURFACE AND SUBSTANCE

Awhile back, an established comic creator told me I should stop being so self-deprecating and instead act as though the existence of my genius was an irrefutable fact. Because that’s a more effective way to get ahead in the comics business.

He’s probably right (he’s also terribly humble and he’s got sufficient talent and recognition that he doesn’t have to be, so what’s good for the goose may not be ganderrific.) But I have difficulty presenting myself as the Second Coming of Bill Shakespeare. It’s not true, obviously, but that’s not really the issue. I’m a writer, a writer with a boring life, so if I don’t outright lie, I’m certainly not averse to taking artistic liberties with the truth when it entertains me to do so. No, the real problem is that I can’t do it with a straight face.

Anyone who claims to be a Great Anything just proved to me they aren’t. People who are Great don’t need to say that’s what they are, because there are enough people around who will do it for them. I suspect Fiona Staples is more than a little embarrassed that I’ve dubbed her The Future of Comics (I). I happen to believe it’s true, and I’ve no problem blowing the horn for others, loudly, when I believe in them. I’ve heard it said that the best advertising is word-of-mouth. I can afford that kind of advertising, and I’ve got a big mouth, at least when it comes to supporting those I think deserve it.

As a general rule, in a competitive situation, it’s the extroverts who get ahead. For decades, the entire advertising industry was based on proclaiming a specific product was the best thing ever. As the audience becomes more media literate, irony and surrealism have an increasing role in advertising (I have no conscious idea what “When you’re sleeping, Robert Goulet messes with your stuff” was promoting, but the idea still makes me laugh.) It’s a natural tendency to want to accentuate the positive when talking about something you’re trying to sell, be it a comic, a website, a publishing agreement…whatever. I can understand that.

But I question the effectiveness of that strategy, on the most subjective of grounds: my own response to people blowing their own horn. That response being to wonder what the hornblowers aren’t telling me.

Ms. Clark made a very impressive case for what Z2H was offering. She wasn’t telling me everything. Did I ask the wrong questions? Did she finesse her answers to accentuate the positive? Almost certainly. Did she lie? Absolutely not. Am I an idiot who doesn’t understand what he’s hearing? Quite possibly. For whatever reason, the impression of Z2H I came out of Pure Spec with was not a wholly accurate one.

Is the impression Z2H tries to create on its website wholly accurate? I don’t think so.

I’m not saying they’re lying; they absolutely aren’t. But they are presenting a picture that, if one doesn’t examine the contract offered closely, is misleading. They’re doing what good promoters do; they’re accentuating the positive.

***

WHEN A POSITIVE BECOMES A NEGATIVE

The problem with presenting something as overwhelmingly positive is that, in the final analysis, almost nothing is. Which ultimately can have a few effects: people could feel they’ve been misled and turn against those they perceive as misleading them; they could decide that, while this isn’t as great as they’d been led to believe, it’s still pretty cool and/or has real-world applications that make it worthwhile; there’s the smug swine who never believed you and were waiting to tell everyone they knew it all along; heck, there’s probably one or two who will honestly believe the refrigerator is a must-have item for any igloo.

My personal feeling is that there is a danger to being relentlessly, single-mindedly positive when promoting something. Which is why, when I try to push myself or my work on strangers, while I might accentuate the positive, I generally go out of my way to acknowledge the negative (or, if I’m being really PR-minded, acknowledging “what some might perceive as being negative”) as well.

By doing that, I’ve deprived attackers of a source of ammunition and gone some way towards keeping discussion on my message. Having acknowledged a negative, any time someone tries to use it against me, I’ve got an instant defense, while never appearing defensive: “Yes, I acknowledged that over here, but it’s not relevant to the discussion.” If the guy continues to hammer at something I already mentioned, he looks bad and I get sympathy and maybe a couple sales.

I’m really not as Macchiavellian as that last sentence would make me seem. But I will take a sale pretty much any way I can get it.

If, however, you don’t acknowledge the negative and someone brings it up, you’re on the defensive (even if you never publicly appear that way.) You have to explain why this negative wasn’t mentioned earlier; you have to convince people you weren’t trying to hide something; you have to do a lot of things you wouldn’t have had to do if you’d brought it up in the first place. Or you can just stay silent, which will be taken as an admission of guilt, but is often the best position you can hope for at that point, from a tactical standpoint. At least that way you aren’t wasting resources fighting a losing battle.

Thanks to the internet, Those Who Do or Would Create Comics is a small, fairly tightly-knit community with more than its fair share of cynics (idealists who’ve been kicked by reality once too often). It’s pretty much a cosmic certainty that, with a business plan as ambitious as Z2H’s, sooner or later some marginal creator with an axe to grind is going to show up and start parsing every word he lays eyes on, looking for hidden meaning and inferring sinister intent at every opportunity.

And sure enough, here I am.

To Be Continued

***

COMMENTS

RemandCentre asks if I’ll be using any of Z2H’s creative tools. The short answer: It depends.

I’ll certainly be looking at what they’re offering to see if any of it’s useful to me, and if so, whether the advantages are sufficient to get a natural-born luddite like myself expend energy figuring out how to make them work. I can’t see the Pitch Engine offering me much, but the Page X software sounds like it has some potential.

My big concern with this stuff is would-be creators missing the forest for the trees. When I was a kid, I wanted a full-size drawing table and a tabouret, because that’s what my artist idols had. Neither would have made me a better artist, and the energy expended on badgering my parents to buy me utterly ridiculous tools I didn’t need could have been put to much better use improving my craft. At the end of the day, all that matters is the work, but I know I’ve occasionally forgotten that when something shiny caught my attention. And there’s a lot of shiny stuff on the internet.

So, we shall see.

Foley

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ZEROES 2 HEROES, PART ONE: LIVE FROM THE HAZELDEAN COMMUNITY CENTRE

This weekend at Edmonton’s annual Comic Talks panel series at Pure Speculations 2007, I had the opportunity to attend a discussion featuring the Creative Director of the online media company Zeroes 2 Heroes, Jessice Leigh Clark, as well as colourist and Newsarama blogger Stephanie Chan and two of my favourite people, The Future of Comics (I) Fiona Staples and artist Devon Jopling (who was on the panel in her role as a seller of Comics, Books, and Stuff.) While I would have attended panels featuring Fiona or Devon regardless of topic, I was really there to try and get a better sense of what Zeros 2 Heroes (which led to interest in getting an understanding of what their new initiative, Comic Creation Nation: Canada), a “virtual studio” I first heard about at Canadian Geek, was all about. Having seen the panel and talked to Ms. Clark a bit…

…I’m not sure what I got was a wholly accurate representation of the company’s agenda or its soon-to-be-implemented practices.

Before I get into all that, I want to highlight a couple of positives about the company, because I don’t relish the Negative Nellie Naysayer role I seem to have been identified with in some quarters.

First up, and, from where I stand, the most compelling reason for a writer to get involved with CCN, is Paul Dini’s participation as Editor-in-Chief of the project. Even if his role is largely that of a figurehead designed to lend some credibility to a project (as the EiC of at least one company I’ve worked with indisputably was), to me that looks like some pretty heavy credibility, certainly in the film/television space.

Another positive is the split of profits between creator and company--with each getting 50% of the gross profits. Meaning, as soon as your property brings in a dollar, the creator (in this case meaning just the writer, of which more later) gets fifty cents. This is almost unheard of in the comic world (I’ve never heard of it happening before), but as Ms. Clark put it to me, Z2H Media can’t lose in the proposition. They’re not expending their own money on the project, but Telefilm Canada’s, so it’s not like they’re losing anything by cutting the creator in as soon as the starter’s pistol goes off. Which isn’t to say they couldn’t have more or less ensured almost all their creators would never see a penny by only giving them net or adjusted gross profits and gotten away with it, so kudos to them for that.

From what I can tell, they are a bunch of savvy businesspeople. Which, as we’ll see, is a double-edged sword, but I’ve been involved with lousy businesspeople and in retrospect, given the choice, I’d rather have worked with Z2H than some other companies I’m legally unable to name. And one I am, but won’t because I’d probably still get sued and I have a faint hope of getting paid by them one of these days.

Hell, let’s toss that in as another positive: I’d bet up to five Canadian dollars that Z2H will not become known as a publisher that fails to pay its creators what they’re owed promptly. Unless Canada’s dollar is still worth more than the Americans’, in which case, make it five US$. I’m not made of money, y’know.

There. A few good things about Zeros2Heroes Media. And that’s the end of my thoughts on the company, right?

Sure. Because I’m the Feelgood Blogger of the Year. Riiiight.

***

THE PITCH - LIVE

I’d have to go back and review the tapes of the panel, but the general impression I got from Ms. Clark’s statements on the panel were along these lines:

-Writers post their pitches online, along with a brief script sample, and “the community” votes on which projects should proceed forward.

-Artists undergo a similar procedure, only they post a portfolio. Then, when the community gives them the thumbs-up, they produce a few sequential pages, which are paid for regardless of what happens next. If those pages garner sufficient support in the community, the artist will be assigned to a project, either one of those Z2H has taken on for a corporate client or one of the CCN “books”.

-Artists who do original work for the company (ie, not the first portfolio they show, which would presumably feature previously created work) will receive payment for all that work. Letterers and colourists and editors are likewise compensated for their efforts. I didn’t hear anything mentioned about what writers get paid, for good reason, because they don’t, at least not until the “book” brings in money.

-What the writer DOES get out of CCN is ownership of all their rights. Now, again I’d have to go back and review the recording to see if Ms. Clark specified as to whether that was “all rights in regard to the comic Z2H will produce” or “all rights to their intellectual property.” The former is true; the latter, as far as I can tell, not so much. But the *impression* I (and Tiina, who was also present) received was that the writer retained all rights to their intellectual property.

-In any event, a “winning” CCN writer would have the final say regarding the execution of their comic. Ultimately, the writer’s desires trumped those of every other party, including the company, editor, and artist.

-The winning writer would also receive a professionally drawn, coloured, lettered and edited comic, which would be “published” online on Z2H’s platform.

-If it was popular enough with the community, this comic would then be published in print form.

So, in short: I create a pitch, it gets voted on. If I’m “elected”, I create a script, and *it* gets voted on. If I pass muster with the community at that point, I get to write a script that will be edited professionally, but I’ll retain the right to ignore editorial suggestions if I disagree with them. I’m pretty sure I get artist approval, too. The comic is then put online, and if the community is sufficiently supportive of it, a print version will be produced and sold.

This scenario would be repeated for fifty books, “until the money runs out.”

By the end of the panel, I had several questions about CCN and Z2H. I put them to Ms. Clark, who patiently answered them.

***

Q+A

(This is to the best of my recollection, it is certainly paraphrased if not utterly distorted. Take it for what it’s worth.):

Q: Does the creator really get to have control of their property?
A: They have control of their comic, yes.

Q: Even if they disagree with the editor?
A: We hope they’d work with the editor, but yes, they have the final say on their comic.

Q: Aren’t you worried about people “stuffing ballots”?
A: No, because not every vote is considered equal. Z2H’s community is built on a social credit system; for instance, the opinions of those who’ve participated in the community for several weeks will be given more consideration than those who signed up the day of the voting.

Q: You realize by letting the writer have final say you’re almost certain to produce at least one really, really crappy comic, right?
A: Yes, but I’d rather produce nine crappy comics to get to a tenth that wouldn’t have a chance of being picked up somewhere else.

Q: You said you were looking for artists and editors to handle fifty projects. What are you looking for in them?
A: Artists should put their work online at Z2H, where the community (and our editors) can see them. The first thing we require of editors is that they be based in Vancouver.

I thanked her, wished her luck, took some literature, and went on my merry way.

***

WHAT IS MY MAJOR MALFUNCTION?

Only the way wasn’t so merry. Something about Zeros2Heroes wasn’t sitting well with me, but I was damned if I could figure out what it was. I spent much of the rest of the day (including several hours at the costume party) mulling over exactly what my problem was with a company giving creators the rights to their work and paying at least some of them for doing so.

I mentioned my unease to Tiina, who suggested it sprang from the fact that Ms. Clark had “said everything you wanted to hear.” There was something to that, but it wasn’t entirely the case; for one thing, as great as she’d made Z2H out to be, I *hadn’t* heard everything I wanted to hear.

Ultimately, I wasn’t really happy with the reasons I came up with. They cast me as an elitist snob who sees himself as above the common man (or common online comic fan, as the case may be). Which I probably am, but it’s still a hard pill to swallow when I’ve got to face it directly.

***

I WAS A TEENAGE EFFETE SNOB

The first issue with Z2H in general and CCN in particular that I managed to articulate was, it’s designed as a contest. As an (occasionally) professional writer, that doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t mind putting my work in front of an editor and getting rejected. It’s a different thing to accept the judgement of a nebulous “community”.

Ballot-stuffing has been eliminated, but the risk of work on Z2H being judged by the popularity of its creator rather than its actual merit still exists. And in a world where “Arrested Development” can’t get enough viewers to survive while “According to Jim” lumbers on, I’m not at all sure quality will be rewarded, or even recognized, by the masses. DC apparently sees something in this, as Zuda has a few slots reserved for creations the management likes, even if the community doesn’t. Z2H doesn’t seem to have a comparable arrangement.

“It’s research, it’s market-driven,” said…someone I talked to about it, I forget who.

But I don’t think it is. Support of a community for something read for free online may or may not translate into support for the same product when it costs three bucks. If internet communities could really be trusted to vote with their wallets, CIVIL WAR wouldn’t just have bombed, Mark Millar and Joe Quesada would have been hung from lampposts so children could throw rocks at their bodies.

What it does do is generate content for a website for very little cost up-front, and create the impression of a thriving online community, which is at least partly based on those whose participation has less to do with interest in the site than in currying favour with others in that community so that the odds of “winning” improve (Ms. Clark made the case for the importance of networking inside the community to improve one’s chances quite eloquently in the panel.) It’s also something else altogether, but I didn’t discover that until this afternoon, when I read the Z2H’s CCN contract. I’ll be coming to that later.

Incidentally, I don’t think that last paragraph is a bad idea at all, from a business or community standpoint. If the conversations that result from the community are of a positive nature, who cares how people got drawn into it?

I was also disturbed by Ms. Clark’s admission that Z2H was willing to consciously produce comics that were poorly written. The will of the community and, later, the writer, overrides the opinion of publisher and editor--people who presumably have a better sense of the craft of comics than the new writers CCN’s aimed at. Does the comics world, online or otherwise, *really* need more mediocrity knowingly introduced into it?

***

LIVING WITH MYSELF

Maybe my problem wasn’t with the contest, but with myself.

Perhaps, instead of being uncomfortable with CCN, I was actually uncomfortable with the odds of my own writing skills winning over the Z2H community. Maybe the notion that, at this point in my career, I shouldn’t have to win over a group of strangers with (for the most part) no track record, that it’s demeaning for anyone at any stage of their career to have to enter a public contest to prove their creative worth, was in fact my self-serving rationalization, an excuse that allowed me to save face by giving me an out from competing.

I have to admit, it’s possible this was the case. I wasn’t consciously trying to claim the moral high ground with all this, just to work through my own feelings on what Z2H had to offer creators who I honestly don’t think always get the recognition or success their talent merits. I wanted to be able to throw my support behind CCN and Z2H. Or so I told myself.

For whatever reason, by the time today rolled around, I was reasonably sure I wouldn’t be participating in CCN. I was, however, going to write something very much along the lines of this post, because that’s what blogs are for (wherever you might end up reading this, it was done first for my online public navel-gazing activities.) And I was planning to tell several friends and acquaintances of mine who are no less talented than I am but are, for a variety of reasons, lower on the professional totem pole that, from what I could tell, compared to things like DC’s Zuda initiative, and Platinum’s Comic Book Idol, Z2H was making a better offer in a lot of ways.

It was because I was planning to do that that I went to the Z2H site a few times since Pure Spec, looking for more information to give people whose careers I thought might be well-served by taking part in CCN. And this afternoon, I got a LOT more information.

I don’t know if it was there before, but this afternoon I found and read the Z2H contract, Z2H’s description of what’s in that contract, and a point by point comparison between Z2H’s arrangement with its CCN winners and the Comic Creators’ Bill of Rights that was put together by Scott McCloud, Dave Sim, and numerous others 20 or so years ago.

Which opened up a whole OTHER can of worms…

To be continued.

Foley