Thursday, November 11, 2010

This conversation probably never happened

Jim Lee: So here's a thought: why don't we kick Gail Simone off a book she clearly loves and prevent all but one of our creators from using Superman in the DC Universe continuity, especially the guy we've got lined up to take over Action Comics, and let fan-favourite JM Straczynski take Supes and Wonder Woman to new heights?

Dan Didio: By new heights, do you mean completely ignoring and/or needlessly changing everything about the characters that has made them pop culture icons for decades?

Lee: Yeah! Like he did with Spider-Man!

Didio: I love this. LOVE. IT. I've only got one tweak I'd like to make.

Lee: Lay it on me, Danny-baby.

Didio: Let's let JMS start long-term storylines featuring these, these--

Lee: All-Star Batman'd.

Didio: --these All-Star Batman'd versions of the characters, and solicit the books before we're sure we can produce them on anything resembling a monthly schedule--

Lee: That kinda goes without saying, doesn't it...?

Didio: No, I haven't got to the best part yet--We let him do this, start these major, history-making, character-enhancing storylines, and then, you're gonna love this--then we encourage him to leave the titles in MID-STORYLINE to work on something that'll stroke his ego even more than writing two of the best known franchises known to man and replace him with writers nobody cares about. Someone like JT Krul.

Lee: He still hasn't given you the negatives, huh?

Didio: By hook or by crook, I'm gonna get those pictures, and when I do, so help me...

Lee: I'm not big on the Krul thing. Shouldn't we use someone 98% of our loyal readership doesn't loathe? Someone who knows how to write a solid, entertaining comic?

Geoff Johns (walking in): You need someone to write something? I've got a few minutes. I mean, I need to go to the bathroom, but I could hold it in until you tell me what you need--

Didio & Lee: Shut up, Geoff.

Geoff Johns: Whatever you want, guys. You all doing OK, don't need anything? Water? Diet Coke? No? OK, if you need me I'll be in the can writing another episode of Smallville!

(Johns leaves)

Lee: How someone like that managed to make Green Lantern seem cool, I'll never know.

Didio: OK, back to Superman and Wonder Woman. So we don't use JT. What about Phil Hester?

Lee: Yeah, him or maybe that Roberson kid.

Didio: Well, JMS is going to be abandoning two of our three flagship characters' titles mid-storyline-- (shivers with pleasure) --Why just throw one writer to the wolves when we can poison the longtime career dreams of two?

Lee: My god.

Didio: I know, right?

Lee and Didio: WE'RE #@%&ING BRILLIANT!


Nope. I just do not understand how this was allowed to happen. Good luck to Phil Hester and Chris Roberson, though. They've both got tough rows to hoe.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Some paintings from a couple months back

1. Me and Tiina, painted fast

2. Portrait of T. She likes it because it "makes me look sinister."

3. An experiment inspired by a Degas painting I saw at the Art Gallery of Alberta.

4. Portrait of Cevyn-My-Niece

5. Detail from a portrait of Cevyn-My-Niece

6. A different detail from same

7. Surprisingly, I actually finished the second painting I started after resuming painting in January.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I don't know what to say.

I've been feeling terribly guilty about the rather inert state of this blog, lately. Well, maybe not lately--does the last four months count as lately? It's been awhile.

But while I've been feeling terribly guilty about not posting stuff here, I apparently don't feel guilty enough to, you know, post much. There are several reasons for this, among them:

-I've been in a really bleak place since December, and it's not the kind of bleak I normally indulge in. It's not something I can enjoy ironically or want to make light of. There's no fun in it, and if there's no fun, I don't really want to randomly inflict it on anyone who might stumble across this blog. And seeing as I don't, with one exception I can recall, lock posts, that's The Big Thing I'd be writing about off the table. There are, of course, smaller things I could be writing about, but...

-A lot of those things are other peoples' business and I shouldn't discuss them in public even though I'd kind of like to because I think I might be able to work some stuff out in this format and, for whatever reason, I don't actively keep a private journal. (The reason is probably that I did keep one when I was younger, and reading them a year or two or ten later was so incredibly irritating that I couldn't seriously contemplate ever committing my unedited private angst to a form I might foolishly consider reading again at some point. You think I whine on my blogs? This is nothing. Nothing.)

-The desire to inflict stuff I think is funny and/or relevant and/or useful on the wider public remains as strong as it ever did. But the siren song of twitter has drawn me away from blogging. Blame The Future of Comics (I) Fiona Staples for that one; I wouldn't have fallen into that particular time-sucking vortex if she hadn't told me I could tweet without a text-messaging cellphone. (I suspect I knew this, deep down, and the notion that it was something best done by and for people on the gogogo was a subconscious safety mechanism, a way to avoid getting drowned by information delivered 140 character at a time.)

As anyone who follows my twitter account (@theAndrewFoley if you're interested, though it also {mostly} feeds to my facebook account and is compiled daily on my LiveJournal account) can tell you, I haven't exactly shut up when it comes to saying stuff online--it's just the form that's shifted. I don't know if that shift will be permanent, but right now tweeting feels a lot more comfortable than blogging. For one thing, in spite of (maybe because of...?) the size limit for tweets, I feel like I'm more involved in actual 2+sided conversation on twitter than I ever have on this blog. So, yeah. Maybe I'll someday summon up the wherewithal to write up something of length, if not depth, to post here. I don't know that that day is coming soon, though, because...

-In the aftermath of December's trials, I've resumed painting again after 10+ years of not seriously doing it for any sustained length of time. I always kept in mind that I'd stopped painting for a good reason, but I'd honestly forgotten what it was until I started again.

What it is is this: all things being equal, I'd rather paint than write.

All things are not equal in this case. I've never fancied myself sufficiently talented or of social grace to be a successful painter (success in this case meaning an artist who makes or stands even a faint hope of making some kind of modest living off of his painting.) The mural I'm currently painting in Happy Harbor's entry is going to easily be the most money I've ever made from non-house painting--and it's in a style quite different from what I do when left to my own devices.

In addition to lacking the skill and connections necessary for someone who paints the way I do to make a career out of it, I discovered some time ago I don't even really want to make a career out of it. Doing so would require me working on terms other than my own and the ones physical limitations of environment and art supplies foist upon me (the biggest paintings I've worked on since starting up again have been 3x4 feet, roughly a sixth the size of what I was doing when I had a sizable studio space to work in.)

The day I decided to make a serious attempt at writing a gallery owner visited my studio. He began listing off various things I'd need to do with my paintings to get them hung in his gallery--which, in retrospect, was fairly generous of him. At the time, however, I completely lost track of what he was saying in favour of visualizing me throwing him out the studio's fourth storey window. He left, and I said to myself, "Well, you obviously don't have what it takes to do this professionally. What sort of work could you do where you could take feedback without wanting to physically assault the person offering it?"

Writing is something I enjoy doing: something I, on a good day anyway, think I'm actually pretty good at doing; most critically, something I'm not so emotionally invested in that I become inflexible; something I can happily (or at least willingly) approach as craft rather than art.

Over the past few years, I've gotten some really stupid notes on stuff I've written (I've also gotten a ton of notes that have made me a better writer in general and a better commercial writer in particular, but we're not talking about that right now).

Q: How many Hollywood producers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: One, but does it have to be a lightbulb?

Most of those notes were intended to make whatever I was working on more commercially viable, which in practice means I was being asked to respond to the concerns of people who hadn't actually read the work yet.

Q: How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Change the lightbulb? But the lightbulb's THE BEST PART!

For the most part, I've tried to address those notes as best I can, with a minimum of fuss, because I want to be a professional writer. (BTW, that raucous laughter you can hear? That's every manager or editor who's ever been subjected to my neurotic e-mail ramblings. I appreciate the patience, guys.)

Generally speaking, my blogging activity--while it might potentially be useful professionally (I don't think it actually has been in the five or six years I've been doing it, but in theory...)--has been me Writing for Fun.

What I've rediscovered over the last few months is that, for me, painting is more fun than writing. And I think that that, more than anything else, is the core reason for my lack of blogging activity. It's the work of a couple seconds to maybe a minute to tweet something; I've currently been writing this post about how I'm not posting anything for more than an hour.

That's an hour I could have spent writing something that might generate some kind income down the line. I'm currently picking away at a story (haven't decided if it's a movie or a comic yet) that I feel has a lot of commercial potential, while waiting for notes from my managers on another screenplay they think has some kind of potential. It's also an hour I could have spent painting. The former is something I feel I ought be doing, the latter something I would enjoy doing more than this. Instead, I'm trying to justify (to myself, if no one else) something that oughtn't need justifying: not blogging as frequently as I once did.

I don't know that I've been entirely successful in that endeavour. I suspect I will continue feeling somewhat guilty about not semi-frequently posting some rant or rave to the blog for a while to come. Maybe when I stop feeling guilty, I'll be more inclined to write more here. Maybe.

The big takeaway from all of this is, I don't know whether I'll be blogging more, less, or at all in the foreseeable future. For a couple handfuls of you, this has been the primary way I've communicated with you for the last few years, and I that's certainly why I'm still feeling some residual guilt over the way things have played out.

Some have interpreted the absence of material here as an indication that I'm in a bad place. In reality, I'm not in a good place. But I'm doing better now than I have been the last several months. I've got some really good news coming down the pipe on the writing front that I'm pretty excited about. Even if I didn't, I'm painting again, which is something I missed more than I realized. I'm tweeting all sorts of nonsensical rubbish.

Right now, there simply aren't enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do. Something's got to take the backseat, for awhile at least. And, though it wasn't a conscious decision at the time, somewhere along the line I did decide that that thing was this blog.

So I'm saying goodbye for now, and having said it I expect I'll feel better about it soon. And if I don't, well, I still don't know that I'll feel bad enough to take time away from painting to post something more than out of focus pics of what I've been painting recently here. That'll have to do for the time being.

Ever upward,

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Perfect Woman

(Tiina and Andrew's bedroom, morning. As Andrew returns to bed:)

TIINA: Did you feed les animaux?

ANDREW: I did.

T: Les chiens et les chats?

A: Oui.

T: And how are les animaux?

A: They're good. As good as ravening hellbeasts can be, anyway.

T: And how is my boyfriend?

A: Your what now?

T: I mean, how's my husband?

A: He's concerned about you having a boyfriend.

T: Sorry, I just don't know how to say "husband" in french.

A: But "boyfriend" is french for "boyfriend"?!?

T: ... ... ... Oui.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Today I got to pitch a couple of comics projects live on the phone. This is a departure from my standard operating procedure, which is to convince unsuspecting editors to permit me to send them pitches electronically.

My preference for digital transmission springs from my tendency when talking to people I'm not 100% comfortable with to either a) get nervous and shut the hell up, or b) get nervous and start talking really, really fast and really, really quietly simultaneously. Or to put it another way: I don't mumble as much in type.

I've been working on fixing my ineptitude when it comes to one-on-one conversation for... wow, must be more than a decade now. The idea of being on a convention panel no longer fills me with terror, and I absolutely love doing comic readings. And I don't completely freak out when I learn my managers have arranged for me to talk to a producer or editor or whatever. I'm just not very good at it yet.

In spite of that, I did what I had to do this evening. Awkwardly, but I got the point across and the people I was talking to seemed to think we were on the same wavelength (so much so that they'd recently picked up a couple projects a little too close to the ones I was pitching for them to go to the next level with mine) (which is a shame, because I spent a fair amount of time the last few days getting fully-fleshed out proposals for the two of them nailed down, but such is life.) I got the impression that the conversation would continue, but I've gotten that impression before. Hollywood, man. You just never know.


Speaking of Hollywood, apparently Han Solo's going to be in the movie based on a comic I have a co-writing credit on. I choose to believe this is entirely down to my being mind-bogglingly awesome.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"I should really post something on my blog."


Friday, March 19, 2010

Life in Brief

Actually working a LOT this last week, on what I hope and pray is the final pass on the "Spec w/ Emmy Award-Winning Producer attached" (but probably won't be, seeing as the latest round of notes has added almost ten pages of new material to a script that's already widely perceived as being overlong.)



When I've come up for air, I've found myself...well, to be honest I've been sad. I'm not renowned for my upbeat demeanour, but my usual default position is anger, which at least has the possibility of some entertainment value. I haven't given it much thought, but it seems to me right now that righteous fury is the best place to be on the negative side of the emotional spectrum. It's energizing, it gives me some clarity of focus--something good can come of it.

But this week, I'm not angry, I'm just depressed. I happened to stumble across two situations, one I'm not involved with at all but which nevertheless upset me, and one slightly closer to home, which upsets me even more. I've done what I can re: the former, don't know what I can do with the latter, other than dwell on it and feel awful for the various people involved (and myself, which is selfish, but there it is), which is what I've been doing. Forgetting to take my pills this morning didn't help.



It hasn't been a totally awful day. At the Harbor, we generally listen to 102.1 "The Edge", a Toronto radio station for background noise, esp. the 2:00-7:00 (Toronto time) weekday slot, which is hosted by long-time friend of Happy Harbor, Fearless Fred. Fred's a huge comic fan, to the point that he's working to create some of his own. He's also one of the more surreally amusing radio announcers I've ever listened to (not that that's a huge pool to draw from, seeing as I only listen to the radio at and on my way to the store.)

Yesterday, I half-heard Fred talking about the weather in TO, specifically a snippet to the effect of "It's such a great day I'm trying to combine beautiful and glorious into one word."

Naturally, I spent a ridiculously long time mulling this idea, and eventually came to the conclusion that the best option for such a combination was "Globeautrifulous" (pronunciation: glo-BYOO-tri-flus.) Having gone to the effort of concocting this abomination, I of course felt compelled to e-mail it to Fred, who promised to use it during his weekly examination of upcoming films. For a couple hours, I waited with baited breath. It was a fairly slow day in the shop, not a lot of people around, nobody at all for the twenty minutes prior to the movie previews.

And then, of course, a couple people walked in the door just as Fred started the segment. One of them came and stood silently in front of the till as Fred preemptively spoiled "The Bountyhunter" ("Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler? They get together in the end. I just saved you ten bucks and two hours of your life.") and Diary of A Wimpy Kid ("It's funny because it's ALMOST TRUE!"), before wading into Repo Men, which, given the time he'd spent on the segment already, I knew had to be when he'd say globeautrifulous. And indeed it was, or so I'm told, because it was exactly four words from the end of the segment when the customer in front of the till decided to start talking.

Fred mailed me, saying "Please tell me you heard that." I replied with pretty much what I typed above, with substantially more swearing.

The next time there was a break between songs and commercials, Fred came on and managed to work globeautrifulous into a sentence. And he did it in such a way that I couldn't possibly miss it, regardless of who might be talking at the time. He didn't yell it, but it wasn't that far from it.

That was without a doubt the highlight of my week. Which probably says something about the week I've had.



There are better things out there you could be reading. If you're an aspiring comics creator, I can even tell you what one of them is: IDW editor Mariah Huehner (ANGEL, THE LAST UNICORN) has spent part of her day on Twitter, tweeting about creating comics in general and the role of the editor in particular. Semi-related: Dark Horse editor Rachel Edidin (THE MARQUIS: INFERNO) has some tweets along the same lines, usually under the #makingcomics hashtag. Both are worth following, if following people on Twitter is your thing, but especially if you're thinking about getting into the creative end of the comics biz.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Steve Perry needs your help.

Sometimes you're feeling sorry for yourself, and then you read something that affects you. And you still feel sorry for yourself because that's just what you do these days, but you also feel like a self-centered jerk because, at least on an intellectual level, you know your life could be substantially worse. I read such a thing a few minutes ago, a blog post by Steve Bissette on writer Steve Perry's considerable troubles.

It was linked to by Dark Horse editor Rachel Edidin, whose blog post I've cut and pasted below because any attempt on my part to explore this further would almost instantly degenerate into an incoherent stream of profanity and implied death threats against selfish, soulless, teabagging pricks. So:

"Steve Perry is a writer (in comics as well as other media). He's no longer living out of his car, as he was a year ago, but he's still extremely ill--dying of cancer--and has no insurance, no money, and a very young son.

Steve Bisette explains the situation in a little more detail here, and provides a PayPal address:

If you can afford to, please donate--even a little makes a difference. Whether or not you can afford to send money, please at least help to spread the word. And then maybe write a representative a strongly-worded letter about the need for better safety nets and universal healthcare."

(I just know if I wrote that last sentence the word "bombs" would have been in there someplace.)


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oh, you look BEFORE you leap...

I just tweeted a mildly sarcastic comment about someone I assumed was a dead celebrity I'd never heard of but turned out to be a 2-year old kid who just died of cancer I'd never heard of.

I deleted it as fast as my fingers and wifi would let me when I realized and tweeted an apology, but... Yeah. Feeling like a bit of an ass right now. And by "bit of an", I mean "total".

The new pills aren't working so well this last couple days.


Friday, March 5, 2010

New Pills

Half busy, half miserable. Started a post based on a series of tweets that got...out of hand, but haven't finished it yet and as it stands it's really whiny, even by my standards, so I might not bother finishing.

If you're interested, my twitter feed is here --that's actually where I've been doing the bulk of my online writing lately. 140 character bursts are substantially easier to handle than complete sentences, at least when you're in the mood I've been in.

However! That mood seems like it might be changing, because, you guessed it! I'm on some new pills. Actually, I'm back on some old pills which were really good for a year and then gave me insomnia for a couple months, after which I stopped taking them and became less alert and, I strongly suspect, less pleasant to be around. I've only been taking the new/old meds for a couple of days, but I can already feel myself evening out a bit emotionally.

Which is good, because like I said above, I've got a fair amount on my plate right now. In addition to the various pitches I've got floating around a number of editorial offices, things seem to be picking up on the screenwriting front, too. A producer with fairly extensive credits is working with me and Scott O. Brown to develop a screenplay based around a comic we wrote eons ago that never got published. Actually, it's based on a concept SOB pitched solo that I was brought in to help co-write in a form quite a bit different than what he'd originally intended. Naturally, Mr. Bigtime Producer's take on the property is pretty much the one SOB'd originally wanted for it anyway, so now he gets to write the story he wanted to do in the first place, but he's got the dubious joy of having a co-writer he didn't have when he originally proposed the story. I'm actually kind of surprised he's still talking to me, now that I stop to think about it...

Last time I checked, I was quite proud of the comic version we wrote of the piece in question, and hope that we'll someday be able to get it out. SOB and I retain the rights to the underlying but non-existent comic property, which is potentially problematic, but realistically, we weren't exactly rocketing towards a finished comic as it was, and, well, if you want a career as a screenwriter (I'll take one as any kind of writer, even copy), when someone as big as Mr. Bigtime Producer's willing to develop a screenplay with you, you've kind of got to take the shot. Even if taking the shot is likely going to be hours and hours and hours of your time for no money upfront--a scenario I've been getting used to over the last ten years in general and the last year and a half especially.

In addition to that, the managers are working on notes for what I'm promised will be The Final Revision of the spec I've been working on for the year and a half this weekend, so that should hopefully see my part of that process come to a close soon, at least till someone wants to pay for rewrites. Well, not "wants to pay for rewrites" so much as "will pay for rewrites regardless of whether they want to or not." And I've also been given a deadline for a revision of the spec pilot I wrote a couple years back that everyone loved until they decided it needed to be changed significantly. And after that, I've got deadlines for the Christmas thing outline, the supernatural thing proposal, the other supernatural thing proposal (which I'm probably going to pull because "Hollywoodizing" it enough to make it sellable would turn it into something I don't really want to write.)

And when I'm not working on that stuff I've usually been painting. I really need to get some more hardboard to paint on. The 2x2 foot or less scale I've been forced to work in recently is really dragging me down. 3x4 feet's the minimum dimensions for a real painting. And someday I will get back to the art college scope of 6x10 feet...someday...

So that's why there hasn't been much blog activity from me lately. If the way this little note unspooled is any sign of what's to come, that might change in the near future. But I wouldn't count on it.

What's new with you?


Friday, February 26, 2010

This just in...

Bankers still @$$holes.


When everything's said and done (and I'd kind of like that to happen as soon as possible, please) this won't be remembered as a week in which dreadful things happened to me. In spite of that, I feel dreadful in pretty much every conceivable way. So I'm going to recycle some stuff I wrote for/to the guys at Happy Harbor about February's Previews magazine. Each month HH employees are asked to make a couple of suggestions (plus an alternate in case there's overlap) for what they think customers might want to pay special attention to in the latest Diamond catalogue. This last time out, I wrote my picks and then kinda kept going for a bit...

STAR WARS OMNIBUS: A LONG TIME AGO... VOLUME ONE, by a whole lotta folks. As a reader, nostalgia very rarely drives me to buy anything, especially comics. There's so much awesome new stuff out there to be found, and I'm, like, the exact opposite of wealthy. And let's face it, if I'm really in a mood to try and recapture the rush of excitement I got from, say, Claremont and Byrne's Dark Phoenix saga or Frank Miller's Daredevil stuff, well, I do pull a few hours a week behind the counter at a comic shop. Once Jay's drunk himself into an insensate coma (usually happens by around 2:00), provided the vacuuming's done, there isn't a whole lot stopping me from plucking a trade off the shelf or something out of the back issue bins to remind myself of the appallingly bad taste I had as a boy. You can't go home again, and the days of me being heart-palpitatingly excited to find the latest issue of New Teen Titans hidden on the spinner rack at Patton's Place are gone, gone, gone. Having said all that, this Star Wars Omnibus, reprinting the first 26 issues of Marvel's original Star Wars series--which, as it happens, are among the first comics I read, actively sought out and collected--hits all my ageing fanboy happy buttons. ALL OF THEM, every single one. And at 25 yankee dollars, I can almost afford it. Even if I couldn't--I mean, come on, the first storyline after Star Wars proper features a humanoid green rabbit bounty hunter fighting alongside a delusional old librarian who thinks he's a Jedi Knight named Don-Wan Kihotay. DON-WAN KIHOTAY. It works on so many levels! So yeah, I don't care if I am buying this for all the wrong reasons (as I recall, Jabba the Hutt in this version is a tall, skinny, purple walrus guy. Which is an improvement over a glaringly obvious CGI inserted slug, really.) I MUST HAVE IT.
BEASTS OF BURDEN, by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. You know what's fun? Reading the entire Previews catalogue looking for a couple of suggestions for stuff Happy Harbor customers want to buy, only to discover that your two picks both appear in the first fifty pages of the FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY+ PAGE BOOK. But what can you do? From the classic Star Wars Omnibus to this almost brand-spanking new book, Dark Horse is where it's at this month. With the kind of high concept that inspires burning envy in those of us who didn't think of it first, from what I've seen so far, this tale of a bunch of dogs (plus a cat) taking on supernatural menaces in their neighbourhood is possibly the cutest horror comic ever created. What I've seen so far consists of the first issue of the four issue miniseries this 8x11" hardcover collects (along with several previous short stories that appeared in the various Dark Horse Book of (scary things) series, if I understand things correctly). Having read that first issue, I realized this one was a keeper, something I was going to want to own as a collected edition, and now here it comes--maybe, POSSIBLY just in time to get artist Jill Thompson to sign it when she appears at the Calgary Expo in April. Fingers crossed.
TURF #1, by Jonathan Ross and Tommy Lee Edwards: "A hardboiled noir crime thriller with guns, fangs and aliens." The solicitation might as well be, "Hey, Andrew Foley! READ THIS COMIC!" How creepy would that be if that actually was the solicitation? For me, I mean, for you it would probably just be an oddity to be frowned over briefly and then forgotten. Anyway. If the pitch wasn't enough to get me interested, and artist Tommy Lee Edwards weren't enough to get me interested, the sample pages would probably be enough to get me interested. For a modern comic, there's a lotta text on those pages. If the full 22 pages is like the three on display here, this is going to be a two-bathroom trip read, minimum. That might frustrate some readers, but for me it says the creators are trying to give the pamphlet-reading audience something they can sink their teeth into. I like that, even if there are occasions where the writer's reach exceeds the artist's grasp and word balloons end up cropping artwork that I'd kind of like to see more of, as occurs in the very first panel of the first sample page. Still, I'd rather have creators try and put too much in and not quite make it than have them not bother trying to push the limits of what the comic page can comfortably hold at all.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: RISE OF ARSENAL #2: Hey, when did Winter Soldier join the DC Universe? ...Sorry, couldn't resist.
DV8: GODS & MIONSTERS #1: On the one hand, I promised myself I wouldn't flag something just because of the cover. On the other hand, I promised myself I'd shamelessly hype the wonder and glory that is Fiona Staples at every possible opportunity. What should I do, Happy Harborites? WHAT SHOULD I DO?!?!?!?
IMAGE FIRSTS: YOUNGBLOOD #1: Because finding a cheap copy of Youngblood #1 is SO. FREAKING. HARD.
ARMAGEDDON NOW: ANTI-CHRIST: Jesus, who wrote this solicitation copy? "Anti-Christ" is hyphenated IN THE TITLE and they can't be bothered to use a dash in the solicits? And "Corbin pursues Jada assassin in Rome."? How would the world work if everyone actually talked like that? "Hey, Jay comic shop owner. How's it going?" "Not bad, Andrew comic shop tillmonkey and sometime writer. How's your wife, Tiina graphic designer?" "She's good. Right now she's taking Data dog and Dare puppydog for a walk." Oy. It's times like this I'm glad my Allah is the Flying Spaghetti-Monster...
PROJECT SUPERPOWERS: CHAPTER TWO #10: In this issue: superheroes nobody remembers play jacks in a futuristic subway station!
THE PHANTOM: GHOST WHO WALKS #10: In this issue, an obese Phantom takes a long hard look at himself and decides to make some changes. Be here next month for the start of brand-new series THE PHANTOM: GHOST WHO JOGS.
SPELL CHECKERS, VOLUME ONE: Teen witches in high school, in a manga-influenced art style. My nieces will LOVE THIS.
MERC: BROKEN WORLD #3: I would bet five dollars pencils aren't finished on this already-solicited comic. Prove me wrong, Dan Schneider. Prove me wrong.
PREVIEWS PAGE 338 & 339: There is nothing on these two pages that is not wrong, wrong, "abomination in the eyes of God" WRONG.
NEW AVENGERS #64: "Plus the fate of the one they call Mockingbird!" Anyone want to give odds it's better than the fate of the one they called Wasp? And what happens if she dies and Hawkeye takes over her superhero identity (which is the style of the times), and then he's got a fate? What do they say then, "Plus the fate of the OTHER one they call Mockingbird!"?
FIRESTAR #1: Because somebody demanded it? Incidentally, Angelica Jones wasn't JUST a "friend." She was an AMAZING friend.
DEADPOOL CORPS #1: I hope you guys are wearing steel-toed boots, because if you aren't, sooner or later you're going to have to stop kicking that horse.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #630: Chris Bachalo drawing the Lizard. That is tempting...
NEW AVENGERS MGC #1: Now you can read the first issue of the title whose last issue we solicited a few pages ago! (Still the best comic of the cheap cover price MGC bunch, though. At least for this month.)
NEW AVENGERS: LUKE CAGE #1 (of 3): "So for the cover, what you do is you take this HELLBOY image, flip it around, lose the goggles--oh, those are horns? Well, whatever they are, they're gone. And you make the skin black instead of red and the big hand thing silver, but only, like, the arm part, the hand itself can be black too. Oh, and make sure it's got the right number of fingers." (All joking about the cover aside, I am a fan of Eric Canete's art and will probably check this out on that basis alone.)
DAREDEVIL #506: Hey Marvel? For future reference, there's no H in "Antony".
NEMESIS #2: "The most talked-about new series of 2010 rages on!" So Millar and McNiven's Nemesis is part of the Watchmen sequel/prequel thing? Got to admit, I did not see that one coming.
DARK REIGN: HAWKEYE TPB: Hey Marvel? For future reference, there's an "Antony Johnston" in "Antony Johnston".


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I can haz payntbrush?

There's a couple posts I've been wanting to write, but I've been neck deep in revising the screenplay yet again, so instead you get photos of four of my last five attempts at painting. I'm only even remotely happy with one of them. Can you guess which?

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Future is Four Days Ago

The Future of Story conference took place at the Grant Macewan Arts Centre this past Friday and Saturday. I was there, largely because I was invited to speak on a panel Saturday afternoon. This was nice, because I'd have wanted to go anyway if I'd known it was happening prior to being invited, and now I got to go for free. I didn't even have to pay for parking or gas, because the arts centre is literally two and a half blocks from my front door.

No question, this was a sweet deal for yours truly, and I used all the skills I learned as an art student to take advantage of the opportunity, descending on the cheese platters like a living god of the locusts and mostly enjoying the "two dollars for everything" cash bar (I say mostly because the first night I paid two bucks for a can of Sprite Zero. EVERYTHING cost a toonie...)

Even without the free food and the cheap booze, it would've been a worthwhile experience. For me, anyway. Mileages seem to be varying, judging from the reactions I've encountered, largely at the twitter #futureofstory feed, which I blanket-bombed Saturday night with 20-some tweets after the conference, relating the most interesting, inflammatory, and/or bizarre statements I'd written down during the programming I attended.

I don't know that I've got much to say about the specifics of what I saw. Keynote speaker and BONES creator/showrunner Hart Hanson's talk on Friday night was easily the highlight of the weekend, and some thoughtful person has transcribed the whole thing online. Well worth reading for anyone looking to create stories for a mass audience; perhaps a little frustrating for those of a more, for lack of a better word, artistic bent.

In between cheese cubes, I got to talk one on one with Hanson for a couple minutes, during which he advised me to, basically, be really happy about Cowboys & Aliens being written by Kurtzman and Orci. "You should be happy," he said, or something close to it, "Happier than you seem to be." And this was after I'd had a couple beers; I thought I was acting pretty happy already. Perhaps I'm not as enigmatic and inscrutable a figure as I strive to portray.

In addition to Mr. Hanson's presentation Friday, I saw a panel called (I believe) "Creating the 21st Century Writer" entirely by accident. I'd thought I was going to the panel about new journalism, but had aimed myself at the room specified in the program, rather than the one in the revised schedule. I don't think I was the only one, either. By the time I figured out I wasn't where I was supposed to be, I was already ensconced in the back row of the room. Exit options were limited; I didn't think I'd feel comfortable lugging all the stuff I hadn't had a chance to get coatchecked out right in front of the panelists.

The only panel I saw on Saturday (note: I didn't see mine--I went into my public appearance fugue state at the beginning and was pretty much lost to reality for the next hour and a bit...) that I think went anywhere near the implied topic of the conference followed, this one dealing with reality television. Some juicy quotes there, most of which I failed to record because my pen died an ignominious death and when it comes to portable technology I'm one step removed from carving stuff on stone tablets.

There then came the alt-narrative panel which I was on and which was, to my surprise, actually attended. Three other panels were happening simultaneously, one of which featured Hart Hanson; I was semi-convinced nobody was going to come to ours, but as it turned out the room was not entirely devoid of non-panelist human life.

With one exception, I have no idea what I actually said during the panel. I'm still foggy on what a couple of the other panelists actually do (I write comics, Mike Laidlaw writes videogames, Kim Clegg and Ava Karvonen are involved with all sorts of multimedia platform development but I'm not clear what that involvement entails and probably don't even have the vocabulary to grasp it fully.)

One thing I do recall is suggesting that I could think of two ways to determine when the alternative becomes the mainstream, and one of those ways was when it started making money. Beyond that, it's all a haze of me being nervous and computers failing to work properly (for a minute, Mr. Hard Copy here was looking PRET-ty good with his old-fashioned comic books to hand around, I think...) ("Hardcopy" would be a great name for a hard-boiled detective, wouldn't it? Needs a sidekick, though. "This week, on HARDCOPY & McCOOL: When they investigate the death of the Archibishop of Canterbury, a mysterious figure from Hardcopy's past appears, threatening his friendship with McCool!")

After that, there was just the Crotchety Old Peop--er, A Word from the Wise panel. A distinguished panel of authors, all winners of the Governor-General's Award, but perhaps an odd note on which to close something called The Future of Story.

It was only after that last panel that I was able to put my finger on the second of two tensions that seem to me to have underpinned much of the overall conference. The first of these, introduced by Hart Hanson during his opening address, and one that's of perpetual interest to me, was the tension between the artist and the entertainer. Hanson, refreshingly, made no bones about his role as an entertainer (though I might dispute his characterization of art, even as it relates to narrative.) It was nice to see someone unconcerned with the pretense that they were creating something "more" important than entertainment, who nevertheless obviously takes the creation of entertainment very seriously. Well, it was obvious to me; Hanson's lecture was full of humour and self-deprecation, which I suppose could be interpreted by some as his being less than fully invested creatively in what he does (even if he point-blank said otherwise.)

This attitude stood out in stark contrast to many, if not all, of the 21st Century Writer and Word from the Wise panelists, who seemed to go to great pains to portray what they do as Important. Also important to them and, I gather, folks like bookseller Laurie Greenwood: the format in which what they do is received. Which brings me to the second tension: the schism between new and old, especially as it relates to media.

This divide between old and new wasn't immediately obvious to me during the conference itself. It should have been, with comments floating around like Sophie Lees' "Blogging is the antithesis of craft"--a notion so ridiculous I want to give her the benefit of the doubt and interpret it as a deliberately provocative statement designed to inspire discussion. Even her fellow panelists pointed out that not all blog posts are unedited, ill-thought out ramblings (which is in no way meant to imply this one isn't exactly that), and I believe one even said they stopped their blogging activity because it was taking too much effort to polish their posts.

But it wasn't obvious to me, not until I got back Saturday night and read the twitters under the #futureofstory hashtag. It seemed at the time that a good portion of them were arguing a position that the tweeters didn't feel was sufficiently represented on the panels they were watching, that of the early adopter of technology.

(As an aside, I've never wanted to have reliable mobile internet access in my life so much as I did this weekend--two or three people were livetweeting the event and it would have been fascinating to follow the online conversation in realtime with the panels and speakers being discussed. It's almost enough for me to wish I had a cellphone.)

At least one of the livetweeters seemed somewhat offended by a conference named The Future of Story focusing to the degree it did on the past, at least when it came to narrative delivery platforms. And honestly, judging from statements attributed to some of the panelists by the (admittedly likely to be at least somewhat biased) twitterers, I can understand why.

Now, I like books, and, for what it's worth, I think of a books as printed objects substantively different from an electronic document containing the same information. Someone tweeted something to the effect that a book isn't a format, the implication (quite possibly made explicit, I can't remember) being that an e-book is also a book. I'd go as far as to say a novel's not a format, but a book is and so is a digital document--but that's a semantic argument that probably isn't worth having.

An argument that maybe is worth having is whether the book as an object is going to be a viable delivery platform going forward, as opposed to digital documents conveyed via some form of monitor, be it a computer, cellphone, e-reader or whatever new shiny thing comes next. When someone with a vested interest in print media claims a kid can only be taught to read via text on paper--that's a questionable position and it's one that I'm not sure was as thoroughly questioned as it could have been (I wasn't at the panel in question, though, and am basing that on commentary tweets).

I don't think it's out of line for people who don't mind, or even prefer, to read books on monitors to take offense at someone implies or even outright states that their platform preference is somehow less... valid? Authentic? Just plain less?--than "real books" because kindles don't smell like fresh ink on old parchment. As I seem to recall saying in my panel, I'm leery of assigning a sweeping value judgment to something that isn't inherently good or bad, but simply is. Could I read an entire book on a kindle? I don't know, but, financial issues aside, I wouldn't mind finding out.

Even if I didn't, even if the only way I could read a book was if it had physical pages, it would be unbelievably arrogant to try and claim a position of authority on the matter of how books ought to be read based on nothing more than some combination of personal preference, ingrained habit, and wishful thinking. I can actually see the face my niece would make at me if I tried to tell her it's wrong to read something online if a print version's available. It's the face young people make at old people who've said something particularly stupid; she makes that face at me a lot.

I find it unfortunate that the conference didn't explore this friction between old and new in much depth, at least not on the programming I saw. Instead, each panel tended to be filled with people of like mind--in terms of diversity of activity and possibly opinion, the alt-narrative panel quite possibly contained the most variety of any of the programming. Which, depending on the intended goals of the conference, could actually have been part of the point. If an attendee or student wanted to find out about reality television, they would go to the reality TV panel, where reality TV people talked about reality TV. It was only during the question and answer session afterwards that a couple basic assumptions of a reality television producer faced any sort of challenge. One questioner, who assumed those wanting to appear on such a show were too naive to understand what they were setting themselves up for, clearly felt the whole thing was a moral cesspit; one exec's blase response to viewers suggesting she should have contacted childrens social services regarding a {I assume} parent's treatment of a child on one of their shows--basically, "our job is to document lives, not interfere with them (more than necessary to maximize the drama)"--left me feeling uneasy. Part of me wishes those were the kinds of subjects discussed during the panel proper, rather than the Q&A session afterwards.

All that said, there's a reasonable chance students and other interested parties walked out of the reality television panel with a better understanding of "unscripted programming", and a better chance still they wouldn't have walked out with the same sort of potentially useful information if the panel had instead featured a reality producer squaring off against someone who doesn't think a reality show involves actual writing. Such a set-up would be dramatically different, and perhaps more along the lines of what some expected/wanted. Certainly there seemed to be some frustration among the online contingent towards a perceived imbalance between those who insist print is inherently superior to digital content.

All of which amounts to what, exactly? Everyone I interacted with seemed to agree that the conference made little, if any, progress towards answering any substantive questions regarding the future of story. (In a conversation post-conference a student suggested that, inspired by things like Twitter/facebook/email/blogging, extreme brevity could become the next big thing when it comes to literary style. I found that an interesting idea, even if it actually happening would pretty much dump me in with the dinosaurs, no matter how much I accept and support new media platforms.)

But really, how could anyone, any gathering of people, hope to provide concrete answers about the future of a concept as ephemeral as "story"? While there probably could have been more detailed discussion about what the future (as opposed to the present and arguably the past) hold for narrative forms, things are moving way too fast for anyone to be able to speak confidently about what's coming down the pipe. As Gloria Sawai said, regarding the conference's subject, "Am I supposed to know that?"

For my part, I'm glad I got to take part. If I don't agree with all (or even most) of what I heard said this past weekend, it was still a positive joy to be among those who think about what story is now, and what it might become.


PS: The Macewan Arts Centre has the worst pop machines in the entire universe. I swear, the entire building was conspiring to prevent me from getting my hands on a Coke Zero, which every other machine claimed to have as part of its offerings. One machine was out of CZ, one was out of everything, another wouldn't accept my money, and yet another had a sign on it declaring that while it would technically give me a Coke Zero, the cooling mechanism on the machine was broken, so the pop would be hot (not just warm, but hot.)

PPS: Also, the mens bathroom nearest to the cafeteria? Ridiculously hard to get to. Only way I managed was by getting a student to show me where it was, and I honestly don't think I could find it again.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I wanna party with the California republicans who came up with Carly Fiorina's new attack video.

There's a rumour that DC is considering commissioning the creation of WATCHMEN comic book prequels/sequels/spinoffs. If it's true--and I'm cynical enough to believe it's at least being seriously considered, even if common sense prevails and it never materializes--I'm guessing they'll move heaven and earth to get Dave Gibbons' unqualified and very public support. That's the only way I can see this not resulting in Dan DiDio being dragged out of a DC Nation panel and strung up from a San Diego lamppost by a mob of irate fans.

If they can't get Gibbons to back the play, the only non-Alan Moore Big Two comic creator I can think of working today who might stand a snowball's chance in hell of making such an idea transcend the creatively bankrupt moneygrab it clearly is at the corporate level is Grant Morrison. It seems to me almost any creator who would be foolhardy enough to attempt to follow one of the greatest superhero comic book stories of all time would find their efforts overshadowed pretty much all aspects by the original work, while being boxed in by them.

I generally enjoy the comics work of guys like Brian Bendis and Warren Ellis, but off the top of my head, Morrison's the only one of the North American mainstream who's even come close to Moore when it comes to focusing on, and pushing, the formal qualities of superhero comic narrative. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he seemingly isn't content to simply tell Very Good Superhero Comic Stories--he wants to refine and redefine the medium he's working in. Depending on your tastes, that drive may lead to good or bad or disastrously awful comics, but the general attitude seems to me very similar to what Moore and Gibbons had in mind when they created the Watchmen.

Morrison's respectful enough of what's gone before to want to honour it, while not letting himself be confined by it. If a Watchmen follow-up is going to work on a creative level, that's the kind of creative approach that's required.


If they do go forward with multiple Watchmen-related projects, they could do a lot worse than getting Paul Grist involved. I can't believe the similarities between Jack Staff's narrative construction and Watchmen's never occurred to me till now (and it's been awhile since I read either)(where the hell is Jack Staff V4, anyway? That thing's like, half a year late now...)


But on the whole, I hope they don't go forward with any Watchmen-related projects. The movie alone shows the folly of even attempting to follow it up.


Come to think of it, one of the screenwriters did mention he had an idea for a sequel, which he told Alan Moore during the LAST CONVERSATION THEY EVER HAD, EVER.


Also, on an unrelated topic, Peter Sprigg is a moron. (via mightygodking)


Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Still not really in a mood to blog, really, but I'm starting to feel guilty about not writing much of anything for the last couple months (not strictly true--there were a few pitches, a film treatment, and a metric ton of e-mail, but that stuff doesn't really count). And I don't know how to transfer images from the camera to the computer (I don't much like two of the three paintings I've done since the last time I posted images anyway), so you get this update-y thing instead.

My mood continues to be in the toilet. Actually, that's not true. In its more ambitious moments, my mood aspires to rise to the level of being in the toilet. Why the malaise? Let's see. There's...

1) The obvious reason. I had a near-breakdown during a lunch meeting this afternoon when someone mentioned they'd spent the night at the hospital with their father, who's just suffered a stroke. The bereavement counseling is either interesting or a bunch of useless hippydippy crap depending on my outlook during a given minute.

2) The usual reasons. My winter headache's just kicking the crap out of me this week, the financial insecurity of the freelance life seems particularly insecure at the moment, blah blah blah...

3) The semi-usual reasons. With all the other stuff going on (or not, as the case may be) trying a new medication, even one for migraines (DIDN'T WORK) probably wasn't the best idea. Not getting a decent night's sleep for more than a week adds a couple degrees of suck to everything.

4) The new stuff--which isn't mine to air publicly, but which is having its impact all the same.

Stepping back from all the crap and looking at life with as objective an eye as I can manage, most of the actually important stuff is solid (with one glaring exception, but there's nothing to do about that but go on) and the slightly less important stuff is going in the right direction, albeit with its usual glacial speed.

New people are interested in the spec. People who matter in Hollywood. Which means more notes, which means more work for, based on past experience, no money. But hey, people are interested, by golly! My managers are upbeat, but then, they're always upbeat. I don't know what they're snorting, but I want some. Anyway, one more draft and I'm done with that until someone hands me a cheque. I mean it this time.

In the meantime, there's actually been some movement on the comic writing front (as opposed to the comic editing front, which was much more lucrative this last year or two). Progress is being made towards getting one of my first books back into print at a reputable publisher. I've got a few pitches in to different places, and I'm generally making a nuisance of myself to the editors who're currently willing to talk to me. Is it possible to push your luck when the only luck you're having lately is bad? I'll let you know...

Olivia Wilde is in talks to co-star in the film version of Cowboys & Aliens. When word of this filtered down through the grapevine to me a week or two ago, I said, "That's interesting." But it wasn't interesting enough for me to go find out who Olivia Wilde actually was. Now I know she's "the sexy bisexual doctor on House" (thanks Steph {and Diane}), which part of me always knew was more likely to be true than what I chose to believe for the longest possible time: that she was that she was a porn star who was finally getting her big Hollywood break. Anyway, that's that rumour confirmed, which makes me think the other casting rumour for the film I've heard that hasn't gone wide yet is at least possible. That's name even I recognized.

Not that any of this makes me any money, at least not directly. But it does open a few doors a crack wider. It also floods my inbox with google alerts to stories that have my name in them but are so distant from my reality they might as well be on another planet. At least the stories do actually involve me, however remotely, as opposed to the alerts about the Andrew Foley who owns the bookstore in Sarasota or the British politician.

(Yes, I've got a google alert for my own name. My ego is Just. That. Big.)

What else?

I'm sure there's something, but I can't think of what it is, so I guess I'll just say Richard Cohen's a moron and go watch LOST.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Feel My Pain(ting)

There comes a time in a man's life when he says to himself, "Bugger this, I'm gonna paint me some vampires." For me, that time came Sunday afternoon and lasted through last night around 10:00.

I don't really know what possessed me to decide to paint these particular images, or attempt to paint, in the case of the first one. I'm not really happy with it, but noodling on it any further isn't going to make me any happier, so it's finished.

This was theoretically supposed to be an image of characters in a thing I've been picking away at for some time now--working entirely on the board with no reference was...not the best idea I ever had.

Disappointed with the way that one was turning out, I found some reference for the next and blasted it out really fast, at least for me. I've temporarily run out of masonite to paint on, so this is on a strathmore canvas paper pad that T found at Michaels for 75% off.

The takeaway from all this for me is, if I want to paint something more traditionally representative and less expressive--and that was the goal with these ones, largely to see if I actually could and if so, how hard it would be--I should find some reference to work from.


The Transcendental Op

Layouts for pages 4 to 6 of JESUS CHRIST, P.I. by "Sir" John Keane, Esquire.

Please don't ask about the "Sir" and "Esquire" stuff, because I have no idea...


Monday, January 18, 2010

The big brush-off

I hope everyone's 2010 is off to a good start. Mine's been a bit rocky...

Based on my not blogging, or even tweeting much, recently, people have been asking if I'm all right (the answer's not really, no but thanks for the concern.) And some of those people haven't been my mother, which tells me I really must post something to prove I haven't died.

So: I haven't died. I just don't really want to blog right now, for a couple of reasons, one good, one not so good.

The reason I've decided is, on balance, a good thing is that I've started painting I've started painting again. Whether anyone else thinks that's a good thing remains to be seen, and I've got to admit, I'm of two minds on the whole thing myself. I've missed painting, more than I realized till I started doing it again. It's a completely different activity than writing, one that pushes my happy buttons a lot more frequently. It's also habit-forming; the more I do it, the more I want to do it, which means the less I do other things, like update my blog and, er, maintain contact with humans I don't personally live with. It hasn't completely derailed my professional writing activity yet, but if I'm not careful, I can see it becoming an actual threat to it. Which is, at least in part, why I stopped doing it in the first place.

Anyway, depending on where you're reading this, you should either be able to see a couple of the things I've done over the last little while. If you can't see them and the links aren't working, I'll post the urls at the bottom of the post in case you just can't live without seeing my artistic genius in flower.

The one above I'm pretty happy with. At least as happy as I'm going to be, considering the subject matter.

While the next one is very much a work in progress. I don't know that I'm going to be able to make it work to my own aesthetic satisfaction, but the great joy of painting is that I can expend a ridiculous amount of time before I realize that and decide to let it go.

The other reason I haven't been posting is because I don't have anything I really want to say publicly at the moment. I've generally used this thing to express what's on my mind, and what's on my mind is usually pretty silly and/or frivolous. Which is all well and good most of the time; I generally like silly and frivolous things. However, it has on occasion led me to employ hyperbole and exaggeration to certain aspects of my life, which is why if you go back far enough you can probably find a few thousand words from me lamenting the toe I stubbed this morning or lambasting some telemarketer for foolishly attempting to ply their trade on the Wrong Guy.

The posts I wrote in December were among the most honest things I've ever written, and I don't regret putting them in the public eye. But they were written in reaction to events that were happening around me at the time. Now I have to deal with the aftermath, and at the moment, I don't really want to do that publicly. I can't see the value in doing so, for me or those dozen or so people who read this stuff. I definitely don't want to diminish what I and my family are dealing with by treating it roughly the same way I'd treat the new dog doing his impression of the Dresden bombings in our living room.

There's only one thing worth blogging about right now, and it's the one thing I don't really want to talk about, so I'm not. And that's why things have been quiet here and will likely remain so for a while yet (though I will try and post art as it comes in. I've got three more pages of John Keane roughs for JESUS CHRIST, PI I expect to post in the next day or two. So that's something to look forward to.)