Monday, July 30, 2007

The XX-Chromosome Factor

Yesterday on her blog, Lea Hernandez, creator of numerous OEL manga comics (before OEL was the hip thing to do) and outspoken commentator/critic on the state of the comics industry, took issue with the management of DC's Minx Comic Line (which is, at least in theory, aimed at girls and Young Female Adults).

The first thing that struck me about her complaint--that managing editors "Shelly Bond and Karen Berger would rather have a performance artist writing a girl's comic than a woman who's actually written comics "--is its familiarity.

Bemoaning the fact that the comics industry is more interested in bringing writers in from other media than working with and developing talent that actually, you know, wants to write comics, is hardly uncommon in the lower echelons of the creative hierarchy. I know because I'm in those lower echelons, and I have, on occasion, been frustrated, even vocally so, that the most efficient way to get a comic writing job these days seems to be to get a cult television show on the air. Or direct a movie. Or write a novel. Or create anything other than comics. Which is what I really want to write (but no longer feel I can afford to, exclusively. I may not be able to sell a spec screenplay, but it doesn't seem like the odds of selling it are substantially worse than those of getting a comic picked up, and the pay-off if something in another medium does get picked up stands to be considerably higher.)

That said, I certainly understand at least some of the reasoning behind companies going to these other media for talent:

-There's a presumption that writers from other media have some idea of how to construct a story (whether it's a story suitable for comics is another matter, and apparently a more or less irrelevant one.)

-There's the plain fact that those writers must have learned their craft from some readng material other than comics (something many of those aspiring to create comics honestly can't say.)

-There's the desire to pull new audience members for comics from other media.

I’d think it’s that last point that’s most important to the mainstream comic companies. Lea and I and the countless other people who are, or aspire to be, comic creators can get as pissed off about the situation as we want, but for those at the Big Two, commerce trumps artistic integrity almost every time. And even from a creator’s standpoint, Buffy Season 8 and Stephen King's Comic Based On A Ten Minute Conversation in Marvel's Office One Time are arguably important books to have available in the direct market, just to remind companies there actually is an audience for stories that don’t involve unrealistically proportioned characters wearing their underwear outside their pants.

So why is Minx making the choices it is in terms of content and promotion? Presumably for the same reason they claim to have chosen the Minx name in the first place--economics (in that case, market research apparently indicated Minx received the best response from the target audience of the options mentioned.)

Lea comments: “It's hard to spend so long putting up with comics business shit, helping to build an audience of female readers and female-friendly works, putting out work for that audience, constantly insisting on the existence of that audience, and constantly defending the viability of that audience--and along comes DC/Minks making comics for that audience the same way they make comics for guys.”

At the risk of showing my gender, I have some difficulty understanding why this is a problem for Lea. Surely the existence of Minx goes to show that, to some degree, her efforts have borne fruit. She’s won the argument, inasmuch as no less a pop-cultural instituation than TimeWarner has acknowledged the existence and viability of the audience Lea’s helped build. Off the top of my head, I can’t think what more she could realistically hope for from what is, at the end of the day, still the company that publishes Countdown and All-Star Batman and, oh, come on, Robin the Boy Wonder Wasn't Even In The Latest Issue.

Minx Editors Shelly Bond and Karen Berger have, at a conservative estimate, 30 years of editorial experience between them. Whatever else can be said of them, they know how to make comics, they know how DC makes comics, and they apparently know how to get comics made at DC--even comics that do not fit into the traditional DC mold. They are making comics for Lea’s audience…why is how they make those comics an issue?

Says Lea: “It might be girl's comics, but it's the same old way of making comics with the dubious addition of apparent distaste for female comics writers. (Male comics writers seem to be dandy, as there's not a single man on the line who came from without comics.)”

Early on, when the creative gender imbalance in the Minx line was pointed out, one of the editors (I think it was Bond, but I could be wrong) claimed that several female creators were approached. Why aren’t more of them in the line? I can see a few possible reasons, all, to my mind, more likely than a distaste of Minx’s female editors for female comic creators.

First is the possibility that female creators took a look at what Minx was offering and said, “No thanks.” I’m not aware of what sort of ownership or participation Minx offers its creators for their intellectual property--perhaps those who were approached figured they could get a better deal elsewhere, or already had one. Perhaps they were more comfortable working with more traditionally female-friendly companies, or putting their work online and retaining all rights. In short, maybe female creators aren’t as desperate to work for DC as their male counterparts tend to be.

Another possibility is unpalatable because of its implications, but must be considered: maybe, independent of gender considerations, Bond and Berger just liked the projects they selected better than the other options. If one wanted to be cynical (and really, it’s comics, so why on earth wouldn’t one?), one could argue that this preference is the unfortunate result of the previously mentioned years of experience editing comics for DC--Berger and Bond have lost the ability to see quality in non-mainstream comics writers’ work.

Personally, though, I suspect the decision is primarily an economic one. Female comic creators, in and of themselves, are not seen as adding sufficient star power to a package to make it worth Minx’s effort, while the male creators are perceived as having a comics fanbase that will follow them from their more traditional North American mainstream work to Minx stuff.

If that’s the case, it could, again, be predicated on a flawed perception of the audience, resulting from the editors’ time in the mainstream comic trenches. Or it could be an accurate but unfortunate perception that Bond and Berger, as part of the Time-Warner machine, feel they simply have to accept and deal with--unlike Lea, who works mostly independently and therefore is largely unfettered by interference from above.

In any event, if that were to be the case, it would explain why they seem to have aggressively pursued female creators outside the medium, while “settling” for male creators that come from within it.

Other comments from Lea:
“I ask, again, how Shelly Bond can look at girls reading manga and make something completely unlike that and expect to capture that audience?”

In conversations with various mainstream editors over the last year, I’ve noticed in many a tendency to focus on manga as a format above all else. The theory--and it does seem to be one that’s being put forward even by traditionally manga-focused publishers as they move into OEL books--is that the audience has been “trained” to accept a certain format as acceptable reading material (in much the same way many North American mainstream comic readers have been indoctrinated into accepting the 32-page floppy format as “real” comics.)

From that perspective, Minx is not “completely unlike” manga. Their books’ pages are smaller than the traditional North American comic; they’re black & white; they’re thicker than traditional NA comics; they’ve got a spine; they aren’t focused on superheroes; they’re being made for girls, even if they aren’t being made by them. Whether this is sufficient to draw the manga audience away from “real” manga remains to be seen, but it’s the logic many companies seem to be pursuing lately--if only because they want to get their fingers into the intellectual property pie original work they commission (rather than license from a third party) might bring them.

“…why NOT mention Kwitney's worked on a Sandman title? Why emphasize her novel writing, which is not juvenile or YA?”

My best guess: because it’s been around a decade since DESTINY came out, the series had minimal if any impact on Sandman continuity or the fanbase, and that these days Kwitney is simply better known as a novelist than a comics writer or editor. Or, to put it another way, for the same reason the PR doesn’t mention Brian Wood’s work in the videogame industry.

I realize a lot of what I just put forward is nothing more than unconfirmed (and in all likelihood, effectively uncomfirmable) supposition, but much of what I’m responding to is nothing more than that, and in the case of the comments aimed at Bond and Berger, insulting supposition at that. At the end of the day, their job is to get books produced, not to get them produced the way Lea or anyone else (who can’t fire them) would prefer to see books aimed at the target audience made.

For me, ideally, each book would be successful or not based on its merits, rather than the gender of the creators.

But then, I'm at least nominally a guy. And one who wouldn't mind writing comics of any kind (other than "unpaid') for DC, at that.


(Lea's post found via Dirk Deppey's !journalista!)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

San Diego has come and gone, and I wasn't there. Passes sold out, meaning there were 130,000 or so people jammed into that giant sardine can. I have only one thing to say about not attending:


I must admit, I had some regrets at first--mostly revolving around missing an open bar. But honestly, there's not enough free liquor in the world to make me sorry I missed that mess.

It's going to be a couple days before everyone in the industry recovers and things can get moving again. I've got a ton of stuff on tap: scripting THE HOLIDAY MEN #1 for Nick, scripting a thing for another artist, working on the spec screenplay for the manager, working on SIX SHOTS for Fiona, pushing the manager to tell me what she thinks of the spec pilot script. Still got to put a final polish on the first volume MAXXED OUT! outline.

Busy busy busy. Not a lot of money coming in, but on the other hand the incredible amount that's usually going out around this time isn't leaving right now, so, could be better, could be worse.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007


First, DC Comics announced Zuda Comics, a new online venture that will apparently function more or less as Webcomic Idol. Creator-original work being submitted, judged by...well, judges, I guess, then, eventually, put online for the general public to vote on. The runners-up will get some sort of payment and lose none of the property rights to their creation (which is good); the winner will be given a contract to create their webcomic for DC for a year (which should also be good, but, but but...).

It wasn't long after the Zuda announcement that Virgin Comics announced an alliance with MySpace to create Coalition Comics, which, from the sounds of it, will be "created" by professionals, but guided by the audience--readers will be allowed to vote on the direction the story takes. It sounds an awful lot like the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books I used to love as a kid. Which mightn't be a bad idea, but what I've seen from Virgin so far doesn't make me think they're going to be aiming at 8-year-olds (which is unfortunate. Some comic company ought to aim at the Lost Demographic...)

IDW, which is, if I understand things correctly, the fifth-biggest direct market comic publisher, has been bought outright by IDT/Zedge Studios, a company that "develops and licenses original content for distribution through online and mobile platforms." Mobile phone content hasn't even really started in North America yet, and I'm already sick of hearing about it. The whole thing just reeks of Underpants Gnomes thinking: "1. create comics for cellphones, 2. ????, 3. Profit."

All that said, I'm also the guy who can't fathom people text-messaging each other when they could, you know, use the phone in their hands to talk to the person they're trying to reach for less money. (The exception to this is the San Diego Comic Con, which is noisy enough to make texting the only way to get one's point across to the person on the other end.)

Oh well, eventually everyone with a cellphone will develop tumors and die and I'll be living in cave in a hill somewhere in Bavaria and I'll be laughing, laughing...

TokyoPop has a newly revamped site, which includes a new online strategy. I haven't read the article yet--just noticed it--but the description of the article seemed relevant...

And while all this is going on, one of the last comic distributor hold-outs from the '90s crash, Cold Cut Distribution, is on the auction block--and the idea that it could be transitioned from comics into distributing something, well, lucrative is apparently a selling point.

Apparently, some people are coming to the conclusion that there's money in them thar PeeSees. And there is, as the guys behind PvP and PENNY ARCADE can tell you. Is there sufficient cash to turn over a profit big enough for a major corporation to see this stuff as a success? I want to answer that question with "How many dotcom millionaires does it take to screw in a lightbulb?", but honestly, I'm not sure what I'd mean if I did that.

In any event, Big Question #1 is, I think, how long a view are these guys taking with the online stuff? Are they going to be willing to pretty much hemmorhage money for years paying (at an absolute minimum) editorial and bandwidth costs?

I have a hard time seeing it, but then, my (very limited) experiences with wealthy people is they really, intensely dislike losing it for substantial periods of time. Which probably has something to do with why they're wealthy in the first place, I suppose. That's sound from a financial standpoint, but the comics industry is not for people who aren't ridiculously passionate about comics. It's not even for most of those who are, as the number of dead and dying small press publishers in the direct market will attest.

Over on his weekly Newsarama interview, Joe Quesada questioned whether webcomics creators would actually benefit substantially from taking part in Zuda. He's obviously assuming the creator will be effectively cut out of the intellectual property picture once they "win." It's Siegel and Shuster for the New Millennium.

It may be as cut and dried as that when all is said and done, but I'm not of a mind to speculate on what sort of deal Zuda's going to offer. And I don't have to, as it's been repeatedly stated that the details of the contract will be posted publicly in due time. Which is kind of a ballsy thing for a major corporation to do, in my book. If creators aren't given complete and utter ownership and control of their intellectual property as well as some kind of up-front payment, you can believe someone in the comics blogosphere's going to be talking about how much DC/Zuda's deal sucks.

Quesada's point isn't a bad one, however. I'll admit, I'm not particularly up-to-date on my webcomics (health issues limit my time at the computer and I've got work I should be doing when I'm able to use one), but it seems to me that webcomics success stories have come from individuals, or small groups of individuals, following their passion and doing their own things. And it seems likely to me, though I haven't checked into it, that each creator has his or her own vision of what constitutes "success."

I've heard tell of a free online comic whose creator made a decent living out of merchandise. Another group's got their own technology-oriented convention going. Act-I-Vate makes its members' comics available online for free, and has had a significant number of their projects picked up for print publication from various companies.

In all those cases, success is measured by creators, not companies. This could be a problem, esp. given the "jumping in with both feet" vibe I'm getting from at least DC and Virgin.

Also problematic is the desire to create what will presumably be a fairly sizable online community out of whole cloth. Platinum Studios bought out precisely because it was a large online comics community that had developed more or less organically (I believe that's how it developed, anyway, I could be wrong.) The audience for work is there (even if it's not being taken maximum advantage of at this time.) It looks to me like DC and Virgin are looking to pull an audience almost out of thin air; I suspect much of DC's traditional fanbase isn't particularly interested in webcomics, while those who like webcomics are going to be leery of a company perceived to be coming onto their turf and acting like a bigshot. And what if DC throws an online party and...nobody shows up? It could be COUNTDOWN all over again.

(Sorry DC--I couldn't resist. On the upside, I think Mike Carlin's rumoured plan to feature some marquee creators will probably get the numbers back up a bit.)

To make matters, worse, Zuda and Coalition both seem to hinge on audience participation, and that idea really does make my creator's blood curdle.

Coalition seems to be set up to appeal to a fanfic mentality: here are the characters, now they can do anything you, the reader/"co-creator" want them to. ANYTHING.

Well, probably not anything. I'll be very surprised if they ever offer Option D) The two leading male characters strip naked and have graphic sex with one another. Which is a shame, in some ways. In for a penny, in for a pounding, as my Grandmother never, ever, evvvvver said.

My point, however, stands: as anyone who's run a (tabletop) roleplaying campaign with an eye towards storytelling can tell you, given any kind of option, the players will always, always make the wrong one, from a storytelling standpoint. It's the difference between macro and micro points of view; their concern is for their characters, the referee's is for the story. By the same token, in an ideal world, the reader cares and invests emotionally in characters, but it's the creator's vision which is ultimately executed on the page.

Also worrisome is the "Community Votes" aspect of Zuda. Unless Zuda's audience is HUGE, it seems likely to me that the "winning" entries will have less to do with quality of the work than with how popular a given creator is or how hard they try to get out the vote. I'm guessing DC's clause allowing them to select work for acquisition that doesn't win the voting is some sort of insurance against someone working the system that way.

The upside of Zuda is pretty obvious: first you get your stuff looked at by professional editors. Then you have the potential of making actual money creating your comic, as well as a built-in audience on a scale a group like, say, The Chemistry Set, can't manage without the marketing budget and sheer presence of the DC brand. It could be the start of Something Big for a creator.

But it could more easily not be the start of much at all. I foresee a lot of crappy comics and crushed dreams, and while those crappy comics and crushed dreams might very well exist without the Money Men getting involved, getting them involved gives those who feel slighted a target, an actual company that failed to recognize their genius. That could get ugly, if most comment threads are anything to go by.



My VANQUISHED artist took one look at the sample script and decided he wanted to do something else.

Well, that's not exactly true, but that's always the way it feels when this happens. He says he likes the project, but he's been developing his own thing (that he'd like me to collaborate on with him) and that's where his heart is at the moment. At least he actually told me, rather than vanishing into the ether. I'm waiting to see what he's got cooking--he's a great artist who's going to go places, and I'd love to work with him, even if it's not -sigh- on VANQUISHED.


Friday, July 20, 2007

The Creative Process: Elaborate Collaborate

(I have no idea what that post title is supposed to mean.)

An e-mail I just sent to an artist collaborator for an upcoming piece (EDITED FOR SPOILAGE):


Quick question re: action sequences in (THE COMIC WE'RE STARTING TO WORK ON TOGETHER).

(Edited after the fact to note: It was going to be a quick question, anyway. Skip down to the bottom if you want to get to the actual issue at hand--the rest of the mail deals with why I'm asking the question, which seemed relevant but perhaps shouldn't be, considering the question really revolves around your aesthetic preferences as opposed to mine. Anyway...)

When I initially conceived of the project, my intention was to do it in the vein of a big-budget sci-fi actioner in the (in terms of the action element) Lethal Weapon/Die Hard vein: characters would get hurt and bleed, but overall the violence would be explosively over-the-top. For instance, the opening sequence as it stands at this moment has the protagonist and his partner unarmed, facing a group of heavily armed baddies, who the good guys proceed to disarm, beat the living crap out of, shoot and/or kill before the big (EVENT THAT SETS THE STORY IN MOTION)

The fight sequence at the beginning would be theoretically possible--one thing that's going to be very important to me regardless of which way we go with the action is the choreography (I still have bad memories of reading an old-school Image book where characters' relative positions shifted seemingly at random from panel to panel--it drove me nuts). The point being, the protags won't go from having guns on them to just grabbing them and kicking ass, the bad guys would make a crucial mistake (ideally one they're maneuvered into by the good guys) which would make the turnabout feasible, at least in the LW/DH realm I'm thinking of.

HOWEVER, reading of your interest in sci-fi noir, I'm wondering if you'd prefer me to downplay the action aspect a bit. There will obviously have to be a certain amount of bloodshed for the story to work, and my goal with the opening sequence was to establish the protag as very effective when it comes to fighting. But at the end of the day, when (THE ANTAGONIST) starts killing (...) he doesn't really need to be Martin Riggs to do it--the element of surprise plus big gun could certainly allow him to do the things he needs to do to advance the story properly.

On the one hand, the Big Action thing might hold more appeal to the comic-buying audience (and Hollywood producer-types, though I try not to think about them as much as possible because, well, depending on who one talks to they're either insane or stupid, and everyone one talks to agrees they're fickle, so trying to predict what they'll like is a mug's game), and it was where I was coming from when I started developing the story. I've long wanted to attempt an old-school John Woo shoot-em-up in comic form--I know some people have used Woo's old work as a touchstone {Marv Wolfman and Shawn McManus' A MAN CALLED A-X series was the most explicit in this intention that I can recall}, but it seems to me those tried to hook into a Woo-ish philosophy--character revealed through action--while I wanted to focus on more technical elements of visual framing/storytelling techniques/choreographical considerations.

The way I see it, (THE COMIC) COULD be a very entertaining action comic.

But then the Artsy snob in me kicks in and I start thinking, yeah, it could be that, but does it really NEED to be that--the more or less inescapable inference being that making it into an entertaining action comic would somehow instantly undermine the character relationships and deeper themes in play.

It's an admittedly kneejerk reaction that, left entirely to my own devices, I'd probably try and ignore just because I don't think doing something that's got the potential to be commercially appealing is an inherently bad thing (well, some part of me obviously does, but that part's a pompous twit who's doing me more damage than good in almost every aspect of my life, so I try and ignore him as much as possible.)

However, I'm thankfully not left to my own devices now that you're involved, so, in the interests of hopefully making this collaboration as much fun for both of us as possible, I put the question to you: would you prefer to draw an action-centric piece, or something more moody where the effects of violence are more realistically depicted?

(A final note: I've no problem making the call on this if it's either something you don't care about or is something you don't believe you as the artist should be involved with. My intent isn't to pressure you one way or the other, nor is it to wriggle out of the responsibilities a writer should have in regards to a project. As it happens, you've come on-board at a much earlier stage than my artist collaborators usually do, so I have the luxury of knowing who I'm working with and want to take advantage of that to the extent that you're willing to be taken advantage of.) (That last bit...really didn't come out as well as I'd have liked.)

Next up: a rough outline of the plot and, hopefully, some character bios.

Hope all's well on your end.


Now I get to write character descriptions for the AS REAL AS MONSTERS artist, and get some responses back to Nick on his HOLIDAY MEN designs.

Much of the rest of the day will be spent on the phone to as many people as possible, as next week is the San Diego Comic Con and everyone in the business who isn't me will be there having fun.

I'm feeling particularly bitter about this at the moment, as I only just now got an invitation to an SD party that I obviously won't be able to attend. My favourite bits of San Diego have always involved open bars. At least, that's what I've heard; I don't remember them that well.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What's Up.

Well, that was an appallingly awful ten days, spent mostly lying in bed hoping against all hope for the sweet release of death.

But it's over now and time to get things moving again. Unfortunately, almost everything that matters in my professional world is currently moving towards San Diego for the big comic con next week. With no books to show this year and no recognizable success getting work or even useful connections out of attending from previous years, I have elected not to go this time (in my ideal world, I would elect not to go any time--the thing is just too much: too big, too hot, too loud, too crowded.)

Which is for the best, I think, but it appears to effectively mean I'm going to spend the next couple weeks in limbo as everyone else trucks over to the coast for over-priced drinks and heatstroke. Not that I couldn't develop heatstroke right here at home, the way the weather's been lately.

Most critically, and frustratingly: all paying work is on hold, supposedly until after the convention when at least UP1 is supposed to resume. We'll see if that happens--right now I'm not feeling terribly confident about it, which sucks, because, though it didn't pay particularly well, it was at least going to pay, and money is an issue at the moment (not as big an issue as it would be if I was going to San Diego. As a matter of fact, going to San Diego last year combined with a couple publishers breaking their promises is arguably why it's an issue at all now.) (It's not a great argument, though. Tiina and I are terrible when it comes to money.) (Still, going to San Diego last year really hurt us financially. Which is another reason I'd rather Never Go Again at the moment.)

The absence of paying work is not without its advantages, however. It gives me space to work on and develop my own projects, ones that I'm passionate about because they excite me even without an imminent paycheque attached.

On Monday I was contacted by two different artists, who are both interested in working on two different projects with me (come to think of it, I should really e-mail one of them back tonight...). So VANQUISHED and ERSATZ are suddenly moving forward again (VAN more suddenly than Ersatz, to be sure.) And Nick Johnson delivered some more character designs for THE HOLIDAY MEN (come to think of it, I should really e-mail him back tonight, too...).

All three of those landed at the tail end of The Oozing Infection, during which time I was all but useless, on a work level. It's hard to write when every strike of the keyboard sends a lightning bolt of pain coursing through your face. Still, on Friday I found myself wanting to get something done.

My general writing practice is to sit around and not write for days on end (paraphrasing someone regarding Douglas Adams, "not starting writing until every newspaper possible had been read and every last cup of tea possible had been drunk"), just thinking about how I'm going to do a story. This mulling eventually hits critical mass and I start typing in a mad rush, often into the wee hours of the night. And then, when I actually do lie down, all I can think about is getting the first run-through...well, run through.

Once I've gone through, got everything that will make sure the story is a story in place, the real work begins. I can't recall who said when you can't write something good, write crap, because then at least you'll have something to fix, but fixing my crap is where I like to think I really shine.

I'm an obsessive polisher of almost everything I write. Even e-mails get proofed and tweaked at least once, often more. Blog and messageboard posts take a stupid amount of time for me, as I struggle to make sure my phrasing is saying exactly what I want it to. After years of doing this, I now realize going to all the effort is bordering on insanity, but I can't stop. The upside comes when I'm actually writing something Important--then my incessant need to work and rework words is an advantage (and also a burden--I probably don't need to spend as much time proofreading and tweaking panel descriptions only an artist, editor, and letterer are likely ever going to see, for instance.)

Of course, the trick is knowing when to stop, and it's a trick I haven't mastered yet. Left to my own devices, I'd probably still be polishing the first story I ever wrote. Deadlines are wonderful things, if only because they let me know when I've got no choice but to stop, no matter how much I want to go through the thing just one last time.

Anyway. Unable to focus enough to polish stuff like CCCC#2's script into fighting form, but still feeling the overwhelming need to write (there's only so many YouTube clips of Fry and Laurie one can watch in the course of a week), I elected to work on something from the ground up. I settled on an idea for a television show I've been nurturing for years. I felt like I had a pretty good grasp on the characters and themes I wanted to hit with the thing, and as I lay in a semi-conscious state I put together an actual plot for the pilot episode.

Working on a screenplay made a lot of sense at the time--rather than trying to rally the mental energy to describe how I envision a comic page might look, I could keep descriptions to a minimum and focus what energies I had on the part of writing I like best: dialogue.

It took me from Friday till Sunday to get from beginning to end of my initial Crapdraft. And on Monday, lo and behold, I was feeling human again.

So I started polishing. I was up till 2 in the morning the last couple nights, both times working on getting the script into fighting shape. This morning I went through it again, and, because I thought at the time paying work was going to resume, I sent it off to the manager for her thoughts.

In light of what I've learned today, I wish I hadn't done that. Because all I want to do at the moment is go through it again, fine-tuning it further. I know that's not an efficient use of my time, but it's a compulsion I find myself barely able to resist.

At least typing this post gave me forty minutes of thinking about something other than going back in. It's time to move forward on something, not back into my first spec pilot script, cerrtainly not until I've got some feedback from someone who knows how to read scripts.

And I've got a couple artists waiting to hear back from me. So.



Tuesday, July 17, 2007


(cross-posted to LJ and MySpace)

I am beginning to feel faintly human again.

Well, as human as I ever feel, anyway.

Now, there is work to do. But first...



My DONE TO DEATH collaborator Fiona Staples takes another step towards what in comic terms qualifies as The Big Leagues, and it's about damn time someone with a budget recognized her talent. From DC/Wildstorm's October '07 solicitations:

Written by Marc Andreyko
Art by FIONA STAPLES, Grant Bond and Mike Huddleston
Covers by Breehn Burns, Sean Galloway, Ragnar and Michael Dougherty
In the best tradition of horror comics comes Trick ’r Treat, a 4-issue, weekly shipping miniseries based on the major motion picture written and directed by Michael Dougherty (co-writer of Superman Returns and X-Men 2), produced by Bryan Singer, and starring Dylan Baker, Brian Cox, and Anna Paquin.
Each issue presents a vignette and weaves together four tales of terror and laughter as we witness a sleepy suburban neighborhood’s transformation into a Halloween horror! Small towns have never been so full of creepy characters — from a serial killer who specializes in poisoning candy and a group of mischievous kids who unearth their town's dark secret, to a young woman hunted by a masked stalker at the local festival, or a cantankerous old hermit dealing with a demonic trick-or-treater…these stories will grab hold and pull you in — whether you like it or not! The first issue ships during the opening week of this major motion picture from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures!
Issue #1 on sale October 3; issue #2 on sale October 10; issue #3 on sale October 24; issue #4 on sale October 31 • 1-4 of 4 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS

I'm not sure which issue(s) Fiona's working on, yet.

In spite of the fact that I am now officially Small Potatoes, Fiona still wants to do SIX SHOTS, which makes me a happy, happy man.

Well, as happy as I ever feel, anyway.


Friday, July 6, 2007

The Latest


Chimaera head honcho George Singley likes the first issue script of CCCC (not its final name), and furthermore likes my idea for promoting it on this side of the border. I hope we can pull this one together. Was up half the night sweating in the ridiculous heat thinking about #2.



Just pitched my TV Show Idea to the manager. She's lukewarm at best on the idea of me pitching a show from my current position as Absolutely No One in the industry, but I gave it my best shot. If she doesn't think it has a chance, I'll go back to sitting on it till it does. A few more years wait shouldn't hurt. Unless someone else scoops the idea, which is the sort of thing someone should've come up with years ago, but, as far as I can tell, hasn't.

Even if someone else does come up with it, I've got other ideas (this one is the One That Will Only Work As A Television Serial and Not As a Comic, Film, or Anything Else). The Token Goblin could make an interesting television show, if the budget was there...



Sounds like a local filmmaker's come across D2D and Parting Ways. A mutual acquaintance tells me we'll be "doing a meeting" sometime in the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, D2D is doing the rounds in H'wood, being sent to people the Manager thinks will get it. The trick with D2D when it comes to H'wood, apparently, is that it's a hybrid--a horror and a comedy. Or, as the Manager described it, "cool and unique but tough to sell."

I have a hard time coming to terms with the existence of an entertainment industry that isn't chomping at the bit to buy stories that are both cool and unique, but given what I've heard about H'wood from People Who'd Know, the place is ass-backwards when it comes to entertainment. There's too much money involved; nobody wants to/feels they can afford to take any risks. Or, as someone put it (I think I got it off Steven Grant, but I could be wrong and even if I'm not, it might not have originated with him), "Nobody in H'wood wants to be first; everyone wants to be first to be second."

The sequel is King.


Wednesday, July 4, 2007


First draft script of #1, page one of Chimaera's Canadian Champion Contingent:

(O/P=Off-panel, ET=Electric Word balloon tail.)

(My dialogue emphasis doesn't seem to have survived the cut and paste. Oh well.)



Panoramic shot of the Calgary skyline. A nice day in February. Clear skies, sun shining down. From the top of the biggest skyscraper comes a word balloon:





Panels 2-5 will all be the same size--either two tiers of two or one tier of long vertical panels. Each will be basically the same shot, with the corporate toady SIMPSON at the bottom right, gesturing excitedly to the main portion of each panel, a large projection screen on which we’re going to see the members of Phoenix Petroleum’s corporate-owned superhero team, the White-Hats. In this panel, the focus is on THE STAMPEDER, a seven foot tall, heavily muscled man in a sleeveless black leather trenchcoat, black gloves, who’s actually wearing a white cowboy hat (the others will have a white hat symbol on them somewhere, in much the same way cover girls on Playboy have the bunny logo somewhere on them) (almost exactly the same way, actually.)




Same angle, but now we’re looking at the scantily-clad, well-endowed form of SUNSHINE, whose costume (what there is of it) looks like it’s been painted on. She’s wearing a come-hither smile; a white hat medallion hangs from a thin golden chain between her massive breasts.



Same angle, but this time the screen features KID KALGARY, a forty-year-old ad executive’s idea of what’s “fresh” for the teen set. A fifteen year old boy who looks maybe thirteen, dressed in a variety of clich├ęd fashion. His baggy t-shirt has a white hat on it, his baseball cap is turned sideways at a jaunty angle, he’s got a rocket-skateboard under one arm, long, baggy shorts over big, stereotypically amerimanga-style boots that fit into slots on the rocketboard.






Same again, but this time the screen shows a huge, Kirbyesque monster who nevertheless manages to give off the air of a teddy-bear. BIG OIL’s body is composed entirely of, well, oil. He’s wearing tight shorts, the belt buckle of which is a white hat.




I wrote a first draft script of the other 21 pages of #1 in the last 48 hours. More fun than anything trying to pass itself off as work should ever be.


Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Progress of a sort is being made, or at least it was till the heat rammed into my body like an out-of-control freight train about an hour ago. Still, I'm a solid 10 comic pages of script into Chimaera's Canadian Champion Contingent, and Nick Johnson and the artist for Web Project 1 both seem to be gearing up to get down to work.

For myself, I shall just be getting down to sleep, I suspect. The heat around these parts is already atrocious, and it's supposedly going to rise to 33 degrees on Thursday. I've got a feeling I'll be doing whatever work I get done in the next few days in the living room under the giant fan.

There's something very pleasing about being unable to sleep because you're running story scenes through in your head and then you get up and several hours later, boom, you've got ten pages of those scenes plus a couple others written.

The CCCC book is going to be fun, in a completely different way than TITUS: HEROIC FAILURE is fun. CCCC will be good, clean fun; THF is bad, nasty fun.

If we sell more than a thousand copies of each issue, I'll fall out of my chair.


Monday, July 2, 2007

Happy Harbor II and III filming back-to-back

This just in (if by "just in" you mean, "It's been in the works for weeks and I found out about it last night"): Happy Harbor Comics Volume III, is opening in early November, 2007, at 10320-81 Avenue, a space currently occupied by Warp One Comics and Entertainment. Tell all your friends.


Speaking of the Shuster Award-winning comic retailer, Blog@Newsarama ran an interview with co-owner Jay Bardyla yesterday:

EDITED TO ADD: This really is just in, from HH's mailing list:
Saturday - MAKE POVERTY HISTORY - 7% of all sales on Saturday at the Downtown location will be donated to help fight poverty so make sure to pick up your file or make an extra trip this week to the store and do your part to fight poverty. Why? Because you can.



Here's a website I'll be reading closely in the next few days. And hopefully adding something to in the next year or two.


Sunday, July 1, 2007

To Do List: July 1, 2007

Still waiting to hear back from the manager on ERSATZ and others, and the Big Publisher. Both are now running later than they said they would.

This is not exactly a surprise.

Paying gigs are all on hold at the moment. This is a great opportunity to do a bunch of things I want to do. An opportunity I will doubtless squander, on the grounds that "It's Canada Day!", but still.

Things To Do, in no particular order:

-Get more work on HOLIDAY MEN #1 script for Nick.

-Work on SIX SHOTS proposal, specifically the issues 3-6 outlines.

-Finish writing synopsis for first volume of MAXXED OUT! (outlines for vols 2-4 are already in.)

-Start picking at ERSATZ in some form or another.

-Head back in to the SPOOKY KIDS: INCISION script.

-Catch up on e-mails.

-Check in on the artist for AS REAL AS MONSTERS and see if he's ready to get going.

-Finish outlines for Chimaera's Canadian Champion Contingent and TALES OF STUPEFICTION. Start scripting.

-Get back to the RPG stuff. I actually forgot about that one for the last few weeks. Whoops.

-Do other things I'm probably forgetting I'm supposed to do.

The Not To Do List:

-Go back to bed.

Good night.