Friday, November 30, 2007

It's the little things that get you.

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

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

I’m being watched.

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

And it’s creeping me the hell out.

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

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

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

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

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



Monday, November 26, 2007

Congratulations to Andrew Drilon

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

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


Take My Wife. Please.

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

ANDREW: You can do it.

Subtext-laden pause. Then:

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


Sunday, November 25, 2007


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

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

“You didn’t really,” said Doug.

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

“It wasn’t that bad,” Doug insisted.

“It MADE ME THROW UP,” said Jay.

Eventually, Doug admitted the fart had been pretty bad.


Friday, November 23, 2007

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



From an artist collaborator's e-mail today:

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

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



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

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

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



Soon. Soon.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lines I Will Never Open A Story With #29

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

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

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

Good night.


Sunday, November 18, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Anyone got a little morphine to spare?

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



Nick Johnson is making me look really good.



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



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Is It Possible for a Head to Tread Water?

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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

Good night (hopefully.)


Tuesday, November 6, 2007


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

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

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


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

I still love sleep.


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


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


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


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


My teeth hurt. Really, really bad.


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


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


That's all I've got for now.