Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dude, I'm not getting a Dell.

If the second-hand report I heard of the radio report is correct, 900 Edmonton Dell Computer employees had a meeting this morning which they were led to believe would be their introduction to a new boss. What they got instead was a pink slip.

That's a sucky thing in general, a profoundly sucky thing for a couple people I know personally in particular, and if the story of how they received their notice is true, well, what I've got to say about it isn't fit for airing in public. Though the phrase "first against the wall when the revolution comes" would probably be in there.


In other news, it's colder than a witch's broomstick that's been lying out in -40 degree weather for a week here in Edmonton and indeed much of Alberta, and my face hurts. Catscan of my sinuses happens Tuesday.

One of Tiina's ears has been ringing for a couple days, and the doctor has no idea why (though infection seems to have been ruled out.) And her teeth are periodically causing her problems, though the dentist couldn't seem to nail down a reason for that, either.

It could be worse. At least we didn't lose our jobs along with 898 other people today.

"Come meet your new boss." Sometimes I seriously wonder how job-related death numbers aren't through the roof.


On the upside, Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming are bringing one of THE HOLIDAY MEN's spiritual predecessors, AMBUSH BUG, back in a 6-issue miniseries from DC. So that's good.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Over at The Chemistry Set, Andrew Drilon knocked it out of the park today with the latest KARE-KARE KOMIKS story, "Act of Choice". It reads as the opening to a Jasper Ffordian interstitial apocalypse tale featuring the return of Mang Thomas, Storyhunter. Highly recommended.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

(What Do I Think of) The Group Dynamic? In a Word: Dynamic."

Calgary's Vicious Ambitious collective of comic creators (of which my HOLIDAY MEN collaborator Nick Johnson is a founding member) have made a mockumentary about themselves, entitled "A Vicious Day's Night", and, in their typically blatant disregard for anything resembling good taste and public morality, put it online for all the world to see.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

AVDN features, among other things, Nick Johnson in his underwear and a cameo by The Future of Comics (I) Fiona Staples. I am not featured in any way, which I think is a major oversight that will cost them in the long run.

Watching this video reminds me of art college.


Quote of the Day

"Comics are collage...There's both words and picture. You can communicate through the juxtaposition of image to image, or image to word, word to word, dialogue to description, or even dialogue to picture. Unlike plain text, the comics medium is biased towards these clashes, toward these mixes. Towards time travel and cultural mixing."
Douglas Rushkoff, WRITE NOW #17

I can't even begin to transcribe the train of thought that quote sets me on every time I consider it.


Things I Learned The Hard Way, #763

It's possible to throw your back out while lying in bed without moving.


Monday, January 28, 2008


Two of my favourite HOLIDAY MEN bits can be found in this week's installment. I'm so excited I could eat nineteen oranges in seven minutes.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Well, that was rough...

Hell Week is over...more normal posting will resume shortly (knock on wood.) In the meantime, the Creators Commentary on THE HOLIDAY MANIFESTO, PART ONE can be found in that installment's Comments Section.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Three Things

1. Nick Johnson's and my Creator Commentary on the second HOLIDAY MEN installment can be found at in that installment's comments section.

2. My monthly trawl through Diamond's PREVIEWS catalogue for items good, interesting, and depressing, Kid Drew's YOU WANT TO BUY THIS!, can be found in the Products section of the Happy Harbor website.

3. The Future of Comics (I) Fiona Staples is going to be a HUGE STAR.


Friday, January 18, 2008


Haven't gotten a whole lot done this week, having spent pretty much all of it in the grip of a sphincter-tightening panic. Not that I haven't been trying, it's just that whatever I type turns to crap onscreen. Even THE HOLIDAY MEN #3: A TOWN CALLED BETA isn't getting me going. I know what I want the story to be, how it's going to go, but writing it--even the normally relatively easy panel breakdown, prior to coming up with dialogue and text--is proving to be ridiculously difficult. The spec script I've been working on to have a sample to back up the other spec (kinda want to prove the first one, which was so well-received, wasn't a one-time chance occurence) has turned into something akin to a three-week long tooth extraction. The revised SOULMAKER outline, some other loose's not that the well is dry, just that there's a gaping hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza...

T's scarcely doing better. This afternoon we said, screw it, took the movie passes her parents gave us for Christmas and went and saw CLOVERFIELD. I've cut and pasted my initial thoughts on the film from a post I made on Canadian Geek. They're riddled with spoilers--I think I give away the ending in the first sentence--so I'm putting a writers meme that's been making the rounds between this intro and the semi-review.



Andrew: "How many times do I have to tell you: NEVER FORGET A MASSIVE SLAUGHTER."

Nick Johnson: "When I get the money, I'm having that tattooed on my ass."

You may consider this post the official start-up of my "Nick Johnson's Ass Tattoo" fundraising. The guy's just wacky enough to follow through with this, if the money's there...

Speaking of Nick, he's got a secret.



Think I got this one from [Bad username: Tony Lee ].

What's the last thing you wrote?
The commentary for the second HOLIDAY MEN installment. For fiction, a short two-pager for MERCY SEAT: CHILDREN ARE CRUEL is the last thing I finished.

Was it any good?
I like it.

What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
I’m not entirely sure and I’m in no rush to find out.

Was it any good?
No. Definitely not.

Write poetry?
Not since art college.

Angsty poetry?
Not since art college.

Favourite genre of writing?
To read: comedy.
To write: black comedy.

Most fun character you ever wrote?
Shannon Wade, with pretty much anyone in THE HOLIDAY MEN coming in a close second.

Most annoying character you ever wrote?
Most annoying to me would be any of the native characters in Cowboys & Aliens.

Best plot you ever wrote?

Coolest plot twist you ever wrote?
Shelley DeMornay’s efforts to save herself from Andy in DONE TO DEATH.

How often do you get writer's block?
Only once, but it’s lasted 37 years.

How do you fix it?
Fix it?

Write fan fiction?
Not since I was a teen. Unless you count paid work on pre-established licensed material, in which case, JEREMIAH: THE LAST EMPIRE counts.

Do you type or write by hand?
Type. I’m much faster at typing and I’ve got a very heavy writing hand, which kills my arm after a couple pages.

Do you save everything you write?
Sort of. I don’t throw anything away, but that doesn’t mean I can find it later.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?

What's your favourite thing that you've written?
DONE TO DEATH. Though THE HOLIDAY MEN and THE TOKEN GOBLIN are close runners-up.

What's everyone else's favourite thing that you've written?
A lot of people like PARTING WAYS. I like it, too, but not as much as the darker and/or more ridiculous stuff.

Do you even show people your work?
When it’s ready to be shown, sure.

Who's your favourite constructive critic?
Probably Ward. He gets me. Outside of that, my artist collaborators--if we’re on the same page, that means we’re probably OK.

Do you have a web site for your writings?
Yes, but it’s not kept up very well.

Did you ever write a novel?
No. Actually, let me rephrase that: I’ve never FINISHED writing a novel.

Have you ever written fantasy, sci-fi, or horror?
Oh yes.

Ever written romance or teen angsty drama?
A teen angsty drama almost certainly, but I don’t recall doing either.

What's your favourite setting for your characters?
Any situation where they’ve lost control and are getting desperate enough to do something extreme.

What's one genre you have never written, and probably never will?
Straight romance.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?
A lot. Unless you mean RIGHT now, in which case, none--I’m doing this questionnaire.

Do you want to write for a living?
Like you wouldn’t believe.

Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper?
A letter to the editor. It got published, too. No money in it, though.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?
No, but I have won an award for not writing.
Actually, now that I think of it, I did win the fifty dollar prize for some local writing contest when I was in Grade Nine.

Ever written something in script or play format?
A couple of screenplays my manager’s ready to “go out with” as soon as the writers strike is over.

What are your five favourite words?
I don’t know if they’re favourites, but I use “well”, “frankly”, “that said”, and “bugger” an awful lot.

Do you ever parody?
I don’t usually go for direct parody, as that can prematurely date a work, making it unpalatable for someone reading twenty years down the line. That said, the first or second ending to TITUS: HEROIC FAILURE is very much a parody.

What's your favourite thing to parody?
Whatever angers me at a given moment. Which amounts to pretty much everything, at some point during the day.

Do you actually like that thing, or are you spitefully making fun of it?
Both, depending on what I’m making fun of.

Do you ever write based on yourself?
Not since art college, when I realized I’m an incredibly boring person.

I mean I’m really, astonishingly dull.

What character that you've written most resembles yourself?
Peter Orbach from PARTING WAYS or Andy in DONE TO DEATH. I’m a sad, sad man.

Where do you get ideas for your other characters?
All over the place, but they often come from the needs of the story. Once I know their purpose, I can figure out how to make them serve that purpose. Once that’s done, I can start filling in the blanks left over to make them something more than cogs in the machine. Of course, when I do that, the cogs get clogged up and the whole thing falls apart.

I hate characters.

Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Not based on them, though images and loose ideas from them sometimes appear.

Do you favour happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?
I favour sad endings, but do my best to write happy ones, because I’m a Total Sell-Out. Or at least I try to be.

Have you ever written based on an artwork you've seen?
I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of Magritte’s The Treachery of Images. AS REAL AS MONSTERS was inspired by that painting, along with a piece of graffiti I once saw.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Yeah. It’s a habit I formed during my days as an English teacher’s son.

Ever write something entirely in chatspeak? (How r u?)
No. And if I did, it’d probably be a suicide note, because I’d have to kill myself shortly after writing anything in that fashion.

Entirely in L337?
Not knowingly.

Was that question completely appalling and un-writer like?

Does music help you write?
Not anymore, but I usually have something on very, very low, more out of habit than anything else.

Do you have a weblog or livejournal?

Are people surprised and confused when they find out you write well?
*I’m* surprised and confused when I find out I write well.

Quote something you've written. The first thing to pop into your mind.
"Well, shit."



As one person yelled on the way out of the theatre, "Everybody died and I don't know what the **** just happened!" Which was funny, but not inaccurate. The creature is never given a backstory; it appears, it and its parasites destroy a lot of Manhattan and kill a lot of people, and they're still doing it when the film ends. That really pissed a few people in the audience off, as they thought they were seeing a monster story. What they're given is a love story told against the backdrop of an incredibly devastating, apparently senseless attack on the city. The only reason this couldn't have had 9/11 as a backdrop is because the audience knows that as soon as the second tower goes down, the threat to people not immediately in the vicinity is over. In this movie, the characters are in danger pretty much from the moment the first "earthquake" hits.

There are no real twists, unless one considers the non-Hollywood ending a twist. I'm a little worried that we're going to see a Cloverfield 2, where someone attempts to fill in all the blanks of this movie. Is the monster an Elder God? Could be--it's definitely got an absolutely unstoppable quality to it. Is it just a natural mutation? A government experiment gone wrong? An unlikely form of biological warfare? We never find out, and, for the story the creators are telling, it doesn't really matter.

One aspect of the film that did strike me as Lovecraftian is the palpable atmosphere of menace the filmmakers build up and maintain through the film. I don't think we're ever given a full view of the monster, rather we get a tail, a foot, a face without the context of the rest of the thing. When we finally do get a look at the entire body (rather than a limb at a time), the jerky camera, smoke, and carnage surrounding it still obscure it. It's what's not shown that's really distressing.

I hope this film does well, but I suspect there's going to be some backlash. I don't think it's what people are going to go in expecting. There are no traditional heroes, nobody comes up with some brilliant plan to stop the thing (the closest they get is "Maybe if we level Manhattan, that'll kill it"), and, as it's set over a seven hour period, no explanations. While I'm definitely interested in the conversation that's likely to result re: what exactly happened there, nailing it down in the film (or a subsequent film) would transform it into another kind of story entirely.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Deep Thought

This was originally written as part of my and Nick Johnson's "commentary track" for the first installment of THE HOLIDAY MEN. Nick thought it was a little, er, let's call it wordy. So I retooled it slightly so it's less a "me talking to Nick" thing than a "Me talking" thing, and, well, here's me talking about webcomic density:

When I first came up with the Holiday Men concept, it was very, very straightforward (I actually once described it as "the silliest idea I've ever had", something I think is still arguably true). The template for an H-Men story was simple: Holiday Men find out about evildoing, show up, kick the living shit out whatever O’Mega-Mart’s up to this episode, and retreat to the shadows from whence they came.

Getting Nick onto the art was a godsend, because he can do ridiculous action scenes like nobody’s business, and that’s all the H-Men was intended to be. At first. So, knowing Nick was on-board, I went ahead and wrote the first episode as a straight-up action comic, with minimal text.

It took about fifteen minutes.

And that seemed like…an inappropriate amount of time to spend on a 24 page comic. Especially considering how long it was going to take to draw it.

I began to feel lazy, which isn’t unusual. I also began to feel bad about being lazy, which is highly unusual. Even by my standards, which are pretty forgiving, this just seemed ridiculously easy. My writer’s ego or Catholic guilt (an admittedly odd condition for an atheist ex-protestant to have) couldn’t stand me not putting at least a little more into it.

Now, add to this the fact that, by this point, I know we’re starting out with online serialization. Which means a reader’s going to be (potentially) seeing the equivalent of one to, at most, three pages of a standard comic a week. What are they going to be getting for their time?

It seems to me the real webcomic success stories so far have been built in the daily comic strip format: regular installments, more than one or two a week, with some kind of climax at the end of each installment, usually a punchline. Less successful, so far, is the serial release of non-comic strip-format, dramatic webcomics. Why?

I have some theories about this, and the H-Men is an attempt to prove some of them. Only time will tell whether it worked, of course, but here’s one of them, or part of one of them: it’s one thing to have a ten page fight scene in a comic you can read 22 pages of while you’re in the bathroom. It’s another thing altogether to have a ten page fight scene released over 2 and a half months. Getting someone like me to even remember the context of a scene after a couple weeks is going to be tricky.

So, the idea I’m pushing with the H-Men is that, yeah, we’ve got the fight scene, and it’s all there visually if that’s what you’re after. BUT, if a reader wants to, there’s text material there for them to dig into beyond the traditional comic story elements. This approach is hardly unique: heavy text goes all the way back to Hal Foster’s PRINCE VALIANT, at least, but more recent comics I looked to for inspiration were The Intimates, The Nightly News, and The Amazing Joy Buzzards. Each of these used the comic convention of the text caption (way out of fashion in mainstream comics for the last several years) in interesting ways--ways that didn’t necessarily forward immediate storytelling concerns. The captions are value-added material. Or at least, that's the idea behind them.

Do you need to read them? Not really. If you want to watch Santa Claus kick someone’s ass, we’ve got that. If you want to know what kind of magazine the person whose ass is getting kicked read before (or during) said ass-kicking, that might be there, too.

Or there might be a description of what kind of bird is lurking in the background. Or what I had for lunch. Whatever I think might get a laugh.

If you’re giving people two comic pages a week, you’ve got to offer them something more than just a nicely drawn page. You’ve got to offer some kind of satisfying reading experience, on a per-installment basis. The textual elements of the H-Men are intended to do that.

An editor buddy of mine said they made him slow down to read the thing--made him slow down too much. I don’t really know what to say to that. My initial instinct is to take issue with the notion that a comic should be readable quickly. Most modern comics can be read fairly quickly, but I spent twenty+ going through an old Lee-Kirby FF the other night. You want to talk about dense text, you look at these classic silver age things and tell me lots of text on a comics page is unworkable.

I don’t believe it. Or I don’t want to believe it. Our reader(s?) will tell me whether I’m right or just stupid. Or both.


Monday, January 14, 2008



Dental problems continue to vex me, and the last minute rush to get the second installment of THE HOLIDAY MEN up in 13 hours or so has me preoccupied. Still, some interesting stuff to read kicking around the web this morning...

I'm the Guest Writer at this month's Writer's Corner at the Edmonton Public Library. Not entirely sure what I'll be doing there, yet. From what I can tell, the format of the gatherings is extremely flexible, but I'll probably be reading from a couple things, just because I like doing that and I haven't had a chance to do it publicly for a year and a half.

From Dirk Deppey's !journalista!: As much as it pains me to find myself siding with long-time personal irritant and serial fuckwit Ezra Levant, if there isn't more to this story than he's being forced to defend himself legally for simply reprinting (presumably with the cartoonists' permission) the infamous Danish anti-Mohammed cartoons, well, damn it, I guess there is something to that whole strange bedfellows thing after all. Now will somebody please get this asshole out of my bed?

SF Author Lyda Morehouse on how supposedly negative emotional states can inspire productivity. Speaking for myself, jealousy and competitiveness have long been major personal

From Todd Allen's column at A link to the Hollywood option document for Platinum's COWBOYS & ALIENS. I'm going to need to be in a substantially better mood than I have been for the last 15-odd years before I read it.

Warren Ellis is letting independent comic creators plug their work at his Whitechapel forum.

A little more than twelve hours till the new installment of THE HOLIDAY MEN goes live at I'm still getting butterflies in my stomach from getting it out there...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Because, as much as you might want to, you can't spend ALL your time reading the first installment of THE HOLIDAY MEN:

Robert Burke Richardson and Martin Morazzo's comic URBIS FAERIE has been selected for the latest round of Zuda Comics' ongoing webcomic contest. Congratulations and good luck, Robert!



Terrible subtitle, I know, but I've had a long day. Cut me some slack, you judgmental swine...

Celebrated the debut of THE HOLIDAY MEN by taking a trip to the dentist. Since when did dentists start not doing all fillings in one visit? That's irritating as hell...and my head's still throbbing from the blast of ice-cold air they inflicted on what was apparently a thoroughly exposed nerve.

On the upside, it doesn't look like I'll be having pieces of my head torn out in the immediate future. Joy.



Thanks to everyone who's written me and Nick or commented publicly on THE HOLIDAY MEN's first installment. I can't tell you how heartening it is to know that at least those of you who can be bothered to talk to us "get it"--even better, you get it and you seem to like it. And that's the sort of thing that'll keep Nick and I going. We aren't in this comic thing for the money; we're doing it for the love AND the money.



Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Teknikle Diffikultyz

Due to a glitch that has our modem killing and rebooting our internet connection over and over again for no apparent reason, posting will probably be even lighter and more sporadic than usual for the next week or so. E-mail will probably be read, but don't take it personally if a reply isn't terribly prompt--the laptop is completely disconnected from the net, and typing on the desktop is infuriating because I'm generally typing about forty characters ahead of what's onscreen.

Telus says a replacement modem should be here in the next two days. I'll believe it when it's here, but I don't expect this to dent THE HOLIDAY MEN launch date of January 8 at At least, it better not.

This is probably all for the best, as I'm at borderline sinus infection pain levels in my cheeks and forehead and would only be complaining. Strangely enough, I'm in a good mood in spite of that, doubtless the result of starting the New Year off right at Lindy and Dave's (thanks, guys!) and getting word from The Future of Comics (I) Fiona Staples that she's willing to contribute a one-page piece to a small print-run comic "I've really got to come up with something to call him" Nick Johnson and I are putting together for this year's Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo at the end of April.

More as soon as I can post it without wanting to throw my monitor through the window.


Three Hours

2008's only three hours old and it's already substantially better than 2007. No place to go but up.







For more information, contact