Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Quotes of the Day / Timekillers

"He's the kind of guy who checks for gas leaks with a lighter." - Tiina.

"Enthusiasm is a sugar rush. You really feel it when it’s over." - John August, responding to someone who thought they were going somewhere but actually weren't (not me, though it might as well have been.)

" He wants what he wants. He wants it the way he wants it, if he thinks it's not fair. And he stamps his feet and heat visions people if he doesn't get it. He's a psychotic brat wearing blinders." - Geoff Johns, talking about Superboy-Prime - a character who interviewer Vaneta Rogers charitably describes as "loosely represent(ing) the attitude of some readers."




The first two comics I edited for Zeros 2 Heroes, BLACK JACK O'BREEN and KNIGHTCAP: NOVEMBER'S SONG can now be read online, for free, free, free! You owe it to yourself to read one or both books, and you owe it to me to sign up at Z2H and become Official Fans of them.

OK, you don't owe me squat, but it'd be nice if you did become Official Fans (assuming you like the books) (which I AM assuming), because the more Fans a book gets, the more likely it is to continue.

BLACK JACK O'BREEN: Fleeing an English noose, Jack O'Breen left Ireland behind and found a new life packing a gun in the American west. He could run from the English, from the Fenian rebels, even from the girl he loved. But the faeries don't give up so easily. So join us for fantasy, adventure and romance! Face off against pagan magic with six-shooters and cold iron bullets. Come and ride with Black Jack O'Breen.

Written by John Michael Sullivan, painted art by Frank Grau Jr., letters by Ed Brisson. Edited by no one of note.


KNIGHTCAP: NOVEMBER'S SONG: "Boy Meets Girl. Boy Loses Girl. Girl Destroys Universe?"

That's a fine hook for a comic, but not really reflective of KC:NS' first issue, which is more a straight-up superheroic comedy in the vein of the DeMatteis/Giffen Justice League. Knowing what the writer has planned for the characters, it'd be really nice to get the chance to see the Girl Destroy the Universe.

Written by Stephen Cmelak, pencils through to letters by The Future of Comics (II) John Keane (which is reason enough to read it on its own, if you ask me.)




Once again earning the accolades rightly heaped upon it, on Thursday at 7:00 PM, Happy Harbor Comics (Volume One) is hosting a talk by Writer and Comics Herstorian Trina Robbins. The event is sponsored by the Edmonton Small Press Association, and is free, though donations will be gratefully accepted. I'd be there to watch her myself, but I'll be seeing her speak tomorrow at the Edmonton Pop Print Culture Festival. I'll also be appearing there, on Thursday at noon as part of Comic Wars, and on Friday along with Dark Horse Assistant Editor Rachel Edidin and local artist Bob Prodor as part of the comics festival Pro Panel. Should be interesting, and I believe the comics festival stuff is free, so if you've got the time and inclination, come on down. Here's the more or less complete schedule.




I didn't care much for what I saw of Virgin Comics' output (though Jenna Jameson's Shadowhunter was always handy to have around as a prime example of everything that's wrong with the comic industry), but if a lot of individual people don't take a hit from this, the small press comic industry certainly will, as yet ANOTHER non-Big Four comics publisher proves it can't deliver the good long-term - and this one financed by some of the deepest pockets in the world. Which makes it even less likely that a retailer will take a chance on something from a smaller comic publisher, no matter how good it may be. Understandable, but depressing as hell. I hope everyone involved with the company who isn't a multimillionaire comes out of the situation relatively unscathed.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

I Don't Particularly Want to Reach Out and Touch Someone...

...But I would like the ability to reach out and touch someone if I changed my mind. From an e-mail I sent to Nick Johnson last night:

"First I forgot I was supposed to call.

Then I remembered, but wasn't at home.

Then I got home, but it was after 5:00.

Then I realized I'd lost your number, which has inspired me to put together my very first rolodex/personal phone book.

What's your number again...?"

It took a long time, but I'm finally at the point where 1) with enough prep time, I don't mind talking to people on the phone, 2) my friends and business acquaintances are legion, to the point where I simply can't remember everyone's number, and 3) I've found myself frustrated by an inability to locate the number of someone I actually did want to talk to enough that I'm actually doing something about it.

So: if you think I ought to have your number, please e-mail it or otherwise transmit it to me so I can include it in my brand-spanking new rolodex that, judging by its general appearance and the layer of dust atop it, Tiina had lying in the back of her odds & ends closet since that hunky John Kennedy was President.

If you think I have your number - possibly because you actually gave it to me one or more times over the course of our relationship - think again. Unless you're Nick Johnson or Fiona Staples. The only reason I have my sister's number is because she was walking by the office door when I started fiddling with the rolodex...



Strangely enough, the first installment of one of the most recent things I've been editing for Zeros 2 Heroes, a weekly webcomic based on the groundbreaking 3-d computer-animated cartoon ReBoot, is the first of the things I've spent the last several months editing that the public can actually view.

Continuing a comic story started earlier this year, the comic is written by Jeff Campbell, with art by Diego Simone and letters by Ed Brisson. The first three pages went live earlier today; two more pages will appear every Monday (he said, inviting the Gods to prove him wrong.)

The first two comics I edited for Z2H, BLACK JACK O'BREEN, written by John Michael Sullivan, with art by Frank Grau, Jr. and letters by the Mighty Brisson, and KNIGHTCAP: NOVEMBER'S SONG, written by Stephen Cmelak and penciled, inked, coloured, and lettered by The Future of Comics (II) John Keane, should be online shortly, knock on wood.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gah! Fruitflies!

Note to Self: If you must dispose of apple cores and other organic material in the office wastebasket, please make sure to change the bag more often than once a week. Unless you like being assaulted by a swarm of overweight nanites...



King of Norway knights a penguin.

via Mightygodking.com



I've got a lot of it at the moment. Some of it even pays. Or will pay, theoretically.

Been thinking a lot about the potential use of webisodes recently. And by recently, I mean about five minutes ago. Not that I'm the only one, by any means. I suspect pretty much everyone with creative aspirations in the non-static narrative field has had plenty of thoughtbombs going off in their head for the last month or two. Someday, this will be referred to as the Dr. Horrible Effect.

But while the idea of doing...something with the web has been floating around my mind in an abstract way for the last month or two (and a less abstract way in T's mind--she believes SKINTIGHT would work really well in a direct to web format...as a set-up I can see it, but the overall story is more...singular, less episodic than something like this sort of thing done by someone other than Joss Whedon needs to be), this morning I realized an idea I've been toying with for the last few days would actually break down into brief 3-5 minutes episodes really well.

The best thing about this idea is, I have some ideas about who I could take it to independently, rather than rely entirely on the manager to find someone who might be interested.



It's Happy Harbor's bi-weekly staff D&D session tonight. It's weird getting back to roleplaying after such a long while. Weirder still to be doing it in a group of nine people, three of whom are playing one kind of game, three who are playing another, and three who're holding on for dear life trying to make sense of everything.

Weird. But fun.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More insomnia. Guess I'll write about Granddad...

Several years ago--almost a decade now, I think--I spent a night sitting in a Calgary Hospital room with my Granddad.

He’d gotten sick on a plane trip back from a holiday with most of my immediate family. Nobody was sure whether he’d make it through that night.

I didn’t know it at the time, but he was actually in pretty good shape, compared to what came down the line a few years later--in some pretty awful discomfort, but awake, alert, and aware. At least till he fell asleep, at which point he was seized by a violent fit that went on for hours.

The spasms and anguished cries had little, if anything, to do with his illness. For years he’d been assailed in his sleep by personal demons whose origins I can speculate on, but now nobody will ever truly know. Eventually his nocturnal struggles became so violent that he and Grandma had to have separate beds.

I’d heard about his sleeping disorder before, but that night was the first time I saw it. It was amazing to me that this man who could only barely breathe when conscious was capable of such energy while asleep. He kept tossing and turning, groaning and mumbling, yelling, grabbing and punching at the air the entire night. Even if I’d wanted to sleep (or was able to sleep while sitting in an uncomfortable hospital chair), I wouldn’t have been able to. Not with the flurry of activity happening in the nearby bed.

Over the years, especially the last couple of years, I saw Granddad continue to fight whatever nightmares plagued him. On more than one occasion I saw bruises and cuts he’d incurred when his slumber became so animated he threw himself over the restraining bars on either side of his bed (this from a guy who had trouble getting out of bed to his wheelchair unassisted).


There were a number of times I went for a visit and simply couldn’t rouse him. On those occasions I settled for holding his hand while he thrashed about in the bed, at least till he realized something was holding his hand and tried to hit it (then I’d put a hand on his shoulder.)

The message Aunt Susan left Tuesday morning said the staff at the Nursing Home hadn’t been able to wake Granddad up. My initial reaction was, “And…?” Pretty much everyone had been unable to wake Granddad up at some point in the last couple years. I started to do what I do most Tuesdays: sit around procrastinating before finally getting down to writing sometime late in the afternoon.

However, after about half an hour, something was bugging me, some loose thought nagged at my borderline subconscious. I decided I’d visit Granddad, see what was happening on the scene, get a better sense of why someone thought not being able to wake him up was important enough to call Susan over.

When I arrived, I was surprised to find Susan already there. Like me, the call had struck her as something worth ditching work for to investigate (unlike me, she was actually working when she got the call.) I looked at Granddad, lying in bed, chest rising and falling in rhythm with his strained, crackling breathing. His arms lay still at his side. He was sleeping as peacefully as I’d ever seen.

That was how, ten seconds after walking into the room, I knew the situation was not good.


After midnight, talking to my sister on the phone.

“I don’t know whether I should come or not,” said Lisa. “What do you think?”

I said, “There’s nothing anyone can really do for him. So you’ve got to do what’s best for yourself. If you think you’ll feel better coming, then you should come.”

She decided to come. I wasn’t surprised.


Having worked for several years in palliative care, my mother’s been around more dying people than most. And she says she’s seen some of them hold on to life, waiting for people to come say goodbye before they let their bodies go. That’s the kind of thing I’d really like to believe...

So when she told me to tell Granddad Lisa was coming, I did as I was told. Reluctantly.

Three in the morning, and I’m yelling in a deaf, comatose (if that’s the right term) person’s ear that his granddaughter will be there in 13 hours.


14 hours later, Lisa walks into the room. Granddad’s still hanging on.

She got there in time to say goodbye. The stress I’ve been feeling for the last hour evaporates. She made it. I can relax.

I go home. Eat some potato salad. Lie down in bed intending to get some much-needed sleep. Close my eyes.

The phone rings. It’s Lisa.

Granddad’s gone.

Get out of bed. Back to the nursing home. I don’t think I’ve been gone more than an hour.


Without Granddad’s gurgling breathing, his room’s eerily quiet. Uncle Ed and Lisa sit in silence. Lisa’s taken off Granddad’s oxygen mask (Ed: “Is that a good idea?” Lisa: “I don’t think it’s going to do any harm.”) He lies there, eyes closed, mouth open. Just like Grandma did.

Ed goes to be with Susan. Lisa and I sit with Granddad, waiting for the funeral home guy to arrive. I’m suffering mild visual and audio hallucinations. Over the next half hour, on different occasions I could swear he moans, that his hand moves, that his chest is rising and falling under the sheet.

I also see the lights in the hallway outside the room flicker, but Lisa tells me that’s actually happening.


After his body’s taken away, Lisa and I pillage the room. That sounds awful, but wheeling the television and the rest of my grandfather’s worldly possessions out of the nursing home, I did feel like I was doing something fundamentally wrong.

It was awful, but neither Lisa nor I wanted to go back and do it the next day, and it did have to be done. Best to get it over with.


Talking to my sister, later.

“I’m glad you had a chance to say goodbye, but I’m surprised he held on as long as he did.”

“We had a little conversation last night,” she says. “In my dream, he said he’d wait for me. So I shouldn’t speed to get here.”


Granddad appeared in one of my dreams a few nights ago. But I don’t remember what he said to me, if anything. Even before he went deaf, we didn’t talk much. But I still enjoyed his company. I hope he enjoyed mine.


Thursday, August 7, 2008


My grandfather died last night.

The time between the decision to go with comfort measures only and his death was relatively short, which was a mercy for me and, I suspect, the rest of the family, and relatively peaceful, which I hope was a mercy for him.

I'm a bit of a wreck at the moment, on every front--physically, emotionally...OK, I'm a bit of a wreck on two fronts. And I've got a lot of catching up to do once the sleep-deprivation pixies that've been dancing in my peripheral vision for the last 18 hours or so go away. So there probably won't be a lot of posting for the next little while.

Anyway. If you were wondering why I haven't been posting lately, or why I haven't replied to your recent e-mail, now you know. On the upside, you will probably now be spared the lengthy post on how disturbingly hairy my back has become in recent years that I was toying with writing before I got a phone call saying the nursing home staff couldn't rouse Granddad.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Yet Another Reason Not To Go Greyhound

It probably reflects poorly on me that the first thing I thought when I read the headline "Decapitation Suspect appears in court" was "Suspect? They couldn't tell if he'd had his head cut off just by looking at him?"

Having gotten some of the details of the story--which isn't as close to home as I'd originally thought; the bus started in Edmonton but it was nearly to its destination of Winnipeg when the stabbing/beheading occurred--the potential for bad jokes based on this unfortunate occurrence are nearly endless...

But no. I'll take the high road on this one. But I won't be taking it by bus.