Monday, September 29, 2008

Too long between posts.

Too long between posts.
From an e-mail I sent out to a creator today:
"On page 14, I'm a little worried about the "doong" sound effect obscuring impact of the cookie. I can't believe I just typed that sentence."
I had insomnia again last night, which is probably part of the reason that passage still gives me the giggles.


As I wasn't sleeping, I decided to start thinking about a story idea Nick Johnson came up with that I'm going to work with him on. Naturally, this led to a flurry of inspiration for a completely different story that we're also going to be working on.

By the time I dragged my exhausted carcas from bed, I had the entire first issue figured out. I then spent most of the day that wasn't taken up with editing staring at the monitor and drooling, willing myself to write the damn script. It didn't work. I may have five pages done by the end of the night. If I'm lucky.

But I think instead I'll take another pass at the last 22 pages of the ReBoot webcomic script. Working on something that's there is something I can handle better than deblanking a screen at the moment. Plus, ReBoot pays. Really, there shouldn't be any question of what I work on right now, but I was inspired. Inspired to drool...


Drawn & Quarterly creator Pascal Blanchet did a presentation yesterday afternoon at the Edmonton Public Library's monthly Writer's Corner series. His art is undeniably excellent, and I've got to admire someone who puts as much thought into format as he does. But strangely, what really occupied me as I walked out of the library wasn't that. Instead, I found myself examining the notion of the graphic novel - a term I've generally regarded as interchangeable with "comic book", used primarily by those who're looking to sell their comic work to someone culturally trained to dismiss comics as kids stuff.

While my understanding of the term is that it was coined by a comic creator (either Eisner, Steranko, or Kane, depending on who's telling the story), Blanchet comes from a completely different, non-narrative tradition. His work doesn't use most standard techniques of comic narrative (dialogue balloons, multiple images in sequence on a page). It is sequential images telling a story, with text interspersed. In terms of format, it's closer to children's picture books than anything else, though it's clearly aimed at mature readers. Calling it a comic seems wrong, as would calling it a picture book. So what should such a work be called?


What sound would an aggressively flung cookie hitting a metal surface make, anyway? It's a chocolate chip cookie, I believe.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008


-First of all, someone owes Chris Claremont a HUGE royalty cheque. In almost every list of speculative fiction story submission guidelines I’ve read, there’s a point where the editors (or whoever wrote that particular list) says if you want to write this stuff, you should really read new material in the genre, because whatever’s filtered into popular culture, films or TV or whatever, is inevitably going to be ten years behind the literature. By my reckoning, HEROES is about 20 years behind modern superhero comics, storywise.

-And the same someone owes whoever wrote Cronenberg’s version of THE FLY a smaller cheque than the one owed Claremont.

-Ali Larter’s new character isn’t a psychotic killer or a pornographic webcam girl, but rather a high-powered political advisor. Who sleeps with her older boss and wanders around their hotel suite in lingerie. When did Frank Miller join the Heroes writing staff?

-Can we please declare a moratorium on use of the term “the butterfly effect”? Or at least take it as given that anyone watching anything that involves the butterfly effect will have enough pop cultural and/or scientific knowledge to grasp what the butterfly effect is without having to endure the tedium of a character explain what it is? Please?

-Best line of the first two hours: “I asked you not to open the safe!” No place to go from there but down. Someone should give George Takei his own show, on the condition that he be obviously pissed off for the entire thing. I’d watch that.

-Claire can’t feel anything! Oh, the non-humanity!

-Wait, Mama Petrelli is Sylar’s mother, too? Is there anyone on the show who hasn’t sprung from her loins? Maybe that’s her power, superhuman fertility.

-OK, now that I think about it, even with Sylar that’s still only three characters she gave birth to. I have it in my head there’s at least one more that’s been revealed, but can’t remember who it is, if it’s anyone at all. Even so: she gave birth to Peter and Sylar, which is one incredibly superpowered son too many for me to suspend my disbelief.

-Mind you, most of the dialogue is too much for me to suspend my disbelief.

-The guy who owes Claremont and the Fly writer? Also ought to send a cheque to M. Night Shyamalan, for using the Sixth Sense’s twist to get Malcolm McDowell back on the show.

-“Well, we don’t like her because she’s incompetent and her powers are uncontrollable, but she did manage to take down Sylar. I know, let’s fire her and let her walk out of this place where we imprison people with uncontrollable powers. Yeah! That’s a good idea.”

-Hiro’s nemesis can apparently run faster than time. When did Grant Morrison join the Heroes writing staff?

-In the future, everyone will be emo.

-I would’ve liked these episodes a lot better if it actually was the turtle talking to Parkman.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What? I mean... WHAT?!?!

"I'm just saying, I don't remember a clarion call that said, 'Fannie and Freddie are a disaster. Loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster.'" Neil Cavuto, Fox News anchor and total douchebag.

We don't get FoxNews, and to the best of my recollection, prior to fifteen minutes ago I'd never come Cavuto's name before in my life (knowing my recollection and reading habits, it's almost certain I have come across his name before in my life... maybe I repressed it...). But it only took him 26 words to get on the People I'm Surprised Haven't Been Strung Up From A Lamp Post Yet List.

Hermits have the right idea.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


So let me see if I've got this straight: George Bush wants Congress to approve of a plan that would see 700 billion taxpayer dollars (theoretically) used to pay off bad debt accumulated by AIG, with no strings attached and no oversight or accountability for

I can't even finish that sentence.

I've tried starting this post a dozen times so far and each time I can't get to the end of the first sentence before my mind breaks. How the people who screwed up this badly haven't been strung up from lamp posts yet is absolutely beyond me. And their lobbyists have the nerve to try and impose terms on the bailout? I mean... I don't even know what I mean. One question has jammed my mind: How is this possible? How is ANY OF IT possible?



"Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation." John McCain


Seriously. The lamp posts are RIGHT THERE.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What a Day Yin/What a Day Yang

Happy Andy the Optimist says:

"So I talked with an emmy-winning director/producer about developing something together this afternoon. How was your day?"

Andrew the Frustrated Comic Writer says:

"What kind of #*&%ed up situation is it where an emmy-winning producer-director wants to talk to me about developing something and comic editors don't?"


Quotes of the Linkblog

"I know that many times, in my life, while living it, someone would come up and, because of I had good readiness, in terms of how I was wired, when they asked that—whatever they asked—I would just not blink, because, knowing that, if I did blink, or even wink, that is weakness, therefore you can’t, you just don’t. You could, but no—you aren’t." George Saunders in The New Yorker, talking about how he's qualified to be the Vice President. Or Something like that. It's funny. Just read it.

"He claims that agents and editors are always on the lookout for the next hot female writer. Which is awesome, because I've got two books in various states of disrepair. Do I sent the ovary in the envelope with the manuscript, or separately? What's the conventional wisdom on that?" Teevee Writer Kay Reindl kicks the crap out of Stephen King's latest Entertainment Weekly article.

"You can expect, at any moment, to turn on the TV and see a weathergirl pointing to some radar blob out in the Gulf of Mexico and making two basic meteorological points with her best Southern drawl:
(1) There is no need to panic.
(2) We could all be killed."
Scott O. Brown, on the best way for people in Alabama to survive hurricane season.

Scott's also got a new strip running in DC's online Zuda Comics contest, MY DADDY'S A SUPERVILLAIN, which you should go and vote for because Zuda's stupid system still refuses to let me register and vote.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Reality has a liberal bias (Political Ranting from a Discouraged Pinko)

OK, I'm Canadian and we've got our own election looming and I should really be paying attention to that, but damn me if I'm not fascinated by the "Sarah Palin phenomenon". I can't help myself. My long-held opinion that American politics are inherently more interesting than the Canadian version because the US's involves nuclear (or, as I guess it was spelled in her speech to the Republican convention, "new-clear") weapons has never been more true. The possibility that a nutter like Palin might actually end up in a position where her finger's on the button should frighten the living bejesus out of every sane American, but at least they have some sort of say in whether she gets there or not (dirty "voter fraud" tricks to prevent lower class Americans from voting notwithstanding). The rest of us just get to watch in stunned disbelief as McCain and Palin blatantly lie their way into contention to win what should've been a no-contest election.

It looks like the love affair between the media and Palin is coming to an end (finally) and she and McCain are both starting to be called on their repeated falsehoods (which doesn't seem to have stopped them from continuing to repeat them, at least not yet.) So maybe by the time November rolls around the people who're buying the "We're mavericks who'll stop lobbyists and earmarks in Washington, cut taxes and win the war in whatever country we've invaded under false pretenses this year" line will know their actual records on such things, vote accordingly, and the world, or at least the United States' portion of it, will make some kind of sense again. Not that I honestly expect Barack Obama to be a fabulous president, but man...I mean, McCain/Palin is a ticket that wouldn't just be another four more years of Bush - it'd be four years of worse than Bush, something I'd have thought inconceivable until I got a look at a list of McCain's foreign policy advisors and heard Palin's position on getting the United States into a shooting war with Russia--I mean, her position on bringing former Soviet states in to NATO (something NATO's own membership requirements would make null and void even if she did ascend to the Presidency, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster.)

But for me, the REALLY interesting thing about McCain/Palin is the reaction of the American left. I've never seen anything remotely resembling the kind of palpable rage that's floating around the progressive circles I keep some sort of track of. I can understand where the anger's coming from: the Republicans have made a senile warmonger and a small-minded hypocrite their choice to lead the "free" world, and against all reason, the warmonger and the hypocrite actually stand a reasonable chance of winning. Minds have well and truly been boggled, and it must be admitted, mine is one of them. The simple shock of seeing anyone but the most rabid Republican partisans come out in support of this ticket was followed up by utter horror, then outrage, that the Republicans were getting away not just with foisting their bogus narrative and sleazy, race- and class-baiting tactics on the public unchallenged, but that such tactics actually (continue to) work in what one would hope would be an enlightened era. Of course they're mad. Seeing any large group of people being unbelievably #*&%ing stupid would make most people mad. I can barely leave the house anymore for fear that I'll start berating total strangers for their presumed idiocy.

A couple weeks back, there was a brilliant segment on Jon Stewart that contrasted Republican shills taking exact opposite positions on issues. There was little (if any) commentary from Stewart, just one clip of Rove, O'Reilly, et al saying one thing, then another of them saying the exact opposite when it was applied to someone on their side. I'm not convinced the Daily Show writers thought the bit was actually funny - I laughed pretty hard, but then, I have a superhuman sense of humour and can laugh at darn near anything. The piece dripped with contempt, for the individuals involved, for the system that encourages their hypocrisy, and I strongly suspect, for the ignorant masses that support them (though that might just be a happy projection on my part.)

And some sick part of me is devouring CNN (we don't get MSNBC) and other available MSM sources, waiting for some of that much-deserved contempt - or, failing that, some simple investigative journalism and objective reporting - to come through. "Liberal media", my ass.



The democrats suck too. But slightly less.



The Hamlet Facebook newsfeed.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dribs and Drabs

Chris Striker of The Higher Authority website has interviewed The Future of Comics (I) Fiona Staples. Which is cool.



"You know that story about the frog and the scorpion...? He's the scorpion." Lee Nordling, who gave me permission to quote him, but not to say who he was referring to.



A Palin I can believe in.


Monday, September 8, 2008

The drought is over...

...soon, actual new television shows I've not yet seen will start appearing on television. Tonight it's the season opener of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Tomorrow, Fringe, which I've got a feeling isn't going to grow on me the way Lost eventually did, but I'll hang onto it through September, until more new TV shows up. Doctor Who starts up on CBC on Friday - I managed not to watch the fourth season via alternate means, as it's something T and I like to do together.

By October, I should be back to knowing what day of the week it actually is because of what I watched last night.



"The thing that will eventually doom much of American business is that your executives pay no price for failure. You can become CEO of a corporation, do everything wrong, drive your company into the ground and then retire and buy several mansions with the money they will pay you for doing this." Sony co-founder Akio Morita, quoted by Mark Evanier.

“D.J., it doesn’t matter. There will always be new creators lined up to work with us because of the Hollywood deals.” Platinum Studios' COO Brian Altounian, quoted by DJ Coffman.

If the quote is accurate, it marks quite a change from when I started working with Platinum. Back then, new creators were attracted to the company because they were the only game in town when it came to unknowns pitching original material, and because they promised to publish the comics they contracted people to write - verbally, in e-mail, occasionally even publicly online, but not contractually.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Krazy Kirkman's Kall to Kreators!

(This one's strictly for comics folk. Sorry, Mum.)

"Anyway, back to that Kirkman video. I liked it better when Warren Ellis did it, because at least he was profane. Kirkman is just way too sober. I mean, depressingly so. If I wanted to watch some sad, bearded, pasty white guy blat on about comics, I’d read my my monologues in to a mirror again." Brad Curran, talking about Robert Kirkman's call to Big-Name Comic Creators to abandon WFH material in favour of creator-owned material he (Kirkman, not Curran) would probably prefer get published by Image.

Speaking of Kirkman's video, The Future of Comics (I) Fiona Staples brought it up at the Canadian Geek messageboards, which led to a bit of a tete-a-tete between her, Happy Harbor's Jay Bardyla, and, later on, me (among others) on the merits of the idea - which I believe most of us agree isn't going to happen anytime soon, regardless of its potential positive or negative effect on "the industry". In the exchange I think Jay and I both come off looking a bit like curmudgeonly grumps being grumpy about different things. Is the disconnect in our positions between the perspective of the successful retailer and the frustrated creator? Or just a realistic optimist vs. a cynical pessimist?* You be the judge.


*Actually, I feel comfortable stating at least some of it's comics fan vs. devil's advocate.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Things I Hate #4,527, or Why I Make A Lousy Co-Writer

Compromising in a situation where I'm 100% right and the person I'm compromising with is 100% wrong. Now we're both going to look like we were only 50% right - if we're lucky - and if I think about it anymore it'll drive me completely round the bend.


The idea that someone might end up judging my work based on creative decisions I didn't make (or actively opposed) is one of those things that really horrifies me. If my name goes on something, I'd really like to be proud of it. "Good enough" is what you say when you run out of time, not when it'd be more convenient to move onto the next thing.

I can't even go on writing about this. Little explosions of translucent light and colour are popping in front of my eyes, my head is pounding. I think I may have given myself a stroke.


Monday, September 1, 2008

"In a World Gone Mad..."

Just read on Mark Evanier's blog that Don LaFontaine, the voice of almost every movie trailer for the last thirty years, has passed away. This bums me out, partly if not mostly because I learned in a video from another post of ME's that LaFontaine would record answering machine messages for strangers who asked him if he had the time. That piece of arguably minor generosity on his part turned him from a guy whose job I wish I had into a Very Cool Person in my book.

In any event, this is one of those times where saying "It'll never be the same again" really does apply, at least when one's talking about movie advertising.


The Slumbering Giant Awakens. Briefly.

Hell Month appears to be over, and it actually ended on a high note with the Pop Print Festival.

But four days of listening to academics took its toll. I'm still recovering, both physically and in terms of work/e-mail/blogging.

Quote of the conference goes to Dark Horse Editor Rachel Edidin, who, in response to a question about what it's like to be a woman in the comic industry, said something along the lines of "It's about the same as being a man in the comic industry, but with a vagina."

That's a paraphrase. I wrote the quote down verbatim - I even know where it is, but my knees are giving me serious grief and I don't want to go down stairs if it can possibly be avoided. But if I got anything substantially wrong, I'll let you know in a future installment of this thing called blog.


In other news, I can't decide which Palin is funnier, Michael or Sarah.

But seriously, while the business with her daughter does arguably highlight a kind of hypocrisy on Palin's part, I'm really disgusted by the coverage of the whole thing on CNN (yes, I know, I shouldn't watch CNN, I can't help it, I'm addicted.) There's plenty of valid criticism to be made of Palin; questions of whether she can "do the job while raising a family" are completely out of line. She couldn't do the job if she did have a family, and it's kind of sickening to see the question framed that way. But then, pretty much every aspect of McCain's blatant attempt to snag disaffected Hillary voters is kind of disgusting. As far as I can tell, it's failed miserably, which gives me hope for the future of mankind.

Meanwhile, it sounds like there's going to be a Canadian election pretty soon. Pretty soon, as in, it'll be announced, voted on, and over with before the US Supreme Court's anointed the next American President. I love Canadian elections - blink and you miss them. We're efficient if nothing else.