Title: Shazam!
Logline: A mild-mannered young man becomes Captain Marvel, the world’s mightiest mortal, when he says the magic word “Shazam!”
Writers: Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow
To be adapted from DC Comic’s 1970’s comic book. William Goldman was previously working on the script in March 2003. Michael Uslan will executive produce. First set up in December 2002.

Hmmm…to go from William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride, Misery, Maverick, A Few Good Men, and lots more) to the writing duo that made up about one-third of the writing team on Toy Story and also worked together on Money Talks, Cheaper by the Dozen, and the upcoming Garfield movie. No offense to Cohen and Sokolow–they’ve proven they can get the job done, but I was really eager to see what Goldman could do with this character. I’ll wait to see what they do with it, but for now, that eagerness has faded a little. But it won’t completely fade…I spent too many hours in front of the TV watching Shazam! and Isis as a kid. I wonder if they ever considered turning that Isis cartoon into a movie? I know there was a movie sale based on the French novel, “La Revanche d’Isis,” but it’s not really the same.

There was a time…back in the day…waaay back in the day…little bit more…right there where I’m a bundle of youthful optimism and enthusiasm (the only difference now being that youthful part). We had a routine in my family where we’d make a pilgrimage every other weekend from our rinky-dink town to a larger city nearby where they actually had a mall–fascinating place with shopping and toys and games and Chick-fil-a and books. I was a big fan of books, so while the rest of my family wandered the other stores, I went to the bookstore. But I wasn’t drawn to the novels or magazines there. I went straight to the spinner rack.

And I wasn’t the only one. At all times, there would be a half dozen or more kids there circling around the spinner rack and browsing through comics. And we had a blast. We’d talk about what’s happening with our favorite characters, point out different storylines that the others just had to check out, and discuss all kinds of things–movies, games, bikes, and other fun kid stuff. It was a social event that could go on for hours, and we’d enjoy every minute of it. Everyone there was enthusiastic about comics, and they weren’t afraid to tell everyone what was so cool about a book. Some people in the store would look at us funny, some would even try to distance themselves from us, but some would get intrigued and join us in conversation. Comics were fun to talk about, and if one person walked away from that spinner rack with a new book to try out, we were elated.

Then the spinner racks faded away, and the kids found some place else to congregate and socialize. Personally, I started spending more time in the arcade, but it wasn’t the same. I didn’t buy quite as many comic books after that. Without all those recommendations of cool books I should try, I just kept to my normal books and didn’t deviate too much from that. The worst part though–I missed being a part of something special…something magical. A magic that disappeared from the world forever. At least that’s what I thought.

Late one Saturday night recently, I needed to pick up a book for some research, so I decided to check the Waldenbooks at the mall near my house. As I walked toward the back of the store, I noticed a gathering of over a dozen young teens in the corner of the store. So, I took a closer look and saw they were all hanging around the big digest-sized manga display/kiosk in the store–the one with books on every side that you could walk around. They were all flipping through books and socializing like I used to. Telling each other about their favorite characters and stories. Talking about new stuff coming out. Recommending books to people new to manga that came over to check out the display. Talking about movies, books, games and other fun kid stuff.

But I didn’t find my book there, so I went to the Barnes & Noble down the street. And guess what I saw? Another display of digest-sized manga books, and more kids hanging around and socializing. It made me happy to see that kind of enthusiasm again. It’s always nice to have a place where it doesn’t matter if that’s the cool thing or the “in” thing…where you don’t care whether people are giving you funny looks or not. It’s something you enjoy, and you always have a place to go where you know others will feel the same way. A place out in the public where your enthusiasm carries over to passersby. A place to meet new friends. A place where you walk away spending more than you originally intended because someone just told you about a new series that sounds really cool. This place isn’t on an ordinary shelf where people have to wait behind someone else to get to a book…it’s at a display you can circle around and laugh and share stories and have fun…like the warm, roaring fire at camp.

Well, the new Tuesday webcomic at Movie Poop Shoot kicked off today.

Brat-halla follows the comedic misadventures of the Asgardian godlings from their early teen/elementary school days. Enjoy and keep an eye out for more of the brats each week.

This is the first year for Wizard’s new offering in Texas. Lots of good guests, the primary convention hotel sold out a long while back…as well as the Artist Alley tables and Exhibitor booths. There will be lots to see…and hopefully a good crowd to match the event. If there’s a strong showing from the Texas area, this will probably become a regular event. So, if you’re in the Dallas area (or anywhere close) and you like comics, pop culture, anime, and the like…hop on over to Wizard World Texas and have some fun.

A special thanks goes out to all the people who enjoyed the story enough to give it a nomination vote. I’ve received lots of great emails and feedback at conventions about the story, and the artist for the story is picking up pace (he’s taken over the penciling duties on an Image book). “Dungeon Bears: An 80s Parody” did make it onto the final voting ballot, so if you’ve read the story and enjoyed it, please go participate in the voting at the Comic Book Resources message boards (open to everyone…you just have to register with the messageboards). If you’re a fan of comics, the CBR message boards and website also contain lots of great information and interaction with other comic fans (and even some pros)…so poke around while you’re there and see if something in the site or the community catches your attention.

Now, for those that haven’t read Dungeon Bears yet, here’s a special treat for you (and for those that have read it but don’t want to dig it out of your longboxes ^_^)…I’m posting the entire story on my website for you to enjoy. The files are about 170K to 200K each in size (sorry lo-bandwith people, but I wanted to make sure it was still easily legible). The last two aren’t quite as high in quality as the first three (I scanned the last two pages in because I don’t have the lettered files yet). Enjoy!

Dungeon Bears page 1
Dungeon Bears page 2
Dungeon Bears page 3
Dungeon Bears page 4
Dungeon Bears page 5

With writing, there’s always something to learn…that’s one of my favorite parts of the job. Last year, I went to the Austin Film Festival with the goal of learning how to write a screenplay. This year, I went with the goal of figuring out what to do with the screenplays after I write them. I got to practice some pitching and realized my public speaking is a bit rusty…it was pretty apparent at times when I would tallk with some people and ramble on and on jumping from subject to subject every couple sentences (I need to take some theater classes or find a local Toastmasters group to get a little more comfortable with speaking again–use it or lose it). I did receive lots of great advice from too many people to list. It seemed like most of the people in attendance were more than happy to help out the newer writers, and that made things a lot of fun. Now, I need to take that advice and put it to good use.

Highlights from the AFF:

… Getting a chance one night to chat with Shane Black (writer of the Lethal Weapon series) and Sean Bridges (an Austin-area screenwriter)
… The Up-Close-And-Personal panel with Bryan Singer (Usual Suspects, X-Men, X2 director)
… Hanging out at the Driskill Bar with Kyle, Trace, Diana, Cathy and Victor
… Chatting briefly with Ted Elliot (writer for Shrek and Pirates of the Carribean)
… Meeting Renee O’Connor, Helena Beaven, and Dawn Higginbotham, who are working on their new movie, Diamonds and Guns
… Meeting lots of other second-rounders as well as semifinalists and finalists from the screenwriting competition
… Having a producer ask me to send them something

And the other side of the fence:

… Seeing Bryan Singer get mobbed by tons of people even when he was trying to leave to go somewhere else (and just walking away without getting a chance to talk to him…didn’t want to add to the mobbage)
… Sobering up for that long drive home after hanging out at the Driskill Bar
… Not having a non-comedy screenplay to send to that producer

Met a lot of people….learned a lot…and had a lot of fun. I’ll write up more about the festival a little later (after I spend some extra time with the family). If you’re not familiar with the Austin Film Festival, you can find out more about it here.

Gearing up for Halloween is fun…especially with all the dark and horror-inspired comics showing up tomorrow. Look at the titles listed from Diamond for this week:

Sword of Dracula
Vampire the Masquerade: Isabel
Drawing On Your Nightmares
Dark Days
R. A. Salvatore’s Demon Wars
DC’s Demon: Driven Out
Frankenstein Mobster
Walking Dead
AP Chillers

And my favorite title from this week’s listing…Little Vampire Does Kung Fu

He did the mash. He did the monster mash.
The monster mash. It was a graveyard smash.
He did the mash. It caught on in a flash.
He did the mash. He did the monster mash.

Earlier this year, I wrote my first screenplay–a fantasy-genre comedic adventure story, Arazel & Xarenia. I decided to send it out to a few screenwriting contests to put it to use while I worked on more screenplays. Well, today I recieved this letter from the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting (one of the higher profile contests out there). My screenplay wasn’t among the 320 that advanced to the quarterfinals, but the note at the bottom of the letter stated that it was “among the next 50 scripts.” In the top 370 out of 6048 entries…with a comedy…in the fantasy-genre…that’s something I can be really proud of.

As soon as I started work on coding something, someone sends me a link to a program that might work. I’m running it through its paces though. The program is PostNuke, and it looks like it might be flexible enough to handle what I’m looking for…with a little tweaking that is. ^_^

On Friday, July 25th, the Alamo Draft House will be featuring a Dracula Night hosted by Jason Henderson, writer of the new Image Comics series, Sword of Dracula. If you’re in Austin, and you like vampires and comics, this will be an event to check out.

Bob the battleship.
The very friendly battleship.
He does backflips.
He takes us on trips.
He’s Booooo-oooooob…the battleship.

And my crazy comic story about a battleship kiddie show host that loses it on the set one day will be in stores in August (via Digital Webbing Presents #10).

Finally…since I’m still working on getting my current scripts section updated (and adding my new screenplays section), here’s a little sample–the opening sequence of my Arazel & Xarenia screenplay (it’s in pdf format). Enjoy!