A question about comic book writing and artwork…

If all I want to do is write comic books and not draw them, why does everyone tell me I need an artist to show what I can do as a writer?

Francois-Marie Arouet V., Paris, TX

Dear Francois-Marie,

That’s totally a myth! And to prove it, I’ve drugged dragged Mythbusters supreme, Adam and Jamie, over to the Creative Adviser’s editorial cubicle of despair to shed some light on this subject.

Read the rest of the article over at Pop Syndicate

Yeah, I haven’t been keeping up with the blogging very well lately due to all the programming I’ve been working on for my various websites. I’ve made enough significant headway I think I can start putting some of that time back into blogging, so here we go…

Visions of Futures Past Ever wanted to look into the future? Take a little peek to see your successful future and maybe catch a glimpse of some lottery tickets? Well, this isn’t that kind of future vision… this deals with the mind’s ability to envision the future–thinking about dinner or picturing what you’ll be doing tomorrow or playing out tonight’s game in your head. Things we do all the time. Well, researchers have finally been able to map out the portions of the brain responsibile for this, and interestingly enough, it uses a lot of the same portions of the brain also responsible for remembering. Sure, it’s long been thought that your ability to place yourself mentally in future events used your memories to build up this little future mindscape, but it had never been proven until now.

No, there is too much… let me sum up. A DVD that gives you a summary of the show Heroes? That seems like a very odd thing to put out there considering they have all the episodes available for free at their website (or if you prefer less commercials and larger viewing size, you can buy all the episodes at iTunes).

• On the subject of Heroes, does anyone have any theories on the symbol that keeps showing up (tattoo on Niki/Jessica’s back, on Dr. Suresh’s book, as the logo for Isaac’s comic publisher)? I know the popular theory is that it’s a cross-section of a DNA double helix (the fact that Isaac’s comic publisher is “Helix Comics Group” would seem to lean things that way), but I’ve been doing some research on my own into another area… vodoun (aka voodoo). This hit me when I saw the Haitian wearing the symbol on a necklace (in Haitia, you predominantly have Catholicism, but you also have vodoun). From what I can remember of vodoun (excuse me if I’m a bit rusty on the subject… it’s been a while since I’ve read anything on the subject), you have family spirits (loa or loua?) inherited by families. These spirits act as protectors for their families and can even enter the dreams of family members. They can also take over their bodies for a short period of time via a trance giving the human body the abilities (and personality) of the loa (most of the time this trance is use to warn families of misfortune… just like Isaac’s trances and the trances can also be powerful enough to force out the human’s personality making them blackout while the loa controls their body… like Niki’s personality switches). Anyways, the thing that made the connection is the fact loas can be summoned through the use of special symbols called veves. Interestingly enough, some of the loas are pretty interesting:

Erzulie This loa has two aspects that I’m aware of… one (Freda) represents femininity and love. Her other and much darker aspect (Dantor) is a warrior acting as a fierce protector of women and children.

Ogoun The warrior–essentially the god of war. He is also a spirit associated with blood… from violence and also from family members walking away unscathed from injuries when possessed by him.

Badessy A minor loa who rules the sky.

Papa Legba The loa who taught the mankind how to use and interpret the oracles (at least his African counterpart, Eshu, did).

And I’m sure there are others that show some similarities, but I don’t have all my reference books and such with me (so I’m going mostly off memory and quick net searches). I doubt they’d go that route, but it would be funny to see everyone’s reaction if they got deeply into all the genetic side of things and made the switcharoo where it turns out to be magic. ^_^

I’m a prose writer, can I make the transition to screenwriting?

Anne R., Lobster Bay, Maine

Dear Anne,

With resolutions flying about like spitballs in a school cafeteria, it’s the perfect time of the year for a question like this. And why’s that? It’s the diet time of year, and you’ll need to put your writing on a diet to jump over to screenwriting. You generally have up to 2 hours of screen time (approximately 110-120 pages) to get your story told in screenwriting, while novels can ramble on for 3-5 hundred pages (and up to 800+ pages if you read books like the Wheel of Time series).

So, you’re probably used to fitting your novel into a size 16, but to sell that screenplay, it needs to be slim and sexy. Don’t expect your screenplay to turn any producer/studio eyes unless you can squeeze it into a size 2. So, how do you do that? With The Creative Adviser’s Superfabulicious 5-Step Screenwriting Diet for Novelists.

Read more of this article here.

Imagine an age where the average house cost about $4000, the average car sold for under $800, and you could get a gallon of gas for around 10 cents.  In 1937, $1.5 million probably wasn’t easy to part with for a movie… especially an animated movie.  But on this day back in 1937, that movie hit the theaters and had itself a successful run over the years.

The movie?  Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

And it’s original domestic gross take?  $66 million … a return of over 40 times the original investment.
Plus, it’s been re-released to theaters three times for an additional $118 million in domestic gross (for a total return of over 120 times the original cost).

I wonder what Hollywood would be like if someone was ever able to match that kind of success with one of these $100 million movies.

It seems like everyone in Hollywood is against me and trying to keep me out. How do I get past all the industry “gatekeepers”?

Wiley C., Tuscon, AZ

Dear Wiley,

You really wanna get past the people keeping you from who you need to know? Get yourself a copy of the secret catalogue of industry insiders… Gate Gear. Here’s an excerpt of career-changing listings available from Gate Gear:
… Read the rest of this Creative Adviser article here.

Been catching up on my spec sale logline reading (so we’re not as timely with this as The Beat) and noticed an interesting announcement a few days ago:

The Shadow
A crime-fighter skulks in the shadows wearing a hat and cape, and has the power to cloud men’s minds. Produced by Buckaroo Entertainment and Comic Book Movies.

Let’s see… took ’em 12 years to consider taking another shot at bringing this character to the big screen (maybe this one will have less Baldwin in it).  But that’s not really what I want to discuss.  I want to discuss this production company, “Comic Book Movies”.  Why?  Because of the name, of course.  With all these companies and people out there trying to get those fancy (often times crazy) names to establish something cool, hip, trendy, different, and odd enough to push through a trademark without hitting one held by someone else, it’s nice to see a simple name that says what it does right there in the title (we’ll just overlook the fact that they’re producing a film about a comic book based on a radio show and popular pulp magazine series).

From what I can tell, the production company was established by Michael Uslan.  Uslan’s listed as a producer on such comic-to-film epics as Swamp Thing (and The Return of Swamp Thing), Batman (pretty much all of them since the late 80s… live action and animated; good and bad), Catwoman, and Constantine.  He also shows up as a producer for the movies (in varying stages of development/pre-production) The Dark Knight, The Spirit, and one I’ve mentioned in this blog before… Shazam!  At the very least, he does have some comic-2-film street cred (yeah, I know… there are some not-so-great movies in that bunch, but on the streets, a rap sheet still gives you some rep), and the Comic Book Movies production company does have a strategic partnership with LucasFilm’s Skywalker Sound.

And besides all those comic book films, I did find another tidbit on Uslan that earned a little respect from me (within the realm of comic books)… looks like he once donated 30,000 comic books from his private collection to the Lilly Library (Indiana University).  I know I have a lot of comic books myself (longboxes stacked practically to the ceiling), but I don’t think I have even half that many comics… and if these were donated out of his private collection, that probably means he has a lot more stashed away somwhere.
Okay, enough rambling from me for now.

… well-rested. ^_^

Oddly enough, not being able to sleep at night used to be normal for me. For over a decade, I had sleep apnea, and since I wasn’t really getting much benefit from sleeping, I’d stay up working until the wee hours of the morning working on stuff (for a long stretch of that time period I was actually up late doing work work). Before that, I had an extremely hyper metabolism. Yep, I used to be one of those people hated because of the ability to eat two or three double bacon cheeseburgers, chili cheese tater tots, and a couple milkshakes for lunch without gaining a pound (“used to be” because I blew out my knee and had to cut back on my running, so all that eating finally caught up with me). There was the other side of being hyper… having so much energy, you have trouble getting to sleep at night, and I dealt with that for many, many years before the sleep apnea kicked in.
So, why am I having trouble sleeping tonight (and for the past few nights as well)?

kari_jak_attack_1.jpgWell, the sleep apnea was fixed via surgery (and allergy immunotherapy), but it looks like my metabolism is making a comeback. I’ve been getting back to regular workouts, eating a little better, and drinking my fair share of green tea (along with a ton of water). Part of my reverse resolution (resolution made in November to be completed by January 1st… give it a more immediate deadline rather than giving it a year and allowing procrastination to sink in) was to get my workouts started again and hit a specific weight goal by January first. Well, i’m one-third of the way to my weight goal, and it’s getting later and later at night until I get tired enough to fall asleep. I’ve been working on different things each night to kill the time until the drowsiness kicks in… tonight I decided to blog.

Mind you, I don’t have work in the morning, so that’s a good thing (and I’m hoping to have this under control before I start back at work again). And the time has been productive. Been tinkering with my websites (in case you didn’t notice the new digs here), getting ahead on Brat-halla (so Seth and Anthony can relax a bit over the holidays), fleshing out plots and story ideas for the new webcomic Seth and I will be launching early next year, and I’ve managed to get 12 pages into my next screenplay (I’m shooting for sending it out as a Nicholl entry in early January). I’ve also been catching up on a lot of movie watching (and analyzing) I’ve missed out on (I love movies, and I went through a serious dry spell for a while as I hopped from critical project to critical project at work).

The bad thing is… a lot of that productive work has been at the cost of other projects. I’ll start working on an article or pitch that I need to get done, and when I hit a snag, I’ll go work on something else for a little while to let the thoughts percolate. And a little while quickly becomes a few hours (or in one case, half a day). Sure, I can say, “Well, you’re getting stuff done. And it’s stuff that you’ve been meaning to do for a while.”, but it still feels like procrastination in disguise.
And that’s why I’m writing this. It’s a reminder to me that next time, I need to just power through those pieces I’ve been jumping away from to work on other things.

Of course, by taking the time to write this, I’ve jumped away from those other projects I should be powering through right now. I should get back to those.

The malfunction of some modern conveniences can lead to some interesting inconveniences every now-and-then…

• Typing up a 650 word email… on your cell phone (plus this blog post).
• Having to access the internet from your phone in the first place when you’re staying at a hotel with free Internet access.
• Said hotel is also in Denver with a non-functioning heater.
• Gloves don’t work very well with a cell phone thumbboard.
• Freezing fingers don’t work very well with a cell phone thumbboard either.

Well, I’ve been trying to catch up on some coding at various websites, and I’ve hit that stage where all the code is starting to blur together. But I’m making progress… here’s what you have to look forward to:

• A new Scryptic Studios website. I’ve rebuilt it from scratch to fix a bunch of stuff and make it easier to navigate and maintain. It took me a little longer to work all my customizations back into the site after I had to upgrade the software (to deal with security issues), but I should be ready to launch the new version of Scryptic by month’s end (just need to finish testing my migration code to get the articles and resource database links into the new site).
• A new blog site for me. I’m gonna be switching over from Blogger to WordPress. Once the new blogging software (and my custom code) is in place and working well, it’ll be much easier for me to get updates out here.
• Comic Book Headlines will be breaking off onto its own site (with its own spiffy domain name… feel free to guess what it is). I’m working on a few extras for that as well when I move it over.
• Many of you already know about the Brat-halla move over to Graphic Smash. With the move, I’m also reworking the main Brat-halla site (also looking at migrating it to WordPress for the blog, redoing some of the character pages and adding some extras in).
• For those that were reading along with the Random Encounters storyline… well, there will be more. I have something in the works that people might enjoy, but I have to finish prepping and getting it rolling. As soon as that project gets underway, I’ll be ready to start throwing more of the short prose chapters out there.

And for some additional quick updates:

NaNoWriMo kicks off in under a week. I’m giving it a shot this year… and I plan on having lots of fun with it. I’ll keep everyone updated as I go.
• Got word on a few interesting sites out there for writers while I was chatting with people at the Austin Film Festival this year. A couple are already active and the other is getting ready to launch soon… I’m looking over the sites, so if they look helpful, I’ll post about them here and at Scryptic.

… began this week, and that’s where I’ll be today and tomorrow. Oddly enough, it’s my first two-day weekend in the past six weeks, and although the writing life can be considered work, this aspect of it is fun for me. If you’re a writer or filmmaker in the Austin area and haven’t been to the Austin Film Festival, I highly recommend it. It’s like a little bit of Hollywood in Austin (but without most of the stress… unless you’re competing in the Pitch competition).

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