Saturday, October 20, 2007

Just No Time

No time…just no time. It just never ends, it seems. I’m not talking about time itself as that (as far as we know and can surmise) that it doesn’t end…although when/if it does, the universe as we know it will also so the whole point becomes not only moot, but our realm of understanding. No, what I’m talking about is time…as in not having nearly enough of it. Just don’t have time to spare. I look back to when I had Caliber. I had my stores also at that time, had a three year stint at McFarlane Toys, was President of Stabur Graphics, wrote a lot of comics, and was heavily involved in raising four kids and all the demands (although enjoyable) that entails. Now I’m a freelance writer, I teach, and my kids are getting older so that the demands are nearly as great…yet I seem more strapped for time than before. I know everyone bitches about not having enough time and all these newspaper and magazine articles give credence to all of us being consumed by the rat chase, but it does seem true. I hardly watch any TV…I don’t get a chance to read as much as I’d like. I’m a fast reader so I tend to catch up on all my science magazines (I teach Biology so I have to stay informed) at lunch or breakfast. I’m one of those people that has to read while eating although not at dinner as that’s the family meal that we all sit and discuss the day. And that is something that surprises me…how very few families actually do that. My teaching does take up some time even though I’m getting into the position of teaching classes I’ve taught before so it should be easier. However, I can’t just teach last semester’s stuff…it seems so out of date for the next semester. It’s a little ironic as one of the classes I teach is Evolution that you’d think would be a rather static course outline but the new discoveries coming in almost daily have caused a lot of rethinking and added to the incredible array of evidence. So, I am constantly modifying all my courses as I go through each semester. This semester I’m teaching five classes and being biology, most of them have laboratories so of course, that adds quite a bit of time to it. I decided next semester that I’m dropping down to four. It’s only one class but it will give me a much more manageable schedule so even though it appears to only be a 20% reduction, I actually think it will end up being closer to 40-50%, just because of the scheduling aspects. I’m probably like most people…got so much to get to that it’s almost like paralysis as you start one thing then have to move to something else, so you hesitate on moving on something that you can’t finish. But I’m trying to line up the priorities, essentially for the new year. The rest of the year will pretty much be tying up all the loose ends and preparing for the new endeavors. I HAVE to work on the Deadworld novel. Gary Francis, my writing partner on it, has been pretty much flying solo on the project so now its time for me to step up. But I also have to work on the Deadworld screenplay. A couple of producers are interested and have asked to take it out with my script. Yeah, I know its spec but at least I get a screenplay that I like. You could not imagine what people want to do to Deadworld just because of what came before. I mean, I could let it go so obviously derivative but they just haven’t offered me enough money to kill the property by spinning it in their misguided direction. I’m about to embark on writing a theatrical play for Renfield and that’s a new direction for me. I have a couple of science books that I want to write and I keep scribbling notes during free time to develop those and those notepads are sure multiplying. As for comics, I’m retooling Sinergy (a modern version of Dante’s Inferno) and doing some stories for various anthologies. I have a couple of things churning with Desperado Publishing as original graphic novels (one with R.G. Taylor that I’m real excited about) and I have a couple other publishers that have inquired about things so I have to explore those, and of course, I have the launching of Transfuzion Publishing. I plan on writing more on Transfuzion next time because what started as essentially a reprint line for books by me and Rafael Nieves and some friends…is suddenly blossoming into something else entirely. So, one of the things that I will probably have to spend less time on is things that just aren’t essential…such as this here blog. I plan to keep it around because everyone likes to have the chance to spout off and when it’s your blog, you can say what you want and no one can say no. But I probably won’t keep it up to date that frequently…or at least not feel that I have to. Then again, when I said I was going to be more active with it, I tended to fall even further behind so maybe it will be another opposite effect. The blog does serve a purpose besides ego and venting. It gives a single source for explanation that you can direct people to instead of covering the same ground over and over. For example, when I discussed “Why Transfuzion?”, I could just send people there rather than re-explaining everything again. Some random thoughts: I look at the political candidates as the race is shaping up. Are you kidding me? This is who we have to choose from? And can someone tell me who it is that watches/listens/reads Ann Coulter? I can't believe anyone can give any creditability to what she has to say. It's not jsut because she's so right wing...there's an equal number of leftist nut jobs out there as well but I find her particularly offensive. I saw Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer (at least I think that's the title). Damn...what a horrendous movie. I felt like I was wasting my life while watching it but figured I'd see it to the end, mainly out of curiosity as after all, I grew up on FF and SS. Either I view my childhood through some thickly tinted glasses or the new and improved version hit the hideous meter. And no, I'm not even tempted to check out Ghost Rider. Spiderman is establishing itself as the exception to super hero movies, not a trend. I don't think the public will absorb too many more losers.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

No News is Good News?

It seems every week or so that a new topic gets the buzz in comics and then is quickly forgotten about. Let’s see…one week is was about barcodes being required for all printed items going through Diamond…prior to that it was the publishing contracts of DC’s new online company and Platinum’s outline of revenue sharing and control, and so on. Sort of ties in with the more recent hub-bub dealing with “comic news”, more specifically, the lack of professional comics journalism. The complaint in some circles is that the comics medium doesn’t have a true journalistic slant from anyone. The major “news” sources are nothing more that regurgitated press releases and announcements that usually harp on new creative teams or the events that will occur in the fictional characters’ lives. Well…yeah. I mean, how many people really expect hard hitting news in this small little niche market? It just doesn’t lend itself to it. You either have creative news (writers, artists, editorial direction, etc) or business news. The business news is out there…IDW being bought, Newsarama being bought, the DC and Platinum contracts, etc. I think what people are wanting is more of the “dirty” stuff…who is screwing who (financially, that is). Exposing fraudulent and criminal behavior…now, that would be considered real journalism and hard-hitting news for many of those clamoring for real news. And comic “journalists” have done that…to some extent. But if you’re going to go into that direction, you have to make sure you go all the way. You have to do it correctly. I’ve been involved in some of these so called journalistic investigations and on only one occasion did the journalist contact both sides and get the full story from both participants. Every other time, it was based on one side only. I’ve seen lies and allegations thrown into the press…and the press doesn’t even bother to verify the facts before they print them. Now I understand when it is an interview but even then, when someone makes an outlandish claim, doesn’t it seem to be a bit of good journalism for the interviewer to check up a little on the facts? Guess because it is an interview, it doesn’t matter…but I think it does. Maybe there isn’t that much to reveal in the news aspects of comics simply because there just isn’t that much happening that would be worthy of true journalism. Got an interesting link sent to me…it was an old Todd McFarlane interview with Fantagraphics’ Gary Groth. Sorry, don’t have the link but you should be able to google it. The interview was from the early days of Image prior to Todd’s launch into the toy business. It was a good insight into what Todd was thinking and having hooked up with Todd soon after, it was pure Todd. A lot of people don’t like Todd due to many assorted reasons…but I personally never had a problem with him. The three years I spent working with him, mainly on the toy company, was a pretty exciting time as it went from nothing to the leader in design of action figures. As the company grew, it wasn’t as much fun as it became a corporation and it was amazing how inertia sets in larger companies and how many people seem to exist purely to have a job without actually doing anything. I found it ironic that in the interview, Todd discusses the bloated staffing of Marvel in creating comics and then ends up suffering from the same bloat with his own company. I didn’t agree with many of Todd’s business decisions but it was his company so he has the right to make the decisions based on what he wants to do. I’ve always enjoyed reading all the comments regarding the Miracleman and Neil Gaiman situation as I remember a lunch discussion with Todd about that very subject. Overall, I always looked back at the days of McFarlane Toys as a great and enjoyable time. I remember when it ended as Todd and I discussed at length about my role, how Caliber fit in, etc. I look back and think that if Caliber had rolled into the “big” company, it might have ended up becoming a power house as Todd’s reputation and name in Hollywood might have propelled quite a few of the properties into something. But I was sure that Caliber could do it on its own…so I took Caliber and left…not knowing the market crash that was just sitting there waiting for me. It’s rather strange that when I made that decision, how many calls and emails I got that congratulated me for getting away from Todd…as if he were an evil influence or something. What’s even funnier is how one of the loudest ended up working for Todd until he had a falling out. Saw that a researcher did a project in Argentina to evaluate the social circles that the Marvel superheroes are part of versus those of supervillains. Going through some 12,000 comics, the research came to the conclusion that the heroes were more socially connected than the villains. You think? Unbelievable what kind of money is spent on silly research but glad to see it isn’t limited to just the U.S. This is short this time as I deleted the long rambling that was to follow. It dealt with politics and religion but I figured that I could never sum it up even in a few pages of what I thought the lunacy was so why do it half-assed.

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