Thursday, August 21, 2008

Summer's Over?

I can't believe it. Summer is officially over for me. I had my first class today. Man, it sure seems this semester started earlier than any I can remember. Even my students thought this was college year came sooner than expected. Even though the temp hit the low 90's, I still had the feeling summer was gone. If you're so inclined, I have an interview via podcast that's up on Comic Related. Here's the link to the podcast at Comic Related. I also mentioned last time that there was an interview in From the Tomb magazine, a leading horror mag in the U.K. The pages are up on my site here. I'm reading with some interest about the whole Robert Kirkman video in which he declares that creators should do their own books instead of Marvel and DC. I'm summarizing quite a bit here because I have not watched it but I think that the gist of it. I have no opinion on it as I haven't really thought about it but what I did find interesting were the discussions on some of the various sites regarding that and of course, they venture into a lot of other areas related to the matter. I'm always surprised at how much mis-information gets spewed out from people who really have no knowledge of what they're promoting as reality. I'm not going into specifics but just a warning that there's a lot of people who spout their wisdom as truth and they just don't have any clue to the real events. With all the hoopla about the Watchmen movie buzzing about, I decided to go back and read the graphic novel. I read it when it first came out but had not re-read it as I tend not to read books twice or watch movies more than once. I have found however, on many movies, that I like them more the second time than the first. So, maybe that was the expectation I had going into my re-visit to Watchmen. But I was strangely disappointed. I loved the fist half but the second part seemed to bog down. The whole pirate scene in the comic that the kid was reading actually started irritating me and I found the best way to handle it was to read that part in its entirety and then go back to the main comic and just ignore the Tales of the Black Freighter. Don't get me wrong, I think it was still a great book but the second time around sort of dulled the memory I had of it (whereas From Hell was completely the opposite). I also think that Watchmen will make one hell of a movie and from what I've seen so far, it appears that they're doing it right. Now all we need to do is get Fox out of the picture with their claims. It should be fun watching the fans reaction if Fox manages to screw up the release. Will fans retaliate against Fox? Keeping it short this time...after all, I got classes to prepare for. Don't forget that Slaughterhouse is still available to order and the artist, Sami Makkonen did a fantastic job on it. More information here.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

On Writing and some Interviews

It’s almost two weeks now and most of the comic news sites are still running press releases and panel descriptions from San Diego. It seems that many of the releases wouldn’t get any attention otherwise…but if they were announced at San Diego, then they must be worthwhile.

I have to admit that I don’t read most of them, and by most, I mean virtually all of them. I glance at some of the headlines but that’s about it. I don’t understand what the two large companies are doing as the major cross over events are just a blur to me and I can’t even distinguish them. Obviously, since I don’t read them, I’m not going to be aware of all the ramifications but it seems to me that they sound very repetitive.

The “other” comic companies are announcing some interesting things, mainly digging up old concepts and relaunching them in comic form…which I think is a great idea. I don’t know of any other industry that seems to frown on having too much product as the comics market does. Sure, some of the ideas are surefire misses, but at least they’re trying to do something that brings a familiarity to the comics world to those folks outside of comics. And isn’t that what everyone in comics wants? To gather in the general public? The movies don’t seem to be doing it even though the comic characters are becoming household names. Watchmen seems to be an exception as the graphic novel is selling really well and the only promotion so far as been the trailer. That’s very impressive so far.

I am continually perplexed by what some people are doing…and not doing. I mentioned before that I cannot fathom that Disney is not putting out its own comic line. I know they’re licensing out some of their titles but it seems to me that they could set up a complete publishing company and really promote their titles. It seems they would sell enough in their parks but last time I went to Disneyworld, I never saw comics there. Maybe they’ve tried that route, I don’t know…but it seems so obvious. Then again, many things that seem obvious end up not being tangible for various reasons.

For that matter, I’ve always wondered why movie studios don’t automatically gobble up the comic rights for any films they do. Of course, not all films would be applicable in comics but many are. After all, if a studio is going to invest millions or tens of millions, or even 100’s of millions into a project, asking for the comic rights doesn’t seem too far out of line. They could set up a publishing house or form a liaison with a publisher to release them as comics. Then again, since so many of the big budget movies are based on comics, maybe there aren’t any rights available now.

How come Marvel and DC (Warner) don’t produce graphic novels for their films and sell them at movie theatres. Don’t you think that if you’re buying popcorn and pop (which are nearly the price of most graphic novels nowadays) that the Batman movie, for example, could’ve moved a tremendous amount of graphic novels starring Batman? Movie theatres would undoubtedly appreciate the sales. I’m sure there are some logistical problems but it seems easy enough to work out.

I mentioned last time that I was going to revamp the Caliber Comics website because even though I keep it up for reference and to direct people on how to get some of the stuff, Caliber hasn’t published anything in 7-8 years. I am always surprised on how many submissions I still get from the website and I bring this up because since San Diego ended, I have received almost 20 submissions! I guess the excitement of the con just motivated people.

One of the most common submission types I get is from “screenwriters who want to get into comics”. First off, since they usually don’t give any credits, I have to assume their screenplays were never produced. Secondly, they have never written comics. Just makes me wonder why they think publishers would be interested? I find it funny how the labels people use vary depending on what field they’re in. Most comic writers don’t call themselves writers until they have something published. However, I see a lot of people calling themselves screenwriters even though they have never had anything produced. Kinda odd, I think.

Speaking of writing, Steven Grant in his column, Permanent Damage (on Comic Book Resources) discusses a panel he did at San Diego called “So You Want To Do A Graphic Novel." Steve does a great job in explaining the idea, so much so, that I’m grabbing a few of his lines. His thoughts echo mine so completely that I see no sense in wording it differently as he did so well on it. There’s a link at the end of the blog so you can read the whole column…well, worth reading. So, here’s what he said regarding writing graphic novels….

“It's a short answer anyway: the way to do it is to do it. Period. Everyone's looking for "The Secret" but there ain't no secret. The way to do it is to do it, and every story, particularly if you're creating your own work from scratch and not working with an established, formulized franchise, generates its own needs. Those are the needs you have to serve. Rules are for schmucks and businessmen. A few people were looking for "the secret" to putting together a comic story/graphic novel " someone asked a question about structure, but, as someone on the panel mentioned (not me; I basically just grumbled about the word because you can have the greatest grasp of structure in history and still churn out totally crap stories " see: George Lucas) structure is something you learn, internalize and forget about. Like a lot of elements of storytelling. It's worth familiarizing yourself with them and putting them in your toolbox " less so that you know what rules to break because, let's face it, you don't have to know rules to break them, but if you don't know what's already been done you're far less likely to break the rules that to waste a lot of valuable time reinventing the wheel, and that's strictly a mug's game, know what I mean? " but the moment you let any one element, even structure, rule your life you're done.” (From Steven Grant’s Permanent Damage column, August 6, 2008).

A great summation that I endorse whole-heartedly. I get invited to a lot of discussion boards about “writing comics” and as I mentioned before, I find so many “writers” who dissect, maneuver, and analyze the method of writing that they don’t actually write.


If you’re familiar with the horror mag, FROM THE TOMB, which is a U.K. publication, the current issue (June) has a rather lengthy interview with me...8 pages worth. In addition, there is a 5-page feature on Deadworld. I think they’re available at Borders and Barnes/Noble and maybe comic stores. When I can, I’ll scan in the pages and post a PDF on my website.

I also have another interview…sort of, on Comic Village. The Village “Gossip” has a bag of 64 questions and I was asked (as were all others) 20 random questions of those 64. Check it out at Comic Village Gossip

Next week, I believe Wednesday, August 13, a podcast interview on Comic Related will be run featuring a lengthy interview with me. Not sure how long it will be but you can check it out at Comic Related Podcasts next week...or even now as I’m sure they have others on there that you would find interesting.


There are two Deadworld projects coming out in October so that means they’re in the Diamond Previews right now.

Slaughterhouse is a stand alone mini-series within Deadworld. It features art by Sami Makkonen who did the Blue graphic novel with Elizabeth Genco (also by Desperado). I love this guy’s stuff and thought it made a great match for the Slaughterhouse story. Check out the website for more information and preview pages.

Deadworld Chronicles is a graphic novel anthology of ALL NEW Deadworld stories. Although not tied into the continuity of Deadworld, they all fit in and explore some different things going on in Deadworld. Check out the previews and more information here.

Coming in September will the the third Saint Germaine graphic novel. This one collects the entire Magus storyline plus brings in the story that ran in Negative Burn plus TWO brand new stories, one featuring Genghis Khan and the other touches on the legend of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your summer. Please drop a comment if you have any, uh, comments.

And be sure to check out Steven Grant’s Permanent Damage column regarding writing graphic novels. It’s insightful and worth reading (as always).

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