Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Price is (Exactly) Right.

A month of silence and then, BAM, two posts in one night. And this one, God help me, is about The Price is Right. There was a time in my life when I watch this show compulsively. For a few years there in the late '90s I watched it every day. If there was a TV nearby, I was watching folks come on down. So you'll understand why this video piqued my interest. These are the final moments of the Showcase Showdown. (I'm going to assume you've never watched the show and write a quick rundown of this segment.) Two contestants are each shown a bunch of fabulous prizes, they each guess what they think their showcase is worth. Normally people are within, say, a thousand dollars of the actual price. If they guess within $100 dollars of the price (without going over) they win both showcases. This happens fairly rarely. What the man in the video does is something that no one else in the history of the show has ever done: he guesses the price of his showcase exactly.

Somewhere, Bob Barker is seething that it was Drew Carey and not him that hosted this episode.


I have been absent from this blog for a while. For a while there it really seemed to be a habit, but I guess when you have a little one things get away from you. That's probably a good thing, come to think of it; I'd be a bad father if I sat at the computer while Oscar sat in his bouncer, crying from hunger. "Hold on a minute, mister, I just need a minute more to blog about this!"

My presence here will be scarce for the foreseeable future. Melissa and I are trying to get ready for Christmas, our first with Oscar--and Melissa's mom will be here, too; there are a couple of comics proposals that were supposed to be written a while ago; and I've started work on my year-end mix CD. The CD always takes me way more time than I plan on or want it to. Also--and, yes, this is an important use of my time--I'm trying to find the time to read the three books I find myself in the middle of.

I should mention that, due mostly to its get-in-and-get-out nature, I am more active on twitter right now if you really feel you need your daily dose of Adam.

And now, off to be productive.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sketchy goodness

Up on the Gear School blog, there are new sketches from Núria Peris, artist extraordinaire! Check them out.

That is all.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Photo parade

More photos on our flickr page. These catch us up through Thanksgiving weekend.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Politically-Incorrect Politics

From memory so, you know, it's not entirely accurate. The dramatis personae are The Wife (TW) and Me.

TW: Some people at work were talking about how cool it is that we finally have a president whose name ends in a vowel.

ME: ... I hadn't thought of that. (mentally runs through a list of all the presidents he can name.) That's true.


ME: I guess I always thought that the first person with a last name like that to be president would be Italian. You know, like Giuliani.

TW: Really? Why?

ME: Oh, you know, because....

TW: Because they're the whitest of the dark folk?

ME: Exactly!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Your Oscar update

Despite the fact that he's nearly seven months old, Oscar had his six month checkup today. He's doing swell, thanks. The doctor walked into the exam room and nearly shouted, "Oh, he's so gorgeous" There was more to the exam than this, of course. We asked many questions we had and the doctor did her best to assure us that nothing is really out of the ordinary with the little man.

The highlight, for Melissa and me, was the Weighing and Measuring of the Baby. He weighed in at 18 lbs, 5.5 oz, which is in the 55th percentile; and his height, or length since he's mostly horizontal these days, was 27.5 inches, which is in the 76th percentile.

Today was also the day Oscar received his first vaccination -- given that Oscar breast feeds and is cared for at home and therefore has little contact with other babies, Melissa and I decided to delay the start of the vaccination process. We'd been worried about how Oscar would react to the shot. Basically, we didn't want to see Oscar cry in pain. We needn't have worried. The nurse rubbed down his thigh with alcohol, which certainly got Oscar's attention since it's so cold, then she stuck him with the needle. Oscar looked at his thigh with the needle in it with a certain concerned curiosity. Then the needle cme out and a bandage was applied and about five seconds later, Oscar was giggling and just as happy as he ever is. He is amazing.

Below, are two photos: the bandage on his (ample) thigh, and him smiling right after the shot.

A few more recent photos can be found on our flickr page.

This concludes your Oscar update.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My grasp of Scottish politics is not so fine...

Several of the blogs and twitter feeds I follow are from foreigners. You know, folks who don't reside in the US. And, for some reason, their comments on the state of American politics always seem to be better reasoned and more trenchant than anything I've read from the mainstream American media. Perhaps it's because they are not so invested in the process, or the fact that they don't have to buy into the myth of being an unbiased observer. Whatever it is, these folks always give me something to think about when they turn their eyes on American pols.

A case in point: Charles Stross, an immensely talented SF writer who lives in Scotland, has written up a quick wish list of things he'd like to see President-elect Obama tackle in the first days of his administration. These are all, perhaps understandably given the fact that Mr Stross lives outside our borders, foreign policy matters and, I should stress, I don't agree with all the suggestions, but we could certainly do worse than follow some of his suggestions.

(For political wonks, I'd recommend reading the last few entries in Mr Stross's diary as they are all concerned with various aspects of the campaign that just passed.)

I swear that soon my fascination with politics will pass and I'll be back to posting about Oscar's latest milestones and how little writing I'm getting done.

Please go about your business, citizen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And again I am struck with love for the Republic

It's November 4. After nearly two years of campaigning, it's almost done. All over but the shouting, as they used to say. Here's a poem from the indispensable Jame Kenyon to mark the day. This comes from the poem, "American Triptych", which can be found in the book Collected Poems:

3 Potluck at the Wilmot Flat Baptist Church

We drive to the Flat on a clear November night. Stars and planets appear in the eastern sky, not yet in the west.

Voices rise from the social hall downstairs, the clink of silverware and plates, the smell of coffee.

As we walk into the room faces turn to us, friendly and curious. We are seated at the speakers' table, next to the town historian, a retired schoolteacher who is lively and precise.

The table is decorated with red, white, and blue streamers, and framed Time and Newsweek covers of the president, just elected. Someone has tied peanuts to small branches with red, white, and blue yarn, and set the branches upright in lumps of clay at the center of each table.

After the meal everyone clears food from the tables, and tables from the hall. Then we go to the sanctuary, where my husband reads poems from the pulpit.

One woman looks out the window continually. I notice the altar cloth, tasseled and embroidered in gold thread: Til I Come. There is applause after each poem.

On the way home we pass the white clapboard faces of the library and town hall, luminous in the moonlight, and I remember the first time I ever voted--in a township hall in Michigan.

That same wonderful smell of coffee was in the air, and I found myself among people trying to live ordered lives.... And again I am struck with love for the Republic.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Draw like the pros!

This video shows the drawing technique of French comics artist (though I suppose that'd be BD artist, since he's French) Emmanual Guibert. This is the technique he used on his forthcoming English-language comic, Alan's War.

This video has been making the rounds on a lot of comics blogs, but maybe you don't read a lot of comics blogs, right? The video is just a bout a minute long, and it's fairly mind blowing. Artists, and the methods they use to achieve the effects they desire, really can be magical. Enjoy.

Activity on Gear School blog

This is just to say: Nuria has made a couple of posts on the gearschool.net site, in case you're interested. Both contain a piece of art so, you know, that's cool. You should check 'em out. Now that she and Sergio are in full swing on the production of the next book, there should be more activity there.

Thank you. That is all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You can say that again...

Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, this little video might prove instructive. How many new ideas were presented in the debates? Not many, apparently. Via one of my new on-line obsessions, 236.com, I give you Synchronized Presidential Debating:

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A half-birthday is so a thing...

This is just to say: Oscar turned six months old today! He's been outside the womb and in our lives for SIX MONTHS. Who'd believe it?

I have to say this. Prior to having Oscar, I was pretty ambivalent about having offspring. Umm... Ambivalent to hostile, actually. I also never wanted to get married, either. Then I met Melissa, and wanted nothing but to get married. And then I wanted to have a wee one with her, and that led to Oscar. I could never have imagined the rush of love I feel for him, and for the life he's given me. I've been trying to think lately exactly what this feeling is, and the closest I've been able to come to it is this: I feel like a broken vessel, unable to contain all of the joy within me. Everthing that I used to do for selfish reason (i.e., achieve success in comics; move on to other, more lucrative forms of writing; travel), I now either no longer want to do, or I want to do them, but only because it means that it will lead to greater security for my family. I believe that it would be impossible to explain to someone without children what this feels like.

So, happy half-birthday, little Mister. I can't wait to see all the things we can accomplish.

Monday, October 20, 2008

More photos

As promised, I've uploaded more photos to our flickr page. That brings us up to date photo-wise.

Next project: videos!

The first line of defense

This is the kind of thing we get up to 'round these parts. When the sun becomes distant and weak, and the temperature begins to drop past the point that will support human life, we build honking great air canons that fire pumpkins with enough velocity to destroy derelict automobiles. We are simple folk. With access to air compressors and orange squash.

This video comes from the Statesman Journal, the paper for which my wife works. It was produced by Chris Hagan. I dare you to watch it and not smile.

I wanted to embed the video here, but the Statesman's embed code is broken beyond my ability to fix it. Instead I will direct you to the video on their site and drive up their hit count.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Photos, finally

After much too long, I've finally uploaded new photos to our flickr page. 58 new photos, to be exact. And that only takes us through the middle of September or so. More photos will be posted soon.

Friday, October 10, 2008

More auction items

I belong to a group called "Comics Industry for Obama." I think the name says it all. And if you are not of the voting-for-Obama persuasion, then I hope we can still be friends. If you share my preference for president, then I would like to direct your attention to an auction that the group is holding as a fund-raiser, all proceeds going directly to the Obama campaign. Among the items up for auction, which include pieces of original art by such comics greats as Mike Mignola, is a set of books signed by yours truly. Please check it out.

And a reminder that I still have a set of books up for auction by Girl-wonder.org. You should take a look at that auction as well.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A milestone?

Did anyone notice that that last entry was my 200th?

Who says I can't commit to anything?

Me @ the Village

"I'm a man, not a number!"

Some time ago, I answered twenty questions for the Comics Village web site. Those questions and responses are now up. I join fairly illustrious company: Ian Gibson, Dave Sim, and Bryan Talbot, among many others, have all answered questions. There's also a lot of other great content up there for the comics fans. If you've never visited the site, I'd recommend you remedy that.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Auction action

Mr. Todd Demong and I gave several items to Girl-wonder.org to help them in their efforts to raise money. Todd contributed a page of art and a signed copy of the book, and I gave a signed set of all my books. If you'd like to look at these items or learn more about the auction, please just go here. Girl-wonder is a great organization and they could use your help.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I even have a title in mind

Between 1998 and 2003, my family and I went through what I guess could be called a tragedy. I don't really talk about this. Even those folks who are closest to me probably don't know the whole story. One thing I've never thought about is exploiting the story professionally. So, I was very surprised when I found myself wondering yesterday what the story would look like as a comics memoir.

I tried to ignore it for a while, but even today, I find myself thinking about the structure of the tale. And I've been thinking about it in those terms: a tale. What would need to be revealed first, second, so on.

In comics, memoirs like these are often the purview of the writer/artist. I'm thinking about Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and Epilepsy by David B. I am not an artist of course, but that would be an interesting problem, wouldn't it? Attracting an artist to the project who would fit visually. What exactly would be in the project that they would find attractive?

I think as far as publishing goes, that the project would be sort of a no-brainer. It seems like exactly the kind of projects that large publishers are looking for. Thinking about it in these terms makes me feel a little slimy. How many times have I looked at an ad for a new memoir and said, sarcastically, "Boy, I wish I'd experienced some horrible tragedy so that I could get a book deal." Now that I'm thinking about it seriously, I feel like a hypocrite. Of course, I can't help but think about the commercial potential of any project I might consider. It's second nature to me by now.

So, I suppose, I have to consider why it is I want to work on this project. It is not simply to have a commercial project (believe it or not, it's never only that). I've found myself thinking about this time in my life more and more lately. It almost feels like something that needs to be exorcised. But that's not right either. It's an episode that has certain power over me, mostly because I haven't examined it closely. Perhaps, once I have looked closely at it from all sides, it will no longer have a hold over me.

And of course, there are more feelings in play than just mine. My brothers, my sister, at least one ex-girlfriend, inlaws. I'd need to speak with all of them about this, right? They were all involved and will be affected if a book about this period comes out. How does one handle that?

There's a lot here I need to think about. And I few people with whom I should talk. More later, I promise.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An apple a day....

Tomorrow, that is, Wednesday, October 1, will be the start of the fifth week of my being sick.

I went to the doctor's again today and finally had some chest x-rays and blood work done. The x-rays came back clear (despite the phlegm I've been coughing up for the last week-and-a-half), and the blood work shows that I have an unspecified virus. This is annoying in the extreme. I want a disease I can name, put my finger on, and irradicate. I've been ill for more than a month now. More than a month of zero energy, chills, sweats, aches, coughing; more than a month where I've barely been able to care for Oscar (all of that has fallen to Melissa, despite her full-time schedule at work) and where I have written not a word.

I just want it to go away. The doctor says that if it's still around in another week, he wants to schedule more aggressive testing.

If you have any positive thoughts to spare, could you send 'em my way?

Friday, September 12, 2008

File this under: "Damned Cool."

I received a package from Dark Horse today that was suspiciously light. At first I thought it was comp copies for the Myspace DHP book, but it didn't seem to weigh enough. Well, after I opened it, I found that it contained a couple of packs of action figures. This really made me scratch my head. But after I really looked at it, it all made sense.

Apparently Hasbro have made a two pack featuring versions of Leia and Vader as featured in the Infinities series I wrote. Here are a couple of product shots:

And here's an image showing what Vader looked like in the comic:

That image was drawn by Ryan Benjamin and it is, of course, copyright Lucasfilm.

And while I'm at it, here's a cool image I found of a Star Wars cosplayer dressed as the Infinities Vader:

It makes me unreasonably happy to have action figures based on something I wrote. It's probably dumb, but I feel like I've just attained a dream I never knew I had.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a date with some action figures!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Get Your War On

David Rees created a bit of a stir a few years ago when he created his comic, Get Your War On, which features corporate clip art and sardonic wit used to deadly effect in its parsing of political language--specifically that of the Bush administration in the run-up to the second Gulf War. The strip features corporate drones using highly eloquent, deeply profane language to get across the absurdities of the double-speak employed by Bush and his cronies.

Now these strips are given new life on the 23/6 web site. Some evil genius has created animations of the comics. These, like their stationary counterparts, are funny, angry, and profane, and, best yet, they're commenting on the current election. Please only go and watch them if foul language and complete irreverence toward our government aren't offensive to you.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Creative Conference talk

The Creative Conference was a lot of fun despite a case of the jitters right before I went on. I was feeling sick so I got up there later than I'd have liked and only saw two other speakers. Both of these speakers had multimedia presentations, which I did, but then I decided that I'm a writer and anything I could show wouldn't be very exciting anyway. "Yeah, so there's another shot of me at my desk. You know, writing..."

The talk itself, I'm told, seemed to go well. I say, "I'm told" because I sort of blanked out after I started the talk and only came to after I said the last line. Honestly. I was mostly aware of the fact that my mouth was really dry, I had a cough drop stuck to the roof of my mouth and, despite having water that I kept picking up and setting down, I wasn't actually drinking. But a lot of people came up to me after the talk and told me that they liked what I had to say a lot, so I'm going with, "it went well."

For those of you who wanted to know what I talked about but couldn't be there, I'm going to paste in the essay I wrote and used as a guide through the talk. I know I went off script on a few occasions, dropped some portions,added others, but this is everything I meant to say. If anyone who attended the conference is reading this, maybe you can tell me how close the talk was to this essay:

Hi. My name is Adam Gallardo and I'm a comics writer from Salem, Oregon. Just to give you an idea of what I've done professionally and why I'm standing up here talking to you: I've written Star Wars: Infinities—Return of the Jedi for Dark Horse Comics; I've also created and written two creator-owned series: Gear School, also from Dark Horse Comics; and 100 Girls which just came out this Summer from Simon and Schuster's Young Adult line, Simon Pulse.

When I was asked to speak about my creative process, I had two reactions: the first was sheer terror because the last time I spoke in public was back when I was in speech in high school. The second feeling was a new wave of sheer terror, but for an entirely different reason: it was because I have never examined my creative process. I always just trust that it will work when I call on it. And I worried that examining it might cause it to stop working, like when you dissect a frog—you might figure out how it works, but it's not going to be in any shape to hop around. Thankfully that hasn't happened.

I'm going to address a question I get fairly often, as I'm sure does anyone who works in a creative field. At any signing or convention I attend, I get a few people asking me where I get my ideas. I think this question has an underlying supposition. That being: “If I know where you get your ideas, I can go there and get my own!” The answer to that question is probably frustrating since it's either very mundane or so esoteric as to be nearly unreproducable.

Not to keep you in suspense: Here's the short answer to where I get my ideas. They come to me in one of two ways. Through lots of hard work, or from a very nearly religious blast of inspiration. I suppose it's easiest to say that I approach ideas and creativity in general as a problem solving proposition. In just a minute, I'll give you examples to show you what I'm talking about.

But first, I think it'd be worth it to give you some personal history, set the stage a little bit. And, trust me, this will pay off later.

Unlike more than 90% of those currently working in comics, I didn't read comics as a kid. To me, comics were things you got when you went on a road trip with your family—distractions meant to shut us up for the ten hours it took to drive to my parents' hometown every Summer—or they were something I got on days I stayed home sick from school. I always enjoyed them, I don't want to give any impression otherwise, but apart from those two very specific circumstances, I never thought much about them, even though I can recall specific issues I'd read: Captain America and the Falcon, Uncanny X-Men, Thor, The Avengers. It was always a crap shoot, whatever my parents brought home with them. Also, I only read them singly. It never occurred to me that the stories in them continued in other issues of the same title, or even in other titles altogether. Continuity was a foreign concept to me and that may explain my disdain for it today.

The point here is that while I was aware of comics, they didn't really figure into my development as a story teller. By the time I started to read comics with a passion, I'd already fallen in love with sci-fi novels, with movies of all types, and with TV dramas. The memories I have from my formative years are all related to these media. This is another way of saying that they had their hooks in me long before I ever thought about writing comics, and even before I thought about reading them.

In fact, I never thought about writing them until I was in my early 30s and working at Dark Horse Comics for the second time. The first time had been a job to get me through my years at community college and I worked in production there. It would take my leaving, getting my degree, discovering that the real world of employment sucked and returning to the fold to figure out that I wanted to take a stab at comics writing. Up until that point, I wanted to be the new Raymond Carver, writing introspective, literary short stories in which nothing much happened. But the short stack of rejection slips I carried around with me for a time told me that the world liked the Raymond Carver it already had and didn't really want a new one. It was only after reading a lot of comics scripts that I had one of those "eureka" moments. In my case, the moment came when I was reading yet another comics script and I thought, "I can do this, too!" I really haven't looked back since then.

My first published comics work was for Dark Horse Comics and it came out in 2003. Star Wars: Infinities—Return of the Jedi is part of their Infinities series which can best be described in geek-speak as similar to the old Marvel What If...? series, but set in the Star Wars universe. What if you changed one aspect of the original Star Wars story lines? How would that one change affect the rest of the story? Dark Horse had already done series based on A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and there was a considerable lag following the second series.

Now, at the time I was working in the Internet department at Dark Horse and one of my responsibilities was to read all of the incoming email from fans and readers and either answer it myself or else pass it along to someone who could answer it. For a while, the question we got most often was to ask when Return of the Jedi would be given the Infinities treatment. For the most part I just forwarded those email to Randy Stradley who was the Star Wars editor at the time. After a while, however, I started to become curious myself about where the next series was. So I marched myself downstairs and I asked our managing editor, Davey Estrada, "People keep asking about Return of the Jedi, Infinities, what should I tell them?" And he told me to tell them that as soon as Dark Horse received a story idea they liked, they'd get it into production. I asked a few more questions and discovered that Dark Horse had solicited stories from several professionals and the editors hadn't liked any of them ( I never found out how many or from whom—knowing that at the time would, I'm sure, have scared me so much that my next move would have been unthinkable).

I'd been itching to write comics for a little while, and had even started to put together the concept that would eventually become 100 Girls, but I hadn't yet pitched anything of any kind to an editor. But after that talk with Davey, I went home that night and I sat on the couch and thought. And for the benefit of the uninitiated, that's part of the hard work. Sitting and thinking. Staring off. Reading a magazine in a listless manner. All of these are weapons in the writer's arsenal. It might look like goldbricking, but it is work. Anyway, I sat there and I played the movie back and forth in my mind. I'd seen it easily half-a-dozen times so that part was easy. And as I watched it play on the screen in my mind I actively worked on the problem of what moment exactly would be the best to depart from the original. And I should point out that since I didn't know what any other writer had turned in, I had no way of knowing if I'd strike on the same idea as someone else. Some time later, I hit on what I thought was the perfect moment, and then I fleshed out how that one alteration would change the rest of the story.

For the sake of this talk, I'll give away what I came up with, though I'm usually loathe to reveal it to anyone who hasn't read the comics. The scene happens early in the story, Leia is disguised as a bounty hunter and confronting Jabba the Hutt. C-3PO translates. In the film, The negotiation ends amicably, if somewhat tense, but in my version, I had C-3PO become incapacitated, With no one to translate, Leia must reveal herself and the scene devolves into chaos which results in Boba Fett escaping with the still-frozen Han, and the deaths of both Jabba and C-3PO. I thought that was a pretty neat little turn.

The next day I walked into Randy's office and asked him if he still had no story for the next Infinities. He said they didn't and I asked if I could pitch him a story. He regarded me for a minute—and I should mention here that Randy is a big, imposing guy, and he has this way of fixing you in his gaze that is very nearly reptilian. I was already nervous, but being appraised by those half-lidded eyes made me shake. He told me to fire away. I did and again he regarded me—that same reptilian stare— then he told me to go home and write up the pitch as a one-page document and bring it back the next day. Which I did, of course. Giddily. I think I was actually giddy. Now, I'd like to tell you that the moment I came back to his office and handed that document to Randy, he told me he loved it, then he gave me the assignment and I was heaped with comics glory. But actually, months passed after I turned in the pitch. Months in which I heard no mention of the pitch. In fact, so much time passed that I figured Randy had decided not to give me the job and telling me that fact had slipped his mind. But one day, as I walked past his office on the way somewhere else, he yelled out at me, "Gallardo! When are you going to write that script?" And that was how I found out I'd been given my first professional writing assignment.

The point of that little story was to show how I approached the problem of coming up with an idea. I had a problem, what's the best possible moment to have the original Return of the Jedi story go off the rails, and what would happen after it did? And I worked hard at finding a solution. Of course, after I had that initial idea, Lucafilm got their hands on the story and had their continuity people go over it, which meant that I had to rewrite the original pitch several times before they were happy with it. A lot of people assume that I must have hated working with the continuity people at Lucasfilm, but to be honest, I never had any problem with them. I recognized that they had a very valuable property to protect from the likes of me. I mean, honestly, I was an untested, first-time comics writer who wanted to get my hands on one of the most recognizable properties in the world. If our roles were reversed, I'd be a little nervous, too. I didn't resent any of the changes for which they asked as an imposition, I just saw them as new problems to solve. I'd say, "Okay, if Lucas doesn't want me to have Leia fighting Vader in issue 4, what else can I do that makes sense with the story I'm telling and is a satisfying plot point?" In this way, I could move from beat to beat until I had a completed story.

This is, admittedly, a pretty unglamorous means of getting ideas. It means an awful lot of sitting in front of your notebook or your computer and just pounding away at a given problem, but that's how it's done. I should also point out that one needn't wait for a problem to drop in their lap like I did to get to work. You can create your own. Maybe there's an artist you want to work with and you know they like a particular type of story. Maybe you want to find a way to talk about a given political or social situation. Maybe you want to explore an episode from your past, but you want to find a way to fictionalize it to make it a bit more bearable for yourself and a bit more palatable for an audience. Or maybe you just notice that the market is lacking a certain kind of story that you'd like to see more of.

My comic, 100 Girls, was a solution to that last kind of problem. I'd noticed a dearth of comics that featured strong central female leads and I set about creating one that I wanted to read. Honestly, that's my favorite kind of problem to solve: what do I want to read that isn't currently out there? Great, why don't I go and write that?

Okay, one more example, and then I'm going to switch gears a little bit.

A couple of years after I stopped working at Dark Horse Comics, I was visiting the offices and stopped in to talk to an editor buddy of mine, Dave Land. I think I was giving Dave a current issue of 100 Girls because Todd Demong, my collaborator on the book, and I had put a caricature of him in the issue. Anyway, Dave and I were talking for a while before he started telling me that he wanted to start up an informal line of sci-fi comics in the same way that editor Scott Allie had done with an informal line of horror comics. I told him that sounded like a good idea, which was the truth. Sci-fi has always been my favorite genre in comics. He then asked me if I had any ideas I would be interested in submitting for a comic. I told him I might have a few.

The truth is that I have notebooks full of ideas, most of them in the sci-fi genre. Keeping some kind of notebook counts as part of the hard work you need to do to be creative. I try and capture every idea that flits into my mind. It doesn't matter if I like the idea, or if I can immediately see the potential of an idea. None of that matters. Just get it down. No matter how dumb it may seem at the moment. Armed with your notebook, you can respond to an editor asking you if you have any ideas with an unequivocal "yes." And the notebook also represents a less specific, very general type of problem solving: it's solving the problem of what kinds of ideas you want to work on. The good ideas, the ideas on which you want to spend a lot of time developing into a full story will eventually make it out of the notebook while the ideas that aren't as good will just sit there, forever trapped between it's pages. I don't know of a single creative person—and I'm lucky to know quite a few creative people—who doesn't keep some version of a notebook. What the diary is to the junior high girl, the notebook is to the creative personality.

Anyway, I went through some notebooks and this very short entry jumped out at me. It read: Gear SchoolHarry Potter meets Mobile Suit Gundum! Since writing it down in the notebook, I'd forgotten about it (that's one advantage of the notebook—once you write down an idea, you can forget about it and free up some mental space for other things), but that line intrigued me. I eventually changed that tag line to Degrassi High meets Mobile Suit Gundum and that one change seemed to allow for the emotional depth and the interpersonal relationships I wanted to explore. I feel compelled to say that normally I don't generate ideas in so crass a manner—pop culture reference A meets pop culture reference B—but in this instance it did help me get in touch with the emotional flow of the piece. Basically, it would be a melodrama set in a high school where kids were taught to fly giant fighting robots. And, frankly, whatever helps me work my way into a story is what I'm going to do. Crassness be damned!

My notebook also yielded four or five other ideas. Four or five out of a lot. There's always a moment of anxiety as you try and figure out what an editor would like. It's like games theory. Just because I like something doesn't necessarily mean the editor would like it. And even if they might like it, they may not like the way you write it, the exact presentation you give it. But this is just more problem solving. What do I know about the editor? What do I know of the other books he's edited, and how can I tailor my ideas to fit in with his temperament as I perceive it. Once you take all of these factors into consideration, all you can do is write up the piece and hope the editor likes it. And that they had a good night's sleep the night before they read your proposal. That helps, too.

Of the five or six ideas I sent to Dave, Gear School was the one he liked best and he asked me to develop it into a full fledged pitch. The initial story I pitched to Dave was more of a character piece and he asked me to ramp up the action. I did so, but I lost a lot of the character development that had appealed to me in the first place—it sot of became a two act story with the second half being a big fight with a scary alien. Thankfully, I was able to use that original story line in the second volume of Gear School that I just finished writing. That's another thing I've learned: never throw anything away. Just because I didn't use the story for the first volume, I knew I'd use it sooner or later.

The second volume of Gear School differed from the first in a significant way: I had met the artists who are drawing the book and I was able to write it with their personalities in mind. In this day and age, it's possible to work with an artist or an artist team without having ever spoken to them. Oh, we emailed back and forth, but that's different than meeting someone face to face. In the case of Nuria and Sergio, the artists on Gear School, meeting them took some doing. They both work and live in Barcelona, Spain. My wife and I traveled to France last year and, having an American's understanding of geography, I said, "why don't we just pop down to Barcelona for a couple of days to meet the artists?" The arduous train trip was worth it, however. They turned out to be great people and it really informed what I did with the second volume of the comic.

Something very similar, and maybe even more profound, happened when I met and became friends with Todd Demong, my collaborator on 100 Girls. The back and forth I have now with Todd has led to us being compared with an old married couple more than once. It's a comparison I find I'm unable to refute.

Okay. Now is the time when I switch gears.

So, I talked a little bit about hard work, which you'll recall is one of the ways I generate ideas. I said that the other way I get ideas is through flashes of inspiration. These are those instances when an idea just pops into my head, seemingly from no where, maybe from some higher power. I can never predict when these flashes of inspiration will come. I can be working on a grocery list, driving across the country and staring at the horizon off in the distance, taking a shower. I seem to get a fair number of ideas in the shower, actually, as I stand there, washing, and singing off-key. I certainly can't force a flash of inspiration, I just have to capture it when it comes.

So if that's true, what's the use of talking about this? If inspiration is so capricious that you can't predict when it will happen, why even mention it? Because, while you can't predict when inspiration will hit, you can cultivate it. How? Easy—read everything, watch everything and listen to everything you can. And for the sake of brevity, I'm going to say "read" a lot, by which I mean "consume media." Consuming media is how you feed your creative machine. And when I say everything, I mean everything. I try to be as widely read as possible. I don't limit myself to just sci-fi. I read biography, history, literary fiction, mystery. And I make sure that I read outside of my area of concentration as much as you can; that being comics. You never know when something you read will morph into an idea you can exploit. I have to admit that I read very few comics these days. I follow a few writers I like, I check out comics that get a lot of buzz, I read comics that are given to me by zealous friends, but for the most part, I'm off reading prose of one variety or another. And don't even get me started on comic-book movies.

I've been asked a few times by aspiring comics writers what one book I would recommend they read as a text. I always have the same answer: read E. M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel. The look I get is also always the same. They are dumbfounded. Don't I think they should read McCloud's Understanding Comics? Eisner's Sequential Art? Claremont's and Byrne's Dark Phoenix Saga? My reasoning is that if you're into comics, you're going to read those books whether I tell you to or not. Reading Forster, though, is something they wouldn't normally read and something they should. In fact, every storyteller, no matter their medium, should read it for it's insights into how to tell a story. But I digress.

As creators of fiction, we have no primary documents. By that I mean, if I was a scientist and wondered why, for example, the planet Venus sometimes appears to travel backward as it moves across the sky, well I could do a little research. I could watch any number of documentaries, read astronomy texts. I could even go back to the tables of planetary motion kept by Tycho Brahe to discover the mystery behind this seemingly impossible feat. But as a fiction writer, presented with a problem, there are no documents to which I can go for answers. Instead, every document becomes a possible source of inspiration, and so you must read everything you can. Once you read something, it goes into the hopper inside your head and it swirls around with everything else you've read and it ferments. And if you're very lucky, then one day it'll spill out when you really need it and it'll be something you can use. And, more than likely, hopefully, when it comes out of the hopper, it'll be unrecognizable from when it went in.

This is why I mentioned my own history of comics readership earlier. By the time I came to comics, my storytelling sensibilities were already set by other media. I am able to apply lessons learned from writers of novels, films, plays, and others, to my writing for comics. I think we've all had the experience of watching a film and thinking that the people who made the film have never done anything but watch and study other movies. Because of a lack of experience on the filmmaker's part, their film comes across as a pastiche at best, and, at worst, an out and out rip off of some other film. Please believe me when I tell you that I have experienced this phenomenon more than once as I've read comics.

I think that even the experiences I described previously—those of meeting the artists I worked with—fit into this structure. You could expand the dictate "read everything" into "experience everything." Be open to new experiences and adventures and be willing to let those experiences seep into your unconscious and be repurposed in your art. It's through this process that art takes over your life, that you become, finally, an artist.

I think the worst criticism I or any artist can have leveled at them is that they're unoriginal. Especially when it's so easy to avoid.

So, there you go. The answer to the hypothetical aspirant's question from the beginning of this talk. That's how I create, that's where I get my ideas from. I read everything I can. I put in a lot of hours in front of my notebook. And, every one in a while, I get a flash of inspiration.

Beyond that, I'm just waiting for the next problem to solve.

Thank you.

The Onion AV Club likes 100 Girls

The Onion AV Club, folks who generally have very good opinions about all types of pop culture, have given a very positive review to my and Todd Demong's little tome, 100 Girls. Read the review here.

And please ignore what they have to say about my other book....

Friday, September 5, 2008

I am Joe's Insomnia

I am utterly, utterly tired, as well as being sick as a dog, but there is no sleep in sight for me. It's been a couple of years since I felt this--that half-existence described so well in Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club. I'd really hoped these days were behind me.

And Oscar will be up in about five hours. What I need right now is someone with a tranquilizer dart to come by...

The Myspace comics book

Ganked from the Gear School blog:

I was just reminded that the tongue-breakingly titled, MySpace Dark Horse Presents Vol. 1 TPB, will be out on book store shelves later this month. September 24, the year of our Lord, 2008, to be exact. Included in it's many beautiful pages is an eight-page Gear School story. There are a slew of really nice comics collected here. If you like anthology titles like I do, you should be reserving this from your local retailer even as we speak.

Also, unrelated in every way from the main topic of this post: I wish that along with the buttons for managing comments, there was also an "immolate all spammers" button. I could really get behind that.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Me at the Portland Creative Conference

A reminder. This coming Saturday, I'll be one of the presenters at the newly resurrected Portland Creative Conference. If you're in town, you should check it out.

More details here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Pitch

So. I wrote to an editor friend of mine and asked him if I could send him a pitch. A few days later I got a reply that said, sure, fire away. At which point, I thought to myself, man, I should have had a pitch written and ready to go...

I knew what story I wanted to throw at him, mind, but I did not have it all ready to go when I queried him. And this editor is someone who likes story pitches delivered in a very specific, one-page format. This is killing me. For some reason, boiling the story down to one page just takes it out of me. I know the story -- hell, I've been thinking about it and writing notes for this story going on three years now. But there's something about the reductive nature of stripping a story down to its essentials that gets me.

It reminds me of when Todd and I were in San Diego selling our wee book, 100 Girls. People would come by and ask what the book was about. Now I could have sat there all day and talked about my influences, and about the themes and characters, but I knew that they wanted a twenty-five-words-or-less synopsis. And I couldn't give them one. Not one that sounded good or that didn't involve a lot of stammering and me clutching my forehead like Columbo. The best we could come up with was, “It's like Buffy meets X-Files in that it features a young, strong, female protagonist, but it has sci-fi elements rather than supernatural, you F'er!.” But I usually left the curse unspoken. It was implied.

The point of that last little anecdote being: I'm not very good at selling my own stuff, and the pitch document is nothing if not a selling tool. You are trying to sell the editor on the idea of investing time and money on you and your project. And this pitch document is kicking my ass. I wrote one last night, just threw words at the page, which is what a first draft is, right? And then I sent it off to my managers for advice. Michael got back to me with many suggestions for how to make it work. I believe that they will make it work, I just need to apply them. And instead, I'm here, kvetching, instead of doing the work. Though, if I were being generous, I'd admit that this might actually be part of the process, as backward as that sounds.

Okay. Back to it. If I write about a new comics project in the near future, then you'll know I was successful. If I never speak of it again, I'll appreciate you avoiding the topic altogether.

Oh, thank God

Space alien endorses Obama.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An editor is your friend...

Ganked from the Gear School blog:

I got back the changes to the Gear School script from Dave the other day. And besides the usual typographical changes one expects, he also asked me to take a look at a scene. Now, I was expecting him to want me to ramp up the action sequence or something, but, no, he wanted me to look again at a quiet scene that just features two characters talking. He thought that the point I was trying to make was confused and maybe too subtle. I re-read the script again tonight and, what do you know, he's right.

I'm reminded of something William Stafford once said at a reading I attended. He said, "An editor is your friend who only wants your work to be the best it can be." That's held true in my experience so far.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hand me now my walkin' shoes

So, it looks like Oscar and I will be making our first trip together (and without Melissa) up to Portland tomorrow. The Portland Business Journal will be doing a photo shoot for a story about the new Creative Conference and the program coordinator asked if I could make the trip up to be a part of it.

I am a little scared to be flying solo with The Mister, but I think it should go well. And maybe we can slip in a trip to Powell's?

Wish us luck.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I know you can't get enough of me

Here is another interview featuring the smartest man in comics! Um... that'd be me. This one was conducted by the reviewer from Mondo Magazine. Enjoy.

What have I been up to? OK, you asked for it...

I've not had much of a presence here of late. One of the by-products of Oscar's appearance in the world, I suppose. Any writing time I have goes toward actual projects and not to maintaining this journal. Though I am still twittering with some regularity. (A digression: I like twitter. Micro blogging; nearly context-free journaling to the tune of 140 characters at a pop. It's easy to dip into and out of the site as my attention wavers from whatever project I happen to be writing at the moment. End of digression.)

Speaking of projects. Here's my attempt to work some stuff out. You can either come along for the ride, or not, as you see fit.

I seem to be seeking out and creating projects for myself at an alarming (to me) rate. I just finished writing the second volume of Gear School (and actually still owe Dave Land a re-write of one scene); I've delivered to Todd Demong one chapter of the next volume of 100 Girls and need to write six more; There's the proposal for a new comic, Dalton, which I've sent off, also to Todd, for him to drew sample pages--if that book finds a publisher, that'll be some more writing on my plate; and, finally, there's the Portland Creative Conference talk I give in about two weeks which I have not yet begun to write.

One would think that was enough to keep one busy, wouldn't one; especially considering the fact that one is now also primary caregiver for a nearly four-month old. But, no, apparently it is not enough.

Ever since I graduated from The Evergreen State College ten years ago, I have thought off and on about attending an MFA in writing program. Actually, for a long time I held out hope that Evergreen would start such a program with my instructor, Bill Ransom, at the helm. If this ever happened, I'd quite whatever I was doing and move back to Olympia in a heartbeat. But, alas, it looks like that will never happen. My enthusiasm for an MFA has waned as I came to the realization that, despite my best efforts, I seem to be a genre writer. I love mystery, SF, and fantasy and would love to write them as well. These are genres that are , from what I gather, frowned upon in most MFA programs. These programs would prefer that students concentrate in more “realistic” kinds of writing. Fair enough, just not for me. It was actually something of a relief to to come to this conclusion a few years ago: I could strike that from my list of things to do with my life.

But (my old writing instructor, Steve Schoen, would call that the “golden But”) things have changes. A month or so ago, I found an interview with Kelly Link. Link is a SF writer who I admire a great deal. She writes fable-like stories grounded in the real world that all manage to be original and startling. She's writing just the types of stories I'd like to be writing. In the interview, she mentioned that she taught at a low-residency MFA program in Maine. And, here's the best part, the Maine MFA offered a concentration in popular fiction. For “popular” read “genre.” Damn. I looked into the program and it looks like exactly what I want to be doing. I am now hip deep in researching other MFA programs that may offer, or at least tolerate, genre writers because, hey, you want to improve your chances of being accepted and apply to a few different programs, am I right?

Finally: I have an insane idea for an on-line comics anthology. Despite the fact that a few folks have told me that it will make no money and be a time sink for the next couple of years at least, I just keep going ahead and working out exactly how I could do it. I really feel that I must be stopped.

Several things seem to have brought this all into focus for me: having and caring for Oscar, my high school reunion (!) and being asked to speak at the Creative Conference. Actually, I've made the joke several times that I feel like I'm going through a midlife crisis and instead of buying a sports car or cheating on my wife, I keep taking on and dreaming up projects to work on. Only... well, every time I make the joke, it feels a lot less like a joke. At exactly the time that I should be slowing down and concentrating on my life, both professional and personal, I crave taking on more and more to do. Is it a distraction I'm seeking? Is it that I feel a need to define myself in some new way? Honestly, I have no clue. But I do realize that I need to come to terms with what's going on and curb, or at least curtail, it. I can imagine a scenario where I try and do everything on my list and end up accomplishing none of it, thereby destroying even those projects that are concrete. Ugh.

I wish I had a way to wrap up this post in a way that would make everything clear, that would in some way resolve it, but I think that as I'm in the middle of figuring it all out, it will have to end in a fuzzy, messy way.

Oh, wait: I could end by also mentioning that I wrote to an editor friend of mine asking to sub,it an idea to him, and that there's always the novel I've been working on for a good two years. Yes, things are looking up!

Stay tuned for updates.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Somehow my lovely wife beat me to the punch and is the first to put video up on her blog. Not that I'm upset or anything. >seethes<

Anyway, You should visit this post and watch a short video of my two favorite humans.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Portland Creative Conference: Updated

Here is some more info about the Creative Conference. It costs $99 dollars to attend, but that's for an all-day event and, I believe, the price includes a full-body massage from the presenter of your choice. I'm limbering up my hands as we speak.

Much more information, including the venue and other speakers, can be found on the Creative Conference's website. So far, it looks like it's shaping up to be a really cool event.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ganked from the Gear School blog (which seems, despite all odds, to still be a going concern):

Editor Dave Land got the script for the second volume of Gear School back to me yesterday. I must now go through and reject vet all of the changes he suggested. This process should take a day or two and then, one hopes, it will be forwarded on to Nuria and Sergio to start drawing.

Keep your fingers crossed.

New photos

Photos galore up on our flickr page!

This will hopefully make up for my lack of posting real entries.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Portland Creative Conference

Details to come, but it looks like I'm scheduled to speak at the newly resurrected Portland Creative Conference. It will be a 45-minute talk about my creative process. Anyone know a way to make "I make it up as I go along" take 45 minutes to say?

I attended the first PCC back in 1990 and remember it as an amazingly inspiring event. I'm proud and a little humbled to be asked to take part in it's newest incarnation.

As I said, more details as they become available.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Just like that

Not but ten minutes ago I finished an interview with Karen Healey, the woman who reviewed 100 Girls so nicely a day or two ago, and said interview is already up! Truly this is an age of marvels. I encourage you all to go and read it, then come back here and tell me how damned smart I sound.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Here's another one

Another review of 100 Girls. This one is not as glowing as some I've pointed to recently, but it's interesting. It's on a site called Mondo Magazine of which I was previously unaware, but which might bear exploration. The review's author takes issue with both the pacing of and the violence in the comic. I wonder if he'd believe that I take issue with both of those things, too.

Anyway, please, go and read the excellently titled "So Many Murderous Girls."

Another nice review

I awoke this morning to an email from my editor at Simon and Schuster pointing me to a very nice, very perceptive review on girl-wonder.org. Girl-Wonder is a site that I follow which looks at comics through a -- not a feminist lens necessarily, but certainly through a female-positive one. The tag line on the site is, "Because capes aren't just for boys." Given the characters I write, I'd hoped Girl-Wonder would notice my little comic and think well of it. Mission accomplished!

The review is written by Karen Healey who clues into one of the major themes I want to explore with 100 Girls. She may be the first person, is certainly the first reviewer, to do so. Read the review to see what I'm talking about.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I would play me in the movie

Out of the blue Wednesday night I received an email from someone I don't know. They identified themselves as a producer and asked after the rights to 100 Girls. I followed the link they provided to their bio on IMDb and was impressed with what I saw there. Further, I was impressed with how much effort they put into finding my email address so that they could contact me.

I was struck dumb and immediately referred them to my managers in LA.

The whole episode made me start thinking that I should probably record the tortured history of 100 Girls in Hollywood. I won't do it tonight, mostly because I don't feel like crying, but soon, I think. I'm sure that most people I know have no idea how many close calls there have been with the book and either movies or TV. I almost always play that stuff close to the vest, because I learned early on that the odds are against you and I'd rather not have to tell people, "You know that thing I told you about? Yeah, you can forget that." Over and over. I remain, at the moment, cautiously optimistic.

One quick anecdote as an illustration: Some months ago I had a phone interview with two agents who wanted to rep 100 Girls in a specific market. I took the phone call alone because Todd, my co-creator on the book, has reached the point where he won't even talk to Hollywood types anymore. He just tells me to talk to them and report back to him. If I like them, he's willing to work with them. Anyway, I was on the phone with these folks and one of them asked me if I was excited about this latest opportunity. I thought for a moment, and then I answered truthfully. "If this had happened even two years ago, I'd have been excited," I said, "but we've had so many opportunities almost happen, that I try not to get excited. If this all works out, then I guarantee I'll be excited." My publisher at Arcana, Sean, told me later that one of the agents told him I had a "bad attitude." I just laughed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Today will be the first day that Oscar and I go it alone without support from Melissa. Wish us luck.

Also, The Mister weighed in at 14.8 lbs yesterday at the doctor's office. He's getting bigger and bigger all the time.

More later...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Comic Con 2008: the tweets

Because I don't feel like creating anything new right now, here is every twitter I posted while in San Diego last weekend:
Saw vanity plate on way to airport. 'JEDIBUS.' Good omen. Saying good-bye to Melissa and Oscar sucked. Even worse than the security check. Plane on the tarmac for the last half-hour. May have to de-plane. What the F? Finally wheels down in SD. On to hotel, then convention center. 75 degrees is a lot warmer when you're carrying 50 lbs. So far, with all the lines, Comic Con is a lot like Disneyland. Where's Mickey? 'No, I'm not here to buy anything, I just want to touch it all with my greasy paws.' Got exciting news last night, but can't talk about it 'til August. Made the con for me! All good news! Kristin ran the booth for us while we signed. Sold the hell out of some books. We may offer her a job. Just met Johnny Johnny of Tiki Lounge fame. Cool, funny guy. Talked with Eddie Campbell for a few minutes at the show today. Another cool, funny guy. Read his books. Just uploaded my photos from first two days at con. http://tinyurl.com/5no4zx
It's amazing how much better even five hours of sleep can make you feel. It is a cargo shorts kinda day. Nearly sold out of Gear School and it's only Friday. Man. I can actually feel my soul being crushed. Beer was able to repair my soul. Thanks for asking. Saturday and I've woken up tired. Could be a long day. Could be great, too. Waiting for a cab to take us to the show. Trying to find my game face. Unlike a lot 'artists,' I can't wait for the chance to sell-out. My gameface, while not absent, is certainly capricious. It is likely to leave me w/out warning. Trapped behind the table, I am getting no good photos of costumes. Of course, I've been underwhelmed by the costumes I've seen. Comics Foundry has a prominent sign: '2008 Eisner Award Loser.' Love it when folks who bought the book come back and tell us how they liked it. Ego bump. Melissa is sendìng me photos & videos of Oscar. It's killing me how much I miss them. To think -- I considered not going to the Hyatt this year. I believe that the convos and contacts made on Saturday night are worth having come to SD again. Maybe I should only come on Saturday night. Last day of con. I've had fun and all, but THANK GOD. 'You're not my real dad!' A random stranger just went and got me a Shermy pin from the Peanuts booth. Very nice! Booth babe directing people to us. This signing going much better. Time to head to the airport. It's never a good sign when the bartender asks how much you've had to drink today. That last tweet wasn't about me. They've started boarding the plane. End in sight. On the plane. Ready to turn off phone & sleep. One more SDCC under the belt. Home again. I'm so tired, my brain hurts.

Monday, July 28, 2008

San Diego photo parade

The last of the photos from San Diego are up now on the flickr page. At some point, I suppose, I shall break it down here in prose form.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yes, sorry

I meant to blog continually throughout the show, but I was not in the mental space to do so. Something about this show really took it out of me brain-wise. I will play catch-up in a day or two after I've inserted myself back into my life and have spent at least 24 hours holding my wife and child.

All in all, however, good show.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Let's take another shot at that...

Our lovely model is wearing the shirt that I made as a gift for all the folks I'm meeting in San Diego that have had a hand in 100 Girls success. The shirts also come in black with white type. They are a wonder to behold. No, I won't be making any more, than you for your interest.

OK, Let me try this again. Even getting about five hours of sleep makes the world a little more understandable. And here's the thing: half the decisions about what movies will get made and eventually show up in your local cine-plex, they get made here in San Diego during the con. That means that the American entertainment industry is running on four hours of sleep and is fueled by over-priced alcohol. Think about that the next time you're plunking down ten dollars to watch a movie.

Anyway, I'm going to try to do this as linearly as possible so as not to get derailed. Again, the atmosphere at the show seems to prohibit clear thought. I can only write this because I'm outside the one-mile wide zone of influence.

Tuesday saw me get into town a little late. The plan sat on the tarmac for around an hour. This was a cause for much complaining until I started to hear other folks' travel horror stories. All one needs to stop whining is a little perspective. I will complain about my poor planning, however. Once in town, I went to the hotel, checked in, freshened up, then went and retrieved the boxes I'd shipped to myself. More than fifty pounds of awkward boxes, my backpack, and me. I hit several people in the head with the box containing the banner as I walked along and get apologizing. I thought one mom was going to rip my throat out when I pumped her girl. Thankfully the crowds that already clogged the sidewalks made pursuit difficult.

A security guard let me set the boxes down near him while I negotiated the check-in process. This process was time-consuming, but seamless. Then on to the convention floor and my first crisis. You see, I had gone along planning that the table we'd be at was eight feet long. I designed out banner to be that long, had ordered a backing that length to go behind us (for the banner). Problem was, the table is only six feet long. So we nixed the backing (and got a complete refund, thanks Freeman!), and the folks behind us let us hang the banner off their steel pipe display. You can't see the whole banner, but the logo is prominently displayed. See photo.

Set up was easy. Mostly just me and Todd throwing things on the table and moving them around until they had some sort of pleasing semblance of order. We got done pretty much right when the doors for Preview night opened. So then all we had to do was sit back and try to give off the whiff of desperation. That first night, we made a few sales and talked to a few people, but the crowd on Wednesday night is a different animal than the crowd on other days. You can only get in on Wednesday night if you've bought a pass for the entire four days of the convention. If you are that hard core, then ou have planned your visit. You know exactly what booths are giving away exactly what exclusives. And you are making a bee-line for those locales/events/items. Folks like Todd and me, and nearly everyone else in the small press area, have no con exclusives that got listed in the program, so we just get those few folks who want to meander through the hall when it is relatively free of crowds.

After the show, a large group of us went to dinner. Todd's and my friends, Will and Kristin Miller joined us, which was nice. The Miller's are some of those friends that I see only at the show and they are truly one of the reasons I come down. I felt a little bad because for a while, Todd and I got caught up in conversation with Sean, our publisher about this thing. About which I can't talk yet. So we spent a few minutes having this cryptic talk that excluded the two of them and we couldn't really explain it to them. Other than that, the dinner was great. And we were in bed fairly early.

That catches us up to the first day and seems a good place to stop. More later.


Hello, Internets, did you miss me?

After a two-day separation from the world wide web, I am back in business.

The show is going well. Very well. Todd and I received news last night that makes us very happy. We are not yet cleared to speak of it, so I won't. But soon. Happy.

We're chatting up some folks, selling some books, eating some excellent food. The food in San Diego is stellar. Even better than the food are the people that I see only once a year while at the convention. Our friends Will and Kristin are always a highlight.

It's one in the morning and I don't feel very coherent right now, but I felt I should write something here.

Maybe I should just mention that there are photos from the convention floor up on the flickr page. Go there and partake in the sweet madness that is Comic Con.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We're off on the road to Comic Con

I am leaving early tomorrow morning for what has accurately been described as Nerd Prom, San Diego Comic Con. This is my tenth Comic Con in a row, and my first to attend on my own rather than under the auspices of a publisher. I'll be manning the table with my good friend and collaborator, Todd Demong.

If you are not attending the convention and would like a taste of it, keep checking back here. I hope to make an entry every night of the con to wax poetic on the day's events. I'll also be uploading photos to my flickr account every night. And, throughout the day from the convention floor, I'll be logging brief accounts, more than likely nonsensical, via twitter. That's probably more than any one person would want to know about the show, but one never knows.

If you will be at the show, here is my schedule, please come by and say hello:

Homebase: Table M9 in the Small Press Pavilion.

Other signings:
Thursday, July 24
1:50-3:30 (Arcana Comics, booth 2514)

Friday, July 25
12:50-2:00 (Autograph area, AA1)
4:20-5:30 (Arcana Comics, booth 2514)

Saturday, July 26
4:20-5:30 (Arcana Comics, booth 2514)

Sunday, July 27
12:50-2:00 (Arcana Comics, booth 2514)

It's a banner day!

Just wanted to share with you the banner I created for Comic Con. If you're there, look for it. If not, um... I don't know -- don't. Just try and imagine this sucker eight feet across. It looks pretty good, I just have my fingers crossed hoping it's still going to look good after it's been at the mercy of UPS for four days.

{Once again, I apologize for using a pun in the entry title.}

What could have been

This is an interesting little story from the world of comics in the 1990s. Marvel and Disney were once teamed up to buy poorly performing Marvel Comics. I remember being at Dark Horse at the time. The sense of everyone there was pretty much, "This will never happen, but if it did, it'd be sooo cool...!"

This story, like the photo, comes from the new, and looking to be indispensable, LA Times pop culture blog.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Photo parade

New photos, mostly of our trip to Washington state to see Dave and Naceem get married, are now up on our flickr page. Let me just say, we clean up real good.