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 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.