Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We've moved

I've created a personal website, one component of which is a blog. Therefor, this blog is going to go dark. I'll leave it up for those who make there way here from old links, google searches, etc, but all new posts will be at adamgallardo.com. I've also archived all old entries from this blog at that site.

While you're there, you can look at information about my books and short stories, read my life story, see sexy pictures of me and more.*

So won't you please join me?

*On advice of legal counsel, all sexy photos have been removed.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What I've been listening to lately

Man, I love me some Warren Zevon. Sometimes I realize all over again that he's dead and won't be making anymore music.

This video is from the BBC television show, Words and Music.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

Profit and Loss


First, let me say that Profit and Loss would be a righteous name for a super hero duo. A sort of corporate-themed vigilante team. "We're here to help investors and creditors determine the past performance of their enterprise, predict future performance, assess the capability of generating future cash flows, and clean up the streets!" It would have sort of a Watchmen/Dark Knight feel to it.

Anyway, I believe I've mentioned costing as it relates to comics before in this blog, and I thought I might go into it in some more detail. This may only be of interest to those looking to get into comics. And maybe not even them. This will be a "how the sausage is made" type entry.

At any publisher, your project is going to go through the costing process before it is given the go ahead for publication. Or more likely, your project is going to go through the costing process and there it will die an unceremonious death mourned only by you and, if you're lucky, your editor. It's not a kind process and, given the current state of publishing and the economy, I can only imagine that it's become even uglier than I remember it. For the sake of example I am going to talking about my memories of the costing process at Dark Horse Comics. 1) Because I worked there in the editorial department for a time and 2) because I've had a book go through the process there myself.

Once you have convinced your editor that your idea for a comic is a good one (no mean feat and perhaps worthy of an entry of its own), your editor will take the idea to the Costing Committee. The Costing Committee is made up of a mix of senior editors, financial people, marketing and advertising. The editor will give to the Costing Committee any relevant material that you have given him: your pitch document, art, etc. And the first thing the Costing Committee does is have a Profit and Loss sheet (P&L) made up for your project.

This part of the process is sort of like magic to me, but the individual making up the P&L plugs lots of bits of data into a spread sheet. The creative cost, the parameters of which were discussed between you and your editor; the cost of producing a book of a given page count; whether the book is color or black and white; and etc. And all of these things are broken down into print runs of various size. This tells the costing committee, for example, that a color book that is 120-pages long with a print run of 5,000 copies will likely sell X number of copies in a year and so will ear Y number of dollars. If X and Y are high enough numbers, then your book will be published. In today's publishing climate, I'm guessing that X and Y being high enough is becoming increasingly rare.

I should mention some more about the creative costs and the the discussions that go on between you and your editor. Your editor is by no means an accountant, but he has a fairly good idea (or should) of what kinds of budgets he can get approved. And that budget figure is going to be different depending on if you are just starting out (a low figure) or are an established creator who's name on a project means a guaranteed level of profit (potentially quite high. And this discussion between the two of you should be a back and forth and you have to understand that when your editor will not give in to your every request, he is doing so not because it pleases him to disappoint you (at least that's not the only reason), but because he knows what sorts of budgets are being approved by the costing committee and how much chance of success your project has of going through at a given dollar amount.

You may wonder why I'm thinking so much about the costing process. I will be honest: it's not just for your education and edification, but because I have a book currently going through the process. Writing this entry is helping to remind myself that the process takes time and that there is, ultimately, nothing I can do to speed it along. I just have to hope that the numbers my editor and I (and my co-creators) agreed upon are ones the committee will find agreeable.

I'll keep you posted as the situation develops.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Over the Edge


I remember watching Over the Edge when I was a kid. Maybe ten or so. There are a handful of movies I saw around that time that I feel, and felt at the time, were transformative. That altered me. The Exorcist, Tommy, Altered States, The Godfather, and, of course, Over the Edge. I was too young to be watching any of these people, truth be told, and there's no way I'll let Oscar watch them when he's that age, but discipline was lax at the Gallardo household, I guess.

The movie is a low budget number about rebellious youth, or youth gone wild, or what happens when adults abdicate there roles as authority figures. One or all of those. I just remember that the images of kids rising up against the adults left an indelible mark on me. The fact that the adults deserved it was even more revelatory.

One thing about the movie, however: I've never talked to anyone else who's seen it. Even the biggest film buffs I know seems to be unaware of it. For a while I thought I'd made it up, imagined it completely. So imagine my delight when I found a story on the indispensable BoingBoing.net linking to an oral history of the films production. The article itself resides at Viceland.com. It's fairly lengthy and I haven't made it through the entire piece yet, but what I've read leaves me wanting more.

It also leaves me wanting to watch the movie again. What are the odds it's available on DVD?

Here's the trailer for your viewing enjoyment:

Breaking radio silence


I've been absent from this blog due to family business. Lot's of time in my wife's old hometown where the air is clear and Internet access is a distant rumor. It's sort of nice to be unconnected for large swaths of time. It reminds me that I can have thoughts that don't need to be posted to facebook right this second! Though I did use my phone did to send some photos and such. I couldn't go cold turkey, apparently.

Anyway. I'm back. Here come some posts.

That image, by the way, is of my two favorite people, taken at my mother-in-law's house.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Photo parade

It has apparently been nearly two months since I last posted photos. This has now been remedied. More than 100 photos have been uploaded to our flickr page. No titles, descriptions or tags. The thought of doing that for more than 100 photos made me feel like weeping.

Sorry.

I feel like I don't have much to say lately. A lot of things in process. At stages that aren't that exciting to talk about (because I know that my readers have come to expect pure excitement from this blog).

One thing I should mention is that I got a part-time job. I'm now working as a projectionist at Salem Cinema, Salem's only independent theater. It specializes in indy and art-house movies. So far, except for the time it takes me away from Melissa and Oscar, it's a lot of fun. But it's helping to make ends meet, so it's hard to complain.

I've never worked a projector before, so it's been interesting learning the skill. I like machinery and the chance to get my hands inside of the projectors is great. And I think I take more satisfaction in having threaded the film properly than I likely should. Learning a new skill makes my head feel clear, which is nice. It's been a while since I learned anything new.

On the writing front, like I said, things are in process. Dalton is being considered for publication, which always turns into a hurry-up-and-wait situation (and I'm reminded that I need to write an email to the editor looking at it with my and Todd's ideas about publication--an email that will likely kill any chances the project has of moving forward). Todd is drawing an eight-page short story, but, because he has a day job, it's going to be a while before that's done. I need to start designing an actual web site for my self, but I am lazy and will probably put that off until... who knows when. I sent a query letter off last week to a literary agent, but that's another situation where I just have to wait for a response. Finally, I should be looking for artists for a couple of new projects, but with so many things up in the air, I'm reluctant to start anything new.

Maybe I'll just sit back and try and finish a book. Something I haven't been able to do in more than a week.

Stay tuned for more thrilling posts once things develop.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Walkabout

Three weeks ago tomorrow, on August 6, Oscar took his first steps. Just two or three tentative steps between Melissa and me. He did it again the next morning. And then nothing for three weeks.

Until last night. Standing in a church parking lot talking with some friends, I decided to set him down and see what he'd do, and he tore off. I fear there is now no stopping him. Earlier today he was able to get up from a seated position on the floor and stand and then take off. Both Melissa and I feel like our lives are all changed in some fundamental way. It's both scary and exciting.

But here's a very short video of the little man in action. Enjoy!


video

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jenny Owen Youngs

File this under "What does Adam listen to while writing?".

I believe I discovered Miss Youngs by following one of those "If you like X artist, then you'll like Y artist" recommendations on emusic.com. And they were right! Really, I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. Waifish singer/songwriters. Though Youngs has a bit more grit than is usual for that genre. She has two albums out, Batten the Hatches and Transmitter Failure. I recommend them both.

I'm posting a video here, "Clean Break" off her newest album. There are more videos on the youtube, or at her site, jennyowenyoungs.com.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Brief bits of business

Oh, bullet points, how I've missed you!

• A reminder that the eight-page Dalton short story by Todd Demong and myself is still up at Myspace/DHP. If you haven't already, please read it and let me know what you think of it. Thanks.

• Núria, my partner in crime on Gear School has posted some new photos over on the blog dedicated to that book. And let me say once again that Spain is overflowing with beautiful people.

• This seems like a good time to remind folks that I am accessible in other places on the Internet. I can be found on myspace, though I am never on there anymore; facebook (where, besides a personal profile, I also have a group page and a page devoted to this blog); twitter; flickr; and photos I take with my phone can be seen on twitpic. So many ways to enjoy the spectacle that is me.

And after that bit of egotism, I must go shower.

Back in the real world


I spent the last few days in La Grande, Oregon, which is my wife's hometown and probably the loveliest bit of Earth I've ever laid eyes on. I offer the photograph at right as evidence of it's aesthetic attributes. The only thing about being there is that neither Melissa's mom nor dad has wifi, which leaves me completely cut off from my beloved internets. In small doses, this is a good thing.

The nice thing about this trip's enforced Internet abstinence was that when I returned to check my email, there was a slew of good news and interesting bits. Two stand-outs are that Todd sent me thumbnails for our new eight-page story. Is it shameful for an author to laugh out loud at something they've written. Is it egotistical? Because, really, I thought it was hilarious. The second thing was an invitation from one of my favorite people to participate in a project they're putting together. This knocked me out. And, of course, I can't talk about it in any more detail until it becomes a bit more real. Just know that if this all works out, I am going to be freaking out. For reals.

All of this goodness has left me inspired and productive and, dare I say it, optimistic. Please keep it coming, Universe, I can use all the goodness you've got to offer.

Don't worry; I'm sure that in future posts I shall return to me normal, morose self.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dalton at DHP


Dalton, the eight-page short story written by yours truly, drawn by Todd Demong and colored by Marta Ziemnicka, went live on the Myspace/Dark Horse Presents site today. I would encourage you all to go there and to read the story.

If you like it, please leave a comment. If you don't, please keep it to yourself. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The awful truth

I suspect that if you read this blog, you are either a close personal friend of mine, or you are interested in comics and, perhaps, would even like to make comics some day. If you are in the latter category, I have some advice for you: get on twitter. Then, start following the plethora of comics professionals who post there. Mixed in with the usual banal offerings -- i.e., what folks had for lunch, their opinions about the latest bit of pop culture phenomenon, etc. -- these folks will often dispense pearls of wisdom related to the business and art of comics.

To whit: Dark Horse Comics editor, and my former boss, Scott Allie, replied to someone asking how a writer can break into the comics business. I liked the advice so much, I decided to steal it.

Here's what Scott has to say on the subject:


Start with the small press or online. Comics writers can't know how to write comics until ...

... they've seen their stuff drawn, even if only badly. I wanna see your stuff drawn, and know you've seen it drawn ...

...before I take your pitches seriously. So get some comics done, learn it that way, and then you'll be ready. Then ...

...show me or Marvel or DC the best of that, and even if the art's weak, we can assess your skills. If it's great ...

...it can find an audience through the web or the small press, and put you in demand even before you're pitching to me.

Or start a hugely successful rock band.


Scott is the editor of Hellboy and Buffy and other very successful comics and he knows of what he speaks. He has a lot to teach folks who''l take the time to listen. As my former boss, he taught me that comics will break your heart, but that one should only cry if one won't be seen by anyone else.

Good times.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Things I'm thinking about that are most likely unrelated to one another.

Item 1: I have what I suspect is an annoying habit. Well, more than one certainly but just one that relevant to the discussion here. I don't like to talk about projects in any detail until they have actually come to fruition. On the other hand, I like to mention when I have finished my end of a project. This coyness on my part may very well be infuriating for the reader. For that I apologize.

However! I just finished writing an eight-page script for an unspecified project and I sent it of to Todd Demong. When he's done drawing it we are going to see about entering it into an on-line comics competition. This is something that Todd and I have talked about doing together for going on five ears now. It's nice to finally start writing it; to start seeing it come alive. If this project moves forward from this point, I will definitely write about it in more detail in this space.

I should mention that collectors of the original 100 Girls comics series may find a clue to what project I'm talking about in the letters columns contained therein. There.

Item 2: I can become obsessive about things. Those who know e well may not be surprised by this. Authors and film makers, books, movies, television shows. I can watch certain films again and again. I can listen to certain songs endlessly on repeat. A couple of years ago, I found some videos by the band Ok Go and, for a few months, I had to watch those videos at least once every day.

And now these. A pair of videos by the band The Decemberists. A band I've paid very little attention to before now. I even have one of their albums, but it never grabbed my attention. But a week or so ago, I was on youtube and stumbled across the video for "O Valencia", and quickly followed it up with the video for "Sixteen Military Wives". And I've been watching them compulsively ever since. I don't even feel the need to watch any other of The Decemberists videos. I just need to watch these two over and over again. Soon the spell will be broken and I'll leave them behind and move on to some new obsession. And I won't even remember what it was that appealed to me so strongly about these little gems. But for now, here they are. Let's watch together, shall we?





And a bit of useless trivia. In the video for "Sixteen Military Wives", Ezra Holbrook, songwriter and lead singer of one of my favorite local bands, Dr. Theopolis, shows up at the 4:10 mark. He's sitting behind the drum and wearing a light blue sweater vest. Perhaps that fact will enhance your enjoyment of this video as it did mine.

EDIT: It was pointed out to me by two faithful readers that the video of "O Valencia" I chose wouldn't play. That has now been fixed.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Me, and my writing, on facebook


Have you heard of the facebook.com? All of the kids think it's pretty great. I hear them all the time talking about the great stuff you can find on there. Well, I've decided to make myself one of those things. I've created a group for my comics writing there, so if you have an account, you should definitely become a member of my group. Simply follow this link to join in on all the fun!*

*No fun is actually guaranteed.

The not-so-Sacred Moleskine


The image at Left is from my notebook. The Sacred Moleskine, as Jim Woodring calls his. Though mine is not nearly as sacred as Mr Woodring's.

I have the artistic ability of a woodland creature -- most likely some sort of rodent; a squirrel, perhaps -- but for the last couple of years I've found it a great help to sketch out pages after they've been plotted but before I script them. I find and fix a lot of problems that way. For instance, as in the example shown, there is way too much dialog. There is always too much dialog in my initial outlines and scripts. My characters cannot shut up and I find I must cut their speeches with a ruthlessness that would make Gordon Lish proud.

Also, even at the size I draw them, I can figure out when I'm asking for something that is impossible to draw. This often means that something I want to be one panel needs to become two. And I get a good sense of the rhythm of a page with these thumbnails.

All in all, I think that scripts have become easier to write, and the scripts themselves are better, since I've started sketching. And some day, when I'm a big star, those sketches are gonna be worth something! Right?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Videos

Apparently I have abdicated the chronicling of our son's young life to my wife. Over at her blog, post post partum, Melissa posted several recent videos of the Sprout. Go and watch, and be prepared for cuteness overload.

In which a terrible discovery is made!

I was so impressed with myself today. And then, not.

I got away for a little writing time this afternoon/evening and I had one goal: to write a first draft outline for a short story that Todd and I want to do together. Normally if I have one goal I work on everything else under the sun (including the all-important task of checking facebook and twitter every five damned seconds to make sure they haven't updated). But today I remained focused and got the work done. After a few false starts.

I was starting from scratch. This is a brand new set of characters and a new story. I wrote a draft of something for these characters months ago, but when I showed Todd he didn't like it and thought it should go in a new direction. I didn't know how to do that so I set it aside for a bit. I've been feeling for the last few days that it was time to bring it out and work on it again. My brain had done one of those things where it was apparently thinking about the story without seeming to and I had some new ideas.

But being altogether new, it took a few attempts to get comfortable with the characters and the situation. And the tone. The tone is mostly what Todd was concerned with, so I concentrated on that. After a while, however, the words started coming pretty easily and then it stopped feeling like work and just felt fun. Always a good sign. And I did it. An outline with a beginning middle and end, something that would be easy to turn into a script should Todd say he liked. Yea, me.

Except. Later as I thought about, it started to dawn on me that I hadn't really written chapter one of something; I had written chapter negative one. The chapter that happens right before the action should start; lots of exposition and characterization and talking, talking, talking. My characters love the sounds of their own voices. Which is totally different than me, by the way.

Anyway, now I have to scrap what I wrote today, or at least set it aside and use it later down the line. Now I have to write an entirely new first chapter. Or, I suppose, I could lower my standards. I could do that, right?

No? Okay, I'll be over here bitterly writing a new piece...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Talking therapy

I feel like I've been experiencing a fairly low ebb emotionally. Not that I'm going to unload on you folks, but I thought you might like to know why I haven't been posting a lot on this here blog. Everyday, at least once a day, I have a I-am-going-to quit-comics rant and then I somehow find myself furiously scribbling new plans for comics I could do. I am nothing if not wishy-washy.

Something that always helps is to talk to other comics folks. Last weekend I visited with Greg Means at the Portland Zine Symposium. Greg edits the excellent comics anthology, Papercutter. If you have not read it, you must. Last year's Best of Comics anthololgy included two stories originally published in Papercutter. Greg and I commiserated about the comics biz and he is always interested in what I'm working on, which helps a lot. Hello, Greg.

Earlier this week, maybe Wednesday, I had a phone conversation with Todd Demong. I had many suggestions and questions for Todd and I received a satisfactory response or answer to every one. Hearing exactly what I want also makes life easier. We have now set a few things in motion that, should they come to fruition, will be very exciting. For now they must remain vaguely annoying because I don't like to talk about things in any detail until they are real. So there.

I haste to add here that a Dalton short story by Todd and I should be up next week at either darkhorse.com or myspace.com/darkhorsepresents. I will, of course, alert the faithful once it is live.

Finally, this evening, I had a great phone conversation with comics writer Dwight MacPherson. I've never met or spoken with Dwight before but we have, for maybe the last year or so, been communication via twitter. Re-reading that last sentence makes me shale my head. Anyway, Dwight is the writer of too many things to mention, and a super nice guy, and very easy to talk to despite having almost diametrically opposing political views from myself. I think it's because Dwight is one of those rare humans who actually speaks his mind and hopes that everyone else will, too. It's refreshing. Dwight was giving me advice about one of the aforementioned plots I am hatching with Todd. Talking with Dwight gives me hope we can be successful.

So, yeah, for the moment the pendulum feels like it's on an upswing. I hope it last a while. At least long enough to finish half the things I've started.

Meanwhile, over at the Gear School Blog...

Núria has posted some more cool pics of the short film Bamf! is producing.

Make with the clicky.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

This just about sums it up...


"Although this child is much better than I, yet I must teach it. Although this being has much purer passions than I, yet I must control it."
G. K. Chesterton

Monday, July 20, 2009

Giveaway


Over on her awesome blog, Karen Healey is giving away a copy of 100 Girls. Go here:


Follow the instructions and cross your fingers! The contest ends in 24 hours, so get cracking.

Astute readers may recognize Karen's name. I first met her after she reviewed the book and made several very cogent points about it. I told her as much, after which she asked to interview me. Our conversation has been ongoing ever since. Karen writes for the Girls Read Comics column for Girl-Wonder.org. In addition to this, she is currently writing her PhD thesis about an aspect of comics that is way over my head. And, because she doesn't sleep ever, Karen has her first YA novel, Guardian of the Dead, coming out next year. Basically we shall all be bowing down before her within the next few years. I for one welcome our new New Zealander masters.

Seriously, she's the real deal. Would she be giving away such a terrific book if she weren't?

Two things

Today I delivered the final, colored and lettered, files to Dark Horse for the Dalton short story Todd and I did. Eight pages of awesome, if I do say so myself. The story should be live next month; I'll let you know when it can be viewed.

Also, over on the Gear School blog, I posted a short entry about the fortieth anniversary of the Moon landing, and I posted an accompanying video that is quite dazzling. I'd recommend checking it out.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I like this


I just stumbled upon a review of 100 Girls written by an individual who, I can only guess, is a Buddhist. They look at the book in the context of Buddhism, and the concept of Dharma specifically. I've re-read the review several times and I can't tell whether or not they liked the book.

This interests me because... well, because I know nothing about Buddhism or Dharma and I never intended the book to be a comment on either. The fact that someone who studies Buddhism can find these connects in a book where none were intended. It's a good reminder about how readers can and will supply meanings to your work which you would never in a million years see yourself. In this instance, the meaning is positive and interesting, but there can be instances where that meaning is negative and hurtful to the reader.

And, no, I'm not going to consider the impact of a given story on every potential reader in the world, but it's a good thing to keep in mind, I think.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More bullet points

My brain feels all mushy lately and I seem unable to pull it together long enough to write coherent, fluid posts. Because of that, I'm going to do another bullet-pointed list and call it a day.

• The short story Todd Demong and I are doing for DHP is coming along nicely. It is written and drawn, and I have lettered it. Now we only await the colors to be completed by miss Marta Ziemnicka. I am sure they'll be stellar.

• Speaking of which: Comic Book Resources reported earlier this week that, for this month at least, DHP isn't being hosted by Myspace. Seems Myspace is suffering some financial woes and laid-off a bunch of people, including all of those who handle the DHP end of things. So, for the time being, Dark Horse are hosting it on their own site. I'm not sure what this means for the future of the online comic, but I assume that our strip will see the light of day since I haven't been told otherwise.

• We all know how reliable assumptions are, right?

• Another bit of Todd-related news that will only be of interest to a handful of you: After months of intense negotiations, I believe I have finally reached an agreement with Mr Demong to provide illustrations for this year's end-of-year mix CD. Everyone here at Adam Gallardo Enterprises is thrilled to be working with Todd on this endeavor and we're sure he'll be providing some of the finest work of his career.

• Apparently Nuria Peris has been posting to the Gear School blog without telling me. There are two entries up that I have not previously mentioned. One concerns the crew of the Gear School short film which Bamf! Studo is working on. And the other concerns a copy of our wee book making it into the hands of Yoshiyuki Tomino! There's a picture and everything! I couldn't believe it when I saw it the first time. I need to contact Nuria and have her tell me the circumstances of this particular pairing. For those who don't know, Yoshiyuki created Mobile Suit Gundum, of which Gear School is only a pale shadow. I liked the photo so much, by the way, that I ganked it from the GS blog to display here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Photo parade

We let our flickr account lapse a while ago, but we've rectified that and I've just uploaded more than 100 photos there. These go all the way back to the beginning of May. Enjoy!

Friday, July 3, 2009

This business we call "show"

Culled from this week's Publisher's Weekly/Comics Weekly newsletter, a quote from comics writer Greg Rucka:

"What I learned is that the checks cash just as well whether the movie is made or not. Whiteout was on and off several times since first being optioned in 2000, and I think the secret to all that not driving us [he and artist Steve Lieber] crazy is that it was never our goal to get a movie deal out of this. A lot of people are writing comics or graphic novels in the hopes of getting it made into a movie. That is a recipe for disappointment."

To which I would just like to add: Amen, sir.

Anyone who gets into comics so that they can get a movie made is going to get their damned hearts broken. Hell, anyone who gets into comics for any reason other than to make comics is destined for el corazón quebrado.

I remember a few years ago I spoke to a high school class that was studying comics (although the courses may have actually called them "graphic novels") and one of the things I said, based on a question about how quickly one can become rich as a comics artist, was, "if you get into comics to get rich, you're in for a nasty shock. The only reason to get into comics is because you love comics."

The teacher and the owner of the local comics shop both gave me dirty looks. It quickly became apparent to me that these kids had been told something other than this pessimistic view I was spouting. Maybe they had even been told, as incentive to get them to take the class, that they would become overnight sensations and that people would throw buckets of money at them where ever they went. And here I was saying that comics might have some worth beyond the ability to make you rich and attractive to the opposite sex.

But some people get their comics made into movies and earn money that way, right?" the teacher asked me. His expression said to me that I should not contradict him. And, since his statement was true, I said, "yes." But I didn't go on to say that these kids would be better served taking a class that taught them how to play the lottery than they would be learning how to make comics that got turned into movies. How many comics movies have there been in the last ten years? Twenty, thirty? And how many comics are published every month? Hundreds! Hundreds of comics a month get published and only three or four a year get turned into movies. If Vegas offered those odds, there wouldn't be any casinos still in operation.

So, please, kids, if you want to make movies, do that. Go to film school; buy a camera and go shoot something. Just, please, don't think you're going to make a comic that will be seen by Steve Spielberg and then turned into a movie. It ain't gonna happen.

And no, the recently scuttled deal for 100 Girls has nothing to do with this rant. Why would you even think that?
Following up on my last post which discussed, in part at least, Japanese cinema: please bear witness to maybe the greatest movie trailer of all time.


There is absolutely no way the film can live up to the awesomeness of the trailer, but I'm willing and ready to be proven wrong.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Takashi Miike speaks truth

Via Warren Ellis's sometimes bewildering, but always entertaining, column about comics, Do Anything, comes this quote from Japanese film director, Takashi Miike:

“We have to change the negative things into positive. In today’s Japanese film industry we always say we don’t have enough budget, that people don’t go to see the films. But we can think of it in a positive way, meaning that if audiences don’t go to the cinema we can make any movie we want. After all, no matter what kind of movie you make it’s never a hit, so we can make a really bold, daring movie. There are many talented actors and crew, but many Japanese movies aren’t interesting. Many films are made with the image of what a Japanese film should be like. Some films venture outside those expectations a little bit, but I feel we should break them.”


Substitute the term "Japanese film" with "American independant comics" and you'll get where I'm coming from.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Shameless, really

A bullet point I forgot yesterday:

• I found maybe the best synopsis/write-up ever of 100 Girls yesterday on a site that, as far as I can tell, is used by librarians and teachers. CMIS? Anyone out there familiar with it? Anyway, the review starts off with the line, "This book unfolds like an origami swan, with intricacies at first hidden, then slowly revealed with a surprising intensity underneath." And it just gets better from there. I'd really like to find the person that wrote this and give them a great, big kiss.

And I think that I'm going to pull out the swan line any time I meet a creator whose book is better known or reviewed than mine. Basically, all of them.

"Oh, yeah, well my book unfolds like a freakin' origami swan, so suck it, Jeff Smith.*"

*Jeff Smith, if you happen to read this, please be aware it's a joke. Bone totally rocked.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The points, they are bulleted...

• Today marks the last day of visitors at our home. More than a week of guests. For someone as hermit-like as myself, it was a little hard there at the end.

• One of these guests was my mother-in-law. She watched Oscar for a week and cleaned our house and made us dinners and generally made life very easy for us. Just so that you understand I am not complaining.

• She also paid a very nice young man to mow and weed our entire yard. Lord, there is no way we can repay her.

• The day today was capped off with a mad dash to the Portland airport because our friend TM left her wallet at our house and she would be unable to board her flight without it. It was a lot like every romance movie you've ever seen. Minus the romance.

• This week I did manage to letter the Dalton short story that Todd and I are doing for Myspace/DHP. I am happy with the results and hope the editor is as well.

• I realize that I need to get serious about writing. Is there a pill I can take to make this happen?

• I purchased much music this weekend via the Interwebs: albums or EPs by Arcade Fire, Jenny Owen Youngs, Au Revoir Simone, The Pixies, They Might be Giants, Bon Iver, Spinerette, and The New Pornographers. That's a lot of music I need to find the time to listen to.

• I can't stop thinking about new comics. This is a problem because I can't concentrate on already existing ideas.

• It is not, per se, a bad problem to have.

That is all for now.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ignite recap

I'm sitting in a darkened hotel room right now. Melissa is off somewhere having dinner with some of her family. Oscar is asleep just a few paces from me and I have nothing but time on my hands. These are the moments I find to write in now. It's not a bad life.


Last Thursday, the 18th of June, I spoke as part of Salem's first ever Ignite event. Twelve speakers, each with five minutes to declaim on any topic of their choosing. Each also had to have a 20-slide Power Point presentation to play behind them. It was a fun and interesting night. The topics were varied and some down right intrigued me, but the best part of the night was meeting some of the other presenters.


This being the first such event in town, there were some technical glitches. I think only about half of my slides played behind me, but it was still worthwhile. I spoke about a subject I've been thinking about a lot lately, using the Internet as a content delivery system. I've written about this topic on this blog on more than one occasion. Basically, I'm trying to talk myself into it and using this public forum to state my intention is one way to do that.


I thought that my talk might be of interest to someone out there, so here it is. (And please note that I am not subjecting you to my PP slides, but I will sometimes break from the main body of the text and tell you some of the information that was on them.)



My attitudes about New versus Old Media can be summed up with this analogy:


Old Media are the Roman Empire. New Media are the Visigoths.


Which basically means that while Old Media isn’t dying, its power is waning and becoming decentralized. It also means that New Media isn’t necessarily the thing that will replace it, but it is making everything messy and interesting.


What this means ultimately is that things are in disarray and that individuals who want to create something and get it in front of an audience can use this to their advantage.


Provided they have something to say. I chose to characterize that something to say as an obsession in the title of my talk for a reason. It’s not enough to just want to make something, and it’s certainly not enough to want to make the same old things that have been under construction for the last 50 to 100 years. You have to want to make something new and personal.


Creating art of any kind may be fun, but it’s also a slog. And it can often feel like a curse, because it is something you feel compelled to do no matter what.


"All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

George Orwell


So, let’s say you are so compelled. You’re creating art, you’d like to have it seen by an audience. For various reason (such as how hard it is to break into established media, having to give up editorial control over your work, sometimes having to give up ownership), you decide that Old Media is not the avenue you want to pursue to get it seen. Maybe you want to give this Internet thing a try?


There are a lot of folks out there already using the Internet to broadcast their stories. But there are even more people out there who are waiting for new content. A recent study by the Harvard Business Review looked at the microblogging site, Twitter.com, and found that 90% of it’s content was generated by just 10% of its users. And it’s probably a similar story with the rest of the Internet.


There are an estimated 251 million households with Internet access in America. Using the 90/10 formula (which I realize is a gross over-generalization, but I’m going to do it anyway), that means that 2.5 million households are generating most of the content on the web and more than 240 million are consuming it. This is an amazingly large potential audience.


Of course, no one is going to attract the attention of all of those users. The most successful will only be seen by a small percentage of them, and how will they attract and keep those folks’ attention? By, again having something to say, by having an obsession.


Those entities that are already on the web attracting an audience are doing so because they have a clear, strong theme running through their work. Some examples of this are on the slides behind me.


But if these folks, or you for that matter, hope to make any money out of these endeavors, just putting your stuff up on the Internet isn’t enough. One of the advantages of Old Media is they have all these people and department in place to take your work and design, print, market and sell it. In the New Media, you get to do all of that. Seriously, keep your day job for a while.


On the screen behind me, six examples of web sites I feel succeed in the New Media model of content delivery flashed by. Those sites were:

Penny Arcade

Hark a Vagrant

Overcompensating

Diesel Sweeties

Katie West

Wondermark


All of the examples flashing behind me have found ways to monetize their work. They print or otherwise collect them and sell them, yes, but they also create merchandise, some of them are absolute monsters when it comes to publicity. They maintain presences outside of their own web sites. It sounds an awful lot like work.


“I think the growth of the business has been directly geared to my ability to take the whole endeavor more and more seriously. In other words, approaching the work like a professional has made it into a profession -- the attitude always comes first.”

David Malki!

creator of Wondermark.com


But the advantage of this method would be total ownership of what you create and total creative control(two things that are hard to come by in the world of traditional comics publishing at least). But with total control comes total responsibility.


I’m bringing this all up because I think it’s part of the obsession , too. You have something you want to say, and you want to say it so badly you’re willing to take on all of this enormous load of work to get it out there and make sure people see it. But if you can do all of this, an audience will find you. Then it’s up to your talent to keep those folks interested.


My area of interest is comics and I’ve focused most of my talk on that, but what I’m talking about can be applied to number of disciplines. There are any number of free blogging sites out there, each of which is better at certain things. You could publish fiction, poetry, memoirs, photo galleries. You can make videos and post them to youtube or vimeo. Record songs and throw put them up for everyone to see. The potential of the Internet as a means to get your work seen reminds me of ‘zine culture times about a million.


And there’s one more thing I feel compelled to mention. I decided to make this the topic on which I’d talk mostly because I’ve been thinking about taking the plunge into the world of New Media myself. Despite some success in the world of traditional comics publishing, I’ve been feeling a certain disappointment with many of the processes involved in it. I’m thinking about putting my money where my mouth is and joining the ranks of entrepreneurs on the web. All I need is to convince some artists that they need to come along with me.


All I need is to find some folks with a similar obsession.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Goodnight, Internet

As you can imagine, we are watching more Sesame Street around our household than we did previously. SOme of it I can take or leave, but some of the older clips featuring musicians really knock me out. Here's one of my current favorites featuring Johnny Cash and, of course, Oscar the Grouch:

Dalton


This is just to say that Todd Demong, my collaborator on 100 Girls (do I have to say that every time I mention his name?) and I have sold a short story to an unwitting publisher!

Dalton is a brand new character from us and should go live in the August issue of Myspace/Dark Horse Presents. Provided we hit all out deadlines. Which we totally will, no problem. I think.

Dalton is something Todd has had in mind to do for a number of years, so we're glad to see it get a shot at some kind of life. In fact, it was an eight-page Dalton short story Todd submitted as a sample that convinced me I wanted to work with him. I remember at the time thinking that if everything worked out between us that I'd like to ask Todd if I could work on the character with him. It's nice when things work out, even if we did have to wait a few years for it to happen.

Now we need to figure out what other new projects we'd like to work on.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Much the Miller's Son

Received in the mail today a very nice surprise. Steve LeCouilliard was nice enought to send me the first two volumes of his comic, Much the Miller's Son. And all I had to do was give him a semi-coherent quote to put on the back of the book--which I was happy to do.

Steve is a very nice guy who holds a day job in animation, much like Todd Demong, with whom Steve is friends (but please don't hold that against him). I bring that up to point out that Steve's time in animation informs his comic. The art style is fluid and crisp. The action flows smoothly. And there are gags aplenty.

The story is a retelling of the Robin Hood cycle told from the point of view of the title character. I have to admit that before reading this comic, I didn't even know there was a character called Much in the Robin Hood stories. So, you know, it's educational, too.

The book is a lot of fun, something comics aren't very often. I highly recommend it. Hell, I let Steve put my name on the back of the book, right? Of course I recommend it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ignite Salem


Have you heard of these Ignite events? For the last couple of months the term has been cropping up and sticking in my consciousness. This means, more than likely, that it's been cropping up a lot longer than that and I'm just now finally becoming aware of it. I have been intrigued by the mentions, but I didn't really know what it was all about. Well, lifted wholesale from the Ignite web site, here's their explanation of what they are:

If you had five minutes on stage what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically after 15 seconds? Around the world geeks have been putting together Ignite nights to show their answers.

Ignite was started in Seattle in 2006 by Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis. Since then 100s of 5 minute talks have been given across the world. There are thriving Ignite communities in Seattle, Portland, Paris, and NYC.


Seems straight forward enough, huh? 

Not to be outdone by the lies of NYC, Paris and Portland, my wee hometown of Salem, Oregon is hosting its first Ignite event on the 18th. Which, it occurs to me, is next week. This matters because I'm going to be one of the speakers and I'd better figure out what I'm going to say and what slides I need. Pardon me while I panic.

Back now. It'll all be fine.

Anyway, here are the details for the event:

Northern Lights 
3893 Commercial St. 
Salem OR 

8:30 - 10

And if you go here you can reserve your (FREE) tickets.

If you're in town that night, I'd love to see you there.

Pretty young things

Over on the Gear school blog, Nuria has once again published an update about what Bamf! Productions is up to with the book. There are a lot of photos of actors as well. And I note that Nuria hasn't come right out and said what this is all about so I'm going to keep shtum on the matter.

And, just a little off topic, I'd like to mention that the kids pictured are really good looking. Are kids this good looking in America? If they are, I think they're all former Mousketeers, have hyphenate entertainment careers and are well on their way to their first stint in a rehab center.  But the youngsters in the photos are all Spanish and therefore, I assume, all very  nice kids who do their homework and respect their parents. Yes.

Oh, and the fellow in the picture above, while very handsome in his own right, is not one of these Very Handsome Kids but is, instead, a member of the crew. I just really liked the photo.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Gear School update


Nuria has once again updated the Gear School blog with some hints and lots of photos. Everything looks super cool. I suggest you go and check it out. And thank Nuria for actually making regular contributions over there. One of these days I'll do the same. I promise.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gear School bloggering.


After an absence of many months, I finally make with the posting over at the Gear School blog. A book review of sorts of Peter Watts's excellent Blindsight that quickly goes off the rails.

Also, Nuria posted a new entry last week, too. Anyone want to make a bet whose entry retains coherence throughtout?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More Gear School goodness

Over at the Gear School blog, Nuria Peris, my collaborator on the book has posted another entry about the side project that Bamf! studio have going with the book, complete with new photos. You should check it out.

Do it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The mystery deepens...


Or, actually, they may have given the game away.

Nuria has written another post over on our shared Gear School blog hinting at what Studio Fenix and Bamf Studio (wasn't BAMF the sound effect Nightcrawler made when he teleported?) are up to. You should go and see if you can deduce what's happening.

I will be neither confirming nor denying guesses.

You know, I need to figure out what I'm going to do over there. Old pitch material? Short short stories set in the GS universe? Videos of me doing dramatic readings from the book? The possibilities really are endless...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The secret history of 100 Girls


I have hinted a few times about our (our being Todd, our publisher, our managers, and me) involvement with Hollywood. I have never more than hinted because if these things are up in the air there's a number of reasons not to talk about them. Some of those reason are legal. So I thought it was interesting to stumble across a brief article on Hollywood North Report dot com mentioning 100 Girls having been optioned by Sci Fi. This is interesting to me for a couple of reasons. 1) I never knew that any information about this deal leaked into the wild and 2) because the article is dated December 2008 and the Sci Fi's option on the book had lapsed by that time. Had been lapsed for several months if memory serves.

It makes me wonder why this site would report on a deal that was already history at the time of reporting. Hollywood North Report claims it got the original story from another site. This other site doesn't have any kind of search function, so I can't tell what exactly they reported. This little episode may remain a mystery, I guess.

I have always thought that I'd like to write a detailed history of 100 Girls in Hollywood, but only after the matter of its involement there is settled. And by "settled" I mean either 1) Someone actually purchases the writes to the book or 2) Todd and I throw up our hands and decide to give up on the process entirely.

I have no illusions about which of those eventual outcomes will come to fruition.

But for now, marvel at what could have been...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Gear School blog rises from the ashes...


Raise your hand, who remembers that I used to post over on a blog for my book, Gear School? Anyone? Anyone? That's what I thought.

Well, after months of inactivity, Nuria,my better half on that book, has started posting material there. Only it's not quite about the book. I am not currently at liberty to say what this is all about, but I do know what it is and it's pretty cool. I will tease just a bit more and say I can't wait for the announcement. You really should start paying attention to what's going on over there, I think.

So, Nuria is posting there again, how about me? Yes, I do plan on maintaining a presence there again, unless something gets in my way. What that might be, I'm not sure, but I'm sure life can think of a few things.

Wish me luck.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Even more photos


Plenty of new photos, most of these centered around Melissa and Oscar's birthday open house, up on our flickr page.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy birthday, Oscar!


Today is Oscar's first birthday. We took him to a local bookstore, then spent some time at A. C. Gilbert's Discovery Village. A nice, relaxing birthday.

Many new photos, including lots from today, are up at our flickr page.

Happy birthday, mister, I love you like crazy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

So many murderous girls...


I was tooling around on the book tracking/social networking site Good Reads (of which I am a member) tonight and, because I'm a glutton for punishment, I was reading the reviews of my little book, 100 Girls. Many of the reviews point out the fact that for a book aimed at young adults, it's amazingly violent.

This is interesting to me. My immediate response is, "it's not meant for young adults!" or, at least, it's not aimed at them specifically. Also, a lot of folks seemed to imply that the art's being so violent is somehow Todd's fault. Poor Todd Demong! I have to take the blame here and point out that Todd didn't draw anything that I didn't ask him to draw. Todd is actually a very nice man who, as far as I know, has few violent tendencies. He's Canadian!

When I sat down to write the book, I had no specific audience in mind. I was writing it for myself. So, in that case, I guess one could say I was writing it for slightly depressed thirty-something men who'd recently been laid off, but that's kind of a niche market. I took the story exactly where it wanted to go without worrying about who might be reading it in the future. I figured that if people didn't like it, for whatever reason, then they simply wouldn't read it. A not unreasonable assumption.

I remember the first time I had a little mental "uh-oh" about the book's content. I found out that some friends with an eight-year old girl were giving it to their daughter to read because it was comics, which the girl liked, and it featured a strong female protagonist. All good enough, but while she sat there reading the comic, all I could think of was Sylvia's tearing the arm off a wolf creature. And her implied killing of a man. And so on.

When the book was originally published by Arcana, it was released sans any kind of rating or age recommendation. It was only when the book was picked up by Simon and Schuster that that publisher placed it at its young adult imprint, Simon Pulse. When I learned what their target market was for the book, I gritted my teeth and wondered what they'd say about the violence.

And (I hope I'm not telling tales out of school here) they never mentioned the violence. The one thing they asked if we'd mind removing was a bit of (in my mind, very coy) sexiness between the adult characters Tabitha and Chase. This actually left Todd and I a bit flummoxed. Sylvia does many terrible things in the course of the book, both on-screen and off, and a shot of Tabitha in her underwear and Chase's bare chest is what they didn't like. Todd and I had our agent tell Simon and Schuster we'd rather not alter or drop the offending scene and nothing more was ever said about it.

Back to the violence.

I always assumed that if people questioned the violence, that they would assume I had an overall plan, or goal, in using it. And I do. I totally do! It's important in the story. Really. Of course, I'm not going to tell you what the purpose of the violence is right now, but rest assured it's not merely gratuitous. I say "not merely" because I am aware that it may very well be gratuitous. I'll expand on that purpose someday when either Todd and I finish the story we've set out to tell or when it becomes apparent that we'll never be able to finish it. For now I hope raders will trust me.

One last thing: the title of this post come from a review from a comics web site wherein the reviewer called me to task for the brutality in the book. We later had a one-on-one conversation where I believe I assuaged his concerns. Would that I could do that with everyone who is put off by poor Sylvia's behavior.