Friday, August 31, 2007

Up From The Depths

Last night, I was the guest on a NYC radio show called The Comic Book Novice on 1240 AM in New York; As I take it, the goal of that show is to bring to light the broad spectrum of what is going on in comics today on both the mainstream and independent levels. It really is a good show- not just because I was on it, but it's run by real fans who actually like the stuff they talk about. Having met the people connected with the show before, I can honestly say they are generally cool people as well. I had a real blast, and I was invited to come on again when I have more news to talk about. Belkis, the newest member of the show, blogged a bit about her experience in reading KING!, which kind of made me happy as well. I am told the interview will be available for download soon, so keep checking here from time to time if you want to hear it yourself...

After the week I had, it was good to have some happy times and focus on the joy of making comics again.

Now if only the Mets can get back to their winning ways, all wil be (W)right with the world.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

"It's ALL About Me, Baby..."

I have a confession to make- I have been way too self centered lately.

"YOU? How can this POSSIBLY be," you must be asking yourself. I mean- after all, for anyone who spends his time blogging about all the "cool" aspects of his own work to be sef centered... Perish the thought!

Seriously, though, if you have been reading my blog lately, you have been seeing the open soul searching of a guy who has taken a hard look at himself and sees some room for improvement. As I stated a few days ago, I lost a dear friend an co-worker. Like many people, it threw me into a deep sense of pity for myself, which developed into a case of desire to evaluate my life a bit.

What I don't want you to believe, however, is that for one minute I was directing any of my critical eye toward anyone but myself. I can honestly say that I have nothing but respect for anyone I have colaborated with on every level, and I would never question any of their motives or look at their bodies of work as lacking in any way. I have been blessed too much in that I have always been able to work with the best of the people I have known.

If, on the other hand, you find some of your own shortcomings in mine, then maybe you should do what I am trying to do, and look to find a balance between using your talents well and taking time to love those around you.

Just remember- Even King took time out from kicking zombie hiney to munch down the sweet, gooey goodness of a breakfast burrito...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Getting (a)Head In Life

In the book of First Samuel the writer notes that David, quite a few days after killing Goliath, was still dragging his rotting head around behind him where ever he went. Anyone who has even been around something which has been dead for a long time unattended can attest that the smell and the composition of whaever had died makes it nasty at best to be near, much less to drag around behind you. Although there is no commentary which explains this bizarre piece of triva, I can make a Human Nature based guess as to why David would have done it; Up to that point, David's accomplishments were small and relatively obsure. He bested some lions and bears out in the field while watching his sheep, but he never did anything that people "knew" him for. Goliath's head was David's claim to "fame", and he wasn't going to let go of it just because some maggots made it their summer home...

The more things happen regarding the projects I am involved with, the more I can both understand this attitude and see how easy a trap it is to fall into. While it's great to have something "big" happen to you, it's also a bit more than just desparate behavior to make that your personally defining moment. I know alot of people who have some early success in their career and who, like David and his trophy, never get over that. Using one success as a springboard for getting more opportunities is smart, but quite often it becomes something that freezes a person's creativity. And, like the aforementioned head, pulling out the same tired accomplishment starts to stink after awhile...

While David did alot of great things during the rest of his life, nothing was as "big" (pun intended) as killing Goliath. Sometimes, that will happen even to guys with long careers filled with good work. The key is to continue to work like nothing has happened and move on to new things...

Eventually, out of necessity I guess, David dropped the head and moved on. He had shown so many people by that point, however, that a very popular song was written about the whole head chopping incident, and that song followed him around for years. He even lost a job over it, because his employer aparently was related to Goliath and didn't like the whole "look at me- look at me" attitude of the whole thing.

Not that it was the end of the world, but it must have been an embarassment to David at the very least....

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tastes Like Chicken!

You have heard the phrase, I am sure; Whenever someone is trying to explain the flavor of a non-beef dish, it's almost certain that it will be compared to Chicken.

Duck? Octopus? Frog's Legs? It doesn't matter. It's always Chicken, Chicken, Chicken...


Because people lack either imagination or a diverse enough knowledge base to give a more informed answer, that's why.

If someone had more imagination, they would look for aspects of the experience to convey that are better at expressing the uniqueness of it. Duck, for example, is permeated with a type of fat that gives it the distinctive flavor it has... that fat also has a tendency to stick to the roof of your mouth.

Not very "chicken-esque."

If a person had a greater base of knowledge, they would draw from that greater pallet and allude to the nuances of something rather than a grosser generality. Quail, for example, has all the flavor of a child's rubber ball unless it seasoned correctly, while Phesant has an almost woodsmoked flavor to it's darkmeat that holds up well to strong sauces.

What does all this have to do with anything?

I have found that, as a writer, it's very easy to fall into the "Tastes Like Chicken" trap. There are old standby ways of putting a story together, and obvious dialogue for obvious situations... But that approach is neither imaginative nor consistant with doing proper research. It's very tempting to short hand everything, and fall back on things that always seem to work. Easy, but unsatisfying and ultimately wrong.

Pushing oneself to that next level isn't easy, but the outcome is worth the struggle. At least, it has been for me so far... which is good, because I am not very big into Chicken.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Running With The Devil

I have plenty of things I could talk about today, but honestly, I am not in the mood. When I got to work this morning, I found out that one of my friends whom I worked with for many years had passed away suddenly. His name was Nelson; He was young and it was unexpected, so to say that our whole workplace was in a surreal fog all day is a monsterous understatement. Things like this put everything in perspective.

One of my co-workers reminded me today that our friend would often say, "Life is too short..." whenever it came to regret. It was his way of encouraging people to follow their heart, and he did say it often.

The devil, however, wants everyone to wait until tomorrow. "Put it off... you always have tomorrow..."

But who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Funerals are usually the one time when everyone, everywhere will stop for a moment and listen to the Bible. There is a version of the Bible called The Message; It reads like it was re-worded by some deadhead van driving Hippie, but it also makes points clear without all the lingustical mumbo-jumbo that some versions revel in. If you open The Message to Ecclesiastes 3 and read the verses 9 through 13, you'll hear this:

But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I've had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he's left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he's coming or going. I've decided that there's nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That's it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It's God's gift.

Maybe tomorrow I will have more to say, but for now I have to go.

After all, Life is Short.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

KING!(s) And QUEEN(s)

I have been working on a bunch of different projects lately; So much so, in fact, that I am thinking of instituting a schedule to plan out which days of the week I work on what so that I give everything it's proper due.

One thing I have been working very hard on is tweaking the scripts for the upcoming KING! mini-series. Daniel and I have been in full agreement from day 1 with KING! in wanting every issue to be more over the top than the last. In doing more research for KING!, I started looking at some of the old Flash Gordon newspaper strips; If you haven't actually read any of those, there are collections out there that really do a good job of reproducing them and I would recommend taking a look. Every story arc gets weirder and more crazy... it's just fun reading.

The DVD of the 1980 Flash Gordon movie just came out as well, and I have been also watching that alot. Yes, the acting leaves something to be desired, but the look of the visuals is spot on and the story is structured just like one of the old newspaper strips... And there is music by QUEEN.

QUEEN has always had a place in my heart- whether its a song like the Flash theme (or the funky techno remix) or somebody to love or even a contrived anthem like I want it all, I just never get tired of QUEEN. Maybe it's the distinctive guitar tones or maybe it's the haunting qualities of Freddie Mercury's voice... but I'll listen to everything from Under Presure to Radio GaGa to I want to break free and love it every time. I know that's not very "punk" of me, but it's a vice that I will most likely take to the grave.

Speaking of the grave... I ran across Freddie Mercury yet again in doing some research for Enlightenment. Our second story will deal with the Zorastrian faith, and apparently Freddie was brought up with that religion. When he died, his obituary said he was buried with a traditional Zorastrian ceremony, but I wonder if that's true; The followers of Zoraster would build an ostuary called a "Tower of Silence" and allow the body of the deceased to be eaten by vultures...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Show And Tell

Back in June, I work the Big Apple Con in NYC and I met the people who do a radio show called The Comic Book Novice; It's a half hour call in program dealing with comics, both independent and mainstream, and they feature guests who are creators of various books. They did a video interview with me (which has yet to make it to the web) and I was asked to be a guest on an upcoming broadcast. While I wasn't sure if being asked meant they thought something I did was interesting or if they just ask any schlub who makes comics and doesn't wear a tinfoil hat, but I really didn't care. I did alot of radio back in college and I always loved the medium, and I think it's going to be alot of fun talking about comics...

There is one potential problem I'm going to have, though, and that will be knowing exactly what I can talk about. If you read my blog at all you'll have guessed by now that some of my projects are still in the working stage, and I can't really get into any detail about them. Enlightenment will be out soon- but there isn't a release date for it yet. KING! is on hiatus while we re-work the book a bit, and work out the what,where,when of a deal that's been in the works since February to bring it to a decent publisher... which, again, I can't discuss just yet. Then there are a couple of other projects I'm working on in earnest- one of which will have a release date soon... but I really don't have anything to say about that one, because my work is done already for it and I don't even have a contract to do it yet.

I could talk about the Mets. They are still in first place.

Other than that, I am hoping to hear some news on SOMETHING so I have stuff to talk about.

For those of you in the NYC listening area, The Comic Book Novice is on 1240 AM every Thursday night from 9 to 9:30 PM or you can go to their site and hear it via the internet. I'll be on August 30th, so call them at (631) 888-88-11 and say hi when the time comes...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The End Of The World

There has been alot going on with my creative projects as of late- while I am in some new territory (for me, anyway) it's no big deal when you put it into perspective. Like the common saying goes, "It's not the end of the world..."

I have been thinking about that subject again lately, though. The End of the World. There are so many ways people have viewed that topic in popular culture. Some look at books like John's Revelation and think of political issues. Other people see all the turmoil in our natural world and expect that earthquakes or tidal waves or some asteroid impact will wipe out all life. Some look for supernatural occurances- like in those zombie movies where some out of this world plague makes the dead feed on the living.

Some of that may happen, all of it, or something else entirely.

What I sometimes think about, though, is the end of the world even going to be noticed for what it is? I mean- everyone is looking for a "Big Event," but who's to say we'll even recognize these things if & when the happen. Sure- some huge mass extinction of all life in one day will make the headlines, but what if it's all just a series of smaller things that builds up over time? What if one crazy act leads to another and another and still another... and all that supernatural stuff happens in a way that none of us can see?

Why would I think that was even possible?

The one thing I CAN be sure of is this- if I was a man who read the Bible, I'd know that the one thing which is crystal clear about "The End" is that it will catch people by surprise. Like a thief in the night or something...

Giant explosions and hordes of cannibals roaming the streets isn't a stealthy way to go about things.

So pay attention to the small things. They might point to the beginning of the end after all...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

On The Chopping Block

Creatively, I'm in a strange place right now; One project I had thought was green-lit by a publisher has been put back into the hands of Paul and I, while another project was given the go for 1 issue ONLY, with subsequent issues totally dependent on how the sales for that issue shake out. Having to take control of a creative project myself and do pitches and schmooze people- that's no big shock or problem for me. Up until now, that's all I've really done anyway so I can handle that. But to have someone only willing to do one issue of a proposed series and weight everything on that? It's a weird feeling.

I guess in a way, we did that with KING! because we self-published a one shot which was issue 1 of a book that was designed to the opening of a mini-series... But that was Daniel and I taking it upon ourselves to do. Here, I'm part of a much larger team, and I would hate for the other guys to be affected by how something I wrote was percieved. If I had the right kind of ego, I guess I would be jazzed to be in the spot to make something happen like that. I'm just not that guy, however- I much rather bet on myself than have other people's bets riding on me.

I guess, sooner or later, everyone in creative projects has his head on a chopping block. It's a funny thing to get used to, but I'll manage.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Prepare For Glory!

Being a huge NY Mets fan, I have been watching Tom Glavine's starts with interest lately; He's going for win 300- a milestone in baseball that has been pretty well immune to the steroid accusations of many of the MLB's records, and something that fewer and fewer people will ever reach. Nobody has ever reached 300 in a Mets uniform either, so it's a very special thing for fans of the best team in New York.

The movie 300 just came out on DVD recently, and it's kind of weird that this movie and Tom's 300th win have shared the same week. While nobody doubts the visual punch of the film, some people I talked to thougth that 300 was too nihilistic. The singleminded attitude and the glory looked for in death- these are not popular ideals in our world, especially in a country fighting an unpopular war. That WAS the reality of Sparta, though. While the movie wasn't historically accurate, the attitude conveyed within it was just that. There was a time when that virtue- the concept of victory or death being a win-win situation- was something prized the world over. Impossible odds didn't matter. Only the will to win was important.

Even so, when Glavine to won tonight it was because he did the same thing the 300 Spartians did that day in the Hot Gates.

He prepared for it.

A great baseball player, like those firey Spartians, train their whole life for one moment. The Spartians were ready. It was clear that Tom was ready also.

I often wonder if some measure of glory will come my way. Hopefully, I will have prepared for it when the time comes.

Friday, August 03, 2007

International House of Ideas

Tonight was a "writing night" for me and Paul; Lately, we have been getting together at a centerally located IHOP and doing a creative working dinner. There is something about a stack of corn cake pancakes and a hot cup of coffee that gets the old mind grooving...

And I can honestly say that the groove Paul and I are in is a very good one. While it's still in the "Top Secret" mode, we are coming up with some great things that I sure will get people talking. What I can say is- we are writing the super hero story that most people I know would love to be writing...

I love the interaction and the friendship of these get-togethers. And it doesn't hurt to fill my tummy with sweet, sweet corn cakes either.