Spoilers for Game of Thrones. And early ’90s Superman comics, I guess.
Death in stories is important. Or at least, it should be.
Coming from comics, we’re used to death being a revolving door. Heroes and villains die frequently and eventually return. It’s part of the tapestry that makes superhero comics what they are. The impact of these deaths, when done well, is a source of great drama and character exploration. Their purpose is to reinvigorate the ongoing stories with a new status quo and open up new paths of storytelling. Likewise when the same characters return.
The most well-known example — and the best, I would argue — would be the death of Superman. By 1992 Superman had become sort of passe, an optimistic character in a pessimistic world. In an era of things like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, Superman had become almost anachronistic. The public’s wants seemed to be shifting, and this was reflected in Hollywood as much as in comics. 1987 delivered the ill-conceived and repugnant Superman IV: The Quest for Peace — an abysmal flop — while the grittier Dark Knight found smashing success in Tim Burton’s Batman only two years later. The era of the morally upstanding hero was done, it seemed, and the ’90s ushered in the era of the anti-heroes and grim avengers. More brooding, more bullets, more blood.
If you haven’t seen It Follows, there are spoilers here. I highly recommend avoiding this post until you have a chance to watch and unpack this movie. Not even because I’m spoiling it for you, but because I want you to spout your theories and your reads. Let’s dig into this shit.
It Follows is the modern horror movie that finally understands that over-explanation is, in fact, the removal of horror.
That writer/director David Robert Mitchell rejects any notion of explanation is why It Follows is as compelling as it is. In this interview with Yahoo! he has a lot of interesting things to say, but his quote “something from a nightmare can’t be explained” sums up his movie perfectly.
It Follows is a horror movie with something to say, but ultimately it’s up to the viewer to unpack what that might be. It could be read as an allegory for AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, a celebration of monogamy, an exploration of true love, a condemnation of casual sex, the terrible effects of a non-present parent, the nature of death, facing the consequences of our choices, or… it could just be a nightmare caught on film. And there are no rules for a nightmare.
I’m by no means a financially successful writer that should be giving any sort of contract advice to other comic book creators (though not for lack of trying), but I think it’s important for us all to share our experiences with these things and there’s far too little of it in the community (if you want great legal info on contracts from a creator-POV, check out Charles Soule’s posts on the subject; the man is a talented writer as well as a lawyer).
So, I’ve done a few things here and there: some work-for-hire for publishers I love, some work-for-hire that I wish would disappear forever and burn in Creative Hell, creator-owned books with indie publishers and creator-owned books self-published with the help of Kickstarter. I’ve done work I’m proud of (except for the aforementioned stuff burning in Creative Hell) and have plenty more in the works.
More recently I’ve been collaborating with the amazing Joe Badon on a science-fiction project that I’ve been pitching as CHEERS meets BLADE RUNNER, called SPEAKEASY. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, Joe’s art is stunning and weird, and pretty much every publisher has passed on it. And that’s totally okay. The style is definitely outside of the mainstream wheelhouse, and coming from two no-names, I get it. We did, however, have a long (year-long, in fact) conversation with a smaller publisher about getting it out there, possibly this summer/fall. I’m not going to say who because it really doesn’t matter. They put out books that I really like and I would’ve been happy to work with them.
SPEAKEASY art by Joe Badon
In celebration of the end of my favorite modern sitcom, the incomparable PARKS & RECREATION, I thought I’d post a spec script I wrote post-Season 5. This is a time when Leslie was getting recalled from city council, Ben was working for Sweetums, April was gonna go to vet school, Andy was still fat, Ann and Chris were trying to have a baby but weren’t a couple, Tom was a burgeoning small business-owner, and Ron just discovered he was going to be a father.
The episode is called “Rite of Passage” and is about Ben trying to build a Sweetums-sponsored playground and turns to Ron for help, while Leslie tries to use the whole thing as a way to get some positive PR for herself. Meanwhile, Ann’s mom comes to visit and thinks Ann is still dating Andy, causing conflict for both Chris and Ann and Andy and April.
So please download the PDF and enjoy over some breakfast foods and/or calzones.
Filed under blog, tv, writing
I’m perfectly aware there’s more than a few “breaking down the Episode VII teaser” pieces floating around on the Internet today. But Star Wars is the one thing I can’t resist picking apart and dissecting. And since for years I basically thought I’d never be able to do that again, I’m writing this more for myself than anyone. Because I’m so damn excited.
But if you’re reading, thanks for enduring another purely speculative and mostly uninformed orgasm of happy thoughts that only Star Wars can muster inside of me.
Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens
A couple of things: my thoughts are based on only what I see in the trailer itself or rumblings of unconfirmed rumors. I don’t have any inside scoops. I know as much as anyone else reading the rumor reports. I always take those rumors with a grain of salt (particularly ones that just sound absolutely ridiculous, of which there are plenty) and you should too. But who knows? I imagine there are bits and pieces of things that are accurate… from a certain point of view. And remember: Expanded Universe continuity is out the window and will not be adhered to, so anything is possible (and Boba Fett is deaaaaad).
In any case, while this is all theoretical and me just spit-balling… let’s go ahead and put a big ol’ SPOILER WARNING right here just in case anyone reads this and it turns out I was totally right.
Oh, and if you haven’t watched it yet, well duh:
Over two years ago, I posted a piece calling out some severely inappropriate behavior by a comics retailer in my home state of MA. While I can’t say if his behavior has changed at all during this time, I can say that we followed through on the promise I made in that post — that we’d put together an anthology that uses comics to fight the type of bullying that, unfortunately, happens even within our own community of creators, retailers, and readers.
With the help of my co-editors Adam Pruett, Erica Schultz, and Kristopher White, we assembled an elite comic-book-making team ranging from superstar A-listers to exciting up-and-comers that donated their time, effort, and creative juices to create an anthology that we’re proud of with a variety of different styles and a theme that unites. It’s been a long, hard road to make this book a reality, with conversations with nearly every comic publisher you can think of, but we’re blessed to have teamed up with Northwest Press to get this book out the door.
A RISE cover by Sean Von Gorman
NWP launched a Kickstarter last month that ended yesterday — exceeding its goal of $10,000. The money was to cover printing costs to distribute these books to our partner organizations so they can give them away for free at schools and events. Our partners were also instrumental over these past two years of getting this thing together — GLAAD, Stand for the Silent, and PRISM Comics — and we can’t thank them enough.
So to everyone that kicked in or spread the word, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. This project has been a labor of love (and oftentimes a mountain of stress) for everyone involved, but knowing that people supported a project like this — getting it into the hands of kids for free — is amazing.
Head on over to the Kickstarter updates to see some of the stories that we’ve posted for a free sample!
Filed under blog, comics, news
11 years ago we lost Elliott Smith. The world has been worse without him in it.
This coming weekend (August 8-10), Drew Zucker and I will be hunkered down in Artist’s Alley at the wonderful Boston Comic-Con (more accurately, Drew will be there all three days. I will be there Saturday and Sunday). While I’m always excited to table at another show, this one is particularly exciting, as Drew and I are debuting the END OF OLYMPUS ashcan, a 12-page preview book that serves as a teaser to our upcoming series of the same name (more on that eventually). We’ll be hawking it for $2 a pop and we think you’ll dig it.
You can read the whole thing now if you’re a Patron on Patreon, but if not, here’s the awesome cover (yes, it’s all B&W, but the series will be in color) by Drew. If you’re heading to Boston Comic-Con, please stop by the table and say hi — and maybe pick up an ashcan!
We live in a world where being a creative person doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got to eat Ramen for days on end in order to make your projects happen. More than ever, creators are able to interact and receive direct support from the people that enjoy their work. I’ve been fortunate to have three successful Kickstarter campaigns to fund specific projects, but now I’m giving something new a shot — Patreon — a crowd-funding platform meant for ongoing financial support.
Essentially, Patrons commit to a certain amount of money per month and receive content in return. For example, $5/month nets you some free short stories and comics, as well as behind-the-scenes looks at everything I create. Early art, scripts, etc. $10/month gets you all of that plus the Pawn Shop Script Book and an open channel to ask me any questions about making comics you might have. Finally, $20/month gets you all of that plus a new short story and a Google Hangout every single month. And all levels give you the benefit of knowing you’re helping make life a little more doable for creatives.
It’s basically just a tool for creators spend less time doing odd jobs to meet their financial requirements — bills, rent, etc. — and more time creating. Will it work out for me? I hope so, but we’ll see. It’s definitely worth a shot though — we’ve got to try out any potential streams for income that we can — and I recommend any other creators reading this to set up a page and give it a try. Some other folks in comics have Patreon pages as well — check out my pal Rachel Deering, who is killing it.
Filed under art, blog, news, writing
Hope everyone enjoyed their Independence Day holiday — or “Friday” for those outside of the US. 4th of July weekend always reminds me that we’re in the midst of summer — if the whole summer was a day, 4th of July weekend is when the sun is highest in the sky — so I thought I’d make a fun playlist on Spotify that you can cruise and bruise hearts to.
Summer always strikes me as a unique time of the year. The nice weather seems to bring with it a chance for new beginnings; I think it stems back to when we were kids and summer vacation would hit. The year was over and there were months of freedom ahead. Chances for new and fleeting romances, fun adventures, and lack of responsibility. It’s a romantic notion, summer, and as romance can often be, is quite cruel.
I tried to capture the excitement, optimism, and bittersweet endings that come with the summer time within a one hour playlist. Roll down your windows and enjoy.