Retro Review

In the interests of more writing practice, I figured I'd review some older (pre 90's) back issues that I have. As an added bonus I get to re-read some old comics which is generally a treat. I have a list that's a work in progress here that I'll be updating with more back issues as I go through the ones I already have and buy new ones. If you all have a preference for which issue you'd like to be reviewed just let me know and said issue(s) will take priority. I've already done three and will keep going more or less randomly unless you all give me some guiding feedback.

For the time being I'd like to restrict these to books I actually have in stock, but it'd be great if I could hunt down issues you all recommend in the future and do those as well. That's a ways off but is something that would be pretty sweet.

Thanks for reading!

  1. Retro Review 1
  2. Retro Review 2
  3. Retro Review 3

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The Writing Game Part 1

Opening remarks:

Prepare for run-ons, randomness, and disjointed thoughts.

Meat and potatoes:

So, given that I've had tons of time off I figured I'd get back into writing, and what could be better than writing comic scripts? Well, doing so for fun, personal progress, and any reason other than a for profit purpose makes it seem like such an endeavor can only end well, right? I don't intend to answer that any time soon, by the way. I figured, why not hone my basically nonexistent craft while I have the time to do so? Done. I started rehashing stuff I wrote from five-ish years ago and what have you, only to discover that I stupidly left a good portion of my already somewhat fleshed out story arcs, character profiles, and issue breakdowns back in Pennsylvania! I was (and still am) so pissed at myself for doing this as I wouldn't have had to "waste" time redoing stuff that was already done. That being said, I've mostly worked on expanding story ideas, character interactions, and individual issue plots, so too much time hasn't been wasted on recovering old ideas.

There aren't too many helpful guides to writing comic scripts out there, at least not as far as my dumbass has been able to find, so I started scouring the bonus sections of those more expensive (read deluxe, limited, or whatever ) collected editions that I did bring over with me for sample scripts. Thankfully I found one in Batman: Year One, several in the three volumes of Y: The Last Man, and even a good bit from Daredevil: The Man Without Fear. I'll also mention Storm Dogs as I take any excuse I can to bring up that series. Daredevil's features both more of a traditional script that I assume most publishers have adopted some form of, as well as that of a short story format that gets reworked into a more manageable script. Since I find it easier to start out in short story format, this one got me more interested, but strangely, it's not as helpful as the more traditional one. Color me confused. A while back, I stumbled upon (found by Google searching) some online script samples and someone from here also helpfully posted the same link. (I'd forgotten about it, hence the helpfulness) Additionally, there are guidelines that can be found on both Darkhorse and Image websites for both writer and artist submissions so I've included those for any who are interested. Phew! Time to break up this huge wall of text.

Advice:

Some helpful advice that I've heard about aspiring writers is to write every day and to write different things. Easier said than done definitely applies here but it makes total sense. Also, don't worry about getting everything perfect the first time- that's what drafts are for. Sadly, I can't remember who said that. Some other advice I saw on ehow was to just grab a random comic, and break it down page by page by analyzing what happens in each panel. It seems legit but I've yet to do it with a whole issue as that seems thoroughly exhausting.

Hilary Goldstein, offers some helpful insight into writing a comic script here. He also recommended DC comics guide to writing which I'll definitely end up grabbing. I bring him up yet again as I recently an invaluable tool from backing his kickstarter for his comic series Golem- a script book which features art layouts in addition to the script so it helps to better illustrate how the gap is bridged between the word and the art.

Closing remarks:

For now, especially that I have the luxury of time on my hands, I'll keep trucking along and doing something that involves writing or learn about writing every day. Thankfully, this also includes reading comics more conscientiously and paying more attention to what happens in each panel, how many on are the page, POV's, and the like. Best of luck to all of you aspiring artists! I wish you all the best as now is an awesome time to be a comic creator/collaborator. Comments, criticisms and advice are always welcome, especially from published authors. :-)

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Kickstarter Conundrum

Opening remarks:

None this time. You have been spared.

Meat and potatoes:

By now, I'm sure that all of you awesomely rabid (I mean that in the best possible sense) comic readers have heard of Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other sites I don't know about, that are used to crowdfund creative projects. My best friend turned me onto Kickstarter in August of last year and my life, financial life in particular, has never been the same since.

Why, you ask? Well, it's mostly because there are so many good looking projects out there I end up backing quite a few of them. Let's not kid ourselves here, I tend to go overboard with them. If you're a subscriber/regular visitor at your lcs, this could pose a potential "conflict of interest." How do you balance keeping up with your pull list and these unknowns? Well, for those of you smarter than me (i.e. everyone), you'd just set aside a small portion of available funds, limit your pledge amount and number of projects you can back, and move along. Not so for this one. I find it hard to withhold support from potentially promising titles, and I do love trying new things. I can't stand people who singularly adhere to a single brand or publisher-they're just missing out on so much other goodness out there. What do you all do? Do you find it easy to turn off the funding urge, can't control it, are independently wealthy so this doesn't apply or has never occurred to you?

Closing remarks:

This doesn't even address other classes of comic readers such as those who mostly buy digital books, wait for trades, etc. Everyone's story/input is welcome. Thank you for reading and sharing.

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The Writing Game Part 2

Opening Remarks:

So, having been jobless for months now, I've had much more time to write so I've decided to jump into it. As of now, this will be the first of three recent blogs I'm posting, even though it should be the third. The reading order should be Kickstarter Conundrum, The Writing Game Part 1, and then The Writing Game Part 2. It's my crazy head so don't ask questions. :-) I may edit this later and add a link to Part 1.

Meat and Potatoes:

Naturally, I've been working on comic scripts and have recently expanded my resources to include screenwriting aids. Unfortunately, the library here has nothing on the one in Pittsburgh that I'm used to so that was depressing, but moving on. One of the first books I started reading is called Screenwriting From The Soul which I found immediately engaging and am enjoying thus far. There was another very short introductory book for youths (Screenwriting a practical guide to pursuing the art) which I got through pretty quickly given its target audience, but it was kind of neat and did what it was supposed to.

One of the few things that I've finally managed to learn is to never narrow your focus too much on one topic because you'll miss out on a number of potentially very helpful information. As I begin a new stretch of this journey I wonder what'll happen. For those of you who are interested (i.e. nobody :-) ) a list of the books I grabbed from the library follows.

  1. Emotional Structure: creating the story beneath the plot: a guide for screenwriters by Peter Dunne
  2. Top Secrets: Screenwriting by Wolff and Cox
  3. Writing the character-centered screenplay by Andrew Horton
  4. The Writer's Journey: mythic structure for writers (3rd ed.) by Christopher Vogler

Closing Remarks:

Recommendations and reviews are always welcome.

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Unsounded Volume 1 Review

Dear readers, I am both thrilled and honored to bring you a review of a Kickstarter comic by Ashley Cope. As the title suggests, it’s called Unsounded, and with her somewhat recently ended Kickstarter project she was able to compile the first three chapters of her webcomic into a tpb. The cover alone hints at both the humor and beauty that are found within.

Plot Summary:

We find ourselves with the hilariously mismatched duo of Sette, a young, brash, human girl with the heart of a true rogue, and Duane, a Galit. As far as Sette is concerned, a Galit is a zombie; although Duane disagrees with this. Given that he is skilled in magical arts, quite well-spoken educated, and carries himself with the utmost dignity, I’m inclined to agree. The unlikely partners are on a quest to investigate why Sette’s cousin Stockyard Frummagem, hasn’t been turning in his proper share of tribute to Sette’s father, the “boss-king” of thieves.

Reasoning:

Honestly, there’s nothing not to love about this. The story is good, the action is nicely placed, well laid-out, the humor is always spot on, and the serious issues touched on give one thoughtful pause. Much like the pairing of Sette and Duane, the juxtaposition of the never-ending banter between the main characters, and issues such as human trafficking and enslavement (not just that of humans mind you) may seem odd, but they go together very well; however, the fact that Ms. Cope can both skillfully and deftly deal with both lighthearted humor as well as more adult issues speaks volumes to her skill as a writer and storyteller.

Bet you weren't expecting this, eh?

As far as the art’s concerned, I literally have no complaints. What immediately struck me was the vibrancy of the colours she uses. Every single page, nay panel, brims with detail, life, and beauty. Facial expressions and outfits stand out and are memorable, and the panel layouts chosen in certain scenes perfectly help convey a sense of action and urgency or even bewilderment and awe. Some of her creations immediately call to mind Princess Mononoke (see below for an example) and it’s clear that Cope has invested a large amount of time, love, discipline, and passion into designing this rich, perplex, and intriguing world.

Final rating: 5/5. By far, this is my favorite Kickstarter comic and one of my favorite collections. You owe it to yourself, and to Ms. Cope, to check this out. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read this and have a great day! I saved my personal favorite page for last as it really made me see more of The Spectre in Duane.

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Shameless Kickstarter Plug

Intro

Yes, it's going to be that kind of blog, but please bear through it, dear readers. :) My good friend turned me on to kickstarter about two weeks ago and this was a financially fatal mistake for me. I've seen so many good-looking projects with tasty looking awards (didn't know books could look delicious, huh?). Every few days I just keep seeing awesome sounding and eye-catching ideas and I just wanna jump on board. However, just pledging a dollar, the minimum pledge amount, doesn't do it for me. I want to have some decent, physical goodies that I can read, re-read, show off to friends and the staff at the lcs, and file away for posterity. I love the feel of kickstarter-from how you can hear/see the creators' pleas "directly," to the more or less immediate feedback you can get from said creators and other supporters called backers. The project updates, if done in a timely fashion, do a lot to keep momentum and excitement going, and if you include the "word of mouth" that occurs with social media, you've potentially got an unbelievably huge pool of backers. Now that I've gushed about the site, let's explain how it works.

How to

Navigating the site is really easy to do and intuitive but I'll give a rundown all the same for those who are curious. If not, feel free to skip this section. Naturally, you have to create an account, but it's easy and you can even sign in with your facebook one. At the top of the page in blue it says discover and create. This get you started either searching through projects you may want to support, or you can set up your own. We'll just focus on the searching, though. To help make things a little easier to navigate, there are categories on the right of the page that narrow the search. You probably wanna choose "comics," but there's also theater, music, and even photography . Once you find an intriguing looking project, just click and visit the page. Creators often have videos that introduce their projects followed by descriptions of what they're trying to accomplish, what the funding will go towards, and any "stretch" or extra rewards that are given as another token of appreciation for backers support. Creators establish pledge levels which are listed on the right with descriptions of what rewards/goodies are included for that level of financial support. After you pledge, you'll confirm the amount and corresponding reward and you can even manage your pledge if you want to change the amount or even just give it all without getting a reward in return, most generous you. :) After you confirm, you'll be taken to amazon where you'll further confirm your payment method and address, so make sure your amazon account is up to date with accurate address and payment info. That's it! You'll be redirected to a kickstarter page saying "You're a backer of x project," and from there you can-pledge more, post comments, or just browse to your heart's content.

Wrap Up

There have been a number of posts about kickstarter projects and I'll post them later for easier referencing. A lot of big names in the industry such as Gail Simone and Jamal Igle have projects on kickstarter (Igle's was successfully funded already), but there are tons of other ones from "amateur" creators who are taking a chance with the public to make their dreams come true. *Cue the sugar overload and subsequent barf bag* I say all of this because I think these projects are neat, comic based, have good rewards, and worth the support. Although I'm not one for facebooking, skyping, or the like, I feel like this is the way that I can help promote these projects, even if it's only a little bit. Take a look around and maybe you'll see a project or ten you feel like throwing a buck at. The friend of mine who turned me on to kickstarter has backed (i.e funded) several video/card games so there's a lot here to appeal to everyone, I hope. Thank you all so much for bearing through this. Blessed be.

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Dealing with significant others who aren't into comics

Dealing with partners who aren’t into comics

Over the past few weeks I’ve been catching up on a small portion of the many comics I missed during my 15 year absence. Scary, I know. My local library has come quite in handy with this as I just check out trades, HCs, Essentials, etc. and have at it. Given that I work at a dormitory that doesn’t have many kids I have a lot of time to read these stories so that’s what I do for most of my shift. Unfortunately, try as I might, I’ve not been able to win my fiancée over. She likes to write rather creepy short stories but can’t get into comics.

This weekend I tried getting her to read Batwoman: Elegy, not only because of the awesome character that Katherine Kane is (traditional alliteration notwithstanding), but also because of the jaw-droppingly gorgeous artwork. Alas, due to her general lack of interest and our wedding planning, she did not. A few months ago when we were collectively less busy, I tried getting her to read Aquaman Vol 7 #6 as I found Mera’s treatment of the groping, scumbag boss to be utterly satisfying but she kept “forgetting.” Perhaps she truly did or maybe it was motivated forgetting. Who knows?

To her credit, whenever I discuss comic things she will both honestly and seriously engage me in conversation, and we do have fairly frequent comic book based discussions. A few days ago I brought up Colossus’ betrayal in UCXM Vol. 1 #304 (remember when getting holographic covers got you really psyched?) for some reason other than the fact that her brother in law is Russian, I think.

The point of all this is to get others’ input as to how they deal or don’t deal with being with a significant other who isn’t into comics the way you are, or at all? This blog was sparked by jloneblackheart's "A Milestone" blog as I've been wondering about this for a while now.

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Subscriber Perks: Pros and Cons

Disclosure: As I've not been creative of late but still wanted to get some perspective on this topic, I re-posted an older blog of mine with appropriate updates

First off, let me say that I love being a subscriber as it is a great way to not only support your local comic shop and the titles you love, but also allows you to connect with other comic book geeks/fans. Social perks aside, there are also the discounts you can get if you subscribe to enough titles. Currently, I'm at 15% off which definitely helps financially (helps me to spend more, that is) but I wonder if that amount will/can go up as my "Master List" now contains 38 titles.

Also, because the majority of titles are ones you can't have access to ahead of time,there may come a moment when you will stumble upon one that really clicks with you. In other words, taking a chance with a subscription can certainly pay off if you find a series you like and expand your comic repertoire. In a forum, some members mentioned that their LCS gave them bags and boards for free, or even bagged and boarded their purchases. This is great.

Case in point #1: The Goon, Journey Into Mystery, Uncanny X-Force

Cons:

On the other hand, what if you take a chance on a title and don't like it? And I just don't mean don't like it, maybe you ''hate'' it. What do you do? Do you cancel it? Surreptitiously slip the book back onto the shelf but quickly grab another title out of guilt (Edit-I've done this twice)? Buy it but rage about it to the online community/friends later?

Case in point #2: Batman: The Dark Knight- I've yet to remove this from my pull but will soon. Even the inclusion of Bane couldn't help this series.

Also, can you unwillingly of course, "go crazy" with subscriptions and end up eating cheap Ramen for a month or two? I haven't reached this point yet, but could (Edit- I've been there a few times this year). The requirements of physical storage also potentially apply to the cons but I'd be particularly interested in hearing about cons (if any) for those who do comics digitally that don't deal with sensory aspects of the reading experience.

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Social Awkwardness

The Good

About a week or so ago, I, once again went to my comic shop a few minutes before the scheduled opening so I could grab my pulls before class started. When I got there there was already an older, possibly middle-aged guy, waiting as well , along with Wayne (a long time employee and my favorite to boot) Wayne and I started catching up about Thanksgiving break and what not while we all waited for Dave (the guy with the key that day) to show up. Wayne informed us that Dave had just moved and had to adjust to using a different bus to get into work and that was probably why he was running a little late. A few minutes later Dave showed up and he and Wayne headed up to prep the store. While they did so, the other customer and I struck up a conversation centered around comics, naturally, that was polite, pleasant, and not at all invasive. I found out that he worked down the street and decided to come up early so he could fully enjoy his lunch break rather than having to divide it between travelling to and from the shop as well as eat. I very much enjoyed talking with him and towards the end of our conversation Jeff (the store owner) showed up, and ushered us upstairs to our home away from home. Talking to other comic book readers about comics, comic related topics, or even *gasp* other topics, is what I look forward to the most when making the weekly pilgrimage to Phantom of the Attic Comics. It's always nice to see and hear what people are interested in who share a mutual interest. I'll stop with that for now as the social aspect of comic reading is a whole other topic in of itself.

The Bad

So, a few weeks ago, about a week or so before the above incident, I skipped my philosophy class and went to the comic shop before it opened so I could grab the titles and covers I wanted before the other faithful patrons could get their hands on them. Well, shortly after I got there another younger-looking shopper showed up and waited so I struck up a conversation with him and asked which titles he was reading and what he thought of the DC reboot. At first, he seemed almost deathly afraid to engage me in conversation and, throughout the painfully wrought interaction, seemed reluctant to talk about this mutual interest that we shared. After our brief chat I left him alone and shortly afterwards, Wayne showed up and went up to set up. Jeff followed him up to help and told us things would be ready in five. After the time elapsed we went up and my pulls were waiting for me in a neat little pile. Blah, blah, blah. To be fair to the other guy, he was just randomly asked about which comics he likes by a random bearded stranger at 10 in the morning so I can understand his initial reluctance. Moreover, he could have suffered from some social anxiety/disorder, but for whatever reason, he still tolerated my talking to him so I give him props for that.

The Ugly

Recently, I've been hitting up the commuter lounge, a new lounge that caters to commuter students (shocking I know, given the name). Strangely enough, there always seems to be a buzz of nerdy/geeky activity here: some people are always playing Magic, doing PC gaming (a lot of WoW fans and virtual chess) , discussing episodes of MythBusters, and the like. On this particular occasion, I was scoping out a spot to set up my laptop when I noticed a guy reading comics that were very 90s looking. I set my stuff down and asked him what he was reading (you'd think I'd have been discouraged from doing this by now) and he held up a cover to show me. I asked him if they were 90s and he said, "I think so" or something like that. I asked him another question or two but he seemed irritated that I was bothering him. I can appreciate that, truly, I can. Although he seemed reluctant to talk from the beginning he had a slightly rude air about him towards the end of our chat. Interestingly enough, later on that same day I was playing Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines and a guy walked up behind me and commented on how he'd never seen anyone else playing that game. I took out my ear-buds and had a pleasant, albeit short, conversation with him about it and afterwards he continued walking over to his friends, one of which interjected a comment during our talk. It was neat to connect with a random person over a shared interest

The point of this whole rant-ish entry is to stress how much I hate comic book nerd stereotype as being: shy, reclusive, social awkward, pale, etc. but this guy just screamed socially awkward and that really infuriated me. I though, don't make us look like that! However, the point remains that I still hate negative incarnations of comic book nerds as I'm very proud of my community of readers. (This may very well sound elitist and that too, I despise) We geeks/nerds or whatever have to stick together and support each other, not shrink away from social interactions. Everyone has a potentially interesting and informative perspective on things and it's always awesome to see/hear them and thus expand our experience, knowledge, and perspective as well. What do you all think? Any thoughts and input are appreciated.

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