Okay, here’s the situation…
It’s going on 3 AM right now, barely Friday, and I’m looking forward to having the whole day off, after climbing out of bed in a few hours. Usually, this is how things work with me, most of the writing done in the middle of the night, just the laptop and the wireless headphones connected to the stereo across the room. Ignoring all that, found out that my cable Internet will probably be down for about a day, leaving me without the most reliable of procrastination devices. Starts off innocently sure, most times just checkin’ the E-mail real quick, but add in the dozen or so sites on the morning hit list, and a little application called Instant Messenger, and you got a good recipe for some missing time.
So, I’m takin’ advantage of this admittedly slight misfortune, by devoting the entire day to “the cause,” and because it might prove interesting, bringing the column along for the ride. There is a chance the late hour has gotten the better of me, but right now I’m thinkin’ of spending the whole day working on a bunch of different projects, stopping every four hours for a series of quick updates, that might turn into a real column. What I’ve written, what’s playin’ in the background, and probably more than a couple times, what’s distracting me from the work. A full day In The Lab, so to speak, living up to that promise I made recently of more “contact.” Sounds like a cool idea anyway, but I might change my mind by the time I get up in the morning.
See you then, I suppose…
Got up this morning, to find my ‘net connection was back to normal, but still loved this idea for a “stunt” column, so decided just to treat the day as an exercise in discipline. Notebook is filled with things in various stages, and most of it should get hit in the next 12 hours, with the biggest potential problem being Game 3 of the White Sox/Red Sox series, kicking off at 3. Chicago sports teams are notorious for being chronic underachievers, but the team’s league best record and late season resurgence has got people thinkin’ they might be for real. I mean, to me it’s obvious, but it’s takes longer for things to sink in for some people. Anyway, that’s gonna knock out a few hours, but there’s no way around it, could be another 20 years before the team sees the postseason again, so I’m figuring on a low intensity writing assignment, that I can handle while watching the game. More on that in a bit.
Right now, I’m warming things up, by actually reading a couple comics. Helps to get me in the correct state of mind, and “grafts” me to a very specific art style, in this case, the work of Doug Mahnke, seeing that I’ve been going through Joe Kelly’s recent run on JLA. Don’t know what the overall consensus was, but I loved a lot of what Kelly brought during his tenure, and though the book will always somehow exist in the long shadow of Grant Morrison, what little the stories lacked in big ideas, was shored up by the extremely smart characterization. The last arc “Trial By Fire” was the definite highlight, and is the trade I’m working through now. But it’s going on noon, any page of script I’m imagining looks like Mahnke’s artwork, so it’s time to get started. Back in a few hours…
Reflection Eternal “Train of Thought”
Barring unforeseen disaster, the pencils for the first issue of The God Complex should be completed very soon, which made it time to look over the second script and make a few last second changes. Lot of you know this project has been developing, in one form or another, for a couple years now, meaning that every aspect of it has undergone heavy, heavy revision, and this is no exception. The more I look at it, the more I see, whether it’s dialogue that can be pared down, pacing that could be tightened up, overall execution that stands improving. The creator-owned tag places more responsibility on my shoulders, so I approach things with extra care here, specially given the more “flexible” schedule.
Main concerns with the second issue are similar to ones that hit me on the first. It’s a very unique challenge to build a world, in structured increments, and there’s much more to consider than simply telling the actual story. You’ve got that of course, but the concepts and the characters are somewhat alien, even though you’re trying to introduce them in a way that’s easy to digest, yet compelling. Ideally, both plot and character are advancing with every scene, and that’s the question I’m trying to answer with each page. If it’s not doing that, it’s gettin’ changed, and since I branded this chapter the “Damon issue,” where the first was the “Cross issue,” I can’t just throw Damon out of a building to get your attention. Here, I’ve gotta use his girlfriend Kara, and what I hope is a very honest relationship with her, to bring you into the story. My intent is to make this book emotionally accessible to anyone that’s ever been in a relationship.
With that impossible goal in mind, setting up the relationship stuff is just as important as the action choreography, possibly even more so, given the series’ billing. Like the action, it’s all about the situation, and one thing I’m very conscious of, is making sure that we don’t always catch Damon & Kara in the middle of some stereotypical “date” situation. Every time we see Kara, her and Damon shouldn’t be out to dinner or some other intentionally staged setting. It’s the little moments I want to focus on, watching TV together, getting ready for work in the morning, things like that, where we can showcase the level of familiarity these two people have with each other. Hard to display that in comics, because the storytelling has to be really good, to accurately depict body language, so I make sure my part is done, by laying things out correctly, and using the dialogue so it bounces the way it should, between two people that’ve spent a good deal of the last six months, in each other’s personal space. Think that really comes through, but just in case, while scanning it, I tweaked some things here and there, while making note of a few places to return to on the next pass. Still like most of it, which is unusual, given how long ago the original draft was written.
Between looks, I made another small set of notes for Post Con Marvel Pitch 5, which I told myself I wouldn’t do this week. Couple recent events suggest that my attention is better spent on prepping the creator-owned material, but some of the character designs for Marvel Pitch 4 came through earlier this week, and re-sparked my obsession with pitching to the House. This was the one I referred to last week as the “grenade,” and seeing a couple visuals set me off again, so we’ll see how it all goes. The worst possible feeling for me is that I’m bashing my head into a brick wall, for no apparent reason, and while a LOT of the last couple years have been riddled with these kinds of moments, it hasn’t gotten any less frustrating. Only the pretty pictures have me staring down the wall again, and filling out the notes on other uninvolved pitches.
Then the Sox game came on, and everything slowed down a little…
Watching the Sox sweep Boston was a good time, and maybe now, people know these boys are the real deal, and THE team to beat in the playoffs. Game ran a bit long, and all I could manage was some “framing” for the first Miranda Mercury script. One of the few things I can actually do pretty effectively with my attention on something else, this is my little buzzword for figuring out the exact panel layout of a page I’ve already drafted the dialogue for. Nothing too detailed, just major actions and images that I’ll clean up when I merge the two pieces.
Intentionally skipped a small sequence in the pages I ran through, because I know it’ll be an absolute monster to plan, and an even bigger one to draw. Keep putting insane things into this script, as my artist made the mistake of asking to be continuously challenged, so I’m trying to not only push him, but the storytelling in general, along a few different directions. That’s the story I’m sticking to anyway, when he asks me if I’m really serious about calling for 46 panels, spread across pages 18 & 19. In order to do it, I’m going to have to write a “key” for the damn thing, which is a personal first. It’s gonna be dope as hell though, and to keep from messing it up, it’ll be the last thing locked down.
Finished a batch of pages, ate dinner, and got ready for the sun to fall, which like I said before, is when the majority of my writing usually gets handled.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Soundtrack
9th Wonder “Mr. Dream Merchant Vol. 1”
Decided to head down to my school’s homecoming tomorrow, which means hitting the bed a little earlier than normal, and making it really important to get in a real good session. More Miranda was the main goal, but this time I worked on the final scripting, merging some of those scattered notes from above. This is her first full story, so the process is a tad more involved, because all of these things I’m describing are completely new to the artist. It’s not enough to just write, “Jack Warning triggers his wrist projected laptop, and begins typing away.”
Despite that, a nice chunk of pages gets into the file, and most of the time was spent carving at the dialogue, which hopefully builds the partnership between Miranda and her teen sidekick Jack Warning into a living thing. Always use my own friendships as the point of reference for exchanges like the one I worked on, a banter that implies a somewhat complicated history, with the little language ticks and inside jokes that only a real friend can ever truly understand. There’s a certain distance I want conveyed, making the partnership both welcoming and off-putting, us walking into the middle of a train of thought developed by two people that have seen and done incredible things together. Don’t want everything just sitting there on the surface, connect the dots characterization, but I do want you insanely curious about what impossible thing they’re going to do next, so there’s the main challenge.
In the quick breaks from Ms. Mercury, I dumped more little ideas into the sections of the notebook holding the comments for the fourth Marvel pitch, and the proposal for the crime OGN. It’s a little free association in that I want to get every single idea down on paper, and when it comes time to craft the actual pitch, sift through it, decide what’s crap, and lay the rest down. This might extend to story outlines, pieces of dialogue, marketing schemes and taglines, which seem to be taking on an increased prominence, the more “mature” my approach becomes. Sometimes, boiling a high concept down to a couple words, or a loaded phrase that could run along the bottom of a poster, is as relevant as the actual story. The “grenade” pitch will come fully loaded, with ways of really causing the Internet to break in half, along with the promo art that just inspires more than a few questions. But I want to work that one this upcoming week, and begin sculpting it, cause there’s more than enough here to build a decent foundation.
The crime thing I can say with confidence is going along a storytelling path that I’ve never seen in historical crime fiction. There’s a very personal thread attached to it now, that does make it really unique, but more than a bit weird, and right now, I’m working the mechanics to prove to myself it could really work. Might have to script out the opening sequence just to be sure, but the window is very open, so if it’s good to go by the end of the month, I’m cool. Scared of it initially, but if I can score it, will show some definite versatility, especially with the POV to consider.
Altogether, not a bad day of work, even with several hours lost to the Sox game, and I’m making real progress on all of the big projects I want wrapped up by month’s end. More as it develops of course, and hope you all found this whole thing at least moderately interesting. Only got four comics last week, and though all were solid, none really “hit” me enough to score “book of the week” honors, but sure that won’t be the case next time. The new hotness is seldom long denied…