That strange genetic quirk that creates things has been misbehaving again.
Forgive me if I become slightly philosophical this week as I come down from my comprehensive rant. To you fine folks, I’ve been on a structured bitch session for three solid weeks, when in actuality, a great portion of the affair was written in the span of eight days, stealing time from the new job. Point being…I’m a monster lately and I can only hope that this sudden burst of productivity lasts a little longer.
This is being written three weeks early, and ask the editor…that’s never happened before. Perhaps it’s the new time slot or something in the air, but the ideas are coalescing in rapid succession, driving me to lead the pen through the notebook before bed, then waking and continuing where I left off, and it’s a beautiful sensation.
The entire process is largely organic, triggered by, well, by everything. A great majority of “writing” never occurs at the keyboard. It happens in the shower. The car. On the back of music. From unexpected conversations. If you’re conscious, you only need a catalyst and everything you touch and breathe is fighting over itself to set you off. Writing is the line from the monologue of Mission Impossible 2 becoming Utopia, the story of the world’s greatest hero realizing that humanity could only be saved by creating new villains to fight. Or the trip to a local health clinic (class trip I swear) that turned into a germ of an idea involving ‘powers’ being transferred as a highly contagious STD that was progressively evolving mankind. These things spark and flare brightly for several days, random scenes colliding with strands of dialogue and cover arrangements, until some other glittering notion takes its place.
And I’m going to risk ruining it all by attempting to describe it, using the past week as an example.
I’m in the middle of a marathon writing session, flames are spinning out of the pen (if possible, I prefer to draft things by hand, as I’m doing now) and forming The Blueprint. The whole thing is coming at once (an unusual occurrence) and with a frightening speed effectively putting me far ahead of my deadlines. (Which relaxes me personally and probably makes for better pieces.) So The Blueprint is writing itself on scattered sheets of loose-leaf paper, and I’m finding myself in an increasingly pleasant mood (new jobs can do that for you, Barnes and Noble for those interested, King of Fiction). Anyway, the ideas are coming hard and fast, triggering the brief period of delusion necessary to deliver somehow inspired work that no one will ever see.
Onus, the pitch for Oni Press, continues to congeal with not a caped critter in sight, instead relying on largely supernatural elements with religious allegory thrown in for good measure. Ignore the possession aspects and the conversations with God and Onus is about friendship. The scenes are looking clearer, so I’m thinking of sitting down and hammering out the beats more concretely and working on the final script in the next few days.
Likely triggered by Millar’s recent interview on Newsarama, I’ve had Ultimate X-Men on the brain too. Something about Cyclops and Jean limping through an underground tunnel, the only X-Men still alive, until encountering the obligatory dark figure. Scott’s muscles tense, unsure if he’ll be able to murder the traitor barring his path. Flashback seven days when the government institutes a set of modern-day Jim Crow laws aimed at the societal outcasts with the fancy genes. The outcome is sudden life changes and dead X-Men, which I can do because no one is ever going to see it.
Around this time, Dark Horse announces that they’ve secured the licenses for Reign of Fire and xXx. I roll my eyes at the announcement, wondering what poor bastard is going to commit career suicide by writing those things. Hmm. Perhaps they need someone without a career to damage? Within minutes the Story Engine was working with one objective in mind…what could make the comic adaptations of these summer popcorn flicks better than their respective movies?
Reign of Fire I didn’t see but watched enough trailers to get a basic grasp of the plot, which instinctively spun into a prologue story touching on the beginnings of the alpha male played by Matthew McConaughey. A character arc was imagined that transported this heroic cut-out to a time when he didn’t care about saving the world from giant dragons. A time when he found out the world was ending and all he wanted to do was have sex, because…hell, what else should you be doing while civilization crumbles around you? Then the funniest thing happens…mankind survives. This is how ambivalence turned into ambition. I had wild ideas of Tim Bradstreet on covers, but kept changing my mind about interiors, Darick Robertson probably.
But alas…Randy Stradley from Dark Horse is writing the series. I checked.
With xXx, my notion was highly influenced by the admission that casting an extreme sports rule-breaking hard-ass as a secret government agent makes a considerable bend on the rules of logic, so I stormed a back story to connect the dots. Thing is…Agent xXx wasn’t recruited from relative ambivalence like the movie suggests…he just went back to work. Before the tattoos and the attitude, Xander Cage was Damon Noble, until a terrorist with a grudge murdered his entire unit and re-wrote his brain into something more manageable. Where do you think Sam Jack got that nasty facial scar he’s sporting in the movie? Mix amnesia, sudden deaths, and J.G. Jones on widescreen covers and the makings of a compelling spy yarn are there.
Don’t know who’s writing this one, but I’m looking into it.
On top of all this I began to have dangerous thoughts about that Spider-Girl title.
The catch to my little “twitch” is that it never quite shuts down, making my existence potentially more dramatic than it needs to be. Have you ever met anyone that always suggests (or at the very least ponders) the worst-case scenario for nearly ever situation that occurs?
I’m that guy.
Something as harmless as a tardy phone call from a friend elicits some dramatic and ultimately unnecessary psychodrama that my mind builds a story around. It’s entirely neurotic and entirely irritating. I’m taking years off my life worrying about every potential ramification of life being what it is, because I’m always imagining what can make it worse.
Being a perfectionist doesn’t help matters, a subject skillfully commented on by Simon in his Monkey House column several weeks ago. Realizing that you’ll never be completely satisfied with anything put to paper is tough, sometimes preventing you from even starting. It’s why I seldom read these things after they’re posted, as I’ll reflexively dissect them into nothingness, disappointed at the permanence of an index.
The blinding fear that kicks me in the stomach before sitting in front of the keyboard has almost become welcome. It threatens that the words won’t flow correctly and the end result will suck for all eternity. The feeling persists until my hands find purchase on the keyboard, establishing a rhythm that becomes relaxing. When I stop being afraid then it’s time to hang up the pen, because that will signal that I no longer fear sucking. That I’m not afraid to fail. A little fear should go a long way.
And have you any idea how many times I’ve imagined getting ‘The Call’? For every pitch I send another possible path for destiny unfolds in the Engine. And the funny thing is that ‘the call’ will never occur until I stop waiting for the other shoe to drop.
But who am I kidding…this shit is just too cool for words. I read an interview recently that posed a question to a prominent writer of what his favorite sound was. I thought about it, after dismissing my initial answer that involved a woman’s passionate moan and sat for a minute. I realized what the answer was this morning. This is best experienced in a library or a computer lab, as the effect isn’t as forceful with a limited number of terminals or an excessive amount of background noise.
Before walking into the space, stop and listen. Really listen. You hear that? Dozens of fingers passionately tapping at keys, accomplishing all sorts of excitement, and then you realize, because it’s just hit you…this is the sound of things being created.
This is my second favorite sound… I’m hearing it now…
The New Hotness- The Books You Should’ve Read Last Week:
Daredevil #36 (Brain Michael Bendis/Alex Maleev)
There’s a very logical explanation for Bendis receiving the Best Writer distinction from nearly every panel imaginable. To put it quite simply…the man isn’t playin’ fuckin’ games. The name Bendis means quality work nine times out of ten. It means phenomenal dialogue (cause nobody does it like him), intelligent plotting, and a style that makes it appear all so easy. And for the last several months he’s been turning Daredevil’s life into a terrible nightmare. Will a superhero lie to cover his own ass? I’m not spoiling it for you, but the effects rippling throughout Murdock’s supporting cast continue as everyone weighs in with their personal two cents, and the blind man with the heightened senses pursues a path that lives up to his nick-name.
Automatic Kafka #2 (Joe Casey/Ashley Wood)
It has become official…I love Automatic Kafka. From the frighteningly attractive cover design to the sarcastic/cocky closing remarks, this is Casey representing superheroes in a mature fashion. The first issue was a stream of consciousness acid trip that waded out the fans unwilling to concentrate on their comic books. Book two sees former superhero The Warning interrogated by the National Park Service (government stiffs) and Casey delivers some of the best conversational dialogue he’s ever written in a seamless, kinetic interaction that provides a brief yet wholly intriguing history lesson on the group known as the $trangers. The NPS wants the android known as Kafka, but the title character is too busy doing drugs to notice. And someone drops an exploding baby on Iraq. Welcome to $trange Comics.
Ultimate X-Men #21 (Mark Millar/Adam Kubert)
This is why the Ultimate line exists. For those paying attention, Millar’s initial story arcs merely served as an accessible prelude to the splashy twenty-first century depiction of mutant ethics and responsibilities. On the surface, we’ve got Kitty Pryde learning there’s nothing cool about intangibility and going on a tour of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Beneath the waves, Millar is presenting a fresh modernistic viewpoint on being feared and hated. Charles Xavier has an e-mail address at which concerned parents can reach him, there’s a telepathic illusion covering the school, Wolverine and Colossus are helping police crack a drug ring, Cyclops and Storm are working undercover at a high school, and the Brotherhood of Mutants has called a ceasefire. The days of the X-Men merely existing to beat down costumed adversaries is over, replaced by Xavier being sued by Iceman’s parents, and actually teaching his young charges to use their abilities to make the world better. And oh yeah, Jean has a violent seizure and nearly bites through her tongue. Did I mention that this issue also begins the Phoenix Saga…Ultimate style?