Look, I’m as surprised as you…

When I started this, I was 21, about to enter my senior year of college, and planning my first trip to the San Diego Comic-Con. By no stretch of the imagination did I ever see myself writing a couple hundred columns, and it’s a bit strange that the index doubles as a very accurate record of my last four years. Always told myself that I should be keeping some kind of running journal, and that’s really what Ambidextrous has become. The overall background has changed, the circumstances vary slightly from month to month, and while I’m notorious for refusing to give myself any level of credit, I’m pretty proud of this little spot I’ve created. Seen a lot of columns come and go on the ‘net, and it’s been a pleasure to stick around long enough to find my own distinct voice, and learn more than a few valuable lessons about the actual craft of writing.

Was intending to make a bigger deal out of this, but decided that ain’t really my style. I’m still here, simply because I’m not finished, and who knows how long it’ll be until that changes, but I know that it’s silly to lodge a prediction, cause I thought I’d only last six months in the first place. Special thanks to editor supreme Craig Johnson for having my back, and posting all those early columns he wasn’t quite sure about (including the first) while I was finding my way. Jason Brice for giving me the opportunity to begin with. And you guys for reading it, because without this outlet, not just my life in comics, but my life period would be far different. What comes next wouldn’t be possible without the support. Much appreciated.

Back to business, I’ve got the book of the week, and an extended In The Lab section for this installment, proving that despite the nicely rounded numbers, the saga continues…

Thanks again.

“I get paid to be a pessimist, soldier, and me believing in Santa Claus just cost my friend and his family their lives.”

Ultimates2 #8 (Mark Millar/Bryan Hitch/Paul Neary)

Well, how about that? Awhile back, I expressed my continued enjoyment of this title, even though the characters were seeming to turn a corner that made them somewhat unlikable. Think I referred to them as “storm troopers” or something like that, willing participants in the government machine that despite what we’re told, never appears to be looking out for our best interests. Most of that sentiment was reserved for Captain America, after his quick betrayal of former teammate Thor, who I still believe was the only dude with his head on straight about the true nature of the team. But that whole situation had me thinking that Cap was due for some major consequences, namely being beat in the face repeatedly with large fists. Well that actually happens this issue, and man, do I feel sorry for the poor guy…

His girl is creeping with her abusive ex-husband, the only friends he knows are dead and gone, and to make everything much worse, he’s been framed for murdering Hawkeye’s family. Meaning the most dangerous man in the world, Nick Fury, wants him taken down, because Hawkeye was his boy from way back. The idea of Cap has never been one that’s connected with me, for whatever reason, but here somethin’ is different. Maybe I’m just sympathizing with him, because of the lying girlfriend, but I knew that me feelin’ bad for him was likely a red flag. In addition to the gorgeous artwork from Hitch, who is apparently determined to top himself with each and every issue, this story is just drenched in emotion, whether it’s Cap’s crushing loneliness, or Fury’s anger over his friend’s murder, there’s a lot going on, and it’s all substantial. After this, it’d be safe to say I have absolutely NO idea where this is all heading.

And really…how cool is that?

Check it out, and now brace yourself for a meaty In The Lab section…

In The Lab-

Post-Con Marvel Pitch 3 went in late last week, along with a really dope piece of promo art, that I’m hoping will bolster its chances. Haven’t sent in THAT many pitches with accompanying artwork, so I don’t know if it really does help, but I’m a man of presentation, and hell, I figure it can’t hurt. Art is still easier to look at than my Word documents, and whatever gets the job done. The pitch itself throws two of Marvel’s toughest characters together, connecting them through a supporting cast member, and rolls them into one of those grand adventures the kids are so fond of. Then for good measure, it twists back, and turns that supporting character into a potential major player in the Marvel Universe, by casting her as the sidekick of one of the book’s headliners. I know, I know, that’s not nearly cryptic enough, right? But on the real, trust me when I say it’d be an incredibly cool little mini-series, and it’d be just the thing to return one of Marvel’s more “mainstream” properties to the forefront. And the original idea wasn’t even mine, that distinction belongs to the very talented artist who delivered the promo piece.

Pitches 4 & 5 are just scattered notes at this point, but most of the missing elements are in my head, so it won’t take long to whip these into good shape. 4 should be hitting with another piece of art, but 5 is going in naked, since I don’t have a specific artist in mind, and there isn’t a very strong visual component that needs to be instantly presented. 4 is all about the look, and without it, the book is just like everything else, but with it…man, it’s gonna be like lobbing a grenade into editorial. Seriously.

The first Miranda Mercury script is still moving from the notebook to the word processor, and now I’ve reached the point where everything goes “dialogue-only,” so I’m breaking it into panels, framing the words, and fitting it all together. I’m at a place in the process where it all looks very clever, which’ll stop when I’m about 3 pages from finishing, and I decide it actually sucks pretty badly. But since I’ve done so much already, it won’t make sense not to wrap it up. Then I’ll grumble, and send it off to the artist, who’ll probably love it, and ease only some of the crushing disappointment, from being perpetually dissatisfied with my work. Hey, hey, don’t give me that look–I am a writer, remember? It’s fairly obvious there’s something wrong with me.

Two other things are circling, both completely unexpected, but very cool in their own right. First is something that will take my very obvious appreciation of music, and graft it in a very interesting way, to my appreciation for comics. Not just words and pictures, cause that’s old news. We’re talking about words, pictures, and sounds, the new beautiful blend. Probably a little far off schedule-wise, but it’s not too early to be thinkin’ about next summer, which is when this becomes real. Other opportunity doesn’t even have a completed proposal yet, but is a standing invite to pitch for an OGN, in a genre I haven’t tried before, partly because of how daunting it looks from far away. Crime fiction has always looked somewhat impenetrable, so I’ve got much respect for the people that can really make it work. Took some thought, but I think I’ve found an angle that provides a decent “in,” and allows for a somewhat modern viewpoint to be placed on the material. It’s set in the thirties, and the research is starting to arrive, so after hittin’ that, the notes will get filled out. Have a few weeks to wrap the final pitch, and because of what it is, I’ll take the extra time to make it real solid.

As always, more as it develops…

Background Noise-

Common- One Day It’ll All Make Sense
“Saying Klarion is my least favorite Soldier, is about the same as saying that One Day It’ll All Make Sense, is my least favorite Common album.”

The preceding comment from a couple weeks back, didn’t sit very well with my best friend, and after spending a few days straight with the album on repeat, I no longer remember what the hell I was even talking about. Don’t know what actually is my least favorite Common album, but it damn sure ain’t this one. Temporary insanity, quickly corrected, and rightfully so. “Inhale imagination and breathe wonder…”

Little Brother- The Minstrel Show
Haven’t felt the need to give this one a break quite yet. Think it’s improving with every listen, which is always the sign of an excellent album. If there’s any justice, Little Brother will be the next big thing in hip-hop, and this is another great step, holding a mirror up to the current state of the art form, even if some folks don’t care to acknowledge what is being reflected back.

Alias- Season 3
Finally got to this after about a year on the shelf, and though it lacks some of the explosive cliffhangers that punctuate the first 2 seasons, it’s a really strong batch of episodes. Also offers more evidence that even the most outlandish plots can work, if verbalized and executed by strong characters. Jennifer Garner reminds me of Kiefer Sutherland in 24 at times, where her presence is just enough to keep the entire thing from coming apart. Which it threatens to do several times a season…

Batman: The Animated Series- Vol. 3
What even needs to be said here? Quite simply the best comic-based animated program ever. Took the WB some time to wise up, and start releasing these on DVD, but right now, it’s all to the good. One of the most important interpretations of the Dark Knight stands preserved, and considering that “cartoons” often show their age, the ease at which this show maintains its incredibly high standard is surprising. It shouldn’t be, because every single element (writing, animation, music, etc.) was top notch to begin with, but aren’t these things supposed to be somewhat dated by now?

Probably shouldn’t make this promise, but I want to go weekly again, even if it’s just for a little while. Bi-weekly bothers me just as much as it did when I first scaled things back, so we’ll see how it shapes up. If Marvel jumps on that third pitch though, forget I ever said anything. Ya’ll take it easy, and I’ll be back soon, with my first step toward 300 columns, if you can believe that…



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