It’s that time again.

With the year careening toward its conclusion, the necessity of performing a yearly audit of expenditures has presented itself. The calendar has triggered thoughts of the near future, as a blueprint approaches in earnest to correct the errors of 2002. For those progressive (or naïve) enough to begin anew, the possibility of change sparks at one’s fingertips, wishing to be realized. It doesn’t have to happen like it did last year. It could all be different, or at the very least, a bit more enjoyable. In the interest of preserving some manner of tradition, this installment will be utilized for the popular ritual of adopting a rigorous (and possibly unreasonable) list of resolutions for 2003. Come along for a brief taste of the upcoming, and hope I don’t reveal too much personal information the process.


Improve One’s Physicality:

This is an easy one. Along with the rest of mankind, the first item on the list involves a recommitment to getting in shape. Considering that, to be honest, I’m roughly ten pounds heavier than I should be, and with a minimal amount of attention this could be rectified, every season I’m forced to make the “promise” to myself. Why should ’03 be any different?

I’ve developed the unhelpful habit of becoming a dedicated denizen of the local gym for several months at a time, then abandoning the regimen right around the period when you actually begin witnessing results…which makes no sense. Months will pass, effectively erasing all accomplishments, and then I’ll return, only to trigger the vicious cycle. One time I’m going to get all of this right, and bet money on 2003 being the year. Effectively severing (or at least controlling) my attachment to fast food, which is death served in a value meal increment, would also be helpful. The initial deadline for my physical transformation is con season.

Intending to drop into San Diego, along with the habitual voyage to Chicago, with a possible stop in the UK sometime during late May, I plan to be one of the sexiest bastards in attendance. The convention scene has become much more interesting since this regular soapbox of mine hit, providing more intimate access to the industry and the talented individuals offering the graphic literature of a new millennium. It’ll be cool to meet some of the people I’ve been keeping e-mail correspondence with these past months, and any excuse that provides hollow incentive for visiting the gym is welcome. We’ll see how things progress.

Widen the Hairline Fracture:

Also making a return engagement is the intent to lay waste to the wall separating myself from the elusive distinction of comic book writer. Every year I hope to be just a little closer to the final goal, and in 2003, I’m aiming at publication. The specific venue isn’t a strong concern, but, like this column, I refuse to be more than slightly embarrassed at anything bearing my name. Slightly comes from the familiar writer’s neurosis that settles into the back of the brain whenever it becomes time to begin again, and the possibility of failure remains within close reach.

It’s come to the point where every opportunity is considered a relevant section of the final blueprint. Consider that this time last year I was preparing to pitch for the Captain America: Red, White, and Blue project, and only 360 odd days later, I’m loading up for a crack at…hmm…well, that would be telling wouldn’t it? Let’s just say that my holiday included serious considerations toward exciting possibilities for the upcoming year. The ideas are beginning to settle comfortably within Ideaspace and very soon they will be ready. Watch this space. It may be time.

Get Good and Intoxicated:

This is a continuation from the last section, but I’m looking to shed my status as a statistical anomaly. Discounting a small drink at last year’s birthday outing, I’ve yet to consume any amount of alcohol that would register as…shit…anything really. Four years of college and not a drop of alcohol. The dry spell has raged for such an extensive period of time that breaking it should inspire some manner of celebration. Or perhaps I’m being overly dramatic again, which is a definite possibility. Regardless, I promised my roommates that upon cashing the check for my first story, I will engage in the act of getting sufficiently tossed. Could be fun, especially considering what the occasion will signal. Begin pestering your editors immediately. Be a catalyst for the corruption of youth. Complete the circle.

Perform More Effective Interviews:

Logged a few interviews for the archives, and gazing back on them…I think I dislike all of them. No fault on the subjects of course, ranging from retailer Brian Hibbs to controversial creator Rob Liefeld, but some of the questions ring decidedly ‘typical’ on repeated glance, and you all know how we despise ‘typical’ around here. No one’s complained quite yet, but my disappointment is palpable as I realize that an interview is only as relevant as the questions posed. Doing these things by e-mail also proves problematic, as I would prefer that the exchange read like more of a casual conversation than an index of responses holding absolutely no rhythm.

Look for an improvement in the facets constructing my interview technique very soon, as I believe Gail Simone is scheduled for a stint under the lights, the Rex Mundi boys are coming back, and a few other surprises. Over the next few months, I’ll be paying close attention to the New Hotness archives, intending to interview the creator who’s received the most cover scans.

And sooner or later, Simon (The Monkey House) and I are going to get around to our public debate on the merits (if there are any) of the superhero archetype and its stranglehold on the industry.

Broaden Horizons:

Successfully digested several works of graphic literature, which for one reason or several, eluded me up to this point. I’d like to see this trend continue as the bookshelf swells to an unmanageable size, littered with material waiting to be read. More graphic novels, more novels, more history, more science.

From a writing point of view, I want Ambidextrous to continue to grow in scope and complexity with better features, better interviews, even more New Hotness, and more creators visiting the friendly confines. If I’m able to provide commentary on actual scripts that I’m working on…all the better. I’m also intending to focus on more story notions that are impossible or inappropriate to graft onto the realm of superheroics, in addition to the colorful spandex that peppers the consciousness. Tried it at work the other day while walking the floor in a concentric circle and came home with 9 Months, Confessions, and something that comments on the inane nature of reality television, which is attempting to marry itself to a mainstream superhero concept at the moment. We’ll see.

Only one last thing…

Do More Good:

Another general vow that often repeats itself. Applies to everything and nothing in particular at the same time. Self-explanatory, so I won’t explain it.

That should be more than enough to keep me occupied throughout the year. Perhaps around June, I’ll pen an article that comments on the status of the preceding goals. I almost feel foolish in reiterating this, but…if there was any remaining doubt…

It’s not a game…not anymore.

Next year, I’ll prove it to you…

The New Hotness:

Ultimate War #2 (Mark Millar/Chris Bachalo/Tim Townsend)

Two issues in, and the respective squads haven’t squared up quite yet. Yet why does this register as a confident entry into the New Hotness archives? Because of style son…because of style. Beneath the striking cover image lies the realization that Millar and company are making us work for this eventual confrontation. While taking the tension and anticipation to its utmost point, Millar delivers a collection of scenes bolstered by the typical strong characterization and sharp dialogue that we’ve come to expect. Then all hell breaks loose and Bachalo stretches his storytelling muscles for a chilling encounter with Magneto that tramples any doubt that this crossover will be some forgettable bullshit affair.


CAP: Look at me Magneto! Look into my eyes!


CAP: Because I want you to see how serious I am when I say I’m going to break every bone in your body for this.

MAGNETO: We’ll see.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen V. 2 #4 (Alan Moore/Kevin O’Neill)

A while back, I found myself in serious trouble by admitting to a friend that I wasn’t quite immersed in the work of Alan Moore. The past few months have played witness to a Moore crash course unlike any other. Sooner or later I’ll get around to writing the column that declares Alan Moore a veritable deity to the art of writing comics, but until then…settle for his first entry into the New Hotness. I doubt that at this late point, anyone is beginning to follow this series, but just for the sake of argument, the League has been backed into a corner by their Martian adversaries, and the team is attempting to locate the upper hand by seeking out another character from popular literature. London is burning, and the League’s personalities are clashing, making for a series of highly effective scenes that I refuse to spoil. O’Neill contributes his delicate eye to the art chores and inspires a proper atmosphere for Moore’s excellent scripting. So read the thing already.


HYDE: I know what children look like, Nemo. I’ve often scraped them off my boots.

The Annotated Mantooth! (Matt Fraction/Andy Kuhn/Tim Fisher)

I usually hate shit with monkeys in it. Especially when they talk. It’s a comic cliché that I often have no use for, and will dismiss without much thought. But Mantooth is different. Matt Fraction has spun the typical on its ass, and crafted a tale that succeeds where many comics fail…the shit is actually funny. Rex Mantooth is a simian super agent with a hot sidekick, a foul mouth, and freakish villains. The scripts are littered with laugh out loud moments, but the stories themselves are nearly overshadowed by the excellent presentation in this collected edition. This has to be one of the coolest trades on my shelf at the moment, bringing not only three complete stories, but the original scripts by Fraction, shown side by side with their resultant art, and peppered with comments and in-jokes from the writer. For process junkies, welcome to nirvana. Warren Ellis, Joe Casey, and Greg Rucka contribute forewords, and Larry Young closes the package with an afterword. Fraction is one of comics’ rising stars, and Mantooth offers his talent on the ground floor. And don’t miss his Poplife column at CBR either, which is slightly similar to this one…except Matt is actually working in comics already. Check him out.


So many that I can’t choose. Just buy it.

That’s enough. See you people next year…


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