February 27, 2014
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December 20, 2013
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Here are the most best things I wrote this past year. I think this averages out to one great piece per week. I am pleased by this.
A look at the musical MARY POPPINS and P.L. Travers’ original books (done in Feb., before SAVING MR. BANKS came out)
LOCAL NORTH CAROLINA ARTS
COMICS I WROTE:
MISC. ESSAYS/ORIGINAL COMPILATION POSTS
November 21, 2013
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The conclusion to my ADVENTURE TIME story with artist Brad McGinty, “Grocery Time,” is out in stores this week in ADVENTURE TIME #22!
You can buy an e-copy on ComiXology here.
To answer two possible questions:
1) Yes, Part One ran two months ago in issue #20. No, I don’t know why it didn’t run on consecutive months. The story WAS finished when we turned it in, but there are a limited number of pages for backups and it can be very tricky to figure out how to use the space. I appreciate KaBOOM! letting us do this story and have no ill will over this.
2) No, I probably won’t be doing more AT stories in the future. KaBOOM! has made it clear they have a large number of writers and artists doing such tales and don’t have room for more material at this time. I have some more pitches to them being considered by Cartoon Network for approval, but it could be a while before there’s room for any of them. Again, it was a great opportunity and I have no bad feelings — it’s just how the business works.
Additionally, Brad McGinty ALSO has a story in REGULAR SHOW #6, which is out today. He is a brilliant, brilliant artist and we’re working on a creator-owned miniseries pitch for another publisher. At this point, I’m trying to deliver a polished full script for the first issue along with a full miniseries pitch, and Brad’s finishing up a few other projects before doing character designs, so it’s going to be a while before it can even be CONSIDERED for publication. But I truly hope to get this or another project together, not just for the career boost (no shame in my game), but for the excitement of seeing my weird ideas being brought to con’sid’ra’ble life by Brad’s Brobdingnaggian talents (look it up, I was tired of saying “Herculean”).
A few notes on the story, though this is more of a “What NOT to do” when writing a script.
1) Out of all the pitches I sent KaBOOM!/Cartoon Network, this was the one they took, and once I sat down to write it, I realized I’d hosed myself, as I had to introduce new characters, new settings, a plot with a beginning/middle/end AND an action sequence in a mere seven pages (they gave me eight, bless them). So is this story rushed, and did I take a few shortcuts? You bet your bippy I did.
2) So first, it was great fun writing the fight sequence. Fight/action scenes are just about trying to find unique ways for the characters to act and react, and Brad did a very fun job pitting Billy against the Ham-Pire. I had fun thinking of things the Ham-Pire could do, but I wish I’d thought of more unique ways for Billy to fight back using the materials of the Grocery Kingdom.
3) I also feel great, great shame for resorting to the cheapest dues ex machina in the book — the hero finds a MAGICAL REMOTE CONTROL to take over the evil robots. Now, if you read both parts of the story in one sitting, I did try to establish this back on Pg.3 by introducing the cereal box display, but man, I wish I’d thought of something better to get to the denouement. I ran this by a number of friends, including a few cartoonist who work on ADVENTURE TIME, and they said to stop worrying, but I NEVER STOP WORRYING.
4) In a random bit, the Royal Tart Toter is a check-out clerk in the Grocery Kingdom, because I keep encountering tragically old, sometimes demented old people as greeters at big-box stores whenever I go there. Brad wanted a few more clerks for the background, so we went with the Squeez-E-Mart clerk and Choose Goose, who presumably had a slow season in his trading business or needed health insurance.
5) The last page is PACKED, which is a sure sign of a novice comic book writer. Kelly Sue DeConnick had a semi-seminar at a comic shop earlier this year where she made a point that you should try to wrap as much as possible up BEFORE the last page, so you have some room. Given the hole I’d dug myself with this script, there wasn’t a lot of room. I tried to have a short story type twist for Billy’s quest, but it got MORE cramped by the final-final image…
6) So the story ends with the revelation that it’s a tale being read to Baby Finn and Baby Jake by Joshua the Dog-Dad. I wanted to do this to give the story a cute moment amidst all the silliness and propose an addition to the show’s mythology — Finn and Jake learned about Billy because Joshua read them stories as kids, and this probably helped inspire them to grow up to be heroes themselves.
Acknowledging the page was already cramped in the script, I initially wrote this scene as optional, but regular AT comic writer Ryan North said that as the writer, I should say whether something was in the story or not, and that the scene was good and deserved to be in there. I still like it, but wish that I’d found a way to give it more room to breathe and sink in. I did like having a nice, placid moment to end all the craziness of the story.
Brad wanted an extra panel to contain Joshua’s final rant and suggested an exterior shot of the house. In the episode “Memory of a Memory,” Finn’s childhood home is depicted as a different place, but there’s no exterior shots of it. We figured that since “Dad’s Dungeon” showed that Joshua had built a dungeon near the Tree Fort and hid a holo-viewer in its attic, perhaps the Dog family had moved there or leased it from previous owner Marceline (that’d be a fun story to tell). It’s a cheat, but the story does play fast and loose with AT mythology in the interest of including cameos anyway.
So now you know…too much of the story. Hope you liked it, and hopefully I’ll have a few more comics finished in 2014, with both Brad and others among the Finest Artists Known to Man!
December 19, 2012
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Here are some things I wrote and things I did in 2012 that I thought were kind of cool and possibly of interest to people
In January, I wrote some more offbeat pieces, such as an interview with literary novelist Michael Malone about his time writing the daytime soap ONE LIFE TO LIVE as that show ended. I also did a look at the insanity that was the locally-filmed ONE TREE HILL.
I also got to do a pretty funny interview with author Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket.
In February, I did an interview with ADVENTURE TIME creator Pendleton Ward for Newsarama around this time, where I had guest-questions from people like Paul Pope, Scott Kurtz, Mike Allred and some others. Here’s a link to Part Two, which links to Part One. I also got Tony Millionaire to do an original piece of Lumpy Space Princess for the interview.
In March, I did an interview with Trace Beaulieu from MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 and with Jason Mewes of Kevin Smith’s various films. Later, I went to see Beaulieu and the rest of the MST3K/Cinematic Titanic crew when they performed live at the Carolina Theatre, and got my picture taken with Joel Hodgson.
Also in March, I went to the Mad Monster Party show in Charlotte. They had a number of horror and B-movie legends there, and I certainly got my money’s worth. I got to meet Angus Scrimm from PHANTASM, who was even nice enough to record a voice-mail message for me…that unfortunately he couldn’t quite figure out how to speak into my phone, so I just recorded it with my digital recorder, and can’t really figure out how to get the MP3 onto my voice mail.
(He’s sitting down, and extending his arm while I’m leaning against him. I did not sit on the Tall Man’s lap.)
I also met the lovely P.J. Soles from ROCK N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL and many other films. She signed a print based on HIGH SCHOOl that was done on a vinyl record for a recent screening. I also got the print/record signed by Mary Woronov and Marky Ramone at the show. It possesses supernatural powers now.
I also met Rutger Hauer at the show, but he was charging a lot for pictures. I did get an autographed picture for my man Jesse Moynihan, to whom I traded it for a drawing of his ADVENTURE TIME creation the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant.
Toward the end of March, I got to boost my nerd-cred with an interview with Ira Glass of THIS AMERICAN LIFE.
I also talked with Karl Kerschl about one of my favorite webcomics, THE ABOMINABLE CHARLES CHRISTOPHER.
March was quite productive. No wonder I blocked subsequent chunks of the year out.
I recall April was a bit slower, as this might have been around the time I taught a class on “Great Films and Their Scripts” at an extended learning center. I do remember I did this fun little piece on Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s HITMAN, with some quotes from older interviews I did with them.
May was also a mite slow, though I did enjoy doing this interview with Mark Waid about the end of his book IRREDEEMABLE.
I also quite liked this piece about the oddball characters from the old DC chestnut DIAL H FOR HERO.
And I did a piece about trying out some anime series.
In June, I got to host a panel with my man Jeffrey Brown at Heroes Con! I did a whole slideshow and we showed some behind-the-scenes art for his book DARTH VADER AND SON and some footage from SAVE THE DATE, the movie he co-wrote that stars Alison Brie and Lizzy Caplan.
As is usual at cons, I got a bunch of artwork, including this watercolor of the 1960s characters the Atomic Knights by Matt Kindt.
Throughout the year, I got to see a lot of great older movies on the big screen with 35-mm prints at the Carolina Theatre and other local houses. Some films I saw included: THE JERK; PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES; THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN; THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON; the 1979 DRACULA; STUNT ROCK; THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER; E.T. (not-special edition); WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?; GHOSTBUSTERS; MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE; THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER; the 1980 FLASH GORDON; ROSEMARY’S BABY; DRAGONSLAYER; a half-dozen Miyazaki films; I’m sure there were others.
I had several very good articles in July, including this look back at Spider-Man’s many strange media adaptations…
And a talk with the creators of the Batman villain Bane just in time for his appearance in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.
September was quite busy; I went to the Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, Maryland, where I met a bunch of artists and got a bunch of drawings. I got some wonderful pieces at a charity auction, including some Larry Marder BEANWORLD art and this “Space Kid” piece by Farel Dalyrmple.
October was pretty much the busiest month of my professional life! I did a week of guest-posts for USA TODAY’s Pop Candy blog, and a number of big interviews.
I talked with Chris Ware on his acclaimed new collection BUILDING STORIES…
…with ERAGON author Christopher Paolini about life after his blockbuster series…
…and I had way too much fun with this piece about comic book gimmick covers.
I did a whole bunch of 1980s toy-themed posts after this, and talked to the guy who wrote BLACKHAWK DOWN about his new Osama Bin Laden book.
In November, I did still more Pop Candy posts, and “endorsed” a classic comic book character for president with quotes from Neil Gaiman and Ed Brubaker.
I also co-hosted three panels at the NC Comicon, including a one-on-one session with HELLBOY artist Duncan Fegredo about his life and career. He did this nice piece of the Lich from ADVENTURE TIME for my sketchbook.
This also led to a strange adventure where I helped reunite Mark Waid with the first-ever drawing of a character he co-created, Impulse.
Anyway, December is still going on and I think I have a few good pieces left in me before the year’s out. But that certainly was a lot of stuff, wasn’t it?
On to 2013! I’ll try to have fewer slack months next year.
December 11, 2012
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My strange, deeply unhealthy obsession with Cartoon Network’s ADVENTURE Time yeilded a bunch of pieces this year.
Here they are in chronological order, more or less.
This is actually from Dec.27 of last year, but eh, it’s still close — I talk with Ryan North about the KaBOOM! AT comic book.
Here’s an intro to the series on the eve of the comic book’s launch party at Chapel Hill Comics, who did an original cover.
Before Season Four premiered, I did an interview with series creator Pendleton Ward with guest-Qs by Paul Pope, Mike Allred, Joe Hill — and this original Tony Millionaire illustration of Lumpy Space Princess!
Here’s the conclusion to that Pen Ward interview, with guest-appearances by Scott McCloud, Scott Kurtz, and this special original illo by Tony Millionarire’s daughters Phoebe and Pearl!
I interviewed some of the people who worked on the show about their own comic book projects — here’s a talk I did with Tom Herpich, who did the above “Thank You,” along with “Goliad,” “Memory of a Memory” and “Too Young,” among many others. This is about his new comic WHITE CLAY.
Here’s a piece I did with Micahel DeForge, who’s designed props and things for such episdoes as “Beautopia” (seen above). This is about his online strip ANT COMIC and his print collection LOSE.
Here’s another interview I did with Pen Ward, about the influence of 1980s culture on his work.
Later, I talked with THE MAGICIANS novelist Lev Grossman (and his daughter Lily) about our obsession with ADVENTURE TIME.
And on a slight AT-tangent, I talked with A SOFTER WORLD writer Joey Comeau on the BRAVEST WARRIORS comic book from KaBoom!, based on Pen Ward’s new YouTube series.
Finally, I got many, many new additions to my collection of ADVENTURE TIME drawings by comic book artists. There is some pretty cool stuff in there, including things by guys who work on the show.
Yes, I’m aware I have a problem. I’m working on it.
November 30, 2012
Hey guys — just had a great week subbing again for Whitney Matheson at Pop Candy! Here’s all the posts I did in once easy-to-find place, day by day!
“Two Grown Men and a Seven-Year-Old Discuss ADVENTURE TIME:” THE MAGICIANS author and TIME magazine writer Lev Grossman (and his daughter Lily) chat with me about our obsession with Cartoon Network’s hit show!
My friend Chris Shy chats about his new graphic novel THE NORTH END OF THE WORLD, about the famed photographer of Native Americans, Edward Curtis — and his own journey to tribal lands to research the book!
February 14, 2012
Yes, I haven’t updated this site in forever. I was busy. And sick. And busy again. And disorganized. Well, new year, new opportunities, and here is some of the stuff I wrote that is worth archiving.
Pop Cultural and Nerd Icon John Hodgman came through town, so I talked to him about moustaches and the “Occupy” movement…
…and for Newsarama, where he expressed his thoughts on DC Comics’ “New 52” relaunch (he doesn’t like it).
Continuing my brush with the highbrow, I talked with NPR’s lovely, funny and smart Brooke Gladstone about her excellent graphic novel THE INFLUENCING MACHINE with Josh Neufeld.
And Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket came through town to promtoe his book WHY WE BROKE UP, and we chatted about a bunch of odd stuff.
I talked to many webcomic creators, including Zach Weiner of SATURDAY MORNING BREAKFAST CEREAL, who even shared the script to an unused strip!
Brian K. Vaughan of Y: THE LAST MAN, RUNAWAYS and EX MACHINA talked with me briefly about his new Image comic SAGA…
…and with that book’s artist, the very cool Fiona Staples
I did a two-part interview with author Brian Selznick on his new prose/graphic novel hybrid WODNERSTRUCK — and talked about Martin Scorsese’s film of THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET, HUGO (now up for 11 Oscars)
And I discussed some cult comics, like John Arcudi and Doug Mahnke’s MAJOR BUMMER….
…and a three-part series on comics that need to be reprinted (a few of which have in the ensuing months)
And this essay on the cult 1980s’ show CAPTAIN POWER AND TEH SOLDIERS OF THE FUTURE coming out on DVD, which proved strangely popular online.
Toward the end of 2011, I became obsessed with Cartoon Network’s cult hit ADVENTURE TIME.
First, I chatted briefly with creator Pen Ward and voice actors Tom Kenny and Jeremy Shada at a press junket at New York Comic-Con…
Later, BOOM! Studios announced an ADVENTURE TIME comic, and I talked with that book’s writer, Ryan North of the amazing DINOSAUR COMICS
And for the coupe-de-gras, I talked with ADVENTURE TIME creator Pen Ward at length, with guest-questions from Mike Allred, Joe Hill, Scott Kurtz, Lev Grossman, Nicholas Gurewitch, and even a guest-art piece by Tony Millionaire!
In January, the daytime soap opera ONE LIFE TO LIVE ended, so I talked to local author Michael Malone, a former headwriter of the show, for a piece that included many clips from his era
And for some reason, I wrote about the weirdly compelling awfulness of ONE TREE HILL, with clips. Including one where a dog eats a heart.
Well, that’s most of the best stuff. I’m pretty awesome, aren’t I?