Monthly Archives: August 2013

Character Sketches Today

As I’ve mentioned in this blog before, I’m thinking of adapting some of my stories into a web comic format. Unfortunately for me, I lack the skill and talent required to produce a compelling and interesting visual style. I wish I had the knack for drawing. The scenes in my head as I write, especially when I’m working on fantasy work, are so vivid and cinematic. I think my writing style reflects this generally, but it’s hard to give the kind of impression I want in a succinct story. That’s why I think the format of the web comic would work well, giving the visual information directly, allowing me to focus on plot and dialogue.

I know that the web comic format works for the fantasy genre. If you’re not familiar with the work of Rich Burlew, Robert Balder, and Xin Ye, then you are definitely missing out! Rich Burlew is the creator of The Order of the Stick, and amazing story of D&D characters and their adventures. Burlew employs a fairly minimalist style for his lines, but uses stark and vibrant colours to make the world really pop off the screen. Robert Balder and Xin Ye are collaborators on Erfworld, a story which blends classic fantasy with quantum mechanics and turn-based physics in one of the most creative and compelling pieces I’ve ever read. I actually need to get back into these works, as I’m behind in their narratives. The art is rich and detailed, and you’ll love every panel of it!

Check out The Order of the Stick here: http://www.giantitp.com/

And Erfworld here: http://www.erfworld.com/

So I’m flying a little bit blind on how to proceed, but I think the best thing for me to do is to write up physical and character descriptions of my characters. I’m hoping that will give an artist something to work from.

Well, enough procrastination. Time to do some work!

 

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Copyrights and other such things

Some really cool thoughts on publishing, self-publishing, and digital sharing!

J T Weaver

One of my very favorite record albums of all time is Sgt. Peppers.  I bought it in the fall of 1967 and played it until the vinyl groves melted away.  Eventually I had to buy the record again.  When I got my first car, I made sure it had one piece of optional equipment, an AM-FM radio.  However, I soon found out that what I really wanted was to listen to Sgt. Peppers.  So, I bought an 8-track tape player and among other tapes, I got Sgt. Peppers.

A few years went by, I got a new and car that had a cassette tape player in it.  Of course, I still wanted my Sgt. Peppers during my commute so I bought the cassette tape for it.  I think that car stereo was the first time I really heard the songs properly.  Then a few years later I bought a car…

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Copyrights and other such things

Some really great thoughts on digital self-publication and the nature of buying a story. Definitely worth a read!

Thanks, JT!

 

Copyrights and other such things.

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Best Advice Ever

This popped up in my Facebook feed today, and it’s one of the coolest pieces of wisdom I’ve ever come across. Calvin & Hobbes was hands down my favorite comic as a kid, and as an adult, it still rings true and hilarious. Gavin Aung Than give Bill Watterson a better homage than I could ever imagine in this strip. Please do check this strip out and read Than’s strip Zen Pencils!

http://zenpencils.com/

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I played the latest expansion for the board game of A Game of Thrones this weekend. Here’s a few of my thoughts on the new A Feast for Crows expansion:

“While the vast majority of the game remains the same, we played a specific four-player variation which changed the experience in some interesting ways. First off, the southern part of the continent is out of play. I liked that this reflects the focus in the novel on the central and northern regions at this point in the story. Secondly, new objectives were created to provide a different experience of the game. These objective cards are given out to each player, and their house has a standing objective. Whenever a round resolves in which you have achieved an objective, you advance along the path to victory. The third major difference was in the time it takes to play the game. The expansion is much faster, which I feel makes it more accessible.”

 

Please stop by Geeky Universe to read the whole thing here:  http://www.geekyuniverse.com/the-game-of-thrones-game-a-gamers-game/

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From the Road. . .

Here’s an excerpt from my piece Drive:

Steph felt ridiculous getting undressed without Renee’s attention. The flush came to her pale cheeks as she pulled her tight jeans off. She had wanted to be playful, bending over and showing Renee the round swell of her ass. She wanted his pulse to race and his cock to harden at the sight of her. He nodded at the dashboard completing his tinkering, then returned his gaze out the passenger’s side window. Steph wanted to scream for his attention. The frustration and humiliation mixed with the desire inside her, amplifying it. She ran her fingers over the lacy black padded bra she wore, and looked down at her chest, smiling at the way her breasts looked in the lingerie. She licked her lips as she unclasped her bra and let it fall into her left hand. Her rich brown nipples hardened instantly, and she couldn’t help but to give one a soft twist.

You can check out the whole thing here:  http://www.literotica.com/s/drive-7

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BatFleck. . . Everyone Just Calm Down

Okay, so everyone’s loosing their minds over the announcement that Ben Affleck is going to play Batman in the upcoming DC cross-over film. Affleck does seem an unlikely selection to become the capped crusader, and his previous attempt at the superheroic was disappointing to many.  For years, I like many of you imagined Ben Affleck either as his notorious bully from Dazed and Confused  or as that guy who got credit along with Matt Damon for Good Will Hunting. Especially for those of us who went through the Bat-mania of the Tim Burton films only to see them dashed in a gay disco nightmare from  Joel Shumacher, it’s easy to imagine how star power can lead one of our favorite heroes to a depressing place. We’ve been treated to the Dark Knight Trilogy, and for a lot of people that’s the best Batman’s ever going to be. But I think there are a lot of things people are forgetting in here.

 

1. THIS IS A SUPERMAN MOVIE

I’m already weary of this movie because it’s the first time anyone’s tried to do a live-action Batman/Superman crossover. There have been a lot of really good feature length cartoons which have done Batman and Superman (Public Enemies and Apocalypse come to mind instantly). There’s a deep comic tradition bridging DC’s two signature heroes. And I think it’s pretty obvious that the appeal of seeing the Man of Steel working with the Dark Knight gave rise to the Justice League concept (feel free to correct me if you know otherwise.) But because this is live-action, I think the biggest challenge in creating a good film is going to be how you actually showcase both characters. Think about all the bullet-time, impossible angles, and waves of destruction we saw in Man of Steel. While there may have been a few problems with the action sequences, (like Superman’s apparent disregard for collateral damage) in terms of scale it was the best representation of what a Superman battle should look like. The challenge is balancing that with Batman’s much more human abilities. The all-cartoon reality helps the viewer suspend disbelief and provides a visual consistency that conveys a reality obeying some laws. In a live-action Batman/Superman film, the biggest challenge to creating a believable Batman isn’t going to be in the acting, but in the relationships of scale. That’s something Zack Snyder and his production team will have to tackle, and it will make or break the character, possibly the film.

2. THIS IS THE SEQUEL TO THE MAN OF STEEL

Let me quickly get this thought out of the way. Superman did not exist in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. If he had, even as the reluctant-but-compelled alien of Man of Steel, he obviously would have shown up in Gotham during Bane’s reign of terror. It’s a good thing there was no Superman for Nolan’s series, because it meant that ONLY Batman could save the day. My point is that this movie will not and could not be a continuation of the same universe as the Dark Knight trilogy. New Batman means new rules.

The thing I most enjoyed about Man of Steel was that it was a science fiction story about an alien on Earth. That alien happened to be Superman. Just about everyone I’ve spoken to about this movie agrees that it really felt more like a sci-fi movie than a comic book movie. Most people even agreed that was a good thing. While Zack Snyder’s take might not be what everyone wanted to see, it was an unconventional look at a well established character, which I think makes it worth doing. It puts us in some familiar but oddly new territory for our favorite DC heroes, but I think Snyder should go ahead and invert the paradigm again. Ben Affleck’s character should be more Bruce Wayne than Batman.

Most people seem to agree that Affleck would make a believable and engaging Bruce Wayne, and maybe this casting is playing to that strength. We’re so accustomed now to seeing Bruce as the mask that Batman wears to function in society, that it’s easy to forget that Bruce Wayne is WAY MORE POWERFUL THAN BATMAN EVER COULD BE! According to Wikipedia, Wayne Enterprises has an average annual income of $98.5 billion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayne_Enterprises). Both Wayne Enterprises and LexCorp are teased out to us in Man of Steel, and since we already know that Lex Luthor will be the villain of this film, it makes perfect sense that Bruce Wayne, not Batman, is more engaged in the plot. I’ve always thought that the corporate espionage and intrigue behind two massive-multinational corporations, one run by a superhero and the other by a super-villain, must be amazing! With the arrival of extra-terrestrials, advanced technology, and global scale crisis, it only makes sense that these two supra-national corporate giants would be slugging it out for the profits.

Of course we’ll need to see Batman in the movie, and it’ll need to be awesome. But imagine how intense the scene between Bruce and Lex in the boardroom could be. That’s the novel experience of the characters I’d like to see.

 

3. IT’S ALL ABOUT LEX

Justin Kroll at Penny Arcade hit the nail on the head when he asked us to remember the lamentation once hefted at Heath Ledger’s casting for the Joker  (http://www.penny-arcade.com/report/article/ben-affleck-is-the-new-batman-okay-lets-deal-with-this-like-adults). Ledger’s performance was absolutely spectacular, and no one can argue that he didn’t bring new life to the character that was creepier, darker, and more menacing that any other performance. And he made the movie. Absolutely and without a doubt, superheroes are defined by their villains. The story challenge this film faces isn’t with Batman; it’s with Lex Luthor. And Lex can be great.

The best versions of Lex are the ones where he’s kind of right. Where he argues that Superman is a crutch to humanity, and that even IF we can depend on him, we shouldn’t. A rich, complicated, genius Lex Luthor is what this film needs. If Lex is shown as an amoral anti-hero, whose ideas are right but whose methods are reprehensible, there’s deep and interesting stuff to play with. The actions of villains drive the plot of these movies, and Lex can not only bring destruction through his engineering and corporate genius, but drive suspicion and doubt into our heroes friends and allies. That’s how you hurt Superman. And that sort of story has more room for the sort of Bruce Wayne-first Batman experience I described above.

I honestly believe that this film will hinge on who plays Lex. And I hope that if it’s not going to be Brian Cranston (a nice full circle on Seinfeld, I think.) then there’s a really good reason why it’s not. (like this: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0586568/?ref_=tt_cl_t2)

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