Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Last Five Google Searches - 7/30/08 w/ mini Art-Bomb!

Meant to start doing these more frequently, but... I fuckt up! Anyway, I have a little free time today before I get back to studying, so here we go with round 2.

Here are my last five Google searches in my web cache...

1 - effects of lead poisoning
2 - baxter avenue theaters
3 - chicago 1871
4 - comic book tattoo
5 - five stages of grief

ADDED BONUS! A couple of the first character sketches from my second book-in-progress, a decidedly darker departure from what everyone will be getting with Love Buzz, in the form of a morality play I'm tentatively calling "Half-Way Home" illustrated by the brilliant Steven Walters.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Missing out on my favorite week of the year...

It's 7:30 in the morning as I write this which means I went to sleep around 4:30 and was forced awake and unable to drift back off. The reason/thing that shook me out of my far too little sleep was a "nightmare" so minor and lame that I feel embarrassed for how hard it rocked me. I'm sitting in my current summer Bio class, as the semester winds to a hault, to find that the Teacher has come in and decided to give us our ridiculously intimidating final exam for the semester a day early. Being the kind of jackass who barely studies until the last day, I'm completely unprepared, but take to my seat and get ready to proceed with this huge on-coming clusterfuck... And then I wake up...

See, lame and embarrassing. I woke up in a sweat and then sat up and got irrationally pissed at myself for letting something like this get to me in such a way and then got up to cook breakfast and watch old Batman cartoons as I write this. I mark this dream as a harbinger of my utterly cruddy week to come.

It's not only Monday and I already can't wait for this damn week to be over. As San Diego Comicon winds to it's conclusion and my friends and colleagues head home to tell me all about what went on as I've been sitting here from the sidelines, reading the news as it comes up on different web outlets, as well as through my plethora of other comic creator friends who were in attendance and had been updating on every cool thing that happened via Twitter. I curse my teachers and my inclinations towards thinking Summer school would be a good idea. (It was though, I'm just bitching for the sake of my current aggrevated diatribe.)

As if having missed out on going to Comicon and fulfill a few promises I had made doesn't suck enough, the rest of this week, in my perfect, alternate time-line world would be spent doing the one thing I pretty much live through the rest of the whole, stinking year for. Yesterday would have been the start of my eleventh consecutive year. Up until now, I've been counseling there every single year since the camp was first created. As much as I love my writing and all of that, doing camp on this week of every year is pretty much the thing I look forward to most out of each year.

Camp Bravehearts was a summer camp that was established back in 1997 for children born with heart conditions, not unlike myself. I got hooked up with a gig as a counselor in training on the first year of camp by my cardiologist, whose partner established the idea for the camp and has been seeing it through ever since. That first year to me was like a revelation. Sitting around a large square of land filled with kids who were growing up in the middle of the kind of stuff that I grew up dealing with and in some cases much worse, but all of them, even the sicker ones are having an absolute blast of it. Kids with heart defects have to take it slow in life. Their activities and physical limits can be a bit easier to break due to the things going on with them. There are so many of these kinds of defects that it often varies though. I myself got lucky that after my second surgury at the age of eight years old, I've never had any more problems and have essentially been able to go on living like any other normal person. Some of these kids get to be that lucky, some of them don't but go on to live happily and well adjusted, and on rare occasions in the middle of the year, I've gotten news passed down to me when one or two of the campers will have passed away. Those have always been rough. One year specifically, the camp director Joyce called me specifically to say that a boy named Josh had an attack on his way home from school and his parents had her invite me specifically to the funeral, because of how Josh had apparently looked up to me at the time and even spent a lot of his time when he came home from camp actually walking around immitating me. My mannerisms, the way I walk, pretty much any of my other weird tics, he picked up on and just kind of... Adopted them for a little while. It was a weird thing to hear, but I went to the funeral and it was as heavy as can be expected, but the reception I got from the boys parents was like I was a member of their family. I've been going to camp ever since and it's seemed like at the age of 15, I'd found something I could have seen myself doing happily for the rest of my life.

I can't explain it, I just love working with kids. I get a huge, rejuvenating charge out of it and it seems like other than writing, to be the only thing that gives me a sense of real joy in my life. The whole thing gives me a drive and makes me feel like I've got a purpose. Writing ain't paying any bills yet, and I've always loved the idea of trying to work with kids on a regular basis. The trouble is, whenever you walk into a place where you'd be able to do something like that and you're a male my age, you get looked at suspiciously like a potential sex offender in waiting.
I've even thought at times of the idea of becoming a teacher, but again, the current social climate in America has people looking cock-eyed at male teachers when they hire them and then the ones that do get hired have to worry about so many laws or complaints from uptight parents that it's hard to even get involved in breaking up a fight between the kids without the possibility of being scrutinized. I've never been able to make more of it than the 10 years of one week volunteering I do for Camp Bravehearts and now this year, I can't even get that. It just... sucks!

But I digress, what should be the focus of my attention right now is not fucking up my summer finals in bio, psych, and algebra. College sucks. It doesn't feel like the right thing for me, but I'm fighting and killing myself to get through it finally just for the sake of my parents and making them proud so they don't have to worry about me in case the writing thing never works out. (It will. I'm too determined not to let it.)

So now, I'm off to class to sit and listen and try to retain and not let my mind get distracted by kittens or shiny things and just try to get this total suck week over with.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Somedays, I Wear Editor Pants!

Felt today like posting a little something from an ongoing pet project of mine that I started a couple years back on my own and more recently evolved into trying to make work as an anthology book. As I've been getting a bunch of really good stories turned in, as well as a few small smatterings of art I'm going to use to pitch the project, I figured I'd show a few assorted panels from several of the stories that have had art turned in for the pitch I've been putting together for my romance comic anthology, Less Than Three!

Obtuse, Written by Brian Dervin, art by Joe Eisma

Brian Dervin and I have been long distance friends for so long, I'm not even sure how we first started talking. Dervin and I bullshit with each other via AIM for probably over five years or more by now. Anyway, Brian's been wanting to get into writing comics over the last couple of years and when I told him about my idea for this anthology, he jumped at the chance to try and crank something out for it. Not being overly familiar with how Brian would fair as a first-time writer, I kinda just figured we'd see what happened. I finally got the script in my email and read it that night. It was short but sweet and surprisingly low key. The whole thing takes place in the confines of a single room and the majority of the story is told between the dialogue of it's two characters. One would think this might make for some boring art notes, but no. Brian had some pretty specific art directions that make the whole thing interesting to look at. Suffice to say, the story was good. Really good for a guy with no real previous experience at writing comics. It was the kind of story who would need an artist really capable of capturing facial expressions and that sort of thing. Joe Eisma's still fairly new to the game, but his art gigs have been moving up a bit in profile as he moves along. From drawing the sequel to Jason Burns' A Dummy's Guide To Danger for Viper Comics this year, as well as his and Burns' second collaboration on Devil's Due's Serpo OGN, Joe has had a nack for capturing emotions (usually used for comedic effect) so I figured he'd be a perfect fit with Brian's story.

Fool Me Twice, written by JAn Napiorkowski, art by Laura Zajacz

In JAn's story, he wanted to have a bit of a punk rock feel to the story of a girl trying to investigate the possibility of her boyfriend cheating on her.
When I read it, I immediately figured out the perfect artist for the occasion. Laura Zajacz has been involved with me on Less Than Three since the project was first concieved as a web comic. She was going to build and host the site for me, but as the plans I had changed into what they are now, I still wanted to give Laura something to do for her commitment in the past. She does her own webcomic called High-Top Chucks & Bubblegum with the same punk-centric feel to it that JAn's story gave me upon initially reading it. Laura was getting geared up to start working on one of the short stories I'd written for the book, but just before she could, I showed her this script and now here we are today.

The Valentine's Day Massacre, written by yours truly, art by Brenda Lopez

This one's one of my favorite short stories I've ever written. Just five pages of pure, silly, outlandish fun from wall to wall. I've flipped on artists for this one a good bit before the story landed at Brenda's feet. First, I wanted to get my Love Buzz accomplice Michelle Silva to draw it, but with working on Love Buzz and several other short stories for different anthologies, Michelle expressed the idea of wanting to write her own story to draw for the book, so I'm letting her work that out in between Love Buzz pages, and the story she's come up with, while I'm not going to talk much about it, sounds pretty cute. Then the story briefly went to Laura Zajaca before I decided to move her over to JAn's punk-centric story, since I figured it'd compliment her art better. This brought me to Brenda, whom I've been watching like a rabid dog through her MySpace and DeviantArt pages for a couple of years. She doesn't post as much art anymore due to her job as a teacher, but I've been persistantly bugging her about wanting to do something, and I figured that her love for children might help me to get her on board with this story. Every pages I see from her is just panel after panel of mad-cap joy and insanity.

Gillian's Heart: Diamonds Are A West African Warlord's Best Friend, written by Dave Baxter & Gillian Horvat, art by Cal Slayton

From the beginning of putting this anthology together, I told myself I would absolutely not include anything to do with superheroes unless it not only fit in with the criteria of what I wanted for the book as a whole, but also brought something different to the whole superhero thing as a whole, so when Dave Baxter and his girlfriend Gillian told me they had a superhero idea they wanted to pitch, I repressed my initial urge to groan and roll my eyes and gave them my warning of what I was looking for and within a few days, they'd turned in their script. Admittedly, it made me cringe at first. Not due to the writing or the style of it, so much as the fact that the format of the script they turned in for an eight page story came out of my printer as 24 pages of paper. That's like one billionth of a tree, right there. After getting over my initial horror with the thing, I read it. Not without its problems, but still, Dave and Gillian gave me everything I asked for in a superhero story. It's different, it's fun and flighty and has some pretty great dialogue to it. It reminds me of some of the best aspects of Dan Slott's She-Hulk run. With some coaching, Dave and Gillian's trimmed the script down considerably and put it in the capable artistic hands of Cal Slayton and so far, it's the first story with fully rendered art, color, and lettering to be completed. Bravo!

Billboard Baby, written by Josh Wagner, art by Josh Boulet

Wagner and Boulet are a pairing that have worked out exceptionally well. I'm really happy about what's come out of my putting them together. Wagner is a writer I met back when we were both still working at Silent Devil, and he was kind enough to let me crash inside his camper last year at SDCC. His first comic effort, Fiction Clemens is currently being published in a three issue prestige format mini-series from Ape Entertainment. Issue Three should be hitting stands this month. Wagner's writing has a constant flair for being pretty far out there in terms of its weirdness. It's really a must read for anyone whose a fan of LSD or Terry Gilliam movies. I knew pretty soon after I'd figured out what I wanted to do with Less Than Three, that I wanted him to write me a story for it. I was surprised when the story he turned in was a bit more sedated and sweet than I was expecting from him. Not to say a story about a homeless man in love with an inanimate object doesn't fill the Wagner weird quota, but even so, there's something a bit more grounded here. To complement Wagner's work, we went through a list of artists we both liked and discussed them until we came down to Josh Boulet. While we've not gotten more than the first couple of pages turned in from him, Boulet has been cranking out some really cool looking stuff. The things he did with the story logo are exceptionally cool, but we'll save that for when people can actually hold and read a copy for themselves.