Friday, March 27, 2009

Bring Back That Lovin' Feelin'!

Been a pretty major week on the Love Buzz production front. We had a bit of a crisis Tuesday night, in the form of a frantic phone call from Michelle, telling me that her father had fallen 15 feet off a scaffolding and broken a some ribs. She was on her way to the hospital and apologizing profusely for being late with the night's worth of pages, something she never should have felt the need to do, and I told her as much. There was a bit of drama after that in waiting to hear back from her on whether her dad was okay, but gladly I got a hold of her the next day and he's recovered pretty good. Four broken ribs and on bed rest, but I'm pretty sure he left the hospital the next day. Beyond that bit of drama, I've never heard Michelle to be in higher spirits about the project in all the time we've been working on it. It kind of relieves me to know that too, because it means she cares about it as more than just a job to her, and it's gone a bit further in cementing the bond we've come to grow between each other in this odd little partnership.

In other news, as the book keeps inching towards the finish line of coming together, I got an email with another fun little piece of Love Buzz related eye-candy in the form of another pin-up that will be going to print in the back of the book.

Art by Miss Brenda López

Brenda's a pretty cool character I met through knowing Michelle and I guess them being mutual fans of one another's work. She and I have also recently collaborated on a five page short story for the Less Than Three romance anthology I'm still in the slow process of putting together called The Valentine's Day Massacre. I pride this particular story to be probably one of my top three favorite shorts I've written so far, and I'm happy to report Brenda knocked every panel of it out of the park artistically. I'm hoping to work with her on something a bit more substantial in the future, but she's a teacher, so it might take a little time, but I'll keep bugging her until I either wear her down or she just starts stonewalling me. (A side note to any aspiring comic writers out there. They say patience is a virtue, and it's true. Letting a good artist have the time to take their time is always mutually benificial.)

I'm told Brenda's worked up a color version of the Maggie piece and will send it to me soon, but since the book itself is black and white, this is the version that everyone will be seeing within the book itself. When I get the color version though, I'll be posting it, as well as the other two pin-ups I'm waiting to get turned in soon.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How To End Big

Today's been an interesting, low key day of work with Love Buzz. Hacking out bits of dialogue that were too wordy with Mauer and basically trying to get the first two chapters of the book ready for Oni to compile into a PDF preview that we will then start distributing through the web in the next week or so. I've gotten too many emails from people wanting to see a bit more of the functioning comic itself in all it's glory, and I'm hoping to have the preview together a couple weeks in advance of the pre-order cut off date, so we can finally show people a bit of what we've been doing. Stay tuned for more on that soon.

The other part of my day has been spent going through the old script, looking for ways to cut out or consolidate a few pages here or there, so Michelle can have a little lighter of in the weeks up to her impending deadline. In doing all of this, I've had to spend time getting familiar with all the old friends I locked away inside my head, since I finished writing the book so long ago. The bulk of the editing work will be coming out of the last four chapters, and I've managed to clean up a good bit, and actually just cut a lot out of one chapter and merge what was left into the chapter before it, so go me.

The thing I'm having trouble with now though and probably won't end up changing much, if at all, are the final two chapters. These chapters also represent a bit of a subtle transition between the Len that wrote Love Buzz originally seven years ago, and the man and writer I've grown into to this day and I owe it all to Oni's Managing Editor Randy Jarrell.

Here's how the story goes...

In the time shortly before the gang and I signed with Oni and they'd expressed interest in picking us up, Randy and I were going through some things over the phone. The strong points of the story, the weak points, and anything that might have needed to be changed. Randy expressed some disatisfaction with the ending I had. Upon hearing this, I was a little wounded to be honest. Love Buzz had a lot of shaky points, but in my opinion, the ending was pretty good. Without going too far into spoilers on how things turn out in the story, Randy told me that while things changed for both the characters in the end, he said the old ending was lacking in "growth" and that despite all the changes I saw, Norm and Maggie never actually got to a point where they actually "grew" as characters. He suggested a few ideas and told me I should rewrite the last two chapters from the bottom up.

Needless to say, after hanging up the phone, I felt a sudden rush of panic wash over me. At that point, I'd been about 5 and a half years with Love Buzz living in some form of stasis in the back of my head, and frankly, I was getting sick to death at the thought not being done with it. Even worse, the idea of going back and tinkering with something I'd considered myself to be "finished" with for over three years was something that even thinking about would make me want to get violently ill. I sat on it for a couple of days and groused to myself in normal, crabby fashion until I got exhausted with being mad about it and decided to get started. I mean, Oni fucking Press wants to publish my book. Even if they hated the ending, I must have done something right.

I went back over the script as a whole, got back inside the skins of these characters I'd frankly become sick of, and ruminated on what I could do to change things and make them actually say something if not better, then at least more poetically phrased than what I'd originally had. I backed up the old ending in my emails, and then deleted it off my hard drive and told myself I wouldn't use a damn bit of it in crafting the new ending. the process of rewriting those 30 pages took me a little over a week, but once I figured out what I wanted the new ending to "say" without deviating too far from the basics of where I wanted the characters to be with the original ending, it became a cake walk. I'd spent so long resenting Love Buzz for not being done, and not getting published repeatedly, due to all the different circumstances, that I'd forgotten all the things about the story that made me fall in love with it and the characters in the first place. Once I figured out the direction for the new ending, it reignited my passion for the story as a whole. It's a great ending. I like to pride myself on many of my current projects, that my strengths always lie in knowing how to end a story and end it in a spectacular and unexpected way. The new ending for Love Buzz is just that. Without even trying, I crafted an ending that made me fall back in love with Norm and Maggie and everything they represented about that time in my life, and even found a way to make it pertain to my life now, seven years later. Like I said, I owe it all to Randy.

Anyway, the prompting for this post I guess is just from be going back and re-reading the whole book for the first time the whole way through with the new ending attached. I may post the script for the original ending somewhere down the road, after the book is out, but part of me thinks I should also keep it a mystery, because the new one just blows it so far out of the water that I think showing the old, busted ending might cheapen the impact of the new one. Those last two chapters are really just something that not even I figured I was capable of.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

You've Come A Long Way, Davey!

I get a lot of people asking lately about the contributions to the book of Dave Tuney, who's relationship to the book thus far, is only known by his name on the solicits. His contribution to the book is only about 30 pages, as opposed to Michelle's 150, but the quantity of Dave's work is part of what makes what he and I have been cooking up for his role in the book so special. Just because he gets less stage time doesn't take away from the fact that his contributions are just as important, and in some ways, a bit more fun.

In Love Buzz, the book's central male character Norm is like most of us, crazy about comic books and wants to become a professional artist when the story takes place. At a point through the book, Norm in his budding relationship with Maggie, begins keeping and trading off this big sketchbook with her that he'll every now and then begin drawing little comic entries into about their relationship and later their love and numerous break ups along the way. Dave's role in Love Buzz is essentially acting as Norm's hands through these segments.

I get a lot of people asking me to show off some examples of Dave's work on Love Buzz and how it relates and contrasts to Michelle and what she does as the person telling the book's central story. I've worked with Dave on several small projects over the last several years, and his role in Love Buzz was cemented into place even before Michelle came on board. I applaud him for sticking with us through everything, and I'm even more in awe of seeing how much his art has grown since our first work that we abandoned half way through, [URL=""]My Fair Zombie[/URL].

My first work with Dave on the short-lived, unfinished opus, My Fair Zombie.

Here's a page Dave just recently completed in a 4 page sequence. An homage of Norm's to Jim Steranko's original Nick Fury comics. The rest of the sequence is a blast, and adds a little extra flavor to the story of Norm and Maggie's relationship as well as the whole "Hero worship" aspect of Norm's own "coming of age" story. There are several independent Dave scenes as well as a few other really fun homage sequences that include Frank Miller's Daredevil, Herge's Tintin, and the campy Adam West Batman TV series among a couple others.

Love Buzz - Page 46 - illustrated by Dave Tuney

Dave and I have also worked on a couple of short stories for various anthologies that either have already, or will soon see print, and he's been a great go-to guy for kicking out some of my better small ideas over the years. That said, with the improvement in his game and the spotlight that will be provided to us both, post-Love Buzz, Dave and I are in the process of looking forward into a new, bigger collaborative effort in the coming future. We've yet to hammer out any concrete details yet, and probably won't be able to until Love Buzz is turned in and off to the printers in a couple weeks, but there's something big brewing there.

Here's to you, Dave. And your luxurious girl hair!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

You Don't Know Me... But You Will!

Sitting here between bouts of Wii induced euphoria and writers block on the last page of a first issue for a project that's been in my head for a very long time and taking a moment to step back for a second and survey the tremendous floodgate that stands before me on the verge of bursting open in my post-Love Buzz world.

Love Buzz used to represent something wholly different to me than what it does now. When I first wrote Love Buzz, I was going through some motions of change and frustration, due to getting my butt kicked repeatedly by love. The more years that have gone by since the book's completion (on my part, at least) the more it's taken a form of a different meaning in my life.

The beginning of my new life. The beginning of the day where I can quit telling people I'm a writer and having them look at me with that look of feigned interest, like I'm some fucking crackpot. Now, Love Buzz represents validation. It represents burning down the bridge between feeling like any given shithead chasing his dream while other people just smile and nod, to being the guy who has something to show for it.

Love Buzz will come out and Love Buzz will be a goddamn success, because Michelle, Dave, Tom, and everyone else whose had their fingers in it along the way have worked just as hard or harder to make it so. Maybe I'm being arrogant or setting myself up for an upset, but Love Buzz, to me, is already a success, because it showed me more than just an introspect into my processes in relationships, it showed me what I'm made of and put a fire in my guts that's never going to go out. It took me to the point where I can't NOT write or tell stories. The day I stop that is the day that I'll die. I've been fired from enough jobs to know that this is the only thing I'm REALLY good at, and the only thing I give a shit about. Failure is no longer an option.

And to make this entry complete for all the people out there who tend to glaze over at entries that are nothing but paragraph after paragraph of text, here's some pencils from another upcoming project, drawn by Brazilian artist Jorge Trinidade. Can't reveal too much behind it, but ain't it pretty?

Anyway, heading back on point... You may not know me by now, but mark my words, I'm about to write my name across every one of your foreheads in the biggest way possible. That may sound arrogant or cock sure, but at this rate I think I've worked hard enough to have earned it.

Wait and see...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Journeys Into The Transmundane - Vol. 1 "The Bacon Explosion!"

A new feature we'll be having in the blog, to further cement the place's title of truly being "Wasted Space". Weird, disturbing, or gross things I find in my many strange journeys across the strange, fruitful world of the World Wide Web. Today's inaugural entry...

The Edible Death Log - AKA: The Bacon Explosion!

This disturbed beauty, as per the instructions listed on the website I found it one, consists of the following.

2 pounds thick cut bacon
2 pounds Italian sausage
1 jar of your favorite barbeque sauce
1 jar of your favorite barbeque rub

So, in other words, that's four pounds of pig parts mashed together and rolled into a log that resembles a really dried up, but shockingly long and wide piece of excrement. To further hit home the point of this, here's another shot of it with a rather turd-ish, glossy sheen to it.

And a shot of this thing cut in half so you can get a good glimpse of what's inside. Shock! There's more bacon!

Click the link, there are tons of pictures of this beast as it's progressively made, including the bacon woven net that makes up the beast's outer shell.

Love Buzz Art Bomb!

Been a while since I've done one of these on any form of any blog I've ever had, so here goes nothin'. Some new pages by the lovely, and talented Michelle Silva as the book winds down the path to it's completion.


Michelle assures me that the image on the TV screen on the splash page is Mickey Mouse holding a banana. I maintain that she drew him holding a boner, but in the end that will be for the reader to determine.

Also, a little promotional banner that The Mauer and I cooked up!

Available this May in comic retailers and finer book stores everywhere. Diamond order code - MAR094378 on page 278 of the Previews Catalog.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ruminations On Starting A Podcast... I Need Your Help!

So, with Love Buzz on the verge of coming out, I'm trying to think of different ways to get my name out there and get more people to pick up the book. Also want to take my current position as well as a couple of the contacts and things I've made with people in the industry. I'm in talks with a decently circulated comic news site to carry the show, and while I love Word Balloon, I want to make this pretty much the 'starving artists' version of Word Balloon.

I'm kinda green to the concept of podcasting, and I pretty much just came up with the idea today, but I'm putting the wheels in motion to try and record my first episode this week, if possible.

My question to you, my potential listeners, on a show about creators who are struggling to get to the place where they've "made it", what kind of stuff would you like to hear discussed. Would you prefer stuff like, two decent sized interviews per show? One big interview, or like, 3 or 4 with different creators in chunks.

I want to try and do this and if I can get some ears on it, to make it successful, because I love the world of comic podcasting, but find it sadly lacking in the perspective of the so-called underdog voices. The guys who I read books from every day who are just as good as the big dudes like Bendis and Brubaker and the like, but just haven't gotten "there" yet.

Tell me, what do you want to hear?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Quickie Interlude...

Wanted to take a sec to show off a Love Buzz pin-up that just got turned in by my buddy/hero Steven Walters.

I've been absolutely smitten with this guys work for several years, and getting this into the back of the book will be an awesome honor. Steve's working currently on his second OGN, the tentative title of which, I believe is The Sweet Souvenir. I've read and helped him edit the script on it, and it's going to be another slice of gold from him. Seriously, anyone who checks out Love Buzz and digs the tone and the slice-of-life story telling in the comic form would be doing themselves, Steven, and myself (as probably Steven's biggest fan) a favor in ordering and checking out his first book, Suburban Folklore as well as his second one, whenever he finishes it. Both of them are brilliant, criminally under read, and some of the most emotionally affecting stories I've read out of the comics medium in the last several years. You can see more of Steven's work at his website,

And have I mentioned we're close to working on a project of our own together? ;)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Building The Buzz

It's been close to two weeks now since the ad for Love Buzz hit Previews, and this one man PR machine has hit the ground running hard. Calling comic shops around the country to ask them personally to pick up the book, or to thank them if they already have, as well as working on closing out what I need to do for the local promotional push here in Louisville. (There's talk of us throwing a party in one of our favorite coffee shop/bars and a big signing!) Anyway, I figured now could be a good time for a little info dump of new developments and press.

The book's Diamond order code is MAR094378 and the cut-off date for pre-orders is April 7th, so reserve your copy today. ISBN number is 978-1-934964-21-7.

Here's a list of places it's available to purchase online, although I stress the importance of supporting any good, solid comic shops out there.


My first big interview about the book with Jen Contino @ The Pulse! A great treat to get to give Jen my first big, in depth interview, because she's been an instrumental in helping me navigate my way into comics. I always told her once I had something to promote, she'd have the first exclusive.

And you can add Love Buzz on MySpace, even though the page is in desperate need of some sprucing up, of late.

Naturally, I'll keep updating the blogs here as soon as new stuff comes up.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Len Watches The Watchmen...

I agree, the title of this blog is a bit too obvious and lame, but I'm saving up my creativity for the night of book plotting I have ahead of me, so screw you. Probably spoilers ahead, so be warned...

If you're like me and read the book years ago and never thought it would ever be possible to make an adequate movie adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen, you've probably been looking at the prospect of this movie, and all the footage that has leaked over the last year with a mix of promise and skepticism. It looked a lot like they might have been able to pull off the impossible with this one. I just got back from the theater about an hour ago, and I really dug it for the most part.

A minute to talk about the director of the massive opus, Zack Snyder. I became a fan of him through the surprisingly good Dawn Of The Dead remake he did a couple years back. I'm by no means a fan of remakes of almost any kind, but that movie surprised me and many others. While some hardcore zombie fans will cry foul for the concept of running zombies, I loved it. It's a lot scarier when the thing that wants to eat you can catch up to you on foot. Then he went on to adapt Frank Miller's 300, which was good and beautifully executed, but not something I was overly bowled over by. (I'm a fan of Miller, but was never a fan of 300. Personal preferences...) Upon hearing that he'd been given the keys to the notorious "unfilmable" book gave me a good bit of interest.

Snyder made a movie that visually, was pretty fucking amazing. Colorful backdrops, vivid imagery, virtually every image looking like it's been ripped straight from Dave Gibbons' art and brought to animated life. Stunning stuff, with a couple minor problems here and there. With Watchmen, I ended up thinking Snyder reeeeeally should've reigned it in with the slo-mo/fast-mo stuff. That shit was cool in 300, because 300 didn't require a brain stem to enjoy. 300 was just greased up, half-naked men beating, gouging, and stabbing the shit out of other greased up, half-naked men. It doesn't get much more base than that. A movie like Watchmen requires a bit more finesse, and I think with the tone of "realism" a story like this is most noted to bring to the world of superheroes, a much more brutal and less choreographed approach to the fight staging should have been taken. It's been a while since I watched his Dawn Of The Dead remake, but the violence in that and the approach to how it was shown would have done more of a service to a movie like this.

Another big flaw is that his direction of the actors seemed kinda bloodless at times. A movie like this should have demanded a bit more from some of its performers. Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach/Walter Kovaks was a pretty great performance, despite the constant low, growling "Christian Bale as Batman" voice. I've been a fan of Jackie's since I saw his creepy and sad performance in Little Children, (also featuring his Watchmen co-star Patrick Wilson and Kate Winslet.) so hopefully this role will prove to be a breakout for him, and get him much more work. Jeffery Dean Morgan as The Comedian fit really well, and you can tell Morgan had a blast playing the sadistic asshole the entire time. Billy Crudup's lifeless performance as Dr. Manhattan fit in really well, because... Dr. Manhattan is about as disconnected a personality from human emotion as you can find. I'd call Matthew Goode's performance as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandius lifeless too, but I'd mean it in more of the bad way. The character to me demanded someone with a little more presence. Not some moosed up, twig wristed fop who I'm supposed to buy as the world's smartest man and world class athlete. Watching the guy kick the crap out of everyone else in the movie was just too hard for me to buy and ended up being disappointing. Carla Gugino's turn as Sally Jupiter/Silk Specter I was a bit of a let down as well, but I blame that fact more on the direction than anything else. Carla playing Sally in the early, younger days was a great fit and she did a good job, but I have a hard time, no matter how much makeup you wanna cake onto her, believing that this beautiful woman is playing a 67 year old. They got an older actor to play Hollis Mason for the five fucking seconds he was in the movie, why couldn't they have done the same for Sally?

As for the new ending, and it's deviations from the book, I'll just say I think putting Manhattan as a scapegoat, even though he probably is too detached to give a shit was a shitty thing to have done, but for a movie going audience, I think it's a more plausable idea than a totally out of left field "here comes the giant vagina-mouthed octopus from space". I don't agree with it... But I understand.

Overall I enjoyed Watchmen more than my skeptical ass expected too. It's just that some of the problems that stuck out really kept bugging and keeping me from loving it.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Obama to reverse ban on embryonic stem cell research!

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama is planning to sign an executive order Monday to overturn Bush-era policy that limited federal tax dollars for embryonic stem cell research, according to administration officials familiar with the deliberations.

Obama's move will be hailed by advocates for those suffering from a host of afflictions, ranging from diabetes to Parkinson's disease, who believe that an expansion of stem-cell research could boost medical progress toward eradicating the debilitating diseases.

But many conservatives object to the destruction of human embryos because they contend that it ends a human life.

The officials said the administration is planning a Monday event at the White House at which Obama will overturn the executive order signed by President George W. Bush in August 2001. It barred the National Institutes of Health from funding research on embryonic stem cells beyond using 60 cell lines that existed at that time.

Tony Perkins of the conservative Family Research Council accused the White House of leaking the details Friday night so that the move gets little attention, declaring that it is "a slap in the face to Americans who believe in the dignity of all human life."

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, "Advancements in science and research have moved faster than the debates among politicians in Washington, D.C., and breakthroughs announced in recent years confirm the full potential of stem cell research can be realized without the destruction of living human embryos."

In addition to signing the executive order, Bush twice vetoed legislation -- in July 2006 and June 2007 -- that would have expanded federally funded embryonic stem cell research.

At the time, Bush also argued that scientific advances allowed researchers to conduct groundbreaking research without destroying human embryos. Bush's moves led to Democratic charges that he had put politics over science.

Speaking as someone whose life has been saved by cutting edge technology and experimental surgical procedures in my life, I've been hoping and praying that the world would come to their senses on this issue. It means a lot to me, and even more now than in the past, since I've spent the last ten years counseling camp for children with heart conditions like myself. Over the years, I've seen so many of them die way too young, and I'm just so tired of it. Stem cell research may not be the cure-all to every situation, but I can't help but thinking a lot of these deaths might have been avoided, if these new sciences could have been better pursued here. It shouldn't matter what your stance on abortions is, because they're still going to happen and they're going to keep happening whether we like it or not. It seems more reasonable to me to put any aborted fetuses to use to at least save a life than to let them go to waste.

This whole ban was one of my biggest problems with the Bush administration, and I'll rejoice all day long when the lift is finalized.