Archive for August, 2009

Script – Chapter Two – Cracking the Code

August 18th, 2009 No comments

Chapter Two

So the thing I wanted to discuss about issue two is something so silly and obvious that I think a lot of writers forget to do it. Your script is meant to be a road map for your artist. It’s extremely important that you convey what you’re trying to do in a way that’s clear, concise, and unmistakable for your artist. Your artist spends ten times more time drawing than you do writing. It’s important to make things easy for them to help them work faster, and need fewer redos.

The example in this script, which took me till this script to include, is indicators of the art style for Noel. Obviously the book is drawn in two different styles. For ‘current time’ or ‘reality’ we have a hard line, clean style. For flashbacks/hallucinations we have an inkwash. In the first script, a couple of things happened. First, Noel figured out the stylistic choice that allows us to have these two feels. Secondly, I made sure to point out in detail when I wanted the style to switch.

What become obvious in writing script two was that there was going to be a lot more back and forth, and a short hand was needed. The short hand changed a bit from script to script, but, by clearly marking each panel or page as either IW (ink wash) or HL (hard line), Noel can easily pick the correct paper and tools to quickly move through the art.

Another example of this is my script for Alibi over at Top Cow, with artist Jeremy Haun. While the art was in a single style, the coloring was used to delineate three distinct locales, all running concurrently. So, on the very first page there was a color code, saying that everything marked with an A should be colored with cool blues, everything with a B should be colored in reds and golds, and everything with a C should be colored neutrally.

It has a very techinical feel to it, but, at the end of the day, a comic script is a blueprint. It’s the same as a shooting script for a film. You want to layout in a comfortable amount of detail what you want, while still allowing your collaborators the freedom to contribute to the greater creative good.

Tumor – The Original Pitch

August 10th, 2009 No comments

I normally would hold on to this till later on. But, after looking through it, it’s pretty clear that the pitch and the final book have almost nothing to do with each other. Aside from the core concept, and our lead character, the story, tone, and art are all completely different.

As a pitch, this was a very different experience from my usual pitch. In a general packet, I’ll include a one sheet (which this has), a complete synopsis running three to ten pages, and as much art as I can get together. Generally, ten pages of art is thought of as appropriate. I wrote an early version of the book without doing much research into the medical side of things and with a much inferior knowledge of the city of Los Angeles and it’s history, which are major pieces of how the book functions.

But, what this pitch did right, I think, was it presented the concept and voice of the book in a strong, confident way that caught Stephen Christy’s attention. Interestingly, I’d been dissuaded from working on the book by a few people, and had put it on the shelf. I was meeting with Stephen about some other projects, and as he was flipping through my binder of in progress work, he saw it, read that first paragraph and was instantly hooked. I’m hoping to have Stephen contribute here on the site about his role as acquiring editor, and what drew him to the project.

It was sort of a perfect confluence of events, including my then new agent falling head over heels in love with the project, and making it a personal mission to see it come to life. Along with the kindness of the good folks of Archaia, as well as the exciting deal with Amazon, all of the conditions were right for Noel and I to reteam and create what I think is our very best work.

Here’s the pitch as a PDF document, feel free to post any questions you have and I’ll do my best to answer them!

Categories: Creative Process, Documents Tags:

Tumor Chapter 2 Available for Download Now!

August 6th, 2009 No comments

Keep checking back in the next few days for the online digital version!

Categories: Chapter Two, Promotion Tags:

Foolishly Forgotten

August 3rd, 2009 No comments

So, I write a whole article about the influences you’ll find in Tumor, and forgot probably the biggest one. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. I’ve had a strange journey with this book. By the age of fourteen I was about as die hard a Vonnegut fan as ever there was. Except for S5. Slaughterhouse always felt like it lacked the humanity of his other books, as well as the humor. Even though it provides some of the key connective tissue for the masterwork that is Vonnegut’s complete works, it feels disconnected from the rest of the man’s oeuvre. I’ve revisited it a few times through the years, and was always taken with the technique but not the substance.

Until this last read, just a few months ago. It finally came together for me. For being such an early work of Vonnegut’s, it’s filled from top to bottom with the maturity that fills even his last works. The man was telling a story that was intensely personal, filled with the worst moments of his life, dressed in the clothes of science fiction and fantasy.

I was working my way through the back half of Tumor when I reread Slaughterhouse Five. I think as you see how the book plays out, you’ll see more of the influence through out.

And so it goes.

Categories: Creative Process, Writing Tags:

Where Did It Come From

August 1st, 2009 No comments

A good ol’ nasty review on Amazon reminded me of the post I’ve been intending to make about the four major influences on me that lead to Tumor, each really helping to form the backbone of the story, shape the tone, and give me a direction to follow.

First, and probably foremost, is the 1950 classic D.O.A. directed by Rudolph Mate’ and starring Edmund O’Brien. D.O.A. is quite possibly my favorite of the film noirs for both its simplicity and aching suspense. It’s the story of a man, who is accidentally poisoned, who must spend his last remaining hours trying to solve his own murder. It’s got it’s share of goofy, awkward moments, as any good B picture would, but, what raises it above the others, is a degree of style and grace and just sheer damn inventiveness that drives the story to it’s inevitable conclusion. It also paints a portrait of San Francisco that feels both real, alive, and accurate (even though it’s not quite.)

Secondly, we have Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries. It’s easily my favorite Bergman film, both for it’s straight forwardness (for Bergman, anyways) and for it’s complete portraiture of a man’s life. Over the course of just 91 minutes, you see every mistake, formative event, and final destination of a man, who’s life, he realizes, has been lived in vain. The movie is a man’s journey to death, as his life flashes before our eyes. You’ll find the stylistic blendings between reality and dream that we strive to use in Tumor taken straight from the beautiful cinematography and editing of Bergman’s masterwork. Plus, the stunning performance of Victor Sjöström has that balance between bastard and charming victim that really makes Frank tick.

Third, as our esteemed Amazon reviewer pointed out, is the Singing Detective. Dennis Potter’s amazing mini-series starring Michael Gambon combines elementes of both movies I mentioned above into a dense, beautiful story of a man trapped in his body by an illness with only his imagination and his haunted memories to alleviate the tension. His mind draws him into a fantasy story that’s a sort of dance hall version of a pulp detective story. The Singing Detective is truly one of the great masterpieces of television, and it’s where that core idea of a man dependent on his mind slowly losing it came from for the book.

So here’s the thing. These three very different pieces of film have always felt somehow linked to me. Perhaps because all three are about men on the verge of death, or, fates worse than. All three tell the stories of what it means to have nothing left to lose, and to face the mistakes and disasters that have made us who we are. All three movies have a strong auto-biographical feel (especially the Singing Detective, which sees the lead character afflicted with a more extreme version of what Potter himself suffered from.)

I came up with the idea for Tumor quite a few years ago. What really lit a fire under my ass to get it done was a mysterious condition I developed about three years ago now. I started to lose vision at an alarming rate. It became almost impossible for me to read books, street signs, anything that wasn’t brightly illuminated right in front of my face. And then the headaches started. Crippling, debilitating, real humdingers of torturous pain. I spent the better part of the first year with them curled up in a ball on the couch trying to make it through the day. For a time, I was convinced (as were some of my doctors) that it was neurological in nature. Whatever was causing my problems wasn’t my eyes, but my brain, they told me. And I started to go insane.

Thank god for my wife and friends who stood by me, and gave love and sympathy when I needed it. I spent every minute of that pain terrified that I was going to lose the only thing that makes me special, my ability to think. I was put on various medications for the pain, the headaches, the depression, each making me feel slightly better in one way, while worse in some unknown extra way. I spent every day on that couch wanting to die, just to stop the pain. And, just like Frank, my mind was torn to every mistake, every lost friend, every foolish day wasted, seemingly laughing at me for the mistakes I made.

Once I was finally diagnosed, (it turned out to be a degenrative eye disease combined with a massive allergy to the local plantlife that swarmed around our neighborhood), I went back to work on Tumor. And now, not a year later, I’m proud as hell to share it with y’all.

Categories: Creative Process, Writing Tags: