Saturday, December 31, 2011
So, less than seven hours, 2011 will be over. It was... well, it was a strange one. It was the best year of my life in some ways, the worst in others. As I'm writing this, I'm trying to place how I feel about this year as my fiancee's cats run around the apartment, smashing into blinds, chewing on shoes, bouncing off the bed... and no, they're not even on catnip. They're just wonderfully strange.
I'm leaving this year with a lot more than I had last year. I have twelve publications to my name now, when last year I had... well, none. I have what appears to be a beard growing on my face, which makes me feel more like a writer than any of those publications. I have a fiancee. I have a bit more confidence that I'm going to be able to "make it" as a writer (lame as the phrase "make it" is), and a good deal more frustration that I haven't already.
At this time last year, I was working at Borders and preparing to teach a class at Five Towns College. I stayed at Borders until the bittersweet end in September, when the store closed its doors for good. I'll never really be able to articulate how much I miss Borders... not only my friends there, but the store as a whole. It has been my favorite store since I was eight or nine, and it's left a hole in the book industry that won't easily be filled. But yeah... I do miss all my wonderful co-workers.
And that sexy, sexy discount.
While I was day-jobbing it at Borders, I also worked as an adjunct professor at Five Towns. That's still going on. I teach Screenwriting and Script Writing classes in the spring semester and two Script Writing units in the Fall. Though the list of prose novels that I read this year is literally 1/5th of what I'd conquered last year, I think I read more this year than ever before... because the thing about being a writing professor is that you've got a hell of a lot of screenplays to read through multiple drafts. It was enlightening, rewarding, frustrating, and beautiful to see students grow as writers in my class, and it showed me that maybe I do have a future in teaching. I always thought of my career as "write or nothing." But now, I think I may have to amend that to "writing and..." I'm proud of the classes that I taught, and I'm excited to see what I can improve for next semester.
A student of mine drew this fine example of a storyboard
featuring yours truly
When Borders closed, though, I knew I needed another day job. I applied at all sorts of places until I was finally hired at Barnes and Noble. The pay was the lowest I've ever taken, and it was seasonal, but it was something. It turned out being the worst job I've ever had, but that came to an end today. They called me into the office on Wednesday and informed me that, as of January 1st, none of the seasonal employees (myself and two other really cool people) would be brought back. "You," they told me, "will be the first we call if we need someone to cover a shift!" Then, they expected me to work as scheduled New Years Eve, even though they failed to give me more than three days notice that I'd no longer be employed there. It's this marginalization of employees, seasonal or otherwise, that makes me look back and appreciate my other jobs, no matter how little they paid or how long they lasted. Even McDonalds is shiny in comparison.
But as of today, that's the past. It's behind me, and I already have a job interview lined up. I hope that the days I'll need to have day jobs are numbered, but until I can support myself with no assistance on writing and teaching, I'm going to keep workin' em.
A side note, just because I think everyone needs to know. Westley, a very large cat, is currently swatting at the chair, poking my butt in order to get attention. He's very important, after all.
Angel: Yearbook. Cover by David Messina.
In May, my dream came true. I wrote for Joss Whedon's Angel. My story, "My Only Friend," (illustrated by Stephen Mooney) was included in IDW's final installment of their five year long run on the title, Angel: Yearbook. I owe thanks to Chris Ryall, Scott Tipton, Stephen Mooney (of course), Dan Roth, and Mariah Huehner for making that dream come to beautiful fruition.
It was also great to see the story reprinted in the massive Angel: The End hardcover (pictured above), with a beautiful cover by Jenny Frison.
Grimm Fairy Tales Holiday Edition 2011. Cover by Stjepan Sejic.
Determined to use my story as a stepping stone to a career in comics, I contacted Zenescope Entertainment and have since worked with editor Ralph Tedesco on a number of projects. My first release with Zenescope hit shelves a week and a half ago. I wrote the 2011 Holiday Edition of their flagship title, Grimm Fairy Tales from a plot by Ralph Tedesco, based on Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I'm incredibly proud of how it came out.
Double page spread from GFT: Holiday 2011. Art by Anthony Spay.
I got to work with a handful of wonderful artists, who brought out the sweetness and the horror in this story in big ways.
I also wrote five stories for their 1000 Ways to Die graphic novel, which should come out a few weeks into 2012.
I spent a lot of 2011 pitching, making connections, and assembling teams for creator owned projects. I'm working on more than ten pitches for graphic novels and comic books right now, and I hope to see a few of them released next year. I'm confident in the work I've been creating, more so than ever - and I'm thrilled to be working with such brilliant, brilliant artists.
Page from Blood Pong #1. Art by Ian McGinty.
Promo art for PLAYGROUND, an original graphic novel
with art by Matt Roscetti.
2011 was the year of the short story for me. Between May and August, I wrote about two stories every week. I am currently recycling a bunch of these ideas into comic book projects, so more people will be able to see them, but I loved working with small presses such as Pill Hill Press, Rainstorm Press, and May December Publications on these strange pieces of prose. I really let loose and played with bigger ideas that I've always wanted to tackle in some way, and I think a lot of them came out really nicely. There are a few glaring typos, some from editors and some from me, in the earliest of the volumes, but that simply makes me want to be more attentive to the mechanics of proofreading.
I already have another short story set for publication next year, but I'll talk about that a bit closer to the release date.
A good chunk of my year was spent with the lovely folks of the Amios Company. I wrote six short plays for Shotz, their monthly festival of short plays, and a thirty minute play called Rosary which was performed five times in December for their LongShotz event.
From Rosary (Jennifer Le Blance, Alanna Wilson). Photography by Gregg Le Blanc.
There is really nothing like seeing your work performed live by people more talented than you can begin to imagine. I love all of these actors and directors, and look forward to another very Shotzy year.
Game Face, a play I co-created with Tanya Everett and Clinton Lowe, received a staged reading on my birthday. It had a few bumps, but it showed me that all of those bumps are worth working with people as creative and talented and badass as Tanya and Clinton. To the future.
I wrote - get this - literary critique. I know, right? Weird. Five of my academic articles are going to be published in Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion: the TV Series, the Movies, the Comic Books, and More: The Essential Guide to the Whedonverse. I've never been in a book with so many colons, but I'm excited to branch out into (completely) uncharted territory in my writing. I hope to do more of this kind of work in 2012, because... well, it was a lot more fun writing scholarly articles than I could have imagined. Maybe I'm itchin' to be an English student again, who knows?
Also, I wrote the index for Brian Cogan's upcoming book, Deconstructing South Park. More info on that when it comes out. It has the sweetest index you've ever not read, I promise.
Sadly, my film company Stinky Burger Productions called it quits this year. Steve Wisnowski (President) and I are still planning on releasing our feature film, Besiegement! next year (now that we're able to edit it again), but SBP will no longer produce short films. Perhaps, in the future, there will be something else down the line. But for now... it was a good ride.
I wrote a short film called The Sucker for director Katie Carman (Eat Me, Off Season). I like describing it as "American Beauty with the chupacabra." Hopefully, in a few months, you'll see what I'm talking about.
Had some good times with friends. Took my girlfriend to Mohonk, the most beautiful place in the world. Got engaged. Fell deeper in love. Spent a lot of time with my favorite person. Witnessed a miracle. Read some really, really good comics (here's looking at you, The Saga of the Swamp Thing, Nick Spencer, and Scott Snyder). Discovered a really, really good author (hi, Patrick Rothfuss). Opening up my own checking account. Opened up a joint savings account. Again, grew a beard.
Erica took this picture of me
before answering the question.
Thanks to everyone who enjoyed this year with me. Thanks to Erica. Thanks to my mom, dad, and the rest of my family. Thanks to Chris, Antwon, Charlotte, Rachel, Brian, Steve, Jenna, Kristina, and everyone else I saw on Christmas eve. Thanks to Tanya and Clinton. Thanks to Kibibi, a wonderfully talented woman who was unfortunately taken from us just a few days ago. Thanks to Scott, Brian, Mooney, Ryall, Jay, Ralph Tedesco, Suzanne Robb, Brian Cogan, Pill Hill Press, Rainstorm Press, May December Publications, the BiblioBabes, and everyone else who helped elevate my career. Thanks to Ian McGinty, Matt Roscetti, Jon Roscetti, Mike Hamlett, and everyone else I'm developing creator owned properties with. Thanks to Massey. Thanks to all of my students who put in the effort to learn, as well as those that pushed me to be better. Thanks to Rob Hille, Alanna Wilson, Jennifer Le Blanc, Zach Evenson, Kristy Powers, Mike Fulvio, Christian Haines, and everyone else who brought Shotz and LongShotz to life. Thanks to the cutest cats in the world, Cleese, Deanna, Westley, and Dagny. Thanks to Shannon, Ian, Sean, and... yeah, getting lazy, thanks to everyone who worked at Borders. Thanks to Scott Snyder, Nick Spencer, and Alan Moore - the work of these three writers pushed me to push myself this year. Thanks to everyone who made me think, made me love, and made me work. If I forgot your name, it's because I'm tired and anxious to spend New Years Eve the best way possible... doing absolutely nothing.
I want to write more than I wrote this year. I want to publish more than I published this year. I want to spend time with more people that I love, I want to keep falling more and more in love with Erica, I want to exercise, I want to lose weight, and I want to try new things. I want to get a book deal. I want to create. And, as lame as resolutions can be, I'm going to start working on these tomorrow morning.
Happy New Year.
Friday, December 30, 2011
With one day left in the year, I'm a week behind in my weekly comic book reviews. It's the holidays, though, so what can I say? Instead of this week's round of Comic Book Wednesday, I've decided to do a bit of an awards show.
Eh, who am I kidding? One ginger's opinionated ramblings do not an awards show make. Here's a run down of my favorite comics this year, as well as some stuff from years past that I think you should give a look at.
The Comic Book Wednesday 2011 Not-Really-Awards Awards
Best Ongoing Series - Mainstream
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo
This is absolutely no contest. While DC's New 52 changes have forced my formerly favorite title (Supergirl) to the bottom of my pull list, Batman was left unscathed by this shiny new universe. In fact, with Scott Snyder at the wheel, this revamp of Batman is the best on-going title I've had the pleasure to read all year. Snyder's Bruce Wayne is intelligent, calculating, flawed, human, obsessed, and entertaining as all hell. While more than six titles feature Batman as a lead character, do not let this one get lost in the shuffle. Scott Snyder is the Batman writer to follow.
Best Ongoing Series – Indie
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Joe Eisma
Again, not much of a contest here. Image, Vertigo, Avatar, IDW, Zenescope, and (especially) Archaia are putting out great creator-owned series, but the sheer quality of Nick Spencer's magnum opus is what, as a creator, I personally aspire to. The dialogue is perfect; the characters are alternately intriguing, amazing, and despicable; and the plot, as mind-fuckey as it is, creates the most interesting fictional setting since Lost. Nothing but praise for this series.
Best Ongoing Series - Media
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine
Written by Joss Whedon & Andrew Chambliss
Art by Georges Jeanty
Dark Horse Comics
It's an understatement to say that Buffy: Season Eight got a bit wacky, but Joss Whedon managed to reel his imagination in and start this new season of comics with a story that was as true to the characters as any episode of the original show. It's still early in the series (we're currently four issues in), but this has already moved back to the very top of my pull list.
Best Miniseries – Indie
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by David Lopez
I'm not sure if this can really count as indie, because Marvel puts out CrossGen books, but this is about as far as you can get away from your normal superhero fare. G. Willow Wilson's tale of magic, privilege, friendship, and class was two parts Harry Potter, one part Victorian, and fully awesome. With the best art and some of the wittiest writing of the year, I hope that this will return with the same creative team for a long, long run.
Best Miniseries – Mainstream
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Andy Kubert
I was going back and forth between this and Nick Spencer's Spider-Island: Cloak and Dagger. I'm still not 100% sure that I've made the right choice, but here's why I settled on Geoff Johns' Flashpoint... despite all the shit that it's gotten. This series has a lot of build-up and not much action to pay it off, but what it does have is more emotional payoff than I've seen in this medium. By the time I finished this series, I was a shivering mess - and I applaud Geoff Johns for that. It heralded the end of a universe, but for Barry Allen, it was the end of the hope that he'd be able to save his mother's life. It's that core of the series that makes this mini so much stronger than people give it credit for.
Best Miniseries - Media
Written by Scott Tipton & Mariah Huehner
Art by Elena Casagrande
It might be cheating a bit because I ended up working on IDW's Angel and Scott is a friend, but I'll be damned if this wasn't one of the best books of the year. This series, which is mostly a team-up between Spike and Illyria, has a perfect balance of action, emotion, and humor - basically, it's everything that Angel the TV show was at its best. Also, it's pretty ballsy, considering the character-altering changes made to a licensed character. I'm not sure if we'll ever get another Illyria series, but it's good to know that the comics finally lived up to the standard that Whedon set with "Not Fade Away" and Brian Lynch set with the stunning climax to his "Angel: After the Fall" arc.
Best One Shot – Mainstream
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by RB Silva and DYM
This was my first introduction to Nick Spencer, and I've since powered through his entire impressive catalogue. Hilarious and heartfelt, this one-shot collects and finishes the stories that Spencer began in Action Comics. It focuses on (obviously) Jimmy Olsen, Superman's pal. I hope this gets collected in some sort of trade, because if I read this oversized issue once more, it's going to fall apart.
Best One Shot – Indie
Gotta be honest here. I haven't read any indie one-shots this year except for a few that it would be totally douchey to list. I read Scott Tipton's ANGEL: THE COVERS, which is great... but it's an art book. Tim Seeley gave me a one-shot of his at NYCC, but that's not from this year. It would be totally pretentious to even mention my Grimm Fairy Tales one shot, and it would be pandering to Zenescope to list their one shots that I read (and really enjoyed, particularly Dan Wickline's SINBAD stuff). I really enjoyed THE BEAUTY from Top Cow's PILOT SEASON event, but that is effectively the first issue in (hopefully) a series. So I fail. Instead, I'm going to leave this blank and ask you guys what indie one-shots you'd recommend to me.
Best One Shot – Media
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Michelangleo
Written by Brian Lynch
Art by Andy Kuhn
To get an idea of why this comic is listed here, check out this preview of the issue. This book just came out last two days ago, and I've already read it through twice... because it's really just that good. Brian Lynch, who wrote Angel: After the Fall and the creator-owned Everybody's Dead through IDW, has been scripting one-shots focusing on the Turtles since November. He began with Raphael, and then finished out 2011 with this issue that features Mikey attending a New Years Eve party and... and, well, getting into some deep shit. It's hilarious, a bit cute, and pretty damn fun. Can't think of a better book for both new and longtime Turtles fans.
Best New Series – Mainstream
Justice League Dark
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Mikel Janin
You won't find such an assortment of wonderfully tortured, criminally interested characters in one book anywhere else in comics. While I think these characters should also have their own books, their team-up is one of the other good aspects of DC's New 52. The book is clever, creative, and - most importantly - different from everything else out there. If you're looking for a comic that satisfies both your superhero cravings and that small part of you that loves being creeped the hell out, this is your book.
Best New Series – Indie
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Christian Ward
Though it only came out a few times in 2011, this book is one of the best new creator owned properties since American Vampire and iZombie. It's got all of the humor and what-the-fuckness that Nick Spencer always offers, but what makes this series go above-and-beyond is Ward's beautiful art. Just open one these issues in a comic shop and I dare you to leave the store empty-handed. Utterly gorgeous, even (especially) when it's so terrifying it makes you squirm.
Best New Series - Media
Written by Erik Burnham
Art by Dapper Dan Schoening
I had a couple of ways I may have gone for this. I'm loving Buffy: Season Nine, Angel & Faith, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Brian Wood's Supernatural... but this comic does something very rare. I'm still scared that Ghostbusters fans might seek me out and stab me to death, but at just five issues, I already like this comic better than the movies. It's brilliant. Brilliant. The dialogue is the best Ghostbusters comics have ever seen, incredibly interesting things are being done with the characters, and Burnham is embracing all of the Ghostbusters tropes while also paving his own way. And that, my friends, is everything a tie-in comic should aspire to be.
The Adventures of Superhero Girl
Written and drawn by Faith Erin Hicks
I joined the party late, but I think I'm sticking around until everyone else is long gone. Yeah, gonna be that guy. This is one of those excellent comics that you visit for a few laughs... and before you know it, you've gobbled up the entire thing and you're late to do that super important thing that you now realize wasn't nearly as important as spending your day reading this excellent strip.
Chris Roberson's amazing entertaining creator-owned book iZombie is one of my favorite series, so I had to give this to Mike Allred. His retro-inspired art is perfect for this book, adding to the off-kilter tone that Roberson plays both up and against. More than any other artist this year, Allred's style kept me lingering on each panel a bit longer than necessary. I hope he and Roberson stay on this underrated book for a long, long time.
Best Cover Artist
(Angel, House of Night, I Vampire, Hack/Slash)
For me, there's no better cover artist working in comics. She's distinctive, consistent, so wonderfully strange in her concepts, and... well, the work speaks for itself. When it's not utterly terrifying, it's painfully beautiful. Jenny has been getting more work lately than I've been capable of tracking, and no one deserves it more. I can't think of a single other cover artist whose books I will buy just for the cover - but her work is just that good.
(American Vampire, Batman, Swamp Thing)
Scott Snyder and Nick Spencer's work really defined my reading schedule this year. However, it's Snyder's inspiration posts about the craft of writing, his pitch perfect scripts, consistency and intriguing ideas that pushed him (slightly, because I love me some Nick Spencer) to the top for me. This is a man who, after this year, has gotten me hooked. He's joined the ranks of Alan Moore, Brian K. Vaughan, Joss Whedon, and Nick Spencer in the I'm Going to Buy Everything They Write No Matter What club. It's because the books are great, yes, but also because Snyder's phenomenal work makes me want to be a better writer. And what else can a guy ask for?
Just for kicks, here are a few other recommendations.
An Elegy for Amelia Johnson. Written by Andrew Rostan. Art by Dave Valeza and Kate Kasenow.
Fly. Written by Raven Gregory. Art by Eric J.
Hack/Slash. Written by Tim Seeley.
Growing-Up Comic. Written and drawn by Matt Roscetti.
The God Machine. Written and drawn by Chandra Free.
27: First Set AND 27: Second Set. Written by Charles Soule. Art by Renzo Podesta.
All right, friends. See you next week for another set of reviews for Comic Book Wednesday.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
I've been slacking on the reviews, so here's a big round-up of the last few weeks of comic book goodness.
- Memorial #1
Chris Roberson's new creator owned series was one of my most anticipated reads of this month. iZombie, his Vertigo series, is one of the best books on stands, so I was expecting this book to deliver... big time. It delivered, sure, but I'm not as hooked as I expected to be. I'm certainly going to buy the trade (or, knowing IDW, the big beautiful hardcover), but I'm not convinced that this book is going to keep me coming back on a monthly basis for the floppies. I love Roberson's writing and I want to see him keep putting out great material, so I'm reserving judgement of this series until the second issue.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5
Last issue, Raph was reunited with his brothers, and this issue spends a lot of time showing how these four are going to function as a unit. However, the most interesting aspect reveals why these Teenage Mutant Turtles are... well, Ninjas. We get a surprisingly intense flashback to Feudal Japan that reveals the four turtles, Splinter, and even Shredder were reincarnated from past lives. The series ends with a sweet, very Christmassy moment that shows Splinter giving all four turtles their own (differently colored) mask, while also giving an in-text reason for the wearing of the red. It simultaneously embraces the original comics and the cartoon, and that is, I think, the best route to take this comic. Loving it.
- Ghostbusters #4
So, about loving things. The first storyline comes to a climatic conclusion in this issue. While some fans have complained about this being a retread of the first movie, what this series has been doing is developing and expanding upon the mythology that made the first flick as awesome as it was. The quippy dialogue and tone are all present here, but Dapper Dan is given the chance to really flex his penciller muscles for the action scenes. So, so good.
- Batman #4
Scott Snyder's Batman continues to be the best superhero book on the market. The mystery of the Court of Owls deepens. Bruce is put at odds with Dick and, seemingly, everyone else in his life as he continues his war against this mysterious group (and sleep). With 2011 coming to a close, I can now say that this is easily the best of the New 52. As a side note, though, I'd like more of an idea of where Damian is through all of this, as he is very present (and rightfully so) in every moment of the Batman & Robin series.
- Batgirl #4
Opening with a terrifying image of Batgirl once again bound to a chair, this comic doesn't let up. While I'm still not sold on Mirror's hokey M.O., no matter how nicely it ties into Barbara's character arc, this issue is bursting at the seams with character moments. Sweet, smart, and loaded with kick-ass action, the fourth issue of Batgirl proves to be another solid installment.
- Batman & Robin #4
The slow boil of this series really, really intrigues me. While I'm getting tired of the repeated image of Damian killing little creatures to show how disturbed he is, the visuals here are almost always great. There's a wonderful scene where Damian visits the Waynes' graves just to tell them how much of a stubborn ass their son is. The villain named Nobody (fan of classical literature, maybe?) is interesting as hell, and has a very theme-centric M.O. that, unlike that of Mirror's, completely works. So interested to see where this is going.
- Nightwing #4
Higgins takes a break from the main story arc and follows up on the Batgirl/Nightwing crossover from last month's issue of Batgirl. They have a fun dynamic, but the exchanges between the characters don't sing the way they do when penned by Gail Simone. This comic has been mostly fun to read, but I think it's time to drop the monthly and wait for the trade.
- Birds of Prey #4
Continuously the biggest surprise of the New 52. The characters are great, the action is great, the plot is great, the writing is great, and the tone is... you get the point. Beat for beat, this is second only to Snyder's Batman in the DCnU... and this is the best issue yet. I have questions about Batgirl's sudden desire to play in the BoP sandbox, what with her stance in #1, but I'm surely sticking around for the longrun to see all of my questions answered. Oh, and Starling needs her own series, stat.
- Justice League #4
The decompression has gotten completely out of control. The last five pages consist of two double page spreads and a full page reveal... but each image accomplishes the same effect. It's done either to take up page space or to give the comic a cinematic feel, the latter of which is a good idea, but it just doesn't work. While the action in the comic is decent, none of these issues aside from #3 have lived up to what a Justice League comic should be. Hell, the story is so flimsy that it doesn't live up to what a comic focusing on any of the given JL heroes should be. If you're looking for a good example of why Geoff Johns is one of the best writers in comics, a game of "anywhere but here" might be in order. Aquaman is great, Green Lantern is great... but this is just twenty one pages a month of unfulfilled potential.
- Green Lantern #4
Really, really solid. In Geoff Johns' hands, Sinestro is one of the most complex characters in superhero comics. He's beginning to give off a bit of a Severus Snape vibe, what with his loyalties split and his spoiled morality challenged, and I can't wait to see what Johns is going to do with him in the longrun. It seems that he's keeping both Hal and Sinestro as Lanterns, which has the potential to be a fantastic team. If #1-4 are evidence of what is to come, this book will no squander that potential.
- Supergirl #4
It's a lot better than last month, but... I just can't bring myself to care very much. The art is great and the writing is competent, but we're not given enough of Kara as a character to care much about what she's going through. There is way too much focus on Tycho as a villain so early on, and it's taking page time away from the development of Supergirl herself. She's my favorite character in the old DCU, so I'm in it for the long run, but this book has sadly fallen to the very bottom of my pull list.
Wonder Woman #4
Devastating and epic. That's mostly what this book is. There's a club scene with Wonder Woman and Strife trying to let off some steam, but we spend so much time with other people talking about what Wonder Woman is doing and with Strife being creepy that we really don't get the chance to see what Wonder Woman is doing in this club. Is she trying to distract herself? Is it working? I love the idea of her letting off steam, but I'd rather see how she does it than to see others reacting to her doing it. That may've come out wrong. Anyway, the stuff back of Paradise Island is horrific and shocking, and easily overcomes the flaws inherent in the presentation of other scenes. This is a really slick book, and I'll be sticking with it as long as Azzarello is on it.
- The Ray #1
This is a fun new series from the writers who made Power Girl awesome. The writing is bright, cheery, and quirky... and then pitch black dark by the end. It's a strange, strange read, but I'll be back to see where two of my favorite creators take this new hero.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine #4
This is everything that a finale to a first arc of a comic book "season" should be. It finishes the story while building on the overarching plot of the season, it's emotional without being too much too soon, it gives new characters page time without taking away from the established/oldies but goodies, it ends with a twist that doesn't come off as shock value for shock value's sake, it's funny, it's true to the show that it's continuing, and it's just very, very good. I'm really digging Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs' work on Angel & Faith, but Buffy: Season Nine is just completely nailing it on the writerly front. Now, if only we could get Isaacs on this title...
I won this through a really strange Facebook contest. The APE Facebook page posted that the first five people to call a certain editor would be given a free comic. I called, talked to the dude (nice guy) who was surprised that anyone saw that, and was subsequently shipped this comic. It's a western kung-fu horror that is surprisingly readable. It takes a few pages longer than necessary to really get going, but the book banks on the likability of the characters. And then, it kills them as all hell breaks the fuck loose. It's a horrific book with enough blood to have the names Ennis or Millar attached, so I'd encourage fans of good ol' blood splatterin' horror to pick this one up.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Saturday was the closing performance of Long Shotz: Departures. My half-hour play, ROSARY, went up five times as a part of this event, and I'm not really sure how to go about describing my experience. Yeah, I know, I'm a writer so I'm supposed to be good at the whole words thing, but... well, sometimes words don't make the shapes you want them to.
I started working the Amios, the theatre group that put together Long Shotz on their monthly project: Shotz. On the first Monday of every month, they put on a show of six short plays. The plays are hilarious, moving, and, more often than not, really fucking good. I first joined these fine folks in December 2010. Rob Hille directed by play Jelly Pants, which starred Jennifer Le Blanc (who I knew prior staged readings), Alanna Wilson, and Dan Balkin. It was about a girl (alive), her sister (ghost), and her date (confused). Also Christmas. Rob and the cast really impressed me with... well, how much better the performance was than the actual script. Humbling, that.
Fast forward to nowish. Since then, I've written a hell of a lot of short plays for Shotz (Shadow Freude vs. Captain Happy Socks; Lesbianism isn't Contagious, You're Just Gay; Bargaining with Dragons; Furry Cuffs; and The Moment that Something Slips Your Mind). I was thrilled to be invited to participate in their Long Shotz event (six half an hour plays, half of 'em about leaving NYC forever, and the other half about arriving in NYC) and knew that I wanted to gather the folks that made Jelly Pants so good. Rob Hille, director and miracle man, worked with me throughout, making the script stronger with his brilliant ideas. I was lucky enough to have Jennifer Le Blanc and Alanna Wilson, two of the best actresses in the city, giving life to my words again. And then, there's Zach Evenson. This fine gentleman took a character that could've been... well, could've been a cardboard cutout and made him into a human. And, as Zach himself once said, "kind of a goober."
Rosary is about... well, putting childish things away. It's about realizing who you are, realizing how you've changed, wondering what Old You would think of Now You, and asking yourself the important question: "Am I a good person?" The play is very, very close to my heart, and probably the most personal thing I've done in theatre. Granted, it's about lesbians and priest, and I can't really say that I'm either of those, but it's still a big piece of me. Hell, it's a lot more than a piece. So I guess the whole point of this blog is to thank Rob, Jennifer, Alanna, and Zach for doing such a lovely job. I'm going to miss seeing this play go up - so I'm going to submit it like hell to everyone who will read it. Let's see if we can get this thing produced again.
While it was thrilling to see such brilliant people deliver my words, it was also great to see the other five plays that made up LongShotz (both Arrivals and Departures). The other two Departures plays were The Counter Offer and Whatever Happened to Baby Ngozi? The Counter Offer was laugh out loud funny and the cast (Justin Yorio, Kelli Crup, and Jenna Panther) had the incredible chemistry it took to sustain the energy and humor. Whatever Happened boasts Michael Fulvio's best performance - and trust me, that's saying a lot - and introduced me to Rob Robinson, who kicked a lot of ass. Also, best use of a scarf in a play.
The Arrivals show, which I finally caught last night, was just as great. It kicks off with Imogene Byrd's One Step Beyond, which examines the tediousness of marriage and motherhood in a surprising and fresh way. Then we get to Little China, a play about lurches, jerks, cats, and lesbians (I sense a theme...) written by Justin Yorio, who shows that he isn't just one of the funniest actors in theatre... he's also a damn good writer. The night ends on a somber, weird, hilarious, and moving note with P. Seth Bauer's The Very True Chronicles of Aloysius the Traveller, in the Great Land of New York City. The writing is great, moving at an incredible pace from balls out ridiculous to quietly pensive with surprising grace. Christian Haines, the mastermind behind amios, plays a damn good insane traveller/Christ figure. The play perplexes in ways both humorous and philosophical, and... well, I wish I was able to see it more than just the once.
I'll try to not make this pretentious, but if you want to see amazing theatre, check out amios. I'm not just saying that because I've written for them. I keep going back to them because these folks are talented, consistent, and overall damn wonderful.
Now, off to write. And grade. And do the holiday thing. Oh joy.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Grimm Fairy Tales Holiday 2011 - Cover B by Stjepan Sejic
I'm a bit of a sap. I've always loved holiday specials. I think it may have started with the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Angel, taunted by the ghosts of those he has murdered, attempts to end his life. It was a powerful episode, that simultaneously embraced the tropes of the "holiday special" while also flying in the face of stereotypical holiday cheer. Roswell also did Christmas episodes really well.
I guess it was only a matter of time before I tried my hands at a holiday special.
Cover A by Mike Debalfo
In a bit less than two weeks, my issue of Grimm Fairy Tales hits the shelves of comic books everywhere. For those who are unfamiliar with the series, Grimm Fairy Tales is the long-running flagship title of Zenescope Entertainment. The series and its many spin-offs are populated with rich characters that play roles in an intricate mythology that incorporates the realms of Myst (essentially Fairie Land), Oz, Wonderland, Neverland, and Earth.
I wrote this year's giant sized holiday special, which features some of the Grimm characters in very interesting roles. It's a horror comic, and we really go for the scares... but it's also one of the most romantic things I've written.
Page 14. Art by Reno Maniquis.
Here's the solicit: Zenescope presents a very special Grimm Fairy Tales version of a Christmas Carol. Sela puts her own spin on the classic holiday tale while trying to teach a future princess of Myst a valuable lesson.
You can pre-order the comic here, or simply visit your local comic shop on Wednesday, 12/21. It's been incredibly exciting working on this book, and I think the story came out cool. Let me know if you agree!