Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sketchless in Richmond and Back to the Book

It seems that the rush of activity on my accounts at work has subsided a bit for now so this week has been strangely...normal. After several weeks of working weekends and all-nighters, I suddenly find myself working 9-to-5 (ish) days and it's been a bit of a shock to my system. During the day, it's been balls to the wall, so I haven't had any time to draw anything. Which, I suppose, is how a job is supposed to be. But I'm so tired when I get home, the last thing I want to do is sit down at the drawing board. Plus, Suzanne and I have just started a diet and exercise plan (That pic of us Todd posted was alarming...) and our energy levels are looowwwww. Overall, I am feeling better, though. A consequence of the diet has been a marked decrease in my coffee consumption since I can't afford all that extra sugar intake. That's lessened the effect of the 6:00 caffeine-crash I usually suffer. But I have to wonder at the wisdom of starting a diet at the beginning of summer. I'm a beer and barbecue guy and there will have to be none of that for a while.

Since I haven't been drawing (I did a few doodles yesterday and was horrified at how bad they were.), I've decided to take advantage of the situation and make a concerted effort to get back to writing my story. Due to my profession, I'm more comfortable at the computer than at the drawing board anyway. But anyone that tells you that writing is easier than drawing either hasn't done both or is yanking your weenie. Writing is hard work.

I heard some great writing advice once. The writer said that he never stops working at the end of a scene because it's so hard to start working the next day when there's no momentum already going. Great advice that. I made the mistake of finishing a pivotal scene back when work really blew up a couple of months ago and trying to figure out what comes next has been downright maddening. As I've mentioned, knowing a story and telling it are two different things.

I go for walks on my lunch hour whenever possible. Richmond is blessed with some nice, scenic walking routes along the James River and I can get there in minutes from the agency. I used to listen to music on my iPhone while I walked but it became too distracting. I've found that if leave the headphones behind, it frees my mind to work out storytelling problems. I was having trouble even getting a character into a room convincingly. But I think, thanks to my 3 or 4 mile jaunts this week, that I'm over that hump and I can move forward again.

The problem I've having now has to do with mechanics. Writing comics is not writing a novel or a short story. Or a movie. As I walk, I come up with great (IMO) character bits and lines of dialogue and strands of backstory that, once I start typing, I realize just don't fit. There are only so many panels and words that will fit on a page and only so many pages in an issue. My four-issue story has already ballooned to six and now maybe eight issues. Christian has read the first two scripts and said, "Great! I love it! When is something going to happen?" Which is the worst thing an aspiring writer can hear.

Unfortunately, THE HAND ME DOWN HORROR has always been about the characters and their relationships. I really love this group of kids I'm writing about and I think the plot has suffered a bit because of it. I have thought of several things that will punch up the action a couple of notches in the rewrite and, luckily, it won't necessitate a massive overhaul. I'm actually looking forward to that.

Another problem is that Johnny, the "hero" of the story, was beginning to feel like a bit of a cypher. Writing a character that could be you is really not a good idea because you tend to idealize yourself. You can be afraid to show that character's weaknesses because people will see them as your weaknesses. But I've worked out some things that I think will alleviate that issue and make Johnny more interesting as a character. I always loved how J. K. Rowling, who based the character of Hermione on herself, went out of her way to show that Hermione's enthusiasm and brilliance were not always a good thing. She managed to take a character who was almost perfect in every way and make her one of the most endearing and interesting characters in the series. I'm no J. K. Rowling but there are lessons to be learned here.


Another couple of quick things and then I'm going to sign off and take advantage of my weekend off and get some writing done. Suzanne has to go in to work today and it's too damn hot to mow the grass, which is brown and crackly anyway. (We don't have a sprinkler system, alas.)

I recently ordered and received a copy of Screen Archives reissue of James Horner's score from STAR TREK II, THE WRATH OF KHAN. After years of searching, I had finally gotten a copy of the out-of-print release that only had 8 or so tracks from the film. But its brevity was disappointing. This rerelease has everything. Every cue. And it's delightful. The liner notes alone are worth the $19. For instance, I never realized that WRATH was produced as a low-budget movie! Stung by the disappointment of the first film that went horribly over-budget, the studio cut corners all over the place. They recycled effects shots and sets from the first film. They hired TV producer Harve Bennett to produce, virtually untested director Nicholas Meyer to direct and then tapped the nearly unheard-of composer James Horner to do the score because they couldn't afford to have Jerry Goldsmith come back. Against all odds, they managed to put together a team that not only cared about the material but had the talent and passion to put together one of the best genre films ever made. And James Horner's score was a large part of that. This was one of my soundtrack "holy grails" for years (I can't believe the film is nearly 30 years old!) and it still holds up as one of the all-time great film scores. I highly recommend it if you're into this sort of thing. Thank you Screen Archives!

Suze and I saw THE A-TEAM last Saturday night. It ain't high art, but damn it was FUN! If you liked the trailer, you'll love the movie. These guys looked like they had a great time, particularly Bradley Cooper, who never stops grinning.

FUTURAMA is back, baby! Suck it, FOX!

Catch this week's MAN VS. FOOD, if you can. Adam Richmond is in...well...Richmond! I somehow managed to miss seeing him when he was in town filming but I'm really looking forward to seeing where he went when he was here.

Okay, sorry to go on so long with no pix to cut the taste of boolsheet. Have a great weekend.



Warren said...

Stop reading my reply and get back to writing.

(just kidding)

Josh said...

The A-Team movie is awesome! And it's good to see Futurama back. Keep working on that comic book miniseries. I'd like to see it get published.

PJ said...

Saw this today as I was working on something myself. It may give you a few ideas:

Brian said...

On the issue of writing great stuff that just doesn't seem to fit, I think it was Stephen King who gave the best advice for a writer in that situation,"You cannot be afraid to kill your babies."

At least I hope he was talking about writing.

Matt Wieringo said...

Jeez. Two Chinese spambots in one thread?, get your $#*+ fixed!

Anonymous said...


Brian said...

And here I was just thinking that like Godzilla, you are BIG in Japan. ;-)