Monthly Archives: October 2012

31 Days of Post Day 31: The Finale! and Now Onto NaNoWriMo?

Yes! I made it! I managed to post something every day for the entire month of October. I’m, honestly, quite pleased with myself over this. But enough of this small accomplishment. Let us now turn our attention to something else. Something a little more ambitious.

I’m talking about National Novel Writing Month. If I decide to participate, this will be my first NaNoWriMo. But I really don’t know if I want to participate or not.

See, there is just something about the whole idea of writing a single novel in a month that bugs me. Now, I will not deny that there are a lot of very fast writers out there (Ian Fleming comes to mind).

But still, what if a writer is slow. Or has a full time job? Can they meet the 50,000 word threshold? Should they be held to it?

The one thing that intrigues me about NaNoWriMo is the fact that it does push a writer to their limits. How much writing can be done in a day? How good will it be?

So maybe I’ll participate. And maybe I’ll just work at my own pace. I, personally, think the best writing is done year round.

All of that said, I don’t know if I’ll post something tomorrow or take a few days off. While posting everyday has been fun, I am in need of a break.

And Happy Halloween!

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31 Days of Post Day 30: Marvel Now! Point One Review

For everyone dealing with Hurricane Sandy, my thoughts are with you. Stay safe.

Now, on to the review. Marvel Now! Point One is a oneshot preview featuring six series coming from Marvel over the next few months. I’m going to break this review up into six pieces, focusing on each individual story. I will also approach this in publication order. So let’s begin.

“It’s Art!” by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred (Previewing FF)

Of the six stories, this one has got to be the weakest. The problem is very simple. The theme is horribly distorted by the narrative and the art.

This story features Ant-Man, Scott Lang, launching the first salvo in his revenge against Doctor Doom for the murder of his daughter, Cassie/ Stature.

Now, this could have been an excellent story. But really, defacing a painting of Doom just seems juvenile. Even if it does make sense in context.

Now, I’m not a fan of Mike Allred’s art. It just seems too pop art. I just don’t like it. And it really does not fit in well with the overall theme of the story. And the coloring is equally problematic, in my opinion. Too bright and cheery.

“Crazy Enough” by Dennis Hopeless and Gabriel Hernandez Walta (Previewing Cable and X-Force)

I honestly don’t know about this one. The story really didn’t do anything for me.

The real strength of this particular story is the art.

And the cliffhanger splash page is awesome.

“The New World” by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Mike Norton (Previewing Young Avengers)

For those who read my post yesterday, you will know that I am freaking loving this entry. The critical consensus (of which I agree) points out this particular story as by far the best of the six.

The writing is amazing. I will admit that I was more interested in Wiccan in Hulkling when the new Young Avengers announcement came out.

But after reading this, I am as psyched for Miss America and Loki. I mean really  psyched. Miss America Chavez has become one of my favorite characters in all of ten pages or so. And Loki, oh, I just love Kid Loki. I need to go out and hunt down Gillen’s Journey into Mystery run. Like right now.

I’ve read this story four times now and I still get flutters of excitement.

The art is amazing. I especially like the action sequence. The violent breakup of the panels when Miss America tries to shove Loki into a hibachi is really amazing. I love that. As I said yesterday, if that is what readers have to look forward to, then I am drooling in anticipation.

The only issue I have is that the subsequent action page is more standard. I would, honestly, have liked to see that panel sequence be as innovative as the former page.

And of course that conclusion with Loki breaking the fourth wall and presenting the Young Avengers flyer.

Damn I am there!

“NYSE” by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross (Previewing Secret Avengers)

This story is, honestly and unfortunately, hampered by being the framing narrative.

Despite that, I actually did enjoy this story.

Nick Fury, Jr. and Agent Coulson are very well drawn and engaging characters. And the subtle interplay between threat and humor is well done.

And I especially enjoyed the art on this one.

But does this one really get me excited for Secret Avengers?

“Diamondhead” by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness (Previewing Nova)

This new Nova is a douche. I just really do not find him a character that I want to read about.

And the fight, though interesting, is a little forced, I think. It’s main purpose is to show that this new Nova is largely inexperienced and obviously not the more noted one.

But it really does nothing for me.

The art is pretty good, but not spectacular.

“‘Guardians of the Galaxy” by Brian Bendis and Steve McNiven (Previewing Guardians of the Galaxy)

I have to say I really liked this story, too. I didn’t expect to, but I did.

This brief origin story of Star Lord is extremely well done and executed. The human moment transitioning into a scifi/ horror moment is just well done. I felt the strangeness and despair that Peter Quill has to be going through. Even as there are no dialogue or captioning in the later pages.

And that cliffhanger, awesome.

The art on this one is rather workmanlike. But okay.

My one issue is the inconsistency between translating and not the alien language.  But that is it.

 

So, how well do the previews work for me?

Well, clearly I am far more into Young Avengers than any of the others. But let’s focus on the other ones.

Of the remaining five, I would most be interested in checking out Guardians of the Galaxy, Secret AvengersCable and X-ForceNova, and FF. In that order.

In the end, has Marvel Now! Point One been effective in what it set out to do? I would say yes.

31 Days of Post Day 29: The Art of Comic Books

Thinking about all of the writing I’ve done on comic books, I’ve realized that I have neglected discussions of the art. When it comes to comics, I’ve tended to focus near exclusively on the writing. But the art is as important to a comic book’s success as the writing. Indeed. Great art can cover bad writing. But good writing can’t cover bad art.

So, going forward, I need to try and make a commitment to pay as much attention to the art as I do the writing.

Now, I have been thinking more about the role of art in comic books. Especially with my interest in the process by which comic books are made.

One thing I realized is that the art can inform the feel or personality of a series.

Take for example American Vampire. Rafael Albuquerque’s art style heightens the gothic and horror elements of the writing.

Clearly from that paragraph, I really don’t have the right words to express what I mean. But hopefully, you get the idea (and I’ll try to revisit this topic soon with more depth).

As I think more about art, I realize that there is a large gap in my knowledge that I need to fill. So, I guess I’m off to looking for more art books to expand my knowledge.

And next time, I’ll have a review of Marvel Now! Point One. Here’s a little preview: If “The New World” is anything to go by, Young Avengers is going to be freaking awesome! I mean awesome! That action sequence is amazing! If it weren’t for me missing three issues of Earth 2, I’d hop in a time machine and head to January 23. Damnit, I can’t wait!

31 Days of Post Day 28: Adios X-Play and Attack of the Show

I will try my hardest to avoid turning this post into my usual rant when television channels begin to decline into the horrors of new directions. I’ve complained about the changes to Bravo (from the near avant garde arty channel to reality crap), A&E ( commercialized PBSesque fare to syndication procedural and reality crap), Discovery (where do I even begin?), and History (I want history not Pawn Stars). Now, I must place G4 on this list.

Why? Why not? Honestly, I should have added them to the list long ago. G4 was at its absolute best when it was dedicated to games and gamer culture. Now, it is little more than repeats of tired old television with little reminiscent of its former glories.

Over the past few years, all that remained of G4’s tech and gamer personality rested in Attack of the Show and X-Play. I loved X-Play. Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb were amazing. And I loved their reviews. But times change.

And now, both shows will be gone with the new year. And with it, what was once G4.

So, what will the new G4 be like? My bet will be something far worse than it is now. Whether or not that worse will be more successful, I don’t know nor care. G4 has been moving increasing in the direction of Spike TV, even as Spike has become more like G4 (okay, only during E3 and some video game award show).

To be honest, I haven’t watched G4 regularly in years. Where a channel is located in the lineup is key. If G4 were easily available (carried as part of a basic or extended package), maybe it would be more successful. I watched it regularly when I had easy access. But now, no.

I’ve been described as a stick in the mud. And occasionally, that description is apt. I don’t care how much more successful Bravo or A&E are now that they are purveyors of cheap crap. I liked them better when they were dedicated to the arts and entertainment. And I miss the G4 that was totally dedicated to gamer and geek culture.

It sucks and I hate ratings. Why must ratings ruin everything?

31 Days of Post Day 27: Three Reviews; John Carter, Mockingbird Lane, and The Rhetorics of Fantasy

Instead of wasting my time, and yours, on doing three negative reviews over the course of three posts, I’ve decided for a three in one today. Besides that, I really don’t want to review any single one of them for that long. Let’s begin, shall we?

John Carter

Think Conan the Barbarian (2011) when it comes to this film. Only somewhat worse. I honestly struggled to sit through this movie. Indeed, I had to take frequent walk breaks to endure it.

Now, the visuals are beautiful. The world of Barsoom is just wonderfully done. From the landscapes to the urban settings, excellent usage of computer graphics and set design.

But visuals alone do not make a great movie. Or even an enjoyable one.

The plot is just really bad. Now remember, I had intended on actually reading A Princess of Mars before I got tired of it. So the fact that John Carter’s plot is less than engaging is no surprise for me.

The acting is also an issue. Why is it that so often science fiction and fantasy movies have to have fairly atrocious acting? Of course, it could be the writing. .

Mind you, the leads are nice to look at. But a good movies does not equate to solely drooling over the lead of your choice (though I do love Taylor Kitsch’s costume).

Mockingbird Lane

I really wanted to like this Halloween special. I really did. While I like The Addams Family considerably more than The Munsters, I hoped that Mockingbird Lane would be more successful than the most recent attempt to bring back The Addams Family to television.

Boy am I wrong. Mockingbird Lane, though at times funny and entertaining, is seriously hampered by really bad acting. I mean seriously bad acting.

Where do I begin? Cheyenne Jackson thankfully only had a oneshot guest star spot. And as his character is dead, never to return. But my word, his acting was pitiful.

Not that the others did a much better job. No wonder this show did not get picked up.

There went an hour of my life I’m never getting back.

The Rhetorics of Fantasy by Farah Mendlsohn

Moving on from film and television to academic literature, I am seriously disappointed in this book.

Now, I decided to ILL this book after my post on crossover fantasy (from now on, I’ll call them portal quest fantasy) when it was recommended to me.

Where do I begin? Well let us start with some easy to spot factual errors. What is the first Harry Potter novel? Is it Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone)? That’s correct. It is not Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. That’s the second book.

That is the most obvious factual error in the book. But I think I caught a few more that I’ve since forgotten. Seriously, where was the editor (or a fact checker)?

Another issue with the book is that it tends to repeat itself. Each chapter is roughly sixty pages in length (save the final chapter). Now, I’m sure the same arguments could have been made in less pages.

Now, do I agree with her arguments? I don’t know. Since she is pretty much the only scholar to have written this extensively on fantasy so far, her word goes until another challenges her conclusions.

Perhaps my issue with The Rhetorics of Fantasy lie in a similar issue I have with The Implied Spider. Neither work is as rigorous as I like my academic work to be. And I’m not loving how Mendlsohn approached her selection. No LeGuin, no Martin, etc. Though I am happy she did do a fair amount of analysis on Mieville’s work.

Still, I’m disappointed in this first stab at theorizing fantasy.

And I wonder, as a writer, do I really need to have the criticism/ theory of the genre haunting me?

And This is the End

For today. I don’t know quite what I have for tomorrow. We’ll see.

31 Days of Post Day 26: By Set, Not Again!

So, it seems the world will be graced (or blighted) with another Conan film in the next few years. This time, it will be Legend of Conan staring Arnold, the former Governator. Yesh.

I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time on the preproduction hype for this movie. Let’s just say that Al over at The Blog that Time Forgot expresses similar opinions to mine. With more entertainingly harsh analysis.

Basically, the new movie will ignore Conan the Destroyer and forget that there was a reboot in the form of Conan the Barbarian (2011). Instead, this new film is a direct sequel, thirty plus years removed, of Conan the Barbarian (1982).

No, just, no. I don’t want to see Arnold back as Conan. I don’t want to see more craptacular adaptations of the Cimmerian.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Conan the Barbarian (1982). I’m less fond of the sequel (Conan the Destroyer). And my attitude towards Conan the Barbarian (2011) is torn. I don’t remember if I reviewed the film or not. I disliked the movie’s plot intensely. But Jason Momoa made an excellent Conan.

I’ve posted a few comments on other sites (BtTF, Black Gate, and John R. Fulz’s blog) expressing my lack of enthusiasm and hope for the day when Howard’s Conan stories are finally in the public domain.

All of this raises the question. Do I want to see Howard’s Conan adapted? And how do I want to see it done?

Yes. I want to see the Conan stories that Robert E. Howard wrote adapted. That most of the films have mishandled the material is unquestioned. And disconcerting.

So, how would I do it? One word. Poirot. Go the route of Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle’s detectives. I’ve loved the adaptations of Christie’s work that Poirot and Miss Marple/ Marple have done. So why can’t there be a Conan television series that sets itself the goal of adapting the entirety of the Robert E. Howard stories?

Why does it have to be a Hollywood film. Why does it have to be a blockbuster?

 

31 Days of Post Day 25: Struggling with A Wizard of Earthsea

Until recently, I’ve never read A Wizard of Earthsea. Make that attempted to read. I read the first chapter and just could not go on beyond that. For me, the narrative tone just killed any possible enjoyment of the text for me. And this is supposed to be better than Harry Potter?

Now, I will admit that I haven’t been a good SF geek when it comes to reading the classics. Especially children’s classics.

To be honest, I just don’t really like children’s fantasy. Or probably children’s literature in general.

My reading pretty much jumps from the Little House books (Big Woods and Prairie) and a few other children’s classics to Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie during my junior high years.

Now, I’m correcting some of what I’ve missed. But I’m finding it hard slogging. The writing that typifies children’s literature I find to be often unreadable. Or at best uncomfortable.

There are rare exceptions. Among them are the Alice books, The Phantom Tollbooth, and The Wishing Spell.

But, and I hate to ask this question, is it perhaps something about Le Guin’s writing that I find personally off putting?

I haven’t read much of her work. But what I have read, I can’t say that I’m very impressed. Obviously, I could not get into A Wizard of Earthsea. And I had a similar reaction to The Left Hand of Darkness. Of her novels that I’ve actually completed, I did enjoy The Word for World is Forest and was indifferent to The Dispossessed. 

Again, does this make me a bad SF geek that I’m not a fan of Le Guin? Or does it just indicate that my tastes lie elsewhere? Should it even matter?

I don’t know. I don’t think whose writing I like or dislike should matter. But this is fandom we’re talking about.

Maybe I should just lay the book down and read something else. Maybe if I come back to it, I may change my opinion (as I’ve been known to do). Or perhaps the ship has already sailed for A Wizard of Earthsea.

31 Days of Post Day 24: Creative Explosion (Goals)

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I’d managed to possibly come up with a new idea born out of some of my frustrations watching the single episode of Glee. And then mixing in some Scott Pilgrim and the craziness inherent in my favorite shonen manga. But I’m not sure that I’m really loving the idea as a standalone. I know, I know. It is only two days old. Still, can I expand on that general idea over the course of time?

I’m leaning more towards rolling the embryonic idea into this one project of mine (the contemporary sword and sorcery) for some background or as an arc or two. Still not too sure.

On the plus side of all this (even though tinkering with these ideas are a plus in and of themselves), I’ve finally worked out how to do a short pitch. And I think they came out rather well. Now, the person I asked to look over these two pitches preferred the contemporary sword and sorcery. So, I’ll explore how to incorporate my otaku/ anime fan idea into CS&S. Oh, by the way, if any readers want me to practice the pitches on you, leave a comment.

During this period of creative explosions, I’ve seen myself gravitating more and more into wanting to do my own art for any comic books ideas. I’m not going to pretend that I really have the talent to do the art myself. Seriously, I think working with a more skilled artist will be best. But I do want to get back into art. I just need to learn patience. A lot of patience.

I guess a lot of whether I would prefer collaborating or doing it myself lies in how I want my various comic book ideas to look. Do I want a more manga style? Do I want something that looks more realistic? More cartoony? An interesting question.

Stepping away from blathering about my own writing, I have discovered some interesting pieces of advice lately.

Bleeding Cool has an interesting series of essays on breaking into to comics. It came out a few weeks ago, but I found it very interesting. Especially in highlighting the elements of chance inherent in “breaking in” (did you know that Scott Snyder broke into comics from a chance encounter at a book reading?).

Another interesting piece of advice comes from Chuck Wendig. Simply put, beware advice to writers. Especially if they appear as absolutes.

From the same SF Signal tidbits post comes a list of non writing activities from David Coe. Very interesting. I already do some of the items he lists. But it will help to do more.

And an interview with Paul Cornell finally showed me the beautiful simplicity of the elevator pitch.

Well, this is it for today. I may aim for having a post on my struggle with A Wizard of Earthsea tomorrow.

And I’ve finally gotten my hands on Rhetorics of Fantasy. I’m in the process of reading it now. Hopefully it will be better than my original impression indicates.

Until next time.

 

31 Days of Post Day 23: Zombies- A Rant

Let’s talk about zombies. Over the course of this month, I’ve watched a fair number of zombie centric films. And of course, The Walking Dead. To be honest, I both love and hate zombie films.

I’m not a fan of the modern zombie. I just really dislike the whole pandemic/ whatever it is that causes people to die and become undead cannibals. To be honest, I really don’t like them. But sometimes I like them (like TDW)

Especially when compared to the more traditional zombie. You know, the more magical explanation?

For those of you who don’t know, the original zombie comes out of Haitian folklore. A person dies and is resurrected by a bokor (sorcerer) for some purpose. Usually for slave labor.

I’ve only recently started watching early films featuring the more traditional zombie, and I have enjoyed them immensely more than I have the modern iteration.

Then again, it could be that I just prefer older forms of horror (which feature the traditional zombie). And of course, these films do have sorcerers. . .

Last night, I watched The Plague of Zombies, another excellent example of Hammer horror (and not starring Cushing and Lee).

The movie is about a professor of medicine visiting an old pupil who has a very curious problem. People in a Cornish village are dying of a mysterious illness. The illness is revealed to be the work of a corrupt local squire (and bokor). He uses the zombies he makes to work in the tin mine on his land.

The movie is gorgeous and awesome. Hell, why can’t there be more zombie movies like that today?

Before I’m done posting for the day, I want to refer to my post from yesterday. I’ve come up with an idea. Maybe a comic book series. I obviously will need to do more work on it. But I’ll talk about it more tomorrow.

31 Days of Post Day 22: What Pisses Me Off Leads to. . . Creative Explosions!

I don’t know what it is. There is just something about Glee that really pisses me off. It’s not the acting. It’s the writing. The more I think about it, the further I go, the more issues I find. Seriously. And all of that comes from watching a single episode.

But there is a bright lining to this. My problems with Glee serve as inspiration. If I ever do something realistic, I’ll be sure to remember to avoid the mistakes that just scream at me. Or in general. Like doing the research. Or making logical sense. Or not forcing characters to make plot dictated stupid decisions.

This kind of reminds me of my issues with Naruto. How the hell do the later chapters gel with what happens earlier in the series? Naruto is freaking village royalty (he is a distant member of the Senju clan and is a member of the Uzumaki clan). So why the hell is he really treated like familyless trash (besides the whole tailed beast thing)? I could go on.

Now, am I being fair? Maybe not. It would be interesting to see what the creators of Glee are going for and how far ahead they plan their narratives. And the same goes for Kishimoto. And Hiro Mashima for that matter (the whole Zeref thing is, honestly, a mess).

But, like I say, all of this drives me to want to engage with these narratives. What about Naruto (or Glee or Fairy Tail) pisses me off? How do I take that and make something new, something my own?

This is, then, an example of an Octavia Butler Moment. Or several examples, to be honest.

I’m not going to claim that my, perhaps, more outlined and planed narratives will be better. Hell, the Glee I would have envisioned would never, ever, see the light of day on network television! But then again, would I really want to do something similar to Glee. Not really. Plus I really don’t want to work in television. At least for now.

Off to brainstorming now. Expect a ranting post on zombies tomorrow.

Later.