Patriotic Animals & A Bunch of Genres – July 3rd, 2015

Happy 4th of July!


Are you ready to exercise your rights? I need you to express your opinion.

Next week I’m pitching at San Diego Comic Con.


Mostly I’ll be meeting with artists about collaborating on a series of 4-page stories. It’s an anthology I’ll write consisting of 30 shorts loosely about betrayal, revenge and redemption. Each story will be in a different genre.  So far I’ve chosen…

  • Werewolf
  • Teen Romance
  • Inside the Body
  • Duel / Shoot-Out
  • Cops & Robbers
  • Biblical
  • Animals

All over the map? Yes. That’s the point. I want to stretch my storytelling muscles.

Now here’s where I need your help. I need to shorten my list of potential genres ASAP. Use any or all of the following to help you cut this list: 1) What’s a good fit for me? 2) What do you love? 3) What do you hate?

I don’t care which criteria you use. Don’t take more than 5-10 minutes. Don’t think too hard. Just let instinct and reflex take over and then hit me up in the comments, via Twitter, whatever.


Ready? Here’s that list.

  • Alcoholism / Addiction
  • Alien Encounter / Invasion
  • Arial Combat
  • Atomic Age
  • B-Movie Horror
  • Bad Girls
  • Ballet / Dance
  • Beach Party
  • Bikers
  • Disease / Outbreak / Biological Attack
  • Broadway / Backstage
  • Cannibalism
  • Cattle Drive
  • Kaiju
  • Chase / Hunt
  • Christmas
  • Civil War
  • Colonial / Empire
  • Coming of Age
  • Conspiracy Thriller
  • Cyber Punk
  • Demonic Possession
  • Detective / Private Eye
  • Disaster / End of the World
  • Erotic Thriller
  • Espionage / Spy
  • Extraordinary Romance
  • Fairy Tale
  • Family
  • Mad Doctor / Frankenstein
  • Frontier
  • Gangster / Mafia
  • Ghost
  • Girls with Guns
  • Greek Myth
  • Gunfighters
  • Haunted House
  • Historical Adventure
  • Horror
  • Indian War
  • Investigative Reporting
  • Jungle Epic
  • Legal / Courtroom
  • Lost World
  • Martial Arts
  • Medical
  • Modern Warfare
  • Mountain Climbing
  • Mystery
  • Noir
  • Other Dimensions
  • Outlaws
  • Period Drama
  • Pirate / Swashbuckling
  • Political Thriller
  • Post-Apocalyptic
  • Super Powers
  • Pre-Historic
  • Prison Escape
  • Prisoners of War
  • Psychic Powers
  • Reincarnation
  • Revolutionary War
  • Robots / Cyborgs / Androids
  • Roman Empire
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Samurai
  • Satanic
  • School Days
  • Seafaring
  • Serial Killer
  • Sex Comedy
  • Slasher
  • Soap Opera
  • Space Adventure
  • Spaghetti Western
  • Sports
  • Submarine
  • Supernatural
  • Surf
  • Sword & Sorcery
  • Techno-Thriller
  • Time Travel
  • Toys
  • Treasure Hunt
  • Undercover
  • Utopian Disaster
  • Vampires
  • Vice
  • Virtual Reality
  • Western
  • Witchcraft
  • Women in Prison
  • Women’s Friendship
  • World War One
  • World War Two

Oh, and if you’re an artist come find me at SDCC. I’ll be at the Comic Creator Connection Thursday night, then roaming the halls until Sunday. Here’s what I look like (if I were in a comic).


I love my new business cards. Illustration by Michele Melcher.

Posted in Writing

Slamming The Brakes – July 2nd, 2015

Fun forgotten fact: the movie Pi submitted to Sundance twice.


The film was shot over the fall of 1996. Aronofsky submitted the film for the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. He got in but pulled out at the last-minute. Why? Because he didn’t want to ruin the film by rushing to meet a deadline. He knew he had something special. He wanted to take his time to get it right. He submitted again for the 1998 fest, he got in again, and this time he won the Directing Prize.


Had he forced the film to meet the shorter deadline, he might have ended up a lesser Shane Carruth.

*for the record, I’m remembering this from a documentary or a PBS special on indie film that I saw over a decade ago. As such, it’s nowhere to be found on today’s internet. Weird, huh?

I mention this because I missed the first Oni Press open submission window.


Why? Because I was working harder on my market analysis than the script and that’s just wrong. The story always comes first. Period. Full stop. I could have pressed myself to make the deadline but I’d just be falling victim to the sunken cost fallacy. I love my story. It’s special. I should take the time to get it right. Then my submission will be undeniable.

When (if) Oni reopens the submission window in September, I’ll have a polished pitch packet. Until then I’m working on a comic anthology pitch for San Diego Comic Con, but that’s for another post.

Posted in Writing

Consumed June 2015 – June 30th, 2015

I declare June the cruelest month (screw you, Eliot). I cleared half a dozen deadlines by the 5th, I still have three more projects to complete and damnit, the little things been sweating me. Oy! Even my spirit animal be quittin’ on me!


Here’s what I consumed…

iZombie – I’ve been unfairly comparing this show to my beloved Veronica Mars but each episode has improved upon the previous. How often can you say that? And I’ve gone a whole season without posting sexy pics of Aly Michalka, who plays the role of Peyton. Pics like the one below.


Friends – I’m up to the part where Rachel had her baby. Still enjoying it but I can sense that the end is near.

Agents of SHIELD
The Blacklist – Two seasons and we’re radically changing the show. Hmm. Looks like it’s about to take a turn for the darker. If so, I’m along for the ride.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Attack on Titan
The Last Man on Earth – I don’t write half-hour but if I did I’d be crushing this show.

Modern Family
The Americans – I didn’t enjoy season three as much as the previous two but there were episodes that I still can’t shake.

Better Call Saul – It’s okay to say I was let down, right?


Brace yourself. I have a confession to make. I’m having a country music moment.


Easy. Relax. Breathe. It’s not all about hot girls in cowboy boots (although that is a particular weakness of mine).


…where was I? Oh, right, my new found fascination with country music. Allow me to explain. It all started with a cover by Sturgill Simpson. That lead to picking up the album and loving it.

Then this really cute girl in my book club suggested Robert Ellis. At first I resisted but again I was won over.

Then I started wandering around the country music aisle on my own and I kept hearing about Nikki Lane and her excellent album.

Yes, I’m officially on a country kick but can you blame me? Nikki is crazy talented but also…


I mean…





Yeah, let’s get back on topic.

Mislaid by Nell Zink – I enjoyed this book with a devilish glee.


My Education by Susan Choi – Still reading it. Have to finish soon so I can discuss it with the cute girl from group.

Doctor Spektor
Lazarus – A very slow burn but I’m sticking it out.

Real West
Queen & Country – Goddamn if this isn’t one of my favorites. Just reread the first three collections and I totally dig the different art styles by Steve Rolston, Brian Hurtt and Leandro Fernandez respectively.



The Secret History of D.B. Cooper
Manifest Destiny – I freaking love this book (please keep getting better).

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four
Meteor Men
Hellbreak – I wish I had come up with this idea.

Princess Ugg
The Sixth Gun – Not what I was expecting. Liking it, and totally surprised. Awesome!


Avengers: Age of Ultron
Jurassic World – This was a bad movie.


It’s okay that we all liked it but let’s not delude ourselves. I mean this is a thousand times better, right?


Far Cry 4 – I need to finish this just so I can move on to Arkham Knight.


Posted in General

APB: Hannibal Lecter Missing – June 25th, 2015

I missed my chance. I wanted to write a spec of Hannibal this year but backed away because I found a better suited show and now they’ve cancelled the best television on NBC. Honestly, I’m not sure I could have done Dr. Lecter justice, and heaven help me if Hannibal found me to be rude.

What ya cooking, Dr. Lecter?

What ya cooking, Dr. Lecter?

Did you watch Hannibal? Of course you didn’t. No one did. You should. It is the most singular show on broadcast television, maybe all of television. It is a show that puts dialog and character in the back seat so it can highlight hypnotic imagery, fever dream sound design and a twisted psychology.


As I told everyone, it’s like your favorite foreign film morphed into an awesome television show. It got deep under your skin, burrowed past your eyes and took root in your soul. Yeah, it was a show that would f**k you up.


Is all hope lost? No. There’s a vocal push for another outlet to pick up the show, and as Amazon has exclusive streaming rights, it’s a no brainer. Also, I’m further heartened that the show hasn’t canceled their San Diego Comic-Con panel. You bet your bloody grin I’ll be there.


So don’t be rude or the good doctor might be seeing you next.


Posted in Industry, Writing

To Write Better, Listen More – June 18th, 2015


We live in the Golden Age of the podcast and we should thank this man.


Meaning Ira Glass, not Fred Armisen.

Because of podcasts, it’s possible to learn SO. MUCH. MORE about any topic. If you’re an aspiring screenwriter, you absolutely should be listing to these awesome podcasts.

The Nerdist Writers Panel focuses on the television writers room but every so often they’ll have a feature writer. Here’s an interview with Buried screenwriter Chris Sparling.


Scriptnotes is the best screenwriting podcast in the land. They tackle everything from formatting trends to industry news. This is a “must listen” for any writer.


Want a TV writing podcast that’s both in-depth and off the wall? You can’t go wrong with the Children of Tendu.


If you prefer a pushy interviewer trying to dig secrets out of filmmakers (that’s why my buddy Ted *LOVES* this podcast), then you must check out The Q & A.


Looking for a friendlier interviewer of screenwriters? If so, On The Page is your jam.


Do you want to be so appalled that you’re crying from laughter? Subscribe to The Black List Table Reads and start with Balls Out (and thank me later).


I love the Writers Guild Foundation. They’re awesome, they have an amazing library and they have a podcast too.


Lastly, there’s the Austin Film Festival On Story podcast. They’re the best fest for writers and they present many of their panels in podcast form. If you like what you hear, sign up to attend.


Subscribe. Listen. Learn.

Posted in Writing

A Fair Wage For A Comic Page – June 11th, 2015

With less than 20 days left until the Oni Press Open Submission deadline, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the economics of comics. How does anyone make a living from working in comics? What’s a fair rate? Luckily, we can thank Alex de Campi for shedding some light on this topic, along with signing this Archie vs. Predator comic for me (and letting me know that I seem more like a “Veronica man”).


This incredibly useful bit of information comes from a panel Alex hosted at the recent Special Edition: NYC. Since the slide is hard to see, I transcribed it here.


A bit of clarification: “work for hire” means you are hired to work on a book for which you claim no IP ownership. That means you’re probably working on Batman or The Avenger or GI Joe or Predator or Archie or any other title based on a preexisting work, and you don’t own any part of that work. You don’t collect royalties from it. You didn’t invent it. You are paid your rate and that is that.

This is in opposition to “creator owned” comics. Think of Mike Mignola and Hellboy or Robert Kirkman and The Walking Dead. They own those characters. They fathered their respective universes. They collect money on every comic, DVD, board game and t-shirt. When they pass from this mortal coil, they can bequeath those rights to an heir or a charitable institution (I believe J.M. Barrie did that with Peter Pan).

Back to the topic at hand. If I were hired write a 5 issue mini series (24-pages/issue) about The Snorks for an indie publisher, and I’m a newbie writer making $25/page, I could reasonably expect to make $600 per book, or $3,000 for the whole mini series.



So if I wanted to make a living as a comic book writer and continue residing in Los Angeles, and if we assume that a recent study claiming that you need to make $70k a year in order to afford a rental unit in LA is correct, how many books would I have to write? Let’s assume I’m writing for one of the big two (i.e., Marvel or DC Comics) and I’m making the rate of $100/page. I would need to bank around $6k/month. That means I’d need to author 2.5 books every month. That’s not an unreasonable amount of writing but we haven’t accounted for taxes, tabling at cons, etc.

Want to see something crazy? Here’s a 1978 rate card from when comic book creators were looking to unionize.


So, if I ended up a hit in the comics world and never launch a creator owned title, I’d need to keep the day job until I’m writing at least 4 titles a month. BTW, are you wondering what we’re doing at the day job?

Hey, can I tell them about the day job?


Apparently not. Guess these weren’t the cybernetic organisms you were looking for.

Posted in Industry, Writing

What Should I Spec for 2016 – June 4th, 2015

Who is a glutton for punishment?



Why? Because I’m already thinking about shows I can spec next year. As the greatest limiting factor is the Warner Brothers list of approved dramas, here are the shows on their 2015 list that I’d consider for next year.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) – Renewed for season 3

Halt & Catch Fire (AMC) – Season 2 just debuted

Orphan Black (BBC America) – Season 3 currently airing

Sleepy Hollow (Fox) – Renewed for season 3

The Blacklist (NBC) – Renewed for season 3

The Flash (CW) – Renewed for season 2

Arrow (CW) – Renewed for season 4

Gotham (Fox) – Renewed for season 2

Hannibal (NBC) – Season 3 airing this summer

Shows absent from this year’s list but that I think / hope will be on the 2016 one…

iZombie (CW) – Renewed for season 2

Daredevil (Netflix) – Renewed for season 2

Agent Carter (ABC) – Renewed for season 2

Better Call Saul (AMC) – Renewed for season 2

So, which to spec? I’m not looking to spec my favorite show. I’m looking to spec the show that I can knock out of the park. Therefore, let’s look at my newest spec and the 3 previous ones that have placed in contests / fellowships. They are…

The 100


The Americans




Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles


What do they have in common? All four features 1) bad ass female leads, 2) non-traditional families, and 3) violence/action. Two of the above feature spying/undercover work. Two are firmly science-fiction dealing with the post-apocalypse. Based off that, let’s narrow the list to shows that have at least three of the above elements. Those shows would be…

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Bad ass females (May, Skye), non-traditional family (the team), tons of action, sci-fi (super heroes), spying/undercover work


Orphan Black – Bad ass females (the clones), some action (more suspense than action, really), non-traditional family (the clones, Fee, Ms. S., et al.), sci-fi


Agent Carter – Bad ass female, action, spying/undercover work


Sleepy Hollow – Bad ass female co-lead (Abbie), non-traditional family (Ichabod’s family + Abby), plenty of action, sci-fi, preventing the apocalypse


The Blacklist – Bad ass female co-lead (Elizabeth), lots of action, spying/undercover work

iZombie – Bad ass female lead (Liv), sci-fi, pending zombie apocalypse (kinda)


If I had to pick a show right now, it’d probably be iZombie or Agent Carter. I still have a viable Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. idea but it’s getting increasingly difficult to get excited about that show. I also harbor a deep desire to spec Orphan Black but it’s serialized within an inch of its life (but boy, do I love the difficult ones). Did I miss any shows? Did I get something wrong?

Posted in Writing

Consumed May 2015 – May 31st, 2015

This past month I applied to one contest, two fellowships, wrote a TV spec, rewrote a pilot, outlined a feature, started the first act of said feature, developed a comic book mini series pitch and expanded a comic book anthology idea. So, basically, this past month I was kinda like…


Don’t know how I consumed anything but I did.

Agents of SHIELD
The Flash – Goddamn if this isn’t a near perfect comic book show.


Broad City
The Last Man on Earth
Attack on Titan – I stumbled upon this show after seeing so many kids cos-playing it at cons and constantly asking, “who the hell are they supposed to be?” Holy s**t! This is one f**ked up show. Also, why do all the dudes on this show cry like little bitches all the goddamn time? Not that I’m judging or disparaging their crying. I’m tired. Very tired. Look at Kermit above. Can you imagine how tired he must be? I’m a hundred times more tired than that. Being that tired, I want to cry myself but I want to sleep more.


iZombie – This show is getting better but I’m still not at a Veronica Mars level of love for it (and I want to be).


10:04 by Ben Lerner – I can only read one of these books a year and I already read Satin Island.


My Education by Susan Choi – A very cute girl in my book club brought this for me so I really gotta finish it ASAP.


Rituals by Other Lives – I think this deep, sad music made me feel better.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four
Batman: Arkham Knight – I’m loving the art in this book.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman
Lazarus – It’s slow to start but I love Rucka, and how can you not love this?


Far Cry 4

… and now I’m back to finishing my fellowship applications.

Posted in General

Best Word Using (2015 Eisner Nominees) – May 28th, 2015

Do you keep a folder with all your rejections? I do. I just added my Top Cow talent hunt entry to that file. They only took five writers this year; two winners and three runner-ups. The COO said that out of 587 submitted scripts, only 40 delivered professional grade writing (for you stat whores, that means only 6% of the applicants were good enough to be considered seriously).

I choose to believe that I’m part of that 6%.

But we are not here to bemoan my failure. Let us celebrate six writers that F**KING CRUSHED IT this past year.


Here are the 2015 Eisner Nominees for Best Writer. And yo, click on the images below to experience them in HD.

Jason Aaron for Original Sin, Thor, Southern Bastards


Kelly Sue DeConnick for Captain Marvel, Pretty Deadly


Grant Morrison for The Multiversity, Annihilator


Brian K. Vaughan for Saga, The Private Eye


G. Willow Wilson for Ms. Marvel


Gene Luen Yang for The Last Airbender, The Shadow Hero


Vote for up to two writers!

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Posted in Industry, Writing

Ryan Adams’ Summer of ’69 – May 21st, 2015

About 10 years ago some jerk went to a Ryan Adams concert and kept requesting Bryan Adams‘ “Summer of ’69“. Ryan got angry, went on a bender, married America’s sweetheart (circa 2005), got sober and hasn’t been the same since.

Recently, Ryan Adams went back to that same venue and finally played a cover of “Summer of ’69” so good that it gave me chills, something a Ryan Adams song hasn’t done since Demolition.

Heck, even Bryan had something to say about it. Here’s that cover.

Fun fact, Ryan Adams and Bryan Adams share the same birthday. Crazy!

For reference, here’s the original.

…BTW, apparently I’m not the only fan of Ryan Adams’ Demolition.

Although I don’t have cable, nor do I watch the late night shows, I’m gonna miss Dave.

Posted in Off-Topic