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.

CrushingIt

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

SouthernBastards_MoreRibs

Kelly Sue DeConnick for Captain Marvel, Pretty Deadly

PrettyDeadly_TheTempest

Grant Morrison for The Multiversity, Annihilator

Multiversity_You

Brian K. Vaughan for Saga, The Private Eye

Saga_Terror

G. Willow Wilson for Ms. Marvel

MsMarvel_Bacon

Gene Luen Yang for The Last Airbender, The Shadow Hero

ShadowHero_ToxicSpill

Vote for up to two writers!

Who is your favorite 2015 Eisner nominee for "Best Writer" (pick up to 2 answers)?

View Results

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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

Best Tracing (2015 Eisner Nominees) – May 14th, 2015

Question: what is the number one reason why I’m attending so many cons this year? Answer: I’m looking for illustrators. I’m hoping to publish my own comic book in the near future but I’m a writer. I couldn’t draw a straight line if you put a gun to my head. Want proof? Here’s a drawing of my former roommate.

David, My Ex-Roommate by Me

David, My Ex-Roommate by Me

Yeah, I need someone that can take my words and translate that into a great comic page. It is with that appreciation that we look at the 2015 Eisner Nominees for Best Penciler / Inker.

Adrian Alphona for Ms. Marvel

AdrianAlphona

Mike Allred for Silver Surfer, Madman in Your Face 3D Special

MikeAllred

Frank Quitely for Multiversity

FrankQuitely

Francois Schuiten for The Leaning Girl

FrancoisSchuiten

Fiona Staples for Saga

FionaStaples

Babs Tarr for Batgirl

BabsTarr

Who is your favorite artist? Tell us by voting (can’t decide, then vote for two).

Who is your favorite 2015 Eisner nominee for "Best Penciler / Inker" (pick up to 2 answers)?

  • Babs Tarr (Batgirl) (100%, 2 Votes)
  • Frank Quitely (Multiversity) (50%, 1 Votes)
  • Fiona Staples (Saga) (50%, 1 Votes)
  • Adrian Alphona (Ms. Marvel) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Mike Allred (Silver Surfer, Madman in Your Face 3D Special) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Francois Schuiten (The Leaning Girl) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 2

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Posted in Industry

Are Specs Worthless – May 7th, 2015

Once upon a time, landing a staff writing job with a spec of ER or Picket Fences was de rigueur. Not so much these days. Show runners want to see original pilots, backed up by features or plays or short stories, but they will not read your Law & Order spec.

Law_Order_Season_One_cast

So, are spec worthless?

Hold on. First, let’s define some television parlance. In TV land, a spec refers to a script that’s a speculative episode of a television show currently on the air. It’s not meant to get produced, only to served as a writing sample. An original pilot is the script of a brand new show; it’s not based on an existing show. You could try to sell this pilot script to producers and studios — someone might buy your script and make it into a TV show; it happens. — or you might only be using it as a writing sample.

To complicate matters further, you can write a pilot “on spec” or as an “assignment.” Writers usually pitch first, and if the idea sells, they then write the pilot as part of a paid assignment. If you stink at pitching, or if the idea is “execution dependent,” then you might write the pilot “on spec” in the hopes that the finished script will show off your brilliance and land you a fat paycheck. Let’s not even touch new pilots based on, or adapted from, existing materials such as books, comics, movies or even older TV shows (such as The Twilight Zone, Battlestar Galactica and The Odd Couple).

For the purpose of this post, spec = script of an existing show and pilot = script for a new, original show yet to be produced.

Now, where was I? Ah, right. Back in the day you could write a crazy Friends spec and agents, managers and producers would come knocking. Today, talk to anyone in the industry and they’ll tell you that a spec is worthless.

Why? One, there are just too many shows out there. Maybe your show runner didn’t watch Justified so they can’t judge your sample. Two, everyone is obsessed with your original voice. They want to see your idiosyncrasies. They want to know what makes you special. Did you grow up the daughter of a lobster trapper in Maine? Then they’re gonna love your heartwarming family drama about a goth girl that falls in love with a boy that has lobster claws for hands (Ian, let’s develop this). Will they read your Hart of Dixie spec. No. Sorry. Your spec is worthless.

Taylor-Swift_surprised

Easy there, TS.

That’s not entirely true. A spec is not worthless. They still serve a purpose. If you’re applying to one of the popular fellowships offered by CBS, Disney/ABC, NBC/Universal or Warner Brothers, they will want to see a spec of a show that’s on the air. Heck, the WB goes so far as to publish a list of acceptable shows to spec.

Agent-Carter_crying

WB won’t let you spec Agent Carter this year.

Granted, ABC and CBS want you to submit a spec and a pilot, but the common denominator is the spec. Also, lots of reputable TV writing contests accept specs, like Austin and Final Draft.

In fact, at this very moment, I’m writing a spec of The 100 that I’ll submit to fellowships and contests. In past years, I’ve speced (or is it “specced”?) The Americans

TheAmericans_SexyTwoShot

Nikita

Nikita.jpg

Chuck

chuck-tv-series

and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

cameron-tscc.jpg

Three of those have landed me in the quarter finals, or better, of a lot of contests and a few fellowships. While I haven’t won any of those (yet), I think I can offer at least a few pieces of advice regarding specs.

First, in today’s highly serialized world, do yourself a favor and set your spec in last season’s mythology. Don’t go further back because readers will think you’re recycling an old piece of material. Conversely, don’t try to keep up with the current season because there’s always a chance the show might steal your thunder. Last year I was ready to start an Arrow spec where I’d introduce Cupid but stopped the second I heard that the show was planning to add Cupid to the cast.

cupid_arrow-season-3-episode-7

The one exception might be if you’re doing a procedural show. If you’re writing an NCIS spec and there are no major cast changes, you might be able to use that script as a sample for at least a couple years.

Second, you’re writing a spec episode, not fan fiction. Make sure you use the characters, settings and tropes properly. This isn’t the time to recast the supporting characters as the leads, or to kill off a beloved love interest. Avoid writing a new ending to the season that just wrapped or the first episode of next season. That’s fan fiction. That only proves that you believe yourself superior to the writing staff. Find an idea that could slip right in the middle of a season.

That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be bold. Be bold. Do something big, but not something contrary to the nature of the show. Think of that tired story of the scorpion and the frog. A scorpion will always be a scorpion. Your Agents of SHILED spec should not read like an episode of Portlandia just because Kyle MacLachlan guests in both.

BTW, I had the idea of writing an Agents of SHIELD / Portlandia crossover using Kyle as the Mayor of Portland so back off.

😉

I know I make writing a spec sound like a chore but I love writing specs. I love having fun with another person’s toys. I dig playing in another creator’s sandbox. It’s one of the reasons why I think I’d be excellent on a staff.

Me, I’m gonna keep writing a spec a year until I no longer have to. Fellowships and contests, do you hear me? Not yet? Then keep an eye out for my submissions until you finally accept me, or I get staffed, then I can serve as a mentor to the next generation.

Also, yeah, I’m gonna keep writing a new pilot every year, too.

Happy writing.

Posted in Writing

Consumed April 2015 – April 30th, 2015

It’s been a heck of a month. Just as I typed “the end” on my pilot, I turned around and started a new feature script. And now I’m prepping a pitch for Oni Press? How the heck did I find time to consume any media?

Television
The Blacklist
iZombie – I freaking loved Veronica Mars. This… it’s good and getting better but I hate that they changed the main character’s name to “Liv Moore”. Really?

iZombie_S1_KeyArt
Bob’s Burgers
Modern Family
Broad City
The Walking Dead
Daredevil – I’ve only seen the first episode but from the themes and deliberate pacing I know this might be the kind of show I could easily mainline.

Daredevil_MwoF_i05_p1
Archer
Agents of SHIELD
Arrow
The Flash

Books
Get in Trouble by Kelly Link – I don’t know if this is speculative fiction or magical realism or sci-fi or fantasy (to me, this is like the “comic book vs. graphic novel” debate) but I loved these stories. I’d love to turn one or two of them into a short film.

GetInTrouble_Cover

Music
The Replacements – My one concert this month and they were f**king awesome. Enjoy this online mixtape.

Jimi Hendrix – That feature script I mentioned earlier, every time I imagine the hero’s introduction I hear this track.

Comics
Batman: Arkham Knight – I grew up a Marvel kid but these DC digital titles are winning me over. Heck, let me declare this new career goal right here and now: I want to author one of these series for DC. PS, this comic book also makes me more excited for the game.

Batman-Arkham-Knight_07_Cover

East of West – Every time I start a new Jonathan Hickman series I’m sure I won’t get sucked in but here I am again beseeching you to read this sci-fi western.

East-of-West_01_Cover

Zero – I get angry reading this title because I wish I had written it. Also, the Tradd Moore art in this issue is unreal.

Zero_02_Cover

Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft – Sweet Baby Jesus, this is one deliciously f**ked up book.

Locke-Key_01_Cover

Games
Far Cry 4 – I just opened up the north so I’m halfway through. As long as I don’t miss any writing deadline, it’s cool, right?

far-cry-4_shotgun

See ya next month.

Posted in General

Judging A Comic Book By Its Cover (2015 Eisner Nominees) – April 23rd, 2015

After a year of researching (and buying) comic books, it’s clear as hell that the most important piece of advertising is the cover. If a book has a great cover, people will pick it up, flip through a few pages, maybe even buy it. Therefore, let’s looks at the 2015 Eisner Nominees for Best Cover Artist.

Note, this year they’re nominating the artist for a book or series of books but I’m only highlighting one cover for each nominee. Also, click on the images to enlarge them (cause they’re beautiful, yo).

Darwyn Cooke for the DC Comics Darwyn Cooke Month Variant Covers

Cooke_Superman_Cover

Mike Del Mundo for Elektra, X-Men: Legacy, Dexter

elektra-001-mike-del-mundo-cover

Francesco Francavilla for Afterlife with Archie, The Twilight Zone, Django/Zorro

AferlifeArchie_Cover_01

Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson for The Wicked + The Divine, Ms. Marvel

Wicked-Divine_001_Cover

Phil Noto for Black Widow

Black-Widow_Cover_Issue03_736px

Alex Ross for Astro City, Batman 66

astro-city-1-cover

Which cover do you love best? Express yourself with a vote (heck, vote for two).

Who is your favorite 2015 Eisner nominee for "Best Cover Artist" (pick up to 2 answers)?

  • Mike Del Mundo (Elektra) (67%, 2 Votes)
  • Darwyn Cooke (DC Variants / Superman) (33%, 1 Votes)
  • Jamie McKelvie & Matthew Wilson (The Wicked + The Divine) (33%, 1 Votes)
  • Phil Noto (Black Widow) (33%, 1 Votes)
  • Francesco Francavilla (Afterlife with Archie) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Alex Ross (Astro City) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 3

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See ya next week.

Posted in Industry

My Three Pitches: A Whiff, A Hit, A Who-Knows-What – April 16th, 2015

It doesn’t matter if I’m pitching for television, comics, features, tansmedia (do they still use that term?), or whatnot, I keep running into the same scenario. I prepare three pitches and the first one whiffs, the second hits and the third produces inscrutable countenances of confusion.

A little back story: when prepping my pitches, I always lead with the idea I’m dying to work on, then follow with the proposal that’s a solid (albeit less exciting for me) back up, and finally wrap with the notion that’s totally off-the-wall.

For example, when I was prepping to first enter the Top Cow Talent Hunt I had three ideas that I pitched to friends. The first, the story I was dying to tell, was a Magdalena story involving a bit of Catholic lore.

Magdalena_06

The second, my back up, was a Glacier Stone tragedy involving a fairly well known mythical beast.

glacier-stone_artifacts7p1

The third, the off-the-wall idea, was a Blood Sword story about gender swapping ninjas with 8-bit art. So this…

Blood-Sword

But more like this…

unity-8bit

*Note to any Top Cow person that might come across this: I’m discussing my entries for the 2013-2014 talent hunt, not what I submitted for the current, 2014-2015 talent hunt.

My friends didn’t jive with the first idea, they loved the second pitch and didn’t know what to make of my third. Going with my audience, I wrote the Glacier Stone story. Although I didn’t win the talent hunt, I wrote a damn good script. Friends that read it still ask if I’m going to run with the idea (and yeah, I think I can take my original elements and build a kick ass webcomic / original graphic novel).

More recently I wrote a pilot and once again I had three pitches. The first, my heart’s desire, was inspired by my love of flawed super heroes.

heroes

The second, my back up, was a gritty, updated twist on a Wiseguy like story.

Wiseguy_DVD-Box-Set

The third, my balls-out-crazy idea, would be like an irreverent, apocalyptic Joan of Arcadia.

joan_of_arcadia

Again, everyone jumped on idea #2.

Two nights ago I had the same experience pitching three feature ideas. I threw out a sci-fi thriller, a monster movie and a horror-comedy. Everyone wants me to write the monster movie.

Killer-Croc_Arkham

What is it about me and my inability to hock the ideas I love? Why can’t they find traction? Honestly, I dunno. Anyone want to venture a guess?

Also, you may wonder why I always go with the popular opinion. It’s because I want to write for a hungry audience (also, I don’t want to go hungry).

Posted in Writing

My Cry for Far Cry 4 – April 9th, 2015

A while back I asked, “where is my addicting-like-crack PS4 game?” Sunday night I started playing Far Cry 4 and now I’ve got the junkie sweats. This game is a beautiful, open world first person shooter where you are encouraged to attack the enemy with an M60 and an elephant.

far-cry-4-elephant attack

Hell yeah!

How deep does this game have its hooks in me? Note my “time in bed” for the last four nights.

FarCry4_Sleep

Looks like I got what I asked for. F**k. But who else is gonna kill those nasty Honey Badgers?

FC4_HONEY_BADGER

Oh, and they added a DLC where you track down a yeti?

FarCry4_Yeti

Yeah, I’m screwed.

Posted in Off-Topic

Spring Break 2015! – April 2nd, 2015

SPRING BREAK!!!

But honestly, there is no rest for the wicked (aka, me).

Just last night I presented the first draft of my one-hour pilot which reminded my fellow writers of this…

TrainingDay_Gun

I get to take about a week off before I start the rewrite. Plus, I gotta start thinking about the next pilot. I have a few ideas, but this image has been stirring some new thoughts.

Female-Gang

I’m furiously gathering ideas for my spec of The 100. I’m pretty sure it’ll slip in somewhere between 107 and 110. I need to finish a draft in one month (yikes!) for the start of fellowship season (why does CBS have an early deadline?).

I’m brainstorming a feature that I’ll write in a UCLA Extension class starting next week. I’d describe it as…

ripley-connor_sebastianvonbuchwald

(Art by Sebastian Von Buchwald)

I have three ideas for mini-comics (or maybe they’re webcomics — still figuring that out). I need to pick one idea that could make a great 4-6 page book and start scripting it this month.

I’m about to attend WonderCon. Find me. Say, “Hi!” Let’s make comics together.

I’m still recovering from ECCC. Here’s my haul. Bitch Planet #1 & #2 signed by Kelly Sue DeConnick.

ECCC15_Bitch-Planet_1_2

Descender #1 signed by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen. Lady Killer #1 signed by Joëlle Jones.

ECCC15_Descender_Lady-Killer

Escape from New York #1 signed by Garry Brown. Bill & Ted’s Most Triumphant Return #1 signed by Joe Eisma.

ECCC15_Escape-NY_Bill-Ted

Original art by Justin Greenwood. Fight Club 2 mini-comic signed by Chuck Palahniuk, Cameron Stewart, David Mack, and Dave Stewart.

ECCC15_Greenwood-Art_Fight-Culb-2

Hellbreak #1 signed by Cullen Bunn, Brian Churilla, and Dave Stewart. Princess Leia #1 signed by Adi Granov.

ECCC15_Hellbreak_Leia

Kaijumax #1 signed by Zander Cannon & Jason Fischer . Rick and Morty #1 signed by Zac Gorman & Ryan Hill.

ECCC15_Kaijumax_Rick-Morty

LumberJanes vol. 1 & #12 signed by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen (vol. 1) and Bridget Underwood (#12)

ECCC15_LumberJanes_Vol-1_12

Ninjak #1 signed by Matt Kindt & Ian McGinty. Past Aways #1 signed by Matt Kindt & Scott Kolins.

ECCC15_Ninjak_Past-Aways

Prometheus: Omega signed by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Frankenstein Underground #1 signed by Mike Mignola.

ECCC15_Prometheus_Frankenstein

Wayward vol. 1 signed by Jim Zub and The Fuse vol. 1 signed by Justin Greenwood.

ECCC15_Wayward_Fuse

I bought Far Cry 4 a month ago and I intend to start playing this week. I’m crazy excited to fight a yeti.

FarCry4_Yeti

I have to catch up on a ton of TV.

I need to read my book and my comics.

I need to sleep.

Good night.

Posted in General

Consumed March 2015 – March 31st, 2015

As this goes live, I’m plowing through act five of my pilot (which is due tomorrow). I sent in my Witchblade script. I’m a networking animal between Emerald City Comicon and WonderCon. I’m behind on my spec of The 100 and don’t even ask about my mini-comic. Let’s just be impressed with how much I actually consumed.

Television

Marvel’s Agent Carter – Goddamn this show is good. Please come back next year so I can spec an episode.

Agent-Carter_Poster

Broad City

The 100 – Hands down the best show on the CW.

The-100_Cast

Friends (seasons 6, 7)

The Last Man on Earth – Maybe the second best post-apocalyptic comedy.

last-man-on-earth_junk

Arrow

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – The best post-apocalyptic comedy on TV. Goddamn this show kicks ass.

Unbreakable-Kimmy-Schmidt

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Powers – I love the concept, the actors, the writing, the creators, but those first few episodes have a real “Saturday night on Sy-Fy” feel. Let’s hope they can clinch the closer.

Powers_TV

Gotham

Community – Looking damn good on Yahoo.

community-season-6

Modern Family

The Black List

The Walking Dead – Yawn. Can we finally get a Y: The Last Man show, or how about The Last of Us instead?

WalkingDead_Guns

The Americans – Such a great season. Why isn’t this show reaping more awards love?

the-americans-season-3-preview

Archer

Better Call Saul – Slowly getting better.

bob-odenkirk-better-call-saul-episode-1

Books
Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman – It took me three days to get half way through, three years to finish the whole damn thing.

People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo–and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Parry – Makes me miss Japan (twisted, I know).

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy – I didn’t love this book but its imagery comes to me as I’m about to drift off to sleep. I won’t say it’s worth the read but if you miss long, eloquent rants in the college quad…

Satin-Island_Cover

Music

No One is Lost by Stars – You cannot beat this song.

The Last Broadcast by Doves – I remember loving the heck out of this album. I was convinced that they were gonna be the next big thing.

Alvvays by Alvvays – Lordy, I’m in love.

Brill Bruisers by The New Pornographers – More love.

After by Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – I’m not totally into this album, but the tracks that do get to me strike a deep vein of musical ore.

And the War Came by Shakey Graves

Nikki Nack by Tune-Yards

Our Love by Caribou – One of the ones that got away, Chrissy X, loved one of Caribou’s older tunes. How f**ked is it that I still think about someone that treated me like s**t? Goddamn you, Chrissy X.

Comics

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Three (DC Comics)

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman (DC Comics)

Wasteland (Oni) – One issue left!

Wasteland_36_Cover

Jupiter’s Legacy (Image)

Helheim (Oni)

Brides of Helheim (Oni)

Rat Queens (Image) – Really damn good. Also played The Resistance with the writer. Super great guy!

Rat-Queens_01_Cover

Veil (Dark Horse)

Nowhere Men (Image)

Helblazer vol 1 (Vertigo)

Hit (BOOM!)

Constantine vol. 1: The Spark and the Flame (DC)

Evil Empire (BOOM!)

The Black Hood (Dark Circle)

Batman: Arkham Knight (DC) – I love DC’s weekly digital titles.

Batman-Arkham-Knight_01_Cover

Fables: The Wolf Among Us (Vertigo)

Mortal Combat X (DC)

Trees (Image)

Afterlife with Archie (Archie Comics) – I reread this and loved it even more. How can you beat this page? You can’t.

Afterlife-with-Archie_04_Vegas

The Walking Dead (Image)

They’re Not Like Us (Image)

Life with Archie (Archie Comics)

Imagine Agents (BOOM!)

Flash Gordon (King Dynamite)

Bitch Planet (Image) – Maybe Kelly Sue‘s masterpiece.

Bitch-Planet_01_Cover

Wytches (Image) – “Pledged is pledged”

Wytches_01_Cover

And I’m out!

Posted in General