Kelly Sue Wins WonderCon 2014 – April 24th, 2014

Yeah, that’s right, I said Kelly Sue DeConnick wins WonderCon. She even beats out that baby Predator.

Let me rewind. As I’ve recently rekindled my love of comics, and have even started scripting my own book, I decided to attend WonderCon 2014 with my buddy David. As he’s also trying to launch his own comic, but we both come from a film background, we were focused on learning about the comic book industry. That meant panels, panels, panels! What did I attend?

The Art of the Pitch by Disney & ABC – Okay, yes, this wasn’t a comic themed panel but as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this is the most lucrative television writing fellowship out there, so I had to attend. The focus was simple: learn to pitch yourself. In 30 seconds, hook someone on you. As I’m an introvert weighed down by Catholic guilt and a Quaker’s sense of modesty, this is incredibly hard for me but I accept the challenge. Over the summer I’ll work on pitching myself in half a minute. With any luck I’ll get to use that new found skill when interviewing for fellowships.

Just What Does An Editor Do? – First, huge props to Barbara Randall Kesel for being an amazing moderator. It’s a skill that gets too little recognition. As for her panel, it was great. In short, an editor is to a comic book as a producer is to a film. Sure, you get to offer notes (that might even be heeded) but you could be called upon to do anything from scheduling unruly creatives to hounding payroll to setting up booths at a convention. That panel rocked!

Comic Book Law School – This informative session offered lots of great advice, including a packet on copyright vs trademark vs patent, but I had heard a lot of this back in film school so I mostly spent this panel prepping for my next one.

Comic Creator Connection – Wow, there is nothing like pitching your idea to 20 artists whose blood sugar is crashing (a note to the organizers: next time schedule this in the morning instead of just before dinner). This was an eye opening experience and I learned a lot about what works in my pitch and what landed like a lead balloon. Also, I think I met 2-3 artists I’d like to follow up with… now if I could just find their business cards.

Top Cow Turns 22 – If you’ve followed my blog, you know I submitted to the Top Cow Talent Hunt this year, so you can guess the only question I wanted answered. When Matt Hawkins announced that all the winners had already been contacted, my heart sank. I’m damn proud of my script but I was bummed.

Spotlight on Kelly Sue DeConnick – This was the perfect panel to lift my spirits. First, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard Ben Acker speak before but he was great! Completely different from Ben Blacker, who is an awesome moderator. And I haven’t even mentioned Kelly Sue. In this quirky interview she was funny, charming, heartfelt and gracious. The rumors seem to be true. Kelly Sue is the bee’s knees.

ComiXology Submit, The Future of Self-Publishing – Although they were keeping mum about the Amazon acquisition, it’s clear that these guys are the Netflix of digital comics distribution. And while it wasn’t explicitly mentioned, it seems that if you’re an indie creator without a distributor, you really should price your digital comics at $0.99 each. That’s what Joshua Hale Fialkov was charging for The Bunker before Oni picked up the series. Now they’re charging $3.99 for the current issue, discounted to $1.99 a couple of weeks after release. BTW, his book is excellent so you should pick it up even if it were twice the price.

Making A Comic Step By StepTom Pinchuk, Yehudi Mercado and Shawn DePasquale took one page of a comic from script to layout to pencils to ink to color to lettering to the finished product. This was exactly the kind of nuts and bolts panel I needed. Also, they reenforced something brought up in the previous panel…

 

Kelly Sue DeConnick On Writing – This one panel made WonderCon worth the shlep behind the Orange Curtain. In 50 minutes, Kelly Sue delivered an information packed lecture about scripting for comics and even managed to answer every question asked. Kelly Sue, you are Captain Marvel.

Inside The Writers Room, aka Earth’s Mightiest Writers Re-Assemble – While still high on Kelly Sue, I wandered into this talent packed panel to bask in the creative light shining off these guys (and one lady). I can’t really remember anything but I do remember they were smart, funny and enlightening.

Breaking Into Comics The Marvel Way – My last panel of the con was packed with talent that I admire (Kelly Sue, Mark Waid, Marjorie Liu, James Robinson) but not many nuggets. The lone exception was someone suggesting that if you’re a writer that’s never been published, you’re better off doing an anthology than a single issue. Why? Because 1) you can write a variety of stories and 2) your various artists only have to do 8 pages, not 22, so they’re less likely to flake or procrastinate. The one hitch is that it’ll be a logistical nightmare, so you better get yourself a great editor.

And that’s that for the panels. I also did walk the floor a lot, bought a few comics and chatted up some fellow nerds.

All in all, it was a great experience. Now it’s time to get back to writing.

Posted in Off-Topic

Heartbleed Explained – April 23rd, 2014

Hopefully you’ve all changed your passwords by now but I stumbled across this excellent explanation of the Heatbleed bug, courtesy of this website, and I wanted to share.

heartbleed_explanation

Let’s be careful out there.

Posted in Off-Topic

Two Belated Music Fest Wrap Ups – April 21st, 2014

Wow! These were supposed to be quick and easy wrap ups but I got all caught up in deadlines for three writing assignments. Lame excuse, right?

First, SXSW. Here’s a link to all my photos. I haven’t updated the tags to reflect the bands and, at this point, I probably won’t for a *long* time. Sorry, but all my spare time has to go to writing. Here are a choice few.

And here’s a Spotify Playlist of the bands I saw at SXSW.

As for Coachella…

Here are the bands I saw:

    • GroupLove
    • Haim
    • Kate Nash
    • Neko Case
    • Ellie Goulding
    • Glitch Mob
    • Chromeo
    • The Replacements
    • OutKast
    • Chvrches
    • Kid Cudi
    • Capital Cities
    • Future Islands
    • Lorde
    • Fatboy Slim
    • Empire of the Sun
    • Pharrell Williams
    • Pet Shop Boys
    • Damien Lazarus
    • Lee Burridge
    • Zoe
    • Superchunk
    • The Naked and Famous
    • Neutral Milk Hotel
    • Calvin Harris
    • Lana Del Rey
    • Disclosure
    • Arcade Fire

Those bands that impressed me: GroupLove, Chromeo, Chvrches, Lorde, Fatboy Slim, Pet Shop Boys, Lana Del Rey (yeah, I KNOW!), and Arcade Fire.

Those that blew me away: OutKast, Neutral Milk Hotel, Calvin Harris.

Here’s my Coachella Playlist.

Over and out!

Posted in Off-Topic

Disney Sends Me Into A Panic – April 3rd, 2014

Yesterday I caught an update from blogger, and my Twitter crush, Amanda Pendolino. In short, Disney has changed the application requirements for their writing fellowship. Not only do they want a spec of a current show, they want an original pilot too.

Crap. I don’t have a pilot written.

Help Button

So my choices are either 1) don’t apply to Disney, who offer a one-year fellowship that pays $50k, or 2) get a pilot written by June 13. That’s in addition to my comic book pitch (due April 18) and my spec of The Americans (due April 30).

TheAmericans_SexyTwoShot

If I do submit to Disney, then my schedule might look like this…

Week One (Now – April 6)

  • Tear Apart the First Draft of My Spec – I just printed out the first draft of my spec and I know I need to create a new outline and breakdown the character/emotional conflicts/arc for each scene. It’ll be a lot of work but it’ll give my script a dynamic energy, a sense of speed and flow. I also need to watch some episodes of The Americans so I can have all the characters’ voices in my ear. This will take up the majority of my free time this week/weekend.
  • Send Out Comic Book Pitch for Critique – I signed up for the Comic Book Creator Connection at WonderCon on April 18 and I need to have a 1-page document and a 2-minute pitch ready to rock by then. This week I will start sending out my pitch document to some trusted readers for notes.
  • Logline Due for Pilot – I must be able to articulate the plot, interpersonal conflicts and emotional territory of the pilot in 3-5 sentences. I can work on this whenever I have 5 spare minutes.

Week Two (April 7-13)

  • Start Rewriting Spec- I will to start from page one and concentrate on the Teaser and Act One this week. I’ll focus on the character’s needs/wants and give the dialog a major face lift. If I can rewrite 3-4 pages a day, I can make good headway while digging deep into the pages.
  • Rewrite Comic Book Pitch Document Based on Notes – It’s 1-page. People can get back to me in a week, right?
  • Practice Comic Book Pitch- I can probably do this in the shower and while driving in the car.
  • Start Outlining Pilot -  I’m going with a basic cable format (thinking FX or AMC) so it’ll have a teaser plus five acts. An hour a day should help get this rolling.

Week Three (April 14-20)

  • Continue Rewriting Spec – This week I’ll be concentrating on Acts Two and Three, but I’ll still be reviewing the script from start to finish. Again, 3-4 pages a day over two weeks will get me to somewhere between pages 42-56.
  • Polish Comic Book Pitch & Execute – I give my pitch Friday. Also, when the heck will Top Cow announce their winners? Friday night I’m getting ripped at Trader Sam’s. Feel free to join.
  • Keep Outlining My Pilot – I ‘m aiming for a 5-10 page outline.  Over two weeks that’s less than a page a day. That’s doable, right?

Week Four (April 21-27)

  • Start Writing Pilot – No bones about it, I have to hit 3 pages/day. By the end of this week I’ll be at page 21.
  • Last Chance to Rewrite Spec Draft – This week I’ll focus on Act Four (the show is a teaser plus four acts). Once that’s done, I’ll start a polish by reading my script from the last page to the first; it helps freshen the script for my tired eyes. I should do this for 2 hours a day minimum.

Week Five (April 28-May 4)

  • Submit Spec – It’s due April 30. Maybe I’ll pay someone to do a spelling/grammar check.  Once submitted, I’m calling an Uber, I’m getting a stiff drink, I’m eating a steak and I plan to sleep at least 12 hours.
  • Keep Writing Pilot – Another 3 pages/day will get me to page 42 by the end of the week.

Week Six (May 5-11)

  • First Draft Due – That Sunday I should have a 62 page pilot script. I will print the first draft. It’ll be ugly but it will be a first draft.

Week Seven (May 12-18)

  • Take Two Days Off – It helps me regain perspective and it allows me to rest those creative muscles. I’ll exercise, eat healthy, catch up on other shows, read.
  • Tear Apart My First Draft – I always do this with a pencil and a printed script. I figure three days of reading and notes in the margins.
  • Start Rewriting – If warranted, I’ll start moving scenes and rethinking action.  But if my outline served me well, I’ll be concentrating on dialog, character and tone. I’ll try to give the whole script a pass but I’ll really concentrate on the Teaser and Act One.

Week Eight (May 19-25)

  • Second Draft Due – This week I’ll be concentrating on Acts Two and Three, but I’ll still be reviewing the script from start to finish.

Week Nine (June 2-8)

  • Third Draft Due – This week I’ll focus on Acts Four and Five. Once that’s done, I’ll start a polish by reading my script from the last page to the first; it helps freshen the script for my tired eyes.

Week Ten (June 9-13)

  • Fourth Draft Due – Last chance to be awesome. Also I’m sure I’ll have a ton of supplemental material to hand in, such as a resume, bio, statement of purpose, all the stuff you leave until the last minute, right?
  • Submits Spec & Pilot – Friday I hand in my materials. And then I think I might take the weekend off and head out of town.

And that’s how I would get the job done. Now I just have to decide and commit.

Posted in Screenwriting

Everybody Come On Fhqwhgads! – April 1st, 2014

Good lord, I forgot how much I missed Strong Bad

StrongBad

and The Cheat.

TheCheat

And now I have the Strong Bad / Daft Punk mash-up I never knew I wanted.

For background, here is The Cheat and his light switch rave.

And for old school fans, here’s the original.

You’re welcomed.

Posted in Off-Topic

I Want Powers – March 31st, 2014

File this under “fantasy job” but Sony just announced a show based on Powers by Brian Michael Bendis and I want to be in that writers room.

Powers_Cover

For those in the dark, Powers is about a couple of NYC cops that solve crimes committed by people with super powers. The art is great and the stories are dark and addicting, so it’s perfect for television (we’re still calling streaming shows “television”, right?).

Why would I be great for the show? One, my TV writing has always been about badass, albeit damaged, females in sci-fi / action settings — my two most successful specs have been for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Nikita. Two, Powers was one of two comics I was reading when I had forsaken comics (the other was Y: The Last Man) so I’m a huge fan of the series. Three, as a screenwriter that’s working on developing his own comic titles, I have a keen understanding of both mediums.

Powers_Cop-Car

So, when do I start on the show? That is unless the Iron Fist show snaps me up first.

On a tangent, remember that post about writing a new spec? Well, I’m about 2-3 days behind. I should have printed my first draft last night. Instead I’m on page 38 of 55-60. My goal is to marathon my way to the finish line tonight. This is in addition to prepping  a comic book pitch for the middle of the month. Nothing like realizing that next month will be a blinding blur of work.

SXSW 2014 Day 5 – March 16th, 2014

My first act of the day was Mia Dyson.

She rocked the hell out of the church she played at.

Next was Le Youth.

DJs with me are real hit or miss… my next act was Anamanaguchi.

This is my second time seeing these guys at SXSW. Their new stuff is darker, more expansive, but still true to their original concept.

My next act was Air Traffic Controller.

I’m not usually a fan of Americana music but these guys won me over.

I then raced across town to catch The Eastern Sea.

They sounded great but I just wasn’t feeling it.

Next I raced across town to catch Washed Out… but first I should tell you that I ran into the bassists/vocalist for Air Traffic Controller on the way.

We were both headed to the same show. I chatted her up, gave her my contact info and I feel like a pimp; oh, come on, grant me this, today of all days.

… and Casey, if you’re reading this, if you get to LA, let me take you out for a drink and a nice dinner.

… but we were talking music. Yes, Washed Out.

They sounded great, albeit a bit more rocking’ than on the album.

And with that it’s time for my pick of the day. I pick the ladies.

Mia Dyson

When The Moment Comes

… and Air Traffic Controller.

You Know Me

Adios.

Posted in Off-Topic

SXSW 2014 Day 4 – March 15th, 2014

Today was a pretty epic day and it started out with sneaking in to the sound check for Damon Albarn.

Although it was “Damon goes acoustic” he sounded great. I get why everyone goes nuts over him.

Next I was intending to catch a nap but then I heard someone just killing A-Ha’s “Take On Me”. It was El Conjunto Nueva Ola.

Apparently the key to winning me over is to make me smile and dance because these Latin rockers did just that.

Next it was The Hold Steady.

I’m not fan but I can definitely see the appeal, and the lead singer works his butt off for the audience.

Next was Phantogram.

Although paired down, they sounded good and damn is that lead singer a cutie.

Next I raced to a church to check out EMA.

She sounded pretty good and damn I was smitten.

After her was Angel Olsen.

I understand why she’s the next buzz act but would it kill her to smile (she’s damn cute when she smiles).

I quickly caught a couple of numbers by SW/MM/NG.

They had a good indie rock sound.

Finally I got to check out a band at the Japan Nite, one of my favorite SXSW events. Meet Jungles From Red Bacteria Vacuum.

Name aside, these ladies know how to rock the punk sound.

Next was a very mellow set from Mayu Wakisaka.

That’s what I love about the Japan Nite. You have a punk act followed by an easy listening singer-songwriter.

A quick run across 6th Street got me to check out Mexican act Division Minuscula.

Wow, were their fans in effect!

Next was GEMS.

They sounded pretty good despite audio issues.

Another race across town got me in to see Warpaint.

I gotta admit, I liked them a lot more than I thought I would.

And I ended the evening with the Japanese jazz rock sounds of Sentimental City Romance.

For my pick of the day, it’s another split. First, El Conjunto Nueva Ola (this track doesn’t do their live show justice).

Take On Me

And my second pick is Phantogram.

Black Out Days

Hasta.

Posted in Off-Topic

SXSW 2014 Day 3 – March 14th, 2014

Today was about long encampments and it started out at the convention center. The first band was Papa.

A decent rock quartet with a drummer that sings. Is it coming in the air tonight? Maybe.

Next was another LA band, NO.

It’s easy to dismiss these guys as a facsimile of a more National-y known band but they sounded great and rocked the hell out of that ballroom.

Now here there was a switch in the schedule so I sat through Real Estate.

They had a great, clean sound and managed to get some audience members to dance in the front; this is an impressive feat. Trust me.

Finally I caught the Dum Dum Girls.

Raven haired, jangling vintage instruments, dressed like the Victoria’s Secret goth collection, what’s not to love?

Next I ran down to the trade show to see Caught A Ghost.

They were doing a pretty good job of updating that 60′s soul / R&B sound, plus they had a cutie from Veronica Mars in the band.

I ran to church to see one of my favorite Midwest honeys, Haley Bonar.

Once again, she manages to blow up my expectations with a couple of her songs. Bravo.

A quick jog down to the Dirty Sixth and I caught Fofe Y Los Fetiches.

Yeah… so then I caught Svper.

They were more my style. I was really digging the female singer, too.

I then ran down Brazos for another bit of trench warfare. The first band was some sort of Stevie-Nicks-meets-techno act called White Sea.

Next was Gary Numan.

Yes, the guy that sings “Cars”. First off, he sounded great. And he looks damn good, too. I wonder what keeps him looking so young.

The final act of the night was Blondie.

Not bad for a 68 year old woman. Also, when she seamlessly transition from Rapture to The Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right To Party”, she did so like a champ.

So, my pick of the day… I’m gonna split it between NO

Leave The Door Wide Open

… and Haley Bonar.

Last War

Enjoy.

Posted in Off-Topic

SXSW 2014 Day 2 – March 13th, 2014

The day started off in the convention center where I caught a couple of acts. The first was Tennis.

Next was Moses Sumney.

Both brought a wonderful mellow start to my day.

Next I caught Eagulls.

They got a great, post punk sound.

I then raced across town to catch Tokyo Police Club.

These Canadians make it sound so easy.

Another race across town got me to see Cloud Nothings.

I’m sure they were great but the venue was not working in their favor.

As I started another trek across town, I stopped by to check out The Cold & Lovely.

They had a great, open, shoe gazer influenced sound.

I then caught Highly Suspect.

They gave a great shot of rock from Brooklyn.

Now, at this point I’m willing to admit that while all these acts were good, none had blown me away. Then I caught buzz band Cherub.

Holy! These guys brought the fun and energy I was craving. I danced, I smiled, I have my pic of the day. Enjoy.

Doses and Mimosas

Hasta.

Posted in Off-Topic