2 Guns

This is a heist book, pure and simple. Steven Grant serves it up well, and BOOM is serving it up for free. They're releasing it as a webcomic and right now I'm trying to figure out which way is up with this thing. That's a good thing.

It starts with plans for a bank robbery. Simple enough. It gets complicated when we find out a bit more about our would-be thieves. One's a deep cover DEA agent and the other is an undercover Naval Intelligence officer. They're playing each other but who is playing both of them. Most of the action follows the DEA agent, Bobby, who's getting the seriously short end of the stick. Kinda sucks when it seems like the only person you can trust is the guy who shot you.

This one's got a bit of everything. Government agents, black ops killers and even some rather nasty gangsters. The writing is solid. As a reader I felt a bit confused, but it was a well planned confusion. Bobby's looking for answers and we're along for the ride. The art is solid as well. It's not overly flashy, but it tells the story well and seems very suited for this tale. Overall it's a subtle book. It doesn't jump in your face, but it rewards patient readers with a fun bit of mystery to unravel.

Vote: Nozz

Found out someone's planning on writing my name in in the election next week. Of course I'm not old enough to be President. Still the thoughts of such power are appealing. It does make me ask myself what would I do if I was President.

I'd support that whole Bill of Rights thing.

Taxes? Screw that. I'd install the Fair Tax. Buh-bye IRS.

Waterboarding? No more! This would be replaced by Vic Mackey with a bottle iodine and telephone book.

Governments bail outs? Nope. These with companies fail, well that's just how it goes. And no more pressure from government to make loans and give credit to those who can't handle it. That's the crap that started this mess to begin with.

Supporting the troups? Hell yes. Whatever you need, gang. Just keep taking down those bad guys.

Secure the borders? Oh yeah. Big fence and deport those little pricks who aren't even trying to get their paperwork together. I know the immigration process has a lot of hoops to jump through. I've got no problem turning a blind eye to that person who's having some trouble with the process, but is actually trying. It's those little pricks who are just here to make a buck, are here completely illegally and don't even make an effort to learn the language that piss me off.

Yeah, I could never be President. I'd end up with too many whiners complaining how I'm too insensitive for the job or something. That's OK, the fix is in anyways. I'm still going to vote though, if only for the satisfaction on canceling out the vote of some brain-dead Obama supporter.

If you can listen really closely, you can actually hear the founding fathers turning in their graves.

I'm being watched....

No. Really. My rantings and ravings keep popping up in the damnedest places.

I don't know much about boxxet.com but damned if they don't keep yanking stuff from this blog. It even said to visit here for more information about Blue Beetle. That's horrible pressure. Now I feel I have to actually write on a regular basis about Blue Beetle. That would be much easier to do if John Rogers was writing it again. He gives good Blue Beetle. Not that Matt Sturges doesn't give good Blue Beetle, however Sturges is like a rally damned good hamburger and french fries, I'm talking Royal Red Robin with the endless basket of fries good; however Rogers is a well cooked steak, easily consumed but the kind you want to take your time to fully appreciate. Oh, and add in baked potato with my order of John Rogers. Don't forget the butter.

Then my Wonder Woman post popped up over on When Fangirls Attack. When I first saw this bit on Google I was expecting the Fangirls to actually attack. Which, if I'm gonna go, that's the way I want to go. There was no attack. This makes me wonder if I'm currently in their good graces and they'll attack stuff for me. I could sic them on Deffiant Douche. That way I could be amused and perform a public service all at the same time.

Then Steve Rolston tossed up a bit from my Emiko Superstar post up on his live journal. My friend Bridget accuses me of having a fangasm over it. I'm here to say that no such fangasm occurred. I have no comment on the little happy dance I did in my living room. Yes it's true. I love Steve Rolston. But it's for his art. Honest. That, and the sideburns. Those are some seriously cool sideburns.

Then there was the offer to test a pheromone based cologne and write about it. I thought about spraying Johnson with it sending him into the Winchester to see what would happen. It would be science! MOTHER F'N SCIENCE!

Woo, that 7-11 coffee is strong.

Then I said something about BOOM! Studios. They sent me a very nice e-mail thanking me. As such I am cancelling my plans for revenge on Mark Waid for his join effort with Todd DeZago that totally killed my shot at that totally hot waitress at the Gorilla Press party in Charlotte. Yes, I know it was eight years ago, BUT SHE WAS SERIOUSLY F'N HOT! So yes, even though I have already acquired the monkeys, there will be no vengence.

So people are watching. No pressure. And no vengance monkeys.

Yeah, damn strong coffee this morning.

In league with Lucifer....

Post title borrowed from the first HIGHLANDER movie. That's right, I'm waving my geek flag.

Post title borrowed from the first HIGHLANDER movie. That's right, I'm waving my geek flag.

is coming in December. This is a limited series about a thief, Lucifer, who deals with the occult. Michael Alan Nelson (CTHULU TALES) teams up with newcomer Emma Rios to bring us this one. The initial feel reminds me a lot of Joss Whedon's FRAY. Our thief doesn't sport cool Slayer powers, but instead relies on her bag of tricks to make things happen for her.

The first issue is a bit light on action but sets things up nicely. Rios's art is quite nice and suits the story well. The lead isn't an "uber-babe" and fortunately isn't drawn as one. It's a nice change of pace. Despite having a heavy supernatural aspect to the story, the characters aren't completely over the top. This jarred me a bit. I was expecting something more outrageous from the cast, but this works in making the occult parts of the story that much more jarring. Luci pulls some really outrageous stuff, but to her it's completely business as usual.

At least it's business as usual until a former employer tracks her down to settle a debt.

Solicits are due in October 28th, so if this book sounds like your cup of tea, head over to your LCS (local comic shop) and place your order.

Times achangin'...: part 3

Comics have changed a lot over the years and the evolution is continuing. Independent comics are not what they once were. It used to be a creator had a vision and would put his work together and find a way to get his work printed and distributed. I'm talking about the guys who were working their day jobs to keep those bills paid and trying to get the work done and stash away enough money for supplies and printing. These were the guys very familiar with the taste of Ramen noodles. Hunger can bring out the best in a creator.

With the coming of the internet and the advances of high speed connections the game has changed. It is possible for viewers to check out full color pages efficiently. Used to be it too a while for even black and white images to come up. I know this because NIGHT LIFE was on the web back in '95 and '96. James Madison University had stuff from the campus newspaper online back then and my comic strip was part of it.

So, now you don't need the money for a print run, you just need a site for hosting your work, and you can find free ones out there. You need a scanner. Really, that's about it. This makes it a lot easier for creators to get their work out there, and solves the problem of distribution.

This also poses a problem.

There's an absolute glut of webcomics out there. It's unreal how much there is. So, you have to sift through them to find the good stuff. This can be a rather involved process, but much like browsing the racks at the comic shop for something new you're going to find stinkers as well as gold.

Right now I'm following a few: Finder, Girl Genius, Sinfest, Fragile Gravity and a few others. These have been around for a while. They have firm readerships and they put out a quality product. They're a good jumping on point for those of you that are new to webcomics.

Really it breaks down to three types.

Hobbyists: these are the folks that are just doing it for fun. Absolutely nothing wrong with it. They don't take it very seriously, but sometimes you can find some gems in there.

Wannabes: these are the guys who think they have the hottest thing out there. Their parents and friends told them how awesome they're stuff is so they're inflicting it upon anyone who clicks their way. They often don't take criticism well.

The real deal: these are the ones to watch. They meet their update schedules. They consistently turn out decent work. They thrive on criticism both good and bad and use it to try to improve. They don't conduct themselves like petulant children. These are the people who are actually trying, and have the chops. They have stories to tell.

The web is the new proving ground for new writers and artists. The next generation of talent that you will see working for the big companies will be culled from the web. This is the new indy scene.

Time's achangin'... : part 2

So, I have no interest in Marvel and my enthusiasm towards DC is greatly diminished. Where does that leave me? It leaves me open to things I haven't picked up before. I made the joke in the 'Fanboy Dictionary' that anything not published by Marvel or DC was an 'independent comic'. If that were actually true then Archie is an indy comic. Kinda nukes the old stereo type.

That's right kids, there much more to comic books than just Marvel or DC. This should be apparent to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention. HELLBOY is getting action figures, animated shows and some very cool movies. Frank Miller scored big with big screen adaptations of SIN CITY and 300. SPAWN has a huge following and has had figures, cartoons and a movie. These are just four off the top of my head. Venturing outside of the big two yields some very fun results.

For me, I've recently started getting into MADMAN, THE GOON and BONE. Good times all around. For those who haven't really ventured outside the big two, here's an idea of what's waiting for you.

DARK HORSE comics have been around for decades. This is where you're going to find comics like SIN CITY, THE GOON and HELLBOY but also STAR WARS and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. This is where you'll find a lot of really great, high quality, creator owned works. There's not a lot of your 'traditional' super heroes flying about, kinda a spandex free zone.

IMAGE COMICS has had it's ups and downs, but like it or not the founders struck a major blow for creator ownership when they broke away from Marvel and went their own way. This is the company that gave us SPAWN, THE SAVAGE DRAGON and host of others.

ONI PRESS is one you may not have hear off. However, if you've heard of Judd Winick or Greg Rucka then you should be familiar with them. This is the company that produced THE ADVENTURES OR BARRY WEEN: BOY GENIUS, WHITEOUT, and QUEEN AND COUNTRY. These are award winning books, and I've currently been spending a lot of time lately drooling of the grand gloriousness of the QUEEN AND COUNTRY absolute editons that are being released.

Then there's BOOM STUDIOS which is currently working very hard to suck me in and doing a fine job of it. I'm predicting this group becoming major players, and not just because they had the good the sense that DC didn't and made Mark Waid editor. Here's the best part about these guys: if you're leery of forking out the cash n something new, they've taken the sting out of that by offering some of their titles FREE on their site. So, once you're done here, go read you some free stuff. I'm currently working my way through 2 GUNS.

That's just a glimpse of some of the other stuff out there. So, by now you're thinking, 'OK, Marty's heading off into the wilds of indy comics now.' This is true, but what I talked about above isn't it.

More later.

Times a-changin'...

I'm not liking what I am seeing from where my entertainment money goes. I one consistent expense for my own amusement is my weekly comic fix. The majority of the comics I buy are DC. DC is heading in directions I don't like. What really galls me is that the writer attached to much of what I'm not liking is someone I had been a fan of: Geoff Johns.

What I liked about Johns was that the stuff he wrote was genuinely engaging to me. He's very good at hooking a reader in. I liked his FLASH run. I loved his TEEN TITANS run. He's still doing stuff I enjoy. I love BOOSTER GOLD. But then things start to pop up. GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH was the first big bump in the road. Its no secret to anyone who has followed this blog for a while that I feel that DC should have never brought back Hal Jordan. I think it degrades the excellent stories, like FINAL NIGHT, however I went along with it. I picked up the first few issues of the new Jordan starring series and now had evidence of something I knew all along:

Even though I loved Hal Jordan when I was a kid, I'm not a kid anymore, and Hal Jordan isn't really very interesting.

Seriously folks, who would you think I'd relate to: the fearless, skirt chasing jet test pilot or the artist/graphic designer who was in the right place at the right time but does his best to step up to the plate?

Fast forward to this week. LEGION OF THREE WORLDS #2 and ROGUES' REVENGE #3 hit the stands. Both penned by Johns. ROGUES' REVENGE wraps up things paving the way for the impending FLASH: REBIRTH (very imaginative title, insert eyeroll here please), bringing the return of Barry Allen to the title role of the FLASH comic. As I've written before, this is easily the stupidest move I've seen DC make. To make matters even stupider, at the end of the issue in question, the Rogues are referring to Allen's return, saying he's the Flash that never cut him any slack. If he's coming back then it's big time trouble.

Barry Allen? Hardcore? Whiskey tango foxtrot?

Moving over to the Legion. Yes, I've written and sent my letter trying to save the current series. Then I go and read LEGION OF THREE WORLDS. I want to say I haven't seen such bias in a long time, but its an election year so we know that's false. George Perez is the sole reason that this book wasn't a complete crapfest. Perez, as always, brings all the goods to the table, and while I rarely endorse a comic solely for the art, I will do so here. Kudos to Mister Perez. Jeers to Johns. We get the textbook, big super villain team up. We get the heroes bickering over whether or not to bump off Superboy-Prime. We get Sun Boy seeing the action from his apartment, making a really corny line about a sun shining and retreating into his apartment, likely to write self-loathing poetry. Nice to know the emo fad has lasted 1000 years into the future. We get the horribly uncharacteristic writing of the Threeboot Brainiac 5. Add in some Green Lantern fanboyism and of course a character from the current Green Lantern books managing to still be alive a millennium later. I'm really on the fence about dropping this book. Lousy writing, but spectacular art.

My current pull list has been hemorrhaging DC titles this year. So what will this mean for my future as a read? Will I go over to Marvel? No, I dropped them back in '96 and see nothing there to entice me back over. Will I drop DC entirely? Also no, they're still putting out great titles like WONDER WOMAN and TINY TITANS, and those are works I'm very much enjoying still.

So which direction will I head in? DC seems to not want my business as much anymore with their insipid "retro trend". Honestly, if I want to read about the silver age Justice league, I'd buy the old comics, I don't need the characters resurrected. I'm not heading back over to Marvel, because I'm not into the whole Skrull-o-rama deal.

It's time to explore other options. More on this later.

The Fanboy Dictionary

They are out there and in case anyone out there is wondering what the hell they're ranting about, here's a helpful list of terms for you.

*BANDWAGONAGEDDON: n: the utter destruction of something good due to bad ideas being blindly followed

*CHEATING: v: the practice of using tactics that are deemed underhanded that even though villains do it on a regular basis only is advantageous when done by the hero

"Batman would beat Superman because he cheats."

*EDUCATIONAL: adj: used to describe any work that depicts how horrible life really is and should be given to kids to prepare them for the real world

"'The Killing Joke' is educational because it teaches you that it only takes one bad day to turn you into a serial killer and you need to watch out for those."

*FANBOY: n: one who reads comics and has such a brilliant understanding of them that the opinions of others are worthless unless they totally agree with him

*INDEPENDENT: adj: used to describe any comic book not published by Marvel Comics or DC Comics

"My favorite independent comics are 'Sin City", 'Hellboy' and 'Spawn'."

*ONLY: adj: used to describe superiority of a character over any other characters carrying the same name

"Hal Jordan is the only Green Lantern"

*PERFECT: adj: may only be used to describe the artwork of Jim Lee

*PROOF: n: a fact that supports an argument, inferior to the opinion of the Fanboy

"Your proof that Stan Lee did not work at Marvel when Captain America was created is meaningless. Everyone know that Lee created Cap."

*REALISM: n: the addition of horrible acts of violence in comic books to reflect how terrible the outside world really is

"Sue Dibny getting raped adds realism to 'Identity Crisis' because rape really happens."

*WIZARD: n: the holy text, on sale monthly, not to be argued against despite utter lack of any journalistic merit

"'Catwoman' was a great movie because Wizard said so."

Emiko Superstar

Months ago I picked up a freebie at Kings. It was the preview of the Minx line being put out by DC Comics. I didn't grab it because it was free. I grabbed it because it was different... and free. It featured many tales about many young women. Not the spandex clan crime fighters and world savers one usually imagines in a knee jerk reaction mention of comics. This was about women, by women. The preview book had a lot of solid stuff, and about halfway through I came across EMIKO SUPERSTAR by Mariko Tamaki and Steve Rolston.

I knew I had to have that book.

It got placed on my pull sheet the following week, even though the solicits for it were not in Previews yet. The guy who does my pulls had no clue what it was. Week after week we waited for mention of it. Patience got rewarded and Derrick told me he finally spotted it and ordered it. I was pretty happy, and then came the news that DC was shutting down their Minx line. I'd still get my book, but I'd have to look elsewhere for more. DC seems to be making a lot of crappy decisions lately.

I got the book this week. It's a small unassuming thing, easily overlooked in my collection by someone browsing and not knowing any better. The cover is perfect like that because that's what we're reading about: a girl who is so easy to overlook that even she doesn't realize how cool she is.

This is not a story for just teenage girls. This is for every person who wants to create and throw their work to the masses. Its for the wannabe artist. The people who know they have something to express but are either to afraid to do it or are struggling to find their voice. It's a look at fifteen minutes of fame for such a person.

It's an absolute gem.

It's an understated, twinkling, little star of a comic that you'll miss if all you're interested in is looking at the big constellations for the stories of the gods.

So if you've got $10 bucks to spare, give it a shot. Do it for the geeks like Emiko who are cooler than they give themselves credit for.

Writing a comic script

Chris has shown quite a few times step by step how he puts together his pages. I figure it's about time to detail the writing side. Now, this is not a 'bible' on how to write comics, but it's how I do things and hopefully will help someone out there out with their project.

1: Outline the story. I do a lot of note taking and sometimes a few sketches. I write everything down in good old fashioned spiral bound notebooks. Sure it's a bit old fashioned but I create better with pencil lead staining my fingers. Now, this is the point where you want to detail things about your characters as well as what you want to have happen in the story itself. I still write individual issues, so this is also the point when I figure out about how many issues the story is going to be. This is going to be trial and error for newer writers. I know how much I can pack into individual issues. Don't get frustrated if you find you need an extra issue or if your getting through the story faster than planned. Pacing takes practice.

2: Outline the issue. Most comic books have 20 to 25 pages of actual comic content in them. The rest is advertisements. My "magic number" is 22. I never write a script longer than 22 pages. This way if Chris wants to stretch out a scene he can do so. If I come up a page or two short of my magic number I don't add in just for the sake of hitting the number. Story is going to flow as it will. I again go back to my spiral bound notebook and number a page 1 to 22 and make notes as to what I want to have happen on every page. The notes are usually just one sentence, but if there are certain details that I know I need to reveal at a certain time or certain things need to happen I make note of them here.

3: First draft. I sit hunkered over the same notebook and write it all out. I refer back to my outline repeatedly to see where I'm at and where I'm going. This is when you're writing down all your actions and dialogue. I split up the page into panels and work from there. Being an artist myself helps a lot because I have an image in my head of what I'd do on the page. I write it down, but then that's completely open to Chris's interpretation.

4: Next draft. This is when my stone age ass sits down at one of them new fangled computers and types the bloody thing. I do much of my editing on the fly, changing little bits here and there. Often having to tweak the dialogue a bit here and there. After typing it all up, I wait a day or two before going back and doing the final edit.

Here's a sample:

Page 7

Panel 1

Joe continues to talk.

1. Joe: Finally I had had enough and fought back.

2. Joe: They got sent to Rooksgate.

Panel 2

Vernon asks a very important question.

3. Vernon: What made you finally fight back?

Panel 3

Joe goes silent for a moment. Doug perks up. He hasn’t heard this before.

Panel 4

Joe looks at Vernon.

4. Joe: You remember your first kiss?

5. Vernon: Yeah.

6. Joe: I don’t.

Panel 5

Doug stops sorting things and looks at Joe. Vernon is paying close attention.

7. Doug: What do you mean you ‘don’t’?

8. Doug: You never told me this.

9. Vernon: How can you not remember?

10. Joe: It was Richards. His telepathy.

11. Doug: Who was the girl?

Panel 6

Joe looks at the floor. Doug is utterly shocked.

12. Joe: Lily Florentine.

13.Doug: fuck.

The finished page can be viewed here. As you can see there's not a ton of action on the page, so Chris doesn't need a ton of direction.

Here's some quick pointers for scripting.

Keep in mind each panel is an individual frame. You can't have a character do "A" and then do "B". That's two separate frames.

I try not to put more than 6 panels on a page. I script loose and like to leave my artist room to breath. If you find yourself hitting double digits on your panel count for a page, you really need to move on to a new page.

If your word count in one word balloon or caption box exceeds 20, you're pushing it.

If the number of word balloons or caption boxes on a page exceeds 20, you're pushing it. I do maybe 15 or 16 at the most.


At the Baltimore Comicon last weekend, Senior Vice President and Executive Editor of DC Comics Dan DiDio announced the the cancellation of LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES. Not the best way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Legion. The plans are to scrap the current run and relaunch later with the Silver Age Legion team recently reintroduce back into continuity by Geoff Johns.

This is another example of DC Comics moving backwards instead of forwards. The current Legion book took a fresh look at the established characters and has sold better than any Legion book in the past 20 years.

I'm supporting a letter writing campaign to try to save the current book, and ask any fans of LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES to join me.

DC Comics
1700 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Attn: Dan DiDio

Make your letter intelligent and thoughtful please. If I can resist the urge to write "Eat it, Grandpa!" you can too.

Returned from Baltimore

The Con went well. Hopefully Chris and I got a new reader or two out of it. I spent the majority of day two frontmaning but managed to get in a couple of commissions. Talked to a bunch of really cool people. Got a little frightened of one girl who may or may not have a chemical imbalance. So, on to the shout outs!

Big thanks to or 'neighbors' Rodney Ramos and the gang from Burning Heart for putting up with us for two days. Lots of fun stories got shared and more than a few laughs. Howdy to Chris and Barry from Penguins with Baseball Bats. We had fun hanging out with them at the light rail and then they were good enough to swing by the table to hang for a bit. Thanks as always to our homeboy Dan Nokes for keeping the candy bowl stocked. We got to see Carla McNeil, which is always a treat. Huge thanks to Franco, who was absolutely as cool as I thought he would be.

Thanks to everyone who came up from Tidewater to hang out with us! Thanks to the Brittanies who kept Chris busy with commissions. Thanks to James Thomas, Big Rick, Derrick from Kings and Bobby Fresh for swinging by and helping us project the illusion of having fans.

Special thanks to Marc Nathan and all of his staff for putting on another great Con. We'll see them all next year.

In non-convention related news, the next installment of Tales of Night Life is up. Check it out.