Thursday, September 23, 2010

How long should a graphic novel be?

I really enjoy following along with bloggers who are working on new projects. It helps me feel like there's a support group out there that is waiting to support me, even though they don't know who I am yet. In this case, someone has posted their thoughts for a new screenplay - but of course, it's a secret (just like me!).

I really feel like there's a parallel between people who want to share their progress believing that if they make their ambitions public, that they can be held accountable to follow through. That's been my strategy, anyhow.

Demystifying the Graphic Novel

Here we have a link where someone stresses than publishers ARE interested in graphic novels.
Scholastic editor Nick Eliopulos is a graphic novel fanatic! At the 2010 SCBWI LA conference he shared his experience making the graphic novel The Sons of Liberty. He had so much insight into the graphic novel universe that I couldn’t fit it into one post! So if you have even an inkling about writing your own graphic novel then read on my fearless friends!

Publishers Want Graphic Novels!

  • Graphic Novels have gotten bigger and bigger in the publishing world in the last ten years. But progress is slow. Publishers are still trying to figure out how it all works.
  • Publishers see graphic novels as a way to expand their current market and get new readers.
  • Graphix is the Scholastic imprint that publishes graphic novels. They published Bone.
  • Graphic novels is growing in the publishing industry, everyone want to do one, but they are being picky due to cost.
  • Manga has hit a wall.
Follow the link as they discuss the following questions: What kind of stories can be graphic novels?; Tips on writing and pacing your graphic novel; Finding an artist for your graphic novel; What do publishers want in a manuscript?; Great ways to promote your graphic novel; etc, etc. There's lots of great stuff at this link.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Graphic novel news

Man ... if you start looking, you'll definitely start finding plenty of news on graphic novels. Dozens of them all the time. That being said, there is lots to hear about ...

Kenk: graphic novel humanizes Toronto's most notorious bike-thief without apologising for him

This is really interesting - taking a well-documented news story and telling it as a graphic novel. Very interesting - the choices in terms of which medium you prefer to tell stories by always amazes me; especially when an unconventional choice is made.

Richard Poplak and Nick Marinkovich's Kenk: A Graphic Portrait is a journalistic inquiry into the life of Igor Kenk, Toronto's notorious stolen bike peddler, told in comic form.

I've known Igor since I was 18 years old, and truth be told, I found him confusing, likable, maddening, hilarious, charismatic, criminal, and even honourable after his own fashion. The Slovenian entrepreneur and bike-mechanic was a packrat (Kenk implies that he is a pathological hoarder, and I think this fits) and a seamy, rough-and-ready type who seemed to have stepped out of the pages of a Bruce Sterling story. He occupied a succession of shops at the western end of Queen Street in Toronto, long before the neighbourhood became fashionable, back when it was a depressed and seedy little strip in the middle of nowhere.

Igor used to fix my bikes (and very well, too, at reasonable prices -- and even on credit when I was broke), and inevitably a simple repair would turn into hours of conversation out front of his shop or back in its jammed interior, sandwiched into the tiny clear spaces between the mountains of bike-junk and refuse harvested from sidewalks and garage sales and dumps. I traded in my bike for a better one, paying the difference with cash, just before he was arrested in the early 1990s, charged with selling stolen bikes. Among the bikes that the police seized as stolen property was my old bike, which I had owned for 15 years and had traded in fair and square. I concluded then that no matter what Igor was up to, he was also being railroaded by the authorities.

That bike I bought from Igor? It was stolen later that month. The day after it was stolen, I went down to Igor's shop to get a replacement (on credit -- I was skint), just as two guys showed up to sell Igor the bike I'd just had nicked. I was inside the shop and Igor came in and said, "Go out there and pretend you're a mechanic, look the bike over, I think it's yours." I did, and gave Igor the nod. Before he could say anything, the two guys took off -- one riding his bike, the other riding mine. Without saying a word, Igor grabbed a bike from his stock and chased them down. A few minutes later, he rode back with my bike in tow, and charged me $10 to replace the fenders the thieves had stripped.

I knew -- everybody knew -- that Igor was dealing in stolen goods. Every second-hand merchant does (I was working in a used bookstore at the time and I'm certain that some of the books we accepted for cash or trade were hot, though we could never have proved it or readily distinguished them from the legit product). But Igor seemingly played by the rules: when he bought a bike, he recorded the seller's name and the bike's serial number, held the bike for the required period, and if no one came to claim it, he sold it.

But Igor also dealt in enormous volume, and bought bikes from guys who were so sketchy that it strained credulity to believe that they were just keen-eyed pickers who found yard-sale bargains and arbitraged them to Igor for resale. And indeed, in the end, Igor was arrested after he was caught instructing some of these suppliers to take a pair of bolt-cutters and steal a particularly nice bike.

The resulting arrest revealed a trove of over 3,000 bikes in various states of repair. More than 500 of them were claimed by Torontonians, who rose up in ferocious anger over Igor, whom the press characterized as the kingpin behind Toronto's epidemic bike thievery. On blogs and vox pops, Torontonian cyclists howled for Igor's blood, and the world's press picked up the story, calling Igor the world's biggest bike thief.

And perhaps he was. But whatever he was up to, he wasn't your average bike-stealing junkie or a mobster who dealt in industrialized theft as part of a criminal empire. Igor was a character.

In Kenk, Igor is a character in an engrossing, well-told journalistic account of his life and times. The author and illustrator worked with footage from a documentary on Igor by Jason Gilmore, using stills from footage from the year before his arrest, along with roughed-up, xerographic reproductions of newspaper stories, blog screenshots, framegrabs from newscasts, and found objects.

Through this odd documentary style, the creators build up a picture of a complex, dysfunctional, philosophical pathological case. Igor's early years as a kid in Soviet Yugoslavia and then as a cop in the Slovenian police force set the stage for his move to Canada, and the beginnings of his practice of hoarding all manner of consumer junk picked at markets, fleas, yard sales, and dumpsters. Igor is brought to life in his vehement ramblings about the wastefulness of Western society, the instability of economics, and the author and illustrator perfectly capture his fractured eloquence and epic Soviet grouchiness.

But while Kenk's authors humanize Igor through their tale, they don't apologize for him. Having read Kenk, I'm more convinced than ever that Igor really was a hub for Toronto's stolen bike trade, and that he knowingly nurtured it even as he decried dishonesty and waste.

The act of humanizing Igor makes him both more and less culpable. More culpable because it's clear that this intelligent and thoughtful man was deliberately choosing not to bear responsibility for his choices, using elaborate, self-serving justifications for his deeds. But more forgivable, too, because his real kindness and generosity, his humour and passion are all also on display, making him more than the criminal kingpin caricature that appeared in the press at the time of his arrest.

I've felt ambivalent about Igor since the conviction; the last time I saw him was a few months before the arrest. He admired my daughter, ribbed me about having read about me in the press, and was, all in all, the same guy I'd known for more than half my life. Nevertheless, I couldn't deny the depraved indifference to suffering that accompanies complicity in the theft of peoples' mode of transport, nor excuse it.

In Kenk, Poplak and Marinkovich manage to express empathy for Igor without excusing any of his misdeeds.

Review of Stargazer

You can follow the link and read the review for Stargazer - but what I like the most about this is ... the trailer.

Trailer for Stargazer
What I haven't seen before is a trailer for a comic book, on Youtube. Pretty neat.

More graphic novel news concerning my man Sam Rockwell

Sam Rockwell will join Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde in the upcoming film adaptation of the graphic novel Cowboys & Aliens, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The casting re-teams Rockwell with his Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau. Rockwell plays a bar owner who joins a team of cowboys and Native Americans who team up to fight off an alien invasion. The part was originally meant for a heavy-set actor, but when Favreau and the writers learned Rockwell was interested in acting in the film, they re-wrote the part just for him.

William Monahan to write 'Oblivion'
William Monahan, the guy who won an Oscar for his "The Departed" screenplay, is set to write the big-screen adaptation of Joseph Kosinski's Radical Publishing graphic novel "Oblivion" for Walt Disney.

"Oblivion" goes like this: In a future where the Earth’s surface has been irradiated beyond recognition, the remnants of humanity live above the clouds, safe from the brutal alien Scavengers that stalk the ruins. But when surface drone repairman Jak discovers a mysterious woman in a crash-landed pod, it sets off an unstoppable chain of events that will force him to question everything he knows... Joseph Kosinski developed the original story for the graphic novel.

Kosinski's career took off after he got the job to direct the upcoming "Tron: Legacy." Monahan also wrote "Kingdom of Heaven."

Transformers: Prime Graphic Novel Preview

Follow the link in the header to read the first few pages. It looks very cool - featuring Cliff Jumper.

Transformers: Prime
Mike Johnson (w) • E.J. Su, Allan Jefferson, David Daza, Joe St. Pierre (a)
This all-new graphic novel adventure leads directly into the hotly anticipated TRANSFORMERS PRIME animated series! In this epic first adventure, battles across CYBERTRON have left CLIFFJUMPER and his fellow AUTOBOTS in desperate need of help against the threat of MEGATRON and the evil DECEPTICONS. What is it that leads them from war-torn CYBERTRON across the galaxy to Earth? Find out in this special feature-length story!

TPB • FC • $9.99 • 96 Pages • 5” x 7” • ISBN:978-1-60010-832-7
Expected in-store date: October 20, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Movie and graphic novel packages

"Ah, Mark Millar is back in the news again. After Warren Ellis joked at Comic-Con about how "you never write a graphic novel thinking about making it a movie," specifically naming Millar, the comic book writer is back with another big adaptation with a few big names from Hollywood attached."
- watch for this quote later on in the post.

It seems that a lot of graphic novels are being developed with movie deals packaged with them regularly these days.

Dead Space 2 movie and graphic novel announced

Much like the first title EA has announced two new products in the Dead Space franchise; Dead Space Aftermath and Dead Space Salvage, both set to expand the Dead Space lore this winter as part of the pre-launch campaign to Dead Space 2.

"It is tremendously inspiring to see Dead Space continually expand to more media," said executive producer of the Dead Space franchise Steve Papoutsis, "It has always been our goal to experience the universe through multiple lenses and our vision is being realized. The Dead Space world is living, breathing, and terrifying. We couldn't be more excited about these new offerings."

Aftermath is an animated feature that explains what happened during the first-responder mission to Aegis VII and and Salvage is a graphic novel that tells the story of a rogue group of miners who come across the USG Ishimura.

Graphic novel 'Lore' being adapted for big screen (exclusive)

Andrew Lazar's Mad Chance and Circle of Confusion are teaming up to give IDW Publishing graphic novel "Lore" the big-screen treatment.

Cory Goodman, the scribe who wrote the Paul Bettany vampire thriller "Priest" for Screen Gems, and Jeremy Lott will write the screenplay.

The producers are hoping to launch an action-adventure franchise in the vein of "Men in Black," this one focused on mythological creatures. The story focuses on a young man who reluctantly becomes a member of an elite secret order charged with protecting humanity from the beasts of folklore who invade our world.

The comic was created by Australian Ashley Wood and T.P. Louise, who at last year's Comic-Con sold the rights to their book "World War Robot" to Jerry Bruckheimer.

- Borys Kit

Also sneaking into this post is a zombie television show mention. I'd not heard about this, but apparently television will get "The Walking Dead" also produced by Lazar, which is being produced by AMC.

Bonus: More on Lore

Green Lantern 2
Yeah - the first movie is coming out shortly with Ryan Reynolds (will it be cool? or will it be Dare Devil all over again?). I saw an image of the Green Lantern's costume, and the responses from fans are mixed (but mixed closer to the bad end).
Warner Bros. Pictures has hired Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) to write the screenplay for Green Lantern 2. The first film is scheduled to hit 3D and 2D theaters on June 17, 2011.

Greg Berlanti, Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim were previously hired to write a treatment for the sequel that would have Ryan Reynolds return as the DC Comics superhero who's part of the Green Lantern Corps.

Filming just wrapped in New Orleans, Louisiana on the Martin Campbell-directed movie, produced by Donald De Line.

Goldenberg's credits also include Where the Wild Things Are, Peter Pan and Contact.

Tony Scott set to direct adaptation of Mark Millar's 'Nemesis'

Ah, Mark Millar is back in the news again. After Warren Ellis joked at Comic-Con about how "you never write a graphic novel thinking about making it a movie," specifically naming Millar, the comic book writer is back with another big adaptation with a few big names from Hollywood attached. Deadline and Bleeing Cool report that 20th Century Fox has acquired the big rights to Millar's graphic novel Nemesis and has attached Tony Scott (who has been in the news a lot recently) to direct with Scott Free developing as well. Nemesis was published in March by Marvel's Icon Comics imprint with Steven McNiven doing the art in it.

Nemesis focuses on Matt Anderson, a billionaire genius who's the world's greatest fighter bent on avenging the death of his parents. The twist is, they were villains and he's a bad guy, a costumed vigilante who travels the world, picking off top cops. He returns to DC to launch a campaign of terror against Blake Morrow, the police chief who captured the caped vigilante's parents. Mark Millar wrote on his site: "Our dream was an Ultimates movie with Scott directing because he can do the character work and the intensity, but also handle scale and action like practically no other. The idea of a him helming a superhero movie had us giddy." Fun.

To me this sounds like it could be good, as long as it has a strong story, great characters, and as long as Tony Scott can actually direct a kick ass movie. I don't hate Mark Millar as much as some people out there, so I've got nothing against him. We're still not sure when we'll even see this adaptation anyway, as Scott has about 50 other projects on his upcoming slate. The three projects he's choosing from next (Potzdamer Platz, Hell’s Angels, The Associate) don't even include Nemesis, but we'll keep you updated on this anyway. Thoughts?

Last Man Standing sells to Paramount
Check out this studio art! Awesome!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Of self-publishers and assassins

Self publishing a graphic novel:
These steps aren't particularly thorough - but if you do them, you will technically have published a graphic novel. Step one, write/draw it. Step two, scan it. Step three, edit the pics into a comic format. Step four (my favourite step): Obtain funding. Grants, such as the Xeric Grant, are available for graphic novelists planning to self-publish. Step five, send the scanned images to a printer to print.

This is probably the least helpful step-by-step list of how to self-publish I've ever heard in my life - BUT maybe it's this simple? It sure sounds simple (they make no mention of time, effort or cost - but Hey, nobody asked about that, I guess).

Understanding BoothOne of the things we talk about with writing a story is developing a deep character that people empathize with. In this case, someone has gone through the history books to focus on the life and actions of Lincoln assassin, John Wilkes Booth. It must have been a lot of work to try and create a civil war era character with such an infamous destiny into a protagonist in a novel - but it also must have been a very rewarding journey. Read the interview with the author here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

got the set-up

It's taken a little while and some time off - but I've taken some time to set up a small office space in the basement that I can sit down and work at to develop more of the graphic novel and do more of my artwork, which is excellent (the space, not the artwork).

Here you can see all of the books and references on my shelves. These had been in boxes for the past few months - and I'm relieved to have them all back. One 'reference' book I have not been able to find since the move has been my Bible. I don't read it all that often, but so very often, many of the myths and stories in narratives today are analogies or interpretations of parables or stories from the New or Old Testaments. I like going back and reading the originals and seeing how the new interpretations have borrowed from the original text and what changes are made. I think that's really important when it comes to understanding what an author is doing.

[Many people/writers will keep volumes of the seminary texts of the English language including the anthologized work of Shakespeare, for the same purposes. They can be incredibly useful for adding layers of meaning to a story, by referencing an old inspirational seminary text.]

Anyhow - no Bible yet. Don't know where I put it - but it definitely should be amongst the rest of my books. Now I don't know where they wound up - I must have another box somewhere that has the rest of what I'm looking for.

You can also see a PC tower (that's over ten years old, basically a glorified digital photo album that I need to get the pictures off of before I discharge it from service for good) and monitor, my laptop, a great spot by the window with natural light, and two desks along with a guitar stand. Nothing helps fuel creative juices like plunking the guitar for a while. Also, I'd like to put some diplomas and awards up on the wall to inspire/remind me of the work I've accomplished in the past.

From here you can see all the great lighting I'll have on the drafting table. A three-way standing lamp that has five lights, as well as a bonus 80 watt bulb for more light, a printer/scanner/copier, a cork-board for visual references, a pair of slippers, a great supply of standard 8.5" x 11" paper, a hole punch, and a giant stock of sketching pencils and inking pens. It's basically ready to go - and that's exciting to me.

One of the most important tools in the room: the radio. Drafting and drawing do not lend themselves well to watching television. It's hard to keep your eyes on both - BUT the radio! Ah, I love the radio. Talk radio, sports radio ... generally not anything that plays music. And very shortly the Leafs games are going to be on every evening. Man, it will be wonderful.

So - stay tuned. I've got a lot of original content to put out in the next little while, and MAYBE I'll post a few deadlines I'd like to commit to. If I do - then I'll be able to let you know exactly what to expect, and when. Which puts the pressure on me, but also means I'll have something to show for myself and my hobby.

Friday, September 10, 2010

kinda stuck

So - I've edited the first draft, I'm happy with the script, I've sketched a few settings, have designed a few characters - but I just don't seem to have the momentum to move forward yet. The switching from "writing" to "drawing" this thing is a bit different - and unexpectedly stalling. I thought I was going to be all "gung-ho!" but that has yet to be the case.

First off - I was doing most of my writing at our "dining room" table - it's currently an office. But my drawing board and stuff like that is all in the basement. And while it's a very nice basement, I'm not sure I'm excited about spending hours and hours in it - even though I know I'm going to be very excited with the finished product. I've been planning for this for a year and a half!

I guess you just have to get down there, get in a groove and get going. Before all of that, I'm going to go through a few magazines and see if I can't find some faces and fashions that I'd like to use on some of the remaining characters in the script. I've got to get them figured out sooner or later.

Thanks for following along.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What if Wes Craven wrote a graphic novel?

The graphic novel genre is really picking up steam. I think that comics are able to capture the macabre world and serve it in a more palatable way (perhaps more profitable way?) than movies are able to. These days movies require hundreds of millions of dollars (seriously!) to produce and promote so that they get a profitable return. So making a bunch of slasher / apocalypse movies which are costly and gruesome, they're also very narrow-scope for movie-goers. Not everyone crowds the theatres for The Hills Have Eyes. Yet, they probably shouldn't be crowding the theatres for the Fantastic Four, either.

Comic books (rebranded with the more attractive and mature name of Graphic Novel) is able to create corny super-heroes that aren't necessarily caught up in 'the real world.' There is a mental approach to comics that say - hey, let's leave the real world and watch shit get disturbed.

Anyhow - it's interesting (and exciting) to hear that horror icon Wes Craven is interested in writing a graphic novel. reports:

“I’m thrilled to be working with Liquid Comics and Cheyenne Enterprises on the development of an original idea for both a comic book and for a subsequent film based on it. It’s an idea I’ve been dying to get out there, and working in collaboration with Sharad Devarajan and Arnold Rifkin will be the ideal win/win way to do it,” commented Craven.

Details on Craven’s story have not yet been released and Liquid Comics is currently engaged in dialogues with leading creators in the comic book industry to work with Craven on the project. The graphic novel deal was finalized by Craven’s team at WME, Industry Entertainment, and Ziffren Brittenham LLP.

So - the movie is still on the table. The comic fuels the movie, and then the movie comes out, and surely that will fuel the comic. Works well. I'm sure My Sister's Keeper got a boost in sales when the book was made into a film, even if it did have Cameron Diaz in it.

Case in point, a comic I've never heard of called Astro-City will be developed into a movie. reports:
Working Title Films partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner have made a deal to turn Kurt Busiek's graphic novel series Astro City into a live action feature. The deal gives the prolific comic book writer Busiek his first chance to write the script. Launched in 1995, the series has a Sin City anthology vibe, set in a world crammed with superheros and super-villains. Stories are told from the vantage point of those heroes and villains, as well as the humans who get caught between them. Heroes range from Samaritan, The Hanged Man, The Apollo Eleven--a group of astronauts mutated during a moon landing--to Winged Beauty, a feisty feminist who always saves women first. The series has won multiple Eisner and Harvey Awards for Busiek, who created the series with artists Brent Anderson and Alex Ross.
So you can see the pattern here. Graphic novel gets adapted to screenplay, and everyone goes home the richer.

The Watchmen
Here's a link that's posted in a Batman forum that appears to have been written way back before The Watchmen film came out - but it captures my feelings for why it was such a great story after all. The author makes mention of many of the characters' similarities with Batman (which I don't care too much about) while also showing how the story moves from a murder investigation story into a saving the world story. I like the review and share the author's feelings for the book.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

scene sketches

Yesterday I simply sketched up some scenery for some of the settings that will appear in the first couple of scenes. It's something that has to be done, as well as some character design. While I know what about three of the characters will look like with any certainty, there are still a dozen more characters I have to design - as well as their fashions, too. I'm not particularly good with fashion, myself.

First up is Dr. Casey Miller's office at the museum he works at.

Next is the camarasaurus in hall of vertebrate paleontology at the museum the archaeologists work at.

This is Dr. Howard Bolam's office - it looks pretty big. I don't think either of these guys are going to have particularly large offices. That doesn't really make any sense to me. Most university prof offices are holes in the wall in old buildings.

Here is a stage that a major presentation will be made on. Two archaeologists will enter from opposite sides of the stage to a round of applause in the first few scenes - and it may look very much like this.

So there, barring any desperate efforts for design or photoshopping, I think this has turned out quite nicely. I hope you're excited about this, too.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Finished next draft

Well - I finished the review and editing of the first draft, and the third act had what I would almost consider a rewrite. There were important parts that I've always expected to be in the final that weren't even there. I can see now that I was just writing to get something down on paper so that I had something to edit later.

Frankly - I was a bit surprised and disappointed with myself to have omitted some of the details and action and characters. What was I thinking when I wrote this thing? But, gladly, there is always time for a review, always time for an edit - and now I'm quite happy with how things have turned out with it.

This morning I wrapped up the last few bits of the script and that's great. I'll have to review it and see how it feels one more time before I'm ready to start the official writing - but that doesn't mean that I didn't already start drawing/drafting some of the settings from the first act. I'll post them very shortly. I'm excited to see some of the material actually came to me quite naturally - normally when I'm drawing settings I require a reference, normally a photo or a picture, to borrow ideas and details from. But I've got a decent idea of my settings so far, and was able to come up with some good stuff without much need for references.

Anyhow, I'm in a fight about furniture right now - can't continue posting my ideas.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Taking your time

What I've enjoyed with taking my time to make this project work has been the ability to have inspirational sparks come to you - and incorporate them into the script as you're going. So a day or two will go by and you've been thinking about the story and characters, and then you'll see something, or think of something, and it's just a great idea that fits the story - - then I plug it in.

I know for a fact that if I'd rushed this together and taken a long time with it, that it wouldn't be anywhere where it is now, it wouldn't contain all the layers that I believe it has now. Which is great. As I've said, I'm rewriting some of the final few scenes, and a story spark struck me - it made sense, it fir the story, and it really did something for the protagonist going forward. It may be a little difficult to explain or depict in the story - but that doesn't mean that it's a great way to carry the story forward.

AND - while I've known what the closing image for this particular script is going to be for a few months, the development of the final act has inspired me to almost take a new direction with how the story works. It's been very, very illuminating. I'd hate to say that I didn't know where this was going while I was writing it - but considering where I'm going with the story now, looking back ... I simply didn't know what I was going to do.

For the entire series, I have a new archetype to follow along with, a new allegory to parallel, a new closing image to build toward - everything is new and inspired and layered with deeper meanings for me. And that's more exciting than ever.

Take your time when you're writing - especially a larger body of work. Let new ideas influence your story and its direction. It's making this process more enjoyable for me, that's for sure. Best of luck on your own endeavours.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Rewriting the Third Act

I've been editing and rewriting bits of the script as I go along - and in the process have been sparked by a new way to reinvigorate the final few scenes with more character motivation, more exposition, more action and hopefully more empathy from the reader, without adding too much more dialogue. Just rewriting, retooling, recasting and reorganizing. A good rewrite, if you ask me. This is a strong day for the script! We're getting very close to a finished script for production. That's really exciting. So exciting, I had to post a blog about it.

So there you are. ;)

It would be interesting to measure how much work went into this script by the quantity of pots of coffee I drank while writing it. How many pots?

Perhaps when I write the second chapter of this series I'll keep a running tally. I like quantitative measures that you can use to keep track of. It seems more like progress is coming along when you've got a word count, page count, scene count, timeline and ... a running tally of how many cups of coffee you've consumed while writing.

Batman's Arkham Reborn

I have to admit that I don't read a lot of comics or graphic novels. I have always, always loved the way that they capture a new world and environment and go forward with it in pictures. The artwork has always been a joy to consume - but I never got into the habit of getting comics, or following along with the characters. And I almost feel like I've been left out seeing how many comics are turning into movies (esp. knowing that The Watchmen - a successful movie by my standards) was such a complete story in comic form before the film. I had no idea.

Anyhow David Hine has written a new chapter to the Batman series, focusing on the asylum of Gotham City.

In a recent interview with Comic Book Resources, David Hine said: “I have a natural affinity for crazy people. If you look at my work, particularly [my Image graphic novel] ‘Strange Embrace,’ you’ll see I’m more interested in twisted psychological thrillers than action stories. I’ve learned to write action scenes because that’s so much a part of the American mainstream comics scene, but those scenes are always less important than the psychological stuff. The trick is to externalize the psychosis so that you can make it work dramatically.”

If he was looking for psychosis, he came to the right place with Arkham Reborn.

The book picks up where Hine left off in his Battle For The Cowl: Arkham Asylum one-shot (collected in Batman: Battle For The Cowl Companion). The asylum has been rebuilt after it’s destruction at the hands of the mysterious new Black Mask. Under Dr. Jerimiah Arkham’s guidance, it now looks more like a temple of healing than a prison for the criminally insane. But Arkham’s honeymoon is short-lived, as strange things start happening to the inmates, pushing the doctor himself to the brink of sanity. The story then jumps forward to shortly after the events of Batman: Life After Death. Black Mask is now an inmate, and Jerimiah Arkham must ask himself if he’s the one truly running the asylum. Or for that matter, if he’s ever been the one.

The premise sounds like an exciting blend of a psychological thriller as well as a demented taste of action and insanity. Of course Hine needn't create his own characters or environment what with borrowing it all from DC comics and decades of commercial success in the franchise (Except Batman Forever).

Tomb of the Undead

I've been taking my edits and rewrites and reconfigurations and ideas and applying them to the existing script I drafted out last month. So far, I've managed to get through the first two acts and I'm quite happy with how it's going. I'm eager to get started on the artwork and production, so I don't know how much longer I'll take to carefully ensure that every little detail is exactly what it should be before I get to production.

Will you find plot holes and inconsistencies when you read it? ... my guess is that you will. I've never been to France, an airport in Pennsylvania, a curator's office, an archaeological dig, Cyprus or Greece, the Mediterranean Sea, in a plane crash, in a slaughterhouse or the European countryside, for example. So even my scenery will be a bit flawed, let alone ever held a position as an archaeologist, priest, rabbi, prophet or assassin. So this is definitely going to a genuine work of fiction, despite the historical research involved - I didn't conduct any interviews with professionals on my subject matter. If I were to move in a more professional direction with this - I'm sure that I would.

Anyhow - the script is around 31,000 words and 115 pages (1.5 spacing) right now - which is a large body of work. I'm excited to get more work done on it. It's really come together as a cohesive unit where the characters all have some input on the plot and development of protagonists, which are good signs that I've done lots of work on the script. I'm happy with it.

I hope everyone will enjoy as it move along.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I spent some time this morning working on a key element of the first and final acts which is basically a puzzle/poem that archaeologists discover in the first scene, which they crack in the last scene. This meant that I had to know what the puzzle was going to be, how the characters would come to solve the puzzle and what solving the puzzle would lead to. Now that the details are in place, I'm that much closer to doing my artwork.

Also, after editing during my first read-through of the script as a whole, I made plenty of notes on how to shorten some dialogue, speed some scenes up, add extra important details and clues and make interesting, cohesive layers to the story, characters and scenery.

So - of the 113 pages I printed out in the first rough draft, I've editing the first 44 pages (which is about scene 9 of the second act - just a little ways before the mid-way point. So that's good for a day's work. I'm excited that it's coming together as well as it is.

I'm really looking forward to being able to start sharing the story with everyone.