BUT first, it needed to be reworked so that it could be rated PG.
I reworked the dialogue and cut the swearing. It lead to Alterna giving me a few more notes about dialogue, and, with their precious help, I believe the new version is actually better. Arthur has very a colorful language now and I love it.
I asked Nick what he wanted to draw and he said that insects would be fun. I remember that I had just watched Bruce Lee’s “Way of the Dragon” the night before so everything got mashed up in my head and I thought: “Karate Beetle!”
We set out to tell a micro epic in two pages with an ironic twist. I think Nick came up with some of this most fun and energetic drawings to date. So to be fair, Nick’s work is always full of energy.
This list is based off of the curriculum from Brian Michael Bendis’ writing class, as well as other recommendations from friends, and other lucky finds. I picked my favorites or, at least, the ones I believe to be the most helpful, should be read first or even re-read, perhaps studied. Simply put, books you should have at arm’s reach for easy reference.
Here is my Definitive list of Essential readings for Comic Book Writers:
One of my favorite books and the one I recommend reading first. It will give you a solid foundation, from the actual structure of your story to character’s archetypes. This is a great book that you will keep referring to and should keep handy. Plus, I feel like it makes all my writing super Mythical and Epic!
Another great book though, I felt, a little more dense. I found it easier to digest AFTER reading The Writer’s Journey since it builds on some of the principles explained in the first book. The script analysis of Chinatown is particularly exciting. This is a book you should read closely and by that, I mean STUDY it. Just like all the books on this list really. And yes, it is about Screenwriting but the same principles apply to Comic book writing.
The best book about the actual medium. Understanding Comics is a big fat comic strip about comics and how they work. Scott Mc Cloud takes you through everything that makes up a Comic Book, one panel at a time. You should also read his Making Comics.
Tons of good advice from the Legendary Writer with an interesting focus on the ‘Theme’ of your story. Also, the afterwords that he wrote 15 years later destroys everything he recommended doing in the book. Priceless.
More than a book about writing Comics, this is about the entire business of being a professional Comic book Writer. From your relationship with Artists to dealing with Editors, it proves to be the most original and innovative book of the bunch with advice from pros you won’t find anywhere else. This book will take you to the next level. Oh, it also gives you homework.
This is my new favorite book and one I keep handy. Nick Macari little book will truly take you to the next level because it assumes you already know about the writing basics and concerns itself with mechanics specific to the comic book medium. I am still learning from this great book. You can find some of Nick’s advice on his site here and make your own opinion.
It was back in 2008 that I played French soldier Marcel in the Word War II Drama: Everyman’s War.
It was being shot right here in Oregon and only a couple miles from where I lived at the time. I remember stepping onto the private property which I believe belonged to the director. It was a large, farm-like area with tons of space and several buildings, including a nice big house.
They were shooting a scene of a soldier lying down in the snow. Perhaps he got shot? I don’t quite remember, but since there was no snow at the time, he was lying down in fake snow, enough to fill the shot, everything else around him was green grass. It was kind of surreal. That Nazi soldier on a patch of fake gelatin-like snow in the middle of a green field as the camera shoots him down.
My character Marcel was a member of the french resistance. On the first day of shooting, I waited until about one in the morning before we got to my scene. I remember being asked to use a thicker french accent. It went fast. There was no notes or feedback so I assumed I did good but I always felt I could have done better.
The second day went fast too. That’s the day Marcel died, pulverized to pieces as a German bomb fell on him. The explosives were already in place but I was told it was not wired yet. I stepped into Marcel’s home, a small hole in the ground, and waved goodbye to my American friend as he walked away after a mutually beneficial transaction, the scene from the night before. We shot it only two or three times but I was sweating. One foot on each side of the explosives and the smell of gasoline. It was a bit scary to be standing in a hole with a bomb.
I got out of the hole. The camera was on a tripod, not to be moved or tempered with so that they could cut the footage from my waving goodbye to the explosion without a hitch.
They wired it up and boom. It was impressive. The loudness of the bang, the rise of the flames. I couldn’t help but imagine what it would have been like to be in that hole with the big boom. Thankfully, only Marcel died that day.
I have been reworking the dialogue and lettering on the story in order to get a chance for it to be published in an Anthology this year. Once it is set in stone, I’ll tell you everything, I swear. But for now, I would rather not.
This was a great opportunity to get feedback from an editor and give Arthur a stronger voice and more colorful language. I also fixed some of the lettering and actually cut some of the lines because some of the panels had way too much dialogue in them. It truly helped the flow of the story and created a superior version of the Comic that people really seem enthusiastic about. Good stuff.
Still, I feel bad. DKaotic’s artwork is so pretty that I would rather not put ANY balloons on top of it.
Check it out:
More good news came when I got my feedback from Top Cow. As you may already know, I am participating in the Top Cow Talent Hunt for the third consecutive year. I have to submit a 22 pages script based on the characters from the Aphrodite IX and IXth Generation books.
One of the big differences this year is that each participant who submitted his script and/or Artwork before the first deadline of January 15th received feedback in the second half of February.
I did receive mine. It was not only very positive but also very helpful. I am currently revising the script and doing my best to improve the dialogue in some specific scenes, literally agonizing over which word to choose in each sentence. I actually decided to step away from my latest draft for a week and take a step back because I know I am overthinking it.
The good news is that the final deadline is May 15th so there is still plenty of time to implement improvements.
Lastly, here is a link to some very cool advice for Comicbook Artists:
So I somehow totally threw my back out this week and it’s not getting any better. Besides that, I am fine. I am taking this opportunity to do some writing and try to be productive in spite of the constant pain. Do you feel bad for me yet?
The one thing I have been doing today is to read my Top Cow Talent Hunt entry for this year. Tomorrow, we (the contestants who have submitted their script before January 15th, the deadline for feedback) should be getting our one paragraph feedback. Yeah!
I figured that before I hear somebody else’s opinion on my script (and messes with my head and confidence?), I might as well form my own. It has been over a month since I have looked at it so you can say that I took a huge step back and can now look at it with fresh eyes.
I sat on my couch with my feet up (which really diminishes the pain shooting down my back to my legs… Are you sure you don’t feel bad for me yet?) and, armed with a pen and a legal notepad, I was ready to write down everything wonky with that script. And I did. But I also enjoyed it because that script does not completely suck and once the action gets going, it does not relent.
I love doing that because, yes, you might find a lot to hate when you come back to an old script with fresh eyes, but you will also find a lot to love. And the thing is, now that you see it, you can fix it. I sometimes make myself laugh when I reread some of the older Arthur King scenes because it is genuinely funny. Yeah, I make myself laugh and I am so not ashamed. I am my biggest fan!
I am so excited for the feedback tomorrow. If you have not entered the Top Cow Talent Hunt, it is NOT too late because the final deadline is May 15th. So, get comicing!
I am still submitting “Arthur King” to whoever still accept submissions and I actually got an answer from one of the publishers. No, they are not going to publish it BUT their answer was very positive and encouraging. So much so that I actually printed it, highlighted the kind words, and pinned it on the board by my desk along with other positive encouragements I keep right in front of me for motivational purpose. The fact that I actually got an answer at all is pretty amazing in and of itself. That was a Goooood day.
I am currently working on a submission for Titan Comics. They mention on their site that you get a better shot if you submit a 4 to 5 issues limited series. Arthur King was designed as a minimum of 6 issues but I think that last night I had a tiny breakthrough and found a way to cut the fat in some exciting way. Truly, this is what I should be working on right now so I better wrap this up.
I have been concerned with “High Concept”. When I took Brian Bendis’ class at PSU, we had to introduce our final project as a high concept. I had not idea what that meant so I just sat in front of the class and told the whole story. Brian was kind enough to let me I realize now. Yesterday, I read this article about it and realized that a high concept is basically what I have been calling my logline. It is the hook of the story told in no more than a couple sentences. For example, Arthur King‘s high concept is:
The legendary KING ARTHUR is reincarnated as an amnesiac, obnoxious hobo. With the help of a magical hitman with an anger problem named MERLIN, ARTHUR must find the Knights of the Round Table Magical Weapons and stop his mortal enemy MORDRED from finding the Holy Grail.
At least, that is where it stands now. The hook comes from the fact that King Arthur is now a Hobo.
Looking at some of the projects I am working on now, I realize that they are not very good since they do not land themselves to a High Concept pitch quite yet. One of them is just a straightforward revenge story. I have yet to put together a strong High Concept and I am working on that before I even bring them to DKaotic’s consideration. My High Concept MUST wow the reader or audience and that is freakin’ hard.
I (finally?) started a Pinterest. The board you can see is just a general cool stuff one. I actually created a ‘secret’ board for each project I am writing so that I can fool myself into thinking that procrastinating on Pinterest is actually productive (it is not) but I’ll have plenty of pretty pictures to show an artist down the line.
It is quite useful to see how professional writers put their Comic Book Scripts together. Even though there is no official Comic Book Script format, you get to see how each writer format their script for one of the Big twos or for their own independent projects. More importantly, you can see how they effectively communicate with their respective artists.
The first script I ever read was Mark Millar’s Civil War. That’s a real treat and you can find the entire script on Amazon for super cheap.
The latest script I read was Bitch Planet issue 3 by Kelly Sue DeConnick. You can find it on that awesome website that is The Comic Book Script Archive along with the script for the latest issue (numero 6). Scripts are organized by authors here. It is often updated with new scripts and tips and tricks such as Jim Zub ‘s critic of a student script which is ripe with advice for comic book writers. Definitely worth adding to your bookmarks.
Another valuable resource is Brian Michael Bendis’s website, JinxWorld where, in the writing section, you can find plenty of his scripts for Marvel, from the Avengers to Ultimate Spiderman and even his creator-owned hit Powers.
Finally I have been reading short scripts on the MillarWorld thread. All the contestants who participated in the MillarWorld Talent Hunt this year are welcome to post their scripts and get peer feedback. It has been a fun one to follow and everybody is real nice and helpful which makes for good internet fun.
Nothing else much to report on the writing front. I am still developing a couple projects I hope to transform into a fabulous pitch with the magnificent DKaotic.
I am also anxiously waiting for the one paragraph feedback from Top Cow Productions on my 22 pages script submission. That should hit my Inbox on February 15th.
Honestly, I don’t really feel like blogging today.
Yes, it is Sunday and Sunday is blogging day but I would rather be immersed in the world of the stories I am currently working on. What happened is that earlier this week (or was it last week?), I contacted DKaotic, the artist with whom I worked on Arthur King, to let him know I really wanted to work with him again.
And he responded with an enthusiastic YES which really made my day. And no, it’s not just because DKaotic and I are both French, though we all know that French people are awesome.
My goal for this year is to develop a new pitch, taking into account everything I learned from putting the Arthur King pitch and short story together. I aim to develop pitches for 4 issues mini-series since, from what I have heard from professionals (especially on the excellent Word Balloon Podcast), it is much easier (if easy at all) to get picked up by a publisher if you pitch a shorter 4 issues story. You know, because I am still very new to this and no one knows me, except you.
I had such a great time working with DKaotic and I enjoy his Art and work ethic so much that I am currently developing projects for him.
You should really check out what he’s been up to on his website and on his portfolio.
Below is a video of one of my favorite thing of his, truly inspiring stuff:
Now you can see why blogging today is not my favorite thing to do. I would rather be spending time in DKaotic world.