What if King Arthur was reincarnated as a rambunctious, amnesiac hobo?
I wrote this story about a year ago. At the time, I had found an artist interested in working with me. He enjoyed Fantasy and World War II stories very much so I wrote three short stories for his consideration.
Unfortunately, the whole thing fell through.
The story of Arthur King was clearly my favorite out of the three. It quickly became more than an 8 pages story and I developed it into a full multi-issue Comic Book run. I figured I would make the 8 pages story part of a pitch that I could send to potential publishers/ editors. I hired an artist on Elance called Dkaotic (Website, FB). He provided beautiful, dynamic artwork and was a joy to work with. Make sure to check him out. And I ‘m not saying that just because he happens to be french.
I did the lettering which was quite challenging but also my best-looking lettering job so far.
I printed a few copies and will hand them out at RCCC and send them out for submission. I hope that Arthur King can gather interest since it would be a really fun story to tell and, I hope, to read.
Earlier this week, I received the commission I purchased from Artist Randy Emberlin at the Rose City Comic Con. Artists charge per character so if you want her or him to draw more than one person, you have to pay more. I was on a budget (aren’t we all?) so I asked him for something special and a bit tricky: Mystique in the process of transforming (morphing) into Wolverine. Here is the terrific final product!
Like several others at the signing, I was on my way to Things From Another World for another signing. Artist David Marquez (Ultimate Spiderman) was there to celebrate the release of his new Marvel title Invincible Iron Man #1 written by Brian Michael Bendis. Kelly Sue wrote a special congratulatory message on the back of a Bitch Planet poster, tore it to pieces, and gave the “bitch chunks” to us so that we could give it to David. I became one of her trusted messenger, bringing a piece of that bitchy puzzle with me.
David Marquez was taking the time to sketch variant covers and, after I delivered my piece of the puzzle, I asked him to do a version of the Invincible Iron Man #1 cover with Brian Michael Bendis as Iron Man:
It really depends. Listening to music while you write can really help you flow and cancel the rest of the world out. Sometimes though, you just need silence in order to focus on the task at hand. I usually listen to music when I am JUST writing. It helps me write and get in the mood when I am free flowing, writing long hand, or scripting. But when I am editing, working on more technical aspects of my writing, and reading my dialogue out loud, I usually don’t listen to music.
When and IF you need music to write to, you have several options out there. Let’s take a look.
Make your own project specific playlist:
This is what I do. For example, as I write this, I am listening to my Arthur King playlist. It is built around Led Zeppelin and other 70s and 80s rock songs. I’m not sure why this is the soundtrack to Arthur King but it is. It just fits the book. I even picked a theme song for Arthur: “Whole lotta Love“. The only thing about building your own playlist is that you need quite a large catalog of songs to choose from.
What turned me on to Spotify was Kieron Gillen‘s (The Wicked and the Divine, Phonogram) playlist. Kieron created a project-specific playlist for The Wicked and the Divine on Spotify so that he can share it with the world. He also created a collaborative playlist that his readers can contribute music to if, for exmaple, they think it speaks to the world of the book. His work revolves around music so it makes perfect sense. Spotify is free if you don’t mind limited access and ads.
As an alternative, you can also go to 8tracks.com. They have playlists of music to write to already put together by users. It’s fast and painless.
Or you just want some random ambient sounds:
You can use asoftmurmur.com to build your own rain and thunder soundtrack, a fire by the beach, or birds chirping in a coffee shop. Up to you. I like to mix the singing bowl with ocean waves in the background. Very Zen.
Another interesting one is Radio Aporre which “plays recordings from its global soundmap project.” Some people might like it but I find it to be sometimes too distracting for writing. Though it’s still cool to listen to recorded “ambience” from everywhere around the world.
In the end it’s up to you. I know that music sometimes simply help me “sit and get started” which is often the hardest part of any writing. As long as it helps you and keeps you motivated, do it. Find you music and maybe even your muse in it.
I am currently working on a Comic Book Pitch for Arthur King.
Writing a comic book pitch is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I actually believed that I already got it since I had a logline, a synopsis, and an outline ready to go. But a pitch is so much more than just a run down of your plot and, simultaneously, so much less. It is like squeezing concentrated story juice.
So I did some research and found a couple resources that have proven deadly helpful.
I spend all day yesterday trying to distill my story to its core essence and asking myself questions such as “Why should we care?” “What it is about?”
Though I have answers to those questions, the real challenge is to present your story in a concise and entertaining fashion. People are not interested in a simple run down of your plot scene by scene. Instead, you should spark their interest with a snappy logline. Show them your characters’ arc(s) and tell them the entire story in one paragraph or so. No more. You should also follow their guidelines, if any. For example, the editor I am sending my comic book pitch to wants no more than 3 pages.
What that pitch does right is that it has ART. Lots of it. You must include some kind of artwork; so yes, you must find an artist and work with them. It’s even better if you have sequential artwork, not just sketches.
What is wrong about this pitch is that I run through the entire story, basically providing a moment to moment outline. Loony is a 12 pages story and I ramble on for over a page and a half! Not good. Can you imagine if I did that for a 6 issue story arc? Yuk.
One more thing. Writer Brandon Seifert (Witch Doctor) has been sharing some of his pitches on his Facebook page. They are prime examples of what a one page comic book pitch should look like. Intriguing and quite brilliant. They make you want to read his stuff! And that’s exactly what your comic book pitch should do.
This week end, I went to the Rose City Comic Con 2015 in Weirdtown, Oregon; and it was fun, and I saw stuff, and I have blurry pictures to prove it.
First off, there were so many good panels that I could have spend the entire week end sitting in a room, listening to comic book professionals schooling me on Writing, Art, and Life. I did manage to extirpate myself out of the panel rooms and explored the crowded show room floor, talk to friends, and buy some cool (and cheap) stuff.
Five things stood out most.
These are my five highlights from Rose City Comic Con 2015:
Kelly Sue hands me a delicious cookie and blesses me. She murmurs: “May the Bitch be with you”.
This is how the super-packed Bitch Planet panel started. Its red-headed priestess of Feminism in Comics welcomed us for a pagan celebration of hope, challenging your own programming, and defying expectations. My favorite quote of hers on that day was: “It’s okay, you can cry and kick ass at the same time.”
2. The “Comics and Twitter: How to hang out without being a jerk” panel with Phil Hester (Green Arrow, Ant-Man), Erica Henderson (Squirrel Girl, Jughead), Christopher Sebela (High Crimes, We(l)come Back), Daniel Warren Johnson (Ghost Fleet, Space-Mullet, Green Leader) and moderated by Donny Cates (Buzzkill, Ghost Fleet, The Paybacks).
Kuddos to Donny Cates for putting this panel together.
I never liked Twitter but it is a necessary tool (evil?) in the comic book creator’s box of social media stuff. From promoting your own work (and others) to simply hanging out and having a conversation like a human, I learned how to no longer be a dickhole on the internet. Yeah.
Best known for his work on G.I. Joe: A real American Hero, I had the pleasure of listening to this master of the craft over the weekend. To learn that he was treated as a pariah for writing “toy” comics was both surprising and enlightening. What really struck me was how humble this industry veteran was. He shared his thoughts on creating compelling character-driven stories, base characters on people you know in real life, and being fulfilled with the work that you do.
Legendary Comic Book inker and local teacher Randy Emberlin was busy-busy this week end, chatting up attendees and knocking down commissions like a superhero-drawing machine. I had to get on the bandwagon and asked him for something special. Since he charges per characters for sketches, I asked him to draw Mystique transforming into Wolverine because I have yet to learn how to not be a dickhole in real life. The sketch should be in the mail soon and I’ll share when it gets here. Seriously though, Randy is a great guy and his wife is charming.
… is a talented and hilarious human being. I had to ask her to draw something too. She does not like Spiderman (neither do I. I just want someone to draw Ganke making out with SpiderGwen) or drawing dudes in general so I suggested Silver Age Storm which costume is amazing. I cannot wait to see her take on it. This should come in soon too and I’ll share when it does.
That’s it. Those were my five highlights from Rose City Comic Con 2015. Of course, I also approached editors and did the “networking” thing which I despise. Now it’s time to get pitching. Here comes the King!
2000 AD is a weekly British Sci-Fi comic book Anthology published by rebellion. Judge Dredd was born in the pages of this illustrious publication in the late seventies. 2000 AD publishes on-going serials along with one-off stories called Future-Shocks.
Starting on Monday, 2000 AD will be accepting writers and artists submissions. Writers must submit Future-Shocks stories which must be 4 pages long and with a crazy, unexpected, unforeseeable twist ending.
In preparation for the open submission and because I have never read 2000 AD in my life (I did read some Judge Dredd stories mind you) , I purchased “The Best of Thar’s Future Shocks“. And I am obsessed with Future Shocks now. Some of those stories are really messed up but in a very cool way. It reminds me of Tales from the Crypt but in a Sci-Fi, futuristic setting.
I am still reading through that 160 pages digital behemoth and I already have enjoyed many of Peter Milligan‘s expertly crafted stories. From 6 pages long to only one (1!!!), Mulligan has crafted little comic book gems. They’ll teach you about conserving space, pacing, and the use of the page turn; all necessary features of any good Future Shocks.
I have started writing my own Future Shocks to submit later this week and I hope you too will consider taking advantage of this opportunity. Whether you are a writer or artist, it should not be missed.
My ongoing fascination with the Countess of Bathory has no end in sight.
I have to say that her story (in truth, my version of her story) is my go-to project. In the past few months, I have been focusing on more pressing writing matters but Elizabeth Bathory is always in the back of my mind. From time to time, the muses grace me with ideas for her story. I quickly write them down before they take them away.
The Hungarian Countess, Elizabeth Bathory de Ecsed (1560-1614) is, allegedly, the most proficient serial killer of all time. Legend has it, that with the help of her “torture crew”, she kidnapped, disemboweled, and very muck killed hundreds of young girls. About six hundred or so. Rumors of Vampiritic thirst fuels her deadly legacy but she sets herself apart from her cousin Dracula in one interesting way. She did not drink blood. Instead, she bathed in the blood of virgins in order to regain and maintain her youth and beauty. And so the Blood Countess was born.
What exactly happened to the highly educated young woman who knew dozens of languages and provided medical care to the most unfortunate remains unclear. Whether she was framed by a King indebted to her family for large sums of money or vilified for her liberal sexual practices, no one knows for sure. In the end, she was condemned and imprisoned in her own chambers. Walled in. She died at age 54, alone, in the dark.
For me, it all started about 4 years ago and I have been writing and thinking about her ever since. It was 2011 when I convinced poor Gabriela Laszcz to draw a couple short stories I wrote based on Elizabeth Bathory. And Gabriela obliged me. And she did it for free which, in retrospect, really makes me look like a jackass. You MUST pay your artists. You just must. I was even less experienced as a writer and Comicbook “maker” than I am now and unreasonably demanding. I also shamelessly used that opportunity to do my first (and quite horrid) lettering job. And good Gabriela put up with my silliness and turned in some beautiful art. She even did the lettering for the second Comic, “My Beautiful Mentor” and I am glad she did. No, really, I was a real jackass. I don’t think I even knew what the word “collaboration” actually meant back then. Oh well, you live, you learn, right? I just wish I could learn a lot faster.
My focus at that time was on Elizabeth’s childhood. There is this story of her father allegedly forcing her to watch as he punished a Gypsy for stealing. He had him sewed inside a dying horse. That’s some messed up stuff. I was hooked. I had to write it. And four years later, I still am. I just cannot stop thinking about Elizabeth.
Walking through an Antique Mall on the Oregon coast, I stumbled upon this little beauty: “DC Comics Presents SUPERMAN introduces SUPERWOMAN Annual #2 (DC, 1983)”
I am not a collector but I do enjoy picking up old Comics if I find some cool-looking cover. I simply could not resist the alluring Superwoman with her super cool costume. I don’t know about you but I did not even know there ever was a Superwoman until now.
There is a lot of cool and crazy going on in this book. I am about to spoil it all so stop reading now if you don’t want to know.
Kristen Wells is a History Professor living and teaching in the 29th century. She is telling her students about the Last Secret Identity: Superwoman. Apparently, by the 29th century, everyone knows the DC heroes real identities except for Superwoman. Prompted by her students, Kristen goes back in time in order to find out who Superwoman really is. She gets hired at the Daily Planet as a typist for Lois lane and hangs out with Clark Kent/ Superman who already knows her. Apparently, Kristen time-travels a lot. She finds the Superwoman costume in Lois Lane’s closet (!!!) but Lois is keeping it for Clark’s cousin, Linda Danvers (aka Supergirl!), so that she can wear it at an upcoming costume party (!!!).
The villainous King Kosmos, who is bent on world domination, shows up. According to Kristen’s history records, that’s when Superwoman is supposed to first appear to save the day and help Superman but there is no Superwoman in sight. So she put on the Superwoman costume and uses her futuristic tech to phase through objects, fly, and just be all kind of badass. So yeah, she is Superwoman. She is also (revealed at the very end) Jimmy Olsen’s grand-grand-grand daughter (add as many “grand-” as necessary here). That explains why she keeps refusing to date him during the whole thing because, well, that’d be kinda creepy.
I did enjoy the fact that Superwoman is more than just a female version of Superman. She has no superpowers but uses futuristic technology and science in order to defeat her opponent. Yes, at some point, Superman saves her from falling to her death after she gets hit by King Kosmos. But you’ve got to give the poor lad something to do since he seems completely clueless as to what’s happening for most of the issue. Superwoman actually tells him a couple times that she will “explain later” because clearly poor “Smallville” does not get it. She is also very patriotic. Her catch phrase is “Let History bear witness that no American ever had to bow to a tyrant”. She is also very adept at flying thanks to her “Freestyle Space Dancing Lessons” (!!!).
This is a really fun story where Superwoman actually gets to take the lead and is not a simple sidekick to the Man of Steel. I hope DC will bring her back, perhaps in the hands of Gail Simone? That would be awesome.
The last thing she does before leaving the present, is to steal a kiss from Clark. Because, like I said, she’s pretty smart.
When I started my activecomics.com blog/ website, it all made sense. At the time. I was doing the Activist short Comics on my own and then with Nick. But now… having a website that is called Activecomics does not make much sense. I have diversified since then. I have written other stories, worked with other people, and gotten published a couple times. Activecomics.com is not who I am and I need to market myself as a Comicbook writer,
I have been trying to figure out what to call my new website. When your name is Nicolas Izambard, it can be kind of tricky. Will you remember to go read my work on Nicolasizambard.com? NicoIzambard.com? Nico.com? That last one is already taken. Darnit.
I thought Nicomicwriter.com or Nicomic.com was good for awhile until realize that most people reading it would probably read it “nycomic” and not get the pun that my name is actually Nico.” Actually, it’s pronounced ‘knee-comic’. Who has time for that?
So, I’m thinking, let’s keep it simple:
What do you guys think?
I am planing on making the move, meaning actually moving all my stuff from here to the new site, this week. I will let you guys know how that goes, most likely next week. I don’t know if both sites can exist simultaneously so if you don’t hear from me, activecomics.com will be dead. Wish me luck, I hope not to kill it.
This will be my third year participating in the Top Cow Talent Hunt and I am real, REAL excited. Plus, this year, my chances are actually increased since one of the winners will be someone who participated in the previous years a.k.a. THAT guy (pointing at myself with both thumbs up and smiling idiotically like I mean it).
This time around, the stories must take place in the future (as established in Aphrodite IX, Cyber Force and IXth Generation) and you can basically use any of the characters in those books and submit a 22 pages script.
But wait, there’s more!
The Hunt officially stars September 15th and ends May 15th BUT if you submit by the phase 1 deadline of January 15th, you will receive a one paragraph of feedback from the Top Cow team.
Isn’t that awesome? You actually get to receive professional feedback from a publisher on your comicbook writing. HAAAAARG! I cannot wait!
Then, of course, you have until May 15th to refine/ edit your script. This is an incredible opportunity Top Cow is offering aspiring Comicbook writers (and artists). One not to be missed.
Here is the Link to CBR where you can download the guidelines for both writers and artists and all that good stuff.