Tag Archives: comic book writing

Music to write to

Do you need Music to write to?

I know I do.

And sometimes I don’t.

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.

ledzeppelin001
Those guys are so COOOOL.

But then, you can still use Spotify:

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.

-N

 

Top Cow Talent Hunt 2016!

Yep, it’s baAAAaack!

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.

IXthGeneration01-Review-1
IX Generation #1 by Matt Hawkins and Stjepan Sejic.

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.

Peace,

-Nico

Comic Book Puzzle

Writing comic books is like solving a puzzle.

The last couple days have not been  easy on the writing front.

I am writing an outline for a limited 6 issue series I will pitch to Oni Press. Their next round of open submissions should start in September. Right now, i am tackling the middle of the story. In the fantastic comic book “Spread“, writer Justin Jordan talked about the middle part of the story being the hardest part to write. Well, I feel the truth in that. Perhaps a bit too much.

I am laser focused on the middle of my story. I have been rewriting, and reworking, and trying to make it all fit together. Now I am starting to hate it, hate my writing, and hate my dumb self.

I finally found solace in the ComicVine podcast from June 26th that I listened to at work today.

(Yes, I have a job where I can do that and yes, I’m playing catch-up on my Podcasts.)

joshua-williamson

Watch out! Joshua Williamson is coming right at you! 

Joshua Williamson (Ghosted, Birthright, Nailbiter) was the guest. The way he talked about getting stuck, his writing process, and the importance of humility was inspiring. It gave me a renewed outlook on my process. I realized I was not so crappy after all but simply trying to solve the puzzle that Comicbook writing sometimes is. Sometimes, you just need to come at it from a different angle.

-N

Curated by Gail Simone

I have to admit. I am not a big fan of social media.

Until recently, I limited myself to Facebook, mostly watching what people are up to. Yep, I’m kinda creepy like that.

Recently though, I have made a conscious effort to increase my social media presence. I want to put my name out there so that people check out my site and read my stories.

Truns out,  A LOT of Comic Book Creators are on both Twitter and Tumblr. Following them gives me an insight on how they market themselves and promote their books. I’m also a fan and wants to know about their latest projects. Some of them (Chip Zdarsky) are also freaking hilarious.

Tumblr is a great tool to share your passions through reblogging. To repost cool comicbook sketches of favorite artists or any other comicbook related posts is a great way to maintain a social media presence without much effort. Plus, you can link it to your Twitter and Facebook accounts and shotgun blast the internet with it. My favorite thing to do is to take a picture on my phone of a favorite panel or cover from a Comic Book I’m reading and post it on my Instagram with simultaneous posting on Tumblr, Twitter, AND Facebook. BAM! Shotgun Blast!

It is during my tumblr wanderings that I discovered the Comics Survival Kit blog. Curated by Gail Simone (Red Sonja, Secret Six and much, much more), the blog offers advice from professionals on how to navigate the Comic Book industry.

Here are a couple of my favorite articles (so far!):

MOLLY MAHAN ON WHAT EDITORS LOOK FOR IN ART PORTFOLIOS

SEVERAL FAMOUS ARTISTS PLEAD: DON’T DO THIS TO US, WRITERS!

and of course,

HOW DO I BREAK IN? BY JIM ZUBKAVICH!

The Comics Survival Kit blog is a truly formidable resource. Many thanks to Gail Simone for providing us with tips and advice on how to become a pro!

-N

PS: you can find my tumbr here.

Loony the Moonian makes friends.

Our first published work: Loony the Moonian.

Now that our second story has been published in this year’s 8th Wonder Press Anthology “Uncanny Adventures: Duo #1”, I can finally share with you last year’s story.

This is Nick Nall and I’s first published work. 8th Wonder Press was looking for short story pitches involving the use of science and/or MAD science. I knew I really wanted to use Nick’s mad cartooning skills to make an old fashioned cartoon in the style of the Looney Tunes AND I wanted it to be completely silent. NO dialogue.  We came up with the 12 pages story of how a poor lonely Moonian named Loony literally MAKES friends.

The story was originally published last year in 8th Wonder Press’s Anthology “Uncanny Adventures: Science vs MAD Science”.

I learned a lot from working on Loony. I learned about telling a story with images only. I learned how to better communicate with my collaborator and artists Nick (still working on that). I learned that I should not be so anal about it and let the artist do his job. I learned that sometimes, you should kill your “cool visual ideas” in order to put the story first. And I still learning.

-N

Top Cow Talent Hunt 2015: “Fearless”

“Fearless” was the first script I wrote for the 2015 Top Cow Talent Hunt.

It featured my now favorite character, the tortured and powerful Ji Xi.

1526488-13th

Somebody buys him some new clothes already.

I asked myself, if I had to carry a very dangerous weapon such as the Thirteenth Artifact, where would I hide so that I don’t put people’s in harm’s way? Right away, I pictured the white Arctic desert and the story started.

We actually open with a nightmare scene. I thought it would be a cool way of showing Ji Xi’s fears about unintentionally harming people and explain why he stays so isolated until, well, he doesn’t.

Here is “Fearless”.

-N

Top Cow Talent Hunt 2015: “Daddy’s Girl”

“Daddy’s Girl” is the third script I wrote for the Top Cow Talent Hunt. I was intrigued by Alina Emstrom, a ruthless mercenary who is part of a religious cult. In the story “Pandora’s Box”, there is a one page flashback showing her father working as an armed dealer and how Alina witnessed the death of her mother when she was just a child.

I figured that Alina, years later, would want to know who was responsible for her mother’s death and get revenge! How did she become a trained soldier? What was her relationship with her father like? What was she like in her youth? I wanted answers.

So I wrote that story: “Daddy’s Girl”

For more Top Cow Talent Hunt participants scripts and art, check out the CBR thread.

-Nico

Top Cow Talent Hunt 2015: “Unburdened”

I submitted three scripts to the 2015 Top Cow Talent Hunt and I am going to share them with you in the coming weeks.

First up is “Unburdened”. I chose the bearer of the thirteenth Artifact, JI XI. The Asian monk burdened with carrying a deadly weapon, becoming the victim of its uncontrollable fury really struck a chord with me. I really wanted to explore him as a character.

And I did.

Twice.

This script is actually the second script I wrote. It all started with him running away from some sort of militia who wanted to put their hands on the artifact and ended up being about trust, responsibility, and Kung Fu. Research for this script was a great excuse to watch Martial Arts films. I have to thank Bruce Lee for inspiring JI XI’s nemesis, the deadly and cunning Marcus.

It was a lot of fun and learning.

Here it is: “Unburdened”

-N

Top Cow Talent Hunt loser.

I did not win the Top Cow Talent Hunt this year. I submitted three 22 pagers using the assigned Top Cow characters and I had a blast writing all of them. I learned so much from the experience, it was great. Building a script from top to bottom in scrivener three times was quite amazing in and of itself. And of course, writing a Comic Book script is always good practice.

Then, there is the fact that I am so focused on my current project(s) that the ball just keeps on rolling no matter what.

Here is the very nice email all Hunts participants received from Top Cow President, Matt Hawkins:

Emails were sent out before this, so if you received this without a previous email from me I’m sorry to say you didn’t win this year. Total count was 587 entries so it was more than I originally thought (once I counted it all out).  So less than 1.5% of entrants won this year. 

The writing category was especially hard for me this year (and why it took so long) because there were about 40 of you that delivered professional quality writing and could easily be writing for a major publisher today.  I added one writer runner up simply because I could not make up my mind.

Thank you so much for participating. I hope that you have found the exercise educational at a minimum. As a reminder, there is no formal feedback offered via email. If you want to track down one of us at a comic convention and chat us up we’re happy to do that.

As I said in the previous email, I’m reserving at least a spot in each category for people who previously entered as winners for next year.  There are two people who won this year that had entered previously, one has entered every time. So entering again does have its merits!
 
The formal announcement of winners will be on comicbookresources.com sometime next week I don’t know the exact day but it will include some of the art from the “art” side that you can check out.  To read what the writers submitted you can read those as they come out next year.
 
One thing I’m going to do for next year as well is make some exclusive “product” that will only be available to participants. Any other feedback to us about the contest is always appreciated.
 
Isaac Goodhart, one of the first year art winners, is now the regular penciller on Postal so the contest does have some legs!  Tini Howard and Ashley Robinson are both writing one shot Top Cow books for Poseidon IX and Athena IX in August and September.
 
We don’t publish a LOT of books, but we are actively trying to get new blood into the industry and thanks again SO MUCH for participating.

Best,

Matt Hawkins
President/COO, Top Cow Productions, Inc.
MS Physicist, Self Loathing Narcissist, Inc.
That was nice of Mister Hawkins to take the time to do that.
See you next week,
-N

Je m’Elance.

Get it? It’s a bilingual pun.

In French, “s’elancer” means to “make haste” and it’s funny because I am currently looking for an artist on Elance.com hence the post title:”Je m’elance”.

Ahaha

It’s like that joke the UPS guy told me the other day:

Two cats are swimming across the English Channel. The first is British and is named “One, Two, Three”. The second is French and is named “Un, Deux, Trois”. Which one makes it across???

elance-logo-new

Answer is: The British cat makes it because “Un, Deux, Trois” Quatre, Cinq.

oh wait, it doesn’t work when you write it… the funny part is that when you say it out loud, it sounds like this:  “Un, Deux, Trois” Cat Sank.

Ahaha

So yeah, Elance.

So far, it has been a great experience. I posted a job offer and got tons of proposals from artists in return. If you’ve been following, you know I have had the hardest time finding an artist and Elance has been nothing short of a godsend. You can see their portfolio, work experience, and ratings from past clients. That is super helpful. You also send messages and files to the freelancers all on the site so that there is a record of everything were a dispute to arise. I quite like that.

So far so good.

Of course, I’ll tell you guys how it all turns out when I select a candidate and go through the whole process.

Later,

-Nico