Sunday, February 26, 2006

I, madam, I made radio! So I dared! Am I mad? Am I?

My speakers pick up Classical 96/103FM when plugged into my computer. ONLY when plugged into my computer. DOn't ask me why. Its kind of weird and kind of annoying. And VERY confusing. Its like my computer's a big receptor. Probably becuase it isn't properly shielded. Still...amusing.

Am I mad? Am I?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Things I never knew

I'm playing Stephen Hawking in Mage.

Seriously. My LARP Awakening PC is Stephen Hawking with a gimped out knee instead of a motor neuron disease.

How do I know this?

Dr. Sir Martin Blackhall was born on Jan. 8, 1945. 3 years after Stephen Hawking TO THE DAY.

Dr. Blackhall was born in Oxford. So was Hawking.

Dr. Blackhall attended Cambridge where he got his Bachelor's degree, then went on to study and teach at Oxford. Stephen Hawking attended Oxford where he got his Bachelor's degree, then went on to study and teach at Cambridge.

Dr. Blackhall is a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Stephen Hawking is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Both are astrophysicists, and are world renowed.

Funny thing? I DIDN'T know any of this prior to making the character in November. I found this all out last week.

Ain't that a kick in the head?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I attempt "method writing"

To get into the mood for trying to crank out another issue and a half of SUICIDE YAKUZA in one week I have taken to drinking sake. This is not to get drunk, I cannot stand sake cold, and thus must microwave it. And drink it out of the cup I have specifically for that purpose. This is to prevent me from drinking large quantities.

I crave sushi, and unagi donburi (eel over rice), and tempura. I have no money. I must look at my budget next week and see if I can swing a Japanese meal. Somehow I doubt it, not with grabbing the second and third trades of A Distant Soil. I am so broke right now it ain't funny. Maybe I will use some of grandma's birthday money and treat myself. But, really, I should just focus on paying bills.

So in the mean time, I drink sake. I have large amounts of vodka in my freezer, so I may eventually move onto those. I'm trying to pound out the last third of SY #2 tonight. Artist has still not gotten back to me, but I formulated a 70-word pitch for the series. It has been suggested by an editor that it is best to put together a short, concise 100-word pitch for your book, and then have some art to go along with it. Leave them wowed, but remember that editors have no real attention span for the written word...its the pretty pictures they want. This is why you don't send them scripts.

I am slowly learning. In five weeks I start classes under Ty Templeton to learn more about writing comics. I hope to improve my craft under him, if all goes well. If nothing else, I'll learn how to script things "The Marvel Way", a technique which scares the bejesus out of me, since it involves relying entirely on the artist to create scenes of such excellence that you will be able to fit similarly excellent dialogue into them. I have heard horror stories of this from Brian Michael Bendis and Warren Ellis.

'Camera tells me that work progresses apace on DELIVERY. I got him a rough re-edit a few days ago (actually, I think it was yesterday) that cleared up some problems that were kind of inevitable when the first five pages of the book were written in November and the last few pages were written last week. Also fixing up some ending stuff. The book ends on a cliffhanger, but that needed some touching up. I'm going to print the entire thing out, all 50+ pages worth of it, when i get home on Tuesday. Then I'll spend the rest of the week going through it with a highlighter and sticky notes. It can definitly use some touching up in places, but that'll be easier to read once I print it off.

...god this post has dragged on, since the original premise was just talking about how I was drinking sake to get in the mood for finishing up SY #2.

Damn...what time is it?

I woke up at 3pm. 10 hours of sleep. Jesus christ, I hvaen't done that in YEARS. Not that I have problems sleeping, but generally that I think to get up before I hit the magic 10 hour mark.

Reading week is now on. 9 days of no school. I'm going to be driven insane, swear to god.

Library books are due back Monday. About 10 of them. So I need to start going through them today and tomorrow and picking out the relevant information. it'll be a good 2-3 day job, but by then I should have MORE than enough info for a 5000 word paper.

Now I count down the hours till dinner. I am hungry. I haven't eaten in close to 24 hours. Fucking HUNGRY.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Colleen Doran pointed me here

Through my stepmother my half-brothers are one-quarter Danish. So...ok, sure. Plus, The Kingdom, one of the best horror shows on television, comes from Denmark.

Buy Danish - Let Freedom Prevail

Colleen Doran's A Distant Soil (Book 1: The Gathering)

Please note, while there are some spoilers in here, I try not to talk directly about events in the plot aside from how they related to reviewing the quality of the story and art.

John Siuntres' interview with Colleen Doran over at WordBalloon turned me on to looking into A Distant Soil, and I'm glad for it. The interview made the story sound quite interesting, so I grabbed it when I went over to the comic shop today to see what this Wednesday had brought.

I'd seen the DS trades sitting around various shops in the past, but since a lot of my buying is done in terms of whether I've read the artist or the writer's previous works before, I hadn't paid too much attention (sorry, Colleen!). I'm finding it quite interesting, though.

The art is solid. I think I prefer Colleen's later work on stuff like Orbiter more, and I think she's come a long way (parts of the first compilation were drawn nearly 20 years ago according to the copyright information), but its solid. Actually, considering much of the comic art that was coming out around the time that A Distant Soil was first published, the art is above par for its period.

A few things in the art deserve special attention, the Ovanan clothes being one of them. Colleen renders the costumes of the book's main alien race quite lavishly, even in black and white. They have this wonderful simplicity and complexity to them at the same time. Alien, but not sillily alien or too close to Earth clothes. There's a definite medieval influence on them, but it really comes off in more of a sci-fi way, rather than the "Dark Age Lords of the Stars" that you occasionally see. There's something about how she draws the Ovanans themselves, though, this sort of androgynous beauty that really gets across, I think, in art the fact that this is a culture predicated on survival of the best and carefuly genetic engineering. They look very similar, to one degree or another, a similar style of facial features.

I think, overall, one of my favourite pieces of artwork is the Siovansin, the Ovanan warship. It's incredibly intricate and...well honestly it's just real pretty. Its a hanging jewel in space, like some one-of-a-kind piece of jewlery you'd see some rich benefactress of the arts wearing, or a modern art sculpture rendered with geometric precision. I could wax poetic on the subject of the Siovansin for quite a while. Its not just the rendering of it, but the fact that Colleen went outside the box and made a war ship that doesn't even look like a conventional space ship.

One last point on art, and this is in regards to how psychic powers are represented. I love the triangles and geometric shapes that accompany the effect...its just really nifty and not the typical Professor X/Martin Manhunter-style glowly puffy clouds.

The story and writing are interesting and character driven. There's a lot going on, and some of the events don't immediatly make sense (though they are later explained), but the writing, like the art, is pretty solid. I don't know if it was intentional on Colleen's part, but the Ovanans seem similar to the Takisians from the George RR Martin-edited superhero novels, Wild Cards. This may just be something that jumps out at me since I just finished reading Book 10, which was all about the Takisians (telepathic human looking aliens with outlandish dress sense and a penchent for selective breeding). Its not a bad thing, but I am curious if that was a conscious choice or if Colleen had never even heard of the novels before.

Similarly, the stuff with the Arthurian knights and Galahad coming to Earth are very similar to Grant Morrison's introduction of Shining Knight in Seven Soldiers of Victory in 2005...looking between them, I wonder if Morrison took some cues off Colleen, since the setup of his enterance scene is VERY similar.

The Gathering definitly gives a sense that its part of a much larger story. There are multiple plots brought up aside from the "A" plot involving the Ovanans attempting to recover Lliana. The book reads in many ways like an episode of Babylon 5 or The West Wing...there's a LOT going on, and multiple plots mingle together in some very nifty ways. If anything it reads like the first few pilot episodes of a new series, introducing a larger cast of characters who will be important later on. I like the mixture of science fiction and fantasy that comes up about halfway through, with the melding in of Galahad into the story, and then the appearence of the magician Dunstan Auchenlock. It makes things weird, but gives the sense of a much larger world beyond just one alien race and the tendency of its exiles to hide out on a planet full of people who look more or less identical to them.

Not sure quite what else to say. A Distant Soil definitly isn't for everyone. Its got a lot of 80s and early 90s in it, and while its certainly not a superhero book it is definitly science-fantasy. Its not something to approach if you're looking for hard SF, or strict urban fantasy, or even strict SF of "humans and aliens meet up in the modern day". It combines quite a few genres together, and makes the combination work. I can't give a full appraisal of how The Gathering leads into the other two compiled collections, The Ascendant and The Aria. While the book can stand alone, I think that it would be far better with the other two to tell the entire tale.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bored now

Apathy has set in. DELIVERY is written and in the process of its 2nd draft now with Camera. Issue #1 of the four-colored/normal book is also done, and I'm decently happy with it. That one's going to sit in the drawer for a while. I want to build up a bit of credit before I try to ship that around.

Working on SUICIDE YAKUZA #2 and #3 at the moment. Going well. Hope to have them completed by the end of next week. Artist still hasn't gotten back to me on the sketches yet, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He has an actual life.

No...of course I didn't see that one coming

You scored as Serenity (Firefly). You like to live your own way and don�t enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Serenity (Firefly)


Moya (Farscape)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with

Monday, February 13, 2006

Addendum observations

360 is like being a cultural anthropologist. There are so many weird trends there. First, I notice that most people don't update their blogs there. I really don't intend to much, but many people just set it up as an auxilliary Yahoo profile that lets them link through to their friends. Interesting degree of cliquishness.

Also, most of the profiles were made back in 2005 and never updated. Or never really filled out at all. I think a lot of people are just using it as a social network.

Search functions are rather counterintuitive and well hidden if you want to search by interest rather than name. This aggravates me as I try to learn the interface.

More later. Paper due tonight. Must finish. Ciao.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

My angry note succeeded

Huh. I'm...flummoxed. The angry note that I put on my door last night succeeded. The guy who fucked with it, who it turns out lives on a whole other part of campus, came and fessed up with a very nice and eloquent letter apologizing for his actions...and then gave me a gift card to Second Cup. Its probably only for $5, but I DO appreciate his effort to make up for his drunken idiocy.

I've taken down my angry letter, and I'll probably put the comics back up when I get ahold of my father's laser printer again.

Day just got better. Hurrah.


So I signed up on the Yahoo 360 beta. Its a blog interface. Kind of interesting, lets you throw a lot of info onto your front page and its free with having a Yahoo account. Not sure I like it, the big blocks of text I can lay down for all to see on Blogger seems to work better for me.

BUt I figured I'd get in on the craze.

So...Hear the Voice of the Bard! is now up over at 360. Not sure if I'll bother to keep it up or not. At the moment I'm just playing around with the interface and seeing what I can do with it. We shall see.

Incidentally, there are 1000+ people who like Firefly over on 360. Only 3 people, however, put the Global Frequency pilot episode in their "TV Shows I Like" profile thingy. Funny, huh?

A wonderful show of floor spirit and brotherhood from MAHII

Its nice to know that in 3rd year university people can still be counted on to deface anything you put any effort into.

Such as choosing several comics you thought your floormates would find humorous, and putting them on your door. Or the surprise birthday decorations people put up while you were at work on Saturday. Or the lyrics to a favourite song that you wanted to share with everyone.

Its nice to know at university that people cna still be counted on to tear the shit out of these things.

Its like I never left highschool. I swear to god. These people haven't grown up. Its the same juvenile shit. Always.

It was such a good night.

Margaret Addison Hall, floor 2, has once again gone out of its way to show the true meaning of floor spirit: picking the least sociable person on the floor, and fucking with them.


One final note today

DELIVERY is done. Well, the script at least. The 36 page script adaptation of my 5000 word short zombie story is complete, and the first draft has been sent off to the artist for his approval. 'Camera's been real good so far with it. He's liked it so far, and his comments, suggestions, and editing notes have been quite true and quite useful. We're collaborating very well, and have high hopes.

I'm eventually going to find somewhere I can store the scripted two pager that 'Camera (not sure he'd like it if I used his real name yet) drew based on the original PBZ script I wrote. Its real nice...especially the zombie. He did this Tales from the Crypt-style much more gruesome than what I was thinking. Its beautfil. Brings a tear to my eye.

Anyway, I gotta find a place that can take the bandwidth to display both pages first. Then I can post them for all to see (which 'Camera gave me permission to all's well).


Dan Bereton (of Nocturnals fame) wrote a book about daikaiju (Japanese for "giant monster"), and you all need to go out and buy it RIGHT FUCKING NOW!

Its damnably good. I mean just...damn. Bereton turns a part of Bay Area California into frelling Monster Island! Toxic gasses and 26 different creatures who live and survive there, each with its own very unique appearence, feeding habits, activities, powers, and personality. And then the United States government gengineers a 9 foot tall half-daikaiju monster hunter named Jack to go get rid of them.

Its really quite a nice book. As usual Bereton's artwork is beautiful and evocative with that really nice ephemeral quality that made Nocturnals so cool. He's still working in water colors.

The story's very well written and wraps things together quite nicely. I love that Jack was trained by an anime freak who using Godzilla (and other Japanese giant monsters) movies as "instructional training videos". And then gave Jack a katana, really a nodachi (but the guy's nine feet tall!), made from a monster's tooth, and Jack goes out into the wilderness to hunt.

It really brings me back to my childhood of watching rented videotapes (no DVDs back then, no sir!) of a dubbed anime called "Inhumanoids". Very similar. All I really remember, though, is a storyline where a monster (they were all from below the Earth's surface) called "Decompose" got a cult together and turned them all into zombies, who then went off and reenacted Night of the Living Dead. So when I saw the Giantkiller monster, Zomm, I laughed with glee. Giant monsters are cool. Zombies are cool. Giant monsters who make zombies are double-plus cool!

So yeah. Go grab a copy of this trade. It contains the original 6 issue miniseries, a 28 page "monster guide", and Bereton's sketchbook. And its a steal at $20 CDN. I couldn't believe how cheap it really get your money's worth!

John Siuntres is over on the Engine, and posted on my thread reviewing B. Clay Moore's Hawaiian Dick that he had interviewed Moore over on his (Siuntres') podcast, Word Balloon.

Its worth a look. Siuntres does hour long interviews with comic book professionals, artists and writers alike. They're pretty good, and pretty friendly and informal. Some very nice stuff. I've got his interviews with Bendis, Rucka, Moor (B. Clay), and Willingham on my iPod, with Colleen Doran and Brain Azzarello waiting to be uploaded. Really fun stuff.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Oh yeah, and 26 hours ago I turned 22

February 4th is my birthday. I worked my ass off at Il Posto Saturday morning, then tromped out to Oakville for dinner at the Keg. Didn't get loads of presents, this year has been a bit light in that department, but all's cool. I liked what I got. So I'm happy. Second season of Hogan's Heroes, "The Talented Mister Ripley", and Clive Barker's novel "The Thief of Always".

Mumsy is sending something in the mail. Along with various grandparent envelopes containing cash money. Huzzah, money!

Also, signed up for a $371 comic writing course in March taught by Ty Templeton. So looking forward to that as well.

This birthday turned out pretty OK. But I could have used some more beer and less work. And maybe some partying.

Hawaiian Dick

Now, before I begin I need to preface this with the amusing story of when I met B. Clay Moore last year at the Paradise City Toronto ComicCon. This is mainly becuase I like anectdotes, and I feel like it.

Moore was minding a table, I think it was the Image table, and had some interesting books fanned out. So I stopped to watch, and chatted about his work, and breaking into the industry, and the like. Hawaiian Dick caught my eye, but unfortunatly do to being a student it didn't manage to catch my pocket book. But I found out something: B. Clay Moore hates it when you start at the end of a book. Which is how I ended up with the first issue of Battle Hymn: picked it up, flipped through it, and he then said something to the effect of "Dammit! You've ruined the ending! You might as well take it."

Well, I didn't really pass by the first HD trade again until a day or two ago, when I decided to do some comic shopping when I got offwork. There's an open-late comic store down on Yonge Street, so i went inside and decided to take a go at the HD trade since it was selling for US cover (a steal at $15, considering how much is in there).

So...actual review.

I read the book in one sitting today. And its good stuff. I'm not really familiar with Moore's writing outside of Battle Hymn, so I really can't go into a detailed comparison to his previous books. But I'll pick out some things that really caught my eye here.

First, Steven Griffin's art is fantastic. I'm not sure if that's paint, ink, or if he threw it through a computer, but its beautiful. Griffin really gets the atmosphere of a scene, and the emotions of a character, down in color as much as in line work. Its in this that the art is so fantastic: its the coloring. Griffin's art would be great in black and white...hell it IS great in black and white (as the B&W sketches in the back show), but with the colors he just kicks everything up to a whole other level.

I'd like to draw particular attention to the scenes where the only light is from a single lamp or a flashlight. Griffin just nails the lightning dead on. Its not all vibrant colors, but black and white and things washed out in an off-white yellow. It generates a very creepy atmosphere, the sort of place where you expect shit to jump out at you from the corners. The only thing its close to is some of the stuff that Mike Mignola has done, but Mignola tends to achieve that effect with solid colors, while Griffin plays with subtle changes as the light flickers out towards the edges. Its quite nice to see.

Secondly, the story and the writing. I'm not real familiar with the old Hawaii cop/PI shows like Magnum or 5-0, so I can't speak for how close he nailed it, story-wise, but its still damn good storytelling. Hawaiian mythology isn't something that a lot of books touch on, and even then its typically just volcano goddesses and shark men. Moore's supernatural Hawaii is subtle, the magic takes a back seat to the detective work...but when it shows up its the sort of thing that creates the folk legends. A brush with the Marchers of the Pali Highway, and zombies...I don't want to give away too much.

As far as a detective story goes, its not big on mystery...but that's not the point. Its got a bit of a hardboiled detective-story edge to it; things happen even after the case has been "solved" by the detective, and people still want answers. There's some really nice short strips in the back of the first trade that mingle supernatural encounters with amusing little criminal anecdotes.

The one issue I have is that the story tends to jump around a little, and it steps in with little introduction of some of the characters. This isn't normally a problem, but here it was a bit difficult to figure out everyone's deal, leading me to be confused by the actions of one or two characters. But that was really just in the first half or so of the first issue, after which point things smoothed out considerably.

If you're looking for a complicated, Dashiell Hammet or Raymond Chandler-style whodunnit, Hawaiian Dick isn't really the book for you. But there's a reason its filed as "crime drama" rather than "mystery": its a story about a PI, not a story about something the PI is investigating. Its far more in the neighbourhood of Sam Spade getting hired by some mysterious dame to do something, does it, and then gets beaten up by someone else who didn't want it done, and is happy to explain why. Not a lot of mystery, but a whole lot of fun. And a whole lot of weird as well.

Hawaiian Dick has definitly earned a place on my dorm room's shelf.