Sunday, December 14, 2014

More Tips for Writers

Yuri Baranovsky once wrote an article about writing that I responded to in humor.

I'd like to add to it.

1. Figure out why you're writing what you are
Of course, everyone comes to an idea because they like it. It sticks. But every writer has to ask themselves if it is an idea worth doing. You need to know if it is going to write itself, because any good story WILL write itself. You just have to be the guide.

2. Figure out why you are writing NOW
This one is important. You may have an idea in you, but it just won't come out. Then one day, it does. A key to good writing is figuring out who you are, and this is very much intertwined with that. Whatever is currently going on in your life, no matter what the genre of story you are writing, will more than likely heavily affect the style of your work. This goes for psychological as well as emotional. If you don't know why you need to write your play about rats, you probably should figure it out, or you will never feel comfortable with your rat play.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help
I think this has more to do with pride and a messed up version of dignity than ego. Being able to say that you wrote something yourself. Being able to say that you didn't need help. This can severely hurt a writer, especially a young one. When, in reality, a writing partner can be a great tool for pitching and refining ideas. You also shouldn't be offended if they come up with a better idea.

Okay, I'll be here all week. Tip your waitresses.

BRIGHT FALLS: Prequel to Alan Wake

When I first heard about Bright Falls, the live action, six episode series leading into the psychological horror game, Alan Wake, I was skeptical. The first thing that comes to mind when you think of the fusion between film and gaming is Halo: Reach, but that was only a two minute commercial. This is a multi-episode promotional mini-series.

So I watched it, and instantly was hooked. Everything about the miniseries, from the acting to the writing, is top notch. The production value is up there with any current motion picture. It looks amazing, and not like a promotional tool for a video game at all. It could become a full fledged webseries and I'd be happy.

Obviously, this is going to only spark a revolution of live action prequels, but will any of them be any good?


I have a LBCC post coming up, and eventually coverage over at ScriptPHD (boy, do I not want to transcribe...), but for now, Zuda.

Last month left a lot of people feeling very bitter about Zuda in general. Lots of people left feeling the competition was either rigged or sloppy.

Myself? I'm just reviewing the comics. I don't want to get into it and I won't.

(By the way, I tried very hard not to do the grading system this time, but could not bring myself to leave it out)

So without further ado:

Old Cthulhu's on the Rise by Daniel Tollin
I'm going to try not to let my love for Lovecraft come between me and this review. I love the idea of there being a "first Innsmouth", the ancestral home of the modern day New England town stuffed to the gills with immortal frog people hybrids. But the entire eight pages seem lifted straight out of An American Werewolf in London. While I did like Howard's quick-as-shit exposition about The Old Ones, it still felt tacked on, simply for the benefit of the competition. I right away enjoyed the lettering, and making the word balloons see-through for whispers was great. Howard's design is perfect, the main characters... not so much. Cookie cutter. The title, if this wins, should change. It's just not appealing as is. It's sad that the first Cthulhu Tale in Zuda has to be rife with error, not excluding the Synopsis Curse.


ShockPop Terror! by Jean-Michel Ringuet
I love the art and the lettering. I hated everything else. It was a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. There was a paper thin plot. I dunno, it seemed simply to be a vehicle for blood and fightin'. The dialogue is what you would expect from such an outing, and it starts with your typical family of monsters prophecizing that bad things are coming for them. It really does not help that the fights are given subtitles, making it even more Grindhouse and even less coherent. Oddly enough, while I disliked the fighting very much, I found the blood to be extremely comical and fun. Weird.


A Polar Nightmare by Amancay Nicolas Nahuelpan Bustamante
Typos and random are the two words of the day for this comic. I honestly don't know what the creator was going for here. The art is good and the lettering is great, and even the character designs are cool (yes, even the naked and Mojo-esque Santa). The premise is very amazingly solid - until you realize that it is not the premise at all. You really want to see these kids trek through the dangerous cold to the North Pole. But it all gets ruined once they actually reach their destination.


Pluck by Gabe White & John Amor
Crushing the idea that a creator (or creators) can't get on to Zuda - or at least accepted - twice, Pluck comes to us from the writers of Gulch. So I'm already a bit worried. But hey, not every story is in the same style as the last one, right? It is different. Very different. It's not an original story by any means, but the way it is told is. It's got some really great concepts that harken back to older traditions, such as the king not allowing handsome dudes into his throne room (in this story, they are killed in a comic montage). It ends with a great cliffhanger: our hero is looking up at the king, only we do not see him. The lack of color helps the mood as well as the period-ness. The only thing that bugs me is that it is a bit TOO unoriginal in story.


Impure Blood by Nathan Lueth & Nadja Baer
Color me impressed. They had the longest synopsis EVER, and still managed to cram it all in. Add to the fact that the story came in steady trickles of action, wordplay and sentence structure, and I'm hooked. The lettering and art were fantastic. Great colors. Great inks. Only thing is this: it's a sight gag, the 'lawyers' engraving in the dungeon, but it pulled me out of the comic for the briefest second. Blood has already established a world that I want to wade in, it does not need to rely on gags that have nothing to do with the tone of the comic itself.


Fly Me From The Moon by Gabriel Bautista
I was not sure if this was noir, suspense, a thriller, or just plain abstract. I liked the art, and the dialogue, while confusing, was steady and you could tell that the writer was in full control. But it was just way too confusing. The character design for the lead was way too inconsistent for this type of story or strip.


Where Evils Dare by Tony Lee & Stefano Martino
This comic hits all the right notes. It's a black ops group of monster hunters versus a black ops group of monsters set in World War II. It's serious without being pretentious or over-dramatic, and at the same time, it knows exactly what it is. I mean, the commanding officer of the group is Van Helsing, for crying out loud. It feels like the webcomic adaptation of the G.I. Joe film. To add plus upon plus, the art is ridiculously good, with great inks and wonderfully drawn monsters.


Evil Ain't Easy by Seth Wolfshorndl
Very funny gag strip about a supervillain dealing with the quality of life. Almost everything is where it should be: lettering, art, writing (which is brilliant). Will not win on Zuda, but it will do very well as a stand-alone webcomic.


Doc Monster by David Flora
Another great entry that is not as pretentious as it seems like it is. Part noir, part buddy cop movie. I wouldn't go as far as to call it sci-fi, because those aspects of the comic (the UFO, the steady reveal that Doc Monster is not human) are completely overshadowed by the amazing characters that Flora has fully realized in eight simple pages. Doc Monster is as interesting and complex as Sherlock Holmes or - gasp - even House the Medical Doctor. Clay, as Watson, is cynical and always thinking. The banter between the two is hysterical, mostly because it often only occurs in Clay's own head. It doesn't hurt that the artwork is genius, either.


Blitz by Ted Dawson
The art and lettering - and dialogue - is reminiscent of Bone. Which, you know, works. It's a plus. I love how this comic doesn't not take itself seriously at all. That is, until the last two pages, in which it takes itself way too seriously. Magically, we find out the entire New Plot as the cliffhanger. Which is stupid and hurtful to the story as a whole. The webcomic is called Blitz, but there does not seem to be any real reason behind that name. We don't get to know Blitz at all. If anything, he is a "buddy" to the alien searching for his mom. I really wanted to like this one, and began liking the ever-loving crud out of it. Which is why the ending was such a letdown. All of that potential was wasted in order to make the plot more "simple".

Long Beach ComicCon: Tanks for the memories

As promised, here is my Long Beach Comic-Con write up. You can read my movie reviews and panel transcripts at ScriptPHD. I've always liked the Long Beach Convention Center, ever since I went to my first Wizard World there. I remember going down to Shoreline Village and snooping around my friends hat shop without even realizing that she worked there. Shoreline Village is a great seaside place to eat and browse - plus an Aquarium. It is much like my want for WonderCon to move back into Moscone West, my liking of the Long Beach Center.
Writing this up as I both do the dishes and watch my new DVD of Trick 'r Treat, I feel nothing but joy.
(I look like a HUGE tourist, don't I?)
Anyways, here's the story...
I walked in and met Drew Selden, the wonderful dude that handles press badges. I didn't get to say bye or tell him what a great time it was, which bugged me. Oh well, next year.
There was wonderful opening ceremony, in which Jeph Loeb and members of the city council dedicated the first day of LBCC as Stan Lee Day. Some people groaned as this went on too long, I tried to use my press badge to push to somewhere decent in the crowd, and then Stan Lee himself cut the ribbon allowing people into the christened ship.
It was much, much smaller than SDCC, and only a little bigger than this year's WonderCon and last year's abysmal Wizard World LA. The inaugural day of LBCC, I did not have to be anywhere until 7pm, so that gave me enough time to browse. Even though the con opened at 3pm, the room was not as congested as SDCC and even WonderCon have become. It was mixture of APE and a full-blown con. It was really cool. My first stop was to pick up Irredeemable, Mark Waid's latest (and best) comic book. Funny story: there was a mix up at California Pizza Kitchen that night where I received a Diet Root Beer and the man behind me got a regular. It turned out that it was Mark Waid, our drink orders had been switched. I ended up telling everyone that.
Yeah, I was surprised as you are.
Yes, that is someone kicking another person in the head. I guess some people really think Batman could beat Superman and that's final.
Met Corrina Sara Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, a husband-wife team and former Zuda competitors, near the wrestling extravaganza. It turns out they lost to Nick, so I introduced them to Nick as to bury the hatchet. Very nice people. Their book, Heathentown, was and is fantastic. Zuda missed out. Oh well, that's what you get for a user-led democracy. I mean, I love the scat out of Pray for Death, but they would of done well, as well.
This guy was feisty. And remote controlled.
My buddies, Jason Ponggasam and Patty Variboa of Fat Rabbit Farms.
On Saturday, I went to the Comics to Screen panel (ah=gain, up on ScriptPHD), and I got to hear two of my idols, Laura Harkom and Chris Leone, talk about writing the smash hit, The Lost Room, as well as their new comic, We Kill Monsters.
I managed to talk their ears off for around an hour near the finale of the convention. It was fun. Very nice people, extremely talented and with great minds. It could of been the fact that I'm in the middle of a show deal myself, but I felt extremely comfortable talking to them as oppose to even talking to some of my friends at BOOM! Studios, although I have talked Mike Alan Nelson's ear off many times. Boy, do we both love Lovecraft!
Alas, the show had to end.
It was good show, and a very good first one. What, with SDCC's recent tomfoolery, people will flock to this smaller outlet.

Zuda at the Harvey Awards

Scott Kurtz recently wrote up a blog entry over on his site for PvP where he basically apologized to Ron Perazza for saying bad things about Zuda and DID NOT apologize to Ron Perazza. Apparently, Kurtz thinks he can have his cake and eat it, too. While I do very much appreciate that Kurtz had the grace to acknowledge that Zuda might not be the bringer of the apocalypse (especially not bringing David, Scott, or Steve into it), it would feel a lot more real to me if it didn't have the aftertaste of a patronizing PR move brought on by High Moon's Harvey win.

Even with all my issues with Zuda, even if they did all of the sudden start screwing people over in the decimative fashion that Kurtz seems to WANT, I would still not like Kurtz. Because he's painted a picture of himself as an incredibly rude, obnoxious, dismissive, cavil, two-faced, and self-centered man.

While I think that Bobby Timony should of won for what he was up for, he was against some well-established talent, and I think at least one Harvey for Zuda - let alone webcomics - is a good win. That's one Eisner (even if it is for Kurtz), the Glyph Awards for Story of the Year, Best Writer, Best Artist, Best Female Character, Best Comic Strip, and now a Harvey in the last year and a half alone.

It's just good for business.

Gone Zombie by Stephen Thor

I've decided that, while I still will post these reviews and maybe stop in the forums every so often, I'm not really going to participate all that much in this month's competition. Last month really was a bummer in the outcome, as it upset a whole mess of people to learn that Earthbuilders won over Mother. Some cried foul, some cried that Zuda was a rigged game. Myself, I brought up the notion that it was due to a faulty voting system, one that rewarded favoritism over actual competition.

Many people said they would vote for Ryan's comic, only to second guess Zuda's validity as a legit contest after being told that they also needed to rate and favorite it.

It definitely keeps me away from submitting again.

I'm off to Staples to make copies of a play that, believe it or not, has a good chance of getting a staged reading in a few weeks.

Enjoy the mini-reviews.

Gone Zombie by Stephen Thor

If this comic just got rid of the zombies, it would be great. But it has zombies. If it were simply about life after the end of the world, it would be great. But it just has to go for the obvious. I'm serious - just like how Indiana Jones would of worked with traditional stuff instead of CGI and Dollhouse would of worked if they all knew they were dolls, everything in this comic would of worked if there were no zombies in it. You can still have the church of nut-jobs, you can still have the guy going in and killing people because they tied a woman to a bed for sex. But get rid of the zombies, please.


Flowing Wells by Andrew Dimitt

It's an interesting idea. A decrepit virtual world, no longer working, dead like any other ghost town. The only problem is that it takes a while for the narrator to actually get to the meat of the story. The art reminds me of Kevin Colden. The design of the town itself could use work, as well as the character, Donald. Right now, it has the same problem Transformers did: in some areas it just looks so jumbled together. This is partially due to it being in black and white.


Lily of the Valley by Adam Atherton

I think I'm just going to start reviewing these things by linking to musical numbers from Cats.

Honestly, I don't know HOW to review some of these.

I didn't like Bleed all that much, and this is only slightly better. The art actually works this time, though, so that's good. The story is basically the same as Blled, except that now the main character is the killer. Yet, unlike Kevin Colden's Fishtown, Lily seems totally hyper as a demented teenage killer, and far from real. It is as if someone took all of the morality out of a season of Dexter.


Sides by Alexader Diochon

This has the best color scheme in the whole lot this month. It's got some clever writin', too. Nice fight scene. Nice plot. Very funny at times.

Watch me catch shit for such a short review.


OPSEC by James Alexander Bott

Gutsy move, leaving your final page on a non-cliffhanger. Too bad the seven pages leading up to it are Tom Clancy BS, or it would of worked, too. Also writes '5' instead of writing 'five'. It's sad because the art actually works for the story, but the story itself is recycled parlor tricks. The pacing is way too... off.


Freak City by Mackenzie Michael Schubert

The plot behind this is solid, if a bit cliche. It's different enough. We definitely start at the right time - in the middle - but the writing falls apart way too early. It also implies that the bad guys have powers, too, which is rather lame. The art is good, but the placement of the word balloons is rather confusing and jaunting. I like the character designs.


Cubicles by Walter Christopher Ostlie

Okay, so the art is pretty bland. Doesn't do anything. The flashback dialogue is also pretty lame, as is the cliffhanger. It is obvious that the writer has no idea what is going to come next, which is something that I have never said about any Zuda comic. Some of them I could not see continuing, but I never actually felt like the writer just wrote eight pages and then stopped there. The general plot seems like it should be interesting... but it's just not once it gets off paper.


Clandestino by Amancay Nicolas Nahuelpan Bustamante

The first panel would of worked without any captions at all. A car flying sideways into a shanty town? That's awesome right there. But then the comic actually DOES start babbling the exposition like a bleeding man, and it just doesn't stop. It is an endless helping of "this happened, and then this happened". I didn't know any of the characters, nor did I care by the end of it all. The art, while confusing at times, was amazing during the tale of the Gypsy Queen. That and the design of what we can assume is the main bad guy. But the main character just annoyed me.


Beertown B'hoys by Steve Bialik

Very nice plot with a very solid structure. I don't think it being in black and white helped it any, though. The dialogue is fascinating, and the characters are fully developed and real. A bit too confusing from page six to seven, but the final dialogue on page eight was not only hilarious, but quite excellent.


Amber Hale, Supermodel by Daren Strange, Lewis Walker & Josh Howard

Okay, first off, HUGE MARKS OFF for slapping YOUR OWN LABELS LOGO (be it real or fake) on your entry to another companies contest.
I mean, honestly. Come on. This is SIMPLE MATH.

I was hoping that it wouldn't suck horribly after such a pretentious move.
I was wrong.

Yes, sorry, I know, this is pretty harsh. I'm sorry for that. But the story is structured all wrong, it doesn't flow at all, things just happen. It's the opposite of Clandestino's problem: whereas that comic told us everything way too fast, this one shows us everything way too fast. The heroine makes a huge leap of logic. It's as if we are watching a trailer instead of reading the intro to a comic.



Somebody said I was pretentious in the comments section for this month's Zuda, so I felt that I should call this new segment WEBSERIALS YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING.

I'll be the first to admit that I cannot stand anime or manga. Half of it is full of undersexed boys and girls trying to get some, and the other half consists of so much plot that the story structure falls apart like a house of cards.

But I can get into YuGiOh: The Abridged Series. Maybe it's because it's an overdubbed spoof, maybe it's because most of my friends work on it and I'm required to watch it in order to be considered a good person, but when you take a show about a Japanese card game and you turn one of its episodes into a melodrama about a guy trying to reunite with his ex-wife, who just happens to be THE OCEAN, then I am in.