Just Say No

Scripts.  I have to admit to at least one thing I hadn’t prepared for when building my doomed comics career over the past year and a half or so, and that is the amount of script reading I’d actually have to do.  I mean… that’s precisely why a handful of us drawhappy types become artists in the first place, yeah? So we don’t need to read? Hehah! Welcome to the half-movie, half-book medium… care for a brain smothering with miles of text? No. Ellis was once asked at a con about how Darrick came up with the idea for Spider’s glasses, after which Warren explained that most artists can actually only express themselves in pictures and grunts.  “…guhh… colors… STAR WARS!”  Hilarious business, that.  Sad part is I know exactly what he meant.

But yeah, I’ve had to read.  And I don’t just mean reading so I can put it on paper… I mean reading to find out if I even want to put it on paper.  Know what I mean?  I get a healthy stack of scripts to choose from every couple of months, and I get my next project from this pile.

But I need to be smart about it… because if I’m not, I’m gonna be stuck with something I don’t love for what will seem like too fucking long.  Whore yourself out just a bit too much and you risk committing to something you’re not sure your creative attention span can handle.

Here's a diagram.
It's a diagram.

Son, when choosing a gig — big or small — you gotta be excited about it, because if you aren’t it will show in the pages, and that will make the book an ugly part of your portfolio… assuming you even manage to finish it.

It’s the irony of ironies, really — having worked so hard to get to a place where you don’t need to kill yourself pimping anymore, just to learn how to turn things down.

Bowing out of a project is easily one of my least favorite things about working freelance, because not a lot of writers take it very gracefully.  Too many assume that the reason why a project is declined owes a lot to the story’s quality… even when you make it clear that you just don’t feel you’re right for it.  Comes with the territory, I guess… an insensitive writer probably isn’t really much of one, I’m inclined to imagine.  But what do I know?

All the same, it all boils down to decision making and having the balls to stick to it.  Gladly grown a pair, hoping it lasts through harsh winters.

Like Water

One of the larger rooms in the Amor residence recently became available to me and my deceptively quiet lifestyle — I say this with a smile in my heart and a curse on my tongue because I am in fact an intense young man with big, big ideas and thus need to be so housed (Hehah! I’m back, fuckers!).

It’s taken a good week to achieve what I waaaaant to call a Semblance of Order? But let’s just say it’ll do for now.  No, I am not building a fort around the desk… it’s just that the art books and some comics’ll have to be happy being piled up on the carpet until I can get a new shelf made. Or stolen.  I know a guy who knows a guy.  Maybe.

Work station’s set up smartly underneath air conditioner, sound blasters making the most of being cornered.  Made sure she was settled in first so Ray Charles could keep me company as I migrated my shit. Somehow, “Georgia on My Mind” almost made it feel fun. Almost. Room’s got more windows, which is never a bad thing, seeing as how I’m spending more and more time indoors what with the projects piling up (Douche Alert!). Also not hurting me — the fact that the room is twice the size of the old one.  Studio Hunger Pain was good to me… but this… I can get used to this.  I also got stuck with a retardedly large bed.  It’s pretty much a kingy — which is funny coz I am a tiny, tiny, unmarried boy — so there really isn’t a need for such generous beddage, unless the girlfriend finds a way to ninjarotically scale the balcony, which (and I shit you not) opens up to a pretty shallow view of the street.

Idea.

So anyway yeah, as of this posting Fort Bastard is running at 90% capacity.  The other 10% totally depends on whether or not the people who supposedly provide me with an internet service decide to help me out rather than just (a) reassure me with false hope; (b) continue giving me the runaround; or (c) hit on me.  Apparently being a manchild with a semi-nasal baritone is shmexy.  Who knew?

The transfer’s been generally good though.  And I’m finally able to get caught up.  The Euro comic thing is pretty much wrapped up, with some minor cleanups to take care of — cleavage enhancements and such. What.  The Will Prince gig is steadily gaining some steam, with the page layouts all done and pretty much approved.  But tomorrow I’m waking up, fixing up some coffee, and finishing JENNY STRANGE, god fucking damn it. Once and for all, period, end of discussion. Completely unhappy with the lag between the action sequence and the pitch’s denouement. We’ll see how it goes, I guess.  And finally, Alex and I have landed this local gig where we design RPG-type creatures and all that fun stuff.  I was a Magic: The Gathering nerd, so stuff like this is always good to unwind on.  Doesn’t hurt that it pays, of course.  Holla!

So yes… still busy.  With the new studio, what I’ve found to be the biggest challenge is getting back into the right headspace of being relentlessly productive again.  And yes, I know it’s really just a geographical change; but more often than not, are we not shaped by the spaces around us, after all?  Finding that groove again though.  It’s funny how, in freelance, you’re constantly thankful that you’re tired.  But you keep moving, y’know?  You pickaxe, claw, or tooth your way up that steep slope… but you keep moving.  Don’t know if it was Bruce Lee or Spike Speagle, but hey… “Never stop moving.  Remain in motion.  Constant.  Flowing.  Think like fire.  Be like water.”

Someone lent me Iron Fist trades.

Snowball

Takeout.  Bought this bacon-raped cheeseburger thing at close to midnight, coz I usually get real hungry right around that time and it gets harder and harder to stay at the desk when my stomach begins to fuse with my spine.  But now that I have this sexy chunk of food in front of me, I’m not feelin’ it.  Not the least bit hungry.  Feel more like I’ve been pantsed by the Irony Fairy and she’s pointing and laughing at my wiener.  Eat big sandwich anyway.  Large fries.  Large coke.  Double patty.

Now happy as a pig in shit.  Pretty sure I look the part too.

Comics are glamorous.

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Work’s been hectic.  As mentioned in previous posts, OVERTHROW and 1888 are out of my hands (crosses fingers, toes, and all other crossable appendages), so I’m diving into some new things to keep me afloat as I wait for word.  JENNY STRANGE is cruising along, and I’m finally in the final lap of what, I must say, has been a real challenge to my page-orientation ethic.  I’m taking much, much longer than I would have liked though, and I humbly admit to a noobish ineptitude on my part regarding the proper adoption of the landscape comic format.  Never been more aware of the horizontal page flow than I am now.  Curse you, Zuda!

In concurrence with that (thanks, Word of the Day Cereal), I’m juuust starting pencil work on some pages that’ll hopefully make their way into a European mangazine-anthology-type book.  So I’m thinking JUMP, but with a Le in front of it.  I don’t know.  Alexis Nolte has written a sonuvabitch of a detailed period piece — a French 17th century detective comedy, to be exact.  And quite frankly… I don’t know what I’m spending more time on — all the wigs, or all the corset cleavage shots.

Penis Canals.

Good times.

…And still in the page-layout-and-script-munching stages is an also unnameable project with William Prince.  Not much to say about that until I bang some real stuff out, but I will say that fantasy-oriented existentialist themes always suck me in, especially when they don’t just feel like they’ve  been hammered into a comic-shaped chunk of pretense.  Things like this just give my inner Caulfield a hug and a handjob every now and then, and that never hurts.

So yeah… that’s going on.  Plus the cross-country trips.  Plus the podcast shenanigans beginning to snowball.  But in a good way.

Fairly confident I can get all these projects out of the way before the month ends.

Oh stop laughing.

I’m Vaaaaaaaaaalid!

Wesley and the gang over at Indy Comic News are running a series of features showcasing indie creators, and who should the bottle happen to point to next but my dumb self…

ICN: What will be your focus for 2009 in regards to your projects, networking, and growing your career/business?

JA: I’d like to work on an OGN and have it published later this year. Nothing big, probably just a slightly oversized one-shot. It’d also be great to get a pitch picked up, so I’ll definitely be putting a real effort into that. Marvel or DC may be somewhere down the line, but I definitely need to strengthen some ties in that department and bang out a fresh set of samples apart from my indie stuff.

Yes, I behaved myself.  The rest of the interview can be read here.

deanna-and-manoloAlso, my friend Deanna over in Colorado recently sent me some love via the myspaceseses on the internets.

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She thinks I’m adorable.

Win.

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Order The Mask of Manolo here.

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ep2011::: ::: ::: Tres Komikeros episode 20 ::: ::: :::

OGN

Everyone tries to write Watchmen the first time around. Cop to it, kids. We all want our first foray into the world of comics to be loud. To be a hit. And I don’t blame you. Who doesn’t want to be the guy who came out of nowhere and just punched everyone in the face with something awesome? It’s not wrong to want that, but it is harmful to hope for it and, by extension, pin your tragically fragile comic creator self-esteem on what may very well be a shitty Original Graphic Novel.

My friend Matt and I are currently bringing a year’s worth of scripts for INSTRUMENTS to a close. The process is done via skype… with beers… so it’s not the smoothest of creative processes. I currently have about 90% of the first issue completely drawn and toned (we’re planning to release it black and white), so all that’s needed for a proper pitch is the clean script for the first year’s worth of monthly issues. You read that right: the first year. And therein lies the rub — What are the odds of a coupla nobodies getting a publisher to commit to an entire year’s worth of monthlies? Granted of course that our story is mind-numbingly awesome (Who else is gonna say it, asshole?), our operation can’t exactly hinge on the script alone when Image, Boom, Avatar, or whoever else can’t tell us apart from a dead dog’s cock now can it? They don’t know who the hell we are.

So I start small.

I’ve got a bunch of solos I’ve been meaning to start fleshing out, script-wise. I can’t pull off ICELANDER with less than eight issues, so that’s out. JOHNNY BEASTLING only needs six for the first arc, but I really really really don’t want to have to use it until I know I can write it well. THREE BLIND MICE needs more research. So that just leaves the pirate story…

Let’s call it ALL HANDS for now. And let’s say it’s what Lovecraft wanted to see when he watched Pirates of the Caribbean, and Harryhausen was right beside him, stealing his popcorn. (I draw comics, were you really looking for a profound metaphor there?)  But the best part is it works as a one-shot.  An oversized one-shot, sure, but much easier to sell than a twelve-issue maxi-series written by two drunken nerds.

So that’s going on. I wish I could say I arrived at this decision to write a pirate story via logical reasoning, but the fact is it’s nothing but what I’m calling a resultant… I don’t know… mental state? Gestalt?… of a series of strange coincidences. Take from that what you will.

::: ::: ::: Keeping it Relevant Department ::: ::: :::

MASK of MANOLO #2 is experiencing logistical hitches. More on that as I get news.

Page layouts for HORROR PROJECT are coming along nicely. Thumbnails are being a bit of a challenge, but live and learn I suppose.

Tomorrow will be about reading JENNY STRANGE scripts for Zuda.

OVERTHROW #1 is done and done. All that’s left is the cover concepts before we take it to pitch. Justin suggested I study some old posters and go all Soviet Propaganda on everyone’s asses, so that should be fun. See?

soviet31 soviet2 soviet11

Just the Tip

Got a fair amount of work sorted out this week, schedule-wise, which (and you gotta give me this, at least) is no small feat, given that it’s Christmas time.  I may not be the most disciplined guy around when it comes to sticking to time tables, but god damn it I can juggle like you wouldn’t believe.

Also, I’m a douche.

But anyway…

Promised myself I’d put a real effort into getting more indies in 2008, and I think I’ve pretty much succeeded, on the most part.  Tail end of 2007 saw me get that Cebulski project, my first gig, through a ridiculously coincidental series of events — one of those right-place-right-time type deals — so ridiculous in fact that it involves my quitting law school, my working in a call center, and even a messy break-up some two-three years ago.  Shit you not.  It’s a Bendis plot, is what it is.  But you only get lucky once, right?  So this year had me working for it.  And well… I like to think I tried hard enough.

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Didn’t make it into Marvel just yet, but they know my name… that’s as good a start as any, I suppose.

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To my three returning readers, here’s some stuff to watch out for: My first solo book, The MASK of MANOLO, from Patchwork comics should be hitting the stands within the next month or so.  Alveraz and the gang are cranking out the proofs and working through the Christmas season to make sure Slominski and I start polluting the scene early next year.

First issue of OVERTHROW! is just about wrapped up; As I’m writing this, I’m finalizing the inks for the last page… with my feet.  Took longer than I care to admit, but Justin’s been a real sport about it.  Of course, he’s probably just lulling me into a false sense of security before he strikes.  The book goes to pitch early next year, so we’re both holding on to our skirts about that.

First few pages of the yet unnamable horror project are beginning to zygotize in my thought-peach.  It’s a bit of a departure from my super hero and modern fantasy stuff, so it’s taking a bit of doing.  I’m to expect a box of reference material in the mail, a cheery package of crime scene photos from Victorian London (hint, hint), but it’s Christmas… so yeah, that’ll have to wait I guess.  The script is in though, and it’s a mean mother.  Like OVERTHROW!, this will probably go to pitch early next year as well.

iceberg
It's a metaphor.

These are all collabs though.  Should devote some real time to properly scripting my solo OGNs this year as well.  INSTRUMENTS is chugging along nicely with Matt being sober most of the time these days, so that’s cool.  Speaking of personal projects though…

The Horror Classics series is on hold until I get a proper foot-hold on the books i’m whored out to, timeframe-wise.  Though I really should get back to that soon, coz the scary faces in the noggin aren’t exactly helping me relax much on my downtime.

I quit my office job precisely so I wouldn’t have to deal with scary faces anymore, right?

Zing.

So yeah, it’s been more or less a pretty good year.  Dark Knight kicked ass, Obama won the election, and I drew a gutted elephant.

Here’s to 2009.

Merry Christmas, everyone.