Sunday, April 19, 2015

What It Is – week ending 19 April [2015]

With apologies to Dave the Thune (as well as Mike Baron & Steve Rude).

Every day.  1000 words.  That’s the goal.

At last check-in, two weeks ago, I’d completed the first draft of the novel.  Now I’m onto the pitch for my time travel “epic,” refining and rewriting it in anticipation of Oni’s open submission call next month.  I’ve got a solid premise, I believe, with an engaging four-issue arc that can work as a standalone story, but is also intended as the opening narrative of a much longer story, in the vein of Sandman and Queen & Country, two primary influences on this project. 

I don’t know exactly what Oni will be looking for, so I’m working up various items for inclusion, a synopsis of the opening story, a detailed issue-by-issue breakdown, character profiles, a final script for issue one (which I workshopped at Comics Experience, where I got some invaluable critiques that improved it immensely).  Some of these aspects, I already had written in a rough form and only need to revise, while others I am writing up for the first time.  The great thing about this is that I’ve discovered a lot about the story and been able to flesh it out more fully, so that when I do submit to Oni, I will have a far better understanding of where I am going with it, which, I hope, will improve the chances of getting picked up.  If I don’t, though, I may turn this into a novel at some point down the line. 

Finished up Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake this week, and I had two thoughts: 1) what an amazing and beautifully written book, 2) why am I even trying to write? 

That second thought is one that occurs a lot, especially when I finish a book as stellar as this.  The connections Lahiri makes, her use of language and the perfect balance of detail and metaphor, and the facility with which she opens and closes a scene—all spectacular.  If you’re looking for a moving, engaging read, pick this up. 

I also re-read Elektra: Assassin this week.  I didn’t connect with this work the first time I read it and subsequently sold my trade collection of it.  But I recently picked up the individual issues on ebay and am I glad I did.  Miller’s writing, specifically his dialogue and captions with their halting cadence revealing the truth over the course of dozens of bits of text, is superb.  And the art by Bill Sienkiewicz is just damn beautiful.  I love his art, and he is just on the top of his game in this book.  Amazing stuff.  If you like over-violent, satirical stories and are a fan of comics, and you haven’t read this yet, do yourself a favor and seek it out.  Now. 

Watched Live. Die. Repeat./Edge of Tomorrow/I Don’t Know What Title I am? this past week, and I really enjoyed it.  (Sure, there’s a theme running through most of these “updates” about how much I enjoyed reading/watching/hearing something, but that’s because I tend to be picky, and I also don’t want to spend much time on anything that I found less than enjoyable)  The conceit of time travel, as a story engine, is difficult to “get right,” or at least to utilize in a manner that doesn’t pull the audience right out of the story (fingers crossed with my comic pitch above).  But with this film, they did a great job of engaging viewers with the visuals and the drama of the situation, while offering a plausible explanation for the time travel (though, to be fair, it wasn’t so much time travel as a temporal loop, wherein Tom Cruise’s character repeated the same day, over and over, until that chain is broken).  I really enjoyed how we got to see Cruise’s character learn from each jump back to the same day, as he died again and again but retained his memories of those previous days, and the manner that the filmmakers revealed this worked well.  It kept me interested, provided the right amount of drama and intrigue, and offered questions that demanded answers.  And, as the guys at Travis Bickle on the Riviera stated, we got to see Tom Cruise become Tom Cruise.  His character arc was really interesting, something you don’t necessarily get in most action films.  Fun stuff. 

Sox are in first place!  I’ll take that.  I’m not expecting much from the team this year, their pitching could use a shot in the arm (pun intended), but the offense should/could be exciting.  We’ll see  At least I’m not a Cubs fan (sorry, Dan)

The new Star Wars 7 trailer dropped.  And it is magnificent.  The initial teaser did nothing for me.  It didn’t feel like Star Wars, and after the prequels I felt too burned to give in to the dark side.  But this one kicked me right in my nostalgic, five-year-old self’s heart, and I am all in now.  That opening shot is what did it for me—seeing such familiar imagery, the desert, the X-Wing, and the Star Destroyer shown in such a wholly new context, that was exciting.  Add to that, the fact that the “soccer ball droid,” BB-8, is a practical effect, a puppet, and not a CGI effect, that cements it.  Abrams knows how to rummage through my memories and pluck just the right strings to make my heart sing, and he’s doing it again.  Can’t wait for this now.

As always, check out my friends – Brad& Matt and Darren Smith (with Bryan Young on accompaniment, when he’s available)  and Don McMillan, as well as Dan’s foray into podcastdom, the Potato League Podcast, for their own weekly recaps on things comic-y and geeky, and we'll see what's what in seven.  


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