Friday, February 11, 2005

Haven't had a whole lot of non-work related computer time lately, so apologies for the whole lot of nothing I've given you lately. When I haven't been working, I've been reading; I just finished with Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and for the first time in ages I got caught up in a book, unable to put it down...or at least put it away with a modicum of effort. It's a very imaginative take on the Baum OZ characters, especially the Wicked Witch of the West, a character everybody knows but no one knew anything about. Hopefully I'll write a bit about it at some later date.

Let's see, what else can I spout off about?

Jason Little has begun the follow up to his excellent Shutterbug Follies, starring "Bee"- Motel Art Improvement Service. I read Follies as he posted it on his website about three years ago (and as a sad result I never purchased the hardcover book, despite the fact that it looked sensational), and I'll probably read the sequel this way too. I love Little's clean, colorful art style, and his Bee is a likeable character.

You should go over to Alan David Doane's to see his 100 Things I Love About Comics. It's really something. Inspired by Fred Hembeck own "100 Things" list, ADD has put in a lot of time on it and it shows. I'd do one, but it would just seem like I'm riding on ADD & Fred's coattails.

Four Color Meat & Fish, a blog I thought I already had on the blogroll at right, is having a contest in which they're giving away the first two Fables trades. Hey, those are some pretty good comics, well worth your time- so go enter, already!

I've been seeing the music meme pop up in a lot of places you don't usually see memes of that sort pop- Warren Ellis' PULSE column, for example, or Heidi MacDonald's Beat at the same location. I've yet to read one that's less than completely fascinating.

Looks like my reading stack is not going down anytime soon; I still haven't finished my stack of comics from Wednesday thanks to the Wicked Witch and the wicked people who take out ads in the newspaper. I got everything I listed the other day except Ultimates 2 #3, which was supposed to be in my holds so all I can surmise is that it didn't ship, my shop didn't get any copies (unusual for such a high profile Marvel book) or got damaged ones and sent them back, or who knows. We shall see. I got Shanna The She-Devil #1, though. Not exactly compensation. I had also meant to keep an eye out for the Batman: The Man Who Laughs one-shot illo'ed by Doug Mahnke, but I didn't see it either. Hmpf. Another significant addition to my reading pile was the gift of a handful of books from Brett Warnock at Top Shelf Comix, including Blankets and Carnet De Voyage! Many thanks to Mr. Warnock. I can't wait to get into the much-praised Blankets and its successor. Of course, I will be sure to relate all my impressions of those and the other books I received ASAP.

While I'm recounting personal good fortune, I suppose I should finally spill the beans about the Significant Event that's coming up for me, namely, my first actual for-money printed article! In a real, honest-to-goodness magazine, or to be more precise, Special Edition Book. Back in October, I was approached by Sean Collins, who as you all may know works at Wizard Entertainment, who asked me if I'd be interested in trying my hand at some freelance writing. Now, folks, what you've been reading here at the Show represents the sum total of my journalistic output; I've never done any "real" writing, so I was apprehensive about it to say the least. But, tempted by the promise of monetary recompense for my efforts, as well as the desire not to spend the rest of my life wondering "what if", I decided that I'd take him up on his offer, figuring I'd get a short piece, perhaps on some obscure character or comic of some sort. When Sean sent me my assignment, I received a shock- it was a 3000 word piece, for the upcoming "Best of Basic Training" collection, about the "tools of the trade"- in short, what materials pros used to illustrate comics. I had never written ANYTHING on this scale before, and I gotta admit that I almost backed out...but I said "No, I can do this!" Part of the job was to interview 6 artists, in other words actually call them up or email them and ask them a series of questions, to be distilled into the body of the piece. So, being an interview journalism virgin, I had to go out and get a recording device of some sort, then I was ready. The Wizard folks wanted me to contact none other than John Cassaday, Mark Bagley, Jim Lee, Steve McNiven, David Finch, and none other than a living legend...John Romita Sr! I was given contact info, and set out on my task. Cassaday and McNiven gave me their answers by email, and I conducted phone interviews with Bagley (friendly guy, fine conversation), Lee (also very open and friendly, and probably the most surprising responder, with his accounts of his laid-back work habits), and I gotta tell you- John Romita Sr. gave me enough material to write two articles! He was very open and friendly as well, and boy, did he love to talk! He gave me a ton of anecdotal information, and I gotta tell ya it made the inner fanboy in me swoon when he would casually drop names the like of Kirby, Buscema, and Gene Colan into his accounts! Niven I never did get in touch with; his emails kept being kicked back and his phone number was the wrong one, so he didn't get interviewed. I'm sure he's losing sleep. Fortunately, I was able to call upon one of the few pro contacts I have, JLA Elite inker Tom Nguyen, who provided me with a wealth of info about inking. Anyway, after taking forever (this came during a very tumultuous time in my life, I had design projects and job interviews and a bunch of other stuff going on) and getting a couple of deadline extensions, I finally got it finished, sent in, revised, and sent in again...and then I heard nothing for several weeks until I saw it solicited in March's Previews, so I emailed Sean about what was going on with it, since I kinda wanted to blog about it- he said it had been edited up, and was indeed going in, so at last I can tell you all the story. Of course, I won't be able to afford a copy of my own, but you guys can check it out and tell me if it sucks too much! It's funny- doing actual paid writing was far from my mind when I started this blogging thing oh so long ago, but it's led to it and y'know what? Although it was kinda stressful, I enjoyed it- and even if I never get to write anything for anyone else I'm very glad I did it- if nothing else but because I got to chat with John Romita Sr.! Many, many thanks to Sean for giving me the opportunity.

OK, I guess that's enough for now. I'll be back with comics reviews over the weekend, and who knows what else.

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