Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Redux Trilogy: Rob Con, Women of Darby Pop and We Talk Comics Podcasts.

Just a few random notes of interest that prove what is old is new again...

I will be attending RobCon again as a guest this summer. It will be my fifth time around for the ever growing convention and appears it will be the best yet. If you are in the Northeast Tennessee or Southwest Virginia the last weekend in July I highly recommend stopping in. Robert Pilk of Mountain Empire Comics has really been stepping it up the last couple of years. It's a fantastic show, with panels, costume contests, writers, artists, and a floor full of vendors. Last year was an absolute blast and it looks like this year will be even better. My partner on the the upcoming "The Outer Worlds," Ivan Castillo of Conquest Art Designs, will have some fantastic stuff available and maybe if we can put our heads together we can come up with a nice preview of our sci-fi comic book mini-series. If you want info on RobCon you can find it on facebook here or contact Robert directly here. Also check out Conquest Art Designs here and here. As soon as I know the panel schedule I will post an update. I'm already saving up for the cool RobCon T-shirt this year. It's the uber awesome Batman '66 logo from his flyer.

For Women's History Month, the "Women of Darby Pop" anthology is offered again in PREVIEWS. Contact your local comic shop with order order code: MAR17 1916 to get a copy. My story story "Looking for Redemption with Blind Eyes" featuring the character Stingray from Darby Pop's "Indestructible" closes out the issue. It originally didn't drop until two months after Rob Con last year so this will be the first year I have some available. If you prefer digital comics you can still get both "Women of Darby Pop" and my four "Adventures In Pulp" short stories as downloads at Comixology here. All digital profits for "Adventures in Pulp" go to the artist.

Finally, the other day Chris Beck of We Talk Comics Podcasts contacted me about joining him and We Talk's founder Mo Kristiansen to do an episode focusing on Pre-Marvel Universe comic book movies. I first appeared on the We Talk Comic Podcast way back in the summer of 2015 promoting "Adventures in Pulp" and it was an absolute blast. Chris and Keith Callbeck hosted that episode and talking to them was like hanging out with my friends at the local the comic shop. Keith has since moved on and regular host Brett Monro was ill, so Chris invited me to fill in at the 11th hour (proving one Brett is most definitely NOT as good as another). The show was a lot of fun. It was a different vibe contributing to an ongoing conversation as opposed to a straight up interview so I felt a little shaky. My fear is I spend a little too much time saying "I agree" or "I really liked this or hated that" without going into specifics. If they ever go temporarily insane and have me on again I will make and effort to be more ready with specifics. Have no fear, Chris and Mo are total pros and the show, like all their others, will be a fantastic in spite of my "green" efforts. As soon as the new show goes up I will provide a link. Until then, you can check out my first appearance here and I highly recommend trying some of their other past episodes.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Twin Engines of (Self) Destruction

Empress cover artwork by Stuart Immonen.
I know I've been neglecting my blog lately. My son switched schools this year and, having coached AAU wrestling, I applied to be the assistant coach of his middle school wrestling team.  It made for a busy fall and winter. So, while I still hope to do a writer's commentary on my Darby Pop story that was published back in September (you can still get a digital copy here), I thought I would fill the dead air by posting my rejected story for the 2017 MillarWorld Annual. The story was based on Empress by Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen. In addition to the rejected story, I also thought I would include a draft I threw out. The first story was going to focus on the supporting character of Captain Dane Havelok. It was a sequence of him getting ready to try to get Queen Emporia, the wife of a galactic dictator, off of Earth in which he needed a ploy/disguise for Emporia. It was titled "The Fine Line Between Loyalty and Treason." While it worked in concept, it felt too much like a missing scene from the original story rather than a complete story in its own right. I was going to take another pass when I came up with (what I thought was) a better story. The one I submitted (and was rejected) worked better, but in hind sight probably paralleled the original tale too much (including the climactic twist). It followed Dane trying to get Emporia away from a faction of rebels. It was titled "Protector." I still like it (although I wish I had another panel on page two). So here it is folks, TWO ways in which NOT to succeed (or as I like to call them, my "Twin Engines of Self Destruction" (any Star Wars fans get the joke?). If you are an aspiring writer. Learn from my mistakes.


ORIGINAL SCRIPT:
EMPRESS: "The Fine Line Between Loyalty and Treason"
Short Story

Script by Brett Harris
5 pages
Second Draft:
18th November 2016

Page One

1/ Single panel splash page with title and credits. We see CAPTAIN DANE HAVELOCK walking down a corridor. He looks pretty much as he does when he is introduced on pages 7-9 of Empress issue #1.

NARRATION (DANE): I have to hurry. King Morax is about to execute three workers for "incitement to disobedience."


Page Two

1/ Dane has stopped at a door and is using a card key on a futuristic lock mechanism while looking over his shoulder.

NARRATION (DANE): Queen Emporia is expected to be there, and, by extension, so am I. We have to keep up appearances if my plan to get her off Earth and away from that maniac is going to work.

2/ Dane entering a room with benches and rows of lockers.

NARRATION (DANE): We only have a window of about twenty minutes between the execution and dinner.

3/ Dane at one of the lockers. It is open and he is reaching in. Behind him, we can see an engineer's helmet, gloves, and boots sitting on the bench. They should be identical to the armor Emporia is putting on in Empress #1 pages 8-9.

NARRATION (DANE): I have to get the traveling cloak to disguise her long enough to get her to my ship. Tor is waiting and what I have planned, they'll never see coming.

4/ Same basic panel but we can see he is pulling out a long hooded cloak. We see a partially dressed male human ENGINEER in the background (as if he has just come around the corner of the row of lockers). It is clearly his helmet, boots and gloves on the bench.

ENGINEER: C-captain H-Havelok! Is the Queen making a surprise inspection?

5/ Close on Dane's surprised look. Do NOT over do it with slack jaw and google eyes, just raised eyebrows will suffice.

NARRATION (DANE): Uh-oh. It's time to improvise.

Page Three

1/ DANE is holding up the cloak for the ENGINEER to see.

DANE: No, I, ah, was retrieving a traveling cloak for a visiting dignitary --

2/ The Engineer looks suspicious.

ENGINEER: Anyone can do that, you should never be away from Queen Emporia's side.

3/ Dane throwing the cloak at the Engineer like a net.

DANE: I'll keep that in mind for the future.

4/ Dane punching the Engineer through the cloak, which has landed over his head.

NARRATION (DANE): Damn, pulled my punch. I have gotten too used to sparring. Let's face it, Emporia is never in danger from someone outside. No one would dare cross King Morax.


Page Four

1/ The ENGINEER pulling the cloak away, his nose bleeding and a look of rage on his face.

NARRATION (DANE): My role is ceremonial. I fear I may have gotten soft.

2/ The Engineer taking a swing at DANE, who is blocking the blow with one hand and grabbing at the cloak, which is hanging off the Engineer's shoulder, with the other.

NARRATION (DANE): However, survival is a great motivator. I am a survivor.

3/ Dane has twisted the cloak around the neck of the Engineer, whose eyes are bulging. Dane is pulling it tight. Clearly the Engineer is choking.

NARRATION (DANE): I'll do what needs to be done to make sure the Queen and her children survive.

4/ Same basic panel but the Engineer is dead. Eyes now rolled back and facial features have gone slack.

NARRATION (DANE): That's my job. It's who I am.


Page Five

1/ DANE standing over the dead Engineer, looking at his hands. Some of the blood from the Engineer's bloody nose has gotten on them.

NARRATION (DANE): I got my hands dirty a little sooner than expected.

2/ Dane now sitting on the bench inspecting the cloak, the Engineer's helmet next to him.

NARRATION (DANE): He won't be the last to die today.

3/ Close up of the cloak in his hands. It is ripped and also has blood on it.

NARRATION (DANE): Ruined. Time to adapt.

4/ Same basic panel but now the cloak is on the floor and Dane is holding the helmet.

NARRATION (DANE): This could work. Probably better in the long run. I can't give up.

5/ Dane walking down a corridor with the Engineer's armor.

NARRATION (DANE): I'm loyal to the queen, even if it means committing treason.

CAPTION: The end of the beginning...

And now the story I chose to submit that was rejected:


ORIGINAL SCRIPT:
EMPRESS: "Protector"
Short Story

Script by Brett Harris
5 pages
Final Draft:
27th November 2016

Page One

1/ Single panel splash page with title and credits. We see CAPTAIN DANE HAVELOCK running down a corridor. He is pulling QUEEN EMPORIA behind him. She is dressed much like she is when we first see her in Empress #1 on page 7: Attractive dress, head pieces, the colors are lighter and she has an additional cloak which is flapping behind her, a strip has been torn off. They are running from three men (Rebels against King Morax). One is firing a gun at them the blast going right through her flapping cloak. Dane is wounded with a wrap made of the missing cloak around his torso. A stain of blood shows through.

EMPORIA: Are they insane?! Striking at us on Earth! At the opening of my husband's war museum!

DANE: Keep moving, highness, I need to get you to a defensible position.


Page Two

1/ DANE and EMPORIA running around a corner.

2/ Dane and Emporia (their backs to the reader). Reveal a dead end.

DANE/EMPORIA (together): Shit.

3/ Dane pulling off Emporia's cloak and head piece.

DANE: Highness, if I may?

4/ Dane thrusting the horn of the headpiece through a REBEL as he rounds the corner.

SFX: THA-WHUMP!

5/ Dane punching a second rebel over whom he has thrown the cloak like a net. (The first rebel is lying bloody at his feet).

SFX: WHACK!


Page Three

1/ A third REBEL hitting DANE from behind with the butt of his gun.

SFX: THA-WHACK!

2/ Dane slumped over the second Rebel unconscious at the feet of the third Rebel.

No dialogue.

3/ The last rebel aiming his gun at EMPORIA.

EMPORIA: Coward! You would shoot an unarmed woman? Do you not have enough manly bits between your legs to show King Morax that you are not afraid to get your hands dirty?

4/ The rebel tossing his gun away casually with a smirk.

No dialogue.

5/ The rebel charging Emporia.

REBEL: For the cause! Death to Morax and his Queen!


Page Four

1/ A single panel page of EMPORIA slugging the REBEL with a massive bone crunching, teeth rattling punch.

SFX: KRA-WHACK!


Page Five

1/ EMPORIA standing over the fallen REBEL.

EMPORIA: Been a while since the cages.

2/ Same basic panel but Emporia is kicking the fallen rebel.

EMPORIA: I still got it.

3/ Emporia helping DANE up.

DANE: What happened?

EMPORIA: You were amazing, my protector.

4/ Dane (being steadied by Emporia) looking down at the rebel.

DANE: I don't remember.

EMPORIA: Your training kicked in automatically before you passed out.

5/ Emporia helping Dane down the corridor, their backs to the reader.

EMPORIA: Come, let's get you to a medic.

DANE: Highness, why is your hand bruised?

CAPTION: FIN.

If you want to read last year's rejected entry based on the Flash Gordon-esque Starlight you can find it here. I'm REALLY proud of it and still a little heart broken it didn't get selected.

 

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Road to Breaking into Comics: The Women (and Men) of Darby Pop

Back in November of 2014, I wrote a blog discussing the virtues of comic book writers grabbing any opportunity to get their work in front of editors/publishers. One of the few ways are the all too rare writing contest. I discussed my experiences with those contests and you can read about them here. Since writing that, the two scripts I had just finished: One for Top Cow ("Friends Help You Move, Real Friends Help You Move Bodies" - which may have been one of my favorite things I have ever written) and another one for Darby Pop ("Random Stanzas in the Poetry of Lies and Self Deception"). Both were rejected.

So, I did what writers do. I moved on.

Despite the rejections, there were also some successes that kept me going.  Alex Thomas of Pipedreamcomics gave the webcomic I was writing ("Adventures in Pulp") a great review and even did a brief interview with me (you can read the interview here and the review here). Two great guys (Keith Callbeck and Chris Beck) over at We Talk Comics even invited me and the artist to do an episode of their podcast (you can hear it here). It was a lot of fun. People were reading my stories and actually liking them.

I didn't give up on the contests though. I entered Mark Millar's MillarWorld Annual contest with a story based on his series "Starlight" which ended in another rejection. It was both pulpy and had a lot of heart and I was really proud of it. This time the story was so special to me I posted my entry here. I entered the next Top Cow contest based on "IX Generation" and "Aphrodite IX" with "The Devil is in the Details." Unlike previous years, they gave feedback and an opportunity to revise the submission. It was rewritten and resubmitted as "A Serpent in the Garden." I've not heard back on that, so either a decision has not been made or it was rejected. Either way, you can't look back.  Just keep on going forward. If I win, that's great. If not, I have another issue of experience under my belt. In the middle of getting the first draft of my Top Cow submission ready, I was stunned to find my "Adventures in Pulp" work was again the focus of some great press. Pipedreamcomics put us several of their best of 2015 lists and we were up for Digital Comic of the Year. Pipedream readers would pick the best out of the staff's top ten pick, which included DC's "Batman 66" and Marvel's "X-Men Infinite '92."

And we won.

If you had told me a year earlier characters I created like Dick Ruby, El Supremo and The Good Witch of the Dead Lands would beat out Batman and Wolverine, I would have laughed. You can see the winning announcement here. But just when you think everything is going great, the universe throws you a curve ball. The artist (and website owner) of "Adventures in Pulp" decided to quit. We were almost thirty pages into our second story, "Jigsaw World," which was going to be an eighty-eight page epic instead of a collection of short stories. I retreated into screenwriting without looking back. Three pilots I wrote are currently attached to GloverZone Pictures, but even that has fallen into a holding pattern. I was talking with Conquest Art Design's Ivan Castillo about collaborating on a sci-fi comic called "The Outer Worlds," but it was taking forever to get a contract together (we have since gotten that ironed out, and have finally gotten started).

Most importantly, I entered another contest.
  
 Darby Pop had a second contest. This time a collection of short stories focusing on the Women of Darby Pop.  Confession time. I was in the midst of several deadlines and found out about the contest fairly late and, well, I cheated. 

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Don't get too excited. The stories were mine. I wrote them. 

I just took, kind of, a short cut.
My previous submission for Darby Pop ("Random Stanzas in the Poetry of Lies and Self Deception" featuring Stingray) was structured oddly. I was trying to do something different in hopes of getting noticed. Instead of a single narrative I crafted a series of vignettes focusing on the character. The mini-stories would hopefully run the gamut and coalesce together as a nice character driven piece with loads of pathos and hopefully some humor. They had rejected it, but I needed something quick. I decided on a shot-gun method. I pulled the stories apart, re-wrote the individual tales, and submitted SIX separate stories and hoped that the parts were greater than their sum.

Apparently, one was.

On June 12, I was contacted by Jeff Marsick. My sixth story squeaked through. "Looking for Redemption with Blind Eyes."

But I'm getting ahead of myself. There was some hand wringing on my part. I love Stingray. She is a beautifully broken character. She first appeared in Indestructible. When we first see her, she is getting out of prison. She was a superhero who went bad. As the series progresses, we see her spiral downward and she eventually becomes the main villain of the story. During the climax, she commits a horrible act and... and... well...

I felt bad for her. 

I know that sounds odd, but the regret was on her face the moment after she committed the act and, in that moment, I realized she is redeemable and I am a sucker for redemption stories. We all are seeking some kind of redemption for something. It may be big or it may be small. We may get it and we may not, but it's there. Stingray's redemption tale is begging to be told. However, it has to be earned. I can only guess what the folks of Darby Pop thought of my submissions because for that eventual redemption tale to feel really earned the character has to be beaten down. These submissions were prequels, so I beat her down. 

Hard. 

Story. After. Story. 

The fine folks at Darby Pop probably thought I was some sort of woman hating misogynist. Just the opposite. I believe in Stingray but, until that perfect redemption story comes along, the harder and more frequently she can be beaten down the better.  Then when her redemption comes, she will stand taller than ever before. It will be earned. See, even now I get carried away. I really love the character.

Where was I?

Oh yea, Jeff Marsick, contacted me. Jeff was the winner of the previous Darby Pop contest for the Stingray oneshot and writer of "Dead Man's Party." He explained he was going to be my personal editor and made some revisions and notes to my script. He was very friendly and generous. 

Then I opened the file and my heart sank. 

My script was littered with red revisions. My first thought was "Oh, no, they didn't have enough submissions and mine sucks so bad they ripped it apart. My best digital comic award was a fraud. I'm a hack. It's a pity acceptance." Then I calmed down and read though the sea of red, and realized it was not as it appeared. The theme is there. All the elements I wanted and considered important were untouched. The foundation was intact. All the changes were cosmetic. A page that was eight panels was now six. A panel with two balloons now had one. Everything was still there, but streamlined. Redundancy eliminated. He was more like a surgeon with a scalpel. An idea I had taken three lines to get across were re-arranged and trimmed down but the idea remained untouched and now read in a single line.

It was concise. It was streamlined. It was BETTER.

In the span of a few minutes, I went from despair to unbridled enthusiasm. I didn't have an editor with "Adventures in Pulp," so Jeff was my first. I could not have gotten one better for my first time out of the gate. He was spectacular. He didn't just say, "Change it!" He explained why it worked better. He was right every single time and did it without altering the intent of any of the scenes or the point of my story. He was in a word: Amazing.

After several back and forth exchanges (which included a ground up re-write of page 4), we got it nailed down and he sent it "up the chain." I got another round of changes from Darby Pop President Jeff Kline. It was the second most unnerved I was during the process. This Jeff was the creator of Indestructible and Stingray. I was playing with HIS toys. What if he hated it? With great trepidation I opened the file to see only a few minor changes. Very minor. I didn't break his toy. For the record, I consider that a second win.

Next enter Kristine Chester. She was the Associate Editor and managed all the rest of the communication with me and the artist of the piece, Pedro Moreo. Like Jeff Marsick, Kristine was just spectacular. She was friendly and kind all the way through the art process. She frequently asked my opinion and kept me in the loop as to Pedro's work (which is absolutely fantastic.  Mark my words... he is a future star and I hope I get to work with him again). I got to see my story come together in a way that I didn't even get to see with "Adventures in Pulp" in the latter months. There was a genuine feeling of respect toward me and the story. Again, suggestions were always made with a single goal: Make it better. Never was there ego or a feeling of a power trip. Every comment and every suggestion was geared toward serving the story or character. It was a fantastic change of pace from what I was used to in the past.

Just to back up for a minute, my actual first experience with Ms. Chester was when I e-mailed my submissions. I was having tech issues and even then she was so kind and helpful. She even made a comment about how everyone in the office had read my blog about the contest -- the one I have a link to at the beginning. Remember when I said Mr. Kline reading my script was the second most unnerved I was during the process? Well, that unnerved me more than anything, even though it was said with nothing but sincere kindness. I'm still not sure why. Anyone want to psychoanalyze me, feel free.

Bottom line. Working for the great men and women of Darby Pop has been a fantastic experience from top to bottom. I hope it's not my last.

The book "Women of Darby Pop" is a double size issue for $3.99 and was released this past Wednesday. If you can't find a copy in your local comic shop, you can get it digitally at ComiXology here or order physical copies through Darby Pop' Square Store here.

Like with my previous work, I do plan on doing a writer's commentary on the story after it has been out awhile. In it, I hope to talk about my goals with the story and character and even discuss some of the specific editorial improvements. It should be fun. Until then, I have another contest to get ready for...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

RobCon IV: The Voyage Home

I am going to be at RobCon this year. I'll confess.  Initially, I was going to pass. Having done three tours promoting the website I used to write for, I really didn't feel I had much to offer this year. I was busy but didn't have anything tangable to bring to the table. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Let's rewind.

About a year ago, I was approached by a production company who was interested in my writing and Adventures in Pulp was coming to an end so I spent most of the last half of last year focusing on screen writing rather than comics. 

Then things got weird. 

I was invited to appear on the We Talk Comics and talk about my writing on Adventures in Pulp. The experience spurred me on to continue with Adventures in Pulp (against my better judgement) when the artist asked to continue a story we had started together. My lawyer recommended saying no to the deal the production company offered but the idea had set in and I went about shopping my screenplays around. Around the first of the year, Adventures in Pulp won Digital Comic of the Year 2015. I was trying to get contracts done to do some comics with some artists (one being Ivan Castillo of Conquest Art Design) and entered some contests (Darby Pop's Women of Darby Pop and Top Cow's Annual Talent Hunt). There was a lot of business and creating but nothing I could put on a table to promote.  To add insult to injury, the artist/owner of the Adventures in Pulp site decided to pack it in and the story there was unfinished. It was, to be blunt, a shit storm of bad luck, good luck and new opportunities. I felt pulled in multiple directions while running in place. It was an odd feeling and RobCon was around the corner.
"You are coming this year, right?" Robert Pilk (the Rob in RobCon) asked casually one day.
"I don't have anything new.  It would seem kind of sad," I said, trying to hide behind a comic rack.
"You can promote your Digital Comic of the Year award."
"But Adventures in dead, the second series is unfinished. I've got nothing."
"Eh, something will come up."

I wiffled. I waffled. Xander was playing summer ball. That could be an excuse. Except The USSSA AA World Series had wrapped two weeks before the con. I hemmed. I hawed.

Then some news broke. 

Several things at once. First, as described in yesterday's blog, GloverzoneDL Pictures picked up my pilots for production. Contracts have not been signed yet, but they have listed the pilots listed on their website, so what the heck, right? I was contacted about a story I wrote getting published in September. I still can't talk about it on social media since it has not been officially announced but I did get permission to discuss it at the convention. Contracts I had been waiting on for over six months were completed. It even appeared the long discussed Outer Worlds comic book mini-series with Ivan would finally get moving. While I didn't have any new books to sell (I will have the award winners), I did have stuff to discuss.

I broke down and decided to attend the convention. At this point I have to give a big thanks to Diana Simpson (Rob's right hand woman), who got me on the docket in the eleventh hour. Diana is fantastic and is busting her butt to help Rob make ROBCON the biggest and best yet. If you see her, please make sure to tell her what a great job they have done. She deserved the props.

I'll be on the writers panel from 11-12 Saturday and I'll be joining Matt Shafer of the Mountain Empire Superhero Film Club to discuss upcoming comic book films for the film panel from 1-2.

Rob was right. Something did come up. But don't tell him I said so. He'll be insufferable for at least a week. Perhaps even two.

UPDATE: Since Darby Pop has mentioned it on Facebook and twitter, I can confirm I am one of the writers who will be published in the "The Women of Darby Pop" anthology. My story is called, "Looking for Redemption with Blind Eyes." The double sized issue will be available for purchase nationwide on September 28 for only $3.99. This Previews World "certified cool" oneshot is likely to fly off shelves so to ensure you get a copy, preorder copies at your local comic shops with item code JUL161751. I will be writing a blog about the wonderful experience working on the story once the official announcement has been made.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pilot Playhouse (With a Little Help from My Friends)

I don't like to discuss stuff until contracts are signed since, lets face it, in the entertainment industry anything can can happen. Projects fall through all the time even after pages have been inked with one's John Hancock. However, I am making an exception. My three television pilots Jigsaw World, Exodus 7 and Atlantis Rising appear to have found a home at GloverzoneDL Pictures. Normally I would keep mum, but since they are sure enough to post them as in development on their website (see the bottom of their list here: http://gloverzonedlpictures.com/t-v-projects/) I figured, what the hell? Worst case scenario, it falls through and I go back to shopping them around. 

Exodus 7 is a pilot/series proposal I wrote several years ago when the digital comic I was writing was stalled so the artist could do a pitch for a publisher. I had ants in my pants to do something different in the down time and so I started bouncing ideas off my dear and old friend Bud Shinall who partnered with me in this endeavor. Over the years the two of us would hit the local bar and grills and talk about the scifi shows of the time over potato skins and blooming onions. We really believed we could carve out a space sci-fi concept that would be budget conscious and dramatic. Not only was Bud the best man at my wedding, he is my best sounding board. If I come up with an idea, he improves on it. If he comes up with an idea, I can add texture and depth to it. We laugh, we create, and we make what we want to see as fans. So, together, we fleshed out the plot and first season arc, developed the characters and finally I scripted our plot. The show focuses on the Exodus missions to colonize far off worlds. The crew wakes to find their ship off course and damaged and hilarity ensues. 

Atlantis Rising dates all the way back to a comic book script I wrote back in 2007. It revolves around the U.S. reverse engineering the alien technology with an eye toward taking over the world but, Atlantis rises from the ocean introducing magic to the world at large creating a cold war between the two nations. I always believed in the story and thought it would make a great television series.

Jigsaw World is another comic book concept from back in 2007.  It the two (of four) issues sat idle for years until an artist agreed to work with me on a pitch. We shopped the first issue along with the second issue script and outline around to no avail.  Later the artist asked me to write his webcomic and, again, during idle time when he was not producing, we put up the first issue on the website. We parted ways so I adapted the first two comic scripts and rest of the outline to a pilot script. After getting some press from our other digital comic work, we decided to resume working on it with the intention of self publishing via Comixology Submit and I adapted the pilot script back into issues three and four of comic book, but the collaboration was short lived and the comic was never finished or published. Again, I always believed in it and thought it would make exciting tv (or comic). (UPDATE: Some one pointed out I didn't mention what this series would be about. The idea is kind of Flash Gordon meets Sliders. On a version of Earth from a parallel universe, scientists try to save their doomed world by pulling pieces of Earths from alternate realities to create a new patchwork planet. Our hero is on of of those pieces and gets to explore his new world in search of technology that will stop an alien infestation that was on one of the pieces and is now infecting the whole new world.)

I hope everything works out and one day you can see these stories on television. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention fellow writer Tommy Bryant. Tommy has been a big cheerleader and help in my transition from comics to television. Once, I worked with an artist who refused to give me the name of an editor he worked with when I wanted to send out some inquiry letters (to be honest he actually claimed he could not remember, which was not true, who forgets the name of their first editor). It wasn't like we would be competing for the same jobs, so it was kind of strange. Conversely, anytime Tommy comes across a production company he forwards them on to me. Sure he COULD think "if they like his stuff they may pass on mine." But he doesn't play that game. He realizes that there are a million reasons why a project may get selected and a million why they may not and that his success is in no way related to mine (and vise versa). He loves the job. No, strike that, he loves the CALLING of being a story teller and not only needs to feed it within himself, but in the others around him. That kind of love of the craft is hard to find in the struggling circles. We would be a better community if more thought like him. I know if my shows go to series, one of the first calls I'm going to make will be to Tommy. Writing a season of television is a lot of work. I know I'll need a solid stable of storytellers to get the job done.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Living and Dying in Starlight

While I wait for announcements on the status of my entries for this year's Top Cow Talent Hunt and Darby Pop's Women of Darby Pop contest, I thought I would post my losing entry to Mark Millar's MillarWorld Annual Contest. I wrote this back in October and received the sad news that my entry, a five page tale based on Mark Millar's Starlight (the cover off issue 1 with art by Goran Parlov is pictured at right), didn't make the cut in December. As I have said before, it's very difficult to break in as a writer so you must take every possible opportunity to get your work in front of editors. While the 4 short stories I wrote for Adventures in Pulp were named Best Digital Comic of 2015 by pipedreamcomics.co.uk it was still technically an amateur publication put out via a (now defunct) website and Comixology Submit (still available, and all proceeds go to the artist). I was a huge fan of Starlight with it's pulpy Flash Gordon flavor and since my piece didn't make the book, I wanted to share it because I am proud of it and want it to be read. Here it is:



Page One

1/ Young DUKE MCQUEEN is urgently swimming underwater. He has a clear domed helmet on for oxygen (like the one he wears in issue 5), one hand is stretched out in front of him and the other hand is pulling QUEEN NEPTUNIA with the other. The page should play like it could be part of the untold story, "The Under Sea Peril" referenced on page 16 of issue 4.

DUKE: Come on, Highness. They're gaining.

NEPTUNIA: I can't believe the Charybdis turned on me.

2/ New angle we see four Charybdis in hot pursuit, but Duke and the Queen have stopped swimming and Duke has pulled his sword out.

DUKE: They are too fast. Time to make a stand.

NEPTUNIA: I can't believe you are willing to protect me after I took your prisoner.

3/ Duke launches himself at the foursome of Charybdis.

DUKE: What can I say? I'm a swell guy.

4/ Close up of Neptunia.  She has a look of awe on her face.

NO DIALOGUE

5/ Duke swimming back toward Neptunia. Random severed body parts of the Charybdis are floating by.

DUKE: We are safe for now but more are coming.

NEPTUNIA: If we make it out of here alive, perhaps you and I --

6/ Close up of Duke with an aw shucks look on his face.

DUKE: Sorry Queen Neptunia, I'm a landlubber. The sea ain't for me.

Page Two

1/ DUKE is riding a red dragon like the one on page 13 of issue 1. Also riding the dragon is an eagle-woman. She looks human save her yellow eyes with vertical slit pupils and a pair of wings growing out from her shoulder blades. One of her wings is singed and broken. Her name is TALEN and she is clinging to Duke who is firing his blaster pistol into the distance. The page plays like it could come from an tale that might be called "The Scourge of the Sky Pirates."

TALEN: You're going to get us killed.

DUKE: They're gonna kill us, I'm trying to save us.

2/ Cut to a new angle we see two Sky Pirates using jet packs.  The lead pirate is shooting the dragon's head.

TALEN: What do we do now?!

DUKE: Wait here, Talen.

3/ Duke leaps off the dead, falling dragon at one of the sky pirates tackling him in mid air.

TALEN: Wait here?!

4/ Close up of TALEN, she has a look of shock on her face.

NO DIALOGUE

5/ Duke flying back toward Talen wearing the first sky pirate's jet pack. He is holding the other's in his hand.

DUKE: Here, get this on.  The ground is coming up quick.

TALEN: If we survive this, perhaps we could --

6/ Close up of Duke with a polite look on his face.

DUKE: Sorry ma'am, I like the ground under my feet. The sky is too high for me.

Page Three

1/ DUKE and ATTALA are surrounded by Ice Apes in a snow covered pass near the foot of a mountain. He is stabbing one ape with a sword while she is shooting one with a blaster pistol. The page should play like it could be part of the untold story, "The Ice-Apes" referenced on page 16 of issue 4.

DUKE: I see Princess Neve over there.

ATTALA: You'll never make it. There are too many.

2/ New angle.  We see the white haired, blue skinned Princess Neve in the clutches of an Ice-Ape.

DUKE (from off panel or in a caption): I have to try.

3/ Duke jumps onto the Ice Ape holding Neve.

NO DIALOGUE

4/ Close up of Attala.  She has a look of fear on her face.

NO DIALOGUE

5/ Duke walking Neve back toward Attala. Dead Ice-Apes littering the snowscape.

DUKE: We are safe for now but I'm sure more are coming, Princess.

NEVE: If we make it back to the ice castle alive, perhaps you could stay with --

6/ Close up of Duke with a sad look on his face.

DUKE: Sorry, Highness, I only like my beer cold. Your kingdom is lovely, but too frosty for me.

Page Four

1/ DUKE is in a jungle and has is sword out hacking at the plant monsters. He is being aided Attala and Princess Typhona, daughter of the evil Typhon. The page should play like it could be part of the untold story, "The Plant Monsters" also referenced on page 16 of issue 4.

DUKE: Keep swinging, ladies. We just have to hold out until --

2/ Cut to new angle revealing Duke's spaceship hovering above them.  The door is open and a rope ladder is hanging from it. In the door is Prince Bauhm.

BAUHM: Hold them off, McQueen. Ladies, start climbing.

3/ Attala and Typhona climbing the ladder. With Duke fighting off the Plant Monsters while Bauhm shoots at some of the plant monsters from the hatch of the ship.

DUKE: What took you so long, Bauhm?

BAUHM: Couldn't find the keys to your ship, McQueen.

4/ Close up of Typhona she looks down and has a look of admiration on her face.

ATTALA (from off panel): Forget it Typhona --

5/ Pull back to show both, Typhona is looking up at Attala.

ATTALA (continuing): -- If he makes it out of here alive, someone will offer.  They always do, but he will decline.

TYPHONA: Does he not like girls?

6/ Close up of Attala looking sad.

ATTALA: Sorry, Typhona. It breaks my heart but he's not of this world. He won't find love here. I've tried.

Page Five

1/ Single panel splash page with title and credits. The night sky as it appears in an over Duke's shoulder angle. One star burns brighter than the others. Duke is holding up a photo of Joanne. It's weathered and looking ragged but you can still make her out.

DUKE: Sorry, sweetheart. I've been gone too long. This world is amazing, but it's not home without you.

The story title "Soul Mate" is written in a soft loving font as we end.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Star Trek: Course Corrections Round-Up

Here are the links to my unpublished Star Trek prose short story:

Part 1Parts 2 & 3,  Part 4,  Part 5 Part 6, Parts 7 & 8, Part 9, and Part 10.

I think I nailed the voices of the characters, but I can see why they didn't pick it up.  My original story was pretty much as Chekov describes it in part four, but it seemed generic and familiar. It was probably more marketable but I decided to do a "hang out" piece that emphasized character and continuity. It's really a love letter to the characters (especially McCoy). If you are a fan of this crew, I hope you enjoy it, because it's for you.