Monday, January 30, 2006

24 Day 5, Hour 6 -- Spoilers?

I figure this might happen tonight. Maybe.
(This is what Jack Bauer might sound like if Warren Ellis was on the writing staff).

So what exatly is Cummings' plan, anyway? It seems like he's gone to extraordinary lengths to involve Jack in every step along the way. I must say that if I was the shadowy villain behind the scenes, I would do everything in my power NOT to involve the one man who could stop me.

Cummings was trying to frame him, I guess, and it's possible he didn't notice last year that Jack always pees in Death's eye while givin' the ol' Vic Mackey love to the bad-guy's head, rising from the ashes and mentioning how he never thought a guy like him could get a second chance.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Why Comics Are Better Than Politics

Here's Joe Quesada, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, from his weekly Q&A on Newsarama:

By the way, this brings up a very important thing. I often hear fans complain that four years ago I said something and it looks like with a certain decision - whatever it is - I went against what I said four years ago, three years ago, six years ago ... whatever. Here’s what I don’t understand...
Why don’t I have the right to change my mind?

Why don’t I have the right to grow with my job, to learn from it and the people I work with?
Of course I enter my position here as Editor-in-Chief with my own set of ideas and goals and for the most part I stick to them because they’re global and they involve on core ideal, which is to bring the fans the best books possible to the best of our god-given abilities.

Now that said, and outside of that, why can’t I change my mind or my point of view as long as it’s towards getting to that core ideal? I don’t run editorial with an iron hand. Before we make big decisions, I always take in everyone’s opinions and sometimes the right argument will change my mind and in some cases my core beliefs about comics.

But isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? Aren’t we supposed to grow in life and in our careers? I’m all for one sticking to what they believe in but if they do that at the expense of never hearing another point of view, then they’re on the road to ruin.

I don’t surround myself with “Yes Men,” and never intend to for just that reason. So, sorry for the aside, but it always blows me away when I see people freak out because I’ve changed my mind on something. I’m not an elected official folks. I didn’t get my job by promising a bunch of things. I’m a businessman and a creator. If I don’t have the ability to change my mind, if I don’t have the ability to be open to different points of view, then I can’t do this job properly. And more importantly, I wouldn’t be doing this weekly Q&A and I wouldn’t be reading and answering my emails.

Quesada for President!

In creative circles, honest feedback is critical, and generally valued -- how else can one improve their craft? Can't help but wonder what a flexible, creative approach in the political sphere rather than the current Without a Doubt program might achieve. (Possibly haunted houses for criminals to scare them straight).

Friday, January 27, 2006

"Blow it out your nose, author-boy."

Do characters really write themselves? The kids in Elf-Help seem to have a life of their own, and there are characters scattered throughout my short stories that fit the bill. With others it's more of a negotiation: "All right, do this one thing I need you to do in order to advance the plot, and I'll let you mock the protagonist for two pages."

Consider this impromptu flash piece by author John Hocking:

Blargh the Inconsequential hefted his battle ax and snorted heartily as he thought ahead to the battle in which he would shortly partake."

Arrgh," quoth he, "the Gerberainians will shortly feel the sting of my mighty ax!"His mighty-thewed body hummed with battle-readiness, for it is the way of the warriors of Gooberainia to ever yearn for the bright face of danger!

Suddenly he....

"What in nine purple hells are you nattering on about?"

Uh...Suddenly he...

"Enough of this nonsense! This is surely the weakest example of third person omniscient I've had forced upon me since Kilgore Trout wrote those pastiches about the Kangaroo Phantoms. Enough!"

Uh. Suddenly Blargh felt unsteady, as if his will was failing, trapped by the wiles of some mighty sorcerer!

"The hell you say! And what's with all the sentences beginning with 'suddenly'? Come to think of it, how the hell does one 'snort heartily' as you bade me do in the first sentence?"

Unconsciousness swept over Blargh in a black curtain of oblivion and he fell to the earth senseless!

"Blow it out your nose, author-boy. Your prose is worse than your plotting. And the good parts aren't even original. Don't think I didn't notice the 'bright face of danger' swipe from Max Brand."

Blargh's face went pale as a crossbow quarrel swept out of nowhere and transfixed his heart!

"Nice try, adipose one, but you should recall that a death threat made to a Gooberainian is always repaid sevenfold. Eat steel, pulp hack!


I shook back my mane, flexed my massive thews and wrenched my blade from the pathetically narrow skull of my foe. Triumphant yet again, I returned to my sprawling palace, where rich wine, thick steaks and lissome, willing dancing girls awaited me.

Check out Flashing Swords for more of John's fiction.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Elf Help 12

Vote. Discuss. Read. PSP. Press Release.
Previous/ First

Monday, January 23, 2006

24: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

"I'm not CTU."
Wow, another great episode tonight! The only thing is, I kind of miss Jack's magic duffel bag from the first four episodes. That was a great bag! It was packed with guns and grenades, of course, but that cool little pirate-nouveau spyglass was the best. Good news, though: I saw the glass in the preview for next week!

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Elf-Help 12 teaser quiz

If you've read episode 11, you know that things are heating up!

What will episode 12 (coming this Thursday) reveal?

A). The boys finally get "help" from the elf.
B). They discover they've stepped into the middle of an Amazon Kobold Marauder orgy!
C). Things take a very turn...

Find out this Thursday! (Wednesday for folks with AOL).

Vote Elf-Help. Discuss Elf-Help. Read Elf-Help.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Too Much Choice

I went to the MR. SUB the other day, after not having gone in quite awhile, and was dismayed to see they've adopted the SUBWAY infinite choice model. I ordered a pizza sub, and they asked me what I wanted on it. Frankly, that's not a decision I'm qualified to make -- I'm not a "sandwhich artist."

I asked them to make it the way they used to before the choice revolution, but they wouldn't go for it. The stuff I ended up choosing was really wrong. I was pretty sure about excluding the hot peppers, but beyond that, I had no idea: the content of the pizza sub is something I was content to leave mysterious, and never really boned-up on.

If there is ever a next time, I'm going to try just cheese and green peppers (in addition to the standard meats and pizza sauce). I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Elf-Help 11

Things are heating up!

Vote Elf-Help!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

No School like the Old School

Alan Gallo

Richard Nelson

Here's five pages from Old School, the story that takes the world's first superheroes (now in their 80s and 90s -- except for Strong Arm, the team's young buck, who is only 69) and pits them against the next phase in human evolution.

Which will prevail -- Mutants, or Metamucil? Mind powers, or good ol' fashioned elbow grease?

Check out these pages and let me know how they read.

Related posts: Superheroes, Comics

Friday, January 13, 2006

Vote Elf-Help!

Elf-Help is spreading like, uh... helper elves!

Make sure to vote for it every day at by clicking the link above. If it gets enough votes it'll become, like, the president of webcomics or something.

Then visit the good folks at and to add Elf-Help to your favorites list.

Related posts: Elf-Help 1 -- anatomy of a page, Elf-Help Press Release, Elf-Help episode 2 teaser, Read Elf-Help on your PSP!, Elf-Help Episode 3 Question

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Elf-Help episode 10

Up now at komikwerks.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Elf-Help 1 -- anatomy of a page

Elf-Help is the first comic I've ever had drawn by a professional artist. Luckily for me, Elf-Help artist Martin Morazzo is thoughtful, ultra-talented, and even a mind-reader of sorts. Here's page one of the script I sent him, and what he came up with:

Page One
1/ Splash, with credits and title: “Elf-Help.”

Looking down on a low cliff overlooking a harbour. A Viking-style longboat is in the water. A very long pole juts from just before the ship’s bow, topped by a carved monster (the ship’s ‘watchman’).

Three kids lounge on the cliff but we are too far away to make out definitive details. There is quite a bit of dialogue here, but we have most of the page to play with.

Mar: You ever seen elf boobs, Coby?

Coby: Uhh…

Gerd: You haven’t either, Mar.
Mar: How would you know, Gerd?
Gerd: I’d never let you see me naked.

Mar: Well that’s good, since you’re like, twelve --
Gerd: I’m fourteen -- same as you and Coby!
Mar: But how old are you in dog years?

Inset Panel (bottom right): Move in closer on the kids, who are lying near the edge of the cliff (Gerd, Coby, then Mar). We see that Coby is a kobold (dog-boy) and Mar is chubby with light hair.

Coby: What does that matter?
Mar: I assume it’s Gerd’s counting method of choice since she’s always being such a bi --

Despite the clunkiness of the script (what was I thinking with the "long pole" on the ship?), Martin drew the page almost exactly the way I had envisioned it in my head -- better, in fact, since he simplified some of the more awkward bits (like the long pole).

I was quite astonished when I saw that first page -- we were so in synch, it was like he had read my mind. Looking back, I suppose some of the similarity between the page as I envisioned it, and the page as Martin drew it, are the natural results of both of us understanding how a comic page is read, and how to guide the reader's eye. (Like prose, western comics are read from left to right, and from top to bottom, with particular importance given to the bottom right hand corner).

My hope on this first page was to draw the reader into the story -- literally. The eye moves across the title, then onto the ship entering the harbor. Is it a friendly ship from the village? Strangers bringing news? Amazon Kobold Marauders? -- the idea is to introduce a little mystery and tension. Martin seemed to grasp this intuitively, and the ship he designed is absolutely perfect for the purposes of our story (so good, in fact, that the image of the ship in the harbor will become very important in future chapters).

The way the ship enters the page from the top right (which I didn't specify in the script, but which Martin sensed should be the case) leads the eye down the pier (a nice addition on Martin's part), right to the dialogue balloons, which then pull you to the bottom right corner, where we meet our main characters. As an insentive to turn the page (Elf-Help was originally intended as a 16-page b&w print comic), I built in a cliffhanger where it seems like Mar is going to call Gerd a bad name.

As much as Martin did with the layout, the real magic is in what he brings to the characters themselves (more on that later).

To see page one in its final form, head over to komikwers.

Monday, January 09, 2006

SuperManny 4

previous comic/first comic

You'll probably have to click the picture to see it at a large enough size to read.

__* * *

Looks like Sin City and Men in Black II star Rosario Dawson is part of a new comic about a covert police unit that investigates occult crimes. This sounds like fabulous news to me, yet lots of folks on the newsarama thread seem to have a problem with it. A covert unit that investigates the occult is hardly a new concept, especially in comics where we have Mignola's Hellboy-universe B.P.R.D. going strong, but I imagine Dawson's name will draw a few new-comers to the medium, and they are unlikely to find the idea old and boring.

Anyway, almost any new comic is good news to me -- and if it involves a talented (and gorgeous) movie-star, then so much the better!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Dead God's Puppet Show

My tale, "The Dead God's Puppet Show", is up now at Flashing Swords -- but don't read it (at least not yet). First you're going to want to revel in the absolute genious of Nancy Virginia Varian's "Tal's Tale"; her stories beat with the heart of the old Norse myths, and she is one of the authors who inspired me to try my hand at writing sword & sorcery stories in the first place.

After you've checked out the other pulse-pounding , and you're ready for a little SS&S (Silly Swords & Sorcery), head on over to "The Dead God's Puppet Show." Jengao (the city where the Jack Nimble & the Platypus stories take place), is on the opposite side of the continent from the wizard coast, where my takes place.

Welcome to the Pure Lands -- I hope you enjoy your stay.

Related posts: Dead God Living, Dead God's Prologue, Sword with your Sorcery?, Garluss, Elf-Help Press Release

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Friday, January 06, 2006

SuperManny 3

previous first

Thursday, January 05, 2006


This is a micro-story to set the tone for the second part of the dead god trilogy, "The Dead God's Puppet-Show", up soon at Flashing Swords. Part one, "The Dead God's Destiny", is here; there is also a .

Lol cursed and tightened the wool scarf around his neck. He could hear the rush of the river Prescience behind the squat wooden buildings to his left, and suspected that the river had sucked the last few degrees of heat from the already bitter night. His pipe did little to warm him, but he puffed it again and watched the fragile tendrils of smoke drift toward the towering Jengao skyline.

“Where is he?” he asked, kicking at a piece of driftwood that had somehow made it so far from shore.

“Patience, Agrag,” said Spatterbrood, stepping from the shadows. As always his face was a bland mask, except for the slightly mocking grin. The eyes were black and lifeless. “He is your man, after all.”

Lol nodded. “The most hopeless cur I could find. Still, if he is questioned--” Spatterbrood sucked loudly through his teeth and glanced upward. Lol caught a shadow on one of the nearby roofs and relaxed immediately. “Good idea,” he said, “though there could still be trouble when they investigate his death--”

Spatterbrood sighed, a clearly disappointed sound. “You must stop thinking like a thief, Agrag. You’re the head of the Fourth Family now.”

Lol nodded, drawing strength from the words, and sighed when Garluss came into view. “Do you have it?” Lol demanded when the thief came near.

“Yes, Master,” said Garluss, frowning at Lol’s tone.

“Then give it to me and begone,” said Lol.

Garluss gave his head an all but imperceptible shake, but fished around in his pocket anyway. Gemlettes glittered in the light of the waning moon. “Full guild privileges,” the cur said, holding the bracelet out of reach. “That’s what you promised.”

Lol snatched the bracelet from his hand. “You’ll get what you deserve,” Lol said, and the lesser thief’s eyes went wide as he took Lol’s meaning. The man’s face was an open book: no wonder he couldn’t cut it as a thief.

Garluss glanced furtively at Spatterbrood, fearing he might attack, then let resolve wash over his face. Clearly, he intended to alert the authorities.

“Begone!” Lol yelled, and had to suppress a laugh as the little man broke into an ungainly trot. He ran like a dog. A poorly bred dog.

“That,” said Spatterbrood, stepping forward once more, “was unwise.”

“Why?” Lol demanded, turning to face the smaller man. Spatterbrood’s advice had grown quickly tiring. The cold eyes stared for a measure, and Lol swallowed. “What can I improve, for next time?” he asked.

“Next time?” Spatterbrood repeated. “Next time save your ignorant bullying for your whore of a wife. If Garluss should escape, he could cause many problems for us. Play along, next time, until everything is certain.”

Lol had never been addressed in such a fashion before, but staring into Spatterbrood’s dead eyes buried his wrath. The man seemed a mere puppet: paper skin and bird bone, but the sight of him without his perpetual grin put the fear of death into Lol.

Lol nodded and turned away, focusing on the sound of the river and considering the secrets it contained. He shivered again, then wrapped his scarf even tighter.

__* * *

Garluss scuffed the toe of his shoe on the road and stumbled forward, such was his haste. He would find the nearest magistrate and tell him everything. His standing in the guild was minimal, and he felt no loyalty to Agrag Lol, its Middle Master. He’d have to leave Jengao of course, but that hardly mattered. Maybe he’d head out to the wizard coast. He loved water, and had always wanted to become a sailor. It was his mother who insisted he stay respectable and join a guild.

Garluss stopped. A shape approached through moonglow river mist. The shape of a goddess. Wild hair struck out at every angle atop a slender, perfectly curved silhouette. Moonlight danced along delicate features, revealing a sweetly pointed brow and the top of a black eye-mask. Garluss’ heart skipped a beat. It was the Medusa.
Steel glinted and he heard a popping sound as the knife punctured his chest. Blood poured over him, providing a momentary respite from the cold. He crumpled to the path and watched her walk away on the ceiling. I’m upside down, he thought. Steam rose. Steam from his perforated chest.

Thinking to write his killer’s name in blood, Garluss struggled to his side, but his thoughts grew sluggish. The feet returned and he felt himself pushed off the path and over sharp rocks until coolness took him.

The river, he thought thankfully, and surrendered his will to it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Welcome to Elf-Help episode 9

And check out Elf-Help episode 9 at komikwerks.

SuperManny 2

Just one lonely panel for today. I'm trying to figure out how broad to go with SuperManny: today's comic is, I think, something most people can relate to, but I don't know if there's enough to it that it actually achieves the level of funny.

I used lower-case letters today, to see how they look. I should probably do the lettering on the computer, but I'd really like to develop a style that will allow me to do each comic with just a pen and paper.

More SuperManny on Friday.

previous comic _next comic

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


I figure Elf-Help is one of the best looking comics on the net, so here's something that... isn't. I've been meaning to start drawing again for a little while and, given my current mood, I thought I'd try a humor/everyday life strip about a little boy who thinks he has super powers and jumps off the roof. Here is my first, primitive attempt to set the stage (you probably have to click the image to make it big enough to read):

next comic

I figure I'll do twenty strips in test-run mode, to make sure there's enough juice in the idea to support an ongoing thing. (It'll probably take me about that many strips to learn the craft, hone a style, and settle on final character designs, anyway). If I can get twenty strips out on a regular basis -- updates Mondays and Fridays at least (hopefully Wednesdays, too) -- I'll take it to the next level and get a domain name and a proper webcomics platform.

For now, it'll just be on this blog. Check back tomorrow when you'll learn whether or not I could manage a second strip. Comments and critiques welcome.

a SUPER 2006!

For 2006 (these early days of it, anyway), I seem to have superheroes on the brain. I worked hard last year bringing a few ideas for super characters to life, and now I'm knee-deep in the process of putting packages together for comic publishers to look at. All three of my super projects have been penciled and are currently being inked (after that, we'll add lettering and the colours). Here's a quick overview and preview image of each project:

Twilight Precinct: Penciled by the super-talented Federico Zumel, Twilight Precinct is about the band of grey between absolutes. Escalus City has been divided into halves, one side run by the superheroes, the other by the villains. The setting is rich and complex, but the central concept couldn't be simpler: a macho anti-hero who beats up the bad-guys. Also, he has a tail. Because there just aren't enough superheroes with cool tails.

If guys like Neil Armstrong, William Shatner, Stan Lee, and Clint Eastwood are still kicking tail well into their 70s and beyond, how would superheroes -- the first superheroes, birthed in the 30s and 40s -- have aged if they really existed?

Old School, drawn by Planetfall artist-extraordinaire Alan Gallo, catches up with five of these golden age heroes and pits them against the next evolution of the human species.

These aren't your father's superheroes... they're your grandpa's!

Last (but in no way least) is single mother Sherry Benning, a.k.a. The Matriarch. The best heroes are torn between the needs of their personal lives and the duties of their heroic alter egos. How much more intense, I wondered, would this tension be if the personal responsibilities were to a child instead of a super-model girlfriend or playboy lifestyle. (The rest pretty much wrote itself).

This one is brought to life by wizz-kid Steven Yarbrough. (And yes, he drew her kicking ass while talking on her cell-phone).

Anyway, I'll keep you updated on their progress on the condition that you pick the books up when they're actually published. Deal? _:)

You can check out some of my other submission projects here.

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Elf-Help 9 teaser

What is the horrible secret harbored by the Elvish Embassy in Trelland?

Find out this Thursday in Elf-Help episode 9!