Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Urbis Faerie

Urbis Faerie, is up at view it, vote for it, love it! Zuda is a monthly competition, and the comic with the most votes wins a contract with DC Comics for a full year's worth of stories. Check it out and, if you like what you see, vote for it.

Some people shine with a special light (while others seem naturally inclined to scowl and scurry from that light). In the world of Urbis Faerie, all human beings are the direct descendants of various fantasy races, so that beautiful girl with the long blonde hair and glittering eyes may actually be an elf… or a fairy.

Urbis Faerie is a town founded as a haven for those in whom the old bloodlines run strong; a fresh start away from the old feuds and the tyranny of the Masters. Lauren hasn’t been in town long, but she’s fallen in love with her life here. When she receives a summons from her parents via their terrifying henchman, Mr. Hound, Lauren has to decide whether to leave Urbis Faerie and those she just might love, or risk the destruction of the town itself at the hands of her parents. But people are changing –- becoming more like their fantastic ancestors –- and unravelling the riddle of just who is descended from what will allow Lauren to stop the town from destroying itself… but only if she sticks around long enough to figure it all out!

This is from Robert Burke Richardson, Martin Morazzo, Carolina Cesare, and Robt L. Snyder, the team behind Elf-Help (now free at!)

Tags: comics, webcomics, DC, Zuda,, Nietzsche, romance

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Urbis Faerie: the interview

Yep. Over at knave of krypton.

Urbis Faerie

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Urbis Faerie Character Profiles: Lucas

Lucas: Hair Where There Wasn't Hair Before!

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Friday, January 11, 2008

A Woman Called Lauren

(Vote for Urbis Faerie at Zuda!)

Towards the end of 2004 I started writing a short story I'd had no prior intention of writing. I was a strict 1000-words-a-day guy in those days, and wrote exclusively in a safe, slightly distant third person past tense voice -- always after at least a couple of days of careful planning. And then one day, when I'd already completed my daily 1000 word quota, I suddenly typed these words:
The ad sounded perfect:

Walk to the train station. Outdoor swimming-pool on site.

Lauren called on her lunch break and signed the
lease by fax when she was able to talk the landlord down to $300 a month.
The furnishing, she discovered later, was tasteful, and even a bit on the
expensive side: pine floors, mahogany table, and a red/blue/orange
loveseat that actually looked cool despite being plaid. The issues were a
tiny but perfectly proportioned couple who lived in the wall behind the bedroom,
but at $300 a month, and with the word issues included in the ad, Lauren had
expected something to be a little off about the whole thing...

Nothing all that Earth-shattering, but it seemed very strange to me at the time. The story ended up about 2,500 words, and I considered it something I'd written only for myself, and didn't expect I'd be able to interest a publisher in it. To my further surprise it found a home in the first market I sent it to: On Spec, the Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic. (In issue #62; order it here. I'll post the story to this blog if there's any interest.)

This signaled a shift in my prose writing that is till in effect more than three years later. It also introduced me to a character named Lauren whom I -- at least consciously -- did not create. She's some sort of dark horse of my subconscious mind.

The Coming Years of Good is the story of a young woman finding herself, and becoming comfortable in her own skin. Later I would take that same character and drop her whole (but without the continuity of the short story) into a comic called Urbis Faerie, which is in this month's competition at (vote for it! You MUST!!).

From the outside looking in, these must seem the most mundane of personal revelations, but I've always been a bit dense when it comes to seeing myself in my own work. I only realized a few days ago that The Coming Years of Good was really the story of me finally getting comfortable with being a writer -- finding my true calling and recognizing it, if you'll allow me to get a little dramatic. Urbis Faerie picks up the character in the exact same state, emotionally -- finally having found herself by moving to this strange little town.

The first panel establishes just exactly the mood I was looking for. Like my character Nikki, I'm a fan of '90's TV shows, especially the ones that emphasized a sense of place. The Urbis Faerie sign is reminiscent of the "Welcome to Twin Peaks" sign from the show, and Lauren lives just outside of town and has to walk in every morning, like Doctor Fleischman in Northern Exposure. Lauren also shares an appellation with Lauren Graham of the Gilmore Girls (not a 90's show, but one with a strong sense of place nonetheless).

Colourist Robt Snyder did something I really liked with the rays of sun, which to me suggests a connection between the Earth and the Heavens, which resonates with the fact that humans in the world of Urbis Faerie are descended from mythological creatures like elves and leprechauns and ancient cat-warriors -- imperfect instances of eternal ideals.

At the heart of Urbis Faerie is the idea of finding your place -- your bliss, as Joseph Campbell might say -- and the threat of having it taken away from you. The threat is only hinted at in the 8 pages on display at Zuda (Lauren will need to unravel some Nietzchean philosophy in order to have any chance at preserving her happiness).

To me -- and this is a completely personal definition, not suggested as any sort of academic standard -- Urbis Faerie is female fiction. I've always been dismissive of notions of shojo vs. shonen stories -- the idea that stories could be primarily for one sex or another strikes me as silly (then again, I've never been able to read more than a sentence of a Harlequin romance).

Female fiction, when I write it, comes from somewhere I don't quite no where. Maybe it's really just a conscious/unconscious distinction (I'm reading From Hell right now), but those inscrutable characters never seem to be male in my fiction. My male characters are all aspects of myself, placed in situations that (hopefully) bring them to life. A lot of my female characters work this way, too (single-mother superhero the Matriarch, for instance), but others just appear unplanned, with lists of strange demands (like Lauren, or Gerd in Elf-Help).

Female-oriented fiction supposedly stresses character over plot, and relationships over action. In its Zuda form, I suppose Urbis Faerie could be said to fit that bill. (As a corollary -- it's been suggested that only plot-centric Zuda entries have a shot at winning the top slot -- does that make Zuda (or rather the voting aspect of it) male-biased?)

In actual practice, female readers appreciate action as much as male readers, and male readers appreciate well-drawn characters and interesting relationships, too. If there truly is a difference between "male" and "female" fiction, then that difference would be dangerous to ignore, but it seems to me that transcending these generally outdated would simply serve to make stories better.

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Urbis Faerie Character Profiles: Chris

(Vote for Urbis Faerie @!)

When you’re fated to be the bad guy, what kind of life can you hope to lead?

Chris’s father rejected the proud traditions of his people, and Chris doesn’t want to end up a snivelling coward like his dad… but embracing the savagery of his line would mean jail or worse in this modern age. Is Chris bad because of his ancestry, or because he’s just a jerk? Does he excel at football because of the violence… or is he really a team-player at heart? Does he even actually think about any of these issues, or are we just projecting?

Chris is with Nikki right now, but he wants to be with the new girl, Ariel. And Nikki. Preferably at the same time.

Fun Facts about Chris:

Favourite Tea: Beer.
Hates: That dorky reverend, Cat.
Year Book Quote: “FREE PORN!!!”

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Urbis Faerie Character Profiles: Theodora

(Vote for Urbis Faerie at!)

The last time a woman from Theodora’s bloodline fell in love, fourteen thousand people died.

Theodora turned seventeen last month…

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Urbis Faerie Character Profiles: Mister O

(Vote for Urbis Faerie at!)

He’s small. He’s Irish. He loves Lucky Charms. Can you guess what race of mythological creatures Mister O’Shannon’s descended from?

If I had to guess, I’d say… werewolf. Or maybe some type of spider-thing.

Mister O’ has walked the Earth a long time, and no one seems to know just how old he really is. He traveled the world – twice – before settling in Urbis Faerie, and has a vast knowledge of both teas, and eastern philosophy. His diner, “O’Shannon’s,” is the spiritual center of the town. The Portuguese egg tarts come highly recommended.

Fun Facts About Mr. O:

Interests: Shelley Paley
Activities: Shelley Paley
Secret Hobbies: Shelley Paley
Biggest Crush: Noelia

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Urbis Faerie Character Profiles: Nikki

Vote for Urbis Faerie at!

Born in 1992, Nikki was eight years old when what she considers the greatest decade in the history of the world came to a close. Do you think she understood the full impact of the death of Kurt Cobain in ’94 when she was only two? The Beatles Anthology in ’96 when she was four? The visionary genius of Captain Sisko meeting the Prophets in the Celestial Temple on Deep Space Nine?

Twin Peaks was OVER before Nikki was even CONCEIVED!!!

Nikki is mad at the world for letting her be born so late, and often takes her frustration out on Lucas, whose outward brooding most mirrors her own inner turmoil. On particularly boring mornings Nikki has been known to gaze out over her sleepy home town of Urbis Faerie saying, “Here we are now. Entertain us.”

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Nietzsche on Zuda

An interview with Friedrich Nietzsche (brought to you by Urbis Faerie)

RBR: Thank you so much for being here, Mr. Nietzsche. In all honesty, I was a little surprised when you accepted my request to interview you on this topic. I had no idea you were so passionate about comics.

Nietzsche: Oh, I love comics. (Or Graphic Novels -- I call them Graphic Novels so I won't lose my bookstore cred.) Remember, I invented Superman.

RBR: You invented Superman? But I thought --

Nietzsche: Jerry and Joe made some tweaks, to be sure. But it's clearly my concept of the Ubermensch. All the super hero books are based on my ideas.

And all the other books, too.

RBR: I see…

What do you make of something like Urbis Faerie, which deliberately misreads your study in On the Genealogy of Morals on the origin and historical development of the words we use to refer to the concepts of "good," "bad," and "evil," to posit an ancient and sinister group called The Masters who dominated the various mythological creatures modern humans eventually evolved from?

Nietzsche: It's all good as long as the characters talk about me a lot.

RBR: And the concept of Zuda itself? What do you think of the idea of handing over such a significant chunk of the editorial control to the masses?

Nietzsche: Well, they've basically killed God -- or the God's-eye-view, or the concept of a single, right and true perspective -- haven't they? They've obliterated the foundations of objective truth, and banished clarity forever; never again will we have more than a screaming plurality of voices.

All of which means I approve wholeheartedly, of course.

RBR: Of course. So... why aren't you dead?

Nietzsche: The zombie craze, my friend. We're all here now. I had lunch with Zombie Shakespeare this afternoon.

RBR: So, can I count on your vote for Urbis Faerie?

Nietzsche: Beware the desire to rule --

I have found strength where one does not look for it: in simple, mild, and pleasant people, without the least desire to rule—and, conversely, the desire to rule has often appeared to me a sign of inward weakness: they fear their own slave soul and shroud it in a royal cloak (in the end, they still become the slaves of their followers, their fame, etc.) The powerful natures dominate, it is a necessity, they need not lift one finger. Even if, during their lifetime, they bury themselves in a garden house!

RBR: Uh, all right then. Maybe it's better if you don't vote for me...

tags: zuda, interview, dc, comics, webcomics, philosophy, zombies

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

"Au Plaisir --

-- tocard!"

Got a copy of a French comics magazine called Strange in the mail today. Here's me looking at it:

It contains six pages of an adventure serial I'm writing called Venturesome Motes with art by Chris Malgrain, Pierre Minne, Reed Man, and Virginie Blancher (translated by Jean Depelley), as well as a hefty helping of Jack Kirby characters, dinosaurs, and even some Myth of 8-Opus courtesy of Tom Scioli. The French make nice looking books, so getting this makes a great beginning to the new year.

(Click the image to enlarge it... tocard!)

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