This blog is moving out.
http://highway-62.com/wp is the new address. Don't come to this one anymore. I'm trying to get stuff to redirect automagically, but that may take some time yet.
Archives won't be here long, either.
http://highway-62.com/wp is the new address. Don't come to this one anymore. I'm trying to get stuff to redirect automagically, but that may take some time yet.
Archives won't be here long, either.
So I'm looking at a number of changes for this place. That being the blog in particular and my online presence in general. Nothing particularly drastic.
Unless you count migrating to a new blogging platform as drastic, that is. Will probably go from Moveable Type to WordPress, mostly because it looks like WordPress has a bigger selection of tools for managing content, and webcomic-based material in particular.
Of course that means a lot of work if all the internal links are going to work. And really, I'm wondering about how much effort ought to be expended on this sort of project or if I should just keep a handful of old posts and then nuke the site from orbit. How much of this old stuff is worth keeping and how much should be jettisoned? I wonder about that sometimes.
Back to shovelling papers around the office and trying to tear myself from random YouTube videos or finishing re-reading V.2 of ALL-STAR SUPERMAN.
Aw hell, too late. Here's some Talk Talk for your troubles.
Since Tom wasn't at Stumptown this weekend to get a Five Minute Story in person, I sent him one. He was kind enough to run it on The Comics Reporter for everyone to see exactly how little I can write in about five minutes. I guess it went okay. It seemed better in my head.
Writeup about Stumptown itself will follow sometime. Yes, I sold every salable copy of Murder Moon that I had. I even sold one that got munched in the luggage last year. I'm amazed, but then I'm also disappointed that my forecasting wasn't better. C'est la vie.
I be digging out. At least two short stories to finish before mid-week. Letter another cluster of STRANGEWAYS pages (really, two clusters, since my schedule will be wonky with Portland coming up.) Get ready for the Stumptown comics show. Figure out other stuff to perhaps merchandise (I'm thinking prints, but would need to arrange permissions to do that.)
At this point, I think the third STRANGEWAYS book will be a collection of shorts, including the mostly-completed story "Dry Heart." I think I may have come upon a cluster of workable artists, now I just need to figure out what they want to draw and what works in the world of STRANGEWAYS. The fourth book will be the one I'm writing currently, called THE STITCHER. I think it'll be a good idea to let the guys at Estudio Haus get a bit of a head start on it by having another crew work on a batch of shorts coterminously.
I don't get to use that word enough.
Remember, Portland in a week. That's right over here. It's usually a good show and I don't see a reason for this year to be any different.
The sanctum sanctorum of Highway 62 Press is revealed in this week's Shelf Porn at Robot 6. Thrill to the blurry spines! Cringe at the lens distortion! Marvel at the collection of old Fireside Books trades! It's all there, for just the price of a mouseclick!
Here's the form letter response to the question "What will you be doing at Wonder-Con, Matt?" I knew you were gonna ask sooner or later.
Greetings, folks. Matt Maxwell from Highway 62 Press (home of Strangeways) here. Just a quick head's up to let you know that I'll be at booth 1240 in the halls at Wonder-Con, starting when the doors open and closing the sucker out all three nights (though I might duck out for lunch at the sushi place or Henry's Hunan nearby).
I'll have copies of MURDER MOON (the first Strangeways OGN) for sale. If you ask nicely, I might even let you read up to the end of chapter two of THE THIRSTY (currently serialized at http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/strangeways on MWF), which would put you a few weeks ahead of the rest of the world. You might even catch me working on book three, tentatively titled THE STITCHER.
In addition, I'll be doing short story sketches to order. Hey, if artists can do it, so can I. Freebies will be suitably brief unless your ideas are inspiring. Longer pieces, you can haggle over a price. This whole thing is kind of an experiment. Your participation can make it an utter success or an abject failure.
Okay, that was a little heavy. But really, trying to offer something a little new.
Hope to see you there!
Highway 62 press
In addition to the above, I've been asked by a significantly larger blog than this one to write up my con experience. Which is kinda nice, since I usually do that sort of thing anyways, but it's kinda cool to have someone else ask for it.
Almost forgot to post this here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 23, 2008
HIGHWAY 62 PRESS AND BLOG@NEWSARAMA ANNOUNCE JOINT SYNDICATION FOR STRANGEWAYS: THE THIRSTY
Matthew Maxwell, creator and author of the Western-horror graphic novel STRANGEWAYS, today announced the serialization of the sequel, THE THIRSTY, at Blog @ Newsarama. The series will debut on Monday, Oct. 27, with new pages posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
"I'm very pleased to enjoy this opportunity," Maxwell said recently. "I talked to quite a few potential partners before deciding to serialize THE THIRSTY on Blog @ Newsarama," Maxwell said. "It isn't a typical webcomic, as it wasn't written with online publication in mind. So, I sought a different kind of partnership. Working with a comics news and commentary site as opposed to one known for syndicating webcomics seemed an intriguing and beneficial arrangement. It's my hope that many more readers who've never followed STRANGEWAYS will be introduced to the series now."
THE THIRSTY, follows ex-Union officer Seth Collins from the events of MURDER MOON as he drifts a little further west to a town called Cedar Creek, which is about to find itself under attack from people who are neither dead nor alive, but somewhere in-between. However, just as MURDER MOON was about a lot more than just cowboys and werewolves, THE THIRSTY is more than just cowboys and vampires. Those readers who liked the concept of "Lone," which was the backup feature for MURDER MOON, will eat up "Red Hands," which will serve a similar role in THE THIRSTY.
THE THIRSTY is illustrated by Gervasio and Jok, who drew the story "Lone" in MURDER MOON. Luis Guaragna also returns, although not in the main story, but instead in a backup feature. "It's great to continue my relationship with all of these artists," Maxwell said. "They understand what the stories need visually, which is a deceptively simple task, it seems."
Planned for a print publication in Spring of 2009, THE THIRSTY is the second STRANGEWAYS graphic novel, continuing to deliver a great western comic infused with horror. It is anticipated that the print version will again be published by Highway 62 Press. MURDER MOON, the first STRANGEWAYS book, is still available through Diamond Comics Distributors (JAN083670), Baker and Taylor Books, Amazon and Khepri.com.
Matt Maxwell is a comics writer and has been a comics commentator since 2003, which saw the publication of the first installment of FULL BLEED (then at Broken Frontier, now at Comics Waiting Room). He's also blogged at his own Highway 62 since 2004, and has written for Newsarama.com and Comicon Pulse. His first original graphic novel, STRANGEWAYS: MURDER MOON was published in early 2008. He is a lapsed animator, having forsaken the compelling lunacy of Southern California for life with his family in the Sierra Nevada Foothills.
Highway 62 Press
http://www.highway-62.com/Strangeways/ - MURDER MOON preview
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvqWqIjXhA4 - THE THIRSTY video
http://blog.newsarama.com/strangeways - STRANGEWAYS at Newsarama
I am currently:
1) Writing book 2 of Strangeways still. It's still titled "The Thirsty" with a backup feature called "Red Hands". The art on "The Thirsty" is being handled by Gervasio and Jok, who did "Lone" in volume 1. Luis Guaragna (no ñ) will be doing art on "Red Hands," and I'm really looking forward to it. It's set in a completely different time and place from the frontier in the 1860s. Having to write scattershot since I'm doing so many other things at the same time. Don't worry, it'll all get fixed in the lettering stage.
2) Trying to regain my sanity after five weeks of travel. Not working so good.
3) Working on interviews with a) a beloved horror blogger and b) a comics writer/artist who's done both the indiest of indies and the biggest of crossover-event tie-ins.
4) Contemplating how I can land an X-Box because the upcoming version of ROCK BAND for the Wii looks like it's going to be feature-crippled in a manner as to make it far less interesting.
5) Preparing to head to LA for the BEA show at the end of the week.
6) Still looking into webcomic publication for some projects. Feedback is appreciated. I'm not sure that going it totally alone makes the most sense, but it doesn't not not make sense, either.
7) Hoping that my daughter will lose the attitude problem by the time she turns 5, since she looks like this half the time:
8) Reading too much non-fiction and not enough fiction. And probably thinking far too much about the next project instead of just writing the damn thing. More on that one later, I suspect.
My initial disbursement of MURDER MOON has sold out at Stumptown. Even at this very moment, my highly-paid minions are racing back to uncover more copies from their hidden and well-guarded secure caches that I've strategically placed at various hotspots around the world.
Frankly, I'd have thought that what I carted in would have lasted the weekend, much less half of the first day. Guess it just goes to show that I'm as good at forecasting demand as Apple Computers was in the days of being run by Gil Armelio. Which is to say, not at all.
Never underestimate the drawing power of cowboys and/or werewolves. More later.
Like it says. MURDER MOON is now available on Amazon. It's also available at Khepri.com and has been for several weeks now.
Now I've got to see about fixing the accents and ñs in the author listing...
Me intereviewed by John Parkin of Blog@newsarama, and oh yes, some as-yet-unseen on the net pages as well. Give it a read, why don't you?
Reviews are a funny, funny thing. I've often been told that there's no usefulness in taking them on or taking the personally. And really, one of my own personal credos (reinforced by my time in design school, such as it was) has always been that you as a creator don't get to explain your art once it's out there. You don't get to tell people how to see the art.
Oh yes. I called my book art. I know that's going to ruffle some feathers, but so be it. Let the blogosphere erupt in outrage. Cry havoc and let slip the kittens of argumentativeness!
Remiss in taking this long to post a link to it, actually. Sorry, bout that, Vince.
As for never having gone clubbing with Vince, guilty as charged; just ain't my scene. I'm much more interested in a good tequila tasting, or perhaps a round of seven card stud, or better yet, five card draw. Shared cards kinda dilute the game for me.
But I'll totally cop to the being a righteous guy charge. Nolo contendre and all that jazz.
There's some good things about this review, like the fact that it even happened (certainly not run of the mill for first-time self-publisher type). But there's also some that I take exception to, maybe yea even strenuous exception to. Reprinting until they realize I've exceeded Fair Use...
Strangeways: Murder Moon Matthew Maxwell and Luis Guaragña. Highway 62 Press (highway-62.com), $13.95 paper (144p) ISBN 978-0-9796957-0-4
Seth Collins, a bitter Civil War veteran, is drawn to the small Western town of Silver Branch by a letter from his estranged sister. But as his coach approaches the town, it is attacked by a giant wolf that slaughters the other passengers, leaving only him and the driver, Webster, alive. When they reach the town, they learn that this is not the first time the mysterious wolf has struck. With the town on the verge of a panic or a riot, the sheriff is intent on maintaining peace, regardless of the price, and Webster, who has been acting strangely since he was bitten by the wolf, is the perfect scapegoat. This fusion of the classic werewolf story with the Old West injects what could be a played-out tale with novel texture. The stark black and white art accentuates the horror of the story, especially in the fierce, brutal drawings of the attacks. The deep shadows that saturate the story, however, make it sometimes difficult to tell one character from another. Though the plot turns are all predictable, the backdrop of a West still scarred by war and the gritty art makes this a thrilling addition to the werewolf genre. (Mar.)
This review by Ringwood Ragefucker Ken Lowery.
Ooo. I said a potty word.
Sean reviews STRANGEWAYS: MURDER MOON. It is not an unfair reivew; and his criticisms have solid ground beneath them.
I have other stuff to say about other things, but the time is not now. No time, no time.
So STRANGEWAYS: MURDER MOON is being printed. Things happen, and the schedule slips. Some of these things are my fault even. Right. First project, etc. I can roll with that.
The schedule slips such that I have to pay to have books air-shipped to me to arrive in time to take down to Los Angeles for the Wizard World show a couple of weeks ago. Price you gotta pay, right? And I'm just doing this to get the word out mostly; not a money-making proposition for me. So the books arrive on Thursday, in time for me to pack some into my stuff for the LA trip the following morning. Hooray.
I figure the rest of the books are going to be a week behind or more, given shipping. I know that they go to Diamond faster because Lebonfon has a regular truck to Diamond that runs on a set schedule. But for me, I figure that it's going to be a little while. I mean, that's a lot of books that I ordered, mostly to keep the unit cost to a manageable level, even if that means paying more up front. This is a decision that I'd want to rethink later, but too late now, as the die is cast and all that jazz.
So the books have to be driven down all the way from Quebec. I'm a patient guy.
Over at Beaucoup Kevin. Oh, and go check out the new Portishead track he's linked to, as well.
Thanks to all the folks who've been giving nods to STRANGEWAYS: MURDER MOON as a pick of the week for 3/19. Most of 'em without even my asking.
Tip of the hat to those who've done the same for me. It's appreciated.
Confirmed with Diamond. It's shipping this week. Thanks to Brian Hibbs and Jog for picking up on it, because I'd have been caught flat-footed otherwise.
Well, I'm still a little flat-footed, being that review copies are going to be hard-pressed to make it out before ship date, seeing that I JUST GOT THEM then had to fly to LA for the weekend. Any reviewers who are reading this and want one fast, get in touch with me and I'll get you a PDF at the very least. Still taking requests for interviews, too.
Jog is one of my favorite comic critics. I'd probably think that even if he had panned Strangeways back when it was slated to be a miniseries from Speakeasy. But he didn't. And since he saw fit to bring this back to the light of day, I don't mind linking back to it.
Pity about the bonus material he alludes to not seeing the light of day now (but for the Guy Davis pinup). Maybe in the turbo-deluxe hardcover edition...
The "emergency air-ship so I can have something to show at the convention" books just arrived. Some parts look better than I thought they would. Some look worse (I've a lot to learn about margin control, apparently.
Kinda wishing that I'd paid for the varnish hit on the front I was thinking about. Hindsight is 20-20 and all that.
Above is some wonderful Guy Davis art, this for the bookplate I've planned for STRANGEWAYS: MURDER MOON. The timing, however, hasn't worked out as I'd hoped. I'm putting it up for folks to look at, at the moment, but the final piece itself is still up in the air at the moment.
Intrigued? The book itself hits on March 26th, according to my best information (and I haven't heard different just yet). You can read the first chapter online right now (for those of you just tuning in.) Just click right here to get in on the action.
Rome did indeed burn. Due to changes on the proofs that I kept screwing up and a shift in the way Lebonfon ships copies out, STRANGEWAYS: MURDER MOON will not be printed in time for Wonder-Con. So much for the pre-sale at convention controversy I found myself embroiled in. Kinda anti-climactic, I know.
And without copies to have available at the show, my need for a table is obviated, so I won't be having one.
Oh yes, and pre-orders for STRANGEWAYS: MURDER MOON came in. They weren't as high as I wanted them to be, but my math tells me that I made Diamond's minimums. Hooray.
Minimal update for today. Other stuff on the plate.
AKA GIGO, AKA "Garbage in, Garbage out." Computers only do what you tell them to, not what you want them to. In this particular case, I really *wanted* a 1/8" inch bleed area on all my pages, and what I got was 1/16" of an inch. Which means my files got kicked back for looking like a lamer put 'em together. That's okay, it gave me a chance to fix a couple little things that slipped through.
Something always slips through when you're not giving it 100%. Moral: give it 100%, slacker.
So here I sit hoping that the corrections I made end up in their FTP server before they've run the proof that they FedEx down to me. I know, it's their money to FedEx stuff, but I don't need to go out of my way to make things worse for them, now do I? My sudden victory of anal-retentivity over "get it done now"-ness shouldn't cost them another overnight package, right? Not to mention the fact that screwing around with proofs eats time, which makes the whole "show the book at Wonder-Con" thing a little less likely every time. Still think I'm gonna make it, but I'm making it into a race.
Speaking of which, I nailed down an Artist's Alley table (I didn't tell them that I'm just the writer. Ssh! it'll be our little secret.) I should really practice a quick cowboy profile or wolfprint that I can doodle into books. At least that's what Lieber and Parker have said. Now that the book is coming out, I oughta take that advice. Hmm, and I've got signage to get made up. This whole laser print onto foamcore thing isn't working out. It gets dented and wrecked if you look at it funny or call it names. Can't have that. There's no room for weakness in self-publishing. Eye of the Tiger, all that jive.
Which means no moping, either. My wife, bless her heart, pointed that out to me in the afterword that I'd written. Man, was she unhappy with it. I've got an entire blog to post to and gripe about how ain't it awful this grave I'm digging for myself; I oughta spare the paying customers that.
Files are uploaded. Let's see where this gets me.
Maybe I'll be able to get a little reading in. Currently plowing through ESSENTIAL DEFENDERS v. 2. Yeah, getting to the Gerber stuff. That first story arc (which I'm not really all the way through, because those maniacs in the 70s ran stories over months, MONTHS) is chock full of wonderful crazy. Ben Grimm blows a harmonica to save the universe. Top that!
But apparently a comics site called Jazma has heard of me. They even asked me to do an interview, which is up right now, right here.
And here's the second of my Halloween-dated pieces, posted at the dead-but-not-forgotten Dark, But Shining. It's about a western. A good one.
The first of two essays of mine posted today. I won't tell you where the second one is until later. Let's see how it manifests itself, shall we?
Shooting for one Thursday.
Hmm. I've made three weeks in a row now. Spooky.
And really, I meant this column to be all about why I love superheroes, but it ended up turning into something else.
Diamond has accepted MURDER MOON for Previews. No dates, no codes, nothing else just yet. But I'll toot my horn for the moment. Formal PR shall follow.
Oh, what's MURDER MOON? Dig the preview.
Or it means another Full Bleed delivered right to YOU!
Like it says. Full Bleed, for folks who don't know, is the name of my weekly (oh God I hope I can keep it weekly) column covering comics, pop culture, writing and whatever else I can do to keep my savage editor at bay for another week. It originally ran at Broken Frontier from 2003-2004 or was it 2005? I can't even remember any longer.
But it's back. Cthulhu help us all. Especially me.
I sure hope this works, or I'm going to end up looking like a damn fool again.
Please let me know if folks have a problem watching the above. Working on a Mac in a PC world is sometimes...frustrating.
Thanks again to Steven Smith for use of his gorgeously atmospheric music, David Wellington for the great quote and Mike Trent for technical consulting.
BUMPED back to the main page on 9/12.
Now, in a perfect world, there'd be a bit of traffic coming this way after posting the MURDER MOON trailer. So it occurs to me that I should probably have a bit of an introduction for the folks who are coming around here for the first time.
MURDER MOON, the graphic novel, was originally slated as a traditional monthly series under the name STRANGEWAYS, to be published by Speakeasy Comics back in December, 2005. Nevermind how long I'd been working on it before that. On the eve of the first issue's publication (a publication that had been pushed back numerous times by last-minute publisher-side delays), with the second issue turned in and the third issue in the process of being made press-ready, I pulled the book from Speakeasy's lineup. It was clear that Speakeasy was not going to make it through the winter, despite regular protestations to the contrary. Adam Fortier, the then-head of Speakeasy, let the book go graciously.
As much as I'd wanted to get a finished book out onto the stands, I wanted more for the story to be complete. Had the book stayed, I'd have gotten one issue on the stands before things went sour. One issue does not a story make. Putting out one issue then a trade collection tends to make a lot of readers mad, forcing a format change in order for them to get the whole story. The story remained intact, but unpublished.
So I spent some time getting other publishers lined up. Some were quick about their rejections. Some took their time about it, even after hiring a second artist (that they liked) to redraw pages because they really liked the material, but they just weren't wild about Luis Guaragña's art. Time to get submissions in, time to get artists to redraw pages, interminable time to hear back from them before figuring out that it wasn't gonna happen. Time to move 500 miles and re-settle, buy a house, sell a house, raise two kids (still in the process of doing that) and all the other fun things that make life worth living.
So, STRANGEWAYS is dead as a monthly title, but the name lives on as a series of books. The first one is called MURDER MOON. It's a black and white western horror story, about ex-Union soldier Seth Collins, haunted by his own ghosts and making his way through an increasingly haunted frontier (a region called the Strangeways, where there's things worse than bandits and rustlers waiting in the shadows.) The first book is done, done, done. I'm waiting to hear back from Diamond about whether they'll carry it (somehow this is an issue to me, even though most folks tell me not to worry about it.) Hopefully distribution will be settled shortly so that I can get on with selling the book.
Look for a preview of the first chapter to go online after I have a publication date settled. I like to give folks a chance to look a chance at they're gambling their thirteen bucks on.
Forgot to add: there's a 5-page preview up over at my ComicSpace page. Dig it.
Sitting in Diamond's hands right now. Enjoy the preview below.
Going to the Stumptown Festival in Portland, OR at the end of the month.
Working on the second round of STRANGEWAYS scripts, now that the revolving door of artists has finally stopped revolving so damn much.
Is that it?
Oh yeah, I'm resurrecting FULL BLEED, my old comics column. It's not been officially announced, so I won't say where it's going just yet. Will aim for weekly editions, but that's worked out so well for me in the past that I'm not going to play that game anymore.
Are you sure you're not forgetting something?
I went bowling yesterday. I got 111. With bumpers (my kids and their cousins were using the lane). Yes, I know. I need some work on that.
I have to say, last year at the Con was pretty much the suck for me personally. Sucking black hole void of suckage. Don't get me wrong. It was great to see the people I only see once a year. That's always great.
But between the free-floating anxiety of an impending move 500 miles from where I currently lived (to within a stone's throw of the in-laws), the sale of my home, an exploding water heater at 9pm on a Friday night when my car was towed and took nearly 4 bills to get out of the tow yard in the deserted part of town, and oh yeah, the collapse of publishing for STRANGEWAYS, SDCC2K6 was a hotbed of nervousness and gloom. It didn't help that everywhere I wandered the halls it seemed like people were just making stuff to sell to other people to announce how exotic and unusual they were without actually being exotic and unusual.
This year? Looks better, I guess. Though I'm still in a holding pattern waiting for Diamond to get back to me on the fate of MURDER MOON. Much longer and I'll just print the damn things to hand-sell them and run a chapter online to get some eyeballs latched onto it. You know, that "build an audience, get some hits and then get pushed out into the 'real' world" sort of thing. Have to say, it's wearing to have had the project done for so damn long and not out in the vast ocean of the monthly PREVIEWS catalog. But the love you take is equal to the love you make, or something. It's all building momentum, overcoming inertia, getting ready to roll down the ramp and squash the hapless archaeologist in its path.
Anyways instead of being maudlin and such, I wanted to share some of my fonder memories from SDCCs past. I'll post a few a day until I head down to the show in a couple days. In the meantime, gotta make sure previews are printed up (not wanting to hand out ones announcing the title coming out from Speakeasy in 2005 any longer.)
Pages 3-7 of Murder Moon posted on my new site over at Comicspace. I'm hoping to get all of the first chapter up as a preview of the book so folks know what they're getting in to. We'll see how that works out, bet that I'd break my bandwidth limit at Comicspace, though.
Off to SF for the rest of the day and tomorrow.
To the order of things here. I'll be posting news germane to particular projects on various project blogs. Right now there's the following:
If there's really big news on either of those, I'll post it here. But expect the others to be something of workblogs and a place to settle thoughts and maybe even post original fiction/previews.
Why sub-blogs? Well, my coding sucks. My design in HTML sucks. But luckily there's templates that I can wrangle a bit and make look much nicer than hand-coded HTML (which is how I learned, back in the old days, more than 13 years ago. Yes, the web has been around that long. Look it up.)
Against my better judgement, I'm posting the prologue of RAGNAROK SUMMER. I do this with some trepidation. It's one thing to write scripts for other artists to interpret and bring to life. Quite another to throw nothing but your own words out there. Yeah, I've written a hundred thousand bits of nonfiction, but it's just not the same when it comes to prose.
Anyways, hope you like it and find it sufficiently intriguing.
Prologue: Virgrid Forgotten
Underneath the rocky soil of the Virgrid plain, the dead shuddered and were without rest. They fretted, lamenting the theft of that which they had died for.
The plain was an immovable patch of winter, stubborn and unmoved in the face of the endless summer which had ruled Asgard and the nine worlds for the last hundred years. A century of sunlight had not been enough to banish the frigid winds that blew over the field. The ice was meltless, this chill undiminished. The cold gripped the very air, a brittle echo of the Fembleveter which had grasped the land before Summer came. Nobody ever visited this place, Asgardians and misbegotten Jotun alike. Memory of the wounds inflicted was painful enough to drive away anyone who remembered this place.
(more after the jump)
Two years and a little more in and I figure that's that. I'm burned out on comics commentary, both reading and generating the darn stuff. Sure, there's still writers smart or entertaining enough to sastisfy that jones if it ever comes around again. I can get all the comics news I can stand from Journalista!, The Beat, the Comics Reporter and Blog@Newsarama. The blogosphere has gone through its phase of rapid and explosive expansion, now we're getting down to the cooling and crust-formation phase of things. Sure, there's gonna be explosive eruptions of controversy from time to time, but let's face it, stuff like picking on Wizard or pointing out the shortcomings of Tentpole Event-Driven Comics as we enjoy today, has been done, and it's largely like clubbing baby seals. There's nothing to defend there, so the all out, nitro-burning attacks that we see are going to be overkill.
I've got to stick to my own work, which I'll be promoting/updating here (including actual publishing, probably the novel RAGNAROK SUMMER, which was written a shamefully long time ago). I'll probably talk about comics from time to time at Dark, But Shining", but there won't be a lot of it here. Like I said, we all know what ails us in comics. Talking about it has been done. Go forth and do something about it, whether it's inside the Direct Market or the vast expanses outside of it. We're not going to recognize things in ten years. Or even five. It's not the killer app at this point, but the killer platform, that we're waiting on.
In the meantime, I'm still waiting out the fate of STRANGEWAYS, with more than a hundred pages of completed art at stake. My gut feeling tells me that self-publishing looms large in my future, as hard as I've worked to find another publisher ("You of all people should know how seldom it works out..." Thanks, Lo Pan, for that little tidbit of advice.) Entirely possible that something will come through, but that's not how things have worked out lately.
With STRANGEWAYS hanging fire, I'm working on rewrites for RAGNAROK SUMMER (the abovementioned novel), as well as trying to make sense of the conclusion for MY WINGS ARE BLACK, which has a dynamite setup and setting, but still needs a little something something while I wait on designs from Guy Davis. I'm also seriously weighing the possibilities for EATERS seeing light of day as a novel and not as a graphic work. That's a tough one, and will be mulling over it in my column at Dark, But Shining, as the subject matter is a much better fit there.
In short, work moves forward, but it's time to cast off any mantle of comics commentator that I might have assumed at one time. Go read Jog instead. I generally agree with his assessments of things and he's an astute reader (not to mention clearer commentator than I ever could hope to be.) But I have to say, if you're reading this at work with something to do, just delete the bookmark and instead turn around and open your word processor or sketchbook (but keep it out of sight) and get something on paper or digits or whatever and do something with it. This commentary stuff is fine entertainment, but I seriously question the long-term value of it all.
But perhaps my existential questioning shouldn't get in the way of some good snark.
Thanks to Heidi at the Beat for the past link-love, ditto to Dirk Deppey back in the day when I was but a humble columnist at Broken Frontier. Thanks also to Larry Young and James Sime, who've offered great encouragement and advice over the past couple of years. Advice which I'll continue to make use of as I forge ahead. Thanks to the folks who stopped by over the last couple of years. I'll ask you to drop by from time to time in the future, particularly if you want to know what's going on writing-wise.
Head down and working. Take care, all.
As the Titanic goes down...
Finally, here's part 2 of the interview I did with Broken Frontier, a couple weeks before Speakeasy threw in the towel. Neither "oddly prescient" nor "ironic." Give it a read, won't you?
Just smile and wave...
I was recently interviewed by Jesse Vigil of Broken Frontier regarding Strangeways and how it (sorta) came to be. Part one is up now, at the above link. Part two up...soonish, I'm told. Give it a read, won't you?
This was the last of my "Hard Knocks" columns written up for the Isotope Lounge before it got obliterated by hackers or whatever actually happened to it. I've got most of them backed up, but this one stood out for some reason. Obviously it was written before I pulled the plug on the Speakeasy deal, and actually, this was back when the November launch date was a possibility, yeah even a fact...
It’s easy to get lost in all this sometimes. I’ve been working on Strangeways so long, it seems, that it’s stopped being about this little horror/western book and something else entirely. I mean, this thing was lettered at just after the beginning of this year so that I could have preview ashcans made up for Wondercon. And it was written far before that. Since then, it’s been mass-mailing, hand-selling, page layout, interviewing (well, one interview anyways, but it’s a big one), and arranging for a surprise event. The work’s been everything but about what I set out to do, which was to write.
It’s a strange, strange business, that’s for sure. Yes, I’m a genius with a talent for observation. Got it, thanks. Seriously, though, if you stop to look at the way things are in comics, it’s downright bizarre. Largely, our work is defined by selling serial chunks of a story at a time. Now, as a storyteller, that doesn’t sit really well with me, but there’s a variety of reasons for it being like this (namely the regular revenue stream for publishers and retailers, and the belief that it’s easier to get someone to take a risk on a three dollar pamphlet than it is to sell them a twelve-dollar or more graphic novel.) My whole deal is about getting folks to the end of a story and giving them some satisfaction when they close the book. Sure, there’s the thrill of the cliffhanger, of the story turning before you and you demanding to know “WHAT HAPPENS? I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE NEXT ISSUE! ARRGH!”
This one from Jeremy Donelson (aka The Pickytarian) over at Buzzscope. I can't argue with his critique of certain elements, and I'd rather hear the straight dope from someone who reads the book.
Just wish all this advance press was actually supporting a book that was coming out in the next week or so. Rumor has it that mid-February may be when it comes out, but I didn't say that it would. Don't bet the family farm on it...
I've a great deal of respect for Jog and his eponymous comics blog. He's a very sharp reviewer, of wide-ranging taste and able to clearly express himself even when tackling difficult subjects. His reviews of SEVEN SOLDIERS have pretty much set the bar for online discussion of the series, for instance.
So I was both stunned and pleased to see that he'd spent considerable energy writing up a review of STRANGEWAYS #1. He even liked it, and seemed to be getting what I was getting at in the script (both overt and covertly). I don't write comics to get reviewed, but when good reviews like this one come along, I can't complain one bit.
As for the rest of you, you'll be able to read it...sometime. Apparently getting a print run scheduled in December is nigh on impossible. I'd love to say that the end of January is looking like it's in sight, but realistically, it's not going to be until early February on the outside (and I wouldn't bet a plugged nickel on that, at this rate.)
'Cause that's when issue #1 of STRANGEWAYS will be shipping. 1/4 to be precise.
Though I don't even know why I'm telling you all this. I've been made a liar three times now. You smart people have probably stopped believing me long ago.
The silver lining in this cloud is that the issues will ship on time, once they've started shipping. But right now, I'm seeing the cumulonimbus in all of this. Last year, I was convinced that things would start rolling by the end of last year. This year, I was convinced things would be rolling before the end of this one. Next year for sure!
Michael May says:
I was just immersed in this scary-ass story about a stagecoach caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and before I knew it, I was reading the credits on the last page and feeling sad that I'd have to wait a while for the next installment.
Thanks for the review, Mike. Glad you liked it. The second issue is even better.
In the ongoing battle to present you with as much content and as few advertisements in my books as humanly possible, it's my pleasure to announce the presence of exclusive Dr. Ready panels in the back of Strangeways #2, which should be shipping in late January. Who is Dr. Ready, you ask?
Dr. Ready, the brainchild of Curtis Broadway knows all, sees all, is both omnipresent and elusive. He's also one of the cast of characters you'll find in Mr. Broadway's (aptly titled) Dr. Ready books, of which a handful have been made available to the public. Capturing a skewed sort of dream logic, Dr. Ready is like a snapshot of the subconscious, where things make sense, but you don't know exactly *why* they do.
My thanks to Curtis for keeping two pages from suffering an apalling state of blankness or mundane advertisement-ness-osity. You'll all get to enjoy the taste when issue two hits the stands. In the meantime, check out Mr. Broadway's site (linked above) and get a feel for the psychic veins he's mining on a regular basis.
Randy Lander tackles some of Speakeasy Comics' output from the last couple months, including Strangeways #1, which gets a favorable review (and shows that I was at least partially successful with what I set out to do in the issue, in terms of tapping a 70's Warren vibe.)
So, remember when I said that it was going to hit November 30th? Well, that was before I found out that Speakeasy was going with Lamppost printing for their books. I'd heard the news about Lamppost dumping all but Alias books and felt bad about it, but didn't figure it affected me directly, because as far as I knew, Speakeasy's books were being printed by Quebecor, and I hadn't heard different.
So much for assumptions. Turns out that when Lamppost hosed their clients, I was caught in the blowback. Which meant that Strangeways #1's date was now back up in the air. Last week, I got news that Speakeasy was back with Quebecor and there were going to be some changes to things (but none of them affected me, as I've got a black and white book--the only montly b/w book Speakeasy is doing, to the best of my knowledge.)
To all the reviewers who got on the stick and got reviews of the book up the week it was supposed to ship, you have my thanks and my regret that it's not going to mesh as well as I'd like it to. Here's a couple that have gone up already (including the first one, from my old alma mater as it were, Broken Frontier.)
There's probably going to be a couple more this week as well, unless they read this and chuck the reviews in the dustbin (not that I'd blame 'em).
When there's a new street date for #1, I'll post it right here. I wish there was something I could do to change this, but some things are beyond even my cosmically-spawned powers.
This is a teeny, tiny little piece of Guy Davis' pinup for Strangeways #1.
If you want to see the whole thing, then you're going to need to actually pick up the issue, open it, thumb through the pages until you find it and then, only then, will you be rewarded. Of course, you could just buy the damn thing, and that way you'd have it and be able to cherish it forever. Your choice.
No comment. This is all very weird.
At the Highway 62 main site:
Look what I found! Retrostacja. Stronag�wna - A Croatian Steampunk site.
And apparently, Strangeways is a steampunk work. Which is funny, because there were a lot of very heavy steampunk elements in the first iteration of the story, years and years ago, though those have been largely jettisoned. Guess they went back in time and got a hold of an old draft or something...
Yes, I found this by googling my project. So what? Everybody does it...
Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin has the good taste to talk up Strangeways. In particular, the ashcan I sent him under the aegis of being a Comic Shop Guy of note.
Thanks for the kind words, Mike. Sorry I couldn't shoehorn in a Swamp Thing cameo in that first issue...
Finally updated the main Strangeways page. Not a lot there, but there's more than there used to be. Though there's new art up on the banner, so I got that going for me.
As a writer, I used to be of the firm and unshakable opinion that the Marvel style of scripting was bunk. For those of you who don't know what that means, it boils down to a writer giving a synopsis of the story to the artist, who then paced things out visually without dialogue. Then the scripter gets the pencils and writes the script based on the layouts that the artist has come up with. Funny, but there isn't a DC style (cheap jokes aside). The only other way I thought to do things involved the artist working directly from the full script and not deviating all that much from it, so that the dialogue could be laid in without modification.
I figured that this was a better way of doing things, but then I've always been a writer-centric cuss. Yes, I know that writing and art should share the workload. I always thought that full scripting would be a better way for me to work, 'cause more of my vision (ha) would make it to the page. And not only that, but like I said above, I felt the Marvel style involved a pretty major step that shouldn't be necessary.
Of course, I've found that I could learn a thing or two about pacing, something that the artist I'm working with does know. Consequently, he deviates from my script a bit. It mostly works. However, the final step in the Marvel style, where you can go back and tweak things and shift emphases and realize that the artist did a better job telling the story than I thought I did (and letting the text back off a bit) is a good thing. I'm not sure that it's workable on a regular monthly title, but having the time to do it on Strangeways (that being the project in question) has been invaluable.
But then so has, y'know, actually writing the script and getting it into an artist's hands.