LiteraryGeek

Loose Wires

Sometimes you just want to shake your head.

Mention to someone, anyone that you are a writer and like clockwork the comments come. “Oh. I’ve always wanted to be a writer” or “I’m going to write a book when I retire” as if it were that easy.

This is not a choice. I did not wake up one morning and decide to be a writer. I simply realized I already was one.

Writers are not like other people. We are wired differently.

And there are a lot of loose wires.

Writing is not a 9 to 5 job. There is no clock to punch. You are always writing or reading or thinking about writing. I toss and turn at night until my wife finally tells me to get up and write whatever story I happen to be working through. It simply cannot be turned off.

One example of this came to me recently. A friend of mine mentioned that she was house-sitting for a relative. Sounds innocent enough. Not so fast-my mind starts wandering, meandering down various avenues. At first all I could think of was her taking the house out for a walk. Let me repeat myself:  All I could think of was her taking the house out for a walk.

That was just the beginning. Now that I was down the rabbit hole ideas came quick and furiously. Now this house was not always where you left it. Or maybe the doors within this house led to different places and times. In my mind I twisted and turned my way around the thought of someone house-sitting to my own bizarre version of the locked door haunted house.

Like I said loose wires.

There is something just a little off about us writers. I for one wouldn’t have it any other way.

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History: Unwritten(Work in Progress)

Ambition is a good thing. Only by tackling new challenges can we truly discover where our limits truly lie.

Recently I decided to dive into a new project. My own attempt at a Web Comic.

The entire thing is daunting. Written by me. Drawn by me. Entirely produced by me. Everything lays at my feet.

I am both excited by this endeavour and utterly terrified. One moment I am invigorated by the art and concepts I am bringing to life. The next I worry that I am about to do a tremendous faceplant for all the world to see.

The idea came from a picture I found on social media. The text was simple:

‘What if the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was an UFO…

And we were the Aliens?’

I will be honest one of the big draws for me is the best chance I will ever have to draw a cowboy dinosaur riding a mastodon. But there is more.

It may be my one chance to create my very own comic. My opportunity to display my own work to all the world.

I am still working out the details on how many installments this story will be told over. My initial thought is using single pieces of art to tell the story of each chapter. That may change. For now I simply have the beginning…

History: Unwritten

‘History, they say, is written by the victors…

History lies.’

 

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Batman V. Superman: Doomsday

In a few short days Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will premier. So very many things to look forward to. Today I choose to look at one of the villains: Doomsday.

Introduced in 1992s ‘Death of Superman’ storyline, Doomsday was a force of nature. Plowing through hero after hero until he faced Superman alone. Genetically created(thousands of years ago on Krypton) to be the ultimate survivor-Doomsday can never be beaten the same way twice.  Finally, after realizing there was no other way to beat him, Superman beat Doomsday to death with his dying breath. Of course both characters would eventually return.

When the first trailers of the upcoming movie appeared some fans complained. You see this Doomsday’s origin is different from the comics. From what we think we know the movie Doomsday will be created by Lex Luthor using the corpse of Zod from ‘Man of Steel’. This will be Lex Luthor’s Frankenstein monster. And for some this is unacceptable.

Me? I think it is awesome. Using the original version could be problematic in the movies. Taking a page from ‘the Modern Prometheus’ is brilliant. Prometheus stole fire from the gods to give to mankind. What better way to fight Superman than stealing from the gods again by reanimating Zod?

With one simple change you give new life to the Luthor/Superman dynamic while also creating someone who could rival the Kryptonian’s power levels. You also create a battle which would necessitate Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman teaming up.

And isn’t that what we all really want?

 

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#WhoSpeaksForTheGingers

Comic Books are a unique form of art. They are the best of sequential storytelling. In novels a writer paints a picture, in comics artists fill in the blanks. They show you what this character or that looks like. Those depictions matter. In novels you have more wiggle room.

In recent years there has been an effort to create more character diversity in the world of comics. In years past that was not always the case. Diversity got a token response from the industry. Now there is a concentrated effort to do better. With varying success.

The upcoming Iron Fist TV series has opened another can of worms in this conversation. There are those who have complained about the actor who was chosen to portray Danny Rand/the Iron Fist. Let us ignore the fact that he seems to fit nicely in the way that Iron Fist has been portrayed since his arrival in May of 1974. For over forty years Danny Rand has been the Iron Fist, in those years he has always been portrayed as a blond-haired, Caucasian man. Apparently that is not good enough for some. These individuals feel he should be portrayed by an actor of Asian decent(ignoring the simple fact that this would go against the entire premise of the character). I am sure those that feel this way have rational reasoning for this and frankly…I do not care.

This column is not about Iron Fist. This is about the thought that you create diversity by changing the race or gender or sexual preference of characters that have been around forty, fifty years.

It does not work that way. Anyone who thinks it does has the horse around backwards.

‘Who Speaks For The Gingers?’

Gingers? I know…what the hell is he talking about now? I mention Gingers because several characters that have had their race changed have been Gingers-Wally West and Jimmy Olsen(at least the TV version of Olsen) also it seems sad that one of the greatest minorities(Gingers may not be around a century from now-red hair is a recessive gene) may soon be eliminated from our comic books. Soon we may be down to only Guy Gardner. So whenever the issue of race-bending comes up I ask: Who speaks for the Gingers?

In my mind’s eye changing long-standing characters races does not create diversity. It steals the memory from fans of these characters. It changes history. And frankly in my opinion some of these characters you are changing do more for diversity than their pale shadows ever will. Wally West certainly did. Under the pen of Mark Waid, Wally as the Flash had one of the most ethnically and progressive casts in comics. Wally was middle America and his friends and family were anything but.

Diversity is important but diversity for the sake of diversity is not the way to go. There is a better way. Create new characters. Simple. New. Characters.

Write what you know and who you know. Expand the horizons of our comics by expanding the cast, not by changing those we have. It can be done. Look at Ms Marvel, look at Miles Morales.

I have heard the arguments before. It is difficult to create lasting new characters. Some creators do not want to give their best to Marvel and DC if they cannot keep some ownership.

Both are valid. Wanting to keep your own characters is understandable. Someday perhaps DC and Marvel will do a better job compensating creators for their work…we are not there yet.

As far as it being hard. That is weak sauce. Anything worthwhile is hard. Do the work. Put your heart and soul into it. Do not cower and hide because it is difficult.

And if it is important to you it will be good and people will respond.

 

 

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Han Solo and the Prequels

S0…I finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Yes I know…about damn time.

Sorry…I have been sick. And I did not want to ruin anyone else’s experience. That is just me. Not like the movie was not already spoiled five hours before I could have seen it here in Florida.

I loved the movie it was great. Fun, exciting, everything you want in a blockbuster movie. They did a great job introducing the new characters as well…this is not about all that.

Today I write about what we lost and what that loss revealed to me about why I feel the way I do about the prequels.

We lost Han Solo. Han! Of all the original cast we could have lost why did it have to be Han.

For me Han Solo is what brought me to the series to begin with. It was always the rebel without a cause space cowboy with a healthy dose of snark that made me care. It was never the Jedi. It was never Luke Skywalker. Not for one moment.

It was always Han.

Star Wars has always been more Science Fantasy than Science Fiction and one common element of fantasy is the use of the skeptic. From the Alice in Wonderland to Scully in X-Files you always need that person that has not drank the kool aid quite yet to be the viewers eyes. That is exactly what the companions are in Doctor Who. They are us. It is only through these characters eyes that we can truly experience the wonder. That is Han’s role. He is our skeptic, our hero. He does not believe in the force.

“There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. Its all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense”-Han Solo

He brings us in and his sense of humour and blind heroics make us want to stay. And now he is gone. I already feel the loss. They have positioned Finn and Poe Dameron to fill his role: the fallen stormtrooper and the hotshot pilot. While they may stand in his place…they may never fill his shoes.

Now you may be thinking what this all has to do with the prequels…I am getting there.

Anyone who knows me knows that I was never a fan of the prequels. I have often said “They are telling a story that we all know the ending but they are not getting us there in an interesting way.”

Part of it was always an over-reliance on CGI. Too much Jar Jar. A horrible waste of a great concept in the Clone Wars. Or even a fairly weak turning to the dark side by Anakin. All of these are valid reasons not to like the prequels. But I realize that there is another for me.

The prequels are all Jedi, all the time. So much Force Sensitivity, so many Jedi and Sith and far too few actual people. Everyone seems to have powers…where is the person for us to identify with. Where is our Han? I have always been drawn to the normal in over his head in a world he cannot possibly understand.

In the prequels that was missing…at least for me.

 

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We Are Legion

Another day and another conversation. And it leads me back to this column from way back when.

So this column came from a conversation I had with some friends over twitter. Actually it began after I read an interview with Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis.

Interview: Giffen and DeMatteis, another LEAGUE and LARFLEEZE

What prompted me to read the interview you ask? It was Giffen and DeMatteis…seriously you need more. They are bloody brilliant. Even if they did not give us an absolutely inspired take on Justice League and bring Blue and Gold together for the first time-Keith Giffen has long been connected to the Legion of SuperHeroes. That was more than enough for me.

The important part (for me at least) was this:

“This way when — because it is ‘when’ — DC will relaunch the Legion of Super Heroes eventually”

That was a direct quote from Keith Giffen and if I trust anyone talking about the Legion it is Mr. Giffen. Of course at the time they were talking about their new project Justice League 3000, but the Legion comment is what mattered to me.

Then came the conversation with @777DAMM and @JanArrah over in the twitterverse, follow them you will thank me.

It ranged over elation over the prospect of the Legion returning and the skepticism over how it would be handled.

More than any other comic book property the Legion seems to regularly suffer from changes that take place in the main universe. The Legion has been rebooted so many times it is difficult to know where a new book would start from, what pieces of the universe would be included and what parts and characters would pass into memory.

The biggest thing I took from the conversation was the realization that we all came at our fandom from different times, different points in the history of the Legion. Starting in different times gives us different perspectives, different things about the Legion that we love in our own ways. If I could see that from a conversation with two other people imagine trying to create a Legion for a hundred or thousands of people.

As fans we often believe these characters, these stories belong to us. We sometimes forget we don’t own them. Everyone does. We may not like the new version of the Legion but is it not better than not having them at all. The task is not easy. There is an abundance of history-but then if you have been around for sixty years and you don’t have history I have to ask: What have you been doing all this time..?

The job of creating a new Legion that will appeal to new and old is a big job and an important one. The Legion has been around since April of 1957 beginning with Adventure Comics #247. Why is that important?

The Legion predates the Avengers, the Justice Leagues, the Teen Titans and yes even the X-Men. Great creators have come from the Legion: Mike Grell, Jim Shooter, Dave Cockrum, Paul Levitz, Giffen, Oliver Coipel, Jim Starlin and even Francis Manapul. Someday soon another creator will step in with his vision for the future.

That vision is the important thing. It’s the future, not some horrifying dystopian future but one of hope. That is what the Legion has always been about hope and family. The belief that when they come together good people can do great things and there will always be a tomorrow.

The Legion is the bedrock for which that future will stand. Until that day…

Long Live the Legion.

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The Voice

“The Earth has music for those who listen.” -William Shakespeare

The world sings. The melodies are all around. Coming from everywhere and nowhere all at once.

Do you hear the voice?

We all have a voice. Something that we identify with. Something that is uniquely ours.

We share that with the world even if you do not realize it.

Some find so many different ways to share that voice. For me it has been art, music, writing…all in their own way give me joy.

And I try to share that joy with the world.

But there are times when that voice goes silent. Life gets in the way. Static, distractions they take away the connection to that voice.

There are times I have put down the pencil, the guitar. Times I have locked this keyboard away. In those moments you wonder if you will pick them up again.

Have you changed?

Has that voice stopped talking to you?

The voice is always there. You simply have to let it find you again. It is not always the way it was.

I rarely play the guitar anymore. Time is scarce and my guitar gathers dust in the corner.

The art comes and goes. Pencils, pens, paper…scattered around my home. Sketches and concepts adorn the pages. Pieces waiting for me to finish them. Some have waited far too long.

So I write. And when I am not writing…I write. Stories, columns, thoughts…they multiply in my mind even when I am away from the keyboard. Filling up space until I dust them off to share with the world.

I hear the Voice.

It is screeching and howling.

It is beautiful.

 

 

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