Sunday, July 27, 2008

Totally New Project!!

One truth about me:  I'm not happy unless I have too many stories churning in my head.  I've got The Brown Sisters (my "serious fiction"), and I have Vintage Furniture and Oddities (my project with my brother), but I needed something else just to do for fun.  I kept wondering and wondering, and it came to me in a flash.  The title to my next great project.  I already have a basic story line, character designs, and material for a few issues (it's probably going to be a webcomic).  I also designed a logo for said project:

Oh yes.  In case you can't read that it says My Zombie Wife Wants Me Dead!  That, my friends, is the sort of title that grabs the attention.  I'm pretty excited about this.  The comic will be black and white, of course, because I'm not doing a whole issue in colored pencil.  I only hope I can do a decent job drawing.  I feel pretty good about my character designs, and I'm using a cleaner style of art than my sketches, but I don't know if I'll be able to convey the sort of action I want in the story.  I'll have fun trying, though!

I'll try to post some of my character designs soon.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Who Watches the Watchmen . . . Act?

The first trailer for The Watchmen is out.  It looks excellent.  Dr. Manhattan is stunning.  Max and Leo have been cracking me up because, since they saw the trailer, they have been playing Watchmen.

"I'm Dr. Manhattan," Leo says.

"I'm Rorschach," Max replies.

Then they run around and battle and fight the bad guys.  It makes me laugh because their perceptions of what Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach are like are, shall we say, a bit off.  I just don't have the heart to tell Max that Rorschach is a mentally unstable far right conspiracy theorist and not a noble hero.  I also don't want to tell Leo that if he wants to be Dr. Manhattan he needs to be naked.  Because, y'know, he'd probably be fine with that.  They'll find all this out anyway when I take them to see the movie next March.

Just kidding.  If you've read Watchmen you'll probably remember that it's less than kid-friendly.  I do plan on seeing myself, though.  The trailer was one of the best parts about going to see PART of The Dark Knight this past weekend.

That's right.  PART of The Dark Knight.  The story goes like this:  A few of us guys who live on campus here at the Seminary got together to go see The Dark Knight Sunday night.  We all rode together and had a good time chatting.  I was a little disappointed that only a couple of us were old comic book junkies so I couldn't talk comics with them, but we had a good time anyway.

We arrived at the theater later than we had wanted so we couldn't all sit together, but I sat with one of the guys and another found a seat directly behind us.  We had been there for about an hour and a half, I think, when it happened.  At one moment Harvey Dent's large, dimpled chin was occupying the screen, the next, darkness.  The emergency lights came on, and a theater employee told us that the power went out and when it came back on the movie would pick up where it left off.  Unfortunately, it was not to be.  They never got the power back on.  10:30 rolled around and they bounced us from the theater.  We got vouchers for a free movie, of course, but here it is Friday and I've still never seen the end of The Dark Knight.  Hopefully I won't have to wait until it comes out on DVD.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sketches: Faces, etc.

This batch of drawings represent what I typically draw.  I draw faces, often profiles, and I draw monsters.  There are other more complex drawings as well, but no other comics.  The 'elder' picture is actually much larger than the other pictures, and I think the whole thing would look better if I could figure out how to put a border on these pics, but this will do for now.

Buck-Toothed Monster


 Elegant Woman

Tae Kwon Do Joe
I was trying to use different arm and hand positions here.

So that's all for this round of my sketches.  I have plenty more, so check back often.  If you want to see scribbly, mediocre drawing, that is.

Sketches: All the Good Dragons

I promised I would post some of my drawings, so here's the first.  It's a cartoon I drew yesterday when I should have been studying.  The scanner blurred the upper left corner, but that doesn't affect the cartoon much.  Enjoy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Graphic Novel Fever

My brother has done something incredibly unfair to me.  My life is hard.  A few weeks ago he casually mentioned that he thought doing a graphic novel of Vintage Furniture and Oddities would be cool.  Since then I had a discussion with Chris Gensheer about our mutual love of comic books.  Those two things combined have sparked an virulent strain of Graphic Novel Fever.  I've been cruising the internet to find out the news about some of my old faves (Madman, for instance).

Since my brother has expressed interest in drawing the above graphic novel, and since he is a better artist than me, I am happily giving him that opportunity. The problem is, I want to get the ball rolling.  And he's entering a doctoral program.  Writing big papers.  Drinking martinis with the President of Ohio University.  One of those sentences might not be true.  Anyway, he doesn't have the time to do a lot of drawing right now.  That means I got the fevah with no hope of a cure unless I can come up with another cool-as-heck idea.  Ugh.

I guess I'll just have to stick to writing "The Brown Sisters" and VFO.  Hopefully that will be enough to scratch the creative itch.

By the way, I will be posting some of my drawings on this blog as soon as I can figure out how to work the scanner.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Critique Arrives

It's nice when something you've been waiting for finally happens.  Ever since June 17--a long time ago, I know--I have been waiting for Ann McCutchan's final critique of the bit of The Brown Sisters (working title) I read at the Trinity Arts Conference.  For those who don't know, Ann is a professor in the MA in Creative Writing program at the University of North Texas.  She led the workshop in which I read the piece, but there wasn't enough time for a good, thorough critique of the whole chapter.

This morning, however, I get up, make my coffee, and sit at the computer, and what do I find?  Ah!  The critique!  I'm a bit surprised I didn't click on Ann's e-mail with trepidation, but I was just plain excited.  She did not disappoint me.  Well, I was a bit disappointed that she didn't use the phrase "the next Hemingway" with reference to me, but I'll get over that.  What she did was deliver the sort of specific critique I have been longing for.

For instance, I really wanted to know my strengths and weaknesses.  While this is difficult to judge from one piece, she wrote that I have a "fine imagination" and that I should trust my ability to "'nail' a character first time out."  She referenced a specific character and said that the sort of description I applied to her was a strength of mine.

My chief weakness, she thought, was providing too much small detail.  She said I should pare things down, and recommended an exercise to help me with that.  She said I should try to take what I wrote in four paragraphs and, without cutting the scene itself down, rewrite the material in two paragraphs using only my strongest descriptors.  This is just what I needed!  I am looking forward to following her advice.

I definitely agree with her that the story drags a bit because of the detail.  I was just talking to Mary Ann about that yesterday as we were traveling back from a family reunion in Indiana.  She said she has enjoyed reading "Vintage Furniture and Oddities" (parts one and two) much more than The Brown Sisters, and I think she's onto something there.  I've been heavy handed, and I think Ann's recommendations may be just what I need.

On top of all that, she recommended a book to help me.  It's called Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, and it sounds like it will be quite helpful.  Thanks, Ann!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Meeting With Dr. Calhoun

I met with one of my professors today.  Dr. David Calhoun is the freshly retired professor of Church History at Covenant Seminary, but he is continuing to teach.  Last semester I took the elective "Christianity and Imagination" to him, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  In fact, the class proved pivotal, helping me to decide what I want to do in the future.

I'm also taking Reformation and Modern Church History to Dr. Calhoun this summer, and I met with him after class today.  We'd been planning on that since the end of last semester, but this was the first chance we had to get together.  It was a good meeting.  His comments on my story were encouraging and his advice for me was helpful.  Beyond that, it was just nice to have a conversation with him.  He is one of the kindest men you could meet, and he understands what a writer needs to do in order to do good work.  I must say, I was a bit embarrassed by showing him some of the story's content.  It's not pornographic, nor does it have a Tarantino-like level of language and violence, but there is some cursing and a reference to a sexual situation.  Dr. Calhoun is a Flannery O'Connor fan, though, so he understands what it takes to craft a powerful story.  You have to deal with the warts of reality in a realistic way.

All in all, a good meeting.  He has encouraged me on my way toward pursuing an MFA, and he even said he saw that I had some talent.  Hopefully I can continue to develop said talent and write something that is worthwhile for both Christians and non-Christian.  He also advised me to continue to go to conferences and make contacts with people in the field.  It's nice when you get advised to do exactly what you wanted to do anyway . . .