Saturday, May 14, 2016

On Darwyn Cooke and The New Frontier

I started writing a lengthy blog post about Darwyn Cooke’s masterful New Frontier back in March after reading it for the second time, long before I learned that he had fallen victim to “aggressive cancer”.

This is not that post.

In that post I go on at length about the brilliance of the work, how it manages the herculean and seemingly impossible task of combining nostalgia and revisionism into a single, robust narrative, surpassing both and becoming far, far greater than the sum of its parts. I’m still writing it and maybe you’ll see it some day. Maybe not. It’s a tough nut to crack and probably beyond my meager skills as a writer and a thinker, at least at present. If 2016 has taught us anything it is that the clock is ticking for all of us, winding down as it approaches the last hour.  

There is a bit of that post in this one but the tone is wholly different. This is far less critical and far more personal.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Man of Steel

Okay so the title of this post is a bit misleading. I don't love Man of Steel (the 2013 film)...but I have come to like it and to appreciate what it for what it is. I did love Batman v Superman however and the two films are as inextricably linked to one another as say, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. I think about 50% of the backlash towards BvS, at least in the fan press, is flashback from Man of Steel.

What I intend to do is to take three points of the film that I had major problems with the first time I tried to watch it and explain why they are no longer hurdles to my enjoyment of the DCEU. You are more then welcome to disagree with me. I don't want to use the historical development of the character, or cite issue numbers to point out that your reason for having issues with the movie are wrong because I know Superman better than you (I might actually not especially if your name happens to be Mark Waid). Quite frankly there is too much of that on the comics internet and life in general as it is. This is why Man of Steel works for me, nothing more. Your mileage may vary.

Friday, November 2, 2012

"Ill-Met at the Drake and Griffin"

The first comic story I ever published was a piece called "Ill-Met at the Drake and Griffin". It appeared in an anthology called A Fistful of Comics, the brain child of editor Jim O'Hara, put together in 2010 by the members of Mark Millar's Millarworld forums. The pencils and lettering were done by Gavin Smith and the inks by Nick Justus (who also assisted on the letters). It's got it's share of problems and when I look at it now there are a lot of things I would do differently, but there are a few bits I'm really proud of. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Taking Stock: October

It's a new month (November) so it feels like a good time to take stock of what I've done in the last month.

Comic Script Pages Written:  9

Issues Outlined: 4

Stories Pitched: 1

Blog Entries: 3

I also have the new blog set up, have joined one on-line writer's forum that seems to be working out well, and finally set up a Twitter account (@joncarrollwrite) and a G+ account. That's not bad for less than half a month of serious work after returning home from NYCC...but it's not professional level productivity either.

Goals are important things to have so my goal for November are to double my performance in all of the above metrics, hopefully before the dual crush of the holidays (I work in retail after all) and snow shoveling set in. The biggest challenge for me will be finding the time to do 19 pages of actual script but if it wasn't difficult it wouldn't be worth doing!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On Star Wars

Chances are good that if you're reading this now (because you have power and internet access in the wake of Frankenstorm Sandy) you have heard that Disney is in the process of purchasing Lucasfilm Ltd and is planning to produce at least three new Star Wars movies. Since Star Wars is such a vital part of comic book culture I thought I would share my thoughts. What follows is pure opinion and should be taken for what it's worth, which is practically nothing.

My History with Star Wars

Return of the Jedi was the first movie I ever watched in the theater and my earliest memory is sitting in the dark watching the opening crawl of the credits. We missed the very beginning so my dad decided to sit in the theater and we watched the whole show a second time. From that point on I was hooked. Star Wars was the one constant amongst my geeky interests. I devoured the comics, toys, video games, novels and the assorted bric-a-brac that is part and parcel of the Star Wars experience. I greeted the news of the prequels much as one might welcome angels from on high proclaiming the second coming and bought tickets for opening day a month in advance.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Anathema Review

Writer/Letterer: Rachel Deering   Artist: Chris Mooneyham   Colorist: Fares Maes/Ian Herring
Publisher: Self published   Genre: Horror    Cover Price: $3.99 (print)/ $1.99 (digital)

Issue 1 cover by Chris Mooneyham
Anathema is many things. It's a tale of horror and a love story, an epic quest and a personal journey. It is a damn good comic book, one that you need to read for yourself.

Anathema is the story of Mercy, a young woman who becomes a beast to save the soul of her lover Sarah from the vampire Karnstein. It is a simple enough premise but author Rachel Deering piles on layer after layer of detail with sublime results. Mercy and Sarah are lesbians. Mercy abandoned Sarah to face the judgment of her own self righteous father alone. She cannot speak in her animal form but can still think (though perhaps not so clearly as she might like). It's heavy stuff to be sure. Big questions are asked about the plight of those society has set apart, the power of love and the nature of morality, but the story never becomes so bogged down in the answers that it forgets that even mature comics should be fun. There is plenty of action and more than a few good old fashioned monsters (my favorites are Karnstein's henchmen who resemble medieval plague doctors).  

Issue 2 cover by Joe Querio
Artist Chris Mooneyham and colorists Fares Maese (issue 1) and Ian Herring (issue 2) are able collaborators. Together they create a visual style that is equal parts Walt Simonson and Mike Mignola with the odd touch of Joe Kubert and Klaus Janson. It is a moody, atmospheric style that combines the best aspects of the black and white style popularized by Warren Magazines in the seventies, with the understated colors of the classic Hammer Horror films.

The only unfortunate thing about Anathema is that it's not a book you'll find in your local comic book store or on Comixology. Anathema must be purchased directly in print or digital editions through Rachel Deering's online store. Trust me, it's well worth the effort.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NYCC 2012

I'm back in Buffalo after New York Comic Con and sitting at my computer, my grey matter boiling away with ideas for stories that must be told but first, a new blog to chronicle the next phase of my journey towards becoming a professional comic book writer.

This wasn't my first time at NYCC, but this was definitely the best experience I've had at the show, and not just because I seem to have escaped the dreaded "con crud". This year rocked for two simple reasons : focus and achievement.

In the past my approach to the con was pretty scatter shot. I would get up to the show floor, run as fast as the crowd would permit to the DC booth and proceed to circle, like a vulture, looking for freebies. Then I would attend a few panels, check out artist's alley, get in line for signings, catch a screening, and meander about the show floor aimlessly for three days. I spent my money on  sketches from the few artists who would do them for $40 or less and trades from the numerous vendors that offered them at a 50% discount. Last year I left the con with quite a lot of stuff but felt somewhat unfulfilled by the experience.

This year I made up my mind early on to treat the comic con as a working vacation. Screenings and signings were out, as was sketch collecting (I was tempted early on by a short line at George Perez' table for $40 sketches but kept my resolve). The only panels I intended to attend were the ones focused on the business of comics or the craft of creating them. The only books I was going to buy were creator owned ones and I was going to show Jesus E. Lee to as many people as possible.

All in all it worked out pretty well. I did end up buying two volumes of Showcase Presents The Legion of Superheroes (what can I say, I love silver age too much!), and I had to sit through three promotional panels to see Grant Morrison, Brian K Vaughan and Jonathan Hickman talk about writing (believe me it was worth it), but otherwise I stuck to my guns. By the end of the weekend I had lost count of the number of people who had either seen Jesus E. Lee to or been told about it (Grant Morrison smiled when he heard the concept). There was a lot of great encouragement and some thoughtful criticism from people at all levels of the comic book hierarchy, and I came away with a sense that my goal is not as far fetched as I might have believed a week ago. I may not have as much stuff to read but I feel vindicated as a writer.

Finally in the last panel of the last day, I watched Kubert School professor Fernando Ruiz do an art demonstration and drawing tutorial. At the end they had a trivia contest to determine who got the piece and I walked away with a full size sketch of the Man of Steel himself. So all that and some damn nice art too. Not bad,  if I do say so myself.