Monday, July 27, 2009

San Diego... Part Two!

Friday night now, and...

Then, it was off to the big Oni/UTA/EA party. It was amazing. The party was held at the top floor of the ballpark that hosts the Padres. The night air was great, as were the drinks, the company, and the whole damn vibe of the night. Had a great time with Chuck BB, Jamie Rich, Chris Mitten and his girlfriend Michelle, the Oni folks, and many others. High points included humiliating myself by hovering around that new Spock dude, waiting to take his picture with Michelle, and telling my legendary M&M story (with photo, of course).

Speaking of photos, here's me with Chris Mitten and the lovely Michelle.

And, here's the same photo, with drunk-detector turned on. This is about how I felt at the moment.

After the party, it was back to the Hyatt. Saw my pal and former editor Aubrey Sitterson there, among others. Spoke to Colleen Coover briefly. but missed her man Paul Tobin. I partied pretty hard again, getting to bed at close to 3. I had not really had dinner, so I crashed equal parts hungry and tired. The next morning would take care of that, as I had a big breakfast scheduled with Hester, Ron Marz and Dan Jurgens.

First thing after the awesome breakfast Saturday morning was another signing at Oni. More good folks, including the lovely Pat Loika this time. Also saw my buddy and Ciudad collaborator Joe Russo. Then, I hit the con floor a little bit. Saw my pal Matt Wagner. The far end of the show wore me out in a fucking hurry. It was literally hard to move in some spots. Gah!

By the way... you know what is really the opposite of awesome? You're in a super-packed aisle, trying to squeeze through the sweaty masses when someone decides the need a picture of the dork in the Transformers costume walking in front of you. So, we all have to just freeze, out of some misplaced courtesy reflex, while this douche gets his photo taken. Bleccch!

Anyway, I got out of there in pretty short order. First was a meeting with my pal (and wonderful artist) Matt Haley. We had a drink at my hotel, the Marriott right next door to the show. Then, I ran up to the room, inked a sketch and took a nap. Back to the show briefly, as I really flirted with buying a really nice architectural drawing from '40s Miami. It was a gorgeous piece, but I couldn't afford it, so I settled for a crappy phone picture instead.

I guess it was the responsible decision. Then, time to get ready for dinner. Phil and I hooked up with Jon Lewis, Ron Marz, and many of the Top Cow folks for an amazing meal at El Vitral. Marz found this place and ate their three times during the show. I don't blame him. Gourmet Mexican. A meal to remember, for sure. The meal started with a remarkable cocktail... something with rum and cilantro. It tasted like an earthy, boozy milkshake.

After dinner, we stopped back at our room so I could pour myself a stiff Jack and Coke in a plastic cup (did I mention the lines at the Hyatt bars?) and stuff the flask in my pocket. At the Hyatt, I hung with Dave Gibbons (very briefly), John Layman, Hillary Barta, Seth Jones, and several of the usual suspects.

Hit the room, and the bed, after 2 sometime. Didn't sleep real well, and Sunday morning seemed too much like a morning. I was, finally, shot. Flying out early Sunday turned out to be totally the right choice. As I said above, I was home before the show ended, which was great by me. God, it was nice to be home and with the family. I brought everyone See's candy. Consumables are good. There's enough bullshit in our house without Comicon silliness adding to the chaos.

This year was probably the best time I've had at Comicon. A combination of my previously-mentioned modest goals and my newly-acquired writer comfort zone. It felt so good to go to the "big show" as a writer. It felt so good to talk to people about writing way more than inking. It felt good to talk to my Oni editor (the fantastic James Lucas Jones) with a clear conscience, with one book in the can and more on the way. And, of course, it's cool to go to the show with a light schedule and a peaceful frame of mind.


San Diego... Part One!

Back from the big Comicon funny book show last night. In fact, at the time I walked through my door, the show was still happening. I arrived in San Diego Thursday evening and left Sunday morning, so I really only had two days at the actual show. Really, that was plenty. My days of wandering the floor and checking out panels are in the past. I'm there to sign a few books, see my publishers and movie guys, and enjoy time with friends I don't see enough.

I decided several years ago that too much time on the con floor made me... um, cranky. You'd call it cranky when you want to rip the liver out of every lousy, stinky motherfucker that looks at you, right? I would. So, although I think I could make a little money at the show, doing so would require me to spend more. I doubt it could ever be much more than a break even affair for me. Thus, I decided to do the show with different goals in mind. I go to do the stuff I mentioned above. I go to network and spend time with folks that are important to my career, and to my life.

I told many friends at the show that the key to a successful Comicon were modest goals. My goals were just that, and I knocked them out of the park. The highlights:

Arrived at about 5:30 San Diego time. Just time to check in, walk to Ralph's (nearby grocery) to buy a bottle of Jack (you can't carry on flasks with booze in them, you know), and then head out to a dinner with the Oni Press and Closed on Monday folks. Oni publishes my graphic novels, and Closed on Mondays reps my stuff to Hollywood. They do a dinner at a nice Thai place every year. Had a few drinks (quite a few) and some good food, along with great chat. I am genuinely fond of the people I work with, and the entire stable of fellow writers and artists. Always nice to hang out with the crew.

After dinner, it was off to the Archaia/Days Missing party. It was great, too. The party was on the roof of a club. The weather was fantastic... cool and slightly breezy by about 10:30. I grabbed another free drink and hooked up with several friends... Andy Kuhn, Rob Levin, Alex Grecian, Jai Nitz, and others. We hung out by an open fireplace... very nice. I may have consumed a found drink. If so, it appeared to be untouched. That's all I'm sayin'.

Then, with my newly-found roommate and best pal Phil Hester, it was off to the madness of the Hyatt bar scene. If you've never been, the Hyatt lobby is enormous, spanning the hotel's two towers. At each end is a bar, and people go back and forth or hang outside, consuming the drinks they clawed through ridiculous crowds to purchase. Saw more folks... kind of becoming a blur. I know I went upstairs for a drink, meeting up with my friend Angela and some other podcasting folks.

At about 2am, Hester and I strolled back to Ralph's for a snack. Luckily, the store security and manager had no problem with my open Jack and Coke. I charmed the hell out of the manager. Security was just lazy. Anyway, Phil and I grabbed some food and wolfed while walking back to the room. I had a dry chicken wrap. Phil had a sandwich and some cake. We have different vices.

Friday was an early dip in the unbelievable Marriott pool, followed by an early signing at Oni, and a meeting with the publisher and the movie guys. Got the word on the various Hollywood projects, and heard some very nice things about the newly-completed Ciudad script. Everyone seems to dig it... very rewarding, even if they are biased. Nice to see Chris and Laura Samnee, Brian Hurtt, and Cullen Bunn at the Oni booth.

After the Oni thing, it really hit me that I had not eaten since Ralph's the night before. I managed to convince Andy Kuhn to join me at the Tin Fish, a great fried fish dive across the street from the con. Tried to invite Alex Grecian, but he gave me the high hat by turning off his phone. Fuck 'im. Had a great meal at the Fish... the fried sampler appetizer. Also, stole Andy's slaw and threw some Jack from my flask into my Diet Coke. Pretty sweet, all around.

Got back to the Marriott and gave my pay Mitch Brian a call. He's a KC screenwriter guy, but I don't see him often enough. Also, we may collaborate on one of the projects I pitched to Oni as the possible "next project". It was Mitch's first Comicon, so I bought him a cherry-popping celebratory margarita, and we talked about writer stuff and golf. Then, I hit the show again, but not for too long. Did I mention that place wears me out?

Friday night was a comedy show with Jason Aaron, featuring acquaintance and fellow comic geek Brian Posehn. I love hanging with Jason, and the show was a lot of fun. The venue, the Balboa Theater, is a grand old place. The show also featured Patton Oswald and Doug Benson. Lots of laughs, and a great way to break up the Comicon experience.

That's a wrap for part one of my Comicon report. Part two tomorrow!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday- Hats and Such

I don't post here often enough, so I thought I'd start sharing hats.

Yesterday, I was wearing this vintage Borsalino. It probably dates from the fifties. Very soft and light.

Oh... finished Ciudad script last night, too!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thursday... Damn That Ciudad!

Before I move into discussing my current writing project, I should mention that the re-release of my first graphic novel, Union Station, is almost upon us. I think the book will be in stores by the end of July. Please keep an eye out for it. The new cover is really swell. See?

So, on to more recent activities. As you know if you've been reading this blog much at all, I've been working on a book called Ciudad more or less full-time since March. Now, it's almost done. That's the good news. The bad news is that, as they say, that last step is a doosy.

I finished the first full draft a few weeks back. I then took a little time to put together some pitches for my next project. I probably should have taken time away from Ciudad to work on the pitches earlier, but I was really determined to wrap this book as quickly as possible. It was a test I set up for myself to see if I could function as a full-time writer. I think I did pretty well, wrapping the book in record time, by my standards.

Well... almost wrapping it. After getting the pitches done, I went back to do a polish on Ciudad, only to find that pulling teeth would be a party by comparison. I flat out did not want to go back in there. I can't say why, exactly. I guess I felt like I had done that hard work already, and revisiting would be tedious. It's hard to get the focus back. But, I know the work is not quite where I need it to be, so... I am fighting through it.

One really interesting part of the process was the realization, the night of July 4th, that the character Eva was not what I wanted her to be. I was watching fireworks with a bunch of friends that night, one of whom is the 16 year old babysitter friend of mine. This girl had served as my model for Eva early on. She has the right attitude and vitality. In talking to her briefly about the script, it hit me that I had strayed from those characteristics. Eva had become too much a victim. Just a five minute chat with this young woman made it clear to me that I could do better... that Eva could be more.

So, today is the day I've set for myself to be all done with Ciudad revisions. I think it's possible. I'll let you know.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday - and I Saunter Back In, as if Nothing Happened

Hey folks,

I didn't have the stomach to check when my last post was. I know it was a long, long time ago. Since that post, I've been on a lovely family vacation, all but finished one graphic novel, attempted to get several more started up, and done a bunch of other, less interesting crap.

So, I'm going to try to get back to blogging in a big way. As big as I can muster, anyway. I'll try to post on a daily basis for awhile. I should have enough shit to talk about after such a long break.

So, I'll start with Public Enemies. Before I get into discussing the movie, I should state up front that I have some level of personal involvement in its success or failure. If you're reading this, you probably know that my first graphic novel effort was Union Station (published by Oni Press, and being re-released any week now, with a shiny new cover and intro, since you asked). Well, my Hollywood guys have been trying to get Union Station made as a film for a long time now. At one point, we had just about everything lined up... screenplay (by the fantastic Doug Jung), director, financing... it was looking pretty solid. It was around that time that we heard about Michael Mann working on his own little gangster epic, with some actor guy you may have heard of.

So, long story short, Mann's movie got made, while Union Station didn't quite get that far along. It's still out there, and it still could get made. Of course, it's more likely to get made if Public Enemies is a huge hit. So, like I said, I have a stake here. Keep this in mind as you read on.

I like Public Enemies. I liked it a lot. I sometimes struggle with a film when I have so many expectations, good or bad, so it would probably be best to see it again in the theater, but I thought it was really good even upon the first nervous viewing.

The way Mann shot PE has been a topic of much discussion. He chose digital over film, and I thought it worked. Film might have been a little richer, but I have no problem with the digital look, even on this period piece. It looked a little grainy in a few scenes, but it still seemed appropriate to me... like we were on the scene as voyeurs. That's probably hypocritical of me, given that I hated the lens flares in Star Trek, but there it is. Like I said, maybe I'm not completely objective.

My two issues with the film are somewhat paradoxical. In a way, I wanted a little more distance. In another way, I wanted to pull in closer.

During some of the action sequences, I wanted a little distance. I understand the notion of pulling us into a chaotic gunfight almost as one of the participants, so that we feel a little disoriented. I mean, I would imagine that being in a gunfight is somewhat disorienting. Still, during the shootout at the Bohemia Lodge, I would have appreciated a wide shot that gave me more information about who was where. At times, I didn't know who the hell was driving away, who was getting shot, or who was doing the shooting. Still an effective scene overall, but an example of a sensation I had several times during PE.

On the other hand, the bigger flaw with the movie is that it needed more personal, intimate moments. I didn't enjoy the aforementioned Star Trek very much because I didn't ever care about anyone. PE was far better, but the same thing hit me... I wanted more intimacy, so I could care a little more about these people. I did feel for Dillenger and Billie at the end, but I could have cared more. I almost cared for Red, but not quite. In such a long movie, it seems Mann could have found time to slow down and let me know these people better.

On the other hand, Mann is a very thoughtful filmmaker, and I should assume that he made these choices deliberately. Maybe he wanted a surface-level view of Dillenger. I think most people have felt as I did, though... that we could have used a little more up close and personal.

Still, I think it's a terrific movie, and I'm pretty sure I would have thought so whether people seeing it is potentially good for my wallet or not. Depp is one of the best movie stars alive, the rest of the cast is fantastic, the movie looks phenomenal, and it's lively and enjoyable overall. Don't get me started on the incredible hats... we could be here all day.

So, please go see it. It's good, and it helps me out, too. Win/win.

Be back soon... I promise.