Tuesday, 3 December 2013

This Title is Five Words.

I think everyone who writes should try their hand at writing comics.  While some readers might disregard this as easy writing for children or emotionally stunted 30-something males, I would like to see them try to tell a cogent story within the sticky parameters of 25 words per thought bubble and 50 words per panel--all within the industry standard 22 page issue.  Develop characters.  Hint at backstory.  Foreshadow future events.  Create emotional connections to dynamic characters that didn't exist before you put pen to paper.  Novels typically run 70-100 thousand words.  I'm not saying those are a walk in the park to write either, but at least there is lots of room to work.

I recently edited a PhD thesis for a friend of mine who favoured long sentences that would have made even a Victorian writer raise a sooty brow.  It is harder to be concise than long winded.  Comics, by their very structure, force the issue so that every word counts.  Unnecessary dialogue or narration block the art and weigh down the pacing of what is generally an action-oriented story.  These things always walk a fine line though, because while brevity may be the soul of wit, you can also cut so much that the story ceases to make sense. I know I have occasionally read comic books where I found that to be the case.

Ever since I got the feedback from the Top Cow fellow about tightening dialogue further so that nothing extraneous weighs down the story, I have been toying with the notion of going back over the Holger scripts to see if there is anything that I can tighten the screws on.   The thought makes me nervous though, because --while I can bear the idea of a rewrite--I hate the idea of Cody having to redraw any of issue #1.  However, if the submission/rejection process has taught me anything, it is that excellence is a matter of practice, repetition and perseverance more than raw talent or a lucky break.  Those with an overabundance of talent (or, lots of fortuitous encounters) rarely have to improve on what they have already.  Even more hobbling, they haven't learned to persevere through difficulty or rejection and therefore never attempt what doesn't come easy.  So, perhaps I should revel in the idea of a redraw because it will serve to enhance Cody's talent, develop his perseverance et cetera, et cetera.  Or, at the very least, --if rewriting doesn't prompt redrawing-- I might get some good out of it.  Practice, if not resulting in perfection, results in a better outcome; a faster output and less emotional attachment to the product of your labours (which will be of monumental importance when you get to the rejection stage of the game.)

So, whatever you are working on: work more.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Send Thank You Notes.

I'm back.  I have returned to posting after temporarily fighting off the nefarious duo of Ambivalence and Malaise, and now take this quiet moment to post in order to encourage and uplift all those who yearn to hold the crisp, published pages of HOLGER DANSKE: THE ONSLAUGHT in their eager little fingers.

First off, there are no Holger Danske related updates to relate.  Why? Well, let's get to that in a later post so we don't lose momentum like a comic book project going nowhere fast...

On the upside, Cody and I have finally cracked the published world with the advent of THE ENERGY TRADER which was published on November 8th by Cloudscape Comics in their e-anthology EPIC CANADIANA.  It is available for purchase on their website as a downloadable PDF. It retails for $2.95 and Cody and I even get a kickback!  That is something to smile about--though, I haven't gone out and bought an island in anticipation of selling the film rights just yet.  I can't speak for Cody, though.  He's reckless like that.

Another positive bit of news is that I finally received the feedback we were promised for our story that we submitted to Top Cow Comics talent hunt last year.  Obviously, we didn't win a chance to write or draw for Top Cow, however, the experience was useful nonetheless.  Unfortunately, the feedback was only on the story and not the art which I assure you, was up to Cody's usual perfectionistic standards.   The critique was the first of its kind that I have ever received on any work that I have submitted anywhere.  The conscientious reviewer at Top Cow gave praise and suggestions for improvement and said that our action beats were excellent and that our characterizations of their established characters were spot on.  He suggested tightening dialogue further, meaning that everything that doesn't directly move the plot forward should go.  Always a tricky balance to strike but especially true in the case of comic books where brevity is the soul of 22 page story arcs.  He also said that we had talent and that we would be a major contender in their contest this year.

Alas. We aren't participating this year.  However, it is nice to know that we aren't missing the mark by a mile but by inches.  The problem is, a miss by inches is still a miss.  But we aren't completely crazy in pursuing this--apparently, we just need to be rejected a few more times in order to refine our craft.  (Or, maybe we'll have it down for next time. That would be amazing.)

(I sent a thank you email for his feedback and heard back immediately.  He was just saying thanks for my thanks--completely unnecessary!  I need to find a way to harness that sort of responsiveness for queries. )

Sunday, 10 November 2013

New blog...same great content!

Hello...and welcome!
What you're looking at is the online home for Holger Danske: The Onslaught...an original comic work by Morgan Wolf and me, Cody Andreasen.
If you're a long-time fan, you know that we have once again changed the format of our website.  You'll also know that we've been on a bit of a hiatus for a short while.
After being hacked for what I can only assume were inexplicable and misguided reasons, we've had to revert to our blog-type home.
But fear not! Here, you'll find the same great content as always.  Hilarious and thoughtful blog updates, lots of art from Holger Danske and, of course, the once-regular webcomic you've all grown to love: Useless Degrees at Work.
There will also be new content coming shortly...some samples from a recently-published eBook anthology that we contributed to, as well as future projects we continue to work on.
So, have a look around...sign up your email for notifications.
And, of course...tell your friends!