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Under The Hood of the CARS Comics: Getting to Radiator Springs

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With the Disney publicity machine gearing up for the release of CARS 3 in June I’ve seen a renewed interest in the CARS comics that I was lucky enough to write back in 2009/2010 following on from the original CARS movie. So I thought it might be fun to post a few short articles reliving my time hanging out with the denizens of Radiator Springs¬† and sharing a few of the behind the scenes insights, and some of the references, homages etc. that we sneaked into the scripts.

Getting to Radiator Springs.

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I’m often asked how I landed the gig to write the CARS comics, and my answer is that I simply begged to do it. It was at ComicCon 2008 in San Diego that comics publisher BOOM Studios announced that they would be producing a line of comics based on the Disney*Pixar movies. The announcement also included the news that the editor of the new line would be one Paul Morrissey, who had joined BOOM from manga publisher Tokyopop. It so happened that Paul had been my editor at Tokyopop on the GOD SHOP project.

As a total gear-head CARS was my favorite Disney*Pixar movie, I also think it is a straight forward fun movie with a great message even if you aren’t that interested in cars. So at San Diego I tracked down Paul and basically begged saying something along the lines of, “I don’t care what anyone else is pitching for, I want to write the CARS comic.” It turned out that most people had asked about writing The Incredibles, or Toy Story*, so the list I was competing with was shorter.

As we walked and talked I pitched Paul a story I had in mind that he seemed to like, so he asked me to come back the next day with four story ideas. I was back at the BOOM booth at 8:00am the next morning with five, the last one being a throw away idea of doing a ‘prequel’ to the movie that told Lightning McQueen’s back story that I knew that Disney would never let me do. I mean if anyone was going to do an ‘origin’ story for one of their lead characters it would be Disney. Right?

Paul reviewed the ideas and took them to Disney, who also approved them. The last day of the convention I got the news from Paul that I was to be the writer on the new CARS comic book series, oh and Disney wanted to kick things off with the origin story.

It was time to start writing – Ka-Chow!

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* I also¬† also asked to pitch for Toy Story and developed a four issue story arc that was approved and even announced and promoted, but that never saw the light of day – but that’s a whole other story for another blog entry.

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November Rambles.

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I’m in the middle of doing some research for an essay that is scheduled to appear in a friend’s business book, but decided to take a quick break to do my monthly update post (Although I just realized I missed last month – oops).

The essay in question is the last of the various essays and short stories I had scheduled for 2016. By my count I now have the following work sitting at various publishers waiting for projects to be completed and published:

  • Short story featuring Rick Ruby, Private Eye
  • Short story featuring Allan Quatermain (and special guest).
  • Essay on Action Man
  • Essay for a Star Trek Original Series project
  • Essay for a Star Trek: The Next Generation project
  • Essays for two business books

Hopefully some of these see the light of day over the coming months.

For 2017 I’ve decided to take a short sabbatical from accepting these sort of short side assignments and focus on completing my four major ongoing projects.

  • The FORGOTTEN CITY comic book series (of which I have the final three issues to write).
  • Complete the revisions and additions to the James Bond Lexicon
  • Complete the research phase for the U.N.C.L.E. Lexicon
  • and get a polished draft together for my novel-in-progress.

So here’s to focus and a productive year ahead at the keyboard.

The June Ramble

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June was a month of Conventions and Quatermain. So let’s start with our favorite jungle adventurer. As I mentioned in last month’s Ramble I’d heard that there was an audio edition of my Allan Quatermain story “Golden Ivory” in production. Well a few weeks ago it was released on Audible.com for download and your listening pleasure. As a side note voice actor Jem Matzan posted an interesting article on his blog about how he decided on the different character voices. Its an interesting behind the scenes insight into a side of producing an audio adaptation that I hadn’t thought much about. When I write a story the characters tend to have distinctive voices in my head, but I never imagined having to produce those voices for real, and how you would go about that.

This month I also finished and turned in my new Allan Quatermain novella “Stones of Blood.” The story is scheduled to be included in the upcoming second volume of Allan Quatermain: The New Adventures. I can’t say much about the story as yet, but as a taster it does include a reference to this somewhat incongruous historical scene.

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The two conventions in June were very different in size and scope, but were both great fun. Early in the month was the Peoria Artists and Comics Expo, just in its second year. It was a friendly local con, and we had a great time chatting with a lot of first time convention goers. I also participated in a panel entitled “Storytellers” which proved to be a fun exchange with a interested and engaged audience.

The following weekend I was off to Houston, Texas for Comicpalooza. I last did this show four or five years ago, and boy has it grown in the meantime. Now covering all three floors of Houston’s main convention center, it was a lively and bustling show with something for every member of the family, and every branch of pop-culture and science. It was also one of the best organized large conventions I’ve attended. I appeared on several panels covering subjects such as “Marketing for Writers,” “What Editors Really Want,” “Sherlock is Everywhere,” and “Alternate History.” All were great subjects and the panels were fun and informative. I also got a chance to catch up with several friends, and make a few new ones along the way. One of the highlights of Comicpalooza for me was the “Pros At Cons” podcast interview I did with the team from CCP Comics. It was one of the most relaxed and wide ranging interviews I think I’ve ever done. You can find it on-line at SoundCloud.

Next up on the convention list is a return to one of my perennial favorite events, ArmadilloCon in Austin, Texas. You can catch me there between July 29th and 31st.

Writing-wise the focus for July will be the continuing work on planing and plotting the last three issues of the FORGOTTEN CITY comic book series, and the ongoing editing and rewrites for the James Bond Lexicon project.

Have a fun summer, and I’ll be back next month with more updates.

 

 

 

 

 

The May Ramble

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Once again I just manged to sneak in under the wire with this month’s update on various writing related goings on.

Work continues on editing and updating the James Bond Lexicon manuscript to include the newest 007 adventures including the latest movie, SPECTRE, as well as novels such as Trigger Mortis, Shoot to Kill, and the Vragar comic book series. My own personal 007 adventures continued with a great weekend earlier this month with fellow members of the Ian Fleming Foundation as we moved the IFF collection of vehicles into a new larger workshop home. (Here I am hanging out with the helicopter that chased Sean Connery’s Bond in From Russia With Love).

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While the Bond Lexicon may be still be someways away from publication, it looks like there will be at least two books published this year that will contain a few words from me.I have handed in my essay on Action Man for the upcoming Joy of Joe book celebrating the worlds of G.I. Joe. And I was delighted to find out that the Star Trek themed charity project Outside Boldly Goes is now scheduled for release later in 2016. This fun project includes my take on the classic Trek episode “Spectre of the Gun”.

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Another cool surprise this month was finding out that there is an audio version of my Allan Quatermain novella, “Golden Ivory“, in production. I’m looking forward to hearing that.

On the comics front I completed and turned in the scripts for the new licensed comics gig I mentioned in the last few newsletters. Unfortunately the publishers and studio involved decided to make some significant changes to the length and tone of the projected series, so my scripts now won’t be used. A shame, but it was a good learning experience. Work on FORGOTTEN CITY continues with the first trade-paperback collection almost ready for publication. Plans are in place for the final three issues (#13-15), while work continues on producing issues #6-12.

Talking of comics, I’m looking forward to two great comics conventions in the next few weeks with the Peoria based Artist & Comics Expo taking place the weekend of June 11th and 12th, and then it’s off to Houston, Texas, the following weekend for Comicpalooza (June 17-19). Hope to see some of you there.

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Secret Origin

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That may look like a typical small florists on an English village street. But it holds a secret.

For during my childhood it was not a florist, but the local newsagents. One day in mid 1969 there appeared a strange contraption by the door, something called a spinner-rack. And it was loaded with garishly colored comic books from a far away land.

Yes this store is the very place I picked up a copy of Flash #186, my first American comic book!

Literally a life changing moment.

My own secret origin revealed!