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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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July Rambling at ArmadilloCon

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It’s great to be living back in Texas. This month saw us move back to our adopted hometown of Austin after a few years away. We really missed the creative community here and the “welcome home” messages have been humbling and overwhelming.

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One of the staples of our years in Austin has been the annual get together at ArmadilloCon and this year will be no different as I’ll be rounding out the month at the convention participating the following panels:

Friday – July 29th

  • Book Collecting
  • 6:00 PM-7:00 PM Ballroom E
  • Muenzler, Person, Porter*, Weisman
  • Panelists will tackle topics including: choosing what to collect, finding collectible books, cataloging the collection, tools for managing a wish list, preservation, and determining the value of a collection.
  • Comic Books You Should Be Reading
  • 10:00 PM-11:00 PM Ballroom F
  • Benjamin, Mark Finn, Humphrey, Porter*, Rogers
  • What comics should we be reading, and why?

Saturday – July 30th

  • Art of the Short Story
  • Noon-1:00 PM  – Southpark A
  • Afsharirad*, Eudaly, M.A. Finn, Person, Porter, Scarber
  • What makes a good short story? How do you as a writer unlock this form?
  • Time Travel Stories
  • Sat 8:00 PM-9:00 PM Southpark A
  • Gibbons, Jewell*, Maresca, Porter, Schwarz
  • What time travel stories do we love in books and on screen? What are the pitfalls? What are the rules for telling time travel stories that work?

Sunday – July 31st

  • Writing as a Day Job
  • Noon-1:00 PM Southpark A
  • Allen, Chu, Ewing*, Fletcher, Porter, Sisson
  • How do you manage having writing as a day job, when you are not writing for yourself?
  • Autographing
  • Sun 1:00 PM-2:00 PM Dealers’ Room
  • Porter, Rose, Waldrop

If you’re in the Austin area, come along and join us for what is always a fun, engaging weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

Creative ADD?

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“So which of your various writing projects are you most passionate about? “

A work colleague asked me the other day after we’d spent several hours together stuck at Dallas airport and had killed some of the time by talking through the various non-fiction books, comics, short stories, and novels I have at different stages of production. On the surface it seems like an innocent enough question, and one that should be easy to answer. But it wasn’t, it really made me think.

After a few moments contemplation I gave what I think can be the only truthful answer:

“Whatever I’m working on at the moment.”

“I was just wondering beacuse they are all so different.” – Another good point. I have sometimes wondered if I had fixed on one subject area and focused all my creative endeavours around that, I may be better known as a writer.  Should I have had 11 books about The Beatles in the market place by now, instead of 11 books covering a wide variety of topics?  But that’s not me. I need to be trutful to myself.

When I joined Caterpillar in early 2013, I was asked to take a “Strength Finder” test, something that nearly everyone at corporate headquaters has done. I’ve traditionally been skeptical of these sort of HR profiling activities, but I must admit I was astonished by the results. They were spot on, sacrily so.

My top strength was listed as being a “Learner.” – And that’s why I write about lots of different subjects, characters, and time periods. I’m a learning junkie, and writing is a way to feed that. Each new project is an opportunity to learn about a new subject, new times, places, and people. An opportunity to meet and share with others interested in those same subjects. Opportinuties to do cool new things with cool people.

So what am I passionate about at the moment? James Bond (reference book), Harry Houdini (short story,) and the characters of Forgotten City (comic book series.)

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Another Year of Scribbling Stuff

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Looks like 2013 is going to be another busy year of throwing words on the page. I already have several projects running and a few more lined up for the coming year, and I thought it might be fun to see how they stack up.

Comics:

I have been working on a few CARS scripts for the Disney Publishing folks in Europe that should see print in the monthly CARS magazine at some point this year. Other stories ideas are in for consideration – so fingers crossed that I get to continue to hang out in Radiator Springs for a while longer.

I’m still working on the new science fiction comics series, FORGOTTEN CITY. I have now co-written 4 issues and written another 4 as the series’ solo on-going writer. Issues #9 and #10 are plotted out and next on the to-do list with plans for the story to go as far as issue 25. The publisher is still looking to finalize a distribution deal, so hopefully that will happen in 2013 and the book will be in stores.

There are also a few proposals and pitches sitting out there for different projects with a variety of comics publishers.

Fiction:

2013 promises to be the year of new titles from Airship 27 Productions fiction wise. This coming year should see the publication of The Ruby Files Vol. 2 containing my first short story about 1930s hard-boiled New York detective, Rick Ruby. Also in 2013 look out for The New Adventures of Allan Quatermain featuring my just completed novella “Golden Ivory.”

Short stories scheduled for the rest of the year include one featuring master escapologist Harry Houdini, and a second Rick Ruby escapade.

I’ve also started a new novel, on the “write a page a day” basis to see if I can keep going and get a novel length manuscript done by year’s end. I’m taking a totally different approach to writing this novel – I’ll probably blog more about that later in the year if things keep to schedule.

Non-Fiction:

The major focus this year is to get The James Bond Lexicon finished for the fine folks at Hasslein Books – and I have the Man From U.N.C.L.E. Lexicon lined up after that.

I’ve also had some early discussions about another business book – more on that, if and when it develops.

After listing it all out like that, I guess I am going to be a busy boy – so I guess I should get back to it. Deadlines wait for no man.

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!