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Character Sketch #2 -“The Staircase Is Over There!”

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The voice cut across the hotel lobby with the subtlety of a sledgehammer meeting a sheet of plate glass. Every conversation stopped and a percentage of heads turned to identify the source of the strident location finder.

She stood imperiously at the far corner, as far physically from anyone else as possible with her right arm raised, her be-ringed finger pointing in the direction of the aforementioned stairs.

This was a woman who demanded attention, even if she rarely received it. Physically small in stature she projected a voice that seemed impossible for someone of her build. Her lung capacity must be formidable. The lean worn face wore a haughty air of frustration beneath a layer of inexpertly applied make-up. Her bleached blonde hair fell straight and limp. Her shirt displayed a cascade of fringes and garish embroidered patterns of indeterminate origin. The fashionably torn jeans tunneled into a pair pf cowboy boots which seemed to be equally adorned as the shirt.

The woman shrugged, turned, and entered the open elevator doors behind her. The door slid shut and she disappeared from sight.

Conversations resumed, while a few of the hotel guests looked around to see who the directive had been intended for, yet no-one seemed to move in the direction of the indicated stairs. – The recipient remained a mystery.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.