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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Chatting With Comic Stars, Legends, & The Rollout Of Excellence

Mary MacArthur has released some step-by-step photos of how she put together the new cover for Bovodar and the Bears.

Ladies and gentlemen, the woman uses paints. Gouache painting, to be specific. The end product is amazing, I must say. However, seeing photos of the process of making the cover art simply blows my mind. The final cover art has been released to no one, as of yet.

And again, if you want some sneak peeks as to what we're working on, I recommend subscribing to our monthly newsletter. (Click HERE to go to the form.)

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As I was explaining earlier this week in my last post, I've been marveling at my need for an entirely new catalog of terminology in order to write out comic script for Mary.

On Facebook, I asked Jon Del Arroz and Chuck Dixon---yes, I'm talking about the famous up-and-coming comic artist as well as the famous comic writer for DC---about whether or not they had any experience in turning novels into comic books. The following conversation ensued (posted with permission):

Jack Mikkelson - Author Jon Del Arroz or Chuck Dixon, do you guys have any experience in turning novels into comic books? I'm basically re-writing the book! (Which is fine, of course.)

Chuck Dixon LOADS. My bestselling book is an adaption of The Hobbit. I've also adapted:
The Forgotten Man
Call of the Wild
Some of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books.
Some other fantasy series I forget.
Clinton Cash
and I'm currently adapting John Ringo's zombie novels.

Jon Del Arroz Yep I did Richard Fox’s ember War. It’s more work than just writing a comic from scratch I find!

Jack Mikkelson - Author  Wow. Makes me wonder what I've taken on. But I'll say this, I am enjoying this process.  Jon, did you start off writing books/novels? Or did you jump straight into comics?

Jon Del Arroz   I would say I started my first novel first but then I got bored and wrote a bunch of comics and went back into the novel after. So both ;)

Jack Mikkelson - Author I understand. Leaving a text medium for a visual medium is more gratifying, I find. You can easily see pictures. Text has to be poured through, requiring more work. More thankless than comics, I find.

Chuck Dixon My advice? Eye candy. Eye candy. Eye candy. And consider moving some of the action around so that it's better spaced through the story. There HAS to be something going on visually ALL the time.

Jack Mikkelson - Author Noted. Thanks! I'm thinking that areas that drag a bit with dialogue should be punctuated with later action. For example, after a short spate of dialogue, it skips into the future: "Meanwhile, 5 days later..."

Jack Mikkelson - Author  I've purchased the graphic novel adaptation of The Hobbit. I'll be studying this closely soon. Thanks for your recommendations. I don't suppose they sell copies of the comic script, do they? (Probably not.)  Oh, and one more question if I still have your attention. Do you find that graphic novels sell better and attract more attention than the regular print works do?

Chuck Dixon NO! If I've learned anything in all my time in comics is that the greater reading audience for fiction actively HATE comics. Prose has a MUCH larger potential audience. I mean, 1000 times greater. Comics have turned themselves into a boutique industry,

Jack Mikkelson - Author WOW. I thought that telling a story through the visual medium would be more accessible for wider audiences. This amazes me. Mr. Dixon, may I share this conversation we had today over on my blog later? I'm just amazed by this.

Chuck Dixon Sure!

I also got permission from Jon Del Arroz through Messenger to publish this shortly before I posted this blog post. 

I was very surprised when I read Dixon telling me that fiction readers HATE comics.  I've thought for a few years, now, that Bovodar's adventures would be best told through a visual medium.  But the idea that fiction readers would disdain a comic form of the novel?  I'd never considered that.  Perhaps videogames or shorts from the story on YouTube would do even better with audiences?  Who knows?  

I can say one thing, though.  This artwork that MacArthur is doing for this series is fantastic.  She puts a lot of attention, heart, and soul into the effort, and the end result is quality work.  It shows, it's impressive, and there will be more of it.  We have so much for you all.  It's a pleasure to tell this story for you guys.      

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Writing Comic Script: The Search For Body Gesture Terminology

Tonight, I was working on some things for my illustrator.  As this blog's readers will know, we're in the process of making Bovodar and the Bears into a comic series or a graphic novel.  In fact, subscribers to the newsletter (click HERE if you want to subscribe) will have already seen a preview of this comic series in this month's e-mail. 

Now, I find that writing fiction for an audience and writing a comic script for an illustrator are two completely different and very involved processes.  As many people are aware, when writing a work of fiction, you have to first put it on paper.  Then go over it to clean it up.  Then edit it again.  Then have someone look at it.  And maybe another person.  Then you go over it again.  You're always refining the work until it's presentable. 

But I am in the process of slowly transforming a novel into a comic book script format for my illustrator.  I'm doing this to give her a visual idea of what to specifically draw various scenes.  And describing a scene to an illustrator and describing a scene to a reading audience are two entirely different things. 

For example, several times in this process, I've been trying to explain to her a few gestures or facial expressions.  It would be helpful to have a catalog of body or hand gestures, as well as a dictionary/encyclopedia of facial expressions.  But I'm unsure if these things exist.  And if they do, I'm unsure I can currently afford such volumes.  Time will tell.

But I find it fascinating that I'm having to basically re-write an entire novel all over again---AND in an entirely different way---in order to pull these images out of the ether of my imagination, translate them through an illustrator, and get them onto paper for the rest of the reading/viewing world.  It's as though we are trying to psychically photograph a scene from another dimension that we can only visit in our dreams.  Writing comic script requires a knowledge of a whole new terminology, among other things.  It's been a fascinating medium to break into, and I can see so much potential in it.  Comics/graphic illustrations are set up more like a sort of 2-D theater, while raw text fiction remains an abstraction that not everyone will have the patience to see. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Civilized Animal Productions

Recently I have been following the work of Paul Aspen.  He runs an outfit called Civilized Animal Productions, which has been putting out a video every Sunday for at least the past month.  I've been enjoying his videos very much, I've talked to him personally, and the man is very helpful when it comes to organizing content output. 

This past month, Aspen's been discussing a writer's time management. 

One of the chief things I noted right away was when he brought up how writers have different energy levels for their writing.  For example, in a day, you might have only so much time for Grade A "pure creativity" content writing.  But you may burn through that after a while, and by the end of the day, you only have lower grades of "writing energy" that are only fit to be applied towards blogging or marketing efforts.

I'd recommend checking him out.  His website for Civilized Animal Productions can be found here.  You can also follow him on Facebook, as I have been doing, and watch his Sunday podcasts.  He's been quite helpful to me, and I would recommend him to other writers in need for some external advice.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Lord of the Two Lands, Part 5

I will admit, I've been watching The Thing lately.  (The 80s version and the one from 2011.)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

The old tycoon snarled and stomped and pointed his finger up at the count and his spokesman.  "How dare you play such tricks.  You honestly think we'll fall for something this far fetched?  Sorcery doesn't do things like this.  Street magicians do this.  We've wasted our time coming here.  Send my fire back to her flat when you're done with her."  He turned his back to the count, making his way off of the circular sidewalk.  He snarled again, adjusted his neck, and loosened his collar.

Yet then, he heard the shuffling of many feet behind him, and all of his colleagues once more spoke in unison with one voice: "Fashioned, was he, to be the sole ruler, the Lord of the Two Lands."

He turned and saw his associates and friends gathered around the obelisk, staring at him.  Behind the crowd towered the count.  He must have been over seven feet in height.  His delegate remained at his side, and in the back shadows stood his private security detail.  A moment passed.  The crowd flinched and woke from their spell.  Blinking their eyes and rubbing their hands, they looked at one another in confusion.

The count who stood as a statue for so long lifted his arms into the air, his palms facing upward.  He rolled his eyes back, closed them, and re-opened them.  Now they were white and almost glowing.  He opened his mouth, baring his teeth---his top two incisors sharp and pointy.  He looked upward into the sky, as did everyone.  Two lights, high in the air, descended to the place where they all were.  One light on each side of the obelisk hovered above the ground.  The count's head contorted itself, so that the nose came far out, and his ears rose up.  In the end, his head resembled that of an ancient Egyptian jackal.

The spy in the bushes cowered and lie prostrate on the ground, trembling and covered in sweat.  Surely all of the light will reveal my hiding spot, he thought.

The wealthy crowd stared with open jaws as they marveled at the count and the lights on each side of the obelisk.  The old tycoon stepped back to take in the scene before him.  All at once, everyone flinched and held onto their heads.  Then some fell to the ground on their hands and knees.  Others kept standing.  Their forms were changing.  One man turned a dark slimy green, his transformation ending once he resembled a man-frog.  Another fell down and metamorphed into a bull.  Other men and women moaned and cried out as they changed into other animals.

Smoke rose into the air amidst all the tumult, and the air reeked of burning cauterized flesh.  Some of the wealthy couples had their own security personnel waiting for them at the carriages, but when the noises, lights, and smoke began, all of the guards rushed up the stairs and beheld a cacophany of human beings caught up in a painful orgy of screeching, swelling, pulsing flesh, some being absorbed into one another, others fusing together.  Struck dumb with confusion, the guards of the aristocrats paused in fright at the roars, the bleating, and the screaming.  They couldn't make sense of the fangs, jowls, claws, batwings, and slithering, half-absorbed people, or the strange sight of half-man half-fish creature.  When they reached for their guns, they were gone.  As were the tazers and batons.  In short order they, too, fell to the ground and writhed in agony, themselves transforming until they became pigs.

Apart from the security men, three men, writhing on the ground, were dragged by an invisible force into each other.  Their clothes ripped from their bodies as though something was violently stripping them naked.  Their groans became muffled as their mouths disappeared, and in a gruesome display, the flesh of the trio formed together in one great mass with six legs sticking out, and the change continued until a single head of a lion emerged, and the six legs became that of six goat legs going around the main body of the creature like a wheel.  Another person, who it was the still-normal tycoon couldn't tell, was doubled up on the ground, their upper torso turned into the bust of a hawk.  Still another person was changed into a goat-man who fell over himself when he tried standing on his hooved feet.

When it all appeared finished, the frog-man and the cat-woman were dragged by an invisible force into one another, and when they fused, they became a two-headed creature---one head cat, the other head a frog---atop a base of spider legs.  While most of the other elites were transformed into animals or half-animals, this fusion of the tycoon's wife and the frog-man was the most unnatural of them all, and it caused the sweaty, flush old man to step back a little further.  This horrendous display was all for him.

"The express resemblance of the gods is changed into some brutish form!" laughed the count's spokesman.  "And they, so perfect is their misery, not once perceived their foul disfigurement, but boast themselves more comely than before.  And all their friends and native home forget, and they roule with pleasure in a sensual sty."

"Supreme Therion!" the wealthy man uttered, bowing.  "I have vast wealth.  Connections.  Infrastructure.  We can set up great things if we work together.  Tonight alone, you've liquidated over a third of my competitors.  Work with me!  Teach me your magick!  Let me be your corporate representative.  I have so much I can offer you!

A sharp pain suddenly brought the tycoon to his knees. His hair falling out, including that of his moustache and his eyebrows, he brought his hands to his face.  Something was happening to him, though he was not transforming as of yet.  Then, an invisible hand grabbed at his feet, dragging him screaming, until he was brought into the melded cat and frog creature.  After becoming absorbed into the monster, two more spider legs grew out of the creature's base, yet the original head of the man remained.  Thus, the creature was such, that it contained the head of a cat, a frog, and an old man atop a base of spider legs.

The count's smirking spokesman stepped towards the spider creature and crowned the old man's head with a wreath of leaves---a prop from the earlier play.  "My lord was more interested in a merger, I do believe."

The tumultuous herd of animals and creatures moaned and squealed, bleated and grunted.  The lights hovering on each side of the obelisk grew ever-brighter, until finally everything became white.  When the light disappeared, everyone was gone.  The man in the bushes breathed a sigh of relief.  He looked all around, but found there was no one there but him.  The count, his men, the rich aristocrats, and even the line of carriages were gone.  In fact, there were even a few people strolling the sidewalks.

Slowly, he made his way up to the obelisk, which now was only lit by the streetlamps that encircled it.  On the ground lay the cup and the necromancer wand from the earlier play.  He picked them up and found them to be harmless.  He quickly looked all around himself, swiftly returning his eyes to the two props in his hands.

"So there you are," said a voice.  He looked up.  It was the count's spokesman standing in front of him.  Behind towered the dark count, staring straight into his eyes.  "Did you enjoy your vacation?"
The fearful man fell back onto the ground, scooting away.  "No one who knows Lord Nobilious' name in this world escapes us.  You ought to know that."  He stood, turned, and bolted off toward the Great Lawn.  "It's time to come home," yelled the voice.

He thought he was well away and out of danger from the count.  But then, he found himself falling over, and rolling on the ground.  When he looked at his own body, he found he was no longer a man, but a dog.  He barked into the night and ran for his life out of Central Park.