Odds, ends & everything in-between

A little of everything for all tastes
A little of everything for all tastes

It’s spring break this week, so script progress has been somewhat limited, but at least it’s still happening.  In the meantime…

-Had an unusual case of writer’s block yesterday. Scene notes in the outline had the main character asking something completely out of the blue, and I didn’t want that. Just couldn’t fix it, so rather than sit and stew in frustration, I stepped away. Potential solutions have been brewing ever since.

-Been reading some great material from assorted gurus – check out recent scribblings from Lee Jessup, Erik Bork and Michele Wallerstein. Each has some info and comments worth hearing.

-For all my fellow Passover celebrants, do NOT be misled by the way Manischewitz portrays its products on the packaging. Just about every one of their items tastes the same, no matter what it looks like. Trust me on this one.

-Seriously considering entering DREAMSHIP in the Tracking Board’s Launchpad contest. deadline is Sunday night. Details here.

-2nd year in a row of not being able to attend Wondercon this weekend in Anaheim. It’s usually here, but the idiots who run the venue can’t get their act together so it’s down in SoCal again. Hope fading it’ll return for 2014.

-Movie of the Moment:  Since it’s spring break, V and I had a double feature yesterday.  First up was OZ THE GREAT & POWERFUL (2013). Liked it, but didn’t love it. Thought it felt kind of sluggish in parts.

And you know how an antagonist’s goal is supposed to be contrary to that of the protagonist?  Didn’t really get that here. If they really wanted to stop Oz, wouldn’t they have been more active, rather than just sitting around?

Still, nice to see Sam Raimi include Bruce Campbell’s obligatory cameo, and I think I figured out where the 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 made its appearance (courtesy of a teaser from Campbell himself at a personal appearance a few weeks ago).

-Second movie was JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (2012)  Never saw the first film – JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, but this looked like something V would like, and she did. Family-friendly Disney-esque adventure with some honest laughs (courtesy of Dwayne Johnson and Luis Guzman). Not a bad choice for family movie night.

-As always, what are you working on this weekend?

>Insert monkey pun here<

Don’t know how I could have forgotten, but earlier tonight I suddenly realized that APE is next weekend.  APE is the Alternative Press Expo; sort of a mini-Comic Con for small and/or self-published comics.  It’s very anti-mainstream, and there’s always some good stuff to be found.  Definitely cheaper to go there than to the big cons.

I’ve gone for a number of years with my pal Neil.  He’s always been more into the darker stuff, despite his sunny exterior.  And after years of not being allowed to go, since some of the stuff is very adult in nature, V got to go with us last year.  She enjoyed it, especially since there was more kid-friendly stuff than I remember.

Some of the artists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting include Keith Knight, Raina Telgemeier, Gene Ha and Ted Naifeh.  Each has produced really great material.  Check ’em all out; buy their books.

APE has always been a later-in-the-year alternative companion to Wondercon, but not so this time. Due to renovation work at the convention space, the powers that be are moving it to Anaheim for 2012, with the intent of coming back to San Francisco in 2013.  There’s some skepticism that it will return.  I really hope it does.  It would really suck if it doesn’t.

There’s definitely something about being able to leave the house, drive ten minutes and walk onto the convention floor.  Everybody should be able to do that.

Does whatever a spider can

I’m trying to figure out a couple of major story details on DREAMSHIP, so the rewrite is on hold.  No way this thing will be done for the Nicholl, which I’ve come to terms with.  But the way things are developing now, this is going to be all kinds of awesome.

So while the creative side of my brain works things out, the analytic side has also been busy.

Like writers are supposed to, I try to read as much as I can. Granted, most of my most recent stuff has been comics-related, partially due to going to WonderCon a few weeks ago.

Since money isn’t exactly free-flowing, I splurged and spent $20 for the hardcover edition of KICK-ASS. I saw the movie when it was in theatres, and enjoyed it. Not a lot, but just enough. I knew it wouldn’t be a huge hit. The target audience was too small, and comic nerds are notoriously picky.

But the book itself is great.  The story for the most part is the same, but a few of the subplots are completely different, which actually works in its favor.  For example, in the movie, Dave hooks up with the girl. Not here.  And most likely to placate Nicolas Cage, Big Daddy’s part in the movie is much bigger, which also works.

Basically, I have no problem reading the book again, but not much desire to see the movie again.

The first issue of the second miniseries, KICK-ASS: BALLS TO THE WALL, was available at WC, but I’m opting to wait until the whole thing’s collected in a book again.

I’m more a DC guy than Marvel, but a few years ago, I picked up the first two volumes of THE ESSENTIAL SPIDER-MAN, which are basically small phone book-sized tomes reprinting approximately 20-some issues of said title in black and white.  And this one company is always selling them for half price, which is usually about eight bucks a book, which is a bargain.

I’d seen reprints of the first issue, and introductions of some of the classic villains in reprints and on TV, but this was my first chance to really take a look at the original source material.  Only drawback – no color. But still…

Stan Lee and Steve Ditko caught lightning in a bottle.  Once you get past some of the corny dialogue, the stories overall are a thrill to read.  The first issues have a raw quality, both in terms of character and execution.  But everything slowly becomes more refined as the issues progress.  Especially the art, but more on that in a second.

Lee seems to live for hyperbole, but in a weird way it really fits here.  The combination of Peter’s everyday life and Spidey’s adventures mesh really well (but the Peter-lamenting-the-hard-life-of-being-a-superhero routine does get a little repetitive after a while.).  It would be great to know how much planning went into character development before the writing and art were combined.

I’d also add that Spidey’s rogues gallery is definitely one of the best, comparable only to Batman’s. The Green Goblin (always one my faves), Doctor Octopus, the Sandman, Kraven the Hunter. Each one original and unique.

I read somewhere that Steve Ditko said a hero’s costume should have some kind of true uniqueness so you can always recognize who it is, no matter how small a part of the costume you see.  Definitely holds true for Spidey.

I wouldn’t call it a problem, but Ditko’s art in those first issues is almost too hard to take.  It seems almost rough and unrefined, but gets better and more details as it goes along.  It’s a world of difference between those issues from the mid-sixties and the smooth lines of John Romita into the early seventies.

When I was in college, people would often ask why I read comics. My standard answer was pretty simple: it’s good storytelling.

Screenwriting is kind of similar. I’m creating a totally unique and original world, just in a different medium. And having a blast in the process.

First step up the mountain

I finally read through my DREAMSHIP notes from the fine folks at ScriptQuack.  Very impressive.  They did a great job of letting me know what the script needs to improve.

So with just under a month to go before the Nicholl deadline, I’m taking their suggestions and trying to rebuild this thing from the ground up.  I had a feeling it may be an extensive rewrite, and I was right.  There’s a lot that has to change.

It’s not insurmountable, but I will call it formidable.  This is really going to require a daily effort.  I think I can get through Act One by the end of this week, then really concentrate on Act Two, where most of the rewriting is necessary.  Act Three I’m still figuring out.

-Final comment on Wondercon.  Fun as usual.  I got to see it from both the Dad and Casual Comic Geek perspectives.  For the former, that involved stopping at all the video game booths, looking for Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and commenting on anything and everything V saw.  Since we went on Friday, it wasn’t that crowded. Overall, a good time.

I returned Sunday with my pal Neil. We usually spend less time among the vendors and focus more on the self-publishers and independents. They’re always more interesting anyway.  I may not be crazy about some of the subject matter, but there’s a certain charm to them and their work. It’s really great to see somebody doing what they love, and a lot of them have a lot of talent.

Even better, you don’t have to wait for hours on end to get an autograph or tell them you like their stuff, and they seem happy to talk to you.  I’ve always tried to support the little guy.

Movie of the Moment:  We watched THE EXPENDABLES last night. Mega-cheesy throwback to the 80s.  Stallone wrote and directed it.  From a writer’s perspective, it could have used a few more rewrites.

I was expecting it to be more mission-centric, but it just dragged and took forever to get to the interesting parts.  K said this would be a perfect Filmsack movie.  I agree.

Tonight we started RED. SO much better.  But it’s Warren Ellis, so I’d expect nothing less.

Exhiliration & frustration

Definite progress today.  Still not to the end of Act 2, but the gap is closing.

I like what I came up with, but am already trying to figure out whether it’s the perfect fit.  For now, it works and will help me move ahead.

One particular scene starting getting too silly and seemed very out of place, so I scrapped it and started again.  The benefit being I now know what NOT to use.

I may actually have semi-normal hours tomorrow, so I can work on it a little longer than I have been.  I’m really hoping to be done with the whole outline by the end of the month, or at least before Wondercon, which is also rapidly approaching.

I also plan on reviewing the Black List script THE LAST SON OF ISSAC LEMAY, a gritty Western. Lots of blood and gunfire seem to be the two main focuses.

Movie of the Moment: MICMACS, by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who also did AMELIE and THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN. Off to a very whimsical and entertaining start, but that means cutting this short since I have to pay attention to the subtitles.