Tag Archives: DC Comics

Review of a couple of freebies from SDCC

As many of you know, San Diego Comic Con is now a hot spot for freebies and exclusives. I’m a comic purest enough that I have no idea what special toy items were there…and I don’t really care. But man, the lines were long for some of them. Thousands of attendees lined up for the freebies in many of the major booths. I walked by the DC booth once to see a well-oiled freebie machine as con attendees were walking through at a steady pace receiving free DC swag from several staffers. Actually, a pretty impressive site.

Even though I wasn’t after any of that, I managed to grab a couple of free comics simply by walking by and having a copy offered to me. I gladly took them, of course. Free comics!

AfterworldTwo such free comics were Colonel Corps by DC Comics and Afterworld by Panini. I read both of them and though they may “look” similar in quality, they are far from it.

I read Afterworld first because it looked a bit cooler than a comic with multiple KFC Colonels. The cover featured a shirtless barbarian wielding a nasty axe preparing to take on a few soldiers. Even flipping through the book, the art is actually pretty good. I have no idea who any of the creators are: Stefano Vietti=script; Gianluca Gugliotta=art; Stefano Simeone=colors. All of the names other names (editors, etc) are Italian, so this may very well be a comic made in Italy and translated for the American market. That’s purely a guess, though.

Wait. Did I say “translated?” Silly me. In the 12 pages of art, there are only 254 words…and that includes the sound effects and “to be continued.” That averages to about 22 words per page.

And there’s the problem. I have no idea where the story takes place. I have no idea who the barbarian is. I have no idea why the soldiers are after him. I have no idea how he goes from defeating the soldiers to suddenly finding himself in a cage.

And then, when I learn the “story” is continued…I just don’t care.

At the end of page 7, we suddenly get some first person narrative of the main barbarian character who wonders how one of the enemy soldiers can be quick…or disappear. We, of course, never learn which it was. Like I said, I just don’t care.

KFC02Colonel Corps claims to be the 2nd issue…and it may very well be, but I’d never heard of it before. That said, even though this story was silly-goofy, I always knew who the characters were and where they were doing what they were doing: Evil Colonel Sunder stole the secret recipe and split it unto parts with alternate world good Colonels getting a single part. Good Colonel has to put together a team of Colonels (the Colonel Corps) and stop evil Colonel Sunder and get the missing parts of the recipe back). And this story had a multitude of characters, so of the two, I SHOULD be confused in this one.

But I wasn’t. Of course, it shouldn’t surprise me because it was written by Tony Bedard with art supplied by Tom Derenick (pencils) and Trevor Scott (inks). Derenick is a solid visual story-teller and Bedard knows what’s necessary in the text for the reader. It’s not over-written by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just nicely done!

As a side note, Colonel Corps also has a nice homage cover to the JLA #1 cover by Kevin Maguire.

Of the two freebies, Afterworld was a waste of dead trees while Colonel Corps was a fun read. And no, you can’t have my copy!

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Comic Book Editing

It isn’t unusual that I get asked to read and offer critique or feedback on someone’s work. When I have the time, I very much enjoy it. I’m much more inclined to fill my time with friends’ work than with that of folks I don’t really know. And while I don’t really “advertise,” I also do editing work—y’know, that people pay me for—though I’m very particular on what I take on. Usually if someone just wants a quick “wha’cha’think,” the chances are more likely the lower the page count it. It isn’t that I don’t want to read their 600 page novel, but I just don’t have time.

Of course, that lack of time scares me sometimes. But that’s not what this post is about.

I enjoy comics/graphic novels most of all, and it’s in that format that I get called on most (prose being 2nd…well, only other).

But it’s also that format that tends to aggravate me the most because of the huge misunderstanding of the role of an editor in comics—even by people who have produced them. Please know that I’m mostly talking about those who really don’t what they’re doing even though they’re doing it.

It often happens like this: I get an email asking if I’d be interested in “editing my graphic novel.” I respond with 50 questions (content, audience, etc., etc.) It’s usually at this stage I find out the graphic novel—all 200 pages of it—is already finished. I generally respond, that “oh, you don’t need an ‘editor,’ you want a ‘proofreader.'” We then swap emails with them trying to convince me that no, what they really want is an editor, even though the entire book is already produced.

People, at that stage, the person who reads the book is no longer an “editor.” A “copy-editor,” maybe, a “proofreader,” for certain. And please don’t think I’m badmouthing copy-editors. They are a vital part of the production/assembly line, but that is not the role of the traditional comic editor.

A traditional comic/graphic novel editor is involved practically from the ground floor. Most often, the writer has submitted or finished a plot outline. At this stage, the editor can make broad story suggestions and it is fairly easy for the writer to make changes. From there, the writer breaks it down scene by scene, even page by page (meaning the printed comic page). This is done so the editor can get a sense of pacing; they can see what the writer intends to happen on each page and point out lulls in the story, or places that need more time/explanation. It’s then that the writer goes to script. At this point, the editor has read and commented at a minimum twice. Writing the script almost becomes an act of typing (yeah—not really, but you get the point).

Granted, once the art is done, the editor reads it again…but at that point, it’s almost an act of proofreading.

I enjoy editing…quite a bit. I enjoy helping a writer find that special thing that makes the story jump out.

Proofreading I do…but it isn’t at the top of my list of things I enjoy. It’s more mechanical that creative. There are many better proofreaders out there than me.

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Filed under Columns, writing

Happy New Year 2009

Well, 2009 is upon us, and if you’re like me, you’re wondering where 2008 went! We’ve now been in Oxford for exactly one year but we still feel so very unsettled. Part of it, I think, has to do with the fact that we still don’t have a new home church. That’s been pretty hard on the family. We haven’t been without a home church since around 1998—10 years!

The kids seem to be doing well in school and BJ at work, but most of it comes from the fact that I’m stuck in that in-between world. I didn’t get accepted into the grad program last year. The director told me that they accepted only 3 applicants out of 80-something. I’m going to apply again this year, but not just for the one program as I did last year. Instead of putting all my eggs in the MFA program, I’m going to try for the PhD program. We’ll see what happens.

I was very fortunate this last year to have picked up freelance editing work for Campfire Kids (then Elfin) where I edited about a dozen graphic novels—Classics Illustrated style work. I also picked up some freelance editing work from my good pal Jim Chadwick at DC Comics and did some English Translation editing of some Japanese comic titles (Dorothea and Key to the Kingdom, if you’re interested).

On the writing side, I made a lot of progress on novel #3 before getting writing assignments from Campfire. I scripted Graphic Novel adaptations of Huckleberry Finn and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and am currently discussing my next assignment with the editor there. I made some good contacts at ACFW Conference in September, and now have an editor interested in my novel The Gifted. She’s asked for some revisions, which I’m happy to provide. I’ve said all along that I want an editor/publisher who feels as passionate about the message of The Gifted as I do. I feel pretty good about this one (no, not naming names yet), but time will tell yet.

I spent most of my writing time in November trying to turn Buying Time into a screenplay. One of the groups to which I belong forwarded around a message about a Christian Screenplay competition. The deadline was Dec. 1 and although I busted hump to do it, I couldn’t make the deadline. I’ve decided that I’ll continue to do it for next year’s competition, though. It was difficult work, but fun.

I started/joined a critique group in October which started and then fizzled. We’re going to try again in a week or so—we agreed to wait until the new year and try again.

I’m not big into resolutions; very rarely make them. But this year, I’m going to resolve to stop drinking Coke. Brittany’s softball coach has told the girls they can’t drink Cokes. I remember my football coach in high school telling all us the same thing. I think this will help support her AND help me lose weight. I did well walking on the treadmill in November and December, but I didn’t see any real weight loss. That was frustrating. So, I’m thinking if I give up the Cokes and continue the treadmill, that’ll help.

That’s the plan anyway.

I have a feeling 2009 will fly by just as quickly!

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