Tag Archives: Free Comic Book Day

Civil War Adventure (FCBD)

Since I’ve been in school the last two years, my “pleasure” reading has piled up. No, I mean that literally. I have a stack(s) of about 40 books that I’m finally getting to work my way through. Oh, I read plenty for school, it’s just that…well, it was for school and so it was kinda like work.

Anyway, I just recently finished reading Free Comic Book Day’s (FCBD) Civil War Adventure, one of the two books I picked up when I was also a guest at Heroes and Dreams down in Brandon, Mississippi. It was actually a book I encouraged Brett to get as he has a growing interest in history and the Civil War. He flipped through it, but it didn’t interest him. Yes, I was a bit surprised.

Now I know why. And, actually, I’m so relieved he didn’t pick it up.

The first thing that hit me was that it is very inappropriate for younger audiences. Or, to use terminology of today, it is certainly not family friendly! In an interview with Chuck Dixon, who wrote one of the stories in the book, he said, “Our work is family friendly stuff so there was no concern about content.” Whoa! He must have been talking about a different issue, because this one is replete with language that should earn it a PG-13 rating! And in the end, there is a detailed sequence on how surgeon’s amputated limbs of wounded soldiers. Very interesting, but also very visually graphic and NOT “all ages.”

FCBD’s site advertises the book as “historically accurate stories of the war.” Granted, I read elsewhere (probably the interview) that they were fictionalized accounts—but the publisher is promoting the accuracy. Unfortunately, an amateur’s mistake is made when the text indicates the Emancipation Proclamation “frees the slaves in the South.” Of course, even amateur historians know this isn’t the case, and that the EP was merely political posturing. Effective yes, but still merely a proclamation with no legal power or authority.

And to top it off, the stories are just bad. There’s no real reason to get emotionally attached to the disposable characters. “Gator Bait” (which makes most Southerners think of U of F football) gives all of about three sentences worth of information regarding blockade runners with no actual historical figures to teach us about. The jerk gets his due at the end—no real surprise there. The second story, “I rode with the devil,” is slightly better in that it touches on Bloody Bill Anderson and displays his violence on Jayhawkers. Problem with this story, though, is the central focus is on a fictionalized character that we don’t get the opportunity to really get emotionally vested in.

And to add insult to injury—though this will probably surprise very few Southerners—all the Southerners are portrayed in a negative light, while the one Northern-sympathizer is nice…his off-screen son is portrayed as evil, though. Of course, that portrayal comes from evil Bloody Bill.

Generally, I like Chuck Dixon’s work…that’s partly why I’m so surprised this is just so bad. I mean, he even uses “y’all” as singular!

Geez.

Don’t waste your money on this one.

Wait…it was free.

Okay, so don’t waste your time on it. I can list 50 things better and more accurate!

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Free Comic Book Day and the Comic Book Writer

Some of you know, but many of you don’t, that this Saturday is Free Comic Book Day in comic specialty shops all across the US. This year will be the 10th Annual Free Comic Book Day. What an incredible opportunity for budding comic writers to browse a list of potential “reference” books and come away with one for free! It’s also a great opportunity to meet local and nationally recognized creators as many of them (including myself! More on that below) will be making appearances at comic shops nationwide.

Comic writers will always be asked the question “do you draw, too?” Most comic writers who’ve been around long enough are used to the question and can roll with it. In fact, comic writers should anticipate this question because comic books are such a visual medium.

So what does a comic writer do?

While there are a multitude of variations, there are two basic styles of scripts used in comic books/graphic novels: full script and plot first. Long time comic book readers have likely heard them called “Marvel style” and “DC style” for the simple reason that long ago each company used a different style of scripts. Those styles are more interchangeable today, but some old-timers hang on to those terms.

A full script or DC style script is a finished script and once it is accepted by the editor, the writer is done. A full script contains a detailed panel description for each comic panel (the individual pictures on each page) in the entire comic. Some writers provide very basic art descriptions; some provide camera direction; and some provide very detailed descriptions of every tiny thing in the panel. Not only does the writer of a full script have to provide art direction, but he must include all of the text that the reader will see or read. This includes captions, thought bubbles and dialogue balloons.

A plot first or Marvel style script is done by the writer in two stages. The first stage is a plot only. The writer provides a detailed description of the actions happening on each page. Setting, mood, etc. is also covered, but very little—if any—dialogue is included. Writers will often suggest what the dialogue or thoughts will be simply to give the artist some direction in facial expressions and reactions. The artist then takes this plot and creates the visual, determining how many panels, etc. The finished art then goes back to the writer so that he can add in the captions, dialogue and thoughts, using the same plot that he provided to the editor and artist.

Obviously there are pros and cons to each style, but both work and proven successful over time. Regardless of style, a writer still must be prepared to tell a good story.

So, for all of you in the Jackson/Pearl/Brandon/Reservoir area, come out to Heroes and Dreams in Flowood this Saturday and pick up a free comic from the boys there! Hours are from 10am until 8pm. While you’re there, say hi to me and pick up my book, not one of the free ones—sorry. I will sign it for free, though! I’ll have to leave before 8 to get home—so come early! J

To find a comic shop near you participating in Free Comic Book Day, click here.

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