Tag Archives: Full Sail University

2018 Overview

We’re just a few days away from the new year so I thought I’d do my not-so-annual recap (generally done when WordPress prompts me with stats, which they did not do this year).

First, here is the Mann family annual Christmas/New Year video. We’ve got a couple of…guests with us this year…enjoy.

I did a host of comic conventions this year, that started with the very local (to me) Florida Pop Con. The show was poorly attended, but I saw old friends and made some new ones there. In March I did the one day Infinity Convention, near UCF and a had a great time. I was also a speaker/guest at the Coral Springs Literary Festival, a change of pace from the usual comic shows, and something I don’t do as much of since coming to Full Sail in 2011. I did one day at the always awesome Daytona Comic Con in April, and then did FCBD in May at ACME. I traveled up to Pikeville Comic Con in August with my comic-making traveling buddies Jeff Whiting, Barry Gregory, and Thomas Florimonte. The last part of the year felt busy as Jeff and I made road trips to ComiConway (an awesome convention!) and Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention in November, and then Nashville Comic and Horror Convention in December. I’ll talk about 2019 shows next week.

The day gig at Full Sail clipped right along. I’m sometimes surprised that I can work in the conventions above because work can often be a bit overwhelming. This year, I had adjunct classes from about February (or March?) on. What that means is that I had extra classes every month (and more grading). I got a new boss this year, too. The old boss is still there and rocking, but Full Sail inserted a position in between me and the old boss, making me two steps from her instead of one. It’s going well with him so far—he kept me around after my last annual review in October.

A highlight for the year was the successful launch, funding, and shipping of the new Cat & Mouse #1 comic. I worked with a great team of artists to get it done: Dean Zachary, Barb Kaalberg, and Kevin Gallegly. We’re waiting on Dean for #2, but we’re ready to go.

Family wise: BJ continued to work on and grow Dr. Mom Knows Best. If you’re into trying to live healthy and get the pharmaceuticals out of your life (and system!), you should check out her page. We’ve pretty much gotten rid of all over the counter medicines—about 95%.

My youngest, Brett, graduated from high school and is trying to figure out life. My oldest, Brittany, is still trying to make her way out in LaLa land (if you have something she can audition for, call her!). They both have added special someones to their lives.

Late in the year I had a health scare: seems my BP was high. Working on getting it down naturally, but taking BP meds for now and it brought it down to a manageable level. I didn’t realize there was a “get-to-the-emergency-room-NOW” high level until it happened to me. And no, I didn’t FEEL bad at all.

All in all, I feel blessed that 2018 was such a good year.

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Paragould Arkansas: Friendly Neighborhood Comic Expo

Hey all my NE Arkansas friends, family, and fans! I’ll be appearing as a COMIC GUEST at the Friendly Neighborhood Comic Expo this Saturday and Sunday in Paragould, Arkansas. It has the longest show hours of any show I’ve ever been to: Saturday is listed as 9am to 9pm and then Sunday from 9am until 7pm.

ParagouldFNCEOn Sunday, I’ll have my very own Q&A, which starts at 12pm—that’s noon for those of you who (like me), have a hard time remembering exactly if 12pm is noon or midnight. It’s noon, so show up and ask me some fun questions about working in comics as a writer or an editor…or about my cool day job teaching comic writing these days at Full Sail University!

This will be about my fourth time to appear as a guest at a show in the state of Arkansas, but only the second time as a “comic” guest and certainly the first in this part of the state. The first time I was a comic guest in the great state of Arkansas was in either 1999 or 2000 and was in Little Rock. I think the name of the show was “RockCon,” but I can’t find my notes from then, so I’m not sure. I DO remember that whoever it was putting on the show, treated me well.

The next time I was a guest was in 2010, and I was the Keynote Speaker at the Arkansas Writers Conference in Little Rock. My invite there, of course, was thanks to the writing retreats I’d done at the Hemingway Writers Retreats at the Hemingway-Pfieffer Museum and Education Center in Piggott, Arkansas. You can read about my fun experience as Keynote Speaker here: https://rolandmann.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/at-the-arkansas-writers’-conference/

I returned to Arkansas as an author guest in February of 2011 at Ozarks University in Clarksdale. Regrettably, it snowed that weekend and very few people attended the actual show. However, I still had a great time because I got to meet new people and make new writerly/artist friends.

So I’m very much looking forward to being a comic guest in Paragould. I’ve got a lot of family and friends in the surrounding area—my cousin (first cousin, for those of you keeping score), Dr. Kevin Mann is even a dentist in the area—so I’m hoping to see many of them during the two days.

As a diehard Razorback fan, I’d really like to be invited to do more comic shows in this state–hint hint to all you comic show coordinators!

See you Saturday and/or Sunday! Bring some stuff for me to sign, or pick something up from me there!

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How long?

Hi blog. Did you miss me? I missed me.

Seriously, though. Things have been a mess time wise, but I hope think they’re cooling down. I know, don’t get my hopes up because the holidays are right around the corner, right? Sigh.

My classes have been full, but I’ve made some cuts to the graded work and have actually gotten some help—so that is good. I still enjoy the heck out of the campus classes—I mean, what’s not to love about teaching comic writing, right?

Brittany receiving her diploma

Brittany receiving her diploma

In other big news, Brittany graduated from Full Sail–and she was the Valedictorian of her class! That’s right. Tis true. And she is anxious as everything to get to work! I’m pretty anxious for that to happen, too! Ha! The cool news is that in just the last few months she was cast in major roles for two independent films. She was the lead in Love Waits and is the co-lead in The Colors of Emily (she plays Emily). She’s slated for another big role in March, and The Colors of Emily is actually a trilogy and so she’s booked for both of those in the future. All in all, fantastic success out of the gate!

As you can see from the picture, Mom, Dad and Ang were able to come down for not only Brittany’s graduation, but for Thanksgiving. We had a great time, but man did it go by in a hurry. Brittany wanted to go to Hard Rock Café to celebrate…so we lost our hearing while we were there. I think we sat in the loudest spot in the place.

Brett marched for the last time, as well, and was pretty bummed about it. They put on a pretty cool end of semester show that wasn’t just the

Dad, Brett, Mom, Angie, Brittany, BJ, and Me at Hard Rock.

Dad, Brett, Mom, Angie, Brittany, BJ, and Me at Hard Rock.

band, but kind of an all-around “talent show.” We snagged the family picture one of those nights goofing around. The show was really very cool.

Cat & Mouse is in the hands of a couple of publishers now so it’s just playing the waiting game. I think it has a better shot with one more than the other…but my contacts are better at the other one.

An independent publisher is looking hard at trying to make The Gifted happen as a series of graphic novels. As an indy publisher, but biggest obstacle to getting a graphic novel done is the art. Even if it doesn’t happen, I’m thankful they are making the effort. I’ll talk about that more when I can, of course.

Nothing new on Beah, Citizens or Rejects, but you’ll be the first to know.

I’m also hopeful that I’ll get Buying Time on Amazon and Kindle within the week—hopefully before Christmas.

Okay…hopefully I don’t crash and burn before next week! See you then!

Us being us

Us being us

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2013 that was

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas!

The years keep rolling around like The Flash and I’m looking back on one again. Yeah, I’ll look forward next week! J

Like most years, 2013 was filled with highs and lows. It was twelve years ago that BJ and I calculated it out and figured out 2013 would be the year Brittany graduated from high school and start college. We just didn’t think it’d happen so fast. But, it did and our baby girl is now a high school graduate and a college freshman.

I began the year with the intentions of attending the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) again for the first time in a decade. MY how things have changed. While they graciously supplied me with a guest badge, I couldn’t even pay to get BJ and the kids in—we were going to make it a summer trip, a sort of post-graduation trip for Brittany (I promise, it’s what she wanted!). So that did happen. What did happen, though, was MegaCon in Orlando invited me as a comics guest and then let me bring both Brittany and Brett to help man the tables. While both had been to shows before, this was by far the biggest for both of them. I’m still not sure Brett was impressed.

In May I returned to Spalding University in Louisville, KY., my alma mater (one of them) where I was honored to get to get to give a talk on comic writing. A brief technological glitch got me off to a slow start…but after few minutes, I regained my composure…I mean, after all, I was talking about graphic novels! Pretty cool, if I do say so myself!

Brittany made a late decision to attend Full Sail after we thought she was going to go to UNA. What changed her mind was touring the campus! We did our best not to try to persuade her one way or the other, but were overjoyed she decided to go to Full Sail.

Late in the summer, after having the house on the market for well over a year, some renters entered the picture and wanted to occupy immediately so that their kids could start school and not have to change in the middle—or a few weeks in to a school year. Completely unprepared for renters, but totally recognizing it as a God-thing, we scrounged to vacate. Fortunately, we had the help of Hank Addy and the Dabbs family and we moved out on a Sunday, they moved in on the next day.

We then spent two months crammed on top of each other in a one bedroom efficiency. BJ called it “glamping,” but that didn’t amuse Brittany and Brett much. The housing market shocked us—and we still haven’t found a house, but we ended up in an apartment in Oviedo and at least the kids have their own personal space now.

Job wise, I moved back in to the classroom as the campus version of my writing for comics and animation class kicked in. While I’m not real fond of the scheduling at Full Sail, I definitely like my class AND being back in the classroom. While I’ve had movement with my writing, I’ll talk about that next week when I look ahead to 2014! See ya next year!

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Normalcy? What’s that?

Okay, so I’m still struggling to find some normalcy in my life as far as time goes…and while one of my more smart-aleck readers noted that if I have time to blog I have time to write, I view writing here as writing. That’s part of the problem—I’m not having much time for either! Ack! On the positive front, my new class (Writing for Comics and Animation) is in high gear and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. I mean, I’m getting to teach something I really enjoy! My ground class will begin in August and I’m a little apprehensive about it, but still anxious for it. I’ll miss my colleagues in the MFA program…but, not really because I haven’t moved my desk and none of them have changed seats so they’re all still in the same place and I get to see them just like I did before. Unless there’s been a decision of which I’m unaware, I’ll still be reading comic/graphic novel theses for the MFA program when possible.

We’ve still not sold the house in Oxford—so please; if any of you know of someone looking for a home to buy (or RENT at this point), please point them our way. Four bedrooms, wood burning fireplace, nearly three acres, good community. We’d love to just pick it up and bring it with us…but you know how that goes.

We’ve started looking in the areas around Full Sail and have seen some interesting homes. Nothing that really sang out to us and said: This is it! So we’re still looking—we want to make sure we get a place that will be in a good school district for Brett. Brittany has decided to go to Full Sail University—yep, where I teach. Yep, was a surprise for us, too. I think she likes the idea that FSU focuses on what the students want to do and doesn’t waste time with a lot of fluff classes. Man, I wish I could undo some of those ridiculous math classes I was forced to take in college. I can honestly say I haven’t used anything I learned (or didn’t) from the math classes. What a waste of time!

On the writing front, I hope to post about some of the comic projects I’m working on soon. For the most part…I’m waiting on the multi-talented artists to clear their schedules and get some stuff done. Ah…the life of a comic writer. I still can’t say anything about the secret project graphic novel I’m in the middle of writing, but as soon as I can, y’all will be the first to know! I’m also working on a short story for a project—well, I’d better not mention it yet, either, because I don’t know if they want me to yet.

And, if you haven’t picked it up yet, don’t forget I have a short story in the anthology Southern Haunts! Here are SouthernHauntslinks to various editions. If you get the print copy, I’m happy to sign it for you the next time I see you! 🙂

Print (softcover) and kindle editions:

http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Haunts-Spirits-That-Among/dp/1937929124

http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Haunts-Spirits-Among-ebook/dp/B00BWUXMX4

Nook edition:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/southern-haunts-alexander-s-brown/1114845597?ean=2940016185934&itm=1&usri=southern+haunts

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Busy busy

So I haven’t been posting here like I’d like to. I know there are a couple of you out there that actually miss it—and you do my ego good, so thanks. It isn’t that I don’t want to post, it’s just that I’ve barely had the chance to even breathe.

Let me catch you up!

For the last year and a half, I’ve been “commuting” back and forth from Mississippi to Orlando, Florida, where I’m a Creative Writing instructor at Full Sail University. Lots of reasons for the commute, but the main one has been our house in Oxford has yet to sell. Yeah, I know—frustrating. In fact, as I write this, it still hasn’t sold (anyone need a nice house out in the suburbs of the county in Oxford?). But, since Brittany is graduating from high school, we’ve decided to suck it up, make the move, and trust God to take care of it (hope He’s listening right now!).

Still, it’s pretty scary.

I’ve been losing about a day and a half each week of my schedule to travel. Driving is about 12-13 hours (depending on whether I’m traveling east or west…and how many stops I have to make) and I lose about a half day just recuperating. Which means I have to make incredible use of the remaining days. Those of you with families know how challenging that can be sometimes.

Of course, when I can, I squeeze in writing time. I know I promised at the new year that I’d give you some updates—and they’re coming soon, promise. I should have some cool art to show you soon! The other thing is that I just got a top secret graphic novel writing gig—sorry, I can’t talk about it yet even though I want to! I promise I’ll spill the beans when they let me. While that’s great news—it is!—the publisher wants the script YESTERDAY. EEEK!

On top of that, I’m making a move from teaching in the MFA program to the BFA program. I’m excited as anything to be making the shift. Why, you ask? Because I’m getting to teach Writing For Comics and Animation. I mean, HOW COOL IS THAT?

Yep, it’s cool…but here’s the downside: the class is running NOW! I’m barely staying one step ahead of the class with lectures. I don’t EVEN want to talk about grading yet. The good news is that come June, the material will be written for the next class that comes in…I’ll have the opportunity to spell check and work out some bugs with the next class…I trust. I just hope this first class, who know they’re the inaugural class, will be forgiving of all the bumps in the road.

So. There it is…in a nutshell. Thanks for sticking with me…I hope to get back to some semblance of “normal” mid-to-late summer.

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Write a love letter to your artist

I wrote about comic writing for a Full Sail blog…thought I’d share it here as well, especially since it is about writing!

Writing for comics and graphic novels requires a ninety degree turn in thinking. In Full Sail Creative Writing programs, we emphasize writing visually, which, boiled down to the very basic idea means to write knowing that what you write will be translated to pictures of some sort, so watch the talking heads. Unlike prose writing, which requires readers to imagine the pictures in their head, Visual Writing means the writer’s words will be interpreted by someone not the writer and brought to life. Screenwriters are taught just to tell the story and to let the director determine what it will look like.

Not so for comics and graphic novels. Graphic novelists are to be specific in the images the artist will put in each panel. And because comics, like all forms of visual entertainment, are such a collaborative effort, and because most writers do not generate their own art, it is imperative the writer communicate not only the images, but the feel of the story.

While directors certainly interpret meaning in a script, it isn’t unusual that he seeks opinion of the brilliant people he’s surrounded himself with (lighting, camera, etc.). Not so for comics. The interpretive art is generally handled by a single artist.

Comic scripts feature two main parts: that part of the script which will be lettered onto the pages and read by the reader (dialogue, captions, and thoughts); and that part of the script which will only be read by the artist (and approved by the editor). Thus, it requires a lot of time and effort creating something that will be read—and is intended to be that way—by one person.

So it is imperative for the writer to communicate exactly what he sees in his mind’s eye. That’s not to say the writer should describe every single detail—only Alan Moore can get away with that. But instead, the writer wants to communicate mood, tone and emotion! It helps if the writer knows the artist, but this isn’t always the case. However, when the artist is known, it is very acceptable for the descriptive part of the script (the panel art descriptions) to be informal. Oh, sure, a lot of writing teachers don’t like this but ultimately they aren’t the audience (correction: they are if you are writing  for them for a grade!). You want the artist to cry on the sad parts and laugh at the funny images you’ve caused to be conjured in their heads. You want the artist to know what to draw, yes, but you also want them to feel what you feel when you’re writing the script.

This is why I always say, that part of the script which describes the art on the page should be a love letter to the artist. The rest is just the details.

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