Always Write

Peter Rogers – Writer

Month: February, 2012

Life imitates art – Welcome to Wales

Next weekend (25th and 26th Feb) the  Cardiff International Comic & Animation Expo is back , expanding to two days following the success of last year’s one day event.    Despite the lure of Stan the Man in London, I wouldn’t miss my adopted home town convention for anything (no hotel means more to spend in the bar).   Markosia will be represented by their Cardiff contingent consisting of  myself, Chris Lynch (The Dark) and Simon Wyatt (Unbelievable) which of course means you’ll be able to pick up “The Interactives”.   The book’s opening has a decidedly Welsh flavour and it’s on this side of the border that all the action kicks off, so it’s another homecoming for the book in a lot of ways.

As well as signing copies across the weekend I’ll also be taking part in two of the panels at the event.  At noon on Sunday I’ll be hosting Never mind the quality, a panel that asks the question  “Now that anyone with internet access can publish their work worldwide does that mean there are now more creators with less raw talent producing British comics than ever before?”  Inspired by David Lloyd‘s recent comments about the UK indie scene,  I’ll be joined by Chris Lynch, Steve Tanner, Jon Haward and Michael Carroll for what promises to be a lively debate.   And at 3pm the same day  Gavin and Dan from the Sidekickcast will be hosting Markosia The Welsh Connection – Unbelievably dark and interactive where Simon, Chris and I take you behind the scenes and lift the curtain on the making of our debut graphic novels.   We should be finished just in time for Cardiff to take on Liverpool in the Carling Cup Final with a bit of luck.

If you’ve already bought a copy of The Interactives bring it along to get signed.   And  if you haven’t booked your tickets yet you’ll need to get a move on as advanced ticket sales close on Sunday and on the door tickets aren’t guaranteed.

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Life imitates art – The Interactives hit London

Next weekend (25th and 26th Feb) it’s the first ever London Super Comic Convention at the Excel Centre.  There are lots of big name creators descending on the nation’s capital including the man himself, Stan Lee.  And if you’re attending the event you’ll be able to pick up a copy for “The Interactives” at the Markosia stand.  

It’s a bit of a homecoming for the book in many ways, as much of the story takes place in central London and my regular trips to the big smoke, including ones to conventions,  were a big influence on the writing process.   Look out for the book, you won’t be able to miss the banner featuring some of the art and if you do pick up a copy I’d love to hear what you think.  

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Amazing Spider-man unleashes The Lizard

Another day another high profile superhero movie trailer. Ok I’m a little late on this one, but you get my drift. This time it’s the rebooted Amazing Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield replacing Tobey Maguire in the lead role.

And despite my initial misgivings I have to say that the trailer looks good (although I still can’t get on with the movie suit). The effects are impressive, Denis Leary chews the scenery perfectly as Captain George Stacy, Emma Stone is a convincing Gwen Stacy and Garfield seems a good choice for Peter Parker. The plot explores the history of Peter’s parents which is an interesting change from what went before. But I still can’t shake the feeling that even if we don’t see the spider bite this time we’ve already seen early Spider-man and not very long ago.

What actually got me most excited about the trailer was the appearance of The Lizard. And not just because they’ve cast Rhys Ifans, although I think that’s a great move. As much as I enjoyed the Sam Raimi movies the villains never felt quite right (Darkman is still his best film in the genre for me). Dr Octopus, Green Goblin and definitley Venom weren’t quite how I saw the characters despite some good performances from the actors involved. The closest to how I envisaged a Spidey villain was probably Sandman but he got lost in the in the third movie when it all quickly descended into chaos. I get the feeling that this will feel like the Curt Connors I know, but to be fair Sandman and The Lizard are the kind of villains I associate with Spider-Man anyway mainly because they were in the first books I read. And I’d be just as happy if the villain in question was The Rhino, The Vulture or even The Wrecking Crew, Absorbing Man and Titania.

But the more I think about it there is one Marvel villain I’d really love to see done well on screen, given the same level of care and attention as Loki or Magneto. For me Dr Doom is definitely the most interesting and important villain within the Marvel Universe, he’s the Darth Vader of the 616. Such a shame he was depicted as such a pale imitation of what he should have been in the decidedly average Fantastic Four films. Of course if Marvel studios owned all the characters Wolverine and Spider-Man would be in Avengers 2 with Doom as the villain. Well they would if I had anything to do with it anyway. In the meantime I’ll still be heading to the cinema in July when The Amazing Spider-man is released and The Lizard is unleashed.

The Avengers – Earth’s mightiest time machine

On at least one level I know that The Avengers movie won’t be a cinematic masterpiece, I’m gutted that Edward Norton isn’t returning to play Banner, and I still see  Iron Man 2 as a huge wasted opportunity.  But the extended Super Bowl trailer has reminded me why none of that matters.

Joss Whedon being in the director’s chair, much like Shane Black taking on Iron Man 3,  means there’s talent behind the movie that I have a long standing admiration for.  Sam Raimi helming Spider-man gave me a similar feeling, but that isn’t what has me counting the days until May 4th.    This is something different, this is something bigger, something almost of Secret Wars proportions (the book that made me aware of the rest of the non Spidey Marvel Universe).  These are the characters I’ve been reading since I was 11 assembling on the big screen.    “We have a Hulk” indeed.

One story, 140 characters

I’ve never understood the point of things like twitlonger,  for me being able to write elongated messages on twitter totally defeats the object.  It  takes away one of the key things I love about twitter and I definitely love twitter (we did fall out once, but thankfully we made up in the end) and that’s the limited number of characters allowed per tweet.

I wholeheartedly believe the old adage that rewriting is the most important part of the writing process, when every word has to fight for its place on the page the work always improves.  And twitter takes that a stage further because every character is fighting for their place, every space, every piece of punctuation, every last letter.   It brings discipline and focus to even the most inane comment.   And when you’ve finally managed to squeeze that witty riposte, mini movie review or piece of shameless self promotion down to the requisite length it comes with a real sense of achievement. (Ok maybe that’s just me.)  But I genuinely do get a real buzz from rewriting, I think part of that came from years of writing radio commercials.  Stopping the stopwatch and seeing that your latest version is still under time was one of the best things about the job for me.  (Then again I am a little strange).

I’ve mentioned before that I was contributing to Dave Kirkwood’s year long graphic story 3 hundred and 65, in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust, a very worthwhile cause and a fascinating project.   Basically each writer contributes to moving the story forward via one  solitary  140 character tweet and then Dave interprets it and draws the next scene.   Yesterday it was my turn in the writer’s chair and rewriting was most definitely the order of the day.    The first step was to go back and read all the entries so far in one sitting, soaking up the story and getting my head around what should come next.  My inspiration came not only from the previous contributors’ words but also from Dave’s artwork and his knack of keeping the story cohesive by adding hints of previous elements within many of the images.  Keeping a crowd sourced story together is always tough, as my experience creating Human journal found in rubble on the Geek Syndicate Write Club forum had already taught me.

For me the challenge wasn’t just to move the story forward, although I definitely felt the need to be true to what had come before while still adding something to the narrative.  The real challenge was keeping it short and sweet.  My entry does exactly what I wanted it to, providing a bridge between two of the established story elements.  But it’s very different from the first draft I had, getting it down from 190 characters or so took about 15 attempts. And like much rewriting it involved being prepared to kill my babies,such a horrible turn of phrase, and losing the lines I liked the most.  My entry opens with a rhyme and that was one key constant in all the versions I did, because that arrived in my head fully formed when I finished reading the entries.

“Count to 13 but never be seen. Hide in the shadows, the pink and green”. It worked, just like when they were kids. Zoe stood before him.

The word “the” before pink and green was removed a few times, but in the end I wanted to keep it in so much that I made other changes to accommodate it.    That was for a combination of rhythmic reasons as well as to maintain consistency with earlier entries.   There was originally a line about “Mother’s voice reverberating in my mind” which kept getting shorter and shorter, reconstructed and pulled apart until it ended up being cut altogether.   It took longer than I expected, used creative muscles that I haven’t used in a while and took me on a familiar journey through repeated frustration to eventual euphoria.  You can see my entry on the site here and I’d implore you to go back and read the whole thing to see how it fits into the story.    And if you’re in the UK I’d urge you to get involved, either by donating to the cause or by signing up to write an entry.  Because, as you might have gathered, it’s very good rewriting practice indeed.

3 hundred and 65

Graphicly level the playing field

Comixology may get the lion’s share of the attention when it comes to purchasing digital comics, but it’s Graphicly that’s been making the biggest waves in the last week.   They’ve introduced their own digital distribution channel, making it possible to “Upload once. Distribute Everywhere”.  At first I thought it was a quicker and easier way to utilise the graphicly platform, even without a publisher on board.  But it’s far more than that.  It’s about putting your work out there without the middle man.  And that’s why it’s been getting a lot of column inches in article’s like this, reaching far wider than the confines of the comic community. 

This is about making digital platforms accessible to creators more easily, allowing you to market your book straight to the potential audience and then track the response.  No longer just another indie book fighting for digital shelf space with far more established publishers, creators and characters in the same shop front.   All the portability and flexibility digital can offer, but on your own terms. (You can tell I’m excited about this can’t you?).

I’ve seen a number of creators scrabbling around to make sure they’re one of the first to get on board.  Hunting out old content, brushing off past projects and rejuvenating previous work.  But for me it isn’t about being first, because this is about the future not just the here and now.  A future defined by new creations, new content, new readers and new horizons.  Lots to think about.  But in the meantime…. Viva la revolution. 

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