Well, after dealing with Blogger's (extremely frustrating) shortcomings, as well as the problematic and unavoidable reality that my main website was built using a product that's been discontinued, I've made a relatively large move.
Henceforth, my blog and website will be united, and can be found at www.danjolley.com. That's actually a Tumblr page, which the talented and extremely snarky Gray Gunter has helped me with by customizing some of the HTML.
So, for the very few people who look for me here, you can now find me there. Please follow me on Tumblr (and Twitter, and Facebook). :)
October 21, 2013
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Well, thanks to the educated (and patient) guidance of the inimitable Gray Gunter (whose profile on LinkedIn you can find RIGHT HERE), I'm well on the way toward combining my website and blog into one handy Tumblr page.
Once it's up and running, I'll point www.danjolley.com toward it, and then everything will get a lot easier. In theory, anyway.
Once it's up and running, I'll point www.danjolley.com toward it, and then everything will get a lot easier. In theory, anyway.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
I've never made any attempt at passing myself off as web-savvy. Right now my website, at www.danjolley.com, is a thing I put together myself using iWeb, an application that Apple apparently decided they hated and ultimately discontinued.
This blog, on the other hand, is part of Blogger, a Google product, which I thought would be a nice, stable, easy-to-use platform for me to express the pointless drivel that pours out of my head on a daily basis.
I really liked Blogger's "dynamic views" option, which let me arrange my posts in cool, sort of interactive, really good-looking ways. Except that Blogger's "gadgets," their little add-ons that let you do things like Tweet directly from the blog, don't seem to get along with dynamic views. I've tried time and time again to get them to show up, and they just...choose not to appear.
So yesterday I switched to a more traditional view for the blog--the mostly-black, hovering-over-planet-Earth thing you're looking at now--but the gadget problem has evolved. I've been thinking of abandoning my clunky, old-fashioned, destined-to-join-Walter-White's-Pontiac-Aztek website entirely and just putting everything here; Blogger has a gadget called "Pages" which, ostensibly, will let me place stand-alone pages on the blog and link to them with a series of tabs across the top of the page.
Except that I went into "Layout" last night, clicked on "Add a Gadget," and discovered that Blogger thinks I've already added "Pages." So there's no way for me to put pages on this blog now. I went to "Blogger Help" and described the problem, submitting "feedback," but for all I can tell, I might as well have been talking to the maple tree in my backyard.
Consequently I'm thinking of switching platforms entirely, and going with something like WordPress, about which I've heard good things. I'm also aware that the entirety of this post makes me sound like a freaking caveman, but I'm willing to live with that if it gets me some decent advice on my web presence, which up to now has been, I'm quite sure, laughably bad.
So. Any suggestions?
While I'm dealing with this most egregiously First of First World Problems, I'm also working on the script for issue #5 of my new TERMINATOR mini-series for Dark Horse, Enemy of My Enemy, and enjoying the hell out of working with Jamal Igle and Ray Snyder again. February 2014, when Issue #1 debuts, is going to be a really good month.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
The first issue of the new BLOODHOUND mini-series, CROWBAR MEDICINE, arrived in stores today, and I feel like a proud papa. When the series got canceled at DC, lo these many years ago, I knew it would return, someday, in some fashion, but I didn't know when or how. Now here we are, the book is out, and the reviews have started showing up.
Here's one from Chris Partin at Comic Addiction:
Jamie Wilson at Big Comic Page, who called it "another hit from Dark Horse":
Sean Tonelli at Comics: The Gathering:
Johanna Draper Carlson at Comics Worth Reading:
Kristine Chester at Fanboy Comics:
Those reviews are all very positive, and make me want to do the proverbial happy dance. I love this series, and the guys at Dark Horse are pumped about it, but you never know until you turn it loose to the public what the rest of the world's reactions will be, and it's a damn huge relief that readers feel the same way about it.
Then we get these two:
Samantha Roehrig at Comic Bastards:
Nicole D'Andria at Entertainment Fuse:
Samantha and Nicole's reviews are also positive, or at least mostly positive, but both reviewers interpret Clev's relationship with Trish and her daughters as something very different from the actual story. And you know whose fault that is? Mine.
Here's the thing -- and I'm not giving anything away by saying this -- Clev's "family life" is a profoundly screwed up attempt at taking a horribly dysfunctional situation and making the best of it. *I* knew what this relationship was, everyone at Dark Horse did, and if readers had seen any of the original series, or the Dark Horse Presents three-parter, they'd know it too. But Nicole and Samantha had not read any of that material, so when Michelle calls Clev "Uncle," both reviewers took it to mean that Trish was either Clev's sister or his sister-in-law.
That's not the case. Trish was the wife of Clev's former partner -- the partner Clev killed, which sent him to prison. Not only that, but Clev and Trish had also been having a long-standing affair, and Michelle is Clev's biological daughter, a fact that neither of Trish's kids knows.
Looking back over CROWBAR MEDICINE #1, is there any way for brand-new readers to know that? ...Nope.
I remember (many years ago) buying the X-Files album, which featured songs inspired by the show and written by such dignitaries as Soul Coughing, Nick Cave, and P.M. Dawn. The P.M. Dawn song, in particular, was important to the show's creator, Chris Carter, because Carter had written the lyrics for it himself (if I recall correctly). Carter went on at some length about how fantastically P.M. Dawn had interpreted his lyrics -- but when I listened to the song, I couldn't understand a single damn word that came out of Prince Be's mouth, no matter how many times I listened to it. The lyrics didn't come with the album, so I was left basically just having to take Chris Carter's word for it.
Chris Carter was excited about the song because, since he'd written the lyrics, of course he understood them. I have to wonder if he ever asked anyone else if they could make them out.
So now I'm in Chris Carter's position: of course I understand how Clev fits in, or doesn't fit in, with Trish and Rachel and Michelle Crosby, because I already knew. I should've been more careful in making sure that information came across to people who weren't familiar with the earlier material. To that end, we've modified the "Our Story Thus Far" bit that appears on the Inside Front Cover, which will read thusly starting with Issue #2:
"Travis Clevenger’s attempt to spend time with his dysfunctional, makeshift family (the widow of the corrupt partner he killed and her two daughters, the younger of whom is secretly Clev's) was interrupted when Clev's handler, FBI agent Saffron Bell, pulled him into a case involving a superhuman rampage with a high body count. While Clev recuperates from his encounter with the culprit, Dr. Bradley Morgenstern announces that he can avert future tragedies by granting powers to those who pass his personal background check, instigating a nation-wide uproar."
Live and learn!
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
So we went back to Top Cow and asked them if we could have one more issue. We knew exactly what we wanted to do: one 22-page story, entitled The Empty Locket, that would fill in the gaps and tie everything up in a nice big bow. "That's fine," Top Cow said, because Top Cow spoke in a huge, booming, collective voice, apparently. "But we didn't plan for this, and we won't be able to give you guys the same budget you had for the regular mini-series."
We said that would be fine, that we'd make do, and agreed to the terms. What that resulted in, however, is that the budget for lettering disappeared. I don't remember exactly how we arrived at the decision, but the decision was nonetheless made that I would take over that task for the one-issue special.
I had NO idea how to do comic book lettering.
That's where the brilliant Ken Lopez, letterer extraordinaire, came in. Tony had Ken's number, and Ken graciously agreed to walk me through the basics using Adobe Illustrator. So I did the lettering for The Empty Locket, and several years later, when the Jolly Roger Studios crew did a four-issue arc in G.I. Joe Frontline, I lettered a couple of those issues as well.
This is not to say that I'm an expert letterer. I don't know that I'd even call myself a decent letterer; I've got the word balloons and captions down pretty well, but my sound effects are still pitiful. My respect for letterers during that learning curve skyrocketed, and truly I think every comic book writer should learn at least the basics of the craft. It really affected how I look at scripting dialogue.
So! Fast-forward about ten years, and now I'm working on a Young Adult comics project with Shawn deLoache and Marlin Shoop. The budget on this project is in the shoestring category, and once again, I'm stepping into the letterer's shoes, firing up the latest version of Adobe Illustrator, and...
...realizing the program looks completely different from the way it did in 2003, at least to my untrained eyes. It took about half an hour this afternoon just to find the button to click that will combine balloons and tails. Bit by bit, though, things are starting to look more familiar, and I'm pretty sure it won't take that long for me to get back into the groove of it. It's actually kind of fun, seeing words Shawn and I have written take shape on the page, plus if there's any last-minute editing to do, I can just do it right there.
If you don't know an actual letterer, such as the aforementioned Ken Lopez or the supremely talented Rob Leigh, the brilliant tutorials found at balloontales.com are an excellent starting place.
And, in completely unrelated news, Tracy and I found what we're pretty sure are raccoon tracks on our back deck. I knew we had chipmunks, squirrels, about a billion birds, some snakes, and four or five neighborhood cats roaming around, but I didn't think we had raccoons. We'll see if more evidence surfaces.
Monday, October 14, 2013
I've been largely absent from the mainstream comic book industry since my exit from DC in 2005 (when Bloodhound was cancelled and the creative team on Firestorm got "shaken up"). It's not that I ever stopped writing stories presented by way of sequential art; after I left DC, I got lots of steady work from Tokyopop, and even more from Lerner Books. At the same time, I got involved in video game writing, first for Fallen Earth and then for various Activision titles (and one for Ubisoft--I worked on the Nintendo DS version of James Cameron's Avatar). Plus I've got Projects I Can't Talk About in the works, both in prose novels and film/TV.
But Bloodhound's revival at Dark Horse has really reminded me how much I enjoy traditional comics, so off I went to the New York Comic Con to see what other opportunities I could find. The challenge there is that, in the last eight years or so, my mainstream profile has dwindled significantly, so it feels a lot like starting over. Not only that, but there are also serious players in the industry I had little to no contact with last time I had a lot of comics on the stands, so I'm in the somewhat awkward position of having been a professional writer for 23 years, introducing myself to editors who've never heard of me and give less than a rat's ass that a project of mine got nominated for an Eisner Award in 2003.
Anyway. I made some awesome contacts, walked my feet off, and ate at Fat Sal's New York Pizza. Twice.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
|Courtesy of Jamal Yaseem Igle|
I'm really happy with this project. It's a solid, action-packed story, I'm having a lot of fun writing it, and I get to work with a couple of guys I've collaborated with in the past -- Jamal Igle and Ray Snyder -- so it's an awesome reunion on top of everything else. I've known about it for months, of course, but couldn't say anything about it till its official unveiling.
Now the news is out, and one of the first comments on the Newsarama Facebook article was "Sounds dumb." Another one was, in its entirety, "No." Yet another started out with "Ugh."
Are things like that pleasant to see? Not really. But I've been a freelance writer for a couple decades now, and one of the most valuable lessons you have to learn if you're going to do this is to let reactions like that roll off your back.
It's a different landscape now from when I started out, because in the early 90's there was no Internet, no comments sections, and no avenue for knee-jerk reactions, positive or negative. Now, anyone anywhere can fill comments sections with whatever amount of vitriol and bile they feel like -- and spewing negativity is not only easy, it's fun.
Am I saying all Internet comments everywhere are invalid? Well, no. But the thing is, there's no way for you to know who's genuinely unhappy with your work and who's just saying nasty stuff because it's fun. So you can't let any of it affect you.
The unpleasant flip-side of this is that, if you're not going to put a lot of weight behind the negative comments, you can't really put a lot of weight behind the positive comments, either. Connecting with your readers is vitally important, yes -- more important now than ever. But YOUR SELF-ESTEEM cannot be dictated by what strangers on the Internet say about you. Because, no matter what you do, no matter how good you are, someone's going to say some nasty stuff about you, because it's easy, and because they can.
This disconnect is easier said than done, but you have to do it. That, and the patience required to a) wait to hear whether a project will get greenlit, and b) wait until the project comes out, are two of the most important qualities a professional writer has to cultivate. (Well, okay, the need for patience only applies if you're not self-publishing, but I've never self-published anything, so I won't pretend to know much about it.)
A few years ago, I was at a cookout at Rich Dansky's house. Rich is the head Tom Clancy writer for Red Storm Entertainment; he's also a novelist, among many other accomplishments. Another friend of ours was asking about some project I had in the works, and I said that it would probably come out in another six or eight months. When asked how I could stand waiting that long, I shrugged and said it was something I'd gotten used to. Rich said, "Yeah--after you do this kind of thing for a while, your nerve endings just get sort of worn off."
It's a valuable kind of numbness to have.