Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bump in the road, literally.

My friend Kristen, aka the gal that was beginning work on Mastema, was in a bike accident. She's okay, but the bike was totaled and the end of her middle finger was almost severed clean off. Seriously, they described it as "dangling." O.o Fortunately the medics were able to sew it back on.

So, that puts a damper on those plans, eek.

What I'm reading:
"Understanding Comics," by Scott McCloud, finally. Several people have called this the Bible of comic books and I can see why. I'm about halfway through and while it's been mostly background and theory so far it's still very worthwhile. In terms of actual how-to nuts and bolts, the "Drawing Words, Writing Pictures" book might turn to be more helpful, though.

Friday, July 24, 2009

22 Comic panel cheat sheet

Many years ago, cartoonist Wally Wood and two of his assistants cobbled together a comic-panel cheat sheet entitled "22 panels that always work." I felt I would be remiss if I didn't check it out and then provide the link. Pass along the torch, loves.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Living the trans-life

I'm getting more familiar with cross-dressing, transgenderism, and gender coding. It's fascinating to me how we take some things for granted, without a second thought. For instance: I am wearing pants right now. I'm crossdressing, according to the cultural coding of many countries around the world, and the coding of my own country about fifty years removed. In the 70's, wearing more than three articles of clothing culturally determined to be of the opposite gender was cause for arrest. Yet these days it's widely acceptable for a woman to wear pants.

I don't see many guys wearing skirts, though. Funny, isn't it, how a woman wanting to dress like a man is so much more acceptable than a man wanting to dress as a woman? Or, well, funny perhaps isn't the word I should use.

This is a roundabout way of saying that progress continues on A Teenager's Guide, and I'm getting really into Kara's mindset. A happy discovery for me was the level of her courage: it's easy to say that Max is brave, facing down legions of the undead with a shotgun and a katana...but Kara faces legions of the living armed only with a bra and a lipstick tube. That, I think, is what really draws Max to her and vice versa.

The question of identity also has to play a huge part in the story. Who we choose to be, how we choose to present ourselves, what we share with one another. There needs to be a betrayal of identity somewhere down the road. Kara doesn't believe in Miracles. I'm just rambling at this point so I'll leave it at that.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Of Live Areas and Tetrachords

What I'm reading:
"Drawing Words and Writing Pictures," Abel and Madden. A basic how-to of comic book creation, from writing to drawing to lettering. Pretty useful. I have a feeling that I should have read the McCloud book first, since they reference it quite a bit, but this one is still handy on its own. The homework assignments get a little tiresome to flip through; it's obviously been designed as a textbook.

"Music Theory in the Real World: A Practical Guide For Today's Musicians," Michael Perlowin. Oh boy. This handy little book is gently, carefully revealing to me just how much my school system failed at any kind of music program. I cracked it open last night and stayed up way too late getting whacky on my keyboard. Things -- key signatures and harmonies -- suddenly make sense! It's as if someone planned them out! My god! It might be a too basic for people with more training, but for me it's perfect. Definitely recommend this one to all my musical buddies out there.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Go soak your brain

Baths are awesome. They're relaxing, they leave you feeling fresh and healthy, and very often they get my brain going. Case in point: I have a towel wrapped around my head and am still dripping slightly because I just mentally tripped over half the plot for "A Teenager's Guide," and had to write it all down before I forgot. Not only is it fun and funky, it makes Kara's situation and her very existence integral to Max and his parents being able to pinpoint the origin of the zombie outbreak. I love it when my brain does that.

Talked to an artist last night, my college friend Kristen. She sounds like she's really going to do the "Mastema" teaser I wrote! Thumbnail script next week, penciling to follow. Yay!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You would think that I would have let this go, by now. You would be wrong.

Deciding to move the setting of 'A Teenager's Guide' to my hometown -- I'd originally placed it in Beaverton -- was about the best thing I could have done for the story. I think I'll need to be mindful that I don't scrimp on the visual descriptions: I can see these places in my head, so I might forget that not everyone attended Estacada High and know how the girl's bathroom was painted this very specific shade of stale green, designed, I am convinced, to Destroy All Hope. Other than that, however, it's helping so much. And is somewhat therapeutic. (I can't believe that's the right way to spell 'therapeutic.' It just looks weird.) I've already named one of the villains after an asshole who gay-bashed me in high school, Jordan (GAH), and at the moment I'm deeply overidentifying with Kara, Jordan's favorite target.

I'm just now writing the scene where Jordan snaps Kara's bra and unintentionally-but-not-accidentally rips it. Comic books are by their nature succinct and contained, but I could go on for pages about how awful this is: Kara's transgendered (I am not, but apparently that's not going to stop me from wallowing in her pain) and there's so much mental and physical comfort tied up in that bra. It was originally her mom's; she stole it years ago when she first knew, and smuggled it away with her when her parents kicked her out. She stole two, actually, then cut the padding out of one and carefully, carefully stapled it into the other one. That bra means something to her, and Jordan so casually destroys it. It's an excruciating moment: she's already been forced by the teachers to use the boys' bathroom, she's humiliated, and then she loses this small symbol of femininity that she's managed to gather around herself.

So then of course I had to have our hero Max karate-kick Jordan. IN THE FACE.

Like I said. Therapeutic.

I have an appointment tonight to meet online with Kristen, an old college friend and an artist, who has expressed interest in doing some character sketches and maybe even a teaser for Mastema. Fingers crossed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

*tap tap*

Twould seem proper to start with an introduction. Hi, I'm Rachel. At the moment (my time, not necessarily whenever you've stumbled across this blog), I'm 25 years old. I am a writer in the strictest sense of the term: I write. I've always been a writer. For some time I thought I would go into television, and even graduated from film school in Los Angeles; after time, however, I grew disillusioned with that field. Several people suggested that my ideas are better suited to comic books, being as they are populated with time travelers and demons and shapeshifters and shotgun-toting lesbians and monsters. This is handy, since I was born and raised in Oregon and Portland has become something of a comic-book nexus. Portland-ho.

My primary genre is fantasy, with a bend towards the horrific. It's kind of weird, because as a kid I could never watch horror movies. All the biggest names in the genre, I've never watched. I had awful nightmares all on my own, of things dragging me out of bed and ripping me apart; people say you don't die in your dreams, but I always did. Wait, I guess it's not so weird, then, that I'm drawn to the horror genre. My nightmares have just grown up into serial killers and vengeful demons. The point is, I've never read H.P. Lovecraft or Stephen King and I've never reveled in the delights of Romero or Barker. All the horror I've ever known was internal.

So, here I am! I intend to use this blog to talk about my projects and the process of writing these hairbrained ideas.

At the moment I'm writing the graphic novel "A Teenager's Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse." I originally started it as a prose novel, but it's undergone some major changes and the more I worked on it the more I realized that it would work best in a graphic format. For all the fact that the gen-yu-ine ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE lurches near, I find myself writing out the awkward teenaged romance part first...which is possibly the right way to go about it, because that's really the emotional core of the story. Or possibly I'm just so enamored of Kara and Max both that I can't focus on the zombies quite yet.

What I'm reading: "What It Is," by Lynda Barry. Dramatically and interestingly illustrated, but I feel like the format overpowers the content. You'll find that I have a very utilitarian outlook: I judge an item of clothing by how many pockets it has. As someone just starting out in the field, I can't say the book was particularly helpful; it did contain a few moments of brain-turning -- that feeling you get when your thoughts pivot and find a step that you didn't know was there -- but on the whole it was rather pretty and rather pointless. I had it on loan from the library, so I couldn't do the exercises in the back. There's a chance that I didn't have access to the book's full potential. Still, I wouldn't really recommend it to someone else looking into the field.