Friday, July 29, 2005

A new Boschen and Nesuko is up. References to Bugs Bunny and Hamlet.

The thing's at two hundred pages now. That sure seemed to happen fast.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

So, yes, hot, cloudless days. And then, last night, a thunderstorm. Why not?

It sounded really close, too. I was sitting near the television watching The Strawberry Blonde, when it suddenly seemed massive flash bulbs were going off outside the annoying "wall of windows" this house has. At times, the thunder was loud enough that I wasn't able to hear the movie.

Then the power went out for about a second. No big deal, until I found later that the computer had developed some kind of problem where it acted like it was constantly loading something while never actually being able to load anything. It didn't recognise the page of Boschen and Nesuko I'd finished last night as existing, any more than it recognised anything else on the hard drive. Fortunately, after I restarted the computer a couple of times, it went back to normal. I really don't know what I would have done if it hadn't, as it suddenly was made plain to me all the different ways in which I'd be inconvenienced if I lost this computer.

I suppose I oughtn't say that, for all the enemies I have reading this. Well, I still have Justice and Lady Liberty on my side, and that's a great three-way, let me tell ya.

As for the movie last night, it was decent. I used to have kind of a crush on Rita Hayworth, but this movie made it very clear that Olivia de Havilland was prettier and a better actress. Her scenes with James Cagney were the best parts of the movie, by far. Suddenly I wanna watch The Heiress again.

Friday, July 22, 2005

It is hot around here. It's been hot for weeks. On Wednesday, it rained. I was driving at the time and when it was slow, infrequent drops, I avoided switching on the wipers, knowing it would make things worse. When I finally did switch them on, they indeed left thick arcs of smears. It's like it was raining grease. Which would match somehow with gunky-feeling heat that persisted.

Yesterday and to-day were the usual cloudless bowls of yellow-blue hot. My plan this morning was to read at Starbucks while completing the requisite first, strong black coffee, and then maybe going to Jamba juice to add some haphazard fruit to my diet before getting to Boschen and Nesuko. That first sip of coffee in the morning usually takes everything out of my mind--it's a beautiful moment of bonding with the great coffee spirit. But the Starbucks I went to only had Mild, and it took a little while before I could concentrate on Gulliver's visit to Luggnagg.

But, having finished that, I find myself now in the middle of a Passion-Mango Matcha with Green Tea and I think it might do. I want to rewrite the end of the new Boschen and Nesuko chapter before I start on storyboards, which I ought to've done yesterday, except yesterday I was rewriting bits of the chapter and was too damn tired from it being Thursday to do much else.

When I finished the script of the previous chapter, I had a very definite idea of what was going to happen next, but I compulsively re-wrote it in my head for weeks before I actually sat down to the first draft on Wednesday. I'd been re-deciding points, working out certain logistics, and then, having it on paper, found a whole new set of things to puzzle through. I wrote six pages on paper, and then changed them drastically while typing them up, and now I want a different ending.

You know--and this doesn't really relate, but for some reason, it got me thinking about it--one of my biggest complaints about the Peter Jackson film version of The Return of the King is Sam and Frodo splitting up due to Gollum's machinations just before they reached Shelob's cave. The director and writers, in the commentary, explained they felt they needed to do this because they didn't consider the trio's difficulty with Mordor's terrain to be dramatic enough. They needed character conflict and they needed Gollum to succeed once in his goal of driving a rift between Frodo and Sam.

And that pisses me off. I don't like those motives, as they seem to cynically place a desire for teh drama over sensitive character portrayal and the simple logistics of the situation. Man, it eats me. I don't think Gollum really could have driven them apart. I don't think Sam would really have abandoned Frodo just because Frodo told him to. Not merely because of loyalty and a awareness of what the ring was doing to Frodo, but also because Sam must know in his heart that he probably doesn't have the means to return home. I don't believe the little personal drama would divert their attentions from very big and sinister Cirith Ungol and the other perils of the environment. And I don't feel two friends barely getting along in a hellish land is boring, or less interesting than a pointless squabble.

And I didn't need to feel like Gollum had psychological power over them. That's not what's interesting about Gollum and it's not relevant.

Well, I still basically love the movie, but I have more complaints about it than any of the others. I also don't like that Gollum didn't die with the ring in the same, accidental way he did in the book, and Sean Astin seemed way too American Gung-ho in the last film. But I still love everything about Minas Tirith, Shelob, Gandalf, and all kinds of other things . . .

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I finally found a comic book shop yesterday, and a really nice one, too.

On our way to the Comic-Con on Friday morning, Tim, looking out the window, had spotted a Comics N Stuff. I couldn't see where he was pointing, but I knew the general area, so decided yesterday to explore it.

I scoured the shoddy clumps of storefronts in El Cajon as carefully as I could while driving, but I was ready to give up after about ten minutes or so. Then I saw it, wedged against a skinny, busy street by the freeway onramp; a small, white brick building with an impressive mural painted on featuring an enormous Batman, Hellboy, Jack Skellington, Roman Durge Lenore, and Yoda. Inside was like the intestines of a giant coated with comics and action figures. Labyrinthine, and the biggest comic book shop I'd seen in San Diego County.

I looked up and down the walls, though, without seeing the Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder comic I was looking for. I didn't want to leave empty handed, so I looked closely at everything, to see if there was something else that was cheap and interesting. I saw Mike Mignola's and Troy Nixey's Jenny Finn, the first two issues in a single trade paperback, for seven dollars. Caitlin had mentioned it on her forum yesterday, so I grabbed it. It turned out to be a really good exploration of British sailors in the late nineteenth century being corrupted by a strange fish disease.

As I was paying for this, I noticed, lying on the counter, without a plastic sheath, the very Frank Miller/Jim lee Batman I'd come in for. So I bought it too. Miller's writing was decent, and Jim Lee's art reminded me of how much I suck.

I was strangely restless for a few hours after that, wanting something, but not sure what. Finally, I pulled into a grocery store parking lot, bought a couple apples, and sat in my car eating. It ended up being precisely what I wanted.

I used to really hate apples--they'd always give me a stomach ache. But lately I've been struck by random, odd cravings for them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I really like Jedi Academy and some of the mods I've been downloading lately. This is all at Tim's house, where he's set up two computers. So while he's lost in Guild Wars, I'm busy perfecting my lightsabre technique. And one cool thing about Academy is that there is a technique--you can slash horizontally, hack vertically, diagonally, behind you, in an arch or short chops. And when your blade hits your opponent's, it reacts dynamically--if they're swinging and you're sitting still, your blade is knocked aside, sometimes out of your hand. And the bounding boxes are nice and tight--if one blade misses another by a couple inches, they don't touch, and someone gets cut in half.

Well, you need the dismemberment code for that last part. But that's also dynamic--if your blade goes through a wrist, a hand gets cut off. The first time I was trying out Academy's dismemberment, I cut Darth Maul in half which, I know, was a funny coincidence.

So it's really hard to learn how to use a lightsabre properly. And those with sabre-staves or two sabres seem to have a definite advantage. I learned this while going one on one with Darth Maul in a perfect user made Free For All map of the Naboo hanger bay and power generation-something-or-other-with-pits area from Episode 1. I was using Gunner Yuna from Final Fantasy X2 (a much better environment for her than actual Final Fantasy X2). It was almost impossible to defeat him with a standard sabre, and most of my wins were due to me using Force Choke or pushing him into one of the pits.

Lots of good player models for the game are downloadable. Last night I added the Predator, and most of the cast of Inu-Yasha. In case you were wondering, if Kikyo were to fight Indiana Jones in the Death Star hanger from Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones would win.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Damnit, the Comic-Con's over. If that thing went 365 days a year, I'd be a completely different person with a different routine, social skills, and store of knowledge.

Details of Setsuled's Expedition now follow;

I went early on Thursday, the first day. I woke up at 7am. I'd planned to get ahead on Boschen and Nesuko earlier in the week but never managed it. But I was still up appreciably late on Wednesday to make Thursday morning a drag.

I went early because I wanted to attend DC's talent search at 10:30am. But, to spare you the suspense that fragmented my attention for days, I'll tell you now nothing came of it. Apparently I'm not what DC, Vertigo, or Wildstorm are looking for in an artist, which isn't terribly surprising to me. But my hopes were raised somewhat by some of the really crappy comic book art I'd seen recently, especially in some Star Wars comics I'd been reading (which, I know, isn't DC, but, you know, industry standards, I figured). I remembered snickering and pointing with Tim at a particular drawing of Aayla Secura where her arm seemed to be coming out of her head.

But the talent search thing did mean I had to get up early for the next couple days. The worst was Saturday, because by Friday night, not only was I not ahead with Boschen and Nesuko, I was a little behind. I had to ink the last half of the second to last page, pencil and ink the last page, and colour the last four. By the time Friday night was dead and Saturday morning was climbing from the birthing pit, my styrofoam brain was no longer able to comprehend the meaning of my actions and black lines and colour were sort of oozing their ways into existence on the computer screen. But, by the gods, it got done and I got two hours of sleep, to boot.

When I found, Saturday morning, that I wasn't chosen to be interviewed, I didn't really feel bad. I'd started thinking about how I'm not really much of a good soldier. How I'm better off trying to get my own stuff out there.

I wandered the floor, turned a corner, and saw that a young woman had chosen to walk around topless. She had nice, large-ish breasts, a leather cap, and a long black skirt. She walked like she wanted people to think she was perfectly comfortable and courageous, but something about the way she gripped her boyfriend's hand told me she wasn't at all comfortable.

I was trying to get to hall H to see, I think, Kevin Smith and Richard Kelly or something (I forget). When I saw that there was a queue, I decided not to bother, turned around, and saw that security had already spirited away the topless girl. It's a lucky thing, too; who knows how many boys had already been ruined for honourable marriage by the sight?

I saw the Samurai Stormtrooper on an escalator, but I didn't know what it was until Chris Walsh told me about it. And there were many good garden variety Stormtroopers, a good Darth Maul, and lots and lots of people wearing very comfortable looking Anakin Skywalker costumes. I was also privileged to see a pretty young woman in a Leia Slave costume. But oh, the experience is simply too fleeting.

As for actual celebrities, high profile artists, or writers in attendance, I saw far fewer this year than usual, and those I did see I didn't look for very hard. I'm kind of disappointed I missed David Cronenberg on Thursday, and Bruce Campbell for three days, but I simply didn't feel very excited by the idea of sitting around listening to talented people having nothing much to say, especially when I was operating on so little sleep.

I was hanging around one corridor on Friday, wondering where Tim and his friend Amber had gotten to, when I realised that Jhonen Vasquez was speaking in the room next to me, so I went inside and took a seat.

Vasquez was saying how people normally asked really dumb questions at these things, which is true, and I hoped his speaking out against it would discourage all but the truly interesting questions. But Vasquez himself, aside from coming off as being a neat, intelligent fellow, didn't have a great deal of interest to say. Yes, he was happy to've worked on Invader Zim but, yes, it was a pain in the ass dealing with money-conscious collaborators. And yes, he has ideas for other works involving Johnny and Squee.

I was sort of bemused by how he seemed mildly unhappy that many people admired Johnny (the character), whom he'd meant to be somewhat pathetic.

Later that day, I saw Jill Thompson in a corridor talking to some people, but I didn't stop to listen. But, hey, all ya'll, I was close enough to tackle Jill Thompson. Envy me, yo.

I had a good time attending panels on web comics on Saturday and Sunday. I'd never heard of any of the panellists, which was sort of funny as I've been looking at all sorts of web comics over the past couple of years looking for the rare decent one among millions. The panels were on promoting web comics and earning a living off of them. I didn't really learn much I didn't know, but was reminded of some things I've been too distracted to do.

But it was nice just seeing what a bunch of web comic makers were like. Not only the panellists, but most of the people in the room had web comics. It was sort of nice suddenly feeling like I was part of a society.

Anyway, in case you'd like to know, panellists I saw on Saturday were Bill Barnes, Scott Kurtz, James Kochalka, R Stevens, Dave Kellett, and Kristofer Straub. Sunday, in addition to Bill Barnes and Scott Kurtz, there was Steve Troop, David Willis, Raina Talgemeier, and Andy Bell.

They all seemed like reasonably charming people. Talgemeier, the only girl, was very quiet on the How to Make Money with Web Comics panel because, apparently, the poor young lady doesn't make any money with her web comic. It seems her comic requires a subscription to read, which has driven humanity away. A good thing to remember, I guess. I approached her afterwards and offered my condolences, and snagged the only free comic I'd managed to get at the con, a little promotional copy of her Smile. It was cute, and interesting as apparently it was about her getting her front teeth knocked out when she was younger. I could identify as I wear a false tooth to-day for one I lost playing little league baseball as a kid.

I read her comic while waiting for the trolley to take me back to East County. I'd never seen the trolley station so crowded and the blue and orange lines were all fucked to hell because it seems a Padres game was happening the same day as the last day as the Comic-Con--and the stadium is across the street from the convention centre.

So we had a huge mass of baseball fans packed to bursting in the little red trolley cars along with huge masses of costumed comic fans. A hot, sweaty, uneasy atmosphere it was as two social groups were blended as they were never, ever meant to be.

Reading an entry in Franklin's blog, I decided to go out to-day looking for this new Batman comic. And beheld, I did, the comic book store apocalypse.

I knew my previous regular shop at Parkway Plaza had been gone for weeks. So I went to North County Fair and saw theirs had closed as well.

About two weeks ago, I'd been to Mission Valley Centre and had discovered that a cool anime/manga shop, that'd been there for many years, had been driven out by a comics shop. So I went there as, since the store was new, it was bound to still be in existence. I coyly thought to myself, as I ascended the ramp from the parking garage into the mall, that I oughtn't count on this store still being around, the way things were going. But I was still dumbfounded to discover that the shop was indeed closed.

I remembered a little shop near a hospital where Trisa used to work, so I headed there. Yes, the shop still existed, but as I approached, I was stopped by a sign proclaiming that the store's new hours meant it was now closed on Mondays.

So there will be no comics to-day.

Only yesterday I was surrounded by an unimaginably vast universe of comics, and now I can't find one damned shop. So suddenly and violently have I been expelled from heaven. Is it 2006 yet?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The new Boschen and Nesuko is up. Fuck, I'm tired. The text is swimming and my hands are like cheap props. Time to sleep? For a little while . . .

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Was just at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and noticed some sort of "Books For Our Troops" affair against the wall. Decorated with copious red, white, and blue ribbon was a table and a R2D2-sized cardboard box filled with paperback books, which customers donated to troops in exchange for a free drink.

Simple, uncoffeed Me, thought, "Oh, what a nice way to support troops and literature at the same time."

Then I looked in the box and laughed. It was filled with Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele, and a couple books from a so-called "Super Romance" series. Maybe they ought to've called it "Kindling For Our Troops".

It strikes me somehow as a metaphor for the insensitivity of those who support the war. It would take someone with a Harlequin romance brain to foist Harlequin romance on professional soldiers.

They ought to send them with a note; "Bow down before the fluff you serve."

Saturday, July 09, 2005

I think I'll take a cue from Caitlin and try writing one of these things when I'm not awake.

I did the first page of the new Boschen and Nesuko chapter yesterday and it wasn't easy. Which was frustrating, mainly because it didn't make sense for it to be difficult. I mean, I was a good boy and finished the script on Wednesday, storyboarded the first four pages on Thursday, so ought to have been sitting pretty for Friday. But I think I was sick or something.

I was strangely tired and was brained by the dinner I had with my parents and sister at Olive Garden. All that pasta seemed to weigh me down. In the middle of the day I'd had a pretty easy time with the first two panels, which I thought were gonna be the most difficult, and then after dinner I was struggling to put down one line after another for what ought to have been easy panels.

I will say this, though--yesterday was a peculiarly good day for hands. Some days, no matter how many times I erase and start over, pore over photographs and look at my own hand, I can't manage the hand shapes I want. But yesterday, hands were my bitch. Seemed I could make them do anything I wanted which, come to think of it, may merely mean my perception was fucked.

I actually, honest to goodness, gave up halfway through inking the damn thing. Which is like stopping at the 87% mark. I couldn't help it; I felt like there were tons of dishonest lines.

I asked myself what I felt like doing and realised I simply wanted to lie around and watch a movie. I started watching Hellboy but realised what I really wanted was to see a movie I hadn't seen. What I wanted was fresh discourse with an artwork, which, I realised last night, is absolutely vital to my existence.

So I put in High Noon. I liked it a lot. Definitely my favourite Gary Cooper performance so far, although I still don't think I'm appreciating in him what I'm supposed to be appreciating. He usually seems to me just timid and sort of lifeless. I mean, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda had the thing where they could pull back into a kind of bashfulness but, unlike Cooper, they could also spike up into focused passion. That's the thing--Cooper never seemed like he could focus.

His performance in High Noon was helped a little by the fact that he actually had a bleeding ulcer at the time, so there was an extra bit of honest, wincing pain on his face. But mostly, he was merely good enough. Which may've been best in the movie about an ugly, hot, hopeless day in a shoddy little town. Grace Kelly was also a wonderful presence, kind of a good counterpoint of anachronism with her perfect prettiness and accent.

I saw Howl's Moving Castle on Thursday, which was better than Roger Ebert's review had made it out to be. Sure, it wasn't as innovative as Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away. But it was a nice, plain, decent fantasy.

What sort of fantasy? Well, if you have to be an old woman, what would be the best way you could image being one? Perhaps where you're only an old woman because of a curse--you're really young and beautiful--you live in a beautiful wilderness, but can magically reach any shop quickly, and helping you is an obedient and cute little boy who seems to serve no other purpose than being cute and obedient. And also, there's a gorgeous, powerful young man living with you and falling in love with you.

So maybe there's a bit of indulgence in this story. But that's okay. I mean, how many fantasy stories do we have glamorising young manhood? This was kind of a neat change of pace.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I heard about London at around 5am or so. I was just about to go to sleep when I saw Moi's post. I read a few web sites talking about it, and then tried to sleep. Found I couldn't, and switched on the television, first to CNN and MSNBC. I found both, of course, to be comprised of the usual awkward, insensitive readers clumsily wielding their technology. As with 9/11, I wasn't able to find unobtrusive coverage until I got to the BBC.

I hope everyone recovers from this and that this is the end of it. But, hell, I also hope everyone gets to come back from the dead one day. Well-wishes feel rather pointless when you hear about people losing all their limbs, reduced from decent beings of regular human endeavour to peculiar, helpless packages of flesh and blood.

It has my mind turning on a lot of things. I sat in Denny's reading The Call of Cthulhu and thought about how all the beauty and joy of humanity is a small thing in a cold and vast universe. When something like this happens, it's like a hole in our pretty, loose knit scarves.

Probably it was planned by al-Qaida. But what killed those people was fire and kinetics. Al-Qaida may think it controls these things but they'll never get what they want by it. It's not remotely reasonable to expect this will grant them the power they must want. If they are truly the ones responsible, their motives can only be completely delusional, small, and human.

All this shows is that a number of people now shall not be able to continue or obtain happy or fulfilling lives. All this means is that people are dead. All other effects are transitory and insubstantial. And that's why terrorism doesn't work.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I had an incredibly nice day.

Dreamt I lived with a young Joan Crawford in a cold, perpetually night shrouded city with a train. Trains have sure been appearing in my dreams a lot lately.

So I woke up and decided to see a movie. Sitting there contemplating, I thought to myself, "I could see a film of hotly contested virtue. I could see War of the Worlds, or Land of the Dead, and find out where I stand on one of these intriguingly premised movies."

Yes, well and good but, well, I went to see My Summer of Love instead. Am I a chump? What, for picking the movie with the pretty teenage lesbians? I think not.

Roger Ebert's review kind of spoiled the ending, although, part of me thinks I'd have enjoyed the movie less if I hadn't have had a basic idea of where things were going. I dunno. The movie doesn't end as grim as the Ebert review had me anticipating so maybe the foreboding added to the delicacy of some of the scenes.

Anyway, the movie uses merely as a context the story of a girl finding she fancies the gorgeous new rich girl in town. Mona is at the centre of two extremes presented by her brother and the rich girl, Tamsin. Her brother's become Born Again and follows Christ with a nauseating brand of fervour. While Tamsin, meanwhile . . . Well, I won't spoil it.

Suffice to say, I was extremely pleased to find a movie celebrating earnestness as heroism in a world of rampant cynicism and lobotomised zealousness.

Afterwards, I drove down University Avenue in the sunset, listening to Charlie Parker. I can't remember the last time I had a more relaxing day.

Friday, July 01, 2005

New Boschen and Nesuko. It feels shorter than it is. Maybe because there're no eight panel pages with books of dialogue crammed into skinny pink rectangles. Er, enjoy!