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Death to the paperwork monster!

Posted by Eric Johnson on June 16, 2010 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Of course, on some level, I realized that taking 6 days out of town to do the convention and see family, that paperwork would accumulate while I was gone.  And, of course, rationally speaking, I expected to have a huge pile of work waiting for me when I got back to work today.


Knowing something, and actually seeing something are often very different things, however.


I'll be working on slicing this pile of "to do" items down to size for a while, I think.

Daily Blog Postings - FAIL!

Posted by Eric Johnson on June 16, 2010 at 5:33 PM Comments comments (0)

Yep.  I failed to keep anything like a daily blog posting going for a while now.


In retrospect, the mistake I made was to try and get my daily blogging habit going right before the big lead up to working my first convention.


Not only did I have con prep, but I also had to work like crazy at work to have a clean in-box before the very extended weekend and extra time off.


If I had developed a daily habit BEFORE the crazy hectic time, maybe it would have worked.  As thnigs ufolded, I don't think I had a chance.


Still, I think the debt of postings is not insurmountable.


And this blog entry counts.   :)

A Con Report I thought would be brief...

Posted by Eric Johnson on June 14, 2010 at 12:37 PM Comments comments (3)

Cherry Capital Con 2010 is behind me.

Official con website: http://www.cherrycapitalcon.com/

 

The box of comics I brought to sell isn't much lighter than when I first put it in the car. But, I got the experience of "working a con" in my hometown.

 

Saw old friends, including at least one that it was really important to see about now, with what's going on in his life.

 

My being there got my family members to come by and see the con, have the neat experience.

My sister brought her two boys by, which was great. Pics here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=58114&id=1078812761

 

The trip down to Traverse City let my friend Pat, set up his wife Keri (who was my booth assistant) where he came down to TC two days after we did to surprise her for a lead-in to their anniversary.

 

While he was here, Pat also slapped on his pirate costume (the one with the awesome hat) and jumped into the costume contest at the last moment. I hope I can find on the internet somewhere a pic of him doing the Captain Morgan pose on the stage.

 

As I hinted above, sales were slow, even though I was giving a 2/3rds off discount for a "back to my hometown" sale. Got a few people to buy all 6 comics though. Had one person say "I just got this most recent issue online", then he picked up the other 5. Another person who just bought FemForce early back issues at the big retailer nearby, then got the new issues from me, saying he was a huge Bill Black fan. One person bought all 6 issues after hearing me explain my "Fantasia" character from the 1-900-Giantess stories.

 

Several non-buying browsers said things like "FemForce? I've heard of that, not sure where." or "FemForce? Those guys are still publishing?"

 

Left Keri to watch the booth while I attended two writing-related panel presentations on Saturday. Daniel Way had some interesting info on breaking into writing for the mainstream comic book publishers.

 

The second panel was on the collobrative process between writer and artist. Panel was Daniel Wray again, Steve Dillon, and Jason Aaron. I was kinda gratified that much of the stuff in the second panel, I had already learned by experience.

 

Cool moment towards end of con, in final push to get more donations for the MS fundraiser, and the various comic book stores one-upping each other with donations. I threw in a few bucks, of course.

 

Hung out and chatted with cool people in the booth next door.

Go check out Bruce Gerlach's home page, he and his lady are nice people: http://www.tattooed-sky.com/

 

He's done a lot of sketch cards and editorial cartoon type stuff. And has some neat prints too.

More importantly, having the booth next to him made the con a lot less boring for both Keri and I.

Plus, he bought my comic, so he has a good soul. :)

 

My other booth neighbor to my left was Eric Mullarky. Self-publishing under "New Baby Productions". He and I didn't talk as much. We had the gap between our tables for exhibitors to get in and out of the "island" of tables. I did buy his "Elemental Fources" 6-issue mini-series. His pitch line was "Superheroes mixed in with Hellboy and the DaVinci Code".

Self-publishing in hard, so check out his website, see what you think: www.ElementalFources.com

 

Wrote first draft of two scripts for 8 page comic stories during the slow times at the booth. The next "Gammazon Housewife" story, and another "Ali Bastur and her Forty Feet" comedy. Both hopefully coming to a future issue of Gargantarama near you. I guess being at a con gets me in the mood to write. Hopefully, the transition from written first draft to typed-up submission draft is a smooth one.

 

Big thanks to Keri for being by "booth assistant". And to Pat for letting me "borrow his wife" for most of a weekend. :) Also thanks to Marty for driving me down, and doing some quick last-minute gophering. Of course, thanks to friends and family for stopping by and seeing me at the table, which helped make it feel much more 'real' and definitely more worthwhile.

 

My final summary of my first time working "behind the table" at a con: "Sure, net loss in money terms, but big net plus in life experience."

Almost forgot that was coming up... Going Postal

Posted by Eric Johnson on May 30, 2010 at 4:11 PM Comments comments (0)

I was just reminded by a news post.


This week on the BBC will be the TV movie adaptation of "Going Postal", one of the great Discworld novels by Terry Pratchet.  The third such live-action adaptation by the BBC.


Discworld is one of the few book series I still find time to read, even with my "reading a lot less books" lifestyle of the past few years.  When a new one comes out, I get it, and devour it in a year or two.


The interesting thing about the series, from a "craft of writing" point of view, is how much it's changed over the years.   It started as just a satire of various fantasy sub-genres, then became a world of it's own, with a very distinct voice. And with several different "sub-series" running in parallel, featuring different characters and viewpoints and themes, but the same world.  Up to 38 (!) novels now, if you count the "young adult" spinoff books (which I do), plus 6 short stories that take place in Discworld.


Also, Mr. Pratchett's writing skills and focus for the series changed a lot over the years.  Which leads to an almost universal agreement among fans that the first two books, for example, aren't really up to the quality of the later fare, when the author hit his stride.


Why are the first two books not as well liked?  Well, the short answer is:   The first two books are a satire of the fantasy genre, straight up, no apologies.   Sometime after that, though, Discworld became about using a fantasy world to satirize real world issues and situations.   Which ended up being both much funnier, and something that Sir Pratchett does very, very well.


Now this leads to the great "reading order" controversy among Discworld fans.  Debating what's the best answer to the question from the uninititated potential reader, "Which book should I start with?"


This leads to diagrams like this:

[url]http://www.lspace.org/books/reading-order-guides/the-discworld-reading-order-guide-1-5.jpg[/url]


I say,  "Man up, and start with the first book.  With the acknowledgement that the first two won't be as good, but they help set up characters, ideas, and places you will see later."


However,  if you really don't find the first book agreeing with you, do one of the following:


1) If  you want to start with the earliest book possibly, start with "Mort".   It's the first book that's really "Discworld" as people think of the current series, rather than what it started as.  Plus, you get to see the Discworld version of Death, who's quite the iconic figure.


2) If you know your Shakespeare, then consider starting with Wyrd Sisters.  It's got lots of MacBeth references, is a great book overall, and is the real start of the "Witches of Lancre" sub-series, which has some of the best characters.


3)  Otherwise, "Guards! Guards!" is a solid starting spot.  You'll learn about Ankh-Morpork, the city that features in many of the stories, and it's the start of the "City Watch" sub-series, which is one of the most used sub-series (7 novels, plus they show up elsewhere).  And Commander Vimes is one of the most interesting and developed characters of the series.


Now, I've just plugged one of my favorite fantasy book series.  But how does it tie into this website?


Well, because I've got a similar problem....   what should I say if someone asks me "Where do I start if I want to read FemForce?"  or "Which of your comic book issues should I read first?"


I'm writing stories that tie into a comic book continuity that is over 150 issues and over 25 years old.   That's a lot of backstory to worry about.  And unlike Sir Terry Pratchett, I don't have legions of fans to spread the word, and make cool flowchart diagrams like above.


So, got to do it myself.


The Eric Johnson "new fan reading guide". Coming to a blog post soon....


(I'm at about -4 on my blog post debt meter.  Catching up, but still need some work to be at one per day average).

Current Season of Doctor Who

Posted by Eric Johnson on May 30, 2010 at 3:32 PM Comments comments (0)

Really liking the current season of Doctor Who.


A few observations


1)  Matt Smith has clicked into place for me as the Doctor faster than any other regeneration, I think.


I was willing to accept him as the Doctor early on the first episode, and by the time of his verbal confrontation with some aliens at the end, I *believed* it.


This bodes well.   As an actor, Matt needs to find his own voice for the role, but he and the writers have already done enough that I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until he's really hit his groove.


2)  Amy Pond is shaping up to a be a really first-rate traveling companion for the Doctor


- Her method of introduction to the Doctor in the first episode gives her a unique relationship with the Doctor and makes her better suited to dealing with the things she runs into.  She's not just "another young woman" who steps onto the TARDIS.   She's got a history and attitude towards the whole thing we haven't seen before


- As an actress, Karen Gillan is doing an amazing job so far.  Arguably, she's out-acted the lead in several of the early episodes.  Which is fine.  Companions are viewer-indentification characters more than the Doctor sometimes.  And a shared spotlight is good.


- As a male nerd, I must confess it doesn't hurt that Amy Pond might be one of the sexiest female stars the show has seen in a long time.  For me, probably the most attractive since Leela.  And by sexiness, I'm counting the combination of looks and attitude.    Peri may have shown some cleavage and Teagan may have had nice legs that she showed off a lot, but as a young man, neither really appealed to me.  Too much "Damsel in Distress", and they weren't always written as the brightest.  Amy is attractive, but she's not just eye candy.


- Assuming the good work with this character continues, I hope they keep her around for more than one or two seasons.  She could end up being one of my favorite companions, right up there with Leela, Romana, K-9, Ace and Sarah Jane Smith.  (my personal opinion of the "best" of course)


3) The overacing plotline for the season seems more integrated into each episode.


(**** Possible Spoilers ****)

The cracks are showing up, and the Doctor and his Companion are *noticing* them. And we explore the thing and what it might mean *before* something showing up as a "big reveal" in the last one or two episodes.  This is a GOOD thing.   Ties it all together and makes it seem less like coming out of nowhere.  This is what we call good writing and well done foreshadowing.  Wish there was more of that on television.


4)  Nods to continuity, while still blazing it's own path as a new series.


(**** More spoilers ****)


- the return of River Song

- reboot of the Daleks

- return of the Weeping Angels

- new version of the Silurians (an enemey going back to the Third Doctor!)


These were all things done in such a way so as to please old fans to some degree (the Dalek re-design being debateable and controversial there), but still set up to appeal to newer viewers.   It's a tough balance, but I think they are pulling it off.


So, if you care about this one lone nerd's opinion, then Doctor #11 and his first season (aka Season 5 of reboot, even if the BBC doesn't call it that), gets the Thumbs Up and a high reccomendation.


And if you are a sci-fi fan who doesn't watch Doctor Who, then this new season is a *decent* jumping on point to start with the first episode of this run.  But really, if you like this genre, do yourself a favor, and start with the beginning of the re-boot, with Christopher Eccelston.  Sure, the first season isn't quite as good as the following ones. But wade through it, it's still prety good, and it only gets better as it goes on.  It's worth the ride.

From a note I recently sent someone...

Posted by Eric Johnson on May 30, 2010 at 3:22 PM Comments comments (0)

Here's an little chunk out of a note I just sent someone:


***************

Ever been exchanging correspondence with someone, then something comes up, you have a bunch of bad days in a row, and totally can't get back to it?


Then, you resolve to get back to the time-delayed conversation, but there's a slight additional delay as you get your thoughts back together. Then you think you better take the time to come up with a really long, detailed response to make up for the drop in conversation?


Then, you fall further behind, and the person has other posts and stuff you should respond to, but you tell yourself you can't, not until you write that really long first response to the first thing you *Promised* yourself you'd get done?


Then the list of things the person posts gets longer and longer, but you just can't bring yourself to post a one word or one sentence response. Not when you should write this person a whole letter first....

******************


This is how I fall out of touch with people on the internet for a while.  It's a pattern I've done before.


I bet I could make it a pattern with blogs too, if I'm not careful.






Beginner's Mistake out of the way....

Posted by Eric Johnson on May 23, 2010 at 4:47 PM Comments comments (2)

Well, I did that stupid thing....


I spent about 45 minute writing a blog post.    Quite a few words.  Longest one yet.


Several pages long.


Moderately clever.   Pretty well constructed, I thought.


(some of you probably know where this is going already)


I had an extended metaphor built up.  And a lead up to future blog posts.

Hundreds of carefully constructed words.


Then, I clicked publish. 


and got sent to a page for me to log into my account.   My session had timed out.


Entered my name and password to log in.   And got a black blog post entry page....

Everything lost due to session timeout.  No way to recover using back button or anything.


I hadn't even hit  "save as draft" every so often...


I KNOW better than this.


Stupid, stupid beginner's mistake.


Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to find the best way to kick myself repeatedly.



Ambitions of Daily Blog Posts

Posted by Eric Johnson on May 22, 2010 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (2)

So, I've set myself the goal of posting one blog post here every day.


Shouldn't be too tough, right?  Lots of people do that, and more, on a blog.


Of course, I'll have to have something worth "saying" each day.  I'm not really the type of person to blog about a random boring day, but since it's happening to ME, I'll share the details of the day with everyone who stops by the appropriate website.


Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.  Some people just like to share, talk about what's going on, and keep everyone informed as to what's up.  Not usually me. I can be a pretty private person at times.


And I'll need to do *some* slice-of-life stuff.  If nothing else, then distant friends and family can get some way of seeing what's up with me life.  I just need to find something worth talking about each day that I don't mind hypothetically sharing with the whole online world.   Avoid the "baring-my-soul" extreme, as well as the trap of TMI, while still opening up enough to find something worthwhile to write about.


And, I'm setting myself some ground rules for this blogging.   I've established 5 categories.   This should keep me to containing my subjects to mostly things covered in the main areas of the website.   Which should also help me safely avoid hot button topics like politics or religion or philosophy.   Not that I don't have a lot to say in those areas, but there's other places to discuss that kind of stuff.


So, my goals with this blog:


1) Establish the disipline of writing something each day.  Even if it's just a paragraph.  Get in the habit, and keep up the basic reflex to type up something with a coherent sentence structure every day.


2) Provide an easy way to regularly add content to the website between publication of comic books or mission arcs.   Get it out there what I'm working on, how it's going, etc.


3) Have a blog where my regular updates can provide an opportunity to see how I'm doing for friends and family that are interested.  Yes, I'm neglectful at keeping up communication sometimes.  I hope to have this mitigate that somewhat.


And, in the interest of sneak previews, here's the topics which are currently bouncing around in my heads as good blog topics for this site, and likely to show up soon:


- The Mission Architect of the City of Heroes game.  Why I love it and my frustrations with some recent issues.


- AC Comics, FemForce, Good Girl Art, and what they mean to me.


- A thank you letter to people I don't even know personally, several years overdue, for how their work helped me get it together and submit my first scripts to AC.


- Pen and paper RPGs with superhero themes.  Why my two favorites are so different, and why the worse one of the two got a lot more use from me in the end.  Maybe some thoughts on the official FemForce RPG from years ago, and how RPG game mechanics can impact sexism in storytelling.


-  Weekly reccomendations of comic books to read.  Thinking of doing two suggestions a week, split into a light vs. dark or heavy vs. light dichotomy.   Still mulling that over.


- going over the list of webcomics I read regularly


Hopefully, that will be enough to get me through the first few weeks.  :)


Welcome aboard, anyone who's reading this.  Hope I can at least make it interesting enough to be worth the time it takes to read it.



Going to Cherry Capital Con

Posted by Eric Johnson on May 21, 2010 at 8:43 AM Comments comments (0)

So, why this month to get a website up and running?

Well, so I'd have something to put on a business card to give out at a convention...


I'm going to be going to Cherry Capital Con on June 12th and 13th.


http://www.cherrycapitalcon.com

 

And, I'm not just going as a fan, I went ahead and rented an exhibitor's table...

 

...Yep, I'll be sitting behind a table, watching the comic book fans walk by for hours and hours... Just like a "real" comic book creator! (well, except I'll probably be ignored more by passer-bys than most people who bother to pay for a table).

 

Got the website up and going, so now I need to get some business cards made, some flyers, maybe some basic signage.... got some stuff to do in next few weeks.

 

I'll have a sign that says something like "Eric Johnson, Traverse City guy and published amateur comic book writer." I'll be selling my issues of AC comics at a discounted rate and signing them for the interested.

 

So, anyone near Traverse City, stop by and see me at the con, so I don't get TOO lonely. :)

 

Friends in tight financial situations who can make it to Traverse City, let me know if you need one of the spare con passes I bought. And for close enough friends,  crash space in Traverse City can also be found for those who wish to avoid hotels.

Guess it's time to declare this thing open...

Posted by Eric Johnson on May 20, 2010 at 12:03 PM Comments comments (7)

Well, here it is.  I've got a website.


Most who come here should have at least *some* idea as to who I am.   A hypothetical visitor at this stage is either friend, family, or someone following a link from my sig file from another website of mutual interest. So, probably not a lot of fresh, vibrant, and new content for most people.  But it is some information nicely arranged in one place. 


Still a bit of work to do, such as on the Links section. I've got to ask a lot of artists for permission to link to their sites, for example.


Still, it's satifying to be able to declare this website "mostly done".


Now, the blog section...  Let's see how close to once-a-day posting I can get for a while....


The journey of a thousand miles beings with a single step.  Guess that makes this a single step.


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