ADVICE: Be a Peformer and Write Like a Boss

Ragnaruck

cropped-cropped-8f6df-typewriter1971ws255b2255d1.jpgFull disclosure: Yes, I am the furthest thing from a writing “expert”, however that won’t stop me from sharing my own personal insight on the matter.

I’ve said it elsewhere in writing workshops and online studios, and I’ve said it here: (most) writing is performance art. Why? Because it is done with the notion that someone — hopefully many someones — other than the author will read it. So my sound advice is for any writer expecting an audience is that you should WRITE AS IF YOU ARE A PERFORMER of the highest calling and with the highest reputation. Why? Because you’ll write to your best ability. That means your spelling should be precise, your grammar nearly impeccable, your diction on-point and your syntax sensational. Even if you’re just blogging (which is essentially what I’m doing here as I write this), write as if MILLIONS will be reading your words…

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Christopher Reeve is Superman

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We now live in a renaissance of super-hero movies, two or more movies a year is common place. This was not always the case. In 1978 the first of the big screen super-hero movies would arrive. Superman: The Movie.

I happened to catch it on TV the other night, it still holds up. Yes, it is a little cheesy but that is ok. It has heart and a sense of hopefulness.

And it has Gene Hackman being a bucket full of awesome as usual. (Love Hackman, just love him.)

Most importantly though it had Christopher Reeve. For many, myself included, Christopher Reeve was Superman. He was the Superman we grew up on and he was the Superman we think of when someone mentions the movies. Yes other actors have played the part. George Reeves, Dean Cain, Brandon Routh, to the current actor Henry Cavill. They each brought something to the role but we keep returning to Reeve.

Christopher Reeve is Superman, emphasis on the ‘man’.

That is where some writers and filmmakers lose me. They get distracted by the incredible power of Superman that they forget about the man-part. Reeve is corny as you can get but it works. You absolutely believe that he was raised in Kansas and you believe that he could fly. If you were an all-American kid from Kansas who could fly you would be a little corny too. There is the gravitas that comes from such powers, but there is also the joy.

It often comes down to nature-versus-nuture. Yes Superman is a Kryptonian with fantastic powers, but he was raised on a farm in Kansas. This is no stranger in a strange land. Kansas is his home not Krypton. He is so human and you see that in Reeve’s portrayal. There is humour, but more important there is humanity.

Watching that first movie I remember what made so many love the character of Superman but more importantly his better half Clark Kent. Kal El is not the super one, it is always Clark.

The powers do not make him a hero but his humanity.

 

 

 

Finding your own Fandom

I found myself in a discussion today about the choices we make when spending our money on our various forms of fandom.

I do not want to call anyone out directly so I will not use any names. If anyone takes offense in apologize but you got me thinking.

In talking about the state of comics someone told me there were books they liked, by creative teams they liked, with stories they liked that they simply would not buy these books.

I was dumbfounded.

Why would they not buy them?

Their main reason. They did not like editorial. Not the editors of the particular books or even the editors of the group of books. They did not like the editors of the entire company. For that reason they would not buy any books from the company.

This did not compute to me. I understand everyone has to decide how they will spend their money. We all work hard for what we have. Ultimately we choose how to disperse those funds. I just could not understand what they thought this would change.

For me if you find something that brings you joy you support it while you can.

Not buying books you like to make some greater point seems counteractive. It is so easy for that hated editorial to simply decide that your voice does not matter. To decide that they were right all along and we did not want that anyways.

If we buy things we like and do not buy things we do not like that makes the greater statement. It says: “I like this, give me more of this thing right here”

It is a choice we all must make alone.
For all of us I just hope we find the joy, find the things that touch our soul. If nothing else I hope we all keep searching.

Blowing Up The Marvel Universe-part three

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What started as a two-part column has morphed into three. Sometimes good ideas cannot be contained. So here we have the final entry in my recreation of the Marvel Universe, hope you enjoy.

For the second part look here.

When we last left our intrepid heroes (I just always wanted to write that)…

As the RISE event continues it is clear the world needs its heroes. A great danger has risen in the Savage Land while the worlds premier superteams still stand down. The fifth week re-introduces some old favorites:

Daredevil

While other heroes deal otherworldly threats, someone must protect the common man. Daredevil is just that someone.

Nightcrawler

Kurt Wagner has lost his friends, he even lost his life. He never gave up hope.

X-Force

Cannonball and Dani Moonstar bring together X-Force once more in search of their one-time mentor Cable.

Rocket Raccoon

Rocket (do not call him a Raccoon) is one of a kind, and he plans on staying that way. While not saving the other Guardians Rocket will take any job if the price is right..

The entire rebuilding of the Marvel line has been building to this point. One of the things I wanted to do with this reboot was pare down the seemingly thousands of X-books and Avenger related titles. I wanted to break things down to their barest essentials.

As the world of men faces a dire threat the worlds greatest heroes return from their self-imposed exile. Week six commences:

The Uncanny X-Men

Scott Summers returns from space to lead the team he was born to lead. Who will make up this new team of X-Men?

Ryder and Vaughn

Quasar was the Protector of the Universe, but he couldn’t save his best friend. Now he crosses galaxies to bring Nova back.

The Avengers

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes return with Hawkeye at the helm. Iron Man, Scarlet Witch and Thor stand at his side as they forge a new team of Avengers.

Finding their way past the guilt of past failings the heroes of the Marvel Universe return to where they belong. Between the people they have pledged to protect and that which threatens them.

When it comes to a choice of them or no one, these heroes will always make the right choice. They will RISE.

It was a fun ride, but difficult. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

 

Blowing Up the Marvel Universe-part two

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This is the second part of my column relating my own way of restarting the Marvel Universe, you can find the rest here
Putting a universe back together is a gargantuan task. While looking to the future you must respect the past. That brings us to week two:

Fantastic Four

The first family of the Marvel Universe returns-battered but still standing.

A Man Called Doom

Some call him Lord and Master, others call him monster. For one and all he will forever be known as Doom.

Captain America

He is a hero from another time, is this former soldier running out of time?

The Invincible Iron Man

As Tony Stark struggles with guilt and self-doubt the Mandarin makes his return.

The Black Widow

Natasha Romanov was not always a Super Hero, a fact that she is about to be reminded of…

Dr. Bruce Banner-the Incredible Hulk

He is the scientist, he is the Monster. For once he can be both at once. Watch out world.

The picture starts to come into focus as the 2nd issue of RISE arrives. Heroes begin to determine if there is a place for them in the world they failed, as new threats begin to gather. When taking things apart like this you cannot simply go back to the status quo. Things must change, decisions must be made as we enter week three. New heroes step up while the familiar faces find their way.

Excalibur

The sword is drawn…that sword is Excalibur. Kitty Pride brings Captain Britain, Nightcrawler and Rachel Summers back together to protect their world.

Ms. Marvel

Kamala Khan is still discovering what it means to be Ms. Marvel and to be a hero

New Warriors

Justice, Speedball, Kid Nova, Spider-Girl, White Tiger and Reptil come together as the New Warriors. If the Avengers wont do their job then the Warriors will.

Captain Marvel

Carol Danvers remembers the previous Captain Marvel, she only hopes she can live up to that legacy.

Gambit

Remy LeBeau is used to being the one stealing things, when an ancient treasure is stolen from the Thieves Guild Gambit must take action.

The Young Marvels

Kevin Green is the new hero Prime. He joins Ms. Marvel, Patriot, Hulkling and Kate Bishop as the New Marvels trying to find their way as heroes without a net.

With the Avengers and the X-men still nowhere to be found teams begin to form to fill the void as we enter the fourth week former allies come together once again.

The Defenders

Doctor Stephen Strange, Namor, the Silver Surfer and the Incredible Hulk come together once again to battle other worldly threats. How long will it last this time?

The Invaders

Captain America is an Avenger-no more. The Invaders are his team now. Joining him is Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier. Who else will answer their call?

X-Factor

The government-sponsored mutant team is back. But who exactly is the new team?

The InHumans

Black Bolt has returned when the InHumans need him most.

The end is within sight. A few more tweaks and we will have seen the Marvel Universe rise from its own ashes.

Hopefully in part three I can stick the landing.

 

Blowing Up the Marvel Universe-part one

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Marvel Comics has their usual big events coming up. Avengers/X-Men Axis, Time Runs Out follow quickly after Original Sin. There are rumblings. There are suggestions. The popular thought is that Marvel Comics is thinking of doing a company wide reboot. After all DC Comics managed to do a mostly successful one with their New 52. So Marvel taking a shot at one would not be a surprise.

So how should we proceed…

Don’t call it a Reboot…

This should simply be a reset. We are not rebuilding the wheel here, we do not need to build the universe over from scratch. Keep all of the previous continuity. That was the mistake DC made. Fans wondered what counted and what did not. Problems can be fixed through the stories without saying that this or that never happened. They do it all the time in the comic book world so why not here and now.

So start with a tragedy, not something born of some super-villain. Something born of everyday life-natural disaster, political conflict, terrorism, pick one. The heroes failed. They had one job, protect the everyman and woman out there from harm. They did not. They failed and they only have themselves to blame. Everything falls apart. No more X-men, no Avengers. The world turns.

After the fall, heroes must RISE.

Start with an eight issue bi-weekly event series titled RISE. It would tell the story of the heroes coming back from the brink to once again do the jobs they were meant for.

During the first week of the event series I would start releasing new series slowly. A few at a time, until you have the starting line of books released. Here we go…

Tales to Astonish

an anthology series telling stories from across the entirety of the Marvel Universe. With the ongoing feature-Old Man Fury.

The first issue would feature a story about Old Man Fury(the original Nick Fury) and Samuel L. Fury battling the supernatural force of nature Fury in an epic tale that has to be called “A Boatload of Fury’s”

Illuminati

They broke it, now is time for them to fix it. The Illuminati were the shadows manipulating things behind the scenes. They thought they knew best. They were wrong. Now they are back to make up for past mistakes. Only thing is…what is the Red Skull doing with them?

The Amazing Spider Man

Peter Parker is the most pure, most human of the heroes. How does he balance being a hero with dealing with how they all have failed?

Thor-God of Thunder

Even Gods can fall. For all his power some things are beyond even Thor’s reach.

FireArm

Alec Swan was once an elite special agent, now an P.I. He lost friends when the heroes failed. Even now he continues to be drawn into the heroes world, whether he likes it or not.

Deadpool

Wade Wilson is the Merc with the Mouth. Mad, bad and dangerous to know. He may be crazy but we still love him.

Guardians of the Galaxy

They may protect the galaxy but Earth is still Peter Quill’s home. Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Groot and even Rocket Raccoon definitely have an interest in the little blue planet.

Now we are rolling downhill. Just getting started. So how exactly do you rebuild and entire comic universe? Check out part two to find out…

 

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy-buncha losers…

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A talking raccoon and a tree walk into a bar…

I was sold on this movie from the get go. Not from the first scenes, not even from the first trailers they released. But from the very first I heard that the movie was being made. They had me from the word go.

When it was announced the Guardians of the Galaxy would star a walking tree of few words and a sarcastic raccoon many were beyond skeptical. Me, I thought it was brilliant. Yes I already had some familiarity with the characters, even without that I loved it.

It is fun. That is all. Fun. Too often movies miss out on that element of film-making, the joy.

What brought me in was not that we had another superhero movie, it was that it was a space hero movie. From Star Wars to Star Trek and beyond I love sci-fi and space movies. I cut my teeth on Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers on TV in the early eighties. More recently I found unending joy in Firefly and Farscape (one of the best sci-fi series ever), even if both series ended before their time.

There are no true superhero movies. You just have movies staring superheroes. It is that simple. Whether it is a cop movie or fantasy or action-adventure story, simply add a superhero and you have your superhero movie.

What made this awesome was taking superheroes and putting them in space. All the questions about realism go out the window, because you are already taking a leap of faith setting it in a far corner of the galaxy.

Guardians did a wonderful job of introducing unknown characters(to most of the audience) in short order. Even better it let you care about them. Yes it was heavy on the laughs, even in the face of danger. That is ok too. It is human, even if the characters are not.

Even after we get used to the jokes they managed to turn it around and shine a light on what loss these characters have suffered. Star Lord was taken from his home as a child, Gamora tortured and turned into a weapon by her adoptive father, Drax’s family was slaughtered, Rocket did not ask to be made and remade and experimented on. Groot is the purest of these characters. The best friend of Rocket he only speaks two sentences in the whole movie: “I am Groot” over and over again, and towards the end of the movie “We are Groot”. Groot had found his family. In the end they discover that they are each others family.

We all have been losers at one point or another. As Rocket said, “We all have dead people”. They come together because they are losers, people who have lost.

We could all learn something from these losers.