Feats of Strength!

Definition - An almost godlike display of courage or might, usually accompanied by chanting onlookers screaming “feats of strength”. (This is of course, the internationally recognized definition. You may find other definitions on the interwebs.)

Feats of Strength

Below are some of my personal examples. Please do not attempt any of these activities at home. They are incredibly dangerous. (Unless you’re trying to impress babes. Which in that case, do all of them at the same time.)

  1. I can eat gluten and dairy products without getting sick.
  2. I once made my bed in complete darkness. When I turned on the lights, it was perfectly tucked.
  3. I have seen “The Sound of Music” seventy-three times.
  4. I once boogie boarded for three straight hours, and wasn’t embarrassed.
  5. I can say cuss words in Croatian.
  6. I successfully separated two frozen turkey patties without endangering myself, or those around me.
  7. I own “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” on VHS.
  8. I have read every single book in the Chronicles of Narnia series.
  9. I can do sit ups under water.
  10. I once met the lead singer of a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band.
  11. I have never fallen off the top bunk.
  12. When I was four, I won a Little Mermaid coloring contest at the local movie theater.
  13. I have kissed a girl before.
  14. I once farted really loud, and then blamed it on the dog. Everyone believed me.
  15. I didn’t get carpal tunnel writing this immensely long list of achievements.

The Great Condom Conundrum

I wish I could speak dog language. Not for conversational reasons. But mainly to tell mine to stop eating condoms. Particularly random ones he finds in bushes outside my house. I’d rather have him roll in a pile of dead fish than play tug of war with that. He found one yesterday. A condom, not a pile of trash that is. Don’t worry though. We both made it out of alive. And after I stopped hyperventilating, I did some pondering. I pondered the age old question that has plagued mankind since the dawn of time - Why do people always throw condoms on the ground?

As a kid I was always puzzled why there were so many “balloons” by the library. Was there a party I missed? Why doesn’t anyone ever let me know? I like books. I love cake. I should be invited too! Then I got older, and realized that all that self loathing was for nothing. Those weren’t balloons. Those were contraceptives. And no big deal, people were just having sex in the parking lot and all over my books. Which I guess is a good life lesson for a child.

But let’s be honest, there’s also a silver lining to all of this. Whoever is having all this bench, library, or car coitus, is at least practicing safe sex. Showing some responsibility. And you have to respect that. The kicker though is, not quite responsible enough to throw them in the trash. Which kind of cancels out the first part.

Although it’s not just parks, and libraries that are littered with condoms, it’s freeways too. I did my fair share of freeway cleaning due to unwise choices in my youth, so I can definitely attest to this fact. Are these people just throwing condoms out of car windows in mid drive? Shouldn’t they be focusing on the road? If texting or talking on your phone tickets are expensive, a “taking a condom off while driving” ticket must be astronomical.

Maybe the answer to all this is we need biodegradable condoms. The tagline on the package could be – “Hey when you’re done, just throw it in the compost pile!” I bet those would sell millions. Or people can just stop being disgusting and throw the fucking condom away. Either or. Sorry, I know this turned into kind of a weird rant. But hey, have a great day!

P.S. – I just found out I’m seeing Billy Joel in concert. Be jealous of my life.

Turtleneck Tuesday

Taco Tuesday is a fantastic institution and a great way to get through the week. But let’s be honest, you have to wait until after the work day is finished to truly enjoy it. Binge drinking, and power eating tacos are not encouraged during most office lunch hours. But neck insulation on the other hand, is always welcome. Not to mention a good turtleneck, screams “smart dresser”.  Here are just a few more reasons to wear turtlenecks on Tuesday besides them both starting with T -

  • They protect your neck from paper cuts
  • Double chins are now camouflaged
  • You automatically look like a jazz musician or college professor. You only have to change your hat, and who doesn’t like options.
  • Scarves make you look like you’re trying too hard. While turtlenecks just mean you’re practical.
  • James Bond and Steve McQueen both wore them.

turtleneck_tuesday

If I couldn’t convince you to wear turtlenecks with the above information, then you’re probably more of a tank top person. And if that’s the case I’d rather not be associated with you. It’s rare that anybody looks good in a tank top. Most people have gross arms and need a tan, or to learn to use gel deodorant. White dreadlocks armpit hair is not attractive for either sex. Not even in Europe. So do yourself a favor, and start wearing turtlenecks. Your neck will thank you.

The amazing artwork is done courtesy of Jon Hunter over at Pastrami Basket. And today is the one year anniversary of his blog. A Pastramiversary if you will. We’ve worked together in the past, on the Dinner Party post, and on my eBook cover. He’s a super talented artist, that you should definitely be checking out. Now go forth and enjoy tacos, neck warmth, and some awesome art.

The Saloon Salon

Andrew Saloon

Process: Script to Comic Page

Whether it’s writing, making a film, or even watching cooking shows, I’ve always been interested in process. I like learning about how things are made, and seeing all the steps laid out separately. So going with that theme, I figured I’d take a crack at one of those on the topic of comics. I’m right in the middle of my latest project Rum Row, and thought this was a perfect opportunity to illustrate how an idea goes from the script to the final colored page. If you hate learning “how the sausage is made”, you can at least look at some cool pictures. Now onward!

Duchess

Some concept artwork for the main zeppelin of our story Rum Row, along with a small headshot of its Captain, Katherine Blanchard.

If you’re a comic fan, you’ve probably seen something similar in the back of a graphic novel or collected edition. After the initial story and characters have been fleshed out, I’ll sit down to write the actual script. I write in “full script” format. I don’t want to bore you with the different styles, but if you’re interest you can go here.

Basically this is where I describe how many panels are going on the page, what happens in each one, and write the dialogue (word balloons) for each character. I copy and pasted page ten of the recent script, then put the finished pencils directly following it. In this example, this is simply an action page. So there won’t be any word balloons. But I think you’ll still get the idea. All the beautiful artwork is courtesy of my collaborator Michele Bandini.

Rum Row Script Page

Page Ten (4 Panels)

1

Outside of the Duchess, we see a group of police zeppelins that read NYPD on the side poking through the clouds, dispersing the air balloons and other ships.

2

Cut to the back of the NYPD zeppelin opening up and police biplanes are exiting. One plane, The Albatross, is larger and different looking then the rest. It actually has helicopter propellers in the wings, so it can hover in place. This is for boarding other ships.

3

The police planes fly by the hot air balloons at full speed. A woman watches through opera glasses, as her drunk husband is puking off the side.

4

Cut to the back of the Police chief looking out the viewing panel of the lead NYPD Zeppelin at the Duchess.

Pencils based on script above

Rum-Row-pag12

I think right off the bat, you’ll notice how informal the script is. Unlike prose, or even screenplays, there’s no poetry to comic book scripts. Generally the only people that read them, are the artist, and maybe an editor if you’re working on a hired gig say for Marvel or DC. It’s basically like a letter to the artist. I write them almost like I’m having a conversation. If you’ve never read one, they can feel disjointed and hard to read with all the panel and page breaks. But you get used to them eventually.

When I work, I usually send over the script to the artist, and he/she will do thumbnails of how they see the page. We discuss it, and once we both agree, then move on to the pencils. I’m not married to any of my scripts. If the artist has a better way of getting the story across, I’ll go with it. If that means more panels, less panels, or even changing things around slightly. Whatever is best for the story. This is collaboration after all, and hopefully both of us want this to be the best we can. I try to think visually when writing these of course. But usually what I envision is nothing compared to what the artist can turn out.

Here's some thumbnail examples of a page, like I was talking about earlier.

Here’s some thumbnail examples of a page, like I was talking about earlier.

Then finally, after the pencils have been drawn, it’s time to ink the page. In professional comics the pencils can be passed off to separate inkers, or the artist may do it themselves. It really depends on time availability and preference. For this project, Michele did both.

After the pencils are inked

Rum Row pag12

Once the page has been inked, the files are sent to the colorists. These days everything is done digitally, and the color options are endless. But back in the early days, they only had four color options to make all their combinations with. Below is the colored version of the page above, and it’s almost finished. The lettering of the page is the final step.

The color is added (Colors courtesy of Derek Dow)

RR_12bAnd that’s it for this page! If there were any dialogue, it would be added now. Then once all the pages have been lettered, they would be sent to the printer or put in PDF form so people could read it digitally.

I hope that wasn’t too painful, and hopefully interesting to non comic fans. I know most, if not all of you are not. But I think if you gave them a chance, you would really dig them. In Japan adults read comics all the time. And they can cover any topic from sports, romance stories, to giant robots. There is no stigma, and they sell like crazy. But in America, they tend to be associated with children and super heroes. Attitudes have improved slightly in recent years, since every other movie made these days is based on a comic, even the non super heroes films surprisingly. Although I still think we’re a ways away from most people reading comics. The Walking Dead is an exception, but hopefully that will change.

One thing I always like to remind non comic readers of, is there is no budget in comics. If you can think it, it can be drawn. If you’re ever interested, or want some suggestions. Just shoot me an email, or tweet at @IhateMaxwell. If you let me know what things you’re into, I promise I can find a couple comics for you. Alright I’ll stop rambling now, and thanks again for reading!

5 Great Reasons For Marriage

wedding-rings-on-hands

This is from http://www.eyeonannapolis.net/. My hands aren’t that pretty.

1. The Facebook “likes” – Are you tired of those Olive Garden pics that only get you two or three likes? With just boring comments like “Yum!” Or “Mmm… Bread sticks!” What you need to do is put a ring on it. After you post that, you’ll have more “likes” than you have friends. You can make it rain “likes”. People who don’t even like or know you, will like your pic. It’s a surefire way to get attention and praise.

2. Bed Bath & Beyond gift cards – Now I love “luau party” scented candles as much as the next guy. But I absolutely hate paying $15 dollars for them. Not to worry though. Once you get married people give you gifts. And those gifts are usually one of two things – microwaves or Bed Bath & Beyond gift cards. So at least half of your presents will be awesome.

3. One last name – I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of having to write two last names when we do anything. My girlfriend is always asking me – “Hey, do want to join a dodgeball league in town? Or maybe go kayaking?” And I always say no, because who wants to do all that extra writing. And dinner reservations, who’s last name do we put it under? Yours or mine? I don’t know, flip a coin. Boom, next thing you know you’re in an argument. Talk about stressful. Thank goodness for name changes.

4. You can finally stop living in sin – Everyone knows that premarital sex is against the law. Plus babies born out of wedlock are usually color blind. The best way to put a stop to these crimes is to get hitched. That is unless you want to live like a pagan. And do you know who else lived like pagans? Druids. And Druids believed in human sacrifice. Just a little something to think about the next time you’re getting randy with your unwed partner.

5. No more farting in secret - Fear of long car rides, or movies will be a thing of the past. As soon as you’re married, just let it rip. Fart as much as you want. On the couch, in the kitchen, or even when you’re hugging. You know, or whatever you want to do. Because now that you’re joined in holy matrimony, everything is out in the open. And the other person has to accept it. All of your secrets. Even fart secrets.

Drunken Book Club with Snake Johnson

Me and some friends recently started a book club. I’d like to say it was to increase our literary prowess. But in reality, I think we just wanted to get drunk on a Thursday. Our first book is James Joyce’s Ulysses. Which is kind of like picking Mount Everest as your first hike. I need Spark Notes to decipher 70% of it. But at least I have something to brag about at a fancy dinner party, or use to bludgeon a burglar if my house is broken into. And while were on the subject of bludgeoning, I think it’s appropriate to bring up what else I’ve been reading to balance out this epic. Something so stupid, violent, and ridiculous that it might very well raise Mr. Joyce from the grave so that he may slap my face. That’s right, I’m talking about 60′s and 70′s men’s adventures novels.

Instead of wasting time explaining the genre, let me just show you. I think you’ll get the idea pretty quickly. Here are some “books” I picked up at the local flea market.

Nuclearnude

Let me share a little excerpt from the back - “Then one of the free-loving flower children pulls a double cross, and Sam is caught by two killers in a torture dungeon – Chinese style.” As you can tell, all these books are very PC. In the first 20 pages, he fights four naked women in a swamp. Later on he teams up with a seven foot triad named Red Rod, as they battle Madam Hung in the perilous Seven Pleasure Isles of Singapore. But this was like reading Dickens compared to my next book.

DM

This may be the best worst book I have ever read. Like EVER. And before I over hype this one, I did some research, and found out there are over 70 novels written about this guy. In one he fights five separate clones of himself! Now I’m only 30 pages in, but let me give you some samples here….

Dialogue -

  • “Hasta luego Hot Tamale!” he said before blowing away a Federale.

Description -

  • ….The Mex Fed’s skull came apart like a jigsaw puzzle hit by a hand grenade!
  • The Death Merchant, feeling as unwelcome as a virgin in Sodom and Gomorrah…

Inner monologue while running through a hotel after killing 14 people in a matter of minutes -

  • Question: How do you hide a 28.7-inch-long submachine gun?
  • Answer: You don’t! And you don’t have time to linger!

Now your surprised you didn’t read this in school along with Catcher and the Rye right? The literary significance is uncanny I know. But let me show you my last book.

Mdeanmerc

I’ve only just started this one also. But in the first 15 pages, his “wild sex” with a French redhead is interrupted by two CIA agents. He answers the door in a bathrobe, that has a special pocket made in the inside for handguns. Which of course is full of handguns. He allows them to enter, only to find out they don’t want to take him in. They want to hire him! He tells them to wait, then goes back to having sex with her in the next room before giving his answer. What a guy!

Now I hope you’ve enjoyed this little walk down Reading With Idiots, because I know I sure did. In honor of all these fantastic reads, I’ve decided to create my own men’s adventure novel. I’m still in the process of writing it. But here’s a rough for the cover -

Andrew Scan

Farmers Market – Dog Etiquette

I went to the farmers market recently with my dog Hardy (aka “War Child”). Lots of other people bring their dogs too, because it’s outside. In a public park, right near the water, and a huge walking trail. But despite all that, this is what a vendor said as we walked by him -

Farmers Mark1Did he realize where he was selling his goat cheese spreads? This is what I saw on my walk over in broad daylight -

Farmers Mark2A homeless gentleman was peeing ON the bathroom, and laughing historically. You can’t really blame him either, because that’s pretty good irony. Very performance art-esque.

I guess all I’m saying is, that when I buy random homemade goods from strangers in a park, I know what I’m getting myself into. So chill out guy. The dogs aren’t walking on your vendor table. Let War Child reign free!

Failing the Internets

I’m a powerful man in the failing arts. Whether it was early attempts to lose my virginity, playing sports, or just trying to make a decent salsa. (Which is actually way harder than you think. After you read this go make an attempt. It will probably taste horrible. )  I even did stand up for a couple years in college, which is like asking for failure on purpose. Failure that you seek out every night from strangers. Even waiting in traffic to do so. Ludicrous I know. I guess all I’m saying is, I have a track record.

Then last summer I was approached to put out an eBook based on this blog. I’ll give you a hint. It failed. I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

When asked initially, I was flattered. The fact that someone besides a parent or friend liked my blog was nice. I’d never had any intentions to do anything with this blog except write it really. It was mainly a thing I just did for fun sometimes. Also the word eBook was fairly new to me. I know, I’m a technology grandpa. But the only experiences I had of “straight to eBook” books, seemed to be from authors looking for a cheap way to put out their glamour projects, and self publish. (Which by the way is definitely not true. There are some talented writers out there that are selling the shit out of their work, and more power to them.) I’m just explaining my mindset when I took on this project.

But first, the publisher wanted to test some of my “articles” on their website. I thought calling them articles was being kind, because I write haiku about dung beetles and pizza. But that aside, I thought it was a fine idea. Some were received fairly well, and then others not so well. And that’s when I got my first taste of internet comments. I’m sure you’ve all read your fair share of horrible comments. But I’ll do my best to explain how they feel when they’re written directly at you. It’s basically like enjoying a perfect day at the beach. The sun is out, you’re getting a tan, and the water is perfect. But then, all of a sudden, a giant great white shark jumps out of the water, and bites off your genitals. It feels kind of like that.

After that response, I couldn’t wait to release the book! (Read in a sarcastic voice). Which we did. And worse than a negative response, it got no response at all. Like “Dad, can you tell Grandma to buy another copy” bad. Suddenly I felt like the thing I was doing for fun became a huge chore, that I invested a ton of time in for nothing. I had something new to add to the failure utility belt. Failing the internets. And after that, I didn’t feel like blogging a whole lot.  Hence the blog sabbatical. (Cry me a river. Why should I care?) Well, I was just going to tell you! Relax! There’s a light to this long, self indulgent piece of nonsense!

As much as I hated this whole process, I learned a lot. That if I you want to write or create things for any type of audience, there will be people that hate it. Even hate you for that matter. And if you put out something, there’s a huge chance that no one will give a shit. But that’s not a reason to stop making things. I have to create things, because my brain will explode if I don’t get them out. I have ideas that I want made, and people will always have their opinions. I’m a nobody with a very small readership. And I’m sure as hell glad I got to experience this on such a small scale, when it doesn’t really matter.

I will have my first big comic project coming out this year. Hopefully in the next 3-4 months, which I will talk about more as we get closer to the date. But in the current days of twitter, blogs, and anonymous commenters. It’s important to get used to the noise. If you read this far, you are a hero. I don’t normally write this long, and rarely get this personal. But I needed to get this out. Thanks for reading, and feel free to share your similar stories of failure. Failure stories are always fun to trade. Also come find me on twitter at @IhateMaxwell too. We can tweet about stuff. Later!

nice

Batman Vs. Thomas Edison

Batman

I decided to do some doodling. Happy Friday.

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