Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Hub Tournament Returns

Filming for Mission Park Street Stories continues with a very special episode.  Fans of High Heel Samurai should take note, because we're revisiting the Hub Tournament!  This is a style event, and prepping for the episode has been intense.

As a special preview, check out the Official Hub Tournament Poster:


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Darwyn Cooke Remembered

Darwyn Cooke passed away on Saturday, May 14.

Mr. Cooke is one of my absolute favorite comic book artists, and a huge inspiration.  His amazing graphic novel "DC:  The New Frontier" stands out as one of the greatest superhero stories ever told, and if you've never read it, I highly recommend that you do.

There are very few people working in the comic book industry that can both write a compelling story, and draw the art.  

Darwyn Cooke was one of those few.  He will be missed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Time Traveling With Comics

For fans of comics and sci-fi, it is possible to go back in time.  I know it's true, because just last week I made a trip to the late 1990's.

It was a rainy night, and I found myself drawn to an old copy of Stan Lee's and John Buscema's classic book "How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way" resting on my bookshelf.  For aspiring comic artists, this book is a must, and I think anyone who's ever wanted to draw superheroes owns a copy.  Most likely stacked between a couple of books written by Christopher Hart.

I don't specifically remember when I purchased my copy, but it had to be somewhere around 6th or 7th grade.  The late 90's...

Truth be told, I haven't opened my copy in years, but there was a time when I referred to it daily.  So much, that the book has taken on a worn look well beyond that of many others on my shelf.

I've heard that opening up old comics and re-reading them years (or even decades) later has a somewhat transportive effect on people, taking them back to a simpler time, when they were younger.  I've even experienced it myself with some classic issues in my collection.  But I was surprised how Stan Lee's drawing manual had the same effect.

I was reminded how much I practiced, and how long it took me to get my drawing where I wanted it to be.  Knowing that even now, I'm still refining my technique.  When I was younger, I wanted my art to look just like the pros, but looking back, the continued struggle to refine and grow is what keeps it exciting every single day!

Oh, and if you're planning to be the next great comic book artist, you can check out Stan's book by Clicking Here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

In Defense of Mary Sue: Part II

Last week, I wrote about Mary Sue.  I defended her.  I talked about how invoking her name to describe poor characterization has been done to death by critics, and how doing so is limiting a writer's creative possibilities.

This week, I'll be talking about the occasions when writers do create a "True Mary Sue," guilty of everything the name implies.

To begin, the "True Mary Sue" (TMS) is not the same as a well written "Smart, Strong, and Attractive" (SSA) character.  Many well written and popular characters, especially in comics and sci-fi, are SSAs.

It takes more than being just smart, strong, and attractive to be a TMS, but with so many people shouting "Mary Sue" left and right, it can be hard to know when a TMS might just be surfacing in your writing.  As a guide, I've put together the five defining traits of the TMS for easy reference.

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The five defining traits of a True Mary Sue:

1.  The TMS never makes mistakes.  A well written SSA rarely make mistakes.  It's a subtle, but important, difference.  The SSA isn't perfect.  Eventually, they'll screw up.  That's what makes watching them learn from their actions and grow so compelling.  The TMS never grows because they're already perfect.

2.  The TMS is considered perfect in the eyes of the other characters within the story.  The TMS is never second-guessed, or questioned.  Unlike the TMS, a well written SSA is surrounded by characters willing to question his/her decisions and actions.  More importantly, the SSA will question himself/herself.  The TMS is never questioned, and never questions himself/herself, because he/she is never wrong.  Characters in the story who would normally disagree with a particular opinion or action will change their views if it is coming from the TMS.  In extreme cases of poor writing, the TMS makes questionable or outright bad decisions that are blindly supported by the other characters in the story.

3.  The TMS lacks evidence of greatness.  While the SSA can often be loved and praised, it is the result of specific "in-story" actions and events that show why other characters would love and praise them.  The TMS needs no in-story evidence.  Their greatness is a birthright.  They're great because they're great!

4.  The TMS is never challenged.  The SSA, despite his/her greatness, struggles.  The SSA requires the help of others to make the right choice, and requires the help of others to assist in the win.  The TMS requires no outside assistance, and the win is easy.  Without any conflict, there is no story.

5.  The TMS develops spontaneous abilities (mental or physical) to solve problems.  Because the TMS requires no support from anyone, spontaneous abilities are often required to secure the win.  Nobody has the ability to do everything, but it's a requirement for the TMS.  That's why they need spontaneous abilities.  Without them, there's no writing them out of a jam.

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So there you have it, the five traits of the True Mary Sue!

As you refer back to your own character, be advised that the TMS needs to have all five traits to really be a TMS, so don't judge your character too harshly.  But if you do think your character fits all five, just remember, a TMS can be transformed into a SSA with some minor adjustments.

Happy Writing!