Around the Web: More websites for writers, advice, and stories to read

By G. Robert Frazier

Regular readers of this blog know I sometimes like to share interesting stories I come across on the web. Some of these are about reading, some about writing. The more you know, as they say…

The Writer’s Life released its 100 Best Websites for Writers on Monday. The list is conveniently broken into seven categories, which is extremely helpful in finding just the site that suits you. Categories include: Blogging, entrepreneurship, creativity and craft, freelancing, marketing, publishing, and writing communities. I’m excited and a bit depressed to see so many different sites here that I have not visited before. Excited because I like discovering new things and reading new voices, especially if it can be helpful to me in anyway. Depressed because I really don’t have time to go exploring a bunch of new websites and keeping up with them. Hey, I’ve got writing to do!

CNBC posted an interesting article last Sunday about three publishers who are changing the comic book industry. And no, none of them is Marvel or DC. The article spotlights Dynamite, IDW and Boom publishers. I still collect comic books – a hobby I started in the late 1970s – but over the last decade my love of Marvel and DC comics has eroded. I no longer pick up books from either publication unless they are reprinted oldies that can fill gaps in my collection. I long ago grew tired of the endless crossovers, the over-proliferation of titles, rising prices, and deteriorating quality of work by the Big Two. My tastes have largely gone to the pulp side of comic books, as I follow new adventures of old favorites like The Shadow, Doc Savage, Tarzan, The Spirit, Conan, and Red Sonja. I also read Mars Attacks, James Bond, and The X-Files. I’ve always dreamed of someday writing comic books but never really attempted it, but thanks to a new Meetup group in town devoted to the comic book medium I’m actually in the process of fleshing out an idea and script for a graphic novel.

If you’re writing a memoir or true-life story, you might want to bookmark this Writer’s Digest guide to defamation and invasion of privacy. Guest blogger and attorney Amy Cook, who has focused on intellectual property and publishing law issues for more than 20 years, offers several constructive tips to help avoid potential lawsuits as a result of your writing that you’ll want to follow.

Texas Monthly featured an in-depth profile of author Joe R. Lansdale in its pages this past week. This was a really well-written story and an interesting look at the author. Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard series of books is about to debut on the small screen as a TV series March 2 on Sundance.

If you’re a writer, you are probably a procrastinator. Always putting off the writing for some other important project or another, like vacuuming the living room carpet, washing the dishes, reorganizing your book shelf, etc. The Atlantic has an interesting read about why writers are such procrastinators that you should read. Of course, the article was published in 2014 and I am just getting around to it.

Anyone watching the new BBC miniseries adaptation of War and Peace? You might want to read this story from The New Yorker. I’ve got a copy of War and Peace on my bookshelf but I’ve never read it. I’ve got the first couple of episodes of the miniseries on DVR to at least watch later.

Read any interesting articles about reading or writing lately? Share a link in the comments section.

These magazines are giving me The Creeps

The Creeps

Back in the day you may recall there were these really cool black and white horror comics magazines by the names of Creepy and Eerie. Well, imagine my surprise when I came across a new black and white horror comic magazine at Barnes & Noble called The Creeps! And, better yet, the stories and art are written by some of the original Warren writers and artists! Naturally, I had to order the back issues I’d missed and now I have all four issues to date. Yes, comics fans know that Dark Horse publishes modern-day versions of Creepy and Eerie in standard comic book size, albeit on slick paper. But nothing compares to the gritty feel of the old magazine pages. The Creeps gets it right and I have to say this is the most excited I’ve been about comics in years! Go to Barnes & Noble now. Buy your own copy of The Creeps. Seriously.

Around the Web: Bond, Star Trek franchises endure with new movies, books, series

by G. Robert Frazier

Every day I scour the web for interesting articles about writing, reading, and other fascinating stories. I occasionally share those in this space, just because I’m such a cool guy. Today’s roundup consists of two movie franchises with huge fan bases, and no, I’m not talking about Star Wars. Both are fascinating looks at the past, present, and future of characters that have endured no matter the medium. As a bonus, I’ve included an article about a superhero now appearing on your not-so-small home television screen. Enjoy.

Spectre movie poster (886x1280)There was an interesting article on Variety this week about several Bond films that never made it to the screen, including one from Alfred Hitchcock. The new James Bond movie Spectre hits theaters this weekend and I couldn’t be more excited. Bond was one of my mom’s favorite movie series. Even though she had every Bond movie on DVD, she’d still watch Bond whenever it came on TBS. I’ll be thinking of her when the lights go down and the Bond theme song cues up. I know she’ll be watching with me in spirit. I recently read Casino Royale by Ian Fleming as a way to psych myself up for this new Bond movie, and I have to say I am suitably psyched up.  Here’s a review of Spectre to help get you excited. As Rich Gold pointed out in his 1962 review of Dr. No, “As a screen hero, James Bond is clearly here to stay. He will win no Oscars but a heck of a lot of enthusiastic followers.” There’s even a new Bond novel out there, Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz, that drags Bond firmly into 2015 with a live-in girlfriend, Pussy Galore, and a gay friend. And, finally, a long lost Bond novel, Colonel Sun by Kingsley Ames in 1968, is finally being reprinted as a paperback in January.

In case you might have been sleeping under a rock and haven’t heard, CBS All-Access will showcase an all-new Star Trek series beginning in January 2017. In a bold move, perfectly fitting for a series that goes where no one has ever gone before, the digital on demand subscription platform makes perfect sense. Rather than airing the show on broadcast TV and praying for a particular set of ratings each week, the show will have an opportunity to thrive online instead. The series will be executive produced by Alex Kurtzman and will introduce new characters seeking new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring dramatic contemporary themes. Believe it or not, there’s actually a campaign to cancel the Star Trek series before it begins. The folks behind the campaign apparently fear, and with good reason based on the latest movies, that CBS will only screw up the franchise even further. I’m excited to hear about the new series and am hopeful of the new stories yet to be told. Let’s boldly go forward. The exciting news for writers, meanwhile, is the return of Star Trek’s Strange New Worlds writing contest. I’m hoping to enter, but so far I’m drawing a blank on what, or rather, whose story to write.

supergirl-01

Is anyone watching the new Supergirl TV series? It’s clearly targeted towards teens and young adults, but as a comic book fanboy I’ve watched the first two episodes and will likely watch more. The special effects are a little on the cheesy side, but so far the story has been entertaining. I do hope she doesn’t have to keep contending with former Krypton criminals and Phantom Zone menaces, however. Let’s explore something other than the usual, huh? For those of you wanting to know about Superman’s cousin, bamsmackpow.com has put together A Beginner’s Guide to Supergirl. Check it out.

Superheroes on the small screen are all the rage right now. Gotham, which tells the story of Gotham City Police Detective Jim Gordon and a young, pre-Batman Bruce Wayne, has really ramped up the action and intensity this season. The Flash and Arrow are both going strong over at The CW, and NBC has rebooted Heroes Reborn. I’m even enjoying iZombie.

Trigger warnings on textbooks, novels border on ridiculous

by G. Robert Frazier

I don’t mean to sound insensitive or cold, but this whole push for trigger warnings on virtually everything is ridiculous.

According to the Washington Post article, four students, who are members of Columbia’s Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board, say trigger warnings are needed on certain texts dealing with Greek mythology, of all things. “These texts, wrought with histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression, can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background,” the students write.

When I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor, we would often include a note to readers — a trigger warning, if you will — at the beginning of stories about sexual violence. It was just good public policy to let parents know the article’s content might not be suitable for children to read. It was the same idea as ratings for motion pictures and comic books.

Trigger warnings take the idea a step further, by seeking such warnings on topics ranging from racism to classism to sexism and every -ism in between. And not just for the benefit of parents trying to monitor their childrens’ reading, but for the reader who may take personal offense to any of the issues or content within said article.

Continue reading

Authors & Artists Assemble! Making comics takes teamwork

If you grew up enjoying comic books like me, you probably have entertained the notion of writing or drawing your own comic book one day. It’s a thrilling and unique medium, and it clearly takes a team effort to bring the adventures of your favorite super-heroes to life month after month.

That, by the way, is the gist of the message in the new book, Make Comics Like the Pros, by comic book veterans Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente: teamwork.

Make Comics Like the ProsThe 150-page trade paperback book is a well-presented behind-the-scenes look into the production of comic books, from idea to script, from art to final production. Each area gets its own detailed chapter, complete with sample scripts, artwork and more along the way.

But, overall, the book’s main mission statement is abundantly clear: a comic book is all about collaboration. It’s about being flexible, with each participant in the process agreeing to be flexible and open to alternative ideas or ways of presenting the story to readers.

Yes, the idea may start with the writer – as do most things, whether it is a book, ad campaign or a movie – but unless the writer also happens to be the artist and editor, it certainly doesn’t end there. The artist and editor will also have plenty to say before the final product makes it to the presses. In that respect, comic book production is not unlike the production of a television episode, where the writer is just one voice in a roomful of writers, producers, actors and directors who ultimately will also have input into the execution of the final script.

If you can’t work collaboratively, and be willing to embrace, and sometimes concede to other ideas even when you are adamantly against it, then you are probably better off scribing novels. At least then you will only have an editor or agent to contend with, not a whole platoon of creative minds.

Pak and Van Lente speak from vast experience in the comic book business. Pak has written dozens of storylines for DC Comcis, Marvel, Dynamite Entertainment and Valiant Comics, including the “Planet Hulk” and “World War Hulk” storylines. Van Lente is a #1 New York Times best-selling author, having written the Marvel Zombies line of books, Incredible Hercules (with Pak), and the original graphic novel Cowboys & Aliens, which was the basis for the motion picture.

Their insights into the comic book business are invaluable. The pair begin by crafting the idea of a comic book, showing the reader how to properly format and script the comic book, and how to work with artists on bringing their vision to life on the page. They then take the process even farther by explaining how to pitch your comic book and break into the comic book medium.

The only drawback to the book is the lack of any art from the more popular DC or Marvel comics the pair have worked on. Instead they use images from Valiant titles and an original tale crafted from beginning to end specifically for this book.

But overall, the book details a fascinating process that is guaranteed to hold your interest, whether you are a writer, artist or just a reader wanting to learn more about the medium.

_

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.