Tag: Warren Ellis

Writing: How do you know when you’re done?

by on May.14, 2011, under Articles, Comic Suggestions, Comics, Writing

Warren Ellis, one of the writers that I admire primarily for this works in comics but also for some of his editorial works, made a post on his blog today, announcing that he was finished writing FREAKANGLES, his free comic which he posts online.

It is not a comic I link too often as it doesn’t lend itself to such linking, but it is a comic I highly suggest.

This post answered a question for me that I didn’t know I needed answered. As a writer, when do I know when I am done?

Here is Warren Ellis’ answer.

When you get to the ending of something that long, the last thing you’re thinking about is whether or not people will like it, or whether they’ll hate that it’s ending.  You’re just trying to get down the ending that you thought of at the start, and making sure everything fits, and killing a last few darlings to smooth out the joins, and doing your best to ensure the thing holds together the way it should.  And I’m done with that, after four and a bit days down in the mines with it.

Time for The Cigarette Of Victory, I think.

While I’m not promoting cigarette smoking, I think you can see his point. Perhaps this isn’t the most quantitative method but it certainly is a method.

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Article: How I Became a Comic Book Consumer, Part 5

by on Feb.07, 2011, under Articles, Comic Suggestions, Comics, Entertainment, Visual Media

This is the final part of an ongoing series inspired by Faith Erin Hick’s article “How I Became a Comic Book Consumer“. To read any of the prior parts, click here.

Last time I discussed the Marvel comics that started how I became a comic book consumer as an adult. I also made mention of Brian K. Vaughn, writer of a comic called Runaways. Like Warren EllisCraig KyleMasashi Kishimoto,Phil FoglioKaja Foglio, and Shirow Masamune, Brian K. Vaughn led me into other comics that would soon have a permanent position on my book shelves.

It was through Brian and a few friends of mine that I discovered Y: The Last Man and it quickly became one of my favorite comics next to Elfquest, Girl Genius, and Transmetropolitan. It focused on, literally, the last man on earth and the subsequent apocalypse society. It sounds like a cheesy b-movie plot or perhaps the start of a really bad porno but it instead molds itself into an epic story of survival. If you need proof, Y: The Last Man was nominated for a Hugo award and won an Eisner award.

In the comic we follow the story of Yorick who manages to survive a mysterious event that simultaneously kills off every other mammal possessing the Y chromosome on the planet, save for him Capuchin monkey, named Ampersand. We follow him and his friends and enemies, as people come to gripes with such a staggering event. Lasting sixty issues, the ending is something I wish I could get everyone to read.

Brian K. Vaughn then led me to Ex Machina, a currently on going story by him focusing on a retired superhero known as The Great Machine who wins the election to become the mayor of New York City in the wake of 9/11. The story explores his term in office as well as gives flashbacks to his life as a super hero and how the two bleed together, creating yet another compelling, and rather adult, drama.

By this point I was very much into reading comics again. I used the names of writers and artists I had collected through the years and began making lists of comics, using Wikipedia and Amazon to piece together what graphic novels I needed to complete story arches. Now, at least, I could read comics without worrying about missing issues! as long as I was willing to spend the money and/or hunt through good used book stores.

This actually catches us up to more or less modern days. I’m still reading comics, obviously. Here are some examples.

I still collect Masashi Kisimoto’s Naruto and a regular subscription to the American version of Shonen Jump keeps my interest in various other mangas such as One Piece, Dragon Ball, and Bleach. Shirow Masamune has made sure that I am always on the look out for some kind of Ghost in the Shell product, comics preferred but anime and books, I’ll gobble up. One of the current manga series I would like to read is called Bakuman, focusing on one teenager’s attempt to become a manga writer, and another is Hikaru no go, focusing on another teenager’s slow mastery of the Japanese game Go.

Craig Kyle and the Marvel Messiah Complex/Second Coming story-lines have kept me collecting X-Men graphic novels as they came out and introduced me to the re-start of X-Factor (Vol.3 ), which has quickly become my favorite X-Men title with its awesome writing of the character Jamie Madrox/Multiple Man and the introduction of the character Layla Miller (she knows stuff, be careful). There is also an ongoing X-23 series being published that I’m eagerly waiting to be collected into graphic novels.

I, of course, never stopped reading web comics. They’re the cheapest and most accessible of all the comics I love to read, plus I can easily share them among my friends and readers. Here is a small list of some of the best comics you can find online in no particular order.

Girl Genius, Scholock Mercenary, Gunnerkrigg Court, Templar, Arizona, Goblins, Guilded Age, Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, Weregeek, Scenes From A Multiverse, Order of the Stick, Erfworld, Dominic Deegan, Something Positive, Evil Diva, Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi, Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell, El Goonish Shive, Demonology 101, The Adventures of Superhero Girl, Freakangles, Bob and George: The Comic Strip, 8-Bit Theater, and many more.

So looking over it all, I guess you could say I’ve always been a comic book consumer. My initial entry into comics was due to overlaps between the comic industry and other media, and while I’ve taken hiatus, the adoption of collecting comics into graphic novels proved to be exactly what I needed to sustain a comic habit. Combine that with excellent writing, varying genres,  and stories for all age groups, and I will likely be a comic reader for the rest of my life.

The future of comics, like almost all forms of entertainment, will be undergoing changes in the digital age. Right now it seems to be trying to re-invent the old model, renting individual comics for prices only slightly less of their print versions for different reading platforms. One or two have adapted a subscription model. Both still DRM their content to make it inaccessible by means other than approved, and usually constrictive, methods. And there are still online comics, the particularly popular ones effectively earning their creators a living through donations, merchandising, and advertising. It’ll be interesting to see where this heads but unlike the music or movie industry, I suspect comics will fare better overall.

So I hope you enjoyed this article and found something in it you liked. Keep subscribed to this feed or keeping checking back now and again, as more articles of this type will appear, sooner or later.

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Article & Comic Links: How I Became a Comic Book Consumer, Part 3

by on Feb.03, 2011, under Books, Comic Links, Comic Suggestions, Comics, Entertainment, Visual Media

This is part three of an ongoing series inspired by Faith Erin Hick’s article “How I Became a Comic Book Consumer“. To read the first part, click here. To read the second part, click here.

So last time I talked about one of the most influential comics of my childhood, Elfquest, and the type of comic which led me to create this blog, online comics.

Online comics were basically it for me for years.  My return to print comics was my friend introducing me to Transmetropolitan and by extension, Warren Ellis.

Transmetropolitan was an eye opener for me in that it took what Marvel tried to do and succeeded. It translated printed comics into something other than a super hero genre. Elfquest did that, most certainly, but at the time I considered it still a child’s story. How wrong I was but I wouldn’t re-read Elfquest as an adult for several years yet. Transmetropolitan made comics something that the adult in me could enjoy, which was not a hurdle I was looking to jump, as I still enjoyed good children’s content but knowing that there were comics that tackled complex themes was inspiring.

Transmetropolitan is a comic set in the future. But unlike Star Trek or Star Wars, this future is actually rather familiar even when it is bizarrely different. It is a tale about a man named Spider Jerusalem, a journalist of the traditional kind, and the stories he tells about a corrupt and thriving American culture in the not too distant future. Though Spider’s… unique personality, we see how powerful words can be to effect change in society.

It was something of a mind-blowing book for me. I was introduced to several trans-human concepts I had never heard of before, although I didn’t know or really understand them at the time, on top of an amazingly written story and an asshole of a character that I came to love over the span of sixty issues. My friend who introduced me owned all of them, except for some of the initial ones in graphic novel form and I read them all each individually. When I discovered the entire series was being collected into graphic novels, I made a point of collecting those too. If you have some interest in the comic but you’re not sure you want to purchase a paper copy, half of the issues are available through DC’s online comic store here.

Transmetropolitan was also the first comic to help me get over my insistence upon certain art styles. As a child I very much preferred the artistic styles of the Marvel artists and Wendy Pini’s talented artwork. I did not like the style Darick Robertson, the artist for Transmetropolitan, initially. In fact it took three issues before I was hooked on Transmet and I put off reading those issues for a short while. I went through the same issue with reading Girl Genius and becoming familiar with Phil Foglio’s art style. Both share a love for detail in their backgrounds that help define their worlds and it’s a style I’ve come to love. Transmet helped teach me that I shouldn’t judge a comic by its artwork but by how the artwork and writing blend together.

Transmetropolitan was also the first comic that helped me call attention to a particular writer. I was aware of Wendy and Richard Pini (the creators of Elfquest) but I’d known that Elfquest was their only comic, at the time. Warren Ellis, on the other hand, had written multitudes of comics. This information would be filed away for later when I really got back into comics. At the time though, Transmet was a blip on the almost flat-lined electrocardiogram of my comic reading history. I was beating slowly along with online comics but Transmet created a very profound blip on the chart.

(continue reading…)

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L5: A new hard sci-fi web series

by on Jan.27, 2011, under Entertainment, Trailers, Visual Media

Warren Ellis once again linked something of interest.

So someone out there wants to make a hard science sci-fi web series. And it looks like they’re going to succeed. Since I no longer subscribe to cable television I am a minor proponent of web series, especially if the content is open to donations or charges for extra content. Even if they use advertising because honestly, once you stop watching TV, you start to miss the variety of commercials out there. If you liked the above trailer, the website is full of stuff for you to look at. They’re also calling for participation and help, including a (now ended) KickStarter and a call for tweeting and blogging the thing. Actually I just paused the last sentence to read the helping out section of the webpage. Apparently this blog entry is going to earn me a free DVD possibly. Cool.

In all honesty the above trailer made me start this blog post, not the idea of a free DVD, I swear. Well the above trailer and a part of this synopsis:

Imagine returning from an exhausting adventure only to find that your home is abandoned, empty. Not just your home, but your neighborhood, your city, in fact, everyone, everywhere, seems to be missing. This is what happens to the crew of the first manned mission to Barnard’s Star – they return after awakening from suspended animation to find that their ship-board AI has sent them on a relativistic tour of the stellar neighborhood while they slumbered, dilating time so severely that nearly 200 years have passed on Earth. After coming to, they discover their vessel is adrift at LaGrange point 5, within visual range of a vast O’neill cylinder-colony. The night side of the Earth shows no lights, and no one answers their calls across all frequencies. They have no choice but to dock with the colony and explore its cavernous interior in the hopes of finding help. When they find the colony to be airless and devoid of life, the remains of human civilization baking in the Sun for decades, their predicament becomes even more dire.

Sorry but that just sounds cool to me. Here is hoping this has momentum and episodes get released quickly enough not to loose that momentum. I’ve added their blog to my RSS feed so hopefully this’ll be pretty easy.

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What does Warren Ellis use to write? (And DropBox)

by on Nov.12, 2010, under Articles, Comics, Computers, Writing

http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=11054

So I’m a bit of a fan of Warren Ellis. Most of the time. I’ve found that I don’t like all of his work but I do like a lot of his work, and I love Transmetropolitan. The above link takes you to a blog post where he talks what tools he uses to write.

The thing that struck me the most was his backup system. I’ve been struggling to figure out a backup system for my own development purposes. I write, game design, and contract software work on the side of my day job, plus I have three to five digital devices that I would like to regularly share data with.

One particular service that Warren Ellis comments on is DropBox. Others have mentioned this service before. I even have it installed on my computer. But despite being a software designer and a computer scientist, I found the idea of The Cloud a little disturbing from a privacy standpoint. Perhaps this is because nobody has really ever explained the cloud to me so much as I’ve just heard about it.

So does anybody know what stops people who give you access to “the cloud” from snooping through your files? Anyone regularly use DropBox that also shares this concern? Is encryption a possibility?

Considering I’m very trusting of Google and how they basically store my entire life in my gmail/google account. You’d think this wouldn’t be a big issue but there is a difference, somewhere. I’m just not sure where.

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TRANSMETROPOLITAN available online

by on Nov.12, 2010, under Comic Links, Comic Suggestions, Comics, Entertainment

http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=11044

TRANSMET is one of my favorite print comics and it is now available at the DC Digital comic store, at least the first six issues. If you’ve never read TRANSMET this is probably the cheapest way to get into it. I admit I didn’t really like the art to begin with or the first issue, but Spider Jerusalem quickly became a favorite character of mine, and ironically, a great inspiration in regards to the power of writing. It is one of two comics whose ending has literally had me yelling at the pages.

Which is a good thing, believe me.

Ellis says that picking up the individual digital comics is slightly cheaper than actually grabbing the collection, although I can almost assure you that you’ll end up collecting a print copy if you start reading.

Filthy assistants! To me!

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RED

by on Nov.07, 2010, under Films, Reviews

Finally saw the movie RED. Hilarious, touching, and definitely up there as one of my favorite action comedies. Will likely purchase a copy so I can watch Bruce Willis pretend to be unsure about whether a girl likes him or not. And I didn’t know Karl Urban was such a versatile actor. Apparently he was just in a lot of semi-bad films or bit parts in decent films. This gives me a lot of hope for him as Judge Dredd.

The comedy and acting level was spot on. When the entire audience laughs just because of a facial expression, you know they did something right. Man the bedroom scene near the beginning of the film with him reading the book. And the bedroom scene later with her while he is visiting Morgan freeman? Hilarity. I can also see why the film is a hit with almost all ages from old to young. Good comedy, good acting, distinct messages that appeal to all types.

If you haven’t seen it, try and catch a showing. It won’t be in theaters for much longer.

I wonder how much it differs from the comics… probably a lot.

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Apex Magazine brings us a different perspective in speculative fiction

by on Sep.09, 2010, under Articles, Writing

Apex Magazine Plans An Issue Of Arab/Muslim Writers (WarrenEllis.com)

So to quickly summarize, the editor, Cat Valente, of a speculative fiction magazine called Apex Magazine I will be likely picking up after I post this, has declared that one particular issue in the future will carry narratives from Muslim and Arab writers as a feature theme. This is in result to another author, Elizabeth Moon, writing a blog post that apparently made a lot of writers angry/shocked, and, to quote a friend, made a well known troll of the writing sphere sound like the voice of reason.

Here it he link to the actual Moon blog entry in question although it’s proceeding commentary was deleted. But I think what you should take out of this is what Cat Valente has decided to do in response. I have often wondered what it’d be like to read novels from different cultures. I’ve read some English translated Japanese novels, spin offs of popular manga series I like. Manga is an interesting import since it has been a narrative mode in Japan since before America’s inference post WW2, and the cultural differences I think is what made their speculative fiction so interesting and innovative to me.

I’m not sure I could imagine what might come of a Muslim or Arab speculative fiction, but now I am very curious and hopeful. Anyone else want to read that particular issue with me and discuss it later?

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