Sunday, June 9, 2013

Why I don't do Online job listings.

Recently, I tried to join a site for comics artists to share profiles and seek jobs. My profile was deleted the same day. Apparently, they wrote me off as a spammer automatically, because of my e-mail address.
This really gets on my nerves. I'm barely posting content of my own, much less spamming anyone else. I'm a novice illustrator, just trying to get into comics, and a loss like that is a minor setback when you're looking for work. But I can't let that determine my week. I need to get some work up and going. I'm posting here the first page of a  comic I did called "a Labyrinth Without Walls." It ran late last year in an indie 'zine called Scattergun in Marquette, Michigan. It's a little rough, but still my first published comic:

Here it is:

I'll try to have the rest of the comic up in the next post.  -John, June 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Flying Cars

When I woke up on New Year's day 2010, the first words out my mouth were "its January first twenty-ten, I want my flying car." Why that thought came, I don't know, yet it stayed with me. Somehow, after a childhood of Jetsons re-runs and movies like Star Wars, it seemed like an intellectual defeat to realize that that people were driving the same cars now that they were in the '70's. Eventually, I incorporated that idea into my writing. Below is a link to a story I wrote that won a writing contest this spring. It's a story called "Flying Cars"that ran in a print magazine called the Marquette Monthly in Marquette, Michigan. It's a human interest piece, not science fiction, but read it before you continue this post.

Flying Cars-2013 short story contest winner   

Whatever your opinion of the story, I'm not all that proud of it. I wrote this story more or less with this contest in mind (the prize was $250, which was what I was after). It's not my style, and a complete 180 from what I usually read. (Bradbury, Burroughs, Howard, etc.) Other people liked it, but I consider it  hack writing. I mention it mostly because says a lot about how I think, and the process that goes into my work. Bits and pieces of everyday life inspire me as much as anything else. The book Nick buys in that story is inspired by one I actually owned when I was thirteen, for example. I didn't think much about it at the time, but clearly it stayed with me all the way to 2010, with some vague hope gnawing at me that it might turn into science fact after all.

It's that kind of thinking that draws me especially to Dieselpunk fiction. I live a block from the theater where Anatomy of a Murder premiered in 1959. It's not a theater anymore, it's been converted into a book store now. Most buildings in this neighborhood have been re-purposed several times since their construction. Every day, walking down the street, riding the bus, I see 1930's era buildings in great disrepair that inspire me to visualize what they must have looked like in their glory days, and the world that built them. Dieselpunk (or any 'punk scene for that matter), is not a genre based on optimism. but it is one that explores a world that believed in potential and adventure, two things the modern day Rust Belt states are rather short on. And for all its flaws, the past seems golden compared to the seventy years of rust that cover it now. But I, like anyone, can imagine it even better than it ever was. And I intend to, one old book and rundown clocktower at a time.

-John,  June 2013.

Iron Triceratops Project?

Yes, you read that right, Iron Triceratops Project. Triceratops, as in the three horned dinosaur.  Why? Close your eyes and picture it for a second. Odds are you don't see the same thing I did when I had the idea. Nor would I want you to. But picture it anyway. Is it funny, cool, frighting? All of the above? But most of all, did you smile when you thought about it? Did you lose yourself in the thought of something totally unreal for just a moment? I hope so. What you just felt is what I call "the ten year old effect," the act of thinking how cool something would be without caring what anyone else thinks, just unchaining your imagination for fun's sake. As a fledgling writer, I prize imagination. It's a skill, to imagine things, as much as riding a bike is. Right now, we're really spoiled, with movies and TV shows that use CGI to do the work our brains used to. In a way, its like having a world of paint by numbers books when all you really want is a napkin and a pen to doodle with, or just your own vision of how something should look. That's how the best stories captivate us for a lifetime. We visualize them, put our own spin on them, make them our own. Imagination makes them part of our life and times, no matter how far away or long ago the story is set. Which brings me to the real reason for the Iron Triceratops: fun with anachronisms. I'm a huge fan of Steampunk, Dieselpunk, and old school pulp adventure stories. Of visions of the future fifty years out dated, or the past as it never was, as  we wanted it to be. Popular fiction has always been rooted in idealizing the past, Some genres just depend on it more than others (Westerns, for example. Gunsmoke and A Fistfull of Dollars no more reflect normal life in 1800's America than Disney's Cinderella accurately reflects romance in 1400's England). My work is no different. It's the freedom to idealize and imagine that draws me to write and draw. I started this blog to explore as much as to promote my projects. To give myself a place to imagine, a sounding board as much as a showcase, but most of all, a place to make my imagination count for something.  

Even if that something is an Iron Triceratops...  

-John,  June 2013