Cinema. Comics. Piracy. “Dreams and Things”.

Or, what I’ve been up to since July.

Ahoy, all. Whew, I can smell the formaldehyde and abandonment all over. I guess I should get the obvious out of the way: “Quagmire” was a bust. The crowdfunding didn’t do much of anything except give me a few bucks. And a new appreciation of how selectively apathetic the world can be. But nay! This shan’t be a post of wet blankets and razor blades! I just need to say a few things before moving on. Hopefully, I can stay chipper. Yeah, two things and I’ll be fine. One: the “Quagmire” project wasn’t a perfect fit for me. Fuck, I doubt it wasn’t even a shrunken sweater of a fit. The film had things I’m drawn to (imperfect characters and lots of talking), but what didn’t work, ultimately, was the subject matter. I thought that I could convince myself that I could write something about teachers. Or rather, hold the enthusiasm it takes to move a film from page to screen. Two: I don’t like crowdfunding, as a funder or fundee. I could write a blog about that alone, but I’ll just say that there needs to be a better way.

I didn’t mean to be away for so long, but I didn’t wanna come back until I had definite things to talk about. Few things are as bad as someone always saying “But THIS one will be different!” with fuckall to show for it. There was a lull when I had absolutely nothing, which is why I’m forcing myself to always be creative somehow. Sucks to have an imagination with no engine to drive it. My first almost-return involved my first album. I’ve been making songs for a few years now, but none with the intention of presenting to the world alone or as a piece. “Her Revenge Will Be Vicious” looked like it was gonna be my Neo.
It was gonna be a concept album because they’re a lost art and I wanted to give people a reason to listen to the whole thing. It was gonna be about a woman who’s stalked by a bastard of privilege., frontloaded by his part in her story. It would’ve been a tactic to weed-out reactionaries. My hope was that the clever people would see the title, hear the first songs, and know that the second half would be all about comeuppance. I’d bait the reactionaries, too. The bastard’s songs would’ve been misogynistic and poppy. Trust would take them to the dramatics and the vicious revenge. It wouldn’t have been misogyny for misogyny’s sake, though. Poppy as they would’ve been, they’d also reveal a very pathetic character (sans sympathy).
So what happened? I wrote all the song titles and structured the album, even wrote the first song (“Exploding Sun”)… then I realized it wasn’t time. There’s one piece missing. Perhaps a female vocalist.

My second almost-return involved my short film , “A Real…” I got tired of being a director who hadn’t directed something they were proud of. I’m proud of the opportunity for leaning that “Dirty Thoughts” presented to me and the help I got, but I’m not proud of the end result. So I swore that I’d make something prideful by my birthday. And I did. Even started sending it to film festivals (three, so far). The problem was that I wasn’t sure if I could post it to the world yet. I’d rather not shoot that opportunity in the foot, so I chose to keep it secret/safe.
I felt that I should have a script ready, just in case, so I dug out “Academia” and started readapting it. Instead of being something heavily-inspired by “Battle Royale”, it became a meditation on suicide. Not mine, I’ve too much to do. Alongside that, I was preparing another novel. A very intellectual spy novel with flights of fancy. Metal Gear Solid fans will know what I mean. Alongside that, I found out that once in a while, BBC accepts unsolicited scripts (here). A backdoor into “Doctor Who”: are you fucking kidding? Granted, it’s implied that one should write an original thing, which this one will. I just hope to amaze enough that the TARDIS doors’ll crack open a little for me.
So I was juggling (successfully[!]) preparing… when an old friend reentered my life and ruptured a new path for me.

I gave up comics almost a decade ago for lots of reasons (none of them female [I never understood why people give up something that means a lot to them for the prospect, not even the promise, of a piece of ass… sex is great but it’s not worth giving up an important part of yourself for]). The state of comics was bland and there were attachments to people I couldn’t shake off in my head. It wasn’t until earlier this month when I was presented with comics’ state of the union address and my head was held still by two characters: Harley Quinn and The Twelfth Doctor. I have a very particular sense of humor that Harley’s comic serves up with ginger ale. The Twelfth Doctor (of the “Doctor Who” medical professionals) is the first Doctor I could say was My Doctor, so I support him however I can, within reason. When I got Harley’s graphic novel and the first issue of Twelve’s comic, the four-color flame burned brighter than the Batsignal. It was like reconnecting with an old friend.
Since then, I’ve been buying mainstream and indie comics, reflecting my tastes in films. If you can get beyond the title of Alan Moore’s “Saga of the Swamp Thing”, you’ll be rewarded greatly. “Wonder Woman” is great because it’s, among other things, a nurturer’s take on war. And the art doesn’t sexualize her:

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At least, until issue 36:

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“Daytripper” is a great comic about the life of an obituary writer. It was particularly important because of my new venture by reminding me that Americans want stories like this, too. Rewatching “Chasing Amy”, I was inspired at one point to write a scene with two women talking. I didn’t have anything planned, I just knew that their names were Vicki and Tracey. An hour later, I had pages of dialogue of what would become my first comic: “Dreams and Things”. I say comic, but I mean graphic novel. I hate single issues and monthly schedules. Anywho, it’ll be about two women who live together in a loft, and one gets the idea to make a horror comic. “Dreams and Things” won’t be a horror comic, I just needed Vicki to make a comic and I didn’t want it to be a superhero one. That and I love the challenge of making a horror comic since that’ll be in the graphic novel, too. I’m in the planning stage and I’ve got a long way to go, but I’ve drawn the two gals and I’m stupid-excited to get to the end of their book.

There’re SO many things in my head going into planning DaT. It’ll be about two women, obviously. It’ll also be about making a comic. I’ve come across a few narrative features about making films. I’ve seen series’ about making anime. The only narrative books I’ve read that are about making comics have come from Japan (“Comic Party” and “Genshiken”). Plenty of how-to-make-comics books stateside, but nothing making a story out of it.
DaT will also be an incredibly selfish endeavor. “Lie” was a selfish novel, but I also wrote it for women. Although people’ll be inspired by the comic-making portions of DaT, I’m doing them for me. To show myself how I made it and to save myself questions about how I made it. Vicki’s path is mine (or “mine”). But that’s not my only bout of shameless selfishness.
I also wanna present sex in such a way that it’s character-centric and non-distracting. The only way creatives figured out how to do that is with sex addiction and prostitution. Shame and dismay (I’m not knocking sex workers, only pointing out how society feels about them [they fulfill a need like any other kind of worker, they’ve been around since time immemorial, and they’ll be around long after you’re dust: cope, puritans]). I love a good action scene, but I have to admit that it’s absurd how you can show a woman getting her heart ripped out on network TV, yet the camera cuts away away if her boob flops out. It’s just flesh, and I know from firsthand experience that it appreciates attention.
Another bout of selfishness involves me watching myself improve my drawing ability. I dunno how long DaT with be, but 300 pages doesn’t seem absurd to me. Oh, before I go on, I wanna say that I haven’t given up on filmmaking. I’m still sending “A Real…” to festivals and “Academia” just needs the ok to be made. Anywho, 300 pages is quite an amount, pregnant with potential to grow as an artist. I’ll be pushing myself throughout, but my goal is to make it all seem like stylistic choices and not someone who’s learning. Turn the negatives into positives.
DaT, like all the tales of this mythmaker, will be multiracial, but there won’t be any fucking pandering. They’ll just be people who look different.
As a System of a Down fan, there’ll be a subversive thread. As a System of a Down fan, I’ll make sure that it’s too fun to complain about.
There’re also so many other character, story, and tertiary things that I’m gonna stuff into “Dreams and Things”… but I hope the end result is something like this:

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…instead of something like this:

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Piracy. As an artist of the 21st century, it’s something that I need to deal with. I had the fortune in 2008 of seeing “Punisher: War Zone” in theaters and thinking that the person behind that was a genius. Then I saw “Green Street Hooligans” and thought that the genius had range. It’s so hard to find a comic book movie that unapologetically has the tone of its source material. It’s also very hard to get me to sit through anything involving sports. Lexi Alexander managed to pull off those feats so well that I thought she could do no wrong as a filmmaker. Then “Lifted” came out and then… nothing. I wondered what happened to her and figured that she left the game. Shame, but it happens a lot.
When I decided to join Twitter, I did what any cinephile would do: track down directors and wait for 140-character-sized chunks of wisdom. On a whim, I looked up Lexi Alexander. There she was. And angry.
Turned out that she didn’t leave the game. Turned out that the game remembered that it was a boys-only club and shut its doors on her. Turned out that she was beating on those doors. Not out of desperation or a plea to be let in. Each fist slammed was a shout that bellowed “YOU FUCKING SEXIST BASTARDS!! YOU’RE RUINING IT FOR WOMEN WITH FUCKING STORIES TO TELL!!” Each kick was a rallying cry that echoed “WOMEN, LET’S STOP PUTTING UP WITH THIS BULLSHIT!!”
But the bastards ignored.
The women were frightened and complacent.
So an exhausted Lexi Alexander let her bloody hands slide down in defeat and her sticky soles took her home.
Along the way, she saw something in the distance. As she got closer, she saw a person being arrested for stealing a movie. Made by those sexist bastards who routinely spat on the faces of the workers who helped make them billions. Made by those sexist bastards who have been selling the same movie for years and strangling creativity. Made by those sexist bastards who would rather their industry burn than adapt to the changing winds.
So Lexi Alexander became piracy’s Wonder Woman and like Diana of Troy, enlightened and inspired others to address piracy in the changing world. People like me. If you go to her blog (here), you’ll read lots of explanations of what’s happening with piracy on both sides of the argument. I can only talk about my feelings of piracy. That and laugh at Disney, wondering if they don’t see the irony yet.
It’s a lot like a library. People take things for free and if they like it, they can go to a store and buy it. If they don’t like it, at least they didn’t waste any of their money. If they like it and don’t buy it, keeping it instead and feeling that artists don’t need to be paid, fuck ’em with a two-headed dildo that spews fire and glass shards and screams at them.
“Dreams and Things” will be a thick book, which means it’ll cost a few bucks. It’d be wise of me to give people a free option. Make a PDF or something with enough pages to entice people and throw it in the torrents.

Well, that’s enough for now. Thanks for reading and if you feel like doing something good today, donate to Action Against Hunger.

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