Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Shadowfox: Progress and World-Building

At random times, when I asked my mother how she was doing, or about the progress of some minor thing, her response would be, "Slow, but sho'." That's how I feel about Shadowfox.

Of course, I've just started working on the project, but with all the pre-work I had done on this property, I was thinking (hoping) I'd have more done by now. But I didn't realize, therefore didn't take into account, just how much ground work there was still to be laid in terms of my protagonist, Kysha/Shadowfox, and her world. Family, supporting characters and villains' backstories needed to be revised, Kysha's costume and weaponry needed to be finalized, specific forms of combat needed to be chosen--and this is before getting down to the nuts and bolts of crafting a new origin story by mixing fresh new ideas with elements from the old Nubian Queen script.

Oh, and about the story? I don't even know how it's going to begin at this point. I know how it's going to end, but the beginning? Yeah, nothing. It causes a problem because I'm the type that likes to outline and work linearly from beginning to end. I know folks who suggest starting at the end and working backward, but I never trusted that tactic. But with nothing else doing, time ticking, and my desire to feel productive while at the computer, I said "What the hell?" and gave it a shot. I didn't get much done before it was time to lay it down for the night, but at least there wasn't a blinking cursor on the page with nothing else keeping it company.

I'll keep working in that way if need be, but I'm sure things will start flowing soon. More than anything, I think it's just not-so-sub-consious anxiety over working in a new medium. I mean, films and comic books both use scripts,  but there's more than a few differences for my natural writer's insecurity to latch onto. The way I've decided to best handle my concerns, since I'm looking at this thing as a single full-length graphic novel as opposed to a run of several smaller, individual issues, is to treat the script just like a standard feature-length screenplay. I'm using the famous Blake Snyder beat sheet to plot the story and everything--along with a separate, more involved outline containing specific scenes/ideas that I jot down as they come to me. It's a bit of a different process, one I've used before, and I'm hoping it works again here.

Time will tell soon enough. ;)


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thoughts On: Disrespect

I've dealt with disrespect my whole life. We all have at one time or another, I guess, but it seems I've had more than my fair share. And life keeps doling it out in continuous, face-scrunching doses.

I was never popular in elementary school. Ditto in high school. And not much changed in college. Sure, I always had my core group of friends--and for that I was/am thankful--but I always wanted more. At the very least, I wanted to be respected.

And it continues to this day. Time and again folks treat me a certain way, or tell me one thing, then go and treat/tell some other person--oftentimes a stranger--completely different. In the past, I really let this get to me, let it depress me and allowed it to keep me from moving forward. "It doesn't matter," or "What's the point?" or "It works for them, but when I touch it..." were all thoughts that regularly traveled through my belittled, beleaguered psyche.

But no more. I guess at some point, you just get sick of feeling sorry for yourself. Now I'm taking that anger and frustration and using it as fuel to keep moving forward. I used to think I was doing this, but those were just thoughts--daydreams of how I'd triumph over my "haters." Now I'm backing it up with action. That's the beauty of getting older--at some point you hit the moment where you have to put up, or shut up once and for all. When that happens, what are you gonna do?

I'm not ready to "shut up." I still have dreams and goals I want o accomplish. I DO NOT want to be one of those folks looking back when they're 80, saying "I wish, I wish, I wish..."

So deny me if you want to. Underestimate me if you so choose. Write me off, laugh behind my back, discount or plain ignore me if that makes you feel better. It doesn't change what's going to happen, and at best it only delays the inevitable--

I WILL beat you. And you will wish you would have taken me seriously the first time around.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Blast from the Past, Part Two--the Aural Edition

I took it back today. Way back. Well, not that far back, but kinda...

I busted out my old CD player today and played some CDs that I can't fit on my iPod (never thought I'd max out right gigs of space) while I worked today at the day job (the horror!)--that I actually do from home (not so bad). I really love music, as most folks do--at least some type of it--and I forgot how much I loved some of these older songs. It really helped my day go by and kept me in high spirits (and my productivity was not too bad ;).

You get so used to hearing the same songs on your iPod day in and day out--and even though I have a lot of them, and it was extremely refreshing to hear songs I haven't jammed in a while. It's like it was new again. I've been threatening to get a bigger-capacity iPod for a while; it's about time I go ahead and do that. I'm looking forward to re-acquainting myself with more of my collection in the coming days...


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Blast from the Past

In preparation for working on Shadowfox, I decided to go back and reread my old screenplay for The Nubian Queen to mine it for material for the new story. I'm happy to say I wasn't too disgusted with my work. In fact, I really enjoyed the script.

Written in 2002, There was a lot of good stuff in there, but, as expected, a lot of weak writing. This was only two years after I started writing screenplays, and I could definitely see it. Not so much in the formatting of the script (the basics are easy to master, but there was one technique I completely overused), but in the content. Way too much on-the-nose dialogue and cheesy lines. Hell, even the heroine's codename--The Nubian Queen--reeked of mozzarella. And boy, was she uneven in execution and tone: designed as equal parts playful sarcastic and non-lethal badass, "Nubia" winds up wielding dual machine guns at one point, even intentionally shooting down a helicopter with two bad guys in it. It was like she was wanting to be Batman and the Punisher at the same time--totally not the vibe I wanted to take her in, and definitely not the vibe I want now that I've regressed the character's age to a teenager.

That said, I'm very much looking forward to the starting the rewrite/re-imagining/rebirth of Kysha Jenkins. I'm sure there will be moments I want to tear my nascent afro out, but it should be tons of fun nevertheless.


Comicpalooza 2013 - Just Bring It!

I'm really looking forward to attending Comicpalooza in my metro hometown of Houston (I call it "metro hometown" because what do you call it if it's where you live, but didn't actually grow up?) this weekend. There's going to be some really cool celebrities there, informative panels and, of course, cosplayers.

Amidst the cornucopia of geeky goodness to be had, I must admit I have an ulterior motive--I'll be looking to meet and network with any local artists who might be good prospects to help me bring my graphic novel project, Shadowfox, to fruition. If you read my previous post, you know I'm still developing the actual script, but it's never too early to keep an eye out for folks who can benefit you down the road (or vice versa, if someone's looking for a writer). The bottom line is I need a team, and if I can get a step or two closer to putting that together this weekend, I'll be one happy mofo.


Monday, May 20, 2013

The World (At This Point) According to Kevin, or, Rebooting...

Not one to sit on the sidelines for too long, I've been working on figuring out what's next. Right now, it's looking like it's going to be some of the old, with something completely new (yet old. I'll explain).

Progress on Darkness Walks has been slow. Actually, "glacial" is a better word--but it's been moving. I finally figured out the climax, which I thought I originally had, but something was just off about it.  I had more than enough story plotted to just dive in and start back on the actual book, but that's not me. I'm just not comfortable "not knowing" where I'm going. That said, I really like what I came up with, and it's definitely going to make the heroine, Wendy, shine. The only problem is that the new climax calls for a character to be killed off that originally was supposed to be alive throughout the entire series (right now, that looks to be seven books). But it's cool; I've already thought of a way to bring this character back should I still want to. And if I go with this idea, it will make for one kickass story and possible end to the series. I'm very optimistic about this project. 

As for filmmaking, I've been up and down as to how it figures into my future. I still love it, but I've been feeling too lazy to really engage it. I'm certain it has to do with difficulties in securing locations, not having the right connections and not getting the same help as others around town who ask for the same thing. Then again, maybe it's all in my head and I just haven't tried hard enough. I'm a prideful person, and I hate having to beg for something. I want that setup other folks have where they just mention they want to do something and folks are right there, offering their assistance. I don't have that. Maybe it's something I need to earn. Maybe it's something I need to force. I'm not quite sure yet. In any event, though I've tried to let it go, filmmaking keeps calling back to me--and I certainly have enough ideas to keep me busy. After a long, drawn-out deliberation, I've come to the conclusion that I cannot purge myself of filmmaking; I just need to pick a project, prepare it and commit to it. I can't say exactly when we'll be shooting (I have to fit it in with the other projects, plus a full-time job), but it feels good to have something "in the pipeline." So, once again, I'm eying my short script, Revelation as my next cinematic vehicle. I have a decent draft now, but I'll get around to running another polish on it before either having a table read with actors or going straight into casting. I think it's a solid, dramatic piece that will do well on the festival circuit. At the very least, it'll give me a chance to show something different (I also have a few larger projects that I've held onto, hoping to sell them to Hollywood or direct myself one day. I think I might dust them off and show them to a few film folks around town who've made features. I think a lot of folks have heard I'm a writer, but have never seen anything I've done. Who knows? Maybe something will get produced and I'll find out my hoarding was hurting more than helping).

Last up is the "something new, yet old." And this is really the first time I've mentioned it anywhere openly...

I'm going to make a run at being a comics creator. Talk about something different.

But the thing is, it's different, but it's not. Technically, I became a comics creator when I was in fifth grade with my "Almo" character, who went on to appear in dozens of self-drawn comics (I'm not a good artist, before you ask), short stories and even a "novel." I had a whole army of characters in that universe--and I had voices for pretty much all of them. It was a great run (I still have the comics)--until I realized I'd taken the characters as far as I could, and bid them a fond farewell. But who knows? I never say never; perhaps one day Almo and his friends will return--totally revamped, of course. But in the meantime, I'm taking a totally different set of comics.

The short version of the story is that ever since I saw Robert Townsend's The Meteor Man (1993), I was inspired to create a couple of my own superheroes. I had been into the genre pretty much my whole life (and still am), having consumed many of the animated and/or live action offerings featuring characters from Marvel and DC, or anywhere, for that matter, while growing up. I never was a collector of comics (never knew where to start), but my knowledge still surpassed that of the average person when it came to the subject. But I had never really though about creating my own characters until I saw The Meteor Man. I walked out the theater that night, working on the character who would, eventually, become the flagship character in my own fledgeling comics company.

But she was going to be a movie, first. called The Nubian Queen at the time, I also heavily modeled her on Batman, in that she's an average human who uses technology and her wits to battle crime. She had a day job, a secret identity, and underground lair--the whole nine. Years passed, and after writing several other screenplays, it was time to bring "Nubia" to fruition. And boy, did I; the script came in at 152 pages--2 1/2 hours of screen time. A wee bit on the long side. Didn't matter, though: I had a script, and I was proud of it...

...until I finally came to the realization that no one was going to buy it. C'mon, at this point, Hollywood couldn't even get a Wonder Woman movie made (still can't), and she's an established icon. If they couldn't get Diana of Themiscyra on the big screen, what made me think Kysha Jenkins of Houston would make it there? And she's Black? Good night, son. I never even rewrote the script.

But I did rewrite the character. Multiple times over the years. Kysha changed ages, she changed jobs. She was a scientific genius--then not--then a genius again. A city-wide hero, then a community-based vigilante, then back to the city-wide thing. I kept tinkering and tinkering. I even changed her codename, thinking "The Nubian Queen" was too... hokey. So Kysha became "Kharma"--which I liked, even though "Karma" is also the name of a character in Marvel's X-Men universe, and googling "Kharma" pulls up hit after hit of Kia Stevens, a professional wrestler who used the name in WWE.

The character sat on the shelf for another few years until, frustrated with the lack of progress another project, and looking to work on something I'd enjoy, I finally began to seriously prose writing (something folks had suggested for years, but I'd always pooh-poohed), which eventually lead to talk of graphic novels, which, in turn, lead to thinking about which properties I had that could work. I feel strongly that Darkness Walks can work as both a traditional--and graphic--novel. Sure enough, after wracking my brain trying to decide which direction I was going to go in, I decided put out the story in both mediums. The same is likely with Lupus Moon.

Then my superhero characters came to mind. I finally had a chance to do something with them. But somehow, a prose novel just didn't work for me. They would have to be done as graphic novels. Or, should they be monthly editions--you know, classic distribution? As I read more about the comics industry, the more interested in it I became. Thinking back over my history (and present) it seems like this move would be, and indeed is, second nature. But like so many things, I'd talked myself out of it because I was ignorant of the workings of the industry. I still am for the most part, but at 35, I'm not as keen to worry about things that I would use to hold me back when I was 25. I see my time as ticking away; indeed, tomorrow is promised to no one. I need to get cracking, and I need to do it now. So yeah, why not comics?

I've currently redeveloped Kysha again. She's now 17, and goes by the code name "Shadowfox." I love the idea of making Kysha a teenager because it instantly makes everything fresh--and a clean slate was where I needed to start. I have the same basic introductory story planned, but again, coming at it from a different perspective makes it feel like I'm starting from scratch. I also love the fact that she's a Black female teenage superhero; I have the opportunity to create a role model for an entire race of girls who rarely get to see themselves in that light. That alone is extremely gratifying for me. It might not be the most commercial project, but damn it, it's mine and I'm going to have a blast working on it. Now I just need a team to help me put it all together...

So that's what's on deck at the moment. Of course projects are subject to change, but I'm strangely optimistic about this slate. I think a large part of it has to do with the fact that, again, I'm 35. I'm motivated to get things moving and have something of a "now or never" attitude towards it. Being a little older also means I care less and less what others have to say. So I'm hungrier to get something done, I'm working on stuff that is very pleasing to me and I'm less inhibited over worrying what others say, therefore making me even more comfortable in my own skin and allowing me to finally, possibly, reach what I feel is my fullest potential?

Sounds like a plan to me.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Stagnation in a Moving World...

So here I am. Again. Trying to figure out what to do with myself...

The Life and Times of Abigail Waller is on yet another hiatus.I really can't get into specifics yet, and like the others, this wasn't planned, but I will say it's been excruciating watching show after show continue to move forward, drop episodes, build audiences, get press and critical acclaim. A few that I support are currently in competition at this year's American Black Film Festival. Another will be screen at Cannes. Yes, that Cannes. Now, these shows are good, but I'd be remiss if I didn't say I thought we were at least as good, based on the two episodes we have up, the two in the can, and the new material I've written--which just might be the best yet. So I'm supremely frustrated to not be able to participate in the mini-Harlem Renaissance that's going on in the new media world right now.

But I digress...