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January 29, 2010

Oh, Right

An 8 day rejection from PodCastle.

Ah, yes. This part feels very familiar.

January 27, 2010

Panels Out Of Context #5

From Avengers Annual #17. Written by Walter Simonson, penciled by Mark Bright, inked by Mike & Valerie Gustovich, colored by Evelyn Stein, and edited by Mark Gruenwald. Marvel, 1988.

Bloody hell! Look! It's the 1st Battalion Transvestite Brigade! Airborne wing!

Reading: More Than Human, by Theodore Sturgeon.

January 26, 2010

Pimp My Database

Well, Bento's certainly much prettier, I would say. A screenshot of the two, new on the left, old on the right.

(Click to embiggen, if you are so inclined.)

I think that leather is Corinthian. Or is it Cardassian?

There's still some database clean up to be done, of course, which is weird. Poking through the remains of old magazines that bit the dust, rejections and sales years, sometimes over a decade old. Even has my first rejection in there, from 1991, when I was still in college and especially clueless. Hoo boy. Something never change. I'm still in college, and still clueless. Ah, consistency.

Reading: The Complete Bloom County, vol. 1, 1980-1982, by Berke Breathed. This was good. Also, The Chill, written by Jason Starr and illustrated by Mick Bertilorenzi . This was not. Or rather, the illustration was good, and the story decent, but the ending did not work for me at all.

January 25, 2010

Shadows Of The Monkey God Dungeon

Got the word back on the third accepted but never published story. Once again, it disappeared in the editorial shift. Unsurprising, but I'm still a little disappointed.

* * *

After a relaxing evening watching Chuck and House, Lisa managed to get me to watch the first ten minutes of Twilight, in some sort of, "oh God, this is terrible, watch this" kind of way. I managed to make my escape by having her listen to Tripod's King Kong on my iPod, and swiping the remote when her evil cackles changed to giggles of amusement. Thank you, Australian geeks.

* * *

I am mildly surprised to see that my downloads from DriveThruRPG's "give to Haiti relief, get a metric ton of free files from us" are to be downloaded one at a time. There's about a hundred of them, more or less. This is gonna take a while.

* * *

After judging Manuscript Tracker not customizable enuf, I'm taking a look at Bento. For one thing, I can import my old database into it. That, I like.

Reading: Had been Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde. Yes. This. Awesome. Also, book one of a trilogy, which left me going "Gah!" So be warned. Now reading 50 Short Science Fiction Tales, edited by Isaac Asimov and Groff Conklin. In the intro Asimov complains about the problems of trying to describe a strange environment and do a decent job of characterization too, and why doesn't anyone celebrate a well-described setting? It's a mystery.

January 22, 2010

Step #256,718

An intriguing suggestion from one of my work buddies (Hi, Cheryl! Thanks!) to solve my database problem: Manuscript Tracker, from Quick Brown Fox. Screenshots look nice, and the price is right. Free is good. Hopefully it still runs under the latest Mac OS X (what is that now? Snow Leopard? Black Panther? Cosmic Sphinx? I can never keep those straight) and then I'll be on to the next nuisance. Putting all the old data in there.

January 21, 2010

Nothing New Under The Sun

Hm. I'm going to need to get myself some new submissions tracking software. The thoroughly antiquated Appleworks 6.0 database I kept all my stuff won't work. Boots, shows the credits, then crashes. I've got a PDF snapshot of the thing, but I'm going to have to rebuild it. Man, I hate it when that happens. Pain in the friggin' ass.

Reading: Had been Seven Come Infinity, by Groff Conklin, a Silver Age SF reprint anthology I bought for a quarter at the library book sale. Most of the seven worked pretty well still, except "The Corianis Disaster" by Murray Leinster. Ten pages into it and I found myself shouting at the book, "Get to the f%$@ing monkey!".

January 20, 2010

Panels Out Of Context #4

From Avengers #291. Written by Walter Simonson, penciled by John Buscema, inked by Tom Palmer, colored by Max Scheele, and edited by Mark Gruenwald. Marvel, 1988.

I'm actually a little alarmed how much the troubled Doctor Druid here resembles me.

January 19, 2010

Am Am Am

Am surprised that one of the markets where I thought my work had been discarded/overlooked/lost in the cracks, it turns out that the editor had a series of medical problems combined with computer problems. In short, most of Bush's second term is a hazy blur. The lucky bastard. Anyhoo, he asked for a new copy of the story file and it looks like it might actually see print. Go figure.

* * *

Am rocking out on Tripod's Songs from Self-Saucing and The Aquabats's Charge!!. It seems my musical tastes grow ever stranger as I grow old.

Interestingly, both these albums have songs about apes, one gigantic, the other mechanical. I'm not sure what it means, however.

* * *

Am working up a presentation on copyright that I have to make to faculty in a couple weeks. Gah. Shame I can't just say, "Copyright: Don't violate it, ok, as the university would rather not be sued into insolvency."

Hm. Maybe that can be the title.

January 18, 2010

Tidying Up The Ruins

Just sent queries to two markets that accepted my stories B.I.* but never put them into print. The last time I did that, turned out the old editor hadn't passed them along to the new editor. I look forward to a similarly annoying development.


Reading: Just finished Iorich by Steven Brust. Ah, Vlad.

* - Before Ian.

January 15, 2010

Eye Tyrant

Went to get my eyes checked this morning, as part of my continuing "I've just turned 40 so let's see how my body is falling apart" program. As it turns out, my eyesight is excellent. The doctor actually mentioned how much he was enjoying doing the exam because so often the people who come to see him are train wrecks, ocularly speaking. If I ever do have trouble reading, those cheapo glasses they sell at the pharmacy will be just fine. But until then, no glasses.

Which, it turns out, is a good thing. Last night while I was at work, Lisa told Ian that I was going to the eye doctor to see if I needed glasses. Whereupon Ian promptly burst into tears, wailing "But I don't want Daddy to wear glasses!"

No, I'm not sure what that's about either. Perhaps it's an aesthetics problem. He'd probably be cool with me using a magnifying glass.

January 14, 2010

So, Drawing: DC Comics Guides

So, as I've said, I've been reading a lot of books on drawing, cartooning, comics, and so forth (interlibrary loan iis my friend). Am still reading them. Did a BI tonight, where when I was showing them the ILL system, I still had another four or five books listed in my request queue. When I asked the traditional "Any questions?", one guy asked what my comic book was going to be about. Feel free to guess what I told him!

And now, my (brief) opinions on some of these drawing books:

DC Comics has actually published a whole series of books on how to create comics the DC way (it's a bit ironic, actually, releasing this how-to series, since they won't accept slush submissions. Although they do have that whole online Zuda Comics competition thing going on).

Technically, the first book in the comic creation series is the DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics. But since it's dealing with them, whaddyacall'em, words, I'm not going to get into it here. I will say I've read it and it's pretty good.

DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics by Klaus Janson covers how to draw comics. It's not a drawing book for beginners; there's a lot of focus on the work of superhero comics (i.e., muscles). Things like drawing faces, not so much. There's also a lot of practical advice on how to layout a page to best tell the story, as well as other sequential art story issues: borders, cover art, splash pages, and so forth. If you're already drawing reasonably well, it's worth a look.

DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics, also by Klaus Janson, gets into the whole how to ink the comics. Like the previous book, this one has practical advice on the kinds of tools to use, and how to go about doing the work. Lots of people think that just because you're not doing the work of creating the scene, you're really just tracing. The problem with that is, the way a drawing is inked can change how it looks pretty dramatically (yes, there are examples).

DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics by Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein handles the last two jobs in comics work: coloring it in and putting in the words (it's all so incredibly specialized, isn't it?). These are two jobs that have definitely changed the most from the old days. There are still artists out there who draw with pen and ink, but this book covers how to color with Photoshop. For example, a basic Caucasian skin color is #FCD2C1 (20% yellow, 20% magenta). African americans, #9B7365 (65% yellow, 60% magenta, 45% cyan). And from there on it gets into shading and lighting and suchnot.

The lettering part of the book has it both ways, by hand and computer. By hand is exactly what it sounds like. By computer means using Illustrator rather than Photoshop. I can understand why (Illustrator's better for manipulating text), but those Adobe programs aren't cheap. There's also comic-specific topics like sound effects, logos, placing the logos to help the reader, and what was most interesting of all to me, how to make your own fonts.

If the previous books were old-school, DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics by Freddie E. Williams is how to go about creating comics on your computer. In other words, with a Wacomb drawing tablet and Photoshop. This book more or less replaces the Drawing & Inking books. The digital way includes doing the work by working with multiple layers, creating wireframes, and such not. It also has my favorite new dirty-sounding phrase, "stroking the path." It doesn't get into coloring & lettering as such, because that's what Chiarello & Klein's book is for. It's a pretty cool way of doing things, but it does require all that fancy software & hardware. It does also require you to already be able to draw.

The DC Comics Guide Series:

Expect more of these because, well, y'know. Because.

January 12, 2010

Yet Another Parenting Anecdote

At the end of a long day with boy. Noticed around dinner I had a sticker on my sweatshirt. Front neck, right about where a priest's collar would be. Ian apparently attached it to me at some point during the day. Pretty sure it would have been some time in the morning.

It's a sticker of Wubbzy in his underwear.

This explains a couple looks I got at the grocery store.

January 11, 2010

He Also Seems Taller

Behold! The Lord of Llectomies!

Photo by Lisa and her iPhone.

We're on day one of his missing school, and as you can see, he's having a reasonably good time. And I'm not just saying that because he can turn me into a newt. Or banish me from the kingdom. Both, really.

He's made it up to baloney & cheese sandwiches, once we invested in a loaf of soft, pillowy white bread. And we actually ventured out today, very briefly to the bookstore. So I'm happy to say he's on the mend.

Reading: The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, edited by William S. Baring-Gould. Saw the movie over Christmas somehow (goofy but entertaining fun), and thought I'd take a look at the original.

January 10, 2010

Panels Out Of Context #3

From Avengers #107. Written by Steve Englehart, artisted by Jim Starlin, George Tuska & Dave Cockrum, colored by Glynis Wein, and lettered by D. Vladimer. Marvel, 1973.

January 08, 2010

Run For Forty Miles And Come Up Running Late

Well, it was an interesting morning, to say the least. Up at five, home by eleven. Ian came through with flying colors, altho' he seemed more than a little indignant afterwards. He did not like having the IV plugged into his hand, and he kept reaching for the back of his throat as if he could pull out his pain and toss it across the room.

(Dear future Ian: that's the ugly truth about a tonsillectomy, as you now know. We promise you all the ice cream you want but you won't actually want any. I'm sorry).

Eventually we got some codeine Tylenol in him, and that made the difference. The spent the rest of the day watching tv and eating chocolate ice cream. He's asleep on my side of the bed right now, leaving me nowhere but the recliner. Comfy enough, I guess.

As for the weather, snowfall was minimal, really, but there was an awful lot of ice on the roads. We ended up fifteen minutes late to the hospital because of it, but at least we made it. There's something amusing about watching two pickups being unable to get up an icy hill, and then making it yourself in a Prius. All those years living and driving in the Midwest paid off, I guess.

January 07, 2010

Old Man Winter Comes Through

Well, I'll be damned: library's closing early, 5pm. I know, that may not seem early to you, but we're normally open til midnight, and I was supposed to be here until 9pm. So, then. If I wander across the floor to a window, I can see big, fat flakes falling--ha ha!

Also, hospital called. Ian will be having the procedure tomorrow morning at 7:30 am, assuming the hospital hasn't been conquered by angry snow demons.

Also also, my tea mug is leaking. The hell? That ain't right.

January 06, 2010

For His Fanbase

For those of you interested in such things, Ian The Boy will be having his tonsils & adenoids removed this Friday morning (a more specific time will be forthcoming once the hospital calls). For obvious reasons, he's a bit scared about this, although he likes the sound of spending a week home from school with us and the grandfolks, and all the ice cream, popsicles, and pudding he cares to eat. So think good thoughts at him, okay?

* * *

Catching up on journals. Holy frijoles, you people have been up to some stuff. I am startled & amazed on what I missed the last couple months, what with my self-involvement preoccupation-type mindset. And Twitter? Hoo, never mind. Need some backstory before I get back into that.

* * *

They say it'll snow here tomorrow. I'll believe it when I see it.

January 05, 2010

Facts Are Annoying Things

So, one of the fallouts of my recent physical (Yay, 40! Go age go!) is that it turns out my cholesterol and triglycerides are high. As in, "although convenient, you need to stop storing cheeseburgers in your arteries" kind of high. So I'm now engaged in watching what I eat, i.e., documenting it and the calories on a daily basis with an eye towards losing weight. Calorie counts are like word counts, only a 3,000 word day? Very good. A 3,000 calorie day? Not good. They're also kind of hard to estimate, as most things are only approximate. It's a shame there's no Microsoft Eat: Calorie Count, but I also wouldn't want my GI tract crashing on me three times a day.

Don't want this journal to turn into a list of What I Devoured, but it's a change in my life, so I'll note it here. This will also be the only time I play on mentioning it. The fact that we're at the start of the New Year makes it a good time to bring it up, but this change is not a resolution. Resolutions are promises you make and often break. This change is now a fact.

Darn it all.

Recently Read Over The Break: Bone, the Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume, by Jeff Smith. THAT was AWESOME.

January 04, 2010

Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Take Me In

So, I'm back, more or less. Today is the last day of my vacation from the library mines, so I might as well end radio silence. I haven't been keeping up with what's been up in your individual worlds (mine has been difficult enough to keep track of), so let me just offer you all my congratulations/sympathies/outrage/amused interest/holiday wishes as appropriate. I'll be catching up later.

As for myself, vacation was fairly memorable. Took Ian to Disney World, where he offered up his deep and most sincere appreciation to Mickey and Minnie. Quite good. On the other hand, also had my credit card number stolen (these two events are probably not related) and have been working with the fallout from that. Let's just say I've been getting some interesting mail.

So, how were your holidays?