Sure, you’re on a deadline. You’ve got more deadlines than you have socks. So what are you going to do about it? If you are a genuine comic book professional, or you hanker to be a genuine comic book professional, you’ve got to learn how to procrastinate like a genuine comic book professional.
Please note, these tips apply to freelancers of all stripes and not just to cartoonists, artists, writers and/or sloths.
1. You find yourself thinking you should wash the dishes.
2. You find yourself thinking you should take out the garbage.
3. Your abode is not going to paint itself.
4. You’re fiddling through your DVD and DVR library looking for “reference.”
5. You are convinced your editor won’t get around to your assignment for a while anyway.
6. Your cat ate your Internet connection.
7. Your quarterly estimated taxes were due a couple days ago. You really need to find an accountant. Ask around.
8. Damn, if you don’t read these 78 comic books in a pile on your nightstand, you won’t be up on continuity and you’re script/artwork/whatever will have to be completely revised anyway so instead of working, you really should be reading comic books.
9. You realize you haven’t backed-up your computer since Jack Kirby invented the Mother Box.
10. You find yourself wondering, “What would Barry Windsor-Smith do?”
11. Hey, that crossword puzzle isn’t going to solve itself.
12. Your crack dealer doesn’t deliver.
13. You’ll get to your work just as soon as your computer’s countdown clock hits “O seconds.” You won’t have long to wait, as right now it says it will be done in six minutes and six minutes isn’t very long, is it?
14. It’s new comics Wednesday. Or, at least, it was in the past six days.
15. You still haven’t done your homework.
16. You can always backdate your Fed-Ex waybill.
17. You really should take your dog for a walk. After all, you don’t want to be interrupted while you’re working.
18. After trying most or all of the above, you’re way too depressed to work.
19. You find yourself writing a piece about “20 ways to procrastinate.”
20. You’ll start working just as soon as you come up with the 20th item on your list.
I really really, really wanted to write about something funny this week. I mean, I read comics for fun and I presume that you do, too. A little escapist fantasy, a few minutes of relaxation, it’s all good, right?
Now, I’m on record as saying that this is not an event with an easy explanation, nor a quick fix. And I’m not going to offer either one here.
However, I would like to talk about the little sliver of this issue that has been my obsession all year. And that is the way our society, and particularly our little corner of it in the nerd-pop culture, treats misogyny like something that boys get to do.
Apparently, the shooter in Santa Barbara was upset because he couldn’t get laid. It’s unclear how much he actually tried (as in, getting to know women, talking to them, etc.), but he was angry. Thanks to the Internet, he found an online community with which to share his frustrations. Spoiler Alert: Don’t read that link if you have a sensitive stomach.
Yes, they share the same sense of entitlement (and the same violent rape fantasies) as the men I’ve written about here, and here, just as the two most recent examples. Violent rape fantasies are ridiculously common.
I’m not the only one to notice. A recent post by Jeopardy champion Arthur Chu got a lot of links over the past week.
At this point, a lot of my male readers might be getting a tad defensive. “We’re not like that,” they say, and I hope it’s true. “It’s not our fault. And anyway, Rodgers killed a bunch of men, too.”
The murder of those men is every bit as tragic and senseless as the murder of the women. However, if you read what Rodgers (and his pals) actually say, it’s clear that women are the objects of their rage.
Not even women, not really. Just vaginas (and mouths) (and assholes) (and whatever other body parts fascinate any random guy). The rest of the woman is just the delivery system. Some dress up their hatred of women with religious or philosophical justifications, but the fact remains that they see women as a different — and lesser — species than men.
“Still,” my straw men mutter. “I’m not like that. It’s not all men.”
Some men beg to differ. You see, it’s not enough simply to avoid doing something horrible. You should also do everything you can to prevent other people from doing something horrible. You shouldn’t sit still while the man next to you makes a rude comment to a woman, nor let threats on the comments thread you’re reading go unanswered.
As Andrew O’Hehir said on Salon, “What troubles me is the extent to which many men seek to ignore or deflect all conversation about the specific nature of Elliot Rodger’s pathology, along with the evident fact that many women see that pathology as a ubiquitous social and cultural problem.”
Look, I’m not a perfect person, far from it, so I’m not holding myself up as an ideal. I want to have sex with people who have no interest in having sex with me, if they even know I exist. That’s really frustrating. Sometimes, I imagine revenge fantasies where these men learn how much they’ve missed. However, my fantasies don’t involve death and destruction. My fantasies are more likely to involve the look on George Clooney’s face when he sees me with Benedict Cumberbatch.
I’d like to see the comics community take a stand against bad behavior. I’d like to see an end to situations like this, which remain far too common. I’d like to see comic conventions feature panels for all genders about the cause and effect of these hatreds, and how we can combat them. Or at least some required etiquette classes.
Microsoft announced via their Xbox Wire blog a number of changes to its Xbox One Console and related services. A new package without the Kinect camera and motion control accessory will be available starting June 9th for $399, putting the system on par with the better-selling PS4.
The Kinect allows users to play a small number of games,as well as enable many of the interactive features that Microsoft hoped people would find exciting and useful, but many have instead found superfluous and creepy. Users without the Kinect will lose the ability to use voice and motion-related commands to power on the system and perform functions like changing programs and display options. They will also lose the ability for the unit to recognize the users face as they long, as well as many of the potential “Big Brothery” features like being able to count people in the room (and charge accordingly), being able to deliver targeted advertisements based on response data the device picks up, and the fact that the peripheral is “always on,” ready to pick up your voice commands, features that many users feared could be used in the future for more monetized strategies.
For those who change their mind after the fact, the Kinect peripheral will become available separately this fall, but no details on exact date or price have been revealed.
This is the latest in a series of reversals in the Xbox One’s marketing. Before its release, gamers railed at what they saw as prohibitive and restrictive requirements to loan a game to a friend. A requirement that the system be always connected to the internet vanished shortly after when people took them to task for assuming that every player had full-time internet access – many pointed out that soldiers in other countries were frequent gamers but their limited web access effectively excluded them from playing the new system.
The general PR boondoggle around the launch resulted in Don Mattrick, Microsoft’s President of Interactive Entertainment, leaving the company after some extremely short-sighted comments about the console’s potential users. Many have continued to complain about the console’s higher price, based mainly on a peripheral that some find unnecessary, a complaint this change finally addresses.
In other Xbox news, Microsoft announced that many Internet services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Skype would no longer require the Xbox Live Gold (paid) membership, but would be available for people with the unpaid Silver accounts. Gold is still required for online play of multiplayer-equipped games, something also required on the PS4 via the PlayStation Plus service. Following the lead of the Plus service, Microsoft has offered free games for Gold members for some time, and would soon offer “Deals with Gold,” offering discounts on games, a service also already part of PlayStation Plus.
In their blog post, Microsoft states:
We’ve heard that you want more choices from Xbox One. You want a wide variety of options in your games and entertainment experiences and you also want options in your hardware selection.
While it’s good that Microsoft has heard these wishes, one would not be out of line in wishing that they had responded more quickly after processing what they had heard.
“These days, the potential comic audience has a nearly limitless array of diversions that vie for its attention and dollars, including movies, TV, video games, and the Internet. To grab the attention of a large audience today, whether in print or digital formats, comics creators need to have the skills to tell great stories in interesting, clear, and compelling ways.”
– Carl Potts, The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics- Inside the Art of Visual Storytelling.
Join Carl Potts and Phil Jimenez for a special presentation and signing of his book, [[[The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics- Inside the Art of Visual Storytelling]]]. Carl will begin the evening with a presentation on the basic principles and techniques of sequential visual storytelling. This will be followed by a conversation with Phil Jimenez on his approach on the three page Batman sequence in the book along with additional thoughts on the night’s topic.
It’s amazing how money changes things. Norm McDonald once did a bit about buying a friend a lottery ticket for a Christmas gift – “You don’t actually want it to win…”
Oculus Rift, the latest uber-cool project amongst video game mavens, just hit the jackpot, and a lot of people are annoyed about it. The VR-goggle system, designed primarily for videogame use, but bursting with potential other uses, got its initial funding via crowdfunding site Kickstarter, much to everyone’s joy. But this week, the company made news when it was sold for a staggering two billion dollars.
Sounds like good news, right? A rags to riches, Local Boy Makes Good story, yeah?
Unlike my esteemed colleague Jen Krueger, I watched the Academy Awards all the way through on Sunday (although at the same time I was also fixing dinner, playing fetch with my cat, and incessantly checking my e-mails, and then later trying to find a position in bed so I could see but still be horizontal).
I like to watch award shows for different reasons than most people, at least if I believe the Internets. All those technical awards that everybody hates? Those are my favorites. I love to see someone who is not a celebrity recognized for his or her work. I love to see them get their moment literally in the spotlight. I imagine their mothers at home, kvelling.
There has been a lot of hullabaloo over the casting of Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle, Fruitvale Station, The Wire, Parenthood) as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, in the Fantastic Four movie scheduled for release in 2015.
There are parts of the Internet that have predictably gone nuts.
While we believe that there could be some concerns as to revised character motivation based on changing the race of the character, our general attitude is: calm the %$#@! down.
We have survived this:
It cannot possibly be worse.
*Until we actually see, y’know, footage or something.
While most of us were going about our days, living our lives, the prevailing culture has become progressively nerdier. I don’t mean that there as been a renewed interest in science and math, because that would imply that we would exert ourselves mentally, and, as Americans, we don’t like to exert ourselves. What I mean is that there is more attention paid to comics, science fiction and fantasy, and that a lot of us know who Steven Moffat is.
In general, I think this is great. As more people celebrate their love of the more nerdy aspects of popular culture, more people might find out about them and find enjoyment as well. I’m all in favor of more pleasure in life. That applies to food and music and gardening as well as entertaining. In these specific case, I’m also pleased because a bigger audience means more job opportunities for me and for people I like.
However, it also means some of the less savory aspects of nerd culture are becoming commonplace. As this woman notes, women who express an opinion online are often insulted in ways that demean them sexually and violently. This is something that has been all too common in comics, where women had traditionally been treated as if we were a different species.
I’ve talked about this before, and yet, somehow, that didn’t seem to fix it. Maybe having stories like these publicized in The New York Times and other media will make a difference. Maybe having more women in all fields talk to each other will make a difference.
Why do some men think it is acceptable, when they disagree with a woman on some subject, to write comments that threaten her physically? Why do they think it’s acceptable to use her appearance to discredit her thoughts? Yes, I know that not all men make these comments, but they are so prevalent that one can only assume the perpetrators consider this to be reasonable discourse.
I mean, there are all kinds of men with whom I disagree, and I have never, not even in the heat of the moment, felt I could say, “You don’t know anything because you have a tiny tiny dick, and I’m coming to cut it off and shove it up your ass so you can see how little it really is.” Until I tried to imagine a parallel threat to those of the commentators, I never even thought of such a thing. And I have really sharp knives in my apartment.
Internet threats are mostly empty, but that doesn’t mean they are harmless. They have an inhibiting effect on discourse, which is a threat to our democracy. In many cases, such as those in which physical violence is threatened, they are actually illegal. I have a bigger problem, though, in that, as nerds and geeks, we should know how painful insults can be. We should be especially resistant to replicating these tactics precisely because we’ve felt it ourselves.
On Monday my pal Jason Scott Jones used his Facebook page to link to an incredible article about what it meant to be black before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He describes a culture in which African Americans lived literally in fear for their lives every time they went out in public – and sometimes when they stayed home. I’m not kidding when I say that this made my head metaphorically explode. I mean, I knew it wasn’t easy, but I had never before thought about how it felt to walk around with that level of threat and dread.
I’m not comparing to being threatened on the Internet to living in constant fear of being lynched. Instead, I’m using my experience to get a feeling for what that felt like. I hope, if I had been in those communities, I would have stood up for those being threatened. I hope I would have rooted for the underdog.
“So, can we still love the work of Woody Allen? For me, the answer is an uneasy “yes.” Because, I do. To say I’ll stop would just be another lie in a situation already mired in falsehoods and overlooked facts.
“So, I think we can still love the work of Woody Allen, but under one condition: This part of his story is told. No more burying the bad beneath the slightly less bad. And, certainly, no illusions that the whiny, hypochondriac charmer onscreen is anything more than a character he created. I believe Alvy Singer is an underdog. I believe Woody Allen is a child-molester.
“Maybe one person writing one post on the Internet isn’t going to change the tide of cultural consciousness. Still, what is cultural consciousness but a number of individuals creating a story?
“If only a few hundred people make it to the end of this post, then it’s a few hundred people who have their own decision to make. I’ll take it.
I wasn’t as conscientious as maybe I should have been in transcribing what I have just extensively quoted, and so I don’t know if Mick Gray wrote the words or was quoting someone else. In any case, I’m grateful to Mr. Gray for putting the piece on Facebook. It deals with the topic of last week’s column and deals with it far more cogently than my blather did.
Mea culpa. By now, I should know that the work should not be judged by the man. And I’m not even sure that I’ll never pay money to see another Woody Allen movie, as I claimed, because I should also know, by now, never to say never.
But I have not patronized Mel Gibson entertainments, at least not yet, ever since his storm of hate talk and his public espousal of what I consider to be a virulent form of Christianity. The logic is: Mr. Gibson’s public pronouncements are pernicious and could conceivably nudge minds and hearts into pernicious places and I don’t want even a nanocent of my money to end up in Mel’s possession, where he might use it to further his agendas.
That’s me, striking a blow for righteousness!
Sure. Truth is, my lack of patronage makes absolutely no difference to Gibson and his cohorts. But it helps me validate my opinions and my self-esteem – looky looky what that virtuous Den is doing for his morals –and maybe it offers me the illusion of having some control over my life. I can neither understand nor affect computers, home heating systems, the car parked in the driveway, Congress, the stock market, cable television, global warming, the volcano under Old Faithful that might blow and cause massive extinction, errant asteroids, why execs of chemical and tobacco companies that wreak havoc on the common good don’t have crises of conscience – all things which either bear on me, or might, but I can sure give that Gibson a reckoning! Take that, Mr. Mel.
Final note: I haven’t boycotted the work of Tom Cruse or John Travolta, both of whom are vocal supporters of Scientology which is a… what is scientology, anyway? Cult? Religion? It’s spokespersons use “religion” and that’ll do. Anyway, although I think this religion is, all around, a bad deal, it seems to harm mostly its followers. I don’t know that it’s poisoning the rest of us and everyone to his own lunacy as long as he doesn’t try to convert me to it.
And for all I know, those execs mentioned above do have crises of conscience and are just keeping mum about them.
“Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” – Gene Fowler
“It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader. If you do not believe in the characters or the story you are doing at that moment with all your mind, strength, and will, if you don’t feel joy and excitement while writing it, then you’re wasting good white paper, even if it sells, because there are other ways in which a writer can bring in the rent money besides writing bad or phony stories.” – Paul Gallico
“Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.” – “Red” Smith
“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” – Philip Roth
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs” – Stephen King
Maybe you’ve figured out by now that today I’ve got nothing. Zip. Nada. A big Krispy Kreme donut hole. So I’ll just do a bit of stream of consciousness and see what comes pouring out.
Chris Christie. I don’t know why it took so long for Bridgegate to become front-page news. Everybody who lived in New Jersey last August seemed to know that the closing of the entrances to the GW Bridge was a political bullshit thing. Traffic study? C’mon, this is New Jersey. Everybody knows that the traffic at the GW Bridge sucks 23 out of 24 hours a day. You need a traffic stuffy for that?
What I don’t get, what everybody in New Jersey, home to Tony Soprano and Enoch “Nucky” Johnson (renamed Thompson in Boardwalk Empire) and the dirtiest politics in America, doesn’t get is how Christie’s staff could be so stupid as use e-mail in planning and enacting their stupid pet tricks. As to “was the boss in on it?” and “did Christie know and when did he know it?” You could bowl me over with a spoon if it turns out that the Governor was ignorant of his staff’s shenanigans. But I won’t be surprised if he comes out of this smelling, if not like a rose, at least then like a refurbished brownstone in downtown Jersey City. A function of all political flunkies is, after all, to fall upon their sword for God, Country, and Emperor when necessary, and I think that’s what’s going to happen.
“Ignore the barrage of violent threats and harassing messages that confront you online every day.” That’s what women are told. But these relentless messages are an assault on women’s careers, their psychological bandwidth, and their freedom to live online. We have been thinking about Internet harassment all wrong. That’s the journalistic “hook” for Amanda Hess’s cover story“Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet” in Pacific Standard magazine appeared on January 6, 2014, and the story’s first paragraphs are about her experience of receiving death threats over Twitter while on vacation in Palm Springs. Amanda Hess was on the Brian Lehrer show last week to talk about this. I couldn’t hear the whole thing because she came on in the second half of the show and I had to go into work, but I sat in the parking lot as long as I could listening and thought of all the stories I’ve heard this year from my friends in the comics industry. I’m thinking that maybe the end of “net neutrality” isn’t such a bad idea after all. Maybe making it a little harder to have full access to the web will help cut this shit out?
Nah. To quote Scotty in The Search For Spock, “the more they over think the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.” I don’t know what the answer is, but it aggravates the hell out of me.
I adore my grandchild, Meyer Manual. I adore watching Alix and Jeff be parents. But I still can’t get used to the word “Grandma.” It just doesn’t fit into my self-image vocabulary. Isn’t that incredibly fucked-up? I am trying to think of another “name” for myself to have him call me. When Alix first began to talk she called my parents by their first names, and continued to do so for a very long time; I don’t remember when she stopped and started calling them Grandma and Grandpa, but I do remember that my father didn’t like being called Meyer at first – “I’m your grandfather, not your friend” – but when Alix grew into calling him Grandpa, he missed the first-name bit. I think some part of him was longing for that tiny little toddler. Me, I’d love it if little Meyer calls me Mindy. What the hell, I’ve always been an iconoclast, why stop now? On the other hand, I don’t care what he calls me, as long as he calls me (she said in her best Groucho Marx imitation).
Speaking of my father, we took him out on Saturday night to celebrate his birthday. I told you about how he kept eating the french fries as my brother “Heimliched” my mom, how he’s in his own “Never-never land” most of the time, and how in so many ways my father is gone. And yet, sometimes there’s the glimmer of the old Meyer. My brother ordered a vodka gimlet for him, specifying “Stoly’s.” The waiter repeats it, “Yes, sir, vodka gimlet with Stoly’s” and suddenly my father intercedes. “Ketel.” “You want Ketel 1?” my brother said. He nodded, and then he lapsed back into that place where he lives most of the time. But later, while driving home, Alix told Jeff and I that she heard my dad tell Isabel “it’s an honor to be here with you and the baby to celebrate my 91st birthday.”
Been thinking about the lack of comics in this house for the last year (for financial reasons, as I mentioned in a previous column). Been thinking that I might head over to Comixology or one of the other sites and do some downloading to catch up. Definitely cheaper. But only as a temporary measure. Somehow not holding the comic in my hand while reading seems wrong to me. Well, if not wrong, then weird. Maybe that makes me a Luddite, but if Jim Kirk can read A Tale of Two Cities in hardcover in the 24th century and Jean-Luc Picard treasures his copy of Moby Dick in the 26th, then I’m just doing my part to ensure that real books hang around for future generations.