The Road to Success

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You are responsible for your success and failure. The sooner you accept and integrate that into your work ethic, the sooner you will start being successful. If you blame others for your failures, you will never be successful.

 

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Comic Book Review – Jupiter’s Legacy Volume 2 (2017)

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I’ve been reading comics for over thirty years and I like them as much now as I did when I was kid. But as my knowledge of art, drama, history, geography, cinema and psychology has grown, my expectations for mainstream entertainment and superhero comics have soared.

Some of my favorite books have been about the unilateral grasp for power by the world’s most powerful and the capes that arise in opposition. A quick list: Squadron Supreme (86), Watchmen, Kingdom Come, Civil War (06 – I understand I am loose in putting it on this list), and the dazzling Rising Stars (especially the first two volumes). The Jupiter series (Circle and Legacy) honors and possible surpasses all of those (a few of you might think Garth Ennis’s “The Boys” should go on this list, but that is mostly a dark and violent satire of the genre).

The work that Mr. Millar and Mr. Quitely have performed in this book is astonishing. Frank Quitely’s art is truly spectacular and dynamic – from facial expressions to movements to backgrounds to splash pages. His skills have only improved with the years.

Mark Millar’s plotting and dialogue are superb in this volume, and he builds the anticipation for the conflict deftly. The so-called heroes are the villains and vice-versa: the world seems upside down, which is a scathingly blatant critique of the current social, economic and political climates of the Western world (particularly the USA), though if you blink you’ll miss them. The arrogance, stupidity and knee-jerk actions of the leadership is both eerie and funny at the same time. The motivations of the rebels (villains/heroes that have been in hiding) are both personal and globally altruistic – and they are consistent and logical. This is truly a wonderful feat of writing. There were many moments where I paused as I caught myself smiling and shaking my head at both the content and the style.

The action in issues 5 and 6 in this volume could have been spread out a little more, but I’m only whinging about it because I liked this story so much. The other irritant is that it took Millar and Quitely 2 1/2 years to offer this up after the glorious first volume. If the last page is to be believed, then we won’t see “Jupiter’s Requiem” until 2019. Brutal.

 

5 out of 5 stars

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Comic Book Review – Miracleman Book Three: Olympus (2015)

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The fantastic conclusion to one of Alan Moore’s first on-going comics is finally back in print. “Miracleman – Book 3: Olympus” has been one of the most expensive out-of-print graphic novels for many years now. The hardcover version being frequently posted for sale for insane amounts of money (think 4 figures). So, it’s a blessed relief for fans and newcomers alike that there is now a more affordable option for enjoying the finale to Moore’s 8 year opus.

Much has been written about Moore (aka “The Original Writer”) and John Totleben’s work on Miracleman, but needless to say that it’s more than a fitting resolution to all the sub-plots introduced in Books 1 and 2. Told via flashback in a utopian 1987/1988, Miracleman writes the “official” account of late 1982 to his present day. He narrates being reunited with Miraclewoman, meeting the Warpsmiths, the loss of much of his personal life, and the horrific return of Kid Miracleman in 1985. At the end of the book, Miracleman saves the day “for good”, but at what cost?

Moore presents some fascinating themes and realistic consequences of the existence of actual super heroes. Unlike in “Watchmen”, where all the masked heroes were regular people for the most part, Olympus confronts head on how alien the main characters are. From Miraclewoman’s detached attitude to her sexual abuse by Dr. Gargunza; Kid Miracleman’s effortless massacre, slaughtering half the population of London creatively in a matter of hours; to Miracleman’s own personal transformation as he desperately tries to hold onto his humanity, before slipping into other world benevolence.

The conclusion will definitely divide your thoughts and opinions if you see morality in anything but black and white. An apparent utopia is achieved, but are the humans in Miracleman’s fantastical society really free? It’s a very complex ending to the comic, with Miracleman himself unsure about his actions and the future of the world that he’s created.

Totleben illustrates all of these scenarios magnificently, and Book 3 is, by far, the most beautiful of the three volumes. This is incredibly high praise considering Garry Leach’s highly detailed work on the first book, but the consistency of Book 3 really takes it above and beyond. The art really imbibes the mythological tone of Moore’s writing, with Totleben drawing breathtaking imagery seemingly every other page. And when I say breathtaking, I mean in multiple different ways. But these descriptions do not do Totleben’s craft justice – no amount of words probably could. Please, buy this book and experience it yourself. The artwork is worth the price alone.

Moore’s writing in this book far surpasses Watchmen or any of his other work and Totleben’s striking line art seems to be sharper and more detailed in this new edition. Steve Oliff’s new digital colouring also does a good job of matching the quality of Sam Parson’s original traditional colouring and everything appears to be much more vibrant, but not at the expense of compromising the dark atmosphere of the book. This is by far the best chapter in my favourite comic of all time, and it is as fresh and striking today as it was in 1990.

Highly recommended.

 

5 out of 5 stars

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On Writing…..

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…on art, on being creative:

“Work hard
Think
Cultivate silence
Plan diligently
Plumb your own soul
And try, with every fibre of your being, to get better and better and better……”

James Ellroy

It’s just that simple, and that hard.

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So You Want to be a Writer?

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I can’t take credit for this list, it’s courtesy of Matt Hawkins at Top Cow Productions Inc. Link here: https://topcow.com/

I have, however, made a few edits to the list as I think this is relevant to most if not all writers and types of writing.

So, you want to be a comics pro? If you’re interested in becoming a professional writer here are a few things to consider in order to make sure that this is the right move for you:

1) For the most part, writing is a solitary experience and you can expect long periods of isolation while doing the creative work;

2) Most writers have editors and they also do work-for-hire, which means you will be forced to change your creation in ways that you may not like. You’ll need to find a way embrace and work past this disagreement in order to complete the piece (and get paid);

3) You’ll need to learn self-marketing in order to sell yourself (and your work); publishing companies market characters/titles for the most part, however you’ll need to market yourself. And yes, driving 4 hours to a book signing where 3 people show up is no fun, but it’s happened to everyone.

4) Unless you have a day job, you need to have enough savings to cover your living expenses for 6 to 12 months. Freelance writing jobs aren’t always readily available, so don’t become too comfortable in your current economic status. There are countless freelancers who went from making 60-80k a year to 20k the next.

5) You have to become comfortable talking to people and selling yourself and your stories at cons. Unless you’re on a name brand book it won’t sell itself.

6) Either have something to say or don’t say anything at all. Social media is a bitch, so either have a message and stick to it which can help build you a following (and potentially alienate others) or don’t discuss controversial things at all. If you aren’t comfortable and good at it, don’t do it.

 

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