TWO FISTED HOMEOPAPE May/23 - Comics *and* Teaching Resources!
*SWOON* What a double tap of nerdery!
♫ I applied for a rescue dog,
But if I get you dog,
You're rescuing me ♫
2022 -- bounce.
I thought I chose this word because it would mean I was being responsibly persistent - I would bounce back, keep bouncing, be a little bouncy.
Mostly, though, it’s just described my brain. On a loop. Bouncing. Bouncing. Bouncing. All that bouncing tends to make someone feel a little punch drunk, perhaps.
I need to find the sweet spots of zero gravity, just at the height of the bounce. I need to maybe sometimes stop bouncing. Prepare when and where I will bounce.
No idea how to manage these things, but knowing you don’t know is half the battle, or the first step, or something. Knowing, and acknowledging them. I should do more of that.
For instance: it’s been a good week of writing. Most mornings, I’ve asked myself for a page of comic script and have then delivered 2 or 3 of them. Some of them have even decided to buck the trend and come out of my head in “pretty good” form. It’s nice to have a good week, and to see the #2 script for this latest project come together has been a joy of little morning victories from 4-6am.
SPEED REPUBLIC #4, out last week!
The latest, and penultimate, issue of this gonzo dystopian car race story landed last week. Things really boil up to an interesting point in this issue as our racers attempt to make it through the German Gauntlet!
I love the audacity of the strangeness of this first cover.
As always, co-driver Emanuele Parascandolo absolutely smashes it on art duties. The way he brings action to the page is a thing to behold! Go into your store this week, pick up your whole pull list, and hopefully this is already on it!
Spent last weekend out at the ComicGong show up the road in Wollongong. Always the best show on the Aussie landscape. Made a whole stack of sales - just a constant stream of interested readers/buyers. Such a joy.
I had a chat with one guy about just keeping on with the writing, and finding a balance. Being able to tell the stories you want, and make some money, but know what you are signing away, and when you aren’t. It was a really interesting chat. He still didn’t buy anything from the table, but he was a retired fella, writing and writing, and he was not doing anything with it, so it was good brain food for both of us, I dare say.
Did make me wonder - when do other creatives decide it’s okay to sell away their ideas? Never? Only when they start out? As a last resort? Never?
As someone who sold a TV option, and the artist and I owned that story 100%, that windfall was nice [twice] and we hope the show gets made. But when we made that comic, I made about $300 throughout the whole thing, so it was a huge gamble up front. Whereas, a publisher paying me a decent rate up front is good for now - but if a show gets made from it, I’ll be out a decent chunk of change for selling off half the rights.
It’s all a gamble. I’ve had a Hollywood agent now for like 5 years. I’ve sold one comic as a TV option, and had a few looks and nibbles at others with nothing coming from it, yet. But it’s a long process, and those comics I own outright can just sit there and wait for their time. They’ll always be mine.
Whereas the ones I’ve sold out on, I know I might be missing a possible windfall later on. But some of those comics are nearly unfilmable [ha, take that Hollywood] and the odds are against it and the upfront pay has often been good. So I need to always keep my eyes open…but you never know what’s possibly maybe going to happen, and that’s the sting.
I try to make some comics where maybe I get paid, but then some where I own it, and hopefully I keep finding awesome publishers where that’s the balance. Then I just need to balance it alongside the day job [which I’m doing poorly this year].
The Long Rain by Ray Bradbury
I don’t know how Ray Bradbury did it, but he truly mastered the short story form. I guess if you write a thousand of them, some are gonna be good, and some are gonna be bloody great.
I feel like every college teacher is itching to teach a Bradbury at some stage, and while there are some staples that always get around, the one I did the other week was The Long Rain.
If you haven’t read it - check it out - but it’s about 4 soldiers walking through Venus and just being pummelled by the incessant rain as they try to find a safe haven in a Sun Dome. It’s bleak, and perfectly written.
The things I noticed, and instantly wanted to learn from, so what I taught and hoped would land and inform students and their own creative writing, where the following things:
Figurative Language giving, and taking away, life - in the story the rain is constantly given personification to make it feel alive, monstrous, active. Whereas the men constantly get these similes where they are robbed of their humanity [describing them like twisted steel, or like melting clay, or like a stone fountain in a jungle - which is just a perfect way to describe these men as out of place in their efforts to explore this alien landscape]. It seems Bradbury is intent on showing us that this colonisation of another planet [and maybe our own] isn’t the best thing because the people so rarely understand where they are going, why, or most importantly how. The rain slowly trashes these poor hapless men.
Three word sentences - Bradbury uses these awesome three word sentences to punctuate small moments and it’s done subtly, but always with this great element of effect. He’s writing short thoughts because it’s about all the men could also manage as they are stuck in this rain, never ending, always hitting them, making life unbearable. It’s something that once I noticed it, I could not unsee how well, and often, he deploys these short bursts of thought.
Short stories always need that one visual - for me, it’s one of the men driven mad by the rain so he just stands still, head back, mouth open, waiting to drown. I can absolutely see the horror in this moment and it’s brilliantly horrific. So much so, I stole this and put it into one of my D&D campaigns recently.
Bury the horrific - another subtle trick Bradbury plays is burying some of his horrific moments halfway through a paragraph. Instead of cutting to a new paragraph to almost jump scare the audience with the reveal of anything bad happening - like when they discover the two dead bodies of their mates who died in the crash landing, but now those bodies have fungus growing up and out of their mouths - Bradbury just slips it into the back half of the paragraph. And the characters respond accordingly, they are too worn down to think anything about it. It’s a great way for structure to model the character mindsets, just like the three word sentences.
What’s it all about? - I read this story as being about governments sending people into other nations to force their ideas into them, without truly understanding the landscape. It looks at how young men, the cannon fodder, are put into the mouth of madness, but then not properly supported in carrying out the missions they have been tasked, but did not concoct, don’t understand, and possibly don’t even agree with. Really - it’s an anti-war story, or an anti-exploration story, or an anti-colonialism story.
I also stand that the ending is the main character’s death dream, or them embracing madness, but either way it is definitely not a happy ending. I read it like I read the end of Stephen King/Richard Bachman’s THE LONG WALK.
I’ll post my teaching materials up for this one when I get the chance.
I also next looked at another Ray Bradbury story, THE BLACK FERRIS, and I’ll unpack that one next newsletter.
The ‘Pape, doing numbers.
I never quite know context of how much of what I’m doing is doing, but recently discovered something cool about this here newsletter:
The Two Fisted Homeopape is in the Top 40 Comics Newsletters on Substack - as per subscriber numbers
I’ve been writing, and enjoying, this newsletter for about…5 years now? Sounds about right, but also sounds insane. Anyway.
This is a better version of social media, it’s how I like to read things so it’s also what I do - and I’ve been thankful to ever have any readers. It’s always appreciated.
So to see this little Aussie digital missive hanging around in the bottom of the top tier, alongside some really awesome names and people and content was a little charge of inspiration [and validation, let’s be honest].
To be completely transparent - I’m around 675 subscribers [and I usually have like a strangely consistent ‘open rate’ of about 44%]. I believe the top newsletter is around 10k subs, so there’s plenty of daylight in the field between us, but I’m happy with the people who want to read this stuff in their inbox. I want to aim for 700 subs soon - maybe 1000 could be the 2023 goal - though goal implies I know how the hell to get people in through the doors, and on that front I’m specifically clueless.
Anyway, if you’re one of the 44% reading this - cheers!
Ran another session in my campaign for my mates. A bit of fighting, a near death caused by a strange home brew arrow I invented, and then a set up for a huge assault coming in the next session.
One of the players also said they’d DM’ed some from the sourcebook that I’m clearly playing from and that they were always interested and surprised to see which direction I’d take things in and how much I was deviating from that book, which I took as a compliment of the highest order.
PERHAPS YOU'D CARE TO SAMPLE
DIE, an rpg on Kickstarter - this one’s based on a comic that’s about an rpg [it’s all very meta like that] and the comic is bloody brilliant. I’ve read Beta versions of this and it’s very cool, too.
GRIST FOR THE MILL
INHOSPITABLE - when there’s a good comic on Bad Space Comics, it’s absolutely beautiful, and brutal. This one about someone trying to brave Venus to get a sample, through the pressure and the gravity, is such a fantastic short story.
THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD - this Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson affair was just intensely dumb fun. The action surprised me by being so intense and just constant. These two don’t just lay waste for a few Belarussian baddies, they slaughter absolute highways full of them. But the star of the show is the casting director who thought we needed to see Gary Oldman chew up some chunyk scenery as the dictator of Belarus. Absolute gold. Amidst it all, there are two love stories, and I didn’t really care about either of them because of the absurd levels of sheer insanity of the violent set pieces. Really, the draw is getting to wonder what Ryan Reynolds and SLJ would be like as a quippy pair - and I mean the two men, not them playing characters because they aren’t here, they are playing their ‘screen personas’ to the hilt. The result: some good dumb fun.
THE SUICIDE SQUAD - caught this and I have to say: it’s proof that Gunn found the better balance in the Guardians of the Galaxy flicks. Don’t get me wrong, this flick is all kinds of fun [violent and insane like the movie above, too], but it’s more OTT than it is considering how to completely connect with an audience. The brief seems to have been: hey, do what you did with GotG, but we’ll let you get really fucked up. Marvel would never let a flick get this violent and nasty - and that’s cool, everyone should choose their own lane, no shade. But in GotG Gunn manages to make a crazy team come together, get up to insane intergalactic weirdness, and ultimately we care about all of them to a very large degree. I mean, Gunn has got us to really connect with and root for career douche-nozzle Chris Pratt, and that’s a hell of a task which he nails in two flicks. The key seems to be…well, I don’t know, if I did, I’d be a better writer, but the downfall seems to be [or seems to *me* to be] that the hectic levels of violence just makes me switch off a bit. I’m not as open to these characters because they’ve got less time to be explored because they’re too busy absolutely tearing shit up.
Case in point, the Groot Stand In for the team, King Shark. He’s funny, kinda sad, and he has his moments, but the best moment is when he tears a soldier in half and it’s shot so damn well, and it’s an awesome moment, but it distances me from the character because he’s suddenly less real. I know, less real than the less talkative walking tree character from the other comic book universe, I get it, I’m an idiot. Here’s a gif of the King Shark moment so you can enjoy it at the surface level I also enjoyed it at [CW, it’s gory af];
Be one of the good guys, because there's way too many of the bad.
POST CREDITS SEQUENCE
Bought some comics at the ‘Gong.
Saw an old Marvel adaptation of this B Grade flick from a Peter [JAWS] Benchley novel. It’s a one-shot, so I had to have it, and the opening splash sold me:
Adapted by Doug Moench and Carmine Infantino - that’s a good team, and while the source material only gets as good as it gets, there are some beautiful moments on the page.
I also found a Daredevil issue I’ve been looking for for years, and it was only $4.
This one is by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli [and others] and is the issue right before they begin their titanic BORN AGAIN storyline. It’s a single issue story centred around the Gladiator, and it’s okay, but it does have one of my favourite Miller tropes - the ver establishing shot panels!
Always a joy finding comics and just enjoying them deep in your heart. Things of beauty and joy and inspiration.