Creative Momentum

Creative Momentum

This post is part of a weekly update I will be making consistently available to my patrons on Patreon. I will still post some updates here to my blog from time to time, but will most likely be focusing on the flash fictions and short stories predominantly. If you want to see what I’ve been working on lately, check out my Patreon page at http://www.Patreon.com/NicholasEskey.

One positive thing can be said about forcing yourself to work; it creates momentum.

It’s not the same as forcing yourself out of bed and on your way to the typical 9-5 job; not to me, anyway. With writing, the eventual temporary curse is doubt. Doubt of your work’s value, doubt that you can write anything good again, doubt that it all matters. Consistently writing, namely creative writing, builds a momentum that propels you forward, often breaking the brick walls of doubt and writer’s block that seemingly jump onto the tracks. An eventual and wonderful side-effect of this momentum is walking up, eager to jump back behind the keyboard and get back to creating. Fuck doubt.

The best I can equate it to is the same kind of high gym rats get after a good workout session. The first few workouts, or probably more accurately the first few dozen, will feel like Hell, leaving one drained and asking themselves: Why did I want to do this again? But then, it gets better.

I’m quite happy with the momentum that I’ve built this week. It allowed me to get up first thing yesterday morning and get straight to work on a flash fiction idea that had been eating at me for a couple days, after which I then went right back to working on my novel. Momentum makes you hungry for more.

The flash fiction I wrote is called When You Don’t Learn. It’s a sci-fi work that plays with feelings of isolation and disconnectedness. Flash fiction works for this type of story, as the cap on words already makes the story a microcosm compared to short stories. It’ll post both on my blog (Typesetboogaloo.com) and Patreon page (Patreon.com/NicholasEskey).

As for my novel, My Personable Demon, I’m still reworking the very first chapter. Subsequent re-readings always come up with more “flaws” that I need to address before I am thoroughly satisfied and can move on. It’s true that the real work comes in the editing process.

Otherwise, I’ve also been investing a sizeable amount of energy into the YouTube channel my friends and I created; Call of the Nerd. Overall, it’s a silly labor, but still fun all the while. As of right now, it has us playing video games and capturing our reactions. I hope to someday soon get into producing skits. For now, I do all the editing and posting of the videos on Call of the Nerd, so I’ve felt pulled every which way this week with work. Yet again, it’s wonderful as it has both given me a break from writing, while still feeding my creative momentum.

The weekend will really be the test of whether I can keep this movement going. Lend your well wishes in that I still can propel forward with the speed of a flying spaghetti monster. Don’t give way to doubt. Fuck it.

INTERVIEW: NSFW and Spoilers – Eisner Nominated Jason Shiga Talks About “Demon”

INTERVIEW: NSFW and Spoilers – Eisner Nominated Jason Shiga Talks About “Demon”

DEMONvol1RGBHilarious in execution, serious in subject matter, irreverent to human life, and an homage to various science fiction tropes; This only scratches the surface of what comprises Demon. Broken up into four books, this lengthy comic by writer and artist Jason Shiga and published by First Second touches on everything from scientific imaginings to questions of morality, all with a pinch of “Quentin Tarantino-esque” violence. The violent work that is Demon has been nominated for an Eisner award at next week’s San Diego Comic-Con. In a recent interview with Jason Shiga, who just last year moved from the states to France, I couldn’t hold back my plethora of questions regarding his work. Warning for all you readers, mature subject matter and spoilers ahead!

I just binged on all four of the Demon books. My first thought after my brain finished processing what I had just read were, “…Wow…”, followed by, “How did the author get anyone to publish this comic-insanity?” I guess my first real question is, what was it like, this journey from conception, to comic, to book?

Shiga: I assumed out of the gate that Demon would likely never be published. But instead of trying to make it “more-friendly” to publishers, I wanted to double down and make something even more unpublishable in both form and content. This includes varying issue sizes, from 4 pages to 60 pages, having an all-black issue and of course the depraved content which we’ll talk about later. The plan was that I’d release it as a series of self-printed minicomics over the course of 2 years, then call it a day.

How long did it take until all four books were finally out?

Shiga: It took 5 years all together to write pencil and draw but I don’t like keeping folks waiting for too long. I always think about that time between Eightball 19 and 20 when that bullet was just floating in the air for a year. The minicomics were monthly over a two-year period. The First Second collections come out every 4 months so it’s literally just a year to get all 4 volumes.

How did it come about that First Second would publish Demon? Did they have specific stipulations regarding the comic?

Shiga: None! Everyone at First Second was eager to follow me down this dark path. It’s still hard for me to believe that Demon is being put out by the publishers of Zita Space Girl. But it happened.

Jason.Shiga
Jason Shiga: Artist and Author of “Demon”

In what was basically the forward of the first book, you warned readers of the craziness that they would soon find. What was your motivation for the insane amounts of bloodshed and dark humor, sprinkled with “cum-knives” and camel sex.

Shiga: I like to think it isn’t all just shock for shock sake. I really did want to suggest a serious a philosophical theory about what makes for a meaningful life. It just so happened that I felt the hedonic treadmill was best represented visually by camel sex.

Did you find yourself going nearly as crazy as your main character during this project?

Shiga: I don’t think Jimmy is crazy in the story. I think everything he does is based on bedrock priors followed by airtight logical deductions. Even the cum knife.

I would really love to know what some of your influences have been, on this project and your other work.

Shiga: I’m a bit of a pop culture junkie, especially when it comes to sci-fi paperbacks. The observant reader will notice everything from Rudy Rucker to HF Saint’s “Memoirs of an Invisible Man” worked its way into the story. Of course, in terms of comics the biggest influence would be Death Note.

The art style definitely helped to remind that none of the book was to be taken seriously. Was it a choice made particularly for the comic or just your style in general?

Shiga: I’d like to say it was intentional, but that’s just the way I draw.

Last year you moved to France. How has the transition been for you and your family?

Shiga: It’s been wonderful! I was invited by the “Maison Des Auteurs” for a yearlong residency to work on whatever I wanted with complete freedom!!! It was very liberating to just forget about what publishers or even readers would want and work on a complete moonshot comic. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.

What prompted you to write about issues like suicide, mass homicide, demon possession, and mathematics?

Shiga: Well they say write what you know.
What reactions have you gotten over Demon?

Shiga: I’ve been abroad for the year so I’ve really only talked with my French readers. If France is any indication though, I think the reaction has been good so far.

How does it feel to be nominated for an Eisner Award at San Diego Comic-Con?

Shiga: It’s a great honor! I’m sad I won’t be able to attend the awards this year mostly because I would have loved to meet the other cartoonists in my category such as Charles Burns, Dame Darcey, Dylan Horrocks and Tom Hart who were some of my biggest influences when I was starting out.

What can you possible do next to top Demon?

Shiga: I’m working on a 600-page interactive comic with an automated memory system that unfolds into a cube.

Any regrets over things you wished you included or didn’t include in the comic?

Shiga: I wish there was some way to include all the crazy letters pages from the mini comics (like the one from a guy who said he tried to create his own cum knife but it didn’t work), but I guess that’s part of the ephemeral beauty of reading the story in minicomic form.

It’s too bad you weren’t able to attend Comic-Con this year, but good luck at the Eisners!

Shiga: Thanks! I’m returning to the States July 23, literally the final day of Comic-Con! Rotten timing but happy to have the extra time in France.

 

SDCC ’17: This Year’s Exclusive Collectibles and Merchandise to Watch Out For

SDCC ’17: This Year’s Exclusive Collectibles and Merchandise to Watch Out For

Forget about all that there is to see at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, what about all that there is to buy? Prepare to shout at unsuspecting vendors “Shut up and take my money” (which The Beat doesn’t condone) after you see some of these standouts among the piles of convention exclusives.

Rick
Gold Variant Rick Figure

Just about everyone is still foaming at the mouth over Rick and Morty, who are returning to the airwaves with fresh content soon. Marking season 3’s July 30th premiere, Loot Crate will be a releasing a gold variant Rick and Morty figure, exclusively manufactured for them. You won’t have to worry about getting this golden “bad-grandpa” with purchase of a crate, selling for $20 by itself, but make sure you visit the Loot Crate booth at #3635 as supplies will be limited.

X-Men
POP! Marvel: Wolverine – X-23

Toys-R-Us, the company that had us as kids collectively telling ourselves “I’m a Toys-R-Us kid”, will feature a full-list of convention exclusives available at the Entertainment Earth booth, #2343. Of them, this Funko Pop! vinyl of the “X-23”, stands out as a must for collectors. The cloned daughter of X-Men’s Wolverine comes garbed in his classic yellow and blue jumpsuit, reminiscent of the classic 90’s cartoon.

Optimus Prime
Transformers Masterpiece Optimus Prime

Yet another must have collectible from Toys-R-Us and Entertainment Earth will be the Transformers “Masterpiece Optimus Prime.” It’s a MP10 variant, taking its color from the original Transformers: Generation 1 animated series, that any Transformers enthusiast would love to call their own. Produced by Hasbro, this highly detailed figure comes with poseable fingers, stands at 9.5 inches in robot mode, transformers to truck mode in 24 steps, and comes with accessories such as: Orange Energy Axe, Spike Witwicky figure, Ion Blaster Rifle, Roller Unit, trailer that converts into a battle station and repair bay, and a mostly die cast Matrix of Leadership with a gem-like center that can be carried in the Optimus’ chest.

It wouldn’t be a collectibles list if the Funko booth weren’t on it. Before I get into some of my favorite Funko exclusives for this year’s SCDD, I must warn all you eager buyers that they will be handling the sales of their product differently this year. All who wish to purchase at their booth must line up first thing in the morning at the “Badged Member entry line,” attendee and professional badges allowed only, to enter in a raffle for a CHANCE to get one (1) wrist band per person that gives permission to purchase for that day. The line might even start as early as 6 AM! If you’re still with me here, then continue reading.

Starwars
POP! Star Wars: Holographic Princess Leia & R2-D2

Star Wars is definitely dominating the collectibles sales for San Diego Comic-Con this year. A throw-back to the original movie, or fourth for some of you, this double-pack “POP! Star Wars: Holographic Princess Leia & R2-D2” will be an awesome purchase. It also is a wonderful nod to Carrie Fisher, who will have a tribute panel in her honor at this year’s convention as well.

Joke Batman
POP! Movies: Suicide Squad – Joker Batman

What do you get when you put Jared Leto’s Jocker into a blender with Batman? You get “POP! Movies: Suicide Squad – Joker Batman” of course! This POP! character uses the standard Batman design, covered in variant green and purple colors, complete with graffiti and the Joker’s iconic smile.

Blue Batman
POP! Heroes: Blue Chrome Batman (Toy Tokyo)

As we can’t get enough of variant colors and anything shiny, this “POP! Heroes: Blue Chrome Batman (Toy Tokyo)” will have you feeling like you’ve just pimped out your car. Instead, it was Funko that pimped out Batman. Why they didn’t have this look in the WONDERFUL Batman & Robin movie, we will never know.

Megazord
POP! Power Rangers – 6” Megazord

Undoubtedly one of the most wanted POP! figures at Comic-Con this year is this “POP! Power Rangers – 6” Megazord.” This “6-inch Supersized POP” figure is the original Power Rangers’ season 1 megazord, the one that was stuck prominently in our minds as kids and has followed us into adulthood. The oversized POP head isn’t to scale of course, but it oddly works. Whether you’re a Power Rangers fan, POP fan or just a collector, this is the one to look out for this year.

Twin Peaks
POP! Television: Twin Peaks – Black Lodge Cooper and Laura 2-pack

Lastly for my Funko highlights, I offer up this “POP! Television: Twin Peaks – Black Lodge Cooper and Laura 2-pack.” More as a reference to the end of the original series instead of the returned version of Twin Peaks, this couple deliver in nostalgia, chills, and of course confusing storyline.

Powdered Toast Man
Kidrobot Exclusive Powdered Toast Man, ‘Wheat’ Edition

 

The return of iconic 90’s cartoon shows such as Rocko’s Modern Life and Hey Arnold! in movie form is but a testament to how those who were kids in that era had it made. Those same shows that filled our Saturday mornings or school day evenings forever live in our minds to this day. For some of us, they also live on our collector’s shelves. Nickelodeon, the network that collectively controlled our watching habits at one point is banking on this. An example is this “Kidrobot Exclusive Powdered Toast Man, ‘Wheat’ Edition,” originating from the outrageous animation that was The Ren & Stimpy Show. Standing at 8” tall, this super hero that is both man and toast is priced at $50 and located at the Nickelodeon booth #4113.

Avatar Aang
Zwyer Exclusive Avatar Aang Chibified Character

As we will never get enough of the original Avatar series, Nickelodeon will be offering this “Zwyer Exclusive Avatar Aang Chibified Character” in ultra-retro “Sephia” tone, a means to pay homage to past SDCC exclusive Avatar prints. This little guy will cost you $25.

Hey Arnold
Just Play Hey Arnold! Bean Plush Friends

If you’re going to be one of those to see the Hey Arnold! movie, then you’ll for sure want to snag these plushies of Arnold, Gerald and Helga. The “Just Play Hey Arnold! Bean Plush Friends” can also be found at the Nickelodeon booth, priced at $10 per plush.

God Woke
Stan Lee’s God Woke Signature Edition Graphic Novel

Toys are not the only merchandise to look out for at Comic-Con. Factory Entertainment is currently taking pre-orders of it’s Comic-Con exclusive “Stan Lee’s God Woke Signature Edition Graphic Novel.” The 120-page full color book is hand signed by Fabian Nicieza, Mariano Nicieza, John Herbert, and of course Stan Lee. The book follows both humanity’s and God’s search for meaning, all of which told using insightful understanding of character that was synonymous with the “Silver Age” of comics. Of the 100 limited copies that don’t get sold during the convention, they will be available for purchase at FactoryEnt.com.

It’s impossible to list all the exclusives that San Diego Comic-Con has to offer. That said, be sure to check out the official Comic-Con.org website for a list of all the vendors and highlighted merchandise, and stay tuned to The Beat’s Twitter and Instagram feeds as we’ll be posting live from the convention and sales floor.

 

Even Small Escapes Can Fuel Creative Dreams

It’s not often these days that I get a chance to say “Adios, muchacho!” to what I see as humdrum. Not often that I can leave my “yes sirs” or “no ma’ams” at the door and dress myself in my “that’s so cools” and “what the fucks.” Not often that I can leave my work uniform, my “monkey suit”, in the darkness of the closet, imagining that it will randomly obtain consciousness if I were to let it stay there for too long.

Life is funny in that we are told to enjoy it to the last, but yet we often have to do unenjoyable things in order to keep that life going. To the next person in retail or customer service who tells me with an earnest smile that they “love what they do,” I’ll love the Hell out of their face with my fist.

Perhaps I’m just being too impatient. I’ll graduate someday and then pursue my writing fully. It is hard though to find time now for my own personal writing when I not only have to keep a full-time job, not to mention having to read hundreds of pages a week for my English class and cram my head with French vocabulary to fulfill my required language credits. The prospects of getting my Bachelor’s next summer seems like an eternity away. At least I’m doing my best to keep my writing skills somewhat sharp with the reporting I do for The Beat (a comic and popular media news blog I contribute to).

That blog is actually why I was able to get away recently and immerse myself in the nerd culture of WonderCon, a convention run by the same people behind the well-known San Diego Comic-Con. I had a fantastic time; Walking the sales floor, reviewing and writing up panels for the blog, forgetting that I live on a budget and buying more books than that of my monthly food allowance. Life’s pressures seemed temporarily lessened. It wasn’t that I felt liberated by “acting a dork,” but more instead had the honor of mingling with other like-minded people and was able to “ride-the-wave” of this same “like-mindedness.” Others who enjoy comics, reading, collecting. I loved strolling the rows of “artists alley” and seeing all the art that was created with painstaking care (though I felt guilty that I couldn’t help everyone of them out with a purchase).

The highlight was when I had the surprise and delight of running into someone that I knew, though to be honest I knew quite a few people there. It was unexpected none-the-less. He and I used to teach martial arts in the same organization and always saw each other at tournaments. A very fit individual and my same age, he was there promoting his third fantasy book. I didn’t even know he was a fellow writer! We talked of his works, the series that was projected to be nine-books total, and of my works, the three rough-drafts of different novels that I hadn’t yet the courage to reread and edit. Of course, I had to support him and buy his three books (there went more food money). I was excited for him. He was living the dream, the writer dream that I wanted. My excitement wasn’t just for him though; This encounter rekindled my “writing-fire.” The old adage is still ringing in my head as I write this entry: “If he can do it, so can I!”

We exchanged information (I really wish I hadn’t forgotten my business cards at home) and promised to talk later. I even got his editor’s contact information, who was also there, and promised I’d contact her when at least one of my drafts was worthy to be seen by strangers.

Of course, I had to eventually come home and liberate my waiting suit from the closet. “I knew you’d be back,” I could almost hear the sentient garment say. Yeah, it’ll be a while still before I can just hang it up for good, where in its new sentience its thoughts will eventually drift onto greater-philosophical imaginings. Someday, that door won’t open again, and then you’ll have all the time in the world, buddy. “Will I dream?”, it will say from some raggedy seem, but no one will hear. Just the dark.

But of course, that’s some time away still. Regardless of that fact, my brief escape from the atmosphere was nice. You really can’t tell when something can give a nice jolt to your creative dreams; you just need to give it a chance.

 

REVIEW: With Only 5 Issues, Is it Already the End for Deadpool the Duck?

REVIEW: With Only 5 Issues, Is it Already the End for Deadpool the Duck?

DPTD1When comic creators decide on doing a crossover, it’s pretty much guaranteed that shenanigans will ensue. When Marvel deemed that Deadpool and Howard the Duck should “join forces,” they might have taken that a little too literally.

Writer Stewart Moore and artist Jacopo Camagni have done a wonderful job in steering us down this Alice in Wonderlandish rabbit hole called a comic, where in which they filled the hole with anthropomorphic characters, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and nanobot filled barf. The idea of both Deadpool and Howard the Duck inhabiting the same body seems like a pure strike of comedic-genius, but Moore and Camagni took the zaniness a step further with the inclusion of characters like Doctor Bong (who’s been chasing the likes of Howard since 1977) and the familiar ball of “furry-fury” that is Rocket Raccoon.

The writing was a well-done marriage with the two worlds of Howard the Duck and Deadpool; The anti-hero talking waterfowl who is constantly drowning in all the crap the universe throws at him, and the anti-hero/mercenary for hire who takes all the crap that gets thrown at him and shoves it down said universe’s throat. The banter between the two characters alone, who find themselves inhabiting the same body, would have undoubtedly gotten tired and stale if it weren’t for the supporting characters that breathed fresh conflict and confusion into the over-the-top story. The fourth-wall breaks that are utterly Deadpool are all present, as well as perpetual disappointments that are purely Howard. As a fan of both characters (I was THAT kid who loved the 1986 flop that was the Howard the Duck movie FYI), I felt that every box was ticked.

Camagni’s artistry really pulls through, doing justice to nearly every Marvel character. I say “nearly” because I thought that Rocket Raccoon looked a little too “bottom-heavy” for my taste. His take on Doctor Bong is quite good as well, lending to the fact that Camagni is very use to drawing the male form. Bong should be truly flattered, as it appears that the artist gave him a little extra “padding” down there (he REALLY seems to like making men bottom-heavy). Even the coloring of Israel Silva was a proper balance of gritty mutes and shades of red. It could have been easy to mistakenly gone with the terrible color palettes that have plagued certain Howard the Duck issues in the past, but thankfully the colorist avoided that.

True, the ending was a bit anti-climatic, but I think that it’s ultimately befitting as nothing goes completely as the two anti-heroes would like. Violent, gross, and overtop are all words that describe the five-issue mini-series that is Deadpool the Duck, which means it’s creators truly nailed it. The biggest issue with this series is that it’s already over. Do I smell sequel, perhaps? Or is that just that nanobot-filled-barf again?

Coming out March 15th, find Marvel’s Deadpool the Duck at your local comic shop. Holding out for the collection? Issues 1-5 is slated to release on June 13th 2017.

REVIEW: Adam Rapp and Mike Cavallaro’s “Decelerate Blue” Speaks Truth For Today’s “Go-Go” World

REVIEW: Adam Rapp and Mike Cavallaro’s “Decelerate Blue” Speaks Truth For Today’s “Go-Go” World

decelerate-blue-coverAdam Rapp and Mike Cavallaro’s graphic novel, Decelerate Blue, published by First Second couldn’t have been released at a more opportune time. Dystopian stories are seeing a renewed rise in interest lately, of which I personally believe can be thanked to the U.S.’s current political state of affairs.  Just last month, Amazon reported a rise in sales for George Orwell’s book titled 1984. The seventy-year old novel became the website’s number one top seller for several days following President Trump’s inauguration and subsequent “alternative-facts” regarding Sean Spicer’s claims of having the “largest audience” of any other U.S. inauguration.

decelerate-blue-bw

Timing aside, Rapp and Cavallaro have produced a fine piece of fiction which can stand on its own. The story revolves around a fifteen-year old girl, Angela, struggling with the fast-paced, consumer-driven world that she has grown up in. In this futuristic world, people busy themselves with all manners of distraction: Mall trips, advertisements around every corner, constant consumerism, and even increasing their own heartrates while the government is able to move on its own with little disruption. The only real concern for the people is protecting your “Guarentee,” seemingly a status symbol that marks you as belonging in this “go-go” world. If the tradeoff is being able to live in relative comfort, most people are glad to accept the “Go Guarantee, Go” doctrine.

The opening scene shows Angela sitting down to family dinner as her parents discuss their flavorless and non-consequential day, throwing around buzz words like “hyper” and “accelerate.” As Angela expresses a dissatisfaction  with the “Megamail” and the “really hyper movies” that run around fourteen-minutes long, her parents are concerned with her dissention.

As the female protagonist finds herself eventually in an underground colony of individuals who have decided to go “off-grid,” matters take on a new shade of dire for the future. In comparison to the “fastness” of the upper-world, the underground dissenters hold dear the ideals of slowness, of meditation, of slow breathing, and of living simply; everything that the “Guarantee Committee” speaks out against.

blue-decelerate-kiss

At first, the art style and dialogue of the graphic novel threw me off. The simple black-and-white drawings with little detailing looked to me as lazy. Though as the story unfolded, I realized that the art was rather intentional. The fast-paced future in Rapp’s story prided itself with being succinct and efficient. Citizens were instructed to keep their sentences short and to the point, encouraging the use of contractions such as “can’t” instead of the slightly longer “cannot”, and avoiding as much as possible the use of adverbs. The art reflects this “to the point” attitude, being as efficient as it can to tell the story. There are panels where we are shown Cavallaro’s real artistic prowess, displaying the full range of emotions and thoughts that the main character is slowly awakening to. The writing was the same way as I had difficulty with how each sentence of dialogue ended with the word “Go,” of which I soon realized was intentional; another sign of how the Guarantee Committee was controlling the way citizens spoke, urging people to “use their Goes.” Luckily, we the reader get a reprieve from our “goes.”

What cuts truly deep about this story is that this where our society seems to be heading to now. We may not have chips imbedded in our arms, but we have cellphones that we check on average eighty-times a day. What’s to say we won’t be use to the idea of getting a tiny chip installed if it’s advertised as “timesavers” and “effortless.” There is always some product that some company is insisting we can’t live without and in turn always some technological device that we ourselves feel we could do better for if we had. This graphic novel truly is an important read, especially to that of our current generation of young adults who hardly know anything less that “instantaneous.” This is a great reminder that there are benefits to just sitting down, smelling the flowers, and perhaps taking the time in a world where there seems to be no time whatsoever to perhaps read a book.

decelerate-blue-full-color

Check out Decelerate Blue at your local bookstore or online. While you’re at it, check out the rest of First Second’s library of great reads at their website, www.firstsecondbooks.com