Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Overwhelming Friendship...Thank Yous all around.

Well, we're two weeks after the release of Issue #1 and the response has been overwhelming.

The box is almost empty.  You guys did that.
By my calculations we've sold somewhere close to 30 issues!  Thank you everyone for all your support.  It's kind of crazy.  This idea that started as a class assignment for Evan at the Kubert school has spun into 10 issues of a story we're now in the thick of.

Evan's got inks done for Issue #2's preview pages for the release party.  Speaking of, it's gonna be:

When: Saturday, March 30th, 8-11pm
Where: Project Gallery
            1553 N. Caheunga Blvd.
            Los Angeles, CA 90028

We're gonna have drinks there...I think?  I don't know.  The things I KNOW we'll have there are issues of #1, and preview inks for Issue #2 up for your viewing pleasure.  We'll be there after a day at WonderCon so good times and reverie for all!

So, what I wanna do is take the time to thank EVERYONE we know whose supported us in this endeavour.  Evan probably has some add-ons and I'll let him do that, but this is what I've got so far:

Our Families-  Donna, Pat, Ken, Sue, Yoly, Hugo, Grandma, Grandma, Grammy, Mimi, Megan, Pauli, Karla, Julia, Andy, Jack, Larry, Julie and every ounce of extended family whose cared for us, given us food, lent us a hand, or told us we weren't crazy.

Our Friends- Ben, Carolyn (Cara), Joey, Janelle, Louis, Luis, Matt (several, actually), Brett, Frank, Cynthia, Kelly, Kevin (Kian), Molly, James, Miles, Justin, Neil, Jon, Nicole, Andy, Chris, Scott, Geof, Jake, Rob, Casey, Kaleigh, Ryan, Diana, Dusty, Erica, LindsEy, Matt, Kyle, Noah, Melody, Zach, Simon, Julia, Joe, Manny, Wes, Sam, Aaron, Veronica, Tim, Ben, Liz, James, Craig, Jen, Matt, David, Lauren, Jeff, Zach, Whitney, Ward, Thomas, Tanya, Steve, Stefan, Stacey, Preston, Shanna, Gina, Megan, Darrell, Sarah, Ed(gar), Ryan, Nick, Mario, Kristiana, Michael, Kelly (again...several), Julie, LindsAy, Jason, Jeramey, Joe,  Kevin, Hector, Gayle, Billy, Chad, Chris, Chris...that's close...there will be more later.  Unsure.  If I missed you, consider yourself thanked.  I, We, Love you.

Now some personal thanks, things I gotta say to some people in particular:

To the graduating class of Aurora High School 2005- You have no idea how much you've helped me.  Thanks in advance, because by the end, you might hate me.

Mr. Norton- You are still one of the best teachers I've ever had.  I wish I had better ways to honor you than a comic book cameo, and you have students who have gone on to do WAYYYY better things...but you had a huge impact on me as a kid and this is all I got, so thanks for everything.

Neil Kendricks- You're the only writing teacher I've ever had that didn't massacre story for sake of format.  Thanks for letting me do whatever the hell it is I do, and telling me to keep going, because quite frankly, if I hadn't taken your screenwriting workshop class after failing to get into the film program my first try...I probably wouldn't be doing what I do now.  The world needs, no, REQUIRES more teachers like you, sir.

The Kubert School- I was never a student, but Evan was.  Thanks for requiring Evan to draw someone's else's script.  Probably the best idea I ever had.

Aurora High School (Aurora, OH)- Thanks for the geography of boredom!  It means I have to write better stories.  In truth, the experience I had my 8 years of living in Aurora, and my four years at AHS have pretty much shaped everything that "Youth" is about...save for superpowers.

Ryan Schumaker- I can't wait for everyone to realize you're Jim.  Thanks for helping us with this.

Louis Kastelic- You're not as tall or lurpy as ours...but the name is with you in mind.  I hope you like being in comic books.  You're a great guy.  Thanks for being that and I hope you like what happens in "Youth".

Guys and Girls who were dicks to me in high school and now are going to wind up in this comic book- God, I bet you wish you had been shitty to a physicist now, right?!  Kidding...water under the bridge.  Sorry for being a dick too!  It would be hilarious if I was vindictive like that.

Jeph Loeb- Thank god for you including that alternate scene.  I'd have been lost without it.

Robert Kirkman- Thanks for writing "Invincible" and making me not afraid to write extraordinary stories into ordinary life.  It's continually great, and I hope you don't mind us aspiring to be like you.

Batman- You aren't real.  But you're the reason Evan and I get along so well.

Griffey- Besides Evan, you are the only creative partnership I've trusted over the last year.  You're a great writer, an even better friend, and soon, you'll have to deal with the same rules I do!  We write movies together and that's something important in the coming months, years...you know.  Thanks for not being a jealous mormon wife with "Youth" and letting this "Big Love" continue.  "The Garden" is next...and it's going to be awesome fun.

Lastly, and more important than almost anyone above though (and yeah...this is gonna get pretty sappy, so...I don't care, live with it.)

My Wife/Best Friend/Girlfriend/Fellow Writer/Evan's Best Friend/Inspiration for most women I write, Andrea- NONE OF THIS would have happened if you hadn't had class that day and made me meet up with Ben and Evan even though I am fully terrified of strangers who know people I know, which is why I can confidently say that any success I have in my life is a direct result of knowing and being with you.  You're an amazing human being, and there's no one I trust, love or turn to more.  You're just a good person, and that is all I could ever ask of someone I'm spending the rest of my time with.  Thanks for letting me sulk, piss and moan, bitch about movies, bitch about writing, and be poor as hell.  It will all come back to you in the form of shoes (That's what you want, right?)  Truly blessed.  You introduced me to one of my best friends, and someone I'll work with forever.  Reading over this, it feels trite.  My words still fail me.

That's about all I've got.  I'm sure we've missed people...we'll get to you, trust me.  Thank yous are never complete.

Thank you for everything.  Keep buying Issue #1.  We've got a lot in store for you.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In Which We Explore Unsettling Things...Like Writing.

(Before I launch in...Thank you EVERYONE who is buying Issue #1.  Means the world to us.  We love you.  Stay tuned.)

I suppose this is only unsettling if you're me.

So, I finished my first draft of Issue #3 last night.  Late into the night, I'm typing.  I keep telling myself, "cut yourself off", and then it's 12:45am, I have to be up in 4 hours, but I have a finished working draft.

My "process" is punishing myself into working, it seems.  But it got me thinking...what is my process?  What do I do to get pages out.

I do other writing too, besides comics.  I went to film school, so I write screenplays a lot, and I'm currently figuring out what my process is for writing a TV pilot, which in my opinion, is about as hard as writing comic books.  But I'm going to dive in a little today about what it takes for me to write an issue of "Youth".  First I'll talk about formatting a little, and then I'll get into content and my basic "process".

To begin with...Comics do NOT have an accepted format, like screenplays and TV does.  There's no set way to do it, you just...do it.  For instance, Alan Moore, the god among men in the comics world...

I have read the first 10 pages of Alan Moore's script for his Batman one-shot, "The Killing Joke".  Now, I say 10 pages because that's what the THIRTY-FIVE pages of script he wrote cover, comic book-wise.  It's insane.  Look for it sometime, because it's pretty incredible.  but when I started writing comics, I knew that wasn't going to be me.  I have the patience for description...but I'm not Alan Moore.

Teasing Issue #3.  My desktop is that Teddy Bear Meme.
The format I use (which is mine as far as I know) got it's basic idea from pages I saw in my trade of the legenedary Loeb/Sale Batman story, "The Long Halloween".  Loeb kindly placed some pages at the back, showing an alternate ending to the story.  I saw this, and assumed that was the accepted format.

I went to film school...we learn that it's either "you format or you die!!!!!!!!!"

So, imagine my happiness when I found out my way of writing comics was...perfect, in a sense.  It was joyous.  We were off.

Evan, of course, doesn't care, because he's drawing it.  But there's times when he asks me about panels, and the action I've described.  Here's the tricky part about comic writing...

...you gotta pick your spots.

You pick the wrong image, and it's gonna come off wrong.  You pick the wrong movement, and people are going to be lost.  Film School has been a great stomping grounds for this issue.  In my head, it plays like a cartoon.  So I know what images I need to tell the story.  but I'm not infallible, and Evan and I are close enough where he'll say, "yeah, that needs to change."

Describing panelling can be difficult.  It's a good exercise for anyone who is married to dialogue, like I am.  Because the visual component is the most important part of comics, picking that out and putting it into a panel is going to be the most important part of your job as a writer.  Same goes for other writing...problem is with comics, you get one shot.  It's one look, and there's ways to manipulate it, but I'm as clueless as anyone is on how that works.  That's for Evan to know, and luckily, he does.

The benefit of us co-creating "Youth" is while it's my job to write the scripts and move us through that way, Evan and I worked on the story first.  We took a cue from TV shows we love, and we have a 12-page PDF file that we call the "Bible" for series 1.  It maps out everything that needs to happen in each issue, and how the events unfold.  There's things we already need to change, but that's essentially the idea of writing a bible for the series...we can change it and not look sight of anything in the larger scope because it's all right there.

And each issue is challenging in it's own way.  Issue #3 for instance, the timelines and story events for these characters happen simultaneously, so I had to, at least this first draft around, figure out how I wanted to do that.  I'm the first person to admit I have a lot of weakness as an overall storyteller, but one of my main issues is muddying timelines with too much focus on a single character.  It's a habit I have because sometimes I fall in love with one story as opposed to the others, and "Youth" is no different.  But it's all about the give and go.  I'm learning, and I hope you guys will forgive when you think it's an issue, and love us when it's not.

So my process for actually sitting and writing varies for each thing I do.  I write with a partner a lot for screenplays, and that involves a lot of pots, yes POTS, of coffee and scribbling in my notebook.  It's good to learn to work with others because when you get the chance to work with yourself, you savour it a little more.

Evan and I's sock choices.  It's telling.
For "Youth", Evan is usually working on the art on his own, and I write alone.

It's hard for me to sit down and write.  I'm the kind of person that isn't distracted, just annoyed with my ideas.  I have a fairly bad habit of "logic"-ing my way out of stories I want to tell, and that presents a problem of thinking anything I write is total garbage.  For the record...I don't.  I think I'm a competent writer, with a lot to learn.

The takeaway is the thing that sets me up as a writer in the first place:  Courage.  I have the courage to sit there and write something that not everyone is going to like, including me.  And I'm nobody, by the way.  I'm not published outside of "Youth", I've never sold a screenplay, so my words here are with a whole salt lick.  But it's my opinion that 90% of anything worth writing is having the courage to write it, and that's usually how I approach "Youth".  Evan knows what kind of a writer I am.  If I can entertain him, give him something fun to draw, then that's my goal first and foremost.  He'll tell me if it sucks.

All that being said, it helps to have a series bible to look to and say, "Oh YEAH!  That was a moment I really liked that we came up with."

What I usually do is sit at my computer, and look at the final draft document for a little while.  I type "Youth", the issue number, and then think of a title.

Listen to it again when Issue #3 comes out.
Now, this is something important...I do NOT listen to music when I work.  It distracts me (probably left over feelings from being in a band in high school) and always impedes or muddies what I'm writing.  What I do, is find a song that sets the mood for what I want to start with.

For Issue #3, for instance, I listened to Brand New's first record, "Your Favorite Weapon", which sets me up in a pretty good, "high school" head space.  I hone in on one track ("Logan to Government Center" here) and then I turn it all the way down and put it on repeat...

...and then I start writing.

It's a fairly simple process.  I've written scripts in a week before, which is probably my record.

Editing is a different thing for me.  Some people just want to get a draft done, however shitty it may be.  I usually edit as I go, so by the end I have a workable draft to send to Evan for notes.  After that, I take it back, and REALLY polish what I've got, fix a few things here or there.  This is where I pay a lot of attention to the dialogue I'm writing, because the words are so precious in the bubble.  Thank God for twitter.  It's taught me to choose my words carefully to get my point across.

So it's polished.  That is the draft I send to Evan and that's what I title an "Illustrator's Draft."  That's essentially how I do it.

Everyone is different.  Some are better, some are worse.  It doesn't matter, as long as you finish.  Finishing is the other 10% of writing for me.  Courage and Finishing.  Just get it done.  You did it.  It's yours.

That's about as much as I need to say on the subject.

WonderCon approaches.  We'll be there all days.  We're having a release party, thrown by my wife and all the details are here:


We'll have Issue #1 there for sale and a 3-page preview of Issue #2 to take a look at.

Finally, follow me on twitter @alexdandino.

See you around, friends.  Thanks for your support.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Wait is Over...Now what?

        Well, Issue #1 is out.  It's available.  It's in the known universe.  The alternate universe versions of us are already more accomplished, so I don't know or worry about them and their lives in Manhatan (Fringe reference...you're cool if you get it...it's a club.  Don't worry about it.)

          There's always a lot of hoop-la about getting something started, and Evan and I feel INCREDIBLY lucky that we were able to produce the first issue.  There's 50 copies in the world of Youth #1 right now.  That is a weird thought.  We've put something out there, from our collective conscience, to be judged by you, the audience.  It's a strange thought, to have produced something for the world at large.

My usual emotional state when I see
something I've written.
          Creating a story seems like such a selfish act for so long.  We've been in the "Youth"-iverse for so long now that we can't really tell if it's good anymore.  I have no frame of reference.  Evan texted me the other day with, "Dude...I just sat down and read Youth #1 again, like really read it...it's a good comic, man."  This is a week after printing, about a month after finishing final touches on lettering and inks.  It takes us that long to gain any kind of perspective.

           Evan's better at it than me.  I rarely can look at things once I'm done with them.  From a writing standpoint, I am never happy with what I've produced, and rarely do I look back on something and consider it the best representation of me as a writer.  I nitpick myself worse than anyone, but that's not to say I need constant assurance what I do is "good".  I know I'm a good writer...somewhere in my brain there is a neuron that fires ever so quietly that surfaces and tells me so.  Regardless, it's nice to know the other half of this creation thinks what we're doing is good.  I do too...it's just hard for me to put it in perspective.

Her name is...?
(c) Evan Peter 2013
         But hey....Issue #1 is out there in the ether.  Ready to be read.  Ready to be consumed.  Ready for anything...and Issue #2 is going right now.  Evan is putting sketching the pages, prepping them for inks.  And I'm writing Issue #3, which as I've said in my last blog, is by far my favorite issue for you guys yet.  I'm so excited about showing you guys this universe.  Oh, speaking of...you guys want an Issue #2 tease?  Real quick?  It's cool...I know you want to...on your right, friends!

You haven't met her yet...but you will.  And she's gonna be real important.

So, I'm gonna finish up by plugging my twitter feed (@alexdandino) and a couple comics you guys NEED to check out by indie peoples like Evan and Me:

(c) Joe Bowen
Model Student (http://www.modelstudentcomic.com/).  Model Student is a comic you NEED to be reading by our friends Jake Bell & Joe Bowen.  It's brilliantly plotted and they JUST started printing too.  I'm not gonna give anythign away, you just gotta check it out.  They have a web comic they've been doing but support them too and buy issue #1 at their website.  It's good stuff!

(c) Gavin Smith 2013

Human City (http://gavinpatricksmith.blogspot.com/) is a new book by our friends Gavin Smith and Orion Zangara.   Here's the basic idea:

"In a world that's been overrun by mutants, the last remaining super-hero must get a baby who may be mankind's last hope for survival across the country!"

Come on...I mean, how awesome does that sound?  It's great art, great writing...everything you need.  The link provided has the issue up for sale through PayPal too.  Go get it!

Manny Hernandez (Not a comic book, but overall...)
(c) Manny Hernandez 2013
Manny is our dear friend from the way back.  He lettered the first 5 pages of Youth #1 and he's just insanely talented.  This is one of his projects he's working on and