26 August 2005

INFO: CBC Update

The jury's still out on CBC v2.0, but some recent developments have added a couple of unexpected twists to the plot, so this is sort of an update/brain-dump for future reference when real life isn't quite so hectic.

Development #1: Out of the blue, about a month ago, Erech Overaker asked me to contribute a script to a comic anthology he's putting together, and after some initial hesitation, I figured what the hell. "Those who can, do..." sort of thing that I decided to approach as a challenge; a preemptive strike on thin-skinned creators who respond to negative reviews with variations of "have you ever created a comic?" And a challenge it was, but a fun one, and I like what I came up with. It's not [insert preferred comics benchmark here], but it's not something I'd be embarassed to have thrown back at me in response to a negative review, either.

Development #2: The recent crystallization of something I've always known: that, at best, what I and so many others are doing (online and in print) has nothing to do with "Pushing Comix Forward." Writing about comics, no matter how good and underacknowledged they may be, is the rough equivalent of talking about revolution. (Can I get an amen from the slam poetry crowd?) Aside from Wizard, which chooses to use its powers for evilto preserve the status quo, there's really no comics publication (print or online) that's in a position to push comix forward or make comics better. (Entertainment Weekly's periodic "Comics 101" column reaches more mainstream eyeballs than Wizard + NEWSarama + every single other comics-centric outlet combined.) Creators doing interesting work they truly believe in, whether as pure entertainment or high art, is what pushes comics forward. In conjunction with that, there's the savvy retailers who know how to balance the bread-and-butter output from the Big Two with the potentially audience-exanding work from independent publishers.

Development #3: In his latest [Bad Signal] missive, Warren Ellis talks about Apparat 2, the follow-up to last year's intriguing experiment where he published four (or was it 5?) separate one-shots based in settings that fell by the wayside when superheroes fully took over the comics industry so many years ago. For his not-a-sequel Apparat 2, he posits a more ambitious, and more intriguing, approach: "Done in one -- one 48pp unit, designed for permanent shelf-life in comics stores... Four Apparat novellas a year, each one different from the last, each one self-contained, but all under the same mark."

Development #4: My interview with Charlie Huston, whose unabashed passion for comics was absolutely infectious.

The combination of these four things, along with some interesting behind-the-scenes developments at Buzzscope, has me completely rethinking not just CBC, but what exactly I'm doing with my own writing, particularly w/r/t comics. CBC started as a total lark, a place to write about comics that was separate from my personal blog, and I even asked a few friends to write stuff - with wildly varied results! - the main intention being that I might glean some interesting recommendations from whatever they were reading. Things quickly steamrolled, though, as I got obsessive about posting regularly, and in order to avoid writing about the same comics over and over, I started expanding my pull list exponentially, sampling as many different comics as I could afford - and then some! When my review of Ezra was unexpectedly used in a Previews ad back in February, I started taking CBC more seriously.

Fast forward to today, and I can no longer honestly say, as I have been able to in the past, that I'm a completely objective fan with no interest in "breaking in." I've been bitten, hooked, roped in... I want to write a comic book!

More than one, actually. And not necessarily aiming for the Big Two, either. (Though I sure wouldn't turn them down for the right project!)

As much as I've been tempted recently to return to the poetry scene, I honestly think that well is dry. I said everything I wanted to say in that milieu and returning now would be like John Starks trying to suit up for the Knicks again. He's probably still got some gas left in the tank, but he'd be a shadow of his former self. But comics? That's a completely untapped vein for me that's lately been throbbing like crazy. And with the aforementioned anthology contribution giving me quite a rush, I'm already craving another hit.

So, what does all of this mean for CBC? I'm still not sure, actually. I'm pretty sure it means I won't go the ezine route that I was considering, though. Not a group version, at least. I'll likely find some middle ground, though, linking my Buzzscope stuff and doing the kind of random commentary I'd originally created the blog for.

Stay tuned.


jdonelson.nyc said...

A few thoughts, Guy:

- Simultaneously critiquing and creating anything, esp comics, is a dicey proposition. I like to think that I have one or two comic book efforts that I'd like to publish before I die, and I often wonder if publicly bad-mouthing creators and publishers like I do is such a smart idea. However, I do find that one effort can positively influence the other: crtically viewing other people's work keeps me honest about my own work, and doing stuff myself gives me a better appreciation for the level of professionalism and craftmanship that it takes to produce anything, much less anything good.

- Crises of consicence and commitment come and go (some might say they are... infinite crises! sorry). Sometimes I find it helps to take a week or a month or whatever off from the whole thing. Also, after comic-blogging for a little while, I realized that posting regularly or commenting about everything I read was way too much of a chore. if I don't have anything to say about a comic, it's OK to just let it go.

- Finally, I say who cares about pushing comics forward. Merely sharing your opinion with other comic fans is a valid goal.

Anyway I hope this pep talk helped, I'd hate to see you vanish forever. Good luck with your comic scripts!

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Oh, I'm not going away! Last month when I put this blog on hiatus, though, I was thinking I'd relaunch it as more of an ezine, something along the lines of Wizard EDGE. Now I'm thinking I want to put most of that time and energy towards creating something, instead of just talking about it. The more I kept thinking about writing a new poem, the more comic book ideas would pop in my head.

I'll most likely end up doing something similar to your blog, because I agree that "merely sharing your opinion with other comic fans is a valid goal." The loftier notion was more a knock on Comic Book Galaxy's hyperbolic tagline.

PS: On "Simultaneously critiquing and creating anything...," potential stepping on toes aside, I think it's actually an important part of developing one's own voice and style. I learned way more about creating comics over the past nine months of critiquing them than I ever did in my many years of simply enjoying them as a fan.

Thanks for the feedback!

Erech said...

heheh evil laugh.

I just asked you into the book so you could give it good reviews, sheesh man, don't you know anything?!

It's such a fine line though, that review/creator one, ain't it? I actually kinda went the other way, and did reviews after I had already been doing the creating thing. It was pointed out to me by a few comic cronies that bashing other peoples books (which I did, with no subtelty) was probably not the best thing in the world to be doing, since I was trying to get a few things published at the time. So now I think I will get other people to do it for me when I relaunch the site (whenever the hell I get the chance to actually finish that).

The reason I asked you on the book was because of your taste, and attention to detail though - from your reviews and our personal conversations. I really only hesitated as long as I did because you had voiced in the past that no interest in crossing over. Glad you did though.

Although in a few years when you're broke and desolate and hate all things sequential, you can't blame me, ok?

I dunno if there is anything per se wrong with doing comics and reviews, but the whole getting stuff thrown back in your face might be a good enough reason not to. Although I wouldn't worry too terribly about that happening with this book, if we sell more than 8 copies I will be gleefully surprised.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Although in a few years when you're broke and desolate and hate all things sequential, you can't blame me, ok?

Unless my wife leaves me for trading in one no-money-in-it passion for another, you should be free from blame. If anything, it's my friend Omar's fault for reintroducing me to comics in the first place.

As for selling 8 copies, by putting me in it, you'll double that number. It's the "letters page" approach to comics. I'm going to make all of my friends buy a copy!

SMASHER said...

Glad to see CBC back up and running. Guy, sorry for my quick exit but ever since my creative knee blew out a year or so back it's been hard road to recovery.

Keep doing what you're doing. I'm reading/routing for you.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

You better be. You're one of the eight friends I'm going to make buy the anthology! ;-)

PS: I still owe you an email about some other stuff. It's coming. I swear!