Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I'm Not a Monster, It's Only a Mask

That was a long month.

So, I've been spending quite a bit of time in my head/physical notebook this past month. I wrote ~240 pages in the ol' Moleskine to make a first draft of a novel I've been working on for years. Honestly, it doesn't process. I hold the thing in my hands and it barely seems real.

I know there's a lot of work to be done on The Big Game Hunter Volume 20: The Goblins in our Shadows. I've got a fair idea of quite a few changes to be made. And a bunch of stuff to add. There are quite a few big questions to be asked about the overall structure; some hypothetical logic issues may need to be addressed, as well.

But it's a start.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Critical Incision

So I had the idea a few weeks back to exercise my brain a little (while I'm not writing Valbrook [since Drew's animating the shorts]). The plan became to write a series of short, live-action skits connected by a few characters. The hook was that they'd be based (kinda loosely) on my favorite short stories; I was going to find the common threads between the stories. I'd also find the common character types and link them (preferably so the same actors could appear in the series playing the same characters).

Ultimately, I didn't go through with it because the stories I wanted to use weren't in the public domain. Since I didn't really have anybody in mind who might like to do this series, I figured it probably wasn't worth the potential legal hassle. I mean, the shorts are more transformative works than they are adaptations, but I'd still have a little trouble justifying that to myself.

I told you that story to tell you this story: the first one I had in mind was based on "The King of the Cats" by Stephen Vincent Benét (of "The Devil and Daniel Webster" fame). I first read it in ninth grade and it made a little impact on me. When I read it now, I can see the faults--but it's still a clever, weird story. I was almost not going to write this short, but I decided that since I'd gotten the elements together, I might as well follow through. So here's the first (and probably final) draft to my transformation of the original:

Cats and Kings

When I write shorts and skits like this, I always think in terms of beats and rhythm. It's something Drew and I can communicate in terms of, since it's a language of emotional waves and audio-visual action. When you read a short story, on the other hand, everything happens one after the other. The only way to break the action and separate the emotion is to insert a break. Paragraphs work to a certain degree, but the rhythm is harder to control because the reader can read as fast as he or she damn well pleases.

Beats! It's all in the beats. Virtually every Valbrook short is divided into five beats. The first is the narrator setting the pieces, the next three are the character setup, joke, and punchline, then the final is the narrator tying everything up with the town as a whole. I mean, that's the ideal and that's what we think in terms of, and sometimes we don't hit those exact notes.

For "Cats and Kings", I wanted something similar time-wise because I was shooting for summing up the short stories in feeling in just a few minutes. I measure most of the time in terms of cuts--and I tried to establish a rhythm based on that:

1. (Pieces Set): Intro scene (pretty simple stuff, with the twist being that TIBAULT has a tail)
2. (Character Setup): "Magic Cat" and "Professor" scenes (only four lines in the first, which segues into explaining PRINCESS)
3. (Joke, or in this case, Conflict): "Cast a Spell" scene (shows that PRINCESS loves TIBAULT because he offers something TOMMY can't give her)
4. (Punchline, or in this case, Climax): "True Names" and "Port of Departure" scenes (shows that TOMMY will do anything to get PRINCESS, including use what he doesn't respect to destroy the magic in the world)
5. (Tying Up): The end of "Port of Departure" and the credits (all alone, TOMMY has lost the person he loved...but he didn't really deserve her anyways, eh?)

I also put in a bonus scene with the Professor because I thought it was a fun option.

So, what did I do wrong in this? What could've gone differently?

Well, for starters--I made a decision while writing not to have a flashback scene with Tibault. I thought about a scene showing how self-absorbed and enamored of Princess he was, but I felt it was unnecessary and didn't speak to the themes. In the original, Tibault is spoken of, but rarely speaks. I figured it was best to keep him as much of a mystery as possible.

I'm not sure how clear the last scenes are, from "True Names" until the end. And the way the Princess disappears isn't very clear, either. My idea would be to have a scene with another cat appearing along side Tibault when he transforms; that would probably make the magic tie up nicely. But Tommy's really the main character--so maybe I didn't make that clear enough?

Anyhow, I've probably gone on too long. I hope anybody who reads this gets something out of it!

Bonus Time: A MIDI version of Iphigénie en Aulide

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Who I Am and What I Do 8.29.12

My name is Michael Griffin. Graduating from Georgia Southern University with a B.A. in Creative Writing, I now write animation, short films and short stories. I'm working on a novel, BIG GAME HUNTER VOL. 20: THE GOBLINS FROM HOPKINSVILLE, and a collection of short stories, EVERYONE YOU HAVE EVER LOVED HAS DIED IN YOUR ARMS IN ANOTHER DIMENSION.

My animation work includes VALBROOK, a series about the weird and funny world of the Southern United States. I co-created it with Thomas Andrew Lawson, whom I worked with on Nintendo parody cartoons as Tanooki-Kuribo Productions. Those videos, along with the popular MARIO'S DAY OFF series, have reached over five million views on YouTube.

I also edited the fan motion-comic THE DEATH OF SPIDER-MAN made by Arrival Point Productions, adapted from the Marvel comics by Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley (among others).

You can reach me at michaelsgriffin@gmail.com or captainradd@gmail.com if this is the only moniker you want to remember.

If you are from Marvel Comics, I'd love to pitch my take on Rocket Raccoon. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Comix Report 2/29/12

Ah--hello, there. It's been almooooost a couple months, yes? Unfortunately, I've not kept up with reviews, but the reason for that is simple: not much in comix is doin' it for me.

I mean, Defenders is lovely, just lovely. And Iron Man is working hard. And Amazing Spider-Man. And Ultimate Spider-Man. But they're not setting me afire at this particular moment. So I'm not inclined to tell you yet again why Justice League is disappointing and frustrating to me. Or why Secret Six needs to come back.

That said, I think I will report back next week, as that's CASANOVA DAYYYYYYYYYY oh wait oh shit that's not a 2 that's a 3?

Okay, so maybe I'll see you on 3/28 at least to tell you how exceptional the next Casanova is.


That said, I am working on my own comics project, Sinners. More on that at some point.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Comix Report 1/4: Double Size Edition!

Okay okay okay so because I didn't get last week's comix until late (Diamond took a day off for Christmas), I'm doing a little double-dip with the comix I picked up today. So, starting with:

Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation
I'm a fan of Witch Doctor, and I'm a little pleased to say I've been there more or less since the beginning (I read the original b&w comic they prototyped a couple years ago online--I think through Warren Ellis's website?). The creators are doing something very smart and very dense, and they work very well together. Vincent Morrow is a fascinating character and his support members add the perfect balance of light and dark to the story. I'm so happy to see these guys grow in their storytelling ability because the only faults I see are the parts where the storytelling is unclear or they slip out of voice or form (momentarily, mind you!). 
In any case, this Sherlock Holmes meets House, M.D. meets Lovecraft story is great--if only for the titular Dr. Vincent Morrow, whose willingness to believe anything is offset by his complete unwillingness to take anything at face value. This story, involving his encounter with a magical pathologist (aka a necromancer) is a nice done-in-one and I eagerly await the beginning of the next series!

Kick-Ass 2 #6
I haven't been thrilled with Kick-Ass recently, mostly because it seemed to have adopted a nihilistic attitude regarding its characters. I think its attempts at realism have been pretty depressing more than anything, but this issue brings Hit-Girl back in--and frankly, she's the star of the show anyways, because she's the one that gives Kick-Ass the ability to fight his enemies. Kick-Ass's power is basically not doing until Hit-Girl shows up. As sad and painful as the previous issues were, I am looking forward to the next one, where I'm sure Hit-Girl is going to annihilate Mother Russia.
Mostly, I just want more Nemesis from Mark Millar. 

Annihilators Earthfall #4
The only reason I pick up Annihilators is because of Rocket Raccoon. So maybe I should only review the last part of this book?
It's fun stuff, but I just want to say that I need more Rocket Raccoon. Real stuff. I mean, he's a prime character! Look at that guy! He was in Marvel vs. Capcom 3! He's gonna be in the Avengers cartoon!

The Ultimates #5
This book is interesting, though there's something about Hickman books that makes them difficult to get into. FF, Secret Warriors, Ultimate Hawkeye--I don't know why, but I just can't sustain myself on them. It's a little frustrating, because I want to like them--I like his cold science aesthetic, but there's something very dry about the books that I can't latch onto. Though I am probably going to stick around on this book for a while, because I'm digging a real gameplan in the Ultimate U. But I'm just gonna touch on a couple characters.
Once again, we get a little bit of Ultimate Spider-Woman, but barely any characterization. I know it's hard to give everyone the same amount of time, but here we are.
Now the stuff with the Falcon is what I like. I really, really dug the Falcon in Ultimate Extinction. He was an intelligent gentleman with a worldview that made him an excellent contemporary counterpart to Captain America. It's nice to see this great character picked up again, and he really hits the ground running this time. Hickman nailed his voice, too, which is nice. Looking forward to having him on a real book again.

Aaaaaaaand 1/4!

Defenders #2
Aaah, well, you know I already love this book. So I'm just going to take some time and read this again. I'm gonna get more Hop Czar beer and tell you all about it.
Like I said last time (I think) this book has two distinct flavors (Fraction and Dodson) that are not competing, which means they're working together in such a lovely way. Dodson's animal-human hybrids are fascinating (especially the long-necked snake-dude), the Concordance Engine bristles with activity and each character has a distinct set of expressions perfect for them. But I'm more of a writer, so that's what I'm in for.
The narrator is a little more epic this time, spinning grand stories of combat and letting us into the minds of the characters. But it's also a clever way to time out the action and the beats on each page; similarly, it works with the other captions and word balloons set up reversal gags that make the whole story fun to read. And yeah, the bottom-of-the-page captions are still great: "Story interrupted previous page", "Why are there so many bite wounds in her E.R.? The answer will surprise WEREWOLF BY NIGHT NURSE!", and my personal favorite (after a one-page Marvel ad) "THAT WAS A GOOD AD".
And hey, the story is moving briskly as we find out that the Black Hulk is after the frickin' Heart of the Universe. So that's cool, too. Still and always looking forward to this book.

The Goon #37
I got into The Goon earlier this year, and I was not disappointed by it--it has an ability to transition seamlessly from comedy to horror to noir, often in a single issue. This issue sees the return of the EC-style comics with a story of a factory burned down with its workers trapped inside. Of course, being The Goon, it means magic and mobsters are going to be involved and somebody's going to get their comeuppance. Actually chilling with that dose of absurdism the series is famous for.
Sidenote thought--The Goon is actually pretty close to Top Ten in how it sets itself up. They both have a strong deadpan tone where the characters rarely laugh at themselves (except for Franky, of course), so it allows them to move easily between silliness and seriousness. 

I was gonna review Fatale #1, but I think I need to read it a few more times. I am digging the tone, though--I liked Criminal by Brubaker and Phillips, I just didn't follow through on subsequent story arcs. So I'm getting in on it this time, I think!

Everyone you love dies,