Friday, March 25, 2022

Same story, different medium


Page 3 from "The Unexpected, Uninvited, Unwanted Guest" with inks from Monica Gallagher

At least one term of "independent study" is required as part of my Master's program. You must arrange a faculty advisor, propose a syllabus and action plan. Many people use this as an opportunity to research or prepare for their thesis project. I deliberately did the opposite.
Looking to get the most out of my experience (learn more, do more), I created a course "Same story, different medium" which focused on--in simplest terms--adaptations. But not adaptations in the sense of "here's a movie, and here it is adapted into a comic book." But here's a story, and here's how it's told as a movie, and here's how it's told as a comic book. It's an important nuance. 
The idea came to me during my playwriting class reading Susan Glaspell's one act play Trifles. After the success of the play, she rewrote it as a short story "A Jury of Her Peers." While reading the play, I recognized it as an episode from Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It was really interesting to me how each version took advantage of its medium, and away we went.
In addition to reading and watching many stories written in different mediums, I worked on a creative project in three forms: a comic short, a teleplay, and a short story. In each case, I tried my best to work from my root planning documents rather the completed versions (not always easy!). I wrote the comic short first (so I could draw it), then wrote the teleplay, then the short story. The first two were solid, the last the weakest... not only is it my weakest story-telling muscle, but I simply ran out of time. Ultimately, it was helpful to retell the story in different medium. I found the creative process confusing at times (to keep each version clear) but my ideas started feeding and growing faster. In hindsight, I think I'd have scaled back on the reading and watching and preserved more time for the creative... if I had to stick to the length of the term. Or, I'd have get the syllabus intact and lengthened the term!
Once again, I got to develop an idea that had been stuck in my head for years, never the opportunity to work on it until now. "The Unexpected, Uninvited, Unwelcome Guest" is about an alien who crashes a dinner party. It's a story about the inevitability of change and how we deal with it (or not). The story also has racial undertones... tolerance, acceptance, and struggles to do both.
I like the teleplay of it best. But you can read the comic short, which was published in the peer-review journal Clamantis.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

All Aboard!

Excerpt from "Quickies" published in On the Romance Road

Mass transit is featured often in my comics, from airports and train stations in Cavalcade to a complex subway system and maps for Arche-City in Arche-Lady.

I was so excited about the artist loft I moved into back in 2010 for many reasons: great space, great community, and my loft overlooks several rail lines. Sure, the noise can be distracting, but it's also fun to watch the trains roll past.

Most of all, the MBTA's Greenline extension (GLX) was to break ground in 2011, with service expected in 2014. Then expected in 2017. Then 2021. 

But it's happening! Starting TOMORROW, the short leg of the GLX opens to Union Square!

Of course, I'll probably never use the trolley to Union, as the closest station will still be Lechmere. But the GLX construction closed Science Center and Lechmere stations to make the former accessible and the moved the latter across the McGrath, so now it's even closer to me.

Someday, maybe late in 2022, the other GLX branch will open to Tufts. That;s when it gets really exciting. Both the D and E trains will stop through Lechmere, with one going on Union, the other Tufts. But it will double the trains stopping in Lechmere, making service to my 'hood more reliable. 

Technically, the East Somerville station will be closer to my building, but I'll probably only use it when I am headed to the airport with luggage. 

Check back tomorrow for a thumbs up or down update!

UPDATE: the train started running today, 3/21/2022 5:05 AM.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Not much to show for Winter term?

Winter term for me was to be all about thesis project prep work (organizing thoughts, arguments, outlining, etc.). But the term was very disjointed, as I am also trying to maximize the last of my grad school months. Disjointed and stressful, and though I did things out of order, by the end, I ended up right on track.

Wedding gown ideas for Jenn's stepson's pregnant fiancee.

Here's what I worked on, though there's not much to show for it:


1. Thesis prep--right on track and ready to start writing.

Clamantis entries

2. Colored, finalized, submitted second installment of my 9th & Pine vignettes.

3. Drafted and edited script for the third and final installment of 9th & Pine, prepped pages to pencil.

Summer term prep

4. Assembled summer workshop application, submitted.

5. Drafted, edited Podcast pilot script, discussed w/Thom (one of two projects for summer workshop needed).

6. Brainstormed idea and drafted summary (second project needed).


7. Drafted script to submit for upcoming student award; edited--not going well

8. Kept "current" in background for award I'm in the running for, in case I was called for an interview.

9. Was called for said interview, so took a solid week to prep for it.

And, not grad school related:

10. Drafted, edited social tile design to help promote Liebestrasse; generated tiles for release date and quotable quotes X 3 (horizontal for Twitter/FB/LinkedIn; square for Instagram; vertical for Instagram Stories)

11. Assembled, filed 2021 taxes (thank you Mayumi for preparing them!)

12. Doctor appointment, dentist appointment, two vet appointments, four dog haircut appointments, one human haircut appointment

13. Tackled to do list of things I hate doing (arranging for A/C repair and replacement, etc.)

Plus my full-time job made for a swirly three months!

I just mapped out Spring term, with only one project: write first draft of thesis!


Sunday, March 13, 2022


A deranged-looking Captain Horatio Crunch aboard the SS Guppy

It takes a long time to break a bad habit. I've read it's seven weeks, but sometimes the struggle is much
longer, or feels it.

One of my successes is breaking my love of breakfast cereal. More precisely, sugary cereals.

When I was very young, my parents taught me how to pour a bowl of cereal and milk so I wouldn't have to wake them in the morning. And, every day until I was 36, I ate a bowl (sometimes two) of cereal. Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Fruity Pebbles, Cap'n Crunch, Lucky Charms, and the cult classic monster cereals and Quisp. The observant among you noticed I didn't call out any chocolate cereals... though I'd buy and eat them, to me they were only a step ahead of Special K or Raisin Bran.

I bought up vintage cereal boxes on eBay (sometimes with the vintage cereal still unopened) and learned as much as I could about the characters, prizes, marketing, and history of the chemical recipes. I became incensed when a company changed its formula or production method (that's for you, General Mills, for your yo-yo strategy behind Trix!)

Breaking this habit, obsession, and way of life was not easy. But I was able to create a ritual of making breakfast. Slow cook oats, yogurt, an egg or two, and when I lived in my little house, I'd pick fresh strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and apples from my yard when they were in season. And for someone who's a notoriously simple cook, I can manage a near full-English by myself for a few guests.

These days, I only buy cereal under three circumstances: if I am extraordinarily busy (think end of term when everything is due at once and you can really use that 20 minutes of prep time on some other task), as a very special treat, or when traveling and experiencing foreign sugary cereals.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Go Ahead and Say "Gay"

We've entered an era where women's rights are eroding with chipping away at Roe v Wade, white supremacists are dampening voices of color with voter suppression laws, and Florida's pending "Don't Say 'Gay'" law will keep more kids in the closet.

In many ways, the law enforces the environment I grew up in as a teenager in the 1980s. Gay kids stayed in the closet, often not coming out until after university, or later. Few would have dared to confide in a teacher. 

Such a lifestyle rarely curbs homosexual behavior... it might delay it, it might create lifelong feelings of self-loathing... it might create a culture of drug and alcohol use, self-harm, and suicide... it might bury feelings do deep that they don't surface until someone is married with children, keeping their activity to illicit cruising grounds... but it rarely stops it.   

I suppose, the law will enable parents who don't want their children to be gay the opportunity to mess up their kids' lives... and keep their straight children in a make-believe world that homosexuality doesn't exist. I can't even begin to discuss the impact on trans kids and adults.

Excerpt from "Quickies" published in La Revue de LGBT BD and On the Romance Road. Colors by Matt Beaugrand.

Most of my work includes gay characters. My work recent work less so, as I have been encouraged to "diversify" and on one hand, I've grown as a writer as a result... but on the other, I'm sad I took my foot off that gas pedal.

So, as a reminder to you, but mostly to myself, a list of my work with gay characters: 

  • Liebestrasse (OGN)—Phillip, Sam
  • Sandwich Shop at 9th and Pine (comic shorts)—Tim
  • Baby Makes Three (OGN, radio play pilot)—Trevor Kitten
  • On the Romance Road (collection of comic shorts)—most characters 
  • Stuporstition (screen play)—Clark, Joseph
  • Saved by the Bell (TPB series)—unnamed couple in the background of every story I drew
  • "Not Allowed to Play" (comic short in Vertigo's Strange Sports Stories)—Mike
  • "LDR" (comic short in Marvel's Nation X)—Northstar, Kyle
  • "Music/Boxes" (comic short in Oni's Hopeless Savages Greatest Hits)—Twitch, Henry 
  • Cavalcade of Boys (TPB series) and its spin off OGNs Love is the Reason and Trust/Truth—pretty much the whole dang cast.
  • Strugglers (OGN)—Tighe, Mike Hawkswell
  • "Things Don't Always Suck" (comic short, short story)—Nate
  • The Cupcakes (mini-comic)—the whole cast
  • Mod Monsters of Marvy Manor (mini-comic)—Matt
  • The Faggy Phantom (mini-comic)—Bruce
  • Arche-Lady (comic series)—Astro-Boy, the Ant

I'm pretty embarrassed I didn't work an obviously gay character into Radio KNOW, but perhaps I will in the next draft. 

If you are struggling, I can say it does get better. There are people who can and will help. If you can, try the Trevor Project. Hang in there.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Work I Hope You See


I had been hoping my screenwriting class would be one of the highlights of my graduate school experience, and it has been. Years ago, when Cavalcade was under consideration as a TV pilot, without any screenwriting experience whatsoever, I hadn't been considered as a writer. This was to help change that.

I threw myself in to the class, and did all the recommended reading in advance, and did the first week's homework before the class started (the latter was due to me misreading the syllabus, but it worked to my advantage in the long run!).

Though I was encouraged by a few to write Arche-Lady: The Movie, I resisted, turning instead to an idea that had been long locked away.

I really only had the basic plot, the main characters, and one scene in my head, but I always had thought of it as a film.

After some futzing around in Final Draft, the story poured out of me! My professor paid me an amazing compliment about my main character along the way, "They don't write parts this good often."

The story is a comedy about a medium and her sister in a race against a pair of grifters to defraud an old man. I loved writing Maevis. We were told not to "cast" in our writing, but in my head she was a cross between Kristen Wiig and Mrs. Roper.

I had so many blocks in writing the screenplay, but it was a great lesson in pushing forward. Toward the end of the term, I was on a roll and finished my draft. For the final two weeks of class, I just revised, revised, revised. Another great lesson in persevering without inspiration. Go go go. 

I went through the trouble to copyright my draft and submitted it here and there. Nothing came of that, though nothing ventured nothing gained.

With Radio KNOW, I lived with the characters and really missed them when the term was over. Not the same with Stuporstition though... I was exhausted by term's end. But I emerged with a workable draft... and the story does lend itself to be rewritten as a graphic novel and I can see myself drawing it someday.