July 26th, 2008 | comics talk
July 26th, 2008 | brainjuice
This time round, I received at least 500 more photos than I could possibly use. You people have amazed me. I’ve still got more to go through — and, yes, I’m looking at every single one of you — but in order to get this stunt wrapped semi-successfully today, I’m having to skim and post a representative selection.
The mosaic-making software is pretty random in how it crops and arranges the shots. So the second tier of this one is entirely serendipitous:
July 25th, 2008 | brainjuice
I noticed the other day that the new update of Twitter desktop client Twhirl includes support for the microvideoblogging service Seesmic. Microvideoblogging is probably a fairly absurd compound word, but it really does attempt to be a Twitter for video, in that it’s designed at least in part to facilitate both video statements and conversational call-and-response video. I think the limit on video length is a couple of minutes (can’t remember for sure, am at pub and basically can’t be bothered to check right now).
Flickr, of course, now supports short videos — 90 seconds, I think? Something like that.
And this week, I noticed a new entrant. 12seconds.tv. Applying the intent of Twitter to video. Like it says on the can: Twitter gives you 140 characters of text, and 12seconds.tv gives you 12 seconds of video.
I played with it a bit yesterday — tried three videos, only one of which played. But it’s a lovely idea. As is tying Seesmic into Twhirl, which puts “social video” (if you like) on your desktop.
I know a lot of people who love email because they hate the phone. But I also know a lot of people who’d rather phone, or send a photo, than write an email. And it’s that that has always made me wonder why videomail, in these broadband days of ours, has never made a bigger dent. Why I don’t get videomail in my inbox along with email.
Seesmic itself, I can’t get into. I don’t know anyone on the service, and clicking at random seems to either put you in the middle of a conversation you never heard, or gives you someone talking with an unhealthy level of excitement about how they’re going to eat a chocolate cookie. But if I had friends there, I’d doubtless be pleased that their sends were being interpolated with the Twitter device that lives on the desktop and pulls things down without my having to think about it.
12seconds may even prove workable for a more general populace, with its Twittery limitation. Regardless of its eventual fate, it’s an interesting iteration of the whole microblogging thing. And it’s one of the services that may eventually make my inbox more interesting.
(written on the Eee at the pub)
July 25th, 2008 | brainjuice
So, Dr Horrible, then. Unless you were offline during the month of July 2008, you heard about DR HORRIBLE’S SING-ALONG BLOG: a musical comedy film produced for the internet by Joss Whedon, a man who has yet to be properly punished for once calling me his "youngling." Written by Joss, his brothers Zack (who co-wrote a pleasing episode of DEADWOOD) and Jed and Maurissa Tancharoen. A musical comedy, in fact, about a small-time mad scientist supervillain, the superhero he hates, and the Tess Trueheart drawn between them.
I only watched the end of it, because, as much as I love Joss, I hate musicals. Musical comedy makes my balls itch, frankly. And no-one wants that. It’s one of the things Joss and I will never agree on (like, you know, my being his youngling. Which I am not. At all). I think Gilbert & Sullivan are a cultural curiosity at best and I like ALL THAT JAZZ because Roy Scheider dies at the end. Joss believes that Gilbert & Sullivan are culturally relevant (and presumably still washes his clothes in a stream and goes on ether frolics) and is friendly with Stephen Sondheim.
But it was a lovely little production. Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion are always watchable, and some of the non-musical gags were inspired. (I actually later went back to the earlier episodes for the Bad Horse stunts.) And, clearly, it was forty-five minutes that delighted a great many people.
(Not interested in the fanwank about the ending, nor in Dr Steel losing his shit, so don’t even think about bringing me any of that. You’ll go right into the spam filter.)
Most interesting to me, though, are the guts of the idea. Joss Whedon blowing his savings account on staging a 45-minute serial for the internet (that will doubtless prove to be i2dvd — internet to dvd — apologies once again to Bill Cunningham for perverting his "d2dvd" coinage).
I was crapping away here the other day about the ratio of linkblogs to people actually
producing original content. And then Joss blows a couple hundred grand on not only producing a bit of original content with unusually high production values, but also an Internet Event. It was free to view if you attended within a stated time window. It was in fact Appointment Internet. That is not something that many people have ever managed.
And while there are elements of the project that only someone of Joss’ position could pull off — the money, the cast, the values, etc etc etc — I think there are still lessons to be taken from it that apply broadly. Not least of which are, Be Short, Be Bold, and Get It Done.
I can’t tell you how many new hopeful comics writers I meet who have never finished anything in their lives because their intended first project is a hundred-episode epic that creates a whole new universe or three. And I tell them all the same thing: you’re screwed. No-one will want it. Not until you’ve written something short, capable
of being produced on a budget, and finished. Your epic may be worldchanging, but no-one will ever know because no publisher will gamble that kind of money on an unknown. And that’s before you get to the vagaries of the attention economy.
Production values are nice, but not necessary to producing compelling work. People gave Dr Horrible 15 mins because it’s Joss, but five minutes is a great length for net video. 500 words, 5 pages, whatever. Be short. Be great.
And if you can get an evil horse in there, that’d be good, too.
July 25th, 2008 | microlog
I took a minute to randomly cull out a handful of friends, comrades and fellow-travellers from the 500-odd photos I have left. Left to right, and top to bottom, they are:
Novelist Cherie Priest. Writer/Pulp Scholar Jess Nevins. Comics creator Corey Lewis.
Biologist Lenya Friesner. Writer Gareth Lyn Powell. Writer/photographer JR Blackwell.
Mad Scientist Sara Gries. Comics creator Ben Templesmith (that’s what he looks like sober.) Artist Melyssa Anishnabie.
Steampunk renaissance woman Libby Bulloff. Writer/photographer Trixie Bedlam. Artist/writer/model Zoetica Ebb.
Musician Billy Gray. Musician/writer Meredith Yayanos. Writer/actor Wil Wheaton – he shot this on the set of CRIMINAL MINDS, where he’s been working this past week.
Artist/model Katelan Foisy. Writer Tom Reynolds (what the fuck did you DO, Tom?!). Novelist/photographer Richard Kadrey.
July 24th, 2008 | microlog
July 24th, 2008 | photography
My editor just sent me a link to a review of CROOKED LITTLE VEIN at Ain’t It Cool News, coinciding with the paperback release. AICN would be pretty much the last place I’d expect to get reviewed. I haven’t read it yet, but, still, very nice of them to take the time, I thought…
July 24th, 2008 | brainjuice
Someone asked me yesterday, "why do you do the thing with the self portraits?" And it’s like this: because people forget that there are other people on the other end of the internet. People forget that they’re side by side with other people every time they visit a website, that they’re talking with real people every time they post a comment. It’s too easy for people to let everyone become anonymous on the net. I don’t like that. This whole thing is made out of people. Once a year, I like to remind you.
Also, this site has always attracted interesting-looking people. Oh, and second row, far right — that’s comics writer/artist Brandon Graham. I think one of his first paid gigs would have been on a TRANSMETROPOLITAN page, in TALES OF HUMAN WASTE.
On the horror serial GRAVEL, I work in a style called "scriptment." It’s partway between a full script and a "treatment," or detailed synopsis. It’s not quite a short story, not a Marvel-style outline, neither fish nor fowl nor arse eel. This thing then goes to Mike Wolfer, who adapts it into a full script. Some people have asked how much of GRAVEL is me and how much is Mike. Here’s the opening of the scriptment for GRAVEL #3, out in store this week:
* * * * *
"ON ILKLEY MOOR BAHT’ AT"
OPEN ON: A TRAIN cutting through England in the morning.
Inside: in an otherwise empty carriage, William Gravel on the phone, his kitbag next to him on the seat.
Gravel: "…yes, she’s dead too. But you know that, or else you wouldn’t be asking me what’s next. Listen, I’m in no mood for stupid fucking games. I think it’s time you told me who you are."
Phone: "William, old sock. I understand you’ve been busy, but you’re really not thinking, are you?"
Gravel: "Yeah, and I didn’t go to fucking university or learn how to flex me arsehole for the pleasure of my betters. So I’m hanging up now."
Phone: "Who benefits from the Sigsand Manuscript being collected and reconstituted, Gravel?"
Gravel: "Me, with a bit of luck. Bye."
He switches the phone off, tosses it in his kitbag.
Pissed off, he settles back, looks out the window at the trees and fields.
A voice from off: "Shite, ennit? Southern England looks like it were made by fucking Lego."
"Aah, I dunno about that. I mean, rather here that up fucking north, know what I mean?"
And then he realises that he was alone.
And SYKES is sitting opposite him. SYKES is a very old man, but his hair’s still black. Dressed in a heavy, thick black jacket, a thick blue sweater under it, a black scarf, black trousers and heavy boots. He always has a tall shepherd’s crook in his hand, which he uses like a walking staff. Very very pale — the only colour in him is his blue eyes and the blue sweater, cobalt blue.
Gravel can only breathe "…Sykes." He is almost frightened. Certainly surprised.
"Aye. Sykes it is. I thought it were time we had a talk, Bill."
Gravel’s hand steals into his kitbag, closing around his gun inside there.
"A talk? Or another shot at killing me."
"Nay, I’ve got no trouble with thee, William Gravel, so you let go of your gun there. I want to talk."
He stands up. "But not down here. I get a rash on me privates if I come further south than Watford Gap. Come home to Yorkshire with me."
Gravel closes his hand around his kitbag, standing. "Listen, you’re here now, let’s just walk up to the buffet car, get a couple of pints and talk there…"
And suddenly he’s standing up on a blasted bleak Yorkshire moor under a sky that’s grey and black.
And Sykes turns away from him, walking across the moor. He sings:
"Where hast thou been since I saw thee? On Ilkley Moor baht ’at.
“On Ilkley Moor baht ’at! On Ilk-ley Moor bah-t’at…"
Gravel makes a face. "Do what?"
Sykes: "It’s a song, Bill. The oldest song I know. On Ilkley Moor baht ’at."
Gravel: "Does it translate into English, you Yorkshire bastard?