Sunday, July 26, 2020

A Week in Writing #309 - Report from the Home Front

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll no doubt remember that when I attend a con, I try to give you a report detailing what I've learned, as a Report from the Front. With COVID-19 spreading, San Diego Comic-Con went virtual this year, so while I attended, I never did leave my couch.

Usually, I make an effort to attend as many how-to programs and panels, but this year there were far fewer of those types and even fewer that really interested me. So my report this time will be somewhat limited. We, as a family, attended several panels via YouTube, which was the only way for the Comic-Con sponsored ones. (Adult Swim, as an example, had their own panels via Twitch). I would say that we spent a lot of time attending panels that were sponsored by Warner Bros, either the Archive or HBO Max, the latter of which seems to be where all the new Cartoon Network-produced programming is going. We have a lot of favorites, such as Summer Camp Island and Adventure Time, which were part of several panels, including one about Storyboarding, which was very interesting.

There was also a Phineas and Ferb panel, this one from Disney+ about the Candace Against the Universe movie that is coming out on that streaming service later in the summer. We've been watching the series pretty much every weekday at lunch, and I think we're all looking forward to the movie, even though we currently don't subscribe to the streaming service.

Warner Bros sponsored two panels, one about the 80th Anniversary of Bugs Bunny, which was a long infomercial for a set they're releasing later this year. And Warner Archives sponsored one about the Secret Origin of Saturday Morning Cartoons, even though the secret is that the original cartoons were reruns of theatrically released cartoons. Both were interesting but not really how-to presentations.

Even though we have a colorist, Paul and I were interested in How To Color a Comic Book, sponsored by Hi-Fi, a coloring service that walked through their process and gave some tips on what they do versus what others do. Fairly informative though I'm still happy with the colorist we have and the work she does.

There were a couple of panels about the Narrative in Videogames, which I think Paul understood better than the rest of us. I've always thought there is a videogame in Powers Squared and watching the panel did get me to thinking about story branches and alternative endings, though I profess not to know a thing about scripting one. It is interesting to hear terms like "Bark", "Cinematic" and "V.O." being used.

We did watch a panel that promised to discuss the science behind Back to the Future, but which really discussed science in comic books and science fiction. This is one of the issues with panels is that they sometimes don't get to point they were supposed to. I was hoping to hear something about hoverboards and instead saw a brief demonstration of a robotic skirt that one of the panelists designed.

Watched a panel about networking. These panels are never really about how-to but more the benefits of having done so in nature. There was a panelist who does marketing for comic books, so I did contact her after the panel. Too soon to have heard back and I don't want to get ahead of myself and commit to hiring her, though I would like to hear what she could do for us and Issue #10, which is coming out soon. I will, of course, let you know if anything comes of this.

Two more panels on Sunday had some useful information. There was a panel on The Writer's Journey: Developing a Producer's Mentality. This was more about working on your own IPs rather than someone else's. And while you may have to be willing to make some changes to get it published or produced, there has to be a line that you're not willing to cross; and if you walk away, you have to really walk away.

The other panel, and our last one of the Con, The Grind NEVER Stops, not even during a quarantine led by Bryan "Kaiser" Tillman. He led another panel that we attended last year and is really a very inspirational speaker. His point was that creatives should use the time during a pandemic to get things done, rather than play videogames and watching Netflix. His advice was 1) Time Management: Plan out your day and then you'll see how much time you actually have; 2) Study: Look at the work of others and see why it is effective; 3) Practice: Work on the areas that you need to improve; 4) Development: The first draft is not going to be your best. You need to work on it to make it better; and, 5) Network: Find groups of like people on social media and share with them and comment on their work as well. While I think Kaiser's intended audience is artists, much of what he said is applicable to writers as well.

Since all the panels were pre-recorded and available on YouTube, it's probably not too late to watch them. You can go to and see what you might have missed.

I did manage to get some writing done this week and during the downtimes between "Panels". One of the advantages of Comic-Con@Home is that you're not trapped there and can do other things while you wait.

This week, I finished the pencil and paper editing on The Runaway and began to type up those changes. I think I was hoping that the edits would not only make the book better but might have a few more words. I think I was hoping for at least 1000, but I've only added a couple of 100 words and I'm about 25% of the way through the book this time around, or version 9 if you're keeping track.

I also finished the two reviews I started last weekend, The Bribe and Top Gun. They'll be coming out sometime in the future. This week, we continued the trend of publishing a videogame review on Wednesdays with Trevor's review of Spec Ops: The Line for PS3. In keeping with the spirit of Comic-Con, my review of Batman: The Killing Joke went up on Saturday. A bit of coincidence that was also the 4th anniversary of its release in theaters.

We even managed to review some inks from Rachel for Powers Squared and work a little bit on getting a Discord group up and running. Our colorist, Julia Canon, is the spearhead behind that and it promises to make the communication and sharing easier.

We also had the time to write and send the latest newsletter on Powers Squared, The Bark, which you can subscribe to here.

So, to wrap this up, while I enjoyed the extra time and extra money that Comic-Con@Home provided me, I really missed the actual event itself. With all the hassles and people, there is really nothing like it and missing it for a year makes me more excited about going next year.

Keep writing and I'll see you back here next week.

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