Sunday, July 30, 2023

A Week in Writing #467 - Blame Comic-Con

Hope everyone is staying safe and, of course, writing.

I'm coming to you this week with hat in hand. This week didn't go as planned. I'm blaming an SDCC hangover, but I never seemed to get into the groove this week on practically anything. My brain would get pretty much instantly foggy when I got around to writing so rather than wear down the battery on the laptop, I put it back and sat in near inert stupor. Not a pleasant sight, let me tell you.

No surprise, there was no work on Skylar or even the new story idea I had.

By Thursday, I was awake enough to do some work on queries, including more research on possible agents; closing down three that had past expirations and managed to send one out before calling it a night. So far, no outward signs of rejection, so I'll take that as a maybe.

On the Powers Squared front, little has been happening. Our artist and colorist are supposed to turn in their work for the month on Monday, so nothing, thankfully, to review. We're several issues ahead on the writing so there's not much to do there, so there's a lot of waiting around.

We did talk a bit about SDCC during our Friday OAPS podcast (audio, video) in addition to catching up on the book. Paul also posted a video about the exclusives and signings, called SDCC 2023 Haul.

Speaking of podcasts, we've lined up David Petersen, the artist and creator of Mouse Guard for our August 11th show. We go live Fridays at 6 pm at That might be one you'll want to see.

Actually wrote a new review for Trophy Unlocked: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One. Blame SDCC but our movie watching has been thrown off so we're sort of behind on new films. We're playing catch up. We haven't scheduled Barbie yet but the first showing we could make to Oppenheimer in 70mm IMAX isn't until 8/12 and then there's TMNT coming out this week as well.  Not sure when the MI review will come out but probably this week. And the DVR just gets fuller with B-movies.

The Saturday Morning Review was Trevor's for Alice in Wonderland (1951); we were a couple of days off of its New York premiere date which is why it seemed like the right time to post it.

I will have to do better next week.

Well, that about does it for me. I'll see back here next week.

Monday, July 24, 2023

A Week in Writing #466 - Report From the Front - SDCC 2023

Hope everyone is staying safe, and, of course, writing.

As promised last week, this week's blog is about San Diego Comic-Con 2023 and the panels I attended.

There are many reasons to go to SDCC and everyone has their own. Part of my reason for going is the Con itself and the atmosphere. This is a world I would deeply love to be more a part of. While Comic-Con is brutal with long days and short nights, it is over far too early for me. When Sunday comes, it is hard not to feel sad.

I enjoy panels like Cartoon Voices, which is pure entertainment and fun. I would recommend it to anyone who goes to the Con. Even if you don't know all the players, you should have a good time. I also attended the Mega64 20th Anniversary panel, which was interrupted by, what turned out to be, a false fire alarm.

And it was cool to meet some other creators as well. I made a point to find Russell Nohelty and ended up buying several of his books, though mostly the non-fiction ones. I also made a point of going to the White Ash Comics booth and meeting the creators, Charlie Stickley and Conor Farrell behind The Game, a comic I supported on Kickstarter. It took me until Sunday to say "Hi" to Don Nguyen in Artist's Alley.

One of my favorite times at this year's Comic-Con was about an hour we spent in the Professional Lounge talking with John Barber of Pan-Universal Galactic Worldwide on Thursday about what he was up to. It's times like that that make me feel like I belong in the community.

The other reason I go to Comic-Con is to attend panels that I hope will help with Powers Squared as well as our podcast.

The first one I attended was How to Get Press Coverage, run by Rik Offenberger from First Comics News. Now, believe it or not, I have gotten news coverage from this panel in the past, I may still again. The panelists included Ed Catto (Pop Culture Squad), Tim Chizmar (Fangoria), Michael Kingston (Headlock Comics), Alexander Raymond (Monstar Public Relations), Rob Salkowitz (Forbes), Francis Sky (First Comics News), J.C. Vaughn (Gemstone Publishing) and Josh Waldrop (Ultima Digital Media).

I'm not here to tell you how to write a good press release, but that's essential for most coverage. Their advice is to make it be about something that's going to happen soon, like in a month, and to include the What's it about; When is it coming out; and Where can it be bought. You should also include artwork if not a link to the book for them to review.

One of the suggestions is to make an event for yourself, like at a local library or comic book store.

There are news sites that are looking for stories about comic books and you should be nimble enough to take advantage when opportunity knocks, as when a news story takes place that either has something to do with your book or is referenced in it.

They also suggested talking to people that you support on Kickstarter.

Have an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) ready to go. Not that they suggested it but I think it might be good to have one that is general about your book and have ones that are about particular issues. You can send out links to a Dropbox to the EPK.

Ask others how they promote their work. They suggested that if you do, you'll find out what others do and don't.

One thing they mentioned is that it's okay to follow up on press releases. One of the panelists used the statistic that sales are usually made after seven attempts but most sales people give up after three.

The next panel I attended was The Pitching Hour, featuring Alison Haislip (Attack of the Show); Megan Bradner (Marvel TV); Kevin Avery (The Great North); Nyambi Nyambe (The Good Fight); Dan Fernandez (DC Comics); Eric Reid (WME); and Mark Bernardin (Picard).

If you've been reading this blog, you know that we're interested in trying to turn Powers Squared into an animated series, so this seemed like one of interest.

The panel apart from Reid from WME wasn't made up of people who buy pitches but rather people who have pitched.

A pitch should include things like: Why do you want to write this story?, a short summary of the story; Where the characters are going to be in a year or two.

They recommended that you: Find people who will believe in you; Don't follow trends; Stick to your vision; Never listen to Execs who turn you down.

They said that executives want to say "Yes" but it is easier for them to say "no" because it's less work for them. Yes, requires work from them.

Think about your story like an independent film.

They said you should have a document to leave behind; a pdf that you send to the person(s) you pitched to. It should include what your story is about. (Star Wars was used as an example here. It's about a boy who wants to leave the farm, doesn't know who he is but finds his destiny.)

The document should be about 15-20 pages and will become the show's Bible. Should include: Why me to tell the story? Why this is when the story should be told?, Where the Story came from; the characters; story including the Pilot and even seasons 1, 2 and 3.

Be seamless. The pitch should sound like you. Have confidence. Not everyone is good at both the pitch and the leave behind document.

You need a rep to get a pitch and need a script to get a rep. One recommendation was that the WGA has fellowships when you have a script. [On Hold during the strike].

I know financing is important to everyone, including myself, so I attended Kickstarting Comics in 2023 and Beyondhosted by Orina Leckert (Kickstarter’s head of publishing). The panel included Tom Akel (Rocketship Entertainment CEO & Publisher); Robert Napton (Legendary SVP of publishing); Dinesh Shamdashani (Bad Idea CEO); and Der-shing Helmer (Vault Comics managing editor).

One of the things they stressed was a Prelaunch Page for your Kickstarter.

One concept they discussed was that more deluxe product/pricing can allow you to make more money from fewer backers.

As far as a Kickstarter video goes, Orina pointed out that you'll lose viewers after a minute, so keep the videos short (less than a minute), but a video is not required.

Promotional tactics for your Kickstarter include Ad Spends (Facebook and social media); public relations, which should be free; and to look at what your contemporaries have done.

Variant covers should mean more promotion.

Stretch goals can cost you more money, but are also compelling to backers to help you raise more money so you need to find a balance.

They also pointed to the creator resources that are available on the Kickstarter website.

Having just finished our 200th episode of On the Air with Powers Squared, I thought perhaps there were things to learn at Podcasting 101which took place at the downtown library, slightly more than a hop and skip from the Convention Center. Hosted by Jonathan Eigen (Sagas and Sass), the panel also featured Tara Lynne (Geek Saga Entertainment), as well as two others not on the original description of the panel, Amin Javadi (House Manwoody) and Varun Gupta (Demon Slayer Podcast).

Promising at first, they had a list of topics, most of which are the basics of podcasting and I'll relate them to our own, since I'm unfamiliar with any of the panel's shows.

1) Choosing a topic: What is your podcast about? In the case of OAPS, our primary topic is comic books, Powers Squared, but also other books and creators.

2) Finding Host/Co-Hosts: That seemed easy for us. My son Paul and I co-host the show, though Trevor does appear from time to time. We've had a few shows where the artists behind the comic book have run the show without us. This happened on this past Friday night, when Julia Canon, Rachel Wells and Jen Moreno did their own show with Paul and I in San Diego. Watch it here when it goes up on YouTube on Wednesday.

3) Planning Episodes: Do you script them or do you wing them? For us it depends on the show and if we have a guest or not.

4) Recording Equipment: Self-explanatory. The one thing they recommended was a good headset. Though you will need a mike (they recommended a snowball if you're just starting out.) We have a mike, two lights and a green screen but we're also doing video at the same time.

5) How Often Do You Record: They seem to recommend once a week. OAPS goes live at 6pm every Friday night.

6) Editing Your Podcast: The rule of thumb for every hour of content it takes three hours to edit. Paul does some editing on the audio but the video goes up as is, with some exception.

7) Distributing: They listed Google Podcasts, iTunes, and Spotify, though as they noted other platforms will pick them up as well. OAPS starts on Podbean and then goes out to 10 other platforms, including the ones they named, as well as on our website:

8) Promoting Your Podcast; and 9) Monetizing You Podcast: They were running out of time and decided to put these two last topics together, basically skipping over 8) in favor of 9). Of course, I was most interested in 8), the reason I sat through this panel in the first place. So, I'm coming away with nada on this. We're always looking for how to get the word out.

The last work-related panel I attended was Small Press Publishing 101. Again, this one took place outside the convention center at the Omni Hotel. I was going in part because Gamal Hennessey was going to be on the panel. I backed his original Kickstarter and we've had Gamal on the show. From Gamal's introduction, he only found out he was doing the panel because he searched his name in the online program. He was hoping to talk to the host at the panel to find out what he was supposed to talk about, but as it turns out Gamal was the only one to show.

He is more than capable of talking about this topic. He broke making a comic book down to three major steps:

1) Pre-production: What is Your Story about? Figuring out who the Ideal Reader of your book is and how to reach them. This involves having an idea and finding an audience to read it. This includes the demographics of your reader (sex, gender, race, etc.); Their psychographics, or how they see the world; the genre of the book; Generations or age category of your reader; and format of the book: print or digital.

[Editor's Note: we did what he doesn't recommend doing, and started making a comic book without knowing who the audience would be for it. Don't do it that way.]

Where is the money going to come from, as in who is going to pay to produce the book? Gamal pointed out a lot of that has to do with your relationship to the IP. If you're the owner, then you must figure out if it comes out of your pocket or some form of crowdfunding. If you're doing something freelance, then someone should be paying you.

Who is going to do the parts you cannot do, as in if you're a writer, who is going to do the art and vice-versa? And art is usually more than one person. Gamal listed out: Artist, Inker, colorist, letterer, and production designer.

You also should have an accountant and an attorney, at least according to Gamal.

The final ingredient in your production team is the editor who can change the grand vision of the book to fit with who is going to read your book.

2) Production: The actual putting together the book from writing to art.

3) Distribution: Digital or print or both. You can self-distribute or you can try to get your book into stores using one of three distributors: Diamond, Lunar or Simon & Schuster. If you get say Diamond to distribute your book, they do it on consignment. After publishing the title in the Preview publication, Diamond will then tell you to send them so many books. Ideally, they would go from your printer to the Diamond warehouse. He warned against using a Chinese printer, which is a fairly popular choice, due to the extra time it takes and the added steps involved, including shipping. You might remember a year or so ago when there were ships waiting to be unloaded.

Digital takes less to get going, as you already should have your finished project formatted.

He recommended that you buy his book The Business of Independent Comic Book Publishing in a digital format so it would be easier to search for topics. He also has an online community of comic book creators called Comics Connection, which he also recommended as there have been changes in the industry not covered in his book.

In response to a question asked in the audience about licensing, Gamal broke down the questions that you should be asked:

What is the property?

Where are they going to sell it?

How long are they going to sell it?

How much are they going to charge for it?

You should ask for a 20% minimum guarantee upfront with a quarterly royalty report and an audit provision. If they are under reporting/paying then they should have to pay a penalty and for the auditor.

You also want to know if the license is exclusive or non-exclusive. An exclusive license should be more expensive than an non-exclusive one.

As far as your business, he recommended an LLC or Limited Liability Company. That way if there are any monetary issues, they are attached to your company not you personally. With a partnership, they are attached to the business and to you personally as well.

Well, that about does it for me. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

A Week in Writing #465 - Blame This Week on Me

Hope everyone is staying safe, and, of course, writing.

Every Sunday I sit down at my computer and try to think of what I've done or, more likely the case, haven't done to move my writing career, if you can call it that, forward. This week seems to be the case of the haven't dones and didn't dos.

As an example, I didn't send out a query again this week. I'm not sure why this time but I'm sure if I really think hard I could come up with a really great excuse. But in reality, there isn't one. I failed, even though I promised I would. Forgive me?

Not much to report on the Powers Squared front except to say that our Friday On the Air with Powers Squared was our 200th. We got a badge from PodBean to prove it. As monumental as that is, showing I guess what could be called stick-to-itiveness, we didn't really celebrate it on the show. Instead, we did the show about our expectations for next week's San Diego Comic-Con. As you're no doubt aware there are strikes by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA that will have an impact but there is really a lot of stuff to see and do. I will, of course, be reporting all this next Monday in a Report from the Front. That's right, no blog post on Sunday. I'll just be happy to have made it home by then.

I should take a moment hear to mention all the hard work that does go into the podcast and want to thank my son Paul, who has co-hosted from the beginning. I don't think it would ever make it air without him. Trevor has been a frequent guest, but Paul has been the mainstay.

We've had some great guests on, including many from our creative team include Rachel Wells, Julia Canon and the recent addition of Jen Moreno. One thing I've enjoyed is meeting other creators and people in the industry and we look forward to having more people like that on the show. And, of course, the people that listen, download and/or watch the show are really the best. It's those who keep us doing it.

Found out that our colorist is streaming her work on the book on twitch. I don't know if there's a schedule but you can check it out at And there is a link on the SRCC page on the website.

I also wrote out some concepts for possible episodes for a Powers Squared show. But I'm waiting to hear back on the script before geting too excited. I figure that feedback isn't coming until after Comic-Con. Everything else sort of stops until after that's over. Right now this is an exercise in the what could be not the what is.

The Saturday Morning Review this week on Trophy Unlocked was mine for Snowglobe, a 2007 TV Movie that starred Christina Milian. Blame it on Hallmark, who invented the concept of Chirstmas in July, which is why we selected this Christmas film to feature. Next week, we're continunig with another Milian Christmas-starrer, A Snow Globe Christmas.

I'm working on a review now for Murder in a Private Car (1934). This was a more recent addition to the DVR so it was all actually still there. As always, not sure when it will appear on the blog.

To continue with the didn't dos for the week, I didn't write anymore on Skylar, but I did work a couple of nights on the new story idea.

Okay, the next week doesn't promise to be productive as far as the word count goes. After Tuesday, I'll be at the Con and writing doesn't fit in considering the schedule.

So, that about does it for me. Keep writing and I'll see you next on the 24th.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

A Week in Writing #464 - Blame the Fireworks

Hope everyone is staying safe, and, of course, writing.

I can't say that this was a banner week for me. Maybe it was the holiday, but I don't think I ever got this week fully off the ground.

Tuesday evening had a lot of promise but blame fireworks for what didn't happen. On that night, about a dozen of teenagers/young adults descended on our neighborhood and took over the intersection a house down from mine. To make a long story short, things got out of hand and the police were called. I'll admit I was surprised at the response, but about five cars showed up.

A couple of the culprits tried to hide out next to one of our neighbor's houses. One neighbor, whose involvement prompted me to call, had video of the shennigans but it took up most of the evening and I didn't get back to writing, as it was already a quarter to 11, which is about the time I'm wrapping things up.

As for the rest of the week, I don't think I have all that much to show for it. I didn't even send out a new query this week, just to show you what it was like for me. I keep getting a late start and never get anything done. I did research some potential agents but by the time I was ready to send something, it was already after 11 and I wasn't up to it.

I also didn't do a review this week. Oh, I wanted to and we were all watching The Woman on the Beach, but even though there was about half an hour to go on the recording, it stopped at about 48 minutes in. And, though I looked, the film wasn't available anywhere to stream; another damnation of the streaming present: Not all films are available to watch. Granted the recording was pretty old, 2015, but I guess I assumed it would still play. I'm wondering now about even older recordings I've been saving. They're probably junk as well. If that's true then draining the DVR won't take as long as I once feared.

Trophy Unlocked didn't wait for me though, and there was a new review out on Saturday morning, Paul's for An American Tail.

Spent a good deal of time the last few days on SDCC, which opens in about ten days. Everyday since Thursday, they've been releasing their program schedule for that day. I'm looking for panels that will "educate" me about whatever it is I'm doing, but I'm sure there are ones I've missed, it's the same thing every year. The other thing about a schedule is that there are always compromises that have to be made as you go along so everything I've earmarked will not come to fruition for me, that's just how it is. Unfortunately, there can be two programs at the same time and I can't be in two places at once. And sometimes, they're too far away (Library) to make it to the next one, etc. As always, I'll write a Report from the Front the Monday I get back.

I look forward to going every year, though I still like I'm a spectator and not really a part of it. I really want to change that and am hoping to make next year the breakthrough year. The only "major" con left this year is LA Comic Con, but it comes at that very awkward time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so attending it is problematic for me. We'll see.

We had a fairly good conversation with the creatives on Powers Squared about A.I. in Media on our podcast on Friday. You can listen to it now at or watch it on Wednesday evening (after 2:30 pm PT) here: It's a link to the YouTube channel on our website.

Next week, we'll be talking about Comic Con at 6 pm PT and the week after (same time same channel) the women of Powers Squared will be doing the show without us. Those have been some of my favorite shows in the past.

The one thing I think I did do was finish a first draft of the Pilot script. A first draft for me includes several edits but I'm think I'm ready to share. I think it's pretty good, but I'm a bad judge. I'm sure there are things that still need to be fixed with it.

Well, that's about it for me. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

A Week in Writing #463 - Pilot Scripts and Newsletters

Hope everyone is staying safe, and, of course, writing.

My writing this week took a different bent. I started working again on the pilot script for our proposed series based on Powers Squared. It's something that we've been kicking around for a while now and I finally got back into it. If your curious, there are some subtle changes between the origins of the story in the comic book and what will be in the pilot. I won't go into details but the same basic story will get told but in a slightly different way based on some feedback we've gotten on the idea. I had been trying to work on one scene a night so I'm only about three into it. This is a first draft, mostly for myself, so it won't be the one that sees the light of day.

Just in case anyone thinks differently, I am not a member of the WGA nor am I trying to show this to anyone prior to the end of the current strike. This is, at this point, for myself and Powers Squared. I support the aim of the strike and want all writers to get fair pay and compensation.

To cover it, while I did some work on my new idea, I didn't, this week, work on Skylar. It was more down to time and what I spent it on, which was the script.

Our latest newsletter came out this morning with the usual news about Powers Squared. If you're interested in reading The Hound Dogs' Howl, I encourage you to join the mailing list by enrolling here: For those of you unfamiliar with it, SRCC stands for San Romero Community College, which is where the story is based. In order to get on the mailing list, you enroll at the school. SRCC is not a real school and there are no fees attached with enrolling. All "classes", such as there are, are free. The only thing that costs are the books and merch. End of ad.

There is currently some momentum on the new issue as our artist dropped the last four pages of the month and has already made the edits Trevor requested. It is his story after all. We're about a month away from starting on its companion issue, written by Paul.

I'm also thinking seriously about a new Kickstarter next year, promoting these new issues as well as a new trade of issues 6 through 9. Stay tuned for that.

No new review for me this week. We ended up watching a movie we had seen before, thanks to my confusion. I had originally written the review for Their Own Desire back in 2019, but it hadn't yet been published. I must have forgotten the title and when looking ahead at TCM last week, the logline sounded more salacious pre-code than I remembered. But seeing it again did help me with putting the photos I'd downloaded with the story, so it is now at least in draft form on the blog.

Three new reviews on Trophy Unlocked this week, though none of them mine. Monday started off with Paul's review of Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, which has proven a very popular post with over 100 hits so far. Wednesday's Game Day review was Trevor's for We Love Katamari Reroll + Royal Reverie and the Saturday Morning Review was Paul's for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, an MCU title we did not see in a theater.

One new query this week to round out the checklist and I DNR'd a couple that have spoiled on the shelf. They're the "No Word means 'No'" sort of agencies.

Well, that about does it for me. Keep writing and I'll see you again next week. And, have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July.