Channel the entity "Jeff Parker" from beyond the Ether

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Aberrant Behavior! 

Okay, this is pretty cool. Talk about proactive reading-- Marlon de Rivera read The Interman recently and decided to kill a little time by building my hero Van into the role playing game, Aberrant. First is his annotations on how to read the character stats, and then the stats themselves. It all sounds pretty fair to me. I did think the Charisma could be higher... I like that he would be a Perfect Guest.

Thanks Marlon!

First off, Aberrant is played using 10 sided dice. in order to do a task, you take the Attribute and relevant ability and roll however many dice the character has ranks. So a character trying to fire a gun would roll the total dice equal to his dexterity and firearms. Attributes are basic characteristics and Abilities are learned skills. Backgrounds are personal advantages specific to the character. the backrounds listed here are what I saw as his by about the middle of the comic. Like Abilities, they are rated from 1 to 5. I gave him pretty high willpower (maximum is 10). the Quantum rating represents in Aberrant how much raw power and which superpowers the character has access to. Since Van meach didn't do anything overtly superheroic, he has a basic quantum rating of one. The taint represents how inhuman an Aberrant character appears to be. I have this represent the side effect of his skin changing color when he was poisoned and when he was caught in that avalanche.

Meach isn't an overtly superheroic character. if anything his powers make him exceptionally normal. this is represented in what powers I gave him on the second sheet, which are Mega Attributes, these are what would have allowed the soldiers created by the Interman project to be the spies that would have been, allowing Meach to hold his own against the Fox and later on the Compass and May.

Van Meach

"The Interman"

Strength: 2 Appearance: 2 Intelligence: 2
Dexterity: 4 Manipulation: 1 Wits: 5
Stamina: 5 Charisma: 3 Perception: 5

Brawling(dex): 3 Might(str): 5 Awareness(per): 5
Athletics(dex): 5 Drive(dex): 3 Firearms(dex): 1
Martial Arts(dex): 1 Melee(dex): 2 Pilot(dex): 3
Endurance(sta): 4 Resistance(sta): 4 Academics(int): 3
Computer(int): 3 Science(int): 2 Gunnery(dex): 1
Hvy. Wpns(dex): 3 Tactics(int): 2

Allies: 2
(Richard Keele)
Cipher: 3
Contacts(Criminal): 3
Contacts(criminal): 2
Contacts(Scientific): 2
Node: 4

Willpower: 7 Walk: 7m
Quantum: 1 Run: 16m
Taint: 4 Sprint: 12m
Initiative: 9 plus 1d10 Fly: N/a

Quantum Pool: 20
(can spend 15 points per turn/ recover 6 per hour of rest)
Taint Flaws: Skin coloration due to adaptation

Mega Atttibutes:

Strength: 1 Appearance: Intelligence: 1
Dexterity: 2 Manipulation: Wits: 2
Stamina: 3 Charisma: 1 Perception: 2

Mega Attribute Enhancements:
Str-Lifter: doubles max. lifting capacity

Dex-Physical Prodigy: plus 3 dice for any physical task

Sta-Adaptability: can exist in any hostile environment

Health : Completely resistant to poisons/drugs/Disease

Cha-Perfect Guest : can adapt to any culturalmannerisims/social graces

Int- Mental Prodigy(Strategic) : plus 3 to initiative in combat
Linguistic Genius : plus 5 successes to language tests/ability to comprehend foreign languages

Wits-Enhanced Initiative : plus 5 initiative in combat
Bloodhound : tracking via scent

Invulnerability to Electricity: 1
( Plus 6 damage resistance against electricity)



Health Levels:
__ Bruised -0 (mega stamina bonus)
__ Bruised -0
__ Hurt (-1) -0
__ Injured (-1) -0
__ Wounded (-2) -0
__ Maimed (-3) -0
__ Crippled (-4) -1
__ Incapacitated
__ Dead


Monday, March 29, 2004

Mailbag Time 

Since no one checks FAQs to see if their questions have been frequently asked, I'm going to occasionally post some letters I get along with my responses. A lot of creators starting out have the same kinds of queries, maybe this will help get the answers out. Unless you disagree with my answers, in which case, write me a letter.

Hi, Mr. Parker, my name is Andy Luckett. I'm a college student currently finishing up a communication major at Virginia Tech University here in Blacksburg, VA. I'm a big fan of comic books (I'm only part-way through The Interman, but I am really enjoying it), and I am interested about comic writing as a prospective career. I hope you wouldn't mind if I asked you a few questions about your field.

What order did you have to your education? Did you get more than one degree? Did you go to a college with a comics-centric program, like the Kubert school? The major that I'm finishing up right now is the second one that I will have, after an AA degree in Communication Design I received from a community college. Do you think that these degrees would be helpful in being hired in the comics field?

I'm a fan of art and artwork but I don't think I have the passion for illustration to pursue comic art, but I do have a passion to write for comics. Would it work to bring a portfolio full of writing samples to a convention, like most people do with artwork? I'd love to have some of my samples evaluated, but I don't know if anyone would go for that. Anyway, I hope I didn't e-mail your ear off, but any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. By the way, I'm curious: would you ever consider doing anything with Aquaman, if DC wanted you to? He's my favorite character and I like to see how people would handle him. Given that you've already written a character who can breathe underwater (among other talents), you might have a different perspective on him. Thanks a lot for your time.


Andy Luckett


Hey, great to hear from you. I'll try to answer these questions, let's see...

I didn't study at SVA or the Kubert School, though friends of mine who did really got a lot out of it. I was an English Lit major in college myself. Really it doesn't matter to publishers, it's pretty much what you can take from the studies. That's a nice democratizing feature of the industry, all that matters is that you can do the work well, they don't care if you were frying fish last week. Though I do think my college work helped make me a better writer. Of course, I'm just now getting work as a writer after about ten years of working in comics.

Ugly truth time: No one will look at your writing samples. Just the other day at a small show I declined to look at a guy's writing-- it just takes too long and everyone's got work to do. It may take an editor 20 pages to realize whether someone can write or not, whereas you can get a sense of their storytelling skills quickly with art pages.

How do you get around this? You have to either draw your own stories or convince artists to work with you. You could do this in some small press books, or even make minicomics at the copy shop. That's your best hope for getting people to read your material. Breaking in as a writer is notoriously hard. As I mentioned, I'm just now starting to be considered as one, and it's because of a book I published myself (hurry up and finish that, by the way!) It's not like I wasn't pitching story ideas for years. Attending comics shows and meeting promising artists you have things in common with will probably be your most direct route.

And while you're at it, focus on writing your own characters. If you're going to have longevity in the industry, it'll be with concepts you own.

Though it would be cool to write Aquaman.


Sunday, March 28, 2004

Where Are They Then 

Somehow I bumbled across this link, an old list of comics people who used to post on Compuserve. It made me nostalgic for my old compuserve I.D., 11726939-- even though I wasn't on the list. I actually spent more time in the Inventor's Forum because they had some fascinating posts.

Now all these people have their own forums and don't talk to each other.


Friday, March 26, 2004

...neither hold a candle to "Mitchell" 

As far as I can see from the trailers of the new Walking Tall starring The Rock, the filmmakers have made the usual upgrade in weaponry. See, in the original movie, Joe Don Baker returns to enforce Tennessee justice with a 2-by-4. In the amped up current version, The Rock uses a 4-by-4.

I don't care how big The Rock is, that can't comfortable to carry. I'd have to whittle or lathe around the gripping area, or at least sand it down a little bit so I wouldn't get a splinter. I think this one doesn't try to base itself on the true story, probably so there'd be more leeway for big action. And mainly so Dwayne wouldn't have to play a character with the name Pusser.


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Quick, Look Busy... 

--because I'm back from the hellscape of Los Angeles. The place that made me maintain a bad mood for FOUR YEARS. Luckily there are some very good people there, and they helped get me through it. I saw most of them while in town, and also attended the Wizard World LA show down in Long Beach. I'd talk about it, but Lieber and I are going to muster up an entire con report on the thing, so I'll hold off for a moment.

In the meantime, you can pick up that Tales of the Vampires #4 you promised me you would buy. It's Dark Horse's continuing stories from the Buffyverse, written by the folks who brought you the show. And my story, "Dust Bowl", is by Jane Espenson, who wrote many of the fan's favorite episodes.

As you were.


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Back Into the Belly of the Beast 

First, my pals at Mercury Studio here in town have a blog now. It's run by that ol' Steve Lieber, so it's only a matter of weeks or even days before it's purely about Steve with the rest of the gang getting an odd mention here and there. Go look at that interview with David Hahn.

Next, I'm briefly returning to Los Angeles for the next few days, and I'll be down in Long Beach for the weekend attending Wizard World LA, the biggest comics show to ever hit the area. Which seems weird considering it's the capitol of entertainment, but San Diego has long reigned as the place the comics industry holds council. I'll be in Artist Alley, drawing for money and selling Interman to unsuspecting readers.

It'll be good to see my sun-baked, smog-breathing friends again (and then leave!) and maybe I'll get to eat at Canter's or peek by the Farmer's Market on 3rd and Fairfax. I'll try to write in from the road if there's an internet connection within reach. Maybe there'll even be a convention report, if it seems eventful. Hope I remember the traffic patterns...


Friday, March 12, 2004

Speedy Deliveries 

Last week we discovered The Children's Museum of Portland, a place so neat that you'll immediately curse your childhood for not having any place like this to go. Imagine if your nearest Science museum for kids did away with the pretense of trying to teach anything and just focused on making the exhibits sprawling and fun. Then throw in several storytimes and puppet shows. Again, if I ever find batteries for my camera, I'll post some pictures of it-- every sizable city in the country should have a place like this.

Currently the museum is featuring the travelling Mr.Rogers' Neighborhood exhibit. I was surprised that the kids all knew the show, I guess I assumed it stopped when Mr. Rogers died about a year ago. In fact, it's rerunning regularly, and the mantle has been taken up by David Newell, who played Mr. McFeely on the show. So as soon as we find out about this place, we also get to see Mr. McFeely live, leading in some songs and breaking out Daniel Striped Tiger on his arm. While I'm still trying to figure out how a children's show ended up with a man named Mister McFeely, he's delighting the kids with puppet guests from the Land of Make Believe. I like the way children are so willing to suspend disbelief that they'll focus on the puppet even when the person is standing right there with his arm going into the thing. I also liked watching the parents talking to the guest about watching him in their youth, more awestruck than their children.

It was a great time, McFeely knows how to work a crowd. And they had the Trolley there! And King Friday! And, and...


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Portland Show 

This morning I was walking around the neighborhood with Allison in the backpack and stopped by Share-It Square (a play on Sherritt St, where this little project is). The four corners of the intersection have different swap stations, where you can leave things you don't need and pick up something you might want. It's part of a community project to... build community, I guess. There never seems to be anything there that I want, but I like the idea of it and drop clothes and things off there all the time. Today it was a book-on-tape and a comic book I didn't want anymore. One of the stations has a bunch of cups and a thermos setup for people to get free tea or coffee, and the best corner is a kids' playhouse built out of branches and rainguarding material, full of toys and chalkboards and fun stuff. As we strolled back towards home a guy on a bicycle rode by, sporting an enormous flag with Planet Earth on it. Just in case I wasn't sure I was in Portland.

Which reminds me, I was at Richard Finn's Portland Comics Show Sunday, a bi-annual show that boasts the biggest dealer room in the Northwest. It's almost redundant to go to a comics show here, because the whole town is like a comics convention. I think cartoonists are 33% of the population now. Take a good long walk and you stand even odds of either seeing Brian Bendis cycle by you or Joe Sacco buying coffee. I think Alex Maleev just moved here too.

Or you can go to the show at the Coliseum, where I was a guest. Richard rotates through the comics community to give attendees new people to see, and he brings a few in from far away. The line-drawing visitor this day was Billy Tucci, and he was doing a great job of crowd-pleasing. Unfortunately, the line kept naturally wrapping in front of my table, putting me in the bad guy position of telling people to "Vamoose!" and "Scram!". There's a weird thing about Line Mentality, I've seen people watching a line forming and just go get in it even though they don't know what it's for. It has an awesome pull for the group mind, and I guess the same impulse keeps us all driving on the proper side of the road. Of course, people don't look down at me or Anne Timmons and think "huh-- I wonder if they'd like this space clear to meet people and sell books." They think "Billy will sign all of these comics" and "I will watch his movie about hillbillies flying a plane". Tucci himself though is a very nice and thoughtful guy, and he felt horrible that he left some t-shirts sitting on the corner of my table, though I never noticed-- we had nice big tables!

I was so casual about setting up since it was a home show that I forgot half the things I normally bring. Lieber to the rescue. He grabbed some text off my website and made a promo sketch card, then even stopped by Kinko's to print me up a batch. I'll be using these li'l rascals in LA next week, too. I did a couple of sketchbook pieces I was happy with, having had plenty of sleep this time. One was a "Desire" for the web's biggest Sandman collectors, and I finally did a Fantastic Four piece I'd promised Jim D at Emerald City the week before...

I saw my old pal James Dineen from when I worked at Sony Animation, and introduced him to my family. I forgot to tell him that Darwyn Cooke is a big shot in comics now, back then he was a director on the Men in Black cartoon. Speaking of men in black, Matt Haley showed up later, as usual, with a girl. And wearing all black. He said something about some sweet job he had going, but his voice was froggy so I really couldn't pick up any useful details. Haley looks from side to side a lot when he's talking to you, or maybe just to me. The managers from the city's comics retail institutions, Excalibur and Things From Another World were making the rounds. As usual I ask readers I meet where they get their books, and I heard several praises for both stores. There's also a new store in town, Cosmic Monkey, but I've not met them yet. I may get out there this week now that I've got their address.

As the show wound down I talked a bit to Paul Ryan and his wife, and Kurt Busiek set me straight on the fact that Luke Cage didn't say "Sweet Christmas" in the early days. Kurt explains that he either would say "Christmas" or "Sweet Sister!" He might as well have told me there ain't no Santa. The show folks were collecting guests' parking cards and reimbursing the $6, but I'd left mine in the car across the street.

Proving my cartoonist credentials, I lugged my stuff out to the car, got the ticket, and came back in for the six bucks.


Friday, March 05, 2004

Sleepy In Seattle: The Emerald City Comicon 

Sunday was my first visit to Seattle, and as usual it took a comic book show to make me go. While everyone else wisely went up a day early so as to to face the public fresh, I stayed up late getting ready and then made my family wake up and drive at 6am. Washington has some pretty countryside. I stopped at a gas station, all excited at the idea of pumping my own gas again. If anyone can explain to me why you can't pump your own gas in Oregon and New Jersey, I'd like to hear it. It was nice not having to wait for an attendant. Though I'll admit, on a cold rainy day, sitting in your car is nice too.

Somehow they managed to situate Seattle so you don't see it from far away, you turn a corner, emerge from a tunnel, and dramatically, there it is all at once. Very clean with attractive architecture, and, of course, on the water. The show was in part of Seahawks Stadium which is easy enough to find from the highway, and we arrived just as the doors were opening. Allison's stroller was very useful in transporting my books, art and display, and even Allison. Once in we saw the whole Hee Haw Gang from Mercury Studios and set up with them. Then picky Ron Randall just had to sit in between me and Pete Woods (I think Pete paid him to), so I had to slide my stuff down to the other end of the table. We then all worked hard to keep people visiting our table so they'd block the cold wind blowing in from the doors across from us. Since I'm too lame to pick up AA batteries for my camera, I can't show you any of this, but luckily Paul Guinan took some pictures.

Lots of my Illuminati pals were in for the weekend too. Dave Johnson immediately asked where his sketchbook was, and I produced it. My piece was barely started, but I had it with me. And it went back home with me too. I'm just getting him back for all the fans' sketchbooks he's held for ransom over the years--or I procrastinate just as much. I told Phil Noto how much I liked the cover on Vampirella Magazine #3, which of course I had because my story was in it. Phil wanted to see it and see how it came out so I told him I'd bring my copy over later. I never did.

Little Tommy Coker was working on some sketches and turning pale shades of green because he'd eaten something that disagreed furiously with him. He asked where the script was for the story in the Interman Summer special that he's going to illustrate, and I held out my empty hands. Unlike with Dave, that one hurts only me because I need Tomm working on that story soon. He's taking his son out to the Grand Canyon for a few days, so that will buy me some time.
Like everyone else I saw Jim D, the show organizer, and congratulated him on setting up a good show. Next year it's going to be two days, which should make it quite a comics event for the Northwest.

I wasn't alert as I could have been, so Jill graciously went and got me a coffee I asked for. I accidentally drank from her latte, and liked that better than mine, so I whined, whined, whined until she went back and got me one of those instead. Conversely, Allison was very quiet and uncomplaining, and even took a long nap during all the hubbub.

I did sketches, of course. And as usual, if I didn't like them, I tore them up and started over. Here's proof from a blog entry of Laura Gjovaag, scroll down until you see one of my banners. I did a strange one in Steve Mohundro's book, which had a concept theme wherein all the sketches had to be related to time. I was stumped, and then I remembered Kang, the Marvel villain who often met and allied with himself in The Council of Cross-Time Kangs. Somehow that inspired this:

Later I had some coffee, realized what I had done in his book and felt shame. I put down my pencil and sketched no more that day. Meanwhile behind me Steve Lieber was doing one great inked piece after another. I really need to go up the night before and be rested up so I have enough focus. Even so, I don't think anybody was keeping up with Lieber that day, he was batting a thousand.

Leland Purvis was selling his brand new trade compilation of VOX on the other side of the room. Or rather, he was smiling quietly at people while his fiance Rae sold them for him. Either way, it's a good book you should order. Left on a coffee table it will make people turn off tv and discuss ideas.

I think I saw Top Shelf's Brett Warnock running by, but I'm not positive. I waved just in case. Then publisher/English teacher Leonard Wong dropped by, having ventured out from Vancouver. He told of a good comics show in Calgary, Alberta coming up, and I thought, "hmmm." Just as I'm thinking "where's all them retailers?", Manda Fisher from The Splash Pag-- I mean, MUSE in Montana came by. I'm not sure why she was there, I don't quite buy her statement that it only takes six hours to drive there from Missoula. (In fact Mapquest says it takes 7 hours, 14 minutes--hah!) Okay, still shorter than I thought. The baby and I go over to see "Unca Ford" Gilmore, and he and Johnson take pictures of her with Dave's prop pipe in her mouth. As soon as one of them sends me those images, I'll put it in here.

Over at the end of the row, Dark Horse's Diana Schutz and DC's Bob Schreck were working their ways through a neverending line of portfolio reviews. I felt for 'em, I was ready to leave after just doing one--it was hard to make out what was happening on the page and I had to go back and talk about rudiments of drawing rather than fine points of storytelling. I tried to send her over to Lieber next, but she countered:" I've heard he's really strict!" After I had just essentially said Learn How to Draw, I can't imagine what Steve might have possibly lowered the boom with.

Probably the highlight of the show was some good talking time with Howard Chaykin, where I got some great art direction. I took him a printout of a pinup from the next Escapist (from Dark Horse!) that I was working on. He liked it, and then showed me how I could get more out of the piece and make it more like the old magician posters I was trying to emulate. You know, once in a while, letting someone else think for you is really, really nice, especially when they know what they're talking about.

As things wrapped up it was showing-off time, so I took Allison over to Brian Bendis and Greg Rucka, both seasoned baby-owners. Bendis had just recently given me advice on using bicycle baby trailers, and I told him I picked one up. Then Rucka and I compared notes since his daughter Dashiell is only four days younger than Allie. We agreed we both had geniuses, and left it at that.

On the way out Jill and I saw Lieber carting a comics longbox like some Sad Sack, and let him pile it onto the baby stroller. Then he suckered us into taking all of his stuff back to Portland so he could float freely around the city all devil-may-care. That drive back wasn't as nice as the one there. Most of the way it was raining hard, and Allison had slept so much at the show that she couldn't nod off as usual. Then something possessed us to go to an Indian restaurant that was half truckstop-lounge. Not the quality Indian food you usually expect, made worse by smoke drifting in from the bar. Except for a couple of Eastern water pitchers and the music, the place was not unlike the Mexican restaurant it obviously had been before. The men's bathroom still said "Caballeros" on the door. After leaving the usual thing happened; two exits further down we saw a cornucopia of dining establishments that we wouldn't have left smelling like smoke. The important thing is, we got home eventually.

This weekend I'll be revving up to do the whole thing again, but this time only mere minutes away at Richard Finn's famous Portland show. I'm going to be fresh as a daisy, so come on out and bring your sketchbooks.


Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The Secret to Successful Cartooning 

Is apparently, listening to the syndicated radio show Loveline. By strange coincidence, I mentioned that I work to it in my interview at Sequential Tart, and at the same time artist Casey Jones refers to it as a cornerstone of his schedule in his interview at Comic Book Resources.

Search your dial at 10:00 Sunday through Thursday. Sit down at the drawing board and listen. See if you don't suddenly produce work like never before. I might start compiling a list of cartoonists who are known to work to the background of Adam and Drew soon.


Talking Tart 

You've tolerated me talking about myself this long, so go over to Sequential Tart and read the best interview I've ever done, conducted by Barb Lien Cooper. Instead of the usual stumbling all over my thoughts, I get out a few things I believe about comics clearly and forcefully. This may never happen again, so go. Go!!!


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