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Eric: A few notes from the road

It's been an excellent day, including returning a portable dishwasher I couldn't get to work (and a Tivo wireless adaptor that wouldn't work with my model -- it's been replaced with the correct one), hanging out and doing things with friends, and learning that contrary to all expectations, Constantine didn't suck.

(Keanu Reeves is an actor I hate, but despite the hair he got the body language pretty solidly down, and while he remains... well... Keanu Reeves the director used his wooden delivery as a means of playing off the atmosphere, and most of the time it worked. And the depiction of Hell was perfect. Also, the actress who played Gabriel deserves a raise. Or several raises.)

Right now, I'm in a Barnes and Noble, hanging out and typing and junk. I won't be back to my place before midnight at this rate, so I'm giving you the update from here. (Weds, of course, gave us an earlier snark, so you haven't been snarkless.)

I saw some sketches from Sekret Projekt J tonight, and they're fantastic. I've also seen the art for the first four Gossamer Commons strips, and they're phenomenal. They're truly phenomenal.

One thing I have to add to Weds's snark: contacts. I've managed to make a tight network of contacts in the last several months. I've managed to do it, essentially, by writing often and apparently being moderately insightful or entertaining. A better way to do it, for someone who wants to crack the wide world of comics significance, is to draw often and well and be funny and consistent.

I've said it before -- someone who does webcomics but doesn't make it their primary source of income doesn't owe us anything. That hasn't changed. But people who read webcomics owe you nothing without regular updates. If you want to build up readers and emotions and have people care deeply about you over the course of time -- and hand in hand with that, create those mythical contacts -- then do your comic. Do it every day you say it'll be there. Make it something people bookmark and read on a regular basis, because they count on it. Give it time. Talk it up. Make sure people know it's there and make sure new ones keep coming.

Or, as Weds put it, better than I... "Shut the fuck up and draw something."

I don't get paid for Websnark. I'll never be paid for Websnark. And some days I have no gas in the tank for writing it at all, and I admit it. But even on those days I'll post something by midnight saying I have nothing. I have something, and I try, on at least a semi-regular basis, to have something good.

That, in the end, is the whole reason anyone has ever heard of this. And why I'm able to get startlingly good artists to help me bring my own webcomics to life.

Oh, and oddly enough, soymilk decaf lattes with a shot of sugar free vanilla? Are really good. I know -- it surprised me too.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at February 26, 2005 10:40 PM

Comments

Comment from: Mike Escutia posted at February 26, 2005 11:46 PM

Were you at the B&N in Manchester?

We really should get together one of these days, you know. Preferably while Frobozz is still in town. :)

Comment from: GiantPanda posted at February 27, 2005 9:10 AM

I dont know about the update thing. Two of my favourite webcomics have/had pretty irregular updates, Its about girls and Nowhere girl. And I find something inherently attractive with the premise of updating a chapter at a time instead of a page at a time.

Otis Frampton said it well in his interview with Broken frontier

"As I said, with a weekly or daily comic, there is a feeling that you need to be entertaining or funny or exciting in each installment. This can be a detriment to someone who is really working on a long-form story, and the concern is in the whole, rather than the parts."

http://www.brokenfrontier.com/lowdown/details.php?id=88

Ofcourse "Shut the fuck up and draw something." is true regardless.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at February 27, 2005 9:45 AM

Wait. A portable dishwasher? We have a countertop dishwasher, but I've never heard of a portable dishwasher.

Comment from: Dragonshark posted at February 27, 2005 10:42 AM

It was impossible to add to Wednesday's comment because hers was style grace and fury, signifying everything about mindless critics that make up crap and pretend they know what they're talking about. (Really, if Wednesday had accidentally run them over later, would the world be a poorer place?)

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But "shut the f*ck up and draw something" is classic.

Comment from: Brandon E. posted at February 27, 2005 7:05 PM

Really? I thought Keanu Reeves was his normal terrible acting self. I saw it and was incredibly annoyed that they couldn't even get the charecter of Constantine anywhere near John Constantine from Hellblazer. Granted that was writing as much as acting that screwed up, but it still bothered me.

I think Reeves can do two things in films, he can act clueless and confused (which is why he fit into the first Matrix movie alright, Neo is supposed to be confused and overwhelmed) and he can attempt to be a badass by having no emotions. Thats what he did here. Thats why his charecter felt all wrong. He was incredibly two demensional when compared to the comic Constantine.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at February 27, 2005 10:47 PM

Give Keanu credit. He demonstrated an ability to do "emotional and overwhelmed" in Permanent Record.

Comment from: larksilver posted at February 28, 2005 12:07 AM

Not having read more than one or two of the books (they're on the ever-growing list, I swear!), I am perhaps not as emotionally invested in the "real" John Constantine as you all are. Sometimes, having read the book, and even loved the book, is *not* helpful when it comes to enjoying the movie without preconceived notions. Brings to mind the time we watched "Something Wicked This Way Comes" in Middle School, two weeks after the librarian had recommended it to me to read, thus completely rocking my 11-year-old world. Totally ruined the whole movie-going experience, but I digress.

I'm the one in my family who's always picking the film apart (drives my sisters crazy - I swear, they'll watch just about anything on film, particularly if it has a "hottie" in it). However, I came away with a feeling similar to Eric's.... Constantine, well, didn't suck. Unlike some of my fellow posters here, I didn't find Keanu to be as wooden as he sometimes is... that flat persona he wears seemed to convey quite nicely that of a man who truly doesn't *get it* about love, self-sacrifice, and hope in the face of it all. From what I *have* read of the Constantine character (man, that summer-off stint at the comic book store just wasn't long enough!), the matter-of-fact way Keanu's on-screen Constantine handled things which would rock the rest of us is dead-on. It's SUPPOSED to be "old hat" to him. Not so much "bad-ass" as "same shit, different day."

For a Hollywood attempt at a hard-hitting comic book (or ANY comic book), this wasn't such a bad showing at all. I think we're pre-disposed to dislike any attempt at our favorite characters, or at least, it's a trap I've seen many fall into. Looking at such delightful attempts as that Fantastic Four attempt starring Jay Underwood (Jay UNDERWOOD? talk about wooden delivery, for crying out loud, he's famous for being android-boy!), and even some of the (cough) Batman series... this one wasn't half-bad at all.

It didn't fall into the traps so often seen in big-screen comic books:

1) They didn't completely throw out the story, rewrite all of the characters, or change the setting so much as to leave it unrecognizable.

2) They didn't equate "comic book" with "cheap" and actually invested enough cash on actors, special effects, and general film quality to give the film a fighting chance.

3) The film didn't *require* a movie-goer to be a fan of the books. My sisters didn't even know it WAS a comic book, until later, when I mentioned it, and they were able to enjoy it without bringing along a textbook for reference. Sometimes, movies built for comic book geeks are totally unapproachable by the rest of the world. This one wasn't.

It's a summer blockbuster, folks. Yes, it's based on those gritty Vertigo comics, but the idea is not to (yet again) chase non-comic-book readers AWAY from comics, but rather to get them to walk into comic book stores and buy the darn things, to make it clear to people that not all comic book stores are like the one in the Simpsons, and that there's something in there for everybody. And, like it or not, Keanu's vast popularity as an action hero/badass/whatever can do that.

So, yay for Constantine! heh. A successful comic book movie that's not focused around angsty teenagers! No "awwwww, the world doesn't get me but I look hot in these shades" b.s. No "hey, we totally re-wrote huge portions of the reality of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, but isn't she cute?" stuff either. If (yummy though he is, mind you) the comic book world could adapt to, and even mostly *accept* a 6-foot tall Wolverine or a SHORT, sweet-faced Storm... this Constantine will not manage to completely destroy Vertigo/DC/Hellblazer, either. In fact, it may do what it's supposed to do - and get people reading, writing, and DRAWING. And shouldn't we be applauding that?

Okay, shutting up now.

Comment from: gwalla posted at February 28, 2005 1:46 AM

Tilda Swinton is indeed an excellent actress. She's been slumming it with disturbing regularity lately, though.

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at February 28, 2005 2:35 AM

Wait. A portable dishwasher? We have a countertop dishwasher, but I've never heard of a portable dishwasher.

Growing up in Tampa, back in the '70s, we had a portable dishwasher. It was exactly like a built-in dishwasher, except that it had wheels. We would wheel it from one corner of the kitchen over to the kitchen sink, whereupon we would pull out this retractable hose thingie and hook it up to our kitchen faucet when we wanted to do a load of dishes.

If you think about it, it makes a kind of sense for people whose houses were built without dishwashers, and who can't really afford to get rid of any kitchen cabinet space to accomodate one.

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