Thinking out loud: Angry City

Angry City

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. See, just about everybody and their mother is getting work at Tokyopop these days; Becky Cloonan, Alex de Campi… It goes on and on. So I got curious and checked Tokyopop’s submission guidelines. What they’re looking for is a story that will take at least three 160 page volumes to tell.


So I got to thinking about a story I’d like to tell in that format.

Angry City

Cities in Japan are gigantic, densely packed monstrosities of humanity. Bodies packed on top of bodies, building onto the city so they can pack in more bodies. As times goes on, cities grow larger, denser. One of them begins to think for itself. It becomes annoyed with the people living their.

Then it becomes angry.

And it lashes out.

In a matter of moments, the city decimates its own population, attacking with stone and steel and glass. When the dust settles, only a handful are left alive. They want to leave the city. They’re terrified.

But the city has another idea.

Angry City is the story of a group of survivors trying to escape a sentient city that is toying with them, hunting them, changing the landscape under their feet.

Angry City

All Hail…

The Chairmen of the Board. I’ve had one of their songs, “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” stuck in my head on a constant loop for almost twenty-four hours now, and I couldn’t be happier.

I’ll freely admit that I didn’t know dick about The Chairmen until yesterday, when the song in question (long one of my favorites) came on at work. I was finally driven to do some actual research. Go figure! I was astounded at how many Chairmen songs I recognize, and I was floored by the fact that they only recorded from 1970 to circa 1973. Now, my only regret is that I have to wait until payday to order their greatest hits collection.

So, here’s to The Chairmen of the Board and their masterful singer General Johnson. The desperate emotion of your vocals got me through one great big boring-ass Wednesday.

“Give me just a little more time, and our love will surely grow.”

Wednesday Crapola

Administrative Note: I’m trying to syndicate the column, but I’m not sure if I set it up correctly. For those who know about this stuff, could you check out the Live Feed link and let me know if it’s working. Also, if you have some clue why my archives aren’t working, could you let me know?

Boris slept the whole night through last night. That’s a miracle almost big enough to make me believe in God.

I’m about halfway through the second season of The Shield. Big thanks to Randy and Dave for letting me borrow their DVDs. Maybe I’ll be caught up by the time the fifth season starts.

Now that I’m not headed to Chicago, I’m headed to Beerland (again) on the 6th to catch the Flametrick Subs and Satan’s Cheerleaders. Y’know, if Schatzi would start playing shows again, I’d have another band to go see.

I might be back with more later. I have some story ideas I need to research.

Abort! Abort!

Just had a quick meeting with the Frequency Press folks. Looks like we won’t be in artist’s alley at Chicago after all. Danny and Zan decided (rightly, I think) to use the money we would have spent in airfare and hotels toward getting A Trip to Rundberg out in time for Wizard World Dallas.

Sorry if you were planning on coming out to see me (HA!). I’ll catch ya next time.

Killjoy Confetti, “The Fun Is”

Full Disclosure: I used to be in a band with Joy and Jill Gerwe, the respective drummer and guitarist for Muncie, Indiana band Killjoy Confetti. Joy, in fact, is probably the best friend I’ve ever had. For years, I wanted to tour the country in a rock band with these women. Later, I figured out this whole writing thing, and the rest is history.

Now, then.

I received my copy of The Fun Is a few weeks ago, a gift from Joy. Killjoy Confetti has one earlier record out, Into the Light, which they recorded when they were known as Arcade (a cease and desist order from Sony forced a name change). Into the Light, while rushed through the recording process and not the most competently played project, was full of a vital, foot-stomping energy, a pop record you couldn’t ignore. Into the Light was and remains one of my favorite records.

Then there’s The Fun Is

I’ll start with the cover art. Why not, huh? I’ll just say that I pity the poor record store clerk who has to ring this puppy up. It’s covered, and I mean covered, with barcodes. They overlap and intersect, and I have no idea if any of them is an actual barcode. The rest of the art is full of candy canes, fishing lures, pills, and a bullet. It looks like some vague attempt at being artistic, but I can’t be sure. The liner notes, such as they are, are meant to follow arches of color, but somebody didn’t feel like spending enough time in Illustrator to make it work.

Onto the disc!

The Fun Is opens with a slow build into “Standford Prison Experiment No. 2.” The only problem is, it doesn’t build to much of anything. The song simply drones, making such rich and intersting subject matter as the Stanford Prison Experiment sound downright boring.

Maybe this is the problem with The Fun Is. It’s much more competently played than Into the Light, while not being anything near as interesting. That’s a shame, because I get the feeling Killjoy Confetti was trying to be more interesting than entertaining with this record.

There’s some great stuff there, no doubt. Much of the vocal overplay between singer Carrie Conley and the Gerwe’s is incredible, especially the rising and falling vocal tremors on “Neer Neer”. Carrie’s voice falters often, though. She just don’t have the lungs yet. The interaction between the guitar and Lisa Fett’s bass is very accomplished. Those or things that can be said about bands like Rush and Jethro Tull, though, and those bands bore the crap outta me.

I really wanted to like this record. I love the people involved, and I loved what they used to be, but while their last record included such great tunes as “Holly,” “Closer to the Moon,” and “Slipper,” all I can say about the current disk is that some of the songs are pretty good. Still, The Fun Is will probably do well with those who fancy themselves artists and intellectuals. Us poor folks who have to live in this world, however, will have to hope for an Arcade reunion.

Highs: “Things I Wanna Do” “Neer Neer”

Lows: “Excuse the Blood” “Crooked Teeth”

Rating: 2/5

A New Week

That’s right folks, I can finally update regularly after a week of only posting about San Diego and how much my formatting and spelling sucks. I’m back!

Had a fun Frequency Press meeting last Thursday. We’ve found out that we’re going to have an artist’s alley table at Wizard World Chicago, and we’re left to prepare for it all last minute like. Shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but then I received a VERY exciting phone call that night. There’s a new writing thing on the horizon. I don’t think I can talk about it yet, but it’s pretty-damn cool. We’ll see where it goes.

Speaking of phone calls, I received a phone call from Sherry Heck and Mark Cheeseman on Saturday. I haven’t seen either of these people in seven years or more. They were calling from my ten year high school reunion, which I didn’t attend due to time, money, and interest factors. Didn’t think I’d be scolded for it.


Randy Lander tells me my con report is full of typos. Sorry about that, everybody. Anybody who wants to complain can find me at Wizard World Chicago in Artist Alley.

A Note on Format

Something wonky happened in the blogger code for the Friday/Saturday rundown. I’ve tried to fix it, but I need to search through the code to find the problem. I don’t feel like doing that, so just enjoy the changing font size.

The San Diego File: Friday and Saturday

I’m writing this at work, trying to squeeze in as much as I can during breaks and lunch. With any luck, I can get this out all lickity-split like.

FRIDAY (aka Hey Everybody! Meet Phil Hester)

After a breakfast at the strange-smelling little diner/convenience store beneath the Holiday Inn, Randy and I (Tess was feeling ill, so we let her sleep) hopped the shuttle to the convention center. Rick Spears and Rob G of Gigantic Graphic Novels were on the shuttle with us. I had some cash I had vowed to give Rob in exchange for page 100 of their new graphic novel, Dead West, and Rob apparently sat behind me the whole trip, saying “Naaaaaate. Naaaaaaaaaate,” and still failed to get my tired-ass attention.

So, we hit the convention right at ten. Randy was supposed to meet Alex de Campi, writer of the brilliant Smoke for IDW, for coffee at ten, so we decided not to wait in the big-ass line today.Big mistake.Little did we know that we weren’t allowed into the convention center until the entire big-ass line had snaked around the building and into the convention center.

We finally made our way through the doors at almost half-past, and we immediately split up, Randy to make his coffee date, and I to pay Rob G the cash I owed him.While I was at the Gigantic Graphic Novels booth, I also picked up a copy of Rick and Rob’s new zombie western, Dead West. Once I returned home on Sunday, I read through this story in a single sitting, and it was incredible. You need to pick this one up today!

The rest of the early morning was spent walking around, snapping pictures, and seeing what I could see. Tower records had a replica of the car from Scarface……

While the Pokemon booth was raffling off a Volkswagon made to look like Pikachu.Yeah, you read that right. Here’s proof.

I eventually met up with Randy again at the My Monkey’s Name is Jennifer booth. I picked up the first issue from Ken Knudsten, a talented man with a bizarre Huey Louis fetish. Along with my purchase, I received a free sketch…

…and a shot of vodka!

With a warm sensation in my chest and tummy, I scooted over a few feet see Ken’s boothmate, Jimmy Ma. Jimmy has a book out called Burn. I loved the art, so I picked up a copy from him. I also earned a free sketch for this, so here’s what Jimmy made me. I asked for something creepy, and I got something both creepy and sexy…

A Thursday Aside: I forgot a few of mine and Randy’s more interesting moments from Thursday…We ran to the Oni booth, where Randy requested a sketch from Capote in Kansas artist Chris Samnee. It was amazing to watch Chris work. We must have thought he finished that sketch a million times, but Chris just kept on trucking on it. Go check it out at The Fourth Rail.

We stopped at the Ait/PlanetLar booth a few times, each time to see somebody else. I chatted to Joe Casey there, who’s sporting a new shaven hairstyle. We’ve both got graphic novels under option with the same production studio, so we were able to chat about that a bit. I promised to bring Joe a copy of Drive on Friday (which I did).

Okay. Back to Friday.

Midway through the day, I was walking around the convention floor, and I decided to pass by the Diamond Direct booth to see who was signing. Much to my surprise, I found both Adam Baldwin and Ron Glass from Firefly/Serenity there without a line stretching out before them. I spoke to them both briefly and snapped a quick picture.
Two incredibly nice guys, or just good actors?
Later, I caught up with Randy, and we popped in the Quick Draw! Panel. Quick Draw is almost two hours of cartoon improve, as Mark evener puts Sergey arsines, Scott Shaw, Kyle Baker, and Jeff Smith through their paces, making them draw all sorts of wacky things off the top of his head. This marks the third year I’ve attended this panel, and it’s been entertaining as hell every time. This will probably be the last time I attend, however, as I noticed a lot of repeated exercises and jokes.
The rest of our day on the floor passed in a blur. Randy introduced me to the people at Cellar Door Publishing, and I was quick to slip them a To the Last Man pitch. I returned the favor by introducing Randy to Adam Fortier of Speakeasy. Much to Randy’s enjoyment, Adam didn’t seem to know what the hell The Fourth Rail was. If Randy had a slim chance of getting on the Speakeasy comp list, he would completely blow it later that night. More on this later.
The last stop I remember was another trip to Tony Moore’s booth, which he was sharing with B. Clay Moore and Jeremy Haun. We spoke to Jeremy for a few minutes. I handed him a Cold packet and bought my final sketch of the con from him.

Angry or happy? Who’s to say?!
And now, dinner.
The Fish Market. I’ve spoken of it before. So has Randy. Simply put, The Fish Market is the best seafood restaurant I’ve ever been to. Randy and I met a few of his friends, all fellow retailers, and we hit The Market like spit on Scott Kurtz (He got spit on at the convention, see. Jesus, I’m tasteless. Love ya, Scott!). Since I was odd man out (though I had fun mini-conversations with everyone), I took the chance to annihilate my Pacific Yellowtail, rice, and steamed veggies.

Really, wouldn’t you just attack this?
After an extended recovery period in the hotel, Randy and I went to drunken pro central, otherwise known as the Hyatt Bar. The drinks were expensive, but the company was good. We ran into Alex again, who introduced us to Frazier Irving (artist on Klarion the Witch Boy) and David Marquez (artist on de Campi’s geek-Cthulhu romp Necrocomicon). I especially enjoyed meeting Dave. He’s a very talented artist from Austin who I’ve been begging to work with for two years or so. I can’t believe I had to go all the way to San Diego to meet another Austinite!
But the night grew stranger…
It was during the second or third round that Randy and I ran into Bill Williams, publisher of Lone Star Press and former owner of my local comic shop. A few moments later, we ran into Les Weiler and Joe Riley of Austin-based Goathead Productions. Randy and I ended up spending the evening with Les and Bill, bullshitting over geek stuff and getting hammered. I eventually decided to leave when I went to take a piss and lost everybody, although I did run into Kara long enough to learn he lost the best cover artist Eisner to James Jean. Get ’em next year, Tony!

Oh, I almost forgot the best part! As we’re drinking with Alex and Frazier, Randy waves to a guy who looks kinda familiar. “Hey, Phil! C’mere!” Randy says, and the guy walks right over. “Alex. Frazier. I want you to meet Phil Hester. He wrote The Coffin and Deep Sleeper.” Handshakes are exchanged and smiles traded, then the guys (who I’m thinking looks really familiar) says sheepishly…

“Actually, I’m Adam Fortier from Speakeasy Comics.”
After Adam shuffles off, Alex dismisses the event with a shrug. “He shouldn’t have answered to Phil.”
And onto Saturday!
SATURDAY (aka I’m gonna go throw up now)
Got to the convention center pretty late on Saturday. Not much of note today, really. Spent most of the day hanging out with Randy and watching more people give him sketches. Did very little shopping, mostly looking for a present for Shawna. A few things of note, however…
I love Coheed and Cambria. They’re currently my favorite band. Now, I could always tell when they were signing at their booth during the weekend (they’re also putting out a comic) because of the incredibly long line of people dressed in black. It was a shock, then, to walk by their booth on Saturday to find lead singer Claudio Sanchez just hanging out and nobody noticing. I talked to him for a few minutes and got a quick photo taken with him. I then walked away all glowing-like.

Nate has a fanboy moment.

The only panel I attended on Saturday was the horror comics panel. Some of you may remember my essay “A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures” that I wrote for Brian Keene’s blog. Well, it looks to me like most of the panel agreed with me. Yay for me! I also learned that I need to see Irreversible real soon.
Made a last stop at the Gigantic table to pick up my artwork from Rob G. I also handed him a Cold packet and begged him to work on it. He seemed kinda excited. Could it really happen?
Another meal at Anthony’s (deep fried catfish strips this time) down, and Randy, Tess, and I took off for the Honey Bee Hive once again. This time we were off to see the Scott Morse Jim Mahfood live art show. Man, what a ride! Watching two incredible artists painting anything on everything while people drink and dance like animals. We didn’t leave until two or so, and we stumble home in time for me to call home to tell Shawna when to pick me up at the airport. My message (left at 4:30am Austin time) ended with the words “I love you. I’m gonna go puke now.”
And that’s what I did.
After that, I went to sleep, then woke up at 7:00am to catch my 9:00 flight.
Well, another Comic-Con come and gone, a few hundred more dollars spent, and a bunch of drinks imbibed. Can’t wait ’til next year!

Oh, and a final thought…