Comicbooks: Modern Mythology?

Not All

Three-headed Buddha statue. I
Photo by Varun Tandon on Unsplash

The latest version of Opera doesn’t keep any cookies, including passwords. Getting back here took much time. Now I’m very late!

Opera’s loss…

Some are amateur in both art and writing, but the others can fit the idea.

The Legion of Superheroes 

I’ve been a fan of this for more than three decades, but it’s been around since 1958. They were created by  SF legend Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino. Over the years, many others have both written and drawn them.

Readers know ultimately Computo is an evil being, kills one of Triplicate Girl. Mordru is an ancient sorcerer with a fear of being underground… for stories set in the far future they have quite a past!

Some could argue these stories are known only to their readers… but outside Norse myth fans and readers of the Thor comicook is Ragnarok common? How about the Fenris wolf? Ygradsil, the World Tree?

Different song, same dance.

Superman

Some say there are many Jesus metaphors in Superman. I find that funny. Like me, the creators of the character, Jerry Siegal and fellow Canadian Joe Shuster, are also Jewish. So’s Jesus… but this isn’t meant to be a theological debate.

More people know Superman than the Legion. Ask many strangers and they’ll know Superman, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and Kryptonite. A big chunk of them will know Jimmy Olsen and Perry White. The Daily Planet is a modern–day Mount Olympus.

As I said, he has Jesus metaphors thanks to his death and resurrection to life. He’s also the first superhero, the inspiration for all to come.

Superman has become part of our zeitgeist the way Zeus was to Ancient Greece. The exact stories aren’t important, but we remember the characters.

Retcons

“Retroactive Continuity” is when due to an event everything you knew about a character is suddenly changed to reflect a new interpretation. The killer of The Bat-Man’s parents changed often like this, and whether they’re caught. Superman’s power level was sometimes lowered, or some abilities removed, some events (like the deaths of Ma and Pa Kent) get changed too.

Mythology is like that. I’m not an expert, but I took some Mythology classes at University. This was over 30 years ago. Correct me if needed :

In the Greek Pantheon, many of the goddesses now called Zeus’ daughters were his wives first. They were the goddess of a region until Greece conquered them. To smooth over the takeovers, Zeus became their spouse.

Over time, the mythology got rewritten and changed.

Many years from now, some comicbooks may be unearthed and thought of as our modern mythology.

Writing For Comicbooks

A bookcase of comicbooks.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

I’ve been a full-time comicbook reader since I was 13. I read my first book when I was 7 when a dog-eared copy of an issue of The Brave And The Bold came into my possession.

I’ve had many RPG publications of the superhero variety. I founded an APA about comicbooks in 1990 and a zine about them in 2007. In 2009 it won an award here in Canada. In part, a series I read in the 1990s is an influence on my novel.

With all these influences and past ones and my writing skills, you’d think I’d be a lock to write comicbooks.

You’d be wrong

I was successful with one short script, but every other I’ve tried failed.

(Many writers would only hype themselves as successful. Not me. I admit –and own — my gaffes.)

1999

This was the year of my sole success in writing the script for a short story in a comicbook.

It was for an erotica anthology a friend asked me to contribute to.

That’s not a genre I’m comfortable writing. In fact, I’ve never been able to again.

I soldiered through, putting the smallest of adult scenes, and for the lack of a less bizarre term, I wrote a literate erotica tale.

My friend liked it. His editor… not so much. The important thing, but paid.

Steampunk Revolutions

Steampunk Revolutions

In 2014 I tried again. I knew very little about the steampunk genre, but I thought I had a good story idea.

I never finished it. Still haven’t. I’ve broken one of Heinlein’s Laws (finish what you start).

The Future?

Maybe I’ll do better in the superhero genre since I read that a lot. I won’t try it yet, however. I have my novel and other projects to finish first.

Wrestling: an Alternate Fighting Style

May Not Be What You Think

All I could find royalty-free was teenagers in amateur wrestling, but this image is for professional wrestling.
Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash

Before you brand me a fool. hear me out! I’m not saying this is real. I’ve been watching it for nearly 40 years and always knew it was orchestrated. It’s like stuntmen in movies, except matches sometimes go for longer.

No matter, wrestlers can show you a lot about developing a character (a man was always seen as a Russin was revealed when he died as French Canadian), getting others to care about an upcoming match, and even some basic storytelling (yes, a good match tells a story). There’s much to learn.

Origin of This in my Novel

When I created Rigger, Mortiz, and Shivver decades ago, puns were a huge part of the name choices.

When I created Alex Rigger, I thought of him as a former wrestler, ‘Oil Rigger’. 

I’m what folks call a ‘smark’ (a smart mark. Smart enough to know what’s happening, but still a mark for my favorite performers). 

Why a Wrestler?

Some people I know would wonder why I’m writing another wrestler (I’ve created a few). Thing is there is a saturation of former boxers and martial artist characters. I’m trying something different. 

Style

The fighting style is different. Some of the moves are flashy, but couldn’t be used in the real world. They would cause fatalities if they were. 

A lot of real fights would be punches and kicks, with some basic slams thrown in, dropkicks and clotheslines too. 

Another interesting thing about fights using wrestling: as with many Kung Fu fights, many wrestlers have a different style. Some of the bigger guys don’t do aerial moves… some of them do, but it’s considered unusual in the US and just looks strange in Japan. In writing, we just strive for uniqueness. 

In the hand of a good writer (hope I am), this could be interesting. 

I’m going to try to post here more often. I’ll wait until I’ve done a few more to state a schedule, so I don’t let readers down. 

Why Ninja Writing Will Change Your Life

Ninja Writers logo

Your writing life anyway. It changed mine.

Before Ninja Writing

I began a novel in 2013. I finished the first draft in early 2014, and didn’t touch it again until November 2018.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I’ve been in the Montreal chapter of NaNoWriMo since 2012 and won it four years in a row. All the times I’ve done it filled me with confidence to go to the step of going forward to a finished novel.

One problem:

It’s 2019. I Still Haven’t Finished It

In 2009 I won a Prix Boreal/Aurora for a newsletter I write called The Original Universe. Because of medical and other reasons I stopped. I want to relaunch it. As a result, I started to write it ages ago. There’s a problem with that, however…

Logo for the Prix Boreal/Aurora Award
Logo for the Prix Boreal/ Aurora Award

It Sat on My HD Forever

Ninja Writing to the rescue! Fist, so that you don’t feel that I’m inventing a term:

What Ninja Writing Is

There are a few different methods named this term. The one I use was created by Shaunta Grimes. She was inspired by the prolific writer Ray Bradbury.



“Ray Bradbury”
 by Alan Light is licensed under CC BY 2.0

During his life he wrote a lot of short stories, collected into books like The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes… many short stories I’ve read in many publications.

He was a big proponent of the notion of writing and reading daily:

Based on his words, we write for 10 minutes every day, and read for another 10.

Why 10? Many potential writers get intimidated and overwhelmed by the idea of writing for longer.

If you write 10 minutes per day it’s easier to do it than to ignore it. With a time commitment like that, you may find you get a lot done. You can then work on other things.

Thanks to this:

My novel is now into editing. I’ve started Act Two.

My newsletter is now mostly written.

Give this method a try. The results may surprise you. Your writing, because you’re doing it regularly, will also improve.

Changing Views

Over time my views on different facets of writing have changed, in some ways contradicting other, previous posts on this blog:

Reading While Writing

Here’s my past view on this. Things changed from a quote by Stephen King. I don’t like King as a person thanks to a meeting years ago, but I still think he was right about this:


“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. …”

Stephen King

I modify this a bit: I write –and read — fiction and non.

Each one uses different ‘muscles’, different genres. different styles.

So: I read both now, each with their respective style.

Work For Free

I posted two differing views on this here and here.

Well, I don’t write anything for free like Wil, with exceptions: I still write for the newsletter at work, this blog, and Medium… but when I join their Partner Program,  I have a chance to earn on it. 

So,

I may seem wishy-washy, but I have a method.

GOR: The good, the bad, and the Ugly

I haven’t posted here in a long while. Medium with it’s bigger audience lured me away. I’m trying to fix that…

The art for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; a Western movie by Sergio Leonne.
I don’t have the artist’s name. Please, enlighten me so I can give proper credit.

Cue the Ennio Morricone music…

The Gor novels are mostly forgotten nowadays (although Politically Incorrect Games [P.I.G.] have released a Gor game; l have to find the email). I’m not surprised. The series began well, got bad very fast, and became worse after.


The Good

Gor is also called Counter-Earth. It’s in the same orbit as Earth, just equidistant on the opposite side of the sun, so we’ll never see it. The planet has a lower gravity than Earth.

The civilizations are a mixture of Roman, Greek, Native American and Viking, other cultures too, transplanted by spaceship from our Earth by an insectoid race that they call the Priest Kings. They are allowed to advance in architectural, agricultural and medical skills (including life extension), but are forced to remain primitive in the fields of transportation, communication and weaponry (at approximately the level of Classical Mediterranean civilization) due to restrictions on technology imposed by the Priest-Kings. This limitation is imposed to ensure the safety of both the Priest-Kings, as well as the other indigenous and transplanted beings on Gor who would otherwise possibly come to harm due to humans’ belligerent tendencies.

This was the first novel. Written by John Norman — the pseudonym of Dr. John Lange, a professor of philosophy and a classical scholar — it drew a lot from the Barsoom novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs (although poorly marketed, the movie John Carter was based on the series.

John Norman’s main character here, Tarl Cabot, was loosely inspired by John Carter (I may be wrong about that).

This was the Good. Then it went bad, and quickly.

The Bad

“I’m not for censorship but I am for strategies which marginalize stuff that works to objectify women and suggests women enjoy being beaten.-


Michael Moorcock


Around the fourth book, it got its own style. Unfortunately, not a good one: women were often slaves, often beaten until they were docile and submissive (often by the hero of the novel) and fell in love with the men who beat them.

This may make them popular among the alt-right, but for those of us more enlightened, it’s disgusting.

I stopped reading the series then, but from what I’ve read on Wikipedia, it gets worse.

and The Ugly

Science fiction/fantasy author Michael Moorcock has suggested that the Gor novels should be placed on the top shelves of bookstores
Later books became (I’m quoting Wikipedia here) “sadomasochistic pornography”. The author claimed to draw inspiration from philosophy, Earth history, Homer, Freud and Nietzsche… then came in with… this.

Surprisingly, this series not only got reprinted in several languages, and is a strong seller in Ebooks… but before I did research for this article, I’d mostly forgotten.

Like What You Read? Get More!      

A Long Time Coming Indeed (The Documentary of a Legend)

Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)

Courage (for Hugh MacLennan) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)G

(First posted on Medium.)

Gord Downey, the singer-frontman of the band The Tragically Hip, lost his battle with brain cancer last week. He was 53.

Last night, CTV here in Canada aired the documentary about his farewell tour across Canada, ending in his hometown Kingston, Ontario.

Many Americans don’t know the band because they are more a Canadian phenomenon.

Full disclosure here: in the past, I wasn’t a huge fan of the band — but as I listened to all of their hits, I realized that I WAS.

Before anybody else points it out: writing songs is hard. I can be poetic in my writings, but I’m not good at poetry… and songwriting is even more difficult. I tried to write some in the past, but I wasn’t very good.

Gord Downey wrote songs for over 30 years — for 14 albums and more EPs and singles.

Even more admirable: his body was failing more and more every day; he still performed a concert tour across Canada — plus he performed 90 songs, where most people sing 45 songs at most.

He was one of the hardest working men in the music industry, and one who used his celebrity to bring more notice to the mistreatment of our First Nations brethren.

My changed view on NaNoWriMo

I’ve done NaNo since 2003 and tried Camp NaNoWriMo this past July. The

Things Have Changed

Things Have Changed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

first four times I ‘won’ the 50 K challenge, but didn’t achieve it ever since, and didn’t achieve the goal for Camp either. I didn’t even get halfway there.

My Changed View

What I’ve come to realize is that I’m now putting too much pressure on myself to complete the marathon, to the point that I’m stalled to actually do so.

So, I’ll plan to try a different approach and see how it works for me:  from now on I’ll use the start of a NaNo event to spur me to start a project (a novel in November, something else for Camp) but I won’t concern myself with completing the target by the deadline date.

Maybe by not pressuring myself I’ll succeed at it more often again. I want to always finish the book that I start, instead of leaving it to be forgotten when the event is over. Some of my past projects I already plan to revisit, some of them I need to rewrite from scratch because I no  longer have my backups. Just as well, as the new versions won’t feel as clunky.

An Important Caveat

Note that I’m not bashing NaNoWriMo in the least. I’ve been a part of it since nearly its start (I think there were three before I began) and it can help an author to get the words out of their head – and  my view may change yet again, many times in fact– but for now this is what I’ll try, and see how it works.

“Don’t Get it Right. Just Get it Written.” James Thurber

Blog

 

Pat Flewelling, on alternative plotting

It’s quid pro quo time.. over a year ago I posted on Pat’s blog (here‘s a link to the blog), now she’s returning the favor.

With me writing for Camp NaNoWriMo right now, this is an appropriate post.

I’m not as prolific, but few people are!

At last count, I’ve written 59 novel-length manuscripts since 1993, and I’ve just come back from a weekend-long novel writing marathon with the better half of # 60. Some have been completely pre-planned. Some were written off the cuff. Most haven’t been published, because they just haven’t been solid enough.

When I thoroughly plotted the story in advance, one of two things would always

The Marathon

The Marathon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

happen: either I would deviate wildly off course, or I would get so bored that I’d just stop writing altogether. I often mistook a tangent as some kind of award-winning plot-twist, and having to delete 10-15% of the manuscript was a real killer to my motivation. And sometimes, I was just bored, because there was no sense of discovery left over, no room to play around. I was choking my own creativity.

At the other extreme, stories that had no predestination took longer to finish. I’d often spend hours staring slightly cross-eyed at the ceiling, trying to remember where I was taking that last thought. I’d also ended up spending countless hours editing after the fact, removing tens of pages of verbal dross.

But for this year’s novel writing marathon, I decided to try something new. I planned only so much, but I also left major plot points blank.

I thought of it like a vacation itinerary. Let’s say that I knew I was leaving Montreal on a Monday at 7:00 a.m., and that I had to be in Toronto by Saturday at noon. Let’s say, furthermore, that I also wanted to visit Ottawa, Brockville, Kingston, and Oshawa, before finally heading into the Big Smoke. As long as I got to Ottawa by 4:00 p.m., I could take any route I wanted. I could take the back roads and enjoy a longer drive through the country, or I could stick to the highways and get there sooner, then park the car and stroll around on foot before leaving at 4:00. I wouldn’t decide which route to take to Ottawa until I was in the car with the radio on and a coffee in hand.

During the marathon, I discovered not only that I actually stuck to the plan, but I wrote in an unforeseen major character, who made the plot more engaging and resolved a lot of plot holes. I finally had a planner that would direct my story toward a fun and logical conclusion, but one that left plenty of opportunities to make stuff up as I went along. Most surprisingly of all, because I had a known destination and unknown roads, I found my narrative pacing became the strongest it’s ever been.

But, after this many novels, I know that what works for one project doesn’t necessarily work for another. Likewise, what works for me may not work for you. All I can suggest is that you keep experimenting until you find what works best, and have fun with it along the way.