Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009 - The Year That Was

2009's not quite over yet, but since I'll be out of town with my family for the holidays, I'm doing this post a little early. I made a post at the start of the year that looked ahead to 2009, so I thought I'd see how things shook out.

Right off the bat, I notice that the super-hero book that Yildiray Cinar and I were planning to do never happened. You can probably guess why: Yildiray has been getting work from DC. It started with a couple fill-ins, and led to the Ravager co-feature in Teen Titans, and when that wraps up he's got a big gig lined up. I can't wait until it's announced, because it's the perfect fit for him. I'm hoping to work with Yildiray again, but chances are very slim that it would be on a regular series that we co-created. What's more likely is that I'll twist his arm to contribute to a short story or something like that, in between his DC work.

It's painful to see that Jon Sommariva and I still haven't wrapped up GEMINI. We managed to etch out one issue in all of 2009. Not good.

The crime mini-series that I mentioned with Koray Kuranel is still in the works. He's drawn the entire first issue and is working on the second. I don't feel bad about this one not being out yet. It hasn't been solicited, so we're not late. There's no schedule we're trying to keep. Koray has a busy career as a storyboard artist, so this comic book project is just something he's doing for fun in his spare time.

DYNAMO 5 #25 marked the end of the series as a regular, ongoing series. And it also marked the departure of Mahmud as the regular series artist. But as co-creator of the book, Mahmud will still be involved. He'll be drawing covers and character designs, and he sees all the art for the book as it comes in. As readers of this blog know, the book is far from dead. Julio Brilha is hard at work on DYNAMO 5: SINS OF THE FATHER, an all-new 5-issue mini-series that will debut this summer. It features the Dynamo 5 kids in their new super-hero identities, and the story stems from an important battle in Captain Dynamo's life, which we'll see in flashbacks. And there are lots of cool guest stars.

I also got my first work for DC Comics in a long time in 2009, writing a short Batman story for their latest Holiday Special. My editor on that story was Eddie Berganza, the very first DC editor to ever give me work, way back in 1998 (I think -- it might have been late 1997). It was great working with Eddie again, and I hope to get a chance to work with him again soon.

I contributed to a few Marvel comics in 2009, starting with two stories for their "War of Kings" cosmic event. These two stories (focusing on Lilandra and Crystal) were originally published online, and then collected in the 2-issue WAR OF KINGS: WARRIORS mini-series. My editor on those stories was Ben Morse, an assistant editor in the Digital Department. Ben's a great guy and my stories (along with two written by Christos Gage) were the first stories he actually edited. You couldn't tell, though. Ben handled himself like a veteran editor. And by that I mean he rewrote my story and didn't return my calls. No, no -- I'm kidding, of course. On both counts. Working with Ben was great, and hopefully that wasn't the last time.

Ben actually commissioned me to write another story that hasn't been announced yet. It's too bad he had to pass it off to another editor, because it features characters Ben and I are both especially fond of, and it would've been fun to see it through to publication together.

The editor who ended up with the story is Daniel Ketchum, who I had never worked with before. Daniel's a great guy, and very easy to work with. As this still-undisclosed story takes shape, Daniel also hired me to write a short X-MEN Christmas story which will be published as part of Marvel's Digital Comics line next week.

2009 also marked what I hope is the start of my screenwriting career. In the past six months I've written a movie screenplay, a pilot for a proposed TV series, and started work on a second movie screenplay. I should clarify that these are all specs -- meaning, no one paid me to write these, and for now, at least, no one has bought them. But I'm represented by Circle of Confusion, the same Hollywood management company that reps guys like Robert Kirkman, Ed Brubaker, and Brian Michael Bendis. So these guys know what they're doing, and with any luck we'll see some interest from production companies in the stuff I've written. And while I'm clarifying things, I should also clarify that my interest in screenplay does not mean I'm leaving comics. It just means I'm interested in diversifying, and broadening my horizons.

So that's 2009 in a nutshell. In a few weeks, I'll post my plans for 2010...

An Early Christmas

I'm flying back to visit my family in Pennsylvania tomorrow, but I thought I'd offer a little early Christmas present to you guys before I left.
Here's a glimpse at DYNAMO 5: SINS OF THE FATHER #1. That's the title of the next D5 arc, in a new mini-series format, on sale this summer.
The art is by Julio Brilha and the color is by Ron Riley.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dynamo 5 on Playstation Digital Comics

Yesterday Playstation announced its Digital Comics Service, and I'm proud to say that DYNAMO 5 is among the first offerings. So far, the first four issues are available. The first issue is free, all other issues are 99 cents.
You can read all about Playstation Digital Comics right here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Merry X-Mas

I mentioned in an earlier post that I contributed a Marvel holiday story this year (in addition to my DC holiday story that's on sale now), and now I can give a few more details.

It's an 8-page X-MEN holiday story that will run exclusively on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. The story goes live on December 23rd. I hope to soon be able to post a page of preview art, but I don't have any to show at the moment.

I imagine the story will see print at some point, whether it's as a bonus story in a Trade Paperback, or as part of an anthology, but there are no plans currently to print it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Evolution of a Writer

I was asked recently about two novels by two of my favorite authors: CHASING DARKNESS, by Robert Crais and NOW & THEN, by Robert B. Parker. And while I don't remember the specifics of each book (Parker's series books, especially, tend to blur together -- and more on that, later), I have been meaning to write about these two authors, and how they relate to one another, for awhile now.

I discovered Robert B. Parker in high school, and his writing literally changed my life. CEREMONY was the first Spenser novel I read (after watching the TV series, SPENSER: FOR HIRE) and it opened my eyes to modern writing. Up until then, any prose I read were stuffy and boring English assignments. But Parker's prose was light, smart, fun -- the works. And it painted such a complete picture. And for far, far too long, I (unfairly) judged every other prose writer by how they compared to Parker.

Case in point: Robert Crais. Crais' first novel, THE MONKEY'S RAINCOAT, was published in 1987, which is just about the exact same time I was discovering Parker. It wasn't until years later that I became aware of Crais, and even then, my first impression was that he was a Parker rip-off ... because he was.

Parker had Spenser, a wise-cracking ex-boxer. Crais had Elvis Cole, a wise-cracking martial artist. Spenser had a strong, silent partner named Hawk, who operated by his own moral code. Cole had a strong, silent partner named Joe Pike, who operated by his own moral code. Even the writing styles were similar. And this prevented me from enjoying Crais, so I didn't really get into him until years later.

Somewhere in one of my desk drawers are some old magazine articles written by Parker, aimed at writers. Stuff about how to write a series character, how to plot, etc. It's fascinating stuff, both because of the actual advice, but also because of how Parker seems to have changed his approach over the years. For instance, in one of these articles he advocates writing an outline before actually scripting the novel. At the time he wrote the article, he also outlined his novels. More recently, however, he seems to have changed his approach. I've seen him interviewed numerous times where he states he no longer outlines. Something about how he's been doing this so long that he doesn't need to outline anymore. And you know what? It shows.

Parker's gift has always been his dialogue. It's always fun, light, and zippy. And he can say more about a character with less words than pretty anyone. But his plots have always been kind of light, especially for a "mystery" writer. The mysteries are far from complex, and more and more over the years, they follow a basic formula. Somewhere in the first third of the novel, Spenser (or his other series leads, Jesse Stone or Sunny Randall) basically deduce the identity of the bad guy through little more than a gut feeling, and spend the rest of the novel following the guy around, waiting for him to make a move. Sometimes, Parker's heroes will make themselves targets, to draw the bad guy out. And in the end, the bad guy will either be killed, or the hero will blackmail the bad guy in such a way as to put him out of business. But the bad guy is rarely simply arrested. 

To me, this gets frustrating because Spenser (or Jesse, or Sunny) is never, ever wrong. Like I said, in the first third of the book, Spenser IDs the bad guy, and that's that. No doubt, and he's never wrong. I like a confident hero as much as the next guy, but an infallible one? Not so much.

Which brings me to Robert Crais. To date, Crais has written 11 Elvis Cole novels (plus one focusing on Joe Pike, in which Cole is a supporting character). His second Joe Pike novel comes out next month. His first 7 Cole novels were very Spenser-ish. Written in the first person, featuring the same kind of wit, with Cole and Pike doing their best Spenser and Hawk impressions. But even from the start, Crais' books had much stronger plotting. The mysteries were more complex. The villains' motivations and plans were more original and involving. 

But in the 8th Elvis Cole novel, L.A. REQUIEM, Crais blew the doors off of everything he set up previously. Think of it, in comic book terms, of a "bold, new direction." While it's still a Cole novel, the book switches POV numerous times, and works in numerous flashbacks, all to flesh out the tragic backstory of Joe Pike. While the Cole books had been getting better and better all along, L.A. REQUIEM represents a quantum leap forward, and almost transcends the PI genre. I don't mean to overhype it -- it's still simply a thriller novel (albeit, very well done), but it doesn't seem to follow the same conventions of the typical (re: Parker) PI novel.

Parker routinely turns out three or four novels a year. 2007 saw NOW & THEN (a Spenser novel), HIGH PROFILE (a Jesse Stone novel), SPARE CHANGE (a Sunny Randall novel), and THE EDENVILLE OWLS (a Young Adult novel). Compare that with Crais, who releases a book a year -- if that.

I've had the pleasure of exchanging emails with Craigs a handful of times (he's a comic book fan), and he confirmed that he thoroughly outlines each book. I don't mean to imply that outlining is definitely better than not outlining. I, personally, never write anything until I've got a decent out of where the story's going.

I realize I may come off sounding too hard on Parker in this post. I still love his books, simply for the chance to revisit and spend time with the characters he's created. And his light prose style is second to none.

But Crais, to me, is the example of an author who continually strives to improve himself with each book. Not to get faster, but to get better.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

DYNAMO 5 on the iPhone

DYNAMO 5 has been available on the iPhone from iVerse Media for awhile now, and we just went live with Comixology, too. Both services off Apps that let you read DYNAMO 5 on your iPhone, but they offer different reading experiences because of the way the books are formatted by each company. I know each company has their proponents, and we're happy to be able to bring you the book in both formats.

I'm still a bit old school, myself. I prefer reading comics in monthly or trade paperback format. But I have to admit, this new media is really starting to grow on me. And for a reading experience you can only get on the iPhone, check out Comixology's exclusive Box 13, written by my pal David Gallaher and drawn by Steve Ellis, the team behind the smash Zuda comic, High Moon. David's had a thing for old radio serials for as long as I've known him, and Box 13 is his reinvention of one of the old classics. I highly recommend it. Plus, it's free!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

DYNAMO 5 in France

This deal has been in the works for awhile now, but I just learned that that first volume of DYNAMO 5 will be published in France in February 2010 by Merluche Comics.
A great French artist named Guile has done a limited edition D5 print that will be available in conjunction with the book's release.

ALSO on sale this week...

This one slipped by me. I didn't even realize it was coming out already!

DC Holiday Special 2009
Written by Scott Kolins, Sterling Gates, Amy Wolfram, Fred Van Lente, Jay Faerber, Beau Smith, David Tischman, Jay Torres and others; Art by Scott Kolins, Jeff Lemire, Daniel Liester and others; Cover by Dustin Nguyen
It's that time of year! You can't miss your favorite characters bringing good cheer to all. Even Deadman and B'wana Beast find ways to celebrate the spirit of the season!
32 pages * FC * $5.99

Monday, December 7, 2009

On Sale This Week

Noble Causes Vol 9: Five Years Later TPB
Story by Jay Faerber, art by Yildiray Cinar, cover by Yildiray Cinar & Ron Riley

Jump ahead five years in the lives of the Noble family! Doc Noble has rededicated the Noble family to be the world’s preeminent super-heroes, but even as they take a more pro-active approach to fighting crime on a global scale, they still harbor dark secrets and hidden agendas.

Collects NOBLE CAUSES #32-36

136 pages * FC * $14.99

Monday, November 30, 2009

Republic of Doyle

By now you're probably aware of my love of private eyes, Canada, and stories with strong family connections. So imagine my delight when I came across this trailer for REPUBLIC OF DOYLE, a new show on CBC this winter:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Odds & Ends

Well, I haven't exactly posted every day this month, but I've been posting a lot more frequently than in the past, right? Part of the problem is that sometimes I'll have an idea for a blog post, and then realize I have enough to say about the subject that it should be one of my Under the Influence columns, which will continue when DYNAMO 5 resumes publication.

And speaking of DYNAMO 5, Julio just turned in his pencils for the last two pages, so all he needs to do is ink them and then he's on to the next issue.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to work out how this story arc will end, and how that will lead into the next arc. And I'm considering playing with our publication schedule a bit. The plan now is for this next arc to be a 5-issue mini-series, then we'll take another hiatus while we ready the next mini-series. But now I'm thinking we might do a special one-shot in between the mini-series. I got the idea from DOCTOR WHO, and how that show's schedule would consist of a short season, followed by a holiday special, then another season, then a holiday special, etc. If I applied that to DYNAMO 5, and worked far enough ahead on the scripts, I could get a different artist working on a one-shot while Julio is working on the current arc. Just something I'm thinking about.

 Joe Eisma is currently drawing NOTORIOUS, which is a new character we've co-created, who will be appearing in an exclusive back-up series when DYNAMO 5 returns.

I blogged awhile back about a 6-page Batman story I wrote for DC's upcoming HOLIDAY SPECIAL. And I just recently got assigned a Christmas story for Marvel, as well. I can't go into any details yet, but there should be an announcement in the next week or two and I'll be sure to post more about it here. I wrote another Marvel story recently as well. It's something that I had a lot of fun with, with some characters I've always enjoyed. And hopefully that will be announced soon, too.

In between comic book scripts, I'm spending my time working on screenplays. I recently wrote a TV pilot, and now I'm in the middle of a movie spec. These haven't sold yet, of course. But I want to branch out into different mediums, and I've got some great representation in the form of Circle of Confusion, so I figure I should stop making excuses and start making things happen. Considering how much TV and movie influence my writing, it feels right to actually apply that stuff to ... well, TV and movies. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

One Week

I've written before about my borderline obsession with all things Canadian, and it's through that obsession that I came across an excellent indie movie called ONE WEEK. It stars Joshua Jackson (from FRINGE) as a man who sets off on a motorcycle journey across Canada after being diagnosed with cancer. There's no car chases or shoot-outs or crimes to solve. This is a simple character study, filled with great performances, quirky (yet not annoying) characters, a fantastic soundtrack, and gorgeous scenery.
While it's a Canadian movie, you can rent it on Netflix, buy it on Amazon, or download it from iTunes. Here's the film's official website.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

DYNAMO 5: Update

We're a mere two pages away from finishing the next issue of DYNAMO 5. Julio Brilha is doing some great work, and Ron Riley's colors make it look even better. I threw a lot at Julio for his first issue, and complicated that by significantly revising the script while he was drawing it. I hated doing that to him, especially on his first issue, but there were certain things that needed to be changed in order to make the issue work. So the sequence he started drawing as pages 1, 2, and 3 got shifted around are now pages 13, 14, and 15. I don't want to show off too much of Julio's stuff so early, because it's still going to be awhile before we start releasing the book again, but here's a little taste.
Also, for those of you attending this year's Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, I'm thinking of putting together some sort of exclusive DYNAMO 5 ASHCAN. I'll keep you posted...

Monday, November 16, 2009

RIP: Edward Woodward

In my earlier post about location filming, I should've mentioned THE EQUALIZER, a great 80s show about ex-spy Robert McCall, which was filmed entirely in Manhattan.

I bring this up because The Hollywood Reporter that Edward Woodward, the actor who played McCall, has passed away.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bang For Your Buck

And now, a rant.

DYNAMO 5 #25 came out a couple weeks ago. It's our 25th issue, and the finale to a storyline that's been playing out for 6 months or more. It also sets up the next story arc, and changes the characters in a pretty substantial way. As a way to do something extra for the fans, and to go into more detail addressing said changes, we beefed up the issue to include five 5-page stories, each spotlighting a different member of the cast. This more than doubles the size of the book, with all-new, original content. It's not filler. It's not reprints. All the stories were written by me, and are in continuity. Because of the extra page count, we raised the price for this issue to $4.99, which is $1.49 more than our standard $3.50 cover price. That's more than 100% more content for only 42% more dollars.

And yet, there seems to be a disconnect whenever the book was discussed online, on message boards, on blogs, or on podcasts. I'd read/hear people talk about the higher cover price, and then they're shrug it off, like, "Well, it's the 25th issue," or something. The folks making these statements were always very complimentary about the book. Don't get me wrong -- they're fans. And they were talking it up, trying to get other people interested in the book. And I just think that would be much easier if they had said, "This issue is twice as big as a normal issue, and it only costs you $1.49 more."

I love our fans, and I love that people are talking up the book online. And we'll be counting on them to help spread the word when we return from hiatus. I just wish there wasn't that odd disconnect. But it's no big deal. Like I said ... a rant.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

RIP: Dollhouse

So news broke this afternoon that Fox has cancelled DOLLHOUSE, which surprised pretty much no one. I know people are quick to blame Fox (or any network) when this happens, but I think Fox gave the show a fair shake. Frankly, I'm surprised  it got picked up for a second season. I say "surprised" not because the show was bad (it wasn't), but because it didn't do that great in the ratings in its first season. But Fox did the right thing, and gave it another shot. But at the end of the day, not enough people watched. The sad truth is that smart, complex, original shows are pretty much always going to only appeal to a small segment of the national audience. Most people want their TV entertainment to be easy to understand, fun ... stuff that doesn't challenge them.
It's hard to talk about this without sounding like I think the people who don't like DOLLHOUSE (or other complex, cult shows like THE WIRE or BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, etc.) are dumb. They're not, and I don't think that. They just want different things from their entertainment than I do. To me, something that's challenging and even unsettling is entertaining. To a lot of people, it feels like a homework assignment. They don't want to have to think too hard when watching TV. They just want to sit back and be entertained. And there's nothing wrong with that. We (I say "we" because chances are if you're reading this blog, you like at least some of the same stuff I do) just have to accept that we're always going to be in the minority, and we can't expect TV networks to keep shows on the air just because they're good. The networks exist to make money, after all.
In the meantime, I'll try to console myself with the fact that DOLLHOUSE will finish out its season and we'll get a deliberate ending. And I'll occupy myself by catching up on SONS OF ANARCHY, another complex, challenging show that I was slow to discover. But boy am I glad I did!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Location, Location, Location

I'm still thinking about how much I liked STUMPTOWN, and one of the reasons is the very distinct Portland setting. I'm a sucker for a story with a strong sense of place, whether we're talking about prose, comics, or TV/film.
The first mystery novels I ever really got into were Robert B. Parker's SPENSER books, which were set in Boston. I actually got into the books after being exposed to the TV show, SPENSER: FOR HIRE. This was in the late 80s, at a time when pretty much everything on network TV was filmed in sunny California. But SPENSER: FOR HIRE was different. It was filmed entirely on location in Boston, and it looked like nothing else on TV. The producers went out of their way to highlight the city, with lots of aerial shots, and scenes set in distinct locations. I grew up in Pennsylvania, where we saw a decent amount of snow each winter. So watching SPENSER: FOR HIRE, with its cold, snowy landscapes, really caught my eye. MIAMI VICE was another early pioneer of filming somewhere other than Hollywood, but while it was different, it was still trading one sunny locale for another.
In the late 1980s, Stephen J. Cannell was looking for a way to cut costs on his shows, so he started filming them in Vancouver, BC. His reasoning was that they saved money thanks to tax breaks and the strong American dollar, and Vancouver was just a 2-hour plane ride from Los Angeles, and was in the same time zone. A lot of Cannell's Vancouver-based shows simply took place in unnamed cities (like 21 JUMP STREET) or fake cities (like THE COMMISH). WISEGUY was also filmed in Vancouver, but its setting changed with each arc.
Then there was MacGYVER. It wasn't a Cannell show, but after two years in LA, it made the jump to Vancouver -- while the stories still took place in Los Angeles. In the summer, it's not that hard to make Vancouver pass for LA, at least to the casual observer. In the winter, it's a different story. Vancouver gets a ton more rain than LA, and sometimes, even snow. I remember one episode very clearly where "Los Angeles" was covered in a foot of snow. Funnily enough, they didn't even throw in a line of dialogue about the "freak snowstorm" or anything. It was never even acknowledged.
I've watched so many shows that were filmed in Vancouver that I can know pick out a Vancouver production simply by the actors involved. Vancouver productions are legally bound to include a certain percentage of local actors, so the same people keep showing up over and over.
A few years ago, I discovered a Canadian crime drama called DA VINCI'S INQUEST, which has since become one of my favorite shows of all time. And not only is it filmed in Vancouver, it's actually set in Vancouver. The city is basically a character in the show, much like Baltimore is a character in HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET and THE WIRE. In addition to giving the show a distinct visual look, filming on location sometimes has other benefits as well. I remember reading in more than one interview that the HOMICIDE producers felt like they got more creative freedom by being located so far from Hollywood. They were, almost literally, off the network's radar.
As much as filming on location can help a show, not filming on location can give the show a disadvantage (to me, at least). I realize it's cheaper and easier to film in Hollywood on a studio backlot, but NYPD BLUE, despite all its stock footage of New York City, never really felt "real" to me. Sure, they flew the actors out to NYC once or twice a year for location shoots, but most of those exterior scenes were on a studio backlot and it was always glaringly obvious to me. Another favorite show of mine, PICKET FENCES, was set in the small town of Rome, Wisconsin, but it was filmed entirely in LA and again, it showed -- especially when they'd do their annual Christmas episode, and have to make fake snow.
I always had a hard time getting into the Tim Burton BATMAN movies because Gotham City always felt so ... designed. I could never shake the knowledge that this wasn't a real city, it was an elaborate sound stage. I realize it's a silly hang-up to have when we're talking about a guy dressed up like a bat. But contrast that to BATMAN BEGINS, where Gotham City was basically just Chicago. But it felt like a real city.
With my mystery comic, DODGE'S BULLETS, I used a real city -- Seattle. And I went to great lengths to get everything right. I supplied James Francis, the artist, with tons of photo reference for each scene in the story.
I toyed with setting NOBLE CAUSES and DYNAMO 5 in real cities too, but I opted for creating my own fictional cities, much like DC does. This is probably because if I was going to use a real city, I'd get bogged down in making things as accurate as possible ... and then my books would be even later!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stumping for Stumptown

Sometimes I really hate Greg Rucka.
I just read STUMPTOWN #1, and this is definitely one of those times.
I hate him because this book is just so damned good. It's note-perfect, and he's working with Matthew Southworth, who did a fantastic job.
STUMPTOWN is about Dex, a private eye working in Portland, OR. That's it. No high concept, no mixing of genres. Dex doesn't see ghosts, she's not from the future, and her partner's not a cyborg. It's a straight private eye story told by a pair of creators with absolute confidence in their abilities and an obvious love of the genre.
I've known Greg for years, and while aren't good pals, it's always a pleasure to run into him at cons, and our brief conversations are always fun. He and I share a love of private eye stuff -- both novels and old 80s TV shows, and he's (proudly) wearing his influences on his sleeve with this book. I've been waiting for its release ever since it was announced quite awhile ago, and it actually lives up to my expectations (which is kind of rare, these days).
If you're a fan of Ed Brubaker's CRIMINAL, or the mystery/crime genre in general, do yourself a favor and buy STUMPTOWN. After all, the more successful crime books we have out there, the more likely I am to do one myself!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thank God it's Friday (Night Lights)

Well, so much for posting every day, huh? What can I say? Sometimes life gets in the way.
I was delighted this week to watch the second episode of the new season of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. As a writer, I'm probably not the most fun person to watch TV or movies with. I sometimes have a hard time turning off my brain, and I tend to over-analyze everything.
First, there are the shows that are just terrible. The shows I can't even watch because they're so dumbed down in an effort to appeal to the widest possible audience. And, interestinly, a lot of times these shows are big hits. Go figure.
Then there are the shows that are very close to being good, and this is really frustrating. These are the kinds of shows where I just know that if I'd been able to take a pass at the script, it could've been so much better. Modest, I know.
Then there are the shows that I think are really good, where I marvel at the dialogue and the structure and the plotting and the editing.
Then there are shows like FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Shows which are so good that I forget I'm even watching something that was constructed. I'm just able to get sucked into the reality that's been created, and just totally enjoy spending time with these characters. Maybe it's because the show is heavily ad-libbed and the actors' movements aren't blocked. Or maybe it's just that it's really, really good. I don't know. All I know is I don't want to analyze it.
And that's my favorite thing about it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Big Things Come in Small Packages

Here's a glimpse at Soldier Ant, a new character who will be making his debut in the pages of DYNAMO 5 this Spring.
This design sketch is by Mahmud Asrar, based on my ideas. Mahmud and I had been working together for over 3 years by the time he whipped up this design, and I guess we're at the point where we're almost perfectly in synch, because when I first saw his take on Soldier Ant, it was as if he'd reached into brain and pulled the design out. I mean, it was exactly what I wanted.
The same could be said for his design for the big villain in the next story arc, but you'll have to wait awhile before you see his design.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Take it Easy

I spent this past weekend doing a whole lot of nothing. And in between doing nothing, I popped in my DVD of THE BIG EASY. And god damn, I forgot how great that movie is.

It came out in 1987, was directed by Jim McBride, and tells the story of Lt. Remy McSwain, whose investigation of a mob war is complicated by Assistant DA Anne Osborne, who's investigating the entire precinct on corruption charges.

Remy's played by Dennis Quaid, and while I really enjoyed Taylor Kitsch's portrayal of Gambit in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, a better pick would've been to yank Dennis Quaid out of 1987 and use him. With his Cajun accent and his overflowing charm, it's no great leap to see that Chris Claremont was probably inspired by Quaid's character in this movie, and used him as the basis for Gambit.

And I don't blame him. Quaid is just fantastic. His character is admittedly corrupt, but only around the edges. He takes advantage of the "perks," as he calls them (free meals, parking wherever he wants, etc.). But he's a smart investigator, and he's genuinely smitten with Anne Osborne. And it's easy to see why. As played by Ellen Barkin, Anne is smart and likable and has this sexy vulnerability that seems remarkably genuine.

Their first sex scene is one of the best I've ever seen, simply because of the awkwardness involved. These are two people you genuinely like, and are rooting for. It's also interesting to note how early in the movie they hook up. It's not something they build towards until the final act. It happens pretty early, and the rest of the movie is spent trying to figure out -- or even if -- they're going to be together in light of everything that's going on around them.

When I write stories, I sometimes get too bogged down in the plot. I want the mystery to be compelling, I want the twists to be surprising, etc. And those are good instincts, of course. But the best plot in the world will be utterly uninvolving if it's not inhabited by engaging characters. And nowhere is that lesson more evident than in THE BIG EASY. It's got a good plot, don't get me wrong. But the plot isn't what keeps you involved -- it's the characters.

If you've never this movie, do yourself a big favor and check it out. You won't be sorry.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Making Progress

I know when a book goes on hiatus, it's not unheard of for it never to return. So the announcement that DYNAMO 5 was going on hiatus until the Spring was met with a bit of skepticism in some parts.

Well, I'm here to show you that progress is being made on the next issue. Our new artist, Julio Brilha, is almost halfway done with his first issue, and here's a look at some of the first colors, provided by the incomparable Ron Riley.

I think you'll agree that Julio's a great fit for this book. He doesn't deviate wildly from the tone set by Mahmud, but he definitely brings his own flare.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The House of the Devil

I'm not a huge horror movie fan. I guess it's because they tend to be too formulaic, and that formula tends to be: introduce a bunch of characters, and then kill them all. To me, that formula is missing a third act, you know? So I tend to shy away from most horror movies simply because, to me, if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all. Plus, it doesn't much creativity to have something pop out of the shadows accompanied by a loud sound effect.

But occasionally, a horror movie will come along that really works for me. I thought PARANORMAL ACTIVITY was pretty good, although a bit gimmicky. I liked THE STRANGERS for awhile, until it turned into that "two act" formula I mentioned earlier. The last really good horror movie I saw was THE DESCENT, which had engaging characters, a truly original premise, and some fantastic direction.


As I write this, it's in (very) limited release, but is available On Demand. It's a fantastic, low budget horror movie with almost unbearable tension. It's filmed on 16mm film and set in the 1980s, yet it's not played for laughs. There's not a single wink or nudge to be seen. It's played entirely straight, and has atmosphere and creepiness to spare.

The premise is simple: Samantha, a college student with money woes, takes a job as a babysitter in a creepy house with even creepier owners. That's it. Sounds pretty generic, right? And it could be, in the hands of a lesser director. But Ti West (who I'd never heard of before this movie) does a fantastic job of building mood and ratcheting up the tension as the film unfolds.

Be warned that it's a very slow-moving, deliberate film. And I wouldn't be surprised if today's audiences (the people who like SAW, for example) find the film "boring." But if you're reading this blog, I automatically assume you have excellent taste.

So trust me, and seek out this movie.

Throwing down the gauntlet

Okay, so I've had this blog for well over a year now and it's always been updated sporadically, at best. But today, that changes!

I've decided to post every day for the month of November, just to try to get into the habit. We'll see if it takes. Hell, some of what I post might actually be interesting.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On Sale This Week

Dynamo 5 #25

Story by Jay Faerber, art by Mahmud A. Asrar, Joe Eisma, Anthony Castrillo, Tim Seeley, Andie Tong, and Fran Bueno, cover by Mahmud A. Asrar & Ron Riley


In the wake of Father Gideon's devastating attack, Maddie's darkest secret is revealed – and it will change Dynamo 5 forever!

Featuring 45 pages of all-new material, including five back-up stories, each of which examines a different aspect of the changes that take place this issue and laying the groundwork for the future of the series!
48 pages * FC * $4.99

This is it -- the issue we've been building to for awhile now. Consider it a season finale, if you will. It's a real game-changer, as well as Mahmud's swan song as regular series artist. Following this issue, we'll be taking a break for a few months are our new artist gets some pages under his belt. But don't let the impending hiatus take away from the sheer awesomeness of this issue. We really pulled out all the stops, and I got the chance to work with a great bunch of artists on our five back-up stories. The book looks truly fantastic, cover to cover.

If you can't make it to your local comic shop until later this week, you can read a 9-page preview of this issue, over at Newsarama.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Baltimore Comicon

I'll have a table at the Image section at the Baltimore Comicon this weekend, Oct. 10th & 11th. I hope you come by and say hi! I'll have books for sale, and I'm always happy to sign comics and chat with fans.
For more information at the show, go here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Coming in January

It's our 4th DYNAMO 5 trade paperback, collecting issues #20-25, including the #0 issue. This means that the entire series will be available in trade paperback form when we return from hiatus this Spring.
The cover is by Mahmud A. Asrar and Ron Riley, as always.

Friday, September 4, 2009

On sale in November

In case anyone missed it, the penultimate Noble Causes TPB is being released in November. We're gonna have lots of bonus material in this one!

Friday, August 28, 2009

On Sale This Week

Dynamo 5 #24

Story by Jay Faerber, art by Mahmud A. Asrar & Ron Riley, cover by Mahmud A. Asrar & Ron Riley
Why does Father Gideon hate Dynamo 5, and what is his shocking connection to the team? Find out this issue, as he and Synergy launch their attack. This is the story that changes everything!
32 page * FC * $3.50
Our penultimate issue (before the hiatus) marks the first full issue that Mahmud's drawn in awhile, and he really brought his A-game. We had a lot of fun putting this one together, and I can't wait for you guys to see how it all plays out in issue #25.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I've been waiting for Greg Ruck's STUMPTOWN (an Oni Press series about a Portland private eye) ever since it was announced over a year ago. Well, it's finally been solicited and Laura Hudson has a fantastic interview with Greg, in which he talks about the book, and his private eye influences. I'd argue that the Magnum, PI "Did You See The Sunrise" bit does hold up, but that's just my opinion. Of course, it helps to see the whole episode to get the maximum effect. But I digress ... my point is that STUMPTOWN looks to be a great private eye comic, written by a talented writer who really knows his private eyes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The future of Dynamo 5

Comic Book Resources just ran an interview that Josh Wigler conducted with both me and Mahmud about Dynamo 5 #25 ... and beyond. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On Sale This Week

Dynamo 5 #23
Story by Jay Faerber, art by Matteo Scalera, Mahmud A. Asrar, & Ron Riley, cover by Mahmud A. Asrar & Ron Riley
The last time Dynamo 5 encountered Whiptail, they barely survived. Now they're faced with a Whiptail epidemic! Meanwhile, Father Gideon's sinister plan kicks into high gear.
32 page * FC * $3.50
Guest artist Matteo Scalera provides the bulk of the art in this issue. He's got a different style than Mahmud, but I think he does a fantastic job on the kids. And this issue has one of our best last-page-shockers ever. Don't miss it!

War of Kings: Warriors #2
Story by Jay Faerber, Pencils by Adriana Melo & Ramon Perez, Cover by Paul Renaud
The royal women take center stage as we spotlight Crystal and Lilandra! When a group of disgruntled Kree launch a series of bombings aimed at the Inhumans Royal Family, Crystal is charged with quelling the violence—but can she bring the guilty to justice without causing civil war? Plus: a flashback story to one of Lilandra's earliest adventures, as the future Empress of the Shi'Ar must face a trial by fire ignited by the Brood! It’s two brand new stories that spotlight key players in the War of Kings!
FC * $3.99
This issue contains two separate stories, one starring Lilandra and one starring Crystal. They were both created as Digital Exclusives for Marvel, to augment the War of Kings crossover. The fact that they're appearing in print is just gravy. I had a blast working on both of these stories, and Adriana Melo and Ramon Perez did excellent work. These stories were edited by Ben Morse, in his first full editing gig. He did a great job, and I'm relieved that he didn't quit comics altogether after editing me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

On Sale This Week

Dynamo 5 Vol. 3: Fresh Blood TPB
Story by Jay Faerber, Art by Mahmud A. Asrar, Yildiray Cinar, and Macrio Takara, Cover by Mahmud A. Asrar & Ron Riley
Dynamo 5 has disbanded! As super-villains mount an all-out attack on Tower City, Scrap gathers together four new heroes to become a new Dynamo 5. But does this new team have what it takes? Or will their mission end in tragedy?
Collects issues #14-19
144 pages * FC * $14.99
Finally, all you trade-waiters can get your next Dynamo 5 fix! This issue collects issues 14-19 and features some of my favorite issues. In addition to featuring art by co-creator Mahmud Asrar, this collection also features guest art by Yildiray Cinar (currently drawing the Ravager feature in DC's Teen Titans) and Marcio Takara (currently drawing The Incredibles over at Boom! Studios).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

On Sale This Week - Gemini #4

Gemini #4 (of 5)

Story by Jay Faerber, Art & Cover by Jon Sommariva

Gemini’s journey of self-discovery puts him on a collision course with Dynamo 5!

32 pages * FC * $3.50

After an embarrassingly long wait, Gemini #4 is finally going on sale this week! You can read a 5-page preview of the issue right here, and if you're attending to the San Diego Comic Con, be sure to stop by Gemnini co-creator Jon Sommariva's table in the Image section, where he'll be sketching, selling Gemini comics, and signing autographs.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dynamo 5 schedule update

Dynamo 5 #22 came out last week, and today we delivered issue #23 to Image. So it should be on sale towards the end of July. Mahmud is three pages away from finishing issue #24, so we're on track for that issue to be on sale in August -- the same month it's solicited! What a concept. And our double-sized issue #25 should be on sale in September (again, the same month it was solicited for). That issue contains a full-length lead story, as well as five, 5-page back-ups. All but one of these back-ups are already written and drawn too, so we're actually ahead of schedule there.
None of us are proud of the delays that have plagued the book lately, but I'm really glad these four issues will ship monthly. And while we had guest artists contribute to issues #21, #22, and #23, issues #24 and #25 will feature full length stories drawn entirely by Mahmud.
Also on sale at the end of July is our 3rd TPB, "Fresh Blood," which collects issues #14 thru #19. As a bonus feature, we're also presenting my full script to issue #16, which is the first time I really eased back on the structure and let Mahmud choreograph and pace entire scenes. It's pretty interesting to compare my plot to the finished product. In each instance, Mahmud took what I gave him and made it better.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On Sale This Week

Dynamo 5 #22

Story by Jay Faerber, Art by Mahmud A. Asrar & Yildiray Cinar, Cover by Mahmud A. Asrar & Ron Riley

Introducing ... the Brain Trust! IQ off the charts? Check. Indestructible super-body? Check. Dynamo 5 in over their heads? Check.

32 pages * FC* $3.50 US

Former Noble Causes artist (and current artist of the Ravager co-feature in Teen Titans) Yildiray Cinar was kind enough to help us out on this issue, drawing 6 pages in this issue. As always, his work looks fantastic alongside Mahmud's. This issue also features the introduction of Flagstone, a brand-new character that was co-created by me and artist Chad Hardin, as part of an abandoned pitch a few years ago. But this particular character was just too fun to leave on the sidelines, so I found a way to work him into the Dynamo 5 series. Unfortunately, I'm an idiot and neglected to credit Chad as co-creator in this issue, as I'd originally promised him. I'll make it up to you, Chad!

You can read a 5-page preview of the issue at Newsarama.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gemini #4

After an embarrassing series of delays, we've finally delivered GEMINI #4 to Image yesterday. The plan is for it to be available for purchase at the San Diego Comic-Con (where artist Jon Sommariva will be in attendance!), as well as your local comic shop.

As you can see by the cover, this issue guest stars Dynamo 5! It was really cool to see Jon's take on the kids. In just a few weeks, you'll be able to see for yourselves.

And with any luck, it won't take us as long to put together issue #5.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Parker & Lieber go UNDERGROUND

A few years ago, I attended a small comic convention in Calgary, Alberta. At the show, I sat next to Jeff Parker. We got along great, and ever since then, I look forward to our brief chats whenever we run into each other at various other conventions.

At the most recent Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, Jeff was telling me about a new creator-owned book he had developed with Steve Lieber. If I recall correctly, he was asking the best way to pitch the book to Image. I told him to just show the material to Eric Stephenson, and I was reasonably sure Eric would greenlight it on the spot. Later, I told Eric to swing by Jeff's booth to see the book. Eric did, and in fact, he greenlit it on the spot.

If this sounds like I'm trying to take credit for Image publishing Jeff and Steve's new book, UNDERGROUND, that's exactly what I'm trying to do.

Okay, not really. But it is fun to see just how informal and fast Image's approval process can be, when confronted with a book as cool as UNDERGROUND, by creators as skilled as Jeff and Steve.

According to the solicitation copy, UNDERGROUND is a five issue color series beginning in September from IMAGE COMICS. Written by Jeff Parker, drawn by Steve Lieber, and colored by Ron Chan, the story follows Park Ranger Wesley Fischer as she tries to save Stillwater Cave-- and then has to save herself.

The book is scheduled to launch in September, which means it's available for pre-order right now. You can see all sorts of behind-the-scenes material -- and even read a complete b&w copy (the series itself is in full color) -- at their new website. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Everyone wants to see more of Scrap

Well, this is about as much as we could show without giving the book a Mature Readers label. This is from Dynamo 5 #24, pencilled and inked by Mahmud A. Asrar.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wednesday Previews

This week I'm showing the latest page from Gemini #4. Remember that book? It IS still happening! Art is by Jon Sommariva and colors are by Fares Maese.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday Previews

More Whiptail action, from Dynamo 5 #23, in a page drawn by Matteo Scalera.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Under the Radar

I love a good high-concept, and more than that, I love a good high-concept that's actually executed well. Believe it or not, that's the case with 1998's HARD RAIN, a movie about an armored car driver's efforts to keep 3 million dollars out of the hands of a gang of thieves and a corrupt sheriff. Oh yeah, and this all takes place during a massive flood.

HARD RAIN stars Christian Slater as the armored car driver, Morgan Freeman as the leader of the thieves, and Randy Quaid as the corrupt sheriff. The movie didn't win any awards, and it ranks a measely 23% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, but I just love it.

Yes, it involves some suspension of disbelief (most high-concept movies do). But if you can just go along for the ride, it's a really fun, exciting movie. The sheer spectacle of the flooded town is impressive, and so are the numerous escape-from-certain-death scenes involving Christian Slater's resourceful armored car driver.

In addition to the running and jumping (and swimming!) and shooting, there's a nice wit to the movie. Some of the one-liners are genuinely funny, and all of the characters (even the bad guys) have more depth and quirks than you'd expect to find in a movie like this.

I think most of the credit goes to screenwriter Graham Yost, who was one of the writers of HBO's BAND OF BROTHERS, as well as creator of the TV series BOOMTOWN and RAINES, and the screenwriter of the movies SPEED, BROKEN ARROW, and THE LAST CASTLE. He's also the showrunner of FIRE IN THE HOLE, a new TNT series about a US Marshal, based on an Elmore Leonard short story. It sounds great. I'll look at anything Yost does.

If you're looking for a fun diversion with some wit and great set pieces, check out HARD RAIN.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wednesday Previews

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday Previews

We're working on two issues of Dynamo 5 simultaneously over here. While Mahmud finishes up issue #22, we have Matteo Scalera drawing issue #23. He's doing a fantastic job, and brings a real different flavor to the book.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wednesday Previews

This week we've got two new pages from Dynamo 5 #22 by Mahmud Asrar, featuring our heroes going up against the Brain Trust!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On Sale This Week

Noble Causes Archives Vol. 2

Story by Jay Faerber, Art by Various, Cover by Cory Walker

Concluding Jay Faerber's epic super-hero series! This volume features the introduction of the Blackthornes, a family of super-villains, as well as a leap forward 5 years into the future! Together with the first volume, these Archives collect the entire series, start to finish!

778 pages * B&W * $24.95 US

We had the 2nd Archives volume printed early, so I've had my copy for a month or so now (and so have some lucky attendees of the Emerald City Comicon), and I can't tell you how cool it is to look at both volumes sitting on my shelf. The idea that I (along with an extraordinarily talented group of collaborators) put out this huge body of work is pretty wild.

Witchblade Annual 2009

Story by Jay Faerber, Joshua Cozine, Joe Henderson, Art by Eric Basaldua & Sheldon Mitchell, Covers by Eric Basaldua & Sami Basri

Presenting the first ever Witchblade Annual issue, complete with a new, original self-contained story by writer Jay Faerber and artist Eric Basaluda. Includes a second bonus story! Beautiful women all over the city are killing men they don't even know, and then claiming they don't even remember the events. When Sara and partner Gleason are assigned to investigate the case, they're thrown head-first into the dangerous and deadly world of... plastic surgery?

Plus an additional story featuring Ian Nottingham by newcomers Joshua Cozine & Joe Henderson, and artist Sheldon Mitchell (Freshmen Summer Special).

My story in the Witchblade Annual turned out much better than I could've hoped, and I owe it all to Eric Basaldua. That guy can draw! You can read the first few pages of our story right here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday Previews

This week we've got a pretty incredible double-page spread from Dynamo 5 #22, drawn by Yildiray Cinar and colored by Ron Riley.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday Previews

This week we've got the cover to DYNAMO 5 #24, featuring the return of Synergy! Things are looking pretty grim for our heroes...

It's also time to start teasing DYNAMO 5 #25, our upcoming double-sized "game-changing" issue. We've been telling you for awhile now that "Change is Coming," and it is. In a big way. Issue #25 will feature a feature-length story by our regular creative team, as well as five back-up stories drawn by five different artists. Each story will focus on a different member of the team, but I can't say anything more about the stories without giving away the big secret to issue #25. I want to show you some art, but I can't even show you a full page from each story. Instead, I can show you a couple panels.

On the left is a panel of pencils by my old NOBLE CAUSES collaborator, Fran Bueno. And on the right is a panel of pencils and inks by Tim Seeley, who you may know from HACK/SLASH. Both of these guys turned in some great work. I can't wait to unveil the other artists who are contributing to the book! All in good time ...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

New Interview

Noble Causes #40 came out this week, and I recently discussed ending the series with the new website Panels on Pages. We also talk about other aspects of my work, and you can read the interview here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

My new project

My newest comic book project isn't going to be seen by most people who read my current output, and that's because it's going to be published first in Galicia, Spain.

UNDYING LOVE, a new horror / crime / romance mini-series from me and my old pal, Fran Bueno, will be serialized in a the pages of GALIMATIAS, a new Galician comic book magazine.

If you read Galician, you can read more about the project here.

And yes, we do plan to publish the book at some point in English, as well.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

On Sale This Week

Noble Causes #40
Story by Jay Faerber, Art by Yildiray Cinar, Cover by Yildiray Cinar & Ron Riley.

Series Finale! Race and Liz return as the long-running superhero saga comes to a close. We’ve saved the best surprises for last! With a special wraparound cover featuring the entire series cast, past and present.

32 pages * Color * $3.50 US

On Sale April 1, 2009

This is it ... the last hurrah for a book I've been writing for going on 8 years! And you can read the first 6 pages right now at Comic Book Resources. But I warn you, there's spoilers!