WONDERCON

Hey folks,

I’ll be at Wondercon in San Francisco this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.  I’m making limited appearances.  I’ll be signing at:
IMAGE COMICS – Saturday 2pm – 3pm

ARCHAIA – Saturday 3pm – 4pm

And that’s it!  But, my beloved collaborators RAHSAN EKEDAL and TONY FLEECS will both be there all weekend long at their respective artist alley tables, where if you stop by, you might just find me hanging out.
More info on the show at www.comic-con.org
See you this weekend!

j.

www.thefialkov.com

Harvey Awards Voting Closes Tomorrow

Hey folks,

If you happen to enjoy my books and are also an active member of the comic book industry, you’re eligible to nominate my books for the Harvey Awards.

To make things easy, I even prepared a pre-filled ballot with all of my books that are eligible.  You can download that here:  thefialkov.com/Downloads/FIALKOV-Harvey_2011.txt

Instructions for what to do with the ballot once completed are on the doc.

Thanks so much for taking the time!

j.

 

Seven Days – On What I Wrote This Week

This is not to brag.  This is not to boast.  This is not because I like peanut butter on my breakfast toast, as the Sugarhill Gang once said.

In the past week I have written:

Two Treatments in the 3 to 5 page range

Two Twenty Page Comic Book Scripts

One Character Bio Sheet

One 2nd Draft of a Twenty Page Comic Book Script

One Boilerplate Contract for a new Creator Owned Series

Two Essays (Three, counting this one) for my various blogs

Plus, spent the afternoon on Saturday on the crime comics panel, and still managed to work in a family day and two days of daddy/baby time.  Oh, yeah, I’ve also seen this week’s new Brave and the Bold cartoon.

Being a freelancer writer is a delight.  Honestly, it’s a lot of fun, you get paid to do what you’d probably do for free, and you get to do it all from more or less wherever you’d like. But…

It’s a lot of work.  This was a highly productive week, but, it’s also how just about every week has to be in order to actually make a living doing what I do.  That means whether I have paid work or am doing it all for free, whether I’m sick or don’t get to sleep because the baby is teething, or the nanny calls in sick.

It’s extremely easy to fall into the trap of the X-Box or the Satellite Dish.  They both sit there just spewing things to do.  But, if you put it all down (or, y’know, limit your playing of Stacked to only three hours per week), and really put your nose to the grind stone, you can do it.  You can make a living, you can do what you love.

The trick is to make sure you still love it once you’re done.

You Got Lucky, Babe – On Breaking In

9 years ago, I started my journey in comics.  I mean, sure, I spent every free minute from the time I was old enough to push REC on my Fisher-Price tape recorder telling stories and getting ready for that, but, really, resolutely, nine years ago I decided this is what I wanted to do, and, we the aid of some truly wonderful people who had my back, I started on my journey.

And now, nine years later,  I find myself having just come from a panel talking about how I broke in, and how i got where I am, and realized that, frankly, it’s all just luck.

Somehow, I found my first patron (and amazing friend) in Chris Arundel (better known to those of you following along at home as the Publisher at Hoarse and Buggy Productions), and, from there, I’ve been lucky enough to find a string of people either smart or foolish enough to take chances on me.

That being said, I made a lot of bad decisions, things that I lay awake thinking about, and wish I could go back in time and fix them.  I’ve lost everything including friends, money, and joy from those bad decisions.  But, very few of them have had long term consequences on me.  That’s luck, too.  Those bad decisions, in fact, led me down paths that gave me bigger and better opportunities.

ALl of that being said, I’ve also worked my balls off.  Years of killing myself on scripts and marketing and printers and fighting with publishers and going to cons and pitching my ass off in meetings and driving three hours to get to a meeting that doesn’t happen because the guy decided to leave for his private island a few hours early.

For the first five years, I worked full time while pulling more than another forty hours a week in the PM to keep books on time and coming out and, theoretically, awesome.  For the next four, I’ve struggled to balance paying the bills with creating art that I love and cherish all while building a family and a social life and all the things I gave up in the first five to get here.

And now, I’ve got some amazing things coming up later this year.  Not just some amazing creator owned, in which I’m working with some of my favorite people on earth, but, opportunities to deliver mainstream books that are built entirely on the strength of my voice and what I’ve proven over the years.

But even that, while, sure, all that hard work certainly paid off, it really just came down to a couple of people picking my book out of a pile and giving it a looksie.

Everything I have is that same luck.  Hell, had I not logged into my online dating account one last time, I never would’ve met the most wonderful woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, nor gotten to have a kid more amazing that I could’ve ever imagined.

So, look, ultimately the point to all of this is that as unfortunate as it is, no matter how hard you work or how long you toil, sometimes, it just comes down to that flip of a coin.  And that sucks.

Unless, that is, you happen to be me.

I Don’t Wanna – On Writing For a Living

Writers write.  That’s the unfortunate truth, right?  Writers actually sit down in front of their computers (preferably of the Apple persuasion) with their cafe au lait and their copy of Scrivener on the screen, and, then, lo and behold, they actually write.  That’s the hurdle.  That’s the starter’s pistol you need in order to do this for a living.

But here’s the truth.  I do write.  I write a fair amount.  But, a good amount of my time is spent staring out windows, reading crime novels, and playing with my daughter.  Disconnected from the work at hand and playing Bejeweled for an hour (or three) is sometimes exactly what the brain needs.  Something that stimulates the sections of your brain not designed specifically for, y’know, creating is a necessity.

Now here’s what you don’t want to hear.  If you have a day job and you aspire to be a writer?  Guess what? That ‘non-writing screw off time’ is what you call your job.  That means every moment you’re not there is precious writing time.  When you’re trying to break in or learn the ropes or whatever euphemism you like, the absolute only way to do it is to write.  Writers write.

What you write doesn’t have to be good.  In fact, knowing that it’s not good, being able to actually figure out that something is or isn’t good is a great skill to have.  I send my scripts to a stack of my friends before submitting them.  But, rarely have I ever gotten a note back that I didn’t, really, already know.  All that process should be is confirmation of your fuck ups.

But that’s a ways from here.  Write.  Write a lot.

Develop your voice, find out who you are as a writer, and stop just being that schmuck who says he’s a writer, and actually become one.  The way you do that?  Write.  Writers write.  Writers write a lot because they are writers.

This is not brain surgery.  If you think you’re a writer and all you have to show for it is, well, that coffee, that Mac, and that copy of Scrivener, then you’re not a writer.  A writer has something to say and a particular way to say it that is singular and yet universal.  That’s the part where the craft subsides and the art can take over.

Because, again, the dirty little secret of almost any creative endeavor, is that we’re building chairs over here.  If you can’t put four legs and a seat together, then, guess what? You’re not capable of building a chair.  But, if you take time, read some books on chair building, talk to your friends and mentors about building chairs, really just take some time to figure out what it means to be a chair builder, then guess what?  You’re STILL incapable of building a chair, you’re just more capable of talking about building it.

No.  Learn, observe, talk, take classes, all of that is great.  But what’s more important?  BUILD THE FUCKING CHAIR.

Writers write.

Human, Inhuman – On Writing Awful People You Care About

Most of my work, at the end of the day, is about one thing, how awful we can be to each other.  But, I like to think that within that thesis, there comes something else.  How amazing we can be to each other.  Using Tumor as an example, Frank is a degenerate who’s more or less thrown away his life because of a series of bad decisions and the loss of his wife.  He’s for all intents and purposes been a complete and utter drain on society and a waste of space.   But, the point of Tumor is to redeem him.  To show that even the awfulness that has been his life isn’t enough to corrupt that tiny spark of humanity inside him.

That’s probably even more true of Detective Polish in Tumor who’s pretty much an unlikable, amoral shit bag.  And yet, for me, he’s the most interesting character in the book.  He’s the one who actually has to make choices, especially in the final act, that change his life irreparably.  He’s biting the hand that feeds him in the favor of good, or, at least, the guy who he thinks might actually win.  That’s probably why any thought I have about continuing the characters from Tumor center not around young Frank, but around post-corrupt Polish.

Elk’s Run in it’s way is about this same question as everybody thinks they’re the good guy, even as though they do horrific, monstsrous things.  Hell, even Punks is really about a bunch of guys with so little humanity that they aren’t even human.  Alibi, Echoes, and any number of top secret things you’ve not yet heard about all tread this same ground.

So now, I’m doing a superhero book.  My own, creator owned superhero book.  Of course, being me, it’s not.  It’s not about superheroes, not really, and, in fact, there’s only one, and he’s kind of a shit head.  But, he’s also so far above all of us both in terms of power AND morality, that he’s a bit of mystery, even to me.  I write this character who’s got genuinely pure intentions but has no interest in the sanctity of life or trampling over whoever it takes to take care of the task at hand.  That’s been the challenge of writing the book, and frankly, the reason I stay away from the supernatural/science fiction stuff, as I tend to get lost in the math, so to speak, rather than the poetry.

I say all of this because while sitting on the plane to Emerald City Comic Con (Come see me at both 710!), I just watched the documentary CATFISH.  It’s very clearly from the get go about some very, very inhumane people.  Both the protaganist and the so called antagonists are pretty unlikeable, and, you think you know where it’s going, with one side jumping out on the other and screaming “HA! I CAUGHT YOU!”

And it gets right up into that moment, and then something extraordinary happens.

Humanity.  These people look at each other, and just can’t do it.  They can’t hurt somebody so delicate and so needy.  It’s… magical.  Even as the strife that drives story continues, (and I’m being vague to not spoil it for you), you feel not anger or resentment for them, but pity and sorrow.  That’s a great lesson to learn as a writer.  You can have people doing awful things or being awful, but, without humanity it becomes a dark satire at best, grating melodramatic bullshit at worst.

Always, always keep the humanity in the inhumanity.

EMERALD CITY + UPCOMING APPEARANCES!


Hey folks,
This weekend, I’ll be in Seattle at the much beloved Emerald City Comic Con hocking ECHOES from the fine folk at Top Cow. My Echoes conspirator Rahsan Ekedal will also be there, so, it’s a great time to pick up the comic.

I’ll be at booth 710 for most of the time, so please stop by!

More info on the show here: www.emeraldcitycomicon.com/

Also save the date for… THIS:

Knife to the Page: Writing Crime Graphic Novels
Saturday, March 19, 1-2:30 pm, Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd.

From the movies The Road to Perdition to the recent bloody romp, Red, both based on graphic novels, “funnybooks” are making a larger impact in the digital age. On Saturday, March 19, at Meltdown Comics on the Sunset Strip, the So Cal branch of the Mystery Writers of America will present a panel on the writing and production of crime comics. Panelists are: Joshua Hale Fialkov (Elks Run, Tumor), Deborah Vankin (Poseurs), and Doselle Young (Gangland, Authority), moderated by Gary (High Rollers) Phillips.

Hope to see you this weekend or, if not, in a couple of weeks at Meltdown in Hollywood!

Cheers, mateys,

j.