Joshua Hale Fialkov

Purveyor of sheer awesomeness.

Joshua Hale Fialkov is the Harvey, Eisner, and Emmy Award nominated writer of graphic novels, animation, video games, film, and television, including:

THE LIFE AFTER, THE BUNKER, PUNKS, ELK'S RUN, TUMOR, ECHOES, KING, PACIFIC RIM, THE ULTIMATES, I, VAMPIRE, and JEFF STEINBERG CHAMPION OF EARTH. He's also written for NBC's CHICAGO MED and SYFY's upcoming INCORPORATED.

Filtering by Category: Personal

Jazz and the Failure of Exclusion

 Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong

 Bix Biderbecke

Bix Biderbecke

I've been making my way through Ken Burns' Jazz documentary series.  There's an extended section about Bix Beiderbecke.  If you don't know, Bix was considered the 2nd best trumpeter who ever lived.  Second only to Louis Armstrong.  He was a Iowan farm boy who was inspired by Louis' recordings to teach himself and run away from home to become a jazz player.

In addition to his prodigious talents, he also had an epic drinking problem.  One that would eventually kill him.  But, before that, the documentary talks a bit about how hard a time Bix had because of segregation.  That because he was white, he couldn't go and play with the more advanced black players, and was constantly hitting a wall because he needed to be challenged, and he just wasn't by the white players of the day. 

It's such an interesting, backwards way to think about the race problems of the day, that I've been chewing over it for days.  That segregation hurts both sides that have been split apart.  That the sum is that much greater than the individual parts. The idea that that privilege is it's own sort of handcuffs is so rarely discussed.  And I get why, as the world's tiniest violins plays for the poor white people who couldn't be inspired, while the black people were oppressed, beaten, and pillaged by the dominant culture. 

But, still, I think the core idea is something worth discussing.  That this kid who was handed the world realized that without the best of the best available to him, then the world he'd been handed was a lead balloon.  That by ex-communicating a group of people, you're really ex-communicating yourself. 

The close-mindedness of our era, the us against them mentality that rules politics, and, especially, the inability to have a conversation with someone who's different from you, and not just in terms of race, but in as simple as semantics of ideas.  Without being able to open ourselves up to the other side of the world, to see the brilliance and joy, as well as the outrage and the anger, we're doomed as a society.  We'll constantly stand on the brink of our potential and always fall short.

The story goes that for one night, Louis and Bix met in a hotel room, closed the door, and played together.  The two men driving each other to be better, creating and destroying expectations simultaneously.  It was, by some accounts, the highlight of Bix's life. But, because society was too involved to see the brilliance that could be made from love and acceptance, it's just a story lost to time, instead of an album for the ages. 

Open yourself to the world around you.  Experience things from every side, and put it into your work, make it your motivation.  Or, in other words, love everyone. 

FYI, here's the best jazz song ever recorded. 

 

If you HAVEN'T seen KEN BURNS' JAZZ, do yourself a favor.  It streams for free on Netflix and Amazon, or, the boxset is linked below.  It's my favorite Ken Burns film, and it'll change how you think about America, Music, and, perhaps most importantly, American Music. 


One Year Later

I don't want to die. 

I don't mean that in the sense that everybody wants to live forever.  I literally decided I didn't want to die.  I've had health problems pretty much from the time I was a little kid.   Some of that is rooted in my mom being unaware she was pregnant with me, while undergoing major back surgery (and the drugs that go along with that not being, ahem, great for the fetus...) to a massive bout of food poisoning when I was five or six years old.  I still remember the days (and what feels like weeks) I spent in the hospital on IV's because I couldn't take in solid food.  

I still have minor panic attacks when I see bees, thanks to my managing to get stung by about sixty yellow jackets (which I'm deathly allergic to) as a little boy, sending me into anaphylactic shock.  

I remember falling out of the hatch of a friends treehouse and catching my foot on the ladder, breaking my ankle but sparing my head.  And, for that matter, falling head first into an orchestra pit, and breaking my arm WITH MY HEAD.  

There's more things (hemochromatosis diagnosis in college, near diabetic coma a decade ago, I should really stop this list...) but, the fact is in spite of all the terrible things that I went through, and clearly had the will to fight through them, I always figured I'd die young.   It's something my friends and I have always joked about.  My buddy Tony Fleecs has always called me "Mr. Glass."  I've broken nearly every finger, toe, both arms, my coccyx, both ankles, and my nose.  I've been diagnosed with fibro myalgia, type '1 1/2' diabetes, osteo pinea, keratoconus,  a half-dozen kidney stones, a shattered vertebrae, and (famously) crippling migraines.  In other words, I've been falling to pieces pretty much from the jump. 

I figured, I work my ass off, I'll get the best work out of the way, and any time left over, that's bonus.

And then I met her.  Yes. It's that story.  I fell in love with someone so much better than me, so much more talented than me, and so much kinder than me.  When Tony made his first crack to her about my health, "How does it feel to know he's going to die before you?" And then, she started to cry. When I saw that look on her face, it started something.

I've been fat since the fifth grade.  At my top weight I was around 265, which for a 5'9" guy is... a lot.  I chiseled away some of that weight, and quit smoking (mostly), and managed to get my diabetes mostly under control.  And, as if to make damn sure things changed, she got pregnant.  And we had... her.  Hold on, let's get a picture of her in here for extra heart meltings.

But, even, then, primary to everything was getting enough work to pay for her to have the best life possible.  And I worked and worked, killing myself to get faster and better to make sure I could provide for her.

And then I got sick.  The migraines got worse. A simple flu would stretch out for weeks.  Slowly but surely, I came to realize that there are things more important than earning the most and working the best.  Things like her.  Both hers, actually.

And so, around two years ago, I bought a Fitbit and I started using a standing desk.  Then I started doing every phone call while frantically pacing my neighborhood like a crazy person.  Eventually I started jogging, and about one year ago today, I ran a 5k.  I did okay.  After that we (my wife has come on the crazy journey with me) started doing a race every month or so, all building up to the Disney Avengers Half Marathon.  

That kicked my ass, but, I did it.  I was the kid who used to walk around the track and smoke cigarettes while Gym class was going on.  And I ran a fucking half marathon.  

And then today... We did a 10k.  Which, technically, is not as impressive as a half marathon, BUT... I've been really, really sick once again.  I'm on week four of a cold, brought on by a change in my diabetes medication (as the one drug I've taken for a decade became suddenly ineffective).  Last night, I got home from attending Mary McCoy's wonderful launch party for her new book DEAD TO ME (name dropped only to help her sell a few books), and was about ready to die.  I was nauseous and dizzy, and ready to call it quits.  And then I looked at my daughter.  I looked at my wife.  I went to bed at 6pm, and woke up at 4am (which was really 3am, thanks to DST.)  I felt good enough to go.  Not great. Not 100%. But, I could do this.  Without having trained in a month, with an empty stomach and a cloudy head.

And I did it.  

In fact, I didn't just do it.  I beat my best time.  By a LOT.  Close to 5 or 6 minutes shaved off my usual time.  And I did it sick and tired.  And as I ran today, I felt shitty.  Really shitty.  I felt broken of spirit and weak of body.  

And then... I thought about them.  My two precious women, the literal wind beneath my broken, weak wings. And I ran. 

And so, in some ways, I've always been.  Before I was running towards death.  Smoking and eating my way to an early grave.  But now, I'm running away from it.  I'm running to make sure I'm here to watch my daughter graduate, become a Doctor/Lawyer/Marine Biologist (simultaneously) and to celebrate a retirement of some sort with my beautiful, regal queen of a wife. 

I'll never stop running. If things go bad, and I backslide, I know that it won't be for long, and it won't be permanent, because I have the most important people in my world there to support and lift me up.  

That's what today meant. That's what running means.  And that's why I'll be here for as long as humanly possible. 

Catching Up

Sigh. I apologize for disappearing into Twitter.  It's tough, because it's so much easier to jot down thoughts than it is to write something substantial.  So, here's quick recap of what's what in the land of Fialkov.

Tumor - huge production and printing problems have knee-capped the book.  We're hoping to see it released sometime next month, which, considering Noel, Rob, and I turned in a final version sometime in October is a bit horrifying.  I wish there was something I could do to get it out, but, alas, it's been out of my hands for quite a while, and there's not much I can do about it.  In the meantime, I hope you're following Noel's new blog at http://www.noeltuazon.com.

Fialkov/Ekedal Book - Rahsan and I have a new book that's compeltely written and about 2/5ths drawn. It'll be released/announced by Top Cow, hopefully later this year. It's a serial killer book, and in a lot of ways, I feel like it's a spiritual sequel to Tumor, although, technically, it's set in the same world as Elk's Run. This is not noticeable by anybody but me. Yet. Follow Rahsan's amazing work at both his portfolio site and his blog. Rahsan, you'll remember, drew The Cleaners from Dark Horse which had my name on it despite my not working on it that much at all. He also drew The Crazies issue that I wrote that came out last month.

Fialkov/Fleecs Book - Coming 2010/2011 from Oni Press. This is a Sci-Fi Comedy that's sort of a cross between what the amazing Mr. Fleecs does and what Kody and I do on Punks. It'll hopefully wind up being one of those manga style long form series that everybody goes all ga-ga for. It's been a blast collaborating with Tony on it, and I think that really comes through in the script and art.

Fialkov/Tuazon Book - It looks like Noel and I may try to raise some money to do our third book via Kickstarter. I have a couple of projects in mind, including the long gestating Three Rivers, a non-zombie zombie book, or possibly a Y.A. horror/adventure book I've been working on. More to come.

Upcoming Appearances: This weekend I'll be at Wondercon, signing at Top Cow from 12-2 on Saturday and the early afternoon on Sunday. I'll also be spending time at Rahsan's table in Artist Alley. I'll also be at the kickass Isotope Party Saturday night.

Following that, it looks like I'll be at C2E2 in Chicago, theoretically with advance copies of Tumor on hand. Will confirm once we're a little closer. Then, of course, you'll be able to find me at San Diego Comic Con, and, in October, at Long Beach Comic Con.

Life Changing Stuff: For those who don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, Christina and I are having a baby girl. She's due in June, and we couldn't be more excited. There'll be more on her pretty soon.

And that's that. I'm hoping to start posting and talking at length about what I'm working on and what's going on in my life a bit more, and I apologize for the absenteeism.

Tumor Chapter Two is LIVE!

Hey folks,It's been an amazing couple of weeks over here at Hoarse and Buggy Central. First, was the near instantaneous sell out of the Tumor Ashcan at San Diego Comic-Con. Thank you all so much for coming out and supporting the book!

Secondly, through a strange twist of fate, a tv show I worked on briefly last year was nominated for an Emmy Award, and, yours truly was one of the credited writers, meaning I can now introduce myself as Emmy Award Nominee Joshua Hale Fialkov. I expect each of you to do the same.

Third, Tumor - Chapter One was a huge hit on Amazon! It made it all the way up to #6 out of all graphic novels on Amazon. Not just digital, ALL graphic novels. I think we were even beating DC's super huge Final Crisis for a while.

Which brings me to the last quick news, which is that you can now purchase Chapter Two of Tumor on Amazon for a measly dollar. It's available right now for your Kindle, iPhone, or iPod Touch. Every purchase is showing Amazon that we're a market that matters and that they need to actively serve with their devices, so, please, if not for me, then for the future of comics, go check out the book. You can do so here:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002J256D8?tag=joshuahalefia-20&camp=213381&creative=390973&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=B002J256D8&adid=02NYEV9NCP1J78TB2Z77&

Again, thank you all for your continued support, and for helping to spread the word!

Thanks!

j. http://www.thefialkov.com http://www.tumorthecomic.com

Writing with Confidence

So, this has more to do with me saying my own thoughts out loud (in public) than being of any practical use to anybody other than me. I've been writing professionally for coming on 8 years. It's been my primary means of support for about four of those years. In all of that time, the thing that tends to bog me down, get in the way of trying new things, and generally stand in my way is mostly me. I've had some bad experiences. Everything from writing partners who treat me as a junior member to writing partners who barely bother to wake up, to those around me belittling what I know I'm here to do. But, I've also had unprecedented support. From my friends, my wife, my agent, my peers, and my fans. Hell, the devotion and support my wife shows me in every ridiculous endeavor I throw myself into would be more than enough for me, but, to have all of you great people standing there cheering me makes even the hardest day worth while. So, the good sort of cancels out the bad (no matter how much I like to bitch about the bad... c'mon, everybody loves a good story about a douchebag!)

But still, with all of that, the one thing I constantly have to fight, is my own confidence. Knowing that I do know what I'm doing, and that I can do what I do well. Last year was a tough year for me creatively, despite the huge amount of output I had. Some of the problems with the work was my fault, some was due to outside forces. But every single one should've been combated with the fact that about my work, and what I'm trying to do, I'm the expert. Nobody knows how to do what I do better than me.

I don't mean that in a broad, "I'm the greatest writer ever" sense. I mean that I'm the greatest writer who is me ever. Despite the poor sentence construction of that last sentence. What I do isn't for everybody, and, judging by the sales on some of my creator owned work in the past, it may in fact be for nobody. But, I can be remarkably proud of just about everything I've ever done.

I've rid myself of many of the toxic people and situations that polluted a lot of my work last year, and, for the past few weeks have been working only on my own work. Virtually no work for hire. Just my new graphic novel with Noel, my young adult fantasy novel, and a few pitches for projects that I desperately love. I've put on hold a few things that I'm excited about, but have less of a handle on to focus on the three or four things that make me deliriously happy at the thought of them happening.

With the graphic novel's new publisher doing some amazing prep work, some genuine passion from a few Hollywood folk on the novel, and everybody rooting for me on each of the projects I'm working on, I finally feel like I'm getting my shot to do what I was meant to do.

And, for a change, I'm considerably less worried about blowing it.

Happy Holidays

Hey gang,It's been a nice relaxing couple of weeks since wrapping things up on LG15. I've gotten to catch up on the past six months worth of movies, finish up some projects that had been anxiously awaiting my attention, and spend some quality time with the wife.

I've got some really cool stuff on tap for 2009, most of which I can't talk about yet, but, I do promise you'll get to see much more comics work from me than you did in 2008 (which, considering the sheer amount of stuff that came out this year seems like a big challenge.)

So, thank you for your kindness, support, love, and proselytizing for the church of Josh.

Happy Holidays,

j. www.thefialkov.com

Things Learned in 2008

Not particularly sage advice that has struck me on this December evening... Closed doors and locked doors are two different things. One you can always go back and reopen, the other requires a small piece of metal.

Working with amazing people teaches you infinitely more than working with the average.

Applause for a job well done is nice. Knowing you did a good job is better.

Find the things, people, places, jobs, etc you love, and do them. Everything else is a waste of time.

Technology is amazing. Technology is a huge pain in the ass.

Life is considerably easier with an amazing woman standing at your side.

The only way to learn is by doing. The only way to do... well that would be to actually do it.

Mistakes are worth making if you can actually recognize them and attempt to fix them.

There's nothing more valuable than talented people.

When you have faith in people nine times out of ten they won't disappoint you. That tenth time is probably worth suffering through.

Ah, the non-stop race of life...

And, in typical blogger fashion, I now apologize for more or less disappearing the past few weeks. The new job is going amazingly well, and should be outright announced in the coming days. I've got a podcast over on Word Balloon talking about it, and the huge stack of other projects in the immediate future. That should be posted anytime now. Otherwise, don't forget to preorder Cyblade #1 and #2 from Top Cow, The Cleaners #1 from Dark Horse, and to pick up the 1st volume of the Afro Samurai manga from Tor Books.

As for recommended reading, I'm all caught up on Monster, and am currently making my way through Tezuka's own serial killer/psycho sexual adventure MW, which is a must read for fans of Monster.

Been rewatching Six Feet Under with Christina (it's her first time) and reminded of just how powerful the show is, and, suprisingly, how much less depressing than I thought it was. We've got season one of Mad Men on tap next, and I'm psyched to get started on it, as the pilot was so damn good, and everybody else seems to shit babies they like the rest of it so much.

I'll try and post a 'what I'm listening to' later this week, as the day job has introduced me to some pretty cool new stuff that's right on the verge, yada yada.

Later gators.

Beginnings, Endings, Continuings

What a week. Tomorrow morning I start that new job I talked about a few weeks back. This is a full-time, well paid writing job, not in comics, wherein I get an opportunity to create content, lead a crew of other guys, and make some cool shit that a hundred thousand people or more will see. Coming from comics where a comic selling 10k is a big deal, it's... humbling.

You may notice I'm writing this at about 3 am. I've always had nerves before the big day. And tomorrow, I'm coming to realize, is a big day. One phase of my career is complete, and now, I move on to step two. Which doesn't mean I'm leaving comics. Far from it. In fact, I have more comic work lined up in the next few months, and more projects on the immediate horizon than I've ever had.

The thing is that this job represents a moment of validation for me. It came about because of a bunch of different reasons, most of them because of the weird job experience I have. It's rare that you find a company who can look at a resume as weird as mine (Alternative Rock DJ at age 14, Record Store counter jockey at 19, theater and film major with a low budget feature at 20, Production Coordinator on a slew of reality tv shows at 22, Comics Publisher at 24, Freelance Comic Writing Guy at 26...) and say "Well, shit, you've got a crazy amount of experience doing these crazy things and you'd be fucking great for this."

As we wander through life, it's ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies... they can seem like chaos... a meaningless storm of 'things.' To be able look back at all of it... from broken hearts to hard-fought victories, and realize that not only was it all worth it, but, you wouldn't do a damn thing differently... That's simply an amazing feeling.

I have more in my life to be grateful for than any guy should have. A beautiful, charming, genius, and sexy wife; a thriving, satisfying career, wherein I'm beyond proud of each and every project I've worked on; and an amazing group of people who provide nothing but love, faith, and support (both business-wise, and personal-like).

So, the next few months are going to be a radical departure from my life of the past few years. And yes, I'm nervously typing rather than sleeping. But those nerves? That fear? It's imbued with hope, excitement, and the knowledge that things are going to keep getting better.

To tomorrow, which is to say today, and yesterday which is forever.

Oh the Places You Will Go...

It's been one of those 'spin around and see where you land' kind of weeks... hell, months. I had what can only be called a golden opportunity pop up the past few weeks that is going to massively alter my career path (at least for the time being.) I can't quite talk about it yet, but as soon as I can I will. So, I've been racing through as much of my already lined up work as possible trying to wrap it all up before starting on this new gig. It's been... harrowing, I suppose is the word. But, totally worth it. The thing about this job, and what I've come to realize about life/careers/writing in general, is that I got this job for because of more than just my writing. It was a confluence of events... I had my agent cheerleading for me, an amazing meeting with the folks from the company, and then... the suprising part. It turns out the years of non-writing that I did. Working in TV production, running Hoarse and Buggy, hell, even running the movie theater I ran in college... all these little things that at the time were just jobs added together become a "wealth of experience" that got me, what in many ways seems to be a dream job.

So, to all of you out there slaving through a day job and hating every minute of it, and wishing you were writing for a living, don't forget that whether you realize it or not, that job will come in handy one day. Whether it's the characters you meet (and then use in your work), the practical skills you pick up, or even just the discipline of doing the same thing every day.

If you work in the entertainment industry, the government let's you write off a LOT of stuff come tax time. Just be marking your occupation as Entertainment Industry, suddenly, you can write off DVD's, CD's, TV's, Computers, Software, Video Games, Comic books... I suspect most people are just happy to get the write off, but, the truth of it is the experience of reading, listening, watching, and experiencing art is what allows you to grow as a creator. I just think it's important to realize that it doesn't stop there.

Practically speaking, I'll still be working in comics, and I have a slew of books already lined up for the next year or two, and in fact, should have more books on the stands than I did this year. I'll probably be a little less on the blog and the twitter, and won't be attending as many conventions, but, that aside, it'll be business as usual.

So, folks, here's to the future.

Rory Root

Everybody, everywhere are posting their Rory Root stories for all to see. For those who don't know, Rory was one of the real landmark retailers in the country. He managed to run a huge shop in a competitive market, cater to everyone, and, do it with a kind heart and a smile. In this business, that's a rarity. He was a man who geniuinely loved what he did, and wanted everybody to love it as much as he did. Earlier this evening, he passed away. At Comic-Con last year, I was signing at his booth and he didn't have any copies of Elk's Run on hand. He'd ordered the books, and Random House for whatever reason, failed to deliver. He was furious.  Not at me, but, at my publisher, and at himself. And not one of those huffy "You're losing money, asshole!" ways. He said that he was upset that a creator who's work he loved was at his booth and that he was being embarrassed by not having his favorite work by that author at his booth.

It might've just been Rory feeding me a line, but, I know that I walked a little bit prouder knowing that Rory at the very least knew who I was, and cared enough to put on a good show. The guy was a class act, with an even bigger heart. His kind words of encouragement always brightened me up during a grueling con, and frankly, the thought of San Diego without Rory perched on his stool... it's hard to imagine.

So, here's to Rory wherever he is, I'm sure it's well-organized and stocked to the gills with all of his favorite books.

WHY GOD WHY?

So, let's recap.  Yesterday I lost an almost finished script that's due in tomorrow.  Last night, my carpal tunnel started acting up, leading to my hands swelling so much I can't get my VERY loose fitting wedding ring off, and then this morning?  Yeah.  That's right.  I have laryngitis. I quit.

Here's photographic evidence of my quitting, with wrist braces.

Last Chance to Vote for the Harvey Awards...

Hey gang,Harvey Award ballots are due tomorrow by midnight. So, once again, if you're a comics professional of any kind (writer, retailer, artist, editor) you may submit a ballot.

And, just to coordinate our efforts, I've gone ahead and prepared one for you.

http://hoarseandbuggy.com/Downloads/Harvey_2008_nom_ballot.txt Right click and save as, then edit in your name, and send it to the address on the ballot.

Thanks again for taking the time. The nominations can mean a bump in sales, which means we get to publish another day.

Viva la resistance (or some such thing.)

j.

Buried

I've got three or four projects crushing down on me this week, and a few of my beloved Creator Owneds look like they may have homes later this year... so I'm in total and utter lock down mode.  Forgive me for disappearing for chunks of time. Viva la resistance.

What We Did Today

http://www.esotouric.com/ The wife and I were invited along for what is now the second tour I've taken with the kind folks of Esotouric.  They specialize in 1940's flavored tours of the city, and today we went on their West Side Chandler tour.  It was, as the first one was, an absolute blast, and really quite educational.

But, as great as the tour was, there was just no way it could top our trip to what is probably the absolute coolest place in all of Los Angeles.

The Museum of Jurassic Technology 

It's what is known as a Cabinet of Curiosities.  A bizarre collection of scientific oddities, artistic accomplishments, historical artifacts, and just plain bizarre shit.  It's literally like stumbling through the brain of a schizophrenic.  From sculptures in the eyes of needles to Ricky Jays' collection of decaying dice it's really just one of the most bizarre, inspiring, and down right interesting places I've ever been.  Add to that, I've been trying to put together a book about a Cabinet of Curiosity for the past few years, and you can figure out why I reacted so strongly.

Anyways, it's a downright necessity for any visit to Los Angeles.

I'm on a diet...

photo-30.jpg To combat my diabetes problems. It involves eating the above whenever I'm hungry in between meals.

My theory is that the idea is that it's so gross you no longer want to eat. Thus far, it's working.

Contained in the bowl is just broccoli and spinach boiled in a water and soy sauce mixture.

You may be able to tell how thrilled I am to be eating it.

Where Have I Been?

It's been a long weekend.  I started having diabetes related ailments sometime last week, and they came into full effect by Sunday evening.  So, while I'm doing somewhat better now, I'm still not quite one hundred percent, and the new medications I'm on are having... interesting side effects, to say the least.  I'm going through a fairly strict 'no carbs' couple of days, to help bring my blood sugar back down, and it's starting to work, although, I'm pretty much starving constantly. Despite all of that, I've been working my ass off on a couple of different projects, and should have more news on stuff in the coming weeks.

Oh, and if I haven't mentioned it, you should go visit http://www.thesandwichkings.com