Thursday, December 20, 2012

Arrrrrrgh! (Warning: This Post has nothing to do with Pirates)

So, yesterday, I was able to enjoy one of the best days a writer can have when I announced my new Aspen project, JIRNI. I love finally being able to talk about. I've done work in the fantasy genre before (most notably my time writing SOULFIRE), but this is something a little different.

Now, let's compare that with today - one of the more frustrating days for a writer (at least for this writer).

Great ideas don't come everyday. We'd love to think they grow on trees and we could collect them by the bushel, but they are hard to come by. Now, don't get wrong, ideas come all the time and many of them can BECOME great ideas, but its more rare for an idea to spark and immediately you know you have something special. Something you can really sink your teeth into, have fun, and (god forbid) achieve a level of success with.

I know what you are saying - where's the frustrating part, JT? This all sounds fine and dandy.

Well, here it comes...

After doing research for several months and actually starting to write the project, I stumbled upon another work that is virtually identical. There you have it - Aaaarrrrgh!

Initially when I came up with the idea, I did my due diligence. I checked around, asked people, googled, searched through libraries and bookstores and on Amazon and Wikipedia in order to see if the idea had been done before. In truth, there were a couple of projects in the same vein, but I still felt good about moving forward in developing this particular project.

Like I said, I actually started writing it. And I don't mean just a couple pages of a script or a chapter or two of a book. I mean, SUBSTANTIAL work.

Cut to this afternoon when I visited my local Barnes and Noble (which it turns out is closing down in a week - double bummer). Wandering through the aisles, I stumbled upon a certain book that caught my eye. My heart sank as the grabbed the copy from the shelf. The title was troublesome, and then I read the blurb on the back of the book. Yep, there it was. Almost exactly the same idea I had been working on.

It's so deflating and disheartening. I felt like I got punched in the stomach. It really is nauseating as I think about all the time and energy and work put into it. All which is now useless. In the days to come, perhaps I'll figure out a way to adjust the story, rework a few things, and make it something different that I can still pursue, but for right now the project is gone.

All I can do tomorrow is try to find something else to fill that empty space, where the story in question used to live and breath.

God, I hate days like today.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's Time to take a JIRNI!

Open the floodgates!

One of the harder aspects about being a writer is keeping mum about new projects while you are developing them. When that spark of creative energy triggers and you find yourself scribbling away late at night, building entire worlds out of thin air, you want to share it with everyone that very instant. As you conjure up new characters and new challenges for them face, when you realize exactly what the story is about - where the heart and soul of it rests, you want to leap up and down shouting eureka.

But you can't. You have to keep it to yourself until it's time for the big announcement.  Well, luckily for me, today is that day. I am over-the-moon, thrilled to be able to announce my new creator book being published at ASPEN COMICS - JIRNI!

JIRNI, yes a play on the word "journey," is an epic fantasy adventure about a warrior princess named Ara, who finds herself on a quest to find her kidnapped mother. It celebrates everything I love about the fantasy genre - from the legendary works of Frazetta to the amazing icons like Conan, Flash Gordon, and John Carter; from the world of Dungeons and Dragons to Tolkien's fabled realm of Middle Earth. It's a dangerous world that is both familiar and yet different, with wild barbarians, cutthroat thieves, and exotic creatures. And, let's not forget the mythic d'jinn or genie of the lamp.

I owe a huge thanks to ASPEN COMICS for not only giving me the opportunity to publish it through them, but also for making JIRNI a part of their huge 10for10 initiative coinciding with the company's 10th anniversary. For that reason, the first issue of JIRNI hitting stores in April will only be $1! That's right - only a buck!

Joining me on the book are Paolo Pantalena and Brett Smith. Two amazing and talented artists that are bringing all their energy and excitement to the book. You can get just a taste in the covers seen above featuring inspiring pencils by Paolo, with awesome colors by Peter Steigerwald (not to mention the deft touch of Mark Roslan!).

In the coming weeks and months I'll be talking more about JIRNI and showing more artwork as we countdown to the premiere of the first issue in April. I really hope everyone checks out the book. It's going to be something special. I promise.


Friday, December 7, 2012

No Love for Superman?

It's been talked about before. People lamenting Superman for being boring. He's so powerful and indestructible, there is never a sense of danger for him. And, how can we relate to such a boy scout who can do anything?  He is a god among men, living with us without being one of us. I thought a lot about Superman as I prepared to take over Superman Beyond, but I also reflected on the character as I wrote Captain Atom.

Yes, Superman is an alien. He is way powerful, virtually indestructible, with abilities we can only dream about. He leads a seemingly charmed life - loving parents, trusting friends, a job he cherishes, and let's not forget an unbending moral spine.

That last part is what I think is the problem. It's not the power and strength. We can relate to the Hulk. It's not the impervious nature. We relate to Wolverine. Tony Stark thrives in his career. Peter Parker has loving people in his life. It's that pesky morality. As flawed humans, we have a hard time connecting with someone who seems to make all the right decisions with ease. Superman never wavers in his heart. He knows the right thing to do and simply does it. There is no battle, no inner-struggle. And, that is what makes him so very inhuman. Ironic, isn't it? His empathy, his ability to relate to us makes him seem foreign to us.

It even explains why some actually loathe Superman, hoping more than anything that he gets knocked down a peg or two. Because Superman serves as a mirror to our own behavior. He's the ultimate role model, and it frustrates us because we cannot live up to his gold standard. He's kind, responsible, and even-tempered. There isn't a mean bone in his body. And, he makes it look so damn easy. He doesn't belittle people to make himself feel better. He doesn't lash out in anger or greed or fear. Don't get me wrong, humans possess all the same altruistic traits. We are not monsters. But, our behavior ebbs and flows. We have moments to be proud of and moments to abhor.

Superman never has those lapses in judgment.

As for me, I don't loathe him or think he is boring. I admire him. He was always meant to be the beacon on the hill. The trick is to strive to reach the light without being dismayed when it exposes our own failings hidden in the shadows.