On Things I’ve Been Reading

Write Now! Issue #19
Published by TwoMorrows Publishing

There are two magazines on writing that I routinely pick up. One is The Writer. The other is Write Now!, published by TwoMorrows Publishing. (No, I don’t read Writer’s Digest. It’s a bit useless. The special themed reprints? Sure, I’ll pick those up. But the regular issues? Bunch of fluff.)

Write Now! is a quarterly magazine about writing comics.

Now, I don’t have any abiding desire to write comics, though if Dan Didio called me tomorrow and said, “Allyn, I want you to write Azrael, Hawkman, or a new Jason Todd series,” I can guarantee you I’d have ideas for him immediately. ;)

There are two reasons I pick up Write Now! First, it has interesting interviews. And second, it has good how-to articles. One of the best books on writing I’ve ever read, for instance, was Syd Fields’ Screenplay, even though I have no itching to go to Hollywood. What I learned from it, though, were techniques for constructing and graphing plots that I have used in my own prose. In Write Now! I’ve found articles on technique, managing one’s career, and the like. While I may have no aptitude to write comics, the technique and business articles are still of interest to me as a writer, because they’re practical articles on how other writers, facing similar problems, found solutions.

Issue #19 is mainly a Batman issue. There’s an interview with Denny O’Neil, a discussion with Christopher and Jonathan Nolan about The Dark Knight, a making-of feature of the “Heart of Hush” storyline that just finished in Detective Comics, and Bob Greenberger talks about writing The Batman Encyclopedia. There’s also a lengthy interview with Max Allan Collins, the author of novels, short stories, graphic novels, comics and comic strips, and more; he’s probably best known now as the author of Road to Perdition, but he was also the writer of the Dick Tracy comic strip for a long time, and he has a wealth of comics experience. There’s also an article about getting started on pop culture writing.

If you’re at all interested in how comics are written, or if you want a good magazine with writers talking about the problems and challenges of writing today (for instance, there’s a bit in the latest issue about the pitfalls of Wikipedia), give Write Now! a try. It’s worth your time. And it’s certainly going to stay on my regular reading list. :)

The Dreamer #1
IDW Publishing
Written and drawn by Lora Innes

When I worked for EB Games, I said to one of my employees one day that I was getting annoyed. A new Call of Duty game had come out, and I said, “How many times can gamers retake Omaha Beach? How many times can gamers refight the Battle of the Bulge, or the Siege of Stalingrad? Why is it always World War II for these first-person shooters? Where’s the World War I shooters? Where’s the Korean War shooters? Hell, where’s the Revolutionary War shooters?”

My employee gave me an incredulous look. “Revolutionary War?”

“Sure,” I said. “Make it hard, give it a realistic rate of fire. You get to fire once every other minute. I’d buy that.”

Do you hear me, game developers? We need more Revolutionary War shooters.

Which brings me to this. A few months ago, I was flipping through Previews when something caught my attention. IDW was releasing a Revolutionary War comic.

“That sounds neat,” I thought. “The world needs more Revolutionary War comics,” so I made a mental note to pick the first issue of The Dreamer up when it came out.

The story is a bit of a riff on Somewhere in Time, or possibly Quantum Leap. By day, Bea lives a mundane life with absent parents, friends at school, and a boy she likes but gets completely flummoxed around. By night, she lives in British-occupied New York during the Revolutionary War where an American soldier named Warren rescues her from a British man-of-war.

I liked it.

The artwork is gorgeous, the story is intriguing, the characters are sharply drawn. I could use more Revolutionary War action, a little less life in the modern day. It’s pretty obvious that the story is a romance; Bea’s a dreamer, and I imagine that she’ll be torn between her life and love in the modern day and in the 1770’s.

It’s based on a webcomic, and I may start reading that, but I don’t want to read ahead; I’m afraid of spoiling Bea’s story. I want
the answers to unfold, basically. :)

I will, however, keep picking up the issues as IDW publishes them. Because, really, the world does need more Revolutionary War comics. :)

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #4
Marvel Comics
Written by Terry More
Art by Craig Rousseau

It’s another day for Mary Jane Watson. At the end of the third issue, she watched a news bulletin that showed Spider-Man in battle over New York City, and out of web fluid, he was plunging to his death.

Fortunately, Spider-Man survived. He crushed a car in his fall, and limped away.

Mary Jane receives a phone call from Peter Parker, asking her how her day went. Then at school the next day she has a run-in with Harry Osborn that goes badly, and she discovers that someone is spreading malicious rumors about her.

MJ wants to fit in. MJ wants to have friends. Only, now she feels like she’s alone and on her own. She worries about Spider-Man. She wonders who hates her so much. And her friend Peter isn’t doing so well with school jock Flash Thompson.

High school is rough, and Moore continues his exemplary work of portraying how rough high school can be for Mary Jane. Craig Rousseau’s art is simply charming to look at. You don’t need to know anything about Spider-Man to enjoy this comic. And if you’re not reading Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, what are you waiting for?

I’m going to miss this series when it’s done next month. :/

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