It does make me realize the legacy I am, with both parents gone. It makes me realize why we live and go on and still try. So I'm doing that. And now I'm going to talk about other things because those are what keeps me going. This is what I did since.
Books Of The South
I finally directed a short again after about two or three years. It was written by one of my buddies, a wonderful actor also, who I made a bad ass sister in the first short I wrote for the acting group I participate in. And the cast was all female except for my pale ass(and let's face it we all know I loved that). I also got to use green screen and figure all the angles to get that working. It was a blast, and my buddy Taylor was my assistant director(the only guy I absolutely trust behind the camera with me in front of it, because when I direct myself I need to know when I'm shitting the bed). I acted against fake holograms for most of it(until my wife arrived[!]). And we all had to be diligent about staying in character while keeping our eye lines. We've been talking about doing a sequel to the first short I wrote and some other shorts I wrote over the years.
With my good friends from the past I've been developing new shorts, and old shorts more personal to me, for my class at college, since we are basically bonded forever we look for any opportunity to work together. One of my favorite shorts I ever wrote, a very passionate, very short, very violent horror story about people who really love each other. It's gotten so I may have to make a short with all my screen actors guild friends to enter the union to make some more high budget shorts, with the goal of doing full length stuff, like the Brooks Laughton movie I was writing(I did a series of shorts with that character years ago). Some of my best friends here are getting major work, things I'd watch even if they were not on it, and its really encouraging because we push each other to get better, even though some of us are practically famous while others are like me, just making sure we get as good as possible, as good as our successful friends are. And none of us know it all. All of us visibly improve in front of each other.
I am obsessed with writing that makes my brain feel like popcorn. When someone is really creative and has stuff really thought out, the ideas hit you the audience one after another, leaving you breathless. Great books are like that. Great tv is like that. Great movies are like that. But only a few.
All I want to do with my comic writing is make peoples brain into popcorn. I want fun, but the ideas most of all to be what obsesses and hopefully makes you come back to look over it and read it again. I'm not doing head in boxes comics. I have to do art. For me, for money/survival, for the sake of my comics. I want to give everyone reasons to think about it after they read it. To return to it. To talk about it. To wonder where it's all going. It has a cast list, a detailed map made by me, a back illustration, a preview of next issue illustration, everything I can do to make you look at it again. Give you another thing to think about inside of it. Hint to all kinds of crazy places I'm taking it in the future. And hopefully give people characters that inspire them or interest them even if I didn't have a detailed plot for them to live in(but I do). New characters with new motivations and back stories. The only derivative thing I have in there is some people in costumes, but that isn't even as super heroic as it might look at first. None of it plays out cliche(I hate cliche).
I've been busting away at my comic. 6 pages to go(ten with the extra stuff(chapter title, cast list with map, back cover, possibly next issue preview image). It's complicated, about really driven people and suicidal missions, has a lot of characters I developed for many years, and one over aching story that ends in ten issues(one character will be 20 years old next year, and I plan to debut him somehow, even though he is not in my main comic till years later[he's in it from the start but in disguise until later, which somehow isn't a spoiler]). The first volume was written as a prequel about how the characters came to be, and how they met. The second was the big stuff since they would be established characters at that point. But since my prequel was in every way a first story, I gave it its own epic story, with the bigger second volume expanding all the dangling plot lines into something even bigger. Now I can't even imagine doing the story without this first volume, even though the second will feel like a point anyone could start reading from.
I can't wait to finish because then I can start showing preview images and color work and maybe start advertising. This would still be at the least a month away if not a few.
I just started my second and last year at acting school. My last day of first year was the day I got my bad news, and I still went. Because it was the only thing that could possibly keep me from breaking down. Because those people love me and I love them and we have a bond so I felt better with them around me.
Our first day we just learned about the new work. The next day at class I volunteered to go first(okay I wanted to impress the teacher by going first and being really intense and scary, because I came in all jolly and nice). The next time I did a meth head. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos(truthfully anything but too much is not enough, so honestly I didn't watch enough videos, but I've seen it in real life). I basically tried to practice by imagining all my muscles were popping, straightening and contracting uncontrollably, and sort of not noticing, being completely not self conscious, because I'm sure it looks dumb as hell, at least to me, but my teacher seemed to like it so much I didn't need to bring it back to perfect it(everyone else had to). So now I have to come back with another problem. I'm considering having an extreme short term memory(Mr. Short Term Memory played by Tom Hanks on SNL is one of my all time favorites, but I'm not going to copy anything, so it would be about finding something different in that).
But my other idea made more sense in a story, in a weird way, so I went with that instead. It was the meth head character, which I asked my teacher if I could bring back for one last thing and she let me. I did the meth head doing an impression of Michael Jackson's Bad. It went over really well. I basically came out all tweaked in a Hawaiian shirt and told an imaginary kid I'd show him how to deal with bullies, then I played the song, put on a leather jacket and started doing Michael Jackson moves while scratching my nose nervously and just going all out crazy pointing and grabbing my crotch and whipping my head ain't her way, sometimes with a slap, and then kicking my legs al sideways like he does and punching my foot. It was crazy, but it was supposed to be, then I got the knock, which meant I had to react to another situation, so I pretended it was my dealer and I owed him money, so I hid all my shit, and took my money out to give it to him, but it was my acting partner pretending to be my best friend, and he doesn't know I'm a meth head because he's been gone(this is the story we made up to improv within). Since I hadn't seen him in a few months and I just finished dancing like Michael Jackson I was exhausted and excited, which made him not know I was at tweaker yet. But then I quickly and nervously turned the music back on and showed him my dance, which he joined in on(they loved that part). I think he was twerking while I was pumping my crotch in the air at him. Then he told me he was getting married. All he knew was that I would say know, but I hadn't said no yet. That was when all the meth weirdness stuff came out, because I made up that I wouldn't go because then everyone would see how messed up I got since my friend left. It was fun and I was totally exhausted by the end of it. But I got good notes and my teacher gave me the idea to maybe do bipolar next. I'm practically like that(though not really). I was starting to think I might really be just a small tiny bit autistic(although I don't seem to be in that generational range) but then I came to the conclusion I just spent too much time alone and am strangely socially awkward(I say strangely because I seem to do perfectly fine when it counts, and with people I like, and I'm not early as self conscious as I used to be from all this acting).
That was all off topic, but it reminded me how our teacher sort of saw the relevance in Kanye Wests egotistical rantings, that thing that made me get this far, the belief that there isn't that much difference between you and your idols. They are human. Great, but human. And human is achievable. Godlike is not. I don't hold any celebrity to that. I have seen their human ways in real life. Sure, they're all fucked in the head more than normal people, but so am I. So the only thing stopping me is me. If I let myself.
I told my friend that out of all the arts I've done, acting is really the only one where the difference between giving 100% and 90% is an award versus okay. In writing you can get away with 90%(you shouldn't but we all know you can). Same with comics. Art. Directing. Every other little thing. But Acting...90% just ain't genius. It's really good. But still far from great. And its so noticeable.
Its fucking awesome. The online part is too. Driving in LA has now become something I have to consciously remember is real because barreling along and running over idiots(I like calling them that because it's unnecessarily mean) and shooting everyone is way too much fun in the game. I actually loudly giggly every fucking time I kill someone or run them off the road in the online part. And then I get crazy pissed every time it happens to me, like its an affront to human dignity. Then I go and chase down some random poor player and start giggling again.
Breaking Bad(no spoilers)
It was the kind of show, run the kind of way I only dream of. Everything I write is finite, with a definite end. I love making intricate plots(outside of my non intricate stream of consciousness autobiographical comics). I try to bury the plot in character stuff to make it sneak up on you, so it doesn't seem predictable. Breaking Bad had the great plot right on top, and snuck up on you with depth of character. It was something that truly had as little compromise as possible. It completely followed through with its characters and best of all, the consequences. Consequences, real and horrible and inevitable. Probably the biggest thing non storytellers who ruin movies and TV fear the most. That's why this felt so different. And luckily it was directed as well as it was written and acted. It made it even better that Vince Gilligan is obviously a fan of westerns and stand offs and most likely worships at the altar of Sergio Leone(the first director who I truly saw a perfection of graphic storytelling in his Good, Bad, Ugly trilogy, and his perfect Once Upon A Time In The West).
I was inspired this week because a Geof Darrow comic came out, and he is one of my all time favorites. I am obsessed with his art. Also Battling Boy, a rare graphic novel from Paul Pope one of the most unique voices in comics. I need to see stuff like that to remember how good comics can be. Plus I bought the huge art book of Bob Peak, one of the all time best Illustrator/Fine Artist/movie poster artist. His stuff makes my brain explode. All these guys do. And that's all I want anymore.
I have to remember how far I've come. Bad things will always happen, but good things happen too. A year ago I got my hope back at that Morrisoncon convention in Vegas. But I still thought I might never act again, let alone direct or write for screen. I'm extremely happy with all the progress since then. I've written, acted, and directed both myself and for other people. I know people who actually get me here. A lot of people. It was practically impossible to meet people like that for my whole life before now. I thought my life was over last summer. This summer I was happy and free. Some of these projects will mutate or fall away, but I have a bunch of pokers in the fire. Failure can happen a thousand ways but at least I stacked my deck. I'll always lose some things but I at least have a few things I can win. And those are amazing things.
I even have to balance my time because I spend a lot of time prepping for class or writing for stuff to direct and act in, and working on my comic. I'm so proud of the comic, and fairly confident of it's salability. I actually have that as my priority. It is as epic as I could get the first volume(and the first issue is the heavy dip into that goulash). It really shows a side to my writing/storytelling that I can never do on screen without a hundred million dollar budget. I get to do stuff with characters, stuff I wish I read from other authors. Stuff that would take seasons to do on tv(and again, the first volume alone would be Game Of Thrones[but science/speculative fiction]sized budget, increasing every season). They would never make that. But if they did guess who I think should direct it in my fantastical future?
My career course was set since before I was a teenager. This was always my plan. These paths are supposed to cross. I don't believe in destiny except in reverse. After you look back and put the pieces together and see the lines. At least artistically they are going exactly like I dreamed as a child. It's been ridiculous for 25 years. But it seems a lot less so now. I have a future. I have hope.
Now I just need to work on getting a new muse.
P.S.: All of the drawings are of my friends from class. I didn't draw any of the men because I don't give a shit about drawing men I know(even if they are great friends). So I sort of drew various girls who were my temporary muse for that moment. I drew every girl in class. Whoops.
P.P.S.: I promise some comic art or film stuff really soon. I know two shorts I starred in will be up in a month or two. Plus I have that one I directed and starred in to edit. And me and Taylor film test stuff or really short stuff all the time. So something will be up soon.