Art + Update

Featured image: “Mahou Shoujo Cotton” by Maruuki.

I just finished working through my final pass of my upcoming novel, Jake and the Dynamo: Down and Out in Fifth Grade. I was waffling on the bonus chapter I had previously written for the end, but I think I’m going to expand it slightly and keep it. It’s not long enough to be sufficient bonus material, so among other things, I’m going to spend today working on a short story that will also go in the book, the working title of which is, “Young Rifle Maiden Plays It Safe.” That story, like the bonus chapter, will not be available on the blog.

I think I have things worked out with Roffles Lowell. He’s interested in doing the interior art. Right now, he’s just waiting for me to tell him what size, dimensions, and format he needs to work in, and whether I need black and white as well as color. He also offered to produce pictures for the chapter headings and section breaks, and I think I’ll probably take him up on that to give the book the appropriately gaudy YA novel look.

So things are coming together, albeit slowly. In my most recent pass over the story, I expanded a few sections, revised others, and fixed the inevitable typos that slipped through the earlier editing (and I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed a few on this pass, too). Also, because of the way I’m writing the story, posting as I go, a few inevitable inconsistencies have crept in here and there, so I’ve taken the opportunity to correct those as well. They mostly involve minor issues like the length of T.B.’s hair, Tsubasa’s threat competency rating, or how much access Marionette has to her own computer code. These are the same kinds of things you’ll notice in, for example, long-running web comics, even ones by creators who make more careful notes than I do.

The initial drafts go through my writer’s group and also get about three go-overs from me (once before going to the group, once after, and once in hard copy) before they go online, so what you see when the story updates is what we might call “upper middle draft,” as opposed to rough or final. Now that I’ve given the novel version my own edits, I think I’ve done all I can without someone else’s eyes on it. I haven’t lined up an editor yet, but hope to have that underway in the near future.

Presumably, after the editor has given it a go-over, it will need some rewriting.

A few years ago, it crossed my mind that it would be fun to write a light novel series, so I guess I’m living the dream, though Down and Out in Fifth Grade perhaps does not qualify as a light novel, since it’s about 95,000 words, whereas light novels generally run 40,000 to 50,000. So I guess I’m writing a novel series that’s light-novel-ish.

And if you’re following the series online, we’re already six chapters into volume 2, which presently has the working title of Jake and the Dynamo: Dead to Rights. It will probably contain approximately twenty chapters and around 100,000 words, just like volume 1.

Major Old-School Anime Titles Hit Blu-Ray

Format war can have a silver lining. As Blu-ray continues to replace DVDs, it seems some old anime series have come back to the market this year. I haven’t been keeping a super-close eye on this like a fanatic, so when I say “back to,” I might be speaking loosely in some cases, but still.

I only regret that, due to life circumstances, my current anime budget is zero. If it weren’t, I’d snatch these up. So, just to be clear, this is a list of stuff I want, not stuff I’m reviewing. I believe strongly in compensating artists for their work, so I don’t do bootlegs, and that has the unfortunate effect of putting a lot of gaps in my first-hand anime knowledge. I’m passing on the news of these titles because a few of these are works I tried to acquire legitimately in the past, but failed to do so. For that reason, their re-release is notable.

This is a handful of arbitrarily selected “want to see” titles based solely on my personal taste. (NOTE: You may need to turn off Adblock to see the images.)

Continue reading “Major Old-School Anime Titles Hit Blu-Ray”

Review: ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’

It’s not the Batman movie we deserve, but the one that we need.

The LEGO Batman Movie. Directed by Chris McKay. Written by Seth Grahame-Smith et al. Starring Will Arnett, Michael Cera, and Rosario Dawson. 104 minutes. Warner Bros. Rated PG. CNS Rating is A-II—adults and adolescents.

This may be the greatest Batman movie ever made. And heaven knows a lot of them have been made.

Although it comes from before my time, I grew up watching the Batman television series from the ’60s, starring Adam West. As a small child, I thought the show was hysterically funny. I would sit in front of the TV and laugh my head off, and my father assures me that his cousins used to do the same thing when he was a kid, watching it in its original run.

I was in grade school when Tim Burton directed Batman starring Michael Keaton. When that movie came out, Batman was suddenly all the rage. Every kid at my school was in to Batman, except for me. I didn’t care for this new, bloody, violent, brooding vision, even if it was closer to the spirit of the source material. The Batman I loved was bright and colorful and happy, with really, really cheesy acting. Continue reading “Review: ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’”

Weaponizing [sic]

That’s sic, dude.

We’ve all seen “[sic],” and most of us have probably used it. This little word in brackets is, of course, a way to show that a quotation is presented as-is and that any typos, grammatical errors, or other problems are in the original, and are not the result of defective copying.

Out of curiosity, I looked the word up and discovered, to no surprise, that it’s Latin. It means “so” or “thus.”

In the age of the internet, sic occasionally gets used in a snarky fashion. I once read an entertaining essay in which a writer vehemently criticized another, quoted him frequently, and presented sic with every quotation as a passive-aggressive way of announcing that he considered the one he was quoting to be an idiot.

Urban Dictionary specifically points out this abuse of sic, quoting from Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots and Leaves, “Book reviewers in particular adore to use sic. It makes them feel terrific, because what it means is that they’ve spotted this apparent mistake, thank you, so there is no point in writing in.”

In informally published internet writing, such an abuse of sic can be amusing, but in more official sources, it is obnoxious. I was aghast when I typed “What does sic mean?” into Google and got the following from Google’s built-in dictionary thingy:

used in brackets after a copied or quoted word that appears odd or erroneous to show that the word is quoted exactly as it stands in the original, as in a story must hold a child’s interest and “enrich his [ sic ] life.”.

Whoever wrote this definition went out of his way to correct [sic] something that is not an error. “A story must hold a child’s interest and enrich his life” is a grammatically correct sentence. In English, the masculine pronoun is used when the sex of the antecedent is unknown.

This is one small example of the magical thinking that afflicts our age, the belief that one can change reality by manipulating words. Some effeminate, lisping, limp-wristed, low-T weenie actually felt the need, even when engaged in an activity as necessary, unassuming, and (usually) wholesome as writing the dictionary, to signal his virtue by screwing with the language. The wiener who wrote this went out of his way to find an example for this definition that he could politically correct instead of actually correct, and he thereby rendered the definition false.

And that’s just sic and wrong.

The Luck o’ the Irish

Featured image from Madoka Magica online game.

Our featured image is two years old, but, hey, finding St. Patrick’s Day-themed magical girl art is hard.

So, anyway, happy St. Patrick’s Day. I’m Catholic, and now is the season of Lent, which is an ancient practice of fasting for forty days prior to the celebration of Easter, which lasts for fifty days. This practice of fasting before feasts is a tradition of ours, as it makes the feasts grander. Continue reading “The Luck o’ the Irish”

Happy White Day

Art taken from the Anime Art Museum.

We can’t go full weeb unless we mention White Day. Japan has retooled the Christian holiday of St. Valentine’s Day into a day on which women give chocolate to men instead of the other way around. In 1978, Japan’s National Confectionary Industry Association created White Day as a day for men to reciprocate.

It is a tradition that you’re supposed to give three times as much on White Day as you got on Valentine’s Day. So be sure to do something nice for your magical girl today.

I might have a story about Jake giving candy to Dana … but I’m doing my taxes instead.

So, anyway, happy White Day. This holiday, I should note, is not only celebrated in Japan, but also in South Korea, though their tradition is different. Instead of having boys give girls candy, they lock students in a school and make them fight monsters and kill one another.

Team Pizza! (and a J&tD update)

Art by Roffles Lowell

My schedule is still fairly harsh through this coming week, but after Saint Paddy’s Day, things will slow down a bit for me. I hope to be posting more regularly.

Things are coming along smoothly so far on the publication process of the first volume of JAKE AND THE DYNAMO, which is currently under the working title of Down and Out in Fifth Grade. There’s no projected publication date yet, but some of the earliest preliminary work is done. I’m working on the bonus content: I had originally produced an extra chapter, but now I’m unhappy with it, and I’m considering instead including a novelette featuring Rifle Maiden’s misadventures while babysitting the Bubble Princesses.

I believe I’ve chosen a studio for cover art, and I don’t think he’ll mind if I say that I’m talking to Roffles Lowell about the possibility of doing interior illustrations. No commitments have been made, so this post isn’t an attempt to pressure him or anything. But I really enjoy the YA look of his style, and I appreciate that it differs from the standard style of Japanese light novels or Japanese-influenced work. This is obviously a weeb novel, so I like the idea of the art being non-weeb.

In the midst of our conversation, Roffles sent me the above picture of Team Pizza to show me what his work looks like in black and white, and he told me to do with the image as I wish. So this is me doing that. Featured up there, of course, are Pizza Margherita, her faithful dog Pepper, and Crazy Annie Shové, all riding comfortably on the Pie in the Sky.

BIG NEWS!

Featured image: “Mahou Shoujo” by zao2

Sorry I’ve been quiet lately, but I’ve got something to say:

My original plan was to publish Jake and the Dynamo in one big load when it’s finished, but I’ve realized that’s stupid, as the thing is going to be more than phonebook-sized by the time it’s finished.

So I’m going to break it up into a series. The first nineteen chapters cover one week of fifth grade and also cover the first round of monster fights. If you’re following the story, you’ve probably detected that it’s switching gears, and that it’s getting ready to crank up for a second round of monster fights and more inter-sororal magical squabbling.

Volume one of the series will cover that first arc. I’m just beginning to get the ball rolling for what will eventually be the publication, but I think I can say the published version will be revised and professionally edited, and will also contain bonus content. Stay tuned.