Art and Update

Featured image: “Those Mahou Shoujo Messiahs” by Ruri-dere.

To let you know what’s up, chapter 26 of Jake and the Dynamo is (finally) off to my writer’s group, so it will appear on the blog in the near future.

I’m writing a novelette tonight, and then in the near future I need to finalize the extra extra story that’s going in Down and Out in Fifth Grade, the first fully illustrated Jake and the Dynamo novel. The editor I wanted has agreed to take me on, and she can get to it in mid-June. So that gives me enough time to get the extra material put together and get things squared away with Roffles Lowell, the illustrator, as well as get the ball rolling on the cover art.

In other news, I’ve got a lot of schoolwork coming up as we’re rapidly approaching the end of the term. And I have a new job.

So things are moving, if more slowly and haphazardly than I’d like. But it’s coming together.

I hope to have a new, fairly extensive review up in time for Easter. There’s a particular magical girl franchise I’ve been meaning to discuss at length, and Easter is the right time to do it. In fact, one of the magical girls in the above image is from the franchise I have in mind. If you can guess which girl it is based on the hint that it’s related to Easter, you can win the grand prize of ONE INTERNET, which I will award immediately.

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.

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.

Art: ‘Princess Tutu’ and the Art of Awesomesauce

Featured image: “Magical Girl Noveau: Princess Tutu Bookmarks” by Vivifx.

Today’s art post features the greatest magical girl of all time, Princess Tutu, an unlikely fusion of “The Ugly Duckling,” Swan Lake, and Revolutionary Girl Utena, with easily the most highbrow soundtrack in anime history. I ship Duck with Mr. Cat.

And yes, I said greatest. Of all time.

Because if it weren’t for Princess Tutu, there would be no guitar ninjas. You can’t argue with that.

Many fans of Her Tutuness consider the AMV for “Hold Me” to be a successful encapsulation of the awesomesauce, even though this song is not actually on the soundtrack:

Art?

Featured image: “Winx Club – Bloom” by Nesallienna.

Ah, Winx Club. Haven’t talked much about that one. Funny story: I decided to try that show out a couple of years back because I knew it had a big fandom, and I knew it was a magical girl show from outside Japan. Here in the States, Nickelodeon has slapped its name on this show, and I didn’t do my research before purchasing half a season of it, so I mistakenly believed I was getting a magical girl series from the same people who gave us stuff like Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer and Avatar: The Last Airbender. In other words, I assumed I was in good hands.

No. It’s actually an Italian cartoon and has the honor of being the first Italian cartoon to get syndicated in the U.S., which is more than I’ve accomplished today. It’s also proven quite popular in a wide array of other countries. I would have watched it in any case, but I wasn’t prepared for just how freaking awful it is. After I finally looked up some information, I was unsurprised to discover that the CIA uses Winx Club in lieu of waterboarding for “enhanced interrogation.”

Okay, I made that up. But still. I had to prop my eyeballs open like that guy in Clockwork Orange just to get myself through thirteen episodes. And it’s gone for seven seasons, totalling 182 episodes the last time someone counted and I paid attention. A hundred or more episodes of something like Sailor Moon or Saint Seiya doesn’t make me swallow, but Winx Club? I think watching the entire run of Winx Club is what they make you do in Purgatory.

It sounds like an okay idea, at least if you’re out to make money off kids: the premise is a cross between Harry PotterTinkerbell, and Sailor Moon. It’s about five teenage bimbos with magical fairy powers who fly with gossamer wings, fight evil witches, wear skanky outfits, go to magic school, zip around on dungeon-punkish spaceships and hovercraft, and have some peculiar obsession with ending words with the letter X. You could certainly do worse for a cartoon concept. The animation isn’t great, but it isn’t awful, and the bad CGI is excessive, but that was a fad at the time (2003) that it started its run. The production values are acceptable.

But, seriously, worst. writing. ever. I think Winx Club has the dubious honor of containing the most awkwardly constructed romantic subplots I’ve ever seen in anything professionally produced. At one point, the narrator announces that a couple of characters’ relationship is deepening and growing closer, and that was the first time I knew those characters even had a relationship at all.

And get this: the first time the heroine (Bloom) arrives from Earth on the magic planet, she immediately comments on how mundane it is. She’s not wrong: it basically looks like downtown in any generic Western city, except where the cars and motorbikes float. That’s a major lost opportunity in the environmental designs, but they actually have the main character point out that it’s boring. Brilliant idea, guys. I hope that’s the English translators getting a dig in and not something that’s really in the original Italian.

Anyway, my schedule is getting slightly less insane, so I intend to get back to regular posting around here. We’ve got more stuff to review and discuss, and of course, we’ve got more Jake and the Dynamo, which doesn’t contain the worst writing ever. I hope.

Jake and the Dynamo Fan Art #3

Featured image: “Jake and Dana” by Roffles Lowell.

I asked Roffles if he’d be willing to draw Jake and Dana together, and he came through. Looks like Jake finally got Dana that juice box he owes her, though from the design on the box, it looks like he didn’t find strawberry milk. That’s probably why she’s pouting. Of course, she’d pout anyway. I like the big brother/little sister vibe he’s captured in this drawing. Three different artists have produced interpretations of the characters now, but I believe this is our first picture of Dana in her non-magical form.

Roffles doesn’t like the way I dress Dana and has told me so, so he went his own route with her clothes. But the joke’s on him: she’d probably be perfectly comfortable in ripped jeans and sneakers.

For the record, Dana’s canonical couture is based on Jake and the Dynamo‘s inspiration. Before I went to bed and had the dream about Jake and Dana that eventually became the serial novel, I was watching the anime adaptation of Shugo Chara, an influential and successful magical girl title from the beginning of this millennium, created by the two-woman manga-ka team Peach-Pit (who are probably best known, at least in the U.S., for Rozen Maiden, which has a substantial internet cult following).

Anyway, the protagonist of Shugo Chara is a fifth-grader whose mode of dress is described in-universe as “Goth-punk.” I attempted to mimic the look, more or less, with Dana’s wardrobe.