My Nemesis, Progress!

A bit of a note, I am still swamped at work though that should be clearing up at the beginning of August or thereabouts. Lots of nonsense going on right now, but I am well versed in Alice's time in Wonderland and through the Looking Glass so nonsense is right up my alley. (Do not judge that I live up an alley. We all fall on hard times sometime in our lives.)

Because I've been so busy, I've been writing down post titles of stuff I want to post but will have to get to later. You can imagine that this is as successful as writing down a book title and remembering the idea later. To that end, my post on adverbs last week had one major omission, the original point of the post! "Just the Adverbs" was a specific title I chose because the word just can be used as an adjective or as an adverb. And when used as an adverb, it really weakens your sentence. That is one of those adverbs where King and I agree. I almost always take it out when I see it. Unfortunately, I see it a lot in my own writing. In first draft, it seems to connote a triviality or an understanding of totality that in second draft review appears more as broken rhythm and indecisive imagery. If you're not using just as an adjective, chop it out. Your sentence will read much stronger for it.

Speaking of weaker, that brings us today's topic. It may be my folksy Midwestern upbringing or it may be some subconscious attempt to be less direct (something I'm told I need to be). For whatever reason, I tend to use progressive verbs WAY more often than is necessary.

I hope you can help me with this = I am hoping you can help me with this.

All. The. Time. If I were Superman, progressive verbs would be my green kryptonite (I was going to make a red kryptonite joke here, but reading through the Wikipedia entry for kryptonite just reminds me how much I dislike Superman and his entire canon).

A rhythm that I use to the point that one of my beta readers pointed it out to me is an independent clause comma progressive verb. He typed on the keyboard, thinking of all the times he wrote similar sentences.

Oh me and the ING are good friends. Too good, maybe. Me and ING need some space apart. Set it free and if it comes back, and all that. Maybe? Yes? No? I love you, ING! Don't go!

And with that, I go back to work. See you guys soon. For real this time. ;)

(How's your summer going? Did you hear that Nate Wilson had a son? They let him reproduce. The wonders of modern science. Wish him and the Professor well.)

A Little Binger to Brighten Up Your Day

I never truly appreciated Jim Davis' genius until I read Garfield Minus Garfield where another (much smarter) artist removed Garfield from his own comic and revealed Jon Arbuckle to be the wholly psychotic person that he is.

Following in that line, some other genius has taken classic Peanuts frames and replaced the text with actual Tweets.

The end product will make you laugh so hard, you will pee yourself.


My friend Luke introduced me to Penny Arcade many years ago and it didn't click. I didn't have an X-Box and my Playstation 1 was gathering dust. I didn't get any of their jokes.

But one day in 2005 we're hanging out in his room and his screensaver is a composite of his favorite PA strips (at that time) and they were funny as hell! We went through the whole thing twice and laughed every time. So I started reading the strip regularly and have continued to do so for six years now. And of course, now I have an X-Box 360 that does not gather dust (thanks to Bioware and Valve) and I get more (but not all) of the jokes.

To continue the trend, I didn't key in on Penny Arcade TV right away. I figured it would be lame self-promotion. It turned out to be awesome self-promotion! Self-promotion has a bad stigma to it, but really this is how you want to promote your product. It's an exploration of character and voice and craft. It's funny and endearing and at the end you really wish you worked there too.

The Invisibles

I stayed up late last night, so I think I've mentioned a little of this before but I will start from the beginning so I can organize these ideas for later reference.

Up the street from where I lived, there was a small utility company office. This is strange in that AmerenUE has a monopoly and it wasn't an Ameren office. It took me years to hear the name and I never did confirm it was what it said it was. It did not have a sign or anything. All it had was a sculpture on its front lawn. A concrete lightning bolt.

It took me a few years before I even noticed it was there. I don't know how many times I had driven up Watson to Hampton and on up to the interstate. It was one of my three main routes around the city. So I was astonished when one day I was walking rather than driving and there was a lightning bolt on someone's lawn.

It reminded me of the kind of lightning bolt you'd see on a comics superhero, a yellow bolt in a black circle or something. And I thought to myself, how interesting would it be if that was a headquarters for a super group and they put a sign right out front because it was a place of business but no one questioned it. We just move on past without thinking about it.

Now I'm in New England. I work on the west side of downtown just before Back Bay in Boston (sw corner of Boston Common). If you walk toward Back Bay, the pike and Tremont move at an angle askew to the normal urban grid, which causes one street to seem more like an alley because it doesn't really go anywhere. It just has a triangular building that reminds me of a rundown, brick version of the Flatiron building. This building has a defunct Italian joint, a Mexican restaurant, and a biomedical supply company (or so they claim!). The doors to the biomedical side of the building are all wooden with black iron bands. They have gargoyle head, iron-ring handles with a stone gargoyle over the door. If Doctor Strange was ever to have a headquarters, this would be the place!

AND THEN! I find out in Boston's North End, there is Henchman Street. I swear to god, that's a real street. Henchman Street!

This only stokes the fire of my imagination of a whole hero/villain panoply hidden in plain sight. I've been wanting to do this for awhile (since the lightning bolt) but I keep writing Hellboy. I need something fresh. I think this will work better as a graphic novel. The visuals of seeing these places out in the open will communicate better.

I thought of a title this morning, "The Invisibles," which unfortunately is the title of a comic that Vertigo ran from 1994 to 2000 (even though the stories are nothing alike). Granted, titles can be reused, but that's not always a classy way to go. And since I don't even have a story yet, it's nothing I need to sweat.

It'll be fun if I ever get to do it, though.