A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Thursday, December 26, 2002


Just a quick note to tell you that "Confessions" will be returning in the new year. I am taking some time off, so nothing really to update. I hope to actually make some additions to the site, and will likely be posting my top music picks of the year at Oni by the end of next week.

Regardless, have a good entrance into '03. Knock back one for Joe Strummer while you're at it.

Current Soundtrack: the thump of bass coming through the wall...

Saturday, December 21, 2002


Done. I flew like the wind and got it all finished. Tired now and ready to eat, chill, etc. But done.

Current Soundtrack: N.O.R.E., "Nothin'"

Friday, December 20, 2002


Ms. Dynamite, A Little Deeper begins the work night; we’ve already transitioned into Robbie Williams, Escapology, but our first couple of listens when this arrived yesterday didn’t really knock my socks off, so it might get vetoed. Particularly since I learned the other night that I require some peppy pop music if I really want to crank on Rayearth. I started with the second disc from the recent anniversary edition of Ziggy Stardust and followed with something else that escapes my memory right now, but it wasn’t working. So I kicked into Britney Spears’ classic second album, Oops!…I Did It Again and it really got me moving. I only needed the 3-track Alicia Keys single for “How Come You Don’t Call Me?” to wrap it up—finishing volume 5. It felt like a longer haul than it should have, and I’m only 31 pages into volume 6. I want it done by Christmas.


I got asked to pitch a story to a big comic book. I don’t want to say which one, because I don’t think I should, but I am really having a hard time figuring out what to do. I like to pitch stuff that plays to my strengths, so folks like you can pick it up and enjoy it and also because I don’t want to squander the opportunity by stepping too far outside what I am good at and screwing it up. I doubt I’d make a good mainstream comics writer, essentially. Judd Winick tells me it’s easier than I think to get used to it, and I can see where writing something like Green Lantern how you could get into a groove. I remember arguing with someone on some message board about that specific topic, and I theorized that writing superhero comic book plots was no great feat. Plots are pretty standard, so as long as you have the ability to write some characters, you can easily make a good comic. As I said, it was just a matter of figuring out who your hero is fighting with that month, no big deal, and then spend your time focusing on the people in the periphery. Boy, that didn’t go over big.

I already tossed the editor one idea that I thought was pretty cool, but it's been done apparently. Bugger. My goal is to maybe find an idea that can sort of backdoor in this other proposal I have sitting on the same editor’s desk. I currently have four proposals in limbo with two different editors at two different companies, and I am actually approaching a year of waiting on a couple of them. So, again, it’s a matter of trying to make the opportunity work to the best advantage for me. If it works at all.

Also, with all this talk of Martin Scorsese, I caught the earliest screening possible of Gangs of New York today, and I was totally enthralled by it. Marty totally makes me want to make a movie, and I have an itch to dust off the screenplay idea I have listed on my site--This is the Way the World Ends. That way I can have the soul-crushing experience of watching my love butchered. It’s funny, in fact, because when Joe Nozemack saw it in my projects list, he said, “Great title.” I replied, “Too bad that will likely be the first thing any studio will make me change.” I mean, I can hear the conversation: “No one wants to see a movie about the end of the world. It’s depressing.” “You don’t understand. Yeah, the world ends, but it’s an uplifting, romantic action story.”

It’s hard, because the experience of writing Cut My Hair was completely devoid of interference. Granted, some of you would say you can tell and that’s why the book has faults, but good or bad, that was how I needed to do it. And now I am spoiled. I need an editor like myself who isn’t afraid to let the creator run wild. And that’s not going to happen on movies or mainstream comics. In fact, it’s weird that I consider work-for-hire comics with other people’s characters at all. It used to be I couldn’t fathom doing that kind of work. In my younger, idealistic days, I had no idea why a writer like Greg Rucka, with four novels under his belt, would want to waste his time writing Batman. It’s not a mystery anymore. In Greg’s case, he loves the stuff, so he does it for the joy of writing—no shame there. In other cases, I can also see a practicality for taking such an assignment. I mean, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote shitty articles for shitty magazines, and even doctored screenplays. Bills, bills, bills. Plus, you gotta pay your dues somewhere.

And with the manga, Kelly Sue DeConnick and I have talked about one good reason for doing it--which I think I've mentioned before. She’s just started her first book, and she sees it the same way I do. It allows you to flex certain muscles you might not flex otherwise.


I took a quick shower to get the blood pumping. The coffee wasn’t kicking in, and frankly my digestive system couldn’t take another cup. Sometimes hot water can work where caffeine fails. Elvis Costello’s All this Useless Beauty has been on rotation in the bathroom stereo all week. Getting four double-disc albums at one time makes for a meaty Costello experience, giving a lot to feast on without tiring of the meal.

Post-Robbie, we moved into some choice cuts from Moulin Rouge. Bowie and Massive Attack still slay me with their “Nature Boy,” which in its own way is one of the saddest songs ever written, while also being strangely creepy (sort of like Sinead O’Connor doing Elton John’s “Sacrifice” – they give me the same mood, and interestingly, I discovered both songs through their use with visuals. Sinead’s “Sacrifice” was used in a very odd play I once saw, and a version of “Nature Boy” was sung by, of all people, Vanity on, of all things, the Friday the 13th TV show the first time I heard it). Then I transitioned into an experiment.

I have moved the laptop into the living room to work in front of the TV. I confessed last week of my obsession with Inside The Actor’s Studio, and tonight is back-to-back episodes: Tom Hanks (which I’ve seen) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (which I haven’t). I know Bendis writes while watching movies. (Yes, I am dropping names everywhere tonight.) I’m not sure if I could do that, but this is simply talking and can work like music itself.

I can’t actually take Rayearth off campus to Starbucks or anything, because I make a real mess. I get a copy of the book and tear off each page as I work on it, and I end up with a pile of pages around me at the end. I suppose it could earn me a reputation as a local crazy if I sat in the coffee shop typing and throwing paper all over the floor.

Anyway, the experiment went about half well. During the episode I had seen, it went fine. During the episode I hadn’t seen, I was too distracted watching. I ended on page 126.

And we should all applaud Tom Hanks for saying the profession other than his own that he would most like do would be a cartoonist.

Current Soundtrack: Law & Order: Criminal Intent


Tuesday, December 17, 2002

My third CLAMP title for 2003 is now about 95% official. Duklyon: CLAMP School Defenders.

Current Soundtrack: Manic Street Preachers, Forever Delayed

Monday, December 16, 2002


Now it can be revealed, another of my Tokyopop assignments has become official: Miyuki-Chan In Wonderland. Another complete departure—a one-shot graphic novel that is humorous and dare I say a little dirty. I got the script today. Waiting for the untranslated copy of it and the first volume of Clamp School Detectives to arrive in the mail so I can check them out. And this is just the beginning. I think I am going to have two other titles next year—one non-CLAMP that will appeal to fans of Cut My Hair or Blue Monday.

I'm on page 111 of Rayearth vol. 5. 114 to go. *sigh*

Current Soundtrack: Aaliyah, I Care 4 U, Ms. Jade, Girl Interrupted


Sunday, December 15, 2002


Watching Martin Scorsese on Inside the Actors Studio, I couldn’t help but just be struck by his fire and passion. He’s one of those creators that when he talks about his art, he gets you excited to create, reinvigorates your own artistic passions. (In comics, conversations with Mike Allred, Paul Pope, and Steve Rude have elicited similar effects.) The man also seems both pleased and baffled by his own work. There was a humility to his acceptance of the praise, and often a curious wonder when asked about specific elements of his movies. Like if he was asked about why he chose to do a specific shot, his eyes would take on that look that said, “Hmmm, good question,” and that he was extremely curious about the answer himself.

I love listening to him talk about movies. I wish he were on every DVD. I wish someone would put him in an intellectual boxing ring with Peter Bogdanovich so that Scorsese could pummel him into crumbs. Bogdanovich is a minor talent with a massive ego, and his supposed historian work ends up being about how his tastes and connections reflect on him; Scorsese is a major talent, and while he personalizes his histories of film, he does so by telling you how the movies effected him, as well as their meaning in the overall gestalt. If you haven’t seen A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, you need to seek it out. It could be the most important DVD you’ll end up owning. (And here’s hoping they’ll eventually release his follow-up on Italian cinema, and that he’ll do more in the series.)


I’m back on Rayearth. Volume 5 has a ton of new characters that got introduced briefly in Volume 4, and each pause makes it more difficult to start back up, because I have to dig through the books to figure out who is who again. The most frustrating? The twins Tarta and Tatra. I have to remember that Tarta has the top knot, Tatra’s hair is flowing, and that a simple case of one finger moving faster than the other could easily switch the two.

I’m not too thrilled about my Rayearth deadlines being moved forward, since I have to launch myself immediately into Clamp School Detectives in January. There is a universe at work in the CLAMP books, and it looks like I am going to be working on a lot of the interconnected ones, the ones that take place in the same world as Angelic Layer. In fact, apparently a Layer tournament takes place in one of the future issues of Chobits, which I think my editor, Jake Forbes, is actually rewriting. Part of me almost feels precious enough about the characters that if it’s Misaki doing the battling, I’d almost like to write her dialogue. But I guess if he throws in an “Eeks!” I’d be happy with that. (Of course, James Lucas Jones stole “Eeks!” for use in a recent letters column…plagiarist thief! He doesn’t think I am watching, but I am!)

But, anyway, all my deadlines have been moved up, and I have to have everything done by the end of the month, as opposed to January 20. In fact, the first Clamp School Detectives is due even earlier than that. I’m going to be busy.


Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt has given me a lot to think about in regards to the portrayal of relationships and the dissolution of the same in The Everlasting. In particular, watching the two characters tear each other apart at the center of the film, and the subtle and gradual blending of truth and lie as love is destroyed. It’s a fascinating picture, paralleling this very personal breakdown with the tensions inherent in moviemaking, as the money people and the creative people clash over what should be put on the screen. (Tying in with Scorsese, he apparently had a hand in Contempt’s original U.S. release, and also spoke on Inside the Actors Studio about how the current process of “development” in the creation of a movie is destroying the form.) I highly recommended the new Criterion DVD edition. I have yet to dig into the second disc of extras, but I can’t wait. They look meaty.

Current Soundtrack: Elvis Costello reissues on Rhino--Brutal Youth (both discs), All This Useless Beauty (disc 2)


Monday, December 09, 2002


My head feels like it’s been expanded—or more accurately, the contents of my head have been expanded while my skull maintains its size. Not a good feeling to have when under deadline. As suspected, I didn’t get to work on Angelic Layer’s final chapter this weekend, and so tonight have to get the remaining seventy pages out of the way. Shouldn’t be a problem if I can maintain the pace I began on Friday night.

So, I am at Starbucks yet again, though I was denied the regular size tables and hardback chair by the length of my power chord. There was a table I suppose I could have asked a woman to trade with me, but judging by her rude reaction to me just excusing myself to pull the chord by her, I don’t think she’d be too friendly about moving her little pink highlighter just now. Beyond that, the table that would have been just got snagged.

Chai latte for my throat. Depeche Mode Ultra for my ears.

I don’t know how I feel about this mad dash for the final book. I suppose it won’t be too bad. There is so much fighting in this last chapter, it’s not exactly poetry. I usually give myself a night’s sleep before reading over the script and making changes, which I suppose I can do tonight, if the body demands. But I prefer to go to sleep knowing that when my editor arrives in the morning, the script will be waiting for him. I feel that’s the real on-time—though technically even I give my freelancers to the close of the business day. Technically.

Plus, I need to take my own lesson and know my worries are not justified. I always tell the people I work with, when they are concerned their own work has taken a dip or that time constraints may have rushed them—you are always going to be operating at a certain level. Once you are a professional and have become fairly confident in your own working ability, you will have achieved a level of talent that you will always maintain, no matter what. You will never sink below that, and that is pretty damn good. You’ll always give folks their money’s worth.


Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, Miss E…So Addictive; random Dandy Warhols MP3s.


The initial writing went smoothly, thankfully…so this might not keep me up as late as I thought. The book ended up having a pretty fun ending, so I am glad. There were a lot of plot threads that began in book 1 and ran all the way through, and it was good to see that they paid off. So many comics seem to fumble in the finale. Angelic Layer doesn’t.

Current Soundtrack: Sugababes, “Round Round” CD single


Friday, December 06, 2002


I am under the gun with Angelic Layer volume 5. It’s due Tuesday. I am on page 20, and there are about 175. Tonight is probably the last night I will have the opportunity to work on it this weekend, as Oni is having a little bit of a fifth anniversary celebration and some folks are coming in from out of town. I’m going to be forced to be social. Worse comes to worst, we pull an all-nighter on Monday night. I haven’t done it in a while, but can easily pull it off. Could even be fun.

The problem has been trying to write in the evenings right after work. It’s hard to get revved up. It’s taken me about three hours to get started tonight, and it pretty much took me leaving the house again, free of distractions. Between Oni work coming in over e-mail, TV and DVDs, and just laying on the floor and wishing death on everyone who has annoyed me and tired me out—shit just doesn’t get done.

So I’m armed with a ginger bread latte and TLC’s 3D. T-Boz has always been my favorite.

I also listened to The Trash Can Sinatras, Cake and Supergrass, Life on Other Planets and “Grace” b-sides.

My night’s biggest frustration—beyond waiting for a good chair to open up (my back and neck are killing me from trying to work in an easy chair)—is the translator of AL doesn’t list the speaker’s name before their dialogue. This makes it a pain in the ass to sometimes decipher who is who (all the players Misaki has beaten seem to keep hanging around) or know who new characters are. I have to hunt through dialogue for clues. It’s not like the translator on Wish, who makes it pure heaven. No detail goes unnoticed. Bless.


Man, this totally creepy guy has come in and he’s sitting in an easy chair across from me. Every time I look up, he’s looking back at me, and he’s got this real odd look on his face. I can’t be sure, but it does seem like he’s watching me. I’m on page 86 after a couple of hours, and the place closes in like twenty-five minutes. I want to hit page 100, but if this guy keeps it up, I dunno…this town is full of freaks.

(Okay, good, he’s leaving. I dunno, though. That dude’s vibe is way off.)


My latest theory is that if you are going to leave a band and go solo, your name has to be recognizable on its own. If not, then you’re too big for your britches and you need to sit back down and put your ego in check. Like this Chad Kroeger son of a bitch. His crappy band gets one hit, and he’s doing all this solo stuff—but they have to call him Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger. He ain’t ready to go out on his own. (Plus, I hate his songs. And I don’t hate a lot of music—not truly hate. This shit I hate.) Same thing with Art Alexakis. He tried to go solo and pussed out. Because he knew it. He tried to play some solo shows, and they had to call him Everclear’s Art Alexakis. At least he had the good sense to realize he was nothing, and went back to the only thing he could cling to.

I hate his music, too.

Stupid people say hate is a strong word. I say it isn’t strong enough.

Plus, Chad Kroeger and that creepy guy that was giving me looks a remarkably similar in appearance.


Got to page 103, with the help of The Style Council. Modernism: A New Decade.

Current soundtrack: KGON, classic rock radio


Wednesday, December 04, 2002


I am starting on Angelic Layer volume 5 today, the last in the series. I had been working on Magic Knight Rayearth volume 5 up until this, but it turns out some of my deadlines had gotten mixed around and so I have to switch gears and finish up AL superfast. I am curious to see how it turns out, though, so it should be fun.

Tokyopop has actually announced a bunch of new CLAMP titles for next year, which is pretty exciting, since I hope to be involved with at least a couple of them. I am enjoying the exprerience, and since, as a studio, they never tackle the same genre twice, I am getting a good workout.

Brian Bendis showed me the first issue of Powers I worked on as a freelance editor last night. It's #26 and should be out soon. It's not perfect. The letters column in particular is a bit of a bear, and I have to laugh at not catching my own typo in the one line I wrote in it...and it ironically is about trying to stop future mistakes. It's a good welcome to the book, really, when you think about it, but his fans are going to give me no end of shit for that.

Current Soundtrack: Gallon Drunk, Bear Me Away (An anthology of rare recordings 1992-2002); Paul Weller, "Leafy Mysteries" CD1


Sunday, December 01, 2002


Sunday morning and I had to vacate the premises. Coming to you
live from Starbucks (to be uploaded from an earlier broadcast). The cat gave me
a look when I left. About as wide-eyed as she could get. I had already spent a
good portion of yesterday at the movies and then wandering around Portland, and
this look seemed to say, "Really? You're going to take away this
much of my weekend." I guess it's good to be wanted.

Time is the enemy. Three days already off work and not a word
typed (though, I should get a pass for Thanksgiving). It's easy to fill the days
with other things, and let stuff slip away. I thought about writing, at
least. I actually theorized that my abilities are centered in my eyes. Beyond
the values of seeing--seeing people, seeing books, seeing what my fingers
say--there seems to be an actual connection between my brainspace and my eyes.
Like if my eyes are heavy, dark, tired--if I have that feeling like I've been
swimming--I can't do it. I can't sit down and go. I need to remember to take
advantage of clarity of vision. Just like last week when Glengarry GlenRoss
taught me that a well-chosen movie can knock me out of a funk and get my energy
going. It's got to be the right movie, though. No matter how good, say, a Wong
Kar-Wai flick is going to be, its pacing isn't going to lift me the way
something with a faster rhythm and more punchy dialogue will.

I've been digging a lot of Elvis Costello lately. Got a hook-up with like four of the recent Rhino double-disc packages--all albums I didn't get in the Ryko series or from the Warner Bros. period, and I've been digging into them. Each comes with an extensive booklet with notes about the record from Elvis--and not just stuff like, "Oh, we recorded in this studio on this many tracks and built it around this riff." It's more about what was really going on in a more general sense, the climate of the times. And honest feelings about how the finished product. I wish I had ripped it all to MP3, but I'm not sure how I'd fit it on my player. It's pretty full, and I always have to dump something to put a new album on. Today the Chemical Brothers got moved to the dustbin so The Roots could fabulously move in.

Look at the above. It's Time advancing on my front line. A
slice of gingerbread is already gone, and I only just opened Word. I have plenty
of Eggnog Latte left, though. (Joke from the few minutes of the recent Muppets
Christmas show that I could stand to watch (shut it! it's not the same!): I like
my women like I like my coffee--a latte!" (Say it out loud if you don't get

Expect to hear from me again, after the obligatory music list.
It's 11:06 a.m.

Today's musical choices: The Roots, Phrenology; Elastica "Love Like Ours (Volume version)" & "Unheard
Music" (w/Steve Malkmus); Elvis Costello, "What Do I Do Now?" (a
Sleeper cover, with the great line, "can we try again, no one told me it
was raining
"); Gene, "You;" Shed Seven, Going for Gold;
Suede, A New Morning.

The Everlasting is today's point of order. 

I actually began today by inserting a scene ahead of
the one I had previously worked on. I wanted more between Lance and Ashley.
There is a whole delicate balance here of writing enough for each relationship
so that you can understand why each person is in it, and give a good sense of
the union before tearing it apart. I've got to give enough to make it work, but not so
much that it's boring. I am finding Ashley the hardest, perhaps because she's
the least colorful. Mandy is next, and she's going to be easy. The ones who are
nuts tend to take care of themselves.

This scene is one I pretty much pulled out of my ass.
It's just a conversation and it may be too long and have to go altogether or be
cut done, but it's a good exercise. You take two characters and you just make them talk.
If you have an opening, you can just run with it. If you can't, then maybe you
don't know these characters as well as you think you know them...you know?

It was completely packed in the Starbucks today. Perhaps it's
the end of a long weekend, perhaps it's the weather change. It's dark today, a
lot of clouds. It was cold out and when I came inside, my glasses fogged up.
Maybe people are hiding here. The great thing is, with the headphones, I can't
even hear the hint of a peep from them. And while usually music influences what
I write, today was strangely opposite. I had some lines about clouds, letting
the sky inspire me, and then similarly themed lines showed up in the Gene song.

Current Soundtrack: Elvis Costello, Spike

Note: On this and the last entry, I used Front Page to try to make formatting easier, but it's just fucking it up. I will go back to my old method next time.