Month: January 2012

Ring Tones and Novel Writing

With CLOCKWORK GENIE already on virtual stands and book shelves, and REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST about to join it in the next few weeks, it’s time to start working on another novel.

The next novel, which I am planning to do a pseudo-NANOWRIMO through the month of February, will be a Young Adult fantasy which I’ve had sitting on the shelf for several years and have decided now was the time to dust it off and make it ring.

Speaking of making the story ring, can someone explain to me the use and necessity of ring tones?

In my story a cellular phone plays an important roll (does anyone call them cell phones anymore, or are they all smart phones.)I’ve been thinking about what ring tones my lead teenager would program into her phone. The more I thought about it, I began to wonder what would be the point.

Why do people have ring tones? Why purchase a song to play when someone calls?

I have had a cell phone (three or four) over the last 15 years, and have always set them to silent or vibrate. Never saw a purpose to have the ringer on.

You want to know when someone is calling you, that’s for certain, but how many of us like to hear when other peoples phones start ringing.

If we’re fast enough, we usually can answer the phone just before the third ring, so why do people want to extend those rings by turning them into songs?

Have you ever noticed that when someone has a musical ring tone, the longer it plays the harder they have in shutting it off and it usually becomes a real embarrassment?

While in the movie theater there is always that slide that comes up repeatedly to remind you to turn off the your phones, or worse that audio clip where every sound in the theater is amplified with every possible phone or noise that could be made.

Recently the Muppets did a very nice version of this before their movie.

Why is this even something we have to think about any more? People’s phones ringing loudly and long, in the theatre, middle of church, a business meeting, or dinner.

Yes, some can hear the buzzer of my phone. Usually when it vibrates through the table or desk. But it’s usually low enough it doesn’t bother anyone. But I do turn it off in the theater.

The other day I was watching a rerun episode of THE MENTALIST, and there was major mistake with the use of a cell phone. The lead of the show has just broken into someone’s home. Only a few feet inside the house, his phone rings. His phone rings. This was not done for comic effect. You’d think that if you were going to break into a house and not want anyone to know you were there, you’d turn the phone off or have it on vibrate. The Folly Department can just as easily drop in a Buzzing sound as it does a ring tone. Other than receiving important information about the B Plot, the use of the phone in the house had no purpose. A woman nearly catches our lead in the house, but not because of the ring tone.

So my question is a serious one, and is research for my novel. How many people actually have audible ring tones? How many have simple ringers, and how many have longer songs?

I’m probably going to ask my teenage niece about this. She is a Young Adult after all.

My next question to her will probably be: Do you actually use your phone, or is it mostly used for texting and facebook? I don’t want to write cliché teenagers in my story, but the phones have become an integral part of their lives.

I may have been rambling here, but in doing so I find that this is all very important to my novel. Not only are cell phones important to the story, but also so is being annoyed by the ring tones.

This has been great talking, thank you for all the help. I appreciate – RING RING – Excuse me, gotta go answer that.

(Oh, like you didn’t see that joke coming from the start of this blog.)

Kevin Paul Shaw Broden
Four Names of Professional Creativity.

Brushing with Celebrity on the Floor

The other night as I watched the Golden Globes with all those celebrities passing across the television screen, whether they were winners or just happy to be nominated or just plain seat fillers, I was reminded of something that happened this past summer.

Each year I attend the San Diego Comic Con International, and when there is somewhere around 120,000 people packing into the halls its hard to remember a face in that crowd, but a face did come back to me all these many months later.

I headed upstairs to attend a panel, though no longer remember what it was, and the line of people waiting to get in was already wrapped down the hallway and around two corners by the time I joined in at the back.

There were three guys just ahead of me, two were standing and a third was sitting on the floor (I know how he felt, read my blog on how much my feet hurt at the con). When I joined them they were in a discussion of DC Comic’s New52. At that point in time we only had a vague idea of what was coming, each expressing their own opinions and how to do it better (fans you gotta love us).

Anyway, as the conversation lulled and changed, I eventually had an opportunity to talk about FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY. If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that FGHOG is the webcomic, which I illustrate and co-write with Shannon Muir. Click the link to the right to check it out; we’re currently celebrating our 10th Anniversary.

I was carrying with me business cards, some for myself, and some to promote the comic. They are small and can easily slip into your pocket (which you’ll discover cleaning out your luggage when you get home, or turned into a mashed ball of wet paper when you pull it out of the washer), but they seem to work. What really worked for me was that I included a QR Code box on the reverse side of the card. (QR Code, you know, those strange little boxes filled with even smaller white and black boxes). People could use their ‘smart phones’ to scan the code and pull up our webcomic. If nothing else, it was a conversation starter.

While standing in line, it hadn’t started to move yet; I gave a card to each of the three guys I had been talking with. After explaining about the code on the back, the one sitting on the floor pulled out his phone and scanned the card and checked out a few pages of the webcomic.

I got a polite “Cool,” from him.

One problem I have at conventions is that name tags hanging from their lanyards and always turn backwards so I never can see a person’s name. Not very helpful.

All I knew was the color of the nametag told me he was professional like myself. So just as the line began to move I asked him what he does? Figuring he’d be an artist or something.

He looked at me and simply answered: “I’m an actor.”

The line moved on and I didn’t get a chance to ask anything further. I had this feeling from his expression that I should have known who he was, but was also glad that I didn’t know.

So, here I am, months later and watching the Golden Globes when it hits me.

I am more then ninety percent certain that the man who had been sitting on the floor, who took my business card, and looked at my webcomic, was the actor Seth Rogen.

Could be wrong of course, watching him now on the stage, and thinking back to the convention, he could have easily disappeared in to a crowd of geeks and nerds, and someone like me would never have been the wiser.

All the same I have to have a little thrill from this…

Seth Rogen thought FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY was “cool.”

Influences to Glory – Writers and Artists

Earlier today I was in the midst of a Twitter conversation that brought up our earliest comic book influences.

Every artist, and writer, has their influences. Not all of us will agree as to who the greatest or the worst, the most dynamic, narrative, or the worst is. But we all know who influences us.

For me, it goes nearly to the very beginning of reading comics. I had already read through a digest reprint of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #100 (written by Len Wein, another important influence to me), which introduced me to the world of the DC Universe that wasn’t the SUPER FRIENDS of Saturday Morning Cartoons.

Here was not only the Justice League of America, but also another team that called themselves the Justice Society of America. As a little kid, all I knew was that these were alternate takes on what I thought were well-established characters.

Over the next few months I would beginning to pick up other comic books. One comic was THE NEW TEEN TITANS by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. The second was an issue of ALL STAR SQUADRON written by Roy Thomas and among many artists was Jerry Ordway.

These two books would truly build my view of the DC Universe. The Teen Titans very ‘science fiction’ based modern stories with highly detailed artwork, while All Star Squadron showed heroes in the midst of World War II and had heroes with magic based powers.

For a while I believe that Earth 1 took place in the modern day, and Earth 2 in the 1940s, so that even when they did a cross over story they were coming from two different points in time.  I soon learned that wasn’t true.

Anyway, back to my influences.

For writing, I couldn’t have picked any better writers to follow than Marv Wolfman and Roy Thomas. Yes, I’ll hear people mention who they believe are better with more complexity to their writing, but for me these two men were the foundational influence to me that everything grew from.

Where Wolfman knew who to emotionally grab me in one story and then tell great actions sequences in the next, Thomas knew how to handle dozens of characters sometimes at once.  Thomas also knows everything about what I was learning to call the ‘Golden Age’ of comics, and spent time in every issue telling something about it all.

Because of Roy Thomas and the All-Star Squadron, I quickly became infatuated by Golden Age, and I saw out reprint books of the original stories (there was no way I could afford the originals, but I found the stories I wanted).

As with most young comic readers I soon began to create my own characters. But I didn’t want to create them in my modern world. I didn’t fit in a New York that I saw through George Perez’s detailed art. I created my characters influenced by Jerry Ordway that I felt had a more ‘realistic’ style. His faces were and are great.

(Imagine my thrill later when Ordway was hired to ink Perez’s work on CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTH. The two were so perfect together.)

(SIDE NOTE: I would also discover in the back issue bings the John Byrne issues of FANTASIC FOUR, and I bought as many as I could afford over several years of collecting. The greats of these were those where Byrne’s art was inked over by Jerry Ordway.)

So I’m creating my own characters, refining them, turning them into something more than just sketches on a page. I gave them names, and origins, not just the basic how they got power origins, but why and who the characters are with out powers.)

I was looking towards Roy Thomas and his interpretation of the Golden Age, that I began to emulate.

Three characters that I developed the furthest were The Torchlight, Speedstar, and a heroine I called FLYING GLORY.

I have written stories about all these characters, and as you all know, I took FLYING GLORY the furthest.

I’ve told the story already as how publishers were interested in a FLYING GLORY comic, one really liked the story that I told, but eventually it became clear that I couldn’t sells a Golden Age story when I was pitching it.

So with the help of Shannon Muir I updated the Flying Glory character, made her the granddaughter of the original and gave her a group of friends that supported her. THE HOUNDS OF GLORY.

Our webcomic FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY, currently celebrating its 10th Anniversary of being online. Everything that I put into a script I owe to Marv Wolfman and Roy Thomas, and each panel of my art is so greatly influenced by Jerry Orway and George Perez (though I’ll never be able to draw hi details and crowd scenes).

Thank you Mr. Ordway, Mr. Perez, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Wolfman for you have made me the comic book professional that I am today.

Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

Four Names of Professional Creativity

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