Thursday, July 29, 2010

Comic Con 2010: Goalsetting

Friday morning, I went to Douglas Neff's panel called Creative Kickstart: Goal Setting for Creative types. It was essentially a motivational panel with points on how to focus on getting things done in the creative arts, though variations of the same principles could be applied to pretty much any endeavor.

Doug's email is doug(at) What's kinda weird is that seems to redirect to some bizarro google file-sharing page. So I dunno. At any rate, I think the points and the worksheet he handed out were pretty helpful. I won't reiterate all the points, as I don't want to plagiarize the dude, and I don't know how much is available for folks online, but there was one specific point that was the most helpful for me:

Know your Nemesis - The idea s that, your nemesis is that which fights you, and keeps you from working or pursuing your goals. Be it watching TV, or playing games, or collecting toys (All of these are mine, BTW) by knowing it and naming it, this undefeatable "nemesis" can be controlled, and used to work to your benefit. He equated it to the idea that idea that "The darker the villian, the brighter the hero shines". So, there is a benefit to having a nemesis, but only where it doesn't cause you to compromise yourself.

So, how does this apply in light of my Christian views? Pretty well. If i were to address my nemesis, it would be anything good that I abuse, or put above God. For instance, certainly food is good, and In-n-Out is good food. But if I had three Double-Doubles for lunch, it would do me no good, and in fact, harm. The same with playing a game or reading a comic or collecting a toy...when it becomes a hindrance to my character or what needs to be done, it becomes a bane instead of a boon.

Doug also handed out worksheets to help focus an idea or project into a manageable goal. It was a little hard to fill out at apprehension stems from a fear that once the idea is put to paper, it becomes real and then possibly shown to be implausible or impractical..or worse, just a bad idea. Actually, that is a real concern, but recognizing that in an idea helps to refine it to something plausible, practical and in fact a good idea.

I recommend anyone interested in the points mentioned in the panel email Doug at the address above. He encourages contact, and I'm sure would be willing to share his ideas with anyone who asked. At least, I hope so.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Comic Con 2010 - Breaking in to Comics Panel

On Friday, I attended my first "Breaking in to Comics" panel, moderated by Andy Schmidt, with friends and colleagues of his including Mike Costa, co-writer of GI Joe:Cobra, one of my current favorite comics.

The panel was informative and encouraging. Andy runs, a site dedicated to teaching prospective talent the tools for starting a career in comics and staying in, which were the main points of the panel.

There are three things every potential comics-industry pro need to have, according to Schmidt: Talent, Professionalism, and Courtesy. (That is, "be a nice guy".) And only having two of these are necessary. So my fear, and this is simply a matter of pride on my part, is that I only have the professionalism and courtesy parts licked. This is where I stumble - I 'm not sure that my talent is up to snuff. I know I can get something in print...Anyone can these days. Just like anyone can make a CD. What I don't know is if anyone will ever want to read it and talk about it with their friends. If all I can do is churn out product for product's sake, what's the point?

That's not to say that I don't think my stories are invalid, or that telling them isn't worthwhile. I just mean, how realistic should I be, or am being?

And yet, this is not something to dwell on, or something to stop me before I begin. As Dougles Neff said at his panel (see the next post), it's best to fail brilliantly than succeed moderately. I'm not sure how much I agree...I'm still working that out.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Turning the Keys

Comic Con 2010 wrapped up today...and again, I find myself marking the occasion like most mark a new year - with resolutions and promises to do things new and different before the next "end" comes to pass.

This blog is a first step, to try and chronicle, specifically, my journey as a writer. I've always known I like stories and story-telling...I've never known how to tell them myself, nor if doing so was viable or worthwhile. I've decided that it is, insofar as God allows it to be done. As the Proverbs say, "A man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." So, I will start to plan now, and follow the direction my steps take.

It is not lost on me that my submission to a higher power could be mistaken for a willingness to fail and chalk it up to divine will. Maybe that is the case. Perhaps my dreams of writing and telling tales in the mediums I love - comics and animation and fantasy/science fiction - will fall flat in the eyes of "the world". I think, finally, I'm alright with that idea; Alright enough to chase the dream until it outruns me, or is taken away.

This weekend, I read the graphic novel Creature Tech by Doug TenNapel, another professed Christian whose interests are remarkably similar to my own. I finished it late last night in the hotel room my wife and I rented for the weekend, looking out over the city of San Diego which I love to visit every summer. I thought to myself, "This work gives me permission to do my own." Then I thought better of saying that to TenNapel, because I didn't want to level too much credit at the author or sound like a raving fanboy.

When I went to talk to TenNapel this morning and thank him for his work, as it had inspired me to do my own with as much integrity as his, he jokingly said, "You've got permission now." And I realized that I did indeed. Not because he said so, but because he confirmed what I already thought I was being told.

So, as many kids who read or saw Spiderman know, with great power comes great responsibility. I feel like I've been given the keys to the family car, and before I really know how to drive. So I intend to learn, and get to driving. It's funny, because I've been asking for the car for years, and now that I've got it, I'm kinda scared to hit the road.

As for the title of this blog: The Gigantic Machine refers to an idea that has been kicking around in my head for a few years now. I've used it's conjunction, GigaMach, as my email address and online handle for years now, all the while keeping a safe distance from the true focus of that name. So, like an archeologist, I intend to discover the Gigantic Machine, and take the necessary steps to reveal it to the world.