Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Now That I've Started Drawing Again, Some Comics-Related Goals

The other night, Spanner main character Shira pretty much forced me to draw her. (She does that to me occasionally.) So I blogged about it and posted the sketch. That, of course, means I'm drawing again. I'm now teaching myself how to draw comics again, and at my Posterous blog, I'm posting a daily report of my progress with at least one complete page of practice sketches. I'm improving one of my drawing skills each day. Of course, this brings up the subject of what I'm actually going to do with my drawing skills. That is, what are my goals for my comics this year?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bad Company: The Elusive Plotlines Finally Come Out

Something happened in the final two weeks before JulNoWriMo. The missing Bad Company plotlines that have evaded me for so long have finally started showing themselves to me. This is a very good sign. It can only mean one thing: I'm finally getting close to finishing a complete first draft!

All my previous BadCo drafts have been incomplete. It's not just that they have huge plot holes. Many entire plotlines and chapters are missing entirely. Some major characters don't even have character arcs yet. Such has been the difficulty I've had in writing it, to the point where I actually burned out twice (in August '08 and this last January).

Then, a few days ago, the character arc of one particular major character, an ambitious young reporter named Amanda, suddenly came to me during one of those half-sleep periods before I wake up during which I tend to get most of my best ideas. Her plotline in a nutshell: she begins as a celebrity gossip reporter on a tabloid TV show, sent by her boss to dig up the dirt on the main characters, sisters Charlie and Desiree, so that their mother, right-wing New Age cult guru Drusilla, can ruin them. She pursues the case only to end up taking the place of investigative reporter Bob, Charlie's fiancé, when she finds out exactly why Dictel Corporation had him murdered. And just in time for Dictel to invade America after the Republican defeat in the 2008 election. Her reporting helps defeat the corporate coup attempt.

I'm writing down these plotlines now, each in a separate Microsoft Word file. I'll do the same with the plotlines I've already written in the story itself as well. My goal is to have them all written and printed by July 1.

This is definitely good news. What's more, I may be able to post chapters before JulNo ends...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cedric and Willa Flip Through "The Overton Window"

NOTE: This is not my review of Glenn Beck's new novel. That will come once I actually get my hands on a copy, and first I need to find one. I've read previews and reviews, though. This scene emerged full-blown in my imagination while I was walking to the store the other day. These two particular characters of mine are even less impressed by Glenn Beck than I am, and I've always though he was more than a little over the edge. And that was before he started getting really paranoid and obsessed with conspiracy theories I myself dropped like a rock after 9/11. And I call myself a libertarian. Anyway, here's my non-review, a preliminary impression in the form of a story...

Update: The official reviews are out. The reviewers are all either laughing or groaning at the ineptitude of Beck and his self-plagiarizing ghostwriter. Sometimes first impressions are not wrong...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Our Cyberpunk World: Financial Theocracy and the Coming Fall of the Corporate Empire

The article: "Is There a Global War Between Financial Theocracy and Democracy?" by Les Leopold, Alternet

Read this entry's linked article, and then you'll better understand my answer to Leopold's question: as a matter of fact, the financial industry is waging a never-ending war against government as such and the people in general. He calls it "financial theocracy"; I call it Corporatism and define it in blunt terms as the synarchy of the banksters. By nuking all the national currencies they can, they're not just trying to bend governments to their will, they're trying to destroy government altogether. It's like in the cyberpunk science fiction canon of 1980-92, in which predatory corporations have entirely replaced government. But the first-generation cyberpunk writers were being either pessimistic or cynical. I consider this hoary cyberpunk convention to be a mistake, and in Spanner I intend to correct it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Spanner: Scientism and the Mechanists

Relatively few people in the US know about Doctor Who (British and American official sites), the most famous British science fiction series and one of the longest running TV shows in history. Me, I've only seen a few episodes in their entirety, and not a single entire serial, and that was years and years ago; more recently, I've caught fragments of episodes from the Tom Baker era. But no one who has seen the series can forget the series' most iconic villains, the Daleks, whose creator Terry Nation, who grew up during World War II and experienced the terror of the London Blitz, envisioned them as "cosmic Nazis". Now take the Dalek out of its salt-shaker shell and implant it into an anime mech. The result is the "Mechanists" of Spanner. The name designates a faction centering on a cult similar to Warhammer 40,000's Adeptus Mechanicus. This faction holds to an interpretation of the "Law of Social Darwinism" different from that of the ruling Corporate aristocracy: where the Corporates believe corporations to be humanity's successors, the Mechanists insist that posthumanity will be entirely mechanical. They strive to create true cybernetic organisms ("cyborgs" for short) that are superior to mere intelligent carbon-based lifeforms in every way. If the Corporates' religion is, of course, Corporatism (a political ideology transformed into a cult), the religion of the Mechanists is Scientism: the cult of science. The ever escalating strife between the Corporates and Mechanists ultimately helps bring the Corporate Empire down.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Spanner: Gods of Light vs. Gods of Power

The world of Spanner has two parallel worlds, known as virtual reality and dream reality, each of them with different laws (or physics) from each other and from physical reality. Anybody can be anything in virtual reality, as is well known. Dream reality is the shared reality one enters in a lucid dream or a shamanic journey; it is the home of the gods and other beings usually considered supernatural. But it is in physical reality where two tribes of gods clash. One tribe seek power over others; they take the form of corporations and are worshipped by the Corporates. The other tribe, alarmed at the danger the gods of power pose to all the realities, seek the enlightenment of others and incarnate as humans. The war between the gods of light and the gods of power parallels the world class war waged by the Corporates against the rest of humanity.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spanner: Corporations On Strike!

In a later scene in Spanner, Major Lt. Commander William Jay Becket, war-hero youngest son of United Corporations chairman Dr. Henry Becket, says, "I'm no economist, but looking at the [unemployment] numbers here, I see no reason why the Cartel wants to undermine its own survival by impoverishing its customer base." Immediately he's mobbed by enraged Corporate leaders screaming that he's a "class traitor" who wants to "sacrifice the best to the worst". Poor Will! He just committed the unforgivable sin of being rational! He won't realize till later that Corporatism is nothing like capitalism, that it's not about profit at all. It's about privilege, and the extremes to which the Corporate aristocracy will go to prevent capitalism, even if it cuts into their profits. The Corporates want power, even at the expense of profit. They're willing to go to extremes, even terrorism (see: Dictel Corporation's invasion of America in Bad Company), to get their way. Their entire ideology is about supremacy, not profit. To bully their way to supremacy and keep themselves in supreme power, the Corporates have gone on permanent strike — against the rest of humanity, the Cartel's intended victims. Every utterance coming out of the Cartel board of directors is an ultimatum. Will should know better; after all, his own father is the chairman!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spanner Cyberpunk Gothic Part 3: Corporatism as a Fanatic Cult

In previous posts in this series, on "blood" and on corporations as gods, I've been developing an insane theology for the primary villains of Spanner, the Corporates. I was idly plotting issue #2 (partly for the JulNoWriMo novelization) when I hit upon a crucial plot point. Why a Corporate Empire in the first place, why are corporations considered literal gods, and why are the Corporates so obsessed with an insane and unprovable "theory" of eugenics? The answer hit me like a bolt of lightning: in Spanner, "Corporatism" is the name of a cult!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Project Notebook Organizing Day

This last weekend was the Memorial Day three-day weekend (March 29-31), so I took the opportunity to do some spring cleaning on the spare bedroom that serves as my computer room and art/music studio. Two bookcases are now full of books that used to be packed in boxes that took up space and got in the way, my art supplies are now in two new storage compartments, and now my drawing table is clear of boxes and ready to use for the first time since I moved across town last April. For the next few days, I asked myself, "Now what can I do to clean up the living room and the master bedroom?" The initial answer for the master bedroom turned out to be: notebooks. Notebooks take up the closet shelves and fill boxes that, yes, take up space and get in the way. My most important notebooks are the 14 binders that contain my Project Notebooks from 1991 to last year (this year once I print up this blog's entries for this year and last year). Since I'd gotten some empty binders at second-hand stores in the last few years, I decided to use them: Project Notebooks 3 through 8, which used to be in separate 1" binders, are now in two 3" binders, and #1 is now in a much better and slightly wider binder of the same color as the original (red); Notebooks 9 through 12, which used to be in cheesy business presentation binders, are now in good white binders that will allow me to give them cover artwork (which I'll have to somehow convert from FreeHand 3 and CorelDRAW 6 formats to the new SVG vector graphics standard).