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Con season approaches!

Apr. 21st, 2010 | 10:06 am

Technically, con season has already begun – Jim, Omar and Christine were at Emerald City in Seattle last month, representing UDON – but *my* first show is the Calgary Expo in Alberta this weekend, April 24-25th. Calgary is a great show, really well organized with a stellar guest list, so it’s a nice start to the season.

We head in a day early to help with a few pre-con events, and stick around for a few days after to hang out in Banff for some networking events. Which is awesome, but I’m rapidly reaching the point of being pinched on deadlines all around, and I suspect there’s some awkward “working from the hotel room” in my future.

May gets a little wacky, with local Toronto cons to bookend the month: TCAF on May 8-9 and Anime North on May 28-30. UDON doesn’t have a booth at either show, although some of our artists have personal booths, which will need a bit of support. TCAF will actually be busier for me than Anime North, even though it’s a smaller show: I’m friends with the organizer and will be helping with a few events, plus hosting some out-of-town friends. Not to mention that Jim is sandwiching some more travel in between the two shows, which is going to make for a fun juggling act!

Originally published at Charming Monsters. You can comment here or there.

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Building a comic book page

Apr. 7th, 2010 | 09:26 am

Omar Dogan, one of the longest-standing artists at the UDON studio, posted a great walk-through of his process for building a comic book page, from initial rough to inked, colored artwork. As he notes, the initial rough draft has to be approved first, usually by both the writer and the editor, who also give approvals to the inked pages before they go to final colors.

Before Omar even starts his rough sketching, the writer has to pitch a storyline and get it approved (in the case of licensed product, like the Street Fighter comics, the original company who holds copyright may need to approve even at this stage!), then write the script and guide it through another round of approvals and revisions. After Omar’s done his part (18-22 pages per issue!), it goes to a letterer, who adds sound effects and dialogue, a more complicated process than it might initially seem – dialogue needs to flow correctly, so it naturally reads in the order it’s meant to be spoken by the characters, and without distracting from the art. It’s amazing to me how much of the storytelling can be carried by images alone; even without dialogue, you can get a general sense of what’s happening in the page Omar posted.

Omar’s also a bit unusual in that he handles all aspects of art for his pages: pencils, inks and colors. Often an artist will just handle one piece of that puzzle: for instance, Joe Ng’s pencils are usually inked by Crystal and colored by Espen (so the artwork starts in Toronto, heads to Seattle and finishes up in Norway!). Being able to rely on just one artist tends to help with schedule issues – the pencils are unlikely to be late when the same person has to ink and color them – but it does mean mastering a broader range of skills, and it does cut out the opportunity for a good inker or colorist to help tweak the pages so they look their absolute best.

Complicated stuff! And the copy-editing part of my job doesn’t even get started until all this other stuff is done.

Originally published at Charming Monsters. You can comment here or there.

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Jim’s art featured at GameStop!

Mar. 23rd, 2010 | 11:04 am

Okay, so it’s actually Jim’s art plus artwork done by the team he put together, and it’s for two video games he worked on – Legends of Zork and Utopia Kingdoms – but still! GameStop employees across the U.S. and Canada are wearing t-shirts with Jim’s art! So! Excited! If you happen to see such a thing, please snap a photo for us! Also, if anyone knows a GameStop employee and can persuade them to send us one the shirts after the promotion is over, I’d be super-thrilled.

The GameStop promotion starts today and runs until the end of April. The pilot project they ran in the UK got a great response, hopefully the North American promotion will be just as successful. Jim’s got more details on his blog, including links to his online gallery of game art.

Legends of Zork logo

Originally published at Charming Monsters. You can comment here or there.

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Catching up

Mar. 15th, 2010 | 12:15 pm

Apologies for the blog silence. Once we left Middlesborough, the England trip went rather south: an uncomfortable night in York in a too-small room, hotel-hopping in London thanks to messed-up reservations, and an unexpected overnight in Harlaam, the Netherlands, thanks to an airline scheduling error put a sour note on the end of an otherwise fantastic experience, and left both Jim and I scrambling to catch up on both sleep and work for a couple of weeks.

In general news: the UDON con season began this weekend with Emerald City in Seattle, and Jim’s new book Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki #1 hit stores last Wednesday (three weeks ahead of schedule, which was a bit of a jolt!). We’ve been dealing with fall-out from the Great Amazon.com Comics Glitch all week, which merits a separate post to explain. Suffice to say that the Buy Now buttons for UDON books are still not back online, and we’re getting a bit antsy.

I’ve been busting my tail on an as-yet-unannounced project, which is exciting but terrifying all at once. I’m also pushing ahead with my current WIP, a contemporary fantasy YA with the working title WASHED AWAY. No proper logline yet, but it’s about thwarted desire, privilege and voodoo. My writing schedule isn’t quite as strict as it needs to be, but I’m hoping to get back on track and finish this first draft before leaving for Calgary Comic Expo in late April.

In wedding news, we’ve booked a reception hall and are looking at DJs now. I’m hoping to have our DJ, ceremony location, and maaaaybe photographer booked before Calgary Expo, although the later seems unlikely. The late October date seems to be helping with availability on vendors, and the reception hall gave us a break on the guest minimums for being off-season, but it does mean an outdoor ceremony is tricky: the weather could really go either way. I’m pleased that the process has been largely drama-free thus far – although of course, we have yet to really start nailing down the guest list.

Also, I am horribly behind on my personal correspondence. If I owe you an email, mea culpa! I swear I’m working on it!

Originally published at Charming Monsters. You can comment here or there.

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Back from England

Mar. 1st, 2010 | 10:33 pm

Jim and I had a grand time at the Animex Festival in Middlesbrough, England last month: lots of great people, fascinating conversations about the game and animation industries, good meetings with UDON’s UK distributors (who are awesome folks!), and lots of little side adventures to round out the whole experience. Things got a little muddled once we hit London, and we got stuck with an unexpected overnight in Holland on our way back, but those were pretty minor bumps in the grand scheme of things.

Stacy in London

Making friends in London Town!

Things continue at a hectic pace: I’ve taken on a new, as-yet-secret project with UDON that’s eating up loads of time (but is equally challenging and loads of fun), we’re prepping to launch comic con season early this year with Emerald City in Seattle in late March, and I’m plugging away on my current WIP, which I’m expecting to have completed (in early-draft form, of course!) before leaving for the Calgary Con at the end of April. There have been a couple of serious frustrations over the past few months, but I’m trying to stay focused on the road ahead – which is, admittedly, not always the easiest this time of year. Come on spring!

Originally published at Stacy King. You can comment here or there.

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Seriously, You Guys

Feb. 10th, 2010 | 06:49 pm

This is not the greatest powerpoint slide in the world, this is just a photo:

Greatest Powerpoint Slide In the World

(click for larger) If you can’t make it out (because it is a terrible sidelong shot, after all), this slide features a unicorn, a dragon and a 50’s-style car, all with red “no” circles through them. This was from Scott Campbell’s absolutely epic presentation on developing the visual style for BRUTAL LEGEND, the closing talk for Animex Game and a presentation so mind-blowing that the attending students (and industry pros) are still giddy about it. You guys, seriously: he made a student *cry* from happiness.

I am having such a blast at this show. Everyone is fantastic, and I’m learning tons about all kinds of crazy stuff: game design, visual development, public speaking, international relations between Sweden and Norway, Northern England train schedules, berry-flavoured beers, all kinds of mad, wonderful things. And there’s still two days to go!

Originally published at Charming Monsters. You can comment here or there.

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Feb. 9th, 2010 | 09:26 am

Currently in Northern England at Animex, adjusting to the time zones and the prevalence of pints at every social outing. I lost my favorite umbrella at Amsterdam airport (almost inevitable, considering how little sleep I’d gotten on the plane) and apparently did not pack nearly enough sequined mini-skirts to fit in with the local pub scene. The festival’s going well so far: Jim’s talk yesterday went over gangbusters with the students and I got a sneak peek at the concept art process for ALICE 2, the sequel to American McGee’s Alice game, which looks amazing if utterly stomach-churning. Everyone’s been really lovely, which makes up for the fact that there’s precious little to do in Middlesbrough itself, aside from the aforementioned pubs.

Tomorrow I face a bit of a dilemma: it’s workshop day for the students, so I’d planned a solo outing to Whitby so I can visit the Abbey, revel in a bit of Bram Stoker/Dracula history, and maybe trek across the Moors for a bit. But Ed Hook’s invited me to sit in on his workshop session, Acting for Animators, which seems like a pretty amazing opportunity. What to do, what to do….

My fellow Potter fans should appreciate the following photo, snapped on Sunday afternoon in nearby Durham:

Standing in the Hogwarts hallways

Hogwarts! Or rather, the courtyard hallways at Durham Cathedral which were used as part of Hogwarts in several of the Harry Potter films. I was rather excited, especially when a group of students showed up in graduation caps and long black cloaks. No pictures of that, as taking photos of other people’s kids seems awkward, no matter how cool said kids look.

I’m such a nerd.

Originally published at Charming Monsters. You can comment here or there.

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New Toronto bookstore

Feb. 4th, 2010 | 09:19 am

Torontoist has the scoop on a new bookstore opening in the College/Spadina area of Toronto in March 2010: Of Swallows, Their Deeds, & the Winter Below. Even better, it’s being structured as a collaborative project, providing the store with additional revenue by sharing space with other literary efforts in need of short-term digs or long-term corner nooks from which to operate. Their first tenant is the Toronto New School of Writing, which sounds like a fascinating project unto itself (given my recent mood, their course on The Joy (and Ethics) of Not Writing might be worth signing up for…).

On an vaguely related (well, Canadian lit scene related) note, Quill & Quire reports that Lynn Henry has been named publishing director for Doubleday Canada. Henry is currently the publisher for House of Anansi Press. I’ve really been enjoying Anansi’s output under her guidance, and it’ll be interesting to see what direction she takes in her new role.

Originally published at Charming Monsters. You can comment here or there.

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Spiral Stairs

Feb. 3rd, 2010 | 09:04 am

I love me some spiral staircases (they’ve been a long-standing obsession) and this international collection at WebUrbanist is pretty much a well-heeled tourist guide to the finest (and oddest) ones around the globe.

spiral staircase

[via Inspire me now]

Originally published at Charming Monsters. You can comment here or there.

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Book piracy: two perspectives

Jan. 26th, 2010 | 08:35 pm

The Millions interviews a book pirate:

Perhaps if readers were more confident that the majority of the money went to the author, people would feel more guilty about depriving the author of payment. I think most of the filesharing community feels that the record industry is a vestigal organ that will slowly fall off and die – I don’t know to what extent that feeling would extend to publishing houses since they are to some extent a different animal. In the end, I think that regular people will never feel very guilty “stealing” from a faceless corporation, or to a lesser extent, a multi-millionaire like King.

While Laurie Halse Anderson has a few simple words from a writer’s point of view: Book Pirates Suck:

I can hear a few voices in the back of the room shouting, “But I can’t afford books! And it’s the publishers that get all the money anyway. Why do you care if I steal your book on the internet? Don’t you want me to read it?”

Dude. I know where you can read all the books you want – for free. It’s called “a library.” Check it out. Free books! Amazing!

Obviously, as someone who works for a small press (and gets updates when the torrents on our books are refreshed, thanks Google Alerts!), and who aspires to someday make a living off my writing, I tend to side with Andersen on this one. At the same time, I’m unsure that either guilt trips or legal threats are much use in deterring the problem.

This gets around to my basic theory that selfishness is the core of human psychology, but that’s a rant for another day.

Originally published at Charming Monsters. You can comment here or there.

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