Monday, December 31, 2007
See you next year :-)
Friday, December 28, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Did you know that the paperclip that we commonly use today wasn't mass marketed until 1891? These are just several of the fascinating little details I'm learning as I'm putting together the next batch of scripts.
Anyway, I hope all of you have a fantastic winter holiday, Christmas, New Years, and the like!
All the best to you and yours,
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Telling a story in the Zuda format really requires a lot of planning.
Often editors will tell creators 'less is more' and 'comics are a visual medium' ... and as a writer it is essential that you keep the story moving, give the artist something interesting to draw, and use every scene to advance the plot, reveal character, or establish mood. Plus, you need to give the reader an incentive to 'turn the page' with every screen.
That's a lot of stuff to keep in mind going forward, isn't it?
(Especially, if you are like me and like to give your characters a lot of room to talk.)
I do believe that Zuda requires a certain degree of brevity. I think it requires you to go in, get your point across as awesomely as you can, and leave the readers wanting more.
When I wrote the initial prologue for HIGH MOON, I wanted to establish a threat and dramatic need from the start. On Page Two, I toss out some theories. By Page Five, I provide a little bit of fan service, because you can’t have a werewolf western and not have a werewolf. And, by Page Eight I take those theories and expectations I built and toss them out the window.
You don’t have to do it the same way I did. I’m going for a ‘slow burn’ the kind you’d find in older westerns. I’m trying to develop the kind of tension that slowly builds until it explodes in one form or another.
To accomplish this, I’ve structured each of my screens according to the Three Act format. Every crisis in the story builds upon another crisis, every page builds on the previous page, and contributes to the bigger picture. It requires a lot more economy of space and a whole lot more forethought.
Anyway, all of this is to say that the uber-plot for HIGH MOON has been written. The script for Pages 9-12 has been delivered to Steve. And, Pages 13-24 are being scripted now.
Friday, December 14, 2007
I get the the following question often enough that I thought I'd provide an answer:
When Will There Be More HIGH MOON?????
The truth is, we are working that out now.
Again you can imagine, there's a lot of paperwork involved - and with the holidays around the corner, that doesn't help. Once the paperwork is all squared away and I know for 100% certain our exact schedule, you guys will hear about it first.
Going forward, the High Moon team will be releasing a scene (3-5 pages) at a time (and maybe even more!), rather than simply a page a week.
So, when you do see HIGH MOON again, you will be seeing a whole lot more of it!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
After I got the art from Steve, I would start doing lettering placements. I go through a lot of Post It Notes during this process. When it came to doing to 'prologue' for HIGH MOON, I printed out Steve art, cut up a bunch of Post It notes, placed them on the page ... wrote the scripty bits over top, scanned the art at 72 dpi B&W, and e-mailed it to out letterer.
This is where our letterer Scott O. Brown really stood out. Scott's experience in publishing, writing, editing, and lettering really helped transform my Post It Note Placements into something exceptional.
There are some of the things that Mac, the central character in HIGH MOON, wears. Each element of clothing serves a practical purpose - and relates to a greater sense of visual history for Mac.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Here's something to start off your weekend right, an exclusive podcast interview with me on
"It Came Out On Wednesday," presented by comiXology!
I may have dropped a few hints!
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
I bet you guys thought we forgot about you - well - that's not true at all!
While Steve, Scott and I spend the next couple of weeks putting together the next installment of HIGH MOON, I thought I'd take a moment to show off one of the style sheets that Steve developed for Mac:
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Voting ends tomorrow November 30th at 11:59:59 pm.
If you enjoy the strip, and would like to see it continue, please vote for it. And please feel free to comment and let us know what you think!
Thank you all for your support!
Monday, November 26, 2007
The character of MacGregor was the real meat of it for me. David and I spent hours on the phone fleshing out a back story for him just so that I could outfit him. I wanted him to have a long storied history which would be evident by his clothes and accoutrements. He's got Voodoo gris-gris, an inverted sheriff's star(pentagram), rosaries, werewolf on chains around his neck, he has a rosary wrapped around his gun, he's wearing his clan tartan around his neck as a kerchief/scarf. He even has werewolf and smaller (vampire?) teeth as a decoration on his hat. These little things develop a reality about the character and it took a long time to develop. On Mac's face, I wanted you to read age, loss, sadness, and threat. I didn't spend quite as much on the other characters; they are much younger and live in a brighter happier world than Mac.
To learn more about Mac and the rest of the cast, be sure to vote, rate, share, and favorite HIGH MOON - available now only at ZUDA!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Alas, my scanner is still not working quite right, so instead, I thought I'd post the first draft of the first page of script from HIGH MOON. The hyperlinks are reference points I included for Steve, who added his own unique twist. This is not the final script, but should shed some light on how Steve and I put the scene together.
ESTABLISHING SHOT / MEDIUM SHOT / NIGHT TIME – The full moon’s light is fully visible in the night sky. It is as bright as the sun, with a bluish tinge. There are a few wispy clouds, but not many stars. It is here that we get a small glimpse of Blest, Texas and the house of the Hunter family, theirs is the nicest house in the town.
Margaret 1 [off screen]: Dear Lord …
Transition shot as we see that same light reflecting in the window of MARGARET HUNTER’S bedroom. Margaret, age six, has blond hair and blue eyes, and is the daughter of the town’s founder, GABRIEL HUNTER. (Think Dakota Fanning meets a Campbell’s Soup Kid) She is at the foot of her bed, in a full-length nightgown praying quietly to herself. Her bedroom door is slightly ajar letting some light pass through. That and the moonlight are light sources in an otherwise dimly lit room. On her bed, we see a little doll. (circa 1890s)
Margaret 1: Please protect Mommy.
Mommy 1 [off screen]: I don’t care about your damn town …
Mommy 2: [off screen]: Or the damn silver mine!
Focus on the shouting that’s coming from the door, as Margaret continues to pray … the door moves slightly …
Margaret 1: Please save Daddy
Daddy 1 [off screen]: I built THIS town! I can HANDLE The Sullivan Gang!
Margaret continues to pray …the door moves slightly …
Margaret 1: And … please …
Margaret 2: God Bless Texas?
The door closes. We see a shadowy form, a human-like silhouette, cast against the door.
Margaret 1: Amen.
This panel is completely black. The white, lowercase text will fill up the page. The text will be strung together to indicate something wicked.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
You may have noticed that we put the Rankings live last night. Again, this show the Current Rank. You can continue to vote (or change your vote) right on up until the end of the Competition - November 30th.
Looks like High Moon is in the lead right now, so congratulations to Dave, Steve and Scott - but remember, it's not over yet! We're still about two weeks away from closing the polls and so far only 50% of the users have cast their ballot! That means half of you guys have yet to make up your mind. If you haven't voted (or if you know of someone who hasn't voted) then nows the time!From The High Moon Team:
Thanks to all of your great support, we are in the lead, but there are 15 days left - so anything can happen. If you'd like to see HIGH MOON continue ...
Register at Zuda.Com and be sure to:
- Share with your friends
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
Thank you all for your questions and e-mails. And now, let's get this party started.
What kind of update schedule can we expect to see with HIGH MOON?
Steve and I discussed this briefly a few weeks ago. Ideally, I'd like it to be a scene (3 to 5 screens) once a week - but obviously that is something we'd have to talk about with Zuda / DC editorial. So, I guess we'll see how that evolves if we win.
I think that HM is probably the most developed IP on the Zuda site at the moment. What made you decide to go the Zuda route instead of the typical print publication?
Thank you. Answering you questions honestly? Working with editor Kwanza Johnson was the reason I chose Zuda.
We know that werewolves are part of the story. Can we expect to see other "traditional" supernatural creatures show up (vampires, mummies)?
Well, I've already written a vampire story for another company, and I don't really like to repeat myself - so take from that what you will. And, whatever future threats you may see will be far from traditional.
There was a fair amount of ho-hah about the Zuda contracts and such before you were announced to be working on High Moon. I'd be interested/curious to hear about your thoughts on the legal issues generally, and maybe some of the concerns you were looking out for.
Steve and I were told what DC/Zuda was looking for before the contracts were even in existence. Look at it this way, I don't go to the critics homes and tell them who they should or shouldn't work for and it's not like people are getting up in arms when Hot Writer A signs an exclusive contract with Marvel, so I really don't understand all of the vitriol. We know what we are getting in to.
DC isn't looking to mess webcomics up for everyone else - they are looking to do something different - and I think that's pretty damn cool. If you want to work for Zuda, you are entering a partnership with DC, using the resources of Time Warner, so DC should certainly get a cut of that. If you are interested in working for Zuda, get a lawyer - and just read over your contracts carefully.
Do you see Macgregor someday becoming an iconic crime fighter somewhere along the lines of Jonah Hex or Wolverine?
There would be nothing cooler than that. Great stories happen because of great characters - and we feel that Mac, once his story really gets going, is going to be one hell of a character. Hex and Wolverine have stood the test of time, but I think Mac certainly has the depth and personality to evolve into something iconic.
About HIGH MOON, how many installments will there be?
If we will, there will be 52 more screens ... and after that, we'll see.
Will HIGH MOON go to print?
That is an option, if we do well enough. I would love for it to see print.
What inspires you?
Tom Waits, Old Time Radio shows, Leonard Cohen, Coffee, and Deadlines
Do you have any writing habits (write daily, listen to certain music, etc.)?
I write every day. Typically, I'll have background noise to fill the silence. Usually, whatever music I listen to directly pertains to what I'd writing. I also try to ensure that all of my essential task for the day are sorted and dealt with before I sit at my desk. I also take copious notes and usually give myself enough room to draw out and break down my scenes with pen and paper. I also like to work four hours on and four hours off, till the first draft is finished. It helps me stay fresh.
In my best James Lipton voice: What turns you on? What turns you off? What is your favorite swear word?
Intelligence. Ignorance. Damn.
Thank for for the e-mails and posts.
You still have time to submit questions, so if there is anything releated to HIGH MOON or Zuda you'd like answered, feel free to post your questions below, and I'll answer them this evening!
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Kicking ass, Gallaher! First competitor to pass 10,000 views! Hats off.
Hats off to all of readers and voters for making it possible.
If you'd like to see HIGH MOON continue, please feel free to vote, favorite, rate, and share the strip with your friends!
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
While a large number of comics seem caught up in the current one-note meme of “what if it had zombies/vikings/pirates/ninjas/mouseketeers”, High Moon has a more serious tone to it, creating the sense just from the first eight pages that the creators have a deeper sense of what horror can be beyond graphic imagery or whatever the latest cool cliche to toss in is. In the best horror it’s not the monsters you have to watch out for, it’s the people, and High moon already feels like it understands that.
So go read and vote already, yeah?
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
From now until Friday, I'll be taking questions in this post about anything related to HIGH MOON, westerns, inspirations, or what have you. Friday night, I'll post the answers to you queries - and maybe even drop a couple of hints or two.
So, there you go - comments are open!
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Okay guys, you've seen the ten competitors and you've read their comics. The competition is officially on! I'd like to point out some of the finer points of how we're collectively evaluating these comics.It's On! | Zuda Comics
First off, there is the vote. You'll see the big VOTE button right on the Competition Page and on the Comic Information drop-down on the Comic Page itself. This is your number one decision making tool. Vote for the comic you want to see become an ongoing series.
Next up is the RATING. You'll find this just below the vote, in the Comic Information section of the Comic Page. This is a more subtle tool that lets you rate each comic on a scale from one through five stars. While you can only Vote for one comic at a time, you can Rate them all. This will be a crucial tool in close races where more nuance is needed in order to accurately express your opinions. Incidentally, the Rating tool will also come in handy for letting us know how you feel the ongoing series (like BAYOU) are going.
We've also got FAVORITES. It's in the same Comic Information panel, near the bottom. Some people have confused this with voting so let me clarify. You can Favorite any comic you want, any time. It will then show up on your Profile Page. It's a simple way for you to navigate to the comics you like (yeah...I mean, once we have more than 12 on site) and for letting other people know you're tastes. Especially if you're active in COMMENTING.
COMMENTS, of course, can be found directly beneath the comics themselves. A quick sidebar about Comments: the newest is at the top, closest to the comic. I know this is a bit backwards but we're trying something out here - bear with us. The thinking is that we want the most recent comments up top, near the comic itself. That way the comic and the comments are updated near each other so that users need to do as little scrolling up and down the page as possible. Let's see how that works and feel free to give us FEEDBACK on it.
Jumping around that Comic Information section you'll see that we're tracking the VIEWS as well. We figure some people just like to read without any greater level of participation. That's ok by us and as far as the competition goes, having a widely read comic is a great indicator of success. It's worth noting that this is one of the criteria that does not require registration. This is an indicator of how many times the comic was read by anyone, registered or not.
Finally, in that same Comic Information section you'll see the SEND TO A FRIEND link. Comics have a long history of being passed on from friend to friend, grass roots style. There was no way to know how many issues actually we're passed from friend to friend, other than to know that it happened. Here we're hoping to be able to give the comics credit for inspiring that kind of interest.
So, what I'm saying here is that everything counts. The Vote is obviously the main indicator, but we're looking at the rest of this information as well.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Blest, Texas is located in Menard County, about 250 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. Its sudden growth and expansion was a direct result of the legend of the San Saba Silver Mine, which is along a small rocky offshoot of Edwards Plateau, near the San Saba River. With roughly 200 residents during the 1890’s, the town is located within 15 miles of recently closed Fort McKavett. The drought has forced many of the area ranches to close. The town itself is composed of a mixture of Americans, Irish, Mexicans, Germans, English and Wendish, with Americans comprising a 50% majority. The town has a heavy Wendish/Sorbian flavor to it. A few ‘buffalo soldiers,’ members of the 9th and 10th United States Calvary also make their home here.
Anyway, if you enjoyed HIGH MOON, here are three other werewolf stories for your edification:
In the first panel, you'll see we were going to have a signpost that read 'HIGH MOON' - that sign was going to list all our creator credits. When we found out that we didn't have to have a title page, Steve went to work and created the beautiful layout you currently see online.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
An ancestor of Scottish Outlaw, Robert ‘RobRoy’ Macgregor, our protagonist is a stubborn and grumbly retired bounty hunter. Underneath the rough exterior, is a cultured, well-educated, literate man.
Clad completely in black, with his six-gun strapped low on his thigh, he rides of in search of people that need protecting. He considers himself the shepherd of the flock of townspeople. The wound to his left arm remains unhealed and he keeps it wrapped. He stands about 6’2”. His eyes are deep green, his hair is a reddish brown. He’s got a medium build.
As with many, many other things in the original pitch, quite a bit of this changed - for instance - Mac, as you'll read in HIGH MOON, is not a bounty hunter, but rather a former Pinkerton.
Still, I always loved the bit about 'RobRoy.'
"The art is breathtaking. If there's any justice in the universe, this has to win."
Be sure to check out Molly extraordinary Victorian murder mystery, BACKSTAGE, available only on ACT-I-VATE!
But, that doesn't mean that there haven't been challenges.
The biggest challenge is working for ZUDA is developing a story that gives the reader an incentive to read further through the story.
In writing your standard full-sized, regular ol' comic, the trick you learn is that every right-handed page should give the reader an incentive to read further. With only eight screens (which is 4 full sized regular comic pages) to tell your story, how do you establish the setting, advance the plot, and reveal character - while still creating something awesome?
The answer, of course, is that EVERY screen needs to give the reader an incentive to move forward through the story. Every panel had to have something to keep the story moving.
When I wrote the very first draft of HIGH MOON years ago, the opening was very different that the opening you'll read on the site. For starters, I had a whole bunch of narrative text that didn't work - becuase comics are a visual medium, I had to show, not tell my readers what the story was all about.
When I submitted this project to Zuda, I radically retooled the opening, so that everything - every scene, every character, every prop served a purpose. In order to make an effective introduction (and not cheat the you later on) - every element, every prop, nearly every essential character had to be introduced and serve a purpose - whether it was a 43-starred American flag to indicate that we were in the year 1890, or the casual mention of this or that, or even the introduction of the threat - it all had to be there. The dialogue, which originally was a little more free flowing, was clipped - to convey the relevant information, while still revealing little tics and behaviors of the characters. I studied the cadance of gunslingers from old time radio programs - and adpated the dialogue so that it all served a purpose. You'll see some transition dialogue, some off-screen/leading dialogue, and some funny little quips were put into to do exactly what I had to do - keep YOU interested.
What you will discover in reading HIGH MOON is how Steve and I tried to make everything exciting, dramatic, and kind of dark. We tried to make every page something that really stood apart.
Think of the prologue you'll read online as the "tease" before the opening credits of your favorite television show. HIGH MOON must stand on the strength of that tease.
If we've lost your trust and your attention - then as storytellers, we haven't done our jobs.
And if we have kept your attention, hopefully, you'll see a whole lot more of HIGH MOON in the future.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
In the Halloween (the Moon edition), Mel Jean Brook wrote the following awesomeness about HIGH MOON:
Every once in a while, you come across a concept that is so freaking cool, that you bang your head and wonder why you didn’t think of it.
Today, Steve and I got some treats from two fantastic webcomics:
Girls With Slingshots
In His Likeness
Go check them out!
A little today, I'll be posting some fantastic sketches, some links, and maybe a treat or two.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
When you are writing a standard comic, every right-handed page is supposed to give the read incentive to turn the page. With Zuda, literally every screen has to give the readers an incentive to click further. As a writer you have to adapt your strip to the new reading rhythm of the format. I have 8 screens, or literally, 4 full-sized comic pages to get my readers' attention. How many comics can you name off hand that get a reader's attention, reveal essential plot and character information, and are enjoyable by page 4? It doesn't happen often in the era of decompressed storytelling.
The fine folks at Need Coffee, wrote up a nice little piece about HIGH MOON.
From their article:
Prof. David Gallaher and Steve Ellis OBE are co-conspirators on a new webcomic that's blasting off shortly on the Zuda Comics website.... All you need to know is that it's a western involving six-shooters and werewolves. It's called High Moon. And really, what else do you need to know?
They also mention this important element:
Ah, there is one thing: apparently this project is like Webcomic Thunderdome. Eight pages enter, one comic leaves. If you want to see more of High Moon you have to go to the site and vote for it.
HIGH MOON debuts today - only on ZUDA.COM!
Monday, October 29, 2007
In his LiveJournal, artist Steve Ellis talks a little bit about the art process behind HIGH MOON:
The artwork I did for HIGH MOON is gritty and dark and takes heavy influence from crazy western films like Jodorosky's El Topo, Django, as well as High Plains Drifter and Unforgiven. We've added the whole horror angle which fits seamlessly with the Western feel...
I'm very proud of it. I did the penciling, inking, and coloring. Much of the art was done directly on computer but has a textured dark threatening feel which works with the storyline.
Steve also mentions one of the best parts:
It's ... a supernatural western/horror, involving six guns and werewolves....it starts out as a mystery and I think it will be a blast when we reveal the final twist.
And we get name dropped here:
Love and the first batch of 10 contestants are a mix of known and unknown writers and artists in the comics world, covering a range of genres from David Gallaher and Steve Ellis' Western ''High Moon,'' to J. Longo's slice-of-life satire, ''This American Strife,'' to superheroes in Matthew Humphreys' ''Battlefield Babysitter.''
And just below, you can see a teeny, tiny little screen shot of HIGH MOON:
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I like the western heroes’ sense of fair play, their oath to act as a shepherd to their community, and their sense of justice. Macgregor shares many of the traits of a typical western hero. But, as High Moon develops beyond its prologue, there are a few elements that set him apart.Park Cooper and Barb Lien Cooper: The Park & Barb Show
Blogged with Flock
At this point, based purely on the extremely limited material I've seen so far and my reasoning above, I think Alpha Monkey, The Dead Seas and High Moon have the best chances out of the gate.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Best Premise: High Moon – Although the title was a little much, I could see this easily being a cool series.
And, Aaron hasn't even seen the art yet.
This is the first of many character worksheets I developed for the central protagonist of High Moon, Macgregor.
Most of these details changed dramatically as the story, plot, and setting began to develop - but it was important to me that I start with the central character and build the story around him and his motivations first.
We need to care about the character before we care about his conflicts.
This worksheet, as loose as it is, was the first step.
Above, is another reason why I wrote HIGH MOON, but didn't decide to draw it.
What you are looking at here is the second sketch from my first High Moon notebook way back from 2004. I've cut out things that while not currently plot points, at one time, were initial ideas.
A few things stayed, most of them changed.
I developed High Moon back in 2004. The main character, Macgregor, was loosely inspired by the lawmen of such old-time radio serials as Gun Smoke and Have Gun, Will Travel. Above is one of the first sketches I did of the Macgregor, in the back of my noteboook, with a series of ballpoint pens.
You can all see how much the look and feel has evolved since then.