Apr 21 2014

Some Thoughts on @AwesomeCon and @InterventionCon

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So AwesomeCon was this past weekend, and it was very cool; pretty much the same experience as the San Diego Comic-Con, except not quite as packed beyond capacity and making you hate life because you couldn’t move for all the people in the way. If I could be sure it would never grow any bigger I’d happily make it a regular thing, but as this was only its second year, I suspect my hopes are going to be dashed in that regard. If I had one real beef about the con, it’s that it could use more SF/fantasy, gaming, and especially more ART, instead of just being an unrelenting drum of “comics, comics, comics.” (A con the size of AwesomeCon really should have a good art show, but it’s only their second year, hopefully that will come with time.) What makes Dragon*Con still worth going to, as horribly huge and unwieldy as it has become, is the broad swath of fandom. Where were the Tim Powerses, Seanan McGuires, and Neil Gaimans?

Seeing the huge response to AwesomeCon, OTOH, just reinforces my opinion that InterventionCon needs to kick it up a notch or it will eventually perish. I realize and fully support that they don’t want to become just another giant dealer hall in a convention center with no personality, and that their intended focus is on creators rather than attendees. I dig that and I’m all for it. But without attendees, really, how are you going to get creators to come? Going to a con requires a significant investment of time and possibly also a significant investment of money– for someone operating on tight margins (as most indie fandom creators are), there has to be a certain amount of confidence you’ll recoup that investment or they’ll just give it a miss. It doesn’t have to be sales, it could be networking or learning new skills or what-have-you, but again, how can you network if nobody is there? (Which could also be handily summarized by asking where are the Tim Powerses, Seanan McGuires, and Neil Gaimans…)

This year, I went to AwesomeCon purely as an attendee– I didn’t even bring business cards– mostly because I am sorta rebuilding my whole operation from scratch and wanted to learn the lay of the land, but also given all the upheaval my life has gone through in the past year I just wasn’t up to doing anything more. But the chances are quite good that I will try to get an artist’s table next year, especially if I can find someone to go in with me (running a table solo is a lonesome and exhausting activity). It would certainly be handy to have a largish local con to go!

-The Gneech

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Jan 30 2014

New Comic Sneak Peek, Page Thirteen

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New Comic Sneak Peek, Page Thirteen by the-gneech on deviantART

I don’t know why I find these progress shots so fascinating, I just do.

-The Gneech

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Dec 29 2013

I Hear His Theme Music, He’s Around Here Somewhere…

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So @EpicBirdbrain on Twitter did this in response to a silly conversation we were having, and I pretty much love everything about it…

DEET-doot-doot, deet-DEET-doot-doot...

Thanks, buddy! :D It’s awesome. And I plan to use it early and often.

-The Gneech

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Dec 14 2013

Princess Spylestia, For No Good Reason

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Princess Spylestia, For No Good Reason by ~the-gneech on deviantART

I have no idea what I’m doing.

-The Gneech

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Dec 11 2013

Ponies vs. Daleks, Season Two: The Cutiemark Crusaders!

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Ponies vs. Daleks Season Two: Cutiemark Crusaders! by ~the-gneech on deviantART

It’s been a while, I know, but we’re back in business as the CMC try to get their timey-wimey cutiemarks! The dalek might actually stand a chance, this time…

…Nah.

-The Gneech

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Dec 04 2013

Is That Mumbo? Or Jumbo?

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Back in 2006, when SJ was coming to a close and I was looking at the whole writing thing, I invested in a copy of Dramatica Pro, a piece of software that hails itself as “the ultimate creative writing partner.” I banged around with it some then, with mixed results… and by “mixed” I mean “not very much in the way of useful.” I did write a lot of stuff– 1200 words detailing the childhood of a character who ended up being cut from the book for instance. Oops. But I didn’t get much actual story from it all, among other things because I kept getting hung up on all the jargon the program was throwing at me.

The software, you see, is based on the “dramatica theory” of storytelling, which is a slippery hodgepodge of narrative structure and pop psychology meant to appeal to the kind of writers who think The Hero of 1,000 Faces is the One True Book of Writing. [1] So to get the most use out of the software, you have to A) understand, and B) buy into the whole dramatica model, which treats characters as “types” and lays out all stories as an interplay of relationships between those types (and gives you the prescribed “right answer” for said relationships). It’s all very abstract, which it would kinda have to be as a unified field theory of plot, and at the same time comes off as a straitjacket. “If your protagonist is a Perceptive type, then the opposing concept is Fate.” That kind of thing.

…Meh.

As far as the actual plotting of the story goes, it seems to mostly be a modified snowflake method, starting with a one-sentence tag line, expanding to a one paragraph synopsis, and so on. However, I never actually got that far using Dramatica Pro because I always got bogged down in the character section, trying to shoehorn one character into the “Impact Character” role, another into the “Guardian” role, etc. Instead of just a relatively simple list of who the characters are and what they’re about, mapping the characters to the various types is supposed to show how they relate to each other later, guiding the story structure and blah blah blaaaahhh forget it.

There is a newer version of Dramatica Pro only for the Macintosh; since my new Mac lappy is my “writing machine,” I downloaded a demo to give a try last night, wondering if it might be more useful, or at least a little less of an uphill climb. Verdict: It’s a little more fun to play with just because it’s not stuck in 1999 in terms of user interface, but all the core problems are still there. Lots of jargon, little in the way of nuts-and-bolts story creation. Being able to give your impact character a clipart character avatar doesn’t make your impact character any less obscure a concept.

So for now at least, I’m sticking with the snowflake method. It worked pretty well for my NaNoWriMo novel, I just need to get better at thinking in terms of more “novel-length” stories.

-The Gneech

[1] For the record, The Hero of 1,000 Faces is a great book and has a lot of useful insight. But it’s a scholarly study of world mythology, you’re not supposed to use it as a paint-by-numbers formula for screenplays, everyone in Hollywood. ¬.¬

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