Friday, 24 February 2012

2000AD is 35: Borag Thungg, Earthlets

Do not be scared, Tharg the Mighty has not used his infinite power to take over my blog.  Today 2000AD is 35 years old and it's time I saluted it's brilliance and role in inserting so much of the awesome that fills my head. When I was young the majority of American comics seemed to be square-jawed heroes with secret identities  who fought their former friends who had become evil after getting splashed with some acid. 2000AD provided a much harsher, thoughtful and interesting universe. So here is a guide to some of my favourite thrill-power.

Firstly, there's Tharg the Mighty( see above) who is the editor. Hyper Geek has a great summary of him.

Judge Dredd
Most people who've heard of 2000AD will associate Judge Dredd with it. Ignore Stallone's mostly terrible film, the comic is much more varied and interesting. I once read Dredd as described a s a two-dimensional one joke character but he's much more than that and the comic is as well. It's less about Dredd and more about Mega-City One, one of the richest Dystopias I've ever found. One that's full of the mad and the prophetic.

Dredd for most of the time is fairly shallow as he shoots and beats his way around the city. But some of the stories reveal much more depth. A Letter to Judge Dredd and America being to favourites that look at the power and weakness of democracy and the fascist police state that the Judge system is. America is particularly good as it doesn't fall into an easy "good vs. evil conflict" but makes both sides flawed.
I am the Law!

My particular favourite Dredd story is The Pit which shows you Dredd as you've never seen him before, behind a desk! Dredd's resentment at being moved from off the streets gives the story a lot more insight into his character.

The ABC Warriors
The ABC Warriors are a team of robots who set about spreading Khaos through the Termight Empire. They're interesting due to the diversity in the group, and the conflicts between them. The hatred of Blackblood for the  leader and warbot Hammerstein and the super-cool sniper Joe Pineapples; the way Mongrol and Mek-Quake fight just for the hell of it; Deadlock's fickleness and how it annoys the rest of them.

Deadlock - probably my favourite
ABC Warrior

What particularly appeals is that for the most part humans the enemy and the Warriors are trying to return the universe to a Khaotic state. The stories are a lot of fun.

What I find interesting is how my favourite warrior shifted over time. It started off as the patriotic and noble Hammerstein, flirted slightly with the coolness of Joe Pineapples and the cruelty of Blackblood before currently settling on Deadlock (though I still have a thing for Blackblood, I'm a baddie at heart).

My favourite story has to be The Black Hole.


Nikolai Dante
Nikolai is a thief and lover in a futuristic world where imperial Russia rules earth and an interstellar empire. Nikolai's life is turned upside down when he discovers he's the bastard son of one of the great families of Russia. But he takes most of it in his stride.

Nikolai Dante is much like
my earlier life
The universe is incredibly imaginative, from the technology, to the society to the aliens. Nikolai is a great character, flawed, loveable and incredibly annoying at the same time. It really is a great read.

Anyway, I could go on but my lunch hour draws to a close.

 I stopped reading 2000AD 10 years ago or so as I couldn't afford you. Maybe it's time to renew my subscription.

Here's to 2000AD, I hope there's another 35 years of thrill-power.

Cheers,

Mark

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Amazing Writing Advice #9: Beginnings

The beginning of your book is the second most important thing when trying to get published. The first thing is obviously having a lovely author photo. Actually, having a profile on Bebo is also really important; Practising your signature for all those signing you'll soon be doing; Having the right author's hat too; Learning as many languages as possible so that you can do your own translations.

So the beginning of your book is the sixth most important thing when trying to publish your book. It's really important to grab your reader straight away. There are a lot of views on how to do this and they are all rubbish. Here's the golden truth the professionals don't want you to know.

You must start your book with a thorough explanation of the world and history of the main character. Before even a slither of dialogue or action plunge them bodily into the world, its history and peoples mannerisms. Do the people of Burkistan all hop on the 8th day of the month? Tell your reader why. Immediately. Maybe even call the book The Hoppers of Burkistan just so they know what's coming.
Me in
one of my author's hats

Character introduction is best done via a family tree, if it's one that needs to be folded in the front of the book or come a separate book, all the better. Then a long description of what they look like while standing still, walking and sleeping. Then you're reader will know exactly what they look like at any moment in the book. You just have to make sure they are always walking, standing or sleeping.

This method guarantees instant agent interest.

The hopping helps too,

Mark


Friday, 10 February 2012

Great Openings

I recently received some feedback about my current work in progress and the main point seemed to be that I should develop my main character's pysical description and relationship with others at the start. Getting a physical description of the main character in has always been something I've struggled with. It seems to be a fine balance so that things get moving but the reader isn't completely lost and also that they make a connection to the main character.

I decided to look at some kid's books in the third person POV I like and see what they do in the opening chapter...

Howl's Moving Castle
Diana Wynne Jones starts Howl's Moving castle with a brief description of the land on Ingary and then moves in on the characters. It's quite strange as it jumps around a lot, setting up the scene and back story. There's a bit of dialogue and not much action. It works but that's probably down to Diana Wynne Jones's mad skillz.

Castle of Shadows
Ellen Renner gets straight into the action. Charlie's caught by the cook stealing food, confronts some servants bad-mouthing her dad and finally is caught by the gardener's boy stealing manure. In the first chapter there's a lot of conflict and the dialogue really helps to establish Charlie's character.

Skulduggery Pleasant
Derek Landy starts with Stephanie at her uncle's funeral. There's an interesting physical description of Skulduggery as he's in disguise so you don't realise he's a skeleton. He works Stephanie's physical description in by having her compare herself to her cousins.

The Demon Collector
Jon Mayhew starts off with a 'pat the dog' moment as Edgy Taylor cradles a boy run over by a carriage. Gives him a couple of conversations to show his character and then gets a physical description in as he stares down at a puddle.

If I ignore Howl's Moving Castle the other three spend more time establishing the character through dialogue and action with maybe a small amount of physical description to help fix the character in the readers mind. The trick is to do it so the reader doesn't feel it like a flying brick.

So anyone got a favourite opening chapter in regards to characterisation?

Cheers,

Mark

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Food for Thought


I knew it was bad once the bacon started to talk. Genetically modified food, it’s important; we can feed the world with it. But what I’ve done? No. Maybe the winged melons and centipede bananas will help reduce the carbon footprint. But bacon that tells you when it’s going off? Its rich voice decaying to a cracked squeak as the days pass. Cheery hellos when I open the fridge and squeals of excitement if my hand goes near it. The strange little song it starts to sing as it sizzles in the pan. I wake up at night hearing that song. I’ve started eating cereal, no milk though; I can’t open the fridge anymore.