Monday, May 3, 2010

My Forays Into Podcasting and Web-Comics

In many ways, I have already entered the Internet Age.  I've got a blog, for starters, while my first experience writing for an audience larger than my relatives and my peer group was writing fan-fiction for the television show Prey, which I watched in middle school.

(Debra Messing played the female lead, then when the show failed, went on to star in Will and Grace.  Good for her.)

That, plus the fact that my first two finished novels--at least in terms of word count--were alternate-universe Harry Potter fan-fiction.

However, I'd never listened to a podcast before.  My friend Nick had a podcast entitled "Pizza, Pop Culture, and Prayer" based on a Catholic Sunday school class he taught, but I never got around to listening to it.  And now I've searched iTunes for it and it is no longer there, so I guess I'm SOL.

Friday, my friend Daryl came to visit and when he found I had not listened to his advice and downloaded the podcast "Writing Excuses," he took over my computer-chair and subscribed me himself, which got me an episode dealing with "breaking the fourth wall" (when a character addresses the audience, like in the end of Ferris Bueller's Day Off  or Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves).

That episode was not especially helpful, beyond an interesting tip about idiomatic expressions in certain cultures (the French and Korean equivalents of "speak of the devil and he shall appear" deal with wolves and tigers, respectively, but the sentiment is the same).

However, I took a look at older "Writing Excuses" podcasts and there's a whole lot of interesting stuff there.  I ended up downloading 16 of the older podcasts available on iTunes.  The web-site has ones even older than that, although I don't know if I'll be able to save them to iTunes and put them on my iPod.

I'll probably blog about the most interesting ones over the next few weeks.

I've also put some serious thought into webcomics.  Writing and publishing a book is hard; putting together a film is even more difficult.

However, hosting a web-comic is not all that intensive in terms of cost.  I'd need to buy a domain and hire an artist to put it together, but that wouldn't be all that expensive.

(Well, the domain name at least.  An artist, especially a good one, is going to be pricey.)

Which comic I create, should I seriously decide to create one, will depend on what caliber artist I can find.  Here are the options:

Abdul, Abdul, Abdul-It's a parody of Scooby Dooby Doo where a bunch of college students and a 30-something Arab doctor travel around the country in a van for whatever reason.  Since it's a comedy, I've got to come up with a lot of jokes, and thus far, I've only come up with three.

1. Poking fun at the stereotype of Arabs as terrorists or troublemakers by having Abdullah ("Abdul" is actually a prefix meaning "servant of" and nobody is actually named this--"Abdullah" means "servant of God" and is an actual Arab name) engaging in behavior that seems suspicious, only to be entirely innocuous.  For example, he's seen bundling strangers into the van and it turns out they're impoverished patients on whom he is operating for free.

2. The gang goes to Arizona.  Abdullah is suspected of being an illegal immigrant from Mexico and is nearly deported.  A bit of timely humor with Arizona's illegal-immigration bill, although the fact it's been amended to cut down on potential abuse ruins the humor a bit.

3. A promiscuous character has part of the back of the van curtained off and is constantly, ahem, entertaining guests there.  There is a scene where Abdullah has his prayer-rug spread in the back of the van so that he can pray toward Mecca while they're driving.  The, ahem, entertaining is getting so loud and obnoxious that he interrupts his prayers to swear at them and tell them to be quiet.

To make things even more funny or offensive, I'm imagining Abdullah looking like an older version of Gandhi from Clone High.

The Blasted Lands Cycle-I came up with the idea when I was in high school--I remember doodling a bunch of post-apocalyptic mercenaries in a Hummer facing off against a carnivorous dinosaur when we were watching The Neverending Story in Spanish class (in Spanish with English subtitles, IIRC) toward the end of the school year.

The premise is that there's a nuclear conflict between the US and a more militarized Europe on one side and a resurgent Russia and its anti-American allies in the other.  During the war, the Russians deploy an advanced weapon that they think will create an electromagnetic pulse over the United States.

Instead, it tears open a hole in space-time extending all the way back to the Age of the Dinosaurs.  As if the post-nuclear US doesn't have enough problems, now there are a whole bunch of dinosaurs roaming around.

The story follows a retired military type named Alex Wolf in service to a coalition of cities around the Gulf of Mexico that survived the conflict.  He loses his job as a result of some bureaucratic foolishness and is hired by a Cuban-American businessman to rescue his family from a gang of white supremacists, who have taken over an old prison in western Florida in alliance with a bunch of biker gangs and are holding his family for a ransom he cannot afford to pay.

So Alex, his Singaporean sidekick who was in the US when the war began and can't get home, and a bunch of other mercenary types leave Mobile and head into the Florida Panhandle, where they run into a group of survivors of the US military in the ruins of Pensacola trying to fend off waves of Haitian "boat people" settling the ravaged US (with the aid of a single Russian destroyer, far from home and up to no good) and various back-from-extinction unpleasantries.  And it turns out the white-supremacist warlord type murdered Alex's family some years prior, so there's going to be, in TVTropes terms, an "extreme melee revenge" in the final fight scene.

I went to Destin with my friend Nick and some of his friends from Ohio in the spring of 2006.  Given this was in the general area, I took a lot of notes.

Whether I go with this one depends on what caliber artist I can find.  If the art is cartoony-looking, that's no big deal for a comedy (look at, say, V.G. Cats), but hard to take seriously with a post-apocalyptic military epic.  An artist who can do the type of artwork I'm envisioning would be frightfully expensive to hire and might not be willing to go for a percentage of the money later.

So which one do you think sounds better?

1 comment:

  1. Sadly writers for webcomics are a dime a dozen, but artists... they're blue moons.