Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mission Statement 2015

Originally I had intended to post this, in an earlier form, in the Summer of 2014. A lot of things have changed for me since then: I've moved from Montreal to Toronto, I sent out my first pitch for my comic Gunmetal Frontier and am working on further submissions, I have started selling my prose fiction on Amazon, I have left and started multiple jobs, and I, in general, have been busy working to advance my life and my creative works.

When I first started this blog years ago (it seems so short a time) I was a kid with the dream of participating in theb "Grand Spectacle" of the comic book industry. I had the intention of offering up a unique voice in reviews and commentary when, and I'm being honest, I didn't have anything truly unique to make my voice stand out amongst the throng of the comics blogging community. Now, hoever, I believe I have found my voice.

In the years since I last wrote for this blog a lot has changed in my life. Far more, in fact, than I ever could have thought possible, and I have found myself in possession of a realized passion and ambition: The active pursuit of literary and sequential storytelling and publication as a career. Now, I won't grandstand and act as if i am something which I am not. I have not been published by any established publishing companies, and I am not making a living off of my craft. I am not an expert. However, in the relatively short amount of time in which I have been pursuing this dream of mine with serious vigor, I have hit several landmarks - such as submitting my pitches to publishers, having artists under contract to produce work, selling my prose fiction digitally - and I have begun to understand what it will take for me to be successful and what it is that I am lacking that is holding me back. It is my intention for this blog, this resurrection of The Sagacious \Geek, to serve as a chronicle of the journey I am on in pursuit of my dreams, as well as that journey which every creative person must go through to reach their goals.

I will, of course, be focusing on the comic book industry and prose fiction from the perspective of a prospective career writer, bit I will also be featuring a variety of guests who are pursuing different creative fields such as visual arts, music and comedy. While the fields may differ, the struggles and solutions often cross over; self-doubt, budgeting, understanding and identifying objectives, handling overly harsh criticism, and all their ilk are ubiquitous problems for anyone who wants to venture into a career in what they love as opposed to what will simply make the most money.

So this is my invitation to you: come and participate in this journey, learn along with me, offer any insights you might have and foster discussions that will help us all to become more aware of what we need to know to succeed in the dreams we chase. If this blog manages to help even one person to better achieve their creative ambitions then it can be considered a resounding success.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Desperation and Strangers

Everyone's had that moment where they go up to a complete stranger and ask them a question. It's always at least mildly awkward, for a moment, on someone's part as you approach them, but most often the question is benign. "When's the bus?", "What time is it?" or "Do you have a smoke?". Every now and then, however, one is forced to ask a question that has far more depth to it. How desperate must one be to ask a complete stranger a question about something they most likely have no association with?

Today, while out to see a movie, I asked someone if the seat next to them was free. I felt a bit awkward because she looked like she was saving seats on both sides of her. Well, she wasn't so I sat down and there was some minor chit-chat, and then I sat there comfortably silent and waiting for this special screening of Pulp Fiction to start. Shortly thereafter she turned to me with a distressed look in her eyes and a quiver in her voice as she spoke, obviously feeling very awkward.

"Can I ask for your opinion?" she said, obviously uncomfortable. I faltered for a quick response, feeling awkward myself with the sudden outburst and wondering if I had done something to instigate this outburst or if it were simply an overwhelming need to vocalize an inner torment. She saw my reticence and said "Never Mind", etc.

"No, no. Go ahead." I said, uncertain of where things were going. She communicated to me a story of a man she had met, a man who she had been working out with and had set an appointment to meet for lunch and this very film... except he never showed up and never told her that he wouldn't be, even though he was online mere hours earlier.

"Does this mean he's dumping me?" she asked, rage and hurt quivering in her voice.

My silence said everything to her. I tried to posit the possibility that something happened to him, but what is the probability of him actually getting hit by a car on the way there? Well, statistically high, I've been hit by a car before... but not exactly likely. The film passed in silence between us and I left without saying anything to her, a mildly uncomfortable set of moments.

It made me wonder, how much must something eat at you to cause you to open up so much to someone you've only just met? I've done it before, I know where my limit is before I just need somebody to listen, to validate that I'm not the crazy one in a scenario... but how many people go by feeling tormented inside without ever asking for help? And, would we actually be happier if more people spilled their stories to strangers, or would we grow tired of being constantly burdened with other people's problems?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Travel Log: Shady Business down Vancouver Way

I'm out in Vancouver for my best friend's wedding and there have been many stories and harrowing adventures as of yet, mostly I don't think they're worthy of recounting to you fine folks, I can only drag you down so much before I lift you up and my last entry was a rant and a half, so I don't think regaling you with a tale of exhaustion, confusion and such is appropriate (plus I'm no longer sore about that issue, it's all been good going since then). So now, now I'll tell you a tale that made me laugh, to myself:

Last night, after hanging with my buddy Megan, I headed "home" to my hotel room, on the way home I mostly just zoned out and listened to my music and tuned into my thoughts and personal musings. While walking up Granville street to get to the bus I knew would get me to my hotel, instead of risking getting lost in an unfamiliar city, in my peripheral vision I see a lady flagging me down. Shes in her late 30s to mid-40s, I can't really tell. I take one earbud out of my ear and she asks me if I have change for a Toonie.

Me, I'm an obliging and nice man, so I root around in my wallet while still walking towards my bus and pull out one Loonie and four quarters. I Show her them and she pulls a slick move on me. SHe grabs the quarters and says "Do you have another one of 'these'" and grabs the Loonie. I realized before this happened that it was a possibility and I say "No", basically acknowledging that I had just been swindled for my good nature and just glad it wasnt change for a 5$, when things take an interesting turn...

"So, i can't give you a blowjob out on the street like this, there's too much traffic around and..." she starts. I cut her off saying "It's okay", and wave her away while walking off and thinking "If you're willing to give head for 2$, then I certainly don't want what you have...". I count my 2$ as a payment for me to be left alone and get back to my hotel where I come to a startling and hilarious realization:

I just got propositioned by a 2$ Hooker!

I, quite honestly, thought that the 2$ Hooker was a joke, something we throw around as a sleazy comparison. But no, life has thrown another hooker in my path and once again made me happy for my position in life... I wonder when I'll meet my next hooker?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Adventures in Telemarketing: Real Jobs

For those not in the know I work at a call center. I am employed by Leger Marketing to conduct market research, which means I call people and businesses in attempts to collect supposedly valuable information (most of the time it seems entirely inane).

While doing this job I encounter a ludicrous ammount of grief from the populace at large. I understand annoyance at someone calling and trying to sell you something while you're eating your most precious supper, but the ammount of pure vile and venom I encounter is absolutely absurd. I'm not selling anything, i'm not trying to wrestle your last few dollars from your superbly iron grip; I'm simply and very politely asking for a few moments of your time to answer some harmless questions, any of which you can refuse to answer.

I routinely get sworn at, yelled at, hung up on and fucked around with... but that's to be expected, even Canadians can be assholes. however there is something that  really sours my mood: being told to get a "Real Job".

There are so many things wrong with that statement that I almost don't know where to begin, so I'll start with the most obvious choice: What exactly is a "Real Job" and why in sweet holy hell do I need one?

Let's look at what my job gives me:
- Full time (35 to 40 hours per week) if I want it
- A flexible schedule
- Pays higher than Minimum Wage
- An hour long lunch break

That sounds like a decent job to me. It's nothing terrific but it will keep you fed, clothed, under a roof and not piss poor.

Now, how about it being "real"? I'll skip the existentialist debate on whether or not anything we do, perceive or believe is real and get right to the "reality" of things: Every two weeks money gets deposited in my bank account in direct relation to the amount of hours I spent working for that pay period and that pay is treated as legal tender when I pay bills and buy food.

That, my good friends, is real enough for me!

Now the next question is "What do these people consider to be Real Jobs and what right do they have to demean mine?"

To do that, let's examine two cases:

The first was when I was calling Halifax for a corporate project (so, that means I am calling businesses). A file pops up and a lady answers, the business listed on the file is "Christie's 30s and 40s Escort Service". So right off the bat we know things arent exactly going to be normal here.

I begin my intro. "Hi, my name is James, I'm calling on behalf of yada yada" when suddenly she cuts me off and starts laying into me. First she swears at me and asks me how I can sleep at night when I call people and disturb them all day, to which i reply "Fine, thank you very much", ignoring my occasional bouts of insomnia, and let her ramble on. She then insinuates that my family must be ashamed of me because of my job. A ridiculous assumption, because my Mum, grandparents, cousins and aunts and uncles all care for me very much and are supportive of me taking my life into my own hands. she then proceeds to tell me to "get a Real Job"...

I pause...
I'm in shock!
Did a 40 year old hooker just tell me to get a better job? I hung up on her and, in short order, start laughing. When I tell my colleagues why I'm laughing I send one of them into near-hysterics.

In what backwards world is hooking into your 50s considered more respectable than putting yourself through the tail-end of your education doing market research? In that world Spock has a goatee and Megatron leads the Heroic Decepticons. In that world I fall up and burn books while dressed in Nazi regalia and a bright pink tutu. It is a silly world.

The second instance we will discuss is one of significantly less hilarity. This one is more recent and of a more infuriating nature.

I was calling people in Toronto to do a study on air travel in Canada. Innocuous, harmless stuff. On my first call this kid answers the phone, he sounds at most 19 and I go into my pitch, ask him if he is 18 or older. "Yes" he says. Has he flown in Canada in the last year? Another "Yes". How many times? "Left". Excuse me? "Right" he says, his satisfaction with himself reeking through his voice. Little shit thinks he's terribly clever. I call him out on his bullshit and call him "ridiculous", he says "at least I don't work in a call center" and tells me to "get a real job". I tell him to "get a life" and insinuate that someone of his obvious intellectual aptitude would go far in life, maybe even be assistant manager at a McDonald's in 30 or 40 years.

Now, I hold myself to a code of generally being nice to people and trying hard to not judge them right away, but if the world of "Real Jobs" is filled with old hookers and prospectless douchebags, why exactly do I need a "Real Job"? To associate myself with the lower tier of the intellectual spectrum? I fear that wanting a "Real Job" in this world has just become tantamount to wanting an STD and an IQ of less than half my age. If Hookers and Wiseass McDonalds employees are the best the world of "Real Jobs" has to offer, I'll stick with my "Illusory Job" and keep my self-respect and ability to treat other human being with dignity. Telemarketing is a shitty job, for sure, but in the end at least I know I'm a better person for not having demeaned some random individual for trying to survive. No, I'll just demean them for being stupid and jackasses.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Technical Difficulties

Okay, so, this week I finally managed to get ahold of my friend's external harddrive to try and fix my computer, but the problem is that while transfering files my computer slows down to a snail's pace. Combine that with a stressful week at work and with inter-personal relations and you get me missing my update dates.

I have a lot of stuff to write about, so I figure the two people reading this won't mind if I break my schedule for a while and just update as I see fit over the next while.

Wish me luck fixing my poor busted laptop!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Anticipating an AFternoon with Fred Van Lente

For the 3 people who actually read this, I promise you I will actually review some comics here eventually. It's been slow goings in monthlies coming out, and I haven't had the opportunity to grab any trades lately (it is so much easier to shell out 3 bucks at one time than 18)... but that's not to say I don't have a large list of things to buy.

As I have been informed, by a variety of sources, namely facebook and the targeted ads on this blog, a West Island comic shop known as The 4th Wall will be hosting Marvel scribe Fred Van Lente for an afternoon of hanging out and signing books.

I, personally, have only read one of Van Lente's works, The Incredible Hercules, and if everything goes as planned I intend on having him sign as much of my run as possible. It is an excellently written and drawn, fun and witty series. Unfortunately, this isn't going to be a review of the series as, at the current moment, my copies of the series are all in storage at my mothers place (if I didn't have her being amazingly kind enough to let me leave the majority of my collected goods at home I would have had to liquidate a vast majority of my collection).

No, what this is going to be is a brief extolling of the growth of conventions and guest appearances in the area. I've been a lifelong fan of comics, but it wasn't until later in my life when I started travelling outside of my hometown for school that I ever had access to comic shops. These shops varied in size and classiness, and still do, but never did I hear of any of them having actual recognized names in for signings and it wasn't until 2008 that the Montreal Comic-Con came into existence.In the two years since then, things have actually started to take off. The convention has grown in size with each iteration and Cosmix, on the most recent FCBD, had a recognizable name in for a signing (of course I can't remember it now). Now The 4th Wall, which has been around for barely a year or so, has Mr. Van Lente appearing.

This, to me, shows that Montreal is growing. Toronto has the massive Fan Expo, after 15 or so years of growth it has become quite epic, and Calgary has their giant comic con. If things keep going the way they have been, I expect that in the next 5 or so years Montreal very well might be the next big Canadian convention location, and that might very well benefit the plethora of upstart young creators like myself who want to break into the industry but really cant afford the trek to places like San Diego or Chicago and need to rely on homegrown possibilities. The more there are, the more opportunities to get noticed any one individual has... and that, I dare say, is a grand thing.

I hope you weren't too offput by my very local musings, and I hope youll join me next time when I ponder what to do with my large collection of single issues and my newfound preferences for collecting most titles as Trades...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Propogating the Industry I Love

Today I experienced something that made me feel better about my geekdom than ever before: I got to help someone bring comics to children.

It is a simple but meaningful story, and I'd like to share it with you.

This morning I got a call from Oscar, one of the organizers of the Montreal Comic-Con, to confirm my ability to volunteer for the three days of Convention activity (Friday isn't a day of attendance, but I will be there to set up before the Saturday start). Later in the day, while running errands in the city, I swung by 1000000 Comix to talk to Alex, the other Convention organizer and one of the owners of 1000000, about what I'll be doing at the Con as a volunteer. When I got to the store it was relatively busy, so I do my usual browse the racks thing and I notice an out-of-place mid-to-late 30 year old lady dealing with a pile of singles and trades, looking perplexed, while her very young son nearby reading an issue of Marvel Knights Black Panther 2099 (I seriously didn't even know this book EXISTED until today).

Seeing as the one-man-staff of the store is moderately busy elsewhere I wind up, after a brief while, heading over to see what the mess of comics splayed out in front of her was about. As it turns out she is a teacher and, during the summer, she runs a camp for at risk students (those who are most likely to drop out of school either because of family situations or because they have trouble for one reason or another keeping up with where they should be academically (reading levels etc.)), and the theme of their camp is Comic Books (at least this year and the last). They use comic books to help get these children interested in reading and to help cover various ideas, such as seeing how representations of characters differ depending on the era they were written in etc.

She had requirements she needed to meet with the material she was getting, such as needing to have black superheroes (which her son was adorably trying to help her with by handing her Black Cat and Spider-Man: Back in Black trades) and needing to have differeing levels of difficulty in her material. she had a decent variety of reading levels in front of her, but the metric tonne of singles she was going through did not equal up to any one story getting told in sequence. First I helped her with the fact that she had no continuity to the books she had, which is something she herself just didn't have any awareness of before this shopping excursion (her experience with comics in the past having been Archie as a child and collected volumes of Bone for the previous year), and this wasn't just the geek in me saying "Egad, how do you expect them to read issue 3 and then jump to 15 without the twelve issues between them?", because, as she explained it to me, the idea is that if a child reads part one of a story they are more likely to want to keep reading if the next relevant chapter is nearby and just as easily mentally digested (well, clearly those are my words, but that is the meaning she conveyed).

Following that (I really wanted to use Pursuant, but the definition just doesn't match up) I acted on the Black Hero requirement and reccomended War Machine to her, for two reasons: 1) He is bad ass and covered in guns and 2) he was in Iron Man 2 and would draw in recognition credibility from the kiddies. I scoured through the back issues and found a small 5 issue run of the classic 1990s War Machine comics, which I figured would be much more kid friendly than his newer run which, from all I have read of it (not much), is more realistic and therefore more violent.

Alex wound up sort of working out a deal with her for how she could affordably bring the entire camp to the Montreal Comic-Con, and then she bought a big stack of books and headed out.

I was left feeling very satisfied and accomplished, knowing that I had just helped somone (who thanked me profusely throughout the entire event) bring both reading and comic books to children. It was very fulfilling to know that I could very well have helped to spread the love of this medium on to another generation... and I can only think of one thing that would be more satisfying than that...