As I’m getting back into the swing of creating things, I’m also in a place where I’m digging into the masters of the mediums I pursue to see what their thoughts are/were on a particular craft and how those views align or don’t align with my own (the latter approached with an open mind so I’m not closed off in my thinking). In the case of today’s blog entry, quotes on writing were the order of the day.
I’m a firm believer in always learning even if there are stumbles along the way. I also believe every artist regardless of their craft never arrive. Practicing a craft is a lifetime pursuit and ends when you die. Perfection will never be obtained because there is always one punctuation mark to adjust or one fine line on a drawing to tweak. The goal is to do your best while making every effort to improve along the way.
Here are three quotes on writing–more specifically reading–to ponder:
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” – Stephen King
I am in agreement here, and by reading, Mr. King is talking about actual reading, not social media or simple headlines. Reading is part of the job.
And so . . .
“Read, read, read. Read everything–trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” – William Faulkner
This I’ve practiced since I started in this field. I believe that every piece of writing has at least one good sentence in it, or one good turn-of-phrase, or one lesson of some sort to learn. The ideal is to find all those things repeatedly in the same book, but at a minimum, every type of writing has at least one thing going for it that is worth learning from.
“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” – Ray Bradbury
I chose this one because I was often criticized for living in Fantasyland. I’ll let this one speak to you in its own way. I know how it’s spoken to me.
Last, in regards to reading, this is a note to say the latest chapter of Gigantigator Death Machine was posted to Patreon today. Please go here to start reading this exciting and terrifying serial novel and its preceding chapters for just a buck. Thanks.
The winter season is nearly here, which means this week I’m putting the final touches on getting ready for Heavy Broadcast Mode, which starts November 1. Believe it or not, a lot of planning and organizing goes into making books and comics for public consumption. It’s not just me writing a story and sending it out all willy nilly. Every creator works their own way, but on my end, I need to have certain mechanisms in place so I can publish a story and get it into your hands properly. This ranges from the actual publishing machine itself to the promotion side of it to even making sure I have copies here at the Central for you. Then add on the need to make and have all those systems in place all the while keeping a roof over my head and, well, yeah. Busy times.
This isn’t over-complicating it. It’s just planning things out so, once all is up and running, I have the greatest resource of all when it comes to creating stories and sharing them: Time.
Everything takes time. Some things take a mere minute, other things take hours or days, and the only way to have that time is do all that I’ve been doing behind the scenes here at the Central. (Speaking of behind the scenes, a new behind-the-scenes entry is going up on my Patreon this Friday. Join the journey to check it out.)
To find out more of what it takes to keep the creative machine running, please join my free weekly newsletter, The Canister X Transmission. It’s a letter from me to you week after week. It’s a chance for all subscribers to have a common meeting point each week to take a load off, escape the stress of the world, have a read (maybe even a laugh), and just breathe after busting butt all week. It’s also a chance to bring you up to speed on all that’s happened here at the Central, things not always covered on this blog. Pull up a chair. We always have room for one more.
In June of 2020, I will have been writing for twenty years. Though I was creating before that–primarily comic book art–it was in June of 2000 that I decided to make books my living. I was originally aiming to be a comic book artist but life threw me a curve ball and through various circumstances books became the order of the day.
I’ve been giving thought to a memoir for a very long time. It would be an opportunity to share with readers my creative journey and, when appropriate, my personal journey as well. It would also be a chance to lay my creative life out in front of me where I can see it and visit time periods I haven’t been to since they originally happened. A partial journal effort, so to speak.
Regarding publication, no doubt there would be a formal release of a paperback and eBook, but I’m also thinking of airing it on-line first, whether here at Canister X or on my Patreon or both.
It’s been a wild ride to get to the present day. I started out crafting stories completely naive as to how this business worked and hit many roadblocks along the way. The plan for this project will require further thought but I think I’ve already settled upon the process so I can create it without it overloading my already-hectic schedule.
On September 14, 2019, I launched my first Patreon page. It was a thrilling day and one filled with hope and excitement. Sure, part of the reason to create the page was to supplement my writing and drawing income, but, having been part of Web culture since close to the beginning of my career (circa 2000), it was an opportunity for me to create a place on the Web to share cool stuff with people in a kind of “club” format.
See, I have this problem of creating a ton of stuff for free and putting in on the Web whether via this blog or social media. As of today’s date, I’m on here blogging articles, essays, and musings Monday to Friday, my free weekly newsletter goes out on Saturdays, I started up a YouTube channel again, and I’m doing Inktober and sharing those sketches on social media (see the icons on the right). I enjoy entertaining people and, if I was in a place where money was no object, I’d gladly share all my work for free. But I can’t. I need to eat, need to buy supplies, need to cover costs, etc. so I have no choice but to charge for my work hence adding Patreon as part of my platform.
If there is one major aspect of Patreon I truly enjoy, it is the idea of having a special place on the Web where people use a key (money) to unlock a door (my Patreon) to get stuff only available on the other side of that door. It’s an opportunity for me to virtually sit down with a group of people several times a month and go, “Look what I made. Hope it entertains you. Hope it educates you.” Almost like show-and-tell but, hopefully, much more entertaining. And, in the end, that’s what Patreon stands for for me: My patrons. They’re a special group of people who were willing to shell out a few beans to help a northern jackass like myself keep making entertainment for them and others.
(Side note to explain what creators mean when they say buying their work or supporting their Patreon enables them to keep creating. They are not saying that without the support they can no longer create. A creator creates and always will. Just how it is. What they are saying is your support buys them the greatest and most precious of all commodities: Time. Time is the most valuable thing on the planet. Once a moment passes, it’s gone forever. No going back. No storing it up. It’s not even in abundant supply because we all die. If a creator spends their time doing everything but creating–I’m talking surviving life stuff not blowing hours on social media–then we’d have no entertainment. By supporting a creator, you’re filling up their Time Bank Account instead of them spending their Time Dollars on things that hinder the hours needed to create something. Even if ten hours a week can be supplemented, if the creator is responsible, they now have ten extra hours to make stuff for you. It’s win-win on both ends.)
I’m only about a month into my Patreon journey. It’s been wonderful so far and I look forward to the days that are scheduled to upload new content. Right now, a new chapter of my creature feature serial novel, Gigantigator Death Machine, airs every two weeks (a new chapter went up today). On the off weeks, I put up essays on the creative industry and also treat patrons to behind-the-scenes stuff here at the Central. Of course, there are also extra blog posts for everyone as well as patron-first announcements where my patrons receive news before the general public. I’m still finding my footing regarding what else to offer. I have a plan for an ongoing special something for patrons but it’s not ready yet. Perhaps in the New Year, perhaps sooner. Regardless, I’m pleased with my current offerings and am excited to share more as time goes on.
My patrons are my special group. They are those who’ve gone the extra mile by way of monthly support, and for that I am grateful. I want to publicly thank them here and I want to offer a thanks to future patrons as well.
Welcome to October, ladies and gentlemen. Today marks the beginning of a new month, the onset of fall (my favorite season), warm houses, cozy soups, lots of coffee, Happy Jack (pumpkin ale from local brewery Fort Garry Brewing Company) and, of course, lots of work.
Under normal circumstances, the end of October would not just be Halloween, but the Central Canada Comic Con (C4) as well. I couldn’t attend last year because I was ill and this year it was unfortunately announced C4 has closed its doors for good. Which is too bad. It was a massive show with tens of thousands of people in attendance. I always looked forward to it to meet my readers and sign old books and new. I tabled there from 2007 to 2017. It is a bummer, but all good things must come to an end, I suppose. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes or why the show wasn’t sold to another party, but I am grateful for all the years I attended, the year I was a guest, the kindness of the show’s owners (Michael Paille and Violet), the cool people I met, the creators I networked with, the wicked cosplay I saw, and, most importantly, having a chance to talk to my readers face-to-face.
It truly is the end of an era, the end of Central Canada Comic Con.
I wish Michael and Violet the best as they go into the future.
Back to October: I have some plans for this month. Not sure what I want to say on here just yet, but creating will be done. I suppose for now just watch this space or subscribe to my weekly newsletter.
This week I’ve been growing my Patreon. More people have come on board (thank you) and more content has been added. Friday saw the new chapter of Gigantigator Death Machine go up along with something from behind the scenes. Other items have been added to it since it first launched. Though I’m still at the beginning stages of my Patreon page, I’ve learned that it’s meant to be tended to like a garden, with water (content) and sun (people) making it grow. It’s thrilling to watch the page find its footing. I have a lot planned for it and it’s important to me to make sure my patrons are happy as much as is reasonably possible.
In other news, most of my Web mechanisms are now in place for the winter months. There was a lot of work and a lot of setup required to get the creative machine running again. I’m glad the bulk of it is behind me because now I can focus on creating new things and adding to the groundwork that has already been laid. Watch this space for news on upcoming releases.
Shortly, the new issue of The Canister X Transmission goes out. Don’t forget to take part in that. You get a free novelette as a thank you for joining us.
The weekend is now here. Take some time for yourself over the next two days. Go for a walk. Read a book. Sit outside and take in nature before it freezes over. It’s good for you.
My name is A.P. Fuchs and I’m a novelist, cartoonist, and freelancer in all things publishing. You are reading my blog, Canister X, my official web presence. I’ve been in this business as a creative professional for sixteen years, been creating for longer than that.
While this is my main home on the Web, I also have a longstanding presence on social media:
Note: This post was originally published on Jeffrey Allen Davis’s blog
The Redsaw Origin and How I Write Supervillains
Disclaimer: The following article is meant for those who have read some or all of The Axiom-man Saga. If you have not read the series, please stop now and consider checking out the series first (http://bit.ly/1oy9MJU) as this article contains spoilers, namely Redsaw’s secret identity, which is part of the mystery of the first book.
Like Axiom-man, Redsaw has something of a muddled past. I’m talking about his real life origin, not his story one. However, Redsaw didn’t really come together until writing Axiom-man. Until that point, he was more an idea that never materialized in the mental fantasy I had going which eventually birthed The Axiom-man Saga we know today. All I knew about my overall fantasy was there were two cosmic beings at war. One that represented Good (known as the messenger in the saga), and one that represented Evil (known as the master). How these cosmic beings work is they each have champions on multiple planets throughout the universe, one guy stepping forward for them and duking it out on these planets while these two cosmic beings fight it out elsewhere. Usually, the messenger only puts his man in place once the master strikes an unsuspecting world. On Earth, the messenger’s champion is Axiom-man so, you guessed it, the master’s main man is Redsaw. What’s interesting to note is Axiom-man was put in place shortly before Redsaw’s arrival, a pre-emptive move on the messenger’s part and for reasons revealed in the series.
Redsaw is the main supervillain of The Axiom-man Saga.
That should bring you enough up to speed on who’s who in my superhero universe.
When it came to creating Redsaw, other than knowing he had to be the bad guy, he needed to be more than just the bad guy. The first thing I decided was it was imperative he was more powerful than Axiom-man, first and foremost in his superpowers—which are similar but stronger—and secondly as his human alter ego.
In costume, Redsaw can fly twice as fast, is twice as strong, and the energy beams he shoots from his hands do twice the damage.
Out of costume, Oscar Owen is rich, well-known, and utterly confident, whereas Gabriel Garrison (Axiom-man) struggles with money, is a nobody, and has self-esteem issues.
But that’s just the superficial stuff.
Even the name “Redsaw” is superficial in that I needed a cool name for a villain and “red” typically represents evil and “saw” was named after a sawblade, a dangerous weapon if used to kill somebody. The jagged lines on Redsaw’s red and black costume represent his own jaggedness and danger—again, the sawblade thing.
Going deeper, however, I didn’t want a bad guy who was the bad guy simply because he was the bad guy. In other words, I didn’t want a bad guy being bad for bad’s sake. There needed to be a reason, and the best reason for any villain in literature or film is the one that says they’re the bad guy because they don’t have any other choice. They have a strong motive that turned them down a dark path. A classic example is Darth Vader. He joined the dark side to save Padme. The dark side consumed him and we all know the rest of the story.
Oscar Owen was chosen by the master because Oscar drove himself hard to rise from poverty and become a somebody and tried to be a good guy with his powerful position. Once joined with the black cloud that gave him his superpowers, even then, he strove to be a hero like Axiom-man. He just didn’t know joining with the black cloud came at a cost and the black cloud transformed him into someone he wasn’t: the reluctant villain. The villain you and I can relate to. The one that, if you or I were put in their shoes, would do what they do no matter how dark or despicable because, from their point-of-view, they’re doing the right thing even if the cause is evil.
That’s the kind of main villain I was after for Axiom-man: someone like him. Someone who strove to do what they perceived was the right thing. Unfortunately, for Redsaw, his “right thing” is the wrong thing, but thankfully we have Axiom-man there to stop him.
Regarding other supervillains I’ve created—Char, Bleaken, Battle Bruiser, and Lady Fire—they all have something in common and it all goes back to what I did with Redsaw: they’re more powerful than the hero. It might be their powers, it might be their intellect, but either way, my villains always have a leg up on Axiom-man so they’re a challenge to fight. It’s the only way to create true conflict in the novels otherwise, if they were weaker, Axiom-man would stomp them into the ground every time and the story would be over in a few pages. Sure, it’s fun to have a few purely-human bad guys for Axiom-man to quickly dispose of, but when it comes to his superpowered rogues gallery, I needed my bad guys to be stronger than the hero and make him really dig deep whether physically or mentally to put the villains away for good. And even then . . . they might not always stay put, but for what I mean by that, you’ll have to check out the books and see for yourself.
A supervillain—breaking down the word—sure, the “villain” part is easy. It’s the “super” part that’s hard because that goes beyond their powers. They need to be above average in who they are as a person. They need to be motivated by something beyond what gets us normal people through our day. They need to be motivated by something “super.” It could be a tragedy, a misguidance, even a dark heart birthed out of something beyond their control in years past. There’s no such thing as a person who’s born bad. We all make choices. Some yield Good. Others yield Evil. Others take us down roads filled with both. Throw superpowers into the mix and you have the potential to create a superpowered problem that only a superhero can fight.
As for Redsaw, well, like Axiom-man, he’s on a journey, too. One that can only lead to one place. As for where or what that is, you’ll just have to read and find out.