Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Theatre versus Comic Books!!!

Most of my readers know that I have been working on a joint graphic novel/stage play entitled the MEATLOCKER. It is part of my attempt to approach the narrative from multiple ways in order to magnify the live and exposure of the stories I want to tell. I have also been working on a weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) graphic novel version of my play CLAY CONTINENT.

But, back to MEATLOCKER.

Telling a story in two different mediums makes me wrestle daily with the differences and how to navigate these forms. The issue is a single story told twice in tandem in different of those mediums being significantly more temporal than the other. Having to make decisions is alot harder for me when the result is more permanently framed on a page than when solely performance/production.

Theatrical expression is, as many folks love to point out, temporal. I have been working in that temporal medium as long as I can remember. However, now I am entering into a new (to me)form of expression of sequential art, and it is messing with my head.

When any creative decision happens in the theatre, it is in my experience always in process. Even after the show opens creative things happening on stage are in process. Emphasis and shape of action, pause, angle are pliant. If one allows for tweeks to the sound or lighting levels then even how the action is framed becomes mutable.

Sequential Art is not quite so. Now that I conceiving of locking the telling of the tale into a frame on a page, I am hesitate to make judgement on each image. It is enabling yes, but with that comes this unshakable anxiety. Is this image, the right image to convey the story, image, the tone.

Specifically, I am torn over how I am going to make the Meatlocker Comic Book look.

Perhaps this doubt I feel echoes the same sorts of doubts I must have had when I became directing for the stage. Hard for me to be certain, I was the quintessence of arrogance way back when.

MEATLOCKER is a noir for stage. When I think of all the classic noirs from Maltese Falcon to Touch of Evil one thing remains constant, the lack of color. How or if color is going to work in this graphic novel is something that still evades me.

The first thing that complicates my notions of whether to go B&W is the
fact that ultimately we're going to be putting this up on stage in front of an audience that will be seeing it in color, muted maybe...but in color. Perhaps Stage techs know of a way to trick the human eye to perceive significantly less color, but the production stills I've seen of this sort of thing dont read to me as black and white.

Do I want a hardboiled graphic novel awash with color? If the book were going to stand on its own would this even be a question? Would I go ahead and just make it black and white? I don't know.

Maybe folks would even say, the color spoils the illusion and homage to noir?

As I type this I'm also reminded of Coffin Joe's THIS NIGHT I'LL POSSESS YOUR SOUL. A Brazilian horror filmmaker, whose first big film was B&W except for the scenes taking place in Hell which were full color (it was his way of using color artistically oh and he couldn't afford to do the whole film in color)too...wink). Perhaps that is a way to go about it, a predominantly B&W book, with moments of color...Red blood, Blue Skin on Meat? Miller did this in Sin City of course.

And then their is the question of Miller. Of course his work is an undeniable influence upon me, but I am constantly wanting this book to be akin to the things I love about Sin City, without being too similar to that series as well.

I've storyboarded approximately half of the script now, and the question that keeps hammering into my skull is... does this look too much like Miller's Sin City or is that composition too much like Sandman...

Ultimately I'll just have to let go and do it, but It has been an interesting step in my process... the doubt that arises from a form of expression that has more permanence than performance, and the concern of emulating one's heroes to too great a degree.

Friday, August 22, 2008

From Comments at Parabasis re:copyright

So, I've been knee deep in internet rumblings this past week, which is actually wonderfully engaging even though I'm sure consensus is impossible...anyway I worked hard on this response to Issac and I "sampled" my own work and put it here...enjoy (or not)


Capitalization emphasis mine (since I can’t get Isaac’s comments to let me italize)

"This protection is subject to an important limitation. The mere fact that a work is copyrighted does not mean that every element of the work may be protected. ORIGINALITY remains the sine qua non of copyright; accordingly, copyright protection may extend only to those components of a work that are original to the author. Patterson & Joyce 800-802; Ginsburg, Creation and Commercial Value: Copyright Protection of Works of Information, 90 Colum.L.Rev. 1865, 1868, and n. 12 (1990) (hereinafter Ginsburg). Thus, if the compilation author clothes facts with an original collocation of words, he or she may be able to claim a copyright in this written expression. Others may copy the underlying facts from the publication, but not the precise words used to present them. In Harper & Row, for example, we explained that President Ford could not prevent others from copying bare historical facts from his autobiography, see 471 U.S., at 556-557, 105 S.Ct., at 2228-2229, but that he could prevent others from copying his "subjective descriptions and portraits of public figures." Id., at 563, 105 S.Ct., at 2232. Where the compilation author adds no written expression but rather lets the facts speak for themselves, the expressive element is more elusive. The only conceivable expression is the manner in which the compiler has selected and arranged the facts. Thus, if the selection and arrangement are original, these elements of the work are eligible for copyright protection. See Patry, Copyright in Compilations of Facts (or Why the "White Pages" Are Not Copyrightable), 12 Com. & Law 37, 64 (Dec. 1990) (hereinafter Patry). No matter how original the format, however, the facts themselves do not become original through association. See Patterson & Joyce 776."

2 notes
a) I included the text about Carter because I thought contextually it was essential
b) The finding regarding a phone book lacking originality and therefore not being protected by copyright… is not immediately relatable to a undoubtedly copyrighted recording or literature of the 20th/21st century that’s authors or immediate family are still alive.

Perhaps certain forms of sampling fall under the heading of “original arrangement”?

So what justifies an original arrangement? Do we have a ruling on that? See cause I could argue that if an audio sample is a recognizable replication of copyrighted material then it is arguably NOT original and therefore potential copyright infringement.

So, if some wants to argue that a certain length of time (as in sample) or a certain amount of linear replicated verbiage (as in literature) has to be exceeded or the use is fair use…I can get that (but can we agree as to the duration of sample).

Elsewhere…(cue batman music but only if it has finally entered the public domain)

After careful reading I must concede that the Supreme Court did say “The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but ‘[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.’ To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work.”

(ideas and information as separated from the work itself can be a sticking point…but please indulge me and proceed on…)

But the court also states that whereas it is not the primary objective, it still is a recognized immediate objective.


"The immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an `author's' creative labor. But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good."

Perhaps we are both right? (that's no fun)

or is the court saying that by immediately securing the fair return of an author the ultimate achievement is in the best interests of the public good?

or is the court saying that theft is acceptable if one can argue that the theft enriches the public good? i.e. Theft of private property via eminent domain is acceptable if it ultimately leads to a public good?

“But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity”…Question by which incentive? See, I interpret the incentive to be the “immediate effect” it refers to in the previous sentence. Perhaps someone else refutes that?

I believe that by denying one individual the legal opportunity to replicate the original work of another copyrighted author you are stimulating the would be replicator to create something wholly different wholly original. It is by insuring the rights of one author that you simulate the would be sampler to create something original rather than replicated.


To merely the cite...

“The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but ‘[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.’ To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work.”

...without a fuller reading of the Court's findings as justification for sampling copyrighted materials as in an instance like the Grey Album seems specious.

Or perhaps I could call it “selective sampling” of the court’s ruling into an original finding?

It has been stated, somewhere perhaps Lethem, that Collage has been the predominant form of creative expression for this century and arguably the previous century.

I’ll grant that point. But perhaps it is via a combination of the information availability and copyright law that that period is coming to a close, or if not a close at the very least to a higher stage of accountability. Historical precedent does not always justify immediate behavior (for an example civil rights)

If there truly are no new ldeas left to discover, those who consider themselves creative have to incorporate diligence into their craft to sincerely attempt to express a pre-existing idea in a new way …or… respect the wishes of the copyright protected author until the original expression passes into public domain …or…accept the risk and revel in infringement before the deserved financial repercussions manifest civically.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hmmmm...What is copyright?

Maybe we should go to the source i.e. the US Office of Copyright.


Regardless of legality

Are Sampling and Intrepretation synonymus?

If so how?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Man! Them Playwrights sure can get uppity

Someone ought to put em in their place!

Here's some hyperbole...just for fun...which scenarios are acceptable to you and which are dear reader?

A young promising playwright has been commissioned by a arts org to write a play for their ensemble. The piece is written, the playwright has been compensated, and rehearsals have begun. During the first week of rehearsals, the director (who happens to be a member of the ensemble with previous acting/directing/and playwriting credits) has one or more changes to propose such as...

1) Changing definite articles like "a" to "the" so that certain lines flow better
2) Moving the protagonist's monologue from one scene to another because it will carry more emotional weight
3) Deciding that a certain secondary character in a few scenes is superfluous and wanting them removed and their lines given to a different character
4) Wanting to change the locale specified by the playwright...i.e. moving a certain scene from the kitchen into the bedroom
5) Deciding than certain lines that were written to spoken at the same time should be spoken separately
6) Thinking that the premise of the protagonist works better it some sort of change is made to their gender, sexual identity, race, class, occupation, physical appearance, degree of health

When the playwright insists that these changes are not acceptable to him/her...the director makes certain suggestions like...

1) Well, we commissioned it so we have a right to change anything we want without the playwright's approval
2) So long as as I am respecting the basic premise/scenario of the playwright, changes to the actual events and words are acceptable
3) The playwright should just be grateful we are producing the a play even if we insist on changes. We could have just as easily produced a dead playwright's work and made all the changes we want
4) Playwrights have to understand that their words are only a polite suggestion about how the performance should be undertaken, and in a world where a piece can be distributed and documented without utilizing the written word, theatre is no longer literature
5) If the playwright ever wants to work again, they better be willing to concede artistic choices they make to the will of the director

Hyperbole? Maybe...maybe not. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Life ... Odds and Ends ... Pay no attention... no wait pay attention

Well, I haven't been posting anything to profound lately. I didn't chime in on the whole HoTFA affair too much (I didn't see any opportunity to add something to the debate other than echoing previously stated opines)... Had a minor dusty with Scott over Fandom versus Community... And not much else aside from working on the graphic novel stuff.

It seems that Toronto is blowing up, and Keenan is posting again which is nice. I miss my daily entertainments of Scott and Don barking at each other from across the country (I know...I'm sick like that).

Also, I miss hearing more from Mac and James about their NYC shows. I've seen the PR, but I'd love some more in depth stuff (maybe It's out there and I'm missing the links?)...

The Baseball season's end is in sight and ESPN is more interested in talking Football which always means the end of summer is nigh. I must try to enjoy autumn as much as possible.

I need to focus on ways to expand time. It is contracting too much lately.


Metaluna closed. I was there. Joe, Don, and Jen and the rest were awesome. At the after party it was nice to have some folks talk favorably about the Meatlocker stuff they have seen.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Concept/Prototype for The Meatlocker

Playing around with making the images just black and white.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Meet Benny the Bookie

Meet One of the Villians from The Meatlocker...
Benny the Bookie

Benny is being performed by Joe Janes...who also happens to be a wonderful author of WNEP's Metaluna.

who also happens to be a wonderful author of among other thingsWNEP's Metaluna. Closing weekend...See it...see it...see it!

Cross Posted at

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Want to be a part of the show!?!

Hello Fellow Theatrospherians!!! As many of you know, I'm currently in pre-production for THE MEATLOCKER. And, I need your help...

No...I'm not asking for money (yet...gulp)... I am asking for your FACES. I'm asking you all to collaborate with me.

Here's what I want... I want you to send me a couple digital photos (nice resolution) or your face or be used to populate the crowd scene during one of the boxing matches in The MEATLOCKER. If you have an stipulations about how I alter the photo...please let me know up front (Some faces will be made into caricature). click here for example.

So, photos of you screaming at the camera like you were screaming for Rocky Balboa. You can send them to devilvet at g mail . com.

And once I've got the panels up, I'll post them here and at as well as one of those maps so that we can all find Waldo in the crowd at the fight!

Here's an opportunity for all of us in a small way to collaborate on something small...and see if it'll lead to something big!!!

Thanks everybody!

Meatlocker Process - Part One

Meatlocker Process - Part One
Hyperbole, Caricature , and the Performer

I'll start off saying I'm an amateur photographer. I have a lot of enthusiasm, but anything I know about photoshop and photography is pretty much self taught.... so... constructive, alternate, supportive opinions about the process following are most welcome, even desired.

Nuff Said

Since I'm working with actors rather than models, there is a tendency to conceive/discuss progress using cinematic terms. Even if we are using the camera... our product is a graphic novel (or comic book it you will). Although, both cinema and graphic novels seem similar as narrative forms, there are some key differences worth noting as we move forward.

One thing most folks with a interest in acting on film know is that generally 'less is more' when it comes to performance. In much film work you need to create a visual world that aids in the spectators' ability to believe what they are seeing is possible. This has lead to a very measured approach, Stanislavsky's approach where there is a direct connect to the world around us as we see it. Genre Film making can allow for a wider array, an expanded palette of expression if you will...but over the previous century, film has attempted to capture a photo realistic moment and the actors performances are an extension of that. There's Jack Lemmon's anecdote about a director (Billy Wilder?) who after multiple takes asked the actors to be less animated...finally Lemmon exclaimed "If I give you any less, I wont be acting at all!" to which the director retorted "Brilliant! That's what I want! roll em!". So, when a camera is used, the initial response from a seasoned, experienced performer is to be 'real'.

But, the graphic novel is a narrative exercise in cartooning. Most cartooning captures abstract or obtuse expression and gestures. Cartooning/Caricature require exaggeration.

So, when shooting your performers' photographic source images, you may to want to aim for the opposite of 'real'. Always get some 'real' shots (you may need them), but also be sure to ask the performer to hyperbolize for a couple of shots as well..

Talk with your performers about how animated characters move and walk and talk. Of course, no human can make their mouth grin as wide as the Cheshire cat, but encourage them to go over board for a couple of pictures. That will better enable you make their portraits into Caricature which is what you are going to want.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Meatlocker Concept Art

Man, I had me a wonderful weekend. First off I slept most of Saturday, only taking a break from napping to ingest brunchy goodness and listen to a ball game. Then, Sunday I had the good fortune to work with some of my favorite people to begin pre-production "screen tests" for the Meatlocker Graphic Novel. I use the word screen test, a filmmakers term, because I'm not really sure what the comparable word is in photography.

Next Week I'll finally have some of my thoughts on how the process is unfolding. Right now I'm just playing with different styles in photoshop seeing if I can settle on a look I like that is different from the abstract style of the Clay Continent webcomic, also a look that allows caricature of the actors' faces and bodies but in which they are still immediately identifiable to people who've seen them before. This is something that sometimes is achieved during the Clay Continent comparisons, but not always and so long as clarity and story are maintained, I didn't mind. But, I do want the Meatlocker to be a showcase of these wonderful Chicago Actors, so there is an additional goal. Lastly, the whole thing has to look hardboiled/noir with small hints of horror/fantasy. A tall order? Maybe...

More on this next week

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Dorothy Lathrop

Thanks to Golden Age Comic Book Stories

Monday, August 04, 2008

Vacation Has Been Greenlit!

Very excited. My dayjob is sending me to San Francisco 11-16th and then I get to vacation driving up the coast 10 days to Seattle. I got to start saving my pennies now, but man I am excited. Do I have any readers on the west coast? Or friends of friends? Travis dont you have some san fran connection?

Monday Morning Post

Well, I've got some new Clay Continent stuff. Now that I've gotten past the character's introductions and opening monologues, we are finally getting into some narrative interaction between the characters. Every time I turn on the computer and start fiddling with the images in Photoshop it's new lessons learned, but I'm hoping that since we are now getting into the actually story... that folks' interest will renew.

This weekend we also had our first photo shoot for The Meatlocker. I can wait to start playing around with these shots we got. Major thanks to all the folks involved. Even though the release for the actually graphic novel for the Meatlocker will coincide with a opening of the show in 2009, I'll be sharing all sorts of Meatlocker related conceptual art and design as well as process talk about how we are making the book and the play.

That's about it for Monday (expect that I'm fed up with White Sox pitching)... had some bbq fun with my friends from the Right Brain Project...and go see Metaluna.