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<<First Name>>, The latest in webcomic fashion, a look at how the sausage is made, and Jay and Dav talk about facing depression as creators and how they try to keep the darkness at bay.
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Hello once more from the heart of Our Lady of Grace.

Above is a picture of an exclusive offering for the Conceptual Heist Kickstarter, no you can’t buy Matt ladies, but you can buy a great shirt designed by Matt. 

One of the offerings for our Patreon is an exclusive series of “Movie Posters” they are reimaginings of classic film posters with the Conceptual Heist characters. We plan to offer a few at cons as prints, but only through our Kickstarter will you be able to pick up STAR HEIST, with what is known as the reverse Frazetta pose between Noble and Jemma. Star wars is an important influence, although not necessarily with Conceptual heist unless you count the fact that both stories revolve around space stations. We currently have a list of about fifteen posters we’ll be doing and have on offer as wall papers. If you can think of any cool posters let us know.

Speaking of Conceptual Heist, something I’ve been meaning to address for everyone is the unique problems that I face when writing the strip. This weekend I finally got the chance to read all of chapter 1 in one long for as Matt is finishing off the PDF and getting the pages ready for our colourist so work on the colours will be ready as soon as the Kickstarter is funded. It was very cool to read it as one single book, right now the reading experience on line is slightly broken as a major fight sequence has interruptions between each panels as it was during one of our slow down periods, reading everything as pages was a very unique experience as this series is a master class in the focal nature of comic book writing.

Now everyone knows this is a longer story but as of this point you, and I, read the series panel by panel, strip by strip. When you write you are almost always working backward to forwards, you start with a major over arcing story, then you divide up and work the beats of the story to chapters, and then you work your way back to the whole of the story sentence by sentence. You don’t necessarily think of it that way, but this is how the whole of a story is most often created. Sentences make paragraphs, paragraphs make chapters, chapters make stories.

Conceptual Heist is a focused version of that layout. I have a rough idea of what is going to happen for the over all series, and book 1 has an out line, even if that outline has the note “Funky stuff happens here” near the end of it. However when I’m writing the strips I am constantly working on three strata: 1) Does the strip function solo? 2) Does this work for the page? 3) Does this work for the chapter? 4) Does this work for the story?

Each strip I write has me juggling these three balls, sometimes I will drop #1 in favour of making sure the other balls are kept in the air. Once of the things about the comic is that I’ve been adding a bit more humour to it. I’ve done this to help keep the single panels enjoyable in the mindset of keeping the whole story running. But I’m also calculating if it is the first second or third strip on a page, if it’s the third do I have to switch focus on the next page, change scenes? How does that page fit within the whole chapter? And am I staying too long in a situation? Can I get to the point faster without losing the story thread? Am I addressing something at is important to the overarching plot of the series? There’s been a lot of little nods to things that will come up in later chapters and it’s important not to get let that be left of the cutting floor as there is a much more expansive story to be told.

So yeah I’ve been kind of focused on how the layers of this story are working out these days. But the kickstarter will have an offer where you can get behind the scene commentary for Chapters 1 & 2 of Conceptual Heist as I talk about what I was trying to do in each panel of the comic.



My reading has slowed up some as of late, but I still have some recommendations.

Comics:

Salgood Sam on Taptastic: You would be hard put to find a more skilled penciler in comics these days than Salgood Sam. As Scott McCloud has said: “Always liked Salgood Sam's compositions. Always a bit delirious.” And you’d hard put to find someone who knows comics better than McCloud. A veteran with skills that have often gone unnoticed, Salgood’s work is well worth checking out:
https://tapastic.com/salgoodsam
 
Podcasts:

Clarkesworld: Honestly they are the premire short fiction publishers in science and speculative fiction. Their podcast where their short stories are read by the skilled Kate Baker who does lovely renditions of each tale. The stories range between 15 minutes to almost 2 hours in rare cases. Go check them out here:
http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/

Comics Manifest: The upbeat host Aaron Williams gives us 2-3 interviews every week with some of the best talents in the comic world. He runs off of a standard set of questions coupled with questions that are customized for each creator. Aaron gets some great answers, but not only that he’ll get you thinking about your own creative journey whether you are a part of the comics world or not. Some interviews can be downers, or make a career in comics seem like madness, but he reminds listeners that if comics are your passion there is little point in doing something else in your life. Give Aaron a listen to here:
http://comicsmanifest.com/

Story Grid Podcast: Each week Shawn Coyne and Tim Ghral make their way through Tim’s first novel (now second attempt after abandoning the fist completely). It’s a close look at what it is like learning to write a novel. It sounds easy at times as Tim has Shawn guiding him along the way, but most of us don’t have a guide to help us along. The whole point is to help the listener become a better writer: You can jump in here:
http://www.storygrid.com/

Escape Pod: The other high bar for science fiction. These stories are well curated although the narrators can sometimes be a hit or miss. If it’s a miss you can skip it, but when they have a hit you don’t want to miss it. Most of the episodes are around 30 minutes in length. Follow along here:
http://escapepod.org/

TV:

24 Legacy: I try not to do negative reviews here too often as I’d rather raise up than tear down, but I’m going to have to speak out about this: A week after the terrorist action in Quebec with the killing of six Muslim men, Fox proceeds to air a TV series that seems to justify the action perpetrating the completely unfounded and unjustified fear of Refugees and Muslims. This is nothing but propaganda against Muslims and justifies hate. Turn it off and tell Fox why you’re turning it off. They should be ashamed of themselves. Trump is terrible, but shows like this make his fearmongering easier to sell.

Movies:

Ghostbusters: The highly disputed reimagining of the classic films was much better than I anticipated. I don’t think it reached the heights of the original film but it was fun, funny and inventive. I think the weakness in the movie is a symptom of it being a modern film where studios are more concerned with maintaining the spectacle over ensuring the story works. This movie does offer something the originals didn’t as it works as a treatise of friendship and loyalty. I’d say it is well worth watching, and a must watch if you have young girls in you life as they deserve to see it to know they can be heroes too.


That's all for this transmission.

Be well and take care.

-Jay D'Ici
 
 

Hello from the nation’s capital of Ottawa.
 
It has been a long first week apart from Jessie. I am slowly getting the machine and band back together again as both myself and Phil work together on some future projects. Deadshack’s first cut is ready to watch and I’m looking forward to drinking a beer and watching it with my business partner and friend.
 
All of this is really exciting and should everything go according to plan we will have some very epic news in the weeks to come. Right now though I have to be a little secretive and keep quiet on it. All I’ll say is that Deadshack isn’t the last film we will be writing.
 
 “Brother Abe” my series of articles on taking care of Abe and living with Jessie have been getting quite a few views and shares, please visit my Medium and feel free to post, share and like. The more views I get the easier it is for me to secure funding for future writing projects.

https://medium.com/@davilaleblanc
 
It was cool to hangout with JayD’Ici in Montreal when I got back to Canada and while 2017 has started heavy I get the impression things are going to lighten up, sooner rather than later.
 



 
WWE2k17: I am currently playing this on my PS4 and I have to say that the game does an incredible job of simulating the WWE experience. Not the best wrestling game ever made but definitely on that list.
 
The Ballroom Thieves: I was introduced to this lovely trio while in Maine on Jessie’s and I’s last date night. Their music is lovely and so emotional. We picked up both their albums. They are an indie group but I highly recommend that you give them a listen. You won’t regret it. 
 
Proletter “Curses from past times EP”: This little happy music is fun to listen to and great hybrid of old music and new. A worthwhile listen.
 
Until next time.
In love, light and laughter.
Be well
 
DaV
 
Find me @: www.davilathewhite.com

Find Syndicate’s Pawns @
Harper Collins:
https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062464323/syndicates-pawns
Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Syndicates-Pawns-Tale-Jinxed-Thirteenth-ebook/dp/B016I3AOOY#navbar
 
And find Dark Transmissions @
Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Transmissions-Tale-Jinxed-Thirteenth-ebook/dp/B015WXSN26
Harper Collins:
https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062464293/dark-transmissions
 

JAY: So, it's the deepest dark of winter and we definitely don't get enough sunlight and energy these days. And as writer facing hordes of rejection letters, how do you keep running despite the emotional sinking feeling we are bound to face?
 
DAV: Well I once said that we create art as way to channel and express the pain we have inside. I have personally be battling with depression most of my adult life. I don't mean I'm a little bummed out and don't want to do anything, rather I'm talking about soul-renching sadness that is so deep, sometimes you really do wish you were dead.
This creeping darkness is paralyzing and often I can find it really difficult just motivating myself into writing anything really.
But to answer your question Jay. You do it because you don't really have any other responsible choice. If you are creative in any way, it's your job to inspire and create. The world will not stop for you and there are so many who have that flame of creativity snuffed out.
And if I were to go on with the analogy of fire I would have to say that the flame of creativity is a small one, that the winds of doubt, sadness and depression are what will blow it out and lead to inaction.
Stories need to be told, art needs to be made. I can attest personally to the crippling effects of depression and really the only solution I have found works for me is force of will. Never to give up even when you want to.
 
JAY: It's rough to get through when you have so many other things that need seeing to. Even though I'm a full time writer, between self promotion, preparing for the kickstarter, various "life getting in the way" things I've had very little writing time the past month and it's been bothering me. My goal this year is to start reaching 5000 words a day, and I think I managed to hit 5000 this past month. And the more productive I am the better I feel about things.
I remember Harlan Ellison talking about recurring nightmares friends of his had, its a dream many actors have too apparently. In the middle of the night people come to your door and tell you that you life isn't yours, you got that life by mistake, it belongs to the guy down the street.
Most of them are resigned to this because they forget that this is work, and it is hard work. Yeah, on of the earliest things we're asked to do in school is to make up and write our own stories, but then the focus moves away from that. Creative writing has forever been viewed as frivolous, and kids stuff, for a long time being a writer was "Women's work" even reading novels was "For women". But at the same time Men have always been the major writers for the most part, and they have been major readers as well. But the truth is that it hard it requires a great deal of time and study and research. and not oh what do I do here, but research in that you generate vast amounts of internal instinctive knowledge so that when you hit the "What do I need to know here" points of a book, you don't lean into your reference library, you know it already to keep your momentum going. It's foot pound, and hours of hard study going into each page.
And the other end of it, when I've been reading lots of novels of a diverse picking I find I can keep my depression at bay. It help supply us with tools.
 
DAV: I've been having an easier time of things since I brought video games back into my life. It is really fun to unplug and play stuff and not have to think about thousands of creative projects.
I think the main thing is finding sources of input to silence the little dark voices in our head.
What I find is amazing is how many people get uplifted by the work of artists who were probably incredibly depressed while making the art.
An odd sort of warped humour to it.
And I've often found that it is in the world of creation that the creator has the most control. After all we spend so much of our lives doing what we are told to do. And when we take a look at the world around us it can really be overwhelming. But in the world of the canvas that we use to create whatever it is we wish to create we can exercise an incredible amount of control over the outcome of events.
We can speak out against what bothers us. We can express the inner anguish that we are all silently feeling.
In fact I would probably say that an artist is someone who doesn't suffer in silence. And who has the courage to share their inner anguish with everyone to see.
Because ultimately while we are facing these dark nights of the soul we often find ourselves feeling all alone and isolated in our separate towers. And by sharing we can realize that we all suffer together and that the anguish isn't something that has to be burdened alone.
 
JAY: There is a balance that needs to be maintained either way though. I've found a few people over the years who are focused on the idea of the suffering artist. Thinking that it was more about keeping up the angst over getting the work done. If you have something to work out and the writing helps great. Finding a way to step away from your own mind, excellent. But you can get lost there too. Keeping a work life balance is so important. Knowing that you need to step away from things, even stepping away from the work, or stepping away from hobbies. Even stepping away from the sorrow, instead of looking at what is weighing us down look at what lifts us up. We work in the dirt and the much, but we do so to enable our chance to soar.
It's easy to get lost looking for meaning and worth. And we often forget to look at ourselves.
I also find it interesting to look and see what themes we explore on a regular basis. So much of my work is based on the idea of home, going home, finding home, etc. I
 
DAV: I've found that the hardest thing to do is something for yourself.
And often many of my stories are about people finding themselves across vast distances.
 
JAY: I've never been big when it comes to medicinal solutions for depression, not that I'm against it for others but for me, my mind has always been my weapon of choice if I can't keep it sharp enough to slay my dragons how will I be able to expect others to rely on it in their time of need.
 
DAV: Well it always depends on the medicine of course. But I'd say that in general the problem with anti-depressants is that they don't help you face your problems, they just mute them.
Art forces you to face them head on. Because you are expressing them.
I mean I could go on a tangent about psychedelics like shrooms and LSD, and how they were really helpful in showing me how to best my personal demons, but that is a loaded topic. I really do believe that the ultimate cure to sadness is creation.
 
JAY: The danger would be using your art to hide or justify things. But yeah, realizing I write about finding home helped me focus on building a home. And now with my family I have my own home of my own creation. It's helped me deal with my demons.
 
DAV: Ha it feels that writing has been our therapeutic muse.
 
JAY: Very much. It was pointed out a few years ago that you should try to focus on what you love. Let that light guide you.
 
 

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