Ambidextrous - Volume Uno

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Forget it. I don’t want to do this.

Brandon Thomas, dedicated SBC staff reviewer here, finding myself with a bit of a problem. After very politely asking editor-in-chief Jason Brice to bestow upon me my very own bi-weekly column, even going so far as to prepare mock press releases containing fabricated personal quotes that conveyed a slightly inflated perspective of my vast intelligence, I’ve come to a terrible realization. I actually have to write the damn thing.

Introductions are always the worst. I compare it to being onstage for two minutes and having to give your best performance with minimal preparation. The stage is yours and it’s all you can do to keep from falling flat on your face. Most people possess a limited attention span (myself included), which leaves you with the problem of quickly leaving your readers with something that’ll bring them back next week. A hook if you will.

You can choose to entertain/interest them, or you can always take the easy way out and piss them off. Though I’m probably a little more highly skilled at pissing people off than I’d care to admit, I think I’d settle for entertain/interest.

The only aspect of writing an intro. more aggravating than the brief period of spotlight is that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach, that conveniently appears every time you prepare to birth your next masterpiece. The nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you are about to sit down and write the biggest piece of crap you’ve ever signed your name to. This anxiety kicks the majority of writers in the ass so hard…that they never finish anything they wholeheartedly INTENDED to start some day. It’s terrible and I can only hope that one day it’ll go away.

Now that that’s over and done with….let’s get to business. I know what you want. You want to know what in the hell is Ambidextrous?? You want to know why in the hell should you care?? Net time is golden and you want justification as to why you wasted five minutes of your life reading this thing. Hopefully I won’t disappoint you.

This column will be a lot of things, because frankly, I get bored very quickly with the same old shit. If wired into some format or archaic formula, I’d spend the majority of my week dodging my editors’ persistent e-mails, kindly then violently inquiring why my latest column isn’t ready. I wouldn’t be able to sustain it…so I need to be flexible in my pursuits.

Some weeks I’ll mount the mighty soapbox and shoot off at the mouth about some random subject within the realm of comics that delighted or horrified me that week. I may talk about how Joe Quesada was one of the best things to happen to Marvel since bulk printing, or how I don’t quite understand why everyone loves to hate Wizard, Todd McFarlane, and Rob Liefeld. (Well, the Liefeld thing I can understand…never mind. Just kidding Rob!! ;) ) You may read rants about how no one reads the damn Black Panther, while it continues to kick the ass of 85 percent of the stuff on the stands. I may become annoyed at the habit of rabid fans dismissing projects four months before the shit even gets read. (Origin, the Marvel mature line, any book that’s released that disobeys the status quo for even a few months at a time…just to mention a few.) I’m even planning a story about how I liked the latest incarnation of Acclaim Comics. (Yes, you really read that…I liked Acclaim at one time.)

There will also be interviews here. (Assuming anyone returns my e-mail queries!!) I have a huge wishlist of potential victims, and my editor Jason Brice is at the top of the list. When I know definites, you’ll know definites.

Perhaps the most exciting and equally frightening aspect of Ambidextrous will be the behind-the-scenes workings of a young na´ve hopeful that foolishly believes his stories will entertain/interest countless recipients...and sometimes even piss them off. I need to be a writer. My head is filled with plot and dialogues that scroll in rapid-fire manner across my consciousness, threatening to drive me insane with regret and depression if not dispensed into a proper outlet. Whether it’s for cinema, television, or comics, wherever words are needed….I want to be present.

There is something about the comics medium attractive to any aspiring storyteller. Maybe it’s the flexibility that writing with only your imagination for a restriction affords. Incinerating an entire West Coast state may send a movie’s budget up another few million, but if necessary for a comic, all it takes is a few man hours. (I can see the faces of any artists out there while screaming, “What the %^!$ does he mean a few?”)
But you get my point.

Maybe it’s the relative speed at which your work can be digested by the public. With the use of any decent word processor, a script can be constructed and couriered at the speed of a modem connection to an editor across the country. Four months later the thing is on the stands, being dissected by a brutal, opinionated internet community. What writer wouldn’t appreciate that? Hell, in the time it takes most films to travel through the annals of post-production, a writer could have written ten issues, seen four released, and be waiting for his complimentary copies of the trade paperback in the mail. The faster your audience can tell you that you suck, the faster you can make the improvements to silence their complaining. Pen a God-awful screenplay and your name is equated to dog crap for nearly another year before you can get something better out…or you land the assignment to write Halloween 36 or some other such piece of bullshit. Write a bad issue and you’ve got a couple months before the fans are ready to burn you at the stake. But then…screenwriters do make a lot more money, and aren’t as subjectible to the whims of public opinion than someone like Paul Jenkins. (I can imagine the Hollywood screenwriter counting his money in his Beverly Hills loft with a sly grin on his face muttering, “And they said that Halloween 36 shit wouldn’t work out.”)

Still, notoriety and fame aside…I have to believe that most writers want something more. They want their names to mean something when strategically placed on their next book or project. When Mark Millar writes something, I have to imagine that he’s gained such a level of consumer confidence that 95% of his work means quality. That the comic fan won’t feel that he’s been bent over and taken for his money. This is the goal….too bad I don’t have the slightest clue how to get there.

This column will serve as a structured dumping ground for my lost pitches, concepts, and feeble attempts at rendering full scripts. There are drives and disks full of this stuff, and if I want to get better…I need to know if the stuff truly sucks or not. Fun part being that I’m going to invite fellow wannabes, hopefuls, prospectives, whatever you want to call them, to join the mass gathering. Periodically, I’ll issue challenges and may the most creative scribe win. There are no cash prizes of course, Silver Bullet refuses to pay me for this stuff, but you will receive bragging rights and your name printed in bold letters.

I can’t wait to expose others not within my little reading circle to ramblings gathered on slow shifts at work, and in the most unusual of places. I can’t wait to complete the sentence that seems to be hanging on the neck of superhero team books. You guys are coming quite close to my breakthrough and while it’s common knowledge that good ideas and good opinions are not entirely exclusive, and there are probably dozens of people that have considered this same thing…I am hearing approaching footsteps with every issue of Previews that is released.

It’s been on the tip of your tongue for awhile, but you haven’t realized it. The concept of superheroes as celebrities is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s modern works, and Bendis is even going to explore the idea of superhero groupies in his Powers book in a couple months. (One of my favorite writers by the by, proof that a name can equal quality on several levels.) The next step is obvious and if you lean in closely I’ll let you become an insider. Ready? Are you sure?? Last warning before jumping out of the pool. In a few weeks I bring you….publically-elected superheroes.

Some of you are spinning your wheels. Some of you are swearing because you thought of the same thing seven years ago. And some of you are saying, “So the $#[email protected] what!!??” Regardless of your response, I promise to try to bring you something you’ve never seen before…or something you have, but twisted in such a way that it’s unrecognizable.

That’s the point of Ambidextrous. To deliver the unexpected. To never give you tradition and recycled politically correct opinions run through a censor before read. To be insightful, opinionated, and stubborn. To be humorous whenever possible. To keep myself and you from getting bored. To give you a reason to leave an e-mail…even if it’s to inform me that I’ve pissed you off and you’ll never read anything with my name on it ever again. To write two stories at the same time with both hands (which would be really cool to do), and to have some fun in the process.

Whew. Now that the intro is done, I can get to the nitty-gritty. I’ll be back in two weeks, with something a little less personal.

I don’t know…I think that intro. went pretty well. Hitting stride and conquering anxiety feels good. Comments are to placed in the Silver Soapbox message board.

Brandon Thomas

Next time: Keep changing my mind…maybe something about comic movies….

Recommended Reads: Come in Alone by Warren Ellis. Provided me the balls to write this article. Halfway through and loving every minute of it. One of the comics industry’s true personalities and he says “Bastard” a lot.

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