Archive for the 'Journalism' Category

May 04 2009

Writers are dispensable; readers are not

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

If you’re looking to get a novel published, I think that understanding the Boston Globe’s difficulties will help you.

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Mar 06 2009

The NYT starts compiling graphic novel sales

The New York Times has started compiling weekly best-seller lists for graphic novels (err, “graphic books”) in hardcover, paperback and manga.  (Hat-tip to the Comics Reporter). The NYT argues that “comics have finally entered the mainstream.”  Possibly.

1.  I agree that superhero stories are mainstream.  Many superhero movies and TV shows have been broadly successful.

2.  But comic books and graphic novels are not mainstream.  Primarily, that’s because they’re sold mostly in specialty stores rather than general-interest stores like supermarkets and newsstands.  These specialty stores usually strike me as kind of creepy and may well scare away low-interest fans.  Moving back into supermarkets probably isn’t feasible for the typical comic book series, but it encourages me that comic books are increasingly sold online.

[B. Mac adds: Is the endorsement of the NYT a good thing for comics?  The NYT has a soft spot for businesses that are not actually economically viable, such as solar power, US car companies, and itself.]

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Dec 06 2008

Funny Russian Headlines

Published by under Comedy,Journalism,News

Pravda:  “Condoleeza Rice Decides to Destroy Europe.”  I might have missed that article in the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian.

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Jul 29 2008

Get Me Rewrite!

Published by under Comedy,Journalism

The New York Times wrote an article on women bloggers titled Blogging’s Glass Ceiling, which they put in the “Fashion and Style” section.  Comedically speaking, I don’t think there’s anything I can add to that.

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Mar 03 2008

She did WHAT to a kitten?

Published by under Comedy,Journalism,News

I saw this note in the Washington Post:

California’s North County Times has fired an editor with a warped sense of humor. As a joke, the unnamed editor mucked with a wire-service account of a news conference on pet spaying at which a Los Angeles City Council member ‘held a kitten,’ changing the verb to ‘strangled.’ The paper apologized for the ‘terrible mistake.’ ” Whoops!

In addition to writing articles, I work as one of my newspaper’s wire editors. Although I can’t recall any “strangled a kitten” moments, we do frequently put typos in our headlines. In the average edition of our paper, a wire editor only types 75-100 words. Though I don’t recall committing a headline typo, my event articles are usually riddled with poor writing. (Event articles are written the night the event happens, so there’s less time for me to think through my outline).

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Feb 20 2008

DOD reports satellite hit

The Defense Department reports that the US Navy successfully hit a dying US satellite with a missile.  I’m, uhh, not thrilled that we’re spending (sixty million) tax dollars to shoot down our own satellites, but at least we didn’t miss.  Heh.

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Jan 28 2008

Deadline! Deadline!

Published by under Journalism

The lede for my article today is “Notre Dame has many Resident Assistants, but very few that can make a defensive tackle cry.”  (Our dorm pet was, for some reason, listed in the directory as an RA.  Unfortunately, he recently passed away and I’m writing an article on him).

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Jan 03 2008

Texan Headline of the Day

Dallas Police, Officials Discourage Random Gunfire.”

Uhh… what were the Dallas police doing before?

On a side-note, I think the Dallas police will find that it’s easier to cut murders by reducing targeted gunfire.

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Jan 02 2008

McCain’s son graduated from WHERE?

 A Time article had the following correction. 

An article on Thursday about John McCain’s relationship with his children misstated, in some editions, the site of a graduation ceremony for Mr. McCain’s son Jimmy, which was attended by several siblings. Jimmy McCain graduated from Marine boot camp; there is no Marine Academy.

“There is no Marine Academy.” Yeah, Time. Any college football fan could tell you Marines play for the Naval Academy, one of an elite group of nine teams that beat Notre Dame this year.


I’ll chalk this up to a crucial misalignment of football fans, rather than a “I-hope-someone-at-Time-knows-military-stuff.”


And, just in case anyone at Time’s Human Resources Department is reading (wink wink), I know the difference between Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada and a Hawaiian death-threat.

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Nov 12 2007

Quote of the Day: Monday

Agent Orange: “If journalism is really the first draft of history, we need some keen editors.”

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Oct 24 2007

Pun Explanations

Hello.  A few of my readers asked me about the chapter titles.  Did I mean ____ as a pun on ____? The answer is probably yes.  I’ll go through a few…

Gotta Kill ‘Em All! is a dark play on Pokemon’s slogan, “Gotta Catch ‘Em All.”  The popular children’s cartoon series, Hegemon, plays a prominent role in this chapter.  A related pun…  in politics, a hegemon is a completely dominant nation.  Since the end of the Cold War, “the hegemon” has always referred to the United States.  After all, what story about superheroes could be complete without a superpower?

How Many F’s are there in Katastrofy? (Win a Pulitzer in 20 Minutes a Day!) is a play on the latest Superman movie, where a supposedly Pulitzer-calibre journalist (Lois Lane) wonders how many F’s are in “catastrophe.”  Katastrophy is the name of the Hegemon that’s clearly based on Mewtwo (he’s in the header).  For reasons that I will hopefully be able to reveal by the end of 2007, the real-world incarnation of said character decides to go by “Catastrophe” because you’d have to be a complete idiot to spell it “Katastrofy.”

National Catastrophe is a phrase.  In a book that already has a character named Catastrophe and Nation in the title, how could I resist?

Dr.  Berkeley’s name is actually a reference to George Berkeley, an 18th century philosopher who claimed that anything we perceive is necessarily real.  (Mirages and The Matrix are both perceivable things that probably aren’t real).  The more obvious Berkeley association features a certain university in California, but that wasn’t my main objective.

What Do We Do About Berkeley? This time the reference actually IS to the university.  Governor Ronald Reagan (R-CA) had been advised by his gubernatorial staff not to hit on the counterculture of UC-Berkeley.  Reagan responded: “Look, I don’t care if I’m [campaigning] in the mountains, the desert, the biggest cities of this state, the first question [I get is]: ‘What are you going to do about Berkeley?’ And each time the question itself would get applause.”  I amended the phrase to “What do we do…”  rather than “What are you going to do…”  because the title is already a bit long.

Forget Who’s Watching the Watch-Man…  Don’t Leave Yourself Alone with Him is a play on the phrase “but who watches the watchman,” and of course the comic book series The Watchmen, but most prominently Syler from Heroes.  You definitely wouldn’t want to find yourself alone with THAT watch-man.

The Empire State Strikes Back is an obvious play on Star Wars…  not too tricky.

Gods and Supermen at Yale is a reference to God and Man at Yale, conservative William Buckley’s seminal work on the relationship between faith and scholarship.  In the context of Superhero Nation, the “Gods” are researchers…  well, I shouldn’t spoil a chapter I haven’t written, right?

The Crisis of Infinite OSIs is a play on DC Comic’s seminal series, The Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Really, really devoted students of US government might know there is a separate Office of Special Investigations within the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Air Force, and the legislative Government Accountability Office.

It Takes a Child to Raze a Village  the original is liberal Hillary Clinton’s quote, “it takes a village to raise a child.”  I can’t say any more without hopelessly spoiling the chapter.  Suffice it to say that I hope you won’t miss Greenwich.  (Heh.  A red herring, I assure you).

The First Draft of History is a reference to the quote that “journalism is the first draft of history.” 

Hegemonic Instability Theory.  Maybe you’ve heard of “hegemonic stability theory,” the theory that particularly strong nations contribute to world peace.  Well, mental instability appears to be more relevant to the plot (and creation) of this novel, so I thought that was more appropriate.   It’s also a play on the Hegemon angle, if you’ve been paying attention.   (Additionally, Orson Scott Card wrote a book called “Shadow of the Hegemon,” which  I might turn into something like “Shadowing the Hegemon”)

The Last Oorah.  Oorah” is a Marine concept…  hell, a way of life! Its origin probably derives from “heard, understood and acknowledged” (HUA), a general expression of enthusiasm (ahem…  anything and everything but no“).  At one point, I had the chapter called The Last Huah because I wasn’t sure whether the character that dies is a Marine or an [Army] soldier.

The pun is that there’s a novel called The Last Hurrah, which is also a stage in Star Fox 64.  (Wow, I am such a nerd).

A few of the chapters (Agents of Change, Agents of Destruction, etc.) play on the double meaning of “agent” as a federal employee (IRS agent, OSI agent) and a causative factor.  The Free Agent plays on a sports-term for someone who currently has no employer.

Yep, that’s most of it.  I should add– well, it should be obvious that– a title that has to be explained is probably not working.  So hopefully titles like A Free Agent or What Are We Going to do about Berkeley? work even if the reader isn’t familiar with the inside joke.  If they don’t, then the author has needlessly alienated a lot of his readers.  I think the titles would be effective even if the reader didn’t know.

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