Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wednesday Wrap-Up - 8/16/17

What happened this week?  I haven't posted anything since last Wednesday Wrap-Up!  I haven't made any headway into the Umbra vs. Doc Terror battle because watching a season of the Mighty Orbots is such a chore!  I just don't like the show because it feels like a subpar combination of Inspector Gadget and Voltron.  Umbra basically is a second rate Dr Claw, commanding an ever-rotating cast of minions with a deep grumbly voice.  The only good thing I remember from the show is the fantastically animated intro.  Maybe I should just start with Centurions, since I actually liked that show.

I've been working on the second draft of book 2, making slow progress.  There's so much to be changed that I'm basically rewriting the entire thing, so it's helping keep my interest.  I got some more feedback on one of my favorite sections in the first book too and I want to share it soon.  Have I ever introduced the main character, Manny?  I know I've mentioned him before, but I don't think I've really given him a proper introduction.  I think I've got to write up a good post to show you who he is very soon.

There's no other real news now, but I feel like talking a little bit about my inspiration as I'm writing this story.  When my finisher group was giving me feedback for OSE 1, Russell, the only member of the group familiar with the cartoons mentioned in the book, asked if I'd read Ready Player One.

He compared my story very closely with Ernest Cline's book, specifically with the reverence to retro pop culture.  "Of course, I've read it!" I replied.  Honestly, I was a little disappointed in it - I felt it referenced every bit of 80s pop culture except the cartoons!  So I feel Old School Evil's filling that hole!

Surprisingly though, I didn't read it until after I wrote the first few drafts of Old School Evil.  It wasn't an inspiration to write the book, but seeing all the references and respect he showed for D&D and arcade games did show me a change I needed to make in my book.  Originally, Old School Evil had a lot of indirect references to cartoons and toys - I was worried that naming the shows would alienate readers that weren't intimately familiar with it.  But seeing all the namedropping in Ready Player One, I decided to do the same with my book and hoping nostalgia works its magic with Old School Evil too.

Another inspiration for me, one I read before writing Old School Evil, was This Book is Full of Spider: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It, by David Wong. 

I absolutely loved the movie based on his first book, John Dies at the End, so I absolutely had to pick up the second book.  John and Dave, the two slacker/stoner/reluctant heroes had some hilarious adventures, but it was their voice that really inspired me and shaped the way Manny and his friends talk and behave.  There's so much sarcasm and dark humor in his stories, but I think this one is the very best of them, and a ton of fun.

Both of these books are great reads though, and are some of my favorite reads.  Without these books, I'm not sure Old School Evil would exist, or it would feature a boring character making a ton of half-formed references about "cartoons with robots" and nameless action figures.  If you're interested in reading either of them, click their pictures above and check them out!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wednesday Wrap-up - 8/9/17

I hope I'm not coming off as too conceited, but I met with my finisher group on Monday and the three other members loved Old School Evil!  There were some flaws of course, that's to be expected with everything, but I got so many compliments on the story, the petting, the characters, the idea, that I was blushing through the whole thing.  Wow, I totally am coming off as conceited, aren't I?  Truth be told, I was told the book was good but it still needs a lot of work, mainly with the characters and their motivations and jumps in logic.  I meet with my other group tomorrow where they'll go over one of my newer chapters, one that comes with a big revelation for the main character, Manny.  Once I get that feedback, it's back into it for another few drafts.

I've been fighting this decision for a while now, but I think it's time to face facts - I need an editor.  I've told myself for a while now that instead of hiring someone to do a line edit, I can take care of it myself with a few out loud readings, but I don't think it will really cut it.  I had read somewhere about letting the computer do it with a text-to-speech program, but even that isn't foolproof.  With how much it costs to do it though, I need to wait for my tax return, so hopefully I'll have it ready to publish by the middle of February.  Why?  Because it's my birthday on the 15th so it's an easy deadline to see.

Since the time to publish has been moved out so far, I've been rethinking my cover.  I was originally planning to do one that's 3D-modeled, with the implements of the main villains and their Legacies.  I've got two of them modeled already, but still need to do some refinement and, of course, texture mapping.  I changed my plans when I started thinking of publishing sooner - I have no idea how to do mapping in Blender and that would take a while to learn.  Instead, I would make a cover out of the title image; the blueprint background, the robotic designs, the typewriter text.  I'd need to redo some of the images to get them higher resolution , and I'd update the various images on the blog at the same time.  I mean look at the Wrap-Up image above, you can barely pick out any of the detail on HammerSlammer.  So I think I can use this as the cover of the first book, and maybe the 3D-model stuff can be the cover of the second book.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

My Megatron Collection

With Megatron winning last week's Bad Guy Beatdown, I figured it might be time to show off my Megatron collection with it's two newest additions. 

Left is a new Kre-o Battle Changer and right is The Last Knight Legends figure.  I thought the Kre-o line was cancelled, but an eagle-eyed shopper spotted this new pack at Dollar General, and a few of us have spent a lot of time tracking them down.  On a side note, the C-clamps on the set stink and I already broke the one that holds the gun on in tank mode.  Boo.  Anyway, onto the rest of the collection!

I am a huge fan of Megatron (it was really hard not to let that sway his battle), and have been collecting his figures all the way back to Beast Wars.  The oldest figure I've owned continuously is Beast Wars Transmetal II Megatron, and he's one of my favorites - Action Master Megatron is the oldest one I own now, though I only bought it a few years ago off eBay (I have the tank too, but it won't fit on the shelf with everything else). I've broken down my collection by shelf.

Top shelf is mainly movie figures and the Unicron Trilogy characters.  Probably my least favorite characters, but the toys are pretty awesome.  And yes, I know that's Cybertron Galvatron and not Megatron, but I like the colors better, so I'll give it a pass.  There's also ChoroQ Megatron, but I honestly don't even know where he's supposed to fit.  WfC belongs on the bottom shelf, there just isn't any room.  The bottom shelf is my favorite Megatron characters: Beast Wars, Animated, and Prime.  You'll notice the presence of Robot Heroes figures there, but none are on the top shelf.  I have all of the movie Robot Heroes Megatrons, but i'm planning on getting rid of them and only keeping the G1 and BW figures because they actually look good.  The Transmetal figure's in beast mode because of GPS - Gold Plastic Syndrome, which made certain gold or gold-speckled pieces really brittle.  One of his arms broke off when I transformed him once for my Megatrons Anonymous comic and after super-gluing it back on, I've left him in beast mode.

That leaves the middle shelf.  This is really my pride and joy - the real history of Megatron.

The OG Megatron is actually a re-release from decades ago, and I only just took him out of the package within the last few years.  The stand he's set up on is from one of the Titanium figures.  I haven't even applied the stickers.  I've got Action Master and G2 Megatron in there - what a difference of size between the two figures!  I found G2 at toy show a few years ago, and even though the electronics still work - "Megatron Attack!" - all of its accessories are missing.  I've got two awesome statues and a number of other non-transforming figures, including Revoltech Megatron.  The cannon broke off one time when setting up a picture for the comic and it's been taped on lazily since then.  I really need to try some glue instead.

I am so insanely proud of my Megatron collection and it's taken a lot of time, money, and effort to track them all down.  Besides the older figures I have, some of my more prized pieces are Alternity (I have the black and red but would have preferred the more faithful silver one), Megabolt Megatron from Beast Machines/RiD, and a broken Armada Happy Meal toy.  There are only a few I don't have that I'd love to get down the line - Sega Megadrive, maybe a Kid Logic figure, a model kit (I've got the metal one but haven't assembled it yet), and even though it looks like crap, I should get the War Within Titanium figure some day.  And of course, that phenominal new Masterpiece figure.  Oh yeah, a better case to display them in too!

Oh, I forgot one!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Top 5 Transformers Cartoons

Last week, I wrote about my top 5 80s cartoon reboots and said "I could have easily made this about the top Transformers reboots because there have been over a dozen iterations of the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons."  It's true!  There are a metric ton of Transformers cartoons and they all run the gamut from fantastic to eyeball-stabbingly terrible. 

And now we're getting a new one - Transformers: Cyberverse!  This show promises to take us back through the Transformers's entire history, doing cartoons inspired from every show produced, even Generation 1.

So I think it's high time I go through every iteration of the Transformers and pick my all time 5 favorite series.

5. Beast Machines
Beast Machines did something new for Transformers and in some aspects it worked.  It turned the act of transforming from something Cybertronions took for granted into a meaningful event.  They had to learn to transform all over again, something that took a lot of concentrations and sometimes lead to failure.  I know it was too big of a change for some people - they thought the animation of it, with the model just kinda morphing into the other model, and the new cheesy motto "I am transformed" being a little too much for people to accept.  But what it did with the characters, notably Rhinox, was something unexpected and honestly, refreshing.

4. Transformers: Prime
Prime started out great - awesome animation with fantastic models, Frank Welker finally back as Megatron, and a rounded out cast of interesting Autobots and Decepticons.  The kids were probably the best human characters since Generation 1 (I fall in the small camp that actually likes Miko), and we had Ernie Hudson doing a spot on job as Agent Fowler, probably the coolest human in any Transformers fiction. The show had a ton of promise, but went off the rails a bit in the last season, dropping interesting threads and killing off awesome characters for no good reason.  Overall, I'd say this show didn't stand above the rest story-wise, but this is probably the most well-produced series so far.

3. Generation 1

I'm sure this is controversial, not putting G1 on the top of the list, but as much as I loved it as a kid and can still watch it today, it's got some serious flaws that I cannot overlook.  I mean, it was written just like any other 80s cartoon, where plots were spit out by various teams with out any consistency.  Animation studios didn't care how the final product looked.  But even with those problems, the original series is endearing as hell and so many great shows have followed in its wake, it's impossible to not still love this show thirty-some years later.  It holds up to this day as a monumentally fun watch, and definitely one I plan on sharing with my kids as well.

2. Transformers: Animated
Do I really need to go into this again?  Yeah, because there's a lot I didn't cover in the last list.  I talked about how different it was from the original show, but I didn't really talk about what made this show so awesome on its own.  First, the voice cast is excellent.  David Kaye, who voiced MEgatron in about 5 different Transformers series, took a turn as a young Optimus Prime and did an outstanding job at it.  Corey Burton, originally Shockwave in the G1 cartoon, upgraded to Megatron, giving him such an evil voice, especially with the Decepticon's new war cry - "Transform and Rise Up!"  I think it also has one of the absolute worst deaths in the show - truly heartbreaking with how brutal and heartless it was.

Before I go into number 1, I want to give an honorable mention to Rescue Bots. 
When I first heard about this show being for the younger kids, I wrote it off as a bunch of sappy nonsense.  But once my son was born, I decided to try it out and found it was a very fun show.  I never thought a show could do so well without the Decepticons ever showing up.  The cast of characters - human and Autobot are interesting and the techno-savvy town is a great backdrop to their learning adventures.  The fact that this show crosses over often with Transformers: Prime, and a character from it has joined the cast of Prime's spin-off, Robots in Disguise is such an awesome touch.  The show's end came pretty abruptly, but there's a new cartoon, Rescue Bots Academy taking it's place with new characters that I can't wait to introduce my boy to.

1. Beast Wars
Beast Wars takes place in the far-flung future of the Autobots and Decepticons, after the end of the Great War.  Maximals and Predacons have become the new Cybertronians, and peace has ruled for hundreds of years.  During an exploratory trip, Optimus Primal's ship is shot down and crashes on an alien world.  Megatron follows them down onto the planet, covered with unstable energon.  They take on beast modes to protect them from the radiation and a new war begins.  Everyone thought this show was a new beginning for the Transformers, their leaders in new bodies and commanding all different troops.  But come the second season finale, when this new Megatron finds the Ark filled with offline Autobots and Decepticons, you realize this is somehow past, present, and future of the original show.  It was a stunning reveal.  Sparks, the life force of the Transformers and their version of a soul, started here and have become a staple of Transformers lore from here on out.  It's had a long lasting effect on Transformers and is widely considered the very best Transformers has had to offer in its long history.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Wednesday Wrap-up - 8/2/17

August already?

First off, something funny.  I got another rejection yesterday.  I can't remember the agent's name, but I had sent a query to him so long ago that Query Tracker had closed it automatically two weeks ago.  Here's an example of why I've decided to self-publish.  Having moved to electronic queries, the response time was supposed to have been much quicker, yet I'm still only getting responses five months later.  And for it to only be one of those "I'm not the right fit" form replies is just disappointing.  Oh, well, glad I'm not worrying about this now.

I've still be writing almost every day now, which feels great.  It's not a lot each time - I'd definitely lose NaNo with this meager output - but it's way better than what I was doing at the beginning of this year.  Don't ask me how soon I'd be able to finish this draft, but I know someday it'll be completed.

I think I've said this before, but one thing I want to do before I can finish the first book is build up some supplemental stuff.  I'm talking about the Production Bibles for the main cartoons represented in the book, namely Hurricanines, Defenders of Dino City, Ultra City Ultra Twins since the main characters are from those.  I'm planning to do a few other shows for characters that show up a few times in the cartoon as well, so there will be six production bibles in total.  These are all written but, need a look over to make sure they're ready to share.  The one problem I've got is the logos and titles. 

You've got such great logos and title screens here with some great effects on them.  I need to take a lot of my own logos, some of which I haven't even come up with, that feel like they fit in with these.  I've only gotten one I consider completed (Huricanines as seen below).
I still need to come up with a title for it.  For the logos I had first made, I took fonts I found for free online and just plugged it in.  If you look at those title screens above, only a few of them look like they just took a regular font and modified it a bit.  Hopefully, I can create some title screens that really fit with their logos and look completely original.

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 4 is out and I am pretty proud of how it turned out.  Almost everyone on Facebook agreed that Megatron was going to stomp Miles, so to keep the battle relatively even between the two combatants was important to me.  Miles was always destined to lose, I think, but there's no way he'd go down without hurting Megatron.  Next round is coming up, but may be delayed a week because of how much I need to watch.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to watch a bunch and keep on track to post the respect thread next Monday for Round 5 - Doc Terror from Centurions vs. Umbra from the Mighty Orbots.