Adventures In Freelancing: Picking Up What They’re Laying Down

It struck me recently that my last few Adventures In Freelancing columns have not only been infrequent, but also pretty negative. Taking The Good With The Bad was about my insecurities regarding expired contracts, Learning To Accept Workless Days is pretty self explanatory but also about how not working can result in some work and my wife told me that 5 Things I Miss About Working In An Office made her feel bad for me, though that wasn’t my intent. I plan on being positive with today’s post.

Anyone who pays attention to the self serving links I post in the semi-regular Casting Internets will notice that I’m still writing for Marvel.com and doing the occasional list for Topless Robot, but posts for UGO.com and Maxim.com have ceased to exist. Also, ToyFare, the magazine I had been writing a good chunk of ceased publication. That’s the way things work in the freelance biz. I sound pretty casual about such things now, but I was not happy when it happened (hence the almost three month gap between AIFs). I worried incessantly that I wasn’t helping out enough when it came to finances. I made peace with my wife making more money than me a long time ago when she was bringing in more green as a temp than I ever did in my various professions. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to help as much as possible. Hell, we had a kid on the way and don’t want to live in this condo forever. Was it finally time to ditch this crazy dream and get a job at the Post Office?

Thankfully that didn’t come to pass. As it turned out, some people I knew and some I didn’t know were going through some changes of their own. All that shifting created an opening at Comic Book Resources. They needed a writer and as it turned out, I am in fact a writer. It also helped that I’m good friends with one of the editors there. Never let it be said that who you know is not important. Almost all the gigs I have right now are thanks to friends and former colleagues, plus, I hope, some degree of talent on my part. Anyway, I wound up getting a pretty darn fun gig as the Image Comics contact. There were some growing pains as I got used to their style, but I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of things. Better yet I like the job itself because the people working on these books have a lot of enthusiasm and are doing really fun and interesting comics that I feel good telling the internet about.

In a weird reversal of fortune from a few months prior, I was contacted about a few more jobs. One I can’t really talk about yet because I’m not sure if it’s happening or how it will work. The other though is for the next evolution of ToyFare now known as Wizard World, a digital magazine. I started off doing some feature work for them, but now I’m essentially the freelance toy editor. It’s like working for ToyFare again, but without having to get on a train or drive 45 minutes every day.

I’ve talked to a few family members who own their businesses about the ups and downs that come with them. They all say that it’s important to remember that there will be another up during the downs, though it’s sometimes hard to remember. Of course, being the pessimist I am, I worried that all my contacts would dry up, my lack of gigs would look bad for potential future jobs and I would become a has-been in this fickle market. Hopefully next time things take a down swing I’ll remember this. We’ll see. Anyway, I’m going to enjoy this high point while it lasts and continue to work on my own projects on the side. Onwards and upwards!

Casting Internets

Nick Spencer was a peach and responded with super speed when I asked him to list his Five Favorite Avengers for Marvel.com.

I also talked with David Baxter about his upcoming Image book Marksmen for CBR.

USA Today got the official scoop that DC is revamping their universe. The part that makes me cringe the most is that they want to “reflect today’s real-world themes and events.” Blech. Real world comics are boring, guys.

I’m developing a strange fascination with abandoned amusement parks. This one of a Six Flags in New Orleans that closed before Katrina could be a little less art schooly, but it’s still kind of amazing. (via IHC)

Tom Bondurant’s latest Grumpy Old Fan discusses the importance of Robins in DC continuity, basically stating that Robin acts as a kind of mile marker for Batman, showing how old he is. I never thought of it like that.

Have you ever heard of old timey NYC hoarders the Collyer Brothers? I heard them mentioned on an episode of Puck Nuts or Tell Em Steve Dave and then spent a good deal of time reading their Wiki page. “Langley had been crawling through their newspaper tunnel to bring food to his paralyzed brother when one of his own booby traps fell down and crushed him.” WHAT?!

This Wired piece about football players reacting negatively to the new safety standards for the game really got me thinking. If the people that a rule is supposed to protect think the rule is ridiculous, what is the point of said rule? Can’t the players’ union take a vote on whether they think these things are necessary with the implication that a vote against the new rules will also translate into a clause that says said players can’t sue if they do get injured? I know people look down on football players, but is treating them like ignorant children who don’t know what’s good for them really the way to go? Maybe it’s time for the XFL to make a comeback.

Over on Rolling Stone, Jay-Z writes about song writing. Fun stuff.

I read Rolling Stone so I don’t have to keep up with various Twitter accounts. Tiring that. Anyway, I’m glad to hear that Green Day is working on new songs.

Brian Hibbs’ latest Tilting At Windmills is filled with comic book math that makes a lot of sense to me. Yet, companies still tend to disregard the things he brings up, so who knows what’s really going on?
I absolutely love Zach Bellissimo’s Vincent Price piece. I would like it on my wall in the future. (via The Autumn Society)

Record Review: Matt and Kim’s Sidewalks

A lot can be said about enthusiasm. That’s what attracted me to Matt and Kim in the first place…thanks to a commercial. Even though I’m old (28 is old right?), I still watch more MTV than I should. A few months back, MTV was doing a huge ad campaign leading up to an indie music awards ceremony called The Woodies. To get people psyched (or something) they interviewed different musicians briefly about road trips and driver safety. One such ad featured Matt and Kim, a band I had heard of, but not knowingly heard up to that point (they’re probably in commercials and whatnot). A brief search on YouTube didn’t find me the video, but basically they were talking about road trips. Matt absolutely oozed an enthusiasm and sense of fun that you don’t see a lot in music anymore. Kim fit right along with him, wondering why her hypothetical future children weren’t taking their cool mom on their musical road trip. I was kind of smitten with these two. Then I saw the actual Wooodie Awards which made me feel ancient because I hadn’t heard of half these kids, but it also made me even more curious about this dynamic duo.

Fast forward a few weeks and I find myself in a Borders on its last day of existence. It was kind of a sad affair, but with everything marked down to $0.50, I didn’t feel too bad. As it turned out, in addition to a copy of Craig Thompson’s Blankets which I haven’t had the chance to dive into yet, they had Matt and Kim’s most recent record Sidewalks for sale. There aren’t many records I wouldn’t buy for half a buck, so I jumped at the chance to actually listen to this group I had been kinda sorta interested in from afar. I was not disappointed.

Note, the following video is surprisingly violent and bloody. But MAN is the song rad.

I haven’t had this much fun with a record in I don’t know how long. I’m not sure how their other records sound, but Sidewalks is filled some very well put together beats and electronic elements that rival some of the bigger hip hop and pop tracks I hear on the pop stations, especially “AM/FM Sound” and “Cameras.” As if that weren’t enough, the songs themselves are filled with the kind of optimistic lyrics that can only be written by kids in their 20s. But, I don’t want to give the impression that they’re just a couple of impressionable kids singing about rainbows and flowers, the general theme of the record seems to be grabbing life by the horns and taking full advantage of it. “So many books that i didn’t read/but there’s so much air i chose to breathe./How about the colors that I’ve seen?/So i’ll leave these pages in the trees.” I like that sense of wonder with the world but also the knowledge that it might come at what others might see as a cost. That combination of hot beats and sunny optimism might seem contradictory, but the results are infections, foot tapping (sometimes stomping) anthems that make me want to follow my dreams and kick life in the junk (whatever that means).

There’s some NSFW talking at the end of the following video, just FYI.

I dig all 10 tracks on the record, though “Northeast” is a bit of a bummer. But, hey, it’s also the shortest track on the record, so I can’t be too miffed. If you’re like me and have an unnecessary predisposition to dislike anything that comes out of Hipster Brooklyn, I encourage you to still give Matt and Kim a try. If they’re being ironic, they’re either really bad at it or incredibly good actors because I think that kind of enthusiasm is difficult, if not impossible to, fake.

Real World Watcher: Las Vegas Episode 12 “Addicted To Love”

Tonight’s episode of Real World Las Vegas was pretty fantastic and even changed my opinion on a few of the characters. Continuing the theme of real-ness that hasn’t been seen on this show in quite a while and possibly never to this degree, tonight’s episode featured children reuniting with parents they haven’t seen in years, someone dealing with the death of a loved one, the discovery of a long lost pair of siblings, a relationship coming to an end…oh, and motocross. Hey, it doesn’t need to be all heady stuff. Hit the jump for all the deets. Continue reading Real World Watcher: Las Vegas Episode 12 “Addicted To Love”

Ad It Up: The Mask Returns

Like a lot of kids my age, my first exposure to The Mask was the Jim Carrey movie. At some point in college I got my hands on the first two trades featuring the character written by John Arcudi and drawn by Doug Mahnke. It’s a lot bloodier and more violent than the film, but it didn’t quite grab me for whatever reason. Regardless, though, I love this ad from 1992’s Predator vs. Magnus Robot Fighter #1 with the Mask blasting through the familiar silhouette of a certain cinematic superhero. Fun stuff.