Animation Test and Character Design

Every few weeks I say that I will get back on the blogging horse, but I keep failing you. I have good reasons though – I am in post-production on two films.  One of them, Suburban Cowboy, is my first as a director.  Three graphic novels are in production… And I’m still trying to get the word out about R.E.M. and Harbor Moon.  So, things have been a bit hectic lately – which is a good thing.

Today I wanted to share an animation test/character progression and design for a music video that is in production.  It is being done by Zsombor Huszka…

Can Humans Beat Sleep?

We spend a third of our lives sleeping. For the average human, that’s 191,625 hours. Or close to twenty-two years. And we probably waste just as much time feeling tired. Struggling through restless nights, which turn into unproductive days. What if you never have to do that again?

We all know the person who can get four hours of sleep a night and bounce off walls the next day, as well as the other who gets ten, eats healthy and is somehow ragged all day long. It is the rare individual who can get a full night’s sleep each and every night. And even if they do, it takes hours. Hours they could spend doing so many other things. Reading, learning, travelling, working, spending time with family…

What if you were never tired? Never required a nap or a rest? Never had to ‘relax’?

Picture a world where you can get a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep in a half hour – each and every night. So the hours you are up aren’t just more plentiful, they are more productive. Useful. People will never be tired. Never be lazy. Accidents because of exhaustion go out the window. Physical conditions that exist because of lack of sleep are eradicated. Workdays double and our earning power increases. The world’s most brilliant minds are able to function at full capacity twenty-three hours a day. Think about what they can accomplish.

While idols of mine, like Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey de Grey, attempt to extend life indefinitely… I am trying to get the most of the current life we lead.

The ancient yogi in India believed that by chanting the OM Mantra, one could attain a level of consciousness called yoga nidra, or deep sleep. And there are four stages of that refrain. The ‘A’. The ‘U’. The ‘M’. And the ‘O’, which represents silence. Only those who are truly enlightened reach ‘M’. And in this state such a man could fulfill all his basic sleep requirements in an hour or so of meditation.

My theory posits that we can emulate this process through the use of a sleep chamber and trick the brain into the cycles of REM, speeding up the process and eliminating the need for sleep. Well, the need for sleep as we know it.

Ever since I was a child, I could never understand why we were wasting our time sleeping. It really manifested itself when I was in college, because I struggled with bouts of insomnia. Sometimes I would go days without rest, through sports and a rigorous course load, knowing that ultimately the fall would be epic. And it was.

It was around then that I remembered a segment on a news broadcast when I was a kid about a chair that looked a bit like a futuristic hair salon dryer chair that supposedly allowed someone to get a full night’s sleep in a half hour or so. Apparently I was crazy, because nothing like that ever aired on a broadcast. At least that I could find. So maybe my ten-year old self dreamt it. However, it set me on a path. Over the course of years, I contacted everyone I could who was renowned in the world of sleep research and they all basically told me the same thing – you’re off your rocker.

But I was not dismayed. The revolutionary forces of any movement are those capable of shifting the present foundation of things, of changing the angle of reality. There are all types of forward thinking people out there. Individuals that do not shift to the way of the world. Steel pillars whom the earth and society will break around. Men who forged fire. Created the wheel. Built the printing press and the steam engine. Men who changed the course of humanity with the silicon chip. All for what? So you could live a better life?

What if you could live two lifetimes?

There are those who are repelled by such a thought. I have heard all of the arguments against such a theory or chamber. The human body needs time to rejuvenate or heal – but what about those of us that heal faster than others? Perhaps that is that because that person has more complete sleep each night. Some people will tell me they look forward to falling into their bed with the fluffy comforter. When you are energized and ready to take on the world, do you really think about such things? You don’t even need to own a bed. You can, but now it can be more customized to what you need it for – such as sexual intercourse. Others want to harp on the negative effects such an advance will bring. For most of us that have to work, that’s twice the time away from your family. It’s twice the crime. Double the drain on our natural resources. It’s speeding up the end of the world. I am the harbinger of death. If you want to change the world you have to break some eggs, right?

People even insist on asking me… What about good old-fashioned natural sleep? The only truly natural sleep is death. It lasts forever and comes soon enough. I am not interested in rushing it.

This sleep chamber and its underpinnings are the basis for my graphic novel R.E.M.. If you enjoy a challenging story, I hope you’ll check us out. Anyone can read the first 30 pages on the website… so give it a shot.  That’s all I ask. You can actually check out a prequel of the story as a short film on the website as well.

And if you like what you see and want to know what else is coming from us, follow us:

www.facebook.com/spokelane

www.twitter.com/spokelane

www.instagram.com/spokelane

Why Do We Sleep?

Russell Foster discussed this very topic in his TEDtalk – a topic that is clearly very near and dear to my heart, as I wrote a graphic novel about a scientist trying to beat sleep (the drama/thriller R.E.M.).

The Art of a Print

On our road trip to AwesomeCon in Washington, DC, Zsombor and I had a cool idea of a samurai print.  Basically, samurai Batman (this idea later morphed into a full scale animated film that we outlined the next weekend at C2E2 and are doing designs for currently). I’m not taking much credit for this one, I actually only came up with the title – The Dark Ronin.  What I wanted to show you was the sketch Zsombor did at AwesomeCon and the final print that was done within a week for C2E2 (and was our best seller). Guy is pretty talented. If only he could close a sale.

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Heroes Con

In June I attended Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC. It was the last stop of my spring convention tour and I had heard it was a great convention for comics. After a nine hour drive and a lap around the city, I ventured inside. The convention hall itself was nice, spacious and well laid out. But I think this may be where the problem with the con lies, the hall itself was too spacious. At no point during the con did it feel like it was crowded. That is a problem when booths rely on a crowd to build traction. The rows in artist alley were empty most of the show. I did fairly well there and the fans that did swing through were great, but ultimately I think they may have overestimated the expected crowd.

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Author Review Etiquette

I’m copying this from a newsletter I receive from Author Marketing Experts, which always has great tips for authors.

Four Tips on What NOT to Say (or Pitch or Do) to Get Your Book Reviewed

If you want guarantees, you won’t find them in book reviews. Death and taxes, yes – but the book review process is a sea of unknowns, from how many review requests you’ll get to who’ll actually post a review to whether they’ll even like your book at all.

When you’ve got people reviewing books mostly as a labor of love, the reality is, that review you expected this month may be delayed by a couple of months. Or, they may not love your book and be pretty blunt about it. Life happens. It’s fine to check back with a reviewer if you haven’t heard anything and had been given a review timeframe. It’s fine to correct a factual error in a review, but it’s not appropriate to start a fight with someone who has fairly reviewed your book and just decided it didn’t work for them.

What else should you keep in mind during the review process?

Be a Pro. It probably seems unnecessary to state that being professional at all times is important, but there have been so many author-initiated blog brouhahas online that we can’t take anything for granted. Ask nicely when requesting a review; be gracious if the answer is no. It’s not personal. If you’ve done your homework you may know going in that a particular blogger – who you’ve identified as a key blogger for your book – is overwhelmed with a review backlog. Perhaps the blogger is up for a guest post, and if you see the blog often includes them, be prepared to pitch some ideas. Maybe it’s a good site for contests – again, be ready to suggest a contest and terms. Pay attention to what the blogger does on his or her blog – it’s most definitely not all reviews, all the time – and see if there is anything you can contribute to either complement a review or in place of a review.

Be appreciative. I can count on both hands, with fingers left over, the number of authors we’ve worked with who have bothered to thank reviewers. Do it. The authors who do take the time to email the blogger to say thanks are usually rewarded by developing relationships with the bloggers they thank. If that blogger enjoyed the author’s book they usually ask if they can review the author’s next book, and so on. What was originally a one-time situation now becomes an ongoing relationship in which the reviewer follows the author’s career and the author has additional opportunities for book reviews, interviews and more – and not only with that blogger; chances are the blogger’s peers who like the same kind of books are going to take notice.

Never burn bridges. Even if a review you receive is unfair, or not the quality you expected, there is only so much you can do. If there is a factual error, by all means alert the blogger immediately with the correction. Otherwise, if you just don’t like the review, let it go. Just remember that whatever the review says, you never know how readers will react and I’ve seen many cases in which the lukewarm review caused others to say they wanted to read the book for themselves. You’re getting free publicity and you have to realize that everyone may take away a different perspective from one review. And you should still thank them, nicely, for taking the time to review your book.

Take the long view. Also understand that the Internet has brought together hundreds of book lovers (aka book bloggers) as never before, and not only do they share their love of books, they also discuss problems, issues and more. Angry authors have gotten plenty of bad coverage this way, with the result being that a multitude of reviewers have sworn they will never review any work by that author. Ever. There’s an adage about never getting into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel – a reference to newspapers and magazines – but the reality now is you don’t want to get into a fight with someone who has a blog with hundreds (or more) of followers, plus Twitter and Facebook accounts and the ability to broadcast bad news far and wide. Don’t let that be you!

Maine Comic Arts Festival

I just got home from Portland, Maine… home of the Maine Comic Arts Festival (MeCAF). The day long art/comic show is run by Rick Lowell over at Casablanca Comics and I have to tell you, it is an awesome show.  I missed the opening night reception for my godson’s Christening… but seeing as how I really liked Portland I’m sure it was a great time.

It was held at the Portland Company Complex, which is right on the water and had the feel of an old shipyard building. It was the perfect size (or so it seemed) for the event. I’m a little leery about local shows because they are generally geared towards kids, and this was no exception. If you are familiar with my books, at least until Bulderlyns comes out, then you know why I’m leery. However, within the first ten minutes I had a great talk with an aspiring artist and he just opened the floodgates. It didn’t stop until about a half hour or so before the show closed. Everyone of the guests was really nice, obviously loved comics or art and was great to talk to.

It’s hard for me to leave my table, especially when I’m by myself, so pictures of the event itself are at a minimum. And I don’t get to speak to as many creators as I’d like – usually just my neighbors. I did have a few good talks with other creators who didn’t have tables at the show, but were there supporting.

I went down the street to what I guess is downtown Portland for dinner with a mission – lobster. I chose a place on the water that wasn’t too fancy, because in my experience these places always have better food. It was my first lobster roll and it was awesome. Can’t wait to head back…

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