Written By Dave Baker
Illustrated By Robert Negrete
Lettered By Henry Barajas
Written By Dave Baker
Illustrated By Robert Negrete
Lettered By Henry Barajas
Momentum Is Key
I find that whenever I stop doing something of a little while it takes me a bit to get back into the swing of it. Case in point, comics. I’ve been banging my head against the wall attempting to crack this third Action Hospital script for a while now and then yesterday, I sat down, wrote it, and started drawing it. Biff bang Boom. All there.
Making comics is kinda like dating. Only with less sex. You’ll see why I say that in a moment.
So, Action Hospital #3 has unintentionally been in the making for a while now. About a year ago another writer and myself started working on a comic together. For the sake of anonymity we’ll just call him Captain Awesome. At that stage in my life I had just stopped working with my longtime writer pal/wookie life partner/bff/whathaveyou. I wasn’t looking to have a serious ‘writer-relationship-partnership’ style thing. I was just looking to hang out, make a pitch for a comic, and see if we could sell it. I was pretty upfront about it. I enjoyed co-writing with Captain Awesome a lot. He was fun, we had a lot in common, and our script came out really well, I thought. So, I set to making the pages. I really put a lot of effort into those first five pages. Those were the pages we were going to use to pitch the book to publishers.
I finished the first five pages and we went to a convention together to network, meet editors, and try and get some feedback on the pages before digitally submitting to the usual publishing companies. Over the course of the convention I brought up that if we didn’t sell our book, I wasn’t really interested in drawing a whole six issue mini series. Captain Awesome didn’t take that too well. Now, full disclosure, this was his first comic. So, I’m not really sure if he fully comprehended just how long a six issue mini would take to complete. At the pace I was drawing it probably would have taken me 8 months to do six issues. That was not at all what I was shooting to do.
Captain Awesome didn’t like what I was saying. So, the project died. I’ve had these really awesome pages laying around for a long time and I just haven’t really known what to do with them.
Until now, I decided to take the pages that I made with Captain Awesome and re-write them. I’m using them as an intro into a new story. It’s pretty fun. I’m in the middle of drawing the new Joan-centric pages currently. The story, when it’s all finished, should be around 16 pages long. So, it’ll be our first Giant Sized Action Hospital!
The drawing is going pretty well. I’m a bit rusty when it comes to lay outs. Other than that, things are progressing fairly well.
Space: The Final Place You Can Be Shitty To People That Don’t Look Like You
As I’ve been drawing/writing/masterminding/being a nerd, I’ve started watching Star Trek: Voyager. When I was a kid I remember watching Voyager and hating it. I remember hating Janeway’s voice with a passion. Now that I’m a psudeo-manchildadultthing I actually don’t mind it. It’s an interesting character element.
I love the idea that we’re on a ship with a female captain. It only to like four TV shows and 7 movies to get to that point, but whatever. Woman captain. I’m down with it.
Recently, I’ve been reinvestigating DS9 and I love it. Ben Sisco is the coolest dude ever. I love the show, the cast, the station. It’s great. What’s not great? The space jews. Yes, the Ferengi were in TNG but they weren’t untrustworthy, thieving assholes. They were just shitty slavers with whips. They where one dimensional. Quark, the main ferengi in DS9, is borderline a racial cartoon. He’s almost an anti-simetic poster child. He has screwed up teeth, a big nose, and he’s money hungry. It’s so disgusting. People bitch and moan about how JJ Abrams’ Star Trek isn’t Trek because it’s not about the enduring spirit of man or about how tolerance and love are the only blah blah blah. Fuck that. The Ferengi are persecuted and openly mocked by Star Fleet officers all throughout DS9.
During the first 30 seconds that Harry Kim, the new tech officer in Voyager, is introduced Quark attempts to swindle him. Kim responds ‘They warned us about Ferengi at the academy’. Quark gets super upset and calls Harry Kim a racist and threatens to report him to Star Fleet high command. Harry Kim, seeking to calm Quark down offers to buy all the trinkets that Quark is selling. This is where another Star Fleet officer steps in as says, ‘these aren’t worth anything. Don’t give this Ferengi your money, Ensign.’ As their walking away the officer turns to Harry Kim and says ‘Didn’t they warn you about the Ferengi at the Academy?’
What is this? Star Fleet has institutionalized racism? Or speciesism? or whatever? What is it with the bigotry towards the ferengi in Star Trek? C’mon, Star Trek. I expect more of you. No culture is singularly one-dimensional.
If there’s ever another Star Trek tv show, I’m going to pitch 9,000 ferengi centric stories.
The title of this blog post is from a book about Super Spies, a three headed monk/robot, and time traveling green skinned woman. I think it’s fairly obvious what I’m referring to. No points for you.
Until next time,
Hollywood, Ca 2013
Well, Action Hospital is on it’s way… sort of.
Robert and I are hard at work on the pages. Currently we’ve to the first issue all penciled, inked, and mostly lettered. We should be rolling those out soon. We’re just waiting on some finished lettered pages, and some minor tweaks. I suppose I should clarify something. Our Action Hospital ‘issues’ are going to be 8 pages long. So you should be getting a beginning, middle, and an end… and maybe a cliffhanger. In 8 pages. So the first issue is all wrapped up, it’s almost ready to go. We’ll probably hold off a bit before we start posting them, just cause, like I said, we have some minor lettering stuff we’re waiting on.
The second issue is all written. Robert has it, and he’s starting to work on it. So, hopefully, I’ll have more to show you soon. Preeeeeeviews. They’re the best, man. I love doing sneak peaks and previews. They’re intoxicating.
So, where does that leave me? Working on the third issue of Action Hospital. Writing, writing, writing. For Action Hospital #3 we’re trying something a bit more complex. Robert and I are BOTH drawing it. That is to say, we’ll both be working of of the script that I wrote. So that’ll be interesting. I’ve rewritten the thing like twelve times. For real. I have no idea what other people’s process is like or if my process is ass-backwards but I definitely find myself changing my mind a lot. I discover cooler/newer/better ways to tell the story. For me writing is kind of like applying for a job on Craig’s list. You get your resume just right (my outline), then you send it out (actually writing), then you don’t hear back (get dissatisfied with what you just wrote), so you apply for another job (write it again) and so on and so on. I do this over and over and over again. It’s probably not healthy or productive.
Let me give you an example:
Each Action Hospital artist has a cast of characters. Robert has Younger and I have a nurse called Joan Michelle Basquiat. Currently there are no other Action Hospital artists, but there may be in the near future. You never know. Joan, a nurse who is gifted with True-Sight, which is basically just seeing in John-Michelle Basquiat paintings, is my central character. Initially, she was going to be struggling against an antagonist named Sharkerham Lincoln, a clone-hybrid Abraham Lincoln and a shark. I couldn’t get the story to work in such a small page count. I wrote this three times. Then I decided to have Joan help out an embittered politician. To, for lack of better words, regain his soul or, y’know, get his political groove back. I rewrote that twice trying to make it work. I never really did.
Now, I think I’ve finally figured it out. I’m having Joan help a boy detective realize that he doesn’t need to follow in his overbearing father’s footsteps. We’ll see where it goes. Here’s hoping this is the last time I re-write this darned thing.
So, let’s get into why this one is more complex, other than the fact that I’ve re-written it like 12 times. Robert and I are going to do an Image United deal. We’re each going to draw on the same boards. We’re going to each draw our characters on the different pages. That meaning, if Younger shows up in my story, she’s only drawn by Robert. If Joan shows up she’s only drawn by me. I’m hoping that it’ll really feel like an important event whenever one of our characters shows up. We probably won’t be doing it a ton, just because of the logistical requirements, but I think It’ll be a fun little side note that we can throw into our narratives every once and a while.
I’ve been watching Venture Bros. a lot lately. Partially to bone up for an interview that I had at Titmouse, the company that makes Venture Bros, and partially because the fifth season just concluded.
This may sound strange but I find myself interested more in the people who make the stories I consume than the stories themselves. Specifically, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, the co-creators of the Venture Bros. All throughout watching the show this season I found myself stopping episodes, searching youtube for interviews with Doc and Jackson, and rapidly consuming every odd observation they made about Liam Neeson and David Bowie. I suppose, for me, the stories people create are more of a conduit to them. Rather than an escapist past time.
When you work at home, as I do being a writer, you find yourself going a little stir crazy. You find yourself attempting to talk to the cute cashier girl at the grocery store. You find yourself trying to connect with the waiter who barely speaks english at your favorite vietnamese restaurant. You’re starved for human connection so you start attempting to connect with anyone around you. You can’t help it. Your brain just says, ‘That’s a person. Talk to them. Become friends.’ Even when that’s probably not exactly what you should be doing.
I take it really personally when people I admire go off the deep end and start spouting off about crazy shit. I’m looking at your Frank Miller and Mark Millar. I can’t read anything Millar writes anymore. His comments about women, his decision in Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall to have Dave beat the shit out of two mentally handicapped adults, and basically everything he’s been involved with recently have just made me really sad. I used to love Mark Millar. He was fun, edgy, and his books were always top notch. Now? He’s writing for a select group of really angry, emotionally stunted, sexually frustrated men. I want to part of it. Frank Miller? He’s a comics god among men. But you know what? After he said that shit about the Occupy Wall street protesters I made a vow never to buy another book of his again. What happens to creators when they get old? Frank Miller seemed like such a cool, smart, down to earth dude in the 80’s and 90’s and then all of a sudden he just went crazy. And don’t say it’s the movies. Have you read Dark Knight Strikes Again? There’s crazy in there. It’s not as bad but there’s crazy. I’m just so saddened by the whole affair.
I don’t know if I’m alone in this but I use the momentum generated by someone’s story to connect with them. I’m sure there are far easier ways to connect with people. Shit, online dating and the consumption of alcohol are how most people do it, right? Well, I guess I’m just to cerebrally idiotic to indulge in either of those pastimes. So, that only leaves me with a laptop, some On Her Majesty’s Secret Service audio commentary, and a frozen pizza.
I’d be lying if I told you that I was anything other than ecstatic about this project. Getting pages back from Robert is like Christmas. I’m writing about things that I’m deeply, deeply passionate about, and there’s a shit ton of onomatopoeia jokes. And who doesn’t fucking love onomatopoeia jokes?
Well, then you shouldn’t be readying this comic. Because there’s gonna be a veritable ass ton of them. And I, for one, am excited for them. I’m also excited to see the characters that Robert and I have been slaving away on for months alive and walking around the internets. I can’t wait.
Hopefully, you’ll love these characters as much as we do.
The title of this blog post comes from the Venture Brothers. Five points if you can name the episode.
Hollywood, Ca 2013
Comics take forever.
I feel like I’ve aged ten years since the last time I put out a comic that I was truly proud of. It would seem that those are the two constants in my life, recently. Age and comics. Seemingly the older I get the quicker I age. Yes, I realize that I’m still young and virile and have my whole life ahead of me and blah blah blah but, I’m not going to lie. I feel like 9,000 years old.
Man, this is a depressing intro.
Let’s start again. And this time with a thin veneer of jubilation
Hello, dear reader!
You’re about to start reading the first issue-ish of Action Hospital featuring our beloved plant wielding pre-teen Younger The Vine Walker!
Action Hospital and Younger have been rolling around in my head for quite some time. I suppose to give you an accurate depiction of where this creative journey has gone and just how long it has taken I should start at the beginning.
The first time the words Action and Hospital entered my head were in my ratty little apartment on Park Ave in San Diego, California. I was listening to an interview with comics writer extraordinaire Matt Fraction when the host asked him a question that sounded like, “Have you ever visited the Action Hospital?” Undoubtedly, the actual question was nothing of the sort but the misheard phrase ‘Action Hospital ‘ stuck in by brain. A few days after this my partner left our humble abode for a weekend trip to see friends. I was left at our house, with a stack of comics and no real responsibilities. So, what did I do? I read comics in my underwear until 2 am.
At the time I was reading a lot of titles. Probably more than my internet startup writers paycheck could reasonably afford. But, nevertheless, I was reading a bunch of books. As I always do, I saved my favorite book for last. Casanova. If you haven’t read Casanova, do yourself a favor and go buy it. Today. It’s astoundingly good.
Let’s digress for a second. I feel that to properly digest the story which I’m currently in the midst relaying to you it is of paramount importance that you understand my relationship with Casanova. Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon’s Casanova is my all time favorite comic book. But it’s more than that. It’s a strangely lovable recurring character in the painfully banal sitcom that is my life. It’s helped me through extremely trying times. It’s assisted me in more ways than I’d like to admit. The book intersects with my life in very, very strange ways. The first volume served as the background noise to my creative break up. It functioned in the same way a record does when you’re deciding to leave someone. You always think of that person when you hear the record.
That is to say, I used to make comics with someone that I hold very near and dear to my heart. Casanova inspired us to create a five issue mini series about a time traveling spy. Over the course of those five issues my relationship with my collaborator deteriorated into a husk of what it once was. Currently, we are not on speaking terms. This is a fact that I have very mixed feelings about.
Ok, let’s get back on course. I’m sitting on my bed in my 0.5 bedroom apartment and I’m reading Casanova: Aviritia #4. It’s the final issue of the third arc. It’s the book that has been delayed for months. It’s the comic I’ve been dying to read since who knows when. And It’s here. In my hands. I open it up and it’s an injection of pure cocaine straight into my brain meat. I’m on cloud nine for the entire issue. And then I reach the last page. And Casanova Quinn, inter-dimensional superspy, is standing in front of the Hollywood sign.
And it hits me. This is where I have to move. I have to go to Hollywood. I have to escape the bizarre, crack head filled life that I’m living and I have to go to Hollywood. Casanova is starring off the page at me. Practically daring me to do it. To go to Hollywood.
I feel like I’ve been hit by a freight train. I wander around the apartment stunned into silence. After a few minutes of pacing in circles I flip to the end of the issue and start perusing the letters column. There it is. My letter. The letter that I sent to Fraction almost four months previous. I’m in Casanova.
I dropped the book and started writing. I started writing a screenplay called The Action Hospital.
That was almost an entire year ago. Action Hospital has changed shapes multiple times since then. It started as a screenplay, then morphed into a four issue mini, then was completely retooled and reconstructed into what you see before you. The story of Younger the Vine Walker and her many compatriots in the Action Hospital.
There you have it. That’s how we got here. From San Diego to Hollywood to your computer screen.
Comics, man. They take forever.
At this juncture I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge my collaborator on this project, my co-pilot, and Younger’s co-creator Robert Negrete.
I met Robert at the weekly Drink and Draw at Casey’s Bar and Grill in Downtown Los Angeles. His illustrative capabilities are on display for all to see in this issue. He’s the real reason that this comic was birthed. His skill is on display on every page of this issue.
Robert took my billion little ideas and synthesized them into a real thing. Into a breathing, living thing. He synthesized them into Younger. No one could draw this book but Robert. Look at Younger’s costume design. Even Mark Silvestri with all his assistants would be crazy to design something that intricate.
I’ll never know why or how Robert puts up with my crazy hair brained ideas but he does. And he ushers them into reality with a diligent hand and a critical eye.
Finally, in the tradition of Casanova, let’s talk for a moment about the influences behind Younger and Action Hospital.
The Cosby Show
The Cosby Show is the greatest sitcom of all time. It was not only pan culturally comedic but it was poignant. Yes, it was ground breaking due to its all African American cast but it was also ground breaking in that it treated its characters as real people and not inflatable plot points.
Kamen Rider Amazon
Japan’s long running super hero television show Kamen Rider (Masked Rider) is one of my favorite pieces of pop culture. Especially, Kamen Rider Amazon, in which a child who was raised in the Amazon Jungle travels to Japan in order to protect it from the evil Ten Headed Demon. Yes, the show is as crazy as it sounds.
Growing up I loved Tarzan. Then I hit 15 and discovered that it was a white power allegory and lost my mind. Younger is my vain attempt at spitting on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ grave by subverting the Tarzan archetype by creating a character that is not white, nor male and yet is just as powerful and awesome.
Never in a million years did I expect to love Kirkman and McFarlane’s Haunt half as much as I do. The concept of two people being trapped in one super powered body is delightful.
Extra tidbit: the title to this post is a Depeche Mode reference. Five points to anyone who can figure it out.
Until next time,
Hollywood, Ca 2013