Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

The panel above you might recognize as Justin's handiwork, from our comic "Calamity Cash and the Town with No Name." This is a relatively new panel, a sketch from a scene that I've been worried about, not because of Justin, because he's got his shit together far better than I do, but rather because when I wrote it, I was afraid maybe I'd dropped the ball a little bit. It's a very standard scene, just a meet-cute, really, boy meets girl with a twist, and while what it's supposed to do is very simple, it can come off as forced pretty easily. But here I sit, looking into the eyes of Tana Cash's daughter Calamity, with her little head tilt and that look in her eyes like she's measuring this boy she's on panel with for...well, not a suit, and I'm just in heaven.

That look is perfect. In it I see the little thing I was so afraid I didn't do. But Justin nailed it. And that, in a way, it why I love comics so much, because deep down, at the end of the day, no matter what you're doing, if you're really lucky, if you're really working with the best people, then your artist is your partner in crime and has totally got your back and saved your ass in moments like this. Means a lot. And I sort of just want to gush like a proud poppa, but bottom line, it's excellent work.

It's a good day, for the most part. Stayed up most of the night, going over "Trendsetter" notes and feedback from friends. Looked hard at the assumptions people were making, what was standing out but not working, and what needed to be done to make my too-bloated-for-a-short short into a real, legit movie. I've talked here several times about what I needed for that transition, but I haven't really made much progress on what the new content will actually contain, and what of the old content will have to change.

But I'm proud to say, some time around five or six this morning, I put together the first rough [very rough] outline for the new "Trendsetter." Now, in some ways, this is nothing to celebrate, because by my own time line I am significantly behind, but as I said to a friend earlier, being behind and knowing where you're going is infinitely superior to being behind and having no clue what the hell you're doing.

Some things have become a lot easier, and a lot clearer to me. Unless there is another significant change, Brandon's parent's and his extended family are out, while, likely, a small bit-part character from the original script will be getting more screen time, and one new character [unsurprisingly, another old, familiar face from some of my previous work] will be joining the cast. Furthermore, an aspect to my protagonist's character that was sacrificed for the more passive stance Brandon takes is going to be returning, hopefully making "Trendsetter" a bit more traditional in plot without sacrificing what the aspects of the character that make it more unique [I feel like people are hearing me talk about "traditional" and freaking out a little bit, however, I'm not selling out -- just expanding the narrative, which will involve Brandon being a little more proactive in his fate].

Few problems arise. I knew one of my hobby-horses, a neat little gimmick where in the pre-letter year I have Brandon use the slang term "Rad" [a nod to a friend from college, Dylan Sanders-Self], and then, when picking up the narrative a year later, having everyone say "rad" but Brandon. What it was supposed to be was just a subtle nod that maybe there is something about my protagonist that predisposes people to pick up thinks he does in a fad-like manner. Regrettably, while everyone seems to notice this quirk, few if any "get" it's inclusion, so it will not be seeing any time in the next draft. So much for being clever, but if it's not working, it's not working, no matter how cool I think it is.

There's also a slight fear I have that the movie will be starting a little... late. General rule in screenwriting is by page 20, some pretty significant action has taken place that makes the story more interesting, raises the stakes, and sets some goals, but at my current outline it actually looks like something along those lines won't be appearing until almost page 50. This is obviously going to be an editing problem, and some stuff is going to have to be cut, but I think, if I manage to keep the beginning interesting enough [like the the near-10 minute intro I have currently], I might be able to pull it off anyway. It probably shouldn't be worrying me this soon -- a bridge to be crossed when I get there, but it is, in my experience, better to see these things coming.

There are other things, and I need to contact Kyle and fill him in, of course, but for right now I'm just pleased with progress made, and the possibility of progress to come. More here soon, of course. Breakthroughs are great, though.


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