Thursday, May 26, 2011

Writing the Challenge of Dreams and GoBots

Who remembers the GoBots? That show that was always in the shadow of the Tranformers? To think if it had aired only a few weeks earlier history would have been completely different. (Or not.)

I don’t have a lot of memories of the series, beyond the original “Challenge of the GoBots” mini-series, but it was fun. What I do remember is what resulted from watching it.

It was probably a few years after GoBot’s went off the air, though Transformers was still going strong, that I had a dream.

I’m not one to make a big deal out of my dreams, write them down or tell people about them, but from time to time a dream will be memorable enough that I eventually do something with elements of it.

In this dream the GoBot’s existed and somehow I was the human child of two of them. Strange, I know, but that was what I remember from the dream.

Sometime after that, weeks, months later, I began to write a story based on that.

Here’s rough synopsis of that story I wrote in Junior High:

Two giant alien races are at war and using Earth to fight their battles. As the story opens; the heroic ‘good’ aliens discover two elements of the villainous ‘bad’ aliens current plot. The first part is a massive machine that has ‘transmutative’ abilities that is able to transform one object or being into another. But the heroes have arrived to late, as one of the ‘bad guys’ has turned herself into a human so that she get close to a scientist who has invented a weapon that could either end the alien war or destroy the earth.

All they know is the scientist is on a cruise ship, and clues point that the villain is headed to board the ship. So the first officer of the good aliens becomes a human as well. He makes his way onto the cruise ship as one of the passengers. Then finds out who the scientist is he’s looking for and arranges to sit at the man’s table for meals. He also meets an extremely beautiful woman also at the table. They are polite but don’t get along, so the scientist’s wife makes it her missing to get the young couple together. Which by the end of the cruise does happen and they fall in love.

You guess it, the woman is the evil alien. Now neither can return to their original form, but convince the scientist to never build his weapon.

Not very good, I know, but what can you do I was a kid.

What’s important about this story is that it was truly the very first story I ever wrote that had a true beginning, middle, and end. I like to believe that I improved my writing abilities a little bit with each story I wrote from than on.

Even though it was very derivative of at least three shows I had been watching, it still was mine and it got me started.

And the fact that it originated from a strange dream I had longer before is also a good lesson for all writers.

Don’t dwell on everything that happens in your dreams, but recognize that your subconscious is sorting through millions of thoughts and ideas that go through your head. So when you remember something interesting from a dream, file it away because you might just well use it in that animated TV script you’re writing, or that novel, or feature film.

Your mind is a vast treasure trove of ideas, and sometimes they have to yell at you through dreams that they want to be told as stories.

Of course I’ve never been able to come up with a story from the dream I had when I was seven, where my grandmother turns into a giant spider with vampire teeth.

Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

Four Names of Professional Creativity

Thursday, May 19, 2011

“More Irish Than the Irish” – Review of IRISH MOON by Amber Scott

“More Irish Than the Irish”

It is a feeling I have every time I visit my cousins in Ireland, most of all in the North also known as Ulster. Though I am a second generation American, I feel so much like one of them, so much a part of the Emerald Isle that I never want to leave in though I know I must.

“More Irish Than the Irish”

It is an equally strong theme that runs through the pages of IRISH MOON by Amber Scott.

In an ancient Ireland that has ignores most of what goes on in the rest of Europe and where magicks still live and thrive in the shadows and trees of the land, a threat has arrived.

As a wedding approaches love and passion is in the air, but not for Breanne who is more concerned with her studies with the old druid. But when he turns up dead and a stranger arrives her life is turned completely upside down. For Ashlon, he only wants to finish his knight’s quest and put Ireland behind him. However he is drawn to the people and this magical land that he soon finds himself “More Irish Than the Irish”. Yet, destiny has greater plans for these two, pulling them together for purposes far greater than their burning passions.

IRISH MOON is the first ‘romance’ novel I’ve read and though the passions of our lead couple grow through out the novel until they can no longer contain it, this erotic passion never over powered the story, the adventure, or the characters themselves. The growth of their love is intricately tied to the quest they find themselves on.

Following Breanne and Ashlon as they struggled with their own goals and doing their best to avoid one another become an enjoyable character study of love and passion.

Perhaps it is out of pop cultural clich├ęs, but I was pleased that I never caught onto who the true villain was of the story until the reveal. Excellent and well done.

My only complaint I have with the story is that three of the supporting character’s threads aren’t fully resolved by the end of the book. This appears to be leading towards the sequel novel ENCHANTED MOON for at least two of these, and yet I was hoping to discover more of the motives of the King.

Over all IRISH MOON is an extremely enjoy tale of love and the Irish that pulls at my heartstrings for my ancestral home where any visitor will find themselves “More Irish than the Irish.”

IRISH MOON is my latest exploit into reading an e-book. Like Mara Purnhagen’s RAISING THE DEAD before it, I read Scott’s novel on the Kindle app on my Android phone. Though I have learned how to alter the size and readability of the file in the app, I found a continuing. Through out the book apostrophes vanished or were replaced boxes, and some quotation marks were at the bottom of a line instead of above. This seems to be a problem with the app, and after a couple of chapter did not remain a distraction.

Here’s hoping you enjoyed my third attempt at a book review (fourth if you count the comics), I may be doing this more often but understand I’m not the fasted reader when it comes to novels. I’ll let you know what I’m reading and if it’s worth a review later.

Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

Four Names of Professional Creativity

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Comics From Last Wednesday

Comics From Last Wednesday

by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

I don’t always get my weekly comics fix on a Wednesday, just whenever I can make it to the comic shop. Either at Cornerstore Comics in Anaheim, or House of Secrets in Burbank. Depending on where I’m at.

This past week I picked up just a few books, among them were:


Anniversary Issues can be great. You’re promised something special in them, more pages, more art, and more story. Sometimes this really pays off great, other times it just feels like they’re just filling pages, some only with reprints.

Many times the Anniversary issue is the big climax and ending of a story that’s been going on for many months. If they’ve planned it out, the conclusion will be perfect in the big issue, but sometimes a story ends up being cut short or stretched too long so they can end on the Anniversary issue.

What follows are my thoughts more then reviews of these two Big Anniversary Issues. You don’t have to agree with any of it, but please read along.


Let me start with saying I love the Justice Society and have ever since the very first comic I read and became enthralled with all the citizens of Earth 2.

I really got into them with the All Star Squadron and then continued to read about the characters and collected earlier books as well. Infinity Inc. would follow, but I was more interested in the Golden Age characters.

Then came CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. The epic event crossover all others hope to be and fail.

The Crisis merged all the universes together into one “consistent” DC Universe. Supposedly it was done because the multi-earths were confusing readers.

It never confused my 12 year old mind.

Afterwards things really became confusing.

For one important point, Superman was no longer the first of the super heroes that would inspire all the rest. There had always been something in the older books that the heroes looked up to him. That wasn’t so any more.

On a personal note, several of my favorite characters ceased to exist, or their origins were thrown into chaos. The chaos struck the worst for Power Girl who was no longer the cousin of Superman. They tried to make her a descendent of ARION OF ATLANTIS. It didn’t work.

As for the missing characters, The Huntress, Helena Wayne, daughter of Batman and Catwoman.

What became a real problem to me was the modern age of characters sometimes acted as if they didn’t even know the earlier ones existed. Some stories were written about villains who hypnotized the entire world to forget the heroes. Just as they had forgotten the city of Keystone City was right next door to Central City (in this new world).

That never really worked for me.

Recently, Len Wein wrote the wonderful series called LEGACIES, which provides a great overview of the history of the DC super heroes. Though it also required time to be ‘squashed’ so that though World War II happened 70 years ago, the golden age of heroes didn’t seem to be that long ago. I can live with it so the great history of the JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA still exists.

With all that behind us, I bring you to Issue 50 of their current series, written by Marc Guggenheim. The first eleven pages, drawn by George Perez, makes the purchase of the entire book worth the cover price to anyone who loves the DC Universe, and even more so to someone like me with such love for the Justice Society.

From his first appearance it was known that Barry Allen had been inspired by a comic book of the original FLASH. The same type of inspiration is the theme of this first story about the JSA and their Golden Age contemporaries, and is told from the point of view of all the Silver Age and modern heroes that are inspired by them. It is a beautiful and simple example how important those original characters still are.

(SIDE NOTE: The concept of the SILVER AGE doesn’t really exist any more as most characters seem to only have appeared in the last ten years. The exception being Martian Manhunter.)

We begin to get a glimpse of the ‘main story’ of this book as we get different shots of the villain Per Degaton as he has fought different incarnation of the JSA/ALL-STAR SQUADRON. But what’s important and fun to see is the first of these pages where we find ourselves on EARTH 2 or rather the NEW EARTH 2 that was created during the events of INFINITY CRISIS.

This Earth 2 was last scene a couple of years back in a JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA Annual where they meet their counterparts of the JUSTICE SOCIETY OF INFINITY. It’s a name that shows us just what’s different in the world that is extremely close to the original Earth 2. Here its obvious that Star Spangle Kid was not only able to have his Super Squad (from when ALL STAR COMICS was revived in the 70s) and that the children of the Society actually became members instead of forming INFINITY INC.

In that earlier story not only do we deal with the chaos of Power Girl’s life, especially now that she knows she is the cousin of Superman but of an alternate earth and died in the latest Crisis. On top of that I finally got to see Helena Wayne as the Huntress as she was meant to be and drawn by Jerry Ordway, one of the artists who worked on Infinity Inc and her own series in the back of Wonder Woman back then.

It’s great to know that version of the team exists, (that’s the team I really want to write for.)

The next story in this anniversary book is actually a tale that’s been told several times before. About when the Justice Society faced off with the House Un-American Activities Committee. Originally to explain why they had been missing for so many decades. This time it takes a personal look at the team members as they have to make the decision of turning their back on a government that has turned its back on them. I’m not a major Howard Chaykin fan, but his artwork really works for this sequence, and it’s an excellent telling.

With that the book brings us to present day and we discover what Per Degaton has been up to.

Truthfully, this part of the book, though tied to the others, it is the least appealing to me. And that maybe my own fault, as I have missed several months of both JSA books so somethings are not quite so clear to me. I certainly don’t like the new ALAN SCOTT/GREEN LANTERN costume, but as I said that’s me.

Even with that, if you have any interest in the JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA and the DC Universe, this book is worth having.


Over the last week this issue has gotten a lot of news coverage. You know about that, I’ll mention it briefly later, but let’s not dwell on it.

A special anniversary issue of a comic book should still be an issue of the series, and that is what we have here.

Here is the conclusion Paul Cornell’s great story focusing on Lex Luthor and his robot Lois Lane. It had been a great ride as Lex ran up against some of the greatest super villains of the DC Universe and now achieving his ultimate of goals and finally destroy Superman.

Yet as with all great egos, Lex brings about his own undoing, but not in any expected way. Even the reappearance of Neil Gaiman’s Death is welcome, and experiences the events of the story only in the way she could.

I have one complaint about this story, and only one, but it could appear to be major. I was looking forward to a conclusion to a great story, but was disappointed to find that we were being thrust right into the REIGN OF DOOMSDAY. I’ve never been into any of the Doomsday stories, he was one of those characters that served it’s purpose and should have been left to die, but came back time and again.

Even with that complain, I am very please to see Paul Cornell will remain at the helm as writer and I know will not be disappointed.

The next story in this anniversary book, entitled “Life Support” by Damon Lindelof, is a short quiet moment from a doomed world. Too bad one of the other stories in the book got all the news coverage, because this little tale speaks volumes far beyond any controversy. Forget the other story, pull out your copy of Action Comics #900 and read this story and I dare you note to shed a tear when its over.

“Autobiography” by writer Paul Dini is about Superman’s experience with alien worlds, and how someone like him will eventually be seen by other worlds. Not really a story, but just a conversation between being mightier than mortal men.

Geoff John’s story is surprisingly disappointing. A cute glimpse into Lois wanting to know Clark’s friends from the future, but it just doesn’t work for me.

Now comes “The Incident” by David S. Goyer. I don’t want to get involved in this non-controversy. It’s a very good story. Superman would do what he did in this story, because he helps people, any people that need help. As to the American issue, I’ll only say this: Over half of the original Justice League of America were not Americans, they were either foreigners or aliens, and two worked for intergalactic police forces who thought their jurisdiction superseded the local constabulary. (I’ll let you figure that all out for yourself.) My only question is where is this going to lead? Is there a story line planned out? Hasn’t Superman appeared to be an enemy of the state already, a threat to national security? Ask Lois’ dad. I hope we can get away from such stories. It’s rather tiring.

The Richard Donner script that follows is good, and though I’m a scriptwriter myself I found it hard to read in this format. sorry.

I really like the Brian Stelfreeze two page spread in the back of the book. Many years ago, Mr. Stelfreeze spent half an hour on the phone with me talking about working in comic and what I should do. I feel bad never staying in touch with him. He’s a great guy and a great artist.

So here we are, two very enjoyable anniversary comics out the same week. One gets more attention than it deserves, and the other should be read by many many more.

I don’t know if these are well written reviews of these comics or not, but I hope you enjoy them, and go buy the books and enjoy them for what they are. Good story telling.