(Click to embiggen. Sent in by WWdN reader J.)
For all five of you who are in Los Angeles: I’ll be signing the Star Trek Manga at Barnes and Noble at The Grove tonight at 7:30. I talked to Erin at the SG Newswire about it yesterday.
This is one of the few stops where I won’t have The Happiest Days of Our Lives, because Barnes and Noble doesn’t have it in their system, and can’t sell it, but that’s the price of being an indie publisher who doesn’t play by The Man’s rules, I guess. \m/
Speaking of The Happiest Days of Our Lives, I took the first batch of orders to the post office yesterday, and I’m processing another big batch of orders this afternoon for delivery tomorrow. I can’t believe this is really happening!
Today is one of the happiest days of my life, because The Happiest Days of Our Lives officially goes on sale, starting . . . now. (Well, actually, starting about 96 hours ago, but you only knew that if you follow me on Twitter. Soft launch FTW!)
I love everything about this book. I loved writing the stories in
it. I loved working with Andrew to put them together into something that is more than just a collection of blog entries. I loved working with Sean to design and create the cover. I loved working with Russ to shake the cobwebs off of Monolith Press and restore power to this fully-operational battle station. I love the excitement I feel
right now, as I get ready to share it with anyone who wants to read it. I love the way it reminds me so much of how I felt when Dancing Barefoot was first published.
But what I love the most is
taking back control of my work and releasing it, marketing it, and
publishing it myself. The Happiest Days of Our Lives
is going to live or die based entirely on my efforts to promote it (first note to everyone: It’s not
a Star Trek book), which can be a little overwhelming if I think about
it too much, so instead of thinking about that, I’ve been thinking
about the path I’ve walked to get here, starting six and a half years ago, when I created Where’s My Burrito? at Geocities. As I wrote in Just A Geek,
My life as a husband and stepfather was very rewarding, but a desire to regain the success I’d enjoyed as a child and teenager pulled at me constantly. It kept me awake at night, and was a constant distraction. Like the Not Me ghost from Family Circus, Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake slept between my wife and me in our bed, and ate with us at every meal. When I could have been playing with my stepkids, Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake and I would sit and stare vacantly at the TV, wondering what could have been.
The weekend after the Hooters Incident (as it came to be known), my wife was out of town and Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake and I found ourselves in front of my computer. I surfed the Internet, played Diablo II, created WinAmp playlists . . . I did everything I could to get that Hooters waitress out of my mind.
Yes, that’s how badly it hurt me: I was actively trying to get a Hooters waitress out of my mind. While my wife was out of town.
Somewhere in that day, while I was battling the forces of polygonal evil on Battle.Net, Prove To Everyone tapped me on the shoulder, and said, "Dude. You should make a website, and let the world know that you are still alive, and still acting."
I paused the game and looked back at him. I had wanted a presence on the Web for a long time, but I didn’t have the skills to build a website. I’d been given the names of several designers, but wanted to do the whole thing myself, for better or for worse.
"Oh my god. That’s a fantastic idea! Maybe we’ll even get noticed by Hollywood again!"
"Just make sure you make the website edgy." He said.
"If you were real, I’d cock-punch you for that." I said.
I quit the game, and went to Yahoo! Geocities where I created an account called “tvswilwheaton.” (Get it? "TV’s Wil Wheaton!" Because I’m still on TV, except I’m not.) Because I had absolutely no idea how to write HTML, and I knew nothing about tables, CSS, RSS feeds, or the W3C, I spent the next few hours clumsily learning my way around the Yahoo! Pagebuilder. I used their WYSIWYG editor to Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake — ahem — “design” my very first webpage. The result was incredibly lame, but it was mine. I named it “Where’s My Burrito?” after one of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons.
When it was done, Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake and I shared a high-five. I was proud of what I’d created and I posted a link to it in a small Wil Wheaton online fan club and wondered if anyone would care.
Boy, did they care! I had over 700 visitors in a couple weeks, without being listed in a single search engine. The response excited me, and I started updating the site quite frequently, by hand-coding “news updates” into the main page.
I soon traded those news updates for this thing called a blog. I liked writing the blog so much, I eventually started my own website where I could update the blog more regularly. Just like Where’s My Burrito? it was lame, but it was mine. On the advice of my friend Loren, I moved the blog to the front page, and eventually made it the centerpiece of the entire site. Neither of us knew it at the time, but with that advice, Loren dropped a pebble into a pond, and the ripples it created have been incredible.
As I write this post today, on a day very much like the one I started writing the manuscript for Just A Geek, which lead to Dancing Barefoot, which lead to writing for the AV Club, which lead to writing for TV Squad, which lead to writing the Star Trek Manga, which lead to . . . well, everything else that I love about my work now, the whole thing feels kind of surreal. When I started that silly little page at Geocities six years ago, I had no idea that it would lead me down the path I walk today. If you’d asked me back then what I thought I’d be doing in six years, my answer would have included something about acting, even though I was having serious doubts in the dark of night about my ability to support my family while trying to be a full-time actor.
I never expected that I’d become a full-time writer, but today, I can’t imagine doing anything different with my life. In fact, as long as I get to keep doing voice acting, I don’t really care if I’m ever on camera again. Telling stories about the things that unite us and celebrating all things geek seems to be my purpose in life. I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile that matters to people, if your comments and e-mails are any indication, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. They say that making a living doing what you love is how you know you’re living the dream. If that’s true, I don’t ever want to wake up.
The manga signing at Golden Apple last night was awesome. We drew a very large crowd by comic book in-store signing standards, and it was more like an informal party than anything else.
I’m telling you, if you’re local and into comics or Star Trek, you should come out to one of these things, because we have a lot of fun getting our geek on.
At last night’s event, the SoCal contingent of Enforcers from PAX was in full effect, so we posed for a picture to protect our rep against the Seattle Enforcers, who I understand are always taunting the SoCal Enforcers with tales of awesome. Well, who’s awesome now, beeches?!
I also got to meet filmmaker John Singleton, who was on his way to a dinner, but stopped to get his comics on the way.
"Wow, I am a huge admirer of your work," I said when we were introduced.
"I’m an admirer of yours, as well," he said, and I could tell that he meant it. A lifetime in the entertainment industry has given me a nearly flawless bullshit detector, and I was totally floored by his sincerity.
I stayed at the shop until they closed down, and picked up Batman #668, which will wrap up Grant Morrison’s outstanding run on the series. I also grabbed a 100 Bullets trade, a 1602 hardcover, and a book for Nolan called The Big Book of Hoaxes, which I think he’ll like. I now have so many unread comics, trade paperback, and graphic novels, I will have to take a full day to do nothing but read them. It’s a sacrifice, I know, but I’m willing to make it. Stiff upper lip and all that.
I met a bunch of people from TokyoPop, including the publisher. In the film and television world, this would be the equivalent of meeting a network or studio head, and those guys are always douchebags, but Mike from TokyoPop was a cool guy. In fact, everyone from TokyoPop was cool, and I felt like I was talking to people who are in this because they’re passionate about the work and excited about the future of Manga in America.
The first volume really had a fan fiction feel to it, and frankly, the
art work left a lot to be desired in many cases. In this volume, the
stories have more punch, and the design is better. Perhaps some of the
talent behind the stories is to account for this. One of the writers
is Wil Wheaton- yes, that Wil Wheaton of TNG fame. He shows he has the
right stuff as a writer for the franchise with his work “Cura Te Ipsum”
which headlines the book. Damaged engines, Scotty getting new crystals
from the middle of a war zone, and McCoy wrestling with his conscience
and the Prime Directive whilst seeing a civilization tear itself apart
are prominent elements in the classic tale that could easily have been
an episode in the original series. You can see the author has caught
the essence of what the classic shows were all about and has cleverly
distilled it in a compact manga format.
Dude! I’m 2 for 2! Awesome.
Our next stop is at the West Hollywood Bookfair this Sunday, where we’ll have a Q&A, then we’re down in Manhattan Beach next week at Comic Bug for the final comic shop stop on the tour.
My printer shipped a limited number of The Happiest Days of Our Lives to me earlier this year, so I could take them with me to the various conventions I appeared at over the Summer.
The remainder of the first printing arrived about twenty minutes ago, and it’s quite fitting that I feel the way I did in this picture:
Note: There’s a time change for Golden Apple. It’s updated below.
Hi, I’m Wil, and I like blog post titles that are obnoxiously long. Thanks for stopping by, San Diego.
Star Trek: The Manga – Kakan ni Shinkou has been released, and is showing up in comic shops and book stores all over the place. I had a bit of a squee moment this weekend when Nolan and I found it in a Borders, marking the first time in my life as a writer that one of my books was stocked in the correct section.
My story kicks off the collection, and is described by Comic Book Bin thusly:
In Cura Te Ipsum, the U.S.S. Enterprise
is crippled, far away from the nearest Federation Starbase, and badly
in need of dilithium crystals. They find dilithium on a planet in the
middle of a brutal civil war/blood feud. Captain James T. Kirk
sees an opportunity to guide the planet’s warring factions towards
peace, but will he be violating the Federation’s Prime Directive not to
interfere in the affairs of non-Federation planets?
Comic Book Bin gives us an A-, and says:
Star Trek: the
manga – Kakan ni Shinkou rings true enough to be more than fan fiction,
and for all practical purposes contains some of the best Star Trek
comics ever done. Veteran Trek creator Diane Duane, Trek actor Wil
Wheaton, rising star of manga Bettina Kurkoski deliver star
performances with their contributions to this volume.
I’ll be at Golden Apple Comics this Wednesday with many of the other writers and artists for a Q&A and signing as we continue our SoCal tour:
Wednesday, September 26
7711 Melrose Ave., Hollywood
The softcovers of The Happiest Days of Our Lives have just shipped, according to my printer, so I should be able to start taking orders next week. The limited edition hardcovers are taking much longer, and won’t be here until the week of October 8, but I think it’s close enough that I can start taking pre-orders for both versions next week.
I’m talking with David Lawrence about doing an audio version. We’re hoping to record the first week of October, so it’s ready to go at the same time as the printed versions.
Since I’m doing this book entirely on my own, I’m going to be drawing heavily on community support to help promote it, starting right now: if you got The Happiest Days of Our Lives this summer from one of my convention appearances, would you let me know what you thought, so I can make sure my marketing efforts reflect what readers are getting from the book?
From the people I’ve talked to already, I’m starting to get the sense that it inspires nostalgic memories of their own, which leads to discussing a lot of the shared experiences we who grew up in the 70s and came of age in the 80s share: Star Wars figures, video games, RPGS, things like that. I also hear that even if you’ve read these stories online, it’s an entirely different experience to read them in print.
Questions? Comments? You know what to do.
Today is Towel Day, a day when all geeks can carry their towels with them in tribute to the hoopiest frood of them all, Douglas Adams.
I absolutely love that I’m recording an all-geek podcast on this most sacred of days.
Updated: Oh! You know what I love even more? Spending 2.5 hours working on the podcast, then losing the entire thing to some weird confluence of system lockups and crashes.
I’m taking a long, long, long don’t-break-anything walk, and I’ll try again in the morning. Sigh.
Anne and Ryan were out on Friday, which left Nolan and me to goof off at home when I got back from working on Legion of Super Heroes.
But when I got home, the goddamn pine tree in the front yard dropped a huge ball of pollen down on my car, and I spent the next four hours on the couch sneezing and trying to fight off the allergy-induced headache that felt like it was going to split my head in twain. Good times. Good times.
Nolan ended up playing Diablo II while I watched the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles pwn the Los Angeles Angels of Not Los Angeles Because We Play In Orange County But Our Idiot Owner Wants To Have Los Angeles In Our Name Because He’s A Moron.
For those of you who missed the sixth inning massacre, the final board was:
LAD – 16 25 1
LAANLABWPOCBOIOWHLAIOWBHAM: 3 10 2
Of course, the Dodgers did their best to blow their fifteen run lead, by letting Carter come in and give up three hits and a run, and though I normally don’t like games that are total blowouts, watching the Dodgers on the winning side of it for a change, and especially at the expense of the stupid Angels who swept us last year, was awesome. I should also add that the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles shutout the Los Angeles Because We Play In Orange County But Our Idiot Owner Wants To Have Los Angeles In Our Name Because He’s A Moron to complete the sweep, and move up to 1/2 a game out of first in what is probably the weakest division this side of 7 year-olds playing little league.
Speaking of the Dodgers, yesterday, my dad took me to Chavez Ravine for some LAD vs LAANLABWPOCBOIOWHLAIOWBHAM action, and it was awesome. There are pictures in my buzznet blog, including a shot of Tommy Lasorda, who is the closest to royalty you’ll see at Dodger Stadium, who got a standing ovation from our entire section when he walked from his seat to wherever it is you go when you’re Tommy Fucking Lasorda and you rule.
Anyway, back to Friday: After the only team on the field worthy of having Los Angeles in their name blew the game wide open, I picked up my bag of comics from Free Comic Book Day, and finally had a look at the books I picked up. Most of them were a solid "meh," but that’s the whole point of FCBD: to see new stuff that may not excite everyone, but introduce new readers to new material. If you’re a guy like me who is already pretty narrow in tastes, it’s unlikely you’re going to find much that excites you. However, there were a few things that I really liked that I’ll pick up next time I’m at my friendly local comics shop:
Around ten, my antihistamines finally started to work, and my headache began to subside as it was overtaken by drowsiness. I fell asleep watching Dark City, which is still a hell of a lot of fun to watch, whether you’ve got a head filled with antihistamines or not.
Today, Anne and I opened up a new front in the War on Shit All Over Our House and Yard (Operation Enduring Yardwork) and pruned the hell out of a tree in the front yard, as well as tearing out all the weeds that had attempted to establish a beachhead in one of our front yard planters. Rain threatened all day today, but never arrived, which was great, because the combination of breeze and humidity provided just the right level of comfort for fighting the forces of Bermuda grass and their allies the tree-looking things that spring up all over the goddamn place. In a fit of planning ahead, I did my best Sean Penn imitation and snorted a whole bunch of Flonase (relax, I have a prescription) before I started the work today, and I was able to work for about five hours before simple exhaustion overcame me (rather than the sneezing and allergy-related misery I experienced Friday night.)
After all my yard work was done, I decided to take a break and play a little poker at PokerStars, so I hopped into a 4-player heads-up sit-n-go (I was inspired after watching the Heads-up Championship on NBC this morning.) I really like those matches, because most of the players at the lower buy-ins are very straightforward (so you know your pair of kings is no good when they bet into you on an A-high board) and you only have to beat two players to win three buy-ins, instead of 8 players in a regular sit-n-go. At one point, my first round opponent had me down to just a few big blinds, but I got insanely lucky and bounced back, tilting him in the process and taking it down. My second round opponent had the classic online tell: he’d check the "check/fold" box when he was in the BB if he didn’t like his hand, so I’d call and if he insta-checked, I knew I could bet no matter what on the flop and get him to fold. I rode the right combination of luck and trusting my reads to victory, turning my mighty five dollar buy-in into twenty dollars when I flopped TP and a flush draw with AT and got him to call me with KT when my flush missed.
Okay, now it’s time to go watch The Simpsons, in the lame hope that it manges to be funny this week.
Uh, okay, the whole opening bit with the attacking couches? Brilliant. Even if the rest of the show veers off into that weird Jesusland they’ve been hitting so frequently this season, that was worth the price of admission.
Wait. The baseball bit? Very funny. This "homer is the relationship counselor" bit? The polar opposite of funny. Are they hiring old 1970s sit-com writers? This is like a rejected Three’s Company script. Give me another monorail, please. Please, I beg you.
I‘ve been too busy to write about some cool things that I’ve
experienced, recently. I’m taking the next few hours to catch up . . .
Free Comic Book Day
In 2003, I took Ryan and Nolan to Free Comic Book Day at my local comic shop, Comics Factory in Pasadena (Colorado, just West of Hill, if you’re ever in the area). It’s a great shop, run by people who love comics and really take care of their customers.
FCBD is exactly what it sounds like: a day when you get to choose from a bunch of different comics — for free — at your friendly local comic shop. The idea is to get new people interested in reading comics and graphic novels, as well as convincing current readers to give a different book or genre a risk-free try. (Note to industry: how about Free Game Day?)
When I took the kids two years ago, they picked up a bunch of X-Men and Batman and stuff, and were really into comic books for about three weeks before losing interest and returning to Harry Potter (Ryan) and Reading Sucks (Nolan, who has grown into quite the reader in the last 1 months) I, on the other hand, picked up Fables, which is the coolest Vertigo title since Sandman, and found my love of comic books re-kindled. For most of a year, I went into the comic shop twice a month and picked up new books and read them all. I was terribly sad when I had to admit that I couldn’t justify the time and money invested, though, and I didn’t read much more than a few graphic novels for most of 2005.
So I have a pile of great books from Free Comic Book Day that I think
I’m going to read this afternoon, as soon as I finish my writing
commitments for today.
Uh-oh. Commence rambling:
I love to watch and read Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I love to play geeky games like Illuminati and Talisman and Frank’s Zoo. I love to read comic books, and I wish I had the time to paint 40K armies and go to gaming cons and comic cons and just be a total nerd. I want to go for a hike to Echo Mountain, and I want to go Geocaching. I wish I had time to go out to plays and hear live music and see midnight movies and take my family on trips to see things like Yellowstone and the Smithsonian, or just go to the beach and enjoy one of the reasons we still live in Southern California.
Somewhere in the last couple of years, I’ve allowed my sense of responsibility and my need to be a good father, husband, and provider completely overwhelm me. I’ve lost a sense of Balance in my life, and all those cool nerdy things that defined me for so much of my life are struggling to get up there and have the floor, too.
When I went to Free Comic Book Day this year, I felt a connection to some of the happiest days of my life, those days when I sat on the floor at Darin’s house and we read Sandman, and Killing Joke, and Dark Knight Returns together. The smell of paper and cardboard and books and that nerd-funk that can’t be described reminded me of all the hours I spent in game stores like The Last Grenadier, and the hours I spent at home reading Uncle Albert’s and rolling up GURPS characters, just because I could.
I fully realize that an adult with two kids and a mortgage can’t have the sort of time and freedom to goof off the way he did when he was a teenager, but I think there has to be some way, even as an adult, to find Balance, and give yourself permission to goof off from time to time. You know that saying, "We don’t stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing"? I grok.
Oh, which actually brings up another interesting observation: In On Writing, Stephen King says that you can’t expect to be a creative writer if you don’t make the time to read. All the really good poker players I know say a similar thing about playing cards: if you don’t make time to study your game, and talk with other players who you respect, you can’t expect to play your best game. The same thing goes for athletes; they say that Tony Gwynn and Ted Williams took more batting practice than anyone else on their teams, and Michael Jordan spent more time practicing free throws and anyone else on the Bulls. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
I wrote earlier today about not having time, and feeling like there isn’t enough time for things, and I think the conclusion I’ve reached from this already-too-long post is that we have to give ourselves permission to make time for the things we really want to do. In my case, I need to have full access to my creative brain. Fear is the enemy of creativity, and I have to just stop being afraid of not providing for my family enough, so, uh, I can write some creative things that will provide for us.
That segues nicely into part three, coming later.