This was shot by my friend Rich, presumably while I was driving home from Comic-Con. This video is awesome, but it makes me sad because it reminds me of one of the best things ever about working on TNG (Jonathan Frakes breaking into show tunes at random intervals) and it reminds me that I saw Jonathan at Comic-Con, but I couldn't get close enough to him to say hello.
COMICMIX: Okay, Wil, as a writer and reader of comics, what makes a good story to you?
WIL WHEATON: Comics are a visual medium, so the artwork is extremely important to me. There are tremendously talented writers who occasionally get paired up with artists whose art I don't like. And I won't read those books.
There are artists and writers who collaborate together. Matt [Fraction] gives Casanova artist Gabriel Ba as much credit for Casanova being awesome as people give Matt for making Casanova awesome. Ed [Brubaker] does the same thing with Criminal. And I think that says a lot about the importance of a good team-up. I'm lucky.
I've gotten to work with some great artists when I've done manga for TokyoPop.I don't know if the stories I've written would have the same emotional impact with the reader with different art. That really, really important combination of peanut butter and chocolate is really important to making comic books great.
Um. Wil? How about you answer the goddamn question?
What makes a book -- just a standard book -- very good, is the story and the dialogue and the interaction of the characters. So what makes a comic book great is those ingredients all put together, matched up with good pacing and really good artwork. A lot of the Alan Moore comics have all these wonderful elements that make reading comics fun, too. Top Ten is like playing "Where's Waldo," because after you've read the story you can go back through and read it again. Or if you read Watchmen and see the issues, there's the Rorschach issue that's in the middle where it mirrors itself -- that kind of stuff. A book like Sin City that uses positive and negative space really creatively, that's a great book, too.
Of course, I should disclaim all this stuff. I recently wrote that I was worried about the new Star Trek movie being good, and I was vilified by Star Trek fans for having the temerity for expressing an opinion about this. Like I don't deserve to have an opinion about this.
This is the end of about 2 hours of me and Chris talking, and this final part feels rambling to me, which is probably how I felt when we'd talked for about 2 hours. I got to talk about technology a little bit, though, which was kind of cool:
CMix: What about the one piece of technology you can't live without?
WW: The technology I can't live without? Does encryption count as technology? It would have to be encryption. Think about the Internet without encryption. Absolutely no shopping online at all. None. Ever.
Not a single financial transaction would be possible without encryption.
Sure, there are things that I like that are fun. But can't live without? I could not live without encryption -- and to make it clear, I'm talking about open source public encryption. R.S.A. standards.
Yay standards! Yay for stating the obvious! Yay for Neil Gaiman writing Batman next year!
Oh, my favorite part of the interview is when I go on and on about my creative process. It's really too long to excerpt, but I promise it's worth the effort to go read the whole interview at Comicmix.
See what I did there?
Ryan goes back to school in just under 2 weeks, and I've been bugging him to play the Endless Setlist with me on Rock Band before he leaves.
If you're unfamiliar with Rock Band's multiplayer thing, the Endless Setlist is the last thing you unlock in the game when you're playing as a band. It is exactly what it sounds like: a concert featuring all 58 songs that come with the game. It takes about six hours to play if you don't take any extended breaks.
Today, Ryan and I tackled it on expert. He played guitar, and I played bass. It was awesome. We got five stars on pretty much everything for the first 20 or so songs, including three gold stars. I got the authentic strummer thing and 99% on about half of them.
We were seriously having a good time, striking the rock pose, putting our backs together while we jammed through epic songs, bonding through the power of rock.
Then, with five songs left to go, we got to Green Grass and High Tides.
For those of you unfamiliar with Rock Band, this is a fantastic southern rock song by the Outlaws. It's also one of the hardest in the game, and the longest, weighing in at around 10 minutes. It's a song that you don't play as much as survive, and it does its best to really beat you down. If a song could kick you in the junk, this would be it. If this song were a poker game, it would be Razz.
So, after already playing for 5 hours, (and not exactly conserving our energy) we started to play this rock epic, knowing it would be the greatest challenge we'd faced yet.
Our first time through, we failed at 84%. It was entirely my fault for holding my guitar too high and deploying our emergency overdrive when we didn't need it.
"Sorry about that," I said as we lost 360,000 fans. "I blame my guitar."
Ryan looked at me.
"Okay, I blame myself."
Ryan laughed and said it was no big deal. He was confident we'd get it on the next try, and when we started the song, I could see why. He was in the zone, nailing 97% of the first solo. I wanted to holler about how awesome he was, but I felt like it would have been the same as talking to my pitcher in the middle of a no-hitter, so I stayed quiet and did my best not to screw things up.
I screwed things up, and we failed the song at 96%. We lost another 360,000 fans, almost wiping out the million we'd picked up when we did the Southern Rock Marathon last week. Compared to the nearly 5 and a half hours we'd spent playing, that 18 minutes wasn't that long, but it sure felt demoralizing, especially because it was, again, entirely my fault we'd failed. See, there's this bass phrase that's repeated over and over and over, and if you're just a tiny bit off (like I was) you're screwed, and . . . well, you get the point.
I dropped my hands to my side and let the guitar hand around my neck. My arms were tired, my legs hurt, and my vision was getting blurry.
"I think I've identified the weak link in our band, and it's me," I said. "I'm really sorry."
"It's okay," Ryan said, "but I think I want to take a break."
"Good idea," I said. "Let's pause this, go out for something to eat, and come back later."
Ryan walked into his room and turned on his shower. I unplugged my guitar so we didn't have to worry about our dogs knocking it down and starting the game again while we were gone.
In my memory, the next few moments happen in slow motion:
Ryan came out of his room.
"What happened?" He said.
I told him.
What happened next was astonishing to me: Ryan didn't freak out. He didn't get upset. Instead, he told me, "Calm down, Wil. It's just a game. We can do it again."
I was still really upset. It was an accident, yes, but it was my fault. In my head, I kept replaying all the different ways I could have powered down his guitar that were more careful. I really felt like an asshole, because I screwed up twice and caused us to fail both times. I felt like an asshole, because I screwed up and lost all the progress we'd made. Mostly, though, I felt like an asshole because I really wanted to accomplish this feat with my son. I really wanted to have that memory.
What I got, though, was better than what I'd hoped for. I got to see Ryan exhibit one of the key values I'd raised him with: he kept everything in perspective, and found all the good things in the experience, like the gold stars we scored, the fun we had playing all the other songs, and the time we spent together. He reminded me that it's not about winning, it's about playing the game.
If you've read my blog for any amount of time, I'm sure you can appreciate how great it felt to hear my words and my values come out of my son's mouth.
I don't write about my boys very often these days. Their friends read my blog, and they sometimes read my blog. They're not little kids any more and I feel like it's not cool to talk about everything we do together with the Internet . . .
. . . but in this case, I'm making an exception.
I lived in Houston from 1976 to 1978 while my dad went to the Texas Heart Institute. All I remember about it is fire ants and thunderstorms.
Tomorrow night, at a place called Domy Books in Houston, there's going to be a free screening of Stand By Me. I don't know anything about this bookstore, but Houstonist says that it's the bookstore you've been looking for your entire life, whether you knew it or not. Based on the domy books flickr stream, I'd say it looks like a pretty cool place.
I kinda wish I'd known about this a month ago, so I could have talked to the store owner about sending some autographed copies of my books, but alas, alack, 'twas not to be.
Anyway, if you're in or near Houston and you want to see a free screening of Stand By Me in a bookstore/gallery that looks awesome, you can get all the details from Houstonist. Which is a funny name for a blog, like: "I can't believe you said that about fire ants and thunderstorms! You are such a Houstonist!"
Please note that I know about LAist, Gothamist, etc., and was just making a joke, which is now even less funny than it already was, because I explained it.
Please also note that this is a great opportunity for parents to introduce appropriately-aged kids to a great movie, great art, and great books all in the same place, which is kind of great.
I'm home from Comic-Con, and in that weird state where I'm too tired to be coherent, but too adrenalized to go to sleep. It's pretty common to feel this way (like I've eaten a bag of Guatemalan Insanity Peppers) at the end of a long day at a con. There's an accumulative effect, though, for epic shows like PAX and Comic-Con, and after thee days there plus a 2 hour drive home, my dogs are speaking to me in Johnny Cash's voice. Also, someone's built a pro shop shaped like a pyramid in my back yard, the doll's trying to kill me, and the toaster's been laughing at me.
So. Until I can get my pictures uploaded and my thoughts organized, I thought I'd share this interview I did with Mahalo Daily from the Dumbrella booth yesterday. I'm slightly more coherent then, than I am now.
It's so weird to have this great week working on Criminal Minds that I can't talk about in any detail until October. I have no mouth, and I must scream, you could say. How about I just give up one little non-spoilery thing, and nobody tells on me, okay?
At the end of the shoot, I was thanking a lot of the people I worked with for making it such a great experience. Every single one of them told me that they wished I worked on the show every day. I guess the feeling was mutual.
So, yeah, that made me feel pretty good. If you get a chance to work on Criminal Minds, I highly recommend it.
Now, to business:
Tomorrow, I'm heading down to San Diego for an abbreviated stay at Comic-Con. Here's my schedule:
Oh. I guess it would be useful to know what I'm taking with me to sign and sell, wouldn't it?
In addition to some 8x10s from Star Trek and Stand By Me, I'll have copies of The Happiest Days of Our Lives , which I'm kind of hoping will sell out.
I'll have a few copies of Dancing Barefoot and Just A Geek. I'll also have a few copies of Volume 2 of the Star Trek Manga. I won't have any copies of Volume 3 of the Star Trek Manga, but it's just been released, so I'm sure you'll be able to pick up a copy somewhere. If you bring it to the booth, I'm happy to sign it for you.
Finally, I will have copies of this year's Chapbook, which is called Sunken Treasure. What's that, you say? You don't know what that is? You don't have time to click a link, you say? Well, my lazy friend, allow me to show you part of the author's note:
Every summer, I make one of these limited chapbooks and take them with me on the inevitable summer convention tour. In the past, I’ve pulled material from whatever I’m working on, as sort of a fall preview, but this year the book I’m working on is so top secret, I’d have to print the chapbook on self-destructing paper, and while that would make it a very limited edition, the costs associated are kind of prohibitive.
So for 2008’s limited edition chapbook extravaganza, I’ve put together the first ever Wil Wheaton Sampler. With the help of my editor Andrew, who is a former ninja warrior and recreational time traveler, I’ve pulled together things I like from all three of my books, my blog, and this groovy collaborative fiction project I play with called Ficlets. I’ve also included, for the first time anywhere, one of the scripts I wrote for a sketch comedy show at the ACME Comedy Theater.
I am really proud of Sunken Treasure, and I think Andrew (my friend and editor) and I came up with something really special. I only sold about a dozen of them at San Jose Super-Con (there really weren't that many people there this year) and since I'm not welcome at the Creation convention in Vegas, the only places you can get copies of it will be Comic-Con and PAX. I'm anxious to get these little books out into the wild, though, so I hope you'll tell everyone you know, for a grand total of 150 people (you guys can coordinate this, right?) to come by the Dumbrella booth and check it out. It's so weird to make something I'm so proud of, and only get to share it with a handful of people so far.
I don't know if I'll be particularly motivated to post while I'm away. I'll likely be posting all sorts of things to Twitter, including where I am and when I'll be signing. There will also be pithy observations about my fellow geeks, so you don't want to miss that. Erm, provided I can avoid the fail whale, that is. Ahem.
The Internet is quiet as hell lately. I feel like I'm talking into an empty tube, so thanks for reading and commenting; it makes me feel a little less like a crazy old man with no pants standing on the corner ranting about the weather.
The second part of my interview with Comicmix is online, wherein I say things like:
I was one of the earliest Mac adopters. I had a Mac 128K in the first few months of its release. [. . .] I loved that computer. It was portable, which is funny to say now, because it only weighed like, 20-30 pounds. It had a handle on the top, so clearly, it was portable.
I don't ever want to lose the experience of going to the comic shop on Wednesday and walking around -- even if I'm only there to get two books. Spending 40 minutes looking at everything and talking to the other geeks that are there and having the owner of the comic shop say, "I know you normally don't read this, but based on the years of you coming here I think you'd like it," I really like that.
CMix: Do you read any of the Star Trek comics at all?
CMix: No desire to or you just don't care?
WW: It's not that I have no desire. It's not that I don't care. It's that I have a limited amount of time and I have to choose really carefully where I invest that time. If I'm forced to choose between a Star Trek comic or Criminal, I just enjoy Criminal more, so...
Um. In other words, I have no desire and I don't care, I guess. That sounds really harsh, but . . . well, I just don't know how to finish that without feeling like a dick. I guess that I like Star Trek a lot, but not enough to read the novels and comic books.
. . . yep, feeling like a dick right now.
Point of clarification: In the interview, I say "I've been reading Batman since Grant Morrison started working on it, because there are a few guys in the world that I'll read anything by. Grant Morrison does Teletubbies, I'm there." This makes it sound like I started reading Batman when Grant Morrison's run began, but I've actually been reading Batman since around 1987 or 1988.
You can read the entire interview (part two of three) at Comicmix. You may also want to read part one. Hell, for all I know, you may want to look at a picture of a duck*. Go nuts, I'm not the boss of you.
*I really wanted to link to a SFW picture of Jenna Jameson there, but I was pretty sure I'd get letters if I did.
Hey, check it out! I found a tube that goes right into the studio, so I can ride the Internets while I'm between scenes!
Today is the day I've been waiting for since I booked this job. Today is the day that I get to really tear into this character, and mainline the good stuff that keeps actors coming back for more, chasing the dramatic dragon until we die. I was so excited to work today, I hardly slept at all last night, and woke up this morning before my alarm went off. I haven't felt like this since I was a little kid at Christmas.
God, I miss this. I didn't know how much I missed it until last week, but holy shit do I miss this. This cast, this crew, these writers, this director, this whole show is just incredible. I'm truly lucky to be here, and I'm so grateful that I can appreciate it, and not take it for granted like I would have ten years ago.
I wish I could say more about today's work. I wish I could identify and compliment the incredible actors I'm working with. I wish I could go into great detail about why I'm so excited to do what I'm doing today, but it'll have to wait until this episode airs in October.
I'll never stop writing, but I can't deny that there's a part of me who will always be an actor, and I owe it all to the people I've worked with on this show.
I thought I was out, but they pulled me back in!
We've been shooting nights this week on Criminal Minds, and I've worked every single day, which doesn't leave any time to write, or do much of anything else. I got home at 4 this morning, didn't fall asleep until 5, and then had to explain to my dogs that, no, just because I was in bed and the sun was coming up, I'm not interested in getting up to do stuff with them.
So I only got to sleep for seven disturbed hours, and I feel like I'm on the road to Bat Country right now. Luckily for me, I don't go to set until 5:30 tonight, and I don't have any dialog today.
Despite the havoc the last few days have unleashed on my body (which is very confused by the hours I'm forcing it to keep, and [spoiler]) I have loved every second of the experience.
I'm keeping a production diary, which I can't release until my episode airs in October, but I can safely say that working on this show, with this cast and crew, creating this character, has reawakened my slumbering love of acting. I'll have more to say about that when I can really analyze how I feel about it and why. (short short version: I miss the camaraderie of being in a cast, and I'd forgotten how good it feels to discover interesting moments with the director, writers, and other actors. I work best while collaborating, it seems.)
Anyway, I feel so blurry that the doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's laughing at me, so I'm going to sign off. But before I do, a couple of things:
Have a great weekend, everyone!