Rambling On

Anthony R. Cardno's Fiction and Commentary

Archive for the ‘pop culture bloggers’ Category

One of the first folks I met on Twitter that I didn’t already know in real life was Zack Tremblay. Zack was just starting to make a name for himself as an music interviewer and reporter. In the past year he’s exploded, interviewing everyone in his age range from Justin Bieber to Allstar Weekend. He’s an authentic guy, truly passionate about the performers whose work he loves. I owe Zack a big thanks: if I hadn’t seen him tweet about Burnham, I’d not have gotten to know their music and more importantly the entire Burnham family.

Zack Tremblay

I conducted this interview with Zack a few weeks ago, and then dropped the ball and didn’t run it as quickly as I’d intended. So here it is. Thanks for being patient, Zack!

ANTHONY: Hey, Zack, thanks for letting me turn the tables and interview you. We’ve chatted on Twitter and Facebook informally, but this is our first “official” chat. So first off: you’re making quite a name for yourself as an interviewer. How did you get started down this road?

ZACK: I got started about a year ago! I actually inteviewed one of my good friends Ayla Brown from American Idol. After posting it people just kept asking if I had more interviews and I just decided to keep it going. I landed my first big interview with Hollywood Records recording artist Jesse McCartney which really kicked off my career in the entertainment industry.

ANTHONY: What’s been the biggest factor in your growth as an interviewer?

ZACK: I watch a lot of my interviews back, I always find an area that need improvement! If you were to watch one of my first interviews from a year ago and then watch one of my interviews now you can see the growth and my improvement in some areas.

ANTHONY: You’ve interviewed a lot of interesting up-and-coming musicians, so let’s play some word association. First word that pops into your mind when you think of:

Justin Bieber – Swag lol
Burnham – Brothers
KE$HA – the dollar sign
Allstar Weekend – Good Friends
Katelyn Tarver – Big Time Rush
Christina Grimmie – Piano & Selena Gomez
Zack Montana – Radio Disney
Jesse McCartney – Had It All

ANTHONY: Who are your dream ‘gets,’ the folks you’re dying to interview?

ZACK: I’d love to sit down with Taylor Swift!

ANTHONY: Tell us a bit about “Tremblay Tonight.”

ZACK: ‘Tremblay Tonight’ is my new series that premiered earlier this month! I have been planning this for quite some time and I have some exiting things in the works!

ANTHONY: How often will we be seeing new Tremblay Tonight episodes?

ZACK: You can catch ‘Tremblay Tonight’ every Sunday Night at 8/7c on my Official YouTube Page! One last thing: you can catch the 2011 ZMT Awards Presented by ‘Tremblay Tonight’ on December 18, 2011 at 8/7c! Special guests, performers and more TBA!

ANTHONY: You started up a charity group a while back. How’s that developing, and what can people do to be involved?

ZACK: ‘Tremblay Wings’ has been going really well! I kicked things off last month with a Charity event for Hasbro Children’s Hospital and ended up raising over $1,000! I have some big things in the works and I am currently planning something special for the Make a Wish foundation! And opportunities to help out with ‘Tremblay Wings’ will be coming real soon.

ANTHONY: You know I have to ask: are you related to mystery/noir author Paul G. Tremblay?

ZACK: No. lol

ANTHONY: And my usual final question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who has not read it in order to convince them that they should?

ZACK: I have to be honest, I don’t read very often but I have read the twilight series and all I have to say about that is: if you enjoy the movies you will like the books 10000 time better!

Finally I would like to say thank you to all my fans #TeamZackTremblay you guys are amazing and I would not be doing what I’m doing without the love and support you guys give me every day! I have some very exciting things coming up that I can’t speak of just yet but trust me you guys are going to be in for a wonderful surprise and thank you Anthony for always supporting me! You’re awesome –Z

ANTHONY: Thanks, Zack! Best of luck, and let’s talk again soon!

You can find Zack on Facebook, follow him on Twitter as @ZackTremblay, view Tremblay Tonight and other interviews on Zack’s Youtube channel, and visit his official website.

Here’s the video for the first annual ZMT Awards that Zack mentions in our interview:


The following is my first Guest Post, by my good friend Jason O’Donnell.

Image credit: (cc) Some rights reserved by Ford Buchanan

Following is the start of a conversation between me and my dear friend and published author, Mr. Anthony Cardno. I encourage you all to read through my comments to Anthony below and jump in the conversation with your own suggestions, insights, and experiences. This is, of course, a discussion, not the end all be all of twitter etiquette.

Anthony pondered on Twitter: “Wondering what I’m doing wrong that even when I ask for a RT, very few of them happen. Am I missing something RT-etiquette-wise?”

Not surprisingly, I have some very particular ideas about this specific behaviour (based on my experiences working in social business) and quickly replied with the following:

Jason to @talekyn Yes. Don’t ask. If your content is compelling, RTs will happen. Asking is seen as intrusive.
Anthony to @acdntlpoet Makes sense. And you know I very rarely ask. Which means apparently most of what I tweet is not compelling.
Jason to @talekyn kind of. Also depends on your audience, reach, etc… We can take this to a much more in-depth conversation 😉

Obviously, that’s no where near the end of the discussion. Simply said, there is no single answer to this question. People are making their living as consultants telling you how to to do just this. Not one of them has the right answer in a an easy to distribute formula; because the answer isn’t really formulaic.
As I noted above in my initial reply, the key to seeing your content re-shared is to put forward compelling contents. Oh, but if only the answer were so easy! While I can tell you at a high level what will get your content shared out, it all falls apart in the details and subtleties and actual implementation/ practical application; because not all content is created equal.

But let me step back for a moment and address etiquette before moving on into some best practices: Asking via Twitter for others to retweet you is seen as bad manners, neediness, and laziness. More to the point, it is a bit more indicative of immaturity in the space, or evidence of the size of your network (add totally inappropriate size queen joke at will). By immaturity in the space, I mean that coming from an individual I will see these requests in the same light as I see forwarded emails asking me to “keep the chain going”, or Facebook status updates asking to “post this to your status if you agree / just for one hour”, etc. From a corporate account, it just comes off as poor marketing strategy.

Exposing the size of your network isn’t really a big deal in and of itself (I can see your numbers in any space I play). Rather, asking for RTs presents the impression of a smaller and/or less engaged network, minimal confidence in your message, and generally short selling yourself. Now, I am not saying that asking for a RT is going to leave people with the impression that you are just a speck in the world, but I AM saying that it is one small action which builds how people perceive you when combined with other small actions and methods of presenting yourself.

Yes, I am talking from a more marketing centric approach, with a few assumptions in terms of how you use social media to connect with your audience and spread your message. The assumption is that you are a different type of user, one who is building a personal brand and using social avenues to build up your name and digital eminence. Obviously, if you are just using social media to stay in contact with friends and family, then the concern over perception won’t really apply. But, perception is big for driving and motivating others to share your content.

Rather than continuing to focus on the negatives of asking for RTs, let’s rather focus on what you CAN do to get people to share your content. There’s a great presentation here (http://nytmarketing.whsites.net/mediakit/pos/ ) on the psychology of sharing. From this presentation we can see that one of the biggest factors is determining how the information we are sharing will be useful to the recipient. Take this the next step and you can translate this into your own content by providing that clarity to the person you’re sharing with, so they can in turn re-share easily.

Let me take an example:
@talekyn: Two medical causes are important to me: Cancer and Juvenile Diabetes. Read my diabetes interview with 9yo Frank John:anthonycardno.com/?p=276
Good content here, and likely worthy of a retweet, but I have two problems:
1. It is passive… ok, so these are important to you. They are indeed important issues, but I am not compelled to RT immediately because there isn’t a real message here.
2. I have to click and read to determine if I want to RT. That is going to take some time, and I may lose the originating tweet before I am done with the interview.

Presuming the interview is compelling enough for me to want to RT it, I now need to go back to find the tweet to pass it on (or, one better, tweet/retweet from within the blog post itself). Most people won’t go back to twitter to retweet unless the content is REALLY moving. A well composed tweet that will compel a stranger to read your content will also be compelling enough to garner retweets with out specifically asking for them. Compelling content which resonates with others to the point where they want to share with their own network is what you’re looking for here; adding social sharing buttons in your blog will also help enable users to easily share out your content to the spaces and networks where they play.

Let me see if I can “re-swizzle” (yep, I said it) your tweet above to something which I may be compelled to click into and retweet:
@talekyn: How Frank John, a 9yo living with Juvenile Diabetes and fund raising for JDRF, is putting me to shame: anthonycardno.com/?p=276

Forgive the forced self deprecation, but I think this will work in your favour here: I switched it up a bit, made the reader curious as to what a 9 year old is doing better than you. Because if they can do it better than you, they can do it better than me too, so now I am intrigued and want to read more. It is a more active voice, but not demanding; compelling me to look further. Plus, the tweet provides me with the key points before reading more into the blog: this 9 year old is doing good work for diabetes awareness/cure. I am both compelled to read AND pass it on now, because there is a story here beyond the normal “please send money” charity call. It is interesting, much like your earlier tweet:

@talekyn #LifeWouldBeBetter if my 9 year old cousin didn’t have Juvenile Diabetes. Meet him on my site: anthonycardno.com/?p=276
The tweet above also has that hook, but unfortunately Tweeting this out at 11:30pmEDT on a Friday night means very few people in your particular audience will be seeing it, and you need visibility in order to glean retweets. So, now that you have the compelling content, let’s look at targeting the right audience…

Who are your followers? Are they cast amongst disparate time zones, or predominantly in one? What ages? Nine-to-fivers or in school? By example, I am at my computer from8amEDT until8pmEDT M-F, because of that, I am more likely to retweet something posted in that time frame than I am other times since my usage of twitter is heaviest during work. Weekends and other times when I am outside the house, I’m far more likely to miss content because I tend to turn off most social channels when not at work. Conversely, my fictitious high school aged neighbor may be more likely to see and subsequently retweet late on school nights when s/he is finally back home from school, extracurricular activities, and is “wasting time” on the internet. Not to mention that demographic has a much different usage style of social channels as direct, near-real-time communication and may not be as inclined to retweet blog content outside of some of the more viral types of content.

Having a sense of your follower’s schedules / behaviours / demographics will help guide you towards those ‘sweet spot’ times to post for the greatest impact and visibility. If you use bit.ly or some other URL shortener, or use google analytics on your site (WordPress makes this stuff very easy), you can track some basic metrics and see when when your audience is most active and more likely to marketing out your links. Also, keep promoting your content (with appropriate pauses in between duplication) until you see a drop off in click-throughs. Duplicating content isn’t a bad thing on Twitter as most people don’t see everything unless the spend time going back in their timelines up to the last time they logged in. Unless your users are all like me with a stake in the social business game, they are most likely missing a ton of stuff posted when they aren’t watching. Heck, I even miss stuff, and I am watching like a hawk and make a point to go back in all my timelines to ensure I don’t miss things!

Here ends the first round answer as to why you aren’t seeing a good amount of retweets, even when (or because) you request them. With your following of 490 users on Twitter, I’d predict you’d garner maybe around 10 retweets for some good content if you market it more than once. Until you are a celebrity and people hang on your every word, I’d not expect more than that…. unless of course you happen to stumble on that next bit of viral content and it spins out of your control… but we can only hope for that 😉

Yes, this was a rather lengthy post, and not intended as the end all be all to explaining social behaviours. I am sure many of my own readers have their own ideas and experiences to share, which I fully encourage! Please feel free to comment here, or in any of the other channels which you may have found this post shared out… the key to being social on the internet is, of course, engaging in good discussion! So whether you agree or disagree, please let me know 🙂

You can comment on this post (although it may take a while before your comment to show up, since I moderate all comments), or you can go to Jason’s blog and comment there.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Anthony R. Cardno

BTS: So Anthony, a gay writer and an evangelical writer being close friends. Who would believe it? How did this crazy thing happen?

ARC: We can blame it all on Twitter. Neither of us would know the other existed if not for the advent of 140 character at a time social media. But of course, that’s just a tool, and a tool often used for ill rather than good. So I’m going to cut right to the quick of the issue: I think it all comes down to accepting that you’re never going to agree 100% with everyone, and not agreeing is a silly reason to stop talking to people. Reasonably people can have a dialogue and agree to disagree.

BTS: Totally agree. In fact, most of the people I have as friends on Facebook and Twitter disagree with me about one thing or another. As a writer I enjoy that diversity because it keeps me honest and informed when writing characters and stories, even if it’s painful to hear those views sometimes, even if it challenges me. I don’t know how I could be a good writer and write real worlds and real conflict if I didn’t see conflict myself. Also, how can one really be reasonable and confident in one’s opinion without fully examining the other side?

ARC: Thank you! You know, your response actually brings up two points I want to discuss. The first is that you can’t really write believable conflict/disagreements between characters if you haven’t seen both sides of the disagreement yourself. “Honest and informed,” you called it. For instance, in your novel THE WORKER PRINCE, you’ve got a society that is essentially polytheistic — no one suggests you go out and spend a year living as a Polytheist to make those characters believable, but I would assume you did some research into existing and past religions of that nature so that you’d be able to write Xalivar’s side of the conflict between himself and Davi.

BTS: Well, I spent time on several trips in Africa as well as between trips studying African traditional life and religions and many of those tribal cultures are polytheistic. I also taught on those subjects at the Masters level. So yes, I applied that research a bit. Enough to explain their beliefs. Although the people group in my book don’t really hold religion as a lifestyle, unlike their counterparts, which also creates even more cultural barriers between them. Totally different outlook on religion. So yes, I did have some prior knowledge to pull from, and do believe that was important even if I didn’t use it in the story all that much as far as details of that research. After a while, though, research becomes part of your intuitive knowledge base which you need to supplement with reading, quotes, etc. when doing academic writing but not necessarily in fiction.

ARC: I think I agree with that last statement, as far as it goes. I mean, we all know I am the worst researcher in existence, which is why I even make up my own towns to place my short stories in. But writing what’s intuitive brings me back to the other point I wanted to discuss. You asked “how can one really be reasonable and confident in one’s opinion without fully examining the other side?” I’ve tried to reasonably ask that question of lots of folks, and the answer I most often get seems to be “Well, I don’t need to be struck by lightning to know I won’t enjoy it.” No, but you do need to know the physical effects of getting hit by lightning to know that you won’t enjoy it. And yes, there is a metaphor in there somewhere.

BTS: Well, the same could be said related to our differences in sexual preference. I do not need to experience gay sex personally to know I don’t find the idea appealing. You may feel the same about hetero sex but I’ll let you speak for yourself. But at the same time, I think being able to talk to gay friends, and I have several, not just you, helps me to understand people with uncommon experiences to my own—how they come to be who they are, why they make the choices they make, why they sometimes characterize their situations as having no choice, etc. And I think that’s healthy for me as a human being a part of the larger global community around me. It disappoints me that so many who share some of my views refuse to engage in that dialogue or allow for such relationships. I imagine many of them can’t even picture healthy relationships but I can think of several I’ve had with gays or lesbians over the years. It does take honesty. I am very honest with you about who I am. And you are honest in return. And then we talk about things to the degree we’re comfortable and with respect for each other. That makes it easier, don’t you think?

ARC: See, I knew I was using an apt metaphor! But not to make too light of this, yes, you’re right. That mutual respect, the understanding that we come from different places but still have certain things in common, is key to our friendship. I think one of the problems in our society is that people don’t really understand the concept of “dialogue” anymore. What we see on television, fictive and factual, is over-lapping monologues. No one really listens to what the other side is saying, they just hear what they think the other side is saying and are already planning how to rebut. For instance, I have friends who would read your statement “I do not need to experience gay sex personally to know I don’t find the idea appealing” and would immediately respond with “You can’t know that until you try it.” Which brings us back to the lightning metaphor — if you, as a straight man, have a basic idea of how all the plumbing fits together, and you just don’t find anything interesting about it, then you have every right to say “no thanks, not for me” without having to actually experience the act. On the other hand, in the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that I have tried hetero sex several times, and as nice and loving as those women were (and they are still friends of mine to this day), it just didn’t work for me. So I can say “tried it, thanks, not for me.”

BTS: For various reasons, I figured you had. For one thing, I know I’m not attracted to men. I don’t deny the fact orgasm might occur with a man. Some things come naturally. But the ideas of kissing and other physical closeness are not something I even daydream about. It just doesn’t appeal to me. So from that perspective, blunt as I am, I can honestly say I don’t find the idea appealing, and it would be ridiculous for those friends of yours to question it. Because I think we all make decisions about what we like and don’t like that way every single day, including them. Don’t you make decisions like that? I know I wouldn’t like jumping off a bridge and falling to my death on an asphalt road below, for example. Do I need to try that first to prove it to them?

ARC: Exactly my point, and why I get frustrated with people on either side who only hear what they want to hear. And to sort of drive this back to our original question — “how can a gay writer and an evangelical writer be friends” — I think it’s because we have both listened to each other. I may not agree with everything you say, but I make every best effort to listen to what you’re saying as opposed to what I think you’re going to say. I try to understand your word choice in the way you express yourself. And I think, or at least hope, that you extend the same courtesy to me. Look, I could have blocked you on Twitter as soon as I visited your site and saw that you were Evangelical, that you’d recorded Christian music, etc. You could have blocked me as soon as you saw that I was gay and that many of my stories feature gay characters. I think we even had a moment or two of ‘what’s this guy all about,’ but we’ve found common ground — again, because we made an effort to listen to each other.

For part two of this dialogue please go to http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2011/09/26/two-writers-in-dialogue-a-conservative-evangelical-and-a-gay-liberal-can-be-friends-part-2//


This week, we get to chat with webcomic creator Gordon McAlpin.

Gordon McAlpin

Gordon McAlpin lives in Minneapolis with his cat Punk. In his twenties, he watched over a dozen movies a week. Gordon has written movie reviews, co-hosted a movie podcast, and edited a movie news blog, but now he just writes and draws Multiplex. While he has never worked at a movie theater, he has had several equally terrible jobs. From 2004–2006, Gordon created Stripped Books, a series of non-fiction strips covering book- and comics-related events in comics form. Multiplex began in July, 2005, and is Gordon’s first on-going comic strip.

The cast of Multiplex, working hard...

ANTHONY: So let’s start out with the basics: Multiplex has been running continuously since 2005. Tell us about the comic’s origins. How did you decide on this situation and these characters?

GORDON: My buddy Kurt Bollinger first suggested that I do a comic strip about a movie theater. We both love to talk about how I basically thought it was a stupid idea at first, but the truth is, I just didn’t know how to approach the idea. I was thinking in terms of newspaper comics, the 22 (or so) page magazine comic, and long-form graphic novels, none of which I thought were really well-suited to the premise. Once I’d learned about webcomics, I started toying with the idea again, because I realized you could keep the strip extremely timely by setting the strip in real time and referring to actual movies.

In the intervening years, I did also manage to forget that Kurt first suggested I do a comic about a movie theater, but I named a character after him, and stole some aspects of his personality for the character, so it’s all good. There’s a ton of stuff with Kurt that’s totally made up, though, and a ton of stuff in the real life Kurt that I’ve used for other characters, especially Whitey. Along the same lines, Jason is sort of loosely based on me, but he isn’t just a mouthpiece for me. People assume that, especially once they realize we’re both half-Filipino and sarcastic and hate everything, but he’s more an exaggerated 21-year-old me than me now.

The supporting characters tend to arise from a theme or idea I want to play with — Gretchen, for instance, is kind of a commentary on tabloid journalism (comparing it with gossipy high school bullshit); Allen and Norma are two of many types of managers; Lydia started off as me just wanting Jason to find someone even snobbier than him and see how he reacts to it. Obviously, if I’m doing my job as a writer correctly, these aren’t completely obvious.

A: The cast has grown over the years, but the story still centers on Jason, Kurt, Melissa and Becky. How would you describe the dynamic between them? And how, if at all, has that dynamic changed over the years?

G: I don’t know that their dynamic has changed very much at the core of things. Jason and Kurt are still basically in love with each other, Kurt and Melissa are definitely in love with each other. Melissa kind of thinks “Jason is annoying but I guess if Kurt’s his friend then whatever as long as he doesn’t ever talk to my sister.” Those two, I think, have had their ups and downs, but they’re starting to get each other a little more.

And, of course, Becky and Jason are Becky and Jason.

A: Everyone grows up and moves on eventually. Do you foresee Multiplex continuing without “the core four?” Or does the story end when they leave the Multiplex 10 for other jobs? And speaking of the story’s end: is there a plan for how Multiplex wraps up, and specific character arcs that you’re following step-by-step, or are you just letting the story go where it will, throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks?

G: Multiplex is about Jason, Kurt, Melissa, Becky, and Franklin. Mostly Jason and Kurt, though, and really mostly Jason. But those five are the Big Five to me. Becky, Melissa, and Franklin all get shafted for screen time, I know, but I try. The Big Five will always be in Multiplex, whether or not they’re still working at the Multiplex 10; I know where each of the Big Five is headed with their lives, although not necessarily exactly how it will play out. There will be a definite ending to the series, though, and I think I’ll keep any more details than that to myself for a while longer…

I’ve already laid some of the groundwork for the various ends to each character’s arc (as you would expect, being half-way through the story), so you could probably make some good guesses, anyway.

A: The Multiplex has boasted a very diverse supporting cast over the years as other employees and managers have come and gone. Is there any character you were surprised took on a larger role in the story than you’d originally intended? Or, vice versa, a character you thought would be important who ended up relegated to the background?

G: Every time I introduce a new character, I start to feel bad that they never get any screen time. The worst of these was a character named Letizia, who I never even introduced. I mentioned her in one of Gretchen’s Multiplex Examiner articles, but she never actually appeared. I finally had one of the managers mention he was about to fire her for never showing up for her shifts as a joke.

I was surprised at how much Angie kept coming back for a while. Her and Jason dating was never supposed to be more than a few dates. If I remember correctly, I planned their relationship to last from the release of Expelled, the Ben Stein Creationist screed, until the release of Religulous, the Bill Maher atheism screed. At some point, the two movies’ release dates were a few weeks apart. I started the arc, and then I noticed that Religulous got pushed forward by about six months. I ultimately decided to stick with the original plan and leave them together for a few months longer.

Mr. Harris (the security guard) should have been a little more prominent, but he kind of fell into the background more because of the logistics of doing a strip in real time. I simply couldn’t take the break to tell the story of young James at the Regal Theater without interrupting the main story for too long. I hope to add that into the Book 4 print collection as a bonus story, but how well I can do that will depend on whether or not I can convince the Chicago Blue Museum to let me see the blueprints to the theater.

A: As a writer, of course, I’m curious about your plotting and scripting method. Do you write out a full script first, and then craft the art to match? Or do you come up with a rough idea, pencil it out, and then craft the dialogue?

G: Honestly, it varies depending on the comic strip. I’ve done both. I think I’m more likely to just start writing out dialogue and breaking down panels (without any actual scribbles to go in them) than anything else. Sometimes, I sit down knowing what needs to happen and in what order and I’ll just go straight to breakdowns and write the dialogue later. In any case, I’m constantly revising dialogue until a strip is posted — and sometimes for a while after it’s posted.

I have an outline file to keep me reminded of where the various themes and arcs in the strip should be progressing in any given chapter. I work out of an InDesign file with the current chapter of the comic. In that file, I’m basically blocking out (on a strip by strip level) and breaking down the chapter in shorter 4–8 page arcs, with approximate dates for when the strip will post and what movies have just been released.

My workflow changes pretty regularly, though: it wasn’t until the beginning of Book 5 that I started even thinking about Multiplex in terms of chapters. Books 1 – 4 were broken into chapters after the fact, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve been adding new material in the collections — so I could flesh out the events in various chapters and make them feel more intentionally constructed when you read them in the collected editions.

A: What tools do you use for the art? Is it hand-drawn first and then scanned in and completed on the computer?

G: I draw Multiplex almost entirely in Adobe Illustrator, a vector illustration program. I use a graphics tablet for any rough thumbnails I need to do, but if a panel is just two people talking to each other in a room, I often don’t bother with any thumbs first and just go get any existing vector reference I need to get crackin’. When I have movie posters shown in perspective in the backgrounds, sometimes I’ll need to use Photoshop to distort the images, because Illustrator’s capabilities there are… limited, at best.

When I do hand-drawn sequences in Multiplex, I pencil digitally with Manga Studio and then print the page out onto Bristol board (in 10% cyan) to ink by hand. So those, I’ll scan in and touch up and color or tone in Photoshop with my tablet.

A: After a successful Kickstarter project in December 2009, you were able to bring Multiplex to print form with Multiplex: Enjoy Your Show. What was the most difficult part of making the change from web to print?

G: Distribution, definitely. I’ve worked in printing and publishing for over a decade, so getting the book together and to the printer was easy — time consuming, of course, but easy. I do that stuff for a living, and this book was for me — so I was happy to work on it. But once the book was printed, getting it out there was (and continues to be) a lot of work.

I’m signed up with Small Press United (a division of IPG), which specializes in distribution of new publishers like myself, and through them, I’m available through Amazon and (via Ingram and Baker & Taylor) at bookstores nationwide. It took us several months to convince Diamond to give the book a chance, unfortunately. Hopefully whenever the second book comes out, Diamond will be on board from day one, and I’ll see stronger sales to comics shops out of it.

A: You created a brand new “prequel” sequence for the print edition, revolving around the debut of Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith. What was that process like, getting permission from LucasFilm to use the still from the movie and the poster?

G: Most of the time, I don’t feel I need permission to use film stills, because I’m commenting on the film (or satirizing them) in the strip. But that movie still was really half the punchline to the Prequel story, and I knew that it was an unusually prominent and non-critical way, so I felt it was important to ask for permission. I licensed one still from Lucasfilm, and they also gave me permission to use the theatrical poster as “set dressing” — but not as a focal point in any panels, just in the backgrounds.

It was a very smooth process; as you would expect, they have a whole team that works on this stuff for people like me, so on their end, it was all business as usual. For my part, I tracked down their licensing department’s e-mail address and explained the whole idea of the story. They responded very quickly and asked me to send the relevant pages for approval (in their incomplete state), so I did so. We signed some contracts, I paid a licensing fee, they gave me a high-res file for the still, I added legal notices per their instructions, and eventually I sent them a few copies of the book for their records. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

A: Any idea on when we’ll get to see the next print volume? There’s still plenty of story not collected, after all. You have years to catch up on. And will future volumes feature print-edition-only material like the Prequel in Book One?

G: I’m working on it! I’m examining ways of financing a second book, but while the first book was profitable, it wasn’t profitable enough to allow me to jump straight into Book 2. I don’t make much from bookstore or comics shop sales; I just want them available in stores so I can introduce the comic to new readers, really.

Book Two will have a bunch of new material in it, as well. Nothing as big as the Prequel story, though, just shorter strips spread out throughout Chapters 6–10, like I did with Chapters 1–5. Some of that stuff will be in the eBook collections. Some may be exclusive to the print book. I’m still working on the Chapter 6 eBook, though, so the Book 2 print edition is a ways off, I’m afraid. But I’m working on it.

A: I’m going to tweak my usual final question just slightly, and split it in two: First, since Multiplex is all about the movies, what is your favorite movie and what would you say to convince someone who has never seen it that they should watch it?

G: My all-time favorite movie is The Apartment by Billy Wilder (co-written by I.A.L. Diamond), starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. It’s hilarious, dramatic (shockingly so, in a few parts), romantic without being schmaltzy, and sort of a coming of age for the main character — all stuff I love, all in one flick. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Shirley MacLaine was ridiculously cute in the film. I could watch it forever and never get sick of it.

A: Second, what is your favorite book, and what would you say to convince someone who has never read it that they should read it?

G: I don’t know how to begin comparing comic books against novels, so I’ll have to answer that twice:

Comics — Cages by Dave McKean. It’s a beautiful exploration of art and writing and music by one of the finest artists working today. He throws so much up in the air in the first several chapters that it’s all the more amazing when everything falls into place by the end. Or just about everything, at least. It’s a brilliant story, brilliantly told.

Novels — Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood. Margaret Atwood is a Canadian poet and novelist with an exquisite writing voice. She’s my favorite novelist, in part because every one of her books has a few passages that make me stop and turn them over in my head for a while. And Cat’s Eye is my favorite of hers, because it has loads of such passages. I think Cat’s Eye struck a particularly strong chord with me, being about an artist who returns to her tremendously dull (to her) hometown of Toronto for a retrospective on her work and continually flashing back to her youth, especially her rather abusive “friendship” with a girl named Cordelia.

I guess I like books about artists…?

A: Thanks again for joining us, Gordon!

G: Thank you for having me!

You can find Jason, Kurt, Becky, Melissa, Franklin and the rest of the gang hanging at the Multiplex. You can follow Gordon himself on Twitter, as well as Multiplex10. There is also a Multiplex Facebook page for you to Like! And you can still buy the print version of MULTIPLEX: ENJOY YOUR SHOW, which I highly recommend doing.


Trying something a little bit different this week, rambling on with fellow pop culture rambler Sam McPherson!

Sam does his best Poltergeist impression

Sam McPherson is a contributing editor for the entertainment news website TVOvermind. He’s also an administrator for the fansite Lostpedia, and considers Fringe, Game of Thrones, and Doctor Who to be his areas of expertise. Sam also created the fansite Knowing Lost, which is the home to several original fan fictions and works of fan art related to the television show Lost. You can follow Sam on Twitter, where he is known as the McPhersonator.

ANTHONY: Hi, Sam, thanks for taking the time to chat!

SAM: No problem. Thanks for helping out my ego!

A: I’m primarily familiar with you as a reviewer/commentator on TV Overmind. How did you get started with the site?

S: I discovered the site a few months after it started up, and filled out the little application. A little while later, Jon Lachonis, who owns the site, dropped me an email back and said that he’d love to have me on the staff. That was back in July 2009, and I’ve been writing for the site ever since.

A: I first became aware of you through your LOST posts, and now I follow your Game of Thrones posts as well. Do you and the other writers for TV Overmind have specific “beats” you work, or is it pretty much “write about what you want to write about?”

S: Well, we cover the news on a first-come-first serve basis. More in-depth pieces, though, are usually written by the folks who are experts on the show. That’s not to say that a show can’t have several experts — we have four people on the staff who are very knowledgeable about Fringe, for instance.

A: You are also a Lostpedia Administrator. How did that come about?

S: I started editing the site as a normal user in February 2007, right around the time the second half of season three started up. I really loved the community and worked to become a part of it over a few years. Around late 2008, I was part of a small group of users who did “Lostpedia Interviews” with various members of the cast and crew. I got to interview Rebecca Mader, Francois Chau, and a lot of background extras/guest actors. I was ‘promoted’ to administrator in March 2009.

A: I’ll admit I don’t tend to visit Lostpedia as much now that the show is over. I find that as much as I say I want to go back and watch the whole series from start to end again, I seem to be reticent to do it and a number of my friends who loved the show feel the same way. Do you think there’s a kind of “post-series letdown” that genre fans feel after a series ends?

S: Well, with LOST at least, certainly. The finale was hugely polarizing, and I don’t think a lot of people really wanted a lot to do with the show for a while after that. There are a little bit of a surge in interest with the one year anniversary of the finale a few months ago, but I think for the most part, there won’t be a lot of interest in LOST again for a few years until we hit the five- or ten-year anniversary.

A: We could talk about LOST for hours, so I’m going to play a little word-association. How did you feel about the following topics that Lost fans seem to be pretty divided on:

The Finale?

S: Loved it. There are a few seeds of disappointment because it wasn’t what I’d expected through my long time of watching the show — but the same can be said for the entirety of season six, really.

A: The whole “Flash-Sideways” concept?

S: Again, it was a bit of a letdown because it felt like a giant red herring since they drew it out across the entire season. If they’d only had it pop up sporadically, I think it would have had greater effect.

A: The tie-in paperback novels?

S: Have them, but haven’t read them. I’m more of a fan of the unofficial analysis books, like Sarah Clarke-Stuart’s Literary LOST.

A: Last LOST question: you started an online “fan-fic” that places fans of the tv show into the action of the show, with full knowledge of what is going to happen to the characters — how has that been received? Any feedback from the Lost creators on the concept or execution?

S: Knowing Lost started off well, with lots of readers. Then, as it became more and more of a chore to have a ten-page episode out every week, I started to get exhausted and just stopped for a while. I mishandled it and lost a lot of readers, but I’ve now started it back up. I’m currently working on an idea that will make the site the base for LOST fan-fiction and fan-art.

A: Okay, on to Game of Thrones. I had a conversation recently with a friend who has never read the Harry Potter books nor George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and yet he loves (and has managed to avoid being spoiled on plot points for) the movie franchise and the tv series adapted from those books. As someone who is reporting on the GoT tv series but who has also read the source material, do you ever find yourself having to back up and reword things because you know stuff some of your readers may not know?

S: Oh yes. A lot of my articles over this hiatus are referencing the second book, from which season two will be adapted. I’m working on a series of articles now that reveal my fantasy casting for key new characters, and I’ve finally taken to putting a mild spoiler warning at the top of every article, because I’m so afraid I’ll spoil someone who accidentally clicks on to the article.

A: There’s been a lot of hate mail directed at George RR Martin by readers who feel betrayed that he’s not churning out ASOIAF books faster. Neil Gaiman famously weighed in a while back saying that essentially authors (and other creative types) don’t owe their fans anything on a set time-line (what people have paraphrased as “George RR Martin is not your bitch.”) I think the truth is somewhere in the middle: if you promise a series with a continuing storyline that will eventually conclude, you should commit to finishing it (leaving aside for now issues of writer’s block and other such roadblocks) or don’t write series fiction. As an obvious fan of series-type storytelling, what’s your take on this?

S: Well, I didn’t start reading the books until a few months ago, so I don’t know anything about the long, agonizing wait that fans have been put through recently. What I do know, though, is that Martin’s put himself on a very short time frame by having the HBO series premiere in 2011. He’s going to have to finish the series before the show catches up to him. So saying that “George RR Martin is not your bitch” is entirely accurate. He’s playing to HBO’s timeline now.

A: Do you think, if push came to shove, HBO would go ahead and create a series ending for GoT if Martin falls behind their production schedule? Or do you think they’ll space out production on future seasons to accommodate his slower writing habits?

S: I’ve thought about it, but I don’t know how that would turn out. I’m thinking that Martin will just narrowly meet the deadline, but if he doesn’t, we’ll probably be looking at some postponed seasons while HBO puts pressure on him to get it done. I don’t think that there will be an ending created only for the TV show. Martin’s pretty meticulous, and I think the story’s all going in one very specific direction.

A: On a somewhat related topic (in terms of delayed story continuations): what’s your feeling about the “split season” for Doctor Who this year? Do the producers of shows like LOST and Doctor Who owe it to viewers to tell a complete story straight through rather than splitting the season up to build tension?

S: The split season doesn’t bother me. The first half of the series ended on a pretty good cliffhanger, and I’m willing to wait to see where it goes. What does bother me, though, is the discrepancy in scheduling between the UK and the US. That sort of thing results in a lot of people getting spoiled. BBC America was doing great with same-day airings until they skipped Memorial Day, screwing it all up and putting the US a week behind the UK. I was spoiled for River Song’s identity because of that break. It’s even worse this summer for British Torchwood fans, who have to wait six days after the US to see what started out as their show, all because Starz got world premiere rights to the series. I expect that’ll cause a plummet in viewership.

A: I still don’t know River Song’s identity, so thanks for not spoiling that here! Do you think Torchwood will survive this switch to Starz having primacy over BBC, or could this move spell the end for the show?

S: I don’t know if it’ll survive or not. I’m afraid it’s going to be a lose-lose situation, to be honest. I’m not sure that Starz has enough subscribers who would watch the show, and over the six day wait I’m pretty sure UK fans will get the show through other means. I think the fact that Starz through in a “world premiere rights” clause in their contract might hurt the show where it counts.

A: You’re on Twitter, you’re a regular on TV Overmind, you’ve got your own occasional blog, and you recently graduated from high school. So what’s in the future for Sam McPherson?

S: I’m heading off to college next month, but for my online presence I hope it’ll be like nothing’s changed. I’ll keep writing for TVOvermind when I’m not living the college life. You guys aren’t getting rid of me that easily!

A: And my usual last question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to recommend it to someone who has never read it?

S: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. Absolutely brilliant book that’s been begging for me to read it again as soon as I get through my ever lengthening to-read list. It’s perhaps the only book I’ve ever read that can never work in any other medium, because it’s so brilliant in this one. It’s the most rewarding book experience I’ve ever had.

A: Thanks, Sam!