Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"The Watchman" Ends!

Well, that wasn't a bad run for my first time as a paid columnist. I mean, it could've been better, sure, but the fact that I was able to do it for approximately eight months and complete 17 articles (and one unpublished one) is, by my standards, quite the accomplishment. I figured when Laura arrived, I wasn't gonna get shit done, so, yay for me.

And I think some of those articles are darn good. I got a lot of kudos for my Dark Knight review, and I think the Iron Man and Hancock ones aren't too bad. I think the one I'm proudest of is my Tick retrospective, if only because I know just how much blood, sweat and pixels went into writing it. They aren't all good. The Wanted one is kinda lame -- I was hamstrung by my intense loathing of both the source material and the resulting film, and the Heroes one is (sorry, David) phoned in, which, admittedly, is more effort than the show's writers are putting into it. (Seriously, I stopped watching it about six episodes ago, mostly for time reasons, so I had my wife, who's keeping current, summarized what I missed. Five minutes later she was done, and I was still waiting to hear the cool parts.) But still, all of that was more writing than I had ever done since college.

So what happened?

I'll tell you what happened.

The fucking Spirit happened.

I went to the first showing Christmas day to get a head-start on the column, thinking I could get it out in two, maybe three days. Two hours later, I walked out of the theater, and even though I couldn't admit it to myself at the time, I knew I was done. It's not that the movie's bad -- oh, it's terrible, make no mistake -- it's that it wasn't bad in any interesting way. For nearly a day, I thought about it and thought about it, without putting a single word down, looking for something, anything to say about it that the average viewer of Frank Miller's directorial debut wouldn't find insultingly obvious.

And I couldn't think of anything.

This probably wouldn't be an issue for most reviewers. My problem was that my mandate was to write a column, not reviews, so I always tried to find something larger to write about, something beyond whether it was good or bad. (I'm not saying I always succeeded, I'm just sayin'.) But with The Spirit, there was nothing there but a list of the atrocities Miller committed against Will Eisner's seminal creation. It might've been good therapy, but it wasn't a column.

This wasn't what killed The Watchman for me. What killed it was when I realized that my experience with The Spirit was likely to be norm, and I'd just been very, very lucky until then.

Maybe I could've rolled with that, found a way to work through it, but The Watchman was supposed to be a side thing -- y'know, something to bring in some dough while I work on my art, man. But it began to take all my time, mostly because I feel if I'm gonna get paid for a piece of writing, then I damn well better put everything I got into it. That's an honorable attitude, I suppose, but an exhausting one too, and ultimately something had to give. I decided it was The Watchman. David Steinberger and Peter Jaffe were excellent to work for, and I have to thank them again for the opportunity. I hope they find someone who can take over the job, and maybe be the Johnny Carson to my Jack Paar.

Thing is, The Watchman wasn't the only casualty of my decision to focus on my writing. I'm giving up movies as well. Not completely, of course; I wouldn't miss the big screen adaptation of Watchmen for the world (my one regret is that I won't be writing about it for the column), and if I can find the time, I'll happily go to the theater. But the days of trying to cram down 200-300 movies a year (mostly to participate in the Muriel Awards) are over. These days, most of my free time will actually go towards books -- my ignorance of the classics makes me functionally illiterate, and since I plan on writing novels along with screenplays, that oversight needs to be corrected, posthaste.

So here's the new deal. Martin and I are coming along quite nicely with our screenplays and novels, and as a result, we've decided (foolishly?) to reactivate Spitball!, our old screenwriting blog. We're not doing the "let's write a screenplay together through a blog!" thing -- we finally realized that that was kinda retarded. Instead, it's going to be a general purpose blog about writing. Or something. We're still figuring it out. Go there and read up and find out for yourself.

The future of this blog is a bit hazy. I'm going to publish my last Watchman piece on Punisher: War Zone that never went up on ComiXology. (Thankfully so; I realized about a week ago that I made a huge error of attribution in it. Apparently, there being more than one director named Jonathan is very confusing to me.) The hipster part of me wants to turn it into a Tumblr-style blog, but then the smart part of me wonders what the hell difference that would make. I'll probably put some thoughts on Zack Snyder's Watchmen movie up here, and maybe some Muriel Awards stuff, but since I've decided that movies aren't really a part of my life anymore, I really don't know what's going to happen with it.

Uh, welcome back. Thanks for reading.


Steve C. said...

I was wondering what had happened to that WAR ZONE review...

Good luck with the writing, man. I assume you'll at least reserve this space for the occasional update on how your various projects are coming along, no?

Kza said...

I'm pretty sure project updates are the province of Spitball! now, and since projects are all I'm really thinking about right now, you can see my dilemma wrt this blog.

Or maybe there'll be, if not actual crossposting, then maybe some kind of nudge, "hey look at what we're doing over at Spitball!" kind of thing. Who knows.