Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bunch o' links

Short post today as I've been busy answering all the questions about the Heroes graphic novel arc "Rebellion". Head over to 9th Wonders to see the questions and their answers. There's still time to ask a question if there's anything you're curious about.

And if you're still hungry for more Rebellion behind the scenes, you should check out Jason Badower's blog. He's the artist for the latest graphic novel, "Family" and next week's, "Left Behind". He's been going through talking about each page in detail. Definitely worth the read.

I also want to take a moment to give a shout out to a friend of mine who got his first game turned into an iPhone app. It's called "A Robo Riot!" and IMHO a steal at only 99 cents. I really enjoy it, but you don't have to take my word for it, you can give it a try for free over at Kongregate. If it seems like something you'd like to carry with you on your iPhone or iPod, please pick it up.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Heroes Graphic Novels Summer Schedule

Just a quick post to update everyone on the schedule for the Graphic Novels. We needed to space things out a little bit so unfortunately there will be no comic next Monday 5/25. But I want to keep everyone informed, so here's what the schedule currently looks like:
  • 6/1 - Rebellion Part 4: Left Behind
  • 6/15 - Rebellion Part 5: Wanted
  • Mid July - Rebellion Part 6
  • Mid August - Rebellion Part 7
September returns us to our regular weekly schedule. I know, I'm as bummed as you are that we can't do more, but that's just the way it goes sometimes. How about this: What if someone over at 9th Wonders starts a thread for everyone to post questions about the current Rebellion arc. And on Monday/Tuesday I'll do my best to answer them all. It's no new comic, but hopefully something to look forward to at least. As always, keep in mind that I can't comment on speculation/theories/spoilers and please try and keep your questions limited to Rebellion.

See you next week over on 9th Wonders?

Monday, May 18, 2009

This Week at Heroes

Still no 9th Wonders Blog for me yet so I can't talk too much about the Heroes Graphic Novels. But you should forgive the tech team for the delay because they're hard at work putting together something that I think is going to be fun and awesome and help occupy the cold Heroes Summer months. I'd tell you more but I've already said too much...

It's been another busy week at Heroes (when is it not?). The writers have put together a super-rough draft of the first episode and we're going to have episode two later this evening. At the moment, these are just "internal" drafts which means no one beyond the writers have seen them. Production is gearing up though, doing 100 different things, but primarily building new sets and revamping some old ones. As you might expect they can't wait to get their hands on that first script.

Some time tonight/tomorrow "Family", part 3 of "Rebellion" will appear online. You've read part 1 and part 2 right? Parts 3 and 4 were written by me and drawn by Jason Badower. I can't tell you how much fun it is to work with Jason. Besides becoming good friends, and so naturally having a good time, Jason is an absolute workhorse. He cares more about his art and about telling a good and complete story than anyone I've met. Some artists draw spectacular art but only think about one panel at a time -- the pages may look great, but sometimes the story just doesn't quite track. Not so with Jason. His attention to the details of the story are unparalleled. There are two panels in particular that really demonstrate what I'm talking about -- I'll go into more detail once it's online. In short, I have a man-crush on Jason, you get the picture.

The last fun bit of news is that I'm fairly certain this comic is going to be printed and end up being handed out at the San Diego Comic Con in July. I'm not certain what type of presence Heroes will have there this year, but tickets are still available for Thursday and Sunday if you want to go. I also have no idea how the comics will be distributed. If you can't make it and want some swag, my advice is to befriend someone who is going and see if they can't snag an extra one. Barring epic disaster I'll be there on Saturday and I'm sure Jason will be around also.

I'll likely post later this week with my rant, I mean follow-up, on spoilers and how audience knowledge alters the viewing experience.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

You Might be a Red Shirt if...


NBC is still getting things sorted on the blog front, so I'll start off with some quick Heroes Graphic Novel news. By now you've hopefully read the first two parts of Rebellion written by Zach Craley and drawn by Dennis Calero. We'll continue with this arc through the summer, finding out what Rebel was up to and hitting some moments from "Fugitives" along the way.

One bit of bad news that I have to drop is that we're only going to be doing one comic each month in June, July and August. The good news is that they'll be a bit larger, 8 pages each, and will allow us to dig in more and tell deeper stories in each of those chapters.

But don't fret, we'll return to regular weekly issues in September and tell a new story which will lead into the premier of Volume 5. And not that it's any huge consolation, but I'll continue to blog each week and talk about some of the graphic novels we've done in the past. Maybe it'll give you a reason to go back and revisit some of those.

I've been busy recently working on parts 3 and 4 of Rebellion and have been fortunate enough to team up with Jason Badower once again. We've had a lot of fun working on this together and I honestly think Jason has turned in some of his best work yet. I can't wait for it to go online next week!

As for the shows itself, the writers have spent the last several weeks breaking story, and we are now busy writing the first couple of episodes. The current plan is to start pre-production two weeks from now and begin filming in early June -- holy moly, that arrived fast!

You Might be a "Red Shirt" if...

If you follow me on Twitter you may have caught my tweets labeled "Writers Room Lingo" (Thanks to @cadetevon's suggestion I've now started tagging them with #WRL). For those not in the know, WRL is simply a definition of a somewhat unusual term or phrase that might pop up in the writers room while breaking story. Some of these terms are specific to our group of writers, others can apply to any film set and many are familiar to just about any TV audience. If you've visited tvtropes.org you know what I'm talking about, it's a fun site.

Perhaps one of my favorite terms is "red shirt". It was originated during the original Star Trek Series in which the security officers wore red shirts. Whenever several of the main actors went on a dangerous mission a security officer would naturally tag along and inevitably meet an untimely demise. It is perhaps best summed up by this image sent to me by another one of my fantastic followers @rand21althor:

Using a "red shirt" is a difficult technique in a scripted series. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't because when your main characters go on a mission you want to dramatize that it's a dangerous mission. The problem is that you can't kill your main characters. Or at least, the Network won't let you. So, you stick a red shirt with them that can be injured/maimed/killed to prove how dangerous the mission is. However, an educated audience is going to spot it a mile away. On Star Trek they literally wore red shirts but there are other ways to spot a red shirt.

You might be a red shirt if...
  • You are carrying equipment essential to the mission.
  • You do something nice/selfless.
  • You did something bad and deserve comeuppance.
  • You say something along the lines of "We've got nothing to worry about" or "I'm glad that's over".
There are countless other ways to spot a red shirt and while the truly great ones are the ones you don't even notice, most serve more than one purpose. For example, the red shirt that dies with mission-essential equipment implicitly makes the mission harder for the remaining characters. Your heroes have to be that much more heroic to overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds. This is also an example of "raising the stakes".

The nice guy/selfless act is a ploy to get an emotional response from the audience. If you find yourself thinking "I like that guy, I sure hope he doesn't die..." watch out! Likewise with the person who deserves "comeuppance" -- you'll find yourself thinking "I hope that rotten bastard gets his!" and when he does, you'll feel satisfied.

The character that dies right after breathing a sigh of relief is more of a horror movie technique and it's mostly a way of telling the audience "this ride 'ain't over yet, hold on tight!" It helps keep the suspense going and makes the audience feel similarly anxious to the character being chased by the axe murderer; like you can't stop and take a breath.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, while I do hope you're interested, I really just want you to suffer like I do. As my fiancee can attest, watching television with me (especially a certain episode of BSG -- sorry sweetie!) isn't always fun. You see, although I do get a certain satisfaction from spotting a red shirt, part of me is disappointed that I won't be surprised later on when that character dies. It's the "curse" of working in the industry. Knowing the trade secrets oftentimes ruins the viewing experience.

Audience knowledge is an interesting topic and one that I think is very relevant to the Heroes universe. Should writers take into consideration what the audience might already know in terms of behind-the-scenes knowledge, not to mention spoilers? Provided I don't get sidetracked by a different topic, I'll talk more about the "curse" next week, or as I like to call it: "I'm hiding behind that rock with a walkie-talkie".

That's all for now, please post comments/questions, follow me on twitter, and whatever you do, don't carry the mission-essential explosives while wearing a red space suit!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Obligatory First Post

Hi, for those who don't know me, my name is Oliver Grigsby. I'm a writer for the NBC television show Heroes and a writer/editor for the Heroes graphic novels. I'm also a dog owner, a geek and a soon-to-be husband. I decided to start a blog after spending the last two months on Twitter and having an absolute ball. It wasn't until then that it occurred to me that people might be vaguely interested in what I had to say.

The snag was that NBC is also interested in what I have to say. So at their request, we're going to setup a space on 9thWonders.com for me to officially talk about the Heroes graphic novels. Schedule allowing, I'll post there every week after the comic goes online and go into more detail about the creation process behind bringing these to life.

They're still working on some technical details but I'm told that things will be ready next Monday. If you subscribe to my blog here or follow me on twitter I'll be sure and let you know when it's ready.

So, what is this blog going to be about?
  1. It's still going to be about Heroes. That's what I do for about 70 hours a week -- yeah, that's 40% of my life -- so there'll be plenty of Heroes stuff to talk about. Other topics that may or may not get covered...

  2. My wedding: I'm getting married in less than 4 months to the love of my life. (See #4 for more).

  3. Our dog: In grade school most kids write about their dogs. I never got that chance, so I'll be making up for lost time and subjecting all of you to it. Right now our dog has an itchy butt.

  4. Teaching my fiancee (lets go ahead and start calling her "Abby") to play video games: I think this may be one of the crowning achievements of my life. As of about two years ago Abby had never even played video games. Today she head-caps zombies in Left 4 Dead like she was born to do it. Did I mention we're getting married? Do I need any further explanation as to why? I didn't think so...
So, welcome! Let's start with some Heroes news -- In case you haven't heard, the summer arc of graphic novels is underway! The first chapter of "Rebellion" will appear online sometime tonight/early Tuesday morning. It's written by Zach Craley with art by Dennis Calero (X-Factor, X-men: Noir). Dennis is in high demand in the Marvel Universe these days so we're very lucky to have him working on this for us and let me tell you, the stuff looks amazing!

A quick FYI, this chapter takes place in the Heroes timeline at the same time as episode 314 (A Clear and Present Danger) when everyone was rounded up. Rebellion will continue through the summer and explore what Rebel was up to during the Fugitives arc. I'll talk about this specific chapter and more of our summer plans on 9thWonders once everything is setup over there.

We're also hard at work in the writers room breaking story for Season 4 of Heroes. NBC gave us an official pickup today which is good considering we've been working for several weeks already. Things are going well, and we've been making a lot of progress.

Please post comments, I'll do my best to reply and if you want even more behind-the-scenes Heroes news be sure to follow me on Twitter!