Relaunch

The stagnation of this blog and website has been the source of no small amount of irritation on the part of friends and fans, and a heaping dose of embarrassment on my end. My previously mentioned inertia is only part of the story. The rest of the story is composed of words like “apathy,” “disdain,” “procrastination,” “ineptitude,” “boredom,” and “spelunking.” Most of those words are self-explanatory. As for “spelunking,” I haven’t actually taken up cave-climbing as a sport, hobby or pastime. I’m just really fond of that word. Spelunking. I like the sound of it. It’s soothing. It’s probably my favourite word in the English language, followed closely by “troglodyte.” I think if I ever actually encountered a troglodyte while I was spelunking, I’d drop dead of a joygasm.

The real story of what’s going on behind the scenes is that I’ve become aware of several key anniversaries that have altered my behaviour. First, it’s been ten years since the original launch of eyestrainproductions.com-slash-shanesimmons.com. After making a valiant effort to write something new at least once a month, I’ve fallen hopelessly behind, and habits are easy to forget about once you break out of the cycle. Especially good habits. Bad habits, not so much.

The website has also been looking a tad shabby, out-of-date, long-in-the-tooth. It is, after all, a 2003 design. There’s also been a fair amount of neglect that’s entirely my fault — links that became broken years ago that have never been changed or fixed, credits that haven’t been updated, news that hasn’t been announced, bugs that haven’t been squashed. On the plus side for the people who have been ordering my comics, you’re getting a good deal on the postage since I haven’t updated the rates to reflect the inflation that’s happened down at Canada Post in the last decade. I make a mental note to do something about that every time I eat it on another package headed anywhere out of the country (which is pretty much all of them because only eight people live in Canada, six of them already have copies of my work, and the last two don’t read comics because that crap’s for children).

“Re-do website” has been on the project list for a long time now. Lately, I’ve been doing something about it. Finally. Mostly because the software infrastructure of the site got chucked onto the virtual-technology trash heap right next to Windows 8 and the original code for Pong. It was upgrade and transfer files now, or lose it all in translation later.

I’ve decided to abandon the forgotten and unsupported Pivot and switch to the trendy and rather more functional WordPress. WordPress, I’m told, offers all sorts of shiny new bells and whistles and functionality, while helping my homepage look more professional, corporate and soulless.

So be assured, the next time I write a blog post the whole web site will look completely new and different. And you’ll hate it. Because change is bad and websites should never ever change no matter how shitty and out-of-date they get. Ask Harry Knowles.

The second major anniversary is that of Longshot Comics. The original minicomic edition came out an incredible make-me-feel-old twenty years ago. Availability of the comic has been helped along by various reprints in various languages, but someone needs to get all the material back into easily obtainable print. And maybe even offer some fresh pages. That task, if seems, falls to me. Which is a lot of work and entirely unfair, even if I am the sole writer, artist and printing press of the whole endeavor. What did I do to deserve this curse, other than creating it in the first place? Fuck you, karma.

There is a third key anniversary this year. Twenty-five years, the silver jubilee if you will, of something both grand and horrifying. Close associates will know what I’m talking about. The rest of the world will find out soon enough. I’m saving this one for the post-relaunch period, though I will have to discuss it at length before 2013 is up. It’s simply far too important to let slide.

Beware.

Blog? I Have a Blog?

Oh right, I remember my blog. It’s on my web page, which I also need to be reminded of from time to time.

Well, as a matter of fact, I’m still around. Not writing blog posts is an easy habit to get into. Much easier than forcing myself to write at least once a month for the first ten years. It started with a vicious round of the flu late last year (the kind that left me with chills so bad, I spent two nights spooning with an electric baseboard heater). That knocked me out of service for nearly a month. Then I got wrapped up in a major television contract that kept be occupied for many weeks. Whether or not we’ll ever see anything broadcast from all that work is still a matter of conjecture. In the time since I completed that project, my only excuse is inertia.

Not that there hasn’t been news to report. At this point I guess I’m going to have to skip all those current events I’d planned to make witty, insightful comments about since they’re so old now, no one is going to remember what I’m talking about. However, there are a few key development that are actually relevant to the purpose of this website that I should get around to mentioning. I’ll try to cover most of them in the coming week, either piecemeal or in one giant post. Stay tuned.

The Elephant Corpse In The Room

Looks like I missed all of June as far as blog updates go. I know I had a list of topics to discuss around here somewhere. I dunno where I put it. Yesterday was kind of a blur of insomnia after staying awake for about 36 hours for no particular reason other than it’s summer and I don’t really sleep for that whole season. Not because I’m partying and having fun — just because I’m hot and uncomfortable.

Anyway, after the recent elephant-hunting activities of the head honcho at GoDaddy, Eyestrain Productions has switched web servers. This is the first blog post on the new server, so I’ll cut it short just in case it all blows up in my face. Like a misfiring elephant gun going off in the face of that CEO fuckwad, Bob Parsons. Fingers crossed.

2010 Now And For The Foreseeable Future

After three weeks overseas visiting twelve cities in four countries on three continents, it took me another three weeks to recover. When I go on holiday, I like to shoot for exhausting and hectic, rather than something trite like relaxing or refreshing. Now that I’ve got all the travel and tribulation behind me, I’m ready to take on things like Christmas and New Year’s. Which are still many days off, right? Right?

Oh yeah. And the blog. I should really write something for December. But that deadline is also many days off, right? Right?

Help me out here. I can’t do all the denial by myself.

Neglected

November was one of those months that was full of suck and grind. I’ve been running in place on the pitching treadmill lately, and the only writing I’ve been doing is contractually obligated and paid. After I wrap up the year-end cash grab, I’ll see what I can do about composing something a little more interesting and informative in this space. Until then…

This Title Subject To Change

The very first episode of a television show I ever wrote (that got made at least) was called “Career Day.” By the time the show’s creators and story editors and producers got through with the outline, the only words I still recognized of my work were “career” and “day.” The plot had changed so drastically that when I sat down to script it, I asked if I could change the title too, since it no longer had anything to do with high school career days. They turned me down. They said paperwork with the original title already existed, so we were locked in. Sure enough, episode nineteen of the first season of Student Bodies remains “Career Day” to this day.

Since then, I’ve found television titles to be less written in stone than I was first led to believe. In order to receive royalties for my episodes beyond the five-year buyout detailed in my contracts, I have to report the specifics to the Canadian Screenwriters Collection Society. Since getting heavily into animation writing a few years ago, I haven’t sent in a single form concerning those episodes yet. It’s not just laziness on my part. Increasingly, I’ve had to wait until my episodes air to confirm what they ended up being called. Sometimes it’s just a word or two that gets switched, sometimes the title is completely unfamiliar. To give one example, the episode “Ricky Who?” I mentioned in yesterday’s blog was “The Nobody” until I learned different searching through the official Ricky Sprocket website.

Lately, it’s even been the names of the shows themselves that get swapped out right under me. I’ve mentioned Kid vs. Kat once or twice now, but when I first started working on it, it was called Look What My Sister Dragged In. More recently, I got a memo about Racer Dogs telling me that the show was now to be known as Turbo Dogs. I guess some focus group somewhere concluded that Racer Dogs didn’t sound fast enough.

If you’re having a hard time keeping track of all the various names of shows and episodes I throw at you, just do what I do. Wait for a geek out there on the web to write an episode guide. There’s always some fan willing to keep track of it all for us.

Some of you have already noticed that my blog entries have increased dramatically of late. If you’re having trouble keeping track of that was well, scroll to the very bottom of this page. There you’ll find a new RSS feed option designed for people who are too lazy to go visit a web site regularly. I’m not exactly sure how it works, what you do with it, or how you go about getting it to do whatever it is it does. What can I say, I’m not twelve anymore. But I’m sure you crazy kids can figure it out, what with your hippy-hop music and your iPods and your internets, which, I’m told, is a series of tubes.

Way Ahead Of Me

There hardly seems any point in making an official announcement. As industrious visitors to the site have already discovered for themselves, there’s a new section in the left-hand margin that leads to a collection of some of my screenplays. The selection is limited at the moment to one short film, three episodes of half-hour television, and two cartoons. More scripts will be added in the future as I try to showcase a variety of styles and formats. Generally, the ones presented will fall into one of two categories — “produced” or “unproduceable.”

The reason for this is simple. Scripts that have already been produced can’t very well be stolen. The end product is already out there, finished and viewable by the public, with all associated copyrights in place. As for the unproduced scripts, they’re largely material that has died on the vine. They may have been promising stories at one time, but now I can’t do anything with them because they involve other people’s characters or concepts in projects I don’t own. I was a gun for hire (who, in some cases, didn’t even get hired), and all I can do now is bemoan what might have been and offer to show my readers the leftover blueprints.

Then there are the screenplays that haven’t been sold or produced, but may yet have a chance. Some of these projects have been under option at various times, others have not. Unfortunately, they must all stay under wraps to remain viable properties. I can’t show them to you, but there exist dozens of others from categories A and B that I can post as downloadable PDF files from time to time. Many have interesting anecdotes to go with them, and a few are even pretty good. So if you want to read some more of my work, you’re interested in screenwriting, or you’re a producer I directed here to download writing samples, dig in.

I know better than to make empty promises about when the next batch will be up, but I’m working on making a few more fit for public display. And, just for the hell of it, I’ll leave you with this teaser… One of them is for an abandoned feature film project that proved to be the single biggest shitstorm of my career. So far, at least. A complete, scandal-laden blog will be in the offing when that screenplay finally goes online. It should prove to be quite the cautionary tale of dealing with non-union producers and other film-biz bottom feeders.

Longshotini Italiano

The contracts have been signed, so it’s fair game to announce that another foreign translation of Longshot Comics: The Long and Unlearned Life of Roland Gethers is scheduled for publication sometime in 2007.

The German edition won awards and accolades several years ago and remains listed on Amazon.de. A Spanish translation was also in the works around the same time, but that one petered out before the deal was finalized with the publishing house that pitched the project to me.

Now we have an Italian edition in the works that will follow the square-bound design of the German edition fairly closely. This marks the first time I’ve signed a contract that specifically lists Vatican City as one of the territories covered by the terms to the agreement. I’ll keep you posted as we get closer to a print date and we have a brand new version of my epic graphic dot-novel that you can share with all your friends in your local Little Italy.

On an unrelated note, astute web heads may have noticed that my battered and beleaguered forum page is down. Down for the count, in fact. Mercilessly bombarded by spammers, there seems to be no point keeping it afloat. Any and all worthwhile information contained on those pages will eventually be salvaged and moved to a more permanent, unassailable section of the website. There are a number of other fixes and additions planned for the new year, including some never-seen-before content from deep in the Eyestrain archives. Stay tuned.

For those of you who still feel the need to post something to the site, the blog comment feature remains ready, willing and able. The spammer shock troops still haven’t figured a way around the new security options there. Yet.

Spellchekker

My copy editer slash proofreeder slash wife is spendding Augist in Australiah, so the usuil hi standerds of Eyestrane Produkshuns may sufer slitely in the comming weaks. If you notise a few moor typos then befour, rest ashired I havn’t suddanly gone retardid. I just dont have anywon looking ovar my sholder two make shur my speling and grammer is up to snuf.

Givin the tippical levil of Inglish phound on the intirnet, this shud hardly be notisible at all. Appologeez too the phew amung you whu pratise sum moddicum of littericy.

Real Canadians Hate Summer

Thank my pathological need to publish at least one update a month for this sad little entry on the last day of June. Although I have a list of topics I’d like to discuss in great and tedious detail, I simply haven’t had the time or the will power to get to it. Such content will have to wait for the blistering month of July, when all that sun and heat will burn away my energy and leave me sitting in a darkened room in my underwear, sweating and cursing the entire summer season, as I stare blankly at my computer screen, hoping something more interesting than internet depravity will magically appear. Only then will sheer boredom force my hands to start typing up all those blog entries this dreadfully blog-deprived world has been yearning for.

Until that moment comes, there is one update to the site worth checking out. Ten new Movies in Longshot have been added to the marquee for the first time in damn near forever. Technically, they’ve been up for several weeks, but it took about that long to work some of the kinks out of the new material. It’s been so long since any Longshot strips have been posted here, the technical details of how exactly that was to be accomplished proved elusive.