Monday, April 16, 2012

No Capes

I saw 1000 Ways to Die and stopped to watch. A man was impersonating a superhero, and he had the costume complete with cape. He saw some delinquents on top of a building smoking illegal drugs, and decided to interfere. He pushed one of the kids and the kids began to approach him. Outnumbered, he backed up. However, he tripped over his own cape and fell off the side of the building, landing in such a way that his ribs ripped his heart open.

I think any of us that write can understand how we sometimes include unnecessary details in our stories that really just gum up everything and basically, almost kill it. I've had to look long and hard at questions brought up by beta-readers and ask myself, "Is this a cape? Does this thing have any purpose? Or is it just something that's gonna drag me into a jet engine."

As an aside note, encouraged by feedback I got on my picture of Kolin that I posted a week or so ago, I decided to draw my protagonist, Jordan. This is 100% original artwork. I did it with Prismacolor coloring pencil on illustration board. Then I scanned in the original on my scanner and enhanced all of the colors, added effects, and redid problematic areas using Adobe Photoshop Elements. Please be kind, I am not a professional artist. I wanted to make sure that Jordan looks 17 and not how a "high school student played by 27-year-olds" looks (Think GLEE, SMALLVILLE, etc.). I'm happy with the result. Have a great Monday.


  1. He's a nice looking kids, and looks about the right age to me.

  2. I like watching 1000 Ways to Die, though that show makes me paranoid. As far as writing goes, I think avoiding the deadly cape has been my largest challenge, though I think (I hope) I'm getting better.

  3. Wow! You created that image of your protag yourself? Well done! He does look like a proper teen. I too can't stand adults playing teenagers. Don't mind them in the movie Grease though. lol! ;)

  4. ...its all about finding that happy medium. A few extra crumbs sprinkled over the main dish can personalize one's project, cause the reader to snuggle up to the action. This is a perfect example however, of having too much of a good thing, which causes our readers to doze off, and yes, our capes are sucked into the jetstream.

    Great artwork, Michael


  5. New follower here, Michael!

    Just wanted to drop by to tell you how much I love The Incredibles! One of my fav movies! :)

  6. Oh, you drew that yourself. Very Nice!

  7. Beautiful! You've got it perfectly rendered.

  8. Wow, great artwork. And where have I been? Love your new look.

  9. I'm impressed, Michael. Hey, I might have go at that. Congratulations by the way!

  10. I'm happy with the results too! You're an incredible artist.

    And just say no to capes...unless they look exceptionally dashing with the boots. :)

  11. Super Heros need a cape!

    Great sketches!

  12. Whenever some smart-ass says that about my character, I have to tell them her cape actually does stuff--it lets her turn invisible and works as a parachute--so it's not just a fashion accessory.

  13. Wow, what a great sketch! As for 1000 ways to die, I got a lot of my material for A-Z from that. It's amazing how sad life can be and how stupid people can be.

  14. Great attention to detail and professionally executed. In short, love the result of your artwork.

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  16. i think your artwork is great. And not like a 27 year old, which is definitely a good thing.

    Moody Writing
    The Funnily Enough

  17. Love the cape analogy. Nice work with Jordan.

  18. Nice artwork. So you're MULTItalented. I'm more jealous than ever.

    RE: Capes. In "The Dark Knight Returns," Batman's cape was weighted to be used like a club. He also in that story revealed that he has the Bat symbol on his chest so that criminals will shoot at it, since it's easier to armor his chest than his head.

    So sometimes a cape is not a cape.

    On the other hand, Mr Bunches likes "The Incredibles" and sometimes will want to wear his red shirt, which he calls his "incredibles" shirt.

    "Incredibles?" he'll ask as I get him dressed.

    "No capes!" I'll say back to him.

    And we laugh.

  19. As soon as I saw the title of this post, I knew you were referencing The Incredibles. Great movie, great post. You make an excellent point.

  20. Very nice artwork and he DOES look 17.

  21. He most definitely looks 17! You did a very nice job!

  22. Great analogy! And once again, where did everyone learn how to draw. I can't draw stick figures! Amazing.

  23. I really like that--"Is this a cape?" I'm I putting it in there just to look cool, or does it actually add to the story?

    On that note, I really want to watch The Incredibles now.

  24. Yup, it's sometimes easy to get a little carried away and indulgent with adding a ton of details. Excellent analogy.

    And that drawing is fantastic!!!

  25. Love the artwork. The "no cape" analogy is one I use in real life, or at least ideally would like to practice in real life. It pertains to all forms of communication. If something doesn't add value, then it's not worth stating.

  26. nice job with the Pendragon pic, Mikey!

  27. wow, multi-talented! Writer and artist! Very impressive.

  28. I Definitely think he looks 17. Great job!!

  29. The eyes are dead on perfect in your drawing of Jordan. I also like the lean jaw line as he's coming out of his round-faced early adolescent period. Notice that Jedi usually toss off their robes before they get into a lightsaber duel? They must have gotten the cape memo.

  30. WOW! Michael, you are more talented than I ever imagined. And believe me, I can see how talented you are, but yet you still seem to amaze me. Wonderful work & I like the idea about "capes" in our writing. So true!

  31. I had no idea you were such a good artist. You should definately put up more original drawings on your blog.

  32. No criticism, I am just in awe that you can do this stuff. Jason looks innocent and fun-loving.

  33. @Sarah: Thank you for the compliment. I was trying for "nice looking"

    @L.G. Keitner: It's an interesting show. Some of the deaths are way out there. It makes you realize how frail human beings actually are.

    @Suzanne: Yay. I'm glad he looks the age he is supposed to.

    @Elliot: Ooo crumbs. Now you've introduced a cooking metaphor. I guess it just goes to show that writing can be compared to anything.

    @Jack: Thanks Jack, I'll hit you back soon.

    @Cindy: Yes, I drew it myself. 100%

    @Rusty: Thank you sir. I'll take that as a compliment from a professional.

    @Alex: Yep

    @Em-Musing: Thank you :) You've been in Mexico sipping margheritas on a beach.

    @Valentina: Oh thank you. You might have a go at what? Drawing? It's kind of fun if not time-consuming.

    @L.G. Smith: I'm not an incredible artist. I can only draw young attractive boys. If given something else to draw...say old women, fat people, old people...I fail miserably. I have a very narrow focus. That's why I'm not a real artist.

    @A Daft Scots Lass: Thank you

    @P.T.: So it's like the cape in Spawn. Todd McFarlane will want his copyright back.

    @Clarissa: Thanks for the compliment. And yeah...people can make stupid decisions. I remember having a client once that had a worker's comp claim...he was made into a quadriplegic because he jumped in the way of a wrecking ball in an attempt to stop it when it broke free of its mooring. So 150-pound guy versus ten ton wrecking ball. It wasn't pretty.

    @Elise: Thank you miss.

    @Moody: I'm glad you like it.

    @Tim: Thank you sir!

    @Matthew: Thank you.

    @Briane P: Thank you for the nice comment. I'll be by to visit the Best of Everything soon.

    @M.J.: mmmhmmm

    @Brinda: Squee. I'm glad I nailed the age right.

    @Danette: Thank you :)

    @Charity: Everyone? Who else are you speaking about? But yeah there's a lot of writers that can whip out a sketch or two. I think it comes with the territory.

    @Charlie: I'm glad the Incredibles is getting a sequel.

    @Jay: Thank you sir.

    @Tomeka: Hmmm. I'm going to disagree on communication. Sometimes we just need to hear what other people are saying, whether or not it brings any value to the table. Sometimes, people (like plants) need to be watered. The water I'm referring to is compassion. As an example, my parents rarely add anything to the table as far as value goes...but I try to listen and be there for them in their old age to hear their words.

    @Dezmond: Thank you sir. Approval from the Hollywood Spy should be an award or something. :P

    @Fairview: Thank you.

    @Falen: Thank you.

    @Leslie: I love the eyes! I worked on them for an hour all the way zoomed in so I could see each pixel on photoshop. I colored them one by one.

    @Leigh: Thanks for visiting Leigh! And thank you for the compliment. We should do another writer get-together this summer :))

    @Alyson: Thanks for your support. I could put up a few more. I've got sketches around. Some of them are naked people though. I better not put any of those up.

    @J.L.:"Jordan" not "Jason". But you're from Jamaica so I'll forgive you.

  34. LOL to the 27-year-old high school kids.

    Fab artwork, Michael. Renaissance man much?

    And I've always thought capes were sexy... along with canes, trench-coats... Such a tragic story about the guy tripping over his cape!

  35. I think your illustration is successful. He looks like a seventeen year old to me. You might consider adding a bit more shadowing to the right side of his face to match the three dimensional look you've achieved with his hands. Nice job.

  36. So you're saying capes are like elves? Pretty but unnecessary...

  37. You don't need kindness for comments on your artwork because the obvious fact is you are an impressive artist. The portrait of Jordan is great. And I'm not just saying that because (to my unending frustration) my own artistic abilities somehow never evolved past seventh grade.

  38. No capes? Great. And I was planning on making my nephew a superhero cape for his upcoming birthday.

    Back to the drawing board...

  39. Scary cape story!

    You are so talented.

  40. Your rendition of Jordan is great. Not a 27-year-old trying to be 17 at all.

    Your "no capes" analogy is very insightful. Hmm, I shall apply it to my writing immediately (you just helped me decide to cute an unnecessary part of my book). Thanks!

  41. That drawing of Jordan is very nice! I like it and this is coming from someone who has had some formal art training but kinda let it go to waste, lol.

    I'm not familiar with 1000 Ways to Die but based on the title, I'll be looking it up to find out what it's all about.



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  42. I'm old school...give me the capes! :)

  43. Maybe you should be -- a professional artist, that is. Great artwork. I like the cape analogy. I'm ready, willing and much to able to get sucked into a jet engine.

  44. Wow, you created that image yourself? I'm SOOO impressed. I couldn't do that. BTW - The Incredibles is my family's favorite movie. :)

  45. I love the analogy of capes (which are clearly not a good idea) to writing. Awesome post. Great picture.

  46. Wow. Great art. I loved that about no capes in the Incredibles. Sad that there's a real story about that.