Inside the Mind of Kurtis J. Wiebe

A Life's Journey

Month: September, 2012

Peter Panzerfaust: Paris

If you’ve followed my blog with any sort of regularity, you’ll know about the fate of Green Wake. Shortly after the announcement of the series becoming ongoing, Riley and I had to make the decision to cancel it early because of dwindling sales. Of course, Green Wake was a little different than Panzerfaust in that I’d never planned a continued series for it (I had many ideas, but assumed it would be a five issues series).

Peter Panzerfaust was always planned as a long form story. Obviously with the cancellation of Green Wake fresh in the minds of both Jim Valentino and I, we went into this new series with a bit of caution. We talked about the continuing story but didn’t announce it until issue #3 as the numbers had stayed level from the beginning. So, there was no mad rush to come up with an outline for the next arc when the decision was made.

This series was meant to be 25 issues.

Here we are, then. The second season of Peter Panzerfaust is called Paris. It takes place very soon after the finale of the first arc and we shift narrators to the stoic young man named Julien, or, as Peter affectionately called him, Curly. This was an intentional shift and a narrative point that had been planned since the very beginning. It allows us to see Peter through the eyes of someone very different and for both Tyler and I to explore the legend of Peter in a new way.

When I started writing #6, I had already penned a very in depth summary and so it was a matter of filling in the details. I was surprised at how quickly the mood and tone of Paris fell into place. It was still Peter Panzerfaust but Julien’s outlook very much changed the world that Peter and the boys lived in. More real. More grounded. It also became something akin to a 1950’s heist movie with certain scenes and dialog. It was something very new and exciting.

Of course, the best part of this issue for me is that final page and I can’t wait to hear people’s reaction to it.

The next issue ramps up the danger and action to a level not yet seen in this series, I even made a tweet about the level of violence in it as I was a little surprised at how a specific scene played out. Then, not long after, I realized that this is a path that Peter and the boys must eventually follow and there’s no way around it. This is war, and it’s come to them at last.

And as we all know-

War is hell.

Some things to look forward to.

Shuster Award 2012 Win

I was sitting on my sofa watching some Wonder Years to pass the time while a friend of mine live tweeted the Shuster Awards as they were announced. I won’t lie, I was a bit nervous and anxious. I’d felt a sense of pride at being nominated alongside some amazing Canadian talent and I was more than happy to  nominated. That’s what everyone says, right?

It was true for me but, of course, deep down I wanted to win.

More awards were announced, more were tweeted, and then I got a text from my friend the second it happened. Best writer goes to…

You.

My exact text back was: Bullshit.

I never expected to win. That’s the truth, not some false attempt at modesty. Since Saturday I’ve had a bit of time to think about the year that led to the Shuster award and despite wavering confidence in my writing, I know now that Green Wake was an important book. Not just for me, but for a lot of readers.

Green Wake meant something.

Of course, this award wouldn’t have even been possible without the talents of my co-creators. Riley Rossmo is one of the nicest, most creative people I know. He’s a good friend and our journey together on Green Wake was an interesting one. Riley’s seen my life transition in many ways over the last few years and he’s always been there to offer advice, on life and in creativity, and that friendship poured into the pages of Green Wake.

When we set out to create the series, we were relative acquaintances, but by the end had become good friends. I’m very proud of that.

So, Riley. Thank you. You’ve been a huge support in some very difficult times. This award is equally yours.

I also want to thank Jim Valentino. It’s been his support that has gotten me this far and he continues to encourage me, both in my writing and my personal life and he’s become a professional mentor and friend. There have been a few occasions where I was so frustrated with my writing and with my career, to the point of throwing in the towel, and Jim has sent an encouraging email or gave me a quick call to keep me focused. I don’t know many publishers that take such a personal approach to creators, and it makes him one of a kind.

To my other artistic collaborators, mainly Aluisio, Tyler and Scott, you guys have made me laugh and feel sadness for the characters I’ve created, bringing out the emotion in ways that are distinctly your voice. I appreciate your talent and friendship and you each have amazing things ahead of you. It’s been an honour to work with you.

To my friends and family, you’ve also seen the whirlwind of my life. The last few years have been very trying and I haven’t always been that available. Whatever the circumstances, you’ve been there to pick me up or to celebrate with me when I’ve had a small victory. Best of all, you see me as I am and keep me honest and real.

Thank you to the Shuster Awards committee that enjoyed my work and gave me such special recognition. It’s such a massive honour and has made 2012 a very wonderful year.

Finally, to my readers. Where to begin? The encouraging emails, the supportive tweets, the amazing fan art and all the help getting the word out about my comic series’. I wouldn’t be anywhere without you.  Some of my best memories of the last year have been meeting you at conventions after having small conversations on Twitter or meeting you for the first time when you’ve come to thank me for what I do. Those little moments are what have made this career so valuable to me and I always look forward to meeting all the wonderful people who have helped bring me to this amazing place in life.

Excerpts Part 4

Because no matter what you think, through all this hardship, I’ve always loved you.

Excerpts Part 3

I can’t be everything you need. You need to understand that. You need to understand that you could be happy without me, if you just learned to love yourself and find your place.

Excerpts Part 2

You are missing out on the person I really am because I don’t feel safe to allow that person out. I’m so worried I’ll say something wrong, or do the wrong thing, that I just become whatever it is you need me to be so that we can make it through the day without confrontation. But that facade is cracking, and I believe it’s come to a critical point because our bouts have become venomous. I didn’t bother being anyone, anymore.

Excerpts – Part 1

That feeling, breaking a little bit at a time, but just letting it happen, sums up how I feel as the days go on. Until now, I was numb to how rotten I felt inside, how worthless and dejected I really felt. But I can’t ignore that feeling anymore, that voice demands I deserve to be treated fairly and respectfully.

Short Yarn: Gumshoe

I wrote this probably six years ago after seeing Brick starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It’s a movie that still holds a spot in my top 5 films of all time, and so I was inspired to write a short story using the same purple dialog that appeared in the film. I went even further, as it was an exercise in using language in a way I’d never done before.

Gumshoe

It’s late.

Always is.

She comes knocking, asking for help with teary eyes and the stink of whiskey on her. She’s a drama and a comedy all wrapped up into a bundle of sobbing theatrics, the kind of gal a man hates to love. Or loves to hate.

She has it all; the twinkling blue eyes, the ruby red lips. Even dead drunk she could pass for a classy star. She ain’t here to make passes, even if she was, it’s all business. Straight to the matter, bullet to the issue, fact to the fact. There ain’t no dilly dallying with this doe eyed gal.

“I’m Bernadette Winters,” she tells it to me straight, flicking coal embers from her tube cigarette, “and I need a good man to solve a bad problem.”

I solve bad problems, cold hard problems that pay good money. When enough dames with trouble bitin’ their ankles come callin’, paying big dollars to jimmy them from the bind, I’ll ditch the digs and hole up on some beach in a less god forsaken, rainy town. For now, Chicago’s all I got, and Bernadette is in a serious way. Good thing I’m a professional. Lucky for me, lucky for her; everyone wins.

“My Joe’s gone missin’, and some hep-cat’s asking for the big payola.”

She digs in her purse, all wound up and flustered, producing a sleeve of paper with more questions than answers. It’s got digits, a calling card for disaster, the connection needed to tell the operator when looking to make the deal. Bernadette doesn’t want to deal, she wants her Joe back, and she’s paying me to tell them boys she don’t mess around.

Not with me on the clock.

“300 clams, yours if you get him back. I’ll owe ya one too, never hurts havin’ a songbird on the ringer.”

She tells me his name, the gin joints Joe Frenetti calls home. She tells me of his gambling problems, the poundings he gets into over his whiskey attitude. No one loves a mean drunk. I’d wager good money Bernadette does. She knows nothing, this lamb, this white porcelain doll. Hell, if it’d been some other dusty, wailing woman, I’dve charged 500 for the effort. Not Bernadette.

One name; Jangles Jive. South Chicago. I know the place. The devil’s apartment wearing a halo, serving sin and corruption like it were an edible entree. The greasy’s speakeasy, a place where black trade and grey deals are struck at the tip of a .45.

People disappear there all the time. They always come floating back on the river. Everyone takes a dive at Jangles Jive.

* * *

She turns and walks out the office, the swivel in her hip stoking fires on a cold March morning. The door clicks shut and I’m left alone chewin’ proxy.

Time to call the big dogs, reel in the leash on the ‘who dunnits’ and ‘will do its’ of shady Chicago. No time to cool my heels, I have a scratch list of loose criminals who owe me one. I cradle the ringer and drop a name to the dame on the wire.

“Bill Thompson, South Chicago”

Baseball Billy’s a low end woodworker, a meaty hand wielding a sporty club.

“One moment, please.”

He’s an iron killer; a steely gaze and blood shot eyes, terrifying as an enraged elephant. The kind meant to be caged but no sane person would bother tryin’.

“Thompson, who’s ringin’?”

I feel ice in his voice, and I drop my name as a heater.

“Whatya want?”

I tell it to him straight, that I’m on the heels of a spectre, the Ghost of Joe Frenetti Present and I’m calling in all favours. No holds barred, I’m coming for this contract with all pistons firing.

“I’ve heard of ‘im, had big debts in Morello town, tried to swim before knowing water.”

Luigi Morello, the big cheese with a wrench grip, the type of mobster whose thoughts ended lives. I know the name by reputation and by all accounts I’m gonna need a goddamn army. I slam down the talker and kick up my stems.

It’s time to hit the streets and put a gumshoe to the ground. There’s always time for one last cigar before the big show, even though it’ll be my last.

* * *

The sky’s weeping; all din, darkness and black globs of cloud. I pull up to Jangles Jive and keep my peepers peeled, drinking in the layout, getting drunk on architecture. A gorilla guard with a Tommy stands lookout, watching for the riff raff not meant to cross the threshold. I’m one of those types, but it takes more than an animal to keep me at bay.

I slam the car door shut and leg it to the entrance, turning up my collar to fend of the biting cold rain. My shooter thumps against my beating heart.

“Ain’t no wet smacks in here, boy.”

No written invitation, and a five spot won’t be changin’ his mind. Animals speak in blood, and I make fantastic speeches.

The Only Poem I’ll Ever Post

Written a long time ago. A sad day in a dying relationship.

An Unfortunate Event

There is something elegant
in things left unsaid

Over hot coffee
and cast away glances

In those moments
I regret
another cup

And like strangers
we stand
as though nothing happened

I pay the bill
sadly
ten dollars isn’t sorry

We’ll talk later
after supper
this stubborn way of speaking

an apology.

Short Yarn: Boys in Blue

A lovely bit of ultra violence.

Boys in Blue

It’s hard to remember details when there’s teeth floating on the blood pooling inside of your mouth. I’d spit them out, but Angus sewed my lips shut.

Good thing my hands still work.

I’d been strong at first, shooting cocky glances through swollen eyes. I wrote down the first name when they put a needle through my upper lip. I’m having a hard time staying awake.

I write as slowly as I can, pinning the robberies on the family I work for, blaming broken bones for the snail pace. I’m a good liar; only two fingers are broken on my writing hand.

Tommy Burcotti.

Lucian Delgato.

Billy “Mad Switch”.

This isn’t about the names. It’s about the fact that these boys of mine know certain truths about dear old Angus and his rapscallion bunch of misfit coppers. Corrupt and rotten. I keep looking at the door like a fucking fool.

If I’m not busted out, and these boys in blue taken out, my confession is a sealed fate. I’m probably already dead. My signature is enough. Surely the family would understand, torture is just one of those things, how long could they expect me to hold out?

As I pen another name, things take an unexpected turn. Sgt. Angus McGregor draws his pistol and pushes the long, dark end against my temple.

“You fuckin’ with me?” He screams, spit soaring from his fat, sticky lips.

I’m clueless.

The fat bastard slams a greasy finger against my bloody page. He points at a name.

Danny Boy Creamed Wheat.

I don’t even remember writing it. I probably meant Danny Mizolo, but my brain is like goddamn pablum. Everything feels like cotton up there. The gorilla bashes my skull with the hard end. My head bobs, like an apple on water. Gotta gather my thoughts, clear out the cobwebs.

“Write down the names, write down the fuckin’ names, errand boy!”

Angus isn’t a happy man, the bulging vein in his head a constant reminder that this jelly filled time bomb could go off in a moment’s notice. His lanky right hand men Pietro and Fenris just stand there, wide eyed, horrified by what they’re seeing. I ignore the guns they have trained on me. I’m tempted to go crazy and lunge at them. Take the bullets and end this a little quicker. I’ll do as Angus says for now.

I tell my hand to write, but I can’t get my muscles to listen. They just hang there, dead at my sides. Goddamn it. I want to cooperate, for the sake of preservation, but all I can think about is the irony. The tasty irony that I’m hired muscle, and the good guys are working me over in a way I’d never even think of trying. I’m learnin’ from the best. I’ll have to remember some of these tricks.

“Hey, get your head off the goddamn table and write. You’ve got two minutes, or things will go from bad to much, much worse.”

My hand works. Not sure why I use it to punch Angus in the balls. He drops to the ground and a pistol magically falls into my open palm. The stroke of luck is bad news. Angus’s goons put a couple in my legs and I bounce off the fat man’s belly. I fire off two rounds before my head cracks against the floorboards. Angus takes one in the chest and temple.

Shame, I was aiming for his partners.

It sounds like nails being hammered all around me as bullets tear through the wood. With my good arm, I drag my broken carcass behind a stack of crates. I feel the stitching slide through my bloody lips as I manage a groan when I try to scream.

They’re surrounding me. Things are looking bad.

If they kill me, Angus wins, despite the bullet in his brain. They have the names they need to sell their murders. I lean out to pop Pietro’s brain but black spots pepper my eyes. I fire at a particularly large blurry spot and it groans. I grin in time to have my guts riddled with .45 rounds. Fenris flanked me.

Clever boy.

I put one between his surprised eyes. I can hear Pietro screaming. It doesn’t last long.

All I can hear now is the slowing beat of my heart. Feel it throbbing in my ears. Getting softer.

I think the door just got kicked in. Waiting on the cavalry wasn’t false hope. Jimmy and Gordie have come to blow me outta here. I can’t move. They’ll find me.

“Fan out, we’ve got casualties here.”

Doesn’t sound like the boys.

“Shit, Sarge is down!”

“Looks like he got the confession, anyway. Bastard got what he deserved.”

“There’s one alive over -”

I silence him with my last round. The second is smarter and doesn’t waste any time. Not sure if the loud crack ringing in my head is Gordie’s grand entrance, or the sound of my skull caving in. Either way, this black tunnel is a welcome change.