Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Ral’s new to the realm of immortals and otherworldly creatures, so he’s taking notes. Take a peek, and meet the characters of False Dawn through Ral’s own words.

Entry 001
Ral Dawson by Drake Tsui
Real Name: Raleigh Dawson
Alias(es): Ral; Page
Birthplace: Pequannock, New Jersey
Age: 14
Immortal Classification: Perishable
Creature Classification: Human
Known Relatives: Adeline Dawson (mother); Connor Dawson (uncle)
Height: 5’7”
Weight: 120 lbs.
Eyes: Green

Great. This is the embarrassing part where I have to tell you my first name is “Raleigh.” Yeah, my mom apparently wanted a dork. To avoid that, I go by “Ral.” Anyway, I had a great life in New Jersey (Wayne to be exact). I played soccer. My mom was a doctor, and my uncle owned a bar in Hackensack (“Forever’s Run”). I worked at it, cleaning dishes, serving some brew, injecting vodka into the peaches. Yeah, I know you’re supposed to be eighteen to serve liquor and whatnot, but my uncle gave some off-duty cops some free beer, and they looked the other way. That was until these guys called “Skadoian Warriors” came and took Connor and Mom. I’m now hanging with Casia, a were-phoenix, and Lance, a reincarnated cursed immortal, who are also looking for my mom and uncle. We pretty much try to avoid the warriors, federal agents, mercenaries, and other immortals as much as possible while looking for where the Skadoian Warriors stashed my family. Oh, and did I mention the company we do keep? Oracles, sages, unicorns, shape-shifting dragons, and the like.

Please. Like your teenage years were normal.

The Seekers' Entry

Since it has been requested, here's what I wrote:

Excerpt from Issue One—“The Awakening”

1—Establishing shot of Death Valley’s desert wilderness. Rocky sand, scattered brush, and rising mountains make a barren pressure cooker for Arthur and Jennifer to meet. See for great pictures.
JENNIFER (no pointer): Doctor—

The next four panels are flashback. Note to colorist: Gray scale, please.
2—Inside a collapsing cavern, rock and debris rain from the ceiling, and through the horror, a young man, in his mid-twenties, reaches out to the camera. He has brown, spiky hair and sun-darkened skin with a short-sleeved shirt and khaki pants. He’s terrified.

3—In a similar shot, an older African American man (in his mid-forties) is caught in the falling rock as well. He’s dressed similarly to the young man and is built like a former football wide receiver. He, too, is scared but is holding it together as the world collapses about him. He yells to someone off-panel.

4—Close-up of ARTHUR NORDEN’s face. He’s in his mid-forties with dirt brown hair, soft hazel eyes, and a fatherly face. Scars from his rock climbing days litter his muscular cheeks, and his eyes are wide with fear as he watches the two people he loves most crushed to death.
JENNIFER (no pointer): Doctor Norden—

5—From a hole in the floor, a rather muscular man (think WWE wrestler) rises. (He is the GATHERER!) He has tanned skin, rich, raven hair that falls to his shoulders, and striking green eyes underneath his long bangs. He’s nude save the golden wrist hugger on his left wrist. (Please use discretion. Tweens might read this!) For reference: The formation of the hole caused the earthquake that collapses the ceiling.
JENNIFER (no pointer): I know you said, “GO TO HELL”—

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


There are some things you’ll never get over, my mom told me back in April 2009. I had an interview with DC Comics in the production department, and it couldn’t have gone better. “If I could make my decision today…” and “you’ll definitely hear from us” were just key indicators. Three weeks later, I received a very nice letter from H.R. telling me I didn’t receive the job, but they’d keep me in mind for other positions.

I was devastated, so devastated I went to see the Hannah Montana movie. Apparently, I felt the need to be masochistic.

After a few weeks and a million boxes of tissues later, my mom said, “There are some things you’ll never get over.” But that didn’t mean I couldn’t move on. If I wanted to work in comic books, I needed to keep moving forward, continue to write, continue to improve, and I’ve done that. The Break-Out Comic Book Experiment was born later that year, and in its thesis, I gave myself three years to break-in comics in any way—as a sales coordinator, as an elevator button pusher, as a writer on Batman. It’s been twenty-two months.

I don’t know where to go from here.

Stan Lee and MTV Comics’s sweepstakes with The Seekers was a prime opportunity to showcase my talent on a large scale and hopefully break into the comic industry. I awoke every morning at two A.M. to work on this script, to foster it, to make sure it was damn near perfect, and I submitted it a good two days early. I missed one key element, though, one that a teacher in grade school drills into her students’ heads every day.


Despite implied nudity in the supplied treatment, there was to be no nudity. Well, I added it with a line, “Please use discretion. Tweens might read this!” I also added links to desert and cave references for the artist. Apparently, that was another no-no. It’s my fault. I should have read the complete contract. I just assumed that it would read, “Any likeness to your script is coincidental…etc.”

So what happens when you are your own worst enemy? What can you do?

Phil Hester tweeted not too long ago that if you work hard enough, a job is there in the comic book industry, but you MUST work hard enough. I wake up every day at three the latest to write before going to my seven A.M. to five P.M. job. I’m taking Saturday art courses at the Kubert School to get some artistic background for an editorial gig. I’m on Twitter trying to learn from the great creators of our time.

What if your “hard enough” isn’t “good enough?”

For the brief time Tony Daniel had a Tumblr account, I asked him if he always knew he was going to make it when he as a child. Was his career, in fact, destiny? He said he had always been a pretty confident kid, so he knew if he worked hard enough, he’d make it. (Spoiler: He did!)

I always thought that. I always thought if I gave it my all, I’d make it. I’d be the first female regular writer on Batman. I’d be an assistant editor, toiling under the great Axel Alonso or Bob Harras. Heck, I’d be the 1700 Broadway official elevator button pusher. (There isn’t one, guys.)

But now…after this…I really thought I had a great treatment and script for The Seekers. I really thought this was it.

And it’s not.

And it’s my fault.

“There are some things you’ll never get over,” my mom had said.

I can move on, though.

I feel like Ted on How I Met Your Mother when Lily tells him, “Maybe this is the architecture world kicking your ass out.” (Okay, that wasn’t the EXACT quote.)

Maybe this is the comic book industry kicking me out, telling me I’m not good enough and I never will be.

But then…I really don’t know what to do. This has been my dream since I bought my first comic book in Sam Goody’s when I was ten. I tell people my first comic was ‘Tec #698, but I lie. It was actually The Adventures of Batman and Robin #1. ‘Tec #698 was second, followed by Nightwing #1.

If I don’t do this, I don’t know what to do—or what to do with the notebook on my desk at work where I jot down bits of dialogue and plot, or the money that goes to comic books, or the Comic-Con tickets that just arrived on Friday. This has been my life for so long.

And just the thought of letting that go feeds the hungry in the pit of my stomach that knows what’s going to happen to Lance in False Dawn #22 and to Donnellie and Casia on that journey in Zenith’s Rise or to Bucky when he finally realizes his father is Ares. (Huh…that might not be possible now, anyway…)

The hungry eats away at me, and just like that, I’m reminded being a writer isn’t a gift. It’s a curse, and damnit. I have another year on the Experiment.

And letting go of this dream—I don’t think I could ever get over that.

Devin Leigh Michaels

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How Do You Know 028

How do you know when you've read too many comics? (NEVER)

When you believe Captain America should drive a Dodge Avenger, not a motorcycle.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

MTV Comics, Stan Lee, and The Seekers

As some of you may know, the last three weeks have been crazy. With NYCC coming up, I wanted to get this blog in order with formatting and proofreading done to all issues, begin positing with covers, and even procure profiles/sketches my characters.

Oh, and y'know, get Stan Lee and MTV Comics's project done.

Yeah, 'bout that...Stan Lee and MTV Comics are launching a new comic called The Seekers, and they're hiring newbie creators for the project. I submitted my entry just last night, and you'll know if I make the first cut Monday.

Okay, you'll know if I don't, but...*crosses fingers* I'm actually more nervous now than I was before I submitted. This is the only contest of this magnitude I know. I enter contests for short stories, novels, and one-act plays monthly, but to a write a comic book - that just doesn't happen. AND TO WORK WITH STAN LEE and MTV COMICS!


This is an incredible opportunity. Hey, if Mark Bagley can win a Marvel contest and go on to draw every major character from both Marvel and DC in the last three decades, why can't I go on to write them?

Devin Leigh Michaels

P.S. ...yes, I know I'm not Mark Bagley. Heck, no one is Mark Bagley except Mark Bagley. That’s not what I meant, and you know it.

How Do You Know 027

How do you know when you've read too many comics?

When you really wish Catagion was based on a Batman story.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

False Dawn #21: Comic Book Script

False Dawn #21: “Life or Something Called It”
Part Two of Four: Tolls
Comic Book Script—Plot for 20 Pages
Devin Leigh Michaels

Donnellie Jackson by Wolfram003
As Lance, Casia, and Donnellie dig deeper into who took Ral, Lance endures a trip down Memory Lane and boy, are there potholes.

False Dawn #21: Short Story Edition

False Dawn #21: “Life or Something Called It”
Part Two of Four: Tolls
Short Story Format
Devin Leigh Michaels

I pretend this is a dream. I pretend the sweet aroma of burnt smores isn’t the best thing I’ve ever smelled. I pretend the soft Twizzlers against my five o’clock shadow don’t tickle my chin. I pretend the warm body against me can’t burst into flames at any moment and kill me—for the fifteenth time.

Instead, I pretend that the woman I ensconce is the love of my life, and no matter what, I’m going to smell smores and feel Twizzlers for the rest of my poor, pathetic existence. I pretend that if I asked, she’d take me.

Because believing anything else at this moment will make me eat a bullet.

I know Happily Ever Afters aren’t for me. I know it’s not fair to love her. I know she deserves so much more, and yet…

I want to smell smores for the rest of my life.

“Fate is cruel, Ral,” a quasi-familiar voice echoes through my thoughts. “I’m not a fan.”

Ral, my responsibility, fights everyone and everything. I’m so proud of him.

“This, coming from Destiny?”

I take a deep breath, stealing another whiff and settling my chin in the crook of Casia’s neck.

“It’s… complicated. Every event is connected to another and another, and the past is just as important as the present or future. I won’t damn today for yesterday, Ral. Will you?”

“What can I do?”

Casia shifts to get more comfortable, her hands upon my cheek.

“Get me free. Then I will end this. WE will end this.”

I wish this moment could last forever, but I know it can’t, especially when I feel the cool trigger of the blaster against my finger.

“Yeah? Really? If you’re sooo powerful, then how did they get you the first time?”

“Maybe because he couldn’t shut up.”

By the time Ral and Nile whirl toward me, I’m already kneeling over Casia, my blaster pointed directly at Nile’s chest.

I’m not going to let this sonvabitch hurt Addy’s kid. “How’d you find us? Where’d you get the kid?”

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Loud Mouth"

This is just a fun little piece I wrote for my profolio class, Senior Writing 401, back when I was in college. I was writing Destiny's Fate at the time, and Allurin Blood, my first novel, kept popping into my head.

Anyway, Martie was a name I stuck in. I hated writing "I" at the time, and now I love writing in first person POV. Seems like internal narration has grown on me.


The precipitation in Martie’s room fell at a rate of a paper ball every ten seconds. Though she tried to scribble down ideas and finally get her groove going, the page remained silent, lost to her in a way it never had been before. When she tried to write again, her frustration grew until she crumbled up the paper and tossed it effortlessly upon the other hundred or so covering the carpet, the bed, even the hallway ground.

Another ball. Scribble scribble. Another ball, this time at Olympic speed and strength.

“Ow!” her best friend objected, rubbing his forehead. “Mind aiming that way from now on?”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How Do You Know 027

How do you know when you’ve read too many comics? (NEVER!)

When Spider-Man cures you of arachnophobia.

(Okay, he honestly didn’t, but I can at least look at a spider for two seconds now without screaming like a little girl. Progress, people!)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Do You Know 026

How do you know when you've read too many comics? (NEVER!)

When you've read the majority of these graphic novels/TPBs as single books but you still want the collected editions anyway.

My 2011 Birthday List (in no particular order)
Brightest Day Vol. 3

Fantastic Four: Volumes 1, 3, 4 by Jonathan Hickman
Chaos War: Avengers
Civil War: Hardcover-Ultimate Edition
Firebreather Volume 2
Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape
Avengers Academy: Volumes One and Two
Thor/Loki: Blood Brothers
Legion of Superheroes Vol. 2: Consequences
Young Avengers: Ultimate Collection
Avengers: Hawkeye
The New Avengers: Vol. 1& 2
Spider-Man: The Fantastic Spider-Man
Spider-Man/Fantastic Four
Red Hood: The Lost Days
Hawkeye: Blind Spot
Invisible Iron Man
Hawkeye/Mockingbird/and Black Widow: Widowmaker
Runaways-ALL OF THEM!
Titans: Family Reunion (not out until 9/20)
New Teen Titans Omnibus One
Viking by Ivan Brandon
Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest
S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects of Forever
Avengers: Vol. 2
FF: Vol. 1 (with Spider-Man)
Spiderman: Am I an Avenger?
New Avengers: Vol. 12: Powerloss
Daredevil: Cruel and Unusual
Daredevil: Return of the King
Wonder Woman: Who Is Wonder Woman?
Wonder Woman: Love and Murder
Young Allies
Hawkeye and Mockingbird
Teen Titans: Child’s Play
Teen Titans: Changing of the Guard
Teen Titans: Ravager-Fresh Hell
Spider-Man: The Complete Ben Reilly Epic Book Vol. 1
Civil War: Young Avengers and Runaways
Dark Reign: Young Avengers
X-Force: Under the Gun
X-Force and Cable: The Legend Returns
X-Force: A Force to Be Reckoned With
X-Force: Cable and the New Mutants
Fullmetal Alchemist: Volumes 25, 26
Civil War: The Amazing Spider-Man
Civil War: The Fantastic Four
Civil War: The Road to Civil War
Civil War: Peter Parker, Spider-Man
Civil War: Spider-Man
Ultimates 3: Who Killed the Scarlet Witch?

Yeah...this took me about three days to compile this list, and now I'm going to have to cut it to about six books.