FAF with Radio Interview

After my continent-spanning tour for Goliath, I did what’s called a “radio tour” for the book. This phrase may sound mildly glamorous, but what it really means isn’t so much “tour” as “sit in a room and talk on the phone to strangers at weird hours of the day.”

Alas, some of these strangers will be drive-time yuck-meisters who talk in their funny radio voices EVEN WHEN NOT ON THE RADIO. It is churlish to complain about any form of publicity, but those guys hurt my brain.

Them: “So what ABOUT that World War I, huh? It was a PRETTY BIG DEAL!”

Me: “Yes. About fifteen million people were killed, and another thirty million succumbed to the Spanish flu cause by the dislocation of–”

Them: “So, are they gonna make a MOVIE?”

Rest assured, though, that many of my interviewers were articulate hosts who’d read the book and had cool questions. I thought I’d share one of the resulting interviews, from Texas Public Radio’s Some Books Considered. The host is Dan Skinner.

(And yes, it DOES sound like I have a lisp. I think that’s my crappy phone’s fault. Well, not MY phone. I don’t actually have a landline, and had to borrow one. Because, excuse me, LANDLINE? Sorry, but 1993 called and asked to have their communication protocols back, so I sent them all the twisted copper in my house.)

Click here to listen to the interview at TPR’s site.

And now for some FAF.

Two weeks ago, I said that Helen Yoon’s lovely piece of fan art would make a good poster for Goliath, the Musical. And someone did it . . .

Remix by is by Margaret E. Original art by Helen Yoon.

And here are two chibi pieces from Helen. Lil’ Lord Alek:

And the mighty Deryn Sharp, of the Clan McSharp:

Chibi versions of a character allow us to see into the true soul of that character. Of this I approve.

And from one of my rather younger readers, Jeremiah, here’s a Clanker vs. Darwinist battle!

I can’t tell you how many things like this I used to draw as a kid. But it was always either World War II or aliens vs. tanks. But I never did any drawings with a bat-poo attack. No, we didn’t have bat-poo warfare in my day. We used to lie awake at night, dreaming of bat-poo warfare. You kids don’t know how lucky you are.

And here’s a sketch from Eli, clearly inspired by the Goliath bonus chapter:

I can see there’s going to be more Alek in a dress stuff. And why not?

And here’s something for those of you who’ve been asking for more Newkirk. Here he is! On an old-school motorcycle!

And finally, this steampunk scrapbook by fanpireashley:

It is a beautiful thing.

For the first time in a year or so, my coffers are slightly low on fan art. Maybe it’s because the series is *sniffs* over. But feel free to send some my way.

Please Enjoy Some Croy

Shay’s Story, the manga-style graphic novel telling the Uglies story from Shay’s POV, comes out February 28, 2012. Also known as 56 days from now!

During this eight-week countdown, I’ll be treating you to reveals of all the characters, one per week. We will be voting each week about what character to show, but because Croy would win all the votes, we’ll’ just start with him.

Here are three images of the same panel, showing the pencils, inks, and toned stages that every page goes through. And yes, I get to comment at every stage. Quality control!

Without further ado, I offer you Croy on a hoverboard:

The art is by Steven Cummings, who you can follow on Twitter, or check out on Deviant art. The toning and lettering are by Yishan Li. Text by me and Devin Grayson.

You can pre-order Shay’s Story at Indie Bound, BarnesandNoble.com, or Amazon. Or purchase it on February 28 at bricks-and-mortar stores everywhere.

Double-Plus FAF

Two things before we get to Fan Art Friday:

1) Next Thursday, December 8 at 7PM EST, I’m going to be part of a Figment.com chat called “Forget English Class; What We Want to Do Is Write!” I’ll be joined by David Levithan, Robin Wasserman, and Lauren McLaughlin, whose book Scored inspired the panel.

This chat will be online, so ALL OF YOU CAN COME! Just click here for details.

We’ll be talking about how high-stakes testing warps education by taking holistic enterprises (like writing, thinking, and comprehension) and slices them into testable skills (like syllogisms and five-paragraph essays).

To prepare for this chat, Lauren and I actually took the essay section of the SAT, and had ourselves scored by a professional examiner. I haven’t seen our scores yet, but all will be revealed at the chat! (I think Figment are even putting my essay online. Yeesh.)

You can also click here for more about Scored, which is out now. It’s set in a dystopian world where every kid gets a Score when they turn 18, determining their prospects for the rest of their life.

2) There’s less than one week left in the Show Us Your Steampunk contest! Just take a picture of yourself in a steampunk outfit holding a copy of one of the Leviathan books, and you’re in. Click here for details.

Even if you don’t want to dress up, you should head over and check the contest out. There are some really awesome costumes and poses. (It’s a FaceBook thing, though, so you have to have an account.)

And now it’s time for FAF!

We begin with this Deryn chibi, by Jett-Wolfe98:

That is some cute stuff.

Also pinning our kawaii meter is this young-and-old diptych of Deryn by danakairi:

Yes, it’s Deryn in a dress. But it’s TINY WEE Deryn in a dress.

And to complete this chibi trifecta, here’s a lovely image of how Alek really feels about the air beast, from LilyFlowerG:

Okay, let’s leave the cute behind and switch to dark and brooding. Check out this moody picture of Alek in his engineering finery, from peibee-an-jay:

I always love seeing his princeliness covered in grease. Heh.

Now here’s some cosplay from Ben, who spent this Halloween as a rigger.

You have to like the humble cosplayer who’s not a particular character, just a rigger with an air rifle and a candy bag.

And here’s a couple of sketches, this Aya Fuse from . . . I don’t know whom!

And here’s a comic one of Alek and Volger from Ian:

From Laura, we have an Alek’s-eye-view image from the raging storm scene in Goliath. With bonus thumb!

From Clare, here’s a cool profile of Alek, proving that he doesn’t suffer from the Hapsburg chin:

Okay, I have a few more in the shed, but I always like to keep a reserve for next week. But if you’ve sent in some art in the last few months and haven’t seen it here, feel free to resend.

Hope to see you all at the chat next week!

Oh, and you can also keep voting on the BONUS piece of Leviathan art!

Fan Art Friday (catching up edition)

I’m finally catching up on my FAF backlog. There were two weeks of tour-FAF with a Halloween FAF in between, a missed week due to the Shay’s Story cover (and laziness), and of course all those weeks I missed during tour. But at long last FAF is moving forward!

Here’s one image that was given to me on tour, but was forgotten because it was handed to me on an iPhone, then emailed. (It’s made of PIXELS.) It’s from Alli, is called “NOOOO!” and is a Tesla’s-eye-view of a certain climactic event in Goliath.

Yes, the end of a tesla-sparkle-cane looks like an ouchy place to be.

I like this one of Deryn by Hillary, called “Miss Sharp.” Clearly she’s in female clothing, but this must be a bit after the Great War ends, because it’s 1920s-looking. (I think.)

Really cool clothes, actually. I think Deryn will look excellent in the ’20s, which will also be her 20s. (Alek and Deryn were both born in 1899, after all.)

I LOVE this whale-o-plane combination of Leviathan and How to Train Your Dragon by Adventaim!

It just makes me smile.

And here’s some hydrogen-sniffer love from ladygreyembyr:

I like the texture on this one. But man, hydrogen-sniffers are anxiety-making when you really look at them. That’s what I like about Keith—he’s not afraid to draw some disturbing stuff.

And for you Uglies fans whose ears just perked up, this just missed the Halloween cosplay edition. Specials!

I must say, that line never gets old. I know someone who’s getting it tattooed on their arms, so we may be seeing it here on FAF soon.

Okay, that’s only five FAs, but Friday in the US is drawing to a close, it’s done here in Sydney, and I need to make lunch!

See you early next week for a special poll. (You will enjoy it.)

Uglies Manga Cover

Hey, all. It’s Friday and time for FAF, but I’m delaying my weekly fan art feature till tomorrow.

Why? Because it’s time to reveal the cover for the Uglies manga, also known as Uglies: Shay’s Story!

The image is by Steven Cunmmings, the interior artist. It’s a picture of Shay herself, presumably just emerging from being made pretty. She has that pretty vacant look in her eyes. Of course, the book starts way before that, several months before the novels before the novels, in fact!

Click here for an interview with me and Devin Grayson, my co-writer on the manga, with Girls Read Comics Too. You’ll also get some images from the books.

Click here for my own FAQ, answering your questions about the books.

And here for the original announcement about the series back at San Diego Comic Con. More art to look at!

And finally, here’s the back cover of Shay’s Story, with all the promo copy.

See you tomorrow for Fan Art Friday (um, on Saturday).

Bonus Info
Forgot to say: The first book in the Uglies manga series comes out Feb 29, 2012, in just under 100 days! There will be three books in all.

Fan Art Friday, Cosplay Edition

Hey, everyone! I am headed to Sydney in a matter of days. DAYS!

But it’s almost Friday, so instead of packing I’ve spend the morning on this Hallowe’en FAF, starring you guys in wonderful steampunk and Uglies costumes. (Sorry if I’m missing a few names. I had a lot of these pics around.)

Let’s start with this awesome Stormwalker contraption:

That is one cool cosutme, though I fear it would be less than optimal for dancing. (Note that the kid on the right is wearing a Whoopie Cushion costume. Hmm.)

And here’s an awesome Mr. Sharp pumpkin:

I have a theory that the internets have improved pumpkin carving, because the potential audience for pumpkins is so much larger. Instead of mere dozens of people seeing your carving work, thousands will!

Here’s Dr. Barlow by Jett, complete with dog-with-streaked-fur-as-Tazza!

And now for a plethora of Deryns!





And Lizzy:

And, because I am disorganized, another anonymous!

Julia sent me this goggle-gif:

And here’s a Deryn and Alek pair, anonymously (as in, I forgot the names) from Twitter. Wear your steampunk geekery with pride! At work!

A quartet of steampunkers from Mallory, because more is better!

And this comic from (argh, can’t find the name!, showing what Alek and Deryn dressed up like this Halloween:

The dialog is, of course, a joke about Alek’s sticky-outy ears.

Finally, a Special Tally-wa from Ally-wa, complete with hoverboard:

Don’t forget, the Show Us Your Steampunk contest is still happening over on FaceBook. Just take a picture of yourself in a steampunk outfit holding a copy of one of the Leviathan books, and you’re in. Just click here for details.

Fan Art Friday (now on Sunday!)

Yes, well. I’ve made it before the weekend ended. Fan Art Friday Fortnightly!

ComickerGirl has graced these pages before, but this is too funny to pass up. It shows Deryn and Alek doing some Full Metal Alchemist cosplay! Because you know Deryn would cosplay if she could, and would totally drag Alek along for laughs!

So I give you “Full Metal Darwinist”:

If you don’t know FMA, click here to see the relevant costumes. And then go read the manga and watch the anime (both of them!).

From Bridget, here are Alek and Deryn in a more clay-like form:

This is what we need, Leviathan stop-motion animation! Like Gumby, they could walk into other books and mess up the plots. Someone get on that! (And don’t forget to check out Bovril in the upper right corner.)

And now for you Uglies, from Seth, we have this painstaking rendering of New Pretty Town:

Hot-air balloons! Hovercars! Fireworks!

And from Star of Dusk, here’s a cool shot of Lilit:

I think Lilit is beloved of fan artists because she has such cool clothes. (Plus she’s awesome.) Her sleeve ties are the best. One day I’ll ask Keith where he sourced them from.

I’m pretty sure that IsabelStar has appeared on FAFF before, but this is so moody and lovely:

Click here for the bigness!

By the way, that one’s called “Austrian Princes Turning Gay.” Heh. But princes? Hmm.

Thanks to all our artists for your many efforts. If you want something included in FAFF, please send it to me, even if you’ve already sent it! (I get lots of mail and I lose track of some of it. It’s a thing I do. DON’T HATE ME.)

The next post on this blog will be ALL THE TOUR DATES. I’m very excited about seeing you guys soon (some of you *sniffs*), and about Goliath finally coming out. And I’m also excited about taking some time off after that.

What will I be doing next? Well, that’s an interesting question. There is, of course, the Uglies manga (aka the Croy Project) and the Manual of Aeronautics (aka the Leviathan Full-Color All Singing and Dancing Art Book). But there are also various secret projects which will be revealed here once they have taken some sort of publishable form.

Watch this space for revelations.


Forgot to do Fan Art Friday Fortnightly, but I’ll do it over the weekend. Promise!

In the meantime, here’s CL, Minzy, Dara, and Bom of the Korean girl-group 2NE1 with their latest video, “UGLY” . . .

Your Manga Questions, Answered

Good news: the Forums are working again! But as you can see the interface doesn’t look all Leviathan-y anymore, which is sad. We’re going to get that fixed, but I figured it was more important to make them work again before making them boo-tiful.

That was not scheduled maintenance, by the way, just a tech’splosion followed by some updates that we had to do anyway. Sorry for your withdrawal symptoms! I hope you spent the extra time learning French or something useful like that.

Better news: the paperback of Behemoth is officially out today! You may purchase it at better bookstores everywhere.

Okay, now for your manga questions! (All taken from the last comments thread.)

Do you know where you will be going on the Goliath tour yet?

It’s almost confirmed. I will be posting the tour dates soon! Most of you will hate me, but that’s the way it works, because you outnumber me and are widely distributed. (You should, like, all clump together.)

People on the west coast will certainly be happy, and some people in the middle too. No plans for anything outside the US yet, but I will be doing something in Australia this next southern summer. (If you’re Brazilian, write my publishers and demand me! I want to go to there.)

Any particular reason you chose left to right instead of right to left?

This is original-English manga, which are usually read from left to right, cause that’s how we English speakers roll. I read both ways without much bother, as I’m sure most of you do, so I didn’t actually think about it.

Regarding the Uglies light novel in Japan- did you try to branch out and make the characters look different from that one?

My artist never saw those editions (even though he’s in Japan), so we weren’t starting with those characters at all.

Where can we buy this manga?

AT ALL THE STORES (that sell manga or graphic novels) and on the usual internets. The publisher, Del Rey, has very wide distribution in stores, schools, and libraries, so it should be pretty easy to find.

Do you know when they’ll be available in stores?

May 2012. That’s as specific as I have so far.

You should, like, give us a slight sneakity-peakity every so often. Just enough to make us want it more, you know?

Yes, I do know. And I WANT you to want it more.

Luckily, there are lots of pages to show.

How, if at all, do you think the creation of this manga will influence the making of the movie? Do you think the casting director will try to chose actors based on their appearance in the manga, etc.?

Casting directors will probably pay no attention. With actors, it’s more about stuff like fame and chemistry and salary. But I have sent manga pages to Lola (the vfx company involved with the Uglies movie), and they’re doing “pre-visualizations” now, so it’s possible that the architecture and tech in the film will be influenced by Steven’s work.

There’s no concerted effort at consistency, however.

So….which big announcement was the Croy project?

The manga! As one of the original Crims, he’s in volume 1 quite a bit. Do you want to SEE HIM?

Anyway, will any pages be in colour, or is it all going to be in black and white?

Just black and white and shades of gray.

I honestly pictured dorm uniforms having a plaid kilt EXACTLY like the one in the illustration! Maybe someone important read my fanfic…JK LOLZ.

Yes. We ALL read your fan fic. And, yeah, manga is all about school uniforms.

What IS manga, anyway? What sets it apart from plain old comic books?

Well, as someone pointed out in the comments, “manga” is just the Japanese word for “comics.” Here it means, of course, comics in a style that started in Japan but that has become global in reach and influence.

Steven has done both manga and western comics, and co-created Tokyopop’s Pantheon High with his wife, Megumi. (He pencils, she inks.) And like I said, he lives in Japan. And our toner, Yishan Li, hangs out a lot in Edinburgh, but does loads of manga for Yaoi press in the US and has been published in China as well. (SINO-SCOTTISH MANGA!)

But the reason I thought manga would make sense for Uglies is simple: manga has a set of codes for dealing with beauty that western comics do not have. And most of these codes match up with the pretty operation in the books.

Like, big eyes, anyone?

Pretty! (Whether or not you’re into purple hair.)

There’s a wonderful thing about text-only novels: you make things happen with words alone, so you can convince your audience of all sorts of things that would be hard in a movie.

For example (*SPOILER ALERT*), in the The Last Days I write about a band that rocks so hard that they can call up giant monsters from the underground. Now, if you adapted a film of that novel, the band would have to ACTUALLY ROCK THAT MUCH, or it would be stupid when the giant monsters arrived. And even if the band rocked a lot, some people would still hate the film because they simply don’t like that sort of music.

But in a novel, you can just declare things and they become true (if you can write well enough, that is).

The same problem obtains with Uglies. In text, I can make you and your friend both think pretty Zane is wicked hot, even though you both have totally different tastes in lanky emo dudes. The power of the word!

On the other hand, when the movie is made, if you think the main actors cast as pretties are totally not pretty, or were way hotter back when they were “ugly,” it sort of messes up the reality of the story. (This is why I’m working with a facial visual effects company as a financial backer, so they will have a real-world motivation to get that stuff as right as possible, and we can do computery tricks with people faces.)

But back to manga. In most manga, “pretty” is a style: big eyes and sparkles. (Not that we’re going with sparkles, but you see what I mean.) Manga comes with a pre-existing package of ways to communicate beauty, even if your audience doesn’t all agree on what’s beautiful!

Remember when Hollywood used to do “ugly” by putting a fantastically pretty woman in chunky glasses with her hair in a bun? Her being unattractive was signaled by codes rather than actual unattractiveness, a polite fiction. (This, of course, created a generation who react to chunky glasses and hair-in-bun by saying, “Whoa. Hot!” But I digress.)

Anyway, that’s where I started from. We’ll see if this works.

And just so I don’t look dumb, let me say that I do realize that western comics have beauty codes as well. But they’re mostly kind of like this:

And I didn’t want to go there.*


*Yes, literal-minded denisons of the internet, I KNOW that manga has sexy girls and boys as well. But I think the codes are genuinely different, and the manga ones line up better with the Uglies canon. The proof will be in the pudding.

Behemoth in Paperback (US)

The day after tomorrow, Tuesday August 9, is the release date of Behemoth in paperback! So Keith and I made this poster for you all.

Click here for a wallpaper-size version.

And now for some more exciting news: The Uglies manga!

For those of you who haven’t seen this elsewhere on the interwebs, my OTHER big announcement at Comic Con was the upcoming manga based on the Uglies series. I say “based on” but rest assured, this isn’t simply the same story in graphic form. Instead, we’re telling much the same story as in the novels, but it’s all from Shay’s point of view. (So who’s we, you ask? More on that later.)

Now as you Uglies scholars know, Shay taught Tally everything she knew. Shay was involved in subversive activities long before the novels open, and was part of the Crims back then they were an ugly clique headed by . . . Zane. (Ugly Zane!)

And remember how Shay and Zane almost ran away to the Smoke together, but they both chickened out? Well, that’s the story they told Tally. But what really happened back then?

In these manga—three of them, about 180 pages each–we will tell all!

Okay, we includes me, Devin Grayson, Steven Cummings, and Yishan Li. That’s right, there are four of us. Here’s what we all do:

Devin is writing the scripts. She’s written lots of superhero comics, including a ton of Batman titles, but I was won over by a miniseries she created for Vertigo called User, which is about the fantasy lives of gamers in the real world.

Now you may be thinking, “Why didn’t you write it, Scott? Arne’t you, like, a writer and stuff?”

Rest assured, I outlined every book in detail, rewrote some bits, and approved every word. But, seriously, I don’t know how to write comics scripts! And part of wisdom is knowing what you can’t do. It’s been amazing to see Devin adapt this story to another medium, and get into the mind of Shay. (A great learning experience that I may put to use one day . . . )

Steven is the artist for the series. He’s drawn many western titles for DC and Marvel, and manga books for Tokypop and Udon. He lives in Japan, and has worked bravely through earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear meltdowns. Again, I’ve paid close attention to everything, approving all the characters, costumes, technology, and the architecture of the Smoke, New Pretty Town, and other locales. Of course, Steven brings his own flair to the characters’ expressions and movements, and to the look and feel of the future. For me, it’s kind of like directing actors who have their own style.

Yishan is doing the toning and lettering for the series. In other words, she shades Steven’s art and adds the word balloons. Key steps, and ones I never really thought about much before this project. But you’ll see below how Yishan’s shading “lights” the scene.

Let me show you how this all works, starting with page 12 of the first manga.

We start with the script:

PAGE 12, panel one
ECU on Shay’s interface ring as she gently puts it down on a bedside table.

1 SHAY: Good night, stupid room.

Page 12, panel two
Pull back for our first establishing shot of Shay’s dorm room. It’s very small and very basic, the only truly decorative elements (IMPORTANT!) being huge software-generated pictures of Shay as a pretty taking up whole walls, larger-than-life and overwhelming (not all identical, though – some variations on the theme; some with weird plastic surgery, cat-like or whatever, but all recognizably Shay). Scott says wall screens are cheap tech in this world, so the images can be animated, changing between frames (though Shay would be used to this, so no need to draw undue attention to it, just let it give the visuals an extra futuristic kick). But these aren’t just projections, they’re mammoth, digitalized photo-posters.
There’s also a bed (see references at end of script), the previously mentioned bedside table with some kind of post-modern light, maybe a super utilitarian desk, and her hoverboard leaning beside a window just big enough for her to crawl through.
Shay has just put her interface ring down on the bedside table and is pulling down the blankets on her bed. She’s not dressed for bed, though, instead wearing her normal day uniform including her hoodie.
NOTE from Scott: we need one specific balloon shape (and maybe font) for objects talking. It can be fairly obvious and zappy.

2 ROOM/ tailless: Sweet dreams, Shay.
2 SFX:

Page 12, panel three
Shay pulls off the parka and shoves it under the covers…

3 CAPTION/SHAY: Got the coat-interior set close to body temp…

Page 12, panel four
…before shaping it to look as much like a person sleeping under the covers as possible.

4 CAPTION/SHAY: …not perfect…

Page 12, panel five
Shay then grabs her hoverboard…

5 CAPTION/SHAY: …but neither are the sensors in this bogus dorm.

Page 12, panel six
…and climbs with it out the window with a brief glance over her shoulder.

6 CAPTION/SHAY: Sometimes I think they want us to sneak out.


Okay, first I take a look at the script and add notes or edit dialog. Then Steven reads it and emails me and Devin with any questions. Once everything is clear to him, he does very rough “thumbnail sketches,” which look like this:

At this stage, I approve things like the furniture and the general flow of the page. I love all the high camera angles and such. We’ve already discussed ugly dorm rooms, which are really basic, kind of like a rustic summer camp. And of course Shay and her dorm uniform have already been drawn a few times and approved.

With my blessing, Steven moves onto the pencils stage.

As you can see, lots more details have appeared. I still love the page, but I’m leery of the books on the shelves at first, because there aren’t a lot of physical books in Tally’s city. But Shay does take handwriting classes, so I can imagine her keeping a diary or maybe having some old-fashioned books around. Plus, technologies don’t completely disappear. There are people who still write with fountain pens, after all.

Speaking of fountain pens, the next stage is inks!

I don’t usually have comments at the inks stage, because everything has already been approved (and it’s hard to erase now, dude!). But that’s okay, beacuse it’s starting to look pretty real.

Next it goes to Yishan for toning and lettering. And thus we have the final version:

Click here for the bigness!

So that’s basically how it works, except with more emails between me and Steven and Devin (and our editor) than I’ve let on, plus lots of up-front design work on costumes and characters, x 180 pages for each book.


But we are on our way, and the first manga will be out from Del Rey in May 2012. Of course, there will be lots of previews between now and then, especially after I get back from the Goliath tour.

Hope you like the look of things. Ask any Uglies manga questions you have below, and I’ll try to answer them in my next post.