Raymond Ayala interview by ICGeeks

Ray, creator/writer/mastermind of HOPE: A Tale of a Nuclear Family sits down with IC Geeks' Noel Burns.

Full interview here


  • Based on the description from the Kickstarter page it kind of sounds more like a family based Mad Max. Are you able to really show how eclectic this group is in a situation where people should just be considered people? (I could be completely off base here sorry, but I wanted to check.)
The Nuclear Family is really just that, people.  People who share hope in a place where hope is not encouraged.  So where do you find the strength for that?  Why would you push on?  We play with those ideas in the limited series.  This is a family that’s not a family, different background, different beliefs, different emotions, etc.  The drivers and events that forge each character are diverse and I’ll try my best to make that interesting within the context of an adventure story.

Blog on Wheels

Trying to keep this blog active is much harder than it looks, so sorry about the lack of regular updates, folks The last post was a bit random, but it was really kind of a writing exercise.

I was just sitting at Starbucks, working on a script, and got stuck. So I glanced around the room, and found two people engaged in a conversation right next to me; I decided, why the hell not, I'll write about them, and impose what I imagined was going on. I'm not too confident in my writing skills, so it was practice for me, and something I posted here for fun. I have another similar exercise, but I'll post that a little later.

What I thought I'd do today was write about some of the TV shows I've been watching, well actually one. But I'll start off by listing some of the shows I'm watching right now e.g., Prime Suspect, Parks and Rec, Community, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Netflix), The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad. Two of those shows are on AMC, which last night debuted an ambitious new venture into the western drama, Hell on Wheels.

 Now, I'm a sucker for the western genre, or at least the modern ones. I'm of the mind that Deadwood is one the top 3 TV shows of all time. I liked 3:10 to Yuma and True Grit, and I absolutely loved Rockstar's 2010 videogame Red Dead Redemption. I can honestly say I don't know what the appeal of the western is for me, though. Maybe the vision of the open prairie, the sense of discovery in a harsh and unknown land. Maybe it's the idea of a world with few laws, and few honest men to uphold them. Maybe it's the sense of danger, the risks and rewards of one's actions, where anything can happen. Or maybe it's the impending conflict between one's right to live a life as one pleases against the struggling growth of nation finding it's identity. Whatever it is, I can't really get enough of it, so you can understand I was eagerly waiting for HoW's premiere.

 *Spoilers ahead* What I watched last night was kind of a sloppy mess, a show being held up by actors much better than the material their scripts contained. The dialogue was lazy; the writers intent on telling us everything up front, and leaving us with hardly anything to look forward to. We learned of our gunslinger protagonist, Cullen Bohannan played by Anson Mount, that he was a confederate soldier who fought for 'honor', a former slave owner who later freed those slaves one year before the civil war after being enlightened by his northerner wife, and now bent on revenge for her murder, all in less than an hour. We are never shown this by example or subtlety, we are told blatantly, in the dialogue.

After that, we are then introduced, one by one, to all of the major characters quickly and systematically. 

Elum, played by Common, is part of the "cut" crew, a team made up of other former slaves whose job is the back-breaking labor of digging up the ground in the front of the line. He is angry and frustrated by how little has changed since the Civil War. That's all we know about him. With all the information we got about Bohannon, we get close to nothing about Elum. Common isn't left with much to work with, and it doesn't help that he possess little if any on-screen charisma.

The only motivation for Elum's character is his hatred for Ted Levine's portrayal of (as far as I know) a nameless man, one who is in charge of the hiring and management of what seems to be the entire road crew collective. It doesn't help Mount or Common that he steals every scene he is in, overshadowing their performances. Sure, he is a racist self-hating scumbag, but Levine seemed to embody his character with depth and meaning, giving him room for a possible story arc. It's really too bad the writers killed him off at the end. His character provided a constant thorn in Elum and Bohannon's side for the short time he was there. At the end of that scene, I wondered what was left for our heroes.

There is also Lilly, the wife (?) and partner of Robert Bell, the road survey team leader working for the railroad company owned by Thomas Durant. Oh, her lover happens to also be ill, coughing into her face as they attempt to share a quiet moment in an picturesque hillside that is remorsefully described by her as "bewitching", How tragic. Why bother though, he's just going to get killed anyway, leaving me wondering why the writers needed him to be sick in the first place. It was of course a lame device to make him too slow to escape the impending attack from the 'savages'. As he lays dead, she grabs the maps and runs. Um, why would she find these maps so valuable now? Her boyfriend, along with the rest of the survey team, was just killed, and she just had an arrow shot through her hand and into her shoulder? To what purpose would saving these maps provide? Is Durant keeping something or someone hostage? I couldn't tell you.

And finally, we have the only character based on an actual human being, Thomas 'Doc' Durant, played by the consistently excellent Colm Meaney. Unfortunately, Meaney is given little to work with, confining his character to be just shy of the curly mustache villain. Durant, the business mogul hired to build this half of the Transcontinental Rail Road, cares nothing for his workers and his employees, only concerned with how much he can milk out the the government's deal to pay him, by the mile. Remember what I said about how the writers lacked subtlety and nuance? They thought it would be wise for Durant to recite a bloated monologue at the end, naming himself the villain. You know, just in case we couldn't figure that all out. The whole thing stank of some desperate homage to Ian McShane's monologues as Al Swearengen of Deadwood. I have no doubt Meaney would have been able to pull it off, if his lines were written with as much flair and complexity.

With all this said, I'm going to stick with HoW for at least another episode. I really do want the show to succeed, it still has so much potential. I hope that Mounts is given opportunity to be more than a brooding, dark anti-hero archetype, and I hope Common can fit his stride once his character is fleshed out. As disappointed as I am with the constraints put on Meaney's performance, and the wasted talent of Levine, I still hope for the best is yet to come. Westerns seem to be a dying breed, and I would hate for it to vanish with this. This show needs to make it, for itself and it's creators, and for AMC in general.

Small Talk. A short story.

He was a simple man. Said little. Only the things that needed to be said, so he wasn’t much for small talk. But he was here anyway, because she asked him to be. She talked a lot. He sat there patiently, talking to her about each other’s phone plans, his hiking, her work, the weather outside and how nice it was. His baritone voice complimented her high enthusiasm. The worn, faded blue cap he wore sat low over his brow, her tight long sleeve shirt accentuated her curves. A detail that did not go unnoticed by him, or any of the other men in the café. She brushed a few strands of auburn hair off of her face as she spoke about her family, he tilted his cap back, scratched at his receding hairline. She sat forward, he readjusted in his chair. He squinted his eyes against the slits of blinds feebly blocking out the glare of the sun, she huddled in her corner, the warm light at her back. She kept talking her small talk, taking over the conversation. She laughed, he smiled politely. He crossed his arms, as it was cold in the café. She didn’t seem to mind the chill, the conversation seemed to keep her energy high. She glanced at her phone, out of habit. He adjusted his cap, out of habit. She commented on how nice a day it was again, he nodded in agreement. They talked some more. She excused her herself to the ladies room. She offered him coffee before she left, he refused politely and agreed to watch her bag as she got up. The café was loud, people ordering, the baristas talking and one was singing. He sat there still, deep in thought, unmoving. He sat there, arms crossed, legs stretched out, staring out the window. He was used to the waiting. Someone might think he was asleep, his back to most of the patrons. She came back a few minutes later, her pretty face spoiled by a frown. She told him she was still waiting for the bathroom, someone spending too long a time in there. She made a joke about it, he chuckled. He wasn’t one to tell jokes. Still more small talk. Her olive skin barely revealed her age, the lines around her mouth creased ever so slightly as she laughed at another humorous quip she made. She ran her fingers through her shoulder length hair, as she sat down. The crinkles around his eyes folded as he smiled again. He played the conversation game well. She stirred the topic to about dogs. He shared with her a little about his own, and she shared her dislike with small dogs and their insistent yapping. She laughed, he smiled. She commented on the weather, about how warm and bright it was, suggesting that they might go somewhere, do something. There was a few seconds of silence. Finally he bit, and said he wasn’t much for being indoors anyway. She immediately agreed with a smile and got up. She walked out the door, him in tow.

HOPE needs your help!

Please visit and donate to HERE and give a comic book I helped work on a chance to get published. Donate and get cool stuff!

The High Priest is finally up!

Hey you!

Please check out Unknown Komics. It's ran by writer/creator Chris Hartmann, and two of his stories are up, including part 1 of the The High Priest, the one I illustrated. It was a lot of fun to work on.


Planet Random dot net

Want you to check out http://planetrandom.net/ as it is a comic book site I am involved with, doing work for one of their titles, Broken Hope. Check 'em out. Some great things to come from Raymond and the other great talent there.

So sorry!

Sorry for the lack of updates. I dropped out of CBR's TLiiD (as you all know by now) to finish a independent comic book project. The interior pages are all done and sent in for the finishing touches. I hope to show it off very soon, it's pretty awesome.



Here's a teeny tiny teaser that I hope I won't get in trouble for showing :p