Monday, April 17, 2017

The Ideal Agent/Manager for ADH

​Though I consider myself an ever-evolving student of both the art and business of my craft, I humbly confess that I am somewhat ignorant of the responsibilities and burdens that agents and managers take on when choosing which clients to represent.

I do, however, view the situation as a two-way relationship.  I'm not looking for a servant. And I would hope that my agent or manager is not looking for a student. This is a partnership. I have a clear vision of what I want my career to be. Any agent or manager interested in me would have to be someone willing to become an active contributor to that vision.

To that end, I want an agent or manager who is able to do three things:

UNDERSTAND ME
If you are here because one of my stories has garnered attention or critical acclaim, then I am very happy about that. However, it is imperative that anyone seeking to represent me demonstrates a clear effort to get to know me. Learn about my brand. Read some of my essays and interviews on this blog. Find me on Facebook. Listen to my podcasts episodes on Soundcloud.

Take a look at my interests and passions. Learn more about my vision and career plans. See if what I have to offer is a good fit for what you have to offer. I don't mean to come off as a snob, but I care very much about my career. And while there are a lot of attributes that I look for in representation, the most important thing is that you are a professional who cares about me, not just my work.

UNDERSTAND MY WRITING INTERESTS
If I were to possess any one "literary" focus, then it would be the idea of competition, and what it can teach us.

In terms of projects, my primary interests are in animated movies and in fighting games. I also like short films. I'm not particularly interested in doing live-action films, hour-long television shows, or comedies. And when I say animated movies, I'm not referring to G or PG-rated theater flicks. To get a sense of the kind of animated films I like, Google filmmakers like Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery. My movies are more likely to appear on iTunes and VUDU than they are to show up in theaters.

This isn't to say that I'm averse to trying things outside of my interests, so long as those ventures can be used to facilitate my true career goals.

As far as fighting games are concerned, I'm a fan of Tekken, The King of Fighters, and most of the Capcom franchises. I study, analysis, and do speaking events on the storytelling aspects of the genre. One of my goals is to work with SNK Corporation in a partnership capacity to create a great fighting game series.

Preferably, I would like to have an agent who is also interested in fighting games. This is not, however, a make-or-break requirement.

UNDERSTAND ME BEYOND WRITING
Outside of other professional writing jobs that I've held, my most consistent day job has been as an English instructor. I started out teaching remedial writing classes at a community college in downtown Cleveland. As an underachieving high school graduate, I also took these kinds of courses as a community college student in Detroit. I struggled my first year in college until my English professor handed me back a C+ essay and told me that I was a good writer when I put forth the effort. The impact that he made on me that day is the reason why I chose to pursue a career in writing.

I want to have that kind of impact on other students who come from where I came from. But I want to take it to the next level. I want to walk into a classroom full of community college students with a star-caliber resume. I want them to see how someone with a similar background can become successful.

In addition to teaching the standard composition courses, my ultimate goal as an educator is to teach a Creative Professional Development course, designed to teach students how to outline and execute a story, how to collaborate, how to use creative skills to find a "real-world" job, and how to how to effectively create and publish their own work using free or inexpensive software.

Agents and mangers who wish to represent me need to understand that helping me realize my goals as a writer helps to facilitate my goals as an educator.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Letter To My Passions

My favorite kinds of stories are those that feature a competition. More specifically, a clash of styles between two dissimilar entities, to me, represents the most exquisite art form. To that end, I remain committed to the creation and examination of combat in all its forms.

In a sense, this is something that I have done all my life. At an early age, I was drawn to staged performances in martial arts movies and professional wrestling. Also, fighting games and action-based animation continue to influence my work as a professional writer.

While superhero fiction dominates a large portion of my entertainment lexicon, I must confess that I have never actually had a favorite superhero. My concern was never the hero, but their abilities, and how those abilities compare and contrast.

Other forms of combat have been revealed to me as my perspective broadens and matures. Presidential elections, courtroom battles, and business rivalries all represent various kinds of combat. And it would certainly be a crass act of prevarication if I did not mention how the wide range of sports stories and events have shaped my outlook.

The most gratifying aspect of combat is in its ability to teach. By nature, fighting is an intimate experience. It is an exchange between two highly motivated opponents. And those motivations often hold deeply personal or professional significance. In the pursuit of victory, the opponents forge a connection. They educate each other, and through that process, they educate themselves.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Aaron David Harris' Top 50 All Time Fighting Game Themes

Every fighting game franchise has an identity that makes it distinguishable from its competitors. A huge component of that identity is the game’s soundtrack. Fighting game themes come in all styles and flavors. Street Fighter has the benefit of being able to reinvent its iconic themes over a long period of time. The Soul series soundtracks have always been epic and orchestral, while Skullgirls and the Marvel vs. Capcom series often use more modern, grooving tracks.

Below is my official, definitive list for the Top 50 All Time Fighting Game Themes. Like all lists, I’m certain there will be disagreements. My hope is that, regardless of ranking, I have chosen tracks that are dear to all lovers of the fighting game genre. For numbers 25-1, I provide descriptions and brief analysis.

As a heads up, here are the following game franchises that will not appear on this list: Mortal Kombat, BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, Skullgirls, Power Stone, Rival Schools/Project Justice, Plasma Sword.

Enjoy.

50. Zangief (Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter)

49. Ultimate Rugal (Capcom vs. SNK II)

48. Still Green (The King of Fighters XI)

47. Hyrule (Super Smash Bros. Melee)

46. Kazuya Boss Theme (Tekken 2)

45. Poke Floats (Super Smash Bros. Melee)

44. Rolento (Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold)

43. Morrigan (Darkstalkers 1)

42. Bloody (The King of Fighters 97/98)

41. Sakura (Street Fighter 4)

39. Jin Saotome (Marvel v. Capcom 1)

38. Fountain of Dreams - (Super Smash Bros.)

37. Cool Jam (The King of Fighters 98)

36. Under the Star of Destiny (Soul Calibur II)

35. London Stage (Capcom vs. SNK II)

34. Cammy Theme (Street Fighter II HD Remix)

33. Sagat (Street Fighter 4)

32. Hwoarang (Tekken 3)

31. Zangief (Street Fighter II HD Remix)

30. Astaroth (Soul Calibur II)

29. Guile (Street Fighter II/Street Fighter 4)

28. Wolfgang Krauser’s Dies Irae 

27. Spider-Man (all Marvel vs. Capcom)

26. Final Bison (Street Fighter Alpha 3)

25. In Spite Of One's Age (KOF 98) - This theme belongs to The Masters' Team, a squad comprised of the patriarchs of the major fighting styles in the game’s franchise. The song feels effortless, like the performance of a master.

24. I Wanna Take You For A Ride (MVC 2) - What kind of fighting game music aficionado would I be if this track wasn’t on the list? Say what you want about the lyrics (which basically amounts to saying seven words over and over again) but that cool sax and bass create a festive, party feel that can make any former player glow with nostalgia.

23. No More Swingin' (SFA3) - The third installment of the Street Fighter Alpha series was unique in that it completely changed the soundtrack from the iconic SF II editions into new, techno-rock tunes. Appropriately created for Guy, this song feels like a track for a classic beat-em up game like Final Fight.

22. Gen Theme (SFA2 Gold) - Weird, grim, almost ethereal organ. Oddly enough, the tune is befitting of a master assassin of his caliber.

21. Dan Theme (MSH vs SF) - I think it’s difficult to come up with a memorable theme song that fits a joke persona designed to be the worst character in his respective game. I’m not a big fan of Dan’s SFA themes, but this one perfectly captures his bravado and false sense of confidence.

20. Dee Jay Theme (SSF II) - Dee Jay’s theme is the epitome of fun and syncopation. It gets in your shoulders and your feet. When the opening hook drops, it's hard not to smile as big and as wide as the character this song was made for. His original version and his HD remix are my favorite renditions.

19. The Deep (Omega Red Theme) - Both The COTA and the MSH vs. SF versions are great. I’m a sucker for a really good bass track. It grooves with a vengeance. It feels unstoppable.

18. Cammy Theme (SF 4) - There are several version of Cammy’s theme that I could have picked here. And even though I’m not happy with the techno direction of SF 4's overall Soundtrack, I think Cammy’s entry is a perfect balance of tough, unstoppable girl power.

17. Clock Tower (MVC 2) - Any MVC 2 player will immediately recognize this pleasant, grooving track as the theme of the first stage you play in the Arcade Mode. Jazz music has a special kind of structure and finesse that’s very hard to pull of in fighting games. MVC 2 set the standard on how to do it, and Clock Tower is one of the best examples.

16. Brave Sword, Braver Soul (SC II) - If this were a list of best fighting game albums, Soul Calibur II would be number one and there wouldn’t even be a close second. The entire album’s goal is to tell you an epic tale of souls and swords. This track epitomizes that, with its complex orchestral riffs and japanese three-string guitars.

15. Mustard for Geese/Geese Ni Shouyuu - Geese is one of my favorite characters in all of fighting games. There are a lot of renditions of his theme. “Mustard” is a great track because it’s a blend of both European and Japanese influences, which is exactly what Geese is. “Ni Shouyuu” is a rock remix that almost make him feel like a good guy, with just a touch of menace.

14. Street Wise Asura Remix (Tekken 5) - This is probably the funnest track in all of Tekken. Listen to it all the way through. It drives like a roller coaster at a dangerous amusement park in Japan. And that bass guitar, as my students would say, is simply the truth. It’s also a great workout song.

13. Vega (SFV) - Not only is Vega’s theme the first elegant theme in the genre’s history, it’s also the most enduring. This version is fresh, traditional, and dangerously festive while maintaining its Spanish regality.

12. Ken Theme (SF II HD) - I have no problem admitting that this isn’t one of my personal favorites. However, no one can deny its longevity and iconic sound. In a way, it’s almost a little brother to Ryu’s. I’m sure people will want this highest (if so, go make your own list).

11. Akashi no Saxophone 2 (KOF 97/98) - Every instrument is perfect. Guitars. Organ. Drums. Bass. It’s the perfect blend. It either feels like Iori Yagami is taking us to church or it feels like the opening to an 80’s anime.

10. M. Bison Theme (SF 2) - An iconic boss track. Thousands of controllers were thrown at television screens across the world in the 80s and 90s when it was time to deal with the insanely cheap boss known as M. Bison. The original is great. I personally think the tribute version is better.

9. Training Room (MVC 2) - After “I Wanna Take You For A Ride”, this song is one of the most memorable themes of the game. The bass, the syncopation, and the horns made it fun to spend countless hours honing your moves and practicing your combos.

8. Raise Thy Sword (SC II) - If there was ever a time to use a fighting game/battlefield metaphor, this would be the best track to do it with. Of all the instruments, I love the drums (in particular, the snare and timpani).

7. Karin Theme (SFV) - Considering that Street Fighter V is a newer game, I’m almost shocked at how hard I fell for this song, especially since I didn’t care for Karin’s previous themes at all. What can I say? It’s my kind of song. It grooves with horns and bass and drums. There’s also a unique blend of elegance and fun that is very hard to pull off in fighting games.

6. Mad Fantasy (KOF 98) - Quite possibly best sub-boss theme of all time. Its brilliant mixture of childlike xylophone pops and orchestra maturity create a very menacing and dark tune.

5. Forest Law Theme (Tekken 3) - One of my all time favorites. Slick. Epic. Very inspirational. As an obvious nod to Bruce Lee, there’s no shame in making funny faces and doing a few Jeet Kune Do hops while listening.

4. Groan (Shin Akuma Theme SFA 3) - The ultimate boss theme. Powerful. Intimidating. Demoralizing. Get ready to have your face handed to you by the cheapest, dirtiest, most infuriating boss you’ll ever come across.

3. Character Select (SF II) - Before you can fight any matches, you must select your character. Every good fighting game has a memorable character select theme, and you won’t find one more iconic that smooth tune from Street Fighter II.

2. Peach’s Castle (Super Smash Bros. Melee) - Mario’s theme is arguably the most recognizable theme is video games. Translating it into a fighting game theme I think is an underappreciated feat.

1. Ryu’s Theme - There’s not a lot I need to say to defend my case here. Pick just about any version you want. All of them provide the same experience. Epic. Motivational. The standard for what a fighting game song should do.