Writer of comics and novels. In 2006 his first short story "The God That Failed" was published by Terminus Media in their debut comic Evolution Book 1. Since that time he has had stories published in Terminus Media's Evolution Book 2 and Evolution Special, Kenzer and Company's The Knights of the Dinner Table, and Four J Publishing's The Burner #3. Currently he is eagerly awaiting the digital publishing of his first creator-owned comic The Gilded Age #1 to be published online as well as his first novel The Dark That Follows later this year.

Steampunk Friday – Kickstart the Comic – Boston Metaphysical – The Scourge of the Mechanical Men

Inventors, investigators, intellectuals…

Madmen (and women)…

And a virus which threatens to turn people into machines…

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Boston Metaphysical – The Scourge of the Mechanical Men

Creator/Writer – Madeleine Holly-Rosing

Artist/Colorist – Gwynn Tavares

Letters – Troy Peteri

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Friday, March 2, 2018 at 3:01 PM EST.

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The Pitch:

Granville Woods and Tesla are in a race for time to save Boston from a mysterious disease that turns human beings into machines.

The Story:

Granville returns home to Liberty Row only to find an almost insane Tesla hiding there. But his efforts to get rid of Tesla hit a snag when they discover that a virus is turning humans into soulless mechanical men. Realizing that Emily and Travis Morgan of Morgan Medicinals are behind the outbreak, they fear that the twins are after more than just control of Boston – They want to take over the Great States of America.

John’s Thoughts:

I interviewed Madeleine Holly-Rosing last year (which you can read here) where she mentioned that one of the next stories would focus on Granville and Tesla… and here you go! From her section on the page “The Story behind the Story”, it sounds like this started with a premise of getting two characters in the same place for an extended time and see how that worked out (and what might the writer learn about both characters in the process). It’s an amazing moment when that happens as a writer. When a character speaks to you and lets you know exactly where they would prefer you to go and how they would prefer to act. It makes writing them all the easier because it really does feel like they write themselves (and maybe they do).

It has been and always will be important to me to write characters who, though they come from diverse backgrounds and have different points of view, are able to work together for the common good.

The Rewards:

As this is a standalone story, you can pick it up on its own ($6 for the PDF and $10 for the print), but given the nature of Kickstarter you have that opportunity to play catch-up ($22 for the digital and $35 for print). At the higher levels, you have the opportunity to get drawn into the Granville and Tesla pinup in full period garb ($145). And if you are considering running a Kickstarter of your own you could opt for one of the Consultation packages which include reviews of your Kickstarter Homepage, phone conversation (plus all the goodies from the Kickstarter) ($225 for Economy Consultation and #350 for Premium Consultation).

 

The Verdict:

Obviously, if you have been there for a while, this becomes a no-brainer, but if you are just thinking about dipping your toes into the Boston Metaphysical Universe, this might be a good place to jump in and check it out.

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To find out more about Boston Metaphysical Society, check them out here.

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Black Mirror, Season 4 Review

My previous reviews can be found here: Seasons 1&2 and 3.

As I wrote last time, “For those not in the know, Black Mirror is an anthology show. Each episode stands alone to tell a story about how our technology or something perhaps not too far from our grasp affects people.”

If I have any problem with Black Mirror is that Charlie Brooker doesn’t come out with the fast enough. Even the ones that are not my favorite episodes are far better than many of the other things available on my tv. But I suppose I can live with only getting 6 episodes if the seasons have a couple of true gems each time.

EP 1 – USS Callister

When you are “into” something, the last thing you want to happen is for someone to take a pot-shot at your favorite thing. Star Trek fans (I’m talking the hardcore ones) are probably well past tired of being mocked over the years. So this episode could very well be the last straw for them.

And I think that would be a shame. This is my second favorite episode of the season.

It really seems odd that an episode about a virtual version of a crew could show the most realistic version of how people act when no one is watching. If you’ve ever played ANY game online, odds are you’ve dealt with some of the worst people. They are gods of their own little desktop/laptop/etc world and you must show them the respect they’ve clearly earned. For you to question how they see the world would be blasphemous. Who are you to question them or how they spend their downtime?

Peel back the Star Trek skin and what you are really dealing with is someone on an ego trip through the stars.

Plus, how appropriate that virtual characters were better developed than their real-life counterparts…

EP 2 – Arkangel

I can only imagine the horror of trying to keep your child safe from all the potential dangers in the world. The idea that they must figure out some way to navigate the dangerous waters all by themselves armed only with the few golden rules and some other words of wisdom.

Terrifying.

And if there was a way to help them with that. You know, on those days you can’t be there beside them to hold their hand as they cross the street or when the mean dog begins barking at them or when the bully at school starts to torment them. What if you could protect them for a little longer?

Would that be so wrong?

And how long is too long?

Is there such a thing?

EP 3 – Crocodile

Crocodile is one of those stories which might have been a movie idea at one time. It feels like a series of stories unconnected to each other. You bounce between each as the threads begin to draw them together more and more. And when those threads cross and tangle, and when the woman has gone too far down one path to stop.

That’s when the real horror presents itself.

EP 4 – Hang the DJ

My favorite episode of the season. Somehow I think I knew as I watched this one second. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know the episode was about couples being matched up with random people until they stumble across their real soul mate via a computer algorithm. Taking away the awkward bit of trying to figure it out for yourself and really let the computer system determine it for you. I can’t quite tell if this is a metaphor for online dating, arranged marriages, or just a fun story about how true love conquers all.

And I don’t know that I need the question answered.

EP 5 – Metalhead

Sadly every season has favorites and those episodes I didn’t enjoy as much. Maybe it is because this is the most straightforward episode of nearly all of them. In a post-apocalyptic future, a woman is being chased by robotic hounds bent on wiping all humanity.

A woman trying to survive against some unstoppable creature has been all the rage for a while. Going back to the 70s slasher films through the zombie movie craze. This is about survival. And then it is about the will to live.

But it is mostly about robotic dogs trying to kill a woman.

EP 6 – Black Museum

This season’s version of the White Christmas episode from season 2.5. We have a number of little stories enveloped by another story. The fun in these types is that you can enjoy the smaller stories without the larger story, but when the final curtain is revealed and you get to see not only how everything fits into one another. How, with each story, the story-teller is merely setting you up for the big reveal… only to have the viewers in on a different FINAL reveal.

My only real question would be whether or not any of these mini-stories would have originally been planned for a full-length episode on their own, but then something happened to convince Brooker otherwise or if they are exactly as he originally set out to present them.

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Another 6 episodes down and now the waiting begins anew for a hopeful season 5!

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Steampunk Friday – Kickstart the Comic – Milford Green – A one-shot Victorian Alien Adventure Comic

I had to read War of the Worlds for school… that was the radio drama and the original book, and the ending struck me as pure genius at the time in both its simplicity and for how brave an idea that even was. I always wondered if you tried something like that today, would it work? Would people accept that ending or would they claim the author just didn’t know how to end the story.

Luckily, H.G. Wells doesn’t have to worry about such things.

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Milford Green

Writer – Samuel George London

Artist – Mikael Hankonen

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Sunday, March 4, 2018 at 6:59 PM EST.

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The Pitch:

In the summer of 1897, a socially awkward inventor investigates the crash-site of a flying vehicle to find out that we are not alone.

The Story:

Apart from winning “Prettiest Village in the British Empire, 1897” Milford Green is a normal village in the rolling hills of Southern England. That is until on one summer’s evening, Alfie Fairfield, a socially awkward inventor, sees some kind of flying vehicle shoot across the sky and crash land into a field. Being a curious fellow who is interested in any type of machinery, Alfie investigates to find out that we are not alone in this universe.

John’s Thoughts:

Even without the idea of aliens coming to Earth at the turn of the century appealing to me, the artwork by Mikael Hankonen is amazing. It reminds me of some of the old style animations that would pop up here and there in maybe a movie or random tv show. Not the best description from me, but it makes me “feel” what the story is going to be about as much as anything else… which is half the battle.

The Rewards:

For 48 pages worth of comic, paying only about $4 for the PDF is beyond a great deal. The print version goes for about $14. In addition, there is a Poster level which has about $3 difference if you can get in on the early bird. Finally, at the top end is a way to appear within the comic and get a 14.8 x 21.0 cm (you’ll need to do the conversion on that one!) art print of your character as well ($98).

The Verdict:

Even though a large part of the whole Steampunk genre owes its existence to H.G. Wells, the idea of aliens in that turn of the century world is not one I see very often. This makes Milford Green a welcomed addition. Check out the Kickstarter here!

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To find out more about Milford Green, check them out here.

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

 

 

Kickstart the Comic: 5 Seconds Volume 2

When is a power a gift and when is it a curse?

And could it be both?

What happens when the person you save has an extraordinary ability of her own.

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5 Seconds – Volume 2

Writer – Stephen Kok

Artist – P.R. Dedelis

Colors – Peyton Freeman

 

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Friday, March 2, 2018 at 6:02 AM EST.

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The Pitch:

What would you do if you could see 5 seconds into the future? How will Jake use this gift when meets a girl who can hear your thoughts?

The Story:

5 Seconds Volume 2 is a YOUNG ADULT – 70 page – PERFECT BOUND – Graphic Novel which picks up directly after the first 5 Seconds finishes. Jake finds himself dealing with a new situation, a girl who can read minds. What deep dark secret is the girl hiding and can Jake (with his best friend Ellie) find out before the past catches up with them?

John’s Thoughts:

I’m in that boat, having not read the first volume, but I’m willing to take their word for it with this self-contained story.

I sometimes (all the time) wonder about how it would feel to be able to see into the future. How could you not these days when every new discovery, every new piece of handheld technology, and every advancement in knowledge makes you feel as if the old school science fiction writers had been left to guide us into the future. Going back to HG Wells, we all want to know what might lurk for us around the next corner. What happens if we choose this path over another path.

Where are we going?

Add to that the idea of peering into other people’s heads… all at once it is both enticing and utterly frightening. I think that if we knew what was going on in our friend’s heads at any time we all would seal ourselves away from the rest of the world (and it wouldn’t even be close).

Put those two things together…

The Rewards:

On the higher end, you can get the original cover artwork ($235) or get drawn into the comic ($102). If you are looking to play a bit of catch-up you have the PDFs available ($6) or print copies of both volumes ($39). One thing I really like is that you can also get pdfs of his non-5 Seconds comics (Tabby, Blue, and Word Smith) and really play catch-up on everything Stephen Kok has put out into the world thus far ($12).

The Verdict:

While I haven’t read Volume 1, I have checked out Word Smith by Stephen and really enjoyed it. If you like fun comics with a cool gimick at the core (whether that is words are magic or a glimpse into the future), you may want to check out the Kickstarter.

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To find out more about 5 Seconds or other works by Stephen Kok, check them out here.

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

 

Steampunk Fridays – Kickstart the Comic – Make/100: Pneumatic Cases #2: Sleuthing Steampunk Spouses

The modern day Holmes and Watson are man and woman (or at least one version of them is)… but why not have that dynamic against the backdrop of a Steampunk world? And instead of the will they/won’t they – let’s just have them say I Do before the story even begins!

A love story, a murder mystery, and the happy couple who is at the center of it all.

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Pneumatic Cases #2: Sleuthing Steampunk Spouses

Published by Last Ember Press

Creator/Writer – John Wilson

Artist/Cover – Rowel Roque

Colors – Lisa Moore

Letters/Book & Logo Design – Brant Fowler

Edits – Lisa Moore & Brant Fowler

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at 12:59 AM EST.

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The Pitch:

Lord and Lady Ravenscroft are two brilliant scientists and inventors whose Bohemian lifestyle and inventive ways are in direct contrast to the staid and proper ways of Victorian Era London.

Served faithfully by their steam-driven metallic Majordomo, Pneuman, and armed with a variety of elaborate self-created inventions, the Ravenscrofts pursue the one vocation that brings excitement into their world… solving murders!

The Story:

Brought in to consult on a mysterious murder, the Ravenscrofts began hunting down clues that might lead them to the devious culprit. Making waves and alerting the wrong people to their efforts nearly cost them their lives.

Now, the case takes them to Austria to seek out the next piece to this chaotic puzzle of murder and mayhem they’ve found themselves wrapped up in.

Issue 2, Page 1 Art – Rowel Roque Colors – Lisa Moore

John’s Thoughts:

I think I must have missed the first issue of this comic at some point, because I recognize the title, but obviously have not read it. Lucky for me, there are options to go ahead and catch up on the series. Regardless, this takes its nod from the mystery style stories of the time with a married couple at the center of it. I dig the idea of both of them being inventors as that way they both will have a chance to show off as the story progresses.

The sample pages/ opening to the story makes this feel like it might almost be a stand alone adventure for the two of them, and makes me very curious about whether the first issue was done in the same fashion. Given that my own Gilded Age comic is told in “done in ones”, it is a format that is near and dear to my heart.

Plus, kudos for the alliteration of their title…

The Rewards:

As part of Kickstarter’s “Make 100 campaign”, it’s a interesting idea to piggyback the Acrylic Charm ($39 level) with the comic campaign itself. I’ve seen many people do the small pin designs throughout the month, but couldn’t figure out a way to tie it into a potential comic campaign. Leave it to the Last Ember Press guys and gals to figure that piece out. In addition, at the $17 level they have basically a preorder for issues #3 and #4 as well which again is not only thinking towards the future, but really making it so that this project will get to its issue 3 and 4. At the highest level ($250) you can get Drawn In to issue #3… always a cool option.

The Verdict:

If you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing that you have at least a passing interest in all things Steampunk. This is definitely that… so what are you waiting for? Go to the Kickstarter page here!

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To find out more about Last Ember Press and their other comics, check them out here.

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Kickstart the Comic – The North Star: The Emancipation of Frederick Douglass

Reading a list of Frederick Douglass’s accomplishments is not only a place of awe but also a sort of slap in the face to the modern person. Here’s a person who had to teach himself how to read and write, in secret! Someone who was at the forefront of a movement for societal change in a way that had never been seen before.

It makes me think that if someone tells you that you can’t or shouldn’t do something that you are passionate about – don’t let them deter you. Look within, find the strength that is there, and put it on display for everyone to see.

Cover Layout

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The North Star: The Emancipation of Frederick Douglass

Published by Terminus Media

Creator/Writer – Baron Bell

Editor – Robert Jeffrey II

Artist –Koi Turnbull

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Friday, March 23, 2018 at 2:57 PM EDT.

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The Pitch:

The North Star graphic novel is an adaptation of Frederick Douglass’ memoir “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass”.

The Story:

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. Through the course of his life, his force of will, tenacity and ferocious sense of justice not only helped him escape his enslavement but self-educate pushing him onto the national and international stage as a statesman. His life intersected with many pivotal events that helped shape our young nation’s history. He was a man of faith, a businessman, a politician and a prophet of the 19th Century. Frederick Douglass forced a country to reevaluate its moral core. This graphic novel will bring these events to life with exciting and dramatic imagery and help to reintroduce one of history’s greatest abolitionists at a time when such heroes are few and far between.

John’s Thoughts:

One of the interesting ideas with doing a book about someone so influential from history is the opportunity to use it as a teaching aid for students. One of the first exposure to anything comic related was the old Illustrated Classics. It was there that a small seed of wanting to learn was planted. A book like this has the same potential for new readers, for new exposure, and for helping to simply expose more people to Frederick Douglass.

While the team will be marketing directly to schools, libraries, and community organizations, the hope is that people buy extra copies for the next generation.

The Rewards:

You’ll get the PDF at the $15 level and the print trade at $25. At higher levels, you have the opportunity to go ahead and get extra copies of the book as well as get a high-resolution poster signed by artists Koi Turnbull. At the highest end, you can have your likeness drawn into the book along with a co-producer credit ($1000).

The Verdict:

If you are a fan of historical comics. If you are a fan of Frederick Douglass. If you are a fan of teaching the next generation… you might want to give this one a shot.

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To find out more about Terminus Media, check them out on Facebook here.

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Friday – Kickstart the Comic – Grimwood Crossing Vol. 1 & 2 – A Stylish Supernatural Western

The stranger comes to town…

The Sheriff must defend everyone against bandits…

The corrupt cattle owners do their best to hunt down the ragtag band…

Zombies…

Werewolves…

Vampires…

Just another western? I think not.

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Grimwood Crossing Vol. 1 & 2

Writer/Letterer – Conner Bartel

Illustrator – Atagun Ilhan

Logo & Book Designer – Marc Bartel

Cover Art & Design – James Liswed

Editor – James Davenport

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 at 7:59 AM EST.

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The Pitch:

Read the complete story of the supernatural western comic series about a monster hunter and his young apprentice.

The Story:

Grimwood Crossing is the biggest town in the grim old west. Vampires, Werewolves, and Zombies are part of the everyday struggle for the townsfolk. That’s why Grimwood’s Sheriff also has the added job title of monster hunter. It’s a dangerous job so a replacement must always be arranged. With the help of his young, scat-talking apprentice, the Sheriff must fend off a vengeful outlaw with demonic powers.

In Vol. 2 the demonic outlaw confronts the duo face to face. The entire town must come together to keep the outlaw from destroying everything. Alliances are made, differences are put aside, and the community is put to the test.

John’s Thoughts:

Weird West stories hold a special place in my heart. One of the first real scripts I ever wrote was for a 8 page western comic with a werewolf appeared in it. So when you mention all the things which go bump in the night against the desperation and opportunity of the wild west… I’m going to at least take a look and see what it is all about.

From what I can tell of the characters, I like the idea of a former bandit suddenly helping a town against the monsters. And maybe they’re not entirely sure they can even begin to trust him. But they know that someone has got to protect them…

The Rewards:

At the $30 level there is an opportunity to have the book with a signed bookplate featuring the signatures of the writer and artist. Considering they live on two different continents, this would be pretty much the only way to get such an item.

For those of us who missed the Volume 1 Kickstarter, there is an opportunity to play catch-up at $20 for the print or $8 for the digital, both which are a great bang for the buck.

The Verdict:

Color me interested. The artwork gives the right feel for such a book and having it in black and white should only help that.  Around 200 pages of comics potentially… seems like a good deal to me.

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To find out more about Grimwood Crossing, check them out here.

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

 

 

The Song of Your Life

I may have written about this scene before, but it bears repeating. In Before Sunset, Ethan Hawke is on a book tour where he is talking about his next project: this idea of a song transporting you back in time. How it grabs you and can make you remember things you’d forgotten – all of it locked within a song.

I love that idea. And I know that music has had a big influence on my life. Even as I write this blog, Alice in Chains is grooving on the speakers beside me (Jar of Flies). But each of the songs below have a specific meaning in the time and place for me and to this day, hearing the song means having this little memory attached.

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1988 – The Beach Boys – Kokomo

I’m standing beside my sister as she dials the number to the local radio station. For some reason, even though I’m 12, I don’t seem to understand that there might be multiple radio stations out there, so we’re dialing the “Oldies” station. We get through and my sister asks to hear a Madonna song. There’s a pause and then they say “We don’t play Madonna.”

“Oh.”

Still desperate to hear something from that decade. “Well can you play Kokomo by The Beach Boys?”

Pause. “Yes, that we can play.”

1997 – Limp Bizkit – Stuck

Driving back from Virginia with Lee and Egg, we’d gotten this sampler tape from Limp Bizkit when they’d opened for Korn in Athens, Georgia. Fred Durst was handing them out to anyone who would take them, and after seeing them play Faith, well I figured what the hell.

The sampler had two songs on it: Counterfeit and Stuck, but I can only hear Stuck in my head as we played the damn song probably 50 times on that trip. And with every play, Egg’s “metal voice” would come out with the word “STUCK!”

1996 – Deftones  – Teething

The original Crow soundtrack might be one of my top 10 cds of all time. It is amazing from front to back, and instantly takes me directly to the film and the feeling it tried to invoke.

Now… the second Crow film was… it was not good. But I saw the soundtrack, and I knew that Korn has a song on it. But it was the song directly after that one which grabbed me on the very first listen. I might have run out that following weekend to find their cd and ever since they’ve been my second favorite band – all because I had hopes the second Crow soundtrack would match the first.

1992 – Pearl Jam – Yellow Ledbetter

There once was a time, before the internet, where in order to find out about new bands and new songs from bands you loved you had to go to a record store and HOPE to find something. Sometimes that meant getting bootleg copies of concerts or imports from Europe.

In Pearl Jam’s case, it meant finding the Import version of the Jeremy single which had not just one, but two b-sides: Footsteps and Yellow Ledbetter.

I may have paid around $20 for those two songs, but it didn’t matter. To have those meant I had everything Pearl Jam had done (little did I know how wrong that idea was even in ’93). Regardless, that 3-song cd didn’t leave my cd player for a good while.

1993 – 95 South – Whoot, There It Is

It’s Spring Break and the Grunge bug has taken me over. But I’m down in Florida for a couple of days visiting one of my friends from South Georgia and he’s much more into Hip Hop. So that’s what we listen to as we drove south, and as we drove around the beach town (which I forget which one it is), and as we are just hanging out at the hotel with some girls also staying there.

It was also cold, maybe in the low 40s (for Florida that might as well be negative numbers). And there we all were huddled together for warmth. Nothing came of that evening, we went home the next day, but it’s one of the first moments in my young teenage life where I didn’t feel completely awkward or tongue-tied.

When I got home I bought the single of this song on tape.

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Of course, being a teenager almost any music would key off on some very important and interesting events whether you’d planned it that way or not. Still, these moments… these songs, silly or not, hold a candle for a memory inside my head. And I’m grateful for it.

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Fridays – Kickstart the Comic – Transylvanian Knights Issue 1

Gothic Horror, Weird West, Steampunk… in my mind they are separate and yet they fit together in very satisfying ways within my mind. Because what is Steampunk about, if not the horror of the past and the future fighting without any idea of exactly what will be left behind.

Plus, I’m a sucker for these other stories of Dracula…

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Transylvanian Knights Issue 1

Published by Comichaus

Writer/Co-Creator – James McCulloch

Artist/Co-Creator – Jonny Cannon

Letterer – Robin Jones

Design – Gavin Boyle

Editor – Pete Genepool

Cover by Jonny Cannon and Gavin Boyle

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 12:00 PM EST.

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The Pitch:

The 40-page first issue featuring classic characters from Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker in an all-new horror adventure.

The Story:

10 years after the vampire war, Transylvania is yet again under threat from Count Dracula, but as General Van Helsing hunts down the Count, two weary circus performers stumble onto a secret that could change everything.

Coming from a love of old monster movies, James McCulloch and Jonny Cannon come together to take the classic characters Count Dracula, Van Helsing, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolfman on a new adventure.

John’s Thoughts:

From the preview pages… it just feels like something right out of the old Marvel Monster books. I actually have a couple of them on my shelf (the black and white phone book sized ones) and what I see makes me think this could slide right alongside of those and feel right at home.

These pages begin to paint a picture of the history of this world. Of an ever-vigilant Van Helsing who cannot rest until he finds Dracula. And so while everyone sleeps, he becomes the soldier on the wall… waiting for his nemesis to return.

And now it seems he might have.

The Rewards:

40 pages of adventure horror for the low digital price of $1.39… that seems like a deal in and of itself. You can also get the print version for only $7. Moving to some of the higher values (which end at the $69 level) are original pieces of art from the comic itself (limited to 20 total backers at this level).

The Verdict:

It is a very modest goal needing only about $20 at the time of this writing. Mostly it has the feel of something that if you are into Dracula and how those characters could/would have continued onward from their last stories, then this might be the answer you are looking for.

***

To find out more about Transylvanian Knights, check them out here.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Kickstart the Comic – The Espresso Detective Comic No. 1 Print Campaign

Sometimes you need something with a little kick.

Sometimes you need someone who will go the distance for you.

And sometimes you just need… a Dick.

***

The Espresso Detective Comic No. 1 Print Campaign

Creator/Writer/Artist/Colorist/Letterer – Eric Erdek

Kickstarter campaign ends on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 at 6:29 AM EST.

***

The Pitch:

Slavers in your town. Your neighbors are their clients. Restaurants. Massage – stolen people. Only one man gives damn, and he’s a Dick.

The Story:

His name is Caetano Sanchez, he’s named after Saint Cajetan, co-founder of the Theatines.

Famous for not owning property or asking for alms. Caetano mirrors his namesake since he seems to own nothing and yet is always seen in the coolest cars and pads. All borrowed… mostly from fallen enemies.

That’s where his saintliness ends. Soul-wrenching loss and heartbreak have made him a man that goes through women and friendships like a Saudi goes through bullets at a wedding (it’s called happy fire. Really, look it up).

Caetano seems to stumble victorious and unscathed from case to case saving the day like a trench-coated Jar Jar Binks. No skills or strategy other than planning how to get his next gorgeous client into bed. However, tearing at the edges of his happy-go-lucky facade is a much darker source to his powers.

Sanchez is addicted to Espresso mainly for self-medicating his MDD (Major Depression Disorder). He has also refined it to an art and a culture. His Nagula (Shaman Teacher) has made it so Sanchez has what appear as superpowers when he is buzzed on Espresso.

He’s a ladies man, a P.I., a Shaman’s apprentice and a savior of the weak and lost.

Literature has a new great Latin lover… and he’s a dick.

John’s Thoughts:

The whole Noir detective story is one that is either in your wheelhouse or not. The solo (mostly) guy who has to use his wits and maybe a bit of luck to not only arrive at the answer to whatever his current mystery might be but also juggle that with living the lifestyle of a P.I.

It’s both glamorous and utterly miserable at the same time… and in that juxtaposition is where you can get a great story. Whether it is about redemption or burying the past or whatever… we come for the tropes and trappings, but we stay for the stories.

The Rewards:

$5 is all it takes to get yourself a print version of the book (26 pages). At the higher ends you can get various wall art ($75) or drawn into the book ($600), but one thing that really caught my eye was the $45 level with a very cool T-shirt.

 

The Verdict:

Normally the answer might be found at the bottom of a bottle of some darkish liquid. Something that will really knock you down and make you wonder who is in control of who. For this guy, it just happens to be Espresso that does the job…

And who are we to judge. So pick up the book and have a morning read with your coffee!

***

To find out more about The Espresso Detective, go to the website here.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Friday – Kickstart the Book – Make 100: SteamBear Books

I’m always on the lookout for gateway items to get the next generation into the stuff that I’m into. Wondering if anything might make a nephew or neice interested in something comic or fantasy or science fiction related. So a children’s book is definitely right in that wheelhouse.

***

Make 100: SteamBear Books

Creator/Writer/Colorist – Andres Salazar

Chief Financial Officer – Nicole Salazar

Chairman of the Board – Santiago Salazar

Kickstarter campaign ends on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 11:51 PM EST.

***

The Pitch:

SteamBear is an interactive children’s picture book and comic. It’s book two of  THE ADVENTURE BEAR SQUAD.  A Sci-Fi adventure story designed for the geek-parent and their children. It is built to stimulate creativity and learning. It is a team of bears across genres like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets the Care Bears.

The Story:

The exciting second installment of the Adventure Bear Squad book series is upon us!  Faced with the disappearance of dreams by every man, woman and child the world is thrown in turmoil and it’s up to SteamBear and his compatriots to save the world from curmudgeonry.  They travel through time and space in SteamBear’s Travel-train and find out why the dreams have gone missing and how to bring them back!

John’s Thoughts:

Bears fighting pirates.

Bears in hot air balloons.

Bears wearing top hats and hopefully monocles.

This seems like one of those fun books where you can read with the kid in your life and discover new little pieces while also learning about different points and places in history (judging from the images on the Kickstarter page). I can definitely imagine laughing at the site of a bear flying past Big Ben over in London.

The Rewards:

Given that this is a limited edition of the book, as part of the Make 100 campaigns Kickstarter is encouraging for the month of January, the overall product is limited to… 100 copies. So each category has a limited number next to it for the hard copies (this has digital versions as well). At $25 you get the Hardcover along with an original drawing inside. The intriguing one is the $99 level where you not only get the book and the original drawing, but you also will get an original 11×15 watercolor painting. I could see that as being something to hang up in the kid’s room for a long time.

The Verdict:

Let’s see – Steampunk, kid’s book, bears, and various spots in time… educational and something you and the kids will enjoy as part of your reading rituals… yeah, this seems like a nice additon to your library!

***

To learn more about SteamBear, check out DecadeBrothers here.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Mindbubble Workshop Recap – How to Write Comics

 

Back in December, Robert Jeffrey and I had the opportunity to do an updated version of a workshop Terminus used to do back in the day at Libraries entitled “Wham! Zap! Pow! Writing for Comics”. Hosted by the wonderful folks at Mind Bubble, the idea was to take some early teens who might have an interest in creating stories within the comics side of things and just walk them through the process.

Basically, a bunch of the stuff I wish I had known when I first sat down to write a comic script. All that stuff you don’t think about when you are reading the latest issue of Batman. We wanted to give them a glimpse at how those 20-22 pages actually manage to get done. Really walk them through the process as best we could.

It was really cool to try to get a gauge on what they might be into, where we might find some common ground. Things I was either into or really into when I was their age (the more things change and all of that, I guess).

Video games and anime and Star Wars movies were brought up as examples of building a story and creating memorable characters. After that, we went through the creation of a comic page, taking them through some more general ideas (what’s a Panel, the difference between Dialogue and Narration, etc.), we walked through (with the use of Sean Hill’s excellent Route 3 artwork) going from Thumbnails to Pencils to Inks to Colors all the way to Letters.

But probably the best idea was the one Robert had about doing a page of thumbnails based off of a sample one-page script (we had two examples for the kids to choose from, though a couple decided to do their own thing – which was cool as well). So while I’m watching them go about trying to construct a thumbnailed page, I realized that we had plenty of time, so why not share in the fun (the Mindbubble team got in on it as well).

Let me tell you, I am no artist.

No, really, not an artist. And if I ever entertained any thoughts along those lines, this crushed them. I think I burned the page I constructed after the event, but I was more than willing to show to everyone that thumbnails weren’t supposed to be perfect. As one young lady told me, “it looks like a fat lizard” (it was supposed to be a Godzilla monster). My perspective was horrible. Stick Figure Madness is what it could have been called. The kids snickered and laughed as I walked around showing my “skills” off. I’m hopeful that it helped everyone understand that at the end of the day writing, drawing, coloring, whatever it is you want to do in comics is supposed to be FUN.

And that’s really the goal at the end of the day with any of this stuff, right?

***

Mind Bubble does a number of these types of activities/workshops for youths in the Atlanta, Georgia area. You can find more information at https://mindbubble.org/.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Friday – Terminus Team-up #2 Free

With the holidays and trying to get back into the groove again, I completely spaced on the fact that I never made a proper announcement about Terminus Team-up #2 being free for the month. It’s included as one of twenty-one free comics. You can download it here (Terminus Team-up #2 Free).

For those that may not be familiar with what Terminus Team-up might be, I wrote about it here. Basically, it takes the Terminus Media character Amber Fox, who is a mix-up of Dr. Who and Lara Croft, and sends her to the world of The Gilded Age. And while you won’t see the familiar faces from The Gilded Age Graphic Novel (still available to order on Indiegogo here), you will get to meet an inventor/scientist of the day: Lucas Knight.

From Amazon:

Terminus Team Up shows us the continuing adventures of Amber Fox, a woman who is tasked with recovering all manner of strange and powerful objects across space and time. And while she appears in this issue…

This story is not necessarily about her.

Nor is it about Lucas Knight, the inventor/scientist from The Gilded Age.

This comic is about beginnings and endings…

It’s free for a limited time, so check it out.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Tales from the Cubicle – Part 3

I’m always amazed by the stupidity you can sometimes encounter at work. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since you can encounter stupidity everywhere in life. But more and more I think of the stuff that just makes no sense when a coworker/boss interacts with you in some strange way. I’ve written about a handful of my own here and here, but I thought I’d branch out and collect some others from people I know (names changed to protect the innocent!).

Consider That A Gift!

One of my friends is beyond dedicated to their job. Whether it is because of their own bit of crazy or because they are actually… cough… dedicated, this person will always go the extra mile for the company. Obviously, the benefit of doing our jobs is the fact that we get paid every couple of weeks, but sometimes… just sometimes, you’d like to be appreciated for what you do.

Cut to a scene many years ago where, we’ll call her Nancy, Nancy has put in a ton of work over the past 2 weeks. Over 90 hours in about 9 days, but had requested that particular Friday off well in advance. Of course, since she’d already put in more than what her hours called for, she chose not to put any PTO down. Her boss sees this, knows about the Friday off and comments that he didn’t see any vacation time on the timesheet. To which she replied, “Yeah because I got my hours in… you know, working on the weekend.”

His reply was “Well… don’t worry about it. We’ll consider it a gift.”

Yep… that guy knows all about employee morale. Definitely makes you want to go that extra mile when you reward a person with something they’ve already earned!

You’ve Got Nothing to Worry About

Another friend was at a company that wasn’t doing very well. Even with his limited experience (this was his first job out of college), he knew that things were spiraling in a downward direction. But one of the big wigs from the parent office was coming into town to help clear everything up and put everyone at ease.

And he did clear everything up. Bigwig told them all that things were a little rough right now, but the outlook was good going forward. It seemed convincing, even if the numbers told a different story, but our hero was willing to believe him in this at the very least.

Until he closed the meeting – “So don’t you worry about it. I mean, I’m not worried. When I hop back on the plane to head home, I’m not going to be worried at all with a drink in my hand.”

Drink in your hand… not worried, huh?

So yeah, the Atlanta office was closed about 6 months later. But there was nothing to worry about.

It’s only sexist if you finish your sentences

That same friend sat in on a meeting where his coworker Vicky was going over one of the clients and talking about how she was experiencing some difficulty with the project manager.

Who was a woman.

I only mention that because of what the boss said to her.

Boss – “Well, you know how it is sometimes with women.”

My friend leaned in, realizing something amazing was about to be said.

“Women don’t always take direction well from other women.”

Vicky was now staring at the Boss, unsure what he was going to say, but pretty sure it was not going to be something he should be saying.

“You know, they’d rather take direction from a man.”

It was only then that the Boss looked at Vicky and maybe the lightbulb went off in his head.

“Because… you know…”

Obviously, trailing off is not only useful in sitcoms but just as useful in the real world too.

***

I’ve been lucky in the last couple of jobs that I haven’t had to deal with Dilbert’s Boss, but it also means needing to rely on the kindness of others for their stories!

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Fridays – Looking Forward Back

 

I started doing this series of blog posts at the beginning of July. My thinking was two-fold:

1 – Check out who might be producing Steampunk comics.

Obviously, I write a Steampunk comic (The Gilded Age), so I’m already interested in the genre. However, aside from the DC covers they did that one month or something else random to come out which might mimic the ascetics, I really didn’t know what other indy creators might be doing within the genre.

2 – Help potentially spread the word for those creators.

Comics should be this thing where we are always helping each other up. And if I like something why wouldn’t I try to get another person to like it?

3 – Content for the blog.

Some weeks are easier than others to figure out a topic. This really gave me a direction that the Wednesday blog sometimes doesn’t have (which I like the free-form, but this is focused – or as focused as I’m going to get).

4 – See what was successful for other Kickstarters (especially those in the Steampunk realm).

As I was pretty sure I’d be kicking off a Kickstarter sometime in the Fall, this was an excuse to start to drill down and see what might be working and what wasn’t. Looking at the pages for how they were laid out, the various Reward levels, and just the level of artwork on the page. I took notes of what I liked and what I didn’t like.

So if you missed any of the weeks, here’s a handy recap of 2017!

Interviews

Interview with Ken Reynolds

Ken Reynolds is the creator of the comic Cognition: a comic where the lead characters are a clockwork and an evil rat who stop supernatural entities.

And if your brain didn’t begin dripping from your ears, you need to check this out.

Seriously, the comic is all sorts of cool.

Interview with the Creators of Arcane Sally & Mr Steam

The team over at the Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam comic are clearly doing something with their Steampunk… Ghost Story… Victorian supernatural action-adventure… Love Story?

Interview with the Creator of Hinges

What I wrote in the introduction still holds true:

There are moments when you start reading a comic and you just know there is something about it which speaks to you. And maybe you don’t understand every little thing which has been set out in front of you… maybe those are the things you’ll figure out on a reread. But when you lock in, that’s all it takes.

When I sat down to check out some Steampunkish comics a couple of weeks ago and came across Hinges by Meredith McClaren, I thought I’d read a few pages and move on with my life.Bauble and Orio had other plans for me.

Bauble and Orio had other plans for me.

Interview with the Creator of The Legend of Everett Forge

Everett Forge is in the mold of many of those same Westerns. He’s clearly a man on a mission to destroy Omega’s entire livelihood. He’s a myth, a ghost story the Robots tell each other at night – make sure you lube all your joints of Everett Forge will get you.

Interview with the Creator of Boston Metaphysical Society

Take the X-Files, set it in an alternate history of Boston, and force the characters to have to deal with a different set of social mores and expectation than we deal with today. BMS has run a handful of successful Kickstarters (and have 6 issues collected in their trade), so you are going to get your full story.

The Gilded Age Interviews

As part of my month-long Gilded Age Kickstarter campaign, I collected the various interviews I’d conducted with much of the team over the previous year. There are still a couple of people left to talk to… it’s on the to do list.

Interview with the Creator of Monstrous

Monstrous stems from a lifelong fascination with monster movies and their misunderstood heroes.  Even when they’re completing evil, monsters are always the most compelling thing about the stories they occupy.  I’ve always loved the Universal Studios monsters and Ghostbusters and the Hammer Studios movies.  I threw all of those influences together with plots from John Wayne westerns in this strange steampunk hybrid. Monstrous is like all of these things I’ve loved for years having a party together.

Interview with one of the Creators of The Jekyll Island Chronicles

The Jekyll Island Chronicles is a graphic novel adventure series blending historical fact with heavy doses of alternate history and adventure. Book One, The Machine Age War, opens the story in the days following The Great War – a time when a brief glimmer of peace and hope quickly fades as a cryptic organization moves to threaten fragile governments and their people with a campaign of chaos and terror. 

 

 

Kickstart the Comic

Word Smith

This was the first of the series, focusing on Victoria who crafts words. Through the use of this magic, she is able to affect the world around her. This Kickstarter ended up funding, and I have my digital copy!

Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poer #1 KS Exclusive

Edgar Allan Poe has lost everyone he ever loved and now he is losing his mind. Haunted by his wife’s ghost and his many literary failures, the poet tumbles into a fantastical world created by his genius…and his madness. This world called Terra Somnium is a nightmare region that merges his macabre literary creations and mythological gods and monsters of old, all hell-bent on stopping him from escaping the land of dreams.

This Kickstarter funded and I believe the second issue was funded as well, so if you missed them, keep an eye out for issue 3.

The Invention of EJ. Whitaker

This was a case where the Kickstarter was long over, but I still wanted to shine a little light on the project. In fact, I need to reach out to the creators about an interview I’ve been promised!

When Ada Turner, a young Inventor’s apprentice, creates a flying machine in 1901, she’s introduced to the dangerous side of the Industrial Age.

Blood & Dust Volume 2

The Old West is really that last bastion before the industrial revolution kicks into high gear. But there is plenty of bleed between the two areas, the same as Steampunk and Weird West style stories. That Gothic Horror feel of monsters being in a place where, by all rights, they should not be. And whether it is a Steampowered invention needing to put the darkness back in its place or the sidearm of a cowboy – it feels all connected even if it isn’t a 100% match of genres all the time.

The Death Defying #1

Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini.

The writer and the magician.

They were once the best of Friends.

When their friendship went to hell, 

The world wasn’t very far behind.

Stoker and Wells – The Graphic Novel

In 1894 London, a 20-something H.G. Wells and a 40-something Bram Stoker meet and have a very unexpected 48-hour adventure that leads to the creative inspiration for both writer’s first great success – THE TIME MACHINE for Wells and DRACULA for Stoker.  It is not only a thrilling, scary, fun, and beautifully drawn adventure tale, but also a story about putting aside fear and insecurity and stepping into your true identity.

Kickstart the Game

1879 London Adventure and Sourcebook

1879 is FASA’s steamweird roleplaying game, that takes the place of Shadowrun in our cosmology. Due to a weird science experiment that opens a stable wormhole, Earth’s magic cycle gets jumpstarted in the late Victorian era, leading to a Gilded Age with elves, dwarves, snarks, and trolls. As the world adjusts to its new races, technological progress races forward, as the Age of Steam begins to give way to the Age of Electricity. Clockwork computers exchange data over telegraph wires, steam-powered airships chug through the sky, and industrial applications of magic churn out new wonders daily.

Westbound: Revolvers and Rituals

Westbound is a game of adventure on the frontier. You’ll explore the magical wild west, encounter other frontiersmen, fight strange new creatures, and strike gold or die trying. Robbing trains, shooting up saloons, and rescuing damsels is all apart of a days work for a Westbounder.

When the soil’s turned sour,

And the well all dried up.

When men in suits put a gun in your hand

And send you to war.

When there’s nothing left of your home,

But ash and regret.

It’s time to turn Westbound.

Game Reviews

Space: 1889

As I said in the breakdown of the RPG Quickstart rules: Take the best parts of John Carter, Warlord of Mars, a mix of the crazy-fun science fiction of Jules Verne and HG Wells, and top it off with some of the pulp stories from the 30’s and 40’s about adventures on other planets (before pesky real science ruined it for everyone). The Imperial nations of Europe decided to look to the stars to appease their appetites for materials for Queen and Country (or Kaiser and Country as the case may be).

Other

5 Steampunk Movies You Should Watch

As I was coming up with this list of 5 Steampunk movies, I had to admit that there aren’t as many as you might think there are considering the number of costumes I see posted all over the web (or at conventions like Dragon Con). The following aren’t necessarily the best, but these are ones who contribute in their own way to the genre.

Short Film – Eye of the Storm

This is a music video. This is a short film. This is amazing looking.

The story centers around a sky captain making his way across the sky, making peace with what came before and steadying himself on what may come next. Accompanied by a large dog-sized dragon, he sees the green glow just past an oncoming storm and must make his decision on how to deal with it. Whether he should avoid it or push through to the other side.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

With the trailer for the animated movie debuting, I thought it was more than time to give a little focus on a Batman related Steampunk story… that I have not read as of yet. Share in the story of my failure…

Gears and Cogs

A few of the things that had caught my eye over that week: Draw with Jazza, They are Billions (video game), and Brass Empire (card game).

***

I’m looking forward to even more this next year!

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

In the Future, Retread the Past

We come to the beginning of the year and with it a chance to reflect on the previous year’s accomplishments and failures and set those goals for the following year. Every year I set out goals, but manage to only hit a small portion of what I had planned for the coming year. Sometimes the reasons are other projects which suddenly demanded my attention and other times it is a time squeeze or not managing my time just right or perhaps I’m setting my goals too high?

The thing is that each of these projects are like open boxes in my mind. If I’m not careful I’ll continue to open new boxes… which is great! However, if you never close any of the boxes, that can be worse than not having them in the first place.

2018 has to be about closing boxes so that new boxes can be worked on. And a big piece of that puzzle was actually accomplished late last year with the Gilded Age Kickstarter funding. Shutting the box (completing the graphic novel) doesn’t mean I’m finished with the Gilded Age, but instead means I have something I can point at and feel that sense of accomplishment we all get when we complete those large tasks.

The Look Back – 2017

Reviewing my previous to-do list is a little depressing because I can feel the frustration of my previous self. 2017 was to be the end of this “5-year plan” where… well I don’t exactly know what it is I was expecting.

The White Effect

I have one more path for this book before I do self-publish it. I entered it into the Angry Robot open submissions during the holidays. One way or another this must become a box that gets closed.

Edge of the World

Not much movement here. I still need to finish my self-edit. I would still like to send out query letters.

S.O.U.L. Mate

Above, I mentioned that having too many open boxes is better than the alternative, but in this case, the old Writer’s Block came to visit me. It was surprising considering I had the book outlined out… until I realized I didn’t have parts of it outlined out… and that brought me to a screeching halt.

The Gilded Age

This is where I can pat myself (and all those who supported the Kickstarter) on our collective backs. After helping out on the Route 3 Kickstarter, I was both excited and worried about launching my own. But when I finally pulled the trigger… it was even more nerve-wracking than I would have thought!

Regardless, this is a big success, and I’m looking forward to holding the trade in my hands.

Veronica Mars Novella 2

This was published earlier in the year and somewhat showed me that everything is timing. When the Kindle Worlds had just launched, we were pretty much ready with the 1st novella… and while it didn’t break the bank, it was a consistent seller, a handful here or there every month. This novella was released a couple of years later. There wasn’t a new book or movie or really much in the way of Veronica Mars news, and the sales of both books prove that out.

I’m still extremely happy to have published the story.

Short Stories

This was a very nebulous one and I did finish up a couple of stories, but they are still on the hard drive, so maybe I’ll give myself half credit.

Blogging

Another success story in that I still didn’t miss a week (though I came close a couple of times), but the other aspect was to be a little more focused with the Kickstart the Comic series or the Behind the Comic series… and I think I did a better job of it. My blog is probably still a little too scattered, but I like that.

Plus, I also launched a second blog over the summer in Steampunk Fridays… and let me tell you it is both a blessing and a curse to have a focused blog. Sometimes it means you have plenty of things to write about, interviews to run, reviews, or Kickstarters, and other times there is next to nothing happening. Very feast or famine.

I took the last couple of weeks off for the holidays, but I’m hoping to keep at it in the coming year.

Looking Ahead to 2018

What are my goals this year? How about forward motion on closing those open boxes? How about opening new boxes? How about publishing another book? How about selling books at conventions?

How about a little of all those bits and pieces? Things I’d like to work on in the coming year:

The Gilded Age

The White Effect

The Edge of the World

S.O.U.L. Mate

The Crossing

Ravensgate

Short Stories

The Next Big Idea for a Novel Series

Hollow Empire Season 2

You Must Be This Tall To Ride

Entropy

Lightning

The blog(s)

Something I didn’t even have an idea was on the horizon

I want to be excited by the paths I choose. I want to have some success. I want to get the books into people’s hands and have them love the ride.

So what are you doing this year?

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love For Every Day

 

Last year I gave my wife a homemade gift. Yes, those are cheesy and many times it is a cop-out to giving a “real gift”. But I decided, partially inspired to the multitude of Jeremy’s various Question books, to go through and look for quotes about Love, about how I feel about her, and still embrace my own nerdiness – so it included lots of bits and pieces from various media that we both love.

I called it A Love For Every Day, and set about trying to find the right words for each day.

Let me tell you, it is not as quick and easy as you would think. Especially as I tried to include little nods to the actual day if possible – sometimes those being birthdays or anniversaries or just plan old holidays… many times the quotes play off of that as well.

As these holidays come to a close, and as she begins reading the entries for the last few days of the year, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites from these 365 days.

January 1

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.

Nicole Krause, The History of Love

February 2

Love is the answer to everything. It’s the only reason to do anything. If you don’t write stories you love, you’ll never make it. If you don’t write stories that other people love, you’ll never make it.

Ray Bradbury

March 16

Have you ever been in love? Horrible, isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life… You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore.

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman

April 19

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva…

So tweasure your wuv.

The Princess Bride

May 4

I love you.

I know.

The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi

June 19

You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.

Peter Pan

July 16

If you have just one,

Let me be that love

If you have lots of others,

Please let me be

Please let me be one

Let me be one

Jonah Matranga, Crush On Everyone

August 13

I’m afraid that once your heart’s involved, it all comes out in moron.

Gilmore Girls

September 30

You can learn all the math in the ‘Verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don’t love, she’ll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you she’s hurtin’ ‘fore she keens. Makes her a home.

Serenity

October 31

My dearest friend

If you don’t mind

I’d like to join you by your side

Where we can gaze into the stars

And sit together now and forever

For it is plain as anyone can see, we’re simply meant to be.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

November 8

I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can play together all night.

Calvin and Hobbes

December 29

I thought our story was epic, you know, you and me.

Epic how?

Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed. EPIC.

Come on. Ruined lives? Bloodshed? You really think a relationship should be that hard?

No one writes songs about the ones that come easy.

Veronica Mars

***

Hope you have some great holidays with those you love.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

The Last Jedi – Thoughts

I don’t think I’m the right person to review certain movies.

Back in college my wife and I went to the movies about every other week… so we saw our fair share, but compared to some of my other friends, it was merely a drop in the ocean. Add to it the idea that we were only going to see the top end movies… and by that I mean we’re seeing mostly the big movies. The summer blockbusters, or the movies that… well, the ones people have actually heard of.

Obviously, this limits your exposure to some hidden gems, but it also (sometimes) helps to avoid really bad films. You know the ones I’m talking about – terrible comedies with the latest sitcom actor or some romantic movies with no discernible plotline or most of the disaster movies or most of the “Big Giant Animal attacks” movies.

If we saw a trailer that showed a movie we didn’t think we’d like… we didn’t go see it. It wasn’t a moral imperative to make sure to hit all of the movies.

This means, most of the time, I’m predisposed to like movies I got to the theater to see. It means I’m not trying to nit-pick things to death, but am really trying to enjoy the ride.

And hey, people go to the movies (or watch them at home) for any number of reasons. Maybe you just really like the experience. Maybe it’s your trade and you feel like you have to keep up with them.

The reason I even start this with all of the above is that when I like something, I’m “in”. I’m not waiting in the wings to shout “Aha! I knew you would screw this thing I love up!” No, I’m “in” for as long as I possibly can be. I love with my whole heart these bits and pieces I grew up with. And if you want me to not love it any longer, then you have to do a TON to push me away.

So I have to watch the commentary about The Last Jedi over these few days since I consumed it with a bit of a raised eyebrow. I’m never sure where any of the people who poke at their so-called loves are really coming from. Unless I specifically know you, I have to believe that perhaps you have been jaded by something else and you were waiting for this movie so that you might just say bad things about it. That maybe, long ago (in a galaxy far, far away) you might have been “In” for Star Wars. Maybe the Prequels did it. Maybe it was Disney buying the franchise. Maybe it was the wiping away of the extended universe. Maybe it was Han shooting last. Heck, maybe it was Rogue One. Maybe it was JJ Abrams. Or maybe it was just that you only want to love the original trilogy.

And that’s all ok.

 

I liked The Last Jedi. Like I said above, I’m predisposed to liking it. Heck, I may love it, only future viewings will inform that emotion.

I liked that there were certainly call-backs, but many times those call backs were slightly subverted. I liked that Luke had changed in 30 years. Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi is a million miles away from what he was at the beginning of A New Hope, so to think he’d still be in the same headspace never occurred to me. Do I agree with every little aspect of how he got there? I don’t know. I’ve only had a couple of days to digest. I’ve only talked it over with a couple of people

Rey’s parents reveal – perfect.

Snoke’s big scene – I really dug it, but then again, I haven’t been obsessed with trying to figure out who this guy really was.

Leia – Moreso than The Force Awakens I understood that she is the Rebellion and the Rebellion is her. That she is the one person who will never give an inch, never surrender, never give up, and she will always be that true north star for the Rebels. If you are ever confused about what you should do in a situation within the Star Wars Universe, figure out what Leia would do and then do that.

Finn – I like that he’s always running. He’s human and unsure of himself and scared of his past.

Poe – I like that he’s brash, but he’s not Han Solo. He makes mistakes (big ones), but he’s trying to do right… as best as he can. I like that he got more of a chance to be a real character.

Rose – I like that she gives more of an every person viewpoint of the Rebels. She sees these people as the heroes they can be.

Kylo Ren – For the people confused about whether making Rey the main hero of these movies means they are not about the Skywalker family… I don’t get it. Episodes 1-3 were about the fall of a man. Episodes 4-6 were about his redemption. And it feels like Episodes 7-9 might just be about his legacy.

All of that doesn’t mean there aren’t moments that felt a little clunky or a little out of place… it just means the good outweighs any bad. These movies don’t have to be perfect (I mean, there is only one Empire Strikes Back).

A friend on Facebook wrote that The Last Jedi may not have been the movie you wanted, but it was the movie you deserved.

That may be the truth.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Fridays – Gears and Cogs

There are games to be played. There are videos to be watched. There are novels and comics to be read.

But I haven’t done that.

Instead, I wanted to share some things I’ve been checking out. Most have caught my eye because of a Steampunk connection. These are bits that I’m just beginning to explore or think about or watch or…

Draw with Jazza

This is a series of youtube videos where you get to watch him take votes from the audience and then come up with a colored character drawing. I first saw it on a random search and he had done a “Steampunk Rogue”. As a guy who writes comics, seeing an artist work is like watching someone perform actual magic. The page begins empty and slowly they fill it into something greater than it started.

Jazza does a great job in really walking through the steps (at an accelerated visual pace) of what he’s thinking, what he might be trying to convey, and whether he thinks he’s gotten it right.

If you just want to scroll through his final prints, you can find them here.

They Are Billions

What do you get when you cross Steampunk with zombies with the gameplay of a Starcraft style real-time strategy game? They Are Billions looks to be the answer to that question. It is currently in early access, but I like the idea behind the game and am interested to see what Steampunk things might play into the actual gameplay.

Brass Empire

I actually bought this game at Gen Con and it still has not been played. But I longingly look at the box and hope once the holidays are over, that I can convince my poor wife to entertain me for a little while as we learn the ins and outs of the game. This is one of those where it certainly has all the look of something extremely cool… and it kills me to look at the box every day as it mocks me from its spot on the desk.

Rock Manor Games just did an expansion box set to the original game on Kickstarter. You can check out Rock Manor Games here.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Closing Threads for the End of the Year

A Grab Bag for this week (also known as Random Thoughts from John).

***

December becomes a mad scramble for me every year. Not because of Christmas parties or because of fighting the people at the Mall over the last whatever it is I’m at the Mall to get, and not because every day ends up having something “to do” if left up to the wife.

OK. It is a mad scramble exactly for all those reasons… plus one other one:

Trying to get random bits and pieces of writing in order by the end of the year. You see, every year I write a blog post that lays out the year – what I want to accomplish, what I expect to accomplish, what I could accomplish if I cloned myself… but it is a little pie in the sky. I mean, I put everything on it (because you should dream big, right?), and since I started doing it 3 or 4 years ago, I find myself entering December with unfinished business.

Suddenly I have to squeeze a year’s worth of wants and goals into 31 days of crazy.

Yeah, it never works out.

***

Die Hard is one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time.

I believe this, somewhere deep in my soul.

Yet, we had a potluck lunch this week and end up putting it on as the holiday movie. And while it takes place at Christmas, John McClain does write “Ho Ho Ho” (now I have a machine gun) on the dead guy’s shirt… maybe (and this is only a maybe), maybe it isn’t something that everyone else agrees is a great Christmas movie.

I mean, they are wrong, but it is very odd to hear rapid gunfire and cursing while celebrating the holidays with co-workers.

***

I once had an interview that took place during a Christmas party. I’d just graduated from college and the interview was right around 1, and the company was in the middle of exchanging gifts. So I had to sit there and smile and not focus on how awkward the whole situation was. I mean, just reschedule the interview for an hour later or an hour earlier or something.

To top it off, I didn’t even get an offer from them, which if they were trying to figure out how I might “fit in” with their group – my thinking would be to say that maybe, just maybe, there would be a better way to do it.

And if you are going to bring an interviewee into the gift exchange, maybe give him/her something. It’s bad enough that we’re there, at least then we’d leave with something.

***

Random Thoughts Done for now. Back to wrapping up Kickstarter business and watching odd movies at the “wrong” time!

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Fridays – Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

A quick one this week… as the Holiday Season gets its full weight down on us.

Years ago there was this comic called Gotham by Gaslight. It featured Batman living in a turn of the century style world where Jack the Ripper had come calling to Gotham.

If you went down the checklist of comics that I should read, this one might have checked all the boxes:

Elseworld – If you are a Marvel fan, this is DC’s version of What If where they showcase alternate timelines or alternate stories from the main ones. It means they can do pretty much whatever they want and not have to worry about Continuity of why Batman might be in the early 1900s.

Jack the Ripper – There is something about Jack that makes him this fascinating figure from history. The fact that no one knew who he was. The various theories over the years about his identity. The gruesomeness of his crimes.

Batman vs. Jack – Take one of the greatest characters, a detective, and put him against this one person who apparently had us all fooled.

So how was the comic? I don’t know. I’ve never actually read it.

I don’t know why. Even as I’m writing this all out, I don’t know why. I always meant to pick it up… it is a comic fail for sure.

Soon though, I can potentially make up for my egregious error (or at least partially make up for it) as they are going to release it to DVD next year! And I think now would be a perfect time to visit that world and enjoy the movie before finally reading the graphic novel. I won’t sit there the whole time comparing it because I’ll watch it first!

It’s kind of a win, win… right?

Ok, it’s kind of a cop-out, but at least I’ll be righting my own 20-year error!

You can check out the trailer here:

 

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Unfinished Business

Weirdly, in the aftermath of running a successful Kickstarter to get a project I’ve been working on for years, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about unfinished projects sitting on my hard drive. How for every file and folder that lies dormant on the computer, I will soon have something that is somewhat “complete”.

It was due to these incomplete projects that I created the Gilded Age the way I did in the first place. Too many comic book projects had gotten started only to fizzle out. It was very much the idea that the Gilded Age might only last 1 issue and I had a full 4 issue story-arc planned. What do you do with that? How do you get around the fact that 1 issue could very well be the only thing anyone ever sees?

In fact, there was a while there where Egg and I would email back and forth about 1 issue comic ideas because that was something we could see actually being done and finished. It was something concrete whereas the many talks about 50 issue comic storylines might (only might) have been a little beyond any of us.

Yet, even with those constraints, so many of them never saw the light of day.

And I’ve been thinking about them.

They say you are supposed to Kill Your Darlings as a writer. Basically, when you are writing, even if you love a scene or a paragraph or even just a sentence – you have to be willing to cut those just as easily as anything else.

And there is also some saying about always moving forward (I think). If something doesn’t work out, then toss it aside and start on the next thing. Something about ideas not being precious. That any creator worth their salt can come up with 100 more… and then 100 more.

Yet, I look through the files and remember things I’d forgotten. I see that there was potential within these projects. I see that there could still be potential within so many Lost ideas.

Maybe it is that Kickstarter success that suddenly has shown me a finish line is actually possible? Has it got me convinced there might be a way to bring those things back to life in some form or fashion?

It’s not about the business of the pieces… not yet at least. That will come. The questions about what does this particular thing being brought out of storage actually accomplish. What if by focusing on these older toys, I don’t give enough focus to newer ones?

I’m caught in a weird time loop of my own doing. Lamenting what should have been out a decade ago if only I’d have pushed the right buttons. How I could have been further along whatever path I currently make my way down.

But mistakes have been made along the way.

So what do you do about those old things? I’m a collector. I don’t throw things out without good reason. I believe that ideas are very precious, but I know that more will always be forthcoming. I could never just be rid of them. Do they represent too much thought, too much work, too much… growth?

Without each word, line, paragraph, half-finished script, or even finished scripts that never became comics… my current work wouldn’t exist. Without every pain of trying to pull or get pulled across a finish line, my couple of books, The Gilded Age, and a handful of short stories would not exist (or at least they would not exist in the way they do today).

So I don’t push delete on these things. I don’t erase them from my mind or my flash drive. I don’t purge the emails of random thoughts and nuggets of storylines… for they offer me a glimpse at all the paths I’ve been on until today.

Sure, they may frustrate me that they didn’t get there, but they might have helped me get there.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Fridays – Interview with one of the Creators of The Jekyll Island Chronicles

When I was younger, my grandparents would drive to Jekyll Island (on the coast of Georgia) to go fishing. They’d wake up before the crack of dawn, somehow get my smaller frame from the bed to the back of the car, and drive the forty-five minutes to the beach where we’d spend much of the day fishing and learning about various fish worth eating and not worth eating.

So when I saw that there was a steampunk related comic called The Jekyll Island Chronicles… I had to reach out.

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

There are three of us in this endeavor and we all have been either reading or making comics since we were kids.  I (Steve) used to sit in my room and draw my own versions of Spider-man and the Fantastic Four.  Our actual jobs are all doing different things, so becoming graphic novel authors became a side hobby for us later in life.  We actually started working on The Jekyll Island Chronicles in January of 2013.

At what point did you sit down to become a writer/artist? Do you remember the first thing you drew/wrote?

I think I am the one with the most graphic arts background.  My dad worked in a factory during the day and would come home at night and paint portraits for friends and family members, to make extra spending money.  He taught me how to draw when I was old enough to hold a pencil.  I remember a book of Disney characters that I drew when I was a kid.  I remember him sitting at the kitchen table with me and building dinosaur models.  I have since graduated to more extensive and difficult kits, and scratch built a bunch of my own.   Creating art has a wonderful, calming effect on me.

All three of us have been heavily involved in writing projects of our own in the past as well.  Ed wrote another book several years back and Jack and I have been writing plays and sketch comedy for our church for many years.

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

Jack loves experiences:  he is a Disneyphile through and through.  He would build a scale (and highly detailed) model of Disneyland in his house if he could.  Ed is a voracious reader and plows through novels constantly.  He loves sci/fi, mysteries, and westerns.  And I get inspirations everywhere, no place in particular.  Sometimes, I just like to walk through a retail shopping center and look for things that inspire me.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

Hah!  We all have really demanding jobs.  This is our hobby.  Nights, weekends, while watching tv or sports at night.  I am usually sitting drawing thumbnails on my ipad to make life easier for our artists.  We try to meet periodically to line up on story and plot development (maybe once or twice a month).  We tell our spouses we don’t play golf (at least not well), so this is our club membership.

It’s often difficult to get word out about independent/small press comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?

It’s been an eye-opening experience.  I have an author friend at work who told me that marketing of books has changed over the years—authors are really much more responsible for this and publishers are, well, publishers.  I have found this to be generally true.  Not bad.  Just generally true.

Our publisher at Top Shelf, Chris Staros, told us pretty much the same thing after we signed our book deal.  They publish the books, invite us to the Cons where they are present, put the books out in the proper channels, but we do the heavy lifting on the marketing (Facebook & websites, blogging, boosting posts, local book signings, reaching out to newspapers and magazines, etc etc etc).  We had to learn how to do a bunch of stuff, from a literary marketing standpoint, that we have never done before.  But Chris is a great sounding board for us and happily answers any questions we have.  It’s so good to have his knowledge and experience base in our corner when we need it (which is A LOT!)  We are working with a PR firm on putting together proposals for the release of Book Two.  So, we are hoping to have more firepower in that area.

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

We have to have an outline.  We use the classic three-act story structure, but because we are a series, we have to layer that structure over each book as well as the entire series.  I guess that’s why trilogies make sense.  For Book One, I had a lot of the basic story arc in my head, and Jack and Ed helped me fill in a bunch–like the whole Jekyll Island connection.  Book Two was more of a blank page than Book One, so it was harder.  We use note cards with plot points and move things around constantly in the beginning.  When we get the arc locked down, we divide and conquer the writing duties, usually giving one person an act to tackle.  We come back, read together, edit together, and make suggestions.  The key is to hold your writing loosely.  You can’t be so dogmatic to “have it your way”.  If that happens, you frustrate everyone and it flies in the face of collaboration and making each other better.  We are long-time friends, so that makes it easier.  But even then, every once in a while, we have to work through things.  It really is a lot of give and take.

I currently live just north of Atlanta, in Suwanee, Georgia, but I’ve been to Jekyll Island dozens of times when I was younger. So it was very cool to even see that this book existed. What inspired you to create Jekyll Island Chronicles?

Ed was instrumental in coming up with the idea to place much of the story at Jekyll.  When I explained the original idea to him, he asked if I had ever been to Jekyll.  I had been in Atlanta for 25 years and had never gone there, and only just heard of it but never really knew about its history.  So, my wife and I took a weekend, went to down to the island, toured it and my brain exploded.  It was the PERFECT set up for the characters and the scenarios, which were all post-WWI and at the height of the gilded age at Jekyll.  It is a Georgia treasure and our hope is that people, especially Georgians, will become a little more knowledgeable about their own history.

What’s been the reaction to the book?

It’s been extremely positive.  Of course, our family and friends have been our biggest cheerleaders.  We’ve gotten good reviews on Amazon (especially) and Good Reads.  Every once in a while we get someone who “doesn’t get it” or takes issue with the alt history portions of it.  We even had one guy who reviewed it and got the plot/character points wrong, so did he even read it??  But then again we were named one of the Top 10 Books Every Young Georgian Should Read for 2017 (all graphic novels go in that category)—so that was a nice feather in our cap.  We already had a second printing.  We had a line of people waiting to sign the book at the NY Comic Con, so that was pretty cool.  We’ve gotten a lot of interest from podcasters, bloggers and people wanting to do interviews.  This is our first rodeo, but so far, so good.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

We started this whole process with themes.  We wrote down the things/principles we believed and wanted to be true for our story.  First, we saw a lot of cynicism with heroes—dark heroes, conflicted heroes—and we wanted to do something different.  Maybe even classic.  My grandfather fought in the US Cavalry in WWI to gain his citizenship.  He was a regular, simple man of principle.  He knew right from wrong.  He wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t constantly dark and conflicted.  We wanted a return to classic heroism.  We wanted people who were willing to work together in spite of their differences.  Our country is torn down the middle today and we are all saddened and sick of it.  At least we have a built a world where people can come together for the greater good.

Also, we wanted to have a world where it wasn’t evil to have resources.  Andrew Carnegie gave away like $300 million dollars.  He built a system of libraries all across the country.  Not all people with wealth are robber barons, you know?  Jack and I worked for one for decades.  There is good and evil is ALL people–not just one group, one type, or one party.  We hoped that the book would force people to actually look for the good in all of our heroes.  Finally, we wanted a story where the veterans were the biggest heroes.  We owe SO MUCH to them.  It’s no surprise that our original heroes are the broken WWI vets that get “rebuilt” to fight the atrocities of the early 20th century anarchists.

Your first graphic novel was released by Top Shelf & IDW Publishing. How did that relationship come about?

We actually sponsored a class at SCAD in Savannah to help us create a pitch packet for publishers/production companies that might be interested in our idea.  Once we got the packet done, we approached Chris Staros with Top Shelf.  He was Georgia-based, actually Marietta-based, which was right around the corner from all of us.  We called him, took him to lunch one day, introduced ourselves, and handed him the pitch packet.  He said he would take a look at it and give us comments.  The next day he called me and said he thought it was good—really good—and if we finished it, he would like to keep the whole thing in Georgia and publish for us.  WOW.  I know that this is NOT how it is supposed to work.  But, it happened for us and we were, and still are, very grateful to Chris and his confidence.  When Top Shelf got acquired by IDW, that confidence transferred over to them.  They have been huge supporters of ours and they now have us in their catalog that they send to production companies for tv/film.

You currently have 1 graphic novel out there with a second one due out next year. What’s the overall plan with Jekyll Island Chronicles?

The plan is to keep making books until we get too tired and stop (or someone tells us to stop).  At least we want 3.  But the larger goal is 6. The story arc of the original Jekyll Island Club ends in WWII.  We would love to take it that far.

I see on your website that there are teaching materials based on the comic. Can you talk a little about how you came to that idea as well as your goals with the program?

Well, the story has a TON of facts in it.  The alt history component actually has a lot of HISTORY.  We always loved the idea of using the book to teach history and have students weave through the narrative of what is true and what is not.  So we approached Glen Downey (an author who is an expert in this area) and he agreed to put together teaching materials for us.  They are all available for free on our website.  We have a public high school in the Jekyll area that is using it in both the US and world history class, and a private school here in Cobb County that is doing the same thing.  Ideally, this is a great way for creative teachers to introduce their students not just to history but also to the medium of the graphic novel.  We think this is a big idea.

Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about the artists on the books.

We met both of our artists in our SCAD class.  They were students who, at the time, were finishing up their studies.  Moses Nester is our illustrator/inker and SJ Miller is our colorist.  One is in ATL and one is in Vegas.  Everything is done digitally.  I take the script, gather reference photos, drop them into an app for my ipad called Strip Designer and create tight comps/thumbnails, send them electronically to Moses who inks, sends to SJ for coloring and sound effects and then back to me for final approval.  It seems to work pretty well.  Our artists are very gifted individuals with a bright career in front of them!  We are just so happy that we have access to them at this time of their lives—and we hope this is given them so good experience to bounce off of for the future.

If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

I wish I knew that I was really responsible for my creative outlets in life.  I mean, I have always been creative, but sometimes at work, I was waiting for that itch to be scratched there.  And at times, that didn’t happen.  I wish I had been more aware of the idea to create instead of consume, and now I hope that our creative endeavor helps others to do the same.  Bottom line, if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door (with credit to Milton Berle for that fine axiom).

Where’s the best place to find out more about Jekyll Island Chronicles and the rest of your works?

Like us on facebook

https://www.facebook.com/jekyllislandchronicles/

or go to our website

https://jekyllislandchronicles.com/

Steampunkers are welcome to check out our website, where we have a link for selling the book, pre-ordering book two and buying other merch. And the book is available in bookstores and on line everywhere.

STEVE NEDVIDEK has worked in film, radio, and television and received his Masters Degree in Theater from Wake Forest University, where he completed his thesis in make-up design. He is an avid cartoonist, model maker, writer, and movie watcher, and resides in the Atlanta suburbs with his wife, kids, and dog.

ED CROWELL holds advanced degrees in political science and international affairs. He is an executive at a non-profit and a writer with dozens of published articles. A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, he and his wife have two children who went off to college, but left Ed and Cynthia with two cats, a fish, and a dog.

JACK LOWE is a student of film making and themed entertainment. A passionate storyteller with a bent toward immersive, multi-sensory experiences, Jack and his wife, three children, two dogs, and two cats live in the shadow of Kennesaw Mountain in Atlanta.

Ed is on the left, Steve in center, Jack on right

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I want to thank Steve for taking the time to answer my questions!

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

Kickstart the Comic – Penumbra: Fear the Bunny Lord!

There is a term for comic books that became a slightly bad way of referring to them: Funny Books. Meaning they were good for a few laughs, but that was about it. Yet, my friend and I like to take that derisive term and embrace it when we talk about comics. Whether it is Marvel or DC or Image or anything and everything else out there – they are our funny books. They should bring smiles to your face because you are enjoying what you’re reading because that means the people creating the book must have been having “fun” as well.

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Penumbra: Fear the Bunny Lord!

From Shades of Vengeance Comics

Writer/Letters – Jonathan Lewis

Artist – Sebastian Sala

Colorist – Slamet Mujino

Kickstarter campaign ends on Sunday, December 3, 2017 at 9:34 AM EST.

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The Pitch:

Penumbra: Fear the Bunny Lord, is the story of the Mistress of Shadows meeting her greatest foe, a lagomorph with great night vision!

The Story:

On a heist to steal a piece of alien technology, rumored to increase the abilities of any Empowered who holds it, she faces off against Wild Hare. He has an aim to test his skills against the slickest of escape artist. Together with the small army of security, Wild Hare will make sure it isn’t Penumbra’s lucky day.

John’s Thoughts:

Like I said in the preamble, this looks like a comic where the creators are just cutting loose and having fun. I mean, a master thief up against a two-legged bunny? And the thing is that comics don’t always have to be these dreary things that we force ourselves through just to have said: “hey, I read that thing – yeah, it depressed the hell out of me, but I read it!”

I gotta think that after you read this issue the response is much more likely to include lots of laughter rather than tears.

The Rewards:

The other thing about this campaign is that the overall amount being asked for is only about $467, so the rewards all lean towards the various digital rewards. However, if you want to spring for something a little different, the $66 level has a “Personal short story by the writer including Penumbra and an Original character of your choice”. If you have that one character you wish you could include in other people’s worlds, here’s your chance.

The Verdict:

Master thieves and the Rabbits that chase them. Nuff said. Go get yourself a funny book.

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To learn more about Penumbra, check out the Shades of Vengeance website here.

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

The Top Thanksgiving Movies

My office mate, Ian, has a theory that if you can come up with the quintessential Thanksgiving movie you could be set for life. There are tons of Christmas movies and plenty of Halloween movies, but Thanksgiving is kind of left out in the cold. So I thought I’d try to find some Thanksgiving holiday movies to hold you over while you recover from the turkey coma we’ll all surely be in sometime on Thursday.

Instead, it seems Thanksgiving mostly allows for the other classics to be watched or series of movies to be binge-watched. I fully expect that the Rocky series will be played in its entirety at some point this week. Maybe the Karate Kid or just a series of 80s movies rounded out by Ferris Bueller.

So how about some “Thanksgiving” movies?

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I didn’t even realize this was a Thanksgiving movie until I started writing this blog. In my mind, it is snowing and he’s got to get home for the holidays = Christmas. But no, he’s getting home for Turkey Day!

This is John Candy at maybe his best (probably just behind The Great Outdoors for me) and Steve Martin nails the “straight guy” in their duo perfectly. The idea of two complete strangers needing to depend on each other in order to get home… and hijinks ensue from there.

Seriously, even if you aren’t trying to find Thanksgiving movies, this should be near the top of your comedy list.

Son in Law

This movie only exists because the girl feels sorry for Pauly Shore “Crawl” and invites him home for Thanksgiving (as otherwise, he’ll be by himself on the holidays). One of those movies where I had no desire to watch… much like many of the Saturday Night Live movies of the early 90s. But this is one where you assume it will be Shore running around on a farm for 90 minutes acting stupid… and it totally is, don’t get me wrong. Somewhere along the way, this one shows that it has a little bit of heart – as he tries to help his friend become the person he knows she can be.

Yes, a “Weasel” movie where he helps someone come to their senses. Crazy.

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And I’m out. Oh, there are others – The New World, where we get the story of Pocahontas, Home for the Holidays, that I recognize the name and nothing else about the story it presents, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving – which is beyond a classic, and yet I remember The Great Pumpkin and the Christmas Specials and not really that one. And so on. I found a list that mostly just has movies on it because there happens to be one moment that may or may not be Thanksgiving related.

Maybe Ian is correct? We apparently NEED a solid Thanksgiving movie so that we know exactly what we’ll be watching on Thursday or Friday or whenever during the week.

I mean, secretly I’m still waiting for the Eli Roth “Thanksgiving” movie, just to get the list into some level of respectability.

 

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Steampunk Fridays – Kickstart the Comic – Stoker and Wells – The Graphic Novel!

Another one made for Steampunk Fridays… I’m not sure how much more I need to say… let’s get to the comic!

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Stoker and Wells – The Graphic Novel

Writer – Steven Peros

Artist – Barry Orkin

Colors – Chris Summers

Letters – Marshall Dillon

Editor – J.C. Vaughn

Kickstarter campaign ends on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 at 3:39 PM EST.

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The Pitch:

In 1894 London, a 20-something H.G. Wells and a 40-something Bram Stoker meet and have a very unexpected 48-hour adventure that leads to the creative inspiration for both writer’s first great success – THE TIME MACHINE for Wells and DRACULA for Stoker.  It is not only a thrilling, scary, fun, and beautifully drawn adventure tale, but also a story about putting aside fear and insecurity and stepping into your true identity.  

The Story:

In a nutshell, Stoker and Wells meet in London of 1894 and through extraordinary fictitious circumstances, rooted in historical accuracy (which will remain under wraps until publication!), find themselves forced at gunpoint to travel 4000 years into the future in a time machine, not of their own design.  The machine is pre-programmed to return to 1894 exactly 48 hours later, so Stoker and Wells are dealt a huge blow when… the time machine is stolen!  Now the two men must journey through the weird and dangerous Earth of 5894 to find their machine before it returns without them, aided by “Nina”, an Eloi, and “Wren”, who claims to be a “reformed” Morlock…

John’s Thoughts:

These real-world people living out the strange lives that eventually their characters will encounter is that cool kind of idea that fills my head with all sorts of ideas. Who else could you potentially use? And what crazy adventure(s) could you take them on?

Pencils & Inks: Barry Orkin / Colors: Chris Summers / Letters: Marshall Dillon

Plus, in this particular case… well, I’ve always loved the Time Machine and who doesn’t love Dracula (you’re wrong if you raised your hand!)? Definitely not a pair I would have thought to combine, but I’m interested to see how this might work out.

The Rewards:

One of the cool things is that at the $75 reward level, you can get a Billy Tucci cover (a Kickstarter exclusive). At higher values you can get a Billy Tucci Portfolio review ($300) or a Script Evaluation for your screenplay or tv pilot ($300 and not one you see all that often on the comic side).

 

Pencils: Billy Tucci / Colors: Barry Orkin

The Verdict:

They said Wells and Stoker. They said time travel. They said Morlocks. They said Castle Dracul…

Enough said.

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To learn more about Stoker and Wells, check out the Facebook Page here.

***

John McGuire

The Gilded Age Kickstarter is still going on. Check it out on Kickstarter here.

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Kickstart the Comic – The Last Ember #1: Teenager by Day, Fire Goddess by Night

Sometimes it is a name. Sometimes it is the art. Sometimes it is something else that I can’t always put my finger on. And sometimes it is a bit of all of that. The Last Ember #1 is a little of all those things. And more than enough to capture my attention.

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The Last Ember #1

By Last Ember Press

Writer/ Letterer – Brant Fowler

Penciller – Giulia Lalli

Inker/ Colorist – Lisa Moore

Editor, PR Director – Jay McCarthy

Kickstarter campaign ends on Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 12:59 AM EST.

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The Pitch:

Ember Madison was an ordinary teenage girl with ordinary teenage problems. She lived a relatively average life… until that night when the fire started. Everything changed after that.

The Story:

As seen in The Last Ember #0, this is not the first time abilities like this have manifested. In fact, it keeps happening over and over again, as it is destined to be. But something has happened and now Ember is the last of her kind… the last goddess of fire!

The Last Ember is the first and lead title of Last Ember Press’ Emberverse line. The series will delve into the mythology of Ember’s world as she learns about her past and what that means for her present and her future. 

Ember will have to discover why she is the last of her kind, and what consequences that has for her life, her dreams, her aspirations. She hasn’t even figured out what college she wants to go to and now she must determine what she does with this huge responsibility thrust upon her.

John’s Thoughts:

If I’ve learned anything from my own Kickstarter, it’s that the days both fly by and seem to drag on forever. On those where no one seems to want to back your book, they last for eons. And for the ones where you are getting backers from everywhere – they never last long enough.

Coming of age stories. Figuring out who we are. Why we are here? What is our connection to the past? These are universal questions everyone struggles with. How Ember Madison figures out her place will be very interesting.

The Last Ember #1 is closing in on their funding goal with a handful of days to go ($3054/$3500), and feels like a comic that deserves to see the light of day.

The Rewards:

One thing that this Kickstarter has done is add various Milestone Bonuses as they reach different funding levels. Unlike Stretch Goals, these actually happen on the way to funding. So far it has been various additional Pinups and other digital comics, which is definitely a good way to bring some excitement to those intermediate levels (like 60% funded).

Aside from the digital and print copies of both #0 and #1 being available at the early levels, if you really want to delve into the full catalog of Last Ember Press, the $100 gets you a print copy of every comic they have currently published.

And at the top end, there is also an option to get the Last Ember Press team to work on one of your comic book projects ($300). As you can see from their work on the page, you’ll get high quality in return.

The Verdict:

I’ve thrown my money in on this one. The fact that even at the lower reward levels they are ensuring so many milestone bonuses means you’re constantly getting something new to look forward to. So check them out!

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To learn more about Last Ember Press, check out their website here.

***

John McGuire

The Gilded Age Kickstarter is still going on. Check it out on Kickstarter here.

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Steampunk Fridays – Kickstart the Comic – The Death Defying #1

 

One of my loves has always been stage magic. I’m the guy that those tv shows about real life illusionists and every David Copperfield is for. I’ll stop what I’m doing to watch that stuff. And it wasn’t long before I discovered who Harry Houdini was. I’m not sure what it is about him – the fact that he brought a mixture of escapism to his tricks or that he was around during the height of Vaudeville or what, but I know I’ve written at least one school paper on the man.

So a comic with him (and Arthur Conan Doyle) is something that piques my interest.

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The Death Defying #1

Christopher Sebela – Writer

Gavin Guidry – Artist

Marissa Louise – Colors

Micah Meyers – Letters

Kickstarter campaign ends on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 6:33 PM EST.

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The Pitch:

Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini.

The writer and the magician.

They were once the best of Friends.

When their friendship went to hell, 

The world wasn’t very far behind.

The Story:

Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle used to be fast friends, visiting one another and writing letters back and forth, until their differing views on the afterlife set them against one another on stages and newspapers across the globe. Years after their breakup, the two continue to battle about spiritualism, the belief that the living can communicate with the dead. Doyle, creator of the great detective Sherlock Holmes, believes in ghosts, mediums, even photos of fairies. Houdini spends his time debunking the seances and the frauds who run them. The two are at war, two ideological armies whose battle of words is about to become a battle to the death for the very fate of humankind.

This Kickstarter is to fund production and printing of The Death Defying #1, the first in a series of four 30-page issues.

John’s Thoughts:

In real life Doyle and Houdini were friends, but this divide of ideologies proved to be too much. Doyle needed to believe, and I sometimes think Houdini wanted to find someone he couldn’t disprove (he never did). This feels like very ripe territory to construct a story. How does a skeptic deal with some coming supernatural apocalypse? How does a believer deal with the idea that he will be the downfall of his former friend?

Like I said, ripe territory for a story (the first 6 pages are previewed on the Kickstarter Page).

The Rewards:

This is the first issue, so there are the standard pdf only or print versions of the comic. But a couple of things jumped out at me. At the $12 level, you can get a print copy with the variant cover by Tyler Crook (of Petrograd, Harrow County, Bad Blood, and The Dark and Bloody).

For those script-writers who would like a little bit of help with their craft, Christopher Sebela will consult on your single issue script. For those of us who might not have an editor readily available, I can see this as being a relatively cheap way to get a non-biased second opinion on your story ($75 level).

And for the slightly deeper pockets you can appear in the comic you’re buying ($100 level), an always cool option.

The Verdict: 

Time is running low on this particular Kickstarter with less than a week to go. I’d love to see this one make its mark and provide us all with the opening chapter of a very cool story idea.

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For more information on Christopher Sebela, find it here on his website.

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John McGuire

The Gilded Age Kickstarter is still going on. Check it out on Kickstarter here.

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

The Gilded Age Posts

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

 

Doing my 4 Years Later look back last week, I realized that I’ve written a few posts on The Gilded Age, but never really compiled them into any kind of comprehensive Index. Instead, you would have had to search and claw and dig through the Tessera archives to potentially find any of this.

What follows is a collection of stories about selling the comics, coming up with the comics, and sometimes just finding a way to make the comics. I hope you check them out.

 

New York Comic Con Recap – Stories from the Con

While the overall post is about various things that happened, but the Steampunk Guy tale is directly related to my experience trying to sell a copy of The Gilded Age.

And something about Divergent Points.

The Gilded Age

Behind the Comic – The Gilded Age

Every Hero has their own Secret Origin, and this happens to be The Gilded Age’s Secret Origin!

Behind the Comic – The Gilded Age 2

A blog about the second issue of the comic, but also about the ups and downs of bringing a comic book to life in the first place. There are delays, expected and unexpected. Starts and stops. But don’t lose faith, it can and will eventually happen.

You Got Time Travel Mixed With My Steampunk!

This was a post announcing the digital release of Terminus Team-up #2, which also happens to take place in The Gilded Age.

I need to remember to do a full-on post for this one at some point, as I love the way it turned out.

Behind the Comic – Terminus Team Up #2

Oh, look at that. I did write a post about it. A story about how Amber Fox (Terminus Media’s resident Laura Croft meets Dr. Who) and how I managed to figure out a way to get another Gilded Age story out there mixed with my favorite subject: Time Travel!

Behind the Comic – Anatomy of a Panel

I wanted to take a look at one panel from The Gilded Age and really break it down. Look at the script, look at the pencils, look at the inks and colors and then the lettering. How does it all come together?

Steampunk Fridays – The Gilded Age Interviews

This is the post from a couple of weeks ago which pretty much serves as my Index of Interviews for the various people who worked on the books. I don’t know if I say it enough that I am very fortunate to have worked with all of them. They’ve made me a better creator.

Kickstart the Comic – Gilded Age: Vol 1 – A Steampunk Graphic Novel

Hey, have I mentioned that there is a Gilded Age Kickstarter still running? And we have just passed the funding mark and are now setting our sights on a couple of Stretch Goals? Still not convinced? Maybe you should check out this post where I break it all down.

Behind the Comic – Why Kickstarter?

Where I bear my soul a little bit and talk about what I’m hoping to accomplish with this Kickstarter Campaign. About how I’m nervous that all these years worth of work might be for nothing if this thing doesn’t fund. This was written in the days just before the campaign went live and my stress level might have been a bit high.

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John McGuire

The Gilded Age Kickstarter is still going on. Check it out on Kickstarter here.

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Steampunk Fridays – Interview with the Creator of Monstrous

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

The Universal Monster movies are really what introduced me to those creatures of the night. And while I’m probably most partial to the Creature movies, I loved Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolf Man. It not only set them in popular culture but also provided a blueprint on how you might go about using them in other formats.

Add that to a Steampunk setting and you have something that seems to hit all the right buttons.

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How long have you been creating/working in comics? 

I had published a few short comics stories in anthologies before my first one-shot came out in 2015.  That comic is called Wild Bullets, and it follows the four siblings of the Bullet family as they attend their parents’ Thanksgiving dinner.  They each take a turn telling the story, and when they do, a different artist handles each section in a different genre and style (crime, science fiction, adventure, and horror).  They’re all dysfunctional pulp adventurers: a detective, a mad scientist, an archaeologist, and a monster hunter.

Since then, I’ve published several issues of Monstrous and Holliston: Friendship Is Tragic.  Monstrous is a fun romp where the stories all take place in a steampunk, Frankenstein-dominated Europe.  The monsters and robots fight for their own interests, and everybody is a little bit monstrous.  

The Holliston graphic novel is based on the cult TV show by Adam Green, but it’s not just for fans of the show.  The basic idea is that it’s like The Big Bang Theory, except for horror nerds.  There are references to Stephen King, serial killers, and John Carpenter movies.  The story tells about four friends who find a cursed credit card that threatens to destroy them, destroy their friendship, and destroy the town of Holliston itself. There is a new Holliston comic on the way, and more Monstrous will be out soon!

At what point did you sit down to become a writer? Do you remember the first thing you wrote?

I have written allllllll kinds of garbage in my life.  I literally do not remember what it was like before I was writing.  I wrote comics and illustrated stories as a kid, mostly ripping off the stuff I liked.  That method is still pretty much what I do.  People who read my comics probably think: “Oh, I bet he likes ______ because he stole ______ from…”  And they’d be right.  All creators are thieves!

I taught screenwriting for a couple of years at Kalamazoo College, and I wrote movie scripts then.  Comic book scripts are much more likely to be made into something than movie scripts, so I tried that out.  I really love collaborating with the great artists I get to work with, and being able to share a comic with someone is very, very cool.

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite writer or creator?

There are scads of creators I could point to: Alan Moore if I’m feeling a little pretentious, Rick Remender if I’m being honest, etc. 

But I figure I should use this venue to give a shout-out to someone who might not be a household name yet but deserves to be.  I’ll say Ryan Ferrier.  He is a comic book writer in a variety of genres working with lots of companies, but his D4VE series and Hot Damn are just a bunch of fun, taking weird premises and wringing every last little bit of lunacy out of them.

If you haven’t read his stuff, fix your life right away, folks.  (He also wrote the forthcoming Kong on the Planet of the Apes, which promises to be cool, but give his original stuff a whirl, too.)

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

I am literally working on this response after 10:00 p.m.  And on a school night, too!

I have no idea how I manage this stuff.  If somebody knows, please tell me.

The upshot of working on creative stuff while having another job (I teach college English courses) is that when I come to the writing I know I need to focus because my time is limited.  When I “have all the time in the world” to work on something, I tend to fart around longer on the Internet.  I might claim that time as “research,” but if I do, I’m a filthy liar.

Also, my writing process is a pretty straightforward thing.  I do a lot of prewriting and outlining, so I know exactly where I need to go with the story.  I highly recommend this method, as it takes some of the airy-fairy, arty-farty aspects of writing out of the process.  I mean, it’s not all sitting under a juniper tree on a dewy April morning to achieve the necessary inspiration or whatever.  Just write the damn thing.  I’ll talk more about not screwing around waiting for some idiotic celestial muse in a bit.

It’s often difficult to get word out about independent comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?

What works best is having really rich, organized people do it for you.  But that’s not a luxury a whole lot of independent creators have at their disposal.  There are plenty of tools I would recommend using, like social media, podcasts, and lots and lots and lots of face-to-face conversations with people at anything and everything related to the comic (or book or whatever the person wants to promote).  Get out there and tell everyone who will listen!  And, please, for the love of everything that’s holy, try to make it interesting.

This past weekend, I did a signing at Barnes & Noble, and that was sandwiched between two other weekends at comic cons (Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids).  I spend a lot of time meeting people and telling them about what I have created.  I’m really excited about my comics, and I hope that enthusiasm is contagious.  From my perspective, nobody will ever care more or work harder to promote your work than you.

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

Oh, I don’t just have a full outline; I have a bunch of them.  I like to use the screenwriting model of writing out the beats of any story, organizing it, chopping it up how it needs to be broken down to look like a story that humans can recognize.  I write a logline, a synopsis, character bios, the works. 

I use Blake Snyder’s beat sheet.  Then I write a page breakdown.  If my notes on a single page can’t fit into a single line of description, I’m probably doing too much with a single page.  (Of course, I set all my rules up clearly just so I can cheat.)

My last step is actually writing the script itself.  I specify the panels, camera angles, etc.  Some other writers are more freeform, but I could sketch out the page breakdowns I am visualizing in my head if artists ever wanted that kind of thing.  I’m open to that, but so far nobody has ever really wanted me to be that absolute with my control issues. 

And the good news is that my artists (Ken Lamug on Monstrous, Steve Sharar and Josh Werner on Holliston, and Sean Seal, Steve Sharar, Jason Jimenez, Joe Freyre, and Sarah Dhyne on Wild Bullets) come up with things I never pictured throughout this process.  And it’s always better than I anticipated.  They’re terrific!  It’s like a constant stream of birthday presents!

What inspired you to create Monstrous?

Monstrous stems from a lifelong fascination with monster movies and their misunderstood heroes.  Even when they’re completing evil, monsters are always the most compelling thing about the stories they occupy.  I’ve always loved the Universal Studios monsters and Ghostbusters and the Hammer Studios movies.  I threw all of those influences together with plots from John Wayne westerns in this strange steampunk hybrid. Monstrous is like all of these things I’ve loved for years having a party together.

The potential of this setting and these characters really feels limitless to me.  I have loads more stories in this universe than I have time to write.  Frankenstein’s Europe, teeming with steampunk robots, Dracula, and Igor running tech support on brains in jars—it all just strikes a chord with me.  I don’t think I know how to get bored here.

Was this a case of coming up with the story first and then the setting or vice versa?

The notion of a shared universe with monsters and robots duking it out, trying to live their everyday lives, was the initial impetus I had.  I love the 70s horror comics Marvel put out about Dracula and Frankenstein.  The best part, to me, was taking these characters and just logically extending their stories to see what might be interesting about them.

Eventually, they basically turned Frankenstein’s monster into Captain America, and they gave Dracula a fantastic adversary by creating Blade.  Those weird changes are the kinds of things I want to do with Monstrous. Take something already established and bring a new sense of excitement and possibility.  Get all the toys out of the toybox and have fun.  The stories come mostly out of wanting to see something crazy on the page.  I keep tossing out bizarre scenarios to Ken Lamug, and he routinely delivers on this insanity in amazing and entertaining ways.

What’s been the reaction to the book?

Most people seem to like it a lot.  If they don’t, they’re too polite to tell me.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive.  Monstrous seems to tap into a bunch of things that people really enjoy, and that’s why we keep making more.  There are some possible developments as well to adapt it into a movie or a game.  I don’t have anything definite to report, but that level of interest is very exciting!

I really like telling stories about unusual families, either “families” that are not really related but instead made up of people who need to bond with each other in order to make their lives work (as in Monstrous) or actual families that stray pretty far from how we think of families working (like the deeply dysfunctional Bullet family). 

More specifically, in Monstrous many of the relationships are between father figures and daughter figures.  I guess I gravitated toward that dynamic because I feel like the father-daughter pairing, which should be fairly common in fiction, more or less isn’t.  I just wanted to see what kind of mileage a horror/western hybrid might get out of a less conventional pair at its heart.

Most of my creative work tends to be fast, fun, and escapist.  That’s not really a theme.  It’s just my overall disdain for reality.

After running a successful crowdfunding venture on Monstrous on Kickstarter, what have you learned about the process of crowdfunding? What do you think has contributed to hitting your goals on Monstrous? Do you view the platform as a testing ground for concepts? Any plans on more Kickstarters?

Ooh, that’s a tough one.  There are so many people out there who have the Kickstarter thing down to a science.  Ours was successful, but I don’t know how much I personally had to do with it.  I mostly just got nervous and spazzed out for a month.  Seriously, I lost my voice and got pneumonia.  If I had a lesson to pass on about Kickstarters, it would probably be: “Don’t be like me.”

Ha ha ha!  Who am I kidding?  That lesson extends far beyond just Kickstarters.

In all seriousness, I think it’s important to have a few videos and plenty of visual information.  Don’t run a Kickstarter if the project isn’t in the final stages!  Ideally, it should be completely finished.  Treat a Kickstarter more as a hype machine to get your thing—whatever it is—in front of different audience members.  For people who are already supportive fans, treat it as a pre-order system.

As for Kickstarter being a testing ground, that is a kind of pleasing notion.  Kickstarter is a Darwinian Thunderdome for ideas.  The only problem, though, is that some projects are too pricey or too niche to really work that way.  It is a good wake-up call, though, if the Kickstarter doesn’t work or barely squeaks by.  That idea needs re-tooling and adjustment.

As for future Kickstarters, Travis McIntire at Source Point Press has talked about us doing a Kickstarter for the second Wild Bullets.  I don’t know if we will, but I’m willing to give it a shot.

Get it?  Get it?  Bullets?  Shot?  Oof.  Remember, kids: “Don’t be like me.” 

What’s the overall plan with Monstrous (series length)?

This question is a real toughie.  I have ideas that could fill up loads of stories, but I also don’t necessarily want to outlast the interests of my readers and wind up making everyone sick of it.  I am sure that all long-time comics fans can point to a particular arc or character or series that has severely overstayed its welcome.  I don’t want that to be the case with Monstrous.

As of this moment, the series will at least go twelve issues with the plan to group four issues together into three trades, maybe have a bigger omnibus at the end.  But if I can be entirely honest and mercenary about it, I will probably take the corporate model and just do it until it’s no longer profitable.  (And yes, I know that this answer is essentially a full reversal of what I said in the last paragraph.  A real toughie, huh?)

How did you get together with Source Point Press?

I’ve known the people at Source Point Press for years, and when Ken and I had the first four issues completed, his agent was shopping the project around.  Source Point Press approached me to see if we could work something out, and it was an excellent fit between their brand and what we’re doing.  All creators should, I think, work on their network.  Keep meeting people.  Keep talking to people.  Be polite.  Be someone others want to work with.

Sometimes I hear people ask: “How do I break into comics?”  And I almost always answer: “Dang.  Just be one of the people others are not trying to keep out of comics.”  That sound flippant, but it’s also true.  Be professional, reliable, quick, and friendly.  Be the type of person you’d like to work with, whatever that means to you.  Greedy people don’t get far.  Ditto people who make excuses or spread negativity, etc.  Talk. Interact.  Put yourself out there!

Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about working with Ken Lamug.

Working with Ken Lamug is wonderful!  He gets where I’m coming from with the scripts and comes up with fantastic art.  There are rarely any hiccups in the communication and/or collaboration.  Everyone should go check out his children’s illustration work, too.  There is some tonal overlap with Monstrous, but it’s all still very different and wild and fun.

Fun fact: Ken Lamug lives in Las Vegas, and I live in Michigan.  We have talked extensively via Twitter messages, e-mails, and phone calls, but we have never met each other face to face.  I’m sure that we will eventually, but things are going so well now I’d worry about blowing it.

Earlier in the working relationship, he would send some process images and sketches, and I would send him outlines and notes.  Now, we mostly exchange finished products, as we really trust each other and trust ourselves.

Plus, I don’t know if I’ve said it extensively enough here, but Ken Lamug is an absolute animal.  He does it all: pencils, inks, colors, letters, covers, design work.  He’s 100% fantastic, and I’m lucky to work with him.

If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

I’d probably make fun of whatever outfit I was wearing ten years ago.

Seriously, I would tell myself not to get so attached to things that are doomed not to work out.  I know that sounds like good advice for everyone, but I get altogether too worked up about things that don’t turn out like I’d hoped, everything from jobs to creative projects to relationships.  With the creative stuff, at least, that is part of the path.  As a writer, I need to keep writing.  I have to write more stuff than will make it to the marketplace.  That’s just how the process works.

It’s a little heartbreaking at times, though.  “I really want this thing to get finished and into people’s hands!”  A high percentage of the time, for a variety of reasons, that scenario doesn’t work out.  So make another thing.  When I hear about creative people talking about working on one thing for years—decades, sometimes—I just feel sad.  Keep using your time to create different things, and eventually one of them will catch. Every new idea you can offer increases your odds.

Anything else I wish I knew ten years ago?  Appreciate your hair, younger Greg.  You’re going to lose most of it in the future.

Do you have any upcoming projects? Anything you’d like to promote? Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?

I do!  I’m excited that there is a second Wild Bullets on the way, more Monstrous, and another Holliston graphic novel.  I have some other projects, too, but they’re in the early stages.  Some movie stuff, some comics stuff.  I hope I’m pulling off an air of mystery here, as opposed to just an air of vagueness…

All my hobbies involve sitting.

Where’s the best place to find out more about Monstrous and the rest of your works?

People can check out my website: www.gregwrightcomicbooks.com

They can also find me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/gregwrightcomicbooks

And I have two Twitter accounts: @GregHenchman and @GregWrightBooks

Monstrous is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and all my comics can be purchased directly from Source Point Press: http://sourcepointpress.storenvy.com/products

For those who like prefer digital copies to physical copies, all my comics are available digitally through Comixology, Drive Thru Comics, and ComicsBlitz.

The website for Monstrous is www.monstrousworld.com

Thanks for taking the time to hear me out!  I’m grateful for this opportunity.

See you all in Frankenstein’s Europe, folks.  Let’s get MONSTROUS!

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Greg Wright has written several comic books: Monstrous, Wild Bullets, and Holliston: Friendship Is Tragic.

Greg earned a Ph.D. in American Literature and Film from Michigan State, and his award-winning fiction has appeared in a variety of journals. He has taught screenwriting, media studies, creative writing, and composition.

If he had a castle with a secret passage, he’d probably tell everybody and make it just a regular passage.

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I’d like to thank Greg Wright for taking the time to answer my questions!

 

 

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John McGuire

The Gilded Age Kickstarter is still going on. Check it out on Kickstarter here.

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.