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.

The Perfect Idea

Image by myshoun from Pixabay

I’m written in the past about how I’m a pack rat both in the physical world and in the digital one. The greatest thing about having a digital repository of all my ideas is that I can normally look to them for inspiration on the current things I’m working on. Or a nugget of an idea can linger out there for long enough that it actually becomes something worth pursuing in earnest.

This brings me to my comic projects. Over the years I feel like I’ve collected more ideas for things that never became anything. So why don’t these projects ever become real things?

Where is this story going?

Sometimes that happens because the initial idea of the comic is cool, but I don’t know where to go with it. I might have the barest of bones of an idea. Maybe I know the elevator pitch but then have absolutely no idea how to craft a story around it.

Project Partners

It is something you’re going to do with a partner, and they have other priorities. This one has happened more times than I can count. Whether it is another writer or it is an artist who I’m trying to find a project for… it just never seems to work out. The timing is off.

Divided Attention

The next shiny object gets me. I once heard a writer say that the most exciting idea is always the one you aren’t currently working on. As a writer, I have a ton of possible stories to write about. Which means when I’m in the process of crafting a script, suddenly I have three other ideas who all want their time to shine.

The story is too big.

One of the things that is a ton of fun is world building. Outlining the epic storyline that is going to leave potential readers going “wow”. You can’t do it justice with only 4… 6… 10 issues… no, we need a 60 issue opus where we really explore the world and the characters and and and…

Money

For many years, especially before Kickstarter and Crowdfunding became an avenue to help mitigate the costs, money was the singular reason why I didn’t do a comic book. When you have to pay the artists and the colorists and the letterers and someone to format things… that digital page you spent hours writing and editing actually shows up as a tangible cost to it.

Paralyzation

Whatever project I choose is going to be the next year, two years, three years of my life potentially. If I get to the point where I’m doing more than 2 Kickstarters a year, then that can shrink the timeline, but otherwise it is going to be “the thing” for me for a little while. How in the world do you chose which idea to go with?

***

We’re in the process of getting In Our Dreams Awake #2 off to the printers and finalizing both Issue #3 and #4. My hope is to have an Issue #3 Kickstarter in the Fall and then Issue #4 in the Spring of 2025, which means I need to get the next thing off the ground… like now. Yesterday would be even better.

At this point I have 3 potential (well, actually 4) projects to consider bringing to life.

Project 1 – A continuation of The Gilded Age. Effectively issues 5-8 would be a complete story featuring some of the characters from the first set of issues. In addition, I have two other ideas for Gilded Age comics in my head. One would be a one-shot, and the other would be an oversized issue (if I could ever crack the story, I think it could be amazing). The positives for this one are big as it was the very first comic I Kickstarted, which means I have some amount of backers who would be interested. The bad is it has been like 6 years since the trade was done, so it isn’t the most fresh idea.

Project 2 – A post-apocalyptic edge of space story that I developed with a co-writer. This is one that could make a ton of sense to do because I could share the writing duties. Plus the co-writer has a decent prescence on social media, so that could be a huge help in making sure we hit any funding goals we set. The negative is that the cost would likely be 100% on me (which isn’t a deal breaker at all).

Project 3 – I have an idea for something more all-ages that I’ve been mulling over for years. However, until recently I’ve not had enough of a story to actually get anything down in the computer other than the big idea. But now I’ve been developing the outlines and script for issue 1. The downside here is that it is a brand new project, so the only thing I have to trade on is my name and my past work.

Project 4 – One of those lingering ideas popped into my head about a month ago, and I mentioned it to Egg Embry. And before I knew it, I had an outline for 4 issues and helf a script for the last issue in the series. This is definitely more long term as to whether it happens, but it wouldn’t have been on my radar at all 2 months ago.

***

So I’m sitting here, at a crossroads, trying to figure out the next move. Which story needs to be told next? I’m still not quite sure, but you’ll be the first to know when I figure it out.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Unread Pile – Moon Knight

I first encountered Moon Knight during the very earliest days of my comic collecting. At the time one of my favorite comics was West Coast Avengers, and while I read both the regular Avengers title, something about the West Coast lineup spoke to me. About 3 or 4 issues into my collecting, Moon Knight made an appearance in the comic and shortly thereafter joined the team.

Weirdly, I didn’t immediately think of him as a Batman rip-off, even if in some instances that’s what writers lean into. Instead I saw someone who wasn’t entirely in control of his own senses. Someone who spoke directly to his patron god: Khonshu. And someone who didn’t shy away from the difficult choices.

Ever since, I’ve collected pretty much any Moon Knight series and they run the gambit of good, bad, and everything between. At least that was the case before I reached the latest run.

***

Moon Knight (Volume 9 – 2021)

Writer – Jed Mackay

Penciller – Alessandro Cappuccio

***

This run of Moon Knight feels like it was written by someone who has read every issue of comics which Moon Knight appeared. It feels like the creators even read those same West Coast Avengers issues which left such a strong mark on my own interests and comic collection. It honors those things which have come before, but then moves things forward in a very organic way.

Moon Knight is a Priest of Khonshu, which means the night is his to patrol. Those who move about at night are under his protection. So what happens when the things which go bump in the night (Vampires) begin to make a move on New York City? What happens to those people who are merely innocents, that now have found themselves transformed?

Marc Spector is not the first man to take them mantle of Moon Knight. When one has died their last death, another one is chosen by the Moon God. And yet, while Marc is the Fist of Khonshu, a god may have two Fists. If this run only introduced Hunter’s Moon into the lore, that would have made this run worth it. Someone who understands the connection with the gods, who doesn’t understand all of Marc’s tactics, but calls him brother all the same.

He has multiple personalities… and the comic embraces this idea. For much of the 90s comic Marc Spector: Moon Knight, the idea that there were other voices in his head was downplayed. Not here… and it is an asset for the character and his story.

Tigra shows up. And is given a large role in the overall storyline. It always bothered me that after they went their seperate ways in West Coast Avengers, I don’t know that they really crossed paths again (at least in any substantial way). And I have to think it is that whole – he’s supposed to be grim and gritty and Tigra is a Superhero. Here, in this run, those things can coexist.

He fights a haunted house… and then uses it as his base of operations. I’ve read somewhere that when a new writer comes onto a title, they should always leave the toy chest fuller than when they arrived. This is it in spades.

Zodiac – Moon Knight has had plenty of villains over the years. The Midnight Man. Black Specter. Randall Spector. Werewolf by Night. Bushman. And aside from the Bushman, I don’t think he’s really had that archnemesis until now. Zodiac is everything Moon Knight needs when it comes to a villain. Someone who can challenge him to become even more brutal. Someone who is thinking steps ahead of him. I never read the miniseries which first introduced Zodiac, but this comic feels like a perfect fit.

8 Ball – Nothing like taking a Z-List character and turning him into a sympathetic character. Who would have ever thought?

The echoes of the past… older villains, characters who might not have been used in decades pop up throughout the run. It never feels forced. More than anything, it makes this little corner of the Marvel Universe feel that much more alive. The connections between everything only help this process.

From the very first issue until the last in this run, it hit every beat, hit every high mark, and immediately took its place at the top of my Moon Knight reads.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost – Push Through The Noise

Head beating itself against the desk.

The words fail to make the leap from fingers to screen.

Blank screen mocks you with it’s flashing cursor.

Still, there is nothing, absolutely nothing to be done about it.

Another glance at the clock shows me only that time continues to tick by, faster and slower at the same time.

I’m tired.

I don’t want to do this tonight.

Why didn’t I start earlier?

I have to go to work tomorrow.

Gotta get something done.

Just need one idea…

Something…

Anything…

Damnit!

Opens one of the notebooks filled with various bits and pieces of ideas or characters or settings or…

None of those will work.

I’m wasting all this time.

Maybe try reading what I’ve already written?

Why is this so hard?

Other people make this look so easy. Ideas flow out and magically appear. None of them have this problem.

So why do I have the problem?

You’ve been here before and managed to find a way around the problem.

Work the problem.

Is it a character issue?

A subject issue.

Ok. So what needs to happen before the words start working for me instead of against me?

Don’t touch that mouse!

No reason to even bother clicking away.

Another ten minutes destroyed by inaction.

***

This is my brain on writer’s block. I know some people will tell you it doesn’t exist. I’ve heard people talk about it like it is a completely foreign concept to them. There are those who really think they’ve got the whole thing figured out.

I don’t buy it. Not one bit.

There have to be those times when other people, other writers just don’t know what it is they are going to write. And not in the good way, where you are on a journey of discovery within your work. No, I’m talking about that blank page, when it locks onto your soul letting you know that you have nothing else you could possibly bring to the table. That if you’re tired, then just do it tomorrow. No one needs to know that you’re having issues. No one needs to know that the words won’t come.

I mean it’s not like you forget how to write, but there has to be something which could streamline the process a little bit. Some magically easy button I can push to just get the initial push.

Something to help me remember how to do it.

***

Another ten minutes lost.

Bedtime was an hour ago.

And still, this stupid monitor glows with a white smile.

Just have to write something, no matter how small. No matter if there are tons of actual good ideas. Something needs to appear on paper.

No more excuses.

Push through the noise.

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Unread Pile – A Cautionary Tale

 

Like this, but with comics

It’s gotten a bit out of hand, and I’m not sure how it made it this way.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. I have a decent idea of how it started. I’m not talking about where the comic collection started. I know that very well (and have written about it within my Comic Book Challenge series long ago). I was missing a couple of issues here or there of one of my current pull box reads. Maybe it was an issue of The Flash, maybe it was Avengers, or it could have been Knights of the Dinner Table. But there was a random hole in the comic collection. Which meant I couldn’t push on and skip that issue, no, I had to track it down. But that’s the thing, in this evironment of today’s comics, finding a comic store which not only has some back issues, but very recent back issues (I’m talking about the ones that may have just moved from the front facing shelves to the back issue bins) are much more of a problem.

Regardless, until I found that Flash issue, I couldn’t read the pile I had. Or that Avengers pile. Or that other random pile.

The bulk of my comic books live upstairs in a pair of closets. At last count I had over 11,000 comic books within around 27 long boxes and an assortment of short boxes. The problem with that area is that once they make it to the closet, they kind of disappear. It just becomes very difficult given the space to really do much with them. I have a basic system where I’ve put notes on the boxes listing out what is in each, but sometimes those get loose as well.

Organized… or something

No matter what, if I put any of those series I haven’t read through yet, I will never see them again. They will be lost to the closet!

Instead, I would keep the latest stuff downstairs beside the bed. That way they would easily be there to read through, and then as I made my way through them, they could go upstairs. Except…

Soon enough, it became some kind of monster. I had 5 short boxes that needed to be organized. Needed to be looked through. Because, I had finds from last year’s Dragon Con. I had finds from this year’s Heroes Con. Heck, I had some random issues from Free Comic Book Day which needed to be accounted for.

This last weekend, I went through those 5 short boxes (and quickly realized it needed to be 6 short boxes with all the loose extra stuff sitting on my desk). There were three main piles to start (Marvel, DC, Indy) and then I began to further sort them. But there is something else which happens when you start organizing your comic books. No matter how much you want to deny that it’s going to happen, you end up opening up one of the comics and giving it a read. And then, since the next issue is literally right there… might as well read it. And then I looked up and realized I’d caught up on one of the series in its entirely. I was now back to eagerly awaiting the next issue to drop!

All this made me really think about the original plan, and the fact that I love reading comics. Therefore, I’m going to go through the (6) short boxes and work my way through the last few years of comics that somehow ended up in The Unread Pile. And then I’ll likely write about those series so that everyone else can relive things they read 2, 3, or even 50 years ago (some of the recent purchases go back to the late 70s).

It’ll be a win/win. Content for the blog. Actually reading comics I’ve bought. And my wife will be happier without the short boxes downstairs in the quantities they currently are.

OK, win/win/win.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Movie Review – The Honeymoon Phase

My wife makes fun of me, but one of my favorite things is to scroll through VUDU (now Fandango At Home) looking through the weekly deals. I’m not trying to spend tons of money and most of the time I don’t bother with much of anything. However, sometimes they’ll do a Horror movie spotlight and suddenly there are a bunch of new to me movies to investigate. So one night after finding a couple of interesting trailers, I went on the deeper dive on the computer and realized that a few of them were made by the same company (Dark Sky Films). Hmm… well maybe I should give one of them a shot.

***

What makes married couples fall out of the so-called Honeymoon Phase? That’s the set-up for the experiment are going in for. They do it for one month and are paid $50,000. So even though there is a little trepidation, they agree, and wake up together in a house in the middle of nowhere. There anything they want appears to be provided (food, alcohol, etc.). And things proceed fairly normal for the first week or so.

***

What makes us trust someone? What makes us know that the person we love has only our best interests at heart? What would it take for that trust to become broken?

The movie is at its best when those are the questions we are asking as we watch the film. We follow Eve as she begins to have doubts about her husband. One of those things where things are just a little off through how he acts. It’s nothing big enough to be more than a nagging feeling, but… he doesn’t kiss her the way he normally does.

The movie really leans into this idea of whether or not Eve is having some kind of mental break (brought on due to taking LSD brownies 10 days into the experiment) or if she’s right and something is really wrong.

***

Here’s the thing, that works really well when the movie focuses on that. And there are a bunch of things where as the viewer you kind of wonder which way they are eventually going to lean into, because either option (she’s crazy or he’s wrong) can work within the story… until (and spoilers to follow)…

She gets pregnant and suddenly is like 6 months pregnant. And only 20 days have passed.

She freaks out (understandibily so) and yet, her husband (Tom) embraces this all as a good thing.

I’m sorry, what? Something super strange is going on and Tom wants to treat this like it is just a normal thing (and the observers of the experiment don’t make any mention of it).

It’s a strange choice, because at that point you know Tom is wrong 100%. She knows it 100%. And I think the movie suffers for this. And the sad thing is they didn’t need to do the weird pregancy angle the way they did. It could have been a “normal” pregnancy where suddenly she’s wondering if this baby inside her is Wrong Tom or her husband’s from before the experiment. Suddenly she has even more doubts about her own sanity. What if the baby is Her Tom’s kid? What if she really is going crazy?

***

As the movie moves to its conclusion, we get some answers as to why this experiment exists, who Wrong Tom actually is, and Eve gets to do a decent Final Girl impression.

Overall, I liked the performances. I liked the premise, and I dug the questioning of Eve throughout the early portions of the experiment, but some of the stranger decisions are a little confusing (as to why that choice was made) which made it feel more like a “let’s do this weird thing” as opposed to maybe telling a slightly smaller story about two people in love.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost – They Can’t All Be Bad, Can They?

Sometimes this blog of mine needs to become something of a confession. I feel like I live a life in the shadows where only the late night glow of the computer can sustain me. During the day I am one person, making decisions in my job, in my life, in my very conversations, and then there is the person that only a few people know.

He’s the one I want to talk about right now.

You see, this person has a problem. Actually that’s not entirely accurate. If you asked him he might not even acknowledge the problem as he sits there on the couch watching TV. We live at a time where almost every classic you’d ever wish to watch is available within seconds through some streaming service or by actually renting the item in question. Instant access.

And yet there he is, this version of me who I don’t want to claim, he’s watching the worst movies… over and over and over again.

It has to be a sickness. There is no reason that every time he sees movie X on the TV that he should watch it again. The only thing I can figure out is that he’s comforted by them in a way that others would not… could not ever understand. So in an effort to out this problem to the world, these are my favorite “Bad” movies. These are movies that without fail I find myself watching at 11 PM (who am I kidding, pretty much whenever they actually come on). And I understand that they aren’t good movies… I really do. I just can’t stop myself.

Note that this list does not include things that I actually feel are genius in some way – Office Space, Happy Gilmore, Tommy Boy, etc. nor does this list include romantic comedies that I would say are good – While You Were Sleeping. And it definitely does not include Side Out (the GREATEST VOLLEYBALL MOVIE OF ALL TIME – it is never on tv… ever).

No, these are just the worst of the worst… or maybe just the best of the best.

red-dawn-movie-poster-1984-1020191147

Red Dawn – This is the original. I have not seen the remake, and I’m pretty sure it would only degrade the original in my head, so what would be the point.

Why do I love this movie? Well for starters it has C Thomas Howell in it, so it has that going for it. Seriously I think that this was one of those movies that capitalized on that inate fear of many in the 80s… this could actually happen. But the real reason is probably that it was teenagers who were fighting off the Cuban/Soviets. That sense of trying to think, even for a moment, that if the shit went down, maybe you could make a little bit of a difference. That appealed to the 12-18 year old me (and still appeals to the 38 year old me).

And who didn’t want to shout WOLVERINES? Put your hand down, you’re lying. We all wanted to do that.

Point Break

 

Point Break – I think this movie is amazing, if only for the most stilted line in movie history:

“You crossed the line. People trusted you and they died. You gotta go down.”

Considering everything that’s occurred between them, Keanu couldn’t muster a little more effort in delivering that line (or maybe they could have gone with another line).

But really, I love every moment of this movie. From the idea that the Ex-Presidents are surfers, to the fact that the FBI is paying Johnny Utah to go undercover, to the very real possibility that having a top notch college quarterback be “undercover” in anything would be a terrible idea (at least it seems like a terrible idea).

The-Replacements.2

The Replacements – Hey, Keanu makes the list twice. I love sports movies. Hoosiers is one of my all-time favorite movies, The Natural is amazing, and Bull Durham makes me wonder exactly how it is on those minor league teams. I love the idea that the majority of the time the guys we are watching are going to succeed and yet I still am engrossed in the movie.

And then you take these misfits, these cast-offs, and watch them come together under a washed up QB and a coach that was out of the league. I mean, these are the storylines they focus on every week on ESPN and here it is in a film. Make those over-paid divas the bad guys and let’s mix it up with those guys who are just happy to be there on the field.

Those are the guys I want to watch.

A-Knights-Tale-2001-movie-poster

A Knight’s Tale – I have no defense for this one. It is blasphemus to have Rock and Roll music as the soundtrack to a medieval adventure – though the dancing to Bowie’s Golden Years is good. It is terrible to have Geoffrey Chaucer in this film and make it seem like he wrote some of his stories based on Sir Ulrich Von Lichenstein’s adventures – though I like how they make him a gambling addict. There is so much bad that if I just talked to you about the movie in person, you’d wonder if I was preparing a Mystery Science Theater style mocking of it.

I still watch this one EVERY TIME it is on. I like the stuff with the Black Prince throughout the movie and then when Will is knighted. I like that this guy is trying to figure out what being a knight is all about, when he just needs to be himself.

I know, I know… very sappy. I can’t help it.

Bedazzled

Beddazled – This is the Brendan Fraser one, not the original one, which I feel like is much more sinister in its approach. I had forgotten about this movie until this past weekend when it came on and suddenly found myself watching it. This is one that actually has inspired me in my very first attempt at trying to write a novel. Now, not much more than the basic outline of a few chapters took place, but I love the idea of portraying the Devil as someone who is not just the boogeyman in our minds, but as someone who could actually have depth and caring.

But I also think that the Devil would try to screw over someone making wishes to the best of their ability. You’d need to be a top of the line lawyer in order to actually be able to make a wish and not have it backfire on you. And I’m guessing that the person/being who has been around since the beginning of time might still have more experience.

roadhouse-poster-mt

Roadhouse – “Pain don’t hurt”

“I want you to be nice until it’s time not to be nice.”

“A polar bear fell on me.”

Patrick Swayze at his most Zen-like (well maybe 2nd most to Point Break). Let’s go through the checklist? Bouncer who is legendary? Check. Falls in love with the local doctor who patches him up? Check. Evil rich guy who controls the town? Check. To the death fight on the shore of some creek/river with the number 1 henchman? Check. Everyone getting a one-liner? Check.

If that’s not enough for you, then I don’t know what you want.

So that’s my demons. My skeletons in the closet. Exposed for all to see. I don’t claim that I will stop myself from watching them the next time they are on. I don’t claim that I won’t love them just as much. I mean, why deny ourselves the things we love…

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Tales from the Cubicle – Part 9

Salsa Shark

I don’t like onions. Hate them, in fact. However, the rest of the world doesn’t understand this, so there are many, many, many opportunities to eat them if you’d like at various resturants. Salsa being a big one. In the Atlanta area, you can’t throw a stick without hitting a Mexican resturant, which means I’m going to have a big bowl of chips sitting in front of me. Now, while others use those chips to scoop up as much of the salsa as they possibly can, I take a slightly different tactic.

I dip the chip in, allowing it to get a little damp, and then make sure to effectively wipe any of the bad stuff on the side of the bowl.

I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. Which also means when I first started working, I would do the same thing in front of my co-workers.

Now, I’m sure people thought this was odd, but they also realized they had more of the “good” stuff for themselves. Or at least that’s what I thought.

Flash forward nearly twenty years at the company Christmas party. One of our remote employees was walking around, introducing her husband to people when suddenly he immediately recognizes me. It takes me half a second and I recognize him from that first job, having worked with him for maybe a year or so. Truly, it is a small world.

And then he says to his wife, “John always dipped his chips in the salsa just barely enough to get some juice on them and that was it.” Twenty years later and he still remembered the random way I eat chips. Talk about making an impression on someone.

***

You Knew What You Were Getting Into

As an engineer, there are long periods of work where you need to get really focused and avoid any distractions you can. There are tasks which can be very repetetive, so over the years I started bringing headphones to work to listen to music and later podcasts. I was certainly not the first at this particular company to do it. I personally found that the focus allowed me to be much faster and efficient with those tasks. A win-win.

However, flash back to a moment where during one of our staffing meetings it was brought up that the budgets on some of the projects were getting stretched thin. An one of the bosses made a point about how headphones and listening to music was likely at the cause of this issue. That because we (and I mean multiple people) were doing it, we were completing tasks slower than we would have if we weren’t covering our ears up.

Not what I was doing at the office.

Now, I’m normally not a person who seeks out confrontation, but this infuriated me. So I asked whether it was possible that the projects were running low on money because they hadn’t originally had enough money in the contract. His response was, “There are tasks that you have to do which are not always fun. But they have to be done without distractions. And hey, you chose your profession… you knew what you were getting into.”

Which, to this day, I still don’t understand what the hell that meant.

We still continued to have our headphones. Maybe the other project managers explained to him how dumb his thinking was (or at least how poor his people managing skills appeared to be).

***

You Don’t Have To Turn On The Red Light

Back in the days of being a younger engineer and living the true cubicle life, your immediate neighbors were the ones you were likely to have the most conversations with. My three closest neighbors would sometimes just have random chats about life, music, whatever you could think of… while sitting at our desks and doing our work. The cubicle walls doing little to damper our talks.

And it is during these times when you really get to the root of things. About how much you don’t know about someone or how much they may not know.

So it was that we all began talking about music. Lloyd was more into hip-hop and was attempting to educate me on those artists. Somehow we got to Puff Daddy, and I said “well, I’m a little indifferent to him after he took the Police song.”

Lloyd was silent for a beat, and then said “Who are the Police?”

After which I was silent for more than a beat. “Every breath you take… that’s the Police. Roxanne? Message in a Bottle? King of Pain? Everything She Does Is Magic?”

“Nope. Nope. Nope. I don’t think I know them.”

My world cracked completely open.

My other neighbor at least tried to save me. “Lloyd, don’t be stupid. You know who the Police are. You’ve heard of Sting.”

And at that point, it clicked into place for him. “Oh, yeah…”

As the years have gone by, I understand more that everyone has their own tastes and blind spots. But in that moment, I couldn’t have imagined not even having heard of the Police.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Movie Review – Furiosa

A lot of time when a sequel or prequel comes out, I try to go back and watch the previous movies. Sometimes I don’t get that opportunity. However, with Furiosa I wanted my wife to go see it as well (she’s a fan of girls kicking ass), which meant she needed to watch Mad Max Fury Road first. So we both went into the movie this evening with Fury Road only a couple of days old.

First… I really dug the movie (Courtney liked it a lot as well).

Chris Hemsworth is a worthy addition to the villains of this world. You could tell that he was having a ton of fun just playing nearly every moment as big as possible. Anya Taylor-Joy has very large shoes to fill in the titular character’s role, and she does a great job in making the character hers.

As to the story… while it is one overarching story of Furiosa’s life, Miller does an interesting thing where he breaks up these tales into segments, with each having their own title. I thought that was a cool way to tell these little tales that still allow for the time jumps we need for Furiosa to grow up, but I also realized that these Mad Max stories could happen in almost any order (prior to this movie), and as such they are little stories you might tell about the heroes and villains in mythology. Each of the chapters in this movie are exactly that, chapters of a larger tapestry within this world.

With the box office results so far, it would be fair to say that it hasn’t performed as the studios would have liked it to perform. And while I don’t have the answers to all the questions pertaining to why people aren’t going to the movies like they used to (although I do have plenty of theories that range from the cost of movies to make down to the cost of seeing a movie and a bunch of other things in between), I do have a couple of thoughts about why this particular movie might have stumbled out of the gate.

Both Fury Road and Furiosa ask something of its audience that I’m unsure how it works across the broader spectrum. They ask you to buy into a post apocolyptic world that is gonzo. The characters are over the top, larger than life, in a world where the lives of the extra characters are beyond meaningless. And by that, I mean those people are sacrificial lambs in the entire sense of the word. I’ve heard that the best science fiction asks you to believe one thing, but then grounds the rest within the rules you would expect. Mad Max says this is a dead world run by insane men… and oh, yeah, there’s going to be over the top, in your face action to the point you are going to question how anyone would live for an hour in this world.

But that’s the charm of these movies as well. I think it is why Fury Road did as well as it did. It got the good word of mouth to help slowly build to a success. Whether Furiosa does the same, it’s hard to say, but given Hollywood’s penchant for taking these “duds” and immediately trying to go to streaming, we may never know the real answer.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The One Where I Don’t Get Sea Sick On My Very First Cruise

Image by Gianluca from Pixabay

When I was about 14 years old my family went to Destin, Florida for a week. Well, technically we did that pretty much every year. When we first started going there in the early 90s there were only a handful of places to stay, even fewer things to do (you generally had to go across the bridge to Fort Walton), and that was probably for the best for my parents and their three kids. However, during this particular year, my grandmother had come to stay with us as well.

Now Nanny loved to fish. I honestly think had she lived on the coast she would have done it from sun up to sun down. So we were definitely going to do some fishing activity while we were down there, and so my parents decided to book us all on a 4 hour deep sea fishing excursion.

Side note – I get motion sick in cars. It’s not nausea though. Instead, I get bad headaches. Weirdly, I don’t get them if I’m driving, and I don’t get them if I’m in the passenger seat. Otherwise, life becomes a bit of pain. Which made family trips all sorts of fun as I couldn’t read to pass the time. At best I could listen to music with headphones on or just try to zone out.

I load up on the boat. This thing likely could hold maybe 30 people. Everyone would have a spot on the rail where they could fish until their hearts desire was full. And there I was, right beside Nanny, ready for the boat to get to the fishing spot and catch all sorts of things.

Image by gwiseman from Pixabay

The trip out there was probably 15 minutes and wasn’t too bad. Though, I felt the very beginnings of a headache, that would likely go away once the boat stopped.

Once the boat stopped moving.

On a moving ocean…

Oh, crap, the boat is never going to stop rocking, is it?

What occurred next I can only (luckily) remember through a haze of blinding pain as I spent the next 4ish hours in the middle of the boat on a cot, writhing and moaning. Because, the only thing that might make things worse would be if there was a storm out at sea. You know, where the boat gets tossed around a little bit (nothing scary, but more than I could possibly deal with).

When we finally reached land, I may have kissed the ground. And every year after, my parents would make the joke about booking another deep sea fishing excursion.

***

Image by Took A Snap from Pixabay

Now, I told you that story, so that I could tell you this story…

My wife and I were married back in 2002, and for our Honeymoon we were gifted a Mediterrean Cruise. We’d fly into Barcelona the morning of departure, and then it would be a week visiting various ports throughout France, Italy, and Malta. I was really looking forward to the opportunity, but my previous “boat” experience weighed on my mind. So I went and got the motion sick patch from a doctor. If you are unfamiliar, you stick it right behind your ear, and it is supposed to help with motion sickness. In addition, my dad mention a bracelet that he’d worn on a cruise which was based on pressure points along your wrist which apparently helped with the symptoms. Finally, I had old faithful, Dramamine to get me through any of the worst of it.

The flight to Barcelona was overnight, and since it was far and away the longest flight I’d ever been on, I made sure to take my Dramamine when I got on the place so that I could sleep. But, sleep on a plane is a sporatic thing for me, so I’m not sure how much rest I actually got.

Once we landed in Spain, it was early morning, and we hurried to the port in order to begin boarding. Somewhere along the way I slipped on the bracelet and put my patch on.

Getting onto the boat, the previous day’s trip, jet lag, and perhaps something else had completely wiped me out. I could barely function when we had to go to the muster stations, and by 3 or 4 when we were allowed to go back to our rooms, I pleaded with my new bride to let me sleep.

“Just give me today, and I’ll be good the rest of the week. I don’t know why I’m so tired, but I can’t…”

Luckily, she saw the poor, pitiful state I found myself in, and took pity… even though it meant missing some of the first evening activities (the big one being the first dinner). I think I finally woke up around 9ish, and when we started trying to figure out why I was so wiped and she wasn’t… we realized:

Dramamine

The Patch

The Bracelet

I’d over drugged myself!

I took the bracelet off. I didn’t take anymore Dramamine. I only used the patch. And the good news was that not only did I not need to sleep the trip away, I didn’t get sea sick!

***

I’m not sure if there is a less subtle message in all of this. Mostly, I felt like a dumbass, but I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the trip… I nearly messed up the trip in a different way. Which feels like a very “me” thing to do.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Soundgarden

I didn’t know what to do with Soundgarden at first. Of the Big 4 Grunge Bands from Seattle I was squarely in the Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains side of things. It’s not that I disliked Soundgarden by any means, but something held me back from truly embracing them as one of “My Bands”.

Weirdly it might have been Chris Cornell’s voice which gave me the most pause. It’s an extremely strange thing to admit considering he might have one of the best pure Rock voices from anyone of his era (or any era really). But there it was. While my other friends raved about Badmotorfinger, I went on listening to other things.

But apparently Chris Cornell and Soundgraden weren’t going to let me off the hook so easily. He first got me with the Singles Movie Soundtrack. Seasons, his solo contribution made me refocus a bit more on his vocal talent. And it hammered me as one of the real standout tracks from the album. Just this little beauty of a piece…

Next it was the Temple of the Dog record… through my love of Pearl Jam, he’d found another way to worm into my head with Hunger Strike. After I listened to the full piece, it was inevitable. Somewhere in there I added Badmotorfinger into the rotation in my car. It was this perfect level of heavy and rock, and whatever idiocy I’d had with Cornell’s voice was long since forgotten.

And then Superunknown came out… I heard Fell on Black Days, and it was completely over from there. How we managed to snag tickets to see them at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, I’ll never know for sure, but I am grateful for it. This band should have been selling out the arenas at that point. Yet, there we were in a pretty cozy venue where we could absorb ever ounce of energy from the band.

Down on the Upside… I’m going to say something odd, but I may actually like that album better than the others. I’m not saying it is a better record than Superunknown (or Badmotorfinger), but I find myself coming back to it again and again over the years. It may be that Black Hole Sun was overplayed on the radio where it went from this amazing track to something I didn’t really need to hear again. Down on the Upside never got the love of their previous albums, so maybe that was what I was embracing as well. With any band, I think we all want to be able to find the thing that we like that no one else does (or we like it more than they do). Regardless, in some ways I feel like this is the version of Soundgarden I always needed them to be. No matter what, I can pop that one in and never seem to get tired of it.

Then they broke up… just as it felt I had fully embraced them. Trying to cast my mind back to that time to remember how I felt about that… I think I was more annoyed than anything else. At the same time, I understood I’d only broken the surface with them, so even if there was nothing new to come, I still had older stuff to listen and learn. And when Matt Cameron joined Pearl Jam, that seemed like, well, if they were finally going to stop being the modern day Spinal Tap when it came to drummers, then at least some good came from it.

But again, Cornell wasn’t through with me. He decided merging with members of Rage Against the Machine to form Audioslave might just get my attention. The part of me who held out hope for a Soundgarden reunion was sated by this new band…

And then they broke up.

And got back together.

And broke up.

Maybe it didn’t happen quite that way, but it felt that way. Audioslave feels like a band that I really liked, but somehow managed to never actually get to see in person.

Then Cornell went on to do solo stuff, and I’d check in on him periodically. His version of One is so crazy that I’m not sure how you can sing the lyrics to Metallica’s version while playing the guitar for U2’s version. That’s a huge step up from patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time.

Either way, that should have been it. Instead, Soundgarden miraclously reformed, put out a new record, and toured.

It was weird again. I think it caught me completely off-guard. Mentally I was in a good place with Soundgarden’s legacy, but maybe that was because I had come to them a little later than everyone else. For some reason I didn’t immediately go out and get King Animal. I’m not sure why exactly. Maybe I was worried about them trying to ape their own sound. Maybe I was thinking I was good with where they left off. It seems like long breaks from reforming bands don’t always go the way you might like.

And then they announced a tour and the Atlanta date was going to be at the Fox Theater again.  I wrote a little about the experience here.

Little did I know that only a few weeks later, Chris Cornell would be dead.

***

The first time I dealt with a band I liked having an unexpected death, it was Nirvana. Later on Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots and Linkin Park were added to that (sadly) growing list. Sometimes the reaction was pure surprise. Other’s were less surprise and more a general sadness for what seemed like was inevitable due to their issues with drug abuse. I don’t mean to say it in such a matter of fact way… it is all very sad, but I never know how to react to those moments.

With Chris Cornell, more than anything, I think about what the world lost. The art that he was still making. Whether it was with a band or on his own. The power of his voice in both music and in life. He was a part of the soundtrack of my own life. Milestones which pile up over the years as I listened to his words over hundreds and thousands of listens. It’s the amazing power of music that is able to move us in ways we might never thought possible. Chris Cornell did that with everything I heard. And seven years after his death, I still wonder about a world with him still in it.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Two Days Left for the In Our Dreams Awake Issue 2 Kickstarter!

Two Days Left for the In Our Dreams Awake Issue 2 Kickstarter!

Click here to back the comic!

***

Throughout this Kickstarter campaign I’ve written a few posts on In Our Dreams Awake, so this post will put them into a more comprehensive guide so that you don’t have to go stumbling through the Tessera archives in order to locate things.

 

Repost – Behind the Comic: In Our Dreams Awake

This post actually comes from the first issue’s Kickstarter, but it tells the origin story for the comic. Going back nearly two decades, the comic went from something we hoped would be our way into the comic industry to something collecting dust on a computer hard drive to finally a series.

Behind the Comic: – Anatomy of a Panel – In Our Dreams Awake #2

An idea which actually came from Egg Embry when I was struggling on how to post about The Gilded Age. This post takes you through the development of a panel from issue 2 of In Our Dreams Awake. Going from the concept, to an excerpt from the script, to the art itself (and the panel itself is the image from the banner at the top of this post).

Odd Synchronicity?

A little more of a stream of conciousness style post that focuses on little moments which lead to the comic coming to life.

What If?

A post about the core concept of In Our Dreams Awake… trying to find happiness in the life you have rather than always yearning for the path not taken.

The Reason Why – In Our Dreams Awake

Finally, the true reason I dragged In Our Dreams Awake back from the land of the dead.

Kickstart the Comic – In Our Dreams Awake #2: A Cyberpunk/Fantasy Adventure

I started doing a highlight post on Kickstarter some years ago on the blog, so it was only fitting to do one for my own comic (totally unbiased too… honest).

***

A quick reminder that In Our Dreams Awake #2 is available on Kickstarter for only two more days. Go and check it out here.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

John McGuire is at Galactic Quest (Buford, GA) for Free Comic Book Day May 4, 2024

The Kickstarter for In Our Dreams Awake #2 is still going! Find it here!

***

This coming weekend (Saturday), I will be at the Galactic Quest Comic Store in Buford, Georgia from 10 till 6(ish). It’s Free Comic Book Day, so there are all sorts of goodies whether you are a young fan or old fan (or anywhere in between). Check out the website for information on exactly what comics are being offered this year. Plus, there are bound to be superheroes showing up here and there in all their costumed glory.

So come and stop by and we can chat. I will have copies of In Our Dreams Awake, the Gilded Age trade and The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, and The Echo Effect novels.

Hope to see you there.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Reason Why – In Our Dreams Awake

Over the last couple of years, I decided to start writing about the published things I’ve managed to do – comic, short story, and novels. But I wanted to talk about the reason why they exist. Sometimes that’s talking about how the comic came about. Sometimes that’s a breakdown of where I was when it was conceived. Sometimes it’s a look inside my brain.

It occurs to me I never wrote a post for In Our Dreams Awake. Even if I have talked about the origins and it’s history.

The Reason Why In Our Dreams Awake exists is because I feel like I let people down when it didn’t exist.

***

Back when we were first emailing about this story, Egg was doing his best to try and make it in the world of comic books. He traveled around the southeast to various conventions setting up at an artist table with his then girlfriend. He would craft stories, make connections, and was putting in the legwork.

In the meantime, I was traveling down a different path with the folks over at Terminus Media, trying to get the anthologies finished. Trying to figure out how to create a comic book in the first place. And then later trying to figure out how to do more than the odd 8-10 page short.

Both of us were hoping for that little kick from a project or a connection or something which maybe would make it so this crazy idea of making comics might not be as crazy as you think.

In Our Dreams Awake should have been that thing. It should have been the catalyst for something bigger and better.

***

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

There’s this concept called Sunk Cost. Basically it means that a cost has already occurred and cannot be recovered. To me it means that you can’t let your future be determined by mistakes you’ve made in the past. You cannot remain beholden to something because it MIGHT work out for you. Instead, you need to forge ahead almost as if that original mistake didn’t happen.

When the original artist on Egg’s Cyberpunk story fell off the face of the earth, I should have scrounged up some funds and pushed the project ahead with a new artist.

But I didn’t do that.

I convinced myself that we had come too far to go backwards and start 24 pages completely over. I held onto some misguided hope that the time and effort invested in those pages were worth holding the whole project up.

The pages sat there on a computer for over a decade. All that hard work lain fallow.

Even when I finally circled back to the project and decided it NEEDED to get finished and put out into the world, I still couldn’t let go of that Sunk Cost. I still waited to hear back from the missing artist, engaging with him to try and see if we could salvage those pages. And when he ghosted me again, I waited… holding out hope for… what?

***

In Our Dreams Awake is a story about a man who isn’t sure which life he deserves. It’s the story about a man who is constantly wanting something more, something different than his current life can provide him.

But at it’s core it is about DREAMING BIG.

Egg and I wanted to make a comic book. We wanted to have readers and be able to tell this weird story. We wanted to be able to sell a few copies here and there, maybe break even on things when it was all said and done.

DREAMING BIG.

***

So maybe the biggest thing is the things I’ve learned along the way. Every mistake, every misstep got me a little closer to having printed copies of issue 1 in people’s hands. The mistakes that occurred between issue 1’s Kickstarter and issue 2’s current Kickstarter. And probably the mistakes that are likely to happen in the future.

Because doing this isn’t easy. The imposter syndrome is constantly hanging around in the back of my mind. Telling me that all the hard work isn’t worth it. You’ve invested so much, why keep going? It would be simplier if you just called it quits.

Maybe you shouldn’t DREAM SO BIG.

***

But that’s The Reason Why, isn’t it? If I don’t push this through, then the little voice of doubt will have been right. And I owe it to everyone who worked on this comic, whether it was 15+ years ago or it was earlier this year, to find a way to get it out into the world. Because if you can’t DREAM BIG about something so wonderful as comic books, then what can you DREAM BIG about?

***

A quick reminder that In Our Dreams Awake #2 is available on Kickstarter. Go and check it out here.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

What If?

 

The Kickstarter for In Our Dreams Awake #2 is still going! Find it here!

***

I’ve talked before about how the process of In Our Dreams Awake came about all those years ago. But just like every idea, it’s meaning and purpose have changed over the years. The way the project started, and what it has become are ever changing in ways I don’t know that I completely understand.

But it all stems from this central idea I have about the What If Game.

What is the What If Game? It’s the thing that every (or nearly every) human on the planet plays at various points in their lives. It is the time we take to daydream about decisions we’ve made in the past and how they’ve affected our current state of being.

It can be very big decisions:

What college will I go to (or do I even go to college)?

Should I ask this person out?

Should I maintain this friendship?

Should I take this job or another job?

And sometimes it can be very small decisions which could add up to something bigger.

Should I go talk to the professor about my grades?

Should I spend more time working on this project?

***

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

The thing is, this is a good exercise for a person to go through. We should constantly evaluate what we have done, and look into not only the results of those decisions, but anything which might have led us to the moment. In the same way you might analyze your victories and defeats to see what you can do better the next time… the very same thing for the various life decisions we must all make.

However, it is one thing to use this in a way to better yourself. To propel you forward in your life. Like everything, it can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you use the self-reflection.

I have a friend who for many years focused a bit too much on the What If Game. They were so busy looking backwards at the things they didn’t have that they didn’t see all the gifts and opportunities right in front of them. Fundamentally their world view became a bit skewed because the path not taken was the path they thought they should be down.

***

In many ways, In Our Dreams Awake, is that idea taken to the next level. It is about a burning for something extra in our lives. Jason Byron lives his two very different lives, but he isn’t happy in either one. In the Fantasy world, he is willing to risk everything he has for an artifact of an outlawed era. And for what purpose? Because he wants to have a life different than the one he currently enjoys. In the Future world, he loves his life so much that he is trying to doublecross everyone and escape off world.

Because he is simply not happy with where he is.

He looks to the past or he looks to the future, but neither sate his appetite for much of anything. For Jason, both of these paths may lead to destruction.

***

In Our Dreams Awake is a reminder, of sorts, to myself that I should take time to be in the present. To experience things as they are and not constanly look back or forward. Time already flies by. If I’m not enjoying the present… what’s the point of any of it?

***

A quick reminder to go and check out the comic book, In Our Dreams Awake #2 on Kickstarter!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Kickstart the Comic – I Took A Hammer to Hell #3

 

Just a friendly reminder that I have a Kickstarter going right now for In Our Dreams Awake #2. Back it now!

***

Sometimes there is a plotline/story idea that catches me just right. I’ll be minding my own business (definitely not planning on buying more comic books), and then they jump me out of nowhere. I And then I’m left only trying to figure out how quickly I can get the issue in my hands (or virtual hands as the case may be).

You had me at Deal with the Devil story.

***

Cover by Mulele Jarvis

I TOOK A HAMMER TO HELL #3 (#1 & #2 Available too)

Writer – Matt Garvey

Artist – Mulele Jarvis

Colorist – Fabi Marques

Alternate Cover – J Francis Totti

The Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, May 3, 2024

 

***

The Pitch:

With nothing more than a MASSIVE hammer duck taped to his hand, Jake is going to kill the devil! 

 

The Story:

Jake made deal with the devil for his eternal soul (original I know, but wait till you read it, this is VERY different) but instead of waiting till his time is up or trying to wiggle out of the agreement, he goes to Hell WILLINGLY! 

Why on Earth would someone do this?!… Well,  he has only one goal in mind. 

With nothing more than a MASSIVE hammer duck taped to his hand, Jake is going to kill the devil! 

This comic has action, it has gore…but it also has a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

So, F#@K REDEMPTION…EMBRACE VENGENCE!

You won’t be disappointed!

 

John’s Thoughts:

So many Deal with the Devil stories are about the person trying to find a loophole to the predicament they have put themselves in. You see, it is very simple: you do the crime and then your soul does the time. And don’t get me wrong, I love those types of stories. Heck, I have a book sitting on my shelf that pretty much focuses on just that.

I Took A Hammer To Hell makes an immediate detour, though. It takes that core premise and says “what if the guy made his choice and was willing to go to Hell when the time came”. And then tried to go kill the Devil.

At it’s core, that is an interesting idea. If you had 40 years to plan your assault on Hell, what would you do? Would you train like Neo in the Matrix? Downloading every bit of fighting skills you could. Would you study with all the religious figures you could find, hoping to find some weakness for the Devil?

Or maybe you’d just strap a hammer to your hand and say f$%# it.

A sampling of the Ultimate Digital Collection

The Rewards:

Matt Garvey does his best to keep his Reward costs low, so you can pick up the lastest digital issue for £2 ($3) or even a signed copy of issue 3 for £2 ($6). If you are just hearing about the comic and want to play catch up the digital will run £5 ($7) and phyrical versions of 1-3 are £12 ($16).

The best bang for your buck though is his Ultimate Digital Package (25 comics) which will get you caught up on I Took A Hammer To Hell and then continue to feed comics directly in your brain from many of Matt Garvey’s history for only £10 ($13).

(I actually did that level on his last Kickstarter: Gangsters Versus Nazis and am working my way through all the comic goodness.)

The Verdict:

I’ve already supported the two previous Kickstarters for Issue 1 and Issue 2, so I was ready to go when Issue 3’s campaign went live. If you can handle a story about Vengeance against the Devil (and who wouldn’t want to see that), you should back this comic so that they make 50 more issues!

Make sure you check out I Took A Hammer To Hell #3!

Covers by Mulele Jarvis

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

Kickstart the Comic – In Our Dreams Awake #2: A Cyberpunk/Fantasy Adventure

 

I’ve been writing about it for the better part of the last month, but we are finally LIVE on Kickstarter.

For those who may be unfamilar to Kickstarter, it is a platform that allows creators to take their work (in this case a comic book) and effectively get people to Back the project by saying they want to buy the product. We do this through a number of different reward levels… some of which will just be the new issue of In Our Dreams Awake #2, others will include both issues, digital options, as well as a chance to get signed novels or signed comics from Egg Embry and my back catalogue.

I hope you will join us for the campaign!

Click here to check it out!

Cover by Moonee Art

***

In Our Dreams Awake #2: A Cyberpunk/Fantasy Adventure

John McGuire – Writer/Creator

Egg Embry – Writer/Creator

Edgar Salazar – Artist

Rolands Kalninš – Artist, Colorist, Letterer

Genaro Olavarrieta – Inker

Javier Laparra – Inker

Alexander Lugo – Letterer

Moonee Art – Cover Artist

The Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, May 10, 2024.

***

The Pitch:

Jason Byron dreams of two lives. In one fantasy, magi reactionaries won, technology is banned, and Jason is a portrait painter hiding a contraband telescope. In the other world, he leads a cyberpunk gang amid a future of flooded cities and gilled aliens. When he closes his eyes in one world, he awakes in the next.

In Our Dreams Awake is the story of what happens when both dream worlds spin out of control. What happens when Jason no longer knows which world is the dream and which one is reality?

 

The Story:

IN THE FANTASY DREAM, a mage arrives at Jason Byron’s cottage with orders: Paint and document a downed flying machine before the Magi destroy the heretical technology. But, will the authorities let Jason live with this forbidden knowledge?

IN THE CYBERPUNK FUTURE DREAM, there’s a turf war in Drowned London, and Jason Byron must parley with the rival gang leaders. Can Jason make peace with the ‘A People, those mouthy cat aliens, and other gangs? Will this escalate and go to guns?

Who can say what dreams may come? Each Jason Byron works for an unseen love. Their guiding light is making their worlds better for those who hold their hearts. But can these dreampunks make their dreams come true?

Cyberpunk Variant – Art by Rolands Kalninš

John’s Thoughts:

In Our Dreams Awake began with an idea of having a man dream two different lives. Egg and I then took that to the comic book pages by having two seperate artists work on the two different dreams… the two different versions of one story that we were telling.

Issue 1 started things off with us learning a bit about Jason in both his Dreams. A painter who dreams of the unknown, doing his best to keep his contraband technology a secret. A Gang Boss who dreams of a way off a drowned world, doing his best to keep his forbidden love a secret.

Issue 2 escalates that to the next level. Secrets begin to unwind and the consequences will change both his worlds completely.

 

 

The Rewards:

The Kickstarter is for the second issue in what will be a four-issue series. Issue 2 is completely done and issues 3 and 4 are nearly complete.

We have the ptions of either the pdf ($5) or print version ($10) to send to you. We also have two different variant covers, one by Rolands Kalninš and the other by Egg Embry ($15). If you missed the first issue, never fear, we have options for both issue 1 & 2 ($8 for digital and $20 for print copies).

On the higher end, we have an opportunity to get drawn into the Cyberpunk world as a potential member of Jason’s Gang ($250). On the last Kickstarter, we had two people choose this option, so you’ll get to see them in this issue!

Finally, we have a number of add-ons ranging from Signed Copies of The Gilded Age Graphic nivel, to the Dreamr by the Apocolypse RPG Zine ($10-$20 each).

 

The Verdict:

In my completely and totally unbiased opinion, why are you still here reading this? Go and back this amazing project!

Back this if you like Dreams, Painters, Cats, Blowing Stuff Up, Aliens, a drowned London, magic, spaceships, and probably a dozen other cool things I’m forgetting about (oooh, crab people!).

Cyberpunk Variant – Art by Egg Embry

***

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to check out our project. A lot of passion went into telling this story, and we hope you will join us on the ride!

Check out the campaign here!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost: Behind the Comic: – Anatomy of a Panel – In Our Dreams Awake #1

 

Reminder that the Sign up page for In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter is still available. Be sure to sign up so you get notified when the project goes live!

I thought it might be a nice look back at the Anatomy of a Panel that I did for issue #1 (which will also be available during the upcoming Kickstarter).

***

Taken as a whole, a comic book represents the input of multiple people, multiple perspectives, and multiple skill sets before the final product is created. I’ve said many times in the past that one of the reasons I love the format is exactly for that reason. You get to feed off of the creatives who you work with. And what begins as one thing can become something completely different in execution (and making the overall comic that much better).

 

In Our Dreams Awake #1 – Page 7, Panels 7 & 8

The Team

Pencils – Edgar Salazar

Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta

Letters – Egg Embry

Writer – John McGuire

 

Concept

This pair of panels represent the end of a larger conversation within the issue. So much of this world that Jason Byron lives (dreams?) in is dictated by the mages who control everything. They ensure the chaos technology threatens to bring to the people can never exist again. They are Order.

And to go against that would mean going against everything they stand for… and that way lies madness.

So what do we see? We see that Edgar made a choice to not allow for any other colors within these two panels, but instead presented them as a pair of black and white moments. Two men, representing opposite beliefs about their world, are separated by the small table.

 

The Script

Page 7 Panel 7

Annoyed by Peter’s accusation, Jason pushes himself away from the table as if to get up.

Jason – I know all of this, Peter.

Peter – So ask me your question again.

 

Page 7 Panel 8

Same shot as Panel 7 (Jason is still sitting). Jason pauses. No words are needed.

 

Breakdown

As you can see from the script, I actually made a slight mistake between the two panels. In Panel 7, Jason is frustrated/annoyed and pushes himself away from the table. Edgar followed that showing him standing up. His body language is very tense. However, when we come to Panel 8, I note that “Jason is still sitting”…

No, John, he is not.

But Edgar went with it, and I think it actually works in this visual context because of the artist’s choice to make these mirror images of each other (in regards to the black and white). Where Jason was angry in the previous moment, he has sat back down. But instead of either of them furthering the conversation, the darkness envelops them instead pointing two the very ideas that they stand for can not exist alongside one another.

It even mocks the prompt from Peter in Panel 7: “So ask me your question again.” Panel 8 answers that prompt with silence. There is no need to push the issue any longer.

There are no shades of gray here in this place.

***

But perhaps there is another world for Jason to find peace? One he can visit while he dreams?

***

We are less than a week out from the launch of In Our Dreams Awake #2 on Kickstarter. Make sure to sign up to the Prelaunch Page here:

 

 

 

***

Repost – Behind the Artist – Interview with Rolands Kalnins

 

Reminder that the Sign up page for In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter is still available. Be sure to sign up so you get notified when the project goes live!

***

As we prepare for the In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter, I wanted to spotlight some of the people who helped bring these crazy ideas to life. This brings us to the artist and colorist on the Cyberpunk portion of the comic book: Rolands Kalniņš.

 

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

I’ve been working in the comics industry since I was 16 years old. And full-time since I was 20.

I’m 26 now.

 

What made you want to work on comics?

As a kid growing up in a post-Soviet country we got our entertainment(films, books, comics) much later than the rest of Europe. So I was lucky to grow up watching original TMNT, Star Wars, Spider-man and the X-men animated series, Power Rangers, Adam West Batman, Tim Burton’s Batman, Pokemon, Digimon…

These shows and films made me love these characters, and later on, I found out that many of them were based on comic books. Unfortunately, the only comics we could buy in Latvia were based on Disney and Hanna-Barbera characters aimed towards very young kids.

So I spent a lot of time drawing and creating my own comics. And when I was living in the UK at the age of 15, I had the chance to buy a lot of Marvel comics. And that moment when I first held a comic book in my hands was simply magical.

And that truly made me take the path to become an artist in the comic industry.

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

Personally, I have so many favourites/inspirations. Tho the most influential artists on me were/are: Dave Rapoza, Sean Gordon Murphy, Nick Dragotta, Junji Ito, and many others…

Variant Cyberpunk Cover by Rolands Kalniņš

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?

My daily routine used to be different. But for the last few years, I’m also a full-time Tattoo Artist at 2 private studios that I own. So my day-to-day is divided.

Most days I work from 8:30-11:00 on comics and tattoo designs. From 12:00-16:00, I work at my tattoo studio. 17:00-19:00 session at the gym (usually 4-5 times a week), and 19:00-24:00 more work on comics/family time.

 

How would you describe your creative process when it comes to making comics?

My process is quite simple. I read the script, gather references and inspirational images, and then I draw the pages, usually coloring them right after.

 

Making comics often requires collaboration with others. How do you foster relationships and approach the collaboration process?

Creative relationships for me are really different with each writer and or company. On some projects, I get complete creative freedom and just create the artwork.

On others, the process is more involved and created on a step-by-step basis. With a lot more back and forth. Visuals changing as the story evolves.

And these things are different on each project depending on my involvement as well. Am I just the artist, or am I the colorist?

In some cases, I design the whole book, spine and all.

For me, the most important thing is to do the best work I can for the client.

Jason Byron makes his way through the flooded streets. By Rolands Kalniņš

What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to making art? How do you overcome them?

Hmm, for hurdles in creating work…

The hardest thing for me is creating art in bulk for my personal projects. Client work comes much more easily for me because it has certain direction-script, or just a description of a piece.

 

How has your experience been with the indie comics community?

I love working on indie comics.

Of course, a dream of mine is to do a Batman book, but for the most part I’m most comfortable doing creative horror books in the indie scene.

The thing I like the most is the “out there” ideas and that there’s no limit to the craziness of the stories I could visualize…

 

What advice can you give for people who want to start making comics?

Best advice is to learn the basics first.

And that doesn’t mean human figure, faces, etc… It means drawing straight lines, perfect circles, cubes… and only then applying those skills to draw objects, and characters.

And of course, drawing non-stop, but doing illustrations, pages, and panels, not just studies for study’s sake.

Applying knowledge and learning on the go is key. Many things I learned over the years I learned on the job doing the actual work.

And of course, finishing things. Many up-and-comers tend to sketch a lot and never do finished work, which grows into a boatload of bad habits.

 

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

My favourite genres to create for are usually pulp-fiction, neo-noir, cyberpunk, and horror type of work.

But I love doing most genres.

But dark fiction and psychological mind-bending work suits my style best in my opinion.

Jason Byron and Fem’A Lin kiss. By Rolands Kalniņš

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

Hmm, I would probably say to myself to never stop drawing and don’t give up. Things will go your way eventually…

And don’t let anyone talk you out of anything career-related.

 

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 have many upcoming books and personal projects, but I can’t really talk about any of them due to NDA’s. Only thing I can say is that “The Pandora Window” a book I’m co-creating with Ray Chambers is finally announced and being drawn as we speak. And many other projects with Adam Barnhardt of Sh*tshow fame. Hopefully, soon they’ll be announced.

For hobbies, I tend to have many, but the most important ones are Powerlifting and reading. For me, it’s a way to clear my head. And of course, a healthy mind and body are key with this type of profession.

I personally believe you’ll go crazy quite fast if the only thing you do 24/7 is draw. It can become more of a detriment than a strategy to become successful.

 

Where’s the best place to find out more about you and your works?

I’m most active on my website(portfolio), Instagram, Twitter and Reddit.

https://rolandskalnins.carbonmade.com/

https://www.instagram.com/marvelzukas/

https://twitter.com/marvelzukas

https://www.reddit.com/user/Marvelzukas/

Jason Byron’s intense stare. By Rolands Kalniņš

Do you have a Bio that I can post at the bottom of the article?

My name is Rolands Kalniņš

I’m an illustrator, concept artist/designer, colorist from Latvia.

I’ve worked on many projects for different publishers and kickstarters.

Scout comics: Red Winter.

Fracture Press: Tales of Fractured Mind, Tales of Fractured Worlds, Soul of The Sea, The Burning Memory

Tpub: Transdimensional.

Source Point Press: Sirius

Frank Martin’s Pipe Creepers

Scapegoat Press Inc: Pcycho Path, Aeonian.

Roy Burdine’s Reapers.

VMComics: Hotel Hell

Musicians: Varien, Hellhills, Manic, Toracha, Cream of Cthulhu, and many more.

***

I want to thank Rolands Kalniņš for taking the time to answer my questions. And I really appreciate his contributions in bringing In Our Dreams Awake to life. Remember to go to the Sign up page for In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter. Be sure to sign up so you get notified when the project goes live!

 

 

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

Odd Synchronicity?

Reminder that the Sign up page for In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter is still available. Be sure to sign up so you get notified when the project goes live!

There are little things in our everyday world which sometimes lay out a message you might be on the right path. Small reminders, universal beats as it were to help subtlely (and not-so-subtlely) guide you. Then again, it could be more that these are the very things which seeped into your subconcious to begin with to create the path in the first place.

As we close in on the launch date for In Our Dreams Awake Issue 2, I began looking through the old emails, trying to find little bits and pieces that I had forgotten in the meantime. The back and forth in the very early days between Egg and myself as we worked the story, bouncing ideas off each other, trying only to improve upon the blocks of the story each time. Discovering things about the characters and what their goals may or may not be.

***

Things in the original breakdown:

The very first outline was 9 issues of story. Talk about being overly ambitious on what we might be able to do all those years ago… not that long out of college. 9 issues… good lord.

Jason Byron was originally an important man… perhaps a Duke of some sort.

In the sci-fi story there was a moment where he was going to have something similar to an Office Space style futuristic job. There was no Cyberpunk gangs. No angry cats (see issue 2).

Jason has more of a comprehension of what is going on between the worlds earlier on in the process. As seen in issue 1, these two worlds are tied together by him, but as things begin to spiral a bit, those world can start to bleed over.

There was an assassination attempt on Fantasy Jason. Totally didn’t remember that one at all.

As opposed to splitting issues between the two worlds, it would be full issues spent in one or the other. So a lot less flip book.

***

So what are the guideposts that helped us along?

Henry David Thoreau’s core quote. Egg discovered it somewhere and suddenly we had a proper title for the story.

I received a series of post-it notes from my parents as a gift and one of them was the Poe quote which again felt like they had read our emails.

Even stranger than that was a random listen to a Van Halen song which felt like it too was written about Jason Byron two decades before he ever took shape:

Love Walks In – Van Halen

Contact is all it takes
To change your life to lose your place in time
Contact! Asleep or awake
Coming around you may wake up to find
Questions deep within your eyes,
Things you’ve never realized

CHORUS:
So when you sense a change
Nothing feels the same
All your dreams are strange, love comes walkin’ in
Some kind of alien
Wait for the opening
Then simply pulls a string

Another world, some other time
You lay your sanity on the line
Familiar faces familiar sights
Reach back remember with all your might
Ohh there she stands in a silken gown
Silver lights shining down

CHORUS

Love comes walkin’ in

Sleep and dream is all I crave
I travel far across the Milky Way
To my master I become a slave
Til we meet again some other day
Where silence speaks as loud as war
And the earth returns to what it was before

CHORUS

Love comes walkin’ in

***

At the end of the day, the story is one we felt compelled to tell. In our email exchange 20 years ago, Egg asks a key question about the story “Is this a story of hope or failure?”

And I like my response, because even through all the tweaks and changes to the very first kernel of an idea, I think we’ve kept to this guiding light:

“The story, at its core, is probably a little of both (failure and hope). Hope that our lives can be brighter than they are but also failure in the risk of not living in reality. Plus, there’s the issue of what reality is truly. Is it what we perceive, or is it what others perceive?”

***

We are less than a month out from the launch of In Our Dreams Awake #2 on Kickstarter. Make sure to sign up to the Prelaunch Page here:

 

 

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost: Sleep, Perchance…

Make sure to sign up for the In Our Dreams Awake Kickstarter Pre-Launch Page to get notified when the project goes live by clicking HERE!

***

I feel like In Our Dreams Awake comes from the same place the following comes from… that frantic, unsure thing where we have this thing (SLEEP) that we must have but area always cutting short with everything else in the world.

***

Alarm off. A slow glance at the clock. The time flickers a thought in my head.

That can’t be right. Close my eyes again as if the sheer act of doing so will change what they witnessed. A slow peek before I’m careening out of bed. A mad scramble of clothes and contacts and “did I shower last night?” and deodorant and shaving and finding a shirt and…

Dragon Clock

It’s already past the countdown clock moment. Now it becomes the beginnings of a true decision. Formulas scream through my brain.

How long is the trip?

When is it too late?

Damn… missed class again…

***

Many years ago Chad told me that he preferred nightmares to pleasant dreams. The very concept made little sense to me at the time.

“Why?”

“Because when I wake up from a “great” dream, I’m back in the real world where things are inevitably worse than the worlds I had just visited. But with a nightmare, I have absolute and utter relief, because my waking life is so much better then any nightmare.

“Suddenly I’m happy to be awake!”

***

I struggle to fall asleep. Not stay asleep… oh, no. That is well taken care of. I tend to stay up too late and want more than my allotted eight hours the next day.

***

Henry Rollins said that you either sleep or you don’t – but you can’t catch up.

***

I respectfully disagree with that sentiment.

***

Your body knows when enough is enough. When you’ve pushed yourself. When you have burned that candle down to nothing but a pool of wax and a long-forgotten wick.

That’s when you need to let yourself catch up.

candle-579580_1920

***

Tonight, I don’t want to sleep. I want to stay up, looking down the internet rabbit hole – wondering where it will take me. I wonder if ancient scholars had the same feeling reading the same obscure text.

Sadly I’m reading about football or baseball or something else not quite so grand.

My nightly ritual where I put it off as long as possible. One more minute. Five more. Let me just finish this article. Where is that link going to take me? What about this video on something from 1 year ago. Five years ago. 100 years ago.

Yeah, I could wait until the next day, but then the information couldn’t swim through my head waiting to greet me in my dreams.

I need to know RIGHT NOW!

***

Reality vs. Dreams? What is the difference really? What if the world ceased to exist when we closed our eyes? And then the very act of opening them created a whole new world?

city in the sky

***

In dreams we are the creator, not always in control, true, but building.

Yet, I have to wonder. Is that actually a truth or just something I believe without real proof?

If that was true, why would I set the clock to a point where I’m late for class? Why torture myself when it is nothing but mental 1s and 0s of my own personal Matrix? What good does it do my body to send that familiar rush of fear and anxiety through my body?

***

What if it were the opposite? What if we are only the creators when we are awake? What if when we shut our eyes that was the real world(s)? That’s why we don’t have control over it. That’s why we can’t get off the railroaded path provided to us.

As strange as that reality might be where physics no longer works the way you think it should. Where people you’ve not seen in years suddenly have different personalities than you are used to. Your wife recognizes you, but she’s different and the same and…

***

We have to follow Alice down that damn rabbit hole no matter what.

***

Another friend in high school once commented that he woke up early (most weekends) because he was afraid of missing something. Better to be awake for whatever exciting/important/whatever thing than to not be.

As if the world ceased to exist when we shut our eyes.

***

The world continues to exist when we shut our eyes.

***

Doesn’t it?

***

We have been working hard to get this issue ready for public consumption. Over the next month or so, I’ll have preview pages, behind the scenes looks, and probably some random other stuff that I’m not remembering right now. I hope you’ll join us on another great comic book adventure!

Remember to sign up to the Pre-Launch Page to get notified when the project launchs on Kickstarter!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Behind the Comic: – Anatomy of a Panel – In Our Dreams Awake #2

 

We are less than a month out from the launch of In Our Dreams Awake #2 on Kickstarter. Make sure to sign up to the Prelaunch Page here:

 

 

 

***

As a comic book writer, we are doing the best we can to take the thoughts and images in our head and describe it in a way where the artist can have some idea of what we originally meant to show up on the page. The amazing thing about artists, though, is they take that mess of words and somehow (through magic is the only way I can figure) create an image (or series of images) which end up being a way better version of whatever I had in my head to start. Those are some of the best days, when you open up your email to get a new page and it leaves you speachless. Where you want to go back to your script to see how in the world they made it so much better.

 

Page 16 Panel 1 Pencils – Edgar Salazar Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta Colors – Javi Laparra

 

The Team

Pencils – Edgar Salazar

Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta

Colors – Javi Laparra

Letters – Alexander Lugo

Writer – John McGuire

 

Concept

This panel represents a bit of the calm before the storm. At the end of last issue, Fantasy Jason spotted this very same spacecraft in his (illegal) telescope. Now he finds himself commissioned to draw it. In so many ways, this is exactly what his curious mind truly wants to do. Somewhere inside him is a person who wants to see the strangeness in the world. The very truth of things which cannot be obscurred by those in charge.

Here we are with our artist sitting on top of a hill, trying to draw this literal alien craft as the workers go about disassembling it. He’s not sure whether this thing will be studied or destroyed, so it may be his pictures will be all there is left for anyone to know this machine existed.

 

The Script

Page 16 Panel 1

Jason has paint on his clothes, face, and has various sketches, scroll casings, and papers lying all around him. He has a sense of wonder and awe at what he is witness to. Magus move past him with pieces of the ship.

For this panel, the time is 13:00.

Caption – Early Afternoon.

Peter (caption) – It will eventually be dismantled, so we need accurate records.

 

Breakdown

Edgar and Genaro did a great job here really nailing this moment. The butterfly fluttering just above Jason provides a very relaxing moment in the midst of the overall craziness which is not only occurring in that moment, but really has been occurring since the day before (Issue 1) and is a bridge to what awaits our hero throughout the remainder of Issue 2. He placed the papers on the ground beside him, so the reader can see that he has been hard at work for a little while already. And he has an in progress piece on the easel to his left.

On top of that, Javi’s colors are perfect here. The greens, browns, and blues put the characters and the reader at a sort of ease (hopefully).

And while I haven’t shown your the entire page here, the overall feel is much the same as Jason pours himself into this project. Maybe even forgetting for a moment that this craft from his dreams is actually real and true.

Lost in the moment. Lost in the painting.

 

***

Be sure to sign up for the upcoming Kickstarter by clicking the image below!

 

 

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

 

In Our Dreams Awake Issue 2 – Kickstarter Prelaunch

 

The Kickstarter Prelaunch Page can be found here!

Jason Byron dreams of two lives. In one fantasy, magi reactionaries won, technology is banned, and Jason is a portrait painter hiding a contraband telescope. In the other world, he leads a cyberpunk gang amid a future of flooded cities and gilled aliens. When he closes his eyes in one world, he awakes in the next.

In Our Dreams Awake is the story of what happens when both dream worlds spin out of control. What happens when Jason no longer knows which world is the dream and which one is reality?

***

In Our Dreams Awake comes from co-creators John McGuire and Egg Embry. The second issue of this 4-issue mini-series features two dreams, the first illustrated by Edgar Salazar with the second by Rolands Kalniņš. With covers by Moonee Art, Rolands Kalniņš, and Egg Embry, this is a comic written for fans of love stories, dreampunk, steampunk, and cyberpunk, this series promises an engaging mystery with amazing artwork. This story is about love and loss and asking the big questions: Who am I? Where do I belong? Who do I love?

***

IN THE FANTASY DREAM, a mage arrives at Jason Byron’s cottage with orders: Paint and document a downed flying machine before the Magi destroy the heretical technology.  But, will the authorities let Jason live with this forbidden knowledge?

IN THE CYBERPUNK FUTURE DREAM, there’s a turf war in Drowned London, and Jason Byron must parley with the rival gang leaders. Can Jason make peace with the ‘A People, those mouthy cat aliens, and other gangs? Will this escalate and go to guns?

Who can say what dreams may come? Each Jason Byron works for an unseen love. Their guiding light is making their worlds better for those who hold their hearts. But can these dreampunks make their dreams come true?

***

We have been working hard to get this issue ready for public consumption. Over the next month or so, I’ll have preview pages, behind the scenes looks, and probably some random other stuff that I’m not remembering right now. I hope you’ll join us on another great comic book adventure!

Remember to sign up to the Pre-Launch Page to get notified when the project launchs on Kickstarter!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Reason Why – The Last Stand

Back at the beginning of this journey, my brain was looking for any way to get a comic done. Of course, at that time I was recently married, just beginning my career in Civil Engineering, so I didn’t have a ton of disposeable income. Which is a nice (or just honest) way of saying I couldn’t pay an artist.

Not the best place to be.

At this point Terminus had gathered a bunch of artists up to do their first anthology, where I had my first published work: The God That Failed. It wasn’t enough. I went online to see what things might be out there. Various contests for artists, but very, very few which had many opportunities for writers. The best I could find was a couple of short contests where you entered your script and if they liked it, you’d get matched up with an artist.

I didn’t win the couple I entered.

Then came an anthology built up to support the victims of the 2004 Tsunami which hit southeast Asia.

I needed to figure out something that would be a little uplifting, maybe having to do with the sea, maybe something from a dream, maybe… maybe… maybe.

I gathered up three artists to do the 4 pages I’d written about a kingdom dealing with the oncoming storms which threaten everything they’d built up. And those same artists took my still very early script and turned into a lovely little story about endings and beginnings.

Sadly, I’m not sure if that anthology ever actually came to pass, or if they just passed on my story… it’s been nearly 20 years.

But the work still stands as one of those first things which I poured myself into. One of those first stories where I am grateful for each of the artists who have their time to a project that ended up not seeing the light of day for a while.

In fact, it wasn’t until Egg Embry was putting together an anthology many years later (The Burner) that the story finally found a place to call home.

***

That story is my reminder that comics are a collaborative process. Every set of hands helping to bring these stories to life which is simply amazing.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love for Everyday – Part 16

Seven years ago, I created a homemade book for my wife with all these quotes about Love from our favorite TV Shows and movies and books and then I added to it great quotes about love from history or just great quotes about love from anyone. For the past six years, I’ve shared a few from the book around the holidays.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

Part 6 is here.

Part 7 is here.

Part 8 is here.

Part 9 is here.

Part 10 is here.

Part 11 is here.

Part 12 is here.

Part 13 is here.

Part 14 is here.

Part 15 is here.

 

 

January 27

It’s like, it’s not even real to me. It’s like my life isn’t even real to me unless you’re there and you’re in it and I’m sharing it with you.

Gilmore Girls

 

February 13

It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.

Agatha Christie

 

March 12

You’re my favorite reason to lose sleep.

Anonymous

April 10

When you think you’re not happy with your life, always think someone is happy simply because you exist.

Anna Kendrick

May 17

Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

 

June 24

There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.

Vincent Van Gogh

 

July 29

I could not tell you if I loved you the first moment I saw you, or if it was the second or third or fourth. But I remember the first moment I looked at you walking toward me and realized that somehow the rest of the world seemed to vanish when I was with you.

Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince

 

August 26

Loving you is like breathing – so effortless, so natural. And so essential to life.

Anonymous

September 24

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection. The loves, the dreamers, and me.

Kermit the Frog

 

October 30

But our love was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we

Of many far wiser than we

And neither the angels in heaven above,

Nor the demons down under the sea,

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

Edgar Allan Poe

 

November 10

There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.

Martin Luther

 

December 11

One love

One blood

One life

You got to do what you should

One life

With each other

Sisters

Brothers

One life

But we’re not the same

We get to

Carry each other

Carry each other

One… life

U2, One

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Tales from the Cubicle – Part 8

Image by piviso from Pixabay

She Knows Where You Live

During 2020, I was lucky enough to have the type of job where I could work from home. However, the job wanted to make sure we still felt some level of connection with the rest of our coworkers even if we weren’t seeing them regularly. So we ended up with Zoom call happy hours where we would chat… it was actually nice. However, what always cracked me up was one of my coworkers would normally ask a question about where someone lived and from that appeared to hack into the government database to discover all sorts of things about you that you didn’t think was out there.

It became a running joke for any new employees to warn them that if they gave her any information, she’d have their addresses within the hour.

 

I’m Having a Problem With My Computer

We once had a Temp employee who was helping us out on a series of deadlines wih the goal of hiring them on full time if things worked out. At that particular job, I was the one who they designated to help them out on any problems they might have with our network/computers/jobs/etc. I didn’t mind doing that at all (I’ve come to realize over the years I really like helping the junior engineers, so in some ways this was one of the steps down that path). After a couple of weeks of the Temp working on any number of projects, they came over to me and said there was a problem with their computer… it was crawling.

I walked over to their desk and saw it was really slow. Like slower than I’d ever seen any of our machines run. I start doing some digging and I realize what the problem is – the computer is out of storage.

Then I dig further.

The Temp had been saving all the files they’d worked on to their computer as an extra level of backup in case something went wrong. Now, I can understand some things you might want to do that with… and maybe they’d had a nightmare scenario at a previous job which caused this behavior… but this was above and beyond. It was as if ANY file they touched at all got backed up to their computer.

After a conversation about the companies’ backup procedure, we managed to get the machine cleaned up enough… for like a week. And that became a weekly routine of trying to explain that not everything needed to go on their computer.

Every week.

Owen Wilson

At the various holiday parties and monthly lunch and learns, there are moments which hit you out of the blue. I can’t recall what we were having lunch for in particular, but a series of stories were being shared. At the end of one of them, one of the engineers made what can only be referred to as an “Owen Wilson WOW” sound. At that point, I started paying attention to her reactions and sure enough Owen Wilson Wow made multiple appearances. With the best moment being during a meeting where some rather uninspiring thing was being shown for the group and I heard a “Wow” from two rows behind me and nearly lost it right then and there.

It has now entered my own lexicon throughout my daily life. Anytime anything deserves a Wow… Owen Wilson gets his kickback.

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Free Short Story – Piece By Piece

I sometimes forget that I should be promoting myself, things that I’ve done, or books and shorts that I’ve written. I end up more passive than I would like to be by including it into my signature at the end of the blogs. But it occurs to me that maybe people aren’t reading those things. And it also occurs to me that being passive isn’t the answer. As I get ready to launch some more work into the world, I need to remind people what is already available as well.

I wrote this a few years back, but it is available for Free. And if you liked The Dark That Follows, it features Jason Mills doing his psychic thing (and if you haven’t read The Dark That Follows, you could do worse than having this short be your introduction into the world).

***

I’m trying to figure out this publishing thing. I’ve got the book, got a comic, got a little novella, but I know I need to do more. The chances of anyone having just one thing out there in the void and suddenly hitting it big are pretty low. And that’s fine with me. I know it is a marathon and not a sprint (to borrow that old cliche’). Still, the projects I’m working on don’t really feed the beast of The Dark That Follows. And while I have ideas for the sequel, I’m not ready to really dive in (too many other projects that must get done).

So how do I fix that? How do I get potentially more eyes on this book I wrote without writing another book in the same world?

writing

I’d been thinking about a story, but I really wanted it to tie into The Dark That Follows somehow. Have a place where they could get the short for free and if they liked what they read, maybe they’d check out the book. Something extra. And a story began to shape itself in my mind.

A short story.

This is the old two birds one story idea. And while I didn’t name it Tessera or Tesserization or Tesselation or… (well, you get the idea), it does take a little bit of inspiration from trying to see a bigger picture from little bits of information.

PIECE-BY-PIECE-COVER

So without further ado, I present to you Piece by Piece. You can find it here on the site, and shortly you should be able to find it for free download on the various other platforms… but you can get it first!

***

The Song of Your Life III

In the movie, 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 feel the same way, where the music moment can transport you back to those memories you might not always have right at your fingertips. Things you thought had been lost are now crystal clear once again.

***

Image by Mollyroselee from Pixabay

Def Leppard – Hysteria

One of the first albums I ever owned, I nearly wore out the cassette tape as it would play behind me while I shot baskets throughout so many afternoons. But more than anything it transports me back to a particular summer where I’m maybe 12 or 13 at my grandparents’ house in south Georgia. My sister and I would normally spend two weeks with them every summer and hand out with our cousin. The thing was that south Georgia heat is nothing to play with. We’re talking 100 degrees easily during most afternoons, and in the area I’m talking about, it was probably closer to scrubland than woods sometimes (so not as much shade to potentially keep you cool). We tried to stick to the indoors as much as possible, but even back then the adults were always wondering why we weren’t outside playing (I wondered if adults didn’t feel heat in the same way, but now, as an adult, I know it’s certainly not the case). So I took a basketball out to the weathered and battered goal and turned on Def Leppard and cooked in the heat.

Good times…

***

Guns N’ Roses – November Rain

When you are a poor high school student, you really depend on tape trading with your friends in order to experience anything more than what your own feeble funds might allow you to purchase. One of those tapes was a copy of Use Your Illusion 1 (and 2 as well) which Chad Shonk had made a copy of for me. I devoured that tape over the course of many weeks before I finally decided to just go and get the CD. Imagine my surprise when this song Novemeber Rain came pouring through my stero… a song I did not recognize at all. I popped back on the tape, fast forwarded to where the song appeared and got a weird gabled version of the song that was abruptly shortened as well. So it was that one of the bands greatest songs finally managed to be appreciated by me… months after the album had been out.

***

Korn – Blind

Right after I graduated from high school, my parents moved the family up to Richmond, Virginia, leaving their oldest in behind in Georgia to begin college at GA Tech in the fall. It was a great summer as for many weeks I pretty much was by myself. My dad would be down about every other week, but otherwise I was on my own (luckily for them, I was anything but a wild kid – I wouldn’t have known how to throw a party even if I’d wanted to). Just before the end of summer, the movers came and packed up all our worldly items and off we went to Richmond, where I think I technically lived for about two weeks.

It was there I discovered a record shop a couple of miles away from the new house. Every couple of days I would pop up there to see if they had anything of interest. And one day they had these sampler tapes from a band named KORN. Free means go ahead and grab one just in case. I got home, popped it into the stero, and was blown away by what I heard. Suddenly, a random trip to the store had introduced me (and my friends shortly thereafter) to not only a brand new band but the beginnings of a whole new music (Nu Metal).

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost – Behind the Comic: In Our Dreams Awake

 

I don’t have the email anymore where I first pitched Egg the basic idea behind In Our Dreams Awake. I basically remember that I had hit upon this idea of someone having to live two different lives, one when they slept and one when they were awake. I know that it happened around the Winter of 2004-2005 in one of many of our daily emails back and forth to each other. Those emails served as both catch-up on the day/week and also a dumping ground for us to share potential writing ideas.

You see, the goal with Egg and I always was to find a way to write comic books. During college, there were many, many, many weekends the two of us would journey from one comic shop to another looking for back issues. And during those trips, we’d talk story ideas. They ranged from some take on whatever Marvel or DC or Image might be doing at the time all the way to our own comic ideas featuring our own characters. But this was in the days before something like Kickstarter existed, back in the days when we were going to have to find a way to do things on the “cheap”.

Egg’s always been good about looking at potential story ideas and breaking them down into a format that might be a little different. And In Our Dreams Awake sent his mind going.

I know/remember a few things about this time:

Egg found the title from a quote by Thoreau.

Egg pitched the idea of the two of us writing portions of the story. One of us would take one dream and the other would write the other.

Egg found both the artists to do what would become a 4 issue mini-series: Edgar Salazar (pencils) and Genaro Olavarrieta (inks) for my “fantasy world” dream and an artist for “futuristic world”.

So we started on the scripts for issue 1. And then the pages started rolling in… this was working… we were going to have a comic book!

We quickly got scripts going for all 4 of the issues, as Edgar and Genaro were rocketing through their work. I learned how to color on the computer (which is a story for another time). Egg’s artist was turning in good stuff. The tone felt great… all we needed to do was find a home for the comic.

We approached Image, I think we sent it off to a couple of other places, but nothing ever came of it. I was working with the Terminus Media guys at the time and had learned enough to know how to get the book printed, but we realized we probably needed to have a complete book before going down that path.

And then Egg’s artist fell off the face of the Earth.

He’d done around 20ish pages out of the 48 or so we’d need to finish things up. But we couldn’t find him. He didn’t return email. I think Myspace was a bust (remember Myspace?). Months went by, which became a year, which became two years. Edgar and Genaro finished their pages and moved on, but we felt hamstrung by this artist. It was weird that one of the original reasons for doing the comic with two artists was so that it would half the load. We thought there was a chance that if an artist disappeared (or ghosted us) that it would be relatively early in the process. Maybe they’ve done 1-5 pages and then make like a wizard, but he’d done enough for 2 issues.

We scrambled. Egg came up with an idea to split his dream in two with the already finished pages and then get a new artist (potentially himself) to do the last 24 pages. We toyed with some other thoughts, but time went on, and like so many things…

In Our Dreams Awake passed into legend…

It nagged at me. Tugged at the back of my mind. Every year I’d look through my files and see the pages and think about what could have been. I wrote the Gilded Age and The Dark That Follows and still, it was there. Egg moved on to RPGs and writing for so many websites that I can’t even keep up with his output these days.

When we were first working on the comic, Egg found the Thoreau quote and it fit perfectly. But randomly during that same Christmas, my mom got me post-its with quotes on them. And while they didn’t have the In Our Dreams Awake quote, they did feature one from Poe that seemed made for our comic:

Things had lined up perfectly until they didn’t.

Then March 2020 happened and the world changed. We had time on our hands. And In Our Dreams popped up in my dreams again. So I reached out to Egg. Told him I wanted to make a go of it. That we knew so much more than we had nearly 2 decades earlier. The biggest obstacle was always having product, but in this case, we had 1/2 the story already done. There was only one hurdle to go: we needed to reach out to Egg’s artist and see if we could use those pages or if we were going to start over.

And after many weeks, we decided to go with someone new.

The thing was, I’m a part of a couple of Facebook Groups where artists post their work looking for their next gigs, so I’d been saving posts of anyone who caught my eye. So when we decided to move on, I shared all the potentials with Egg, and very quickly we identified Rolands Kalniņš as the person who could bring the sci-fi/cyberpunk dream to life. And Rolands has done that and more. And all of a sudden we had issue 1 ready to go.

All of sudden… after 17 years… we had the first issue.

***

We’re in the process of putting the 2nd issue on Kickstarter very soon, and I’m hopeful that we won’t have quite as long of a break between issues from now on. Be on the lookout for the prelaunch page coming to your screens very shortly.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Rebooting the Marvel Universe

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Looking through my Twitter Feed a month or so ago, I came across the following tweet from Sean Taylor’s:

“You’re given the task of making a clean break (a la DC Golden Age to DC Silver Age) for Marvel and can only keep four existing characters to continue unscathed into the new Age. Who are they?”
***
It started the wheels turning in my head. And while Sean was only wanting a list of characters, I began sketching up ideas for who would be there in this fictious future version of the Marvel Universe.
The interesting/funny thing here is that they sorta have done this at least 2x already. When Marvel launched the Fantastic Four ushering in their version of the Silver Age, this was an effective launch/relaunch of their existing universe. And while maybe continiuity was fairly fast and loose back then, it wasn’t long before they brought back a couple of characters from their Golden Age stories. You had the Human Torch as a part of the Fantastic Four – a direct call back to the Golden Age Android version and in some ways more along the lines of how DC Comics seemed to update their characters with Flash and Green Lantern.
Avengers 4 then brought back Captain America making it a more direct line to the 1940s (even if he’d had an ongoing comic book throughout the 50s as well).
Finally, the other “main” one was Sub Mariner who, in a twist, they brought back as a villain. And while the years have softened that version of him, he still wins the award for most likely to find himself hanging out with other big named villains more so than any other hero in Marvel.
***
The second time they did this is with the 2099 launch in the mid-90s. There they had 4 titles. Spider-Man 2099 was a brand new version with no real ties to Peter Parker other than taking up the mantle. Punisher 2099, who in the regular universe was one of their most popular characters (he had 3 ongoing series at one time), received a version of the character who I honestly don’t know enough about to talk about. Doom 2099 who either was the Doom from our time and was time-displaced or was someone who thought he was Doom from our time and was time-displaced. I’m not 100% on where we ended up with that one to be honest. Finally they had Ravage, a brand new character to help usher in this new line.
***
In both cases those 3 or 4 characters really helped jump start their respective universes.
So going along those lines we could go a few ways:
Think about who the most popular characters are, and then make sure you have updated versions of them. This helps to solve the problem of not having someone who can sell comic books.
Who are Marvel’s best sellers right now? Spider-Man, Wolverine, Venom, randomly Moon Knight (the comic is really good right now), X-Men, Daredevil… those are the ones I see in the top 25 of sales. Maybe you could throw Deadpool in just due to the movie side of things. From a movie point of view, you would have to include pretty much any of the Avengers and Guardians (basically anyone who showed up in Infinity War and End Game).
However, even before we get into that, we should probably think about the situation. Is there a potential time jump that we have going on here? Has 20 years passed since the last generation of heroes? Is this more of a thought process where we have to save Marvel from flagging sales (maybe along the lines of their Ultimate Universe in the 00s)?
It’s also one of those things you don’t want to copy things specifically because it has come before without some form of a twist. With the Marvel Silver Age, those other characters were enhancements to all the new ideas which eventually led to the juggernaunt that it has become.
***
Strictly speaking, if we are going to go with the best sellers approach then my list might look something like this:
Spider-Man has to be there in some form or fashion. He is the heart of the Marvel universe. In we have the time jump version then perhaps he can now be the retired hero we were all hoping for with wife and kid(s) that eventually can be the one that trains the youngsters? And that doesn’t consider what happens if we use Miles for this…
Wolverine is your immortal character who can kind of swiss army knife things in this new world. You need to older teacher, got it. You need a wild man out in the wilderness who needs to tracked down? Got it. You need to touch on the Mutant side of things, he’s your connection.
Iron Man – This one I can see as the inheritor/pure update to the old idea. It’s either a long lost relative to Tony Stark or perhaps even better he is a relative to one of Stark’s enemies who decides to do something good with the suit of armor. Maybe even set this up as a bit of a mystery at first with him (her?) showing up in the other books before finally revealing the person under the armor and launching their own book.
The fourth character feels like it should be someone low key. Someone who in current comics isn’t a big deal but now in this new world could become that new hero. Or potentially someone who never got by before and now could go on to the villain (or at least anti-hero) side. This would be the someone like Elsa Bloodstone or Speedball or something like that. I don’t have anyone specifically in mind here.
***
But then it occurred to me, one of my favorite things about the Marvel Universe is that it can be so many different things to so many different people. So what are the main pillars of the Marvel Universe? And then which characters let us focus on those ideas and build?
In my mind, the four major pieces of the Marvel Universe are the following:
Cosmic
Mutant
Magic/Tech
Street Level
Those you pretty much touch nearly all the characters who currently exist within the comics. And while it is a little bit of a cheat to lump Magic and Tech together, given that so many quotes from the comics and movies talk about how Magic is simply technology we haven’t figured out the science for… I’m going to say it works.
With that in mind, here are my four leads:

Silver Surfer

He’s such a singular character within the greater framework of Marvel, and he allows you to tell as many adventures as you’d like throughout the cosmic side of things. He is an immortal style character, so whatever time jump might have happened, he might have been there at the EVENT.
When written well, he becomes a focal lens for all the cool stuff you can do in comic books.

Storm

Allows you to have those true connections to the Golden Age of X-Men while not leaning on Wolverine for the 1000 time. She could allow you to have an X-Men style team with her role as more in the Prof. X stylings. This would be a woman who perhaps has learned the original Dream is dead, but that doesn’t mean the struggle isn’t still ongoing.

Dr. Doom

My favorite character in Marvel, I would be remiss if I didn’t include him in some way. That said, this would be a version of Doom that we only ever get to see glimpses of most of the time. This is someone who finally decided to put the pettiness behind them and actually strives to be something better. And that all came about because Dr. Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme (whether he died or retired or whatever would be a portion of the story). Doom then assumes this mantle and with it the responsibilities it requires. You wouldn’t have the FF “baggage”, at least at first, and could focus Doom on things again we don’t see a ton of – the magic side of things.

Daredevil

This would be my brand new person wearing the suit slot. A new ‘Devil’ for Hell’s Kitchen to lend some hand to the little people. Not sure they’d need to be a lawyer, but whatever their profession it should give the writers something to play with as that’s one of the things the Daredevil character does the best – weave his daily life into his night life.
***
Of course, if I thought about this more, I’d probably come up with about ten other combinations of characters to restart things with. That’s really the beauty of the comics, anything can find a way to grab a reader and never let them go.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Turn the Page on 2023

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 

I normally like to take this first blog of the new year and do both a look back and look forward on the various projects I have been working on. However, 2023 was an odd year in that I’ve been working on things, but overall it has probably been one of my least productive years in some time with no good milestones of releases to kind of mark my personal progress. It’s likely to a lack of discipline to sit my butt behind the keyboard and do the work, mixed with some shiny object syndrome, and some real life events that made it where many nights I just wanted to veg out rather than be productive.

So, with that thought I think a better use of my time would be to look forward to 2024 and see what possibilities lie in front of me:

In Our Dreams Awake

In 2022, Egg Embry and I launched a Kickstarter for the first issue of In Our Dreams Awake. Due to various reasons (some hinted at above), we weren’t able to get to the second issue Kickstarter within the 2023 calendar year. However, issue 2 is complete and ready to be unleashed into the world during the first quarter of the year. In a perfect world, I’d like to see all four issues get their Kickstarter runs while still allowing for maybe a final shorter Kickstarter in 2025 for the trade. I’ve never run more than one crowdfunding campaign in a year, so this may be easier said than done. Still, it would be nice to bring a story to a close after nearly two decades.

 

The Crossing

In 2020, Robert Jeffrey, Sean Hill, myself, and 133art came together to tell a story which was a sort of love-letter to the Dimension hopping stories of science fiction (think Sliders or Exiles). Then the pandemic happened. Then Sean Hill got himself famous with Marvel work. And the project kind of got back-burnered. After some discussions late in 2023, we have new pages and are looking to potentially having a path to wrapping up the first story in what (hopefully) could be a much larger sandbox. Assuming things go well, I could see us having a Kickstarter for this during the second quarter of 2024.

Another Comic Project

I look at everyone who is doing independent comic books and notice that they have multiple projects going at various stages of completion. And while I have that in some ways (see the above), I also need to look towards the future and not just 2024. It is all fine and well  if I have 3 issues of In Our Dreams Awake come out and maybe two issues of Crossing this year, but what then? Do I kill any momentum I might have gathered during 2024 and 2025 becomes a waiting for the artwork to get done type of year? Or could I start the wheels turning this year so that when Dreams is done, I’m immediately ready to launch the next project into the world?

So that’s what I’ve been trying to figure out in this last week. Some of it depends a great deal on whether I’m successful with Dreams and the Crossing. If those fail or even just squeek by… it could change the entire equation. But if you are going to take a leap of faith, I could see worse things to do. I have two projects that would make a decent follow-up, so the only question is which one to attack first.

 

S.O.U.L. Mate

I swear this is my white whale. I have a full draft of this one. I have done a first pass of edits. But it is still missing something. It’s nothing big, the overall skeleton is there, but I think there are a few places within the draft where things need to be punched up and/or elaborated on (fleshed out). Editing is the least fun part of things sometimes just due to the time investment on my side. If you think about it, when you read for pleasure a 300 page book can take days/weeks of reading (according to how fast you read). With editing, I’m having to reread the work but with an eye for where the weaknesses in the manuscript might be and then make the edits. An hour of editing might get me through 1 chapter. And if I’m editing, then I’m not writing anything else… very much a push-pull effort on my time.

The other thing is when this thing is ready to get released into the world, I want it to actually do more than any of my previous works. Now I’m not delusional, but I’d also like it to do more than pizza money. I really need to have my marketing strategy down pat when I put this one out (really that goes for everything though).

Image by G.C. from Pixabay

Untold Series

I jump around genres. That’s a path to failure. So I’ve been working on a series of books (and novellas and short stories) to try and get a proper release that will take hold and maybe grow the audience with each release. This won’t be ready for release this year. At this point I have 2 1/2 of the novels done in what I see as a 6ish book series. I have notes filling up pages of notebooks. I have worlds being created and destroyed. But this big push for this one is consistantcy in writing on the series so that perhaps 2025 might see the release of Book 1. No matter, if I make more and more progress on this insanity, I will be extremely happy.

 

Hollow Empire

Mr. Neill and myself wrote a serialized story set in a world where the Black Plague event happened twenty years eariler and the world was still picking itself back up from getting punched in the teeth. We did 6 episodes and collected that as a full-length novel (Season 1). In the years since, I’ve wanted to go back to this story, but have always back-burnered this in favor of something else. However, Jeremy has written 2 additional novellas in the world in the meantime.

It is like an itch I need to get at… I have one novella ready to go, but need to finish the next two before I do any releasing. Regardless, more work on this is needed this year.

Short Stories

At some point this year I wondered about both my published and unpublished short stories. I have a few building up in my folders, so I started putting them all in a Scriviner file to see where I was in a potential Anthology. I was pleasantly suprised to see I had about 40,000 words over around 10ish shorts. And I have about 4 other stories that would be really good fits in there that are in progress. This is another “make progress” as I wouldn’t want to try and put it out this year but maybe in 2025…

***

So that’s a look toward my writing future. I’m optimistic that come this time next year a whole bunch of these items will have a big checkmark beside them. Fingers crossed.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com