About John McGuire

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

Steampunk Fridays – Space: 1889

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

I remember seeing ads for a different kind of roleplaying game in some of my issues of Dragon Magazine.  It claimed it was “Science Fiction Roleplaying in a more Civilized Time”. This was years before I would even hear the term Steampunk, and my gaming friends were content to keep any Science Fiction related roleplaying in the Star Wars universe. Another game, with a new system to learn, would have been asking a lot.

So I never delved into Space: 1889 to see if it was something I might have liked.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, Egg Embry sends me the link to a few odds and ends which might work well with this “Steampunk Fridays” blog series I want to do. Among them is a link to the Space: 1889 FREE Quickstart Rules. So what the heck… I dove in and started reading.

So what is it?

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

The Quickstart Rules provide the brief overview of the history of the settings. Then they give a breakdown of the various stats before unveiling an adventure to start things off.

The Rules

The first thing that really jumped out at me was the use of Dice Pools. Now, I’ve played the Vampire/Werewolf (White Wolf) games in the past where you roll a number of dice and each one higher than the number to beat is a “success”. The more successes the better chance you have to accomplish some task.

However, Space: 1889 takes it in a different direction. It isn’t a value you are trying to beat, but instead, you can use any dice as long as they have an even number of sides. When you roll, you are looking for how many EVEN numbers you rolled in order to determine your level of success.

It is an interesting idea, effectively making it so every dice is a straight up 50/50 chance of being a success (and makes it very easy to know your successes in any situation).

For those familiar with Dungeons and Dragons attributes, you’ll find a similar breakdown of Intelligence/Dexterity/Strength/Charisma/Body (Constitution)/Willpower (Wisdom).

The other piece that I really liked was Style Points:

“Style points are used to help a character boost their abilities and skills when their current ability is just no sufficient.”

Which is another way of saying you can use these Style points (which you gain by roleplaying) in order to possibly upping your chance of successes by 1 dice per Style point or reduce damage against your character. I’ve seen this in other games, but the differing costs for their use feel like an interesting idea. Maybe you save them to more for protection against being hurt if you are down to your last few levels of health. Or do you burn through them quickly in order to end a fight (or another challenge) that much quicker?

And while this is only an overview of the rules, it also includes a handful of pregenerated character sheets at the back of the PDF (Tracker, Inventor, Officer, Discoverer, and Xeno-Archaeologist). There you get an idea of other potential abilities your characters may have as well as Combat Maneuvers you can perform (ranging from “Aim” which increases your Attack at the expense of being able to move to “Total Defense” which increases your Defense at the expense of not being able to attack).

Possible storylines

Like I mentioned above, the guide comes with a brief adventure to help get your group immediately immersed into the setting. From the Quickstart:

“The player characters are recruited on Mars by renowned archaeologist Professor Charles Dyer. He organizes an expedition to explore the abandoned monastery of Tasharvan that stands between Dioscuria and Cydonia.”

From there you have aspects of an Indian Jones type story where you are not just there for treasure, but to really survey the ruins.

For ongoing campaigns, you have a number of exotic settings: the deserts of Mars, the jungles (and lizardmen) of Venus, the middle section of Mercury, caught between eternal night and eternal darkness, Luna, and even the Asteroid Belt, a place filled with the potential for ruins and smugglers and pirates.

There are battles to be fought with Martians, areas that have yet to have mankind explore, and seedy places best left off maps for fear of what you might find.

***

For more information about Space: 1889 and the other supplements available, check out Clockwork Publishing.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

No One Is Safe

If a show sets up an expectation that anyone can die and then showcases a handful of characters… is it really being true to its core premise? To put it another way, at what point does your desire to see further main characters killed off interfere with story and enjoyment? When does worry as a viewer disappear? When is it replaced with apathy at what may come?

“I just don’t feel like any of the main characters are in real danger.”

Both a solid argument and a bit of strangeness all rolled into one. For we all have watched the serialized shows for the past twenty some odd years. And with their coming it means we are watching lives twist and change through each zombie apocalypse, vampire slayer, gangster talking to a shrink, plane crash survivors, high school teacher turned criminal mastermind… all of it. Through it all, whether we knew it or not, we were watching a show not only likely to get some characters killed off, but they might very well be people we enjoyed watching. It put us at the edge of our seats week in and week out.

Does that change as the shows go on longer? Assuming the writing quality doesn’t suffer from the weight of its own success, is the idea “Anyone can die” enough of an idea to ensure the ratings don’t suffer.

And if it does, what can the writers do to bring that… fear back to the viewing experience?

I read comics, a format where if you read the adventures of Batman or Spider-man then the one truth is pretty much universal – the hero isn’t going to die at the end of the issue (and for this argument I’d like to say that yes, some of these characters have “died” and they have come back – but you have decades worth of stories where they just go on and on). My point is that I don’t need the fear of death for my characters to enjoy a comic book. I just need the story to be compelling in some fashion or another.

I would think that in order to have a serialized show there has to be a consistent POV. And while many serialized shows have contained multiple POVs, I still must care somewhat about the characters. So a lot of times the whole idea of “No one is safe” is very artificial. Buffy killed off a potential main cast member in its pilot episode. Angel did the same about half-way through its first season. Lost killed off some characters you loved and let others you hated stick around for longer than they should have.

Odds were high, though, that Jack and Buffy and Angel and Walter were going to keep going for the majority of the show. And I would assume anyone who loved those shows wouldn’t want those particular characters to die without some huge (HUGE) reason behind it from a story perspective.

The two shows currently airing which try to walk this line (as far as the idea “anyone can die”… well almost anyone… well maybe just the supporting characters… and Sean Bean…”): Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.

From what I’ve seen and read from both series (being a fan of the books and comics), I have to believe each contains a handful of “untouchables”… at least until the final season of each. There are certain characters I expect will continue to breathe life in their respective universes. GoT – Arya, Danny, and Tyrion seem the most likely. WD – Rick and Carl… with Carl actually being the absolute last survivor from our original group (my personal theory on how that story could/should possibly end).

The Walking Dead probably has the greater burden of the two, being in the post-apocalyptic world where, if we’re being honest about it, people are just fodder. A place where every day could and probably should be your last. Over the seasons they introduce new characters and kill off preexisting ones, but there has slowly become a “core” group who have managed to stick around from season 1 through the end of this last season. Is it a bad thing this has happened? Remember, we’re not watching an anthology where the characters only are on set for the episode or two. We need to build a connection with them (thus connecting us to the show itself).

Game of Thrones goes through episodes where no one dies, and then all of a sudden, everyone is gone. It also has the benefit of being much closer to a planned ending (only 13 episodes left total between this season and last). Things are coming to a head, which means those characters we’ve grown accustomed to watching may slowly drop away without us realizing it’s about to even happen.

So is unpredictability a good thing or the only thing?

I’m not sure if past a certain point it matters all that much. Most of the time, I’m willing to forgive a show some smaller things if they’ve delivered on their promises in the past.

So obviously I think everyone can die at any instance? No. Honestly, I assume most main characters are going to make it a little while longer. I don’t expect to Sansa die anytime soon… I don’t expect Michonne to kick the bucket this coming season. And that’s the thing… I don’t need to fear for their lives… not when I can still fear for their souls.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Steampunk Fridays – Kickstart the Comic – Word Smith

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

Welcome to the first in hopefully many Fridays worth of Steampunk goodness to come. My hope is to shed some light on the genre in any way I can possibly think of. Movies, TV, comics, novels, short stories, artwork, history, and possibly other bits and pieces I haven’t even considered yet. Since I write a Steampunk comic (The Gilded Age – the first issue is still available for FREE download here), it feels only right to reach out and see what others have done.

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Word Smith – A Steampunk Fantasy Adventure

From Sigmate Studio

Stephen Kok – Writer

P.R. Dedelis – Artist

Peyton Freeman – Colors

K. Hermann – Animator

Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, July 14, 2017, at 7:44 AM EDT.

The Pitch:

Sometimes all it takes is a word. 

Word Smith is a steampunk fantasy adventure graphic novel. I always loved steampunk and it was great to put my own twist on it and write a story in this world. There’s dragons, airships, magical words and much more.

At the core of the story, it’s still a story about people, their emotions, dreams and ambitions.

The Story:

When one of Victoria’s words goes awry, she sets off on an adventure to try and get things back the way it was. With her dragon, Sparky will she succeed or make matters worse?

Word Smith follows the story of Victoria who crafts words. These words can evoke the emotion associated with it. For example, the word HOPE will give the recipient a sense of hope.

Sample pages from Word Smith. P.R. Dedelis – Artist and Peyton Freeman – Colors

John’s Thoughts:

Steampunk goes hand in hand with Inventors. Da Vinci, Tesla, Edison, etc. So the core concept of crafting words seems like one of those things that are obvious once someone else has told you the idea (as in – why didn’t I think of that?). And then having these constructed words become their own magic for people opens an enormous amount of possibilities. Not only could you possibly get a word that has an unintended effect, but what if someone else were to use a negative word for this purpose?

The artwork has a manga influence (if only from the larger eyes on some of the characters), and there is a playfulness at work here. Which makes sense if you are going to have a talking dragon as one of your main characters!

Oh, I didn’t mention that… yeah, talking dragon!

The Rewards:

For about $19 US (AU $25) you get a physical copy of the 55-page graphic novel. As you go up the levels, there is the opportunity for prints and original sketches ($60 US). And if you’d like to be immortalized within the comic, you can select the level which lets you “Get Drawn In” ($187 US).

What’s nice is that he offered some of these options as “early bird” or limited rewards for a reduced price. Never a bad thing to reward people for pledging earlier in the life of a campaign.

However, it’s the other option at that same level “Meet the Creator” which will interest those living in and around Sydney, Australia. Stephen basically opens up the meeting as allowing you to ask him questions, discuss projects, or pretty much anything else you might want to discuss. As someone who’s run a few successful Kickstarter projects, it could be very useful to pick his brain if you were considering running one of your own!

The Verdict:

I like the core concept and from the artwork he’s posted on the Kickstarter page, it has the feeling of a fun comic. I’m very interested to see where the story ends up.

***

For more information on Word Smith or Sigmate Studio other comic projects, check them out here.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Death of Ideas

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

 

There are no original ideas.

This year is the worst box office year for movies in forever.

The only things which make money are sequels.

Now that Marvel has led the way, everyone wants their own universe… whether it’s a good idea or not.

No one makes the comics/books/tv shows/movies/etc I want to consume.

***

This, or something like it, fills my Facebook feed and fills up blogs I frequent and dominates the headlines of various other places on the internet. Complaining about the state of entertainment currently available. Complaining that is it all more of the same and why doesn’t someone do something about it.

Complaining.

Maybe, just maybe, we’re not looking hard enough?

***

Remember when you were a kid? Assuming you were anything like me, you probably were a fan of Star Wars. And when I was 8 or 9, I remember first hearing what became an ever-persistent rumor of a Star Wars saga which would span a total of 9 episodes. Nine! On the playground, during sleepovers and birthday parties we tried to wrap our heads around the very idea of such a thing. What would that even look like? Would they come out every couple of years?

None of us say in the bedroom, stomped our feet, crossed our arms, and held out breath because “Why isn’t anyone doing something new?” It never occurred to us.

Did you imagine what those other 6 episodes might look like?

Later, in my teens, everything was still new enough that even if there was a sequel to something like Batman, it was something to look forward to… not lament its very existence.

***

The entertainment world has certainly changed the way they do things with any action or genre type movie (and some random comedies as well). They are looking for the sequel. The almighty trilogy.

The way we devour movies and tv shows have reached the point where there is enough “stuff” available that it only makes sense to try to serve some existing fan base out there. It’s just flat-out easier to get buy-in on something people already recognize.

And I don’t believe this has to be a bad thing. I don’t worry about whether there are too many Super Hero sequels or that Star Wars Episode VIII is on the horizon. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, how jazzed are you that there are more stories coming from that world.

Why does this have to be a bad thing?

***

And I know what you’re saying. The big production companies only want to make a dollar (or more like many millions of dollars) and so they aren’t investing in the smaller movies. And why would they when the next Avengers movie is going to print money?

I sometimes wonder if back in the 50s and 60s whether people were annoyed by the idea of another John Wayne Western was coming out.

Were you really put out by having all those great/cheesy/insert another adjective here for the horror movies in the 80s? I love some of them in many ways, and even I didn’t bother watching most. It didn’t mean I couldn’t watch something else if I wanted to.

***

I have a friend who talks about his current comic monthly pull list. And every few months he mentions cutting the number of Marvel comics he is reading. And then 3 months later, we’re having a very similar conversation about the exact same comics.

It’s like someone has convinced all of us that the box we live in is all we could possibly see or hear. The same people who are complaining aren’t going to see that independent movie which made $2 million dollars last year. The ones complaining certain comic companies aren’t making comics for “Them” anymore aren’t necessarily searching out more indy comics to fill in those gaps. Instead, they talk about only buying 10 comics a month, down from 30. Or sometimes even worse cuts than that.

***

Here’s the secret: other people feel the same way as you, but they are creating new things. Maybe it is a series of novels from an author you’ve never heard of. Maybe it’s that movie you keep scrolling past on Netflix because you don’t recognize anyone’s name in the description. Maybe there is a comic book which will speak to you again in a way you didn’t think was possible anymore. Maybe around the corner are new horror movies or new sci-fi things or new tv shows which don’t have anything to do with part 17 of the latest craze.

And if you’re really lucky, maybe this new thing you fall in love will spawn its own series of sequels and suddenly you can claim the other thing us nerds love to claim:

“Well, I liked it first!”

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Kickstart the Comic – Standstill #1

Post-apocalyptic stories come in all shapes and sizes, but what they truly are about is the survivors. Like any good science fiction, they force the reader to ask questions: What if it was me who lived? What would I do to survive? At what point might it all no longer be worth it?

***

Standstill #1

From Justin Gray

Justin Gray – Writer

Brox – Artist

Kickstarter campaign ends on Thursday, July 20, 2017, at 10:08 AM EDT.

The Pitch:

At its core, Standstill is the bastard love child of the Americana survival horror genre and a romantic Greek tragedy. The dramatic table is set here in the opening chapter when you are introduced to Mason and Luna, two young people very much in love, but that love is going to be tested under unimaginable circumstances over the course of their story. I say their story because Standstill is big enough to sustain multiple storylines over time and that’s how I’ve been writing it. As it progresses from chapter to chapter, the story is visceral, emotional, and, in some cases, not for the faint of heart.

The Story:

Over 7 billion people live on planet Earth. What if 6 billion of them suddenly and inexplicably stopped moving – like toys that ran out of batteries. What would happen if the world came to a… Standstill.

John’s Thoughts:

The little blurb on the back of the book. The little bit of text where you have to put the idea out there enough so that it will catch someone’s eye. Simple, concise… everything I look for in a story. On the surface, it is the type of idea which could have just as easily worked in a novel format… but as a lover of comics, I’ll happily take what Justin Gray and Brox are putting out there.

Art by Brox. Standstill Issue 1, Page 1

The Rewards:

A couple of things popped out to me:

The digital comic is very reasonable at $3 and you get a copy of the script which, as a writer, is never a bad thing to know a little more about someone else’s process.

The physical copy at $5. Many comics end up charging far more than that even before shipping.

The ability to add a digital ad to the digital version of the comic at the $8 level. At the time of this writing, a small amount of money could get you in front of at least 225 backers where maybe something you write in your pitch becomes the thing which drives them to your story.

Art by Brox. Standstill Issue 1, Page 2

The Verdict:

Justin talks about the idea coming to him if he woke up and everyone else was paralyzed, waiting to die.

That is some messed up thinking… a man after my own heart. I don’t know where the story may end up going, or what the long-term ideas he may have already mapped out, but at least in the initial issue, I am all aboard to see what happens next.

***

For more information on Standstill or Justin’s other comic projects, check out his Facebook Page here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

The Free Comic Experiment – Gilded Age #1

I’m currently running a promotion where the first issue of my Steampunk Comic: The Gilded Age #1 is free to download.

The Gilded Age

https://www.instafreebie.com/free/2V0z3

or if you are already a member of Noisetrade you can find it here:

http://books.noisetrade.com/johnmcguire/the-gilded-age-1

The only thing required of you to get the free issue is to provide your email address.

A little about The Gilded Age:

Welcome to the world of The Gilded Age.

1877. The full dawn of Industrial Revolution has collided with the twilight of the age of magic and alchemy, leading to a most curious progeny: self-aware clockwork men. Man-made machines, with clockwork gears and steam-powered joints, serve man even as the followers of the old ways continue to nurse growing resentment of these new creations.

Trying to find its own way in this world, the Branning Troupe, made up of actors and carnival folk, moves throughout Europe performing its acts night in and night out. For some, the Troupe offers a direction to their lives; others seek the adoration of the crowds. For all, it represents a fragile, simple refuge from a world which has cast them out. They are a new family. And each member has their own desires and secrets…

Each issue of The Gilded Age is a complete story (“Done in One”) focusing on different members of the Branning Troupe. This allows for a wide variety of stories to be told: heists, western, horror, and fantasy.

And there is also now a Facebook site for all things Gilded Age:

www.facebook.com/TheGildedAgeComic

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Kickstart the Comic – Angelica Reigns #1

Sometimes it is about the story, sometimes it is about the art, sometimes it is about the promotion, and sometimes it is about the whole package. The Angelica Reigns has a little bit of each… a comic I can enjoy and a Kickstarter campaign I can take notes from… sign me up!

***

Angelica Reigns #1

From SFC

Brian Hawkins – Writer

Federico Sabbatini – Artist

Chiara Miriade – Colorist

Brant Fowler – Letters

Kickstarter campaign ends on Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 1:05 PM EDT.

 

 

The Pitch:

Angelica Reigns is the first solo series of the SFC Comics line. SFC is a world of super powered sports entertainment. These solo series are a chance to get to know the characters outside of the ring.

The Story:

Angelica is trying to establish a life outside of the shadow of her mother’s cult and Qakare’s power. She’s a young woman in a new city making new connections. All of that is put on hold when she becomes prey to a secret society called, The Faith. They are a faceless, timeless, and secret organization with roots that go back to the crusades. Their mission is to bring purity back to this world. They have ways to track and monitor dark magic. 

John’s Thoughts:

This one has the feel of maybe a Buffy style of story for Angelica. A young girl, fighting against supernatural forces bigger than herself, and, from the looks of it, has a couple of friends to help her on her travels. Consider me intrigued by the overall idea.

In addition, the work Federico Sabbatini is doing on the various images they’ve shown on the Kickstarter page are very nice, almost as if someone took a series of animated cells from a tv show or movie and put them on the page.

From Angelica Reigns #1 – Art by Federico Sabbatini & Colors by Chiara Miriade

The Rewards:

A couple of things they are offering that are a little above and beyond what you normally might expect at such lower levels is a 30 minute Google Hangout with the writer of the series ($30 Level). I could see that being not only an interesting conversation to pick his brain for a bit, but maybe even gain some insight on further learning the craft of writing comics (if one was so inclined). At the $150 level in addition to print versions of the books, you get a 1 hour Google Hangout.

Many of the comic Kickstarters have the idea of “putting you in the comic”, but Angelica Reigns might be the first one to make you “a major character in Angelica Reigns 2-4” ($500 Level). I’m thinking that if you ever wanted to be the villain, but didn’t want to deal with all the jail time… this might be your chance!

From Angelica Reigns #1 – Art by Federico Sabbatini, Colors by Chiara Miriade & Letters by Brant Fowler

The Verdict:

Looking over the Facebook page, they’ve hit upon some interesting cross-promotion with a couple of other Kickstarters (The Untold and Knight), both of which are holding their own Kickstarter campaigns right now. I love the idea of Indy creators banding together to raise all boats as opposed to treating each other as competition. Let’s get those stories out there and told!

***

For more information on Angelica Reigns or the rest of SFC comics, check out their Facebook Page here.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

 

Just Remember Me When

Sometimes these things take time. And by the time I mean way too long to actually have passed before a story leaves your head and hits the page. And sometimes you can ensure a speedier process by just outlining and sitting butt in chair. But sometimes the finish line is so close that it completely eludes you. There is nothing to do but wait patiently while it all comes together.

That’s what happened yesterday. A couple of years worth of thinking about possibly, maybe we can, no we can’t, what’s it missing, what does it need? When will it be finished?

Yesterday Courtney and I released our second Veronica Mars Amazon Kindle Worlds Novella! You can find it right here!

Because much like Pringle’s, you can’t just write one story in the Veronica Mars universe and be completely satisfied. There are too many possible characters to write about. When our first novella came out, I wrote about it here. In that, the character of Max was not only the easiest choice, but it felt like no one else would immediately use her for their own stores. This time around if you are writing during season 1 or most of season 2, you can’t avoid the character of Duncan Kane. He’s Veronica’s on again/off again boyfriend. Yet, at times you really don’t know what’s going on in his head very much. To both of us that presented an opportunity to maybe see what makes this character work or not.

No biggie, just hanging out with the Ghost of my dead sister.

His parents are controlling. His sister was murdered (and for a while, it looked like he might have been the culprit). He is best friends with the guy is now dating his ex (and rooming with the guy).The reason this one took longer was that the core story came so easily. Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).

There some complex stuff going on in there. Add to that the summer sessions between seasons make for decent fodder in the “I want to know what you did last summer” vibe.The reason this one took longer was that the core story came so easily. Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).

That said, the reason this one took longer was that the core story came so easily. Which seems counter to how this whole thing should work.Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).

“Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).”

Pretty straight forward, right?

What happened was we wrote 90% of it and then couldn’t quite figure out what the missing 10% was. Some of it was massaging what we had, but some were to add in new scenes, try some different kinds of story-telling in the B story with his therapist sessions.

What we have now is something we’re both very happy with. I’m interested to see how it does in comparison with the first one.

An excerpt from the novella:

You’d think she’d care a little bit more about what happened, but the woman is unbreakable. It is always about appearances with her. And right now, she can’t go to any of the dinner parties without the looks of pity from everyone she knows. She can’t spin it, so the next best thing is to remove herself from the equation until enough time has passed that it doesn’t matter anymore. Some new scandal will reveal itself and things will return to her version of normal.

She tries to make it all about me, but truthfully, it’s all about her.

Her image.

Her social class.

Her life.

I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes it’s better to sit there and remain silent. And then there are the other times. “Don’t you think the justice system might look poorly on Dad leaving the country given the obstruction charges?”

Her look is a mixture of astonishment that I‘d even bring up her husband’s temporary incarceration, and her defense mechanism immediately deflects. “Don’t worry about that. That’s why we pay our lawyers the immense fees.” Then, without missing a beat. “Now go pack. I want to leave early in the morning.”

“No.”

“No?”

“No.” I’m sure it won’t matter. She never listens. “I’m staying. I have classes. Finals.”

“Didn’t you hear me; you can do all of that over the computer.”

“No.”

“Duncan. This isn’t a request. You will-“

“I’m tired of being handled. That’s all you do anymore. I’m not sure if it’s because you feel guilty about how Lilly didn’t follow in your footsteps or what? Do you think if you control every little thing I do then nothing bad can ever happen again?”

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

 

The Good Place – A Review

A little show premiered last Fall, and I have to admit the only reason it initially showed up on my radar at all was because of Kristen Bell’s casting. Since my house is a decidedly Pro-Kristen Bell place, there was no debate – it was simply added to the DVR. Then we waited until it magically appeared one night and watched what unfolded.

For those that didn’t see it or can’t remember what it might have been about… I’ll help to fill you in. Mrs. Bell plays Eleanor. Eleanor is having one of those good news/bad news type of days.

The bad news is that she’s dead.

The good news is that she ended up in the Good Place (Heaven, Nirvana, Paradise, etc.).

So while things are a bit confusing, she comes to find out that The Good Place is a place where not only is everything you might have ever wanted right at your fingertips (seriously, check out the flavors of yogurt they have access to!), but you also get paired off with your legitimate soulmate.

However, the twist is that a mistake has been made – Eleanor is not the Eleanor they think she is. No, somewhere in the universal mainframe she got swapped into the spot. So now she has to figure out how to keep up the ruse that she actually is a good person so she can stay.

Because if they find out… the Bad Place awaits (and no one wants to go there).

Luckily for her, her soulmate, Chidi, is an ethics professor. Which means that he is her voice of reason when so many times she just wants to dwell in those less than admirable qualities.

Sadly for Eleanor, being good is a lot of work (and lots of reading homework).

Ted Danson plays Michael, the “architect” of the little community they’re set up in. He is great as the part angel, part community organizer, and part naive grandpa, stumbling along to help foster those people who need it the most. Yet, this is his first opportunity to create a community and for some reason things are going sideways. Sinkholes open and trash falls from the sky for seemingly no reason. We all know this is because of Eleanor’s presence. She’s “ruining” a good thing.

Somewhat simple enough premise which allows for a myriad of little stories to be told about the trials and tribulations of fighting against your own nature. I say simple, but that’s not entirely fair. With such concepts as Heaven and Hell being tossed around, the show does an excellent job with its core tenet:

Can a person really change who they are? Fundamentally do people ever change in any lasting way? And if you change for selfish reasons, do your acts mean anything in the grand scheme of things or not?

Somewhat strange for a TV show to even pose such thoughts. Most of the time shows survive based solely on their illusion of change when no real change for the characters ever really stick. Heck, something like Seinfeld was exactly that in a nutshell. Those were people who were as despicable in the last episode as they were in the first episode.

Superhero comics have this same problem. How do you write about a character for over 50, 60, 70, or even 80 years without them changing in some ways? And if you do have any big changes – will your audience accept them?

The Good Place obviously builds its central conflict around this, and as we learn more about Eleanor, the less likable her life really was. Selfish, mean-spirited, focused on herself to the detriment of anyone else. The viewer is put in a position where we want her to succeed, but in that success we are going to find ourselves without a TV program to enjoy down the line.

It’s a fun show and does well with the ideas presented on a weekly basis, ending on cliffhangers which makes it feel more like a drama than comedy. And had it not been for the big twist at the end, it would have been a show Courtney and I would have continued to watch probably without mentioning it to other people.

The end of the season changed that.

SPOILERS TO FOLLOW

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Seriously, if you are going to watch the show… don’t read anymore. If you need a little more convincing, however…:

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THE GOOD PLACE — “Everything Is Fine” Episode 101– Pictured: Kristen Bell as Eleanor — (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

As things begin to spin more and more out of control, Eleanor reveals that she is not supposed to be there to Michael. And when it is decided that a pair of our main characters will be forced to go to the Bad Place in order for Order to prevail… an argument ensues. It is then Eleanor has an epiphany:

They aren’t in the Good Place… they are in The Bad Place.

Mind… Blown.

Like I said above, the ending changed the whole show for me. It shook up everything we knew. And it made it so that the second season will be very different. If they were never in the Good Place… will there be any reason to truly be good?

I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to the answer.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Kickstart the Comic – Route 3: Vol 1

Full disclosure – I might have some interest in Route 3’s Kickstarter succeeding. Robert Jeffrey is not only a collaborator on this very site, but is a writing partner and good friend. I have watched him grow into his own as a writer over the years, and I have see how much sweat and blood he’s put into Route 3. This isn’t just a comic for him. This is a story he’s been dying to tell for some time.

With this Kickstarter, he’s going to get his chance.

***

Route 3: Vol 1

From Terminus Media

Robert Jeffrey II – Writer

Sean Damien Hill – Artist

Omi Remalante Jr – Colorist

Ann Siri O’Brien – Colorist

Kickstarter campaign ends on Sunday, June 18, 2017 at 3:50 EDT.

 

The Pitch:

We are raising funds primarily to get the completed collected edition, Route 3 Vol. 1, printed.

Let me repeat this:

THE BOOK IS FINISHED. COMPLETE. IN THE CAN.

The Story:

Route 3 is a super-powered road trip from hell. A Stone Mountain, GA teens finds out he’s been granted with a set of spectacular abilities, that he knows nothing about. He’s now on the run from a wide array of folks in a sort of super powered arms race across the Southeastern United States. Explosions, gunfights, telekinetic feats of awesomeness, and a little personal growth are all thrown into the mix.

An explosive scene of action from Route 3 #3. Pencils/ inks Sean Damien Hill. Colors, Omi Remalante

John’s Thoughts:

If you look at the top of this page you’ll see Robert’s name alongside my own. If you look on the Terminus Media Facebook page you’ll no doubt see our fingerprints all over the place. I’ve known Robert now for over a decade. This project, this book, has been one he has clawed and scrapped and promoted and talked about and… this list goes on and on. This book is a piece of him. When the last issue was completed, there was a joy there that can’t quite be fully explained. It’s like finally crossing a finish line after years of hard work.

However, the path of the indy comic creator is full of pot holes. Money runs out, print runs don’t happen, and you’re constantly torn between this odd thing of people devaluing your work (“It costs how much!?!”). This Kickstarter will help push the comic to a place where it can start funding itself… hopefully into an issue 4 and 5 and 6 and…

The Rewards:

The Kickstarter is for the first trade of the series which collects issues 1 through 3. There are the options to get either a pdf or the print version sent to you. At the $40 level a couple of digital prints become available. At the $75 level there is a limited opportunity to not only get Route 3, but you can also get a physical copy of Radio Free Amerika’s trade (which Robert co-wrote) (at the time of this writing there were only 7 of these left available).

If being drawn as one of the mercenaries is more your style, there is an opportunity to do just that at the $300 level.

The Verdict:

What’s that saying? The biggest no-brainer in the history of the world? Yep, that’s what this is. Not only is it Robert, so I’m supporting it, but I’m wondering if I can get him to throw in a special print or something… 🙂

Seriously though – so many comic book Kickstarters are looking for funds to even come into being. That is a different kind of crapshot as you can never be 100% sure the book is going to be completed. This is a FINISHED trade. All this money is going to print costs just so that he can get this out there and into the hands of the people.

Plus, he’s tired of the question – How can I buy the trade?

***

For more information on Route 3 or the rest of Terminus Media’s comics, check out their Facebook here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

20 Things I’ve Learned at Concerts

Thinking I’m 25 again last week, my wife and I went to see concerts on back to back nights. A Perfect Circle and Soundgarden. Very different vibes at both shows (obviously), but I realized that over the years no matter what band it was I saw there were a number of “truths” I’ve experienced again and again.

1 – The “I Pre-Gamed Way Too Hard” Category

You should do what inspires you by singing (shouting along), swaying in place, jumping in the pit, or even dancing like no one is looking. It’s one thing to “Feel the Flow”, and it’s another to “flow” right into your neighbors. Especially if they are not currently anywhere near a pit… and you’re just drunk or high or both.

 

2 – The Hazards Of Having Seats On The End Of The Row

Look, I get it. This is your first night out in forever. The kids are up your ass all the time, the boss is up your ass the rest of the time, and you just need a night out. So you and a couple of friends head to the show, grab a beer and settle in for-

Excuse me.

Right, gotta get a refill. I understand. Especially since you’re getting one for your buddies as well-

What’s that? You’re only getting one for you? And as soon as you get back and I’m back engrossed in this song, your buddy is going to tap me and try to get by.

OK… but that guy is going to come back with a beer for your other friend right? No? Just one for him? And you’re saying he’ll interrupt my favorite song, clearly seeing that I’m REALLY belting out the song, thus completely pulling me out of the moment?

Yeah, no worries.

Dick.

 

3 – The Guys Who Think They Are Literally Anywhere Else Other Than The Concert

You know who I’m talking about. These assholes are standing 5 feet away from you carrying on the deepest, truest conversation anyone has ever had before. They are totally engrossed in just being there for each other, no matter what is going on with the band.

Good of you to spend $70 each to do something you could have done at Waffle House.

 

4 – Everything Happening On My Phone Right Now Is Way More Interesting Than Live Music

Obviously this has only been an issue since the turn of the century or so. I mean, how in the world did old Grandpa ever get by without checking their Twitter/Facebook/Whatever feeds?

Again, Great use of your money. Next time you give me half, and we’ll go outside, and I’ll kick you in the balls, and we’ll call it a day.

OK?

5 – Oh, You Didn’t Know? I Am A Famous Director

You know what is awesome? When you see a show and then later own it. It allows you to truly relive the experience and listen to it over and over again.

You know what is NOT awesome? When you have your phone up in a way that I can’t see the show in front of me. All because you have to have a really poor quality video of the whole concert apparently.

 

6 -I Like To Swim, Into The Mosh

No matter what the band, if the music is heavy enough, and there is room to be had – it is very probable a Pit will be formed. With the appearance of that natural phenomenon comes another absolute:

There will always be some asshole who thinks the Mosh Pit is a way to try and hurt someone.

You know the guy. He’s the one who made sure to go out and buy steel toed boots “just because” and now he’s trying to destroy your kneecap.

The worst part is he probably isn’t even a fan of the band at all.

 

7 – Wait… Wait… Wait… What’s Happening!?!

No matter how far away you position yourself from where you THINK the Pit is going to form, you will be completely wrong. It is an unpredictable beast set to engulf you in its wake.

You have been warned.

 

8 – Sometimes Being Tall Sucks, This Is One Of Those Times

If you are tall you will be asked to help everyone up to start crowd surfing. Work out in the weeks leading up to the show otherwise you risk the chance of looking like a complete dick when the person can’t get two feet off the ground.

 

9 – Always Looking For An Opportunity

That said, if you are a woman and want to crowd surf then ask away. I don’t know of anyone who has refused to help a female “up”. However, you must steel yourself against the hundreds of sweaty hands which will grab you all over.

And I mean ALL OVER.

10 – Whelp, That’s It. Go On And Save Yourself!

When someone goes down in the Pit you’d think that’s the end for you. There are dozens of feet prepared to curb stomp you into oblivion, but that generally doesn’t happen. There is always 5+ people will immediately move to help you up.

Except for the asshole looking to hurt you – stay away from that guy.

 

11 – I Wish They’d Played Only Songs No One Knew

You know the person. They want to make sure you know the third song in the set was actually a B-side from their original pressing of the second album only available in Germany.

But you know a girl, so you’ve had it forever.

 

12 – Why Won’t They Just Let Us In? That’s The Rule! They Go, Then I Go, Then…

No matter how state of the art the venue is – getting out of the parking lot is still going to suck.

 

13 – Hey, I Know That You Didn’t Buy A Shirt Inside

Not saying you should give money to the bootleg t-shirt vendors… you want to support the band you came to see.

But I will say my Metallica shirt from 1994 might have been the best $10 I’ve ever spent.

 

14 – Philosophy According To The Band

Weed is the reason for sperm… according to Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle, Pusifer).

Make of that what you will.

15 – Your Tiger Style Is No Match For My Miller Style!

There is clearly a martial art style waiting to get invented. It would be based strictly on being able to navigate a concert without spilling your beer. I mean, I’m not a drinker, and it’s damn impressive.

 

16 – My Pyrotechnics Never Burned Anyone!

Strobe lights are annoying most of the time.

Seriously. Less is more in their usage.

 

17 – Yes, That Is My Tent Set Up Over There. No, I Don’t Have Anything Better To Do.

Hey, look at you. You stood in line for hours beforehand all in the hopes of getting right up front when the doors open. And you did it!

Your punishment for standing right at the barrier is being crushed by the mass of people behind you.

Hope it was worth it!

18 – Dance Puppets! Dance!

I get it. You have played for the last hour or possibly hour and a half. You are parched. The drummer is about to pass out from exhaustion. The guitarist is destroying his fingers with every note he plays. The bassist has vibrated his body so he is in an alternate reality.

You clearly need a couple of minutes to compose yourself before you finish melting my face off with this concert.

Just don’t make us beg. Don’t make us clap like well trained seals for you to come back out. We want you to play more songs, otherwise we wouldn’t still be here.

Encores are weird.

 

19 – I Will Not Be Trapped With The Rest of You!

Who the hell are the people leaving the show early? Who are they? Why did they spend the money? Why did they come at all? What is going on anywhere else that should make you think:

Yeah, this was a pretty good show. But you know what would make it even better? Leaving before the band does!

I just don’t get it.

 

20 – Without Fail

There is always going to be some asshole who shouts out “Play some Skynyrd!” If you’re lucky, the band will oblige him for a few seconds.

But only for a few seconds.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

A Tale of Two Concerts

So there are two big concert experiences (with regards to song choices):

One is play only your hits. Maybe you sprinkle in some of the old stuff, the deep tracks, but you’re playing the big songs and the newest songs from your latest album in order to support it.

The other option is when maybe this is a tour where you don’t have a new album to support. Maybe you don’t have to be beholden to a strict set list. Or perhaps you are working on a new album, but nowhere near close enough on most of the songs.

This is a case where the catalog really opens up and you can truly reach back and plat those songs older fans haven’t heard in a long time and newer fans have never heard in concert.

Last week I got a taste of both…

An aside – With Pearl Jam being my favorite band, the idea of a unique set list is not strange. In fact, with their shows I’m normally the asshole who wants to hear some random track 10 from one of the lesser known albums. I want the deep cuts more prominently than the more casual fan is not going to have heard or understand.

Night One: A Perfect Circle

This is a band situated firmly in my top 5 bands, but it’s been 13 years since I’ve been to see A Perfect Circle. Life, tour dates, and them not really existing for a good portion of a decade were all contributing factors. That time they were indoors, with people hanging from the ceiling, and other oddities that are somewhat commonplace when you’re dealing with a Maynard related band.

This time around they were at the Verizon Amphitheater in Alpharetta, Georgia, where after having been to only two shows, is fast becoming a household favorite. Great sound, relatively easy to get into the venue (getting out is a little more sketchy, but so is just about every other venue I’ve ever been to), and there is just something about an outdoor show as the sun goes down.

We arrived in time to hear one song from the opening band… which I didn’t catch the name of. I normally don’t mind trying to get in a little early just to catch those bands. So many shows over the years have introduced me to some solid music.

Our seats were about 7 rows behind the general admission orchestra area (which was probably about 10 rows deep if full). Around us were a handful of empty seats… probably another symptom of not putting out music in so long. Strangely, we were told repetitively that the band did not want any pictures taken. In 2004, that might have been something you could control with cameras not installed in every phone (maybe? I honestly can’t remember), but in 2017 you can’t really put that genie back in the bottle. Still, ushers did stop a few people, and I’ve read about others being asked to leave.

We’re rule followers, so no worries there.

The show itself was amazing. APC is one of those bands where I don’t have tracks I skip. As to their set list, I use my wife as the go-by, and she commented after the show she was surprised by how many songs she recognized. Overall, they played their hits, a couple of covers (John Lennon’s Imagine making an appearance – an always welcomed addition), and even sprinkled in a pair of new songs.

The only odd thing about the new songs was the placement of one of them to close out the show. Normally I’d think you’d want something to bring down the house – a song everyone knows and has been waiting for. Instead, we get a song that maybe a handful know and the rest just get to experience. Just an odd choice.

Though, I do think once I get to hear it enough, I have no doubt it will be a quality track to use in that capacity. It certainly had that feel.

Night Two: Soundgarden

Lollapalooza 1996 is the last time I’ve seen Soundgarden. Again, helped by the dissolution of the band for over a decade, I missed the tour they did with King Animal back in 2012/2013. And I might have missed this one had it not been for the venue.

The Fox Theater brings an assortment of memories for me beginning with seeing Top Gun there with my parents and being astounded by the audience interaction with the film. Catcalls during any of the numerous guys with their shirts off scenes, cheers whenever Tom Cruise did anything great, and more clapping when the movie ended. The Theater is topped off by seeing Pearl Jam back in 1994, which I’ve talked about here.

Yet, I’ve only seen one other band at The Fox and it happens to be Soundgarden over 20 years ago. Now here was a chance to see them again in the same venue… a no brainer.

We actually arrived early enough to see The Pretty Reckless open. Given XM Radio and the Octane channel, I recognized a couple of songs. Courtney mentioned actually wanting to download some of their stuff. I’ll be interested to see how the album fills out past the release songs.

As to Soundgarden, you couldn’t ask for a more different pair of shows. Where APC’s light effects were more colors and mood based, Soundgarden is a rock band with their influences spanning from arena rock bands to DIY punk rockers – so the lights were an assault at various times throughout the show. But the biggest difference was the song choice.

Apparently, their 1st full album was rereleased in the last couple of months. It makes for a perfect excuse to dust off those old school songs. And I gotta think if you are a fan from waaaay back in the day, your song bucket list managed to get a lot shorter as they opened with 3 straight songs from that era. Which is great… except I don’t own that record. I start with Badmotorfinger and continue from there.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the hell out of the show. They pretty much hit upon everything I’d have expected them to play, but it was a little unexpected.

Though there is nothing like hearing Fell on Black Days live. It’s my favorite song of theirs no matter what form it takes.

***

Two bands. Over 4 hours of live music. Great venues.

Extremely tired come Thursday morning.

Worth it.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Kickstart the Comic – The Few and Cursed #3

I love Westerns, but I’m not always sure comics love them. Much like Hollywood where their heyday was long before I was born, now it is a trickle here or there. Again, it’s lucky that Kickstarter exists to allow some of these genres a little opportunity to shine.

Of course, this one might be more of a post-apocalyptic western…

***

The Few and Cursed #3

From 321: Fast Comics

Felipe Cagno – Writer

Fabiano Neves – Artist

Dinei Ribeiro – Colorist

Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, May 19, 2017 at 11:59 PM EDT.

 

The Pitch:

She has no name, no home, and no family, just a title: Curse Chaser. Water on the planet has been gone for seventy years and mankind has been reduced to a handful few perpetually living in hell.

And no hell is complete without its demons.

People will do anything to survive. When their lives, their children’s lives, when their world has no chance, that old and forgotten evil curse seems pretty reasonable, it’s just that much easier to strike a bargain with the Devil.

But not under her watch.

The Story:

The Few and Cursed is a post-apocalyptic western set in an alternate 1910 where monsters and the supernatural roam the wasteland that is now Earth. Going from town to town, crossing the oceans in horseback, the Redhead is the only variable possible of balancing the scale.

John’s Thoughts:

First, I have to be honest, the title grabbed me. Without knowing anything else, it caught my eye and made me click on the Kickstarter. From there, the setting and genre drew me in, and then the artwork finished the deal. On top of all of that I feel somewhat fortunate to have them already on issue 3 – it means that I’ll immediately have 2 issues to read once the campaign is over! And again, I have to note that it is amazing when you have the opportunity to do just that. Where missing that initial issue (or 2 in this case) isn’t the end for a potential reader.

One other thing about having those other two issues fund through Kickstarter… the 321: Fast Comics guys clearly know what they are doing. The first and second issues originally funded for about $16,000+ each. This one already reached their initial $6000 goal in the first 48 hours and looks like it will outpace those earlier campaigns.

What that really tells me is they not only provide a great product people have come back for each time.

Artwork by Fabiano Neves From The Cursed and Few #1

The Rewards:

Since you might have missed out on the first couple of issues, there is an assortment of both digital only and print + digital rewards to completely catch you up on the comic. As you move up the ladder, there is the opportunity to grab their anthology 321: Fast Comics Vol 1 & 2, a sketch book featuring Fabiano Neves’ art, or even a chase to get some of the variant prints they’ve done for all the issues.

For those with a little more money in their pocket, the $150 level offers an opportunity to get some original Redhead artwork.

The Verdict:

Given their track record with this series (and a couple of other ones as well), plus the interesting idea, and gorgeous artwork… this one is a no-brainer. And if you were on the fence at all, they provide you with an assortment of preview pages from issues #1 and #2 to help sway you completely.

I already locked in to get my digital copies of the first 3 issues!

Artwork by Fabiano Neves From The Cursed and Few #2

***

For more information on The Few and Cursed or the rest of 321: Fast Comics, check out their Facebook Page here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Behind the Artist – Interview with Antonio Brandao

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

What’s exciting about doing comics is that you are going to get to work with multiple artists as time goes on. With each, they bring their own experiences and talents to a project in ways you couldn’t begin to predict beforehand. If your lucky they not only design and bring your words to life, but sometimes offer you a view on a character you didn’t even know was there.

I’m thankful to have worked with Antonio Brandao on Gilded Age issue #3.

***

How long have you been creating art/working in comics?

I’ve been working full time in comics since 2008.

At what point did you sit down and decide to become an artist?

At some point I was working in graphic design and started doing some work in comics. The comic work started to increase to the point where it was impossible to keep both doing both, so I decided to chose my life time dream to become a comic book artist.

Have you had any formal training?

I had a few classes related to art in my graphic design course. Other than that no formal training.

Gilded Age Issue 3, Page 1 – Pencils/Inks by Antonio Brandao, Colors By Nimesh Morarji

What’s the first thing you drew?

My first professional work was a penciled 2 issue mini to an independent publisher.

What things inspire you to create art?

I always loved to draw so it comes naturally. I guess everything inspires me.

Favorite artists/creators? Influences?

My favorite artists… let’s see… there’s a lot! From the “classics” John Buscema and Byrne to Mignola, Oliver Coipel, Stuart Immonen,… too many to reference here.

How do you manage your daily life with the art? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2? If you have the old day job, what do you do? Do you do anything to market/promote yourself?

It depends. Sometimes I have some small side projects, and I have to limit my time working in comics but usually it’s a 9 to 5 thing. Unfortunately I don’t promote myself that much. Only the occasional sketch in my FB page.

What’s your process? Digital vs. by hand? What do you prefer?

Traditional all the way. Blue pencil, pencil, ink.

How do you work? Music while you draw? TV shows? Movies? No distractions?

I put some Youtube documentaries running. I guess I learn some stuff while drawing.

What have you worked on previously?

A lot of independent projects for some small publishers. Some private submissions for some publishers. A bit of everything honestly.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your art? Regarding comics, are there things that draw you in, something you see or read where you must put your own spin on the story/character?

I like to believe that I’m a versatile artist, and I tend to avoid repeating elements in my work. It might happen though…possibly unconsciously.

I always like to give my own spin to a character. Make it mine, without ignoring previous versions if they exist, of course. I especially like visually interesting characters. Something to make me push my limits.

Gilded Age Issue 3, Page 5 – Pencils/Inks by Antonio Brandao, Colors By Nimesh Morarji

Do you have a favorite thing to draw (genre, scenery, etc)? Least favorite?

I love to draw fantasy stuff, maybe because I’ve read a lot of Conan’s stories from John Buscema when I was young. My least favorite is the “slice of life” kind of stories.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world?

I’d say that the most challenging thing is to make your work appealing enough, sometimes in very limited time, to attract new projects and keep your head above water financially. It’s a worldwide market, and your art must stand out. Managing several different projects at the same time is also very challenging.

Developing a work ethic is hard.

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

Draw.

Now draw more!

Practice makes perfect.

Don’t waste so much time.

What is your worst habit?

I drink and sometimes smoke.

Comic book wise, I sometimes tend to procrastinate things.

Gilded Age Issue 3, Page 10 – Pencils/Inks by Antonio Brandao, Colors By Nimesh Morarji

Goals? One year from now? Five years from now?

I’d like to make the jump to some big publisher in the next couple of years. Have some financial stability.

For the Gilded Age, you did the third issue of the comic. Had you ever done any Steampunk styled things before?

Nope. And I haven’t since. I must say that I loved the experience.

I think it’s because of your art that I now have to come up with a story for Vanessa (the Wolf-Girl). She comes across as so playful, I’m not sure if I knew that about her 100% before I saw her appear on the page. Did you have anything that surprised you once you finished a page?

Thanks!

I think that some characters get a life of their own in my head sometimes. It happens unconsciously… probably some hint I pick up when I read the script. Sometimes this gets reflected in the pages I draw. I only notice it when I review my work, and I see the character’s growth from the first pages to the last.

What are you currently working on?

I’m doing a 10 pages’ sci-fi story. A story for kids with super heroes and another sci-fi story for a Kickstarter.

Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show?)?

I love cinema! I think it relates a lot to comics. I also like going out with my friends and I’m an avid keeper of reptiles. Geckos to be specific.

Do you have a Bio that I can post at the bottom of the article? Best place to see your stuff on the web ( website)?

Well, I’m an artist/father, 39 years old. I was born and live in Lisbon, Portugal and I’ve been working in comics for almost a decade now. I grew up reading Marvel comics trying to imitate my favorite artist so I guess that my dream was to work in comics since I was a child.
I’ve been fortunate enough to do that for these last few years.
You can check my work at http://toze-barnabe.deviantart.com/

***

I want to thank Antonio for taking the time to answer all my questions. I’m always humbled by the skills artists provide my words to create something more than any of us could do alone.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Behind the Comic – Terminus Team Up #2

 

Terminus Team-up #2

Writer – John McGuire

Pencils – Shamus Beyale

Inks – Rich Perrotta

Colors – Ann Siri

Letters – Khari J. Sampson

Editors – Tony Cade & Robert Jeffrey II

***

And as I wrote in the intro, I cheated a little with this comic. You see, the point of the Team Up books are to present the character Amber Fox interacting with various other Terminus Media comic books. Issue #1, written by our own Robert Jeffrey II, had her interact with Terra Force.

(And by interact I mean try to steal something from them and pretty much have the whole team hunting her down.)

Issue 2 it was suggested that Amber Fox come to the Gilded Age.

Pencils – Shamus Beyale, Inks – Rich Perrotta, Colors – Ann Siri

I wasn’t exactly behind that idea. Not that I’m against the idea of having other characters pop up in my comics, but more that I wasn’t even sure where to begin with such an idea. At its core, The Gilded Age is a steampunk comic book where the technology level is late 19th Century for the most part. Amber Fox is from a future where she can effectively teleport, she has laser knives as her primary weapon, nanites travelling through her body… how in the world can I possibly make something like that work and not just feel…

Out of place.

This was an opportunity. Not only to tell another story, get another Gilded Age “thing” out there, but to find a way to do it that I was happy with. And like so many times when I’m not sure what to do about a writing related problem – I focus on something else. Allow my mind to work on the problem “behind the scenes” for a bit.

I don’t know where the solution came from, but I hit upon the solution for my problem. It would focus on the Time Traveling aspect of Amber Fox, but from more of a HG Wells inspired way. Looking at the cover above, you can get a good idea of what I might be talking about.

More than that, this needed to have something else. A reason for the story to exist beyond “hey wouldn’t it be cool if”.

From Amazon:

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

This story is not necessarily about her.

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

This comic is about beginnings and endings…

Think about Time Travel for a moment. What would you want to see?  A question pondered by fiction writers and scientists. And if you were a scientist looking at the end of the century? Could be that endings might be on your mind. And here is this woman with the ability to show you things you didn’t even know you wanted to see.

Things started falling into place. There was just one last piece: Shamus Beyale, the artist for the book. Since he came on the book as I was still working on the rough draft I thought it might be a good idea to see what things he might like to draw. I gotta think the worst thing for an artist is to hate drawing something like horses, and then reading the script where every panel apparently has a horse in it.

And bless Shamus, he came up with the last piece of the story. He mentioned how there was a “sense of death in the story” and he’d “like to see right before the end of things/eras”. End of the dinosaurs, Pompeii, the end of the neanderthals… all of this was just golden stuff and was tying the book together in a way hadn’t expected.

But he had one more… something that had a personal connection to him. From one of our emails about the project:

“The next thing would be something related to my culture. I’m Navajo and our people went through a genocide of sorts called the Long Walk. Although our culture didn’t end with it, we barely survived.”

Page 19 – One of the Long Walk Pages

It’s something I wasn’t even aware of, but once I read a little about it, I knew we needed it in the comic.

***

More than anything, Team-up 2 served to remind me of the truth about comic books: That nothing is done in a bubble. You have collaborators, reach out to them and see what can get them jazzed about doing a story your constructing. Hopefully, it makes them feel as much ownership of the project as the original creator has. In the end, you will have a stronger final product.

And something you can all feel proud of being a part of.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

The Baby Whisperers

My mother did a good job of not letting her day job come home with her. Considering her patients (and after reading her thoughts below) that takes a strength I’m not sure many people possess.

***

The Baby Whisperers

By: Mickey McGuire

I have a love-hate relationship with my chosen nursing profession. Since 1978, I have been a nurse in varying capacities and a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) nurse since 1987. I have observed and experienced much anguish, grief, joy, relief, and complete elation caring for other human beings as they have faced minor or life-threatening illnesses or circumstances. Needless to say, this is a profession which has given me countless rewards for my efforts in providing care and comfort to the sick.

It has also been the profession which has completely sucked the life out of me on many occasions.

NICU nurses are a rare breed. I have not met a NICU nurse on this planet who genuinely does not love babies. This is not an area for any nurse who cannot deal with difficult people, specifically the parents. Let’s face it- who wants to hear a baby cry for twelve hours or have a parent question everything that you do? In their minds, their baby is the sickest and demands the most attention in any unit. The number one problem in the NICU is the lack of control for the parents. Everything in their carefully planned pregnancy has just gone out the window with their baby being admitted to an intensive care setting, and I, as the NICU nurse, represent the failure of their dream.

Believe it, when an infant is admitted into a NICU, he or she needs the intervention. Something has gone terribly wrong with their transition away from their mother’s body- whether it is simple transitional support for the term infant with what we call a “whiff of oxygen,” prematurity that requires support until they can sustain their bodily functions on their own, or a life-threatening congenital defect that requires surgery. For all the thousands of births that occur, 90% require no presence of a NICU team. We as NICU nurses deal with the other 10% every day.

Yesterday, I had a father hug me twice- once when he arrived and once again before he left. He wanted to make sure I knew how much he appreciated my words on the first day of his baby’s admission- my reassurance and my no-nonsense approach. I have cultivated my no-nonsense manner mostly as a survival tactic in the trenches- high adrenaline environments, time to cut through the bullshit. Tell them what they need to know in the simplest terms possible; they barely hear the first sentence anyway. Be assured you will have to repeat the same things over and over. Lastly, I am not going to let you hold your baby until he or she is stable- get over it. It seems I have morphed into this sixty year old grandmother NICU nurse who does not intimidate easily.

Recently, a father accused a coworker of “not caring about their baby,” and “only doing this because of the paycheck.” I can tell you there are much calmer and more sane ways to get a paycheck. There are numerous occupations available to make a salary larger than a nurse’s. By the way, he didn’t have that attitude the next day when I cared for his baby. The timing was right for him to talk about his feelings, and I let him. Comprehending their lack of control, that was a perfect example of parents’ saying nasty things in the heat of the moment.

In the past few months, I have seen two babies born who had died in utero and could not be resuscitated. I was part of that NICU team who attended the deliveries and helped run the codes. There are no words that suffice explaining the heartbreak in these situations. I was not the nurse or physician who had to tell the parents their baby could not be brought back. Everyone applauded what an outstanding job the team did, but that praise felt hollow connected to the outcome of the parents holding their dead baby. Do I internalize it? Of course I do, but not as much as twenty years ago. With age and experience came a protective wall for my psyche.

“The baby whisperers-” that is who we are. We are the ones who can calm a crying baby with a whisper in their ear- a little Sweetease and a pacifier doesn’t hurt either. We are the eyes on the babies twenty-four hours a day and the advocates for the infant to the neonatologists when a change has occurred that requires their inspection. We are the advocates for the baby when their parents want to pluck them 24/7 thinking that heals them. They need rest and quiet, not constant patting and going googoo- gaga over them. It is a delicate balance to speak for the baby and avoid offending the parents. They sometimes get angry, and, generally do, no matter how nice you are as the bedside nurse.

We are the advocates for those dreaded drug withdrawal babies, which I might add, are increasing weekly at alarming numbers even at centers with upper middle class clientele. There have been very few weeks where we have been blessed with the absence of that particular infant population. These are the babies who may cry nonstop for twelve hours. They may vomit and poop at every feeding and jerk uncontrollably until they are wrapped in our signature NICU nurse “burrito” fashion. Their parents are always a pain in the ass. They are the most magnificent manipulators in the world of nursing. If you want a course in manipulating people and the system, sit back and watch an addictive parent at work. Being a nurse to a withdrawing baby is probably the second worst scenario to deal with, second to a dying baby. Many times we have been accused of trying to keep babies against the parents’ wishes. I can assure you- I do not want to keep your crying, irritable offspring one moment longer than I need to!! Those are the days when self-medicating upon arrival to home is generally necessary- addictive behavior facilitating more addictive behavior to the health care professional. An occupational hazard, some of the worst addicts are nurses, physicians, and respiratory therapists- whether it is alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes.

I will probably hang up my nursing hat for good in the next five years. Long gone are the actual days when we wore nursing hats- how hideous! Long gone are the days of wearing white uniforms and white shoes- white+blood never a good thing. That path of where the “ways cross” in 1974 led to a nursing career which has spanned almost forty years.

Would I encourage others to become a nurse? Absolutely! There is no other profession where you will feel the connection with humanity on such a visceral level.

Would I discourage others from becoming a nurse? Yes. You must realize as a nurse you will feel depleted and raw and drained and sad and happy and elated and burned out and frustrated and angry and sick and kind and compassionate and bullied and intimidated and incompetent and efficient. You will become all of these things.

When my grandson Logan was born, I helped my son and daughter-in-law adjust to new parenthood for a few days. One particular trying night during a breastfeeding attempt and Logan becoming increasingly frustrated, I took him out of his mother’s arms and calmed him, put him to her breast, and he nursed. She said, “What are you, the baby whisperer?”

Yes, that is exactly what I am.

***

Mickey McGuire is the mother of published author John McGuire, a registered NICU nurse, retired high school teacher, an artist, and passionate student in this game of life.

My Favorite Pearl Jam Songs

This past Friday night Pearl Jam was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Look, I don’t know what that really means. Every year bands and artists are inducted and I have that moment where I go:

“Wait a second… aren’t they already in there?”

Coming up with various 80’s and 90’s rock bands, I have my own biases about who should be in the Hall (how is Slayer not in the Hall? Or Iron Maiden? Or Alice in Chains?)

Anyway, I’ve certainly written about my Love Affair with Pearl Jam before wherein I talk about how my obsession began with them. I’ve written about some of the Lost Gems with those songs people would like/love, but who appear a little deeper on the album. And how one of their shows still holds a place in my Concert Top 5.

But these are the songs that make the difference for me in loving vs. liking them. These are the songs I could listen to over and over again.

Black (Ten 1991)

Might as well start with the biggie. I’m a sucker for sing-a-longs at concerts. It feels like in that moment the distance between us and the band has been reduced to nothingness. That with the lyrics being sung back to the band we are somehow a part of the band. We are the chorus.

We are the song.

Black is an easy song to love. The song that Eddie Vedder didn’t want to make a video of. It almost defies being anything more than just another track on the Ten album. How dare you want to exploit this personal song?

But that’s not how music works. That’s not how art works. We put these things into the world and then expect that those things are still ours… and sometimes they are for a time. But there is always a point where you can no longer claim your art and you must allow it to live in someone else.

And so when we sing along in concert to the lyrics. When we scream at the top of our lungs “I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life, I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky.” When we cry out with every bit of anguish we’ve ever felt “But why, why, why can’t it be, can’t it be mine!”- that’s when we claim the song as our own and no one’s else.

Come Back (Pearl Jam)

The spiritual successor for their breakout cover of Last Kiss. This slow melodic tune feels like one that could have been played at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, evoking more feelings of that time.

Anyone who’s ever experienced the loss of a loved one can attest, their ghost remains with you. Room to room, objects, smells, sounds… everything and anything will conjure up memories.

Another song about loss, but also about hope. Hopefulness that even though the loved one is gone, they aren’t quite so far away. That the veil between worlds can be pierced.

“The real possibility I may meet you in my dream… I go to sleep.”

The worry that the song of their life might evaporate with time. These memories we take for granted, slipping away.

“If I don’t fall apart… will the memories stay clear?”

The two songs probably aren’t related, but for me it continues that story. And while the one may have halted… it is not over by any means.

 

Corduroy (Vitalogy)

I’m a lyric guy first… most of the time. But it is in the beginning of this song, that slow build up from utter silence, the drums kicking in, and then Eddie’s voice cuts in:

“The waiting drove me mad”

I’ve read about what the song is about. That by this point in their career their image had been appropriated by the masses. This was the time where you could buy the same clothes they wore, for only a mark-up of hundreds on top. Their images were used at times without their permission.

Things had begun to spiral out of their control.

“Everything has chains… absolutely nothing’s changed.”

I hear this line and I actually hear “Everything has changed… absolutely nothing’s changed.”

This album came out during my first quarter of college and if ever a line summed up my own feelings, it was that one. You are suddenly away from home, somewhat on your own. You are supposed to know exactly what you want out of your future. What do you want to be when you grow up is no long only a question… it is what you are in the process of becoming.

And yet… am I that different from who I was only a few months before? When I was still in high school and preparing to graduate? Am I equipped to make these decisions?

State of Love and Trust (Singles Soundtrack)

Back when you weren’t sure what might be coming from a band you listened to, every new soundtrack was scanned to make sure you hadn’t missed something. Singles was one of those movies that I liked when I saw it – though, I’m not entirely sure I understood everything they were trying to convey. But the soundtrack, that was something entirely different. And had it been a cassette and not a cd, I might have worn it out.

That Breath and State of Love and Trust were on the album was the icing. And while we were still in the “Ten” era, State didn’t feel like “Ten” to me. It was a fast, in your face attack.

“And I listen for the voice inside my head

Nothin’, I’ll do this one myself”

Did I learn something from this? Was I using it to channel some kind of teenage rage?

Maybe? Ah, probably not.

“Oh, help me, help me from myself.”

I just think I liked the beat.

 

Rearviewmirror (Vs.)

I would say this is one of their “driving songs”. There may not be one on every album, but there are a handful where you can just put them on and not think about anything other than the stretch of road in front of you.

I would say this is one of their “driving songs”, but it isn’t.

It is THE DRIVING SONG.

“Time to emancipate”

When you are a teen and get your license, then you are free. It doesn’t matter if you need to go around the corner, or you are searching out some place far from home. You get in the car and go. You can forget about life for a little while. Forget about whatever problems are currently on your plate.

And sometimes, just sometimes, you can drive as far as possible in hopes of seeing if there is an end in sight out there.

“Saw things clearer… once you… were in my… Rearview Mirror!”

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Behind the Artist – Interview with Sean Hill, Part 2

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

Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with artist Sean Hill. The first part can be found here.

***

How do you work? Music while you draw? TV shows? Movies? No distractions?

I tend to listen to an enormous amount of YouTube videos while drawing, Or maybe an audiobook. I remember getting through The Song of Ice and Fire series that way. It’s something about sitting down and doing a numbing activity for hours on end while having information spoken in your ear nonstop that just kinda soothes me and helps me focus.

Art by Sean Hill

Do you have a favorite thing to draw (genre, scenery, etc)? Least favorite?

My absolute favorite thing to draw is samurai stuff, a close second is anything urban punk. It’s just a lot to work with for someone like me that gets wrapped up in details and the last thing would be DC or Marvel comics heroes. And I love figure drawing, there are so many different nuances to capture in so many angles that I can really get lost in in and never come out of it.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world?

There are many, but for me personally it’s perception of the comics industry. When I was growing up I the 90’s we had Image comics and it changed everything. It made comic artists look like rock stars. The industry was making money hand over fist and young impressionable artists like me didn’t understand that this was an exception. That most comic artists don’t make it like this, and that even the most successful artists are spending most days and nights slaving over a drawing table. I don’t think I understood the amount of work that goes into this, and how much those artists that came before me or before Image had sacrificed to make a living at this. When I was young I wanted to work for DC or Marvel and I still do, but I don’t think back then I appreciated the difference between drawing characters for the big two and doing something for myself. Now I weigh those things out everyday. 

Art by Sean Hill

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

1st some girl advice then I would him to start focusing on that comics dream now. Honestly at the time I had no idea what to do with art until I was 27 years old. When I started dating my wife I wasn’t doing anything and at the time I had no drive too.

Also I would tell myself to work hard, it’s better than anything. Always be the hardest worker in the room. In life you will always see people smarter, more talented, more connected but consistent hard work beats all.

What is your worst habit?

That’s also a long list but to narrow it down for comics stuff it’s video games. My wife recently got me a PS4 for my birthday and it’s crazy distracting 

Goals? One year from now?

In one year I want to be almost finished with the first chapter of a personal project I’m working on called Nazareth. I don’t want to giveaway too much of what it is but it’s basically a retelling of Christ story with a heavy Sci fi/ fantasy aspect and drawing from the historical social and political issues of the time.

Five years from now? 

In five years I would like to have it published and still working freelance for publishers as well

You did the art for the Gilded Age Issue 4 which is a story that mixes a bit more fantasy with the Steampunk aspect of things (With Charlie taking on a supporting role). How was it to contrast those two things within the framework of your art? 

I really like steampunk though I’ve never drawn it much before. As I was doing my research for the style I was really inspired by the design and attention to detail. As far as mixing the style with fantasy, it’s actually quite freeing in a way. Whenever you develop a style that becomes a genre (because people start telling stories in that particular style) it can become a paradigm. But I think fantasy has a more organic design sense (or at least my interpretation of it does) allowing me to kind of start from a definite place with the art and storytelling but then know I can meddle with it quite a bit and not be afraid of making mistakes.  

Art by Sean Hill – From Gilded Age 4

I know I was blown away by the pages you were turning in, with the last couple being absolutely heartbreaking… did you have any pages that you really had fun drawing or perhaps any characters?

I think I really liked drawing Charlie, he’s such a huge character with this still and settled peace and strength in him. He has such an integrity that can eclipse everything else going on almost like his big bulky frame eclipsing everyone and everything else in a room. 

What are you currently working on?

As for current projects. I’m currently helping out with the Evil Heroes book for Zenescope and doing some Indy work with Jaycen Wise creator Ureaus. Also doing something with artist Mshindo Kuumba, and still chipping away at Nazareth.

Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show?)? 

Hobbies are pretty simple for me, I love weight lifting and video games, I’m already working on my passions with drawing comics, I teach the Bible to middle school students at my church and  Game of Thrones is still one of my favorite shows to watch

Do you have a Bio that I can post at the bottom of the article? Best place to see your stuff on the web (website, Instgram, Deviant Art)?

Yes indeed most of my work can be seen:

http://nazirstudios.blogspot.com/?m=1

https://m.facebook.com/sean.hill.777/photos?ref=bookmarks

https://www.instagram.com/seandamienhill/

***

I want to thank Sean for taking the time to answer all my questions. His artwork and skill have made The Gilded Age all the better for them.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Behind the Artist – Interview with Sean Hill, Part 1

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

Sean Hill is an artist I’ve had the pleasure of watching grow into his skill. When I first encountered his artwork on Route 3 #1, he was clearly talented, but as he completed each subsequent issue… you could tell that his confidence in his craft was also developing. Of course, it didn’t take long for others to notice as well.

Lucky for me that he had some time, and I had a 4th issue of Gilded Age needing an artist.

Sean took some time out of his busy schedule of conquering the comic book world to answer a few of my questions.

***

How long have you been creating art/working in comics?

I’ve been drawing since I was about 6 or 7 years old. My grandfather (Otis Hill) would draw sometimes for me and he would encourage me to practice it myself. He’d take me to comic stores sometimes and I would try and emulate some of the work I saw in those comics and some books my mom had at home. 

As far as drawing comics though I think it’s  been about six years now ( time flies) my girlfriend at the time ( now my wife) was going to school for animation and she really encouraged me to draw comics since I would always say I used to want to.I think my first gigs were for Saint James comics ( now defunct ) and Terminus Media‘s Amber Fox vs the Terra force. I kinda miss those characters now that I think about it I still sometimes get the inkling to redesign those characters and redraw that book.

HaHaHa.

From Gilded Age #4 – Art by Sean Hill

At what point did you sit down and decide to become an artist? Have you had any formal training? What’s the first thing you drew? 

I remember when I was 7 being a huge fan of Knight Rider and the old Superman movies. I was obsessed with trying to draw them and make it as perfect as I could. I’m not really sure if I ever wanted to be anything else other than an artist. It just seemed like one of those natural callings I guess. I remember looking at that old Levi’s commercial with Rob Liefeld, it was my first look behind the scenes of how comic artists made comics. I think when I saw that though I realized what type of artist I wanted to be.

 What things inspire you to create art? Favorite artists/creators? Influences?

There are a lot of things that inspire me to create, movies, fashion, real life people and places, all that stuff as far as artists the list gets pretty extensive. I think of all the things that do keep me creating there are a few artists that are consistently in my head all the time.

#1 is Bernie Wrightson, I was exposed to his work as a little kid, my mom had The Stand by Stephen King, and, of course, all the illustrations in that are by Bernie.

The other is Gustave Dore from Paradise Lost, another book my mom owned and a lot of Wally Wood and Frank Frazzetta pen and ink work. Also artists like Mshindo Kuumba, Ivan Reis, Todd Mcfarlane, Eddy Barrows, Lewis LaRosa, the list goes on and on.

How do you manage your daily life with the art? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2? If you have the old day job, what do you do? Do you do anything to market/promote yourself?

I honestly am really loose with the time management thing, most times I keep in mind that I have to do certain amount of pages in a week and I just try to get that done as best I can. Sometimes the deadline is really tight and I have to become more organized but more often than not I find consistency is far better than being a great time manager. If your consistently showing up at the drawing table to get work done it can be better than managing your time well enough to know you might have only two hours to draw for one month straight but you loose steam somewhere In the middle. I find if I just keep showing up at the table and just relaxing a bit about time and just focus on the work, it gets done eventually and most times on time.

The hard part is though this is not my 9 to 5. For that I’m an Inventory manager at an art store and I have a job as a husband to my wife and then from 10 to 3 or 11 to 4 in the morning I’m a decent comic book artist that’s managed to trick people into paying me to draw for them.

As far as promotion I’m admittedly an introvert, I’m quiet I don’t call for a lot of attention really, but I do rely on social media for promotion of my work though. It’s just apart of being in a creative field, you just have to show people what you’re doing in order to get work. I’m mostly on Facebook or Instagram but I sometimes use twitter and blogger as well.  

Sean Hill’s Route 3 Roughs

What’s your process? Digital vs. by hand? What do you prefer?

My process is  really simplistic, I start most of my stuff in my sketchbook. I keep an 11 x17 moleskine sketchbook it’s really big to carry around but I tend to anyway. When I get a script or just doing cognitive storytelling for myself, I get a business card and trace out 5 pages across my moleskine page throughout the entire page. This gives me about 20 pages I can thumbnail on one sheet. I start my thumbnails out pretty tightly, I try to get as much detail as I can and try to really flesh out as much as I can. The more I do at this stage the less I have to do on the final artwork. During this stage I’m referencing as much as I can and trying to get a flow for the story. Once that’s done I use my phone to take pictures of all the thumbnails and upload them to Dropbox or e-mail them to myself or whatever. 

Sean Hill’s Not so Rough Route 3

After that I’m at home and in Manga Studio, I open a story folder with as many pages as I need. From there I drag and drop each thumbnail picture into every corresponding page and start on the pages. 

Drawing the actual page is pretty simple as well, I used to do some pretty tight penciling and then ink my stuff but it was taking forever and as I got more comic assignments I became a little more confident in my inking, I no longer rely on such tight pencil work. As a matter of fact, because it’s digital, I don’t even bother using a pencil brush. I make a new layer over my thumbnail, and I make both layers blue. I drop the opacity on the thumbnail and start roughly sketching over it. When the roughshod are satisfying, I jump right into the inks. When I’m inking, I tend to noodle around a lot and most times it causes me to draw a lot of unnecessary lines but it’s fun, and I’m kinda like going on the fly with the inking anyway.

Cover by Sean Hill & Fran Gamboa

What have you worked on previously? 

I finished some Route 3 a bit ago, and I have been chipping away at a personal project for a while now. I got the chance to do some covers for Zenescope Entertainment’s DeathForce series and also Hellchild : the Unholy. I also got the chance to work on Grimm Tales of Terror: the Monkeys Paw and some DeathForce covers .

Cover by Sean Hill

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in you art? In regards to comics, are there things that draw you in, something you see or read where you must put your own spin on the story/character?

Three books come to mind that I really felt like I had an obligation to tell this story right, and I felt really connected to. 

#1 Dark Shaman a four part mini series I did for Zenescope, it was about a long dead Native American Shaman who comes back from the dead to seek just for his dead tribe. He start trying to kill this group of college students vacationing in a cabin. Two of those college kids are native themselves and I really enjoyed how the main hero had to get in touch with her culture and roots to over come this Shaman. It dealt with a lot of issues some natives go through with cultural identity. It’s difficult to live in a modern world we’re the culture you should know is either at worse ignored and at best appropriated. 

#2 is Route 3, and again it’s because of identity. The character of Sean Anderson is trying to find his place in the world and is conflicted with the loss of his Mom and the fact he just doesn’t fit in to “black culture” all that well things only get worse when he finds out he has destructive powers he can’t control yet. But it gives him an opportunity to make his place in the world. I can identify with that being s quite kid growing up in “the hood” and not fitting in all that well 

#3 is gonna be The Gilded Age, I though the dynamic between the main characters was interesting and seeing how they dealt with their conflicts was both really entertaining and really heart breaking, but in real life many of us have been on that emotional roll a coaster 

As far as adding things into stories, I think I am more often doing it nowadays then when I first started. I used to have this notion that the writers vision must be adhered to at all times, but I truth comics is a collaborative effort and everyone is gonna bring something unique to that story and that’s fine as long as it services the story. 

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Sean’s work can be be seen:

http://nazirstudios.blogspot.com/?m=1

https://m.facebook.com/sean.hill.777/photos?ref=bookmarks

https://www.instagram.com/seandamienhill/

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I want to thank Sean for taking the time to answer all my questions. His artwork and skill have made The Gilded Age all the better for them.

Part 2 of this interview is available here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Kickstart the Comic – Sorghum & Spear – Book One

Every couple of weeks I journey to my local comic book store, pick up an ever-growing stack of comics, rinse and repeat. I have to keep reminding myself as an independent comic writer, that there are others struggling to get their voices and stories heard. Many of them have turned to Kickstarter to do that. So I am challenging myself to keep a look out for any comic books that catch my eye.

This week is one I’ve been looking forward to for a little while.

***

Sorghum & Spear Book One

From Greene County Creative

Dedren Snead – Writer/Creator

Timothy Geathers – Art Director

Welinthon Nommo – Exterior Art and Concept Design

Kickstarter campaign ends on Monday, April 17, 2017, at 7:00 PM EDT.

 

The Pitch:

When I first started researching this project, I imagined my mighty warrior goddess, Namazzi, holding a spear high to inspire her people as they charged into battle. As I created the mythos of the Eternal Realm and the first arc began to take shape, I wanted to relate my world with something that was symbolic to much of the story; something analogous but not obvious.

I liked the idea that sorghum is an ancient and powerful thing that originated from Africa; a gift that was shared with the world. The ability of sorghum to not just survive outside of its homelands but to thrive in other cultures and civilizations, eventually becoming an integral part of their legacies unveiled a mystical attribute I saw not just of this indigenous crop, but of the indigenous people it represented as well.

The “recipe” of Sorghum & Spear is that every character in our tale is growing and blossoming into something new.

The Story:

Sorghum & Spear is a fantasy saga that follows a group of amazing young girls who are called upon in a time of war to become the last line of defense against the SPORA; a pantheon of demons bent on destroying their people and conquering the Eternal Realm.

John’s Thoughts:

I first heard about Sorghum & Spear about 4 months ago when the creator, Dedren Snead, sat in on a Terminus Media writing afternoon. He had all these beautiful images of these powerful African women holding swords and bows and weird staffs with skulls adorning the tops. There’s magic and there are demons.

I don’t remember if I peppered him with tons of questions or just waited until he gave out little bits and pieces of information. Either way, I was hooked on the idea. Of course, then he broke the news to me that an actual comic book I could buy off of him right then and there did not actually exist… yet. He’d been building up to it, hoping to release a Kickstarter in the Spring of 2017 and… well, look what time it is.

The Rewards:

This Kickstarter is for the first issue of the comic book. In addition to some of the more standard reward levels (screen savers, pdfs and print copies of the book, as well as an 11×17 Glossy art poster), this Kickstarter has a couple of interesting ties to its origins with one level getting you 50 Heirloom Sorghum Stalk seeds and another providing you with a Namakula Wrist Bracelet showing you have contributed to Project Have Hope (who provides sustainable support and economic freedom to women in Uganda by offering their handcrafted jewelry on their behalf).

At some of the higher levels, there is also the opportunity to have your likeness drawn into the book as an “official Marduri villager”. And for those wanting a little bit more information about the world itself, at the $75 level you can get a 22-page print copy of Marlannah’s Hand Journal… really allowing you to immerse yourself in the world and the upcoming storylines.

Do you dare read the book?

The Verdict:

I was a day one contributor. It’s my hope that not only does this Kickstarter fund, but that it drives Dedren and Timothy and Welinthon and everyone else over there at Greene County Creative to put out more issues and, dare I say it, that Animated Series he’s teasing.

***

For more information on Sorghum & Spear – Book One, check out their Facebook Page here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

 

Kickstart the Comic – Delilah Blast #1

Every couple of weeks I journey to my local comic book store, pick up an ever-growing stack of comics, rinse and repeat. I have to keep reminding myself as an independent comic writer, that there are others struggling to get their voices and stories heard. Many of them have turned to Kickstarter to do that. So I am challenging myself to keep a look out for any comic books that catch my eye.

After a few light weeks, I’m ready to see what might be available.

***

Delilah Blast #1

From Evoluzione Publishing

Marcel Dupree – Writer/Publisher

Joel Cotejar -Artist

Ramon Burge – Colorist

Marco “ETDollman” Della Verde – Letters/Production/Edits

Kickstarter campaign ends on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 9:52 AM EDT.

 

The Pitch:

I came up with Delilah Blast in 2010 after listening to a Do Something by Britney Spears and Science by System of a Down. Once the idea was sparked, I spent a lot of time to develop the character because I felt like at the time there was a huge lack of strong female characters that depended mainly on their wits. After I mapped out the story, I wanted to make it all ages because at the time there weren’t many all ageas comics besides Tony Titans and Billy Batson and Power of Shazaam.

I met Joel on Digital Webbing, he agreed with my feelings. The 2 of us talked and spent time crafting a world that has elements of steampunk, 50’s scifi and post apocalyptic genres.

The Story:

Science runs the world and the Earth is governed by the E.S.A, the Earth’s Science Association. Everyone is allowed to join the organization on their sixteenth birthday, but unfortunately for Deliah Blast she oversleeps, missing the entrance exams and putting her dream in jeopardy. However, when another opportunity to achieve her dream presents itself, Delilah is more than willing and ready to take it, even if it means going to a dangerous alien planet to retrieve obscure technology that could change the world and Earth forever.

Artwork from Delilah Blast by Joel Cotejar

John’s Thoughts:

I’m constantly lamenting the fact that there aren’t enough people wanting to put all-ages comic books out there. I recall a Heroes Con a couple of years ago where I had to tell various parents with their younger kids that my table just didn’t have anything “age appropriate” for them. And while I’m sure they appreciated my honesty, I came away from that con wanting to find a way to do a comic for those fans.

Sadly, I haven’t managed to do that just yet, but it seems that Marcel Dupree and Joel Cotejar decided to take matters in their own hands!

The Rewards:

This Kickstarter is for the first issue of the comic book. As such, there are the standard pdf version of the comic as well as the physical copy for those more tactile inclined. T-shirts, wallpaper, and trading cards also make an appearance with each increase.

One of the things that I really like is as you go up the Rewards ladder, there includes an “Ultimate Edition” where you not only get the regular issue and backup story, but you also get to see the scripts and layouts. As someone who likes to see how the sausage is made, this often allows the reader in on some of the things which don’t make it to the page.

As you continue up the path, a couple of options stuck out to me, at $90 you get some Delilah Blast goggles – always a cool idea for Steampunk related cosplay. But the big one, the breakout, might be the $100 Best Friend level, where in addition to physical and digital versions (audio as well!), you get a “hand made Tikki Plushy”. That is a little bit of genius.

A plush toy of this guy. How cool is that? Artwork from Delilah Blast by Joel Cotejar

The Verdict:

These guys seem to be doing something to not only reach out to the younger comic readers, but also have some clever ways to potentially push their product down the line. And this is a great chance to get in on the ground floor!

***

For more information on Delilah Blast #1, check out their Facebook Page here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Ode to Azaleas

Sometimes we forget that our parents were once teenagers as well. Everything always seems like it could only ever happen to you personally… but we all struggle with the same things.

***

Ode to Azaleas

By: Mickey McGuire

February is supposed to be the month for lovers. Even though this is now March, I wrote this as a special tribute to all those young couples out there grappling with the intricacies of modern relationships. However complicated the relationship is, it still boils down to that famous line in the movie Notting Hill by Julia Roberts to Hugh Grant:

“I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her.”

By the beginning of seventh grade, I was a towering 5′ 10” with a size 11 foot. In a classroom of boys who were at most five foot nothing, I had virtually no prospects for any of those boys I had grown up with showing any romantic interest whatsoever… unless they wanted to stand on a stool to give me my first kiss.

Sometime during the fall of that school year, a new boy moved into our community and joined our class. He was ruggedly handsome for a seventh grader, blond with blue eyes, soft-spoken, and TALL- probably six foot. I cannot pinpoint in my memory when I realized he was interested in me. I had a peculiar feeling before Christmas break he was actually staring at me and smiling once in a while. All that break I was giddy with excitement of the remote possibility there was a boy who actually liked ME, not the other girls in the class.

Once we returned to school after break, it was obvious the interest was a reality- we were a “couple.” My first real crush would last all of the remainder of seventh and all of eighth grade. The definition of being a “couple” was quite different in 1969- 1970 than it is today. Our relationship consisted of looks, smiles, occasional hand-holding, sitting near each other, and passing notes. Even putting his arm around my shoulders on the bus was met with stern looks from our teacher.

One spring morning I walked into class to my desk and found a gift so unexpected that I still tear up thinking about the sweetness of the gesture. There on my desk lay a huge bouquet of the most beautiful pink and white variegated azaleas, still dewy and fresh from just being picked from his mother’s bushes. Thinking back on that moment, I realized then I might be special- worthy of his attention as well as others with bouquets and promises and happiness and romance.

I did not marry my first crush. He wasn’t even the boy who would give me my first kiss behind the piano at our eighth-grade dance. His father left his family for a younger woman sometime during eighth grade. After that, he just wasn’t the same. Of the four children, I think he suffered the most from the desertion and added responsibility being the oldest. He would eventually drop out of school, get in trouble with the law related to drugs, and wander aimlessly from one relative or part-time job to another. Occasionally, our paths would cross throughout my high school years; we would date a few times, and then he would disappear again.

I have thought of him often and wondered if he found happiness. Through the grapevine, I heard a few years ago he attended his grandmother’s funeral in our hometown. He had married and had five children as well as a whole slew of grandchildren. I was happy for him- such fond memories of our summer afternoons together in my living room listening to 45s on my stereo- “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress,” “Layla,” the Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, Chad and Jeremy-a sweet boy who would eventually figure things out- always kind, polite, nonjudgmental, never a mean word.

Yes, he eventually did kiss me right there dancing to those 45s.

I wished him well then and now. I wonder if that 14-year-old boy knew how special his gift would be that spring morning- a bouquet of dew-filled azaleas for his 13-year-old sweetheart. That morning she understood sweetness and spontaneity between a boy and girl and a promise of potential happiness in the future.

That giant of a girl would find her mate years later in college, have three children and a happy life. But that morning, the gift of those azaleas would be her first and most special memory of young love- that simple gift of flowers representative of innocence, simplicity, tenderness, and acceptance.

***

Mickey McGuire is the mother of published author John McGuire, a registered NICU nurse, retired high school teacher, an artist, and passionate student in this game of life.

Behind the Artist – Interview with Nimesh Morarji, Part 2

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

Last week I started conversing with Nimesh about how he got his start in comics and got some insight on exactly how he sees his job of coloring in regards to telling a great story. This week we get into his work on The Gilded Age #3.

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Do you have a favorite thing to color (genre, scenery, etc)? Least favorite?

I do believe my colors works very well with SciFi, but I personally prefer History periods like Medieval, Western, SteamPunk. But this genre is a bit tricky, so me coloring this, the editors need to want clean shiny colors over muted muddy colors. My least favorite, I think, is working on a book where you don’t have any chance to be creative, to work on a book where, let’s say everything is established and all you need to do is to copy what’s been done.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world?

This one is a hard one. I do believe that today you can do whatever you want (well, in the past too, but now it’s more “easier”), so I will say the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world is Yourself. You are your own obstacle I guess.

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

I think I needed to go a little more back and say “Internet”. In the future there will be this thing called Internet and provide everyone with more chances to do what they want.”

But if I had to go 10 years back I would say that the time I’m wasting learning 3D as a shortcut for not drawing is a complete waste of time. GO LEARN/IMPROVE ON DRAWING instead.

What is your worst habit?

Wondering off on social media. Dammit, that thing will get you!

Goals? One year from now? Five years from now?

My main goal is to make the Comic book industry my main profession. I’ve been working with Indies and I’ve been blessed with the money that it’s coming from this. Also I’ve been learning a lot. My goal for one year from now is to have a bigger client Rolodex that keeps me busy. And from 5 years from now I want to have worked for at least one book on Zenescope and Dynamite and I want to have clients enough to make me give up my regular job and just do comics.

Gilded Age #3 Art – Antonio Brandao Colors – Nimesh Morarji

You did the coloring for The Gilded Age Issue 3 which has a dream sequence to start things off. It’s one of my favorite things in the issue, and I love how you really mixed in some of those darker greens and the red eyes following/chasing Hanna only to wash it away with the knight shows up. How did you land on that color scheme not only throughout that scene, but then contrast it against the rest of the issue.

I’m glad to hear that you like it, I also love that sequence and I do use that sequence as portfolio piece.

After reading the script and looking at the pages I noticed how this 3 pages contrast even artistically. For page one and 2 I wanted to showcase Hanna’s horror and the first thing that came to my mind was Nightmare on Elm Street. I went to see some scenes of the movie and I noticed that when Nancy (the girl from the movie) was dreaming and thus entering the Freddy realm things looked ugly, cold and disgusting. With the third page where the knight shows up I noticed that the artist made this shiny look to it and the first thing that came to my mind was a classical Disney Prince charming thing.

So I tried to translate this 2 feeling (the horror/disgust and the Prince that saves the day) in to colors. I believed the green on Hanna trying to escape would bring that disgust looking feel and it would contrast beautifully with the red glow of the monster while the next bright blue tints page would shine of readers face and evoke that prince charming saving her.

This was a unique scene on the book so I had to be very careful on my color choices because I couldn’t do it again in the book or the effect would be invalidated. So I’m extremely pleased to know that you felt that.

Did you have any favorite pieces within the issue you thought came together exactly the way you had envisioned?

Oh, yes, Page 5, Flashback scene. The muted colors worked very well in there in my opinion.

Also, page 10, that last panel, it’s so beautiful. The Artist drew it so well and with the colors laid down I do believe the reader feels Vanessa’s loneliness at that moment. It is a dramatic panel that I still today look at and feel the sadness.

Gilded Age #3 Art – Antonio Brandao Colors – Nimesh Morarji

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a Project for Wayward Raven Media called Balloon World and I already have lined up to start coloring O Lusitano the first Portuguese superhero and 2 more projects that I can’t name yet due to NDA’s.

Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show?)?

If you guys could check out the Western themed comics that I’m creating that would be awesome I guess.

😛

I´m making it available in WebComics format on nimprod.com and you can read it for free (shameless promotion, I know).

I’m currently spending all my free time on coloring comics and practicing drawing as I’m going to draw my comic later on too but sometimes I take a break and watch some movies, TV shows and read Comics. Westworld is definitely a must watch, are any of you watching it?

Where’s the best place to see your stuff on the web (website)?

Best place to see my stuff probably is my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nimeshmorarjiart/ where I post Works in Progress, process, and final pieces.

***

Nimesh also provided a little Bio:

My name is Nimesh.
I’m from Portugal and I’m a self-taught ComicBook Colorist. Currently I’m working in a freelance basis.

In my 3rd year coloring professionally, I’ve worked with publishers, such as Terminus Media, WayWard Raven, and Arcana. Titles that I’ve worked on includes: Carlton Harvey’s Soul of Suw, James B. Emmett’s The Committee, and Chuck Amadori’s Pale Dark.

With a background in illustration, I’m aware of how color can impact a story and my vision is to help creators bring dimension to their worlds. 

***

I want to thank Nimesh for taking the time to answer my questions. And I definitely appreciate his contributions to helping bring The Gilded Age to life.

And make sure to check out his Western Comic at nimprod.com.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Behind the Artist – Interview with Nimesh Morarji, Part 1

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

 

As a writer of comic books the first question people like to ask (after “so you draw the comics”) are – how in the world does that actually work? So many times those same people are completely taken aback by how many hands and fingers touch a comic book page before it becomes something they can see. Even then, it is a bit of magic.

I, personally, think one of the unsung heroes of the industry are the colorists. I’ve been fortunate to work with a couple of good ones in regards to The Gilded Age. So I reached out the colorist on the 3rd issue, Nimesh Morarji, to see if I could get a better handle on just what made him tick.

Gilded Age #3 Art – Antonio Brandao Colors – Nimesh Morarji

***

How long have you been creating art/working in comics?

I would say I’ve created art as long as I remember. As a toddler we all do art I guess :P. But professionally I’ve been working in comic since 2013.

At what point did you sit down and decide to become a colorist? Have you had any formal training?

I’ve been wanting to develop my own comic book since around 2005. It’s a western themed book where Women take the lead in a shared universe. My ability to draw at that time was very limited as I gave up drawing a long time ago. So around 2005 I was trying to develop my comic using 3D software like Poser, and I learned a bit of modeling on Maya and 3DS Max, but the results never satisfied me. It always looked very stiff from what I wanted to do. Then after some frustrating years of learning Max and Maya, I started to look other options.

Digital Painting was starting to be a thing and lots of artist were posting stuff about it. I fell in love with what they were doing, so I started to learn that. Comics started doing digital coloring as a norm and comics were my true passion. I believed that with what I learned with digital painting could help me focus on digital coloring, I could always get some gigs and with that money I could hire artists do draw my comic, and I could color it.

It sounded like a perfect plan in 2010, After this amazing *cof* cof* cof plan set up, I saw a DC comic book colorist making some online course available with opportunity to One on One while we were doing the classes, so I decided to invest on that.

What’s the first thing you colored?

The first thing I colored professionally? I think it was The Almighties from Actuality Press.

What things inspire you to create art? Favorite artists/creators? Influences?

I think Movies, TV Shows and books inspire me, I like to be entertained so I love to entertain as well. Favorite Artists in coloring are Marte Gracia and Justin Ponsor. I love the way they use bright saturated colors and make them look “real” with great use of lighting and the ability to tell the stories with colors. I will never forget how Gracia did a shock scene in ALL NEW X-MEN by showing the characters in black and white. I loved it.

I think it’s safe to say that Alex Sollazzo, Gracia, and Ponsor are my influences.

How do you manage your daily life with the art? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2? If you have the old day job, what do you do?

My daily life is extremely busy to be honest. I gave up a lot of things in my life to work on this. Since I was a kid (we are talking on the 80´s here, and yeah I’m old)I dreamed working in the comic book industry, but here in Portugal there isn’t such industry. So, at one point I shifted to the movie industry but my family never believed that the entertainment industry would fit me as they wanted me to carry on the family business (being a commercial person or economist and stuff like that) so they pressured me to not pursue what I wanted.

I caved in and did what they wanted.

After living unhappy all my life doing things I didn’t care for or liked, I turned my back to everything to start over and do stuff that I wanted, so now with 3 years of professional career I’m betting all my chips on this and so far I can’t complain.

I do have a day job while I’m moving up on my career as a Comic Book colorist and coloring/working in this industry is what I want to do.

Do you do anything to market/promote yourself?

To Market/Promote myself I usually post my stuff (as projects allows) on social media, DevianArt and such.

What’s your process like when you are preparing to color a comic? How do you make sure that you are enhancing the artwork?

I don’t believe that the colorist job is to enhance the artwork, I do believe that the colorist job is to help tell the story with colors. Creating a mood in a panel, making the reader feel the shock that the characters are feeling or making the reader feel the fear of the scene happening. This is what I believe the colorist is there for: to help tell the story.

My process usually is, read the script and take some notes of important dramatic things happening on the story then I do research. I go online and try to see some still images of movies or tv shows that tried to convey that drama, what they did, how they did, and I analyze all that. I like to color when I have all pages ready cause this way I can lay down colors on those important moments to help me set the mood of the book and create a guide line for the rest.

Gilded Age #3 Art – Antonio Brandao Colors – Nimesh Morarji

How do you work? Music? TV shows? Movies? No distractions?

I prefer watching streams. I know, it’s odd. watching people work while working, lol. But yeah, I love to hear other artists talk about their experiences in life of art and that motivates me to work instead of wasting my time going on Facebook and such.

(to be honest, you will find me more on social media when I’m at my regular day job rather than when I’m working on comics :P)

What have you worked on previously?

On comics? I started on a webcomic dedicated to Marvel’s character called NOVA, and then I worked on the Almighties. After that I met Chuck Amadori online and it led me to work with Isle Squared Comics on a couple of titles and later they helped me develop my Western comics. Wayward Raven Media got me for 3 of their titles (currently finishing on one of it) and Terminus Media. Along all this I worked on 2 or 3 titles for Portuguese comics. I’m currently coloring the First Portuguese super Hero title (I believe it’s issue 5) and did some work for Arcana Anthology as well.

It’s been 3 crazy years going from my regular job to sitting on the computer and coloring comics in my free time.

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

I try to avoid doing the same over and over again and on coloring its hard because even though there are millions of colors not all of them work well together. But I guess there are Blue/Orange colors that I keep doing most of the time, but I try to do more.

***

This is only the first part of my conversation with Nimesh. Check out Part 2 next week.

***

Nimesh also provided a little Bio:

My name is Nimesh.
I’m from Portugal and I’m a self-taught ComicBook Colorist. Currently I’m working in a freelance basis.

In my 3rd year coloring professionally, I’ve worked with publishers, such as Terminus Media, WayWard Raven, and Arcana. Titles that I’ve worked on includes: Carlton Harvey’s Soul of Suw, James B. Emmett’s The Committee, and Chuck Amadori’s Pale Dark.

With a background in illustration, I’m aware of how color can impact a story and my vision is to help creators bring dimension to their worlds. 

***

I want to thank Nimesh for taking the time to answer my questions. And I definitely appreciate his contributions to helping bring The Gilded Age to life.

And make sure to check out his Western Comic at nimprod.com.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

You Got Time Travel Mixed With My Steampunk!

This past week, Terminus Media debuted digital copies of their Team Up books: Terminus Team-Up #1 and #2.

Yours truly wrote the second issue.

Pencils – Shamus Beyale, Inks – Rich Perrotta, Colors – Ann Siri

From Amazon:

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

This story is not necessarily about her.

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

This comic is about beginnings and endings…

***

You can download it from Amazon here.

And don’t forget about issue #1, by our own Robert Jeffrey II, here.

 

Kickstart the Comic – Vessels #2: The Traitor and the Bear

Every couple of weeks I journey to my local comic book store, pick up an ever-growing stack of comics, rinse and repeat. I have to keep reminding myself as an independent comic writer, that there are others struggling to get their voices and stories heard. Many of them have turned to Kickstarter to do that. So I am challenging myself to keep a look out for any comic books that catch my eye.

The great thing about these Kickstarter projects is that many times even if you missed issue #1, they make it very easy to catch up.

***

Vessel #2: The Traitor and the Bear

From Card Shark Comics

Dave Cook – Creator/Writer/Publisher

Rafael Desquitado Jr. – Artist

Dennis Lehmann – Colors

Micah Myers – Letters

Kickstarter campaign ends on Sunday, March 5, 2017 at 8:19 AM EST.

The Pitch:

Vessels is the brainchild of comic writer and multi award-winning video game critic Dave Cook AKA Car Shark Comics, and is a love letter to RPG gaming – most notably the From Software series Dark Souls.

It stars Wake, a gifted warrior with the ability to enter the realm of dreams and bend it to her will. She and her comrades G’Dala (a skilled mage) and Marillon (a master thief with a motor mouth – like Deadpool!) and tank-class D’Saahl set off to halt the imminent death of their world.

However, the laws of reality are breaking down as the Veil seeps into the waking world. Logic, physics and time are becoming convoluted, with weird and deadly effects, such as the giant teddy above which falls from the sky in issue #2.

The Story:

Our hero – a legendary warrior named Wake – and her companions G’Dala and Marillon must travel the land to halt the decay of reality itself, and unravel the mystery of the Vessels – five bloodthirsty knights hell-bent on stopping Wake from completing her goal.

John’s Thoughts:

One thing the regular comics scene doesn’t do very much of is fantasy based comics. I’m finding that sub-genre is certainly finding its footing through Kickstarter related projects. Vessels looks as if it is following a bit into Dark Tower territory with the idea of a more fantasy world suddenly coming into contact with very strange objects (see: a giant teddy bear). A world in transition with our heroes trying to save the day… or at the very least trying to let the world that they know hold on for a little bit more. And of course the enemies who will do everything in their power to ensure there will be no happy endings.

One other nice thing is you get a little sampler of the first four pages of Vessels #2 linked on the Kickstarter page.

The Rewards:

This is the Kickstarter for the second issue of the comic book. However, they make it very easy for you to immediately catch up with the series by offering reward levels containing pdfs or physical copies of Vessels #1 & #2. In addition, there are opportunities to get some prints… one of which is the excellent throwback to the 8-bit era showing our heroes as old-school video game characters. Lastly there is the opportunity to also sample a couple of their other series: Bust and Comichaus as add-ons to your Vessels orders.

The Verdict:

I love the opportunity to see how others world build (or maybe in this case it is world destroy). Fantasy settings offer all sorts of opportunities to shake up the genre and make sure you leave the readers guessing at what your next move might or might not be. Again, having a giant teddy bear drop out of the sky ensures this reader that things are going to be different from what you think.

And that is a very good thing. I look forward to reading it.

***

For more information on Vessels #2 and Card Shark Comics, check out their Facebook Page here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Behind the Artist – Interview with La’Vata O’Neal

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

Doing this comic book thing as a writer who can barely draw stick figures means I have to lean on the artists who work with me. There is a level of trust that must exist when you hand over your finely crafted words for them to work their magic. So far, I’ve been very lucky in this regard on all the various comic related things I’ve done, but that is especially true with the Gilded Age.

I was happy when I reached out to La’Vata O’Neal (who has done the cover for the Gilded Age Graphic Novel… more on that later…) and she agreed to an interview.

***

How long have you been creating art/working in comics?

I’ve been working in comics since Mr. Tony Cade decided to pick me up to do some work for him.

(Tony Cade is the Editor-in-Chief over at Terminus Media.)

At what point did you sit down and decide to become an artist? Have you had any formal training? What’s the first thing you drew?

When I was little I was interested in shapes and figures, still am of course, anything that isn’t a number or word! Though, I’m interested in writing due to its creative nature as well.

What things inspire you to create art? Favorite artists/creators? Influences?

I didn’t have an early influence back then because it’s really like an old love. It’s the serenity of it, though now I’m greatly inspired by many artists now, deceased or living. I’m particularly fond of old paintings because of the way they were able to capture a story in one image. They spoke with such power with just one image.

How do you manage your daily life with the art? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2? If you have the old day job, what do you do? Do you do anything to market/promote yourself?

I sketch daily and paint weekly, it’s like my fingers are possessed-

I’m joking!

I do sketch daily though to keep the creative flow. Whatever I produce in sketches I try to share and it keeps me relevant. I post to facebook, tumblr, and Instagram as the best way to market myself. At some point during the week though I’m always interested in learning new creative ways of doing art, so I’m usually reading up on some art form or for example how to do animation, etc. But At the moment I’m juggling a 9 to 5 job on top of the freelance business.

What’s your process? Digital vs. by hand? What do you prefer?

I love both to be honest; traditional is more expensive so the digital helps keep the budget down-but both, all day every day if I could! My process is a longer explanation, but a lot of it derives from traditional practices.

How do you work? Music while you draw? TV shows? Movies? No distractions?

I love to work while listening to music and if not music then an audible book.

What have you worked on previously?

I worked on a mobile game app, doing character design and illustration.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in you art? In regards to comics, are there things that draw you in, something you see or read where you must put your own spin on the story/character?

Let’s see, reoccurring themes…Fantasy mostly, I’m most drawn to that I believe. But realistically, I’m drawn to anything that’s fiction as long as the story is good! As for putting my own spin on characters, it’s something I reserve for others to do at the moment.

Do you have a favorite thing to draw (genre, scenery, etc)?

My favorite thing to draw are fantasy characters, they’re interesting in their own way because they’re so dynamic and otherworldly. But as long as character has enough character they’re interesting to me.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world?

I would say keeping afloat, isn’t that always the case though. It’s rough being freelance if you don’t know what you’re doing.

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

Wow…hm…I know exactly what I would say and it has everything to do with being more exposed to the art world. The more exposure the more you’ll understand.

What is your worst habit?

My worst habit…daydreaming, maybe? Lol

Goals? One year from now?

Let’s see, one year from now I look to be employed by a studio and not just doing freelance, I’d like to try being under some other artists so I can learn more.

For the Gilded Age, you worked on the cover to the trade (which is amazing by the way). I know we went back and forth with some ideas about how to present the characters, but it seemed like the tarot card idea just worked not only on a story level, but visually just nailed it. After we figured out that direction, how long did you work on those pieces – fine tuning them?

It might have taken me around 30 total hours to complete the cover. It was a very pleasant experience working on the Gilded Age trade cover!

Have you worked on any Steampunk style images before?

I have not actually but trying something new is always a learning experience and it can also be fun!

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my own project which still needs time to develop but it’s in the works, so keep an eye out! 😉

Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show?)?

Well that depends if people really want to know! I like being the mysterious type.

Where’s the best place to see your stuff on the web (website)?

www.leonealart.com

***

I want to thank La’Vata for not only taking the time to answer my questions, but for being such an amazing artist. The cover for the Gilded Age Trade is ridiculous in every (great) way!

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Not Like This

There’s a scene in the first Matrix where Cypher reveals himself to be a double agent, and in the process begins to unplug those who are in the Matrix… killing them. Switch knows it’s coming and can only mutter under her breath…

“Not like this. Not like this.”

***

I felt the same way watching the Super Bowl over the weekend. To see one of the teams you cheer for jump out to such a lead on the hated Patriots (come on, you’re tired of them unless you are from the New England area), and then to understand the avalanche is coming your way and there is very little that will deter it. Little by little the 28-3 lead slips away until I was left in stunned silence at the final outcome.

***

Being a fan of sports teams not named: New England or LA Lakers or NY Yankees, I don’t know what seeing the championships look like. I am an Atlanta fan and a Miami Dolphins fan for pretty much as long as I remember, which really means that in 30+ years I’ve only had the experience 1 time of one of “my teams”, the 1995 Atlanta Braves, winning the World Series…

And, if I’m honest, given that I had just finished my freshman year of college, I didn’t get to “enjoy” it. That year I probably watched or heard less than 5 games… just too many other distractions, I guess. I remember driving back from a non-sports watching buddy’s apartment and hearing on the radio that the Braves had closed the World Series out.

It was nice, but I didn’t get the buzz I assume everyone else gets from their team winning.

Last week, last week I was sure the Falcons would win. I’m never sure about anything in sports. I’m the guy who thinks a 30 point lead isn’t quite enough. I’m the one who calls for no shenanigans when there is a punt or kickoff in football because I just want a clean sequence. I never trash talk.

But I really felt good about the game going into it.

***

My wife apparently jumped past the Denial stage as she got up from the couch, walked around the side, slammed something to the ground, and had a few choice words for the universe.

***

Having one foot in the more nerdy endeavors my whole life causes some odd things when you mix being a fan of sports. So many times, regardless of what the “Big Game” might be, I get to hear (or read) people wondering if something is happening? Was there some kind of SportBall event going on? That they don’t understand it and don’t care (and I think some genuinely hate the fact that it exists, but I assume most are doing it in good old fun).

In the moments after the Super Bowl, I was suddenly envious of their lack of passion for sports. That they would never allow themselves to get so wrapped up in a “little game” to have it affect their emotional well-being. Was there a freedom to be had without such distractions?

Was that the better way to live?

***

Sunday night… I couldn’t sleep well. My brain trying to “Fix” the universe so that what I had just witnessed would have been the sports induced nightmare. I considered writing this blog at 3 in the morning. My wife and I ranted and raved laying there in the bed, still not sure how that ending even happened.

The bad guys won?

Why did you read me this thing for?

 

So silly. Silly to get caught up in something like this.

***

And yet… what’s the clichés?

Hope springs eternal.

There’s always next year.

I’ve got it…

Pitchers and Catchers report in 2 weeks.

Yeah, that’s the one.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

AP World History And Waffles

There are times when I think about what my friends and I got away with in high school. And then there are some of my mother’s stories about her students. This might be my favorite.

***

AP World History and Waffles

By: Mickey McGuire

I became a RN in 1978 at the age of twenty-one- my first major career path. By the time I reached my forties, I had practiced nursing more than twenty years, a major portion in the pediatric/neonatal field. Needless to say, I was burned out with the profession by then and had been contemplating a career change for some time.

The direction to take- the next fork in my life path- manifested itself in a dream. Never underestimate the power of dreams. Sometimes when you simply put the intent out there, the universe answers. In the dream, I saw myself as a social studies teacher in front of a classroom. When I woke up, it was crystal clear what I needed to do. I spent the next three years as a forty- something nerd getting my B. A. degree in history and social sciences.

My first job was teaching high school government to seniors and world history to sophomores later my preps would include several electives as well. By my fifth year of teaching, I was assigned an AP World History course, the most difficult to teach and prepare. I was determined to teach it perfectly and give these students their best chance for passing the AP exam. This teaching  intensity proved to ultimately be my undoing, and the reason this story is logged into those hysterical teaching days never forgotten by me or any of the teachers on my hall.

***

“Those words- AP and waffles- are two words that you probably would not expect to see in the same sentence. I know that I’ve been remiss in my blog writing, but as Millie explained in her blog, we’ve been BUSY!! (Millie is my best friend and reading specialist at our school. There was a time we both wrote education blogs.)

So, I have to tell you the story that happened just today. This week has been horrendous- so much to do- absolute brain overload. All teachers know that saturation point; your brain cannot deal with one more detail (Grades due next week, recommendations, meetings, parent conferences, daily schedule changes, writing a curriculum audit, planning a mock trial for my Practical Law classes, and actually teaching). I planned my lesson for AP World History 6th period, wrote and structured my notes, copied two readings for a group activity to conclude with, and was ready to go when they arrived. They all filed in, talking and chattering away, and reluctant to settle down.

I said my famous line:  “Today is a day I am not in the mood for any crap!”

Instant silence!

Wow, relieved, I began. A few minutes into the warm-up, I heard the first “beep.”

I looked around, told him/her to turn off their watch, and continued. I explained the pros and cons of the design of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan by a map. I launched into the stages of Spanish conquest. Suddenly again, I heard another “beep.”

I turned around and said to turn off that phone or watch, please. The kids sat there with blank looks on their faces, and no one offered any explanation. I plowed on, completely in the zone- asking questions, students answering correctly, everything great.

“Beep.”

I ignored it this time.

Finished with notes, I distributed the readings and gave instructions. Everyone was reading, making notes, and preparing to report on their findings on the treatment of Native Americans in Latin America.

“Beep.”

I could not figure out where that noise was coming from!

Now here I must mention that I let the kids eat in class anyway. They are always munching on cookies or sandwiches. I don’t pay attention to what they’re eating. As I’m sitting at my desk getting ready for the next stage of the group activity, one of the students comes to me and puts a waffle and syrup on my desk!!!

“There’s your waffle, Mrs. McGuire,” he said.

Now I’m generally fairly observant of my surroundings, but I have to say, I was oblivious to the waffle-making going on. As I finally looked closely toward the back of the room, what did I see but a waffle station! I had missed all the tell-tale signs: the waffle iron, the Bisquick mix, cooking oil, syrup, as well as the uncharacteristic, consistent silence during the lesson. I also missed the waffles being passed around as each one finished cooking. I also missed smelling the waffles cooking and the sweet smell of syrup. Thank goodness, this was the AP students and waffle-making, not sex or drugs in the back of the room!

Oh, by the way, it was a perfect waffle!”

***

Teaching proved to be the hardest job I ever had but also the most rewarding. Unfortunately, I did not realize that perhaps going through the mood swings of menopause and herding teenagers might just be too much for even the most sane. After eight years, I decided to leave the teaching profession before I was completely sucked dry emotionally.

People ask me even now why would I give up the salary of nursing for the pitiful pay our educators earn in this country. My response stands: I had the wonderful opportunity to realize two dreams in my life, being both a nurse and a teacher.

***

Mickey McGuire is the mother of published author John McGuire, a registered NICU nurse, retired high school teacher, an artist, and passionate student in this game of life.

Why Collaborate?

Every day that I keep at this – the writing, the editing, the story-telling – I’m hopefully getting a little better. But much like an athlete who trains by themselves, eventually they must turn to others in order to truly gauge how good they are, where their deficiencies might lie, and what things they can do to simply improve overall. They say you can never improve unless you are playing with people who are better than you are.

It’s not that much different on the writing side. Except that writing lends itself more to the solo aspect. You could go days or weeks or months without any feedback on the next project you’re writing. The only comfort you gain is knowing the story is progressing. That, too, can be just as maddening.

I think it is why I not only like to collaborate, but I seem to seek out such opportunities whenever I can.

During the earliest days of Terminus Media, when it was just a group of 5-6 guys trying to figure the whole “writing” thing out. Times where we might not even know what we did not know. Every week was a new potential project, every week was a new idea presented by someone at the table, and we did our best to foster that sharing. You could see where other people were having problems, and hopefully, not make the same mistakes on your own work (you inevitably did, of course).

I started to learn how to accept (constructive) criticism by sharing my words with others. I learned that the best way to learn was to DO the work. If there was a project that needed something written, the following week was spent figuring out how to actually write a short film script, or a TV script, or a comic script.

One week I had no idea and the next, knowledge replaced the nothingness.

Years later, Mr. Neill and I were talking about a serialized possibility. Here we both were trying to finish novels or start new ones, but there was something about getting our heads together and seeing what could happen.

Hollow Empire happened.

The biggest benefit, unseen by me (and probably cursed by Jeremy later) was editing. You effectively add a partner in this realm as well. Hopefully their strengths can fix your weaknesses and vice versa. Perhaps you are a little too sparse in your descriptions and your partner too sparse on the dialogue – now’s the perfect opportunity to learn from each other.

In those first drafts, which Jeremy edited to the bone, my prose got a little tighter. When I got new chapters in from him, it forced me to push to get better. I wanted him to be excited when my emails came rolling in. We all need to be pushed. Having a partner, someone you are accountable to, means that when you aren’t hitting your deadlines then you’re letting someone else down. Building the world through these characters in a way that makes the whole work really about those characters more than about the “Big Events” which may be going on around them.

Getting better with every keystroke.

In the last couple of years, I’ve worked with Robert Jeffrey on a pair of projects. Each of us bringing some ideas to the table and we settled on one idea from each list: The Crossing & Entropy.

The thing is that with another head there, you obviously have double the potential ideas. However, you are really forced to push your own ego aside… for the betterment of the story. When it is only you, it means a singular vision, but it also means you’re pretty much confined to whatever the old brain comes up with. With another person contributing ideas, you have more opportunities to find the best idea. You’re no longer insular… BUT you have to be willing to allow the other person to have that idea. If you are the type of writer who can’t deal with writing “someone else’s story” then you might as well stay a solo act.

To live in someone else’s world where much of the original idea was someone else’s, but you could still be a cog in the machine and help it get further than it could have done on their own. The ability to make something better than one person simply through the ideas being shared and passed back.

But the best part is being able to lean on someone else to help carry a bit of the workload. And when Writer’s Block threatens to show up, you simply give your co-writer a call or email. That way they can talk you off the ledge, getting you back to work all the sooner.

The dirty secret about all of this, whether it is short stories, novels, comics, film, or whatever… it doesn’t have to be such a lonely pursuit. You DON’T HAVE to go it alone. You can help your fellow creators, and they can help you as well.

Hopefully each learning a little bit more through the experience.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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