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 – Looking Forward Back

 

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

1 – Check out who might be producing Steampunk comics.

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

2 – Help potentially spread the word for those creators.

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

3 – Content for the blog.

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

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

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

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

Interviews

Interview with Ken Reynolds

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

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

Seriously, the comic is all sorts of cool.

Interview with the Creators of Arcane Sally & Mr Steam

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

Interview with the Creator of Hinges

What I wrote in the introduction still holds true:

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

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

Bauble and Orio had other plans for me.

Interview with the Creator of The Legend of Everett Forge

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

Interview with the Creator of Boston Metaphysical Society

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

The Gilded Age Interviews

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

Interview with the Creator of Monstrous

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

Interview with one of the Creators of The Jekyll Island Chronicles

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

 

 

Kickstart the Comic

Word Smith

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

Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poer #1 KS Exclusive

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

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

The Invention of EJ. Whitaker

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

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

Blood & Dust Volume 2

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

The Death Defying #1

Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini.

The writer and the magician.

They were once the best of Friends.

When their friendship went to hell, 

The world wasn’t very far behind.

Stoker and Wells – The Graphic Novel

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

Kickstart the Game

1879 London Adventure and Sourcebook

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

Westbound: Revolvers and Rituals

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

When the soil’s turned sour,

And the well all dried up.

When men in suits put a gun in your hand

And send you to war.

When there’s nothing left of your home,

But ash and regret.

It’s time to turn Westbound.

Game Reviews

Space: 1889

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

Other

5 Steampunk Movies You Should Watch

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

Short Film – Eye of the Storm

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

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

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

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

Gears and Cogs

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

***

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

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

In the Future, Retread the Past

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

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

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

The Look Back – 2017

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

The White Effect

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

Edge of the World

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

S.O.U.L. Mate

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

The Gilded Age

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

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

Veronica Mars Novella 2

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

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

Short Stories

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

Blogging

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

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

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

Looking Ahead to 2018

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

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

The Gilded Age

The White Effect

The Edge of the World

S.O.U.L. Mate

The Crossing

Ravensgate

Short Stories

The Next Big Idea for a Novel Series

Hollow Empire Season 2

You Must Be This Tall To Ride

Entropy

Lightning

The blog(s)

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

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

So what are you doing this year?

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love For Every Day

 

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

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

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

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

January 1

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

Nicole Krause, The History of Love

February 2

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

Ray Bradbury

March 16

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

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman

April 19

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

So tweasure your wuv.

The Princess Bride

May 4

I love you.

I know.

The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi

June 19

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

Peter Pan

July 16

If you have just one,

Let me be that love

If you have lots of others,

Please let me be

Please let me be one

Let me be one

Jonah Matranga, Crush On Everyone

August 13

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

Gilmore Girls

September 30

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

Serenity

October 31

My dearest friend

If you don’t mind

I’d like to join you by your side

Where we can gaze into the stars

And sit together now and forever

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

The Nightmare Before Christmas

November 8

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

Calvin and Hobbes

December 29

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

Epic how?

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

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

No one writes songs about the ones that come easy.

Veronica Mars

***

Hope you have some great holidays with those you love.

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

The Last Jedi – Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s all ok.

 

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

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

Rey’s parents reveal – perfect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That may be the truth.

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Fridays – Gears and Cogs

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

But I haven’t done that.

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

Draw with Jazza

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

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

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

They Are Billions

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

Brass Empire

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

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

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Closing Threads for the End of the Year

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

***

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

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

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

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

Yeah, it never works out.

***

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

I believe this, somewhere deep in my soul.

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Fridays – Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s kind of a win, win… right?

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

You can check out the trailer here:

 

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Unfinished Business

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

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

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

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

And I’ve been thinking about them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But mistakes have been made along the way.

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

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

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

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

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

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

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

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

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How long have you been creating/working in comics?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s been the reaction to the book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like us on facebook

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

or go to our website

https://jekyllislandchronicles.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

 

Kickstart the Comic – Penumbra: Fear the Bunny Lord!

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

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Penumbra: Fear the Bunny Lord!

From Shades of Vengeance Comics

Writer/Letters – Jonathan Lewis

Artist – Sebastian Sala

Colorist – Slamet Mujino

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

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The Pitch:

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

The Story:

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

John’s Thoughts:

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

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

The Rewards:

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

The Verdict:

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

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

 

The Top Thanksgiving Movies

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

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

So how about some “Thanksgiving” movies?

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

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

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

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

Son in Law

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

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

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

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Stoker and Wells – The Graphic Novel

Writer – Steven Peros

Artist – Barry Orkin

Colors – Chris Summers

Letters – Marshall Dillon

Editor – J.C. Vaughn

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

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The Pitch:

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

The Story:

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

John’s Thoughts:

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

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

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

The Rewards:

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

 

Pencils: Billy Tucci / Colors: Barry Orkin

The Verdict:

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

Enough said.

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

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John McGuire

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

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

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

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The Last Ember #1

By Last Ember Press

Writer/ Letterer – Brant Fowler

Penciller – Giulia Lalli

Inker/ Colorist – Lisa Moore

Editor, PR Director – Jay McCarthy

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

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The Pitch:

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

The Story:

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

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

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

John’s Thoughts:

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

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

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

The Rewards:

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

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

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

The Verdict:

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

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

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John McGuire

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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The Death Defying #1

Christopher Sebela – Writer

Gavin Guidry – Artist

Marissa Louise – Colors

Micah Meyers – Letters

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

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The Pitch:

Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini.

The writer and the magician.

They were once the best of Friends.

When their friendship went to hell, 

The world wasn’t very far behind.

The Story:

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

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

John’s Thoughts:

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

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

The Rewards:

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

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

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

The Verdict: 

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

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

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John McGuire

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

The Gilded Age Posts

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

 

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

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

 

New York Comic Con Recap – Stories from the Con

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

And something about Divergent Points.

The Gilded Age

Behind the Comic – The Gilded Age

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

Behind the Comic – The Gilded Age 2

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

You Got Time Travel Mixed With My Steampunk!

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

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

Behind the Comic – Terminus Team Up #2

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

Behind the Comic – Anatomy of a Panel

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

Steampunk Fridays – The Gilded Age Interviews

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

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

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

Behind the Comic – Why Kickstarter?

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

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John McGuire

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

Steampunk Fridays – Interview with the Creator of Monstrous

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

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

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

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How long have you been creating/working in comics? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What inspired you to create Monstrous?

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

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

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

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

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

What’s been the reaction to the book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did you get together with Source Point Press?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All my hobbies involve sitting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The website for Monstrous is www.monstrousworld.com

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

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

***

 

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

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

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

***

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

 

 

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John McGuire

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

Four Years Later

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

I’m about a month late with this particular article (this is my 212th “regular” blog post). Normally I like to use the beginning of October as my look back at the previous year’s blog posts and point out some of the ones that either got some reaction or others that I felt good about but got overlooked.

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Behind the Comic – Why Kickstarter?

Insight on why exactly I’m doing a Kickstarter for The Gilded Age. And a snapshot of my feelings a few days before I pulled the trigger on something that determines whether a lot of my time might have been wasted on being a comic book writer.

 

Tales from the Loop – Thoughts about the Best Game I Played at GenCon

Probably the one post that surprised me with how well it did, but really it shouldn’t have. If playing the game was as fun as it was, then writing about the game should have had the same amount of excitement for it. If I remember nothing else from GenCon 2017, I will remember this particular game and session.

NES Games Left Off The Classic

I wasn’t sure if I would get the NES Classic. Considering how hard it was to find the system, it seemed more like a pipe dream than anything else. But then my old roommate, Mike, got me one. And I was amazed by what was included and a little disappointed by what wasn’t included. With a few tweaks, they could have taken it from a “10” all the way to “11”.

Death of Ideas

An essay about whether or not you should worry about the idea that “There are no new ideas” or “Sequels are killing the film industry”. I’d like to argue that it might not be as big of a problem as you think.

Not Like This

The aftermath of this year’s Superbowl when things were still very raw and my mind was trying to process everything that had happened.

Gotta admit, rereading it was a little rough.

20 Things I’ve Learn at Concerts

After decades of going to concerts in all sorts of venues from the extremely small to full on stadiums, I’ve decided to classify some of what I’ve seen and learned from all these shows. Think of it as a do and don’t do list (you get to decide which one is which).

Interview with a 9 Year Old

Much like everyone thinks that the past was always better than the here and now, so too do they think that the current generation will be the death of everything Personally, I believe it is just a different way of looking at the world. So in an attempt to get to know a tiny bit of insight – I interviewed my 9-year-old nephew.

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John McGuire

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

Free Comic Books for Halloween!

Every year the first weekend of May there is this little thing called Free Comic Book Day. Hopefully, you know about this, but if you don’t it is basically a day where comic stores have dozens of different titles put out from Marvel, DC, Archie, Dark Horse, Image, and just about every other publisher you can think of. It’s a great promotional day where they can give back to their fans and maybe get new people to visit their stores in order to get them hooked on comics!

Starting today (Happy Halloween!) and lasting through the end of November, Instafreebie is running a Free Comic Book Month of sorts (the first one they have ever done) and the Gilded Age Issue #1 is a part of it.

Check it out here (or click the banner above!).

There are 19 different titles you can partake of (it’ll cost you only your email address) and you’ll get access to the pdf of the comic.

It’s as easy as that.

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John McGuire

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

Tales from the Loop – RPG Review

Sometime soon as the week approaches its end, Stranger Things Season 2 will premiere taking with it many people’s weekends with it. Thinking about it makes me turn my thoughts back to Tales from the Loop. I talked about how it was my favorite game I played at Gen Con here, but I didn’t get into much in the way of gameplay details.

Tales from the Loop is about kids. It’s about nostalgia. It’s about playing in a world that King and Spielberg portray.

***

Character Creation

Possibly the best part of the game is the character creation. If you are a roleplayer (as opposed to roll-player) then it is perfect for you. Because, more than most games, this one wants you to develop your characters together. It wants you to come up with an idea, but then collaborate to figure out how your kid fits with the other kids. The discussion you end up having serves to help you determine why you guys and gals are actually friends. Each piece somehow builds neatly on what has come before. The game forces you to answer questions about who you are going to be playing, and by doing that, helps to bring to life a more fleshed out character.

You have your base stats where you take your Age and that is the number of points you can put into your primary Skills. Then the Kid types are divided into archetypes: Bookworm, Computer Geek, Hick, Jock, Popular Kid, Rocker, Troublemaker, and Weirdo (though, a little searching on the web can reveal some additional ones players have developed on their own). Each type has 3 sub-Skills they are proficient in, allowing them to devote more points in that particular ability than others (3 is the maximum in your “Key” Skills, where 1 is the maximum in your other Skills).

Next is your Iconic Item. In game terms, it is something that you can potentially use to add a bonus die to a roll, but in character building terms it is that one thing when you were growing up, that possibly identified you as “You”. Maybe it was your badass bike, or you cool jacket, or you cutting edge piece of technology, or…

You get the point.

Then there is your Problem. Problems are the things that all kids have. Think of them almost as a way to grow as a character. It doesn’t have to be solved during a particular adventure, but it is a motivating part of who your Kid is. Which really your Drive. Why are you doing this?

And what is your Relationship to the other players? Was there something in your past that forced you together? Are you siblings or cousins? Parents work together? Share detention most afternoons? All of these are valid and lend themselves to who you are.

Lastly, you have your Anchor. Where the game emphasizes that you can’t really depend on the adults for much help (they are so wrapped up in their own problems), this is the one adult who actually will help, support, and comfort you.

***

Oh, one thing I didn’t mention in the Character section is your Favorite Song. We all have/had one. Your character needs to choose one. In my mind, it’s like your walk-up music (and I could see getting a playlist with a group’s favorites and using them as potential story clues).

***

The System

Overall the system is pretty easy to figure out. While I have not played the Mutant Zero system that originated this one, it plays very streamlined and well (never seeming to get in the way of the Story you are trying to create).

You have Skills and for each level, you have a Skill you get to roll 1-six-sided dice (1d6). Every “6” you roll is a success. For most things, 1 success is enough to get by a challenge. If you do fail, you can potentially reroll by gaining a Condition (Scared, Upset, Exhausted, Injured, and Broken). Once you have a Condition, you have a minus 1 dice for your rolls until you get to a safe space (with an Anchor or potentially you Hideout).

The only time this gets tweaked a little bit are the BIG challenges (a Climax of the current story being one possibility). It is then that the Kids have to beat a particular number of successes as a team. Each one (or each subgroup) needing to accomplish a series of tasks in order to prevail.

And while Kids Can’t Die… they certainly can fail.

***

Location

While the game comes with both a Swedish Loop and an American Loop, my guess is that many campaigns will end up creating something a little more in their backyard. For a GM, those old memories of where the old tree fort in the woods actually lies should only help integrate everyone that much more within the game.

***

Mysteries

The last half of the book is for the Game Master. One is more of a sandbox style where it sets up a number of possibilities to explore with various Hooks for the players and NPCs to interact with. Past that are 4 scenarios  (“The Four Seasons of Mad Science”) that can be played as one-shots or as part of a larger campaign. From my various readings online, it seems the majority can be played in 3-4 hours each.

***

Overall, what is great about the game is that you can make it your own. Whether that means setting it up in the town you grew up in or inserting NPCs from your childhood or even dialing back a bit on the technology presented by the Loop and focusing more of the strange and unusual within the town/suburbs – you make it your own. And as the players get involved they help expand it into something that is everyone’s.

***

John McGuire

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

 

Steampunk Fridays – The Gilded Age Interviews

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

I knew around this time last year that at some point during 2017 I would need to run a Kickstarter for The Gilded Age. There was too much printing needing to be done. Too much trying to figure out how to spread the word on the book.

I’ve said over and over comics are the most collaborative thing I am involved with. Which meant that I had any number of people who I could interview who I directly worked with. Maybe take a minute or two to showcase them a little bit (and let me get to know them as more than maybe a Facebook page or an email address!).

Here are the people who brought The Gilded Age to life:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Artist – Interview with Nimesh Morarji Part 1

Behind the Artist – Interview with Nimesh Morarji Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Artist – Interview with Sean Hill Part 1

Behind the Artist – Interview with Sean Hill Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Artist – Interview with Antonio Brandao

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

I’m still trying to get the rest to answer the long list of questions I had for them. I’ll update this post as I get them.

***

John McGuire

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

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

As I wrote last week, this Kickstarter has been a long time coming for me. There have been many late nights struggling over scripts or waiting for edits or all those moments receiving a new piece of artwork – it has built to this.I’m hopeful this is the next step in being able to tell stories within the comic book medium.

I love writing about these characters. I’m hopeful this is the next step in being able to tell more stories about them. And I’m looking forward to meeting the other members of The Gilded Age who have not appeared yet.

***

The Gilded Age

From Terminus Media

John McGuire – Writer

Sheldon Mitchell – Artist

António Brandão – Artist

Sean Hill – Artist

Rich Perotta – Inker

Tom Chu – Colors

Nimesh Morarji – Colors

Lavata O’Neal – Graphic Novel Cover Artist

Khari Sampson – Letterer/Copy Editor

Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, November 17, 2017 at 11:59 PM EDT.

 

The Pitch:

We are raising funds primarily to get the Graphic Novel, The Gilded Age Vol. 1, printed. 100 pages collecting the first four issues of the comic book.

The Story:

The Gilded Age is about a group of performers, the Branning Troupe. Half actors and half carnival folk, the group travels throughout the countries of Victorian Era Europe. For some it offers a direction to their lives, others get the adoration of the crowds, and the rest find simple refuge from a world which has cast them out.

Each story would be done-in-one. They would tell stories that could be enjoyed by anyone picking up a random issue. The issues would have overlapping characters, but by and large, each issue would focus on one or a pair of characters.

The key would be that I was slowly building up my world. And making the readers care about various characters by giving each the screen time they deserved. And by doing this I allowed for different types of stories within the same world. Whether that is Western or Horror or a Heist or something Fantastical, the hope has always been to build the world from the character’s eyes rather than try and hit you with one thousand years of history.

The Gilded Age – Issue #2 – Page 12 – Pencils – Sheldon Mitchell – Inks -Rich Perotta – Colors – Thomas Chu

 

John’s Thoughts:

Comics have always been this way to connect with stories. Even before I was a “book reader”, I devoured comics. As the years went by, that never changed. I’m sure many of you have that same thing where you just can’t get something out of your system. Whether it is the collaborations or the characters or the universes or the ability to tell a story with a limitless visual budget or a way to connect to a younger version of myself…

I think it is all those things and a thousand others. I think it is about someone holding something your brain thought up and thinking – “Hey, that was pretty cool.”

However, the path of the indy comic creator is full of potholes. 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 5 and 6 and 7 and…

The Gilded Age – Issue #3 – Page 5- Art – Antonio Brandao – Colors – Nimesh Morarji

The Rewards:

The Kickstarter is for the first trade of the series which collects issues 1 through 4. There are the options to get either a pdf or the print version sent to you. At the $40 level there is a chance to get the anthologies Terminus put out in the past. At the $60 level there is an opportunity to not only get Gilded Age but also Route 3 (if you missed that Kickstarter).

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

The Verdict:

Obviously, you should give this one a try, but I might be biased about such things (*might*).

Seriously though – so many comic book Kickstarters are looking for funds to even come into being. That is a different kind of crapshoot 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 I can get this out there and into people’s hands.

The Gilded Age – Issue #4 – Page 4 – Art – Sean Hill – Colors – Nimesh Morarji

***

I’d like to thank you in advance for checking the project out! For more information on The Gilded Age, check out the Facebook here. If you’d like to know more about the rest of Terminus Media’s comics, check out their Facebook here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age which is currently LIVE on Kickstarter!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to keep up with all things Gilded Age.

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

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

 

Behind the Comic – Why Kickstarter?

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

 

I’m worried.

Only a few days from the beginning of The Gilded Age Kickstarter, and I can’t help but be worried. Have I done everything I could have done? Will people show up and pledge? Will I make my goal? What happens if I don’t make the goal?

What happens if I do?

Over this last month, I feel like I’ve been living Kickstarter. Trying to listen to podcasts or check websites or just view as many comic book Kickstarter pages as I can to glean ideas on how they laid out their pages. Or how they did their reward levels. Or a thousand other pieces. Why did this one project fail while this other succeeded? Is there any reasoning and logic behind what I need to do?

For those who might not know, Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform. It’s a place where creative people seek an amount of funding from a large amount of people to help turn their ideas into reality. Basically, if you have an idea for a product you can take it directly to the public to see if they might want to invest in your idea.

If you check out the site you can find anything from coolers to headphones to apps to novels to movies and everything else you might be able to think of. If you have an idea, then maybe you don’t need to go onto Shark Tank and pitch your idea to a bunch of millionaires. No, maybe you go to the people who might use or consume the product.

It’s funny. All these sites end up saying the same generic stuff over and over:

Have great rewards!

Have a great video!

Show lots of artwork!

Spam your email and Facebook and Twitter and…

DON”T spam your email and Facebook and Twitter and…

Make sure you launch at midnight!

Launch at Lunch!

Make sure you DON’T launch on a Wednesday!

Always launch on a Wednesday.

So you can see why my head might be spinning.

With the campaign I’m launching on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, I’m doing something that feels like it has been YEARS in the making. I’m actually afraid to look and see when the very first “Gilded Age” email shows up in my gmail (April 2009 is the answer). That’s when my very first conversations began when I first saw that Steampunk Cowboy image from artist Larry Watts.

Independent comics are a lot like herding cats who are being chased by dogs who are being examined by aliens who are from a long-lost civilization no one’s ever heard of before.

By that, I mean there are different personalities to interact with. I’ve long said the best thing about comics is the collaborative aspect of the medium. As a writer, you need each and every one of the people to put in a piece of themselves or it just won’t work. It means sometimes waiting for people. It means sometimes people waiting on you.

And it means producing the comics and then selling them.

The problem is that our model was to do digital versions of the comics but have a short print runs for conventions. And sometimes that meant we’d sell out of a particular issue waiting to reorder the books.

Kickstarter is a potential answer for those problems. Since The Gilded Age is done, this is about covering the printing costs. Really it’s like your preordering the graphic novel… with some potential bonuses.

Funding this is about everyone who had a hand in the creation of this comic. Too many times have I seen projects get started only to die before anyone ever gets to see them. I want to continue this journey and tell more stories and collaborate with these creators who have impacted the better portion of a decade of my life.

Hopefully, you can help me do just that!

***

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

John McGuire

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

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

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

31 Days of Horror – Part 2

Continuing with a month of creepies and crawlies…

Part 1 is here.

Day 4 – Maggie

(currently streaming on Amazon Prime)

Directed by Henry Hobson – Staring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin

A slow burn with this one. To be honest, it really does take about 30 minutes for the movie to get going, but once it did I was more than glad that I’d stuck around for it. Maggie is more about the slow deterioration of a person than about the actual jump-style scares. It’s about the horror of your body being eaten away by some fiendish virus. About knowing that someone you love is slowly going to lose control, but that you need to/have to stick by them until the very end – no matter what that means.

Day 5 – The Thing (2011)

Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen – Staring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton

On a day when a different sequel to an older 1980s movie was being released, I opted to go with a different sequel… uhm prequel. This version of the Thing decided to go back and tell the story of the Norwegian Base seen in the 1982 film. It dwells a bit more on the alien nature of the creature since they are the ones who dig it up in the first place. However, because of this immediate knowledge that there is something among them, the whole aspect of “it could be any one of us” is probably not played up as well as they could have. Many times the creature seems to reveal itself when discretion might have been the better option. My guess is that they wanted to go a bit more on the monster horror movie side rather than a purely psychological one.

I still enjoyed it, and you can tell they went to painstaking efforts to try and match everything you saw in the original with what you were seeing there. Though, it had been long enough since I’d seen the 1982 film, that some of them escaped me, until…

Day 6 – The Thing (1982)

Directed by John Carpenter – Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and Keith David

A cheat, as I have seen this movie, but since I was on a Thing kick, it only made sense to watch this version. The dread of the unknown, the whole “who can I trust” is very much on display in a way you don’t always see pulled off very well. Even remembering what I could about this one, I still got to play along with the characters trying to determine who might be the Thing and who might still be human.

The ending is just about the perfect answer to the question and takes on a slightly different feel having read The Things earlier in the week.

***

Not quite the 7 days worth of scares I set out to do, but I’m all for getting some of this back on track as we approach another weekend.

***

John McGuire

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

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

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

Steampunk Fridays – Kickstart the Comic – Blood & Dust Volume 2

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

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

But since it’s my blog – I’m saying it’s ok.

***

Blood & Dust Volume 2: Glenny Family Values

Michael Martin & Adam Orndorf – Writers/Creators

Tone Rodriguez – Artist

Raymund Lee – Colorist

Kel Nuttal – Letters and Design

***

Pitch:

Momma is off her chain, out of her mind and starving.

Free for the first time in decades and hell-bent on making up for lost time, Ruth is headed straight for the town of Boggy Depot to feed on its inhabitants. The only one who can stop her is Judd Glenny, her grandfather and the one who made her in the first place… who’s regretted it every night since.

The Story:

Glenny Family Values is the second volume of the Blood & Dust saga that began with volume 1, The Life & Undeath of Judd Glenny and is an 80-page graphic novel continuing the story of Judd Glenny and his vampire family. Ride along with Eddie Jacobs and listen to Judd tell the tale of how the Glenny Family came to be and the hellish night Judd died and was reborn. All while racing to stop Ruth from killing…everyone.

John’s Thoughts:

Vampires on a rampage. A man who needs to track them down before more people die. Undead mothers and their children…

The imagery previewed on the Kickstarter page both have that gritty feel of a western along with the pure blood and gore as viscera really drips off the page (off the fangs?).

As much as all of that certainly caught my eye, it was Michael’s story about what this comic means for him. Sharing that his ex-wife passed away (Small Cell Ovarian Cancer) some 7 years ago, and then that he’s survived two bouts with Kidney Cancer – this book is his legacy, as he says:

“I’m not trying to write 100 good stories, I’m trying to write one great one.”

That inspires me, chills me, and mostly causes me to root for Michael (and his team) that this Kickstarter is successful and that he manages to get one more step closer to his goals.

The Rewards:

While this one is for Volume 2, if you missed out on Volume 1 there are Reward levels for you with both physical copies only $25. Starting at $25 you have a Kickstarter Exclusive Wraparound cover. For those who want original pages, those start at $150, and if you are feeling really dark and gruesome this Halloween season, you might want to check out the Double page slaughter ($300) which is a double-page spread of the original pencils. As they put it “something you have to see for yourself”.

The Verdict:

I haven’t read the first volume of the series, but that’s almost all I need to jump in and start reading. I mean, if ever you were going to jump into a comic like this – October feels like the right time.

***

For more information on Blood & Dust Volume 2, check out their Facebook page here.

***

John McGuire

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

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

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

31 Days of Horror – Part 1

Every year I want to make October something cool. I want to watch as many horror movies as I possibly can. I want to fill the excess time with scares and vampires and zombies and whatever monster lives under my bed.

Yet, every year, I look up and it’s basically Halloween.

But not this year. This year I’m determined to do something every day. Whether it is a movie or a short film or a short story or a game or whatever… I’m going to embrace it!

Day 1 – Honeymoon

(currently streaming on Netflix)

Directed by Leigh Janiak – Staring Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway

There are four characters in this movie and two of them only appear for about a total of 5 minutes of screen time. The entire focus of this movie is on the newly wedded couple who have gone to her cabin in the woods for the week. A week of isolation, and sex, and fishing and strange lights outside, and wandering around in the woods and…

But really, this movie owes more to something like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Gaslight than anything else. It is really about how much do you know the person you’re with. And if they act “strange” is something actually wrong with them or is it you, being paranoid. As the viewer, you are there with Paul, trying to figure out if there is something legitimately wrong with Bea or if we might be dealing with a situation more different than we think.

This is one of those movies where I enjoyed it right up to the end, but the coda was probably unneeded in its present form. Definitely worth watching if just for the slow build of things being just wrong.

Day 2 – The Things

By Peter Watts

You can read this short story at Clarkesworld for free here.

If you have read John W. Campbell, Jr’s novella Who Goes There? or seen John Carpenter’s The Thing, then you might have an idea of what this short story is about. But instead of a strict retelling from another of the humans, this is from the POV of the Creature.

Watts does a great job in almost making The Thing into a sympathetic character who is as confused about our world and our ways as we are of it. There is true anguish as it tries to decipher what it can about humanity’s nature, why we would choose to become stuck in one form, and all the ways it thought it could potentially survive the encounter.

If you’ve seen the movie, Watts also has an answer about who might have been human and who might have been a Thing at the end.

Day 3 – Vicious

Written, directed and produced by Oliver Park

You can watch Vicious on Youtube here.

There isn’t anything unique about the story. A girl is alone in her house… or is she? Even if we’ve seen that movie a thousand times, when it comes to the horror side it really boils down to, is this thing scary?

Yes.

Through the use of the soundtrack, slow shots, a couple of jump scares, and an occasional camera shot that is just off-center making you watch the background more than any character in the foreground.

It has a viewing suggestion that I will echo here: watch alone, in the dark, with headphones.

***

Three days down, many more scares to go.

***

John McGuire

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

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

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

Steampunk Fridays – Short Film – Eye of the Storm

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

Technically this is a music video, but if after watching it you don’t feel like you want to see a whole movie made in this style… well, I don’t have words for you. It’s done well enough that I think it’s ok to call it a film.

“Eye of the Storm” – By Lovett, from the album Highway Collection, 2011 – Directed by Christopher Alender

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

This feels like the end of his journey. Whether that implies his death or simply his last grand adventure, I’m not entirely sure.

Using a technique that reminds me a bit of Sin City with that mixture of animation and stylized actors. His goggles remain on his face, the orbs acting as two beacons in the dark night. They are our proxy to his eyes, able to still convey emotion even without being able to see what lies beneath.

This film has no spoken dialogue, but the song itself acts as our emotional center. It builds slowly, quietly, a simple peace. And then, when the storm crashes into the ship, and he is fighting the currents, the volume raises… crashing into the listener. Once through the rain and the wind, he sees the green light in the distance and pushes his machine directly toward it.

On my second watch, I brought up the lyrics and listened to the song only, allowing my memory of the scenes to supply the visuals.

For all that it cost

In the end there was no price to pay

For all that was lost

That storm carried it away

The storm carries all the mistakes he made. It carries the past away. And then it carries him onto his next (final) destination.

Or, perhaps he rids himself of those things. And by unburdening, he allows himself to actually become truly free.

 

 

Check it out and you tell me. Is this the end or the beginning?

***

You can find more music from Lovett on his website, as well as a behind the scenes for this video.

***

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.

Tales From the Loop – Thoughts About the Best Game I Played At GenCon

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

I’m not burying the lead on this one. Heck, I put it right there in the title. Tales from the Loop was the best game experience I had at Gen Con. To the point that I talked about the game session to my wife like I was telling her about some awesome movie I’d seen (ask her about my retelling of How to Train Your Dragon – the rated R version – now full of lots of swearing!). I told my sister, a nut for everything 80s, because the game does a great job at delivering on a premise.

So what is Tales from the Loop – Roleplaying in the 80s that never was?

Think about your favorite kid led movies from the 1980s. Do you have a list in your head?

Goonies?

Flight of the Navigator?

E.T.?

Stand by Me?

Monster Squad?

Explorers?

Cloak and Dagger?

Short Circuit?

D.A.R.Y.L.?

These are the movies just before you get to the John Hughes films in your mid-teens. These are the movies where the kids are the heroes. Where they aren’t treated as dummies just because they aren’t the adults. If anything, the adults are normally the clueless ones who have no idea that a bigger world exists around the next corner, but their kids know it all too well.

This is the feeling Tales from the Loop taps into the nostalgia of that time when you both couldn’t wait to grow up, but also began to understand that it was pretty cool to be a kid sometimes. When you created adventures with your friends, when you bike was your gateway to the larger world, and when the woods were a sanctuary from whatever bothered you.

Tales is a game that takes that premise and puts it into a world very much like our own (or any of the worlds from those movies) but uses the backdrop of artist Simon Stålenhag’s paintings where fantastical machines are becoming more and more commonplace. From the Kickstarter page:

In 1954, the Swedish government ordered the construction of the world’s largest particle accelerator. The facility was complete in 1969, located deep below the pastoral countryside of Mälaröarna. The local population called this marvel of technology The Loop.

While it is a Swedish game, one of the stretch goals set up an American counterpart Loop in Boulder City, Colorado. Again, the thing is you could set this game in the town you grew up in. Those memories of growing up on the coast or in the mountains or playing in the creek or riding your bike through the subdivisions are what the game evokes within the players. It becomes easy to play because you’re tapping into a piece of you from Before you got old(er) and had adult responsibilities.

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When Egg mentioned adding Tales from the Loop to our game schedule, I had no idea what he was talking about. I just smiled and said, “Yeah, whatever. I’m just glad to be going.” Later I looked up the game’s Kickstarter and thought, “Interesting. A game where you play kids in a 1980s style setting.”

Then promptly forgot about it again until the Friday night of GenCon.

Egg was unable to attend the session as he was Cubical 7’s guest at the Ennie Awards. So Lee and I made our way to the room where the game was to take place. After a few minutes our Game Master, Bill Carter, appeared, having hustled from another game. For a while, it was just the three of us. Lucky for us that Alan Precourt and David Cochran decided to swing by and see how things were going. Bill “convinced” them to join in the game, realizing that 4 would probably be better than 2. And off we went into character creation.

Many games we played during the weekend were pregenerated. They had their own stats and histories and connections to the other pregenerated characters. So it can be a bit of a crap-shoot as you’re never 100% on how they are going to work, especially if you’ve never played the system.

However, Bill had us create characters for this game, and I’m especially glad he did.

You pick out an archetype: The Loner, The Jock, The Computer Nerd, etc. in order to have a little bit of framework for your character. But the thing is, you’re a kid, you’re not going to be great at 100 different things like some games. You have 4 main attributes: Body, Tech, Heart, and Mind. You’ll divide up your character points here among those.

Oh, how many character points do you get? How old is your character? Pick a starting age between 10 and 15. Got it? That’s how many points you have to divide.

Pretty cool, right?

Art by Simon Stålenhag

Ah, but there is a catch. There is one other main stat: Luck. Much like other games, using a Luck point lets you reroll a failed roll. So how many Luck points do you get? 15 minus your age. So the younger you are, the luckier you are, but the fewer Build points you’ll have.

The thing that any roleplayer will tell you is that your stats are only part of the story for your character. The story… who you are… what are you afraid of… what do you aspire to be? These are the keys to not only your character but will potentially inform your relationships with the other kids. And that may be the biggest piece of this game. Your kids are going to be friends and it’s really up to the players to figure out why.

In our particular game, I chose the Rocker. A bit of a clumsy, still growing into himself, an 11-year-old kid whose brother had passed away maybe a year or so prior. His parents rode him – trying to have him live up to be his brother, but in his grief, he found his brother’s old guitar and something clicked.

So, I had a background, but how to tie it into the other characters. Why are you friends?

Well… what if the Computer Nerd was helping me actually record something?

What if the Skater-Jock was just big enough to protect the Computer Nerd from the school bully?

And what if the Hick and the Rocker had found friendship in the older brother’s death?

Sounds like we’ve got some friendships going.

And just like that, we were ready to play.

I don’t want to give away the details in case Bill wants to run it again (or maybe publish it at some point). Suffice to say, our four kids immediately noticed something was wrong while at school. You might say that Strange(r) Things were afoot… and it was up to us to figure out why the world seemed to blink or why the robots were acting strange or why- seriously, I probably should stop.

Our attempt at Taunting the missing Egg Embry

***

After the game, Lee and I met back up with Egg and proceeded to talk his ear off about the session, about the people we’d played with, and just the joy of the session. I’m sure he was tired of hearing about it by the time we went to bed that night. The next morning we made a b-line to the Modiphius booth where I snagged a hard copy of the game (when we swung back by later that afternoon, they were sold out).

The book comes with all the rules needed to play as well as 4 adventures to get everyone started. So far I haven’t had a chance to bust the game out and play, but I did look to see if they were running any adventures at Dragon Con a couple of weeks later (if they were, I didn’t see any). Regardless, I’m looking forward to jumping into that world!

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For more information about Tales from the Loop, check out the Modiphius Entertainment site 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.

Steampunk Fridays – Kickstart the Comic – The Invention of E.J. Whitaker

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

Women kicking ass. That’s one of my wife’s favorite things to ask about any kind of media. Conversations normally go like this:

“Does it feature women kicking ass?”

“Yes.”

“Then I’m in.”

The following comic spotlight feels like it is going to be just that: A woman who is forced to outfox those who would try to do her wrong. However, unlike the normal Kickstart the Comic, this Kickstarter actually finished up at the end of last year (check it out here). Still, the comic is due out in a few short months (you can order your copy here), so I thought I’d give it a write-up.

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The Invention of E.J. Whitaker

The Gibbs Sisters – Writers/Creators

Mark Hernandez – Penciler/Inker

Hasani Mcintosh – Colorist

Earl Womack – Cover Artist

Starline Hodge – E.J. Whitaker Emblem Designer

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Pitch:

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

The Invention of E.J. Whitaker is a combination of science, adventure, romance, and transformation that we have been starving to see visualized since our teenage years gobbling up series after series by Octavia Butler and later Tananarive Due. It was in part developed because of our appreciation and passion for telling classic stories featuring smart, aspirational, and diverse female characters.

The Story:

At the turn of the century, in America’s great Industrial Age, Tuskegee University student Ada Turner is a brilliant and charming inventor with dozens of patents to prove it but she’s got one big strike against her: She’s a woman…and…well, frankly put, she’s got more than a few strikes going on. So in an effort to have her work taken seriously, she comes up with her best invention yet: the pseudonym of E.J. Whitaker…

When “E.J’s” patent for a wondrous flying machine begins garnering national attention, Ada finds herself relentlessly pursued by William, a mysterious young businessman, and his colleague, Samuel. Ada must keep her identity and popular invention under wraps but can she, as more and more powerful people set sights on EJ Whitaker…? People with intentions to use the inventions for their own financial gain and get Ada out of the picture.

(artwork from Pinterest site for The Invention of E.J. Whitaker)

John’s Thoughts:

First off, I like the idea behind the story. Steampunkish espionage. While everyone else is chasing Tesla or Edison, E.J. Whitaker seems to be carving her own path through the world. From the Kickstarter, it describes the sisters’ background in “indie comic book and animation”, which you can definitely see from the concept art they have posted on their website.

(Concept art featured at www.ejwhitaker.com)

Speaking of the art, I love the mixture of engineering patents mixed in with their artwork. I’m not sure if they are all real or not, but it is a nice touch.

The Rewards:

This would be the part where I would tell you about the various rewards, but sadly I (we) missed the Kickstarter.

But you can still order a digital copy of issue #1 for $10 here!

The Verdict:

After some delays, it appears that the comic book is set to come out Winter, 2017. After that, they have designs on doing additional issues leading up to a full trade. Seems like an excellent time to support an indy book to me.

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For more information on The Invention of E.J. Whitaker, check out their webpage 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.

Kickstart the Comic – Frankenstein, Texas

The weather is beginning to turn a bit cooler. Soon enough the calendar will change from September to my favorite month: October. A whole month where it is ok to bask in the idea of the horror genre. A whole month dedicated to experiencing as many scares as possible.

Let’s get a jumpstart on it.

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Frankenstein, Texas – a 48-page western horror graphic novel

From Dan Whitehead

Dan Whitehead – Writer

David Hitchcock – Artist

Kickstarter campaign ends on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, at 10:36 AM EDT.

The Pitch:

What if Mary Shelley’s famous gothic novel was a lie? What if Victor Frankenstein paid Captain Walton to announce both he and his creation had perished and vanished in the Arctic? What if instead, the pair headed west, across Europe, to Ireland and from there to the new world? To America?

The Story:

This is a tale of action and adventure, but also a story that explores ideas of damnation and salvation, of fresh starts and bitter ends, and what it takes to atone for the deadliest of sins.

At the heart of the story is the complex relationship between Frankenstein and his creation. The man, constantly wrestling with the knowledge that he created life from death, and the monster, heartbroken by the violence that rages inside him and determined to prevent his “father” from repeating the mistakes of the past.

Page 1 – Art by David Hitchcock

John’s Thoughts:

This is a 48-page graphic novel of Frankenstein in the Old West… it’s one of those ideas that I’m both scratching my head about and also wondering – why didn’t I think of that? What better place for the Doctor and his Monster to lose themselves than in the untamed frontier of America far from their birthplaces?

The Rewards:

Fairly cheap for the digital version of the basic graphic novel ($4), but the printed copy is also very reasonable ($14). Sadly for those coming onboard at this point, the $68 Wanted Dead or Alive level is all gone, and with it your chance to make a cameo in the comic. As to some of the higher end options – the Saloon Decorator ($204) allows you access to an original page of artwork (9 spots are left at the time of this writing). Or the Town Marshall ($272) gets you an original commission of your choosing by the artist (5 spots left).

The Verdict:

The artwork on the page and the core idea tell me to back the comic book. They’ve launched at a perfect time of year for such a story, and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished book.

Art by David Hitchcock

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For more information on Frankenstein, Texas, 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.

Steampunk Fridays – Kickstart the Game – Westbound: Revolvers and Rituals

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

Magic and technology colliding… that’s what we’re talking about here. An untamed wild where anything can be done and the only person stopping you from living your dreams is you. Take that smoke wagon from its holster and fire again and again on your orcish enemies. Dodge dragon fire while riding on horseback.

I mean, that’s what being in the Weird West is all about!

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Westbound: Revolvers and Rituals

From Island of Bees

Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, September 29, 2017, at 1:59 AM EDT.

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The Pitch

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

When the soil’s turned sour,

And the well all dried up.

When men in suits put a gun in your hand

And send you to war.

When there’s nothing left of your home,

But ash and regret.

It’s time to turn Westbound.

The Game

This Kickstarter is for the full version of the game, but they did put a free Basic version and a Quickstart adventure to “try before you back”. In addition, there are also a handful of videos to help walk through some of the basics.

Reading through those Quickstart Rules, the big idea here is that there aren’t any dice, but instead it uses a deck of 52 cards to help define your character. But more than that, it appears to combine some aspects of collectible card games in that “The Deck is Your Stamina”. As such, it appears that as you make your way through the day there is a tangible and very visual way to determine not only your health but the potential strength of a character through simple current deck sizing.

The free adventure, Triumph at Saint Kiaro is worth checking out as well. Not only does it provide some visuals as far as how the decks are laid out, but there are premade characters to let you jump right into things.

Final Verdict

Westbound is definitely a game that falls more within the Weird West genre than all the way in the Steampunk one, but, as with many things, I believe those aspects play off of each other fairly well. I love the fact that not only is there a Quickstart Guide available, but there is also a scenario to play through so you can really take the game out for a test spin.

One interesting idea with using a deck of cards as both your stamina and how you do checks is that as you proceed through the day, it might make sense not to take a rest if you have a bunch of higher value cards left in the deck (you wouldn’t want those lower tier cards suddenly showing back up in the deck). While there is some level of randomization even with what can get shuffled back into the deck, this creates a different sort of strain on your character – something not really available in dice games.

This is one of those games I’d like to play in person. The decks of cards make good reminders, plus I can see where if you were to do a campaign, you might have a specific “special” deck for each one (character accessories are always fun). Some of the stretch goals seem to lend themselves to this very idea.

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For more information on Westbound: Revolvers and Rituals check them out here.

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John McGuire

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

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

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