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.

A Few Hidden Movie Gems for The Week of Halloween

Getting right to the meat…

zombie-honeymoon_0

Zombie Honeymoon

I’m not saying it doesn’t have some eye-rolling moments. It may very well not live up to this on rewatch.

But…

We all know that zombie movies are never only about the zombies as much as they are a device to tell a story about people and the world they inhabit. And this movie is no Apocalyptic Wasteland, but more or less a normal life with one small twist:

The husband is slowly turning into a zombie.

So the movie asks you one question: if you truly loved someone, how far would you go for them? And not in an action movie “gotta save my wife/daughter/husband/son” sort of way. This is your husband turning into a creature who kills people. Do you cover it up? He still can have conversations with you. He’s still seems to be the man you fell in love with… only he now eats people.

Do you kill for him?

When is love not enough?

 

Teeth_poster

Teeth

I’m going to get crap about even mentioning this movie. I brought this one to a Halloween movie night and it did not go over well with everyone. Doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching once.

In a ton of ways It Follows delivers on Teeth’s original promise. They both are views on sexuality and how both sexes view the issue differently. They both attempt to capture the old Horror movie standby that SEX = BAD = DEATH.

Except that in Teeth they aren’t saying it is outright bad, only that aggression will be met with aggression. That if you decide to stick your piece somewhere unwanted, well… BAD things are going to occur. Suddenly the woman has the power to defend herself in an unexpected way.

But mostly it is about growing into an adult. How you deal with the changes – both physically and emotionally.

 

the signal

The Signal & Pontypool

I’m grouping them together because they both deal with the idea of communication gone wrong.  I’m reminded of an Twilight Zone episode from the 80s version of the show. Two reporters come to a town to investigate some strange things going on, but what they find is that someone has figured out the Secret of Life. The only problem is that our minds cannot handle the truth, and so we snap.

I’ve always loved that idea of ideas as a virus.

Pontypool deals with the very idea our words can be the thing to cause us to go mad. A DJ, trapped in his station by a snowstorm getting these various updates of madness. And him slowly beginning to understand what might be causing it.

pontypool

With The Signal you get more of the traditional zombie movie, with a strange signal driving the madness. People turning on one another. Divided into three sections, the movie shows how we need to keep our loved ones safe… and how that ultimately may not even be possible.

George Carlin had a routine where he talked about the idea that given how we mistreat the Earth, perhaps our sexually transmitted diseases are the way the planet fights back. That anything related to sex was a no brainer since we all do it, want to do it, or perhaps are currently doing it. Sex is the ultimate delivery system to spread the madness.

So are words.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Things I Have Learned

This past weekend I finished the first draft of the novel I’ve been working on since last year: The Edge of the World. It currently clocks in at over 118,500 words (approx. 474.5 pages is what I ended up calculating – forgive the numbers, I’m an engineer by day – it’s kind of hardwired into my DNA).

button-439152_1920

Throughout the last year it has kind of become just this THING I’m working on. The answer to the epic question that writers tend to get asked (“Hey, what are you working on these days?”). But in some ways it also became this thing that I had to wonder if other people were thinking:

“Wow. He’s been working on that for a while. Is he really doing anything or is he playing XBOX?”

“Wow. He’s been working on that for a while. Is he ever going to finish it?”

“Wow. He’s been working on that for a while. I’ve put out 100 books in that amount of time. God he’s slack!”

Or something to that effect. I don’t know how others really judged it, or how long people really thought it might take (writing a book, I mean).

It certainly took longer than I expected. For comparison I’d say that the first drafts of the other books I’ve worked on went something like this:

The Dark That Follows – 65,000 words – 4 months

Hollow Empire – 45,000 words – 4 months

The White Effect – 95,000 words – 9 months

The Edge of the World – 118,500 – 16 months

Why did those extra 23,500 words take an extra 7 months?

We’ll get back to that in a second. Because I think I’ve learned something with each novel I’ve written. At least that’s the way my mind has tried to analyze each book.

The Dark That Follows by John R McGuire

 

The Dark That Follows

What did I learn?

How to write a book.

It’s an extremely simple answer, but it’s the truth. I’m not saying I learned ever trick I need to know. I’m not saying its a perfect book by any stretch. BUT, it showed me that I had the ability to string words together in some kind of coherent way.

However, the biggest thing it taught me was that I could actually do it. I could sit down with a completely blank page and the barest of bones for a story and FINISH IT. I mean, how many people out there have that idea for a book floating around in their brains? How many of those have started the thing only to abandon it at some point later?

How many finish the damn thing?

 

The White Effect

What did I learn?

Though not out yet, I actually wrote this prior to Hollow Empire. But with it I think I took all the bits and pieces that came with my first book and put them to a better use. It was the difference between Kindergarden and Middle School.

And I proved that I could do it again. A small thing to some people, but an enormous thing to me. You see, if I really want to do this for the long haul, then one book was never going to cut it. One book had to be just that: ONE BOOK. And then there had to be a second, and a third, and so on.

HollowEmpireEP1

 

Hollow Empire

What did I learn?

Collaboration. It’s a word that applies so very much to writing comics. You have so many people working on to bring those things to life. Writers need Pencillers who need Inkers who need Colorists who need Letterers who need Editors who need…

I think you get the point.

So I certainly knew how to collaborate, but to sit down with someone and build a world, a setting… to divide up and then write these characters’ stories. And to then see what the other guy was doing while you were doing your thing. To edit each other. To steal from each other. So many times during the writing there would be moments where I saw something J Edward Neill had written and though “That’s a really cool idea. I wonder if I can use/mention/address/etc it?” (And hopefully he had the same opinion on some of my ideas.)

alaska-566722_1920

 

The Edge of the World

What did I learn?

There is a big push pull among writers that I read about in a myriad of blogs week after week:

Are you a Pantser or are you a Plotter?

For those that don’t know what the hell I mean by those.

A Pantser is a person who “flies by the seat of their pants” when writing. They may only have the vaguest of ideas about what the book is about, where it is going, and how it is going to end. But they trust in their abilities to find the story somewhere deep within them.

A Plotter is someone who actually creates a road map. An outline. You know, that thing your teachers always wanted you to do before you wrote those papers and you hated? Yeah, one of those things. But there are benefits to having that road map in that it is very hard for things to go off the rails. In theory, you have done enough planning that you’ve figured out the bigger plot holes and know how to avoid them.

As to the debate, I say do what you want. What works for you? Then do that. The Dark That Follows was “pants’d”. The White Effect was “plotted”. Hollow Empire had probably a 60/40 split on pants vs plot. And The Edge of the World was very much plotted except in those places it wasn’t.

Which brings me back to those pesky 23,500 words that took an extra 7 months. Early in the draft I use my word count as a gauge on how things are going (told you – engineer). I strive for 1250 words a night (approx. 5 pages). I’ve found that if I hit that number often enough I feel good about the book, and more importantly I feel good about the progress I am making. But with this book I would hit sections that I hadn’t quite mapped out more than maybe a brief sentence. “A thing happens to get our heroes back together.” I figured I would have the answer to what the “thing” was by the time I got to that point.

And sometimes I did. But there were times I still didn’t know. So I skipped ahead and wrote the next scene. Or maybe I skipped two scenes and then wrote the next three after that. Regardless, by the end of this “run” I probably had 60,000 words in 6 months time, but I had so many gaps that suddenly it was affecting things later on.

You see when you leave a section blank and write something later you have to assume certain things. Things the characters might have experienced or learned from an episode. But without knowing what those lessons might be… well, it was almost like being hamstrung on it. Which would be an easy thing to address. Just stop skipping around and write those skipped chapters. No more proceeding until they are all done.

Yet, I didn’t realize that it was a problem until I had written everything else and then needed to go back and fill in. And suddenly the process bogged down. Granted, the book wasn’t the only thing I worked on during this time, but that matters little when you feel like you are getting nothing done on the book. Frustration led to more slowness… and the biggest thing was not Writer’s Block, but maybe the Beast’s cousin visited me. My word counts for the week slowed to a crawl.

Luckily, I made through the weeds and carved a path. I finally hit a groove again in the last couple of months. The words flowed and I kept churning them out. Finally this last week I realized how close I might be to the end.

And then it was done. Following Mr. King’s On Writing advice, I put these drafts in a drawer for a couple of months and work on other things in the meantime… it helps you be able to look at the thing with fresher eyes (always a good thing). Given the holidays, my guess is that the next time I really sit down to edit this book it will be 2016. And I already have some things I know will need to be added or subtracted… but for now…

I’m done.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Two Years Later

Last year I wrote a post celebrating the first 52 weeks worth of blogs. Strange how time goes. Stranger still how some blogs I wrote at midnight the night before they were published get more views than the blogs I stressed over.

Rhyme meet Reason.

So I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorites and maybe offer a couple of others a second chance at being seen.

Searching for a Super Power

manofsteel

Growing up on superhero comics means that you have the thought. You have to. What power would you want if you could have any super power? And it is an important decision because in comics sometimes what power you get reflects who you are (Invisible Girl thought no one noticed her, The Human Torch was a hot-head, etc.). Maybe it can be a bit like the sorting hat in Harry Potter… if you chant it enough as the radioactive goo pours over you.

I mean, what could it hurt?

What if… Last Action Hero was a Good Movie

lastactionhero

Stolen from J Edward Neill‘s various “What if” posts. Mostly I see Last Action Hero as a missed opportunity to do something really cool instead of just playing most of it off as a goof. It’s a movie that really is at war with itself. Wanting to show the humor in the situations, but also wanting to have some kind of dramatic impact as well. And I don’t believe it hits them as hard as it could have.

The Darryl Problem

Walking-Dead-AMC

Maybe people didn’t look because they thought there would be spoilers, but this one goes into the idea of killing off a character just because they are “too popular”.

Which I disagree with immensely.

This is why we can’t have nice things

1024px-Fox_Theater_night

Thoughts on the idea that people always want to tear down anything they don’t like… and they double-down on that attitude if said thing is popular. And I don’t get it. I’ve mostly been a person who if I don’t like something – I just stop watching it, or stop listening to it, but the last thing I try to do is piss all over someone else’s “thing”.

It’s OK if I like something you don’t like and vice versa. Really.

Losing Power

Beach-at-twilight-500x326

Sometimes we need to get away. Sometimes we can’t see today for tomorrow.

Just breathe.

Breathe.

So What’s He Going to Buy With All That Gold?

Weta-Smaug-Breakdown-1

A recent one that started with a question about dragons and their gold and became a little story about who helps the dragon spend all that money. I would say more, but I’d rather you just read it. I like the way it turned out.

There are others that deserve a look, but I think this is a good place to start…

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

True Horror

I want to write about things which go bump in the night. I want to embrace that certain time of year where we all yearn to be scared for some primal reason that we might not ever understand. I want to discover the next horror movie or book or comic or tv show I should be watching in order to get my fix during this month.

I want to talk about all of those things, but I am forced to focus on a different sort of horror this year. The sort of horror that haunts you as it unfolds, but then sticks with you for the remainder of the week… only to happen again and again. The truest horror for any sports fan.

The horror of the wasted season.

Miami_Dolphins_2013

That’s what I’m dealing with 4 weeks into the football season this year. The Miami Dolphins have already fired their coach. This was a team some people thought would not only go to the playoffs, but could/would compete for some glory. A team that was 8-8 last year and whose personnel had gotten better (in theory at least).

Instead it has become the dysfunctional party we all know and love for the better part of a decade. And I can take a team being bad IF (and that’s a big IF) there is a chance for light at the end of the tunnel. IF there is a way for this to be a temporary measure. In fact, that’s basically what this last Baseball Season was for me. For the first time I don’t think I watched a full Atlanta Braves game. Oh, I still kept up with them on a near daily basis, still read the articles, read the blogs, watched at the trade deadline to see what moves they made.

But I knew this season was going to be bad. I knew there was almost 0% chance of them being in any race other than one of the poorer records in all of baseball. And I can deal with that. Next year needs to be better, and then the year after they should be in the hunt for a playoff spot (if the powers that be are to be believed).

Here’s the difference with the Dolphins, I go through this every 3 or 4 years with them. They either get a new coach or a new system or a new “something” and suddenly they are the vogue pre-season pick to do grand things. You’d think that after falling for this multiple times over the better part of a decade I would have steeled myself from such stupidity, but NOOOOOO, I am clearly a glutton for punishment. I buy in. “This is going to be the thing that pushes us up to the top, just you wait and see.”

Only to watch it all crumble and die on the vine.

I mean, our head coach was fired on Monday. And as much as I think that was the right move for the team at this point, what do I honestly think is going to come of this season? We’re 1-3 with a schedule that I thought we could be at least 5-1 after 6 games. Our next two opponents are weak (compared to us though they might be world-beaters). So what is realistic? 4 wins? 5 wins over the course of a season?

And don’t think me “fair-weathered” here. I watched every game of our 1-15 season. I will watch every game of this season. I’m just tired of the same things happening over and over and over again.

Sigh.

And the worst part is that I’ve dragged my wife down on this ship with me. She could have found a nice guy who liked deflated balls and won Super Bowls, but she got someone who liked the team from south Florida.

When Do I Get To See The Sailboat?

When Do I Get To See The Sailboat?

We joke in the house about when will we get to see the sailboat – meaning, when will one of our teams win the big one. But right now we are still like Wilhem from Mallrats…

Still looking for that damn boat.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Take a Look, It’s in a Book, Part 2

A few more smallish book reviews for a few of the things I’ve been reading over the last few months:

Designers-and-Dragons

Designers and Dragons – Shannon Appelcline

For a long time Dungeons and Dragons proved to be one of the ways that I gained the friends I had in high school. That close-knit group which formed due to our mutual love of a game without a board, where you were encouraged to act, where you’d go from Tavern to Dungeon and everything in between. Some of my best memories from High School center around late Friday nights spent laughing and rolling dice until we couldn’t focus anymore.

Designers and Dragons let me tap into that just a little bit by showing me the history of the game(s) I loved so much. Split up by decade (70s, 80s, 90s, & 00s), I have read the 70s and 90s ones so far and the amount of information I’ve gained about not only Dungeons and Dragons, but the whole history of roleplaying left me a bit amazed at how things actually went down back then. Rival groups, people creating new gaming systems over the course of a weekend, and the boom and bust cycle which seems to grip the industry every 10 years or so. The ideas people came up with, started their own companies, made mistakes, broke their word… I mean you could do a movie that would have all the drama you could ever need.

Just fascinating stuff. If you have any interest in the actual history of roleplaying I highly recommend these books.

I’ve taken a break from it for now, but I have the last 2 volumes ready to go when I am ready to delve back in.

The Red King

The Red King – Nick Cole

What do you get when you get a bunch of authors together and decide to end the world?

You get Apocalypse Weird.

Each book written by a different author, the overall series gives us a view of a world gone to hell. Whether it is zombies, or rage monsters, or terminator style creatures, or anything else you could think of… the authors have carved out their own little places across America.

But it all starts with The Red King. And zombies. And trying to find a way in the new world when everything is going to shit. Luckily the best thing about zombie fiction is that while the zombies are nice to see, the real story is always about the people in the middle of it all.

But there is a bigger story going on here. Something possibly otherworldly, possibly alien, possibly older than the world itself… beings who play with humanity like masters play chess.

And the best part is that The Red King is free on Amazon.

And you can see all the books here.

Abraham_Dragons-Path-TP-220x330

The Dragon’s Path – Daniel Abraham

I have a friend who is always on a constant lookout for more good fantasy books. Whether it is in tv show form or in comic book form or novels. He’d been telling me about this series (The Dagger and the Coin series) for a few months, so I gave it a shot.

I’m so happy I did. I’m now onto book 2…

You want a book with epic stakes? You want a book where civilizations crumble before your very eyes? You want a book that main characters die?

Well then read something else.

You want to read about people wearing false masks. Trying to cover up who they really are. People on the run from their pasts, trying to avoid their futures. People who are just trying to get by in the world, and yet the world keeps laughing in their faces. That’s what this book is about. It is about a girl without a home. It is about a man who is without a company. It is about a young man who is lost in a sea of politics. And it is about an older man who is lost because his King doesn’t act the way he wished he would.

I wish I could explain more about the book. What I can say is multiple times I laughed with the characters. I had those moments where I wanted to pump my fist because something had happened. And multiple times I sat dumbfounded that one of the characters had acted so… evil isn’t the exact word I want to use… human. They aren’t heroes, they are just people who are flawed and make mistakes.

And I am utterly taken with the entire story.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Cryptids – The Strange and Weird

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

 

Top 5 Cryptids

What’s that? You don’t know what a Cryptid is? They are the creatures that we all know exist, deep down in our heart, but there is actually no real evidence that the beast exists. All we have is possible sightings, hearsay, and rumor from the past. And yes, as the world gets smaller and smaller by the advances in technology, the very idea that any of these things could actually be out there seems to be more and more a dream. Still…

When I was younger I remember a book I had. I’m not sure where I got it, though I suspect it was at one of our school’s book fairs. It talked about monsters, both in movies and those that might exist in real life. So you had everything from Godzilla to Bigfoot and anything in between. I love this kind of stuff. The idea that we both know the world around us and yet, at the back of our minds, there is that question. Maybe they do exist?

And before you dismiss them outright, consider this… when the first people reached Australia they described a creature that stood on 2 legs, jumped like a frog and sometimes had 2 heads.

Obviously a horror like that couldn’t exist… right?

kangaroo-663272_1280

Obviously doesn’t exist in the real world.

 

So, before October and Halloween greets us properly, I thought I’d reflect on a few of my favorites.

Loch Ness – I know that there are other ones out there, but Loch Ness is the first one I read about. And the one I wonder how it could still be a possibility. I get that the lake is huge, but come on, with our modern technology we can’t find a dinosaur in there, somewhere? Nobody has decided to chum the water hoping the thing will take a bite and show himself.

No, this one I have written off a long time ago. I mean, it would just be too cool to have a real life dinosaur still exist somewhere out there. Just too cool… can’t let that happen.

Mongolian Death Worm – Electrical discharge. Acid Spewing. Big old red worm that lives in the desert.

Check, check, check.

I don’t know if this is one I love like many of the others below, but I certainly am terrified by the possibility of such a creature. Where most cryptids have maybe one ability, this one comes like a nightmare. Or maybe it is the most “little kid creature”. Almost like someone asked a 6-year old what would scare them the most, and then didn’t stop him when he kept going.

“And then he would be able to turn things yellow… and then…”

Kraken – It would have to appear on this list for one reason alone:

“Unleash the Kraken!”

THE KRAKEN CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)

Still, the old stories from pirates and seamen about this great squid creature that might live in the depths below. They stirred something in my brain, conjuring up images of great tentacles grabbing a hold of ships and ripping them in two. And then I read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

There is already so much underneath the surface of the ocean, why not be fearful of one more thing.

“We’re going to need a bigger boat.” Indeed.

cemetery-395953_1280

Beast of Gevaudan – I’m sorry, but this is just one step away from werewolves, honestly. A bunch of larger, stranger wolves terrorize the French countryside in the 1760s to the point that the royalty have to issue a decree in order to deal with them. In fact, something has to be going on with the wolves over in France as that wasn’t even the first time they had terrorized the nation. In the 1450s a pack of wolves (again, obviously werewolves, right?) attacked the Parisians to the point that they named the pack leader (Courtaud) and ended up luring them into the city and stoned them in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Heck, I even read a book about the later incident which turned me on to the Beast’s story. Which I did a brief review of here.

I mean, you can never go wrong with werewolves.

Bigfoot – I think this is the one that started my love of these mysterious creatures on this list. Up there along with dinosaurs, this was one of those creatures my 10-year old self was convinced had to exist, and my 39-year old self isn’t 100% on it either.

In my mind I still see that footage from the 70s? (is that right? – turns out it was 1967) with the “Bigfoot” walking, taking a moment to regard whomever is recording the video, and then disappearing into the forest. And while that video is probably a fake, I have to believe that somewhere, in the undiscovered wilderness is a small population of these creatures who have occasionally been encountered and mistaken for a bear or large gorilla or even a hairy man. All these other cultures have their versions from North America to Asia… it can’t just be a hoax. It can’t just be fantasy.

Can it?

Maybe I just want things to be real. Maybe I like the idea of a world where a tiny bit of magic still exists in the unexplained.

Maybe…

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

So What’s He Going To Buy With All That Gold?

Currently in rotation on HBO are all the Hobbit films. And while I’m not the biggest fan of the book, I find I’m watching bits and pieces of the movies here and there as I flip through the channels. However, there is one scene that I must turn to and watch in its entirety every opportunity I get:

Weta-Smaug-Breakdown-1

Smaug.

Smaug slowly revealing himself from under a treasure trove that would invoke Dragon Sickness on Thorin. Smaug talking with Bilbo, toying with him, showing him exactly how impressive he might be. And the extremes he goes to prove that the dwarves will never retake the mountain.

I love every minute of it.

Yet, the other night I was watching these sequences and a strange thought popped into my head:

Why does Smaug (or any dragon) need all that gold? And it isn’t just him – so many of these creatures throughout our myths are guarding a treasure horde. It is a staple such that in Dungeons and Dragons it is not questioned. The only questions anyone has any real concern to answer are: how much is the horde worth? Are we powerful enough to kill the beast guarding it?

But I feel like there is more to this idea.

***

The cavern shone whenever the tiniest glint of light broke through. In those instances, the gleam would bounce from coin to coin, making them sparkle. It would illuminate the lighter colored gems so they became tiny lanterns dotting the golden mound. Under this light the true spectacle could be seen. Appreciated. Gold and diamonds and coins and gems and… a myriad of skeletal forms cooked to a crisp inside their metal armor.

That same treasure acted as a beacon to some. Bands of adventurers who wove odd stories about how the dragon claimed their birthrights… their home. How every coin buried there was theirs to recover. Indeed, all of it would be restored to its rightful owners.

Yes, the cavern might have once belonged to dwarves or mountain men or even an orc herd, but it was the dragon’s now and had been for decades. It was his home. And more importantly, so were the riches it used as a bed.

For while the previous owners certainly contributed to its girth, not everything was from a singular conquest.

***

Krench moved into the cavern. Ever a creature of habit, he made sure to bring along a lantern, even if the act was worthless. At the outer chamber a familiar warmth ran down his leg. Long gone were the days he might have made excuses for such an action. How it could have been explained away as an involuntary response to the immense fear coursing throughout his body.

If his nephew smelled the urine, he did not show it. For that, Krench was grateful. There was far too much left to teach the lowly creature for them to become bogged down in such a trivial thing.

“The thing that no one understands is exactly what the Great Wyrm does with all his riches. The outsiders believe he simply slumbers on them. They make up superstitions where he extracts some form of nourishment from the metals in the coin allowing him to generate his awesome flame. They suppose he is vain and loves the way the gold and silver flicker in the darkness.

“Does that even make any kind of sense? It is up there with those who claim he stole the entire amount.

book-316391_1280

“Lies! And I have the numbers to prove it.” Krench patted the large book tucked under other arm. “A quick reading of this would inform everyone that of his original horde, only thirty percent was from what the dwarves possessed. Then there was the twenty-five percent in tribute from the lizard men. Another ten percent from random caravans he assaulted when bored. The last thirty-five percent an investment with the orcs that paid him quite well upon their successful campaign against the elves.”

The tunnel tightened enough that they both were forced to duck. His nephew passed through the narrow opening first and took the lantern and book from him while he made his way. Holding the items, the younglings resembled him decades earlier. His mind would be a swirl, a jumble mass of expectations, questions, theories, and who knows what else. To his credit, no questions were posed, but Ketch knew the sermon was far from finished. There was just too much to prepare him for. To explain how the world really worked.

“Once a week the Dragon’s Accountant must journey here to give a full account on all his holdings.” That got the boy’s attention. “I know your question: how would his horde ever change? He’s sleeping on the lot of it.

“And that’s the secret. He’s not. That’s small level thinking. For a creature such as this, who counts his life in decades or even centuries, you must expand on all of that. And this one has holdings as far east as Silverpool, as far north as the great seas… where ever money might exchange hands the likelihood is very high some of the coin originated here.”

“That inn located at the crossroads of Madras and Danan. Where all the caravans stop. Where lords and ladies and even princes have stayed… he owns a fifty percent stake. The blacksmith shop in Butte has worked out a nice living for himself because of a certain anonymous investor.

“A fleet of ships supporting the Merchant Guild in Silverpool.

“And the latest Duke of Parthan, who somehow found enough of a foreign inheritance to afford the new title and the lands which come with it.”

Krench let it all sink in.Watching his nephew’s eyes dart back and forth, a mind at work. After a few moments, a toothy grin emerged.

“Not to mention the coinage itself. Think about it, most of the coinage will be old. Then after a time it will be very old. Then ancient. Kingdoms and empires rise and fall in the blink of an eye (well, from His point of view). They mint new coins, phase out the old ones… and no one wants to have worthless coins. So periodic exchanges have to occur. In small enough amounts not to arouse suspicion, but in enough transactions so that you actually gain some ability to pay for what you want to invest in.”

The first of the outer doors appeared at the end of the tunnel. Remnants of the previous owners. A loose stone along the right side of the door, halfway down, provided the opening mechanism. Krench pushed until he heard the click and the engraved doors shifted open.

“What people don’t understand is dragons are ancient creatures. On a long enough timeline, barring random adventurers stumbling in and murdering them in their homes, they might well live forever. Even the ancient elves appear to wither in the eyes of dragons.

“But forever is a long time. And while they may share more in common with cats in their sleeping habits- they still wish to be entertained. And with the level of money they possess… well, pulling the strings on some of the humanoid peoples is a pleasant distraction.

“More than anything else, he knows history will repeat itself if you let it. So he can push and pull. Nudge things along for the better. Well, for his better.

“You see, dragons have gotten a horrible reputation as being evil. But what no one will tell you is the word is made up. They simply don’t realize have the perspective to appreciate everything as it moves and twists and turns. The elves… yes, they might, but the lower races, the dwarves and humans and halflings and gnomes and orcs… the lot of them just don’t live long enough. So they make up new stories to explain the world around them. And more often than not they only have the vaguest of memories as to what came before. The devastation, the wars, the armies… evil.”

They were getting lower now, the tunnel’s slope increased to the point Krench had to hand the lantern over to his nephew. They both stumbled a bit, but neither lost their footing. A hundred feet or so later things flattened out once more, and he took the burden back.

“Of course, they don’t know about the art. Creatives need funding as well. Ancient dragons need songs and maybe stories to be written about them. To be retold for the next generation. And who’s going to pay those bards to make such beautiful art? He is.

“Exotic animals? Seems strange, but my father explained it to me. Some days you want beef and some days you want Minotaur. Nothing wrong with either. And when you exist at the top of the food chain and have this level of wealth…”

Richard_Caton_Woodvilles_The_Battle_of_Towton

Richard Caton Woodville, Jr. [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“My great-grandfather realized one undeniable truth: wars cost money. Conquests. Paying armies to conquer the world. It’s a terrible business plan. First you outlay all of that money on the mercenaries. You pay to feed them. To forge weapons for them. To build the forges. To build the siege equipment. And all of that work and gold guarantees absolutely nothing.

“Up to that revelation, the Dragon’s Accountant merely handed out the sacks of gold to the mercenaries and kept a log of it all in the book. But it was a drain on the coffers, and no amount of caravans would cover the loss. That pile he sleeps on will surely drain until he’s sleeping on stone like some commoner. No! That would not stand! So he dared to pose a single idea: if the Great Wyrm really wished to take over the kingdom, then why not buy it instead?”

Careful to turn the key two times to the left and then once to the right (no one wanted a face sprayed with acid from a trap set to keep the undesirables out), Krench led them into the cavern proper. Pausing to let the younger of them take the sight in, he pushed his spectacles back up his long snout. Long ago the glitter was enough to nearly blind him. Too many restless nights were spent trying to determine exactly how one might extract such a mass from the mountain. When his own father passed the Book onto him, he spent more than enough time to understand how moving even one coin was as important as the whole of it.

Later, when he took a full account of the book, Krench realized some of the investments had gone sideways. A small war between human kingdoms, a great flood, and suddenly there was a loss to report for the fifth year in a row. Such a glorious day filled with fire to signify the passing of duties to the next Accountant.

“Krench…” The Great Wyrm stretched out his name so that it appeared to come from everywhere and nowhere all at once.

The two of them moved over to the large platform where he would deliver the latest news. As they climbed the steps, crafted so long ago by rough dwarvish hands, he pushed the book into his nephew’s arms. There was no need for it anymore.

Dragons were patient creatures, but above everything else they did not like to lose money.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Comic Challenge, Part 6 (21-24)

For the first 5 in this series, check out: 1 & 2 & & 4 & 5.

21. Comic That Changed the Way You See the World

spawn-1

Spawn #1

Yeah, I know. It’s a weird one to put as the answer to this question. A query which deserves some great piece of art as its answer. Something that truly stupefied me when I read it for the first time.

Before Spawn I didn’t know who created my comics. Obviously I knew Marvel or DC or occasionally Dark Horse, but I didn’t know who the creators were that were writing or drawing (or inking or coloring or editing or… you get the point) my favorite comic books. I never spent all that long on the credits page – get me to the MEAT!

Even when Todd McFarlane was drawing Spider-man, I didn’t really notice anything special (yes, I am the only one). But even I got caught up in the hype of Image Comics and the big name artists who were leaving Marvel in order to start their own company. Suddenly I knew at least 6 names of artists – and suddenly I realized how much I dug McFarlane’s art. So when he launched Spawn, well… it was the first time I was reading something because of who was doing it rather than the character they were writing or drawing.

22. Underrated Comic Book Series

Annihilation_Prologue_Vol_1_1_Textless

Annihilation

For the longest time the Marvel Cosmic Universe was this thing that got shoved to the side. No one really mentioned it other than an occasional Silver Surfer appearance in some random comic here or there. Which was a little annoying since I was always a fan of those stories. For some reason they felt like anything could happen because they weren’t confined to make sure New York appeared the same issue after issue. This was a place where alien races, some we’d known from the 1960s and some we were just discovering ruled and schemed…

And all that came apart at the seems with Annihilation. A wave of destruction that sought to wipe out all life throughout the universe.

It was a mini series that was left to tell its own story (again, not worrying about what was happening this month in X-Men). And the characters were not the ones you might expect. Nova, Silver Surfer, Super-Skrull… heck Star Lord made his “modern” debut.

Without this comic series I’m pretty sure that no one would know who Star Lord or Groot or Rocket or Gamora or Drax were. This is where things got started again for those who lived in the cosmos.

23. Old Comic You Love

what if

What If?

All those movies about alternate worlds, all those episodes of Sliders, all that thought after watching Twilight Zone or Star Trek’s Mirror, Mirror episode… what if a comic did that monthly for their own stories they were telling?

Well you’d get a comic book that is right in this guy’s wheelhouse.

And it’s not so much the stories themselves. Sure I’ve often wondered what might have happened if Gwen Stacy hadn’t died, or if the Fantastic Four had different powers, but the key thing was taking these ideas into very dark places the writers didn’t have a chance to do normally. You think that hero would probably die now due to X thing? Well, then he’s probably dying.

I still haven’t read all the ones from the original series, but I do have an older trade which collects a bunch of them, and then I have a bunch of the run from the 90s… but if you wanted a series where you might not legitimately be able to figure out the ending, then this was the one.

24. Comic Series that makes me smile.

Starman_Vol_2_57

Starman

Legacy character in the DC Universe. Check.

Reluctant hero. Check.

Once a year talks to his dead brother and gets advice. Check!

Starman was one of those comics that shouldn’t have really worked all that well. I mean, Starman had a comic in the 80s, a failed experiment in the 70s, and he was typically one of those characters who was just “around”. But James Robinson pulled together a family legacy of the surviving son doing his best to live up to the ideals of his father, while still retaining his own personality.

What really amazed me about the book is that nothing feels wasted. Nothing is really a throw away issue. Everything builds on itself, not just continuity, but the feel of the book. Maybe Robinson was getting more confident as time went on. Maybe those early seeds he plants in the comic are growing in just the right way. I don’t know the why, but I do know I devoured it each and every month. It is currently on my list of comics I need to reread (just as soon as I catch up on my current stack).

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Never Happy

We’re never happy. I read this article today and now am resigned to actively root against my favorite books, favorite comics, old movies, old novels – because I’m contributing to the downfall of my way of life…

Or something like that.

Instead I’m here to say: enjoy it while it lasts. Instead of looking forward to a time when superhero movies don’t make billions at the box office, just find a way to be happy. I waited twenty years to see Spider-man actually look good on the big screen. I read Avengers comics and never thought I’d ever see any of those characters up there. That the gifts from my youth would become things that could bridge the generations of old fans to new ones.

Nostalgia is not seen as a good thing. That’s the refrain of many. The proliferation of it means that it makes money… that it is no longer done for the “love of the game” so to speak.

records-143468_1280

But it doesn’t have to be.

We’re nostalgic for the old things. Yet we forget the bad in there, when we were called names because of what we liked.

Woo hoo! Good times!

Yeah, I don’t think so.

We want to be nostalgic and then get angry when someone co-ops that passion. We want to stand off to the side and be apart and talk about how you liked something more BEFORE.. back in the day.

Why?

Hey man, movies used to mean something. Movies used to make you think. Hey man, books used to mean something. Hey man, music used to mean something.

Hey man…

Shut up. Stop whining.

Yes, money helps to trigger all of this. If Iron Man flopped we probably don’t get the Avengers movie (and we definitely don’t ever see a Guardians of the Galaxy grace our screens). For every Pixels which feats on those old ideas (video games) we love, but apparently fails to connect with an audience – we also get a novel like Ready Player One which embraces it and forces you to embrace it and remember how much you loved the same things.

How many comic TV shows are too many?

I don’t know, but let’s f-ing find out!

How many video game related items from the 80s can be referenced in something. Who cares? I love them all?

footloose

Hey, let’s redo Footloose!

Ok, maybe they’ve gone too far.

A friend of mine and I lament that Game of Thrones hasn’t launched a thousand fantasy things (comics, movies, tv shows, etc.). We both cut our teeth on Dungeons and Dragons so we enjoy those type things, but so far it hasn’t penetrated as far as I would like. However, if in 5 years everyone is doing THEIR fantasy story… well, that will be great. Why should I be upset with that? The bad ones will get weeded out, and the good ones will be consumed and enjoyed.

I think we trick ourselves into believing that things were always better “back when”. Oh yeah, it was awesome to go to the library and stumble through pages upon pages of text before finding that nugget of information for that report I’m doing. Yeah, that’s ole’ internet just is garbage compared to that, eh?

Everything is cyclical. You need to enjoy it while it lasts. Hollywood knows that better than most. And while today it’s superheroes or geek culture, but before that were the musicals and the westerns and the war movies and gangster movies and the epics and the 80’s action movies and the slasher films and the…

You see what I mean?

And I’m not without my own biases. I wish there was more rock out there that I liked. I wish MTV hadn’t strayed so far from it over the last twenty years. But I also know that if I tried hard enough, I could still find a thing or two to like.

Much hand wring and teeth gnashing is done because we are only seeing things that have been done before. People cry out “where are the new ideas?” But we forget about all the good things which do make it to the screen (or to the bookstore or to the… you get the point). Straight out of Compton. Ex Machina. It Follows. And hopefully The Martian (a movie based on an “Indy” book). We only want to lament that… “ugh, everyone likes everything I like. It’s not mine anymore to enjoy.”

Isn’t that what we wanted? Isn’t this thing we like becoming more popular (which means MORE of it) what we’ve been waiting for?

Dragon Con 2014

This weekend thousands of people will descend upon Atlanta, Georgia for Dragon Con (and others will be here for the start of college football and have really odd looks on their faces at those of us at Dragon Con). While I’m certainly not a fan of long lines and fighting people to get a look at dealer’s booths this is the price I pay for OUR geek stuff finally getting its due. Yes, we could crawl back into the basement spending our time organizing our comics and watching thrice-dubbed imports or we can embrace the idea that while we will need to feed the machine, we also will get more voices out there to help make up the slack. The other refrain is that it has never before been easier to “Create”. Anything you want: movies, tv shows, podcasts, books, comics, stand-up, music, poetry.

bunker-554239_1280

Do you want to go back into the darkness? Really?

 

It was the best of times and it was the worst of times.

Except, it doesn’t need to be the worst.

Stop focusing on the BAD… ALL OF THE TIME.

Just stop!

Things change. Eventually the times will change and all the Eyores will wonder – “why don’t people like X thing? Remember when everyone liked that thing? It was awesome. I wish we could go back to then.”

This is THEN. This is NOW. Embrace it. Love it.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Movies that I Don’t Like…

But lots of people do.

I did a blog on various movies I should have seen by this point in my life. Sadly for me, I’ve apparently spent a small portion of that time on some other movies that either other people told me I’d enjoy or are considered “classic” by the world at large. What follows is a handful of those movies, and why I never really either “got” it or just why I don’t care for it.

If these happen to be your favorites, just remind yourself that I am also the guy who likes A Knight’s Tale and you’ll quickly forgive my stupidity.

Funny Games

This is one of those critically acclaimed movies that I had never heard of before I stumbled onto it one late night. And I watched this strange horror movie play out much like many horror movies play out. Two youths who have little to nothing better to do end up terrorizing a family throughout.

FunnyGames_4Sht5B15D

Nothing to see here, right?

Except the main villain constantly breaks the 4th wall, a twisted Ferris Bueller. And while strange, I don’t have a problem with the idea of talking to the audience. It made things a little different, and offered a little bit of spice to the viewing.

Until the villain is able to literally rewind the movie at a certain point to change the outcome back into his favor. I immediately checked to make sure I hadn’t done it myself, or just been in a dream world along with the characters in the movie, but no… that just happened. And for some reason where I was willing to go along with every other tweak or oddity… that was just too much for me to deal with.

And really, that should have been the very thing which put it over the top for me.

A Clockwork Orange

Fundamentally I don’t get the love for this movie. Oh, I get the idea of showing the future as something disturbing, a distopia where violence is celebrated by the youth of their time. And is forcing someone to not be the way they were supposed to be, “curing” them of their afflictions the right way to go about helping bad people or is it a case where you have to want to change. You have to want to be cured?

Clockwork'71

All great questions.

But watching the movie I felt like it was an assault on my senses (and not in a good way). Violence shown for the sake of violence being shown. Kubrick certainly does his job of putting us in his protagonist’s world where feeding oneself is the only rule that you should have.

It was just one of those that I don’t think I could deal with. Too much.

Raising Arizona

Chalk this one up to seeing it on HBO on an almost daily basis back in the late 80s. At first it was this funny little movie about a couple stealing a baby and the guy’s wacky convict friends trying to get involved and then there is a bounty-hunter at the end.

Raising Arizona

And it was fine (a word my wife thinks is a 4-lettered word when I say it).

But as time has gone on it became this rallying cry for people I knew. Everyone had seen it. Fine (there it is again!). But they all LOVED it. I mean this was one of the greatest movies they’d ever seen. They spoke glowingly of this stupid movie where the convict buddies are “birthed” during their escape. It was almost like they wanted to apply some higher-level thought to what should have been a fairly simple movie.

And for some reason, with every utterance of glory heaped upon this movie, it transformed from “Fine” to “Ugh” to “that f-ing movie, really?!?”

I haven’t watched it since. I can’t do it, because while there is a thin hope I will find enjoyment in it once again, there is just as much of a chance that I’ll remember every little “glorious” idea, and it will grate on me during the entire viewing.

Airplane!

Wait! Don’t click away. I have an excuse. I had just gotten my wisdom teeth removed that day. Hopped up on painkillers my friends decided to stop by and brought something they thought I’d get a chuckle out of. Instead what I saw was a slough of things that my drug-addled mind just did not think was funny.

airplane

Nothing will make you realize how surreal things are when you are the only one NOT laughing at a funny movie. And that was my experience for EVERY joke they told.

Given the circumstances, I’m willing to give it another try, but I can never bring myself to actually do it. I’m sure if I did it would end up giving me some kind of psychedelic style flashback where I’m 18 again and worried about some high school test.

That is not what I’d like to remember, thank you very much.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Doom

Doctor Doom.

This is one of those things I can’t get my head around. Why is it that the Fantastic Four movies can’t get him right? Why is it that they want to tie him into the origin of the rest of them so badly?

And why oh why do they constantly turn him into a one dimensional character. Doctor Doom is nothing if not nuanced.  He’s not going to be concerned with a stock going up or down. He’s not going to be concerned with what the rest of the world thinks of him. He’s no…

Actually let me tell you why he is an interesting character, and then you tell me if they f-ed him up or not.

 

Every year he journeys to Hell in order to try and save his mother’s soul.

drs strange and doom 00

Oh, yeah, years previous his mother made a deal with the Marvel Devil (Mephisto) and when she died went to Hell. So every year Doom summons up the demon and challenges him to a duel (which he loses every year). He loses every year, gets to face some of his worst fears, is truly humbled… and then comes back the following year to do it again.

 

He Learned Magic from Morgan Le-Fey.

While not the exact version from our Arthurian Legends, it’s a pretty close version.

I mean that’s gotta be worth a couple of points right there.

 

He is as smart as Reed Richards.

If you were to rank the the characters in the Marvel Universe, Reed Richards would place as #1. Then if you examined things a little further you’d realize that while you ranked Doom #2 – he has divided his attention between both scientific pursuits and magical ones. Magic – that thing Richards thinks is just another form of science he hasn’t quite figured out yet.

Ergo, you might say that he is smarter. Or at least that’s what he’d say.

 

He’s the leader of his own nation!

Latveria, located somewhere in eastern Europe, is not only run by Doom (giving him Diplomatic Immunity when he is in the USA), but the people there legitimately LOVE him. There was a story where he was disposed and things went to complete shit… to the point the Fantastic Four had to help him get back in power.

 

He’s the godfather of Valeria Richards.

190760_original

How many people would allow their daughter to have a godfather who constantly tries to kill them? Well when Susan Richards went through a life or death pregnancy and Reed was nowhere to be found… who did they call for help? Victor Von Doom. Who then named the little girl.

Mostly I just love the fact that he genuinely cares for this girl in a way that I wasn’t sure would be possible. And woe onto anyone who tries to harm the child.

 

He wears a suit of armor and still doesn’t sweat Magneto

DoomvMagneto

 

He once took over the world and then actually made the Earth a paradise!

In the Emperor Doom graphic novel, Doom is able to use the Purple Man’s powers of persuasion to gain control over everyone on the planet (save for a couple of Avengers… meddling do-gooders). And when the Purple Man calls into question how legitimate the victory really is, Doom steps into the room with him and removes his mask and the following happens:

Doom and purple man

 

He’s taken the Beyonder’s powers.

In the Marvel Universe the Beyonder is one of the ultimate power movers and shakers. A god of sorts who, for his own amusement, brought a bunch of heroes and villains to an alien world to watch them fight it out.

Well Doom is no man’s puppet.

2407785-marvelsuperheroessecretwars10

He took the “god’s” power and for a short time, kept it.

 

There are tons of others:

He saved Kitty Pryde’s life when she had been injured by the Marauders (with a tiny bit of help from Reed Richards).

He’s fought Iron Man in Arthurian times.

He’s appeared on the old Spider-man cartoons! I mean, that’s probably the biggest reason right there.

So you tell me, did the movies do him justice?

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Is it too late for the Fantastic Four?

So the Fantastic Four movie came out this weekend. I did not see it. I will eventually see it when it hits OnDemand or some such nonsense, but I was kind of iffy on the whole idea of them rebooting the franchise in the first place after they did such a bleh job with the first two movies.

FF movie poster

Let me set the record straight though… I try to maintain an open mind when it comes to these movies. Just because it is not Marvel Studios does not immediately mean that it is going to be terrible or awful or whatever. Most of the X-Men movies would like to explain that they vehemently disagree with such a statement (as would the first 2 Rami Spider-man movies, but I digress). I try to keep an open mind when it comes to Ben Affleck as Batman because I remember reading about how no one thought Michael Keaton could do the job in the 80s and he killed it.

is-michael-keaton-jealous-of-ben-affleck-s-batman-michael-keaton-batman-returns

<Alright John, they get it. Now on with the skewering.>

Right, the FF movies. What is going on over at Fox? I can’t believe that they can’t figure this property out. I wrote about the seeing the trailer back in January and just the overall concept of the Fantastic Four here. But what I can’t figure out is that they have 50 years worth of stories with these heroes and they keep going off the rails trying to make it different or trying to tie Doctor Doom in with their origins.

So it makes me ask: is the Fantastic Four something that just can’t work in a movie format? Are they too much of a product of either their time or the idea that they are not really superheroes first (they’re explorers). If that is the case it is nothing to be ashamed of. There have been plenty of excellent comic book writers who didn’t seem to “get” one aspect of the FF or another. It isn’t an easy concept to wrap your brain around because if you only have them exploring the unknown then are audiences going to wonder where the heck the superhero fights are? And when they treat them as more superhero than not… well we get what we’ve always gotten.

So now, after such a dismal opening weekend (about 1/2 of what they were expecting) it’s caused the hard-core Marvel Studios fans to hope that THIS might be the thing to get control back in the right hands. These are the same people that prior to the movie’s release were hoping for this exact outcome. That if FOX loses too much money they will “come to their senses” and send the property packing.

The thing is, had Marvel Studios had the rights to Fantastic Four and X-Men and Spider-man we wouldn’t have the Avengers franchise (or certainly not the way it is today). Marvel had to look at their library and realize “we don’t have some of our top line characters… what the hell do we have?”

If FF were brought back into the fold, would they even want to focus on those characters for the time being? Sure we’d get mention of the Baxter Building, but those types of Easter Eggs are for the hard-core fans. Marvel already has its slate of movies for the next 4, 5? years it seems. They have a plan and seem to want to stick to it. The last thing you want is another of these movies pushed just because they have the rights back (plus the movie-going audience may not forget how bad this one seems to be – that’s going to be an uphill battle just to start).

I guess there is one reason for me to get on the bandwagon in regards to Marvel getting the rights back… maybe Doom can show up in an Avengers movie. Maybe that’s the one thing that might be able to rehabilitate the first family of Marvel?

Victor_von_Doom_(Earth-616)

A well done Doom would be amazing.

 

<Oh and why can’t they just steal a rocket in order to go into space? Given the private industry side of things when it comes to rockets to outer space… this idea makes more sense now than it did in the 60s (Space Race aside)… Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Please.>

<Just something else I don’t understand.>

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Don’t Look Back

The saying (or the song, I can’t remember which it really is) goes – Don’t Look Back in Anger…

Yet, we as humans are really conditioned to either reflect or to advance. I’ve talked about before how we should all live in the present tense. That too much time spent on the past or the future is not good for you.

Today I’m doubling down. I’m here to say, don’t look back.

Don’t play the What If Game. You know the one, where you take every success and failure, every “I should have taken a left turn at Albuquerque”… all of them and pull on that thread for days.

rsz_bugs_2_4558

Bugs totally gets it.

 

It keeps us up at night. The only worth to spending all the time obsessing and worrying is if we (somehow) come to a conclusion (and we almost never do) and then make different choices the next time we are presented with that problem (yeah, maybe that will happen). Which is kind of the rub in all of it, because you will never be put back into that exact situation again, with those exact sequence of events leading you to the EVENT. You are the person today exactly because you made the “wrong choice” way back when.

Something with writers though, we’re never truly done with something. Up until the moment someone hits the publish button on the blog, short, comic, novel, movie, whatever, the work is never truly done. Oh, it can be version one thousand seven hundred and fifty three… and you can swear up and down that you aren’t going to look at the damn thing one more time. That it is as done as it ever is going to be.

All of it is lies we tell ourselves so that we can sleep at night.

I caught a random glimpse at a piece of writing I worked on a couple of years ago. Something I had not even looked at since it had become “locked” (though it hasn’t been locked fully, hence why it was getting looked at). And in doing the quickest read of a section of the script I had to shake my head… because I saw something that suddenly irritated me was even in there. And I KNEW I could fix it. That line which was fine back then, now grates the back of my mind.

writing-letter

Crazy. The thing has been sitting out there for over two years, but…

I can fix it.

I should look on that line and smile at its imperfect structure. It’s awkward bits of dialogue. The clunkiness and how it falls from the mouth like a piece of lead. I should celebrate its very existence, and I should be overjoyed not because it is bad, but because I can see the flow within it. I should be happy that the bits and pieces of writing I have compiled over the last few years has given me a new form of insight (whether I realize it or not). The very idea that I can suddenly recognize the mistakes of my past should be a triumph.

But I can’t and I won’t, because it’s wrong now and needs to be fixed. I need to pull out the file and fix it. Right now. Stop the presses, don’t take another moment doing something else. Who cares if we’re long past the point where I should be able to change things. Who cares if it probably has bothered no one else on the project before now.

I mean if I was to even mention it to the co-writers they might get some form of the earworm and be unable to focus on their day to day lives without reliving the sentence.

ear-worm

Wrath of Khan Style Earworm!

 

That terrible, terrible sentence.

But I can’t. It is long gone from my hands, pencils long since dulled from writing it. New computers have been bought in the interim. Dozens of people have given their ok for it. So maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there is nothing really wrong with it.

I have to let it go. Take a deep breath and let it all out. Don’t dwell and don’t think upon it again.

Now it becomes my own personal What If Game for the night.

Wish me luck in going to sleep.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Grab Bag: July Edition

The following will be randomness to the extreme. Much like falling down the internet rabbit hole, this is my brain this day and some of the days before that and on some of the days before even that. You may exit the blog post feeling confused and possibly have a hint of madness now occupying part of your brain. I apologize in advance.

***

No448-My-Montage-of-Heck-minimal-movie-poster-720px

I got a chance to watch the Kurt Cobain Montage of Heck documentary. My quick review would be to watch until about the point Courtney Love shows up and then turn it off. And that is not because I dislike Courtney Love, but mostly because of the way the documentary is set up. The first half has tons of stuff about Kurt’s early life, tape recordings that they animate, shots of his journals, etc. But once Courtney shows up things get weird. The animated stuff stops being informative, and I think we lose track of who he is (and who he is trying to be).

Maybe the director is making the movie weird because that’s how Kurt’s life suddenly became? It just didn’t work all that well for me.

But my favorite little moment from the film was a shot of his journal which read as follows:

Don’t read my diary when I’m gone

When you wake up, please read my diary

Look through my things

And figure me out.

 

I love this idea that sharing the thoughts you would save for your diary… instead you want people to really know you by reading those strange and maddening and difficult and every other kind of thoughts. We all struggle to be understood by those we love, and sometimes it only takes telling them what our fears and wishes are.

Sometimes.

***

deaths-head-487276_1280

I’m obsessed with Pirates right now. I don’t know how it happened or why exactly (well, part of it is Edge of the World that I’m desperately trying to finish up). I’m scouring the web for good pirate movies to watch or rewatch (last week I worked my way through the first 3 Pirates of the Caribbean movies (shut up, I like them) and bought the 4th one, because why not (and Amazon put it on sale for cheap). I need to rewatch Master and Commander, but then I don’t really know if we’ve had any good ones for decades. I also need to watch Black Sail (sadly I don’t have Starz).

Anyone know any other good Pirate related movies or tv shows? Gotta ride this wave for as long as my obsession lasts.

***

Edge of the World continues to be this monster of a novel that has forced me to examine how I do things and come up with better options. And while I’ve been doing an editing pass over the first 2/3 of the book – I haven’t done my full 1st pass edit on it. That’s when I basically do a search and destroy for various words that can be removed or replaced. Crutches that I might have when I write. That sort of thing. I have a Word document with my list compiled from the 10% Solution and random other sources.

Then I stumbled onto this and saw many of the words and phrases I try to locate, so hopefully I’ve been on the right track!

writing-editing

Never hurts to have a second opinion.

***

Lastly a link for you to also send you down the Rabbit Hole of the Internet:

What If?

Basically if there is some random question you had about the universe or people or habits or whatever… chances are you aren’t the only one who’s thought of the question and these nice people have decided to do their best in order to answer it.

At the very least it will give all of us more useless knowledge to bust out at parties or at work or when you want to torture someone.

***

That’s all I have for now. Go read. Go write. Go explore.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Movies I Should Have Seen By This Point

This post was spurred on by a moment with my wife a few weeks ago where she mentioned she’d never seen any of the Alien movies. I had two responses:

“You haven’t seen them? What are you doing with your life!?!”

And…

“Don’t let Amanda Makepeace know, she may stop being your friend.”

We’ve all had that conversation – “You haven’t seen XYZ thing? How is that possible?”

Sometimes it is a classic and sometimes it just is one of those movies you assume that everyone has seen (unless you are talking with Chad Shonk, in which case he HAS already seen it and he’s probably shaking his head at your ignorance – and by “your” I mean “my”). In fact, once he gets done reading this post he may go Clockwork Orange on me.

Clockwork'71

This is what I’m worried about.

Listen, I’m not being too cool for school here. I’m not pulling some weird power play and not watching them for some kind of agenda (like I’ve heard people say about the Star Wars movies “I haven’t watched them yet, so why should I bother?”). This is more to do with us all leading busy lives… and me needing to watch Office Space for the 97th time instead.

Clear?

Big Lebowski – So I’m not familiar with The Dude. What little I do know about the movie… well, now that I think about it – I don’t know ANYTHING about the movie. I know that Jeff Bridges is in it. And I know…

Uhm…

Well…

Lots of people seem to quote it a fair amount.

Sadly, I own the movie after seeing it in a $5 bin at Wal-Mart and still haven’t opened it up yet and watched it. Which is kinda strange since it is Veronica Mars’s favorite movie in the show and my wife hasn’t sat us down to watch yet.

Scarface – Al Pacino as a mobster/gangster in Miami. That could be enough.

It is my brother-in-law’s favorite movie.

I have seen the “say hello to my little friend” moment. But then again, that moment is apparently so iconic that you could be deaf and blind and still would know every beat, ever bullet which Pacino empties into his enemies.

life of brian

Monty Python’s The Life of Brian – I have seen The Holy Grail. And I like it. I figured that would be enough. But over the years I’ve heard others talk about this movie. How it is funnier than Grail (impossible). And then more and more people mention it. Very much a “yes, Grail is excellent, but what do you think about Life of Bryan?” And I have to shake my head and suffer under their disappointing stares.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High – This feels like one of those movies my sister and I should have been watching when we were binge watching the John Hughes films. But at the same time, I was fine not having seen it. But more and more time passes and now other movies and tv shows are referencing moments from it – and again, I feel a little left out of the cultural conversation.

And then I saw the other day it was written by Cameron Crowe. Now I have no excuses left.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show – I just, you know… something about this… I can’t figure out what it is about. Why should I feel like I should have watched it by now? Maybe it is really just a cult film and I’m not going to be one of the cool kids.

And then there is the idea that you need to see it in a group to really enjoy it. I mean, why would that matter?

Yet, I am intrigued. Not yet intrigued enough to have watched it, but enough to put it on this list… so that is something.

monument-valley-618363_1280

So many Westerns – The Magnificent Seven, The Man with no name trilogy (I have seen The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, but not the others), Lonesome Dove, and so on. I love westerns. I actually would like to write a western. I have a bunch in the Netflix queue as “research” (the great equalizer  – “honey, it’s research!”). And I have seen a whole bunch, but the biggest ones have mostly avoided me. But slowly I am working my way through them.

And I have some time before I’m going to write that western.

The Godfather – I think I should keep this one a secret. Men have lost their “guy card” for admitting this much. But I am brave enough to admit it. And to note that I bought this one probably 2 years ago to solve this problem. I mean, it is considered one of the best, if not THE BEST movie of all time by many. And I like movies. And I like mob movies. And this is the big one.

So it too sits on my shelf, collecting dust. This is a movie who wants to be watched.

But I also have a fear… what if I don’t like it? There have been “classics” that I have not been over the moon about. Is it better to have this image in my head of what the Godfather MIGHT be or have the real thing but dislike it?

Just another excuse, really.

 

So there they are, all my movie sins… OK, some of my movie sins on display. I promise, they are on the list to be watched.

Really.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

The Light Bulb

light-bulb

Light Bulb by George Hodan

You ever have that Idea?

You know the one. Beautiful and powerful and takes your mind to places you never thought was possible. Forcing you to think on nothing else.

I’m not talking about those “other” ideas. No, I’m talking about The One. The million dollar, won’t be able to keep a copy on the shelves idea.

You’re so proud of this nugget, of this lightning in a bottle…

And then you say it outloud to a friend, spouse, co-worker, family member, etc. expecting their eyes to light up. Expecting to see the synapses fire in such a way that their head might glow.

But that’s not what happens, is it? There are no rapid questions prompting you to talk further about the Idea. There are no bouncing thoughts off one another. Instead there is that kind smile, the sort you have seen a parent give to a child.

The old “That’s nice” smile. They might as well pat you on the head and say “good boy” for extra measure, because there is no excitement you’re going to extract from them.

And it causes a quandary. Do I accept that perhaps I’m blind to the flaws of the Thing? Is this me being too close to the Thing?

Or are they wrong? Do they just not get it?

The inverse is one of those great feelings. Knowing that X thing is something someone is looking forward to.

psychology-544405_1280

See, there are plenty of “good” ideas. Heck, there are plenty of “bad” ones as well. But thee are only a few “great” ones. Which is not to say that the good ones can’t be honed into greatness, or that the “great” can’t be screwed up. It’s about that raw potential. You want Lebron James or Michael Jordan, not the guy who won’t leave the gym every day. You want the guy that has the natural talent… and then hope not to screw it up.

I almost didn’t write this. Not because it may hurt feelings or whatever. But because they don’t know that this is happening. They can’t see the expression on their faces.

Rounders had it right – “The rule is this: you spot a man’s tell, you don’t say a fucking word.”

This is a secret. How else are you going to get the truth? If they know you are expecting surprise and excitement they might try to feign it. Not something that I want. I don’t want fake joy. I want real love. The kind where you only can see how everything flows perfectly and exactly where all the pieces are going to fall into place.

I want to have a clue about where the story begins and where it ends, but not know all the details at first, confident in the Idea.

It takes trust. Trust to be able to open up about the story and know that it isn’t personal. That it doesn’t have to mean death for the Thing. It just means that maybe you are only working with a good One and not a great One.

Trust to be able to take that criticism which hides itself from the sunlight most days. Trust to be able to embrace every reaction you get, big and small.

And trust in yourself and your skills to take it from good to great.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Half Way There, Again

It’s the little slap of reality. It’s a progress report. It’s my road map.

It’s an excuse for my cat to block me from writing.

Most of the time I’m writing the blog to share some idea or thought (random many times), a favorite movie or book or whatever. This blog is more for me. A way to mark how I’m doing on my own (at times) uphill struggle to be a writer in the way I want to be. At the beginning of the year I wrote a “to do list” and now it is time to check in.

To-Do-List_604

Prose

The Edge of the World – So close yet so far away. I feel like I’m stuck in the mud on this one. Not because of any story difficulties, but because of the way I wrote the thing. I jumped around a fair bit and now have decided to fill in the gaps that I left myself. So at times I’m half in editing mode and half in writing mode (I know, I’m not supposed to do that). So the word count goes up a little slower than normal because I’m tweaking and trimming and writing and…

It’s going to be done, but it is not yet. Sigh.

The White Effect – Nothing yet. I’ve wanted to finish up The Edge of the World 1st. But my plans have not changed: Revise the current draft with all the Beta Reader notes I have. Identify potential Editors/Agents to Query. Draft query letter. Start that process.

Short Stories – Aha! Finally got some more done. 3 more to be exact. I took much of May and sat down to write some shorts… that need to be able to write the words: The End being the most blissful thing. I have 1 more to write to reach my goal for the year, but I’m extremely happy how this has gone. I have also received my first reject for publishing one of them, so I’m taking that as a sign of progress as well (as in, at least I am trying!).

Other Prose (Novels, novellas) – Aside from adding more notes to Unstuck’s file and Lightning’s file and The Dark That Follows II’s file, nothing concrete has happened.

comics-495258_1280

Comics

Gilded Age – Issue 2’s colors are 1/2 done. Issue 3’s pencils and inks are done (barring a minor tweak). Issue 4 has not been begun. However, I did finish both issue 3 & 4’s scripts, so another success. Fingers crossed these comics get done in the near future.

The Crossing – A tiny bit of movement. Robert and my project needs to have a sitdown just to get the pitch up and running.

Blogging – Still haven’t missed a week (though I must admit that last week I almost forgot… the beach does strange things to the brain!).

concept-345541_1280

Mystery Short Film Project – Finished. Can’t say much more about this one other than it kinda came out of nowhere and I feel really good about the final draft I delivered. And as soon as the client is ready to make it public, I will do a blog on what exactly it is. Just very excited about that opportunity. And it is yet another example of how I don’t always know what the next months are going to bring… what opportunities they will provide.

So that’s it so far, and honestly, aside from Edge of the World not being done, I’m decently happy about my progress so far this year. I definitely don’t have that kick in the gut feeling like I wasted 6 months or anything, which is exceptionally nice.

Now I just need to make sure I don’t waste the next six either.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Comic Challenge, Part 5 (17-20)

For the first 4 in this series, check out: 1 & 2 & & 4.

17. A Comic That Reminds You of Someone

This is one of those things that I don’t really think about all that much. But if I had to choose it wouldn’t be just one comic book, but a comic series.

Legion

Legion of the Superheroes reminds me of my Dad. It was his favorite comic growing up. On more than one trip down to visit my grandparents in south Georgia he would tell me about this group of teenaged heroes from the far future who fought various villains… who were inspired by Superman himself and often hung out with Superboy.

At the time I was just beginning to discover comic books and Marvel was more to my taste, but to hear the various crazy characters and just how he talked about those old stories… well, when DC rebooted them in the early 90s, I jumped on the chance to start reading them, fresh and free from any continuity.

And they were great. Obviously this version was slightly different than the one my Dad read, but it was still the same core of great characters. And it became one of my favorites (right up until they rebooted it again… which we won’t get into).

It’s nice when things come around full circle.

 

18. Favorite B List Character

For years I might have answered this with Hawkeye and prior to the movies you would have scratched your head (or maybe said “The Bow and Arrow guy”). But now that does seem right.

So I go with my back-up character.

Moon_Knight_Vol_3_2

Moon Knight

Here’s the thing, Moon Knight gets a bad wrap for being “the poor man’s Batman” or “Marvel’s Batman”, but that’s not who he is. Where Batman is thought of as having a screw loose…

Moon Knight is legitimately crazy. He’s got a whole mess of personalities living in his head (a play off the phases of the moon). Sometimes the line between an “undercover” identity and a new personality gets blurred for him.

Oh yeah and he talks to an ancient Egyptian god: Khonshu who may or may not talk back to him.

 

19. Favorite Comic Book Cartoon Series

YoungJustice

Young Justice.

Yes, I realize that Batman the Animated Series exists. And I realize that Batman Beyond exists. And I personally loved Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.

But Young Justice just clicked for me in a way that I can’t explain. I’m not sure if it was because I dislike Teen Titans Go so much (sooo much – which is fine, it is not made for me anyway).

Young Justice focused on the “side-kicks” while still having members of the JLA show up. They actually had to train… and we saw it. The various members of the cast had about as equal time as you could get given any ensemble. And they had a multi-season story-line while still being able to tell these amazing small stories.

The show introduced me to the new Aqualad (not sure why the new 52 hasn’t brought him back yet), Miss Martian (who might be my favorite character from the show), Tim Drake Robin… Dick Grayson Robin… Conner Superboy…

I loved everything about this show.

 

20. A Comic With Witty Dialogue

 

arms2Archer and Armstrong

I have to admit, I came to the 90s version of Valiant a little late. By the time I hopped onboard they were nearing their height, print runs were getting out of control and those low print runs of the earliest issues made it impossible for me to go back and grab the issues I was missing. So I started with X-O Manowar and Turok, Dinosaur Hunter, but I think I really liked the idea behind a 3rd Superhero Universe more than trying to get into a 3rd universe.

Flash forward to a couple of years ago and Valiant relaunches. So I grab all the launch titles. One of which is this odd story of a sheltered kid who has some kind of special abilities (Archer) and the man he’s supposed to kill (Armstrong). They fight, they argue, they really are the comic version of the Odd Couple. And it is goofy and odd and funny…

And it works.

I assumed that this comic would be the one that I’d drop first, having no connection with the characters from back in the day… and yet, somehow, someway, it became my favorite of the new Valiant books.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Losing Power

Sometimes in the day to day portions of our lives we become too much of a slave to the things that need to be done. Job, family, friends, hobbies… the time can slip through without much notice. Praying for the weekend each and every week only to have that limited time seemingly gone before you can even really enjoy it.

Burning that candle at both ends and then wonder why we are exhausted. Why are we so frazzled by the world we have created for ourselves.

Beach at twilight

If we’re not careful months and years will pass by in those moments between the real moments we want to have. Those moments that we should be having.

Those words will no longer flow from our fingertips. Stale combinations of letters will introduce themselves into our manuscripts. What is normally a joy, a great distraction from the real, becomes this quagmire that sucks us under.

And while it can’t be play time always, those days long since passed us by as adulthood somehow took hold… it also means that we should take the time for our friends when they do something special. And if you have family, to really be in that moment and enjoy that time as well.

Because this is the time when the lasting memories are made, not just the fleeting images of Monday disappearing into Friday. Those days when if we are not careful the job becomes all consuming. When it threatens to dominate our very soul… you have to get away and recharge whatever batteries you may still have left. Sleep in, stay up late, watch terrible movies, discover the early morning hours with friends as your conversations range from and to anything, call a friend you haven’t heard from in a while

We don’t have to be this thing that we are. We can be so much more than that. We can still have time to pursue whatever that dream is. That deep secret we keep locked up inside… it doesn’t have to remain that way..

I find myself at the beach trying to do just that.

Recharge.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

A Few of the Million Things I Should Have Written

We all those moments where we see something or read something or hear something and the only response is to slap our foreheads and exclaim “How obvious! Why didn’t I think of that?”

I mean it could be as simple as the Pet Rock or the windshield wiper on the back of your car, but for me it tends to take form in the movies and TV I watch or the books and comics I read. So here are a few of the culprits that have me shaking my head at myself.

Ready Player One

Ready_Player_One_cover

A newcomer to this list, the book is the crazy quest set in a future where everyone effectively has checked out of the real world and lives the majority of their lives online. That’s what the book probably says on the back cover (I’m too lazy to double-check, but take my word for it).

That’s not what the book is about. It is about being a love letter to everything good and holy from the 1980s. Hey, did you like War Games (the movie with Matthew Broderick)? Random Japanese monster movies? Dungeons and Dragons? Joust!?!

Then this is the book for you.

And guess what… I loved all those things. Constantly as I read there would be some reference to something I not only recognized, but flat-out LOVED. In many ways it was like my subconcious wrote the book and then gave it to this guy so he could slap his name on the thing.

Damn my subconcious!

The Walking Dead

Walking-Dead-AMC

Hey, I liked zombies before they were cool. In that between time where they had become a joke. Long after Romero had become a name only a few people might have known. I was watching those terrible movies and the good ones and everything else inbetween.

But The Walking Dead… that could have been me. And it isn’t just the idea of printing money with the release of the tv show or the comics or the spinoff or whatever may be next. No, the problem is that now, no matter what you do in “zombie” comic fiction, you can’t be better that The Walking Dead.

The frustrating part is that it took one guy to realize we all liked the story of survivors. We like the idea of a world trying to destroy us. And we love a story that isn’t going to end anytime soon.

The zombie movie that continues after the credits begin to roll.

So obvious!

A Game of Thrones

A-Game-Of-Thrones-in-PDF-EPUB

Again, not because of the TV show, but because this is a book (series) which has finally managed to bring Fantasy back to the forefront. Sure the Lord of the Rings films helped put the spotlight on the genre, but it wasn’t until the better part of a decade later that the world stood up and noticed.

I mean, fantasy novels are mostly what I read in middle school and high school. But the main problem with much of those pulp/D&D novels were that they derived from the same original source… Tolkien. Everything was really just a riff on those core ideas. Elves are mysterious. Dwarves are grumpy. Hobbits are called Halflings because we don’t want to be sued. Goblins and Orcs and Dragons and…

You get the point.

Game said that you could choose a different path. Something more realistic, less magic based and still be lauded for it.

Sadly, it may have done its job too well. It might be the new standard, and a new stand-in for Tolkien… instead of breaking the old rules it merely created a whole new set of them.

Cabin in the Woods

CABINs-poster-indicates-its-complex-puzzle

The movie I certainly could have written. Especially in light of Scream being one of my all-time favorite movies (not just horror movies, but overall). The deconstruction of the genre by that movie is really taken to the next possible level here. In Scream you ask What are the Rules?

In Cabin you ask Why are their Rules?

It is an important difference, but one that I think I’ve been trying to find for a while. Something that might look at the horror movies of the 70s through today and anticipate what the next trend might be.

Cabin asks the questions better than I could have thought.

Damn it!

Let the Right One In

let the right one in

At a time when Vampires were not really the creatures of the night of our youths. Heck, they weren’t even the mysterious creatures from Anne Rice (they must have a decent publist). Let the Right One In gets back to both the idea of the unknown… this otherworldly THING who must be feared, and combines that with the idea that lonelyness is not just a human trait. That our need for connection with someone, with something will always triumph over everything else.

And that true friendship is one of the most important concepts in the world. So why not be friends with a vampire!

It’s like, how do you write a Monster horror novel with heart? Well, this is the way.

 

Well, that’s just a taste, but really, I need to go and try to write something so that my brain doesn’t forget to write the next one of these “obvious” ideas.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Further Tales From the Cubicle

The legend of Floody or how to have a stupid character in the Star Wars Online Game

When Star Wars got into the online gaming experience, many of my friends (me included) rushed out and bought a copy of the game. We loaded it up and tried to coordinate as best we could so that we might adventure together. And it was fun, for a while.

Eventually the fact that you couldn’t just be a Jedi drove many people away. And I slowed playing because when you can only play a couple of hours here or there while everyone else is spending hours upon hours on the game… well, you get left behind in a hurry.

That being said, two of my co-workers also played the game leading to many lunches where we would discuss (or they would discuss and I’d listen) how to do certain things, whether there was a mysterious “quest” you could go on and become a Jedi if only you found certain clues (as far as I know, you could not do this), and just how to make the most abusive characters in general.

One of those friends was able to make creatures for himself and others in the game. Basically allowing you to have a “buddy” with you at all times. Through gene-splicing and bio-something or other, you could make all sorts of super strong critters. One of which was a dinosaur looking guy who he named Floody.

Futurama - floody

To understand the meaning behind that name, you’d have to go and look at another of our co-workers. For some reason, which we could never comprehend, his pants were never quite long enough… and if 3 guys are noticing something like that, there probably was a problem. They were high enough that you might think he was expecting a flood (hence the name). So in casual conversation we started referring to him as Floody.

Now Floody was a strange bird. Peculiar. Nothing necessarily wrong with him, but he’d do things that’d make you scratch your head – ask questions about a project and then, after you answered him, go and find someone else “in the know” to answer the same question. He’d wander around the office looking for someone in power to talk to, not listening to your knowledge of the answer.

Kinda frustrating to say the least.

So when this dinosaur got the name Floody, we thought it funny. Then we realized that the dinosaur wouldn’t follow orders from a character. He’d wander around aimlessly, running into fences and getting stuck. In short, this was not one of the better creations to go adventuring with. But it was so damn funny to see that of all the creatures this guy created it was only Floody who he seemed to have any problems with.

Coincidence?

Probably.

Tripping Incident

At that same company a new sheriff eventually came to town and our corporate overlords decreed that we must have Safety Meetings to ensure that there were no accidents out in the field. And whether you were a field employee or stayed behind a desk most of the time… you needed to attend.

slip-up-709045_1280

And hey, it makes sense. We’re out there alongside traffic (high-speed traffic in many cases). We’re climbing down embankments to check out pipes. Places where snakes and spiders and all sorts of other animals might be living/hiding. So being told to wear your hard-hat and vest was a good thing. Being told to pay attention to your surroundings was a good thing.

I say all of this to now say – they went WAAAAAYYY overboard with all of this. We had to have monthly meetings (maybe they were bi-monthly, but they felt monthly) where we’d discuss office style accidents that could happen. And again I understood (though was annoyed), as there was a small possibility of maybe hurting yourself lifting an item that was too heavy.

But the final straw, the one that made me realize they’d lost their mind and traveled directly from a Dilbert dimension, was when we had an emergency Safety Meeting because one employee had tripped…

In her own office.

We had a meeting about that. I’m not kidding.

We had a meeting to try and address why it happened (she effectively tripped over her own feet – something I have done a hundred times if I’ve done it once). Something we’ve all done from time to time. It is called an accident for a reason!

But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was listening as they tried to figure out ways that this could have been avoided.

Ugh!

(Not move once you are at work was the only sure-fire way I could see it working.)

So much time wasted.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

And Here I Thought Dilbert Wasn’t True

I design roads during the day. Unlike Bruce Wayne or Peter Parker (who can run a multi-national company or take pictures for a newspaper), my day job is to sit in an office and (according to my wife) point, click, and write down numbers. That’s not entirely true, but probably truer than I’d like to admit.

Which means that, as much as my hermit self would rather avoid it, I have to interact with others. Or more to the point, sometimes people end up interacting with me. And of course, sometimes you have to scratch your head about what happens.

working_my_fingers_to_the_bone

Make a Saving Throw Versus Poison Gas

My first job out of school was with a company whose office space was in downtown Atlanta. We were on the 3rd or 4th floor (I no longer remember). It was a very simple and relatively small office: about 12-15 employees max could be set up in either offices (for the senior staff) or cubicles. For some reason the ceiling didn’t have tiles so you could see the duct-work and the piping for the sprinkler system. Not sure if the money ran out at some point when they were building the place or what. I do know that’s how things stayed from the day I started working there until we moved offices a couple of years later (to a place which actually had a ceiling!).

In the middle of the office was the printer and an old-school blue-line copying machine.

For those not in the “know”, the blue-line machine allowed us to make copies of our plans for submitting. For some reason in the early part of this century, something being “only” on White paper didn’t make it official enough for some jobs. Not a big deal though.

However, to make the copies the machine used Ammonia, yes that smell you might associate with cat pee. So when someone got the machine pumping and going good the smell would start to penetrate through the office. Luckily someone was forward thinking and put a vent directly above the exhaust of the machine to take most of the bad smell away.

And that should have been that. One day I was in the middle of a large job copying plans for the better part of an hour or two. I flipped on the vent immediately, but as the minutes ticked past the smell was beginning to get too great for me, and I had to take a break. My buddy came over to complain about the smell at one point, but I pointed to the vent above us.

Remember how I said we could see up into the ceiling? Turns out no one had really taken a long look at where the vent was actually… venting.

No where. It was collecting the ammonia smell and then effectively exhausting it right back into the ceiling where it would then seep right back down into the office.

Sigh.

If I end up with some ammonia-based problems later in life I know exactly what caused it.

flyleaf-imsosick

You Don’t Have to Tell Them What You Are Sick Of

Two of my co-workers got the short end of the stick when our Transportation Head moved on to a different company leaving the Office Head as the defacto leader of the group. And at some point there was a presentation needed to be done down at the Department of Transportation (DOT) about a project that our company had done in the past, but no one currently employed had worked on. That didn’t dissuade Office Head and he recruited my co-worker Nick to help with the presentation.

Nick realized immediately this was going to be a problem. Not only did Office Head not understand anything about the project, Nick knew that he’d just deflect all the questions onto Nick… making him look bad in front of DOT. So Nick hatched a scheme. He’d bail on the meeting in question by calling in sick… but not for him, for one of his daughters. And given that his “wife was out of town” he wouldn’t be able to come in, avoid the career crippling meeting, and not give it anymore thought.

James saw the flaw in this plan. Without Nick there (Beth Ann was out of the office that day for client work and I was doing Site work at the time), James would be the go-to guy to accompany Office Head to the meeting. And probably take all the blame.

“Hey, you can’t call in sick because he’ll make me go!”

“You could call in sick.”

“Hey! I could.”

I heard that the meeting went really well… if you wanted to laugh at how much someone didn’t know about a project. I’m just glad I wasn’t there.

problem-98377_1280

A Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

For some reason the power blipped from time to time in the early 2000s. Looking back I’d like to blame it on the Ghosts in the Machines left over from the Y2K mess, but I’m sure it was just “one of those things”. The thing is with blackouts in the modern age… well, I can’t do my cad work if I have no power. And no, we didn’t have work-station battery back-ups… we didn’t have ceiling tiles!

So when the power went out it was complete downtime for the office. Yeah, maybe you had some paperwork you could do, forms to fill out, notes to take, but when the outage lasted for longer than 15 minutes you sat around and talked to your co-workers. Most importantly though, you are not really billable when you aren’t working, but still at work… and that did not sit well with our Office Head Pooba. No, this was a chance to do some Spring Cleaning. Maybe organize some old plan sets, maybe throw out some things we no longer needed.

Me and my buddy James did a little of this, but it was difficult to see so both of us gave up after a few minutes. I believe our exact words were:

“I can’t see shit.”

“Screw this, I’m going back to my desk.”

Beth Ann didn’t give up so easily, but in dealing with old projects the last thing you wanted to do was throw out something that was still needed. So she approached the Office Head about just that.

“Beth Ann, you need to be apart of the solution and not the problem.” He spoke the words to her and then went back to his office.

The next thing I hear is the sound of many plan sets going into the recycle bins. Loudly. And then more and then more, until both James and I emerged from our cocoons to see what the ruckus was about. What we saw was a full bin and more plans being dropped into it by Beth Ann.

“What are you doing?”

“Don’t you know? I’m being a part of the solution.” As another set was thrown down.

From that day forth we used that line as much as possible.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Comic Challenge, Part 4 (13-16)

For the first 3 in this series, check out: 1 & 2 & 3.

13. A Comic From A Favorite Creator

Impulse

Impulse Cover

I know, it’s another speedster. But hear me out. Mark Waid was at his (or about to be at) his creative peak while writing the Flash when this guy showed up from the future.

You see, one of the things DC comics have always loved is the sidekick. That teenaged (or sometimes even younger) superhero who has the same or very similar powers to the original. Lots of times they get names signifying as much: Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, or Aqua-Lad (you get the point).

And that’s what Impulse was… the new Kid Flash. Except, he was something more than just a sidekick. And when he proved popular enough to earn his own book, we got to see exactly how someone who never really thinks, but just acts, can handle living in the shadow of not only Wally West (the Flash at the time) but also his grandfather: Barry Allen.

It was a fun book that tried not to take itself too seriously. And well worth the read.

 

14. Comic You’ve Read the Most Times

I want to say something heady like The Watchmen or Kingdom Come or Maus even, but I’m not that classy.

Twisted Toyfare Theater

twister toyfare

Think Robot Chicken in more of a comic format. Got that image in your head – full stop – that’s exactly what those comics are. There is no redeming value to having read them multiple times (save for the belly laughs). Whether it is an old Mego-Spider-Man acting like a complete jerk or Iron Man always being drunk… there is something for everyone in there.

Well, maybe not, but I think it is hilarious.

15. Your Comfort Comic

This is probably Knight of the Dinner Table, but since I already used that as an answer to a different question, I’m going to give it to something else…

The Walking Dead

WalkingDead1

Not because zombies fill me with warm cuddlies (I’ll leave that to Mr. Neill), or because I keep copies by the bed-stand. No, it is because, month in and month out, this comic continues to astound me. In the direction it may be headed, in the places it has already been, and in everything else Kirkman manages to do to show the sheer number of stories you can tell in a post-apocalyptic setting. I’ve been reading since almost the beginning (and have read them all), and it still manages to surprise me from time to time.

The Quality, which has translated over to the TV show, is almost unparalleled in the comic industry.

16. Great Holiday Comic

Batman – The Long Halloween

Batman_thelonghalloween

A little bit of a cheat as each issue of this series takes place on a different holiday, as Batman tries to track down the Holiday Killer. Still this comes from a time when Batman is still learning to be THE BATMAN. He’s not to where you and I would most commonly think of him being (a force of nature).

The series weaves its way through many of the Batman rogues gallery, with some offering more help than others. Jeff Loeb and Tim Sale create a story that completely engrosses and challenges the reader to try and figure out who it is behind all the killings. Figure out which villains may be telling the truth and who may only be hoping for Batman to continue to spin his wheels.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Gotta Get Back In Time…

The season finale to The Flash was last night. While I’m going to try and avoid the BIG spoilers, there are some things that peeked my inner time-travel/butterfly effect interest.

3167440-the-flash-logo

The basic dilemma in the show was this:

Barry Allen (that’s the Flash to me and you) has the opportunity to travel back in time and save his mother’s life (she was murdered by his arch-nemesis when he was a child – hey, superheroing is complicated business!). Throughout the episode much of the thought process is on whether or not he should even try. Whether he should literally rewrite history. And he struggles with this, to undo one great act of evil will could then unravel time so that any good things which happened afterwards might never happen.

And here’s the thing, Barry is a hero. He’s spent the last year since becoming the Flash saving people.

What happens to those people? Will that one guy get pancaked by the truck… heck, will he even be in the same place at the same time as the truck?

Different doesn’t necessarily equate to better. There are going to be paths taken and not taken such that the world he comes back to may not exist in any form he recognizes.

What if he comes back without any powers? What if he comes back and his father is now the one who died rather than his mother? What if his life has gone completely to hell? The death of his mother shaped his life in a way that he can’t begin to comprehend.

And all of that is just a taste of what could happen if time is malleable in any way. What if that isn’t the case? Maybe time a stream that can’t really be altered? If you throw a rock into a stream, sure you’re going to get ripples, but the stream will continue on unabated. Meaning he could save his mother only to have her killed by some other random incident.

Is that what we’re dealing with?

And what if you back a dump truck of rocks to block the stream?

In fact, the last time he managed to change much of anything time didn’t seem to like it very much and made his “updated” life twist and turn such that it would have been better never to have changed anything.

time_travel

Throughout media whenever we are given these glimpses of the way things could be (or the way the characters contend they SHOULD be) it isn’t always the way we really wanted. Much like the wish from the Genie of the Lamp or the Deal with the Devil there is just too many variables and not enough constants to ensure that you are going to get exactly what you want.

The movie version of HG Wells’ The Time Machine (the one with Guy Pearce) had time such that the past could not be changed. It would self-correct almost immediately. And no matter how many times he went back to save his true love, TIME ensured that he could not.

Then again, perhaps Barry gets to have the Marty McFly treatment. His life was certainly changed for the better (at least after the original Back to the Future). His brother and sister are both employed (no longer layabouts), his parents are more in love than he could have hoped for, and Biff is relegated to a car washer.

Heck he even gets a brand new truck out of the deal!

However, Marty didn’t have a choice. In fact, he was simply trying to return things back to normal so that he wouldn’t cease to exist completely. The good stuff was a happy accident you might say.

Will Barry be that lucky? Could he be that lucky to get the perfect life? And even if he does, is it worth everything he knows. Because all those connections with his surrogate father, and his crush Iris, and his new-found friends and… and… and…

So many unknowns.

So many strings that could unravel.

Is it worth it? Is it worth it to play the ultimate What If Game?

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Waiting for The Ending

It’s difficult to have content for your blog when you can’t actually talk about things that you are working on. It’s both a good and bad problem to have since one day I will not only be able to talk about them, but I might be able to show them off in their various formats (to say anymore will invite the Men In Black to come to my house and hunt me down… or at least use the “flashy thing” on me).

And the stuff that is already done, well I’ve said a ton about them up to this point. Well except for some comics that are done, but not done.

And other things (novels) are either done and waiting for edits or are close to done, but seem to have been that way for far too long.

So it presents the conundrum.

There is a lot of waiting. A lot of time that has to pass in order for things to have “happened”. In a month I’ll have this thing or that thing completed.

time_travel

It reminds me of when I was younger. So many things are placed in front of you as barriers. And most of them have to do with age. Sometimes it was as simple as a movie or TV show you might have heard about. Sometimes it was extending that glorious bedtime another half an hour so that I could feel like a “big kid”.

Writing feels like that as well. When I get to THE END, that’s the moment that acts as something of a catharsis to me. It cleanses. It makes me realize how much time something has taken, and then makes me appreciate what I have done.

the-end-3

The problem is always the in between times. With no THE END in sight, what am I to do? So in addition to a couple of To Be Named Later things, I’m trying to devote May to short stories. I keep wanting to get a few of them done. Hell, I have a folder on my USB that is dozens of ideas, partially written stories looking for an ending, bits of dialogue, etc.

But it is definitely a different muscle again than the Novel muscle, or the comic script muscle, or the short film script muscle, or… You don’t have forever and a day to try and make your point. You don’t have to take month after month to try and figure out where the story needs to go. No, you can get in there, really figure everything out, and then get the heck out of there. And you get to write THE END at some point.

A small victory, but sometimes enough to help propel you on in the next project (or in a project that you might be a little bogged down in). Something to spark a different part of my brain in order to free up that space for something else. I fully think that by being creative, you end up spurring on even more creative thoughts that many times our day to day lives can seek to grind out of us.

I look at the folder now and it says there are 51 files. That’s 51 potential stories fighting in my brain for a chance to tell their own tales. And for far too long I have left them fallow, only contributing a few lines here and there, a couple of pages, a handful of words… a pittance. I think I owe it to those lost dogs to maybe try and make them into real boys and girls. Unleash them on the world.

And be able to write THE END.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Favorite Comic Strips

When I’m not reading regular funny books, I sometimes like to take a read on the very things that began the format I love so much. And while I’ll always be a fan of the newspapers who give us Garfield and Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes, we’re lucky that the internet has allowed for anyone with an idea and a story to carve out their own little area of the web. And since I’ve been getting a kick out of some of these for years and others for only a couple of weeks, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.

cartoon-268493_1280

Darths and Droids – Imagine that you are going to roleplay in some weird space fantasy adventure where there are glowing swords and a mysterious “Force”. Then imagine that you are the Game Master for such a game and you seem to barely be able to keep your players in line. And you just know that all the time you’ve spent on this really cool campaign is going to be undermined before you can blink twice.

Now imagine that someone, starting with the very first of the Prequels used screen shots from the Star Wars movies to create this little campaign… AND that they are just now beginning the Return of the Jedi (1192 strips later) and you can imagine this act of love and insanity and… well, it hits me just square in the funny bone, nerd bone, and other bones (this got weird…).

Start from the beginning and work your way through it, it is well worth it.

DM of the Rings – Take all that stuff about Darths and Droids and then change it so that it is Lord of the Rings based adventures rather than Star Wars based adventures. And instead of a Game Master who can’t always control his table, this one runs ramshot over his players many of the times.

Sadly, this one is finished, so no new episodes, but on the other hand you are sure to get a complete story out of it.

Real Life Comics – I wish I remembered what rabbit hole I fell down in order to find this one so many years ago. It started as a look into the life of one Greg Dean and his weird/crazy friends. Commenting on the strangeness of the day or whatever, it has also had such classics as having dopplegangers, evil “friends” bent on world domination, time travel, and others that I’m sure I’m forgetting.

Oh and he talks to the creator from time to time… which is effectively a conversation with himself.

This is another with a rather large archive, but again well worth the various trips down memory lane.

Max Overreacts – I’ve come upon this one very recently, but I offer it the highest praise I can for a comic strip – at its best I am reminded of Calvin and Hobbes.

The basic setup is a young boy who clearly has an ability to be overly dramatic in his dealings with his family, friends from school, teachers, and even a potential little girl friend/enemy/crush. Whether Max is trying to figure out the answers to his homework via the use of his puppets or he’s organizing some weird Murder Mystery Dinner… it is all goodness.

I’m still working my way through all of the archives, sad to know that I will eventually catch up, but happy to know that I have some time before that happens.

Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic – Don’t let the name fool you. Yes, it is about fantasy creatures, and yes there are many of those out there, but something about the art, the little stories, the fact that we start off with our two main characters being a goblin girl and a Beholder Boy… who fall in love.

It’s sweet and funny and manages to tell a really cool adventure story (stories) in the meantime. And this is another one that has been going on for a long, long time.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Comic Challenge, Part 3 (9-12)

For the first 2 in this series, check out: 1 & 2.

9. First Comic Series You Seriously Pursued

avengers-movie-poster-1

Avengers

I was reading it before the rest of you even knew who Iron Man and Black Widow and Hawkeye were!

I mean, two of the first 4 comics I ever bought were Avengers related. I’m not sure why I gravitated to them more than the X-Men (who I liked, but never really loved). I think I dug the idea that the roster could change. That you’d have a couple of the Big Guns (Iron Man, Thor, and Cap), but you also got the other guys (and gals): Hawkeye, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, etc.

They had some of the best villains because they didn’t have to stick to “only mutants” or “only Doctor Doom” or whatever. Loki, Kang, Masters of Evil, Grim Reaper, ULTRON…

It’s really one of 3 comic series that I’m hoping to have a full run of one day. The other two I’m effectively done with (The Flash (Wally West) and Firestorm). With The Avengers the biggest gap now begins with issue 1-120 (pretty much the 60s). Mostly because those are the pricier ones. Slowly but surely I’ll get them.

 

10. Comic That You Love That You’ll Never Read Again

This makes me sad to even think that might be the case. I’m always hoping for a little extra time to maybe take another read through my comics. It would be a true walk through my own timeline in a lot of ways.

So the answer could possibly be all of them (or any of them). 30+ long boxes would take a fair amount of reading to catch up on (and I’m a fast reader).

I think I have to cop out on this one. It’s just too painful a thought that those old stories will never pass by these eyes again.

 

11. Comic That Makes You Wanna Have Sloppy Make-outs With Someone

fraction annual

Sensational Spider-Man Annual #1

I’ve mentioned this comic before in my Spider-Man post, but I think that anyone who can invoke these feelings of love between two fictional characters has done their job. And it’s no small feat to do it with a character that others can’t figure out. They didn’t know what to do with this marriage, this relationship, and so they retconned it out of existence. Luckily I still have this issue… they can’t take that from me!

 

12. Great Plot Twist

A little background as this one is very comic nerdy.

Back in the late 90s Marvel licensed out some of their comic that weren’t doing so well to some of the Image guys. These were Avengers related titles (and Fantastic Four) (which is strange to say nowadays, but back then X-Men ruled the Marvel roost and Cap and Iron Man were just kinda there). Since those comics were going to be in a new continuity, the regular Marvel Universe had a big story line which got rid of them (see Onslaught for more details).

However, just think about it. Pretty much half of your major heroes were gone and the X-Men pretty much keep to themselves. So who’s going to stop Kang or Graviton or whomever is going to try and take over the world?

Enter the Thunderbolts. This new group of heroes who arrived on the scene and saved the day against the Wrecking Crew. They were unknowns, but their leader had taken his name from an old WWII hero – Citizen V. The people of Earth needed someone to believe in. Needed someone to help them sleep peacefully at night.

And then, in the closing moments of that first issue, we get the reveal. The Thunderbolts were not heroes, they were villains. In fact, they were some of the worst – The Masters of Evil.

Thunderbolts-1-1997

My jaw hit the floor upon reading this issue. I knew exactly who they were and could not wait for issue #2 to arrive the next month. And Thunderbolts became one of my favorite comics for a long while.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

I like to swim… into the mosh…

Tonight I’ll be on my way to see Breaking Benjamin in concert for the second time ever… the first being about a decade ago when they randomly opened for Evanescence. In fact, had they not switched the order of who was coming on first (I believe 3 Days Grace was supposed to be the second band of the night, but had to go on first for some reason) I would have never even seen them.

I love concerts. I love going and watching people, and sometimes seeing old friends from concerts long passed. When I was younger I loved jumping in the midst of the craziness and feel the beat rip through us.

With this impending concert adventure, I’m reminded of a few of my favorite shows:

Korn-Korn

Korn with Helmet and Limp Bizkit – Athens, Georgia 1997

I think I saw Korn 6 times for their first album. I swear every 2 months they came through Atlanta… first playing a small club, then the next larger one, and then the next one, and so on. But this show was a chance to not only see them, but to see Helmet – who were one of my top 10 bands at that time. A band I’d managed to miss previously  because of misplaced tickets.

But the biggest reason I remember this show is for the opening band – Limp Bizkit. I couldn’t tell you much about their show. The songs didn’t wow, but I didn’t dislike them either.

And then they launched into Faith… and we laughed… and then they started screaming the lyrics and we stopped laughing.

After the show, Fred Durst (and probably others) were outside the venue handing out their sampler tapes to anyone who would take them. On my next trip to Richmond we wore that tape out (all 2 songs of it). By the time they put their cd out, we were ready.

The Misfits – Dragon Con, Atlanta, Georgia 2000

This one gets a mention only because it has two events that I’ve never seen before happen during a concert.

For those that don’t know, the Misfits are a punk band from the late 70s-early 80s (originally fronted by Glenn Danzig) which reformed in the late 90s. I’ve liked them since before I knew what punk music really meant (not that I’m 100% on that even today). So getting a chance to randomly see them at Dragon Con of all places was too good to pass up.

My roommate, Scott, accompanied me down to whatever room it was they were playing. And a decent crowd had formed. Now, this type of music is far from Scott’s scene (he likes the Lilith Fair types), but he settled in the back of the room, eager to rest his feet from the full day of walking one does at Dragon Con.

After a few songs, I take a glance back and see my good friend, head thrown back, mouth slightly open… asleep in the chair. While this angry, fast, loud music is pumping through the speakers… there he is sleeping.

Sadly, the other thing I remember about this concert is watching a girl crowd surf for a few minutes and then crash down to the floor more or less on her head. A few seconds later she’s twitching… having a seizure. Luckily most concert goers are good about not trampling someone on the ground and her friends managed to get her out of there.

Pantera – Lakewood Amphitheater, Atlanta, Georgia 1994

We had row 9 or 13 for this show, no lawn tickets for us. And I know what you are thinking – a Pantera show that you have seats for, how on earth would that be any good. And if I hadn’t been there I would have agreed with you. I don’t know why it worked so well. I think Phil (the lead singer) was in a good mood as he talked to the audience after every other song… but not just the BS singer do, I felt like he was eager to share his stories.

And while we couldn’t get into the pit back on the lawn, that might have been for the best. I’ve been in a Slayer pit before and barely survived… I might not have made it out of a Pantera one.

1994-04-03-Fox-Theater-Atlanta-Georgia-USA

Pearl Jam – Fox Theater (2nd Night – The Radio Broadcast), Atlanta, Georgia 1994

Somehow we managed to get tickets to this concert. Impossible to believe nowadays, my friend Lee – who happened to work an intership or something which allowed him to leave school early – contacted me as soon as I got home. Told me that the tickets were on sale, and I needed to get my ass to Turtles to stand in line.

Somehow I made it to the line, and then magically it sold out… two people after me.

To see this show at the Fox, to be one of the lucky ones who got to see it unfold was a thing I’ll never forget. And even though people offered Courtney and I hundreds to buy our tickets – I never regret seeing them. And since the show was broadcast, it was the first concert I got to relive back at home keeping my memories much more vivid and crisp than they might be now.

Sadly, we did not see the entire concert. When Pearl Jam finished their last song, the house lights went up and slowly we all started to file out of the building. Courtney and I had ridden with Chad and Lee, so after about 10 minutes of waiting in the car, they finally showed up.

“Wow that last song was great. I can’t believe they played Indifference.”

“Uhm, they didn’t play Indifference.”

“Sure they did. With the house lights on. <sees the look on my face> “Did you leave before they played it?”

Sigh.

1218391997_3db942d251

Lollapalooza – Lakewood Amphitheater, Atlanta, Georgia 1993

I consider this my first concert even if it isn’t. I’d attended a couple of “Oldies” concerts with the parents throughout the years, I’d managed to see Janet Jackson (I think it was the Rhythm Nation Tour), but this was my baptism by fire.

I didn’t know any of the bands. I didn’t even have a ticket prior to maybe 2 days before the event as one of my Kroger workmates had an extra ticket. I didn’t know any of the bands who were playing (I was only beginning to learn exactly what Grunge was). But it was a concert and I actually had the day off, so Rebecca and I climbed into my Sunbird and off we went into Atlanta.

Now in the days before GPS and phones that yell the directions at you, we were forced to use heresay and sonar or something to find these places. Somehow we missed the exit (it actually says Lakewood, so to this day I’m unsure how that happened). We drove for about 30 minutes, and were soon far south of Atlanta. It was at this point we decided we MIGHT have missed the turn, stopped and tried to get some directions, and finally made it to the show for the last 2-3 songs in Pearl Jam’s set. And while I wasn’t destined to really hear them for another couple of months when Chad left his cd at my house… I do wonder what might have happened if we’d got there earlier.

As the day progressed, we hung out on the lawn area, soaking up the sights and sounds of these bands I still didn’t know, but I didn’t care. The sun began to set, and darkness rolled in, and a band named Ministry took the stage.

Within seconds the entire lawn area began a mad scramble to their feet. Bodies pushed against each other. Men and women shoved each other. Still others were hoisted upward. The mosh pit breathed as a creature unlike any I’d ever seen before. And while Rebecca abandoned all “sense’ and dove right in, I took a few steps back trying to figure it out.

My first mosh pit was one I never actually got into… but there would be many, many more.

 

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

All My Futures…

I’ve become obsessed in the last week.

On one of my various adventures down the rabbit hole that is the internet I somehow found myself staring at this page for a collection of short stories from a couple of years ago. No biggie, I end up at various projects from time to time, but this one stuck in my head.

Since then I’ve been reading these shorts during lunch, trying to squeeze in one more where possible before my lunch break ends.

The Machine of Death (a collection of short stories edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki)

machine-of-death-cover

The premise is simple enough. At some point in the not so distant future some scientists managed to stumble upon a machine which will, through a sample of blood, tell a person how they are going to die.

That, in and of itself is interesting enough for me. But then they take it one more level. Let me give an example:

Guy comes in, gets his death slip given to him and it reads: Old Age.

Great, what an excellent thing. I know I’m going to live probably another 50-60 years. And then he steps outside and gets run over by a car driven by a senior citizen.

Old Age.

Yes, it is cutesy, but there is also a lot of room in there to play with. I believe the good ideas are ones that get you thinking regardless of whether they are your ideas or not. They are the ones that you slap your forehead (hopefully, not too hard) and say “Why didn’t I think of that?” or “That is so obvious, why hasn’t anyone ever thought of that before?”

More than all of that, I like the dilemma it provides. If you had knowledge of what caused your death (not the when or the where, just the How) would you want to know?

Think about it for a second… what if you get Car Crash? If you live in any city, anywhere, then you are completely hosed. So you stop driving, you move to the country where the only cars that might come anywhere near you are the mailman and the occasional delivery you have. You live your days like a hermit until, at some point, the prediction still comes true. Because that’s the kicker: you can’t change your fate. Maybe you can delay it, maybe not.

What about the idea that knowing your future will actually cause you to end up on that path? Maybe you get Car Crash, but because of that prediction you embrace your fate. You live as hard as you possibly can until finally you die in a street race (hey, Furious 7 just came out so it’s on my mind). Who’s to say that had you never gotten your reading, maybe it would have gone differently for you?

That’s the things I love though. These simple ideas which cause me to spend hours on the drive to work trying to figure out what I would do. How I might try and game the system. What type of story would I tell in this strange world.

I’m reminded of the old Twilight Zone episode “Nick of Time” where William Shatner and his wife end up with a broken down car in Small Town, USA. They go to the local diner which has this little fortune teller on the table. You feed it a penny, ask it a question, and it gives you a sorta Magic 8-Ball style answer. But the thing is that this couple gets to the point where they are asking it questions about their future at first, and then that becomes almost asking it permission (When can we leave?). They become paralyzed by this little machine.

nick of time

And maybe that’s because knowing what is to come removes much of the mystery from life. Even if it is a good future told to you, it may still be years away. You may just miss the journey if you’re not careful. You could not live your life because you are too busy waiting for something good to happen. We spend our times clocking into our jobs, waking up at the same time every morning, doing the same things day in and day out because of the idea of what the future might bring. Sometimes you just have to make the decision to embrace things as they are and make the change. Don’t wait for the fortune teller, whether it is a Machine of Death or a a strange woman behind a crystal ball.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Spring Cleaning

This is one of those weeks where I’m a bit scattered. I’m trying to get back into the proper groove with writing after having life stuff (mostly good, if a pain in the ass) interfere. We’ve gotten new floors put in the house which required us to effectively move all our belongings into the garage or various closets and bathrooms while the work was done.

Now we do Spring cleaning twice a year (yes, I understand that would make it Fall cleaning), so I cannot help but be amazed at how much stuff we gather up to ourselves during those 6 or so months. So much clutter, so much things that never filled their proper place or filled their need.

free-moving-boxes

And I’m the pack rat, so it is against my nature to throw things out. Even when I know that some item no longer really has any real need in the house anymore. Many times those are some of the hardest ones to get rid of… I mean, who knows when that box of computer cords from the late 90s is going to come and save the day.

So these are a few of the things that I tend to keep no matter what when we go through this process. And here’s the thing, I know, in my brain what I should do, but the heart becomes a different matter.

Old VCR Tapes

S-VHS-cassette-tape

I know what you are saying, but we actually have a VCR. That works. That I haven’t watched in the better part of a year (at least). So why do I keep those old movies?

The only thing I can think of is that since I paid money for them, if I were to simply throw them out, it would be like I’d burned that money (I need to understand sunk costs I believe). In fact, the only way that I can really see myself doing such a thing is if I had those movies in a DVD or Digital format. Then, maybe I could get rid of the remaining ones (save for Star Wars – I gotta keep some kind of evidence that Han shot first!).

Old Books that I’ve long since read

I’m actually not horrible about this one in that I have traded in a fair share of books to the used book store nearby. But there is still 2+ bookshelves in use with various unread or partially read (or in this case, completely read).

The lie here that I tell myself is that I’m going to reread these books. With all the free time that I seem to have, and all the new books taking up more physical space in my house or on my Kindle… well, I should no better.

Mementos

Meaning, various mementos to events in the past that really may or may not actually have some kind of emotional connection with. Sometimes these are gifts or they could be a college yearbook in which I don’t appear… so why not get rid of it?

And the answer is that I don’t know. I just don’t have a logical mind when it comes to such things. So by having an annual that will never really be looked at again (as opposed to High School yearbooks and the messages they seem to contain).

Random notebooks

documents

They are full of paperwork and printed out manuals for D&D. Something that if I really needed it for gaming, I could print out again. Something that has not been looked at in over a decade.

Yet, I moved the folders to a safe place and then when everything was done I put them back in their home on the shelf.

And that’s not all of it… I have old cassettes too that I really don’t need. Yet I cannot throw them out.

Yes, I know that I should seek help.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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