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.

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.


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.


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.


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.



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.




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!


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!?!”


“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.


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.


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…



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.


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.



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 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.


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.



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.



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!).


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 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

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


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.




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


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


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


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


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.



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.


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.


(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.


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.


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


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.


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 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


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


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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



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.


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 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.


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?”



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)


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.


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


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.


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


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.

The LOST Problem

I was having a discussion with someone the other day about LOST and they mentioned being disappointed in the ending. I didn’t take it as anything more than their opinion. They certainly weren’t bashing it (as opposed to what I talk about here).


And then they said something that made me rethink the whole idea of what many people had problems with. He basically said:

“Yeah, it’s like they had a plan to start, but not a plan to finish. They just kept asking questions, and never thought about the answers to those questions.”

And he’s more than likely right. 100%.

Listen, I loved LOST with all its warts, but for all those people who didn’t like the ending because they thought they were just “making it up as they went along”… I hate to break it to you, but…

Most of the time they are all making it up as they go along.

And it made me really think about how things are different between books and TV (or any kind of serialized entertainment). They are always making it up on the fly for the TV shows. Sure, they may have a general idea of what needs to happen between now and say the end of the current season. Heck, they may have an idea on how the series is going to end, but episode 4? Yeah, they are making that stuff up as they go.


The big difference is that when you are writing a book and figure it out as you go along, you have the opportunity to go back and edit the early stuff so that it makes it look like you had your act together the whole time. Those murder mysteries are various threads pulled together at the end. But when they get to “The Butler Did It”, they can then use the the second draft to seed all those little clues which will make sense on a second viewing.

That when you write “The End” in your book you know it doesn’t mean that, but that it is an opportunity to make sure everything before now “fits”. Because until you write “The End” you really don’t know what your story is about. Oh, you think you know, but the twists and turns haven’t revealed themselves to you. It truly is an iterative process.

But serialized story-telling doesn’t have that option. They hit publish, send it out into your homes, and then have to live with it for better or worse. Literally flying by the seat of their pants. And what is the best way to propel your story forward?

By asking questions. The writer(s) ask questions of their characters, of their settings, of their conflicts… they put obstacles up sometimes without knowing how a character is going to get out. They trust that when all else fails they’ll get it figured out. That crazy thread they are weaving into a story will flow from one plot to the next without anyone tugging too hard (and make the whole thing collapse on itself).

In Breaking Bad, Walter leaves behind a watch in the first episode of the last season (during a flashforward I believe). But at some point they show Walt without the watch… so now they have to figure out the “why“.

The creators of LOST have said as much about writing themselves into corners because they figured they could get themselves out of it.

In writing, there are generally two types of writers: Pantsers and Plotters


Calvin and Hobbes get it. Which makes me wonder if Bill Watterson had this problem.


Pantsers don’t normally know what their characters are going to do. They might have a short bit of knowledge about what the story is about, but beyond that they trust in the process to help them build and build and build until their tale is told.

Plotters like to have things completely outlined. They want to know what the beats of the story are going to be from chapter 1 all the way until the end.

And most people fall somewhere in the middle. I’ve done it both ways. The Dark That Follows was almost completely pantsed. During Hollow Empire, J Edward Neill and I had a kick-off meeting where we talked about where we wanted the story to go, a little about what the beats would be for each chapter, but the actual details for every little thing wasn’t mapped out.

I’m currently working on a new novel: The Edge of the World, and I have a solid outline for the first half, and then a more general outline for the second half. And what I’ve noticed as I go through a second draft are the little points that still need to be added to that first half. Things I learned about the characters as I wrote them. What their strengths, weaknesses, and desires were. Stuff discovered through the process of putting words on the page.

If I had published each chapter on its own, there would be no opportunity to fine tune things. And characters might not resemble themselves at all come the end of the story (for the worse).

So when I watch something like LOST and see them trip up over some plot point it doesn’t make me pull my hair out or completely stop watching, but it might make me wonder just how much they did know to start.

And hope that they can course correct if they need to before it completely jumps the shark.


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.

Comic Challenge, Part 2 (5-8)

I’m taking another stab at a few more of these Comic Book Challenges. You can check out my first batch of 4 here.

5- Comic that made you cry

I contend that this one did not actually make me cry… it was just something in my eyes, I swear.


WE3 is made for sappy people like myself who can’t watch most of the animal related things on the internet lest they cause me to feel like balling (and forget leaving the channel on when the “Arms of an Angel” commercial comes on – I just can’t deal with that one).

But WE3 is about 3 animals, a dog, a rabbit, and a cat who has been outfitted by the government to be able to go into combat zones and take out the enemy with little loss of friendlies. A true modern retelling of The Incredible Journey. It really takes that whole idea of animal testing to the ultimate end game. But these animals only have one goal… to get home. So it becomes an journey of these three critters who didn’t ask to be tested on… to be made into weapons.

Describing it above makes me realize that this is one of those stories that can only really exist in comic books. But Grant Morrison makes it work. And when you get to the ending… well, again, I think there was too much dust in my house on that day.


6 – A Comic that I would hate to leave off any list



Bone carries the distinction of one of the few comic books that I actually got my wife to read that I did not write. Granted it was just one Christmas issue, that they were giving away for free, but she enjoyed it.

I was introduced to Bone by my friend Egg, who lent me the first couple of trades. And then I did not read it again for a decade. Which seems weird to even say. I wanted to read it, but I really just wanted one complete thing to get. And Jeff Smith kept coming out with more and more volumes of the book, and the potential price tag kept creeping up and creeping up, because if I was going to get the trades, then I’d end up getting them all.

And those bad boys were never in the 1/2 off trade bins at any of the cons I was going to.

But I never could pull the trigger… I’m stingy that way. And then word came down… a full Omnibus of everything would be available for $60. Done and done!

So when the omnibus came out I journeyed out to a random comic store and bought it on the spot. You could have killed a large animal (you pick the one, this tome would have brought it down). I brought it home and began reading… and reading… and then I slept before I went back to reading… until, finally I turned the last page.

I don’t know if there is another comic that has as many funny moments, as many goofy situations, while telling one of the most epic fantasy stories you’ll ever read.

I think that is the secret. It sucks you in with the comedy and makes you stay for everything else.

7 – A Comic You Wish They Would Make Into A Movie (TV Show)

A few years ago this would have been The Walking Dead… and it would have been a tv show on HBO.

Many years ago I wouldn’t have believed they were doing an Avengers movie, even though I liked Avengers way before everyone else thought they were cool.

But the problem with comics going to movies is as much about the serialized nature of them as anything else. The current superhero movies (the better ones, at least) try to focus on a particular story from the books… and it works pretty well.

That said, I’d rather see some of the comics turned into tv shows. The Walking Dead has shown us that it is possible to not only follow the comic books, but use the TV version to take things down a different path than we might have expected.

And I know they are going to do a Preacher show, so I don’t want to choose that…


How about Y, The Last Man? Yes, it is post-apocalypse, but isn’t everything these days. Y stands for Yorrick, the last man left alive after a virus wipes out all those souls who had the misfortune of carrying that old Y-chromosone.

The comic is more than that. It is about love, as Yorrick’s goal is to find his girlfriend… somewhere out there in a world where all those people who wished that women ruled the planet… well, they get to see that people are people no matter their gender. There are good ones and there are bad ones.

The comic lasted 60 issues and tells a full complete story. The roadmap is there, they only need to do it.

8. Current or Most-Recent Comic Book Related Wallpaper

Sadly this one is well outdated, and the movie attached to it has some problems, but I love this poster, and had it as my wallpaper on my work computer before the movie came out.


I love the black costume, maybe because when I started reading comics that’s what Spidey was wearing and even though I knew him from the various cartoons in the Red and Blue, the simpleness of the black and white sold me. And to see it in a movie was not something I’d have expected.



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.

Southern Culture on the Skids

Or What it means to me to be from the South (specifically Georgia)

1 – It means being made fun of both far and wide.

How many times does a comedian or a late night talk show or radio DJ or whomever use “The South” as a punchline to some joke? When the stereotype of where you were born is almost never positive… it makes for an interesting experience.

2 – It means making fun of Yankees, no matter if they are from New York or the Midwest or just “north” of wherever we currently are standing.

Because of #1’s abuse, we have to try and poke fun back. It is a moral imperative.

3 – It means that so many times your sports teams end up underachieving. And it doesn’t matter if we are talking about the Braves or the Falcons or the Bulldogs or Yellow Jackets or Hawks or…

Yes, it is depressing to see those other teams win on our fields. Please stop bringing it up.

4 – It also means that no matter how many people show up for any given game (regardless of the sport) someone will make an issue of it by saying that we don’t support our teams.

Hey, stop trying to spend my money for me!

5 – It means that you definitely shouldn’t get into hockey, because they will just take your toys away from you and move them to somewhere in Canada (The North-North).

Atlanta is kinda like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football with this one.

6 – It means that winter is normally only bad for a couple of weeks… even if we do freak out at the first snowflake.


Though I contend that we get ICE more than snow and show me anyone who can really drive on ICE.

7 – Though our Fall weather is the envy of everyone (or it should be) by not only ushering in football season, but just being the nicest days ever (seriously, ever).

Really, the weather is amazing from September to late November.

8 – It means that most of the people you end up meeting seem to be from somewhere else. Which is odd to me that since it stinks to be from the South that so many people would leave their homes and relocate here.

Could it be that it is secretly awesome here after all?

9 – It currently means that we might be the most prepared for the potential Zombie Apocalypse with the Walking Dead being filmed here.

Or at least we know what Atlanta will look like when it happens.

10 – It means that traffic will be awful (in Atlanta), but because people are from various other places originally, they will gripe all the more about it (we know, we know). And it really means scratching your head when New Yorkers tell you that you drive crazy (after you’ve ridden in a NYC taxi cab!).


Seriously, just use your turn signal, and we’d all be so much better off (this is for everyone that loves to cut me off regardless of where you originally come from).

11 – It means that other people question why we don’t take the train more places without realizing that our subway only goes from north to south and east to west and doesn’t always have a stop at the place you actually want to go (Turner Field anyone?).

We just like our cars… a lot.

12 – It means having really good food… that will probably end up killing you (fried chicken, mashed potatoes, country-fried steak, biscuits, sweet tea).



Excuse me while I go have a heart attack from this gravy.

13 – It means that we call it having a Coke no matter what you are actually drinking.

Not soda or pop, you whacky Northerners!

14 – Finally, it means trying to convince your wife, who’s lived here for all but 3 years of her life, that she is actually Southern at this point.

And failing… 🙂


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.

Many lives, Many Worlds, Many Words

I didn’t read much when I was younger.

I recall a time when I was about 10 years old where during a particularly bad rain storm I let our collie, Holly, in the house. Unbeknownst to me, she decided that she was so happy to be inside that she was going to chew on some of the furniture. Me, being oblivious, didn’t notice her efforts (maybe she was giving me a message to thank me?).

My Mom noticed. My step-Father noticed. And I was given the choice:

Grounded for a month. No TV. And I had to do a book report a week during that time.

Or I could take a whipping and it just be over.

I lasted a week before I opted for the whipping. I think a friend’s mom convinced me that while it would hurt, it would be over and then I could do whatever I wanted after that.

I think about that from time to time. Not so much the whipping or the no TV, but the idea of having reading be a punishment. And it would have been at that time. I think I was still a couple of months away from discovering comic books, so the idea that someone might read for pleasure never occurred to me. I completed one of those book reports before I went with option #2.

Call of the Wild

Strange that it took years before I read anything else of Jack London (To Build a Fire – which might be the perfect short story), an author who I would put as one of my top 5 overall.

Years passed and pretty much the only reading I did that wasn’t in comic form was some assignment from school. I’ve mentioned it once before, but it was my friend Lee, in 6th grade, who set me straight about reading. He slid a copy of On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony over to me and urged me to begin reading it.

On a Pale Horse

When I finished with that one he had the next book ready. And then the next… all the way until book #5 (book #3, With A Tangled Skein is the first book I’ve ever reread). I would liken him to a drug dealer, but it was worse than that. At one point during 7th grade I believe I read 4 books in 1 week. Literally every moment of my free time that wasn’t spent shooting baskets was occupied with reading.

During high school it became all about the pulp fiction of the day. The various worlds where Dungeons and Dragons were being played with names like Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, Spelljammer, and a bunch of others that I’m surely forgetting. Every month a new book (or 2 or 5) seemed to come out and if I couldn’t buy them myself I’d borrow them from friends.

The bad thing about assigned reading was always that in learning about the classics… well, sometimes they aren’t all that great. Yes, for every Alas Babylon that you get to read in class there is a (for me at least) Tale of Two Cities.

That book may go down as the only book I never actually finished while in High School. I have no idea how I managed to pass the tests on the novel as I didn’t bother to get the Cliff notes, and there was no Wiki for me to go and peruse at the time.

After high school I decided that all those authors you learn about in school… maybe I should actually check them out. And so came my education with Twain and Poe and London and Kipling. Somehow, just that act of reading on my own made me want to do more, to discover more. And when I had my fill of those classics I turned to more modern readings of Science Fiction – Dune, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Time Enough for Love.

Each one altered my brain a little bit more, showed me a new universe. And even now, with the Kindle and the onslaught of Independent publishing, I find more and more universes to discover. I still hear those older ones still waiting for me to discover them. In the last year I have a book shelf of non-fiction books I want to read. Books about the history of pirates, or Marvel comics…

It seems weird now to think that there ever could have been a time where reading could have been used as a punishment for me. Now the only way that might work is if you told me I couldn’t read anymore.

Now my biggest problem are the books sitting on the dresser waiting for me to give them a read.


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.

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

The Walking Dead returned a couple of weeks ago.

But I’ll get to that in a second. And actually this is not specifically about the Walking Dead, it is just one of the latest “things” to get this treatment. I’m probably going to be all over the place with this post. Apologies in advance.

I want to talk about this thing that we all do. Well, I’m not 100% on that stat, but let’s say a fair number of internet people do and it drives me nuts.

The people who want to say one of the following:

“This show is not as good as it used to be.”

“This show isn’t as good as everyone says it is (effectively saying you are all sheep who are watching it).”

I know it is human nature to compare something to something else. We do it because it helps us identify things. Comparing helps us understand what it is we are watching. We think – this is kinda like X thing, and I really liked X thing, so I’m probably going to like this Y thing.

I do it too. There are certain shows, movies, books, songs, etc. that I am much more likely to enjoy than someone else. Time travel, zombies, anything dealing with alternate worlds, and Groundhog Day style movies/TV shows are all in that wheelhouse for me. If you have some aspect of those things I’m going to probably check you out.


Back in college I didn’t necessarily go to see every movie that came out. I’m not saying this as a statement of pride or anything else. It just was a fact. Even without going every week I saw a good number of movies. But by trying to narrow down a little bit, be a little bit discriminate meant that I missed a lot of bad movies. And I know this to be the case because if you’ve ever been up at 2 in the morning you see plenty of the “Bad” movies on HBO or TBS or TNT or… The flip side of that was, of course, I also missed out on a lot of good movies. That was the trade-off I was willing to make because I KNEW if something was really good a friend would let me know. And if something was only “OK”, well maybe I didn’t need to see that one.


Choosing that path meant that I saw movies that, most of the time, I didn’t have much bad things to say. Oh, maybe I wasn’t floored by the latest Tom Cruise movie, but it wasn’t necessarily a terrible movie by any stretch of the imagination. As time went on, those bad movies got forgotten or just relegated to the status of “Eh, it was ok I guess”.

Not the strongest endorsement, and I’m sure I had friends who thought that there were no movies I hated, but they didn’t realize I’d already done some level of weeding before I ever entered the theater. I mean, unless you are watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, there is little reason to watch a bad movie (note, however, I do not say there are no reasons – get enough people together and the worst movies can be the best experiences).


But what I don’t understand is this need to tear down things that other people like. That other people enjoy. Those people who are just waiting in the weeds… they want to tell you why something sucks or that Season 1 was soooo much better, the first movie was better, book 3 was the best and everything after those things were just absolute garbage.

Note, this isn’t about discussions where something isn’t exactly to another’s tastes. I love to talk about and dissect various movies, books, tv shows, etc. A back and forth about how maybe one thing was a little bit better than something else. A talk in which you are thinking about the things you liked and the things that you didn’t like.

As a writer I love trying to figure why something was done a certain way. As a fan of the form(s) I love to think about what might have worked better from that angle as well. Sometimes those things line up and sometimes they don’t.

I’m not stupid, I know that not everyone likes everything they see.

Why do we need to tear something down? Why do we have to nitpick things?

I notice this more due to the Internet forums. And yes, I understand I should just avoid bothering with them, but I’m clearly a glutton for punishment. And I’m always floored by venom being thrown at certain things because other people like them.

When do you just get to enjoy it?


Everything we consume has some kind of flaw. Nothing is 100% perfect. But why nitpick every last detail?

It seems like the only time this doesn’t apply is with shows that most people come in late on. Something like Breaking Bad. These things are done or almost done and we’ve consumed them in a way that maybe doesn’t allow for complete introspection. To put it another way, when you are binge watching something, you are more worried about getting to the next episode more than wondering why Walter White reacted in the way he did.

By watching a character arc in a matter of hours instead of weeks or years, everything has more weight and less weight at the same time. It means that maybe those tweaks and changes seem a bit more flawed than they need to be… because that true time to watch over the course of years is no longer needed.


Case in point: LOST. I am unapologetic about my love for this show. Is it perfect? No, of course not, but I’m willing to live with a few warts for one of the better shows on the tv screen (at least as far as I’m concerned).


So many of the genre shows sometimes take the brunt of it. I remember that when Lost was heading towards the end of Season 1. Mysteries were being laid out, shit was getting real, and I remember reading a blog where the guy said that he’s not watching Lost because he feels like it is going to do to him what X-Files did to him (not solve the mysteries they laid out). Hey, that’s fine don’t watch, but then when don’t sit there and tell everyone else why they are dumb for watching and enjoying.

Because you know you’ve seen it. That sadistic glee where someone says they aren’t going to bother with something because of some reason. But then spends the next X number of years bashing that TV show because it can’t be any good (if it was, they would like it).

But this is Season 1 we’re talking about and you’ve condemned it, without having watched, because you don’t trust the writers to answer all the questions they are asking (it is an entirely different blog post that would be needed to answer what did or didn’t get answered).

I guess what bothers me is it feels so much like the crap that we are supposed to be over. We’d rather complain about something versus just turning the channel. We sit around and hope to be right about something being bad. What the hell kind of sense does that make? Does the ability to tell someone “I told you so” outweigh everything else in your life? Is that the only bit of joy left to you is to take away someone else’s joy so that they can join you in the pit of despair?


I’m not sure what part of the human condition this belongs to, but it has always bugged me. I don’t understand people who watch a TV show, read a comic series, and to a lesser extent watch movies or read novels who seem to take pleasure when something popular gets taken down a peg.

And don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily a critique of when a show has jumped the shark. We’ve all seen that happen, and many times I realize it and still watch because of the investment in the characters outweighs some of the BS.

I’m talking more about those people who lay in the weeds to tell you “haha! I told you it was terrible and now you have to think it too!”

Maybe this sensitivity comes from being a writer and trying to see where something might have went wrong is a part of the process, but when you are giving feedback you are supposed to give “Constructive Critiques”. The people I’m talking about wouldn’t know how to do much more than “It’s stupid and so are you!”.


Why do we need to hate something? Wouldn’t it just be easier to love something different? Why can’t we change the channel?

Of course the flip-side to all of this is that desperate want for someone to agree with you that something is the BEST THING EVER!


This phenomenon is something I see mentioned in conjunction with the Walking Dead currently. It gets these monster ratings and that only seems to enrage certain people out there. But it isn’t the only thing.


I decided to get into Doctor Who this season. Yes, I realize that there have been 25+ seasons and 11 Doctors, but with a new incarnation I thought this would be the best time to maybe give it a try. So imagine my horror when everyone was talking about ending their own viewing of the show with the demise of Matt Smith’s Doctor. So many people were on Facebook talking about stopping, and I wanted to write each of them to say “Hey, I’m finally ready to fall in love with something you love and… hey where are you going?”

Why does it matter? Why does it matter to me that everyone who was watching (and I assuming loving the show) still continue with the new Doctor? What does it matter to me? And why would I even allow it to possibly affect my own enjoyment of the show?

It doesn’t. And yet, just tonight I read a blog post where the writer just had a passing slam about the new version of the show. Literally 2 sentences in a blog completely unrelated to Doctor Who in any way possible. Talking about how this version is just terrible.

And then it occured to me. That little shot at something that I like, without any explanation, feels like (whether it is or not) a personal shot at me. That by me saying “I like this thing” anytime someone else comes along and says “Well I hate that thing” it must mean that they hate something about me. And I’d rather not be hated, but somehow there is nothing I can do about it.

What is wrong with me? Why should I care?

I wish I knew.



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. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

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.

Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo Recap

This past weekend, among the myriad of stores at the North DeKalb Mall in Decatur, Georgia, I got to hang out, meet people, sell books and comics, hold down the table, carry in pieces of the Tardis, listen to a Radio Drama based on my own comic, and feel really tired when Sunday night finally came.

Atlanta Sci Fi Expo Banner

This was the first (hopefully of many) year for this particular con, so I was unsure what exactly to expect. I’m sure that’s the feeling of everyone who journeys to a new convention/expo. How many people are actually going to show up? What types of things are they going to be into? Does any of that align with what I have to sell at the table?

And so on.

And I have to admit that I’m a pessimist when it comes to such things. I may not share these thoughts with everyone else, but I’m always wondering if something should just be done a different way. That old, what if no one cares we’re there? Should this Expo really be two days? Wouldn’t one be enough? Isn’t there a comic convention in Macon the same weekend? And isn’t that going to impact things?

But I have to admit… I was wrong.

Robert and I holding down the table at Atlanta Expo

Robert and I holding down the Terminus Media table at Atlanta Expo

Well, maybe not about every little thing, but the big stuff. Turns out that FREE to get in means that the $5 or $10 or $20 the con-goers have to spend to enter a con means they suddenly have less money for my books or Terminus’s comics. But with FREE… well, you just can’t beat that. And because we were in a mall there was a steady stream of people coming by the booth. Some because they knew about the Expo, some who encountered the Expo as a happy surprise, and then the other people… the “Normals” who gave us that look that said – “What the Hell is going on here?”

I think we managed to get our comics into the hands of a bunch of people who had never experienced Terminus Media before. And I know that with the quality of the work they will be hungry for more.

And I even sold a few copies of The Dark That Follows and Hollow Empire.

However, the biggest bit of excitement, at least for me, was seeing the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company (ARTC) do a radio presentation of the first issue of my comic The Gilded Age!


They did two showings, and each probably was between 10-15 minutes, but it was definitely a different (very cool) experience. Stranger still that my inner critic began rewriting bits of dialogue I’d written in the first place… suddenly hearing something spoken out loud gives you a whole new appreciation for turns of phrase, clunkiness of comic dialogue writing, etc. It is something I started doing with some of my prose work as a final check. If you are stumbling over the words while reading it aloud, maybe there is a fundamental flaw in the text somewhere.

Not that I was too picky. And that is all on the writer’s end (i.e. “ME”).

When I’m at the tables talking to people about the comic, one of the things I always come back to is that my job as a comic writer is to not screw up the art with my WORDS.  And in a way, that’s the thing I was hoping the whole time I listened. Luckily for me, the ARTC did an amazing job on it! Bringing the characters to life in a way I would have never thought possible. When Elias Gladstone first started speaking, I just started nodding to myself – yep, that’s his voice.

And as a first for them, they had images from the comic projected alongside them as they read through it, so not only could you close your eyes and imagine what was going on, you could sneak a peak at the art from the issue to see how close you were.

In theory (fingers crossed), we have a video of it, so once it is online I will be directing traffic in its direction… if only because it is a fairly unique thing (at least for me).

And again, to those who were able to come out and share in the experience with me, I appreciate it. Thanks again!


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. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

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 Gilded Age as a Radio Drama! This Weekend!

That’s right. On February 21, 2015 at North Dekalb Mall, the site of the Atlanta SF & Fantasy Expo, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company is going to do a dramatic reading of The Gilded Age Issue #1!

Cast your mind back to an age where you gathered around the radio and actors on the other end created worlds and adventures with little more than their voices and special effects in the form of sounds. That’s kinda what this is going to be like, except they are going to have the panels from the comic displayed behind them as they work their way through the story.

I honestly don’t even know what to expect, but I’m really excited to even have the opportunity to have something of mine transformed in such a way.

So if you happen to be in the area and want to experience something different and new, swing by 2050 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, GA 30033 at either 3:00 PM or 7:30 PM.

Or if you want to meet Robert Jeffrey II or me, we’ll be manning the Terminus table for the better part of both days. Come by and chat!

Gilded Age-Atlanta SF Expo

The Darryl Problem

<Potential Walking Dead Spoilers to follow.>

Walking Dead has been back for a couple of weeks now , and I’ve been reminded of a conversation I’ve had about the show… and about the idea that the best thing the show could do is kill Darryl off.

Because he’s too popular.

Because people would lose their minds if you did it.

Because no one would expect it.


And for the most part I don’t believe any of those things are good reasons to kill a character off the show. Though, I’m also not completely on board killing off a character because everyone hates them, but I have seen that.

Let’s put aside that we’re talking about a show that kills in the ratings in a way I (a reader of the comic from issue 7 onward) would have never guessed could have happened. And that some of the decisions they have to decide on are as much about business, and perhaps not rocking the boat with such things.

Here’s the thing about killing characters off in novels, TV shows, movies, etc., once you’ve pulled that trigger you almost never can undo the deed.

Yes I realize in comics that characters come back all the time… that’s actually a different problem.

Dead is dead.

In the Walking Dead comics I believe that Shane is dead by the end of the 1st story-arc, issue 6. That means we really only got about 5 issues out of the whole dynamic of Shane vs. Rick for leadership, and Shane vs. Rick for Lori. Not really all that much time.

You notice that in the TV show Kirkman didn’t repeat that mistake. He milked that story for every bit of juice he could (some might say he stretched it out a little too long). He had a chance to change what he’d done in the first go around for the better.

In comics we see these things all the time where a new writer comes onto a book and in order to “shake things up” they kill a character off so that the rest of the cast can react to whatever happened. And they proceed to write those stories and everything is fine, until the next writer shows up and wants to write a story with the character you’ve already killed. So in order to use him/her again their choices are flashback, dream sequence, doppleganger, or just undoing the death in the first place. They put a couple of pieces of duct tape along the edges, wave their hands over the narrative, and hopefully the reader will be so happy they won’t care about the truck-sized plot holes.

TV is a little bit of a different problem. And this show in particular… as far as I know the only way you get to come back after death is as a zombie… so that fix is out.


Darryl is an interesting case as I think that the original plan wasn’t for him to become the “fan favorite” character. I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers thought he’d be killed off early in season 2. But something happened… people liked him. They saw him as not just a redneck like his brother, but someone who might be able to become a hero… maybe someone we can root for… or maybe he was just the opposite of Shane, someone we saw was headed towards a confrontation with Rick sooner or later.

Whatever it was, the writers used that feedback and by this point in the story he certainly is one of the more important characters on the show.

I feel like when you are enjoying a story, no matter what form it takes, that the characters are there to serve the tale, but the tale is there to serve the characters as well. Many articles and interviews with authors have talked about a magical moment where the character starts dictating what is going to happen to them. That is the moment when those plans of killing off a character sometimes hit the biggest snag. Suddenly they aren’t going to go down willingly, they are going to fight and claw for every moment of their lives.

But in the end, I think that when you make the decision to kill a character, regardless of their popularity, that it isn’t something to do just to get a shock out of the fans. Because the shock will eventually wear off, and suddenly that character you wanted to tell one more story about is no longer around for you to do that much.

That’s a lot of generalities, but let’s assume that you were going to write Darryl’s death… wouldn’t you want his story told? His character arc finished? And would you have him go out in a way that is uninspiring and forgettable (or laughable even?)?

I would offer that he deserves… no, he’s managed to earn a quality death. Probably doing something to save the others in his group at the cost of his own life. You have a situation where you not only need to do right by the fans and what they’ve come to love about the character, but also do right by the character himself.

And it shouldn’t be as a lark.

And it shouldn’t be as a “I’ve run out of ideas” thing.

And it shouldn’t be as a reaction to him being “unkillable” because the fans love him too much.

No, it should happen because that is the next story you want to tell. And the ones after that one no longer need him to be told.


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. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

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.

Once Upon a Time…

I once brought a dagger on a plane.

And this wasn’t pre-9/11, and it wasn’t a domestic flight, no this was an international flight to Atlanta via New York.

And it was just over 1 year (by a handful of days) after the tragedy.

Yes, apparently I am that dumb.

I also believe that memories connected to items and objects are more likely to be stronger than those that we only rely on pure memory for. It isn’t 100% fool-proof, but more than one time I’ve come across something that triggered a memory long since lost.

For our honeymoon, my wife and I did a cruise of the western Mediterranean which included, among Spain, France, and Italy, a little country off the coast of Italy called Malta. And while we were there I saw this dagger.

Malta Dagger

I don’t know exactly why, and honestly, if I had given it more thought I would have talked myself out of buying it in the first place. The logistics of having a weapon on a cruise trip, trying to bring a weapon onto a plane in any capacity much less in the world we were then living in. But my analytic brain was on vacation as well. So I paid for the piece of memory and we went back to our sight-seeing.

It wasn’t until we were getting back on the ship that I thought anything of it.

“Oh, how are we supposed to handle this?”

I spoke to one of the cruise employees who informed me that they would have the Master of Arms for the ship take it and secure it in a vault until we finally left the ship for good.

Again, it should have occurred to me that this might be a problem when we finally got to the Barcelona airport.

But it didn’t, not until we were packing on that final day. I had the blade wrapped up… it wasn’t sharp, but it was still a big knife and I didn’t want it to tear anything else in the suitcase. I think we placed it near the top in case we needed to show it to someone in charge.

So they did the whole thing of the standard questions:

“Has your bags been with you the whole time?”

“Had anyone asked you to blah blah?”

I think she asked something else, but it was at that point I knew I should speak up.

“I have a decorative dagger in the luggage I’m about to check.”

Her face told me that she wasn’t sure if I had really spoken English to her in that moment. Her brain flew through its various calculations about how to ask me “What the Hell?” without saying those specific words.


“I’m sorry?”

“In my luggage, I have a decorative dagger. We bought it in Malta as a souvenir, but I’m not sure how we are supposed to handle it.” Never mind the fact that decorative might not be the correct adjective to use, I thought just saying dagger all by itself would prove more troublesome.

Again her brain whirled and buzzed, perhaps her eyes rolled up inside her brain as the little women who controlled her brain began scrambling for the proper response. Finally after what seemed like minutes but was probably only a couple of seconds she held up a finger. “Let me call someone.”

Courtney and I waited off to the side for her superior to show up. When he did they stepped away and had a discussion. Since I don’t speak Spanish, I’m not entirely sure what specifics were uttered, but after a minute or so the superior came over to me.

“What is the issue?”

It’s that feeling you get when you have been on the phone with a Help Desk and they are passing you along to someone else. They’ve been taking notes this whole time… you hear them tapping away at their keyboard, but as soon as you get transferred the next person asks you THE EXACT SAME QUESTIONS. I always think, “Why even write it down if you aren’t going to look at it.”

In this case I figured I’d give them the benefit of the doubt with the language difference and whatnot.

“We have a decorative dagger… a souvenir in our luggage.”

“Let me see it.”

So I unzipped our bag and carefully unwrapped the dagger on the counter. He may have lifted it to inspect it, if he did it was a very brief inspection. Either way he stepped aside with the original lady and they began discussing it. This conversation lasted a little longer (maybe 2 minutes), and then he came back, told me to wrap it up and put it in the bag and then they took the bag. No problem.

“Oh, they probably just said ‘Let the Americans deal with it in New York.'”

And that’s what I thought. I cursed the idea we were flying into New York instead of Atlanta. There is no way we’re getting that Dagger back home. Money completely wasted. Why didn’t I think this through?

We arrived in New York…

and no one said anything to us. Nobody pulled us aside to say they had gotten a note about the weapon, there was no detention, there was nothing. Now, granted, it wasn’t in our carry-on or anything, but still… I wasn’t expecting nothing.

Again in Atlanta there was nothing said. I began to wonder if we had said nothing in Barcelona would they have even noticed. So either clearly it wasn’t deemed important enough for them to bother with. To this day, whenever I look at the dagger I’m shocked that it is sitting on the mantle rather than in some storage bin in Spain or New York.

But no, they didn’t keep that memory and for that I am grateful.


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. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

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.

4 Steps to a Comic Challenge

I came across this list which is supposed to be a 30 day challenge where every day you post something relating to comics (maybe an image, maybe something else). I’d like to do that, but if I did one a week it would take more than half the year and that’s a long time to be writing about the same thing (as I do tend to bounce around a fair bit on this here blog).

But I would like to do a few now, and then maybe return to the list every so often until I have the thing knocked out.

1 – Your First Comic Book

I could give you the first comic I ever bought, Transformers #4. I remember grabbing a copy of it in the gift shop of the hospital where my mom worked. But that’s kinda a cheat, because it didn’t start the obsession.


Nor did another comic book – Fantastic Four #277 which could predate the Transformers issue. I picked this one up at my elementary book fair, though I have no idea why I did it. Nor why I didn’t get into comics at that point in time.

FF 277

No, my answer always comes back to the 4 comics I bought while waiting for my step-father to come pick me up after I had gotten my hair cut. He’d supplied $10 for me to get a coke and a snack at the 7-11 next door and somehow I got drawn to wanting to read something. And these four books stared back at me:

west-coast-avengers 20

xmen 217



And my wallet has never been the same.

2 – Your Favorite Character

The Flash!


Doctor Doom!

There are so many to choose from it seems a shame to narrow it down to one singular one, but I think I’d have to go with:



3- A Comic That is Underrated.



There was a Silver Age comic book (that’s the late 50s and 60s to you and me) where this kid had a telephone dial (yes, a dial). Anyway, when he dialed up the word HERO he’d randomly become some whacky and crazy super hero with equally weird powers for the issue. And then we’d do it all over again in the next issue.

Very kiddie. Pure dumb fun.

Enter Will Pfeifer and Kano and a book simply called HERO. The dial did the same thing, but in this series it found its way into different people’s hands, causing them weird and wonderful outcomes. It allowed Pfeifer to tell these smaller stories all the while still building to an epic conclusion that I did not see coming at the time.

A perfect example of how to update an old concept and breathe new life into it. It’s one of those I need to dig out of my long boxes and reread.

4- Your Guilty Pleasure comic or character

Knights of the Dinner Table


There will be many who don’t understand this strip. Those who do really understand it.

I think this qualifies, even if I’m not sad or upset that I read this comic. It has provided me more laughs than any other “funny-book” I have in my collection, and by this point (200+ issues in) I know the characters like they were a part of my own DnD group. And since I haven’t roleplayed in many years, they are my connection to a gaming experience I loved.

Oh, and I actually co-wrote a 4 page story in an issue, so there is that too.


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 World’s Greatest Comics Magazine…

The trailer for the new Fantastic Four was released today, and I really don’t have anything much to say about it. In fairness it was more of a teaser than it was a trailer. But I wasn’t upset by it, I wasn’t blown away by it… mostly I thought it was “Safe”.


Through the grapevine over the last few months, in those places we comic nerds like to scurry to in order to read about the latest goings-on in comics, there has been a lot made of that this movie is a… I want to put this politely… a dumpster fire. They are currently (or maybe they are done at this exact moment) back in Lousiana to reshoot some scenes, which those who are anti-FF movie take to mean that things have completely spiraled out of control and the studio is even considering not releasing the film (yeah, I think the trailer today dashed that rumor). The others are out there waving their hands and telling everything there is nothing to see here, just standard operating procedure.

And so we’ve been left with a trailer that is ok.

But I was wondering as I watched it… are they trying to capture the imagination of those people far and wide? Do they assume that we know who those characters are? Even the final logo was just “FF”, not Fantastic Four.

All that seems weird to me.

I normally use my wife for these types of questions about comics and what the general public “might” know about them. This is less effective today versus about a decade ago, but I might ask her what Spider-man’s secret ID was and she’d respond with Peter Parker. If I asked (pre-movies), what the name of his wife was she’d probably shake her head.

And if I asked her to name the characters from the Fantastic Four, prior to the two previous movies, I know that she would have no clue about them. Even now, if I went into the bedroom, gently woke her up, and then popped that question I’m not entirely convinced she could name all 4 members.

This isn’t to say that Marvel (or Fox or Sony) shouldn’t do movies with characters that you don’t know. I believe Guardians of the Galaxy proved that if the story is good enough that we’ll fall in love with a walking tree and a talking racoon. But if you remember that particular trailer they went ahead and gave you a little bit of information about the characters within it.

Again, the FF trailer doesn’t do this. It is fast shot of people and moments that make little sense to me, and I know who they are.


I am worried about this character in the new movie. The term “social blogger” and Doctor Doom do not belong in the same sentence.

So it had me scratching my head more than anything else. Just trying to figure out what the marketing campaign for this one is all about.

And its a little worrisome because Fantastic Four was, for much of my life, either my favorite or second favorite comic that I read month in and month out. During college there was a stretch of about 6 months that the only three comic series I collected were Fantastic Four, New Warriors, and the Flash. It is one of those franchises I want to see do well. I want those characters to become household names in the same way that Wolverine or Iceman or Iron Man or Thor has become in the last decade.

The previous 2 movies don’t help with this either… though I will say that Chris Evans nailed the character of Johnny Storm (aka The Human Torch – another big-time favorite of mine) in every way through those 2 movies. But it is almost like people can’t figure out what the FF is about. They want to take one aspect of it and then change everything else, and it is seldom for the better. It even happens in the comics when new writers take over. They mention that they are going to go back to the core concept, back to those Stan Lee and Jack Kirby books… to differing success.

In my mind the Fantastic Four are different from all the other superheroes because:

They are a family!

That’s the biggest one. No matter how much they may disagree or f!ght amongst one another, I never doubt that they are that family, bound together by their love for each other. Too many times I think the stories are written so that the characters are driven apart because of some reason or another, and while that may work for a little while (very short while), they always come back together.

During Jonathan Hickman’s run on the book (I’m about 1/2 way through it as I’ve fallen behind on my FF reading) he made a bigger point of this by putting emphasis on Reed Richards and Sue Richards’ son and daughter. He made them integral to the stories that made them more than just another “superhero book”. In fact, one of my favorite moments in a comic was an issue he did just after the Human Torch appeared to be dead. Spider-man stops by to try and help Franklin deal with his uncle’s death… and does it in a way I wouldn’t have thought of immediately, but it is definitely one of those slap your head “of course” moments.

Fantastic Four-Spidey and Franklin




Hickman got it. I hope this new movie does too.


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. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

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.

They Can’t All Be Bad, Can They?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Red Dawn – This is the original. I have no seen the remake, and I’m pretty sure it would only degrade the original in my head, so what would be the point.

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

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

Point Break


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

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

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

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


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

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

Those are the guys I want to watch.


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

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

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


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

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


Roadhouse – “Pain don’t hurt”

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

“A polar bear fell on me.”

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

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

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



John McGuire

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. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

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.