About Robert Jeffrey II

Robert Jeffrey II is an award winning journalist whose work has appeared in such publications as UVC Magazine, JaDore Magazine, BlackSci-Fi.com, and The Atlanta Voice Newspaper. He is currently the Editor In Chief for BlackSci-Fi.com. He is a regular contributor for the Tessera Guild, and his comic book work includes client work for the Centers for Disease Control, and Nitto Tires. His comic book writing includes work on such award winning/ nominated series as his creator owned series Route 3, Radio Free Amerika, Terminus Team-Up, and Soul of Suw. He’s yet to fulfill his dream of pop-locking to save a community center. Head to his website at www.robertkjeffrey.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @SYNCHRKJ, Tumblr @robdawriter , and Instagram @robertk.jeffrey.

Break out the fake hacking, techno, martial arts, and black leather! Why a Matrix relaunch could work.

I’m a huge fan of  The Matrix, and from a creative side of things, an even bigger fan of the overall universe/ concept of the property. On the other side of things, I’m lukewarm to outright “will turn the movie off because I’ve been bored to tears” when it comes to Matrix: Reloaded and Matrix: Revolutions.

The movie, along with a few other creative sources, propelled me into my career as a writer of all things super heroic, epic, sci-fi, and all around kick ass.

So when I heard that Warner Brothers was giving some thought to possibly restarting the franchise, I thought I’d just share a few opinions. Really trying not to rant here.

There’s enough of that on the internet, so call this a “calm laying out of ideas/ thoughts”.

Original Recipe or Crispy is the true answer we seek……

-In the second movie Col. Sanders, I mean The Architect, established that there had been other “One’s” in the vein of Neo.

He explained that fights/conflicts like the ones of the Matrix trilogy had happened before, suggesting that this was sort of an endless loop.

So like it or not, the Wachowski’s left the door open for more stories to possibly be told for a concept which they no longer completely own (when they sold the idea to New Line Cinema/ Warner Bros.).

Unless they signed a kick ass deal which put the complete rights of the franchise in their hands, then WB always had the possibility of telling more stories in this universe without them, and they inadvertently (or maybe that was their plan from the beginning) provided a really solid jumping off point for future stories to be told.

It would be nice for Warner Bros to bring them in on a creative front, but legally speaking, they probably aren’t obligated to. Definitely sucks, I know.

Or not, which leads me to my next point……


-As much as I love The Matrix (one of my favorite movies of all time and a trend setter for modern sci-fi film) the subsequent sequels were a’ight to just horrible. I’m not a huge fan of the Animatrix as a whole. Enjoyed some of the shorts. Others just weren’t my cup of tea.

So any other stories that could be told in this universe, which is extremely expansive, should be told probably by someone else.

I like Sense 8 well enough, and even enjoyed that Channing Tatum roller skating in the sky space opera movie they directed, but with the subsequent Matrix sequels and other movies they’ve directed since then (though I hear Speed Racer has a cult fan following) I’d rather have them on as producers, or hands off, sort of in the vein of Lucas and the current round of Star Wars.

The Star Wars franchise has hit an all time creative and pop culture high with handing off the reigns to other creators, examples including Rogue One and Star Wars: The Force Awakens

-There are some awesome creators who can tackle this material in the form of screenwriters and directors who could kick ass in this universe, and I think they deserve a chance to tell stories set in the world of The Matrix. Once again, look at the Star Wars franchise, and the hiring of such modern/ talented storytellers as J.J. Abrams, Gareth Edwards, Rian Johnson, Phil Lord and Chris Miller to continue to expand this universe.

Heck, I’d be up for writing an expanded universe comic for The Matrix.

Warner Bros: hit a dude up.

Please let this be good. By all that is holy, please let this be good.

-I think between this possible relaunch and the burgeoning Harry Potter film-verse restart with Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, I feel that Warner Bros. is trying to get a viable franchise in their hands because the DC film-verse is currently just not cutting it.

Though the Matrix movies steadily got bad in quality, they still made a crap ton of money, and that’s all these studios care about.

-Lastly, don’t do a reboot. Just pick up with another The One as suggested by Col. Sanders. Create a new story, new conflict, higher stakes, etc.

That’s about all that I have. Just a few opinions.

Please discuss below, share, and be civil. 🙂

Sci-Fi! Action! Adventure! Oh My!

First and foremost, posts are coming.

Like, soon. 🙂

Wanted to kick things off though with a new release announcement. If you’re looking for some awesome comic books, and sci-fi adventure check out some new offerings that I’ve written below.

The Scribes of Nyota: Our Voices, Our Imagination, A Compendium 

I’ve got a story in The Scribes of Nyota: Our Voices, Our Imagination, A Compendium, titled The Crossing: Moonlit Skies titled The Crossing: Moonlit Skies.

Edited by Maurice Waters, President of BlackSci-Fi.com and Creator Shawn Alleyne of Pyroglyphics Studio, “The Scribes of Nyota” aims to inspire imagination, while shining a light on a segment of society whose stories aren’t often heard.

Definitely check out the book because there are a collection of awesome stories and art to be found in the anthology.

The Crossing: Moonlit Skies, tells the story of two dimension hopping heroes, who find themselves on the run from crazy moon god worshiping acolytes.

In other words, for our protagonists, a typical Monday.

There’s gun play, hover trains, snappy dialogue, and high action. The story acts as sort of an interlude within a comic book series concept that fellow Tessera Guild member/ novelist/ comic book writer John R. McGuire and I have come up with.

Stay tuned for more news on the comic book series, but for now you can take a dip into the world of The Crossing by picking up the anthology here.

 

Terminus Team Up #1

Who doesn’t love sci-fi superheroics with great dialogue, awesome art, and kick ass stakes?

Not you intrepid reader! You can find all this and more in a story I wrote titled Terminus Team Up #1: Amber Fox vs Terra Force.

A description of the book reads “Amber Fox is just your regular dimension hopping acquisitions expert. But sometimes you end up needing to take a job from the more shady of characters. So when Amber is hired to steal a rare item of note from a team of super-powered individuals known as Terra Force, she may have overstepped her bounds. And let’s just say that Terra Force don’t take too kindly with people breaking and entering…”.

You can also pick up Tessera Guild member John McGurie’s second issue in this series that takes place in the world of his creator owned project The Gilded Age, here.

And more posts are coming, I swear.

My Top TV Moments of 2016

Atlanta, Legends of Tomorrow, and House of Cards

Atlanta, Legends of Tomorrow, and House of Cards

I love watching television. It started with  Batman: The Animated Series, progressed into my teenage years spent watching Homicide: Life on The Streets, and has coalesced now into me now having no shortage of quality programming to choose from, in between my writing.

I’m a firm believer in the saying that we’re currently living a golden age of television. A time where whatever your tastes are, you’ll find at least a couple of television programs that will fill your palate.

Netflix. Hulu. Amazon. Crackle. Heck even You Tube. All of these streaming providers, and more offer a great staple of original programming. Add to that such cable networks as Starz, USA, FX, HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and you’ve got an infinite amount of things to watch.

So with everyone doing their own “Top TV List of 2016” list, combined with my television watching enjoyment, I thought I’d put together a short list of some stand out moments from TV land. These are the moments that held the most impact for me, ranging from mouth open in an “ohmigoddidthatjusthappen” reaction, to getting a little choked up at a particular moment.

And can I say as a writer, I also enjoyed the superb craftsmanship that was on display with each of the below moments. This guy was taken to class in a few instances, while also enjoying the work as a fan.

ALSO BE WARNED:

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My “Laughed Out Loud Throughout The Entire Episode Like A Madman” Moment:

Atlanta/ FX/ Season 1, Episode 7, B.A.N

I’m going to start by saying this: WATCH THIS SHOW.

Now.

Next to Stranger Things, this series was my favorite new series of the year, and every episode is solid.

Basic premise: two cousins try to make their way up in the Atlanta rap scene and hilarity ensues. Believe me when I say, my weak description does nothing in the way to prepare you for how solid Atlanta is.

The writing on this series is sharp as hell, the satire is extremely on point, and just watching Earn (Donald Glover), Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Heny), and Darius (Keith Stanfield) just trying to make it within the Atlanta music scene is great to watch.

One particular episode that stood out for me for how against the grain that this show is would be episode 7 titled “B.A.N.”. Paper Boi appears on an Atlanta talk show called Montague, and finds himself subjected to an interview that’s going nowhere fast.

What works extremely well about this in addition to Paper Boi’s deadpan reaction to all of the ridiculousness that’s taking place around him via the host and other guest, is how the episode is formatted.

As you’re watching B.A.N there are fake commercials mixed in with the actual Montague episode, creating this weird cross section of fake narrative and real life. Mixed into the talk show are some really creative news spots (the Trans-Racial segment deserves an Emmy nod on its own) that are hilarious and had me rolling.


My “No Honey, I’m Not Crying. There’s Something In My Eye Excuse” Moment

Game Of Thrones/ HBO/ Season 6, Episode 5, Door

In a season of Game of Thrones that had no shortage of great moments, this one stole the show for me.

In the most heart-wrenching, gut punch, kick in the nether region way possible.

Hodor (Kristian Nairn) has been the Bran Stark’s lovable big guy protector for all 6 seasons that we’ve watched Game of Thrones, and to see him taken out by the White Walkers was hard to watch.

When the famous catch phrase “Hodor” was explained, as a fan I was hit pretty hard. As a writer/ creator I silently stood up and did a slow clap for the creators of this show.

Masterful and impactful storytelling at its best.


My “I Was Smiling and Feeling All Types of Hyped” Moment

Legends of Tomorrow/ CW/ Season 2, Episode 7, Invasion

The CW Arrow-verse (Supergirl, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash) is like getting a fanboy Christmas every Monday through Thursday night.

You get a great helping of all of the DC characters that you know and love, and its not just pandering special effects laden theatrics being presented. Sure there have been some weak episodes and seasons for a few of the shows, but speaking from the perspective of a guy whose watched this universe grow from the earliest days of Arrow, these shows are fun and deserve to be checked out.

In the seasons before we’ve had small crossovers involving the crews from Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tommorrow. With this being the first year of having Supergirl at its proper home on the CW network, the creators of the universe decided that an ultimate crossover was in order.

If you’re a fan of comic books crossovers are a regular thing. Its nothing to see Spidey web-slinging across the Manhattan skyline with Iron Man skyrocketing pass him, or to see Batman doing his ole’ scowly face routine as he, Wonder Woman, and Superman team up to take on a world destroying despot.

For casual fans of the recent glut of super hero movies/ television shows, crossovers such as these are something new, as presented in the growing cinematic universes of Marvel Studios and DC Comics/ Warner Bros.

The same applies for the Arrow-verse. So after a 4 night crossover event,  for casual and long time fans of these DC properties, seeing the rooftop battle against the DC heroes and the invading alien Dominators was awesome to watch.

Some folks are definitely right to draw comparisons between this and the epic airport battle in this years Captain America: Civil War, but it was still fun to watch nonetheless. And I’ll also admit the Dominators were kind of on the cannon-fodder status for the heroes.

But dammit, what we got was an epic/fun scene of kick butt action, with a little bit of saving the day thrown in.


My “WTF. Did That Just Happen?” Moment

House of Cards/ Netflix/ Season 4, Episode 13, Chapter 52

The Underwood’s (Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright) are probably some of the worst people on Earth. They lie, they cheat, they manipulate, and they kill to get what the want.

And like Vic Mackie (Michael Chiklis) in The Shield and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in Breaking Bad, the audience loves to root for them. In Mackie’s case I wanted him to get caught for the entirety of the series, but watching him duck and dodge the system was fun to watch, in a twisted sort of way.

In the final few minutes of Chapter 52 the Underwoods have taken their viciousness to a new level, having found themselves backed into a corner where there is no escape.

As result they decide to use their power as President and First Lady to set the country on a path of “fighting terror” in a total war type of fashion to deflect attention away from their troubles. The fact that it begins with a “sacrificial lamb” moment, with the death of an unfortunate character makes it all the more worse.

I don’t want to give away the whole story here of how things have led to this point, because the season deserves to be watched. This moment stands out as this year’s WTF moment for me.

Why I’m Staying My A%# out of The Woods

With Halloween around the corner I thought I’d dig into my box of what creeps yours truly out.

A gateway to the nether reaches of the soul........

A gateway to the nether reaches of the soul……..

Putting aside such horrors as flying cockroaches (Also known as the spawn of Satan.), and Jules Verne sized squids (It’s the eyes. They bore holes into your soul.) I’m going to focus on one particular thing that keeps me kind of weirded out to a small degree.

The wooded area behind my apartment complex creeps me out.  I’m a grown man, and I’m not afraid to admit that.  Laugh if you want, but for some reason the forested area behind my home can be a creep fest at times.

I grew up camping in Boy Scouts. I love a great hike through the forest, or on a park trail through the woods. Heck, after years of camping in upstate New York, my Dad taught my brother and I how to camp. So I say all this to say I enjoy getting lost (not literally) on a trip or two to the woods.

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There’s just something about the woods behind the apartment complex that’s just plain ‘ole creepy. Maybe its because of how my mind works with the writing, I’m always thinking of various scenarios that are playing out in the densely packed area behind my back porch. For instance, the first few weeks after we moved out here a couple of years ago, I remember my wife pointing out a set of sounds coming from the area behind our place.

I’m used to hearing dogs, cats, birds, maybe a raccoon or two. The normal animal sounds you’d associate with a forest that was adjacent to an apartment complex.

What we heard that night was just plain strange. I remember standing on the porch and listening to something that sounded like a cacophony of guttural, low moaning animal sounds. Or as my wife would put it “pure scariness”.

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Usually with most animal sounds that you might hear at the same time, you can discern one from the other. An owl sounds like an owl. A dog sounds like a dog. A raccoon sounds like a raccoon.

What I remember hearing that night, and  subsequent nights afterwards, was nothing I’d ever heard before or since. With my writers mind being as crazy as it is, I began to think that maybe a hellish portal had opened behind my house to release some other worldly creatures into our neck of the woods.

Damn you Stranger Things for getting that idea on screen first. 🙂

All I know is that when I’m walking my dog at night, we don’t head towards to the treeline where the woods meet the apartments. Outside of the concern that my pet will run after some random rodent that might pop out of the woods, I’m not chancing being snatched up by any of these creepy sounding creatures.

Now maybe what we’re hearing is just a regular ‘ole run of the mill forest dweller. I just know that I sure as heck am not going to try and confirm or deny that, by taking a field trip to the woods.

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Lastly, my apartment complex has done a piss poor job of keeping up the trail that runs through this area. Trash is strewn about, bridges have fallen into disrepair, small ponds are completely dry, leaves cover the path, and it just looks creepily abandoned by society.

I’m a geek when it comes to learning about abandoned areas like The Maunsell Sea Forts of England, Pripyat in Ukraine, or Hashima Island of Japan. Though I think the area where I live is far from getting to the “ghost town” status of these notable landmarks, I feel that the jogging/ walking path behind the complex is slowly but surely getting there.

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I’ve walked this path a few times (during day time of course) and each time I find myself with a general sense of unease. Not full on fright, or panic, but more so “yeah, I probably need to get the heck out of here soon”.

Maybe if our complex hadn’t seemingly just wrote off the area, and tried to keep it up, I’d feel differently. Until then, I’ll stay away from the abandoned looking path that winds behind our apartment.

Check out some pics from the above mentioned area, and enjoy.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween folks.

Let’s Escape

Escapism:  the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.”

I’m finding myself escaping a bit more nowadays.

Let me flesh that out a little better.

For the past year, things have been a bit hectic. Sometimes stressful. Many times head scratchingly so. On a variety of fronts.

Though there’s also been a great helping of good, I find often, I need a break from the other zany/ taxing stuff we call life.

Not to the point of just completely checking out. Just a way to get away for a minute or two. Let the ‘ole brain unwind for a while.

So whether it’s writing, reading, catching a movie/ tv show, or just hanging with friends and fam’, I just wanted to share some of the ways that I’m finding that release of sorts.

1. Food Paradise/ Travel Channel

Ok, bear with me here. 🙂

I like to eat. Now if only I balanced that out with a healthy dose of working out, I’d be Kool and The Gang. That’s another story for another day.

What I love about this show though is it unabashedly celebrates the many  varieties of food that these 50 states has to offer. You want to find the best seafood spots, fried chicken eateries, ice cream parlors, pizzerias, steakhouses that are spread all across this country? This show has it all.

Maybe I’m a food connoisseur. Who knows. All I can say is watching this show gets me in a chilaxin’ mood come Sunday evening when it airs.

 

2.Bob’s Burgers/ Netflix

Bob’s Burgers gives me so much life, it probably needs to be bottled up and prescribed. I’ve gone through all of the seasons on Netflix, and it’s become sort of a daily ritual for my wife and I to watch an episode every night during dinner.

In my opinion, this is the best animated sitcom that network television has to offer, and after a long day of work (plus a hour and a half commute home to work) Bob’s  Burgers provides a hilarious wind down.

 

3. Deep Space Nine (DS9)/ Netflix

One of these days I’m going to put together a post about why this show kicks show much a#$. Until then I’ll just lay out a few points about why I’m going through this series a second time.

Star Trek represents hope for me. Hope that we as human beings can stop with the B.S. and just aspire for something better. As has been shown in the numerous Star Trek series’ that have come since STOS (Star Trek: The Original Series), a sort of Utopian society is created as the end result of years upon years of just mucking ‘ish up.

The funny thing is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) kind of flips this Utopian ideal on its head, and I enjoy it all the more. What I find heartening about DS9 (sometimes known as the “dark Trek series”) is the fact that through the constant butting of heads that occurs between the differing groups of characters on this series, this show, better than any other Star Trek series, shows how we can get to that place of understanding even in the face of our differences and insurmountable odds. To a spot where we can possibly create something better.

Though it doesn’t always work out this way (as we see daily in the “real” world), when it does, it’s a beautiful sight to behold.

So yeah, in a strange way what acts as a stress reliever, and a sort of beacon of hope that things can get better, is the conflict/ differing views of characters on this series. I guess I like seeing that the process works sometimes, albeit on a fictional space station in this case.

 

4. Any fight scene from Daredevil Season 1 & 2/ Netflix

Sometimes just seeing folks beat the heck out of each other can be therapeutic.

 

5. Mistborn

I’m still rolling through this book and really enjoying it. As I said before in a recent Tessera post, “Ocean’s 11 meets Magic: The Gathering, with a smidgen of steampunk.”

A great place to escape to.

mistbornfinalempire

 

6. Writing The Okun & Untitled Anthology Project

I recently finished up an additional 5 pages of script for The Okun, a story/ potential series in the making (publishers, we’re coming for ya) co-created by myself and artist extraordinaire Takeia Marie. This is the space epic that I’ve wanted to write for a while, and to have a chance to play around in a war torn cosmos has been fun.

Add to this, I’m in the early stages of working on an anthology project with the aforementioned Ms. Marie. Anytime numerous story ideas keep you up to the wee hours of the night jotting down story ideas, a good time is had.

That’s about all of the escaping I’ve got this go around.  🙂

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Honorable Mention:

7. Ghost Adventures/ Travel Channel

Okay, so if you’re looking for a ghost investigation series that takes itself ultra seriously, and doesn’t have paranormal investigators saying “Whoa!” and “Dude” every five seconds, this isn’t the show for you.

Ghost Adventures is a guilty pleasure for me. Following the exploits of a group of paranormal investigators on their weekly ghost hunting escapades, this show never fails to please in all the wrong ways. I definitely appreciate the professionalism and respect that the crew brings to all of their investigations and the field of paranormal science, but what I love the most is that this show is essentially “Ghostbusters: Dude Bros Edition”.

Not in the obnoxious, preppy/ entitled frat boy/ full of themselves being a-holes type of Dude Bros. More of the Keanu Reeves/ Dazed and Confused slacker/ rocker types that yell “Whoa!” and “Dude” with some random door closing by itself during an episode, or with unexplained creak that happens off camera.

As with Bob’s Burgers, the show keeps me laughing a lot.

 

Convention appearance: Onyxcon Infinity 2016

Hi dudes and dudettes. Decided to channel my inner Ninja Turtle/ Bill & Ted lexicon there.

Myself and comic book creator William Satterwhite (creator of the webcomic Stealth, regular contributor to BlackSci-Fi.com) are scheduled to appear on 8/20 from 1-7 at Onyxcon Infinity.

We’ll have copies of Stealth: The Life and Times of Allen White, the Radio Free Amerika: Season 1 graphic novel, and other awesome merchandise!

Heck, if you just want to geek out and talk comics, stop on by our table.

Head here for more information about the event, and spread the word! 🙂

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For My Fellow Creators Who Stay On The Grind

I’ve been a freelance writer for 10 years. I started out working for The Atlanta Voice Newspaper back in 2006, and I’ve been able to build a pretty decent career as a “hired gunslinger” when it comes to the written word. With the guidance of awesome folks like Maurice Waters, Tony Cade, Mark Stancil, and Dennis Malcolm Byron, I’ve been able to grow in this freelance world of journalism and comics.

The freelancing has provided me with some awesome opportunities, and put me in front of people that I never thought I’d ever be in the same room with. I’ve had a chance to interview such hip hop icons as Ludacris, Chuck D, and Andre 3000. I’ve had a chance to do client work on such award nominated/ critically acclaimed series like the CDC’s Kabi Chronicles: The Edge, Barron Robert Bell’s Radio Free Amerika and William Satterwhite’s Stealth: The Life and Times of Allen White.

Heck I even parlayed my love of comic books into doing a phone interview with one of my writing inspirations, the late great Dwayne McDuffie, for a story I did on black comic book creators with The Atlanta Voice Newspaper.

So when I say I’ve been blessed/ fortunate to have the career that I’ve had, that’s an understatement. I’m extremely grateful for every opportunity that has graced my pallet, not even including the creator owned comic book work that I’ve done.

But I want more. 🙂

This is what I'd love my 9-5 to be: writing full time, or something close to it. :-)

This is what I’d love my 9-5 to be: writing full time, or something close to it. 🙂

I want to do this full time, or at least close to it. I want to be able to provide for my family, and still parlay this love of the written word into my primary 9-5.

Is that greedy? Is that unrealistic? Maybe so, in today’s economic climate. But I’d be damned if I didn’t say I didn’t want more.

And you know what? I don’t just want it for myself, I want it for my fellow Tessara Guild members John McGuire, Amanda Makepeace, Chad Snok, J Edward Neill. For the kick ass poet/ rapper I know as I my little brother, Brandon Jeffrey, a.k.a OB. For my director/ writer/ Jane of all Trades cuzzo Gabrielle Hawkins. I want it for my ride or die brother in arms Sean Hill. For Barron Robert Bell. For Tony Cade. For Mark Stancil. For Takeia Marie. For Tanya Woods. For Maurice Waters. For Nicole Kurtz. For Deon Brown, William Satterwhite, Vincent Christie, Bobby NashAshton James Mason, and heck, everyone else I know I’ve missed because I’m apparently suffering early onset memory loss.

I want our collective love and passion for the fields of writing, art, comics, filmmaking, etc., combined with our strong worth ethic to parlay into something where we can do this for our 9-5’s. Because, hell we deserve it, and we are constantly putting in the work and drive to get there.

What I wanted to do with this post was give a shout out to my folks who grind at the 9-5’s that they have to work, to get to where they want to work (or at least closer to where both career’s bring in equal amounts of income).

Two songs that I love that I feel capture this idea of a creator doing what they have to do, to do what they love, are Lupe Fiasco’s Hip-Hop Saved My Life (feat. Nikki Jean), and Ace Hood’s Hustle Hard. I’m a hip hop/ rap fan so both speak personally to such a drive to find a way to do what you love, so you can take care of those you love, and still enjoy what you’re doing.

This post is for those folks like myself who would rush out at 5:00  pm on the dot to do an interview with someone halfway across the country. For those people who stay up to 1:00 am in the morning to knock out final edits on a personal project, or client work, knowing you have to be up at 6:00 am that day for your other job. Or for those who become true weekend warriors to put the final touches on an awesome piece of art, realizing that Monday brings yet another day of the main job that puts food on the table, and a roof over your families’ head.

And hey, reaching such a level can be done. I look at those creators who are doing what they love full time, 24/7 and feel driven to get to where they are, while also being extremely happy for them. Not for the reason of making a crazy amount of money. Nope, I simply want to get to a point where I actually love what I’m doing full time.

Heck, at least close to full time would be great, so I’m not choosy.

So to all my fellow “after 5:00 pm/ weekend/ up to all hours of the night/ holiday warriors-creators” I salute you with a Captain Benjamin Sisko toast. You, and all of your work is mad’ appreciated yo’.

Now get back to creating so we make these dreams a reality.

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Captain Benjamin Sisko approves this message

Convention Announcement/ Urban Axis Indy Con

Hey guys and gals! Just wanted to give a heads up that yours truly will be a guest/ panelist at this years 2016 Urban Axis Indy Con on July 23-24!

Here’s a rundown of the event: Urban Axis IndyCon is an event formed by the minds of Urbangod Ink Studios and Infinite Axis Comix. The first Urban Axis IndyCon was held October 10th and 11th, 2015 in Stone Mountain, Georgia at The Venue at Redan. Urban Axis Indy Con showcases vending from independent comic artists, authors, illustrators and other creators. UAIC also feature events such as musical performances, gaming, cosplay, independent film, spoken word, and workshops!

I’ll have copies of the Route 3: Vol 1 graphic novel…..

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Copies of the Radio Free Amerika Season 1 graphic novel….

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And other awesome titles like The Gilded Age (written/ created by the esteemed John R. McGuire), Terminus Team Up, and Platypus Vs. Monkey!

We’ll also be showing Terminus Media related animation, along with the first episode from our recent CDC/ Terminus Media collaboration/ animated motion comic.

I’ll even be hosting panels/ workshops, juggling oranges, and pop-locking to save a community center.

Ok, maybe not the juggling, and pop-locking, but I’ll defintely be hosting some panels/workshops. Check out the schedule below:

Saturday July 23, 2016- Day 1

2:30 PM: Platypus Vs. Monkey/ RFA Video presentation followed by a Q & A and lecture

4:30 PM: Terminus Media Panel

Sunday July 24, 2016- Day 2

2:00 PM: Robert Jeffrey Lecture/ Workshop; “The Basics for Writing A Comic Book Script”

Head to http://www.urbanaxisindycon.com/ for more information and see ya there.

 

A Tale of Sliders and Tow Trucks

Life has a way of repeatedly kicking you in the nether regions at times.

Like, repeatedly.

Case in point: about a couple of weeks ago the head gasket on my car went caput, with a giant C. Smoke and/or steam began spewing from the hood, my car began making a weird sucking/ popping sound, and only by the skin of my teeth was I able to make it out of rush hour traffic to an empty driveway to wait for a tow.

A reenactment of Robert's descent into madness

A reenactment of Robert’s descent into madness

Car was taken to a shop, shop said it would take 5 days, maybe 7 max to repair.

Cool.

7 turned into 8, 8 turned into something else, new days of completion were provided, patience was provided by yours truly, and then those days were missed.

Patience began wearing thin, other missed days were promised, terse conversations followed, and FINALLY the car was repaired. Head gasket was said to be in tip top shape, and I was back on the road.

So fast forward to 6/30 (remember, this whole thing began on 6/15) I’m driving along, listening to Collider Heroes Podcast, maxin’ and relaxin’, enjoying the AC, and then I notice my temperature gauge is running hot.

And then guess what happens?

Smoke and/or steam began spewing from the hood, my car began making a weird sucking/ popping sound, and only by the skin of my teeth was I able to make it out of rush hour traffic to the side of the road to wait for a tow truck.

So there I am, sitting in the car, ticked beyond comprehension after getting off the phone with the repair shop. Told them I wasn’t paying for a repair that should’ve been handled correctly before to which they agreed, and they said to have my car towed to the shop again to be checked out.

Another reenactment of Robert losing it on the phone. Note: notice that my cell phone appears to be modeled after an old landline phone. That's so retro!

Another reenactment of Robert losing it on the phone. Side note: notice that my cell phone appears to be modeled after an old landline phone.
That’s so retro!

What to do? Stew in my anger as traffic whizzed past my immobile vehicle?

Heck no!

This situation called for something epic, something that would get my mind off of the fact that I was slowly roasting even with the windows down:

A live reaction session via FB for the first episode of that 90’s cross dimensional hopping sci-fi adventure, Sliders, through the Netflix app on my phone.

Below is the insanity that flowed from my fingers as I waited for rescue.

Enjoy.

 

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The OG’s of Cross Dimensional Travel, a.k.a The Fab Four

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Epilogue: The car got repaired the next day and is rolling along a bit better.

Thanks Sliders for getting me through it all.

Bonus: Here’s a little diddy from the Crying Man himself, Mr. Rembrandt Brown.

 

A Book Fiend’s 2016 Summer Reading List

A couple of weeks ago, after heading to 2nd and Charles (a.k.a  the place that feeds my addiction for used DVD’s and books), I found myself at the house looking at my recent haul. Combined with a growing collection of books that I’d bought over the past few months, and unread books from years past, I had a total of 24 books that needed to be read.

So with the summer months coming up I’ve taken it upon myself to do a little bit of reading, and to put a hiatus on buying more books. I’m really not trying to turn my apartment into an episode of Hoarder’s, so 2nd and Charles, Barnes and Noble, The Book Nook, and the Kindle E Book store will all have to be a distant memory for the next few months.

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I’ll try not to weep too much as I think longingly of those endless rows of dog eared books, with genre’s ranging from horror, to sci-fi….

::Shakes out the daydream of used book Nirvana::

Wow, I think I started drooling a little bit.

Anyways, the books that I’ve gathered are all genre heavy, including sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. I wanted a bit of an escape this summer, and I think I’ve gotten a great selection of books that will allow for just that.

I’ve decided to share a few of the selections of which I’m most excited to read in the below list. Check out some of the titles below, and head here for the larger list of books that I’ve decided to spend the summer reading.

New Frontier

1.Star Trek: New Frontier Books 1-4, Peter David

Peter  David is a prolific comic book writer and novelist. I’ve been a big fan of his writing ever since I read his work on the Star Trek: TNG novel Imzadi, and he’s enjoyed a long career as Star Trek novelist. His New Frontier series focuses on the crew of the USS Excalibur, and their continuing adventures in the Star Trek universe. In sort of a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, I thought it might be fun to jump on board a new story set within the STNG and DS9 era universe, explore some strange new worlds, and seek out new civilizations with a new starship crew.

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2.The Mistborn Trilogy, Brandon Sanderson

Ocean’s 11 meets Magic: The Gathering, with a smidgen of steampunk. Ever since I heard about this genre blending series I’ve wanted to check out Sanderson’s work, and the summer time brings a perfect opportunity to jump on board the series. So far, so good.

Dark Universe

3.Dark Universe, Edited by Milton Davis and Gene Peterson

Space opera’s are awesome. I love them so much I’m writing one myself. 🙂  Dark Universe is a great addition to this ever growing genre with the multi story spanning tale of the Cassad Empire. This short story anthology has been burning a hole in my Kindle account, so I plan on jumping into this universe this summer.

Characters, Emotion

4.Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint, Nancy Kress

I’m always hoping to grow in my craft of writing, so this was a no brainer when I saw it at 2nd and Charles. This book helps with such writing methods of choosing the best points of views in stories, creating three-dimensional characters, and a host other activities that can go a long way in helping with my future writing projects. Definitely a great addition to the Jeffrey bookshelf.

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5.Words For Pictures, Brian Michael Bendis

Another book on writing that I’m going to add to the mix, which is a re-read. Bendis is a master of comic book storytelling, and this has become an essential reference when it comes to growing as a comic book writer.

 

In Defense of The Kents

A few years ago DC Comics/ Warner Bros. decided to reboot/ restart/ re-whatever the Superman franchise on the big screen with 2013’s Man of Steel. The movie was sort of a grittier take on the tale of a man who could leap tall buildings in a single bound, being styled with the tone of the previous Christopher Nolan Bat-flicks.

Was it a good movie? It’s still a point that’s debated, even on the cusp of the release of the movie’sman-of-steel-43 sequel / jump off to the DC Cinematic Expanded Universe, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Overall the film was a’ight the first time I saw it, but it’s kind of grown on me since.

One of the re-branded plot points that came out of this new tone/ focus that I found which was extremely effective was the relationship between Clark and his adopted parents, the Kents.

Played by Diane Lane (Martha Kent) and Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent), the story of the Kents fateful meeting with a downed Kryptonian life pod pretty much stayed true to the comics. Where this relationship had some detractors, or might have deviated from the source material, though was the tone struck by the Kent’s, towards Clark accepting his possible role as his adopted world’s savior.

I remember a lot of criticism being directed at the fact that the Kent’s were of the mindset that Clark stay under the radar with his abilities, in some cases, with some pretty harsh lines of dialogue.

Case in point: there’s a part in the movie where a young Clark and his classmates are involved in an automobile accident, when their bus careens off the side of a bridge and falls into a river. The kids are trapped, Clark taps into his Kryptonian roots, and saves everyone in a pretty awesome feat of superheroics.

The possibility arises that someone has possibly seen him do this, and it leads to a heart to heart with Pa Kent, as shown in the below line of dialogue.

Clark Kent at 13: I just wanted to help.

Jonathan Kent: I know you did, but we talked about this. Right? Right? We talked about this! You have…!

[calms himself]

Jonathan Kent: Clark, you have to keep this side of yourself a secret.

Clark Kent at 13: What was I supposed to do? Just let them die?

Jonathan Kent: Maybe; but there’s more at stake here than our lives or the lives of those around us. When the world… When the world finds out what you can do, it’s gonna change everything; our… our beliefs, our notions of what it means to be human… everything. You saw how Pete’s mom reacted, right? She was scared, Clark.

Clark Kent at 13: Why?

Jonathan Kent: People are afraid of what they don’t understand.

Even in the previews for the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Diane Lane has a brief line of dialogue which still sort of speaks to the above sentiment, in present day now that Clark has accepted the Superman mantle, world saving duties and all.

 

First, let me say this: this depiction of the Kent’s is one of my all time favorites.

Secondly: I wasn’t a huge fan of Man of Steel on the first viewing. I thought it was an okay movie, and there were a few things that just prevented it from being pushed into a higher ranking for me.  I still have issues with it, but its gotten a little better for me. How the Kents were handled was partly instrumental in this.

There’s been this suggestion that the Kents were at times just a bit too apathetic. Selfish for keeping their son and his abilities away from the world. Fearful. Distrusting. Etc.

There’s another side of this that I really want people to understand. In the comics, and in subsequent film/ television adaptations of Superman’s origin story the Kents have often been written as a couple who wanted children. For whatever reason they weren’t able to do that. In some instances the Kent’s have been depicted as a couple in their early 40’s, in other instances a bit older, maybe even pushing towards their 60’s, still with this yearning (maybe waning a bit) to have a child to call their own.

Without bringing the added component of whether the couple was religious or not (don’t know if the faith of the couple was ever discussed in the comics, or in other adaptations), the symbolism of the child being rocketed to Earth had to be seen as some sort of miracle to the couple.

So imagine all of this coalescing into a gift from the skies above being dropped in a Kansas field one sunny day. Your prayers/ desires have been seemingly answered. You then find out this kid is an alien from another world, and can possibly change the very course of the world as we know it.

But at the end of the day, all that you see in front of you is that gift from the heavens. Someone that you’ve asked for day in and day out, and he’s there. Your little Clark.

man-of-steel-image04-e1422553488658So yeah, I have no doubt that the Kents would probably be extremely protective of their adopted son. Especially in a world where the common line of thinking is shoot the hell out of it first, then ask questions later. Also, it seems a bit more plausible to me that even if the couple didn’t have the backstory of being childless or having that yearning to fiercely protect their “gift”, they wouldn’t be so likely to push their son out into the world to save the day.

I know a lot of parents who, even when they want to get their knuckleheads out of the house, still worry for the welfare of their child. Of course they eventually get to the point of acknowledging that their child has to become an adult, and has to experience the world. But the depiction of the Kents as not totally being on board with their son “saving the day” immediately has more of a realistic slant for me.

Man of Steel has its faults, and maybe Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice will also. But for me at least, the one thing that I can say the screenwriters/ director got right between both would be the Kent’s love for their son, and their desire to keep him protected from an often distrustful and malicious world.

Makes perfect sense to me.

 

Interview with Brandon Easton, screenwriter for Marvel’s Agent Carter, Part 1

In an exclusive collaboration with TesseraGuild.com, BlackSci-Fi.com presents the first part of a 2-part interview with screenwriter, and comic book writer Brandon Easton on his work on “Marvel’s Agent Carter” upcoming season 2 episode, “Monsters”.

Since the creation of Iron Man in 2008 Marvel Studios has continued to grow their shared cinematic universe through film and television. Pulling from a wide array of licensed characters found within the pages of Marvel Comics, they’ve stretched from the farthest reaches of the galaxy (Guardians of the Galaxy), to the seedy streets of Hell’s Kitchen, New York (Daredevil).

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Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Image Credit: ABC/Marvel TV

On both film and television the studio has found critical and commercial success, and shows no sign of stopping. This is further exemplified by such television series as ABC network’s, Marvel’s Agent Carter.  The television show follows the story of the Strategic Scientific Reserve’s (SSR) finest and most brilliant secret agent, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Introduced in Captain America: First Avenger, Peggy Carter has become one of the MCU’s (Marvel Cinematic Universe) most prominent characters, fighting evil in World War II ravaged Europe, and now in late 1940’s Hollywood, CA.

The show is in its second season, and this coming week will air two episodes on 2/16/16: Life of The Party (Episode 6), and Monsters (Episode 7).

Adding another notch to his ever growing portfolio of work, Brandon Easton joined the writing staff of Agent Carter in 2015, on the heels of his acceptance into the 2015 Disney/ ABC Writing Program. This has culminated in the upcoming 2/16/16 premiere of his addition to the MCU, with an episode that he wrote, the aforementioned Monsters.

Easton’s body of work continues to grow in the arenas of comics, animation, and now live action television with such standouts as his creator owned Shadowlaw comic book series, his documentary Brave New Souls: Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers of the 21st Century, his work on the Glyph Comics Award winning/ Eisner nominated Watson and Holmes, WB Animations ThunderCats, and the recent Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics nominated Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven.

In an interview with BlackSci-Fi.com, Easton spoke about his time spent in the Disney/ ABC Writing program, his work on Agent Carter, his writing career, what he’s learned during his time in Hollywood, along with other topics in this two part interview.

“It’s a really long story, to really get into it. I had a really up and down 2014, between family stuff, and career stuff,” Easton said speaking about his acceptance into the Disney/ ABC Writing program. “I was nominated for an Eisner in 2014 that I didn’t win. But the very week that I didn’t win the Eisner I’d also lost out on two really important jobs. Well maybe not important, but two lucrative jobs that would’ve kept me alive throughout the end of 2014. Things got really bad.”

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Brandon Easton

“If I didn’t get into the ABC/Disney Writing Program I honestly don’t know what this past year would’ve been like for me. I had no idea what would’ve happened to me. So to make a long story short it was an incredible feeling.”

“I was one of 8 people selected in the program. Halfway through the program they try to get you staffed on any show in the ABC family, and the ABC Family networks. First, getting into the ABC/Disney Writing Program which is damn near impossible, that was amazing. Then when they said “we have an opening on Agent Carter and a couple of other shows”, and they sent me out, it just happened that Agent Carter really was the best fit.”

Gaining an inside track of sorts into the inner workings of the executive side and development branch of the ABC network, Easton was able to utilize his time spent with the ABC/ Disney Writing Program to expand on his knowledge of what it truly takes to put together a television program.

“The program puts you in a very unique position. You get to meet with development executives within ABC the studio, and the network, which are two different things as I found out.  You get to spend time with people that you would never get a chance to meet in any other capacity,” Easton explained.

“And you learn things about the business that don’t get reported anywhere. You learn things like who’s actually in charge. You learn about the people that actually make the decisions.  There’s no class in the world that will tell you that. So the ABC program puts you in the unique position to really understand the business side of it, because all the people who complain 24/7 every single day, whining and complaining about this and that, very few people understand the business side of it.”

“I learned so much about how things actually work that it changed the way I thought as a creator.”

Easton provided an example of such insight which involved a scene that he wrote for his upcoming Agent Carter episode. It was here where he found how the business of the network can affect the scripting process, while also informing how he’d write future scripts.

“To give you an example, I wrote a couple of night scenes. I also wrote a scene in the desert. When you’re shooting a night scene you’re actually going to be outside. A typical TV recording/ shooting day is anywhere between 12-15 hours. That’s typical. Sometimes you’ll go onto 20 hours. I didn’t know that,” Easton explained.

“So I was writing a bunch of night scenes and I wrote some scenes in the desert. Next thing you know we start shooting at 6pm, we’re out all night until 6 am. We were shooting in the desert and I’d never spent any time in the desert.  I’m from the East Coast, from Baltimore, what the fuck do I know about a desert (laughter)?”

“We go out in the desert, and it’s like, did you see The Martian by any chance? There’s a scene in The Martian where the red dust of Mars is blowing across the landscape, and you can’t see shit. The spaceship is falling over. I felt like I was in that position. We were in the desert at 5 am the wind is like 90 mph, sand is cutting through everything, and I realize in the future I’m no longer going to write any scenes in the desert.”

“I’m going to make sure I don’t write too many night scenes either because you have to realize everything you write that they can physically achieve, you’re actually going to have to be there for the entire shoot. And that’s something I didn’t really know and nobody can prepare you for that.”

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Brandon Easton’s comic book work including Shadowlaw, Watson and Holmes, and Andre the Giant: Closer To Heaven

As the new recruit on the Agent Carter writing team, Easton explained that though the experience was an irreplaceable one, being the new kid on the block wasn’t necessarily the best feeling.

“It didn’t feel great,” Easton explained. “And this is nothing against the people that I worked with because they are really good people, and I learned a lot from every single one of them. But I came in on a show that had already had a season.”

“It’s sort of like transferring from one school to another as a sophomore. You come in and the relationships are already made. You weren’t there for the freshman year to build those relationships. I often felt like the odd man out, I was the only black person there, and that wasn’t always fun, but that’s the reality of the business.”

“So at the same time you’re also there to learn because you’re new. And you try to find a way to make yourself useful to the people. You don’t want to make your bosses’ day harder than it already is going to be. I learned a lot, I had some good teachers, so I really can’t complain.”

WYNN EVERETT

Wynn Everett as Whitney Frost, Image Credit: ABC/Marvel TV

Easton’s work in the writers room, his years of screenwriting, and the ABC/ Disney writing program culminated in an episode which he’s called “The Empire Strikes Back” of this season. The writer explained that the episode focuses on this seasons’ archenemy, Whitney Frost (played by Wynn Everett), who deals a major blow to Carter and her team. Throughout the season, Carter and Frost’s struggle has risen in a tense and exhilarating fashion, and it seems that Monsters will possibly bring this conflict to its climatic and destructive head. Adding to the growing pantheon of complex MCU villains, Frost seems to be on a path to test Carter in a way that she hasn’t encountered before.

“I can’t wait for people to see her performance (Wynn Everett). She really brings it. She brings it hard,” Easton said.

“It was fun (writing an episode featuring a villain). My episode is a Whitney Frost episode in a way. A lot of the episode is dealing with something that Whitney Frost is working on. The way that the episode works you have to have some bad things happen in order for the heroes to come back. My episode is sort of like the Empire Strikes Back episode of Agent Carter.”

Easton further explained that he was able to have a hands on experience with the filming of his episode. Being able to be on set when Monsters was filmed, Easton explained was an invaluable experience, as he gleaned more information into the development of his story from script to screen. In addition to gaining this experience, Easton found another perk of being a screenwriter on a major network series: you become a go-to person for those in front of and behind the camera.

“In TV the writer is basically number one. On set, the director knew I was new, the producer who was with me on set knew I was new. So I was really observing and learning how it goes.  Also, no matter how good you think what you wrote is, some actor somewhere is going to say there’s a problem with it, and ask “can I say it this way?”, Easton said.

“Whatever you’ve got to get (in terms of filming) that day you’ve got to get. So a lot of times actors will have ideas, the directors have ideas, and sometimes you listen and sometimes you don’t. More often than not there are good suggestions but you don’t always get the flexibility to make changes.”

“I was on set, I was participating, I had a say in things, and if I didn’t like something I’d let them know, but more often than not I liked it. You don’t want to be saying shit to just say stuff. You want to make sure that if you’re saying something it actually makes sense.”

Marvel-Television-SeriesAt the end of the day Easton explained that his experience writing the Agent Carter episode was an important one, that he appreciates on both a writing/ creative front, and as a fan of the MCU.

“As a fan, that’s a good question. I can’t even figure out where to begin,” Brandon said.

“I was working with some ridiculously creative, talented people. And knowing that every word I write is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because Agent Carter is in the Captain America films, she was even in Ant Man at the beginning. So she’s a part of that world, so everything that happens in any episode of Agent Carter also occurs at some point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

“It hasn’t hit me yet because it hasn’t aired. But trust me when I say once it airs, and particularly with the type of stuff that I deal with in my episode, its really going to hit me hard then.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 of BlackSci-Fi.com’s interview with Brandon Easton which will be available with the 2/27/16 relaunch of www.blacksci-fi.com.

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Episode 7 of season 2 of Agent Carter,”Monsters”, premieres  2/16/16 on the ABC Network, at 10 pm EST. Check your local listings for exact times.

Many thanks to the fine folks of www.tesseraguild.com for this great collaboration opportunity.

 

 

Best Works Featuring “Regular Folks with Super Abilities”: Part 1

2016 is going to bring no shortage of superheroes and super-villains on both the large and small screens. We’ve got Batman vs. Superman, Daredevil: Season 2, The Suicide Squad, Luke Cage, Agent Carter: Season 2, Captain America: Civil War, and the list goes on and on.

I’m personally a huge fan of such stories, in all mediums, and as a geek/ fan of pop culture I think that we’re living in a golden age of comic book storytelling, both on and off the pages of comics.

What I’m also a huge fan of are those stories of everyday people blessed/ cursed with awe inspiring abilities who don’t necessarily decide to put on a cape and tights to save the day. Folks who find themselves caught up in a set of crazy circumstances, while trying to continue to live their lives.

Pay the bills. Deal with relationship issues. Keep a job.

Now I’m not saying that these stories don’t eventually go the way of your typical tale of super heroics, but most of the one’s that I’ve become a fan of haven’t necessarily gone this route. As in the case of comic books, there’s a huge amount of action and adventure, with a smattering of some of the best elements of great science fiction.

Sometimes some of these examples start off as solid science fiction, but wind up playing within the spectrum of  the “regular folks with powers” sub-genre.

At the root of most of these works is a focus on how the characters involved decides to work with the abilities they’ve been either blessed or cursed with. There’s no immediate call to save the day, though we eventually get there in some of these cases.

For a while there have been a number of really notable examples of movies, novels, television programs, and comics that have played within this arena. There have also been some that have been not so stellar.

This will be the start of a list that I’ll try to add on to as I come across more examples of what I think is a pretty interesting sub genre of the tights and fights area of fiction.

4400

The 4400 (Television Series)

The USA Network for me was always the home of comedies like Psych and marathon broadcast sessions of dramas like Law and Order: Criminal Intent. It wasn’t a network that delved too much in the fantastical, at least at the points where I had cable.

So color me surprised when The 4400 dropped. I’m planning on doing another post that will go into detail on the awesomeness of the television series. Needless to say USA surprised me in a very good way.

The 4400 told the story of a group of 4400 individuals who disappeared worldwide over the years, beginning in 1946. In 2004 they are brought back to a Seattle, Washington beach and a division of US government agents are tasked with figuring out what happened to them, why they’ve been brought back, and to basically watch over them.

What is soon revealed is that a large amount of these individuals have abilities, and the show then becomes a mixture of X-Files meets X-Men. For the first season we follow a pair of agents, Agent Diana Skouris and Agent Tom Baldwin who tackle a sort of “ability” of the week story line, while we also watch how this plays out on the larger story being told.

The show ran for 4 seasons, with an abrupt cancellation in the last season. There have been four novels set within the continuity of the TV show which builds the world even further that should also be checked out.

Though the show focused on the concept of people with abilities, as mentioned before, these individuals weren’t trying to be superheroes. You have people who abused their abilities for selfish gain, saw the abilities as a blessing, or even tried to use them for committing disturbing acts.

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For example there was one episode during the first season where one returnee attempted to use his ability to simply save his neighborhood, after seeing the state of decay it had experienced in the years that he’d been away. But even then, you see the effects of what happens to an untrained individual who, though they had a set of “super” abilities, paid the consequences of the harsh reality he’d attempted to change, good intentions be damned.

The story grows in scope over the later seasons as we see the true purpose for these individuals being brought back, and definitely throws in a large amount of sci-fi elements. But at the core of this larger story we always come back to how these abilities are affecting these normal, everyday folks who are in essence caught out of time.

Chronicle (Film)

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Simple synopsis of Chronicle: A group of teens at a party find a glowing rock, investigate, experience nose bleeds, black outs, and develop telekinetic abilities.

And everything else afterwards is f&^%$ing awesome.

What works about this movie is this simple synopsis. Only towards the end of the flick do we get some obligatory, grandiose hero vs. villain fight. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome, but that’s not the strongest part of the flick.

No, before then we simply get a tale of kids gaining super abilities, and just being kids.

They get a handheld camera, and just do what teens nowadays would do: show off, and have fun with these new found abilities. Whether it’s pulling pranks at a grocery store, or just flying through the Washington state skies, the teens are just enjoying these awesome abilities.

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We have the popular nice/ intelligent dude (Steve/ Michael B. Jordan), the middle of the road likeable guy (Matt/ Alex Russell), and the sympathetic outcast (Andrew/ Dane DeHaan). Through the gifting of these abilities an unexpected friendship organically grows between the three, and makes you enjoy these characters even more.

In addition to this focusing on the budding friendship between the trio, we also get a really good example of something that I’ll tackle in Jumper: a focus on what a person who has been physically/ mentally abused might do with such a set of abilities.

One of the strongest, and depressing character arcs that we see in this movie is Andrew’s, played masterfully by DeHann. He’s the butt of everyone’s joke at high school, he’s the kid with the alcoholic father who verbally and physically beats him down it seems with every single day.

Imagine what a kid like that might do if granted god like abilities? Put on an outfit and fight crime?

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Nope, he’d be more inclined to probably F’ ‘ish up, as he lashes out with a huge well of pent up pain and frustration that’s been building over the years.

Andrew probably should’ve seen a counselor in the years before the events that play out in Chronicle, but that’s not the case. Even as his new friends try to intervene and help him to see the awesome guy that they see, it’s too late.

That’s why this story works extremely well for me. You have a kid who doesn’t go the typical route that teenagers endowed with abilities might go in the world of super heroic tales of do gooders.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit the dude gets a bit too super villain-esque at the end, but the build up to that, and even the final fight make up for this.

Chronicle is a great movie, featuring a believable take on teens gaining super abilities that shouldn’t be missed.

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 Jumper by Steven Gould (Novel)

First, let’s start with this: get that movie out of your head. The one featuring that guy who played the whiny Anakin Skywalker, and Samuel L. Jackson with yet another weird wig.

The movie was fun in spots, bad in others, but got too convoluted and grandiose in the story that it was trying to tell. Nice special effects, but kind of “blah” at the middle.

Jumper, the novel was much, much, much more in terms of a sci-fi story about a kid who discovers he has the ability to “jump”, or teleport. But David Rice, the stories protagonist, doesn’t do this for the sake of fighting crime, or saving lives (at first). For a large chunk of the book this kid is running from an abusive relationship.

David’s mother left him when he was a kid, fleeing the abuse that her husband was tossing out. Rather than eventually be continually hurt by him, or worse, she decides to leave the household, unfortunately leaving David to be the sole receiver of David’s ass-hat of a father’s abuse.

So when David discovers that he can teleport, he becomes the ultimate runaway kid. And you do nothing but root for him the whole time that he does this. Imagine being able to wondrously get away from a person who does nothing but berate you, hit you, psychologically just break you down to the point where you just want to die.

That’s where David is at in the book, and we see his growth into a stronger individual as the story plays out, the further away he gets away from his father.

Later on in the story David does use his abilities for good, but this is only after he suffers a personal tragedy of sorts. Throughout the book he’s constantly escaping the crappiness that life had heaped on him, and it makes for a compelling story.

Just as Jessica Jones focused on what someone with super abilities who had been psychologically and physically abused might deal with that, I think Jumper does the same in telling a science fiction based story of a runaway who is trying to simply escape a set of crappy circumstances.


 

That’s it for this round. I’ll add more in upcoming weeks to this list. Thanks for checking it out and happy viewing/ reading.

End of Year Check-In: Writers Edition

I like writing. I love writing. Writing kicks all kinds of butt.

Writing for me has always been a way to get these crazy ideas out on paper, to give them some type of life. Ideas of those who save the day, and those who seek to destroy said day. Characters who struggle internally with self doubt, and those who are so full to the brim with cock-assurredness that they drown on it.

Writing about anything and everything is what I like to do. It’s my trade, and I’ll continue to do it for as long as I can.

So in keeping with this, I’m going to do a rundown of some of the writing that’s come and gone in 2015, and what’s slated for the future. Sit back, relax, and read on!

                                                                               2015

 

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Route 3 #3

What began way back in 2013 has now been completed in 2015. 🙂

And I’m darn proud of it.

My wife has been extremely influential in keeping me going with this series (and everything else that I write), and for that (and many other reasons) I love this woman a lot. Living with a creative type is not the easiest thing to do, and I commend her for it. Love you T’.

Without the help of John, Tony, Mark, Tanya, Pete, Sean, Ann, Omi, Anthony, Vincent, Khari, and the whole Terminus Media crew, this book could never have come to fruition in the awesome way that it has. I can’t thank these folks enough.

As of this writing, the third issue seems to be doing fairly well in terms of the reception. Feedback has been pretty positive, as folks are either jumping onto this series for the first time, or have been down with the Route 3 cause from the beginning.

With the completion of this initial story arc, I’ve completed the first part of my goal with telling Sean Anderson’s story. Here’s hoping to have many opportunities in the future to build the story of this potential hero in the making.

RFA-Book-3-Final-small-1

Radio Free Amerika # 3

Once again, major props to creator/ writer/ artist Barron Robert Bell for giving me a chance to play in his sandbox known as Radio Free Amerika. 2015 saw the release of Radio Free Amerika # 3, and a limited print run of the Radio Free Amerika graphic novel, Radio Free Amerika: Season 1.

As in the case of the Route 3 series, the third issue wraps up the first story arc of Mose B and his crew as they struggle to fight the good fight. Reception to the book has been pretty kick butt, and word continues to spread about the series.

On the writing front, it’s been an awesome opportunity to help lay out a world spanning story of war, hip hop revolutionaries, and important current event topics.

Stealth: Vol. 1, The Life and Times of Allen White (Prologue)

stealthTo be asked to help tell the origin story of a hero that you admire is a once and a lifetime opportunity. So when William Satterwhite, creator of the webcomic Stealth, approached me about writing the origin story of Mr. Allen White, a.k.a Stealth in an original graphic novel, I jumped at the opportunity

Add to this the artistic awesomeness known as Jamar Logan, and we’ve got a winner on our hands.

In 2015 we released a 19 page prologue opening the larger story, and once again, the reception we’ve received has been awesome.

The book has  superhero fights, it has an emotional moonlit conversation in a graveyard, it has a little bit of everything. Heck I’ve even got a scene in the book that got my little brother sort of choked up.

 

 

Machina Obscurum

Machina Obscurum: A Collection of Small Shadows

Once again, I’ve got to say thanks. First to my Tessera Guild crew for accepting me into the fold, way back when, and secondly to Jeremy Neill for sending out an invite for me to contribute to Machina Obscurum: A Collection of Small Shadows.

As a kid I started off writing prose. These pursuits began with a time travel novel which will never see the light of day, and numerous short stories afterwards. I kept up with writing short stories in high school, submitting some of them to my literary magazine. Fast forward to college and afterwards, and the focus then became the journalism.

Fast forward a bit more and now I’m writing comics, while still doing the freelance journalism. Prose unfortunately took a back seat, but the desire to go back to what I’d started with stuck with me.

The CrossingSo then comes Mr. Neill with his offer to contribute to an awesome anthology, and I thought to myself “sit your butt down and write”.

Enter stage left The Crossing: Moonlit Skies. This is a short story set within the larger events of The Crossing, which is a comic book series Mr. McGuire and I are collaborating on. The short is filled with adventure, and a bit of action set on a world far, far away.

 

 

 

BSF

BlackSci-fi.com

During the back half of 2015 my output with BlackSci-Fi.com picked up in a big way. Maurice Waters is doing awesome work with his creation, and I’m just grateful to be able to hitch a ride on this awesome website.

The stories that I’ve written have run the gamut. I’ve been able to write about the personal experience of a cosplayer who was featured on a variant cover of the new Marvel Comics series Sam Wilson: Captain America. I also had an opportunity to review a gut wrenching yet timely anthology titled, APB: Artists Against Police Police Brutality.

So all in all I’m really looking forward to what 2016 will bring in the way of future opportunities.

 

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Tessera Guild

This year was a good one with my blogging pursuits, though it could’ve been extremely better. The goal has always been 2-3 Friday posts per month, and I need to start doing better with that.

The great thing about this website (aside from the awesome folks I write with here) is that I can write about any of my creative or nerdy interests. This year was no exception to this, and hopefully my output displayed the fun I find myself constantly having with writing for this website.

To top it all off, I just realized this was my first full year as a Tessera Guild contributer. 🙂

2016

 

 

DATC

Dark Universe II & The City II

My plan is to contribute to the second installments of each of these awesome anthologies, after being invited to play around in these universes.

ROUTE3VOL1

Route 3: Vol 1

Next year will bring the collected Vol 1 of issues 1-3 with a brand spanking new cover, bonus Route 3 content, with the ultimate goal of bring the book to a comic book store near you.

Rdio Free Amerika Season 1

RFA: Season 1

Terminus Media’s first collected trade paperback (extra content included) will be released in comic book stores in early 2016, and I’ll be grinning from ear to ear when I see this and Route 3: Vol. 1 on a comic book shelf.

paralleee

The Crossing

John McGuire and I are going to wrap this puppy up with a nice bow. Clean up the pitch. Knock out the first issue. Get it to a publisher.

In addition to this I’m brainstorming an original novella set within this world, which will flesh out the early days of Crossing, The Right Stuff style. I had so much fun with the short story, that want to keep things going with the prose in addition to comic book series.

Kaboom. Magic.

Stealth: Vol. 1, The Life and Times of Allen White (Graphic Novel) 

The hope is to have this entire project completed by the mid to late 2016. Jamar’s killing it on the upcoming book as shown below, and I’m focusing on adding to/ refining the current script.

STEALTHGRAPHICNOVEL1

 

peyah_with_mask2 (2)The Best (Title is definitely subject to change): So guys and gals, you’re getting an exclusive preview of artwork from a comic that I and the talented Takeia Marie are partnering on. Without giving up too much, the story features alien zombies, futuristic guns, kick butt space vehicles, and an intergalactic war.

Don’t worry, we’re not taking the Michael Bay approach and jettisoning a great story, and strong character development.

We’ve got that on lock.

With me on the scripting duties, Takeia on the art, with us both building the story of this world, we’re going to kick sooooo much butt with this.

Below (and above) is concept art done by Takeia of one of our stories main protagonists, Peyah, and some of the hardware that she’ll be using.

I’m having a ball writing this, and I hope it’s reflected in the final product.

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Terminus Team Up: Amber Fox  vs. Terra Force:  A cleaned up version of the first issue in this awesome series (with new colors/ cover/ logo) will be released for the first time digitally this year featuring my scripting duties, Sean Hill (Dark Shaman, Route 3) on pencils and inks, and Lauren Brown on the brand spanking new colors.

Did I mention the awesome new cover? 🙂

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BlackSci-fi.com: Still reporting on a host of topics for the website. Assisting with a major overhaul of the webpage, and there will be an announcement soon about my work with the website coming soon.

BSF

 


 

Well, that will wrap everything up for now. The list is definitely subject to change with additional projects, so I’ll keep everyone posted.

If you want to purchase any of the projects mentioned in the 2015 portion of the post, or even from my earlier work, head to http://robertkjeffrey.wix.com/robertkjeffrey. Thanks for the support, and spread the word.

2016’s here.

Behind The Scenes of The Crossing: Moonlit Skies

Machina Front Cover

 

On December 8th, I’ll have a story called The Crossing: Moonlit Skies published in the short story collection, Machina Obscurum- A Collection of Small Shadows.

Before we jump into this, let me give a little bit of background.

Rewind a few years ago: my fellow Terminus Media/ Tessera Guild teammate, John R. McGuire, and I joined forces and each brought a concept for a story to the table, to collab on together.

For a while I’ve played around with the idea of doing a comic book mini-series which dealt with cross dimensional hopping, high-adventure style. 🙂

So during an initial meeting at Appelebee’s (you’ve got to have great food to generate great ideas. I think Stephen King said that….. yeah we’ll go with that), I brought a concept called The Crossing, which delved into the aforementioned dimension hopping adventure concept. I’d fleshed out some characters, a story, and with the awesome writing/ plotting talents of my writing brother in arms Mr. McGuire, we came up with what I think will grow into an awesome comic book mini-series, heck, franchise.

PARALLELEARTHS

 

We’ve currently got a pitch that we’re prepping to get to publishers.

A kick ass artist in Sean Hill.

Two awesome writers.

A dimensions spanning story.

High adventure.

A diverse cast.

Magic. 🙂

But until we find a home for the series, I’ve had an itch to continue to play around in this universe that’s kept me up many nights.

Enter stage left The Crossing: Moonlit Skies. Sort of an “interlude” within the larger story being told in The Crossing, we get a snapshot of the crazy, and tense multiple dimension travels that series our protagonists find themselves caught up in.

QC

Ever since watching Greg Rucka expertly wind his world of Queen and Country between comics and prose, I’ve wanted to try my hand at doing the same. Having an opportunity to expand the larger story of a property across many mediums, with original stories, is a goal that I’ve wanted to accomplish, and The Crossing: Moonlit Skies is the end result.

 Many thanks to Jeremy for allowing me to add this story to the mix of Machina Obscurum: A Collection of Small Shadows.

Dec 8th. Mark your calenedars.

 It’s going to be bumpy ride. 🙂

Back To The Future II: A Fan Reminisces

For me personally, this week was a GLORIOUS WEEK to be a sci-fi fan.

We got a new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer.

I picked up my copy of The City: A Cyberfunk Anthology, a book that I’m loving.

I’ll have the first draft of my short story set in the world of The Crossing ready to be sent off for edits soon, which will be submitted for this awesome anthology.

And then there was 10-21-15.

Before we jump into why I feel this day held so much significance for fans of one particular movie franchise known across the world, lets hop back into the ‘ole Delorean.

It was 1989 and I was living in Chicago. My mother had taken my brother, myself, and a few cousins to the theater to see Back To The Future II. I was a huge fan of the first movie, having killed our VHS copy of Back To The Future upon subsequent viewings (an act that would also occur with our copies of Hook and New Jack City. Weird combination, I know).

Back-to-the-Future

To say the first movie blew my mind was a huge understatement. You’ve got time travel. You’ve got great comedy. You’ve got the weirdest, awesomest (not a word, I know) buddy adventure pairing of Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and past/present Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) that I don’t think has been matched since. There was a homicidal bully/ antagonist. Wrongs being righted. Timelines being changed. Crispin Glover in all of his manic weirdness. A skateboard chase sequence. Great acting. A solid story that just damn worked.

And one of the greatest ending’s to a movie ever.

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

And to think that there weren’t any immediate plans for a sequel, that the movie was just going to end on this huge cliffhanger, is mind boggling. As a kid, your brain just starts racing with the possibilities.

“No roads?” younger Robert said to himself as the credits rolled in the darkened living room.

“Means some serious ‘ish is about to go down.”

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The moment young Robert’s mind melted.

Ok, I wasn’t cursing at the age of 7, but you get the point.

So fast forward to 1989. Back To The Future II hits, and my 7 year old mind is just ready to be blown to bits.

And it was. 🙂

Once again you’ve got McFly and Doc Brown (who just work so darn well with each other). Cripsin Glover is gone, replaced by some dude in bad old person make up. The homicidal Tannen family are still around. Time travel. Doubles. Action. Adventure. More time travel.

B2F2

And here’s where it gets crazy.

You’ve got a wacked out version of the future. 10-21-15. There was a time when anytime maybe, 30 years plus ahead in the future was seen as possibly being this crazy foreign period where things would be extremely outlandish.

Back To The Future II wasn’t an exception. You had flying cars. Interactive 3D movie ads. Crazy fashion styles. Video phone calls (yeah, not too crazy now with things like Face Time and Skype). And hoverboards.

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As a kid seeing all of this, and with later viewings, it was a fun peek into what could be. Seeing Marty rolling around on his Mattel  branded hoverboard was awesome, and had all of us debating if some shadowy government program had created this technology in the real world.

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We were kids. Don’t be too harsh.

The flying cars were great. I wanted Marty’s self-lacing Nike’s and blow dry jacket then and there. Griff Tannen and his height growing abilities was crazy. Duck Hunt being seen as a golden oldie of the video game era was a fun nod to the Nintendo games we were then playing. And the Cubs had won the World Series.

As a kid, this is what I appreciated the most. The more visceral, fun nods to what the future could possibly bring.

The movie also ends with a teaser for the third installment that was being filmed shortly after the second movie was completed. As a kid, to have a guaranteed movie coming down the line was a fun surprise, as it confirmed we’d be seeing more of Marty and Doc’s cinematic escapades.

In this day and age where such end credit teasers are common place with big budget movies, Back To The Future II was the first time I’d experienced this. Marty and Doc in the Wild West?

Take my mother’s money, because she was going to be the one paying for that shindig.

Upon subsequent viewings, as I got older, other things started to stand out.

First and foremost, I think this would have been the first time I’d been introduced to the idea of alternate timelines. Sure there were things like Days of Future Past before, and any host of other sci-fi TV shows, and films that dealt with this idea, but this was the first time I’d experienced the concept firsthand.

hell-valley

When Doc Brown broke down how old Biff stealing the Grays Sports Almanac created Hell Valley (please see the movie for further explanation if you haven’t seen it) was just mind blowing as a kid, but appreciated for a cool storytelling tool as I got older. The idea that one man’s selfish pursuit of wealth destroyed the idyllic town of Hill Valley creates a dark tone for the flick , providing a counter balance to the whimsical adventure that we’d been experiencing before. And this alternate timeline confirmed for me that the Tannen’s are a group of murdering psychopaths.

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That face just screams psycho. Actually that face just screams all the time.

Another idea that continues to resonate with me is that as much as you might think you’re laying the foundations for a successful future, that’s not always going to be the case.

Case in point: where future Marty’s life winds up. He’s working a crappy job, his dreams of being a professional guitarist are out the window. His family life is kind of blah, and rather than try to rebuild what’s fallen around him, he continues to make bad decisions based on some crappy sense of bravado.

Now that I think about it, where did dude’s obessession with being called a chicken come from? That was totally out of left field.

Sorry, I digress.

Not saying that all of our lives have a tendency to turn bad or horrible, it was just interesting to see that the screenwriters sought to show that everything wasn’t so peachy keen in the McFly household. Remember, Doc’s whole reasoning to come back was to save Marty’s son from going to jail, which led to a downward spiral in regards to the McFly family. For a sci-fi adventure you could say such a concept being introduced was as Marty would say “Heavy”.

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The same could be said for the horrible direction that Biff takes with his greed filled run of murder and gambling. Biff chooses to be an opportunistic ass, who leaves nothing but pain and misery in his wake. And he accepts this, and revels in it, creating the hellish alternate timeline Marty and Doc head towards.

I know it’s a stretch to think that B2FII (as it’s known to all the cool kids) might have something to say on life decisions. But often we find that science-fiction can be used to speak to our personal experiences. Heck, I know as I get older, that as much as I may want to move things in a certain direction, that’s not always going to be the case, try as I might. But if I don’t at least try, then nothing will happen.

The thing to realize is even though the chips may not fall where you want them to, you still have opportunities to make those decisions. As long as you at least try. Roads less traveled and all that jazz.

I know I’m jumping movies a bit, but I feel the final scene from Back To The Future III sum’s this up perfectly:

bttf3

Jennifer Parker: Dr. Brown, I brought this note back from the future and – now it’s erased.

Doc: Of course it’s erased!

Jennifer Parker: But what does that mean?

Doc: It means your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one, both of you.

Marty McFly: [Marty wraps his arm around Jennifer] We will, Doc.

That scene always gets me on that ‘ole sappy emotion level.

So to round things out, I’ll go on the record and say this is my favorite movie trilogy of all time.

Watch this movie. Heck, watch the trilogy in a binge session and just enjoy some good cinema. Happy post October 21, 2015/ Back To The Future II day.

I almost ran off with this hoverboard. But that probably would've screwed up my future timeline.

I almost ran off with this hoverboard.
But that probably would’ve screwed up my future timeline.

 

Dragon Con/ Labor Day Weekend: Seen Through New Eyes

dragoncon

A couple of weeks ago I made my annual pilgrimage to Dragon Con. Heading to the Southeast’s foremost sci-fi/ fantasy/ cosplay/ comic book/ art expo/ geek party convention is a trip that I always require myself to take.

It’s a release of sorts for me as it allows my inner geek to chill and unwind. It’s like Christmas and Mardi Gras for nerds, and it’s fun as heck.

A place which has created a ton of fun memories including hanging with friends and now family, meeting celebrities, watching my friends run away from said celebrities (a story for another time), spending long hours in ticket lines discussing a host of nerdy topics, finding awesome deals with vendors, and getting my first shot in comics.

So to introduce this fun and crazy world to a newbie was a fulfilling experience, one I found myself enjoying a bit more than I’d expected.

My wife and I invited our nephew to spend the Labor Day weekend with us, which included taking him to his first convention, his first comic book store, and him handing my butt to me several times over in video games.

A quick rundown of the weekend:

Day One: After starting the morning with me getting my butt handed to me in the DC Comics fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us (the less said the better) my wife, nephew, and I headed down to the greatest convention on Earth.

Yeah, I said it. It’s fact.

Researched by scientists everywhere. 🙂

Most regular attendee’s to the event understand if you wait until the day of to buy tickets for the event, then you’re sort of S.O.L in terms of having to wait in a long line. No biggie, but it just requires you to be extremely patient.

But if you’re my nephew, possible frustration is trumped by excitement as a result of the unofficial parade of cosplay that’s on display. This kid was constantly picking out favorite characters from such animated offerings as RWBY and  Steven Universe. Taking pictures, pointing them out to my wife, and just having a great time in line.

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This excitement carried on into the day, as he continued to take pictures galore of the event, and had his mind blown when we hit up the vendors area where he bought a Steven Universe sword, and a set of customizable Lego’s.

He was so hyped that we wound up taking him home halfway through the day, as he was filled to the brim with geekery.

Day Two: After breakfast at Golden Corral (where you can find a breakfast of champions for folks like myself who love to chow down) my wife and I decided to take my nephew to the local comic book store in our area. Here was another first as he’d never been to a comic book store.

Are we an awesome aunt/ uncle pair, or what?

This kid’s mind once again was blown as he walked around the shop, taking in all of the superhero related merchandise adorning the store. When I showed him an Avatar: The Last Airbender trade paperback he was extremely excited, as this series and The Legend of Korra are personal favorites of his. The smile that stayed on his face when we bought the book for him will be an image that’ll stay in this ‘ole noggin for a while.

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I tried to keep that  smile in my head as he continued to kick my butt later on in Injustice. Seriously, no one should be that dang good when it comes to that game.

It’s not natural.

Injustice-Gods-Among-Us

Present: Fast forward to a family get together we had last weekend, and my wife calls me into the room to see something my nephew has.

He hands me a Manga that he’s drawing/writing, and as I flip through it I’m getting extremely proud of this kid. Not that I wasn’t before, but this just added like 10K more cool points for him in my book.

So to the organizers of Dragon Con, and our local comic book store: thanks. Looks like you might’ve inspired a future creator to take his first steps into creating comics.

And that’s never a bad thing.

Route 3: Sean’s Playlist

I like music. I like it a lot.

When I’m in my car I’ve got my Cake, Chance The Rapper, The Roots, Red Hot Chili Pepper, Kanye West, or Tito Puente Pandora stations on constant rotation. Music helps get me through the day, long writing sessions, and just Sean-3allows me to unwind.

So when writing Route 3 I’ve created a mix-tape of sorts that our protagonist, Sean Anderson, would have queued up on his MP3 player.

I’ll admit a lot of my tastes influence what Sean probably listen’s too, so hey, sue me. We both like good music.

Below is a small sampling of what Sean rocks out to when heading to school, or saving the day.

 

 

 

LOGIC

Logic – Under Pressure (Album): This guy has me constantly thanking Pandora for mixing him into my Chance The Rapper rotation. With a laid back flow, the Maryland born and bred Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, a.k.a Logic would be a constant fixture in Sean’s ears. Logic’s masterful rapping, including insightful lyrics speaking about his newfound success and struggles could form a great reflection to Sean’s own triumphs and trials.

Added to this, Sean would more than likely keep his head bobbing on his “road trip from hell” to the awesome beats/ production being laid down by legendary producer No ID.

KANYE

Kanye West- College Dropout/ Late Registration/ Graduation (Albums): Ok, ok hear me out. Mr. West has become a sort of polarizing figure for a lot of folks. To be honest with you, I don’t focus on anything with him outside of the music. I’m not big into celebrity news/ gossip, and when it comes to Mr. West, for me, all that matters is the music.

The Kanye that Sean would be rocking out to would be what I’ve deemed “The Backpack-Polo Trilogy” (College Dropout/ Late Registration/ Graduation). Not saying that I haven’t enjoyed any of his work that’s dropped after these three album’s, but for me, and Sean by extension, this is classic Kanye, and includes some of his greatest work.

This was the bashful braggart. The socially conscious/ fun rapper, who could belt slick lyrics laced with lines that would make you think and want to dance at the same time. The backpack carrying, polo shirt wearing, rapper/ producer. For Sean this would be a guy who would tap into the smart swagger that he himeself feels he embodies, but which has taken a hit due to death of his own mother.

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Dave Brubeck-Take Five (Single): Gonna cheat here a little, as this would be
a song that would be suggested to Sean. This would be a track that Charles has slipped into the car radio while he and Sean are fleeing across the country. Charles is a bit of a “old head”, as the young folks say, and his musical tastes represents that somewhat.

So he’s a bit of an aficionado of all forms of music. Ranging from classic hip hop, to bluegrass music, Charles likes a little bit of everything, and this includes jazz. After a few conversations where he’s been able to pick Sean’s brain a bit, Charles decides to pull up Dave Brubeck’s seminal work, “Take Five”. It’d be a track that would keep Sean cool, calm, and collected as hell continues to rain down around him, while also opening new doors of music for our young protragonist.

IZ-WonderfulWorld

Israel “Iz” Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole- Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World Medley (Single)- Even writing about this song gets me all misty eyed and what not.

I can get sappy sometimes.

This for me is the track that I picture Sean’s mother playing for him when he was younger. This was the song that Sean played every night on a portable CD player by his mother’s bedside at the hospital, as she battled cancer. This was their song. This track by the Hawaiian born and raised Israel “Iz” Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole is the type of song that just leaves you feeling good and happy with life.

The song has a melancholy feel, but at points uplifts you. In my opinion, it’s the best rendition of both Somewhere Over The Rainbow and What A Wonderful World that I’ve heard in a while. So, to just find a moment of peace in the tumultuous events that play out in Route 3, and reminisce on his mother, Sean would have this on repeat on his playlist.

———————————————————————-

Hope you enjoyed this trip down Sean’s musical lane.

One question for my fellow writers/ creators: what artists/songs do your characters listen to?

Checking In: Writers Edition

Taking a cue from my fellow Tessera Guild member, John McGuire, I’m going to list out my writing related to do list for current/ upcoming projects. These run the gamut from super heroic tales of daring, to action adventures spread across alternate dimensions and space.

Superheroes and sci-fi?

I know, I’m a big nerd.

Comics:

Promo R3#3 2

A scene from Route 3 # 3.

 

Route 3 #3/Vol. 1: After getting the final draft edited by the esteemed Mr. McGuire and my Editor in Chief @ Terminus Media, Tony Cade, the book is now 9 pages in at the pencils/ inks stage.

I’m kind of biased on this front, but Sean Hill is killing it on the art duties, and I’m looking forward to seeing Omi Remalante’s masterful colors applied once this is all done.

Promo R3#3 1

A scene from Route 3 # 3

Setting aside any further delays, I’m hoping for a late September, early October release for the book. The final plan will be to compile issues 1-3 into a trade paperback (Vol.1), and get them into comic book stores and book stores all across the country, and *gasp* maybe even the world.

This issue will round out the first story arc of Route 3, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to tell more stories of Sean Anderson’s journey in the future. Once the book and collected edition drop I’ll be in overdrive mode promoting, while also continuing to generate ideas for future tales.

The Best: A zombie outbreak set against the backdrop of an intergalactic war. That’s the most basic pitch for a 10 page short that I’ve written in collaboration with the esteemed Takeia Marie.

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Zombies. And even more zombies.

 

You know those artists that once you see their work you really want to have an opportunity to collab with them? Takeia’s one of those creators, and I think she’s the best person to bring this space based action-horror hybrid to life.

The story will focus on two soldiers and a seemingly impossible mission they’re tasked to take on. Here’s hoping that this will turn out to be a small drop in a wider pool of awesome storytelling opportunities, because I’d love to widen this world out a bit more.

I had a lot of fun with this one, and hopefully it shows.

Radio Free Amerika: Season 1:  So yeah, I got my first graphic novel/ trade paperback released. 😀

Cover for Radio Free Amerika: Season 1.

Cover for Radio Free Amerika: Season 1.

Still kind of on cloud 9 on that front. Not coming down anytime soon.

It’s too cool for school up here.

My co-writing duties on B. Robert Bell’s Radio Free Amerika have been collected in a really nicely bound book, collecting issues 1-3. I’m really proud of how the story, and just the book overall, came out. By year’s end/beginning of 2016 you should see the collected edition at your local comic book store, books stores, libraries, bodegas, outer space, other dimensions. Just everywhere.

Barron and I will continue to generate ideas/ start scripting for Season 2, while spreading the word about Season 1. The plan is to try and get the trade in as many hands as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Stealth: The Life and Times of Allen White: A while back, I was hired by the

A page from Stealth: The Life and Times of Allen White.

A page from Stealth: The Life and Times of Allen White.

talented William Satterwhite to bring the origin of his character, Allen White, a.k.a Stealth, to life in the pages of an original graphic novel.

William’s web comic, Stealth, is a fun action packed tale of super heroics that deserves

to be checked out. So, to say I was beyond ecstatic to help tell a new story featuring this character was an honor. Add to that, the book is being drawn by the talented Jamar Logan. I think we’ve got a bonafide hit on our hands.

A sort of “issue 0” is scheduled to be released later this summer, which will serve as a preview of sorts, giving fans a look into what the future holds for our creative effort. Continuing to put the final touches on this script.

 

 

 

 

 

-The Crossing: John McGuire. Robert Jeffrey II. Sean Damien Hill. Alternate dimensions. High paced action. A story of loss and betrayal. What’s not to love?

parallel_world_by_ayronstorkarynx-d48sl11

Inter-dimensional travel: the only way to travel.

 

Still working on applying final edits to the pitch for this sci-fi adventure that my fellow Tessera Guild/ Terminus Media writer in arms and I have come up with.

John: I’ll get the edits to ya by this weekend. I swear.

Next will be finding a publisher for the book. But once we find a home for it, you all are going to need to hang on to your seats. Like, “get some seat belts installed in home” type of action.

Also working on a prose novella set within this universe, so stay tuned.

Blogging/ Journalism

-Tesera Guild: My commitment is to up my postings to 2-3 Friday’s a month, so get prepped to see more of my random rants on this page.

Comics, sci-fi, life musings, you’re gonna get ‘it all.

BLACKSciFi_4WEB-BlackSci-Fi.com: I’m honored to write for this awesome website, and things are going to be picking up A LOT on this front over the next few months.

Within my capacity as contributing writer for the website I get a chance to speak about a well established and constantly growing arm of this awesome genre we call sci-fi. Whether it’s prose, comics, movies, video games, etc, I’ll have articles coming down the pipeline about the work that African Americans are contributing and have contributed to the science fiction arena.

And as always, you can visit me here for a rundown of past projects, maybe buy some books,  and get updates about anything else I have coming up.

If you just want to chat, that’s cool too.

 

A Writer’s Late Night Rant

Hi folks. Mind if I just ramble a bit?

::silence::

I’ll take that as a yes.

I’d planned on writing about a camping trip from hell that’d I’d experienced as a young lad. Gripping stuff. Hilarious now, though at the time not so much.

I’ll save that one for later.

I decided instead to talk about writing. Not a “laying out the tools/ tips of the trade” post, but more so about my personal experience with the craft. A little “ranty”, but not obnoxiously so.

To understand my love of writing, lets first start with an early obsession of mine: reading. Reading, and I’m not exaggerating, was my drug of choice. Books were, and still are, my narcotic, and libraries and book stores were my corner dealers.

Boy Reading Book in Classroom

I sucked up everything I could get my hands on. The Hardy Boys. The Righteous Revenge of Artemis Bonner. Nancy Drew. The Phantom Toll Booth. The House of Dies Drear. Choose Your Own Adventure books. Encyclopedia Brown. John Bellairs. Mark Twain. Stephen King. Octavia Butler. Christopher Golden. The list goes on and on.

If I added comics to this, we’d be here all day.

Let me give you an example of how deep this went with me: I had the route to my lunchroom  in elementary school so ingrained in my little noggin’, that I could walk the path to the cafeteria, nose deep in a book, without bumping into one of my fellow classmates.

I was that far gone.

In a good way though.

As I continued to read, and read, I found myself wanting to create my own stories. Take my own characters to these fantastical, adventure filled worlds, and just have fun. I knew I wanted to do it.

So I did it.

b2fThere was “Robert’s Time Machine” 1 & 2 (the less said, the better), then came the Double O Dwight series.  We even put on a skit at my school based on the adventures of Dwight and company.

Maybe I got a little playwriting in at an early age? That might be pushing it a bit.

Point being, I wrote a lot. This ran into short stories in middle school, joining my high school’s literary magazine, my college newspaper/ web magazine, freelancing on a regular basis once I got out of college, and now working as a comic book author.

Writing’s been a huge blessing for me, it’s something that I don’t ever see myself not doing.

It’s the thing (my marriage coming first) that I’m most proud of in life. Its something I do well. Its something that gives me a sense of sanity in a world where I’m assaulted by all sorts of B.S on a weekly, if not daily basis.

That’s life for you.

It’s something that, if you commit to it, deserves to be treated with the utmost respect, and love. And sometimes that doesn’t happen, just being truthful. I’ll admit there have been plenty of times where I’ve come home from a long day at the 9-5, and have just thought “no writing tonight. I just want to let my brain rest after dealing with the B.S of the daily burn”.

And believe me, there’s always gonna be B.S.Tired-employee

I will never say that this hasn’t happen, because it has, and it probably will again.

The best advice that I can give in this regard is to Just Do It, as difficult as it may be. Sometimes I’ll write a page, and that’ll be it for the night. And then I’ll write another the next, two more the next day, three more the next day, etc.

But what really gets me back in front of the computer is that same love and desire to tell stories that was sparked in the little kid reading at a library in Dolton, IL. It’s what drove me to break out of my shell and chase stories  for the Atlanta Voice Newspaper. It’s what got me to approach the fine folks of Terminus Media at Dragon Con.

I have so many damn stories that I want to tell. Some of ‘em might be great, some duds.

Some folks will love them, others won’t.

What I’m finding though is that at the end of the day, who can care less about what other people think? I’m still working on staying strong to that line of thinking.

But when such doubts crop up, what I tap into, as it was when I was younger, is that I’m doing this for myself. And to have fun.

Screw what anyone else thinks.

Ok, I wasn’t saying “screw” as a kid, but you get the point.

I wrote for myself.  I had fun. I just did it.

It’s time to write.

writer-laptop

 

Creative Interview with Filmmaker/ Screenwriter Gabrielle Aliké Hawkins

I’m going to be straight up with you guys and gals, I’m kind of biased on how much I respect the subject of today’s creator interview. She’s talented, driven, and she’s my lil’ cousin.

Who I’m unabashedly proud of. 😀

Gabrielle Aliké Hawkins has studied the craft of film making internationally in London, on our own shores in the great NYC, and has honed her craft working on such indie productions such as “Alto” and “Global Tides”.  In addition to being an accomplished photographer, Gabrielle is currently conducting an Indiegogo campaign for a sci-fi dystopian short film she’s written and will direct called “Criminals”.

The filmmaker recently took the time to speak with the Tessera Guild about her career, the campaign, and indie film.

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself, your background in film, and just being a creator overall?

I became drawn to the arts at a young age, focusing on dance. After suffering a severe dance injury, I decided to continue my passion for arts and focus on filmmaking. I have always been drawn to films and when I was about 12 years old, I used to write stories that I wanted to see on the big screen. At that time, I wanted someone else to direct them. Then, I realized I could direct the stories I wanted to see.

I have a B.A in Film Production from Brooklyn College and a Certificate of Completion from the Met Film School in London where I studied film producing. I started working as a Production Assistant on music videos and feature films. I recently worked as an Assistant Director on a wonderful feature film called “Alto” directed by Mikki Del Monico.

What drew you to filmmaking? What about the medium drives you to create film?

Filmmaking is such a beautiful and powerful medium. It influences our society. As a teenager, I didn’t realize how much film and media influenced me. How I saw myself on screen or if I didn’t. What I watched influenced how I interacted with people without me even knowing.

That is one of the reasons that I became a filmmaker because I would like to see more diversity on screen. Not just in terms of race but also telling unique stories. I feel that watching a great film is like watching a painting come to life.

Talk to our readers about your short film “Criminals”, and the Indiegogo campaign. What about the science fiction/ dystopian future arena appeals to you as a filmmaker/ screenwriter in terms of storytelling?

I have always been drawn to abandoned buildings and characters that are seen as outcasts from society. There is great beauty in darkness if you can see the light.

The film takes place in 2040. Our characters, Ian and Ariana, are the last surviving members of an underground movement called the E.G.O. A massive manhunt for their capture takes place, in response to their infiltration of the notorious officer program and stealing confidential government files. They escape into the woods fighting to reach their last hope for survival. Will they make it to Nuevo Acuerdo, a society untouched by the government?

 I have always been drawn to science fiction/dystopian future films and novels. Octavia E. Butler is one of my Criminals Movie Posterfavorite authors and her work has greatly influenced me. For this particular film, I wanted to write within this genre because in some ways I feel  as a society this is where we are moving towards, unless we experience a serious wake up call. Climate change, violence and so much more is something that shouldn’t be ignored by the masses.

We currently have an Indiegogo campaign running to raise money for this film. All of the money raised will go to the making of the film. There is a breakdown on the site, and the campaign ends on April 2. Check out the link for more info here.

Is science fiction a particular favorite in terms of film genre’s to create in, or does this include a variety of other genre’s?

Science fiction is one of my favorite genres to watch and write but I am also heavily influenced by other genres, such as film noir and even comedy. So depending on the story, I like to combine genres.

“Criminals” is definitely science fiction but with a film noir touch. I have a super random taste in movies so I think that helps a lot. My goal is to write a film in every genre.

Once I write a story and create the characters then I come up with the genre. I always have an idea of where I want it to go but usually the characters tell me what type of film it should be. For example, “Criminals” started off as a modern drama, but once I knew the characters and developed the story further, the genre had to change.

 A common saying nowadays is that the field of independent filmmaking has become more level, with the advent of new technologies, greater access to information etc. Do you feel that this is the case? Why or why not?

I think there are two ways to answer this question. I think in terms of making an independent film, you do have greater access thanks to digital filmmaking. There are also so many ways for people to watch films now. You can upload to websites, like youtube or vimeo and people can view your work. Also there are so many festivals, that accept many different genres and stories.

However, if you want to have your film in theaters, I think that is still pretty tough for indie filmmakers. Not that it’s not possible, because it definitely is, but it’s harder for an indie film to get wide release in theaters than a Hollywood film. 

Are there any filmmakers, or films that you feel have been an influence on you as a creator? What about those creators, or works speaks to you?

Tom Tykwer is an incredible filmmaker and his film “Run Lola Run”, is one of my favorites. The story is just so different and the moment I saw it I was in love with it.

 Gina Prince-Bythewood directed “Love and Basketball” and most recently “Beyond the Lights”. I love her work because you become so emotionally attached to the characters. I love how naturally she writes and directs human interaction.

 The television series “Breaking Bad” to me was just pure brilliance. The writing, the acting, the direction, just everything. I was blown away by this series and needed a support group when it ended.

 There are so many other films, television shows and filmmakers that I can go on and on about because there really are so many. I love the classics like “All About Eve”, “Alien” to comedies like “Friday”. I love films that make me think and sometimes I just need a good laugh. I am all over the place with the types of films and TV shows that I watch.

 All of these artists work speaks to me simply because it makes me feel something and makes me think outside of the box.

What can fans look for from you in the future, and where can they find your current work?

After this short I plan on working on a web series, and then work on a feature film that I wrote. This would be my first short that I directed so the current work I have has been on some great projects where I worked in other departments. I am also a photographer and my work can be viewed on my website.

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Gabrielle Aliké Hawkins​​​​​​ as Assistant Director on the feature film “Alto”

 

 

 

 

 

Creative Interview with Illustrator/ Creative Designer Takeia Marie

For me, Facebook has become a great resource for finding great artistic talent, and Takeia Marie is one of my most favorite find’s. Takeia’s credits include work done with Food Network’s “Chopped” champion, Josetth “Josie” Gordon, CJ Fly of Pro Era, The American Physical Society as an animation consultant, while also contributing work as an editorial writer for The Hip Hop Speakeasy. Hailing from New York City, this gifted artist recently took time to speak with the Tessera Guild about her career, her process of creation, and how her home city influences her work.

angel_banner_sizeTell us about yourself, where you’re from and any training you’ve had in the visual arts, comics medium.

I am an illustrator from New York. I went to school for animation, but found myself more drawn to illustration, developing concepts and storytelling (mostly in comic books). I started teaching myself more about those things and the business behind illustration. I’m still learning more everyday.

What is the first thing you remember drawing?

The first thing I remember drawing seriously was Sonic The Hedgehog when I was younger. I was a huge Sonic fan from the first time I played the first Sonic game on the Sega Genesis back in the day. I had all the comics and loved the stories.

Can you tell us a little about your process and your choice of medium?

I always say I’m a hybrid of digital and traditional media when it comes to how I draw. It really depends on what I’m drawing and how I feel at the moment. But for the most part, I’ll use Photoshop or Manga Studio to lay out my work. Could be anything from a rough sketch to something more refined.

At that point, if I want something to be illustrated on paper or a client wants something tangible, I’ll print my rough and lightbox over it. Otherwise, I’ll digitally draw and color everything. If I’m doing graphic design work, I’ll usually sketch out an idea on paper and then, using my sketch as a guide, create everything in Illustrator. At the end of the day, though, I don’t think any one tool, whether it be digital or traditional, is better than any other. It’s about the artist and how he or she chooses to use it.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your art? Are there any particular artists who inspired you to work in the comic book medium?

The first person who inspired me to draw comics was my cousin. He is an artist too, and is the person I credit with getting me into anime and the comic book medium. Before, I didn’t realize that it was possible to actually draw for a living. From there, I kept reading comic books, studying them, and getting how-to books to learn the depths of drawing comics.

As for themes – the thing is, I’m drawn to anything that has a good story and interesting characters. I get excited about drawing characters who are dynamic and stories with interesting and diverse worlds. For the most part, if  I can get excited about a story or the nature of the characters in it, it really doesn’t matter the genre or particular subject matter, so long as it sparks something that I can relate to.

You’re a native New Yorker. Do you find that your city informs your work in any way, or are there elements throughout your day that you find might creep its way into your work?

I find myself drawn to work that is very sketchy or gritty and energetic, as opposed to work that is super clean. I think that comes from the grittiness of New York, and the kinetic movement you’ll find in the graffiti that has just become a part of the iconic look of NYC. I enjoy drawing odd little things like buildings and streets or the cracks in a concrete sidewalk -anything that feels dirty or imperfect.  I’m also a huge Hip-Hop fan, and I find myself trying to integrate that raw, aggressive energy that you find in the music into some of my work. Growing up in New York has definitely had a big influence on me artistically.

What are you working on now? Where can we go to view/purchase your work?

I’ve actually been trying to branch out from just staying in the comic book/illustration world (even though I still enjoy doing those things very much). Right now I’m working with iSojah, a Hip-Hop artist out of Columbus, Ohio, on some of the design portions of his Klasik Media imprint, which will be a go-to place for up and coming hip-hop artists and musicians, fashion designers, and entertainers who need help getting started.

war_paint_low_resIn between client work, I’m also working on my own project, The Forgotten. Something totally unrelated to art – I’m a contributing editorial writer for The Hip-Hop Speakeasy, a Hip-Hop blog that is dedicated to covering independent and slept-on Hip-Hop artists and bringing their music to the forefront.

People can view my work here:

www.takeiamarie.com

www.atomiclattestudio.com

Twitter: @KiaPeya

 

 

 

Creative Interview With Novelist/ Comic Book Writer/ Bobby Nash

For today’s creator interview installment, we sit down with the prolific, and award winning author, Bobby Nash. The author of such works as Alexandra Holzer’s Ghost Gal: The Wild Hunt, Snow Falls, Evil Ways, Domino Lady: One Shot, and the recipient of the 2013 Pulp Ark Nominee for Best Novel, Earthstrike: Agenda, Nash show’s no signs of slowing down, with a host of other titles scheduled to be released in 2015.

 To begin with I just want to say this: you write like a mad man! And I mean that in a good way. Do you get that a lot? 

I have heard that a time or two, yes. [smiles]. When I decided that this was the path I wanted to travel, I set goals for myself and headed toward them. My stubbornness came in handy with helping me to keep going and I never looked back.

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Tell us about yourself. Where you’re from, what got you into writing professionally, and some of your training.

I was born and raised in Georgia, which is where I still live. I fell into writing, oddly enough, because of my desire to be a comic book artist. Turns out that my art skills leave a little something to be desired, but I was writing stories that I could draw. Somewhere along the way, other artists I knew started asking me to write for them so I decided that maybe I could be a writer/artist. Thankfully, a friend of mine pointed out that writing was my real strength and suggested that I focus on it instead of splitting my time between writing and art. He was absolutely right. Then one day I sold a comic book story to a publisher. It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since.

I don’t really have much in the way of formal training. I’m mostly self-taught, although I’ve picked up some hints, tips, and tricks along the way from others. I took some night classes at UGA focused on creative writing, which were quite useful. We would bring our writing in and read in front of the class. That instant feedback came in handy plus there was the happy side effect of helping me to get past being shy and awkward in front of a room full of people.

What’s the first thing that you remember writing?

WOW. That is a tough one. I wrote some truly horrendous comic book stories back in my elementary school days, but the less said about them the better. I started writing short stories in high school. I remember we used to be given a list of words each week to use in a sentence. I was bored one week so I actually wrote a story and used the words in it. The teacher thought it was neat and encouraged me to keep it up. I had fun doing it and even set up the challenge of ending stories on a cliffhanger that I would have to resolve the following week when we received our list of words. I learned a lot about writing doing that.

Is there a particular genre that you prefer to play around in, and why?

I do like to play in multiple genres, but I always find myself drawn back to crime thrillers, although they can have other descriptions added to them like pulpy crime thriller, action crime thriller, sci-fi crime thriller, you get the point. I grew up with PI’s on TV, books, and movies so I developed a love for the genre. I like solving crimes, at least in my writing. It’s not something I really attempt to do in real life.

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How does a typical writing session work for you? Do you have any “tools of the trade” that you use?

Typical is a relative term. I used to write full time so my day generally went, wake up, write for several hours, take a dinner break, watch TV, write, go to the gym, watch TV or read, bed, then repeat. Now that I’m back among the corporate working life, my writing time is pretty much limited to the weekends, which goes much the same as before. I spend a lot of time sitting in front of the laptop.

Not sure if I have any specific tools of the trade handy. I write on an old laptop using an outdated version of Word. Everything else is just in my head.

You’ve done a bit of screenwriting (the web series Star Trek: Farragut), and acting (Camp Massacre, The Following, Fat Chance). How have your experiences been working in this realm both behind and in front of the camera? Do you feel the practice of speaking in front of your writing critique groups prepared you for jumping into this arena?

Well, I’ve dabbled. I have a few screenplays under my belt, but three produced, two with my name on them and one that I did a script doctor job on that doesn’t bear my name. Each was unique in the way they were worked. Of those three, 2 have been produced and the third, a short film, is in production. It’s a lot like writing comic books in terms of how I set up the pages, focus on dialogue, and things like that. I will say though, that it is really cool to see actors delivering your words. I hope to do more screenwriting in the future.

I don’t think of myself as an actor. Most of what I’ve done on The Following, Satisfaction, Dumb and Dumber To, Halt and Catch Fire, Three Stooges, etc. is work as an extra. That involves a lot of walking back and forth most of SF COI BN banner3the time, but I’ve had some fun times doing it. Working with Kevin Bacon , almost knocking Matt Passmore down with my carry on bag, and standing next to Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey as they did a scene are definitely three of my highlights.

Working as an extra also gave me a chance to meet a real life FBI agent (while I was playing an FBI agent on The Following) and that led to a nice meeting where I got some really interesting insight into the FBI for my upcoming Evil Intent novel. That was a nice bonus.

Learning to read my work out loud absolutely played a role in helping me do this type of work. If you can’t look up and stare straight ahead on a set, you’re no good to the filmmakers. It’s hard to be shy on set.

Congratulations for receiving the 2013 Pulp Art Award for Best Author. Can you talk a little about winning the award?

GG FINAL CVR frontThanks. It was quite an honor. As you know, I’m not often at a loss for words, but when I read off the list of winners on the old All Pulp site, I actually scrolled past it before it sunk in what I had just read. I was literally speechless for several minutes as I tried to digest the news.

Winning an award is an odd thing. Even though you don’t write any differently than you did before winning, having an award adds a little extra something to your work for many readers so hopefully, it helped open up my work to a wider audience. The biggest change is having people refer to me as “award-winning author Bobby Nash,” which is pretty darn cool, but it did take some getting used to as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received from a fellow writer?

I don’t remember exactly who told me this, I want to say it was Beverly Connor, but I could be remembering it wrong. Regardless, the advice was that no one was going to care about my work more than me so I should not expect anyone else to promote it more than me. There is a lot of truth in that and it’s one of the reasons I taught myself how to market my books.

What can folks look forward from you in the near future?

Oh, 2015 looks to be a good and busy year. I don’t have dates for any of these yet, but here are some books to be on the look out for in 2015:

Prose: Snow Storm, Alexandra Holzer’s Ghost Gal: A Haunting We Will Go…, V-Wars vol. 5, The Ruby Files Vol. 2, Evil Intent, Blood Shot, Freelancer: The Traveler Sanction, an as yet untitled Nightscape novel, and a few others I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

Comics: the graphic novel adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ At The Earth’s Core (art by Jamie Chase), 000 ATEC CVR FRONT smDomino Lady Threesome (a new team-up series I’m co-writing with Nancy Holder with art by Marco Santiago and others), Operation Silver Moon (art by Rick Johnson), Strong Will (co-written with Mike Gordon with art by Wendell Cavalcanti and Rob Jones), All-Star Pulp Comics #3 (a Lance Star: Sky Ranger story with art by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin), and a few others in the works.

Yeah. Looks like a busy year ahead of me.

Readers can keep up with the progress and release dates for all of these projects and more at www.bobbynash.com

Thanks Bobby for taking the time to sit with us and talk about your career.

Thanks Robert.

Let’s All Go To The Movies!

Like many of the Tessera Guild members, I love movies. I love watching them, discussing them, buying them, collecting them, etc. Being able to chill and enjoy a great flick from the comfort of your home is always great. On the flip side, catching a great movie at a theater can also be fun.

Going to the movies has always been an “experience” for me. Whether it be a crappy slog of a film, or a great, bombastic summer time blockbuster, I enjoy catching flicks at my local multiplex. Maybe it’s the high priced popcorn. The trailer’s for upcoming movies. The expectation created when the theater lights dim. Or the collective sigh, laughter, or clapping from the crowd when a movie hits its mark.

More than likely it’s a combination of all of the above, with some other things added to the mix. Whatever it is, I love heading to the theater. So if you’ve got a moment or two, sit back and read on as I do quick run through of some of my most enjoyable experiences at the cinema.

::Cue lights dimming as the projector reel starts::

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Jurassic Park, June 11, 1993

Shortly after my brother and I moved to Georgia, the summer movie season was in full swing. Standing out from the pack like an alpha-movie blockbuster was Stephen Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel “Jurassic Park”.

Let me lay something out at this juncture: I was never a big dinosaur fan as a kid. Learned about them in school, thought they were awesome looking creatures, but never got caught up in the dinosaur obsession that apparently a lot of boy’s hit growing up.

So with this little nugget of personal history, my mind was still seriously blown when I began to see commercials for Jurassic Park.

Jurassic_Park_posterSpielberg had once again mined movie magic from the awesome depths of Crichton’s popular novel, and created a film that could possibly kick butt on a variety of levels. I distinctly remember going to a sold out show at the AMC Northlake Theater,in Tucker, GA.

As usual, Spielberg killed it. I remember the sense of wonder the first time I saw the Brachiosaurus grace the screen. Or the terror when the T-Rex destroyed  the roof of the SUV with Hammond’s grandchildren in it. And the joy of the numerous Jeff Goldblum-ism’s.

I primarily remember just having fun with my family, as everyone else around us jumped at the appropriate times, laughed during the light parts, and gripped their seats in nervous anticipation of what monster might appear around the next corner.

Thanks Mr. Spielberg.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phanton Menace, May 19, 1999

So we started with the good. Let’s move on to the opposite end of the spectrum.

I was in the home stretch of finishing high school, and it was a glorious time. I’d been accepted into college, I was working with my school’s literary magazine, and life was just friggin’ awesome.

And then there was The Phantom Menace.220px-Star_Wars_Phantom_Menace_poster

Not saying that this one movie destroyed my life, as many fanboys often declare. But it left a sour taste in my mouth when it came to the Star Wars franchise for a while. I’ve always been more of a Star Trek fan, but the sense of adventure and wonder that you get from watching the original trilogy is one that can’t be matched.

The Phantom Menace was billed as being the start of this generation’s Star Wars trilogy, as Episode’s 4-6 were for folks who’d been there at the series’ inception. Episode I was getting face time on MTV, Entertainment Tonight, a Weird Al Yankovic music video, and was just appearing all over the darn place. People were buying tickets in droves. It was insane.

And I’d never experienced anything like this. It was basically pop culture overload to the maxed out level.

So at the time I had a group of friends who were big Star Wars fans, and we decided to head over opening day to see it, right after school. We piled into someone’s car, swerved out of the high school parking lot like maniacs, and made it to the AMC at North Dekalb Mall with plenty of time to spare.

To say that being a part of something like this, on opening day, kind of shocked my nerd senses is putting it mildly. See, I’d always been sort of by myself when it came to such geeky pursuits. Sure I had friends who were into some of the same stuff that I grew up loving, mainly comics. But I found that before I hit middle school it was hard to find those guys and gals who were as hardcore about comics, sci-fi, cartoons, fantasy, videos games, etc. as I was.

fanslineupatSo when we hit the lobby of the theater, and I saw numerous folks dressed as young Obi-Wan, Darth Vader, or even Princess Amidala I thought to myself, “I’m home”. This was further solidified when we were let into the theater, and some of those same fans ran down the hall to get to our screening, as if compelled by the Force itself.

The geek expections were at a heightened pitch, as fans held mock light saber fights in front of the movie screen, and talked amongst themselves with excited voices.

Shortly after, the lights dimmed…….

That familiar word crawl began…….

And………

Well, you know the rest.

At least the light saber fights were awesome.

starwar1

The Matrix, March 31, 1999

It was spring of 1998. My cousin Tia was visiting from Chicago, and we’d decided to check out a movie. I’d been seeing a lot of commercials for an action movie with a lot of leather, slow motion, back flips, and the dude from Point Break. I thought it might be ok to check out, as I don’t remember anything else catching my eye. At least if it sucked, I could get a student discount on the ticket, and get a chance to hang with my cuzzo.

The movie was The Matrix.

Everyone in the theater had their collective mind’s blown. I mean, dammit, I’d never heard so much gasping, clapping, excited whisper’s, in a theater before that point. The experience I had watching that flick was a great one, and has only been topped by one other.

The_Matrix_PosterThis particular film has gone a long way in influencing my writing career, but also just kicked so much butt as a film going experience. I think that for most folks the movie was like nothing they’d ever seen before. Sure, Hong Kong martial arts filmmakers had been doing this style/ brand of fight choreography in the years preceeding The Matrix. And maybe a lot of folks saw the mash-up of the goth/ techno/ computer hacker culture hybrid and said “its been done before”.

But to get a movie of such stature, created by two nerdy brothers from Chicago who seemed to have filmmaking swagger for days, was a helluva beautiful thing to watch.

And to anyone who tells me that when they saw Neo fly away at the end of that flick, sort of saying “yeah, you just saw all of this mind bending awesomeness, but here’s a little something extra”, they didn’t collectively clap at the end of this flick, as it happened in my theater, y’all are lying.

And the biggest thing that stands out about this movie is that this came out pre-Internet, or at least pre- SPOILER era. I was genuinely surprised at what I saw, as I feel most folks in my theater were. And our movie going experience was all the better for it.

So those are some of my top movie going experiences. I’ve got a couple of others to add to the mix, but for now, I’ll leave you all with these to reminisce over, Please add your own movie going experiences to the comments below, and hope you enjoyed this.

Creative Interview With Comic Book Artist Sean D. Hill

Continuing in our creative interview series, next up to bat is comic book artist/ fine art illustrator Sean D. Hill. Sean is the talented artist behind the pencils/ inks of “Route 3”, ” “Jaycen Wise And The Secret of The Rose” and is the current penciller on Zenescope Entertainment’s critically acclaimed “Dark Shaman”. Let’s get things rolling!

Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and any training you’ve had in the visual arts, comics medium.

Well I’m from Washington DC, born and raised. As far as training goes my grandfather began showing me stuff from an early age. After that, when I was in 4th grade, I was introduced to an artist named Kofi Tyus.

Sean Hill's "Lineage"

Sean Hill’s “Lineage”

Kofi quickly become my mentor and I even got my first sketchbook from him. As I got older I went to an arts high school called the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where my major was Visual Arts or VA as they called it. I had great teachers like Bill Harris, Cathy Cann, Mel Davis to name a few. I always wanted to be a comic book artist ever since the Spike Lee Levi’s commercial featuring Rob Liefeld.

I pretty much stuck to fine art until I started dating my wife, and she was going for a Media Arts and Animation major. I learned everything I know about comic illustration and storytelling from her and the classes I would sit in with her.

What is the first thing you remember drawing?

The first thing I vaguely remember drawing was KITT and Michael Knight from “Knight Rider”. I was obsessed with that show as a kid. I would show the pictures to Grandpa and he would tell me what I had to work on and then I would get excited to redraw it again because I’d learned something new.

A page of Sean Hill's work from Zenescope Entertainment's "Dark Shaman"

A page of Sean Hill’s work from Zenescope Entertainment’s “Dark Shaman”

Can you tell us a little about your process and your choice of medium?

I work mostly digital nowadays. I use Manga Studio 5 for my software and I draw on a Yiynova MSP19U, which is a screen that I draw directly on, which is  similar to a Cintiq.

I still do stuff traditionally though when I get the itch. My favorite traditional tools are my Pentel Brush pen that I never leave home without , and I love my Zebra G Pen nibs. The best Bristol I have ever used is still the 500 series Stathmore Smooth 4ply. It’s great stuff.

A page of Sean Hill's work from Zenescope Entertainment's "Dark Shaman"

A page of Sean Hill’s work from Zenescope Entertainment’s “Dark Shaman”

Are there subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your art? Are there any particular artists who inspired you to work in the comic book medium?

The stories I seem drawn to the most are ones with a lot of character development and a lot of action. I love stories that take in the aspects of blockbuster films also.  The artists who inspire me are numerous, though ones I think mentioning are Mshindo Kuumba, Ivan Ries, Lewis La Rosa, Brian Hitch, and Jason Fabok. It’s a pretty long list.

What are you working on now? Where can we go to view/purchase your work?

Right now I am working on the final issue of Zenescope Entertainment’s “Dark Shaman” mini series. It’s a story steeped in a lot of Timaucuan Native American lore which I love. You can order the books from your local comic shop if they don’t have them on the shelves already, or through the digital comic book distributor, Comixology.

I am also very proud of the work I have done on “Route 3” for Terminus Media which is available for digital download on Amazon, and the Comics Plus app.

Sean Hill's "Lineage"

Sean Hill’s “Lineage”

 

You can view all my work at:

www.nazirstudios.blogspot.com

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

http://instagram.com/seandamienhill

Route 3: The Movie

Remember when Wizard Magazine would do their dream movie casting feature for comic book movies? It was one of the sections of the magazine that I honestly got hyped about, with the hope that these flicks might one day see the light of day.

Sure, these features were probably little more than staff writers having their chance to play a little bit of fantasy casting. But at the time, when casting news wasn’t available at the drop of a dime, this was a big thing for comic book fans like myself.

So following in the footsteps of Wizard Magazine, and my fellow Tessera blogger J. Edward Neill, I’ve decided to do my own fantasy movie casting for my creator owned project, “Route 3”.
Route 3 Logo

 

These are the actors and actresses that immediately jump to mind when I think of the “dramatis persone” of the epic tale of Sean Anderson and company. As the story expands in future issues, I’ll come back and add more actors and actresses.

But for now, think of this as my big Comic Con announcement for the casting of next summer’s blockbuster, “Route 3”.

 

Sean 3

Sean Anderson: For our main protagonist, it’d be a toss up between Donald Glover (“Community”) and  Tyler James Williams (“Everybody Hates Chris”)  I know Sean’s age would have to be adjusted for the sake of the flick in Glover’s case (maybe make him a senior in high school), but heck, if Toby McGuire can play a high school student in his early 30’s, why not Glover? Childish-Gambino

 

Williams would also make a great Sean Anderson, as we’ve already seen him play a down on his luck teen in Chris Rock’s “Everybody Hates Chris”. Add to this, such roles in “Dear White People” and an upcoming stint in “The Walking Dead” I think Williams could put on an awesome performance.

Tyler+James+Williams+bLQBrZrrfnLm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sean 2

 

316 2316: If Marvel or Star Wars won’t have him, “Serenity’s” scene stealing actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, can join the Route 3 ranks as Sean’s main nemesis.

 

 

CE1I loved this guy in “Serenity”, and “Inside Man”, and would love to see him do his thing in this epic flick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Nathenson: Adding to the list of Sean’s list of antagonists, comes the puppet master himself, Richard Richard Nathenson 2Nathenson. He would be played by Neal McDonough. McDonough is a guy that you’ve seen in just about everything including “Terrier’s”, “Captain America: The First Avenger”, “Walking Tall”, and “Minority Report”.

 

Neil M

 

 

 

 

He can bring definitely bring it when playing the Washington D.C. power broker, who makes Sean’s life a living hell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charles Punching

Charles Reily: No one, and I mean nooooo one would fit this role better than Mr. Liam Neeson (I almost pulled a Key & Peele and called him Neesons). Neeson would be able to bring the kick-assery of “Taken”, with the TAKEN 2dramatic gravitas of “Schindler’s List” to the mysterious, and lethal figure at the heart of Sean’s tale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samie 1

Samie: Sean’s potential love interest would be played by the talented KeKe Palmer. With such credits as “Akeelah and The Bee”, and “Grey’s Anatomy” she’d be a perfect fit for the Route 3 universe. Just imagine this scene between Palmer and Williams. Box office gold.

 

 

KeKe Palme

 

Khenan & Salma: Rounding out 316’s covert ops force would be Malcolm Jamal-Warner and Michelle Rodgriguez. Sure, most folks remember Malcolm Jamal-Warner from “The Cosby Show”, as Theo Huxtable. But K S 1he had a great leading role in the post-apocalyptic television series “Jeremiah”, and other roles in “ Community”, “Sons of Anarchy”, and even “Dexter”.

Michelle Rodriguez personifies bad-assness in everything she does. “Resident Evil”.  “Girlfight”. “SWAT”. “Avatar”. “The Fast and The Furious” series. You’d be hard pressed to find a more epic action movie actress than Ms. Rodriguez.

 

MJW

 

MR2

Khenan and Salma 1

 

 

Larry Anderson:  Idris Elba. “Pacific Rim”. “The Wire”. “Luther.” “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom”. “Thor.” Lenny 2Dude is a talented, talented, ta-len-ted actor, and he’d be able to bring a set of supreme acting chops to “Route 3”, playing Sean’s father.

 

 

Idris

 

 

Shane 1

Shane Watkins: The head of the Watkins drug cartel, Shane would be played by who I think would be a wild card to most: Dule’ Hill (“Psych”, “The West Wing”).

Hill was a hilarious straight man on “Psych”, but it was on “The West Wing” as Charlie Young where his dramatic acting skills shone. I think he’d be able to pull off the business minded, ruthless antagonist who gets caught in the wake of the epic “Route 3” story.

 

DE2

So Hollywood, look how easy I just made your job. I’ve done the casting, and have given you a template for a script.

Just need you to cut a check so we can make some magic.

P.S If you want to read the book before seeing the potential movie, head here to pick up the current three issues of Route 3.

Sean 1

Duane Jones: A Horror Film Pioneer

“Now get the hell down in the cellar! You can be the boss down there, but I’m boss up here!”-Duane Jones as Ben/“Night of the Living Dead”

Growing up in Chicago, we had one of those late night B-movie programs, where some obscure horror flick would get shown every once in a while. This is where my love of zombie flicks beganwith George Romero’s “Night of The Living Dead.”

NOLD1

This film was my introduction to one of the greatest horror films of all time, and a film that gave birth to a sub-genre that has influenced the creation of numerous films, television series, novels, comics, video games, and even music videos.

At the age of 28, Romero and writing partner John A. Russo crafted a solid script that followed a group of individuals who find themselves trapped in a remote farmhouse, as the dead rise around them.

The film featured some of the most suspenseful filmmaking of its time. It was a forerunner for the use of gore effects in horror films, and featured an omnipresent sense of despair that left viewers tense throughout the film. In light of all this, what sealed the deal for me with this film was one character: Ben.

BenPlayed by Duane Jones, Ben was the take charge survivor, who used his wits and resolve to get through the hellish night. One thing that was awesome about this guy, outside of being such a resourceful and intelligent badass, was the fact that he was Black.

We often find African American characters being the first to die in such films. It’s even become something of a joke. If they weren’t inspecting a dark corner where the killer obviously was, the character was often relegated to being the comic relief or sidekick. This got old pretty quick.

Imagine how it felt to finally see a strong Black male lead taking hold of the catastrophic situation, attempting to keep things from getting worse. Add to this, and I know it’s been pointed out numerous times before, that it’s amazing that a film like this was made during the late 1960s. This was during a time where the idea of a competent African American character as a leader was anathema to a large swath of America.

In the film’s script, Ben was described as a blue collar truck driver, where his race was not specified. The character wasn’t fully fleshed out until Duane Jones was cast in the film, causing Romero and Russo to perform rewrites for his character. Romero explained he simply cast the best actor for the role, highlighting the amount of acting skill that Jones brought to the role of Ben.

As Jones explains in an interview featured on Dimension Films 40th Anniversary release of “Night of The Living Dead,” “Ben didn’t really have a biography. Ben was just passing through.”

As Jones further explains in another interview, “It never occurred to me that I was hired because I was Black. But it did occur to me that because I was Black it would give a different historic element to the film.”

Ben never falters in his resolve to survive the night, even coming to verbal and physical blows with the other NOLD3survivors. Now I know in today’s world we have a wide variety of African American leaders in a host of industries, but once again, you have to place this in the context of the time in which the film was made.

Others might even argue why even focus on something like this? What’s the big deal when we’ve got countless examples of African Americans making it to the finish line of many of today’s slasher/horror films?

Whether it’s Naomie Harris in “28 Days Later” or Ving Rhames in the 2004 remake of Romero’s “Dawn of The Dead,” there are a number of individuals making it to the end of the major studio films. This doesn’t even include numerous examples that may abound in independent films.

I’ve just taken the time to just show some appreciation for the guy who set the standard (whether he meant to or not), for those who’ve come since.

If you’re looking for a great horror flick, with a standout performance courtesy of the film’s star actor, definitely check out “Night of the Living Dead.”

 

Ben 3

Sliding Back Down Memory Lane

Way back when, in 1995, I did what all the cool kid’s did on Friday nights.

I ran the streets, hung out at the local movie theater, chopped it up until the wee hours of the night at Waffle House, and eventually crept into the house shortly before the roosters did their morning call.

Ok, now that we’ve got the obvious lying out of the way, let’s talk about what my Friday nights were really composed of.

Homicide: Life on The Streets, and Sliders.

Sliders Logo

Homicide: Life on The Streets deserves its own multi-part epic post, as being a trend setter for cop dramas which have come since.

And no, I don’t mean that flashy, pop song laden drivel known as CSI.

I’m looking at you Caruso. Take those goofy sun-glasses off, and stop with the tasteless murder scene quips.

Nope, this post will be dedicated to reminiscing about one of my all-time favorite sci-fi television series’, Sliders.

Let’s travel back to a far off time, when sci-fi/ fantasy/ genre network television shows, were kicking butt, and  fairy tale creatures, vampires, or werewolves were nowhere to be found.

In the wake of X-Files, it seemed to a young kid growing up in Decatur, GA that network television was something of the shiznit when it came to providing a platform for fun, dark, and in some cases cheesy sci-fi/fantasy.

The Fab Four: Sliders Edition

The Fab Four: Sliders Edition

X-FILES. Millennium. Space: Above & Beyond. The Lone Gunmen. M.A.N.T.I.S. The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr. SeaQuest DSV. Hercules. Xena. Star Trek: DS9. Star Trek: The Next Generation. These were a few shows that rounded out my weekly immersion into the awesome depths of genre storytelling.

But for me Sliders, stood out a bit from the pack.

(Separate nerdy note: both Sliders and DS9 were my two favorite sci-fi shows of the 90’s, but today’s Sliders time to shine.

DS9, I got you, homey. Best believe it.)

01-001

Dude, where’s my dimension?

The show told the story of Quinn Mallory (Jerry O’Connell), a San Francisco based grad school physics major, who in his attempt to create an anti-gravity machine, stumbles upon something even more amazing.

Quinn unlocks an ability to travel to different worlds, or alternate dimensions. Parallel Earth’s.

See why a geek like me might get excited by this? Or even why the writer in me loved this series?

Imagine a mirror universe of our own, where due to a small change in the course of that world’s history, technological advancements, etc., these parallel Earths might have taken drastically different routes than our own.

The possibilities are endless in terms of storytelling, and viewing potential.

Without giving too much away about the pilot (which I think still holds up even today), Quinn is joined in his MultipleEarths-300x200adventures to different worlds by his friend Wade Wells (Sabrina Lloyd), his mentor and teacher, Professor Maximilian Arturo (John Rhys-Davies), and the once famous R & B singer, Rembrandt “Cryin’ Man” Brown (Cleavant Derricks) who is accidentally caught up in the wake of Quinn and company on their first “Slide”.

When Quinn attempts to test his “Sliding” machine for the first time, he and his partners wind up whisked up in a 5 season dimension hopping jaunt. Unfortunately, due to a malfunction of the Sliding device (the timer) during the Slide, the group is caught up in a possibly never ending trip to get back home.

Sliders-Ice-World

Ice, ice baby. Too cold, too cold. Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.

Starting with this solid premise, the original “Fab Four” traveled to such places where the Soviet’s won the Cold War, women were the ruling sex, the British Empire triumphed in the Revolutionary War, American’s were migrant workers who were traveling to Mexico for work, global warming had run it’s calamitous course, and so forth, and so forth. These awesome “what if’s” were what had me coming back episode after episode every Friday.

That, and the growing camaraderie between Quinn, Wade, the Professor, and Rembrandt. Though thrown together by forces beyond their control, these actors seemed like a far flung Swiss Family Robinson of the cosmos. Every actor brought their A-game to this series (even in the face of sometimes questionable writing). This made it all the more nerve racking to wonder if they’d ever get home, as I found myself caring about these folks with every subsequent episode.

A never ending quest to get home.....

A never ending quest to get home…..

Added to both these factors was a fun and healthy sense of comedy, edge of your seat heroics, and adventure which all coalesce into why this series was at times awesome.

Now to say that the show sometimes, or in later seasons didn’t keep the same quality storytelling as in the first two seasons, would be a lie. At one point it seemed as if the screenwriters were just pulling from whatever popular movie was at the local Cineplex. Don’t get me started on “Twister” world, “Jurassic Park” world, “Species” world, or even “Zombie” world (actually, that was an awesome, though silly concept for an episode, but I’m kind of biased, being a zombie nerd).

And there were often times where the possibility of meeting your evil doppelganger happened way too many times. I understand that on a parallel Earth, there might be a douche-y version of yourself, who hates everything. But when you use that trope one too many times, it gets a little tired.

There were other episodes or storylines where I was left scratching my head, in certain instances as “Mad Max/ No More H20” world, “Magic” world, or even the storyline that would dominate seasons 3-5, the rise of the Kromagg empire.

The Kromagg’s were in simplest terms, evil, humanoid primate Sliders who were hell bent on the domination of all parallel Earths.

I'm going to pouty face you to death.

I’m going to pouty face you to death.

Yup.

So, don’t get me wrong, as with any show, this one had its minuses, in addition to the numerous plusses to be found. Some sources chalk it up to corporate interference by the FOX bigwigs. Others say it was the behind the scenes favoritism/ in fighting amongst the cast and some of the producers of the show that caused a dip in quality.

Definitely do the homework, and you’ll find some doozies in terms of the behind the scenes drama of the show.

But ultimately, as a kid of the late 90’s who wasn’t inundated with all of this extra info, and plopped himself down in front of the TV to watch the latest escapades of the Sliders, the show was a godsend. Cheesy or formulaic though it might have been at times, there were a host of episodes which kept me entertained, enthralled, and just overall enjoying some good sci-fi.

sliders2I simply enjoyed the idea of a group of travelers jumping from one different dimension, to another dimension, week after week, with the simple goal of getting home always in tow. Add to that, you’ve got some fun action/ adventure elements added to the mix, and the 13 year old Robert was satiated.

So if you’re looking for a fun sci-fi show to binge watch, check out Sliders on Netflix, Hulu.com, and other streaming providers.

Enjoy the Slide.

CO-OP Gaming: The Best Way To Game, Part Deux

So wow, that week turned into a month…..

🙂

And what an eventful month it’s been.

But back to my top two co-op vidya’ games.

3. Halo: Combat Evolved/ XBOX/ Release Date: November 15th, 2001

I’m going to spoil something for you: my last two spots are going to be FPS’s.

Sorry to all the FPS naysayers. I’m by no means a hardcore Call of Duty, or Battlefield aficionado.

So you can breathe a collective sigh of relief that this list isn’t going to head in either of those directions.

Storming the digital beaches of Normandy, or running through the streets of a war torn urban metropolis just doesn’t do it for me.  Never had much fun playing those types of games.

But give me a horde of religious fanatic aliens, and oh yeah, fun times all around.

Not saying that the Space Marine trope hasn’t been done to death, but that’s another discussion for another day.

Halo: Combat Evolved

 

Let me take you back. Back to a somewhat simpler time. The year was 2001. I’d just started college, and my weekends were sometimes spent hanging with my best pal, Phillip.

Phillip was (and I think still is) a straight up, hardcore gamer. Not just a dude who loved playing games hour, upon hour’s on end. This was a guy who truly appreciated video games. He loved gaming. All aspects of the art form.

Some of my most fun times talking video games, and just playing them were spent with the ‘ole Phil-meister.

Dude if you read this: HIT ME UP!!!!!

But I digress. Phillip had gotten the new fangled XBOX, and this little game,  that was soon to become a decade spanning monster of a franchise, Halo: Combat Evolved.

So, in my little world, the FPS genre only included the classic N64 Golden Eye 007 and Wolfenstein.

 

Hang Time (And I'm Not Talking About the mid- 90's Teen Comedy)

Hang Time (And I’m Not Talking About the mid- 90’s Teen Comedy)

My mind was blown open to high h^%* with the galaxy spanning adventure of Master Chief and company.

This was the first time that I saw the XBOX pushed to its impressive limits. Of course we now live in an age where PS4 and XBOX One would blow such a system out of the water, but for its time the XBOX was the shiznit.

With the aide of Phillip, I found myself running across impressive snow draped alien  vistas, battling hulking behemoth’s known as Hunters in frantic close quarter combat, and driving like a bat out of hell on a Warthog as the world went to crap around us.

As with most of the titles on this list, late nights were constantly spent trying to beat this game, and fun times were always had. Even now there are parts from this game that I can still remember, and for a guy whose played a lot of video games in his 32 years on this world, that’s saying a lot.

14 ammo rounds until certain death......

14 ammo rounds until certain death……

But what sticks with me the most is teaming up, and kicking some alien butt, via split screen shenanigan’s. Sure, we’d flip the Warthog over a cliff, or accidentally lob a grenade or two at each other mistakenly.

But after laughing our butts off, and respawning, Phillip and I were ready to push back the tides of the Covenant and the Flood.

Fun times indeed.

Honorable Mentions: Halo: Reach, Halo: ODST, Halo: 2-4

 

 

1. Left 4 Dead/ Left 4 Dead 2/ XBOX/ L4D: October 17, 2008, L4D2: November 17, 2009

Gotta get this out of the way first: I love zombies.

World War Z, the novel, is a must read. The original Night of The Living Dead is a classic piece of barrier breaking genre film making. When people talk about the Holy Trilogy of films, I lean more towards the Romero side of flicks, rather than the Lucas camp.

The Walking Dead (comic series). Return of The Living Dead. Ash. Dead Alive. House of The Dead (as crappy as the flick was). 28 Days Later (and I know they’re not “traditional zombies”, but that movie is a great addition to the zombie movie genre). Capcom’s “Resident Evil”.

And the Left 4 Dead series.

Numero Uno

Numero Uno

 

Numero Dos

Numero Dos

 

I can wax on all day and night about how much I love these two games. About how they rank up there with some of the greatest video games I’ve ever played.

My ride.....

My ride…..

But I know I’ve only got so much space on this blog, so I’ll try to keep it succinct.

Basic premise of the L4D franchise: you’re grouped with three other survivors of a zombie outbreak, and are placed in various scenarios where you have to fight your way through endless hordes of zombies, and other infected creatures.

The game is a FPS which, at least for me, only intensifies the feeling of dread and anxiety which permeates both these games. There will always be countless instances where a swarm of zombies will run at you at top speed (sorry for all you Boyle zombie haters, these ain’t the shuffling ghouls), unless you can dispatch them in enough time with dwindling ammo.

The environments in this game also set a creepy mood, ranging from an nighttime abandoned hospital, to the sunlit French Quarter avenues of New Orleans fame.

Teamwork is essential to this game. Teamwork. Teamwork. Teamwork.

.....or die crew.

…..or die crew.

Now, of course you can just blow your way through each level, with no strategy, just picking off zombies, Tanks, Hunters, Smokers, and Witches.

::Shivers:: Don’t even get me started on the Witches.

But in my opinion, to truly appreciate this game, it should be played with three other folks, with some sort of a plan in mind. Definitely, don’t become one of those ultra tight butt folks who treat the game as if it’s a real life or death mission.

 

Run.

Run.

Have fun with it, but just try to have something of a plan.

Case in point: on the last level of the aforementioned hospital stage, your final fight for survival takes place on the roof of the building. You head here to await rescue from a helicopter, but in the interim, you have to fight the living dead. Final showdown and whatnot.

 

Before the zombies began attacking us, we wound up stocking up on ammo, setting up gas cans as booby traps, and placing ourselves in such a fashion that we could deal out the most damage to the monsters.

Fun times. 🙂

The calvary's on its way.....

The calvary’s on its way…..

Overall this is a must have for any fan of zombies. Even if you don’t play video games, this is the game that should force you to learn how to play.

Imagine having an opportunity to recreate some of your most favorite tense filled, survival moments from any of the Romero flicks, and you have the Left 4 Dead franchise.

There were times in this game where I literally jumped in my seat, while either playing online, or playing on a LAN gaming session with three other friends.

Rumors abound about a third game being worked on by Valve. Here’s hoping it kicks as much butt as the first two installments.

Both games (along with a crapton of DLC/ downloadable content) can be found pretty much in any brick and mortar gaming store, and on Steam.

Honorable Mentions: Game of The Year Editions/ L4D & L4D2

So that’s it for me. If ya can, please drop a line or two in the comments section about your own favorite co-op games. And if you’re ever on XBOX Live and want to run some rounds, hit me up.

 

CO-OP Gaming: The Best Way To Game

First, let’s get the business out of the way.

If you want to read some quality comic books head here and here.

I’m kind of biased, but I think they’re the bee’s knees. 🙂

So, I’m here tonight (or this morning, considering what side of the world you’re on) to talk video games with ya.

Specifically co-op games.

A lot of people love playing sports games, role playing games, third person action-adventure games, first person shooters (FPS), and the lists go on and on. A little mustached plumber and his brother have pretty much cornered the market in most of the above categories, though I haven’t seen Mario busting a cap FPS style in a goomba’s butt.

That’d be awesome to watch.

Mario brings sunshine. And pain.

Mario brings sunshine.
And pain.

I’m getting sidetracked.

Co-op games.

Jason Rybka of About.com defines co-operative games as “a game in which two or more players team up to achieve a specific goal, playing side by side, either via LAN, split-screen, or via the Internet. More specifically, co-op is a multiplayer game play type. The literal translation is co-operative. Co-op games are widely popular and are increasingly becoming an included game play option in many games.”

Robert Jeffrey’s definition of co-operative games: games which allow you and a group of friends to collectively kick the butt’s of hordes of zombies/ super villains/ stereotypical y cheesy 80’s-90’s street toughs, while having a fun time.

The idea of teaming up in person with a group of friends, random strangers at an arcade (ahhhh, those were the days), or via online gaming, is a fun one for me. I understand the single player experience. I get it. Heck, I even love the competitive aspect of an FPS or fighting game. I’ve spent countless hours getting my butt handed to me in epic Halo death matches, and Marvel vs. Capcom bouts.

But to me, planning, and strategizing with a group of guys and gals to complete a game can lead to some extraordinary gaming experiences.

Special Co-Op Handshake. All the cool kids do it.

Special Co-Op Handshake. All the cool kids do it.

I don’t consider myself an expert gamer at all, just a guy who likes to have a good time with a wireless controller.

Wow, that didn’t sound right at all.

Um… well as I think of a way to clean up that creepy statement, read ahead and check out the first two entries on my list of my four favorite co-op games/ gaming experiences.

4. Streets of Rage 2/ Sega Genesis/ Release Date: December 20, 1992

The cover of this game says it all.

The cover of this game says it all.

After my brother and I got our NES system, the next game console that we received a few years later was the Sega Genesis. The mighty, mighty, SEGA! Note: you’ve got to yell SEGA like that guy from the commercials.

The system of Sonic. Altered Beast. Toe Jam and Earl. Sewer Shark (actually that was the Sega CD).

And Streets of Rage 2.

Oh hellz yeah.

Streets of Rage 2 was the shiznit. Sure there had been Double Dragon before, and other such brawlers. But for me the Streets of Rage series was something special. Was it the stylish R&B, electronica/techno laced soundtrack (that I can still nod my head to even now)? Was it the aforementioned stereotypical multi-ethnic street gangs with dumb names? Or was it the fact that each game in the series had a plot which sounded like a bad Steven Seagal movie?

It might’ve been all of the above. Who knows?  But what stood out to me (and I’m sure my brother can agree with this) was the awesome butt whooping’s that you could lay down.

First off, every fighter in this sequel (Axel Stone, Blaze Fielding, Eddie “Skate” Hunter, and Max Thunder”) KICKS-MAJOR-ASS. And has an awesome name.

Choose wisely......

Choose wisely……

Whether it’s Axel knuckling up on some punks, Blaze kicking butt oh-so gracefully with skull crushing kicks, or Max Thunder using his hulking frame to tear through the baddies, you got to button mash to your hearts content.

And don’t think I’ve forgotten about Skate. My homey Skate.

Skate sizing up the competition.

Skate sizing up the competition.

This dude was fighting on roller blades.

ROLLER BLADES.

Skate doing what he does best: knocking dudes out.

Skate doing what he does best: knocking dudes out.

I know I turned into an 11 year old with that statement, but hear me out.

This was a kid, a black kid who was kicking butt to save his kidnapped brother. And in an industry where a lot of heroic characters of color weren’t in great abundance, this was awesome for my brother and me to see.

Skate could pull off awesome moves like jumping onto the back of a thug, and commence to dropping blow’s like small anvils on their heads. He had this fantastic special move where he’d flail his arms like a madman, while hurtling towards the bad guys on his roller blades.

Blaze was always my personal favorite in the series, but Skate came a close second.

I'll admit, she was my video game crush. Don't judge me.

I’ll admit, she was my video game crush. Don’t judge me.

So we would spend countless hours beating up various baddies in the hopes of defeating Mr.  X, and saving the day. Whether it was avoiding motorcycle riding grenade tossing Mad Max rejects, or fighting evil kick boxers, my brother and I enjoyed fun times with cracking skulls and taking names.

So definitely, if you’re in the mood to team up with another friend, to just knuckle up and beat some bad guy butts, you can find the title on XBOX Live Arcade, and Steam.

Go with the dynamic duo of Blaze and Skate and you won’t be disappointed.

Honorable Mentions: Street Team: The Video Game, Battle Toads, Double Dragon, Golden Axe, Castle Crashers, XMEN Arcade, TMNT Arcade

3. Marvel Ultimate Alliance/ Xbox 360/ Release Date: October 24, 2006

Remember as a kid when you use to team up with your neighborhood friends, choose a superhero, and kick all sorts of imaginary bad guy butt? Remember how awesome it felt to strap a towel around your neck, jump from tree’s, do fake karate, and shoot imaginary laser’s from your fists?

Awesome, right?

Fast forward a number of years, and now you can do that from the comfort of your couch, sans towel wrapped around your neck.

Okay, maybe you still wear the towel.

Hey, if Linus can rock it for as long as he has, so can you.

Enter stage left, Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Alliance allows you to choose from an impressive lineup of Marvel heroes and heroines, including such stand out characters as Spiderman, Blade, Captain America, Wolverine (as if that dude doesn’t get enough screen time already), Ms. Marvel, Mister Fantastic, Colossus, Luke Cage, Doctor Strange, Thor, Storm, and the list goes on, and on, and on.

Notice Blade in the top right trying to look cool as a cucumber.  A half human/ half vampire cucumber.

Notice Blade in the top right trying to look cool as a cucumber.
A half human/ half vampire cucumber.

You want the Fantastic Four? You got ‘em.

You want an X-MEN themed team? You got ‘em.

You want the mighty, bi-coastal Avengers? You-got-em.

Sweet Christmas! That's a lot of characters!

Sweet Christmas! That’s a lot of characters!

With a host of baddies to fight, and levels potmarked with Easter Eggs which die hard Marvel fans can appreciate, this game is a beauty to behold.

The fighting system is excellent, and as you gain more experience your abilities grow in awe inspiring fashion. Being able to do team combos is an added plus, and gets you wanting to reenact scenes from “The Avengers”.

Spidey and company going buck wild.

Spidey and company going buck wild.

Don’t even get me started on the awesomesauce that is “alternate costumes”.

So many Storm's.......

So many Storm’s…….

Myself and a group of friends pretty much waded through this game over a series of weeks, XBOX controllers in hand, staying up to the wee hours of the night. A personal favorite of mine is Storm (going back to the X-MEN Legends days, another title you should give a shot for the PS2). This goddess of weather tornadoed and chain lightning’ed her way through Dr. Doom, Ultron, the Winter Soilder and a host of other evil-doers.

You can more than likely find a copy of this with most online video game retailers (Amazon.com), or used video game retailers.

Honorable Mentions: XMEN Legends, XMEN Legends: Rise of Apocalypse, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

Gonna stop here for the evening as my eyelids are steadily drooping.  I’ll drop my last two favorite co-op titles your way next week. Thanks for following me down my video gaming memory lane.