Kickstart the Comic – I Took A Hammer to Hell #3

 

Just a friendly reminder that I have a Kickstarter going right now for In Our Dreams Awake #2. Back it now!

***

Sometimes there is a plotline/story idea that catches me just right. I’ll be minding my own business (definitely not planning on buying more comic books), and then they jump me out of nowhere. I And then I’m left only trying to figure out how quickly I can get the issue in my hands (or virtual hands as the case may be).

You had me at Deal with the Devil story.

***

Cover by Mulele Jarvis

I TOOK A HAMMER TO HELL #3 (#1 & #2 Available too)

Writer – Matt Garvey

Artist – Mulele Jarvis

Colorist – Fabi Marques

Alternate Cover – J Francis Totti

The Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, May 3, 2024

 

***

The Pitch:

With nothing more than a MASSIVE hammer duck taped to his hand, Jake is going to kill the devil! 

 

The Story:

Jake made deal with the devil for his eternal soul (original I know, but wait till you read it, this is VERY different) but instead of waiting till his time is up or trying to wiggle out of the agreement, he goes to Hell WILLINGLY! 

Why on Earth would someone do this?!… Well,  he has only one goal in mind. 

With nothing more than a MASSIVE hammer duck taped to his hand, Jake is going to kill the devil! 

This comic has action, it has gore…but it also has a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

So, F#@K REDEMPTION…EMBRACE VENGENCE!

You won’t be disappointed!

 

John’s Thoughts:

So many Deal with the Devil stories are about the person trying to find a loophole to the predicament they have put themselves in. You see, it is very simple: you do the crime and then your soul does the time. And don’t get me wrong, I love those types of stories. Heck, I have a book sitting on my shelf that pretty much focuses on just that.

I Took A Hammer To Hell makes an immediate detour, though. It takes that core premise and says “what if the guy made his choice and was willing to go to Hell when the time came”. And then tried to go kill the Devil.

At it’s core, that is an interesting idea. If you had 40 years to plan your assault on Hell, what would you do? Would you train like Neo in the Matrix? Downloading every bit of fighting skills you could. Would you study with all the religious figures you could find, hoping to find some weakness for the Devil?

Or maybe you’d just strap a hammer to your hand and say f$%# it.

A sampling of the Ultimate Digital Collection

The Rewards:

Matt Garvey does his best to keep his Reward costs low, so you can pick up the lastest digital issue for £2 ($3) or even a signed copy of issue 3 for £2 ($6). If you are just hearing about the comic and want to play catch up the digital will run £5 ($7) and phyrical versions of 1-3 are £12 ($16).

The best bang for your buck though is his Ultimate Digital Package (25 comics) which will get you caught up on I Took A Hammer To Hell and then continue to feed comics directly in your brain from many of Matt Garvey’s history for only £10 ($13).

(I actually did that level on his last Kickstarter: Gangsters Versus Nazis and am working my way through all the comic goodness.)

The Verdict:

I’ve already supported the two previous Kickstarters for Issue 1 and Issue 2, so I was ready to go when Issue 3’s campaign went live. If you can handle a story about Vengeance against the Devil (and who wouldn’t want to see that), you should back this comic so that they make 50 more issues!

Make sure you check out I Took A Hammer To Hell #3!

Covers by Mulele Jarvis

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

Kickstart the Comic – In Our Dreams Awake #2: A Cyberpunk/Fantasy Adventure

 

I’ve been writing about it for the better part of the last month, but we are finally LIVE on Kickstarter.

For those who may be unfamilar to Kickstarter, it is a platform that allows creators to take their work (in this case a comic book) and effectively get people to Back the project by saying they want to buy the product. We do this through a number of different reward levels… some of which will just be the new issue of In Our Dreams Awake #2, others will include both issues, digital options, as well as a chance to get signed novels or signed comics from Egg Embry and my back catalogue.

I hope you will join us for the campaign!

Click here to check it out!

Cover by Moonee Art

***

In Our Dreams Awake #2: A Cyberpunk/Fantasy Adventure

John McGuire – Writer/Creator

Egg Embry – Writer/Creator

Edgar Salazar – Artist

Rolands Kalninš – Artist, Colorist, Letterer

Genaro Olavarrieta – Inker

Javier Laparra – Inker

Alexander Lugo – Letterer

Moonee Art – Cover Artist

The Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, May 10, 2024.

***

The Pitch:

Jason Byron dreams of two lives. In one fantasy, magi reactionaries won, technology is banned, and Jason is a portrait painter hiding a contraband telescope. In the other world, he leads a cyberpunk gang amid a future of flooded cities and gilled aliens. When he closes his eyes in one world, he awakes in the next.

In Our Dreams Awake is the story of what happens when both dream worlds spin out of control. What happens when Jason no longer knows which world is the dream and which one is reality?

 

The Story:

IN THE FANTASY DREAM, a mage arrives at Jason Byron’s cottage with orders: Paint and document a downed flying machine before the Magi destroy the heretical technology. But, will the authorities let Jason live with this forbidden knowledge?

IN THE CYBERPUNK FUTURE DREAM, there’s a turf war in Drowned London, and Jason Byron must parley with the rival gang leaders. Can Jason make peace with the ‘A People, those mouthy cat aliens, and other gangs? Will this escalate and go to guns?

Who can say what dreams may come? Each Jason Byron works for an unseen love. Their guiding light is making their worlds better for those who hold their hearts. But can these dreampunks make their dreams come true?

Cyberpunk Variant – Art by Rolands Kalninš

John’s Thoughts:

In Our Dreams Awake began with an idea of having a man dream two different lives. Egg and I then took that to the comic book pages by having two seperate artists work on the two different dreams… the two different versions of one story that we were telling.

Issue 1 started things off with us learning a bit about Jason in both his Dreams. A painter who dreams of the unknown, doing his best to keep his contraband technology a secret. A Gang Boss who dreams of a way off a drowned world, doing his best to keep his forbidden love a secret.

Issue 2 escalates that to the next level. Secrets begin to unwind and the consequences will change both his worlds completely.

 

 

The Rewards:

The Kickstarter is for the second issue in what will be a four-issue series. Issue 2 is completely done and issues 3 and 4 are nearly complete.

We have the ptions of either the pdf ($5) or print version ($10) to send to you. We also have two different variant covers, one by Rolands Kalninš and the other by Egg Embry ($15). If you missed the first issue, never fear, we have options for both issue 1 & 2 ($8 for digital and $20 for print copies).

On the higher end, we have an opportunity to get drawn into the Cyberpunk world as a potential member of Jason’s Gang ($250). On the last Kickstarter, we had two people choose this option, so you’ll get to see them in this issue!

Finally, we have a number of add-ons ranging from Signed Copies of The Gilded Age Graphic nivel, to the Dreamr by the Apocolypse RPG Zine ($10-$20 each).

 

The Verdict:

In my completely and totally unbiased opinion, why are you still here reading this? Go and back this amazing project!

Back this if you like Dreams, Painters, Cats, Blowing Stuff Up, Aliens, a drowned London, magic, spaceships, and probably a dozen other cool things I’m forgetting about (oooh, crab people!).

Cyberpunk Variant – Art by Egg Embry

***

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to check out our project. A lot of passion went into telling this story, and we hope you will join us on the ride!

Check out the campaign here!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost: Behind the Comic: – Anatomy of a Panel – In Our Dreams Awake #1

 

Reminder that the Sign up page for In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter is still available. Be sure to sign up so you get notified when the project goes live!

I thought it might be a nice look back at the Anatomy of a Panel that I did for issue #1 (which will also be available during the upcoming Kickstarter).

***

Taken as a whole, a comic book represents the input of multiple people, multiple perspectives, and multiple skill sets before the final product is created. I’ve said many times in the past that one of the reasons I love the format is exactly for that reason. You get to feed off of the creatives who you work with. And what begins as one thing can become something completely different in execution (and making the overall comic that much better).

 

In Our Dreams Awake #1 – Page 7, Panels 7 & 8

The Team

Pencils – Edgar Salazar

Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta

Letters – Egg Embry

Writer – John McGuire

 

Concept

This pair of panels represent the end of a larger conversation within the issue. So much of this world that Jason Byron lives (dreams?) in is dictated by the mages who control everything. They ensure the chaos technology threatens to bring to the people can never exist again. They are Order.

And to go against that would mean going against everything they stand for… and that way lies madness.

So what do we see? We see that Edgar made a choice to not allow for any other colors within these two panels, but instead presented them as a pair of black and white moments. Two men, representing opposite beliefs about their world, are separated by the small table.

 

The Script

Page 7 Panel 7

Annoyed by Peter’s accusation, Jason pushes himself away from the table as if to get up.

Jason – I know all of this, Peter.

Peter – So ask me your question again.

 

Page 7 Panel 8

Same shot as Panel 7 (Jason is still sitting). Jason pauses. No words are needed.

 

Breakdown

As you can see from the script, I actually made a slight mistake between the two panels. In Panel 7, Jason is frustrated/annoyed and pushes himself away from the table. Edgar followed that showing him standing up. His body language is very tense. However, when we come to Panel 8, I note that “Jason is still sitting”…

No, John, he is not.

But Edgar went with it, and I think it actually works in this visual context because of the artist’s choice to make these mirror images of each other (in regards to the black and white). Where Jason was angry in the previous moment, he has sat back down. But instead of either of them furthering the conversation, the darkness envelops them instead pointing two the very ideas that they stand for can not exist alongside one another.

It even mocks the prompt from Peter in Panel 7: “So ask me your question again.” Panel 8 answers that prompt with silence. There is no need to push the issue any longer.

There are no shades of gray here in this place.

***

But perhaps there is another world for Jason to find peace? One he can visit while he dreams?

***

We are less than a week out from the launch of In Our Dreams Awake #2 on Kickstarter. Make sure to sign up to the Prelaunch Page here:

 

 

 

***

Repost – Behind the Artist – Interview with Rolands Kalnins

 

Reminder that the Sign up page for In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter is still available. Be sure to sign up so you get notified when the project goes live!

***

As we prepare for the In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter, I wanted to spotlight some of the people who helped bring these crazy ideas to life. This brings us to the artist and colorist on the Cyberpunk portion of the comic book: Rolands Kalniņš.

 

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

I’ve been working in the comics industry since I was 16 years old. And full-time since I was 20.

I’m 26 now.

 

What made you want to work on comics?

As a kid growing up in a post-Soviet country we got our entertainment(films, books, comics) much later than the rest of Europe. So I was lucky to grow up watching original TMNT, Star Wars, Spider-man and the X-men animated series, Power Rangers, Adam West Batman, Tim Burton’s Batman, Pokemon, Digimon…

These shows and films made me love these characters, and later on, I found out that many of them were based on comic books. Unfortunately, the only comics we could buy in Latvia were based on Disney and Hanna-Barbera characters aimed towards very young kids.

So I spent a lot of time drawing and creating my own comics. And when I was living in the UK at the age of 15, I had the chance to buy a lot of Marvel comics. And that moment when I first held a comic book in my hands was simply magical.

And that truly made me take the path to become an artist in the comic industry.

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

Personally, I have so many favourites/inspirations. Tho the most influential artists on me were/are: Dave Rapoza, Sean Gordon Murphy, Nick Dragotta, Junji Ito, and many others…

Variant Cyberpunk Cover by Rolands Kalniņš

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

My daily routine used to be different. But for the last few years, I’m also a full-time Tattoo Artist at 2 private studios that I own. So my day-to-day is divided.

Most days I work from 8:30-11:00 on comics and tattoo designs. From 12:00-16:00, I work at my tattoo studio. 17:00-19:00 session at the gym (usually 4-5 times a week), and 19:00-24:00 more work on comics/family time.

 

How would you describe your creative process when it comes to making comics?

My process is quite simple. I read the script, gather references and inspirational images, and then I draw the pages, usually coloring them right after.

 

Making comics often requires collaboration with others. How do you foster relationships and approach the collaboration process?

Creative relationships for me are really different with each writer and or company. On some projects, I get complete creative freedom and just create the artwork.

On others, the process is more involved and created on a step-by-step basis. With a lot more back and forth. Visuals changing as the story evolves.

And these things are different on each project depending on my involvement as well. Am I just the artist, or am I the colorist?

In some cases, I design the whole book, spine and all.

For me, the most important thing is to do the best work I can for the client.

Jason Byron makes his way through the flooded streets. By Rolands Kalniņš

What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to making art? How do you overcome them?

Hmm, for hurdles in creating work…

The hardest thing for me is creating art in bulk for my personal projects. Client work comes much more easily for me because it has certain direction-script, or just a description of a piece.

 

How has your experience been with the indie comics community?

I love working on indie comics.

Of course, a dream of mine is to do a Batman book, but for the most part I’m most comfortable doing creative horror books in the indie scene.

The thing I like the most is the “out there” ideas and that there’s no limit to the craziness of the stories I could visualize…

 

What advice can you give for people who want to start making comics?

Best advice is to learn the basics first.

And that doesn’t mean human figure, faces, etc… It means drawing straight lines, perfect circles, cubes… and only then applying those skills to draw objects, and characters.

And of course, drawing non-stop, but doing illustrations, pages, and panels, not just studies for study’s sake.

Applying knowledge and learning on the go is key. Many things I learned over the years I learned on the job doing the actual work.

And of course, finishing things. Many up-and-comers tend to sketch a lot and never do finished work, which grows into a boatload of bad habits.

 

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

My favourite genres to create for are usually pulp-fiction, neo-noir, cyberpunk, and horror type of work.

But I love doing most genres.

But dark fiction and psychological mind-bending work suits my style best in my opinion.

Jason Byron and Fem’A Lin kiss. By Rolands Kalniņš

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

Hmm, I would probably say to myself to never stop drawing and don’t give up. Things will go your way eventually…

And don’t let anyone talk you out of anything career-related.

 

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

I have many upcoming books and personal projects, but I can’t really talk about any of them due to NDA’s. Only thing I can say is that “The Pandora Window” a book I’m co-creating with Ray Chambers is finally announced and being drawn as we speak. And many other projects with Adam Barnhardt of Sh*tshow fame. Hopefully, soon they’ll be announced.

For hobbies, I tend to have many, but the most important ones are Powerlifting and reading. For me, it’s a way to clear my head. And of course, a healthy mind and body are key with this type of profession.

I personally believe you’ll go crazy quite fast if the only thing you do 24/7 is draw. It can become more of a detriment than a strategy to become successful.

 

Where’s the best place to find out more about you and your works?

I’m most active on my website(portfolio), Instagram, Twitter and Reddit.

https://rolandskalnins.carbonmade.com/

https://www.instagram.com/marvelzukas/

https://twitter.com/marvelzukas

https://www.reddit.com/user/Marvelzukas/

Jason Byron’s intense stare. By Rolands Kalniņš

Do you have a Bio that I can post at the bottom of the article?

My name is Rolands Kalniņš

I’m an illustrator, concept artist/designer, colorist from Latvia.

I’ve worked on many projects for different publishers and kickstarters.

Scout comics: Red Winter.

Fracture Press: Tales of Fractured Mind, Tales of Fractured Worlds, Soul of The Sea, The Burning Memory

Tpub: Transdimensional.

Source Point Press: Sirius

Frank Martin’s Pipe Creepers

Scapegoat Press Inc: Pcycho Path, Aeonian.

Roy Burdine’s Reapers.

VMComics: Hotel Hell

Musicians: Varien, Hellhills, Manic, Toracha, Cream of Cthulhu, and many more.

***

I want to thank Rolands Kalniņš for taking the time to answer my questions. And I really appreciate his contributions in bringing In Our Dreams Awake to life. Remember to go to the Sign up page for In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter. Be sure to sign up so you get notified when the project goes live!

 

 

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

Odd Synchronicity?

Reminder that the Sign up page for In Our Dreams Awake Issue #2 Kickstarter is still available. Be sure to sign up so you get notified when the project goes live!

There are little things in our everyday world which sometimes lay out a message you might be on the right path. Small reminders, universal beats as it were to help subtlely (and not-so-subtlely) guide you. Then again, it could be more that these are the very things which seeped into your subconcious to begin with to create the path in the first place.

As we close in on the launch date for In Our Dreams Awake Issue 2, I began looking through the old emails, trying to find little bits and pieces that I had forgotten in the meantime. The back and forth in the very early days between Egg and myself as we worked the story, bouncing ideas off each other, trying only to improve upon the blocks of the story each time. Discovering things about the characters and what their goals may or may not be.

***

Things in the original breakdown:

The very first outline was 9 issues of story. Talk about being overly ambitious on what we might be able to do all those years ago… not that long out of college. 9 issues… good lord.

Jason Byron was originally an important man… perhaps a Duke of some sort.

In the sci-fi story there was a moment where he was going to have something similar to an Office Space style futuristic job. There was no Cyberpunk gangs. No angry cats (see issue 2).

Jason has more of a comprehension of what is going on between the worlds earlier on in the process. As seen in issue 1, these two worlds are tied together by him, but as things begin to spiral a bit, those world can start to bleed over.

There was an assassination attempt on Fantasy Jason. Totally didn’t remember that one at all.

As opposed to splitting issues between the two worlds, it would be full issues spent in one or the other. So a lot less flip book.

***

So what are the guideposts that helped us along?

Henry David Thoreau’s core quote. Egg discovered it somewhere and suddenly we had a proper title for the story.

I received a series of post-it notes from my parents as a gift and one of them was the Poe quote which again felt like they had read our emails.

Even stranger than that was a random listen to a Van Halen song which felt like it too was written about Jason Byron two decades before he ever took shape:

Love Walks In – Van Halen

Contact is all it takes
To change your life to lose your place in time
Contact! Asleep or awake
Coming around you may wake up to find
Questions deep within your eyes,
Things you’ve never realized

CHORUS:
So when you sense a change
Nothing feels the same
All your dreams are strange, love comes walkin’ in
Some kind of alien
Wait for the opening
Then simply pulls a string

Another world, some other time
You lay your sanity on the line
Familiar faces familiar sights
Reach back remember with all your might
Ohh there she stands in a silken gown
Silver lights shining down

CHORUS

Love comes walkin’ in

Sleep and dream is all I crave
I travel far across the Milky Way
To my master I become a slave
Til we meet again some other day
Where silence speaks as loud as war
And the earth returns to what it was before

CHORUS

Love comes walkin’ in

***

At the end of the day, the story is one we felt compelled to tell. In our email exchange 20 years ago, Egg asks a key question about the story “Is this a story of hope or failure?”

And I like my response, because even through all the tweaks and changes to the very first kernel of an idea, I think we’ve kept to this guiding light:

“The story, at its core, is probably a little of both (failure and hope). Hope that our lives can be brighter than they are but also failure in the risk of not living in reality. Plus, there’s the issue of what reality is truly. Is it what we perceive, or is it what others perceive?”

***

We are less than a month out from the launch of In Our Dreams Awake #2 on Kickstarter. Make sure to sign up to the Prelaunch Page here:

 

 

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost: Sleep, Perchance…

Make sure to sign up for the In Our Dreams Awake Kickstarter Pre-Launch Page to get notified when the project goes live by clicking HERE!

***

I feel like In Our Dreams Awake comes from the same place the following comes from… that frantic, unsure thing where we have this thing (SLEEP) that we must have but area always cutting short with everything else in the world.

***

Alarm off. A slow glance at the clock. The time flickers a thought in my head.

That can’t be right. Close my eyes again as if the sheer act of doing so will change what they witnessed. A slow peek before I’m careening out of bed. A mad scramble of clothes and contacts and “did I shower last night?” and deodorant and shaving and finding a shirt and…

Dragon Clock

It’s already past the countdown clock moment. Now it becomes the beginnings of a true decision. Formulas scream through my brain.

How long is the trip?

When is it too late?

Damn… missed class again…

***

Many years ago Chad told me that he preferred nightmares to pleasant dreams. The very concept made little sense to me at the time.

“Why?”

“Because when I wake up from a “great” dream, I’m back in the real world where things are inevitably worse than the worlds I had just visited. But with a nightmare, I have absolute and utter relief, because my waking life is so much better then any nightmare.

“Suddenly I’m happy to be awake!”

***

I struggle to fall asleep. Not stay asleep… oh, no. That is well taken care of. I tend to stay up too late and want more than my allotted eight hours the next day.

***

Henry Rollins said that you either sleep or you don’t – but you can’t catch up.

***

I respectfully disagree with that sentiment.

***

Your body knows when enough is enough. When you’ve pushed yourself. When you have burned that candle down to nothing but a pool of wax and a long-forgotten wick.

That’s when you need to let yourself catch up.

candle-579580_1920

***

Tonight, I don’t want to sleep. I want to stay up, looking down the internet rabbit hole – wondering where it will take me. I wonder if ancient scholars had the same feeling reading the same obscure text.

Sadly I’m reading about football or baseball or something else not quite so grand.

My nightly ritual where I put it off as long as possible. One more minute. Five more. Let me just finish this article. Where is that link going to take me? What about this video on something from 1 year ago. Five years ago. 100 years ago.

Yeah, I could wait until the next day, but then the information couldn’t swim through my head waiting to greet me in my dreams.

I need to know RIGHT NOW!

***

Reality vs. Dreams? What is the difference really? What if the world ceased to exist when we closed our eyes? And then the very act of opening them created a whole new world?

city in the sky

***

In dreams we are the creator, not always in control, true, but building.

Yet, I have to wonder. Is that actually a truth or just something I believe without real proof?

If that was true, why would I set the clock to a point where I’m late for class? Why torture myself when it is nothing but mental 1s and 0s of my own personal Matrix? What good does it do my body to send that familiar rush of fear and anxiety through my body?

***

What if it were the opposite? What if we are only the creators when we are awake? What if when we shut our eyes that was the real world(s)? That’s why we don’t have control over it. That’s why we can’t get off the railroaded path provided to us.

As strange as that reality might be where physics no longer works the way you think it should. Where people you’ve not seen in years suddenly have different personalities than you are used to. Your wife recognizes you, but she’s different and the same and…

***

We have to follow Alice down that damn rabbit hole no matter what.

***

Another friend in high school once commented that he woke up early (most weekends) because he was afraid of missing something. Better to be awake for whatever exciting/important/whatever thing than to not be.

As if the world ceased to exist when we shut our eyes.

***

The world continues to exist when we shut our eyes.

***

Doesn’t it?

***

We have been working hard to get this issue ready for public consumption. Over the next month or so, I’ll have preview pages, behind the scenes looks, and probably some random other stuff that I’m not remembering right now. I hope you’ll join us on another great comic book adventure!

Remember to sign up to the Pre-Launch Page to get notified when the project launchs on Kickstarter!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Behind the Comic: – Anatomy of a Panel – In Our Dreams Awake #2

 

We are less than a month out from the launch of In Our Dreams Awake #2 on Kickstarter. Make sure to sign up to the Prelaunch Page here:

 

 

 

***

As a comic book writer, we are doing the best we can to take the thoughts and images in our head and describe it in a way where the artist can have some idea of what we originally meant to show up on the page. The amazing thing about artists, though, is they take that mess of words and somehow (through magic is the only way I can figure) create an image (or series of images) which end up being a way better version of whatever I had in my head to start. Those are some of the best days, when you open up your email to get a new page and it leaves you speachless. Where you want to go back to your script to see how in the world they made it so much better.

 

Page 16 Panel 1 Pencils – Edgar Salazar Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta Colors – Javi Laparra

 

The Team

Pencils – Edgar Salazar

Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta

Colors – Javi Laparra

Letters – Alexander Lugo

Writer – John McGuire

 

Concept

This panel represents a bit of the calm before the storm. At the end of last issue, Fantasy Jason spotted this very same spacecraft in his (illegal) telescope. Now he finds himself commissioned to draw it. In so many ways, this is exactly what his curious mind truly wants to do. Somewhere inside him is a person who wants to see the strangeness in the world. The very truth of things which cannot be obscurred by those in charge.

Here we are with our artist sitting on top of a hill, trying to draw this literal alien craft as the workers go about disassembling it. He’s not sure whether this thing will be studied or destroyed, so it may be his pictures will be all there is left for anyone to know this machine existed.

 

The Script

Page 16 Panel 1

Jason has paint on his clothes, face, and has various sketches, scroll casings, and papers lying all around him. He has a sense of wonder and awe at what he is witness to. Magus move past him with pieces of the ship.

For this panel, the time is 13:00.

Caption – Early Afternoon.

Peter (caption) – It will eventually be dismantled, so we need accurate records.

 

Breakdown

Edgar and Genaro did a great job here really nailing this moment. The butterfly fluttering just above Jason provides a very relaxing moment in the midst of the overall craziness which is not only occurring in that moment, but really has been occurring since the day before (Issue 1) and is a bridge to what awaits our hero throughout the remainder of Issue 2. He placed the papers on the ground beside him, so the reader can see that he has been hard at work for a little while already. And he has an in progress piece on the easel to his left.

On top of that, Javi’s colors are perfect here. The greens, browns, and blues put the characters and the reader at a sort of ease (hopefully).

And while I haven’t shown your the entire page here, the overall feel is much the same as Jason pours himself into this project. Maybe even forgetting for a moment that this craft from his dreams is actually real and true.

Lost in the moment. Lost in the painting.

 

***

Be sure to sign up for the upcoming Kickstarter by clicking the image below!

 

 

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

 

In Our Dreams Awake Issue 2 – Kickstarter Prelaunch

 

The Kickstarter Prelaunch Page can be found here!

Jason Byron dreams of two lives. In one fantasy, magi reactionaries won, technology is banned, and Jason is a portrait painter hiding a contraband telescope. In the other world, he leads a cyberpunk gang amid a future of flooded cities and gilled aliens. When he closes his eyes in one world, he awakes in the next.

In Our Dreams Awake is the story of what happens when both dream worlds spin out of control. What happens when Jason no longer knows which world is the dream and which one is reality?

***

In Our Dreams Awake comes from co-creators John McGuire and Egg Embry. The second issue of this 4-issue mini-series features two dreams, the first illustrated by Edgar Salazar with the second by Rolands Kalniņš. With covers by Moonee Art, Rolands Kalniņš, and Egg Embry, this is a comic written for fans of love stories, dreampunk, steampunk, and cyberpunk, this series promises an engaging mystery with amazing artwork. This story is about love and loss and asking the big questions: Who am I? Where do I belong? Who do I love?

***

IN THE FANTASY DREAM, a mage arrives at Jason Byron’s cottage with orders: Paint and document a downed flying machine before the Magi destroy the heretical technology.  But, will the authorities let Jason live with this forbidden knowledge?

IN THE CYBERPUNK FUTURE DREAM, there’s a turf war in Drowned London, and Jason Byron must parley with the rival gang leaders. Can Jason make peace with the ‘A People, those mouthy cat aliens, and other gangs? Will this escalate and go to guns?

Who can say what dreams may come? Each Jason Byron works for an unseen love. Their guiding light is making their worlds better for those who hold their hearts. But can these dreampunks make their dreams come true?

***

We have been working hard to get this issue ready for public consumption. Over the next month or so, I’ll have preview pages, behind the scenes looks, and probably some random other stuff that I’m not remembering right now. I hope you’ll join us on another great comic book adventure!

Remember to sign up to the Pre-Launch Page to get notified when the project launchs on Kickstarter!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Reason Why – The Last Stand

Back at the beginning of this journey, my brain was looking for any way to get a comic done. Of course, at that time I was recently married, just beginning my career in Civil Engineering, so I didn’t have a ton of disposeable income. Which is a nice (or just honest) way of saying I couldn’t pay an artist.

Not the best place to be.

At this point Terminus had gathered a bunch of artists up to do their first anthology, where I had my first published work: The God That Failed. It wasn’t enough. I went online to see what things might be out there. Various contests for artists, but very, very few which had many opportunities for writers. The best I could find was a couple of short contests where you entered your script and if they liked it, you’d get matched up with an artist.

I didn’t win the couple I entered.

Then came an anthology built up to support the victims of the 2004 Tsunami which hit southeast Asia.

I needed to figure out something that would be a little uplifting, maybe having to do with the sea, maybe something from a dream, maybe… maybe… maybe.

I gathered up three artists to do the 4 pages I’d written about a kingdom dealing with the oncoming storms which threaten everything they’d built up. And those same artists took my still very early script and turned into a lovely little story about endings and beginnings.

Sadly, I’m not sure if that anthology ever actually came to pass, or if they just passed on my story… it’s been nearly 20 years.

But the work still stands as one of those first things which I poured myself into. One of those first stories where I am grateful for each of the artists who have their time to a project that ended up not seeing the light of day for a while.

In fact, it wasn’t until Egg Embry was putting together an anthology many years later (The Burner) that the story finally found a place to call home.

***

That story is my reminder that comics are a collaborative process. Every set of hands helping to bring these stories to life which is simply amazing.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost – Behind the Comic: In Our Dreams Awake

 

I don’t have the email anymore where I first pitched Egg the basic idea behind In Our Dreams Awake. I basically remember that I had hit upon this idea of someone having to live two different lives, one when they slept and one when they were awake. I know that it happened around the Winter of 2004-2005 in one of many of our daily emails back and forth to each other. Those emails served as both catch-up on the day/week and also a dumping ground for us to share potential writing ideas.

You see, the goal with Egg and I always was to find a way to write comic books. During college, there were many, many, many weekends the two of us would journey from one comic shop to another looking for back issues. And during those trips, we’d talk story ideas. They ranged from some take on whatever Marvel or DC or Image might be doing at the time all the way to our own comic ideas featuring our own characters. But this was in the days before something like Kickstarter existed, back in the days when we were going to have to find a way to do things on the “cheap”.

Egg’s always been good about looking at potential story ideas and breaking them down into a format that might be a little different. And In Our Dreams Awake sent his mind going.

I know/remember a few things about this time:

Egg found the title from a quote by Thoreau.

Egg pitched the idea of the two of us writing portions of the story. One of us would take one dream and the other would write the other.

Egg found both the artists to do what would become a 4 issue mini-series: Edgar Salazar (pencils) and Genaro Olavarrieta (inks) for my “fantasy world” dream and an artist for “futuristic world”.

So we started on the scripts for issue 1. And then the pages started rolling in… this was working… we were going to have a comic book!

We quickly got scripts going for all 4 of the issues, as Edgar and Genaro were rocketing through their work. I learned how to color on the computer (which is a story for another time). Egg’s artist was turning in good stuff. The tone felt great… all we needed to do was find a home for the comic.

We approached Image, I think we sent it off to a couple of other places, but nothing ever came of it. I was working with the Terminus Media guys at the time and had learned enough to know how to get the book printed, but we realized we probably needed to have a complete book before going down that path.

And then Egg’s artist fell off the face of the Earth.

He’d done around 20ish pages out of the 48 or so we’d need to finish things up. But we couldn’t find him. He didn’t return email. I think Myspace was a bust (remember Myspace?). Months went by, which became a year, which became two years. Edgar and Genaro finished their pages and moved on, but we felt hamstrung by this artist. It was weird that one of the original reasons for doing the comic with two artists was so that it would half the load. We thought there was a chance that if an artist disappeared (or ghosted us) that it would be relatively early in the process. Maybe they’ve done 1-5 pages and then make like a wizard, but he’d done enough for 2 issues.

We scrambled. Egg came up with an idea to split his dream in two with the already finished pages and then get a new artist (potentially himself) to do the last 24 pages. We toyed with some other thoughts, but time went on, and like so many things…

In Our Dreams Awake passed into legend…

It nagged at me. Tugged at the back of my mind. Every year I’d look through my files and see the pages and think about what could have been. I wrote the Gilded Age and The Dark That Follows and still, it was there. Egg moved on to RPGs and writing for so many websites that I can’t even keep up with his output these days.

When we were first working on the comic, Egg found the Thoreau quote and it fit perfectly. But randomly during that same Christmas, my mom got me post-its with quotes on them. And while they didn’t have the In Our Dreams Awake quote, they did feature one from Poe that seemed made for our comic:

Things had lined up perfectly until they didn’t.

Then March 2020 happened and the world changed. We had time on our hands. And In Our Dreams popped up in my dreams again. So I reached out to Egg. Told him I wanted to make a go of it. That we knew so much more than we had nearly 2 decades earlier. The biggest obstacle was always having product, but in this case, we had 1/2 the story already done. There was only one hurdle to go: we needed to reach out to Egg’s artist and see if we could use those pages or if we were going to start over.

And after many weeks, we decided to go with someone new.

The thing was, I’m a part of a couple of Facebook Groups where artists post their work looking for their next gigs, so I’d been saving posts of anyone who caught my eye. So when we decided to move on, I shared all the potentials with Egg, and very quickly we identified Rolands Kalniņš as the person who could bring the sci-fi/cyberpunk dream to life. And Rolands has done that and more. And all of a sudden we had issue 1 ready to go.

All of sudden… after 17 years… we had the first issue.

***

We’re in the process of putting the 2nd issue on Kickstarter very soon, and I’m hopeful that we won’t have quite as long of a break between issues from now on. Be on the lookout for the prelaunch page coming to your screens very shortly.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Rebooting the Marvel Universe

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Looking through my Twitter Feed a month or so ago, I came across the following tweet from Sean Taylor’s:

“You’re given the task of making a clean break (a la DC Golden Age to DC Silver Age) for Marvel and can only keep four existing characters to continue unscathed into the new Age. Who are they?”
***
It started the wheels turning in my head. And while Sean was only wanting a list of characters, I began sketching up ideas for who would be there in this fictious future version of the Marvel Universe.
The interesting/funny thing here is that they sorta have done this at least 2x already. When Marvel launched the Fantastic Four ushering in their version of the Silver Age, this was an effective launch/relaunch of their existing universe. And while maybe continiuity was fairly fast and loose back then, it wasn’t long before they brought back a couple of characters from their Golden Age stories. You had the Human Torch as a part of the Fantastic Four – a direct call back to the Golden Age Android version and in some ways more along the lines of how DC Comics seemed to update their characters with Flash and Green Lantern.
Avengers 4 then brought back Captain America making it a more direct line to the 1940s (even if he’d had an ongoing comic book throughout the 50s as well).
Finally, the other “main” one was Sub Mariner who, in a twist, they brought back as a villain. And while the years have softened that version of him, he still wins the award for most likely to find himself hanging out with other big named villains more so than any other hero in Marvel.
***
The second time they did this is with the 2099 launch in the mid-90s. There they had 4 titles. Spider-Man 2099 was a brand new version with no real ties to Peter Parker other than taking up the mantle. Punisher 2099, who in the regular universe was one of their most popular characters (he had 3 ongoing series at one time), received a version of the character who I honestly don’t know enough about to talk about. Doom 2099 who either was the Doom from our time and was time-displaced or was someone who thought he was Doom from our time and was time-displaced. I’m not 100% on where we ended up with that one to be honest. Finally they had Ravage, a brand new character to help usher in this new line.
***
In both cases those 3 or 4 characters really helped jump start their respective universes.
So going along those lines we could go a few ways:
Think about who the most popular characters are, and then make sure you have updated versions of them. This helps to solve the problem of not having someone who can sell comic books.
Who are Marvel’s best sellers right now? Spider-Man, Wolverine, Venom, randomly Moon Knight (the comic is really good right now), X-Men, Daredevil… those are the ones I see in the top 25 of sales. Maybe you could throw Deadpool in just due to the movie side of things. From a movie point of view, you would have to include pretty much any of the Avengers and Guardians (basically anyone who showed up in Infinity War and End Game).
However, even before we get into that, we should probably think about the situation. Is there a potential time jump that we have going on here? Has 20 years passed since the last generation of heroes? Is this more of a thought process where we have to save Marvel from flagging sales (maybe along the lines of their Ultimate Universe in the 00s)?
It’s also one of those things you don’t want to copy things specifically because it has come before without some form of a twist. With the Marvel Silver Age, those other characters were enhancements to all the new ideas which eventually led to the juggernaunt that it has become.
***
Strictly speaking, if we are going to go with the best sellers approach then my list might look something like this:
Spider-Man has to be there in some form or fashion. He is the heart of the Marvel universe. In we have the time jump version then perhaps he can now be the retired hero we were all hoping for with wife and kid(s) that eventually can be the one that trains the youngsters? And that doesn’t consider what happens if we use Miles for this…
Wolverine is your immortal character who can kind of swiss army knife things in this new world. You need to older teacher, got it. You need a wild man out in the wilderness who needs to tracked down? Got it. You need to touch on the Mutant side of things, he’s your connection.
Iron Man – This one I can see as the inheritor/pure update to the old idea. It’s either a long lost relative to Tony Stark or perhaps even better he is a relative to one of Stark’s enemies who decides to do something good with the suit of armor. Maybe even set this up as a bit of a mystery at first with him (her?) showing up in the other books before finally revealing the person under the armor and launching their own book.
The fourth character feels like it should be someone low key. Someone who in current comics isn’t a big deal but now in this new world could become that new hero. Or potentially someone who never got by before and now could go on to the villain (or at least anti-hero) side. This would be the someone like Elsa Bloodstone or Speedball or something like that. I don’t have anyone specifically in mind here.
***
But then it occurred to me, one of my favorite things about the Marvel Universe is that it can be so many different things to so many different people. So what are the main pillars of the Marvel Universe? And then which characters let us focus on those ideas and build?
In my mind, the four major pieces of the Marvel Universe are the following:
Cosmic
Mutant
Magic/Tech
Street Level
Those you pretty much touch nearly all the characters who currently exist within the comics. And while it is a little bit of a cheat to lump Magic and Tech together, given that so many quotes from the comics and movies talk about how Magic is simply technology we haven’t figured out the science for… I’m going to say it works.
With that in mind, here are my four leads:

Silver Surfer

He’s such a singular character within the greater framework of Marvel, and he allows you to tell as many adventures as you’d like throughout the cosmic side of things. He is an immortal style character, so whatever time jump might have happened, he might have been there at the EVENT.
When written well, he becomes a focal lens for all the cool stuff you can do in comic books.

Storm

Allows you to have those true connections to the Golden Age of X-Men while not leaning on Wolverine for the 1000 time. She could allow you to have an X-Men style team with her role as more in the Prof. X stylings. This would be a woman who perhaps has learned the original Dream is dead, but that doesn’t mean the struggle isn’t still ongoing.

Dr. Doom

My favorite character in Marvel, I would be remiss if I didn’t include him in some way. That said, this would be a version of Doom that we only ever get to see glimpses of most of the time. This is someone who finally decided to put the pettiness behind them and actually strives to be something better. And that all came about because Dr. Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme (whether he died or retired or whatever would be a portion of the story). Doom then assumes this mantle and with it the responsibilities it requires. You wouldn’t have the FF “baggage”, at least at first, and could focus Doom on things again we don’t see a ton of – the magic side of things.

Daredevil

This would be my brand new person wearing the suit slot. A new ‘Devil’ for Hell’s Kitchen to lend some hand to the little people. Not sure they’d need to be a lawyer, but whatever their profession it should give the writers something to play with as that’s one of the things the Daredevil character does the best – weave his daily life into his night life.
***
Of course, if I thought about this more, I’d probably come up with about ten other combinations of characters to restart things with. That’s really the beauty of the comics, anything can find a way to grab a reader and never let them go.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Reason Why – The God That Failed

 

How do you write a comic book?

I had crafted terrible, terrible stories throughout my youth. I have a blue beat-up notebook with the ongoing tales of the Threats based on the adventures of my sister and friends. I had various files on the computer with a bullet list style outline of ideas here or there but there was never a real chance to actually get a comic going. And then somehow I found myself with a very random opportunity after spending a few months talking about writing in the back of a comic shop.

There were some artists who met up there as well and somehow there was an opportunity to do something short. 8-pages.

I didn’t go back to any of my old ideas. In fact, I wasn’t really sure how to go about writing a script for an artist. I don’t think I’d really seen anything at that point. But there was a bigger problem:

I didn’t have an idea.

It was a struggle to try and find some kernel of an idea. Sure I had 60 issue epics planned out, but only 8 pages? What in the world could I tell in such a short amount of time?

And then it hit me one day while I was at work. Over the next 10 minutes I roughed out the full script on a bunch of scrap papers. The idea of having a hero who had a very limited time in the world. I don’t know if I was feeling my own mortality as I approached my 30s or if there was something about comic book heroes never getting to see the last of their stories, but that’s what I set out to do.

Again, it was a bare bones script at best that I handed the artist, John Etienne, the next meeting. He might have asked a couple of questions, I can’t remember. All I knew was there was a chance this bit of words on a couple of pages might get transformed into something bigger.

 

Evolution-Book-one-cover-lo

Since the internet loves a list, here are 9 things (Why 9? Because that’s how many I came up with!) about my first comic that might strike your fancy, a behind the scenes, if you will:

1- John Etienne was the artist on the story. The only reason that Etienne was my artist is because I had approached him a couple of months earlier, before the idea of doing an anthology was even a real thought in anyone’s head. However, it wasn’t because I had this story lined up. No, instead I had wanted him to draw an 8 page Moon Knight story for me (not sure what my goal there would have been). Lucky for me he didn’t have time right then to work on anything, and when the anthology project was finally launched I had a story of my own.

2- John Etienne happens to know my Mother-in-Law. She played a trick on him once the comic was out by telling him that not only had she gone to Dragon Con, but she had bought this comic book and wondered if he was the artist on it. “I always go to Dragon Con, and I love comic books”. After a few dumb-founded seconds she fessed up, but both of them later relayed the story to me (and the look on his face as he wasn’t sure if he’d stepped into Bizzaro world or not). I believe Etienne’s words were to me that he just couldn’t see her at Dragon Con. Though, I would pay good money to see her downtown on Labor Day weekend.

3- There was some debate about the order of the stories within the book. I generally like to be the nice guy about most things, but by my thinking I believed you either wanted to be the first story or the last story in the book (actually we all may have thought those spots were the best). I ended up with the last story position, but when the first story ended up delayed (or abandoned, I can’t remember) everyone agreed to put The God That Failed into the first position. Again, I have to thank Etienne for actually being the first one finished with his pages which made the choice fairly easy plus they looked pretty damn good as well, which did not hurt our cause).

4- I mentioned in the blog that my favorite superheroes are Spider-Man and The Flash. The God That Failed was my idea of what would happen to a guy who received the abilities of The Flash, but that power was burning him up inside.

TheFlash

5- In my original script, page 7 was actually page 6, and page 6 was page 7. Given the way the narration was done the story wasn’t as much linear as it was a guy talking about his friend who was disappearing from the world. When I actually saw the finished pages I had those two flipped given the way the story played out. That being said, page 7 is a “what if” moment, not something that the character actually did (he didn’t need to get more power, he already had way too much).

6- Though I love the serialized format of comic books, this was always a stand-alone story… a cautionary tale, a new myth or something. Thus began my apparent need to tell complete stories (done in one) in comics. That continued with The Gilded Age. But the real reason that I didn’t want to have him as a new hero for future stories was that I had no idea if or when I’d ever get a chance to do more comics. And as a reader there is nothing more frustrating than buying a comic that says “To Be Continued” and then not ever finding the rest of the story.

7- The main character’s name was John Smith; however, it wasn’t because two Johns worked on the story. I wanted a generic name, someone who might be easily forgotten regardless of all the good deeds he might have done. That fear is something that I know I have and I was channeling that fear into John Smith. This is really summed up to me on pages 5 & 6 but mostly in panel 4 on page 5. John carving into the Easter Island statues is not him destroying something precious; it is his attempt to prove that he existed at all. I sometimes wonder if he did that all over the world.

8- The title is taken from the title of a song on Metallica’s Black Album. I just liked the way it sounded, and since superheroes many times are considered gods, it fit exceptionally well in my mind.

Now I probably owe them money or something.

9- My favorite page of the story is the last one. I think (I hope) that I dodged becoming too preachy by having that last panel thrown in there. I love the idea of another what if… this one being, of course, what if John Smith had lived. The shot of The Fruit Fly conjures up memories of a 10-year old me. I think he would have gotten a kick out of that.

***

I’m not sure John truly knew how excited I was to start seeing those pages. And while the narration and idea was mine, it wouldn’t be anything without his wonderful artwork. He took a bare script and made it look like a true comic story. And when he was done, that’s when I got that first true rush I hope everyone who creates something gets when they see it finished. It’s an odd moment where you know no matter what else happens, a little piece of you exists in the world. Something permanent which sprang from your mind.

My own Easter Island carving if you will.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Movie Review – The Marvels

There is a ton of talk about this movie online. Honestly, it is to the point that I’m wondering about that old saying “whether it is bad or good… as long as they are talking about you” still applies. After one weekend, this has underperformed at the box office, and while many people have listed their own theories about why this has occurred (smarter and dumber people alike), it seems to me we’ve gotten away from the key part of watching a movie.

Did you like it?

Yes.

***

Thanks for coming to the blog!

***

OK. The first Captain Marvel really occupies an odd place in the MCU as it came out after Infinity War but before End Game but took place in the 90s, which put in a position where it didn’t really fit into the current storyline and acts as a prequel to much of the MCU (other than say the first Captain America movie). It introduces more of the Kree (since Ronan in Guardians was really the only Kree we’d met otherwise) and sets up something that within the comics is a HUGE deal: the Kree/Skrull conflicts.

I enjoyed the first one, but I must admit, I haven’t gone back to do a rewatch so it might have been seen through rose-colored glasses as we all waited for End Game.

***

With Marvels, my concern was how well would people who haven’t watched the tv shows understand who these characters are. We’d watched WandaVision, so Monica’s story was familiar to us, but we haven’t had a chance to watch Ms. Marvel. And while I am familiar with the comic version, I haven’t really read much with her in it. Luckily, I think they did a pretty good job of introducing both, even if Monica has a leg up due to Captain Marvel being Aunt Carol.

The sequence which gets the movie started is them switching places whenever one of them uses their powers at the same time as another of the trio. Which creates a breakneck series of fights which does a nice job of illustrating each of their power sets. When the three are finally all together, the embarassingly cute interaction Ms. Marvel has with the other two women is infectious. It also does a nice bit of contrast to one of the things people complained about with the first one – that Captain Marvel was too stoic. In fact, that is kind of her character arc here. Someone who has seperated herself from the rest of the universe, someone doing a job only they can do, and just being utterly alone. Faced with a “team”, she balks at it because it is so against her nature. Yet as things continue, she has no choice but to literally and figuratively embrace these two souls. It was this underlying thread that still made it HER movie in so many ways.

Dar-Benn

On top of everything else, though, this movie feels like something where everyone is having fun. The actors look like they are into it. The writer clearly understood this was supposed to be more about the three heroes and their developing relationships between one another rather than the larger plot. Which may be the one bit of “bad” about the movie for me.

I don’t know if they completely knew what kind of villain they were portraying here? Is Dar-Benn your classic cosmic world destroyer in the vein of Ronan? Is she someone who is only trying to do her best to restore her homeworld back to from the brink of annihilation? Or is she someone who is bent of revenge against a sworn enemy?

Now, that sounds like the beginning of real depth for Dar-Benn, but it is here that things seem to get confused. She is all these things, but we only find out about the revenge against Captain Marvel near the end of the movie which makes it seems like it was her ultimate motivation. However, this came across as more of a “oh, ok” moment rather than a “WOW” moment. I wish they would have put something more into that, even an exchange between her first officer saying something about getting revenge is how she’s picking her targets.

***

The cosmic side of Marvel has so much to explore and these characters could allow them to do just that. And could even seed some additional ideas for a Fantastic Four movie (Annihilus is out there).

The comic book nerd would hate for the lower box office to hurt these explorations in the future. There is a ton to enjoy about this movie, and if the first one didn’t quite hit right, this one has a feel very different to that one – it may be more in your wheelhouse.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Best Marvel Movie Moments – Phase 1

After watching Guardians 3 a couple of weeks ago (I’m only a little behind the times), it got me to thinking more about the Marvel Cinematic Universe again… and more specifically those moments within the movies where I will rewatch the scenes over and over because they are so good.

Phase 1

I Am Iron Man – Iron Man 1

We can start with the biggest moment within all the movies, which is Tony Stark admitting that he’s the one in the suit. Supposedily this line was ad-libbed as the writers had planned to go with the Body Guard story. What’s interesting about this is that for so much of Iron Man’s career, that was the cover story within the comics. Iron Man was simply a hired body guard… who also happened to be in the Avengers…

Which never made a ton of sense other than the “it’s a comic book, what do you want?”

So many heroes over the years have this secret ID to protect their loved ones, but with Stark it felt a little more odd since he could legitimately protect those people with the weaponry and technology he invented.

With that one moment though, the movies told us that this was going to be a little bit of a different take on the character… and what is even more amusing, I feel like the comic version has pretty much adopted a form of the Robert Downey Jr. version.

Art imitating Art?

Cap jumps on the grenade – Captain America – The First Avenger

What’s the best way to show the deep down parts of someone? What happens when you put someone in a life or death situation. With one moment, we can see who Steve Rogers is. We can see why he is deserving of the power he eventually possesses. And we can see that he is someone to inspire others around him because he’s willing to make the sacrifice if that’s what is needed.

Avengers Assemble

Black Widow Interrogation – Avengers

Black Widow has a ton of great moments in the film, but the key one is the very first one. We find Natasha being interrogated by Russian Mob. And the old thoughts from a thousand movies begin to work their way into our brain: how is she ever going to get out of this mess?

Instead, we see very quickly she was always in control. Much like with Captain America in the grenade scene, this one tells us so much about the character, why she is so trusted by Nick Fury and SHIELD, and that her connection with Hawkeye is extremely important (and personal).

Punny God – Avengers

The Hulk slamming Loki against the floor over and over again.

What more do you need?

The funny thing about the actual line “Puny god” was that I didn’t hear it on my viewing in the theater. Nothing could be heard over the laughter and cheering. It was only after I sat down to rewatch the movie at home and got to experience the full scene. Which made it go from good to great.

The Team is Assembled – Avengers

This is not only the culmination of Phase 1 with all the characters striking their hero poses and truly becoming Earth’s Mightest Heroes. However, for me it was something I wouldn’t have ever dreamed would have worked. It shouldn’t have. Putting those characters on the screen and having it make sense. To have the other lead in movies manage to do well enough that it could propel us to this movie. That should have been impossible.

My inner 12 year old was/is glad that wasn’t the case.

***

Of course, there are a ton more, but these were the first ones to come to mind.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday!

Normally I would be preparing my own comics and novels for Saturday at one of our local comic stores, but I will be in Raleigh, NC with family this year. That isn’t to say that you still shouldn’t visit your local comic store to get some free (and hey, maybe purchase some other ones) comics. What’s cool about Free Comic Book Day is that the offerings are so varied, you always have something to potentially check out. Whether it is a Marvel or DC superhero book or A Nightmare Before Christmas comic or a Smurfs anniversary comic or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic or…

Typically, I grab a handful of things for myself and then try to get a couple of comics for the nephews and neice. Whether you are 5 or 95, there is likely going to be a couple of things which might appeal to you.

For a complete list of the Free Comics, visit the Free Comic Boo Day website.

For a list of comic stores near you, visit the Comic Shop Locator.

For a free copy of one of my comic books, issue #1 of The Gilded Age, you can join my mailing list here.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Movie Review – Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

After spending the last two blog posts talking about Marvel’s Phase 4 movies, I finally managed to get out and see the first movie to kick off Phase 5: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. While the Phase 4 movies and shows gave us glimpses of where (when?) we might be heading… it is here that the big storyline for the MCU really kicks into gear.

It’s an interesting choice to use an Ant-Man movie for this purpose as the first and second movies were really elaborate “caper” movies. They played things more for the laughs. And yes, while Marvel movies love their comedy bits, I feel like the Ant-Man movies lean into the full comedy with a touch of science fiction. So if you were to tell me which Marvel character would be best suited to provide us with Kang the Conqueror, I would have probably leaned more toward a Thor movie or Guardians of the Galaxy or even The Eternals (if you had to). In the comics, Kang is traditionally a full Avengers team opponent, so no matter who had first contact with him, it should potentially leave us with the idea of “We’re going to need the whole Avengers team to deal with this.”

Ant-Man 3 then has to really pivot from those first two movies. The sidekick friends are missing from the film to instead focus on the surrogate Pym/Lang family which has developed in the time since End Game. Really, there is no opportunity to spend much time with anyone else, as we quickly find our heroes all trapped in the Quantum Realm doing their best to navigate this alien world and find their way back to each other.

All the while, the threat of Kang the Conqueror hangs over them (and the world).

This is very much a superhero movie with BIG STAKES.

Michelle Pfiefer’s Janet Pym is effectively a co-lead within the movie. She is the only one of the five who has any real idea of what might be in store within this world, and therefore literally takes the lead trying to reunite the family and find a way home. Which works well for the most part… however, her character does the trope of not telling her family about Kang and the danger he represents for nearly half the movie. This isn’t a case of a story where maybe the character with “knowledge” doesn’t know whether she can trust the people she is with… no, she’s with her husband and daughter. But instead of taking ten minutes to let them in on the big problem they have, she instead dodges the question.

Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man also gets to play the big hero in this movie. It’s another place where you can really see where this character has started back in Ant-Man 1, and where he’s ended up. He’s someone who is content to not play hero. He’s someone who lost 5 years with his daughter. Someone who also was directly responsible for saving everyone who were Blipped. He’s an Avenger. And while they play that bit for laughs, with that designation, he’s someone who has to help others (or, at least he should).

I really liked the various alien creatures ont he world. Many of them had very cool and unique looks to them that I almost wondered what a Quantum Realm tv show should look like. There was an oddity to some (much) of it and while many of those characters offered some humor, for the most part I thought it worked.

However, what didn’t work for me was MODOK. Without getting to in the weeds (and spoilery), MODOK is a character that comes off as a complete joke. Everything is played for laughs, which makes little to no sense considering he is a Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing. Leading up to his appearance he is called the Hunter. Someone who is not only dangerous, but is basically death for those who encounter him.

Yet, that is never shown. Instead it is one character making fun of him after the next. There is a never a moment I really feel like he should be taken seriously. And while I’m not a big fan of the character in the comics, there might have been a way to do him justice… this wasn’t it.

***

So does this work as the launch of Phase 5? Does this movie start the ball rolling for the Kang saga?

Yes. I think that Kang is shown as a very credible threat. Someone who is not only powerful, but he’s powerful on a scale completely different from Thanos. Where Thanos sought to change the fundamental nature of the universe, Kang is someone who snuffs out timelines. He arrives and he conquers. Because that is who he is. It isn’t for some misguided attempt at a noble reason. It is because he can.

And that is someone who the Avengers (and Fantastic Four and maybe the X-Men) will need to be brought back together to stop.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Marvel Phase 4 – Just What is Going On Part 2

Twitter/DragonKid21

Part 1 can be found here.

I wasn’t thinking about doing a part two to my post last week on the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4. In fact, I pretty much had said my piece about it. But something hit me as odd the other day, so I figured I would dive into it a little bit more.

So up until Phase 4, all our storytelling was done on the big screen. Well, that’s not entirely correct. We had the Netflix shows which clearly were in the same world (they even mention the Incident or something like that when refering to the events of the Avengers movie). And then there was Agents of SHIELD which took a movie character, Agent Colston, and built a story around him and his team at SHIELD. That one didn’t really influence much (if anything) in the movies, but it did have to react to the big moments in some of the films (with one of the biggest reflecting HYDRA’s infiltration of SHIELD, which the tv show dealt with much of the fallout from Winter Soldier).

Oh, and Agent Carter, which tied into the Captain America movies as well as Black Widow.

Regardless, the movies played on one side and the tv shows were on another. The movies were the only thing to push the overall Infinity Stones story-arc forward.

***

It’s actually sad that there wasn’t a Marvel show set during the 5-years post SNAP. It seems like there might be a lot of stuff to mine from that era, and yet aside from a couple of flashbacks here or there, there isn’t much story being told about that time.

***

However, when you talk about Phase 4, you can’t ignore the tv shows. Or, at least, you likely can’t ignore them. Hawkeye is somewhat of a sequel to the Black Widow movie. Loki introduces Kang, who is our villain in Ant Man 3 and is the BIG BAD for the Phase 4 through 6 movies. Falcon and Winter Soldier sets up Sam Wilson as your new Captain America, leading straight into Captain America 4: New World Order. Even Ms. Marvel is going to be in the Captain Marvel sequel: Marvels.

Oh, and I nearly forgot about Scarlet Witch in WandaVision and then following up on her in Doctor Strange 2.

Ok, we get it. You need to watch the tv shows to get the full picture. So what?

Well, here’s the thing. If you are only focused on the cinema side of things, then you are going to miss out on not only the introduction of some (many) of the characters and storylines in the upcoming Phase 5 (and potentially Phase 6) movies, you are potentially not seing the bigger picture. It the multiverse storyline feels a bit hodgepodge to you, perhaps it is because you didn’t watch Loki (or What If?) where that is an extremely important portion of the overall story. In fact, it pretty much sets things in motion for the next phases of stories.

Put another way:

Phase 1 – 6 movies (2008 – 2012)

Phase 2 – 6 movies (2013 – 2015)

Phase 3 – 11 movies (2016 – 2019)

Phase 4 – 7 movies (2021-2022), 8 tv shows (2021-2022)

Phase 5 – 6 movies (2023-2024), 7 tv shows (2023-2024)

Phase 6 – 7 movies (2024-2026)

We’re used to getting about 6 movies ever two years. However, for Phase 4, we not only had 7 movies, but another 8 tv shows. Now there’s an arguement to be made that might be too much, but the other aspect is that if you are bitching you can’t see the BIG STORY from the Phase 4 movies, I’d argue you need to watch the tv shows as well. They have clearly been intended as a part of the BIG STORY.

To put it another way, it would be like reading the BIG EVENT Comic Book, without reading some of the key issues leading up to it. Sure, you can understand what is going on alright enough, but you might be missing out on some of the bigger context of how things connect.

It’s something Marvel hasn’t asked us do prior to this last two years either. Where before the tv shows were something that could be watched or not watched, these fall more in line with potentially KEY STORIES. Which the end result is to allow Marvel to tell their story over the course of 6 years rather than 12 years.

***

This isn’t to say you have to watch all the tv shows. I haven’t gotten to all of them, and I would argue that Moon Knight doesn’t really tie to anything else (as of yet). What If? is also one that is more for those paths not taken and could be skipped. But, for better or worse, Marvel has decided to make these shows a part of the narrative. To ignore them is to only get a portion of the story.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Marvel Phase 4 – Just What is Going On

The third Ant-Man came out in theaters this past week, and due to family commitments I haven’t been able to venture over to the movie theater to see it. I have, for the most part, managed to stay Spoiler Free thus far (though it has only been out 6 days at this point, so I’m not going to pat myself on the back just yet). What I do know is this movie will launch the next Phase of the MCU (Phase 5), which is supposed to better bring into focus the direction for the future films and give movie-goers insight to exactly what the big story is going to be.

What’s odd is that for the last 2ish years, I’ve heard one of two refrains about Phase 4. The first is that is has no direction, no cohesiveness, and whatever the “Multiverse” aspect of things may or may not be, doesn’t feel like anything to excite people over.

The second is that other people love the idea that we got some stories that don’t push the BIG STORY so hard, and instead let the movies and characters feel a bit more self-contained (or one-shot, if you will). Which is something those people loved about the early phases of the MCU experiment.

From my perspective, though, this is no different than any other build up to a comic book crossover event. Just because some Events are more telegraphed than others, shouldn’t diminish them.

Way back when, there was a comic crossover called Infinity Gaunlet (might sound familiar). But the thing is, for a person collecting comics monthly, I didn’t necessarily know that some of my comic book reads were leading to that story. All I knew was Silver Surfer was dealing with this guy named Thanos who seemed to be up to no good. Thinking back on it, I don’t remember there being any Avengers issues or Spider-Man issues where the Infinity Gauntlet was a thing. Instead, Thanos popped up in a couple of comics, had a little 2-part mini series (Thanos Quest), and then we got the big crossover.

The thing about comics and the story-telling within is that they have to tell an ongoing story, month in and month out. Sometimes that means you might get long, multi-part storylines which last for years and other times you get a 20-22 page comic that tells a single story.

We also seem to have short term memories when it comes to how Marvel rolled out some of these early Phases.

Phase 1 was always leading up to the Avengers being formed… right?

In retrospect, it is very obvious that’s where the direction was heading. No, what Phase 1 had to do is introduce us to “new” characters.  Iron Man was a big risk. Thor was a big risk. Captain America was a big risk. The Hulk was a big risk (though he certainly had the most name recognition back in 2008, which is a weird thing to say 15 years later). Any big flub and we might not have gotten any of these movies.

They had to set the stage with characters we knew and liked. They even reused Loki from Thor so that we’d have a villain we understood in Avengers.

Phase 2 was leading up to Civil War, right? Again, the answer is a bit more complex. We had continuations of the Big 3 Avengers, we had a sequel to the Avengers movie in Age of Ultron, but we also had two of the quirkier MCU debuts during this time: Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. Phase 2 is the one that I see Phase 4 mirroring as much as anything else.

Phase 2 had 4 sequels and 2 brand new characters (or team in the Guardians case). Phase 4 has 4 sequels and 2 brand new characters (or team in the Eternals case). It also has the weird outlier/bridge prequel movie of Black Widow.

Guardians was definitely the big break-out of Phase 2, and I feel like Shang-Chi is likely that for Phase 4.

So I look at Phase 4 as trying to do a few things. Whether they succeeded in some or none of those things, I’m not always sure. I think they needed to wipe the slate clean in the aftermath of End Game. If they’d immediately jumped into the next big story, people wouldn’t have known how to handle it. We all needed to have a bit of space to reflect on the 20+ movies we’d seen. Phase 4 is trying to put some new characters out there while still being able to tell the continuing stories from our favorites. And, it needed to hint at the bigger picture, which the Multiverse is obviously tied into that.

My hope is that all of this will be very clear in a couple of years when Phase 6 is complete. At that point, we’ll look back at these movies and go – Oh, now I see what they were doing.

Just in time to start complaining about Phase 7 (and the X-Men?).

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Nine Years In

 

As we turn the page on 2022, I like to take a minute and highlight some of the posts that I’m either especially proud of, posts I think deserve a second look, or just ones that struck me as worth highlighting.

Physical and Digital Copies Still Available! https://john-mcguire.square.site/

Behind the Comic: In Our Dreams Awake

Last year Egg Embry and I launched a Kickstarter for out comic book In Our Dreams Awake. While it was a bit more of a struggle to get across the $$ finish line we’d set, we managed to get it done and out. As we are preparing to at least do a Kickstarter launch for issue 2 this year, this was a comic project over 15 years in the making, with lots of twists and turns. It became that project I was sure would never see the light of day, and now we’re nearly 1/2 through the story. The post linked above takes you down that road with us.

 

Getting Scolded

One of the things I can struggle with as a writer (and a person) is not taking the time to appreciate my victories. Most of the time it is simply easier to focus on our failures instead. Focus on all the little things we haven’t done. Lament the list of things we should be doing. So I wrote this as a reminder to myself to celebrate how far I’ve come (even if I have a lot more to go).

 

Gen Con 2022 Recap – Part Two

There is a Part One which I also think is worth reading, but Part Two has some details on both the best game of the convention and the worst game at the convention… all within hours of each other.

 

The Reason Why – The Echo Effect

One of the things this blog is supposed to do is highlight my works (prose and comics) to those who might stumble upon it. However, I’m the first to admit I’m not the best at marketing myself. This year I decided to lean into an idea of telling those potential readers the reason why I wrote the stories. Sometimes it was where the idea came from or perhaps just an incident which ended up in a tale. But I liked taking a few minutes over the course of two months laying out my “Why”.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

My Avengers Team

Over the summer, Marvel Studios gave a breakdown of their upcoming releases for their cinematic universe. One title, which caught many people’s eye was Avengers: Secret Wars. Now without going into the full breakdown of what Secret Wars may or may not mean to comic readers, one of the ideas (since this is all a part of the multiverse) is that we might see different versions of the Avengers come to help stop the big bad. And this got me to start thinking about the Avengers comics and how they are constantly changing their line-ups, giving different characters a chance to have a bit of the spotlight here and there. This might be hard to believe if you’ve only seen the movies and their somewhat core group plus the trio of Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor seemingly always needing to be there.

But in the comics, that isn’t the case. In fact, one of my favorite runs (West Coast Avengers) only had Iron Man of that trio, and later he wasn’t even there at all.

Regardless, I thought it might be fun to give it a go. Now, these would be the comic book versions of the characters, as some have not appeared on screen as of yet.

Hawkeye (Team Leader)

Probably my favorite avenger due to his run as the leader in West Coast Avengers, but it was as I learned about his past that he became my favorite. You see, he started his career wanting to be a good guy, but happened to fall under the spell of the Black Widow, who used him as a pawn against Iron Man. They tangled quite a few times, but when the Avengers experienced their first big roster change waaaay back in Avengers 16, it was a cocky archer who broke into their mansion as a way to show them he was worthy of membership.

Scarlet Witch (Magic)

Another first-timer from that same Avengers 16, it wasn’t until John Byrne began working on the West Coast title, that I understood the character’s importance, not only to the Marvel Universe but to the Avengers themselves. While the Fantastic Four are definitely Marvel’s First Family, the connections within the Avengers for many of the characters are such that they are the bringing together of many different characters. Her husband is the Vision, her brother-in-law is Wonder Man, her brother is Quicksilver, not to mention that gives them direct links to three of the bigger villains: Ultron, Grim Reaper, and Magneto.

And even though, she’s hit upon some hard times due to the fallout from “No More Mutants”, I love a redemption story.

Songbird (Sonics)

In the comic, Avengers Forever, a mismatched team of Avengers from various time periods are brought together to defeat a greater enemy. Some are from the past, some from the present, but two are from some point on the future timeline: Captain Marvel and Songbird. The thing is, when that comic came out, she was still appearing in another comic, Thunderbolts, which showed you who she really was: a member of the Masters of Evil – the big bad guy group. So here we had someone who was struggling with her place in the world. Who had been a villain forever, but because of the ploy the T-bolts were running, she was becoming addicted to being a good guy… a hero.

And then we see that maybe, just maybe, she will be able to redeem herself and join Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (and she can bond with Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch as they all have been on the wrong side of the law).

Nova (Cosmic)

I had never heard of Nova before the comic book New Warriors came out. He had his run in comics back in the 70s and early 80s but had mostly been forgotten until the early 90s. I loved that he was someone who had lost their powers, lost their way, and suddenly found a new purpose with a team of teenage heroes. He doubted himself, was angry at times and fell for one of his teammates. That comic was everything you’d want in a comic book.

Then it ended, and he sorta disappeared again. While a couple of his running crew joined the Avengers (Firestar and Justice) he never got his due… until the Annihilation Wave storyline began and he found himself fighting alongside and against some of the biggest baddies the Universe had ever seen. If there was ever any doubt that he was deserving of being an Avenger, his run through those space epics changed all of that.

Blink

An odd choice, as the entirety of my experience, reading about her is directly from the Exiles, a comic about a group of (mostly) mutants who jump from parallel world to parallel world trying to set right what once went wrong. Her was a character I got to see grow from an unsure hero into the leader of this squad, forced to make extremely difficult decisions about the fate of multiple worlds. I also like the idea of adding another character from the X-Men side of the universe. Sometimes things can get too insular, and you miss out on the oddites of weird and new combinations of characters who have never had the chance to interact before.

***

While we might (we’d definitely) add another character or two at some point, I like the idea of a somewhat small team to start. And the thing is there are multiple ties between characters, former villains, dealing with cosmic threats, and a couple of mutants mixed in. And perhaps, they are brought together by someone who has a sense that bigger things are at play across the multiverse… that perhaps Kang (and Immortus) are beginning to make their latest play for power.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost – I’m the Problem

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

I’m the problem.

I’m supposed to be out there, trying new things.

Sampling the comic books that are worth sampling.

And I do.

Sometimes.

***

Except there is Comixology.

Did you know that pretty much any comic book that you buy in print for $3.99 is very shortly thereafter going to be about $1.99 for the digital copy? Oh, I don’t know the exact timeline on such things. You see, $1.99 is still far too much for me to pay for that thing I want to read. So I wait for better sales. Hey maybe when it gets down to $0.99 an issue, THEN I’ll give your book a try.

What’s that? You are about to package the first 6 issues together in a trade and offer it for $3.99? Well, that sounds like a deal.

***

Your new independent comic is coming out through Image or Ahoy or Aftermath or Boom or…

So you need those early issue sales, right? I mean, if I want to REALLY help you out I should get my local comic book shop to order me a copy of issues 1 through however many you are going to print. That’s where you are going to make your money and show the big wigs that your comic is the one they should bet on to go far.

Because the way comics work for as long as I can remember, is that you have to have good orders on Issue 1 so that when you get to the dip that happens with issues 2 and 3 and 4… you can survive the fall. Survive that for long enough to get to issue 6 and the 1st trade. Which might buy you another 6 issues.

Might.

***

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Except there is waiting for the Trade.

Because I don’t know if you really are going to make it. I have a couple of long boxes full of the NEXT BIG THING that sputtered out. Plus, I don’t know how you are going to tell your story. What if you really want me to read it over the course of 1 sitting… why would I get those individual issues when I can have them on my shelf as a trade? If I want to potentially read them all together, it would be nuts to buy them in any other format.

Right?

***

It is the best time to be a creator. You can do anything right now. You can build new worlds. You can show us what is inside your mind. There are no limitations.

That’s what is happening out there. Kickstarters are firing up at an awesome clip. People offering their ideas to a world and you don’t need any of the other companies. You can be your own company. You get to effectively do a pre-order of your comic. Hey, buy my issue one and hopefully, I raise just enough to find issue 2 and slowly this thing will grow to the point where they can continue forever.

I even got in on the Kickstarter (and now Indiegogo thing) with Gilded Age.

So all I need to do is help you on this issue 1 and HOPE you come out with an issue 2. But without my support, you may not even get that much. Well, sign me up!

***

Except, maybe I should only get your digital stuff at first. Or, maybe I’ll WAIT FOR THE TRADE… something even more suspect that the more traditional way we get our comics at the store.

***

But I’m the problem. I have the core books I want to read. Those Batman or Flash or Avengers comics (Walking Dead, RIP). You know, those books that will definitely, absolutely make it to a trade. But then I see something like The Wrong Earth (from Ahoy Comics), it about superheroes in parallel worlds and Tom Peyer was a great writer on the 90s Legion of Superhero books. This is a comic I need to support.

And I say – “I want that in a trade format.”

What is wrong with me?

***

I’ve convinced myself that it is two things:

Space & Money

***

The Space issue. My house is only sooooo big. The life of a part-time author doesn’t pay enough to do that add-on basement. So I think about whether adding another longbox a year is the way to go, or… perhaps, the better way is to make use of bookshelves for the comics?

Again, I don’t know if that solves any kind of problems or not.

***

You see, the price of comics continues to rise. When I was 16 and had a job at Kroger making $4.25 an hour, I could buy an infinite number of comics at $1.00 each.

And I did.

I probably got 90% of what Marvel offered at the time. The longboxes upstairs share that reality very well. Today, even though I don’t make $4.25 an hour, I probably spend double on comics for a quarter the titles. As things move to $3.99 and then $4.99, I’ve found that I stick with what I like and I try the occasional thing… once in a while. So the way I can try more and stretch my dollars is to find the sales and the trades instead of the brand new stuff the moment it comes out.

I’ve convinced myself that maybe supporting things a little bit is better than not supporting things at all.

I don’t know if that is true or not.

Repost – Unfinished Business

 

As I’m trying to finish up a writing assignment, I thought a look back at this idea of mine of just not throwing ideas out. Or more to the point, never giving up on the ideas. With In Our Dreams Awake taking over 15 years to finally see the light of day, the pack rat in me was right on that one!

***

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

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

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

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

And I’ve been thinking about them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But mistakes have been made along the way.

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

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

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

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

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Reason Why – The Crossing

Along with Time Travel stories, Parallel Worlds are one of my favorite science fiction subjects. I think we all have had moments in our lives where we wish we could see the path not taken. Those What If moments can plague us if we aren’t careful. It’s very easy to believe you are in the Darkest Timeline if you look for the right (or better yet, the wrong signs). To find a way to peer beyond the veil of our world to see where things would end up. To know if we really did make the right choices. Or perhaps we were just scared.

The idea was that Robert Jeffrey and I would come together to co-write a comic book. So we each brainstormed some ideas and then met up to start breaking them down. Mine was a futuristic apocalyptic comic about surviving after the end of everything. A sort of Mad Max in space.

Robert proposed an idea about hopping parallel worlds.

Really, that’s all it took for me to be on board with the premise. A sort of “you had me at parallel” moment.

You see, even before we’d ever met, the two of us shared a love of a television show that somehow managed to make 5 seasons across two networks: Sliders.

And yes, it was goofy at times, trying to come up with some random worlds that could possibly exist, running into your doubles (a fair amount), and just stumbling through the multiverse.

But…

But… that idea is a good one. And our mutual love of those types of stories led us down the path to developing this story around a pair of fathers and daughters. An idea based around wanting to protect the ones you love, but not always being able to do everything that you can. We looked at it as asking a few fundamental questions:

How far would you go to save someone you loved?

How far would you go to get your loved one back?

How far would you go to prove yourself?

How far would you go with your lies?

We built everything from there. Assembling the building blocks to the point where we could get the amazing artist Sean Hill involved with the project. It was then about bringing all the love for the world jumping and wrap it in this grounded, human story. Luckily for us, 133art thought highly of it as well.

And while it is a little slow going with releases, it doesn’t mean we aren’t pushing things as much as we can. This is a story, I feel, that will be worth the wait.

***

Fugitive Dr. James Kincaid is running for his life. Years prior he was the most accomplished physicist in the realm of Crossing, but due to his own mistakes (professional and personal), he lost everything. Now, in a last-ditch effort to fix things Dr. Kincaid runs afoul of powerful US Senator Christopher John Rice. Kincaid steals Crossing tech and escapes into the multiverse. However, Sen. Rice will stop at nothing to get what he wants, so he enlists renowned Crossing physicist Jun Patton and FBI agent Kayla Cooke in a covert mission to hunt him down.

***

The first issue of the Crossing can be purchased here: 133art.

The Reason Why – The Gilded Age

It was always supposed to be a four-issue story.

Back then, that’s where my brain went when talking about comic books. “What’s the 4-issue storyline?” You gotta be able to sell it to a publisher and since no one knows who the hell you are, well, at best you might be able to squeeze 4 issues out of them.

Well, actually that’s not true. There were many days when I would collaborate with a friend on what should end up as the 60-issue limited series for some comic storyline. Now, it should be pointed out that one should walk before they run, but where is the fun in all of that? It’s much better to create a world where you would need all that space to convey your true message to everyone who was reading.

Right?

It wasn’t until I got together with the Terminus guys and gals that more bite-sized ideas began to emerge. You know, 8-page stories. Maybe, if we were feeling a little bit crazy we could go to 10 pages.

There is truth in determining a four-issue storyline might be the key to actually getting something published by some company willing to take a risk on an unknown (this is pre-Kickstarter that we’re talking about). Egg and I began working on something that would eventually become In Our Dreams Awake (the first issue of which was just funded this year). However, in Egg’s early comic convention travels he came across an artist who he thought might be a good fit to work with me. I looked through his artwork and discovered a shot of a cowboy with a metallic arm, and I had my idea for a steampunk story.

The Guilded Age

And that original story, called Machine Heart, is literally still ready to be drawn up and become The Gilded Age Issues 5 through 8.

However, like many such things, nothing became of it, and it became another file on the computer, threatening to be lost to time.

And then, Terminus decided they wanted to do more than the occasional anthology we were putting out roughly once every year. So Robert Jeffrey, Tony Cade, Pete Mitchell, and me all came up with story ideas. I dug through my files and came across Machine Heart. That was going to be my pitch.

At the same time, I was reading Sandman for the first time. Enthralled with the series, I noticed, especially early on, Gaiman had a lot of self-contained issues. They told a story and then they were done. It also occurred to me that if it took us a year to put out each issue, it might be difficult to actually have a coherent story for someone (anyone) to actually read and follow. What if, instead, I did 4 self-contained stories which would feature different characters – yet still connect in some way.

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

And each member has their own desires and secrets…

I wrote the first story featuring the two leads from Machine Heart. The second issue would see that metal-armed cowboy come to life. The third was a bit more of a horror story. And the last trying my hand at mixing fantasy and oddities together.

Each issue would let me tell the types of stories I wanted to tell while building the world in a very organic (hopefully) way. It allowed me to learn at a slower pace. Worry about the 22 pages instead of all 88 pages. That freedom was great, and in retrospect, I think was the right approach to take as it was years (more than I would have expected) before all 4 issues were done and collected in a trade.

Probably the other big thing to come out of it was that I gained a level of confidence. So many times as writers we are not sure if the piece we’re creating is ever going to see the light of day, and my limited time in comics has only reinforced that thought process. So to have a completed piece was amazing and gave me hope to push on other projects down the road.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

In Our Dreams Awake – Reflections on the Kickstarter

Pretend this says “Funded on Kickstarter!”

In case you missed it, I’m about a month past the end of the Kickstarter I ran for Egg and my comic, In Our Dreams Awake Issue #1. I have a ton of thoughts on the Kickstarter itself and just the whole month.

So this is the 5th Kickstarter I’ve had some level of participation in. I helped out on both the Route 3 and The Fox Chronicles campaigns. I was an active participant on the Crossing Issue #1 campaign, and then I completely ran The Gilded Age one.

On each of these, I’ve learned some things, made some mistakes, learned some other things, and made other mistakes. But you would think that after these previous experiences, I might not make as many decisions that end up causing me some level of heartache, but clearly, the only way I really learn is through banging my head against the wall.

So during the early part of the campaign, I jotted down some of my thoughts. The words that follow are in the moment, edited only for clarity, but they help to show a bit of what my thought process was going through and how easy it is to let the bad thoughts take over.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

***

This first note comes either late on Day 3 (Friday) or early on Day 4.

Day one was decent, but I had a couple of numbers in my head for where I’d like to be at the various milestones of the project.

$300-350 after day 1.

$600 after day 3.

$1000 after a week.

But the first day was $211, the second day was a huge drop and by the time Friday rolled around I was really concerned about the project and rethinking my idea of where to set the goal.

You see, the goal was set in mind to help recoup the art costs, but it actually wouldn’t pay for them 100%. I was fine with that, I’m willing to put “skin” in the game (I think from my calcs that somewhere around $2400 would actually be the break-even point).

I’d done the hustle, reached out to the websites, gotten some articles, and sent a notice to my mailing list (though it might be a bit colder than I’d like). I sent updates to the Gilded Age backers, to our bakers on the Love’s Labour’s Liabilities and Love’s Labour’s Liberated Roleplaying zines (even though it doesn’t directly coincide, it is still something).

With these things I kept thinking can I get 10% of those people to contribute:

185 in the mailing list = 19 people

12x in Gilded Age = 13 people

The Zines = I’m not sure who might come over from the roleplaying side, but it shouldn’t be Zero.

22 people clicked the Kickstarter notifications button = 2 people

I mean, even accounting for some overlaps there, 20 backers early wouldn’t be the craziest thing. And after 2 days we sat at 13 people.

***

As you can see, it was tough going there early on, and it really made me question a lot of things about what I did or didn’t do. And I recognized some of the things (which I’ll likely get into in a future post).

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

***

Now flash forward two weeks. In the meantime, things had been slowly (and I mean slowly) proceeding where we’d have one decent day and then nothing for a couple of days. The swings were beginning to get to me.

Overall we hit the $1000 (50%) mark by the second weekend, which was certainly nice, but it has fallen off a cliff this last week, and I have no idea how to turn it around. At this point we’ve been sitting on $1149 for a couple of days, and we’re 8-9 days left before this thing ends.

I did look to see that approximately 65 people signed up to be reminded and I think 11 of them have actually already contributed, so that’s nice. But I thought the Kickstarter person who talked came on the Comixlaunch podcast mentioned something like an 80% conversion rate on those people (maybe I’m remembering it wrong). So that would be 41 more people to potentially help push us along. If all of them go for the $10 level (plus shipping) then I’d be sitting at $1750ish and we can push it over the last little bit. But if the majority of them are more digital then what, we get to half of that and make it over $1500?

***

And this last one was a few days later. As you can see, I’m still focused on having made the goal too high.

I should have set the goal at $1500.

Stupid.

I mean, I’d still be frustrated at how it is going, but I wouldn’t be worried it wouldn’t fund. Good lord!

The other thing on my mind is that those people get the reminder and see we’re too far away and they opt to not bother anyway, which is the worst-case scenario here.

It feels like I’m missing some avenue to get the word out to ensure this thing happens. But I’m not sure what that is.

Then, on top of everything else, what’s the plan for issues 2-4? I can’t (and shouldn’t) count on only friends and family to support the comic. I need to figure out how to get more eyeballs on the comic. This thing needs to grow. This thing needs to build on itself so that at some point it becomes a bit of a break-even situation financially.

Everything takes so long, and I’m sure that has hurt my path here. If I had the ability to push this comic immediately (within 6 months) of Gilded Age, that would have probably made a big difference.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

***

When you are in the dead zone and the goal looks like it is out of reach, you begin to focus on all the bad that is happening. It’s real easy to lose sight of why you’re putting your work out there. How excited you should be that people are supporting you in any way.

And don’t get me wrong, I was over the moon anytime I saw someone new had backed the project. That was always a pick-me-up. I said it many times during each of the other Kickstarters that this thing is like having another job (at the very least a part-time one). This means by the end of 30 days, you’re burned out on everything.

***

I was on vacation when the project was finally funded. And even though I was doing my best to relax prior to that moment, it was a huge lift of stress just like when using the new Budpop natural supplements. Sadly, I didn’t jot down my exact thoughts, but if I could go ahead and share them now they would have been a lot of internal screaming and yelling, some nice positive four-letter words, and just a sense of accomplishment. I love comics so much, that to be able to do them, even in a small way, is such a blessing.

For all of you who joined me on my journey and supported the dream, thank you.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Free Comic Book Day 2022 – Report

This past Saturday was Free Comic Book Day.

It was also the first time since 2019 I’d done a Free Comic Book Day or any other convention of note. In the meantime, I’d published another novel, put out a comic, and just ran a successful Kickstarter for the first issue of another series. The hallway closet has mostly sat unopened for all of that time as that’s where all my stuff to sell is located (not sure how I managed to get such a prime spot, but it does make things a bit easier to manage when it is all in easy reach.

Anyway, I was able to get a last-minute spot at my local comic shop: Galactic Quest in Buford, Georgia. And when I say last minute, I mean the week of was when I locked it in, which I really appreciated.

Galactic Quest opened up at 9 AM and probably had about 30-40 people waiting in line to kick off the festivities. And throughout the day (I was there until 5 PM), there was a steady stream of comic enthusiasts to watch navigate the free comics and the handful of us who had set up tables.

Since it had been nearly 3 years of no conventions, I was a little rusty on my various sales pitches for all my wares. And since I had a couple of extra products, I tried to both give as succinct a pitch on each, while trying not to just eat away at someone’s time. And like any other time, you do spot people that are definitely willing to engage with you, and then others who are ready to just move on to the next thing. I think I judged most people pretty quickly.

I never know how much “stuff” to bring to any convention I go to. I always worry that I’ll run out of stock and then curse myself for not having that 25th copy of something. Usually that means I’m actually bringing extra stuff to the point that I am a full-on pack mule, straining under the weight of graphic novels, prose novels, a banner, and all the other things that I end up with. I did recall that the last time I set up at Free Comic Book Day, I did run out of one of my novels (The Dark That Follows), so I grabbed at least 5 copies of everything I had, with another 2 of each novel in the trunk of my car “just in case”.

I was pretty much the first thing you saw as you walked in!

Much like last time, the novels ended up being the overall bestsellers (when taken as a whole) while The Crossing #1 pretty much wiped me out of the little bit of stock I had of the regular cover. As with everything though, I’m just happy to get the books into people’s hands so that they can read what I’ve written.

All in all, it was a great way to dip my toe back into the water and get my work back in front of people.

Thanks again Galactic Quest!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

In Our Dreams Awake – The Posts

Check out John McGuire’s new Fantasy/Cyberpunk/Dreampunk Comic!

 

Throughout this Kickstarter campaign I’ve written a few posts on In Our Dreams Awake, so this post will put them into a more comprehensive guide so that you don’t have to go stumbling through the Tessera archives in order to locate things.

 

Kickstart the Comic – In Our Dreams Awake #1: A Cyberpunk/Fantasy Adventure

A breakdown of the actual Kickstarter campaign laying out the pitch and story as well as looking at the reward options. I normally try to be as unbiased when doing the Kickstart the Comic posts on other books, but that might be a little difficult when talking about your own work.

 

Behind the Comic: In Our Dreams Awake

This is a peek at the history of the comic book. How things began all those years ago with a series of emails between Egg Embry and myself. It has been a long journey to get to the point where the comic is nearing a real release.

 

Behind the Comic: – Anatomy of a Panel – In Our Dreams Awake #1

A breakdown of a pair of panels from my portion of In Our Dreams Awake. Consider it a behind-the-scenes or director’s commentary on some of the thought processes when looking at a comic page from the point of view of the writer. And then see how the artist takes that and makes it 1 million times better!

 

I tried to put the spotlight on a couple of my collaborators on this comic book through a pair of interviews to try and get into their minds a little bit about their process and history.

Behind the Artist – Interview with Rolands Kalnins

 

Behind the Artist – Interview with Alex Lugo

 

The interview with Sean Hill, who did a variant cover for In Our Dreams Awake, is from a couple of years ago, but has some nice insight.

Behind the Artist – Interview with Sean Hill, Part 1

 

Behind the Artist – Interview with Sean Hill, Part 2

***

Please check out the current Kickstarter for In Our Dreams Awake!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Behind the Comic: – Anatomy of a Panel – In Our Dreams Awake #1

 

We have about a week left to go on the In Our Dreams Awake #1 Kickstarter, so be sure to check it out!

***

Taken as a whole, a comic book represents the input of multiple people, multiple perspectives, and multiple skill sets before the final product is created. I’ve said many times in the past that one of the reasons I love the format is exactly for that reason. You get to feed off of the creatives who you work with. And what begins as one thing can become something completely different in execution (and making the overall comic that much better).

 

In Our Dreams Awake #1 – Page 7, Panels 7 & 8

The Team

Pencils – Edgar Salazar

Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta

Letters – Egg Embry

Writer – John McGuire

 

Concept

This pair of panels represent the end of a larger conversation within the issue. So much of this world that Jason Byron lives (dreams?) in is dictated by the mages who control everything. They ensure the chaos technology threatens to bring to the people can never exist again. They are Order.

And to go against that would mean going against everything they stand for… and that way lies madness.

So what do we see? We see that Edgar made a choice to not allow for any other colors within these two panels, but instead presented them as a pair of black and white moments. Two men, representing opposite beliefs about their world, are separated by the small table.

 

The Script

Page 7 Panel 7

Annoyed by Peter’s accusation, Jason pushes himself away from the table as if to get up.

Jason – I know all of this, Peter.

Peter – So ask me your question again.

 

Page 7 Panel 8

Same shot as Panel 7 (Jason is still sitting). Jason pauses. No words are needed.

 

Breakdown

As you can see from the script, I actually made a slight mistake between the two panels. In Panel 7, Jason is frustrated/annoyed and pushes himself away from the table. Edgar followed that showing him standing up. His body language is very tense. However, when we come to Panel 8, I note that “Jason is still sitting”…

No, John, he is not.

But Edgar went with it, and I think it actually works in this visual context because of the artist’s choice to make these mirror images of each other (in regards to the black and white). Where Jason was angry in the previous moment, he has sat back down. But instead of either of them furthering the conversation, the darkness envelops them instead pointing two the very ideas that they stand for can not exist alongside one another.

It even mocks the prompt from Peter in Panel 7: “So ask me your question again.” Panel 8 answers that prompt with silence. There is no need to push the issue any longer.

There are no shades of gray here in this place.

***

But perhaps there is another world for Jason to find peace? One he can visit while he dreams?

***

Please check out the current Kickstarter for In Our Dreams Awake!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Behind the Artist – Interview with Alex Lugo

 

As we go through this month with the In Our Dreams Awake Kickstarter going on (don’t forget to check it out), I wanted to spotlight some of the people who helped bring these crazy ideas to life. This brings us to the letterer and the person who is going to make sure the comic actually is formatted correctly to get printed: Alex Lugo.

 

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

I have been creating and working on comics since about the late nineties and early 2000’s part-time, mostly in the independent comics scene. So, for about the last 25 years as time allows.

 

What made you want to work on comics?

I’ve loved comics since I was about 4 years old and it’s been a dream that I have been fortunate enough to be able to accomplish.  The magic of the stories, the great characters, and being around creative people are what keep me coming back to comics.

 

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

My favorite creators of all time are Jack Kirby and Frank Frazetta.  Those two guys are juggernauts in the comics/fantasy fields.  For me, it wasn’t even about their incredible output, but their amazing creativity that brought forth so many amazing characters and art pieces.

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

It’s definitely my 10pm to 2am work.  In the daytime, I have a full-time job, and I am also a full-time dad and husband as well.  But when everyone goes to sleep, I become my alter ego and jump into the comics fray.

 

How would you describe your creative process when it comes to making comics?

I think my process of making comics comes from learning about some of the great 60’s creators: Kirby, Ditko, Lee, etc…I try to do whatever it takes to get the job done. I don’t sit around waiting for inspiration, I go get it and dive into the project. Comics is a commercial art medium, so it needs to keep moving forward, so my process has come from that position.  I do research, interview my collaborators, come up with mock-ups, etc…anything I have to do to keep the process going.

 

Making comics often requires collaboration with others. How do you foster relationships and approach the collaboration process?

Well, I try to touch base with my collaborators/clients and really get into what they are thinking or what they need me to do.  I try to capture their vision if I can or offer them something they haven’t thought about to help and improve their story. I think of us as partners who rely on each other to make the best comic that we can. In order to break the ice, I like to get them on the phone, hear their voices, and let them hear mine.  This way we know we are real people, not just words in an email so that the project becomes as real as possible and we all have a stake in it.

 

What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to making art? How do you overcome them?

Really my biggest obstacles are time and daily life.  I don’t have a lot of time to create, and the daily routine of life threatens to derail the creative endeavors.  It’s tough just to have one job, but I have several jobs at one time.  So once everyone goes to sleep, it’s really morning for me again.  I grab a cup of coffee, play something in the background, and hit the computer or drawing board or whatever to get things moving.

How has your experience been with the indie comics community?

I love the indie comics community! It’s filled with some of the most talented people I have ever met.  They are some of the bravest people I have met as well.  They have chosen to deviate from mainstream comics to put out their own books and show the world their artistic soul.  That takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like that.  There is no hiding behind known characters or big companies.

 

What advice can you give for people who want to start making comics?

I would say (1) make sure it’s your passion and you love it, and (2) make sure that you have a plan for financial return, or if you don’t, you’re ok with that.  Comics can be a lot of fun, but they can also be tough.

 

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

Not really, I think my go to will always be superheroes, but I have done fantasy, sci-fi, new age, etc..

 

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

Listen with open ears and an open heart to critics, but don’t let their words discourage you from working in comics.  Don’t let the person reviewing your work destroy your soul.  If they are good at what they do, they will enlighten and encourage you to keep going. Also, learn when to walk away from things and start fresh instead of beating dead horses.

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

I am working on a couple of projects through my comic company 10 Worlds Studio, one superhero, and one paranormal, but nothing to announce just yet.  I did letter a comic series that was picked up by Heavy Metal called Mark of Kings, so I am excited about that for sure.  I also love Lord of the Rings, and I am a huge fan of Golden Age comics characters.

 

Where’s the best place to find out more about you and your works?

You can visit my Instagram page at alexanderlugo_10ws or my website, www.alexlugoart.com.

***

Alex Lugo is a first-generation Cuban-American artist hailing from Portland, Or, growing up in Inglewood, CA, and now residing in the outer reaches of Los Angeles County. He has worked in the fields of comics, storyboards, and design.  After reading All Star Comics 58 in a Portland barbershop, he was pretty much hooked on comic books and continues to work on them, and dream about them to this day.  Besides working on comics, Alex loves spending time with his family, traveling, studying the paranormal, and watching films with his son.  His work has been featured on TV, films, comics, and other mediums.

***

I want to thank Alex Lugo for taking the time to answer my questions. And I really appreciate his contributions in bringing In Our Dreams Awake to life. And don’t forget to check out the Kickstarter!

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Behind the Artist – Interview with Rolands Kalnins

Check out John McGuire’s In Our Dreams Awake Issue #1 on Kickstarter!

As we go through this month with the In Our Dreams Awake Kickstarter going on (don’t forget to check it out), I wanted to spotlight some of the people who helped bring these crazy ideas to life. This brings us to the artist and colorist on the Cyberpunk portion of the comic book: Rolands Kalniņš.

 

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

I’ve been working in the comics industry since I was 16 years old. And full-time since I was 20.

I’m 26 now.

 

What made you want to work on comics?

As a kid growing up in a post-Soviet country we got our entertainment(films, books, comics) much later than the rest of Europe. So I was lucky to grow up watching original TMNT, Star Wars, Spider-man and the X-men animated series, Power Rangers, Adam West Batman, Tim Burton’s Batman, Pokemon, Digimon…

These shows and films made me love these characters, and later on, I found out that many of them were based on comic books. Unfortunately, the only comics we could buy in Latvia were based on Disney and Hanna-Barbera characters aimed towards very young kids.

So I spent a lot of time drawing and creating my own comics. And when I was living in the UK at the age of 15, I had the chance to buy a lot of Marvel comics. And that moment when I first held a comic book in my hands was simply magical.

And that truly made me take the path to become an artist in the comic industry.

Variant Cyberpunk Cover by Rolands Kalniņš

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

Personally, I have so many favourites/inspirations. Tho the most influential artists on me were/are: Dave Rapoza, Sean Gordon Murphy, Nick Dragotta, Junji Ito, and many others…

 

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

My daily routine used to be different. But for the last few years, I’m also a full-time Tattoo Artist at 2 private studios that I own. So my day-to-day is divided.

Most days I work from 8:30-11:00 on comics and tattoo designs. From 12:00-16:00, I work at my tattoo studio. 17:00-19:00 session at the gym (usually 4-5 times a week), and 19:00-24:00 more work on comics/family time.

 

How would you describe your creative process when it comes to making comics?

My process is quite simple. I read the script, gather references and inspirational images, and then I draw the pages, usually coloring them right after.

 

Making comics often requires collaboration with others. How do you foster relationships and approach the collaboration process?

Creative relationships for me are really different with each writer and or company. On some projects, I get complete creative freedom and just create the artwork.

On others, the process is more involved and created on a step-by-step basis. With a lot more back and forth. Visuals changing as the story evolves.

And these things are different on each project depending on my involvement as well. Am I just the artist, or am I the colorist?

In some cases, I design the whole book, spine and all.

For me, the most important thing is to do the best work I can for the client.

Jason Byron makes his way through the flooded streets. By Rolands Kalniņš

What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to making art? How do you overcome them?

Hmm, for hurdles in creating work…

The hardest thing for me is creating art in bulk for my personal projects. Client work comes much more easily for me because it has certain direction-script, or just a description of a piece.

 

How has your experience been with the indie comics community?

I love working on indie comics.

Of course, a dream of mine is to do a Batman book, but for the most part I’m most comfortable doing creative horror books in the indie scene.

The thing I like the most is the “out there” ideas and that there’s no limit to the craziness of the stories I could visualize…

 

What advice can you give for people who want to start making comics?

Best advice is to learn the basics first.

And that doesn’t mean human figure, faces, etc… It means drawing straight lines, perfect circles, cubes… and only then applying those skills to draw objects, and characters.

And of course, drawing non-stop, but doing illustrations, pages, and panels, not just studies for study’s sake.

Applying knowledge and learning on the go is key. Many things I learned over the years I learned on the job doing the actual work.

And of course, finishing things. Many up-and-comers tend to sketch a lot and never do finished work, which grows into a boatload of bad habits.

 

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

My favourite genres to create for are usually pulp-fiction, neo-noir, cyberpunk, and horror type of work.

But I love doing most genres.

But dark fiction and psychological mind-bending work suits my style best in my opinion.

Jason Byron and Fem’A Lin kiss. By Rolands Kalniņš

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

Hmm, I would probably say to myself to never stop drawing and don’t give up. Things will go your way eventually…

And don’t let anyone talk you out of anything career-related.

 

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

I have many upcoming books and personal projects, but I can’t really talk about any of them due to NDA’s. Only thing I can say is that “The Pandora Window” a book I’m co-creating with Ray Chambers is finally announced and being drawn as we speak. And many other projects with Adam Barnhardt of Sh*tshow fame. Hopefully, soon they’ll be announced.

For hobbies, I tend to have many, but the most important ones are Powerlifting and reading. For me, it’s a way to clear my head. And of course, a healthy mind and body are key with this type of profession.

I personally believe you’ll go crazy quite fast if the only thing you do 24/7 is draw. It can become more of a detriment than a strategy to become successful.

 

Where’s the best place to find out more about you and your works?

I’m most active on my website(portfolio), Instagram, Twitter and Reddit.

https://rolandskalnins.carbonmade.com/

https://www.instagram.com/marvelzukas/

https://twitter.com/marvelzukas

https://www.reddit.com/user/Marvelzukas/

Jason Byron’s intense stare. By Rolands Kalniņš

Do you have a Bio that I can post at the bottom of the article?

My name is Rolands Kalniņš

I’m an illustrator, concept artist/designer, colorist from Latvia.

I’ve worked on many projects for different publishers and kickstarters.

Scout comics: Red Winter.

Fracture Press: Tales of Fractured Mind, Tales of Fractured Worlds, Soul of The Sea, The Burning Memory

Tpub: Transdimensional.

Source Point Press: Sirius

Frank Martin’s Pipe Creepers

Scapegoat Press Inc: Pcycho Path, Aeonian.

Roy Burdine’s Reapers.

VMComics: Hotel Hell

Musicians: Varien, Hellhills, Manic, Toracha, Cream of Cthulhu, and many more.

***

I want to thank Rolands Kalniņš for taking the time to answer my questions. And I really appreciate his contributions in bringing In Our Dreams Awake to life. And don’t forget to check out the Kickstarter!

 

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com