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

 

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

As I talked about last week, In Our Dreams Awake has had a long journey to get from the kernel of an idea all the way to this next milestone: A Kickstarter Launch today!

This is one of those stories that examines that fundamental idea I think everyone deals with, which is wondering if their life is enough or if there might be another one we could live if only the circumstances were a little different.

We are raising funds to get the first issue of In Our Dreams Awake printed and out to readers.

***

In Our Dreams Awake #1: A Cyberpunk/Fantasy Adventure

John McGuire – Writer/Creator

Egg Embry – Writer/Creator

Edgar Salazar – Artist

Rolands Kalninš – Artist, Colorist, Letterer

Genaro Olavarrieta – Inker

Alexander Lugo – Letterer

Sean Hill – Variant Cover Artist

The Kickstarter campaign ends on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

***

The Pitch:

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

 

The Story:

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. Jason’s only desire is to wake up in the arms of his true love, Laura… Uh, or is it Fem’a Lin?… If only he knew which one was real?!

Cyberpunk Variant – Art by Rolands Kalninš

John’s Thoughts:

I’m obsessed with the idea of What If when it comes to how people live their lives. Those little moments then spiral out to set the course of our lives. How easy it is to focus on the things we don’t have rather than embrace all the gifts we do have. It’s very easy to lose sight of what is important when you always are lamenting the things you don’t possess.

It’s human nature to evaluate and then reevaluate and then wonder about the path not taken.

With In Our Dreams Awake, Egg and I are giving this concept a bit of a twist. Instead of trying to figure out how Jason Byron’s life might have gone wrong, he instead sees a world nearly the opposite of the current life he lives. And that would be fine, we could all use a little bit of fantasy in our lives (or cyberpunk as the case may be), but what happens when those two realities begin to bleed into one another. How would you determine which was the real world and which was the dream world?

And how would you know which one was worth fighting for… or dying for?

The Rewards:

The Kickstarter is for the first issue in what we hope will be a four-issue series. We have the options 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 Sean Hill ($15).

And if being drawn into the Cyberpunk world as a potential member of Jason’s gang interests you, we have that for $200.

We also have a number of Add-Ons ranging from a copy of The Gilded Age Graphic novel to the Dreamr by the Apocolypse RPG Zine ($10-$20 each).

Mirror Variant – Art by Sean Hill

The Verdict:

As a co-creator of this little project, I’m so excited for it to become a reality. As my post last week talked about, it has been a long (looooong) road to get here, but we only have a little more to go before this story can see the true light of day and get into the hands of all you potential readers.

The other key piece is that the first issue is completely done. Finished. This isn’t going to be a Kickstarter that lingers on and on. In fact, my hope is that we fund quickly, and I can get the second issue into production while this Kickstarter is actually going on, so that the wait between issues isn’t so long.

***

I’d like to thank you in advance for checking the project out. And be sure to check back in on the project throughout the month as I’ll be posting various interviews with my fellow creators.

And be sure to check out the Kickstarter 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

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…

The Kickstarter launches one week from now, but we’d love it if you’d sign up for the Notification Page just so that Kickstarter will send you an email when the project goes live. You can find that 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

In Our Dreams Awake – Kickstarter Prelaunch

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. Jason’s only desire is to wake up in the arms of his true love, Laura… Uh, or is it Fem’a Lin?… If only he knew which one was real?!

In a society ruled by mages, Jason Byron is a master artist trying to provide for his family. He has a secret heirloom, a telescope. With it he can see the stars, but can he see the trouble his illegal piece of technology will bring to his family?

In drowning London, Jason Byron deals in chum, the hottest drug among aliens. He and his true love are trying to escape their world. Can they keep the peace long enough to get away before the world is pulled beneath the waves?

In Our Dreams Awake is the story of what happens when both of those worlds begin to 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 first issue of this mini-series features two dreams, the first illustrated by Edgar Salazar and the second by Rolands Kalniņš. Both artists provide covers in addition to Sean Hill’s variant cover. Written for fans of love stories, dreampunk, steampunk, and cyberpunk, this comic offers 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?

***

We are launching the Kickstarter on March 30, 2022; however, you can make sure that you get notified when it launches by signing up at the Pre-launch Page!

***

Over the next month and a half, I’ll have preview pages, origin stories, interviews with the creative team, and probably some stuff I’m not remembering right now. I hope you’re ready to join me on another comic book adventure!

***

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

Dreaming

Hoarding…

I’ve mentioned in the blog before that I’m a bit of a pack rat. At heart, I’m a collector. Which my wife can attest to with the comic book collection taking up multiple closets in our house. But it isn’t just physical objects, it’s digital ones as well. I have abandoned short stories cluttering up one of my drives because I know…

I KNOW!

That I may end up using some piece of the story in another project down the road. This mostly means that those projects from back in the day may only need just a little bit of love and maybe they can come back to life.

Which brings me to my next comic…

A couple of years ago I finished up the first four issues of the Gilded Age comic book, and while I am chomping at the bit to get back to writing that project, there was another one that actually existed many years before Gilded Age was ever a thought in my brain. It is something that is both a fantasy and sci-fi comic book. However, for many, many reasons (which I’m likely to touch on in the coming weeks), it was also the project that I couldn’t just let die somewhere on a hard drive.

It’s a project that has been around for some time, and after talking to the co-writer (this site’s own Egg Embry!), we have decided now would be the perfect time to finish it up.

So for now I thought I’d give you a peek at one of the covers (yes, plural) from Edgar Salazar (of Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and many others fame).

I’m excited for this project to finally get out into the world!

***

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

 

Spider-Man: No Way Home Trailer Thoughts

I must admit… I watched the leaked version a few hours before the official release of the trailer. However, I’m not sorry. The version I saw actually had subtitles which helped me comprehend everything I was seeing a little better.

Anyway, in light of the trailer being released, I’ve noticed this thing that fandom loves to do is happening now with Spider-Man: everyone is playing guess the movie. They are picking apart things that don’t make a ton of sense in the trailer while relying on 2 minutes of randomish footage. In fact, I always find it is best to enter into watching trailers with an eye towards doing exactly that. I mean, how else are you possibly going to make up your mind about something coming out in December. Better to make a ton of snap judgments on this rather than wait to see the actual movie and then, if the inconsistencies which were hinted at in the trailer do manage to remain without a satisfying outcome – hey, feel free to rip it apart.

What’s strange about this phenomenon is I pretty much only hear it in these big genre movies. Star Wars certainly gets held under the microscope. Marvel has graduated to this level as well now. But otherwise, with most movie trailers the only things people might bitch about is a casting choice or the special effects or dialogue. I don’t seem to remember people tearing apart the trailer for something like Bill and Ted. Or maybe they do, and I’m just hanging out in the wrong corners of the internet.

Still, the trailer is something that is supposed to excite you. To get you hyped to see the movie in question. It is certainly there to make you ask questions. With this movie in particular, the rumors have been running for some time about what the plot would be about or who might show up in the movie. The trailer certainly delivers on the first part (at least the broad strokes) and by a couple of reveals lend additional credit to spoilers regarding the cast.

First, the plot appears to be that after the results of Far From Home, Peter Parker has been outed as Spider-Man. This single fact causes his whole life to turn upside down to the point that he ventures to see Doctor Strange in the hopes that there might be a spell to undo that knowledge from the world. Something goes wrong in the casting of the spell, and off we go into the greater multiverse.

In comics, normally a hero makes the decision very early on whether to have a secret identity at all. Most tend to opt to keep their lives separate for the very reasons we’re seeing play out in the trailer. The sudden super-stardom which accompanies it. The idea that there may have been crimes your alter-ego committed that your true identity is now responsible for. And the biggest key piece is that your enemies now can target you through your family and friends. This last reason is the most important one, and in those stories where the hero is outed, it never goes well.

In the comics, Spider-Man once chose to reveal himself to the world. During the heroes’ Civil War, in an effort to convince others to register with the government, Peter Parker revealed himself on live television. Reading at this time, I both knew that this change in status quo wouldn’t/couldn’t be a long-term thing, and I also knew it was a terrible (just terrible) idea. Soon enough, the Kingpin of Crime set hitmen to target Mary Jane (which resulted instead in Aunt May getting shot and led to things we do not speak of).

So for the purposes of the movie, having a portion of it showing how bad things can be for Peter should be cool (though, I am extremely interested in seeing how Flash Thompson reacts to this knowledge given how much he appears to hate Peter Parker but loves Spider-Man).

The second big piece of this is traveling to other versions of reality. In the comics, characters have been meeting alternate versions of themselves for decades (starting with DC’s “Flash of Two Worlds”). Heck, Into the Spiderverse did an excellent job with exactly this idea.

Whether they are going to lean into this being a situation where he is actually visiting these other worlds or if those other worlds are threatening to overwrite our own, I can tell from the trailer.

But it leads us to the other members of the cast and the big reveals near the end of the trailer. We see a Goblin Bomb and William Dafoe’s laughter. We see lightning in the sky conjuring thoughts of Electro. There are a couple of other things people are speculating might be The Lizard or Sandman, but the one, concrete person we do get to see is Otto Octavious, Doc. Ock not only makes a big appearance but also knows Peter (even this version) which is as curious as anything else to me making me wonder is this a world where Doc. Ock didn’t die? Maybe he is a redeemed version?

Or are we actually going to get our big fight against the Sinister Six in this movie? And the only way to potentially defeat them is to find a little help from some fellow Spider-Men?

I half expect that in the final trailer they release (probably around Thanksgiving) we’ll get some shot with our 3 versions from the last 2 decades all standing together. And while it might not be Endgame level, that should be extremely cool.

***

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

A Love Renewed?

Many years ago I was betrayed by a comic storyline.

***

When I first started reading comics, Spider-Man was easily my favorite character. Of course, I’d watched his cartoon, could sing the theme song, but reading his monthly adventures connected me to the character in a real way. And much like any kind of entertainment that we absorb in our youth, it becomes “THE” best version of things. You hear it all the time no matter what the generation, they all believe that their music or their movies or their tv or their books or, yes, their comics were the best. That if things just had ended there, it would have been fine, because clearly, it was the pinnacle of the art form.

So, when I read Spider-Man it was literally only a few months later that he was married (to Mary Jane). This was around ’87 or ’88, so never mind that he’d been single for 25ish years up to that point. No, for me it was him and MJ against the world.

I actually laughed over the years at reading various articles about Superman and Lois. It seemed time and time again a new writer lamented that the two had married. That somehow they couldn’t tell the stories they wanted to tell because they were married. Which seemed ludicrous to me.

You see, in Superman’s case there had been 50+ years of him being single. Goofy stories, serious stories, stories where he contorted around a plot that Lois was about to figure out he was Superman… etc. But he’d only been married for less than 10 years and they were already out of ideas? How was that even possible?

But then I began hearing similar things about Spider-Man.

***

I read somewhere that as a writer of a comic (or probably anything you are a temporary custodian for), your job is to leave the “toy box” with more toys than when you got there. It means that you leave the story greater than when you found it.

***

The grumblings were always there. They even launched a whole storyline now referred to as The Clone Saga in an effort to have a single Spider-Man again.

It didn’t stick and eventually, we returned to Peter and MJ as a married couple.

***

Then came One More Day.

Setting aside the actual storyline, the end result was a comic book going forward where Spider-Man and Mary Jane weren’t married… heck, they weren’t together.

It didn’t make sense to me. You had 25 years to tell your single Spidey stories. And at that point, he’d been married as long as he’d been single. They were returning the character to a version from their youths by taking away the version from my youth.

***

I’m one of those people who never quits on a comic (or nearly so). I’ll suffer through some bad artwork and worse storylines for certain comics (Avengers and Flash come to mind). You read a comic and you’re in until they cancel the book. That’s how it works in my head. These characters are my characters.

I’m invested.

***

I stopped reading Spider-Man comics at that moment.

I didn’t go online and complain. I didn’t raise a fuss on some social networks (though I’m sure some of my friends were tired of me talking about it). I figured the only way for me to show my true disapproval was to stop buying the comic. They wouldn’t have my $10 every month.

Chad Shonk (of many articles on this site) told me that it wasn’t right, me not reading Spider-Man.

He wasn’t wrong.

***

Life moves along. The seasons change. More comics are printed and read.

And still, I didn’t buy the comic.

I’d get my fill of Spidey in his guest spots here and there, but I knew very little about what was going on in his book. Considering for 20 years, I’d had a subscription to at least one of his books, there was a true gap.

***

A couple of months ago I enrolled in Comixology Unlimited (think Netflix for comics and you’re pretty close). A couple of weeks ago I noticed one storyline was sitting there to be read: Superior Spider-Man. A story of Doctor Octopus switching bodies with Peter Parker and becoming a better version. The storyline lasted over 30 issues.

I think it took me only a couple of days to get through them.

And weirdly, because it wasn’t my Peter Parker, it allowed me to enjoy the book for what it was – a villain learning how to be a hero. You see, I’m a sucker for the redemption storyline in any medium. And while I understood eventually the real Peter Parker would return and prevail, I enjoyed the ride.

***

Maybe it’s a rationalization. Maybe I’ve given up on my stances from over 13 years ago. Maybe I believe that the amount of money Marvel is getting from me through Comixology is small enough not to matter.

I’m not sure what more I may or may not read. I certainly have plenty of comics to read in my to-be-read pile as is.

Still, it was nice to have a reunion with an old friend. To be able to check in with him and see how he was doing after all this time.

***

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

Bracketology

Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

Little teams facing off against Goliaths. The blue bloods going against the mid-levels. The unknowns hitting their last-second shot. The upsets.

That’s exactly what indy comics feels like.

It feels like you are the unknown quantity and you know that you just need one chance in order to prove that you belong. But the thing is, during the regular season those big dogs never want anything to do with you. They don’t want to schedule games against you. Heck, they wouldn’t know where to go if they did. So you have to struggle and scratch and claw alongside others of your ilk. You’ve got to put in the work the same as if you were playing in the big arenas across the country.

You’ve got to create for yourself because no one else in the big leagues is going to be of much help to you.

Those dark hours you spend in front of the computer, all those loose scraps of paper with little bits of genius on them, the whiteboard where you’ve mapped 60 issues of your storyline out, and everything else you do to keep those ideas alive. Trying your best to wrap your head around the plots and put them in a coherent format so that an artist can bring your vision to life. The Fear has to take a back seat during those moments when you are creating.

 

But in the tournament it’s different. You finally get your chance to show off your skills and your stories to an even bigger audience. They can’t ignore you completely anymore. They can’t outright dismiss you, even if they would like to.

But here’s where the analogy fails. You see, while those little schools are all competing for the handful of slots just to get on the big stage, it doesn’t have to be like that for the independents. We don’t have to be competition for each other. Instead, we can be another ship in the fleet, raising the sails of anyone and everyone we can.

Hopefully, as the world begins to return to something that might resemble “normal” (though that word feels like it will always have an asterisk beside it, much like we say pre-911, I see us saying pre-Covid19), we’re going to start venturing out to the comic book conventions. You’re going to walk down those aisles where the big creators are, and that’s great. I love doing that as well, but I would say that maybe, just maybe, you take a venture down to where the indy creators are. Take your time down there. Those guys and gals have poured their free time into those books. Each one might not appeal to you, but I’m willing to bet that there are a few in there which will feel like they were made just for you.

This might be the closest thing to the Big Dance many of us are ever going to get to (and that’s ok). Not everyone is trying to work at Marvel or DC. Many creators just want to be able to put their vision of the world out there in some form or fashion. They are hoping that a handful (well, maybe more than a handful) of people are going to give them a chance. That they are going to stop and look. Pick up a comic and flip through it. To have those conversations where you can hear the excitement in their voice while they pitch you their stories.

It’s not always about the big splashy moments. Sometimes it can be about the little ones. A reader and a creator connecting with their mutual love of the form.

***

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 – The Fox Chronicles #1

You have to train. You must get better today than you were yesterday. You must be better tomorrow than you were today.

For there is something you are to do for this world and many, many other worlds.

Yet, the world around you is dark and full of monsters that appear the same as any other person who walks down the street. Those are the ones you must guard the innocent against.

You are destined for great things.

***

The Fox Chronicles #1

Publisher – Prime Direction Studios

Writers – Robert Jeffrey II & Leo Patrice Ware

Artist – Fritz Fulo Casas

Cover Artist/Colorist – La’Vata E. O’Neal

Cover Artist – Marcus Williams

Colorist – Candice Han

Illustrator/Graphic Designer – Pao Xiong

Cover Artist – Sheldon Mitchell

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Thursday, April 15, 2020, at 12:00 PM EDT.

***

The Pitch:

A coming-of-age futurist adventure. Full of action, suspense, and intrigue.

 

The Story:

In this coming of age, centuries-spanning story, Autumn Fox finds herself caught up in a galactic power struggle when all she wants is to better her world. As sinister forces, terrestrial and beyond exploit the very systems we take for granted. Our story is going to follow Autumn, an Atlanta teen, as she tries to balance overly protective parents, friends, and the overwhelming need to protect those around her. The series is a must-read for fans of such genre-defining series as “Tomb Raider”, “Far Sector”, “Ironheart”, and “Netflix’s Voltron: Legendary Defender”.

 

John’s Thoughts:

As I’ve noted in the past, I’m with Robert Jeffrey II on anything he decides to write. I’ve watched his skills as a writer grow over the years, and am proud to be his co-writer on The Crossing.

With The Fox Chronicles, he is getting to build a character who appears to have one foot firmly on Earth and another that ties her to something ancient and deadly. This young woman at the center of the story is not only trying to figure out her place in a larger world but in a very large and scary universe.

But maybe more importantly is that this book wants to use its platform to illuminate an ongoing problem: the forced labor of women and girls. From the Kickstarter page:

“Every year millions of people are victims of forced labor with women and girls accounting for 71% of all victims.”

If we can help people gain an understanding of extremely important topics through our stories, then it only makes sense to do just that.

The Rewards:

One of the first things you’ll notice is that there are three different variant covers available to order which will allow you to get exactly the cover you want for this tale ($50 level). In addition, there is an opportunity to get some Original Artwork ($100), and at the same cost, have a one on one with Robert Jeffrey II who has gone through the DC Writer’s Workshop. I have no doubt that he’ll have plenty of things to discuss with whoever goes for such a Reward.

The Verdict:

As I’ve said in the past, I’m with Robert Jeffrey II on pretty much anything he writes. But beyond that, I think that this is one of those true labors of love from the team. Seeing the artwork come in, reading the script, and just listening to them talk has me convinced.

***

Be sure to check out the Kickstarter 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

Comics Are My Time Machine

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

There is a scene in the movie Before Sunset, where Ethan Hawke is talking about this idea of a song being able to transport you back to a particular moment in time. That in a way, the song is a time machine because it allows you to experience something from long ago almost as if it is happening in that moment. A bridge between two times.

It is a wonderful idea that I’ve seen mentioned in other places since, and while I agree that music can do that for me as well (and may be a future blog if I remember), I have another way to track time within my own life:

Comics.

Comics are truly my time machine. Much in the same way that a song can take you back to an earlier time in your life, so too, do I see comics performing that task for me.

I remember distinctly the four comics which set me on the path towards readership, fandom, and loss of a closet in my current home (which my wife laments). $10 in my pocket for purposes of snack, drink, and possibly a magazine became a 10 year old looking over the newsstand rack in amazement. Before that moment, I don’t think I really knew “about” comic books or understood them for what they were. Weirdly I owned 2 comics prior to this (an issue of Transformers and an issue of Fantastic Four). To this day I’m not sure why I decided to get those four comics. Why I didn’t grab a Sports Illustrated or maybe even saved the money for a rainy day.

They called to me.

After that, it was over for me. I was hooked completely. In those early days every stray quarter, nickel, dime, and penny was scrapped and saved in order to have enough to buy a couple of books when I rode my bike up to the local convenience store. With no concept of shipping dates or even that comics came in weekly, I would go as many times a week during the summer as I could think of and return with at least one new comic no matter if I had left it on the shelf four times previous.

Now they exist as artifacts of different times. A reminder of what my life might have been when a particular issue or comic came out.

The afternoon I stopped by Chad’s house with my comics and neither he nor Egg would talk to me until I read the latest issue of The Flash so that we could discuss in great detail. This was during Mark Waid’s epic run.

Finding comraderi with a co-worker through a shared love of Moon Knight… even if he loved the original series and loathed the 90s one that was my introduction to the character (and therefore has a special place in my heart).

Those Saturday afternoons (with Egg) that I spent going to used bookstores looking to rummage around in various dollar bins and after seeing a copy of an issue of Firestorm randomly within remembered that I kind of dug that character back when he was on the Challenge of the Superfriends cartoon. Suddenly, I had a goal to get his complete run (and even more reason to visit all those shops).

Being able to hand my dad a stack of Legion comics or The Great Darkness Saga trade so that he could see how his favorite characters from when he was a kid were doing.

Randomly finding out about Valiant Comics being in our backyard (at Dark Adventure Con) and even though I knew very, very little about them or their books traveling to a local con where the number 3 comic company decided to come and roll out some special posters and comics. It made me a fan of those creators and those characters to this very day.

It doesn’t need to be a specific book (though, each of those stories has a particular comic that sparks the memory), but I think the reason I still love to collect and read these stories is because it connects me to myself. A different version of myself throughout 30+ years of reading about these various characters. I may seem silly to those on the outside, but they have become as much of a part of me as anything else has.

Now I find myself trying to create my own comics. There’s a hope I could leave others with a little more than they started with. A chance to expand how and what they perceive comics to be.
For older readers, a return to glimpse that young person who first clutched those comics in their hands and read and reread them on a daily basis.

A true connection to the past and a promise of the future.

***

By the way, The Crossing is now available for sale 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

Worlds Upon Worlds

The Crossing deals directly with parallel worlds where all that we’re limited by is what crazy idea Robert, Sean, or myself can come up with. I’ve said before that it is truly our love-letter to shows like Sliders and… well, really anything that deals with a world not quite your own one. I just got done with the second issue script which has my mind going a million different directions on what other worlds we can visit, which ones help to tell the story we want to tell, and what aspects of them might just be cool to draw!

This year has kind of felt like we are in the wrong timeline, but writing the script has me mulling over parallel worlds in television and movies. Those stories can only show us our own flaws and the paths not taken. Sometimes because we knew that wasn’t the way to go and other times because we felt like we had no other choice. Those worlds give us a glimpse into what might have been, but can just as easily become true horror stories for the heroes.

Rick and Morty – Rick Potion No. 9

“Cronenberg World”

The thing that gets me about this episode is not even that Rick would screw things up to the point that everyone on the planet would become Cronenberg style creatures, but that his solution isn’t to find a way to fix them (at least after a couple of tries). No, he’s willing to just write the whole damn world off and start fresh on another Earth where his and Morty’s doppelgangers had recently died.

That’s both a hardcore and extremely practical way of looking at parallel worlds.

Fringe

The show that started as a pseudo-X-Files, but then evolved into something much, much more. Even as they hinted at the possibility of another Earth, it wasn’t until they showed the airships on Earth 2 (I can’t recall exactly what they called it) that it was truly revealed for all to see. At that point, it became a story about how the characters interact with this new world and how they interact with their doppelgangers.

Star Trek – Mirror, Mirror

If I strain my brain about this, I have to assume that this might be the very first thing I saw that dealt with a parallel world. The ideas presented here might not feel as groundbreaking today when viewed through a modern-day lens, but when it premiered and even more importantly to a young kid watching the rerun of it many decades later, it introduced an earworm of a concept that I still can’t get enough of.

 

Yesterday

I’m a long-time fan of the idea of changing one thing in a world and seeing what happens. You can take the most minor things and have it butterfly effect into something huge or you can take an idea that is already huge given our musical history – What if the Beatles never existed.

Not only does this movie do just that, it does it in a way that makes me smile at the craziness of such a world while also feeling for our hero who has finally found a way to get out of obscurity and the guilt he carries because he knows that he has just become a cover artist.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The Wish

Normally you wouldn’t immediately jump to a wish being granted suddenly causing everything to go sideways… unless you’ve played Dungeons and Dragons… in which case you are assured of that very thing happening. This Buffy episode got to take liberties with our well-known characters and flip the script with them so that some were now vampires, others were hardened warriors suddenly without a Scooby Gang to keep them grounded, and has one of the best moments where bad things happen to the very person who caused the world to change (to the point that when I was first watching I was like “well how the heck are we getting back to our world?”).

***
There are so many more worlds that have caught my imagination over the years. My hope is that with The Crossing, some of the cool ideas we have can inspire others to view our world in a little different way.
By the way, The Crossing is now available for sale 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

New Release – Tales from Vigilante City

Anthologies are a great smorgasbord of being able to get a wide breadth of stories that you might not have normally been exposed to. In addition, there may be an author or two whose story grabs the reader in a way that they want to seek other writings from them. For me, I just like a good short story. Something that can be consumed entirely in one sitting. Something that can ask a question or look at an event in a different way than a novel ever could. With novels, you have time. The writer can spin four or five different storylines and double that many characters over the course of three hundred pages. Short stories aren’t allowed those luxuries. You have to really focus in and cut through the noise.

I’m honored that my short story, “Anonymous”, has found a home in the Tales from Vigilante City Short Fiction Collection (which you can find here).

Vigilante City is the main city of the “gritty, street-level, superhero game set in the near future”, Survive This!! Vigilante City from Bloat Games. If it wasn’t apparent by the name, this is more on your Batman style of crime-fighter and less of the Green Lantern types (although the game allows you to tailor it to whatever style you want).

For my short story, I knew I wanted to submit something, but I didn’t have anything in the hopper that really fit into this genre. Weird that as much as I love comics, I tend not to write them in a prose format. And I was stumped with what to write. Was there a hero doing… something? Could I maybe write about a speedster? I love the Flash, but even that didn’t go anywhere.

Sometimes, though, you just need to let your subconscious mind work things out for you.

I’m not exactly sure why I started thinking less about the hero and more about the villains… but I do remember that I effectively wrote the story in the twenty-minute commute I had, literally speaking it out to an empty car in the hopes that I wouldn’t forget my idea before I could write it down. I wrote the first draft that night and finished it up only a couple of days later.

This is what I came up with: what if I wrote about a henchman instead of the big bad villain. What if this henchman has been doing this gig for long enough that he’s finally got that “one big score”? How would his story end?

Image by Allen_Henderson from Pixabay

***

“Anonymous” by John McGuire

“In Vigilante City, there are opportunities to be found whether you are on the right side of the law or the wrong side. However, the glitz and glamour of being the villain captured on the evening news isn’t all it is cracked up to be. And for one anonymous henchman, he has a plan to get his last score.”

***

In addition, I’m joined by some talented writers in the collection:

“I’m Not a Superhero” by Clare L. Deming

“BANG-BANG” by Egg Embry (hey, he writes for Tessera too!)

“The Icy Death of Dr. Furious” by Christopher Robin Negelein

“Marshwalk” by ‘Aerzyk’ Thomas Parent

“Midnight Ace and The Atomic Engine” by James M. Spahn

***

I just want to thank the guys and gals over at Bloat Games again. It’s very cool to get to play a bit in this kind of world! And remember, you can purchase it here!

***

John McGuire is 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

Seven Years and Counting

I totally forgot about the anniversary of this site and this blog last week. As I was sitting here, thinking about what I might blog on tonight, I went looking through my old posts to see if anything needed to be followed up on, and saw that very first one was posted on 10/16/13.

I think I read somewhere that after 7 years all the cells in your body have died and new cells have taken their place… so in a way, you are a completely new person. After 7 years of blogging and writing (more importantly) I feel that to some level and then not so much on other levels. Sometimes the words for the blog come very easy and I get three or four written and put in the bank. Other times I’m reminded that the single most horrific thing in the world is a blank computer screen staring back at you. It’s hard to overcome.

Either way, I like to use these anniversary posts to look back at my posts over the last year and highlight a couple I thought were good… maybe you missed them, maybe you read them, but either way, I like them.

 

The Darkest Timeline?

Weirdly, this one feels very timely as my Atlanta Braves just lost in Game 7 of the NLCS. I’m not sure that it is a complete disaster, but after being up 3 games to 1, it doesn’t feel great. This was my attempt to try and excise some sports demons. If I say it aloud I can take any lingering power it might still have over me and the team… right?

Now, where does this weekend’s game belong on this list?

 

Parallels

I’ve always been fascinated by other paths we might have taken. Movies like Sliding Doors or Run Lola Run are right in my wheelhouse as they both ask and answer all those questions. So when it came time to dip my feet into the Science Fiction world, I knew that the book I wrote would deal with the same kind of ideas. Because, at their core, our decisions are certainly a way to  define us. They create our memories, which in turn inform every decision we make thereafter.

To Become A Supervillain

My feeble attempt to document some of the things we might need to avoid during the pandemic for fear that all this isolation might lead to my wife becoming a supervillain. There are common signs that we should all make ourselves familiar with, lest we be in the presence of the next BIG BAD! A big part of me thinking I should go back to this at some point and flesh these out a little more… maybe even like a miniature survival guide (How Not To Become A Supervillain!).

 

COVID Through the Eyes of a Cat

As I write this, Westley is laying on one of my arms not feeling all that great (his pancreatitis has flared up again, so the fun of giving a cat multiple pills multiple times a day will continue in this house for a couple of weeks! Still, this post is about how my two cats are thinking about their Humans being home all the time.

 

***

Also, just a reminder that my newest book, The Echo Effect is newly released and only $2.99 for the remainder of October! Check it out here!
***

John McGuire is 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 EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Interview with Wishful Thinking’s Jack Raines

A little while back I ran across a comic on Kickstarter that just spoke to me: Wishful Thinking. The story was about a ex-Genie who becomes a wish consultant. That Kickstarter went on to fund, and now Wishful Thinking is back with their second issue on Kickstarter.

Jack was kind enough to take a few minutes and let me pester him with questions.

At what point did you sit down and think “I want to be a comic writer?”?
When I was a senior in high school I finally got my license. It was during the same year I learned my small southern town had a comic shop! I hadn’t read a comic in years, at the time I was more interested in manga just cause it was more available online at the time. So when I stepped into my LCS for the first time I was greeted with a wealth of cape comics (superhero comics are my FAVORITE), most notably Mark Waid’s Daredevil, Scott Snyders Batman, and Matt Fractions Hawkeye. Their ability to weave imagery with narrative made it hard to put those books down. When I learned Scott Snyder would be in Charolette for HeroesCon I just had to go.
There I met so many creators both professional and independent that were more welcoming than I could believe. Everyone was so down to Earth and there to showcase/talk about what they loved. It was then I learned that anyone could be in this business, and that’s when I started practicing turning my story ideas into comic form.
I’m a big fan of all those comics, too! And Mark Waid’s run on The Flash is by far and away my favorite run on the character. Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite writer/artist or creator?
Scott Snyder has been both my favorite creator and biggest inspiration. Everything connects in these wild stories he puts out in such a complete way, all while being a total class act with his readers!
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 hard, especially now that I’ve started working 3rd shift and going to school. My biggest key to success is writing down a list of things to do each day. I try to go for 4 things max, and plan my week accordingly. I have a white board next to my desk for this purpose. If it’s been written down I get a sense of satisfaction from crossing it out, and it keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. Doubt I could do what I do without a calendar of some sorts!
I do much the same thing with my to do tasks, but sadly the thing that probably is the hardest to figure out is promotion. It’s often difficult to get word out about independent comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?
Social media is tough for me. I’m moreso a lurker than anything else so it’s been a challenge getting myself out there. So far my biggest success social media-wise has been on Instagram, but even then it’s hard to fight against the algorithm to get the word out there. My mailing list has been the best and my most favorite way to connect with readers. It feels more personal which allows me to write more about what these projects mean to me as well as what I’m up to.
What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?
Little of column A and a little of column B. Often my story can change depending on how the pages look. I like leaving character appearance to the artist’s discretion. I’ll write about their personality and demeanor, then it’ll be up to Trigo to handle the rest. When seeing how he frames each panel and designs these characters I find new avenues to take the story. So even if I am a few issues ahead I usually end up rewriting it by the time we get there.  The collaboration between my crew (Carlos, Ester, and Justin) makes writing fresh and exciting!

Wishful Thinking Issue 2, Page 1

I love the idea of Wishful Thinking! What inspired you to write Wishful Thinking?
Thank you! I was introduced to urban fantasy through The Dresden Files. It’s really fun to think of how fantasy creatures would interact with our society. I knew that I wanted my story to be under the same genre, but didn’t know the specifics.
I then began thinking about what I wanted to write about. What kind of feeling did I want to convey? During the time of Wishful Thinkings’ inception, I was around 23, working as a custodian, and not having a solid idea of how I wanted to tackle my goals. I didn’t have much of a grasp on myself either, so the thing I wanted to write about most was identity. It was something everyone struggles with, and I wanted to personify that conflict through comic form.
Around that time I caught wind of a 6-page story contest. The top 3 would get looked at by an editor from some indie publisher (it’s been too long I can’t remember!). I’m not entirely sure what I was looking at when I came up with this, but I remember thinking of how if a djinn was a human it’d be Jim. Why would a genie need a human name? Well, I guess if he wasn’t a genie anymore. What would he do if he wasn’t a genie? Probably the only thing he knows how to do, help with wishes. When I told my buddy this he gave me the name for Jim’s business, Wishful Thinking, and the rest was history.
What’s been the reaction to the book?
So far I’ve heard nothing but compliments!  This project has been in development for 3 years, and seeing that work pay off in the form of satisfied readers has been a blessing. It makes all the stress worth it lemme tell ya! This issue dives more into the fantasy side of things and is a bit of a bigger story than the first one. Very curious on how it’ll be received!
Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?
Definitely identity, as it’s still something I’m figuring out.  It’s a thing everyone must go through on their own, and can only be found with complete honesty of one’s self. I think Wishful Thinking and my webcomic, Spectre Protector (illustrated by Sarah Burgess) talk of different methods of searching for that identity.
You ran your first Kickstarter for issue #1 and funded. I’m interested in the idea that you weren’t using the Kickstarter to fund the comic but instead used it to “introduce” yourself to the greater comic community. Do you feel like you succeeded in that goal?
Yes, I believe it did a good job. It definitely exceeded my expectations for my first Kickstarter! I tried to play it as safe as possible so that I can just get used to running a campaign.
I intend to carry that energy through future Kickstarters. In my opinion, it’s only to fair to fund as much of the book myself before going to Kickstarter. I want you to know this is a story I believe is worth telling! It also helps speed up the fulfillment process which is a plus.

Wishful Thinking Issue 2, Page 2

I’ve found that the difference between having the book done or still waiting on the book to finish after the Kickstarter can be stressful, so I’m going to try and have any future issues done before then. Now that you’ve just launched your second issue on Kickstarter, what have you learned about the process of Kickstarter? Something that afterward you “wished” you knew?
The biggest thing I learned was the process of shipping these books out. I haven’t heard any complaints about damages or packages that never showed up so I’m glad all was well on that front. It was pretty nerve-wracking, but now that I’ve done it once I feel more comfortable with all that’s involved in shipping, and now that I know all the steps I can better plan out how to go about them without any need for stressful crunch time.
What’s the overall plan with Wishful Thinking? Do you have an overall target for the number of issues?
I’m shooting for 7 issues, each one being roughly 32-36 pages long. I have other stories to tell in this world, and if it continues to gain support I wouldn’t mind diving into that. For now though 7 issues is the plan!
Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about working with Carlos Trigo, the artist on Wishful Thinking.
He’s been amazing throughout the whole process! I tend to give my artists a lot of space in the design department (the only character I’ve been picky on is Jim), and he’s given new light to each character he touches. For instance, the bank teller in this story doesn’t have a name. I just refer to her as Teller given that she’s just a side character. Actually, she used to be a he until Carlos suggested otherwise. After seeing what he’s done with the teller and how her personality comes alive in the panels I was inspired to write her a bigger role in the next issue! His experience has helped greatly when it came to refining how I structure my panels. I feel with each new issue I grow a bit more as a writer thanks to his, Ester, and Justins collaborative efforts.
If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?
Honestly, I don’t have anything to tell 16-year-old Jack. Maybe ask if we can switch places? All he had to do was play video games and go to school. No bills no nothin…lucky dog.
Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?
Unfortunately, I don’t have much time for them now, but I do really love fighting games. That community has the same vibe as comics. I ran an online tournament with a friend called Bapmasters and met so many cool people! That lead me to go to Chicago to see a tournament live, it was an amazing experience. I’m not too good at them (yet) but I love figuring them out.
Other than that I’m into the gym and hiking. Both are great ways to clear my head. I would recommend either of them to anyone going through a tough time right now. I promise getting your body moving will provide some excellent mental results! Especially when you see physical improvements.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Where’s the best place to find out more about Wishful Thinking and maybe any other projects you have in the pipeline?
The best place would be my email list! During campaign times I try to post once a week. Non-campaign times every other week. That’s if you want to see progress on my work. If you just want to chat with me feel free to find me on twitter @mysticmike8 or instagram @zach_brains.
I have a webcomic that’s free to read titled Spectre Protector. It’s about a ghost named Vera accidentally becoming the superpowers to a high schooler named Liam. Link is below!
Jack Raines is a comic book writer based in Greenville SC. When he’s not writing stories such as Wishful Thinking or Spectre Protector, you can find him writing mile-long notes trying to understand networking.
***
Thanks again, Jack! You can check out Jack Raines latest Kickstarter for Wishful Thinking #2 right here!

Variant Cover by artists Ted Brandt (@ten_bandits) and Ro Stein(RoStein404)

***
Also, just a reminder that my newest book, The Echo Effect is newly released and only $0.99 for the first week! Check it out here!
***

John McGuire is 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 EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Comics Today

Almost a year ago I wrote a post about how I was a part of the problem when it came to potential problems in the comic industry. I listed a myriad of ways that I consume my comics, but what it boiled down to was that the act of buying single issues of 30 comics a month has long gone the way of the dodo for me. -(see this blog post for more on that I’m the Problem).

In light of the recent layoffs at DC Comics (and across the greater businesses that own them), so many people want to point out the problems with the industry right now. They are ready to pin the problem on one or two reasons… which is really simplistic when you think about it. In almost any other company, when there are layoffs, it typically is due to many things. In fact, many times it might even have less to do with what is happening in the here and now and go back to something that was set into motion months (or years) previous.

The thing is, I don’t have any great insight either… not really. I’ve done a handful of independent comics. I know a couple of people who have done work for Marvel and DC. At the end of the day, I’m a reader and consumer of the product. And just like last year when the realization hit me that I might be (a part of) the problem, someone else posted something that made me start thinking about the current titles I get month in and month out.

The question was simple – if Marvel and DC had to reboot everything and you had very little information on what was going on with the relaunch aside from the titles, what comics are you almost certainly still going to read.

It made me think for a minute as there are comics over the years that I have loved in the moment, or maybe I collected for 200 issues, or maybe the title just keeps getting canceled on me every so often, but I still like to support it. There are those comics I like a lot, but maybe don’t read anymore because the creative team changed at some point and my interest waned. There are certain spots where a comic got relaunched and I used that as my jumping-off point.

What comics would I stick by no matter what in this weird/strange dystopian world?

Avengers

This is the comic for me. It was my first favorite comic beating out Spider-Man and Transformers. I’ve always collected it save for about six months right after I started college when I trimmed my comic buying down to one singular comic during that time (more on that in a minute). Avengers is the comic that I currently have a full run from issue 190 until today (500+ issues there) and I have my oldest comic of my collection – Avengers #9

Good storylines or bad ones, I’m all-in with Avengers.

The Flash

This is my DC title. While my collection doesn’t go back as far as my Avengers one, I also have a complete run of the Wally West Flash. If you watched Justice League Animated Series, he was your Flash. The idea that he is a guy who “just” runs fast always has cracked me up. He is so much more than that. He is the heartbeat of the DC Universe in my mind. He has the second-best rogues gallery of anyone in that universe (Batman gets the automatic nod for first place). The stories told about him are about Hope and love and family which sometimes is hard to get from comic books. Even now with Barry Allen having returned to the prime Flash role, I love the book.

It also doesn’t hurt that two of my favorite writers, Mark Waid and Geoff Johns have epic runs on the book.

The New Warriors

This would be with the caveat that it would have to be some version of the original team. This was a 90s comic through and through and yet I loved these mismatched characters. You might even argue that the one character with the most name recognition outside of comics, Firestar, was someone, who up till that point, had been underused and underdeveloped. The whole teenagers banding together to prove something to the world and to themselves was excellent.

This was the one comic that I never stopped buying. It’s also the one comic that after that initial 75 issue run has been brought back multiple times to little fanfare. I’m not sure if it just doesn’t have that same magic or if it was a product of its time and that doesn’t work anymore or what.

 

Those three are my absolutes, but there are also that next level of comics that I would think long and hard about – The Fantastic Four, Green Lantern, Legion of the Super-Heroes, Aquaman, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

So maybe there is hope for me and the industry at large. It’s got problems, but that doesn’t mean it’s beyond repair. We just have to remember why we fell in love with it in the first place.

 

***

John McGuire is 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 EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

How To Get Published Panels

I was looking at my list of blogs I’d sketched out back in December. I don’t normally do that, but sometimes it’s not so easy to figure out what a particular week’s blog may end up being about. So I decided to plan some out. I glanced at it today and realized that there were supposed to be a few convention reviews on there, but seeing as conventions have all pretty much been canceled, that’s not going to happen

But then I realized that even not going to a convention, there are similar things that I’ve heard at the How to Get Published In Comics style panels over the years.

Here’s the thing, I’ve been reading comics since I was 11. I started writing adventures of some of my own characters around this very same time in a blue notebook that I still have. Yeah, they were highly influenced by the Marvel comics I read at the time, and looking back there is very little in the way of story. More of this guy fights this guy and then stuff happens.

But wanting to write comics has been in my blood since back then. In high school, I wrote up an Image Comics style pitch and full script (even if I didn’t know what that was supposed to really be) for a character called Knightmare (see, he was a Knight, but also would deal with supernatural things… things that go bump in the “Night” – I’m so clever). Another time I entered a Wizard Magazine contest to write a Captain America story… I never even got a rejection letter for that one.

It all seemed like this nebulous idea. How do you get into comics? How do you break-in, especially when you can’t even draw stick figures? So when I really started going to conventions, I pretty much would always go to the panels that talked about Breaking In. Finally! Here was the secret formula for getting my big toe in the door. Yet, they typically didn’t have that “How to guide” that I was hoping for.

Heck, one of them once said (I can’t remember which writer said it) “The joke in the industry is that once someone breaks into comics, they close that door so no one else can get in the same way.

Most of them seemed to be summed up in a couple of sentences:

  • Time is the hardest thing to come by.
  • You learn by doing it.
  • Finish the dang thing.

And then? Who knows? Some people got in because they lived in New York. Some got in because they knew someone. And one writer got in because he worked in a coffee shop and a comic writer was one of his customers and they hit it off.

None of these things are very helpful (well, the first three are helpful in getting better).

Other panels at times were much more South Parkian:

  • Draw something
  • ???
  • Profit

There was a lot fo talk (in some of the Indy comic panels as well) where they brought up social media, but even that wasn’t overly helpful:

  • It’s important.
  • You need to do it.
  • Just do it.
  • It’s important.

All of these suffer from the same problem: there is never much in the way of details. Like what exactly are we supposed to be doing? One person mentions Twitter and then three others say they never use it. One person mentions Instagram and 2 others say you need to be an artist for that to work. Others say Facebook and then a bunch mention that is only for “real” friends.

Where are the examples? The helpful guides? What are the steps that you took? What are the postings you did that made ripples? What times did you post where it was better than other times?

Of course, then they shrug and say “just keep at it” and you’ll see!

Details are what is lacking. We speak in generalities about things that aren’t ethereal, plucked from when the world was new. Give me a step by step. What did you do?

And yes, not everything is going to work for everyone, but there is a roadmap you could at least give people, even if the edges are filled in completely and the scale is wrong.

A couple of Dragon Cons ago there was a panel on publishing through one of the Indy comics. In it, I learned that the best way to get an Indy book is to work for Marvel and DC first.

Blink… blink…

So get into the places that NO ONE can tell me how to get into, just so I can potentially work with one of the Indies? How does that make sense?

Here’s the thing, I don’t know the answers. I know there are things I should have done (probably), but who knows? Really, who knows? So my own answers based on nothing but feeling a little better about my own efforts:

  • Write something.
  • Finish that something.
  • Say f-it and figure out a way to publish it yourself.

At this point, with Kickstarter, you can potentially do it. Save money to hire an artist if you are a writer. If you are an artist, maybe befriend one of us writers to have an extra set of eyes. But put it out there. You sitting on your product isn’t going to do anything for you. And it is hard to push the publish button. It’s hard to be out there in front of people potentially having them hate what you’re doing. But it’s better than the alternative of not doing something.

As to dreams of writing for the Big 2… yeah, maybe, but at the very least I’m doing something. That’s a start.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Four More Comics You Should be Reading

I recently sent out the call to my mailing list to help me fill in some additional gaps in my reading lists during this time of staying home as much as we can. I got a couple of good ideas, but it also occurred to me that I haven’t talked about the comics I’ve been reading over the last few months.

Letter 44

 

From Oni Press, this comic is based on the idea that a new President of the United States has just assumed the office, and his predecessor has left him a letter detailing that an alien object has been spotted in the Asteroid Belt. In addition, there is a group of astronauts on their way to study the object/ship/whatever it is. That was enough to get me to pick up the book, but what I wasn’t expecting is that while you spend time with those brave souls who are clearly on a one-way mission to hopefully keep humanity safe… this book is a political maze as well where the current President suddenly has to face the reality that so many things he ran on no longer can be the focus. He has to struggle with whether or not to keep this great secret, and potentially deal with a former President who thinks he’s still running things.

I’ve read the first 2 trades so far and will be ordering the other 4 here very shortly.

 

Spider-Man: Life Story

 

Spider-Man is my favorite character in all of comics. This particular six-issue limited series is a love-letter to all the ages of the character. We follow a Peter Parker who ages in real-time with each issue focusing on a different decade of his life. Suddenly, instead of having him either a teenager or a twenty-something, we can see him grow old which creates a version of the character that is so true to his core it made me wish we’d hung out in each decade for a little while longer. As is the story acts as something of a “Greatest Hits Album” for the character by leaning in on some of the most iconic stories told throughout his history.

It was a fun telling/retelling of those moments that I devoured in the course of a couple of hours one Saturday afternoon and reminded me why I love this character so much.

 

Die

 

If you grew up in the 80s, you probably remember the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon where a group of kids get sucked into a fantasy world and are forced to fight the evil denizens in the hopes of finding a way home. Die basically takes that premise, doesn’t show you exactly how they get back, and then flashes forward by 20 years to tell the story of these very damaged individuals who find themselves sucked back into that fantasy world they’d thought (hoped) they’d left behind. Reading it, I was reminded of those conversations I had as a kid about what would we do if something like that happened to us. But I’m pretty sure my 13-year-old self wouldn’t have ever imagined anything quite so dark.

Regardless, I’m invested in the characters and the world. I just received the second trade and will probably bust it open this weekend.

 

Legion of Super-Heroes – The Great Darkness Saga

 

One of the cool things, when I was first starting to get into comics, was finding out my dad had been a comic reader growing up. His favorite series was the Legion of Super-Heroes, and on car rides, he would tell me the various stories he remembered of this group of teens who protected the future of the DC Universe. It wasn’t until the reboot of the 90s that I really got into the comic, but I immediately understood the appeal.

This particular story collects the Legions’ first encounter with Darkseid. The trade is a bit of a sprawling beast because of the various little bits and pieces which built over the course of a year, you really get a chance to learn about the characters prior to the massive battle(s) that are just on the horizon. I did wonder what it would have been like to have been reading these comics month in and month out without having any foreknowledge about who may be on the horizon. As it was, this was a great snapshot of those early 80s Legionnaires.

 

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Kickstart the Comic – Maybe Someday

Anthologies are wonderful, strange, unnerving, hopeful, and a thousand other adjectives to describe them… things. You take all these pieces and cobble them together (in a good way) to be something that is more than they were before. In comics and in prose, they are amazing opportunities to practice your craft because you don’t have to worry as much about your story being the only thing holding the book together. Each party gets to come together and share the load. For the reader, you get so many possibilities to spark your own imagination.

 

Cover art by Max Dunbar with colors by Espen Grundetjern. Logo and cover design by Tim Daniel.

***

Maybe Someday

Publisher – Tyler and Wendy Chin-Tanner

Writers & Artists – Literally too many to name!

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Thursday, July 2, 2020, at 5:00 PM EDT.

***

The Pitch:

MAYBE SOMEDAY: STORIES OF PROMISE, VISIONS OF HOPE is a full-color anthology featuring over 25 inspiring stories about a brighter future. It is also the sequel to the New York Times featured and Ringo Award Nominated anthology, ALL WE EVER WANTED.

 

The Story:

Like its predecessor, MAYBE SOMEDAY features stories full of hope. Instead of focusing on dystopian fiction, these stories help show the path forward to a better world.

 

John’s Thoughts:

My first couple of comic stories were in a black and white anthology by Terminus Media. The excitement as you are building your own story… your own world and then see other people’s contributions cannot be understated. So I’m always interested in anthologies from that point of view if nothing else.

The other thing is that it offers the potential for discovery. I know that many times in anthology books I’ve stumbled upon a story that really sat with me and suddenly I’m trying to find anything else they might have done. I can’t imagine that not happening with a collection like this.

To Wish Impossible Things” by Matt Miner and Rod Reis

The Rewards:

There aren’t a ton of high-end Reward levels as this is a campaign focused on the book itself. If you are looking for an easy entry point, there is the $12 digital level and $25 will get you the print copy. Since this is the second anthology they’ve done at $20 (digital) and $40 (print) you can play catch up and get both. While the $65 gets you Maybe Someday, All We Ever Wanted, This Nightmare Kills Fascists, and Loved & Lost. At the time of this writing, they are about 60% of their way to their overall goal of $25,000 with 22 days to go.

 

The Verdict:

This is one of those where I think you have to at least click on the link and scroll down the page. I have no idea what you read, but I have no doubt that not only are you already a fan of someone on this list, many of the other teams probably sit on your shelves. This is going to be like a present to yourself that is a box within a box within a box. You have no idea what each team is going to bring… but I’m positive you’re going to find a new favorite somewhere in the 25 different stories!

“Allison Wonderland” by Eric Palicki and Sally Jane Thompson

***

Be sure to check out the Kickstarter here!

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

To Become A Super-Villain

I think the shelter in place has pushed my wife over the edge. Much like many people, it is just the two of us in the house (well, plus the two cats). And while we’re both fortunate to be able to do our jobs from home, one of the aspects of that is the close proximity to each other without any real break. We’re in each other’s heads, either guessing or just preemptively saying things the other is currently thinking.

So maybe it is my fault that she’s gone over the edge.

I immediately commented that this is the way super-villains are created. When they can no longer deal with what’s going on around them, the mind seems to go little by little until only plans for grand schemes might remain. I fear I might not be able to stop her when she turns her attention to world domination. But there may be a solution to all of this, I just need to avoid completing her journey to the Dark Side, as it were.

This moment is merely the catalyst, something temporary, fleeting, but it could be the beginning. I consulted my reference tomes, the ones I’ve read for 30 years, in order to see what I must avoid doing to set her off any further.

1 – Avoid large vats of chemicals.

This one is a sure-fire way to push the person into full-on villainy. Now, the Joker is probably the biggest example of showing that falling into the chemical bath messes up your whole world, but I’d argue he was well on his way down this path before the fall. However, his one-time girl, Harley Quiin is another story. She might have come back from his manipulations, but the dive truly tipped the scales too far.

2 – Her Name Doesn’t Translate to Something that could also be a codename.

The Rainbow Raider’s real name was Roy G. Bivolo (he shoots rainbow powers).

The Riddler’s real name is Edward Nigma (E.Nigma).

The DC villain who builds futuristic devices was named Thomas Oscar Morrow (T.O. Morrow).

Hmm… Courtney McGuire doesn’t immediately bring anything to mind, so maybe that’s safe enough.

3 – Don’t allow her to have a fascination for any particular animal.

There is a huge list of animal-based villains: Killer Moth, Vulture, Beetle, Swarm, Catwoman, Doctor Octopus, Cheetah…

Now she does love animals and we do have a pair of cats. She used to do volunteer work for an animal shelter. One night, while working late on a new database-

Wait! Gotta stop myself before I write her origin story into being. OK. I’ll have to keep an eye on that possibility.

4 – Don’t let her go off on a journey of self-discovery only to find out that she is really harnessing some power from a League of Assassins or monks who provide her with battle armor.

Doctor Doom

Ra’s al Ghul

Since we are sheltered-in-place, I suspect any random travels to very remote portions of the world are off the table.

5 – Don’t let her go around changing the past.

Abra Kadabra, Kang the Conqueror, The Reverse Flash… these people all either come from a future to our time in order to cause havoc or play with us because they know what is going to happen, so they can ensure they reap the most benefit out of that.

Now, while I don’t specifically know that she’s not a time traveller from the future, I don’t specifically know she’s not either. Of all the scenarios, this one seems the most plausible. I’ll have to use some of my downtime to thoroughly search the house for her time platform or cosmic tradmill.

***

Overall, she’s not checking any of the boxes… yet… so maybe this is just an isolated incident. But I’ll continue to keep the situation monitored. As long as she doesn’t realize she’s being watched, she may trip up yet.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Kickstart the Comic – Burlap Issues 1-4

Sometimes when I get notifications in my email that other people I follow on Kickstarter. They populate my inbox to the point that I can’t always keep up with all of them. But, with some diligence I do my best to at least look at the various projects and see if they interest me in any way. It can be a title or an image or even the cost which grabs my attention and forces me to read further. Regardless, I never know what is in store for me with such a scattershot approach to potentially finding these new indie comics.

Burlap did something though. It kinda stuck in my brain. Not at the forefront, but just at the edges of my mind. That thought of a slasher killer being the potential hero of the story. It’s enough to plant that seed in my mind, telling me to check it out.

***

Burlap Issues 1-4

Writer/Publisher – Jesse James Baer

Artist – Zoran Jovici

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Thursday, April 16, 2020, at 4:45 AM EDT.

***

The Pitch:

The idea was to take the slasher formula we all know and love and flip it on it’s head. This go around, instead of a silent, masked killer stalking and executing stoned teenagers or long lost siblings our slasher killer is the hero! And our doomed victims are the series villains!

 

The Story:

It is fall of 1995 in a small town in New Jersey, where a vicious gang of serial killers, led by the charismatic psychopath Cottontail, are spreading madness and bloodshed. But something happens Cottontail did not intend when he comes face to face with BURLAP, a silent, masked killer with a mission of his own; destroy Cottontail and all of his followers. As the mayhem ensues Cottontail comes to realize this is no random vigilante, but a ghost from the past who will stop at nothing to make Cottontail and his lunatics pay for what they did to him. So begins a twisted tale of murder, revenge ghosts, gypsy curses, forbidden romance…and a homicidal Easter Bunny.

 

John’s Thoughts:

A black and white horror comic that focuses on a slasher trying to get revenge on the maniacs (in masks) who did him wrong. That was enough to color me intrigued. Taking a look at the artwork, there is an unsettling feeling as you see these psychos go about terrorizing a mother and son. The idea that one of them is dressed as a clown who both terrifies and also, somehow, is there to try and help cheer the kid up, tweaks the brain a little bit.

And I think that’s what I’m expecting from the comic – something that is going to tweak my brain over the course of the four issues.

The Rewards:

To get the full series will cost you $5 (digital) or $20 (print). As you move up the tiers there are opportunities to get some very unique things. At $125 you get a Custom Made Burlap Mask Bust with Stand. Nothing like having your own slasher movie mask on your shelf! And, it wouldn’t be a horror comic without an opportunity to have a role where you get killed. At $150, you get to have a personal commission where your comic version gets killed!

 

The Verdict:

They have passed their overall goal, which is no guarantee in these times we find ourselves living in. As of this post, there are eight days left for them to run the score up… so to speak. Mostly, I’d say if horror comics are in your wheelhouse, then you may want to check this one out. I know I’m looking forward to reading it.

***

Be sure to check out the Kickstarter here!

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

In A World

The Crossing Kickstarter is LIVE

Go here and check out the Kickstarter for the Crossing (Co-created by Robert Jeffrey II and Sean Hill and in conjunction with 133art).

***

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The world being where it is at right now makes it weird to talk about anything other than the virus. I don’t know whether to hide away in a bunker or what these days. I just hope everyone out there stays safe. We’ll push through this and come out stronger on the other side.

***

Given that the Crossing is still going on its Kickstarter, my plan this week was to write about Parallel Worlds and those instances in media that originally drew me to them. Now, many of us would rather be in one of a million different timelines other than this one…

I’m not going to list Sliders here because The Crossing is a love letter to that show. Robert even went so far as to live commentary the pilot while waiting on the side of the road for a tow truck. But it isn’t the only thing that I’ve found over the years that makes for good watching.

Coherence

The basic plot is that a group of friends is having a dinner party when a comet passes overhead. They soon discover that the comet has split their reality so that there are other versions of themselves.

Now, that’s the overall story, but watching the movie it is really about paranoia. How do you really know the person beside you is who they say they are? How do you know if their version of reality is the same as your own? The movie twists and turns so that the audience is a part of the process, trying to discern not why this has happened, but how to get back to their own house before the comet finishes its path, potentially trapping them in a reality that was never their own.

Coherence deals with the parallel worlds idea on a close to the ground level. There are no crazy worlds where dinosaurs still exist or one where the Ice Age never ended. This is our world… the one just outside our window.

Maybe.

Sliding Doors

Sliding Doors takes the idea that one moment, one decision, can change your entire life. But the interesting thing is that you get to see what happens in both timelines as the story progresses. We all ask What If questions all the time. In fact, so much of our lives are based on decisions we made without knowing what the outcome might even be. We trusted our past selves to get it right and hoped for the best. Yet this movie doesn’t shy away from showing you that life not only can be very messy, but that being able to ask that question of What If, may not always give you the result you were looking for in the first place.

The nice thing about Sliding Doors is that it doesn’t dwell into the science fiction aspect of things. One might say that there is no parallel world but only a story-telling device. Either way, it is a movie that does the path not taken in a way not normally seen.

Exiles

Not a movie but a comic book series. It takes the many-worlds concept and builds a superhero team (with a focus on X-Men characters) to world-hop throughout the infinite realities trying to fix something in each of them that was broken. If you are a long-time reader of Marvel comics, some of the scenarios they play out are things you might have read… that instead went very wrong in this world.

One of the other bits I really enjoyed was the slightly rotating cast of characters. Throughout the series, there are normally 6 members of the team, but through the 100+ issues, aside from Blink, the rest of the team is filled in with other refugees from these other worlds. This gives the writers the opportunity to tell a complete story arc with these superheroes in a way that a normal comic rarely can. They live, love, and in some cases die in the course of their adventures.

***

If you are a fan of this stuff like I am, you could do worse than to look up the movies or the comics and spending some time in another world(s).

Take care of yourselves!

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com