Dragon Con 2018 – Wish You Were There

 

It’s been a while. No, not just the 365ish days since the last Dragon Con. No, it’s been over a decade since the last time I missed a Dragon Con.

(Duty calls with a family wedding in Dallas this weekend.)

It’s a weird feeling to be only a day or so away from it and not be prepping to go. You know, looking over the schedule, picking literally every panel I might possibly want to go to no matter if it interfere’s with 3 other ones.

The last time I missed the convention was a very different time. I wrote a bit about it here, but it was during a time when I think I went to Dragon Con because to not go to Dragon Con wasn’t an option in my mind. Most of my friends had long since stopped going. And while I would run into the occasional person I knew, it just wasn’t the same. You know, it’s not as much fun (for me at least) if you don’t have that person you can tap on the shoulder and show them the coolest costume or talk about the panel you both had just gotten out of. Or even listen to someone else’s Con experience over Lunch or Dinner.

So when I missed that one (about 15 years ago due to another family wedding), it was a bummer, but at the same time, it felt like less of a sacrifice than it had in like year 2 or 3 of trying to go.

So I thought I would offer a few Hacks for Dragon Con. Most people who have gone in the past probably know these things. But it is never bad to have a reminder.

This will feel like it is 2 feet from your head!

***

Dragon Con Hack #1 – The secret is – you’re going to get tired. It’s hot in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend. Dragon Con isn’t like other conventions that might be more centrally located. It is spread out over a few blocks at a myriad of hotels. So you get out of one panel and suddenly realize that the next one is on the other side of the world and you need to grab a snack and… what do you do?

Well, if you had planned some backup panels you could do everything you need to and maybe not be a sweaty mess when you get there.

***

Dragon Con Hack #2 – Make solid plans with people. If you leave things up to Fate then you are just asking to eat your sandwich by yourself.

So many people have so many things pulling their attention. So if you are able, get that stuff locked in early.

***

Dragon Con Hack #3 – Do not go to the Dealer’s Room on Saturday.

Seriously, you are just asking for trouble. You won’t be able to move, and if you are anything like me, you will feel like you’re stopping up the entire aisle if you look at a booth. Go on Friday if you can or Monday if you are able as those are the slower of the two days (or, possibly during the parade, you might beat the rush for the day).

The Dealers Room on Saturday.

***

Dragon Con Hack #4 – The map is your friend.

Whether it is on the app or the paper version, refer to the damn thing. I swear it feels like they move everything around every couple of years. So if you are wondering where the Walk of Fame is, it might not be your memory… it might have just moved.

***

Dragon Con Hack #5 – The skywalks on Saturday and Sunday are going to be full… they are not the quicker ways anymore.

While you do get hotter and will sweat more, use the outside sidewalks to go between the hotels. Too many times I’ve tried to take a Skywalk from one hotel to the next only to have to wait because of capacity or because people have forgotten how to actually walk or… I honestly don’t know. Spare yourself a headache.

***

I hope everyone has a great time this year. I’ll miss you, but look forward to seeing you again next year! And make sure you check out Jeremy Neill and Amanda Makepeace’s work at the Art Show!

***

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

Gen Con 2018 Recap – Part Two

You can read part one here.

Day 2 (Cont)

Eclipse Phase

There are two potential hurdles when playing new games:

You are unfamiliar with the mechanics of the system.

By that, I mean actually how to play. What stats do what thing. What should you roll if you want to attack or climb a wall or hide. Many times you can lean on your overall knowledge to get you by. Other times you may not be successful.

You are unfamiliar with the language of the game.

D&D is fantasy – most of the stuff is easy enough to understand. Vampire the Masquerade is set in the modern world. But when you start getting into some of the science fiction settings, the language gets… complicated.

So that was the issue with Eclipse Phase. It is a science fiction setting with a language all its own and a ton of stats and skills that don’t always jump out at you as “Use me to do X thing!” It was a 2-hour session that really needed to be 4 hours if they are hoping for you to “get it”.

Luckily, our friend Nate has promised to run a game of it for us at some point in the future – so the nail has not been put in this coffin by any stretch.

Afterverse

Another sci-fi setting that was a bit easier to understand. The Game Master was actually the creator of the game (and is in the process of running a Kickstarter for the launch of the game if you want to check it out here!). The game ran fairly smoothly with only a couple of minor hiccups. During the course of the game, the GM (who was recording) had to leave a note to himself about a particular rule call. We were all interested in the potential for space combat (which sadly the adventure we played didn’t have) as he mentioned that he thought his system played pretty well on that front (everyone has something to do – as opposed to just having the pilot and maybe gunner being the only important jobs).

After the game, we chatted with him for a bit. He’s planning on running a few games at Dragon Con, so if you’re interested in checking out something completely brand new – check it out.

 

Day 3

Shadows of Esteren

Last year Lee mentioned that there was so much to see in the dealer’s room, that in order to actually make your way through it you had to have a high caliber for the artwork used to even bother checking out your project. However, even that doesn’t work because everyone has beautiful stuff adorning their booths, books, posters, and everything else. Shadows of Esteren has all of this in spades and we both lingered near their booth last year, but never pulled the trigger on buying any of their stuff.

Cut to this year, where we had a non-standard session. I believe one dice was rolled during the entirety of two hours. The conceit was that our session was actually one happening in the middle of a longer campaign, but that this particular session would be a spotlight on one character and their past. The other players at the table would then play other roles (in this case, a sister, a mother, a brother of the main character). The hope was through these various little scenes the main person would gain some insight about their charact, and the other players would become invested in that story.

Now for some people that might not work, but for Lee and I (Egg was detained elsewhere), it really got us thinking about stories, ideas for how to incorporate these type of scenarios in our home games. And while I wasn’t 100% on how the game was going to work (and since we really didn’t get to see the mechanics of the system, we may need to come back to this one at the next convention).

Legend of the Five Rings

It said “No experience necessary”, yet when we arrived there was a line to get into the room to play.

And people were grouping up together.

And various GMs were shouting things.

And Egg, Lee, and myself were confused.

“Are you new players?”

“Yes, it said no experience necessary.”

“That it did!”

It turns out that we found ourselves in the middle of the final battle of the weekend. Clan honor was at stake. A battle would rage at various tables… 3 rounds in fact. If you died, then you left the room. If you won your round, your team was awarded points, and those points were added to the total for your Clan.

Not knowing what we were in for (the fourth member of our table had only played twice before and one of those times might have been in the 90s), we opted for an easier scenario at first before ramping up each round. Around the room, you could hear tables roar out their approval at good plays. And while you were waiting for the next round to begin, people would go watch other games (not something you experience at most games).

Luckily, we were joined by 3 other players in time for the final battle who had a little experience playing the game (6 years running the game!). It worked out well as by that point I had a decent enough understanding of the rules, but one of the new players helped me understand a couple of other aspects I didn’t 100% catch previously.

While we may not have gotten a great feel for the world of Legend, we certainly were educated in how to play the mechanics… and they might have been my favorite overall of the games we’d played over the weekend. I can understand why it has such passionate fans.

 

Day 4

The Dark Eye

Apparently, The Dark Eye is the #1 game in Germany for the last 30 years. It is a fantasy game (so right in our wheelhouse). The GM did a great job with running the game, and I enjoyed the voices he used for the different characters.

However…

Within about 5 seconds of him explaining the system to us, I knew this wasn’t going to be “The ONE”. Most games you are asked to roll your dice to perform an action like climbing a wall. You roll one dice, add your bonuses and penalties and then see if you were successful. With Dark Eye you had to roll against 3 different skills… and if you failed one of those checks, then you failed the overall check.

I’m not sure how that works in the long run as I’d get too frustrated to bother. Just running simple odds would tell you trying to succeed at something 3 different times is probably going to fail a decent amount of the time. At some point, I’d like to seek out the players of the game and see if there is some good reason for the multiple checks (and hence why it might be in the game, to begin with).

***

Overall it was a great time at the convention. I was sore after all the walking, but made it through all the same. Got to see a couple of friends from the previous year, and somehow managed to hang out for 5 days and get along with my convention mates as we talked pretty much non-stop the whole drive back to Atlanta. So, until next year (hopefully)…

***

John McGuire has co-written, along with his wife, two Kindle Worlds novellas set in the world of Veronica Mars: Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac.

He is also 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

Gen Con 2018 Recap – Part One

After the success of the trip last year (which you can read about here and here) (you know, none of us killed any of the others after being together non-stop for the better part of 5 days), Lee, Egg Embry, and I took a drive back to the land of corn and at one point Peyton Manning.

This year continued the idea of checking out all the gaming systems we’d never had the opportunity to play previously. In fact, much of the last year or we’ve played a handful of games just to get that different kind of exposure.

DAY 1

Thursday started off with a trip to the Dealers’ Room. I’m not sure if I mentioned it last year, but the room is enormous. Even if you were moving quickly and barely taking any time to look around it would probably be a couple of hours. Throughout the weekend we’d squeeze an hour here or an hour there to try to slowly move through the building and even then it was easier said than done. In addition, you have all the game demos going on, but if you are only in the room on a scattered basis, there is almost no way to fit it in. The best we can figure is MAYBE you set aside Thursday and not do anything but go through the room playing demos and squeezing everything you can out of that room and then basically be done with it.

However, we couldn’t do that, and after a couple of hours, it was on to the first game.

Flash Gordon (Savage Worlds)

While I’d like to claim that I have an in-depth knowledge of the old serials or the cartoons or even the comics, my brush with Flash Gordon is limited to three things:

  • The Queen Soundtrack
  • The 80’s Movie
  • And explaining to people that the Flash and Flash Gordon are two entirely different characters.

Savage Worlds is an interesting system in that the is probably just enough complexity to give those people who really like the more Crunchy systems, but for the most part, it was fairly easy to understand. We were introduced to the “Exploding Dice” mechanic which basically means that if you roll the maximum value on a dice you get to roll again (so a 6 on a d6 would mean a reroll and add it to the first result). I enjoyed the system enough that I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of it at some point.

Given that we were playing in a pulpy game setting with ray guns and short skirts and evil robots, Lee and Egg told me that I had to use my newsreel voice for whatever character I get (to get an idea of what that might sound like, think about the old movies where the news was also played along with the film and how the narrator might have sounded). I chose a Mad Scientist type character and put maximum effort into the voice. I hope that the other players had fun because I had a ball (as goofy as it might have been to say “What’s that dame up to now?” or “This just in, we need to get the hell out of here!”).

Rest easy, we stopped Ming’s latest plot to destroy the Earth, so you can thank me the next time you see me!

Wicked Pacts

I didn’t have any idea what Wicked Pacts might have been, but it was pretty easy to figure out as it plays in the Modern Day (Urban Fantasy, where the supernatural are all too real, and you get to play a magic user of some type). The system combined Tarot cards along with D10s. The DM did a great job, and the players seemed like they were having a good time as well. There were minor things that I wasn’t overly thrilled with in regards to the system, but there was plenty of good as well. I think that if you wanted to play a Dresden Files type of game this would be a good one to check out!

Day 2

Geist

We had it all figured out. A five-hour session playing Geist (a Storyteller/World of Darkness Game). We visited Onyx Press’s booth on Thursday and talked to one of the guys who had worked on the 2nd edition of the game. And promptly got screwed up… on the time and place of our game. He said he was running the demo at 10 AM and that was the time we had set up for our game. But it was actually in the dealers’ room – something none of us had done before. Still, we didn’t think anything of it until the game ended about an hour and a half… it was a five-hour session. At which point Lee double checked the ticket and realized we were in the wrong place!

The game just completed a Kickstarter for the 2nd edition we played. You can check that out here.

As to the game demo itself, I’ve now played Storyteller games a few times in the last year, so the familiarity is now there. I was more concerned with the story. I know nothing of the original 1st edition Geist, but this idea of people who deal with ghosts while dealing with the fact they’d come back to life in another way. Even as a simple short story, it suddenly clicked on how you could do a full campaign with the system and really have some fun with local ghost stories in your area.

Hmmm, research, where I have to visit creepy places in and around Atlanta, may not be the best idea…

***

Hope you enjoyed Part 1, Part 2 will be up next week.

***

John McGuire has co-written, along with his wife, two Kindle Worlds novellas set in the world of Veronica Mars: Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac.

He is also 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

My Journey to the DragonCon 2018 Art Show

I’m not sure how it happened.

A few autumns ago, I bought a new house.

And somehow got it in my head to use one of the rooms as an art studio.

Sure, I’d painted before. Twenty years ago, I owned an airbrush T-shirt company. I made banners for local bands. I dabbled in various art forms. I even spent a few seasons at art school, which ended up being the only education in my life I ever enjoyed.

But nothing like this.

On a brisk, windy day, my son and I left our new house behind, marched into our truck, and sped off to Hobby Lobby. You know Hobby Lobby, right? The bible-thumping craft store…which just so happens to sell gallery-ready canvasses, high-quality paint brushes, and paint…tons of paint.

Being fools, we walked into Hobby Lobby and exited an hour later with armloads (and a truckload) of the hugest canvasses we could find. Along with fifty tubes of acrylic paint, charcoal pencils, graphite powder, brushes, an easel, and…well…you get the point.

I’m not really sure why. It’s just what happened.

That first night, while the rain pummeled suburban Atlanta, and while my kid sat on the floor slathering yellow paint onto a canvas of his own, I stood in a daze in our new ‘painting room.’  Really, it was just a bare-walled empty space; most people would’ve used it as a dining room. You know…the room most families never inhabit?

Black paint hit the canvas hard. Directionless. Not quite Jackson Pollock random, but close.

Something like this came out:

‘The Emperor’s Vision’ – 2013

The Emperor’s Vision. It was a scene from one of the fantasy novels I’d written. Somehow…to see it alive on a canvas…I felt an awakening.

All it took was one simple painting. One glance at the strange world I’d accidentally created.

And I was hooked.

Autumn rumbled by. Winter settled atop us. During the long, dark nights, as the never-ending rain drowned our little neighborhood, I found myself wandering each night into the painting room.

At first, I lacked aim. Purpose. Meaning. (not to mention, talent.)

I tried painting people. More dark cities. Corrupted landscapes. Trees. I was nothing if not a bit brooding, a bit dark. I glued all the lessons I barely remembered from art school to my wild imagination, and strange things resulted.

‘Summoning Tree’

For the next two years, I toiled in the shadows of my new, over-big house. My blank walls, once eggshell white, transformed into a cacophony of colors. Ten paintings became twenty, and twenty become more than one-hundred.

And then I moved. To an apartment. In which the walls offered only about 10% of the space I’d formerly had.

What am I going to do with all this junk? I thought.

I’ve got stacks of paintingsand nowhere to put them.

What if…? Nah…

A few quiet months went by, and another accident happened. A journeywoman artist moved to Atlanta, and we decided to paint cooperatively.  No idea why. Once again, no goal existed. We just wanted to ‘art’ for the sake of art itself.

She sculpted. I painted. And I moved again, this time into another house. My new bachelor pad wasn’t nearly as big as my previous house, but the walls offered plenty of space to fill with our new three-dimensional creations.

Many months smoldered by. Summer. Autumn. Winter. Another summer.

Were we getting better? we wondered. Is all our work resulting in actual skill? 

Nah…couldn’t be. 

The walls of my newest house filled up. Once again, finished canvasses were stacked on the floor, collecting cobwebs as they slept well out of sight.

And then, a text message arrived:

“I’d like to buy one of your pieces.”

“Wait…really?”

“Yes. I’ll pay shipping, too. Just give me the price.”

An accident. Luck. A door cracked open. A sliver of light shining through. One sold painting. Then five. Then Ten. Thirty. Fifty.

What just happened?

I’m doing this professionally, I said to myself.

How? 

No idea…

An artist friend – Amanda Makepeace – had a booth and gallery at DragonCon that year. Sure, I’d been to D-Con before. No, I never dressed up or really participated in anything. Honestly, I usually went to party and haunt the art show.

The DragonCon art show.

Hundreds of fantasy, sci-fi, and other paintings…all in one place. 

Thousands of people. 

Look at Amanda’s art. It’s beautiful. I wonder…could I? Nah…right? 

One night, while sipping scotch in my house and painting nothing in particular, I asked a few questions. Of my friends. Of Amanda. Of people I knew who’d attended DragonCon.

Ever the impulsive fool, I made a rash decision. I planned to paint seven pieces to submit to D-Con’s art show selection process. Why? I’m not sure. I’d no intention of succeeding. I really just wanted to challenge myself. After all, the three-person jury included three well-known art masters, two of whom I often emulated (Allen Williams & Brom.) How could my small efforts impress long-term professionals?

Whatever. 

I plunged in. Did my homework. Bought a boatload of new canvasses. Stayed awake until 3AM painting alone or in the company of others.

I worked.

And waited.

I waited.

And I worked.

‘Rapture’

On the day DragonCon art show submissions opened, I stood at the ready, my finger poised to submit what I believed in my head-movie were my seven best pieces.

I clicked ‘Submit.’

And I allowed myself to forget what I’d done.

Impostor syndrome. 

Hundreds of applicants. 

Best fantasy artists in the world. 

This was a fun ride, but it ends here.  

Honestly, I really did forget. There seemed no sense in agonizing over what I’d accidentally fallen into. I told myself I was just a guy goofing around in his kitchen, drinking whiskey, making funny shapes to put on my walls.

And it was true.

Even so…

A few months later, when the phone call arrived, I awoke as if from a stupor. (No really, I was hungover.) And there it was.

“You’re in,” he said.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

I want to tell you the rest of the story. But it hasn’t happened yet.

The DragonCon Art Show hits Atlanta from Aug 30 – Sept 3 this year.

I’ll have 12 original pieces and more than one-hundred prints.

I’ll probably still be there just to party.  I don’t have a booth, so really all I’m doing is dropping paintings off for everyone to look at.

Whatever.

I hope you’ll stop by the art show.

And then find me down at Hard Rock Cafe.

Look for me at the bar.

First round is on me.

Love,

J Edward Neill

.

Oh…here’s a few snapshots of me laying out my gallery space.

All paintings are originals. J Edward Neill & Tahina Morrison.

2 Great Atlanta Art Shows You’ll Want to Attend

Hi there everyone.

This March, I’ll be featuring original paintings by myself and Tahina Morrison at two amazing events in Atlanta.

These will be our first public art shows ever. We’ll be revealing several of our darkest, sexiest, and wildest pieces yet.

Two dates you need to remember – March 9th & March 16th

Two art shows you should commit to memory – Atlanta Pancakes & Booze Art Show / Chocolate & Art Show Atlanta

Pancakes & Booze – Friday, March 9th

And…

Chocolate & Art – Friday, March 16


We’ll have a featured gallery and prints at each show.

You’ll probably see something along the lines of…

…and more!

 


We really hope to see you! If for no other reason than free pancakes and conversation.

For updates, follow me on Facebook.

Get into our art here.

J Edward Neill

Mindbubble Workshop Recap – How to Write Comics

 

Back in December, Robert Jeffrey and I had the opportunity to do an updated version of a workshop Terminus used to do back in the day at Libraries entitled “Wham! Zap! Pow! Writing for Comics”. Hosted by the wonderful folks at Mind Bubble, the idea was to take some early teens who might have an interest in creating stories within the comics side of things and just walk them through the process.

Basically, a bunch of the stuff I wish I had known when I first sat down to write a comic script. All that stuff you don’t think about when you are reading the latest issue of Batman. We wanted to give them a glimpse at how those 20-22 pages actually manage to get done. Really walk them through the process as best we could.

It was really cool to try to get a gauge on what they might be into, where we might find some common ground. Things I was either into or really into when I was their age (the more things change and all of that, I guess).

Video games and anime and Star Wars movies were brought up as examples of building a story and creating memorable characters. After that, we went through the creation of a comic page, taking them through some more general ideas (what’s a Panel, the difference between Dialogue and Narration, etc.), we walked through (with the use of Sean Hill’s excellent Route 3 artwork) going from Thumbnails to Pencils to Inks to Colors all the way to Letters.

But probably the best idea was the one Robert had about doing a page of thumbnails based off of a sample one-page script (we had two examples for the kids to choose from, though a couple decided to do their own thing – which was cool as well). So while I’m watching them go about trying to construct a thumbnailed page, I realized that we had plenty of time, so why not share in the fun (the Mindbubble team got in on it as well).

Let me tell you, I am no artist.

No, really, not an artist. And if I ever entertained any thoughts along those lines, this crushed them. I think I burned the page I constructed after the event, but I was more than willing to show to everyone that thumbnails weren’t supposed to be perfect. As one young lady told me, “it looks like a fat lizard” (it was supposed to be a Godzilla monster). My perspective was horrible. Stick Figure Madness is what it could have been called. The kids snickered and laughed as I walked around showing my “skills” off. I’m hopeful that it helped everyone understand that at the end of the day writing, drawing, coloring, whatever it is you want to do in comics is supposed to be FUN.

And that’s really the goal at the end of the day with any of this stuff, right?

***

Mind Bubble does a number of these types of activities/workshops for youths in the Atlanta, Georgia area. You can find more information at https://mindbubble.org/.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. 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 prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Closing Threads for the End of the Year

A Grab Bag for this week (also known as Random Thoughts from John).

***

December becomes a mad scramble for me every year. Not because of Christmas parties or because of fighting the people at the Mall over the last whatever it is I’m at the Mall to get, and not because every day ends up having something “to do” if left up to the wife.

OK. It is a mad scramble exactly for all those reasons… plus one other one:

Trying to get random bits and pieces of writing in order by the end of the year. You see, every year I write a blog post that lays out the year – what I want to accomplish, what I expect to accomplish, what I could accomplish if I cloned myself… but it is a little pie in the sky. I mean, I put everything on it (because you should dream big, right?), and since I started doing it 3 or 4 years ago, I find myself entering December with unfinished business.

Suddenly I have to squeeze a year’s worth of wants and goals into 31 days of crazy.

Yeah, it never works out.

***

Die Hard is one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time.

I believe this, somewhere deep in my soul.

Yet, we had a potluck lunch this week and end up putting it on as the holiday movie. And while it takes place at Christmas, John McClain does write “Ho Ho Ho” (now I have a machine gun) on the dead guy’s shirt… maybe (and this is only a maybe), maybe it isn’t something that everyone else agrees is a great Christmas movie.

I mean, they are wrong, but it is very odd to hear rapid gunfire and cursing while celebrating the holidays with co-workers.

***

I once had an interview that took place during a Christmas party. I’d just graduated from college and the interview was right around 1, and the company was in the middle of exchanging gifts. So I had to sit there and smile and not focus on how awkward the whole situation was. I mean, just reschedule the interview for an hour later or an hour earlier or something.

To top it off, I didn’t even get an offer from them, which if they were trying to figure out how I might “fit in” with their group – my thinking would be to say that maybe, just maybe, there would be a better way to do it.

And if you are going to bring an interviewee into the gift exchange, maybe give him/her something. It’s bad enough that we’re there, at least then we’d leave with something.

***

Random Thoughts Done for now. Back to wrapping up Kickstarter business and watching odd movies at the “wrong” time!

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. 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 prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Dragon Con 2017 Recap

Dragon Con always feels a bit like coming home. Even when the numbers of attendees keep going up and up, even when more hotels are added, and even when we take over more and more of downtown, there is just something about Dragon Con that makes it feel different. Long before Georgia became Hollywood South, this was the place for those actors on the shows and movies we all loved would come by for a visit. They would gather us all around and tell their stories to all who would listen.

And for a little while, the gulf between our lives and their lives disappeared.

I hadn’t thought about it much before Friday night, but I’ve been coming to Dragon Con since 1993 when Chad Shonk’s father dropped us off at the entrance to the hotel and we made our way to see Todd McFarlane.

I still have my signed Amazing Spider-Man 300.

It was my first convention. Heck, it was pretty much my first idea that such things even existed. You mean creators of the Funny Books I love to read are coming to my town? I’m sold.

About 10 years ago I convinced my wife to come to Dragon Con for a day. Serenity either had just come out or was coming out, so virtually the entire cast was going to be there. She went, had a great time, and while it took a couple of years before she would be a regular, it has become our little vacation in the city for Labor Day Weekend.

2017

My big take aways for this year were:

  • Standing in lines is not a lot of fun.
  • Standing in lines and not getting into the panel you wanted is really no fun.
  • Being in the overflow room for a panel and then having the feed cut out is just right out.
  • Avoid the dealer’s room on Saturday if at all possible.
  • There are a lot of people in Downtown Atlanta on Labor Day weekend!
  • It never gets old to see the people coming in for the Chic-fil-a Kickoff Classic (college football game for those who don’t know) have confused looks on their faces at the various costumes running around.
  • The costumes continue to impress me year after year. I stand in awe to those people’s dedication to their craft.
  • I love listening to the actors when they are passionate about their work.
  • Catching up with friends might be the single best part.

This year took a different turn when the day before we were to go downtown, Courtney found a hotel room available within 2 blocks of the Hyatt. And we could get it for only Friday and Saturday night. Since we normally don’t go down until Friday and almost never go on Monday, this worked out perfectly.

Throughout the course of the weekend, we’re always amazed at the level of costumes and the creativity everyone has. Whether it is the Zoltar machine from the movie BIG to a robot controlled Stewie from Family Guy, people continue to push the boundaries for the next cool thing. Which is awesome to see, even if I don’t envy the amount of time it might take them to create.

Friday

Somehow on Friday morning, even after getting there at 9:30 for a 10:00 panel, we were forced to the overflow for Nathan Fillion. No biggie. He’s honestly entertaining enough that after a few minutes I mostly forgot he wasn’t in the room… until the Feed cut out for about 10 minutes, and then when they got the audio back, it was probably another 5 before we got the visual. Not anything crushing, but not the way we want to start things off. After seeing him, I realized we’re not doing our due diligence having not seen Con Men (though it was on this weekend, so I have them recorded).

After an aborted attempt to see Wallace Shawn (Inconceivable!) and a decision not to try to fight my way into the Stan Lee panel (they started lining up 2+ hours early), we decided to venture over to the dealer’s room in an attempt to see the wares before the craziness of the weekend really kicked into gear. Last year there was a line to get in by about 2:30, so we made sure we showed up closer to when it opened at 1.

Here’s the thing about the Dealer’s room that I’ll never understand: why is it people stand in the middle of the aisles and talk to each other? I don’t mean the “hey, let’s go this way” but full conversations. Given how packed the room gets, I’d think you’d want to do such things in an area where you wouldn’t be obstructing traffic.

While Friday’s trip was more about identifying potential buys on Sunday, Egg had put me on the look out for Kevin Hearne‘s Iron Druid Chronicles which my wife pointed out after about 2 minutes in the room. I ended up speaking with Kevin for a few minutes and grabbed a couple of copies of the comic.

The final panel attempt on Friday was one for the Gilmore Girls featuring Sean Gunn. Apparently, a room which holds 350 people is not enough by about 50 people and superfan that my wife is – was shut out.

I feel like this is the second time we’ve missed out on a Gilmore Girls/Sean Gunn panel… but maybe it’s just a false feeling of Deja vu?

We dropped in on TesseraGuild’s own Amanda Makepeace (and daughter) who was busy holding down her table in the art area. Prints were flying off her table and, spoiler alert, she ended up winning the “Best Space Scene” at the Dragon Con Art Show!

War for Jupiter

Saturday

Waking up on Saturday with an extra hour of sleep (due to not having to drive into downtown) was nice. I also realized that the 10 AM panels don’t necessarily fill up (unless you’re Nathan Fillion, I guess). There was no line, the Con could let you right into the room.

John Cusack was interesting as he’d never been to Dragon Con before, but he also wasn’t there to actively promote a project. So it really became a series of questions from the audience about all of his movies. I wasn’t sure if he just wasn’t as comfortable in such a setting or what. You could tell when he was really engaged with a question based solely on the length of his responses. Possibly because he’d answered the question a million time previously, some of his answers ended up being slightly longer Yes/No responses.

Though, I don’t want it to seem like it was a bad panel, far from it. Just that many times on these type question/answer sessions the worry is always “how many questions can we get them to answer?” and this was a bit more like “I’m going to get through all the questions.”

The highlight question was:

“Do you ever get stopped in real life by someone who wants 2 dollars?”

A laugh. “Every day… every day.”

The Flash panel reminded me that it is beyond cool that John Wesley Shipp is a part of the cast. To have that link to the old show and to see how much he respects these actors and the work they put in… it’s amazing. Danielle Panabaker was definitely the star of the panel as the majority of the questions went to her (many with the questions centered around her Killer Frost alter-ego).

The highlight of the evening was supposed to be The Barrowman Show. As soon as we saw such a thing existed we were set ongoing. Apparently, everyone else at Dragon Con had the same idea and it filled up completely. I can only imagine the craziness that went on behind closed doors.

Sunday

On Sunday, we began with another DC Universe panel: Arrow.

One thing about the highly entertaining Arrow panel or as it came to be called: Game of Arrow. Thea (Willa Holland) was/is clearly obsessed with the show. She had theories, she had thoughts about the end of the season. It was hilarious how she’d get going on a rant before the moderator tried to steer things back to Arrow. And then one of the others would push her to keep talking about it.

She says she wants to guest on a podcast to talk about it. I think you could do far worse than her. Plus she clearly knows her stuff. At the very least she’d bring a passion about the show!

Then it was onto a fan run panel about LEGION. If you haven’t seen the show, you can check out my review here. Lots of theories and thoughts were thrown out. I even supplied my own thoughts about the show – how maybe the reason we’re not sure of when exactly takes place is that just like any memories you have – we’re always wrong about when they take place. I mean, how many times have you thought a movie was only 5 years old when it came out over a decade ago?

In what has become a staple at Dragon Con over the last few years, I end up closing out things in the Venture Bros panel. Regardless of whether the show has a season ongoing or about to come out or nowhere near debuting… things are going to be funny and weird. This year the panel was made up of many of the voices from the show (including Dr. Venture and Wide Whale). Sadly, Doc Hammer and Jackson Public weren’t able to be there – apparently hard at work on the next season!

So I suppose I forgive them.

They showed off a book of artwork, sketches, character designs, etc. coming out in late Fall from Dark Horse which looked very cool (and something I need to add to the old wishlist). The trailer is here.

We capped off the evening with dinner with a couple of friends where we occupied that poor server’s table for far too long, but it had been far too long since we’d seen John and Jeane, so we didn’t have much of a choice!

I also attended a writing workshop session (as well as another writing related panel – at this point I couldn’t tell you what days they were actually held!) run by Michael Stackpole: 21 Days to a Novel. I still need to transcribe my notes, but I’m interested in giving the technique a proper try on my next project.

As we made our drive back, a little of the con depression began to creep in, but considering my month of Gen Con and then this convention that might have been exhaustion more than anything else.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. 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 to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

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

 

Gen Con 2017 Recap – Part Two

You can read Part One Here.

Day 1 Continued

The thing no one realizes is that navigating the Dealer’s Room requires a commitment of time. As it turned out, we had about an hour and a half before the room closed on the day. The goal became see as much as possible while also visiting with some contacts and old friends.

While not the largest Dealers’ Room I’ve been in (New York Comic Con takes that prize), Gen Con doesn’t short change you on the options. Who knew there were so many board, roleplaying, and card games being developed and played?

We immediately ran into David Rodriguez, of Skylanders, Destiny, IDW’s First Strike comic series, and about a billion other things that I’m forgetting right now. I met David many years ago (through Egg) when we roomed together at Chicago Comic Con. It’s always nice to see the successes he’s had over the years, and it led to one of my favorite conversations ever:

Egg – So what are you working on these days?

David – Destiny.

Egg – … um, what’s Destiny?

Yes, Egg doesn’t know what Destiny is. I thought we were going to have to pull David off of him. Luckily, calmer minds prevailed.

After our examining of 5% of the Dealer’s Room, it was on to the game library inside of Lucas Oil Stadium. I’m not sure I’m ever going to be in Indianapolis for a football game, so it was cool to be on the field in an empty stadium.

The Game Library was pretty extensive. So extensive that after our failed attempt to play Arkham House (I’d suggest if you are going to play really complicated games that you get someone who has played the game previously to be around to assist). As it was we spent over an hour setting the game up, played a bit, realized we were playing wrong, still couldn’t figure out how the good guys might end up winning, and put the game away.

At this point, we were saved from our own indecision by Ben. Ben was just looking to game and luckily had bought a copy of Hero Realms earlier that day. It was a fun game (I ended up winning our 4 player game). Pretty easy to teach the rules, and seemed like it had a fair amount of replay value. After the game, though, it was nearly 2 in the morning and time to get back to the hotel and catch some sleep.

Day 2

Friday was a tale of 2 different games: Call of Cthulhu and Tales from the Loop.

Call of Cthulhu is one of those games I often read about. People love Lovecraft and to hear it spoken about in such high regard made it one of those games we had to check out. It also helped that Danny O’Neil was our GM for the session (this was just Egg, Lee, and myself). Egg had contributed to the Dread House Kickstarter, so we were interested to see how it played. Luckily the scenario wasn’t the one he wrote for.

It felt like CoC was very much a Roleplaying game vs. a Roll-playing game. Yes, there are dice rolls, but much of the beginning session was spent gathering clues, talking to NPCs, and interacting in character with each other. When the weirdness began and Sanity checks were called for, it was almost more fun when you failed a check. What did that mean for your character? How would you react to the next bit of oddness? And would you have anything left when it was finished (my character’s answer was a NO, as he failed nearly all of his checks)?

I had a great time. Danny was an excellent GM. It would definitely end up as one I’d like to play again next year.

Tales from the Loop was the second game we played. It was just Lee and I as Egg was the Ebay high bid to be the guest of Cubicle 7 at the Ennies. And from what I understand, he had a great time. But I still feel a little bad for him, because after playing Tales from the Loop we proceeded to talk about it for the rest of the weekend.

There is a reason it won Game of the Year.

I want to write more about it, so I’m not going to go into a ton of detail about the session (in a forthcoming post). What I will say is that all those 80’s kids movies where all sorts of crazy nonsense seem to happen when the parents are away: Goonies, Explorers, Monster Squad, etc., well, that’s what this game is. It takes the best of that genre and lets you play as a kid.

Do yourself a favor and check out the game.

Day 3

Lesson Learned from Gen Con: don’t schedule things at 8 in the morning. That is waaaaay too early. You will skip it.

So it was that Mouse Guard was our first session. I really like the comics, so I was interested to see how the system worked. The basic setup was our group of Mouse Guard needed to find a snake’s nest and deal with the eggs we found there. Using pre-gens, each character had a few roleplaying style traits that they could appeal to during the course of play. Say that you often put other’s needs above your own – you might get a bonus dice to help with that particular skill check. In addition, if someone wanted to assist another character with a check, they could as long as they were willing to accept a condition (tired, injured, etc.) if the roll backfired.

The bigger question I had about the system was more that one of your Skills was your Mouse Nature. You could use this skill when nothing else seemed to fit (or pretty much whenever it might make sense – which could be nearly every time you checked something). As my character’s Nature was probably his best stat, I wasn’t so sure why I would ever use anything else. Perhaps it works itself out in longer campaigns?

The final Boss battle was very different. Basically, you could choose one of 4 different tactics (Defense, Feint, Attack, and Maneuver) as did the GM and then one by one you would almost play a game of Paper Rock Scissors where however the cards came up different things happened. In the end, the Guard was trying to reduce the enemy to 0 before they were reduced to 0 (this was a team determined score). A very interesting idea, but for some of the characters, there wasn’t much to decide. If you were primarily a defensive character, you should probably go with your strengths, but this would leave your combat turns more or less the same. Again, in a longer campaign, I could see a metagame forming as the DM tries to anticipate your moves based off previous battles.

The evening saw us play 7th Sea. Egg and I had supported the 2nd edition Kickstarter and now have more pdfs than I could read in a hundred lifetimes (seriously, it is the gift that keeps on giving). In regards to the session itself…

The successes (known as Raises) work well enough, but my problem is things don’t always feel balanced. The number of Raises you get basically helps to determine the number of things you can accomplish in a round (# of actions you get). Multiple times I saw people get 5 and 6 Raises to my 2 or 3, which meant that they were getting to just do more things. Over a short combat this is less of an issue, but as the rounds increase, the difference of 2 additional “things” means one of the players just isn’t able to do as much.

So while the over the top play was fun, the actual rules didn’t sit well with me.

Day 4

Did I mention not to schedule things at 8 AM?

In the morning.

When you should be sleeping?

Because we didn’t make that session either.

Since this was get-away day, we tried to do the remainder of the Dealer’s Room (you know, that last 95%). I’m proud to say that I think I saw nearly everything, even if it was a drive-by. One of the stand-outs was Shadows of Esteren, a series of RPG books that I nearly bought just to look at the beautiful artwork. It’s definitely one I’m going to keep my eye on for possibly adding to my pdf collection.

As to purchases, I did get a copy of Tales from the Loop (I told you I really liked the game) and a card game called Brass Empire (go figure a Steampunk game MIGHT appeal to me). Still, haven’t busted either of them out to play, but I’m looking forward to doing so.

Wrap Up

Would I go back? Absolutely.There are so many things that I would have liked to do. I’d never roleplayed at a convention before, so this was an eye-opening experience to that. There were tons of games and systems I would have liked to

There are so many things that I would have liked to do. I’d never roleplayed at a convention before, so this was an eye-opening experience to that. There were tons of games and systems I would have liked to play, so those would go to the top of the list.

So did the Convention live up to what I had in my head? Yes and then some.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. 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 to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

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

 

Gen Con 2017 Recap – Part One

You can read Part Two Here.

Before

For as long as I can remember, for as soon as we learned of its existence, there was talk among my gaming crew about going to Gen Con.

“More games than you can imagine.”

“Artists all over the place.”

“Play games until you can’t see anymore. Then wake up and do it again.”

Yet, it might as well have been El Dorado or some other bit of myth. When you are in Georgia, Wisconsin or Indiana or wherever the convention was being held (“somewhere in the Midwest, right?”), that might as well be on the other side of the globe. Add to the fact that none of us had any money at this point.

A pipe dream. And like most pipe dreams it lingered for a while. Random mentions of it throughout our college years, but no one was ever serious. Heck, we had Dragon Con for all of that “stuff” right in our back yard.

Then as our college days faded and with it all the extra time we seem to have in our youth… well, now we had money, but no time to go do it. And even though we still got together from time to time, many of us had moved away, got married, etc.

You know, the adult stuff.

But it was an itch for one of my friends, Lee. He had always been the one to bring it up. Sometimes out of the blue, always trying to gauge potential interest. Even as people wearied of Dragon Con embracing other “stuff”, he continued to look north.

Last year he was convinced. Sort of a now or never some 25+ years since originally bringing it up. Egg Embry joined him and off to Indiana they went.

I must admit I was jealous. I had the opportunity, but after the trip to Alaska at the beginning of summer, a trip to Indiana didn’t seem the best decision.

When they got back the talk had changed. It was no longer something they wanted to do again… at some point in the future, but they were already planning for 2017. And there was no reason for me not to crash their party this time.

Who would have thought the nerds and geeks would need to take over the football stadium. Awesome!

Day 0

As a comic writer, I’ve done a few conventions over the years, but aside from Dragon Con and New York Comic Con, nothing else compares to the size of Gen Con. They took over Lucas Oil Stadium (where the Colts play) this year because the Convention Center didn’t have enough room. 4-day badges sold out. 60,000+ people.

And every one of them either want to play games, buy games, sell games, or maybe just soak it all up.

We arrived on Wednesday night, managed to get checked into our hotel room, and then headed out to see what trouble we could get into, maybe grab a bite to eat, get the lay of the land.

Indianapolis is flat.

And after a few hours of walking around, I was extremely happy with this situation.

We’d already planned out our gaming sessions back in May/June. The goal was to play about 7 different gaming systems. You see, we’ve been pretty much Dungeons and Dragons players most of our gaming lives. We’ve dabbled in the White Wolf Vampire/Werewolf games. There were at least one West End Games Star Wars campaigns. Even a bunch of one-offs with Palladium’s Rifts and Macros sessions. But this was an opportunity to play different things, branch out a little bit, maybe even figure out that the might be *gasp* a better system than D&D.

Day 1

Vampire 5th edition was held at 10 AM on Thursday, which also coincides with the actual “start” of the convention (basically when the dealer room actually opens). What this really means is a mass of people – and by mass of people I mean thousands of people – are lined up in the convention center waiting to be let in. It was so packed in that area there was enough room for two people to walk past each other if you sucked in your gut and possibly leaned into the other people pressed against the wall.

So it would reason our game was at the far end of this area. If only we had Fezik to clear a path… drowning in the sea of people we somehow pushed, slipped, sidestepped, and probably pissed off a handful of people who thought we were trying to cut in line, we made it to the room and a short time after we started the game.

This was actually a playtest. Whether you’d played Vampire back in the day or not, they were making tweaks to the rules (a good thing for me because all I remembered of the system was that I rolled a lot of 10-sided dice). For the adventure, we were provided pre-generated characters. They had their various stats right there as well as a brief background and desires. Well, I say brief, but it was two pages worth of information before you even reached the stats.

The story was one of a drug deal gone sideways. Personally one of the best moments of the session was when the Game Master said to us “yeah, you’re pretty much off script at this point”. In my head, it was like we had figured out a loophole in the story – and since this was a playtest, it kind of meant we actually were contributing to making the adventure better down the road.

As to the system itself – I enjoyed that when you’re playing a vampire the Hunger is always present. Mechanically they simulated that by having one of your die a different color (red anyone?) and if you rolled a 10 on the special die then things could get… messy.

I did see something in this game that would come up again and again in other games we ended up playing over the weekend. Playing non-combat focused characters works really well in a campaign as there will be plenty of places to really roleplay your abilities, but in a four-hour session where you’ll never play that particular character again… well, it makes things a bit more awkward once combat actually breaks out. It’s not so much that I mind other players being able to do cool things in battle, but more that I wasn’t sure how I might contribute with sub par physical stats.

Lil’ Egg Embry Reporting…

After the game, we rushed out to meet Dan Davenport and his wife, Lisa, for lunch (both extremely nice people who made the wait for our food all the more bearable) (check out Dan’s Blog here). Egg had connected with him online, so this became a great opportunity to put a face to each other. Of course, I’m not sure they knew what they signed up for as Egg peppered the two of them for a complete history of their gaming days. I kept waiting for him to say”Egg Embry, press corps, follow up question on my previous question about the

“Egg Embry, press corps, follow up question on my previous question about the aforementioned item…”

When lunch was finished, we made our way back to the convention center and dove into the Dealer’s room…

***

Hope you enjoyed Part 1, Part 2 will be up next week.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. 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 to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

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

Tessera Guild at the Atlanta Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo 2017 – March 11 and 12

Come meet the members of the Tessera Guild at the third annual Atlanta Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo on March 11th and 12th, 2017.

North DeKalb Mall in Decatur, GA. Admission is free.

Robert Jeffrey IIJohn McGuire, and Egg Embry, along with Sir Leland Beauchamp, will host four panels over the two days:

 

I AM BlackSci-Fi.com
Saturday, March 11th from 3:00 to 3:50 EST

Hosted by Robert Jeffrey II as well as William Satterwhite

“Since its inception BlackSci-Fi.com’s goal has been to be “the premier site for the latest updates on Sci-Fi, Sci-Fact and Fantasy entertainment, news, people, places, and events and the measure of their impact on the African-American community, while also seeking to inform and inspire the imagination of individuals who aspire to live beyond the boundaries of everyday life”

Join Editor-in-Chief Robert Jeffrey II, and contributing writer William Satterwhite as they discuss the in’s and out’s of working for BlackSci-Fi.com, the websites goals and future plans, while touching on the general state of Black speculative fiction.”

 

You wrote something. Now what?
Saturday, March 11th from 5:00 to 5:50 EST

Hosted by Robert Jeffrey II as well as Bobby Nash and Milton Davis

“Join writers Bobby Nash, Milton Davis, and Robert Jeffrey as they discuss what happens after (or during) writing a book (novel, comic, short story, etc). Enjoy this insightful look into each writers path to becoming a published author followed by a Q&A session.”

 

John McGuire co-hosting: Freelance Writing and the 9 to 5

Freelance Writing and the 9 to 5
Sunday, March 12th from 3:00 to 3:50 EST

Hosted by John McGuire, Robert Jeffrey II as well as Nicole Kurtz, and William Satterwhite

“The Ups, the Downs, and Everything Between
By day, mild-mannered 9 to 5-er, but by night they create worlds! Join freelance writers as they discuss keeping a balance between the daily rigors of their 9-5s and writing careers.”

 

Sir Leland Beauchamp co-hosting: Dice, Kickstarter, Cash-in

Dice, Kickstarter, Cash-in
Sunday, March 12th from 12:00 to 12:50 EST

Hosted by Egg Embry and Sir Leland Beauchamp

“Role-play, write-up, and crowdfund your RPG adventures!
Have an original adventure, series of monsters, or tabletop game? Interested in crowdfunding its publication? Join Egg Embry and Leland Beauchamp for a a beginner’s guide to monetizing your tabletop RPG products. We’ll create a D&D creature to take through a hypothetical Kickstarter (idea to pitch to funding to production to delivery to what comes next).”

 

Egg Embry co-hosting: Dice, Kickstarter, Cash-in

For directions to North DeKalb Mall and this free convention, visit the ASFE website here.

 

 

* * *

 

 

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Missed the show? Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

 

 

* * *

 

 

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Tapping Into My Inner Harley Quinn

Tapping Into My Inner Harley Quinn

By Rebecca J. Bozarth

 

Cosplay….if you’ve ever attended any sort of Con, you’ve heard this word.  If you know what it is, you most likely have your opinions on it and especially on those who throw themselves into the cosplay world.   What is cosplay?  Basically they took the words “costume” and “play” and turned it into a subgenre.  Folks who like to dress as specific characters that inspire them in some way, or make others laugh.  One of my favorite forms of cosplay is when someone takes two different characters and meshes them into one well-combined antithesis.  This photo I took at Dragoncon last year is one of my favorite examples.

d-con1

I’ve never really thought of myself as one of “those people,” someone who spend copious amounts of time crafting and putting together the perfect recreation.  But recently, I’ve decided to look at things in a new way, and change a lot of who I am.

In Atlanta, which is where I live, every Labor Day, close to 80,000 people descend on our already crowded streets to participate in Dragoncon.  Dragoncon is the second largest sci-fi convention in the US.  Every fan boy/girl can pay $80 for four days of hot sweaty geekiness.  During this time, you will be crowded into a hotel room – if you were so lucky to win that lottery.  Walk the hot Atlanta streets with wings hitting you in the face and swords poking into every orifice of your being.  Wait in line for hours to possibly make it into a room that is holding a panel of your favorite tv show.  Eat overpriced bad food.  Take in a drum circle.  Then party all night to roughly six am if you’re so inclined, get a couple of hours of sleep, and wake up to do it all over again the next day.  It is four days of geeky magic and I absolutely love it.

reb-1

This year, I did things a little differently.  I actually cosplayed.  Now, I love to dress up for Halloween and have done so since birth, but I have never cosplayed before.  I belong to Metro Atlanta Geeks, and was going to be attending the con with my fellow MAG friends.  They cosplay and love it.

The last couple of months have been about doing things different from my norm, so I decided I’m going all in and have the full Dragoncon cosplay experience.

reb-2

I’m blonde, and one of the major deciding factors for me with Halloween costumes is choosing a “blonde” character.  I HATE wearing wigs and refuse to do so.  So this past Halloween, I wanted to be Harley Quinn before the movie came out.  Of course there are many versions of Harley.  I’m a gamer, so when I saw the Harley from Arkham costume, I ordered it.  Some context about me, I’d been working on my weight for the past year, and though I had lost a lot at this point, when I got the costume, it was not enough.  So plan b.  Harley harlequin costume I found online that looked larger.  It came – same problem.  Plan c – purchase items and put together Harley from Suicide Squad.  This worked.  I found the shirt, chose a sexy skirt instead of her little red and blue hot pants, and no costume I wear is complete without my hooker boots.  Cool Halloween costume overall.  Sprayed the hair red and blue, made the “Goodnight” bat – the whole nine.  But it wasn’t perfect.

reb-harley-1

So skip ahead – Dragon Con.  Still working out almost daily.  I’m in process of moving to a new apartment (week before Dragon Con cause that’s smart) and I found my old costumes.  Not thinking they would fit, I tried them on – both fit perfectly!  I was very excited.  So I decided to ramp up my Halloween Suicide Squad Harley and get the hot pants and Puddin’ choker.  I was ready.  Each night, I would be a different Harley.

reb-harley-2

I arrived on Thursday night – which actually turns out to be one of the best Dragoncon nights.  Everyone is over the top excited and it’s not over crowded.  I had purchased a R2D2 dress from Amazon and handcrafted an R2D2 headpiece.  That’s the beauty of it – if you can build it save your money for other fun!  So I drew my headpiece on very heavy card stock I had left over from art school, wove a ribbon through it, and wa-la I had Thursday night’s costume covered.

 

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were my Harley costumes.  Friday: Arkham Harley, Saturday: Suicide Squad, and Sunday: Sexy Harlequin Harley.   For each, I had my hair in pigtails, two nights with the black and red, and Suicide Squad with the blue and red.  I whitened my face, put on heavy dark black eye makeup, and of course, blood-red lipstick.  It was surreal.  People were coming up (guys mostly) and asking to take pictures – of me!  I posed with a million Jokers it seemed.  Deadpools seemed to really like me – we’ll look past the whole different franchise thing….  The best was the little kids that wanted to pose with me.  Adorable!  I have never experienced something like that before in my life.  It was fantastic.  I got to be a sexy villain and pose like I was a celebrity.  I don’t know that I’ve ever had that much fun.  Walking along the Atlanta streets decked out, swinging my “Goodnight” bat.  For a moment, you really are your character.  Thankfully, there were no store windows with any shiny purses that caught my eye!

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And yes, cosplay world, you won.  You got me.  Though I made fun of many of you who took it so seriously in the past, I am now addicted, and already trying to decide what blonde sexy characters I’m going to create for next Dragoncon.  I’ll keep ya posted!

***

Rebecca J. Bozarth is a the owner of Fotografia Film & Design in Atlanta, Georgia, where she is a web and graphic designer and photographer. She’s an artist, gamer, and film nerd, and loves fantasy, scoff, and horror.

AbleTalks Print Gala Online Store! #artforAT

Photo by Tami Kirkpatrick

Photo by Tami Kirkpatrick

If you weren’t able to attend the first annual Print Gala to benefit AbleTalks, you still have a chance to support this worthy organization and snag some cool art for your walls! The remaining prints from the event are available to purchase in the AbleTalks shop:

http://abletalks.storenvy.com/

All sales go to benefit AbleTalks, a non-profit that provides Tuition-free, independent, continuing education for young adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities that allow students to achieve the career of their dreams.

The Alchemist AbleTalks Print

Prints of my steampunk fox, The Alchemist, can be purchased along with many other fantastic works!

Print Gala Online Store

Don’t miss this chance. The shop will only be open till October 21st!

Dragoncon 2016 – The Good and Other Thoughts

Last week I talked a lot about the bad stuff that went down at Dragon Con this year. These are obviously not crazy problems, and I completely understand that. More it was as much about having that moment where you just say “this is going to be one of those weekends” and it happened to be this particular one.

That said, I do have some thoughts about the convention below that occurred to me as I was waiting in the fabulous Line Ride(s).

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But first, The Good

On Saturday we saw the Legends of Tomorrow panel where I got to see a man dance like he might have been Michael Jackson in a previous life. Considering he plays Hawkman, a character whose whole gimmick is reincarnation, it was somewhat fitting. I discovered that the man who plays Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) might actually be Vandal Savage in real life (or more to the point, just frickin’ owns the role!). I realized that the cast realized they might have a drinking game on their hands with the number of times Kendra (Hawkgirl) says “But I was a barista only 3 weeks ago!” Something Robert had brought up the day before (that I hadn’t really noticed).

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Oh, and the complaint about not getting the line in quick enough from last week? Apparently that was not a problem for this panel as we got moving 15 minutes before the panel started and were seated by the time things got started.

Maybe it is a hotel thing?

I sat in a number of writing panels where I either learned something or it helped to reinforce some things I knew, but haven’t yet put into proper practice. I like to think of those panels as a nice way to get recharged for the rest of the year. You have all these people who just want to get their ideas out there, tell their stories, and hope someone enjoys them.

It’s refreshing.

Even on Sunday, we had no problems getting into the vendor’s room, and the extra floor really helped to let things breathe a little bit more. That’s probably the single best thing from the convention expanding into the America’s Mart buildings these last couple of years.

Like I said before, while it might have started out rough, we came home on Sunday with smiles on our faces, already looking forward to next year.

The OTHER

I do have a couple of thoughts about Dragon Con and where it might need to go eventually. Again, I’ve been going to Dragon Con virtually every year since 1993. And I know I’m probably in the minority on this, but during those moments when you can’t move due to the sheer amount of bodies in a building, where you can’t get into a panel without having to wait an hour plus in a line, and where there is even discussion about what a Fire Marshall might require.. it might be that Dragon Con is TOO BIG.

Dragon Con 2016

I’m not sure of the attendance numbers, I do feel that Dragon Con has gotten bigger and bigger over the last 4 or 5 years. When it gets unpleasant for people to be there, that’s not really the goal, is it?

Maybe they should consider a couple of things:

Capping attendance. Not sure if that is through only having pre-sale 4 day passes or something. I know they want to be able to serve everyone who wants to come, but enough is enough.

Or maybe this Con needs to move to a bigger venue. Yes, we all love that it’s in the hotels. It means that when you are sore and tired (and have a room), you can go upstairs and take a rest. But one of the things hotels create are choke-points. The sky bridges are natural choke points. Everyone is in costume, and it’s awesome, but I can’t move from one building to another because there is no flow. So many times it becomes salmon swimming upstream.

This year we were lucky to not have rain most of the weekend. When it rains no one walks the streets and the hotels cannot handle it. It becomes a complete mess.

Now used to be, before the Chick-fil-a Kickoff game didn’t exist, I thought “Hey, move to the World Congress Center, we’d have the space and everything would be in ONE BUILDING (effectively)”. Currently the Con is now in 6 buildings over like 5-6 blocks.

SIX BUILDINGS!

Come on. That is far too many.

Now that the football game exists, I don’t think being over there would be the best idea. We’d be on top of the football tailgaters. And while I love the looks on the people from out-of-town as they gawk at the cosplayers, we’d just be over crowed somewhere else.

So my solution, assuming the World Congress Center would work otherwise, is to move the date of Dragon Con. It’s not unprecedented. Used to be it was in mid-July. If you moved it, you’d be asking people to take that Monday off (instead of having the built-in holiday), but I’m not sure that would really be the issue. Monday is kind of hit or miss most years (we normally use that day to recover, but maybe we’re in the minority). Find that weekend where you are the only BIG THING in town.

Now maybe that would mean a slight dip in attendance, but I’m saying that may not be a bad thing. If there were 5-10% fewer people there… just something to think about.

And there is another benefit, more hotels available for the con goers. You wouldn’t be competing with the football people for rooms. Heck, could it be possible the prices might drop slightly (probably not, but I can dream).

Note, this is not me dreaming of the “good old days”, just trying to make it a little better before it becomes too big (an odd statement to be sure).

Again, maybe I’m just being grumpy. It’s always possible.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Dragoncon 2016 – The Bad

This year I think I’m playing the Grumpy Old Man.

That’s how I felt on Friday of Dragon Con. The little things adding up to just annoy and bother me. I’d like to think it was just a combination of things, but regardless of the individual pieces there was still enough there to last me until about 4:30 on Saturday. Luckily it all turned around shortly after that, and I was left with a positive taste in my mouth after the weekend was done.

But let’s start from the beginning…

Actually, let’s start about two week’s earlier, because that’s when I tweaked my ankle, aggravating an old Achilles strain. Come Dragon Con, it was still hurting. Good thing I wasn’t going to have to do much walking or anything!

But, I digress…

Friday morning we gathered the last of what we’d need for the trip to downtown Atlanta for the day. I had a couple of copies of my books and comics just in case (in case of exactly what, who knows, but I need to have them on hand more than I normally do). I go to the drawer in our desk where every other year I’ve placed the postcards Dragon Con mails out (effectively your ticket).

Not there.

I checked another drawer and then another and then another. At some point I could only say, “I’m starting to panic here, Courtney.”

After another 30 minutes of looking with no luck, I checked the web to see what the procedure was, and while it wasn’t on the FAQ, it was on a Reddit thread from like two years ago (just present your Driver’s Licence and you’re good to go). So we drive down, find a parking spot, and then go over to Registration… where they can’t find that we’ve paid.

Eh?

So now we have to go to the far side of the room where it seems one of the places didn’t turn in their registration forms last year. We don’t have a receipt because we’ve never needed to have a receipt. And I’m starting to wonder if maybe we didn’t preregister last year…

A minute later we have our badges and it is off to the Vendor’s hall.

Except, we get stopped about 8 people from being able to get in. It seems that they were already experiencing, at 2:30 on Friday afternoon, capacity issues and don’t want the Fire Marshall to shut them down, so we have to wait. Now this isn’t a big deal except that the Vendor’s room has been open for only 1 1/2 hours and they are having this issue. On Friday.

We make the pack not to bother to come this way on Saturday as I could only imagine how long the line to get in might have been.

30 minutes later we get in, do a quick walk through of one floor of the vendor’s room, before we have to go upstairs to the CDC Panel that I’m actually a part of (second time I’ve been on any kind of Dragon Con panel!). The panel was focused on the motion comic web series I helped write KABI Chronicles (check out all 7 episodes!).

(I plan on doing a full post about that whole experience soon.)

As to the panel, other than wishing more people had turned out, it went well enough. And afterwards we did another pass of the vendor’s room before heading out to eat.

All these people coming to Atlanta during Labor Day Weekend!

Now, here’s the thing. In Atlanta on Labor Day weekend, you have tens of thousands of people descending on downtown due to Dragon Con, the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Football game, AC-DC had played on Thursday night, and probably a bunch of other things I’m forgetting at the moment. So normally getting into a restaurant can be a bit of a pain. But not this night. Somewhere, the convention gods smiled down on us and said that Hooters would get us seated in about 15 minutes.

And then 45 minutes later we had to inform a manager type person that we still hadn’t gotten our food.

Why didn’t we tell the waitress? Oh, that could be because she’d disappeared for most of that time. And then, after the manager offered us free deserts to smooth things over, she tried to charge us for those as well!

That was enough for us, so Court and headed home, where I began to realize that I wished we’d actually had a room downtown so that I didn’t have to make that 40 minute drive again.

Saturday started fine, but nearly the last straw was trying to get into the Flash/Arrow panel. We decided not to try to play the epic game of “where does this line actually begin” but instead just wait until those people got inside, and then if there was room we’d go in (not wanting to screw anyone over here).

Dragon Con 2016

The problem is that Dragon Con puts these panels 30 minutes apart. But instead of loading the room as soon as the previous one is cleared, they waited until 5 minutes before the panel’s start time to start letting people in. By minute 20 of the panel people in that line still hadn’t finished entering.

What the fuck!?!

Had I actually been in the line and missed a third of the panel because of incompetence, I might have lost it on someone. As it was, we opted to go and check out something else for a little while.

Oh, and to the lady who was taking her time walking in the line… not hobbled or anything, just acting like she’s got all the time in the world – you’re not only holding up the rest of the line, but you are going to see a panel featuring stars from the FLASH, not slow-poke Magoo! Pick up the pace!

Then things took a turn for the better…

But that is a story for next week.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

 

Dragon Con Art Show Tomorrow!

The time has come! This afternoon I’ll be heading off to Atlanta with a car full of art for the 2016 Dragon Con Art Show. Drusilla and I have been hard at work in the studio preparing for what will be an amazing art show. I kid you not….

Drusilla is a little bummed I’m not letting her attend Dragon Con. She was totally up for a Kiki’s Delivery cosplay, which I admit would have been fun, but I would have to cut my hair super short–not happening. Sorry, Dru. On a more serious note, the 2016 Dragon Con Art Show is going to be an amazing show! This year’s Artist Guest of Honor is Stephan Martiniere, with guest jurors Daren Bader and Scott Fischer. You can check out the complete list of artist guests and participating artists in the show on the Dragon Con Art Show page. Below is where you can find me in the art show. I’ll have art for sale in the Gallery and for sale in the Print Shop.

Art Show Gallery

Art Show Print Shop

If you’re attending, don’t forget on Monday at 2:30 I’m hosting a panel on digital painting. I’ll be taking attendees through my process from sketch to finish!

What This Blog Looks Like Now Will Shock You!

Good things take a while. Bad things arrive instantly wherever they are not wanted.

Projects drag on for much longer than you ever thought possible. And I have the patience of… well, something with a lot of patience. There is a fine line between patience and stubbornness. Most times, I’m not sure I understand the difference. Either way, I do my best to remain upbeat about the little hiccups. I try not to worry about the medium-sized issues which tend to pop up every now and again regardless of the project you might actually be working on right then and there.

But when it all goes sideways. When Lucy pulls that damn football out from under you just as you prepare to strike the goal.

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That’s the moments that make you wonder if the Thing is ever going to actually happen.

I worry about what other people think. Not in the way you’re probably thinking. More in the writing itself. I wonder if people have it in the back of their minds that “oh, it’s nice he’s doing that comic book thing. Oh, that’s good he did that novel thing. But…”

And the “But” could be any number of things, but in my mind what the “But” signifies is that age old question so many writers tend to want to worry about – Am I a real writer?

Said with the same emphasis Pinocchio might have used when he asked if he was a real boy.

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You see, to my friends and family I wonder if they view this as a Hobby? Dreaded word that is. That maybe I’m just staying up until 2 in the morning because I got nothing better to do. That maybe I’m kidding myself in this pursuit.

So I want to have those moments where there is something tangible. Even if they might not “get” what I’m doing with the various comics, when I hold up a copy of the book there is something tactile they can see. And maybe they don’t have any idea of the work that went into it, but it is there.

Now, some/most/all of this might just be in my head. Stephen King said that (at least I think it was him) if you got paid for something you wrote and it was enough to pay for a utility bill – that’s it. You’re a “Real Writer”.

And I have managed to do that. Multiple times.

Yet doubt is there.

And then the doubt kicks into overtime when a couple of things don’t go my way. Earlier this year I sent a pitch and sample chapter(s) to an assortment of agents who represent Science Fiction for my novel The White Effect. Nothing, no takers. Earlier this month I entered a contest #Pitchwars with the same novel and got the same result (as in, I didn’t get anywhere with it).

Yesterday I found out I wasn’t accepted into the DC Comic Workshop.

Now, I understand… in my head, that these things are long shots. That the good things take time to happen.

But… it gets hard. Lucy needs to let me hit that ball from time to time.

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Then maybe it is fitting that this week, along with Robert Jeffrey, I’ll be participating in my second ever Dragon Con Panel to talk about a project that at multiple times I was 100% sure was never going to see the light of day. Because that’s just how these things go. Sometimes it is good to be wrong.

The panel (4 PM on Friday) is going to discuss the KABI Chronicles, a motion comic Terminus Media did for the Centers for Disease Control (yes, THAT CDC), to create a series of stories that could both entertain as well as teach teenagers and young twenty-somethings about STIs and HIV. Something that we started working on 5 years ago. Something that went from 3 episodes to 7 episodes. Something that was delayed and then restarted and then delayed and then…

Something that I helped to write. Something I helped to create.

And now it is out there.

Nice timing…

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Digital Painting: From Sketch to Finish

Dragon Con is fast approaching. Before I’m lost to the rush of art show preparations, I thought I’d share some facts about the panel I’ll be hosting this year.

Panel: Digital Painting – From Sketch to Finish

Day: Mon. 9/5 | Time: 2:30 | Grand Hall C

A detailed look into the process behind a digital painting. Gathering reference, models, the final sketch, using textures, painting techniques, and the myriad of decisions that go into a large painting. Slideshow presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

The painting I’ll be using for this presentation is Forest Dreams. I’ll be delving much further into the process than this GIF below. You’ll get to see all the reference I used, learn where I find models, hear me gripe about the challenges I faced and so much more. I might even show everyone the hideous first sketch I made for the idea of the painting.

If you’re not attending, I will be converting this to a video presentation after Dragon Con. It will be available first to Patrons and later on Youtube.

Terminus Media and the CDC Team Up For San Diego Comic Con

Two of Tessera Guild’s own are excited to announce a project years in the making will finally see the light of day 4:00 PM (PST) at San Diego Comic Con during a panel titled “Using Motion Comics for HIV/STI Prevention”. Robert Jeffrey and John McGuire acted a two of the main writers for the project in which they scripted a series of motion comics with the idea of both entertaining and informing. Episode One of the series will be shown in its entirety for the first time at the panel with a plan to roll out the additional episodes during the remainder of the year.

Below is the press release:

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Terminus Media and CDC Team Up for San Diego Comic Con

Press Release

Atlanta, GA (July 18, 2016) On Friday, July 22nd the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Terminus Media will host a panel titled Using Motion Comics for HIV/ STI Prevention at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. The panel will highlight the continuing collaboration between the CDC and Terminus Media a Creative Services and Entertainment Studio in their efforts to use the medium of motion comics/animation to raise awareness about HIV/ STI prevention.

“With using motion comics to spread “edutainment” our hope is that we will be able to use this medium to better illustrate the facts of this issue, while also highlighting the personal experiences of those affected by HIV/ and STI,” Mark Stancil, CEO and co-founder of Terminus Media explained.

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The event will be held at San Diego Comic Con between 4:00 pm-5:00 pm PST, in room 32AB. An official description of the panel is as follows:

4:00p.m. – 5:00p.m PST Using Motion Comics for HIV/STI Prevention

In the U.S., young people (ages 16-24 years) are significantly affected by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted infections (STI).  Storytelling through comic books has been shown to be a useful method for HIV/STI education and prevention.  The increasing popularity of comic related media and advances in computerized graphics have created new ways of using comics to reach youth with HIV/STI information.  You are invited to come and learn how scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Leigh Willis (behavioral scientist), Rachel Kachur (health scientist,) Ted Castellanos (public health advisor), John Brooks (senior medical advisor), and Terminus Media Mark Stancil (CEO),
Joe Phillips (lead artist) Lexington Wolfcraft (artist) worked to create an HIV/STI focused motion comic which improves knowledge about, and reduces stigma around, HIV and STI, and encourages healthy behaviors by young people.  Attendees will learn how audience feedback, behavioral research and cutting edge comic production methods were used to create the storyline and the look, sound and feel of this motion comic.  For the first time ever, during this session, the first episode of the series will be debuted.  Information will also be provided on how the public can access the full motion comic series and future plans for the series will be discussed.   

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About Terminus Media

Terminus Media is an Atlanta-based Creative Services and Entertainment studio dedicated to identifying, developing and aggressively marketing corporate and creator-owned properties into valuable multimedia assets. In addition to publication of critically acclaimed titles like The Gilded Age, the Glyph Comic Award winning, Route 3Terminus Team Up, and the Glyph-award nominated, Radio Free Amerika. Our Creative Services division assists corporate, government and private-sector clients with visual communication projects ranging from animation and character development to full-scale message-specific publications, including work done for such clients as the Centers for Disease Control, Nitto Tires, and The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra/Alliance Theatre.

www.terminusmedia.com

Terminus Media LLC

860 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 140

Atlanta, GA 30342,  contact@terminusmedia.com

Post JordanCon Thoughts

I’ve been home three days now, but they’ve not been the best of days. I woke up Monday feeling rough and then realized soon enough I had a stomach virus. Today I’m better, but not quite back to normal. Not fun, especially after such an incredible weekend. Part of what I love about conventions is meeting up with friends I only see at conventions. I have a couple I don’t see but once or twice a year. So that is always a treat. I definitely had a little too much fun this weekend.

Photos…. I have very few. I’ve found that since I’ve begun attending conventions as an artist, I either don’t think about taking photos or I simply don’t have time. Here’s a very tiny collection, if you’re interested in seeking more out, the JordanCon Group on Facebook has a great gallery of images from this year’s event.

This weekend was my most successful convention to-date. I sold my largest, most expensive piece, Renascentia as well as, eight other pieces from my art show bay. As for the prints I brought, I only sold 1 of the Alchemist and 1 of Spirit Guardian, but all 4 of the limited edition Dawn and Dusk prints. Those were more expensive than the regular prints and smaller, so go figure. I obviously should have brought more. Live and learn.

Limited edition print of Dusk - Hand embellished.

Limited edition print of Dusk – Hand embellished.

Regardless, I’m kind of blown away. I don’t think I’ve ever sold so much art in one weekend. I came home with empty boxes! A few of the unsold pieces will go into my shop, but some of the pieces I will retire and others I’ll store for another show.

What was different about this year compared to last?

1. JordanCon hosted DeepSouthCon – It’s a travelling convention. Our attendee numbers were higher than last year and author Brandon Sanderson was there too.

2. I wasn’t an unknown. After winning Judges’ Choice last year I did gain new followers on Facebook from the convention, some of which became new fans of my art and in turn new friends. I returned to JordanCon this year feeling as if I was part of their family.

3. I was more active, socially. Last year, I didn’t really know anyone. This year, I had a few friends that helped me feel more comfortable. We all hung out a lot and went to various room parties where I met more people. I spent an hour behind John Picacio’s (Artist Guest of Honor) table, just chatting. And I was also a part of an event called Win, Lose or Draw. I’m hoping to be even more involved in the art show programming next year. Ultimately, I met and spoke with so many more people than I did last year. My lips are still chapped from talking so much!

It’s a little weird having a big blank space on my wall. But, I’m okay with Renascentia going to a new home. It was time. She helped me discovered exactly what I want to do with my art–what I want to say. It took a year, but now I have Earth Rituals about to begin. It’s an exciting time. 🙂

Art Show: Jordan Con 2016 Tomorrow!

JordanCon 2016

It’s time once again for JordanCon! I’ve been consumed lately preparing for the Art Show. Consumed. I got behind earlier in the year when I was working on a painting for a secret project. I still can’t share that painting and it’s slowly killing me inside. Ha! But attendees at JordanCon will get a sneak peek if they buy one of my prints or an original from my bay. A crop of the painting is on the backside of my new business cards! I will be carrying some business cards on me too, if you’re brave enough to come up to me.

This year is a little different than last. I’m officially a Guest of the convention. Just a small guest, but a guest. Yay!! Saturday morning, attendees should head to the Washington room, across from the Art Show. At 11:30 a.m. four artists, including myself, will be playing Win, Lose or Draw. I promise you it will be hilarious.

Win, Lose or Draw at JordanCon

You can see almost all of the art I’m bringing to JordanCon in this public Facebook Gallery – JordanCon Art Show. I’ve pointed out which pieces will have prints in the print shop too. As always, I’m open to talking about my pieces if anyone is curious about my process and inspiration.

I’m heading out today around 5 p.m. for Atlanta. See you soon JordanCon!

This Weekend – SC Comicon in Greenville, SC – Meet Robert Jeffrey II & John McGuire

This coming weekend, both Robert Jeffrey II and John McGuire will be at the Terminus Media table at the South Carolina Comic Con, at the TD Convention Center, in Greenville, S.C. on April 2-3!

We will manning Table 129 in Artists Alley, so come and stop by, have a chat, maybe pick up a comic or 2.

Stop by to pick up new issues of The Gilded Age #2, Route 3 #3, Terminus Team Up #1 & #2, and a certain Glyph Comics Award nominated series recently released as a graphic novel!!

Head to http://sccomicon.com/ for more information!

 

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Petite Works Group Show Walk-through

My painting Bone Magic is currently in a group show at Eight and Sand Gallery in Seattle. It’s a little show, for little works of art. Take a look!

Petite Works Group show Eight and Sand Gallery in Georgetown Seattle.

A video posted by Alexandria Sandlin (@cherrybonesalex) on

Petite Works Group ShowBone Magic is a 4×5 acrylic painting on Arches Watercolor board. The painting has been sealed with a gloss varnish. I attached an actual vertebrae from my personal collection to the solid wood frame.

The exhibit runs till April 1st.

Bone Magic Frame

Convention Update – Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo 2016

This past weekend was the second annual (assuming we haven’t all killed the Expo organizer yet after 2 years) Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo. Probably the biggest thing that sets this little (though already more than doubled the number of vendors from year 1 to year 2) convention apart is the cost: FREE. You see, it is set up near the food court of one of the malls (North DeKalb Mall, just outside of Atlanta) and so anyone who wants to can take a stroll through the tables and maybe spend a little cash or just keep on walking. And while you certainly can’t beat the price, over the course of the weekend there were tons (I mean, I don’t have an exact number for you… let’s just go with tons) of people who had come for some shopping or the movie theater and found this weird little event going on right in front of them.

And while those random walk-ups may or may not bother to really read any of Terminus’s comics, it was still a chance to expose them to us, to some of the other indy comic guys from the Atlanta (and beyond) area, and to some of the novelists, costume people… all sorts of people really. People who might have tolled over their wares for years.

Now if you read my report from last year (go ahead, I’ll wait) you’ll see that I had very low expectations and then was pleasantly surprised throughout the weekend by the foot traffic we got. So this year I had hopes, expectations about the number of comics we might be able to sell. Of course we had a couple of new issues we debuted at the Expo (and that didn’t hurt):

Route 3 #3

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Gilded Age #2

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But that wasn’t all as we also had a rebranded cover of Terminus Team-up #1 (the comic featuring Terminus’s Amber Fox – a cross between Doctor Who and Laura Croft). In the past, for whatever reason issue #1 of that comic didn’t sell and therefore issue #2 didn’t sell (I mean, who is going to buy only issue 2… it’s all or nothing most of the time)… The new cover turned that around. So many times we had people grab the whole series (Team-up, Gilded Age, or Route 3) all in one purchase. And just that very fact meant that instead of only selling one comic to a potential customer you are easily selling 2 or 3.

Business Aside – I learned something more important than anything else I’ve mentioned in this post. You know how when you get gas there is always a $XX.X9.99 amount to it? Or when you go shopping in general and things are priced $10.99 instead of just saying $11.00. For someone with OCD I could see that possibly driving them nuts (or maybe soothing them, I guess, according to how their particualr OCD works). But the business people all swear by it… people get fooled and buy the item even though there is really no good difference between the price and something one cent more.

That also works just because… math, I guess. We had a sign which said: 1 comic for $4 and 5 comics for $20.

I’ll wait while you determine how much better that $20 deal is.

Got it?

Yeah, its the same amount. Obviously.

Actually, maybe not so obviously. So many people (not quite the tons of earlier… perhaps a different large number) ended up seeing that and buying 5 comics from us… I guess in order to get the “Deal”.

Note – we didn’t put the sign up that way to try and trick anyone. It was only after the other guys had put it there that I pointed out the difference (or the lack of difference between the prices). Still, it was a strange thing to think that maybe those $X.99 guys and gals might have been onto something this whole time.

End aside.

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Me and Robert Jeffrey II talking about our Funny Books.

 

So aside from meeting people and having a decent set-up, Terminus also was able to have a panel where we not only talked about our comics, but also we had someone from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) to discuss some of our motion comic footage we’ve been doing for them. This was the project that seemed to really interest people as they started asking questions about the project, about the focus groups, and even about what things they might want to see (one thing I definitely think we’d do if we get to do more episodes). And a member of Shadeaux Media sat in to briefly touched on the Video Game they are developing (using Amber Fox as the star). Plus, if you click on the above link it will take you to their Facebook Page where you can see a little bit of the digital world

I’m not going to lie, shaking hands and… well, shaking hands and talking to people all weekend – you’d think that wouldn’t tire a guy out, but it certainly does. But I’m glad to have done it, and fingers crossed I’ll be there next year, ready to go!

 

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John McGuire

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

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

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

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

This Weekend – The Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo

This coming weekend, both Robert Jeffrey II and John McGuire will be manning the Terminus Media booth at the Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo.

Located inside North Dekalb Mall, the best part is that it is absolutely FREE to attend (FREE? Yes, FREE!). So swing by and maybe chat us up, take a look at a couple of new premieres:

Route 3 #3 and Gilded Age #2 will both be available for purchase at the Expo.

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And if you come on Sunday, be sure to check out the Terminus Media panel from 2:00 to 2:50.

Badb Painting for the 2016 Twitter Art Exhibit

“Through art we can change the world.”

In 2014 I participated in my first Twitter Art Exhibit. <– Click to see my previous entry. The goal of every Twitter Art Exhibit is to raise money for charities, through the selling of postcard size art. This year’s exhibit is taking place at Trygve Lie Gallery in New York City, March 31st – April 21st, 2016. It will raise money to support Foster Pride’s Handmade Program. You can read a full press release here.

Once again I decided to with the magical bird theme… Big surprise, I know. This is Badb. She measures 4 x 6 inches and is watercolor and acrylic on Fluid Watercolor Paper (Cold Press, 140-lb).

Badb for the 2016 Twitter Art Exhibit

Badb is a war goddess from Irish Mythology. She was known to take the form of a Hooded Crow and instilled fear among soldiers to sway a battle to her liking. Below is a series of time lapse videos I took during the painting’s creation.

FOLLOW
Website: www.twitterartexhibit.org
Twitter: www.twitter.com/twitrartexhibit
Facebook: www.facebook.com/twitterartexhibit

A Door Never Dreamed Of – Opened!

A thousand years from today, nearly all of humanity is jacked-In.

We sleep, connected to machines, dreaming our lives away.

For most, it’s the perfect life.

But for the few who never jacked-In, it’s exile.  

Abandoned, persecuted, and betrayed, the Outs plot their vengeance across the centuries.

And when they open the Door, two sides will meet.

But only one will survive…

A Door Never Dreamed Of

A sci-fi novella

Now Available!

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The beautiful SOFTCOVER, featuring the stunning art of Amanda Makepeace.

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The deadly E-BOOK. Ending Kindles everywhere.

J Edward Neill

Inktober is Here!

Inktober 2015Inktober 2015 is here, everywhere online with the hashtag #inktober. I’m super excited to be participating this year. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for the last few years, but I’ve never had the time. This year, things are different!  I have the inks, paper and time to pull this off.  If you follow me online you’ll be able to see my posts daily on Instagram, Facebook, Twitterand Tumblr.  However, if you don’t want miss a single ink drawing then I recommend attending myFacebook Event.  The event page will have each daily post all in one spot and it gives anyone the opportunity to purchase a drawing before they go into my shop in November.

I’ve decided to go with a theme for my first time – Crows, Skulls and Owls! Here’s my first Inktober drawing – Contemplation.

Day 1 - Contemplation

If you want to keep up with other artists participating in the challenge just search for the hashtag #inktober on October 1st!

You can learn more about Inktober athttp://inktober.com/

 

Dragon Con/ Labor Day Weekend: Seen Through New Eyes

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

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

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

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

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

A quick rundown of the weekend:

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

Yeah, I said it. It’s fact.

Researched by scientists everywhere. 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s not natural.

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

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

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

And that’s never a bad thing.