The Agonizing Art of Writing Book Blurbs – Challenge Accepted

In the late moments of the day, when the wife and the cats have settled into sleep, I sometimes find myself struggling to come up with the next week’s blog (in between editing one novel and trying to finish up a novella at the moment).

Leave it to Mr. Neill to help a Guildmate out. He wrote a bunch of 1-sentence blurbs for each of his books, and then challenged anyone who happened to read his post to do the same for their own works. As this is a skill I certainly could use work on…

Well, Challenge Accepted…

The Dark That Follows by John R McGuire

 The Dark That Follows – A fortune teller comes to realize that his latest customer no longer has any future left.

HollowEmpireEP1

Hollow Empire – Twenty years after the Great Lichy Plague wiped out fifty percent of the population, the next generation struggles to find their way in this dark and desolate land.

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Beyond the Gate – A country surrounded by an oppressive Fog, where nightmares and monsters live, these are the stories of the Ruddermouths, the Sky Captains, and of the children of the festivals.

Machina Obscurum

Machina Obscurum – Dark tales of death, betrayal, and the end of all things.

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There’s Something About Mac – When Cindy “Mac” Mackenzie’s younger biological sister goes missing, it is up to Mac to track down the missing teen.

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Piece by Piece – Jason Mill’s fortune reading becomes an exercise in the Butterfly Effect as he examines a myriad of possible futures for his latest client.

The Guilded Age

Gilded Age #1 – Hannah Lancaster leaps at the opportunity to help the Branning Troupe’s Stage Magician, only to discover that his latest trick might be played on her.

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Gilded Age #2 – When you are known as the Fastest Gun, there will always be those who want to challenge for the crown.

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Tiger Style #1 – A kid with a Robin Hood complex discovers that he’s targeted the wrong “Rich” men, and these are willing to do anything in their power to reclaim a mystical artifact.

Terminus Team-up #2 – Amber Fox’s journey to the Gilded Age takes a detour through time as her companion seeks to understand how era’s end.

That definitely used a few different writing muscles. If you like any of these, click the pic and head to Amazon to pick up your copy today!

***

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.

Taking a stab at the DC Movies

There was a time… not all that too long ago where if you were to ask which of the Big 2 comic companies made the best movies, the answer would have been DC comics and it wouldn’t have even been close.

We no longer live in that time, but now we are on the verge of a true beginning of sorts from DC. Their cinematic universe truly begins this week. So now seems as good a time to rank the old movies. Note, I have only included those movies I’ve actually seen (so no Jonah Hex, Steel, or Catwoman… though, if I had to hazard a guess on where those might end up…)

2010-Biodiversity_countdown (1)

15. Batman and Robin – No doubt, just awful. I didn’t see this in the theater, and word of mouth spread pretty quickly on this one. And so I avoided the suck for so long… until one night I’m in my apartment with nothing to do and guess what’s coming on? I knew and I still watched it, trying to convince myself that there was NO WAY it was as bad as everyone made out. That worst case I could find some redeeming quality to it. Somewhere.

No. There is none. NONE.

14. Supergirl – I have seen it, but damn if I remember very much about it. I remember it being cheesy and… that’s pretty much it. Given that we never got another Supergirl movie I might not have been the only one.

13. Superman Returns – So Superman goes out into space for 5 years and only now comes back so that he can effectively redo his very first movie except that he has fathered an illegitimate child with Lois Lane? And Lex is doing a land grab? Again?

12. Superman IV – The Quest for Peace. Is that Ducky from Pretty in Pink? Oh, Lex, Lex, Lex… what happened? Oh Clark, what happened?  Has the Nuclear Man ever appeared in the comics? Yeah, I think that says it all.

11. Superman III – Why didn’t they use Red Kryptonite? Just why? I enjoyed seeing a mean Superman, but when you get right down to it, he’s really just having a Nic-fit, right?

But hey, Richard Pryor is in it. And I love Richard Pryor.

10. Batman Forever – It doesn’t hold up, I know that much. The Riddler, while way over the top (tell us something we don’t already know) is actually fine, but Two-Face… dear lord. Ugh. I don’t know who Tommy Lee Jones is playing, but that is not Two-Face.

unite the 7

9. Green Lantern – I love Ryan Renolds. I love Green Lantern (not like I love the Flash, but I have been collecting a Green Lantern comic since the early 90s). So this should have been a slam dunk, no doubter. And I enjoyed the movie, but I also know that it isn’t the greatest movie either. But I don’t know what exactly to fix… it seems like there is a lot. I just can’t see it.

8. Man of Steel – A lot of my thinking on this movie will/may be changed this weekend. There are tons of things I have problems with in this movie. Pa Kent’s death, the 45 minutes of disaster porn at the end, the fact that there is very little joy in the movie. Probably the only thing I don’t have a problem with is the ending. No, Superman doesn’t kill, but I’m not entirely convinced he’s Superman just yet. I think he’s still Clark Kent playing dress up trying to figure out how he fits into this world.

7. Batman Returns – Let’s forget about the Penguin storyline. No, really. If it was just Catwoman and Batman we’d put it on repeat and never leave the house. That’s how good their scenes are (and how good Michelle Pfeiffer was). Sadly it does have the Penguin and so it doesn’t end up higher on the list.

6. Superman – The glasses. It may be the dumbest thing in comics. I can’t explain it to my non-comic book friends and family. I just shrug and shake my head. Yet, Reeves made me believe that a man could wear glasses and no one would know. There is a scene (I think it is in this movie… it may be Superman II) where he’s about to tell Lois that he’s Superman. He takes off the glasses, stands up straighter, and projects his voice… and then thinks better of himself. By the time Lois has turned around he’s back to the nerdy Clark Kent and Superman is long gone. It’s a powerful moment that Reeves pulls off that not many could have. And if that was all this movie did, it would be enough to be this high, but this movie also gives us “Otisburg”… and I will forever love it for that.

otisburg

It’s an itty bitty place.

 

5. The Dark Knight Rises – Yes, I know. Your Batman would never retire. Your Batman wouldn’t mope and cry over the loss of a woman. I get it, and I got over it. Not a perfect movie, but it wrapped up the Nolan movies in a pretty satisfying way. Bane, Catwoman, Talia al Ghul (another one I didn’t think would show up on the big screen). Flaws and warts and Joseph Gordon Levitt.

4. Batman Begins – Tell me a Batman story I’ve never seen on screen before. Show me a version of his origin story that doesn’t begin and end in Crime Alley with pearls scattering onto the ground. This is my first “grown-up” superhero movie. It is grim and gritty, but more than that it is the journey from the Batman we know and love and that little kid in the alleyway (at least until Gotham, I guess). And it introduced everyone to Ra’s al Ghul. What more needs to be said?

3. Batman – I didn’t collect Batman comics in the 80s, so my 2 biggest exposures to Batman was the old live-action tv show and Super Friends (and I guess his occassional appearance on Scooby doo). I didn’t know anything about Frank Miller and his ground-breaking update of the Bat. So when I say that Tim Burton blew me away, I’m trying not to undersell it.

Oh, and Michael Keaton is still my Batman.

2. Superman II – For over twenty years this was my favorite superhero movie. It’s cheesy, I know. And I don’t care (though I’m still not sure why they thought Superman needed new and weirder powers). This movie gave us our first super powered fight. But what seals it for me is how he wins. After all the chaos and destruction, it isn’t through brute force that Superman saves the day… no, he does it by outwitting his enemies (even the great Lex Luthor). This was no naive kid from Kansas, but a hero worthy of watching.

 

i believe in harvey dent

1. The Dark Knight – And it wasn’t even close. Not only a great Batman movie, but a great movie. Period. Nolan had updated the Batman myth in Begins, but here he provides us with not only the most worthy of adversaries, but a character who I wasn’t sure would ever get a fair shake outside of the animated series in Harvey Dent. They gave us the true fall into insanity the character deserved.

 

***

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.

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.

Atlanta Expo-1

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!

 

***

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.

Comic Challenge, Part 7 (25-28)

For the first 6 in this series, check out: 1 & 2 & & 4 & 5 & 6.

25. Comic Book City/Universe You Wished You Lived In

This is a head scratcher as I actually think most of them would be absolutely terrible to live in. I mean, yeah, it would be cool to see Superman streak overhead while living in Metropolis or see the Avengers Tower in New York, but I also think seeing them means that some villain (with little regard for life) will be stumbling into view shortly – and nobody wants that, right?

And if you go outside the superhero comics – do you really want to live in the Walking Dead universe? Again, interesting to have thought experiments on how to survive the zombie apocalypse, but I don’t think I need to live through it.

So I think I’m flipping this one on its ear and choosing the absolute last city I’d want to live in:

gotham-city

Gotham

That thing I said about villains around every corner – true. Plus you have various mob style gangs running around the city trying to kill some mythical “Bat” while shooting things up themselves. Occasionally they’ll need to seal themselves off because of a Contagion or an Earthquake “Event”.

Oh, and don’t forget some psycho-clown looking guy forever trying to combine items in order to cause you to grin to death.

No thanks.

 

26. Favorite Comic Book Artist

Mark Bagley

I think Bagley might get the least respect of most artists I read. Because he is a constant. Month in and month out there is going to be a comic drawn by him. And that is something to be commended in a time where doing 12 issues a year is not really possible for most anymore.

Thunderbolts_Vol_1_9

But the reason his name always jumps to the top of my list is he is the first artist I remember verbally saying I really liked his work.

Yeah, I liked the Image guys, but it was reading one of Bagley’s New Warrior’s comics that I realized I liked his style. And then when this new artist took over on Amazing Spider-Man I commented “I really like this guy’s work… I wonder who it is.”

 

27. Most Annoying Character

Lobo_DC

Lobo

Everyone has their favorites. And I know tons of people who have nothing but love for this character. And I get that he’s a reaction to the edgier comics. That he’s poking fun at them at.

I just don’t like “The Main Man”.

And what’s weird is because his presence pulls me out of whatever comic I’m reading. He’s just too much. I know it’s crazy to put it that way.

You can deal with men flying or radioactive spiders or clown psychos, but Lobo is where you draw the line?

Yes. Yes, it is.

 

28. Worst Villain

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Mojo

I literally cringe every time I see him mentioned in a comic. I dry heave whenever he graces my pages. And a little bile rises to the top of my throat when I realize he is going to be the villain of the month for my most recent purchase.

He should have been a one-off villain. The sort who is the result of a dare lost by the comic creators during some drunken festival. And yet he somehow appears time and time again to ruin whatever it is I’m about to read. I get it, you run a tv station in another universe and created the X-Babies (seriously, look it up), and you… just… suck!

Arghhh!

***

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/ Labor Day Weekend: Seen Through New Eyes

dragoncon

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

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

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

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

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

A quick rundown of the weekend:

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

Yeah, I said it. It’s fact.

Researched by scientists everywhere. 🙂

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

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

0-steven-universe

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s not natural.

Injustice-Gods-Among-Us

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

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

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

And that’s never a bad thing.

Comic Challenge, Part 6 (21-24)

For the first 5 in this series, check out: 1 & 2 & & 4 & 5.

21. Comic That Changed the Way You See the World

spawn-1

Spawn #1

Yeah, I know. It’s a weird one to put as the answer to this question. A query which deserves some great piece of art as its answer. Something that truly stupefied me when I read it for the first time.

Before Spawn I didn’t know who created my comics. Obviously I knew Marvel or DC or occasionally Dark Horse, but I didn’t know who the creators were that were writing or drawing (or inking or coloring or editing or… you get the point) my favorite comic books. I never spent all that long on the credits page – get me to the MEAT!

Even when Todd McFarlane was drawing Spider-man, I didn’t really notice anything special (yes, I am the only one). But even I got caught up in the hype of Image Comics and the big name artists who were leaving Marvel in order to start their own company. Suddenly I knew at least 6 names of artists – and suddenly I realized how much I dug McFarlane’s art. So when he launched Spawn, well… it was the first time I was reading something because of who was doing it rather than the character they were writing or drawing.

22. Underrated Comic Book Series

Annihilation_Prologue_Vol_1_1_Textless

Annihilation

For the longest time the Marvel Cosmic Universe was this thing that got shoved to the side. No one really mentioned it other than an occasional Silver Surfer appearance in some random comic here or there. Which was a little annoying since I was always a fan of those stories. For some reason they felt like anything could happen because they weren’t confined to make sure New York appeared the same issue after issue. This was a place where alien races, some we’d known from the 1960s and some we were just discovering ruled and schemed…

And all that came apart at the seems with Annihilation. A wave of destruction that sought to wipe out all life throughout the universe.

It was a mini series that was left to tell its own story (again, not worrying about what was happening this month in X-Men). And the characters were not the ones you might expect. Nova, Silver Surfer, Super-Skrull… heck Star Lord made his “modern” debut.

Without this comic series I’m pretty sure that no one would know who Star Lord or Groot or Rocket or Gamora or Drax were. This is where things got started again for those who lived in the cosmos.

23. Old Comic You Love

what if

What If?

All those movies about alternate worlds, all those episodes of Sliders, all that thought after watching Twilight Zone or Star Trek’s Mirror, Mirror episode… what if a comic did that monthly for their own stories they were telling?

Well you’d get a comic book that is right in this guy’s wheelhouse.

And it’s not so much the stories themselves. Sure I’ve often wondered what might have happened if Gwen Stacy hadn’t died, or if the Fantastic Four had different powers, but the key thing was taking these ideas into very dark places the writers didn’t have a chance to do normally. You think that hero would probably die now due to X thing? Well, then he’s probably dying.

I still haven’t read all the ones from the original series, but I do have an older trade which collects a bunch of them, and then I have a bunch of the run from the 90s… but if you wanted a series where you might not legitimately be able to figure out the ending, then this was the one.

24. Comic Series that makes me smile.

Starman_Vol_2_57

Starman

Legacy character in the DC Universe. Check.

Reluctant hero. Check.

Once a year talks to his dead brother and gets advice. Check!

Starman was one of those comics that shouldn’t have really worked all that well. I mean, Starman had a comic in the 80s, a failed experiment in the 70s, and he was typically one of those characters who was just “around”. But James Robinson pulled together a family legacy of the surviving son doing his best to live up to the ideals of his father, while still retaining his own personality.

What really amazed me about the book is that nothing feels wasted. Nothing is really a throw away issue. Everything builds on itself, not just continuity, but the feel of the book. Maybe Robinson was getting more confident as time went on. Maybe those early seeds he plants in the comic are growing in just the right way. I don’t know the why, but I do know I devoured it each and every month. It is currently on my list of comics I need to reread (just as soon as I catch up on my current stack).

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Creative Interview with Martin Powell

Martin PowellThis week’s creative interview is with author Martin Powell, who I wish I had met at JordanCon back in April, but our paths never crossed. We connected afterward via Facebook and it’s been wonderful to discover Martin’s amazing library of talent. I hope you’ll be delighted too!

Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and what you love.

Well, I’m an insomniac writer of prose, graphic novels, and children’s books, with hundreds of published credits, which I suppose is proof of my restlessness. I was born and raised in Louisville, Ky., spent a number of years in the Twin Cities, but now I reside in Florence, Alabama with my wife, Leia Barrett Durham Powell.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer, a creator of stories?

I did, actually. Although I was also interested in many other things like stage magic, astronomy, and my formal education was in paleontology, which I’m still deeply connected with. But the writing bug bit me very early. I wrote my first book during Christmas holiday when I was in the second grade. So, yeah, I’ve always been lucky enough to know exactly what I wanted to do.

Martin Powell and the Komodo Dragon

 If you had to pick a favorite genre, which would it be and why?

Martin Powell and the T-RexNot sure if I really have a preference. I’ve pretty much written in every conceivable genre, from mysteries, science fiction, horror, comedy, westerns, and over two dozen children’s books. Ray Bradbury was a great friend and mentor, and he always stressed remaining flexible, which is crucial for the survival of a full-time writer like me. Happily, I’ve be able to write some of the industry’s most popular characters, such as Superman and Batman, Sherlock Holmes, Popeye the Sailor, and Tarzan of the Apes. I’m a very lucky guy.

We never officially met at JordanCon this year, but I saw you there. How and when did you become a part of this amazing event?

It was an amazing show, for certain. Actually, I sort of tagged along with my wife, as she’s a regular presence at JordanCon, with her novels and stained glass art. We both had a great time and, as a first-time guest, I felt very welcomed and at home there. Next year, please come to my table and say hello!

Martin PowellWhat are you working on now? And where can we find more?

Well, my most recently published books are JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN, from Dark Horse/Random House (which, amazingly, sold out within a couple days of being released), and a new children’s graphic novel version of ROBINSON CRUSOE, from Stone Arch Books. Currently, I’m writing seven different weekly online comic strips for Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and Leia and I are co-writing the prose novel, THE HEART OF FRANKENSTEIN, a genuine sequel to Mary Shelley’s original book. A number of other new projects loom in the near future, but I can’t talk about them yet. I’m looking forward to all of it. I always believe that the best is yet to be.

You can Follow Martin Powell on…

Amazon
Facebook

Thank you, Martin for taking time out of your busy schedule for our little interview. I will definitely stop by your table next year!!

Doom

Doctor Doom.

This is one of those things I can’t get my head around. Why is it that the Fantastic Four movies can’t get him right? Why is it that they want to tie him into the origin of the rest of them so badly?

And why oh why do they constantly turn him into a one dimensional character. Doctor Doom is nothing if not nuanced.  He’s not going to be concerned with a stock going up or down. He’s not going to be concerned with what the rest of the world thinks of him. He’s no…

Actually let me tell you why he is an interesting character, and then you tell me if they f-ed him up or not.

 

Every year he journeys to Hell in order to try and save his mother’s soul.

drs strange and doom 00

Oh, yeah, years previous his mother made a deal with the Marvel Devil (Mephisto) and when she died went to Hell. So every year Doom summons up the demon and challenges him to a duel (which he loses every year). He loses every year, gets to face some of his worst fears, is truly humbled… and then comes back the following year to do it again.

 

He Learned Magic from Morgan Le-Fey.

While not the exact version from our Arthurian Legends, it’s a pretty close version.

I mean that’s gotta be worth a couple of points right there.

 

He is as smart as Reed Richards.

If you were to rank the the characters in the Marvel Universe, Reed Richards would place as #1. Then if you examined things a little further you’d realize that while you ranked Doom #2 – he has divided his attention between both scientific pursuits and magical ones. Magic – that thing Richards thinks is just another form of science he hasn’t quite figured out yet.

Ergo, you might say that he is smarter. Or at least that’s what he’d say.

 

He’s the leader of his own nation!

Latveria, located somewhere in eastern Europe, is not only run by Doom (giving him Diplomatic Immunity when he is in the USA), but the people there legitimately LOVE him. There was a story where he was disposed and things went to complete shit… to the point the Fantastic Four had to help him get back in power.

 

He’s the godfather of Valeria Richards.

190760_original

How many people would allow their daughter to have a godfather who constantly tries to kill them? Well when Susan Richards went through a life or death pregnancy and Reed was nowhere to be found… who did they call for help? Victor Von Doom. Who then named the little girl.

Mostly I just love the fact that he genuinely cares for this girl in a way that I wasn’t sure would be possible. And woe onto anyone who tries to harm the child.

 

He wears a suit of armor and still doesn’t sweat Magneto

DoomvMagneto

 

He once took over the world and then actually made the Earth a paradise!

In the Emperor Doom graphic novel, Doom is able to use the Purple Man’s powers of persuasion to gain control over everyone on the planet (save for a couple of Avengers… meddling do-gooders). And when the Purple Man calls into question how legitimate the victory really is, Doom steps into the room with him and removes his mask and the following happens:

Doom and purple man

 

He’s taken the Beyonder’s powers.

In the Marvel Universe the Beyonder is one of the ultimate power movers and shakers. A god of sorts who, for his own amusement, brought a bunch of heroes and villains to an alien world to watch them fight it out.

Well Doom is no man’s puppet.

2407785-marvelsuperheroessecretwars10

He took the “god’s” power and for a short time, kept it.

 

There are tons of others:

He saved Kitty Pryde’s life when she had been injured by the Marauders (with a tiny bit of help from Reed Richards).

He’s fought Iron Man in Arthurian times.

He’s appeared on the old Spider-man cartoons! I mean, that’s probably the biggest reason right there.

So you tell me, did the movies do him justice?

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Is it too late for the Fantastic Four?

So the Fantastic Four movie came out this weekend. I did not see it. I will eventually see it when it hits OnDemand or some such nonsense, but I was kind of iffy on the whole idea of them rebooting the franchise in the first place after they did such a bleh job with the first two movies.

FF movie poster

Let me set the record straight though… I try to maintain an open mind when it comes to these movies. Just because it is not Marvel Studios does not immediately mean that it is going to be terrible or awful or whatever. Most of the X-Men movies would like to explain that they vehemently disagree with such a statement (as would the first 2 Rami Spider-man movies, but I digress). I try to keep an open mind when it comes to Ben Affleck as Batman because I remember reading about how no one thought Michael Keaton could do the job in the 80s and he killed it.

is-michael-keaton-jealous-of-ben-affleck-s-batman-michael-keaton-batman-returns

<Alright John, they get it. Now on with the skewering.>

Right, the FF movies. What is going on over at Fox? I can’t believe that they can’t figure this property out. I wrote about the seeing the trailer back in January and just the overall concept of the Fantastic Four here. But what I can’t figure out is that they have 50 years worth of stories with these heroes and they keep going off the rails trying to make it different or trying to tie Doctor Doom in with their origins.

So it makes me ask: is the Fantastic Four something that just can’t work in a movie format? Are they too much of a product of either their time or the idea that they are not really superheroes first (they’re explorers). If that is the case it is nothing to be ashamed of. There have been plenty of excellent comic book writers who didn’t seem to “get” one aspect of the FF or another. It isn’t an easy concept to wrap your brain around because if you only have them exploring the unknown then are audiences going to wonder where the heck the superhero fights are? And when they treat them as more superhero than not… well we get what we’ve always gotten.

So now, after such a dismal opening weekend (about 1/2 of what they were expecting) it’s caused the hard-core Marvel Studios fans to hope that THIS might be the thing to get control back in the right hands. These are the same people that prior to the movie’s release were hoping for this exact outcome. That if FOX loses too much money they will “come to their senses” and send the property packing.

The thing is, had Marvel Studios had the rights to Fantastic Four and X-Men and Spider-man we wouldn’t have the Avengers franchise (or certainly not the way it is today). Marvel had to look at their library and realize “we don’t have some of our top line characters… what the hell do we have?”

If FF were brought back into the fold, would they even want to focus on those characters for the time being? Sure we’d get mention of the Baxter Building, but those types of Easter Eggs are for the hard-core fans. Marvel already has its slate of movies for the next 4, 5? years it seems. They have a plan and seem to want to stick to it. The last thing you want is another of these movies pushed just because they have the rights back (plus the movie-going audience may not forget how bad this one seems to be – that’s going to be an uphill battle just to start).

I guess there is one reason for me to get on the bandwagon in regards to Marvel getting the rights back… maybe Doom can show up in an Avengers movie. Maybe that’s the one thing that might be able to rehabilitate the first family of Marvel?

Victor_von_Doom_(Earth-616)

A well done Doom would be amazing.

 

<Oh and why can’t they just steal a rocket in order to go into space? Given the private industry side of things when it comes to rockets to outer space… this idea makes more sense now than it did in the 60s (Space Race aside)… Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Please.>

<Just something else I don’t understand.>

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Checking In: Writers Edition

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

Superheroes and sci-fi?

I know, I’m a big nerd.

Comics:

Promo R3#3 2

A scene from Route 3 # 3.

 

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

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

Promo R3#3 1

A scene from Route 3 # 3

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

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

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

zombie-horde-the-walking-dead

Zombies. And even more zombies.

 

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

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

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

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

Cover for Radio Free Amerika: Season 1.

Cover for Radio Free Amerika: Season 1.

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

It’s too cool for school up here.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

parallel_world_by_ayronstorkarynx-d48sl11

Inter-dimensional travel: the only way to travel.

 

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

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

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

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

Blogging/ Journalism

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Comic Challenge, Part 5 (17-20)

For the first 4 in this series, check out: 1 & 2 & & 4.

17. A Comic That Reminds You of Someone

This is one of those things that I don’t really think about all that much. But if I had to choose it wouldn’t be just one comic book, but a comic series.

Legion

Legion of the Superheroes reminds me of my Dad. It was his favorite comic growing up. On more than one trip down to visit my grandparents in south Georgia he would tell me about this group of teenaged heroes from the far future who fought various villains… who were inspired by Superman himself and often hung out with Superboy.

At the time I was just beginning to discover comic books and Marvel was more to my taste, but to hear the various crazy characters and just how he talked about those old stories… well, when DC rebooted them in the early 90s, I jumped on the chance to start reading them, fresh and free from any continuity.

And they were great. Obviously this version was slightly different than the one my Dad read, but it was still the same core of great characters. And it became one of my favorites (right up until they rebooted it again… which we won’t get into).

It’s nice when things come around full circle.

 

18. Favorite B List Character

For years I might have answered this with Hawkeye and prior to the movies you would have scratched your head (or maybe said “The Bow and Arrow guy”). But now that does seem right.

So I go with my back-up character.

Moon_Knight_Vol_3_2

Moon Knight

Here’s the thing, Moon Knight gets a bad wrap for being “the poor man’s Batman” or “Marvel’s Batman”, but that’s not who he is. Where Batman is thought of as having a screw loose…

Moon Knight is legitimately crazy. He’s got a whole mess of personalities living in his head (a play off the phases of the moon). Sometimes the line between an “undercover” identity and a new personality gets blurred for him.

Oh yeah and he talks to an ancient Egyptian god: Khonshu who may or may not talk back to him.

 

19. Favorite Comic Book Cartoon Series

YoungJustice

Young Justice.

Yes, I realize that Batman the Animated Series exists. And I realize that Batman Beyond exists. And I personally loved Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.

But Young Justice just clicked for me in a way that I can’t explain. I’m not sure if it was because I dislike Teen Titans Go so much (sooo much – which is fine, it is not made for me anyway).

Young Justice focused on the “side-kicks” while still having members of the JLA show up. They actually had to train… and we saw it. The various members of the cast had about as equal time as you could get given any ensemble. And they had a multi-season story-line while still being able to tell these amazing small stories.

The show introduced me to the new Aqualad (not sure why the new 52 hasn’t brought him back yet), Miss Martian (who might be my favorite character from the show), Tim Drake Robin… Dick Grayson Robin… Conner Superboy…

I loved everything about this show.

 

20. A Comic With Witty Dialogue

 

arms2Archer and Armstrong

I have to admit, I came to the 90s version of Valiant a little late. By the time I hopped onboard they were nearing their height, print runs were getting out of control and those low print runs of the earliest issues made it impossible for me to go back and grab the issues I was missing. So I started with X-O Manowar and Turok, Dinosaur Hunter, but I think I really liked the idea behind a 3rd Superhero Universe more than trying to get into a 3rd universe.

Flash forward to a couple of years ago and Valiant relaunches. So I grab all the launch titles. One of which is this odd story of a sheltered kid who has some kind of special abilities (Archer) and the man he’s supposed to kill (Armstrong). They fight, they argue, they really are the comic version of the Odd Couple. And it is goofy and odd and funny…

And it works.

I assumed that this comic would be the one that I’d drop first, having no connection with the characters from back in the day… and yet, somehow, someway, it became my favorite of the new Valiant books.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Comic Challenge, Part 3 (9-12)

For the first 2 in this series, check out: 1 & 2.

9. First Comic Series You Seriously Pursued

avengers-movie-poster-1

Avengers

I was reading it before the rest of you even knew who Iron Man and Black Widow and Hawkeye were!

I mean, two of the first 4 comics I ever bought were Avengers related. I’m not sure why I gravitated to them more than the X-Men (who I liked, but never really loved). I think I dug the idea that the roster could change. That you’d have a couple of the Big Guns (Iron Man, Thor, and Cap), but you also got the other guys (and gals): Hawkeye, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, etc.

They had some of the best villains because they didn’t have to stick to “only mutants” or “only Doctor Doom” or whatever. Loki, Kang, Masters of Evil, Grim Reaper, ULTRON…

It’s really one of 3 comic series that I’m hoping to have a full run of one day. The other two I’m effectively done with (The Flash (Wally West) and Firestorm). With The Avengers the biggest gap now begins with issue 1-120 (pretty much the 60s). Mostly because those are the pricier ones. Slowly but surely I’ll get them.

 

10. Comic That You Love That You’ll Never Read Again

This makes me sad to even think that might be the case. I’m always hoping for a little extra time to maybe take another read through my comics. It would be a true walk through my own timeline in a lot of ways.

So the answer could possibly be all of them (or any of them). 30+ long boxes would take a fair amount of reading to catch up on (and I’m a fast reader).

I think I have to cop out on this one. It’s just too painful a thought that those old stories will never pass by these eyes again.

 

11. Comic That Makes You Wanna Have Sloppy Make-outs With Someone

fraction annual

Sensational Spider-Man Annual #1

I’ve mentioned this comic before in my Spider-Man post, but I think that anyone who can invoke these feelings of love between two fictional characters has done their job. And it’s no small feat to do it with a character that others can’t figure out. They didn’t know what to do with this marriage, this relationship, and so they retconned it out of existence. Luckily I still have this issue… they can’t take that from me!

 

12. Great Plot Twist

A little background as this one is very comic nerdy.

Back in the late 90s Marvel licensed out some of their comic that weren’t doing so well to some of the Image guys. These were Avengers related titles (and Fantastic Four) (which is strange to say nowadays, but back then X-Men ruled the Marvel roost and Cap and Iron Man were just kinda there). Since those comics were going to be in a new continuity, the regular Marvel Universe had a big story line which got rid of them (see Onslaught for more details).

However, just think about it. Pretty much half of your major heroes were gone and the X-Men pretty much keep to themselves. So who’s going to stop Kang or Graviton or whomever is going to try and take over the world?

Enter the Thunderbolts. This new group of heroes who arrived on the scene and saved the day against the Wrecking Crew. They were unknowns, but their leader had taken his name from an old WWII hero – Citizen V. The people of Earth needed someone to believe in. Needed someone to help them sleep peacefully at night.

And then, in the closing moments of that first issue, we get the reveal. The Thunderbolts were not heroes, they were villains. In fact, they were some of the worst – The Masters of Evil.

Thunderbolts-1-1997

My jaw hit the floor upon reading this issue. I knew exactly who they were and could not wait for issue #2 to arrive the next month. And Thunderbolts became one of my favorite comics for a long while.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Comic Challenge, Part 2 (5-8)

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

5- Comic that made you cry

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

We3_2

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

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

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

Really.

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

Bone.

Bone-complete

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

y-the-last-man-comic(1)

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

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

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

8. Current or Most-Recent Comic Book Related Wallpaper

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

SPIDER-MAN 3

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

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo Recap

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

Atlanta Sci Fi Expo Banner

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

And so on.

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

But I have to admit… I was wrong.

Robert and I holding down the table at Atlanta Expo

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

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

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

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

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

Gilded-Age-Atlanta-SF-Expo

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

4 Steps to a Comic Challenge

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

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

1 – Your First Comic Book

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

transformers-comic-4

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

FF 277

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

west-coast-avengers 20

xmen 217

Avengers_Vol_1_279

Amazing_Spider-Man_Vol_1_287

And my wallet has never been the same.

2 – Your Favorite Character

The Flash!

Spider-Man!

Doctor Doom!

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

Flash1

 

3- A Comic That is Underrated.

H.E.R.O.

hero1

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

Very kiddie. Pure dumb fun.

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

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

4- Your Guilty Pleasure comic or character

Knights of the Dinner Table

kotdt-strip

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

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

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

The World’s Greatest Comics Magazine…

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

fantastic-four

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

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

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

All that seems weird to me.

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

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

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

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

Dr-Doom

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

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

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

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

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

They are a family!

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

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

Fantastic Four-Spidey and Franklin

 

fantastic-four-5-uncles

 

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Death of the Physical

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone… and for the most part, this year was a complete bust as far as some item we absolutely wanted or needed. It seemed like the majority of deals centered around tablets or video game systems, but since we are lucky enough to have the former and I still have games to play on my XBOX 360 before I need to upgrade systems… there just wasn’t that much out there.

black-friday-casas-bahia

What I did spend a small amount of money on was in the ebook and ecomic realms. And it may be getting to a point where I’m going to need like a year off to read the back-log on my Kindle. Even as I work through the Dark Tower there are a dozen of other books that stare at me from their perch on the bookshelf. They taunt me with those unread words. They challenge me to take a minute away from the glowing screen in the other room and give them a spin. They make it so that I keep my Kindle in the car so that I can squeeze in a little bit of reading time regardless of where I am.

That’s all good and fine, I suppose. I mean, for the most part I’ve not been overly sentimental with books I’ve purchased. I mean, I am a pack rat – so I hold onto things for way too long and that does include some books that I know in my heart of hearts I will never read. But I keep them anyway. But with the digital version I find that I fill up my Kindle with all sorts of books and the list gets longer and longer.

With the ecomics though, that’s been a change over the last year or so. I’m still the guy who goes to the comic store every couple of weeks to pick up his physical copies of the comics I read. I still snag the occasional trade when I need to. But… I find that sometimes having that digital version of something is a better bet for me on some things. And it is damn weird.

All-Devices-Image

So far it has been comics that are either independent and getting a physical copy might be a little more difficult, or it is a mainstream title that I don’t want to pay full price for, so I wait for the $0.99 sales and load up. And Black Friday/ Cyber Monday were good for this. I only spent about $10 and could have easily spent over $100. They had Batman comics for sale, and Image comics for sale, and trades and graphic novels reduced. And my finger hovered over some, but still couldn’t pull that trigger every time.

And it is not about reselling that stops me. The idea that most of the comics I read will not appreciate much over the course of my life is not that big of deal. That boom from the early 90s nearly killed the comics industry. Plus I do have my Walking Dead comic books if I ever want to take a vacation.

I think that with comics, that feeling of opening up the pages, of being able to turn them in my hands… that tactile feeling they provide. I fight against it, but I’m fighting against almost 30 years of conditioning and reading and storing the things. Maybe I’m wrong about that reselling thing as well… more conditioning.

Much like every other item that I keep, these physical copies have memories associated with them. Certainly not every one of them, but a good number. Whether it is those first 4 comics I bought in a convenience store or a Transformers comic before that or even the random Fantastic Four comic I bought at our elementary school’s book fair (still not entirely sure how that issue managed to make it in considering they were fighting against… well, effectively the Devil). I remember passing my copies of Spectacular Spider-Man to my friend Heather during class to let her read about this black costumed Spider-Woman. I remember rushing over to Chad’s house and him and Egg waiting for me to finish the latest issue of the Flash in order to actually be able to talk about the OMG! moment right then.

feature-accessories._V324779281_

And those are just the top of the ice… and I wonder if the digital comics can have that same effect? Will I be able to make any lasting memories while reading an ecomic or does it make it just more disposable… like the Entertainment Weekly’s that build up over the course of a month?

So I probably cling to the paper a bit too much on one side and then not very much at all on the other. Not sure what any of that signifies… not sure if in a year or two from now I’ll have more and more regular series on the iPad and less and less in physical form (even typing that I wanted to write “real form” instead).

longboxes

One foot in the past and one foot inching towards the future… I guess.

Maybe.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Searching for a Super Power

I’ve been thinking about the scene in Mallrats where they are playing their version of the Dating Game and Brody (Jason Lee) is asked “If you were a comic book character, what character would you be?” Brody then begins to break it down: “What does one gauge his response on? Physical prowess? Keen detection skills? The ability to banter well with super villains?”

dating_show

He never gets to really answer the question, but it is certainly one that I’ve asked myself. Or more directly, what power would I want? So I’m going to break it down.

Flight – Let’s face it, flight is an amazing ability for those of us who must move along on the ground. To be able to reach up into the sky and really see the world as it is, in a way that very few ever could.

But, eventually they are going to make that hovercar technology and then everyone is going to be able to fly and you’ll just be sucking fumes.

manofsteel

Invisibility – This could be a good one. I’m pretty sure that there have been more than a handful of times that not being able to be seen would come in handy… get your mind out of the gutter!

I’ve seen Hollow Man. I’ve read the Invisible Man. It seems like madness is truly the biggest side-effect to having this power. I mean, even the Invisible Woman has had her bouts with it from time to time. And I’d be worried that an ability like that pretty much can only make you the biggest pervert in the world… now get your head into the gutter.

invisible

Telepathy – To be able to read people’s minds. To know when someone is hiding something from you. To see when they are lying to you. To find out exactly what people really think about you…

The Twilight Zone even had an episode where the guy suddenly could read minds and as we all know (A Penny for Your Thoughts), if that show does an episode on something then it always… turns out… good?

Come to think about it, that might not be the best idea. Ignorance is bliss.

Super Speed – The Flash makes it look so fun. He can move so fast, vibrate through objects, even create sonic booms. In the comics they always show him as the guy who helps rebuild the city because he makes it look like things only take 5 seconds.

Here’s the thing, something that I’m not entirely sure has ever really been broached by the comic books or the tv shows… it still has to be done by him. ISo for him, even moving really fast, he has to actually shovel the snow out of the driveway, he has to clean the house one room at a time… yes, to the rest of us he gets it done fast, but he still gets to deal with the part of actually doing those crappy jobs. And he can’t ever complain about it because everyone else will tell him how long it will really take them to do the same task.

Sounds like a lot of work.

Super Strength – Awesome, you have a power that will come in handy if you need to… hmmm, I’m trying to figure out when this one would come in handy in every day life. I guess the pickle jar will never remain stuck. The groceries will never be too heavy? Luggage?

Yeah, might be cool for a second, but I need something bigger and better.

Laser Blasts – Unless I’m fighting a villain, I’m not sure I need to be a living weapon. I certainly don’t need anyone and their brother trying to use me to whatever military purpose I might be suitable for. I’m probably missing a cool application of this power, but since Doctor Doom is not on my dance card most nights, I’m not feeling it.

Teleportation – To be able to move great distances in a split second. To no longer need to use a car or a plane or whatever to get from point A to point B. To be able to roll out of bed and be anywhere in the world with just a thought. I mean, sure there is that whole making sure that you don’t teleport into a solid object, but you could always scope things out beforehand. Set up particular spots to go to and from. Heck, I could live on a luxurious beach and still work wherever I wanted.

Star_trek_beam

And sure, maybe that means when your wife sends you to the market, she means the market in Hong Kong for that authentic Chinese Take-out, but hey, that may be a price worth paying.

So for me, I think I’ll go take a quick trip to Hawaii where it is nice and warm as opposed to the beginning of winter that I’m already tired of.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

 

Notes from my Nightstand

If you read my post last week, you know I have full schedule at the moment. Even so, I find time to read. Reading is my pre-sleep ritual. It’s how I wind down. Here’s what I’ve read over the last couple months and also what I’m reading now.

Books

The Martian by Andy WeirThe Martian by Andy Weir (Kindle)

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

The astronomy lover in me and young girl who grew up with a NASA cousin devoured this book. I can’t recall the last science rich novel I read. It was a treat! The Martian wasn’t all science though. There was plenty of tension, but Watney’s humor helped keep things balanced. The ending may not have been much of a surprise, but I was still gripping my Kindle till the end.

The book is already being adapted for film. Matt Damon is playing Watney. I’m not so keen on this choice and now that I’ve read the book, I’m not sure I even have a desire to see it as a movie. I already know what’s going to happen!

The Genome by Sergei LukyanekoThe Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko (Kindle eARC)

Five months after the horrific accident that left him near death and worried that he’d never fly again, master-pilot Alex Romanov lands a new job: captaining the sleek passenger vessel Mirror.  Alex is a spesh—a human who has been genetically modified to perform particular tasks.

More Science Fiction! This time from one of my favorite authors, Sergei Lukyanenko, author of the Night Watch series. The Genome was not what I expected but I still enjoyed the story. Reading translated works is sometimes a challenge. Translations can alter the original flow of a sentence or a scene, but I was able to overlook that here. What I enjoy most from Lukyanenko’s novels are his characters. The Genome is a quicky SciFi novel that weaves a galactic mystery (there’s a Sherlock Holmes spesh!).

 

What to read next… I’m never without options on my Kindle or even the bookshelves in my room. The top three books in my Kindle are: Beyond the Gate (featuring a story by Tessera’s John R McGuire), Engraved on the Eye by Saldin Ahmed, and The Imago Sequence by Laird Barron. All of these are short story collections.

Comics

My current pull list at my local comic shop features:

 

 Art Related

Fantasy IllustratorI always have art related reading materials close at hand, though they are not usually my first choice for bedtime reading. My newest purchase is the latest installment of Fantasy Illustrator from ImagineFX. This is the traditional media edition (pencil, oils, acrylics and more). I have never bought an issue of ImagineFX that didn’t teach me something. These magazines are worth every bit of that $17.99 (and more for the big issues).

To Be Read Podcast

logopodcast

I’m going to be on the To Be Read Podcast TONIGHT to talk to the guys about graphic novels and the like. If you have a chance, you can watch live starting at 9 PM (EST)  here.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

The Fastest Man Alive

The Flash is my favorite DC comic book character. If I had the chance to write a DC comic (aka The Dream) it would either be the Flash or Firestorm (more on him another time). So when they announced the new Flash tv show what do you think my reaction to it was going to be? Excitement? Marking it down on the calendar… making sure I took the day off?

No. I wasn’t excited. I wasn’t looking forward to it at all.

3167440-the-flash-logo

Let me clarify that for some of the non-comic people out there with a little history lesson. There have really been 3 people to wear the Flash costume for any length of time (yes, comic book people, I am aware there have been more than 3 – but I’m just going to talk about the Big 3, ok?).

Jay Garrett – Jay was the first Flash way back in the 1940s. I’ll admit that most of my knowledge about Jay is entirely based on comics written in the 90s and the 00s (my collection only goes back so far). What I will say is that in the later years Jay has been treated as both the elder spokesman for the entire Flash family as well as held a leadership role in the Justice Society of America.

Garrick_ross

Plus his costume is kinda awesome.

Barry Allen – This is the one you’d most likely be familiar with if you read comics pre-1986 or watched the live-action show in the early 90s. Barry Allen. And this is the man the new TV show will be focused on.

1142040-barry_allen_1

This is where I have a little blasphemy.

I gotta say, Barry is boring to me. In the comics he’s the CSI scientist who is a bit bumbling and wears bow-ties and is always late to everything (get it – he’s late, but yet he’s the fastest man alive – ugh). I always thought that the best thing that Barry ever did was give his life for the universe (see Crisis on Infinite Earths for more on that story – in fact, if you haven’t read that one then you should do so immediately. It has everything a superhero story is supposed to have – high stakes, heavy losses on both sides, and it changed the way comic events were looked at). A character who seemed to accomplish more by being dead than being alive. He could be something that all other strove to emulate. He could be this thing that showed the true merit of a hero.

There is one good thing about Barry – his villains. Behind Spider-Man and Batman, I think that the Flash has the best villains. Mirror Master, Captain Cold, Heatwave, Weather Wizard, Professor Zoom, Abrakadabra, Gorilla Grodd… and all of those come straight from Barry’s run as the Flash.

Wally West – This is my Flash. You may know this version of the Flash from the Justice League cartoon.

When I started reading comics – this was the current Flash. And as I read I began to understand where this character came from. DC has built itself over the years by being a company all about legacies. Those ties from the 30s and 40s which stretch to the 50s and 60s and then end up in the 80s and 90s.

3 generations of heroes.

Flash1

But it was in Wally West that this idea was really fulfilled. Years before Dick Grayson (Robin) would become Batman (after Bane broke his back), Wally shed the Kid Flash costume and adopted his uncle’s. But it wasn’t a comfortable change. For years he struggled with the idea of living up to the legacy of a man who sacrificed himself for the entire universe.

Wally wasn’t as fast, wasn’t as smart, and maybe he wasn’t supposed to be anything more than Kid Flash.

He just wasn’t Barry.

Until a writer named Mark Waid took over the book and saw in Wally something more than his uncle Barry. Yes, he lived in the shadow of greatness, but that did not preclude him from being great. Maybe he could be better than any other speedster had ever dared. He just needed a little push.

He became The Flash.

So maybe you can understand why I wasn’t over the moon about the Flash tv show. It wasn’t going to be “my” Flash (which I knew it couldn’t be, but still). And I like the fact that Arrow is pretty grounded – this was going to throw it all out of whack. I made up my mind to begrudgingly watch it, but it would be under protest.

Then I saw the first teaser… hmm…

The I saw a trailer for it… uhm, that looks pretty good…

And now that the moment is almost here… well, I might be getting excited about it.

***

Bonus – My Top Flash storylines:

terminal velocity

Terminal Velocity (The Flash #96-100, vol. 2) – Wally West realizes that he is going to die very soon, consumed by the very energy he uses to achieve great speeds. So he does the only thing that he can, he passes his legacy onto a new Flash… all the while trying to stop a madman from blowing up his city.

Terminal Velocity was the comic that brought me back to the Flash after having stopped picking it up for about a year. It was also the comic that made Wally West my Flash. The beats in each issue builds to the point where you’re legitimately not sure how things are going to turn out.

race against time

Race Against Time *The Flash #112-118, vol. 2) – Wally is caught in the timestream, his memory swiss cheese… the only thing he has that can keep him from disappearing into the Speed Force is his love, Linda.

Of course, this trip through time leaves a different sort of Flash back in the now. And he and Linda seem to be getting a bit close…

Time travel and the Flash go hand in hand. Two of his villains are from the future. He has a treadmill that can let him travel through time (don’t ask). But mostly I love this story because of one moment where Wally’s world comes flying apart. I remember having my friends wait for me to finish reading the issue so that we could all share in the WTF moment.

flash 76

The Return of Barry Allen (The Flash #74-79, vol. 2) – What happens when the man whose legacy you are trying to uphold returns from the dead? And what happens when you realize that he is not happy that the world has moved on to a new Flash.

Somehow this was the first Flash storyline I ever read. I barely knew who everyone was, but I devoured these comics. And maybe it was the fact that I didn’t know everyone and ever moment of history in the book, but I did not see the ending coming.

 

***

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 currently in week fourof its 6-part release. Each episode is only $0.99.

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

TV Casualty – Please Don’t Feed My Television Screen

This is how it goes come September. Our DVR is relatively clear. Sure, perhaps there is that one lingering show from last year we just haven’t quite gotten around to watching… but otherwise we start fresh.

That lasts for all of about 2 weeks.

tv_addiction

We scan through the new shows, looking through Entertainment or online or even TV Guide flagging those shows which catch our eye and ensuring there are no conflicts with any existing shows. Slowly that DVR fills up. Shows become endangered species as the capacity approaches. 5% left and now the easy decisions get made:

We were never going to watch X show… let’s just delete it. That buys us, what? 3 days?

My wife sees the numbers of episodes click ever upward. Her palms begin to sweat. She’d rather not bother with the show if the number gets too high (Heaven help you if she finds out that pilot is 2 hours – she might go screaming from the house). So now I become a Vaudevillian performer with my spinning plates, ensuring that everything survives as long as it can (or until we make a decision about locking it in for the rest of the year.

dtv_dvr_ad

Maybe this is beginning to change though. We’ve certainly joined into the binge watching affairs during this last year. 2 seasons of Orange is the New Black, all of Breaking Bad, and even the new run of 24. And each one of those had a number beside them that was at least 12 long, and in some cases many, many more than that.

And then last year, even though Sleepy Hollow looked right in my wheelhouse – I waited. I recorded the episodes, but didn’t watch them. Had I not been burned time and time again by these shows? And this one looked like the type that begged to be cancelled 4 episodes in. Plus it was on FOX, so there was little doubt.

Imagine my surprise when they were picked up for a full season well before Christmas. Somehow a genre program which walks that line between goofy and serious has turned into the little show that could.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge this year’s newcomers?

We may still be in the Golden Age of TV… I don’t know for sure. I do know that for superhero “stuff” on TV, this next year is above and beyond anything we’ve ever experienced before. It’s an all you can eat buffet.

I just wanted to look at the comic shows debuting this Fall:

Gotham – If you haven’t listened to Kevin Smith’s “Fatman on Batman” Podcast, you are missing out. He typically does these epic 2 + hour conversations with the various creators, voice actors, animators, etc. who have worked on something Batman related. But it was one of his conversations with Paul Dini where they discussed a potential Batman show done where he was much younger than anything we’d ever seen before. How you could focus on Gordon when he was a much younger man trying to make his way in the world. How you could slowly introduce many of his villains.

The tangent probably lasted 20 or 30 minutes, but I was in. Gotham seems like it sprang directly from that talk (though it was developed entirely separate). But, yeah, I’m in on that one.

Flash – I actually have a blog post coming up in a couple of weeks about the Flash. Sufficed to say I will be watching it.

Constantine – I think I have about 6 comics with Constantine in them. I never have read Hellblazer (it is on my list). I didn’t see the Keanu Reeves movie from a few years back (though that might be a blessing). Assuming I do check this one out, I’m pretty much going into it blind. I know there will be demons and magic and that’s about it.

I check this one out, but I need to be wowed quickly.

Agent Carter – I wonder if this concept has enough “juice”. I like the general idea of exploring the early days of SHIELD and the Marvel Universe, but I worry that once the gimmick runs its course, the show won’t have much more to stand on. There is definitely some opportunities for them to universe build, but it could easily turn into the show winking at the audience every week with some random comic easter egg (which Agents of SHIELD did a few times to mixed results).

The other worry is that it took SHIELD half a season to get to where they should have started. Now, don’t get me wrong, by the end of the season it was running on all cylinders, but if Carter fails to get out of the gate in the same way, I wonder if the leash will be quite so long?

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3 from DC and one more from the Marvel movie universe. My best guess is that Gotham and Flash survive, Constantine doesn’t finish the season. Agent Carter gets 1 full season and then it is done (and maybe they end up saying that was the idea all along).

But aside from these, what shows should I be checking out (no guarantee they get added, but I know I’m going to miss a few somewhere in there).

***

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

The Dark That Follows is now available in print here or on Amazon!

Dragon Con Memories

We’re days away from another year of Dragon Con. As you may or may not know, I’ll be at the Terminus Media panel on Saturday night at 8pm. I’m not 100% on what we’ll be discussing, but it should be a fun time to mix it up and talk with some of the local independent comic people around Atlanta.

Dragon Con 2014

Dragon Con is this weird thing for me because it has always been there. I believe the very first time I went I was 15 or 16 and Chad’s dad dropped us off and then picked us up some time later. It is where I first realized that there were these comic book conventions, and where I got my very first comic autographed (issue 300 of Amazing Spider-Man by Todd McFarlane). We were only there for a few hours, but my mind was blown, and I resolved to come back again the following year.

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Of course that promise was blown away the very next year when family commitments meant I couldn’t attend and ended up missing a DnD session run by Tracy Hickman (of Dragonlance fame). For the weeks afterward my friends all made sure to let me know what I missed out on.

A year later the Magic the Gathering frenzy had taken over. You had to wake up early, stand in line for some crazy amount of time, and if you were lucky you would get 1 pack of Legends. Now I know that must sound crazy to think that the current set could not be bought at any random comic store, but it was the world we were living in.

The years went by and most of the time I tried to ensure I’d go at least two of the three days. And then when it became a four-day con, I pretty much stuck to  the two days anyway. At the time it felt like they were expanding just to do it… I mean, I could see 90% of what I wanted in 2 days, why bother with 3.

But then a curious thing happened… friends began to move away or maybe they lost interest into going. And soon that group of 10 or so that made it where no matter what panel you wanted to go see or what deal was going on in the Dealer’s room – you’d know about it and have someone to share in the experience. I don’t know about you, but doing things by myself means there is no one to nudge when you see that “cool thing”.

And not long after that, I was the only one going to con… and it became strictly a 1 day thing for me.

I carried the flag for those “dark” years for my group of friends. Sure, I might see a couple of people I knew, but that old core group was nowhere to be found… and it lessened things a bit.

Then came Firefly and Serenity.

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For most of this time my wife avoided Dragon Con. It was something I think that amused her from a distance. That “thing” John did around Labor Day. Every year I’d ask and nudge and hint that I thought she’d have a great time if she just did 1 day with me.

And she always put it off. Maybe next year. Maybe next year.

Then came Firefly and Serenity. And a panel at Dragon Con with pretty much the whole damn cast.

And I had her.

And she came to Con, and saw the panel, and then saw that Charlene Harris and TruBlood was there and sat in on another panel. And we spent the evening watching the costume contest with some good friends in their room on closed circuit enjoying room service.

That’s all it took.

And suddenly I wasn’t alone anymore. I had my best friend to nudge and point at a cool costume and to experience things with and just enjoy this piece of my own life with her.

Soon enough some of the other friends have drifted back (here and there) to the con. And I get to meet up with newer friends as well… guys and gals I may not have seen in months.

It’s glorious.

At the end of Dragon Con I’m always hit with a slight melancholy. No matter how much I enjoyed myself or even on those years I was bummed out about being by myself… I would still get it. That idea of all these people who shared some passions with me… all these people who said fuck it, I want to enjoy what I want to enjoy and not worry if I look or act silly during these 4 days. I love that about Dragon Con. I love people watching. I love going to panels and seeing tv and movie stars talk about their projects and getting excited about the next big thing. I love going to writing panels in an effort to glean as much information from people in the “know” as possible.

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It makes me feel not so alone. Because, for a long time there us nerds were out in the wilderness. It wasn’t cool to say that you played DnD or Magic or read comics or liked Anime or played computer games. And for 4 days Dragon Con offered an oasis for those of us who wanted to feel apart of something bigger than just us.

So yeah, at the end of the day on Sunday (most likely I will not be down there on Monday – we’re using it to recover) I’ll get that funny feeling in my stomach that another one of these has ended, and it will be another year before I get the chance to do it again. I’ll be tired, my feet may hurt, and my wallet will likely be lighter, but even with that slight sadness I know that it is only a matter of a little time before we get to do it again.

Hope to see you this weekend!

***

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

The Dark That Follows is now available in print here or on Amazon!

Will you be Attending Dragon Con 2014?

Dragon Con 2014 is one week away! Are you going? Are you excited? We are! John McGuire, J Edward Neill and I, along with Robert Jeffrey II, will be attending this year’s event. Here are some official blurbs about where you can find us:

Amanda Makepeace

Amanda is a Dragon Con 2014 Art Show Participant. You can see her Fantasy paintings in the Main Gallery of the Art Show, in the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Selected artworks will be available to purchase as prints in the Art Show Print Shop.

Saturday, August 30th Amanda will be leading a panel on the Basics of Digital Painting in the Hyatt, room Hanover G. You can download the full schedule here:

2014 Art Show Programming

 

Like her Facebook Page, or let her know you’re attending via the Event below, for more details leading up to this year’s convention.

 

John McGuire

Author of The Dark that Follows and creator of The Guilded Age comic, John McGuire will be attending Dragon Con this year. John and Tessera guest blogger, Robert Jeffrey II, will be at the Terminus panel at 8 p.m. on Saturday Aug 30th. In addition, they will be around the Terminus Media table (please see the guide for the exact location) at various times throughout the weekend, so if you have a minute or two stop by and say hey.

 

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead series and co-author of the upcoming serial novel Hollow Empire will be pit-stopping at Dragon Con. He’ll have free bookmarks, car magnets, and free books to dish out. He hasn’t been to D-Con since 1995, during which he stepped on Glenn Danzig’s foot, saved his friend from drowning in a bathtub of vomit, and cruised the open streets while searching for bottles of Captain Morgan.

So please be gentle…

Like J Edward’s Facebook page here. Shamble after him on Twitter here.

And to check out his ghoul-tastic website, click the Orb of Souls.

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San Diego Comic Con Musing

No, sadly, I didn’t go this year. Or last year. Or any year. I have yet to go. Mostly due to the fact that I’m on the east coast and it’s waaay across the map.

One day perhaps…

Comic-Con-Logo

But what I was thinking about was that we all know that it isn’t the Comic Book Convention anymore. It is an Entertainment Convention. It is a TV and Movie Convention. It is a place to see and be seen Convention. And then it is a Comic Book Convention.

Now the bigger companies still have a strong foothold, though that seems to be as much due to the fact that they have their movies and tv shows themselves going on – drawing attention back to the comics. And pretty much every major announcement happens at this convention for Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, etc.

But is there too much Noise for the Signal?

On Saturday night I went to www.BleedingCool.com and promptly opened every article that even kinda appealed to me. After having to reboot the tablet because I had opened too many windows I had to wonder again about the smaller companies bothering with announcing anything at all. Heck, I know a couple of people who had panels that I never saw any press about – not because they weren’t good panels, but because they’ve been drowned out by the volume of other news stories.

So I have to ask: if you aren’t DC or Marvel, why are you bothering with big announcements there? Why not pick a con a few weeks earlier or a few weeks later where you are the big talk of the comic book world. I mean how am I supposed to get excited about your newest book when I didn’t even get a chance to check out the trailer for the newest <insert hot fall movie here>?

Years ago (20 some-odd) the 3rd largest comic company was Valiant Comics. They did Solar, X-O Manowar, Turok, etc. But just as they were really hitting big they came down to Atlanta and basically had their own convention here. They gave away all sorts of freebies, had various creators run panels pitching their books, and made themselves approachable to their fans.

valiant-comics-relaunches-headed-by-ex-marvel-ceo

Why do I mention some convention 20 years ago? Because if you are Image or Dynamite or Dark Horse – you could do the same thing with a Denver Comic Con or a Heroes Con. Make that your coming out party for the summer. And do it year after year – set the precedence and then follow through so that in 3 years time people associate you with that city’s con. People who love your comics will go to that con to bask in the glory of YOUR THING. You get to control the message of your books and you do it during a time when maybe everyone else is holding off until San Diego to make that “cool” announcement.

Yeah, maybe you don’t get the volume of eyes of SDCC, but if I’m looking for your post and can’t find it, how many people are just going to randomly stumble over it?

I don’t know, just a random thought I had this past 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. He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

The Dark That Follows is now available in print here or on Amazon!

Time to Put the Brush Down

Follow the smell of oil paints, the trail of art frames and pencil shavings–that’s where you’ll find me. It’s non-stop right now. I’ve been busy embellishing prints for Dragon*Con, working on a oil painting (what was I thinking??), and amassing a collection of frames for the art show. I love it! But every artist must venture forth from the studio to the real world. What keeps me sane amidst the rush of creativity?

1. Walking – I started a new routine of walking the circle of our neighborhood. It’s just shy of 2 miles. Unfortunately, I had to put that on hold when I took a small tumble down our stairs. No broken bones, but I do have a bruised tailbone that is still causing me pain two weeks later. I’m hoping to get back to my walking routine next week.

2. Longmire is back. – Wait. Did you think I only watched Science Fiction/Fantasy type shows? I do have other loves and this is one of them. You can’t go wrong with me if you put together a crime show, set in the west, with a strong Native American cast (not that you can tell from the photo below). Katee Sackhoff is in the show too. She’s been a favorite since BSG. The big guy there, who plays Walt Longmire, he was an agent in the first Matrix film. Seriously! And of course there’s Lou Diamond Philips. When Longmire isn’t on I’ve been re-watching Fringe from the beginning. How I miss that show!

Longmire Cast

3. Comics – I’ve been devouring them lately. It’s what I find most relaxing before I shut my eyes at night. Here’s a peek at what I’ve read and what I’m still reading. I’ve read so much lately that I couldn’t easily post them all.

Digital:

The Gilded Age by John McGuire  Saga Vol 1  Latverian Prometheus

Paper:

 

 

Journey into Mystery: The Complete Collection Vol 1  Loki: Agent of Asgard  Trees  The Wicked + The Divine

 

Walking, a little TV, reading comics and of course studio time–that’s my life right now. 🙂

Behind the Comic – The Comic Script

 

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The company I do a lot of my comic related work with is Terminus Media. Early on, before the money and the fame (ok, maybe I’m still waiting on that), we met in the back of a comic book shop in Stone Mountain, Georgia. These were open meetings where any number of creatives were welcomed to listen in, discuss their own ideas, and even contribute to the anthology comics if they had the desire.

Each time new writers or artists came in they had the same questions I had when I walked through those doors. When I sat down to write my very first comic script I had no idea of how to go about setting it up. It’s a weird thing, this product we read on a weekly basis, but how in the world does it get from the writer’s brain to the artist’s fingertips? How does the script work?

In the comics industry there are basically two main forms that comics take: Full Script and Marvel Method.

Full Script – This is the one most people might be familiar with. In a full script the writer typically is going to break the comic down into pages and then those pages are broken down further into panels. Then within each panel would be a description of what you want the artist to draw (perhaps painting a general idea of the scene all the way to “camera placement”). Finally there will be any dialogue or narration needed. And so on and so forth until all 20-24 pages have been scripted out.

Yet, even among the Full Scripts there are those who give a small amount of  description and those who give tons. Do yourself a favor and try to find a copy of an Alan Moore script… that man writes tons of description and analysis for each panel (some might say too much, but he is one of the greatest comic writers of all time so what do they know, huh?).

 

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Marvel Method was something that developed from Stan Lee’s early days at Marvel Comics. Since he was the main writer (only writer) he didn’t have enough time for a full script. And he happened to work with the likes of  Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. They were artists who he knew could “do the job” as it were. So he provided them with plots of the comic, but left it up to them to actually layout the pages, determine what would go in each panel, and so on. Then, once it was done, Stan would go back in and add the narration and dialogue.

I had no sample script to work from, so my first one was probably closer related to the Marvel Method than a full script. But that was due to me not knowing than any conscious decision about how this scripting thing was supposed to work.

Over the years I’ve mostly done the Full Script version for my comics. And the reason for that is because many times I don’t know who is going to be the artist on the book. And without that key knowledge, I’d rather give them my vision for the comic and then go from there, than leave them with just a plot.

But, as I work with an artist, and grow more comfortable with them, I try to leave more things in their hands. Fight scenes are probably the biggest one. I feel like no matter how I think the fight could go, the artist is going to have a better feel for the flow of the characters. So why not let them stretch their skills a little bit. I give them general ideas of what needs to happen: “Bill and Jack rumble on this page. Maybe Bill gains the upper hand early in the fight, only to have Jack turn the tables.” OR “Jack and Bill are going to fight on this page. The only key thing is that by the end of the page Jack needs to hold Bill out a window… otherwise go nuts!”

All that is a long-winded way of saying, lots of those people coming into those early Terminus meetings didn’t have a clue about scripting or, if they were artists, didn’t know how to draw from a script. They just didn’t have access to one. So a few years ago, at the behest of some, I wrote out a short called 3 Brothers for the express idea of helping newer artists have something to draw.

Love-Hate-2

I divided the story into 3 parts:

Part 1 was a love story (Romance). Two people in love with each other, some talking head shots, playful interaction.

Part 2 was about hate (Rage). Two brothers, in love with the same woman, have a major fist-fight that doesn’t go well for one of them.

Part 3 was about loss (Death). Two people, dealing with the loss of a loved one, standing in the rain (so they have a little bit of the environment to deal with).

Anyway, I think a couple of people tried it out here or there. I think it was a helpful tool, and as such I’ve added a copy of the PDF here Download.

Perhaps an aspiring artist will get inspired by this, or want to draw something that isn’t just superheroes for their portfolio.

Hope it helps.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and now the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program. He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Does Whatever A Spider Can

With the release of the Amazing Spider-man 2 I feel like there is something I should say. I have a confession to make. Well, maybe not a confession, but more like a moment of truth. Spider-Man is my favorite comic book character.

That’s not the confession.

This revelation does not make me unique or anything. Plenty of people love Spider-Man (as evidenced by the sheer amount of money the movies alone have made). The fact that any kid might have something Spider-Man themed in his closet. Or that dozens of figures of the guy are released every year.

No, the confession is that I have not read a Spider-Man comic in quite some time (5+ years).

Now if Spider-Man is my favorite character why would I forsake him in the very media that I profess to love beyond probably even my wife’s understanding?

One name: Mary Jane Watson Parker.

Many of you will know the name Mary Jane Watson from the Sam Rami movies of the 00s as she was played by Kirsten Dunst. As you can tell from the movies, she is an important cog in Peter Parker’s life.

I personally think she’s the true love of his life, not Gwen Stacy, but that’s mostly because I don’t know Gwen. She had been dead for a decade before I picked up my first issue of Amazing Spider-Man. I only have the occasional flashback to let me know who she was.

Though, one of my favorite stories came from a “Gwen” moment. Spider-Man Blue by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale tell a story where on Valentine’s Day Peter is feeling reflective about how much he misses Gwen, and proceeds to talk into a tape recorder about the two of them falling in love. He talks to her about how her death messed him up for a long time, but through Mary Jane he learned to love again. And then this happens…

Spidey Blue 1

 

Spidey Blue 2

 

And if you were to pick up a Spider-Man comic from around 1987/1988 until about 2008 you would have probably seen Mrs. Parker in the comics. As Peter’s wife she’s been with him through think and thin.

However, if you picked up a Spider-Man comic today you might notice that Peter is no longer married.

More on that in a second…

Spider-Man appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962. By the time I started reading the comic was approximately 25 years old. During that entire time Spider-Man was a single guy. Yeah, there were girlfriends: Betty Brant, Felicia Hardy, Gwen Stacy, and Mary Jane, but he was a single guy. For 25 years those writers got to weave stories featuring a single Spidey. But that changed in 1987 (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21) when the two of them tied the knot.

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I was 11 at the time this happened. I think I had read about 6 issues of Spider-Man before he got married. Spider-Man getting married did not change how I saw the character. It did not make him my “Dad” all of a sudden. It didn’t make him the “winner” of life because he married this gorgeous model (these were some of the reasons for getting rid of the marriage, but more on that later).

Growing up I never saw myself as a good-looking kid. I was taller than all the other kids, maybe a little clumsy, and shy around girls. There were plenty of times I would think about the fact that I would never find a girlfriend.

Comics are a great escape from life. When you get down on yourself, get depressed about something that’s happened to you, they are there waiting for you, month in and month out. Ready to take on the worst of the worst bad guys.

So how did it make me feel when Spidey got married?

It actually made me feel like, maybe, just maybe, there was a girl out there for me. That even if I felt awkward and ugly that it wouldn’t matter. I’d find that person who I was meant to be with. Maybe that girl next door might take a shine to me.

It’s probably silly to think that way. These weren’t real people. And yet… because Mary Jane and Peter weren’t just two people who started dating and decided to get married. These were two friends from way back. They’d suffered through tragedy on both sides. And where he had never confided in Gwen about his alter-ego, Mary Jane knew (she figured it out – girl is smart). Because she was his best friend. Moreso than Harry Osborn (when he wasn’t the Green Goblin) or Flash Thompson (in the later years), MJ was the one that he could always turn to.

So, no, it wasn’t a bad thing that this happened. Not for me at least.

And so it went that from 1987 to early in 2008 Spider-man was a married character.

But apparently this was a problem for the people in charge. Apparently having Spider-Man married meant that they couldn’t have Peter date the Black Cat or whomever they wanted him to. Apparently being married… wait for it…

Made Spider-Man OLD.

They felt like the truest form of the character was that of a single guy. That him finding love with his best friend meant he’d won and was no longer the loveable loser everyone thought he was.

They (the writers) felt like they were hamstrung on stories because he was married.

Counselor, I present Matt Fraction’s take:

fraction annual

 

During J. Michael Straczynski’s run on the book I told my wife that I could have read 22 pages of just the two of them talking. But more than that, I think JMS understood how to approach the relationship. Mary Jane being married to Spidey is the life many women (and some men) live when their spouse is a police officer (or firefighter or in the military). There is always that chance that they may not come home that night. I don’t think that means they love them less, though. I think that means they try to fight for every moment they get.

But the powers that be didn’t like the marriage. And I’d heard the same argument about Superman and Lois Lane. And I think it is complete crap. It’s lazy writing to say you can’t come up with a story for the character because his connection to another person is marriage. Because, let’s face it, Peter Parker, single, was not going to be running around banging every chick that he meets. He’s not that character and never will be. So if he had a girlfriend he’s not going to cheat. So what the heck is the real difference there?

There isn’t one.

One other point about this that I’m not sure people really thought about. 25 years as a bachelor and 21 years married. That’s effectively the same amount of time, and one could argue that there were far more actual comics with him married than single (more titles in the 90s, etc.). But it wasn’t like this marriage had been around for only a couple of years. For all intents and purposes Spidey was a married man (or at least a committed man).

But the decision had been made. They came up with a story line that had Aunt May on the brink of death (yes, that old chestnut of a story – never used that one before!), and the only way to save her was to make a DEAL WITH THE DEVIL.

And the Devil wanted their (Peter and Mark Jane’s love).

Wait, that’s not right. He wanted their marriage.

Let’s toss aside the fact that Spidey lives in a Universe where superheroes come back to life on an almost daily basis. Let’s ignore the fact that there are mutants who have the ability to HEAL other people, and even if he doesn’t specifically know those people, he knows people who know those people (confused yet?). And let’s even forget about the fact that Aunt May is OLD and has lived the good life, and would NEVER want her nephew to make a DEAL WITH THE DEVIL.

The fundamental problem with this is that Peter and Mary Jane would never make such a deal. They just wouldn’t. Peter would find another way. He’d triumph through some angle we hadn’t thought of.

But no, he made the deal and the marriage was undone.

Amazing_Spider-Man_545

The last issue of Amazing Spider-Man I own.

And I haven’t picked up an issue of Spider-Man since.

The place I now get to read about my favorite character is in the pages of the Avengers when he happens to be on the team, or when he makes a guest appearance in a comic I read.

Now we’re 6 years into my “strike” on reading the character. They just finished a 30+ issue story where Doc Ock swapped bodies with Peter and then tried to use the powers for good. There’s a new story (that could have been told with him being married I’m sure), and one I would like to read.

But I can’t. Stupid principles.

So now I have to be content with watching Amazing Spider-Man 2 this weekend to get my fix. Fingers crossed its a good one.

 

***

John McGuire

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

 

Taking a stab at the Marvel Movies

This is the Golden Age of superhero movies. It is flat-out ridiculous to think that not only has so many of these type of movies been made, but they have grossed tons of money. They aren’t a joke, but actually movies that non-comic book people will go see.

So we’re a couple of weeks past Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s release and a couple of weeks before The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (though I must admit I’m a bit worried about that one), so it feels like a good time to post my rankings of the various Marvel movies. Note that I have not seen Punisher: War Zone, Elektra, Blade Trinity, and both Ghost Rider films (I’m guessing from most people’s thoughts that I haven’t missed anything.

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26. Wolverine: Origins – I didn’t see this one in the theater, so when I finally sat down to watch it I knew that it was supposed to be “bad”. Then the first five minutes of this movie went by and we saw Wolverine throughout the 20th Century and I thought that was all sorts of awesome. Sadly that is the only highlight of a movie whose big way to not invalidate the X-Men movies was a memory erasing bullet. Seriously. And Professor X didn’t notice the metal lodged in Wolverine’s brain… really?

Just terrible.

25. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer – My one take-away from watching this movie was: “Was that actually an hour and a half?” If ever there was an example of doing a movie “just because” this may be it within the confines of the Marvel Universe. I would say more bad things about it but I honestly can’t remember much about it. Ranked higher than Wolverine only because the Silver Surfer looked cool.

24. X-Men 3 – I can sum up my dislike of this movie in one way: they killed Cyclops off-screen. I was watching the movie and about 40 minutes after the non-scene I realized what exactly had happened. And I still was shocked that is how they managed to do it. I know X-Men: Days of Future’s Past is tying these movies with the First Class movie, but they could forget about X-Men 3 and be better off for it.

23. Daredevil – I liked this one more on the first viewing than on subsequent viewings, but regardless of all of that I think that people have maligned this movie more than it really deserved. Bullseye’s battle with Elektra on the roof was nice. Michael Clark Duncan, while not the Kingpin from the comics, worked perfectly in the role. Yes, there is bad in there, but it isn’t all bad.

It isn’t all good either.

22. The Hulk – This is the first one, with the radioactive dogs. This is a solid movie for the first 2/3 of the flick, and then everything falls apart in the last act. Completely. I also think this one suffers from trying to be something different. It’s not a superhero movie, it is a 1950s style monster movie with a bit of 24’s multiple cameras thrown in. But, yeah, the Absorbing Man stuff at the end was shoehorned in horribly.

And radioactive “Hulk” dogs… that’s not a good idea ever.

21. The Incredible Hulk – More along the lines of the old tv show and the second of the Marvel Universe movies… something was just not 100% on this one, and I can’t put my finger on it. I love Ed Norton. I love Liv Tyler. It had the Abomination in it. It even set the Leader up for a future movie.

And somehow it is just ok. A head scratcher.

20. Fantastic Four – I’m saddened by this and its sequel mostly because after Spider-Man and The Avengers, I have more Fantastic Four comics in my collection than any other Marvel titles. The good – The Human Torch. Chris Evans nailed Johnny Storm… 1000%. As to the rest, it’s more blah than outright bad to me (they saved all the true suck for the second movie). In fact, this movie does what it set out to do, but it suffers from probably the worst thing: being boring. Regardless, this could never be ranked very on my list since they completely screwed up Doctor Doom.

19. Spider-Man 3 – I like the emo Peter Parker. I like the goofy dance. I think Venom is an excellent character (and story)… from the comics. This one suffers from the oldest problem in the Superhero movie bible: too many villains. Venom, Sandman, and Green Goblin is at least 1 villain too many. I know part of the issue was the studio wanted Venom and Rami did not, but this one just gets too cluttered at too many times. And really Gwen Stacy is wasted in this movie.

18. Iron Man 2 – Another one that kinda falls apart at the end. I don’t know what Whiplash’s “plan” really is, and I really don’t care. Let’s be honest, we were just watching for another 2 hours of RDJ playing Tony Stark, right? That’s what I thought.

17. The Punisher – I know that tons of people hate this one. I don’t read the Punisher comics. I don’t like the character of the Punisher in the comics. Just never understood why he was so popular. But this movie gave me exactly what I wanted from a Punisher movie – 80s action flick. I dig this one if only for his last interaction with Travolta. “You killed my son.” An explosion goes off in the distance and Punisher says, “Both of them.” Come on! That’s some Clint Eastwood badassness!

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16. The Wolverine – I needed this movie to be good. It needed to get the taste of the first Wolverine and X3 to a lesser extent, out of my mouth. So for that, it worked really well. It also showed that Wolverine didn’t need tons of other characters running around to make a movie… he’s the only focus the audience needs.

15. The Amazing Spider-Man – Loved the quips from Spider-Man in this one. Loved his interaction with Gwen Stacy. Loved that some of his movements in costume were very “spider-like”. I liked the Lizard’s look. I liked that they chose to focus on his parents some (at least in a background way, and more than anything they did in the Rami movies). Still, I didn’t need the origin again. I’m not sure the Lizard battle at the end holds up to any of the other Spider-Man movie fights. I wonder if the Rami movies didn’t exist would I like it more.

Too bad for it that the Rami movies do exist.

14. Iron Man 3 – I really need to rewatch this one because with more distance from it, I find my opinion of it lessens. It’s still a good movie. Again, any chance to see RDJ as Tony Stark is well worth the price of admission. I like the Mandarin swerve… did not see that one coming. But blowing up your armor, Tony? Really? You know there is another Avengers movie on the horizon, right? Let’s think this stuff through, ok?

13. X-Men – I didn’t see X-Men for a month or so after it initially came out. I was completely sure that it was going to be awful. There was no way any of it could work. So it wasn’t until my friends started talking it up that I finally broke down and saw it. I was stunned that somehow they’d made an X-Men movie that worked. The casting was just about perfect (even Hally Berry seems like she should be a decent Storm… seems). They were smart enough to focus on Wolverine and Rogue, to have them provide us our eyes into the world.

12. Captain America: The First Avenger – I liked the first Cap movie. They really nailed all the stuff I wanted to see in a WWII Captain America movie. If anything I think that the section where we delve into montages hurt this one more than anything else. They could have scrapped that and had a much tighter movie on their hands (and maybe use that time to get to know Bucky and the Howling Commandos? Just a thought). In light of The Winter Soldier, I do need to sit down and rewatch this one to see if my memory of the Bucky related stuff pays off in the second one the way I think it does.

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If only… if only…

11. Blade 2 – I flip flop between the two Blade movies. Sometimes I think the first is better and other times I think the second one is superior. But I think it comes down to the second one is more “fun”. Blade having to work with his enemies to ward off a new type of vampire… I’m in.

10. Blade – There is no reason this movie should work. It just shouldn’t, but it does. It captures the spirit of the Blade comics while being a little bit frightening at times. Pitch perfect adaptation in my mind.

9. X-Men: First Class – I could watch young Magneto and young Xavier wander around recruiting mutants for 4 hours if they’d let me. The stuff with the actual “First Class” was alright, but what made this movie sing was the friendship of two men who were destined to be on opposing sides of the coming war.

8. Thor – How in the world were they going to get Thor to work? How would they managed to tie in the Asgard stuff into the Earth (Midgard)? Would they get the character of Loki? This may be the biggest surprise of any of these movies (maybe the first X-Men is a little more because it had never been done, but I digress). Somehow they managed to paint a portrait of Thor’s home that made it where the connection it had to Midgard and the people there… well, it worked. But more than that, I think that the overall storyline, exiling Thor to Earth, teaching him humility. I don’t know if he learned a full lesson, but I dug it.

7. Thor: The Dark World – Again the theme of heroes and villains teaming up shows itself. Thor not only needing Loki’s help, but the fact that Loki needs to help his brother. I think I’m going to be sad when I watch Avengers 2, just because Loki won’t be there.

6. Spider-Man – I walked out of the first Spider-Man and you would have had to use a jack hammer to get the smile off my face. I loved this movie so much. That said, it isn’t ranked higher because the middle portion of the movie drags a little bit on rewatches. That being said, I will still watch it anytime it comes on tv, so that little bit doesn’t bother me all that much.

5. X-Men 2 – This might be the most “perfect” superhero movie of any on this list. I don’t think I have any complaints about it. Loved the interaction between Cyclops and Wolverine. Loved the good guys having to work with the bad guys. Loved the initial sequence with Nightcrawler teleporting around the White House. Had they never made another X-Men movie, this would have been a fitting one to end on.

4. Spider-Man 2 – Though my wife doesn’t like this one as much as the first, I just love it when we don’t have to worry about spending 45 minutes on the superhero origin. We get to focus on the characters and their interactions. And while I don’t know if I agree with the idea that Doctor Octopus is Spider-Man’s greatest villain. It is not the most obvious thing, like the Joker to Batman. But given that the Green Goblin became a legacy more than just one guy in a mask trying to beat our hero up.. well, Otto’s got the longevity.

3. Iron Man – Inspired casting of RDJ as Iron Man. Wait, this is a character with addiction problems and you’re getting an actor who has addiction problems. I wonder if he can bring anything to the character? A friend of mine always says he thinks Iron Man has the best origin story of any of the heroes, and after watching (and rewatching) this one, I don’t get sick of it. The first of the Marvel Movies really set the stage for something special to come down the pipeline in the years to come.

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – I may be riding the wave on this one, but that was all sorts of crazy. Falcon = awesome. Black Widow = awesome. And Steve Rogers = awesome. This was the inheritor of the Avengers movie mantle more than any of the other Phase 2 films. I would say more, but to say much more might open the door to spoilers and I don’t want to ruin any moment of this one for anyone.

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1. The Avengers – The pinnacle. Chad called me the moment he exited the theater and the message on my voicemail was simply. “Joss did it.” When this one was over I could only grin like an idiot. When you are 11 years old reading about these characters, you figure the best they might be able to do is a cartoon with them all in it. But a live-action version. Not in a million years. No, younger John, they just needed like 25 years. 25 years to make a movie that was both the beginning of a trilogy and the defacto sequel to 4 different franchises. Shouldn’t have worked, and yet it did.

 

Anyway, that’s my list, which will get at least 3 longer after this year and maybe more if I could bring myself to actually watch Ghost Rider. He’s a guy with a flaming skull on his head! How did they mess that one up?

***

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 currently in week one of its 6-part release. Each episode is only $0.99.

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

Six Comics You May Not Be Reading, But Should

I realized that I haven’t really written about current comics that I actually read, and since we all love lists, I thought I’d mention a couple I’m currently enjoying. The only rule that I provided myself is that I wouldn’t choose any Marvel or DC comic (though I read a fair amount of both). Those two tend to get more than enough love. I also won’t bother with mentioning The Walking Dead as you’d need to be living under a rock to both not know it exists and not have checked it out as of yet.

Otherwise, everything else is fair game.

 

Saga (Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples) – Image Comics

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This is probably a cheat to the above “rules” as I’m thinking quite a few people who read comics know about this book. It was Y the Last Man that hooked me onto Vaughn’s writing, but it was Runaways that made me a fan of his for life. As soon as I heard word he was doing a comic for Image, I added it to my pull list without even worrying about what it was about or whether I would like it or not. Not that I needed to worry, since the Romeo and Juliet story set against a space conflict where the entire thing is narrated by their child at some point in the distant future had me at… well, it had me as soon as I read that first issue.

The kicker is how much Staples art is both beautiful and bizarre all at the same time. Each new alien that we meet, whether it is the Prince’s with TV’s for heads or the spider-like Stalk or Lying Cat, the characters are so vivid, even the most crazy of the crazy works.

They just completed their 18th issue, but the first two trades are out and well worth picking up.

 

Manhattan Projects (Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra) – Image Comics

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It’s Einstein holding a frickin’ chainsaw!
What more could you want?

What if you wrote a comic about the fabled Manhattan Projects, but then twisted it so that everything and everyone made such little sense that somehow it just worked? Hickman takes a story about scientists pushing the envelope and turns it all the way up to 11. Oppenheimer is an insane person. Einstein is a dick. And even Laika, the Soviet Space Dog. Pitarra’s artwork does a good job matching the frenetic pace of the book with his cartoony style, lots of little bits and pieces on each page and in each panel.

It’s a crazy comic where there is literally no way that a reader could ever figure out where the next issue is going. And it is one of those comics I need to sit down with and do a full reread of the first 15 issues or so because I’m sure I’ve missed so much that has been included within the story, between the panels, and in the chapter breaks.

 

Archer and Armstrong (Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry, & Matt Milla) – Valiant Comics

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Since Valiant relaunched a couple of years ago, my refrain when referring to their comics has been that I think Harbinger is the best book they put out… but Archer and Armstrong is my favorite. A book that takes the absurd idea of a kid who grew up in a cult and an immortal (who might just drink a little too much) he was programmed to kill… and then turn that into a buddy comedy is something that shouldn’t really work. And yet, somehow, Van Lente gets it to work.

It’s the one Valiant comic (prior to the relaunch of Quantum and Woody at least) where I’ve laughed out loud on more than one occasion. And even when their enemies might not inspire the greatest “fear” from our heroes, the story doesn’t ever suffer. And I love the way that they have almost pop-up video style remarks within the panels which explain what a particular move or moment might have been. It is a technique that echoes back to the old days when an editor would put comments into the panel (“For more information on why Archer just crane kicked the bad guy see…”).

All of the Valiant books have been well worth the ride over these first 2 years, but this is the stand-out star.

 

Knights of the Dinner Table (Jolly Blackburn) – Kenzer & Company

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I used to roleplay. For many years I was very happy in spending an evening or a Saturday rolling the dice and weaving my character’s story through whatever world the Game Master supplied. But like many things, I just don’t have the time for it any more. And that makes me a little sad because no matter how cool video games are, there is something about spending time in another world with some good friends and drinking waaay too much soda.

Knights of the Dinner Table is my conduit back to those times. It is a black and white comic with the back half of the comic devoted to various roleplaying articles and whatnot, but the thing that brings me back month after month are the strips in the front of each issue. Most stories deal with things that might have occured during my own roleplaying sessions. Those funny, crazy moments, where you just about spit Coke out of your nose because of someone doing the “dumbest thing ever” (TM). That is the bread and butter of this comic.

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It just passed issue 200 last year, but it is the type of comic that you could pick up and pretty much be in on the joke for the word go. And there are many, many trades to be had (though if they ever start doing Omnibuses that will be bought the day it comes out).

 

Alex + Ada (Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn) – Image Comics

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During South By Southwest Comixology ran a promo where you could download the first issue for free. I’ve been a fan of the Luna Brothers since I read Ultra and Girls (I haven’t read The Sword yet, but it is on my bookshelf waiting), so I figured I’d give it a shot.

And then I bought the 2nd issue. And the 3rd. And the 4th. And if there had been a 5th I would have bought it as well. That’s called transforming “free” to “paying” customers.

Alex + Ada is about a man and his robot, just that in this case the robot looks like a fairly good-looking girl. And is willing to do whatever Alex would like. The only problem is that robots can’t have true AI due to an event prior to the beginning of the series. So Alex is in a weird place where he’s not sure what he’s supposed to be with this robot girl.

And then a potential solution presents itself.

That’s all I’ll say about it so that I don’t give anything big away, but I read these over the weekend and am now waiting for the next issue to arrive (I think in a couple of weeks it’ll be live).

 

The Last Days of American Crime (Rick Remender & Greg Tocchini) – Radical

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There is only 1 week before the US government uses a signal which will make it so no one will want to commit a crime… and word has leaked out to a few. So now, with the clock literally counting down, they have to pull off the last heist anyone might ever pull off.

A mix of noir, cyberpunk, and good old fashioned heist story all rolled into one, Last Days is one of those stories where you end up pulling for the criminals, the “villains”. Will they get that big score and retire to the beach somewhere? Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but it is one of those I probably need to go back and read again.

This one has been out for a couple of years, but the good thing is that it is done and collected as a trade. I remember seeing a brief synopsis on this and earmarking it to buy if I ever saw it at a con. Lucky for me I did, and now it is sitting on my bookshelf.

 

Not an exhaustive list by any means, but definitely worth checking out if you have run out of things to read.

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows and the steampunk comic The Gilded Age.