Kickstart the Comic – Frankenstein, Texas

The weather is beginning to turn a bit cooler. Soon enough the calendar will change from September to my favorite month: October. A whole month where it is ok to bask in the idea of the horror genre. A whole month dedicated to experiencing as many scares as possible.

Let’s get a jumpstart on it.

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Frankenstein, Texas – a 48-page western horror graphic novel

From Dan Whitehead

Dan Whitehead – Writer

David Hitchcock – Artist

Kickstarter campaign ends on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, at 10:36 AM EDT.

The Pitch:

What if Mary Shelley’s famous gothic novel was a lie? What if Victor Frankenstein paid Captain Walton to announce both he and his creation had perished and vanished in the Arctic? What if instead, the pair headed west, across Europe, to Ireland and from there to the new world? To America?

The Story:

This is a tale of action and adventure, but also a story that explores ideas of damnation and salvation, of fresh starts and bitter ends, and what it takes to atone for the deadliest of sins.

At the heart of the story is the complex relationship between Frankenstein and his creation. The man, constantly wrestling with the knowledge that he created life from death, and the monster, heartbroken by the violence that rages inside him and determined to prevent his “father” from repeating the mistakes of the past.

Page 1 – Art by David Hitchcock

John’s Thoughts:

This is a 48-page graphic novel of Frankenstein in the Old West… it’s one of those ideas that I’m both scratching my head about and also wondering – why didn’t I think of that? What better place for the Doctor and his Monster to lose themselves than in the untamed frontier of America far from their birthplaces?

The Rewards:

Fairly cheap for the digital version of the basic graphic novel ($4), but the printed copy is also very reasonable ($14). Sadly for those coming onboard at this point, the $68 Wanted Dead or Alive level is all gone, and with it your chance to make a cameo in the comic. As to some of the higher end options – the Saloon Decorator ($204) allows you access to an original page of artwork (9 spots are left at the time of this writing). Or the Town Marshall ($272) gets you an original commission of your choosing by the artist (5 spots left).

The Verdict:

The artwork on the page and the core idea tell me to back the comic book. They’ve launched at a perfect time of year for such a story, and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished book.

Art by David Hitchcock

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For more information on Frankenstein, Texas, check out their Facebook Page here.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

Steampunk Fridays – Kickstart the Game – Westbound: Revolvers and Rituals

Magic and technology colliding… that’s what we’re talking about here. An untamed wild where anything can be done and the only person stopping you from living your dreams is you. Take that smoke wagon from its holster and fire again and again on your orcish enemies. Dodge dragon fire while riding on horseback.

I mean, that’s what being in the Weird West is all about!

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Westbound: Revolvers and Rituals

From Island of Bees

Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, September 29, 2017, at 1:59 AM EDT.

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The Pitch

Westbound is a game of adventure on the frontier. You’ll explore the magical wild west, encounter other frontiersmen, fight strange new creatures, and strike gold or die trying. Robbing trains, shooting up saloons, and rescuing damsels is all apart of a days work for a Westbounder.

When the soil’s turned sour,

And the well all dried up.

When men in suits put a gun in your hand

And send you to war.

When there’s nothing left of your home,

But ash and regret.

It’s time to turn Westbound.

The Game

This Kickstarter is for the full version of the game, but they did put a free Basic version and a Quickstart adventure to “try before you back”. In addition, there are also a handful of videos to help walk through some of the basics.

Reading through those Quickstart Rules, the big idea here is that there aren’t any dice, but instead it uses a deck of 52 cards to help define your character. But more than that, it appears to combine some aspects of collectible card games in that “The Deck is Your Stamina”. As such, it appears that as you make your way through the day there is a tangible and very visual way to determine not only your health but the potential strength of a character through simple current deck sizing.

The free adventure, Triumph at Saint Kiaro is worth checking out as well. Not only does it provide some visuals as far as how the decks are laid out, but there are premade characters to let you jump right into things.

Final Verdict

Westbound is definitely a game that falls more within the Weird West genre than all the way in the Steampunk one, but, as with many things, I believe those aspects play off of each other fairly well. I love the fact that not only is there a Quickstart Guide available, but there is also a scenario to play through so you can really take the game out for a test spin.

One interesting idea with using a deck of cards as both your stamina and how you do checks is that as you proceed through the day, it might make sense not to take a rest if you have a bunch of higher value cards left in the deck (you wouldn’t want those lower tier cards suddenly showing back up in the deck). While there is some level of randomization even with what can get shuffled back into the deck, this creates a different sort of strain on your character – something not really available in dice games.

This is one of those games I’d like to play in person. The decks of cards make good reminders, plus I can see where if you were to do a campaign, you might have a specific “special” deck for each one (character accessories are always fun). Some of the stretch goals seem to lend themselves to this very idea.

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For more information on Westbound: Revolvers and Rituals check them out here.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

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

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

Dragon Con 2017 Recap

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

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

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

I still have my signed Amazing Spider-Man 300.

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

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

2017

My big take aways for this year were:

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

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

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

Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

War for Jupiter

Saturday

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

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

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

The highlight question was:

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

A laugh. “Every day… every day.”

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

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

Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

So I suppose I forgive them.

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

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

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

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

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

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

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

 

Gen Con 2017 Recap – Part Two

You can read Part One Here.

Day 1 Continued

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

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

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

Egg – So what are you working on these days?

David – Destiny.

Egg – … um, what’s Destiny?

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

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

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

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

Day 2

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

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

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

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

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

There is a reason it won Game of the Year.

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

Do yourself a favor and check out the game.

Day 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 4

Did I mention not to schedule things at 8 AM?

In the morning.

When you should be sleeping?

Because we didn’t make that session either.

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

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

Wrap Up

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

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

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

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

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

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

 

Gen Con 2017 Recap – Part One

You can read Part Two Here.

Before

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

“More games than you can imagine.”

“Artists all over the place.”

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

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

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

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

You know, the adult stuff.

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

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

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

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

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

Day 0

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

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

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

Indianapolis is flat.

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

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

Day 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lil’ Egg Embry Reporting…

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

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

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

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

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

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

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

Five More Writing Hacks

We’re all looking for the shortcuts in life. Can we maybe only do 30 minutes on the treadmill vs. 40 minutes on the bike? Can we microwave the dinner rather than bake the lasagna? Maybe I can fast forward through the commercials instead of watching them during the NFL game I’m currently trying to enjoy.

Writing is no different. There might be as many opinions on how to write as there are writers living and dead combined. We all have a way of making the words appear, and we definitely aren’t shy about letting others know about our breakthroughs.

I try to do right. I try to use many of the Writing Hacks I’ve encountered because I’m ultimately hoping they will be the difference between a good manuscript and an excellent one. I fully believe that we have to keep learning in order to get better.

So what follows are a few things I’ve either tried or am actually currently doing.

1 – Using a Timer

Want to add some speed to your writing? There are about 1 billion potential distractions waiting for you if you aren’t careful. Someone sends you an email, maybe you need to check Facebook for something, oh, don’t forget to Tweet something today, and so on and so on.

The timer forces you to forget all of that other stuff for 10 minutes. For 20 minutes. For 30 minutes. You’ll be amazed by the output increase in that stretch. And then, as a reward, maybe you spend 5 minutes doing one of those other things before you set the timer again.

2 – Don’t edit while you write.

Instead, treat that first draft like what it is: the first draft. There is power in reaching a “The End” even if you aren’t done with your edits. When you edit in the middle of creating, all it does is put the finish line that much further away.

3 – Wait to edit.

In On Writing, Stephen King talks about how when he finishes his first pass on a book, he sticks it in a drawer and doesn’t look at it again for 6 weeks. It turns out that by waiting a little while before beginning the editing process, he doesn’t feel as beholden to those words on the page. Instead, he is able to take the knife, the hatchet, and the chain saw to his manuscript if it requires it.

4 – Don’t have your characters’ names start with the same letter.

Think about it. Especially in the first part of your book, story, whatever, we’re still trying to get a handle on who everyone is. Now you go and call one guy Steven and the other one Sean. Yeah, they’re completely different people, but by having that same letter at the start, the reader is going to assume one guy or the other. I’ve done it when reading books, and I know I’m not the only one.

Look, there are 26 letters to choose from. If you have more than 15 major characters, call them whatever you want, because that sounds like the least of your problems…

5 – End your current session in the middle of a thought.

Sometimes the worst thing is to open up the document and be faced with a blank screen day after day. And that’s effectively what happens when you finish the chapter the previous day. So if the hardest thing is to start, wouldn’t it be reasonable to think ending in the middle of a chapter… hell, in the middle of a paragraph or sentence might be the best potential option?

I’ve had mixed results with this one, but when it works it works amazingly. You’ll end up with another thousand words extremely quickly. When it doesn’t work I spent too much time trying to remember what the heck I was thinking during the previous page and things bog right down.

***

What writing hacks work best for you?

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

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

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

Steampunk Fridays – Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1 KS Exclusive Edition

Is Edgar Allan Poe Steampunk?

We mostly know him from his horror side of things. Whether it is burying people alive or being driven mad by the guilty thoughts of our minds, Poe had a stranglehold on that part of his reader’s minds. But Steampunk? I honestly didn’t know. So I consulted the all-powerful internet for the answer and came across this article from Tor.com: Was Poe Steampunk?

That’s good enough for me!

***

Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1 KS Exclusive Edition

Dwight MacPherson – Writer

Luis Czerniawski – Artist

Kickstarter campaign ends on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 8:51 AM EDT.

 

The Pitch:

I’ve often described this story as “Alice in Wonderland meets The Lord of the Rings.” And for those who are fans of classic literature like myself, I would describe it as “Homer’s Odysseymeets Dante’s Divine Comedy.” 

The Story:

Edgar Allan Poe has lost everyone he ever loved and now he is losing his mind. Haunted by his wife’s ghost and his many literary failures, the poet tumbles into a fantastical world created by his genius…and his madness. This world called Terra Somnium is a nightmare region that merges his macabre literary creations and mythological gods and monsters of old, all hell-bent on stopping him from escaping the land of dreams.

John’s Thoughts:

As a writer, there are many times when you might want the things you write about to actually come true. It would be great to become the hero of some epic fantasy who slays the dragon and takes the throne. Then again, it is less fun thinking about it when you are writing about very horrific ideas.

And then watch them not only come true but pretty much try to kill you? That is right up there with Writer’s Block!

The Rewards:

The interesting thing about this Kickstarter is that there are only 3 Rewards: Digital copies ($5), KS exclusive printed edition with a pair of prints ($15), and the print book with a t-shirt ($25). So many times the talk is about appealing to as many people as possible with the rewards, but here MacPherson boils it down to the core… and as of this writing (with roughly 7 days to go) he’s more than tripled his asking goal ($3000+ vs $1000).

Perhaps the lesson is less is more?

The Verdict:

You get on the ground floor of issue 1 of the comics. The art is a nice mixture of cartoony and horrific… a perfect fit for this time of story.

If you are a lover of Poe then this seems like a complete no brainer.

***

For more information on Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1 KS Exclusive Edition and Hocus Pocus Comics, check out their Facebook Page here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

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

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

Interview with a 9 Year Old

Every generation prior to the current one is always held with such esteem. And they always lament the next generation. They were the hard-workers and this next one is lazy. We know how the world works. They’ll be lucky if they can tie their shoe laces correctly.

I heard the same things said about the Generation Xers that are now being said about the Millenials. And I’m pretty sure in a few years we’re going to hear that the Millenials are worried the world is going to go downhill with the generation after them.

I try not to judge too harshly. I want to understand where other people’s thoughts and experiences have taken them. And maybe I don’t always agree with them about any number of things, I’m also not entirely sure I’m the one who is correct.

***

I loved video games growing up. The Atari was played as much as humanly possible, and when everyone else had a Nintendo, I begged my parents for one of those. As the years have gone on I’ve gone through many gaming systems and it is probably only in the last few years I haven’t played as much as I might like (given the quality of today’s games).

However, there is a weird (to me) phenomenon where a whole generation of kids aren’t necessarily playing the video games themselves, but are instead going online to watch others play the games. I don’t know if I even knew about this being a thing until South Park ran an episode a few years ago “#REHASH”.

I think a Cartman commentary of my life would be “Gah, going to work again? Boring!”

And it is clearly big business as it shows up on my tv some late nights on TBS or ESPN. The other night I saw a show where they were breaking down a Street Fighter Tournament like it was the NCAA March Madness selection show. And while I might watch out of curiosity for a little while, mostly shows like that make it where I’d just rather play something myself.

During our annual family beach trip, I saw that my nephew is one of those kids who watch  Youtubers (is that even the correct word?) for hours upon hours. Now he also plays some games, but there is a definite joy for him by simply watching and listening to other people playing.

So I decided to run an impromptu interview with my nephew in an effort to get to the bottom of this (and did a follow up on the phone). But as with anything asked of him, he can be a bit evasive to actually give answers.

He won’t look up because he’s ENGROSSED… or maybe he doesn’t like taking pictures. Definitely one or the other.

Who is your favorite person on Youtube to watch?

fudz

Why is that?

He’s funny.

Ah, I see. Not going to give me very much to go on already. That was OK, though, I had ways of making people talk.

So what’s the deal with watching other people playing video games on Youtube all day?

I don’t know.

Hmm, this might be a tougher nut to crack than I first thought.

Well, you like watching them, right?

Yes.

Right. Maybe try a different tactic?

Would you rather watch them or play the game yourself?

Watch them.

Really? Why is that?

They show you how to play. You don’t have to look up how to do something because they already know and won’t get stuck.

Finally, now we’re getting somewhere.

Do you watch them play games you’ve never played?

Most of them I’ve never played.

He’s up to something… don’t let the grin fool you.

Oh.

I mean, I’ve played Dumb Ways To Die and Battlefront.

What’s your current favorite game?

Star Wars Battlefront and Nascar 14. It’s a much better game than ’09 was.

What is your favorite game to watch, but you haven’t played?

Unknown Battlefield

Is making Youtube videos something you’d want to do?

Yes.

Why don’t you do it now?

I don’t have all the equipment for it.

At that point, his people swooped in and ended the interview. The phone went dead. I scrambled with my own cell, making sure it wasn’t me who was the problem… but I had plenty of bars and plenty of power. His mother called me back shortly thereafter to let me know that he hung up on me.

I’m not sure if I was asking the right questions or if he was just leading me through a maze with no escape. Or maybe I was getting too close to the truth of it all, and he decided that he’d end the conversation before we reached a place we could never come back from.

And I’m not sure if I’ll ever really know the answer.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

Steampunk Fridays – Kickstart the Game- 1879 London Adventure and Sourcebook

As a roleplayer, I’m always on the look out for games that I might get to play. Sometimes it’s because of the rule systems, sometimes it is because of the setting, and sometimes it’s just something that catches your eye. You know those games. The ones where you end up reading the sourcebooks cover to cover. You let your mind take it all in long before you ever break out a character sheet.

***

1879 London Adventure and Sourcebook

From FASA Corporation

Kickstarter campaign ends on Monday, August 21, 2017, at 9:00 AM EDT.

***

The Pitch:

1879 is FASA’s steamweird roleplaying game, that takes the place of Shadowrun in our cosmology. Due to a weird science experiment that opens a stable wormhole, Earth’s magic cycle gets jumpstarted in the late Victorian era, leading to a Gilded Age with elves, dwarves, snarks, and trolls. As the world adjusts to its new races, technological progress races forward, as the Age of Steam begins to give way to the Age of Electricity. Clockwork computers exchange data over telegraph wires, steam-powered airships chug through the sky, and industrial applications of magic churn out new wonders daily.

In the new world, the British army faces off against the Samsut, descendants of the Babylonians and Akkadians with their own Weird Science that allows them to raise the dead and use zombies as shock troops and skeletons as fire and forget munitions. The Saurids, the true native race of the Grosvenor World, aren’t happy about either Terrestrial civilization, and may yet manage to unite their fragmented tribes and create a second front.

Play it as steampunk corporate espionage if you like, or court intrigue, or lost world pulp adventure – yes, there are dinosaurs!

Adventure awaits!”

The Game:

This particular Kickstarter is actually for Book 1 in The Akkadian Trilogy (Big Trouble in Little Soho) and/or the London Gazetteer (London, or The Haunted City). In addition, at a couple of the higher Reward levels, you can get both of those as well as the Players Guide, the GM’s Guide, and the GM Screen ($138 and up).

Big Trouble in Little Soho looks to be the big jumping off point for a potential adventure path. The basic set up is that there is a drug that grants “explosive strength”… and it ends up “in  the wrong hands.”

“The book runs 96 pages, digest size, perfect bound, with a full-color cover and black and white interior art. Layout is complete; backers will receive immediate access to the galley proof.”

London, or The Haunted City is the breakdown of the city of London within the game. From the breakdown, it details the every piece of the city, with potential adventure hooks when the PCs decide they want to just wander around (as PCs always seem to do). Then there is a breakdown on the technology, the politics, and even the various criminals and activities they might… entice your players with.

In addition, you also get “a complete adventure, Baby Boojum, in which a kidnapping goes hysterically wrong.”

“The book runs 256 pages, digest size, perfect bound unless we meet our first Stretch Goal, with a full-color cover and black and white interior art. Layout is complete; backers will receive immediate access to the galley proof.”

Passenger Giffard by Yad Mui, vehicles artist

Final Verdict:

Since Steampunk kind of occupies this odd space where everything is potentially available to you within a band of a few decades (late 1800s…-ish), sometimes that isn’t enough to entice potential players. They are looking for something a little more than just (forgive me)… gears and corsets. They need a unique Divergent Point. They need to know why your world is more appealing than the next.

From the FASA Games website:

“The Silver Exhibition, London, 1876. Twenty-five years after the Crystal Palace Exhibition, another is held to showcase the technological wonders of Britain. An ambitious inventor shows off his device to view great distances, but something goes wrong and the machine explodes and vanishes. In its place is left a circular field of … something.

One year to the day of the incident, the field opens. The portal reveals a vast new world of great resources, wonders, and terrors. By 1879 the Empire has a foothold in this new world. A massive fortification named Fort Alice is established at the end of the passage, which has been dubbed the Rabbit Hole.”

So it is with great curiosity that in the 1879 setting we’re dealing with a pair of worlds… seemingly leaking into each other. Our world is on its way to steam power and technology booms while the world on the other side of the wormhole is one where more fantastic creatures and magic are accepted as the norm. A place where our world is the invaders but also potentially the saviors.

I love the idea that an adventure could start on our world and end up on the other side of the portal (or vice versa). That maybe things which work a certain way here might be upside down over there.

And the character roleplaying potential is there, cooked in the bones of this world(s). Do you want to play the fish out of water? Not a problem since probably half the time you’re not going to be on your home world. Want to learn magic? Want to see the wonders of this new technology? All of it is available to you.

Just pass through the Rabbit Hole.

***

For more information about 1879 and other FASA Games, check out their website here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

 

 

 

Kickstart the Comic – The Owl Tribe

I love it when creators find a spot of history that very few people have decided to set up in and really make it their own. Here’s a book that not only does that but uses one of those pieces of North American history that doesn’t always get looked at in general, which creates a potential goldmine of ideas for the right person.

***

The Owl Tribe

Lukasz Wnuczek – Story, Dialogues, and Art

Luke Cartwright – Dialogues and Edits

Kickstarter campaign ends on Thursday, August 17, 2017 at 1:39 AM EDT.

 

The Pitch:

Precolumbian America… The worlds of Vikings and natives collide in this full-color graphic novel.

The Story:

The Owl Tribe contains a single complete story which revolves around a hunt for a beast straight out of the native (and Norse!) legends. It is set in the time of Viking exploration of pre-Columbian America and features fantastic characters borrowed from the lore of native tribes while also drawing from Norse tales.

John’s Thoughts:

Years ago there was a movie called Pathfinder which dealt with Vikings coming to the New World. It’s one of those ideas that just clicks for me. So when I read the initial pitch for The Owl Tribe and it mentioned Vikings and the New World… well, that’s something I’ve got to see.

The level of detail in some of the drawings, the weapons or equipment… not only am I pretty sure those took some effort to do, but they really sell me on the realism side of things. These are people who are clearly passionate about this story and want to make it as authentic as possible.

The Rewards:

There are both the print and digital options to start. Then some art prints (which you should go to the Kickstarter Page to check out those if you do nothing else). However, for those who would rather make an appearance within the comic book, there is both a Single Appearance opportunity ($137 Level) and a chance to become a Secondary Character in one of the scenes ($242 Level).

But the one that is unique is the Art Commission where it appears you can have a One-Page story drawn up in this style. That’s a very cool opportunity that I’ve not seen in other Kickstarters ($320 level).

The Owl Tribe – Page 16

 

The Verdict:

One of the biggest things going for this project (aside from the material, obviously) is that this has already been completed. Especially with something of this scale: 100 page graphic novel with 56 of that being the story, that’s a good thing (nobody likes to wait for months and months if they don’t have to).

More than that, this book just looks like one you know you’ll get drawn into… or, at least, I know I will.

***

For more information on The Owl Tribe, check out their Facebook Page here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

Steampunk Fridays – Interview with the Creators of Arcane Sally & Mr Steam

Independent comic creators’ biggest problem may be getting the word out about their work. If you aren’t attached to one of the larger companies, there is much more opportunity to have your comics slip through the cracks.

Having recently completed their latest Kickstarter, the team over at the Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam comic are clearly doing something with their Steampunk… Ghost Story… Victorian supernatural action-adventure… Love Story?

But don’t listen to me, check out the Book Trailer they did and then come back for the interview!

***

The Players:

David Alton Hedges – Writer

Jefferson Costa – Art

Shane Amaya – Producer

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

David – This is my first comic!

Jefferson – I’ve been working with comics since I was about 21 years old.

At what point did you sit down to become an artist/writer? Do you remember the first thing you drew/wrote?

David – I was an artist first, but in college, I started to realize that the people around me were better artists.  After I turned in one particularly creative art term-paper, my professor pulled me aside and said, “Why are you an art major? You’re a writer.”  That’s when I realized my special purpose was to use words to paint pictures in people’s imaginations.

Jefferson – As far as I can recall, I started drawing around 4 or 5 years old, but I don’t remember what my first drawing was. Drawing was a hobby at first. In my country, for someone of my humble origins, I didn’t see any prospect or path toward a career in illustration, art, or entertainment. But nonetheless, I took a step when I was about 20.

Just before turning to comics, I was studying aircraft maintenance!

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

David – I am in awe of Neal Stephenson, jealous of China Mieville, and still trying to figure out Gene Wolfe.  Jeff VanderMeer is one of my heroes.  But if I had to pick one writer whose career I wish was my own, it would be Dan Simmons.  People scratched their heads over DROOD but I loved it.  It’s one of maybe five books in my lifetime that I read twice.

It’s probably obvious that Alan Moore and Mike Mignola were strong influences for Arcane Sally.

Jefferson – Various artists and creators inspire me in different ways and different media. A few could be Flavio Colin (a famed Brazilian creator), Mignola, Tarkovsky.

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

David – I HAVE to get out of the house to get any real work done.  I share an office with another writer – we interrupt each other sometimes but it’s good to have someone on hand to lob an idea at and get an immediate reaction.  We have white boards with indecipherable cave paintings on them that mean something only to us.

Jefferson – I manage it very badly I think, hahaha. I always work more hours than recommended for health, around 15-16 hours a day, or more, and this is crazy. In the past six months, I’ve been trying to manage it better. Nowadays I work 10 hours a day and preserve the weekends for family.

It’s often difficult to get word out about independent comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?

Jefferson – I am personally very bad and selling and promoting myself. I really need help with this.

David – This one’s for Shane!

Shane – Not much! We have the requisite Facebook and Twitter accounts, but we found that neither moves the needle much in terms of getting eyeballs on the comic—or backers to our Kickstarter campaigns.

We have the comics at our local comics store (Avalon in Santa Barbara, CA!). And we post them online on Tapastic and LINE WebToon. Tapastic and Webtoon are great mobile platforms and we have some enthusiastic fans there. But the sites are geared for mostly teen anime type comics, so our readership is relatively low in comparison to the most popular comics (with millions of readers), but all the more appreciated for it!

Now that we have three issues and a collected TPB out, we’re very excited to start hitting the cons in CA (for now). We hope to be at WonderCon and SDCC next year.

Our very first con will be on August 20th at the LA Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention, and then we’ll be at Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con in at the end of October (27-29)!

We’re hoping these cons and others will make all the difference!

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

David – I’m a screenwriter so I outline.  I don’t really know what would happen if I didn’t – probably a big mess of ideas and cool scenes that don’t really build up to anything until – suddenly – the end!

What’s your process look like? Digital or by hand? Do you have a preference?

David – I mix it up: breaking story by hand (with Blackwing pencils!) and then burning rubber on the keyboard.

Jefferson – Today I’m more adapted to digital, and I prefer it. But it depends on what each work requires.

I was able to get in on your last Kickstarter, so I’m looking forward to being able to read the story so far. What inspired you to create Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam?

David – I’ve always been obsessed with anything Victorian.  I wrote a Jack the Ripper script years ago that I never sold, but I included supernatural overtones and a chase across the London rooftops that I loved.  Arcane Sally was a way to take some of those ideas and just let them morph into something even crazier.

Was this a case of coming up with the story first and then the setting or vice versa?

David – Setting came first – Victorian London!  Then the characters appeared and began to demand to be heard.

What’s been the reaction to the book?

David – The first reaction I got was from a friend who read an early draft and said, “Did you really just write a love story?”I said, “No, it’s a Victorian supernatural action-adventure.”  He said, “Bullshit – this is a love story.”

I said, “No, it’s a Victorian supernatural action-adventure.”He said, “Bullshit – this is a love story.”

He said, “Bullshit – this is a love story.”

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

David – Someone much smarter than me who has read a lot of my writing told me:“All of your scripts are formal complaints about Death.”  She was right – everything always comes back to me shaking my fist at the inevitability of dying.

“All of your scripts are formal complaints about Death.”She was right – everything always comes back to me shaking my fist at the inevitability of dying.

She was right – everything always comes back to me shaking my fist at the inevitability of dying.

After running 3 successful Kickstarters for Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam, what have you learned about the process of Kickstarter? What do you think has contributed to hitting your goals on Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam?

David – This one’s for Shane!

Shane – Three successful campaigns–and two failed ones from which we learned plenty. Kickstarter has been the best platform so far in terms of finding our readership. There’s a lot of comics on Kickstarter. And comics readers go to Kickstarter to look for new comics to read. It’s win-win. We have terrifically loyal backers backing us for every issue and encouraging us to continue. And that you can’t put a price on.

Did you worry about “going to the well” too soon after each one?

Shane – We don’t worry about going to the well too often, because our fans are on board, as some have said, for the long haul. It’s a great relief to be able to count on getting enough to produce the rest of the books. But it’s also a challenge to keep producing new rewards and incentives to keep each campaign fresh—but that’s also the fun of it. We don’t take anything for granted, least of all our readership!

We initially attempted to raise money to complete the whole series. And we learned then that the best way to go about it was issue by issue. But we produced the first issue on our own. So we offered #1 as a reward for the campaign to raise money for #2. This way, backers know the book is finished at the get-go: they are guaranteed to get something. And that makes a big difference. Plus, since we only try to fund one book at a time, it’s much easier to meet and exceed the goal. And we always put our minimum at actually lower than we need, because we’ve seen that people are more willing to back a project that looks as if it will succeed.

Do you view the platform as a testing ground for the concepts?

Shane – Is Kickstarter a testing ground for concepts? Sure. But it’s hard to say what the standard is, if there is one at all, in terms of what people will back. There’s always that project you might think is dubious that racks up triple your pledges. It goes to show that Kickstarter is a place where any creator can go to find their audience/readership/consumer and succeed if they can meet their expectations and follow through on delivery.

You currently have 3 issues of Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam. What’s the overall plan with Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam?

Shane – It’s slated for 10 issues. We plan to collect 4-7 and 8-10 in separate TPBs, and then collect the whole run. Ideally, we’d then go to an established publisher who could print and distribute it to the direct comic book market and beyond.

Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about working with each other (now’s a great time to spill any dirt you might have on them!).

David – Screenwriters must collaborate, so it hasn’t felt too weird to do it on this comic.  Jeff is so cinematic in his layouts and where he positions the reader’s eye, so it’s always a pleasure to see his artwork.  Shane and I have brief, heated arguments about details and then we resolve them and move on and we’re usually both happier with the results.

Jeff lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil so we’ve never had a disagreement!  Pretty hard to argue with someone thousands of miles away – plus he is a super nice guy!

Jefferson – It’s great when everyone is heading for the same place in relation to the project, like this team is.

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

David – The pursuit of money is a lie.  Creativity is everything, but you must make your work professional.  And all writing is bullshit if the writer doesn’t expose himself and risk being vulnerable.

Jefferson – I would tell myself to plan better, everything, my career choices, and my career path.

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

David – I have a Netflix movie that I wrote that’s going to be shot in South Africa in November: Scorpion King 5!  I loved the original with The Rock because it reminded me of 80’s sword-and-sorcery movies, so was thrilled when Universal told me to take this franchise and bring it back to Egypt.  It’s a pretty low-budget movie by today’s standards so no one was very nervous about it, so they let me invent whatever I wanted.

Where’s the best place to find out more about Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam and the rest of your works?

We are on Tapastic (https://tapas.io/series/arcanesally)

Webtoon (http://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/arcane-sally-mr-steam/list?title_no=51190)

Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/arcanesally?ref=hl)

Twitter (https://twitter.com/)

Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/dragabok)

www.facebook.com/jcostarm (for Jefferson Costa’s Facebook)

***

DAVID HEDGES is a screenwriter from Los Angeles and a recipient of the Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting. He has written scripts for several major studios. This is his first comic.

JEFFERSON COSTA is an artist and animator from Brazil, and the winner of three HQ Mix trophies, the “Oscar” of Brazilian comics, for Best Anthology and Best Graphic Novel in 2015, and for Best Graphic Adaptation in 2013.

***

I want to thank everyone over at Arcane Sally and Mr. Steam for being so gracious with their time!

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

Push Through The Noise

Head beating itself against the desk.

The words fail to make the leap from fingers to screen.

Blank screen mocks you with it’s flashing cursor.

Still, there is nothing, absolutely nothing to be done about it.

Another glance at the clock shows me only that time continues to tick by, faster and slower at the same time.

I’m tired.

I don’t want to do this tonight.

Why didn’t I start earlier?

I have to go to work tomorrow.

Gotta get something done.

Just need one idea…

Something…

Anything…

Damnit!

Opens one of the notebooks filled with various bits and pieces of ideas or characters or settings or…

None of those will work.

I’m wasting all this time.

Maybe try reading what I’ve already written?

Why is this so hard?

Other people make this look so easy. Ideas flow out and magically appear. None of them have this problem.

So why do I have the problem?

You’ve been here before and managed to find a way around the problem.

Work the problem.

Is it a character issue?

A subject issue.

Ok. So what needs to happen before the words start working for me instead of against me?

Don’t touch that mouse!

No reason to even bother clicking away.

Another ten minutes destroyed by inaction.

***

This is my brain on writer’s block. I know some people will tell you it doesn’t exist. I’ve heard people talk about it like it is a completely foreign concept to them. There are those who really think they’ve got the whole thing figured out.

I don’t buy it. Not one bit.

There have to be those times when other people, other writers just don’t know what it is they are going to write. And not in the good way, where you are on a journey of discovery within your work. No, I’m talking about that blank page, when it locks onto your soul letting you know that you have nothing else you could possibly bring to the table. That if you’re tired, then just do it tomorrow. No one needs to know that you’re having issues. No one needs to know that the words won’t come.

I mean it’s not like you forget how to write, but there has to be something which could streamline the process a little bit. Some magically easy button I can push to just get the initial push.

Something to help me remember how to do it.

***

Another ten minutes lost.

Bedtime was an hour ago.

And still, this stupid monitor glows with a white smile.

Just have to write something, no matter how small. No matter if there are tons of actual good ideas. Something needs to appear on paper.

No more excuses.

Push through the noise.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

Steampunk Fridays – Interview with Ken Reynolds

Independent comic creators’ biggest problem may be getting the word out about their work. If you aren’t attached to one of the larger companies, there is much more opportunity to have your comics slip through the cracks.

Today we shine a little bit of light in the direction of Cognition’s creator: Ken Reynolds.

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

Only about 2 years, ‘properly’. I used to make comic strips for my design blog, but I didn’t really commit to making comics until after my daughter was born… Suddenly I had limited time for my freelance work, and I figured I better use it to make stuff I genuinely enjoyed rather than trying to just make some extra money on stuff that I found frustrating or unfulfilling.

I started out as a letterer for Dave Hailwood on the sci-fi anthology, 100% Biodegradable… 2 years later I’ve written 3 single issues, editing an experimental anthology that is about to release its 7th issue, and I’m about to complete a book I’ve drawn.

Things, kind of, snowballed!

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

The whole small press comic scene inspires me. Everyone is making stuff they are truly passionate about, and they are genuinely interested and supportive of anyone making comics. And everyone SHOULD make comics if you love the form. Go to a con, chat to creators… Everyone will be really keen to give you advice and help you get started. It’s amazing.

As for more mainstream creators… I’ll read anything Jason Aaron writes, and look at anything Dave McKean draws.

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

I have a VERY understanding and supportive wife.

I work full time… We have a busy family life… But when my daughter goes to bed, I get to work on the comic stuff. It’s all time management stuff. Early mornings, late nights, working through lunch hours, squeezing in creativity as and when you can.

Everything is a balancing act… I’m sure I ignore a few things I shouldn’t in order to make it happen… Like exercise or leisure (I barely watch TV anymore and I wish I picked up computer games more) but there will be time down the road for that stuff.

Family first, then work… Comic stuff next, everything else for what’s left.

So, it’s difficult… But I can’t do it any other way. I’ve conditioned myself to make stuff, and to break that now would be a silly thing to do.

It’s often difficult to get the word out about independent comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?

I wish I had that golden bullet of an answer, but I don’t.It’s a slog. It’s a constant cycle of shouting into the void of social media and general marketing in the hope someone will take a look.

It’s a slog. It’s a constant cycle of shouting into the void of social media and general marketing in the hope someone will take a look.

Most of my readership found me through Kickstarter, and the rest stems from being an active member of the small press community. Taking an interest in what everyone else is up to, so they might take an interest in you. But it’s got to be a genuine interest… Everyone sniffs out a phony. No way to fake it.

I found it a tough balance. I dislike the hard sell and often worry about ‘bothering’ people. SO I may well be missing out on my full marketing potential.

The easiest way to market a product is to make a really good product. People talk about exceptional things. You can’t buy word of mouth marketing, you have to inspire it with something that’s worth talking about… I strive to make something exceptional.

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

My process is messy. I start with a notebook full of scribbles. I distil that down onscreen and break it up into chunks before writing a script.

Within that, though, there is a lot of outlining and planning. By the time I get to scripting, I know everything that is going to happen, and all of the beats and pacing.

The joy in writing for me is surprising myself with dialogue within that framework. Sometimes an unexpected idea will crop up… But that’s what editing is for!

I’m a big believer in completing things, even if they are terrible. At least you have something to work with, to improve.You

You can’t make ‘nothing’ any better.

I love the idea of Cognition! What inspired you to write Cognition?

Cognition went through a lot of stages before it got to where it is now…I guess the initial idea came from a ‘Steampunk Pinocchio’ concept. Originally it was a much smaller, slower and quieter story about a robot that came to life in a basement and explored that small place believing it to be the full extent of the universe.

I guess the initial idea came from a ‘Steampunk Pinocchio’ concept. Originally it was a much smaller, slower and quieter story about a robot that came to life in a basement and explored that small place believing it to be the full extent of the universe.Things grow and develop. Ideas come along and fall by the wayside. I still plan on

Things grow and develop. Ideas come along and fall by the wayside. I still plan on reusing that initial idea within the current series. But all in all the messages and ideas behind the book have totally changed. Big concepts for me are the duality on our personalities and how wrapped up in our sense of self is, in our physicality.

You currently have 3 issues of Cognition (issue 0 through issue 2). What’s the overall plan with Cognition?

There are 2 more issues to complete the first arc… I’m writing them at the moment, and I might try complete and print them together… We’ll see.

Sam is taking a break for a while as he works on other exciting projects, but we’re looking to wrap up the first story as soon as we can.

I know where I’m leaving things at the end of the arc… It’s a good stopping point, with plenty of potential to carry on. I have stories for years in my head, but it comes down to a lot of outside factors to keep it going. I’ll attempt to pitch the first arc to wider distribution and see if we can figure out a way to make production a bit ‘easier’… We’ll see.

Basically, as long as Sam wants to draw it, I’ve got stories for us to tell.

Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about working with Sam Bentley, the artist on Cognition.

Sam is a dream!

Seriously, he has so much to do with how this book as connected with the audience. His art tells so much of the story without me having to overwrite or fill in any blanks.

Getting pages to my inbox is a real treat as he makes my script come alive in ways that are always different… And better than I had in my head when I was writing.

This is the joy of collaboration… People taking your idea and executing it better than you originally imagined.

The more we’ve worked together the better our collaboration has become. There are some sections in the scripts now that I don’t have to fully script. I give Sam the narrative beats and let him have the creative freedom to figure out the best way to join the dots artistically. I have a huge respect and trust in him as an artist and I want to keep the project as fulfilling and interesting as I can for him.

He does sketches, we discuss things, he re-draws and suddenly these miraculous pages appear and I get to add letters and feel bad about covering bits!

After running 3 successful Kickstarters for Cognition (and 4 overall), what have you learned about the process of Kickstarter? What do you think has contributed to hitting your goals on Cognition each time?

Kickstarter is a wonderful platform for self-publishing. I use it in a very particular way though. I only go to KS once I’ve got a complete book. I only use it for printing costs and getting it over the line… This has a few drawbacks and benefits… It means I have to self-fund most of the book, but it means I can fulfill the campaign very quickly after funding. This has resulted in having quite a decent reputation on the KS platform. I dislike the horror stories of people waiting years for what they’ve paid for etc… Plus I’m very conscientious and would dislike an unfulfilled campaign hanging over me!

The wonderful thing about KS is that there is no single way of utilizing it. I run things in a way that they are in my comfort zone, and that zone is defined by my own personal circumstances and set of ethics.

Everyone will be different, but there are a set of rules I set myself and play by… It’s worked thus far.

Did you worry about “going to the well” too soon after each one? 

I don’t worry about going back too much, because I know I’m offering a product that has proven sustained interest at the level I need for it to succeed. As long as there is enough support I’ll keep seeing it as a viable avenue to create the books I want to make.

Do you view the platform as a testing ground for the concepts?

As for a testing ground…. I’m not sure. I see it as a place to take a complete project and make it a reality. I’m uncomfortable with ‘speculative’ campaigns… There is a lot of trust needed, and I, personally, don’t feel comfortable asking that much of people willing to support me.

Ken’s desk where the magic happens… with a smaller desk for his daughter.

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

Just make stuff!

Why did I wait until I was in my thirties to commit to making comics? Because I didn’t think I could pull it off, because I doubted myself…

Seriously, just make stuff… Find other people that like making the same sort of stuff, talk to them, share your work… Do more work, get better. Fail…. Fail HUGE! But don’t stop. Just use whatever you learn to make the next thing better.

I’m learning with each page, each book each project… The last thing I made is the best thing I ever made. If I don’t feel that way about it, nobody else should.

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

I’m very close to finishing my first solo book. I’ve done everything on the page. Writing, art, lettering… The whole lot. It’s quite a personal story about pregnancy and the end of the world! But I haven’t quite figured out what I’m doing with it yet… So if that sounds interesting follow me on twitter as I’ll be going on and on about it once I decide. (@kenreynoldsdesign)

www.kenreynoldsdesign.co.uk
http://kenreynoldsdesign.deviantart.com/gallery/
http://cognitioncomic.bigcartel.com/
http://slicedquarterly.co.uk/

Ken has lettered for many independent publishers and creators, including Alterna, Markosia, Grayhaven Comics, & Insane Comics. He was proud to be part of the lettering team that completed the 750+ page epic that is ‘The Explorers’ Guild’ by Jon Baird, Kevin Costner and Rick Ross published by Simon & Schuster.

He also writes the supernatural adventure series ‘Cognition’, edits the experimental comic anthology ‘Sliced Quarterly’ and is an assistant editor of the sci-fi anthology 100% biodegradable.

***

I want to thank Ken for taking the time to answer all my questions. If there ever was a doubt to trying to create your art, just fall back on Ken’s own words: “Just make stuff!”.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

 

San Diego Comic Con 2017 Recap

No, I didn’t go, but due to the con, I have tons of smaller chunks that have been running around my brain this week – dealing with San Diego Comic Con, Dark Tower, Thor, and Game of Thrones:

San Diego Comic Con

My wife asked me if I was jealous of the people who went to the convention this last weekend. Immediately my mind went to something Robert Jeffrey said over email:

“I want to go, but I want to go with a purpose. I want to be invited.”

Or something close to that. The point is I see the pictures of some of these comic creators gathering up and having their meetings and I think, that’s a million miles away. Other days it only feels thousands of miles away.

With conventions that size, there are only so many things you can actually see. You stand in line for hours in order to possibly get a seat in a crowded room (I should know, I’ve done it at Dragon Con many, many times over). Luckily, I’m able to see the new trailers for the various movies or tv shows coming out in the fall without leaving the comfort of my house…

Make of that what you will.

***

The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower comes out in just over a week I think. I’m not finished with the series (on the second to last book). I’ve also come to it fairly late in the game only having started reading them in the last couple of years. I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to start them before King was done writing them. And I actually timed it right, as Wind Through the Keyhole was out when I started my journey allowing me to read it in its proper order.

Of course, once I started in on the series I was hooked. In fact, the only reason I haven’t finished the series is more out of trying to make it last… not speeding through it like a maniac.

But the film… I’m hyped. I don’t know if it will be faithful or not. Then I talked to friends this weekend who informed me of its running length: 95 minutes. It’s been about 3 decades since that amount of time was more or less the standard. Maybe that’s all they’ll need if they stick to the first book (it is the shortest), but they have a TON of world-building before they are done.

95 minutes isn’t a lot of time for everything they need to do.

***

Thor: Ragnarok

Then again the new Thor movie is claimed to be 100 minutes, which is also very short in this day and age of 2-hour movies. Here’s the deal, as the movies have lengthened they probably don’t trim and cut as much as they could or should. I have no doubt of that. When you are a writer there are scenes which you try to rework and rework to fit into the Draft, but after a certain point, you have to excise it from your life.

Maybe that’s what these filmmakers are doing now. They are looking how to make the best version of the movie, not worried about some arbitrary time limit which may or may not be something the studios should be dictating in the first place.

Then again, if the movies are shorter, do we get a discount on the prices to see those same movies?

***

Game of Thrones

I see plenty of memes about Game of Thrones and people realizing we’ve only got 5 more episodes for this season (7 total instead of 10) and people losing their minds. supposedly the producers have said they want the season to move at a brisker pace than previous seasons. Plus only having 7 episodes allows them for more of the special effects.

The problem with the first reason is these episodes have felt like normal episodes. Characters have still been scattered to the edges of the world. We still are wondering what’s happening in certain areas. And we’re gearing toward the final conflicts. But it feels the same.

Which makes me worried we’re getting less of the same thing. Not that we’re getting 10 lbs of something in a 5 lb bag.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

Steampunk Fridays – 5 Steampunk Movies You Should Watch

Maybe…

Steampunk as a genre is both a century plus old and somewhat relatively new. Arguments can be made that the birth of the form is found in the works of Mary Shelly and HG Wells and Jules Verne as much as they might be given to those who put it on the map for modern audiences: Tim Powers, James Blaylock, and KW Jeter.

Yet, as I was coming up with this list of 5 Steampunk movies, I had to admit that there aren’t as many as you might think there are considering the number of costumes I see posted all over the web (or at conventions like Dragon Con). The following aren’t necessarily the best, but these are ones who contribute in their own way to the genre.

The Prestige (2006)

Ok, I might have lied. This one is not only worth seeing, but it is worth watching multiple times. Told through a series of flashback, this is the story of dueling stage magicians who are constantly trying to one up the other through sabotage or stealing the other’s tricks.

Much like the subject matter, the movie itself is somewhat of a trick, daring you to figure out its secrets as one twist follows another. The lengths that two men will go to in order to get the last word.

And just when you think you’ve figured it all out… now comes the reveal.

What makes it Steampunk?

Stage Magic. Nikola Tesla makes an appearance and builds a machine that seemingly allows the magician to move instantly from one place to another.

 

Wild Wild West (1999)

So we go from the top of the form to one of its disappointments. The problem with Wild Wild West isn’t that it wears its steampunk roots on its sleeves, no the problem is that it never takes any of the plots seriously. Things are played for laughs, but there are no real stakes for our characters. Instead, we are treated to a series of gadgets which would make James Bond jealous. Add in an odd motivation for the villain of the piece: He’s going to use his technology to help defeat the United States as punishment for winning the Civil War… Ok, I can understand that. He’s a southerner who was on the losing side. However, the crux of his plan is to have President Grant divide the country among Great Britain, France, Spain, Mexico, the Native Americans, and, of course, himself.

What?

Wild Wild West is proof that you still need a story on top of the steam technology.

What makes it Steampunk?

Honestly, this movie is chocked full of Steampunk items: a giant mechanical spider, trains, and a steam-powered wheelchair!

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Maybe I’m blinded by Robert Downey Jr’s performance, but I really like this movie (and its sequel, A Game of Shadows). If Steampunk means Victorian Setting, then this wins as it’s set in London near the turn of the century. A dirty, crowded city trying to birth itself into the new industrial world.

The plots of the original movie follow Sherlock Holmes as he tries to figure out how Lord Henry Blackwood managed to potentially cheat death. Throughout, he’s forced to try to find the truth of things even if every new revelation seems to point to a more supernatural explanation for how the Lord escaped his execution.

Much like any good mystery, I liked following along with the characters as they made their way through the maze of lies and deceits, often wondering what the answer was going to actually be.

What makes it Steampunk?

A mixture of science and magic being used together. Secret societies. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

 

The Time Machine (2002)

Based on HG Wells’ novel, this particular version is more of a cautionary tale of what happens when you try and change the past. Dr. Hartgren’s fiancee’s death at the beginning of the film is what pushes him to complete the machine in order to try to change the past. However, in almost a nod to Groundhog Day, each attempt to stop her death is foiled in some way. Realizing he can’t find the answer to his question: “How do you change the past?” in his current time, he pushes the machine forward to discover the answer.

Around the time I graduated high school, I went on a spree of reading many of the “classics”. The Time Machine was one of the first and probably is responsible for my love of time travel in fiction. This version of the story has the strongest reason for the main character to travel in time at all (I believe, in the novel, he’s mostly doing it to show that he can). The heartbreak of losing his true love over and over… I completely bought into what he was trying to do, and how he’s literally going to the end of time if it meant saving her.

What makes it Steampunk?

If being based on one of the seminal books of the genre isn’t enough, then I’m not sure what is.

 

Van Helsing (2004)

This should be a no-brainer. You have the vampire slayer, Van Helsing, also acting as a potential “monster hunter”. You have free range over the entire Universal Monster franchises. You have Dr. Frankenstein teaming up with Dracula. You have a monster hunter who works for the Vatican. You get werewolves and gypsies and potentially angels (?).

And yet, somehow the movie just never delivers on its original promise.

This is one of those movies that I look upon as a lost opportunity. This should have been the start of a very cool franchise (which might have given us an updated version of The Creature, maybe?). Instead, it was dead pretty much on arrival.

What makes it Steampunk?

More of the gothic feel of the form to start. Many roleplaying games and novels have used the monsters are walking among us within the Steampunk framework. Dr. Frankenstein’s experiments.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

LEGION – A Review

I love it when I’m surprised by something. I’m not talking about jumping out from behind an object and trying to get me to an early grave. I mean when some piece of entertainment shows up and completely flips all your thoughts and feelings about it in one episode.

Legion wasn’t going to be something I would bother with. Oh, it’s comics related, so I needed to at least check it out, but this was a character who I don’t believe I own one comic book with him in it. It was going to be this show that really didn’t tie into anything else that Fox was doing with the rest of its X-Men or Spider-man related properties. And it didn’t even have the bonus of being a Netflix show where maybe they might be able to get away with a little more (and possibly use that as their calling card for why you could check it out).

Legion defies all of that.

In fact, Legion sort of defies being identified at all… I’m getting ahead of myself. For those who don’t know, here’s the synopsis from Wikipedia:

David Haller was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age and has been a patient in various psychiatric hospitals since. After Haller has an encounter with a fellow psychiatric patient, he is confronted with the possibility that there may be more to him than mental illness.

Does that scream: Superhero to you? Because it doesn’t to me. And it is a good thing because it is barely a superhero show. Yes, there are characters with powers, but half the time I’m not entirely sure they are powers anyone would want. David is the worst of them all because he may be one of the most powerful mutants (yes, like the X-Men) in the world… and he’s pretty convinced he’s completely insane.

The show screws with the viewer almost as much as it screws with the characters. Half the time you can’t be sure anything you’re seeing is actually happening or if it is just something David thinks is happening.What year does this show take place in?

It is both linear and non-linear. It is psychedelic and perfectly normal. Everyone is crazy… or perhaps no one is.

What year does this show take place in? From the look of everyone, I might think some late 60s mod-style, but then there is a mention of email or something which derails that thought process. Maybe David is seeing the world as he saw it when he was a child, and so for him, it looks like something from 40 years ago? Or maybe I’m just trying to let my own brain make sense of the show and story.

The monster in David’s head.

Within the 8 episode season, it becomes apparent that there is someone else… something else who has its designs on David. The entire show is about putting together the fractured pieces of one character’s mind without having any idea what the final picture is actually supposed to be of. And then when you get to the end, you realize there are a handful of missing pieces… except, maybe there isn’t.

I wanted to write a proper review of this show. I wanted to dig into the nooks and crannies, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if this show could be deconstructed in a regular way. The surprises announce themselves at various times so that you may figure out a piece here or a piece there, but what the bigger picture looks like becomes something else.

I want to praise the actors’ performances. Especially Aubrey Plaza… but to say too much about any of them would potentially give something away. This may be one of those shows where the less you know about what’s going on, the better off you might be (though, if you are an X-Men Historian, you should be fine also).

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

No One Is Safe

If a show sets up an expectation that anyone can die and then showcases a handful of characters… is it really being true to its core premise? To put it another way, at what point does your desire to see further main characters killed off interfere with story and enjoyment? When does worry as a viewer disappear? When is it replaced with apathy at what may come?

“I just don’t feel like any of the main characters are in real danger.”

Both a solid argument and a bit of strangeness all rolled into one. For we all have watched the serialized shows for the past twenty some odd years. And with their coming it means we are watching lives twist and change through each zombie apocalypse, vampire slayer, gangster talking to a shrink, plane crash survivors, high school teacher turned criminal mastermind… all of it. Through it all, whether we knew it or not, we were watching a show not only likely to get some characters killed off, but they might very well be people we enjoyed watching. It put us at the edge of our seats week in and week out.

Does that change as the shows go on longer? Assuming the writing quality doesn’t suffer from the weight of its own success, is the idea “Anyone can die” enough of an idea to ensure the ratings don’t suffer.

And if it does, what can the writers do to bring that… fear back to the viewing experience?

I read comics, a format where if you read the adventures of Batman or Spider-man then the one truth is pretty much universal – the hero isn’t going to die at the end of the issue (and for this argument I’d like to say that yes, some of these characters have “died” and they have come back – but you have decades worth of stories where they just go on and on). My point is that I don’t need the fear of death for my characters to enjoy a comic book. I just need the story to be compelling in some fashion or another.

I would think that in order to have a serialized show there has to be a consistent POV. And while many serialized shows have contained multiple POVs, I still must care somewhat about the characters. So a lot of times the whole idea of “No one is safe” is very artificial. Buffy killed off a potential main cast member in its pilot episode. Angel did the same about half-way through its first season. Lost killed off some characters you loved and let others you hated stick around for longer than they should have.

Odds were high, though, that Jack and Buffy and Angel and Walter were going to keep going for the majority of the show. And I would assume anyone who loved those shows wouldn’t want those particular characters to die without some huge (HUGE) reason behind it from a story perspective.

The two shows currently airing which try to walk this line (as far as the idea “anyone can die”… well almost anyone… well maybe just the supporting characters… and Sean Bean…”): Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.

From what I’ve seen and read from both series (being a fan of the books and comics), I have to believe each contains a handful of “untouchables”… at least until the final season of each. There are certain characters I expect will continue to breathe life in their respective universes. GoT – Arya, Danny, and Tyrion seem the most likely. WD – Rick and Carl… with Carl actually being the absolute last survivor from our original group (my personal theory on how that story could/should possibly end).

The Walking Dead probably has the greater burden of the two, being in the post-apocalyptic world where, if we’re being honest about it, people are just fodder. A place where every day could and probably should be your last. Over the seasons they introduce new characters and kill off preexisting ones, but there has slowly become a “core” group who have managed to stick around from season 1 through the end of this last season. Is it a bad thing this has happened? Remember, we’re not watching an anthology where the characters only are on set for the episode or two. We need to build a connection with them (thus connecting us to the show itself).

Game of Thrones goes through episodes where no one dies, and then all of a sudden, everyone is gone. It also has the benefit of being much closer to a planned ending (only 13 episodes left total between this season and last). Things are coming to a head, which means those characters we’ve grown accustomed to watching may slowly drop away without us realizing it’s about to even happen.

So is unpredictability a good thing or the only thing?

I’m not sure if past a certain point it matters all that much. Most of the time, I’m willing to forgive a show some smaller things if they’ve delivered on their promises in the past.

So obviously I think everyone can die at any instance? No. Honestly, I assume most main characters are going to make it a little while longer. I don’t expect to Sansa die anytime soon… I don’t expect Michonne to kick the bucket this coming season. And that’s the thing… I don’t need to fear for their lives… not when I can still fear for their souls.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

Steampunk Fridays – Kickstart the Comic – Word Smith

Welcome to the first in hopefully many Fridays worth of Steampunk goodness to come. My hope is to shed some light on the genre in any way I can possibly think of. Movies, TV, comics, novels, short stories, artwork, history, and possibly other bits and pieces I haven’t even considered yet. Since I write a Steampunk comic (The Gilded Age – the first issue is still available for FREE download here), it feels only right to reach out and see what others have done.

***

Word Smith – A Steampunk Fantasy Adventure

From Sigmate Studio

Stephen Kok – Writer

P.R. Dedelis – Artist

Peyton Freeman – Colors

K. Hermann – Animator

Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, July 14, 2017, at 7:44 AM EDT.

The Pitch:

Sometimes all it takes is a word. 

Word Smith is a steampunk fantasy adventure graphic novel. I always loved steampunk and it was great to put my own twist on it and write a story in this world. There’s dragons, airships, magical words and much more.

At the core of the story, it’s still a story about people, their emotions, dreams and ambitions.

The Story:

When one of Victoria’s words goes awry, she sets off on an adventure to try and get things back the way it was. With her dragon, Sparky will she succeed or make matters worse?

Word Smith follows the story of Victoria who crafts words. These words can evoke the emotion associated with it. For example, the word HOPE will give the recipient a sense of hope.

Sample pages from Word Smith. P.R. Dedelis – Artist and Peyton Freeman – Colors

John’s Thoughts:

Steampunk goes hand in hand with Inventors. Da Vinci, Tesla, Edison, etc. So the core concept of crafting words seems like one of those things that are obvious once someone else has told you the idea (as in – why didn’t I think of that?). And then having these constructed words become their own magic for people opens an enormous amount of possibilities. Not only could you possibly get a word that has an unintended effect, but what if someone else were to use a negative word for this purpose?

The artwork has a manga influence (if only from the larger eyes on some of the characters), and there is a playfulness at work here. Which makes sense if you are going to have a talking dragon as one of your main characters!

Oh, I didn’t mention that… yeah, talking dragon!

The Rewards:

For about $19 US (AU $25) you get a physical copy of the 55-page graphic novel. As you go up the levels, there is the opportunity for prints and original sketches ($60 US). And if you’d like to be immortalized within the comic, you can select the level which lets you “Get Drawn In” ($187 US).

What’s nice is that he offered some of these options as “early bird” or limited rewards for a reduced price. Never a bad thing to reward people for pledging earlier in the life of a campaign.

However, it’s the other option at that same level “Meet the Creator” which will interest those living in and around Sydney, Australia. Stephen basically opens up the meeting as allowing you to ask him questions, discuss projects, or pretty much anything else you might want to discuss. As someone who’s run a few successful Kickstarter projects, it could be very useful to pick his brain if you were considering running one of your own!

The Verdict:

I like the core concept and from the artwork he’s posted on the Kickstarter page, it has the feeling of a fun comic. I’m very interested to see where the story ends up.

***

For more information on Word Smith or Sigmate Studio other comic projects, check them out here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

Death of Ideas

There are no original ideas.

This year is the worst box office year for movies in forever.

The only things which make money are sequels.

Now that Marvel has led the way, everyone wants their own universe… whether it’s a good idea or not.

No one makes the comics/books/tv shows/movies/etc I want to consume.

***

This, or something like it, fills my Facebook feed and fills up blogs I frequent and dominates the headlines of various other places on the internet. Complaining about the state of entertainment currently available. Complaining that is it all more of the same and why doesn’t someone do something about it.

Complaining.

Maybe, just maybe, we’re not looking hard enough?

***

Remember when you were a kid? Assuming you were anything like me, you probably were a fan of Star Wars. And when I was 8 or 9, I remember first hearing what became an ever-persistent rumor of a Star Wars saga which would span a total of 9 episodes. Nine! On the playground, during sleepovers and birthday parties we tried to wrap our heads around the very idea of such a thing. What would that even look like? Would they come out every couple of years?

None of us say in the bedroom, stomped our feet, crossed our arms, and held out breath because “Why isn’t anyone doing something new?” It never occurred to us.

Did you imagine what those other 6 episodes might look like?

Later, in my teens, everything was still new enough that even if there was a sequel to something like Batman, it was something to look forward to… not lament its very existence.

***

The entertainment world has certainly changed the way they do things with any action or genre type movie (and some random comedies as well). They are looking for the sequel. The almighty trilogy.

The way we devour movies and tv shows have reached the point where there is enough “stuff” available that it only makes sense to try to serve some existing fan base out there. It’s just flat-out easier to get buy-in on something people already recognize.

And I don’t believe this has to be a bad thing. I don’t worry about whether there are too many Super Hero sequels or that Star Wars Episode VIII is on the horizon. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, how jazzed are you that there are more stories coming from that world.

Why does this have to be a bad thing?

***

And I know what you’re saying. The big production companies only want to make a dollar (or more like many millions of dollars) and so they aren’t investing in the smaller movies. And why would they when the next Avengers movie is going to print money?

I sometimes wonder if back in the 50s and 60s whether people were annoyed by the idea of another John Wayne Western was coming out.

Were you really put out by having all those great/cheesy/insert another adjective here for the horror movies in the 80s? I love some of them in many ways, and even I didn’t bother watching most. It didn’t mean I couldn’t watch something else if I wanted to.

***

I have a friend who talks about his current comic monthly pull list. And every few months he mentions cutting the number of Marvel comics he is reading. And then 3 months later, we’re having a very similar conversation about the exact same comics.

It’s like someone has convinced all of us that the box we live in is all we could possibly see or hear. The same people who are complaining aren’t going to see that independent movie which made $2 million dollars last year. The ones complaining certain comic companies aren’t making comics for “Them” anymore aren’t necessarily searching out more indy comics to fill in those gaps. Instead, they talk about only buying 10 comics a month, down from 30. Or sometimes even worse cuts than that.

***

Here’s the secret: other people feel the same way as you, but they are creating new things. Maybe it is a series of novels from an author you’ve never heard of. Maybe it’s that movie you keep scrolling past on Netflix because you don’t recognize anyone’s name in the description. Maybe there is a comic book which will speak to you again in a way you didn’t think was possible anymore. Maybe around the corner are new horror movies or new sci-fi things or new tv shows which don’t have anything to do with part 17 of the latest craze.

And if you’re really lucky, maybe this new thing you fall in love will spawn its own series of sequels and suddenly you can claim the other thing us nerds love to claim:

“Well, I liked it first!”

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

Kickstart the Comic – Standstill #1

Post-apocalyptic stories come in all shapes and sizes, but what they truly are about is the survivors. Like any good science fiction, they force the reader to ask questions: What if it was me who lived? What would I do to survive? At what point might it all no longer be worth it?

***

Standstill #1

From Justin Gray

Justin Gray – Writer

Brox – Artist

Kickstarter campaign ends on Thursday, July 20, 2017, at 10:08 AM EDT.

The Pitch:

At its core, Standstill is the bastard love child of the Americana survival horror genre and a romantic Greek tragedy. The dramatic table is set here in the opening chapter when you are introduced to Mason and Luna, two young people very much in love, but that love is going to be tested under unimaginable circumstances over the course of their story. I say their story because Standstill is big enough to sustain multiple storylines over time and that’s how I’ve been writing it. As it progresses from chapter to chapter, the story is visceral, emotional, and, in some cases, not for the faint of heart.

The Story:

Over 7 billion people live on planet Earth. What if 6 billion of them suddenly and inexplicably stopped moving – like toys that ran out of batteries. What would happen if the world came to a… Standstill.

John’s Thoughts:

The little blurb on the back of the book. The little bit of text where you have to put the idea out there enough so that it will catch someone’s eye. Simple, concise… everything I look for in a story. On the surface, it is the type of idea which could have just as easily worked in a novel format… but as a lover of comics, I’ll happily take what Justin Gray and Brox are putting out there.

Art by Brox. Standstill Issue 1, Page 1

The Rewards:

A couple of things popped out to me:

The digital comic is very reasonable at $3 and you get a copy of the script which, as a writer, is never a bad thing to know a little more about someone else’s process.

The physical copy at $5. Many comics end up charging far more than that even before shipping.

The ability to add a digital ad to the digital version of the comic at the $8 level. At the time of this writing, a small amount of money could get you in front of at least 225 backers where maybe something you write in your pitch becomes the thing which drives them to your story.

Art by Brox. Standstill Issue 1, Page 2

The Verdict:

Justin talks about the idea coming to him if he woke up and everyone else was paralyzed, waiting to die.

That is some messed up thinking… a man after my own heart. I don’t know where the story may end up going, or what the long-term ideas he may have already mapped out, but at least in the initial issue, I am all aboard to see what happens next.

***

For more information on Standstill or Justin’s other comic projects, check out his Facebook Page here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

The Free Comic Experiment – Gilded Age #1

I’m currently running a promotion where the first issue of my Steampunk Comic: The Gilded Age #1 is free to download.

The Gilded Age

https://www.instafreebie.com/free/2V0z3

or if you are already a member of Noisetrade you can find it here:

http://books.noisetrade.com/johnmcguire/the-gilded-age-1

The only thing required of you to get the free issue is to provide your email address.

A little about The Gilded Age:

Welcome to the world of The Gilded Age.

1877. The full dawn of Industrial Revolution has collided with the twilight of the age of magic and alchemy, leading to a most curious progeny: self-aware clockwork men. Man-made machines, with clockwork gears and steam-powered joints, serve man even as the followers of the old ways continue to nurse growing resentment of these new creations.

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

Each issue of The Gilded Age is a complete story (“Done in One”) focusing on different members of the Branning Troupe. This allows for a wide variety of stories to be told: heists, western, horror, and fantasy.

And there is also now a Facebook site for all things Gilded Age:

www.facebook.com/TheGildedAgeComic

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

Kickstart the Comic – Angelica Reigns #1

Sometimes it is about the story, sometimes it is about the art, sometimes it is about the promotion, and sometimes it is about the whole package. The Angelica Reigns has a little bit of each… a comic I can enjoy and a Kickstarter campaign I can take notes from… sign me up!

***

Angelica Reigns #1

From SFC

Brian Hawkins – Writer

Federico Sabbatini – Artist

Chiara Miriade – Colorist

Brant Fowler – Letters

Kickstarter campaign ends on Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 1:05 PM EDT.

 

 

The Pitch:

Angelica Reigns is the first solo series of the SFC Comics line. SFC is a world of super powered sports entertainment. These solo series are a chance to get to know the characters outside of the ring.

The Story:

Angelica is trying to establish a life outside of the shadow of her mother’s cult and Qakare’s power. She’s a young woman in a new city making new connections. All of that is put on hold when she becomes prey to a secret society called, The Faith. They are a faceless, timeless, and secret organization with roots that go back to the crusades. Their mission is to bring purity back to this world. They have ways to track and monitor dark magic. 

John’s Thoughts:

This one has the feel of maybe a Buffy style of story for Angelica. A young girl, fighting against supernatural forces bigger than herself, and, from the looks of it, has a couple of friends to help her on her travels. Consider me intrigued by the overall idea.

In addition, the work Federico Sabbatini is doing on the various images they’ve shown on the Kickstarter page are very nice, almost as if someone took a series of animated cells from a tv show or movie and put them on the page.

From Angelica Reigns #1 – Art by Federico Sabbatini & Colors by Chiara Miriade

The Rewards:

A couple of things they are offering that are a little above and beyond what you normally might expect at such lower levels is a 30 minute Google Hangout with the writer of the series ($30 Level). I could see that being not only an interesting conversation to pick his brain for a bit, but maybe even gain some insight on further learning the craft of writing comics (if one was so inclined). At the $150 level in addition to print versions of the books, you get a 1 hour Google Hangout.

Many of the comic Kickstarters have the idea of “putting you in the comic”, but Angelica Reigns might be the first one to make you “a major character in Angelica Reigns 2-4” ($500 Level). I’m thinking that if you ever wanted to be the villain, but didn’t want to deal with all the jail time… this might be your chance!

From Angelica Reigns #1 – Art by Federico Sabbatini, Colors by Chiara Miriade & Letters by Brant Fowler

The Verdict:

Looking over the Facebook page, they’ve hit upon some interesting cross-promotion with a couple of other Kickstarters (The Untold and Knight), both of which are holding their own Kickstarter campaigns right now. I love the idea of Indy creators banding together to raise all boats as opposed to treating each other as competition. Let’s get those stories out there and told!

***

For more information on Angelica Reigns or the rest of SFC comics, check out their Facebook Page here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

 

Just Remember Me When

Sometimes these things take time. And by the time I mean way too long to actually have passed before a story leaves your head and hits the page. And sometimes you can ensure a speedier process by just outlining and sitting butt in chair. But sometimes the finish line is so close that it completely eludes you. There is nothing to do but wait patiently while it all comes together.

That’s what happened yesterday. A couple of years worth of thinking about possibly, maybe we can, no we can’t, what’s it missing, what does it need? When will it be finished?

Yesterday Courtney and I released our second Veronica Mars Amazon Kindle Worlds Novella! You can find it right here!

Because much like Pringle’s, you can’t just write one story in the Veronica Mars universe and be completely satisfied. There are too many possible characters to write about. When our first novella came out, I wrote about it here. In that, the character of Max was not only the easiest choice, but it felt like no one else would immediately use her for their own stores. This time around if you are writing during season 1 or most of season 2, you can’t avoid the character of Duncan Kane. He’s Veronica’s on again/off again boyfriend. Yet, at times you really don’t know what’s going on in his head very much. To both of us that presented an opportunity to maybe see what makes this character work or not.

No biggie, just hanging out with the Ghost of my dead sister.

His parents are controlling. His sister was murdered (and for a while, it looked like he might have been the culprit). He is best friends with the guy is now dating his ex (and rooming with the guy).The reason this one took longer was that the core story came so easily. Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).

There some complex stuff going on in there. Add to that the summer sessions between seasons make for decent fodder in the “I want to know what you did last summer” vibe.The reason this one took longer was that the core story came so easily. Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).

That said, the reason this one took longer was that the core story came so easily. Which seems counter to how this whole thing should work.Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).

“Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).”

Pretty straight forward, right?

What happened was we wrote 90% of it and then couldn’t quite figure out what the missing 10% was. Some of it was massaging what we had, but some were to add in new scenes, try some different kinds of story-telling in the B story with his therapist sessions.

What we have now is something we’re both very happy with. I’m interested to see how it does in comparison with the first one.

An excerpt from the novella:

You’d think she’d care a little bit more about what happened, but the woman is unbreakable. It is always about appearances with her. And right now, she can’t go to any of the dinner parties without the looks of pity from everyone she knows. She can’t spin it, so the next best thing is to remove herself from the equation until enough time has passed that it doesn’t matter anymore. Some new scandal will reveal itself and things will return to her version of normal.

She tries to make it all about me, but truthfully, it’s all about her.

Her image.

Her social class.

Her life.

I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes it’s better to sit there and remain silent. And then there are the other times. “Don’t you think the justice system might look poorly on Dad leaving the country given the obstruction charges?”

Her look is a mixture of astonishment that I‘d even bring up her husband’s temporary incarceration, and her defense mechanism immediately deflects. “Don’t worry about that. That’s why we pay our lawyers the immense fees.” Then, without missing a beat. “Now go pack. I want to leave early in the morning.”

“No.”

“No?”

“No.” I’m sure it won’t matter. She never listens. “I’m staying. I have classes. Finals.”

“Didn’t you hear me; you can do all of that over the computer.”

“No.”

“Duncan. This isn’t a request. You will-“

“I’m tired of being handled. That’s all you do anymore. I’m not sure if it’s because you feel guilty about how Lilly didn’t follow in your footsteps or what? Do you think if you control every little thing I do then nothing bad can ever happen again?”

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and 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.

 

The Good Place – A Review

A little show premiered last Fall, and I have to admit the only reason it initially showed up on my radar at all was because of Kristen Bell’s casting. Since my house is a decidedly Pro-Kristen Bell place, there was no debate – it was simply added to the DVR. Then we waited until it magically appeared one night and watched what unfolded.

For those that didn’t see it or can’t remember what it might have been about… I’ll help to fill you in. Mrs. Bell plays Eleanor. Eleanor is having one of those good news/bad news type of days.

The bad news is that she’s dead.

The good news is that she ended up in the Good Place (Heaven, Nirvana, Paradise, etc.).

So while things are a bit confusing, she comes to find out that The Good Place is a place where not only is everything you might have ever wanted right at your fingertips (seriously, check out the flavors of yogurt they have access to!), but you also get paired off with your legitimate soulmate.

However, the twist is that a mistake has been made – Eleanor is not the Eleanor they think she is. No, somewhere in the universal mainframe she got swapped into the spot. So now she has to figure out how to keep up the ruse that she actually is a good person so she can stay.

Because if they find out… the Bad Place awaits (and no one wants to go there).

Luckily for her, her soulmate, Chidi, is an ethics professor. Which means that he is her voice of reason when so many times she just wants to dwell in those less than admirable qualities.

Sadly for Eleanor, being good is a lot of work (and lots of reading homework).

Ted Danson plays Michael, the “architect” of the little community they’re set up in. He is great as the part angel, part community organizer, and part naive grandpa, stumbling along to help foster those people who need it the most. Yet, this is his first opportunity to create a community and for some reason things are going sideways. Sinkholes open and trash falls from the sky for seemingly no reason. We all know this is because of Eleanor’s presence. She’s “ruining” a good thing.

Somewhat simple enough premise which allows for a myriad of little stories to be told about the trials and tribulations of fighting against your own nature. I say simple, but that’s not entirely fair. With such concepts as Heaven and Hell being tossed around, the show does an excellent job with its core tenet:

Can a person really change who they are? Fundamentally do people ever change in any lasting way? And if you change for selfish reasons, do your acts mean anything in the grand scheme of things or not?

Somewhat strange for a TV show to even pose such thoughts. Most of the time shows survive based solely on their illusion of change when no real change for the characters ever really stick. Heck, something like Seinfeld was exactly that in a nutshell. Those were people who were as despicable in the last episode as they were in the first episode.

Superhero comics have this same problem. How do you write about a character for over 50, 60, 70, or even 80 years without them changing in some ways? And if you do have any big changes – will your audience accept them?

The Good Place obviously builds its central conflict around this, and as we learn more about Eleanor, the less likable her life really was. Selfish, mean-spirited, focused on herself to the detriment of anyone else. The viewer is put in a position where we want her to succeed, but in that success we are going to find ourselves without a TV program to enjoy down the line.

It’s a fun show and does well with the ideas presented on a weekly basis, ending on cliffhangers which makes it feel more like a drama than comedy. And had it not been for the big twist at the end, it would have been a show Courtney and I would have continued to watch probably without mentioning it to other people.

The end of the season changed that.

SPOILERS TO FOLLOW

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Seriously, if you are going to watch the show… don’t read anymore. If you need a little more convincing, however…:

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THE GOOD PLACE — “Everything Is Fine” Episode 101– Pictured: Kristen Bell as Eleanor — (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

As things begin to spin more and more out of control, Eleanor reveals that she is not supposed to be there to Michael. And when it is decided that a pair of our main characters will be forced to go to the Bad Place in order for Order to prevail… an argument ensues. It is then Eleanor has an epiphany:

They aren’t in the Good Place… they are in The Bad Place.

Mind… Blown.

Like I said above, the ending changed the whole show for me. It shook up everything we knew. And it made it so that the second season will be very different. If they were never in the Good Place… will there be any reason to truly be good?

I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to the answer.

***

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.

20 Things I’ve Learned at Concerts

Thinking I’m 25 again last week, my wife and I went to see concerts on back to back nights. A Perfect Circle and Soundgarden. Very different vibes at both shows (obviously), but I realized that over the years no matter what band it was I saw there were a number of “truths” I’ve experienced again and again.

1 – The “I Pre-Gamed Way Too Hard” Category

You should do what inspires you by singing (shouting along), swaying in place, jumping in the pit, or even dancing like no one is looking. It’s one thing to “Feel the Flow”, and it’s another to “flow” right into your neighbors. Especially if they are not currently anywhere near a pit… and you’re just drunk or high or both.

 

2 – The Hazards Of Having Seats On The End Of The Row

Look, I get it. This is your first night out in forever. The kids are up your ass all the time, the boss is up your ass the rest of the time, and you just need a night out. So you and a couple of friends head to the show, grab a beer and settle in for-

Excuse me.

Right, gotta get a refill. I understand. Especially since you’re getting one for your buddies as well-

What’s that? You’re only getting one for you? And as soon as you get back and I’m back engrossed in this song, your buddy is going to tap me and try to get by.

OK… but that guy is going to come back with a beer for your other friend right? No? Just one for him? And you’re saying he’ll interrupt my favorite song, clearly seeing that I’m REALLY belting out the song, thus completely pulling me out of the moment?

Yeah, no worries.

Dick.

 

3 – The Guys Who Think They Are Literally Anywhere Else Other Than The Concert

You know who I’m talking about. These assholes are standing 5 feet away from you carrying on the deepest, truest conversation anyone has ever had before. They are totally engrossed in just being there for each other, no matter what is going on with the band.

Good of you to spend $70 each to do something you could have done at Waffle House.

 

4 – Everything Happening On My Phone Right Now Is Way More Interesting Than Live Music

Obviously this has only been an issue since the turn of the century or so. I mean, how in the world did old Grandpa ever get by without checking their Twitter/Facebook/Whatever feeds?

Again, Great use of your money. Next time you give me half, and we’ll go outside, and I’ll kick you in the balls, and we’ll call it a day.

OK?

5 – Oh, You Didn’t Know? I Am A Famous Director

You know what is awesome? When you see a show and then later own it. It allows you to truly relive the experience and listen to it over and over again.

You know what is NOT awesome? When you have your phone up in a way that I can’t see the show in front of me. All because you have to have a really poor quality video of the whole concert apparently.

 

6 -I Like To Swim, Into The Mosh

No matter what the band, if the music is heavy enough, and there is room to be had – it is very probable a Pit will be formed. With the appearance of that natural phenomenon comes another absolute:

There will always be some asshole who thinks the Mosh Pit is a way to try and hurt someone.

You know the guy. He’s the one who made sure to go out and buy steel toed boots “just because” and now he’s trying to destroy your kneecap.

The worst part is he probably isn’t even a fan of the band at all.

 

7 – Wait… Wait… Wait… What’s Happening!?!

No matter how far away you position yourself from where you THINK the Pit is going to form, you will be completely wrong. It is an unpredictable beast set to engulf you in its wake.

You have been warned.

 

8 – Sometimes Being Tall Sucks, This Is One Of Those Times

If you are tall you will be asked to help everyone up to start crowd surfing. Work out in the weeks leading up to the show otherwise you risk the chance of looking like a complete dick when the person can’t get two feet off the ground.

 

9 – Always Looking For An Opportunity

That said, if you are a woman and want to crowd surf then ask away. I don’t know of anyone who has refused to help a female “up”. However, you must steel yourself against the hundreds of sweaty hands which will grab you all over.

And I mean ALL OVER.

10 – Whelp, That’s It. Go On And Save Yourself!

When someone goes down in the Pit you’d think that’s the end for you. There are dozens of feet prepared to curb stomp you into oblivion, but that generally doesn’t happen. There is always 5+ people will immediately move to help you up.

Except for the asshole looking to hurt you – stay away from that guy.

 

11 – I Wish They’d Played Only Songs No One Knew

You know the person. They want to make sure you know the third song in the set was actually a B-side from their original pressing of the second album only available in Germany.

But you know a girl, so you’ve had it forever.

 

12 – Why Won’t They Just Let Us In? That’s The Rule! They Go, Then I Go, Then…

No matter how state of the art the venue is – getting out of the parking lot is still going to suck.

 

13 – Hey, I Know That You Didn’t Buy A Shirt Inside

Not saying you should give money to the bootleg t-shirt vendors… you want to support the band you came to see.

But I will say my Metallica shirt from 1994 might have been the best $10 I’ve ever spent.

 

14 – Philosophy According To The Band

Weed is the reason for sperm… according to Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle, Pusifer).

Make of that what you will.

15 – Your Tiger Style Is No Match For My Miller Style!

There is clearly a martial art style waiting to get invented. It would be based strictly on being able to navigate a concert without spilling your beer. I mean, I’m not a drinker, and it’s damn impressive.

 

16 – My Pyrotechnics Never Burned Anyone!

Strobe lights are annoying most of the time.

Seriously. Less is more in their usage.

 

17 – Yes, That Is My Tent Set Up Over There. No, I Don’t Have Anything Better To Do.

Hey, look at you. You stood in line for hours beforehand all in the hopes of getting right up front when the doors open. And you did it!

Your punishment for standing right at the barrier is being crushed by the mass of people behind you.

Hope it was worth it!

18 – Dance Puppets! Dance!

I get it. You have played for the last hour or possibly hour and a half. You are parched. The drummer is about to pass out from exhaustion. The guitarist is destroying his fingers with every note he plays. The bassist has vibrated his body so he is in an alternate reality.

You clearly need a couple of minutes to compose yourself before you finish melting my face off with this concert.

Just don’t make us beg. Don’t make us clap like well trained seals for you to come back out. We want you to play more songs, otherwise we wouldn’t still be here.

Encores are weird.

 

19 – I Will Not Be Trapped With The Rest of You!

Who the hell are the people leaving the show early? Who are they? Why did they spend the money? Why did they come at all? What is going on anywhere else that should make you think:

Yeah, this was a pretty good show. But you know what would make it even better? Leaving before the band does!

I just don’t get it.

 

20 – Without Fail

There is always going to be some asshole who shouts out “Play some Skynyrd!” If you’re lucky, the band will oblige him for a few seconds.

But only for a few seconds.

 

***

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.

A Tale of Two Concerts

So there are two big concert experiences (with regards to song choices):

One is play only your hits. Maybe you sprinkle in some of the old stuff, the deep tracks, but you’re playing the big songs and the newest songs from your latest album in order to support it.

The other option is when maybe this is a tour where you don’t have a new album to support. Maybe you don’t have to be beholden to a strict set list. Or perhaps you are working on a new album, but nowhere near close enough on most of the songs.

This is a case where the catalog really opens up and you can truly reach back and plat those songs older fans haven’t heard in a long time and newer fans have never heard in concert.

Last week I got a taste of both…

An aside – With Pearl Jam being my favorite band, the idea of a unique set list is not strange. In fact, with their shows I’m normally the asshole who wants to hear some random track 10 from one of the lesser known albums. I want the deep cuts more prominently than the more casual fan is not going to have heard or understand.

Night One: A Perfect Circle

This is a band situated firmly in my top 5 bands, but it’s been 13 years since I’ve been to see A Perfect Circle. Life, tour dates, and them not really existing for a good portion of a decade were all contributing factors. That time they were indoors, with people hanging from the ceiling, and other oddities that are somewhat commonplace when you’re dealing with a Maynard related band.

This time around they were at the Verizon Amphitheater in Alpharetta, Georgia, where after having been to only two shows, is fast becoming a household favorite. Great sound, relatively easy to get into the venue (getting out is a little more sketchy, but so is just about every other venue I’ve ever been to), and there is just something about an outdoor show as the sun goes down.

We arrived in time to hear one song from the opening band… which I didn’t catch the name of. I normally don’t mind trying to get in a little early just to catch those bands. So many shows over the years have introduced me to some solid music.

Our seats were about 7 rows behind the general admission orchestra area (which was probably about 10 rows deep if full). Around us were a handful of empty seats… probably another symptom of not putting out music in so long. Strangely, we were told repetitively that the band did not want any pictures taken. In 2004, that might have been something you could control with cameras not installed in every phone (maybe? I honestly can’t remember), but in 2017 you can’t really put that genie back in the bottle. Still, ushers did stop a few people, and I’ve read about others being asked to leave.

We’re rule followers, so no worries there.

The show itself was amazing. APC is one of those bands where I don’t have tracks I skip. As to their set list, I use my wife as the go-by, and she commented after the show she was surprised by how many songs she recognized. Overall, they played their hits, a couple of covers (John Lennon’s Imagine making an appearance – an always welcomed addition), and even sprinkled in a pair of new songs.

The only odd thing about the new songs was the placement of one of them to close out the show. Normally I’d think you’d want something to bring down the house – a song everyone knows and has been waiting for. Instead, we get a song that maybe a handful know and the rest just get to experience. Just an odd choice.

Though, I do think once I get to hear it enough, I have no doubt it will be a quality track to use in that capacity. It certainly had that feel.

Night Two: Soundgarden

Lollapalooza 1996 is the last time I’ve seen Soundgarden. Again, helped by the dissolution of the band for over a decade, I missed the tour they did with King Animal back in 2012/2013. And I might have missed this one had it not been for the venue.

The Fox Theater brings an assortment of memories for me beginning with seeing Top Gun there with my parents and being astounded by the audience interaction with the film. Catcalls during any of the numerous guys with their shirts off scenes, cheers whenever Tom Cruise did anything great, and more clapping when the movie ended. The Theater is topped off by seeing Pearl Jam back in 1994, which I’ve talked about here.

Yet, I’ve only seen one other band at The Fox and it happens to be Soundgarden over 20 years ago. Now here was a chance to see them again in the same venue… a no brainer.

We actually arrived early enough to see The Pretty Reckless open. Given XM Radio and the Octane channel, I recognized a couple of songs. Courtney mentioned actually wanting to download some of their stuff. I’ll be interested to see how the album fills out past the release songs.

As to Soundgarden, you couldn’t ask for a more different pair of shows. Where APC’s light effects were more colors and mood based, Soundgarden is a rock band with their influences spanning from arena rock bands to DIY punk rockers – so the lights were an assault at various times throughout the show. But the biggest difference was the song choice.

Apparently, their 1st full album was rereleased in the last couple of months. It makes for a perfect excuse to dust off those old school songs. And I gotta think if you are a fan from waaaay back in the day, your song bucket list managed to get a lot shorter as they opened with 3 straight songs from that era. Which is great… except I don’t own that record. I start with Badmotorfinger and continue from there.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the hell out of the show. They pretty much hit upon everything I’d have expected them to play, but it was a little unexpected.

Though there is nothing like hearing Fell on Black Days live. It’s my favorite song of theirs no matter what form it takes.

***

Two bands. Over 4 hours of live music. Great venues.

Extremely tired come Thursday morning.

Worth it.

***

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.

Kickstart the Comic – The Few and Cursed #3

I love Westerns, but I’m not always sure comics love them. Much like Hollywood where their heyday was long before I was born, now it is a trickle here or there. Again, it’s lucky that Kickstarter exists to allow some of these genres a little opportunity to shine.

Of course, this one might be more of a post-apocalyptic western…

***

The Few and Cursed #3

From 321: Fast Comics

Felipe Cagno – Writer

Fabiano Neves – Artist

Dinei Ribeiro – Colorist

Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, May 19, 2017 at 11:59 PM EDT.

 

The Pitch:

She has no name, no home, and no family, just a title: Curse Chaser. Water on the planet has been gone for seventy years and mankind has been reduced to a handful few perpetually living in hell.

And no hell is complete without its demons.

People will do anything to survive. When their lives, their children’s lives, when their world has no chance, that old and forgotten evil curse seems pretty reasonable, it’s just that much easier to strike a bargain with the Devil.

But not under her watch.

The Story:

The Few and Cursed is a post-apocalyptic western set in an alternate 1910 where monsters and the supernatural roam the wasteland that is now Earth. Going from town to town, crossing the oceans in horseback, the Redhead is the only variable possible of balancing the scale.

John’s Thoughts:

First, I have to be honest, the title grabbed me. Without knowing anything else, it caught my eye and made me click on the Kickstarter. From there, the setting and genre drew me in, and then the artwork finished the deal. On top of all of that I feel somewhat fortunate to have them already on issue 3 – it means that I’ll immediately have 2 issues to read once the campaign is over! And again, I have to note that it is amazing when you have the opportunity to do just that. Where missing that initial issue (or 2 in this case) isn’t the end for a potential reader.

One other thing about having those other two issues fund through Kickstarter… the 321: Fast Comics guys clearly know what they are doing. The first and second issues originally funded for about $16,000+ each. This one already reached their initial $6000 goal in the first 48 hours and looks like it will outpace those earlier campaigns.

What that really tells me is they not only provide a great product people have come back for each time.

Artwork by Fabiano Neves From The Cursed and Few #1

The Rewards:

Since you might have missed out on the first couple of issues, there is an assortment of both digital only and print + digital rewards to completely catch you up on the comic. As you move up the ladder, there is the opportunity to grab their anthology 321: Fast Comics Vol 1 & 2, a sketch book featuring Fabiano Neves’ art, or even a chase to get some of the variant prints they’ve done for all the issues.

For those with a little more money in their pocket, the $150 level offers an opportunity to get some original Redhead artwork.

The Verdict:

Given their track record with this series (and a couple of other ones as well), plus the interesting idea, and gorgeous artwork… this one is a no-brainer. And if you were on the fence at all, they provide you with an assortment of preview pages from issues #1 and #2 to help sway you completely.

I already locked in to get my digital copies of the first 3 issues!

Artwork by Fabiano Neves From The Cursed and Few #2

***

For more information on The Few and Cursed or the rest of 321: Fast Comics, check out their Facebook Page 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. 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.

Behind the Artist – Interview with Antonio Brandao

What’s exciting about doing comics is that you are going to get to work with multiple artists as time goes on. With each, they bring their own experiences and talents to a project in ways you couldn’t begin to predict beforehand. If your lucky they not only design and bring your words to life, but sometimes offer you a view on a character you didn’t even know was there.

I’m thankful to have worked with Antonio Brandao on Gilded Age issue #3.

***

How long have you been creating art/working in comics?

I’ve been working full time in comics since 2008.

At what point did you sit down and decide to become an artist?

At some point I was working in graphic design and started doing some work in comics. The comic work started to increase to the point where it was impossible to keep both doing both, so I decided to chose my life time dream to become a comic book artist.

Have you had any formal training?

I had a few classes related to art in my graphic design course. Other than that no formal training.

Gilded Age Issue 3, Page 1 – Pencils/Inks by Antonio Brandao, Colors By Nimesh Morarji

What’s the first thing you drew?

My first professional work was a penciled 2 issue mini to an independent publisher.

What things inspire you to create art?

I always loved to draw so it comes naturally. I guess everything inspires me.

Favorite artists/creators? Influences?

My favorite artists… let’s see… there’s a lot! From the “classics” John Buscema and Byrne to Mignola, Oliver Coipel, Stuart Immonen,… too many to reference here.

How do you manage your daily life with the art? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2? If you have the old day job, what do you do? Do you do anything to market/promote yourself?

It depends. Sometimes I have some small side projects, and I have to limit my time working in comics but usually it’s a 9 to 5 thing. Unfortunately I don’t promote myself that much. Only the occasional sketch in my FB page.

What’s your process? Digital vs. by hand? What do you prefer?

Traditional all the way. Blue pencil, pencil, ink.

How do you work? Music while you draw? TV shows? Movies? No distractions?

I put some Youtube documentaries running. I guess I learn some stuff while drawing.

What have you worked on previously?

A lot of independent projects for some small publishers. Some private submissions for some publishers. A bit of everything honestly.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your art? Regarding comics, are there things that draw you in, something you see or read where you must put your own spin on the story/character?

I like to believe that I’m a versatile artist, and I tend to avoid repeating elements in my work. It might happen though…possibly unconsciously.

I always like to give my own spin to a character. Make it mine, without ignoring previous versions if they exist, of course. I especially like visually interesting characters. Something to make me push my limits.

Gilded Age Issue 3, Page 5 – Pencils/Inks by Antonio Brandao, Colors By Nimesh Morarji

Do you have a favorite thing to draw (genre, scenery, etc)? Least favorite?

I love to draw fantasy stuff, maybe because I’ve read a lot of Conan’s stories from John Buscema when I was young. My least favorite is the “slice of life” kind of stories.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world?

I’d say that the most challenging thing is to make your work appealing enough, sometimes in very limited time, to attract new projects and keep your head above water financially. It’s a worldwide market, and your art must stand out. Managing several different projects at the same time is also very challenging.

Developing a work ethic is hard.

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

Draw.

Now draw more!

Practice makes perfect.

Don’t waste so much time.

What is your worst habit?

I drink and sometimes smoke.

Comic book wise, I sometimes tend to procrastinate things.

Gilded Age Issue 3, Page 10 – Pencils/Inks by Antonio Brandao, Colors By Nimesh Morarji

Goals? One year from now? Five years from now?

I’d like to make the jump to some big publisher in the next couple of years. Have some financial stability.

For the Gilded Age, you did the third issue of the comic. Had you ever done any Steampunk styled things before?

Nope. And I haven’t since. I must say that I loved the experience.

I think it’s because of your art that I now have to come up with a story for Vanessa (the Wolf-Girl). She comes across as so playful, I’m not sure if I knew that about her 100% before I saw her appear on the page. Did you have anything that surprised you once you finished a page?

Thanks!

I think that some characters get a life of their own in my head sometimes. It happens unconsciously… probably some hint I pick up when I read the script. Sometimes this gets reflected in the pages I draw. I only notice it when I review my work, and I see the character’s growth from the first pages to the last.

What are you currently working on?

I’m doing a 10 pages’ sci-fi story. A story for kids with super heroes and another sci-fi story for a Kickstarter.

Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show?)?

I love cinema! I think it relates a lot to comics. I also like going out with my friends and I’m an avid keeper of reptiles. Geckos to be specific.

Do you have a Bio that I can post at the bottom of the article? Best place to see your stuff on the web ( website)?

Well, I’m an artist/father, 39 years old. I was born and live in Lisbon, Portugal and I’ve been working in comics for almost a decade now. I grew up reading Marvel comics trying to imitate my favorite artist so I guess that my dream was to work in comics since I was a child.
I’ve been fortunate enough to do that for these last few years.
You can check my work at http://toze-barnabe.deviantart.com/

***

I want to thank Antonio for taking the time to answer all my questions. I’m always humbled by the skills artists provide my words to create something more than any of us could do alone.

***

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.

Behind the Comic – Terminus Team Up #2

 

Terminus Team-up #2

Writer – John McGuire

Pencils – Shamus Beyale

Inks – Rich Perrotta

Colors – Ann Siri

Letters – Khari J. Sampson

Editors – Tony Cade & Robert Jeffrey II

***

And as I wrote in the intro, I cheated a little with this comic. You see, the point of the Team Up books are to present the character Amber Fox interacting with various other Terminus Media comic books. Issue #1, written by our own Robert Jeffrey II, had her interact with Terra Force.

(And by interact I mean try to steal something from them and pretty much have the whole team hunting her down.)

Issue 2 it was suggested that Amber Fox come to the Gilded Age.

Pencils – Shamus Beyale, Inks – Rich Perrotta, Colors – Ann Siri

I wasn’t exactly behind that idea. Not that I’m against the idea of having other characters pop up in my comics, but more that I wasn’t even sure where to begin with such an idea. At its core, The Gilded Age is a steampunk comic book where the technology level is late 19th Century for the most part. Amber Fox is from a future where she can effectively teleport, she has laser knives as her primary weapon, nanites travelling through her body… how in the world can I possibly make something like that work and not just feel…

Out of place.

This was an opportunity. Not only to tell another story, get another Gilded Age “thing” out there, but to find a way to do it that I was happy with. And like so many times when I’m not sure what to do about a writing related problem – I focus on something else. Allow my mind to work on the problem “behind the scenes” for a bit.

I don’t know where the solution came from, but I hit upon the solution for my problem. It would focus on the Time Traveling aspect of Amber Fox, but from more of a HG Wells inspired way. Looking at the cover above, you can get a good idea of what I might be talking about.

More than that, this needed to have something else. A reason for the story to exist beyond “hey wouldn’t it be cool if”.

From Amazon:

Terminus Team Up shows us the continuing adventures of Amber Fox, a woman who is tasked with recovering all manner of strange and powerful objects across space and time. And while she appears in this issue…

This story is not necessarily about her.

Nor is it about Lucas Knight, the inventor/scientist from The Gilded Age.

This comic is about beginnings and endings…

Think about Time Travel for a moment. What would you want to see?  A question pondered by fiction writers and scientists. And if you were a scientist looking at the end of the century? Could be that endings might be on your mind. And here is this woman with the ability to show you things you didn’t even know you wanted to see.

Things started falling into place. There was just one last piece: Shamus Beyale, the artist for the book. Since he came on the book as I was still working on the rough draft I thought it might be a good idea to see what things he might like to draw. I gotta think the worst thing for an artist is to hate drawing something like horses, and then reading the script where every panel apparently has a horse in it.

And bless Shamus, he came up with the last piece of the story. He mentioned how there was a “sense of death in the story” and he’d “like to see right before the end of things/eras”. End of the dinosaurs, Pompeii, the end of the neanderthals… all of this was just golden stuff and was tying the book together in a way hadn’t expected.

But he had one more… something that had a personal connection to him. From one of our emails about the project:

“The next thing would be something related to my culture. I’m Navajo and our people went through a genocide of sorts called the Long Walk. Although our culture didn’t end with it, we barely survived.”

Page 19 – One of the Long Walk Pages

It’s something I wasn’t even aware of, but once I read a little about it, I knew we needed it in the comic.

***

More than anything, Team-up 2 served to remind me of the truth about comic books: That nothing is done in a bubble. You have collaborators, reach out to them and see what can get them jazzed about doing a story your constructing. Hopefully, it makes them feel as much ownership of the project as the original creator has. In the end, you will have a stronger final product.

And something you can all feel proud of being a part 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. 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.

Behind the Artist – Interview with Sean Hill, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with artist Sean Hill. The first part can be found here.

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How do you work? Music while you draw? TV shows? Movies? No distractions?

I tend to listen to an enormous amount of YouTube videos while drawing, Or maybe an audiobook. I remember getting through The Song of Ice and Fire series that way. It’s something about sitting down and doing a numbing activity for hours on end while having information spoken in your ear nonstop that just kinda soothes me and helps me focus.

Art by Sean Hill

Do you have a favorite thing to draw (genre, scenery, etc)? Least favorite?

My absolute favorite thing to draw is samurai stuff, a close second is anything urban punk. It’s just a lot to work with for someone like me that gets wrapped up in details and the last thing would be DC or Marvel comics heroes. And I love figure drawing, there are so many different nuances to capture in so many angles that I can really get lost in in and never come out of it.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world?

There are many, but for me personally it’s perception of the comics industry. When I was growing up I the 90’s we had Image comics and it changed everything. It made comic artists look like rock stars. The industry was making money hand over fist and young impressionable artists like me didn’t understand that this was an exception. That most comic artists don’t make it like this, and that even the most successful artists are spending most days and nights slaving over a drawing table. I don’t think I understood the amount of work that goes into this, and how much those artists that came before me or before Image had sacrificed to make a living at this. When I was young I wanted to work for DC or Marvel and I still do, but I don’t think back then I appreciated the difference between drawing characters for the big two and doing something for myself. Now I weigh those things out everyday. 

Art by Sean Hill

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

1st some girl advice then I would him to start focusing on that comics dream now. Honestly at the time I had no idea what to do with art until I was 27 years old. When I started dating my wife I wasn’t doing anything and at the time I had no drive too.

Also I would tell myself to work hard, it’s better than anything. Always be the hardest worker in the room. In life you will always see people smarter, more talented, more connected but consistent hard work beats all.

What is your worst habit?

That’s also a long list but to narrow it down for comics stuff it’s video games. My wife recently got me a PS4 for my birthday and it’s crazy distracting 

Goals? One year from now?

In one year I want to be almost finished with the first chapter of a personal project I’m working on called Nazareth. I don’t want to giveaway too much of what it is but it’s basically a retelling of Christ story with a heavy Sci fi/ fantasy aspect and drawing from the historical social and political issues of the time.

Five years from now? 

In five years I would like to have it published and still working freelance for publishers as well

You did the art for the Gilded Age Issue 4 which is a story that mixes a bit more fantasy with the Steampunk aspect of things (With Charlie taking on a supporting role). How was it to contrast those two things within the framework of your art? 

I really like steampunk though I’ve never drawn it much before. As I was doing my research for the style I was really inspired by the design and attention to detail. As far as mixing the style with fantasy, it’s actually quite freeing in a way. Whenever you develop a style that becomes a genre (because people start telling stories in that particular style) it can become a paradigm. But I think fantasy has a more organic design sense (or at least my interpretation of it does) allowing me to kind of start from a definite place with the art and storytelling but then know I can meddle with it quite a bit and not be afraid of making mistakes.  

Art by Sean Hill – From Gilded Age 4

I know I was blown away by the pages you were turning in, with the last couple being absolutely heartbreaking… did you have any pages that you really had fun drawing or perhaps any characters?

I think I really liked drawing Charlie, he’s such a huge character with this still and settled peace and strength in him. He has such an integrity that can eclipse everything else going on almost like his big bulky frame eclipsing everyone and everything else in a room. 

What are you currently working on?

As for current projects. I’m currently helping out with the Evil Heroes book for Zenescope and doing some Indy work with Jaycen Wise creator Ureaus. Also doing something with artist Mshindo Kuumba, and still chipping away at Nazareth.

Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show?)? 

Hobbies are pretty simple for me, I love weight lifting and video games, I’m already working on my passions with drawing comics, I teach the Bible to middle school students at my church and  Game of Thrones is still one of my favorite shows to watch

Do you have a Bio that I can post at the bottom of the article? Best place to see your stuff on the web (website, Instgram, Deviant Art)?

Yes indeed most of my work can be seen:

http://nazirstudios.blogspot.com/?m=1

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

https://www.instagram.com/seandamienhill/

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I want to thank Sean for taking the time to answer all my questions. His artwork and skill have made The Gilded Age all the better for them.

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John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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