Last Day for Echo Effect at $0.99!

The Echo Effect is only $0.99 for one more day.

A quick reminder that the price of The Echo Effect will go up to $2.99 after midnight.

And for those who may be on the fence…

In the world before, Aaron Anders had a different life with a different family…

Until the White Light washed them away.

A select few know the truth about our world: every time the calendar approached the year 2025, the world resets and creates a new Earth, with a new history for each of us. The Awakened remember their previous lives, and throughout history, many of them have done their best to ensure that the world proceeds on a particular path.

The lucky few.

Aaron didn’t feel lucky. Trapped in this loop, forced to live again and again in half-remembered lives, his current reality was spiraling out of control. His wife and his best friend thought he was losing his mind, and the worst part was they might be right. Another existence filled his head, mixing false memories with his real ones until he wasn’t sure of the truth.

And the only one who seemed to know anything was a stranger convinced “They” were after both of them.

Want to read a little more? Here’s a preview.

 

Interview with Wishful Thinking’s Jack Raines

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

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

At what point did you sit down and think “I want to be a comic writer?”?
When I was a senior in high school I finally got my license. It was during the same year I learned my small southern town had a comic shop! I hadn’t read a comic in years, at the time I was more interested in manga just cause it was more available online at the time. So when I stepped into my LCS for the first time I was greeted with a wealth of cape comics (superhero comics are my FAVORITE), most notably Mark Waid’s Daredevil, Scott Snyders Batman, and Matt Fractions Hawkeye. Their ability to weave imagery with narrative made it hard to put those books down. When I learned Scott Snyder would be in Charolette for HeroesCon I just had to go.
There I met so many creators both professional and independent that were more welcoming than I could believe. Everyone was so down to Earth and there to showcase/talk about what they loved. It was then I learned that anyone could be in this business, and that’s when I started practicing turning my story ideas into comic form.
I’m a big fan of all those comics, too! And Mark Waid’s run on The Flash is by far and away my favorite run on the character. Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite writer/artist or creator?
Scott Snyder has been both my favorite creator and biggest inspiration. Everything connects in these wild stories he puts out in such a complete way, all while being a total class act with his readers!
How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?
It’s hard, especially now that I’ve started working 3rd shift and going to school. My biggest key to success is writing down a list of things to do each day. I try to go for 4 things max, and plan my week accordingly. I have a white board next to my desk for this purpose. If it’s been written down I get a sense of satisfaction from crossing it out, and it keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. Doubt I could do what I do without a calendar of some sorts!
I do much the same thing with my to do tasks, but sadly the thing that probably is the hardest to figure out is promotion. It’s often difficult to get word out about independent comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?
Social media is tough for me. I’m moreso a lurker than anything else so it’s been a challenge getting myself out there. So far my biggest success social media-wise has been on Instagram, but even then it’s hard to fight against the algorithm to get the word out there. My mailing list has been the best and my most favorite way to connect with readers. It feels more personal which allows me to write more about what these projects mean to me as well as what I’m up to.
What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?
Little of column A and a little of column B. Often my story can change depending on how the pages look. I like leaving character appearance to the artist’s discretion. I’ll write about their personality and demeanor, then it’ll be up to Trigo to handle the rest. When seeing how he frames each panel and designs these characters I find new avenues to take the story. So even if I am a few issues ahead I usually end up rewriting it by the time we get there.  The collaboration between my crew (Carlos, Ester, and Justin) makes writing fresh and exciting!

Wishful Thinking Issue 2, Page 1

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

Wishful Thinking Issue 2, Page 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

New Release: The Echo Effect

The Echo Effect is released today! And for this release week, it is only $0.99!

 

In the world before, Aaron Anders had a different life with a different family…

Until the White Light washed them away.

A select few know the truth about our world: every time the calendar approached the year 2025, the world resets and creates a new Earth, with a new history for each of us. The Awakened remember their previous lives, and throughout history, many of them have done their best to ensure that the world proceeds on a particular path.

The lucky few.

Aaron didn’t feel lucky. Trapped in this loop, forced to live again and again in half-remembered lives, his current reality was spiraling out of control. His wife and his best friend thought he was losing his mind, and the worst part was they might be right. Another existence filled his head, mixing false memories with his real ones until he wasn’t sure of the truth.

And the only one who seemed to know anything was a stranger convinced “They” were after both of them.

Want to read a little more? Here’s a preview.

 

 

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Parallels…

I was thinking about what I’m really doing when I’m writing a story. Obviously I’m putting pieces of a larger narrative together in what will hopefully be not only coherent, but also readable. But really I’m trying to do something else with the stories… I’m trying to answer a question for myself.

Why am I here?

What is my purpose?

What if I could change a decision I made long ago?

If I knew something terrible was going to happen, would I try to stop it… even if that meant putting myself through pain and heartache?

How much free will do we really have?

The big questions, the ones that philosophers have been asking in a much better fashion than I could ever try to do. They are trying to form an answer and so am I. My hope is that as I proceed I manage to gain those moments of discovery about the story but also about myself.

***

What if?

We all play this game in some way or another. We are caught in an endless thought experiment of what would happen if I had handled a situation differently. What if I had asked that person out? What if I’d gone to college in a different state? What if my parents never divorced? What if I never moved? Switched jobs? Fought for a relationship?

What type of person would I be if some of those things changed? Are we determined by our environment or are we predestined to act a certain way? What about the persons whose lives were are impacting? How do their lives change without us in them?

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

***

I think from the very first time I watched Groundhog Day, I was fascinated by a movie where so many of my questions were trying to be answered by the film. Where by the end of the film, Bill Murray has changed how he perceives the world and his place within it. He’s made himself a better version of what he was.

When I watched something like Mr. Destiny (look it up), we get to see a parallel world where Jim Belousi hit the big home run and his life changed completely.

He changed completely.  And not for the better. He learns that his old life is just fine for him.

When I watch It’s a Wonderful Life, we live Jimmy Stewart’s pain and joy only to see his life spiral out of control because of his good heart. As much as anything, the world around him is less for his absence.

***

Do you ever wake up to go about your day and feel something is off? It’s never anything you can put your finger on – something is just different. Your house, your car, the world?

Yourself?

Have your friends ever commented about an event as if you were there (when you clearly were not)? And then get mad at you when you say as much? Even going so far as to recruit others to inform you that you had indeed been there, whether you remember it or not.

<And since I don’t drink, that can’t be my excuse.>

Placed your keys in one place only to find them in another place later that day?

What if everyone else was wrong? What if you had fallen, passed through the fabric between parallel worlds? Could that happen?

What is the difference between some level of madness and a truth that is more insane than fiction?

***

What happens if you could relive your life?

What happens when the people you love no longer know who you are?

Who are you when you have memories of so many other versions of yourself?

I’ll be releasing The Echo Effect on September 30, 2020. It’s my attempt to answer that question of What If. It’s my attempt to see if things are really better in a different life. It’s my attempt to try and understand my own effect on the people around me.

I’m hoping you’ll join me on the ride.

***

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Dark That Follows on Sale for $0.99

In celebration of my upcoming novel release, I thought it was probably past time for a sale on my very first novel: The Dark That Follows. So for a limited time (roughly a week), the price will be only $0.99 over at Amazon. If you’ve never read it before, now’s your chance. And if you have read it and liked it, maybe mention it to a friend so that they can get a copy while it is on sale.

***

A disgraced former cop who possesses the ability to see the future…
A college student whose life has become entangled in black magic…
A girlfriend who is no longer sure who to trust…
And a vision of the future, which shows only the darkness of the void…

With a touch, Jason Mills’ mind is flooded with images of what may come. Am I going to fall in love… am I going to be rich… am I going to get that promotion…

Until the reading that shows him absolute nothingness.

Drawn into a web of secret societies, Black Masses, and beings of immense power, Jason races to determine the truth behind his visions in order to save the future from being wiped out completely.

***

To purchase the ebook for $0.99 beginning at noon today (Sept. 16, 2020), just go to this link.

And thank you for checking out the book.

 

***

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Free Short Story – Piece By Piece

From the world of The Dark That Follows comes a short story featuring the main character, Jason Mills.

For those not familiar with The Dark That Follows, it’s the story of a Fortune Teller who can really see the future. He has a client come in and when he peers into what is going to happen to him, he finds nothing but darkness. Through the course of the book, he finds out there are larger forces at work trying to bring about the end of the world.

Piece by Piece focuses on something a little less “end of the world”. Jason is approached by a client who wants to find an inheritance left to him… he just isn’t sure where it is. It’s a use of the Future Sight power I’d not seen really before. If you’d like to check it out for free, you can find it on the Tessera Site here.

 

PIECE-BY-PIECE-COVER

 

***

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Where To Begin and Where To End

Over this past week, I was with family on our annual beach trip. It’s a great time for everyone to get together, see the nephews, and just enjoy each other’s company around the pool or beach or both. During the course of the trip, my dad and I talked about various things, everything from life to politics to religion to movies to comics and anything in-between. It was in those conversations that we came to talk about movies over the last few years that really resonated with us. He’s a big sci-fi guy and much of my love for the genre comes directly from him. One of the movies we talked about I thought was interesting from a writer’s point of view:

Passengers (2016)

If you missed it (spoilers to follow), it tells the story of Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) after he finds himself awakened from a hibernation sleep on board a colony ship about 90 years too soon. Much of the first part of the movie is about how he deals with being completely isolated (there’s no way to get back to sleep). After more than a year alone, he decides to wake someone else up, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). The movie proceeds as a love story (and according to wiki it is an “American science fiction romance”) where they fall in love… and yet we know eventually this big lie will drive them apart once Aurora finds out Jim woke her up (as opposed to the “malfunction” he leads her to believe).

When I watched it a couple of years ago, I enjoyed it, but it was also one of those movies that felt like it could use something else to help push it from a decent movie to a good or maybe even great movie. I remembered reading something in a blog or a post or something where the person reviewing the film posited one change:

What if we started with Aurora’s awakening instead?

You suddenly get a very different movie. One that might be a bit more on the thriller… or possibly even the horror side of things. You see, when you are with Jim from the beginning, he’s our POV. We understand his growing loneliness, so when he makes that decision to wake Aurora up, while we know it is wrong, we get it.

But if she’s our POV, now he’s this weird guy who may or may not be on the up and up. It lends a bit of creepiness to the movie.

Check out this Youtube video for more detail on this idea/theory.

Because as much as I would like to see that version of the movie, the idea alone really got me thinking about beginnings and stories. It’s potentially a very strange thing to rearrange a story and completely change it’s meaning… or is it? Techniques like Flashbacks or Flashforwards or limiting our POV to one character for a story are just some of the ways that an author can try and get the reader to feel a certain way. Maybe they want you to be sympathetic to a character, so they show you bits and pieces of their history so you are drawn to them. But just as easily they could eliminate those very things and suddenly we have 180 degrees of difference in our opinions.

Think about another Chris Pratt movie, Guardians of the Galaxy. The very beginning of that movie shows Peter Quill as a young boy with a mother who is dying of cancer. It shows us how important she is to him, true, but it also helps to ground us with the character. Because most of the early part of the movie, he is a fairly arrogant d-bag. Without that first scene, we might not like him as much because we wouldn’t know why he was the way he was (can’t let people in because they’ll die on you).

Context is key.

This makes me think about how I structure my own work too. In something like Hollow Empire, I began Vadim’s story with comedy. I wanted to convey that this is someone who didn’t want to take things seriously. He is very fly by the seat of his pants type of character. But I also knew that overall his story in Season One was not going to be a pleasant one and that the humor early on would hopefully help the reader sympathize with him as things get worse and worse.

And even in my upcoming book, The Echo Effect, I have an opening section of the story that accomplishes a couple of things for me. One, it sets up my main character, but it also sets up the world that he’s living in (and it also introduces a secondary character that is extremely important to the overall story). When those things change for him, it needs to be jarring for the reader because it is jarring for the character. And while I could have not included this first section and instead jumped to the “something’s gone wrong”, I think it is stronger for the reader to be able to see that indeed, “something is wrong”.

Hopefully, when people read it, they will feel the same way!

***

To read the first chapter of The Echo Effect, sign up for John’s Mailing list.

***

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Push

Sometimes we need that little something extra to get us through the hard times. For so many of us that’s what this year has been. It is both the slowest year I’ve ever been through and weirdly at other times it has gone by in a flash.

Now we’re into the back half, and almost to the back third. All those things each and every one of us said we were going to get done over the course of this year way back in January… we’ll, we’re running out of time. And in these last 4 months we can’t feel like we have to do every single thing on the list. That’s probably not the way to handle things. Aside from being impossible to fit in 12 months into 4, we have to allow for the craziness to be there still.

I’m going to release a book in a few weeks… one that the first draft was done almost 6 years ago. I have taken multiple passes on it. It’s the second solo thing I,be written and while I’m very happy to put it out into the world there is something that is strange about releasing anything.

there is a fear that no one will like it.

Hence the Push.

I was going to release this back in April… that was The plan. Then the world went nuts and now I have to have a new plan. And that’s good. I have to keep moving forward. And it is time for people to see this latest thing.

Sometimes we need to push and sometimes we get pushed… but we have to strive to improve and to move on with what is important to us.
At least, that’s what I believe.

 

So I get to be excited and scared and everything else. And maybe that won’t always be the case but for now it is.

In the coming weeks, I’ll have stories about writing the book, things I learned, and just general thoughts on everything. I’m looking forward to sharing all of that with you.

***

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Comics Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avengers

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

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

The Flash

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

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

The New Warriors

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

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

 

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

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

 

***

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Coming this September – The Echo Effect

In the world before, Aaron Anders had a different life with a different family…

Until the White Light washed them away.

A select few know the truth about our world: every time the calendar approaches the year 2025, the world resets and creates a new Earth, with a new history for each of us. The Awakened remember their previous lives, and throughout history, many of them have done their best to ensure that the world proceeds on a particular path. The lucky few.

Aaron didn’t feel lucky. Trapped in this loop, forced to live again and again in half-remembered lives, his current reality was spiraling out of control. His wife and his best friend thought he was losing his mind, and the worst part was they might be right. Another existence filled his head, missing false memories with his real ones until he wasn’t sure of the truth.

And the only one who seemed to know anything was a stranger convinced “They” were after both of them.

***

The Echo Effect is a science fiction novel about a man who must contend with his own changing memories to determine what life he will choose before he loses his grip on everything.

 

The Echo Effect

Coming soon…

To read the first chapter of The Echo Effect, sign up for John’s Mailing list.

 

 

***

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Horror… Songs?

Like most people (I think), I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. My feed will fill up with the most stupid, crazy, weird stories that will cause blood to stream from my eyes and ears. And yet, occasionally, there will be some random link to something that is beyond a bit of genius. Today that was Brazillian Graphic Designer Butcher Billy who took famous songs and turned them into horror book covers. Each of them got my creative juices flowing, so I thought I’d share a few and what I thought the book could be.

Artwork by Brazillian Graphic Designer Butcher Billy

Every Breath You Take – The Police

By now everyone knows that this song is not a love song, but instead was always a song about obsession. Of course, that didn’t stop people from having it as “their song”. So when I look at the cover, the way that he’s laid out the lyrics in the bottom left are very much a mantra of someone who has completely lost themselves in this other person. This novel is a study of a young woman who has become enamored with a man who she works with or perhaps lives in a nearby apartment. She’s constantly finding excuses to be at the same places he frequents, in a hope to just strike up a simple conversation with this guy. She knows that she’s right for him even as she watches a string of women come and go. If only he’d turn and “see you belong to me”.

Of course, the reason these other women are constantly leaving (disappearing) is that she’s making sure there is no chance for them to truly connect with anyone but her. She hides the bodies and eventually does get that one moment with him… and she’s not going to ever let him go.

Artwork by Brazillian Graphic Designer Butcher Billy

Lady In Red – Chris de Burgh

Speaking of “their song”, Lady in Red is my wife and my song. We danced to it a Homecoming and then again many years later at our wedding. Yet, this cover has me seeing the song differently now…

As a serial killer, Daniel has very specific tastes. He only deserves the best. He cannot end up with just any person, what sport would that be? No, it has to be someone very special that he analyzes and then slowly brings them to the point that they are almost chasing him. Only when he can do that does the deaths mean anything.

So, when he sees Sandra at the club, she “shined so bright” and for once he saw someone who could maybe be his true love. All the death had led him to her. The only question was whether he could control his base urges and truly become a new man for her.

Or did he have to?

Artwork by Brazillian Graphic Designer Butcher Billy

Everytime You Go Away – Paul Young

It’s not Jessica’s fault that she is different. Just like it wasn’t her fault that bus t-boned her car a year ago. The doctors said that it was a miracle she survived at all. Now she just wants to go back to her old life. Move on.

Yet, she gets these cravings every now and then. Hunger pangs that aren’t satisfied with anything she ends up eating. Fruit and vegetables now make her sick and at best raw meat only causes the pain to subside for a day or so. No, there’s something else now at work inside her. And now, “when the leading man appears” she finds that the urges are too much to take.

But she doesn’t have to kill him. She only needs to “take a piece of me with you”.

Artwork by Brazillian Graphic Designer Butcher Billy

Maneater – Hall and Oates

I feel like this could be the sequel to Everytime You Go Away. That same creature of the night, Jessica, has continued her nightly escapades, but now she’s managed to attract the wrong attention in the form of the FBI who have now dubbed her the “Maneater”. Now she has to stay one step ahead of them all the while feeding the beast within her, for if this is her under control, what happens if she truly loses control?

***

I wonder what other pop songs might make good horror books? I feel like Duran Duran’s Union of the Snake could be something. Tears for Fears Everyone Wants to Rule the World. INXS Devil Inside seems a no brainer.

Got any good ones?

 

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

The New Late Night TV… Youtube

I try to do the majority of my writing at night. I really, truly do. But sometimes the internet rabbit hole calls and off I descend into that level of madness.

I’ve mentioned on here that since the virus, some of my evening time feels like it needs to just be unwinding time. The kind of not worried about anything type of time. It’s that time of night to normally turn on the tv and watch reruns of The Office or Friends or Futurama or maybe a movie you’ve seen 100 times (Office Space, I’m looking at you). And while I certainly do that, for some reason, I’ve turned to Youtube videos to help me decompress.

Very Gary Comics

Gary is a comic book dealer. He posts videos about collections he’s found “in the wild” (as he calls them). He does unboxing videos where he shows us all the graded comics. Occasionally, he does posts where he sees if his wife can name comic book characters (she hits about 40%).

I’ve utterly fascinated by it.

I read comics. I’m not a collector in the sense of having my comics sealed up so that they can’t be reread. But there is something about the genuine joy he has for doing it that has me intrigued. Maybe it is because I don’t dwell on that side of the comic aisle, so everything is very new and fresh. Or maybe it’s just a new way of looking at the industry I’ve loved for so long. And while I may not be a collector in this sense, it has always been cool to find out one of the comics upstairs is worth $100 or $200 or whatever.

Had comic conventions actually been a thing this year, I have no doubt I would have bought my first graded book by this point.

Owen Likes Comics

This is like watching the History Channel for comic stories and creators. Owen takes a story-arc and in about fifteen or twenty minutes really breaks down some of the background behind it. Ever wonder about the time that Superman died… he’s got a video for that. Want to know about the Spider-Man Clone Saga… yep, got that covered.

Again, I think there is a passion there that he’s really bringing forth. Clearly he takes his time to cut these videos together, finding older interviews and clips to splice in. Sometimes, I know a bit of the story and he fills in that little extra. Other times, I’ve no idea what I’m about to get into.

Every time I’m interested.

Cracking the Cryptic

I keep meaning to tell my dad about this one.

I like playing Sudoku. It’s a nice way to do a quick(ish) puzzle game where I’m going to engage my brain and also see if I can figure this next one out.

These guys who solve these Sudoku… well this is next level. As my wife said,  “So regular Sudoku wasn’t enough?”

Apparently not.

What ends up happening is I watch a little bit, solve a little bit… get stuck, go back to them, they show me some technique and then I go try to solve the damn puzzle in about 3 times as long as they solved it.

I’m a nerd… whatever, it’s relaxing.

 

Tolarian Community College

It’s not what you think. I’m not learning Math or Science at this place. No…

It’s about Magic the Gathering.

The thing is, Magic is probably my favorite game of all time. I honestly wish I still was going to tournaments and playing… some of my best memories are with my friends, playing this game until 3 in the morning. I love the artwork. I love the strategy. I love finding the one play to win a game out of nowhere.

The Professor (the host) feels that love for the game. He talks about decks. He talks about formats. He talks about the new sets. He scolds Wizards of the Coast for bad decisions. And if you are a new player, he has tons of videos for you as well… to help get you into the game.

It is a true resource on the web.

***

There are some others that pop up on my feed here and there, but those are my current go to. What are yours?

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Kickstarters and Good Intentions

Art by Larry Elmore

At the beginning of last year, I was body-snatched and convinced that doing something for the Kickstarter Zine promotion was a good idea by Egg Embry (of this very site among many others). Actually, it was an opportunity to dip my toe into the Roleplaying world that I’ve often thought about over the years. In fact, if you go all the way back to high school, the very first thing I ever submitted to anything was to Dragon Magazine, which was THE Dungeons and Dragons magazine. I read it every month. Anytime my parents happened by a bookstore, I’d search for the latest issue and read and reread them until the covers fell off (literally in some cases).

For those who may not know, Dragon would contain articles about the game. Sometimes this came in the form of how-to-play certain situations that might make an appearance in the game. Other times it was additional weapons or spells that your character might be able to gain access to in your own campaign.

It was in that vein that I decided to make one of my senior independent study class’s goals to write and submit an article to Dragon Magazine.

Now, that class was the biggest blow-off class (I’ll need a whole other post to talk about the goings-on in that class over the course of a year) and a perfect thing for my senior year. But this was something I was passionate about. I spent time crafting my article, which focused on a series of magic spells inspired by one of my characters. Without getting too much in the weeds, I thought the spells had promise and offered a different way to play the game.

Sadly, I received a rejection piece as my response (which I still have upstairs somewhere). And while I wasn’t crushed or anything, I was disappointed. It certainly felt like the ability to get anything potentially published was beyond a longshot.

(Later, after a few years passed, I stumbled upon the file and realized immediately why it had been rejected. There just wasn’t enough meat.)

Which brings me to last year’s Kickstarter: Love’s Labour Liberated. It was a 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons focused Zine around the idea of Chivalry and Enchantment… Love would guide us.

They say that every campaign you run, you should look to learn from. They also say (whoever “they” might be) that it is easier to learn from your failures than your successes. When I ran the Gilded Age Kickstarter, I was definitely learning on the fly. But overall, I was happy with the way the campaign went. The bigger problems came in dealing with the printers and the end of the year holidays. With Liberated, there were a number of things I’ve learned:

Have a clear assignment of roles and duties in regard to the project.

With comics, I’m the writer. I know what it is I’m supposed to be doing. With the Zine, we had 3 writers and once the other 2 had called “dibs” on a couple of things, I was left wondering how best to contribute to the Zine. We all kinda had a “we’ll figure it out as we go along”, but I believe that only caused us to delay things needing to be done.

Have milestones set up for the project even as you are crafting the Kickstarter.

We had our big due date for sending the finished product out (about 5 months), but we didn’t sit down and break down exactly how long we might need for a particular task. This meant that there wasn’t much in the way of check-ins by any of us… which led to the approaching deadline and not nearly enough done on things.

Just because you have time, doesn’t mean you have all the time.

This ties into the above. I think we all thought that 5 months was more than enough time to get everything done. Heck, between the 3 of us, that will be extra time. Maybe we’ll get this thing done early. Yeah, about that.

Communication is key.

Not saying that anyone should look to be late in delivering their projects, but I think Egg has done a decent job of keeping the backers updated. We’ve had a couple of hiccups here and there, but generally the backers get an update every 2 weeks. Sadly, for a long while, most of the updates were “we’re working on it, but we’re behind”.

This is more a personal one, but I think I want to have the Thing completely done before doing my next Kickstarter. There is a stress level that builds the later things go, and I know that with Gilded Age, that part wasn’t as much a concern. The only thing I had left to do was the overall layout and get the book printed. For my next comic Kickstarter, I’m going to basically send to the printers as soon as the thing ends. No delays!

We’re in the process of finishing the Liberated Zine project up. Last week we sent out an artless draft – basically all the meat of the new “stuff”, but not prettied up. This past weekend I mocked up the Zine and would legitimately say we’re 95% done. And I’m very proud of the work we all put into it. I think it will be a good representation of our work.

It just took a bit longer than we would have liked.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost: The Biggest Fish: Smallville

Work is extra hectic this week. But I also have been thinking about old stories again and how nothing is ever wasted when you are a writer. Every little piece that you sit down and put on the screen (or in a notebook or on a scrap piece of paper) can potentially help you with the next story. It can help you develop your voice. Or in the case of the script below, be one of the first things that you actually finished that wasn’t a short story.

That’s a major milestone for a writer because there are so many reasons not to complete something. There’s life stuff which will interfere, but just as readily there is the Fear of putting your stuff out there in the world. Once you do that, others can now actually see what you’re doing. And while you may think that what you’re writing is alright, you just never know for sure.

I feel lucky that so many years ago I fell into a group that wanted to help each other. They created a space that allowed me to take the lead on something and see if I had it in me to finish it.

***

At some point, the following tale has become my own Big Fish story. Or perhaps it just has that sort of potential. I can only relay the events as they are currently in my mind… somewhat dulled by the time and distance from the original events. What you do with this information is completely up to you.

Garrison_Big_Fish

I cast my mind back to sometime in 2002 where I had joined up with a group of like-minded aspiring writers in the back of the Dragon’s Horde comic shop in Stone Mountain, Georgia. I like to think of this time as the beginning of Phase 1 of my writing career (Phase 2 came in 2010). The beginning of working with others on various projects, and the beginning of having someone read something I had put to paper (up to this point writing was this distant thing in the back of my mind, but I either lacked the willpower or the knowledge to even know where to begin).

Anyway, one of the group members (we called ourselves WriteClub… possibly not the most clever of names, but it got the point across) told us he had a connection through his sister that could walk a potential script into the Smallville offices. We just needed a script.

Smallville-Logo

Of course, the first question after “How exactly is this going to work?” and “Really? No BS?” was how were we going to do this? There were 6 of us in our little group and this could be something we all focused on. A true collaboration. So we sat around one Sunday and talked about the show, and if we were going to do a script what plot points should we hit? I want to say after that one afternoon we had a rough outline and plot points, but it may have been a couple of meetings before that happened. And I don’t remember all the specifics of those meetings, but I do recall the FUN of it all. This was our chance, no matter how small, and we were all ready to give it a shot. No idea was off-limits at first, and then we slowly began to circle around the true idea… the one that would serve as our story for this script.

That story was roughly as follows:

Green Arrow would make his first appearance on the show. (What nerve we had to even think this way. I mean not only were we going to immediately get this script sold, but we’d also be the first to really bring in a non-Superman hero. Like no one in their writer’s room had thought of that.)

Green_Arrow_Vol_5_logo

He would meet/come into contact with Chloe (she was the sorta Lois character before Lois showed up on the TV Show) and there would be some definite sparks that would fly between the two of them. (While I think this is a fairly obvious thing to do, I actually still like the idea of trying to introduce another person into the Lana/Clark/Chloe triangle. And there would be someone else for Chloe to add to the Wall of Weird.)

He would need something from Lex. And to get that something would require breaking into Lex’s home. (I believe this was one of those things that would initially bring our heroes into conflict as suddenly Clark is really stuck between possibly covering up a misdeed of Lex or letting a thief get away with something that could hurt his friend… a pseudo gray area for the Man of Steel).

And in the end, Green Arrow would get the heck out of town with some aspect of the information he was after (courtesy of Chloe), but with the feel as if he could be back.

Again there was more to it than that, but this was the basics as we settled on them. Now the only question was: Who wanted to bang out this script?

And the table went silent. I’m not sure if it was because none of us really had a clue what we were doing and didn’t want to be called out on it or what, but for whatever reason I found myself saying the words: “I’ll do it.”

Looking back, this was a huge step for me. What in the world was I thinking? What if they hated it? What if I was exposed as a fraud? Hell, I barely understood the way a script was supposed to be formatted at this point. And still, I raised my hand and volunteered. I rushed home with Final Draft ready to be installed on my computer and began to type, my fingers a blur as the ideas and the dialogue flowed from me. I did my best to develop scenes and made sure to hit all the high points. By the end of the night (probably more likely very early in the morning), I had the roughest of rough drafts finished. A masterpiece of American Television waiting to be unleashed upon Hollywood.

It was 29 pages.

Now, what I did not know at the time was that in script terms for movies and TV 1 page equals (roughly) 1 minute of filming. Smallville had a running time without commercials of around 42 minutes. Which meant I should have something around 42 pages.

And I had 29.

No problem, though. I was excited to have that much written up. And when I found out about the discrepancy, well that was why I was a part of the group. We tossed more ideas around and I believe we got the script up towards 40 pages (I might be wrong on this, but as I said above, this is my Big Fish and it weighs…). But we weren’t done. We did a table read. We brought in a couple of females to read the women’s lines to help make sure nothing was too out of whack. And at the end of that follow-up meeting, I took the notes and compiled that final version.

We sent it off to the sister.

Add_submission

And waited.

And waited.

And then heard back from her that she read it and really liked it! It was on its way as she’d pass it along to her contacts over at Warner Bros.

And then nothing. Nothing came of it. In my mind, I constructed an elaborate Twilight Zone-style scenario where the script was on the desk of the man (or woman) who was the final arbiter, and somehow it had fallen behind the desk, just out of sight. Because that was the only reason our phones had not been ringing off the hook (back when phones did that and didn’t just vibrate in your pant’s pocket).

Months passed and the script became almost an urban legend in the group. We’d mention it in passing like someone who had taken a grainy picture of Bigfoot or Loch Ness. The thought was occasionally passed around that we might be able to resubmit via another connection (we may or may not have done that, I can’t remember). I took the last printed copy and stored it away for safe-keeping. Eventually, like most legends, it slipped completely from our consciousness.

Fast forward to October 20, 2004. I settled in to watch Smallville for the evening as the episode “Run” appeared. It was to feature a non-Superman hero: The Flash.

For those of you that don’t know my two favorite superheroes are Spiderman and The Flash… but I’ll talk about that in another post. So to say I was glued to my seat would be an accurate statement.

This version of the Flash flirts with Chloe, steals something from Lex, which causes him to come into conflict with Clark.

Watching the episode was a bit surreal. Little things here and there seemed familiar, big things seemed close…

And when I was done I felt a warmness spread throughout me. We were on the right track with our script.  This episode felt so much like ours that it only reinforced that thought in my mind. The next day I talked to one of the group. His first words were:

“I liked the episode of Smallville you wrote, John.”

Now do I know if anyone in the Warner Bros’ offices actually ever saw our script? No. Heck, I’m 100% (well more like 99.999 – with a lot more 9s, but we’ll round up) that they did not. I’m not accusing anyone of anything unsorted.

I just think we tapped into that common Idea Space that is out there, that so many creative people seem to be able to harness. That same reason that multiple movies come out about the same subject (of course the other reason for that is because the studio sees an opportunity to beat an opponent at the same game, but I digress).

This was an example of that. That’s how close it was/felt to what we had done. That’s how close we were to getting a shot at the big leagues.

But above everything else, that project gave me some measure of confidence in my abilities. Writing that script in the first place and then watching as the others read it I felt like a team with others, but more than anything I felt like I could be one of the heavy hitters for that team. My future in writing was going to be big and bright.

I mean, I’d written an episode of Smallville after all.

 

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Opening Novel Lines

You’re supposed to make a splash with your opening line. You’re supposed to grab the reader and never let go for the rest of the time they have your story in their hands. Everything rests in only a few words.

Whatever you do, don’t screw it up.

That’s a ton of pressure for a writer to put on their opening line. I mean not everything can be The Dark Tower.

 

The movie Throw Momma From the Train focuses much of the writer’s block on that idea of not being able to nail the opening line. That if he could just do that, maybe the whole damn thing would flow.

I’m no Steven King (or Billy Crystal), but I thought it might be interesting to look at my own first lines.

The Dark That Follows

Office building. Elevator. Sam from accounts payable. Sip of water. Far office. Jim the terrible boss. New office. Handsome guy. Blush. Smile. Sandwich. Phone call. Tears. Screaming.

Marilyn.

A cheat of sorts as the main character is a fortune teller (who can actually see the future) and these are the fragments of his initial reading. While I like what I was going for, the idea of something quick, little flashes of information that Jason Mills was getting, it doesn’t ultimately grab you in a way I actually think the next line might:

“Are you sure that this isn’t going to hurt?”

That asks a question and makes the reader wonder and hopefully keep reading to find out what the hell is going on. Again, I remind myself that this is my first novel and the important thing is that it exists at all. Maybe I could have taken another year and finally hit upon the perfect opening line, but they say perfect is the enemy of done.

Hollow Empire

The splintering door shattered Vadim’s peaceful sleep.

This is actually the first story within Hollow Empire (which is a Dark Fantasy set in a post-black plague). Within Hollow Empire follows four characters (two written by me and two written by Jeremy Neill). So should there be more weight with this line? Should there be something epic to set off the entire world rather than someone awakening from sleep? There is action happening, so it is an improvement from The Dark That Follows, but again I’m left wondering if the 3rd line might be a better beginning line:

“You slept with my wife!”

And I Feel Fine (printed in the Machina Obscurum Anthology)

Huh… I guess the Mayans were right after all.

I actually really like this opening line. Considering the story is a post-apocalyptic story it fits the narrator’s voice perfectly. Someone who has developed a somewhat dark sense of humor about her development of being one of the few (maybe only) survivor of the end times. This does a decent job of giving you a taste of the voice who’ll be leading you on your journey.

 

Til the Last Candle Flickers (printed in the Machina Obscurum Anthology)

Dave Simms wished the world would just end already.

Another one I like a lot. And yes, both my contributions to the anthology were apocalypse stories… what can I say, I have fears and sometimes the best way to face them is to put them onto the page where maybe they can no longer do you any harm. Maybe. Still, with this one it establishes that our main character either has a problem with the world or is simply impatient for things to end.

 

The Echo Effect (forthcoming NEW novel)

The shadow of Olympus Mons stretched beyond Lieutenant Aaron Anders’s sight.

Only a couple of people have even seen this beginning. And while it may not grab the reader in the same way that prophesizing the end of the world might, I want to set the stage with this line. I need the reader to know that we aren’t on Earth and instead are starting on Mars. And while the book itself isn’t necessary about Mars, this mission Aaron Anders is on, will help determine his path throughout the rest of the book. Mars is his beginning.

This is just a tease, obviously. In the coming weeks, I’ll be announcing a release date for this one, so stay tuned for that.

***

I’m still learning, still trying to figure out the best line to start things off. And even if the first line isn’t an all-time classic, my hope is that as you read, you;ll still be forced into turning the pages and devouring the words. That the story becomes something you can’t put down for very long.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Community Rewatch

Years ago one of my friends told me about a show on network tv. And by telling me, I mean that he ranted and raved about it nearly every time we talked. He used terms like “the greatest show of all time” and “no really, it’s the greatest show of all time” and “seriously, what is it going to take for you to watch it?”

Now, my tv habits are both helped and hindered by the greatness which is a DVR. And no matter what we do, our DVR normally teeters on the brink of disaster at any given time. That not so glorious feeling when you look at all the wonderful shows you’ve recorded and realize that unless you watch tv non-stop for the next month, you’ll lose 5.7 seasons worth of shows as new recordings do away with stored ones. It’s so bad that I often wonder how the hell all my friends are able to watch all the shows they do watch.

Hey, have you started watching this new show The Witcher? Hey, what about Ozark? Or What We Do In the Shadows?

Or a thousand other shows. Don’t they realize the DVR is full? I have shows I can’t even begin to get through and you’re offering me more shows?

So when, all those years ago, my buddy brings me the first season of Community on DVD out of the blue (I mean, I guess I could have expected it from all the clues, but I never requested it)… I did what you do. You thank them, bring it home, and then place it on the stand beside the tv… and forget about it. Probably 3 weeks later, when I still hadn’t watched it, he requested I bring it back (apparently he needed to rewatch it another time?).

So our tale might have ended, were it not for the randomness of Hulu actually having the show a couple of years ago. And for whatever reason, I decided that then was the exact time to begin watching this show that somehow didn’t last but my friend loved.

And he was right.

I devoured the show with multiple nights worth of episodes burning into the odd hours of the night. You know that lie you tell yourself “one more episode” and then suddenly the sun is coming up outside… that’s what we were dealing with. In fact, I might have been better served to take my time with the show, but much like that desert, you’ll just have one more bite until the whole damn thing is gone.

Which brings us to Netflix and their decision to begin showing Community. And how I now see articles and videos and posts about this great show as more and more people discover it (or rediscover it). It came to Netflix on April 1 of this year, and I allowed myself 2+ months to try and really enjoy it… appreciate it for the amazing piece of work it is. And because I love lists, here are my five favorite episodes of the show.

5 – Geothermal Escapism (Season 5, Episode 4)

If one episode showed how weird the show could get, this might be the one. A game of Hot Lava (you remember playing that as a kid, right?) goes the only way that it could… to the point where a whole new society straight out of Mad Max appears. Yes, it is beyond over the top, but the fact that everyone is treating things soooo seriously throughout the episode makes me wonder if they shouldn’t have done even more episodes like this (they did may of them through the 6 seasons to be fair).

Just the idea that within only a few hours a whole new society complete with sayings about their mythology appears within hours of beginning the game is absurd and wonderful.

4 – Cooperative Calligraphy (Season 2, Episode 8)

How well do we know our friends? How much do you trust your friends? And what happens when that trust is broken?

This episode is all started by Annie’s missing pen and her demands to know who took it, and really devolves into what do you know about other people. Are you willing to forgive your friends their mistakes? Is the power of having your circle more important than anything else or is it something that without trust there can not be anything else? It’s not one of the flashier episodes, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful.

3 – Remedial Chaos Theory (Season 3, Episode 4)

Multiple timelines… I really shouldn’t have to say anything more.

The show takes such a simple idea of a bottle episode where the gang are at Abed and Troy’s new apartment and uses it to show us how the group works only when they all allow each other to be themselves. So many times around people in our lives, whether they are friends or co-workers or family, it feels like you can’t always let them all the way in. You must keep your secrets because otherwise you’ll be judged for them. But this episode is about seeing where things go when those truths are exposed and then learning (at least the audience learns, having seen all the timelines) that the group really is best when they are together and not worried about all the other stuff.

2 – A Fistfull of Paintballs/A Few More Paintballs (Season 2, Episodes 23 & 24)

At the end of season 1, the school descended into madness in the form of a paintball game. It was something so crazy and outrageous, I’m honestly surprised that the following season they went back to the well. You’d think there was no way they could possibly top it… but they instead lean into the format by making it both a Western and then a Star Wars parody in the second episode. And here’s the thing, whenever Community goes off into these odd tangents where the world kind of morphs into something else, you realize that yes, it is a tv show, but who cares because it is too much fun.

1 – Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (Season 2, Episode 14)

If all that happened was the main characters played D&D for twenty minutes that might have been enough for me. Even the idea of showing some form of D&D on TV seems strange to someone who grew up during the whole Satanic fear that went on in the early 80s. To have it on network TV… just boggles the mind.

Yet, that’s not all it does. They play a game but there is so much heart contained within because the student they add to the table “Fat” Neil is clearly suicidal at the beginning of the show. He begins giving away his stuff and the game is a last-ditch effort to try and show him that there are people who care about him.

And again, if that’s all it was, it would be a good episode… but what pushes it to my number 1 is Chevy Chase as Pierce who plays the role of villain in the episode. His own selfishness and ego push the group to their own limits the whole while allowing the viewers to get a glimpse into his own reasons for doing what he’s doing.

Just amazing stuff.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Kickstart the Comic – Maybe Someday

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

 

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

***

Maybe Someday

Publisher – Tyler and Wendy Chin-Tanner

Writers & Artists – Literally too many to name!

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

***

The Pitch:

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

 

The Story:

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

 

John’s Thoughts:

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

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

To Wish Impossible Things” by Matt Miner and Rod Reis

The Rewards:

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

 

The Verdict:

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

“Allison Wonderland” by Eric Palicki and Sally Jane Thompson

***

Be sure to check out the Kickstarter here!

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost: Free Short Story Time: Piece by Piece

I sometimes forget that I should be promoting myself, things that I’ve done, or books and shorts that I’ve written. I end up more passive than I would like to be by including it into my signature at the end of the blogs. But it occurs to me that maybe people aren’t reading those things. And it also occurs to me that being passive isn’t the answer. As I get ready to launch some more work into the world, I need to remind people what is already available as well.

I wrote this a few years back, but it is available for Free. And if you liked The Dark That Follows, it features Jason Mills doing his psychic thing (and if you haven’t read The Dark That Follows, you could do worse than having this short be your introduction into the world).

***

I’m trying to figure out this publishing thing. I’ve got the book, got a comic, got a little novella, but I know I need to do more. The chances of anyone having just one thing out there in the void and suddenly hitting it big are pretty low. And that’s fine with me. I know it is a marathon and not a sprint (to borrow that old cliche’). Still, the projects I’m working on don’t really feed the beast of The Dark That Follows. And while I have ideas for the sequel, I’m not ready to really dive in (too many other projects that must get done).

So how do I fix that? How do I get potentially more eyes on this book I wrote without writing another book in the same world?

writing

An aside… when the four of us teamed up to form this little spot in the corner of the internet we talked about doing a short story for the site. Something that might even be able to use the name Tessera in its title or as its inspiration.

Jeremy jumped in, both feet first because that man is a machine. Maybe in an effort to make everyone else look bad (jerk!) or maybe to light a fire under our collective asses, he wrote Old Man of Tessera (free on this here website!).

I’d been thinking about a story, but I really wanted it to tie into The Dark That Follows somehow. Have a place where they could get the short for free and if they liked what they read, maybe they’d check out the book. Something extra. And a story began to shape itself in my mind.

A short story.

This is the old two birds one story idea. And while I didn’t name it Tessera or Tesserization or Tesselation or… (well, you get the idea), it does take a little bit of inspiration from trying to see a bigger picture from little bits of information.

PIECE-BY-PIECE-COVER

So without further ado, I present to you Piece by Piece. You can find it here on the site, and shortly you should be able to find it for free download on the various other platforms… but you can get it first!

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

COVID Through the Eyes of A Cat

I wonder if my cats think that I’ve lost my wits (and writing the following blog only cements that idea).

Over the weekend, we visited with the in-laws and my step-father in-law mentioned that our cats didn’t like him. I replied, they slept with you while you napped in the chair! He shook this statement off, so I ended it with “Well, they like us!”

Overall, though, both Westley and Inigo are very friendly cats. Now over ten years old, they are the type who will initially hide when guests come over but shortly thereafter are in the middle of the room demanding some level of attention from the trespassers.

When it comes to my wife and me, it goes to another level. Most nights when I sit at the computer I am offered company by one of them. Sometimes they tag team, allowing a brief respite from entertaining the big guy for a little while. My wife has worked from home for over two years now, so I think they’ve gotten used to her being here. Typically they hang out upstairs (where her desk sits) trying to find a sunbeam in one of the bedrooms.

During this pandemic, I’m now home pretty much all the time. And on top of this fact, I don’t bore very easily. My problem has always been that there is never enough time to do everything I’d like to do. I want to write and read and play games and watch movies and tv and have time with the wife and… so being at home isn’t the prison sentence more extroverted people are dealing with.

Funny Cat Work From Home Office Meme

But the cats clearly don’t know what to do because I’m here all the time. I’ve been working from home for two months now, and the pair of them have adapted to my being home treating it as a now foregone conclusion that I am always home with them. The old world is shattered and this new one is all there is/was/ever will be. If I leave to go outside for a walk I am scolded by Westley upon my return. A series of meows which signify “How dare you leave this house!?! I did not give you permission for such things!” Days meld together so that every day must be the weekend in their eyes.

I can only imagine that they think I am just changing the time from when I normally sit at the desk from night-time to literally all day. I wonder if they wonder whether I still have a day job. Will there still be food in their bowl in the morning? Is he ever going to get up and give me more treats? Can’t he see I’ve been good all day? Heck, he’s been here all day!

Yet, even after spending all that time during the day, I’m sitting here typing up this blog, and Westley is resting on the desk beside me. Inigo visited me a little while ago before going into the bedroom with my wife and curling up on the bed.

Now I can only imagine what they’ll think when it is time for me to go back into the office on a regular basis.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Why Dwell on the Bad?

My wife and I are avid Survivor fans. Enough so that a couple of years ago I wrote a breakdown of how I saw ways to play the game. Last week was the season finale of their 40th season which saw 20 past winners come back to play the game against each other. To say it was a great season was an understatement. While the regular games with all new players tend to play out in somewhat similar fashion at the beginning (get to know each other, build a shelter, try hard as hell not to lose the first challenge, etc.) there is still that unknown ahead of each of them. No one knows who the others are so you have to feel things out. Maybe you immediately click with another person only to find out they’ve already rubbed people the wrong way. What do you do? Are you going to risk your game on a relative stranger?

But with previous players and especially former winners, you have a different dynamic unfolding. Each of them kinda knows each other. Sure, some of the early players may not really know the newer players, but all of them know exactly what it took for each of them to get a win in the game. They know how important certain alliances were to their well-being and how sometimes one mistake can completely sink your game.

And that was very interesting to see play out on our television. The idea of a mistake being made where you want to shout at the screen: “No! Stop! You aren’t going to come back from this!”

This has existed in the game since the beginning and is pretty much in most other games you may play. Had that been the only thing that I noticed through this watch, then I would have maybe filed it away and moved on, but during the finale there was something said that really spoke to me as a human and definitely as a writer:

One of the players made mention that she dwelt on the bad things for far too long, but that she didn’t have to. She shouldn’t do that. It’s baggage around her neck that she’s carried around throughout her life for the last few years.

But that idea of dwelling on the bad things is exactly what so many of us do in our daily lives. We never give ourselves permission to dwell on the GOOD that might have occurred.

***

Courtney and I, prior to the pandemic, played poker pretty much every week. Occasionally we’d win the night and those were things we did celebrate. But on a regular night where maybe we finished 3rd out of 50 people are we normally happy that we did so well? Or is the ride back thinking about that one or two hands that we could have/ should have played completely differently?

“Why didn’t I make that call? I’d won a huge pot!”

“Why did I make that call? It was so stupid. What else could they have had but the nuts?

“Why did I bet so much? It scared them.

“Why didn’t I bet more? They stuck around and sucked out on me.

And so on.

***

In writing, sometimes it is all about the next accomplishment. So much of what you might be doing is on a fairly long timeline. It could be weeks, months, or years (or decades even) where you are tolling away. Chapter by chapter passes by and you think very little of it. Maybe you set your mini-goals at word counts and when you finally hit 25%, 50%, or 75% of the book being done it is a small fist pump or maybe a slight mention to the wife. But then there is the next milestone to hit and so we can’t dwell on that.

However, if you haven’t been able to get inspired or the words are a little slower coming or maybe you’ve just worked too much over the last few weeks so your word count is in the gutter… well, you live in that world where you are behind.

“I haven’t written that much.”

“I am so far behind my goals.”

“Did you see how much that other person has written in the last months. What the hell is wrong with me?”

DWELLING in the BAD.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

***

Celebrate the wins.

You wrote 200 words last night. Great! You are 1% closer to your book being done. You finished a chapter! Great! Take that moment. You finished the book! Don’t think about all the other things you still have to do (edits, writing the sequels, what if no one buys the damn thing, and so on).

No. Celebrate the wins. Wallow in them for a little while longer. Because there will always be something to dwell on if you want. Those little mistakes or the big ones… they are going to happen regardless. Instead, give yourself permission to be happy for a change.

Celebrate the wins.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Speed?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I’m currently in the midst of a daily email series about the various aspects of writing where you get a lesson and then are prompted to either write some notes or break down an existing movie into its pieces or write something that is kinda like an essay. Regardless, one of the lessons this last week was about Writing Fast.

Now, Writing Fast is like the Fountain of Youth or the Lost City of Gold. It is this abstract thing that other writers talk about but I’m not 100% sure that they can truly convey how they manage it. It’s like running in real life. I played sports my whole life. And I would say I was fairly athletic through high school. But I was sooooo slooooow when it came to running. It’s an odd thing because I’m 6’5″ so you’d think that my longer legs would equate to longer strides but they really didn’t. When my dad remarked that I should stretch those lengths I had no idea how one would even begin to go about doing it.

That’s a bit how I see Writing Fast.

But, I don’t doubt that there is a way to increase your speed. Of course, it takes practice… over and over and over again. Butt in chair type stuff.

Anyway, the assignment after reading about how to become Faster was to set a timer for 10 minutes and then just write about what it means to you. What follows is what I wrote:

***

Sometimes it feels like everyone in the world has unlocked a secret and you are just waiting there trying to figure out exactly what it is. They tell you that all you have to do is this one thing and everything will make sense… like it is something you unlock within your brain and for whatever reason everyone else has figured it all out.

Yet, I ‘m still not entirely sure what it is that is supposed to be a magical switch within my brain that should be turned in a different direction. It does not come with an easy button even though everyone seems to want to tell you that it is.

That’s what writing fast feels like. It feels like something you should just be able to do with almost no problems and yet when you do it, it’s like a car trying to struggle to crank up. Sure you can get it going after a while, but it is going to take more than a few tries.

This is the intimidating aspect of any of this. I’ve been listening to you guys almost since the beginning, and I have been living with your trials and failures through it all. At the same time I’ve been trying to do this writing thing and yet, there are plenty of times where I do question myself. I know I can do it… but doubt always somehow creeps in.

Is it a mindset? Is it desire? Is it talent? Is it luck?

Is it all of those things?

Probably.

Honestly, I’m doing the best I can at this exact moment… but that doesn’t mean it is the best I could ever do. It doesn’t mean that I can’t find a way to shift to another gear. It doesn’t mean that I’ve got it all figure out. I certainly don’t. I’m constantly searching for the little bits of information I might be able to glean from other writers. What works? What hasn’t worked? What do you do when this one thing happens?

I soak it all up like a sponge because to do anything else would be a true waste of time. It’s focus. It’s trial and error. It’s successes and failures. And then shifting the dirt and seeing if you have any gold under there… maybe?

I just asked Alexa how much time was left on the timer because it feels like forever for some reason. Maybe that’s because at some point in this process of answering the question I literally had no idea what was about to come out.

What’s the good though that could occur if I could have everything click into place? I could get my ideas out there, into the world. Currently, I’m doing my best to keep up with my brain, but if I could get a little faster it might be that my brain needs to catch up to my fingers. It would mean the difference between being on a ten-year plan and maybe being on a 2 or 3-year plan.

It’s freedom.

***

That’s how I feel. If you can potentially harness the gift of speed, maybe it would provide even greater freedom in my writing.

Gotta keep practicing.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Repost – Brought to you by Yellow #5

Occasionally, I like to reach back into the archives to repost something from waaay back when. That time after Tessera had just started, and I was blogging about anything I could think of. The following was one of my very first blogs (maybe a month into blogging at this point). It’s all about how sometimes you are just in for a very bad day.

***

With it being Thanksgiving Week, I figured this was a good time for me to reflect on what I’m thankful for. However, this particular thing is not a person or a place, but a moment in time that could have gone all sorts of sideways on me. So, sit back on this pre-turkey day and take a stroll to March/April 1999.

It was during my last year at Georgia Tech, at the end of Winter Quarter… finals week. I don’t know how many finals I had that quarter, I believe 4, and of course, I had 2 scheduled on that Friday.

finalsweek-kitty-photo

Which wasn’t supposed to happen. The policy at Tech was that you only should have 1 final per day. They figured, smartly, that you were under enough stress studying for a test that would pretty much make or break your grade, so why complicate things with trying to study for 2 at once. And let me tell you, I tried to get one of them rescheduled for earlier in the week. I begged and pleaded, and each of the professors told me that I needed to talk with the other one as “Their class took precedence”. After banging my head against that wall, I sucked it up and took my medicine like a good boy.

I don’t remember what the classes were, nor do I remember how long I was up the night before (heck, the week before). What I do remember is that feeling of relief as soon as I finished that second test. I walked out of the classroom feeling both the extreme fatigue, but also filled with a warm feeling knowing that I was that much closer to being done with school (I would graduate at the end of the year). The Mountain Dew surging through my veins had managed to keep me awake long enough. So, I begin driving back to my apartment in Decatur, Georgia.

mountain_dew

Again, I don’t recall much of the drive until I got into the city limits. Only 1 mile away from my place I come to a stop at a red light. All I want at this point is to go and take a nap and not wake up until sometime on Sunday. My body ached, my brain ached, and my eyes ached. The light seemed to go on forever, but with the free time afforded to me suddenly, I took a glance into my rearview mirror…

And saw one of Decatur Police’s finest behind me. Now I pass the Police Station almost on a daily basis. Never worried about it…

Until right then.

What’s the problem you ask? Well, there was one other thing that happened to me prior to my double finals. My poor Pontiac Sunbird was in the shop (I was just hoping to get through school with it, figuring once I got a job I could get a new car). Courtney, my girlfriend at the time (and my wife now) was going to Cancun on Spring Break. She made me a deal (she loves to make deals, her nickname is Monty Haul): I can use her car for the week if I take her to the airport (or perhaps it was to MARTA) at some ungodly hour in the morning. Not having much of a choice, I agreed. As I dropped her off she said these fateful words:

“Hey, if you get a chance, could you swap out my tag, I haven’t done that yet.” (She placed the physical tag in the passenger seat so I wouldn’t forget.)

“Sure.”

Oh, and if you don’t know, her birthday is in December…

And it was now late March/early April.

And the tag still hadn’t been changed.

Anyway! Flashback to me in the car with the cop behind me.

Please don’t notice, please don’t notice…

cop_car_crop380w

The light turns green. I press on the gas and the red lights flicker on behind me.

Damn.

I pull the car over on the next side road. Annoyed. Nervous.

Oh, and the window on her car did not work (did I mention that this Honda Civic from the stone ages was effectively a lemon?). So I have to open the door when he approaches. I’m sure that got his Spidey Sense tingling.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?”

I did.

“I’m assuming it is due to the expired tag?”

“Yes.”

“Look, it is right here. This is my girlfriend’s car. I’m on my way home and I was going to change it.”

When I handed him my license and insurance card my hand was shaking. Visibly shaking. The kind of shaking where you realize that it is shaking and the more you try to stop it from doing it, the more it continues…

Shaking.

“Why is your hand shaking son?”

Because I’m running on about 4 hours of sleep for the week. Because I have enough Mountain Dew in me that my blood is yellow and not red. Because my brain is fried from taking two finals in one day.

I did not say any of those things.

“I don’t know.”

“Please step out of the car, son.”

A second police car pulls up at this point.

“May I search your vehicle?”

Yeah, I’ve got nothing to hide. I’ve never done drugs. I’m not drunk.

“Sure”.

NOOOOOO! What are you thinking? This isn’t your car. You don’t know who Courtney might have had in the car. Yeah, you trust her, but what if they stuffed something under the seats?

Well, too late now.

The second cop pulls me aside while the first begins to go through the car, my backpack, glove compartment, trunk, etc. I joke that Courtney is going to get an earful after this. A few minutes later, the first cop calls me back over. Stacked in a nice row on top of the car are pills of various shapes and sizes.

Loose-Pills

Courtney was notorious for opening her pill bottle and having them go flying about the car. She never cleaned them up, so the floorboards were littered with various pills. If you knew her, it was no big deal.

These guys don’t know her.

“What are these?”

I looked at them, fear in the pit of my stomach.

“Those are herbal diet supplements my mom sells.”

“Those are my girlfriend’s epilepsy medicine.”

Those I have no idea what they are.

“I think those are more epilepsy medicine.”

And then came the words I never hope to hear again…

“This will go a lot easier on you if you just tell the truth.”

What!?! But I am… I don’t… WHAT!?!

“Are you on something? Speed?”

“No, sir. I don’t do drugs.”

“And this diet pill, if we call your mom and she comes down to the station she’d confirm that?”

I don’t think I was trying to be a smart-ass, but…

“Well sir, she’s in Richmond, Virginia.”

A third cop pulled up (I am not kidding). Apparently it was a slow day in the City of Decatur. That or I was Walter White 10 years before Breaking Bad… or would that make me Jessie?

At this point, I was led to the first officer’s police car and placed in the back seat.

A couple of observations:

Not a ton of legroom. Guess they shouldn’t be all that concerned about whether the criminals are comfortable. Still, I’m 6’5″ and I was kissing my knees.

This was the first and only time I’m ever been in the back of a police vehicle (I’m hopeful that this remains true for a very long time). I missed that opportunity earlier in my life by 15 minutes back in high school (another story for another holiday).

While the 3 officers searched the car, ran my information, and made me sweat, three songs played on the radio. I wish I could say that I remember them (my guess is that there was a Red Hot Chili Pepper’s song since they are the bane of my existence and 99x played them about every 5th song), but my brain focused on the various scenarios where my future mother and father-in-law would have to come bail me out of jail.

My friend Egg’s voice popped into my ear, “John, they’re cops. They can do anything they want.”

Later, when I relayed this story to my sister, she said, “You do realize that there was probably a drug deal going on within 100 yards of you and yet they are harassing you.”

My Dad said, “Well, you did fit the profile. 20-something, expired tags, beat-up car.”

So about 10 minutes pass and the first cop comes around to the door and opens it up.

“Get out.”

I stood up as he handed me my information (along with the tag).

“We’re done, for now. Get that tag changed.”

“Yes, sir.”

Drive that last mile home. Go upstairs and grab my tools and CHANGE THE DAMN TAG.

Georgia_2007_license_plate

It was only at that point did my pounding heart begin to slow down.

A small postscript to this story. That night, Courtney called me to tell me she was in Cancun. By this point, I’d relayed the story to my roommate and to another friend, so it was becoming something funny (Comedy is just tragedy from a distance). So I started telling her about it. I was about 1/3 of the way into the story when I heard her start balling on the other end of the phone. “I’m so sorry!” over and over. I felt so bad about making her cry I don’t think I ever really gave her the business about the incident in the first place.

I guess I still owe her for that fun experience.

But, yeah, I’m (very, extremely, beyond, etc.) thankful that I didn’t go to jail that day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

***

While Thanksgiving is a while off, I hope you and yours are staying safe. Thanks for reading!

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Puzzles

This writing thing… is a bit of a guessing game. I don’t mean guessing what will work or what won’t work. I don’t mean trying to figure out what someone else might want from a novel. I don’t even mean trying to figure out how to actually sell the thing you’ve crafted.

(Yes, all of that is both a guessing game and potentially something you can influence with the right pushes in various directions.)

I mean trying to figure out when your brain may be ready to actually get down and do some writing on a project. Or potentially guessing whether the current story is going to be replaced in your mind by the shiny object over in the corner… you know, that story you aren’t actively writing? Yeah, it is 100x more exciting that what you are currently doing. Even the act of sitting down and plotting out a story, you just never know if and where the inspiration is going to come from.

If you were to put me in a time machine and go back 20 years before I’d ever really gotten serious about any writing endeavors, none of the ideas I’m currently working on would have been in my brain at that point in time. Not a one.

Now I have ideas that have sat around from those just out of college days, but other things have excited me more. Other things that represent some level of a challenge.

See, the thing is, it is all like a big puzzle.

***

During the Shelter in Place, I finally went up into my comic book closet and brought down a puzzle that we’ve had for years (at least 2 or 3 but maybe as many as 10 years). The box had sat in a closet, sealed, and really was something that disappeared from my mind until I started seeing these other people on social media sites show off the puzzles they were building. So we broke it out and began working.

My wife was there for the start. She did a bunch on the first couple of days, but as things progressed (or didn’t progress on some days) her attention span and desire faded.

Me, I’m stubborn. And we had 200 pieces of a 750 piece puzzle (which those who do 1000 piece works… that may be out of my reach after this one). I would sit down and work on it some evenings. I started to bring the iPad over to play movies while I worked.

Until… finally… last night I finished.

***

Puzzles have these pieces that can seem like they are a lock to go into one area only to have you realize that you were looking at the wrong part of the picture and it really fits perfectly into this other spot.

Stories are the exact same. You have an idea and you’re excited to figure out where it is going to lead you. You make notes, you grab pictures from the internet to help inspire you, you see some patterns, and force others… but the edges never quite fit right.

You can leave those rough ones in there, but part of the job is figuring out when something just isn’t a fit for what you’re doing.

And it is a true guessing game… a feel for what may or may not be the correct answer.

***

There are other pieces to figure out. How to release a book/story/comic into the world. How to get people to pay attention to it. How to get people to read what you’ve written.

Always more edges to smooth out to make sure the picture comes into focus.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

To Become A Super-Villain

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

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

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

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

1 – Avoid large vats of chemicals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doctor Doom

Ra’s al Ghul

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

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

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

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

***

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

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Little Moments

In times of craziness, where none of us knows where things will be in a month or six or a year, it’s been interesting/difficult/weird/fucked up/all of the above plus a thousand other things. I hope that each of you are staying safe the best you can.

***

I’m supposed to be writing, but I’m not. I’ve distracted myself again with some various Youtubers talking about anything and everything from Magic the Gathering to Comic Book Stores and the Virus (and how are they going to survive) to Pitch Meeting videos. I’m supposed to be putting words onto the screen, but I can’t stay focused. Too much real life.

I saw a meme at the beginning (or at least nearish the beginning of all of this) where it said that… well, let’s just go and find it… ok, I apparently can’t find it. Anyway, it said that you should be using this time to learn a new skill, a language, etc. And I saw it and thought – yeah, that’s a great idea. People will have a ton of time on their hands and they could use it constructively. Heck, even though I’m still working (thankfully) from home, I should have a little bit more time in the day where I’m not driving into the office to get some additional words on the screen.

But… it… is… hard…

My brain reads too much of the stuff online. It sees too much of the world “stuff” and suddenly I only want to be distracted from all that “stuff”. So I turn to familiar things – I watch Firefly and Community episodes to put me in a good mood.

How do you write something that is supposed to be any good when your brain wants to play squirrel all day?

And this isn’t Writer’s Block – for me, that’s where the words won’t come just because. These are external forces playing with everyone’s emotions.

***

I get some words on a novel I’m working on… have been working on, off and on for a couple of years. I’m getting closer. I feel good about the project. But it is never enough words. Not for what I want to do with the writings.

And that attitude makes it hard to celebrate the things us writers should be celebrating. Even if it is only a few hundred words that night. It doesn’t mean you failed in your goal. It means you are a couple of hundred words closer to finishing the draft.

***

So a week or two goes by and I see that Meme again but someone has added to it saying that it’s ok if you don’t accomplish all of those things… those goals. That we’re all going through something that none of us have ever experienced before and we’re reacting and acting in whatever way we can.

And that’s OK.

***

Last night I finished the edits for a novel (a different one than the one above – what can I say, I have been writing words prior to all of this “stuff”). This novel has been in my folder for a couple of years. I tried to get it in with an agent but received a stack of rejection letters instead. And maybe I haven’t pushed hard on it prior to this year because I was worried about putting it out there. It’s always scary to push the publish button.

But I hit a major milestone. And I didn’t celebrate in a loud way. I just exhaled. When my wife woke up I told her, and she’s the one who sees through all the other stuff and realizes these are the little moments to savor.

So I savored.

***

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll start revealing somethings about the upcoming novel. Until then, stay safe.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Kickstart the Comic – Burlap Issues 1-4

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

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

***

Burlap Issues 1-4

Writer/Publisher – Jesse James Baer

Artist – Zoran Jovici

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

***

The Pitch:

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

 

The Story:

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

 

John’s Thoughts:

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

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

The Rewards:

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

 

The Verdict:

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

***

Be sure to check out the Kickstarter here!

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost – And Now For Something Completely Different

I wrote this blog post during my very first year blogging on the site, but I think I mis-timed it. You see, I wrote it in light of the upcoming Superbowl where I thought the topic was completely appropriate. However, after I got a few people who raised eyebrows at me for the subject matter, I realized I should have timed it for April Fools Day. Not because I’m kidding about my Pizza Theory (oh, yes, there is a Pizza Theory below), but people expect weird and wild stuff on April 1.

So today I set a wrong thing right.

***

Please excuse the following. It is mostly a rant about something of extreme importance. You might laugh at it. You might question my sanity in bringing it up. Up until this moment I have written about things like writing books and comics, stories about almost getting killed by hitchhikers, and even about one of my favorite sports teams. However, I must recall Monty Python this week…

Now for something completely different

 

I want to talk about pizza.

Yes, that pizza.

Look tasty? Think again!

Look tasty? Think again!

But first a bit of background…

I am an EXTREMELY picky eater. Wait, no, that’s not entirely true. It’s not like I am one of those people who can only eat chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. There are plenty of foods that I do like. I mean, most meats I really enjoy (save for tuna and salmon and liver and sushi in general). And fruits I do like (save for coconut and grapefruit). But veggies are my nemesis. It would take far too long for me to detail all the vegetables I do not like, so I’m not going to bother.

So I guess I should say I am a picky eater, without the EXTREME in there (maybe – my Mother-in-law may disagree).

I’m not proud. I’m not trying to win a contest. I want to like various foods. No, really I do.

But…

I…

just…

don’t…

BUT I have noticed something due to that very behavior. Over the years of watching the habits of people when it comes to ordering pizza I have hit upon a theory. And with it being Superbowl week this is probably the most timely blog post I could have ever dreamed of writing. I am going to save you a lot of heartache.

You should be ordering more pepperoni and plain cheese pizzas at your parties.

Wow. That’s it. That’s all.

Oh?

You want more details as to why I just blew your mind? O.K.

Say you need to order 5 pizzas for your party, lots of people end up doing the following: 2 Pepperoni, 2 Cheese, and 1 Supreme (like the one above).

And there is your mistake. Only you like everything on the Supreme. Sure, you did the call-out about the Supreme. You covered your bases. Two or three hands popped up for the Supreme. You’re set. What could go wrong?

So what happens is that the pizza arrives and you grab a couple of pieces of Supreme, no big deal. Those others start to get scarfed down because of the one guy who doesn’t like onions, and the girl who hates olives, and so on and so on. Those people who said they liked Supreme? Yeah, they ended up grabbing Cheese because they forgot about one of the toppings.

If I have seen it once, then I have seen it a thousand times.

Then at the end of the night everything is gone save for whatever bits of the Supreme that you didn’t eat. Now maybe this isn’t a problem for you… left-over pizza rules. But what happens when this guy shows up a little late and all you have is 6 pieces of Supreme? And he hates green peppers?

Last time he didn't get a piece, he burned the building down.

Last time he didn’t get a piece, he burned the building down.

And to be sure that I’m not just picking on my vegetable lovers out there, it also applies to the meat lovers. The solution is to be bland. Be boring. People will eat some cheese pizza. People will eat Pepperoni. Just Keep the pizza simple (KPS for short… Trademark Pending).

Plus, it is not a pizza only problem. This is something that is out of control in society confounding me at every turn. And just then, when I think it isn’t going to show its ugly head, my company has a lunch meeting and the premade sandwiches have their DEFAULT ham and cheese sandwiches in RYE bread? Why? Why? Why?

What was so wrong with plain old bread?

What was so wrong with plain old bread?

Yes, you in the back… I understand you don’t see a problem with that… but what happened to the staples: White and Wheat? What were wrong with those two? Why is the default setting so bad? Or maybe, if you are going to have a few RYE bread versions… LABEL THEM!

Though I can guarantee that they will be the last ones taken (KPS in effect).

Now, normally this would be the portion of the blog where I would tie things back into something I’ve learned about writing. Maybe even something I learned while writing The Dark That Follows (available at Amazon). Like sometimes being complex for complex sake is not good. That when you build a maze for people to comprehend it might just cause them to turn the Kindle off or put the book down. Sometimes you can be too clever for your own good.

But, this is too important a subject to be bogged down in such discussion.

This weekend don’t let a good pizza go to waste!

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

You Haven’t Seen It? – The Godfather

There comes a time in a man’s life where he must step up and stop living the lie. He needs to know that people view him a certain way, and he needs to be comfortable with that. Or he needs to do something about it.

It’s long past time for me to watch The Godfather, one of those classic movies where until you see it, you can’t get the stamp on your Man Card.

Pre-Movie

We didn’t really do a pre-movie portion. It was more that we had time on a Friday to watch this three-hour movie without too much threat that Courtney would fall asleep due to it being too late in the evening (not that it still couldn’t happen, but just that it WOULD happen if we tried to start watching as the sun went down).

For my part, I knew it was a mob movie of some sort, but expected it to be less Goodfellas and more of a slower-paced movie.

Mid-Movie

I want to say that Courtney did nod off in the wedding scene for a half a minute. No matter how much I tell her to sit up, she just doesn’t listen to me. After a verbal scolding that included the remark of “Well, this is going to be another movie we finish two weeks from now and not have a clue what it is that’s going on!” (see our Have You See It? – The Big Lebowski edition).

One other thought I had about 30 minutes left in the movie was that I wasn’t 100% where we were going to end up. I assumed it was with Michael winning, but I didn’t entirely know who things were going to go down.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Post-Movie

Both of us liked the movie, which isn’t overly surprising. Things don’t get called classics for no reason (most of the time, at least).

Courtney – I was surprised at how many of the BIG MOMENTS were so early in the movie.

John – Yeah, like I didn’t know the whole “You come to me on this, the day of my daughter’s wedding” bit was in the first 5 minutes.

Courtney – Or the horse’s head in the bed was really quick, too. I just figured those were things we’d get more toward the end.

John – I tell you what though, this is a movie unconcerned about its run time. They lingered on scenes for a few extra seconds. The horse in the bed had like 3 or 4 establishing shots of the house before we even get inside.

Courtney – There were a couple of odd scenes that didn’t make much sense. Like where the girlfriend shows up at the house while Michael is in Italy. It’s like 2 minutes and there is very little point to it and then we are onto something else.

John – I wasn’t sure if the next scene was a few minutes later or a few days later. I also can’t quite figure out the Michael in Italy scene. I liked it, but I was actually expecting him to disappear from the middle part of the movie and then get called back. But I’m not sure if you couldn’t have just cut that whole section out and still had a great film. They never reference it again. He doesn’t say anything to anyone about his now-dead wife. It’s as if that whole time doesn’t matter anyway.

Courtney – Sometimes it was a little hard to understand Brando.

John – Yeah, I thought we might need to turn on the close captions for him. He is phenomenal in the role, but you definitely need to really focus on what he’s saying.

It was a trip to see Pacino so young in the movie. I’m used to him from his Devil’s Advocate and Any Given Sunday time frame.

Godfather is one of those, I can see why everyone should see it. Without it, the modern mob movies don’t exist. But, I don’t know that it will be a rewatch movie for me where something like Goodfellas can be seen over and over.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

All The Free Comics You Could Want!

In light of the Coronavirus that has gripped the world, many major comic companies and many more indies have decided not to wait until May for Free Comic Book Day. Instead, they are taking to the internet and posting links to their comics and making them free. The idea that there are many people either currently social distancing with very little to occupy all this extra time in our homes… what better way to pass the time than by reading comics!

What follows are the various sites, twitter threads, and any other things I’ve stumbled across. If you know of others, please let me know and I will add it to the list.

2000 AD

2000 AD will give you links to over 450 pages of their comics when you sign up for their mailing list. You can find the sign-up here.

Archie Comics

Archie has free comics available through their App. You can find the link here.

Image Comics

Image has 133 different Issue #1s available to download. You can find those here.

Jim Zub has shared the first volume of Wayward and the first volume of Skullkickers here.

Kenzer and Company

Kenzer has put one of their collections up for free, a 79 page Knights of the Dinner Table book “Crutch’s Shutdown Special”. You can find it here.

Top Cow

Top Cow has made 40 different comics free on their site ranging from single issues to full trades of a huge cross-section of their catalog. You can find those here.

Valiant Comics

Valiant is releasing a new comic every day, and so far they have made four titles available. You can find the thread here.

Vault Comics

Vault has 13 different Issue #1s available to download. You can find those here.

 

From the Indie Ranks

Jeremy Whitley started a thread on Twitter where comic creators were encouraged to share their comics for free. I believe the replies are up to 135 at the time I’m writing this. This could be your chance to discover a diamond in the rough. You can find the thread here. You can also use #CoronaCon.

I’ve also discovered threads from Comic Book Yeti that has 189 replies. You can find that thread here.

Jacob Edgar also has a thread going here.

Greg Pak (of Planet Hulk among others) has a handful of his independent work available here.

Steven Niles (of 30 Days of Night) has a trio of titles available here.

 

***

Finally, a bit of self-promotion:

The Crossing Kickstarter is LIVE

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

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

In A World

The Crossing Kickstarter is LIVE

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

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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

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

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

Coherence

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

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

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

Maybe.

Sliding Doors

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

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

Exiles

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

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

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

Take care of yourselves!

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com