Mindbubble Workshop Recap – How to Write Comics

 

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

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

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

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

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

Let me tell you, I am no artist.

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

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

***

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

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Friday – Terminus Team-up #2 Free

With the holidays and trying to get back into the groove again, I completely spaced on the fact that I never made a proper announcement about Terminus Team-up #2 being free for the month. It’s included as one of twenty-one free comics. You can download it here (Terminus Team-up #2 Free).

For those that may not be familiar with what Terminus Team-up might be, I wrote about it here. Basically, it takes the Terminus Media character Amber Fox, who is a mix-up of Dr. Who and Lara Croft, and sends her to the world of The Gilded Age. And while you won’t see the familiar faces from The Gilded Age Graphic Novel (still available to order on Indiegogo here), you will get to meet an inventor/scientist of the day: Lucas Knight.

From Amazon:

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

This story is not necessarily about her.

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

This comic is about beginnings and endings…

It’s free for a limited time, so check it out.

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Tales from the Cubicle – Part 3

I’m always amazed by the stupidity you can sometimes encounter at work. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since you can encounter stupidity everywhere in life. But more and more I think of the stuff that just makes no sense when a coworker/boss interacts with you in some strange way. I’ve written about a handful of my own here and here, but I thought I’d branch out and collect some others from people I know (names changed to protect the innocent!).

Consider That A Gift!

One of my friends is beyond dedicated to their job. Whether it is because of their own bit of crazy or because they are actually… cough… dedicated, this person will always go the extra mile for the company. Obviously, the benefit of doing our jobs is the fact that we get paid every couple of weeks, but sometimes… just sometimes, you’d like to be appreciated for what you do.

Cut to a scene many years ago where, we’ll call her Nancy, Nancy has put in a ton of work over the past 2 weeks. Over 90 hours in about 9 days, but had requested that particular Friday off well in advance. Of course, since she’d already put in more than what her hours called for, she chose not to put any PTO down. Her boss sees this, knows about the Friday off and comments that he didn’t see any vacation time on the timesheet. To which she replied, “Yeah because I got my hours in… you know, working on the weekend.”

His reply was “Well… don’t worry about it. We’ll consider it a gift.”

Yep… that guy knows all about employee morale. Definitely makes you want to go that extra mile when you reward a person with something they’ve already earned!

You’ve Got Nothing to Worry About

Another friend was at a company that wasn’t doing very well. Even with his limited experience (this was his first job out of college), he knew that things were spiraling in a downward direction. But one of the big wigs from the parent office was coming into town to help clear everything up and put everyone at ease.

And he did clear everything up. Bigwig told them all that things were a little rough right now, but the outlook was good going forward. It seemed convincing, even if the numbers told a different story, but our hero was willing to believe him in this at the very least.

Until he closed the meeting – “So don’t you worry about it. I mean, I’m not worried. When I hop back on the plane to head home, I’m not going to be worried at all with a drink in my hand.”

Drink in your hand… not worried, huh?

So yeah, the Atlanta office was closed about 6 months later. But there was nothing to worry about.

It’s only sexist if you finish your sentences

That same friend sat in on a meeting where his coworker Vicky was going over one of the clients and talking about how she was experiencing some difficulty with the project manager.

Who was a woman.

I only mention that because of what the boss said to her.

Boss – “Well, you know how it is sometimes with women.”

My friend leaned in, realizing something amazing was about to be said.

“Women don’t always take direction well from other women.”

Vicky was now staring at the Boss, unsure what he was going to say, but pretty sure it was not going to be something he should be saying.

“You know, they’d rather take direction from a man.”

It was only then that the Boss looked at Vicky and maybe the lightbulb went off in his head.

“Because… you know…”

Obviously, trailing off is not only useful in sitcoms but just as useful in the real world too.

***

I’ve been lucky in the last couple of jobs that I haven’t had to deal with Dilbert’s Boss, but it also means needing to rely on the kindness of others for their stories!

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Fridays – Looking Forward Back

 

I started doing this series of blog posts at the beginning of July. My thinking was two-fold:

1 – Check out who might be producing Steampunk comics.

Obviously, I write a Steampunk comic (The Gilded Age), so I’m already interested in the genre. However, aside from the DC covers they did that one month or something else random to come out which might mimic the ascetics, I really didn’t know what other indy creators might be doing within the genre.

2 – Help potentially spread the word for those creators.

Comics should be this thing where we are always helping each other up. And if I like something why wouldn’t I try to get another person to like it?

3 – Content for the blog.

Some weeks are easier than others to figure out a topic. This really gave me a direction that the Wednesday blog sometimes doesn’t have (which I like the free-form, but this is focused – or as focused as I’m going to get).

4 – See what was successful for other Kickstarters (especially those in the Steampunk realm).

As I was pretty sure I’d be kicking off a Kickstarter sometime in the Fall, this was an excuse to start to drill down and see what might be working and what wasn’t. Looking at the pages for how they were laid out, the various Reward levels, and just the level of artwork on the page. I took notes of what I liked and what I didn’t like.

So if you missed any of the weeks, here’s a handy recap of 2017!

Interviews

Interview with Ken Reynolds

Ken Reynolds is the creator of the comic Cognition: a comic where the lead characters are a clockwork and an evil rat who stop supernatural entities.

And if your brain didn’t begin dripping from your ears, you need to check this out.

Seriously, the comic is all sorts of cool.

Interview with the Creators of Arcane Sally & Mr Steam

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

Interview with the Creator of Hinges

What I wrote in the introduction still holds true:

There are moments when you start reading a comic and you just know there is something about it which speaks to you. And maybe you don’t understand every little thing which has been set out in front of you… maybe those are the things you’ll figure out on a reread. But when you lock in, that’s all it takes.

When I sat down to check out some Steampunkish comics a couple of weeks ago and came across Hinges by Meredith McClaren, I thought I’d read a few pages and move on with my life.Bauble and Orio had other plans for me.

Bauble and Orio had other plans for me.

Interview with the Creator of The Legend of Everett Forge

Everett Forge is in the mold of many of those same Westerns. He’s clearly a man on a mission to destroy Omega’s entire livelihood. He’s a myth, a ghost story the Robots tell each other at night – make sure you lube all your joints of Everett Forge will get you.

Interview with the Creator of Boston Metaphysical Society

Take the X-Files, set it in an alternate history of Boston, and force the characters to have to deal with a different set of social mores and expectation than we deal with today. BMS has run a handful of successful Kickstarters (and have 6 issues collected in their trade), so you are going to get your full story.

The Gilded Age Interviews

As part of my month-long Gilded Age Kickstarter campaign, I collected the various interviews I’d conducted with much of the team over the previous year. There are still a couple of people left to talk to… it’s on the to do list.

Interview with the Creator of Monstrous

Monstrous stems from a lifelong fascination with monster movies and their misunderstood heroes.  Even when they’re completing evil, monsters are always the most compelling thing about the stories they occupy.  I’ve always loved the Universal Studios monsters and Ghostbusters and the Hammer Studios movies.  I threw all of those influences together with plots from John Wayne westerns in this strange steampunk hybrid. Monstrous is like all of these things I’ve loved for years having a party together.

Interview with one of the Creators of The Jekyll Island Chronicles

The Jekyll Island Chronicles is a graphic novel adventure series blending historical fact with heavy doses of alternate history and adventure. Book One, The Machine Age War, opens the story in the days following The Great War – a time when a brief glimmer of peace and hope quickly fades as a cryptic organization moves to threaten fragile governments and their people with a campaign of chaos and terror. 

 

 

Kickstart the Comic

Word Smith

This was the first of the series, focusing on Victoria who crafts words. Through the use of this magic, she is able to affect the world around her. This Kickstarter ended up funding, and I have my digital copy!

Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poer #1 KS Exclusive

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

This Kickstarter funded and I believe the second issue was funded as well, so if you missed them, keep an eye out for issue 3.

The Invention of EJ. Whitaker

This was a case where the Kickstarter was long over, but I still wanted to shine a little light on the project. In fact, I need to reach out to the creators about an interview I’ve been promised!

When Ada Turner, a young Inventor’s apprentice, creates a flying machine in 1901, she’s introduced to the dangerous side of the Industrial Age.

Blood & Dust Volume 2

The Old West is really that last bastion before the industrial revolution kicks into high gear. But there is plenty of bleed between the two areas, the same as Steampunk and Weird West style stories. That Gothic Horror feel of monsters being in a place where, by all rights, they should not be. And whether it is a Steampowered invention needing to put the darkness back in its place or the sidearm of a cowboy – it feels all connected even if it isn’t a 100% match of genres all the time.

The Death Defying #1

Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini.

The writer and the magician.

They were once the best of Friends.

When their friendship went to hell, 

The world wasn’t very far behind.

Stoker and Wells – The Graphic Novel

In 1894 London, a 20-something H.G. Wells and a 40-something Bram Stoker meet and have a very unexpected 48-hour adventure that leads to the creative inspiration for both writer’s first great success – THE TIME MACHINE for Wells and DRACULA for Stoker.  It is not only a thrilling, scary, fun, and beautifully drawn adventure tale, but also a story about putting aside fear and insecurity and stepping into your true identity.

Kickstart the Game

1879 London Adventure and Sourcebook

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

Westbound: Revolvers and Rituals

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

When the soil’s turned sour,

And the well all dried up.

When men in suits put a gun in your hand

And send you to war.

When there’s nothing left of your home,

But ash and regret.

It’s time to turn Westbound.

Game Reviews

Space: 1889

As I said in the breakdown of the RPG Quickstart rules: Take the best parts of John Carter, Warlord of Mars, a mix of the crazy-fun science fiction of Jules Verne and HG Wells, and top it off with some of the pulp stories from the 30’s and 40’s about adventures on other planets (before pesky real science ruined it for everyone). The Imperial nations of Europe decided to look to the stars to appease their appetites for materials for Queen and Country (or Kaiser and Country as the case may be).

Other

5 Steampunk Movies You Should Watch

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

Short Film – Eye of the Storm

This is a music video. This is a short film. This is amazing looking.

The story centers around a sky captain making his way across the sky, making peace with what came before and steadying himself on what may come next. Accompanied by a large dog-sized dragon, he sees the green glow just past an oncoming storm and must make his decision on how to deal with it. Whether he should avoid it or push through to the other side.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

With the trailer for the animated movie debuting, I thought it was more than time to give a little focus on a Batman related Steampunk story… that I have not read as of yet. Share in the story of my failure…

Gears and Cogs

A few of the things that had caught my eye over that week: Draw with Jazza, They are Billions (video game), and Brass Empire (card game).

***

I’m looking forward to even more this next year!

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

In the Future, Retread the Past

We come to the beginning of the year and with it a chance to reflect on the previous year’s accomplishments and failures and set those goals for the following year. Every year I set out goals, but manage to only hit a small portion of what I had planned for the coming year. Sometimes the reasons are other projects which suddenly demanded my attention and other times it is a time squeeze or not managing my time just right or perhaps I’m setting my goals too high?

The thing is that each of these projects are like open boxes in my mind. If I’m not careful I’ll continue to open new boxes… which is great! However, if you never close any of the boxes, that can be worse than not having them in the first place.

2018 has to be about closing boxes so that new boxes can be worked on. And a big piece of that puzzle was actually accomplished late last year with the Gilded Age Kickstarter funding. Shutting the box (completing the graphic novel) doesn’t mean I’m finished with the Gilded Age, but instead means I have something I can point at and feel that sense of accomplishment we all get when we complete those large tasks.

The Look Back – 2017

Reviewing my previous to-do list is a little depressing because I can feel the frustration of my previous self. 2017 was to be the end of this “5-year plan” where… well I don’t exactly know what it is I was expecting.

The White Effect

I have one more path for this book before I do self-publish it. I entered it into the Angry Robot open submissions during the holidays. One way or another this must become a box that gets closed.

Edge of the World

Not much movement here. I still need to finish my self-edit. I would still like to send out query letters.

S.O.U.L. Mate

Above, I mentioned that having too many open boxes is better than the alternative, but in this case, the old Writer’s Block came to visit me. It was surprising considering I had the book outlined out… until I realized I didn’t have parts of it outlined out… and that brought me to a screeching halt.

The Gilded Age

This is where I can pat myself (and all those who supported the Kickstarter) on our collective backs. After helping out on the Route 3 Kickstarter, I was both excited and worried about launching my own. But when I finally pulled the trigger… it was even more nerve-wracking than I would have thought!

Regardless, this is a big success, and I’m looking forward to holding the trade in my hands.

Veronica Mars Novella 2

This was published earlier in the year and somewhat showed me that everything is timing. When the Kindle Worlds had just launched, we were pretty much ready with the 1st novella… and while it didn’t break the bank, it was a consistent seller, a handful here or there every month. This novella was released a couple of years later. There wasn’t a new book or movie or really much in the way of Veronica Mars news, and the sales of both books prove that out.

I’m still extremely happy to have published the story.

Short Stories

This was a very nebulous one and I did finish up a couple of stories, but they are still on the hard drive, so maybe I’ll give myself half credit.

Blogging

Another success story in that I still didn’t miss a week (though I came close a couple of times), but the other aspect was to be a little more focused with the Kickstart the Comic series or the Behind the Comic series… and I think I did a better job of it. My blog is probably still a little too scattered, but I like that.

Plus, I also launched a second blog over the summer in Steampunk Fridays… and let me tell you it is both a blessing and a curse to have a focused blog. Sometimes it means you have plenty of things to write about, interviews to run, reviews, or Kickstarters, and other times there is next to nothing happening. Very feast or famine.

I took the last couple of weeks off for the holidays, but I’m hoping to keep at it in the coming year.

Looking Ahead to 2018

What are my goals this year? How about forward motion on closing those open boxes? How about opening new boxes? How about publishing another book? How about selling books at conventions?

How about a little of all those bits and pieces? Things I’d like to work on in the coming year:

The Gilded Age

The White Effect

The Edge of the World

S.O.U.L. Mate

The Crossing

Ravensgate

Short Stories

The Next Big Idea for a Novel Series

Hollow Empire Season 2

You Must Be This Tall To Ride

Entropy

Lightning

The blog(s)

Something I didn’t even have an idea was on the horizon

I want to be excited by the paths I choose. I want to have some success. I want to get the books into people’s hands and have them love the ride.

So what are you doing this year?

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love For Every Day

 

Last year I gave my wife a homemade gift. Yes, those are cheesy and many times it is a cop-out to giving a “real gift”. But I decided, partially inspired to the multitude of Jeremy’s various Question books, to go through and look for quotes about Love, about how I feel about her, and still embrace my own nerdiness – so it included lots of bits and pieces from various media that we both love.

I called it A Love For Every Day, and set about trying to find the right words for each day.

Let me tell you, it is not as quick and easy as you would think. Especially as I tried to include little nods to the actual day if possible – sometimes those being birthdays or anniversaries or just plan old holidays… many times the quotes play off of that as well.

As these holidays come to a close, and as she begins reading the entries for the last few days of the year, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites from these 365 days.

January 1

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.

Nicole Krause, The History of Love

February 2

Love is the answer to everything. It’s the only reason to do anything. If you don’t write stories you love, you’ll never make it. If you don’t write stories that other people love, you’ll never make it.

Ray Bradbury

March 16

Have you ever been in love? Horrible, isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life… You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore.

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman

April 19

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva…

So tweasure your wuv.

The Princess Bride

May 4

I love you.

I know.

The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi

June 19

You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.

Peter Pan

July 16

If you have just one,

Let me be that love

If you have lots of others,

Please let me be

Please let me be one

Let me be one

Jonah Matranga, Crush On Everyone

August 13

I’m afraid that once your heart’s involved, it all comes out in moron.

Gilmore Girls

September 30

You can learn all the math in the ‘Verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don’t love, she’ll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you she’s hurtin’ ‘fore she keens. Makes her a home.

Serenity

October 31

My dearest friend

If you don’t mind

I’d like to join you by your side

Where we can gaze into the stars

And sit together now and forever

For it is plain as anyone can see, we’re simply meant to be.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

November 8

I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can play together all night.

Calvin and Hobbes

December 29

I thought our story was epic, you know, you and me.

Epic how?

Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed. EPIC.

Come on. Ruined lives? Bloodshed? You really think a relationship should be that hard?

No one writes songs about the ones that come easy.

Veronica Mars

***

Hope you have some great holidays with those you love.

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

The Last Jedi – Thoughts

I don’t think I’m the right person to review certain movies.

Back in college my wife and I went to the movies about every other week… so we saw our fair share, but compared to some of my other friends, it was merely a drop in the ocean. Add to it the idea that we were only going to see the top end movies… and by that I mean we’re seeing mostly the big movies. The summer blockbusters, or the movies that… well, the ones people have actually heard of.

Obviously, this limits your exposure to some hidden gems, but it also (sometimes) helps to avoid really bad films. You know the ones I’m talking about – terrible comedies with the latest sitcom actor or some romantic movies with no discernible plotline or most of the disaster movies or most of the “Big Giant Animal attacks” movies.

If we saw a trailer that showed a movie we didn’t think we’d like… we didn’t go see it. It wasn’t a moral imperative to make sure to hit all of the movies.

This means, most of the time, I’m predisposed to like movies I got to the theater to see. It means I’m not trying to nit-pick things to death, but am really trying to enjoy the ride.

And hey, people go to the movies (or watch them at home) for any number of reasons. Maybe you just really like the experience. Maybe it’s your trade and you feel like you have to keep up with them.

The reason I even start this with all of the above is that when I like something, I’m “in”. I’m not waiting in the wings to shout “Aha! I knew you would screw this thing I love up!” No, I’m “in” for as long as I possibly can be. I love with my whole heart these bits and pieces I grew up with. And if you want me to not love it any longer, then you have to do a TON to push me away.

So I have to watch the commentary about The Last Jedi over these few days since I consumed it with a bit of a raised eyebrow. I’m never sure where any of the people who poke at their so-called loves are really coming from. Unless I specifically know you, I have to believe that perhaps you have been jaded by something else and you were waiting for this movie so that you might just say bad things about it. That maybe, long ago (in a galaxy far, far away) you might have been “In” for Star Wars. Maybe the Prequels did it. Maybe it was Disney buying the franchise. Maybe it was the wiping away of the extended universe. Maybe it was Han shooting last. Heck, maybe it was Rogue One. Maybe it was JJ Abrams. Or maybe it was just that you only want to love the original trilogy.

And that’s all ok.

 

I liked The Last Jedi. Like I said above, I’m predisposed to liking it. Heck, I may love it, only future viewings will inform that emotion.

I liked that there were certainly call-backs, but many times those call backs were slightly subverted. I liked that Luke had changed in 30 years. Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi is a million miles away from what he was at the beginning of A New Hope, so to think he’d still be in the same headspace never occurred to me. Do I agree with every little aspect of how he got there? I don’t know. I’ve only had a couple of days to digest. I’ve only talked it over with a couple of people

Rey’s parents reveal – perfect.

Snoke’s big scene – I really dug it, but then again, I haven’t been obsessed with trying to figure out who this guy really was.

Leia – Moreso than The Force Awakens I understood that she is the Rebellion and the Rebellion is her. That she is the one person who will never give an inch, never surrender, never give up, and she will always be that true north star for the Rebels. If you are ever confused about what you should do in a situation within the Star Wars Universe, figure out what Leia would do and then do that.

Finn – I like that he’s always running. He’s human and unsure of himself and scared of his past.

Poe – I like that he’s brash, but he’s not Han Solo. He makes mistakes (big ones), but he’s trying to do right… as best as he can. I like that he got more of a chance to be a real character.

Rose – I like that she gives more of an every person viewpoint of the Rebels. She sees these people as the heroes they can be.

Kylo Ren – For the people confused about whether making Rey the main hero of these movies means they are not about the Skywalker family… I don’t get it. Episodes 1-3 were about the fall of a man. Episodes 4-6 were about his redemption. And it feels like Episodes 7-9 might just be about his legacy.

All of that doesn’t mean there aren’t moments that felt a little clunky or a little out of place… it just means the good outweighs any bad. These movies don’t have to be perfect (I mean, there is only one Empire Strikes Back).

A friend on Facebook wrote that The Last Jedi may not have been the movie you wanted, but it was the movie you deserved.

That may be the truth.

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Fridays – Gears and Cogs

There are games to be played. There are videos to be watched. There are novels and comics to be read.

But I haven’t done that.

Instead, I wanted to share some things I’ve been checking out. Most have caught my eye because of a Steampunk connection. These are bits that I’m just beginning to explore or think about or watch or…

Draw with Jazza

This is a series of youtube videos where you get to watch him take votes from the audience and then come up with a colored character drawing. I first saw it on a random search and he had done a “Steampunk Rogue”. As a guy who writes comics, seeing an artist work is like watching someone perform actual magic. The page begins empty and slowly they fill it into something greater than it started.

Jazza does a great job in really walking through the steps (at an accelerated visual pace) of what he’s thinking, what he might be trying to convey, and whether he thinks he’s gotten it right.

If you just want to scroll through his final prints, you can find them here.

They Are Billions

What do you get when you cross Steampunk with zombies with the gameplay of a Starcraft style real-time strategy game? They Are Billions looks to be the answer to that question. It is currently in early access, but I like the idea behind the game and am interested to see what Steampunk things might play into the actual gameplay.

Brass Empire

I actually bought this game at Gen Con and it still has not been played. But I longingly look at the box and hope once the holidays are over, that I can convince my poor wife to entertain me for a little while as we learn the ins and outs of the game. This is one of those where it certainly has all the look of something extremely cool… and it kills me to look at the box every day as it mocks me from its spot on the desk.

Rock Manor Games just did an expansion box set to the original game on Kickstarter. You can check out Rock Manor Games here.

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Closing Threads for the End of the Year

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

***

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

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

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

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

Yeah, it never works out.

***

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

I believe this, somewhere deep in my soul.

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Steampunk Fridays – Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

A quick one this week… as the Holiday Season gets its full weight down on us.

Years ago there was this comic called Gotham by Gaslight. It featured Batman living in a turn of the century style world where Jack the Ripper had come calling to Gotham.

If you went down the checklist of comics that I should read, this one might have checked all the boxes:

Elseworld – If you are a Marvel fan, this is DC’s version of What If where they showcase alternate timelines or alternate stories from the main ones. It means they can do pretty much whatever they want and not have to worry about Continuity of why Batman might be in the early 1900s.

Jack the Ripper – There is something about Jack that makes him this fascinating figure from history. The fact that no one knew who he was. The various theories over the years about his identity. The gruesomeness of his crimes.

Batman vs. Jack – Take one of the greatest characters, a detective, and put him against this one person who apparently had us all fooled.

So how was the comic? I don’t know. I’ve never actually read it.

I don’t know why. Even as I’m writing this all out, I don’t know why. I always meant to pick it up… it is a comic fail for sure.

Soon though, I can potentially make up for my egregious error (or at least partially make up for it) as they are going to release it to DVD next year! And I think now would be a perfect time to visit that world and enjoy the movie before finally reading the graphic novel. I won’t sit there the whole time comparing it because I’ll watch it first!

It’s kind of a win, win… right?

Ok, it’s kind of a cop-out, but at least I’ll be righting my own 20-year error!

You can check out the trailer here:

 

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Unfinished Business

Weirdly, in the aftermath of running a successful Kickstarter to get a project I’ve been working on for years, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about unfinished projects sitting on my hard drive. How for every file and folder that lies dormant on the computer, I will soon have something that is somewhat “complete”.

It was due to these incomplete projects that I created the Gilded Age the way I did in the first place. Too many comic book projects had gotten started only to fizzle out. It was very much the idea that the Gilded Age might only last 1 issue and I had a full 4 issue story-arc planned. What do you do with that? How do you get around the fact that 1 issue could very well be the only thing anyone ever sees?

In fact, there was a while there where Egg and I would email back and forth about 1 issue comic ideas because that was something we could see actually being done and finished. It was something concrete whereas the many talks about 50 issue comic storylines might (only might) have been a little beyond any of us.

Yet, even with those constraints, so many of them never saw the light of day.

And I’ve been thinking about them.

They say you are supposed to Kill Your Darlings as a writer. Basically, when you are writing, even if you love a scene or a paragraph or even just a sentence – you have to be willing to cut those just as easily as anything else.

And there is also some saying about always moving forward (I think). If something doesn’t work out, then toss it aside and start on the next thing. Something about ideas not being precious. That any creator worth their salt can come up with 100 more… and then 100 more.

Yet, I look through the files and remember things I’d forgotten. I see that there was potential within these projects. I see that there could still be potential within so many Lost ideas.

Maybe it is that Kickstarter success that suddenly has shown me a finish line is actually possible? Has it got me convinced there might be a way to bring those things back to life in some form or fashion?

It’s not about the business of the pieces… not yet at least. That will come. The questions about what does this particular thing being brought out of storage actually accomplish. What if by focusing on these older toys, I don’t give enough focus to newer ones?

I’m caught in a weird time loop of my own doing. Lamenting what should have been out a decade ago if only I’d have pushed the right buttons. How I could have been further along whatever path I currently make my way down.

But mistakes have been made along the way.

So what do you do about those old things? I’m a collector. I don’t throw things out without good reason. I believe that ideas are very precious, but I know that more will always be forthcoming. I could never just be rid of them. Do they represent too much thought, too much work, too much… growth?

Without each word, line, paragraph, half-finished script, or even finished scripts that never became comics… my current work wouldn’t exist. Without every pain of trying to pull or get pulled across a finish line, my couple of books, The Gilded Age, and a handful of short stories would not exist (or at least they would not exist in the way they do today).

So I don’t push delete on these things. I don’t erase them from my mind or my flash drive. I don’t purge the emails of random thoughts and nuggets of storylines… for they offer me a glimpse at all the paths I’ve been on until today.

Sure, they may frustrate me that they didn’t get there, but they might have helped me get there.

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Top Thanksgiving Movies

My office mate, Ian, has a theory that if you can come up with the quintessential Thanksgiving movie you could be set for life. There are tons of Christmas movies and plenty of Halloween movies, but Thanksgiving is kind of left out in the cold. So I thought I’d try to find some Thanksgiving holiday movies to hold you over while you recover from the turkey coma we’ll all surely be in sometime on Thursday.

Instead, it seems Thanksgiving mostly allows for the other classics to be watched or series of movies to be binge-watched. I fully expect that the Rocky series will be played in its entirety at some point this week. Maybe the Karate Kid or just a series of 80s movies rounded out by Ferris Bueller.

So how about some “Thanksgiving” movies?

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I didn’t even realize this was a Thanksgiving movie until I started writing this blog. In my mind, it is snowing and he’s got to get home for the holidays = Christmas. But no, he’s getting home for Turkey Day!

This is John Candy at maybe his best (probably just behind The Great Outdoors for me) and Steve Martin nails the “straight guy” in their duo perfectly. The idea of two complete strangers needing to depend on each other in order to get home… and hijinks ensue from there.

Seriously, even if you aren’t trying to find Thanksgiving movies, this should be near the top of your comedy list.

Son in Law

This movie only exists because the girl feels sorry for Pauly Shore “Crawl” and invites him home for Thanksgiving (as otherwise, he’ll be by himself on the holidays). One of those movies where I had no desire to watch… much like many of the Saturday Night Live movies of the early 90s. But this is one where you assume it will be Shore running around on a farm for 90 minutes acting stupid… and it totally is, don’t get me wrong. Somewhere along the way, this one shows that it has a little bit of heart – as he tries to help his friend become the person he knows she can be.

Yes, a “Weasel” movie where he helps someone come to their senses. Crazy.

***

And I’m out. Oh, there are others – The New World, where we get the story of Pocahontas, Home for the Holidays, that I recognize the name and nothing else about the story it presents, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving – which is beyond a classic, and yet I remember The Great Pumpkin and the Christmas Specials and not really that one. And so on. I found a list that mostly just has movies on it because there happens to be one moment that may or may not be Thanksgiving related.

Maybe Ian is correct? We apparently NEED a solid Thanksgiving movie so that we know exactly what we’ll be watching on Thursday or Friday or whenever during the week.

I mean, secretly I’m still waiting for the Eli Roth “Thanksgiving” movie, just to get the list into some level of respectability.

 

***

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

The Gilded Age Posts

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

 

Doing my 4 Years Later look back last week, I realized that I’ve written a few posts on The Gilded Age, but never really compiled them into any kind of comprehensive Index. Instead, you would have had to search and claw and dig through the Tessera archives to potentially find any of this.

What follows is a collection of stories about selling the comics, coming up with the comics, and sometimes just finding a way to make the comics. I hope you check them out.

 

New York Comic Con Recap – Stories from the Con

While the overall post is about various things that happened, but the Steampunk Guy tale is directly related to my experience trying to sell a copy of The Gilded Age.

And something about Divergent Points.

The Gilded Age

Behind the Comic – The Gilded Age

Every Hero has their own Secret Origin, and this happens to be The Gilded Age’s Secret Origin!

Behind the Comic – The Gilded Age 2

A blog about the second issue of the comic, but also about the ups and downs of bringing a comic book to life in the first place. There are delays, expected and unexpected. Starts and stops. But don’t lose faith, it can and will eventually happen.

You Got Time Travel Mixed With My Steampunk!

This was a post announcing the digital release of Terminus Team-up #2, which also happens to take place in The Gilded Age.

I need to remember to do a full-on post for this one at some point, as I love the way it turned out.

Behind the Comic – Terminus Team Up #2

Oh, look at that. I did write a post about it. A story about how Amber Fox (Terminus Media’s resident Laura Croft meets Dr. Who) and how I managed to figure out a way to get another Gilded Age story out there mixed with my favorite subject: Time Travel!

Behind the Comic – Anatomy of a Panel

I wanted to take a look at one panel from The Gilded Age and really break it down. Look at the script, look at the pencils, look at the inks and colors and then the lettering. How does it all come together?

Steampunk Fridays – The Gilded Age Interviews

This is the post from a couple of weeks ago which pretty much serves as my Index of Interviews for the various people who worked on the books. I don’t know if I say it enough that I am very fortunate to have worked with all of them. They’ve made me a better creator.

Kickstart the Comic – Gilded Age: Vol 1 – A Steampunk Graphic Novel

Hey, have I mentioned that there is a Gilded Age Kickstarter still running? And we have just passed the funding mark and are now setting our sights on a couple of Stretch Goals? Still not convinced? Maybe you should check out this post where I break it all down.

Behind the Comic – Why Kickstarter?

Where I bear my soul a little bit and talk about what I’m hoping to accomplish with this Kickstarter Campaign. About how I’m nervous that all these years worth of work might be for nothing if this thing doesn’t fund. This was written in the days just before the campaign went live and my stress level might have been a bit high.

***

John McGuire

The Gilded Age Kickstarter is still going on. Check it out on Kickstarter here.

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

10 Things I Miss Most About Role-Playing

It’s no secret.

I can pretend to be a sports-loving, cave-dwelling, meat-eater.

But it wasn’t always so.

Once, long ago, I dwelled in the lands of swords & sorcery. At the tender age of eleven, my uncle passed along a set of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons books, and I was hooked.

Every dorky image you’ve seen of role-players on the internet…they were me. Every nerd stereotype, I conquered.

And no, I don’t care. I loved every second of my dice-rolling origin story.

Here’s the ten things I miss most about role-playing back in the day:

* * *

The Clatter of Dice on the Table

As a little kid, I thought dice were six-sided and used only by gamblers in the seediest corners of Vegas. Who knew they came in such a huge variety of shapes, sizes, and colors? My favorite set was sparkly green. And damn, that twenty-sided die rolled more 20’s than should’ve been legal. As a game master, I crushed many players’ dreams with my dice. Just ask Egg Embry, king of role-playing wanna-lancers.

*

Role-Playing for Days Without Stopping

When we played, we played. No tiny two-hour sessions for us. My little group of four would sometimes convene on a Saturday afternoon, head down to the basement, and emerge late Sunday night. No, we didn’t have girlfriends. Yes, we had more fun than everyone else on the planet. Sometimes, if my entire crew wasn’t available, I’d run a session with two guys, then head over to the third player’s house and game until the wee hours.

Pure. RPG. Heaven.

*

Creating Art for the Game

Some D&D players show up with the simple goal of advancing their character and hoarding treasure. Not our group. We created worlds, and we lived inside them. To aid the process, some of us created art to support our fantastical visions. Hell, I bought a giant art book and populated it entirely with drawings, sketches, and hand-painted maps. Did we take it too far? Nah. Instead of watching movies, we directed our own stories inside our minds.

The Underhollows – A painted scene from our campaign.

*

Eating Pizza & Drinking Mountain Dew

If I ate today like I ate back then, I’d be 300 lbs. Fortunately, the body of a fourteen-year old is resilient. We chugged gallons of carbonated sugar water and ate boxes upon boxes of Little Caesar’s pizza.

…and we didn’t gain a damn pound.

More importantly, the caffeine we imbibed fueled our bodies better than a thousand Haste potions. If we’d have had an IV, we could’ve stayed awake for weeks at a time, rolling dice and avoiding life beyond our basement.

*

Painting Miniatures

Nowadays, my young son plays with the remnants of what was once a mighty lead-pewter army. He doesn’t know about the hundreds of hours involved in painting and perfecting thousands of his tiny miniature monsters. He doesn’t really care.

Honestly, we didn’t really need the miniatures to play our style of game. Most of the fun lived in the actual painting. It’s not like video games, in which everything is programmed for you. When you take the time to add color and life to your very own miniature character, it becomes something sacred.

And ‘effing badass.

*

Creating New Worlds

The guys (and gals) who participated in my campaign won’t ever know the work I put in behind the scenes. I didn’t just design simple treasure hauls. I invented a universe, and I loved every minute of it.

I probably should’ve been studying for school.

Nah.

In folders ancient and dusty, I have hundreds of maps, sketches, character drawings, stories, and massive overarching plot outlines. I planned our game sessions well in advance, carefully constructing multiple scenarios to accommodate whatever crazy choices the players might make.

Some of those sketches and outlines, I turned into fantasy novels later in life. Others remain in hiding, likely never to see daylight again.

Sniffle…

*

Drawing Dungeon Maps

Along with world-creation came the fun (though often tedious) job of mapping out dungeons.

Take a left turn, fall into a pit of spikes.

Go straight, fight a pack of bloodthirsty Necrophages.

Head down the stairs, prepare to meet your doom.

Armed with reams of graph paper and a knack for being cruel to my players, I designed dozens of dungeons. Some were simple. Others were bottomless. Several were never traversed, and still lie hidden, chock full of gold (and death.)

Think this is complex? You ain’t seen nuthin’, rookie.

*

Seeing the Joy on Players’ Faces

For as insidious as I tried to be, I genuinely wanted my fellow gamers to succeed. After all, I’d laid the trappings of an epic world, and if the players’ characters died, they’d never have the chance to explore it.

They’ll never know it, but I loved it when they outsmarted me.

And when they reached the end of a plotline, it felt like we finished one movie in a thrilling series.

Only…instead of having to wait a year for the next installment to arrive, we simply kept playing.

It’s like leveling up in a video game, only a million times more euphoric.

*

Creating New Characters

In our deep, dark basement (or my dad’s musty living room) I sometimes wonder how many new characters we made. For us, making a new character wasn’t just writing statistics down on a sheet of paper; it was more about inventing a new persona. If the idea behind role-playing is to escape our mundane reality for a while, then there’s no greater method than to step into the mind of someone else.

Elves. Dwarves. Cantankerous old wizards. Midget lizard-folk clerics. Whatever floats your boat.

We played ’em all. Some died. Some lived. Some went down in infamy.

But all will be remembered.

*

Storytelling

Ultimately, gaming (at least the way we did it) isn’t about rolling dice, collecting treasure, or slaughtering goblins. It’s about creating a living world, not unlike a book, into which one can wander for days on end.

For the players, it’s all about exploration. Discovery. Advancement.

For me, it’s about telling a story. And not just a lonely, beginning-to-end tale, but a flexible, ever-changing universe.

Like the butterfly effect, one motion by one player can change everything.

Sigh…

I only wish we could’ve finished the story. We stopped well before arriving at the end. It’s probably my fault for being long-winded.

Oh well.

If reincarnation exists, I’m coming back as a fourteen-year old dungeon master.

With a shitload of Mountain Dew.

*

If you like role-playing inspired stories, go here.

If you like cheesy RPG art, try this.

J Edward Neill

Four Years Later

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

I’m about a month late with this particular article (this is my 212th “regular” blog post). Normally I like to use the beginning of October as my look back at the previous year’s blog posts and point out some of the ones that either got some reaction or others that I felt good about but got overlooked.

***

Behind the Comic – Why Kickstarter?

Insight on why exactly I’m doing a Kickstarter for The Gilded Age. And a snapshot of my feelings a few days before I pulled the trigger on something that determines whether a lot of my time might have been wasted on being a comic book writer.

 

Tales from the Loop – Thoughts about the Best Game I Played at GenCon

Probably the one post that surprised me with how well it did, but really it shouldn’t have. If playing the game was as fun as it was, then writing about the game should have had the same amount of excitement for it. If I remember nothing else from GenCon 2017, I will remember this particular game and session.

NES Games Left Off The Classic

I wasn’t sure if I would get the NES Classic. Considering how hard it was to find the system, it seemed more like a pipe dream than anything else. But then my old roommate, Mike, got me one. And I was amazed by what was included and a little disappointed by what wasn’t included. With a few tweaks, they could have taken it from a “10” all the way to “11”.

Death of Ideas

An essay about whether or not you should worry about the idea that “There are no new ideas” or “Sequels are killing the film industry”. I’d like to argue that it might not be as big of a problem as you think.

Not Like This

The aftermath of this year’s Superbowl when things were still very raw and my mind was trying to process everything that had happened.

Gotta admit, rereading it was a little rough.

20 Things I’ve Learn at Concerts

After decades of going to concerts in all sorts of venues from the extremely small to full on stadiums, I’ve decided to classify some of what I’ve seen and learned from all these shows. Think of it as a do and don’t do list (you get to decide which one is which).

Interview with a 9 Year Old

Much like everyone thinks that the past was always better than the here and now, so too do they think that the current generation will be the death of everything Personally, I believe it is just a different way of looking at the world. So in an attempt to get to know a tiny bit of insight – I interviewed my 9-year-old nephew.

***

John McGuire

The Gilded Age Kickstarter is still going on. Check it out on Kickstarter here.

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

Free Comic Books for Halloween!

Every year the first weekend of May there is this little thing called Free Comic Book Day. Hopefully, you know about this, but if you don’t it is basically a day where comic stores have dozens of different titles put out from Marvel, DC, Archie, Dark Horse, Image, and just about every other publisher you can think of. It’s a great promotional day where they can give back to their fans and maybe get new people to visit their stores in order to get them hooked on comics!

Starting today (Happy Halloween!) and lasting through the end of November, Instafreebie is running a Free Comic Book Month of sorts (the first one they have ever done) and the Gilded Age Issue #1 is a part of it.

Check it out here (or click the banner above!).

There are 19 different titles you can partake of (it’ll cost you only your email address) and you’ll get access to the pdf of the comic.

It’s as easy as that.

***

John McGuire

The Gilded Age Kickstarter is still going on. Check it out on Kickstarter here.

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

Tales from the Loop – RPG Review

Sometime soon as the week approaches its end, Stranger Things Season 2 will premiere taking with it many people’s weekends with it. Thinking about it makes me turn my thoughts back to Tales from the Loop. I talked about how it was my favorite game I played at Gen Con here, but I didn’t get into much in the way of gameplay details.

Tales from the Loop is about kids. It’s about nostalgia. It’s about playing in a world that King and Spielberg portray.

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Character Creation

Possibly the best part of the game is the character creation. If you are a roleplayer (as opposed to roll-player) then it is perfect for you. Because, more than most games, this one wants you to develop your characters together. It wants you to come up with an idea, but then collaborate to figure out how your kid fits with the other kids. The discussion you end up having serves to help you determine why you guys and gals are actually friends. Each piece somehow builds neatly on what has come before. The game forces you to answer questions about who you are going to be playing, and by doing that, helps to bring to life a more fleshed out character.

You have your base stats where you take your Age and that is the number of points you can put into your primary Skills. Then the Kid types are divided into archetypes: Bookworm, Computer Geek, Hick, Jock, Popular Kid, Rocker, Troublemaker, and Weirdo (though, a little searching on the web can reveal some additional ones players have developed on their own). Each type has 3 sub-Skills they are proficient in, allowing them to devote more points in that particular ability than others (3 is the maximum in your “Key” Skills, where 1 is the maximum in your other Skills).

Next is your Iconic Item. In game terms, it is something that you can potentially use to add a bonus die to a roll, but in character building terms it is that one thing when you were growing up, that possibly identified you as “You”. Maybe it was your badass bike, or you cool jacket, or you cutting edge piece of technology, or…

You get the point.

Then there is your Problem. Problems are the things that all kids have. Think of them almost as a way to grow as a character. It doesn’t have to be solved during a particular adventure, but it is a motivating part of who your Kid is. Which really your Drive. Why are you doing this?

And what is your Relationship to the other players? Was there something in your past that forced you together? Are you siblings or cousins? Parents work together? Share detention most afternoons? All of these are valid and lend themselves to who you are.

Lastly, you have your Anchor. Where the game emphasizes that you can’t really depend on the adults for much help (they are so wrapped up in their own problems), this is the one adult who actually will help, support, and comfort you.

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Oh, one thing I didn’t mention in the Character section is your Favorite Song. We all have/had one. Your character needs to choose one. In my mind, it’s like your walk-up music (and I could see getting a playlist with a group’s favorites and using them as potential story clues).

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The System

Overall the system is pretty easy to figure out. While I have not played the Mutant Zero system that originated this one, it plays very streamlined and well (never seeming to get in the way of the Story you are trying to create).

You have Skills and for each level, you have a Skill you get to roll 1-six-sided dice (1d6). Every “6” you roll is a success. For most things, 1 success is enough to get by a challenge. If you do fail, you can potentially reroll by gaining a Condition (Scared, Upset, Exhausted, Injured, and Broken). Once you have a Condition, you have a minus 1 dice for your rolls until you get to a safe space (with an Anchor or potentially you Hideout).

The only time this gets tweaked a little bit are the BIG challenges (a Climax of the current story being one possibility). It is then that the Kids have to beat a particular number of successes as a team. Each one (or each subgroup) needing to accomplish a series of tasks in order to prevail.

And while Kids Can’t Die… they certainly can fail.

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Location

While the game comes with both a Swedish Loop and an American Loop, my guess is that many campaigns will end up creating something a little more in their backyard. For a GM, those old memories of where the old tree fort in the woods actually lies should only help integrate everyone that much more within the game.

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Mysteries

The last half of the book is for the Game Master. One is more of a sandbox style where it sets up a number of possibilities to explore with various Hooks for the players and NPCs to interact with. Past that are 4 scenarios  (“The Four Seasons of Mad Science”) that can be played as one-shots or as part of a larger campaign. From my various readings online, it seems the majority can be played in 3-4 hours each.

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Overall, what is great about the game is that you can make it your own. Whether that means setting it up in the town you grew up in or inserting NPCs from your childhood or even dialing back a bit on the technology presented by the Loop and focusing more of the strange and unusual within the town/suburbs – you make it your own. And as the players get involved they help expand it into something that is everyone’s.

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John McGuire

The Gilded Age Kickstarter is still going on. Check it out on Kickstarter here.

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

 

Steampunk Fridays – The Gilded Age Interviews

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

I knew around this time last year that at some point during 2017 I would need to run a Kickstarter for The Gilded Age. There was too much printing needing to be done. Too much trying to figure out how to spread the word on the book.

I’ve said over and over comics are the most collaborative thing I am involved with. Which meant that I had any number of people who I could interview who I directly worked with. Maybe take a minute or two to showcase them a little bit (and let me get to know them as more than maybe a Facebook page or an email address!).

Here are the people who brought The Gilded Age to life:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Artist – Interview with La’Vata O’Neal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Artist – Interview with Nimesh Morarji Part 1

Behind the Artist – Interview with Nimesh Morarji Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Artist – Interview with Sean Hill Part 1

Behind the Artist – Interview with Sean Hill Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Artist – Interview with Antonio Brandao

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m still trying to get the rest to answer the long list of questions I had for them. I’ll update this post as I get them.

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John McGuire

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

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

Kickstart the Comic – Gilded Age: Vol 1 – A Steampunk Graphic Novel

As I wrote last week, this Kickstarter has been a long time coming for me. There have been many late nights struggling over scripts or waiting for edits or all those moments receiving a new piece of artwork – it has built to this.I’m hopeful this is the next step in being able to tell stories within the comic book medium.

I love writing about these characters. I’m hopeful this is the next step in being able to tell more stories about them. And I’m looking forward to meeting the other members of The Gilded Age who have not appeared yet.

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The Gilded Age

From Terminus Media

John McGuire – Writer

Sheldon Mitchell – Artist

António Brandão – Artist

Sean Hill – Artist

Rich Perotta – Inker

Tom Chu – Colors

Nimesh Morarji – Colors

Lavata O’Neal – Graphic Novel Cover Artist

Khari Sampson – Letterer/Copy Editor

Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, November 17, 2017 at 11:59 PM EDT.

 

The Pitch:

We are raising funds primarily to get the Graphic Novel, The Gilded Age Vol. 1, printed. 100 pages collecting the first four issues of the comic book.

The Story:

The Gilded Age is about a group of performers, the Branning Troupe. Half actors and half carnival folk, the group travels throughout the countries of Victorian Era Europe. For some it offers a direction to their lives, others get the adoration of the crowds, and the rest find simple refuge from a world which has cast them out.

Each story would be done-in-one. They would tell stories that could be enjoyed by anyone picking up a random issue. The issues would have overlapping characters, but by and large, each issue would focus on one or a pair of characters.

The key would be that I was slowly building up my world. And making the readers care about various characters by giving each the screen time they deserved. And by doing this I allowed for different types of stories within the same world. Whether that is Western or Horror or a Heist or something Fantastical, the hope has always been to build the world from the character’s eyes rather than try and hit you with one thousand years of history.

The Gilded Age – Issue #2 – Page 12 – Pencils – Sheldon Mitchell – Inks -Rich Perotta – Colors – Thomas Chu

 

John’s Thoughts:

Comics have always been this way to connect with stories. Even before I was a “book reader”, I devoured comics. As the years went by, that never changed. I’m sure many of you have that same thing where you just can’t get something out of your system. Whether it is the collaborations or the characters or the universes or the ability to tell a story with a limitless visual budget or a way to connect to a younger version of myself…

I think it is all those things and a thousand others. I think it is about someone holding something your brain thought up and thinking – “Hey, that was pretty cool.”

However, the path of the indy comic creator is full of potholes. Money runs out, print runs don’t happen, and you’re constantly torn between this odd thing of people devaluing your work (“It costs how much!?!”). This Kickstarter will help push the comic to a place where it can start funding itself… hopefully into an issue 5 and 6 and 7 and…

The Gilded Age – Issue #3 – Page 5- Art – Antonio Brandao – Colors – Nimesh Morarji

The Rewards:

The Kickstarter is for the first trade of the series which collects issues 1 through 4. There are the options to get either a pdf or the print version sent to you. At the $40 level there is a chance to get the anthologies Terminus put out in the past. At the $60 level there is an opportunity to not only get Gilded Age but also Route 3 (if you missed that Kickstarter).

If being drawn as one of the Gilded Age Carnival Folk is more your style, there is an opportunity to do just that at the $300 level.

The Verdict:

Obviously, you should give this one a try, but I might be biased about such things (*might*).

Seriously though – so many comic book Kickstarters are looking for funds to even come into being. That is a different kind of crapshoot as you can never be 100% sure the book is going to be completed. This is a FINISHED trade. All this money is going to print costs just so that I can get this out there and into people’s hands.

The Gilded Age – Issue #4 – Page 4 – Art – Sean Hill – Colors – Nimesh Morarji

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I’d like to thank you in advance for checking the project out! For more information on The Gilded Age, check out the Facebook here. If you’d like to know more about the rest of Terminus Media’s comics, check out their Facebook here.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age which is currently LIVE on Kickstarter!

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list to keep up with all things Gilded Age.

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

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

 

Behind the Comic – Why Kickstarter?

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

 

I’m worried.

Only a few days from the beginning of The Gilded Age Kickstarter, and I can’t help but be worried. Have I done everything I could have done? Will people show up and pledge? Will I make my goal? What happens if I don’t make the goal?

What happens if I do?

Over this last month, I feel like I’ve been living Kickstarter. Trying to listen to podcasts or check websites or just view as many comic book Kickstarter pages as I can to glean ideas on how they laid out their pages. Or how they did their reward levels. Or a thousand other pieces. Why did this one project fail while this other succeeded? Is there any reasoning and logic behind what I need to do?

For those who might not know, Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform. It’s a place where creative people seek an amount of funding from a large amount of people to help turn their ideas into reality. Basically, if you have an idea for a product you can take it directly to the public to see if they might want to invest in your idea.

If you check out the site you can find anything from coolers to headphones to apps to novels to movies and everything else you might be able to think of. If you have an idea, then maybe you don’t need to go onto Shark Tank and pitch your idea to a bunch of millionaires. No, maybe you go to the people who might use or consume the product.

It’s funny. All these sites end up saying the same generic stuff over and over:

Have great rewards!

Have a great video!

Show lots of artwork!

Spam your email and Facebook and Twitter and…

DON”T spam your email and Facebook and Twitter and…

Make sure you launch at midnight!

Launch at Lunch!

Make sure you DON’T launch on a Wednesday!

Always launch on a Wednesday.

So you can see why my head might be spinning.

With the campaign I’m launching on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, I’m doing something that feels like it has been YEARS in the making. I’m actually afraid to look and see when the very first “Gilded Age” email shows up in my gmail (April 2009 is the answer). That’s when my very first conversations began when I first saw that Steampunk Cowboy image from artist Larry Watts.

Independent comics are a lot like herding cats who are being chased by dogs who are being examined by aliens who are from a long-lost civilization no one’s ever heard of before.

By that, I mean there are different personalities to interact with. I’ve long said the best thing about comics is the collaborative aspect of the medium. As a writer, you need each and every one of the people to put in a piece of themselves or it just won’t work. It means sometimes waiting for people. It means sometimes people waiting on you.

And it means producing the comics and then selling them.

The problem is that our model was to do digital versions of the comics but have a short print runs for conventions. And sometimes that meant we’d sell out of a particular issue waiting to reorder the books.

Kickstarter is a potential answer for those problems. Since The Gilded Age is done, this is about covering the printing costs. Really it’s like your preordering the graphic novel… with some potential bonuses.

Funding this is about everyone who had a hand in the creation of this comic. Too many times have I seen projects get started only to die before anyone ever gets to see them. I want to continue this journey and tell more stories and collaborate with these creators who have impacted the better portion of a decade of my life.

Hopefully, you can help me do just that!

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Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

31 Days of Horror – Part 2

Continuing with a month of creepies and crawlies…

Part 1 is here.

Day 4 – Maggie

(currently streaming on Amazon Prime)

Directed by Henry Hobson – Staring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin

A slow burn with this one. To be honest, it really does take about 30 minutes for the movie to get going, but once it did I was more than glad that I’d stuck around for it. Maggie is more about the slow deterioration of a person than about the actual jump-style scares. It’s about the horror of your body being eaten away by some fiendish virus. About knowing that someone you love is slowly going to lose control, but that you need to/have to stick by them until the very end – no matter what that means.

Day 5 – The Thing (2011)

Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen – Staring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton

On a day when a different sequel to an older 1980s movie was being released, I opted to go with a different sequel… uhm prequel. This version of the Thing decided to go back and tell the story of the Norwegian Base seen in the 1982 film. It dwells a bit more on the alien nature of the creature since they are the ones who dig it up in the first place. However, because of this immediate knowledge that there is something among them, the whole aspect of “it could be any one of us” is probably not played up as well as they could have. Many times the creature seems to reveal itself when discretion might have been the better option. My guess is that they wanted to go a bit more on the monster horror movie side rather than a purely psychological one.

I still enjoyed it, and you can tell they went to painstaking efforts to try and match everything you saw in the original with what you were seeing there. Though, it had been long enough since I’d seen the 1982 film, that some of them escaped me, until…

Day 6 – The Thing (1982)

Directed by John Carpenter – Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and Keith David

A cheat, as I have seen this movie, but since I was on a Thing kick, it only made sense to watch this version. The dread of the unknown, the whole “who can I trust” is very much on display in a way you don’t always see pulled off very well. Even remembering what I could about this one, I still got to play along with the characters trying to determine who might be the Thing and who might still be human.

The ending is just about the perfect answer to the question and takes on a slightly different feel having read The Things earlier in the week.

***

Not quite the 7 days worth of scares I set out to do, but I’m all for getting some of this back on track as we approach another weekend.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

31 Days of Horror – Part 1

Every year I want to make October something cool. I want to watch as many horror movies as I possibly can. I want to fill the excess time with scares and vampires and zombies and whatever monster lives under my bed.

Yet, every year, I look up and it’s basically Halloween.

But not this year. This year I’m determined to do something every day. Whether it is a movie or a short film or a short story or a game or whatever… I’m going to embrace it!

Day 1 – Honeymoon

(currently streaming on Netflix)

Directed by Leigh Janiak – Staring Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway

There are four characters in this movie and two of them only appear for about a total of 5 minutes of screen time. The entire focus of this movie is on the newly wedded couple who have gone to her cabin in the woods for the week. A week of isolation, and sex, and fishing and strange lights outside, and wandering around in the woods and…

But really, this movie owes more to something like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Gaslight than anything else. It is really about how much do you know the person you’re with. And if they act “strange” is something actually wrong with them or is it you, being paranoid. As the viewer, you are there with Paul, trying to figure out if there is something legitimately wrong with Bea or if we might be dealing with a situation more different than we think.

This is one of those movies where I enjoyed it right up to the end, but the coda was probably unneeded in its present form. Definitely worth watching if just for the slow build of things being just wrong.

Day 2 – The Things

By Peter Watts

You can read this short story at Clarkesworld for free here.

If you have read John W. Campbell, Jr’s novella Who Goes There? or seen John Carpenter’s The Thing, then you might have an idea of what this short story is about. But instead of a strict retelling from another of the humans, this is from the POV of the Creature.

Watts does a great job in almost making The Thing into a sympathetic character who is as confused about our world and our ways as we are of it. There is true anguish as it tries to decipher what it can about humanity’s nature, why we would choose to become stuck in one form, and all the ways it thought it could potentially survive the encounter.

If you’ve seen the movie, Watts also has an answer about who might have been human and who might have been a Thing at the end.

Day 3 – Vicious

Written, directed and produced by Oliver Park

You can watch Vicious on Youtube here.

There isn’t anything unique about the story. A girl is alone in her house… or is she? Even if we’ve seen that movie a thousand times, when it comes to the horror side it really boils down to, is this thing scary?

Yes.

Through the use of the soundtrack, slow shots, a couple of jump scares, and an occasional camera shot that is just off-center making you watch the background more than any character in the foreground.

It has a viewing suggestion that I will echo here: watch alone, in the dark, with headphones.

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Three days down, many more scares to go.

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John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Kickstart the Comic – Frankenstein, Texas

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

Let’s get a jumpstart on it.

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

From Dan Whitehead

Dan Whitehead – Writer

David Hitchcock – Artist

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

The Pitch:

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

The Story:

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

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

Page 1 – Art by David Hitchcock

John’s Thoughts:

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

The Rewards:

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

The Verdict:

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

Art by David Hitchcock

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

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John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

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

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

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Westbound: Revolvers and Rituals

From Island of Bees

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

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The Pitch

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

When the soil’s turned sour,

And the well all dried up.

When men in suits put a gun in your hand

And send you to war.

When there’s nothing left of your home,

But ash and regret.

It’s time to turn Westbound.

The Game

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

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

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

Final Verdict

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

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

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

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

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John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Dragon Con 2017 Recap

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

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

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

I still have my signed Amazing Spider-Man 300.

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

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

2017

My big take aways for this year were:

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

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

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

Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

War for Jupiter

Saturday

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

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

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

The highlight question was:

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

A laugh. “Every day… every day.”

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

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

Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

So I suppose I forgive them.

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

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

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

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

 

Gen Con 2017 Recap – Part Two

You can read Part One Here.

Day 1 Continued

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

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

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

Egg – So what are you working on these days?

David – Destiny.

Egg – … um, what’s Destiny?

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

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

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

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

Day 2

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

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

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

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

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

There is a reason it won Game of the Year.

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

Do yourself a favor and check out the game.

Day 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 4

Did I mention not to schedule things at 8 AM?

In the morning.

When you should be sleeping?

Because we didn’t make that session either.

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

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

Wrap Up

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

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

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

 

Gen Con 2017 Recap – Part One

You can read Part Two Here.

Before

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

“More games than you can imagine.”

“Artists all over the place.”

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

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

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

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

You know, the adult stuff.

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

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

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

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

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

Day 0

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

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

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

Indianapolis is flat.

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

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

Day 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lil’ Egg Embry Reporting…

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

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

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

***

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Five More Writing Hacks

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

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

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

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

1 – Using a Timer

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

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

2 – Don’t edit while you write.

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

3 – Wait to edit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

What writing hacks work best for you?

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

Is Edgar Allan Poe Steampunk?

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

That’s good enough for me!

***

Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1 KS Exclusive Edition

Dwight MacPherson – Writer

Luis Czerniawski – Artist

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

 

The Pitch:

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

The Story:

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

John’s Thoughts:

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

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

The Rewards:

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

Perhaps the lesson is less is more?

The Verdict:

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

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

***

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Interview with a 9 Year Old

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is your favorite person on Youtube to watch?

fudz

Why is that?

He’s funny.

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

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

I don’t know.

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

Well, you like watching them, right?

Yes.

Right. Maybe try a different tactic?

Would you rather watch them or play the game yourself?

Watch them.

Really? Why is that?

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

Finally, now we’re getting somewhere.

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

Most of them I’ve never played.

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

Oh.

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

What’s your current favorite game?

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

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

Unknown Battlefield

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

Yes.

Why don’t you do it now?

I don’t have all the equipment for it.

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

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

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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