My Top 5 – The Avengers

I was reading Avengers before it was cool to read Avengers.

When everyone else was buying X-Men and hoping to get multiple copies of what was sure to be the next comic worth $100 plus, I was a devoted fanboy of not only Avengers but also West Coast Avengers (ok, I have some copies of X-Men #1 from that time as well). While everyone else was busy watching the X-Men cartoon, I was sticking it out with the lesser heroes; you know the guys and gals I’m talking about: Captain America and Iron Man and Black Widow and Hawkeye and…

I was holding the flag for a group of characters that the company itself didn’t know what to do with. It got so bad that when the opportunity arose to have some of the Image Comic guys come back and work on the characters, they wouldn’t dare give them Spiderman or the X-Men, so instead they got the characters not as many people cared about (apparently) – so the Avengers and Fantastic Four were shunted off into another universe where their stories could be told.

Given that the biggest movie in the world (or at least for the year) is opening at the end of the month, it is hard to rationalize those early and not so early days of reading the Avengers. Once Iron Man became a hit and the ball got rolling into the first Avengers movie, Marvel seized on the idea and suddenly where there might have been TWO Avengers titles, there were like 50 titles (and I’m only exaggerating a little bit on that number). For someone who has a copy of issue 9 and a complete run from around issue 140, it became a bit much to try to keep up with.

But two of the first comics I ever bought with my own money were Avengers and West Coast Avengers. Along with Spiderman, these were my windows into the world of comic books. They were the ones whose stories I looked forward to the most every month.

Firestar

Yes, because of the Spiderman and his Amazing Friends cartoon.

But also because when I saw another book on the stands: New Warriors, she was one of the original members. I’d never read her before, but I was struck by how she was someone trying to find her place in the world. Then later, during Busiek’s run on Avengers she got called up to the big leagues. Something about that idea really caught me. Another mutant that the Avengers somehow got a hold of, she (and Justice) sorta acted as the reader’s eyes while they fought alongside the Big Three (Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man).

Scarlet Witch

I think it is partially because when I started reading they (Scarlet Witch and Vision) weren’t a part of any Avengers team, so it felt like a big deal when they did join back up. Wanda has always been a cool character because she has feet in both the X-Men world (what with her father being Magneto) and in the Avengers world. Back in the 90s when it seemed like if the X-Men sunk their claws into you, then your character might never show up in any other book, the fact that she always remained on the Avengers side meant something to this reader.

Even before Bendis had her destroy the Avengers team in Disassembled, even before she wiped out the mutants at the end of House of M, she was this woman who was trying to balance having a family and saving the world and having powers that were probably too much for anyone to handle. She seemed to offer opportunities for storytelling in a way that so many other characters cannot.

Wonder Man

The oldest comic I own is Avengers 9 which features Wonder Man’s origin. He joins the team in that issue, but it turns out that he’s an infiltrator for Baron Zemo to take down the Avengers from the inside. Of course, at the last minute, he has second thoughts and turns on the villains only to perish…

And that might have been the end of it. But in comics, death is not something that lasts. And sure enough, nearly 140 issues later, he “wakes up”.

He’s one of those characters who is tied to so many cool plots and storylines. His brother is the Grim Reaper, an Avengers baddie. His brain patterns were used to bring the Vision to life, making them defacto brothers… which gives him a tie to Ultron. He was “created” by Baron Zemo.

Moon Knight

Yes, Marvel’s “Batman”. He’s one of those guys who is flat out insane.

No, really, he’s legit crazy pants. He has voices in his head talking to him. He develops alternate personalities under the guise of trying to infiltrate the criminal underground and ends up with a fractured psyche. He talks to an ancient Egyptian god: Khonshu, for whom he acts as his hand of vengeance.

I had hopes that he might be the next Marvel character used by Netflix for a new show, but with them pulling their properties back in house (I’m guessing), I’m wondering if that is now more or less likely to actually happen.

Hawkeye

Yes, the Bow and Arrow guy from the movies. When I started reading, Hawkeye was the leader of the West Coast Avengers, and in stark comparison to someone like Captain America or Mr. Fantastic, he led in a very off the cuff sort of way. He was definitely the type of person who leaps, doesn’t worry about where he might land, and somehow makes the best of the fall. And unlike the East Coast squad, he both understood that they might be the “B Team” but he wasn’t going to treat them as such.

Plus, I loved that he had been a villain to start out (one of Iron Man’s villains in fact) that realized he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing, then launched an attack on the Avengers in their mansion, all to prove to them that he deserved a chance on the team.

***

While I obviously dig the Captain Americas and Thors and Iron Mans of the Avengers, the above are the types of characters that, as a reader, you can “claim” as your character. There is something special about that.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

What’s My Brand?

 

This past summer I spent a weekend glued to my computer during an online writing course. It wasn’t so much about the act of stringing words together, but more about the mindset of writing. It was about an idea that perhaps you could Clock Out at your day job if you made enough money from your writings. And it was about some (many steps) which could lead you into that direction.

As a part of this process, I had the opportunity to speak with one of the guys who ran the class. Basically, a way to pick his brain.

You see, so many times you end up in this little world within your own brain where you can get to the point that you’re no longer sure what the best course of action may or may not be. I’m lucky enough that I have a few friends and family to bounce ideas off of, but to get a little perspective from an outside person seemed like a great idea.

So I told him everything I could in the short amount of time we had (20-minute video call). I talked about what things I have done: the comic book work, the Kickstarter for the Gilded Age, the pair of novels, short stories, and the weekly blog. I talked about the idea that I was an extreme “Genre Hopper”.

You see, most smart authors pick a genre (sci-fi or romance or post-apocalyptic or…). You try an write all your books within that box because that way you know someone who liked one of your books is more likely to pick up your next one if it is the same type of idea. People like what they like and unless you are some kind of generational talent (Stephen King), you may only confuse the issue if you keep changing what types of books you write.

Such as writing steampunk comics, an urban fantasy novel, and a dark medieval fantasy… just a great idea all around. Now only if you’d follow that up with a sort of steampunk and a science fiction pair of novels… then you’d be living the dream.

 

I told him all about this, and the current idea I’m working on (that would be a series of same genre works – he says, finally realizing his mistakes). But how do I make sure not to push aside the stuff that is already out there. How do I leverage the pair of unpublished novels on my hard drive?  How do I put myself in the best situation where my work just pays for itself. Maybe even get to only work 4 days a week at the day job?

His answer was to figure out what was my BRAND.

What is it that connects me with all the things I write? Is there one connective force that seems to flow through them? Is there something I’m trying to answer with all my works?

If I can answer that question, it will help me find those readers for all of my products.

So I’ve been wrapping my brain around the question, but I’m not entirely sure. I write things I’d like to read. I write about characters who are trying to rise to the occasion. Those characters who may be flawed, but have some kind of hero within them that may need to be coaxed out. I write about ideas that interest me. What if you could do it all over again? What if you had the opportunity to take the easy way out, would you do it? Why are we here?

Yet, I’m not sure what the right answer is just yet. Maybe there isn’t a grand unifying theory for my brain. But I believe it is time to look and see.

I’ll let you know when I figure it all out.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Kickstart the Comic – 5 Seconds Volume 3 – The Final Countdown

What superpower would you want?

What superpower would be the most useful and which would be as much a curse as an asset?

I’ve done those thought exercises. I’ve had the dreams where I could fly or teleport or read people’s minds. Sometimes it was the best of times and sometimes it was like something out of the Twilight Zone. That’s the thing with powers, you never know what the side effects may be.

***

5 Seconds Volume 3 – The Final Countdown

Writer/Creator – Stephen Kok

Illustrator – P.R. Dedelis

Colorist – Peyton Freeman

 

This Kickstarter Campaign ends on Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at 6:00 A.M. EDT.

***

The Pitch:

What would you do if you could see five seconds into the future?

 

The Story:

5 Seconds is the continuing story of Jake as he discovers what happens 5 seconds in the future. With his best friend Ellie, the two of them decide to test out exactly what Jake can do! Unfortunately, others also find out about Jake’s power and they seek to exploit his unique time-bending skill set!

 

John’s Thoughts:

This is the third volume of the ongoing story about Jake and his dealing with his own gift/curse. As the story has progressed, a Villain has arisen to test our hero.

I like that this is presented as the final piece of the story, but that each of the volumes have been written as stand alones. That is something that may not always be the easiest thing to pull off. Of course, I would think that if you liked one of the volumes it wouldn’t be a stretch to check out the others!

The Rewards:

Here’s the thing, if you only wanted the pdfs of the 3 volumes, you can easily get those at the U.S. $7 level, which feels like a steal. At $60 you can get the print copies of all three volumes. They’ve also provided a “Get Drawn In” to the comic at the $99 level, which is always one of those cool things to have the opportunity to go after. At even higher levels you have a chance to meet the creator or get some original artwork ($212 U.S. for both).

 

The Verdict:

If you are looking for some young adult comic stylings with a splash of action, adventure, romance and a sprinkling of time, you should definitely give 5 Seconds a shot.

***

To find out more about 5 Seconds Volume 3 – The Final Countdown, check out the Kickstarter Page here.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Kickstart the Comic – The Legend of Everett Forge: Issue #3

Man vs. machine.

Normally that would mean that the machine is on its way to replacing the worker. The more efficient machine outlasting the fragile human.

How about a story where the human isn’t going to give up his dreams, his goals, or anything else for a damn machine…

***

The Legend of Everett Forge: Issue #3

Writer/Creator – Scott Wilker

Artist/Letterer – Clickart Studios

Publisher – About Time Comics

 

This Kickstarter Campaign ends on Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 6:30 PM EDT

***

The Pitch:

The Legend of Everett Forge is a Steampunk/Weird West tale set in an alternate 1889 where Machines control the American West. The story follows infamous outlaw, Everett Forge, as he ventures deep into the Machine Territory in search of vengeance!

 

The Story:

SINS OF THE FATHER picks up right after the events of Issue #2. After a brutal showdown with the Angel of Death, Everett Forge finds himself aboard a mysterious airship. Meanwhile, in the heart of the Machine Territory, Omega is hard at work bringing his evil plans to fruition.

 

John’s Thoughts:

Here’s the deal – Steampunk to me is all about that Wild West (Weird West) meets steam tech. It is about man versus machine. It is about revenge and vengeance and old grudges and new problems. Bounty Hunters and gunfights with weapons a bit more powerful than you might find in a regular western.

The Legend of Everett Forge hits those sweet spots in this ongoing battle between “good” and “evil”. But much like any good western, those words don’t always mean that the good guy is anywhere near squeaky clean!

The Rewards:

As this is the third issue of the series, the lower levels allow you to get this newest one to add to your collection ($5 Digital/$10 Print). At the $25 level you can completely catch up on the print comics. At the higher end ($100), you can not only get the comics and posters and stickers but also get a poker chip as well as digital copies of the Godsend comic book (to complete your collection).

 

The Verdict:

Do you like Weird Westerns? Do you like Steampunk? Are you hoping for some potential shootouts between Everett and all sorts of Machine Enemies?

Yeah, maybe this book is for you…

***

To find out more about The Legend of Everett Forge, check out the Kickstarter Page here.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

The Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo – A Review

As I wrote last week, I had a table at the 5th annual ASFE this past weekend.

Most conventions have some kind of fee to gain access to the creators and products within. I remember many years ago discovering that these smaller conventions even existed (this is pre-internet, where it felt like to find anything out about anything took rumour and innuendo and all sorts of luck). And while that one wasn’t all that big and could be walked through in less than an hour, it was cool to be able to interact a little bit with the creators.

I’ve always thought that the ASFE was a little like that except it was completely free.

Obviously, given its location in a mall in the northeast Atlanta metro area, the hope is that people who are going to see the latest Marvel movie decide to swing by the Expo and see what all the commotion is about. What this really means is that you get an interesting cross-section of people who wander through the area. There are obviously the people who know about the Expo and have come to check it out or they know one of the independent creators are going to be there with their wares. You have some people who like to support the local artists. Then you have the people who are completely unaware an event might be going on, but then are almost forced to walk through the area and hopefully, something catches their eye.

Having been there for the first one and pretty much all the other ones in between, it’s been an interesting process to watch. While there certainly has been table growth since the early days, it is more about the other stuff surrounding it where I see the greatest growth. The number of panels over the two days has increased probably ten-fold.

One of the products decorating my table space.

As to the actual interactions with the public, obviously, I am there to get my products in people’s hands. I came with copies of The Gilded Age Graphic Novel, The Gilded Age COloring Book, The Dark That Follows and Hollow Empire novels. And like any convention, you have an uphill battle in trying to convince them to purchase your wares. Of course, with some people, those who want to support the local artists, it really becomes a matter of making sure they don’t walk away empty handed.

Personally, I think I have a decent enough pitch for my stuff, but I’m sure, like everything else, it could use some refinement as well!

And, no convention would be a good one without the ability to see old friends. So many people over the last decade-plus that I’ve gotten to know through the old Terminus meetings or at these smaller conventions or those friends who always come out to support me. It is appreciated beyond what you know!

So that closes out another year of the Expo. See you next time!

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

March 9-10 – The Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo

 

This weekend I will be manning a table at the annual Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo.

Here’s the thing that makes this event so cool – it’s FREE to attend. Located inside North Dekalb Mall, you can wander in, walk through the tables and check out the various wares people are selling. Tons of creative types from artists to writers to cosplayers to comic creators and a bunch of other things I’m certainly forgetting about.

I’ll have copies of the Gilded Age Graphic Novel (something that hadn’t come back from the printers in time for last year’s Expo) as well as copies of my novels.

I’m also doing a panel with Robert Jeffrey II on the tv show Sliders at 4 PM on Saturday. So if you were a fan of the show come check us out.

Check out the website to see what other activities they have going on!

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Kickstart the Comic – Ret:Con Issue #1: A 133art Afrofuturist/Sci-fi Tale

H.G. Wells might have been the first, but since his book, The Time Machine, entered into the world’s consciousness, there has been no limit to the number of stories which focus on or around time travel. So if everyone has already done it before, then what separates the good stories from the bad?

It’s always the characters…

 

***

Ret:Con Issue #1

Publisher/Creator – Jason Reeves

Writer – Robert Jeffrey

Artist – Jordi Perez

Colors – Paris Alleyne

 

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Friday, March 15, 2019 at 11:00 AM EST.

***

The Pitch:

An afrofuturist comic series about The RET:CON agency, an organization tasked with saving the future from the ravages of broken time.

 

The Story:

In a time when artificial intelligence governs the remains of a world ravaged by violent temporal ruptures, the RET:CON Agency is formed to stop reality from falling into entropy. Agent ‘4 am’ is a part of RET:CON’s elite unit, the Slingshotters, whose mission is to breach the time stream to repair the future.

The A.I. designed to analyze and direct the Slingshotters in fixing the ruptures, the RET:CON Engine, requires very unorthodox methods, alterations previously thought to result in a time catastrophe.  4am’s first mission:  infiltrate the Wolfsschanze and Kill Hitler!

John’s Thoughts:

Time-travel is one of those great sci-fi premises. Here we have the ultimate agent of a force who will stop at nothing to see his mission completed. Someone who doesn’t see the flaws in the system. And yet, to be so blind about what the goals are, that seems to be a way to descend into madness.

But that’s not the only thing. You have those who have to manage the minds, the psyche of those who travel through time. How do you begin to put back together a mind who has seen through to other timelines? How do you ever deal with those now false memories?

It’s an interesting thought that I’m looking forward to seeing explored.

 

The Rewards:

What’s cool is that you have the opportunity to potentially get a variant cover right out of the box which features art from Sean Hill, who did the 4th issue of The Gilded Age ($10 Level). 133art also provides a couple of levels for stores to get a handful of copies ($20 level for 6 copies). At the higher levels, you can get the “ultimate 133art print bundle” ($50 level). At the highest end you can get featured in a back-up story where you are a Slingshotter ($500 level)!

The Verdict:

Full disclosure – Robert Jeffrey not only wrote for this site, but he is a good friend. But even if that wasn’t the case he would have had me at time-travel!

Seriously, though, if you’ve ever read Route 3 (and you need to!), you know that the guy can write his ass off. So what are you waiting for?

***

To find out more about Ret:Con #1, check out the Kickstarter Page here.

***

By the way, did you know that I was participating in a Kickstarter for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons focused on Love, Knights, and Enchanters? It is called Love’s Labour’s Liberated. The Kickstarter runs through the end of the month. If you are a fan of roleplaying games, give it a look!

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

YOU – A Review

True love. Pure love. The kind they write the stories about. Those are the tales we hear about. Those are the tales the classics would have you believe might be the only way to capture LOVE for yourself. You merely have to wait for the right guy/girl to show up, and the rest is magic.

But there are other emotions that are like neighbours to Love. Obsession. Jealousy. Insanity.

And that brings me to YOU. Currently on Netflix.

This is how I have sold the show to people: You should watch “YOU”. It’s the story of a stalker from his point of view. And weirdly, you are kinda cheering for him at certain points. Like, I know he’s a bad guy, but she’s got issues as well and maybe, just maybe this is a case of two wrongs make a right? Maybe they should be together?

Yes. I know. That’s completely messed up.

But it is also a testament to the writing on the show. Based on the novel by Caroline Kepnes, which, I haven’t read it, it does an excellent job within the show in making you feel for Joe (our stalker antagonist). They make him human and not just this looming evil that is going to do some very bad thing to someone down the line. In some ways, it is much like watching something like Breaking Bad – you knew Walter was doing some terrible things, but you were still holding out hope for him (or at least I was). Or maybe it was at a certain point that we all knew he was too far gone and then watched to see exactly how far down the rabbit hole he’d end up.

Joe is kind of like that. There are certain points where you know he can’t come back from a particular action, but a part of you (me) was still kind of holding out hope that he’d figure it out. Maybe realize that this wasn’t the way to go about life?

Heck, one of the biggest things about the show is that Beck (the object of his obsession) has probably just as many issues as Joe does. They just come out in less destructive ways. She isn’t treated as this infallible creature who he must possess because she is a “unicorn”, but it is that mutual aspect of them both being messed up that can make you wonder if they aren’t really soulmates.

Just extremely messed up soulmates.

The show is a mystery. At various times I wasn’t entirely sure where we were going to end up. With TV you don’t know if they are going to save a big moment for the last episode. I wasn’t sure if there was going to be a second season and maybe they were going to hold onto a couple of things for next year. They managed to keep the viewers just off enough that when something happened that you weren’t expecting, it wasn’t because it was completely out of the blue. Instead, it was more like you do the double-take and then realize that it made total sense for the path the characters were tumbling down.

YOU –  a study in obsession… and love (maybe).

***

By the way, did you know that I was participating in a Kickstarter for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons focused on Love, Knights, and Enchanters? It is called Love’s Labour’s Liberated. The Kickstarter runs through the end of the month. If you are a fan of roleplaying games, give it a look!

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Review – Shakespeare Tavern’s Romeo and Juliet

I don’t know if I was any different than anyone else in class the first time we were “forced” to read Romeo and Juliet. The language was strange. The story felt too familiar – like I’d seen it a hundred times if I’d seen it once. And the idea that they needed to come up with some elaborate plan of faking death in order for the two lovers (who’d known each other about an hour before Romeo proposed to Juliet). It was just… too much.

But I didn’t hate it. I’m not sure I can fully remember how I felt about it. Just one of those things that you have to do in school. You read it, take a test or two on the material, and move on to the next classic. Occasionally they will lead you to someone becoming a favourite author (thank you Jack London for “To Build a Fire”). Sometimes you realize how much of a non-fan you are (Mr. Dickens, I’m looking at you).

 

 

Weirdly, it was the 1996 version of the play starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes where I think I started to understand the story. Whether it was the modern setting, the delivery of the lines… maybe just hearing the words rather than reading them. Or maybe I was just in a different mindset 4 years after I’d initially read the tale. Maybe I had more knowledge about the idea for the reason I thought I’d seen the story over and over… it was because everyone was using it as a basis to tell a certain kind of story.

And with watching, the nuances of the actors’ performances lend themselves to seeing how even if I didn’t catch every word, I knew what the characters were trying to convey. Those little pieces that are completely missing from a read through.

I probably haven’t seen that version of Romeo and Juliet in over a decade, at least. But the Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta puts on the play for the month of February. Courtney and I had been threatening to go and see a play there (lived here how many years and never went, what’s wrong with us). So we finally made it this past weekend.

Have you ever had one of your favourite songs come on and for some reason, it has a slightly different context than it ever had before? Maybe you hear a group of lyrics for the first time or just are in a different moment in your life… and suddenly the song is different for you. That was this performance this weekend. It was the same play and yet little moments caught me by surprise.

  • The dialogue of Juliet’s Nurse. Multiple times she stole the scene she was in just with the energy she had at the beginning of the play. Later when she has news about Romeo, Juliet calls her old, so she has fun at her expense. Previously I’d thought of the character as someone who toys with the two main characters, but in this, I truly felt the affection she had for Juliet to the point that she put aside her own grief for Tybalt’s death because Romeo was now Juliet’s husband.
  • Mercutio is my favourite character in the play. The movie version is ever in my mind with every line of his dialogue, but in this performance, the role was further defined as someone who loves life, someone who loves Romeo, and someone who would defend his friends until the end. “A plague on both your houses.” resonates with me. The futility of the war between the families.
  • I was struck by seeing the split of the Acts of the play. Romeo is the star of the first part with Juliet not appearing for a few scenes. It was enough where at the intermission my brain was thinking “wow, I thought Juliet was in more of this play.” Of course, the second half is Juliet’s time to shine. The split makes for an interesting compare/contrast that I hadn’t expected to see going into the play.
  • Lastly, Paris and his death in the crypt. I’m not entirely sure I even knew that scene happened prior to Saturday night. So when he appeared, in grief, it adds a bit of weird context to the story. Here was a man who appeared to be fond of this girl he sought to marry. So much so that he asks that Romeo lay him beside her… perhaps he’s not the villain or idiot I’d often taken him for?

Overall it was a great night with the words of the Bard ringing in our ears. I look forward to visiting another of his timeless tales there in the future.

***

By the way, did you know that I was participating in a Kickstarter for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons focused on Love, Knights, and Enchanters? It is called Love’s Labour’s Liberated. The Kickstarter runs through the end of the month. If you are a fan of roleplaying games, give it a look!

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE – POWERED by the DREAMR (PbtA) and Love’s Labour’s Liberated (5e) at Kickstarter’s Zine Quest

Love’s Labour’s Liberated introduces the theme of February, love, into your 5e campaign. Part of Kickstarter’s RPG Zine Quest, this publication focuses on a romanticized view of Cavaliers, Enchanters, Magic Items, and more for the world’s most popular roleplaying game. Each component is designed to be a hook that draws the player into the game utilizing character motivations. This zine will enhance the roleplaying flavor of the classes while offering chances for characters to buy-in to the setting and its challenges.

Focusing on a new version of the fighter archetype, the Cavalier of Love, a 5e-realized Enchanter, and Magic Items with lovely story hooks, these rules expansions ramp up the quiet moments between combat. Each chapter will lead with a stanza of poetry by Leland Beauchamp. These pieces can standalone or be combined as an adventure hook. Through this zine, you’ll experience the creator’s love of roleplaying and 5e, and be able to share it with your table.

Developed by longtime friends, novelist, John McGuire of The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, and the graphic novel, The Gilded Age, poet and gamer, Leland Beauchamp, and RPG journalist, Egg Embry of EN World, Knights of the Dinner Table, Open Gaming Network, and the Tessera Guild, this book is the culmination of years of their experiences with ROLE-playing over ROLL-playing. Available to backers as a $5 PDF or $12 print zine including the PDF, the campaign offers bonuses like the option to declare your love in the zine, create love-based magic items, or even handwritten poems. The romanticized virtues of chivalry, the mystical nature of enchantment, magic love potions, and the passion of poetry all await you in Love’s Labour’s Liberated:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/737521052/loves-labours-liberated-a-5e-rpg-zine

Love’s Labour’s Liberated for 5e by John McGuire, Leland Beauchamp, and Egg Embry. An RPG zine focusing on romance and love in fantasy is available during Kickstarter’s Zine Quest.

Read John McGuire’s thoughts on  here – http://tesseraguild.com/kickstart-the-game-loves-labours-liberated/

#LoveAtTheGamingTable #D&D #5e #ZineQuest #Kickstarter

 

***

POWERED by the DREAMR is a full Powered by the Apocalypse tabletop roleplaying game in a zine, and it’s live on Kickstarter. In POWERED by the DREAMR, you are a Dreamr who possesses limitless powers within other’s dreams. Until you wake, you travel between the subconscious of sleepers, living out their dreams, searching out their secrets, or battling nightmares. Set in a dream state you and your friends collaborate on, this game maximizes the narrative rules to give each dream a surreal quality. As you navigate an ever-evolving universe of dream logic, your Moves will lead to success, reveal hidden truths, result in laughter, or unleash your character’s nightmares.

Using a variant of the Powered by the Apocalypse phenomenon (originally seen in Apocalypse World as well as Monsterhearts 2, Dungeon World, and more), this game keeps dreams vibrant and varied via random questions that alter the fantasy or reveal a characters personal demons. You decide the dream objectives you must complete before the sleeper wakes. Will you combat a supernatural killer? Steal secrets? Defend the sleeper from dream thieves? Inspire a life altering dream epiphany? Live out your fantasy life? Or something wholly original?

As part of Kickstarter’s February initiative, Zine Quest, this project is the solo debut tabletop roleplaying game by RPG journalist, Egg Embry (Knights of the Dinner Table, EN World, Open Gaming Network, Tessera Guild). Available to backers as a PDF for just $5 or $12 for the print zine and PDF. Making an RPG via Kickstarter is his dream manifest and you can share in that fantasy by checking out the POWERED by the DREAMR Kickstarter at:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/eggembry/powered-by-the-dreamr-a-pbta-rpg-zinequest

POWERED by the DREAMR by Egg Embry uses a variant of the Powered by the Apocalypse system. A full RPG in a zine that lets you live out other’s dreams or combat nightmares, it’s available through Kickstarter’s Zine Quest.

#WhatsYourDream #PoweredByTheDreamr #PbtA #ZineQuest #Kickstarter

 

***

Kickstarter’s Zine Quest is live in February. This initiative recalls the nostalgia of the early days of RPGs and their zine culture. Focusing on tabletop roleplaying zines, single-color publications printed 5.5” x 8.5” (folded sheets of 8.5” x 11”). These DIY projects focus on everything RPG-related from adventures, maps, monsters to articles, RPG comics, and interviews. So far, the response has been overwhelming with over twenty projects launched and many more to come. They touch on gaming engines like 5e, Powered by the Apocalypse, The Fantasy Trip, original systems, and more. Zine Quest projects are coming from first time creators to established publishers like Steve Jackson Games, and Adventure-A-Week Games. These high-energy, passion projects await you on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/zine-quest?ref=section-homepage-promo-zine-quest

Kickstart the Game – Love’s Labour’s Liberated

Check out Leland Beauchamp’s, Egg Embry’s, and John McGuire’s 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Zine!

You just never know how something is going to be received. How something may or may not connect with someone else. Or even whether or not the right people will see the thing that you’ve created.

The first part of it is in the creation… the idea. Then you have to do the work and get it out there. And then you have to try and spread the word as best (or better) you can.

And then, when it is all said and done, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.

***

So I am a part of a new Kickstarter:

Love’s Labour’s Liberated.

You can check it out here.

We launched this past Friday and through the weekend were a quarter of the way to our goal.

Launching a Kickstarter means that I get to relive that month of periodically checking to see if anyone else had pledged anything in the last five minutes since the last time I checked the page. 🙂

This project is apart of Kickstarter’s ZineQuest that they are promoting. Basically, they are harkening back to a time where you ordered newsletters from the backs of magazines in an effort to connect with other people, get news that no one else would know, or maybe even new games that someone had created in their basement. You were in a little community.

Of course, in today’s internet world, pretty much any information you’d ever want is right at your fingertips. Do you want to know how to cook a particular dish? No going to the cookbook, just go to Youtube and watch someone walk you through it. Need to know who else was with the Spartans when they held the Hot Gates against Xerses? Just a click away.

This Kickstarter is much more do it yourself. It’s black and white. Approximately 36 pages. And it will be focused on something Egg Embry, Leland Beauchamp, and myself are all interested in: roleplaying the things that happen in between you blowing up things with your fireball spells.

***

Throughout the various roleplaying games that I’ve taken part of, the moments that stick out the most are when the characters really come to life. Normally that isn’t because they killed a bunch of goblins. No, it was because they connected to something within the story. They connected to the characters the Game Master had created in order to try to ground the players to the world. At the core of it all is this connection to Love.

It could be as simple as saving your lost love from the clutches of the evil wizard. Or seeing the loss of a character and wanting to make things better. It’s not about saving the world but instead becomes saving someone’s heart.

***

Image by Rick Hershey. Modified by Egg Embry.

And then there is Chivalry. I like the idea of someone who stands for something bigger than themselves. They have an honor they hold up to show others. It isn’t easy in the games either. A good Game Master is going to put you to the test to see whether you break some truth you claim to have.

The knights of the story books. The ones who go on quests for king and country. Who do their best to make the world around them a little bit better by defending those who can’t defend themselves.

***

Leland had a character in one of our campaigns in college that was maddening in how he played her. Aurora was an Enchantress who almost never cast any spells. She never needed to. He’d have them prepared, just in case, but time and time again situations would come up and he’d find a way around using his powers. After a while I think it became a little mini-game of his to see if he could get through a session without casting magic.

That’s the type of wizard I want to play, someone who is looking at all the angles and making sure they have exhausted every other option before falling back on their abilities.

That’s the type of wizard we want to introduce in the Zine.

***

You never know who is going to potentially read your work. But you hope that someone might read through our Zine and get a little idea here or there to introduce into their own games. Maybe they see a potential angle they never really explored before.

I hope you take the opportunity to check out the Kickstarter.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Unbreakable Glass

I got the call from my former roommate. He kept telling me that I needed to go see this movie. That it was actually killing him a little bit that I hadn’t gone to see it yet. And it was on my radar, life just had gotten busy. So my future wife and I sat down on a weekend night in late 2000 to watch this movie he was absolutely sure I needed to see. I’m not sure if Courtney knew what the movie was going to be about… I didn’t have a clue aside from maybe one trailer.

And then the following text greeted us:

“There are 35 pages and 124 illustrations in the average comic book.

A single issue ranges in price from $1.00 to over $140,000.

172,000 comics are sold in the U.S. every day.

Over 62,780,000 each year.

The average comic collector owns 3,312 comics and will spend approximately 1 year of his or her life reading them.”

Courtney looks at me and says, “What have you taken me to see?”

“I don’t know.”

See, this isn’t like it is now, with a new superhero movie coming to theaters every couple of months. Or that a new tv show premieres every year (and sometimes on multiple networks). It had been a couple of years since the last Batman movie (the less said about that one the better) and X-Men had come out earlier in 2000. But this wasn’t something to be expected.

If you’ve seen Unbreakable you either love it or you just didn’t care. And after all, M. Night Shyamalan had just come off of The Sixth Sense. Unbreakable wasn’t exactly what people were hoping for.

For a guy who was a part of the stats above (only 3,312 comics though? Lightweights!), the movie was this idea that just felt perfect. In fact, when others said they didn’t like it, I was ok with it because it was something for ME and not them.

***

Flash forward some 16 years later and his new movie Split comes out. And it looks interesting enough, but I hear a little mixed reviews. Maybe I’ll catch it on HBO at some point.

And then I read a spoiler about Split: David Dunn (from Unbreakable) is in the movie.

$#@$!

So it’s in the same universe?

And then they announce Glass.

So the week before we see Glass we watch Split. And I get the initial mixed reviews. MCAvoy is amazing in the role. Taylor-Joy gives an excellent show as our eyes and ears. Frightened and fearless at the same time. The movie itself feels like it wants to be bigger. And when we get to the scene that connects it with Unbreakable… it feels right.

 

***

Glass was unexpected. And expected. And everything I didn’t know I wanted.

Glass is something that we’d been asking for since Unbreakable, even if we didn’t know how it could be done. Something a couple of friends could talk about. Come up with potential ideas for storylines that they might follow. But then you’d end the conversation the same way: acknowledging that it might be better to not have anything else. To let this movie just stand on its own as this powerful thing.

And it may be something that needed 18 plus years to cook. For the characters to grow older. For the son to be an adult.

I don’t want to spoil anything in Glass. Like any M. Night film, there are twists and turns. Some hit me with the same force that the ending of Unbreakable did all those years earlier. That understanding which comes with a revelation that is both out of the blue and so obvious at the same time. McAvoy is truly the missing piece to their puzzle.

And much like all those comics upstairs, it did what the best of them always do… it stays with you in the hours and days after you have finished with it. You look forward to when it will be time to give it another viewing. When those pages with burst forth from your hands and burrow into your brain. You’ll look at each moment to see if there was anything you’d missed.

In the way that Glass connects to a time before comics took over everything, you get to relive a smaller world. Maybe even connecting to the you of a decade earlier as you began your journey down the path with that very first comic.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Concert Review: 10 Years

10 Years is among my top 5 or 6 bands. However, it is a clear number 2 for my wife. A few years back I loaded all their music onto her phone so that she could listen to them while working. I think it became a “Huh, these guys are pretty good.” to “Wow, these guys are amazing!” to “Why don’t we follow them around and see every show!”

(Excuse me while I hitch up a trailer to my car…)

But since it took a little bit for her to get into the band, we missed them many times they’ve come to Atlanta in the past. However, a couple of years ago I saw that they were going to play “The Autumn Effect” in its entirety, so we made a point to go and was blown away by both them and the crowd. So when they announced this latest tour would play “Division” all the way through, we were excited to see them again.

The show was downtown at the Masquerade which is located in Underground Atlanta. While the super success of “big-time” arenas and the like might have never fallen 10 Years’ way, you wouldn’t know it from their shows. Jesse Hasek (the lead singer) always feels in the moment. Like he’s convinced that every show they are going to do no one is going to show up… and then when we do, he is very grateful. And this show was no different. They came out with a fury, pausing only at first to comment on the fact that this particular album is a bit more difficult to play live than some of their others.

It was one of those comments that made me think as we watched them move through the heavy portions to the softer ones. There is something about live shows for me that can help illuminate the meanings of songs. I’ve probably listened to these songs over a hundred times a piece, but at some point, I stop really hearing the words. In concert, it becomes a different story as I’m singing along at the top of my lungs, for as long as my throat will hold out. And there are these connections where I think – “oh, wow… that lyric is really powerful” or “this song just became one of my favorites”.

“Division” by 10 Years

Highlights:

The lead guitarist and the keyboardist as the only ones onstage, a pair of spotlights illuminating either side of the stage as they made their way through the lead-in to “All Your Lies” (my favorite song on the album). The build-up is quiet at first, slowly building until a female voice begins to speak. Her voice gets threaded over and over on top of itself as the music continues to grow frantically. It threatens to become a jumbled mess and then it ends… just in time for the song to truly begin.

The pit during “Shoot It Out”. For the first time in a very long time, I felt the urge to jump in and knock some people around. Then I remembered I’m almost 43 with a bum ankle and thought better of it!

Lowlights:

People who decide to record the concert with their phones. I actually don’t care what you do, but maybe step back to a spot where you aren’t completely obscuring other people’s viewpoint.

***

One side story from just before the show went on. Courtney asked me how I originally heard about 10 Years nearly 15 years ago. I pointed over to Egg Embry and said, “He told me it was a band I should check out.”

Of course, Egg has a swiss cheese brain and went, “Really?”

So I went on to tell him that a few years after he introduced me to them they’d come out with “Feeding the Wolves”, their 4th album and I told him, “Hey, you should check out this band 10 Years, they are really good.”

To which he replied, “Yeah, I know. I told you about them!”

So apparently we both have swiss cheese for brains!

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Behind the Comic – Last Stand

I was fairly new to this whole writing thing when I stumbled upon the guys who would eventually become Terminus Media. I talked a lot about writing. I talked about ideas that I had. I thought about ideas and stories and characters… all the time.

But I never did much more than sit down and write a couple of pages here or there. It just seemed too daunting, I guess.

When I first landed with the Terminus guys we talked about writing a screenplay. One of the guys in the group said he might be able to get something in front of someone who knew someone who knew…

(That age-old story!)

So we brainstormed ideas together. We talked and came up with an idea for Smallville (a Superman show on CW for those who missed its 9 to 10-year run). I wrote about that script and the episode that was made here.

The floodgates opened. And then the comics came.

We did a couple of anthologies where I got to first hold something in my hands that included MY IDEAS. And the thing is once you get that taste you go one of two ways. You say “Ok, I’m glad I did that THING, but I am ready for something completely different.” OR you say “This is AWESOME! When are we doing the next one?”

And you suddenly start looking outside the group. We self-published those anthology comics, so now it became time to try to get a story in someone else’s comic. A little bit more validation never hurts.

And then an opportunity came in the form of a Tsunami Relief comic book. The organizers were trying to do something for the 2004 Tsunami which hit the Indian Ocean and destroyed the coastal areas over there. So there was something to shoot for, a way to potentially help others and put another story out into the world.

I had this short story I’d written… not even sure what caused me to write it down. It wasn’t too long, about a thousand words, about a kid trying to save his sandcastle from the rising tide. I initially called it Sand (because I’m not great with titles, apparently?). I wrote it up and then promptly filed it away… and didn’t think about it again.

Until this charity book where it felt like it might be perfect for a 4-page comic. I went to a couple of the artists in Terminus Media as well as another artist and got them to do 1 to 2 pages for the story. And somehow this thing that was just a collection of words in a prose story became this imaginary tale about a medieval castle struggling against the oncoming weather which threatens to destroy it. Soldiers who are trying to save their homes…

And a boy who is trying to save the world he’s created.

Somewhere in there, I renamed the story “Last Stand” and with a little help, I got all the pages ready in time… and… I can’t remember if I never heard back or they turned me down or what. Either way, the story sat there without a home for five or six years. And it wasn’t until Egg Embry got the bright idea to do a self-published book of his own “The Burner” that Last Stand found a home in his issue #3.

***

What’s the moral? I don’t know. I hate when things are left in limbo. It bothers me to have these things that I’ve put effort into and then asked others to do the same. So maybe it’s perseverance? Maybe it is finding the right moment? Again, I’m not sure. But I am happy that Last Stand found a place to exist other than on my hard drive.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Deadly New Cover Art – Lys & the Heart Stopper

Imprisoned as a little girl, Lys awakens in the world’s lowest prison. She’s to become a concubine to a faceless noble in a land far from her native home.

But when fate intervenes, she seizes her only chance at freedom. To save her long lost caretaker, she means to cross the wasteland of Vhur, in which the diseased Iritul have hunted humanity near to extinction.

No distance is too great.

She’ll do anything to rescue her friend.

Even if it means a confrontation with the deadliest human alive – The Heart Stopper.

Resolutions, 2019

 

What did I accomplish this last year?

What am I going to accomplish this coming up year?

Two questions everyone asks themselves. Two questions I ask myself every year in regards to my writing.

Sadly, I always put more on my plate than I realistically seem to have time for… which at the beginning of the year, seems near impossible. I start doing calculations on how many words I might (should) be able to write over the course of the year, and I always fall short. Which is both a good thing and a bad thing. I feel like I should shoot for the moon. I mean, why not try and get projects out there? Why not try and push myself to do a little more than the previous year.  If I just put that I was going to accomplish one writing task over 365 days… ugh. So, I’m going to continue to put lofty goals for myself and probably come up short… but that will also drive me.

 

2018

Gilded Age

The biggest success of 2017 was getting the Gilded Age Kickstarter funded. The biggest success of 2018 was fulfilling the Kickstarter.

Something as simple as waiting for books to arrive becomes a very stressful experience as your target date continues to loom closer and closer. But the books arrived, they looked great, and people who have read the graphic novel seem to like it. The most important thing was to get it in people’s hands and for them to enjoy it. So that’s a huge success!

 

SOUL Mate

I have written half of this book, but it is currently on the backburner due to an event I participated in during the summer that changed my time and writing priorities. I still love the story, and if I didn’t have that pesky need to go to a job and provide for my family, this would have been finished at this point.

 

Noir Super-Hero Short Story

I did submit to a Noir-Superhero anthology late in the year. It was one of those ideas that hit me on my drive home from work one day, and I probably wrote the majority of it that night. I’m hopeful that will see the light of day in 2019!

Untitled Clocking Out Project

I attended an online two-day workshop with the Self-Publishing Podcast guys at the beginning of July. It wasn’t so much about how to write, and more about how to position yourself as an independent writer. Most of my time I’ve been bad about having ideas for novels that have NOTHING to do with the previous one. And while that is a good way to scratch a ton of itches (oooh, I’ll do a Horror novel next!), it puts the author in an uphill battle to get readers.

So I went into the workshop with an open mind and a kernel of an idea… and afterward, I was inspired to start outlining this book which would be a part of a larger series. The initial goal was to have a rough draft done by the end of 2018, which I accomplished on December 29. There is still a ton left to do, but it was one of the bigger accomplishments for the year!

 

Blogging

I continued to get a blog a week done for another 52 weeks. Sadly, due to other writing projects and life events, I had to stop doing the Steampunk Fridays posts. I’m hoping to maybe revisit those this year (perhaps not every week though).

 

2019

Gilded Age

Now that I have books I really need to figure out how to get them to the readers. Which means conventions. Which means I need to figure out which conventions I’d like to go to and schedule them out.

Of course, you can still get a copy online as well, here!

Untitled Clocking Out Project

Finish a second Draft of the first book. Work on Books 2 and 3. My impossible goal would be to have both of those done by the end of 2019 so that I can begin releasing the series in 2020.

 

Hollow Empire 2

Mr. Neill has completed two additional chapters of our world here and here. The gauntlet has been thrown down, so I have been working on my next chapter in spare minutes here and there.

 

Ravensgate

An idea based on a D&D campaign that Egg Embry and I participated in mixed with a desire to have a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly fiction series running on the site. I’m looking forward to reviving that one. Six chapters have been written at this point…

 

Unknown

Because I just don’t know when that next idea will need to be jotted down. I’d think it would be more of the short story flavor rather than anything longer (I certainly have no extra time!).

***

Again, shooting for the stars. We’ll see how close I get this year!

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

A Love For Everyday – 2

Two years ago, I created a homemade book for my wife with all these quotes about Love from our favorite TV Shows and movies and books and then I added to it great quotes about love from history or just great quotes about love from anyone. Last year I shared a few from the book around the holidays and thought that would be a good one to revisit (the original is here).

January 29

If I had the choice of hanging out with anyone in the entire world or sitting at home with you eating pizza watching a crappy TV show, I’d choose you every time.

Scrubs

February 5

For she had eyes and chose me.

William Shakespeare, Othello

March 1

I want a soul mate who can sit me down, shut me up, tell me ten things I don’t already know, and make me laugh. I don’t care what you look like, just turn me on.

Henry Rollins

April 12

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.

Sophocles

 

May 8

You don’t love a girl because of beauty. You love her because she sings a song only you can understand.

L. J. Smith, Secret Vampire

June 23

Heaven would never be heaven without you.

Richard Matheson, What Dreams May Come

July 7

Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

August 25

I can’t say how every time I ever put my arms around you I felt that I was home.

Ernest Hemingway

September 3

It was a great kiss. If one of us had been a frog, it would have had some seriously impressive consequences.

Gilmore Girls

October 13

Every lover is, in his heart, a madman, and, in his head, a minstrel.

Neil Gaiman, Stardust

 

November 1

Face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot.

Mary Jane Watson

December 29

They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true.

Big Fish

 

***

Hope you have some great holidays with those you love.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Five Years In

We actually passed our 5 year anniversary on the site a couple of months ago. Normally, I take some time to reflect on the previous year’s blog postings and highlight a few that either were favorites according to the Site’s Stats or some I really liked that maybe slipped through the cracks. After another 52 weeks (plus a few) that is bound to happen.

Unfinished Business

Some writers keep notebooks of old ideas. Some keep files on their computers of half-written stories and blogs and novels and comics and… Well, at least I do that stuff. And that’s what this is about – looking through your old ideas and trying to bring them back from the brink. However, I wanted to highlight this one because it actually is part of the initial genesis for the novel I’m working on right now comes, in part, from this very blog. But not in the way you might think after reading the blog.

Kindle Worlds Closing

Ever since the show Veronica Mars (which I have written about here and here ) debuted, it has utterly captivated my bride. So when the opportunity to write a story set in the same world was made possible by Amazon – we jumped all over it. The benefit of telling a story together (which we’d never done before) was awesome and being able to make some pizza money for our “work” was just a bonus. Yet, all things must come to an end. While the subject matter might not be the favorite of my blogs, the impact was one of the highest.

The Novels of My Youth: Richard A Knaak

I believe that throughout a writer’s life there are stepping stones and building blocks which lead that person to put words to paper. Knaak’s novels are definitely a few of those bricks which helped me gain a further love of books and world development. It helped me to see that you can create a playground and then have other people get in the sandbox (and see how far I can take the metaphor!). Regardless, it was awesome to be able to shine a little light on another of Knaak’s projects while reminiscing about works that had an effect on my life.

Black Mirror, Season 4 Review

One day I’m going to sit down and rewatch the Twilight Zone and do some blog posts about that. But until I get around to that, I have Black Mirror to talk about (new season has to be around the corner, right?). Hang the DJ immediately became a favorite… though, I’m beginning to believe that all I need from a Black Mirror episode is two people who are in love, are falling in love, or who are desperately trying to regain that love, and I’ll love it. And while every episode isn’t a “hit” every time, the ones that do get there for me are so much better than anything else on tv… it’s not even close.

Not a Review – A Quiet Place

Was this my April Fools post? Who decides to sit down and write a blog post about a movie they haven’t even seen? This guy right here. The trailers impacted me, invaded my dreams, so I decided to write my review BEFORE I saw the movie. Sadly, I still haven’t seen the movie (but it is on the list for the holiday week!).

Stan Lee

To talk about the bricks of my creative life… Stan Lee is one of the largest pillars. I don’t try to put celebrities on a pedestal… there just isn’t a need for that in my life. But I’ve known that there are a handful of people that when they passed would have a big impact on me. This blog was my attempt to put it out there, what his work meant to the 12-year-old me and the 42-year-old me and every age in between.   ***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Legends of Tomorrow

I’ve written about there being maybe, possibly too many superhero shows. As in, I can’t keep up with every single one of them. It feels like I might call watching all those shows a second job unto themselves at this point. All that to say that sometimes choices have to be made.

Cuts had to be made.

Cuts had to be made.

And Legends of Tomorrow was one of those unfortunate casualties from the original trimming. Which sucked. If any show was going to be directly in my wheelhouse it should have been that one. Time travel to different eras, an immortal villain, alternate futures, and a couple of my favorite heroes/villains from the various CW shows: Captain Cold, White Canary, and Firestorm. But by the end of the first season, my wife and I just weren’t feeling IT anymore. And when the next season started we focused on the other 3 shows and left Legends to build and build and build up on the DVR.

Two seasons passed.

Somewhere in the back of my mind there was this feeling that I left too soon. I mean, I’d thought it would have only lasted one more season and then they’d been done with it for good. Yet, here we were. A 4th Season about to begin.

Had I missed something? Had I judged it too harshly? Should I give it another chance?

I fired up Netflix and watched the first episode of Season 2 one night after Courtney had gone to sleep. And things felt a little different. And then at the end of the episode, these guys showed up:

These guys and gals!

The Justice Society.

Damnit! I guess I need to watch another episode to see how this turns out.

Then the Reverse Flash showed up. And Damen Darque. And Malcom Merlyn. And the show seemed to be having a little more fun. And the alternate history stuff was put back to the forefront with our heroes being in charge of “fixing” history.

Over the last month I’ve watched all of Season 2 (liked it alot), all of Season 3 (was even better), and have started Season 4 (which was building up on the DVR again). Multiple times I’ve been watching thinking that “This is my favorite episode.” Then a couple of episodes later: “No, this is my favorite episode.”

Look… they are playing… well, fast and loose isn’t strong enough, but let’s say fast and loose with the rules of time travel. And honestly, I don’t care. You tell a decent story, and I can accept that not everything is going to line up perfectly.

Still, I wanted to spotlight a couple of episodes for anyone who maybe has a Sliders style itch (and much like many episodes of Sliders, you should probably just roll with it):

Raiders of the Lost Art – Season 2 Episode 9

Changes to the timeline mean that George Lucas never became a film maker. Which means that Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark never existed… which means that Ray Palmer (The ATOM) and Nate Heywood (Steel) never get into science and history respectively… which means no powers.

It’s goofy as hell, but for some reason it works.

Moonshot – Season 2 Episode 14

Apollo 13 experiences some problems, Houston! And they are brought on by the Reverse Flash.

Any episode that features a hero needing to team up with a villain or they both won’t survive is fine by me. But the surprising part of the story revolves around Nate and his father and his grandfather. Even when I saw where the storyline was going, it still managed to get me a little bit.

Phone Home – Season 3 Episode 4

If you like E.T. or the Goonies or Flight of the Navigator or Stranger Things and don’t mind that this is a very blatant rip-off of many of those things, then you will love this episode. This is a Ray Palmer focused episode, and while that might have been a bad thing in Season 1, this allows the viewer to see why he is who he is and still let him retain some of his positivity.

Here I Go Again – Season 3 Episode 11

It’s Groundhog Day for one of the members of the team (Zari)!

Nuff said.

I will say that the fact that the way she convinces one of her team mates she’s stuck in a time loop is by referencing Groundhog Day makes this a win all around. Just good stuff that actually manages to give a ton of insight into all the characters.

***

So if you abandoned ship like I did after season one, this is one of those shows that might deserve a second chance.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Concert Review: GHOST

 

This past Friday I went to see Ghost play at the Roxy just north of Atlanta (actually across the street from where the Atlanta Braves now play). A friend had asked if I wanted to go and seeing as how I had heard about 2 songs from them… I obviously said yes.

Here’s the thing about Ghost, they are a Dark Metal or Doom Metal or Heavy Metal Band… I’m honestly not entirely sure. They are definitely all those things, but as I told a guy at work, their stuff is very catchy… more so in my mind than a lot of the Metal I’ve listened to in the past (and still listen to). Even when I was at the show itself, songs I’d only heard maybe 4 or 5 times were already in my head, and I found myself singing lyrics I didn’t even realize I’d known.

With Metal shows, you never know quite what you are going to get. They are very theatrical. And by having 8 people in the band (yes, 8!), it allows them to have a very “full” sound during the show. I remember going to shows in my 20s where everyone in the place was around 18 to 25 and there would be the couple of “older” guys in the back bobbing their heads along with the music. Now enough time has passed that I’m the “older” guy in the back bobbing my head. But at the Ghost show, it was a true meeting of so many different types of people. You had your 18 to 25-year-olds, you had your slightly older metal-heads, your Goth guys and gals, your more straight-laced people, families (mom, dad, and two 13ish daughters right beside me), and even those who dressed up and wore the face paint to match the band.

So definitely one of those shows where you were never going to be “out-of-place”.

The actual show was excellent. They sound pretty much as they do on the albums. And to top it off they played for 2 hours and 45 minutes (with a 15-minute intermission!). Only Pearl Jam has ever matched something like that of all the bands I’ve seen.

Highlights:

There were costume changes, a keytar solo (which is something that I never knew I needed in my life until I saw it – amazing!), a sax solo (yes, these are the reasons they don’t “fit” in a category), a guitar battle between two of the eight band members (Cardinal Copia and 7 Nameless Ghouls), the introduce the band segment (ladies and gentlemen: Ghoul!), Cardinal Copia’s alternate idea for what they should do instead of an encore song (let’s just say that it was very crude and funny and would have broken way too many city ordinances). The lead singer was very personable, interacting with the crowd, and telling stories (i.e. buying time for the band).

The venue had good sight lines. The acoustics were great. In fact, if I was going to see another band there I would look into having seats right on the balcony edge to get the more comfortable seats (see Low Lights for the problem with the seats).

Low Lights:

Probably the introduce the band segment, while funny, with 7 “Nameless Ghouls” to introduce, it went on a little too long.

This has nothing to do with the band, but instead with the venue: the seats we had didn’t fold up, so while you’re standing the back of your legs are constantly banging against them. Plus, if someone is still sitting in the row ahead of you, there was a real danger of me kneeing them in the back of the head (luckily no incidents to report).

Overall:

I’m looking forward to really delving into the records now (you know, listening to them 30 or 40 times in the next month or so!). And looking forward to when they come back to Atlanta.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Kickstart the Comic – Mine To Avenge: Book of Layla #1

Ancient evils… this normally lends itself to fantasy style settings, or maybe some kind of urban fantasy where there is something that will destroy all that you hold dear.

But what if there was a group who had to ensure the evil remained put down? What if you were recruited into such a group? And what if you realized that the shadow war you never believed in was very, very real?

***

Mine to Avenge: Book of Layla #1

Creator/Writer – Robert Jeffrey II

Artist -Matteo Illuminati

Colorist/Letterer – Loris Ravina

 

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Saturday, December 15, 2018 at 3:43 PM EST.

***

The Pitch:

In a time of technological marvels, an ancient evil rises.

 

The Story:

The  little  girl  who  escaped  the  demonic  forces  which  occupied  the  LaLaurie  New  Orleans  mansion  on  a  sunny  day  in  1833,  though,  called  it  something  else:  the  site  of  a  rebirth.  The  little  girl  swore  on  that  day  that  she  would  never  be  anyone  else’s  victim,  and  so  began  a  centuries  long  campaign  of  bloody  revenge.  The  Retribution  Cabal  (RC)  was  born,  protecting  only  those  descendants  of  America’s original sin.  

Now  on  a  cyberpunk  stage  where  technological  wonders  leave  no  place  for  creatures  of  legend,  the  LaLauries  and  their  denizens  reappear,  continuing  their  blood-soaked  quest  for  obtaining  ultimate  power.  Time  will  tell  if  the  remaining  members  of  the  fractured  Cabal  can  stand  as  the  bulwark  between  humanity  and  the  rising  hordes  of  darkness.

John’s Thoughts:

Robert Jeffrey II was a regular contributor to TesseraGuild, where he talked about comics and sci-fi and Sliders (he and I have talked many times about Sliders!). I know that he eats, breathes, and everything else comics. For a long time, we’d tease him by saying “Robert, you’re are on the cusp! Just have some patience.”

Well, in my opinion, he’s no longer on the cusp. He has made it big time, and with this comic, it will only further his empire!

 

The Rewards:

Since this is issue #1 of the comic book, you have the entry-level tiers: Digital ($5), Physical ($10), and then starting at $25 you can either get an alternate cover or a print. On the higher end, you can potentially get a cameo appearance in issue #2 ($100) or you can go BIG and become a character within the story for issues 2-5 ($500).

The Verdict:

Look… if Robert writes it, I’m buying it. That’s been my attitude since I first met him. You should do yourself a favor and check it out.

Plus I’m a sucker for stories which bring that centuries old grudge to bear all over again and again and again and…

***

To find out more about Mine to Avenge: Book of Layla #1, check out the Kickstarter Page here.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Kickstart the Comic – Sorghum & Spear Fantasy Graphic Novel & Animation Short

It’s a strange thing to create a universe from the ground up. Gamers do it all the time without thinking twice about it. They love to explore lands never seen before. They want to introduce you to all manner of people and beasts. How man and machine interact. How man and magic are at odds.

So what other worlds have yet to be discovered?

Sorghum & Spear Graphic Novel by Dedren Snead and Welinthon Nommo

***

Sorghum & Spear – Fantasy Graphic Novel & Animation Short

Creator/Writer – Dedren Snead

Artist – Welinthon Nommo

 

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Friday, November 23, 2018 at 1:13 PM EST.

***

The Pitch:

SORGHUM AND SPEAR is an African fantasy saga about young girls called to serve their people in a time of war during their ages of innocence. For a young farm girl named NAMAZZI who dreams of escaping the sleepy farm village of her birth, her life would be forever changed the day that monsters came there to find her.

 

The Story:

SORGHUM AND SPEAR is centered around the lives and stories of a mythical race of warrior women, known as the AN’FRE, who fight against a legion of demons to protect a rare and ancient artifact known as the LIFESEED. Created and guided by a living goddess known as ESHE, THE ALL-MOTHER who wields the Lifeseed, they have found a rise in power of their foes known as the ABIKU.  The shifting tides of the FOREVER WAR now threatens to end their people, they call upon the last generation of girls to use their hidden powers and skills to save their world and their way of life. Each girl has their own voice and within the war’s final outcome, and their decisions will impact the fate of the ETERNAL REALM.

 

John’s Thoughts:

This is the second Kickstarter for Sorghum and Spear with the first one being for the very first issue. This one is much more adventurous as they are going for a three comic book-length graphic novel.

I was a contributor to the first Kickstarter (as well as an editor of sorts on the script – full disclosure). Even so, Dedren managed to create the entry point into a larger story with that initial tale that made me want to see how the world would open up. And if you’ve ever seen him at a convention, he always has so many prints of the characters… different interpretations of the heroes and villains of the stories. It’s almost as if his brain might explode without getting some of those ideas down. And I believe that is the kind of passion he has for the story itself.

Preparing for Battle by Welinthon Nommo

The Rewards:

There are a number of pledge levels that have some very unique rewards. Aside from the digital version ($10) or the Physical copy of the Graphic Novel ($30), you can help donate to the Ancholi Quarter in Uganda ($50). At $75 level you can get Ancient Coin Jewelry. While at $200 you get to be within the graphic novel.

And there are numerous others that I didn’t list, so do yourself a favor and scroll through the various options.

 

The Verdict:

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Nichelle Nichols was an Executive Producer on the project. I can’t wait for her to lend her talents to the animation.

The project is only a couple of days away from the end of its Kickstarter life and needs just over $2000 (at the time of this writing) to fully fund. If you check out the Kickstarter page, you can see that Dedren has plenty of guest artists on tap for potential alternate covers or new prints (or probably other things I’m overlooking). This is one of those projects where I believe that if enough eyeballs see it, there is no place to go but up.

Eshe the All-Mother by Sheeba Maya

***

To find out more about Sorghum and Spear, check out the Kickstarter Page here.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Stan Lee

I thought I’d sit down and pour out the words about Stan Lee passing. I thought that it’d be easy to put into words what his creations have meant to me for pretty much my whole life. But it turns out that it isn’t an easy task to figure out what someone you’ve never met dying actually means to you.

There was a point in my life that I didn’t read anything other than comic books. If you’d asked I would have told you that books were boring.  Not comics though and specifically the Marvel superheroes. They kept me comfort on rainy days with their adventures. They inspired me to fill a tattered blue notebook with my very first (terrible) stories about a super team called the Threats.

Back when I started collecting comics, Stan Lee wasn’t writing them anymore (aside from the Spider-Man comic strip, I believe). But there was a comic series called Marvel Saga coming out at that time. It was effectively a “history” of the early (1960s) comic stories. And I might not have known it, but Stan Lee had a hand in many of those stories during the founding of the Marvel Universe. For a ten-year-old, it was like having a crash course in comic books. Characters I was slowly becoming familiar with… now I got to read their origins. At the time, I don’t think I would have understood that they had a nearly 25-year lifespan already.

The fun was built in. Lots of articles will talk about how he made characters who had problems just like the readers had. Or that he gave them flaws. Made them more human. And he did do that. But for me, he’d created fun characters I enjoyed reading.

This hobby has gone from niche to people buying 10 copies of an issue #1 in hopes of funding their retirement to bankruptcy and now movies. What’s even more amazing is that I’ve been collecting long enough where the rest of the world has only now caught up to what us funny-book readers always knew: this stuff was never just for kids. It was always for everyone.

It is possible I could have discovered comic books without Stan Lee’s creations. I wonder if my love for the format would have been possible without his influence. Would the medium be something that I have not only dedicated 30 plus years to supporting, but also in creating my own comic books… my own characters.

I’m glad I don’t have to figure that out.

Throughout our lives, there are people who have influence over us that we will never meet in real life. Those people can create things which leave the world in a far better place than it was prior to their existence. Those items floating out there waiting for you to stumble upon them somehow. And others are touched by these things leading them to create and those things only add to a person’s legacy. Like a family tree which grows stronger and stronger with each passing year. It stretches out and up to inspire others.

Stan Lee was one of those people for me. And now he’s gone. But I can’t feel empty because he’s filled my mind and heart with so many stories and ideas.

Thank you, Stan… for everything.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

You Only Need One

I started to write this post about being a writer when I realized it applied to more than just writers. Then I was going to include artists, but that was still too narrow a view. Then it was about including all the creatives… still it felt like I was forgetting people.

So this probably applies to everyone. I think, but I’m thinking about the writing thing…

You only need one moment of one person believing in you. That one pure moment where there is no judgment, only encouragement. And weirdly it can come at the oddest of times throughout your life. Sometimes it is there when you are struggling to find a foothold in this crazy life you’ve made for yourself. Sometimes it comes in a more normal fashion, you provide someone with your work and they say something that just strikes to the heart of things.

No matter what it is or how it happens, you are left with that feeling of being full. Knowing you are on the right path.

You see, writing is a lonely endeavor. Whenever I’m telling others about it I always mention that there are many nights of you vs. the blank screen. You are shouting into the void with your strings of letters. And deep down, no matter if you think it is decent, you still need someone else to take a look and validate what you have done. Validate all the hard work into this THING. You can’t get discouraged when you don’t have that, but those pure moments are some of the greatest ways that you are doing alright.

In the end, you want the thing you have done… the thing you have created, being used or read/viewed/etc. If no one sees it and no one knows it exists, then how are you ever going to be better off?

Those small victories. The tiniest ones. Those are the ones you have to celebrate because you don’t know when the next perfect sentence is going to spring forth from your brain. You have to cherish them because the Writer’s Block Beast is always around the corner to take away those ideas and confidence.

This isn’t profound information. This won’t change your world. But it isn’t supposed to do such things. This is about allowing yourself to feel good about the things you’ve done and maybe even cut yourself some slack on the other things… those you haven’t done.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Who Goes There?

While we do spotlight many different RPG and comic Kickstarters on Tessera Guild, we don’t tend to focus too much on board games. Mostly that’s because (at least for me), I don’t end up buying very many board games through the platform. However, last year I saw a game that intrigued me to the point that I had to contribute:

Who Goes There?

If you’ve seen John Carpenter’s The Thing or the original The Thing From Another World then you should know that the story originated from John W. Campbell, Jr.’s novella: Who Goes There? The novella sets the stage of researchers in Antartica who come upon an alien creature who has the ability to consume and replace those it comes in contact with. Paranoia runs rampant. And the big question is who do you trust?

 

That’s what the game is focused on as well. That idea of having a game begin to capture whether or not you can trust the other players or if perhaps you are the only human still alive. I watched some of the play videos where players were having to make game decisions based on whether one person or another could be trusted or not.

And for the first time since it arrived, I was able to break it out for a few friends.

While I don’t want to get into a full play by play of the game itself, the breakdown is that each character has different strengths and weaknesses. McCready is better at surviving the cold. Kinner (the cook) is able to subsist on snacks as opposed to full cans of food. Others might have a dog companion or be able to heal injuries sustained in the game. Throughout your turns, you are gaining items (cards) to build weapons and other supplies to help you survive.

And through it all, you have to be on the watch for The Thing. Up until the first person has to draw from the “Vulnerable” card pile, everyone is human and can be trusted. But as soon as that first Vulnerable card is drawn, you no longer are able to know if that person might be infected or not. It takes the game from a cooperative love fest to a game where you might just be on your own until the end game – where you have to board a helicopter and hope you haven’t allowed any infected to go with you back to humanity!

On this first go through, we actually didn’t get to play a full game (ran out of time and had a prior engagement). However, even playing about 1/2 a game, we could all see the potential for certain strategies and how we might end up playing on a second time through.

In addition, we couldn’t help but talk about the inspiration for the game. Which intrigued my wife (who hasn’t seen any of the versions). Which leads us to tonight. While we hand out candy, we will be watching Carpenter’s The Thing. I’m hoping that we haven’t built it up too much for my wife. Fingers crossed.

To learn more about the game Who Goes There? click here.

In addition, if you want to read the original novella, there is actually a Kickstarter for the original full-length novel that was trimmed down into the story we all know. You can find Frozen Hell here.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

Halloween Costume Ideas

They’re everywhere. Little kids dress up like them. Adults sometimes dress up as “sexy” versions of them. Every week there seems to be another one appearing on the theater screens.

Superheroes.

Yeah, I love them, but when it comes to Halloween, it is always the same things. Spider-Man or Superman or Batman or Wonder Woman or… just the same characters over and over.

But what if you could be a hero/villain that no one has heard of? You could be on the beginning of the bandwagon for once! Plus, if they had easy enough costumes, then you wouldn’t be out tons of money.

So here are your newest inspirations to make everyone ask: Who the hell are you supposed to be?

Turner D. Century

Are you a man? Can you grow a handlebar mustache in the next week? Do you have white pants and a striped jacket and look like you stepped out of the early 1900s? Then I have a villain for you!

You see, apparently, Turner is not a fan of “modern times”. He longs for the days of his great-grandfather’s youth. When women couldn’t vote and everyone was hoping the Titanic would make it across the ocean in one piece. A simpler time before the century of wars. He longed for those days so much that he tried to send San Francisco back to the stone ages and then rebuild that glorious society once again.

Spider-Man stopped him, have no fear.

Crazy Quilt

I know, we all have those blankets our Aunt Bertha knitted us. We have a smile on our face when we open the gift (“You shouldn’t have!”), and then it gets stored in the upstairs closet until there is a snowstorm and we lose power. Otherwise, it is never seen again.

Well, why not dig out that bad boy and give the gift one more ride!

If anyone asks, you can tell them that you can use it to send powerful laser beams (maybe bring a laser pointer too?) which can blind, kill, confuse, and possibly control other people. However, if Batman or Robin are at the same party, you should get out of there… because Robin is your arch-nemesis.

Peek-A-Boo

Do you like to roller skate everywhere you go? Do you often think that life can be solved by going as fast as humanly possible on those skates? Then maybe you should give Peek-A-Boo a go!

When asked about this one, you can always go with the idea that you can teleport as far as you can see, making you theoretically as fast as… The Flash (yeah, I don’t think so).

Still, she only got into villainy because she needed to steal a kidney for her father.

Madame Fatal

Not in the mood for villainy? Looking to put a use to your grandmother’s clothes? Here’s a hero:

Richard Stanton decided that he needed to go undercover to infiltrate a gang. So what better way to do just that, but as an old, elderly woman with a cane? Apparently, gangs were just letting in the elderly left and right in the 40s.

Dazzler

Are you a fan of the 70s? Do you have the platform shoes? The white bell bottoms? Maybe even an outfit that might be better featured on Saturday Night Fever? Then she’s the hero you’re looking for. It’s not that it is a bad costume, but instead one very much of the time she was created. However, the nice thing is that Dazzler goes with the current trends, so you could always update it to a modern pop-star and be fine… as long as you’ve got some glitter for your face!

***

These are the types of costumes you don’t have to do much more than go up into your attic/ down to the basement or maybe raid a thrift shop somewhere. And then you too can become part of the superhero craze!

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

 

Kickstart the Comic – Arthur Blackfrost

Curses and horror go hand in hand. Whether it is something that ensures you live forever as a rotted corpse or it foretells how you are going to die, they become all-consuming for those afflicted. A disease of the soul, which ensures nothing else can be well and good until it has been lifted.

And that might be the worst part, trying to figure out how to remove it.

***

Arthur Blackfrost: A 72-Page Dark Fantasy Graphic Novel

Writer – Justin Gray

Illustrator – Laura Rimaszombati

 

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at 10:00 AM EST.

***

The Pitch:

A remote fishing village – surrounded by vast seas and faced with a magical heritage, he never knew existed, Arthur Blackfrost will discover some folktales about his island home are true… and could be the key to breaking a centuries-old family curse or… make it much worse.

 

The Story:

After his father abandons his family, a young fisherman named Arthur inherits a curse that has plagues his bloodline for generations. On the eve of the annual fishing tournament, Arthur begs the spirit of the ocean for help. What happens next changes the lives of everyone in Gull Harbor and unravels the mystery of the Blackfrost Curse.

 

John’s Thoughts:

When I clicked on the Kickstarter Page, I was struck by Laura Rimaszombati’s artwork. In the introduction, Justin Gray invokes stories like Coraline and Corpse Bride, and while this artwork isn’t that, it has a fantastical feel to it right away. It reminds me of various pieces of art and nothing at the same time. And seems perfect for the type of story Justin Gray has laid out in the Kickstarter.

The Rewards:

Overall, this is a pretty straightforward Kickstarter when it comes to Pledges. You can get the book in digital ($10 level) or paperback/softcover ($20 level) or hardcover ($30 level). There are also opportunities to double down with Arthur Blackfrost and and all-ages novel The Adventures of Penelope Hawk ($40 level). The one higher end Reward Level ($120) has not only the hardcover of Arthur Blackfrost but a “box full of Hardcovers and paperbacks predominately from DC Comics” – which is one way to start up your Justin Gray collection!

 

The Verdict:

I feel like you just need to look at the images and ask yourself if you want a dark fantasy graphic novel to sit on your shelf. Something with great looking artwork and a compelling story? Is that something which might interest you? 🙂

***

To find out more about Arthur Blackfrost, check out the Kickstarter Page here.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Free Short Story by John McGuire – And I Feel Fine

In honor of everyone’s favorite month of scares and strange, I present:

 

* * *

And I Feel Fine

 John McGuire

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 11, 2019.

 

Huh… I guess the Mayans were right after all.

That was my first thought when the end times came. You might have expected screams or crying or begging… basically any of the five stages of grief. But no, that’s not how I work. I’m too worried about ancient prophecies coming true rather than the immediate need to extract myself from the situation.

Typical.

Oh, sorry. I should probably be a little more official in how I do this. I mean, I activated this recorder for a reason right? My grandmother always said that when you cut corners you only hurt yourself. Or was it when you skip steps you bounce… no, that’s not it either. Damn, can’t remember. I guess it doesn’t much matter.

Still, always better to be official.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 12, 2019.

 

Seven years after the big one. Though, you might say that’s a bit of a misnomer. Really, I should say seven years after the first one. That would be much more accurate.

So why am I so calm?

It’s a question I ask myself all the time, honestly. I should be a screaming mess, running around, panicking… or whatever it is a person is supposed to be doing. This, if you think about it, is the strangest thing you could possibly even think. I’m saying I should act normal… when the world hasn’t acted normal in quite some time.

Either way, once you lived through a dozen or so cataclysmic events in your lifetime, what’s the difference? Wait, what am I saying? You probably know exactly what I’m talking about.

I guess.

I mean, I’m not yawning about it, but if it is my time… well, what the hell am I supposed to do about it?

I remember that first morning after it happened. Heaps of clothes on the ground, cell phones lying on top of the piles, drinks and food once being enjoyed now serving only the scavengers and ants. News spread fast, and all over the world it was the same scenario. People had just up and disappeared.

Nothing brings out some religious nuts like a good mystery so we heard lots of claims about how God had finally had enough with us screwing up the Earth. That he had taken his faithful up to Heaven and abandoned the sinners.

Maybe that was what happened. The rest of us poor schmucks biding our time until the absolute end.

I always thought it strange that things got back to normal so quickly after that. Don’t get me wrong, there were still tons of things we had to deal with. Family members lost and gone and all of that. But it was a shared grief. Everyone knew at least one person who disappeared…

It bound us together.

And when you think about it, percentage wise, there weren’t a lot of people taken. Then you had that scientist make the claim that it was spontaneous combustion. Had all sorts of charts and graphs to back up his theories. Like anything else, you can get scientists to say anything if you pay them enough. And I gotta believe the governments of the world didn’t need some kind of religious fervor let loose… hence the combustion theory. I didn’t buy it, but it seemed to calm a lot of people down.

People just want to believe.

I was never a big one on the Bible, but I have wondered, how many people survived the flood? I remember that he brought two of every animal, but he also brought his family.

Is that right?

Well, it couldn’t have been all that many. We may be getting down to that number here shortly. Assuming we haven’t already reached it.

To be honest, I’m not even sure who this message is for. For all I know the amount of humans left in the world could be down to a few dozen. And I think that I read somewhere that you’d need a minimum number of potential breeders to be able to restart the human race. Something about genetics and inbreeding.

What really sucks… ok, what really sucks more is that you know it is coming, but there is nothing you can possibly do to stop it.

And folks thought Global Warming was bad. Oh no, we’ll be dead in hundreds of years.

I’d kill for Global Warming. I could do it in my sleep.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 13, 2019.

 

It was a zombie uprising last year, and I have to say, putting down Johnny in front of his mother may have been one of the least happy days I’ve ever had. Man, did that woman have a set of pipes on her. My ears still ring sometimes when I’m getting ready to go to sleep. For most people they get the ear ringing from loud music, me, I get it from the unholy screams of a woman whose son you just killed.

For a second time.

Whoever is out there listening to me blather on about all sorts of horrible things… I just want to say that I don’t mean to be so callous. I really don’t. Mostly I blame others and that seems to get me through the days.

Dreams of alcohol get me through the nights.

The thing they don’t teach you in school is how to be all right with it all. We study history, but what is history? Just a series of horrible events, and then we answer questions about dates. But, we never learn what it really means. Those people who died in the Black Plague, we know the numbers, but what about the survivors? When they thought the world was ending, did a bunch just take a knife to their throats and end it all? Those that didn’t, how did they find the internal stamina to keep going on?

This is the stuff that keeps me awake at night.

I need a drink.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 14, 2019.

 

The worst part is the waiting.

Or maybe the worst part is the loneliness?

I mean you really can’t trust anyone these days. I get a knock on the door, hoping it is the pizza delivery order I put in a decade ago. Maybe the guy just got lost? But no, it’s some random scavengers.

Oh, they tell you they’re nice, but sure enough, it is just more of the same crap. They’re trying to take your stuff, or they want to infect you, or whatever.

Hey! It’s not as if it’s my fault Dad was a nutbag who not only stocked his shelter, but had a shelter to begin with. What did you expect? They had to have bomb drills when he was in elementary school. Duck and cover or some such shit. Like any of that would save you from the mushroom cloud shape filling up the horizon. But it was something for them to do, and I have to think doing something is better than doing nothing. My grandfather raised him with plenty of stories about the Soviets, which would be enough to make any kid a little nuts.

So he went out of his way to ensure that this place, this bunker, was full of everything you would need to survive whatever came. Food stores, a way to replenish the water supply through extra deep wells, exercise equipment, all sorts of entertainment, and just about anything else you could think of. He didn’t know if he would need to be down there for a year or ten, so he prepared.

I want you to know something; I did my best to save everyone I could. I invited the good ones in, and I invited the bad ones in.

No matter what, I learned that people end up as bad ones most of the time.

Except for Ian.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 15, 2019.

 

You know I am making up these dates, right? I have no way of knowing what the real date is. This camera says May 15, 2019 on the little display, but how do I know it hasn’t been reset or rebooted? There aren’t any new patches to update the damn thing, that’s for sure.

They say that in a nuclear Armageddon the only survivors would be cockroaches. I think that statement is wrong and sells us short. The real answer is always cockroaches and humans will find a way to survive. Though I suppose, at this point, humans are effectively cockroaches.

So maybe the original statement works.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 18, 2019.

 

I buried Ian six days ago.

One week. That’s how long it has been. One week. I don’t know how to go on.

My constant, my love. My…

I’m sorry, I can’t… not today.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 19, 2019.

 

This must be cabin fever kicking in. Heh. I’m actually surprised that it took this long.

Ok.

Let’s try this again.

Deep breath.

I buried Ian eight days ago.

I don’t know what I’m doing here anymore.

This was not how it was supposed to be. My family had the shelter since back during the Cold War when everyone either had a bomb shelter or hoped those old videos about crouching under a desk were going to be enough.

They should have called those old things ‘Better get ready to kiss your ass goodbye!’

It was a lark, a goof. We used it as a teenaged clubhouse.

Back when I was nine one of the houses in the neighborhood went on sale and somehow, one of the teenagers managed to get in the locked house. And then he told a friend, who told their brother, who told me, and soon enough we had a fully functioning house to hang out in. It was the perfect place to just get away from everyone else.

You know, just how every little kid needs their own house to really reflect on the rigors of elementary school.

Anyway.

It made us think we were older than we really were. And yeah, the older guys hated that us youngsters where always there, but they couldn’t kick us out because then we would have told on them and poof the whole thing would have been gone.

Mutually assured destruction.

Of course, no matter what there is always some dumbass in the neighborhood. Some kid or pair of kids who think they know better or think they are cooler than they really are. Yeah, we had those kids in our neighborhood. We had those two idiots. You want to know what they did?

They were playing in the house without anyone there. No supervision whatsoever. These two first graders who decided they were above it all.

Yeah, mistake number one. Not like they murdered someone. Very forgivable.

But then the dumbasses made sure that whatever it was they were doing in the house occurred in full view of the front kitchen window. Suddenly every person out for a walk in the neighborhood could look in as they passed the For Sale house and see one the neighborhood kids in the window.

You can guess how that turned out. Locks were changed, windows sealed up, and the clubhouse became a distant memory.

But it was a fun two months.

That’s what the bomb shelter was supposed to be. I mean, sure we were teenagers and no one knew we were going to be down there… uhm… mixing it up.

We’ll I don’t want to get graphic about it. A lady never talks.

So yeah, that’s why we’re down here when the shit went down the first time. When things went sideways…

All five of us.

Wait. Stop.

It just occurred to me, every one of those horror movies begin with the five teenagers and then one by one they end up dying or getting killed or…

Having to kill one of their own.

Yeah, life can be funny. But mostly it has a really sick sense of humor.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 20, 2019.

 

Jimmy and his mom arrived in those early days. This was after the people disappeared, of course. This was just the next thing.

We were too scared to venture out. Too scared about what the broadcasters were saying. Then one by one, they disappeared from our screens. But we had the internet to tell us about the chaos. And it told us more than we wanted to know. It told us about the fallout in Russia, that New York had sunk into the ocean, the fact that one of the missiles diverted to the North Pole… the heat from the bomb caused glaciers to melt. The ocean rose…

We’d sent out emails, to family, to friends, trying to let them know we were somewhere safe. I wanted to go get my dad, but he told me not to bother. Both he and Mom worked downtown, and the city had taken the worst of it. Still, he thought there were a couple of places where they’d be safe enough. Maybe even make it to us if things got any better.

So I stayed put.

But Jimmy and his mother came because of the emails. And it was good. Ian and him had lived across the street from each other since they were five, but I think his mom never liked Ian. And when you start to get that cabin fever after a couple of months. When the fear kicks in and every moment of every day is full of worry.

Well, that’s when those little whispers begin to get the best of you.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 21, 2019.

 

It was Jimmy’s mom who let the new guy in. He’d begun pounding on the door and would not stop. She screamed at him to go away, and when he didn’t move she opened the hatch and let the bastard in.

Yeah, it only takes one idiot to ruin it for everyone else.

He wasn’t right in the head. The radiation or the solar winds or whatever it was that week swept across the nation and gotten its hooks into him. He’d turned like most people do when they have nothing left to live for. He’d become a creature even if he wasn’t actually infected with anything. Whatever it was, it was enough.

Somehow, Jimmy stepped in the way, got bit. Infected. The disease transmitted itself to him.

If it is any conciliation, and I’m not one hundred percent sure there is, he did it to save his mom.

Ian put them both down. Because even if Jimmy tried to save his mom, she still got the sickness too.

We burned the bodies in the incinerator, and then hoped that we weren’t infected too.

 

End log.

 

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 22, 2019.

 

Someone decided we needed to go out. I’m not naming names, but it was Rick.

Have I mentioned Rick up to this point? Sorry. Rick was the fifth member of our little group. The odd man out. The one who secretly hoped he could use the friend zone as his way in with Kelly or me if we broke up with Daniel or Ian.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Rick. Just not in that way. He used to spend the night at my house. Heck, he spent more time at my house than he did at his own most days. Not that I blame him. His parents were real pieces of work. His dad was constantly on his case about college and his grades. Never mind he had the highest grades in the school twice over. I remember asking him how far ahead of the second place person he was, and he told me that he could have skipped his last semester of senior year, gotten zeroes in every class and still been our school’s valedictorian.

So, pretty smart.

But it can be a bit lonely in this place, as I am beginning to find out. And now I feel bad for Rick. At least we had someone to cuddle with at night. Someone who we loved was right there with us. That personal connection is a huge thing when you are not sure what tomorrow is going to end up bringing to you.

Cabin fever though, it’s a real thing. I was beginning to wonder if it was the last stage of the Earth trying to kill us.

Rick wanted to go out. To see if he could find any survivors. To see if anything of the old world still remained. Maybe it was the cabin fever. Maybe it was that he needed to know what happened outside our four walls. Mostly I think that he needed to either find someone for himself or die trying.

I begged him to stay put. We all told him that there was nothing left for any of us. That the world out there was the past and we just needed to deal. But he wasn’t listening anymore. He waited until we were asleep and left.

I…

God…

Sorry, I don’t mean to break down on you like this. I’m supposed to be giving an account, but I never realized how much I would miss him. It’s been three years since he walked out the door. I really do hope he found someone else out there. That he is with the love of his life doing all sorts of naughty things that you are supposed to do when the world ends.

That’s what I hope for him.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 23, 2019.

 

Kelly and Daniel. I wanted to say a little bit about them, but I’m not entirely sure how to frame it. They were Ian and my friends.

Well our couple friends.

You know the kind that you can do everything together and not get bored. But you never are on your own with one of them. Ian called it playing two on two defense. That’s the only way it could work. Otherwise, it becomes one of them bitching about the other, and you’re stuck in the middle.

I mean, how many times can you tell me about some horrible slight Daniel has done to you and me telling you to break up with him and you not doing it has to happen before I stop hanging out with you altogether?

We had reached that point before the world went to shit. And after two years’ worth of it, the whole time Kelly wanted out of the relationship. I mean, you’re stuck with this guy you now hate. You could see it with the two of them after about six months. They no longer cuddled at night. Soon he was sleeping on one side of the bunker and her on the other.

I thought that might be the opening for Rick to make his move out of the friend zone, but it wasn’t. Thought Daniel might have killed him if he had tried, so I didn’t push it.

But when it was just the four of us… it got to be too much.

I wish I knew when it really turned. What was the last step that pushed them over the edge? Was it this idea of their not being anyone else out there for them? Was it Ian and me, still happy, not sharing in their misery?

I wish I knew. I might have been able to stop what had happened.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 28, 2019.

 

I awoke to Kelly standing over Daniel with the knife in her hand. He was gurgling on his own blood, and she had the spray all over the front of her shirt. Her eyes were glazed over, like someone who couldn’t see anything anymore.

And that smile…

Her smile.

I sometimes see it when I dream.

Ian did his best to approach her. He talked to her in that calming voice he has. A voice that would say everything was going to be all right if only she would give him the knife.

For a second, maybe not even that long, I saw something in her eyes. The glaze melted away, and she saw the knife, and she saw Daniel, and the smile didn’t leave her face.

Madness.

I don’t blame Ian for what he did. She went at me with the knife, and he stopped her. He stopped her the only way he knew how.

When it was finished, we clutched each other, just the two of us in this place.

I don’t know what terrified me more… Kelly’s actions or Ian and I being there by ourselves.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 29, 2019.

 

I’m at the end of things now.

The food has nearly run out. It was a good run. I can’t complain about that. Ian really did me right on that accord. Almost makes me…

No, I told myself that I would be strong about this. I’ve collected every spare bit of whatever I have around here. I don’t know if I’ll need it. Maybe the problem with being a pack rat is that even now, of all times, I can’t let the old shit go. My bags are packed. I’m ready to step outside, for whatever that is worth. I may not last five minutes out there. There’s actually no way to know what a person might encounter out there. It literally could be anything.

Anything.

That’s a difficult thing to prepare for. What was it last year? It all runs together these days. Plague I think. Some unknown horror left behind by the CDC or some terrorist organization?

It makes a girl wonder if maybe the Earth is trying to tell us something. Dad had an old stereo, which actually could play albums. Yes, even long after the days of cds and then mp3s he loved that thing. More than that, he’d go out and get these great comedy records.

Pryor, Murphy, and Carlin.

George Carlin had a whole routine about maybe the Earth invented AIDS in order to wipe the humans out. Now, I’m pretty sure he was joking with that one, being a comedian and all. Then again, when you have one extinction level event and you survive… maybe he was onto something. Maybe, just maybe, the world is tired of us and now wants to weed out the undeserving.

So what do you call it when you’ve survived five of them?

The air may be on fire out there. There could be an asteroid streaking towards us right now, and I wouldn’t know. I’d be stuck in this fucking box, staring at the empty shelves, dingy furniture mocking me from the corner, the entire world would incinerate, and you know what…

I’d probably survive that as well.

Only the strongest survive? I got news for you; I’m not all that strong.

Or maybe I don’t care about surviving anymore.

 

End log.

 

***

I Feel Fine appears in the Machina Obscurum Anthology and can be found here.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Novels of My Youth: Richard A Knaak

Years ago when I was just beginning to discover this new world of books that had opened up to me, a pair of trilogies were thrust upon me by my friends. They were branded with the words Dragonlance which I was beginning to put together was a Dungeons and Dragons world. Years later I wonder what made them think that I needed to read these particular books. I’d only just learned how to play D&D. And while I could certainly understand the idea of a shared world from my few years (at that point) reading comic books, I’m not sure why they thought these were the way to through me in the deep end. Of course, they were right. Those six books basically made it so that any extra money I had (that wasn’t going to comics) ended up in one of the various D&D books. And like everything, when you were dealing with the sheer numbers of books I was reading, you’d get some good ones and some clunkers.

One of the things about TSR (the makers of D&D at the time) was that with Dragonlance, you had the original creators writing the initial series, but also expanded the history of the world. They invited other authors to write about those legendary characters in their own series.

The Legend of Huma, but Richard A Knaak, was one of the first Dragonlance books I read that wasn’t by the original authors. And I wasn’t sure what to expect as I flipped through the pages. Sometimes the problem with the legends is that they are merely there to teach the main characters a lesson of some sort. That tidbit is interesting, but a whole book on the character might be pushing it.

Luckily that wasn’t the case with The Legend of Huma. Knaak managed to not only bring the main character to life but wove a story around it introducing readers to Kaz the Minotaur. Someone that by the end of the story was as big a character as anyone might have been. Being able to bring that well-roundedness to what was a “monster” – and typically would have just been something Huma should have killed right out. I think it taught me that if you infuse your characters with personalities and hopes and dreams that they would become full-fledged characters for the reader.

The initial book was followed up by a sequel focusing on Kaz (titled Kaz the Minotaur). Which, in my mind, put the character into that pantheon of all-time Dragonlance characters.

Knaak would follow these up with more books about the Minotaurs of Dragonlance, effectively becoming the go-to guy when it came to their culture and customs. I also love the idea that a writer in one of these worlds can basically make themselves the expert of a whole race of creatures. So many times, you can get lost in the shuffle because so many books are coming out at a time, but Knaak not only found his niche but made it his own.

I have books that I want to reread (which run into my list of still haven’t read and the list of dying to read). Whether or not I am able to really make the time, I know those initial two Dragonlance stories would be at the top of the list with Huma and Kaz read immediately afterward.

Currently, there is a Kickstarter running which focuses on Knaak’s newest world of novels (which I am eager to jump in and read!) and bringing it into the roleplaying side of things. You can find information about it here.

***

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Kickstart the Comic – The Adventures of Parker Reef – To Save a Soul

Writers and Artists have a somewhat unique ability. Most of the time they don’t think about it, but it is always there… always a possibility. Both can offer a form of Immortality.

It is no substitute for the person being in front of you, but to tell their story to others is a way to keep their spirits alive. Knowing that even if they are gone, a part of them will live on.

And that is a beautiful thing.

***

The Adventures of Parker Reef – To Save a Soul

Created by – Christopher Campana

 

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Friday, September 28, 2018 at 8:13 PM EDT.

***

The Pitch:

The Adventures of Parker Reef is a love letter to the life, I, my family and so many people will never get to experience. On March 14th, 2018, my girlfriend Tana and our son, Parker, died in my arms. It was supposed to be the day we welcomed our son into this world. My third child and Tana’s first. 

This book (90 + pages) is my way of having them in this world in some way. Loss is always difficult and we all experience the pain of someone leaving us. Be it too soon, or after a life well lived, it hurts the same. No more smiles, phone calls…no more anything.

 

The Story:

This story is about Parker’s dream to see me in this world and Tana helping him prepare for that dream. Tana always believed you should follow your dream and that is exactly what Parker Reef will be trying to do within these pages. 

Adventure? Well, you can’t just choose to leave the after world and just come back. 

You have to earn that. 

In my story, souls are the rarest of treasures. When someone is attempting something like Parker is, ALL are watching. All bets are off and the peaceful land he had been in with Tana is no longer where Parker will be. No, the land Parker will be set in will be dangerous. Full of those souls who have been lost, those souls who did evil while in this world and creatures sent by pure evil to try and stop Parker and covet his soul.  A land full of challenges and adventure. A land Tana has been preparing him for. After all, who knows what their son would wish for more than their parent? 

John’s Thoughts:

I cannot imagine having to go through what Christopher Campana has gone through these last 6 months. The idea of taking that pain and anguish and probably a thousand other emotions and putting it in this format is an incredibly brave thing for a person to do.

 

The Rewards:

While a couple of the rewards have already been gobbled up, there is still the opportunity to get some original art ($80 level) or variant covers ($150 level) or if you just want the physical book ($20 level). So there are a few choices for all types of backers.

The Verdict:

Time is short on the campaign as there is only a couple of days left, but I only discovered it tonight… I’d say if the story has touched you in some way… then take a look at the Kickstarter page.

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To find out more about Christopher Campana, check out the Kickstarter here.

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

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

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com