This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

The Walking Dead returned a couple of weeks ago.

But I’ll get to that in a second. And actually this is not specifically about the Walking Dead, it is just one of the latest “things” to get this treatment. I’m probably going to be all over the place with this post. Apologies in advance.

I want to talk about this thing that we all do. Well, I’m not 100% on that stat, but let’s say a fair number of internet people do and it drives me nuts.

The people who want to say one of the following:

“This show is not as good as it used to be.”

“This show isn’t as good as everyone says it is (effectively saying you are all sheep who are watching it).”

I know it is human nature to compare something to something else. We do it because it helps us identify things. Comparing helps us understand what it is we are watching. We think – this is kinda like X thing, and I really liked X thing, so I’m probably going to like this Y thing.

I do it too. There are certain shows, movies, books, songs, etc. that I am much more likely to enjoy than someone else. Time travel, zombies, anything dealing with alternate worlds, and Groundhog Day style movies/TV shows are all in that wheelhouse for me. If you have some aspect of those things I’m going to probably check you out.

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Back in college I didn’t necessarily go to see every movie that came out. I’m not saying this as a statement of pride or anything else. It just was a fact. Even without going every week I saw a good number of movies. But by trying to narrow down a little bit, be a little bit discriminate meant that I missed a lot of bad movies. And I know this to be the case because if you’ve ever been up at 2 in the morning you see plenty of the “Bad” movies on HBO or TBS or TNT or… The flip side of that was, of course, I also missed out on a lot of good movies. That was the trade-off I was willing to make because I KNEW if something was really good a friend would let me know. And if something was only “OK”, well maybe I didn’t need to see that one.

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Choosing that path meant that I saw movies that, most of the time, I didn’t have much bad things to say. Oh, maybe I wasn’t floored by the latest Tom Cruise movie, but it wasn’t necessarily a terrible movie by any stretch of the imagination. As time went on, those bad movies got forgotten or just relegated to the status of “Eh, it was ok I guess”.

Not the strongest endorsement, and I’m sure I had friends who thought that there were no movies I hated, but they didn’t realize I’d already done some level of weeding before I ever entered the theater. I mean, unless you are watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, there is little reason to watch a bad movie (note, however, I do not say there are no reasons – get enough people together and the worst movies can be the best experiences).

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But what I don’t understand is this need to tear down things that other people like. That other people enjoy. Those people who are just waiting in the weeds… they want to tell you why something sucks or that Season 1 was soooo much better, the first movie was better, book 3 was the best and everything after those things were just absolute garbage.

Note, this isn’t about discussions where something isn’t exactly to another’s tastes. I love to talk about and dissect various movies, books, tv shows, etc. A back and forth about how maybe one thing was a little bit better than something else. A talk in which you are thinking about the things you liked and the things that you didn’t like.

As a writer I love trying to figure why something was done a certain way. As a fan of the form(s) I love to think about what might have worked better from that angle as well. Sometimes those things line up and sometimes they don’t.

I’m not stupid, I know that not everyone likes everything they see.

Why do we need to tear something down? Why do we have to nitpick things?

I notice this more due to the Internet forums. And yes, I understand I should just avoid bothering with them, but I’m clearly a glutton for punishment. And I’m always floored by venom being thrown at certain things because other people like them.

When do you just get to enjoy it?

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Everything we consume has some kind of flaw. Nothing is 100% perfect. But why nitpick every last detail?

It seems like the only time this doesn’t apply is with shows that most people come in late on. Something like Breaking Bad. These things are done or almost done and we’ve consumed them in a way that maybe doesn’t allow for complete introspection. To put it another way, when you are binge watching something, you are more worried about getting to the next episode more than wondering why Walter White reacted in the way he did.

By watching a character arc in a matter of hours instead of weeks or years, everything has more weight and less weight at the same time. It means that maybe those tweaks and changes seem a bit more flawed than they need to be… because that true time to watch over the course of years is no longer needed.

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Case in point: LOST. I am unapologetic about my love for this show. Is it perfect? No, of course not, but I’m willing to live with a few warts for one of the better shows on the tv screen (at least as far as I’m concerned).

Lost-season1

So many of the genre shows sometimes take the brunt of it. I remember that when Lost was heading towards the end of Season 1. Mysteries were being laid out, shit was getting real, and I remember reading a blog where the guy said that he’s not watching Lost because he feels like it is going to do to him what X-Files did to him (not solve the mysteries they laid out). Hey, that’s fine don’t watch, but then when don’t sit there and tell everyone else why they are dumb for watching and enjoying.

Because you know you’ve seen it. That sadistic glee where someone says they aren’t going to bother with something because of some reason. But then spends the next X number of years bashing that TV show because it can’t be any good (if it was, they would like it).

But this is Season 1 we’re talking about and you’ve condemned it, without having watched, because you don’t trust the writers to answer all the questions they are asking (it is an entirely different blog post that would be needed to answer what did or didn’t get answered).

I guess what bothers me is it feels so much like the crap that we are supposed to be over. We’d rather complain about something versus just turning the channel. We sit around and hope to be right about something being bad. What the hell kind of sense does that make? Does the ability to tell someone “I told you so” outweigh everything else in your life? Is that the only bit of joy left to you is to take away someone else’s joy so that they can join you in the pit of despair?

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I’m not sure what part of the human condition this belongs to, but it has always bugged me. I don’t understand people who watch a TV show, read a comic series, and to a lesser extent watch movies or read novels who seem to take pleasure when something popular gets taken down a peg.

And don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily a critique of when a show has jumped the shark. We’ve all seen that happen, and many times I realize it and still watch because of the investment in the characters outweighs some of the BS.

I’m talking more about those people who lay in the weeds to tell you “haha! I told you it was terrible and now you have to think it too!”

Maybe this sensitivity comes from being a writer and trying to see where something might have went wrong is a part of the process, but when you are giving feedback you are supposed to give “Constructive Critiques”. The people I’m talking about wouldn’t know how to do much more than “It’s stupid and so are you!”.

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Why do we need to hate something? Wouldn’t it just be easier to love something different? Why can’t we change the channel?

Of course the flip-side to all of this is that desperate want for someone to agree with you that something is the BEST THING EVER!

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This phenomenon is something I see mentioned in conjunction with the Walking Dead currently. It gets these monster ratings and that only seems to enrage certain people out there. But it isn’t the only thing.

Doctor-Who-logo

I decided to get into Doctor Who this season. Yes, I realize that there have been 25+ seasons and 11 Doctors, but with a new incarnation I thought this would be the best time to maybe give it a try. So imagine my horror when everyone was talking about ending their own viewing of the show with the demise of Matt Smith’s Doctor. So many people were on Facebook talking about stopping, and I wanted to write each of them to say “Hey, I’m finally ready to fall in love with something you love and… hey where are you going?”

Why does it matter? Why does it matter to me that everyone who was watching (and I assuming loving the show) still continue with the new Doctor? What does it matter to me? And why would I even allow it to possibly affect my own enjoyment of the show?

It doesn’t. And yet, just tonight I read a blog post where the writer just had a passing slam about the new version of the show. Literally 2 sentences in a blog completely unrelated to Doctor Who in any way possible. Talking about how this version is just terrible.

And then it occured to me. That little shot at something that I like, without any explanation, feels like (whether it is or not) a personal shot at me. That by me saying “I like this thing” anytime someone else comes along and says “Well I hate that thing” it must mean that they hate something about me. And I’d rather not be hated, but somehow there is nothing I can do about it.

What is wrong with me? Why should I care?

I wish I knew.

 

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John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo Recap

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

Atlanta Sci Fi Expo Banner

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

And so on.

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

But I have to admit… I was wrong.

Robert and I holding down the table at Atlanta Expo

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

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

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

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

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

Gilded-Age-Atlanta-SF-Expo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John McGuire

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

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

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

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

The Gilded Age as a Radio Drama! This Weekend!

That’s right. On February 21, 2015 at North Dekalb Mall, the site of the Atlanta SF & Fantasy Expo, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company is going to do a dramatic reading of The Gilded Age Issue #1!

Cast your mind back to an age where you gathered around the radio and actors on the other end created worlds and adventures with little more than their voices and special effects in the form of sounds. That’s kinda what this is going to be like, except they are going to have the panels from the comic displayed behind them as they work their way through the story.

I honestly don’t even know what to expect, but I’m really excited to even have the opportunity to have something of mine transformed in such a way.

So if you happen to be in the area and want to experience something different and new, swing by 2050 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, GA 30033 at either 3:00 PM or 7:30 PM.

Or if you want to meet Robert Jeffrey II or me, we’ll be manning the Terminus table for the better part of both days. Come by and chat!

Gilded Age-Atlanta SF Expo

The Darryl Problem

<Potential Walking Dead Spoilers to follow.>

Walking Dead has been back for a couple of weeks now , and I’ve been reminded of a conversation I’ve had about the show… and about the idea that the best thing the show could do is kill Darryl off.

Because he’s too popular.

Because people would lose their minds if you did it.

Because no one would expect it.

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And for the most part I don’t believe any of those things are good reasons to kill a character off the show. Though, I’m also not completely on board killing off a character because everyone hates them, but I have seen that.

Let’s put aside that we’re talking about a show that kills in the ratings in a way I (a reader of the comic from issue 7 onward) would have never guessed could have happened. And that some of the decisions they have to decide on are as much about business, and perhaps not rocking the boat with such things.

Here’s the thing about killing characters off in novels, TV shows, movies, etc., once you’ve pulled that trigger you almost never can undo the deed.

Yes I realize in comics that characters come back all the time… that’s actually a different problem.

Dead is dead.

In the Walking Dead comics I believe that Shane is dead by the end of the 1st story-arc, issue 6. That means we really only got about 5 issues out of the whole dynamic of Shane vs. Rick for leadership, and Shane vs. Rick for Lori. Not really all that much time.

You notice that in the TV show Kirkman didn’t repeat that mistake. He milked that story for every bit of juice he could (some might say he stretched it out a little too long). He had a chance to change what he’d done in the first go around for the better.

In comics we see these things all the time where a new writer comes onto a book and in order to “shake things up” they kill a character off so that the rest of the cast can react to whatever happened. And they proceed to write those stories and everything is fine, until the next writer shows up and wants to write a story with the character you’ve already killed. So in order to use him/her again their choices are flashback, dream sequence, doppleganger, or just undoing the death in the first place. They put a couple of pieces of duct tape along the edges, wave their hands over the narrative, and hopefully the reader will be so happy they won’t care about the truck-sized plot holes.

TV is a little bit of a different problem. And this show in particular… as far as I know the only way you get to come back after death is as a zombie… so that fix is out.

character-death

Darryl is an interesting case as I think that the original plan wasn’t for him to become the “fan favorite” character. I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers thought he’d be killed off early in season 2. But something happened… people liked him. They saw him as not just a redneck like his brother, but someone who might be able to become a hero… maybe someone we can root for… or maybe he was just the opposite of Shane, someone we saw was headed towards a confrontation with Rick sooner or later.

Whatever it was, the writers used that feedback and by this point in the story he certainly is one of the more important characters on the show.

I feel like when you are enjoying a story, no matter what form it takes, that the characters are there to serve the tale, but the tale is there to serve the characters as well. Many articles and interviews with authors have talked about a magical moment where the character starts dictating what is going to happen to them. That is the moment when those plans of killing off a character sometimes hit the biggest snag. Suddenly they aren’t going to go down willingly, they are going to fight and claw for every moment of their lives.

But in the end, I think that when you make the decision to kill a character, regardless of their popularity, that it isn’t something to do just to get a shock out of the fans. Because the shock will eventually wear off, and suddenly that character you wanted to tell one more story about is no longer around for you to do that much.

That’s a lot of generalities, but let’s assume that you were going to write Darryl’s death… wouldn’t you want his story told? His character arc finished? And would you have him go out in a way that is uninspiring and forgettable (or laughable even?)?

I would offer that he deserves… no, he’s managed to earn a quality death. Probably doing something to save the others in his group at the cost of his own life. You have a situation where you not only need to do right by the fans and what they’ve come to love about the character, but also do right by the character himself.

And it shouldn’t be as a lark.

And it shouldn’t be as a “I’ve run out of ideas” thing.

And it shouldn’t be as a reaction to him being “unkillable” because the fans love him too much.

No, it should happen because that is the next story you want to tell. And the ones after that one no longer need him to be told.

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John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Once Upon a Time…

I once brought a dagger on a plane.

And this wasn’t pre-9/11, and it wasn’t a domestic flight, no this was an international flight to Atlanta via New York.

And it was just over 1 year (by a handful of days) after the tragedy.

Yes, apparently I am that dumb.

I also believe that memories connected to items and objects are more likely to be stronger than those that we only rely on pure memory for. It isn’t 100% fool-proof, but more than one time I’ve come across something that triggered a memory long since lost.

For our honeymoon, my wife and I did a cruise of the western Mediterranean which included, among Spain, France, and Italy, a little country off the coast of Italy called Malta. And while we were there I saw this dagger.

Malta Dagger

I don’t know exactly why, and honestly, if I had given it more thought I would have talked myself out of buying it in the first place. The logistics of having a weapon on a cruise trip, trying to bring a weapon onto a plane in any capacity much less in the world we were then living in. But my analytic brain was on vacation as well. So I paid for the piece of memory and we went back to our sight-seeing.

It wasn’t until we were getting back on the ship that I thought anything of it.

“Oh, how are we supposed to handle this?”

I spoke to one of the cruise employees who informed me that they would have the Master of Arms for the ship take it and secure it in a vault until we finally left the ship for good.

Again, it should have occurred to me that this might be a problem when we finally got to the Barcelona airport.

But it didn’t, not until we were packing on that final day. I had the blade wrapped up… it wasn’t sharp, but it was still a big knife and I didn’t want it to tear anything else in the suitcase. I think we placed it near the top in case we needed to show it to someone in charge.

So they did the whole thing of the standard questions:

“Has your bags been with you the whole time?”

“Had anyone asked you to blah blah?”

I think she asked something else, but it was at that point I knew I should speak up.

“I have a decorative dagger in the luggage I’m about to check.”

Her face told me that she wasn’t sure if I had really spoken English to her in that moment. Her brain flew through its various calculations about how to ask me “What the Hell?” without saying those specific words.

english

“I’m sorry?”

“In my luggage, I have a decorative dagger. We bought it in Malta as a souvenir, but I’m not sure how we are supposed to handle it.” Never mind the fact that decorative might not be the correct adjective to use, I thought just saying dagger all by itself would prove more troublesome.

Again her brain whirled and buzzed, perhaps her eyes rolled up inside her brain as the little women who controlled her brain began scrambling for the proper response. Finally after what seemed like minutes but was probably only a couple of seconds she held up a finger. “Let me call someone.”

Courtney and I waited off to the side for her superior to show up. When he did they stepped away and had a discussion. Since I don’t speak Spanish, I’m not entirely sure what specifics were uttered, but after a minute or so the superior came over to me.

“What is the issue?”

It’s that feeling you get when you have been on the phone with a Help Desk and they are passing you along to someone else. They’ve been taking notes this whole time… you hear them tapping away at their keyboard, but as soon as you get transferred the next person asks you THE EXACT SAME QUESTIONS. I always think, “Why even write it down if you aren’t going to look at it.”

In this case I figured I’d give them the benefit of the doubt with the language difference and whatnot.

“We have a decorative dagger… a souvenir in our luggage.”

“Let me see it.”

So I unzipped our bag and carefully unwrapped the dagger on the counter. He may have lifted it to inspect it, if he did it was a very brief inspection. Either way he stepped aside with the original lady and they began discussing it. This conversation lasted a little longer (maybe 2 minutes), and then he came back, told me to wrap it up and put it in the bag and then they took the bag. No problem.

“Oh, they probably just said ‘Let the Americans deal with it in New York.'”

And that’s what I thought. I cursed the idea we were flying into New York instead of Atlanta. There is no way we’re getting that Dagger back home. Money completely wasted. Why didn’t I think this through?

We arrived in New York…

and no one said anything to us. Nobody pulled us aside to say they had gotten a note about the weapon, there was no detention, there was nothing. Now, granted, it wasn’t in our carry-on or anything, but still… I wasn’t expecting nothing.

Again in Atlanta there was nothing said. I began to wonder if we had said nothing in Barcelona would they have even noticed. So either clearly it wasn’t deemed important enough for them to bother with. To this day, whenever I look at the dagger I’m shocked that it is sitting on the mantle rather than in some storage bin in Spain or New York.

But no, they didn’t keep that memory and for that I am grateful.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

4 Steps to a Comic Challenge

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

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

1 – Your First Comic Book

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

transformers-comic-4

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

FF 277

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

west-coast-avengers 20

xmen 217

Avengers_Vol_1_279

Amazing_Spider-Man_Vol_1_287

And my wallet has never been the same.

2 – Your Favorite Character

The Flash!

Spider-Man!

Doctor Doom!

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

Flash1

 

3- A Comic That is Underrated.

H.E.R.O.

hero1

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

Very kiddie. Pure dumb fun.

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

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

4- Your Guilty Pleasure comic or character

Knights of the Dinner Table

kotdt-strip

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

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

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

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John McGuire

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

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

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

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

The World’s Greatest Comics Magazine…

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

fantastic-four

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

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

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

All that seems weird to me.

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

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

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

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

Dr-Doom

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

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

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

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

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

They are a family!

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

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

Fantastic Four-Spidey and Franklin

 

fantastic-four-5-uncles

 

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

They Can’t All Be Bad, Can They?

Sometimes this blog of mine needs to become something of a confession. I feel like I live a life in the shadows where only the late night glow of the computer can sustain me. During the day I am one person, making decisions in my job, in my life, in my very conversations, and then there is the person that only a few people know.

He’s the one I want to talk about right now.

You see, this person has a problem. Actually that’s not entirely accurate. If you asked him he might not even acknowledge the problem as he sits there on the couch watching TV. We live at a time where almost every classic you’d ever wish to watch is available within seconds through some streaming service or by actually renting the item in question. Instant access.

And yet there he is, this version of me who I don’t want to claim, he’s watching the worst movies… over and over and over again.

It has to be a sickness. There is no reason that every time he sees movie X on the TV that he should watch it again. The only thing I can figure out is that he’s comforted by them in a way that others would not… could not ever understand. So in an effort to out this problem to the world, these are my favorite “Bad” movies. These are movies that without fail I find myself watching at 11 PM (who am I kidding, pretty much whenever they actually come on). And I understand that they aren’t good movies… I really do. I just can’t stop myself.

Note that this list does not include things that I actually feel are genius in some way – Office Space, Happy Gilmore, Tommy Boy, etc. nor does this list include romantic comedies that I would say are good – While You Were Sleeping. And it definitely does not include Side Out (the GREATEST VOLLEYBALL MOVIE OF ALL TIME – it is never on tv… ever).

No, these are just the worst of the worst… or maybe just the best of the best.

red-dawn-movie-poster-1984-1020191147

Red Dawn – This is the original. I have no seen the remake, and I’m pretty sure it would only degrade the original in my head, so what would be the point.

Why do I love this movie? Well for starters it has C Thomas Howell in it, so it has that going for it. Seriously I think that this was one of those movies that capitalized on that inate fear of many in the 80s… this could actually happen. But the real reason is probably that it was teenagers who were fighting off the Cuban/Soviets. That sense of trying to think, even for a moment, that if the shit went down, maybe you could make a little bit of a difference. That appealed to the 12-18 year old me (and still appeals to the 38 year old me).

And who didn’t want to shout WOLVERINES? Put your hand down, you’re lying. We all wanted to do that.

Point Break

 

Point Break – I think this movie is amazing, if only for the most stilted line in movie history:

“You crossed the line. People trusted you and they died. You gotta go down.”

Considering everything that’s occurred between them, Keanu couldn’t muster a little more effort in delivering that line (or maybe they could have gone with another line).

But really, I love every moment of this movie. From the idea that the Ex-Presidents are surfers, to the fact that the FBI is paying Johnny Utah to go undercover, to the very real possibility that having a top notch college quarterback be “undercover” in anything would be a terrible idea (at least it seems like a terrible idea).

The-Replacements.2

The Replacements – Hey, Keanu makes the list twice. I love sports movies. Hoosiers is one of my all-time favorite movies, The Natural is amazing, and Bull Durham makes me wonder exactly how it is on those minor league teams. I love the idea that the majority of the time the guys we are watching are going to succeed and yet I still am engrossed in the movie.

And then you take these misfits, these cast-offs, and watch them come together under a washed up QB and a coach that was out of the league. I mean, these are the storylines they focus on every week on ESPN and here it is in a film. Make those over-paid divas the bad guys and let’s mix it up with those guys who are just happy to be there on the field.

Those are the guys I want to watch.

A-Knights-Tale-2001-movie-poster

A Knight’s Tale – I have no defense for this one. It is blasphemus to have Rock and Roll music as the soundtrack to a medieval adventure – though the dancing to Bowie’s Golden Years is good. It is terrible to have Geoffrey Chaucer in this film and make it seem like he wrote some of his stories based on Sir Ulrich Von Lichenstein’s adventures – though I like how they make him a gambling addict. There is so much bad that if I just talked to you about the movie in person, you’d wonder if I was preparing a Mystery Science Theater style mocking of it.

I still watch this one EVERY TIME it is on. I like the stuff with the Black Prince throughout the movie and then when Will is knighted. I like that this guy is trying to figure out what being a knight is all about, when he just needs to be himself.

I know, I know… very sappy. I can’t help it.

Bedazzled

Beddazled – This is the Brendan Fraser one, not the original one, which I feel like is much more sinister in its approach. I had forgotten about this movie until this past weekend when it came on and suddenly found myself watching it. This is one that actually has inspired me in my very first attempt at trying to write a novel. Now, not much more than the basic outline of a few chapters took place, but I love the idea of portraying the Devil as someone who is not just the boogeyman in our minds, but as someone who could actually have depth and caring.

But I also think that the Devil would try to screw over someone making wishes to the best of their ability. You’d need to be a top of the line lawyer in order to actually be able to make a wish and not have it backfire on you. And I’m guessing that the person/being who has been around since the beginning of time might still have more experience.

roadhouse-poster-mt

Roadhouse – “Pain don’t hurt”

“I want you to be nice until it’s time not to be nice.”

“A polar bear fell on me.”

Patrick Swayze at his most Zen-like (well maybe 2nd most to Point Break). Let’s go through the checklist? Bouncer who is legendary? Check. Falls in love with the local doctor who patches him up? Check. Evil rich guy who controls the town? Check. To the death fight on the shore of some creek/river with the number 1 henchman? Check. Everyone getting a one-liner? Check.

If that’s not enough for you, then I don’t know what you want.

So that’s my demons. My skeletons in the closet. Exposed for all to see. I don’t claim that I will stop myself from watching them the next time they are on. I don’t claim that I won’t love them just as much. I mean, why deny ourselves the things we love…

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Stuck in the Middle with…

*Spoilers for a 75 year old book to follow.*

I finished up my little adventure with The Hobbit a couple of weeks back. With the end of the 3rd movie I actually felt a tug a my heart thinking that there more than likely wouldn’t be any more movies. After over a decade worth of watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy and then the Hobbit trilogy that just seems wrong somehow.

Stranger still is the fact that I didn’t like the Hobbit when I read it. Even walking out of the first movie I turned to a friend and asked, “Was the White Orc in the book… I don’t remember him.”

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

This guy, right here. How could you hate that face?

“No, they added him for the movie.”

“Oh… he should have been in the book. I would have liked it better.”

It’s terrible, terrible, terrible that I say any of these things aloud. Though it might be easier to understand if I was anti-Fantasy, but I’m not. In fact, most of my early reading was on the D&D pulp fantasy of Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms. There was probably a stretch during high school where I read pretty much anything TSR put a stamp on. I borrowed books from friends, scrounged extra change to buy the latest paperback, and so on. I immersed myself in those worlds. I loved it.

And yet, I hadn’t read Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit. That was wrong and something some of my friends couldn’t stand for. Here I was reading all these novels that can trace the direct line back to Tolkien and how could I say I liked fantasy when I hadn’t read the original?

(Technically I think that is an argument for a different time. I maintain that you can like something now without knowing everything about how it came to be… and it doesn’t make the experience lesser for you.)

So I broke down. I borrowed the Hobbit and set out to read this watershed novel.

hobbit cover

I got about 100 pages in and put the book down…

for about six months.

I almost NEVER put a book down once I devote 100 pages to something. But I’m sorry, I was BORED. A level of boredom that I have only experienced one other time while reading – Interview with the Vampire where they first reach Paris (nothing happens for like 30 pages). When I finally got back to the book I settled in. I mean, they were off to kill the dragon! I can get behind that.

And then this nobody, Bard, ends up killing the dragon. Who?

What a rip-off!

So yeah, that was my experience with the Hobbit. I never bothered with Lord of the Rings because of that. So when the Jackson movies were announced I thought that I would certainly see them, but it wasn’t Star Wars or something. It would be nice to see something that was Fantasy on the big screen.

And of course I loved those three movies. And when the Hobbit was announced as three movies I didn’t growl and moan because of it… I was happy because there would be three more movies. And when he deviated from the novel I was glad again, because I didn’t like the novel.

And I liked that I could put a face on Bard and at least have some understanding of who he was and why it works if he kills Smaug. The movies add a breadth to the worlds that capture my imagination in a way the book never was able to.

And maybe I was too old to read the Hobbit, being in high school rather than at age 10 or 11 (or possibly younger). After I had finished I told my friends what I thought, and their response was that I should have read Lord of the Rings first as it was the “adult” series.

Sigh.

But even if I loved the novel, I have yet to figure out the reason for the vitriol that people have against the movie(s). They don’t like that certain things aren’t brought in, but then they bitch about the extra stuff. They don’t want 3 movies, but…

I’ve read plenty of books that have been turned into movies and I treat them as different entities. Just because I think movie version of X thing isn’t as good as the book… it doesn’t ruin either of them for me. If the movie was god-awful, then I would just go back and hug my copy (or Kindle nowadays). And if the movie did something better… great.

Movie+vs+book_ff37af_4141429

After Lord of the Rings I expected a bevy of fantasy movies, and I’m pretty much still waiting. Luckily Game of Thrones made it to tv and I was turned on to that series, but overall it is sad that in all these tomes and texts nothing else has been adapted and taken off. And a part of me wonders if it is the fanboys (and girls) who have complained it to death? More than likely that’s not the case.

So my journey through Middle Earth is at its end. I still do have on my to-do list a Saturday session where I watch all 6 extended versions of the movies and not leave my house for the day. Maybe, maybe after that day I might be ready to leave those movies behind.

But probably not.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Huey Lewis and the News Know All About This Subject

Yes, we’ve all seen it now. It’s 2015, the year that Miami will beat Chicago in the World Series. The year that we’ll have fax machines everywhere once again to randomly drop their messages on the floor… I mean, rather than using email or something crazy, right?

Oh, and it is the year that we’ll finally get a flying car… so that’s something to look forward to.

Back to the Future 2 sees our old pal Marty McFly use this:

Almanacfront

to try and get ahead of the game (literally). He figures it could turn into some walking cash if he knows all the outcomes to the games. And really, its not a horrible idea. I mean, it wasn’t his fault Old Biff stole the DeLoren and took the book back in time and created an alternate timeline.

But we’ve all had that thought about if only we knew the outcome of some game then maybe, just maybe we’d bet on it and clean up.

But I actually have a different use for my time machine. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go back and change it so your grandparents never meet and you cease to exist… that’s not on my agenda. Instead I want to use it for a more nefarious plan:

I want to change the outcomes of a couple of baseball games so that my team wins them instead of loses them.

A little aside. If you aren’t from Atlanta or live in Atlanta you may not be aware of the amount of crap that our city takes from people in other towns. Whether it is the amount of opposing fans in a stadium or not selling out playoff games or how they can’t understand why it is college football which reigns down here. From the various blogs and radio shows and just talking to people… they don’t get it.

Braves

However, one of the biggest knocks on the city from a sports stand point is that in the 1990s when the Atlanta Braves seemed to go to the World Series every year… well, they only won 1.

I aim to fix that. I want to go back to game 4 of the 1996 World Series and convince Bobby Cox not to put Mark Wohlers in the game (at least not to face Jim Leyritz). If he isn’t there, then maybe, just maybe the Braves hold off the late inning charge from the Yankees. Leyritz doesn’t hit that home run and suddenly the Braves have a 3 to 1 game lead (which I would assume would be enough to get a win in the next 3 games).

That would be enough, I think. Enough to ensure that when people speak of the Braves they’d say, “Hey they won 2 World Series in a row… that was a good enough outcome for their run.”

But somehow I think there would still be naysayers. Those who think that making the playoffs doesn’t mean much. Those that don’t understand that nothing is a given in those situations. They would never let it rest. It would be more of the “well, yeah, but they ONLY won 2.”

Sigh…

So I guess I have to find them 1 more. And I think the series in 1991 might be it. They lost in 7 games to the Twins, but maybe if I can find Ron Gant and let him know that he shouldn’t round first because on his way back to the base he’ll be LIFTED OFF THE BASE by Ken Hrbek! Or maybe I could go to Game 7 and tell Lonnie Smith to run as hard as he can and not pay attention to Chuck Knoblauch as he rounds second base. That would have been a game winner there.

I mentioned this to my wife at dinner this past weekend and she laughed at my use of the time machine. And then paused before asking if I would help any other teams? Those who had been seemingly cursed over the years? And I smiled at her and told her… NO.

Let those guys build their own time machine to fix their teams. I mean, I can’t go running around breaking John Elway’s leg so that he doesn’t have THE DRIVE against Cleveland. I can’t slap the Refs in the “Tuck Rule Game”, can I?

time-travel-evidence

I mean, I’m only one person with a time machine. And there is the thought that I’d mess up the time stream too much. No, I have to focus this power and use it for my own purposes instead of others. So I can’t help those other teams, I’m sorry.

Well, except for Steve Bartman. I might find a way to help that poor guy out from every reaching for that foul ball. That same poor guy who has a wiki page devoted to his moment (here). A guy who had to have police protection because of other crazy fans (that’s why they are called fanatics I guess). Whether the Cubs end up going to the World Series and breaking their own curse, I don’t know, but I think in that moment me and Steve are going to be grabbing a hotdog and something to drink.

It is the least I can do given that I have a time machine!

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

The New Year is Here to Slap Me Around

Where did the year go? At various times this last month I’ve had the thoughts of “Where did December go?”, but really it is more than that. 2014 both crawled and flew by, but here at the end I’m wondering where all that time ended up.

sucked 1 year

 

Last year my first blog for 2014 laid out a road map of sorts. Much like everyone else at this time of year it becomes time for resolutions, and that is what that particular blog was. A goals list that I wanted to put out there so that I could not only hold myself accountable 1 year from then, but also give myself something to strive towards.

I then wrote a mid-way post in July and, to be honest, it kinda worried me. As I looked over the various goals I’d set for myself I started to realize that I was a fair amount behind where I wanted to be. Certain things I thought were absolutely going to happen had not occurred and it made me feel like some of the first 6 months of the year might have been wasted.  Of course, a lot of that thinking is just me being a pessimist.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????

This then marks the end of Year 2 of trying to be a serious writer and the beginning of Year 3. Let’s see what happened:

Comics – I need a complete do-over on this whole category. At the time I had such high hopes for the year. I saw myself holding as many as 4 or 5 different issues of various things. Sadly it is 12 months later and much of the year has been wasted. Gilded Age 2 is still not completed, which certainly means 3 & 4 are not done (in fact, due to the lack of movement on 2 I haven’t finished up 3 & 4’s scripts as of yet).

Tiger Style is still hanging around, but there has been no real movement on Entropy either.

Mostly this has been due to funds running short on the various project…

All in all this section gets a big “F”.

Shorts/Novellas – My goal was to get 4 shorts done and submit them to some online magazines. I got 3 shorts completed (and a 4th is 90% there).

Piece by Piece was written as a story for the Tessera Guild… something free for our readers (and is available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, etc. for that same price). It acts as a nice little story featuring Jason from The Dark That Follows without some of the “seriousness” of the novel.

BeyondtheGate

Secrets of Story Telling was done for an anthology: Beyond the Gate that I was happy to be able to contribute to. It too is free on many of the various platforms. I talk more about this project here.

Til the Last Candle Flickers – Completed sometime in October. I have not yet sent it off to any online magazines.

And I Feel Fine – 90% complete. Kinda a companion piece to the above in that they are both about the end of the world and how different people embrace or just deal with it. I have a couple of other stories in this vein that I’ve toyed with the idea of just collecting into an anthology myself. Hmm…

There’s Something About Mac – A project that wasn’t on the list to begin with, but this little novella set in the Veronica Mars Kindle Worlds Program allowed me to do something I’d not done before: co-write with my wife. I wrote about this one here.

Just under 4 shorts but add a novella and I give myself an A.

Novels

HollowEmpireEP1

Hollow Empire – Success! I had wanted to get it edited and released, and that is just what happened over 6 weeks in the fall. It took me longer to reach that point than I would have liked, but I also learned a ton about certain aspects of the project and future projects.

Hollow Empire 2 – Need to have some discussions with my co-writer J Edward Neill. More will be needed in the new year to determine a schedule, etc.

The White Effect – This one is tough. On one hand, I haven’t gotten to my Beta Reader comments. I’ve been busy trying to finish up The Edge of the World. But on the other one I have this gnawing feeling that I should try and go a more traditional route with this book. Either way, the novel is not finished.

The Edge of the World – Oooh, December, how you danced by me… I thought I was going to make it. And had the project really been only 90k words, I would have, but I realized that I probably needed another 20k worth of stuff, and that’s pushed it into the new year. So while it is not done I’m still going to give myself a solid B at being 85% finished with the 1st draft.

Blogging – I have not missed a week since we started. So that’s one in the win column!

So 2014 had some hits and some misses. I think had Edge been finished I’d be happier with my output. Still, I think I just have to do a better job this next year.

calvin-hobbes-new-years-resolutions

Goals in 2015

The Edge of the World – Finish the 1st draft. Finish a 2nd draft. Get to Beta Readers. Possibly get an editor by end of year.

The White Effect – Revise the current draft with all the Beta Reader notes I have. Identify potential Editors/Agents to Query. Draft query letter. Start that process.

I would love to say that a goal would be to have the book with someone, but I have no idea how this process is going to go, so I’m going to concentrate on what I can control and not worry about those things I cannot.

Veronica Mars Kindle Worlds Novella II – We have the outline, I just need to put some words on the page now. It is 3rd on the list for a reason though.

Hollow Empire II – Begin those discussions in the next couple of weeks. Begin outlines, drafts, and maybe, just maybe get it out by end of year? Maybe it could be a Fall release every year?

The Dark That Follows Sequel – Originally I wasn’t going to try to fit this in this year, but I have an idea for this and a third book, so I’m hopeful to have a 1st draft done.

Unstuck – A series of novellas I would like to get done about people who are outliers in the timestream… abandoned by their own timelines. Each one would be about 25k words, and right now I have 3 of them roughed out. My guess is having one done by end of the year is a resonable goal (though I could easily see it getting squeezed out by the above).

Shorts – 4 more shorts, to be finished. Online magazine submissions (get on it McGuire!). Start that train a moving.

Comics

Gilded Age – It is my hope to have issues 2, 3, & 4 out this year. Of course, that was my hope for this last year. Either way, I will be finishing up the scripts for 3 & 4 in the next couple of weeks.

Tiger Style – Issue 2?

The Crossing – A comic I’m co-writing with Robert Jeffrey II… if we can secure an artist, then I think we can get something going. I don’t want to put an absolute number on issues or scripts or anything. If this is solid this year I’d be happy.

Blogging – Let’s keep it going for another 52 weeks.

Insane? Maybe. Still, I’d rather set the bar a little too high than too low. We’ll see how I did in a year from now.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Don’t trip Tiny Tim!

I didn’t grow up with Christmas for a portion of my early life. Being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness (yes, I probably knocked on your door at some point) meant that when it was time for the Christmas party at school, I went home instead. When other people were decorating their houses in lights and trees, I didn’t really think much about it.

Note, I’m not saying any of that because I’m sad about it. We still got gifts, just normally it would be in January instead (our “Gift Day” where I might have gotten extra gifts due to the post-Christmas sales… sneaky Mom there). And it just was how things were.

As I’ve gotten older and married Christmas seems to have grown up around me as well. But sometimes little traditions are completely lost on me. For example, I was probably 17 before I knew that Noel was another word for Christmas. Honest. I’d never even seen the word before and then suddenly it was everywhere I looked.

Songs… yeah I know some of them, I can probably tell you the names of most, but I don’t know that I could sing you more than a couple of lines of Rudolf the Rednose Reindeer or name the others who pulled his sleigh.

I can’t wrap a gift to save my life. Though that could also be due to the fact that I’m a guy.

Even Christmas lights… we don’t put them up at my house (much to my wife’s chagrin) because while I think they are neat enough, they don’t equate to the holidays like some people.

That said, there have been a couple of things about the holidays that have become my own traditions over the years in a way to get into a more “correct” mood about it.

leg lamp

Who wouldn’t want that lamp!

The Christmas Story

Yes, it is run into the ground by TBS showing it on a loop for a full day. Yet somehow I always end up on that channel watching the kid stick his tongue to the pole for probably the 100th time in my life. I never had a Red Rider B.B. gun because I probably would have shot my eye out.

Scrooged

I am not a fan of Charles Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities is one of the few books in high school that I ended up not reading at all and somehow managed to score just high enough on the test we had for it (I still don’t know how I accomplished that since I didn’t read the Cliff Notes either). I read somewhere that the more words he wrote, the more money made its way into his pockets… and I believe that 100%.

I’ve never had a desire to read his Scrooge story… and I’ve seen versions of it over the years that tell me I’m not missing much of anything…

scrooged1

They are going to do the Curly Shuffle Next!

Until Bill Murray showed up in Scrooged. Maybe Bill Murray just makes things better and I’m blinded by my love of him, but I love everything about that movie. But the Ghost of Christmas Present is my favorite. She’s like something out of the WWE, beating Murray’s ass.

The Small Town Decorations

Yes, I know I said the thing about the lights, and I meant it, BUT when I was younger my Dad would come to Waycross, Georgia and take me to Dawson, Georgia. The trip was about 3ish hours long, but the route you take forces you to go through every small town in Georgia. And each town puts up their own decorations. And those little touches were what really told me that Christmas season was here.

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Not a picture of a tree, but Clark’s expression matches my own when we finally get the dang thing to light up.

The Christmas Tree

Don’t tell my wife this, but I do like the tree. Having it up. Seeing all the crazy decorations from over the years. What I don’t like is bringing it down and setting it up. This year was the first year that the lights all came on with the first try. Normally we spend all this extra time trying to find cord A to stick into outlet Z or some such nonsense.

Seriously, could it be anymore complicated?

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

What if… Last Action Hero was a Good movie?

I told J Edward Neill that I was going to steal his blog one of these days and today is that day. But I am going to do it in a way that would make him proud. I’m not going to use this blog for good but instead for evil.

That said, I wanted to look at a movie that could have been something more, but was tied to an aging actor and an annoying kid and only wanted to be tongue in cheek about the whole “Cop” movie thing.

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So What If…. Last Action Hero was a GOOD movie?

I know what you’re thinking: “John, there is no way to salvage anything within that movie!”

And you know what, random person talking to their computer screen, you’re probably more right than you are wrong… but let’s give this thing a try anyway.

Note, the one thing I am not touching is the soundtrack. Say what you will about the movie, Alice in Chains (2 songs!), Anthrax, AC/DC, Megadeth, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, Cypress Hill, Tesla, Fishbone… it is one of those albums that I still listen to from time to time.

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For those of you who don’t remember, the movie was supposed to be a parody of the 80s action movies (anything with Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Russell, Gibson, etc). A kid manages to get a magical movie ticket that puts him directly into the movie he’s watching. Eventually he brings Arnold back into the real world where suddenly Arnold realizes that the rules here are not the same as they were. And worse yet, his arch-enemy has somehow made his way into the real world as well!

That’s actually not a horrible idea on the surface. That core concept of what is real and what is fantasy. And that’s what my version would focus on as much as anything else. Those little moments that appeared in the movie, but were glossed over due to the need for another catchphrase or yelling boss or even cartoon cat.

My version would still begin with Danny watching the movie, getting the magical ticket, and then getting sucked in. But our hero, Jack Slater, wouldn’t be a goofy parody spouting one-liners left and right; no, this would be someone who had seen the worst in people and still managed to keep going (think Se7en for an idea of the feel I’d be going for). He’s a person who is barely holding on to his sanity and is constantly wondering why all these terrible things always seem to happen to him.

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So when Danny reveals that he’s a character in a movie series our hero lashes out. The idea that someone has been dictating the horrors of his world, tearing his marriage apart, killing his son, keeping him estranged from his daughter… that would be too much for him. And even though Danny would try to plead with him to follow through on his latest mission, Slater ignores the kid and then goes on a spree of his own. If the world is always going to be terrible, then why bother with it, why bother with saving anyone… let it all burn… and he uses half of the ticket to go into the real world (Danny rushing in after him)…

While the second piece of the ticket manages to fall into his enemy’s hands, Benedict. This is a man that has stood by and watched Slater destroy his boss’s empire, and only by luck was Benedict able to escape. Once he finds out about the ticket he sees it for what it is – a way to go to other worlds than these – to recruit like-minded people to his cause, giving them the freedom in the real world that has been severely lacking for any of them.

In the original Benedict has a monologue where he talks about the real world being a place where the bad guys can actually win. He talks about going to get the villains and bring them out. But we never get to see that moment in the original. And I believe that is a huge missed opportunity. So in my version we not only see some of it, but these villains coming out are not treated as just randoms… no, Benedict would have begun to research who might be able to help him.  And freed them. And the Ripper would be one of them.

Now the real world is suddenly going to Hell and somehow Danny still believes in the HERO that Slater was. He convinces him by telling him that while it is terrible that all those horrific things have happened, he always knew that Slater would still try and do the right thing. That he could still be the man Danny always knew him to be.

Last-Action-Hero-Magic-Ticket-1

And that would set up an ending where Slater not only has to deal with Benedict, but with the random assortment of baddies that are out in this world. It gives Danny a chance to assist in figuring out those characters who Benedict might have contacted in the first place (what the people are like, what their weaknesses might be, etc.).

We end with Slater and Benedict squaring off, Slater run through the ringer, but somehow finding enough strength to finish his enemy off. A beaten and bruised Slater limps back to the theater with Danny helping him, ready to go back to his movie life again… Danny fires up the movie, but instead of Slater IV, it is something nicer – perhaps a romantic comedy. A just reward for the life that Slater has led.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful

This cold has got me discombobulated, scattered, wondering if I’m getting sick or just need more sleep (like a bear).

I’m not a fan of winter. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the actual time of year in and of itself. I like the holidays, having time off, spending some of it with family, and using it as a good time to simply recharge.

But the cold… ugh. I cannot stand the cold. And yet I know that some people love it so that they can drink their hot chocolate and snuggle in front of the fire. It allows them to wear jackets and scarves and layer up until they don’t even know what to do with themselves.

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And I live in Atlanta, so it pretty much never gets as bad as those in the north have it (seriously, why do you do that to yourselves… move south). But even a little bit of it where we are touching freezing at night is more than enough for me.

However, thanks to a wonderful wife, I spent this last weekend in warmth. I was able to wear shorts in December. A cool breeze whistled past me and I didn’t run for shelter from it, but embraced it as an old friend.

The benefits of being in Miami, apparently.

miami

On the list of items on my personal bucket list, if I actually took the time to write it out like Mr. Neill did a few weeks ago, would be to see a Miami Dolphins game in their home stadium. At 38 years old I finally got my chance to do just that.

I’ve been a Dolphins fan my entire life, yet it seems odd when people ask me if I am from Florida… as if I’d have to be from the place that the team resides to root for them. My old college roommate harassed me about that very thing many a weekend. Regardless, I always end up telling them the same thing. That when you live in south Georgia for much of your early life the one AFC team you get to see was the Dolphins. This was well before Jacksonville ever had a team, so week in and week out those were the games I got to see. Almost the same time I started watching the NFL, Dan Marino became the quarterback of the Dolphins which meant that most years they were in the playoffs – easy to root for. And the Atlanta Falcons were mostly awful during this time, so why bother with the team that was going to lose most of their games. I mean, today the NFL is the most popular it has ever been and much of that is due to the passing game – Marino was doing all of this 20 years ago.

Miami_Dolphins_2013

But that wasn’t the only story.

You see, in a parallel world to this one there is a version of me typing up this exact same blog, but with one startling difference – that version of me is a (hated) NY Jets fan.

How do I know that is happening in this other world? Because the very first game that I ever remember watching took place on January 23, 1983 when the Miami Dolphins placed the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game. In my world, the Dolphins won the game 14-0 and became MY team. A silly decision made over the course of a few hours one afternoon when I was 1 week before turning 8.

So I know that in the parallel world the Jets ended up winning. And I have nothing but sympathy for that version of me, because the Jets are a train wreck and pretty much have been since that day. They’ve made a couple of runs here or there, but it always seems they quickly slide back to being awful. And while I was watching Marino break records, that version probably couldn’t have watched very many of the Jets games in the first place – needing to be content with the small blurbs in the local papers to figure out who was even on the team.

Another little thing, another weird decision by a younger me, that caused me to fly south for the winter, even if only for a weekend.

Sadly the game didn’t turn out the way I would have liked it (with a Dolphins’ win), but I sat there in the stadium among my fellow Dolphin fans, yelling and even singing a little of the Dolphins song (a terrible thing that once you have it in your head can never be extracted). So I thank my wife for the gift.

Even if it did add another item to the old list: to see them Win at home.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Death of the Physical

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

black-friday-casas-bahia

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

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

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

All-Devices-Image

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

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

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

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

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

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

longboxes

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

Maybe.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Previously on…

I have a saying that I picked up from somewhere (perhaps Warren Ellis’s email blog years ago) after I watch or read something that I feel is just so damn good that it makes me wonder about my own place in any future writings that I might do:

“It makes me want to break my fingers.”

Because, when you’ve seen the top of the mountain and know that it is probably impossible to get there, well, what else can you do but end your suffering?

I’ve been reading the Dark Tower series and King has managed to make me exclaim that a couple of times. Portions of Breaking Bad managed to make me feel like that as well when we were binge watching it.

That being said, the man who does that to me more often than not (that’s an odd sentence) is Aaron Sorkin.

newsroom3

We’re watching the last season of the Newsroom, and I know that every time I see a new episode that I am going to have that feeling all over again. And I know that when this season is over and the show is done I won’t know what to do with myself because it will be another show that was taken away too soon that had his name on it.

I don’t know when I knew about Aaron Sorkin. I mean, I get that he wrote A Few Good Men and The American President, both of which I had watched. But I don’t think I put those things together until Sports Night came on.

A little something about Sports Night. It is a show that should have been on tv for 5 years. It should have been this show that everyone understood and loved and we could all talk about how well written it was. It should have been that show that had it all, great actors, great writing, great characters, and it was tied into the world of sports.

And yet people didn’t watch it. It was cancelled in 2000 after only 2 seasons and 45 episodes and I still don’t know that I have forgiven all of you who had TVs and didn’t watch the show. You gotta make time for stuff like that (sadly I read that it had over 10 million viewers and still got the ax because 14 years ago 10 million was not good enough – today ABC would kill for those weekly numbers).

sports night

I think it may be the only thing I’ve ever watched multiple times all the way through. About every other year I pull out my DVDs of the show and start consuming them. And little by little I’m reminded of how good the show really was.

Luckily, he’d also come up with this little show at the same time called the West Wing, which helped alleviate my loss. Weirdly, I haven’t actually watched that whole show… I’m still working through it on Netflix as I’ve seen about 3 seasons worth and then I think life got in my way (Don’t judge me! You didn’t watch Sports Night!).

Something about the way that the worlds seem to fly out of his character’s mouths. How even when they are saying terribly complicated things that are probably over my head, he manages to ground it in some way or another. He makes his characters complex, living creatures. They show who they are with their words, with how they interact with others. There is never a better feeling than when a monologue is about to begin. They seem to dance in the air, only to be replaced by the next word, next turn of phrase… and somehow, when the moment has passed, I can only sit in my seat and say “Damn.”

west wing

Watching his current show, The Newsroom, I probably say that at least three times an episode. And sometimes it is some bomb that he’s dropped, but many times it is because of a subtle moment… a joke that is told… or even where he’s poking fun at his own style (having characters talk about monologuing and the like). It comes off as… well, maybe not exactly the real world (I’ve never worked on a tv show or in the White House or at CNN), but a world I wouldn’t mind hanging out in. Though I think I’d need a script to keep up with the rest of them.

And as much as I like the man’s movies (The Social Network was all kinds of amazing), I think I love him most when he is killing himself to write all the episodes of some of these TV shows. It is nice to get 2 plus hours, but I’d almost rather get the 10 a season I’m getting now, even if I have to wait a week at a time. It may mean that I’m being greedy. And I know I should be happy with whatever I get… but I am greedy. I do want more.

So don’t think of me as a stalker if I happen to hang out on his IMDB page and read about the next thing on his agenda.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Searching for a Super Power

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

dating_show

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

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

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

manofsteel

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

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

invisible

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds like a lot of work.

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

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

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

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

Star_trek_beam

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

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

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

 

Of Dreams and Steam… and Great Engines of Power

Last week’s blog made mention of how little moments can change a direction for a person. Something small can knock you onto a completely different course than anything you expected even an hour earlier. This is another one of those stories.

BeyondtheGate

A few months ago I decided to participate in a Kickstarter campaign. Not the strangest thing to do, but the result of that one act has allowed me to interact with a bunch of writers that I might never have had the chance to do. It has garnered me a couple of interviews, an appearance on a podcast, and an appearance in an anthology released yesterday. If you haven’t checked out my post from Tuesday, you can read a sample of my story… and best of all, the anthology is free at most places (and eventually will be on Amazon as well). My blog from yesterday is here.

That most recent interview is here.

One of the outcomes of the Kickstarter (which was watching the Self Publishing Podcast guys write a book from start to finish in 30 days) was that the world they were creating during June would be an open source world. Which meant that anyone could write in the world and not have to worry about sending money to someone else. That Kickstarter became The Dream Engine…

And with that, the anthology became this thing. Slowly, over the next month as we waited for the finished product, gears shifted into motion. Authors began to say that they’d like to join in and submit something. I mean, the chance to have your work appear in something else is never a bad thing. Maybe one person reads your short and checks out the rest of your work. You just never know.

So I signed up, not having a clue at all as to what I might be writing about. And then the book was released and I started reading The Dream Engine hoping that something would spark inside my mind. Something would direct me to explore it. I needed something to inspire me.

And the days crept by, and I kept reading, and while I was enjoying the book I still had no idea what I could write about. What might fit in the world they were weaving. I believe I was 2/3 of the way through the book when that lightning finally struck. Something finally triggered. Suddenly I had ideas.

Notes

This is what happens when I’m not near a computer and I need to get the information from my brain before I lose it. This is the part of writing that I wish I could bottle. I wish that I could figure out exactly what the switch is in my brain that allows me to – out of nowhere – come up with an idea that was almost… maybe 90% there. I knew the various beats, I knew the two main characters and what their voices were like, and I even knew why I was writing the story.

You see, in the Dream Engine, the pilots of Altera are rock stars. They get to see the world and when they return to a city they always have more than their share of tales about what they had seen. They might be complete lies or they might be the truth, but that’s why you listen… they are the original water cooler talk where you could dissect their stories and try to figure out where the lie begins and the truth ends.

And that’s a question that might be worth answering… why do these Ruddermouths tell these stories?

I think it took me about 3 days to actually write the short. Then one more day for some self-editing. However, that wasn’t the end of it. All the writers were asked to swap their stories with another writer and do an editing pass. Then take those comments, tweak, overhaul, whatever needs to be done on the stories. Again, at that point  we had an editor who looked at all the stories and gave her notes. Then it would be onto our Beta Reader for the project with that last second look at things and make sure that nothing slipped through that might have been confusing on the reader’s side of things.

What was amazing about this project is how people came together to create this something out of nothing. From Eric Pierce wrangling all of us in one direction, to Amy Schubert providing the free editing, to Kayla Halleur doing that last minute reading… I was reminded how so many times as writers and artists… we’re alone, banging on the keys at 2 in the morning. And how lonely that can sometimes be. Yet this project was a true meeting of people to contribute to something that had inspired them in some way. From various countries and backgrounds, all working towards a singular goal.

And yesterday saw it finally come out. I’m happy to have been able to contribute something to it.

If you haven’t already checked it out, it is available free at most bookstores, and will be free on Amazon soon enough.

Amazon | Apple | Nook (Barnes & Noble) | Page Foundry  | Kobo

To learn more about The Dream Engine and the various books being written in the world, check out Blunderbuss World.

To learn more about the writers of The Dream Engine… the guys that started it all, check out Sterling and Stone.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

 

To Be Read Podcast

logopodcast

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

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

Preview: Beyond The Gate Anthology

BeyondtheGate

(This following is an excerpt of the story I contributed to the Beyond the Gate Anthology. For those unfamiliar with the world that originated in The Dream Engine by Johnny Truant and Sean Platt, it is a land surrounded on all sides by a dense Fog where monsters are rumored to live. It is a place where skyships flown by seasoned pilots, called Ruddermouths, journey from city to city, carrying their stories with them. And it is a place where if you lose your grip on reality they have a special place known as Joffery Columns.

Here’s the official blurb:

Waldron’s Gate, capital of Alterra. A land powered by steam, but inspired by the power of dreams, and surrounded by the mysterious Fog. 

The Dream Engine explored this city. Now you are invited to go Beyond The Gate. 

Twenty-three authors will take you over, under, into, and beyond the Fog in this cross-genre compilation of short stories. 

From time travel to romance, young adult to horror, science fiction to historical fantasy, you’ll discover tales that delight, intrigue, and maybe even shock you.

This is only the beginning.

 

I’m excited to have a chance to grow the world, even if in a very small way. If you like what you read, this is only the beginning of the story.)

The anthology is available here (for free at most places):

Amazon | Apple | Nook (Barnes & Noble) | Page Foundry  | Kobo

 

***

The Secrets of Storytelling

Isaac Parkes twisted and turned through the throng of people gathered around the skyport. All eager to see the ferry shaws begin their next circuit supply run. All hoping for one more look at the ruddermouth pilots before they lifted off.

Isaac raced across the tarmac but not in an effort to be a spectator. He sidestepped an older woman who had painted her face a strange blue hue, nearly causing him to collide with a teenage girl, her eyes full of stars and hope. His satchel slid down his hand in the scuffle, but he kept his grip, leapt over another gawker, and shoved his way past the perimeter guards with a flash of his paperwork, though they did very little to verify much of anything. Too concerned with maintaining the lines for the rest of the mob, it seemed just acting as if you belonged was more than enough to allow you past their blockade.

Only fifty feet to the final shaw, he heard its engines fire up and begin their lift-off cycle. With no one between him and his goal his run transformed into a sprint. Back and forth he waved, trying to get the pilot’s attention. It did him little good. There was a stir in the engine. It would be only a few more seconds before the craft took to the skies, leaving him alone on the empty platform.

Just before the final lift, his hand found the passenger door and slid it open, hopping into the cockpit as fast as he could. His stomach lurched in time with the ascent, but he managed to keep his breakfast down. With a click, the door slid back into place, locked tight.

Now inside the craft he realized how heavy his breaths came and used the back of his sleeve to wipe away the sweat from his brow. Below them, he could see the crowd for what it was. A flash of red hair behind a handmade sign gave him the briefest pause. A memory from another time… then she was lost in the mass of women crying at the loss of their true love. Nearly fifty people saw them off. Their adulation was an impressive sight. Isaac wondered if they only felt that way for tonight’s lift-off or if this was a regular occurrence.

“About left you back there. Another coupla seconds and you’d have started walking.” The pilot startled Isaac. He turned to give the man his sincere thanks and the words wouldn’t come out. He started to stutter out some words again, but couldn’t make his mouth work like it was supposed to. There he was in the flesh. Never in all his years would he have expected to get his lift to Stensue from Lukas Byron. But it was him. The strong jawline, the dark hair with just the barest hints of gray peeking out told the truth of that.

Except once he took a good look at the pilot, he realized he’d gotten it wrong. This wasn’t the Lukas he’d seen two years earlier. Isaac still remembered the smell of the bar, a mixture of cigar smoke and bodies crowded into such a small room. He and his brother Sean arrived hours early, squeezed into one of the booths near the back where they could watch everything and everyone. Then the ruddermouths came in, full of thirst and swagger. He recognized a few of them, but it wasn’t until Lukas came in that the wait had been worth it.

Sadly, something had hidden that man from the world and replaced him with a doppelganger. That Lukas was a star, with his jet-black hair grown long enough to hide his eyes, but not enough to block a full smile displaying a full set of shiny ivory teeth. Apparently the years of long hauls and spinning yarns late into the night was tougher work than it appeared. Replaced by the four-day growth on his face, gray hairs were no longer content to hide from the world, fully announcing their presence. His jacket, worn thin in some places, was stitched together with hastily placed patches that were threatening to pull away from the leather. And while this Lukas still smiled, there was no longer a toothy grin attached. Instead, he gifted Isaac with a forced smile from a shell of a man.

The Lukas Byron he knew, the one everyone knew, told legendary tales, each one more fantastic than the last. He fought river creatures one day before stopping gremlins from destroying his skyship the next. Then there was a dogfight with a dragon, if you believed in that sort of thing. He was a man who made being a ruddermouth a goal to be had, not a consolation prize for those who aren’t picked for skyships or the zeppelins. He’d weaved his way through every city and every port, spinning his lies about adventures to the far side of the world.

Isaac would know. He owned the book. More than that, he had memorized the book. He could have recited the story about the hauntings at Aerohead when a group of ruddermouths were forced to stop overnight and nearly lost their lives.

And here, in this inner sanctum of his hero, he saw the proof. Pinned and stuck to the ceiling were an assortment of clippings, sketches, and fabric pieces torn from dresses, scarves, and possibly other things. These were his gifts from an untold number of fans.

Of course, Isaac knew the stories weren’t true. They couldn’t be anything other than simple tales. But he was fine with it. He’d always been one for stories and the like. When he was no taller than a doorknob, he’d lose himself in his father’s study. Books lined the walls, some stacked in the corner, and each time he touched a book a plume of dust lifted from its home. Each one held those old stories. His father liked to refer to them as Alterra’s old secrets. He’d say, “In those books you’ll get a picture of how things were.”

“You mean monsters and elves used to run around?”

“No. I mean you can understand what people believed many hundreds of years ago. Those are just stories. Stories your mother might kill me over if she knew you were reading.”

The shaw hummed through the night’s sky. Lukas rummaged in the front of his jacket and produced a flask. Isaac saw a tint of green liquid leak at the edges of the man’s mouth before he offered his cargo a sip of Thunderclap. Isaac shook his head.

“So, why’d you join?” When Isaac didn’t immediately respond, Lukas filled in the silence for him. “It’s going to be a long enough flight, and I’ve never had a partner up here before. Might be nice to have someone to talk to.”

“I suppose. Well, I-”

“Wait! Let me guess… you fell for the campaign didn’t you? That whole ‘Come and see the world’ bit. Am I right?”

It was a question Isaac found himself pondering many nights when he couldn’t sleep. He’d yet to find a satisfactory answer, so he countered, “Why’d you join up?”

“To see the world.” Lukas said the words without any hint of happiness or sadness. It was a matter of fact. “I was never going to see Waldron’s Gate or Yon or Stensue where I was. Grew up in a small village in the middle of nowhere. Just was never going to happen. Being a ruddermouth was my way out.”

Isaac found himself nodding. Maybe he wasn’t different from this man. Both of them thrown into situations because of circumstance more than anything else.

“The women don’t hurt either.” This time he gave a full-toothed smile, and Isaac couldn’t help but return it.

Isaac shifted in his seat beside the pilot. All the gears and instruments clicked and hummed as the shaw made its way through the air. “I’ve heard almost all your stories. I even have the book.”

“Book?”

“I’ve always wondered what part of flying opens your mind up to weave those tales. I mean, I know it must be lonely when you are making your runs. Especially when you’re going from Yon to Waldron’s Gate. No disrespect to the Builders, but you do what they do… just in story form.” Isaac wished he’d stop gushing, but he couldn’t help it. There were so many questions he’d had since he’d first started reading about Lukas. He saved every clipping from the papers, watched every news story produced. Now he was riding in a ferry shaw with the man.

“Oh that. The writer ended up listening to my stories and a bunch from other pilots. Took ten and slapped my name on it. I don’t honestly know which ones they used.”

“Are you saying they aren’t your stories?”

“Maybe. Maybe not. I mean, I am pretty entertaining when I need to be. Ruddermouths always got stories to tell. Everyone knows that.”

Lukas stared out at the night. Below the cloud line they could still see the slow rolling fields underneath them. For some reason it reminded Isaac of what Jonah the Whale God’s ocean might be like. The grass swayed in time with the wind.

“Things are changing, though. Routes that were once sleepers… there’s a threat around every turn of a mountain or valley. Every…” Lukas trailed off. “I shouldn’t say anything.”

“What? What shouldn’t you tell me?”

“Let me ask you a different question first. Where have you been?”

“All over,” Isaac said.

“Waldron’s Gate?” When Isaac shook his head, Lukas continued, “Then you haven’t been anywhere. But it’s alright. You’ll be there soon enough.”

“Mayday! Mayday!”

The squawkbox lit up the cockpit with its flashing glow. The voice on the other end reached out through the air to try to find an anchor to someone. Static cut the words into broken pieces. “Something hit… going to try…”

Lukas touched the box. “Where are you?”

“Thirty miles out… on the way to Thestic.” Static ate the rest of the communication.

“Do you know where that is?” Isaac asked.

“Damn fool, trying to cut his route short after I warn him to stick to the tried and true ways. Yeah, I know good and well where he is.”

Isaac clenched his hands, tightening his grip on the dashboard, knocking off a random keepsake. He leaned forward in his seat, as if the movement would allow them to travel faster. Lukas shook his head at the gesture. “Oh, you’re a romantic… that’s why you want to be a ruddermouth. Well, with those doe eyes and full head of black hair, the ladies are going to love you.”

***

Again, if you like what you read, this is only the beginning of the story. The anthology is available here (for free at most places):

Amazon | Apple | Nook (Barnes & Noble) | Page Foundry  | Kobo

Every Day is Exactly the Same…

I read a fair amount of writing blogs. Blogs on self-publishing. Blogs on productivity. Blogs on the book industry. And sometimes in all the noise I think one essential thing gets lost. When you are a creative of any stripe, be it writer or artist, there is one truth among everything that you do.

BestWrite

You have to take it one day at a time. You have to put your butt in the chair and block out that thirty minutes, that hour, that half a day, however long it will take you to actually get something down on paper (or computer if that’s your thing).

I write about this for me as much as anyone else. I want to remind myself of the goals I’ve set so that I can hold myself accountable when the end of the year comes. I want to know what I need to do, and what I should be doing.

So many times over the years I’ve seen talented people, writers and artists both, say one thing with their voices, but show something entirely different with their actions. They say they want to do X thing for a living, but then don’t want to commit the time necessary to actually accomplish those goals.

And I know, your busy. We are all busy. We spread ourselves thin with work and family commitments and that crazy thing called sleep. People have hour plus commutes, each way, every day. Hey, I’m grateful for my job, but you do get to waste 1-2 hours in your car every day.

Ask yourself what your priorities are. Where did you waste time today? Could you chose to study your craft instead of one of those time sinks. There are so many ways to make sure that you don’t get your work in today.

Hey, I get it. I struggle with it too. Some nights I have to drag myself to the computer, launch Scrivener, and then will myself to do the work. And I am not successful every night. Sometimes I am tired. Sometimes I am not creative or I am stuck on a scene.

And sometimes I just don’t want to do it. I’d rather play Magic Online or watch a movie or even fire up the XBOX and play Madden for a couple of games.

south park playing games

Those things are going to happen.

But…

But… if you are a writer and wrote 250 words a day. That’s effectively 1 page. So if you wrote 1 page a day, then at the end of a year you’d have a book. 365 pages is a solid book. It would probably take you all of 15 minutes to write that 250 words. Heck, you could probably do that while you were sitting at your desk during the day. Or during lunch. Or maybe even construct it in your head as you drive home.

I mean, you want to do this for a living, right? That’s what you said.

1 page a day. That’s all. Much like economics, this stuff compounds with time.

If you are an artist (say for comics)… if you drew one page this week. And then did that for 52 weeks, you’d have 2 comic books in a year. Yes, I understand that it takes longer to draw than write, but 1 page a week. What if I put it another way? What if I said for you to do 1 Panel a day. Most comic pages are 6 panels. That’d give you your page a week. 1 Panel is all it takes.

I mean, you want to do this for a living, right? That’s what you said.

Little things add up to be big things.

Pile-of-paper-CO2-Savings

This could be you!

I think there are plenty of people out there who want to write a book. A lot of times when I’m talking to people and the fact that I’m also a writer (in addition to being an engineer), most people mention that they’d love to write a book.

They’d love to write A book.

And that’s awesome. Honestly, I think that the more voices that are out there, the better off we all will be. No one has your combination of experiences. No one sees the world like you do. So if you want to give this Word thing a shot – go for it.

But that’s not what I want. I don’t want to write A book.

I want to write 100 books.

And I don’t want just one comic book to come out.

I want to have written a 1000 comics.

That means that I have to squeeze the juice out whenever I can. It means that the tray beside my computer is filled with scraps of paper that I’ve written on during the course of the work day. Bits of dialogue for the project I’m currently working on. The idea for a short story that will get filed away. Even story beats for the next novel I’m going to write.

You have to find that little bit of extra time. Maybe it means you wake up 15 minutes earlier every day (heaven forbid) or maybe you stay up 15 minutes later?

Ask yourself if this is a hobby or if this is a career? Do you want to do this or do you just like saying that you will do it… eventually, you know, down the line. Are you going to look back in a year and think about the wasted time and why didn’t you get started on that novel/comic/painting last year? Last month? Yesterday?

And if you are wanting to do more than 1 thing, you know what happens when you finish that one? You start on the next one.

So what’s the plan? What do you want to be?

Now show me the proof.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

And a Child Shall Lead Them…

October is more than half over and yet I don’t feel like I’ve gotten much of my horror business done for the month. And I was doing so well a couple of weeks ago. I had watched a couple of movies with the horror bend to them, but since catching about 1/2 of the remake of The Hills Have Eyes, I’ve seen nothing that would disturb my soul. Nothing which would freeze the blood in my veins.

But a movie did come on the other day which set my mind spiraling back to a simpler time… to a time when I was much younger. The first time I remember being truly afraid.

ChildrenoftheCornPoster

The TV glowed from its perch atop my dresser.  My room was wrapped in complete darkness other than that solitary light (and perhaps what little could trickle under the door from the hallway). At the elderly age of 10, Saturday night meant that my bedtime could be extended to at least midnight, and if I was careful about the volume, I could push it past if need be.

This night, though, was a little different. I had become fascinated with horror movies earlier in the year. Somehow, perhaps with the help of HBO streaming into our household, I’d managed to watch Nightmare on Elm Street. The sight of those knives on the end of Freddy’s fingers shook me up, in a way I had never understood before. I didn’t know that a movie could do such things.

It was a gift.

So now, there I was, alone in my room, preparing to watch another horror movie. Something called Children of the Corn. Whether it was the soundtrack of the movie, the basic premise of an entire town’s worth of adults missing – leaving only the kids in charge… a thought which certainly seemed interesting to this 10 year old.

Or it could have been that the villains turned out to be the kids. Whatever it was, I was entranced. Completely enthralled. I glanced at the clock, seeing that it was well past ten o’clock and the sounds from outside my room had died down at some point during my seclusion. That was ok by me. I loved the idea of being there and letting the fear wash over me.

Being only a one story house, my room sat facing the subdivision road which ran in front of our house.

Somehow, between the movie and the soundtrack and the sound of my own breathing, another sound filled my ears… from outside the house.

My heart slammed faster in my chest, but I did what every 10-year old would naturally do: I pulled the covers up to just below my eyes. That age old idea that the monsters in the dark can’t possibly get you if you are protected by an inch of comforter. I closed my eyes and blocked out everything else. Surely it was just something from the movie that I’d heard.

Under the Bed copy

And then it came again.

There was no doubt in my mind that time. It had come from outside. I needed to figure out what it was. The idea of being afraid of something on a television screen suddenly became a distant memory. I slid from my place in the bed, slinking down to the floor beside it. Keeping low, I crept towards the window. Even while every synapsis in my brain fired to tell me to run out of the room, to go pound on my parent’s bedroom, and to let them deal with it… I continued until I was at the window. Slowly, I raised myself up, peering just over the window sill.

Outside he darkness chose not to reveal any potential secrets. Growing a little bolder, I managed to get my whole face up to be able to look.

And a light flashed directly in my eyes.

Flashlight

Somewhere I heard a scream, and my own fight or flight instincts kicked in. Had I been stronger, my door might have come off the hinges with the force I ran out of the room. Then I heard the scream again, only this time I understood that I was the one making the noise. Turning the corner, I found my mom in the living room and I proceeded to tell her everything I could through gasps and wheezing. I needed her to understand that there was something outside my window… that this wasn’t just the overactive imagination of a 10 year old who was watching scary movies.

I need not have worried. She hugged me, smiled, and said, “Your step-father is outside. He probably did it.”

The next sound I heard was one of laughter as my step-father rentered the house. His whole body shook as he relayed what he had seen. In light of this knowledge, I crept back to my bedroom, shut the door (but left a crack open), turned off the tv, and hid under the covers once more.

***

It’s that same fear that sometimes still gets me when it is very late and I am all alone in my house. A stray sound at 3 in the morning on a Friday night… I still find that I am comforted by ducking under the covers.

Perhaps there is some magic in that thought after all.

 

***

John McGuire

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

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is currently in week six of its 6-part release. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

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

One Year Later

This is my 53rd blog post, which means that I’ve now, officially, hit the 1 year anniversary of blogging on Tessera… without missing a week. 52 straight weeks where sometimes it was well after midnight and the blank screen taunted me in a way I’d not thought possible.

Since I started blogging I’ve released 2 books, 1 novella, and 1 short. I’ve gotten an author website up (with the mighty, mighty Tanya Woods help), done a couple of interview swaps, and enjoyed my guild-mates’ musing on life and anything else they wanted to write about.

So for this post I wanted to take a look back at those 52 posts and highlight a few that I think either got overlooked or just were personal favorites.

I Should Have Paid More Attention to C. Thomas Howell

urban-legend-killer-backseat

For those that might not get the reference, Howell was in the original move, The Hitcher, which was about what bad things happen when you pick up a hitchhiker. This post was my own personal (and 100% true) story about the 1 time I offered a ride to a stranger(s). It was the 3rd post I’d done and effectively my October “Horror” post. Most people like it even if the consensus is “what a dummy!”

The Biggest Fish: Smallville

Smallville-Logo

This was a post about potential opportunities. It was about taking a shot, no matter how crazy it might be. And it was about getting a small amount of vindication. I might also call this one “The One Time I almost wrote an episode of Smallville.”

Brought to you by Yellow #5

mountain_dew

 

Another story blog, this time focused on the one and only time I’ve ever spent time in the back of a cop car… and how Mountain Dew/ Mellow Yellow might be to blame (and lack of sleep, and not being in my own car, and finals week and…).

Forget Me Not

winter-reflection-mirror

I believe that when a writer sits down and begins to craft a story he’s considering a question that he’d like to answer. That isn’t to say that it always has to be some earth-shattering question. This post was about one of those questions that is always on my mind, whether I end up answering it is an entirely different question.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Look tasty? Think again!

Look tasty? Think again!

My Grand Unification Theory… about pizza. I stand by this 100%. Study this, understand this, and maybe your next get-together will be a more successful one.

My only regret with this one is that I should have made it my April Fools post instead of my Superbowl post. I think it would have been more appreciated.

 

The Tribe Has Spoken

Survivor.borneo.logo

My Survivor post… the only bad thing about this one is that if you don’t care about Survivor then you have no reason to read it. But my wife and I continue to love the show, so I decided to write about some of the strategies and how we see the game. The cool, sad thing is that I could probably write a part 2 and 3 to this post without breaking a sweat.

He’ll See Me On the Flip Side

time_travel

It was very stream of consciousness. All about how different moments in my life are connected in very interesting ways. I’m probably most proud of this post as it ended up better than I thought it would when I started it.

Hollow Empire: Those Initial Steps

10442Jollain_The_Plague_of_Frogs

A behind the scenes look at those first days when J Edward Neill and I began to hatch the project now known as Hollow Empire. This is the sort of post I love to read by other writers, so I hoped to give a little insight on one of mine.

And it also shows that sometimes ideas come at the most random times.

So whether you’ve read them all or never read a single one, maybe give them a look-see.

***

John McGuire

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

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is currently in week five of its 6-part release. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

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

The Fastest Man Alive

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

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

3167440-the-flash-logo

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

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

Garrick_ross

Plus his costume is kinda awesome.

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

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This is where I have a little blasphemy.

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

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

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

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

3 generations of heroes.

Flash1

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

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

He just wasn’t Barry.

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

He became The Flash.

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

Then I saw the first teaser… hmm…

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

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

***

Bonus – My Top Flash storylines:

terminal velocity

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

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

race against time

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

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

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

flash 76

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

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

 

***

John McGuire

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

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is currently in week fourof its 6-part release. Each episode is only $0.99.

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

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad

I touched on one thing a few of weeks ago that I wanted to explore a little bit. Basically the idea that out of bad things we should make the best of them.

When life gives you lemons, make lots of lemonade.

Every dark cloud has a silver lining.

silver

I wonder if it isn’t just crap we tell each other to ensure that we get out of bed in the morning.

4 years ago I got laid off from my day job as an engineer. For those of you who have never had the opportunity to take an unplanned vacation where you are stressed a whole lot of the time… let me tell you, it is not worth it. Basically you have this time where normally it would be great. Catch up on sleep, read a book, watch tv, and just veg out. I mean, you’ve been at it for how long now, you might deserve some free time again. But the underlying stress is awful. And at some point there are only so many hours in a day you can look for jobs.

But I digress. Out of that time I ended up writing the first draft of the book that would become The Dark That Follows. I had never written anything that long before. Prior to those moments the longest thing I had ever written was a movie script that was about 100 pages and around 48 pages of a comic mini series. Let me say that writing 200+ pages of a novel is an entirely different beast.

I definitely made some lemonade.

Here’s the question though… why? Why did I need that bad thing to happen before I made an opportunity out of it? Couldn’t I have done the same thing while I was employed (sure I could and have been ever since that point). Still that was the thing that gave me a kick in the pants I surely needed.

So why do we wait for these moments? Why should it take sometime bad to happen for us to reevaluate how our lives are progressing?

Top-Dog-The-Science-of-Winning-or-Losing

My favorites are the blessing in disguise. I’m more referring to the phrase itself, somewhat of a cliche nowadays, rather than the possible religious implications behind it. It might as well be a case where all we are doing is just trying to reassure someone that good times are coming. There is a commercial on tv in Georgia (perhaps other states who have the lottery are running something similar). The conceit of the game is that you win if you match all the numbers (like a normal lottery) OR if you match none of the numbers (so now they have us hoping for a negative return… just weird). And while I am amused at the commercials, it is such an alien thing to hope to not win… but not just don’t win, you need to LOSE completely.

I mean, what in the world are you supposed to be cheering for then? That’s like rooting for your team to tie or something. And while there are spots where that might be a good thing. It is completely alien to my own brain patterns. I (people) are programmed to Win.

So why is it that we must decide to find the silver lining only in the bad things? Can’t they just be bad things and then we move along? Do we need to find lessons in these moments of terrible? Would it be the worst thing in the world to just brush ourselves off and stop obsessing over whatever the bad thing was?

Just once I’d like to learn my lesson from something really good happening!

Of course, that is easier said than done. I think that it might be (must be?) that we all get caught up in our lives. Going to work, hanging out with friends, dealing with family… you know, Life stuff. But that becomes a daily thing. And then it becomes a weekly thing. And then summer is over and Christmas is here and we all stand around thinking “Wow, that year sure went by fast.”

The bad might just be a shock to the system that breaks us of that routine. Maybe we’ve drifted a bit from whatever path we’re supposed to be on and that’s the moment we can really do a bit of self-correcting?

Of course, unlike those people in the Lottery commercial, I’m not looking to have the bad thing happen. And I wish I could steel myself against it, but that never works. So all I can do is just take that extra moment when it happens and use it to the best of my ability. Not the best answer, but the only one I have.

Mostly I’m reminded of why there has to be bad things by two of the greatest philosophers of our time.

beavis550

Beavis: Hey Butthead, how come some stuff sucks, and some stuff is pretty cool?

Butthead: Because Beavis… if everything was cool… how would you know what sucked?

Exactly.

 

***

John McGuire

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

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is currently in week three of its 6-part release. Each episode is only $0.99.

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

My Top Ten Horror Movies

Ah, October (I’m a week early, forgive me.). This month is one of the best of the year. Football season is a go and we’re beginning to see where our favorite teams stack up. Baseball playoffs are in full bloom (or for some we are looking forward to Spring as there is always next year). And yes the leaves are falling, but I am called to focus on something else:

Fear.

I’ve talked about Fear before… mostly as it relates to writing and my own personal goals. But in October I like to focus on that external Fear. Those movies and books and video games which scare me in a way that I not only don’t always understand, but that I actively search out.

These are my horror movies of choice. Some because they were the first movies to scare me, others because I was so blown away by what I saw it disturbed me for days, and then a few that I just love even when they no longer offer the scares they once did. Some I’ve seen only once and others I’ve seen dozens of times (one I might have seen over 100 by this point).

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Scream

I don’t think Scream ever “scared” me. From those opening minutes I wasn’t scared. Through the twists and turns of the movie I wasn’t frightened. So why is it on this list?

Because I think Scream did something for Horror movies that had never been done before. It deconstructed the late 70s and 80s slasher movies in a way that poked fun but still allowed it to cap off that era. The idea we all sat around and discussed (why are they running back into the house? why do they wander off alone? etc.) – Williamson and Craven made that movie. They made “our” movie.

I saw this twice in the theaters. The first time was an advanced screening at Georgia Tech by myself. As soon as it was over I made sure to get a couple of friends to go to its release. And after that first scene ended my buddy Lee leaned over and said “If nothing else happens for the rest of the movie, that one scene was worth the price of admission.”

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Jaws

I joke and say that Jaws prevented me from becoming an Oceanographer or marine biologist, but really it is just that terror of the unknown which truly does it for me. Again, what I want to be able to see and hear – all of that disappears under the water’s surface. Every moment of control you have is an illusion, and really it is only luck that a large predator doesn’t have its way with you.

I don’t randomly go into the jungle and hope to avoid large predators, but for some reason I do it at the beach every year. And yes, I know the odds are slim… but…

That’s why, even after maybe 100 views, this movie sticks with me.

the strangers

The Strangers

“Because you were home.”

That’s why that movie frightens me on a level I cannot even fathom. Why do bad things happen? Is it luck? Is it just a matter of doing sketchy things that eventually catch up with us? Horror movies like to pose that question. And they give us the answers.

Don’t stay in the haunted house.

Don’t have underage sex.

Don’t drink and do drugs.

Don’t have your car break down in the middle of no where.

Don’t mess with things that you hear dark rumors about.

And if you follow all of those rules… guess what? The Strangers let you know that it might not be enough.

“Because you were home.” chills me like no other line could.

The-Conjuring-2013-BluRay

The Conjuring

I was surprised by this one last year. I expected another run of the mill haunted house movie. I figured it would be ok at best, and at worst we’d get a good laugh in our annual horror movie night.

The Conjuring was legitimately good and scary.

Color me shocked.

All the tricks of other movies seem to be used to better effect in this one. All the things we’re accustomed to in “these types of horror movies” still gave me the creeps when I watched this one. They hit all the notes. Definitely one of the best in the last few years.

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The Ring

The image of the woman after she’s watched the video. That’s the one.

This movie sought to disturb me. And it did an excellent job of exactly that. And yes, I’m only referring to the American version, and that may be blasphemy, but I have to go with what I watched.

The image of the woman crawling out of the tv.

Yes, this one ushered in the J-Horror movies for better and worse, but still… something about the Ring.

The images presented in the video itself.

Maybe that’s just it. It is disturbing. And sometimes that’s enough.

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Dawn of the Dead (Remake) & 28 Days Later

The speed zombie movies. The beginning of the current zombie craze in films. The end of the world.

Post-apocalyptic movies like these show me the best and worst of humanity. They show how quickly all our work and dreams and desires could be ripped away. And while I don’t believe that zombies are going to do us in, I think ever since we discovered the ability to destroy on the level of a nuclear bomb, ever since we’ve found diseases with no cures, and space rocks that could create another extinction event… these are things outside of our control. And that’s what this is – if there is no control, no rules left, then what does it mean to be a person? What does it mean to be human?

In the mouth of madness

In the Mouth of Madness

I’ve written about this one before. Check it out.

invasion of the body snatchers

The Thing (John Carpenter’s version) & Invasion of the Body Snatchers

The idea of something not being who or what they say they are hits me in a way that I’m still not 100% sure of. It is one of the oldest fears available to us, because we want to trust those very people who we know and love. And when that gets taken away from us. When we are no longer sure who we can or cannot trust. When our hearts and minds cannot rationalize a way out… then we are truly screwed.

The thing about both of these movies is that even though they take place in two very different environments, the story is still one about isolation. Sure it is more blatant in The Thing, but Invasion pushes it to the point where surrounded by a street-full of people, you still are not sure who to trust.

These are ideas that will always be there, regardless of the current climate of life.

***

John McGuire

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

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is currently in week two of its 6-part release. Each episode is only $0.99.

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

Hollow Empire – Lessons Learned

My second novel-length project made its first real steps this past weekend. Hollow Empire’s first Episode came out on Friday night to a Kindle reader near you for a whole $0.99. For that you get to meet the characters, get immersed in the world, and get left on one heck of a cliffhanger for… another 2 days. Because that’s when Episode 2 comes out. And then a week later Episode 3 comes out. And so on for 6 straight weeks.

HollowEmpireEP1

Check it out on Amazon here!

Last month I talked about how the project began (in the various emails sent back and forth between Mr. Neill and myself). You can find that here.

The thing about this project was that while we had a bit of a road map, this was different than the way I normally write. Typically I’m working in solitude, late into the night, trying to hit my goals for the night. But even before that I have an outline of some sort set out. It might not have all the twists and turns laid out, but it gives me enough road signs that I know where I’m heading.

It’ll be months working on that 1st draft. A draft that no one else can see (not even Courtney). It is in this draft that I become unafraid to suck. Unafraid to write down everything that my brain might only be tangentially trying to tell me. It all goes in… because I know that when I sit down for Draft 2, I can easily cut the chaff from the wheat.

Or something.

Hollow Empire worked a little differently. Initially we set up goals of turning around the episodes every 3 weeks. At that point I’d send J my 3 chapters and he’d send me his 3 chapters and I’d spend a night or two on edits (and he’d do the same).

Let me say right now that J got the short end of that stick. Especially at the beginning. His chapters were pretty clean overall. A few grammar things, a misspelling or three, and maybe a tweak of some plot (mostly that was me asking questions like this: “Wow, this thing you introduced was cool, how does that work?”).

Editing

Mine were a little rougher. Mostly because, while I did give them a writer edit before sending them on, they were probably closer to 1st draft form than 2nd or 3rd draft form. I can only imagine what J thought when he read that first chapter.

Hopefully it wasn’t a “what have I gotten myself into” situation. 🙂

I believe that by the 5th and 6th episodes I’d cleaned up some of the bigger mistakes, crutches, etc. that I was using (or he’d given up by then).

I’m fairly new at this, but I have to believe that even the JK Rowlings and Steven Kings still learn things with each project they write. Maybe they aren’t the HUGE things anymore, but I have to hope that there are still techniques to figure out… an envelope to push.

And I’m still at the point where everything is HUGE realizations. Writing Hollow Empire, getting that instant feedback, and then doing the edits immediately showed me a different perspective on how my work… worked.

I wasn’t expecting that when I agreed to the project.

The other big thing I learned was that 3 weeks isn’t as long as you think when you have a day job. You see, I was under the assumption that since my nightly goal is 1250 words and our portion of each episode was about 7000 words… well, you do the math. That should be only 6 days. Figure 2 more for any edits. Even if I only write 5 days a week, that’s only half the time.

time slipping away

Well to mis-quote Top Gun: My brain was writing checks that my body couldn’t cash.

I hit the first deadline, no problem. Heck, I had a whole spreadsheet set up with due dates and how long edits would take and so on. By Episode 2 I only barely hit the date, and I’m pretty sure by Episode 3 I was a little late. And so on.

That being said, I would set up the same schedule the next time (3 weeks). Some of the delays were from not knowing the characters quite yet. Some of it was trying to  make sure that I hit the goal posts I’d set up in our initial story meeting. And some of it was vacations and work. At 3 weeks per episode we’d still be done in 4 months. Which leads me to the 3rd thing I learned.

The speed of the project made me a faster writer. More pure. I wrote my characters into corners in one episode and then had to figure out how in the world they were going to get out of that situation. And while that made for some longer nights than I would have liked, I’m hopeful that the end result of not agonizing over every last sentence captures a feeling with the readers.

What I’d like to know now is whether this experiment worked. How do the readers react to those moments and cliffhangers and everything else? Can we make it so they are hyped for a new episode to come out on Friday night?

I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

***

John McGuire

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

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is currently in week one of its 6-part release. Each episode is only $0.99.

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

 

TV Casualty – Please Don’t Feed My Television Screen

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

That lasts for all of about 2 weeks.

tv_addiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

Dragon Con Review

Last week I talked about heading down to Dragon Con over Labor Day weekend. This weekend I tried to make some new memories.

The first thing that always occurs to me is how big the con has gotten since I first went down to it so many years ago. I will say that I believe Atlanta has scheduled a few too many things for Labor Day weekend (maybe). Since we weren’t staying on site (something we’ll hopefully remedy next year), it meant that trying to get into that 10 AM panel presented not only some highway issues…

atlanta traffic

But also actually making our way to that early panel in light of the parade. The sidewalks packed with people, we struggled to reach the Whedonverse panel over at the Westin, only to find it packed.

Boooo!

No problem, we’ll just go to our back-up TruBlood panel… across the street… across a sea of bodies in costumes.

Hmmm.

Which brings us to our first real story. We’re pushing through the mob, but are unsure how we’ll actually get to the Hyatt when behind us we hear a guy asking to get through… carrying a young woman in his arms, passed out from overheating. Of course we make room, as do many of the others lined up on the sidewalk. As they pass, she lifts her head and smiles before resuming her previous “unconscious” state.

Though, Karma is a thing, because the parade was over less than a minute later, so all their deceit got them nothing.

Terminus Media had a panel on Saturday night at 10 PM to discuss the motion comics we’d been working on for the CDC, and to talk about the motion comics side of things in general. Myself and Robert Jeffrey II (a contributor to Tessera) were a part of the panel. About 15 people showed up, and even though there was no real rehearsal, I think we acquitted ourselves pretty well.

It is always weird to see something you had a hand in creating being shown on a screen for others to see (in a good way). Hopefully we did a decent enough job that Dragon Con will invite us to do more next year.

Ran into (literally in couple of cases) a few friends I had not seen in a while. As I touched on last week, that’s one of the biggest and best things about the con – reconnecting. Finding out how everyone is doing. This year I also got to show a complete con newbie around. And she enjoyed it enough that she went ahead and got her 4 day pass for next year.

Aside from not being able to get into the Whedonverse panel (luckily we did get into the Agents of Shield panel on Sunday which had plenty of Whedon love) and not being able to see Cary Elwes (another capped line), there was one big “problem”. The Dealers room is a bit of a nightmare to deal with. I know they are expanding again next year, but there were multiple times that people couldn’t get into the building or into a room because it had reached capacity. If Dragon Con is going to keep getting bigger, they need to figure out a way to handle that.

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Expand, DCon, expand.

Second story of the con – We are ready to leave for the night. It is about 11:45 Saturday evening. I am finished with the Terminus panel and am looking forward to getting home, to bed, and then back again the next day for more fun. We only have to get down the outside stairs of the Hyatt, which for some reason the DCON staff decided to block (with their bodies) so as to allow a line for one of the late night panels to move through.

Now, I don’t have a problem with this if it takes a minute or two. When it takes 10 minutes then maybe you need to pause that line and let the queue of people on the stairs out to where they might be able to get to meeting spots, late dinners, gaming, or home (in our case). What kills me is that they finally did have to pause that line because I think we were about to storm through them. Not the best way to end the night.

Oh, and I did have one huge regret.

C. Thomas Howell had a panel (along with Cary Elwes) and not only did I not know about it, I didn’t know he was there at all. Those that know me know of my fierce love of 80s movies that include C-Tom (as I like to call him).

Yes, they know about it even if they don’t understand it!

Anyway, I just wanted to let him know that he still holds the distinction of being in the greatest volleyball movie of ALL TIME – SideOut.

Sideout

Summer did, in fact, get hotter!

A bold statement, for sure, but one I stand by. Regardless of the fact that I’m not sure there are other volleyball movies!

So that was a bit of my Dragon Con for the year. I can’t wait to see what next year brings!

***

John McGuire

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

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

 

Dragon Con Memories

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

Dragon Con 2014

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

ASM-300

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then came Firefly and Serenity.

ImageDayFireflyMotivational

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

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

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

And I had her.

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

That’s all it took.

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

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

It’s glorious.

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

sad panda

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

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

Hope to see you this weekend!

***

John McGuire

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

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