With this announcement, my comic career officially comes to an end. Congratulations to everyone who was accepted, except for that asshole from True Blood.😉
I want to say thank you for Top Cow for giving me the opportunity to get published as well as their letter of support. Top Cow allowed me to pitch to them and kept the dream alive a little longer. They are the best in the business and you are missing out if you are not following their work.
Goodbye comics, it was as fun as a long airplane flight to nowhere, but they say all life is a learning experience and perhaps this was a lesson in humility.
You can check out the two comics I published myself on AMAZON or check out Top Cow for the Talent Search winning issue of the Artifacts I wrote.
Thanks to those who have been supportive over the last decade; Laz Novak, David Bovey, Anthony Hary, and all the others who wanted to see great things from me but never got to. I am sorry if I let you guys down. You guys know better than anyone how much I loved the format, but no door ever opened up for me.
A special thanks to the guys in the comic industry who supported me, even though I can be a disruptive pain in the ass. Thank you, Matt Hawkins, Jim Zub and Mike Baron. You guys were always inspirational and I will continue to enjoy and support your work both in and out of comics.
People will often say a group that they belong to is like “a family”. If that is true, I was always the bastard son of comics. It was not the family I was looking for, nor was I the child they wanted. I may seem a bit melancholy right now, it will take a few months to lift this chip off my shoulder and move forward, but I will. There is always something new waiting around the corner.
Mash-ups seem to be a hot topic these days. From Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to Alice Cooper VS Earth, Wind & Fire, today’s generation loves to take two distinctly different things and slam them together. In music, mash-ups have been going on since the creation of rock, but thanks to the digital era just about anyone can take two songs and smash them together. Whereas a remix takes a portion of a song and replaces it with another musical sound or beat, a mash-up will often the full parts of songs and weave them over or beside another song’s vocals or music. When a mash-up is done well, it creates a whole new song that becomes its OWN entity, greater than the sum of its parts.
Perhaps due to their monthly episodic nature, there have been more crazy mash-ups in comics than just about any other genre. From Superman & Spider-Man, to Doctor Who & Star Trek, there have been thousands of crazy comicbook mash-ups. At one point Dark Horse was putting out so many crossover comics with franchises they had acquired that it became a running gag. I believe their peak achievement was Buffy Vs Aliens Vs Predator VS Terminator.
Seth Grahame-Smith is without a doubt the current king of Mash-ups. Not only did his books capture the eye of the internet generation, but he was chosen as the Hollywood go-to guy for mash-up movies. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies managed to make it to #3 on the New York Times bestseller list, mainly due to public interest in the mash-up. Not bad for what is basically a re-write of a public domain novel. I’m not knocking the work, I did the same thing with GAME OF BLOOD . Creating a mash-up requires a whole different skill set than writing in your own words. You have to carefully balance the words of the original author with what you are putting in; if you do it poorly, it will be glaringly obvious which parts of the story were jammed in. Sometimes the material is difficult and requires major re-writes of large parts of the story; other times everything just falls together on its own. I had a lot of help with GOB because Bond was described as cold and inhuman in Fleming’s original novel. All I had to do was emphasize the traits that were already there. It was more difficult to change the villains because once they became vampires too, I needed to devise new ways to kill them off.
Hollywood has been making mash-ups since Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, released in 1943. The biggest mash-up of my generation would have to be Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The film didn’t have the drama or horror of the comicbook series, but everyone knew what it was and who the characters were in it. The way Moore depicted London, England, was a huge inspiration for LONDON UNDEAD. If you love mash-ups, London Undead features the cast of Dracula against a horde of zombies. Fighting both against and with them are the characters from The Phantom of the Opera (now haunting a theater in England) and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. A link to the book can be found at the end of this post.
If you are not sure what kind of story you want to write next, consider a mash-up. They can be fun to write and a great exercise for the brain. I loved writing the mash-ups I’ve done; they were great mental work-outs to get me prepared for writing my own original work. A mash-up might just be what you need to break through that writer’s block.
You can find the book here:
I made a few of these a couple years back but never got them colored or lettered. I am trying now to get them out. I have at least a half dozen of them, all parodies of pulp culture. It was a lot of fun coming up with an idea and then trying to bend the idea to the nine panel grid, as well as trying to explain the joke in the same space and word balloons as the original ads. I was warned by the Charles Atlas estate that I cannot sell these, but they are just two lawyers sitting in an office somewhere and have neither the power or the reach to actually STOP me from making a parody. Here is the first.
EARTH MAN is the first of three books focusing on the battle between Earth’s chosen protector, Danny Boyle, and the alien race known as The Growth.
In order to protect itself from an alien scourge, the planet Earth chooses a good-hearted Canadian to infuse with great power. Danny Boyle finds himself gifted with superhuman abilities and suddenly his simple life in Kelowna, British Columbia is turned upside down. Three monsters no bigger than a flea descend to Earth, burrowing into the flesh of the living creatures of the planet and changing them into the perfect hosts. Their hunger has taken the Growth across the stars and they have left a thousand dead worlds in their wake. Mankind has no idea that evil now walks among them and Danny must quickly learn to decipher the strange clues the animals and the trees are sending him. With the power of Earth’s animals at his command, Danny must find the hero inside of him before everything he knows and everyone he loves is lost.
They have consumed a thousand worlds. The Earth is next. As the planet’s chosen champion, Danny Boyle must learn how to use his power to mimic the abilities of animals to stop an alien species that can consume and mutate flesh.
Available now from Amazon for the Kindle and other devices.
The night was warm and damp, the moon nothing more than a crescent in the sky. Although spring was just starting the heat was beginning to rise in the Trenches. Teela flashed her crystal-light into the darkness, searching for an end to the chasm. Nestled behind an old launderettes, Teela and the half-goblin Grondell were hidden from view by the drying clothes hung across a dozen lines. She could hear the crowds moving up and down the steps, the swishing of water from inside the building, and she hoped that no one would would take an interest in their little alley.
“You see Miss Teela? Dark as forever and just as deep.” Grondell the half-goblin said as he shifted nervously from one bare foot to the next. The squat, green half-breed constantly looked over his shoulder, occasionally peeking out from behind the damp blankets to make sure they were not discovered. It was forbidden to tamper with the stone column which the wealthy city of Spira rested upon and doing so could bring the culprit a death sentence. The golden city overhead allowed the poor to build their homes and businesses on the steps that lead down to the Bay of Raygar, but they could not carve, cut, or alter in any way the stone support that the city rested upon. The geomancers who guarded the stone had the authority of the King and were not afraid to use it. The cliff-side city had stood for fifty thousand summers and was the center of commerce for all of North Borealis. The rich and powerful were afraid that the poor would tunnel it out from underneath their feet and so it was forbidden to alter the stone in any way.
Teela turned off the light and slipped it into her belt. She fished her fingers into a small pouch on her hip and pulled out a small bronze coin which Grondell caught, nodding his head and bowing fervently as he bit it with his gnarled teeth. He had no idea why he bit the metal coin. It was just something he had seem humans do in the market. Satisfied with it he placed it into a dirty pouch that hung from the rope tied around his waist.
“Thank you very much, thank you!” He said. Half-goblins were one of the most reviled half-breed species in North Borealis and they tended to be overly polite and subservient to compensate for the hatred they faced.
Teela had found Grondell while searching the pillar. He had been washing one of his offspring in a pool of water that had gathered behind the tent he lived in, down near the bottom of the steps. She had not believed him when he’d told her of the crack, but there it was.
“Is there anything else I can do for you?” Grondell asked.
Teela unclipped her breastplate and let it drop to the ground softly.
“You can have my armour if you wish; it will only be a burden.” Teela said.
She handed Grondell her ankle guards and he snatched them up, a wide grin spreading across his long face.
“Oh what a blessed day!” Grondell hiss quietly. His eyes glistened with greed and his long nose twitched like a rat. He snatched up the breastplate and used it to collect the other pieces as Teela took them off, piling them in his arms.
Teela Wayland was six foot tall with muscles as hard as steel. She was slim, but defined, and was even stronger than she appeared. Spira was where she had been born, but her skill and strength came from years of hard combat. Teela was a mercenary, a sword for hire and a good one. Until the rise of King Augustus De Pelentas there had been no shortage of work for the sellsword. Her blade had drank its fill of blood and although she had only seen twenty-one summers, she was ready to retire from the merchanary life.
The crevice was six feet high and no more than a foot wide and the crack in the stone was exactly what she had been hoping to find.
Teela stood in the alley in her leather boots and britches, with a white cotton top that clung to her sweaty skin. The night was humid and damp but the stone of Spira felt cold to her touch.
Grondell was barely visible under the pile of battered old armour in his arms.
“My children will grow fat thanks to your divine kindness, Miss Teela. Thank you! Thank you!” Grondell leaned forward to bow and almost lost the armful of metal. Teela held her finger to her lips to silence him.
“It is not a gift. It is a payment, in exchange for your silence. Tell no one else of this spot.”
“Why of course! Grondell has none to tell.” He said softly.
High atop the stone column, miles above their heads, sat the glistening city of Spira, capital of the three kingdoms. Elves from the East had built the castle overlooking the water long ago in antiquity. To transport material from the Bay far below, the Elves had employed giants. Over time the giants had built a staircase almost as big as the castle itself, which curved down on either side. The stone beneath the castle proper- the pillar upon which the castle rested- was where the ancient tales said the Elven treasure was buried.
There were geomancers, employed by the Council of Magic, whose sole purpose was to keep the pillar beneath Spira intact. Were they to discover the crack, they would quickly seal it. If Teela was inside, she would likely never make it out again or worse, she would be crushed to death when the fissure closed. She did not fear death but she would prefer to die with steel in her hand. However, she was experienced enough to know no wealth came without an equal measure of risk. Growing up in the Trenches, Teela had heard all the stories of Spira’s hidden secrets. The stories varied from the ludicrous (a giant slept within the stone), to the mundane (nothing more than rats and spiders). Yet every single myth shared one common element; every story spoke of riches beyond counting. Teela was not one to put much stock in tales told by drunken men, but on the road north back to Spira, she had met an Elf who had his own stories to tell. He was old, the oldest person Teela had ever met, older than many of the towns and villages of North Borealis.
“The stories are true.” He had said. “The Elven people never left Spira.”
It was believed that the human race, led by King Speoni, had driven the Elves out of the castle, back into the sea, back to the eastern realm known as the Wildlands. The old Elf was desperate to return to the Wildlands so that he could be laid to rest in the land where he was born.
“Oh it is true that many Elves escaped thanks to the superior speed and craftsmanship of our ships. But not all. Many remained, forced into hiding in the caverns below Spira.”
She shined the light into the crevice again, just to be certain nothing was hiding inside. Vagrants often slept in the cracks and she did not want be surprised in such a close space by a desperate, homeless creature. Teela had been exploring cracks and caves along the sea cliff since the day she learned to walk, but this one was different. This one went deeper than anything she had discovered before. Teela knew that something was hidden beneath Spira, she could feel it in her bones. The legends of lost riches were true and if she could find even a portion of that mythical wealth, she could leave the mercenary life behind her. Perhaps she might even bear children, she thought half-heartedly.
She took a deep breath through her nose, let it out slowly, than stepped her left foot into the crack.
“Good luck! I hope you make it back!” Grondell whispered.
“If I do, you’ll be richly rewarded.” Teela said as she slipped into the crevice.
“Then I wish you double the luck I wished you before!”
Grondell watched until the human woman disappear into the darkness. Then he slipped out between the hanging sheets, arms full of armour, down toward his home in the slums built along the Bay of Raygar. He hoped that Teela would return, but he doubted it. Grondell would never understand why humans were so willing to crawl into their own graves. He squeezed the armour tight with his scrawny arms, on constant alert for danger. In the city built on the stairs of giants, one had be on constant alert for thieves and murderers.
I know I haven’t been posting much, I think my last post, which was a repost, was two months ago. I took some time away from writing to read again and try to improve my craft. Working my way through the third Game of Thrones book, Storm of Swords, as research for my first fantasy novel which is currently named SPIRA. I have a wordpress site for this book at spiraletters.wordpress.com .
I was very disappointed in myself for releasing London Undead with so many typos. I’ve corrected almost half the book so far, but it takes me way, way, too long to edit my own work. Remember to download the latest version if you have the e-book. I will be giving away free copies once the editing is done, so keep an eye on this space for the next promo, if you don’t have the book already.
At least one new Legion book is coming this year. It is called “FUTURESCIENCEKILL” and will feature a Jamaican American Minute Man trapped in the Future Science Plaza with a group of superhuman zombies. The Legion themselves will not be the main characters of this book, but they will certainly make an appearance. For those who don’t know what a Minute Man is, here is a pic of one of them (Art by Freddie Williams):
After FUTURESCIENCEKILL I am going to be working on a larger arc for the Legion called SATYRS. I’ve always been a huge fan of Alan Moore’s Watchmen and I’ve been planning this re-examination of the work for some time. Essentially it will be a crossover between the Legion and the Watchmen, with names changed so DC doesn’t sue me (although they’d have to read the book first I guess.)
At some point I will get back to BREATHE and EMPEROR, but I expect those books to be projects to finish in 2017.
I want to thank everyone who is still reading this blog, more good things are coming, just be patient!
The Race War is over. The zombies have won.
A flu-like virus ravages the Earth killing everyone within 24 hours. Only the black race seems immune. This blessing soon becomes a curse as the rest of Earth’s population rises as flesh-hungry zombies. Contains 11 scary short stories by various authors.
Some people have a hard time understanding why I had so many black role models, like Mohammed Ali. It’s actually quite simple really; I was always an outsider. I was the ‘other kid’, the white kid that didn’t have the same interests, or religion, or interest in sports. My family never really had the money or the interest in keeping up with our neighbors and I always felt like people didn’t like me around them or their children. That feeling of alienation was something that black people lived with every day of their lives and their struggle to be accepted for who they were was something I could identify with a lot more than I did white culture in the 80’s. Everything I liked as a kid, stuff that people take for granted today, was considered ‘fringe’ and ‘weird’.
Mohammed Ali, Bruce Lee, Malcolm X, these were people I looked up to because they were NOT afraid of white people. Through their eyes, I could see the flaws in my own culture and was able to avoid feeling the way society wanted me to feel for not fitting in. I knew, because of men like them, that I was not the one with the problem, that I was not a kid that needed to be fixed, it was the system that needed to be fixed. Thanks to them, I am a wolf, not a sheep, and there is NO way you can ever say thank you for something like that. That is why I support black culture and why black lives matter to me; because their heroes were my heroes too.
I’ve been rather quiet lately, with minimal posts and no mention of any new books on the way. That is because I decided to let 2016 be a year where I relearn my craft. I am not as good as I want to be, either at writing or editing, and I felt it was time to step back and take a look at what it is I am doing. To be a writer, you have to write, so don’t worry the books are still moving along, just at a slower pace. It is just as important for a writer to actually READ books and this is what I’ve decided to do; to get back to reading stories that I enjoy, that will inspire me, that will show me other ways of telling stories so that I don’t get held back by my flaws. I want to improve the quality of work and in order to do that I need to read books by great authors. I’ve been reading the Game of Thrones series by George RR Martin, as well as the mind-boggling RAMA books by Arthur C. Clarke (and Gentry Lee).
Sometimes you just have to take a break from your own passions so that the fires can cool a little. You never let the flame go out, but you turn down the heat a bit to let it simmer. I want to get better and reading books by people who are truly gifted at the craft is a sure way to do that.
I am currently working on SPIRA as well as a few shorter books. Right now I can’t seem to find the inspiration to do another Legion book, which I apologize for. Just not sure what I have to say as far as superhero stuff goes.
LONDON UNDEAD has been polished up a bit, there is still half the book to go, but be sure you download the latest version and update your edition on your digital devices so you can have the newest edition without some of those glaring mistakes.
Thank you everyone for all the support and hopefully I will have something good for you next year. In the meantime, I will try to keep the blog interesting with more frequent posts.