magnify
formats

Where You Can Find Me At Durham Comics Fest

Published on October 20, 2014 by in Appearences

The Durham County Library, in their infinite wisdom, has invited me to be a guest at Durham Comics Fest at the Southwest Regional Library (3605 Shannon Road) this weekend. It is a pretty collection of guests that I am a part of, so I looking forward to this appearance to ridiculous degree. Should be tons of fun.

I’ll be doing a Teen Costuming Workshop at 4:00 pm on Friday at the Southwest Regional Library (3605 Shannon Road). I will be showing the assembled young adults how to make a superhero cowl of their very own. As you can see by the one above modeled by my friend Sara, once could use this pattern to mimic existing heroes, or to come up with a character of their very own. Space is limited on this, so sadly, registration required. Call 919-560-8590 to reserve your spot. No previous sewing experience required, though a familiarity of how to use scissors would extremely useful.

On Saturday at 12:00 pm is “Writing for Artists, Drawing for Writers,” a panel discussion with me and Brian Shearer about creating comics. We’ll both have books for sale and be signing afterwards. Unlike the workshop, there is no age limit on this event. Comics lovers of all ages are all should come as we dig in the nitty-gritty of creating a story with words and pictures.

I’ve always said that if left to my own devices I’d just end up talking about Batman, and the DCF is putting my years of Batman Studies to the test. At 4:30 pm on Saturday, I’ll be discussing “The Many Faces of Batman,” delving into why this frankly bizarre character has lasted for 75 years, and why there seems to be no story you can’t drop the Caped Crusader into, from street-level noir to epic outer-space adventure. This talk is recommended for adults and teens, but kids are welcome too. I’ll be throwing around some academic terminology, but the end of the day, I’m still talking about Batman.

North Carolina is my old stomping grounds, so its exciting to have an excuse to be back. Hope to see you there!

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

The Difficutlies Of Finding Cecily

Published on October 19, 2014 by in Dithering

…In miniature form, at least.

As a reward for finishing the first revision of my novel The Wish Of All Things, I promised myself I could buy a miniature of my protagonist, Cecily Rose. Yesterday, I finally reached the end of the final chapter, with Wish Of All Things v2 clocking in at respectable 84k words or so. While I was forbidden from purchasing a miniature until I was done, I spent plenty of time looking for a proper miniature to represent Cecily. This proved harder than I thought.

As those of who have listened to my reading of Chapter 7 of The Wish Of All Things know, Cecily is a teenage trans-girl in a fairy-tale-esque fantasy world who likes fancy dresses, the theater, swordfighting and is very proud of her long flowing hair. So I needed a sword-wielding woman in a long skirt, with long hair and no cleavage.

This is apparently impossible.

There were many women with long hair and long skirts but no sword. There were many swordswomen with no cleavage, but short hair. And pants. Swords = pants, apparently. I couldn’t even a swordswoman who had girded her loins. Also, many of the women’s poses were static, especially if the character was wearing a skirt. I wanted this minature of Cecily at least imply action.

Luckily, my local gaming store–hiya, Redcap’s Corner!–had many of Reaper Minature’s Bones line, which are inexpensive and plastic, so they can be cut apart and glued together with relative ease. I walked out with two different pirates and a “townsfolk strumpet” and set to work Frankensteining them to fit my vision. This is the result:

Cecily Rose, unpainted

Still pretty static, but what was once a coquettishly raised skirt is now a fighting stance, what was hand on a cocked hip is now a sword ready to block an attacker, what was an impressive amount of cleavage for someone less that 2 inches tall is now, well, not. This miniature is clearly an Action Princess, which is Cecily all over.

I’m looking forward to painting her. What color skirt would an Action Princess have, I wonder?

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
3 Comments  comments 
formats

Today’s Style

Published on October 10, 2014 by in Today's Style

Today's Style

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

Today’s Style

Published on October 8, 2014 by in Today's Style

Today's Style

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

Today’s Style

Published on October 7, 2014 by in Today's Style

Today's Style

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

I Am Ridiculously Proud of THE BATTLE OF BLOOD & INK


The Battle of Blood & Ink is the story of Ashe, badass journalist on a steampunk flying city, and what happens to her when she finds out far more than she bargained for. It’s about overturning an unjust society, but, more than that, it’s about a young woman’s journey of self-discovery. The fact that said journey is set amongst explosions and rayguns and airships is just icing on the cake.

Ashe is one of my favorite characters I’ve every created. In part because, as you can see above, she gives no fucks.

The Battle of Blood & Ink was done in collaboration with Steve Walker, who’s linework knocks my dialogue right out of the park. He’s something else, that Steve.

Now, the hardcover of The Battle of Blood & Ink is out of print, but I’ve squirreled away a bunch of ‘em, and will have them on sale at Table H4 at the Small Press Expo. Because I realize we’re all on a budget these days, and really, really, really want you to own a copy of this book I am so proud of, these hardcovers will be at the SPX special price of $10 a piece.

A hardcover graphic novel featuring a kick-ass, sharp-witted heroine who battles a corrupt system with airships and raygun at only $10? Who could possibly pass that up?

I’m ridiculously proud of The Battle of Blood & Ink. You should come by Table H4 and get a copy.

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

Inside Comrade Cockroach Adventures

What’s this? Oh, just some of the madness you can expect to find inside COMRADE COCKROACH ADVENTURES. That’s all.

You can pick up a copy at Table H4 at the Small Press Expo this weekend.

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

Dead Kids On A Train

Published on August 27, 2014 by in Culture Diary

Let’s talk about Ressha Sentai ToQger for a moment.

Ressha Sentai ToQger is the most recent iteration of Power Rangers, currently airing in Japan. It also a waking nightmare.

To start off with these 5 teenagers above with were given those railroad crossing gate-themed wrist-devices by a mysterious individual called The Conductor. The Conductor rides the Rainbow Line train, and enlists our heroes to stop the Shadow Line train from taking over the earth by covering it in darkness. Our five heroes of them have amnesia, unable to remember anything after their childhoods. According to Ticket, the monkey hand-puppet worn by The Conductor, that’s because they’re dead.

The revelation, mind you, is how the first episode ends. “That’s because you’re dead,” the monkey puppet says. Smash to credits.

Damn, Japan.

Here’s the thing, though. Who these possibly dead amnesiac kids are is unimportant. These heroes are gleefully presented as cyphers, men and women with no past, no lives, and who, thanks to the special “changing lines” gimmick of their wrist devices,  are literally interchangeable.

This because the main narrative weight is given to the Shadow Line. The beautiful, beautiful Shadow Line.

Who are the Shadow Line? Let’s see, there’s General Shwartz, who is some sort of Nazi cyborg with a shriveled death-rictus for a face. He is our romantic lead. There’s Baron Nero, who’s elegant frock coat accessorized with over-sized raven skulls paints him to be the group’s fussbudget. True to form, he’s only one actually interested in tormenting humanity. Madame Noir, who’s head is a mass of tentacles with a mask in front of it, may be wearing her dead husband’s beaked face as hat. She’s got her own plans and schemes. That last ogre-looking one is Gritta, whom Madame Noir is pushing into a marriage with the Emperor of Darkness. Gritta, however is in love with General Shwartz.

Gritta will be your favorite character. When she is torn between her marriage and her love for the Nazi Cyborg Corpse you will gasp at the fake tears running down her immobile latex face. When Gritta grabs a knife and runs away from home, you will be concerned for her safety. And when the horror that is her wedding happens, YOU WILL NOT BE PREPARED.

George R.R. Martin dreams of writing a wedding like the one in Ressha Sentai ToQger.

Ressha Sentai ToQger laughs at traditional plot structure. Despite existing as one of the most formulaic stories known to humanity–the kid’s superhero tale–it nevertheless has a weird, dream-logic narrative. Adding to the weird Shining Time Station decor and the Guilermo del Toro-esque designs of the monsters, there’s a strong Lynchian vibe to every episode. Citizens in normal suburban towns act in unusual, often violent ways. Characters die multiple times, brushing it off. Bodies and identities are as mutable as clay.Written words change reality. The faceless robot is only interested in sex. And through it all, that weird monkey puppet knows more than he is letting on.

Though our heroes win every episode, it feels less and less like a victory. Despite their clear enthusiasm, they are horrible at being superheroes. The best that can be said is that they don’t make matter worse. The Shadow Line has more soldiers, more towns, more screen time. By focusing on the villains, Ressha Sentai ToQger calls in to question its heroes’ very heroism. Sure, their doing good things, but what is the point?

In the most recent episode, Ressha Sentai ToQger got as close as any show whose main fuel is madness to presenting its thesis statement. The ToQuers enter a town that had been taken over completely by the Shadow Line. This town was no longer on any map, and seemed to exist inside a black hole. The denizens of the town are frozen in place, neither alive nor dead, merely immobile. This, the show is saying, over halfway through the season, this is what we’re fighting against.

Most shows of this type, where the heroes literally transform and the main fanbase is about to go through puberty, wring out their tension from body horror, people forced to become monsters against their will. Not Ressha Sentai ToQger. What is the most scary here isn’t becoming something else. It’s not becoming anything at all. A petrified apathy, where nothing changes. In a true dream-logic metaphor that would have made Grant Morrison punch the air if only he’d thought of it, Ressha Sentai ToQger reveals that the worst thing to happen to you is nothing at all.

Nothing happens. For all eternity.

Ressha Sentai ToQger is show for babies that is about rainbow-colored heroes fighting monsters with the power of imagination. But it is also a 48-episode meditation on coping with death. By using dead kids on a train.

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

Soon, The Small Press Expo Will Be Upon Us

Published on August 23, 2014 by in Appearences

Luckily, I am prepared.

I was fortunate this year to have literally won the lottery and garnered a table at SPX. Since good fortune best shared, also sitting at this table will be my partner in comics, Steve Walker, Leah Riley, and Robert Wertz. Sounds like a good crowd, don’t it? Where will this wonderful table of fun and frivolity be located, you ask?

Right here:

You read that plural correctly! I’ll have multiple comics for sale at Table H4!

Since both Steve and I will be at the table, we’d be fools not to have THE BATTLE OF BLOOD & INK there as well. For those of you who need reminding, BLOOD & INK is the story of Ashe, a reckless journalist on a steampunk flying city, on a mission to expose the misdeeds of the city’s ruling class. It is, in my entirely unbiased opinion, a heartbreaking work of staggering genius, and everyone should own a copy.

Speaking of books I’ve worked on with people, I will also have copies of Syrup Pirate’s anthology MOLASSES, which not only has a short story by me involving a raccoon and a fox baking a cake, but also has a story by the aforemention Robert! Jason Payne, the mastermind behind the book, will also being hanging around. I did tell you this was going to be a fun table, did I not?

Last but certainly not least, we have COMRADE COCKROACH ADVENTURES, a collection of strips from ASK COMRADE COCKROACH, plus 2 of the stories made possible by THE COCKROACH STRIKES! Kickstarter. I am incredibly happy with how this comic came out, and am looking forward to showing it off to all the unsuspecting SPX denizens. MWAH-HA-HA!!!

So, let’s see…I’ll have a black & white graphic novel with a strong female protagonist who deals with issues of class and community responsibility, a silly animal comic where animals act silly, and a darkly comic take on superheroes and villains. I think its safe to say I’ll have something for everyone!

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 
formats

We Are All Brief Moments

Published on August 19, 2014 by in Autobiologic

It is physically difficult to write about cancer. I’m not doing anything more than touching my laptop keys and yet the strain is immense. My body is telling me that I can’t do this. That I shouldn’t. But I need to take this brief moment to write about cancer. About my father. About P.G. Holyfield. And it shall be brief, for I cannot talk about one without talking about the others.

They are all brief moments.

P.G. Holyfield, a friend and writer of considerable talent and not near enough reknown, is currently and very quickly dying of cancer. As I write this, he is, the parlance of the medical establishment, in active decline. By the time I post it, he may well be gone.

Nine years ago, my father died of cancer. Unlike P.G., his death was slow, a piecemeal end of repetitive surgeries and treatments. He had a scar that blossomed on his chest and neck like a tree, a receipt for all the tissue doctors had to withdraw. In a way, I am grateful for this death by degrees. We knew it was coming, we had time to say what needed to be said. I move forward in life knowing that he loved me and believed in me. Not every child can say that about their father.

I don’t know if P.G.’s daughters feel the same reassurance. I imagine they do. P.G. was nothing if not a restless engine of support. The entire podcasting community knew that, and we only had him in our lives for snatches of time. Brief moments at conventions, brief moments over Skype, and Google Hangouts, brief moments of a phonecall or an email.

They are all brief moments, even the long ones.

For my wife’s 30th birthday, I asked many of our creative friends to write stories featuring her Doctor Mercury character, for a book that would be printed once. P.G. not only wrote a doozey of a tale, he captured Mercury’s voice perfectly. It was a silly project, but he gave it his all. His unbridled enthusiasm is one of his greatest qualities. As we have all come together, in person and online, to raise our glasses to P.G., it is his willingness and his encouragement that keep being lauded. And rightly so.

P.G.’s struggle is too fast to be etched into his skin, like my father’s was. There is no time for scars. Perhaps there never is. I thought the wounds of my father’s death had scabbed over, only to realize now how truly raw they were.

They are all brief moments, even if they take nearly a decade.

While at GenCon this past weekend, I had difficulty seeing everyone I wanted to. It’s a busy event with a monstrous attendance, so it is lucky I saw anyone at all. I have resolved, since coming home, to make more of those flickers of time that I get with friends I don’t often see. That even if we have never met in real life, to treat them with the warmth and interest that every old friend deserves. Which, I now realize, was how P.G. always treated me. Even in those brief moments.

We are all brief moments. We should make them count.

 

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
7 Comments  comments