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?

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Today’s Style

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

Today's Style

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Today’s Style

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

Today's Style

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Today’s Style

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

Today's Style

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.


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To Whomever May Find This

Published on June 6, 2014 by in Writing

When John Mierau asked me to be part of WALK THE FIRE 2: MAY THE FERRYMEN TAKE YOU, he had a very specific request. See, for some reason, John’s shared universe about the women and men who walk through giant flames, alone, in order to travel from one world to another–the titular “Ferrymen”–resulted in some very heavy stuff.  In John’s words, he wanted something that would “lighten the mood.”

Once I started writing, it quickly became clear that my entry to the  WTF universe, would have not a  Ferryman, but a Ferrymouse.

This is how it starts:

To Whomever May Find This,

This is probably crazy. But we live in a crazy universe, and I suppose this is less crazy than pretending the possibility might not exist. My therapist says I need to be open to possibilities, so here I am, being open.

You see, I think this mouse brought me your watch.

I came home to see him there in the combination living room/bedroom/kitchen of my apartment, with this watch I had never seen before. It had a series of moons on the face, and is probably very expensive. It went to 14, so I figured it must be from Caro, or Felice, or maybe an orbiting station that has 28 hour days. But, not from around here, is what I’m saying.

So, I followed the mouse. As much as I could, I mean. I found his hole, and I think, I really do think I saw a Flame in there. A small one. And wouldn’t you know it, he scurried right through it, not a singed hair.

I thought, I’ve seen this mouse before, right? Maybe he’s a Ferryman. A Ferrymouse. A Ferrymouse who stole your watch. Maybe he just goes back in forth between this apartment and where ever you are. Where are you? Is it Caro? I’ve never been to Caro. I’ve never been anywhere.

In any case, if you get this, please tie a note to the neck of this mouse, as I have done. (he seems to be very tame, but if you have trouble catching him, I have found a bit of igninut-butter on the end of a precariously-balanced tube over a bucket works really well). Just say yes, it is you, and it is your watch, and that this mouse is a Ferrymouse and I’m not imagining things.  That’s all I’m looking for.

If this is true, and this mouse is a reliable courier, I’ll send you your watch.


Read the rest in WALK THE FIRE 2, MAY THE FERRYMEN TAKE YOU. You can also subscribe to the podcast.






The Battle of Blood and Ink: A Fable of Flying City
Purchase available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BooksaMillion, Powells Books, IndieBound, Walmart, Overstock and your local bookseller.
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