Happy New Year and looking ahead to 2017

cmcoloredHappy New Year everyone! I know some of you are ready to put 2016 behind you, but I’m ever the optimist so I’m anticipating 2017 to be a great year. I’ll add the obligatory “I can’t believe it’s 2017 already! Where has the time gone?”

I don’t have a lot of convention appearances lined up just yet, but one is fairly immediate. On Jan 19-20, I’ll be a guest at Auburndale City Con (near Lakeland, FL). The other shows I have lined up are: Daytona Beach Comic Convention on April 23, MegaCon in Orlando in May, Wizard Orlando in August. I’ll do something for FCBD (Free Comic Book Day) in May, but don’t have that hammered down yet. Wherever I end up, it’ll likely be with my pal Barry Gregory—three years running. Last year his lovely and talented wife, Jenni joined us, as did Thomas and Rene Florimonte. So, I’ll be somewhere, just not sure where yet. I hope to add a few more shows to the list, and I’ll be sure to let y’all know.

silverblade-cover-posterOn the family front, Brittany is starting 2017 off in LA as she seeks work there. I’m anxious to learn all that she’ll be getting to do this year and anticipate seeing her on the screen before the year is up! Brett will become a senior this year—OH MY!—and he’s becoming quite the young man. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my weekly (mostly) pleasures is my Friday night game session with Brett. Now that Brittany is in LA, she’s talked about joining us…if she can figure out the time difference. BJ’s still working hard on her Young Living business venture and we’re both pretty excited to see what’s in store for her there. If you haven’t “liked” her FB page yet, I’ll ask that you please go do it now: CLICK HERE!

I’m pretty excited about several things on the creative front. I’m working on two projects with long time friend and artist Dean Zachary. I’ll give you more as they develop, but a peek at them looks like: the first we’re calling SilverBlade and the high concept is Indiana Jones meets John Constantine. Joining me and Dean on SilverBlade is Barbara Kaalberg on inks and Thomas O’Connor on colors. You should see an image on this page somewhere. The second project Dean and I are working on is a revamp of Cat & Mouse, a series I did with the talented Mitch Byrd (and Steven Butler on some of the early issues) back in the late 80s/early 90s. Dean and I have made changes and updates, obviously, but the spirit will remain. The first story is about human trafficking, something I’m pretty passionate about. While Barb inked the image you see on this page, we’ve got another super-talented inker in mind to join us here, and the coloring is done by Kevin Gallegly.

Demon's Tails Ad

Demon’s Tails Ad

I can’t mention C&M without folks thinking about Demon. I’m excited to say that Paul Pelletier has agreed to reunite with me and produce a second Demon’s Tails mini-series. As I write, we’re still working on the story details, and—of course—the story will have to move at Paul’s pace, but I’m excited that we’re getting started on it. Thomas Florimonte has agreed to round out the reunited team as inker. So, yeah, I’m pretty excited about it. Long time pal Barry Gregory colored the image you see here, and we’re currently planning for it to be part of the Gallant Universe where Barry and Steven have just wrapped up their incredible John Aman, Amazing Man series. If you haven’t seen it, you need to check it out!

There’s nothing really specific that I can mention, but I’ve been talking to Barry about some pretty cool comic-related projects. I’m looking forward to more on that end. Sorry about being so mysterious about it. You know that you’ll be the first to know when I can talk about it…but the possibilities are pretty exciting.

Hope your year looks to be as exciting as mine. Happy New Year one and all!

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Merry Christmas and 2016 in review

Where oh where has the blo-ger gone? (to the tune of “where oh where has my little dog gone”). Yep, it’s been a full month since I’ve posted here. As I frequently tell my students, there’s no excuse for submitting work late. I’m just glad that my blog isn’t for a grade or for a paid assignment!

It has been a hectic month…and I’ll talk about some of that in a minute, but since I’m at it, I figure I’ll just do my annual year in review!

Though many have decried 2016 as a terrible year (the deaths of many celebrities seems to be the main cause of this), 2016 was a pretty decent year. I was fortunate to be able to do a big handful of comic conventions this year, including ACME Comic Con, Daytona Comic Con (in both April and December!), Lebanon MegaCon, FCBD, MegaCon (Orlando), Friendly Neighborhood ComicCon (Paragould, AR), SanDiego ComicCon, Wizard Richmond, SmashCon, and Clermont Comic Con. While they were all good fun, the highlight was probably the SDCC where I got to go thanks to my pal Barry Gregory of Ka-Blam. It was my first visit there in over 15 years and I got to see a lot of pals and colleagues I have seen in about that same time. Of course, while I love comics and enjoy talking with readers of my work (old and new readers alike), one of my enjoyments of comic conventions is to see and hang out with friends, particularly those other oddballs who also make comics.

Another highlight was the Kickstarter I ran with super-talented artist Deonna Herrold and the following release of our comic TINY. The responses, while few, have been overwhelmingly positive. The most common question I’m asked—which is good for a writer’s ego—is will we do more. The answer is that I don’t know. Deonna is still in school and the work on Tiny was time-consuming and she wants to give it her all in finishing. Once she graduates, she has assured me she’d let me know if she’s up for more. You can grab a copy of Tiny #1 here at IndyPlanet in either print or digital. It will also be available on Comixology in just a matter of days. #2 will follow.

I got involved in a critique group that has really helped me on the writing front. We may have actually started in ’15, but this year we were active and it helped me a lot! I really appreciate the other three writers!

Taken in November 2016. All of us!

Taken in November 2016. All of us!

The stats of my blog aren’t available to me yet as wordpress hasn’t sent me the annual report just yet—still 5 days left in the year. 2009 likely remains my “best” year in terms of numbers. I blogged a lot that year about writing (sometimes twice a week) and I spoke at multiple writer’s conventions, generating a lot of traffic. As noted above, I sometimes go an entire month without blogging. >sigh<

It continued to be mostly good in the classroom. The animation portion of my class has been removed and I now focus 100% on comic writing. I’ve been doing that for just a couple of months and I really enjoy the content a lot more. My students are still about 85-90% uninterested in comics; most of them want to be screenplay writers. Though I have seen an uptick in fledgling novel writers (why they’re at Full Sail, I don’t know). It’s greatly illuminating about comics today and I wish there was a way to get the larger comic-creating community to take note: the most common “negative” comments I get from these students is that after reading a work, they have no idea who the characters are/were, where the story took place, or any of the basics of story-telling. I find it’s because many “modern” comic writers are so afraid of words they don’t give readers the information they need to understand the story.

Ah well.

The biggest change in the Mann household this year is that my daughter has made the big move out to Los Angeles to find work in the entertainment industry (good news! She’s already been approached for work in January! Woo-hoo!). Momma is going to hang with her a bit to help her get settled before coming home. It will not be easy for her to get on that plane, so prayers and good wishes are greatly coveted from you about that.

Okay—Merry Christmas all. Thank you for reading my blog. Next week I’ll talk about my expectations for 2017!

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Con Report: Paragould Friendly Neighborhood Comic Expo

So, this post was written and somehow got filed away in my “saved” files without me ever posting. So, as is the mantra of many comic artists, better late than never! (oh stop it, you artists! I’m just kidding!)

———–

Me and mah boy!

Me and mah boy!

Imagine my surprise when I learned that Paragould, Arkansas was having a full-fledged comic/geek convention! And it happened to be near a time when I would be in town (Piggott, but that’s close enough) to try to attend. Of course, my second thought was “why didn’t they do that when I actually lived nearby!”

Regardless, I was extremely happy to be a part of the comic guestlist for the inaugural Friendly Neighborhood Comic Expo in Paragould, Arkansas. And if you didn’t make it out, shame on you! It would have been well worth your time! The good news is, the con-organizer is already planning a second one!

New readers of Tiny!

New readers of Tiny!

There are three main things I enjoy when I go to comic conventions: the first is meeting fans old and new and talking with them about my projects. Yep, this is certainly an ego thing as all creative types like to hear that there is something about a work they’ve done that stood out with a fan. The second is getting to hang with the creators that I know. A third is getting to meet creators I’ve never had the opportunity to meet before. The cool thing about Paragould is all three of these things happened.

Me, Jason Boyster and son Greydon.

Me, Jason Boyster and son Greydon.

Jason Boyster approached me with his son, Greydon, and picked up a copy of (actually, I forget—but maybe it was Krey). Jason remembered talking to me in the late 90s when I’d actually been at a booth at the Piggott Fourth of July Picnic. He enjoyed our conversation and the books he picked up. He wanted to share a similar moment with his son. Yeah. Pretty cool, huh? Makes a writer all misty-eyed!

Friend Mitch Foust was an artist guest at the show and our mutual good buddy, mega-talented Dean Zachary made the drive up with his sweetheart (brave Dean, introducing her to the comic scene!) to say hi and to deliver a very cool item to me (sorry, that’s all you get for now. You’ll get more later—promise!). John Lucas was there, but didn’t get to talk much to him as he stayed pretty busy!

Timothy Lim (waving) and Mark Pellegrini (oblivious!).

Timothy Lim (waving) and Mark Pellegrini (oblivious!).

I also got to meet artists Timothy Lim, Kelly Williams, Larry Cathey as well as Timothy’s writer pal Mark Pellegrini. Many of us piled up and went to eat on Saturday night where we had a blast! (and my fifteen year old son got hit on by our 20-something waitress!) We talked comics, art, geeky stuff, a little politics (friendly, though, not that facebook hatred stuff) and more comic geeky stuff. Made me really wish I was back in that area because of the coolness!

My cousin, Dr. Kevin Mann stopped by to say hi. He’s made his home and dentist practice there in Paragould. Always nice to see family. And, of course, speaking of family, I love it when my kids get to go with me…and Brett got to attend the show with me! It’s always a fun papa time to show off mah kiddos!

So, not sure if I’ll get to make it back next year—I hope so. But if you’re in the area, you should plan to go!

View from the running track above

View from the running track above

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Appearing at… for the next two weeks—come see me!

The next two weekends will see me staying busy at some local comic shows, so make your plans now to come out, have some fun, do some geeky stuff, see me and talk about comics!

This weekend, Sunday, Nov 13, I’ll be one of several guests at the Daytona Beach Comic Con. Also there you’ll find my pals Jeff Whiting (who’s running a kickstarter: go support him here: Shanghai-Breathing Fire) and John Crowther (who will be joined by artist Dell Barras and promoting their kickstarter. Go pledge to it here: Nikolai). The Riley and Kimmy show will be there talking about all things geek (maybe I can twist his arm to talk to me again?). If you’re not listening to the show, what’s your excuse? Listen here! There will be others there, too, so plan to go!

You can “join” the event at this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/244038252638629/

Or you can simply “like” the event at this one: https://www.facebook.com/Daytona-Beach-Comic-Book-Convention-109085789161874/

Do both and I’ll see you Sunday!

Me talking with Patrick of the Riley and Kimmy show at the last Daytona Beach Comic Con:

Then, next week, I’ve got two separate events; so if you can’t make it to one you can make it to the other. On Saturday, Nov 19, I’ll be at SmashCon in Sanford, Florida. It will be my first time there, but this will be the 8th year for the show. I’m excited to be a part of the show as the proceeds (some? All? Not really sure about the specifics) go to benefit Toys for Tots. Also there will be comic legend and superstar (as well as one of my all-time personal favs!) George Perez!

You can “join” the event at this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1564137850555216/

And then the very next day, Sunday, Nov 20, I’ll be a guest at Clermont Comic Con. The Clermont show has also been around for a while, but this will be my first time there, too. The exciting thing about this show is there is a whole bunch of comic book makers there: George Perez, Chuck Dixon, John Crowther, Karl Moline, Pat Broderick and a host of others. You can find the link here: Clermont Comic Con!

I’ll have my books with me that you can pick up—they make GREAT Christmas gifts, and now is the time to start doing your Christmas shopping. Autographs are free from me at all of these events! If you’ve already got something I wrote, you can bring that for an autograph, too! Either way, get your geek on and come see me!

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Election Fatigue

Man…do I have election fatigue like crazy. This has to be a most tiresome election process. Of course I won’t make the claims you can hear on television about (fill in the blank) thing is “the worst in the history of the U.S.” because…the people making those comments obviously don’t know that much about U.S. history.

I’ve personally had to back off of social media quite a bit and I’m anxious for the election to be over, because I miss my friends. FRIENDS!

I’m fairly certain that I’m not in the exclusive position of having friends on both sides of the political spectrum. The problem I have is that there are elements (on both sides) that are just downright hateful. I don’t mind so much when folks talk about the candidates. No, I don’t really like the really hateful comments about either of them (though admittedly, some of the memes can be funny), but I’d much rather read the comments about the candidates than about the supporters of the candidates. Because really, when that happens, it’s like one friend calling my other friend all those things. And it just makes me bristle.

On top of that, comments like “if you support this candidate, unfriend me now” make me think far less of the person writing that comment than the supporter they’re supposed talking about. It’s shocking to me because I find it hard to believe that I have friends who are that shallow minded. I mean, really. So this person “supports” this candidate. Does that really mean you don’t want anything to do with them? Really?

The worst part of it is—and I really wish people would give this strong consideration before getting diarrhea of the mouth—is that unless you have unfriended everyone who doesn’t think exactly as you do, then when you call supporters of the candidate “racist, baby-killing, homophobic, criminals,” you’re actually calling your friends that. And…I dunno. That just doesn’t strike me as very friendly.

I don’t really like either candidate; my vote is a vote against one rather than for one. But my vote is going to go to one of them, so when you make the nasty comments about anyone who votes for that candidate, you’re really saying that about me. And when you say those nasty things…I just gotta wonder if that’s really what you personally think about me after all.

I’m just ready for the election to be over so that my social media feeds can once again be about comic books, movies (Dr. Strange, anyone?), music, and family.

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Comparing worship services

Recently, thanks to the invitation of a good friend, I had the opportunity to attend a Catholic Church service for the first time in my life. I’ve been to weddings before that were held in a Catholic Church building, but that’s not the same. It both was and wasn’t what I expected. Lemme ‘splain…

First, it was very ritualistic. All jokes aside about how ritualistic Catholics are, the service was very much so. But I don’t mean that in a negative way; it’s just they do things just so. In fact, when I think about the Southern Baptist services I attend and have attended over the years, they’re almost ritualistic, too. We’re more informal about it, but we do the SAME thing week in and week out. If that isn’t “ritual,” I don’t know what is.

I expected to see the congregation at the Catholic Church a bit more dressed up than my church…but I guess down this way everyone attends church in “Florida casual.” Even at my church, it still feels awkward to me as I was raised to put on my “Sunday best” for church. The Catholic priests dressed far better than my own Baptist preacher, who often wears blue jeans with his shirt untucked.

The message by the priest was shorter than any Baptist preacher I’ve ever heard. It was short, but just as hard hitting and he pulled no punches (he talked about abortion!). While I much prefer our preaching; the Catholic message was poignant, just short. Our preacher comes across more as a teacher/lecturer. I quite like our pastor because he also doesn’t shy away from the tough subjects.

The biggest difference—and it was a stark difference, one I wouldn’t have even thought about had I not attended the service—is the reverential atmosphere at the Catholic Church. It felt like worship. Heck, in my church, the music often come across as a performance; our “worship band” actually uses dry ice to fog up the stage and 1980s style light rigs. I often feel like I’m at a rock concert (and I went to plenty of those in my younger days) and want to hold a lighter up over my head. They tell us to sing along with them and then blind me with lights in my eyes. Half of the time I have to sing “watermelon, watermelon” because I don’t know the words and then I can’t even see the screen to read them! (Okay, “half” may be an exaggeration, but you get what I’m saying) And when I can see the lead singer—I mean, the worship leader—he’s dressed for a concert, even wearing a hat in the sanctuary. I don’t know about you, but my mama taught me that you were to never wear a hat inside a building, and you sure as shooting don’t wear one in the house of God. Our lead singer should have been informed by the pastor (or at least one of the crew of them) that he can wear his stage vests, but he needs to take off the hat while performing in the sanctuary. More times that not, this video springs to mind when our worship band plays.

(in a note of fairness, and because probably one or two of my church pals may read this, the worship leader mentioned above is no longer at our church and the new one does not wear a hat)

All in all, my experience in the Catholic worship was a very positive and I’m thankful that my good pal, Doug Texter, invited me and my family to attend with him. I should have said “no,” though…because after I visited with him, he up and moved to a different state! 🙂

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Lake Collect-A-Con this Saturday!

Space Ghost endorses Demon's Tails!

Space Ghost endorses Demon’s Tails!

Tomorrow, Saturday, October 1, for one day only, you can find me and a host of other creative folks at Lake Collect-A-Con in Mt. Dora, Florida (for those unsure, it’s just north of Orlando, but still in driving distance).

This will be my second time to be a comic writer guest at the show and I’m looking forward to a fun show like I had the last time! [see the pic of Space Ghost endorsing my Demon’s Tails graphic novel!]

Good lineup of guests this year, too. The headliner, of course, is superstar and super nice guy, George Perez (hint to all you collectors: I’ll have copies of Genesis #0, that has a cover by George!).

Genesis #0 cover by George Perez

Genesis #0 cover by George Perez

Also there will be Rob Guillory, an artist I’ve never met but whose work I’m familiar with on Chew! I’m hoping to get the opportunity to say hi to him.

At a table beside me will be my good pal and comic creator Barry Gregory (Amazing Man) and his comic creating wife Jenni Gregory (Dreamwalker). We’ll all have books you can pick up and we’ll even sign them for you!

Parking is free, so get on up to Mt. Dory and pay us a visit!

Other shows in my immediate future include November 13 at the Daytona Beach Comic Con and November 20 at the Clermont Comic Con! Make your plans to come see me!

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