Lebanon MegaCon tomorrow…and a tease

GeekGatheringMeandZombieMikeI must confess that I’m incredibly excited to let y’all know that I’ve been invited to be a comic guest for the very first time in the state of Missouri, a state where I’ve got a bunch of family and friends way down in the Southeastern boothill! But, the Lebanon Mega Con is not in that part of the state, so the folks I know there will have to drive a ways if the intend to come. (Google maps tells me it’s about a four hour drive from the Piggott, Ark area)

No, the Lebanon Mega Con will be in Lebanon, Mo. If you’re like me, you had to google it. Lebanon is Northeast of Springfield…and I did know where that is! Lebanon finds itself about three hours from Kansas City, about two hours from St. Louis, about three and a half hours from Tulsa, and about three hours from Fayetteville, Ark—so I’m hoping to see a healthy sampling of Hawg fans!

I don’t know many of the other guests, but you may know some of them. You can find a link to the webpage here: and to the Facebook group here.

Some of the “walkers” from The Walking Dead television show will be there. Among them will be Mike Koske (see the picture) who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting before. Super nice guy (for a zombie!). Be sure to get an autograph from him.

Some of the other comic guests include my old pal Jim Hall! Also there will be Billy Martinez, Jeremy Haun, and Samuel Clarke Hawbaker! There will also be a wrestler or two and some cosplay folks there.

While I haven’t seen a final schedule yet, I’ll likely be on a couple of panels where we can talk about breaking into comics, doing comics and that sort of thing.

13059823_10208213325544724_525251584_nAs a way of a teaser, I want to drop this image here. It’s important to a new project I’m involved in…and it’s just so dang cool that I had to show you SOMEthing. More to come.

Anyway, Lebanon MegaCon starts tomorrow, so make your plans to attend! It’s great to see a show in central Missouri! Bring books for me to sign…or if you don’t have any (shame on you!), I’ll have some there for you to pick up. I’ll sign them on the spot! Autographs are free! I’ll see you there!

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Oh where oh where has my little blog gone?

Oh where oh where can it be? Yeah, this happens now and again to me, doesn’t it? I always intend to have a blog entry at least once a week. Most of the time I do just fine…but sometimes things come along and really knock me off track.

Usually it’s a combination of things that just stack up; grading student writing, my own writing, family obligations (I’ve never liked the term—I may be “obligated,” but I actually enjoy spending time and doing things with my family!), and that sort of thing.

Recently it was all these things…plus taxes.

Ugh. Yes. Taxes.

This year, while doing my taxes the week they were due (yes, I waited too long), I learned that I can no longer claim my daughter…who I feed, house, shelter and care for. The reason? She’s twenty-one, made more than four thousand dollars last year, and is no longer a student. Thus, even though I do supply her shelter, her food, and her health care, she had to file taxes on her own and I could no longer claim her as a dependent (all my pals with young kids, take note! It’s coming to you, too!).

And here’s the kicker: Her first time filing she had to PAY taxes. I don’t mean that as in she should get out of paying, but that she owed tax when she filed her return! It would be unbecoming of me as a father to talk about how much money she actually made last year, but I assure you, it was far below the Federal poverty level.

The reason she had to pay was that she made some of her money last year working on indy films—which is a good thing! It’s on the path to do what she really wants to do.

Part of this is just me being frustrated as a dad and not knowing this. Anyone who does much freelance work, or non-employee compensation, knows that you’ve still got to pay taxes on that money. Had I realized it, I’d have suggested that she pay estimated taxes—which is really what got her; the fact that she paid in too little based on what she brought in. I simply thought because I was still covering most of the bills that we could do this until she turned 25.

Nope. Not so.

Lesson learned.

The good news is that I’ve already started on my blogs for the next two weeks. Both of them will be about two new projects that are in the works (which is something else that’s kept me away from here!); one with a couple of established pros that just makes me giddy to think about, the other with a newcomer that’s really going to impress you (and I’ll be hitting y’all up for our kickstarter soon). I really think you’re going to like them both!

 

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Batman v. Superman

So, for those of you living under a rock or in a cave and who might not be aware, Batman v. Superman opened in theaters today.

My Facebook feed, however, has been full of pre-screening reviews and yes, pre-viewing reviews. Many of those have come from people who haven’t even seen the movie yet!

You ask how someone can “review” the movie without having seen it? Yeah, I ask that same question. Yet, it doesn’t stop the hordes of people/fans from claiming that it is better than either of the Avengers movies or worse than any version of Batman that exists to date. Extremes on both sides.

Quite frankly, comic fans are passionate about their heroes. And it isn’t just the comic fans. I’ve seen a smattering of comic pros weighing in without having seen the film.

My take?

Well gee, thanks for asking.

First let me tell you that I’m not anticipating liking the movie that much. I tend to like my heroes to be heroic and the DC based films—in general—have taken a darker tone that just isn’t to my liking. I’m good with darker tones for Batman because…well…he’s Batman! But I don’t like those darker tones for Superman. These guys should be—in my mind—almost complete opposites.

So, I’m just not anticipating this to be in my top 10 superhero movies.

But I’m going to go see the movie with my family on Sunday.

Why, you ask, would I go see the movie if I’m not anticipating to like it that much?

Because…it’s a superhero movie. It’s “my” industry. I’ve heard some grumblings about “superhero fatigue” as regards to the films, but I’m one who is glad that we’re seeing mostly good treatments of characters I like. I like that we’re going to have three big budget superhero movies this summer that are rated PG-13 and I can go to with my family. So while I’m not a fan of the darker DC, I know that SOME are. And so I want to see it do well so that we’ll continue to get superhero movies—some dark, some not.

Plus, it’s Batman VERSUS Superman. What superhero fan wouldn’t pay JUST to see those two duke it and to see what possible explanation they could come up with that allows Batman to SURVIVE being hit by Superman?

How about you? Will you see it?

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ACME Comic Con report and Daytona Beach Comic Con

As the weather begins to warm up down here in sunny Florida, convention season is also kicking in to high gear! The ACME one day show at the ACME Superstore on Feb 27 was a smashing success. I was next to my good pals Barry and Jenny Gregory and there were a LOT of comic book creators there. It reminded me much of the great shows I attended in the late 80s early 90s when you could walk by the tables and buy actual COMIC BOOKS from creators instead of just pin-up art. Needless to say, I was very impressed with the show. I was surprised, however, by the fact that none of my “comic writing” students showed up for the event. What a terrific opportunity to meet people actually making comics and they were no where to be seen. What is it they say about leading a horse to water?

ACME produced a “thank you video” after the event and if you’re watching closely, you can spot me and Barry a couple of different times. Here’s that video.

I’m anticipating great things for this upcoming one day show in Daytona Beach. This will be my third time to do a show at Tom Raupp’s fantastic event and I’m super thankful he’s inviting me back. If you’ve seen me post about this show before, you already know my thoughts: fantastic show with a LOT of comics. If you like to buy and read comics, this is the local show for you. There are probably more comics for sale at this one day event than at the “major” shows I’ve been to in the area where the focus in on tv and movie actors. (I don’t have a problem with them, but sometimes don’t understand why they are at a “comic” convention). Here’s the link to the Daytona Beach Comic Convention page on Facebook. Daytona-Beach-Comic-Book-Convention

daytonabeachcomiccon

 

You want to know what my problem with the Daytona show is? Well, thanks for asking—I’ll tell you. Not enough TIME! You see, of course I’m there to sign my books for readers and fans and to promote my work for new readers and fans…but doggone-it, I like to read comics, too! I want more time to shop! I know what you’re saying: “just do it.” Well, there’s usually so much traffic with the creators that I can’t get away that much. This is good thing and not a bad thing, but there are so many comics there that I want to spend more time shopping. Last time I walked away with a stack of about 30 comics!

So, It won’t just be me there, you can also meet comic creators (and my pals) Barry Gregory and Jeff Whiting (who’s running a Kickstarter—click below and go pledge before he’s done! )…and a host of others. Come see me!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1875051451/extraterrestrial/

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Changing tech and the internet

Recently I was having a conversation with my son Brett about the internet; it was mostly about online gaming, but it was about the internet at large. And I told him about my first experience with the “world wide web,” which I remember clearly.

I’ve probably said here before, but I’ve had email for a long time, since 1989. The first service I bought was America Online (AOL). At the time, it was purely an email thing. I had friends who, about that same time, had other providers. I remember my writer pal Mark McElroy showing me Prodigy (just before I got AOL) and me being impressed. It was basically an email system with some fancy message boards…but it was very impressive. I went with AOL because it was cheaper and I’d just gotten married and moved out into the sticks. AOL, at the time, was done over the phone lines. Thus, if I was “online,” we couldn’t use the phone. A couple of times a day I would log on—send and receive messages—and log off.

When I worked for Malibu, many of the editorial crew also had email, but the company also had an intranet, a system of messaging that only worked in-house. Malibu was incredibly tech savvy, thanks primarily to one of the founders, Chris Ulm, who was a bit of a tech nerd and pushed the tech to the others. I don’t mean to make it sound as if they resisted—they did not (that I’m aware of, anyhow), but it was Chris that pushed using the tech to help the company. Before Marvel shut everything down, I was getting most scripts from my writers either via a floppy disc in the mail, or via email. It was really very revolutionary in house!

Sometime around 1994, I was having a conversation about the “world wide web” with my wife, BJ. She mentioned something about seeing pictures/images, to which I said she was wrong and she had to have been talking about something else. We went to her office and she proceeded to prove me wrong. I was so amazed she had to kick me off her computer. I raced to mine, downloaded early Mozaic…and life was never the same.

When Brett asked me what was the first “online” game I played, I had trouble remembering. It was probably AGE OF EMPIRES around the late 90s with my friend Tony Fortenberry. I remember, however, playing “play by email” games in which I’d take a turn, save it, send the saved file to a friend, they would do the same…and thus we played a game.

And this is only about 25 years ago.

Wow.

What will the next 25 years bring us?

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First Show of the Year! Come See Me!

Tomorrow you can find me at one of the coolest comic shops around Full Sail University: ACME SUPERSTORE in Longwood. They’ve got a cool selection of new comics, back issues, toys and other cool stuff. And they have this way cool back room that features floors shellacked with comic art! Which is, I’m guessing, where all the artists will be set up.

Anyway, tomorrow they are having a one-day con, FREE to the public! This isn’t the first time ACME has had a “convention,” but it’s the first time they’ve put on the show themselves. I’m really looking forward to the show. Some of the best shows I ever participated in were one day shows held by the departed Kirby Gee down near New Orleans. They were always either free for extremely cheap (like $1 to get in the door), making it easy for people to come in and meet creators and (hopefully) buy their books!

I can’t get over the number of shows that the Orlando region has—this is like a heaven for comic geeks. While I wouldn’t swear to it, it wouldn’t surprise me if you could find a comic show every other weekend—and one within driving distance! As both a fan and a creator, this is just exciting as can be. Growing up in Mississippi, I was excited when some folks put on a comic show in downtown Jackson! Problem was it was only once per year (and then I discovered CoastCon in Biloxi, but that’s another story).

So, make your plans to get over to ACME SUPERSTORE; come say hi to me; and plan to buy some comics while you’re there!

Click here for the link to the Facebook event (for directions and such).

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Thoughts on Fan Fiction

Not long ago, I had a spirited conversation about the “merits” of fan fiction with a small body of students. For those of you who don’t know or have never heard of fan fiction—don’t worry, you’re not really missing much. I’d encourage you to google the meaning for yourself because ultimately the discussion came down to a disagreement as to the definition of fan fiction. But I will confess that the “spirited” nature of the conversation surprised me…for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost is that I’ve been a working writer for the better part of 25 years. Because of that fact, I know a whole boatload of working writer/editor types. It’s not because I’m special or anything of the such, it just happens to be the circles I walk in. Much like musicians seem to hang around and pal around other musicians, it’s just the way it is.

That said, most of the professionals I know don’t read fan fic…nor do they really even give it a second thought. Period. While I’ve never done a poll or seen the results of one, I’ve always felt the general consensus was that the overwhelming majority of fan fiction is simply “fans” exploring their geeky fantasies. Not writers. Fans.

I sat on a panel once called “Playing in other people’s sandboxes” (catchy title, not mine) in which the writers talked about what it was like to write licensed properties (for those who don’t know the score, I’ve done a handful, including Planet of the Apes, Battletech and The Remaining, a recent GN adaptation of a horror flick). One writer, who shall remain nameless because I didn’t run this by him first, who writes for Star Wars said that his contract required him to sign that he agrees to not read any fan fiction at all. It’s a legal thing to protect him and the company. But the point is that “not reading fanfic” is actually being added to writing contracts!

One of the arguments tossed at me what the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, a work I have not read nor do I intend to. It’s a “fan fiction” of Twilight, an original work that I don’t really hold in high esteem. I’ve read reviews of Fifty Shades from sources I trust and the consensus was pretty much “bad writing.” Yes, but it sold incredibly well. That is a fact that is tough to argue. But here’s the thing: hardly any (if any at all!) of the people in my writing/editing circle of friends/colleagues have any respect for that work. Yes, it sold well, but it’s not very good.

And therein lies the real issue with fanfiction. Do I think that all fan fiction is bad? Of course not. There’s so much of it out there that ONE of them has to be worth reading. But the overwhelming majority of it is crap. And, if you’re a writer who hopes to one day make money writing, why would you intentionally put yourself in that category? Why would you purposely do that knowing that publishers don’t have much respect for it?

As a rule, I don’t read fanfic. Just not interested in it. Are attitudes changing and will it change? Obviously, I don’t know, but if I were to guess, I’d say yes. I think as younger editors who have been raised with the internet always at their fingertips are in charge of more and more, I think it won’t matter so much to them.

I dunno, though. What do you think?

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