Monthly Archives: February 2014


While I’m not sure this will be the first of my new working projects to actually find its way into the mailbox (or the email outbox in this day of technology!), that chance is pretty good. So let me tell you a little about it—I look forward to your comments!

Citizens began a long time ago for me. I started the project with a different artist and a different STORY in mind. When it didn’t happen then, it languished in the filing cabinet—the way projects like that tend to do for creative sorts.

But it was one of those projects that never quite hid in my memory. As a student of history, particularly US history, I’ve never been that drawn to the Vietnam War. I can’t explain why—even though I had two uncles to serve in that nasty conflict. But when I think about all the wars my ancestors have participated in (Rev. War, War Between The States, Seminole Indian War, WW2, and Vietnam), I kept thinking how different their participation in war was different from my other kin. One thought led to another to another and there it was: an idea for a story.

In a nutshell, Citizens is the story of a soldier who joined the military in order to earn his citizenship, the same reason for many who joined. The problem is that when he returns ten years later, a new political party is in power and his rights to citizenship is denied. Essentially, the main character (and other soldiers) lose ten years fighting a war and earned nothing—they are basically discarded and have no value in the societal atmosphere to which they return.

To make matters worse, they’ve become steamborgs (it’s a steampunk story) in that half of their body was replaced with robotic weaponry, weaponry which belonged to the government and is promptly repossessed as soon as they arrive home. Thus, they’re left with deformed physical bodies, no citizenship—and a world of hurt.

Joe Badon is the incredibly talented artist who’s breathing artistic life into the story. In an age where it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish one artist from another, that’s not possible with Joe. Like his work or don’t, you’ll never confuse his work for someone else—it is incredibly unique—as I think you’ll see by the few images here.

I “met” Joe on the internet—spotted his art and was intrigued at the thought of his unique style bringing Bedford (the main character) and other to life. And he hasn’t disappointed. Click the link to his work on his name above and check out some of his other work.

The logo was designed by Mike Belcher!

And let me know in the comments below your thoughts on Citizens. Does it have a chance at finding at home? Any thoughts or suggestions along those lines?


Filed under Projects, writing

Smash…book 1?

I recently read the Smash: Trial by Fire graphic novel by Chris and Kyle Bolton (as far as I can tell, no relation to comic great John Bolton). There were a lot of elements that drew me to give it a whirl: It was published by Candlewick Press, a non-traditional comic publisher (they publish more prose than graphic novels); it was listed as a “graphic novel;” and it was an all ages book, something I’ve really found myself drawn to in this age of traditional comic publishers filling their pages with gratuitous violence, blood, boobs and language.

I wanted to like Smash, I really did.

And while it wasn’t terrible, I’m going to have a very hard time recommending it to you…at full price. If you can find a reduced $ copy, pick it up.

Why, Roland, don’t you recommend it?

I’m glad you asked, thanks. Here’s why:

First off, it was too dang slow. It took page after page after page after page after page…well, you get it…for ANYTHING to happen. There are certainly some interesting characters, but there’s a lot of nothing happening.

In a nutshell, Andrew, the story’s protagonist is a big fan of the local hero Defender. Defender dies in a battle with his archenemy Magus. When this happens, his superpower leaves his body and lands in Andrew. Nice and convenient, huh? Andrew wants to become Defender’s sidekick, not realizing Defender is dead. He jumps into action as a superhero and people start calling him Smash. Magus, however, wants the power (no explanation is ever made to explain how “superpowers” can jump from body to body?). So Magus tracks down Smash, captures him, and attempts to take his powers. But, because Andrew/Smash is a small boy, he slips out of the bonds and escapes and to be continued.

WHAT? I buy a 150 page graphic novel and it’s CONTINUED? Who the heck at Candlewick thought that was a good idea? Granted it’s called “book 1,” but that doesn’t mean it has to be CONTINUED. Lord of the Rings is three volumes, but each of those volumes have complete STORY ARC contained in the pages so that there is a feeling of completion when finishing one of the volumes. No “editor” is listed and that may very well be the problem—I dunno.

And it’s not that the content is terrible—it isn’t. It just needed some smart guidance: pick up the pace (lighten the really dark pages because some of the art is difficult to see when the color is too dark), and complete a STORY ARC, leaving it open to complete a larger story arc with additional volumes.

So, there you have it. I’m looking forward to reading Jimmy Palmiotti’s all ages GN Forager, soon! That, and it looks like I’ve got three—count’em: 3—new projects I’m preparing to pitch. I’m working on the blog entry for the first one even now! I look forward to your comments on it.

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Filed under Books/reading