Category Archives: General

Defending the First Amendment

Because of the racist idiots in Charlottesville, VA several weeks ago(and if you’re not sure what I’m talking about—where the heck have you been?), I’ve seen dozens of posts about “hate speech” and free speech and the First Amendment. I’ve seen people—some that I like a lot—suggesting that “hate speech” isn’t protected by the First Amendment.

That scares me so much it gives me chills just to type it.

For quick reference, The First Amendment reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Y’see, that’s the beauty of the First Amendment: it gives you the ability to express any ideals—regardless of how idiotic I find them to be—freely and openly. So, yes, Nazis have a right to stand in the public and spew their anti-Jewish Aryan nation hate. And yes, BLM has the right to yell they smell bacon and death to pigs. I don’t like or agree with either of those opinions, but the First Amendment does give them the right to say those things even though the over-whelming majority of us (and I’m assuming most everyone reading this) find those opinions deplorable.

My dad and I have had the discussion about flag burning. His dad (my grandfather) fought real Nazis in WW2 and it really bothers him to see people burning and/or stomping on the flag. It bothers me, too—I don’t like to see it. But where Dad and I differ is he suggests that it might should be illegal to do that (not strongly, but it’s something he’s kicked out as a response to it). As repulsive as I find flag burning, I don’t think the act should be illegal. Now, if you grab MY flag and burn it, then that is both theft and destruction of property that is not your own—you should go to jail! But if you want to spend your own money and buy a flag just to burn…well, that’s your right to do so.

The same is true for “hate speech.” The First Amendment protects the right for people to talk hateful. No, I don’t like it, and I don’t agree with the speech, but I do know the First Amendment protects it–and it should. I think people who want to take away the right of free speech are very scary people. The problem is, as always, where does it stop and who decides what is “okay” speech and what is not? We can’t agree on that—so it’s best to let everyone expression an opinion. Because, after all, WHO determines what “hate speech” exactly is. I know that I don’t want some people making that determination, and I’m sure there are many who wouldn’t want me making that determination. After all, I think any anti-comic book speech is hate speech! Thankfully for those comic book haters, the First Amendment protects you.

The exception to the First Amendment is, of course, something like yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. But that’s not “expressing an opinion,” that’s “yelling wolf” (if you don’t know that reference, look it up). There’s a big difference.

The beauty of the First Amendment is that it is for everyone, not just the people you agree with. Believe it or not, I’m willing to fight for your right to say you hate me and to call me a bigot, homophobe, hillbilly, cracker, Southern redneck or whatever else you desire.

But the First Amendment is about SPEECH. The minute your fist hits my face, the First Amendment is no longer under consideration.

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Hurricane Irma Diary part 3

If you missed the earlier parts and want to read them, you can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

From the back porch, we could actually see across the big open field behind us (it’s a community park) and see lights on. None of the homes around us had light, but about a quarter mile away or a little more, the community there had power!

There was a curfew in place, and since both Full Sail University (where I teach) and Oviedo High School (where Brett attends HS) were closed, we just hung out at the house. We didn’t really have anywhere to go.

Tuesday was hot, and so Brett and I hopped in the truck to go get gas and maybe a burger. I wasn’t sure how long I’d need to run the generator and I didn’t want to lose the contents of the freezer and fridge. With the generator going, at least we could dive in to the contents some. If it wasn’t sandwiches, I grilled what we ate.

Tuesday night was so hot it was miserable. So much that I got our box fan and sucked some of the power from the generator to run it hitting me and Brett (I was on a mattress in the living room floor, Brett on the couch beside me). Neither one of us got much sleep, and going outside really didn’t do us much good, either.

Power began to flicker on and off on Wednesday. It’d come on and we’d cheer…wait a few minutes…then it’d go off. Faked me pretty good once as I even unhooked the generator…then it went back off.

It finally came back on to stay around 6pm, one hour shy of a full three days.

OHS had gone ahead and cancelled school for the rest of the week…as did Full Sail. So Brett and I filled the rest of our week playing games. We still didn’t really have anywhere to go…so we didn’t go.

Probably a bit of a letdown for part 3, I guess, but really, the “exciting” part was during the build-up and the actual storm itself.

Next week I’m going to rant about Free Speech! Yeah…I got worked up a little.

 

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Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale on some of my work!

I decided to a Black Friday – Cyber Monday sale on a few things. If you’ve been wishing you could try something out that I’ve written, now is the time!

Obviously, TINY is the new one. Regularly $6 each, you can get both issues for $7.50 (plus shipping). If you’re a digital fan, you can get them for .99cents each, or $1.98 for both of them!

Next are the graphic novels KREY and DEMON’S TAILS. Regularly $15 each, you can get both of these for $7.50 each (plus shipping). Once again, If you’re a digital fan, you can get them for .99cents each!

While my Switchblade mini-series isn’t available digitally (yet—I’m working on that!), I’m working through the last sets to make way for the collection. You can get all three issues for the paltry sum of $1!

Lastly, if prose is more your thing, you can pick up the print copy of my novel Buying Time for $5, or digitally for .99cents!

Simply follow the link to my online store, find the above mentioned titles and select them. When the pop-up window comes up, you’ll see “select an option.” That’s when you’ll see the BLACK FRIDAY deals!

Don’t delay! The print copies make GREAT Christmas gifts! I’ll even sign them to make your gift complete!

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Hurricane Irma Diary part 2

The roof started to leak on my comics!

Brett wants snacks

Got the comics away fro the windows!

So, I’d expected the power to go off somewhere around 1-3am Monday morning, but not 7pm Sunday night. That actually made me a little more worried (I hadn’t been that worried) thinking it might be worse than anticipated.

The roof was leaking early in the storm, right on top of my comics—so I moved every single box of them away from the leak and from the windows. Yeah, most of them are bagged…but not all of them. So I wanted to move them just to be safe. Plus…comics!

(video: since the power would be out for a while, Brett wants snacks!)

My truck up next to the front windows

One mistake I made was not having a portable radio. I had a couple of flashlights, but I had no idea what was going on—I couldn’t just on weather.com to see! So—since I don’t have a cellphone—Brett spent time on his cellphone back and forth with BJ. She had gone to Mississippi to be with her dad who was about to have surgery and was monitoring it all from afar. She’d try to send us screenshots of the radar down here, but connections were very spotty for Brett.

BJ stayed up as long as she could…but I needed to hear that radio! So, because I was still a little afraid of something coming through the front window, I went outside and pulled my truck up right next to the house. I figured it something hit my truck, it’s old and I could get insurance to cover most of it. If something came through the window, it wasn’t just “stuff,” Brett and I were both in there!

I listened to the radio some on and off, running back and forth to the truck, and Brett and I pretty much spent the rest of the night watching the storm. We’d stand out front and watch, then go to the back porch. We actually didn’t stay on the back long because, well, the sound back there was pretty scary, especially later. It’d come up a really strong wind and I thought the trees were gonna come over on us—so we stayed off the back porch. Oddly, we really didn’t get that much rain after the initial rainfall, it was mostly just high winds. Water never went over the entire street in front of the house like I expected it to. It’s done that before during really heavy rains. I tried to take some video from the front porch—and I’ll put it here, but you can’t see much when it’s dark.

Once the sun came up and we knew the worst was over, I got the generator going to keep the refrigerator and freezer going…Then the power came back on, so I shut the generator off. Cranked the AC up and got the house cooled down…then the power went off again. But it was cool enough that we hit the sack. I can’t be sure of the time (remember, no power), but probably around 10ish.

We both slept a good bit of daylight hours. The house was still cool because it was overcast and very windy. When we got up, we started putting the house back in order. We ate our sandwiches on the back porch (no trees fell! Yay!) And that’s when we noticed some fences down across the street.
(Never tried to include any videos before–hope they work)

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Hurricane Irma Diary part 1

So, I decided to write a bit about my hurricane experience. I know that it’s been two months, but never having been through a hurricane but having been through an earthquake (a major one—I’ll talk about that later), I thought I’d just make notes, for me if for no other reason.

Keep in mind, I live in the Orlando area and we weren’t hit near as hard as many of the folks to the south and west of us. So nothing you’ll read here can even compare to what many of them—and then later (and a different hurricane), Puerto Rico.

The positive thing about hurricanes today is that you can see them coming days in advance. After it hit the islands, we decided it would probably be a thing of concern. BJ (the wife) left to go spend a few weeks taking care of her dad who was having a surgery, so it was just me and Brett. All predictions showed it hitting us in the early morning hours of Monday, Sept 11. (Ugh, what a day to pick, right?)

Freezer is loaded with water/ice!

On Wednesday, Sept 6, after class, I had decided to stop and pick up some supplies and fill up the gas tank. I first stopped at CostCo, which is right by Full Sail. No water! And the gas line was crazy stupid, so I figured that far out, I’ll just get gas and such elsewhere—surely there would be more shipments, right?

I chilled on Thursday and watched the news as thousands of people clogged the roads trying to get out of Florida. Stories of people sitting on the roads for hours not moving, people running out of gas in North Florida…and then into Georgia made me decide to just stay put. We’re inland and not in a low area prone to flooding. Figured we’d lose power a bit, probably at the height of the storm in the wee morning hours, and figured I would have to keep an eye on the trees.

Friday I made the rounds to the grocery stores. I’ve never seen stores so bare in all my life. It looked like videos I’d seen of grocery stores in Russia! I managed to snag a few cans of Vienna Sausage, some bread, and some gas. No water, still.

Table wedged up against the window in the living room.

Went back out on Saturday looking for a few other things (we like potted meat—so sue me!)…was surprised at how many places had already closed up shop. None of my neighbors, many who have been here for quite a few years, had boarded up or anything. Cool.

Sunday, I spent the day filling all plastic containers in the house with filtered tap water; we filled up milk jugs, coke bottles, etc., putting a lot of the smaller plastics in the freezer to try to make sure we’d keep the food in the freezer frozen. Then I peeked outside. Uh-oh. Quite a few of my neighbors had suddenly boarded up their windows.

So I started shuffling things around in the house, getting books away from windows and away from the known leaky spot in the house. I propped closet doors against the windows…just in case.

And then the power went out at 7pm.

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FCBD 2017

Tomorrow is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2017. What is FCBD, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked.

FCBD was started by comic retailer superstar Joe Field of Flying Colors in Concord, California. The first year was 2002, so this year marks the 16th year for FCBD. It’s traditionally held on the first Saturday in May, which also usually coincides with the opening weekend of the summer’s superhero movie. 2002 was Spider-Man, this year is Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

While I was aware of what the day was, the first time I actually did FCBD was in 2011, the ten year anniversary. The fine folks at Heroes and Dreams, a store which regrettably no longer exists, invited me to be a guest in their store for the day. So I drove down to Flowood, MS. for a long full day.

It wasn’t until 2015 that Aaron and his crew over at Coliseum of Comics in the Fashion Square Mall invited me to be a part of the day there. That day was particularly exciting for me as it was the opening weekend to Avengers: Age of Ultron…which included one of my all-time favorite superheroes: The Vision!

Last year I went out to Gods and Monsters in the Artegon Mall. G&M are still around, but unfortunately, they’re not at the Artegon Mall.

This year I’m excited to tell you that I’ll be at one of the top stores around, and one that I’m always sending my students to visit: ACME Superstore! Former Spider-Man artist Alex Saviuk is the headliner, but he’ll be joined by me and my comic creating pals Barry Gregory, Jenni Gregory, and Thomas Florimonte. Come out, grab some free comics (you can find a list of the free offerings here), then spend a buck or two on “local” creators and support our books. Autographs are FREE!

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Catching up

No telling what volume of “catching up” this is, but hi! Did ya miss me? Since my last posting, Brett and I were able to pop up to Arkansas for a visit to Mom and Dad. Dad’s doing much better, but he’s still got a long way to go to get his strength back. He seems pretty determined to do it—so that’s a good sign. Thank you all very much for all the prayers and good thoughts sent our way.

If you missed my tweet earlier, Tiny #2 is available digitally on Comixology and on IndyPlanet. If you’re a digital comic reader, how ‘bout checking out the second issue by me and the talented Deonna Herrold!

John Crowther, Barry Gregory, Me at the Infinity Toy and Comic Con.

I’ve done two comic shows since my last posting, both of which were heaps of fun. On March 4, I was a guest at the Infinity Toy and Comic Con in Orlando. On March 19th, I was a guest at the Melbourne Comic Con. You should check out both of these shows the next time they come around: lots of geeky fun!

I’ve also got a fun slate of show coming up, too! On April 23rd, I’ll be returning to the Daytona Beach Comic Con, the local show that features MORE comic books than the bigger shows locally. I’m not kidding. If you’re COMIC fan, this is the place to go!

On April 29, I’ll be a comic guest at FusionCon, in Safety Harbor, FL. It’ll be my first time there, so I’m very excited to be going.

On May 6, for FCBD (Free Comic Book Day) I’ll be appearing with my comic making pals, Barry and Jenni Gregory, and Thomas Florimonte and legendary comic artist Alex Saviuk at ACME SUPERSTORE in Longwood, one of the best local shops around!

On May 25-28, I’m a comic guest at MegaCon in Orlando. I’ll be in Artist Alley once again and Deonna will be joining me as we work to put Tiny #2 in your hands. Remember, we sold out of #1 at MegaCon last year! Hint hint

On July 19th, I’ll be a comic guest at the Orlando Collect-A-Con in Altemonte Springs, FL. Barry and Jenni will also be there, so you know it’s a fun show!

On July 20-23, I’m headed to San Diego. Would like to get on a panel or something, but nothing on that yet.

On Aug 5, Barry and I will be traveling up to Pikeville, KY to be comic guests at the first ever Pikeville Comic Con. It will be my first even comic guest appearance in the bluegrass state and I’m very much looking forward to it!

On Aug 11-13, WizardWorld will be in Orlando. I’ve been slated to be a comic guest there for over a year, but some of the leadership has changed and I haven’t heard from them in a bit. I’m keeping it on my calendar until I know otherwise.

Whew! That’s it so far. There’s one or two others that I’d like to get to, and of course, I’m always open to talking, so if you run a show or knows someone who does and you need a friendly comic writer type guest to compliment your A-list artist, holler at me!

Next time, an update on my comic projects!

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