Category Archives: Videos

Happy New Year! Looking forward to 2013

Happy 2013 to everyone who visits here. 2013! Wow. Every now and again, I still get the weird feeling when talking about the 2000s; I mean, in the 1980s we were thinking 2000-anything was the far off future with flying cars, jetpacks and Jetsons style tv-phones. We’ve got the cool tv-phones, but that’s about it. Still, it feels odd to look at the date sometimes.

But 2013 is shaping up to be another busy year, especially while we’re still trying to sell the house (prayers appreciated to help get the thing sold!). The first part of the year will see me shepherding the first ever Full Sail Comic Anthology. It will feature 5 stories by Full Sail students. The goal is to get it out for a grand release at MegaCon…of which I’m also a guest (don’t have my list of panels yet, or I’d let you know). Brittany has two auditions in March for the music departments at Belmont and UNA and she’s getting excited about those.

March will also see me at the Hot Springs Village Writers Conference, a small Writers Conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas. As soon as I get a flyer or website from them, I’ll post it.

I’m also excited to report that it looks like I’m going to have some decent movement on four—yes, 4! Comic projects this year! I’ll be posting a little more about each in the coming weeks (including some art), but a highlight would be as such: Tim Holtrop has just started character sketches/designs for BEAH (now planned as a graphic novel). Tim seems to be excited about it, so his excitement has me all antsy again.

CITIZENS is a project that I started in the late 90s, even had a bunch of pages done before the artist decided he didn’t want to finish it…I recently dusted it off and heavily revised it when I met Joe Badon through a Christian Comic Creator group on Facebook. It’s morphed from a heavily sci-fi into a steampunk story and I like the way it’s going…I’m hoping to see pages from Joe fairly soon and will give sneak peeks here.

Sand Gears is another of story that started in the late 90s and had a few pages penciled and inked by an artist. It is also heavily revised and has more art than any of the projects listed here. Quinton Bedwell is doing the art and there would be more done, likely, if he hadn’t been waiting on me. I’ll tell that story later, but Sand Gears is probably the first project I talk about here in a few weeks.

JC Grande, whose name I’ve seen popping up on several projects lately—and which is a good thing for our project—has done some character designs and is working on the first few pages for The Rejects, a story about a group of misfit superheroes.

Henry Martinez, an artist I worked with as editor back in my Maliby days, has agreed to do some work on a project that I’m pretty excited about…but he’s been very busy so I won’t call out any project names at this time, but will put his name here to help possibly motivate him. 😉

I hinted on Facebook about a steampunk project with legendary artist Jerry Bingham and there’s been no taker on the project yet—but it’s been pitched around to some comic publishers. It’s been seen by a select few and the responses are good, but the right publisher just hasn’t seen it yet. Attached to this blog you’ll see a promotional piece done by Jerry and superbly colored by Emily Kanalz.

Last August I wrote a pitch at the request of a publisher for what could be a very high profile project not just for me but for the publisher. The more time passes the more I suspect the final answer to be no…however, I’ve not heard a final no from the publisher, so I hold out that it may still happen. When it does, you’ll be among the first to know.

Lastly, please enjoy the annual Mann Family Christmas/New Year Greeting: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B5xOrrK1R8tbMHMwQUJTY1ZVZzg I hope 2013 is great to you!

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Merry Christmas (2008) and Happy New Year (2009)

Well, with the holidays on us, I haven’t had the time to write as much. I have had the chance to spend some treasured time with family. It always goes by so quickly, though.
Last year we had so much fun making our “Mann Christmas message,” that we decided to do it again.
I present it here now for your…entertainment enjoyment.
It may be entertaining, but the message is sincere! Hope your Christmas was Merry and your New Year is Happy!

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It’s beginning to look…

I’m glad that the lights in my house aren’t like the lights on my Christmas tree and other Christmas decorations. Wouldn’t that be frustrating: a light goes out in the bathroom and all the lights on the northeast corner of the house go out. Then, in order to get them working again, you have to get one from another section of the house that you KNOW works (because it was glowing when you got it), and then try it in every single socket in the dark corner until you find the right one. That would be very frustrating.

Yeah, can you tell I’ve been working on our Christmas lights?

But really, I like Christmas lights. No, seriously I do. BJ and I started several years ago buying a new string or two of lights during the after-Christmas sales. Then, a few years in a row, my sister Angie (who turned 42 recently, btw) bought of some of those big lawn-lights. Not the blow-up balloons, but the rope-light kind. We’ve got a deer that moves its head and a Santa that waves. And, we have a ton of those white “icicle” lights.

Kids finally got their school pictures in. We were beginning to worry that we wouldn’t get them in before Christmas. Brittany’s pictures have actually been in our hands for about six weeks.

My day was made last week as a Dad. Y’see, I coached Brittany in softball for five years (until we moved here) and I coached her one year in Upward Basketball. Brett has been asking me for about two years now to be his coach. While he’s mainly been talking about baseball, he’d seen me coaching Sissy and wanted me to coach him.

Well, I talked to the Upward folks a few weeks ago and filled out all the forms. I went to a meeting but didn’t tell Brett where I was going. When I returned, I sat him down all serious-like and told him that I’d come from an Upward meeting about him playing this year and that practice would be starting soon. He was interested, but when I added that I’d be his coach, he literally jumped up and shouted and then gave me a big hug.

I don’t really care what the season is like—that one moment will be worth it all.

The next night as I made the calls to all my players telling them about practice and such, I borrowed a cellphone (no, I still do not have one—don’t want one, thank you very much) and called Brett “as his coach.” He got a big laugh out of that.

Brittany has been in the drama class at her school, and this morning they put on a play for several classes. I forget the name of it exactly, but I think it was called Substitute Santa. BJ and I went to see the production and had front-row seats. It is actually a very entertaining little play. The link is provided below should you want to see it. It is part 1 (of 2) and has a running time of about 7 minutes. (both parts are about 14 minutes total)

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Making home videos

Have you ever noticed that on home videos, we record some of the dumbest things? I’m not talking about silly family moments—those are gems. I’m talking about filming the new chair you just got…or, your walk to the mailbox…or, the drive to the ball park, out the window, so that all you see are passing cars and trees and houses.

Why do we do that?

When BJ and I were in California, we took the chance to visit Hawaii. Right after Brittany was born we went and spent 2 days on the big island and 4 days on Maui. We rented a car to sightsee. We took our video camera and we have hours and hours of the camcorder filming the backseat. Granted, we accidentally left it on.

And because I’ve been trying to put some of the old video tapes onto the computer, I’ve had a chance to see a lot of video—and a lot of it old. Mom and Dad first got their camcorder around 1988. BJ and I got ours in 1995. We’re talking 20 years ago! But what’s funny is watching the really old footage. Both BJ and my sister Angie constantly hide from the camera for the first year or so. You’ll see the camera point to them and they’ll either turn their heads or dash into another room. My Dad, Mom and I are completely different stories. For some reason, Dad and I seem to pull out all the narration stops, telling every single little thing. We’ve got footage of me taping while we’re playing cards! I hold my cards up for the camera, laugh about it, then point it at Angie, who dashes into the other room!

But you notice too, different people act differently around the camera. Some act shy around the camera. If they don’t try to hide, then they’ll act like they don’t notice the camera except they clam up and don’t say anything. After some minutes, they’ll peek at the camera and yell “stop!”

Then there are those who act like they don’t know what to do, and will say as much into the camera: “What do you want me to do/say?” they’ll ask. I laughed and laughed at video footage of my Uncle Roger who, during the preparations for my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, would wave at the camera and walk away doing this funny arm-pump motion nearly every time the camera was pointed at him.

Then, there are hams—like my kids. Point the camcorder at them and they immediately break into Hamlet 101, or Rock Concert at Madison Square Gardens. They’re not shy at all—not sure where they get that from. Must be their mother.

The attached video is the third time Steven Butler and I went on television to promote our comics. We were still doing Cat & Mouse, but Steven had gotten a high profile gig drawing Badger. Enjoy.

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Preparing for…

I’m a little late posting today, so it’s going to be a little shorter… but I do hope you’ll forgive me. I’m preparing for the upcoming ACFW Conference in a couple of weeks and time just got away from me. I was up late last night working on a onesheet to take as a pitch document. No, I’d never heard of a onesheet either until a few months ago. For lack of a better explanation, it’s simply a flyer that tells about the project and about the author. Last night I got to searching and scanning images to use on the page.

Sigh.

I am excited about it, though. While it certainly won’t be my first conference or convention, it definitely sounds like it is something different than anything I’ve ever attended before. I’m planning to pitch my YA series The Gifted, my contemporary fiction Buying Time…and I’m even considering pitching the novel I’m working on simply because I found some cool graphics to use from Cat & Mouse (you can even order the entire run at that link!), the comic I wrote oh so many years ago.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll lead a short Graphic Storytelling workshop at the monthly meeting of the Byhalia Christian Writers group. BCW is part of the larger ACW. Visit the link for directions and contact info.

I’m off to work on my onesheets again.

Here’s another old video for your entertainment pleasure. It’s the 2nd time I was on TAE VAE! Steven and I are both a little less nervous…but they came to our house so we were in our own environment this time.

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I’m at war!

That’s right. War! War I tell you. And it’s become very personal. Why?

Because they bit me.

What, may you ask, am I talking about?

Fire ants. It seems we’ve had several thousand fire ants decide to set up camp in and around our yard. And the problem is, they’re everywhere.

And they’re so danged hard to get rid of.

I’ve never liked ants of any sort. Well, that’s not exactly true. I watched a documentary one time about ants that showed two different ant colonies; one red, one black; go to war. Yes, I mean they literally went to war. Two huge groups from each side met somewhere in between their mounds and fought it out. When it was finished, the narrator’s words were nearly something to the effect of: “the battlefield was littered with the dead and dying from each side.”

Plus, I’ve read that fire ants down in South America can survive flooding by all clinging together and floating like a big ball on top of the water. I’d like to see that…but not up close.

My first real fight with ants, however, was when we moved to California. It seems CSUN is built on top of one huge ant bed. Sure, we’d had bouts with ants before, but we’d just put a little Terro down and they were gone in a day. Those California ants just snacked on the Terro and wanted more. We went through four or five packages before doing them any harm.

In general, though, you’ll hear me sing praises of Terro. Matter of fact, if you’re battling with ants, go grab you a package or two and it’ll take care of them.

So, I wasn’t too concerned when I saw a mound or two a few weeks ago. After all, I’d grown up in Mississippi and fire ants are just part of the package.

Funny side note here: Around 1997/8, after I’d returned to Mississippi from California, my former Editor-In-Chief Chris Ulm came out for a visit for a few days. His only excursion into the South had been Atlanta, and well—we all know Hotlanta isn’t really “Southern” anymore. So I snag my good pal Ashley Koostra and we take Chris out to the Battlefield at Vicksburg. We have a nice tour and stop at the USS Cairo to sit down for lunch. Chris sits right in a fire ant bed and gets 20-30 bites! The next words out of Ashley’s mouth were something to the effect of, “Oh yeah. We forgot to tell you about the fire ants.”

So I put some poison on the mounds and think that’ll at least knock them down some, probably not out. They multiplied. I can’t figure out why, either. Now, instead of four of five mounds, I’ve got 13 or 14 mounds of varying sizes. They’ve come up close to my house—that’s when I declared war!

This video is of Brittany playing volleyball. She plays on the JV team for Lafayette County and they’re doing well. This video shows them trouncing cross-town rival, Oxford. Brittany wears jersey #1.

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On television in 1989

I’ve been going through some old video tapes recently, mostly because we’re still unpacking and trying to figure out what stays and what goes and so forth. I stumbled upon a box of tapes in which the tapes had no box covers on them and recognized them as the ones from our house flood in Tennessee. For those who don’t know, after we’d moved to Piggott, Arkansas, we were still trying to sell our home in Loretto, Tennessee. We went back periodically to check in, clean up, get things we needed, etc. But, we weren’t really living there.

One day BJ got a frantic call from the realtor. Seems water was pouring out of our basement. Clayton Wilbanks, the Music Minister at First Baptist Loretto, where we had been members, had a key and he sped over to open up the house. The basement had about six inches of standing water. It seems a water filter under the kitchen sink sprang a leak and best guesses put it running for about three days.

Needless to say, we lost thousands of dollars of things in the basement. I lost a bunch of expensive board games (one a very rare war game from 1930) and we had several boxes of home videos in the mix.

I say all that to say I found one of the boxes and started wondering if they would play. The first one I came across was a tape that we had started making in 1989, right after I’d graduated college and was living in a rented house in Hattiesburg with three roommates: Steven Butler, Ashley Koostra and David Rogers. We started taping all the creative processes that were going on…

Anyway, just after the release of Cat & Mouse #1 by publisher EFGraphics, Steven and I somehow found ourselves on Midday, a noon local news show in Hattiesburg. I’ll just tell you here and now, we were nervous as can be. If you happen to watch the video (embedded below for your entertainment), notice how we sit stiff as boards! We’re too nervous to even move!

It’s been fun watching some of the old videos. It’s amazing how much people change in nearly 20 years. J I may post some other stuff if I find anything interesting…or humorous like the video below.

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