Wait…I have high blood pressure?

SO.

Seems I have high blood pressure. Not only that, I had no idea I had it. But apparently it was “go to the emergency room NOW” high. I know, right?

Sit back and let me tell you a story…

So, many of you already know my pa-in-law has been with us for nearly two months now. Long story short, he had to have an operation on his back; he couldn’t get it back home; one of the best doctors to perform the surgery he needed just happened to be located a few miles from us. So he came down to stay with us while he recovers. The recovery has taken longer than anticipated, but hey—it’s BACK surgery!

Anyway, one of the things the nurse told him he needed was a blood pressure monitor at the house. So, BJ got one for him. When it arrived—as we are wont to do when we get new gadgets like this, BJ went around checking everyone out (when my dad had to get his blood sugar tested—we all got our fingers poked that weekend! Ha). Everyone was pretty normal but mine came back at 196/127. Hmm. That seemed high. So we did it again. 191/126. Since it was so high, and I’d never experienced anything like that, and I FELT FINE, BJ told me to just go to bed. So I did.

Next morning, my reading was 176/117 (thereabouts—BJ has it all written down, I’m going on memory). We (we, meaning BJ) decided to call the doctor to make an appointment to get me checked out. We’d both hit the interwebs that morning and decided it sounded bad. Several places calling it the “silent killer.”

Once on the phone, they told her to check it again and it was about the same…and they said “get to the Emergency Room NOW.” I didn’t really want to go because I FELT FINE. But she assured me that it was not fine and if I let it go unchecked I could have a stroke or a heart attack.

We went to the ER.

I had a LOT of tests run. Doctor came in later and told me that “my pump and my filter” were both fine, and that was very important. They ran like eleven different blood tests, took an image of my chest (thought my heart might be enlarged—never said exactly why—but it was also fine). Slowly but surely my BP went down to around 127/89, still a bit high, but they gave me a prescription, told me to monitor it, AND to follow up with a doctor.

Since then, my bp has hovered around the 150/90 range with the daily meds. I’m monitoring it fairly regular during the day; have added a vitamin and walking and have an appointment with the doc scheduled.

So…yeah…that happened…

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I promise I’m not ignoring you

So, it would seem like I’ve been ignoring this space since Brett graduated from high school. While I confess to being absent from the page, I promise it isn’t intentional.

Let’s catch up!

So, yeah…Brett, my youngest, graduated from high school in May. >sniff< My baby and all that.

May also saw me and some very talented artists run the CAT & MOUSE #1 kickstarter. That was funded in two days thanks to some very generous support by some very cool people—many of you included!

June saw me working hard to get it all together: get the comic as well as all the other goodies (sticker, bookmark, trading card) printed. My good pals at Ka-Blam handled the fulfillment, taking a HUGE load off me and doing a TREMENDOUS job. If you’ve got a comic thing and you want it printed: hands down, go there! Tell them I sent you!

July and August I taught considerable overload at the university. In August, I had five (5!) classes (my “normal” load is two: one campus and one online every month). I pretty much only did that—and a few store signings trying to promote C&M #1.

In September, I still had four classes, but exhaustion was hitting me from the earlier months and I just wanted to rest when I wasn’t doing school stuff.

This month, I’m “down” to three classes and things SEEM to be getting back to something resembling normal.

We’re working on CAT & MOUSE #2, but that’s all in Dean’s hands for now. I’ve got several other comic things happening that I’ll just tease you about here and get more detailed as I get more:

I’m working on a CHAMPION AND MISS FURY mini-series with my longtime pal and stellar artist Jaxon Renick. Another spectacular artist and longtime friend Chuck Bordell has agreed to ink it! Jax has done some very cool sketches that I’m not quite ready to show you, but he’s working on the first issue as I type this.

I’m working on a sci-fi short with another longtime friend and super artist Henry Martinez. Without much art, we’ve already been approached at the possibility of the story being in a sci-fi anthology!

I’ve been talking to Paul Pelletier about a new DEMON mini-series…he’s just looking for a hole in his schedule as DC is keeping him very busy.

I’ll name drop some other artists, but it’s still a little early to talk about specifics with them: Alan McMillian, Willie Peppers, Mike Belcher, Mike Kooistra (new artist—you’re going to dig what we’re working on!), and Eagle are all folks I’m still in early stages of story with. Would love to see them all happen in 2019!

No, I haven’t been able to talk Deonna Herrold into more TINY or even something new—but I continue to try!

I’m also about 95% convinced to “bring back” Silverline as a more active indy participant. There have been some pretty cool folks offer to help me this time around, and I’ve dropped lines to writers and artists that I know and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. With the woes at Marvel and DC, this seems to be a good time for independent comics to come out with some good content! And, as I know a lot of really cool comic folks, it’d be fun to do that again.

So…yeah…now we’re caught up and hopefully I won’t be so absent.

Oh—and my hogs are stinkin’ up the football field this year. My WOO PIG has become WOE PIG!

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You2 are the one

You

are the one who was so anxious to enter the world that you put your mom on bedrest for two months before you were born.

You

are the one who arrived three weeks early despite the above.

You

are the one who peed on your sister the first time she tried to change your diaper.

You

are the one who, as soon as you learned to walk, ran and tackled your mom every time you ran to her.

You

are the one who had to have breathing treatments so frequently as a baby that we bought our own nebulizer to save money.

You

are the one who wants to beat his sister at everything you do…and often do!

You

are the one played with your army men anywhere and everywhere…and we have pictures to prove it.

You

are the one who, as Superman, wanted Batman (me) to wake you every morning.

You

are the one who started first grade a year early because all the teachers said you were ready…and now you can’t stand school. Thankfully—you graduated!

You

are the one who, when dodging balls thrown at him by his sister, smashed his head into a brick wall which necessitated a staple…which earned you the nickname of “metalhead.”

You

are the one who has made your own way: marching band, jazz band, symphonic band, and two senior superior ratings—where’d that come from?

You

are your momma’s wild thing—and yes, you make her heart sing!

You

are truly my son: the only one in your class to have read The Constitution by fifth grade and to not just know that Lincoln freed no slaves, but why he didn’t.

You

are truly my son: you’ve read more cool books and comic books than most of your friends…and you’re proud of your “geek” badge!

You

are the one who isn’t sure what he wants to do for the rest of his life…and that’s okay because you have the rest of your life to figure it out!

You

are the one who waited nearly a year to get his driver’s license, despite the fact that your mom and dad continued to encourage you to do so regularly!

You

are the one who is incredibly musically talented, despite your ability to recognize that fact (and yes, you can sing!)

You

are the one with whom I’m still close, despite so many of my friends telling me that would end at sixteen.

You

are my gaming buddy.

You

are the one who still loves me despite my parental errors.

You

are the one of whom I am incredibly proud for so many reasons. I hope you at least know some of them.

You

are my big helper.

You

are my buddy.

You

are my one and only son.

You

are the one that I love…

One, two, three!

 

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Cat & Mouse #1 Kickstarter is live!

Yep, you read that correctly. Cat & Mouse #1 has a kickstarter running…and I’m asking you to go check it out. Wait…you thought C&M #1 was published in 1989 by EFGraphics…and then in 1990 by Malibu’s Aircel. It was.

C&M #1 Vol 2

This is for Volume 2! A whole NEW thing. The link is:

A brief history for those interested: When I was at the University of Southern Mississippi in the middle 80s, I met Steven Butler, who became a lifelong friend. Steven was a super-talented artist and he and I swapped notes of rejection from assorted comic companies. He was trying to get work as an artist, me as a writer. So we decided to work together and do our own thing.

One of Steven’s roommates was the equally talented Mitch Byrd, and Steven recruited him (My other pals, Barry Gregory and Thomas Fortenberry were involved on the writing side). In trying to figure out what projects to do, Mitch had a four page piece he had penciled and Steven had inked. It was a crime/cop thing that featured a shadowy figure shoot at cat burglars as they leaped out of a window. I took that and used it as a springboard to come up with the story for the first issue of C&M, with some serious input from both Steven and Mitch. If you’ve read it, you know that I included a character by the name of Demon, a character who’d been with me in one form or another, since about 6th grade.

Cat & Mouse #1 Vol 1

Cat & Mouse ran for 18 issues once it found a home at Malibu. Mitch and I did a four issue Miss Fury mini-series after, but then we both went on to different projects (Mitch landed some nice work with DC comics, and I became an editor at Malibu).

C&M just kinda went away.

Until today. Actually, until about two years ago with another supremely talented artist asked me about it. Enter: Dean Zachary.

But because it’d been so many years, it didn’t make sense to me to just bring back the same characters from before (there’s some other stuff, too)…so the characters from Volume 2 are completely new characters with completely new backgrounds, etc. The spirit and mood and tone will all remain—and we’ll even get to see some of the supporting cast from volume 1, but there are a lot of new faces involved—which makes it very exciting.

Volume 1 began mostly about fighting corruption in the justice system. Volume 2 will deal with the very serious theme of human trafficking. It will remain a “General Audiences” book, but the theme will be a little heavier.

SO…yes, this is me asking. Please go check out the link and consider pledging—I really think you’ll like what you read. But if you can’t pledge, please consider sharing it to those in your social network—tell them you know me and you think they should plop down a few dollars to help us get #2 made!

Thanks!

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Cat & Mouse #1 kickstarter slated for May 1

I’m super-excited to announce to you that May 1 is our target launch date for the kickstarter campaign for Cat & Mouse #1. I know we’ve been teasing it for a while, but we’re finally there.

I won’t talk long here, but don’t be surprised if over the course of the next few weeks, you see images with our announcement. I can tell you this, though: the campaign will feature the comic, of course, and it will have a KICKSTARTER ONLY wraparound cover! Unlike some other comic campaigns I’ve seen, this is the ONLY way you’ll be able to get the comic with this cover. Oh, you’ll still be able to get the comic, just not the KS wraparound version.

Also, I’ve managed to put together a couple of complete sets of volume 1—all 18 issues. I’ve culled back issue boxes and even ordered a handful of them from Mile High to complete a few sets. Full sets are pretty tough to come by…so there will be a few available.

Also, I’ve got about 10 copies left of the very first edition of Cat & Mouse #1. A lot of folks don’t realize that before Malibu’s Aircel picked us up, C&M #1 was printed—on newsprint and in COLOR!—by EFGraphics. EFG also printed Jazz Age Chronicles by Ted Slampyak…but EFG went belly up before they could print C&M #2. Those copies of C&M #1 will be available as a limited pledge reward.

I’ve also been hounding some of my artist pals to do some art for us and I think you’ll be happy at what you see! I won’t mention all of them now, but I’ll mention that the first one to raise his hand and say he’d help is the hot new artist Timothy Lim. You’ve seen his work on Thump: the First Bundred Days, and My Hero Magademia. This will be your chance to get a one of a kind original work from him!

So, mark your calendars!

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Remembering Kendall Jones

L-R: Grey Overstreet, Wynndel Stanton (Paul), Me (Peter), Mike Harris (Ace), Kendall Jones (Gene)

A childhood friend of mine died this week…and I’ve been incredibly bummed. I haven’t really talked to him in years. Regrets? Maybe?

I dunno.

I don’t want to talk about how bummed I am…instead, I’m just going to take this space to write a little about him. You can skip this blog post if you like…this is pretty much just for me…

I met Kendall in 1976, when I moved to Brandon, Mississippi in 6th grade. I met him at the same time I met Mike Harris and Wynndel Stanton. They were already friends. Mike lived two houses down from me, Wynndel two houses from him, and Kendall behind Wynndel on the street behind.

Kendall was the first to ever call me by the nickname “Rolo.” The candy bar had their annoyingly popular add that contained the lyrics “you can roll a Rolo to your pal,” and Kendall used to sing that to me frequently. Many have used it since, but Kendall was the first.

Kendall had the most “elastic” skin I had/have ever seen, but it was also fragile (don’t know how else to describe it). He would often pull it up to demonstrate to us just how elastic it was. But we also spent a lot of time outside those days, in the woods, at the creek, etc., the smallest thing could break his skin and make him bleed.

Once, probably around the 4th of July, Forrest Welker placed a firecracker in Kendall’s hoodie. Kendall caught wind something was happening and flipped his hoodie up to get away, only to have the firecracker explode next to the skin on his upper back. Yep—blood.

Scott Cook (keyboards), Me (drums), Wynndel Stanton (bass), Kendall Jones (guitar). 4.19.1980

Kendall was part of the first band I was ever in. Ever. We were a band before we know how to play instruments. One year a bunch of us got instruments we could not play but wanted to…and formed a band: me on drums, Kendall on guitar, Mike Harris on guitar, Scott Cook on keyboards and Wynndel Stanton on bass. Forrest Welker was our “manager.” We got together and “jammed” a lot. We were terrible, but we were learning to play together. Mike moved to Germany the summer of ’79 and then we began to get a little better.

We began to actually perform in various places, mostly local churches. Kendall wrote the first original song our band ever performed—I can still sing MOST of the words today.

We used to camp out on top of a water tower. Yep. The whole lot of us. Kendall was usually the first to climb up lugging a rope that he would tie up and toss down. Others would climb up behind him and someone on the ground would then tie all our stuff (sleeping backs, coolers, etc) to the other end and they’d haul it to the top. We spent many nights on top of that tower and saw some pretty awesome sights. Scott Cook has the greatest collection of photos from there and I’m trying to get those from him.

Mill Creek ran behind Kendall’s house and we spent a lot of time messing around in the creek: riding bikes in it, shooting snakes and turtles with our bb guns and other such outside playing.

Kendall was the first person I ever remember playing tennis with. He played at the Millcreek club frequently and I almost never did, but tried to play some. He beat the snot out of me.

Kendall moved the summer of ‘80. I saw him when he came for a visit sometime after…but that was pretty much the last time of any note…and this was all before email and facebook and such. I didn’t even know he’d moved back to Mississippi.

I could go on…

Godspeed Kendall. Thank you for so many great childhood memories.

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Writing for comics: how much is too much or not enough?

I don’t talk a whole lot about my day job here; I spend the day doing it, so it isn’t something I feel that inclined to write about. Oh, I love my class. In fact, I’m not shy to tell students it’s the best class in the program. Of course, I’m biased, but I get to talk about comic making all day! What’s not to like about that?

Teaching comic writing in a primarily moving picture program can be tricky. Most of our students want to write for film or television (though we have a growing number of students who want to write novels—which I find funny, because we’re not a program geared to teach that…guess they should do better research!). What they’re taught in those classes—and know that I’m not contracting what they’re taught in the classes that teach moving pictures, I just don’t have that experience—is to write very little “directions” for a director, and of course, write nothing that can’t be filmed.

They often bring that thinking into my class and it’s frustrating to try to convince them that what we’re doing in comics doesn’t negate what they do in moving pictures, it’s just a different “gear,” a different kind of writing.

I’m in several “creator” groups on Facebook and recently a thread went around about details in writing for comics. To sum up, most of the artists complained that the writers don’t give them enough details…and then complain when the art is done that something is “wrong,” or “missing.” I place that blame completely and fully on the writers.

And yet, comic companies often suggest in their submission guidelines to “write only a sentence or two” for each panel’s description. While that may be possible, as noted in the paragraph above, it often isn’t enough.

Comic writers can’t be vague in the writing and expect artists to read their minds or know their intent by words they haven’t written. Comic writers have to give artists all the information needed, and then some. Comic writing can be less than formal; in fact it can be very conversational because the writer and artist are partners in producing.

So how much is too much and how much is too little in a comic script?

My suggestion is always write with the idea that the artist has no idea what you’re talking about and that you’ve never worked with that artist before. Not only do you want to describe to them the (single) action that is happening in the panel, but you can tell them the mood of the panel overall, the mood of the characters in the panel, the tone you want in the panel (and on pages).

Always remember, the comic artist is your collaborator, not your audience.

 

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