Tag Archives: MegaCon

MegaCon this weekend—be there!

MegaCon 2015 starts tomorrow and I’ll be set up this year in Indy Press booth #574. I’m sharing space with writer Wes Locher, a rising newcomer in the industry. Take my word for it, you’re going to be seeing Wes’s work pop up regularly—and you can say you heard it here first! And have I ever steered you wrong?

booth574WandRThis’ll be my third straight year since we’ve been down Orlando way, but my first with an Indy Press booth; the other two years I was in artists alley. It’s a step for me in that it’s considerably pricier to get out of the alley. Truthfully, I’m not sure that it’ll make a difference, but I wanted to try it one year and see if it did. Artist alley seems to have become a place where anyone with a pencil and pad can set up. Additionally, artist alley no longer means “comic artist.” When I first started doing comic cons back in the late 80s, the only people in artist alley were people with published work of some sort. Before you think I’m slamming indy comics, I’m not—I’m a huge fan and supporter of them. But I seem to find a lot these days that a great many artists in artist alley have nothing—and I mean nothing—in comic print. Some of them don’t even have “art,” but they have trinkety stuff. Like handmade jewelry, buttons, etc. I always thought the people who did that were traditional vendors…and at one time, they probably were.

On top of that, many of the artists are selling illegal prints. The casual fan doesn’t know the difference, of course, and these artists end up making a lot of money illegally from unknowing fans.

Eh—but I ramble because this post is not about whining. I wanted to move to the indy press area to mainly see if the traffic I get there is different. Obviously, as a comic writer, I don’t have any “prints” to sell (though I’m considering talking to the artists I collaborate with about that), so it takes a lot of $3-$10 comics to make back the expense. I’m hoping the traffic in the indy area are fans actually looking to buy comic books and not just browsing for cool art or trinkets.

Cosplay (which is just costuming by fans) has become a huge deal over the last several years. There’s some hubbub about it in circles higher than mine, but in general, I don’t mind cosplay and think it’s kinda cool (most of the times). The issue to some seems to be they are rude and block the aisles. I’ve only had that happen once, and I asked them nicely to step around the side (I was on a corner), which they politely and immediately did. I’m planning to steal a page out of my friend John Metych’s playbook this year—I’ll tell you if it works next week.

MegaCon caught some flak last year because of the traffic on Saturday. And it was bad, but it was bad because so many people came to the show—which in my mind is a good thing. More people at the show means more money on the floor. They moved back across the street to their old location this year, so hopefully that will solve the traffic issues.

So, come out and see me and Wes. We’ll be at booth #574 in Indy Press!

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2015 to come

Well, last week I rehashed some of the highlights of 2014 for me. This week, I’ll talk about what I’m looking forward to in 2015. Thus far, I’ve got two appearances lined up, but I’m optimistic more will happen. I’m always on the lookout!

In early April, I’ll be a comic guest at MegaCon and will be in Independent Press Row with my friend and hot new comic writer Wes Locher. If you’re in the Orlando area and you like all things geek, you can’t not be at MegaCon!

My other planned appearance is the Florida Writers Conference in Orlando in October. The details aren’t finalized yet, but I’ll be giving a presentation or two and probably be on a panel or two. Last year was my first and it was fantastic! I’m very excited to be returning.

I’m hoping the new year will bring me some news of the two projects I have floated about: Cat & Mouse and Beah. If I haven’t finished them by the time of this writing, I hope to get two other pitches circulating which I’ve told you about: Citizens and The Rejects. Just click on the titles to go “like” the Facebook pages for each of them where you can find art and updates on the projects.

I’m excited that Trumps has new life in it because Anthony Pereira emerged and is alive and well—and drawing the 2nd issue. Plus, I’m hoping to announce an inker on the project soon!

I’ve hinted at it before, but I’m working with a publisher to try to come to a happy agreement to see The Gifted come to fruition. While I’ve written it as a novel, he’s very interested in pursuing it as a graphic novel. The challenge is to find a way to get the art done for the small press. I’m very optimistic about it because the publisher seems to want it to happen.

I’ve also talked to artist Kevin Tuma about doing a Champion one-shot. Tuma wants to publish the work himself, so I’m excited about seeing that happen.

I briefly mentioned this a few months ago, but I “internet-met” a talented artist who is a martial arts student of a good friend of mine. I don’t know her that well (I did say “internet met”) and I don’t think she’s a huge comic fan, but her pencil work is astounding! So I hope to finish putting together a pitch for a sci-fi piece with newcomer Gabriella Rossetti.

Around Y2K I did a short comic adaptation of a short film by some folks in the Muscle Shoals area. Thanks to the changes in digital technology, I’m going to see that it becomes available. It’s being colored by my old Malibu colleague Albert Deschesne.

Speaking of older work, I’m in the process of collecting some of my older work and making them available as both a compilation and in digital format. Works to be collected will include Demon’s Tails, Krey, and some others.

Something else I want to do is an anthology that collects some of my shorter comic work. I’ve only got a couple at this point, but I’m hoping to get some others done.

I’ve talked to a few other artists who expressed interest in putting something together: Patrick Rolo did some work with me back in the Malibu days and Moye Daniel almost did some work with me…but disappeared. Both of them have reappeared, so I’m hoping we can make something happen.

Lastly, I really hope to finish my Cat & Mouse novel and send it to an agent who has already agreed to read it. I’m more than 30,000 words into it, I just need to get BIC!

So…as you can see, quite a bit of stuff that I’m excited about that will hopefully make 2015 an exciting year!

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Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year everyone! I think I’ll do for 2015 what I did for 2014: I’ll post “a look back” this week…and “a look ahead” next week. WordPress provided me with an interesting report, but they’ve gussied it up so it’s more flair than substance this year. A few interesting tidbits from it though:

My most popular post for 2014 was The Origin of Hotty Toddy, a post I wrote in an attempt to poke fun at the obnoxious University of Mississippi football chant. I think what happens is that since they were winning this year, more people heard the chant and wanted to know a little something about it and my post turned up in the google search. Kinda funny.

The most popular day for my blog in 2014 was Oct 4, which was, probably not coincidentally the day after the Black Bears beat Alabama. Yeah, I post about other stuff (like this entry), but random googlers tend to find the Hotty Toddy post.

032714_2005_MegaCon20142.jpgMy top commenters are some pretty decent writers/bloggers, so I’m honored they visit AND comment on my page. Because of that, they get a shout out from me now! Krystol Diggs, who is a former student of mine from Full Sail. Kayla Dean, who I met when she attended the Hemingway Writers Retreat in Piggott, Arkansas. Freeda Baker Nichols, another writer I met at Hemingway and who is a far more consistent blogger than I am! Dot Hatfield, yet another writer I met at Hemingway! You see a trend, don’t you? Rounding out the top five is my mom—thanks, Mom! Show these writers some love and check out what they have to say since they’re often nice enough to leave comments for me here!

I did a handful of shows/appearances/speaking engagements again this year and had a blast at all of them. In March I returned to Memphis where I was the keynote Speaker at the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference. I met a small press publisher that expressed interest in my work. We’ve been talking for several months. Nothing hard and fast, but it’s promising.

In April, I returned to the Hemingway Writers Retreat where we had a great retreat. I was also a comic guest at MegaCon again this year. I moderated a panel “Break-in Stories” with a handful of really talented folks!

In September I got to go back to the Shoals Alabama area where I was a guest at the Geek Gathering in Sheffield. It was a fantastic little con and I sure wish they’d had something like that when I lived there. That area remains the only place I’d willingly go back to in a heartbeat! Then in October, I was a presenter at the Florida Writers Conference where I met a whole slew of new people.

Creatively, it’s been a decent year, too. I’ve been talking to a few artists not mentioned on this page before about projects, so hopefully something will come of those and you’ll see it here.

ArkansasReviewIn August, my short story “Broken Down Truck” was published by Arkansas Review (v.45 #2) and in September, my graphic novel adaptation of The Remaining was published.

With all the advances in digital media, I’m looking to release some of my older comic work digitally and possible make it available via print on demand.

My novel, Buying Time, was made available in print via Amazon and in Kindle format on Christmas day! So I hope you’ve picked up your copy! Autographs are free! J Oh! And if you’ve already read it, pop on over there and leave a review on Amazon. I hear they really help!

It’s cool to see technology advancing so quickly…cool, but a little scary. Hopefully you’ve all “liked” my author page on Facebook so you can keep up with all the new stuff.

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MegaCon 2014 report

Conventions are always highly anticipated, take a long time to arrive, but fly by in such a hurry. So it was with MegaCon 2014. Like last year, I had a fantastic time. This year was a little different, though, in that my entire family actually got to attend at the same time. Usually, it’s just me and one of them, this time, Friday saw all four of us there (see pic).

Friday was a great day. The doors opened at 1 o’clock on Friday and we were there around 11:00. It took us longer to park on Friday than any of the three days. It seemed like the folks parking us wanted to stop each car that came through and chat with them. It wasn’t tough to get the stuff in because I had four sets of hands—which was nice. On the way inside, we bumped into Cully Hamner doing the same thing. When I told the kids I knew him when he had hair down to his waist, they were surprised—not that I knew him, but that his hair was once that long! We located my spot—which was allllll the way in the back next to the cool Lego stuff. We got set up and immediately Brittany and BJ took off headed to a Smallville panel. Brett and I held the fort has folks came rolling through. Before we knew it, the day was over.

We’d been worried that Brittany would not be able to make Saturday, but her professor worked with her and let her make up her work so that she could attend with us. Pretty rockin’, I’d say. We were there right before 9, because the security guard told us as we left on Friday that it would open at nine a.m. I guess I should have clarified exactly what he meant by “open,” because it was open for us to set up, NOT for attendees. Really, I should have trusted the MegaCon schedule!

Saturday was a very hectic day. Crowds were crazy packed in the exhibition hall (we used to call this place, “dealer’s room”) and we later learned that traffic outside was terrible. My friends Thomas and Rene’ Florimonte (who are part of Ka-Blam!) said they were waiting three hours just to park! I heard that from several different people but I guess we were there early enough we didn’t see it at all. I’ve seen some people on social media really lashing out at MegaCon because of that, but I remain unconvinced it is their fault. Certainly they should address it for next year, but it would seem to me that it is the Orange County Convention Center’s fault—like they’ve never parked that many people before? Maybe they should simply call in help from an SEC school, who multiple times a year get in crowds of 50,000 to 100,000 people for a football game. Seriously, it shouldn’t be that hard to park people. My experience with the folks at MegaCon has been nothing but fantastic, so I’m sure they’ll address the issue and it will be resolved next year.

I was on a panel Saturday afternoon; Break-In Stories with Mike Miller, Frank Tieri, Russell Lissau, and Steve Horton. Each of us told our own story of breaking into the comic industry, gave hints to budding creators, and then took questions from attendees. All in all, it was a very fun panel.

Sunday was back to normal craziness, but was a good day. I think many were relieved that the massive crowding from Saturday was gone. That’s not to suggest it wasn’t busy, it was—Sunday was actually my best day—but it was a healthy crowded where Saturday was jam packed. I got to see several folks and visit, even if the visits were short. Aside from those already mentioned, Mike Miller is someone I haven’t seen in close to twenty years! Regrettably, I didn’t take more time to try to catch up with him. I got to see Jimmy Palmiotti—who is probably one of the most encouraging creators I know, Bill Sawyer and Barry Gregory (who is the other main player of Ka-Blam). On top of that, I got to see several of my students from Full Sail University. Was cool seeing them there, if a bit different.

All in all, a great show—I already hope to get put on the guest list for next year!

Up next is the Spring Hemingway Writers Retreat. There are still seats left, so if you’ve ever wanted to write where Hemingway wrote, this is the time/place to do it! Anyone interested should email Dr. Adam Long @adamlong@astate.edu

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Memphis report and MEGACON tomorrow!

For those of you who came for the MegaCon info, it starts tomorrow. If you’re in the Orlando area and consider yourself a geek/nerd of any sort, you should be there. I’ll be there all three days. You can find me in Artists Alley at Purple10. This will be the first year my entire family has gotten to attend with me (though Brittany will be limited because of her class schedule) and I’m pretty excited about it. Bring some books for me to sign, or better yet, pick some stuff up from me there!

Additionally, at 5:20 on Saturday afternoon, I’ll be on a panel “Break-In Stories,” talking with other comic creators on how we “broke in” to the comic industry. Others will be: Cully Hamner, Chuck Dixon, Mike Miller, Frank Tieri, Steve Horton and Russell Lissau. I know several of them so know you will get some good stories AND will get some good answers to your questions. We’ll be in room 310 EF.

Last week…make that two weekends ago (I skipped a blog, last week, didn’t I? Oops!) I was the keynote speaker at the Mid-South Christian Writer’s Conference. I know, right! While I’ve spoken and had sessions at conferences/conventions before, this is only the second time as keynote…and yes, it gives me butterflies. Pretty much always! But, I tend to remember about 10 minutes in (I have to warm up, I guess) that I’m talking about WRITING, something about which I’m fairly passionate and then the overdrive motor kicks in.

I did two sessions as keynote and then a “breakout session,” where I gave an overview of how to write for graphic novels as most of the attendees were more traditional (ie., prose) writers. As I do in my class at Full Sail where we get the chance to really dive in deep, I get very excited to see the lights of possibility come on in the eyes of those in attendance. Often, it’s like revealing an entirely different world to them—and that’s kind of exciting.

The keynotes were a big challenge for me. Generally, as in the graphic novel session, the subject is pretty focused and straightforward. The staff (thanks April and Tracy—with no E!) wanted me to talk about something that could be for ALL writers. You see, the conference was not just for novelists. Also in attendance were songwriters, poets, memoirists and devotional writers (I’m sure I left somebody out!). Yikes! Generally, I’m all about STORY. You see, just ask my students and they’ll tell you that they constantly hear from me STORY IS KING! And I believe that! SO, I had to try to come up with something that covered all writer types.

And then they tossed in the curveball. Oh—and make it accessible to writers of all skill levels, from beginners to established/working writers.

Yeah.

In the end, I used that time to (I hope) both challenge and encourage them to BE BETTER WRITERS and to HONE THEIR CRAFT regardless of what level their writing may be or where they consider themselves. And while it very difficult to tell sometimes if those who are listening are enjoying it, I didn’t see anyone nodding off (the same is not true for my classroom!) and I take that as a good sign.

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2014 that will be

Happy New Year everyone! I hope this blog post finds you all healthy and ready for the new year. I know I am!

Why, you ask?

Well, I’m glad you asked, let me tell you. But before I do, I want to offer up this video to you from the Mann family. Please accept this as our wish from us to you for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

So now, why am I excited about 2014? Well, I have several projects that are near “pitch” phase and I’ll be showing some of the images from those soon. They are (in no particular order): Beah with art by Tim Holtrop and coloring by Emily Kanalz; Citizens with Joe Baden; The Rejects with JC Grande and colors by Jesse Heagy; Sand Gears with Quinton Bedwell; Cat & Mouse with Henry Martinez. I’m also very close to finishing up a script adaptation of the upcoming post-rapture horror film, The Remaining, with artist Kyle Hotz! On top of that, I’m in talks to have some of my out of print work made available digitally (work like Krey and Demon’s Tails) and I’ve found some talented new colorists to work on those books: David Tigner is working on coloring SilverStorm, Jeremy Kahn is coloring Krey, Elijah Minott is coloring Demon’s Tails. All in all, some pretty exciting stuff.

Additionally, the calendar is filling up with some exciting events/conferences/conventions, and all. In March (8th) I’m speaking at the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference. I’m excited to be presenting there—it’s in Memphis, if the title didn’t give it away. Two weeks later I’m on the guest list for MegaCon, which is in Orlando, Florida. I had a great time as a guest there last year and am looking forward to another great show. I’m also trying to pitch a panel there but haven’t gotten word on that yet.

In April I’ll be the mentor at the Spring Hemingway Writers Retreat at the Hemingway Museum and Education Center in Piggott, Arkansas. It’s a place I’ve been before and I’ve said this before, too: this is one of those great opportunities for writers to get away and write! There are some instructional exercises, but it is mostly focused writing time with one on one feedback from mentors (which will be yours truly in April!). Lots of good writing has come out of the retreats I’ve been associated with. If you’re looking for a shorter getaway, this is the perfect opportunity for you.

Also in April, and on a more personal note, the grave for my Civil War ancestor William Montgomery Mann will have a dedication ceremony that features a new headstone with his unit markings. This is something I’ve hoped for since about 1986…and it really is all happening as the result of hard work from my dad.

In September (20th and 21st), I’m a comic guest at The Geek Gathering in Sheffield, Alabama, near my old stomping grounds in Florence. I’m hoping to get to see some of my old pals there.

A colleague of mine at Full Sail is putting together a group of presenters for the Florida Writers conference in October. While final word isn’t in on it yet (nor do I know the actual date), I’m pretty excited to be a part of the team she’s put together.

So, lots of stuff has me excited. So let’s dive in and hopefully we’ll all have a great 2014!

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MegaCon 2013 report

Me, Brittany, and Tony Fortenberry at MegaCon in 1998.

Me, Brittany, and Tony Fortenberry at MegaCon in 1998.

I feel a bit guilty that I’ve talked about or mentioned Megacon in my last three blogs…but doggone it, I’ve been pretty excited about it—and with good reason. So, this is my report on it!

Brett and Brittany doing table duty at the show. I didn't realize they color-coordinated until looking at the picture.

Brett and Brittany doing table duty at the show. I didn’t realize they color-coordinated until looking at the picture.

I’ve only attended Megacon once before, and that was in 1998. I don’t remember the drive at all, but do remember staying with good pal Tony Fortenberry and his wife Claire. I also remember having a great time…and yes, we went to Disney after!

So, 15 years later, I’m anticipating great things and I wasn’t disappointed. Friday the kids and I set up shop around noon. Unfortunately, Brittany wasn’t feeling well and the first hour or so was occupied with find medicine for her—there’s a story all in itself!

Robert is an Ultraverse fan who stopped by to chat...and I discovered he was a kicker for the Florida Gators...several years back! How cool is that?

Robert is an Ultraverse fan who stopped by to chat…and I discovered he was a kicker for the Florida Gators…several years back! How cool is that?

Tired and anticipating a big Saturday, the kids and I headed back to the apartment.

Me with Thomas Florimonte and Barry Gregory. I've known Barry since the 6th grade. We were creating comics together by the 7th. Yes, they were on notebook paper, but still!

Me with Thomas Florimonte and Barry Gregory. I’ve known Barry since the 6th grade. We were creating comics together by the 7th. Yes, they were on notebook paper, but still!

Saturday was indeed a big day. I haven’t seen such long lines since the last time I went to San Diego Comic Con. In fact, Megacon 2013 reminded me a LOT of SDCC when I last went. The parking lot was packed and we had to park in the back, back 40! When the doors opened, the crowds streamed in. The aisles were jammed packed with congoers, all of whom had great attitudes about the entire thing. Lots of folks stopped to get books and signatures. The Wizard of Oz graphic novel proved to be the most popular title on my table for the weekend. One nice fan brought me some comics to sign and I told her that I didn’t write them. She insisted (nicely) that I did and when I opened the cover to check out the credits, Brett immediately pointed to my name indicating me as the writer.

Me with Paul Pelletier holding a copy of DEMON'S TAILS, a mini-series that I wrote and he drew...oh so long ago.

Me with Paul Pelletier holding a copy of DEMON’S TAILS, a mini-series that I wrote and he drew…oh so long ago.

It was a short lead-up story to the Eliminator mini-series that I co-wrote with Hank Kanalz. I had just flat forgot all about it. I gladly signed her copies—but now I’ve got to go hunt those things down for me! I also got to meet Robert McGinty, a guy who I’ve only ever chatted with on Facebook’s Ultraverse page. I learned he was a kicker in the SEC!

Me and Brittany with supercool comic rockstar Jimmy Palmiotti. He took time to offer some good advice to Brittany in regards to getting "into" the acting business.

Me and Brittany with supercool comic rockstar Jimmy Palmiotti. He took time to offer some good advice to Brittany in regards to getting “into” the acting business.

One of my personal highlights was getting the opportunity to have dinner with my old pals Barry Gregory (and his son), Thomas and Rene Florimonte, and Paul Pelletier. We told stories and caught up for hours. I accused Brittany of being bored and she scolded me later (and in private), telling me she loved to hear the stories we told. The cool thing about old friends like that is that while it had really been 15+ years since I’d really seen any of them, it felt like only last week we were talking. (We did, however, come to the conclusion that Paul has now drawn well over 4,000 pages of comic work! WOW!)

Me with George Perez. He's holding a copy of Genesis #0 for which he did the cover. An anthology, I wrote one story (drawn by Jimmy Palmiotti) and edited the others.

Me with George Perez. He’s holding a copy of Genesis #0 for which he did the cover. An anthology, I wrote one story (drawn by Jimmy Palmiotti) and edited the others.

Sunday was quite a bit slower and all the artists around me were dragging a bit. I got to see and visit with friends George Perez, Jimmy Palmiotti (who was kind enough to take a few minutes to offer Brittany some suggestions for getting into the acting industry), Billy Tucci, Chuck Dixon, as well as make new friends of Brian Demeter and Michael Bramson. Both were incredibly cool guys as well as talented artists.

And yes, once Megacon was over, we made the 12 hour drive back to Mississippi. And yes, we were dog-tired (and Brittany caught some kind of bug while there). All in all though, we’re all looking forward to going to Megacon again next year!

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March 21, 2013 · 11:00 am