Tag Archives: Thomas Florimonte

My Old Pal!

For most people, friends from childhood are distant memories and/or simply pictures in a school annual. Facebook and other social media has changed that some, now they’re pictures on the computer. Prior to my joining Facebook in 2009, I hadn’t seen or heard from most of the people I went to high school with since my 20 year reunion a few years earlier. And prior to my reunion, it’d been 20 years since I’d last seen or talked to the overwhelming majority of them.

Me with Thomas Florimonte and Barry Gregory, co-owners of Ka-Blam!

Me with Thomas Florimonte and Barry Gregory, co-owners of Ka-Blam!

There are a couple of people, though with whom I have kept occasional contact from way back when. The earliest friend I still speak with every few months is Duane Holland, a friend from my elementary years. Duane and I were comic book geeks together. He was the only one in my school who could talk comics with me…and yes, we’d occasionally trade comics: he liked the Fantastic Four while I was an Avengers fan. He’d probably strangle me if he knew I was going to tell all of you about the time we camped out in a tent behind my house and sang goofy superhero songs thanks to Mad Magazine. Weirdly enough, I can still hear those tunes in my head.

Barry Gregory, however, is probably the oldest pal that I kept any sort of regular contact with. My friendship with Barry goes back to the 6th grade when I was the new kid in class after transfer-induced move. One or the other of us found out we liked comics and we immediately hit it off.

As 7th graders, Barry and I created our own group of superheroes; we mostly liked the same stuff and so mostly dug each other’s creations. I can’t recall who was first, but it was probably Barry who showed me a few pages of a comic he was drawing (and often tracing. We did that in a bunch of the comics we produced) and I was doing the same.

L-R: Barry, Tony Fortenberry, me, Mark McElroy. The Four Horsemen!

L-R: Barry, Tony Fortenberry, me, Mark McElroy. The Four Horsemen!

But, because we did like the same sort of stuff, we ended up doing a “crossover,” inspired very much by the then-recent Avengers/Defenders crossover. We divvied up the chapters and stories and chores and the story line hopped from my comic to his—just like the Avengers/Defenders story.

I still have much of that work in my possession. In deference to Barry (and since he knows nothing about this post), I won’t put any of his artwork here—and I’m not going to put MUCH of mine here; keep in mind I was in middle school when I did this, so don’t be hatin’! Many of the characters I created way back then live still, if in changed form. The least changed character still around is the Demon character from the Cat & Mouse series.

We kept going to comics one way or another and tried a couple of times to do different things. We were writers in perpetual search of artists. After a few false starts, I stumbled across a few and we tried again. When we pitched Cat & Mouse, we also pitched SilverStorm (written by Thomas Fortenberry) and something we called Hero Task Force (the name taken from several years of RPG sessions). Regrettably, the publisher only wanted C&M and SilverStorm and HTF never came to be.

This is the cover to the first full comic I ever did...back around 1976.

This is the cover to the first full comic I ever did…back around 1976.

Barry, of course, continued to work not only as a writer but as a color guide colorist (created guides that computer colorist would then use to color in photoshop) and I was able to hire him some when I was an editor.

Barry is the same one I mentioned a few months back who introduced me to the comic shop and back issues. He’s now not only a comic creator, but the co-owner in the premier POD (Print on Demand) comic printer in the industry. And while I don’t talk to him as much as I probably should, we remain friends to this day. Facebook or not!

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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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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

Hot Springs Village…and MegaCon

This will be a short and quick update on some places you can catch me in the next weeks. If you’re nearby and are able, look me up and say hi. Bring a copy of something for me to sign…or better yet, buy something new from me on the spot…autographs are always free!

On Saturday, March 9, I will be speaking and overseeing mini-writing exercises based on the material covered in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas (sponsored by the Hot Springs Village Creative Writers group). I met a couple of the writers when I led the Hemingway Writers retreat in Piggott, Arkansas. I’m honored to know that they enjoyed the retreat enough to suggest bringing me in just for their group (which is, by all accounts, fairly sizable). Now—the pressure is on me! Click here: http://www.villagewritersclub.com/ for more information.

Additionally, I’ll be at MegaCon the following weekend, March 15, 16 and 17 (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). You can find me in Artist Alley at Brown #9. While I’ve done a bunch of conventions, this is only my second trip to Orlando, the last one being in 1998 where I got the chance to hang out with a lot of my old buddies (Bill Sawyer, Barry and Jenny Gregory, Tony and Claire Fortenberry [who also put me up during my stay then] and Thomas Florimonte). Some of you know the Gregorys and Thomas from the top POD printing company they own and run: Ka-Blam. While I haven’t talked to them, I’m assuming they’ll be there again—it’s local to them.

If you’re going to be at the convention, come out and see me. As I said above, bring something for me to sign…or better yet, buy something new from me at the con. Autographs will be free there, too!

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