Posted on Leave a comment

Five for Creating With Aidan Casserly


FIVE FOR CREATING WITH AIDAN CASSERLY


Welcome to Five for Creating! A new interview series here at ComixCentral where we focus on getting to know Indie Creators and what they are working on through a series of five questions. This week we chat with Aidan Casserly the creator of Scapula a comic which started its run back in 2007 and which has a new release  available through his active Kickstarter campaign.

1. Tell us a little about Scapula.

Scapula is a creator-owned comic series that I first self-published in 2007; it started as both an indulgence in everything I loved about comics (supervillains and monsters with a MAD-esque tone) and grew into a long-running series. Scapula ran as a webcomic from 2008 through 2015 (the first four years as a full-color Sunday page only, the last three with the insane update schedule of four comics a week). The series is now published as special magazine-sized issues, the most recent one being 2017’s Scapula and the Sinister Monster Doom Legion.
The brand new issue, Scapula-Doubly Dark & Deadly! is currently having a Kickstarter campaign to fund its publication, which you can find here!

2. You published the first Scapula story in 2007, Eleven years later what drives you to keep telling his story.

In all honesty I just really enjoy creating Scapula comics; there are times when creators have stories and characters that they have to struggle to work with, but sometimes they hit on something where the ideas just  never stop. After I had done the original Scapula zine and a year of the webcomic I no longer had to struggle to come up with ideas; a few years later and the stories started to become dictated by the whims of the characters as if they were real people.
Some stories, such as ‘Blessed be the Damned’ and ‘Love and War’ (collected in Scapula: World’s Worst Villain) were completely rewritten when I started thinking about the plots from the characters’ individual perspectives and thinking about how they would emotionally and logically react to situations; once a creator reaches that stage of understanding their own creation then I believe they’ve hit on something great.
…that and I like drawing monsters and bad guys getting clobbered.

3. Scapula seems to has both a horror and comedic theme. Is this tough to balance when writing the story?

Not at all! Humor and horror have had a long-standing relationship in comics, film, rock, theatre, etc, and the mixing of creepiness and comedy is my goldmine. Sometimes the horror is fun and nostalgic (such as the ‘House of Scapula’ story from Scapula Vol.2 Fear the Failure, an homage to the Universal monster movies), sometimes it’s played deadly serious (as in the majority of Scapula: Memento Mori); the tone may shift depending on what kind of story I want to tell, but in the end there’s a lot of freedom and range when you’re going for chills and laughs.

4. You mention in the Kickstarter campaign that you are showcasing the Female characters from the Scapula Universe. Other than the fact that Woman totally rule, was there another factor on why you chose to focus on them?

Even though I had a ton of fun making Scapula and the Sinister Monster Doom Legion I did take another look at it afterwards and realized that there were barely any women in it (the only ones of note being the seductive vampire and the completely ridiculous alien girls); I decided that the bad boys had their fun in that issue and that it was time to return to the female cast of Scapula.
The two-headed gangster Jemini, who has been Scapula’s main nemesis since the first year of the webcomic, has always been a challenge for me to both write and draw, which is oddly enough the reason why I return to her stories time and again. There’s something strangely funny about having a character who is smarter than the idiots around her and yet still falls victim to their exact same stroke of bad luck. She appears as a central character in the main story of Scapula-Doubly Dark & Deadly!; we’ll see how she deals with Scapula this time…
Aside from Jemini we’ll also be seeing the return of some of Scapula’s former lovers in the final story of the new book. I will confess that the ‘soap opera’ angle in the webcomic was one of my favorite things to explore (I’m a softie at heart) and even if the romances usually turned into tragedy they still made for interesting stories. I’m very happy that readers will be able to revisit some of these strange and unusual women once again.

5. Here at ComixCentral we are about promoting all things Indie Comics. So, besides your own work, What is one Indie property or creator you think people need to go check out?

I really want to thank Bill Walko, who has generously helped promote my own Kickstarter while accomplishing his own goal for The Hero Business: Season Two with flying colors; we launched on the same day and he still took the time out of his own promotion to help spread the word about mine. That’s a real class act right there!
We’ve even had fun with it in the form of a ‘drinking contest’ cartoon series between his main bad guy (the show-stealing Dr. Eli Malefactor, who would be my favorite character from The Hero Business if not for Louie the Lounge Lizard) and Scapula. Let’s see how drunk they get by the end of the campaign!
I also want to thank Howie Noeldechen, creator of the ongoing Tara Normal comic and the graphic novel Float, who created an exclusive Scapula piece for my campaign, which is currently being added as a new Reward for certain level backers.
Thank you everyone for reading my ramble and check out the campaign; enjoy the horrorshow!


Aidan Casserly is a California-based artist, formerly from San Francisco and later relocated to Los Angeles. He received art training at several institutions, namely the American Animation Institute in Burbank.

Aidan works as a storyboard artist, primarily with Animatics & Storyboards Inc and Smorgasbord Productions, having worked on commercial and animation properties as diverse as Barbie, Talking Tom & Friends, Chop Chop Ninja, Gorillaville (DreamWorks TV), AllState Insurance, Mercedes Benz, Ace Hardware, and Disney Interactive.

Aside from freelance work, Aidan continues to create his own brand of comics, including his creator-owned series Scapula (currently in its eleventh year of publication).

Aidan is heavily involved in the SoCal horror scene, with a series of monster-art books and live caricature appearances at spooky-themed stores including Dark Delicacies, the Hyaena Gallery, Toy-Zilla, Black Cat Comics, and the California Institute of Abnormalarts. He is also a frequent collaborator and performer with the shock rock band The Rhythm Coffin.

Posted on Leave a comment

Daddy’s Issues | Chapter 10 | The End of the Beginning


Welcome to the blog series; Daddy’s Issues, from Indie comic creator, Johnny Craft.  Come along chapter by chapter as this comic book writer explores the journey of expecting his first child and all the emotions and creative challenges that come along with it. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny


Saturday, August 25th was Induction Day.

Everything was already prepared. Car seat installed, diaper bag packed, and my overnight bag was stuffed full of snacks, comics, and anything else that would keep me entertained for the unknown amount of anxious waiting that I had ahead of me. The fridge and freezer were loaded up at home with easy, quick-to-make, foods for our upcoming first weeks of parents. We made sure everyone important knew which hospital we would be checking into. Jovelyn and I were ready to have our baby!

The problem? Our anxious asses prepared everything days in advance and finished up the small details the night before. The appointment for the induction was at 7 p.m. (as in the afternoon, wait around pacing all damn day, p.m.). We nervously walked around home, cleaning every small thing we could and quintuple checking all of our supplies. We went to an early dinner at four o’clock and decided “fuck ‘em”, heading to the hospital at around 5:15 with the attitude of “they won’t turn us away and we may even get an early bird special”.

The hospital only made us wait a short while before finding us a room, setting up the equipment, and settling us into our new home for (what seemed like) the next 46 years. The stay itself wasn’t actually terrible, it was only made to FEEL terrible when you took Jovelyn’s uncomfortable hospital bed and my “what the fuck is this cushion made out of, used condoms stuffed with hay?” fold out couch into the equation. The important thing was, we were there and it was only a matter of time before we got to finally see what our boy will look like.

Jovelyn was incredibly uncomfortable all night, due to a combination of her shitty bed and the drugs they gave her to induce labor. Plus, nurses were coming in to check on her every two hours or so, which started to become kind of annoying when I started thinking “Shouldn’t she be resting up for that whole, inevitable, pushing ordeal?”. But the mother of my soon-to-be child is the love of my life for a reason; she took the whole experience like a champ.

The next morning, I had a horrible breakfast in the hospital cafeteria, and took a short trip back to our apartment while the nurses poked and prodded my lovely lady. I felt okay to leave for a bit, since they gave us an ETA of 5 p.m. for Push Time. I checked on the cats, to make sure they didn’t shred the apartment. To my fortune, I only had to clean up a tiny pile of puke and refill some water dishes. I also took a tiny smoke break before returning to the hospital, where I was hoping to have a small nap on condom-couch to help the day pass more quickly.

By the way, I hate to do this, but I’m going to take a “time-out” to pat myself on the back. I was back in the comfort of my apartment, where I had access to a headful of herbals and a very comfortable king size bed (all to myself, mind you), but I chose to go back to the hospital and take my nap next to Jovelyn on the most uncomfortable piece of furniture I’ve ever experienced! It was just the obvious choice to me. She’s in labor pain, the least I could be is slightly uncomfortable and unable to sleep. Seriously, though, fuck that hospital couch.

I would also like to take a moment to address everyone who gave me a variety of “What to Expect…” style advice. Why THE FUCK did you NOT tell me to bring my own toilet paper to the hospital? The stuff they stock there tore my asshole to ribbons! After this baby comes out, both Mommy AND Daddy would be looking at weeks of recovery below the waist, for entirely separate reasons.

I got back to the hospital, checked on Jovelyn, and let her know the status of everything at home (without mentioning the cat vomit). She was in her usual position, with her frequent visit from nurses, but now her sister Jessica had shown up to keep her company. There was seemingly no update on her labor status, so it was looking like nap time was upon me.

It was a little after 1:30 p.m. by the time my headphones were in and I was lying on my side, the only way my skinny ass could fit, on my awesome guest couch/”bed” (yes, the quotes are necessary). I figured I could squeeze in at least an hour worth of rest into a two hour period, if I tried hard enough. I wanted to have as much energy as possible when my girl started pushing, so I could be her biggest and most enthusiastic cheerleader.

It was right at that moment that the hospital door opened for another routine check-up. Instead of ignoring it and trying to continue with my nap plans, I decided to get up to see what the nurse had to say this time. Strangely enough, it wasn’t the nurse who entered the room. It was our doctor that we weren’t expecting to see until it was time to…

Oh!

“You’re dilated and the baby is sitting pretty low,” she said. “It’s time to start pushing.”

Oh!

“It’s time to start pushing.” … Holy shit!

We were about three hours ahead of schedule and no one even hinted at this being a possibility! It caught us by surprise, causing us to look at each other in complete shock… and then completely nervously.

We were about to have our baby!

The nurses came in and set everything up. I wish I could go more into detail and find something funny to say about the equipment, or the nurses, or pretty much anything that goes into preparing a woman to start giving birth, but everything was one giant blur. The details, in my mind, were as simple as “We’re here and suddenly there are bright lights everywhere. Hey, fuckface, go ahead and hold that left leg up for us”.

It was a very overwhelming and intense experience. Despite the several people in the room, it felt like Jovelyn and I were alone in our own little bubble of surreality with just a faint voice guiding us to do what needed to be done.

Jovelyn was pushing with all of her strength and smiling through the pain. That’s not an exaggeration, she was literally smiling during labor. She was THAT excited to finally meet our son. I can’t blame her, seeing as how I was my own brand of excited, but more of the slack-jawed and stunned variety.

It’s hard to explain the emotions that go into watching your dream woman squeeze a baby out of herself. I’m also certain it’s not a universal feeling, and probably varies from person to person. I know a lot of people who say it’s gross, but I didn’t think so at all. I can see how some people would get freaked out, seeing a head emerge from a vagina, but if they’re thinking sexually in that moment then I don’t even know how to relate to a person like that.

For me, watching the head start to come out was a moment of victory, accomplishment, and the first appearance of our baby boy into the world. It started with a tiny bit of skin that I could barely see, but unmistakably knew was the top of a little head.

I made a point to choose my words wisely. Obviously, I’m no expert and the first thing I could think to say was “You’re almost there!”, but decided to go with something else in case the doctor wanted to tell me to shut the fuck up and remind me that I had no idea what I was talking about. I just assumed, top of the head is showing, so we are probably just a few pushes away.

“You’re doing it, my love!” I told Jovelyn. “I love you so much. I can see his head. You’re doing it!”

Jovelyn gave a few more major pushes and then… Woosh!

Max Morrison Craft, covered in blood and miscellaneous goo, made his way into the world at 2:17 p.m. on August 26th, 2018. Jovelyn Jade only had to push for nine minutes, with a smile on her face every second of it… and she didn’t even smear her makeup.

They cut Max’s cord and the second he opened his eyes, he looked directly up at me. I was the first person that my son laid his eyes on. That is my first shared moment with Max and it’s something I will carry with me forever. For my little guy to see me before anyone else, EVER, was a moment that filled me with overwhelming pride for the new life we had created together.

 

Then things got… really… really… scary.

I did find it odd that he didn’t cry when he came out, and I guess I didn’t notice that Max was born with his cord wrapped around his neck. I could see nurses scrambling, out of the corner of my eye and there were a lot of mumbles that were clearly not meant for Jovelyn and I to hear.

I looked over and saw two nurses frantically wiping down my new baby, who still had yet to cry or make any sort of noise.

Jovelyn and I looked at each other with concern and asked the doctor if everything was okay.

“They are just trying to get him to breathe on his own,” she responded… way too fucking casually!

That shared look of concern turned into a shared look of terror.

The nurses brought in some kind of incubator, light box looking thing, to put the baby in. I was starting to think things were a bit more serious than the staff was leading on.

I demanded answers, while trying to remain calm, and talk to my son to somehow let him know that his dad was there for him. Even if he couldn’t understand me. Even if I was just talking to make myself feel better, I had to let Max know that I was his dad and I was going to do anything I can to make everything okay.

“Max, it’s Daddy,” I said, crying. “Remember me? I love you. I’m going to make sure you’re safe. I love you so much. I’m your dad, Max. I’m going to help you.”

They took him away for some kind of testing. Jovelyn and I cried, together, mainly out of joy but it would be a lie to say that there was no concern in those tears as well. We created a beautiful life together and they just took him away from us, leaving us completely in the dark as to whether or not Max was going to be okay.

By this point, both our families had shown up to visit. Jovelyn’s family came in first. I accepted all the congratulations, but didn’t stay too long, as I had to go to the hospital lobby to bring my own family up to the room. My mom, dad, and niece met me downstairs after a few minutes of waiting for them. I told them about everything that was going on, downplaying my fear, and then led them up to the room.

As soon as I opened the door to Jovelyn’s hospital room, I heard my love call out to me.

“Johnny? Is that you?”

“Yes,” I answered. “I brought my family with me.”

I couldn’t see anyone, due to the strangely angled curtain in room when the door is first opened, so I was incredibly surprised when she asked…

“Do you want to hold your son?”

We walked around the curtain, and there he was, Max Morrison Craft in the loving arms of his mother. Healthy. Perfect. I immediately snapped a picture or my two loves, sanitized my hands, and held my baby for the first time ever.

“Hi Max, it’s Daddy,” I said, looking into the beautiful brown eyes or our sweet baby boy. “I told you I would make sure you were okay.”

Granted, there was either nothing VERY wrong with him to begin with OR the doctors sorted everything out, but I just feel like fortune was doing me favors on that day. I may not have directly done anything to ensure his safety, but I do know that I wanted it more than anything I’ve ever wanted in life.

More testing happened, and all the necessary, routine hospital things. However, 24 hours later, Jovelyn was given the option to sign discharge papers and come home with me and our new roommate. We took Max home on Monday, to give him the grand tour of his new place, and to show him all the things we’ve gathered for him over the last few months.

We had our son. We had him home. Jovelyn left our place pregnant and came back with another human life. Our pregnancy journey was complete.

Our life together truly starts, now. Jovelyn and I have had one hell of a journey, to get to this point. We’ve known each other for fifteen years! I always knew we had the potential to be THIS, I always wanted us to be THIS, and now we are. It’s amazing what persistence, timing, and a hefty helping of luck can do for a person.

When we first became a couple, I remember talking to my friend Hannah, who knew us both from high school. She talked about us being perfect for each other, and I remember gushing about all my feeling for Jovelyn to her. Just a few months ago, I got a Facebook message from Hannah asking me if she remembers what I said to her in that conversation. Barely, but Hannah had no problem reminding me.

“I’m going to have a baby with her.”

And I did! I’m no psychic, it was always just obvious to me. Jovelyn Jade should be my wife and have my babies. Nothing else has ever made perfect sense in my world. I’ve never met anyone else I’ve ever wanted to create a life with and felt comfortable literally doing that.

This whole pregnancy thing took us both through the ringer. Physically, emotionally, financially, and even romantically. We had to be less sexual with our intimacy and it brought us closer together as an already close couple. Then I got to see the life we created together and it made me love her even more! THEN I saw her hold Max for the first time and it made me love her EVEN MORE! We continue to grow closer and closer by the day, loving one another more and more.

We have Max. We have a family. Our pregnancy journey may be over, but there is still so much life to live, lessons to teach our son, and plenty more Daddy’s Issues for me to discover. 

This is only the end of the beginning.


Johnny Craft is a comic book writer, who is constantly looking for new talented artists to bring his scripts to life. Johnny’s physical composition is made up of 20% ambition, 30% talent, 40% coffee, and 10% illicit drugs. 


Banner Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


 

Posted on Leave a comment

Daddy’s Issues | Chapter 9 | Hot Fun in the Summertime


Welcome to the blog series; Daddy’s Issues, from Indie comic creator, Johnny Craft.  Come along chapter by chapter as this comic book writer explores the journey of expecting his first child and all the emotions and creative challenges that come along with it. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny


Jovelyn is eight months pregnant in July. I already think she’s the most attractive woman I’ve ever seen, but she must be literally hot as fuck!

The temperatures are consistently in the nineties, and she has to go to a doctor’s appointment almost weekly. Given the… chesty nature of my wife-to-be, I can imagine venturing outside becomes quite the sweaty endeavor this late in the pregnancy game.

I’ve even been struggling with the heat, and I’m not growing another human being inside of me. Running baby errands, moving things to get ready for Max, my excessive body hair, and general anxiety have me sweating through a couple of shirts on a daily basis. This is me in my regular, unable-to-become-pregnant mode. I could only imagine the perspiration I would produce, if I had 25-40% extra blood, like my lovely pregnant Jovelyn.

It doesn’t really help matters that Summer decided to rudely barge into our lives, unannounced. I mean, seriously, what happened to Spring of 2018?! We go from Winter Horror Show all the way up to March and then out of nowhere, BAM!, 88 degrees with imposing sun. If global warming (or climate change… or whatever you want to call it, really) is NOT real, then I demand an investigation. I want to file a missing person’s report on Spring, because something happened! Summer may have actually murdered springtime, so it could seize the opportunity to bake us for a few extra months a year.
Taking all these things into consideration, and adding the fact that my apartment is a STEEP two-story walk-up that requires permit parking in a lot a block away from me, you could imagine that Jovelyn hates the heat. She’s even confessed to me that, second to being able to hold our son, she’s looking forward to giving birth so she can stop “always needing a nap and always smelling like tittie sweat”.
We have doctor’s appointments almost weekly, so avoiding the stairs is not something Jovelyn can do completely. I help her waddle down the stairs as much as I can, but I can’t always attend every appointment. My biggest fear was that her water would break, while I was not home, and she would try going down those treacherous fuckers while going into labor. Thankfully the doctor is going to give us an induction date soon, so with any luck, that fear will not become a reality.

The weirdest part about Jovelyn having so much blood running through her veins, and us spending a lot of time indoors during this Mega Hot Summer, I actually find myself getting pretty COLD sometimes. I keep the air conditioner at a much lower temperature than I normally would, and Jovelyn will park herself in front of a fan in addition to the A/C. Cuddling becomes a goose-bumpy endeavor for me. It’s not rare to find me sitting by an open window, so I can feel some of that grossly imposing, yet strangely welcome, summer air to warm my bones.

Like most aspects of this pregnancy, the temperature has become another balancing act for me. Not only do I need to keep myself and the love of my life comfortable, but I also have to slowly transition the baby’s room into a “Safe Sleep Environment” (**to be read in a deep, movie-trailer-guy voice**) and that requires a certain temperature range. I’ve been trying to achieve this by subtly raising the A/C by one degree every day, until the thermometer we keep in the nursery reaches the “Safe Sleep Zone” (**same movie voice**) and I feel like I am one day away from achieving this goal… this very easy to achieve goal, that really required no effort or strenuous thought. Truly, I feel like I should be given a Safe Sleep Zone Award of Excellence.

That’s how, if you use a bit of the ol’ brain power, you can tell that a lot of pregnancy advice you get just may be bullshit. Look, I’m still going to put Max in the “Safe Sleep Zone” because I’m not an asshole, but if we want to talk about HOT then let’s talk about fu-cking hot! Let’s talk sizzling! Let’s talk desert landscape, African third-world, no shade, living in huts, hot! Because they still have babies there and I’m certain the Department of Child Services didn’t provide them with a little thermometer card to keep in their… nursery? They can’t exactly adjust their air conditioning unit a degree a day to find the perfect temperature, and they still manage to grow into adults somehow.

It really is amazing to think about the environments that babies are born in, all over the world, and then reflect on the first-world worries that we have for our children. Babies are born with no running water, in places with no flushing toilets or substantial food to go around, and we in the first-world are buying water jugs with pictures of babies on the fucking things because SURELY that’s more sterile! I mean, look at me, I’m bitching about Jovelyn having to walk down the stairs. At least she isn’t walking down the stairs, all the way down to the lake to collect water, to bring back on top of her head, all while eight months pregnant.
We watched a documentary called “Babies”, all about how people around the world have and raise their babies, and I feel like it’s essential viewing for expecting parents. It puts a lot of those needless worries into perspective. You tend to worry less about what brand of wipes to get, when you see an African woman wiping her son’s ass with her shin bone. Why bother with a baby gate either, when the Mongolians just tie their newborn to a bedpost like a dog?

We really are a lot more fortunate than we realize sometimes. People, that is. Not Jovelyn and I specifically, though it is a good thing to think back on when I’m pissed about not being about to figure out which nipple-flow is best for which bottle type.

We are ready for Summer to be over with. Max gets to join us at the end of it, and along with that comes Awww!-inducing Halloween costumes and some really adorable, tiny winter coats, scarves, mittens, and the cutest of all, little hats.

We just have to get through this imposing heat, first.


Johnny Craft is a comic book writer, who is constantly looking for new talented artists to bring his scripts to life. Johnny’s physical composition is made up of 20% ambition, 30% talent, 40% coffee, and 10% illicit drugs. 


Edited by Joey Sheehan







Posted on Leave a comment

Daddy’s Issues – Chapter 8: You’re Gonna Give Me Stuff?



Welcome to the blog series; Daddy’s Issues, from Indie comic creator, Johnny Craft.  Come along chapter by chapter as this comic book writer explores the journey of expecting his first child and all the emotions and creative challenges that come along with it. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny


We’ve created at least three Baby Registries and we plan on having the almighty Baby Shower
this summer. One thing I’ve learned, as an expecting parent, that has come as a pleasant surprise…

People will just GIVE you stuff.

I’m in charge of our Amazon registry, which is why there are so many Batman things on there,
and even Amazon gives you free stuff just for making a registry. Their Baby Box was no joke
either. Sure, it had the standard sample size shit but there were full packs of wipes, full sized
bottles, pacifiers, a bib, onesie, swaddling cloth, the-fuckin’-works! Even if you are the most ill-
prepared son-of-a-bitch in the world, you can keep a baby alive for at least a few days on the Amazon Baby Box alone.

Jovelyn’s friend, Leslie, who is also pregnant (together they form the superhero duo The
Outside Placenta Girls) even bought us a crib from there! Big shout out to Leslie for that one.
She told Jovelyn that putting together the crib will make things feel more real. I’m excited to get
it finished… not necessarily putting it together, with all the instructions, “is this an extra part?”
and the “fuck this thing!”, that will come along with the multi-lingual assembly instructions.
Target gives you free stuff for creating a registry with them, as well. Their Baby Bag was pretty
cool too, though not as impressive. They had diapers, wipes, and other such samples in there.
Nothing fun, like a super-exciting swaddler or anything. They did have a cooler pacifier than
Amazon had, though, so… Ha Ha, Amazon. Step your game up. Target is handing out little animal-nose pacies over here!

As I write this, we still have not received our Babylist Welcome Box, so I can neither praise nor
mock their efforts… to help expecting parents… by providing free things to their child… who
they will probably never meet… yet they still give them free stuff anyways… Yeah, yeah,
mocking them would be a total non-Dick move on my part. Good on Babylist, for just existing.

That’s some noble work.

I’m definitely into the free stuff these companies are giving away. It’s getting me used to the
sight of all this Easter-colored shit… Seriously, why is everything pastel? The thing that weirds
me out about the Baby Boxes, is that they require us to create a list of things that apparently is just acceptable to expect people to buy for you.

Back when I was a young, unemployed, loser, I would be more than happy to take a handout
from anyone who would offer anything. Buy me food. Pay for drinks. Got any drugs? Ever since I “got my shit together” so-to-speak, I’ve grown more and more uncomfortable with the idea of people giving me gifts.

Birthday and Christmas presents even make me kind of uncomfortable. I’m not sure what it is. I
guess a part of me thinks “Dude, I’m not a broke-ass anymore. You should spend this money on
a kid or something. They don’t have any money.” but it could just be the fact that I forget
birthdays CONSTANTLY and feel guilty when someone remembers mine.

So, naturally, I feel a little odd about asking people to buy me things from my baby registries. I
have a job. Shouldn’t it be on me to provide for my kid? But hey, kids don’t have any money, right? Maybe that’s the rationale of buying from baby registries.

Realistically, it’s not going to be too difficult to get over the “guilt” of people buying my first child
a little Justice League onesie pack, or a Batman rubber duckie. The intention is good. I’ll always
appreciate gifts given to my little boy, and I definitely don’t mind financial stress lifted from my
shoulders. People don’t seem to mind helping out either, so I’ll get over myself.

I also understand that there is a strange satisfaction of giving a child a gift. I’m incredibly guilty
of spoiling my nephews and nieces (especially the niece that’s into superheroes and comics). It
almost certainly goes back to being a kid yourself, and remembering the joy you felt when
someone gave you something that you thought was amazing. I’m absolutely looking forward to
spoiling my son with tons of superhero things. He’s already inheriting one massive comic book collection!

My friends Jess and Zip bought him his first little baby books. “My First Batman Book” and “My
First Book of Superpowers”. Can anyone say “Perfect!”? Zip and Jess are the best.
I did a podcast called The Unhappy Hour, years ago, and an old listener (Aaron C.) hooked up a
diaper holder from the baby registry. That thing will get some major use, because if Babylove is
anything like his dad, he’ll be shitting up a storm after having enough milk. Thank you, Aaron!
Mandy is a buddy from school who moved to Cincinnati. The distance didn’t stop her from
sending us some breast milk bags, nipple cream, and some kind of boob ice pack. I appreciate you, Mandy, for trying to take care of my woman’s nipples for me.

Another childhood friend (Alicia) bought a Batman teether from the Amazon registry. She told
me she saw it and couldn’t resist grabbing it for me. It was the exact logic I used when adding it to the registry. What better for my baby to chew on, than a bat symbol?

The MVP of Baby Registry so far, is my old classmate Alysia (not the same as Alicia). She got
the little guy some MAJOR things. A Batman baby carrier, Batman high chair, all kinds of baby
books, and little Batman things! I almost had a heart attack when I saw how many things she
contributed to our little Batman. Alysia has always been supportive of all my endeavors and the baby quest is no different. She, very simply, rules.

For anyone who has, is going to, or will ever contribute to our baby boy in any way… THANK
YOU! Seriously. This whole process is a little overwhelming and it’s hard to drive these
constantly forking roads of “Why is this baby carrier $30 and the other one is $140?”, “How
many bibs should we buy?”, and hoping Babies R’ Us drops their stuff to 50% Off pretty soon. I can’t speak for Jovelyn, but I will take all the help I can get!

I will include links to our baby registries, below. Don’t feel obligated to buy me anything.
Honestly, I expect to pick up most of this stuff myself. If I’ve ever entertained you, either with this
blog, various other writings, or sharing my “special herbs” with you in person, I would never ask
you to repay me by buying ME anything. My son is a different story. He isn’t even born yet, so
he definitely doesn’t have a job. If you’ve ever been looking for a way to repay me for any
reason (not sure why you would), doing something for my baby boy would make me happier than anything you could do for me specifically.

Amazon Registry



Johnny Craft is a comic book writer, who is constantly looking for new talented artists to bring his scripts to life. Johnny’s physical composition is made up of 20% ambition, 30% talent, 40% coffee, and 10% illicit drugs. 


Edited by Joey Sheehan







Posted on Leave a comment

Daddy’s Issues | Chapter 7 | The Gender Reveal


 

Welcome to the blog series; Daddy’s Issues, from Indie comic creator, Johnny Craft.  Come along chapter by chapter as this comic book writer explores the journey of expecting his first child and all the emotions and creative challenges that come along with it. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny


Finally, the twenty-week ultrasound is here! Finally, we have the answer to everyone’s follow-up question, after learning we’re having a baby! Finally, we know if we are having a little Batman or a little Wonder Woman!

We did some light preparation leading up to the day. Jovelyn and I went to Target and picked out Babylove’s first outfit, that we plan on leaving the hospital in. If it’s a little girl, we picked out a tiny Wonder Woman onesie, complete with a little printed-on lasso and everything! If it turned out we were having a boy, then we decided on… surprise, surprise… a Batman onesie.

First, let me start by saying everything looks healthy and right on track! All the measurement line up with our expected due date (August 29th) and Babylove looks healthy and normal. The first sigh of relief was out of the way.

Unlike the last ultrasound, I remembered to eat before we went. The only waiting room hitch I encountered this time was deciding that I had enough time to hit the bathroom before they called us in. Sure enough, I came back from a most-satisfying piss to find that the carrier of my child was ushered off without me.

I had to ask some sweet older lady to let me in the locked door and I quickly found my way into the ultrasound room. I took a seat and positioned myself in front of the screen. Jovelyn looked so beautiful and she even told the nurse that she wasn’t going to cry this time.

That was a lie. We both did. Again.

The image came on the screen of little Babylove in the breech position. Basically, mooning us… just like daddy in his high school days!

“Do you want to know the sex?” the nurse asked. “Because, I can tell already.” “I already know, too,” I said. And I did. It was clear as day. It’s like Babylove KNEW we wanted to know if we were having a boy or girl, by positioning the genitals front and center. I suddenly knew what my very next purchase was going to be. Babylove had their first onesie in their future and the picture for our Baby Registry suddenly became a bit more clear.

It’s a BOY!

Admittedly, we both thought we would do best with a little girl, but this opened up a whole new amazing level of possibilities. I have plenty of Batman comics to hand down and the Halloween costume possibilities are endless! If you attend Cons, get ready to see the cutest little superhero baby to ever grace a convention floor.

Plus, I can teach the little guy how to not be a creep. Hopefully, he won’t have the awkward learning to talk to girls phase that I went through. I’ll make sure he has no trouble finding a prom date.

We had lunch at Red Robin, which seems to be our new ritual after ultrasounds. We were joined by Jovelyn’s (very pregnant) friend, Leslie and her 2-year-old daughter. She is one cute little girl, and you would think that would make me jealous but, the second I learned we were having a boy, it felt like that’s what I wanted all along.

We surprised Jovelyn’s mom at work, to tell her she was having a little grandson and we fully accomplished Jovelyn’s goal of making her mom cry at work. Her mom was really excited and ended up hugging me three separate times. I guess having a family full of girls will really get you emotional when you can finally inject some testosterone into the mix.

My family is a little different. Boys galore, so it was far less emotional for my parents. They were just excited that everything looked healthy.

My seven-year-old niece seemed a little disappointed. I think she wanted a little girl cousin. On the plus side, though, she’s already my little comic book buddy. Now, I have someone I can buy DC Superhero Girls dolls for AND someone to buy all the Batman action figures for. I really just get to experience both sides of the modern childhood comic book fan.

I’m excited for the next part of the journey. Babylove won’t have a nursery, HE will have a Batcave.

And yes, he already has his first Batman suit. We stopped at Target on the way home from the hospital. His war on crime is just beginning…


Johnny Craft is a comic book writer, who is constantly looking for new talented artists to bring his scripts to life. Johnny’s physical composition is made up of 20% ambition, 30% talent, 40% coffee, and 10% illicit drugs. 


Edited by Joey Sheehan







Posted on Leave a comment

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains (Marvel Edition)

 

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains (Marvel Edition)

I have a guilty pleasure. Something I’m not entirely proud of but I’ll just go ahead and say it, I’m a Survivor superfan. I started way back with Survivor Borneo and have seen every season at least twice. I can name all the winners, probably know more than 75% of the over 400 people who have played and have imagined myself out there at least a thousand times. Sadly my geographic location excludes me from ever throwing myself on an island full of strangers to play one of the greatest social/strategic games ever invented. I’m relegated to applying to its deformed circus performer cousin, Big Brother Canada.

I imagine that you are reacting one of three ways to that paragraph.

“I love that show!”
“That’s still on?”
“What’s a Survivor?”

It’s okay. They’re all normal reactions. The show is almost old enough to vote, no worries if you forgot it existed or never even heard about. Somehow it keeps kicking. I say in large part due to the hardcore fan base that has developed around it. Much like comic fandom, being a Survivor fan becomes a part of you. From the numerous podcasts dissecting a single episode each week and countless discussion groups, there is no shortage of content to consume. Also much like the Marvel and DC universes, Survivor has built up a rich lore filled with iconic moments, legendary heroes and ruthlessly cunning villains. It’s what keeps the hardcore fans engaged and the casuals coming back each week for another episode. At its heart, Survivor is a show about people and how they react to the given situations that confront them every episode. Sound familiar?

So why not smash them together.

I give you Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains 2 (Marvel edition)

When deciding to do this I knew I had to use the template from what many consider to be one of the greatest Survivor season of all time. Season 20, dubbed Heroes vs. Villains, brought back 20 iconic players from the first 19 seasons and separated them into two tribes based on their traits shown in the past. I won’t spoil but it was a battle to end all battles and produced some of the greatest moves in the history of the game as well as establishing the legacies of multiple players. So why not see what we get when we throw in ten Marvel heroes up against ten of the universe’s baddies in a battle of wits.

Thanks to the people over at Brantsteel.com, this is completely possible. However, We need to cast this season before we get to the fun stuff. Let’s start with the good guys.

Casting Notes

It would have been easy to just throw in the most popular characters but that’s not how you cast a great season. A season is made great by the personalities involved and how they clash/ thrive with each other. Have too many similar players and you get a pretty boring result. Too much variety and you can get an epic mess. Like everything in life, it’s about finding that balance. So I picked some big names and some of my own personal favs in hopes to produce as true to form season that I could. I give you the TRIBAL BREAKDOWN.

Hero’s Tribe

  • Spider-Man (Peter Parker)
  • Captain America
  • Wolverine
  • Ironman (Tony Stark)
  • Sentry
  • Captain Marvel
  • Jessica Jone
  • Storm
  • The Wasp (Janet VanDyne)
  • Black Widow

Villains

  • Kang The Conqueror
  • Magneto
  • Taskmaster
  • Carnage
  • Kingpin
  • Lady Deathstrike
  • Mystique
  • Elektra
  • Black Cat
  • Cassandra Nova

Pre-Game Predictions

I’m not gonna lie, I favour the Villain’s tribe. Overall they hold some strategic powerhouses in Magneto and the Kingpin as well as some physical threats with Mystique, Lady Deathstrike, and Taskmaster. The biggest wild card could be Carnage as his sociopathic tendencies could make for an interesting social game early as player look to form those early bonds. If I had to pick the biggest threat, however, I’d have to go with Elektra as she seems to strike the balance of abilities (social, strategic, physical) the best.

On the heroes tribe, The Sentry could be a loose cannon if The Void makes an appearance and drag the tribe down in challenges. Also after the events of Civil War 2 and Secret Empire, it will be interesting to see how Tony Stark, Captain Marvel, and Captain America get along. I’d love to see a powerful trio form but it’s unlikely as I predict them going after each other early allowing less threatening players like Storm and The Wasp to sneak deep into the game. Now let’s get to a few predictions.

First Boot
Black Cat

Fan Fav
Jessica Jones

Final 4
Kingpin, Carnage, Deathstrike, Mystique

The Simulation

As I mentioned earlier, I’m using Brantsteele.net for this simulation. They are a great website filled with reality show simulations. If your interested, you can sim a variety of different seasons at your leisure if you think I did a terrible job with this. Nailing the physical stats for the simulator was tough so I apologize if you have a problem with some of the settings I ended up going with. I did the best I could so get off my back will ya. Click the link below and you can watch the simulation play out like a real season of Survivor.

Final Thoughts

Overall I’m a little disappointed with the entertainment value of the game and my piss poor predictions. Without spoiling, the action was dull at some points but I feel there were some good moments along the way. A couple clutch idol plays and a rootable underdog saves the season from being bad but keeps it firmly in the mediocre tier. Let me know what your thoughts in the comments and what another season you would like to see in the future!

survivor comixcentral


Be sure to comment, share and join us next time!


By Dan Ball

Dan is Canadian writer whose series, MISTER CROWLEY, is currently in production with Inbeon Studios. In Dan’s other life he has worked an after-school program for the last five years and nights as a developmental service worker.






Posted on Leave a comment

Daddy’s Issues Chapter 6 | Making Changes



Welcome to the blog series; Daddy’s Issues, from Indie comic creator, Johnny Craft.  Come along chapter by chapter as this comic book writer explores the journey of expecting his first child and all the emotions and creative challenges that come along with it. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny


**For this entry, I will say this once and only once: Don’t judge me. I’m not a bad person.**

Everyone knows that having your first child comes with a period of adjustment. No one can expect to pop out a kid and live the exact same lifestyle. It’s very simple Life Science. I am in for a few pretty extreme changes myself, which I haven’t made yet, but certainly, intend to. For example, sitting on the living room floor with a coffee, writing Daddy’s Issues, and chain-smoking weed will have to go by the wayside fairly soon.

I love drugs… Let me rephrase that… I am an enthusiast of CERTAIN drugs. I smoke my weight in marijuana on a regular basis, and I have never been known to turn down a hallucinogen. If they were easier to find, I would probably have a steady diet of psilocybin mushrooms and ecstasy pills.

My love affair with mind-altering substances wasn’t always so limited. I used to indulge in anything that was on offer. My only rule was: No Heroin, No Meth, No Crack. Aside from that, was an equal opportunity drug abuser.

I loved coke. Fucking LOVED IT! I used to spend all my expendable income on the stuff, as a matter of fact. I knew I needed to stop doing it though when I started doing rails on a Friday morning and finally got around to getting some sleep… on Tuesday night.

My routine was always simple, back in those days. Coke, online poker, start drinking at 4, more coke, more online poker, sports betting, coke. Sleep when I’m dead.

I used to get blitzkrieg drunk almost every night, as well. Loved scotch. I think I was unintentionally named after Johnny Walker (Black label, to be specific). It also was no rarity for me to put down 2-3 bottles of red wine in a night.

On January 21st, 2014, I decided to see if I could challenge myself to go 30 days without drinking any alcohol. I haven’t had a drop of booze since.

So, I am capable of kicking bad habits. I’ve done it a thousand times. I don’t drink, smoke cigarettes, or do any hard drugs anymore. No more gambling, reckless driving, and womanizing either! Now, I just need to work on chain-smoking marijuana and using “fuck” like it’s “um”. The future of my baby depends on it.

For the most part, I have put my savage hard-partying days behind me. I just need to make a few more tweaks, before Babylove arrives. Fortunately, for my comic book audience though, a
version of my piece-of-shit self will still live on in superhero form. Look forward to “Nitro Johnny: Origins” coming soon.

I’m very interested to see how my work-rate is impacted by my first born baby. As it stands right now, I notice myself writing severely less than I used to. I attribute that to me actually having a life and things to live for, now. I could churn out a comic book script in three days before Jovelyn came into the picture. People always ask how I am able to be so prolific in my comic book writing, stockpiling over 100 scripts. The answer is pretty simple: It used to be the only thing I would do.

I am still putting in a pretty good amount of work with my writing, despite downgrading it to my part-time job, instead of a second full-time job. I have a whole comic book universe that I want to create for ComixCentral and even my own indie superhero universe that I’ve been planning since I started writing. These things are starting to come together really well, even though I spend most of my time cooking and rubbing sore parts of my fiancé, rather than only writing. It’s so much better this way, though. Yeah, I can get a lot done as a shut-in, boring mother fucker, but memories with Jovelyn are much more fulfilling than anything else I could create. I imagine spending time with our kid would be just as satisfying.

Adjustment is a huge part of anyone’s life, regardless of if they’ve chosen to start a family or not. You have to be flexible if you want to maintain a level of success in any aspect of life. There ya go, faithful reader, have a nice li’l Tony Robbins moment for yourself.

I’m going to make the changes that I need to. It won’t be a problem. I mean, no promises that I won’t have a sneaky smoke if anyone ever decides to babysit.

I’ve seen some terrible examples of parenting in my time, when it comes to stuff like that. I’ve been taking bong hits in strange living rooms with almost-strangers, and all the sudden a toddler that I wasn’t aware existed walks into the room. I panicked, stuck the bong behind the couch, and the creeps I was smoking with actually said, “no, it’s fine”. NO, IT ISN’T!!!

I plan on setting a good example for my child, even if I haven’t made the best choices myself. I still haven’t decided if I plan on “lying” to the kid with Santa, Tooth Fairy, etc., but I do know that I will be honest with my child about the dangers of certain things. I’ve been around the block enough times and did drugs in most of the houses, so I have experience with a variety of different human beings. I think I can take that experience and adapt it to parenting with ease. Life is about to get a lot more interesting. I’m about to be someone’s role model.


Johnny Craft is a comic book writer, who is constantly looking for new talented artists to bring his scripts to life. Johnny’s physical composition is made up of 20% ambition, 30% talent, 40% coffee, and 10% illicit drugs.


Edited by Joey Sheehan







Posted on Leave a comment

Daddy’s Issues – Chapter 5: Secret Origins – The Johnny and Jovie Story


Welcome to the blog series; Daddy’s Issues, from Indie comic creator, Johnny Craft.  Come along chapter by chapter as this comic book writer explores the journey of expecting his first child and all the emotions and creative challenges that come along with it. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny

I traveled back in time to 2001. Or, rather, I am going to eventually. I’m just not entirely sure when that will be yet. I guess I’m waiting for them to actually invent the Time Machine. I know this will happen because I remember hanging out with Future Me back in 2001.

Before you ask, yes I probably WAS on drugs, but nothing stronger than the drugs I’m currently under the influence of. Of course, I had to convince my sixteen-year-old self the same thing. See, I went back in time to talk to my teenage version about how, yes that totally-out-of-your-league, super hot, Goth, Punk, Asian chick WILL, in fact, be your wife and the mother of your child.

In school, I always knew Jovelyn as my buddy John’s best friend and (in my opinion) someone so goddamn gorgeous that I shouldn’t even bother hitting on her. Her beauty was intimidating. She was womanly gorgeous in high school and I was an awkward comic book nerd who liked to make fun of everything. I’m pretty sure she could do better for a date to the prom, for fuck’s sake.

Did I want to ask her out? You bet your ass! She’s the most attracted I’ve ever been to a woman. EVER! I couldn’t do it, though. I wouldn’t. I would walk by her in the hallway between classes, interact with her briefly when I talk to John, and we went to the same house party once, but aside from that Jovelyn and I had very minimal interaction in high school.

That’s because Future Me went back in time to sort myself out, so I could actually get the girl of my dreams. Disaster was imminent if I let my teen, stoner, idiot self-try to pick up Jovelyn. I just didn’t have the life experience to keep such an amazing woman.



I remember I was in my blow-off typing class when I faked that I had to go to the bathroom. Probably so I could roam the halls, and see if any of my other degenerate friends were sent out in the hall, that I could bullshit with. That’s when I saw a bright blue, Dr. Manhattan glow coming from the bathroom in the hallway.

Future Me stepped out of the glow, and I was a little freaked out. I (as in teenage-me) felt the need to express my concern.

“Who are you?” I asked.
“Well, buddy,” Future Me said to myself. “I’m you… I’m you, from the future.”
“Oh, dude,” I said. “You’re not here to molest me, are you?”
“No!” Future Me exclaimed. “Why would I molest myself? Couldn’t I just go jerk-off?”
“Just making sure. There’s this new Catch a Predator show that has a lot of people concerned, these days.”
“I’m here to make sure you have an amazing adult life,” Future Me said. “I need to show you something.”

“Dude… You ARE going to molest me!”

After I was told to shut the fuck up and listen, Future Me led me to the end of the hallway, where I usually walked by Jovelyn. We stood and waited for the end-of-class bell to ring, and I totally knew I was going to get a detention for ditching class. Future Me walked alongside me, telling me who I shouldn’t bother talking to. Pointing out who would become junkies, which girls I would end up dating unsuccessfully, and who I would never even hear from again after high school. Then… he pointed her out.

“Jovelyn?” I said, confused. “Yeah, I kind of know her. Is she still hot? Is she still friends with Gay John? Not a judgment, by the way. There’s just too many Johns. Big John, Little John Goofy John, Redhead John. It’s just a descriptor. But hey, you know that. You’ve said it before.” “That’s your wife,” Future Me said, so matter-of-factly. “Bullshit! Now, I know you’re a fucking con artist!” “Believe it, asshole,” Future Me said. “That woman fucking LOVES you, dude. You may not know it yet, but as far as women are concerned, you’re the luckiest man on Earth.”

“How do I know you’re-”

“Her name is Jovelyn Jade Ross,” he interrupted. “She was born October 14th. Two years, one week, and one day before you. She loves black and white patterns, miniature things, and cats. She’s a sucker for horror stories, a master with eye makeup, and, OH, we have a full-on family at this point. You know I’m not lying, because I know my wife, dude. Trust me. You’re going to have the privilege of getting her pregnant.”

“So, then, what’s the point of you coming here?”

“Life is going to be hard. Dating is going to be some rough waters for you to navigate. You’re not going to have the easiest time figuring out what women want in a partner. You’re going to be with women that you’ll think are The One, and others that you can’t wait to get rid of, but I’m here to tell you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Jovelyn and your family is that pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.”

Future Me went on to explain how I should hold onto this thought, anytime I was heartbroken, or felt like I was helpless in the world of romance. He also explained what social media was, and how it’s going to be much easier to reach out to people you knew from school, eventually.

Future Me stepped back into the school’s bathroom, took a piss, didn’t wash his hands (I don’t blame him. That school soap smells awful.), and the Dr. Manhattan glow emitted from the doorway once again. He was gone.

Fast forward to 2012 and I found out Future Me was no con artist. Sure enough, social media put me back in contact with none other than… Jessica! Jovelyn’s sister. Jessica had actually invited me to hang out at her house, one night, after I found out that her husband was a guy I graduated with and worked with at Blockbuster.

I expected a night of cracking jokes, watching movies, and probably getting hammered (I was still drinking, at this point). I actually had no idea that Jessica had a roommate, and I had no idea that roommate would come home from work in the middle of us hanging out, and I especially had no idea that roommate was her sister Jovelyn Jade- the love of my life. We immediately connected, in a BIG way! We had the same twisted sense of humor, and we both embraced our weird sides as a positive, instead of dwelling on the shame that society likes to place on eccentric fuckers like us.

We got along famously! Thick as thieves! Peas in a pod! Cliches in a blog post! Not a problem in the world, except for that whole pesky her-having-a-boyfriend issue. No, we did not reconnect after all those years and fall magically, immediately, in love. I know it’s not romantic, and I know you’ve had a sci-fi story for part of this, but that’s just reality. I’m sure I loved her, but her heart belonged to someone else.

Or so I thought. Turns out, Jovelyn wasn’t in a very happy relationship. I wanted to be with her so badly. I knew that I could make her happy and I could see that, deep down, she knew it too.
There were moments where I thought things would go differently. Plenty of times that I thought Jovelyn had a change of heart and actually wanted to be with me, but nothing ever seemed to fall in my favor.

I moved on. I met someone else, we started a relationship, and even lived together for a short time. I even thought I loved this woman and would probably end up marrying her. Fate has a funny way of stepping in, though.

During the time of my pre-baby-making relationship, Jovelyn actually became single, and started to get pretty annoyed at the whole dating scene in general. She had given up on the idea of being with someone all together.



My relationship ended for reasons that are literally so stupid and childish, that I don’t even care to tell anyone why. Let’s just make an already long story just a bit shorter, and say goodbye and “Best of luck to ya”.

It didn’t take long for me to reach out to Jovelyn. She is the one person I’ve always been able to be myself with. The only person I could open up to, completely honestly, and share all my insecurities without the fear of judgment. Why wouldn’t I turn to her, to help me make sense of a shitty situation?

That’s when it happened. She agreed to come over and it was like that magical, immediate love, that everyone expected from earlier. We have spent all of our free time together, ever since and I’m still not sick of her. I don’t see myself ever being sick of her.

We live together now. We are expecting our first child together. We are engaged. We love each other and we’re very happy. I guess Future Me wasn’t a fucking con artist.
Now… Where is the hell is that time machine? I really have some shit I want to do, well before I go back in time and talk to that little teenage douchebag.

Future Me must have run out of things to see.



Johnny Craft is a comic book writer, who is constantly looking for new talented artists to bring his scripts to life. Johnny’s physical composition is made up of 20% ambition, 30% talent, 40% coffee, and 10% illicit drugs.


 






Posted on Leave a comment

Daddy’s Issues – Chapter 4: What’s in a Name?


Welcome to the blog series; Daddy’s Issues, from Indie comic creator, Johnny Craft.  Come along chapter by chapter as this comic book writer explores the journey of expecting his first child and all the emotions and creative challenges that come along with it. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny


Baby names have been a hot topic around The Craft Household, lately. There is, surprisingly, a LOT of thought you have to put into the name your child will be stuck with for the rest of their life.

First, you have to take my last name into consideration. Craft. Arthur, Artemis, Artem, Arturo. OUT! Art Craft? Get the fuck out of here…

No jokey, punny names, either. Space. Air. Mine. Love. That’s a whole lot of NOPE. And, sorry little girl, Laura Craft will get you too much Tomb Raider flack. It’s also important to take childish insults into consideration. Anything that can be turned into a butt, fart, or poop joke can’t even be a contender in the name game. I remember being a total cock to people, over their names, when I was younger. I mean, fuck,

I used to torture a kid named Adam by calling him “Subtract-em” all the time. I will take that into consideration, though, the first time my kid gets in trouble for ball-busting at school. So. Many. Questions. What if it’s a boy? What if it’s a girl? Is it even worth trying to come up with a name, until we know the gender? How unique should we go? Is a family of three J first names too cheesy? Do we want to name him/her after someone (and if so, who)? I never thought naming my kid would be like taking a pop-quiz! I also have to take the size of my family into consideration. Jovelyn’s family is small, but mine is endless. I don’t have a family tree, so much as a family orchard. I suddenly find myself asking “What’s that one cousin that I have, who just had a baby? What did she name that kid? Was it a girl?” on a regular basis. I would have hated to have had another Johnny Craft in my family, growing up. I don’t want to stiff my kid with that problem, and the petty “Nah uh, I was born first, so I’m the real Insert-Name- Here!” arguments that come along with being a child.



Girl names are easy. My only rule is “She can’t share a name with a woman I’ve slept with”, which, YES it HAS created a few awkward moments between Jovelyn and I. There are so many girl names that I like, that I could definitely see my little girl having. Penny, Alice, Juliana, Gloria, Gail. There are a lot of cute little girl names. Plus, I love comics so a little Selina Craft, Kara Zorel Craft or especially (if I could impossibly talk my wife-to-be into it) Big Barda Craft would be amazing!

Boy names are a bit more difficult. Bruce Wayne Craft is way too lame, even for a huge Batman fan like me. Swamp Thing, Solomon Grundy, and Hellboy still aren’t out of the running, though.

Don’t judge.

I hate the current trend of Something-ayson or Something-den. No disrespect to my nephews Mason and Kayden, but it seems like every male baby lately is a Grayson, Brayden, Crayson, or Crayden. At least my homie Valerie cut the bullshit and went with straight-up Rayden. Maybe I’ll take her lead and name the little fella Sub-Zero. In all seriousness, though, I like Max. Classic, strong, even comic hero-ish. Max Craft. Calvin is always a name I’ve felt was under-used, as well. Plus, I’m a sucker for the alliteration, AND it opens up the gates for me to make plenty of Parliament jokes to the kid (“But you’re the capital CC. Gainin’ on ya!”) since that’s exactly what a child growing up in the 2020’s will love; 1970’s funk jokes, that aren’t even very good. I’m killing the dad-jokes already.

The trickiest thing about boys names, to me anyway, is the fact that a lot of names sound good for adults but not necessarily babies. Like, could you really think of a little baby Hank? Or a tiny little Fred? Admittedly, these could be the wacky thoughts of a person who likes to smoke a few blunts while writing about his ol’ Daddy’s Issues, but these are grown man names! My grandfather was Buford, which I actually don’t think is a very bad name, but for… my grandfather! I couldn’t picture a baby having that name. Right now, we are stuck with the gender-ambiguous, temporary name of Babylove.

Jovelyn and I will figure out the rest, at our twenty-week ultrasound. We get to finally know if Babylove is a boy or a girl. Do I buy Batman or Wonder Woman stuff? Time will tell. Boy or girl, I’m sure we will decide the perfect name for our baby. Even if we have a lapse in judgment, I’m sure little Bieber Sampson Craft or Madonna Comet Craft will have an amazing life, even if they hate us forever for their terrible names.


Johnny Craft is a comic book writer, who is constantly looking for new talented artists to bring his scripts to life. Johnny’s physical composition is made up of 20% ambition, 30% talent, 40% coffee, and 10% illicit drugs.






Posted on Leave a comment

Daddy’s Issues – Chapter 3: The Sound of Ultra

 

Welcome to the blog series; Daddy’s Issues, from Indie comic creator, Johnny Craft.  Come along chapter by chapter as this comic book writer explores the journey of expecting his first child and all the emotions and creative challenges that come along with it. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny

It was the morning before Valentine’s Day and I woke up from a really anxious, restless, half-hearted attempt at sleep. Jovelyn and I were going to meet Babylove for the first time. It was the day of our first ultrasound.

I never thought I would be as scared as I was. I’m the level-headed, held-together, “everything is going to be okay” one of the pair. On this day, though, I was shitting my pants. I actually needed Jovelyn to drive us to the hospital, because I was too nervous. We got to the appointment on time, but I had to skip breakfast. That was a mistake. The first part of the appointment was an “education” segment, which basically consisted of a nurse practitioner telling Jovelyn how to best take care of Babylove… by listing off a bunch of food she can’t have, and should have. Did anyone tell this lady that I skipped breakfast?! I’m starvin’ over here!!! Stop talking about food!



They sent both of us back to the waiting room, to await the actual ultrasound. We waited for awhile. With each passing second, I kept having fantasies about seeing a vending machine appear in the distance like a desert oasis. In hindsight, I had plenty of time to journey to a cafeteria, the in-hospital Starbucks, or even an In-n- Out Burger whose closest location is at least a thousand miles from me. My point being: they kept us there FOR-FUCKING- EVER! Finally! Starving and annoyed, they called us into the ultrasound room. I sat in a chair next to the medical bench (complete with don’t-kick- me-in- the-face leg supports) meant for Jovelyn. Little did I know that my minor annoyance, with waiting and certainly early starvation symptoms, were about to mean absolutely nothing at all.

I want to skip ahead to the final part of our appointment, before going into the ultrasound itself.

Jovelyn needed to get a physical and the nurse in charge was actually a pretty funny lady. We saw her in the lobby, during SUPER WAIT, and Jovelyn commented on how much she loved her shoes. The nurse confirmed that those red high-heels were actually about 15-years- old. She complimented my bravery for my willingness to be in the room, during a pap smear, and even gave me a wink-and-a-nod when she told Jovelyn that her (already F cup) boobs were going to get “HUUUUUGE!”.

Back to the ultrasound.

The nurse in the ultrasound room did a really good job at making eye contact back-and-forth between both Jovelyn and I. One should assume she was talking to Jovelyn when she said “undress from the waist down and I will be right back in”, but she WAS doing a really good job at making eye contact back-and-forth between Jovelyn and I. I couldn’t help but laugh at the image of the nurse walking back into the room, in horror, to see me standing with my cock and balls out.

Jovelyn took her pants off. I kept mine on. She got into position, and the nurse came back in the room. The nurse opened some programs on the computer, lubed up some instruments, and turned the lights off. Then… things got really, really… real.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Emotionally, that is. I’m not an idiot. I know what an ultrasound consists of, and the end result. I didn’t know how I was going to react. At first, the screen just looked like grey blobs on an out-of-focus, scrambled porn channel from a 90’s television set. I never expected to have the most surreal experience. Of. My. Life.

The image came into focus, clear as day, and there he/she was, dancing and waving. Babylove Craft. Active and healthy, with the dance moves of his/her daddy. I started to well up with tears, immediately. I couldn’t take my eyes away from the screen, but I could hear Jovelyn laughing and holding back her own tears. After composing myself, I stood up and held the love of my life’s hand, while we watched our glorious creation together. We smiled at each other and marveled at what we made. It’s truly a moment I will never forget.

Babylove Craft

I finally stopped crying at this point, but then the nurse told us it was time to hear the heartbeat. The second we heard the incredibly healthy heartbeat of our incredibly healthy baby, we both started to cry all over again. It was, to date, the most emotional day of my life and that includes when Jovelyn told me she was pregnant.

The nurse printed off ultrasound photos, of Babylove waving, and left us alone for Jovelyn to get dressed. We took a few seconds to look at the screen again, and then Jovelyn started to put her pants back on. I bent down, to help with her shoes, and to kiss her stomach… Actually, that’s a lie. I bent down, and yes I did want to kiss my baby (especially after seeing the little buddy), but I had slightly more… sinister motives. Muahahaha!

What Jovelyn didn’t know is, before we left for the hospital, I slipped something into my hoodie pocket. When I bent down to kiss Babylove, I also reached into my pocket for that item. I looked up at her and showed her an engagement ring that I bought for her a few weeks prior.

I kept it simple.

“Will you marry me?”

I thought it was the perfect moment to ask, and Jovelyn had since agreed with me. She slipped the ring on, still filled with every emotion.

“Of course.” she said, with a what-are-you-stupid tone. We agreed that it was time to FINALLY get food and begin the next phase of our life together.

The Era of Engagement.


Johnny Craft is a comic book writer, who is constantly looking for new talented artists to bring his scripts to life. Johnny’s physical composition is made up of 20% ambition, 30% talent, 40% coffee, and 10% illicit drugs.

 





Posted on Leave a comment

So You Want To Be A Hero | Part One: Let’s Get Started

 

When I was six and fresh-faced I realized early the type of person I was.

All it took was a cold November day and a tyrant on the jungle gym. I was minding my own business, slamming Pogs for keepsies like any good 90’s kid when it happened. A little kindergartner screamed out as the earlier mentioned baddie tugged him down from a climbing net. I ran to the scene quickly, well it happened right behind me, so more like a quick turnaround. I didn’t hesitate as I grabbed his shoulder, turning around the greasy bully and unleashing my best Red Ranger impersonation in the form of right hand to the nose. He bled and cried. I told him to get lost or I’d pop him again. I got a weeks detention and had to Bart Simpson “I will not hit other children” a 100 times. If you’re asking if I would do it again the answer is yes. 1000 times over.



I sadly drifted from that young feisty six years old letting the cruel reality of life beat me down into a disenfranchised millennial. I no longer fought the injustices around me and I didn’t care to. It wasn’t my job. I couldn’t even find a real one. Eventually, I managed. I went to college, graduated then went back for something else. This is when it started.

That little six year old inside me (wait, that doesn’t sound right) started to nag. “Your meant to do good. Be better.” I ignored him at first but the little bastard kept at it. “Be better” he kept saying. So I did. Eventually, I finished college and started to try to be better. I got a job working an afterschool program and eventually a night job at a house as a developmental service worker (I get to sleep there, it’s the best job ever). I thought that would make him shut up. It did not.

I have a lot of free time. Not “unemployed” free time but enough to get me in serious trouble thanks to my overactive imagination and a misguided sense of purpose. I try to dull it with various substances (shhhhh, I’ll never tell) and by searching out more employment. So I turned to writing. Maybe creating something for people would help silence this stupid kid.

For a second it did but he’s a persistent little shit. “Be better”. He wouldn’t shut up. So I asked him. Well by that I mean I had a conversation with myself posing as my younger self. It went like this.

“Be better”
“You keep saying that you little punk.”
“Then do it.”
“I’m a good person! What do you want from me.”
“Yea you’re good, but the only thing worse than bad guys are good guys who just stand around while the bad stuff happens.”
“You’re a kid version of me. How are you this smart!?”

He left me to ponder his Obi-Wan like wisdom. I sat there, racking my brain. Eventually, I came to the only conclusion that made sense.

I’d become a superhero.

The first? The last? I have no idea but it got him to shut up. I was going make six-year-old me proud. I was going be the greatest hero this world has ever seen. Wait, I’m an out of shape twenty-eight-year-old with no combat training and the tech resources of a 3rd world nation. I’m doing what now?

So here we are. Your reading this and I’m probably in my basement doing push-ups and punching the wooden support beam until my knuckles bleed. Actually, I’m playing Sea of Thieves but it just came out. Get off my back. I have a long way to go but I’m ready.

So where do we start?

I need a name, a gimmick, maybe some sort of animal sidekick? Do I team up? Where do I go if I only want to tackle world ending events on a cosmic scale or does everyone start punching bad guys for stolen purses? All great questions I’m going to have to figure out on my way to becoming a great hero. I’m finally ready for this, are you?

(I’m going die in a dungy crack house aren’t I? At least six-year-old me will be proud… right?)


Be sure to Like, Subscribe, share and join us next time for- “Who the hell am I? Picking my alter ego.”


By Dan Ball

Dan is Canadian writer whose series, MISTER CROWLEY, is currently in production with Inbeon Studios. In Dan’s other life he has worked an after-school program for the last five years and nights as a developmental service worker.






 

Posted on Leave a comment

Daddy’s Issues – Chapter 2: The Pregnancy Gauntlet

 

Welcome to the blog series; Daddy’s Issues, from Indie comic creator, Johnny Craft.  Come along chapter by chapter as this comic book writer explores the journey of expecting his first child and all the emotions and creative challenges that come along with it. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny

Daddy’s Issues – Chapter 2: The Pregnancy Gauntlet

After my appearance on the solidly entertaining ComixCentral Podcast, the idea was tossed around that I would host a Youtube show for them called “The Gauntlet”. It’s meant to be a “brutally honest” review show, for the books featured on ComixCentral, and I was to review them in the style I see fit. I was initially, very, very excited to take part in this project, though not thrilled with the idea of potential bridges that I may burn as a result. I had every intention of producing “The Gauntlet” regularly and hit releases like clockwork. I am normally very good at consistency, work rate, and hitting deadlines. Ever since my lovely Jovelyn Jade got pregnant, though, I have not had much time to be creative on any sort of consistent basis. It is one downside that I am realizing exists in the life of a creative person, who is expecting their first child.

I have the format for “The Gauntlet” set, pretty solidly, I just can’t seem to find the time to record my first episode. With any luck, now that we are into the second trimester, Jovelyn and I will be able to work together to find a nice balance, where I can remain creative but still be there for her in every way she needs me. The format for “The Gauntlet”, however, is intended to be split into four small segments: What is it? Why is it great? Why does it suck? Should you buy it? Since I can’t get around to recording my first episode of the ComixCentral Indie Comics Gauntlet, I thought I would devote this entry into mixing the two major things in my life right now: my life as a creator, and the anticipation of my future family. For your reading pleasure, here is The Pregnancy Gauntlet.



What is it?

The woman of my dreams, and I, are 12 weeks into expecting our first child. We go for our first ultrasound this week, where we get to see Babylove Craft (working title) for the very first time! Both of us are still learning and adjusting to our new circumstances, and things could be coming along a little smoother in that department, but all things considered, I think we are doing very well. I love Jovelyn and I love this baby, more than I ever thought I could love anyone or anything. We are having a baby and it’s going to be my greatest creation yet!

Why is it great?

What could be greater than falling in love with someone you have known for a very long time, whose personality is eerily similar to yours, who is stunningly gorgeous, and then reproducing with that person? What better scenario is there, for having a family? I have been in serious relationships, in the past, with a few different women. Women that I’ve told “I love you” to and actually thought that I meant it. However, since Jovelyn came into the picture, I realized that I have never actually been in love before her. I promise to devote an entire entry to this blog, talking exclusively about Jovelyn and I, but for now, the important information is simple. I am madly in love with this woman and if I’m having a baby with anyone, I couldn’t so much as dream of a better candidate than my lovely Jovelyn Jade Ross.

Why does it suck?

Okay… So… I should be really careful how I answer this question, right? I mean, the word “suck” should be danced around very carefully, in this context. Hormones are running wild and I don’t want Jovelyn to read this and stab me in my sleep. To start, the one thing that most definitely DOES SUCK about expecting your first child is the treatment you receive from those you interact with on a regular basis. I’ve gotten everything from people I haven’t spoken to since I was 12, contact me on social media to ask overly personal questions, to some even thinking I’ve been lying about the entire pregnancy as a way to promote my comic “SuperLove”, that I wrote as a direct inspiration from this situation! It’s very strange how involved people are becoming in my life, suddenly, and how invested they are in a child they will probably never meet.

I’ve also noticed that certain people in my life are treating me like suddenly I’ve just now become an adult. I’m 32 years old. I’ve traveled across the country and various places overseas. I’ve kicked an alcohol and semi-serious drug problem, without even a remote desire to return to that lifestyle. I’ve supported myself for a very long time, and I’ve never had to do anything desperate just to feed myself, or pay my bills. I feel like I’ve had a fairly solid adult experience, up until this point. Babylove is just the next chapter.

As far as the actual pregnancy itself… I would never say it “sucks”. I understand there are adjustments that I need to make, Jovelyn needs to make, and there will be emotional side effects on both ends. I will say, again it does not “suck”, but I certainly don’t find it… enjoyable, when I get made to feel like a total dickhead for certain things. I have a full-time job, a part-time job, and I freelance, so most of my free time needs to be devoted to someone else, in some capacity. With the hormones running high, Jovelyn tends to go for the jugular or drown me with sarcasm and mockery, when she feels like I’m not devoting enough time to her. I understand where she is coming from, and I do feel like I’m punching well above my weight class in the fatherhood department already, so those jabs certainly make me feel like shit.



A lot of my frustrations are self-imposed, and I do forget that from time to time. I chose the life of a comic book writer, and I also have an important management position for a family-owned business. I understand that my time is precious/limited/valued. I also understand that there are plenty of guys that look at pregnancy as a woman’s problem, and a lot of dudes take that selfish road and make their lady deal with most of the stress solo. That was never an option for me, though. I make it a point to go above and beyond, to try to take as much stress off the mother of my child, as humanly possible. My time NEEDS to be devoted to making sure Jovelyn and Babylove are healthy, first and foremost.

Unsolicited advice, hormonal wrath, and physical/mental exhaustion all certainly suck, but the pregnancy itself absolutely does not. Things seem to be going well for us, so far.

Should you buy it?

I think the best way to interpret this question in the context of this blog, would be to translate it to “Would I go back and change this if I could?”. If given the chance to stop Babylove from ever being conceived on that (none of your business) filled night, would I do it? Would I go back to having the freedom and extra money that I used to have, just mere months ago? Would I trade this whole thing, and what could be, for the opportunity to continue living the life of a creative savage with no one to let down?

Hell-tothe-mother– fuckin’ NO! I love this woman! I love this baby! I wouldn’t change a thing, for a thing!


 I’m Johnny from ComixCentral and this has been The Pregnancy Gauntlet. Be sure to Like, Subscribe, share and join us next time, when another trimester throws down… The Pregnancy Gauntlet!


 





 

Posted on Leave a comment

Daddy’s Issues – Chapter 1: Hit by a Bomb

 

Welcome to a new blog series from Indie comic creator, Johnny Craft.  Come along chapter by chapter as this comic book writer explores the journey of expecting his first child and all the emotions and creative challenges that come along with it. 


Daddy’s Issues – Chapter 1: Hit by a Bomb

It was Friday, January 5th. I was at work, sorting out my own plans for the evening, in my head. I knew I was going to be on my own that night, so I needed to do something to keep my brain busy. I could continue working on my comic book script for “SuperLove”, maybe trim down the stack of “to-read” comics that have been piling up for months, watch “Punisher” on Netflix finally, or maybe just actually get around to playing the X-Box One that I bought months ago. Either way, none of my potential plans included… THIS.

Jovelyn sent me a text at work, around 1 pm. I knew she had other things to do for the night, so I actually anticipated NOT seeing my lovely girlfriend until Sunday. The text exchange was as follows:

Jovelyn: “I lied. I do want to see you tonight. If that’s okay. If you have plans then that’s okay! :)”
Me: “I would love to see you tonight. It’s more than okay. :)”
Jovelyn: “It’s been pretty fucked up today.”
Me: “I can’t wait to hear all about it.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just assumed I was going to hear a really entertaining “Can you believe this mother fucker at work?” story. I certainly didn’t expect… THIS.

I took off work early and got home a few hours before Jovelyn got off of work. Had I known the subject of the conversation we were about to have, I probably would have avoided smoking a blunt that I filled with so much weed, it looked like Swamp Thing fucked a cinnamon stick.

She let herself in, as I was in the kitchen making coffee. My apartment layout is such, that I was able to just pivot my body and greet her as she walked into my front door. She looked scared.
“Hey, gorgeous,” I said. “Is everything okay?”

I could tell she was freaking out, with an almost-panic-attack tone in her voice. We walked into the living room together, where Jovelyn dropped to her knees, directly in front of my couch. She looked up at me with her big, beautiful, eyes and I could sense the concern in them. Sadly, (or maybe not “sadly”) the first thing I noticed was how amazing she looked and how much Jovelyn Jade lights up my heart whenever I look at her. She was in a sort of “Slave Leia” position on the floor, looking totally stunning.

“Sooooo….” She said, snapping me out of my love-trance.

As I started to crouch, to meet Jovelyn on the floor, she reached back into her purse to pull out a white plastic shopping bag. “I’m pretty sure this means that I am,” she said.

The white plastic shopping bag was turned over, and spilling at my feet, right in the middle of my living room… was a bagful of positive pregnancy tests. (More on the relationship between Jovelyn and I, in a later chapter.)

The point is, I was just informed that I had put a child inside of the one woman in my life who has always been there for me, always made a point to make me happy, and fuel my confidence as a worthwhile human being. I knew I had to stay strong for her, find the perfect thing to say, and help make this situation easier to digest for her. So, naturally, me being the supremely strong and ever-confident manliest of men that I am… I froze like a bitch.

“Okay…. Uh…. Okay…. Okay. This…. Um… Okay,” probably stumbled it’s way out of my mouth for a solid minute and a half.

Usually, I’m not such a (in the words of Joe Pesci) stutterin’, mutterin’, prick. Even when I just inhaled a healthy dose of smoke from Swamp Thing’s dick, I can still keep my thoughts composed, rationally. It took me a bit to gain my composure and I finally turned to Jovelyn, looked her directly in her concerned eyes and told her honestly… “I don’t know what to say”.

I felt like a total asshole for those few seconds. Literally, like a complete waste of human life. Here I am, enduring the most pivotal moment in any person’s life, with the woman of my dreams looking to me for answers… and I had none. I couldn’t even form words, how could I raise a child?



“Just be completely honest with me,” Jovelyn said.

It took, maybe, two more seconds of silence and self-loathing, but her question snapped me out of it in a big way. I didn’t even need to think anymore. I looked at her with confidence and clarity and told her for the very first time in all the 17 years that I’ve known Jovelyn Jade Ross- “I love you. I know that. I have known that, and there is no doubt in my mind.”

I wasn’t nervous or questioning anything coming out of my mouth. I was giving her the 100% honesty that she wanted, and it felt amazing to finally say it.

“No one understands me like you, and I’ve never understood anyone like I understand you. You are the greatest person I have ever met in my life, and if the decision were up to me… I would certainly want you to keep it. I wouldn’t want to go through this with anyone, other than you, and if anyone can pull this off it’s going to be us. I love you, Jovelyn Jade. I won’t screw this up.”

She took a deep breath. Smiled. Still looked scared shitless, in her amazing eyes. Still stunning.
“I love you, too,” she said. “I definitely love you. I am really glad you said that because I feel the same way. I want to go on this adventure with you.”

It seemed like we got over the first wave of radiation from the Pregnancy Nuke that was just dropped on us. We kissed, cuddled, cried, talked, and joked for another several minutes. I could still tell something was bothering the love of my life, though. I had a feeling I knew what it was, too.

“You know,” I said. “We both know a lot of really dumb mother fuckers that have kids. Look at all the stupid people in Wal-Mart that have like five of them, and those kids survive! Some of them turn out to be really successful in life, despite being raised by complete fucking idiots. If those morons can raise multiple children, we can surely handle one, right?”

She smiled and I continued.

“I’m willing to take every step with you. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m not going to be like some Seth Rogan in Knocked Up kind of character. I know my life is going to change and I know you’re going to deal with a lot of stuff that I won’t be able to understand, but I’m going to learn and I’m going to do everything I can to be there for you in every possible way. You tell me what you need, or what I need to do, and I will do it. You are not alone in this, at all. I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.”

I heard a sigh of relief.

“I am so glad you’re not a fucking idiot,” she said, happily. “You are saying all the right things, and thank you for that. You’re making me feel so much better.”
“I’m just doing what you told me to do,” I said. “I’m being honest with you. I’m not saying what I think is the right thing to say. I’m saying what I want to say and telling you how I feel. This is going to be great for us.”
She told me I would be a great father. I congratulated her and told her she would be a great mother. We are going to be incredible parents.

Jovelyn looked into my eyes, lovingly, smiling her amazing smile, and put the most “Jovelyn” cap on our positive-pregnancy-test drama.

“Now, order us a pizza, Daddy. I’m eating for two, now.”


By Johnny Craft

 





Posted on 1 Comment

RAGS: Not just another pair of pants

 

Hey everyone! I’m Brian the writer and Co-Creator of RAGS. I have been asked to share my journey from drunken idea to self-publishing our first issue.


The back back way back story:

For those that didn’t know, RAGS has taken almost 3 years from drunken funny concept to release. And like most stories, this wasn’t easy.

A short history of me, I’ve been writing since I was in the fifth grade. Most of my influences were from Japanese animation very early on. Around 1989 my father took a trip to Japan and returned with some Super Nintendo games that perked my interest in everything ANIME. By the time I had reached middle school I had completely watched, on VHS, every episode of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z so when the series finally hit U.S shores, I was ahead of the curve. The importance of this is that I was very heavily inspired by the works of Akira Toriyama. More specifically, his puns. If you pay close attention to his work, you will see that nearly every character he’s created has had some sort of pun-based naming convention. As I inspired myself to write, I attempted to adopt these traits. Early on it did not work out so well, but when you’re a kid everything you do is great right?

Flash forward after graduating High School and 9/11 happens. Being the full bloodied patriot that I am, I rushed to raise my right hand to join up and participate in the war on terror. During my time in the Army, I would continue to write but nothing ever really stuck. I had fans of my writing in my unit, but I was neither fully impressed with my own finished work or I felt I had become too ambitious with the projects I wanted to complete. I attempted to self-publish a full-length novel in 2005, only to find I had been scammed by a Vanity Press and coupled with a few other incidents which we’ll skip, simply stopped writing for a number of years.



Beer, Zombies and a nude mod

On a night that was a-typical of any other night. Trent and I were having a nice fun drunken night of playing Left 4 Dead 2 and attempting to defeat a Map called Yama. This was a difficult map to beat, and on to this day, we have been very unsuccessful at completing it. Anyway, I was using a mod titled: Ravaged Zoey. This mod left one of the female characters in a certain state of undress and to his credit, Trent called me out for utilizing the mod in order to…um…enhance my gameplay. Notably, poor Zoey was left without pants. Trent demanded that I explain myself and, very drunkenly mind you, I came up with an elaborate story about how Zoey was only with the other group of survivors to find clothes and the entire campaign was her quest to locate a comfortable pair of pants. I laughed. Trent laughed. The toaster laughed. I shot the toaster. It was a good time.A few months later I had finally caught the writing bug again and yet, I could not figure out WHAT exactly it was that I should write. So as what most people do in the social media age because it’s the cool thing to do, I decided to let Facebook decide my path for me. I put out a list of old stories I could revisit and possibly give new life to some old characters. Just as the votes were coming in, Trent sent me a message:

Dude! Write a story about that chick looking for pants!

Could I? The concept was stupid, but it was funny. Well at least to us. But after a moment of contemplation, I decided: This is so stupid it just might work!!

rags_comixcentral_blog

Not long after Trent and I began brainstorming. Originally envisioned as an extremely short story the beta version of RAGS started out with an unnamed female protagonist arriving at a Wal-Mart style store, without pants and fully armed to the teeth, but of course minus the pants. She would lose them constantly as she met other survivors or zombies. Always coming out on top, but always bottomless… That had been mulled around a bit but eventually tossed on the floor due to being unable to flesh out the main character, or having a good reason why the loss of pants as a justifiable occurrence. Later, we came up with a working rough draft but decided that instead of novelizing our idea, it would be much more fun if we wrote it as a movie script.

I had never written movie scripts before, and so I went to see the one friend I knew that had. Balam, or Luis as he’s better known as has written many wonderful scripts for movies that will possibly never get made (quite unfortunate but that’s life eh?). I asked him to show how he went about putting his scripts together and after a couple hours of tutelage, I eventually got the hang of things.

Two six packs and three days later I had written the first draft of RAGS: A Zombie Shopping Spree. It was designed to be its own self-contained silly one-shot, however as we shared it around our small network of friends we kept noticing that while initially disgusted with our beginning, people generally enjoyed the story elements and humor overall. Though while the entire concept was outright dumb, they did thoroughly enjoy the journey from beginning to end. Embers underneath the fire if you will.

Next thing we did was shop the story around FB Author groups. This is where we hit out first major roadblock. Immediately the script we share was derided as sexist, misogynistic, and disgustingly vulgar. Just to name a few of the many praises lauded onto us. Our responses got us removed from group after group, until we settled into another group titled Fiction Writing. There we actually met a few authors who saw the gem hidden in the coals of our script and agreed to help us polish things. Eventually, we were kicked out of this group as well. Cie Le Vie.

Regina Ragowski: The mama Leopard

One of the main issues that plagued us, in the beginning, was that our protagonist initially didn’t have a name, personality and they lacked any real depth. We were at a loss as to what to do as we thought our current script was perfect. Nameless heroine on a quest for pants, small town mall, Jill’s Sandwiches, puns galore what was not to love? After some collaboration, we eventually decided to do what any other sane person would do, and dropped the entire thing the trash and start over again. To add depth to the character that we needed, we realized that we needed a character with a name. A name that would kinda stick. So Trent and I got drunk again and went back to L4D2 to brainstorm. Ya know. Science. It was there, as when we’re doing our best to sabotage each other’s efforts at survival that Trent had the epiphany: Dude, we should name her Regina Ragamuffin. To which I responded: Nah man, Ragowski! Like the Big Lebowski but Ragowski!

Needless to say, we think we nailed it there.

Secondly, we needed a personality type. A realistic one. Not a Mary-Sue or a typical tsundere anime girl. We needed legit real personalities to humanize and create a character that you could root for, despite their flaws. While pondering how I should go about this Liz Finnegan had tweeted out: “Get your heads out of your dickholes you WHORE REFS!”

Yeah. It was right then and there I was sold. SOOOO SOLD!

At the time too, I decided to reach out to some female battle buddies of mine from the ARMY to interview them about their input on their unique life experiences and things they had to deal with during their time in the Military. Combining all these things with our character, Regina, finally being given a name, a history and a personality that appropriately matched, all she needed was a face….

Making a Baby:

Movie treatment in hand, polished (4th or 9th time) and ready to rock we came to the conclusion that it was time to start pitching to Netflix and Amazon. Well long story short, we were rejected. Flat out. It seemed as the studio heads there didn’t believe in the subtle nuance a story about a naked woman and her quest for pants could tell and at the same time entertain an audience that wasn’t a bunch of pervs. In that moment of double rejection, we then decided: Fuck it, we’ll make it a comic!

Not knowing how to write comics scripts was another HUGE roadblock. But we took the time to read books on how to write the MARVEL way, studied how IMAGE and DC writers handled their scripts and said: Fuck that noise!

Eventually, we found a style that suited our needs and got right to work. We placed feelers out into the net and reached out to multiple artists before we got our first hit. Recommended to us by a mutual online friend who does short comic work, this artist we reached out to gave us the first real rendition of Regina.

This was great, however, the script and description we gave to them involved a tattoo to be placed on Regina’s left leg. The artist took it upon themselves to change the placement of the tattoos and at first, we were upset…

…however the look ended up growing on us so we just went with it. This same artist was also commissioned to complete 5 pages in a timely manner, however, they went radio silent for long periods of time. So, while they were silent we searched for a second artist that would be able to meet our needs and not just vanish. While we did enjoy their work, the inability to effectively collaborate and the long periods of silence eventually forced us to find another partner.

The second artist we reached out too, this time working with our third drafted script, promised to deliver pages and work on time. However, he quickly showed to us that he did not have the same passion as Trent and I had for our story and script. We fired this artist, and surprisingly they begged for a second chance. We gave it to them, however, they still failed to meet simple deadlines. 6 pages of inks took 6 months or more to receive. And knowing that we would be attempting more pages in a shorter period of time, we found this completely unacceptable and fired this person again. We never got our money or our time back.

All of this would lead us to Sasha. I had worked her before on some small things. And wanted to give her a shot at RAGS. We had the rapport. I knew her work ethic. I wanted to take a chance. So I commissioned a Regina concept from her and it turned out wonderful! Unfortunately, due to personal reasons Sasha had to focus on other things and wasn’t available to work with us. At this time, we honestly were deciding what we should do. We’d already poured in the money to artists. Set up the webpage, domain, set up the Facebook group, the Reddit page. I had just finished setting up our Patreon and T-shirt/ Merchandise store to hopefully help crowdfund our project, but I was curious as to what I could do to get this thing out of the water when there were already multiple gaping holes in our boat. We were lost and dejected and honestly felt as though we had given it a good attempt. To cut our losses and at least be proud that we tried to do something fun while most people would sit back and complain about things.

Hail Mary, or rather Hail Liz!

So as everyone knows by now, that we based Regina around Liz Finnegan’s football tweets and her face. This was initially supposed to be just another one of the many Easter eggs I had planned. As a nod to those that knew and an ‘oh that’s cool’ to those that didn’t. Well, I didn’t have official permission, so with the house around us seemingly burning down at a high rate, I decided to reach out to Liz and inform her of our intentions. The thought was if she said yes, then we’d continue. But a No would let us know that this project wasn’t meant to come to life and to move back to doing other things. I honestly did not believe I would get a response, or rather I didn’t expect to receive such a positive one from her. She enjoyed it. She was a fan. We had a reason to make this shit happen. I passed her blessing onto Trent and we felt renewed. And as if karma was rewarding us for our perseverance that’s also when we found Luigi.

Separately from this RAGS project, I had been working on something of a MARVEL Fan comic. Again, testing the waters and teaching myself the ins and outs and nuances of things of making comics just for knowledge’s sake. I had commissioned an artist, who I felt scammed me out of a potentially fun project and a beaucoup amount of money. As the animosity between us grew Luigi eventually stepped in and finished the work all the while remaining professional the entire time. Even with my demands for compensation being delivered in a cruel manner (I’m really an asshole in real life.), Luigi maintained complete utter professionalism and delivered to me this: Regina-Chan 2.0 as we called it. Everything about it was perfect. The onesie. The eyes. The freckles. The trigger discipline. It was at this time as we were completing my other side project, that I decided to throw another hail mary and put the offer out. If our previous interactions had been contentious I had doubts that he would accept anything additional that I would request.

But.
He.
Did.

Back on track and ready to rock, I felt the need to go back and hand Luigi a script that was worthy of his talents. This script was the first half of issue #1 that Trent and I agreed would be a good test to see how Luigi worked and see if he was a good fit for future works.

Well, needless to say, that what he sent in to us next made our jaws drop. It was at this point. This moment we knew. We immediately went all in and gave Luigi an open deadline to get things done. It was tough, there was a bunch of back and forth and loads of frustration. To this day I still think somewhere he rolls his eyes whenever he sees my email populate in his inbox. But good lord. Without Luigi, RAGS would probably still just be some pipe dream between two drunk guys and a nude mod.

The lesson here to take home is that if you believe in a project, no matter how silly or dumb it may seem. No matter what comments or putdowns that others who don’t know the intricacies of your work. You should just F.I.D.O:

Fuck It.Drive On.

Sure, we will probably never see a full return on the hours and money we’ve spent. But at the end of the day, Trent, Luigi and I will bring to the world our baby. A story about a something near and dear to me, PTSD and overcoming self-guilt. We’re bringing Trent’s great plots, outlines, and story concepts to life in a meaningful way. And hopefully, we’re bringing forward into the spotlight, the amazing talents of a man who deserves to be the lead of animation company. Even if this isn’t a success, it will be all be worth it, because, at the beginning of all this, I did get to meet the amazing person that inspired us and drove us to move onward despite the hurdles and setbacks. And with that, my bucket list is complete.

Liz Finnegan and Brian circa 2018

Written by Brian Ball

 






 

Posted on 1 Comment

The Ultimate Bromance: Craft Beer and Indie Comics

blog craft comics

How’s it hanging, my handheld hero hooligans? Today, I want to shoot the shiz about a secret bromance between locally brewed liquid courage and indie-pendent ink architects.

It’s been a well-hidden rain-bro connection since the days of the great depression, but still, you might be surprised by the twin territory hidden inside the idealism of craft beer and craft comics. Chances are, if you have the passion for one, you’ll find a love for the other. As long as you weren’t hung over during statistics class, you might remember that correlation doesn’t equal causation; try our Comix Central comparison on for size, and see if it fits. Let’s take a swig of appreciation for art and alcohol as we dare to get drunk on the similar ways both these passion projects have dared to be different.

Here are 5 “pairings” of craft beer and indie comic creativity:

1. The Boiling Process

Like any creation, both indie comics and home brew have a basic formula. However, like the code in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, the “formulae” that apply to both are “more what you call guidelines than actual rules.”

Each craft begins with certain basics. If you’re going to brew your own beer, you start by heating up water in a pot. You then put your choice of grains in a grain bag, tie it off, and let it steep. The idea behind an indie comic isn’t too far off. The thoughts burning in your head usually stew around a theme or a character. Metaphorically speaking (you know how I love those), you might consider this the basic boiling process of indie comics. The grains in a brew represent the character in a story. As these preconceived conjurings sink deeper and deeper into your mind, it’s natural for the ideas to expand beyond basic tropes and become unique. Ideas are really the catalysts in chemical reactions themselves, so you can’t allow yourself the luxury of genuine creativity unless the expansion happens first.

It’s a step-by-step magic trick, and both passions require patience. Eventually, you’ll get the combustion you need to launch the idea into a full fledged reality all your own.



2. Home Away from Home

This is really the love-meets-marriage moment for our creative couple here. Any master craftsman knows we live in an impersonal, desperate-for-banter-outside-of-“how was work” conversation. Once you get beyond the basic formula of homebrew and indie comics, you wander into the realm of personal taste. The variety of locally brewed brilliance is half the reason it’s become more of “a thing” among millennials in particular.

Indie comics possess the same flavors of what I like to call “odd familiarity.” It’s hint of something different sugared beneath a layer of comfort. Allow me to “Pavlov” the situation a bit further, and you’ll see what I mean.

The best-of-the-best uncommercialized lager whets any well-traveled man’s palate with a sense of home while at the same time taking his taste buds somewhere he’s never been. That’s a much different “feeling” than drinking, say, Milwaukee’s Best, called “The Beast” in my dorm-room days. It was five bucks for a 24-pack of sewer-rain sadness. It was also the first time I learned that just because something makes money, doesn’t mean it’s good.

Similarly, indie comics are basically invitations that allow you to be a stranger in a strange land with ease.

The basic formula is designed to intoxicate you, but the really good ones will make you wonder how you got drunk in the first place. What was it about THIS particular story that did it. Commercial drinks and commercial stories are safety blankets that trick you into talk of things seen and done before. Indie comics and local brews, on the other hand, are interesting enough on their own. You don’t need to con your mind into the conversation when you’ve got something interesting to talk about right off the bat.

3. Quality and Quantity

A lot of commercial businesses are built on quality OR quantity. Think about it for a moment. McDonald’s is a quantity company. They make cheap stuff that’s “good enough” to eventually kill people. Hopdoddy’s Burger Bar, on the other hand, uses a breed of Japanese Wagyu cattle known as Akaushi. They were brought over and bred in Texas while being protected by rangers and watched over meticulously for years. They were fed all-natural, high-quality food and treated without any chemicals or hormones. Now Hopdoddy’s is one of the top burger joints in the country and the world. Clearly, these guys are a Quality company. It’s not about high-volume manufacturing; it’s about the wow factor.

Here’s the thing, independent passions worthy of growth have no choice but to “ferment” over time. In turn, they develop an underground culture of fanatics who pride themselves on individual precision and a language of camaraderie that can get lost in the noise of commercialized endeavors. It’s sort of like smartphone zombies versus people that still have the courage to meet face-to-face. There’s a time and place for either, but independent language is something that existed before technology. A lot of corporate entities struggle with evolution. Marvel and DC are often trapped in superhero land when we now know that comics can thrive in any manner of themes and viewpoints. Budweiser seems stuck in the original idea of “the American Dream.” They exist more as a brand and less of a beer. Wicked Weed Brewing out of Asheville, NC, focuses on pushing boundaries with ingredients and recipes. Evolution is even a part of their website branding. For the record, I wrote the evolving part before I checked the Wicked Weed Brewing Company website. The beers themselves have names as alluring as their spectrum of taste. In comparison, commercialized beer just seems lazy. Craft beer and indie comics both thrive on evolution. The bottom line isn’t really quantity, and quality really depends on the individual. Collectively speaking, the goal for both practices is creativity. As a result, you get the best of both worlds, truly something savory to swallow over and over again.

4. Small Soldier Syndrome

How can you have something that’s both wildly out of control and extraordinarily specific? That’s a good question, but somehow craft beer and indie comics both pull it off. They are small soldiers in a war against the temper tantrums of the typical. Carefully created homebrew and hidden-gem comics hang out on the same dirty front lines taking heat for the same obsession. The minds and the tastebuds of the creators are bored beyond a simple trip to Beers ‘R’ Us or Marvel Unlimited. Honestly, thank goodness for boredom. It’s the light that burns on the end of our match made in heaven, and it’s the only thing that really creates artistic change without the onset of instant inspiration. Good relationships have common gravity, and our two warrior hobbies are drawn to each other because they both have to be interesting in order to survive. Indie comics can’t rely on brand alone because brands take a long time to build. Craft beer began popping up because somebody was like, “This stuff tastes like piss,” and someone else was like, “Yeah, I don’t like the taste either, even if it is sterile.”

Frustration can be tremendously effective gunpowder against the mundane canons of mediocrity.

Plus, both indie comics and indie alcohol are basically awkwardly marching to the same freedom song. Both visionaries are sick of the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality. I’m all for positivity, but it turns out that when the struggle is real, people are much more likely to come together. That’s why all good stories have problems. Drink up, friends; we’re closer than you think.

5. An Audience on the Edge

Indie comics and local brew attract the same kinds of people. Commercial audiences expect safety; our audience expects the unexpected. Commercial audiences trust a brand; our audience trusts the moment. Allow me to elaborate.

If you order a Corona with lime, there’s an expectation that you will be transported (however briefly) away from your problems and thrust onto a beach either alone or with someone who’s not your other half in real life. It’s comfortable, but also depressing. It’s also an expectation that your brain creates before you’ve even had your first sip. Therefore, when the reality doesn’t come true, you wind up disappointed.

Local brew doesn’t have the same side effect. Your mind has to create a reality around the flavor after the first cool sip hits your lips. You have to search for the various delicacies within the drink in order to discover “where you are.” That’s something that takes time. It forces you to be present and actually enjoy every drop.

In the same way, indie-comic enjoyment comes from the turn of the page. You can’t rely on heroes you’re too familiar with, so you have to lean on something you don’t see coming. It’s a little scary, but always worth the thrill. Even if you weren’t wowed, at least your eyes had to linger on the page before you made the decision. Today’s common heroes don’t require an in-depth look, so it’s easier to miss the beautiful devil in the details. For example, if you pick up a Batman comic, you expect the arc to be dark. If you pick up a Deadpool comic, you expect sarcasm. Pick up an indie comic like Errants and you expect… uh…. Post….apocalyptic….. Steampunk…. Wrench…fighting…with ghost-like stuff??? You don’t have to like what I just described, but you should at least have the guts to admit it’s interesting. All of that was strictly based on the cover. Imagine what will happen when you look inside!

Good or bad– interesting always wins.

All things said and done, we’ve really just seen the tip of the iceberg. There’s a need for familiarity that will sustain commercial art and creativity, but these familiar things will only make us ask questions to which we already know the answers. If you already know where you’re going, then are you really taking a trip worth your time? Possibly, but it’s your call. I don’t always like knowing how things are going to end, right-side-up or upside-down. I’m not sure I always like knowing where I’m headed, even if the end result is so foreign it forces me to change. Sometimes it’s good to trust that a certain feeling is going to come up and visit like an old friend, and other times it’s good to see what feelings rise up from an unknown experience. You don’t have to be a thrill-seeker to appreciate new things. You just have to be willing to exist beyond where you are. That’s really what it means to live in the first place. Whether indie comics or indie brew is anyone’s cup of firewater tea, everyone should have the backbone to admit that they are both aliens brave enough to come to earth for the sake of elevating our species beyond what is known and understood.

Cheers to you, indie-pendent pourers of passion. We salute you. Buy indie comics. Buy indie brew. Read like the wind, and please drink responsibly.





 

Posted on Leave a comment

Thank You, Mr. Batman Sir: A Tribute to Adam West

adam west batman

Dear Mr. West,

We never met personally, and, assuming you’re flying way beyond the skies of Gotham at this point, my typical nerd channeling doesn’t feel like much of a superpower right now. I sense it a waste of time to simply “tell the world who you were.” I’m pretty sure most of the internet knows that already. I can only speak of who you were to me.

The year is 1992. It’s an awfully beautiful rainy evening in late December, and my cousin is draped over a velvety red couch.

There’s an untouched bowl of perfectly-poured multigrain Cheerios on a perfectly-set glass coffee table. Even though I have no idea what “relationship” really means at this point, I can’t help but look down at the scene from the top of a winding staircase and think, “Those Cheerios look like a fashion-obsessed girlfriend who won’t accept the fact that’s it’s over between her and Kevin (my cousin). He’s clearly distracted by the glow of technicolor, and she (the Cheerios) looks delicious. I shall steal her away, and eat her so my cousin doesn’t have to choose between the pretty food bowl or the pretty show.” I feel oddly sophisticated for a 7 year-old.



I stretch my way down toward the bowl, kind of like a possessed slinky you might see in some cheesy remake of Poltergeist. Just as I’m about to relieve my cousin of his neglected General-Mills love, I’m hypnotized by… a sea of… purple… letters. It feels like a group of friendly monsters leaping out of a closet to make me laugh. They spell “POW” in all their glory. The letters fade a moment later revealing a masked man in their place. I’ve never seen him before, but we both smile as if we know each other. In that moment, he’s not so much a crime fighter as he is a youthful acrobat dancing in a custom-fit suit. Forgetting about the Cheerios, I say, “Who’s THAT!?”

My cousin leaps off the coach. My attempt at stealth had succeeded, but the Cheerios were now going swimming in the deep end of our tan living-room carpet. With a hard swallow, I think (gulp),”Well, I’ve lived a long enough life.” Despite the mess, my cousin turns and says, “That’s our friendly neighborhood Batman.”

Adam West Dancing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It was you. From the moment we connected on screen, you saved my day from the evil villainy of parental guidance. In an instant you were both my hero and my friend.

Forgive me. I only learned of your original identity, William, much later. However, I get the feeling he was the dreamer that gave Adam West life. Not unlike Bruce Wayne fueling the heart of Batman. The difference is, yours was born with a martini-mixture of emotional range that included an overdose of joyful and simplistic understanding. It was instantly universal, calm, and receptive.  

I must admit, I didn’t get to know all the criminal caricatures on our adventures together from that moment on, but my picks for most valuable villain must go to the masterminds. No offense to your boy Robin (Burt Ward), but Frank Gorshins’ Riddler was truly a wonder. He could go from mock-worthy cackle to cold, course smirk in a flash. I bet you were thrown for a loop that time he brought Charlie Chaplin back from the dead. Egghead always knowing “egg-zactly” what to do, thanks to Miss Bacon, still makes me chuckle. Come on, who didn’t appreciate the genius of Vincent Price? I also understand you spoke at Burgess Meredith’s memorial service. Tell them all I say hello if you see them. Also, if it’s not too awkward, could you get me Burgess’ autograph? You got to know him as Penguin. I can’t help but remember him as Rocky’s “Mick,” I’m afraid.

I know there’s a part of you that felt trapped in that campy role for a long while. I can’t help that you were the spirit of Batman for me and so many others. If it’s any consolation, all the fans, myself included, saw the Adam behind the mask. Thank you for the ad campaigns and public appearances. Thank you for Simon Trent and The Grey Ghost. Thank you for understanding your audience despite your frustrations. Not only did you embrace the satire of the 1960’s with a straight face, but you somehow carried that light-hearted silliness beyond the caped crusader. You used the very satire you created in order to shine a well-deserved mirror upon yourself. I know it took awhile, but heroes with layers always do. Your patience and humor-coated self acceptance is still very appreciated.

Years beyond reruns and early voice-overs, you re-appeared to me on a Cartoon Network show called Johnny Bravo.

Yet again, in perfectly parodied fashion, you and Johnny slap-sticked your way across town uncovering the classic mystery of “Mama’s Been Kidnapped.” I was trapped on the couch that summer, having endured a major leg operation. You and Johnny were the only ones who managed to make me laugh. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that show may have flipped a switch for your future magnetism, considering the episode was written by a still-unknown artist named Seth McFarlane.

One of your final reveals came in the form of Mayor Adam West, the quirky political head of Quahog.

Considering your performance on Johnny Bravo, it’s really no surprise that McFarlane would cast you in Family Guy. At that time, I had just started my new life as a college freshman at Elon University. I loved your “15 Minutes of Shame” episode debut so much that I (cough) downloaded it (cough) illegally (cough, cough). I must have watched that thing at least 30 times in my second month of school. Once again, you were welcoming all of us into an alternate universe.  You just switched out Gotham for a little town in Rhode Island. The truth is, you were the same playful acrobat who introduced himself to me at 7, you were just wearing a different suit.

I’m sorry I couldn’t be with you at the end of your time here, but I’m really grateful that you could be with me at my beginning.

You came to me at the perfect time– a time when I didn’t understand labels, a time when “nerd” was as foreign to me as brussel sprouts. You played a role that allowed kids to be children. You gave satire a new face, so we could give fantasy a chance. I know you played a lot of serious roles in your time, too, but I must confess, I’ve seen none of them. They served a purpose that was not meant for me. I know you weren’t always Batman. You’ve been a detective, a captain, a journalist, and a cowboy. You’ve been so many people that you actually turned down a life in her majesty’s secret service (insert wink here). I haven’t read your biography, but it was a wonderful joy to grow up with you. Like many in your profession, you’ve brought happiness to so many.

Shortly after I was first introduced to you in the early 90’s, my mother took me to see Batman Returns.

While I did appreciate Tim Burton’s direction and Michael Keaton’s embodiment of the DC spirit, something was missing. A man appeared on the screen that I didn’t fully recognize or understand. He wore the suit, carried the name, and saved the city, but he wasn’t my friend. I realize this new hardened hero of heavier ideals needed to happen. I was ready for him of course, but only because of you. You showed me the world of DC Comics with the kind of glee that young people dream about. You will forever be Adam West to so many, but it wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t end by saying, “Thank you, Mr. Batman Sir.” You’ve taken me back to a much more innocent time in these last few days.

It’s clear to me that without your light to guide us, we may never have truly seen the dark knight.  





Posted on Leave a comment

Diversity in Comics: Altruism, Agenda and The Real Justice League

diversity comics

Welcome, comic cretins, to another politically pulverizing adventure of tantalizing taboo and espionage. Today we spy on the ever controversial realm of internet rhetoric versus rationale and reason.

Yes, it’s time for ComixCentral and myself to put our skin in the diversity game. No need to freak. Waivers have been signed, man-boy parents have been called, and the exceptionally sensitive among our internet friends have been given a pair of imaginary ear muffs to keep them company. The only one that may die from the emotional backlash is moi. Seeing as I’m the one putting these words together, this sort of thing is expected. As a minority myself (Cerebral Palsy), I’ll do my best not to use the label as a flagship. It exists for your basic knowledge and understanding of my perspective. Anything more is an overblown tragedy. With that in mind, maybe we can all learn something a step above the DARE program in the 90’s. Now THAT was a tragedy.

All joking aside, comics became a respected medium because of the issues tackled within their pages. Much like the heroes themselves, the stories gained traction because the creators took the bravery of their creations seriously. Initially, the giants were brave enough to take the audience seriously. I may have fallin in love with these stories when I was young, but I never “felt” young while learning about the characters.


I have to give the old school credit where credit is due.

When I was introduced to Xavier’s X-Men in the early 90’s, their outcast heroics provided me with my earliest understanding of genuine servitude in the face of tyranny. I learned to stand with people who don’t hold values of acceptance as self-evident truths, despite sitting in a chair. Professor X helped with that, but a message buried under mature storytelling (especially for a 9 year old) proved even more revealing. The personal nature of each hero and the “normal” relationships they struggled to maintain gave me both courage and camaraderie to fly among my fellow nerd birds. There’s no question that comics have always provided early education when it comes to moral philosophy, so what happened? Well, more recently, David Gabriel happened. Sort of.

X-Men – Marvel Comics

If you’re engrossed in the mainstream comic world, you may have heard David Gabriel’s controversial statement regarding Marvel’s slump in sales.

It’s important to note that I’m paraphrasing here, but he essentially said he HEARD people didn’t want diversity in comics and that retailers felt it was hurting sales all together. I also need to emphasize the context of the statement. Gabriel was speaking at a major retail summit in response to a few retailers who made a blanket comment covering diversity in comics. I read various accounts and interpretations, and while David’s statements were foolish, ill-timed, and seemed to mildly reflect an ancient doctrine of Marvel’s business side, it seems the retailers themselves deserve more of a beatdown than the Marvel VP. In this scenario he seems to play the role of accidental village idiot more than anything else. There’s no doubt that David Gabriel and the retailers both deserve a serious talking to, but I’d like to look at everything more broadly before sending a few sinners to the lion’s den. Fair warning. We’re headed out of the lion’s den and into a castle of controversy.

I don’t know the retailers themselves, and I wasn’t there in the moment of madness. However, while it’s clear there may be ignorance on the surface, there’s a deeper message here. It seems to me the retailers were pointing out diversity for the sake of diversity as an issue. That’s a pie slice I actually agree with. Bring on the hate mail. Let me start by sharing what I love, and what those retailers, it seems, totally missed or forgot about. The new Black Panther comic was Marvel’s best seller for 2016. Why shouldn’t it be? Ta-Nehisi Coates is a freakin’ genius. I mean literally. Not only is he a respected political and social commentator, but he also received the widely coveted and well-deserved MacArthur genius grant. The story is as multifaceted as the mind of its writer and yet again proves that the world of comics is much more than ink on a page. There are elements of Star Wars philosophy, mob mentality, family drama, technological warfare, ancient civil discord, haunting visions of the past, and, of course, badass martial arts mayhem. I’m honestly not smart enough to keep it all together.

Black Panther – Marvel Comics

There are lots of other mainstream examples that counter the absent minded sales rep thought process. The lovely Jane Foster sliding into Thor’s spot in Marvel’s Mighty Thor doesn’t seem to ruin anyone’s day. Cindy Moon is an Asian American heroine shining a light of brilliance in the land of everyone’s favorite web crawler. DC is joining the game with Captain America in the form of Sam Wilson. His government-screw-up backstory would be a cruel give away, but I encourage you to check it out. DC also hired Gene Luen Yang to work on Superman in late 2015. While I haven’t read his take on the ever popular cape wearing Kryptonian, Gene, too, earned the MacArthur fellowship. Therefore, I expect it to be nothing less than genius, or at least something way above my pay grade. Additionally, the new Ms. Marvel, who happens to be Pakistani-American Muslim, was to be the most important comic of 2014 as designated by Marvel themselves. The writer, Sana Amanat, serves as a Young Leaders Committee board member at Seeds of Peace, not to mention volume one of this heroine tale took home the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story in 2015. I don’t know Sana personally, but I have a feeling she has her own valuable take on diversity in comics.

At this point you may be asking yourself where the issues lie.

As I hinted before, there are a couple missteps happening here. As a writer, I recognize the power of words; so when I hear someone in the comic world saying things like, “What does hiring a diverse staff have anything to do with writing diverse comics?” I start to wonder what planet they’re from. Especially if the whispers come from a really big camp.

It’s important to look at not just the words themselves, but also their source.

Image credit: Marvel Comics

Here’s my stamp on the whole thing– the problem is diversity for the sake of diversity.

I have been trying to figure out the best way to tell my own story without coming across as a lazy afterschool special. Unless the story comes first, I refuse to release any graphic novel with my name on it. If the message takes precedent, then the writers are missing the point. Diversity itself is never the cause of an issue. The problem comes in when people use it as a marketing tool instead of an opportunity for great expansive storytelling. When diversity is just thrown in, it sounds more like a social justice league than a crusader worth his/her/its weight in ink. You’ve basically got the comic book version of our dreaded DARE program.   

The giants are still relying on loyalty and safety instead of risky adventure. Before the loyalists out there eat me, they should know I’m not saying the mainstream market isn’t diverse. For reference, use the power of levitation until your eyes find the paragraph three indentations above. It’s just that, once again, the indie world is way ahead of the game. I’m not just saying that because of the website this article sits on. See for yourself.

Indie comics and the internet literally opened up the floodgates for diverse creativity in the small market because people realized THERE ARE NO GATES in the small market.

A lot of respected gurus who speak for and even work for the mainstream are actually telling people to skip the major publishers altogether because indie comics know the power of the d train. We figured it out long before everyone else. Sure, thanks to social media, there’s a flood of more voices in general. That doesn’t compare to the value of minorities getting more of a voice than ever before. I’m willing to bet that Gene Yang and Greg Pak would back me up in the matter. There are thousands of marginalized masterminds to pick from in our arena, and they’re ready to play.

“LOVE IS LOVE” IDW PUBLICATIONS

I also want to point out that controversy is a good thing, and that it strikes up very valuable conversation.

Just ask the creators of Strange Fruit. It’s a comic from Boom Studios about a superpowered alien who shows up on earth as a man of color during a darker age of the American South. While it’s yet another take on a familiar divide, it also raised questions about Caucasian creators voicing a story they will never fully understand. I commend the author’s boldness, but even more so, I commend his response to criticism. When Mark Waid came under critical fire via J. A. Michelline for his attempt, he received it with grace. It was aptly pointed out that while he meant well, it was another Black story being told through a white lens. A simple solution would be to hire creators of color on staff in order to reflect a more responsible tone of genius. Although we long to “get it,” it’s easier to accept the fact that we never quite will. Besides, if we’re speaking independently, it’s not our story to tell. The key to good storytelling is telling the truth, after all.    

In conclusion, we’re not talking about a David Gabriel problem, a Marvel problem, a DC problem, or even a comic problem.

We’re talking about a perspective problem. The truth is, there are village idiots in every industry. There’s always gonna be a schmuck who says women don’t know comics, and there’s always gonna be people like Sana Amanat who shoot laser beams of written genius at their head. There’s always gonna be some idiot who thinks Chuck Norris could crush Bruce Lee. There are people who believe individuals with disabilities only belong in affliction stories, and I’m happy to run them over with my wheelchair until they die. I’d probably get away with it anyway because no one would expect that Forrest Gump did it with a pipe in the dining room. One of the greatest advantages to being a minority are the stories themselves. It’s why we came to America in the first place. Bring us your tired, your hungry, your kickass creativity. We need your take on things for the sake of art and humanity as a whole.

The best thing we can do is forgive the mainstream giants for being slow and keep being ourselves. It’s not about a message. It’s not about complaining. It’s not about altruism. It’s not even about saving the world overnight. It’s talking about and recognizing that we have a world that’s worth saving in the first place. Legally, we can’t just kill stupid people. That’s not justice. We have to drown them out by being undeniably good. Stop plastering new faces onto old stories, and tell the world at the top of your lungs what pieces of humanity we’re missing. We don’t own big buildings, and we don’t have a legacy. We don’t have the luxury of laziness and stupid crossover stories. I can’t take another Civil War, real or fiction for that matter.

Let me end things by again pointing out my own hypocrisy.

Complaining does nothing. There’s a difference between angry internet ranting and constructive conversation. We’re talking, and that’s a beautiful thing.

But how do we win the game? We win by ACTUALLY BUYING COMICS.

You can’t just talk about the indie stories you love. You’ve got to purchase them. We are dealing with an industry here, and money talks. Numbers matter. You can champion someone or something with words until you’re blue in the face, but until you give away the green you’re just another voice in the crowd. We must have the courage to LISTEN to the people around us. I’ve done the best I can to keep assumption out of the equation while still telling my side of things with a sense of passion and purpose. I am still human, though. I’m not Dr. Strange or Superman. I can’t be everywhere. Now is a better time than any to come together on this topic. A lot of people forget that Jewish immigrants who needed a voice were the architects of Superman. It’s not about altruism, and it’s not about agenda. It all comes down to trust and (yes I’m saying this over and over again) good storytelling! Placing blame on an industry doesn’t change an industry, but there’s nothing wrong with shining the bat signal on a business-driven Gotham that’s shifting a bit too slowly for my speed. Honest hardship drawn from experience makes heroes worth fighting for. That’s where real change happens. That’s how we get liberty and justice… for all.





 

Posted on Leave a comment

The Voice of Kryptonite: Top Ten Reasons Indie Comics will Conquer Superman

10 reasons indie comics

Good evening, purveyors of powerful paraphernalia, and welcome to a new edition of indie comic exploration.

Let me begin by apologizing. I know that Facebook fever has you sick with Top Ten-donitis. No, I’m not funny, but I am compassionate toward millennial attention spans and the fact that we’re losing to goldfish. So while we’re trapped in this electric desert whirlwind of media madness, we may as well get to it.

Here are my top 10 reasons you NEED to roll the dice in the game of indie comics. Don’t worry. I promise no more Monopoly metaphors.




#10. An Aardvark Said So!

That’s right. An aardvark. It is with great honor and respect that I insist we bow our heads to yet another amazing Canadian. No, he’s not an aardvark, but he is brilliant. His name is David Sims. He created the very first technically successful indie comic in 1977. Now I love that date for 3 reasons: Star Wars, Cerebus the Aardvark, and the year my girlfriend came into existence. Seriously! This dude was a mastermind behind breaking every rule in the comic universe. What started out as roughly a parody of Conan the Barbarian would go on to tackle serious territory where other comics didn’t have the matza to really tread at the time. The art style changed. The page layout was sometimes randomized. The topics were literally whatever David wanted. It survived the bellowing battalions that were DC and Marvel because it was so unique, so well drawn, and so well crafted that people literally HAD to read it. If I may be so bold to say– it is the first indie comic that was truly undeniable. Dave even said up front that the character was going to die after 300 issues and people STILL went for it. Lastly, the hero is an aardvark. An AARDVARK! Arthur’s got nothing on this pimp. Screw him and his after-school jingle.    

Image credit: David Sims

#9. The Numbers

Like I mentioned earlier, our attention spans are sad to say the least. However, have no fear of any lack in mental staying power. Our membership amount will keep your ADHD mind short-circuiting ‘til rapture, and you’ll keep begging for more during the transition of the soul, I assure you. Okay, let’s take “success” out of the equation because its definition varies from artist to artist. Have you ever seen A Bug’s Life? There’s a scene in it I’ll never forget where the main villain, Hopper, is explaining to one of his underlings the value of numbers. Essentially, if the ants ever figured out that they outnumber the grasshoppers exponentially, then the grasshoppers would lose their power. We, the seemingly indecisive and insignificant inciters of indie incident, are the ants. The great gargantuans, Marvel and DC, know this, but there’s nothing they can do. Make no mistake– they’re still sitting healthily at the top of Money-Maker Mountain, but we have surrounded them with awesomeness. The indie arena is an ocean of creativity, and the original golden palace is eroding.

#8. The Speed

DC may have created Barry Allen, but we are The Flash. Why do I separate it from numbers, you ask? Well, my frequently friend-zoned compadre, it’s because of my meticulous nature. You see, while the two goliaths are indeed taking risks, they have to go through an approval process. We do not, for the most part, have to deal with red tape. While there’s certainly major advantages to having a well-paid corporate team on your side, that’s a lot of cooks in a big kitchen. Individual creators may indeed be the sole chefs of their destiny. Indie comics have an edge in both output and volume as long as creators have enough passion under their feet. We can produce what we want, when we want, however fast we want it (sort of). We don’t have the marketing or production budget of Detective or Marvel, but we have other advantages.

#7. The Variety

Both DC and Marvel have created some incredible heroes, no doubt. Here’s the thing: you know them all! And even if you don’t, you’re going to burn out on fan service way before indie comics come close to dying. Want a horror comic that’s also a comedy and doesn’t mind destroying 1950’s purity? Try Afterlife with Archie. How about Final Fantasy meets drug use, alcoholism, rats, and a spoon-full of friendship? Take a stab at Rat Queens. Need a comic about orgasms stopping time? Try Sex Criminals. You won’t find any of this in Marvel or DC. I’m not saying they don’t have variety of their own.

However, when you have the courage to step away from the original superheroes and see what magic exists in our world, you’ll level up faster than you think.

#6. Easy Integration  

This one may require some clarification. The major players in comics these days usually have lots of overlapping and complex storylines requiring you to buy multiple issues of various comics in order to keep it all straight. It’s a gimmick big companies use to get you to spend more money. If you’re loyal to the brand, it works. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this tactic.

In the indie world, though, you can become a part of the community instantly and easily.

The stories are intricate and interesting, but not a lot of insane crossover and backstory is required. We love people on this side of the fence, and we don’t judge you for loving the giants. We love them, too. However, for our new ink-addicted travelers, our rides are easier to manage. Marvel might be able to afford a subway system, but we’ve got Ubers waiting for you wherever and whenever you need them.

Image Credit: Stephen Smith

#5. Image Comics  

Anyone who loves indie comics knows that this company was and is a game changer for our side of the table. Here are the basics: some really talented people over at Marvel were like, “We want more creative power,” and Marvel was like, “No,” and the angry peeps went, “We’re gonna start our own company,” and Marvel went, “Good luck losers,” and then Todd McFarlane  went, “Spawn!” Yes, another amazing Canadian to the rescue. Image is one of the main gatekeepers for the indie(ish) artist. The print is real high quality, and the company is still driven by creativity. They are technically keyholders, but in the best way. Image Comics is more about creative quality and less about following trends. The company has a decent market share and has earned a great deal of respect in the comic and storytelling community in general. I give props to Kevin Eastman and IDW of course, but there’s something really special about creators breaking away from the safety of a conglomerate and taking a huge risk based on their collective skill level. Spawn of course went on to be a massively successful franchise, despite doubt. The whole thing reminds me of a frisky aardvark for some reason. 


#4. Freedom+Risk= New Trends  

Sugar, spice, and everything not necessarily nice. Let’s not forget accidentally spilling some well thought-out storytelling in the mix. Yes, that was a painfully produced Powerpuff parody, but alliteration is like medicine to me, and I needed my fix.

Trends are now the natural byproduct of speed and creative freedom. When it comes to risk, the Big Two need time to adjust. The idea of weaving new characters into an established comic to determine marketability is effective, but ultimately an old business model that began in the 40’s and 50’s.

Indie comics, on the other hand, are less about testing the market and more about jumping for the sake of the free fall. While superhero stories still live in a maze of rules, Indie comics have no walls. While that amount of freedom is certainly challenging, indie comic creators are brilliant at creating their own rules within the world they establish. We could talk about Image again, and how their critically acclaimed Walking Dead is bringing horror back to life. Maybe we should mention Frank Miller and Dark Horse blending indie with Hollywood. Remember what I said about speed advantage? I think the most exciting thing is how quickly Indieland adapted to Internet culture. We were doing digital way before DC or Marvel, and this is just one of many examples where the masters of mainstream had no choice but to follow suit. This brings me to my next point…

#3. Indie Marketing Magic  

Thanks to the budget of the industry giants, they can shove stories in your face with massive paid ads and suite-wearing sadists. We, however, get to be shameless in our own way. We can vomit an origin comic at the drop of a hat for free. We have the luxury of “pay what you want” campaigns. We can do cheesy low budget ads that give our audience an immediate glimpse of our own vulnerable reality. In some ways, the heroes we’ve been loyal to forever have to remain in the past to be successful. Modern stories don’t have the luxury of overdosing on member berries (check out South Park to understand that reference). In order to compensate we have to reach into a bag of tricks that the Big Two are simply too big to understand.  

#2. Deep Impact (Gravity Always Wins)  

Yes, I’m sort of referencing a terrible movie with Morgan Freeman, but it’s also a metaphor for how we reach our audience. I nodded to this a bit previously. Authors of indie comics can create grassroots movements rather easily. There is a strong desire to have real relationships with fans. It’s why crowd-funding isn’t frowned upon in our world. While bigwigs live in the money palace, we get to hang out in the slums of sensational storytelling.

At their center, indie inventors’ hearts beat with want and desire. We love how a story brings people together. It’s less about privacy protection and more about forming a support system where fans and artists work as a collective.

We can’t win by force, so we win with genuine emotion.

We not only bring new audience members to our world, but we also have the courage to bring them back down to earth with us. That’s the beauty in all this. We won’t make you go anywhere, but once you show up, you never want to leave.

#1. We Are an Underdog Story (and the underdog always wins)

Everyone wants to root for a new hero, and we have new heroes coming out of the woodwork everyday. The ultimate twist is that this is not a competition. Even the big guys want us to win. We’re all creators here. The whole reason we love this art form is because the world needs heroes (yes I’ve said that line before). Indie comics fill a need that nature is desperate for, and through it all, Batman and Superman are actually on our side. If we stay the course, they will follow us anywhere. Unlike a lot of art, comics haven’t been damaged by the digital age. Online love is just as hyped as holding the real pages of a freshly unwrapped comic. Why? Because comics are as much about collecting gems as they are about the stories themselves. In other words, the internet hasn’t driven away a desire for the real thing.

Image credit: dannycruz4.deviantart.com

Final Thoughts

Here’s the secret, and it’s the best news. Superman will never die, as long as he dodges Doomsday of course, but he WANTS to be conquered. He’s tired of bearing the gold crown of goodness. Batman is no help because you know those two constantly bicker. Rich dudes always be bitch’n ‘bout things. I love me some Stan Lee, too, but  he’s got to be exhausted!

That’s where we come in. If we can reach our hands to the sky as a team, the burden of heroism will feel lighter than air. Who knows, maybe the gravity of our situation is really just the force that teaches us how to leave the atmosphere. Trust me. Superman is up there somewhere waiting with a smile on his face, and he’ll probably say something like, “It’s about time. I told you, you didn’t need a cape to fly.”  


Thanks

    I want to thank CNBC, ComiXology, IGN, Wikipedia (yes Wikipedia), Image, Darkhorse, www.thecomicbooks.com, Amazon, www.creatoratlarge.com, Comics Beat, and of course my amazing nerd friends for some of this source material. Thank you for helping build a universe that makes me feel right at home.

 





Posted on Leave a comment

To Hero or not to Hero, That is the Question: Are there too many Comicbook films?

comic book movies

Fellow heroes, villains, damsels no longer in distress (because it’s 2017), lend me your fears.  Are you freaking out because there are too many comic/superhero films?  You may be right, but spend some time with me as I spew some syllables of sanity in an attempt to calm you down.

We are after all storytellers, and in my view, that means there can never be too many stories… even as they move from ink on a page to stage and screen.

With that said, lets everyone please take a moment to hold hands and forget about Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark.  If you liked that show you were either 6, or really into U2 and for that, and ONLY that, I can forgive you. I share that bit of splendid side note to remind you that this is an opinion piece and you are welcome to disagree with me if you so choose.



We’re in the midst of an artistic revolution.

Hardcore fans and casual viewers alike have no choice but to watch and see what happens.  Just like any revolution, you’re going to have your triumphs (The Dark Knight series/The Avengers) and your defeats (Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds).  Creators are not going to hit a homerun every time, especially if the stories you love are trapped in the cogs of the Hollywood machine.  That is unless your name is Christopher Nolan… you sexy grand master of gods and monsters you.  If you die or retire in any less than 100 years from now I’m gonna be pissed.  

There are so many factors that go into this discussion.  It’s easy to look at a film and attack it at face value.  There’s lots of other things to consider.  What age group were the creators going for? How much did the studio interfere with original vision of the directors/writers? What was the budget for the film? How much of the film was hashed out before the studio green lighted the thing and gave it a deadline? Perhaps the question shouldn’t be, “are there too many films,” but rather “are they being hashed out too quickly.”  

I believe the issue isn’t numbers, but time.

Creative genius takes awhile to craft, and that’s especially true in the world of film.  If you don’t believe me, look at the success of Marvel right now vs DC. Marvel took years to develop their universe before uniting all the heroes at once.  DC basically binged on fan service in order to vomit scripts in an attempt to catch up to a film franchise that took it’s time to be great.  It’s the classic story of the tortoise and the hare, except this time the tortoise has super powers and steroids.  On another side note, I hate the new turtle movies with a passion, but don’t blame the turtles themselves. Michael Bay has always treated his audience like they were idiots.  Unfortunately there’s still enough people out there that keep giving him money.  Stop giving Michael Bay money.. Please…    

I think it’s also an issue of freedom.  James Gunn for example, was given a lot of freedom with Guardians of the Galaxy.  He has a way of being quirky and interesting while also being streamlined with his storytelling.  It’s clear to me that the studio trusted him to make his own film, but also build something that appeals to a wide audience.  There’s lots of examples where the opposite happens and disaster strikes. Take The Amazing Spider Man 2 for example.  It was almost like Sony said, “Dubstep’s cool so who needs a compelling storyline,” or “A list actors are good enough on their own so why bother with any character development.”  Dear Electro.  Why didn’t you just die in the tank with the eels.  No one in the audience had time to care about you except maybe Jamie Foxx… and Skrillex.  

We could even touch on the third installment of the original Spider Man film franchise.  I actually didn’t mind where things were going.  I had some issues with emo Peter Parker of course and I’m not a huge Tobey Maguire fan by any means, but Spider Man at it’s core is about a nerd getting to experience the rights and responsibilities of power.  He did a great job portraying that.  I was also young enough to appreciate the light hearted nature of the first two films but WHY did they INSIST on having so many villains.  Venom was a whiny baby Clark Kent reject with a god complex who had roughly 5 minutes of film time to kill spider man.  Good call studio, thanks for drowning your story in fake fandom.  

Alright so I’m getting a little off topic but I have a point I promise.

You have plenty to complain about for sure, but they’re all about specific things regarding your favorite storylines.  The general idea of consistent creativity shouldn’t bother anyone.  Chances are, if you hated a film, it’ll be remade in 3 years anyway.  If you aren’t an Andrew Garfield fan then, get excited for Homecoming.  I know I am. Above all, when so many things go into a project, it’s hard to find a single thing to blame if it doesn’t go your way.  In the end, it’s best to wait until someone gets your story right or better yet be the one who takes your favorite hero to the next level.  If you’re reading this then you’ve got time.  

Since this blog lives inside a hub dedicated to indie comics, let’s take a moment to talk about indie comic movies.  There needs to be more of them… period.  

I absolutely loved V for Vendetta if it was mostly because of my obsession with syllables and the V monologue to Natalie Portman upon their first meeting so sue me.  What can I say? I have weird tastes sometimes.  I also really loved Watchmen even though it felt a little long to me.

Mostly I like Indie comic films because they tend to be a little riskier and tackle more complex questions. Sometimes fame and notoriety can get in the way of creativity.  In a way, indie comic films are less “bogged down” by the pressures of popularity and are able to breathe more.  It’s almost as if being less mainstream allows them to captivate more people.

I think more indie comics on the big screen will be a wonderful counterpoint to obsessively remade classics that have almost no choice but to be formulaic.  We’re on our way with films like The Hellboy series, 300, Scott Pilgrim, and 30 Days of Night.  Some of my favorites were lucky enough to become a cult phenomenon like The Crow, and let’s not forget that TMNT is technically an indie comic.  I’m a product of the 90’s though so once again Michael Bay can go die in a fire for all I care.  

On a final note, I get the feeling that the “new classic” comic films are almost headed in an indie direction.

Guardians was far from ordinary.  Deadpool and Logan were mature for mostly the right reasons, even if Deadpool was basically Van Wilder in a cool costume who killed people because it was fun.  Mostly, I believe the audience is smarter than hollywood gives it credit for.  Indie comics and indie comic films trust in the intelligence of the audience.  After all we’re mostly nerds. It’s a little bit like how Pixar is successful because it doesn’t treat kids like idiots. I do believe the R rating on comic films might hurt a few movies in the long run, but that’s another topic for another time.  

The indie film genre has the same defeats and triumphs as our somewhat more popular heroes.  Whether they’re buried treasure or garbage best left behind, they’re simply a bit harder to find if you’re new to to the land of nerd. If so, it’s been my pleasure to be your pedantic pen pal in this perilous paradise of precocious pandemonium. Remember. In the grand scheme of things I know nothing. My inner hypocrite admits that he critiques at his own peril, as should you.

Art will always be judged if it’s brave enough to be art, but allow it to be judged for the sake of growth.

Let judgment never stifle creativity, even if it’s not your own.  

In conclusion: La La land (Hollywood) may be swamped with heroes and villains, but I say bring it on.  Love them or hate them, we could all use the inspiration from these stories on our best days and our worst.     


 


Posted on Leave a comment

OUR TRUMPED-UP COMIC

 

Well,
we doubt the rest of responsible America will be much cheered, but for
us personally, there’s at least one silver lining to Trump’s winning the
election this year: our new comic isn’t going to seem so dated.

When we began writing BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC # 1 last year, Trump hadn’t even clinched the Republican nomination.  Like
almost everyone else who’s gazed on him, though, we couldn’t help
noticing the demagogue’s ‘do.

Let
us level with you on this: when you’re writing a book about a psychic
barber, you are always on the hunt for fun and/or relevant hair-related
material.  And the mane on that man?  It was like a gift.

So we came up with a reactionary rabble-rouser by the name of Atticus Jackson,
whose curious perm may figure into a larger mystery BOB is trying to
solve.  And Ol’ Jackson, he would have been a just dandy addition to the
BOB mythos, we found ourselves grumbling later – if not for the
production delays that pushed our new issue past the election.  Like
most people, we were certain Trump would be history after that, and BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC #1 would be dated from the very moment of its release.

If only…

But we’ll take our comforts where we can right now.

Learn the secret of Donald Trump’s Atticus Jackson’s hair in BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC # 1 “The Legend of Legros.”