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Friday, August 18, 2017

I NEED A HAIRCUT

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Shawn Sends a Submission to Dynamite Comics




I recently sent a query to Dynamite Comics. With my extensive background writing strong heroines in fantasy like the Isis series and YA novels like Spellbound I thought I’d be a great fit to work with their catalog of strong sexy heroines like Red Sonja and Vampirella.

I’d like to think I meet the basic qualifications to be a writer at Dynamite. I’ve read essential books on comics like Origins of Marvel Comics, Son of Origins and Bring on The Bad Guys and The Superhero women by Stan Lee in addition to thousands of comics over the last 30 years. I’ve read extensively about pulp magazines, the historical predecessor of Comic books that featured characters like Doc Savage, and The Shadow, the grandfather of Superman and Batman. And I’ve read books like Syd Field’s Screenplay and Robert McKee’s Story to further develop my writing craft.

Over the last decade I’ve honed my writing skills writing novels and novelettes featuring strong Black heroines. And in the five years I’ve been writing the books in the Isis series and the E’steem series I’ve learned how to work writing on a tight publishing schedule producing multiple titles in a year. Many of my readers say Isis and E’steem read like comic books, and they’re actually designed to be just like 2-3 issue story arcs in comics. Many people say I have a strong visual style to my writing and I’d love to actually see what a story I wrote would look like as a comic.

What would I contribute to Dynamite Comics as a writer? As a writer I’d like to think I could write comics with the same multidimensionality and depth that I put into the Isis series and the E’steem series and in my YA novels like Spellbound and The Thetas. One of the big problems I’ve noticed with superheroines is they aren’t usually written with any sort of depth and multidimesnonality and that’s why their characters never build a following and stories don’t resonate with a larger audience of readers. Many superheroines have a flashy look, but oftentimes their stories usually don’t have any substance. So most readers don’t relate to their characters or identifies with their experiences in a way that makes them care about them. I’d like to write those stories that gave the ladies the same depth and substance that the guys have, and hopefully reach a new audience of readers with my approach to storytelling.

And that approach to storytelling has had some success for me at SJS DIRECT. From my experience writing Isis and E’steem and books like The Thetas, Spinsterella and Spellbound I’ve been able to reach larger audiences of women and casual readers in America and in foreign markets on digital platforms. So I know with the right stories a series can not only get comic fans to take a look, but get new readers and casual readers to pick up a title and become regular readers. When readers pick up a story from SJS DIRECT like the recent Isis: Samurai Goddess or E’steem Little Girl Lost they often go back and pick up the previous titles in the series.

I really think I can build a following of readers in comics. Currently many people look for my comic book related videos on YouTube and many readers have been y comic book related blogs for years. So there’s an established audience of potential readers for Dynamite to capitalize on. If I announced I was writing for Dynamite it could possibly build some anticipation from a marketing perspective and might even lead to strong sales for any series of comics I worked on.  


Will I get a response from the editors at Dynamite? I don’t know. But if I got the opportunity to submit a sample to them I’d make an effort to give them my best work. And if I got a chance to work for them I’d try to submit stories on the same high level of quality I establish for my SJS DIRECT Universe titles. I’ve always wanted to work in comics, and I’m hoping for the opportunity to show a publisher what I have to offer as a storyteller one day.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Do We Really Need All These All-New “Diversity” Heroes at Marvel?


Battle Star.
Giant Man.
Windshear.
Charcoal.
Triathalon.
Night Thrasher.
Silhouette.
Frenzy.
Mantis.
Collective Man.
Shang-Chi.
Jubilee.
El Auguila.
White Tiger.
Living Lightning.
Firebird.
Silverclaw.
Dust.
Shaman.
Talisman.
American Eagle.


These are just a handful of the characters of color who have been part of the Marvel Universe who haven’t gotten a significant push in years, if not decades. However, Marvel believes we need an Asian Hulk, A Female Thor, a Female Wolverine, a Black Captain America and a Black Female Iron Man to present a fair and balanced picture of diversity in between the pages of Marvel Comics. 


My question is: If the editors at Marvel are so serious about diversity, why don’t they try to push one of the existing characters of color in their catalog?


All these characters I mentioned have established followings in the main Marvel Universe. Many are just one story away from getting over with readers to the point where they could carry their own limited series. Some like Night Thrasher and Shang-Chi have even carried their own books in the past. So why not give these characters a push?


 Because it doesn’t get press. It doesn’t get controversy. It doesn’t make people get upset on message boards or talking about Marvel Comics.


And working with these characters would require a writer to actually do some research. In order to work with one of the characters of color I mentioned here, a writer would have to do some research on the Marvel Universe. They’d have to dig deep into the back issues or the archives on comixology and read hundreds of issues to get a sense of the character and their backstory. Then they’d have to plan a story featuring that character that fit organically into the Marvel Universe.


It’s a lot easier for a novice to work with Sam Wilson on Captain America than to write a Lemar Hoskins story that dug deep into the mythos of Captain America. It’s a lot easier to write a terrible America Chavez story than to work with Silverclaw, Firebird, or Living Lightining. It’s a lot easier to work with Kamala Kahn than to develop stories around Dust, who was becoming a fan-favorite X-Man.


Why? Because making up stuff means that a creative team doesn’t have to do the hard work of researching a characters’ backstory. Studying their history. Finding out what worked and what didn’t work and crafting stories that weave organically into the tapestry of the Marvel Universe.


I have to wonder if this new push for diversity about actual diversity or is it just grossly unqualified people trying to cover for the fact that they don’t have the skills to write Marvel Comics? A creative writer with an understanding of the Marvel Universe would have no problem finding a D or E list hero of color and putting a fresh take on them that made them interesting.


Yeah, people are talking about Marvel Comics diversity heroes online. Unfortunately, they aren’t selling many copies to readers. Instead of their new heroes of color bringing old and new readers together to share their interest in a superhero, all they’re doing is alienating the core customer base of White Males and pushing many minority readers away with their paternalistic stories featuring countless old racist stereotypes repackaged in brand new boxes.


The way I see it, Marvel doesn’t need new people of color in their major character’s roles. What they really need is real diversity behind the scenes. Most of the qualified White males who made up Marvel’s editorial staff in the past have been replaced by grossly unqualified White Females. And instead of White men writing characters of color, we have grossly unqualified White female editors working with incompetent writers of color such as Gabby Rivera and Ta-Naheshi Coates. That’s why Marvel Comics attempt to diversify their universe is one of the greatest failures in comic book history.


There’s a great catalog of characters of color at Marvel Comics. And a seasoned creative team of qualified writers, artists, and editors could take one of those characters to the next level if they were given a chance to work at the brand. Yes we need more creators of color in comics. However, instead of Hiring employees based on the color of the skin, Marvel really needs to start hiring writers, artists, and editors based on the contents of their portfolio.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Writer Burnout



A lot of writers go on for years crafting great stories. Then some reach a point where their work isn’t as great as it used to be. The plots they write make little sense, the pacing of their stories starts to slow, characterizations and “voices” are off, the storylines they write aren’t thought out, and sometimes the ending has the reader saying WTF?


It’s a clear case of writer burnout.


What is Writer Burnout? Writer burnout is where a writer loses their passion for writing. The spark that inspires their creativity dies down. They lose their love for storytelling and they just start going through the motions, writing just because they feel they need to, not because they want to.


What causes a writer to burnout? Sometimes it’s working with a character for too long. Sometimes it’s working in the same genre for too many years. Sometimes a writer is just plain tired after working multiple projects year after year. 


All the signs of Writer Burnout are usually on the page of their work. Instead of writing a story that’s fresh and exciting, they write uninspired stories with no heart, no energy and no soul. The story doesn’t flow in an organic fashion because they try to force things  that don’t work to work. And in some cases they stop caring about the quality of the stories they produce and let all sorts of mistakes from grammatical mistakes to major continuity errors go by.


In most cases when the writer doesn’t care the reader notices. They don’t see clear pictures of the action in their imaginations. They don’t hear the voices of the characters. They don’t “feel” the spirit of the story on the page. Instead of a story having a heart and a soul, the entire reading experience feels DEAD.


If the writer doesn’t care about writing the story when they start it, the reader won’t care enough to read it when they finish it. Readers feel that passion, that energy and that heart on the page. And that’s what compels them to keep reading.


How does a writer overcome Writer Burnout? By stepping away from the keyboard. Sometimes a writer gets so caught up in the imaginary worlds of their characters that they don’t take time for their own personal lives. When a writer starts to feel themselves getting burnt out, it’s a sign from their bodies and their minds that they’re tired. And they need to take a rest.

Sometimes a burnt out writer will keep trying to write a story that they’re stuck on just to finish it. They hope to push through hoping to reignite the passion they had for writing; however, this is one of the worst things a writer could do. Sometimes a break is the best thing a writer could do for their bodies and their minds.

Writers often spend a lot of time in front of the keyboard. And being in front of that keyboard for hours a day every day of the year can lead to a writer becoming disconnected from the world. And that time they take away from the keyboard can help a writer reconnect with the world and draw inspiration from it to tell their stories.

When a writer starts to feel like they’re burning out, the best thing they could do is take a break from writing. Go out for a walk, Go see a movie. Go do something that’s not related to writing. Sometimes that break can lead to a breakthrough that can lead to a writer getting their passion for storytelling back and lead to them writing great stories again.



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Isis Coming To DC’s Legends of Tomorrow To Spite President Trump



Isis is coming to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Producer Marc Guggenheim says he wants to take a Jab at President Donald Trump So he’s introducing a Muslim Superhero based on DC comic book heroine from the 1970s.


A Muslim Superhero named named Isis. Based on the goddess from Egyptian Mythology.


Damn. Just Damn.


Can’t Marc Guggenheim see the contradictions here? Most Muslims don’t want anything to do with the Heliopolitan faith or the gods of Heliopolis. So why would a Muslim heroine name herself after a goddess of another religion?


But Diversity. Even though it doesn’t make any sense. Because President Trump is alleged to be Islamophobic.


Can these producers please leave their SJW politics out of these DC TV Shows? It’s bad enough that Supergirl Season 2 was infested with so much feminism that it became unwatchable. And it sucked the life out of Riverdale when the Berlanti Productions’ writers decided to turn Chuck Clayton into a cipher to take a potshot at Bill Cosby. Now the producers are looking to use Legends of Tomorrow to take a Potshot at Trump.


Well maybe Mark Guggenheim needs to get the mote out of his own eye before looking at Donald Trump’s plank. Because when it comes to Black men these liberals have been practicing racism on their shows for the last few years.


James Olsen was went from lead and love interest in the back half of Supergirl Season 1 to becoming emasculated in his role of Guardian of the Freindzone in Season 2. John Diggle has been Oliver’s butler for 5 years. Mr. Terrific has been changed from a heterosexual man who was world’s third smartest man in the comics into a bumbling, stumbling gay idiot. And both Firestorm and has been neutered and asexualized.


So the pot shouldn’t be calling the kettle black.  I find it funny that James Olsen can’t have a relationship with Supergirl on CW’s Supergirl but Barry Allen and Steel can have relationships with Iris West and Vixen on The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.

But Trump is the racist. Yeah right.

The liberal producers who are still butthurt about Donald Trump winning the election are just as racist as they allege Donald Trump to be. They want to include a Muslim Isis into the Legends of Tomorrow to jab him but their attempt at “diversity” shows us how racist they truly are. If they really wanted to prove that they weren’t racist to everyone they’d do something about the stereotypical way Black men are depicted on all these Berlanti shows.


Seriously, I just want to see a good superhero show where good guys take on bad guys. And we’re not getting that on most of these Berlanti productions. Instead of telling stories that are true to the source material we’re getting people trying to push their own political agendas. The 2016 election is over. Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti need to just move on and just make some great superhero shows.



Monday, August 7, 2017

Isis: Escape From Transylvania Sample Chapter



I’m in the middle of writing a cover letter and outlining some new Isis and E’steem series stories. So here’s a sample chapter of Isis: Escape From Transylvania, the sequel to Isis: Bride of Dracula and Isis: Night of The Vampires!  


Chapter 15


As John slumps over into the headrest, I look over to Lucretia across the cabin. “Hey, can we get some pillows?” I request. “Mr. Haynes seems to be jetlagged.”
While Lucretia grabs a pillow out of the overhead compartment, I let out a long yawn as my eyes water. That’s weird, I never feel jet lag. And I fly across multiple time zones at high altitudes all the time. I can understand John boy being tired from working all those long days in the office, but I shouldn’t be feeling anything ten minutes into a transcontinental flight.
As Lucretia approaches us with the pillow for John, she greets me with a smile as I take it from her. As I get up out of my seat to put the pillow under his head I start feeling dizzy. “Are you all right Isis?” Lucretia  asks.
Wait a minute- we’ve never met. So why does she keep calling me by my name? When I look out the window and don’t see her reflection in it I realize we’ve been set up. “You’re a Vampire!” I bark.
Lucretia ’s eyes grow wide as I lunge at her. On seeing me putting up a fight, the other two stewardesses rush over to her as I stagger into the aisle of the cabin. As I try to swing at them, they grab my arms and twist them behind my back. “I should have known you demons were liars!” I snarl.
“We’re far from through with you goddess! ” Lucretia says opening up the jewel on the large silver and onyx ring on her left ring finger. “You’re both going to pay for what you did to my father!”
Lucretia points the spray nozzle inside at me and shoots me in the face with pink dust. Oh my God! That’s the Sandman’s dust of dreams! That’s what they must have put in my shake! I do everything I can to fight off the effects of the drowsiness overtaking me as I’m shoved back into my seat, but it’s too strong. The last thing I see before everything turns black is Lucretia ’s smile.

Isis: Escape From Translyvania is one of several titles delayed because I don’t have the money to pay an artist to design the cover! So if you could donate to my Patreon or my PayPal, I’d greatly appreciate it!




Thursday, August 3, 2017

Batman is a Metahuman WTF?



Batman is now a Metahuman.

Just when we thought Rebirth was gonna take us back on the road to the Classic DC Universe we wind up taking another turn down the road to dysfunction in Didioland.

Back at SDCC we had Dan Didio and Jim Lee telling us they were out to save the comic book industry from a collapse that was coming. Someone needs to tell them it’s bullshit like this that makes people want to walk away from comics and not come back.

According to Batman’s creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger Batman is a guy with no super powers. He’s a guy who is the peak of human athleticism, and extremely mentally adept. That’s why he’s been considered the world’s greatest detective. That’s why he’s an icon in American pop culture.

Unfortunately over the last 25 years writers and artists have taken Batman from being just an ordinary man and turned him into a cipher. So he’s anything they want him to be depending on the situation Batman can do anything from performing surgery like Dr. Mid-Nite, can use Green Lantern rings better than Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayneer and John Stewart and understands Thanagaraian better than Hawkman, and Apokloliptan tech better than Orion and Mr. Miracle. Shit he can even operate Metron’s Mobius chair and is more knowledgable about mysticism than Dr. Fate, Jason Blood, The Spectre and The Phantom Stranger. 

Batman isn’t a Metahuman. He’s become a Mary Sue. And that’s one of the big problems at DC Comics.

Metahumans like Static and The Flash have a clear set of defined powers. And they have strengths and weaknesses. It’s those strengths and weaknesses that make them interesting characters.

Batman’s humanity was a strength and a weakness. Yes he was less powerful than the other heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman. But what made him a hero was his ability to overcome his human limitations.

Moreover, what made him a legend was his heart. Bruce always pushed himself so hard because he cared so much about people. He never wanted anyone to suffer the same loss he did so he always pushed himself beyond human limitations to overcome the greatest of challenges. Whether it was matching wits with the Riddler or trying to solve a basic homicide case, Batman’s greatest strength was his love of people.  

It’s clear to me from this announcement that nothing has changed at DC. And that Dan Dido and Jim Lee are not genuine when they say they want to save the comic book industry. Letting the New Yorker tell the world that Batman is a Metahuman shows us that DC’s editors still more interested in getting cheap press in the mainstream media rather than getting DC back in place where they can be a competitive publishing house. It’s these kinds of stunts that have fans on the sidelines and holding their dollars.

From this stunt it’s also clear to me that DC is in desperate need a housecleaning in the editorial department. As long as the Didio era goes on, people are still going to get the same poor quality comics. Even if the DC Universe is restored after this so-called “Rebirth,” the quality isn’t going to change because Didio and Lee will still be running the show. And they’ll still be pulling bullshit like this that pisses off customers.

The definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing and expecting a different result. Announcing that Batman is a Metahuman shows us that a year into DC’s Rebirth we’re getting the same crazy in a brand new wrapper.

If Warner Brothers is serious about saving the comic book industry they’ll announce Dan Dido and Jim Lee are no longer running DC. When the Post Didio Era begins then many of the people waiting on the sidelines will have the incentive to come back and start buying comics.