Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Wild Card" Wednesday!

Welcome to the first of a (hopefully) regularly scheduled post I like to call "Wild Card" Wednesday. As many of you know, I took the summer off from my comic book "work" to spend time with my wife and kids but as summer is drawing to a close (every pun intended), I've started doing warm-up drawings to get back in the swing of things. Among other things, I've been doing a lot sketch cards of my favorite Marvel and DC characters, some of whom are probably too obscure for my own good. I've decided to make these cards available to anyone who wants them for the meager price of five bucks (shipping included). It's first come first served, so the first one out there to let me know they're interested in purchasing said sketch card will be the first person for whom I'll hold the card. Paying for the card is easy. I'm not set up for Paypal at the moment, so simply send me a money order for five bucks, I'll send you the card and everybody walks away happy. No personal checks, please. Once we've agreed who'll be taking the card home with them, I'll email you all the necessary ordering information.

Today's "Wild Card" is...Iron Man!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Screw the Surgeon General!

When I got an email from Yahoo Geocities that, starting in October, they'll no longer be offering their free website builder, I downloaded all of the image files I've posted there over the years. As I trolled through them, I uncovered images I'd all but forgotten. So, in the interest of wackiness, I'll be posting some of them here and there.

This little photo comic strip came together when my Swedish buddy Mike Hill of Badmouth was in the States a few years back.

Screw the Surgeon General, you've just gotten the real warning about cigarettes.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Epic of BIO-WULF!

For years, I've played around with the idea of a "wide-screen" comic. It finally happened awhile back with "Salem, AZ," a book I'm working on with my good friend Nik Havert of Pickle Press and artist-in-arms Bill "Inkslinger" Wilkison (both of whom you can find links to on your right). It proved to be not only an artistic challenge for myself, but a publishing challenge for Nik. Nik's challenges are hopefully at an end with the first issue, which has had so many problems I believe the book to be cursed. But my motto has always been "Nothing worth having ever came without a fight."

My first attempt at "wide-screen" was an online comic I did a preview for several years ago now called "The Epic of Bio-Wolf." My Sweedish friend Mike of the rock band Badmouth, back in 2001, asked me to make him into a super hero. "The world just needs more heroes," he told me. This was just a few months after 9-11 and he, like the rest of the world, was feeling a bit defeated. So, Bio-Wulf was born. Here, for the hell of it if nothing else, is that preview...

Monday, July 13, 2009

July Game Night Update!

A man's home is his battlefield*, even when he's dead and especially when he's a super villain. This past weekend marked the second full-fledged game night of my as-of-yet unnamed super hero role-playing game. It was the biggest turn out of players I've had under one roof in quite sometime. It was me and my imagination against five of my friends; "Machine" Mike Indovina, Marc, Guy, Zander and James. I was beginning to think I was having a panic attack at the last minute because of it, but my wife reminded me that the headache pill I'd taken was loaded with caffeine, which accounted for all my symptoms. That settled, it was game on!

While laying low in a cheap motel, licking their wounds from their first attempt at going straight, Stinger, Thermo & Big Horn (the last two still haven't picked names for themselves) meet two other like-minded erstwhile villains, Boogeyman & Magnetron ("Magnetron" also just the name I'm using for now).

Magnetron (pictured above, below Boogeyman)told the others about a secret headquarters once used by the recently deceased Mechanic. The Mechanic, who apparently died in an explosion in a recent run-in with Goldenhawk & Black Falcon, was an inventor for the notorious Mr. Big, the city's crime boss. With the Mechanic out of the way, his secret lair might make the perfect hide-out and supply them with enough raw material to make repairs and modifications to their weapons and equipment. So, the group set out that night to find the deceased Mechanic's former headquarters. It turns out the rumors were true. The would-be heroes found a small but elaborate lair hidden under an abandon, boarded-up gas station a few miles outside of the city on a lonely stretch of highway.

A few minutes into investigating what appeared to be a rather swingin' bachelor pad under the old gas station, the team came upon a large swimming pool and in a scene right out of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," they watched a rather stacked, statuesque redhead climb out of the pool. To their shock (not quiet like that of Judge Rienhold) they were not only spotted, but recognized her as Acetylene of Damage Inc., one of the city's more heavy-hitting team of super villains.

It was during the fray against the musclebound, flame-throwing redhead that the rest of her teammates, Hammer, Slammer & Destroyer showed up.

In a battle that nearly wrecked the place, Boogeyman tossed a razor bat that short circuited Acetylene's bionic, flame-throwing arm, Magnetron used his megnetic powers to trap Slammer underwater until the bubbles stopped coming up, Stinger accidentally killed Hammer, Thermo shot off more ice bullets than the assassin in "Three Days of the Condor," and Big Horn finally managed to hit somebody.

If that weren't enough for one day, after the fray, the lair was beset upon by a company of S.W.O.R.D. operatives headed up by Goldenhawk & Black Falcon.

S.W.O.R.D. is a counter-terrorist organization specializing in the apprehension of super villains. The organization had heard a rumor that Damage Inc., who had just committed a major bank robbery, were using the seemingly abandoned lair as a hide-out. As it turned out, Acetylene, though a member of the red-meat-for-breakfast team of super villains, had a soft heart and she and the deceased Mechanic were an item prior to his death.

After a brief explanation from the wanna-be do-gooders as to their involvement in the night's festivities, Goldenhawk made them an unofficial offer. They could keep the headquarters and its contents and S.W.O.R.D. will keep its location a secret, if the team will act as undercover S.W.O.R.D. agents when needed. As a reward, S.W.O.R.D. would make their criminal records disappear. The burgeoning crime busters agreed and Boogeyman initiated a "hands in."

And now for the truly incriminating images...

When yours truly, the "Evil GM" (not to be confused with my blogger buddy The Evil DM) speaks, it pays to listen...

"Machine" Mike (aka Boogeyman) lookin' thoughtful in sunglasses from the Brett Somers collection...

Marc (aka Stinger) rests in preparation for the game...

Birthday girl Brandi showed up and to my amazement, stuck around for a while. I'm guessing it was for the beer and not the gaggle of dorks sitting around the table rolling dice...

Zander & Milkdud (aka Big Horn & Thermo) are our youngest players. Yes, we old gamers do our part in corrupting today's youth...

Sweet G (aka Magnetron) cheeses it up for the camera...

And just one more incriminating shot of Marc to bring this blog post to a close.

* With apologies and props to Invincible Iron-Man #127...

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Future is Now!

Everything I ever learned about writing, I learned from reading men's adventure books. Along with the SOBs, there was another great series. The Zone! The series, masterfully written by British author James Rouch, took place in an alternative near future where the Berlin Wall did not fall. Instead the cold war suffered a meltdown. A war across Europe imploded, concentrating itself in a great contaminated swathe of no-mans land slashed across the continent. Imagine if "Kelley's Heroes" was written and directed by Sam Rami and you'd have "The Zone." Given the original publishing date of the books, I think it's safe to say that Rouch's "near future" was now and the "alternative near future" is a more recent re-imagining. I've discovered, much to my delight, that along with there being a role-playing game based on the series, Rouch recently wrote a TENTH book in the series that is available on CD, so Santa, if you're listening, you know what to bring me for Christmas.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

But Wait, There's (Unfortunately) More...

Here's more evidence that I thought I knew what I was doing. Back in '88, I decided to take a crack at turning the Valiant Four into a comic book series. Mini comics, ashcans and fanzines (this was before the Al Gore changed the publishing world forever with the internet) cost about a fifty cents a piece to produce, so it just seemed like a cheap way to get my stories out there. I had recently written "Lawyers, Guns & Money," what I thought was my best story so far*, so I decided to illustrate that one first, rather than go back to square one. I roughed it out to be about thirty pages long and managed to complete almost all of it before common sense took over and I shelved the project. Looking back over the pages, which I unearthed after my first V4 post, they're very indicative of the late 1980s and were fun to read, though a bit humbling, so I've decided to post them here on a semi-regular basis, starting with the cover below.

*With apologies to the Jaded Minstrel.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Blast from the Past!

Egad! Awhile back, my friend Chuck uncovered some pretty incriminating material that I did over two decades ago and the masochist in me just feels the need to share. Pictured below is the first issue of a series of short stories I wrote revolving around my friends and I...sort of. Back in the fall of '86, my friend Steve wrote a short story about us rescuing my parents from neo-Nazis (for what reason exactly I'm no longer sure). I was so caught up in the idea that I, with Steve's blessing, started churning out a number of sequels, adding a bit of a science fiction angle to the stories. There was an 18' foot tall female robot in one, for example. Eventually I went back and tweaked Steve's original story "The Valiant Four" to coincide with the science fiction angle of my stories. Instead of neo-Nazis kidnapping my parents, it was an aged Nazi scientist who found out my friends and I had found his secret formula for creating "super soldiers." I was pretty heavy into Doc Savage at the time, so naturally I (the writer) was the only one to use the formula before it was destroyed by the conscience heavy Steve (pictured below in the black jacket). Suffice it to say, the stories were terrible, but everybody's gotta start somewhere.

I've always said everything I ever learned about writing I learned from reading action/adventure novels and it was about that time that I, thanks to Karl (pictured above in the camouflaged jacket), discovered Gold Eagle Books. Ah, for those halcyon days of the Cold War. Gold Eagle offered quite a line-up of action/adventure novels, from The Executioner and Able Team, to Phoenix Force and The Guardians. Mack Bolan, aka The Executioner, was the Wolverine of his day, appearing in more books than humanly possible. Anyway, out of them all, my favorite series was The S.O.B.s, or Soldiers of Barrabas. Doubtless Nile Barrabas and his team of mercenary bad-asses probably played a huge role in influencing how I was writing my stories at the time. Like I said, everybody's gotta start somewhere, right?

Below is the cover to episode #7. To my knowledge, these are the only two stories to survive. I think I wrote about ten of them, which were eventually boiled down into a full-length novel, which, after changing names and a few concepts, almost saw print. Mercifully, the small press publisher that wanted to do it changed formats and started publishing cook books exclusively before I signed anything. Sometimes I wonder if reading my book made them change formats.

Who knows, boppers, maybe someday I'll print the stories on a blog or do a weekly web strip out of them.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's Time for a Big ol' Photo Dump!

It's been awhile since I blogged regularly, so I'm trying to get the ball rolling again. What better (easier) way to get started than with a big ol' phamily photo dump?

The perfect match: Karen's butt & daddy's face.


Karen's first french fry. We can call them that again, right? Not Freedom Fries?

Batgirl's secret identity revealed?!

Sleepy Karen

Arlaux on www.barbie.com

"Time for me to slide." The lesser-known REO song.

Atticus reading Spiderman.

Karen just watchin' the world go by.

Atticus at 2009 Preschool Graduation!

Jeep & Karen at graduation ceremony.

Reward for a job well done!

Atticus at the park in his Green Lantern costume under a Spiderman tank top. It's what happens when we let him dress himself.

That does it for this time around, boppers. Keep it here for more whackiness!