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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Patricia Arquette’s Oscar Speech- Hollywood uses Gender to Deflect from Race




I didn’t waste my time watching the 2015 Oscars. But from what snippets I’ve seen the truth about how dysfunctional Hollywood is regarding race was on stage for the entire world to see. Coons like John Legend crying for Massa. And Academy Award™ winner Patricia Arquette looking for a way to deflect from the issue of race in Hollywood by talking about equal pay for women in AmeriKKKa. Oh, the things people do for those gold statues!


I find it ironic that Patricia Arquette wants to talk about equal pay for women when the Academy didn’t nominate Ava DuVernay, the Black female director of Selma for an Academy Award™ for Best Director. I guess equal pay for women actually means Equal pay for White women, because there was no equality in the way the nominations were handed out this year.


It’s interesting that the White liberals in Hollywood want to talk about equal pay for White women after the Academy and its Black female president snubbed Ava DuVernay and the cast of Selma by not giving any of them nominations on Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday. All this talk about equal pay for White women is a wonderful way to deflect from race.


Using the White Woman as a buffer, the White Liberal in Hollywood avoids talking about race and his blatant racism against Black people in his actions and policies. And at the Oscars 2015 America’s White liberals both male and female showed what cowards and hypocrites they were on Sunday night. 


You see when called on his racism, the White liberal goes out and gets his buffer Negroes like John Legend to be his first line of defense. And when their minstrel antics don’t pacify the American masses, he calls up his second line of defense, the White Feminist. The hope is most of the American masses will be diverted and divided by her deflections on sex and get into a gender war discussion. 


And those who see through the smokescreen of sex and persist to call the White Liberal on his racism will be attacked with shaming tactics by his White Feminist and her Mangina supporters. In this offensive attack the White woman will make herself a victim, calling the person who challenges the White Liberal a misogynist, a sexist, a homophobe, and hater of all women. The hope is that the masses will use peer pressure shame the challenger into silence and shut down the discussion on race.

Clearly the members of the Academy think Negroes are stupid. And many, unfortunately have fallen for the game. Because most Negro males will sniff behind the backside of any White woman who looks their way, and most Negro females secretly worship her and hang on every word she says.


Patricia Arquette’s little bullshit Oscar Speech was socially engineered to take everyone’s mind off the Whitest Oscars since 1998 by making a victim out of the poor White woman. A White woman who stands right by the side of the rich White man. A White woman has benefitted the most from Affirmative Action since the late 1970’s. A White woman who benefits from all the privileges in the entertainment industry by either marrying wealthy White men in Hollywood or working right beside them.


Patricia Arquette made it look like she’s speaking about all women in her Oscar speech. But any smart Black woman knows that when White women talk about women’s issues they’re usually not talking about Black women. Again, Arquette’s speech is just a smokescreen to deflect from race in Hollywood.


A-list White Women today like Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker are already paid just like the guys. And that’s because these A-list White women can open movies just like the A-list guys such as Will Smith, George Clooney, and Denzel Washington. Due to their ability to draw at the box-office they get the pick of top scripts. Some can even get a project greenlit. And most screenwriters want to write for them because it’s a guaranteed big payday for them. A script for an A-list White woman will pull a larger budget. And Three to five percent of a 100 million dollar production budget for a movie with a White female lead is a lot more money than three to five percent of the five to eight million dollar budgets most Black movies usually get.


As I stated before in my All About Marilyn blog, the Black actress is at the BOTTOM of Hollywood. She is the least paid in all of Hollywood and the LAST to get a project greenlit. And that disparity has to do with profits, not gender. Again, the Black actress is at the BOTTOM of Hollywood because she is considered the highest risk at the box-office. No smart studio executive is going to pay a Black actress $20 million a picture when she can’t even open movies with $8 million budgets. Moreover, she doesn’t have the star power to recoup the budget in the U.S. Nor does she have the international appeal to help a film open in foreign markets.


And the White Supremacists in Hollywood will never allow a Black actress to make equal pay to White Women or to have films with budgets on par with their A-list starlets. Hollywood is the propaganda arm of White Supremacy and they make their money promoting and selling the image of the White Woman as the ideal standard for beauty for the world to follow. Having a Black woman establishing a standard of beauty that is her equal is bad for the business of White Supremacy. As long as women all over the world are chasing the White Woman’s standard and Black men and nonwhite men are chasing her tail, White Supremacists are guaranteed to control the economies of the world.


If these White men in Hollywood were serious about equal pay for women, they’d be out giving the all the Black women they dated and married like Whoopi Goldberg, Tamera Mowry, Karyn Parsons, Halle Berry and Persia White leading roles in A-list movies like Angelina Jolie, Melissa, McCarthy, and Sarah Jessica Parker get. They’d be greenlighting projects with Black women in lead roles just like they do for Angelina Jolie, Melissa McCarthy and Sarah Jessica Parker. They’d be making every effort to elevate the image of the Black woman to be equal to that of the White Woman.


And instead of Black women playing the Jezebels like we see on Scandal, Empire and Monster’s Ball, we’d be seeing Black women playing complex roles like those Patricia Arquette and Amy Adams just won Academy Awards™ for.


But White women like Patricia Arquette don’t want Black actresses playing those parts. Because on a level playing field they’d have competition for those acting jobs. And most White feminists don’t like things being equal. As the Cheerleaders of White Supremacy, these hypocrites like to cry and complain about sexism to White men while they participate in racism against Black women.


All the talk about equal pay from the Hollywood Elite like Patricia Arquette at the Oscars was just a deflection to keep the masses from discussing race and seeing how racist Hollywood truly is. White Women have had equal pay since the late 1970’s and in some industries these days they actually get paid more than men. In jobs outside of the entertainment industry it’s easier for a White woman and a Black woman to get a job than a Black man like myself. The real issue Hollywood refuses to talk about is race, and the truth is the White Supremacists in Hollywood just don’t want anyone to see humanized images of Black people onscreen.    

Monday, February 23, 2015

Isis/E'steem Kickstarter 2015


The Isis E'steem Kickstarter starts this week! You can donate to the Isis/E'steem Kickstarter here:

The Isis series is action packed fantasy fiction featuring the Egyptian goddess next door. Isis series books and eBooks have a growing international audience and have been sold to readers in the US, Canada, the UK, France, Italy, Germany and as far as Australia and Japan.

Unfortunately, most people judge books by their covers. Most of my covers look like this:



















But I'd like them to look like this: 


 And one of the things that keeps the Isis series from building a larger international audience among readers are the covers. Because I’ve been out of work for several years I’m usually forced to draw the covers myself. A cover by a professional artist like the one featured on Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess will help me make a powerful first impression on a growing audience of customers all over the world.

For 2015 I’m planning a crossover event between the Isis series and the E’steem series. The story starts in Isis: Night of the Vampires and ends in E’steem: Undercover. And to kick off the event I really need to have a pair of strong book covers to leave that lasting impression on prospective readers and readers of both series.

To pay a professional artist to design both covers in this crossover event I’d need to raise a minimum of $1000. That $1000 would be used to pay the artist for designing and coloring both of the covers for both Isis: Night of the Vampires and E’steem: Undercover. If I can raise more than the $1000 I’ll try to pay for some interior art.

The rewards to donors on this project include:

For a $20 donation a donor will receive:
An autographed copy of Isis: Night of the Vampires OR E’steem Undercover featuring the new cover art.

For a $50 donation a donor will receive:
An autographed copy of BOTH Isis: Night of the Vampires AND E’steem: Undercover featuring the new cover art.  

For a $100 donation a donor will receive:


All the paperback editions of the books in the Isis series so far.
*      Isis: Trial of the Goddess
*      Isis
*      Isis: Amari’s Revenge
*      Isis: The Ultimate Fight
*      Isis: The Beauty Myth
*      Isis: My Sister, My Frenemy
*      Isis: All About The Goddess
*      Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess
*      Isis: Power of the Princess

With your help we can get this project Kickstarted and take the Isis series to the next level! 

All About Marilyn, Black Actresses, Hollywood, And White Men




In 2009 when I first started the SJS DIRECT imprint the first book I published was All About Marilyn, a screenplay about of a faded 1990’s African-American teen star who was at a cross roads in her life at 34. And one of the reasons I had been inspired to write the story was all of the talk about the struggles Black actresses faced looking for work in Hollywood. I wanted to tell the story of these struggling sistas and get readers to understand what goes on behind the scenes in the entertainment industry regarding Black folks.


At the time I was doing research for All About Marilyn, many of the reports I watched and read said that the Black actress was at the bottom of the business hierarchy in the entertainment industry. She was considered the least bankable at the box office, unable to open a movie on a weekend or even carry a picture back to profitability for a studio. She was considered the highest risk in relation to cost because movies featuring Black female leads alone tend to do the worst not only in the American film market, but die on arrival in foreign box-offices as well. And screenwriters of all races just didn’t want to write scripts for her.


Why? Because it didn’t make any money for them. In Hollywood, the screenwriter is usually paid a percentage based on the budget of a film. And that percentage is two to five percent of a production’s budget. And five percent of 200 million dollars of a superhero movie like The Avengers with White male leads is a lot more money to take home than writing a Civil Rights drama, a Christian movie or a romantic comedy for a Black female lead that will only get an $5-$8 million budget at best if it’s even greenlit.


Due to financial reasons the there’s not much incentive for a screenwriter like myself to write a script for a Black actress. This is why many Black actresses are limited to playing the same roles such as maids, single mothers, and girlfriends in the same types of movies over and over again and in Tyler Perry films, Lee Daniels films, and Shondra Rhimes TV shows.


On the flip side if even if these kinds of scripts are written, and even if a Black starlet is interested in playing the role, it’s next to impossible to get financing for them. Most studio heads at the Big Six aren’t going to greenlight the $20 to $40 million budget to pay for an original script with a Black female lead out of fear of losing so much money. In some cases if the script is really good, what the studio does is buy the script, hire a White screenwriter to re-write it and cast a white actress in the lead when it gets the greenlight. And an opportunity to tell a different story about the Black experience winds up getting lost in the rigmarole of Hollywood’s storied corporate bureaucracy.


Why did I write All About Marilyn? Because I believed in the story. And I believed it needed to be told. We see the faces of all these sistas in the magazines, on TV and in the tabloids. But we don’t know the truth about their stories. They’re here one minute and gone the next. With All About Marilyn, I wanted to give readers an understanding of why the Black actress is not a household name like her White female counterpart.


White Supremacists in Hollywood have never wanted to elevate the image of the Black woman. In fact they make every effort to keep the Black actress at the bottom. The recent trend White Supremacists in Hollywood want to promote is the interracial relationship between the Black starlet and the White man. In the tabloids and the gossip shows we’ll see sistas dating White men and marrying them. However, For all the talk about Black actresses dating White men, not a single one of these White men they’re involved with are making a single effort to get these sistas any work.


On the business side the Black actress is still at the bottom of the business hierarchy when it comes to Hollywood. While there has been a resurgence of Jezebel, mammy and Sapphire roles like those in Monster’s Ball, Precious, The Help, and Scandal in American film and television those same White male executives who run the big Hollywood studios and date and marry the Black women in the entertainment industry aren’t lifting a single finger to elevate her image.


 Not a single one of these White men Black actresses are dating or married to are looking to help get a Black actress a quality script. Not a single one of these White men Black actresses are dating or married to are trying to help a Black actress pitch a project to a studio. Not a single one of these White male executives married to Black actresses is trying to work greenlight a project for the Black woman they supposedly love. Not a single one of these White men a Black actress is dating or married to is trying to help her get cast in a role that will elevate the image of Black women and make it the equal to that of White women.


I was always taught that it was a man’s job to protect his woman. To protect her image. And to uplift her image so that she could transmit a message to his children that with God’s guidance they could achieve anything they wanted in life.


But when it comes to the rich White men in Hollywood who date and marry Black women you don’t see them protecting the Black women they marry. You don’t see them uplifting her image. For fifteen years they have sat back and profited as the image of the Black woman they supposedly love so much has been dragged into the sewer in movies he greenlights, produces, and distributes.


And the culture that has been transmitted to Black children from the Black women who imbibe this media all over America has been one where debauchery and degeneracy are now seen as social norms in Black communities.


And While most American Black women promote the idea of dating and marrying White men on the streets, The rich White men in Hollywood exploit the masses of sistas by taking a chunk of their $3.3 trillion dollars at the box office to watch degrading images of themselves their grandmothers and great-grandmothers would have protested 40 years ago.


The truth is that there has only been one person out to protect the image of the Black woman in Hollywood. And that person has been the heterosexual Black man. Just like in the 1940’s when John H. Johnson started Ebony Magazine and the 1970’s when Gordon Parks started Essence Magazine, Heterosexual Black men have always strived to protect the image of the Black woman. They have always strived to preserve the image of the Black woman And they have worked tirelessly to elevate the image of the Black woman.


And they still do. Quite a few of the Black men working in film today still strive to elevate the image of the Black woman. There are still brothers and sisters out here who want to present the best image of our sisters to the world. And they fight to get their projects funded, produced, and distributed to a larger audience by working outside of the White Supremacist Hollywood system. Whenever a working Black actress wants a quality role with depth and substance that will allow her to show her acting range she doesn’t go to a White man. No, she goes to an independent Black screenwriter like myself for a script and an independent Black-owned production company to produce it. Because she knows the only man out to protect her reputation and put the best image of her onscreen are the Black men behind the camera.


Six years after the publication of the All About Marilyn paperback, I still strive to elevate the image of the Black woman in my current novels like The Thetas and novelettes like the Isis series. And from the feedback I’ve received from women all over the world over the years regarding All About Marilyn has been in print I know there’s a large international audience for movie featuring a Black female lead in a multi-dimensional complex humanized role that’s NOT a slave, mammy, maid or a jezebel. It’s just a matter of a smart Black filmmaker getting that film to the marketplace.



Thursday, February 19, 2015

Why Is It So HARD For Marvel and DC to Publish GOOD Comics These Days?



The Marvel Universe is ending this year. And the DC Universe is just a Mess. At Marvel and DC the cycle for publishing comics the last 20 years has been: Gimmicks. Events. Cancellations. Reboots. Which are followed by more gimmicks, events, cancellations and reboots. Seriously, why is it so hard to for people at the Big two to publish good Comic books these days?


Both Marvel and DC are divisions of multibillion dollar corporations. DC Comics has been a subsidiary of Time Warner for over 35 years. Marvel Comics has been a subsidiary of Disney for close to five. But even with billion dollar budgets and staffs of hundreds of editors, writers and artists, neither company can consistently produce quality comics on a regular basis these days.


It’s funny How Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the Marvel Universe with a tenth of the money and Just Stan and Jack writing and drawing most of the comics in the 1960’s. And this is in addition to publishing romance comics, western comics, horror comics and teen comics like Patsy Walker at the same time they started publishing superheroes again.


And DC Comics ran like a well-oiled machine under Jeanette Kahn for over 25 years. A testament to her skill as an editor and a manager of the DC Comics brand. Pre-Crisis, Post Crisis, readers could just pick up any comic book and start reading. And In a month or two they were regular buyers of DC Comics.


The people working at Marvel and DC today act like it’s so hard to manage a universe of characters and create new stories for them. They think it’s impossible to make comics easy to read without pre-made entry points, reboots, and other events. I don’t know, is it that hard to produce comics? Is the history that hard to navigate? Is the continuity that bogged down? Or are most of the people working in comics today at the big two just thinking too hard about this?


Archie Comics has been around for about the same time as Marvel and DC. And they haven’t had a problem maintaining their quality in 75 or so years. In fact they’ve been expanding the last few years and trying a lot of new and exciting things with their catalog of characters. And the new comics they produce are as easy to get into as the old ones.


Image Comics hasn’t had a problem in the 25 years they’ve been publishing comics like Spawn and Savage Dragon. Neither has the new Valiant. Currently both are producing some of the best comics in the medium right now. Most people don’t have a problem with getting into their comics and enjoying them.


Webcomics artists don’t have a problem creating new stories or referencing previous material from their own work. R.K. Milholland’s Something*Positive has been around about 13 going on 14 years now. And Randy’s new strips are as fresh as the ones from 2002 when he started. And Jeph Jacques Questionable Content has been great for the past few years it’s been online. Most people don’t have a problem getting into these webcomics and others and following them even though many started YEARS ago.


DC’s veteran Animators didn’t have a problem with the history of DC Comics either. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm had no problem using DC Comics’ rich history to make the DC Animated Universe continuity run smoothly in between five different series. A real testament to quality when you consider the Batman Beyond a series set in the future of the Timmverse started in1999 seamlessly flows right into Justice League which came out in 2001 and Justice League Unlimited which started in 2003. And all these series flow seamlessly into Superman: The Animated Series which started in 1997 and Batman: The Amimated Series which started in 1992. What’s even crazier is that Static Shock which started airing in 2000 also flows just as seamlessly into all of the mentioned DC animated TV series with no problems.


And Greg Weisman had no problem using DC Comics rich history to make Young Justice and The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes animated series fresh and new while he adapted both classic and modern storylines from those comics a few years ago. On Avengers, Wiesman smoothly transitioned from Classic Marvel storylines like the Avengers Origin and the Masters of Evil from the 60’s to modern ones like Secret Invasion and Red Hulk without skipping a single beat. And on Young Justice Weisman took us from the Classic DC Universe, the modern DC Universe, the Milestone Universe and the History of the Teen Titans all while making DC’s young heroes fresh and new for a generation of fans.


All these animated programs featuring both Marvel and DC’s catalogs of characters are easy to follow. Easy to get into. Many even put a fresh take on some of the characters for new audiences.


And even I don’t have a problem writing serialized stories. I use the same approach to storytelling that Marvel and DC’s oldschool creative teams use when I write books and eBooks in the Isis series and the E’steem series. Every story is a single self-contained volume. Every story is its own entry point with its own beginning, middle and end. And events in almost every story connects with events other stories and larger novels like The Temptation of John Haynes seamlessly.


But the writers who work on major comic book characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-man, Captain America and the Hulk today can’t use that same model for creating comics that are consistently fresh and entertaining. Seriously, what is everyone else doing right that Marvel and DC doing wrong?


It’s kind of embarrassing that an unemployed guy working out of his South Bronx bedroom on a shoestring budget can get a model for comic book storytelling to work on self-published books and eBooks but hundreds of employees at PAIR of divisions of a multibillion corporation can’t. Seriously, what are they paying these people for?


Almost everyone working at Marvel and DC from the editors to the interns will tell you: The continuity is too hard to work with. The character’s history is too long and convoluted.  The character’s look is dated. And this is why comics are hard to get into.


Excuses, excuses, excuses as I see it.


Here’s the deal: Maybe it’s not the characters or the continuity. Maybe the people working at Marvel and DC today just SUCK at publishing comics.


The way I see it the story paradigm for comic books isn’t broken. The big problem at Marvel and DC is people keep trying to fix things that aren’t broken in comics in an attempt to fix something else and then break things even further. And the main reason why they keep trying to fix things is because they have no idea how stories work in the comic book medium. That’s what’s leading to the vicious cycle of gimmicks, events retcons, cancellations and reboots at the big two.


Over the last 25 years Marvel and DC’s staff have done everything to solve the problem of their slowing sales. Their catalogs of characters have had dozens of  New costumes. New Logos. New powers. New premises. And a even a few brand New Universes. But the same creative people producing the same old results. Mediocre comics no one wants to buy at prices that get higher every year.


And when things don’t work these same people continue make the same old excuses. It’s the characters and the continuity. The same characters and continuity that worked well for everyone else before them like Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Chuck Dixon, Mark Waid, Alex Ross, George Perez, Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Stan Lee and the late Jack Kirby. The same characters and continuity that would probably work well for me or many of these webcomic artists if we got jobs at Marvel and DC and worked with a competent editorial team leading the brand.


Marvel and DC have a lot of educated and skilled people working for them, but not a lot of craftspeople. Skill is technical, and you can get it in any college or art school, but Craft is something unique, something special. Craft is the combination of talent, skill, and experience that allows someone to instinctively know how to make something in the arts work. I believe if there were more craftspeople working at Marvel and DC they wouldn’t have half the problems they’re encountering right now with continuity and character histories. 


A Craftsperson understands the mechanics of writing and storyboarding. And unfortunately while we have a lot of talented people working at Marvel and DC they haven’t learned the craft of storytelling.


Craftspeople understand the mechanics and nuances of storytelling in a medium like comic books and how to make things work just right. They understand what words to use to set up a scene for an artist. They understand how much dialogue is enough to move a scene forward and where to put a plot point to keep the reader compelled to buy the next issue. They understand how to place the action just so in order for there to be room for the sound effects and the dialogue. They understand what facial expressions will convey the emotions or how to tell the story of an entire book in one single solitary image. When you look at a lot of the comics published at Marvel and DC these days, there’s a lot of words and pictures, but very little craft in them.


And sadly thanks to the excesses of the 1990’s there’s no one experienced enough to teach the craft of comic book storytelling to the next generation of talent working at Marvel or DC. Many of the veteran artists and writers like George Perez and Ron Frenz who used to work at Marvel and DC left are now working and places like Image, Valiant, Boom! Dynamite and Archie.


I’m thinking maybe that’s why their comics are so great these days. The creators know what craft is and instinctively know what makes a great comic book story.


The common denominator at Marvel and DC seem to be the editors and the creative people who and the editors who work there. I’m thinking instead of having another reboot of the characters and their universes, maybe there just needs to be a complete housecleaning at BOTH Marvel and DC. The way I see it The house of No Ideas and their Dysfunctional Competition need new blood and they needed it 10 years ago. Perhaps fresh talent under the direction of a seasoned craftsperson with publishing experience can utilize the histories of the characters and return to giving readers quality comics featuring Marvel and DC’s large catalog of heroes.

CELEBRATING ONE MILLION HITS!





www.shawnsjames.blogspot.com celebrated its one millionth hit this week. And I want to take a moment to thank all my readers all over the world for taking the time to read my blog. I really appreciate all your support.  


I also want to thank all those other bloggers like Bol.tumblr.com wordslikewhoa.com and Journal De La Reyna for sharing links to my site when I posted articles about the African-American community. Thanks to you driving traffic to my page articles I’ve written about Men’s issues, Black women and issues in the Black community reached a larger audience and helped a lot more people around the world.


And all my Facebook friends in groups like Say No to DC Reboot, I love My Comic Nerds, The Black Science Fiction Society, State of Black Science Fiction 2012 and The Good Brothers Side of the Game for reading my blog and sharing its information with other readers.


This blog has come a long way from 2007 and 2008 when I first started it. Originally it was just a place where I posted sample chapters of my books, promoted my work and wrote articles about issues in the Black community. Over the years the blog has grown so much in popularity now people regularly search for it on search engines like Yahoo!, Bing and Google every day. 


It took six years to build an audience of readers and I’m working hard to continue expanding to reach more readers with my writing. Recently I started doing YouTube videos and I’m trying to reach new readers there with content. This week I’m doing an Oscar Week campaign to get more Black people excited about screenwriting. All About Marilyn and an All About Nikki eBook will be FREE all Oscar weekend on Kindle. If you have Prime you can borrow these eBooks right now!

I know the posts have been spotty as of late with doubled up posts, but I’m trying to get the blog back on track. These days I have to do most of my work at the library due to the fact that’s the only place where I can get regular Internet access. I’ve got a lot more articles planned regarding men’s issues, the Black community and the comic book industry. And while I’m writing blogs I’m getting publications ready for the summer reading season. All those books and eBooks that people devour on the beach and the plane during their vacations are prepared in the winter and I’m right in the middle of revising some and writing others. It’s a lot of work, but I’m up for the challenge.


I’m trying to get a lot of projects ready for release like the Isis/E’steem Crossover, and the Stop Simpin Second Edition. I’m also planning another Kickstarter to pay for the covers of the Isis/E’steem Crossover, and I finally got a breakthrough on that new novel I started in 2014.


In addition, I’m working on YouTube videos in an effort to reach those on social media that don’t like to read. The videos feature the same type of content that’s on the blog and I’m finding my voice on social media speaking on topics that mean a lot to me. I’m planning on doing some writing videos soon so more people can understand the craft of writing and the techniques writers like myself use to create stories.


Even though I’ve been out of work for so long all the work I do on this blog and my paperbacks and eBooks is just like a full-time job. I get up at 6AM most days to start work on books blogs and videos. On some nights don’t go to bed until 1 or 2AM. It takes a lot of planning and organizing to put together paperbacks, eBooks and write two to three blogs a week. I have to manage time and a shoestring budget in the hopes of giving readers the best quality reading experience on the blog and in SJS DIRECT publications.


I really want to take a moment and thank those readers out there for helping me reach this milestone. Again, without your support this blog wouldn’t be as popular as it’s become. I’m hoping to keep the momentum going and keep moving forward. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Shawn’s Experience at New York State Jury Duty



I just got through serving Jury Duty at the Bronx County Hall of Justice. And after doing my civic duty I can honestly say it wasn’t a great experience. I was just glad to get the two days done with so I could move on with my life.

I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about the construction of the Bronx County Hall of Justice and after experiencing that building I’ll say they’re true. Elevators that are too small, and courtrooms that are even tinier. Yeah, the light comes in from all the glass panels installed throughout the building. But I’d trade off all that flash for some substance. Things like larger courtrooms, and elevators big enough to hold more than four or five people.

At the Bronx County Hall of Justice the Jury Assembly Room has chairs that are too damn close together. There’s no space for a person to stretch out or even rest their arms. I mean if you’re going to take time out of people’s lives to do their civic duty at least make them comfortable. These seats are packed tight like a sardine can with no room for human legs or arms.


In comparison, the old Jury Assembly room of Bronx Courthouse on the Grand Concourse had chairs that had plenty of support and plenty of space. You didn’t mind spending a few days there.


Yeah, you can bring your laptop to the courthouse these days. But it’s not much of a plus. The Wi-Fi at the Bronx County Hall of Justice is absolutely shitty. I dare to say it’s on par with a 56K modem from 2000. On the second day I was there it kept cutting off and dropping.

Bronx County’s jury duty is SLOW if you get picked for case panels. Things…DRAG. On Tuesday I was chosen to be part of a panel at 11:30. And it literally felt like TIME STOPPED. Being on a jury is a big game of Hurry up and wait. Wait to assemble. Wait to go upstairs. Wait for the courtroom to open up. Wait for the formalities. The Judge introduces himself. The prosecutor introduces themselves. The defense introduces themselves and the defendant. The Judge tells us about the defendant and his crime. Asks some questions. Then He tells us the trial is supposed to be for three weeks. Anyone who has an issue can speak to the judge.


But it’s close to lunchtime. So we break for lunch. We’re supposed to return at 2:15. Things don’t get back on track until 2:45. The Jury spends time waiting. And waiting. The Jury is not seen as a priority. Their time is not seen as valuable. It’s more about legal process and procedure and not about showing us how important


After a long wait, finally I got to speak to the judge at 3:10 and got disqualified from the jury panel. I got given the ticket with my name and told to go back down to the Jury assembly room where I wait a few minutes more to get my Jury certificate. Two days of my life I’ll never get back. But on the plus side I made $40 a day.
I’d have to say my experience at the U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan was MUCH better than at the Bronx County Hall of Justice. The amenities at the Moynihan Courthouse blow the doors off the Bronx County Hall of Justice. Comfortable chairs, TV, and…FREE COFFEE! (well, there’s tea and cocoa,) If the Feds would just get Wi-Fi they’d be PERFECT.

On the judicial side, the Moynihan Courthouse runs like a MACHINE. As soon as you enter the jury assembly room they get right to business. Orientation and then Jurors are sent to panels. The judge and the lawyers get right to business. By the time lunch is over many of the jurors are vetted and the jury is about to get picked. No time is wasted. I wish they’d apply this approach to business at Bronx County.

On top of it the staff at the Moynihan Courthouse are a bit more friendly and provide a bit better customer service to Jurors. State courts employees’ seem apathetic and indifferent; just trying to get through the day. Federal Court workers seem to care about accommodating the jurors and getting making the experience as comfortable as possible, while state workers are more focused on just moving people along. Get em’ in, get em’ out.

If I had to suggest some improvements I’d love to see them space out those seats in the Jury Assembly Room at Bronx County Hall of Justice. It’s like a Got Damn JetBlue plane on there with the lack of leg and elbow room in between them. Yeah, those seats look nice, but they just are uncomfortable to sit in for extended periods of time, especially if you’re carrying a laptop or working with a tablet. I went into their reading room just to get away from those wretched seats.
The Reading Room is a nice open space with lots of room. However, they could use more comfortable chairs though throughout the courthouse. The wooden IKEA-esque seats and those space age benches on the floors look nice, but they are UNCOMFORTABLE to sit in. Who picked these seats? Marquis De Sade?


 And I’d also like for them to fix their Wi-fi so it’s a lot stronger. Wi-fi is a lifesaver when it works well. And the Wi-Fi at Bronx County Courthouse is not great at all. It’s spotty, slow and barely has the speed of a 56K modem. I couldn’t even get basic pictures to load on regular webpages or even Facebook. Great Wi-Fi at Jury Duty would allow guests to watch YouTube videos or stream a movie while Jurors waited to be picked for these panels.

Here’s a hint: Comfortable Jurors are a lot more objective in cases. And if they’re comfortable over 2-3 weeks of a trial they may take more time to

I’m just glad my term of Jury service at the Bronx County Hall of Justice is over.  For Now. If there’s a reason for NOT living in the Bronx, it’s doing a term of Jury service at their courthouse. If I had a choice, I’d take a Federal Jury Duty over a State Court any day. At least the Feds give you comfortable chairs, free coffee and they pay your bus fare in addition to your Jury Allowance. New York State needs to do better by its Jurors. If the State values justice then it needs to show jurors how valuable their time is by providing them with the best experience at its courthouses possible. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

R.K. Milholland’s Super Stupor-A Great Comic More Comic Fans Need To Read


 I’m a big fan of R.K. Millholland’s Something*Positive strip. I discovered the webcomic when I was working at City College’s Science Library back in 2008. And after reading my first strip and having a good laugh one Friday, I’d breezed through the first two years of Something*Positive in two hours! Since then I haven’t missed a Something *Positive strip in the last six years.


In addition to Something*Positive Randy also occasionally publishes two other strips, Rhymes With Witch and Super Stupor. For a few years he self-published a print version of Super Stupor. Usually he’d have a pre-order for them around the time of San Diego Comic Con. And when I had money back in 2009-2011 I made it a point to put in my pre-order for a copy of Super Stupor to show my support for his great work.


And it’d be worth every penny. A few months later I’d get an AWESOME comic with some of the best storytelling in the medium.



uper Stupor follows the adventures of various heroes such as Rumblebee, Arch-Angela and Punchline in the fictional town of Plight Heights. In between the adventures, there’s a lot of satirical humor that pokes fun at the genre of super hero comics in the style of Something*Positive. The humor and the storytelling work well together and make every issue of Super Stupor a boatload of fun to read.   


What makes Super Stupor comics great are the relationships between the characters. Randy has a way of writing that makes you CARE about the heroes and the villains in Plight Heights. The characters are so rich and multidimensional they leap off the page and become people you form a personal connection with. Instead of heroes in costumes you see the people behind the masks.  


One of the best issues in the series is Super Stupor #3 in this issue the survivors of the Cataclysm, an event similar to DC Comics’ Crisis such as Rumblebee Eye-Sore, and the Scaretaker are still trying to sort out their lives years after the event. After you read this comic you’ll never see a reboot or an event comic in the same way again. I highly recommend comic fans pick this one up, it’s a tear-jerker with a brilliant story.



Every issue of Super Stupor is a clinic on comic book storytelling. Randy Milholland is a brilliant writer with great skill in drawing panels and writing dialogue. He should have been hired to write comics for Marvel, DC, Image, one of these print comics publishers out here. He is a master of the craft of comic storytelling in words and pictures. Seeing his guestwork on other webcomics like Queen of Wands, Girls With Slingshots and Shorpacked! he maintains the spirit of other people’s characters while telling stories in his own distinct style. I’d love to see him work with some of Marvel or DC’s characters.


I’m eager to buy Super Stupor #5 whenever it comes out, But in between the daily S*P Strip his travels to comiccons, and Last Trick-or-treaters watercolors, Randy’s schedule is pretty busy. As an indie publisher myself who does everthing, I can understand. Yeah, that Temptation of John Haynes sequel is coming. One of these days. I just need time to write it. Maybe after Isis: Imitation of Life and E’steem: Back to School. Maybe.


I urge you pick up a copy of Super Stupor from Randy’s store. You’re definitely gonna love this series. Every comic you buy helps him pay bills so he can continue to keep publishing great comics. And I really urge everyone to Check out Something*Positive. It’s a great strip that you’ll l get you hooked on the first reading.