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Friday, November 17, 2017

E'steem: Ascencion Sample Chapter

Here's a sample chapter of the Upcoming E'steem: Ascencion, the action packed climax to the first E'steem series story arc! You want to pick this one up, it's a MAJOR turning point for the E'steem character! 

E'steem Ascencion will be coming this Black Friday in paperback & e-Reader Pre-order your copy on Kindle and Smashwords today! 

Chapter 7

A flash of light takes Carol and me from the Morris Phillips Tower to the Java Joint. I can’t wait to share my favorite latte with her.
I’m given a friendly smile as I get the door for Carol. As lead her over to my usual table at the bustling coffee house, Claudius rushes from around the counter and greets us both with a smile. “Welcome to the Java Joint.” Claudius greets. “What cup o’ Joe can I get my two favorite ladies today?”
“Claud is that you?” Carol asks giving him a curious look.
“Yes it is, Mrs. Williams.”
“I thought you had a good job over at Lucerne. What are you doing here?”
“Doing the work of The Lord.”
“Why would he have you working here?”
“Claud runs Demons Anonymous, a support group for Demons who left the Legion.”
Carol gives Claud a curious look. “You left?”
“Yeah. A lot of New Breed demons have left the Legion like E’steem and I have.”
“Aren’t you afraid of the Lord’s wrath?”
Before Claud can answer her question we hear the screams of people outside and hear footsteps scrambling up the street. When we look out the picture window to see what’s going on we barely catch a glimpse of a creature with bat wings before it crashes through the pane of glass in the front of the shop. 
“I don’t think you’re gonna have time to hear the specials.” Claud says.
Why do the monsters always come out when I go to lunch? “I’ll go see what it is. Stay with Carol.”
Claud leads Carol to the back as patrons scramble out of the coffee shop. I jump out of my seat and rush over to confront the creature that flew into the Java Joint. When I meet the reptile eyes of the mocha skinned she-demon wearing a pink T-shirt, blue skinny jeans, and pink sneakers I frown. From the looks of her she’s got herself a major power upgrade. I really don’t want to beat up D’lilah in front of her mother. “Haven’t seen you in a long time.” I say.
“I’ve been busy licking my wounds since your sister beat the crap out of me.”
“So why aren’t you picking a fight with her?”
“Because I’m here to kill you.”
I guess the beef has always been between us. And it looks like she’s looking to finally settle the score once and for all. I make a desperate plea I hope doesn’t fall on deaf ears. “D’lilah, don’t do this.” Not in front of your mother-”
“Don’t tell me you’re gonna wimp out on me now you big nerd.” D’lilah snarls. “Mom really needs to see what a loser you truly are.”
D’lilah lets out a growl and swings at me. I duck the blow and D’lliah and slam a fist into her the gut. I let out a gasp and wince in pain as I shake my fingers. What happened to my powers?
Before I can even ponder an answer to that question I’m given a backhanded slap that turns the room into a blur. The force of the blow is so hard it knocks me out of my shoes and sends me crashing into a bookcase in the back of the coffee house.
My body aches from being hit so hard; I hear footsteps rushing towards me and do everything in my power to get to my feet. Get up girl, get up…

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Getting Back to Basic Superhero Stories in Comics

Monday, November 13, 2017


With the Spinsterella Trilogy finished, I’m getting back into the groove of writing SJS DIRECT Universe titles. I’ve got a lot of great ideas for stories featuring the goddess next door and the Aspiring Angel. And I’m hoping to add a John Haynes series to the mix next year.

I used to write stories for the Isis series and the E’steem series and publish them in the same year. But due to my continuing long-term unemployment and financial issues these days I have a bit of a backlog as related to Isis and E’steem series stories. Right now I have three Isis stories edited and uploaded to CreateSpace and Kindle, and all they need is a cover to be ready for publication. The Bill Walko covers have made a tremendous difference in the way my stories are perceived by customers; they’ve left such a powerful first impression on readers and that’s made me want to hold off on releasing books until I have a quality cover to go on them. That’s what led to the numerous delays in the publishing schedule.

Thanks to donations from readers and YouTube Viewers that paid for the Isis: Samurai Goddess and E’steem: Ascension cover, I’m starting to clear up some of the backlog of manuscripts and getting stories out to readers. And I’m starting to make plans for the future of the SJS DIRECT Universe.

With E’steem: Ascension the first E’steem series story arc is finished. And with her character transformation arc complete, I can now focus on Isis’ and John Haynes’ long-term character transformation arcs as well as plotting E’steem’s second overreaching story arc. With each story all the characters in the SJS DIRECT Universe have been growing and changing as people and the SJS DIRECT Universe has been coming together into an action packed fantasy world filled with positive Black heroes having action packed adventures.

Currently I’m working on outlining the second stage of the SJS DIRECT Universe and setting a course for the characters in it. Right now I’m planning new stories featuring the return of some older villains like The Cybergoddess and creating some new ones like Avarisk, The Tormentor. And I’m outlining E’steem’s first Fantasy Flashback story, one set in Ancient Egypt! I’ve got a lot of great ideas for stories, now I just have to take the time to get to the keyboard to write them.

Back in 2002 when I published the first Isis I never thought I’d get this far. But with God’s help fifteen years later I’m publishing books with covers by professional comic artists and books with quality on the level of any trade publishing house.

I’m still not on the next level yet. But I think I’m making great progress.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Shawn Reviews Dynamite’s Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #2

I was looking forward to buying Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella on Wendesday. Unfortunately I had an ordeal getting a digital copy.

When I went over to the Dynamite’s website to get an official copy, Issue #1 was up at a reduced price, but Issue #2…just wasn’t there. Now I got Issue #1 there on the day of release on Dynamite’s website. But Issue #2 was a chore to find on a digital platform. I had to go all the way over to Comixology .com to pick up a digital copy. With the DRM attached to the comic I’m stuck with a comic I can’t download to a laptop as a .PDF. This is why I wanted to buy my comics at Dynamite’s website!

A note to Dynamite’s Editorial Team:
If people buy the first issue at your website, they want to pick up the second one there as well. I like your comics, and I want to buy more of them. Please don’t make it hard for me to spend my money!

If my customers can buy an SJS DIRECT paperback and digital edition of Legendary Mad Matilda at online booksellers on the day of sale, I should be able to do the same at Dynamite’s website when a new comic comes out too! 

Issue #2 picks up where issue #1 left off, with Cassie and Vlad facing off against the demon the Blood Red Queen of Hearts left them with. The demon has Cassie and Vlad on the ropes. Cassie has a plan to stab the demon in the nuts but demons have no nuts. Thankfully Vampirella comes along to save the day.

With the demon dispatched, our heroes head down to Vampi’s room and we learn more about this Blood Red Queen of Hearts. While she explains the history of the Blood Red Queen to Cassie and Vlad, and their connection to her, Vampi quickly changes out of the dowdy street clothes she wore in the first issue into the CLASSIC and ICONIC red one piece everyone knows. Vlad’s first reaction to it is to…faint.

I guess he was dumbfounded by her beauty.

After Cassie, Vlad and Vampirella get in the van and head down to an abandoned warehouse. There they run into a few more demons that they dispatch of easily. But the Blood Red Queen of Hearts has a surprise for Cassie that leads into a plot twist that sets up the big showdown between Cassie and Vampi everyone’s been waiting for. I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE NEXT ISSUE!

The Second issue of Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella was rock solid in its buildup of the story from the first issue. The action and the pacing of the story were well done, and the character interactions were FUN. I really enjoyed the chemistry between Vlad and Vampirella, and the banter between Cassie and Vlad had some humorous moments. Writer Shawn Aldridge does a great job with the story on Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella and Rapha Lobosco’s art is top notch. This comic was just as much fun as many of the comics I used to buy in the late 1980s from the newsstand in Times Square. The plot twist at the end sets up the showdown of showdowns and I’m definitely buying the next issue in 30 days!

You definitely have to pick up the second issue of Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella. This is the miniseries you definitely DO NOT WANT TO MISS!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Street Clothes Isis model sheet sketch

I had to draw up a model sheet for 2018’s Isis series books Isis: House of Isis and Isis: Escape From Transylvania. In both those stories Isis is featured in street clothes, not her usual New Heliopolitan Kilt and cropped top. With the next four books set in the fall, it’s time for a change of clothes.

When Isis is on the streets of Harlem she usually walks around in blue jeans, a white blouse and a black leather jacket and black leather high heeled Chelsea boots. Her ankh pendant usually sticks out of her open shirt. As the goddess next door this outfit expresses her tomboyishness and allows her to blend in at the same time. Plus, the jeans allow her to be able to use her marital arts skills and move around quickly in a fight.

Decided to play with the hair a bit with this sketch to better convey Isis’ regular hairstyle. Isis’ hair is a mix of straight Egyptian styled bangs in the front and a big head filled with bushy curls in the back. Business in the front, party in the back.  

Also decided to do a quick head sketch to show how her hair is filled with big bushy bouncy curls. Yeah, the Ankh pendant is a mess, but what I was trying to do with this sketch is show how her hair is big and bouncy.

Right now I’m outlining new Isis series stories and working on a new Isis series adventure. I’m hoping to feature this design on the covers of Isis: Escape From Transylvania and Isis: House of Isis later this year. But all that depends on me getting enough donations to pay for the covers! You can help with a donation to PayPal or Patreon!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Legendary Mad Matilda Now Available in paperback & On E-Readers

The Legendary Mad Matilda
ISBN-13: 978-1548070397

It’s Not How She Falls…

“Mad” Matilda Crowley has become an urban legend in New York City’s Goth scene. Known for her outrageous underground parties where anything can happen, Matilda gets caught up in her own raving insanity when she’s arrested at one of her own parties in a police raid.

 After she’s released from jail, Matilda learns it’ll take legendary discipline, courage, and character to her rebuild her life. Can a lady get back up? Or has she taken her last dive off the stage of life?

You can pick up The Legendary Mad Matilda along with the two previous novels in the Spinsterella Trilogy Spinsterella and Spellbound at Online booksellers today!

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Legendary Fashions of Mad Matilda

It’s 24 hours until the official release of The Legendary Mad Matilda and I thought I’d share some concept sketches of some of Mattie’s outfits she wears in the book.

Legendary Mad Matilda is set in 1995, and with this book being about Matilda figuring out what she wants to do with her life, I thought her fashion would be a bit more varied than the Black Widow outfits she wore in Spellbound. With her being a part Industrial Rave scene at night and doing internships during the day, she’s trying on different outfits and different styles of Goth fashion and finding what fits her. With all the outfits in the story I wanted them to be something anyone could put together with clothes, shoes and accessories they could get at a thrift shop, a Rainbow, a Gap Macy*s or any other store.

I didn’t want the outfits in any of the Spinsterella Trilogy books to be super fancy or elaborate like the ones I see from Killstar and PunkRave. So I kept all the looks simple. The way I see it clothes are supposed to make a statement about YOU, and it’s how YOU put them together that makes STATEMENT about YOU. A person with CONFIDENCE can make a $5 dress look better than one that costs $500!

This outfit is what Matilda wears in the opening scene. When Mad Matilda hits the stage to host a Rave she wears an industrial look with a modded T-shirt, shorter skirt, spiked collars, spiked cuff bracelets and platform boots. Paired with her pigtails It’s an aggressive look that gets the attention of a Rave crowd and gets them into the party. 

This summer outfit is one Matilda wears later in several chapters of the book. For this look I was inspired by the dress and straw hat Lydia Deetz wears in some of the earlier scenes in Beetlejuice. I thought a boxy linen shirtdress, a wide brimmed straw hat and a pair of Italian leather thong sandals would help keep a ghoul cool when she was out an about in New York City.

This outfit featuring a Catholic school uniform is one Matilda mentioned in Spinsterella. It’s one she talks about wearing during her early days in The Pit. The pigtails she wears in this outfit are straight not teased, to symbolize her transitioning from the club scene to corporate America.

The Legendary Mad Matilda will be available in Paperback and e-readers Tomorrow! Get your copy at!

Monday, October 23, 2017

John Diggle is the New Green Arrow…WTF?

Just when I thought it was safe to watch Arrow again….Greg Berlanti pulls a swerve.

Damn. Just Damn. I should have known that Season Premiere was too good to be true.

On last week’s episode of Arrow, Oliver Queen decides to stop being Green Arrow so he can raise his son. And taking his place will be John Diggle. The same John Diggle who has been set up to be a scared brotha over the last two episodes.


Yeah, we get a Black Green Arrow, but he’s beings set up to be played this season’s minstrel by Greg Berlanti. Instead of us getting a bumbling stumbling Mr. Terrific we’re gonna get a cowardly incompetent Negro Green Arrow who fucks up on the job.

I love how they want to bring Isis on to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow to take a jab at Donald Trump for being Islamaphobic but can’t see how racist they’re being by presenting the world with a grossly unqualified Black man as Green Arrow. But liberals lime Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti can never see how hypocritical they are about racism.

It seems like Greg Berlanti finds new and creative ways to emasculate and degrade Black men on his shows. In making John Diggle the new Green Arrow he passive aggressively takes another shot at Black men. Yeah, we get a Black Green Arrow, but he’s grossly unqualified for the job. So white racist fanboys can enjoy watching a Black man be presented in a way that makes him appear to be incapable of being a hero on the same level as a White man.

John Diggle is NOT qualified to be Green Arrow. While he has a wealth of military and combat experience dude has never shot an arrow in his life. So why make him Green Arrow?

To make a Black man look like a complete FOOL on TV that’s why. And to set it up to show why the White man is superior in the role of being the hero on the show when Oliver comes back later in the season.

Seriously, why couldn’t they just hire someone else to play Roy Harper? Have him put on the Green Arrow suit. Have him be the outsider who has friction with the new Outsiders- I mean Team Arrow. Roy was right at Ollie’s side in Seasons 1-3. He learned archery and all the martial arts and hand-to hand skills from Oliver. There’s a great story to tell about him having friction leading the new team and getting used to life in Star City again. And a great story about Oliver clashing with Roy over his approaches to being Green Arrow.

It’s a shame that Greg Berlanti just can’t get over his issues with Black men. Because Arrow season 6’s premiere was on par with oldschool Marvel Studios movies like Iron Man in terms of storytelling and setup. I believe this show could start finding its legs if Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenhiem could leave their issues with Black men out of the scripts and focus on the action and adventure. As I see it, Arrow is this close to actualizing its potential as a show. But the only thing keeping the show from getting to the next level creatively are the issues the producers have with Black men. 

And The Legendary Mad Matilda is Now Available for pre-order on Kindle, Smashwords & the iBookstore!

The Legendary Mad Matilda will be coming this Halloween to paperback & e-readers. However, it’s now available for pre-order on Kindle, Smashwords, Nook and the iBookstore. If you use digital platforms like e-readers, tablets, and Smartphones, you can reserve the conclusion of the Spinsterella trilogy today!

Friday, October 20, 2017

E’steem: Ascension Cover by Bill Walko

I got another donation from a YouTube viewer this September and I used that money to pay Bill Walko to design the AWESOME cover for E’steem: Ascension. This cover pays homage to George Perez and Chris Marrinan’s BEAUTIFUL cover on Wonder Woman Vol 2. #36. Bill did an AMAZING job of paying Homage to George Perez, one of the greatest artists to grace the comic book medium.

I thought the story on that Perez/Marrinian Wonder Woman cover was PERFECT to showcase E’steem finally rising to another level in her relationship with Christ and the image of E’steem flying over Manhattan Island would be a great contrast to Paradise Island. In the Wonder Woman comic the cover is inspired by, the story is about a change in the direction of Diana’s life, and in E’steem: Ascension, the E’steem character is going to go through a major change in her life. BIG CHANGES are coming to the E’steem character next year; so you’ll definitely want to tighten up your chinstrap when you pick up the next E’steem series book!

There’s a lot I love about this cover, from E’steem’s sexy red dress to the buildings in the background it really POPS. And Bill did an AMAZING job of capturing some of the likeness of Salli Richardson-Whitfield, the actress who was the inspiration for E’steem. It looks just like an animation cel for a prime-time Morning cartoon (we can’t put E’steem on Saturday mornings with all her wardrobe malfunctions); every time I look at it I get PUMPED for an E’steem animated series with Salli Richardson Whitfield as the voice of E’steem!

Longtime readers will definitely want to pick up E’steem: Ascension because it’s the conclusion of the first E’steem series story arc. This book is the climax of several storylines that have been building up over the last seven years. Readers who have been following E’steem since the first Isis in 2002 and The Temptation of John Haynes in 2011 and the Isis and E’steem series will finally see E’steem’s character transformation arc come to a satisfying conclusion.

And new readers will definitely want to jump on with this story. Because it lays the foundation for some exciting new storylines that are going to be starting in the SJS DIRECT Universe in 2018. Then they’ll want to pick up the previous E’steem series books to see how E’steem’s journey from demon to diva started.

E’steem: Ascension will be available in Paperback and e-readers on Black Friday this November. And don’t forget the conclusion to the Spinsterella Trilogy, The Legendary Mad Matilda will be coming out this Halloween!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Thoughts on the Black Panther Trailer-I'M NOT IMPRESSED

I caught the Black Panther trailer at the library on Monday.

 And I’m still NOT impressed.

From what was presented in the Black Panther trailer it’s looking like a major disappointment. Flat visuals, uninspired acting and a predictable storyline I’ve seen a Kajillion times. There wasn’t a single thing presented in that two minutes that would persuade me to pay for a movie ticket to see this movie.

Black Panther’s story looks to be by the numbers. Sellout Killmonger is trying to challenge Real Brotha T’Challa, for the throne of Wakanda so he and The Evil White Man Klaw can plunder the nation’s resources and get all the Vibranium out of the great mound to sell to White folks.

Meh. But what can I expect from the company that produces Minstrel shows like Scandal and The Mayor?

If Marvel Studios wants my $15 they’re gonna have to give me a better story than a re-hash of a 1970s Blaxploitaition movie with some warmed over special effects from nine-year old Marvel Studios movies like Iron Man and Captain America: Civil War.

I’m starting to see why Ava DuVernay walked away from this movie. Clearly Disney didn’t want to put any real effort in their story or present something unique. From the flat uninspired visuals and one-dimensional acting. From what I’ve seen onscreen the Director of Fruitvale Station is WAY out of his depth. Again, I see more frames of him telling instead of showing, and his characters don’t become people with any sort of depth, dimension, personality or “voice”. There’s nothing special about them. Nothing to make me like anyone. Nothing to make me CARE about anything in this movie.

Yeah, Black Panther features Black characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But that’s all they are. Black.

I’m sorry that’s not good enough for me. If Blade could give viewers a strong Black hero and a compelling story in visually strong film in 1997, then why can’t Black Panther give us MORE in 2017?

As a Black fantasy and sci-fi fan, I want MORE from a superhero movie featuring an African American character than them just being Black. I want a rich story filled with depth and substance. Multidimensional characters. Original special effects. A fresh take on a Black superhero that makes everyone take a look at Black culture and see something special. That’s something I don’t see on the screen of Black Panther.

I know it’s possible to give Black audiences MORE. Because I do it with every book that I publish. When I write I dig deeper looking for that richer story, something that puts a fresh take on Black culture and the Black fantasy genre.  When I write a story I want it to be special. Something unique. Something that opens up a readers’ imagination and see the Black world from a different perspective. Something that makes them think.

I believe if I made a Temptation of John Haynes movie I know it’d BLOW THE DOORS off what was presented onscreen calling itself a Black Panther Movie.

 If that’s the Black Panther trailer I know the film will be par for the course for the growing list of mediocre projects at Marvel Studios. Ever since Luke Cage got shot with a Judas bullet Marvel Studios has been losing its way creatively. If Kevin Feige doesn’t get it together I’m having a feeling that Avengers: Infinity War is gonna be the LAST Marvel Studios movie we see. Period.

Many people in the Black community want Black Panther to be an epic. However, there’s nothing to make me believe this movie will be epic. To say it was made by a Black director and a Black screenwriter is a disappointment. There was little imagination in that trailer, and very little creativity. Nothing to POP and make you think this film is distinct. Black Panther looks like looks like something cut and pasted from a dozen Marvel Studios films with a bunch of stock Blaxploitation characters with the names of Marvel characters cut and pasted onto them. From the Uncle Tom Killmonger, to the Evil White Man Klaw, to Black Momma, Black Panther is paint by the numbers. Black audiences deserve better than this.

I was on the fence about buying a ticket for Black Panther. But from what I saw onscreen it’s looking more and more like a PASS. Yeah, I want to support a Black Superhero movie. But I want a GREAT Black superhero movie. One people will be talking about for generations.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Thoughts on the Arrow Season 6 Premiere

I’ve sworn off most CW Comic book Shows because they suck donkey balls. However, after that KICKASS Season finale of Arrow last year, I said I’d check out the season premiere when it came on in the fall. And it does not disappoint. With the way things are going I have to wonder if Arrow is finally starting to hit its stride.

The premiere opens strong with The Outsiders- I mean Team Arrow taking down a group of mercenaries who have aimed a missile at Star City. The team makes light work of the mercs But Ollie gets hemmed up before the boss launches the missile. However, Mr. Terrific takes out the guidance system with a T-Sphere. To my surprise Mr. Terrific actually presented as competent for once instead of a being a bumbling stumbling idiot. I guess Greg Berlanti finally started listening to fans, or he started reading some of the blogs I wrote roasting the misinterpretation of this great character.

Also I’m not a fan of Wild Dog’s new outfit. Yeah, it’s all tactical and shit, but it’s not what Max Alan Collins and Terry Beatty envisioned him as. Wild Dog’s costume didn’t need no fixing!

There’s a brief flashback sequence where we find out what happened on the island in the aftermath of the big explosion. With the story detailing Ollie’s past over it looks like the flashback sequences are gonna be the aftermath of Chase blowing up the island. Great, because there’s a wealth of story material there and I’m eager to see how it relates to what goes on this season.

After the takedown of the bad guys, the action shifts to the Star City P.D. where Dinah is interrogating one of the masterminds of the missile plot. She asks where Larry is. After she goes to get a soda for the criminal he’s left with an Asian cop because...Diversity. The Asian cop sits there as the guy takes out one of his teeth, puts it in the soda and it blows up the interrogation room. Mercs come in, kill cops and blow up the stationhouse and we find out the mastermind really is….Black Siren. Interesting choice for this year’s villain.

And while all this is happening Larry Lance is at a bar pondering whether or not he should have a drink or three. Because in a flashback sequence he shot at Laurel from Earth 2 and that made him think of killing his own daughter. After Dinah and Larry talk, it’s speculated that Larry is Black Siren’s target because he tried to kill her. 

The Outsiders- I mean Team Arrow go to take her down on a stretch of highway. In the second bout with The Outsiders- I mean Team Arrow and the mercs and Black Siren, we learn John Diggle is having some problem with shooting people. I find it interesting how Berlanti expresses his racism in passive aggressive ways this year instead of overtly. First the Asian cop gets blown up, then Wild Dog gets injured due to Diggle hesitating in a combat situation due to what seems to be PTSD. So in order to give us a competent Mr. Terrific we have to have Wild Dog injured and Spartan presented as a Scared Brotha.

 Damn. Just Damn.

But I guess you can’t have two competent Black guys in one TV show, because that’d make some of the racist White male fanboys feel inadequate about seeing two strong, intelligent masculine Black men onscreen in their superhero show.

As the episode goes on, we get some more subplots setup. Slade going on the quest to find his son. What happened to Thea (She in a Coma) and Ollie’s baby mama (She Dead). And the strained relationship between Oliver and his son. While Oliver goes to make a speech at the graduation of a Police academy class, Diggle is at the Arrowcave and The Outsiders-I mean Team Arrow are with him looking to protect Larry Lance who they believe is the target of Black Siren. However in a plot twist, they attack the Arrowcave. Scared Brotha Diggle tries to hold his own but his issues with whatever trauma he experienced on the island keep him from shooting anyone.

That’s the only thing about this premiere that makes no sense to me. After spending years fighting in military combat and at Ollie’s side all of a sudden Diggle is now terrified to use his gun. I’m sure they’ll explain it later in the season, but it just looks like Berlanti is just finding a way to passive aggressively emasculate Diggle and present him as a scared brotha because he can’t give us a bumbling stumbling Mr. Terrific. Seriously, I wish dude would get over whatever issues he has with Black men. Because it’s sucking the life out of all his shows.

With Diggle jammed up, Green Arrow comes in and saves the day. After setting off some charges, Black Siren and her mercs clear out of the cave. At the end of the episode we find out the only thing taken was an unprogrammed T-Sphere and it’s revealed on the news that Oliver Queen is The Green Arrow on Channel 52 news.

BOMBSHELL. Guess I gotta tune in for next week’s episode. 

Overall it was a very rock solid season premiere for Arrow season 6. The writing was TIGHT in this one, and it setup several very interesting storylines for the year. This Season Premiere felt more like a comic book come to life than any season of Arrow ever produced.

While I’m done with CW’s Supergirl, The Flash Legends of Tomorrow and Riverdale, I’ll stick around for a few more episodes of Arrow. Season 6 is starting strong and it looks like the writers have finally figured out how to make a DC Comic come to life onscreen. If they can payoff all the storylines they set up in the season premiere we may be in for the best season of Arrow EVER.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Thoughts on New York Comic Con 2017

Yeah, this blog is a week late. But I needed a minute to digest all the sights I saw at New York ComicCon last Thursday. And I saw a LOT at this year’s show. It was so much I had to keep from having sensory overload.

I had a GREAT time at New York Comic Con. I Saw Austin St. John of the Power Rangers, Wrestlers Ted Dibiase, and Ron Simmons, and a bunch of cool Goth stuff like a Tea & Absinthe booth and people selling Steampunk top hats, goggles and Corsets.

And I saw kids. Lots and lots of kids. Kids having a good time. Kids having FUN. The place was Jam packed. On a Thursday. The slowest day of a con. And it was Jam packed with CHILDREN.

Moreover I saw lots and lots of families. Families who were having a good time. Families who were sharing their childhood hobbies and their favorite characters with their kids. The whole Javits Center smelled like popcorn and smiles. However, in August the comic book industry reported the lowest sales in its history.

Clearly there’s a disconnect between the comic publishers and the audience they sell to. And from what I’ve seen for YEARS and many indie creators see at cons, the audience is there to revive the industry and get it out of the 25-year slump it’s currently in.

But most Comic publishers still have their heads up their collective rear ends.

Here’s my question to Dan Didio and Axel Alonso and all the publishers in the comic book industry: If there are so many families and children going to events like New York comicon and Spending billions of dollars watching superhero movies, WHY THE HECK AREN’T YOU PRODUCING CONTENT FOR THEM?

From what I saw at the New York Comic Con there’s a HUGE audience ready willing and able to buy comics out there. An entire new generation of potential fans waiting to get into Marvel and DC Comics and the indies. Money in the bank.

But no one will produce content for them.


The big problem with the comic book industry is that they’re still stuck in the past. DC is stuck in a two going 3-year storyline to fix 11 years of problems Dan Didio Created. And Axel Alonso is trying to sell comics to SJWs who are too busy downloading free eBooks on Kindle and Smashwords.

Meanwhile the rest of us who love comics have been waiting patiently for content that’s appealing to families and children. Content that’s PG-13. Content that’s easy to access and fun to read.  Content that’s FUN.

It’s clear that the audience is there, but the content isn’t. And most publishers are so hellbent on publishing what they want they can’t see the audience waiting to spend money with them.

Clearly the audience is there for comic books. And most parents want the iconic versions of characters they remember to share with their kids. But most publishers want to ram their New N’ Improved versions down people’s throats even though no one recognizes them and most people reject them.

And that’s where the short circuit is between comic publishers and the audience.  Someone has to reconnect the audience to the product. But it ain’t gonna be Dan Dido or Axel Alonso. Events like Rebirth and Legacy aren’t going to bridge the gap between the next generation of readers and publishers because they feature more of the same dysfunctional storytelling readers are tired of.

Comic publishing is a business. A business that sells product by word-of mouth. It’s hard to get word of mouth going when people just can’t recognize the product. People want the heroes they grew up with Superman with Red Trunks, a Spider-Man who’s Peter Parker and parents and kids feel comfortable about reading.

From what I saw at Comic Con I know that there are millions of kids and adults on the sideline waiting to get into the hobby or get back into the hobby. And all they’re waiting for is someone to break out of the endless cycle of yearlong events, reboots and relaunches and just give readers great comics. The audience I saw at New York Comic Con showed me that money is waiting to be made selling comics and all the industry needs is one person to have the courage to go out and make it. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Shawn Reviews Dynamite’s Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #1

 When I first saw the promos for Dynamite’s Hack Slash vs. Vampirella in August I was intrigued. With two of my favorite indie comic characters featured in a story together at one of my favorite publishers I had to take a look. And after reading the first issue I’m counting down the days until the next one. This comic was so much fun it reminded me of why I got into comics back in High school back in the 1980’s.

In the first issue we’re introduced to Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad in a way that makes the characters accessible to new readers. Cassie and Vlad are on vacation from hunting slashers in Vegas and they run into a grisly murder scene where a man has had his heart cut out of his chest. When she hears it’s the second murder in as many days Cassie is intrigued, However Vlad insists they’re on vacation. They head to the sleazy dive motel to settle in. After bantering about the one eyed bandit with Cassie, Vlad falls asleep. And a curious Cassie goes to the hotel where the murder happened to investigate.

After doing some canvassing in the casino, Cassie heads up to the hotel room where the murder occurred to look for clues into the murders where she finds…Vampirella. The splash page introducing her had great art, unfortunately the dowdy outfit Vampirella was wearing just wasn’t anything a woman would wear. No woman wears jeans tucked into tall boots in the Vegas heat.

Note to Dynamite’s editorial department: When you’re introducing your heroes in the first issue of a story you want them presented in a way that leaves a strong first impression on readers and lets them be recognized from the first panel. You did a great job introducing Cassie and Vlad in their civilian/iconic looks, and you should have done the same with your franchise heroine Vampirella. Usually before I write an Isis or an E’steem story and I want to do a chapter with them in a civilian look, I check out a Boden, Victoria’s Secret or a J. Crew catalog to see how women are dressing. That T-shirt, jeans, and tall boots look was a fashion DON’T.

Cassie and Vampirella have a confrontation and Vlad steps in. We get a great showcase of Vlad’s stealth skills and Vampirella’s powers before she leaves and hotel security shows up. After Cassie and Vlad give the guards a fist full of Ambien, The mystery of the Blood Red Queen of Hearts deepens and by the last page Cassie and Vlad confront the Blood Red Queen who leaves them a nice friendly demon to fight. And Shawn is eager to see how slasher hunters beat a demon in 30 days!

Yeah, this first issue was mostly setup. But the plotting, pacing, and artwork are extremely well done in this comic. The first issue of Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella does a great job of introducing the main characters, what they want to do and gives us a reason to care about buying the next issue in 20 pages. This first issue had me wanting more, and that’s what a good comic should do, have you anticipating buying the next.

I loved the first issue of Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella. However, I wish the story didn’t play it so safe. While the story is fun, it’s a little by the numbers. I’d like to have seen Shawn Aldridge put a little panache on his storytelling so we can see a little of his personality on the page. Usually when I’m writing an Isis or an E’steem story I try to put some of my fingerprint on a story with the premise or the storytelling approach to make the story fresh and compelling for readers and to let the reader know they’re reading a Shawn James story.

But I can understand why Dynamite was conservative with its story model for this miniseries. You don’t want to alienate the fans of two popular comic book franchises by giving them something that has heroes acting out of character. And Shawn Aldridge does a solid job of keeping all these franchise characters consistent in their personality, characterizations and “voices” in Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella. I believe with another round of edits to fix a few minor issues this good comic could have been GREAT. 

Usually crossover comics suck. But Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella starts out strong without any of the continuity baggage that usually bogs down franchise crossovers and makes them a chore to read. The first issue of Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella is an easy entry point for both new readers and longtime fans and is a boatload of fun to read. I highly recommend you pick up the first issue. This miniseries looks like it’s going to be a winner!