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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Customer Service Issues In the Comic Book Industry

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Legendary Mad Matilda Model Sheet

I spent another Saturday night drawing. And I finally did a model sheet for Mad Matilda as she appeared in the first twenty or so chapters of my upcoming novel, The Legendary Mad Matilda.

This full body sheet is based on the cover concept for The Legendary Mad Matilda, and shows the entire outfit she wore for VampJam 95. As the Queen of the Industrial Goth Raves Mad Matilda has a more aggressive look than the elegant one she wore as The Black Widow in Spellbound or the more businesslike one she wore in Spinsterella.

Industrial Goth looks usually feature DIY modded T-shirts, short skirts, spiked collars and cuffs and platform boots, and wild out there hairstyles. And to make Mad Matilda’s stand out, I went with different shading techniques so she wouldn’t be wearing a solid block of black. Goths often use textures and shades of black to break up the black, and I used that technique to make the blacks on Mattie’s outfit stand out in a crowd.

I drew inspiration for Mad Matilda’s Industrial Rave look from many of the outfits I saw Goth YouTubers like Amy Nekrotique, It’s Black Friday and Ligiea Resurrected wearing in their videos. The pigtails were inspired by the one YouTuber Rose Nocturnaila used to wear in several of her videos. And with the story set during the time where Mattie was in her Goth prime I had to incorporate V-bangs as part of her look. Because V-bangs are AWESOME.

The platforms in this design are a lot more elaborate than in previous sketches. Taking a look at several New Rock boots online, I decided to make Mattie’s footwear a bit more elaborate. New Rock Goth boots often use texture and shades to stand out, and I tried to present that in her boots. They kind of have a Jack Kirby vibe to em’ but that fits right in with the Industrial look Mad Matilda wears at her raves. These are based on the tall New Rock platforms with the springs in them; I think they’d be the kind of crazy footwear an Industrial Rave Queen would wear when she hosted her shows.  

Work on The Legendary Mad Matilda is FINISHED. The manuscript is edited, pages are laid out and the paperback and eBook are uploaded to CreateSpace, Kindle, and a Smashwords edition has been formatted. All I need to release this book is money to pay for the cover. So if you can donate anything to my Paypal or my Patreon, I can get this book out by the end of the year!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Black Single Mothers Can't Teach The Unwritten Rules for Black Men

Monday, July 17, 2017

Bakari Henderson & The Unwritten Social Rules For Black Men

A week ago Bakari Henderson was murdered outside of a bar in Greece by a mob of Serbian men after taking a selfie with a White waitress. While his death was a tragedy it could have been prevented if this young brotha understood the unwritten social rules regarding being a Black man in the world.

Barkari Henderson like many young Black males who grew up over the last 20 years grew up believing the lies about a “post-racial” America and a world that’s a “Rainbow”. And because they have some White friends they think that they’re free to do whatever they please wherever they please just like White people.

That’s a lie that cost Bakari Henderson his life. And it can cost many other young brothers their lives if they don’t understand it too.

When it comes to Black men, the world works differently for us than it does for White men, White women, and even Black women. And a Black man has to know how to set a course for himself to avoid the dangers around him.

Because Bakari Henderson grew up believing that he lived in the world of the “Rainbow” with his White friends he never taught that a Black man has a target on his back the minute he steps foot outside of his house. And that target grows larger when he travels abroad to places like Greece.

When a Black man goes out of his house he is on his own behind enemy lines. And when he goes into someone else’s country he is in the center of enemy territory. So a Smart Black man knows to watch his back and watch himself in his social interactions with both White and nonblack people. Because the wrong look, or the wrong move in a place like a store can lead to a Black man getting locked up or it can put him six feet under.

A Black man taking a selfie with a White waitress may be something innocent in some of the more liberal parts of America. But in some of the southern, midwest and western parts of America and abroad that kind of action can cost a Black man his life. Seeing him take that selfie with that White waitress was all the reason those Serbian racists needed to go on the warpath. These Beta White Knights saw a nigger in their bar with their woman in their country acting like a White man. And they sought to send a message to all the other niggers around the world regarding their women.

What happened to Bakari Henderson was no different than what Carolyn Bryant’s husband and brother and law when they planned to murder Emmit Till back in the 1950s. Those Serbs literally lynched him all for taking a picture with a White woman.

And just like 14-year-old Emmitt Till didn’t understand the unwritten social rules regarding racism in the Jim Crow South in the 1950s, 22-year old Bakari Henderson didn’t understand them about traveling abroad in European countries in 2017.

The times may have changed. But the racism is still the same. Bakari Henderson didn’t get the survival skills a Black man needs from his parents. And that cost him his life.

A Black man has to understand at an early age he can’t do the same things that White men, Hispanic Men, Asian Men, White Women Black women or Nonblack women can do in the world. They’ll always have social privileges and freedoms he’ll never have. Thanks to White Supremacy, he’ll always be perceived as an enemy and a threat. So he has to do things to minimize the danger to himself. That’s why it’s important for a Black boy to learn all the unwritten social rules regarding Black men in a White Supremacist world from an early age. Because the earlier he learns those rules, the earlier he knows how to avoid life-threatening situations like the ones Bakari Henderson and Emmitt Till wound up in.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Legendary Mad Matilda Sample Chapter

I’ve been busy reading over my new Goth YA novel on The Legendary Mad Matilda. And I’ve got another chapter of the final chapter of the Spinsterella Trilogy to share with readers. This one takes you into some of the craziness of one of Mad Matilda’s parties! 

Chapter 8

My heart pounds in my chest as Ebony Darkness leads me through the crowds and down the hall over to some more bathrooms on the far side of the warehouse. I’m hoping what she has to show me isn’t bad enough to make me end the show early.
I push past the creaky door of the abandoned men’s room praying not to see something truly macabre. My heart stops when I see a babybat, barely fourteen years old dressed in mismatched thrift store clothes, bad eyeliner, and teased out hair slumped on the floor under the bathroom sink. “Oh my God!” I gasp rushing over to her.
I look into the girl’s glazed over eyes and quickly recognize the drug she’s on. Ecstasy. “Are you all right?”
“You’re Mad Matilda!” She babbles. “Man, I can’t believe I’m actually talking to Mad Matilda!”
This isn’t the way I wanted to be recognized by a fan. “Yeah, are you okay sweetie?”
“I’m okay. See-”
The girl tries to get to her feet and stumbles back down to the floor. Shit, she’s high out of her mind. “What happened?”
The girl manages to get enough of her faculties to tell me her story. “I was feeling nervous. And a guy said he could give me something to make me feel better.”
“Blue pills?”
“Yeah...” The girl says as her hands creep towards her purse.
I reach into her purse and take out a couple of blue pills. Just like I thought. Ecstasy. “Where did you get these?”
“From a skinny Puerto Rican guy in a leather jacket.” 
That sounds like Louie Escobar. I told that asshole he was persona non-grata at my shows. Looks like he’s here to make a fast dollar peddling pills at the expense of babybats. I catch the sick look on the kid’s face and realize she took more than one. “Ebony, I need you to get her to St. Luke’s-”
“But that’s all the way on Morningside-”
With all the drugs she’s taken we don’t have a moment to lose. “The faster she gets her stomach pumped, the faster she can start feeling better.”
“What are you gonna do?”
“I’m gonna have it out with Louie.”

The Legendary Mad Matilda will be out…whenever I get enough money to pay an artist to design the cover. I’m hoping it’s sooner rather than later. You can help me get this book to the marketplace by donating $1 or more to my Paypal or my Patreon. In the meantime you can read the other two books in the Spinsterella Trilogy Spinsterella and Spellbound in paperback or e-readers today!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Spinsterella Fan Art

I recently received a piece of digital fanart from a digital artist called rundotexe. And after they saw Bill Walko’s Isis covers he wanted to design his interpretation of Matilda Crowley, the lead character in Spinsterella.

I love this image because it looks just like I imagined Matilda as she came down the stairs to announce that “The Lady has returned to the manor” in Spellbound. It clearly shows every one that you don’t need to have a pale skintone to wear a Goth look and that Black women can be Goth and FABULOUS while being spooky.

There’s a lot I love in this piece, from the slight resemblance to Tia Mowry (one of the inspirations for Matilda), to the nuanced reference to Monster High. Monster High was one of my favorite toy lines (before the reboot) and I drew a lot of inspiration from it for many characters including Matilda. I have to wonder if they read Spinsterella and Spellbound and if they read my blogs and my YouTube Videos, because everything I talked about regarding Mattie is in this image.

Seeing this digital has me thinking a Monster High Spinsterella doll would look AWESOME on store shelves. Let’s make it happen Mattel!

I know I said I’d feature fanart in future eBooks, but I’m seriously considering putting this piece on the refresh cover of Spinsterella. As far as I’m concerned this IS Matilda Crowley!

I’d love to have this artist design the cover for the final book in the Spinsterella Trilogy, The Legendary Mad Matilda. If I can get in touch with this artist and we can work something out, I’d love to see their art grace both covers. The only thing holding up Legendary Mad Matilda is the cover, and if I can get the cover straight, I can get that book out by this Halloween!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Shawn Reviews Spider-Man: Homecoming

I got a chance to take in Spider-Man: Homecoming at the Magic Johnson this Saturday at a Matinee showing. And for the first time in nine years I was deeply disappointed in what I saw onscreen calling itself a Marvel Studios film. Yeah, there was a character named Peter Parker who fights crime as Spider-Man onscreen, but he acted NOTHING like the character from the comic books I grew up with. Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man is nothing more than Miles Morales with Peter Parker’s name on him.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is supposed to tell the story of Peter Parker in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After making his a strong first appearance in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man Homecoming was supposed to take us into Peter Parker’s corner of the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately, Peter Parker’s world looks too much like Miles Morales’ world, not his own Peter Parker now lives in the projects and all the core characters of Spider-Man’s whitebread part of the Marvel universe have been replaced with Social Justice Warrior diversity hires. Peter’s Best friend is a fat Pacific Islander. Flash Thompson is an Indian. Liz is black and MJ is biracial. The store Peter gets his sandwiches from is run by an Arab. There’s no Daily Bugle, no Robbie Robertson, No J. Jonah Jameson. Instead of working afterschool by taking pictures of himself, Peter works for Tony Stark in an “internship”. All of this is meant to make Spider-Man’s world appear more diverse and more real world, but it just doesn’t feel like the Spider-Man I grew up with. It feels like Peter Parker from an alternate SJW universe, not the REAL Marvel Universe.

The story for Spider-Man: Homecoming was hard for me to get into thanks to all the continuity baggage from previous films. Eight years after the Chutari invaision, Adrian Toomes and the employees of his salvage company are put out of work by Tony Stark and Damage Control, and that’s what’s supposed to lead to him turning to crime. And Spider-man is trying to find his way after the events of Captain America: Civil War. After stopping a robbery at an ATM he soon becomes aware of the Chutari tech and the Vulture’s operation. In his first big case he’s supposed to try to stop the Vulture from selling Chutari Tech to criminals. Unfortunately, thanks to all the continuity baggage I just didn’t have a reason to CARE about this story.

Thanks to the poorly written script I didn’t know whether or not to sympathize for Toomes or to hate him. And while Spider-Man bumbled around in his first attempts at being a superhero it didn’t really make me relate to him or connect with him onscreen.

Yeah, Spider-Man is finally a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But he’s NOT the Peter Parker we all know and love. He’s somebody else. And he’s not someone I think I want to see in another movie. Having Tony make Peter’s costume just doesn’t work for me. That’s Terry McGuiness’ shtick from Batman Beyond. Part of the charm of Spider-Man is that he’s this intelligent guy who can make his own stuff. Spider-Man is the guy who learned super-heroing on his own and created stuff on the fly to deal with problems. Watching his suit have web-wings, drones, its own artificial intelligence, and video recorders impedes his ability to be creative and resourceful. Seeing Peter interact with his suit didn’t make me think of Peter Parker, the intelligent kid who could think for himself. Instead I thought of Terry McGuiness the guy who works for Bruce Wayne.

Just like Iron Man’s armor in this movie, the film feels unfinished and incomplete.  Spider-Man: Homecoming feels like unfinished odds and ends of past Marvel Studios movies and ancillary MCU characters like Happy Hogan cut and pasted together to make a movie, not an actual movie. Tony Stark doesn’t take Peter Parker seriously, and the director and screenwriters of this movie don’t take Spider-Man seriously. And the end result is a clumsy, awkward uneven movie with a shallow storyline, weak one-dimensional characters and no heart.  

I wanted to like Spider-Man: Homecoming. But the film just doesn’t feel like a Spider-Man movie telling a story about Spider-Man like Sam Raimi’s Classic 2002 film. It feels like a satire of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Spider-Man shoehorned into it to be the butt of one big parody where the producers of Marvel Studios take shots at their own universe at the audiences’ expense.

Congratulations Marvel Studios you just made Superman III.  

Almost 30 years after the Salkinds made the film that heralded the beginning of the end the Superman franchise in the 1980s, and 20 years after Joel Schumacher killed the original Batman Franchise with Batman and Robin in 1997, I think Marvel Studios has just started the process of putting the nails in its own coffin.

The Salkinds thought adding more humor to Superman III would lead to the film being more appealing to audiences. And the addition of funnyman Richard Pryor would lead to big laughs. Unfortunately, people didn’t go to see Superman yuk it up with Richard Pyor, they paid money to see Superman kick bad guy ass. Yeah, I like some of the humorous bits in Marvel Studios films. They break up some of the tension and made the characters relatable to the audience. However, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming overdo the comedy and take Marvel Studios down the road that killed the Superman Franchise in the 80s and ended the Batman Franchise in the 1990s.

Marvel Studios is in TROUBLE. Only they don’t know it.

I started to see fractures in the Marvel Studios model with Avengers: Age of Ultron. And those fractures started to turn into cracks with Captain America: Civil War, Jessica Jones, the back six episodes of Luke Cage and that abomination of a Netflix show called Iron Fist. From what I saw in Spider-Man Homecoming the wheels are slowly coming off the Marvel Studios bus. Kevin Feige better get it together because Marvel Studios is very vulnerable at this point. All it takes is the right studio with the right project to beat them at their own game. As much as I hate Zack Snyder’s DC Cinematic Universe, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman was a MUCH better film than the slop he presented onscreen calling itself a Spider-Man movie.

I can’t recommend Spider-Man Homecoming. The film just doesn’t meet the high bar established by 2008’s Iron Man or 2009’s Captain America: The First Avenger. Those two films were true to the source material and the heart of those characters. Spider-Man Homecoming is true to what Disney and SJWs want Spider-Man to be, not who he really is. Spider-Man may have come home to Marvel Cinematic Universe, but all I saw onscreen was a reason to stop going to Marvel Studios movies.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Halle Berry's DISGRACEFUL Return To The Black Community

Actress Halle Berry recently made an appearance at the Essence Festival to promote her movie Kidnap. And while she was there she made several disingenuous statements about how she was so concerned about the issues of Black actresses, the lack of opportunities for Black actresses, and the low pay Black actresses receive in Hollywood. This chick is full of shit a toilet bowl gets jealous. 

I find it funny how Halle Berry is so concerned about the issues of Black actresses now that her star has faded with White Hollywood. She wasn’t worried about the issues of Black actresses back in 2001 when Lee Daniels was paying her $1 million for starring in Monster’s Ball, the film that destroyed the image of the Black woman. Nor was she concerned about the low pay or lack of opportunities for other Black actresses when she was being paid $10-$15 million a picture for films like Gothika, Die Another Day, and Catwoman by White Hollywood.

I wonder how concerned Halle was about the issues of Black actresses and Black people when she threw the Black community under the bus by bashing up Eric Benet in her divorce, saying things like she “Tried” Black men in the pages of Ebony Magazine, and flaunted White men like Gabriel Aubry and Oliver Martinez in the faces of Black people. Back then she didn’t seem too concerned about the struggles talented Black actresses like Tia Mowry, Salli Richardson Whitfield, Kimberly Elise, and many other sistas who could have gotten a boost from playing a supporting role in one of her films. Nor was she concerned about Black directors like Ava Duvernay who were trying to uplift the image of the Black woman. Halle could have easily used her A-list star power to help any of those sistas take their projects or their careers to the next level.

But she didn’t. After Halle won her Oscar it was all About TEH HALLE. How many doors did that Oscar open for you and other Black women Halle?

The same amount you closed in the faces of all those sistas behind you once you got yours. Now that you can’t play the role of the Jezebel for White men anymore and you’re too light to play Mammies, you’re so concerned about the struggles of Black actresses.

Fuck You Halle. Fuck You.

You only want to be “Black” and be around Black people when it benefits you, not when you can do something for other Black people. Piss off.

If Halle Berry had reached back for a single Black actress, worked with an indie Black director like Ava Duvernay, or a helped Black screenwriter like myself get their script greenlit after that 2002 Oscar win her appearance at the Essence festival would mean something and her words would have resonance with Black people. As they stand right now they’re just bullshit. Now that she’s a washed up 50-year-old single mother with two kids by two different White fathers, she’s not worried about the lack of opportunities for Black actresses, she’s worried about the lack of opportunities for herself. In her old age she sees that her Oscar has no value to White people anymore. And now, she’s looking to go back to the Black community to get a few slices of bread from Black people’s tables.

And because many Black men are a bunch of dumbass SIMPS she thinks she can get it from them. Broken down old Halle Berry knows that because many Negro men are thirsty and have ABSOLUTELY NO STANDARDS they’ll accept a 50-year Bustdown baby momma with two kids by two different White fathers just because they think she’s light skinned and pretty like in her old magazine pictures from the 1990’s.

And because Black women have absolutely no moral position they’ll accept Halle Berry back in their community as a fellow Sista because they want to keep getting a pass to continue getting away with all the irresponsible, reckless, and immoral behavior Halle legitimized as social norms over the last 15 years. If they let Halle come Back and be a Black woman in the Black community, then they can cement whoredom as a social standard for Black women and not make any efforts to raise the bar for moral standards out of the dirt Halle dropped it in.

Thanks to Halle Berry participating in Monster’s Ball the that bar for Black women’s moral standards is buried so deep beneath the earth’s crust it’s right at the molten core right next to the self-esteem of the Black woman. All those ass models in magazines like King and Smooth and pointing their butts up for a camera on Instagram? All those Twerk videos on YouTube? All those fight videos in fast food restaurants between Black women? Those porn websites like Ghetto Gaggers where White men humiliate Black women and call them the N-Word? All those reality shows like Love & Hip-Hop, Basketball wives and Real Housewives? All those TV shows like Scandal where Black women play the role of a side piece to a White man? All those Swirlers online praising White, Asian, Hispanic and Arab men as better than Black men?

You can thank Halle Berry for all that. That’s her legacy. That’s what she’ll be remembered for years from now. Driving the image of the Black woman straight into the GUTTER and corrupting the minds of a generation of young sistas to devalue and degrade themselves and hate their own men.

However, Essence Magazine celebrates this woman as some sort of hero at their Festival. Showing us how much the moral position of Black women has declined over the last 15 years. An unrepentant sellout betrays the Black community. And Black women embrace this harlot without holding her accountable for anything she’s done.

Damn. Just Damn.

The old African Proverb says “A Race can rise no higher than the moral position of its women.” And I see how low the moral position of Black women is when they accept someone who is as disgraceful as Halle Berry back into their community. In any other community a traitor like Halle Berry would be shown the door. But because Black people have no standards for anything, they accept her with open arms. Showing the world the reason why no one needs to respect Black people. Because Black people have no respect for themselves.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Troubles With Typos in Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics has been having a problem with spelling grammar and punctuation in some of their publications lately. There have been quite a few typos in many of their recent comics. And one of their senior executives Tom Bevoort is in denial about the problem. 

I’m an indie publisher running a one-man operation off his laptop. And I’ve run into my fair share of quality control issues in the fifteen years I’ve worked on publishing my own books and eBooks. However, I’ll admit the problem and make an effort to correct them in my books. When I’m alerted to an issue by readers, I’ll proofread a story and re-upload it so future readers can have the best quality publication.

Unfortunately Tom Bevroort, an executive at Marvel, a subsidiary of a multibillion dollar corporation like Disney can’t seem to do anything about typos in Marvel’s comics. This is a man with hundreds of editors, assistant editors, and freelance proofreaders on his payroll. It’s a sad day when an unemployed guy working on a shoestring budget is willing to take the editing of his publications more seriously than an executive who makes six figures at the division of multibillion dollar corporation.

But this is par for the course with SJW Marvel. Where 22-year old kids fresh out of college are working in their editorial department without any guidance from a seasoned professional to teach them the craft of comics or the basics of working in a publishing house. Most of these kids probably haven’t read the Chicago manual of style, Elements of Style, or the Bedford English handbook. So they don’t know how use these tools to improve the quality of their work. If they did they’d know what grammatical mistakes to look out for before they sent a book out to the printers.

A combination of inexperienced staff and poor leadership usually what leads to quality control issues like typos in publications. And when there’s a quality control issue like typos in comics, the only thing a senior manager can do is admit the problem and try to do better. While no publisher will make perfect publications all the time, a smart one will make efforts to rectify them so they won’t keep reoccurring.

Marvel’s problem is that their editorial department is run by people too young to understand what craft is. An editor on a publication should be someone with years of experience working with publications, deadlines and schedules. That’s someone who’d be able to catch something like a typo in a proof before a final publication goes to print.

I’ve made my fair share of mistakes publishing books. And over the last eight years running SJS DIRECT on a laptop with a shoestring budget I’ve made efforts to improve the quality of my paperbacks and eBooks. While I aspire to get to the point where I can produce books that are 99% typo free on my own, I’d like to think Marvel could do the same with the billions of dollars Disney is pouring into all the new staff they’re hiring.  If Tom Bevoort can’t make his editorial staff get a handle on something simple like typos in comic books then maybe it’s time for someone new at the top at Marvel. 

Friday, June 30, 2017


As part of the SJS DIRECT FREE Summer catalog promotion, this July I’m offering new readers an opportunity to try All About Nikki-The Fabulous First Season. An international best-selling eBook in 2011, All About Nikki-the Fabulous first season is one of the most popular digital titles in the SJS DIRECT catalog. And readers can download the e-Book containing all 13 episodes of this absolutely Fabulous African-American Comedy for FREE.  If you like the 1990s sitcoms The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and 1995’s Cluless, then you’ll definitely enjoy reading All About Nikki.

Along with All About Nikki, readers can also pick up the two previous Smashwords Summer freebies The Thetas and Isis: The Beauty Myth. And you can pick up the two titles that did make it out for 2017, Isis: SamuraiGoddess and E’steem: Little Girl Lost.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mulling Over Another Kickstarter

Help me pay for this cover with a Donation
to my Patreon! 

I’m mulling over doing another Kickstarter.

This time I want to pay for the cover for the final book in the Spinsterella Trilogy, The Legendary Mad Matilda. However, when it comes to Kickstarters I’m 1 for 3. The last thing I want to do is have another Kickstarter fail to get funded.

After the loss of the SJS DIRECT Cover Kickstarter last year, I said I wouldn’t do any more Kickstarters. And I’d love to keep my word. But I don’t want to leave readers of the Spinsterella Trilogy hanging. There’s not really a way for me to raise the kind of money needed to pay for the project.

And there’s no way for me to pay for it myself these days with the Google Ad Pocalypse turning YouTube into a financial dead zone. So if I want to release the book this Halloween, it’s either release the book with my own art or try to raise some funds to pay for a cover.

So I’m mulling over putting together another Kickstarter. And what would donors get?

Not Much. Just The Legendary Mad Matilda for in Paperback for a $25 donation or the entire Spinsterella Trilogy in paperback for a $40 donation. If you like Goth fiction it’d probably be up your alley.

I’m still mulling over my plans for The Legendary Mad Matilda. Kickstarter or no, I’d love to release it this Halloween so readers of Spinsterella and Spellbound can complete the Spinsterella trilogy. Unfortunately, all my plans for the SJS DIRECT 2017 catalog have been up in the air due to my long-term unemployment and financial troubles. A quality cover by a professional artist costs about  $250-$300. And until I can find full time work the only way I can pay for covers is with donations.

If you want to help me pay for the cover you can Donate to my Patreon Or donate to my Paypal. If 300 people donate $1 each, (Paypal & Patreon fees eat up some costs) I can get the book to the marketplace for the Holiday season!

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Legendary Mad Matilda Progress Report

I’ve been hard at work on The Legend of Mad Matilda over the past five months. And in that time a lot has changed regarding the story.

Instead of calling it The Legend of Mad Matilda, I’ve decided to change the title to The Legendary Mad Matilda. I felt the new title had more of a Tim Burton vibe to it. And the Legendary Mad Matilda pays a nice homage to oldschool Marvel comics like The Amazing Spider-Man, The Uncanny X-Men, and The Invincible Iron Man. With Mad Matilda being an urban legend in the Industrial Rave scene of the Goth Subculture I thought the title would tell everyone who she is.

The Legendary Mad Matilda has come a long way in the last five months. I’ve gone from outline to first draft in that time, and now that I’m close to finishing the second draft I’m laying out the pages of the paperback and I’m doing grammar and spell checks. The book reads very fast, likeSpellbound and Spinsterella it reads like a movie.

Legendary Mad Matilda takes place in 1995 and is the bridge book between Spellbound which chronicles Matilda’s Baby Bat years and Spinsterella, the story of Matilda as an Elder Goth. In some ways its like The Empire Strikes Back of the Spinsterella Trilogy, it’s the book that chronicles the darkest period in Matilda’s life as she deals with the growing pains of being in the adolescent phase of being a Goth. In the heyday of the 1990’s Goth subculture Mattie is trying to get back on her feet after running into the troubles she mentioned in Spinsterella, and trying to find her place in the subculture as an adult.

The big challenge for me on the second round of edits is trying to make reference to 1990’s current events and make references to things going on in that era as Matilda’s story went on. While I was able to make references to the OJ Simpson Trial, Rudy Guiliani’s Quality of life campaign, Harlem and Union Square’s gentrification, trash talk shows like Jenny Jones, 90’s movies like Clueless and The Crow and NBC’s Must See TV, it’s been a challenge making references to other things going on in the decade. With Spellbound readers were immersed in the year 1989, and I want them to be equally immersed in the year of 1995.

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The other big challenge is making sure that all the references to the Goth Subculture were in the story and they were as accurate as possible. With The Legendary Mad Matilda I want people to learn as much as they can about the subculture. Oftentimes when I read stories like Andi Watson and Josh Howard’s Clubbing that feature Goth characters, the Goth subculture isn’t really presented in an accurate way. When it comes to Goth, they just use the dark aesthetic of a Goth’s appearance as window dressing and don’t dig deep into the characters reasons for being a part of the subculture or their motivations for staying in the scene. With Legendary Mad Matilda I wanted to delve deep into Mattie’s motivations for wanting to remain a part of the subculture as she struggles with life after college and the start of her first full-time job.

And then there’s the music. With the foundation of the Goth Subculture being the music, I make a LOT of references to Goth music. I had to listen to a LOT of music to find songs that fit certain scenes. And when it comes to Legendary Mad Matilda the music in the story is a fusion of Goth music, and dark themed R&B songs like TLC’s Waterfalls. If I had to design a Legendary Mad Matilda soundtrack for a movie it’d be that fusion of Goth, R&B and Rap. I want the music to be like character in the story, in the background setting the mood for certain scenes and setting the tone in others.

The concept for the Legendary Mad Matilda cover has also come a long way since the original design I drew. I’ve pondered putting a half-face on the cover because it would allow the reader to see themselves as Mattie. So far the concept cover has received a lot of positive responses so far on social media. People seem to like the Tim Burtonesque take on things.

I’d love to hire Bill Walko or Josh Howard to design Legendary Mad Matilda’s cover because I believe it’d really POP. In the hands of a professional artist I think the cover could really catch the attention of readers and persuade them to pick it up. 

I’d love to have The Legendary Mad Matilda out by Halloween of this year like Spellbound so readers can pick up ALL of the parts of the Spinsterella Trilogy for the holiday season but the book is one of five titles that are currently delayed due to a lack of funds to pay for the cover. I’m mulling over doing another Kickstarter or some sort of campaign to pay for a cover, but I don’t know if it’d be worth the time. We’ll see where things go.

In spite of my financial troubles I’m gonna do whatever I can to release The Legendary Mad Matilda in some way shape or form this year. I don’t want to leave Mattie’s story incomplete for readers

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Shawn Reviews The Wonder Woman Movie

I’m not a big fan of the Snyderverse or anything DC these days. But since one of my viewers wanted me to take a look at the film I caught it at the Magic Johnson before it left the theater there. After watching Wonder Woman I can honestly say the film had the potential to be a classic piece of superhero cinema like 1978’s Superman: The Movie and 1989’s Batman. While Patty Jenkins vision of Wonder Woman is the best cinematic adaptation of the character and one of the best DC Superhero films to date it never actualizes its potential to become the great film it should have been.

What prevents Wonder Woman from becoming a great film are two things. The first is the foundation established by Zack Snyder’s dreadful Man of Steel and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The dreary dark story model from those two horrible films really prevented this film from being the best it could be. From the opening scene of the Wayne Enterprises truck, this film got an anchor tied around its ankle and sank due to being chained to the Snyderverse. I believe if Patty Jenkins didn’t have to deal with Zack Snyder’s baggage she could have made a classic on the level of Richard Donner and Tim Burton.

The second thing that impedes Wonder Woman’s potential is the absolutely dreadful script. The screenplay for Wonder Woman it just never comes together as a complete story. While it has its moments like the scenes on Paradise Island and the battle in No Man’s Land, the story the story has no heart, no soul and no spark to make things come to life. Everything feels so DEAD onscreen.

Yeah, there’s a superhero named Wonder Woman onscreen and she’s got on a costume similar to the iconic DC Superheroine. But you never get a reason to CARE about her due to the flat uninspired way the story is written. As I watched the Wonder Woman movie all the problems that Wonder Woman has struggled with as a comic book character were presented to me onscreen. Onscreen I saw a one-dimensional character with no personality and no “voice” of her own. Yeah she had the strength to lift a tank or demolish a bell tower, but she didn’t have the substance to make you relate to her or identify with her. It’s sad that many of the supporting characters like the Algerian and the Scotsman had more personality and “voice” than Wonder Woman and had more depth than she had.

And that lack of depth was due to the other big problem with super heroines surface, the lack of a character transformation arc. We’re told Diana is special. We see her get special training. But we never see what she learns from the experience. In most scenes Diana shows up and is a badass, and that’s the biggest problem with Wonder Woman. She never really learns anything or grows from the experience in a way that changes her. That’s because Steve Trevor or someone else does almost everything for her and explains everything to her. And that’s what prevents the story from really connecting with the viewer the way that Captain America: The First Avenger did.

The third big problem has to do with superheroines again, and that’s the bad guy. In Wonder Woman we get Ares established as a bad guy, but just like most stories featuring female heroines, there’s no reason to care because the writers are too afraid to form a relationship between the heroine and the bad guy. Ares is just in the background while his lieutenants the general and Dr Poison do all the dirty work. And Diana’s motivation to stop him has no personal or emotional impact. Diana is told her mission is to kill Ares, but that’s not enough story wise. Due to the lack of chemistry and tension in Diana and Ares relationship it really prevents the film from being as strong as it could be.

The visual effects in this movie really don’t add to the experience. Again, the stink of Zack Snyder impedes this film’s ability to actualize its potential. Snyder’s signature slow-mo-then fast fight scenes really suck the energy out of many action sequences in Wonder Woman. I believe if you played those scenes straight they would have had more emotional impact. But the hand of Zack Snyder chokes the life out of this film.  

While I was indifferent to this adaptation of Wonder Woman there were some things I did like seeing. And it’s those little touches that made me smile. Things like seeing the Silver Age Wonder Girl symbol cut into Hippoltya’s top and slight nods to Artemis and Nubia in the Amazon warriors were great. The first 30 minutes of the movie on Paradise Island were top notch. It was as close to a DC Comic as you could get visually. 

It’s just once the film leaves England it falls completely apart. That’s when it stops being a Wonder Woman movie and starts turning into Zack Snyder’s version of Xena: Warrior Princess. And the last 15 minutes of the film…

Damn. Just Damn. That was the shit icing on top of a turd cupcake.

Patty Jenkins does an amazing job with Wonder Woman’s visuals.  Her camerawork is top notch here. And her directing is what elevates the weak screenplay, uninspired special effects and average acting to a level of passable. She’s the one to watch. While this film is her breakthrough, I think her next film will be the one to watch. She’s got the  craft and the skill, all she needs is the right story to take her career to the next level.

Still not a fan of this Wonder Woman film, but it’s worth a watch if you get the chance. If you catch it on a Matinee or on DVD, it won’t be a waste of your time. It’s entertaining. But nowhere near the classic it should have been.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Anything You Say Online Can And Will Be Used against You By Employers

About a week ago when I wrote my blog discussing how ex-offenders were getting considered for employment by companies I got a comment from someone who said they were an employer who suggested I delete everything on my blog and my YouTube channel if I hope to get considered for employment. According to them a potential employer can Google someone and if they find something they don’t like, they won’t consider you for a job.

So according to them anything you say online can and will be used against you in an employment search. And according to them, that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been having such a hard time finding a job these last eight years.

When I heard this, I thought about something Christ said after the Pharisees and the Saducees confronted Him with the adulteress.

He who is without sin cast the first stone.

And I say this to employers: Judge and ye shall not be judged. I’m sure if I Googled any of these HR people out here, I’d find a skeleton bone or two in their closets that could cost them their jobs.

Listening to this so-called employer proves my point that narrative seems to be more important to bosses than skills these days. Gang tattoos on someone’s neck, women doing twerk videos and posting topless photos on an Instagram or a Facebook account are fine, but an opinion on a blog or a YouTube video? That’s something that can lead to a manager at a company rejecting a perfectly qualified guy like myself for a job.

 Don’t you just love double standards? And the hypocrisy behind them? It just shows us how full of shit people actually are.

I find it interesting how this so-called employer feels my strong and critical opinions on a blog or a YouTube video disqualify me for employment but people with felony convictions, wearing neck tattoos, posting twerk videos, topless photos on Instagram, posting weed smoking pictures on Facebook and racist rants on a blog, all that’s perfectly fine. The opinions I present on a blog or in a YouTube video would reflect negatively on a company’s image, but hiring someone with a gang tat or a person who promotes drug use at a company that does drug tests, that’s okay. That promotes diversity and tolerance.

Just like Jesus said, straining at a gnat, but swallowing a camel.

 Supporting the difference of opinion would be the true test of tolerance for an employer. And it would show how a diversity of ideas would be considered in a workplace.  Unfortunately, too many employers these days are so thin-skinned that anything someone says offends them. They ask people to have sterling character, but don’t show that through their hiring practices.

This whole quest some employers have to look for a “perfect” person for their jobs is completely insane. According to Christ we were all born in sin and we’re all sinners. So there’s no chance of finding some perfect person out there. Everyone has screwed up at least once in their lives. And it’s wrong to hold that against them. If God can forgive someone, and they can overlook their own past mistakes why can’t that same employer take a chance on a guy like me?

I’ve worked around ex-offenders, former homeless people, and addicts in recovery. And I never once judged them about their pasts or their presents. As long as they did their work I was cool with them. When I go to work, I’m about my job. And as long as the quality of my work is good, an employer shouldn’t have a problem with me. The way I see it, if an employer can accept the guy with the neck tats, the receptionist who made a twerk video she posted on YouTube, or the Administrative assistant who posted topless pictures from her vacation on Instagram and Facebook, then they should have no problem working with the Black man who wrote hundreds of blogs related to or made a series of YouTube Videos where he expressed his opinion on subject matter.

I’m not deleting my blogs. Nor am I deleting my YouTube Channel. The way I figure it what I published is going to be someplace in cyberspace. Many of my so-called offensive blogs like Why Real Men avoid Single Mothers and What Women don’t know about being the Side Piece have been shared all over the world hyperlinked and reposted on numerous websites across the globe. And many of my YouTube videos have been shared and reposted on other sites. So there’s no escaping what I’ve written and recorded. So if someone is going to hire me, they’re going to hire me based on the quality of my work, not the opinions I express.