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Monday, June 26, 2017

SJW Marvel's Inexperienced Editors

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
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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.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Thoughts on the Black Panther Teaser Trailer



I got a moment to get a look at the Black Panther Teaser trailer.


I wasn’t impressed.


Yeah, it’s a movie with a Black Superhero in the lead. But it just didn’t grab me. Everything onscreen was dull. Predictable. By the numbers.


Unlike Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Rangnorok, there wasn’t anything exciting presented in the trailer to draw me into the story. It didn’t stimulate my senses. It didn’t make me CARE.


The visuals on this movie are FLAT. Most of the action shots in Black Panther feel re-hashed and uninspired. In fact most of them have been done in other movies with a far more exciting story. The machine gun shots in the dark before the hero attacks? Done better in Iron Man. The heroes getting out of the way of the flipping SUV?  Done better in Captain America: Civil War.


And this film features another big problem. The villain is…Ulysees Klaw. AKA The Evil White man.


Meh.


Yeah, Marvel Studios made a Black Panther Movie. But it doesn’t look like an exciting one.


Some people may get excited about a seeing A Black superhero in their own solo movie. But looking at the movie Black Panther is featured in the teasr I don’t see much to get excited about. The story in the teaser looks FLAT. The camera work looks uninspired. And the action onscreen has a been there, done that feel.


Blade this ain’t. Heck, this ain’t even Meteor Man.


And it still looks like Marvel Studios STILL screenwriters can’t write a villain for shit. The Evil White Man may be an exciting bad guy for the Hoteps and the Pro-Blacks, but I’m gonna need to see a LOT more to give me a reason to buy a ticket for a Black Panther movie.


At this point I want MORE when it comes to superhero movies. I want richer stories. Multidimensional characters. And a bad guy I can LOVE TO HATE. I want more than just a black superhero movie, I want a GREAT Black Superhero movie. Judging from what I saw the Trailer Black Panther wasn’t a GREAT Black superhero movie. Blade did everything that this movie looks like it’s trying to do a lot better 20 years ago.


All I see in the Black Panther teaser is a paternalistic White Supremacist view of Africa, not a fresh take on African-American fantasy. The bad guys are evil White men out to plunder the resources of a mysterious African kingdom. And Wakanda’s great hero, The Black Panther is going to stop them.


And Wakanda doesn’t look like an amazing place, it just looks like a White person’s view of Africa. Even thought the film is directed by a Black man, the pictures that are presented of Wakanda feel like we’re seeing the world of Wakanda through the eyes of what a White person sees, not how we’d see ourselves.


It’s not creative. It’s not original. It just feels….Meh.


Yeah, we finally have a Black Panther movie. But sadly from the teaser it doesn’t look like anything special. It just feels like a generic superhero movie with Black people in it, not a cinematic masterpiece with an amazing story that gives us a unique picture of Africa. It’s hardly the event some Black people like Hoteps and Pro-Blacks are getting all emotional about. After seeing three Black superheroes in Captain America: Civil War I expected something BIG with Black Panther’s teaser. But what I saw on the screen was nothing to get excited about. Will I spend money to go see Black Panther? I’m still on the fence.  




Monday, June 12, 2017

American Companies Need to Hire Ex-Offenders- WTF?





According to one report I listened to on the radio the economy is doing so well that companies are actually considering hiring ex offenders.  Some employers are saying that they’re actually looking to overlook some people’s prison records because they desperately need workers.


Seriously, WTF?


Now I have nothing against ex-offenders finding work, in fact I worked with a job readiness program that helped ex-offenders get job ready and find employment.  But I’ve been looking for work since October of 2008 and have had no luck.


I’m a guy with no record, a college degree and years of experience as a publisher and a writer. I have an A+ Certification and years of experience fixing computers. But I haven’t been able to get most of these companies to even give me a phone call let alone an interview.


And now the media is telling me that companies need to hire ex-offenders FIRST.


Someone in Human Resources at most of these American companies needs to get their head examined.


In the aftermath of the Great Recession, many people like myself were still searching for that job to get back on our feet. And after almost nine years I’m still looking for that job that will help me get that break. These days when I apply for jobs companies just send me e-mails telling me I’m not right for them.


But an ex-offender is perfectly fine.


Seriously WTF?


In a series of YouTube Videos I did I had to ask if it was skills or narrative that employers were looking for. And after listening to that radio report it’s clear to me that it’s all about narrative these days when you go out to apply for work. Tell an employer the story they want to hear and they’ll hire you. Skills don’t seem to matter to them.


And the story employers want to hear now is that a person is an ex-offender. Or a Single mother trying to take care of their kids. Or a baby daddy trying to make his child support payments. Or a big mouth with a bad attitude. I thought companies were supposed to go out looking for our best and brightest to work for them, but it seems you have to tell HR people sad stories that present you as a victim to get hired these days at most companies.


Damn. Just Damn.


I’ve had my fair share of hard times since October of 2008 and even before then. But when I go to interview with employers I don’t want to be anyone’s charity case. I don’t want to get a job based on someone’s pity, I want to earn it based on my skills and what I have to offer. I’m looking to be an asset at a company not a liability.



The way I see it if American companies are so desperate for people then why aren’t they looking for many of us 20 million unemployed people who have been out of work since 2008? Or why aren’t they looking for many of the recent college graduates who finish degrees but haven’t been able to find full-time work. If employers really wanted to make America great again they’d be looking to hire that glut of our best and brightest and giving them full-time work, not trying to scrape the bottom of the barrel first.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Taking A Closer Look at DC’s Defunct Minx Line



I’m always interested in new ways to get comics in the hands of readers. And when I read about DC’s defunct Minx imprint, it seemed like a great way to do it. Original Graphic novels in a manga-sized format would provide readers with comics that featured easy entry points and introduced them to new characters and new worlds.
Unfortunately, what prevented the Minx line from being a success was the inability of DC and Random House execute on the concept.


The editors at DC think that the Minx line failed due to Random House’s distribution of the titles. According to them Random House just put books in the YA section instead of the Manga section of bookstores and that’s’ why the Minx titles didn’t sell. No, what prevented them from selling was a paternalistic view towards girls and absolutely terrible writing.


I find it sad that every time a comic publisher thinks they have to appeal to girls they always think they have to dumb things down. And DC’s Minx line was no different than the asinine comics I read in my 1970s Superhero Women paperback like Claws of the Cat. There was no likeable heroine to root for in Minx books. There was no story to make us CARE in Minx books or anything FUN about them. It just looked like Minx’s editors just thought they’d create comic books around what they thought girls would like and they’d just buy it because they’re just comics for girls.


No. Just NO.


It always annoys me that whenever there are comic lines meant to target female readers that there’s no care taken as it relates to the writing. When it comes to stories featuring heroines in comics, there’s no character transformation arc for the heroines to go through, no conflicts, hardships, or struggles for them to face. Most of the stories just feature them showing up stuff happening, and…the end.


I’m sorry but that’s not a story. In a story the reader needs a reason to keep them reading. And when it came to the Minx line, I didn’t see anything to compel me to keep reading the first Minx book I bought, Clubbing. Someone should have told the people at Minx, Everyone’s comic is their first. So you need to make the best impression with the first issue. Because when it comes to comics, if the first issue is bad, the reader isn’t coming back for the second issue.


So I could see why a lot of readers dropped the Minx line after the initial launch. Because the writing was THAT BAD.


Moreover as I read the Minx mission, I could see the flaws in their business plan. While they planned to launch their line to compete with Japanese Manga it’s clear to me that DC’s editors just didn’t understand how Manga worked. Manga in Japan is made for both boys and girls and it’s made for readers of all ages. So the plan to just target girls literally cut their audience down by 2/3 before the first title was published.


Worse, seasoned Manga readers could tell when they were being pandered to. Many of the seasoned Manga readers could take one look at the titles of DC’s Minx line and felt they just didn’t meet their “smell” test. So they had no incentive to buy into the line.


Looking at the model for the Minx titles, I still think it’s a good model for publishing comics. But a smart publisher would have to understand the story model for writing a graphic novel them before they launched a single title. Readers aren’t going to buy a comic featuring reject YA stories, jumbled plots and poorly developed characters just because they’re told it’s for a specific audience. No, good Manga like One Piece and Naruto is popular with all ages and genders because there is care taken to craft well developed characters, tight plots, and compelling storylines. The big problem with the Minx line wasn’t the format of the comics or the distribution; it was the fact that editorial just didn’t have a vision for the brand or any idea how to create content that would sell with Manga fans or casual customers. Minx books were flashy on the outside, but had no substance in between their pages.


I believe Manga-sized graphic novels that told a story in one single volume could sell very well with readers. And I’ve pondered using that platform when I turn the Isis series into graphic novels. I know that there could be a big audience for Manga-sized comics in America, but all it takes for a publisher to understand how to execute stories in the format. A comic sells its next issue with the first one in a reader’s hands so the story has to leave a great impression on readers from the first issue in their hands. If the editors of the Minx line had understood that tenet, the line would probably still be publishing today. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Critical success of the Wonder Woman Movie...WHY HERA WHY?





DC’s new Wonder Woman Movie is getting great reviews.


Damn. Just Damn.


Why am I not happy about DC Wonder Woman movie getting great reviews? Because that means NOTHING is going to change regarding Warner Brothers decade and a half mishandling of the DC Comics film properties and the DC Comics brand.


The success of Wonder Woman has saved the jobs of Chris Nolan and Zack Snyder. Meaning that we DC Comic fans are going to be stuck with this jumbled dysfunctional Snyderverse for another decade or so.


Damn. Just Damn.


Wonder Woman’s critical success means we’re stuck with Man of Stool Henry Cavill, Batfleck and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman for another ten or so years. Not to mention the terrible dark angry story model that doesn’t capture the spirit and heart of DC’s Characters.


All the success of the Wonder Woman movie does is enable the dysfunction of Chris Nolan and Zack Snyder. It keeps Warner’s executives like CEO Kevin Tisjura in a state of denial regarding DC’s dysfunctional cinematic universe and the complete mismanagement DC Comics brand. Instead of being forced to come to a point where they’re forced to admit there’s a problem, they’ve been told everything they’re doing is okay by film critics.


Seriously, seeing all the drama regarding DC’s film properties is like watching a drug addict or an alcoholic struggle with their addiction. The addict is suffering from their addiction, but thanks to enablers such as movie critics continuing to praise them for their fucked up movies and comic fans continuing to spend their money on their fucked up products they have no incentive to get their shit together.


And thanks to Wonder Woman’s success, DC’s films, comics and licensed properties are going to remain in the same FUBAR state they’ve been in since 2011.


In order for Warner Brothers to get its shit together regarding DC they need to hit rock bottom. They have to hit a point where they admit to themselves what they’re doing is not working. At that point they’ll start listening to their customers instead of trying to force the same failed dark story model and repackaged New 52 concepts that didn’t catch on in 2011 down people’s throats. Unfortunately, thanks to the critical success of the Wonder Woman movie, the change that is desperately needed regarding DC’s Superhero films and DC’s entertainment properties won’t happen for another decade or so.

Shit.

Yeah, Nolan and Snyder have a critical success with Wonder Woman. But I wonder what change could have come if Warner Brothers had shook up things regarding its DC Comics division and DC Comics properties. Could we have gotten character designs true to the source material like Marvel Studios Iron Man, Thor and Captain America? Could we have moved past the obsolete dark story model into something more in line with the spirit of the DC Universe like Batman the Animated Series or Justice League Unlimited? Could we have actually gotten films that were FUN to watch? Could we have actually started a horse race between Warner and Marvel Studios? Could DC Comics have gone back to being a family friendly comic publisher?



Sadly that’s a series of questions that won’t be answered for a couple of years. As long as critics keep praising movies like Wonder Woman and comic fans keep accepting slop from DC and Warner Brothers, the executives will keep serving it up to them instead of making efforts to make the changes to make the DC Comics brand competitive in the 21st Century.