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Thursday, January 28, 2016

DC Comics Rebirth & The Didio Who Cried No More Reboots

DC Comics is rumored to be relaunching all of its titles with new Number one issues this June to coincide with the launch of the Justice League Cinematic Universe.

This time they’re calling it a Rebirth. But this whole New 52 concept has been stillborn since 2011. But DC’s editors keep charging up the paddles to jolt new life into its cold corpse.

Remember when Dan Didio said that Convergence was going to be the last reboot of the DC Universe last year? And remember when Shawn said he was lying? That there would definitely be another reboot of the DC Universe?

Welp, here we are. What is this, Reboot number 7, or is it Reboot number 8?
Let’s see Crisis of Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, Flashpoint, Convergence. And since Infinite Crisis that’s about Five reboots in about eight years.

Damn, the DC Universe has to be rebooted more times than a computer running Windows ME.

I haven’t had to reboot the SJS DIRECT Universe in the 14 years its been in print. Heck, even the numbers of dead characters in the SJS DIRECT Universe are still in the single digits. It’s a sad day when an indie self-publisher with a single employee and a shoestring budget has a tighter continuity and a more stable universe than DC Comics, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers that has a billion dollar budget, hundreds of employees making up dozens of creative teams and so-called seasoned editors in charge of it.

Just when you stop caring about what goes on in the DC Universe…They announce another reboot. Nothing like the umpmillionth new #1 issue to give readers an incentive to find another hobby. Why keep buying DC Comics if editorial is just going to reboot everything in three to five years anyway?

What happened to trigger the latest reboot at DC? Alienated fans? Slow moving DC licensed merchandise on store shelves? A loss of ten percent of DC’s market share to Marvel and indie comic publishers? Complete apathy among DC’s fanbase? An attempt to synergize the brand to coincide with the launch of the Justice League Cinematic Universe that starts with Batman V. Superman Dawn of Justice?

Probably all of that. But it’s been clear for over 15 years Dan Didio, Jim Lee, Goeff Johns, Diane Nelson and WB’s executives have absolutely no idea what they’re doing with that brand. So they go around in circles throwing the exact same shit at the exact same wall expecting things to change. It’s the definition of insanity, but the heads at DC and WB continue to expect a different result for doing the exact same thing.

I’m pretty numb to all these reboots now. At this point I just don’t care about DC’s Universe or its characters. Because no matter how many number one issues or big name creative team changes are announced, nothing really will change at DC unless WB’s senior executives wake up and have the common sense to end the Dan Didio era at the company.  In spite of all the changes to the characters the common denominator for all the dysfunction at DC are the executives at the top. If the same problems keep happening and the same managers are in charge, then it’s clear the managers and their approach to business are the problem.

But no one working at Warner Brothers wants to take this logical course of action.

And as indie publishers, Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios continue to gain ground and market share DC desperately is playing catch up. Only to watch itself get left behind with every bad business decision it makes. It’s just sad to watch all the momentum gained from the successful launch of Supergirl this fall on TV get squandered. Warner Brothers was blessed with the opportunity of a lifetime when those 19 million viewers tuned in for that first episode and they fumbled the football.

With Supergirl DC had a product that fans and families were united behind. I hadn’t seen that kind of solidarity behind a superhero product since Iron Man launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008. Supergirl’s success showed everyone with a functioning brain what direction DC should have gone in, but instead DC’s executives and editors insist on staying on the dark n’ gritty gray road that has taken them nowhere for over fifteen years.

I have a feeling we’ll be seeing another relaunch/reboot of DC’s Universe in a few years. That’s if Batman V. Superman and the launch of the Justice League Cinematic Universe doesn’t bankrupt Warner Brothers. Five years ago I was hoping wishing and praying for the return of the old DC Universe and the Classic characters I grew up with. Now I’m just waiting to see when The Wall Street Journal announces the bankruptcy of Warner Brothers and wait to see who DC Comics will be sold to in the Big 5 in the media oligarchy. Maybe someone at Disney like Brad Bird or Pixar’s CEO will actually have the vision to bring these Iconic heroes back to greatness.

As I see it, the current incarnation of DC Comics owned by Warner Brothers is in its death throes and it’s time for the priest to come in and say the last rites for the company.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Shawn Reviews Fox’s Lucifer

Lucifer. A show about the adventures of The Devil roaming to and fro the Earth. All the potential for a devilishly fun hour of programming. Unfortunately, the show on FOX that adapts the DC Vertigo comic its based on is just a run of the mill, by the numbers cop show with a satanic gimmick attached to it. I could make a story much better than this premise. In fact I did when I wrote The Temptation of John Haynes.

Lucifer Morningstar, The Archangel you love to hate is tired of life in Hell. So he leaves his netherealm and heads to Hollywood to experience this thing we call life. His first stop is a bar where he chats up a she-demon bartender. A big Black bald headed chocolate colored archangel orders him to go back to Hell to bring back balance to things, but he decides he’s such a badass he’ll just roam to and fro on Earth for a while because we all know The Devil never follows the rules.

While hanging out at a bar he meets up with a girl named Delilah who he helped make a star. On the way out of the club Delilah gets killed by a dope dealer in a drive by shooter who dies when he gets hit by a bus. As he investigates her murder he meets up with a female detective and they go on a quest to find out who done it. At the end of the episode we’re supposed to believe that The Devil is being such a badass by showing how good he is by helping people he cares about.

Just after I typed all that I realize how stupid this show is.

Bettrer than Fox's Lucifer!
I just couldn’t get into FOX’s Lucifer. Maybe it’s because of my imagination and my own biases towards my own version of the character. In the SJS DIRECT Universe, Lucifer is a complete badass who looks and sounds like Keith David in his prime. He mindfucks people, manipulates people, and uses them like a Kleenex. And he has a shitload of fun while doing it. When you read The Temptation of John Haynes and compare him to the character in this show you’ll see that the SJS DIRECT version is far superior to the one on this show.

Part of the fun with SJS DIRECT version of Lucifer is he just enjoys being evil. He just doesn’t give a fuck. Instead of trying to stick it to God by showing how bad he is by being good, he does his evil deeds with relish. Reading about him mindfucking and manipulating his own demons like E’steem like chess pieces in his quest to take the soul of a man like John Haynes is part of the fun. And watching characters like John match wits with him as he foils his plans is what makes books featuring his appearances in books like The Temptation of John Haynes and E’steem series books like DemonsAnonymous entertaining must reads.

FOX’s Lucifer just isn’t devilish enough fun. Yeah, he’s a smarmy guy, but he’s not the kind of magnificent bastard who people would want to drop everything to watch. He doesn’t get a kick out of being an absolute dick to people. Instead the Lord of Hell being a devil may care douchenozzle who has fun screwing over people, He’s a “nice guy” who is searching for meaning while he tries to impress a detective single mom by helping her solve cases. I never thought you could turn The Devil into a Simp, but here we are.

Maybe FOX should just call this show Captain Save-A-Hoe. Because that’s who this guy is. In the first episode saves more hoes than Superman.

Damn. Just Damn.

The biggest problem With Lucifer is that it’s just so FORMULA. Pretentious British guy with a smarmy side and a heart of gold? Check. Love interest single mom with a checkered past? Check. Big Black bald headed chocolate colored Archangel nemesis? Check. She-demon bartender to tell all out his troubles to? Check. Stock characters revolving around a stock story all done in an uninspired way that makes you tune out. iZombie does all this cop show stuff with a fresh perspective that’s fun to watch.

Fox’s Lucifer has nothing on my imagination. In my head Lucifer is a guy who looks and sounds like Keith David in a red designer suit. He’s having fun while matching wits with John Haynes and his sexy secretary E’steem. And E’steem looks and sounds like Salli Richardson. My Lucifer is a dick with his balls securely attached and will fuck anyone over who tries to get in his way. In my stories Lucifer is a lion who roams the jungles of New York City seeking whomever he may devour and is having a grand old time doing it, not this lamb driving around Hollywood trying to find his way on earth as he saves hoes. If you really want to have some devilish fun, turn off the TV and read The Temptation of JohnHaynes.  

Monday, January 25, 2016

Shawn Reviews CW’s DC Legends of Tomorrow

Last week CW premiered it’s new superhero show Legends of tomorrow. And there’s nothing legendary about this show. I’ve seen syndicated cartoons tell this story with more creativity and more imagination.

In between the weak premise, underdeveloped characters, uninspired writing, and cliché dialogue, Legends doesn’t do anything special. The whole show has a been there, done that feel. Guy from the future with widgets and gizmos comes to recruit people from the past to help him fight a big bad and prevent an apocalyptic future. It’s like CW’s producers tried to mix Termninator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles with Power Rangers: Time Force and Class of the Titans. Unfortunately, the end result is a show that feels more like bad Saturday morning cartoons, not a prime time TV live action superhero show.

The Big Problem with Legends is that there’s nothing special about this show. Legends gives us a bunch of stock characters to play in their stock story. We have Rip Hunter the pretentious douchebag Englishman who is the leader of this mission. Ray Palmer, the smart guy who feels insignificant, Carter Hall and Kendra Sanders the lovers who have no chemistry, Sara Lance, the girl running from her troubled past, Martin Stein and Jax the token Black guy who are the odd couple who become a superhero, and Captain Cold and Heat Wave, the Rogues looking for a payday from the past.

Oh and a talking sentient spaceship. The pilot spent so much time on exposition that not a single character had a personality or a “voice” that stood out on this show. You could exchange the dialogue of one character with another and nothing would really change. Rip Hunter says these characters are insignificant to history, but this show feels so insignificant that it’d be a waste of time to watch it. Especially when there are better shows out there that tell this exact same story better.

Power Rangers Time Force had one of the best time travel premises and bad guys that made you love to hate them. Not to mention MUCH BETTER ACTING from actors like Erin Cahill and Jason Faunt. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles had a more cohesive storyline. And Class of the Titans literally BLOWS THIS SHOW OUT OF THE WATER in terms of EVERYTHING.

Worse, Class of the Titans was a low budget syndicated animated series. But it executes this concept far better than DC’s Legends with half the budget. Class of the Titans had great characters, great chemistry, (Atlanta and Archie were an AWESOME couple and Jay and Theresa were a close second) and great character development. As the team recruited by the gods worked to take down rogue god Chronos we felt the chemistry and friendship they shared with each other in the first few episodes.

I didn’t feel that spark with Legends. Everything just fell flat. Legends isn’t as much fun as Power Rangers Time Force or as addictive as Class of the Titans. With those shows you felt HOOKED from the first episode. In between the likeable characters, snappy dialogue, and bad guys you loved to hate, there was a reason to tune in every week (or every day in the case of Class of the Titans) and learn a little history between the action and adventure.

That’s what Voyagers! On NBC used to do back in the day. But this show doesn’t make you look forward to taking that trip through time. It feels like such a waste of time it just makes you want to change the channel.

A Time Travel show should be FUN. In between interacting with historical figures and watching heroes take on bad guys there should be an energy and enthusiasm vibing onscreen. But there’s none of that in Legends. Instead the whole show feels so bogged down with DC Comics continuity that it collapses under its own weight.

Legends of Tomorrow is a major disappointment. It just feels rushed and slapped together. Even with the build through Flash and Arrow, there wasn’t anything to make me care about these characters or their mission. Yeah, they’re coming together to take down Vandal Savage BUT WHY? What makes Vandal Savage so dangerous?

Yeah he’s immortal. But he’s just a dude. Chronos was the god of time in Class of the Titans. He could change history. That made us care. The Terminators had a time machine. They could change time and blend into society to kill people. That made us care. But Vandal Savage? Yeah, the actor who plays him is menacing. In a comic book way.

But I just don’t give a shit about watching him on this TV show.

The biggest problem with DC’s Legends of tomorrow is that the producers are too busy being fanboys to be craftsmen. And while they admire their favorite characters they aren’t professional enough to put together a solid show around their premise. They’re so busy worshipping DC’s superheroes and are geeking out about the chance to explore DC’s continuity and history they forget about things like story and character development in their own program. If they weren’t so eager to put their favorite comic book heroes up on pedestals and tell us they’re gods, they’d be objective enough to take the time to show us why we should spend time watching their adventures.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow doesn’t answer a critical question most screenwriters like myself have to answer before we sit down at the keyboard. WHY SHOULD WE CARE? Because if the producers and writers don’t give the audience a reason to care then they have no incentive to keep watching every week.

I’m not expecting DC’s Legends of Tomorrow to go past a season or two. The show is just not strong enough to compete in today’s crowded TV marketplace. When low-budget shows like Power Rangers Time Force and Class of the Titans tell a story better than the big budget ones on a netlet like the CW, that show is in trouble. I’d have to say DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is the worst show WB has produced since Birds of Prey. I expect Wentworth Miller to be back on The Flash tormenting Grant Gustin sooner rather than later. On that show he’s truly legendary. But on this one he’s absolutely forgettable.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Comic Book Superheroes and the God Complex

I was watching CW’s promotional programs for their new Show Legends of Tomorrow and Batman V. Superman Dawn of Justice. And the producers made a disturbing statement on both programs.

On both shows producers stated that Superheroes are gods. And this statement was also made by characters in last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

When I hear statements like this they show me there’s something truly wrong with people’s perception of superheroes.

It’s clear to me that today’s creators are looking at superheroes from the wrong perspective. Instead of directly looking at the characters they’re working with and observing them from an objective perspective they’ve got their favorite heroes on a pedestal and are looking up at them. Even worse, they’re worshipping them.

Let’s get this straight: Comic book Superheroes are NOT Gods.

Superheroes are fictional characters. Characters that represent people and the best that humanity has to offer mankind.

Yes, the comic book superhero is a part of America’s mythology. Like Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Paul Revere, Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox, Johnny Appleseed and John Henry, they are legendary characters of tall tales that are woven in the fabric of America’s history. And just like those American legends they are down to earth people readers could relate to and connect with.

What’s great about America’s Mythology is that our heroes aren’t above us like the gods of Greece, Rome or Egypt. Instead they walk among us. They stand with us. We can touch them, feel them and share with them. Their stories are our stories.

And our stories can be their stories. America’s great heroes are the people with the courage and the character to stand up for what is right and do what is right. Their power is the passion inside them to use their gifts to help others in the world.

The American Superhero is not a god. The American superhero is a person who has been blessed with gifts and is looking to use those gifts to improve the quality of life for others in the community. They help the needy, the helpless and the powerless. They inspire others to do better and be better. They give hopeless people hope and are role models to the ideals we should aspire to be.

The American superhero isn’t just Superman, Batman, Spider-man or Captain America. They can be our parents, teachers, doctors, firemen, policemen or the members of our armed services. The imaginary world of the superhero inspires kids to grow up to become adults who serve and protect the people in their communities and improve the quality of life for everyone.

Unfortunately, those concepts regarding superheroes were lost on today’s generation of creators. Because they look up at comic book superheroes they see gods. I believe that perception of fictional characters is directly connected to the breakdown of the family over the last 50 years.

50 or 60 years ago boys and girls had both their parents in the home. And because they had that familial relationship with their parents and other adult authority figures like teachers, doctors and other people in their lives they could see superheroes from an objective perspective.

Because that generation grew up with real life people who were their heroes, they saw superheroes from a balanced perspective. And the stories and art reflected that perspective. Creators usually depicted superheroes as flawed human beings who had been blessed or cursed gifts. They saw them from the perspective as those who understood that they had the responsibility to serve those in the community and use their powers and skills to improve the quality of life for everyone. And most importantly they saw them as people they looked up to, and aspired to be like, not someone they worshipped.

However, over the last 40 years due to women entering the workforce and two generations of kids growing up without parents in the home, Children growing up didn’t have that familial relationship with authority figures like their mothers and fathers. So when this generation of latchkey kids came home to superheroes and their imaginary adventures they started looking up to them as gods. And because the children who grew up to become creators never formed that personal or emotional connection with the adults who were supposed to be authority figures in their lives, they saw superheroes as aloof overlords who were disconnected from the people in their communities. And when they grew up to start telling stories with superheroes, their interpretation of the characters began to reflect their perception of the world. And from that distant viewpoint they began to see superheroes as gods.

In most modern stories comic book superheroes stopped looking to use their powers and skills to serve and protect the communities they lived in. Instead, superheroes began looking to use their powers and abilities to serve themselves. And instead of heroes being the kinds of role models people looked up to people began looking at them as gods that were supposed to be worshipped and even feared.

Clearly many creators have lost perspective on what the American superhero is supposed to be. When creators see superheroes as gods there’s something wrong with the way they’re seeing them.

Because what they see aren’t super-heroes. What they see are Super-villains.

Super-villains see themselves as gods. Super villains see themselves as superior to others. They are aloof, and disconnected from people in the communities they live in. They use their powers and their gifts to serve themselves. They seek to oppress and control the masses. And they look to be worshipped and feared.

A comic book superhero is not a god. A comic book superhero is a character who is a person blessed with talents gifts and abilities. A good writer doesn’t see a superhero as a god, they see them as a person just like you and I. A person with flaws, a person who struggles with life.

That’s what makes us like superheroes. That’s what makes us relate to superheroes. That’s what makes us fans of superheroes and whatever media they’re featured in.

As a guy who writes gods and demons in fantasy stories I find it truly disturbing when comic book creators and superhero movie & TV show producers start talking about superheroes like gods. Whenever I write goddesses like Isis and demons like E’steem, I don’t see them as gods. I see them as people.

 Whenever I’m writing a character like Isis or E’steem I make every effort to look at those characters from an objective perspective. From that perspective I can find the humanity in my characters and see all the little flaws they have. I’ve always believed it’s those flaws and rough edges that give a character like Isis or E’steem the texture and shades that allow readers to connect with them, relate to them and identify with them as people. When the reader sees all the little flaws that make them human then they can truly see what’s great about them.

I believe today’s creators of superhero films and superhero comic books really need to get their favorite characters off a pedestal they have them on and start taking a more objective look at them. When they start taking a look at their favorite characters from a clear and balanced perspective and start seeing the flaws these imaginary people have I believe they’ll be able to discover the humanity of that character and finally be able to tell some truly great stories the audiences of this generation can enjoy.

Donate to the SJS DIRECT COVER KICKSTARTER! I’m raising funds to hire Bill Walko artist of the popular webcomic The Hero Business to design all the covers for the books in the SJS DIRECT 2016 catalog.

This year I’m offering paperbacks & eBooks as rewards and Bill is offering ten (10) single figure character commissions as a reward! People oftentimes wait in line to get Bill’s commissions at comicon and here’s your opportunity to get one without having to pay for admission, gas and parking!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Marvel’s Civil War II & The Definition of Insanity

 Back around 2005 or so Marvel Comics had a little event called Civil War. And in its aftermath most of the Marvel fanbase was split. In fact many were so turned off by what went on in this little event they never bought Marvel comics again.

So why would Marvel want to revisit one of the most reviled storylines in history?

Beats me. I guess it’s something to do since the last reboot after the fourth or fifth Secret Wars went over like brick balloons with readers.

I have to ask: Why do editors at Marvel keep trying to live in the past? Civil War II is just a re-hash of 2005’s Civil War. Which is just a re-hash of the Mutant Registration act storyline that ran in the X-titles of 1986.

A copy of a copy of a copy of a 30-year-old story.  Can’t any of the writers working at Marvel tell an original story these days?

I guess not. If it’s not reboots to correct mistakes from events, it’s re-hashes of old events. Which create more mistakes that need to be fixed by reboots. The rest of the world calls this insanity but this circular logic is considered business as usual for comic book publishers like Marvel.

And to kick things off things for Marvel’s second Civil War, A major character will die! Now how many times have we heard this since 1990? And how many major characters are dead right now? Let’s see:

Professor X
Red Skull
Jean Grey
Richard Rider (Nova)
Every Cosmic entity in the Marvel Universe.

If Marvel’s editors keep killing characters and there won’t be anyone left to headline their books. Seriously, since the Korvac Saga back in the 1970s every character has died at least twice in the Marvel Universe. This plot device is TIRED.

War. Death. Gore. And then more War. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.  Again. And again. And Again. Is that the only story they can tell at Marvel?

Why can’t comics be FUN anymore?

I miss the good old days of the 1980s when an event usually just meant all the heroes coming together to take on a big bad and everyone came out of it in one piece. Sort of like when John Ostrander and John Byrne’s created Legends for DC Comics or when John Byrne and the late Mark Gruenwald coordinated Acts of Vengeance for Marvel. Those were fun events featuring action packed adventures that were easy entry points into the Marvel & DC Universe for new readers.

But death, war, and gore are what Marvel’s editors think sells. To who, I don’t know. Maybe diehard fanboys living in their mother’s basement and angry loners in a trailer park. All I know is that from what I’ve seen and heard from most comic fans is many are tired of this kind of storytelling and they want writers to come up with something fresh. Some domic fans like myself just want the FUN to come back to comics.

I just got through writing an event story John Haynes: The Man Who Rules The World which features almost every character in the SJS DIRECT Universe. And guess what? I didn’t kill a single major character. So I know it’s possible to write a large scale event where the heroes come together to take on a big bad and for it to be an exciting, entertaining, and compelling read.

I’ve learned my lesson about killing characters the hard way when I killed E’steem off back in the first Isis back in 2002. And now that she’s back among the living she’s one of the most popular heroines in my publishing catalog and headlines her own books.

Marvel’s editors need to stop living in the past. The 1980s are over, the1990s are over, and the 2000s are over. Readers want stories that reflect today, not yesterday. Instead of trying to revisit yesterday’s stories with re-hashed sequels of sequels, there should be a push to create stories that are fresh and give readers a unique take on Marvel’s heroes that are fresh and fun. A story doesn’t need a death, a rape or something shocking to make a story payoff for readers. Sometimes the bad guy just getting taken down and going to jail is enough of a satisfying ending for a reader.
 Every story doesn’t need to be an event. All a story needs to be is easy to read for new readers to discover it.

Donate to the SJS DIRECT COVER KICKSTARTER! I’m raising funds to hire Bill Walko artist of the popular webcomic The Hero Business to design all the covers for the books in the SJS DIRECT 2016 catalog like John Haynes: The Man Who Rules The World.

This year I’m offering paperbacks & eBooks as rewards and Bill is offering ten (10) single figure character commissions as a reward! People oftentimes wait in line to get Bill’s commissions at comicon and here’s your opportunity to get one without having to pay for admission, gas and

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Why You Should Donate to the SJS DIRECT Cover Kickstarter

Why should you donate to the SJS DIRECT Cover Kickstarter? Well, SJS DIRECT titles feature positive images of African Americans that boys and girls can look up to as role models. And Most SJS DIRECT titles feature family friendly content that is easy to read and easy to follow. Readers from 8 to 80 can enjoy SJS DIRECT titles and parents can feel comfortable giving the books in the 2016 SJS DIRECT catalog to their children.

The fantasy titles in this year’s catalog are designed to inspire, uplift and make readers think.

Concept Art NOT FINAL
Isis: Imitation of Life is a story inspired by the 1934 Cinematic classic Imitation of Life and 1930s Pulp fiction like Doc Savage and The Shadow. And in this Isis series story set in the 1930s I tell a tale about the strength of character Black women had to show during the tense period of Jim Crow. In the era many White people consider the golden age of Superheroes and pulp fiction I show how heroic Black women were during that time as they made efforts to teach the next generation of men and women the values that would help them overcome the challenges they would face in the Civil Rights movement.

Isis: Imitation of Life is a powerful story that teaches Black history to today’s generation of kids. Many kids growing up today don’t understand the struggles and sacrifices past generations have made for Black people to enjoy the freedoms they take for granted today. With this story, I wanted to show what people from those past generations did to get the Black community to this point in history.

The dedication page of Isis: Imitation of Life will feature the old African Proverb “A nation can rise no higher than the moral position of its women.” If it weren’t for Black women in the 1930s and 1940s having that strong moral position to teach a culture of character to their children wouldn’t have the courage to fight during the Civil Rights movement.

Many readers have been asking me to write stories for young Black boys featuring a strong positive male hero. This year I’m publishing two stories for young Black boys featuring that strong, positive Black male hero. In Isis: Bride of Dracula and John Haynes: The Man Who Rules the World I present that strong positive Black male hero in two fantastic fantasy adventures.

In Isis: Bride of Dracula a follow up to last year’s Isis: Night of the Vampires readers will see a Black man showing strength, courage and character as he helps Isis takes the fight to the dark vampire Lord.

And In John Haynes: The Man Who rules the World readers will see a Black man as a leader who brings people together. In John Haynes: The Man Who Rules The World readers will see John using his intelligence, diplomacy, creativity, resourcefulness and organizational skills bring together humans gods, and demons to stand against a major crisis that threatens the world.

In today’s media we rarely see stories featuring Black males in leadership roles or showing strong masculine traits. Oftentimes when there are Black males in a story they’re usually presented as stereotypes like thugs and criminals in TV shows like Empire or feminized like the recent images of Jayden Smith in Louis’ Vuitton’s Women’s line or like Taye Diggs in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. However, in SJS DIRECT publications I make every effort to present a balanced image of a masculine Black man who presents Black men in a positive light.

And E’steem: The Witches of Eastland is a humorous story featuring an African-American heroine in a fantasy horror comedy similar to Buffy The Vampire Slayer. While there are plenty of tween and Young Adult fantasy titles featuring White fantasy heroines, the E’steem series features a Black woman as the main character and is written to present African-American women in a positive light while giving the reader lots of laughs.

 E’steem: The Witches of Eastland is great reading for tweens and teens who like YA fantasy like Harry Potter and Twilight.

E’steem: The Witches of Eastland has a major plot twist at the end of the story that will impact future E’steem series stories.

FUN FACT: The E’steem character is inspired by actress Salli Richardson Whitfield who was the Voice of Elisa Maza in Disney’s Gargoyles. And whenever I’m writing the E’steem character’s narrative and dialogue I always hear her voice.

I have a great selection of fun fantasy titles to share with readers this year. And all four titles have their stories completed, have their pages laid out and are in their final stages of editing. All I need is a series of covers from a professional artist like Bill Walko to make that powerful first impression on readers. With me being out of work the only way I can afford to pay for those professional covers is with your help. Every dollar donated will be used towards the publication of books featuring covers like those featured on last years’ books Isis: Night of the Vampires and E’steem: Undercover which were paid for when last year’s Isis/E’steem Crossover Kickstarter was successfully funded. This year I need everyone’s help to get this years’ books published. So please donate

Monday, January 11, 2016


  The SJS DIRECT COVER KICKSTARTER Featring the art of Bill Walko Starts today!
This year I’m working to raise $2,800 to hire Bill Walko, artist from the popular webcomic The Hero Business to design all four books in SJS DIRECT’S 2016 publishing catalog. The titles include:

Isis: Bride of Dracula, A follow up to last year’s Isis: Night of the Vampires where the goddess next door and John Haynes team up to take on the dark Vampire Lord,

Isis: Imitation of Life, Inspired by the 1934 classic film Imitation of Life and 1930s pulp fiction like Doc Savage and The Shadow,

John Haynes: The Man Who Rules The World, A sequel to 2011’s The Temptation of John Haynes,


E’steem: The Witches of Eastland A humorous story where the Devilish Diva takes on a trio of witches at a Manhattan boarding school.

I have a series of GREAT rewards to offer people who decide to donate to the project!

For $5 a donor can get an eBook edition of either:

Isis: Imitation of Life,

Isis: Bride of Dracula,

John Haynes: The Man Who rules the World or,

E’steem: The Witches of Eastland.

And for a $20 donation a donor can get ALL FOUR eBooks in the SJS DIRECT 2016 catalog.

For a $20 donation a donor can get a paperback copy of

Isis: Imitation of Life,

Isis: Bride of Dracula,

John Haynes: The Man Who Rules the World or,

E’steem: The Witches of Eastland.

For $30 a donor can pick up an Entry point Paperback Package. In these 2-book packages readers can get caught up quickly on current storylines without a lot of hassle. The 2-Book packages include:

Isis: Imitation of Life and The Thetas.

Isis: Night of the Vampires and Isis: Bride of Dracula

The Temptation of John Haynes and John Haynes: The Man Who Rules The World

For $50 a donor can get paperback editions of ALL FOUR paperbacks in the 2016 SJS DIRECT Catalog. The four paperbacks included in this package are:

Isis: Imitation of Life,
Isis: Bride of Dracula,
John Haynes: The Man Who Rules The World,
And E’steem: The Witches of Eastland

And finally for $200 a donor can get ALL the paperback editions of the books in the SJS DIRECT Universe. The titles included in this package are:

Isis: Trial of the Goddess,
Isis: Amari’s Revenge,
Isis: The Ultimate Fight,
Isis: The Beauty Myth,
Isis: My Sister, My Frenemy,
Isis: All About The Goddess,
Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess,
Isis: Power of the Princess,
Isis: Night of the Vampires,
E’steem: Undercover,
The Temptation of John Haynes,
The Thetas,
Isis: Bride of Dracula
Isis: Imitation of Life,
John Haynes: The Man Who Rules the World,
 E’steem: The Witches of Eastland.

In addition to the eBook and paperback packages, Bill is offering ten (10) donors a chance to get a one single figure commission of the character of their choice for $110. People eagerly wait for Bill Walko commissions at comicons and this is your opportunity to get one without having to wait in line at a con!

This year I’m offering an expanded catalog of titles and a series of great rewards. And I’m hoping everyone takes a minute to donate to the project. Without your support I won’t be able to put quality covers on my titles this year and build on the momentum of last years’ successful Kickstarter. All the stories are finished, back cover blurbs written and All the pages have been laid out. Right now I’m in the middle of final edits. All I need are a series of quality covers from Bill and I’ll be ready to publish all the titles for this year. Help me get this years’ SJS DIRECT book project Kickstarted!

Friday, January 8, 2016


The SJS DIRECT Cover Kickstarter will be launching January 11th! And this year I’m raising funds so Bill Walko, artist of the popular Webcomic The Hero Business can design ALL the covers for the titles in SJS DIRECT’S 2016 Catalog.

Bill designed the covers for the covers for last year’s Isis/E’steem Crossover and he designed the cover for Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess. I’m looking forward to working with him again this year if I can get the project funded.

There will be a several tiers of new rewards including eBooks this year!  And donation for just $5 donation can get a donor an eBook reward!  A $20 donation will get a donor ALL four of the books in the 2016 SJS DIRECT catalog in eBook form.

And along with the single paperback rewards, there are also going to be entry point paperback package rewards too! So a donor can easily get caught up on SJS DIRECT’S continuity quickly and affordably! With these 2-Book packages readers will be able to pick up new books like the upcoming Isis: Bride of Dracula along with last years’ Isis: Night of the Vampires. Or they can pick up a copy of 2011’s The Temptation of John Haynes and the upcoming John Haynes: The Man who Rules the World. Or they can pick up 2013’s The Thetas and the new Isis: Imitation of Life.

In addition to the book rewards, Bill is also offering Ten (10) single figure commissions to 10 lucky donors who contribute to the project! These commissions can be any character, Marvel, DC, SJS DIRECT, Hero Business, or whomever the donor chooses to have rendered. These commissions are highly sought after by comic fans at comicons and you’ll have a chance to own one when you donate to the Kickstarter.

I’m hoping everyone donates to the Kickstarter this year. Thanks to donors last year I was able to put two great covers on the books for last years’ Isis/E’steem Crossover and make a powerful first impression on customers all over the world. I want to continue building on that momentum and expanding the audience for SJS DIRECT books. I have four great titles planned for this year and I really need everybody’s help to make this year’s books a success!


Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 Year in Review


2015 Year in Review

Normally I start out the New Year with my goals. But I’ve been super busy. In between YouTube videos and the editing work on this year’s four (possibly five) new books I haven’t had much time to write blogs. I’ve been working so much on my own projects it’s like I actually have a full-time job these days.

To my surprise I made a lot of progress in 2015. I wasn’t expecting to do much this year, but with God’s help and the support of people online I was able to get a lot further than I planned.

In April I got the Kickstarter funded for the Isis/E’steem Crossover. Thanks to the help of brothers in the community I was able to get the funds to pay Bill Walko of the Hero Business to design the covers for Isis:Night of the Vampires and E’steem: Undercover.

Bill’s covers had a tremendous impact on both books and left a powerful first impression on readers this Summer and Fall. In numerous Facebook Groups both covers left a strong first impression on new readers. And on Smashwords Isis: Night of the Vampires got over 200 Facebook likes and E’steem: Undercover got over 60. Most Books with my own covers usually don’t get those kinds of numbers on Facebook likes. But with a great cover many were willing to give the crossover a try and a few who read the eBooks came back for other titles in the Isis series. A handful even went back to buy all the books in the Isis series.

Both Isis: Night of the Vampires and E’steem: Undercover even managed to get some paperback sales. It’s rare for me to have a paperback sale these days on a new title, but a few readers decided to pick up hardcopy versions of the Isis/E’steem crossover.

Along with the Isis/E’steem Crossover I published the SecondEdition of Stop Simpin. The Second Edition of the first book in the Simp Trilogy was a strong seller (Well, SJS DIRECT wise) on Kindle and Smashwords. Men all over the world picked up the book and came back for the other two book: Manginas: They Look like Men but Act like Ladies and The Misadventures of Captain Save a Hoe.

And I published Lawrence Cherry’s sequel to Commencement TheAtonement this summer as well. Another strong performer, The Atonement managed to not only pick up new readers but bring back readers to buy the other two novels in the Commencement saga: Commencement and School of Hard Knocks: TheRe-Education of Jim Reid.

I spent the summer promoting this year’s books and writing next year’s. Since July I’ve written the first drafts for five new books. Right now all the pages of 2016’s books have been laid out and formatted. I’m in the process of doing edits on the final drafts of them. If I can get this years’ Kickstarter funded, they’ll be ready for an April/May/June release.

I also spent the summer making lots of YouTube Videos. In my second year of making videos, I’m building an audience there. The reason why there haven’t been as many blogs is because many of the blog subjects I present like Men’s issues or issues in the Black community actually get more views and hits on YouTube.

For example my video on Halle Berry got over 1,000 views in three months. While a blog on the same subject got only 20 or so hits.

And a video I did on the Justice or Else March got over 1,000 views. While the blog on the same subject only got 120 or so hits.

And when I produce YouTube videos people friend me on Facebook and a few even buy books.  Currently I have over 1,100 subscribers to the Shawn James YouTube Channel and I’m planning some great content for 2016 for all my viewers.

If anyone has noticed, Blog has become a lot more comic and fantasy centered these days. And that’s because comic fans and fantasy fans read the blog on the regular and look forward to the articles I write. Plus I have a lot more fun producing that kind of content.

I’ve been getting back into writing Men’s issues, but from here on in I want to focus more on men working on improving the quality of their lives. I think men need to start focusing on themselves and putting themselves first. I’d rather write about the little things men can do for themselves like paying themselves first. I believe if more men started focusing on themselves and putting themselves first it could change the culture in America for the better.

In October I launched my sixth novel, Spinsterella. Spinsterella is a Tim Burtonesque romantic comedy featuring an African-American Goth heroine. From responses I’ve gotten from readers on Twitter and YouTube people enjoyed the story and they love Mad Matilda Crowley.

Spinsterella is the first romance I’ve written applying techniques from MRAs/MGTOWs and many of the relationship approaches I’ve written about in my Simp Trilogy books. If one reads the book they’ll actually see that there are no player lines, games, fancy dinners, or wining and dining in Spinsterella’s love story. The man and the woman are equal partners in the relationship. And instead of “falling in love”, the characters take responsibility for their actions and look for intangibles in each other relating to character such as respect and cooperation. In Spinsterella I wanted to show what the foundation for a healthy interdependent relationship looked like.

Spinsterella was the first book I wrote to target not only Black audiences in America but nonblack and foreign audiences as well. I’m well aware of my audience of nonblack and foreign readers and I wanted to offer them a story that would appeal to them too. The Goth subculture is bigger in foreign countries than in the United States and I wanted to tell a story that readers in other parts of the world could relate to and identify with.

I’d love to do another story featuring Mad Matilda, but I want to see what the response will be to Spinsterella. I’ve got an AWESOME YA prequel planned for the character in her high school years, but I need to see if there’s an audience for the book.

In November I did my first radio show The Men’s Advocate Show with Linda Gross. In that hour we discussed my 2012 blog Ways Single Mothers destroy their sons. I had a great time on the show and I’d love to do another show with her again.

I’m working hard to build on much of the progress I made in 2015 this year. I have a new Kickstarter planned for this year’s titles and I’m working on expanding my presence on YouTube. I’m working hard towards getting to the next level and I’m hoping to take some more steps on that journey.