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Thursday, March 31, 2016

DC Comics Rebirth is Just a Re-Hash of the New 52

Comic fans were promised something new and different with DC Comics Rebirth. A relaunch, not a reboot.

Unfortunately all they’re getting is more of the same. I wonder when are comic fans going to stop falling for the okie-doke?

No, DC Comics Rebirth is not a reboot. No, it’s just a Re-hash of the New 52 Basically DC’s editors are just putting lipstick on a pig and calling it salmon. Throwing up yet another middle finger at DC Comic fans.

Yeah, the original Superman is Back. But he’s in the New 52 Universe. Along with the New 52 Superman who will be Clark Kent. And we get a whole host of characters like New 52 Black Kid Flash in Wally’s classic costume shoehorned into the New 52 Universe. And more new costumes.

Again, lipstick on a pig’s asshole. Same shit, different day.

And sadly many comic fans are ready to plant a kiss on those pig’s ass cheeks. Not understanding how DC Comics continues to shit on them.

DC Comics editorial says they want to change. That they understand how they’ve alienated comic fans and in the face of all the losses. That they want to reconnect with comic fans.

But it’s clear they JUST DON’T GET IT.

Giving readers the exact same universe with the a few old characters sprinkled in with some new number one issues is just another SLAP in the face. Proving nothing will change at DC until there is an end of the Didio Era or DC goes bankrupt, whichever comes first.

What DC’s Editors are doing is no different than an abusive husband does when he beats up his wife. After he finishes beating the shit out of her he says he’s “sorry” and offers her “apology gifts” like jewelry or expensive clothes. After She accepts the gifts and the co-dependent cycle continues.

Dan Didio, Jim Lee and DC’s editorial team continue to beat up on comic fans by pushing their New 52 Universe down their throats. Then when they walk away for five years and DC starts losing money and market share they offer DC fans the Original Superman and a couple of characters as an “apology gift” for the disaster known as the New 52 Universe.

An attempt to get DC Fans to return to the co-dependent relationship they had with his dysfunctional DC Comics.

I’m hoping many comic fans don’t take the apology bait and buy those new #1 issues that are a part of DC Comics Re-hash. Because all that’s going to do is enable DC to remain a dysfunctional and damaged brand. The more comics readers buy the more co-dependent they become. And life is too short to allow anyone to abuse you.  

If DC’s editorial can’t respect comic fans then they don’t deserve their money. Simple as that. Create products the customer wants and the customers will come back.

DC Comic fans have said from day one all they want is their CLASSIC DC Universe back. And they should accept no substitutions. Vote with your wallet and let DC’s Rebirth be stillborn at the first issue. Comic fans, you deserve BETTER than what DC has to offer.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Goeff Johns is the New Chris Claremont

Once upon a time there was a writer named Chris Claremont. And with the help of artists like John Byrne and Dave Cockrum and editors like Jim Shooter, he penned one of the greatest runs in comic book history.

And partially thanks to him, the name X-Men is a household name.

Unfortunately, the more popular Chris Claremont got the more books he began taking on. At one point he wasn’t just writing the monthly adventures of The Uncany X-Men, he was also writing New Mutants, the rebranded adventures of the original X-Men called X-Factor and the adventures of X- Characters in the U.K. Excalibur. I even think he wrote a few issues of the 1988 solo Wolverine series too.

But with each new title Claremont took the X-world got bigger, more cumbersome and hard to follow. While Claremont still created many classic storylines, his approach to storytelling started feeling contrived and forced at times. And Instead of stories that ended in two or three issues, stories started to drag on as plot threads were started in X-books and never really came to a satisfying conclusion. Later in his run, a lot of characters were created but never really fully developed like the Adversary and Mr. Sinster. A lot of plot threads from the Mutant Massacre like Kitty Pryde’s being stuck in intangible form and Colossus being stuck in his armored form hung like they were on a cheap suit without an organic conclusion.

And to this day I’m STILL trying to figure out what Longshot contributed to the X-team.

And a lot of times readers like myself were left scratching our heads, especially in the aftermath of events like Fall of the Mutants, Inferno and the built up Reavers storyline that meandered to an anticlimactic finish with the Siege Perilous Ex Machina. 

But most comic fans didn’t care. Because X-Men sold like hotcakes. And because they sold like hotcakes Chris Claremont could do no wrong. Even though the quality of his stories clearly declined from the 1970s comic fans believed in him.

Fast forward to the 21st Century. A writer named Goeff Johns is being put on the same pedestal by comic fans and DC editorial that Chris Claremont was put on over at Marvel. Thanks to the success of his runs on Flash and JSA and Green Lantern many believe that Goeff Johns can do no wrong. Whenever a book is in trouble call on Goeff Johns. Whenever the DC Universe is in trouble call on Goeff Johns.

Now that Dan Didio and Warner Brothers have painted themselves into a corner with the New 52 they’re calling on Goeff Johns to fix it with Rebirth.

 That’s not fair to him.

Back when Johns was given the helm of DC’s flagship New 52 Justice League I believed they gave him too much to do. And it was then I started seeing the same decline in quality I saw in Chris Claremont’s work back in the late 1980s.

It was clear to me and my family members who read X-men back in 1986 that Claremont’s storytelling had declined. That he was taking on too many titles. That he was burning out.

My professional assessment is that Goeff Johns is burning out in the exact same way Chris Claremont did back in the 1980s. He’s taking on too many projects. Trying to carry the load of fixing the entire DC Universe on his own. He’s suffering from writer fatigue and he needs a break from superheroes.

No one person is going to fix the DC Universe on their own. And no one should expect one person to fix the editorial, creative and business problems at DC. Back in 1986 when DC did the first Crisis of Infinite Earths Marv Wolfman and George Perez had an entire TEAM of writers, artists and editors working with them to get DC competitive again. They didn’t put all their hopes on one writer and expect a miracle.

Everyone in comics needs to understand that Goeff Johns is not a golden boy.  Yes there are writers who pen popular stories and work with popular characters, but no editor worth their salt puts all their eggs in their basket. What happens when they write a bad story or a bad storyline? What happens when their hot character they’re working on declines in popularity? What happens when their sales decline?  What happens when their run ends? It’s just not good for business to put all the hopes of the company on one writer.

A publishing house is a TEAM. And everyone has to pull their weight in order to produce quality titles. Again, it’s not fair to Goeff Johns if he has to carry the weight of rebuilding the DC catalog when there are numerous other qualified writers on the payroll.  If editorial doesn’t have the vision to set a direction for them and the publications they produce, then it’s time for a new editorial team to lead the DC Comics brand.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Isis: Bride of Cover by Bill Walko-PREPARE TO GET YOUR MIND BLOWN!

Bill Walko blew my mind.

How did Bill Walko blow my mind?

The image Bill drew for the Isis: Bride of Dracula cover is literally a translation of the scene I imagined when I was describing it in Chapter 11 when John is confronted by the Vampire goddess. It’s just like the picture was plucked out of my mind and put on a page. It looks like a still from an Isis animated series!

I’d have to say this is one of the best pieces Bill has ever created. There’s a lot to love about this art. It not only brings my characters to life and captures their spirit, but it pays homage to Marvel and DC’s Horror comics like Tomb of Dracula and I, Vampire, and Classic Saturday morning cartoons like Filmation’s Groovy Ghoulies and Drac Pack in the story it tells. All those classic concepts are made fresh and unique for today in this one image.

That gift to make the art style of classic comics and old Saturday Morning cartoons fresh and unique for today is what made me a fan of Bill’s art when I first saw it on DeviantArt back in 2013 and what made me eager to hire him in 2014 to design the cover for Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess and again for Isis: Night of the Vampires and E’steem Undercover in 2015. His art style is perfect for my characters.

Isis: Bride of Dracula is supposed to be the conclusion of the John Haynes story arc that started with Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess. This story is supposed to be the exclamation point that would get readers excited about the Isis series and May’s upcoming Temptation of John Haynes sequel The Man Who Rules The World. And this cover is an exclamation point in bold print!  

If there was ever a cover that screamed BUY ME to customers, it’s the one. If I saw this art on Amazon, or on the shelf at Barnes & Noble or at a comic shop, I would probably buy it in a heartbeat.

I haven’t been this excited about a cover since my high school days when I used to buy comics before school. And I think my readers will be just as excited when they read Isis: Bride of Dracula.

Isis: Bride of Dracula will be available in paperback & eBook next week and I assure you, readers of the Isis series are in for a TREAT!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Batman V. Superman Dawn of FAIL- I TOLD YOU SO!

The reviews are in.

And the Critics are saying what I said about Batman V. Superman Dawn of Justice way back in my 2015 blog on the trailer.

It’s an absolutely terrible movie.

Warner Brothers Executives laid an egg just in time for Easter weekend. And it’s just as rotten as I told everyone it would be last year.

Critics are calling Batman V. Superman a dull dreary movie filled with uninspired visuals, angry characters, no personality and no heart. A film that uses CGI to overcompensate for its lack of story.

Everything I wrote in my previous blog last year.

It was clear to me that Warner Brothers has STILL learned NOTHING since Catwoman in 2004 after I saw the first Batman V. Superman trailer. They’re still applying the archaic model for films that hasn’t worked since Joel Schumacher’s terrible Batman films in the 1990’s.  

Batman V. Superman is yet another film that proves that WB STILL doesn’t know anything about making superhero movies. They’re still trying to apply a 1990s story model to superhero films that has been obsolete since 2002 when Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man changed the game.

And the game changed even further in 2008 when Paramount and Marvel Studios launched Iron Man. But Warner Brothers continues to apply the same dark and dreary approach to superhero movies that went out of style in 1997.

Warner Brothers and DC were way behind in the superhero movie race back during the Christian Bale Batman era. And now they’re about to be left in the dust. Probably permanently. At this point I think Valiant Comics has a better chance of catching up to Marvel Studios. Heck, I think SJS DIRECT will be catching up with Marvel Studios by the time Warner Brothers finally realizes they need to get their shit together.

Is there a FAIL more than EPIC? I think we’re about to find out.

With a bloated $400 million budget Batman V. Superman is a disaster the equal of Cleopatra. And with a half the comic fans staying home this weekend due to the split audience, it’s going to have a hard time at the box office.

Batman V. Superman needs to make $1.2 billion dollars in order to be profitable for Warner Brothers. And based on what’s on the screen, that ain’t gonna happen. With Cavill and Affleck acting like a pair of cardboard cutouts with cell phones taped to them, Jesse Eisenberg playing a Lex Luthor that’s totally out of character and Doomsday looking like something out of a PS1 game, this movie is gonna sink like a rock after opening weekend.

And it doesn’t help when you have stars like Ben Affleck telling the world on Good Morning America he can’t take his son to see a movie with Batman & Superman in it because it’s too violent.

That’s the kind of PR that’ll to cut into those movie ticket sales for opening weekend and the weekends after. Superhero movies are supposed to be made for kids. That’s how movies like The Avengers make a billion dollars at the box office. By being bright, fun pictures filled with friendly heroes parents enjoy bringing their kids to. The equivalent of a Disney or Pixar movie with guys in spandex instead of colorful characters.

But Warner’s executives insist that dark and gritty heroes are the way to go. That if Superman and Batman are brooding angry killers people will be excited to see their films. That there’s a huge market for an R-Rated Superman and Batman, the faces of family entertainment who have sold everything from soap to peanut butter for over 75 years.

Good Gravy, what are these Warner Brothers executives on?

As I stated in my 2015 blog about this cinematic turd waxed with polish, WB’s executive management needs to clean house from top to bottom at DC Comics and DC Comics film division. They need a new vision for their comics and their superhero films. Because the one they have right now hasn’t worked for two decades.  If they stay on this course and continue to make terrible overbudgeted superhero movies with no audience like Cyborg and Aquaman there may not be a Warner Brothers left standing in five years.

Batman V. Superman was supposed to be the Dawn of a new era of Superhero films at Warner Brothers. But it looks like it’s about to be the twilight of a dysfunctional era at DC Comics and for DC Comics films. If this film’s failure leads to more competent professionals working at DC pand in DC’s film division publishing their comics and adapting their properties that’s a good thing. Change has to come at DC’s offices in Burbank after the roasting this film is receiving. 

Again, if Warner Brothers is serious about getting DC’s superhero films division and comic publishing division in shape to compete with Marvel and Marvel Stuidos they can contact me on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Dealing With Bad Comic & Fantasy Stories- A Writer’s Perspective

Sometimes a writer like myself writes a story that’s not our best. Sometimes the story elements don’t work, sometimes the characterizations are a little off. The climax doesn’t satisfy. And sometimes the ending is just kind of wonky.

What does a writer like myself do when he has a bad story?

Well, I take a page from Stan Lee and own up to the fact that it’s a bad story. Then I just put a period at the end of that story and move on to the next one. If a story just doesn’t work, I just won’t revisit that story. Yeah, I may pick a story point here or there to use in another story for continuity reasons, but for the most part I just move on.

I understand while the structure of something like a comic book universe or a fantasy world are solid, the form is fluid. And that form can be re-shaped in a way without damaging the overall foundation of the universe.

These days in comics I don’t see a lot of writers applying Stan’s approach when it comes to bad stories. Instead of putting a period at the end of a bad story, they try to “fix” most of the events of that previous story that didn’t work.  In fact they spend so much time trying to undo the damage of a bad story or a bad storyline that they don’t have time to write many good ones or even put their own imprint on a character.

And instead of a writer focusing on moving forward towards the finish line of their run, they wind up stuck in neutral. Stalling as they try to bring a character they killed back from the dead or undoing some catastrophe from an event that was supposed to shock readers. Desperately trying to get a series back on track and get alienated fans to start picking the book up again.

Unfortunately, the more they try to “fix” the mistakes in an older story the more they wind up breaking the character and burning out creatively. And instead of admitting their mistakes and putting a period at the end of that story, they put more effort into tearing apart the structure and foundations of the publication’s universe to fix more things that aren’t broken. Then they try to patch it all back together with spit, glue, tape and a new number one issue.

Only to watch things collapse under their own weight three to five years later.
Sometimes a bad story doesn’t need to be fixed with an event. Sometimes a bad story doesn’t need to be fixed with a reboot. Sometimes a publisher just has to admit a story just doesn’t work and move on.

How does that writer move on? The plot device they use is up to them. But with the form of comic storytelling being fluid, all a writer has to do is put a period at the end of a bad story and go on to the next one to get things right.

Many comic editors and some creators don’t understand Stan’s Lee approach today. When it came to continuity in between serialized stories, Stan Lee applied a looser approach where he took each story on as its own individual unit with its own beginning, middle, and end. And because he approached each story as an individual component that loosely connected with others by light references, writers had the fluidity of form to put a period at the end of bad stories and move on to better ones.

Unfortunately, may comic editors these days focus on making almost every story and literally every minute of characters’ lives interweave with each other in the hopes of having a tight continuity. And because the threads every plot thread are so tightly woven and enmeshed around the structure of a comic book Universe it makes it harder for a writer to put that period at the end of that bad story when they write it.

And even harder to move forward after a bad story gets published. This is why writers spend years trying to get an entire universe fixed in the aftermath of the failed events of a bad storyline like Identity Crisis or Graduation Day.

Sticking an entire universe of characters in Neutral instead of moving them forward.

Bad stories are a part of any writers’ career. I’ve written them myself. For every great story I’ve written like The Temptation of JohnHaynes, Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess, Spinsterella, and All About Marilyn, I’ve written not so great stories like The Politics of Hell, Isis: Death of aTheta, E’steem: The Beast From the Bowels and The Saga of MastiKatious. But when a story doesn’t work, I don’t dwell on it. I just put a period at the end of that story, pick the story points that do work from it, and move on to the next story. Every second a writer spends dwelling on a bad story and trying to fix it is time they could use towards writing a great one.

Monday, March 21, 2016

You Can’t Please DC Comics Fans- Deconstructing A Straw Man

“You can’t please DC Comics fans, they’re always complaining”

 That’s the argument some make whenever someone makes the point of criticizing the company for the series of bad decisions that have led to the decline of the brand.

Time to take apart a Straw Man.

I don’t know I was fairly happy with DC Comics from about 1986-2004.  In fact many people didn’t have problems with DC’s publishing division until the mid 2000s when Dan Didio began making a whole host of changes detrimental to the DC story model and the overall brand.

These same people then go on to say “Old time DC fans don’t like change.”

Another Straw Man argument.

DC Comics fans have absolutely no problem with change.

There wasn’t much outrage when Clark Kent went from writing at the Daily Planet to TV reporting in the 1970s.

There was no outrage when Dick Grayson went from Robin, Batman’s sidekick to being his own man Nightwing.

And initially there was no problem when Jason Todd took over as Robin to replace him.

There was no outrage when Wally West took over for Barry Allen as the Flash.

There was no outrage when Tim Drake took over for Jason Todd as Robin.

There wasn’t much outrage when Kyle Rayner took over for Hal Jordan as Green Lantern.

There wasn’t much outrage when Connor Hawke took over for Oliver Queen as Green Arrow.

And there DEFINITELY wasn’t any outrage when Jack Knight took over the role of Starman for his father Ted.

Nor was there any outrage when Michael Holt took over the role of Mr. Terrific.

And many had absolutely no issue with Ryan Choi being the next Atom.

DC Comics fans are perfectly fine with change. In fact they’re practically used to it with events like Crisis of Infinite Earths and Zero Hour. Many actually enjoy the concept of legacy heroes that came out of those events and the idea of passing down the mantel of a hero from one generation to the next in an organic fashion.

What many longtime DC fans like myself don’t like are changes that irreparably harm the structure of the DC Universe. Stories like Identity Crisis which treat longtime readers like they’re stupid and try to revise history with events that don’t fit the timeline or actions that don’t fit characters we know like the backs of our hands.

And what we can’t stand are constant reboots and “restarts” to “fix” the mistakes editorial knew they made when they let a creative team go in the wrong direction. Or when editorial forced a bad storyline on readers like Identity Crisis. Most of these events and reboots over the past decade or so have been implemented to fix the numerous mistakes in stories that should have never been published in the first place like Graduation Day and Identity Crisis. Stories that just weren’t good enough to be part of the DC lore.

 It’s those kinds of stories that made DC Comics harder to read and harder to access. It’s those kinds of stories that led to the frustration. Instead of owning up to the mistakes from a bad story and moving on, DC’s editorial blow up the entire universe and start all over.

Breaking more things in their attempt to fix what they broke before. Alienating readers and making things that much more complicated with each new #1 issue. Then telling the reader this is the new entry point into the DC Universe.

When it’s not the publisher’s right to tell the reader where to start. Any comic will probably be someone’s first. And if the reader likes what they’re reading, they’ll figure things out for themselves.

 When comics are good, people don’t care about where the entry point is. If a story is good that’s their entry point into that characters’ adventures.

Because when a story is well written, readers can jump in and just start reading. They’re interested in watching their favorite hero taking down the bad guys, not worrying about the minutiae within the continuity of a character’s history.

Good storytelling gets readers to focus on what’s going on NOW. When the storytelling is well written and compelling readers will go back into a characters’ backstory or continue to go forward in their current adventures.

The way I see it DC fans are easy to please. In fact many aren’t asking for much. They just want great stories featuring their favorite characters. Give them great stories and they’ll start buying comics.

Unfortunately, they haven’t gotten that since Dan Didio took over the DC publishing division. Under his leadership all readers have gotten is a constant focus on events, gimmicks, and trying to fix a continuity that wasn’t really broken.

The heart of DC’s brand has always been about the characters. And telling good stories around them. These days there’s so much focus has been on continuity of the DC Universe that the people in it are becoming lost. It was the people in that universe readers had the relationship with. And they want their characters back.

Not watered down imitations like those in the New 52 or whatever reconstituted universe in Knock-Off costumes. They want the characters they grew up with. The characters whose adventures they followed since they were kids. Those were the characters they had the relationship with growing up. The friends who were with them in the good times and bad. Give DC readers those characters and I guarantee you they’ll be happy with the DC Comics brand again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How DC's Constant Restarts Hurt Comic Shops Business

I’m hard on DC Comics. Why? Because DC Comics Editorial makes the business of buying and selling comics hard.

Worse, they make it hard for local comic shop owners to stay in business. Your local comic shop has a very narrow profit margin. And all of the bad decisions at DC Comics Editorial shrink that profit margin every month.

Thanks to the contraction of the comic book industry in the mid-1990s, the only place to get comic books these days is at a local comic shop. Sure, you can get trades and graphic novels at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and you might get a comic or two at Barnes & Noble there if the manager is generous enough to stock them. But most 32-page comics are bought and sold at comic shops.

And most comic books aren’t returnable.

In trade publishing, the paperbacks and hardcovers that don’t sell during the season are returned to the publisher for credit on next season’s releases. And those remaindered books are sold to liquidators like those airport shops, discount stores, and bargain bookstores for pennies on the dollar. However the comic books that don’t sell the shop owner is stuck with.

And they have to figure out some way to get the money back for all those comics.

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s when there was a thriving back issue market, those unsold comics were usually profitable for a comic shop. Because every comic was structured to be an entry point at the Big Two and indies, readers had extra incentive to pick up older issues in a characters’ series. And a comic shop could reap big profits on older rare issues like a #1.

But over the last twenty years of reboots and restarts with multiple new #1 issues comic fans haven’t had that incentive to buy those back issues. And with trade paperbacks compiling those issues at lower prices and being sold at a discount at retailers like, comic fans can choose to leave the floppies on the shelf and wait for the trade. Forcing comic shop owners to sell 32-page comics at deeply discounted prices.

This is why a $3.99 comic book can be found in a dollar box, a 50-cent box or even a quarter box. That comic shop owner is hoping they can recoup some sort of loss on that comic.

Thanks to the constant relaunches at Marvel and DC, comic shops are feeling the pinch. With each reboot or relaunch they wind up getting stuck with leftover comics they just can’t move. With each new #1 issue they can’t move older unsold back issues.

 Unsold back issues that aren’t returnable.

And due to those unsold back issues many comic shops are having their business jeopardized. Similar to the speculator boom of the 1990’s that led to the overprinting of comic books, and foil stamped variant covers all these reboots and relaunches are saturating the comic market with comics. Driving down the value of comic books.

Driving away the audience. With each reboot and relaunch readers have less incentive to go out and buy a characters’ adventures. It’s hard to care about a character when a reader knows their adventures will end around the 36th or 50th issue. Thanks to this cycle Some readers will wait for trades. Others will wait for digital. But most are choosing to just not buy comics.

And that’s hurting business at comic shops. As they tried to adapt to the changing market, many have tried to supplement their business with action figures, video games and imported toys. But even that business is struggling due to all these relaunches.

It’s hard for collectors to buy an action figure when there is no “official” version of Superman or Batman. When there’s a different universe every three to five years that leads to confusion in the comic shop and the toy aisle for comic fans and kids. Sure us older fans know who the “real” Superman is. But that 10-year old kid?

He doesn’t have a clue. Thanks to all the reboots, relaunches and multiple versions of characters in film, TV, video games wearing different costumes claiming to be the same character any version to him is the “Real” version. And that’s going to be bad business for the comic industry. Especially if the comic shops struggle.

Every form of derivative media like TV shows and movies and other licensed merchandise like action figures adapted from comic books its work needs comic books to remain in print. Because without that source material being regularly available there is no way to create content for new audiences. And if the comics can’t sell at the comic shop then there is no source to create those adaptations.

Thanks to all these reboots there has been a huge decline in DC’s sales at the comic shops and retail. And the comic shop has felt that hit the hardest. Which is why many are choosing to order less comics from the company’s latest Rebirth relaunch. They’re tired of losing money. They’re tired of being stuck with comics they can’t sell. In an effort to save their business they’re deciding not to order comics. Which is a direct hit on Warner Brothers’ bottom line.

Comic shops have had enough of the lack of direction at DC Comics and Warner Brothers regarding the DC Comics brand. They have been patient over the last five years waiting for DC to get it together with this New 52 reboot, Convergence and whatever event Dan Didio imagines will jump start DC’s dead sales. And they’re tired of waiting. In those five years they’ve watched as droves of longtime buyers have abandoned the DC Comics brand. Some leaving comics altogether. Money they’ll never see again. Business they’ll never get back.

At this point they’re tired of the excuses. They want Warner Brothers executives to hire a new Editorial team at DC and a new President for the brand. They want a visionary who will rebuild the brand and bring together those frustrated factions of fragmented fans and unite them in their passion and enthusiasm for DC’s catalog of heroes and the DC’s brand. Someone who will revive interest in the DC way of publishing comics and get people excited about DC Comics. Someone who will drive foot traffic for DC Comics at the comic shops and get readers buying comics again.

Monday, March 14, 2016


Bad news:

The SJS DIRECT Cover Kickstarter did not get enough donations to get funded.

I want to take a moment to thank all those who donated to the Kickstarter for their support and Bill Walko for taking the time to offer his support to partner with me on the project.

In spite of this setback, the titles for the 2016 SJS DIRECT catalog will be going to print as scheduled.

Thanks to the support of some of my YouTube viewers, and a Google ad payment from YouTube, I’ll be able to put one of Bill’s covers on Isis: Bride of Dracula and finish the John Haynes story arc in the Isis series. Isis: Bride of Dracula is a follow up to 2015’s Isis:Night of the Vampires and will be released this April as the headliner for this year’s titles.

All four of the books with Bill’s covers are actually part of what I call the John Haynes story arc. Those include Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess, Isis: Night of the Vampires, E’steem Undercover, and Isis: Bride of Dracula. In this arc, Isis meets John Haynes from The Temptation of John Haynes and the storyline in all the books builds a floor on the foundation of the SJS DIRECT Universe.

The Man Who Rules The World will be released this May with the concept cover that got a positive impression on Facebook a few weeks ago.

The Man Who Rules The World is a follow up to 2011’s critically acclaimed The Temptation of John Haynes. This one is a BLOCKBUSTER. If you liked movies like The Avengers, Avengers Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War, and comics like The Infinity Gauntlet, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. Almost every character in the SJS DIRECT Universe appears in this story, and it has an epic feel like an event comic or a big budget movie.

All those readers who asked me to write that book for young Black boys need to pick up The Man Who Rules The World. This one features one of the strongest Black male heroes I’ve ever written and presents an extremely positive example of Black manhood and Black masculinity.

E’steem: The Witches of Eastland will be released this June and will feature a new big print cover format. Not what I wanted to put on the cover, but I’m hoping E’steem series readers continue picking up her adventures in spite of the cover. There’s a MAJOR revelation at the end of E’steem The Witches of Eastland that will impact the E’steem character and future E’steem series stories in the future so readers have to pick that one up!

Unfortuantely, Isis: Imitation of Life will be delayed until I can find a way to pay for its cover. I believe that book is too important to not release it with a quality cover. The story of African-American heroes set in the Golden Age of superheroes and Pulp fiction is one I want people to read and take notice of. While my concept is strong, I can’t use that art. The subject matter is too important to have the book this book to be attacked by literary elitists and book snobs who only judge books by their covers.

I wrote Isis: Imitation of Life not only to show the struggles a Negro heroine like Isis went through during the tense time of the 1930s with Jim Crow and discrimination, but to also pay my respects to those Men and Women who put their lives at risk during the pre-Civil Rights to fight for the rights and freedoms we have today. I’m going to make every effort to put a quality cover on that book before I release it.

In Isis: Imitation of Life’s place will be Isis: Samurai Goddess, a story set right after the events of Isis: Bride of Dracula and The Man Who rules the World and puts the Isis series back on track after all the events of the John Haynes arc. Like E’steem: The Witches of Eastland, Isis: Samurai Goddess features a Big letter cover, the interim standard for the SJS DIRECT trade dress.  

Again, I’m sorry I couldn’t put quality covers on all four titles of this years’ books. And I’m hoping everyone continues to come out and support SJS DIRECT titles. I appreciate all your support and I’m making every effort to keep raising the quality of SJS DIRECT publications until there’s no difference between them and those produced by trade publishers. If I could get a full-time job to pay for the expenses like art for book covers I believe I could actually produce publications that could compete with trade houses.

I’m going to keep persevering and keep publishing. And I’m hoping you continue to support SJS DIRECT publications. While the failure of the SJS DIRECT Cover Kicksarter is a setback it doesn’t discourage me. It just makes me work that harder towards my goal of having a bestselling book.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Thoughts on Captain America Civil War Trailer II

I was at the library when around noon they began posting the second trailer for Captain America: Civil War. And all I have to say is:


Spider-man with eyes on the mask that move just like the comics.


If the Internet is broken today, this trailer is probably responsible for it. I had to watch that bad boy TWICE to catch EVERYTHING that was in it. And I’m about to go see the trailer for a third time today after I post this blog.

From the trailers, Captain America: Civil War looks like it’s going to be one of the best superhero movies to date. This one looks like it has GREAT story with HUGE action sequences. From the Cap/Iron Man battles to Black Panther and Winter Soldier throwing down, it literally looks like a comic book come to life. From Spidey’s eyes to Hawkeye firing Ant-Man on an arrow, there’s so much stuff taken from 50 plus years of Marvel Comics and brought to the screen it’s not funny. There’s probably gonna be a lot of us fans headed to the theater to see it for a second or third time to catch all the awesome Easter eggs in this film. Disney should have at least a $250 million opening guaranteed if the film is as spectacular as what they’ve presented in the trailer.

When I got on social media to catch the buzz after the trailer the response from people on social media almost all of it was pretty much positive. Almost every comic fan and Joe and Jane average online was practically buzzing about the trailer. Young and old, people are excited for this film.  

The united and positive response to Captain America: Civil War is total contrast from the apathy, anger and frustration viewers got viewing Batman. V. Superman Dawn of Justice trailers. And a total contrast from the bickering and arguing I’ve seen buzzing around that film. With an audience split like this DC’s Justice League Universe is in trouble.  If WB can’t squelch this Civil War between its fans and make a product good enough to unite them like the Supergirl TV show, they are going to be out of the superhero movie business for good.

The way things look right now Warner Brothers is Cam Newton and Marvel Studios is the Denver Broncos Defense. And WB is nearing the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter of the Superhero movie game WAY behind.

Captain America Civl War show us how you create a trailer for a blockbuster. Plain and simple you make a GREAT film and showcase the best parts of it.

The first trailer for Captain America: Civil War whet my appetite for this film. And the second one has me eager to buy tickets. The way I see it, May 5 can’t come fast enough. I’m looking forward to this film, it looks like a game changer for the superhero genre. Just when you thought Marvel Studios couldn’t get any better… they take it to the next level.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Is DC’s Rebirth DC's Last Chance to Reach Comic Fans?

When it comes to DC, Comic fans, comic shop owners and toy collectors haven’t been happy with the brand for close to a decade and a half. And they have good reason to be cynical about DC Comics recent “Rebirth” relaunch. I have to wonder if this is the last chance for the DC brand.

We’ve all heard it before. And the tune that Dan Didio played in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015 has gotten tired each time it’s been played. Each time he has promised big changes to DC fans. And all readers got was more confusion and more disappointment with each promise of a return to greatness.

Many Comic fans haven’t been happy with the direction of DC Comics for at least 15 years. All the darkness, death and depression in the pages of DC Comics have turned the reading experience of a DC Comic into a miserable one. Instead of readers anticipating the next issue they get worried about which of their favorite characters is going to be bastardized or butchered in a brutal murder in the pages of a DC Comic.

Comic fans were promised change with DC You after the Convergence. A year ago readers were told that their old universe existed. But DC continued to push the New 52 down DC Fans throats even in the face of losing 10 percent market of DC’s market share.

Seeing DC’s editorial team continue to double down after Convergence has made many comic fans cynical. Many were apathetic on the announcement of DC You. Instead of the arguing that has plagued DC boards there was silence. Even with the promise of the return of storied Action Comics and Detective Comics to their original numbers after Rebirth there was still so much silence you could hear a pin drop.

And silence is bad in the publishing business. Silence means that the audience doesn’t care anymore. That it’s moved on.

Along with the comic fans, many toy collectors haven’t been happy with the direction of the DC’s merchandising since 2011. That was the time Mattel decided to discontinue their popular DC Universe Classics line and push a new action figure line featuring New 52 versions of DC Characters. When the new line debuted at retail it was dead on arrival. Even New 52 Batman clogged pegs for months.  And Batman has sold consistently at toy stores for over 25 years.

Mattel tried to appease toy collectors with a Club Infinite Earths Subscription service but in between Digital River’s high shipping costs and people still stinging from the loss of the Classic DC Universe in print, the subscription didn’t take off. By the second year many had made the plan to move past Mattel’s DC figures for other lines like Marvel Legends, WWE, and Monster High.

These days recent lines like DC Multiverse have clogged pegs at Toys R Us and Target. And DC Collectible figures featuring New 52 designs are still clogging shelves at comic shops. Many can’t get rid of them even at clearance prices.

And over the past year or so many fans are so tired of waiting DC to get its shit together that they’re dumping their collections of DC Superhero figures from both the classic and New 52 eras on eBay and are moving on. Bargains can be found on the auction site if you type in DC Universe Classics. Figures that once received $50 and $100 bids at auction seven years ago can be had for less than retail. And if one goes to a comic con, they can even find some of those carded figures at prices close to retail seven years ago.

And comic shop owners haven’t been happy with the DC Brand in the last two years. Yes, the New 52 led to a huge surge of sales in the beginning as curious casuals came in to try new titles in 2011. But over the past five years as sales have declined and DC has lost more and more market share to Marvel Comics and Indies, they’ve been stuck with hundreds of thousands of back issues and trades they can’t return or even get rid of in even the quarter bins.

And with this new “Rebirth” relaunch they may be stuck with them permanently. After a relaunch, or a reboot new readers aren’t going to be eager to head to the back issues to read older comics or pick up older trades. And older back issues are a major part of a comic shops business.

DC and Warner Brothers poor business decisions over the past have alienated fans, toy collectors and comic shops.  And one has to wonder if five years has been enough time for most comic fans to finish mourning DC’s iconic characters and make plans to move past them to find other characters to like at indies and competitors like Marvel. From the indifferent response DC You got last year and Rebirth is getting now, one has to wonder if this will truly be the last chance for the brand with fans. 

The DC brand is in crisis. Yeah, you’ve heard me say that before. But DC fans are so fragmented and frustrated that they find little to get excited about regarding the DC brand these days. They’re looking for something to ignite that spark and get them excited about their favorite heroes again. Something the entire collective of DC fans can get behind like Marvel fans have over the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But honestly I don’t think Rebirth will be it.

With Didio and his gang of five still in charge at DC, many DC fans still see it Rebirth as more of the same. More promises of change with things still staying the same. So there’s no incentive for comic fans to go out and buy those new #1 issues.

At this point it looks like Rebirth will be too little too late for DC. If anything it looks like it could be the symbolic nail in the coffin for the Didio era at DC. I believe the real rebirth of DC Comics will only come only when Dan Didio is fired by Warner Brothers executives and the Post Didio era begins. Then fans can finally find a reason get excited about DC Comics and its characters again.

Monday, March 7, 2016


Sometimes the inspiration for a book comes out of nowhere.
For the past month I’ve been doing a series on YouTube called Why You Should never hire a Mangina. And in that series I’ve been outlining the reasons why businesses shouldn’t hire Manginas and the numerous dysfunctional behaviors they participate in.

And many people have enjoyed that series. In the e-mails and comments I’ve received on YouTube Some people have even identified people on their jobs who participate in the unprofessional and counterproductive behaviors in their workplaces.

The video series is currently on its seventh going on eighth part. And I’m gonna put together a playlist for it soon so people can access it. But while I was working on the seventh part I came up with an idea for a new book that’ll be part of The Simp Series.

Stop Simpin In the Workplace is an eBook I’m writing detailing all the dysfunctional and counterproductive behaviors Simps participate in on the job. Each year Simpin on the job costs businesses countless hours of overtime and reduced productivity. Not to mention millions of dollars in court costs and damages from sexual harassment lawsuits.

And in some cases it costs people their lives with workplace violence such as stalking, murders from workplace romances gone sour, and mass shootings.

STOP Simpin in the Workplace is a book designed to help employees, managers and co-workers identify the behaviors of a Simp on the job. And to provide them with solutions on how to constructively deal with these behaviors in the workplace so they won’t disrupt the workplace, reduce productivity, and decrease worker morale.

The faster a manager or an executive deals with a Simp in their workplace the faster they can get their business back on track to being competitive. Every day a Simp is in the workplace he is wasting time and costing a business money. And the longer he stays in your business, the more it increases chances of that going out of business. A business owner can nip that behavior in the bud after reading Stop Simpin in the Workplace.

I’m working on the seventh chapter of Stop Simpin in the workplace and I hope to have the book ready for a fall/holiday release.