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Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Monday, June 27, 2016
I’m a big Jim Rhodes fan. He’s one of my favorite comic characters in the Marvel Universe. When I saw him in the original David Micheline/JRJR/Bob Layton comics in my Brother’s comic collection as a kid I became an Iron Man fan for life.
But I’m gonna go on record saying War Machine is a LAME character.
Yeah, I love the War Machine Armor. When I first saw it in Iron Man #282 it was a badass looking design. With it’s black and silver it looked like Iron man was ready to kick someone’s ass.
But when you take another look at War Machine from a creative standpoint as a character separate from Iron Man it’s a hollow concept.
Basically War Machine is just an Iron Man suit painted black and silver with a bunch of guns bolted to it. That’s cool in theory. Until you realize that the Iron Man suit features some of the most advanced weapons in the Marvel Universe. So the guns are kind of redundant.
Seriously, what does Iron Man need with guns on his arms when he has repulsor rays that can shatter mountains? Why does Iron Man need shoulder mounted mini missiles to damage something when he has pulse bolts that can demolish a building in seconds? And what can a Gatling gun on your shoulder do that a Uni-beam or a finger laser can’t?
Just seems stupid when you think about it. Especially when you realize that Iron Man suits are invulnerable, are strong enough to knock out the Hulk and have advanced targeting computers.
Yeah, guns, guns guns. That flash and go boom, but they have no substance when it’s time to write a story.
The only thing LAMER than War Machine is Simon Baz’s gun. Seriously, you have the most powerful weapon in the universe and you still want to carry a piece? I thought the standard for becoming a Green Lantern was being completely honest and totally fearless. Baz just looks like a fraidy cat holding that nine millimeter security blanket instead of wielding that power ring like a boss.
Anyway, What really makes War Machine LAME is the fact that Jim Rhodes proved to the world he had what it took to be Iron Man during Tony Stark’s second fall off the wagon in the 1980s. Of course he couldn’t fix anything, but he knew his way around the operating systems well enough to fight in the original Secret Wars.
And the Silver Centurion armor was originally designed for Rhodey to wear, not Tony Stark.
So why give him this second rate suit featuring a bunch of guns bolted to it? Is it a consolation prize for not getting the chance to wear the BOSS Silver Centurion suit back in the 80’s? I mean, War Machine looks COOL from a design standpoint. But as a concept for a superhero War Machine is just so one dimensional.
Don’t get me wrong, Rhodey’s a great character. But I always felt his best role was supporting Tony Stark. As the sidekick he added something to Iron Man stories. A voice of reason. A best friend. A partner who got him out of a jam with a badguy so he could suit up. I’m cool with him putting on a suit and helping out in an emergency or for a run of Iron Man comics.
But Jim Rhodes as War Machine full time always felt forced. Clumsy. Awkward. I bought the first couple of issues of the original run of War Machine comics back in the 1990’s and they were absolutely TERRIBLE. The worst direction the character could have ever taken. In those solo stories Jim lost his “voice” and went absolutely nowhere. The character had no mission, no purpose and no substance. It was clear from the first issue that the writers just didn’t know what to do with him when they had him armor up.
Rhodey had armor and an attitude, but he didn’t have any of the elements needed for a compelling comic story. Rhodey didn’t have Tony’s inventiveness or tech savviness. So he couldn’t fix an Iron man suit or create a new gadget or specialty weapon like a proton cannon to save the day. He didn’t have Tony’s battle experience so he didn’t have a deep roster of bad guys. And he didn’t have Tony’s money so he couldn’t even buy things like those mini missiles or the bullets for the Gatling gun on that War Machine suit.
When you boil it down Jim Rhodes as War machine is basically a guy who owns an Iron man suit with a bunch of guns attached to it. That gets kind of old. Seriously, how many stories can you write about a guy flying around in an Iron man suit with guns on it shooting at things?
Bob Layton, one of Jim Rhodes’ co-creators said that putting Jim Rhodes in an Iron Man suit was a mistake years ago. And I agree with him. Just like Superman needs civilians like Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen to fit into the background of his world to make him appear powerful, Tony Stark needed Jim Rhodes to be in the background of Iron Man comics. Civilians play an important role in the supporting cast of a superhero comic. And sometimes the best characters in a comic are the ones who aren’t in costume.
Again, I’m a big Jim Rhodes fan. And I love the War Machine suit. But putting the two together to make a new superhero just doesn’t work. War Machine is just a guy an Iron Man suit with a bunch of guns attached to it. And while it has flash, it just doesn’t have the substance to make it stand on its own from a creative standpoint. Who needs a guy in an Iron Man suit with a bunch of guns on it to do what Iron man already does without them?
Friday, June 24, 2016
I’ve been watching a disturbing trend among some comic fans. Where they put put comic book writer Goeff Johns on a pedestal.
Yes, Goeff Johns had a great run of issues on the Flash. But so did Bill Messener-Loebs. And so did Mark Waid.
When fans put creators on pedestals and deify them, it’s a bad thing. That means they’re not connecting with the character, but worshipping the creator. And instead of readers becoming fans of the character they become fans of a creator.
Goeff Johns is not the end all to be all for comic writing. Yes, he had good runs on DC titles such as Flash, JSA, and Green Lantern, but he’s made his fair share of mistakes too like the FlashPoint event and a forgettable run on Marvel’s Avengers. And he shouldn’t be the barometer other comic writers should be measured by.
Nor should his version be considered the definitive version of any character. Yes, his stories are entertaining. They’re compelling. But I do not consider his version of any DC Character to be the ONLY one.
That’s why I was irked when I saw the excessive focus on adapting Johns stories on CW’s The Flash TV show. The adaptation of FlashPoint right after an entire season of Johns Zoom is a slap in the face to all the creators who contributed to the development of the character over the last 60 years. If this is a show that’s an adaptation of The Flash, it should encompass all the creators who contributed to the characters’ development not just Goeff Johns.
Superheroes have many creative teams that contribute to their evolution. And their contributions deserve to be regarded by fans as well. We’re supposed to be reading the comics for the characters, not the creators.
When comic fans deify comic creators like Johns, they put unrealistic expectations on them. And then when they don’t deliver on them in an anticipated run they get upset like many did with his New 52 run on Justice League.
When they shouldn’t put them on pedestals in the first place.
Every writer has good stories and bad stories. It’s part of the business. Readers enjoy the good ones and they move past the bad ones. It’s nice readers want to be fans of a particular writer. But their version of a character is not the only one.
I’m a big fan of the David Micheline/JRJR/Bob Layton version of Iron Man. It’s considered by many the best run of the character. But I also love the Len Kaminiski/Kevin Hopgood version of Iron man too. Why? Because Kaminiski’s technopunk Iron man stories put a fresh perspective on the character and Kevin Hopgood’s unique armor designs like War Machine, the Neuromimetic telepresence armor and the modular armor just POPPED off a page and came to life.
And while I’m a fan of the Denny O’neill/Neal Adams Batman, I also like the Steve Grant/Norm Breyfogle version of the character. There’s just something distinct and fun to look at regarding Breyfogle’s Batman and Grant’s stories are just the right mix of action, mystery and FUN to read.
I don’t put creative teams on pedestals. In my eyes each creative team and each creator contributes to the character in their own way. And the character is the main reason why I’m reading the adventures of a character.
If I buy comics it’s because I want to read the adventures of Batman, Superman, The Flash, Captain America, Spider-Man The Hulk or Iron Man. And I want to buy those comics because the stories are good regardless of whoever is writing or drawing them.
And if I wrote comics I’d want readers to enjoy the adventures of the characters not put me on a pedestal. My goal is to create compelling stories that build an audience with readers. When it comes to comics, the main attraction in my eyes should be the characters, not the creator.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Entertainment weekly announced that season 3 of CW’s The Flash will adapt the critically
panned storyline FlashPoint this season.
Looks like the Berlanti curse strikes right on time.
Damn. Just Damn.
I knew The Flash was in trouble starting around the middle of season 2. The Zoom storyline really meandered for a couple of episodes, and that lackluster finale pretty much set up this HOT MESS. On seeing his Daddy die emo Barry ran back in time to save both his parents from death.
Turning what was once a fun sci-fi superhero show into a time paradox. Every time the writers ran into a jam this season like the AWFUL Arrow crossover, they just have Barry run back in time to go find a Deus ex Machina to set things right.
The big problem with CW’s The Flash these days is that it just runs around in circles. Just when you think this series is going to build some momentum towards a strong finish, it goes right back to Barry getting emo over mommy and Daddy and going back in time to make things right.
With this adaptation of Reverse Flash in the first season Zoom in the second and now Flashpoint I have to wonder if this show is going to be The Flash or just the Goeff Johns show?
Seriously, I’m really getting tired of seeing John’s fingerprints on The Flash. Goeff Johns isn’t the only person to write Flash stories. And he wasn’t the greatest Flash writer of all time. Berlanti and Warner Brothers need to get him off a pedestal. There are a lot of great writers who contributed to The Flash’s 50 plus year history and I’d like to see their stories adapted to television. Guys like Mark Waid and Bill Messner-Loebs have told some great Flash stories. Their contributions to the character deserve some screentime too. Maybe if we saw their stories adapted onscreen it’d put some balance and perspective on the character.
And I’d like to see some more of THE ROGUES. Remember those guys? Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Golden Glider, Rainbow Raider, Trickster, Gorilla Grodd, and Weather Wizard? The first season featured Barry running through his rogues gallery in between the quest to take down the big bad Reverse Flash. Then Zoom popped up and the Rogues stopped showing up on this show and we got a bunch of Earth 2 jobbers who got lamer and lamer with every episode.
Seriously, I’m still waiting for Mirror Master and Top to pop up on this show. It’s a shame that the Rogues have taken a backseat to all this time travel drivel. And with FlashPoint taking center stage they’re being pushed to the third row in a show where they should be center stage. I want to see Barry kicking bad guy ass, mentoring Wally, and moving on with his life. Not being a Emo SIMP brooding over his parents deaths and running around in time travel circles. The Real Barry Allen would be making efforts to honor his family by preventing more deaths. But this Emo chump spends most of his time being emo over mommy and daddy or Begging behind Iris Wests’ skirt.
I’d hate to see what happens to this Barry when he finds out about the final fate of Iris West. With him being an emotional wimp he’d probably put on a black costume and call himself the Dark Racer or some shit like that. Seriously, the writers need to give Barry some BALLS and a resolve. He’s not acting like a hero. He’s acting like a BITCH.
And it’s getting tiresome. The Flash used to be a fun show with a great balance of action, science fiction and adventure with a little comedy thrown in. But all this time travel crap, and alternate universe nonsense is bogging down what was once a promising show. All the cool stuff that makes The Flash a fun comic is not getting put onscreen in the TV show. That’s what made Arrow unwatchable for two going on three seasons and now that negative energy is starting to race its way into The Flash. FlashPoint gave us the hot mess that was the New 52 in the comics and it looks like it’s gonna bog down DC’s TV shows too.
Monday, June 20, 2016
|COVER IS NOT FINAL!|
Last week I finally finished the first draft of Spellbound, the Prequel to 2015’s Goth N’ Lovely romance Spinsterella. And this was one of the toughest novels I ever had to write.
What made Spellbound a challenge to write were the three elements I was working with. First, the book was a historical novel set during 1989. So I had to do a LOT of research to make sure that many of the historical details were correct. Even though I was 16 in 1989, I couldn’t go on my just my memory alone. In order for the reader to get a clear picture of what life was like during that time I had to make sure that I confirmed everything from movie releases to comic book releases with dates.
To write most of the story I had to get my mind in a “1989” mode. During that time there were no smartphones, laptops, or tablets. Heck, there was no internet as we know it. Most People read paperback books, used corded phones, listened to music on cassettes they played in walkmans. They watched movies on videotapes they rented at the video store, and most homes only had one color TV and VCR in the living room which EVERYONE watched.
And the family structure was completely different too. Most families at that time ate together and spent time together in the mornings and the evenings. Work wasn’t a 14-16 hour day back then. Parents worked maybe 8-10 hours back then and were home to spend time with their children. So there were actual meals at the dinner table and discussions around it.
It was a different world than many growing up today would even know about.
Second, I was exploring African-American culture. African-American culture was also very different back then as well. With the crack epidemic ravaging Black neighborhoods and dividing Black families, most Black people were living in fear of dope dealers, crackheads, and the cops.
Most clean-cut Black kids like Matilda who went to public school lived in fear of dope dealers who prowled the halls. And girls like Matilda lived in fear of the hood chicks who stood at their sides. With teachers and administrators being apathetic and school security not giving a shit, these urban terrorists bullied everyone into conforming to their cultural standard. Those who dared to be themselves had to deal with violence and threats of violence.
Thanks to these forces many brothers and sisters grew up believing there was only one way to be “Black”. And that anyone who wanted to do things like read comics, be into computers or subcultures like Goth were weird or “acting white”. Some even believed that Black people who were into these things were sellouts looking to betray their race. Black folks talked a lot about diversity, but there was no diversity promoted within the Black community. Most Black people wanted to fit into a standard of “Blackness” that was acceptable to White people.
That’s the spell I believe many are under. And the dark magic that keeps Black culture in a dysfunctional state.
Third I was exploring the Goth Subculture. And that was also totally different then than it was now. Back in 1989 Hot Topic was just a small shop in Los Angeles. And there were no Goth fashion designers like Killstar, Dark & Love, and Jawbreaker to make clothes specifically for Goth tastes. Heck, you couldn’t even get a corset anywhere at retail but Fredrick’s of Hollywood!
Moreover, there were no Goth shops like Queen of Darkness, or Goth makeup brands like Kat Von D or Jeffree Star that created products specifically for Goths. There was no Pinky Paradise or Sclera who made vampy contacts, or Demonia or New Rock to manufacture Goth boots. All that stuff became available in the 1990’s and the 21st Century.
Goths back in 1989 New York had to buy their clothes at thrift stores and vintage shops in places like The Village and Union Square, and their fashion staples like fishnet stockings and tops in places like Chinatown and Alphabet City. There was no eBay and there was no amazon.com. Again, there was no internets to buy Goth gear!
People had to make their own Goth looks up by buying vintage clothes and customizing them to their tastes. A sewing machine was a staple for many Goths who could afford it, or really good skills with scissors, needles and thread.
For makeup a Goth had to use what everyone else used. If you were lucky you could find a Black lipstick or a dark red at the counter at the department store or in the drugstore. So people had to be creative because Sephora didn’t exist!
And if you wanted stuff spiked collars and studded collars and cuffs you had to go to the pet store. That was the only place you could buy them.
And you just couldn’t walk into a Wiz and buy some Goth music like Sisters of Mercy and Siouxsie and the Banshees. All they stocked was top 40. No, to get you Siouxsie tapes or your Sisters of Mercy, you had to go to a record shop like Colony in Times Square or a record shop in The Village and pray they had it in stock. Yep, Death Rock or Goth Rock was that obscure and THAT hard to find. If you were lucky you could catch a music video of your favorite Goth band on U68 or MTV. They popped up now and again in between the Paula Abduls, Michael Jacksons, Janet Jacksons and top 40 acts.
Ah, MTV in 1989. A time when that channel actually played music videos 99 percent of the time. These poor kids don’t know what they’re missing.
And while there was no Nightmare before Christmas for Goths to make their staple movie, this was the golden age of horror movies. There was practically one being released every week in 1989. And if you could find a nice rundown theater like the Kent in the South Bronx you could really sit back and enjoy them for a Saturday Matinee. The soon to be Goth CLASSIC Beetlejuice was on VHS and the blockbuster Batman was the most popular film of the year.
The dark period of New York with crackheads, rundown buildings, abandoned lots and over 2,000 murders is a setting that contrasts the dark and spooky world of the Goth Subculture Matilda is about to enter. I wanted to show how the real horrors around her in Black culture were more terrifying than her journey into the darkness in the Goth subculture.
With the first draft of Spellbound done, I’m starting work on edits. I’m shooting for a 2017 release. For the meantime, pick up a copy of Spinsterella on Amazon, Smashwords, iBookstore, and Nook!
Friday, June 17, 2016
John H. Johnson is spinning in his grave right now.
Yesterday, Johnson Publications was sold to a Texas investment firm for an “undisclosed sum”. A complete and utter travesty.
Why is this a travesty? The Johnson family didn’t value the publishing institution that their patriarch established. Institutions critical to history are supposed to be protected and preserved. Unfortunately, most Black folks are so desperate for riches they’ll sell a wealth of intangibles far more valuable in exchange for it such as their history, their culture, and their legacy.
And the sale of Johnson publications shows how little value Black folks place protecting their legacies. John H. Johnson provided a place for Black people to have magazines that featured their image in a time when there were no magazines presenting the Black image, the Black experience and Black culture. Sadly because Black people never teach their children to value themselves, their culture and their cultural institutions, the next generation of Black folks won’t have a venue to present their views of Black culture to the world.
And in this age of Big six media (SONY, Warner Brothers, Disney, Viacom Comcast, Newscorp) it’s paramount that Black media remain independent from mainstream media. The Big six have no interest in presenting balance images of Blacks in their media. So we have to protect and preserve the media institutions we own while building new ones to present a counterpoint to mainstream media and the stereotypes they want to present as a standard “Black” image.
It’s clear to me that someone in the Johnson family FAILED to teach their children and children’s children the value of the assets they were blessed with. And because they weren’t taught to value the assets their parents provided to them they didn’t take time to preserve the institution not only for themselves but the Black community as well.
The sale of Johsnon Publications shows the world how little Black people value wealth. There was a wealth of information amassed by John H. Johnson’s family and it was those fixed tangible assets of publications, photo archives interviews and articles that allowed them to have something valuable to pass down from one generation to the next.
It’s also clear to me that the current generation of the Johnson family clearly doesn’t understand the value of what past generations have given them. Magazines like Ebony and Jet were how Black people controlled their image. How Black people presented themselves to the world.
The printing press is a powerful thing. The media created on it can shape the way Black people are viewed for generations. An image in a magazine can tell a story to people all over the world regarding Black culture and even define a period in Black history. John H. Johnson understood this. Sadly his children and grandchildren and the children of those generations of children and grandchildren take the images their patriarch fought so hard to create in Black magazines like Ebony and Jet for granted.
What they don’t understand is before Johnson Publications went into business, there were no Black magazines. And during that era the image of Black people was presented in a negative light. Most of the depictions of Blacks in White-owned media like books and magazines before 1945 often presented Black people as lazy shiftless coons, Black Brutes who committed horrible crimes and Mammies Jezebels, and Tragic Mulattoes.
And stories of brutal crimes against Black people like the burning of towns like Rosewood and Black Wall Street were kept out of the mainstream White-owned newspapers. If it weren’t for Black newspapers reporting the news most wouldn’t know about the numerous lynchings that went on regularly in the south.
John H. Johnson tried provided balance of the Black image with his publications. Unfortunately his heirs couldn’t understand why we needed that balance. Over the last few years they’ve mismanaged Ebony and Jet and squandered their inheritance by presenting a picture of Black life in their publications that is equal to the racist caricatures that Johnson fought against.
Some will say Ebony is “safe” because it was sold to a so-called Black-owned company but what they fail to understand is when it comes to the Black image it’s not about selling the magazine to a Black person, but the RIGHT Black person. Having the image of Blacks controlled by an incompetent person like Tyler Perry or a self-hating person with a sinister agenda like Lee Daniels can lead to generations of Black people to see themselves in a distorted way.
We know NOTHING about this so-called Black owned company who Johnson Publications was sold to. We know nothing about their views regarding the Black image or Black media. We know nothing about their long-term vision for presenting the Black image in media. The Black folks at Johnson sold their publishing business based on a promise from that investment firm that they’d keep some jobs and run it like Johnson used to.
A penny wise and pound-foolish business move. And a dangerous one in the long-term scheme of things.
Yeah some Black folks about keep jobs at the new Ebony media. But no one of today’s generation understands how important it is OWN SOMETHING.
That’s the sad lesson that wasn’t imparted to John H. Johnson’s descendants regarding the presses of Johnson publications. In publishing the OWNER dictates the viewpoint of the media presented on that platform, not the employees. And if that owner decides they want to change the view of that magazine or publications they may do so. The person who controls the dollars controls the viewpoints in the media. Everyone else works for them. And they can be hired or fired based on the publisher’s whims.
As a publisher myself I understand the power of OWNERSHIP. My dollars as limited as they are control the viewpoint in SJS DIRECT publications. I understand the value of presenting balanced images of Black life to readers. And the responsibility I have to publish the RIGHT publications for Black readers.
That’s the lesson I took from John H. Johnson when I was a teenager. Sadly his children never learned it.
The press is a powerful thing. With the press a publisher controls the image of African-Americans in society. That press can shape the way Black people are viewed to millions. It can tell the stories about Black life mainstream media doesn’t tell, and present viewpoints that most wouldn’t know about. Control over that counterpoint in media is something that should never be relinquished. The Johnson family has no idea what it has sold away from the Black community for thirty shekels of silver.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
The Man Who Rulesthe World is the sequel to 2011’s The Temptation of John Haynes. And it took close to five years to write 120 pages. Originally The Man Who Rules The World was supposed to be written back as far as 2010. Back then it was planned to be a 400 page novel. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the first three chapters. The villain just didn’t work.
I got inspired to write The Man Who Rules The World when my mother was sick in the hospital with pneumonia in August of 2015. I wasn’t really in a writing mood due to my mother’s illness and the family issues around it. But I decided to give into inspiration and finished the first draft of the story in less than a week.
The Title The Man Who Rules The World is inspired by something pro wrestler Sid Vicious used to say in his promos around 1999-2000 when he was in a feud with Goldberg. During that time he called himself The Man Who Rules The World. I thought that title would fit the story detailing John’s growth as a leader and CEO of an international corporation.
The cover for The Man Who Rules The World was actually a last minute thing. Originally I planned for Hero Business artist Bill Walko to design the cover for the book. Unfortunately, when the Kickstarter for this years’ books didn’t get funded, I was forced to design the cover myself. Originally I wanted the cover to feature a John posed like Superman was on the cover of All-Star Superman #10. I felt the image showed his power and authority, but also showed his compassion and kindness.
Unfortunately, due to budget reasons I had to get creative. With limited resources I opted to make The Man Who Rules the World look like a Time Magazine cover. The picture comes from a photo of a custom John Haynes action figure I made a few years ago. With a little Photoshop magic I was able to make a cover that caught readers’ attention.
Continuity wise in the SJS DIRECT Universe the events in The Man Who Rules The World takes place right after Isis: Bride of Dracula.
The Man Who Rules The World can be considered the second “event type” story in the SJS DIRECT Universe. The first was Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess in 2014. In that story Isis met John Haynes for the first time.
The build for this sequel to The Temptation of John Haynes was planned four years ago. John Haynes’ mention in early Isis series books, appearances E’steem series books and major role in Isis: Night of the Vampires, E’steem: Undercover and Isis: Brideof Dracula were actually all leading up to the characters’ eventual return to a solo story. I just wanted the right tale to tell so that the buildup would payoff BIG for readers.
While the The Man Who Rules The World is just 120 pages, it’s a BIG story and feels like an epic. Almost every major character in the SJS DIRECT Universe practically makes an appearance in The Man Who Rules The World. Readers who have been following all the books I’ve published since 2002 will be able to make a note of Who’s who in the SJS DIRECT Universe.
God Katious was not the original villain planned for Man Who Rules The World. I planned on saving him for what was to be the final SJS DIRECT story. The original villain I planned for The Man Who Rules The World was The Block who was featured in the first chapter. Again, the story just didn’t work out. Block was too small scale a bad guy for a story titled The Man Who Rules The World.
God Katious was originally the character MastiKatious from my tall tale The Saga of MastiKatious. The Saga of MastiKatious tells the tale of Katia, a prosperous and powerful ancient African Kingdom that was destroyed by Osiris and the Heliopolitan gods before Egypt became a nation.
The Character of God Katious is actually inspired by actor Tony Todd. Whenever I wrote Katious’ narration and dialogue I always heard Tony Todd’s voice as God Katious.
God Katious is a name inspired by Japanese Manga and anime. Incredibly powerful Manga characters are often called God anime and Manga. Such as God Magnus in Transformers: Robots in disguise God Phoenix in Gatcahman or better known as Battle of the Planets in America.
The Gem of Omnipotence is inspired by Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet. Like the Infinity Gems, the Gem is incredibly powerful. However, like the Infinity Gems it has its their limitations.
God Katious is E’steem’s biological father. After the destruction of Katia Seth deemed E’steem a “Child of the Gods” and due to this she was adopted by the Heliopolitan gods. E’steem was raised by Osris and Queen Isis and considers Osiris to be her father and Queen Isis to be her mother. Officially she’s a princess, but due to her adoption into the Heliopolitan pantheon she’s a goddess in the technical sense.
E’steem is inspired by actress Salli Richardson-Whitfield. Whenever I write E’steem’s dialogue and narration I always hear Salli’s voice as E’steem.
I always thought Salli had the perfect voice for playing a Disney bad guy like Ursula or Malefecent. And I wanted the E’steem character to be a perfect fit for Salli’s amazing acting abilities.
The E’steem Character is one part Salli Richardson, One part Morgan Le Fay. When I originally created the character she was supposed to be an Egyptian version of Morgan Le Fay, a powerful sorceress who helped Seth in his plans to overthrow Osiris and was aspiring to get power as the first Lady of Hell by killing Isis in the first Isis published back in 2002.
However, the character has evolved over the last 15 or so years. Since The Temptation of John Haynes and the E’steem series she has become one of SJS DIRECT’s most popular heroines, right behind Nikki Desmond of All About Nikki and Colleen Anderson of The Thetas.
The E’steem character starts moving forward in the character transformation arc started in The Temptation of John Haynes and building throughout the E’steem series. E’steem’s storyline in Man Who Rules The World leads into a major turning point for the character in E’steem: The Witches of Eastland and a climaxes in next years’ E’steem: Ascension.
John’s ex-girlfriend Colleen returns to make an appearance in The Man Who Rules The World. She’s also the main character in the popular 2013 novel The Thetas.
The Colleen character is actually inspired by actress Robin Givens. I got ideas for creating the character in 1989 when she portrayed the daughter of a rich mogul in the made for TV movie The Penthouse. Whenever I write Colleen she sounds like actress Robin Givens.
Colleen returns to the Goth roots in Man Who Rules The World I established for the character back in 1989. That’s why she sports a pair of New Rocks and has her black lipstick on. That’s a HUGE contrast from the sophisticated way the character was portrayed in 2013’s The Thetas where the character was softer and daintier.
Lucifer in The Man Who Rules the World is inspired by actor Keith David. Whenever I hear Lucifer’s voice it’s always Keith David in the narration and the dialogue. Just like in Temptation Lucifer is in the background playing a game of chess manipulating people like pawns and rooks in his efforts to destroy John.
Osiris is inspired by actor Samuel L. Jackson. Every time I write Osiris’ dialogue I always hear Samuel L. Jackson’s voice as the Pharaoh of Heliopolis. Osiris’ role is a big one in Man Who Rules the World. He’s the god trying to protect his family from the danger of being corrupted by Katious emotional and mental manipulations, and preventing them from harming humanity in their attempt to protect mankind.
This is Osiris’ first major appearance in John Haynes’ universe. But it won’t be the last. He may pop up for another story.
Isis is a character who has been around since 1999. And while the goddess next door has carried her own book series, this is her fourth big event where she teams with John Haynes. In the past she’s teamed up with John in Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess, Isis: Night of the Vampires and Isis: Bride of Dracula.
I’ve gotten inspiration for Isis’ character from different sources over the years, but these days I pull some inspiration for Isis’ voice and look from actress Tia Mowry. Whenever I write the character these days she sounds like Tia Mowry doing a Batman Beyond Imitation.
John Haynes himself is a character based on myself. However, over the last few years the character has been evolving. Currently I kind of see him as a fusion of myself, Marvel’s Beast and TV’s Perry Mason. Some people say he reminds them of Rupert Giles from Buffy.
As I’ve studied men’s issues over the last seven years I’ve made efforts to make the John Haynes character more masculine, assertive, and have more alpha male qualities. Over the course of books like Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess, Isis: Night of the Vampires and Isis: Bride of Dracula he’s become a more heroic character who confidently can take on the greatest of challenges.
I chose the setting of Times Square as a setting for several chapters in Man Who Rules The World because Time Square in New York is considered the crossroads of the world. The way I saw it, it was the best place for a final battle where the fate of the world was in the balance.
In one chapter John makes a joke referencing a Hellmouth in California. That is a direct reference to the Hellmouth under Sunnydale California where Buffy The Vampire Slayer used to live. Some of the humor and dialogue style in John Haynes stories is inspired by Joss Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer and 1984’s Ghostbusters.
A scene of John and Colleen’s scene on the balcony in Man Who Rules The World is inspired by my memories of looking out the window of my apartment on 9/11. During that day I remember the skies being so quiet and it being surreal. And I wanted to capture that sense of surrealness in that scene.
The newscasts mentioning the End of the World on ABC News and Armageddon NOW on CNN reference a joke I used to make around the dinner table regarding what the news media would be like when the Biblical Last days happened. The way I see it, it’d be a circus. And online social media would be completely insane.
The red Buick John drives on the way to confront God Katious is actually based on the 1976 Buick Limited my father used to own for over 20 years. I remember sitting in the shotgun seat many times when he’d take me to Harlem to get haircuts. I never got to drive it, but always wanted to, so I decided to write about it. And yes, it STILL had the 8-track tape player in it the last time I saw it in 1996!
In the Times Square confrontation with John, Katious makes a defiant statement that mocks something Jesus said regarding a man having faith strong enough to cast a mountain into the sea.
The final fate of the villain is references something Jesus stated being the stone that the builders refused and becoming the head of corner. In the Temptation of John Haynes E’steem fell on the stone and was broken. And in Man Who Rules the World God Katious was supposed to be the villain who the stone fell upon and was ground to powder.
When I imagined The Man Who Rules the World I saw it like a big budget action movie in my head. I wanted it to be like the SJS DIRECT version of The Avengers or Captain America: Civil War, a large-scale story that featured John leading all the heroes of the SJS DIRECT Universe during a crisis. African-Americans don’t get featured in these kinds of stories, and rarely do readers get a chance to see a Black male hero leading during a crisis where Black people save the world. I believe that makes The Man Who Rules The World Unique and distinct, the chance to see Black people working together to fight to save the world.
Reception to The Man Who Rules The World has been strong. Readers have been picking it up and sharing it. If reception to John Haynes stories remains strong I may have to start a John Haynes series. No promises.
You can pick up The Man Who Rules the World in paperback, Kindle, Smashwords Nook, or the iBookstore!
Monday, June 13, 2016
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
When it comes to supeheroes most comic book writers can tell a great story. However when it comes to superheroines oftentimes they struggle.
One of the reasons many comics featuring superheroines struggle is because a lot of comic book writers make the mistake of believing that they can write heroines just like the heroes. Why doesn’t this work? Because Men and women apply completely different approaches to life. And a story model that works for a male hero just won’t tell a compelling story with female heroine.
In most superhero stories the focus is primarily on the character and the action and adventure they’re involved in. And that works primarily because men are logical. What motivates a male character to move a story forward is primarily external, focusing primarily on solving the problem and HOW they use their powers, gadgets and abilities to catch the bad guy or stop the menace out to destroy the world.
However, a story featuring a heroine a writer has to use a different story approach. Why? Because women are emotional. And the primary focus in a heroines’ story isn’t actually her powers, gadgets, or abilities. What moves a story forward with a heroine relate to her internal character traits, focusing on things like her core values, and the beliefs related to her mission. It’s not about what power she uses to beats the villain, it’s primarily about WHY she wants to beat her.
In addition what also drives a story with a heroine are the relationships she has with the villain or her relationships with supporting cast members. In women’s fiction and romance novels it’s the interpersonal relationships the heroine has with the love interest, friends, and antagonist that makes the story compelling to readers. Unfortunately, there’s next to no focus on internal character traits or interpersonal relationships in comics featuring superheroines. And due to that lack of focus on these core story elements, there’s no chemistry for a compelling read featuring a superheroine.
Due to the lack of focus on internal character traits, most comics with superheroines in the lead fall flat. Without that strong internal characterization there’s no personality or “voice” that speaks to the reader. And without those internal character traits to stimulate the readers’ emotions there’s no for the reader to connect with the character and identify with them, their mission or the values they stand for.
And due to the lack of focus on interpersonal relationships between the heroine and her villains there’s no chemistry to create around their stories. What drives a superheroines’ story is based on the emotions the characters feel about each other. The heroine has to HATE that BITCH enough to want to KICK HER ASS, and the villainess has to HATE that BITCH enough to KILL her.
A catfight between two heroines may sell a comic or two. But a catfight between a heroine and a villainess who HATE each other will sell MILIONS. Most comic book writers don’t understand how to build that kind of heat with their superheroines.
The biggest problem with comics featuring superheroines is that writers rarely give readers a reason WHY they need to read her adventures. Superheroine adventures are interesting from a technical standpoint, but rarely compelling from an emotional one. There haven’t been many comics featuring a relationship between the heroine and her villain that got really intense. That got PERSONAL. That gave the reader a reason to CARE. That gives them an incentive to buy the next issue. That gave them a reason to tell their friends to pick it up.
In 75 years comic readers haven’t really gotten a rivalry like Xena/Callisto Buffy/Dark Willow or Mickie James/Trish Stratus. And it’s a shame. Because if a feud got that INTENSE and that PERSONAL people would have a reason to pick up comics featuring superheroines and tell their friends about them.
Plain and simple, a feud between heroines has to get PERSONAL. When it’s PERSONAL it stimulates the readers’ emotions. Readers see the challenge to the heroine has maintaining her morals and core values in the face of the emotional obstacles the villainess is placing in front of her and are compelled to see how she overcomes the challenge to her beliefs and ideals.
That makes the reader understand WHY she needs to beat her villains.
As a writer of strong multidimensional heroines in everything from fantasy fiction like the Isis series to screenplays like All About Marilyn and All About Nikki and YA fiction like The Thetas and romances like A Recipe for $ucce$$ and Spinsterella, I know for a fact that the story model for writing heroine is completely different than the one applied for a male hero. And a writer has to be able to apply the right approach to storytelling if they hope to create compelling stories featuring superheroines. If a writer is focuses more on the internal characterizations of their heroines than their external appearance they could create comics that would have readers anticipating the next issue of a heroines’ adventures month after month and telling their friends to pick up their adventures.
Monday, June 6, 2016
Friday, June 3, 2016
Okay, I haven’t written a blog over the last couple of days. I’ve been on a roll on the Spinsterella prequel Spellbound and I’m getting closer to the climax of the story. So that’s why I’ve posted a pair of video blogs to tide people over this week. I hope to get back in the blogging groove soon.
Now I know DC Comics just launched the first issue of it’s Rebirth Relaunch. And we now who the villain behind the New 52 is.
Damn. Just Damn.
How is it Alan Moore’s fault? Welp, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created Watchmen for DC Comics back in 1986. And the Watchman Character Dr. Manhattan took 10 years out of the DC Universe and used it to create the New 52 Universe.
So technically, according to DC’s editors Alan Moore is to blame for the New 52 Universe, Not Dan Dido, Jim Lee and Warner Brothers executives who insisted dark n’ gritty DC superheroes would resonate with new readers back in 2011.
I’m gonna have to call bullshit on this one.
When you peel back the surface of this Rebirth Relaunch you see that NOTHING has really changed at DC. Yeah, WB’s management is making some superficial changes after losing ten percent of DC’s market share to Marvel and indies and the EMBARASSING box office performance of Batman V. Superman. But it’s clear to me that WB and DC editorial keep trying to have it their way at the expense of comic fans.
Yeah, Rebirth DC is filled with emotional moments like the REAL Wally West FINALLY making an appearance after five years and the REAL Superman showing up in the New 52 Universe. But nothing has really changed at DC.
Fifteen years of failure at DC and we’re supposed to believe Alan Moore’s 30-year old characters are responsible for the mess that is DC?
Get the fuck out of here with that shit.
If DC was really serious about change, they’d just launch two or three 64-page specials and wrapped up and ENDED the New 52 Universe. Then DC could have focused on relaunching its classic characters in the Classic DC Universe.
But instead we get a long convoluted plan from Goeff Johns featuring an elaborate two-year storyline to explain away the New 52 at Alan Moore’s expense.
I’m still not seeing any reason to buy DC Comics for the next two years. If anything I see more reasons to stay at the sidelines.
Personally, I plan on staying there until the Didio Era ends. When I hear about a housecleaning at DC Comics similar to that of WB’s film division on DC properties I may finally have a reason for picking up a DC Comic.
DC and Warner Brothers continue to toss crumbs at its fans hoping to bait them into buying their mediocre comics. It’s the same okie-doke but in a brand new package. Seriously, how do you get change from doing the exact same things?
Most comic fans today haven’t figured that out.
As it stands now neither Warner Brothers or DC isn’t serious about changing the direction of their failing company. They’re just continuing the practice of shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic while they put lipstick on a pig and sell kisses on its customers. I’m sorry DC fans, you’re not witnessing a Rebirth of DC Comics, it’s just another re-hash of the New 52.