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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why Black People Need to Read Spellbound

Monday, November 28, 2016

Brainstorming a new John Haynes Series

Just another day at the office.

That’s the premise for the new John Haynes series I’m proposing.

Back in The Temptationof John Haynes, John started working for Morris Phillips. And he became the CEO of a corporate Hell filled with demons, vampires, monsters and other assorted creatures of the night. Working stiffs. Dead weight. A company filled with miserable lost souls waiting for the clock to reach five o’clock.

While I’ve spent quite a bit of time focusing on the rivalry between Lucifer and John in stories like TheTemptation of John Haynes and The ManWho Rules The World, I’d love to explore the world of Morris Phillips and all those working stiffs working in that corporate Hell in those nine-to-five jobs in Lucifer’s Legion. We got to meet a few of them like Lilith Graves in Isis: Night of the Vampires and Claudius Johnson and D’lilah Williams in E’steem: Demons Anonymous. But I’d love to expand the cast in John’s world. Rather than make the demons straight bad guys like they are in Isis and E’steem books, I’d love to show some of those lost souls as people who desperately need to be shown an example of Christ. 

John’s a good man trying to make the best of a really bad job. He’s 1.5 years into a three-year contract and while he’s had an impact on the lives of Black people, he needs to start having an impact on the Demon community. Yes he’s helped E’steem and Lilith, but it’s time for him to do more of God’s work among the masses of the night. In spite of all he’s faced John believes that God brought him in to Morris Phillips to do a work, then he’ll leave Morris Phillips in one piece when his work is finished.

As a comic fan John is indifferent by the world of monsters, demons and vampires. And the nonchalant way he sees them intrigues some like E’steem, and scares others like Lilith and Isis. Isis sees demons as monsters, but John sees them as people. And I think it’s time he got to know more of them. Some are scared of John, but others….are drawn to him and want to know what makes him great.

When I was writing Isis: Bride of Dracula I thought about the larger demon community roaming the realms. (Yes, I DEFINITELY want to bring Dracula back!) and I wanted to further explore demon culture in Lucifer’s Legion. Do demons and Vampires coexist? Do they watch TV? What kinds of shows do they watch? What are their favorite foods? What kinds of schools do they go to? Where do they live? Among us? Or in another realm?

So far we’ve seen a lot of the SJS DIRECT Universe through the eyes of the female leads like Isis and E’steem. I believe it’s time we got a look at some of the experiences from a male perspective to balance things out. I’ve been paitient and deliberate in utilizing John’s appearances in Isis and E’steem stories, and I want to make sure he continues to represent a strong, positive example of Black masculinity in media.

The character transformation arc for John hasn’t even started. The John character who readers met in The Temptation of John Haynes is an introvert and a loner. His character progression has moved forward in his appearances in the Isis series and E’steem series and The Man Who Rules TheWorld, but it’s time to begin it in earnest. At the end of John’s character transformation arc he was supposed to be more less of a loner and become a leader connected to people to the people who work at Morris Phillips. Yeah, they’re vampires, demons and monsters, but a Christian is supposed to be a light that everyone sees and salt that changes all those around them with their presence.

A John Haynes series would be another part of my Monster High grown up concept. In between the action and adventure, there would be the humor that made the E’steem series and The Temptation of John Haynes fun reading. The model for the stories I’d use would be to make them short, quick, reads similar to The Man Who Rules The World.

I’ve been roughing out a couple of ideas for John Haynes stories, including expanding Lilith’s backstory, his past relationship with Colleen, and his growing relationships with Isis and E’steem as we get to know more of the staff at Morris Phillips. I have a few new bad guys planned such as succubus inspired by actress Persia White, and continuing the feud between John and Dracula. Vampires are a billion dollar business. Which is one of the reasons why Drac wanted to go after John in Isis: Bride of Dracula. He’s costing him customers!

Yeah, I’ve got a lot on my plate with the Isis series and the E’steem series, but I figure if I do one book a year featuring each character and ship em’ quarterly readers can get an adventure featuring everybody and the SJS DIRECT Universe could expand. Slowly. Very slowly.

Friday, November 25, 2016


What is a Workplace Simp? A Workplace Simp is a man who puts his career at risk trying to win the favor of a female co-worker on the job. In this eBook men will learn why Simpin in the workplace has them working against themselves and prevents them from achieving their personal and professional goals on the job.

Having worked in Job readiness years ago and running into my own obstacles at jobs I had, I wrote STOP SIMPIN in the Workplace so men all over the world could learn what mistakes NOT to make in the workplace when they interacted with women on the job! Readers will learn how to identify female predators in the workplace, what boundaries to set with women on the job, what sexual harassment policy really is, and what workplace Simps to avoid on the job. STOP SIMPIN In The Workplace is essential for any man who is in the workforce or a teenage boy about to enter the workforce!

Get STOP SIMPIN In the Workplace on Kindle or Read for FREE on Smashwords

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Celebrating Four Years of The Isis series in Print!

First book in the Isis series!
This month marks the fourth year the Isis series has been ongoing in print. I can’t believe I’ve written over thirteen books about the goddess next door. And the crazy part is I’m not done yet.  

I originally planned to take Isis in a different direction when I originally started her adventures four years ago. Back in 2012 I planned on following an outline I proposed for a Wonder Woman run of comics I posted on my blog. And that plan was supposed to be just three years or 36 issues of comics. In the last four years I’ve gone far past my plans for revamping Diana Prince for the 21st Century and turned the goddess next door into her own character with her own unique stories.

Isis’ character transformation arc hasn’t even gotten started. While Isis has taken on demons, vampires, stalkers, and Cybergodesses, she’s connected with people all throughout the SJS DIRECT Universe. And with each relationship she’s formed, she’s learned a lot more about the modern world and the problems in it. As she’s gone where she’s needed she’s come to realize that if she wants to help people in the 21st Century has to change her approach from the one she used in the 20th. In the modern Isis series the former college professor is now learning a lessons about life and the people she serves as a goddess.

Four years in I’m just starting to establish the foundation for Isis’ part of the SJS DIRECT Universe. I haven’t even started establishing the world of Isis’ supporting cast or her rogues’ gallery. There’s a lot more people for her to get to know and places for her to explore as she goes where she’s needed. Anyone interested in a Spinsterella guest spot where Isis becomes a Goth Goddess?  

I’ve got a lot of ideas running in my head for Isis series stories. For Isis’ fifth year in print. I’ve got lot of new rogues planned with adventures that take her from Harlem to Translyvania. And I’ve got plans to return existing ones like Raheema Sanders and Dracula in new storylines. And I’ll be expanding her relationships with supporting characters like E’steem, John Haynes, and Colleen Anderson from The Thetas. 

Story model wise I’m still doing things where every book is an entry point and the complete story is told in one volume. However, for one villain I’m planning a build to a larger storyline featuring a big bad in Isis and E’steem series books. That storyline starts in next years’ Isis: Samurai Goddess and continues E’steem: Ascenscion. 

Four years writing Isis I’ve struggled but I’ve made a lot of progress. And there’s a lot I’m proud of. Bill Walko’s awesome covers. A consistent run of solid stories. A continuity that a child could follow easily, and readers all over the world have no problem acccessing. While the publishing schedule for Isis hasn’t been as prolific as I originally wanted it to be, the Isis series has run longer and more regularly than most comics at the Big Two comic publishers the indies, and even some trade publishers. Five years into the characters’ existence I haven’t had to reboot the adventures of the goddess next door.  

I’ve come a long way in four years working on the Isis series. I’ve gone from hand drawn covers to not so great editing to professional covers by Bill Walko and books that are almost error free. I’m hoping to keep raising the bar on the Isis’ so readers who have enjoyed her adventures can feel confident about picking up her adventures and sharing them with new readers.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Ranting About The 2016 Macbook Pro

Twenty years ago Steve Jobs revolutionized the home computer market with the original Apple iMac and the original iBook. Jobs original desktop and laptop were easy to use computers with a distinct look all their own. Unfortunately after Steve Jobs’ passing a few years ago Apple has become a company without a direction.

Shawn's 2011 Macbook Pro
The 2016 MacBook Pro is so far away from Steve Jobs original vision it’s not funny. The Macbook Pro line was supposed to be a line of laptops for professionals like filmmakers, musicians, video editors, and writers. But the 2016 Macbook Pros don’t even look like Apple computers. Heck, they don’t even look like computers. The new Macbook Pros don’t have SD Ports, USB ports, or things distinct to Macbook Pros like Mag Safe adaptors and light up keyboards. And Instead of industry standard things like function keys ports we get a light up Touch bar and a bunch of Thunderbolt 3 ports you have to buy $79 adaptors just to hook up a digital camera or a USB Printer or Scanner.

I’m sorry that’s just too complicated. Even for an A+ Certified IT Technician like me who knows PCs and Macs like the back of his hand.

Apple computers used to be EASY to use with all the things you need to start working with them right out of the box. The Macbook Pro I’ve been working with since 2011 had SD card slots so I could take my SD Card right out of my digital camera and upload pictures. USB ports so I could use my PC’s printer and scanner. And a Superdrive so I could watch my DVD movies right on my laptop.

Compared to their predecessors, this new series of Macbook Pro Laptops are almost impossible to understand on the website. Apple talks about connecting laptops to 5K TVs and pushes their new bar, but that’s all jargon to the average customer. If seasoned Mac users like myself are frustrated by all these new features, then a new user would just be overwhelmed by them.

I just find it crazy that I get a headphone jack on a MacBook Pro, but no USB ports to sync an iPhone to or charge it up. Tim Cook is so busy focusing on upselling adapters and secondary market products at Apple stores that he’s killing the market for the actual 2016 Macbook Pro. If a product is TOO HARD TO USE, people simply stop using it. And right now Apple Macbook Pro laptops they look like they’re the biggest pain in the ass to use since Windows ME sixteen years ago.  

When I look at the new 2016 Macbooks and MacBook Pros, they’re trying too hard to be hip and cool. Overthinking form, they’ve sacrificed all the functions most PC and Mac users like myself need in a working laptop. A working writer like myself doesn’t want a laptop with a bunch of fancy gimmicks, I want a computer that’s easy to use right out of the box. Steve Jobs gave us that computer 20 years ago with the iMac and the iBook and it revolutionized the PC marketplace. Tim Cook took that product off the marketplace with the 20l6 Macbook and Macbook Pro and has likely started the decline of Apple as a company.

I don’t know about other Apple users, but I need my function keys. I regularly use my escape key to close out of bros
wer pop ups and I need my function keys to deal with programs and websites stuck in a spinning pinwheel of death.

As a writer I need a laptop that I can use for WORK. And Apple’s new Macbooks are designed for PLAY. Looking like children’s toys these glorified iPads just can’t get the job done for me. As a publisher I need full USB ports, SD card slots and an optical drive to do my work.  

Moreover, as an A+ Certified IT Technichian, I need full USB ports and an optical drive if I need to repair the computer. If If the software crashes on a new 2016 MacBook Pro, there’s no way for me to reinstall it because there’s no optical drive or a USB port to plug one in without that pricey adapter. And with all the parts soldered onto the motherboard there’s no way to replace a part that’s not functioning like bad memory or even replace a bad hard drive. Plain and simple if you don’t have AppleCare, you’re looking at a bill that could cost as much as a new computer.

If Apple made a Macbook Pro with a series of full USB ports, a MagSafe adaptor port an SD Card Slot, and a Blu-Ray drive, so I can watch movies between chapters I’d actually consider picking up another Macbook Pro in the future. I'd defintiely consider one if it had an HDMI Port so I can hook my laptop up to my TV to watch DVDs and Blu-Rays on the big screen. But looking at the 2016 Macbook and Macbook Pro laptops I’m going to have to stop buying Apple products here on in. After Steve Jobs passed away Apple doesn’t make real computers anymore. They make children’s toys posing as computers. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Is Donald Trump’s New Deal for the Black Community A RAW DEAL?

During his campaign for the 2016 Presidential Election Donald Trump promised to give the Black community a new deal. Jobs, safe streets, and an alleged new beginning for the blighted urban centers where they’ll finally be cleaned up once and for all. However, this New Deal could just be a raw deal that screws black people over the same way the Welfare state did back in the 1970s and so-called Gentrification did in the 1990s.

Donald Trump is a businessman. And what most Black people don’t understand about business is that no one does anything for free. If someone has to do something for you, they’re going to expect something in return for it. Unfortunately, most Black people are so Spellbound by the attention they’re getting from a rich White man they aren’t asking what price they’ll have to pay for his New Deal.

Every time Black folks make a deal with White people to “fix” their communities they alter the deal and Black folks wind up with a Raw Deal years later. After Democrats established a welfare state that brought crime and drugs turned Black comminities into urban war zones in the 1970s, many Black folks didn’t ask what the price was when Democratic politicians, many of them Black started their so-called Gentrification plans for inner city areas like Harlem and the South Bronx in the 1990s. And that deal cost many residents their homes and their neighborhoods. Yeah, a lot of corporations and wealthy landlords got tax breaks and tax credits at Black people’s expense, but most poor residents got forced out of their homes when those same business owners and landlords started raising their rents to appeal to middle class Whites and nonblacks to turn those blighted urban areas into trendy spots for hipsters and their ilk.

And eighteen years after those business owners got their tax breaks and tax credits from things like Bill Clinton’s Empowerment Zones, businesses like PathMark, Rite Aid, The Body Shop, Krispy Kreme, Hue-Man bookstore and the Chevrolet/Cadillac/Saturn of Harlem that were supposed to improve the quality of life for Black people are now shuttered and the areas are back on their way back to being blighted. At the end of 18 years, they created huge holes in the economic infrastructure of inner city neighborhoods when small businesses were forced out for big chains stores. Big chain stores that left the neighborhood when they went bankrupt, the tax credit money ran out, or when they proved to underperform when compared to other locations in the region.  

The Clinton era Empowerment Zones proved to be nothing more tham tax shelters for White liberals and big business. Yeah, they created low-wage jobs for a handful of residents (If big business could get a tax credit on their salaries) but didn’t improve the quality of life for most inner-city residents long term. Blacks became poorer as nonblack and foreign businesses built wealth with Black dollars and the last vestiges of Black-owned businesses left the community. And outside of most of those foreign-owned businesses in those so-called Gentrified areas of Harlem the same criminal elements such as junkies, prostitutes and drug addicts remained stand outside of those businesses getting high or begging for change.

Is Trump’s New Deal going to be a tax credit haven for big business? Or an actual fresh start for poor Black people in Black communites? And do we really need Donald Trump to give Black people a New deal? When it comes to this New Deal with Trump, are Black people gonna go out like Lando Calrissian on after he made the deal with Darth Vader and the Empire to protect Cloud City?

The way I see it, the power was always there for Black people to do what Trump is promising to do. So was the money. Brownstones in places like Harlem’s Sugar Hill and 125th Street were going for under $20 in the early 1970s and 1980s. I always found it funny how Black folks like bus drivers and postal workers who lived in the projects could find money to pay for brand-new Mercury Cougars, Cadillacs Eldorados, Jeep Cherokees, and Air Jordan sneakers, but could never find the money to invest in Black business or buying up old abandoned brownstones into affordable housing for other Black people. Even with all the money flowing from the Rap game, Pro athletes and even the illegal money from crack cocaine. Why do we need a White man like Donald Trump to give Black people a new deal for the Black community when the Black man could have made his own deal on his own terms?

The resources and tools were always there to rebuild a strong Black community. Unfortunately most Black folks were too busy chasing social currency to create social change in their communities.

Most Black folks don’t understand that when it comes to this New Deal they’re not coming from a position of strength, but a position of weakness. Trump’s new Deal like Bill Clinton’s Empowerment Zones won’t be a deal on our terms, it’ll be a deal on his terms. And when a deal is on Donald Trump and the Government’s terms it’s not going to be a deal to benefit the average Black layperson. Those streets aren’t going to be cleaned up without a cost. Sadly most Spellbound Black folks aren’t asking how much the price is.

When it comes to Trump’s New Deal it’s just the same game with a new political party. Black Pastors, Black politicians and other social and political parasites and scavengers are going to help turn that deal into a Raw deal. And once they alter the deal, most Black folks will be praying they don’t alter the deal any further.

Most Black folks still don’t understand when someone does something for you, they aren’t doing it for your benefit, but their own. And when you ask someone to do something for you that you won’t do for yourself, you are giving away your personal, economic and political power and putting them in control over your life. Black folks need to stop asking the government to do things for them and start doing things for themselves. A lot of this stuff is easier to do than we think.  

Monday, November 14, 2016

Changing My Writing Technique

For the last few stories such as Spinsterella, Spellbound, Isis: Bride of Dracula Isis: Samurai Goddess and E’steem Little Girl Lost I’ve been applying a more traditional approach to my writing technique. Writing an outline and synopsis of the story before I write the story. 

In the past when I wrote novels like The Cassandra Cookbook, The Temptation ofJohn Haynes and The Thetas I usually just winged it when I wrote. After I wrote a simple mission statement for the story, I’d start writing the book. Working on a chapter a day translating the pictures in my head into words, I’d keep writing until the story was finished.

I liked using that approach because I thought it’d keep the story fresh for me. I used to believe if I saw what the ending was in the outline then I wouldn’t be as motivated to write an inspired story or finish the book.

However, things changed when I was writing Spinsterella. For that story I decided to write a synopsis detailing all the events of the story from beginning to end. And to my surprise it didn’t ruin the story for me or my readers. Spinsterella has been received positively by readers and is one of my more popular titles.

I’m starting to prefer using outlines and synopses because they provide me with a road map to see where the story is going from a panoramic perspective. While I enjoyed the journey from the winging it approach to writing, the outline and synopsis model allows me to see what direction the story is going in and what I need to do if I have to correct course when things aren’t working. For example in Spellbound, when I looked at my outline and saw that the course to the first plot point wasn’t working, I decided to change it so the storyline could flow more organically.

And sometimes I still deviate from the original outline. For example in the upcoming E’steem: Little Girl Lost I wound up changing parts of the second act midway because I got some ideas that’d build up to a stronger climax. But after working those ideas in, I went back to the plan laid out in my original outline for the finished story.

Working with an outline and synopsis is a lot easier than trying to write scenes by ear. On some books like Isis: All About The Goddess I’d get stuck in between chapters and I’d have to take a day or two to figure out what direction I wanted to go in. However, with an outline and synopsis I know what direction to go in and what chapters to write. So when I sit down to the keyboard I just start writing and pick up where I left off.

Working with this new technique has it’s challenges, but I’m finding it’s a lot easier than the technique I used when I first started writing stories over twenty years ago. Does it improve the quality of my stories? Only my readers probably notice the difference.   

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Donald Trump is President...And it’s All Barack Obama’s Fault

Donald Trump is President of the United States. And it’s all Barack Obama’s fault.

Why is it Barack Obama’s fault? Because Hilary Clinton said she’d work towards preserving the legacy of Barack Obama. And what was Barack Obama’s legacy?

Promising Hope and Change for America.

Unfortunately, most Americans like myself didn’t get any hope or change from Barack Obama’s presidency over the past eight years. All most Americans got was apathy and indifference from an aloof politician who was completely disconnected from the people he served.  

The nails were being put Barack Obama’s political coffin back in the spring of 2009. Back then he put his legacy above the needs of the American people. When it was time to sign legislation for an unemployment benetits extension he had the chance to show what kind of leader he was. But instead of standing up for the American people against his own party during one of the worst economic periods since the Great Depression, he let the Democratic Congress and the Senate he was in charge of go on vacation for two weeks while unemployed American people like myself struggled to make ends meet. 

Sure they came back and passed the unemployment benefits extension two weeks later, but the damage was done. Obama showed that the needs of the American people weren’t a priority, just establishing Barack Obama’s legacy in history as the first Black President.

ObamaCare and the legacy of health care reform was more important to Barack Obama than twenty million unemployed people like myself. With a recession going on and a Democratic majority in both houses, two weeks vacation for Congress and the Senate shouldn’t have been a priority. But Democrats in the House and the Senate put themselves above the American people. And that’s why they lost the House in 2011.

And the fact that his Secretary of State Hilary Clinton completely destabilized the Middle East showed how inept Barack Obama was at keeping on top of international politics and foreign policy. ISIL wouldn’t have been allowed to establish its roots if the inexperienced Commander-in-Chief hadn’t gloated about killing Osama Bin Laden early on. While he was celebrating that minor accomplishment, the Hydra of Islamic terror was growing a new head as Al-Queda in Iraq became ISIL and expanded its reign of terror over 28 countries. Any regular Joe who took a Global Studies class or just read a newspaper regularyly since 2001 knows Islamic Terrorism is a Hydra. And when you cut off one head, two more grow in their place. But Barack Obama and his secretary of state Hilary Clinton were such novices on foreign policy they couldn’t understand how to slay this beast. Once Barack Obama got Bin Laden’s head as a trophy to put on his wall and a bullet point for his resume, he could care less about the needs of all the people in countries terrorized by the spin-off terror groups like ISIL.  

The only thing that mattered was Barack Obama’s legacy. As the first Black President he was obsessed with accomplishments for himself like reforming health care. Even though experts told him his reform policy ws flawed and wouldn’t work, he and his Democratic Congress insisted on using their super majority to push through that flawed piece of legislation known as the Affordable Care act in the face of numerous warnings it’d be a complete disaster.

And while Barack Obama rammed his Affordable Care Act down the American People’s throats, his administration continued to ignore many large voting blocks that were his base such as Black men. While Black men like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Keith Scott were killed by police and sociopaths like George Zimmerman, Barack Obama just sat back and did nothing to stop the racial powderkegs from ignigting across the country.

Sending a message that Black lives didn’t matter to him. Even though 98% of Black people voted for him in 2008 and 93% voted for him in 2012. His first Black Attorney General Eric Holder tendered his resignation when pressed by Black people to do something about the cases of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Then his second Black Attorney General Loretta Lynch just took knees in the cases of men like Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Keith Scott.

 Democrats thought American people were supposed to keep supporting Hilary Clinton based on the track record of Barack Obama. Unfortunately, Barack Obama’s record was a rickety platform to stand on. Barack Obama is the worst President in American history surpassing Herbert Hoover, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

Instead of hope and change, All Americans got were excuses and bullshit from Barack Obama. It was always someone else’s fault that he couldn’t get anything done. The Democrats in the House. The Democrats in the Senate. Republicans. Conservatives. White men. White Women. Black men. Black Lives Matter. Even though he had control over both houses for two years from 2009-2011, the fact that he couldn’t even get an unemployment benefits extension in the first few months of office passed showed how weak and ineffective a leader he was. Americans were always LAST with Barack Obama.

Even though he promised the American people hope and change. Change they never got.

All Barack Obama has to show for eight years in office is an Affordable Care Act that’s no longer affordable to the average American. That so-called Affordable Care Act he passed in 2009 is now so expensive now most healtcare providers are abandoning the program and next year it’ll cost the average American $16,000 a year. It would have just been cheaper to just extend the existing federal Medicaid to people and families making under $150,000 a year, but Obama had to do things his way and cost struggling families money they just didn’t have to spend.

Hilary Clinton said she was out to preserve Barack Obama’s legacy in her administration. Running a campaign that proved to be just as elitist, aloof and disconnected as Obama’s the arrogant Hilary Clinton took the people for granted in her obsessive quest to establish a legacy as America’s first woman president. And because she took the American people for granted she wound up losing the election.  

Hilary Clinton put the legacy of Barack Obama first. And when she did that she sent a message to the American people they’d remain LAST. Letting everyone know that there’d be no hope of things changing for them in her administration.

Plain and simple, the American people are tired of being put LAST. They’re tired of being put on the back burner while elitists like Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton focus on maintaining their legacies instead of serving the needs of WE THE PEOPLE.

The Constitution’s first three words were WE THE PEOPLE. And WE THE PEOPLE had a referendum on government on November 8, 2016. Thomas Jefferson said when an old government that didn’t serve the people, they could put it off to establish a new government. From the results of the election it’s clear that WE THE PEOPLE don’t want a Black president, or a Woman president. They want a President and a Congress that has the courage, character and resolve to serve the needs of WE THE PEOPLE. If they don’t see that with Donald Trump, and the Republican Party WE THE PEOPLE may be repeating this process in 2018 and 2020 until America’s politicians finally get it.

Monday, November 7, 2016

It’s Time For Archie Comics Classics Action Figures!

Over the last fifteen years practially every comic book property has had an action figure line or an action figure. Marvel Comics has Marvel Legends. DC Comics had DC Universe Classics. Even indie characters like Witchblade, Shi, Dick Tracy, and Monkeyman & O’Brien have had their own action figures. However, there’s been one major comic book character who hasn’t made the transition from comic page to plastic:

Archie Andrews.

Archie and the gang from Riverdale are LONG overdue for a super-poseable six-inch action figure line. Archie is an iconic comic book property that’s been a part of American culture for generations. Kids know who Archie is. Adults know who Archie is. You’d think with every comic book character getting an action figure line and selling like hotcakes some company would have gone out of their way and given us Archie Legends or Archie Comics Classics toy line.

 But for the past fifteen years toy collectors have gotten…Nothing.

I don’t know if it’s a licensing issue. Or if the Archie Comics’ owners don’t want to take advantage the booming action figure market.  Or if toy companies just don’t want to take the risk on Archie. But with smaller toy companies like Super 7 and NECA raking in millions on all sorts of properties like He-Man and even old video games like Contra, I’d like to think someone would have given us an Archie Comics Classics toy line already. It’s money in the bank.

I know there’d be lots of people ready to buy a six-inch super poseable Archie along with Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and Reggie. And lots more who’d buy Josie and the Pussy Cats with their instruments packed in. And even a few more to buy a super-poseable six-inch scaled Sabrina The Teenage Witch with Salem packed in.

And maybe if the line does well over a couple of waves maybe we could get some obscure characters like Lil’ Jinx, That Wilkin Boy, and…Pepper!

Archie Comics Classics is a toy line that probably wouldn’t cost that much money. Tooling up a couple of basic buck bodies wearing casual clothes wouldn’t be that expensive. A smart toy company owner could probably mix and match torsos, overlays, and paints to make variants of characters from different eras in the Archie’s history like 50’s Archie (Classic plaid pants and “R” Sweater), and Archie as Pureheart the Powerful and Jughead as Captain Hero. Even toss in a few swappable heads for different facial expressions and different characters.

The possibilities for Archie Comics Classics are endless. I can see a dozen ways to easily sell Build-A-Figures of larger characters like Big Moose or Big Ethel by mixing and matching Archie characters from different eras. Or diorama pieces like Pop Tate’s Cho’klit shop and parts of Riverdale High. All it takes is for some creative toy executive to have the vision to take the Archie Comics property and bring it to toy stores.

With the TV show Riverdale coming to CW soon, I’d think there’d be some plans to get some merchandise out to to take advantage of the Archie brands’ exposure to the public. With there being six-inch plastic versions of every character out there from Superheroes to wrestlers and video game characters, this is the right time for Archie to launch a toy line. I’d love to have a six-inch scale version of Archie and the gang to hang out with Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Spider-Man, The Hulk and John Cena on my Toy shelf. Make it happen Archie Comics!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

How does Someone Become A Goth?

How does someone become a Goth?

If you ask five Goths that question you’ll get five different answers.

Some will say they were influenced by the fashion. Others will say they were influenced by the music. However, everyone’s journey into the Goth subculture is unique to them. No two stories about how they became a Goth will ever be the same. What motivates one person to become part of the subculture is different from another. So there’s no one general answer to the question.

Some people discover the Goth Subculture at an early age. Others discover the subculture when they’re teenagers. A few find out about it when they become young adults. And a handful find out about it in their thirties.

Some kids start out darkly inclined. They have an interest in dark things like vampires, zombies, ghosts and goblins when they’re little. They like reading stuff like horror books like the Goosebumps series. Or they like playing with Monster High dolls over Barbies. As they grow up they find themselves comfortable with dark dark themed comics like Batman, Spider-Man, and Daredevil. 

Other kids discover the Goth subculture in their preteens. As they start discoering things like horror movies and vampire novels they start seeing the beauty in dark things.

A large majority of kids discover the Goth subculture in their teenage years. As they explore the darker side of life they find it’s the lifestyle they’re the most comfortable with. That’s when they find Goth music, Goth fashions, and Goth makeup. As they start delving deeper into the subculture they start dressing in black and listening to Goth bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Depeche Mode, London After Midnight, Type O Negative, Sisters of Mercy, and The Cure.

Growing up in the South Bronx, I lived on the dark side of life. As a kid in the 1980s I lived away from the kids in the projects in a rundown building on Park Avenue near the Metro-North tracks. I was the outsider kid who didn’t fit in with the other kids and saw the world from a uniquely dark perspective. Living around rotting abandoned buildings and seeing New York City crumbling around me I felt like I was in a real life horror movie. I saw heroin addicts roaming the streets like zombies in the mid 1980s and crackheads in the late 1980s. However, they were just window dressing.

The real monsters in the Black community as I saw it were the drug dealers and the hoodrat women who were addicted to the power they wielded over the Black community and terrorized everyone who lived there. Living around these tyrants I began to understand the difference between someone who was dark like myself and someone who was  truly evil.

With the Black community being a socially and culturally fascist state in the 1980s I didn’t get to know what the Goth subculture was about until my early twenties. I felt I could relate to a lot of what Goths talked about in their art and music. I grew up watching a lot of dark and spooky stuff like horror movies, and syndicated TV shows like Tales from the Crypt and Tales from the Darkside and Saturday morning cartoons like The Real Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice. And for some strange reasons when I had my first exposure to Goth characters like Lydia Deetz in movies like Beeteljuice and real life Goths in episodes of the Jenny Jones show I felt an instinctive connection to them.

Could I have been darkly inclined as a kid? Could I have been a Goth and not know it? Maybe. However, in spite of the information blackout in the Black community regarding the Goth Subculture, I’ve often incorporated a lot of dark themes in a lot of my stories and characters over the last 20 years. Colleen Anderson the first heroine I created back in 1989 was originally a Black Goth. And many of my novels like The Temptation of John Haynes had a lot of dark themes like a Black man working in a Corporate Hell with demons, vampires and monsters. And the E’steem series is basically just my interpretation of Monster High all grown up. So when I started writing my first novel featuring a Goth heroine Spinsterella last year, it was the easiest story I ever sat down to the keyboard to write. However after I finished Matilda’s story, there was one question that was left unanswered:

What made Matilda become a Goth?

And I wanted to answer that question in another book.

One of the reasons why I wrote Spellbound was to tell Matilda’s story of how she began her journey into the Goth subculture. After I wrote Spinsterella last year I started listening to many Goth YouTubers talk about their babybat years in the Goth Subculture and what motivated them be a part of the subculture. And that’s what made me eager to get to the keyboard to write Spellbound and tell the story of how Matilda Crowley the Black girl next door from Harlem became a part of the Goth subculture in the dark days of New York City in 1989.

 I felt that a story about the babybat period of a Goth heroine was a story that had to be told in Young Adult and teen fiction. So many tweens and teens want to learn about the Goth subculture and there’s next to no stories out there for them to read to see what’s positive about it. Yeah, there are videos on YouTube, but there really needs to be more literature out there so kids could understand what would motivate someone to become a part of the Goth subculture and help their parents understand why they want to be a part of the subculture. I believe if parents read a story from someone like myself who understood the subculture is all about they wouldn’t worry about their kids being a part of it. There are a lot of things parents need to worry about, but the Goth Subculture isn’t one of them.

Every Goths’ story about how they came into the Goth Subculture is unique to them. I’m hoping Spellbound will help people all over the world understand some of the reasons why kids, teens and young adults become part of the Goth subculture.