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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Shawn Review’s Dan Mendoza’s Zombie Tramp

I walked into Dan Mendoza’s Zombie Tramp expecting a trash book that was just going to be a softcore horror T&A book. However after reading almost the entire run I was floored at how great this comic is. Once I got past the shock of the nudity and graphic violence I was awed by all the heart, soul and substance in this comic. 

Zombie Tramp’s title and premise may be off-putting to the prudish, but man, this is a great comic. Mendoza gives us a heroine that is rich and multidimensional in Janey Belle, a woman who I believe could give Marvel’s Bruce Banner a run for his money as a tragic figure. Growing up in a trailer park she’s had the roughest of rough lives. When she’s set up by her transsexual pimp she turns into a zombie. Becoming one of the streetwalking dead, she roams the highways looking for her next meal and making efforts to keep whatever semblance of her humanity.

After reading the first issue at the library I was HOOKED. This comic was so good I literally blitzed through most of the run in a week, and I’m eager to read more. Some of the stories are dark fun like the issues where she metes out justice on Ku Klux Klansmen (REALLY enjoyed watching her make light work of those bastards) and others really touching like the Valentine’s Day Special, the 2015 Halloween Special, and the storyline where she tries to break her father out of jail. What I like most is that Mendoza gives Janey a story on the same level of the guys like Marvel’s Bruce Banner and pulls no punches in her dark and tragic tales. She goes through so much pain, loss and suffers as she grows throughout the overreaching arc of the Zombie Tramp series, you can hear the lonely man piano playing from the old 1970s Incredible Hulk TV show playing in the background at the end of each story arc.

Yeah, there’s a lot of soft nudity, horror movie violence and gore in this series, but the storytelling is so well done you just don’t care about it. Instead you’re drawn into the story. Mendoza’s characters have a heart and a soul so you don’t see them as monsters, you see them as people. And you see some very thought provoking things as related to the human condition. 

After reading most of the run of Zombie Tramp I ask myself: Why isn’t Dan Mendoza writing The Incredible Hulk? Janey Belle reminds me so much of the John Buscema era of the Incredible Hulk, a wandering antihero who metes out rough justice on those who do evil on her journeys while she tries to deal with the monster she’s become. A woman who wonders if there’s any semblance of humanity left in her after participating in so many horrific acts of violence and dealing with the lowest forms of life. Seriously, if Marvel gave us a run of Hulk Comics with the storytelling Zombie Tramp does, the book would have the sales of the Buscema days. Man, this book BLOWS THE DOORS off anything Marvel has produced in the last two decades!

Everyone who writes heroines needs to take notes, Mendoza gives you a clinic on how to write strong heroines with Zombie Tramp. Again, he pulls no punches in his stories and he puts Janey Belle through a complete character transformation arc. Unilike heroines at Marvel and DC she isn’t set up against jobbers. No, she takes on serious threats and major challenges and deals with all the pain and loss that male heroes do. Everything Mariko Tamaki said wanted to do with her horrible (She)Hulk run in 2017 Dan Mendoza did with Zombie Tramp in 2014.

Dan Mendoza’s Zombie Tramp is a must read for any comic fan out there. With all the adult content, this definitely isn’t a comic for kids. However for those mature readers out there this is a series you can’t miss. This series gets my highest recommendation; You must pick this one up in singles or trade!

Monday, January 29, 2018

President Donald Trump, Black Unemployment & Shawn James

Friday, January 26, 2018

Why Are SJW Comic Creators & Hollywood Pushing Black Lesbian Heroines So Hard?

There’s been big push by SJW comic creators to make African-American heroines lesbians these days. The new Valkyrie featured in Marvel’s new Exiles comic book based on the character Tessa Thompson played in Thor: Ragnorok is a lesbian.

One of Black Lightning’s daughters on the CW’s Black Lightning is a super-strong lesbian.

Several indie comics creators like Saladin Ahmed have made the African-American heroines like Abbott in their comics lesbians. And Before that we had Ta-Naheshi Coates and Roxxane Gay featuring Black Lesbian Dora Milaje guards as the lead characters in the failed Marvel title Black Panther: World of Wakanda.

Demographically, Black Lesbians make up less than 000000.1% of the American population. And even less than a hundred billionth of all comic book readers. But SJW comic book creators seem to love making Black heroines in their stories lesbians.

Seriously, how many lesbians go to the comic shop? And how many Black lesbians go to the comic shop to buy comics for so many publishers to be pushing Black lesbian heroines so hard? Why are so many people in the comic book industry spending so much money to appeal to a hundred billionth of all comic book readers when most of the core audience of millions of heterosexual males are keeping their wallets closed to the point where over 50 comic shops closed last year?

When I do the math on this push for Black Lesbian heroines in comics 2+2 is equaling 5.

Look, I’m all for diversity. But something stinks here. When almost every new Black heroine is a lesbian someone in the Big Five media is trying to send a message. That they’re trying to promote homosexuality as a social norm in the Black community. And in some cases they’re trying to masculinize the Black woman like they did in the movie Proud Mary that flopped at the box office last week.

In most of these comics, SJW comic creators are sending a passive aggressive message to the world about Black women. Yeah, they’ll include Black women in their comics. But they have found a new way to minimize their attractiveness and devalue their beauty in comparison to White heroines in the eyes of men. I find it funny how the White heroine can be presented as having sex appeal to everyone all over the world. But the Black heroine is presented that doesn’t make her attractive to the core audience of heterosexual Black men.

Damn. Just Damn. With straight Black men being a growing demographic in the comic book industry you think struggling comic publishers would target them with a sexy heroine. But SJW comic creators are too caught up in their racism to think about business like I do.

When it comes to SJW comic creators most people need to understand they’re a little more covert with their racism. Yeah, they’ll give Black readers an attractive sexy Black woman in a comic book. But they make it where she can’t be considered sexually attractive to biggest audience of readers who would consider spending money on those comics: Heterosexual men.

The core audience for most comic books is Heterosexual men. And Heterosexual men like myself are attracted to heterosexual heroines. And when it comes to comics sex sells BIG. When straight guys see a sexy woman in a tight costume or sexy street clothes they want her to be someone they see themselves as having the possibility of getting with. Someone attractive. Sexy. Desirable. Someone who makes their dick hard. Someone they fantasize about dating or being their girlfriend. That’s what gets straight male readers excited. That’s what sells hundreds of thousands of issues. That’s why heterosexual women like Storm and Vixen are household names and Black Lightning’s lesbian daughter had Black men changing the channel when she appeared on the CW’s Black Lightning this Tuesday.

But SJWs don’t want to sell comics. They want to make a passive-aggressive statement about diversity where they pretend to include Black women. And then when the comics don’t sell, say that Black people don’t buy comic books. Then use that as a reason not to publish comics featuring Black characters in the future.

Damn. Just Damn.

SJWs want to talk about diversity but they don’t want Black women to be sex symbols on the level of White women. So they make them lesbians so that male readers won’t see them as someone as sexually attractive in comparison to their White female counterparts. Unfortunately, when Heterosexual men hear a comic book character is a lesbian that’s bad for a comic book publisher’s business. With the industry struggling to get new readers, right now and sales at an all time low, making a Black heroine a lesbian in a comic is the KISS OF DEATH for a comic publisher.

It’s not that Black characters don’t sell. It’s that SJWs try to sell comics to audiences of readers that don’t exist. When a comic targets an audience of one billionth of the American population that comic is DEAD ON ARRIVAL at the comic shop. If a comic publisher can’t get straight male readers to see the heroine as their girlfriend and female readers to see that heroine as their best friend that publisher isn’t going to sell any comic books.

I know from experience that heroines are a tough sell. And Black heroines are an even tougher one to new readers. As a Black creator of Black heroines like Isis, E’steem and Matilda Crowley I know how tough it is to sell a straight heroine of color to new readers. If a heroine doesn’t have sex appeal to both straight men and women she’s not going to gain much traction at the comic shop. So why are so many SJW comic creators shooting themselves in the foot at the starting line of the comic book marketplace?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

More Isis/E’steem Cover Concept Art

Working on Two more concept cover pieces for this years books. These come from Isis: Escape From Transylvania and E’steem: Goddess of?

For Isis: Escape From Transylvania I decided to go for a very spooky theme. It’s night and John and Isis are running for their lives in a Transylvanian forest. Castle Dracula is in the background in the distance, the moon is high and bats are flying. John has a determined look on his face and Isis has an uneasy one on hers as he leads her through the forest.

For E’steem: Goddess of? I took a picture I imagined from the climax of the story. In this image a bikini clad E’steem is facing off against Demonic Dominatrix Avarisk, The Tormentor on the Island of Solitude. She’s powered up in the foreground while we see the back of Avarisk with holding her whip ready to dish out some punishment. With this picture, I’m trying to set up some mystery as related to E’steem’s new powers and this new blonde bad girl.

Still have to sketch up a cover concept for Isis: All that Glitters. In that one I have an idea for a blonde bikini clad Golden Shine smiling as she hoists a surprised Isis up in the air in the foreground of a bank floor with a broken safe door lying in the background along with a knocked out guard.

I’m working hard to get all these titles out for this year, and I can do that with your help. So if you could donate whatever you can to my Patreon it’d be greatly appreciated.

Monday, January 22, 2018

E'steem: The Sands of Time Cover Concept Art

Spent this weekend working on more cover concept art for Isis: Escape From Transylvania and E’steem: The Sands of Time. 

 For E’steem: The Sands of Time's cover  I’m working on two concepts. And because I can’t draw action scenes for shit, I decided to break out the John Haynes and E’steem customs I did over a decade ago and take a few pictures.

The first features the 14-year-old Egyptian E’steem and the teenage John Haynes facing off against some burly muscular Egyptian looking men twice their size. Standing back to back behind some pyramids in the Egyptian desert, a 1980s John Haynes dressed in his jean jacket, black mock neck, olive cargo pants and white Reebok Ex-o-Fits has his fists up with a serious look on his face and the Egyptian E’steem in her white dress, plaited hair and gold jewelry is gesturing with lightning crackling from her hands.  It’s a cover with a lot of action and I’m sure it’d get a readers’ attention.

I’m also pondering doing a more romantic cover with John and E’steem standing in front of the pyramids holding each other in a romantic embrace. There’s a bit of romance in this action adventure story, but I’m hesitant to play up that side of it. While I’d love to promote the idea of Black-on-Black Love with this book, the whole idea of two 14-year olds holding each other in a romantic embrace may make some readers uncomfortable, and may be considered offensive to others.

I’d love to see these cover concepts drawn up by a professional artist. However, the only way I can pay to have them drawn up by a pro is with your support. So if you could donate a dollar or more to my Paypal or my Patreon It’d be greatly

Friday, January 19, 2018

E’steem: Goddess of? Sample Chapter

The SJS DIRECT 2018 Catalog is coming soon! And to get readers excitied I’m presenting a sample chapter of the first post E’steem: Ascension story, E’steem: Goddess of ? In this story The formerly Devilish Diva is figuring out what her role will be now that she’s no longer a demon. In this story, E’steem faces off against Avarisk, the Tormentor, a dangerous demon dominatrix!

Chapter 5

Osiris disappears in a flash of light. And since the boys wont need me for the rest of the day, I think I’ll just take some time to lie on the beach and work on this tan of mine.
I was sure that Osiris would want me to be the goddess of something. But it looks like he sees the value in the freedom Jesus has given me. I always thought Id be able to help people as a goddess the same way I helped them as the YouTube Devil Lady. But maybe God has another plan for me. One where people wont turn me into some sort of deity. Itd be hard for people to see God do His work if theyve got me on a pedestal.
I stroll across the beach taking in the view of the crystal blue waters of the South Pacific. When I find a nice secluded spot of beach on eastern shore of the island, I gesture and make my black beach towel fall out of a flash of light down onto the soft white sand. Then I peel off my armband, lie on the plush Turkish terrycloth and drop my iPhone next to me. Once I get comfortable I close my eyes, and let the sun’s rays radiate down on me. I better enjoy every moment of this little vacation, because when I get back home to John its gonna be work, work, work.
Im falling into a somnolent state when I hear a whip crack and feel something sting against my earlobe. As my earring falls off and my eyes flicker open, Im wondering if Horus and Anubis have simulated another surprise. When I see a tall attractive blonde she-demon dressed in black leather bondage gear and tall stiletto-heeled boots standing across from me with a pair of whips in her black manicured hands I know Im not dealing with a hologram. This demon comes straight from the sixth level of Hell.

I’m working hard to get the SJS DIRECT 2018 catalog together. And many of the books like E’steem: Goddess of? Are ready to be published. All I need to do is raise the funds to pay an artist to design the covers. So if you could donate $1 or more to my Patreon, or my PayPal it’d help me get E’steem Goddess of? To the marketplace!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Shawn Roasts CW’s SJW Black Lightning

I did my best to remain objective while I watched CW’s Black Lightning. After hearing Greg Berlanti, Mara Brock Akil and Sam Akil were involved I wasn’t expecting much. However, CW’s Black Lightning managed to surprise me. Their adaptation of Black Lightning was more of an SJW shit show than I could ever imagine.

As I watched the pilot episode I rolled my eyes. I thought I was watching an old episode of M.A.N.T.I.S, not a 2018 adaptation of a DC Superhero. It’s a shame that Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil and Greg Berlanti haven’t seen all the progress Black fantasy has made in the last 25 years. Because if they did they’d see that Black fantasy is a lot richer than what they presented in this shit show.

Black Lightning opens with a voice over from one of his daughters, when a show opens with a supporting character telling us about things it’s a BAD sign. A good show SHOWS us the main character, it doesn’t have someone TELL us who he is or about his life. In that voice over we’re told all about how bad things are in Black Lightning’s part of town. The drugs, the crime. All a result of the street gang known as the 100.

Stuff I saw done better in M.A.N.T.I.S’s two-hour pilot back in 1994.

Damn. Just Damn. Can’t Black heroes fight against anyone other than a street gang?
I’d like to think Black fantasy could move past these tired old ghetto tropes. But Salim Akil’s imagination is very limited and it showed in this screenplay.

Shades of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, the Black police commissioner says he can’t get a handle on it. In one of the protests against the police, Black Lightning’s oldest daughter Anissa a natural haired medical student and aspiring SJW has been arrested. And Principal Jefferson Pierce has come to pick her up at the precinct. On the way home, he’s racially profiled by two racist white cops who bring him over to an Asian store owner to ask if he robbed the liquor store.

Good Gravy. Bring on the stereotypes. The police commissioner tells Jefferson they're not "his" cops. A blatant SJW attempt to deflect responsibility and emasculate a Black male in an authority position. If they collect a paycheck from the city and you're in charge of them, whose cops are they? 

The next day after being racially profiled Princapal Jefferson Pierce is honored at his high school by the State Senator. Meanwhile in the bathroom his weave wearing hoodrat in training daughter Jennifer has decided to sneak out of an event honoring his father and head to Club 100, a known gang spot to hang out with Pookie. As Jennifer gets caught up with the 100 gang members, she’s taken into an office complete with a Cottonmouth wannabe in an 80s jogging suit we get a scene ripped straight from Luke Cage. Hearing his daughter is at this club Jefferson goes down to the club to save his daughter from being pimped by the thugs she decided to involve herself with.

After Jefferson goes to save his daughter from the gang members he runs into more racist White Cops who he shocks and blows up their car.

Damn. Just Damn. Is every white person in this show a racist?

Pretty much. As Jefferson goes to get help with injuries he sustained in the fight at the club, he’s tended to by an old White Tailor who knew him when he was younger. And the old White man talks about him making a difference in his community. Unfortunately, the paternalistic way he talks to him comes across like the slave master talking to his house slave.

Good Gravy. Why is every White character on this show is a racist? Why does every White man appear to have negative character traits in order for the Black man to be a hero?

Oh wait, this is an SJW show. So there is no such thing as balance or depth of character. White males are all EVIL.

Gimme a Break.

As the episode progresses we get scenes of CottonMouth Lite punishing his son with a gun. Jefferson’s daughters get kidnapped by the 100 who talk about pimping them out as hoes. As Jefferson goes to take on the 100, he gets the blessing of the old White tailor who crafts him a new costume. And Shawn gets sick to his stomach.

Yeah, Black Lightning is back. And he’s gonna clean up the streets of the hood. Unfortunately, he can’t do that unless he gets the approval of The Man. The thinly veiled message of this show between the lines is that a Black man can’t do anything without a White man signing off on it.

Fuck You Berlanti. Fuck You.

That’s a total contradiction to what a real Black hero is all about. If a Black hero wants to clean up his community he should do that on his own without the approval of any White person.  

Luke Cage this Ain’t. At Least Luke Cage showed us a Black man could act on his own and do things for himself. He was his own man and did things on his own terms.

My big problem with Black Lightning is that it wasn’t a show about people. It was a show about what a White person thinks Black people are like. Black Lightning tries to be a Black superhero show for White people instead of a show about a Black superhero. And because it tries to be a Black superhero show for White people we don’t get a show about the content of Jefferson Pierce’s character we get a show that revolves around what White people think Black people are like. Every character is a representation of a group of people and their ideals, not an individual character with their own personality and their own “voice.” No one talks to each other, they make speeches. And over the course of an hour all those speeches get annoying.

My other big problem with Black Lightning was how little imagination was presented onscreen. In an age where we have Iron Man flying, Thor throwing his hammer, Wonder Woman twirling her magic lasso I’d like to think we could do something more original than the same old black guy with powers taking on a street gang. In the nine years I’ve been writing I rarely have my characters fighting a street gang or thugs. John Haynes has fought Lucifer and God Katious, a Despot with a Gem of Omnipotence. Isis has been too busy taking on Nubian Queens, Greek Gods, Vampires, stalkers, Cybergoddeses, demons, kung-fu killers and Dracula himself. And E’steem has taken on Morgan Le Fay, and all sorts of demons and monsters. If I could imagine a story where Black characters can take on challenges outside of the street gang, I’d like to think we could get some fantasy concepts presented onscreen with a bit more originality and creativity.

I wanted to like Black Lightning There are some nice ideas here like the Black father trying to protect his family. But the big problem with Black Lightning is the execution of the concept. It all feels like some White person’s idea of a Black person, not what a Black person truly is. In between the flat characters, speeches talking at you, outdated special effects and by the numbers bad guys and it all comes together to make for a mediocre show. There’s not much content to Black Lightning’s character outside of the color of his skin. In 20l8 I believe viewers deserve better than just a Black superhero, they deserve a GREAT fantasy experience featuring a Black character.

Good God, I wish I could produce a John Haynes series on film or TV. It’d blow the doors off Black Lightning.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

John Haynes Concept Sketches

This Weekend I spent my day drawing model sheets of what John Haynes would look like in Isis: Escape From Transylvania and E’steem the Sands of Time. It was fun seeing how a character’s style changes over time.

The first sketch I did was the Teenage John Haynes who appears in E’steem: The Sands of Time. I dressed up the 14-year-old John in clothes I used to wear in the late 80s, a denim jacket, cargo pants, a mock neck shirt and Reebok Ex-o-Fit sneakers. Something a kid would just throw on and go out the door. 

The John Haynes from Isis: Escape From Transylvania wears a more sophisticated outfit that an older man would wear when he goes casual. He’s got on a navy barn jacket based on a Brooks Brothers one I used to own, jeans and a casual buttondown shirt. John’s fashion style is a bit more refined and polished. And it fits in the dark Gothic aesthetic I’ve planned for him and Civilian Isis on that cover.

Speaking of Civilian Isis, I’ve done a color model for that character. I want her colors to match up with John’s for Escape From Transylvania and fit the dark gothic mood I have planned for that cover.

I’m hoping to get both E’steem: The Sands of Time and Isis: Escape From Transylvania out this year! E’steem: The Sands of Time is in the middle of revisions, and Isis: Escape From Transylvania is edited and uploaded to CreateSpace and Kindle. All I need to do is raise the funds to pay an artist to design the covers. So if you can donate to my Patreon, it’ll help me get these books out for the summer reading season!  

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Shawn Reviews Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4

I headed over to Dynamite’s website to pick up my first digital comic of 2018, Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4. And after reading this one, I was a little disappointed. This issue felt more like filler to pad a 4-issue mini into 5 issues to meet a page quota for a trade paperback, than an issue of a miniseries. The storytelling was a little OFF in this one and I hope this isn’t a precursor of things to come in the final issue.  

Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4 picks up where the last issue left off with the Blood Queen of Hearts stabbing Vampirella in the gut with a board. The splash opens on her talking about how much pain she’s in while her healing factor tries to recover from the injury. While she briefly blacks out (Vampi says she dies) as her body copes with the trauma, Vlad and Cassie fight off some demons and take the injured Vampirella in their van and make a getaway in the desert.

The art panels of Cassie and Vlad fighting demons in this issue really are strong, unfortunately the story starts to fall apart. After Vampi wakes out unconsciousness in Cassie and Vlad’s van she says she needs blood. With Vampi taking a bite out of Cassie in the last issue, Vlad volunteers. The whole sequence of Vlad being bitten by Vampirella feels really forced and doesn’t really flow into the story. Plus, wouldn’t both Cassie and Vlad be weak after both being drained of blood? Most people who donate blood are tired after losing so much. But Cassie and Vlad are both ready to fight more demons after being bitten by Vampirella.

But in spite of this plothole the story moves on. After some expository panels explaining how they can defeat the Blood Queen, Blood Queen follows the trio out into the desert with a horde of demons.  After Vlad and Cassie beat down the demons Blood Queen calls up some zombies out of all the bodies buried in the Vegas desert. As the battle continues, Blood Queen’s top henchdemon kidnaps Vlad setting up for next issue’s big finish. And with the way the last few panels set up I’m hoping the final issue is far more satisfying than this issue. 

I really wanted to get excited about Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4. Unfortunately, this issue felt more like filler than an actual story. The whole issue just felt like one big expository sequence to stretch a 4-issue mini for trade. The way the story was structured and paced in the first three issues it seems like it was a 4 issue miniseries and the conclusion could have easily wrapped in the fourth issue with the showdown in the desert.

Shawn’s advice to Dynamite on comics overall: Less is more. The tighter the story, the better the reading experience. When I’m putting Isis and E’steem series books together at SJS DIRECT I’d rather publish a 64-page story that that has readers begging for more than a 100 page story that leaves them heading for the door. It would have been better for you to publish four great issues of Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella than four solid issues and one mediocre one in the middle. This issue’s weak story throws off the momentum built up over the last three issues and doesn’t give readers incentive to finish the series or buy the final issue.

When you have a miniseries you want the reader to keep the reader so excited that they’re not only looking forward to the final issue, but the next comic. Everything in this mini could easily be used to build an audience for a Dynamite Hack/Slash ongoing, but 

 The only positive about this issue was Rapha Labosco’s art. Labosco has some amazing panels here and the scenes where the heroes fight demons. And the action really moves very well from panel to panel.  

While I was a little disappointed with Hack/Slash Vs. Vampirella #4 I’m still looking forward towards the final issue next month. I’m hoping the final issue can bring back the fun and excitement of the first three issues and wrap the miniseries on an up note.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

E’steem: The Sands of Time Sample Chapter

I finished E’steem: The Sands of Time last week and I’m really excited for this one! Here’s a sample chapter and a color model sheet of Egyptian E’steem!

Note: This is based on the first draft. So things may change in the final book! 

Chapter 1

4987 B.C.
I am a woman.
 Well, I’m starting to be. I turned 14 a month ago. And with me officially coming of age, I think I’m ready to show High Priestess Mamnet I’m able take on more adult responsibilities around the temple.
Ever since Seth ordained me to be a “child of the gods” I’ve been studying day and night to become a High Preistess like Mamnet. I believe it’ll be the way I can honor the gods for adopting me into their family. They all love me like I’m one of their own children. And I want to share that love I have for them by serving the people of Egypt.
While the Priestesses in the temple tend to the needs of patrons in the temple hall, I’m busy studying the papyri of ancient texts for spells. As I peer up from the text I’m reading I notice an older woman walking into the temple vestibule. The honey colored woman dressed in a white linen dress, gold armlets, bracelets, a beaded usekh collar and sandals anxiously looks around hoping to get the attention of one of the priestesses. With everyone busy they don’t see her. The last thing I want her to think is that Osiris has forsaken her. I spring up out of my chair and rush over to her. “Welcome to Osiris’ temple.” I greet. “How may I be of service of you?”
The woman gives me a skeptical look as she meets my eyes. “Aren’t you a little young to be working in the temple?”
If she only knew that this temple is like my second home. “I’ve been a part of this temple since I was a child.” I reply. “And I’m as well versed in the potions and spells of the ancient texts as any of the priestesses.”
“Well, I guess you can help me then. I need a tonic to help with the growth of the herbs in my garden.” 
I know that potion like the back of my hand. “I can definitely make that potion for you sister.”
“Are you sure?”
“I was taught magick by my mother Isis and my Aunt Sekhmet. So a simple potion like this is no problem for me.”
“So you’re that Child of the Gods everyone talks about in Nubia?”
Sounds like word about me has gone past the city of Heliopolis. “I’m a woman now.” I say. “I turned 14 a month ago.”
“Well, then you can show me what you know about magick young lady.”
My spirits feel lifted on the vote of confidence. The woman follows me over to shelves where we keep the ingredients for the potions. As I grab the ingredients for her potion off the shelves I learn more about her problems with her garden. “How long have you had trouble with your garden?” I inquire.
“Since last spring.” The woman replies. I plant seeds in my backyard and they just wither away and die right after they sprout up.”
“Do they get enough sun?” I ask putting the ingredients for her potion on the table.
“They get good sun. And they get good water. But they never grow to the point where they bear fruit. That’s why I came to Temple. I have to wonder if there’s a spell on my ground-”
“There’s no spell on your ground.” I reply. “You just need a little help from the gods to make your plants prosper.”
I feel the woman’ anticipation build as I begin making her potion. I start by pouring purified water into the clay jar. Then I add some dried dung beetles, dried pomegranate powder, and some wormwood. After I pour in the wormwood, the mixture starts to smoke and bubble. That’s definitely not how the potion is supposed to come together.
The woman’s eyes grow wide as the potion starts to become green foam that starts to bubble up out of the top of the clay jar. I let out a shriek as it erupts out of the top of the jar and the green mixture sprays all over our dresses. “I’m sorry-” I say rushing around the table to the woman.
“Sorry!” The woman barks pushing me away. “You’ve ruined my finest dress!”
I feel the eyes of everyone on the temple floor on me. “I can fix that with the Raimentus spell-”
“I think you’ve done enough E’steem.” A voice calls out across the room.
Oh. My. Ra.
I look across the room over and see High Priestess Mamnet standing in the distance. The slender caramel colored woman dressed in a white gown, gold armlets and bracelets and a wig filled with dark braids rushes over to me. “What’s going on here?” She orders.
“This so-called child of the gods said she could prepare a growth tonic.” The woman snarls cutting a cold look at me. “But all her potion making has done is ruin my finest gown.”
Mamnet gives the woman an earnest look. “I’m sorry that you had this experience at The Pharaoh’s temple.” She apologizes. “Let me fix your gown. Then I’ll have one of our more skilled priestesses prepare your tonic.”
Mamnet gestures in the direction of us both. Restorus Raimentus Anewus!” She chants. In a few moments the green slime that splattered us disappears and our white linen gowns becomes as clean as they were washed in the Nile.
After cleaning our clothes, Mamnet gestures to Sakarra, one of the priestesses in Osiris’ temple. While she darts over to Mamnet she gives me an annoyed look. “Sakarra, prepare her growth potion. E’steem, come with me.”
While Sakarra gets to work on I follow Mamnet into the back of the temple. Oh my Ra, I’m gonna get it.

E’steem: The Sands of Time will be available…Soon. I’d love to have it out for the summer reading season, but I’m short on funds to pay an artist to design the cover. However, I can fast track it for release if you donate to my paypal or my patreon!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Egyptian E’steem Concept Sketches

Spent my Saturday night drawing up concept sketches of what E’steem looks like in E’steem: The Sands of Time.

E’steem: The Sands of Time is an action packed time travel adventure that takes place in Ancient Egypt. And it features a 14-year-old E’steem as she tries to help a 14-year old John Haynes get back to his time in the 1980s. The Sands of Time has adventure and romance in an action packed story paced like a big budget animated movie. If I had to cast it, it’d have an all-Star cast of Black actors like Salli Richardson-Whitfield as E’steem, Michael Ealy as John Haynes, Keith David as Lucifer, Jada Pinkett Smith as Decadia, Angela Bassett as Isis, Samuel L. Jackson as Osiris, and Iman as High Preistess Mamnet.

With The Sands of Time I wanted to do a story that featured the teenage E’steem before she became a demon. After writing stories like Isis: My Sister, My Frenemy and E’steem: The Witches of Eastland which elaborated on E’steem’s troubled past I decided it was time to show readers what E’steem’s life was like before she had her father issues. To show how she originally had good intentions and wanted to help people. And the kind of heroine she could have become if Seth hadn’t told her the heartbreaking lies that led to her becoming a demon. 

The Egyptian E’steem concept sketches were a challenge to design. I had to study a bunch of Ancient Egyptian fashions and hairstyles to see what would look best on E’steem’s face. As everyone knows E’steem is inspired by actress Salli Richardson Whitfield, and I was worried that an Ancient Egyptian hairstyle with bangs and braids wouldn’t work with her face. But after doing some sketches I started to see that they would work.

For the portrait sketch I traced over the old E’steem drawing I did back in 1999. And I was surprised how different E’steem looked from her sultry she-demon look. Egyptian E’steem looks like a completely different character than her modern appearance. Taking this look back at the character shows how much she has changed over 4000 years.

I decided to keep E’steem’s outfit, hair, and makeup simple. I didn’t want an artist to have to deal with a bunch of elaborate details that’d be hard to translate from concept to final design. So E’steem’s Ancient Egyptian outfit is just a basic white dress, Usekh collar, armlets, bracelets and an anklet. For her hair I just went with a series of plait braids and gold ornaments in front of her face to denote her royal position. She’s a princess, but she’s conservative in her style because she’s aspiring to be a Priestess. I did a lot of research on Ancient Egyptian culture for this one, and 

With the Egyptian E’steem sketches done, now I gotta do a 1980s 14-year old John Haynes to go with her. A John who wears cargo pants  with elastic ankles, (I owned a pair of Cotlers like this in 1989) a jean jacket and Reebok Ex-O-Fit or Pop top Hi-top sneakers. And he carries a Walkman. That’s gonna be fun to draw up.  

I finished the first draft of E’steem: The Sands of Time last week and it’s in the middle of revisions. This book was a boatload of FUN to write and I’d love to get it out for the summer reading season so readers can enjoy it. I designed this one to be a like a blockbuster movie featuring Ancient Egypt re-imagined from an Afrocentric perspective. If I can get enough donations for the cover, I’ll fast-track it for an April release! 

Friday, January 5, 2018

SJS DIRECT 2018 Catalog

I’ve been laying out the schedule for what books I’d like to be a part of the SJS DIRECT 2018 Catalog. And this year the catalog is gonna be SJS DIRECT Universe related. The New books included are:

Isis: Escape From Transylvania The action packed sequel to Isis: Bride of Dracula and Isis: Night of The Vampires. In this story the goddess next door and John Haynes are kidnapped by Dracula’s daughter and forced to participate in a reality game show where they have to try to escape from Dracula’s hometown as they fight for their lives against a horde of vampires out to win a million dollar cash prize, 

E’steem: Goddess of? The first post E’steem Ascension story where The Aspiring Angel heads back to the Island of Solitude where she learns how to use her new powers as she takes on Avarisk The Tormentor, a Demonic Dominatrix,

John Haynes: A Conversation With Death, a teaser story that starts the John Haynes series. In this story John meets up with the Angel of Death and takes on some demons as they discuss plans for his life,

Isis: House of Isis where the goddess next door takes on a Hustling Hotep Priestess in Harlem in a story that makes a commentary on Pro-Blacks, Black economics and the Black community,

And The Essential E’steem the first SJS DIRECT collected trade. The Essential E’steem is going to feature the first eight stories of the E’steem story arc in a single paperback! This’ll book feature many of the early E’steem series like Demons Anonymous that were only available in eBook format for the first time in paperback!

And maybe if things work out, I can FINALLY release the long delayed Isis: Imitation of Life.

Along with those titles I’m currently working on developing several new SJS DIRECT Universe titles including:

Isis: All that Glitters, a story where Isis takes on a bikini clad bank robber, (Second Draft currently uploaded to CreateSpace)

E’steem: The Sands of Time, a time travel fantasy romance featuring a teenage E’steem and John Haynes set in Ancient Egypt. (Right in the middle of the First Draft of this one,)

John Haynes: Taking care of Business, (Outlined and plotted.)

And Isis: Revenge of the Cybergoddess. Had part of this written before my computer crashed. Now I gotta start it all over again. This story had been building up in the epilogues of Isis: Samurai Goddess and E’steem: Ascension. I want to put this one further up on the schedule, but I gotta find time to write it. 

Yeah, several of the books in the 2018 catalog are holdovers that were delayed from the 2017 catalog and even the 2016 catalog. Many are uploaded to CreateSpace and Kindle and have been waiting for publication for over a year. Some like A Conversation With Death are in their second drafts. they all need are the covers to be launched. And the only thing that keeps these books delayed are the funds to pay artists for to design the covers. So if you want to help me expedite the release of these books you can donate to my Paypal or my Patreon today!