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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Shawn Reviews Goth Ghost Girl #1 & 2

As a Darkly Inclined guy I’m a big fan of anything Goth. And I’m a big fan of comics. So when I heard about the Goth Ghost Girl: Bloodbath Kickstarter I eagerly put in my pledge the first day it was announced so I could pick up both Goth Ghost Girl #1 and Goth Ghost Girl #2: Bloodbath. And these books are modern CLASSICS. I highly recommend you get both these books because they are MASTERPIECES!  

Goth Ghost Girl is Lily O’Siris former lead singer of the Punk Goth band Imminent Hour. After being murdered by a deranged fanatic she wanders to and fro trying to help those in need as a vengeance seeking ghost who metes out rough justice on those who deserve it.

Each issue of Goth Ghost Girl has two to three stories. One about Lily as Goth Ghost Girl, and another flashback tale about Lilly’s days among the living. Both stories in each issue interconnect and give us hints to how Lily’s actions in the past had an relate to today. The first story of the first issue An Die Freude is a MASTERPICE. It brilliantly introduces us to Lily and shows us how great a heroine she is. As she reflects on her past life she meets Erin a deeply troubled girl who is being abused by her stepfather. This story is a powerful one and it’ll get you in the feels.  

The second story of the first Issue Rodeo Rage features Lily and her Imminent Hour bandmates helping some farmers save their land from a rich developer. This one is a more lighthearted tale, but has many of the dark undertones of An Die Freude. From Rodeo Rage we get an insight into what drove lily when she was alive and how it motivated her to do what was right. Dead or Alive Lily’s a hero readers will want to root for and anticipate getting her next issue.

The first story of the second issue Bloodbath is a CLASSIC. It takes a moment to take a playful shot many of the tropes at modern so-called SJW comics before introducing us to Diablo the cat, who may be a familiar to Lily. As the story goes on we find out what happened to Lily’s bandmates in Imminent Hour after she was murdered and what happened to her late boyfriend Skunk ain’t pretty. In the aftermath, we get a hint to why Lily is stranded on earth and that mystery has me anticipating putting in a pledge for the next issue.

The second story gives us another look into Lily’s past with Ultimate Super Music Stars. This one reminded me a lot of 1980s Jem and the Battle of the Bands.  This was a fun lighthearted story that showed Lily’s love for her boyfriend Skunk in the past and her love for Goth music. 

I LOVED both issues of Goth Ghost Girl. John Schillim Jr, and Sergio Quijada capture the spirit of the Goth Subculture in every page of the comic and while they celebrate everything dark they also understand the core foundation of the subculture is the music. Each story in Goth Ghost Girl weaves a tapestry of past and present that has the reader anticipating the next issue so they can find out more about Lily’s past and how it relates to the future. I love the way John Schillim Jr. crafts the stories in Goth Ghost Girl giving these supernatural characters like Lily humanity and heart and I love the way he uses subtlety nuance, Irony and foreshadowing to tell a tale that is haunting and moving. And Sergio Qujiada’s art is so dynamic in An Die Freude and Bloodbath reminds me of the best episodes of Batman: The Animated Series Like Heart of Ice. I can’t wait for John and Sergio to announce the next Kickstarter, because I definitely want to read the next issue!

Goth Ghost Girl is one of the best comics in the medium today and I highly recommend you pick this one up on Comixology. This comic could be a collector’s item in the future, from what I’ve read in the comics I could easily see Lily’s story as an Adult Swim Animated series, or action figures in the future. So you definitely want to pick this one up today!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

John Haynes: The Book That Could’ve Saved Vertigo Comics


Last week it was announced that Vertigo Comics was being shut down. But I have to wonder: Could John Haynes have saved the imprint?

From what my readers have been telling me, John Haynes is a basically a Vertigo Comic without the Vertigo label. They say it’s everything oldschool Vertigo readers want in a Vertigo comic. A strong masculine Black male hero and his sexy Black assistant taking on supernatural forces in a strange and unusual world. A CEO working in a corporate Hell filled with vampires, demons and monsters. A book filled with supernatural action, adventure and a little bit of humor.  A fresh 21st Century take on the occult and horror stories not unlike Ghostbusters or Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

All the elements of top selling Vertigo comics like Constantine back in the day.

Right now John Haynes: A Conversation With Death is one of the top sellers on the SJS DIRECT imprint. Many of my readers tell me that JohnHaynes: A Conversation With Death reminds them of John Constantine and his comic, John Constantine: Hellblazer. A Vertigo comic that was one of the pillars Vertigo during Karen Berger’s tenure on the imprint. A Vertigo book that was a consistent seller for DC/Vertigo for over 20 years.

A Vertigo property that has allowed DC to reap a bounty of profits from licensed merchandise like action figures and has allowed them to make both movie and TV adaptations like his TV series and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Why do I wonder if John Haynes could’ve saved Vertigo? In 2018 Vertigo relaunched with a series of titles comic fans hated out the gate like Border Town, Hex Wives, High Level, and Goddess Mode.  But I wonder if Vertigo were to have launched with John Haynes in the mix could it have been the title that saved the imprint?

In publishing 90% of books fail. And it’s the 10% that succeed that keep the lights on. John Haynes: A Conversation With Death has been selling since I published it in June 2018. It’s been acclaimed by readers who have picked it up.

Could John Haynes have been the book to keep the lights on at Vertigo?

I believe it could’ve. With the word of mouth the book is getting on the POD track and marketing on a shoestring budget on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube it’s been selling strong. I believe with a Vertigo label and Diamond’s mass distribution of DC Comics, John Haynes could’ve probably gotten 25,000 orders on the first run and another 25,000 on the second printing.

Combine that DC/Vertigo label distribution with my online marketing skills and professional web presence on Social media (I spend most of my time selling books when I’m on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube) and I believe John Haynes could’ve sold 50,000 comics. That would’ve built anticipation for the next pair of two-issue story arcs John Haynes: Dark Succubus and the upcoming John Haynes: The Man With Nothing To Lose.  

I believe a Vertigo John Haynes title would’ve made Warner reconsider on shuttering the imprint. As long as one title is selling well enough it gives a conglomerate incentive to keep the lights on.

 And I also believe my professionalism online would’ve been a model for comics pros in the face of the numerous online scandals that plagued Vertigo 2018 with so-called SJW comics pros like Eric Esquival, Robbie Reyes, and Zoe Quinn. Scandals that generated a lot of controversy with Comicsgaters on social media, but didn’t generate many sales of their books. 

As a writer with over 25 years of writing experience in romance, fantasy, chick lit and women’s fiction, and 10 years of publishing experience I know what sells books is what’s on the page. These days almost every person who buys John Haynes: A Conversation With Death and Dark Succubus has gone back to pick up his past appearances in Isis: Escape From Transylvania, Isis: Bride of Dracula, Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess, The Man Who Rules TheWorld and John’s first book The Temptation of John Haynes. So the new stories are selling the old ones.

Just like a good comic book should.

Proving there’s nothing wrong with the business model for selling comics. Just a problem with those who create the content these days.  

Could John Haynes have been a hit at Vertigo?

Maybe if WB executives had reneged on their crazy contract demands that led to numerous top selling comic pros like Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis leaving the imprint. As a creator their new contract deal would’ve made me WALK AWAY. No creator who invests YEARS of their time into creating and developing a character is gonna throw it all away on a bad deal where they sign away their intellectual property rights like film, TV, and merchandising.

In a world where creators can get their projects funded and put on the market through crowdfunding while keeping all their rights, What incentive does a creator like myself have for working with a publishing house? What incentive do they have to work with a comic publishing house if they’re going to profit from all the rights to all their work?

Any deal I’d sign with any comic publishing house would be for North American Comic adaptation rights ONLY. And there’d be a clause for me to do the writing and be paid for it. Along with final approval on the artist. I would also want a cut of the merchandising on those adaptations from companies like DC Collectibles or I’d negotiate a separate deal.

Warner Brothers needs to realize that the world of publishing has changed. And that Karen Berger was on the right track when she was allowing creator-owned properties to be published at the imprint. In the short-term the higher costs of those film and TV rights that those creators owned were nothing compared to what Warner Brothers would’ve reaped on a successful adaptation of a Vertigo property and the sales from casual readers off the street when that film or TV show premièred.

As I see it better to pay a creator like myself than to have to risk the reputation of Warner Brothers on a blasphemous comic like Second Coming that alienated Christians and led to a petition with over 200,000 signatures in a boycott against it. The controversy Second Coming is what DC Got for being cheap and looking to generate controversy instead of hiring a creator who was out to generate strong sales numbers.

Could John Haynes saved Vertigo? We’ll never know. All I know is it’s a shame that Vertigo is shuttering its doors. I’m saddened that a generation of readers will never experience any of the unique takes on comics and genres of comics Vertigo offered. When I think about the praise readers shower on me for John Haynes wonder what I could’ve contributed to Vertigo Comics with a John Haynes book.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Sunset of Vertigo Comics


Today is a sad day in comic book history.

DC’s Vertigo imprint is being sunseted out in 2020.

Sunseting is a fancy way of saying they’re shutting down Vertigo. And it’s very sad when you realize the impact Vertigo had on the comic book medium over the last 25 years.

Founded by Karen Berger in 1993, Vertigo was a place where Comic creators weren’t restricted by the Superhero genre at DC Comics. Where they weren’t restricted by the comics code. It was a place where comic creators could tell stories in genres and from perspectives they couldn’t in the tradition DC Comics.

Over the 1990s and early 2000s Vertigo became known as a place for innovation imagination and creativity. It was the home of critically acclaimed comics like Sandman, Preacher, Promethea, Lucifer, The Invisibles, iZombie, V For Vendetta, Swamp Thing, and the long-running John Constantine: HellBlazer.

Under Berger’s vision Vertigo became an imprint where comic fans could find Comics that suited older readers with more mature themes and tasteful adult content. Vertigo brought older readers back to comic shops

And it brought lots of talent to DC. Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman and many others made became household names at Vertigo.

Unfortunately, Corporate greed undermined the Vertigo brand. As bestselling Vertigo Comics became successful film adaptations, Warner executives got upset that many Vertigo comics were creator owned properties. And instead of paying those creators fairly for their film and TV rights, they sought to keep them from profiting on the intellectual properties they created.

With many creators owning their own creative properties and realizing how much they’d lose on the deal, they balked, took their characters to other imprints and left. 

Determined to get a bigger piece of the profits, WB execs still tried to take creators intellectual property rights away. First they demoted Karen Berger. Then they sought to change the contracts on the Vertigo properties they did have before firing Berger and sending Vertigo into limbo until its 25th Anniversary.

What a screw job.

On that 25th Anniversary DC sought to relaunch Vertigo with an inexperienced blogger as the new editor in chief and grossly unqualified creators like Zoe Quinn, Robbie Reyes and Eric Esquival as some of the creative staff. These So-called SJW comic pros were more interested in being online celebrities than comic pros and spent more time focused on Trump rants and generating online controversies with Comicsgaters like Richard C. Meyer (YouTube’s Diversity & Comics at the time)  and Ethan Van Sciver than presenting quality stories on their pages. 

And because they spent most of their time arguing with Comicsgaters on Social Media like Twitter, Most of the titles by this motley crew of inexperienced far leftists like Border Town, Hex Wives, High Level, and Goddess Mode were far below the standard Karen Berger established at Vertigo.  

All the new Vertigo comics these SJW comic pros produced barely got 10K orders and far less sales after being roasted by comicsgate Youtubers and comics reviewers.

Worse, thanks to the alleged sex scandals regarding Eric Esquval, Border Town wound up being cancelled before the final two issues could be published. The others Hex Wives, Goddess Mode and High Level got cancelled by issue #6.

Another Safe Sex was so obscene DC cancelled it before it went to print.

And another title Second Coming about a bumbling stumbling Jesus rooming with Sun Man was so offensive to Christians that it led to a petition of 200,000 signatures and a threat of boycott before it was pulled by Dan Didio and the rights given back to the creators who have published it elsewhere.

Ironic when you think about it. WB executives wanted to get more control over the rights of comic properties by screwing creators. Then a pair of comic pros create a comic so offensive that it leads to WB corporate being forced to give those rights back to avoid alienating Chrisitians and starting a boycott.

Maybe it would’ve just been cheaper to keep Karen Berger on and pay those creators fairly for those film and TV rights?

But No, WB just hasn’t learned that lesson about greed.  And because they haven’t learned that lesson about greed they’d rather just shut the once storied Vertigo imprint down rather than realize that NO SMART COMICS CREATOR is gonna go for a raw deal where they sign away their intellectual property rights under a crap “Work for Hire” contract in an age when they can raise up to six figures to publish their own comics online on Kickstarter or indiegogo and sell thousands of copies there.

With Vertigo being shuttered DC says it’s going to consolidate into three labels DC Kids, DC Comics and DC Black Label.

Three labels. Same incompetent leadership. Good luck with that.

Dan Didio and Jim Lee aren’t on the same level as Karen Berger. They’ve run DC for nearly 20 years. And in that time they’ve run it into the ground. Thanks to Didio and Lee, DC’s comic sales and merchandising are at an all time low with readers toy collector and moviegoers abandoning the brand.  

As I see it, WB can consolidate the DC Brands, but as long as Dan Didio and Jim Lee are in charge it doesn’t change anything regarding the quality of DC Comics. The common denominators to DC’s brand decline are Dan Didio and Jim Lee. With them in charge I doubt we’ll get much innovation and creativity from DC’s Black Label that we got from Karen Berger’s Vertigo. Berger’s Vertigo was a place that wasn’t restricted by the DC Label, a label that stigmatizes comics as being something related to children and superheroes. It was a place where creators could focus on making the characters great and crafting stories in genres that weren’t superheroes. It was a place for stories for older readers who wanted a bit more subtlety and nuance. From the early Black label titles like Batman: Damned and Superman: Year One it looks like all we’re gonna get are Batdicks and redundant re-hashes of Superman’s origin from Frank Miller.

I’ll take Vertigo’s unique titles over a DC Black label any day.

It’s a shame the Vertigo Imprint is being shuttered in such an ignominious fashion. Vertigo opened the imaginations of a generation of readers and showed them that the comic medium just wasn’t superheroes. That they could be used to tell stories in all sorts of genres. And that when creators are given a platform to show their skills they can create comics that are on the level of high literature and High art.

I’m sad to see Vertigo end this way, After giving us over 20 years of great comics the brand should’ve been treated with much more respect than it has by its corporate parent is giving it. Vertigo brought comics up to another level it saddens me to see it brought low like this.   

Explaining My Wriitng Process to A Viewer

Saturday, June 15, 2019

John Haynes: A Conversation With Death Now Available on Smashwords!


Death! On the Angel of Darkness’ day off, she decides to have coffee with John Haynes, the CEO of Morris Phillips. As they discuss the direction of his life over coffee, Lucifer sends a horde of demons to the coffee house to kill him. Can The Man Who Rules The World and the Angel of Darkness overcome the dark forces of Lucifer’s Legion?

After a best-selling run on Amazon the Critically Acclaimed JohnHaynes: A Conversation With Death is now available on Smashwords and Smashwords affiliates like Barnes & Noble and the iBookstore! Get started on the adventures of The Man Who Rules The world for just 99 cents on Smashwords!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Shawn Reviews Josh Howard’s T-Bird & Throttle #2

This weekend I got my digital copy of Josh Howard’s T-Bird & Throttle #2. And after reading it I can honestly say it’s one of the best comics of 2019.

Before T-Bird & Throttle #2 picks up where #1 left off, we get a look at the early days after the engine embedded itself in Mitch’s chest. In these flashback sequences we get a look at Mitch’s past at Starlink, his relationship with his wife and a fun sequence that takes jabs at superhero costumes over the years. The leg belts, pouches and straps costume will have you laughing about the all the 90s outrageousness we all thought was cool over 25 years ago. 

 Josh does a brilliant job delving deeper into the mysteries of the character’s pasts before taking us back to the present where Mitch is recovering from the beating he received from the hipsters and SJWs at the end of T-Bird & Throttle #1. After waking up in his former partner Amy’s apartment, we find out what’s troubling Mitch. As the comic progresses we get more insight into what drives Mitch to be a hero these days and how it ties to the mysteries regarding the engine, Emily’s troubles at school and her strained relationship with her father, and some clues to the mysteries regarding Mitch’s work at Starlink. I don’t want to give anything away, THIS COMIC IS TOO GOOD TO SPOIL.

I’ll just say we finally find out who Gruesome is. And what he does to people ain’t pretty.

Oh, and Josh takes a brilliant shot at modern day SJWs in a sequence with Emily at school, along with some great advice on how to deal with them from her new friend Kat. Is she related to Amy? Guess we’ll have to wait until the next issue to find out.

T-Bird & Throttle #2 is a GREAT comic, delving deeper into the mysteries set up in issue #1 and Issue #0. This is the kind of comic I used to pick up regularly on the newsstand every Friday morning before I went to school and the kind of comic that had me counting down the days until I could get my hands on the next issue after I read it at lunch. There’s a lot of heart, soul on the pages of T-Bird and Throttle #2 and you can see how much love Josh puts in this story. The visuals in this comic are POWERFUL, and every time you read it you’ll find something new to look at.   

You definitely want to pick up T-Bird & Throttle. Josh Howard has presented comic storytelling at its finest with this series.

With the way T-Bird & Throttle #2 ended I’m definitely saving money up to get the third issue! And this time I’m getting myself paper comics, this is one series I want to add to my collection!