Monday, March 30, 2015

Kickstart the Week 10: Support James Hudnall

Usually I use this section to promote a new project I think needs more visibility or support on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, but this time around I am going to hit you with two things you can do to help out one man.

James Hudnall is the former writer of Alpha Flight, Hardcase, The Psycho, ESPers and a bunch of other great comics. He recently lost a foot and in turn, a job and a home, to diabetic complications. Now he is back in the hospital again with another surgery necessary to take more of the already damaged leg. This means more expenses for an already strapped budget.

The fine folks at the Pen & Cape Society including yours truly have gathered together along with the legendary Mike Baron to produce The Good Fight 2: Villains as a charity anthology for James Hudnall. The book is currently available at Amazon and Smashwords for just under a dollar and every penny of profit goes straight to James.

But a dollar is only a dollar even if it comes with a great book. If you can afford more than just that dollar, please consider heading over to his Go Fund Me page and help James out. While he is currently unable to post updates due to a lack of internet access from the hospital, he is keeping folks apprised through Facebook.

So if you want to help, buy a book then donate whatever extra you can to a writer that desperately needs your support in these trying times.

Thanks all.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What's Up for March 29, 2015!

So I have been whiling away on a few different things, but I have made time for some reading, watching and maybe even a little gaming. I have a lot of new stuff on my plate of things to read, view or listen, so check them all out below.

Remember, if you have something you think I should check out, let me know in the comments!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

CityNewsNet 124: Skullman Strikes


CityNewsNet returns for another week with a new story of my own Skullman. Skullman is one of my original creations for the line of audio news stories, and this one puts him into a real funhouse of evil—literally.

Big ups as always to narrator Paul Ellis and producer Caine Dorr. They have helped produce a little universe inside my own works and I could not be more proud of our continued work together on CityNewsNet. Remember, if you are a super-powered fiction writer and would like to have an article featured on the site, you can submit your own news tip for a future episode. Find out how here.

Find out more about the episode at the official site. Listen to it on your favorite podcast platform or online here.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

On D.B. Cooper

Treat Williams made an overly handsome Cooper in the 1981 Universal film.
I have a fascination with weird mysteries and strange characters from history. So when a man in 1971 (seven full years before my birth) stepped out of an airplane with a briefcase full of cash and disappeared into history, I cannot help but latch on to them.

Dan Cooper has floated in my head space for years. (The alias D.B. Cooper was never actually used by the hijacker, but is based on poor early reporting.) At one point in my life I thought about turning his later years into a crime series equally influenced by Magnum, P.I. and Spenser. But as the years past and I never put him to paper, I realized I wanted to develop him a bit more than that.

While Cooper was a weird start to the 1970s, much of the decade fell into a lot of interest in weird esoteric nonsense. The government even did psychic research in the era, through a project called Stargate. As I have slowly put development into the psychic side of the Quadrant Universe, the realization came that I could combine the famous hijacker and bits of the historical narrative of psychics in my shared universe and create something interesting.

"The Second Life of D.B. Cooper" follows the former hijacker as he tries to stay out of the sight of his former Stargate handlers and use the money he stole to start a new life for himself. The first tale picks up eleven years later in Key West, Florida, as a pair of figures from his past make their returns.

Of course, I am not alone in using the mysterious figure. From books to comics to film, he has loomed in pop culture. But I hope to make a new mark on a real man that has become far more of a legend.

The tale upcoming in The Good Fight 2: Villains is far from my last tale of Coop and this corner of the Quadrant Universe. In fact, I plan a few more anthology appearances over the next couple years with the character and related figures, one of which I will discuss a bit more early next week.

The Good Fight 2: Villains is available for pre-order at Amazon or Smashwords for just 99 cents. It will go on sale digitally on March 30.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wrestling Wednesday 2: counting down the Top 100 at The Wrestling Blog

The daily countdown over at the Wrestle Blog of the Top 100 wrestlers in 2014 continues today and through Wrestlemania weekend and its aftermath. Already wrestlers 100-21 have been revealed over the last six days. Later today, the final multi-man list goes up featuring the twentieth best wrestler to the sixth best wrestler right before the daily top five kicks off tomorrow.

Check out the convenient links below for all my contributions so far!

Stay tuned today for my #2 pick of the year, a future WWE main eventer and a heck of a lot more quality wrestlers!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Marvel movies and thinking forward

All signs seem to point towards the Russo brothers, directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, have been tapped to take over for Joss Whedon on the Avengers movie franchise. It is quite a step up from episodes of Arrested Development and Community or the awfulness that was You, Me and Dupree.

But by choosing young or less high profile directors, Marvel has started to cement a series of great new faces on the directorial side. One can easily argue they started that push with Joss Whedon and the first Avengers film. While Whedon was a proven television quantity, his film work was not nearly as high profile as the Avengers allowed. But by putting trust in him, Marvel came out with a masterpiece.

The Russos created their own great film with their first foray into a Marvel Universe, which they will deepen in their next film. And in doing so, they continue a line of great lesser known or unknown directors Marvel has fostered into solid talents whose careers will deepen as they move past Marvel film-making.

With a new writers program also in place, Marvel Studios seem set to build new talent as they continue to make solid films for years to come.

The next stop in the Marvel Cinematic Universe lands in May with Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Reminder: check out cosplay on the Tumblr!

Just a regular monthly reminder that all the cosplay and great comic art we have featured in the past has now been re-located to a separate Tumblr page. Head over to and you will find more cosplays like Jasmine here as well as frequent updates featuring some superb comic art. It updates at least twice a day with new content, so check it out.

Kickstart the Week 9: Mandi

Not every Kickstarter gets a video, and with a project as beautiful looking as Mandi, it almost seems a shame. Creator Shawn Surface didn’t give his new book one, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him show off a few more pages of art in video form personally. Everything about his story of a young girl that is literally a fish out of water looks to be well-crafted. It definitely leaves me wondering why we haven’t seen more from Shawn in the past. So go check out more art on the page, then back Mandi so we can read this thing already!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

What's Up for the week of March 22, 2015

So it has been a weird week mixed with editing, project planning, a bit of writing and not a whole lot of anything else. Outside the movie below, the longest thing I watched was Wrestling Isn't Wrestling. But I also worked in a bit of reading time to finish up a novel, read a graphic novel or two and even play a level or two.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Reminder: check out The Wrestling Blog for my contributions to the Top100!

[caption id="attachment_192" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Rowan even looks epic in family pictures. Rowan even looks epic in family pictures.[/caption]

The first forty slots of The Wrestling Blog Top 100 Wrestlers are now up at the site with the remaining 60 stars left to be revealed in picks through the end of the month. But my contributions in the Top 100 focus on three talents, the pictured Erick Rowan, Chikara Grand Champion Icarus and my top pick revealed so far: ROH standout Tommaso Ciampa.

Head over to the list of numbers 100 through 81 and numbers 80 through 61 to see all three plus a list of 37 other great professional wrestlers!

CityNewsNet: Tooth & Claw


A new chapter of CityNewsNet is up, this one focused on the Tooth & Claw Motorcycle Gang, as writer Caine Dorr heads into my own Seaside City. Check out more information of it at the CityNewsNet site or listen to it now. As always, every episode is available on iTunes or most podcast services.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Good Fight 2: Villains now available for pre-order!

As I mentioned earlier this week, I have a story appearing in the upcoming Pen & Cape Society anthology The Good Fight 2: Villains. I am more than happy to announce the book is now available for pre-order with a March 30 release date. You can easily pick it up right now at Amazon or Smashwords for just 99 cents.

As a reminder, the new anthology is a benefit for James Hudnall, a truly talented comic and prose writer that has recently fallen on hard times due to diabetic complications.

The team rallied to make a great book for him and the illustrious Mr. Mike Baron of Nexus and Badger fame (and now a great prose writer in his own right) was kind enough to deliver a story for our collection as well. Plus a gaggle of other true talents like Scott Bachmann, Ian Thomas Healy, Drew Hayes, T. Mike McCurley, Cheyenne Young and a whole lot of other folks! My own story takes a bit of inspiration from James Hudnall’s ESPers as I introduce my own psychic corner of the Quadrant Universe in the first installment of The Second Life of D.B. Cooper.

So, please go out and pre-order a copy today. We are proud to bring you some great writing and encourage you to help support Mr. Hudnall in his time of need.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Influential 3: Noble Causes

One thing I like about tales of super-powered beings is their flexibility. While most of them are written as action-adventure fiction, stories of SPBs really can fit in to any genre. I believe it was writer Steven Grant that explained that superheroes aren’t really a genre, but a “setting”, a window dress that fits over other forms of fiction.

And one of the most influential of those over me is soap opera. I grew up on Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men (which could be several Influential columns on its own) but I feel the superheroes meet soap story that most contributes to Walking Shadows is Jay Faerber and company’s Noble Causes.

The Image series followed the lives and tribulations of the Noble family, an extended family of superheroes and their interpersonal relationships. Faerber created a fascinating team out of whole cloth from super-scientist dad Doc to robotic strongman Rusty to normal human Liz Donnelly-Noble, our entry point character.

>The book does nothing to hide its soapy influences with death, cheating and scandal front and center. Noble matriarch Gaia has a bastard son in Frost while Rusty has an ex-wife in Celeste (who of course keeps the Noble name) and almost everyone has a secret (or three) to keep.

The layered histories of the characters and their interpersonal relationships proved a major inspiration for me when I started writing Walking Shadows. While the familial aspect of the Nobles doesn’t appear in Walking Shadows (yet), the complex interpersonal relationships between characters that have just met and their own supporting casts will come into play more and more as the story continues to evolve. I have only started to tap the full story of the sundry cast of characters in Walking Shadows

Noble Causes
sadly ended a few years back, but the series is still easily available in two massive Archive editions from Image Comics. Both books, over 50 issues total, can be purchased for under $50.

One last note on how influential Noble Causes is on me? The entire Influential column series is inspired by Faerber’s “Under the Influence” that ran in the back of later issues. Go check it out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wrestling Wednesday: The History of Triple H

Back on the old site, I often devoted Wednesdays to wrestling matches and articles about the (pseudo-)sport of kings. I am going to return to that on occasion, starting today with a great video everyone, wrestling fans or not, should definitely check out. But before I get to that, I want to direct my readers over to The Wrestling Blog, where starting tomorrow, I will be participating in the grand list of the top 100 wrestlers of 2014. I will be contributing blurbs for some of my top picks, so keep an eye out for that as the countdown stretches over the countdown to Wrestlemania XXXI.

Back on topic though, let me direct you to a new video by Max Landis as he perfectly deconstructs the history of Triple H. In the process, he creates something I truly love to do: a full narrative of a wrestler’s entire history in a company. It is a great read and truly distills what makes Triple H compelling at his best. And yes, I highly recommend it to any fans of fiction, not just wrestling fans. Give it a look.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Writer's Update for March 17, 2015

It has been a weird couple of weeks, both writing and editing.

My next story release will see publication at the end of the month as part of a new anthology from my friends and colleagues at the Pen & Cape Society. I helped determine the book would be for the aid of one Mr. James Hudnall, the long time comic creator left without a home and job due to the recent loss of a foot from diabetic complications. I provided the introduction for the book and the first of my stories in “The Second Life of D.B. Cooper” series. In the spirit of Mr. Hudnall’s years writing ESPers, I thought writing my own psychic antihero would be perfect for this book. Coop will definitely resurface again in the near future.

My writing has been split between slowly putting Lightweight 11 together while also working on a new anthology project tentatively titled Punchline, that will follow a super-villain through multiple stories. I am hoping to take some time to get them both wrapped up in early April so that I can get everything set for them by the end of May, but we will see how time falls.

I am also editing the first story in a new anthology project with Jim Beard, whose G.I. JOE: Adventure Team: MYSTERY OF THE SUNKEN TOMB you should go buy right now! The first tale is in the can now that sets up that one, so I will probably be sending out some feelers to folks to get that one set-up in full soon.

Today’s image is the classic FBI drawing of Dan Cooper.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kickstart the Week 8: Hero Hourly

What if being a superhero was just another job for a 9 to 5 wage slave? That is the question asked by Hero Hourly in what looks like an amusing send up of the traditional superhero story. Written by James Patrick and with lovely art by Carlos Trigo, it looks like a great read for teenage readers and above. But it desperately needs funding in the next two weeks if it is to launch, as it currently sits at just a third of its funding goal. So go check it out, see if it is in your wheelhouse and back it already!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

What's Up for March 15, 2015

It has been another oddball week spent trying to play catch up with way too much stuff. Reading and watching time falls by the wayside during those times, so I didn't dig too deep into the library I have beside my bed. But here is what I was working on in the time I did have!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Influential 2: Noir

Howard Chaykin's amazing cover. 
I previously talked about Starman and how its characterization of Star City influenced the cities of the Quadrant Universe. Today I want to focus on another influence to Walking Shadows with similar ties to location, but in a very different genre, as it is a role-playing game with very little to do with super powered figures.

Noir was a little known game from the late 90s that was designed to allow players to recreate a 30s-50s setting and the gritty crime drama of film noir cinema. I loved it because I could use it to create pulp stories with relative ease, but I also loved it for its rather generic setting, a vague City without a name.

The City (no relation to the home of The Tick) seems inspired by Dick Tracy’s nebulous setting. It’s clearly designed to resemble Chicago, but at the same time isn’t exactly Chicago. In the matter of a few dozen pages, the author’s brought the pseudo-Chicago to life in glorious detail through first hand narration by residents of the area. It was an ingenious way to create a stylized Chicago even when it isn’t really Chicago.

That is my goal with River City in a nutshell. I want to give my heroes a city that lives and breathes, even if it may just be a strange reflection of other cities. At the same time, it gives me room to grow the setting of Walking Shadows, which I very much want to be a world of superhuman beings without costumes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A little love for some 'Modern Gods'!

I am proud of the work by myself and the other writers on the Metahuman Press anthology Modern Gods. The book (and its sequel) came together beautifully. I loved the concept of taking classic mythology and bringing it into the modern day and the other contributors all put their own unique spin on it. Collected under a cover by contributor Teel James Glenn, it is one of my favorite anthology works I have edited.

It looks like the reviewer Kip on Amazon agreed with me. He said about the book:
If you are looking for something different, fun and creative, Modern Gods is for you. The cover of the book really caught my attention and I thought, "Hmmm, this could be a cool read." I was right. Certainly one of the most creative books I've read in a while. I felt as if I were in each story myself while reading along. My favorite story in the book was "Ice Beauty," but I will definitely be looking for more work from each author.

Give Modern Gods a try. I think you'll enjoy it.

Strong praise indeed, Kip. Bonnie Sterling’s “Ice Beauty” truly is a winner, but the work by myself, Viktor Kowalski and the always epic Teel James Glenn are equally stupendous. If you haven’t already checked it out, give Modern Gods a try at Amazon.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Kickstart the Week 7: Lost Protectors

Play With This Too is a new toy manufacturer, but they are made up of multiple long-time professionals in the industry. Now they want to start their first line in the form of Lost Protectors and fund it with Kickstarter. The toy designs focus on evil invading monsters battling weirdly armored humans, several of which show clear inspiration from a long-forgotten line of toys. The Transformers Pretenders look archaic by today’s toy standards but Desolataur and Bitemark derive straight from Skullgrin and Bomb-Burst. But these toys have unique innovations all their home and promise to be some amazing releases.

Check out more of the designs on Kickstarter and support some great looking toys.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

What's Up for March 8, 2015

Been a hectic week but I am finally getting things back on track. Got a bit of reading done during my sick spell though, so hopefully that will shape up to some more great stuff popping up here in the next couple weeks.

This week, I kept up with Stan Lee’s new novel, continued a dark comic series and finally watched the Disney movie personally designed for me. Oh, and we might have a new video game system in the house. Check them all out at the links for Amazon below.

Pangaea still needs your support!

No one wants to see a good Kickstarter fail. Right now with just two days left, Pangaea is still over a thousand dollars away from funded. I know I talked it up in last week’s Kickstart the Week, but they still need a bit more help. It is very possible to get this thing funded if just a few more folks go out there and lend some money to great writing by Michael Jan Friedman, Peter David, Paul Kupperberg, Robert Greenberger and even more. If you want to continue to see some great work from some great writers, go out there and give it a couple bucks.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Are you listening to CityNewsNet?

I have failed to mention it since the rebirth of, but I am happy to be a contributor to CityNewsNet, a weekly podcast featuring news articles from a super-powered universe. Conceived alongside fellow writer and regular podcaster Caine Dorr and performed by Paul Ellis, each week we look at a snippet of news from either my own Seaside City, Caine’s Pacifica or even guest contributions from other writers.

With over twenty episodes of two to five minutes already recorded, the show is still going strong. It is regularly available through an RSS feed on the site or through your regular podcast provider (like Sticher or iTunes). Our recent chapters feature the introduction of my character LaserTron or Caine’s look at the death penalty in a universe where immortality isn’t an impossibility! But all twenty plus episodes are available for your listening pleasure at any time!

Check out the complete archive of episodes here!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Kickstart the Week 6: Pangaea

Michael Jan Friedman has created some great books in the past, but now he has set out to create a new anthology of stories set on a shared world. Pangaea is built around the conceit that continents never divided and in remaining one land mass, history developed quite differently.

The book is filled with some great names of science fiction, but superhero fans will probably recognize Peter David, Paul Kupperberg and Robert Greenberger, all veterans of the comic industry. With reasonable buy-in levels and a neat concept, this book deserves to see the light of day.

Head over to Kickstarter and help make Pangaea happen before time runs out.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

What's Up for March 1, 2015

It has been a busy couple weeks without even thinking about writing and reading, but I have managed to make some time for both. Not a lot, but I have managed to get a few things done in the last couple weeks. Here is what I have been up to for the last few days.