Wednesday, January 31, 2018

WIP Wednesday: Ups and downs

I detailed a bit on my process on this week's Super Powered. If you haven't subscribed to my biweekly newsletter, make sure you do so to get some exclusive content from yours truly.

My plan for 2018 is to greatly expand my writing output for my work. I want to re-focus on Lightweight, Quadrant and new character Rey Diablo. Over the course of the year, I hope to build those three characters into important centerpieces of my ongoing work, even as I keep working on other stories from other corners of the expansive Quadrant Universe. In the process, I hope to build a new and unique universe of adventure that everyone can enjoy.

Street Fighter's Dudley is certainly famous for his
Kidney Blow. Can't say I still can't find humor in life.
Image credit: Capcom. 
That doesn't mean I won't have side projects. I am almost at the end of the urban fantasy project I've talked about quite a bit here. I've also started to work to revamp a trilogy of works from years past into a publishable form. The future for where both those projects will debut is still hazy, but once they're finished I hope to line them up with a quality publishing house.

I do have to say work has slowed to some degree in the last week or so. Like always for me, life seems to find a way to screw around with my dreams and desires.

I mentioned in passing my bout with diverticulitis at the end of last year, another in a long list of problems with my guts over the last twelve months. A CT scan was necessary to verify no blockage with the disorder, but that scan picked up something far more troubling. A tiny lump is on the inside wall of my kidney. And such a lump has a 75% chance of being cancerous.

The stupendous news is because of the diverticulitis and the CT scan, they caught the little pea-sized bugger a decade before it would expand enough to cause pain. At the current size, excising it will most likely end any worries about kidney cancer I will have.

So while millions of others are whispering sweet nothings into their loved one's ears, I will start Valentine's Day going under for four hours of surgery on my left kidney. I would be lying if I said I'm not terrified at that proposition. But I have a good hospital, a capable surgeon and the hope I can finally get beyond all my health issues once the surgery is complete.

Kidney surgery is no joke. I'll be out of work for over a week and highly limited for a month after that. Pain pills and slow going are a sure thing for the second half of February. I know pain meds often dull my brain enough that focus becomes hard and I'm not sure how much time I will want to spend in a sitting position, but I don't plan to slow down my writing. That doesn't mean it won't happen of course, especially as I have to battle anxiety and depression alongside the ramifications of the surgery.

But I'm staying focused on hope over hysteria. I want to keep bringing great super powered fiction to everyone reading this and I don't plan to stop now.

So wish me luck, pray for me, or just send good vibes my way. Or do the one thing that makes every writer's heart grow two sizes and write a review for one of my books on Amazon or Goodreads. Whatever means you take, I will need all of them in the next few weeks. Thank you everyone for all the support you've given and I hope will continue to give as I strive to overcome this.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Best Character Ever Redux: Yukio

I'm hard at work on a story with luchadors and a lot of ninjas, so why not feature Marvel's coolest ninja once again today? 

I grew up reading Uncanny X-Men. From about 10 onwards, I absolutely adored the monthly adventures of Storm, Wolverine, Havok, Dazzler, Longshot, Rogue, Colossus  and Psylocke. But even as I explored the Australian adventures of what could only be the coolest heroes ever, I also started to read tons of back issues acquired by my brother. Along with that, I also regularly read another seriesX-Men Classic. Through those books and numerous others, I started to learn the history of the characters and their allies
One of those characters was Yukio.
Yukio isn’t a character in comics that really became cool because of her past, or her awesome array of powers (she doesn’t have any). She is a character all about mystique—and I don’t mean the blue lady.
From her first appearance in Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s Wolverine #1, Yukio comes off as the coolest girl in the world. She’s a fun loving ninja and free spirit that takes on dangerous jobs for the thrill far more than she does for any honor or glory. She forms an intimate bond with Wolverine almost instantly (though whether it was sexual or not is debatable).
In the issues of Uncanny X-Men that followed she also formed an instant friendship with Storm (a relationship of which fans still debate the sexual nature) that helped frame the now-powerless Ororo in a whole new light (and mohawk).
Since those two early, great appearances, Yukio’s role has often been a bit lackluster. An appearance in Wolverine: The Anime makes her very cool, but also very doomed. But outside that appearance, her comic roles often leave her injured. Her current status upon her last appearance was as a paraplegic, though in the world of comics that could be forgotten easily enough.
Rila Fukushima as Yukio in The Wolverine.
And of course, Rila Fukushima brings the character to life in gorgeous detail in the highly under-rated The Wolverine. Though the character went through several changes for the movie (the least of which was her transformation into a mutant), she worked beautifully as a foil and ally for Wolverine as he works his way through Japan. Unfortunately for all involved, the timeline of the film appears to have been erased entirely, making it pretty much an after-thought in Bryan Singer's overly complicated new X-Men franchise. But Rila will always be Yukio to me. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Cosplay Friday: Morrigan

We close out the week with the impressive Britany X's versions of Darkstalkers classic succubus Morrigan. Seems like an apt choice as I continue to work through my succubus-laden urban fantasy, don't you think?

As always, you can check out a lot more great Cosplay pictures over on the Tumblr. And while you are admiring some great cosplay here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff on Super Powered Fiction this week!

What's up for January 19, 2018

What's Up is a simple post where I give you links to the books, comics, movies, games and/or music I have been enjoying as of late. Feel free to check them out if you would like to enjoy them as well or give your opinions of these works in the comments below (though do try to keep it spoiler free.)

Writing has been a major focal point, but I've definitely made some time for other work of late! Here's what has been on my table and television for the last few days!

Mississippi Roll: A Wild Cards Novel | Voices of Wrestling NJPW 2017 Year in Review |
Harley Quinn: Hot in the City | Thanos: The Infinity Relativity | Westworld Season 1

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Influential: Wild Cards

I am deep in the heart of the latest Wild Cards volume in between writing work, so it seemed apt to share this classic influential about the series.

Brian Bolland drew the best of many Wild Cards covers over the years.
It is hard to talk about super powered prose fiction in the United States without bringing up the Wild Cards franchise. Conceived by George R.R. Martin in the late eighties and based on a Superworld campaign by some of the original authors, it was the first major work to put original superheroes into prose form.

Now decades old, in many ways the series defined superhero prose fiction. It also proved that a cohesive universe shared by multiple authors was not only feasible but could also be incredibly compelling.

While the first volume in the series was published in 1987, I didn’t discover the series until the very early 1990s however through six hardcover reprints produced by the Science Fiction Book Club and available at my local library.

When I read that first volume, now renamed Wild Cards I, a major revelation hit me. I could combine my love for superheroes and prose into something wholly original. My terrible artistic attempts pretty much ended when I finished that first book and reveled in the adventures of Jetboy, Tachyon, The Great & Powerful Turtle, Golden Boy, The Sleeper, Fortunato and more. They weren’t like the characters in comics. They were far more adult, far more violent and far more real.

The books decision to never hide sex and violence from its pages is a major influence on Walking Shadows. If I wanted to tell the real lives of these young people, I knew I needed to never shy away from their real lives. With that in mind, I set out to make this a series aimed at younger readers with a mature bent while still having some of the high drama of superhero stories.

At the same time, Wild Cards I also did much to encourage the history of the Quadrant Universe. The book stretched across four decades of the twentieth century, interwoven through a subtly altered history. It was a concept I embraced when designing the thousands of years worth of history that make up the backstory of my world, much of which still waits to be revealed.

But if you have never read Wild Cards, go give the first book a chance. The new edition first book even has some new tales by modern authors in it for long time readers. I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you gave it a try.

Monday, January 15, 2018

New Super Powered coming soon!

I am hard at work on the next edition of the Super Powered newsletter. My plan for 2018 is to get one out approximately every other week, which means I'm already behind one! But I want to make a focused point for anyone interested in my contact to be able to easily find updates about me, my work, the stuff I like and all the other whatnots in my life.

I've been spending a bit trying to find a solid header for the newsletter. Right now, the image above is the current flagship image, but that might change over the next few weeks.

I suspect the newsletter will replace some of my more personal posts on this blog as I focus it more directly on my creative work. That doesn't mean I won't talk about things I love or my influences here, but I would like each of my venues to take a focus over the next year. Super Powered will be part of that, as will this blog, The Wrestling Deep End and my Medium page.

Just enter your email below for new biweekly content!

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Great Art: Crying Freeman by Ryoichi Ikegami

I've been reading a lot of Ikegami comics of late, so this image from Crying Freeman of love interest Emu Hino drew me in when I found it on Pinterest a few weeks back. I'll probably talk more about Ikegami sometime in the near future, but for now, enjoy the art!

As always, you can check out a lot more Great Art over on the Tumblr. And after you're done admiring some great art here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff on the site this week!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Flying fists of gravity manipulation! (WIP Wednesday)

More inspiration courtesy the
amazing Rafael Gallur.
Work continues apace.

When I first built Lightweight, it was meant to be a serialized story. I would deliver a chapter every month to six weeks and then collect them into book form as I worked my way through a story arc. I produced ten stories this way which became the books Lightweight: Senior Year and Lightweight: Black Death. Each of those volumes collected five stories and together they formed the first year of Lightweight's career.

The third book Lightweight: Beyond followed the same five inter-linked story structure, but it never took on serialized form. This caused a few changes in the storytelling, but I felt it lacked the flow of the first two books. Some of that might have been the vast change in setting, but I think some of that was the loss of the serial flow.

I am currently looking at new ways to serialize Lightweight for audiences. The sixteenth chapter is now finished and picks back up with Kevin and will set the Lightweight saga off in a new direction. The seventeenth chapter is already mostly written during a tough Nanowrimo run in 2016 that saw me abandon that project for another. This left a version of chapter sixteen that will never see print as I realized I needed to take a fresh approach to the book going in.

My plan at the moment is for the new collected volume to be at least six chapters long, but I often let Lightweight flow at its own pace. Whatever the case, the collected edition likely won't see the light of day until sometime early in 2019. Don't worry though. Once I've determined a strong way (or ways) to serialize it, I will start advertising several months in advance of that launch. That being said, I want to make sure to have at least close to the entirety of this volume done before I consider moving on.

My urban fantasy project has slowed a bit as I try to work out a snag in the plot made by character development changes. This one has absolutely no set timetable, so I will continue to work on it slowly as it turns to a backup project against the primary one.

With each chapter of Lightweight working as a standalone or a part of a whole, my plan is to stagger my work on it with work on other projects. One is the planned continuance (and eventual collection) of Quadrant.

The other I showed a piece of inspiration for a few weeks back. It is a new series of old school pulp tales featuring a solo hero and his merry band of misfit sidekicks. While that sounds a bit like Doc Savage, Shadow or The Avenger, I promise this masked men will be entirely different. For now, I will only give a name.

Rey Diablo.

More in the near future, but for now, happy reading and happy writing!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Looking back at 2017: 10 best graphic novels

Much like my list for the five best novels, the ten best graphic novels list covers any graphic novels I've read in 2017, whether they were published this year or not.

Scott McDaniel rocked Daredevil during his
great run with D.G. Chichester.
  1. Howling Commandos of SHIELD

    A great monsters meets adventure yarn quickly derailed by Marvel's obsession with publishing twenty too many titles.

  2. Karnak: The Flaw in All Things

    Warren Ellis' entry into the Inhumans line of comics was easily the best, though a change in artists at the beginning derailed it from the beginning and made this the first and only collection.

  3. The Nameless City

    Faith Erin Hicks' all ages fantasy tale was incredibly well put together and left me excited for more.

  4. Dark Knight: The Master Race

    Brian Azzarello teamed with Frank Miller for an epic sequel to The Dark Knight. Probably not everyone's cup of tea, but as a personal fan of this future DC, it was an epic continuance as Batman took on a team of Kryptonian psychopaths.

  5. Throwaways

    I loved Caitlin Kittredge's excellent Coffin Hill. Her Image Comics follow up with a story mixing superheroes with super spies. It's one of my favorite books to come out of nowhere in a long time.

  6. Secret Empire

    Though it in no way was about a secret empire, the limited series offered an interesting new tale of the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately, the lead up to it was such a disaster, I doubt this final book will ever get much credit as Marvel fights to keep from faltering in 2018.

  7. Red Wolf: Man Out of Time

    The only collection of the post-Secret War series was a lot of fun and seemed to be the start of a truly fascinating new corner of the Marvel Universe. But like Howling Commandoes, it had no chance to get off the ground at all.

  8. Daredevil: Fall From Grace

    The classic D.G. Chichester and Scott McDaniel swan song to Daredevil was a great series that could have set up an intriguing new future for the character. Instead, it was quickly thrown away for a return to a lighter funner look at Daredevil.

  9. Bandette: Stealers Keepers

    The second volume of the Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin series is every bit as good as the first. This book needs more issues desperately. I am hard pressed to find a comic as fun as it.

  10. Deathstroke: The Professional and The Gospel of Slade

    The first twelve issues of Christopher J. Priest's run on the character have defined Deathstroke for a new generation. I strongly respect DC for making Deathstroke an important character in the DCU again. With his future in the DC movie universe, here's hoping this series continues for several more years.
Deathstroke Rebirth & Deathstroke: The Professional cover art by ACO.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Great art: X-Men by Tom Fowler

I opened the week with a New Years picture from 1975, so it seems apt to end the week with some great art by Tom Fowler featuring the mid-80s incarnation of the X-Men, lead by my always personal favorite, punk rock Storm.

As always, you can check out a lot more Great Art over on the Tumblr. And while you are admiring some great art here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff on the site this week!

Looking back at 2017: Top 5 articles on Super Powered Fiction

I did not publish as much this year as I have in the past. Things came up that derailed just about everything, from battles with intestinal issues (three times) to depression and money issues. It's been a rough go and that meant sometimes this blog suffered. But here are the five high points of my 2017 blog publishing schedule, even if they came as sometimes low points for my life.

I rarely need a ton of excuses to post a picture of beautiful women, but I'll use this one 
to give another look at the lovely (and inspiring) Ginary Suicide. Imag:
  • Where I've been, or when life leaves you with no lemonade

    This is the post where I covered some my issues in the first half of the year. I won't pretend they're all fixed, but a job change and (relatively) better health have helped a lot.

  • A few thoughts on Wonder Woman

    I didn't catch the Gal Gadot vehicle until it hit VOD, but I threw out a few of my thoughts on why it succeeds while other DC releases have not.

  • Succubi and sucky jobs

    I still haven't quite wrapped my urban fantasy project, but this article talks about a few of my plans there as well as those aforementioned positive job changes.

  • Star Wars, divisive pop culture and entitlement

    Because it needs to be said again and again, I wrote this article on why it is okay to not like the new Star Wars while still letting everyone else love it and it continue in the direction Lucasfilm has chosen.

  • On Cornell

    I wrote this one after Chris Cornell took his own life. I have to be honest that while I was never at that point, I was certainly spiraling towards it. His suicide was a sobering moment for yours truly and it still leaves me with a spirit to fight. Godspeed, Chris. 

We will end the week of looking back (with one last article on 2017 in the wings for next week) with Chris Cornell's last major hit, one whose Old West music video has been removed from online. Featuring Cornell escaping a hanging, it seems it was deemed too dark in the wake of his death. But "Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart" is an amazing song from an immense talent that needs to be heard.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Looking back at 2017: The five top reads

2017 was a strange year for me on the reading front. I started and threw out more books because I wasn't interested in finishing than ever before. On top of that, I focused a lot more attention on health matters and a lot less on reading books, so I just don't have the pool I might normally have for this list. But here are the titles I read in calendar year 2017 that I feel are worth a look by my able eyed readers.

Remember this list isn't necessarily of 2017 released books, just of book's I've read in 2017.

  1. Indigo by Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden, Kelley Armstrong, Seanan McGuire, Tim Lebbon, Mark Morris, Jonathan Maberry, James A. Moore, Cherie Priest and Kat Richardson.

    I'm still not sure who did what on the ten writers that contributed to the first shared character novel. But the weird hodgepodge of superhero and urban fantasy that resulted was certainly a unique novel. While not as good as the Wild Cards series overall, I'm curious to see where a follow up might go for this one.

  2. Storm Front by Jim Butcher. 

    I might be a bit late to the Harry Dresden bandwagon, but I greatly enjoyed his first adventure, a fun mash-up of magic, urban fantasy and old school noir.

  3. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.

    Not Gaiman's best work but I suspect that is due to the non-continuous narrative required of the project. He certainly did weave a unique look at the full cycle of the Norse gods, their worlds and their enemies. With a limited number of resources for Norse mythology not built around Marvel Comics or scholarly study of ancient manuscripts, it certainly will do a lot to expand the following for a mythology often dwarfed by Greek, Roman and Egyptian traditions.

  4. Black Pulp, edited by Tommy Hancock, Gary Phillips and Morgan Minor. 

    I'm still not the biggest fan of the title of Pro Se's anthology, but I cannot argue with the results. This one is packed with great and compelling stories from the likes of editors Phillips and Hancock, Ron Fortier, Joe Lansdale, Charles Saunders, Mel Odom, Derrick Ferguson and more. Outside one dreg of a story, this was a great and varied anthology worth a look by any fan of adventure, pulp and sci fi / fantasy.

  5. Blackthorn: Thunder on Mars, created and edited by Van Allen Plexico.

    It was a good year for anthologies. While Black Pulp succeeded at creating a wide range of stories, Blackthorn created a shared world and leads and ran wild with them. Creator Plexico's opening story may be the weakest of the bunch, with stories from Mark Bousquet, I. A. Watson, Bobby Nash and more really bringing the concept to life. Blackthorn exudes fun and excitement on nearly every page. Combining old school science fantasy with 80s cartoons tropes taken seriously made me jump for joy with this one.
I suspect 2018 will be a much more reading friendly year than last, but any of these books would be a great start to your own year. What was your favorite read of 2017?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Looking back at 2017: the top 10 songs

This year I've strangely become much more of a radiophile than ever before. I split a lot of time between pop and rock radio and I'm pretty show it shows with perhaps my least expansive list of ten songs ever. But with lots of solid pop music on the radio, it certainly wasn't hard to make this list.


  • "Heavydirtysoul" - Twenty One Pilots

  • "Everybody Knows" - Sigrid

  1. "Homemade Dynamite" - Lorde

  2. "Honey" - Kehlani

  3. "Love Galore" - SZA featuring Travis Scott

  4. "Heavy" - Linkin Park featuring Kiiara

  5. "Feel It Still" - Portugal. The Man

  6. "RX (Medicate)" - Theory of a Deadman

  7. "Kiwi" - Harry Styles

  8. "Wild Thoughts" - DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller

  9. "Believer" - Imagine Dragons

  10. "...Ready For It" - Taylor Swift

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Looking back at 2017: the five monthly comic series I'm still reading

2017 came with a lot of changes for myself and my family. I have seriously pushed back on my expenditures this year after years of being a hundred dollar plus a month comic reader. I am picking up a lot less material these days in a monthly format and pretty much everything I do grab is through the online juggernaut Comixology.

Here's the five comics I still get in single issue format as the year dawns!

  1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe

    Image credit: IDW/Comixology/Sophie Campbell.
    IDW is a strange publisher that for reasons completely foreign to me charges more for their trade paperback collections than single issues. While I have not found this secondary Turtles universe series nearly as strong as the main title over the years, it's still a very solid read. Having a place to focus on supporting cast members and other mutants is always a good thing for a universe as wide and interesting as the Turtles seem to foster.

  2. Uber: Invasion

    Kieron Gillen remains a favorite writer of mine. While The Wicked + The Divine has moved into trade-waiting for yours truly, his epic Avatar series is still a must buy. While Avatar's weird publishing strategy often means I buy it in chunks rather than as single issues, the continuance of the alternate universe vision of a World War II extended by super powered beings is easily one of the most interesting things on the market today. Expertly researched and impeccably crafted by Gillen and artist Daniel Gete, this is one I have to read to its conclusion.

  3. Rockstars

    Image credit: Image Comics/Comixology/
    Megan Hutchinson.
    Joe Harris is a writer I've enjoyed since the late 90s days of Slingers, but his new Image title may be his best work yet. It brings out a world of rock and magic where aging musicians may very well have sold their souls to the devil. Built on the framework of every weird urban legend from music history, Harris has crafted a fascinating new mythology in just a few issues. I am not sure how long this one is planned to last, but it looks like a fun ride ahead.

  4. Gold Digger

    Fred Perry may be one of the most creative and talented men in any field, but barely anyone knows his name. Gold Digger is a one man masterpiece stretching over 200 issues and multiple universes. While this book is often completely insane, it's a marvel to behold month in and month out.

  5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    Image credit: IDW/Comixology/Cory T. Smith. 
    Still written by Tom Waltz and co-plotter Kevin Eastman, the Ninja Turtles' ongoing at IDW has consistently made it into my top comics list for years. With a rotating cast of artists lead by Mateus Santolouco, the book is a nonstop tour in pure awesomeness. While a few of the digressions this year weren't as strong as last year's run, I cannot think of another book as consistently strong month after month as this one. Even as a lifelong Turtle-maniac, Waltz has honed the multiple mythologies of the character into a new ultimate universe for the ages. Check this one out if you haven't already.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year! (Though I might be a few years off...)

Tomorrow, I kick off the best of 2017 lists. But for now, whether you're celebrating New Years 1975 or New Years 2018, have a happy one!