Not to start this on too much of a downer, but it’s no
secret that on a personal level, 2014 sucked. I don’t want to even think about
how many friends and loved ones we lost, and far too many people we know went
through the same thing. Add in Livia’s broken arm and some lingering health
issues affecting several people in the family, and you’ve got a pretty lousy
I didn’t get everything accomplished that I wanted to in 2013, but I’m proud that I was able to launch both Perils On Planet X and Gravedigger online in February, and haven’t missed a weekly update on either comic.
A big shout-out is due to my amazing collaborators on those projects: Rick Burchett, Gene Gonzales and Ian Sokoliwski, who helped make sure we stayed on schedule. Both comics serials will continue in 2014.
I also began re-presenting Femme Noir stories online this past Summer, in anticipation of a new graphic novel that Joe Staton and I (with inker Rick Burchett & colorist Matt Webb) will be putting together in 2014. I’d hoped to have this mostly written by now, but it’s taking me a bit longer than I expected. Hopefully, I’ll have script pages to Joe shortly after New Year’s.
I’m also moving ahead on my graphic novel “secret project” with artist Peter Grau, which I also hope to get put together in 2014.
Sincere gratitude to all of you who have supported my comics efforts this year, especially those who spread the word and shared links. I am genuinely grateful.
As to 2014, I intend to keep plugging away on my comics, maintaining a stellar updating schedule, and working toward eventual print editions of my comics properties.
Outside of my comics efforts, the second half of 2013 saw a decline (due to blogger burn-out) in my sci-fi blogging (Space: 1970) and my writing of DVD and Blu-ray reviews (DVD Late Show). I plan to return to both with a renewed enthusiasm and energy in 2014, as long as I believe that people are getting something out of my efforts.
That all said, I want to wish all of you a very fine 2014. May we all see our goals realized, seize our victories wherever we can, and be relatively untouched by tragedy and misfortune.
was Sally Walton (left, on Easter, 1956 at 7613 Gilbert St. Philadelphia).
When I was five, a girl finally moved onto our street in Philadelphia. She had brown hair and gray eyes and was beautiful. She liked all the things I liked. People used to call us the Bobbsey Twins.
I bossed her around mercilessly. (She was tolerant of bossy friends)
Her mother served us pretzels and pepsi, which I found amazing. We made tents that went on for miles. Her mother had trunks full of costumes we liked to dress up in. We did all the things girly girls did in the fifties. She was good at the hula hoop and skating. I was good at hopscotch and jacks. We each had a Ginny doll. Hers was pristine. Mine was so messy it had to be replaced. We had sleepovers. We were brownies together. She was a Methodist. I was a Lutheran.
In sixth grade, we finally landed in the same classroom. Oddly, this was the beginning of the end because she had built up a group of classroom friends and so had I. It was hard to separate home from school. Doris got her attention at recess. Ruth had mine.
When we went off to junior high school, I found more new friends and so did she. I should have kept in touch with Sally Walton. I wonder where she is now. Happy and healty I hope.
Who was your first friend?
Such glamor inside our teensy row house. We are six.
The boy is my brother, Jeff. We are at the zoo and I remember this day.
We just spent three days in Mississippi visitng Megan, who is there for a year as the John Grisham writer-in-residence. She is ensconced in a terrific apartment right on the square in Oxford. She is thrilled at the caliber of students in their MFA program and happy to be amongst writers like Ace Atkins, Tom Franklin, Chris Offut, Jack Pendarvis and others.
Mississippi is like another country to me. Oh yes, Oxford is somewhat like most flagstaff univeristy campuses in some respects, but where else on a lovely Sunday morning would you hear a young man say to his dog,
“Roscoe, what do you feel like doing this afternoon? Should we get ourself some ducks.”
It took me a minute to suss out he was talking about hunting and not pet or grocery shopping.
Highlights of the trip: having drinks with Ace Atkins and Jack Pendarvis at a terrific bar. Jack is a writer on the show ADVENTURE TIME and wonderfully funny. I have enjoyed his blog for years and it was a treat to meet him and talk about some of his favorite subjects.
Driving to the famous Taylor Grocery for dinner and being told the wait would be in the neighborhood of three hours. I have never seen tailgating at a restaurant before this.
Drving to Greenwood (and look at that sky) and having lunch at the Crystal Grill. Fried oysters and fried green tomatoes with coconut cream pie for dessert. Seeing a bit of the Delta and the cotton crop.
A football game with LSU filled the town for three days. Marching down to the Grove on game night to see the thousands of tents set up for the tailgating there. The co-eds dress better than any girls in the north. Flirty skirts, I think they call them. And Ole Miss won unexpectedly.
Visiting Rowan Oak, Faulkner’s home. Is there a more famous writer’s house in the country? It manages to be modest and grand at the same time–much like the writer.
Going to Big Bad Breakfast with Jack Pendarvis and his wife, Dr. Theresa Starkey, who’s as sweet and interesting as her husband. How I wish I could take her course which compares seventies films to fifties films.
Getting to see Phil and Megan watch two Tiger games together. I often see Phil and Josh share games but rarely Megan and Phil.
This is my second MS trip. The first time we drove down the Trace to Natchez. The people are so polite, helpful, kind. And yet. Mississippi Goddamn.
• Foot pain back, and it appears to be my old friend, gout. Laid up again. Yay.
• Numbers on yesterday’s Gravedigger comic update were unusually low. Disappointing – and, given my state of mind today, discouraging. Need to find new (free) ways to drum up traffic. Facebook & Twitter and this blog aren’t doing the job.
• Was hoping to get back to regular/semi-regular posting at DVD Late Show and Space: 1970 this month – depends on whether I can get the comics work on my plate and design gig that’s supposed to show up soon out of the way.
It doesn’t help that new Maine state tax laws going into effect today have shut down the only income I earned from those blogs, via the Amazon affiliate program. It wasn’t much, but it was an additional incentive to keep putting in the work those sites require.
• News is just too depressing today. Will try to avoid it.
• Been watching a lot more current TV than usual lately. For the record, I thought the last four episodes of Breaking Bad were terrific, I liked the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot and think a lot of people were way too critical of it, and thought the pilot of Sleepy Hollow was goofy fun. Plan to follow S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hollow for a few weeks, at least.
• As far as October movies, I’m really looking forward to Machete Kills! despite the presence of Mel Gibson. Interested in Gravity, as well, despite presence of Sandra Bullock.
• I could really use a bowl of Count Chocula… hope I can make it to Target soon to stock up.
It’s no secret that as a writer I’ve had a few rough years, and haven’t been nearly as prolific/productive as I’d like. There are a lot of reasons for that – many (if not most) of them of my own making. As per my New Year’s resolution, 2013 has been all about the Atomic Pulp brand – i.e. finishing up the creator-owned comics projects that had been languishing (Gravedigger & Perils On Planet X), reviving older properties (Femme Noir), and getting started on some new projects that have percolating in my brain for a long, long time (Skorpion, “The Issue #200 Project,” Star Busters, Young Felons In Love).
With half the year already gone, I haven’t made quite as much progress as I’d hoped, but with the Gravedigger and Perils On Planet X comics running weekly online, I’ve at least made real headway on those particular projects and have raised my profile a tiny bit. I’m currently working on a new Femme Noir graphic novel, which I’ll be sending to artist Joe Staton around the end of the month (I hope!) and have started plotting a new Gravedigger caper that both Rick Burchett and I are quite psyched about.
I also am working on plans to re-present the already-existing Femme Noir comic book material, and should have some news on that front shortly.
If I can keep my shit together, I should be able to get to work on new stuff by mid-Autumn (the above-mentioned “Issue #200 Project,” Star Busters and Young Felons In Love), and maybe, in 2014, I can start looking for freelance comics work again (assuming anyone would be interested in hiring me).
In many ways, I’m my own worst enemy, allowing myself to get discouraged too easily, and letting that discouragement paralyze me for ridiculously long periods of time. I’m working hard to get past that, though. I just turned 48 years old this week, and there are so many stories I still want to tell….
We got to spend a few days with Kevin this week. He is growing up so fast now. We took him to the historical museum, which we enjoyed more than him. I think if they had a display on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he would have been very happy. Instead it was subjects more interesting to adults.
I have no digital pictures of my grandparents so this will have to suffice. I remember saying this week that I used to watch the Harlem Globetrotters with my grandfather. I only had one set of grandparents and he died when I was twelve.
If I have one childhood memory of a joint activity with my grandmother (who lived until I was in my mid-forties) it was of her making doll clothes for my Ginny dolls. She made them by hand and they were gorgeous. I sat at her feet and watch the dresses take shape. She even managed a cowgirl outfit when I wanted her to ride horses.
What memory do you have of something you did with a grandparent (if you were lucky enough to spend time with the,)
PS: NEAW is NEW for the new way the TMNT are now drawn.
I have only one (compound) resolution for 2013: get my shit together and finish everything.
For the last few years, I’ve stalled out on pretty much every creative project I’ve started, and as I’m not currently working a day job, that means I’ve accomplished virtually nothing in a very long time. There are a lot of reasons for my lack of productivity – some of which I’m not even sure I understand – but there comes a point when you just have to get shit done. I’ve reached that point.
I am determined to finish my part (the writing, primarily) of every comics project that I’ve promised to do over the last few years. This consists of the Perils On Planet X miniseries/graphic novel with Gene Gonzales, the Gravedigger: Hot Women, Cold Cash graphic novel with Rick Burchett, a Captain Midnight one-shot with Richard Clark, and a new Femme Noir graphic novel with Joe Staton. I can’t control their schedules in drawing those projects, but I can at least get my part done and stand ready to letter and handle the production on the books when they complete the art.
The hardest part of all this is believing that I can accomplish my goal; which is ironic because all of those talented artists listed above seem to believe in me. Even after years of me missing promised deadline after promised deadline, they have all – to a man – expressed their willingness to still draw these books.
And then there’s the fans – yes, I have fans, even though that concept is still utterly incomprehensible to me – who keep asking when the next Femme Noir is coming out or sending me notes on Facebook to tell me how much they’re looking forward to Perils On Planet X or Gravedigger. I’m tired of disappointing those folks.
But most of all, there’s Brandi, who always believes in me despite how well she knows me. I can’t bear to let her down.
So… here’s 2013. One way or another, I’m making it my bitch, because I don’t just want to finish the projects I’ve already started; I want to move on to new ones. Skorpion with Rick. A retro super-hero graphic novel that I want to co-write with my pal Jim Chambers. A couple of novels that have been percolating in my brainpan for a while now.
Anyone else remember when TNT used to have Man from U.N.C.L.E. marathons on New Year’s Eve?
Here’s wishing the half-dozen or so readers of this blog a very Happy New Year. For myself, I’m working to make 2013 the year that I return to comics in a big way, with the long-delayed publication of Perils On Planet X, a new Femme Noir graphic novel, and more. Have a great time tonight, and celebrate safely – perhaps you can take a cue from Napoleon Solo, and spend the evening at home with a few close friends…
The FedEx guy just dropped an Amazon box in the door. Since I didn’t have any orders pending, I was baffled. Turns out it was a box full of graphic novel goodies – a belated holiday gift from my bestest buddy, author (and occasional writing partner) James Chambers!
Along with some recent Daredevil and Punisher trade paperbacks by creators he knows I like, he included this handsome hardcover collection of vintage Batman comics drawn by the late, great Don Newton. Jim knows how much I admire Newton’s work, and guessed that I’d enjoy the book, which collects most of Newton’s Bat-art from the late 70s. Just a quick skim through its pages more than confirms my pal’s assumption – it’s gorgeous stuff.
Not having been a regular comics shop customer for the last ten years or so, the Daredevil and Punisher trades are all new stuff to me, but I do like the writers involved (Mark Waid and Greg Rucka, respectively), so I look forward to reading those, too.
I am so grateful that I have a friend like Jim – and not just ’cause he gives me stuff. (Though it helps!)