Saturday, 7 December 2013

2013 Year in Review (Where We’ve Been) / 2014 Preview (Where We’re Going)

This last year saw the debut of the first comic book title from September17 Productions, with LEGACY #1 being released July 3. LEGACY #2 followed in November to round off the release for 2013. Both books were well received by readers, and by year’s end both books were available online from DriveThruComics digitally and IndyPlanet and direct from S17 for print distribution. 

Budget-wise the first issue of LEGACY broke even, in large part due to a very popular limited Collector’s Edition that came with a framed 11x17” print and an expanded version of the book.

2014 will see 4 books being released; LEGACY #3, 4 and 5, as well as a second S17 title, New Guard #1. New Guard is set in the same comic book universe as LEGACY but readers will be able to read either title without having to pick up both- though those that choose to do so will see that the titles do touch on each other and enhance the story-lines of both books.

As we speak Kenan Halilovic is hard at work on LEGACY #5, Kenan makes his S17 debut though in New Guard #1, before jumping aboard S17’s flagship title, taking over the book from Andre Siregar.

Andre is finishing up LEGACY #4 and will be moving on to a new book- The Third Age, which will be a very big book for the S17verse.

Next year will be a busy year production-wise as Kenan is set to do LEGACY #6, New Guard #2 and #3. Andre will be doing the aforementioned Third Age book, one that will expand the S17verse as its first “summer blockbuster movie” book. 

The Third Age will be the largest single issue to date, clocking in at 50 pages of action, adventure and discovery. It will also be the first Kickstarter that S17 will be doing, in an effort to help fund such a large undertaking, we will be seeking the assistance of crowd-funding in exchange for a variety of cool swag and goodies.

The initial goal of the Kickstarter will be to raise the money for Andre’s linework with stretch goals covering Jessica Jimerson’s excellent color work and lettering, expanding the page count from 50 to 64 pages, and maybe one or two other things. Rewards will range from autographed scripts to digital sketches by S17 artists, limited editions of The Third Age, and t-shirts, among a TON of other things. 

Just as important as raising money for this book, is raising awareness of not only The Third Age but ALL of the comics from September17 Productions.

As part of that, 2014 will see books getting to some stores so that folks can pick up the print copies a little easier. Anyone who knows of a local shop that would be willing to carry copies, by all means please let me know so we can work something out. There may be a reward in it for YOU as well, if they do.  ;)  As well, shops that carry the books will be sure to receive some sort of thanks for their doing so- most likely signed copies and exclusive prints.
 We'll be looking at expanding digitally through Graphicly and Comixology as well in 2014- direct sales from the S17 website will also be something else we'll be looking at- mainly for distribution around outside of the US- Canada, etc., as long as we can keep shipping costs down to a reasonable amount for everyone. There's nothing quite like having the actual printed book in your hands.  :)

In addition to the books previously mentioned, I’ll be working with another artist on developing yet another title, one that will see release most likely in the third quarter of 2015. It’s a book that I’m quite looking forward to doing and I know a few people are going to be quite excited about when they find out about it. I’d love to tell you more about it but hey, we have to have something to talk about for NEXT year’s Year in Review and Preview!  

In The Beginning... Or, You Know, Not.

The other day I read an article on the Robot 6 website which had an interview with comic book writer Jonathan Hickman (Avengers, Fantastic Four and The Manhattan Projects, among many other books) who explained that the Avengers.NOW book he wrote is a "terrible jumping-on point" for readers new to the title. 

Nowadays that sort of statement is nearly scandalous- with all the money being poured into movies and tv show adaptations of comic books, more and more pressure is being put on comic book writers to make their books more "accessible" to new readers with every issue. 

So with Mr. Hickman saying that his most recent issue ISN'T a good place for new readers to start, he no doubt has thrown a few people in the industry for a loop with what might be thought by some as a bold and very much against the current way of thinking.  

He goes on to say that "... I’m not even sure I buy into the validity of the argument that every issue should be able to be read as if it was somebody’s first issue."  

I couldn't agree more. 

Comic books are a serial publication, with steady publication by the Big Two (DC and Marvel) of their main characters running for over 50 years now. Now it's true that both DC and Marvel (and Valiant if you wish to include them, which I do) have had their share of retcons an reboots that have started things all over again to bring "fresh" and "bold new" takes on old characters, but for the most part, the characters are very much the same as they were when they first appeared. So, if that's the case, why do we need to make sure everyone knows EVERYTHING right up front EVERY issue? 

Let me take this back a step. Here you are, reading this blog entry, right? You may or may not have read previous ones I've written, but does that mean that you HAVE to in order to understand what this one is about? When you first meet someone, you shake their hand and suddenly know everything about them from the moment of their birth? Of course not. Odds are you don't really need to know that I once broke my toe jumping over a couch to know me as a person- though that is one of the stories that make up who I am and have become over time.

Part of the fun of meeting people, whether face to face in real life or reading about fictitious characters, is getting to know them over time, slowly working your way through a history that you previously were unaware of; like an archaeologist going through an ancient Egyptian tomb, discovering previously unseen bits of the past. There's simply NO FUN in having things HANDED to you. A little work makes it that much more rewarding. 

And as a reader these days there are SO MANY resources that people can use to learn about characters and stories. Much more so than when I first started reading comics 25+ years ago. Back then I devoured every issue of Marvel's Handbook to the Marvel Universe and DC's Who's Who; both books featuring character profiles detailing their abilities, vital statistics (did you know Supeman is 6'3" and Batman weighs 210lbs? I did!) and highlights from their histories. Today we have updated (somewhat anyhow) versions of those, DK Books have put out encyclopedias featuring those characters, and more than that, we have this wonderful invention called the Internet that seemingly hold the answers to all of life's questions. Are you telling me that between fansites, official publisher websites, Google and Wikipedia that you can't find out what issue Spider-Man first fought Vulture in and who Ben Reilly is? LIAR. 

Why don't we apply this to tv and movies? When you went and saw Chris Pine go play Captain Kirk in the latest movie, did you go rewatch all the 1960s William Shatner episodes because otherwise you were worried that otherwise you wouldn't know who Kahn was? Pretty doubtful. So why are, or should, comics be different? 

Are you worried that the nerd/geek culture will shun you for trying to understand the awesomeness of comic books and you'll never be accepted in the local comic shop if you come in saying you enjoyed The Walking Dead tv show and would really like to read something else by Robert Kirkman? Possible but highly unlikely. Every sub-culture has their snobs, I won't argue that, but it's MUCH more likely that people will be thrusting copies of Invincible and Battle Pope in your hands and asking who you like more, Rick or Michonne, before they criticise you. Comic book fans LOVE talking comics with ANYONE who shares an interest in them. Seriously, just start a conversation with one and you'll quickly find out WAAAAAY more about Professor X's love life than you ever thought you'd even WANT to know. 

I have a friend, Mike, who once said to me that he HAD to start from the beginning or he felt like he was missing something. I sort of get that- me, I don't mind walking in mid-story, but for people like Mike, there are a LOT of options for going right to the start. Digital comics are cheap, easy to locate on the Internet (Comixology, DriveThruComics, many others) and have access to VAST libraries of back-issues, many companies re-print popular runs in collected editions (known as trade paperbacks) and you can always go the old-school approach and search out back-issues at the local comic shop and conventions. 

So really it comes down to not being lazy- make the little bit of effort to dig, to ask a friend, to discover the greatness of these stories. Or just be brave and dive right in- either way you're in for a heckuva ride. Comic books ARE the greatest form of art after all- nothing else combines beautiful drawings and colors with excellent prose- the written word and incredible pictures; what more could one ask for?  So quit reading this and go read a comic book- you won't regret it.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

2013 C4 Comic Con Experience

Two weekends ago I attended Winnipeg’s C4 Comic Con with my lovely girlfriend, and fellow comic enthusiast, Cassandra. We’ve gone together every year since we’ve been together, I’ve gone almost every year since I was ten, and each year has been a new, and always enjoyable experience.

Next year will be a departure from my regular attendance as I plan (I like this word because, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, things don’t always work out exactly how you hope) on having my own table in Artist’s Alley with copies of LEGACY and New Guard books for sale, as well as some prints and maybe some t-shirts and other stuff. It’s still a work in progress but I feel pretty confident in it working out quite well. Hope to see you all there.


So this year was special for a number of reasons beyond it being (in a way hopefully) my last Con as a regular attendee. This year we got a hotel room right next door to the Con (a GREAT move, though a tad pricey even with the break in pricing for the Con), I commissioned a piece of original art featuring Paragon from LEGACY, there were a few dozen people I knew that were going (beyond the small handful in previous years) and I attended a self-publishing panel put on by A.P Fuchs; not only the creator of Winnipeg’s very own superhero, Axiom-Man, but also one of the reasons I ended up doing a comic book in the first place.

A.P Fuchs, first name Adam, is someone who’s work I first came across back in 2006 when the first Axiom-Man novel came out. I was in Chapters, the St. Vital location, and spotted his book on the shelf under local interest. The first thing that caught my eye was the image of Axiom-Man on the cover; classic superhero pose on top of a building, his cape flapping in the wind and the second thing that really drew me in was that it was under the Local section. I was too curious not to pick it up.

Reading over the back cover and flipping through the first few pages, I was excited to see that it was indeed written by someone from Winnipeg (some stores seem to believe that “local” is open to interpretation and anyone from the same country applies) and that, even better, so was Axiom-Man. I quickly read a couple pages, thought it was pretty good stuff and headed over to the counter to purchase it.

Never in a million years would I ever expect to meet not only the author of the books, but also the cover artist of them, Justin Shauf. And unlike the stereotype that you hear about; stand-offish creators who can barely be bothered to acknowledge their fans, both of these guys were incredibly friendly and nice; happy to answer any questions and engage in conversation.

That’s actually something that I’d like to mention: almost every single creator that was there; whether artist, writer t-shirt seller, or pro wrestler, was very friendly and open- and considering how long of a day they put in, it’s even more remarkable. You might think it’s easy sitting there all day selling your stuff, but just put yourself in their shoes for a moment- having to smile, answer the same questions over and over, rarely taking a break… As much fun as I’ll have next year having my own table, I know it will be just as much work. Excited and a little anxious about it.

Back to Adam Fuchs for a moment. His Axiom-Man series has grown since 2006 (and I’m very glad to hear he plans on doing even more with it in the near future) and among the books that I always look forward to buying. The hero, whose real name is Gabriel Garrison, is much more human than your standard superhero; more Spider-Man than Superman, and Fuchs manages to tell a big story while never losing sight of the human aspect of the story and hero.
Adam himself is a hero of sorts, having become quite successful in the field of self-publishing through a combination of hard work, willpower, talent, and, having met him, I can safely say, a HUGE passion for self-publishing.

The panel he put on for self-publishing, as well as the book he wrote regarding the subject, are EXTREMELY informative and useful for anyone considering going at it themselves. I’ve been working on my own comics now for nearly two years and was amazed at how much stuff I learned from it. I cannot recommend it enough. Even if you don’t plan on self-publishing, it gives you a lot of insight into how the publishing game works- a friend of mine, Christine, attended it with me and as a published author herself, she found much of it to be eye-opening as well.

Not only is Mr. Fuchs what I would consider an expert on self-publishing, he’s also a great guy to talk to, in the little time I spoke to him, I quite enjoyed it- he’s obviously a very thoughtful person- he genuinely listens and engages people in conversation; even about things other than writing, and I found him to be in many ways the sort of independent businessman that I would like to be. He was nearly zealous in making sure that I got all that was coming to me; both through the book deal that he had going on at his table and during the course of his panel. You can tell he cares about the quality of his work and that the people who are paying for it get what they’re paying for. Both are very admirable qualities, to me.

I was very excited that he had asked me to bring copies of LEGACY and New Guard with me and we ended up trading for one of his novels. After he had a chance to read them later on, he sent me a tweet to let me know that he “really enjoyed all three” books- a very cool thing for me considering how long I’ve enjoyed his work and looked up to his example as a self-published local writer.

As I mentioned, I had commissioned an artist to do some art, and it was none other than the Axiom-Man cover artist, Justin Shauf. I was excited to meet Justin when I went- I’ve always enjoyed the Axiom-Man covers and when I flipped through his portfolio, I saw a lot of other work that I liked of his. But, in my extremely biased opinion, the best HAS to be his work on the Paragon piece that he did for me. It’s the first piece of original art I have featuring one of my own characters, all of my artists have worked digitally so far (necessary considering most of us live in different countries) and I could not have asked for a better piece to start off.

DC Comics really should look into throwing a Hawkman book Justin’s way; his take on the character is excellent. He did a JSA piece that was awesome and his Hawkman and Fate were my favorites on it. Better yet, DC, throw him a Dr. Fate book too.

Talking to Justin was a lot of fun too- another really nice guy who is obviously a fan of comics and the superhero genre but also an artist who has some good thoughts on the industry and art in general. I’ll be getting some more work done by him down the road and look forward to talking to him again.

As always there was the cool parade of costumes, Cass dressed up as a female Gambit this year, previously having been Wonder Woman and Rogue, and it was good to see the folks from Galaxy Comics, from whom I pick up my DC and Marvel comics every month (usually more regularly but it’s been all about making my own books lately).

But for me, the neatest thing of the Con wasn’t seeing my friends in the wrestling league doing their thing (sorry Peter, Matt and Corey) or hanging out all weekend at the Con (though it’s pretty great being able to come and go and every day see new stuff), but meeting one of, if not THE biggest, my fans.

I’ve only had books out for a few months now, and while everyone has been extremely supportive and enthusiastic about the books, I don’t think until that weekend that I had met anyhow as excited about my books until I met a young lad by the name of Kyle. Kyle is the nephew of one of my closest friends and she had bought him a Collector’s Edition of LEGACY #1 for his birthday.

By all accounts he loved it.

So when she told him that I was going to be at the Con, apparently he was so jazzed about it that he had trouble sleeping the night before. Flattering, I’ll admit. I was quite glad to meet him, and gave him my “proof” copy of New Guard which I had signed, shook his hand and happily answered the few questions that he had. He had to ask his aunt’s boyfriend to ask me to sign his copy of LEGACY #2 that she had bought for him, declaring that he was too shy to ask himself.

I recalled meeting Stan Lee at a store signing when I was roughly the same age and, not comparing myself to Stan The Man, merely the experience, it felt like in some ways I had come full circle. Very fulfilling as a fan of comics and if I managed to add another one to the club, then mission accomplished.
Happy to have you as a reader, Kyle, maybe one day I’ll be reading YOUR book.

So for me, this year, the Con was everything that makes comics great; adventure, friends, discovery and heroes. See you all there next year.   

Friday, 25 October 2013

ALWAYS Make the Time

     I remember, not that long ago, perhaps as little as two weeks ago, turning to my girlfriend and saying something along the lines of, "If there's one thing I hate is people that succeed in their endeavours and forget about the people that helped get them there."  I mean stuff happens but you should always take the time to acknowledge and throw support back, or at the VERY least, thanks, to the wonderful folks who gave you that little push when you needed it. 

     Never, ever, forget or overlook what they've done for you.

     Well... I did. 

     I'd like to add some sort of qualifier there, such as "sort of" or "a little bit", but to me that's just making excuses. Something I try not to do. Explanations are ok, but if you can come up with an excuse, then you should have come up with results. 

     So, I guess I should explain exactly what I'm talking about. 

     One of the earliest people to throw a kind word of support my way (and by this I mean someone I'd never even met before) was Jean-Francois Fournier of the blog They Stand on Guard! ( He, I assume, as I've never actually ASKED (another slip), came across LEGACY through the artist I worked with, Mike Campeau, and was quick to give it shout-outs despite still being in-production and with very little in terms of released art or any other type of preview. Just a good guy doing a good deed for a fellow comic book enthusiast and countryman. It was very much appreciated.

     When LEGACY #1 did come out, July 3 of this year, Mr. Fournier was one of the very first people to throw down some hard-earned cash to get a copy. Much appreciated. Words are always wonderful but when someone backs that up with, these days, a dwindling entertainment budget (in light of cost increases in essentials), that to me speaks volumes. Not that I don't love kind words of support- believe me those have a HUGE value, but making this books do cost cash and every penny that comes back means another penny towards doing more books. 

     But I digress. 

     Sort of.

     Because, you see, Jean-Francois did not STOP at putting his money where his mouth was, to use that phrase, he also put his mouth where his money was.

     If you click on that link, you'll be redirected to his blog. Specifically an entry that reviews... You guessed it, LEGACY #1. As in MY book. The one that he was always happy to say nice things about and follow on the Facebook page and on my Twitter account, and now, most likely the website as well. (here's a link to the website, in case you, my wonderful reader, have yet to check it out

     And I didn't read it until today. 

    Don't get me wrong, I've read a bunch of his entries, not only because he's a swell guy, but because I love learning more about the much under-rated and acknowledged Canadian comic book community. More and more I discover things of the past and learn about the current, thriving, state of Canadian comic books. In large part due to his blog.

     So why didn't I read it sooner? As you can see it's dated in July- as anyone with a basic understanding of a calendar can plainly see it is now October. For anyone as math-challenged as I am, that's just over THREE MONTHS AGO. 

     Again, why hadn't I ran across it sooner? True, Mr. Fournier, to me a much under-recognized champion of many things Canadian, toils away in relative silence- you can feel the passion in which he writes about things he loves, but grandstanding or tooting his own horn is not his style. So it's no surprise that he didn't go, "Hey! Andrew! Look at this thing I wrote about your book! Thank me for it now!" or "Give me free books to sing your praises!"

     No, what he did was write an extremely nice review of the book, without me asking, or even thinking to ask (bad business move on my part- reviews help to sell books), he, in true Canadian fashion, just went ahead and did the job; without expecting anything in return. 

     I'd like to say a quick piece on the review- he nailed exactly the tone of the book that I was going for. So either he's brilliant (very possible) or Mike and I did a really good job of getting our story across in the way we wanted to do it. I'll give Mike a big part of that credit.

     Either way I greatly appreciate the kind words.    
     And that's why I wrote this entry today. Not only to apologize for not seeing it sooner, or to thank him for taking the time to purchase, read and review the book (for all of which, I'd like to say THANK YOU) but also to let it be known, not just to Mr. Fournier, but everyone who's been a part of all of this, that everything you have done and continue to do is appreciated and that I will make greater efforts to acknowledge the support you have shown me. Thank you. 

      I'm sorry it took so long for me to come across the review Jean-Francois, but thank you for it, and much like Paragon protecting Legacy, I'll do my best not to let you down.  

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Be Like Water...

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves."  -Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee was speaking of martial arts in that, one of his more famous quotes, but he might as well have been speaking about the life of a comic book writer as well.

You write the story, the artist gets the script, and then draws his or her interpretation of it. And that's what it is. It's how the artist sees what you wrote. Sometimes it's dead-on, as though they reached inside your head and slapped the images on your head straight on to the paper, other times you start to wonder if it's really YOUR script that's being drawn or if it somehow got mixed up with someone else's.

So what can you do to avoid ripping all your hair out in frustration or stressing whether they'll give justice to your masterpiece of a script?

Be like water. Learn to adjust.

Sometimes, if it's a key component of the story that ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY MUST BE EXACTLY A CERTAIN WAY OR THE WORLD IS DOOMED, you can ask that they change things, but if it isn't, learn to let it go.

It's a collaboration.

The artist is SUPPOSED to have a say.

If they missed something small, adjust to it. Change the dialogue to cover things that are missed- after all, to most people who don't know better, that's all you do- write the words in those funny little bubbles. Which technically the letterer does...but they only put in what you write and tell them to put in. As a side note, make SURE you proofread what you tell a letterer to put in because it is NOT their job to do that for you.

Flexibility is a attribute that is just as important as any other for a comic book writer.

This is even more true when you self-publish.

When you're doing it on your own (aka self-publishing) you need to learn to be flexible. But, you ask, shouldn't you have to be anything but flexible when you're doing it on your own, shouldn't you be rigid and stay on course at all times? Won't you appear weak and have the artist or whoever walk all over you?


Not very likely but I can GUARANTEE you that if you ARE inflexible and won't give an inch, no one will give you one back and odds are you better start learning to handle all the art duties on your own. Artists are people too; they have lives outside of their drawing their drawing tables and, as a self-publishing writer/publisher, you need to recognise that.

Sometimes things will happen that you need to adapt to: health problems that cause pages to be delayed, job opportunities that the artist would be crazy to pass up that pay more than you could ever hope to offer them, or family things that take priority.

Don't ever think for a second that because you rent someone's talents that you own their time. You don't.

All of those examples I gave are things that I've had to deal with in the last 2 years of working with artists and I've done my best to handle every situation with understanding and fairness. I hope that I've succeeded. And I'm far from innocent myself- banking problems have resulted in payments being minorly delayed and more than once I've had to ask an artist to redo something because of an oversight on my part. BECAUSE I have shown flexibility and respect in my dealings though, it was shown back to me. Payments were made, art was changed.

Things happen. You learn to adjust.

So keep that in mind when you venture into writing comic books- that things don't always go smooth but that it's ok- you'll figure it all out if you keep a level head.
But before I go, one more piece of advice from Bruce Lee. 

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.”

So quit reading and go get writing.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Stuff Happens

Here's a little bit of insider writer-type knowledge to anyone thinking of getting into the game of publishing their work.

Stuff happens. 

No matter how much you plan and plan, and plan some more, things will inevitably happen to throw off your well-thought out ideas that you so meticulously laid out. 

Stuff happens.

This seems especially true when you choose to self-publish. Or maybe it's just more noticeable because there are no flunkies to correct any errors that occur or a control-freak manager who oversees every little detail of the project as though it were a life and death matter. When you self-publish, YOU are the flunkie who gets all the crappy jobs, YOU have to be the control freak that makes sure every "i" is dotted. Because if you don't... Well, that's when stuff happens.

One thing to understand, though, is that things will go wrong. Sometimes you get lucky and the mistakes actually improve what you're doing; you go off in a direction that you never even considered before. 

Other times... Yeah...

Other times, you feel like the world's biggest idiot. Maybe you were, at that moment, (though odds are you weren't- watch the TV show Dumbest Stuff on Wheels, you'll see what I mean) but the good news is that if you stay (relatively) calm, you should be able to fix it. 

But before you get to that point, there's always a great little thing I learnt when I was in Scouts, called "Be Prepared". 

Now, unless you're Batman, you can't possibly prepare for everything that could happen, but there ARE some steps that you can do to soften the blow, as it were, should things go wrong. Common sense stuff, but some times we need common sense solutions pointed out to us. 

First off, give yourself some extra time. 

If you expect your book to be printed and shipped to you by the 16th, go with the 20th as the REAL date. Things get delayed. Things get lost. Misplaced. Returned to sender. Held at a border. Maybe you got sick and never finished by your deadline. Maybe your artist fell ill and things went off the rails because of it. Maybe your calendar was actually on LAST month and the 25th came faster and your script STILL wasn't done.

Second, expect things to get broken. 

Say the aforementioned book order is for 60 copies and you have all 60 of them pre-sold. Congrats on your sales, but think about it for a minute; are YOU the only person in the world, in all of history, who's package ISN'T going to be dropped, kicked, stepped on, or otherwise mishandled on it's way to you? If you are, stop the book thing and go buy a lottery ticket, because you have an unheard of amount of luck. Or just send some of it my way. 

If you search around the internet, or the forum of where you have your books published, you'll find what they call a "breakage percentage" meaning the amount of books per order EXPECTED to be damaged represented as a percentage. I've seen it range anywhere from 8 to 20 percent. At 20 percent, that's 12 of your 60 books that you may have to either offer a discount on or completely write-off. Money, gone.

So that's giving yourself time and a little space in terms of your product, but what about making your product the best it can be? How do you avoid THAT little pitfall?

Get help. 

You can TRY to do everything on your own, and I'm sure you'll do a helluva job, but even the best of the best recognise that going outside one's self is the surest way to success. That's why pro athletes have trainers, singers have vocal coaches, and writers have editors. And proofreaders. 

Which is the wholes reason I write this blog, this evening, for you. I was one of those who said, "bah! I am amazing and can surely do this on my own! How silly those folk are that seek out assistance, when they could do a much better job of it, themselves, without the interference of other people!" 


Those people know what they are doing. It is VERY easy to overlook small things, especially if you've been living and breathing your project for months. You start seeing what you KNOW is there, not what IS there. You read a sentence and fill in the missing words or read over spelling mistakes. You forget that, sure YOU know that that building is the Lorenz Tower of Awesomeness, but when you switched scenes, did you write that down anywhere so that the person buying the book knows that? 


And that's why you cannot and SHOULD not do it ALL on your own. You lose track without knowing it, you miss things that you WILL kick yourself for, the first time someone points it out to you, and you have more than enough to do as is. If someone is kind enough to volunteer to go over your work for you and offer insight and spot any small errors that you might have overlooked? Let them. If you don't have anyone like that, strongly consider hiring someone to do it. You'll thank yourself (and don't forget to thank THEM, as well) and find that you end up with more time for doing what you really want to be doing...

Playing video games.  

I mean... Creating.  

                                      Yours, as always,

Saturday, 24 August 2013

HerOh Canada

So, today, DC Comics announced a Justice League Canada title, spinning out of their Justice League of America book. It will be written by Canadian comic author Jeff Lemire and Mike McKone, one of my favorite artists, will be providing the pencils.

 Excellent news.

Since the demise of the most recent Alpha Flight book, Canada has been forgotten by the "Big Two" and independent comics have been the only source of superhero adventures in the Great White North. Though considering the quality of those books put out, things are in good hands.

 I, myself, wanted to create a superhero team based out of Canada, and set about it a few months ago, the end result being Canada Corps, a loose-knit group of heroes who band together in times of need to save the day. Unlike American cities, with higher populations, larger cities, and therefore, more prevalent (at least SEEMING so) crime rate, Canada is a more spread-out population and a crime rates, for he most part, are lower. Canada is closer to what one would have found back in ancient Greece- a loose collection of city-states, who all identify themselves as TRUE Canadians, feuding amongst themselves yet banding together against outsiders. Like the Athenians and Spartan putting aside differences to fight off invaders.

Canadians heroes are cut from a different cloth than the "traditional" American heroes. Whereas most American folk heroes are individuals whose excellence, ambition and skill propel them to heights, Canada is a nation of regular every day people who are thrust into extraordinary circumstances and do their best to rise to the challenge. Heroes who's quiet strength is their greatest asset and their compassion a key component to what makes them tick. Batman or the Punisher would never have been Canadian. The rage and drive to punish, although there, is not what motivates most Canadian heroes, both real and fictional, but a desire to make things better, to seek and understanding and to improve quality of life. It's no wonder a Canadian-born person came up with Superman.

That's not to say Americans are bloodthirsty gun-toting killers- far from it, but if you look back throughout history, American heroes are much more celebrated for their drive and personal achievements than their Canadian counter-parts. Here's a guy you've probably never heard of, Peter Lemon. You can read up on him here: A remarkable individual, indeed.

And that's where my characters that make up Canada Corps come from- a place where every day people, though some may have superhuman abilities, step up at times of need and make the sacrifices that they need to for the greater good. They don't ask for accolades, in fact most shun them, and for the most part they just want to do the job and go back to their lives. A housewife, a police constable, a mechanic, a student, a former street gang member, a first-generation Canadian, and a couple of teenagers make up Canada Corps. They all come from different backgrounds and have different reasons for doing what they do; standing on guard against any evil that might threaten their nation, or the world.    

How do they differ from the Big Two's heroes?

Well DC's new title, as excited as I am by it, ISN'T mainly populated by Canadians, but by American heroes who are forced to relocate (much like during Marvel's Civil War which saw USAgent, Arachne, and a couple others flee north of the border to escape persecution- sort of how it sounds for the JLC too...) in much the way that men trying to avoid the Vietnam draft did, back in the day. 

Marvel's Alpha Flight is, in many ways, very much representative of how Canadians view themselves. Nowhere else would a team be comprised of a French-speaking schizophrenic, her brother (who later would be revealed as one of the first gay characters in comics), a former CFL football player turned scientist (who would later inhabit the body of a woman, making him one of the first transgendered characters), a person of short stature (named after a piece of hockey equipment or a sprite from a Shakespeare play- either works), a Native American doctor, a goddess who could take the form of any animal found in Canada, and led, originally by a scientist who left a big American corporation over moral grounds. Later they would be taken over by his wife (who did a far superior job of leading, even). Add to that their biggest name (Wolverine) would leave to go south of the border to join the X-Men (shades of Wayne Gretzky or any other athlete, or actor, that wants to make it big, it seems), and Alpha Flight became the quintessential Canadian superhero team. They never got much respect in their own world, but in ours, their fans were passionate and kept the team coming back every time the series was cancelled. Even getting KILLED wasn't enough to keep them down, and the members have returned time and again to serve a country that they love and believe in.

Canada Corps will see to it that they are not alone.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Creator Spotlight: Christine Steendam

One of the things that I had said I was going to do on this blog was spotlight some of the authors, musicians, and other artists who I think are deserving of more recognition- people that have created something that, quite frankly, I believe you will benefit from looking into. For the debut spotlight, I thought it only fitting to feature a fellow author who, like myself, published their first work this year, and one who I think you'll be hearing a great deal from in the coming years, Christine Steendam.

This evening I was fortunate enough to meet one of the writer's who's work I've come to admire. Christine Steendam the author of Heart Like An Ocean, a historical romance novel that tells the story of... Well, you know what, let's just take it straight from the book description on Amazon, because I doubt my simple words can do it justice.

"In a society where she doesn't belong, Senona Montez, a strong-willed and free-spirited woman refuses to follow the path expected of a Don's only child.
On the eve of her marriage to a stranger, she saddles her horse and flees everything she knows, only to discover the petty concerns of society did not prepare her for the harsh life on the open sea. She finds an unlikely protector in a reckless privateer, Brant Foxton.
Straddling the worlds of independence and privilege in 1600's Europe, this captivating man challenges her in ways she never thought possible, shows her what living to the fullest really means, and allows her to follow her heart wherever it leads."

Sounds pretty intense, right? And, it is. However, it is also a fun and entertaining read. The characters are excellent, real, and you find yourself quickly becoming wrapped up in their stories- even if, like myself, this isn't a genre that you would normally pick up.

I wrote a small review on the Amazon page if you'd like to check it out and while you are at it, make sure to pick up the book. Extremely reasonably priced and well worth every penny.

But I digress.

The reason I was writing this was not only to spotlight her work, but also the author herself. To me, the person who writes the book is as important as the book itself. That's just my feeling on the subject, but I'm always fascinated by the story behind the story-teller. Why did they choose to tell this particular story? Does it reflect anything about the author, themselves? What made them decide to be a writer in the first place?

I first became aware of Christine during the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project/contest when I was browsing through the list of local participants. There were a fair bit of folks from the great big city (aka Winnipeg) but only a handful of us from the outlying area (aka the "country") and I made an effort to keep track of how the others from my "group" were doing in regards to word count.

For whatever reason, Christine was one of the two or three entrants who's word count I kept an eye on. Part of it was because she sounded very "on the ball" as they say- she had a plan, had participated before, and just seemed like she was someone who I could use as a measuring stick.

For the first week and a bit, my word count kicked her's butt. Then, it didn't. Slowly but surely, she continued at a steady stream of increasing output until she FAR surpassed what I had. Eventually, I ended up dropping out, and she would go on to complete the 50,000 word goal, with time to spare.

That stuck in my head. I had dropped out partly because I had started a new job that turned out to be extremely stressful in the learning curve, and part because I was lazy. I lost that drive to continue on. Not her, however. She persevered, even when stuck, and managed to not only hit the goal, but surpass it.

So, when her book came out, I remembered what she had accomplished, and thought I'd send some support to a local author who had made good on her writing and had pushed me (unknowingly, and only for a few weeks, but nonetheless) to push myself, and so I bought the e-book version of Heart Like An Ocean.

As if destroying my word count during NaNoWriMo wasn't enough, she destroyed my preconceived notions on romance novels. It wasn't some tried and true same old song and dance romance novel, with two-dimensional characters and a predictable plot. Far from it, in fact. Her characters had depth, reacted realistically, the plot was anything BUT predictable, and, nothing against Christine, exceeded any expectations that I had. Quite simply, it was a great book.

So when I had the chance to meet her and exchange books, me having just released LEGACY, and her with a print copy of HLAO, I jumped at it.

She was everything one might hope for in speaking with a writer- eloquent, intelligent, thoughtful about the "art", humble about her success, and eager to see others succeed as well.

I fully expected us to have a "writers talk" along the lines of trading stories about the, well, stories that we had written and our experiences in getting to our respective debuts. We did, but mainly the time spent was of telling some of our OWN life stories. I was treated to a few small tales of her time in school, of her son, Jasper and his adventures, and her husband, Kyle, who sounds like a pretty cool dude in his own rights.

It seems that writers are always interested in stories, whether ones that they've made up, or ones that they, or others, have lived. A good story, is a good story.

Which answers a question that Christine had posed to me in a previous conversation:  Is her writing going to turn me into a fan of romance novels? The answer to that, is no. I don't think I could ever get into reading strictly romance.

BUT, you better believe that her writing has made me a fan of Christine Steendam, a skilled writer who crafts a compelling story with engaging characters that you genuinely care about, and I eagerly await any book that she publishes. And you should too.

Friday, 5 July 2013

First Day of the First Book

     Hey there, everyone! I'm back! Well, here we are, just over 25 hours in to the release of my first comic book, LEGACY #1, just in case SOMEHOW you missed the flurry of Facebook posts, tweets, text messages and emails. There was supposed to be carrier pigeons too but apparently that went out of style some time back. I call it classic, you call it animal cruelty. Details, details... I'm kidding. I'm from Canada, so of course it would have been geese. Or polar bears. MESSENGER BEAVERS. Now THAT would be cool. Maybe one day...

     But I digress. 

     So far, the book is doing quite well for such a small-scale release:  print copies are currently available only through me (though I am willing to send them ANYWHERE as long as you, at least, help out with some of the shipping) and digital is currently on DriveThruComics. There ARE plans in the works to get digital and print-on-demand through more websites, but alas, those are taking longer than I was hoping, to get going. That's all on me; I waited too long and made some assumptions about technical spec similarities and all sorts of other minor details that turned into not-so-minor delays. I'm working on it though! It will happen! Eventually. Either way:  If you want a copy (or even several copies) of this book, I WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN. GUARANTEED. Even if I have to hire those messenger beavers with their exorbitant rates. It. Will. Happen.

     Digital sales are doing decently so far, and at last count, over 75 print copies will be sold by the weekend. Won't be giving Brian Michael Bendis or Geoff Johns any competition in the sales VOLUME category, but I like to think I have a better class of fans (he said, clearly sucking up). For, more or less, local word of mouth, I'm pretty satisfied for a start like that. 

     By month's end, I should be out of the first run print and be heading into a second printing; and all without even putting it into a store. Yet. That's in the works as well, but the plan all along has been to get more of a body of work together before going that route. A novel you can take anywhere from a day to a month to read; a comic book, even the wordy ones, take much less time. Therefore, I want to have at least a couple that can be released in short(ish) order, to get people coming back to the store for a steady diet of books. 
     You wonderful folks who are buying now are lucky in that you get the books first, but unfortunately will have to wait a little longer to get your next fix. And it's going to be a GOOD one! Andre's art is going to make worth the wait. The story's pretty darn too, in my not so humble and completely biased opinion.  ;)  More on the release dates/schedule/plans in a post coming up. For now, just take some time to pat yourself on the back for being part of something that's been a long-time dream of mine. Thanks for being part of it, even if you haven't bought a copy yet. 

     What are you waiting for? Go buy one!


Thursday, 4 July 2013

LEGACY #1 Is Officially Released! Aka I Have Actually Published a Comic Book!

Well, here we are, folks.

We made it. 

LEGACY #1 is a reality.

The books are all in, the PDF is up for sale on DriveThruComics ( ) and I'm plastering it all over my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Hopefully a few other people decide to throw it up on theirs too, to get the word out. 

It's been quite the journey to get to this point; Mike and I first spoke back in March of 2012 (the 15th to be specific) and, though the book was finished some time back, we're just getting to the release now (printing and shipping take far longer than anyone who's ever had to wait, would like LOL). 

I want to thank everyone who's been part of it; from the people who encouraged me to get back into writing to the people who've only heard about the book recently- I know I've thanked people a lot in these posts, but trust me, it will never be enough. That being said, if you REALLY want me to thank you, throw a couple bucks my way for a copy (or 5!) of LEGACY and odds are I will hug you for no extra charge. And if you say something nice about it, I may even wash your car for free! (There's a 99% chance that I won't but, hey, you never know.)

There's been more than a few times I almost walked away from doing this, but I'm glad I didn't, and happy that I'll be doing it more, down the road. LEGACY #2 will be out this Fall and New Guard #1 will kick off our as Winter release and the first of 2014. And just to let you know- it gets better with every book.  ;)  Glad to have you all along for the ride, can't wait to show you what's in store... It's going to be a blast!