Archive for the ‘Comics and Graphic Novels’ Category

NY ComicCon 2016 – Reading the Small Print   Leave a comment

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The Mad Geniuses Behind First Law of Mad Science, and Me

So I went to NY ComicCon on Saturday, October 8, 2016. And sure, I could tell you about all the mind-blowing, bigger-than-bejeezus and whammo-bap-biff sights that assaulted my senses during my visit, along with the claustrophobic cosplay crowded aisles.

But no, I won’t. Instead, I’ll tell you about what everybody should be noticing, and that’s the large imaginations behind the smaller prints just waiting to be discovered.

Instead of jamming my way into the bigger, more crowded booths, I took the path less travelled – the Small Press section of the convention.

There, I found extraordinarily friendly, helpful, entertaining people, even if I didn’t make a purchase. All of these people readily shared their stories about how they managed to make it to NYCC 2016, what inspired their work, why they keep going and the sacrifices they made along the way. Clearly every one of these people are devoted to their craft, often a labor of intense love rewarded each time someone turns the pages of their works…or contributes to their Kickstarter project.

So it’s with that spirit I introduce to you some of the representatives of small presses that I met. I only wish I could write about all 40+ of them, but time and space only allows for these. Please support their works and visit their websites. I’ll guarantee you it’s time well spent.

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First Law of Mad Science, Written by Oliver Mertz and Mike Isenberg, Art by Daniel Lapham, Colors by Jeff McComsey and Oliver Mertz, Lettering by Mike Isenberg and Oliver Mertz, Cover by Ryan Brown and Issue 3 Inks by Lonny Chant. Published by Noreon Labs. Website: http://www.firstlawofmadscience.com.

I met the creators on a casual stroll, when I gazed up at the title of the first volume, “Work Until Your Family Is Sad” made me break out in laughter. Please forgive me if I get your names messed up, guys, but I think it was Oliver who gave me the impressive elevator speech that hooked me to buy this book. And while I didn’t have a chance to read it today (sorry, I had to go to work!), the bit I glanced through LOOKS GREAT! I also have a to get through FLOMS Science Club Mixtape. It’s a compendium of several artists’ works and stories.

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Man Vs. Rock, Volume 1, Written by Victor Detroy and Kevin Bieber, Art by Jared Lamp, Colors by Summer Fitzgerald. http://www.manvsrock.com

 I knew I had a winner yesterday when I walked up to this booth and one of the artists responsible for its creation acted it out for me. Obviously, I had to buy it. The creatives behind this project are a team from Maine and Texas who now live in Las Angeles but came to New York ComicCon. And as my personal dramatic reading demonstrated, this graphic novel features a strong female character AND a rock. While the female character is a strong as a rock, it’s the rock who’s the heavy hitter here. Don’t ask me to reveal all the severe consequences throughout history that the rock foisted on humankind, but if you get your hands on this book, you’ll certainly find out! Learn the truth and purchase, folks!

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Toolbox, Written by Kyle Gnepper (website – http://www.unshavencomicsonlin.com), Art by Kristen Gudsnuck (website – http://www.henchgirlcomic.com).

Another charmer of a work, this is a family-friendly graphic novel anyone can enjoy. It looks like fun and I can’t wait to read it! To quote the back cover, “Robot Justice Is Efficient Justice! Toolbox is about a future off world human settlement that reprograms a construction robot to protect them from bandits and dangerous wild life in the area. It’s equal parts science fiction and western adventure. At its heart it’s about technology, sisterhood, character and what it means to be a family.”

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Agent 81 and the Black Train, Written by Robert Geronimo, Illustration by Chilly Bliss, Ascalon Press, NY http://www.ascalonpress.com.

I spoke to the author, Robert Geronimo, for quite some time and his enthusiasm is infectious. He came up with a twisty take on World War II. I’m going to quote the back cover because it explains the plot better than I can remember. “AGENT 87 AND THE BLACK TRAIN – A true master of disguise, martial artist and linguist, Agent 87 is the world’s greatest spy. With the Second World War coming to its peak, 87 goes undercover to investigate a lethal weapons project in a Japanese-occupied region in China. With the help of a French weapons expert and a greedy mercenary, 87 unravels a plot filled with death and horror, discovering she must stop a deadly train carrying the destruction of mankind as its cargo.”

I must also add that Ascalon Press also has a division, Ascalon Games, and they’ve created an app called “Little Maia and the Lunar Express – a game where the player evades enemy rockets, aliens and a giant space monster.

A Ticket To Heartbreak and Heaven   Leave a comment

2016 NY ComicCon

I got excited when the yearly reminder to sign up for October’s NY Comic Con appeared in my inbox. For years, I swore I’d love to attend but life always interfered somehow: had to work and couldn’t get off, or something was up with the kid, or after all the bills got paid, the till’s empty and so were my pockets.

This year, however, was different. The stars aligned in my favor. For once.

Upon receiving the notice I needed to fill in my fan verification form, a method of preregistration, I counted the days until the site opened. As one can imagine, in years past, tickets to this event were hotter than asphalt in Florida on an August afternoon, and acquiring them often required a Ferengi’s ability to pilfer, smuggle and trade. So who can blame the folks at NYCC to try a new method of ticket selling so that anyone who wanted to attend actually could…legitimately?

Once the Fan Verification site went live, I filled in my name, my husband’s name and my son’s. It asked for email addresses. Since I was treating the family for tickets, I put my own email in all three. I’ve purchased tickets for various and sundry trade shows in the same manner, so why should this be any different?

Several days later, I received a notice that tickets were now open for sale for verified fans. After waiting in an electronic queue for well over an hour (lucky I hit the button right as it came live!), I purchased three tickets and was instructed that I’d need to go to another site to complete the sale. I got excited. Not only was my family going, I planned to surprise my son with his ticket, since the event takes place right before his birthday.

As I opened the site’s page to complete the sale, I noticed my email address went in on my designated field, but not on my husband’s or son’s. Strange, I thought, and went to read up on what I might be doing wrong. As it turned out, each person needs his or her own email address. What? Aren’t I buying the tickets? How come? From NYCC’s twitter feed, I quickly learned that many boyfriends, girlfriends, uncles, aunts and cosplay girls and boys believed as I did.

Suddenly, we were all shut out of living our dream. No 2016 NY ComicCon for us.

I called. The helpful and polite person on the other end verified what in my heart I realized was true: every ticket needs its own email address. If not, we’re very sorry, but we have to refund your money.

First, I wanted to cry.

Then scream.

Then kick myself for not following directions the way I should.

Enthusiasm and past Javitz Center purchasing experiences clouded my decision-making for this event. I hated myself for not following the directions carefully, but then again, why shouldn’t one person be able to buy a couple of tickets? It comes down to a factor more than just hoping to surprise someone with a nice treat: fraud. This convention is so rife with people elbowing out the legit crowd with overpriced scalped tickets, the powers that be decided to try another way.

Unfortunately, there were an awful lot of people like me, and all of us, including me, let NY ComicCon folks know how devastated we all were. All we wanted was a good time, fanning it up with our ilk, grabbing autographs and a pile of merch to take home and savor.

Yet, inside of me, a gut feeling told me to hang on. Just wait, it said, there’s going to be good new yet…

And there was.

Out of the blue, I received a nice, polite email from NY ComicCon. Apparently, they heard us. Chose to do the right thing. Gave us a second chance.

We had a brief window to verify the fans we wanted to purchase tickets for, only 24 hours, but that was more than enough time. I scrambled online and fan verified both my husband and kid. Twenty-four hours after that, I purchased tickets for all three of us.

My heartbreak turned out to be a ticket to heaven. Now we’re all going!

Hope to see you there.

Graphic Novel Projects   Leave a comment

On my Twitter feed, I follow all sorts of sci-fi creators. Writers, aficionados, artists, designers, editors, fans…everyone’s got my attention. While I simply don’t have time to click on every link I get, I do check out quite a few. That’s the beauty of Twitter – tons of information packed in a sliver.

It doesn’t take long to discover there’s a lot of people out there doing their literal best to breathe life into their loves. E-published works pop up all the time. So do gorgeous illustrations with nary a book to grace. But like many of us, the means to take these works to the next level is woefully absent. Let’s just say if .000000000000000000001 of the amount of money wasted on this year’s presidential was put towards good causes, including arts in all forms, this nation could nurture, educate and launch many artists careers.

So once that art teacher’s been let go, or the music teacher is split between 6 schools in the district, or grammar goes out the window when the English teacher teaches to the test, we all lose.

But I’m only slightly digressing here.

Determination will get you everywhere, and out of the ashes of worthy causes rose Kickstarter. For every project, there’s believers just like the you. Come up with a good idea, spread the word and eventually, if that project’s worthiness commands attention, Kickstarter investors will support even the most humble projects.

Two Tweets caught my attention recently, both graphic novel projects, using Kickstarter and other means to raise money for their projects. I like them both and thought I’d bring them to your attention.

Paradox Girl

“Paradox Girl” Credit: Cayti Elle Bouquin/Yishan Li

“Do you know what happens when you violate causality? By definition, nothing.” These are the opening words of the first “Paradox Girl,” written by Cayti Elle Bouquin, illustrated by Yishan Li, edited by Peter Bensley and published by Georgina Bensley. It’s the story of a girl who shifts back and forth in times so frequently, she runs into herself constantly…and therein lie the often humorous plot.

These dedicated artists wish to share Paradox Girl’s dream with all of you, but realize you might want to figure out who she is first (and actually, so would PG!). Their website introduces PG to you and shows the reader who charming she is. If you like what you read, there’s three different graphic novels to choose from available for purchase. They’d appreciate it if you bought a copy or two, plus left a little something in the tip jar. Join their mailing list and they’ll let you know when their next Kickstarter campaign begins.

Have Space

Credit: Eric Gignac

“Have Space Suit – Will Travel” is the second Kickstarter project that’s come across my Twitter feed. Since I can’t explain it any better than their web page does, I’m quoting it directly below:

“Have Space Suit – Will Travel is the second graphic novel adapted from Robert Heinlein’s Virginia Edition, which is the complete and definitive 46 volume collector’s set of all of Heinlein’s works. This follow-on project is approved by the copyright owner, the Heinlein Prize Trust and will be produced with the support of the Virginia Edition Publishing Company. The purpose of the Heinlein Prize is to encourage and reward progress in commercial space activities that advances Robert and his wife Virginia’s dream of humanity’s future in space. The Virginia Edition Publishing Company is responsible for the production and distribution of the authoritative text of all of Robert Heinlein’s published fiction and non-fiction – The Robert A. Heinlein: Virginia Edition Collection.”

Click on the above link and you’ll be take right to the Kickstarter page. Eric Gignac only has until July 16, 2016 to raise fund for his project. He’s more than halfway there, and if you’re will to share in his dream, show your support and donate.

As with both projects, your donations will go towards an artistic worthy cause, support science fiction folks just like yourself, and leave you with the warm and fuzzy feeling that your money didn’t go towards a campaign run by people who neither understand nor appreciate just how otherworldly and bizarre this year’s campaign has become (or fodder for yet another graphic novel?).

New Sci-fi Books Roundup – May 1, 2016   Leave a comment

I’m going to try to make this a weekly thing: a brief list of new sci-fi books or those that show up on my Twitter feed. I’d like to get the word out there to both my blog and Twitter followers that there’s some reads out there that deserve a look-over, as well as support these writers any way I can. Eventually, I’ll have more time to read these works, but at least I can promote them a little.  I’ve chosen these books at random but perhaps one day I’ll get to yours, too!

Just in case you’d like to know, my Twitter handle is @gretchenweerhei

The last hero

The Last Hero (The Last Hero Trilogy Book 1) Kindle Edition

.99 read on Kindle or FREE on KindleUnlimited

Contact with a race of pacifists convinces mankind to lay down its weapons and keep the peace. The last Medal of Honor recipient, Trent Maxwell, trades glory for the comforts of a family after the U.S. Army disbands. All that ends when an alien menace attacks the New Earth colony, which forces a crash mobilization. Trent finds himself reactivated and traveling through space to distant worlds, in order to stop this new enemy. During the century long journey of death, love, and loss, he also deals with the law of relativity that wreaks havoc with his daughter.

Outside

OUTSIDE – a post-apocalyptic novel (Outside Series Book 1) Kindle Edition

Sophie Radcliffe, a feisty Texan intergalactic agent, is a brilliant computer programmer with a photographic memory. She has worked for the Intergalactic Law Enforcement Agency for ten years and is considered to be the best human agent on the team. She works alongside two other humans, Tom Logan, a tough, ex-police cop from Chicago and Justin Adams, a talented British linguist, whose arrogant, superior ways get right under the skin of his colleagues. When the agents discover their nemesis, a Drogg named Zenzoris, has escaped his prison pod and is out for revenge, the mission to recapture him takes the agents on a terrifying, roller-coaster adventure. Will the Drogg succeed in overthrowing the Intergalactic Council this time? The agents battle against time to find the Drogg before he destroys the world.

 

The God Computer

The God Computer Kindle Edition

Book Expo America!   Leave a comment

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Once again, my sister Gwen and I found ourselves at Book Expo America, located at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York City.  If you have anything to do with books – read, write, sell, publish, lend, stack or otherwise handle, this is it, folks, an action-packed book and publishing extravaganza, meant to pull the forces of the written word in every available direction.  It’s not for the faint of heart or feigning writers, either.  If you’re serious, you’re here.  No argument.  Every May this trade show and convention takes place, attracting literally anyone and everyone who has a connection to the written word.  If you think I’m kidding, just click here to see who showed up.  Wheeler-dealers haggle over contracts, agents meet editors to sell the next big thing, authors sign books and everyone checks out the free swag.

Gwen and I went to meet up with our agent, Marisa Corvisiero, but also to wander the aisles in search of our genres (Gwen – Women’s Fiction, me – Sci-Fi).  Even more, though, are the trends that surface during these events.  China, holding the Guest of Honor position, displayed every single genre from children’s to serious modern literature.  In the back of the floor, many digital publishing and other services commanded a large swath of space.  It seems as if writing the actual story is only a tiny portion of what digital services offers.  It’s getting the word out about everything surrounding that book that counts here.  All business regarding the writer’s craft, folks!

Of course, there’s always room for a bit of fun, natch.

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Our friend Sam Bremekamp, a Young Adult agent and writer, couldn’t make it this year, so we photobombed her way in…sort of…

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I made a couple of friends, too.

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And, of course, visited the latest in Sci-Fi.  I tweeted a few of these, but for some reason my Twitter app shamefully didn’t recognize the term “sci-fi” and instead put either “sci-on” or “sci-it.”  Kind of odd, but then again, so is the genre, so I suppose it’s okay.

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We ran into a few acquaintances during our travels…

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…and we couldn’t quite determine what the message was here, other than magenta and black is a must-have color for a young woman.

As we glanced around the swirl of activity throughout the ginormous floor, gazing at whole booths devoted to famous writers, outsized signs blasting their names while long lines queued up to obtain autographs from hot bestselling authors (books were free, too!), the thought crossed both of our minds: that’ll be us, one day.

Not “some day…” as in waxing wistful.

ONE DAY…as a very achievable goal.

So keep your eyes open, folks!  We’re coming to a bookshelf near you.

Free Sci-Fi Reads   Leave a comment

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In case any of you are wondering where you could get yourself some new, cheap and quick sci-fi reads to load on that new iPad or tablet you got for Christmas, your birthday or just for fun, have I got a link for you!

Check out Wattpad, a site dedicated to new, established and undiscovered writers of all genres, but also for science fiction.  There are literally hundreds of books to choose from, on a wide range of topics.  If you’re searching for the latest in alien lit, or want to bone up on mysterious plagues or merciless wars, here’s your chance to follow serialized books.  What’s also great about this site is it offers writers, both established and new, the opportunity to create and share their work.

By the way, it’s not just for sci-fi fans – it’s for everyone.  If you want to sink into a romance or inform yourself on a particular topic, even catch the latest on werewolves and vampires, it’s all there.

But that’s not all, folks…there’s more!

Thinking of a good story and searching for a place to put it down into words?  This site also allows you to create.  There’s no demands on writers who wish to launch their careers, nothing to sign, no rights to control, no promises to turn over your firstborn.  It’s a direct connection to 30 million readers worldwide who might just sink their teeth into your mysterious fantasy and become an ardent fan.  It’s better than a blog, it’s your work!

If nothing else, this is a good site for those who might need a bit of encouragement to start placing their thoughts into a real work.  Someone’s bound to trip over what you’ve written, and you’ll get a real chance to have others examine your work.  Sure, it might be scary, but it’s also helpful.  Think of it as a growing process, and you’ll be on your way publishing that great story you’ve been dragging around in your head.

So what are you waiting for – get writing!

 

 

 

Spock’s Final Frontier   Leave a comment

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Farewell, Friend…

I heard he had gone into the hospital, but who’d ever think that Spock would die?  That’s as unfathomable as space and time itself!

Spock…dead?

People of a certain age, such as myself, count their youthful years against the number of Star Trek episodes they identify with.  I was quite young when they originally aired, but I remember seeing them.  Later, in the 1970s, Mom always turned the show on after dinner.  And there he was, Spock, spouting his quiet but firm logic against the perpetually angered and impulsive Kirk.  He had a better grip on things, from his unique perspective.  Half human, half Vulcan, he read into Earthly beings with insight, yet allowed his mature, tamer side to pump out the decisions that allowed the Enterprise to stay afloat in space.

So why wasn’t he the captain, you ask?

No swagger value, I’m afraid.  A quiet, contemplative fellow, Spock chose to pursue feats of the brain instead of the brawn.  And that’s fine, really.  There’s too many jocks out there, and every braniac, nerd, geek and other reject embraced Spock with a passion, because it gave them a great model to follow.  No, you don’t have to be a football player or a cheerleader – the universe needs thinkers, too!

In middle and high school, the same geeky types that were into Star Trek were also into such shows as Dr. Who and Space: 1999.   Even Monte Python’s Flying Circus.  We were the group that got all the strangeness because we didn’t have to worry about what people thought of us – they already thought we were weird.  Our imaginations set us free, launching us into the stratosphere with odd concepts convincingly plausible.  I got a bit stuck on wondering just exactly where in the universe the Enterprise was located, or headed.  How come they never ran out of gas?  Or water?  Or food?  Where did they get their uniforms from?  Who did the laundry?  How did they maintain personal hygiene?  I figured a ship that size had to have an awfully large cargo bay.  Maybe they did purloin provisions from populated planets.

My college friend Linda probably had some insight into these issues.  She devoted her life (at that point, anyway) to two things: music and Star Trek.  She memorized each episode, completely down to the credits.  She possessed an actual female uniform and wore it when the occasion demanded it.  Without hesitation she could name any tiny bit of trivia one threw at her, often showing down many a Star Trek scholar – which she proudly was – often at the price of a beer.

Still, this iconic sci-fi show would be nothing without its iconic star.  Spock beckoned us to live long and prosper, which he surely did.  He leaves us to enjoy the episodes which made him famous and live long in our hearts forever.

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