Tuesday, December 6, 2022


 For a while there I tried to break into Hollywood by writing screenplays. I got into the habit of reading them, which is kind of a chore. It takes a lot of the Hollywood magic out of things. But I had a good feel for it to the point where I maybe wrote five scripts on my own. One of them got roasted alive during the first year of Project Greenlight. The idea is, you have to review three other scripts when you submit your own. I read a few so-so scripts and one that was good. But every review I got back for mine was brutal. It was about a guy who finds out his abusive stepfather finally killed his mother, so he goes on a road trip with a friend to kill the old man. I thought it was pretty good, and I even turned it into a novel that no one wanted to publish. Ah well.

I've also helped friends make their own films. I was in a friend's movie as a shoplifter at a video store. I also helped the same friend with another movie, but I was a grip on that one. And then there was the time that a friend at the library was making a student film. He wanted me to be in it as a gunslinging sheriff type character. While we were filming it, though, he ran out of time and had to clock in for his shift. I wound up directing the rest of it and got, I think, the nicest shot in the movie.

But then there was Blood Diamond. My friend, Jesse, and I cowrote it. I'm terrible when it comes with collaborations. I don't know what it is. Every one I've worked on never made it to the finish line except whenever I worked with Jesse. He wrote the only serial I published in Tabard Inn. Anyway, he had everything lined up. Actors, special effects, locations, you name it. He just didn't have a script, so he asked me to write it with him. My memory is a bit shady at this point, but if I remember right it was about a Canadian ninja who has to face off against a mob boss with sorcerous abilities for . . . reasons? I probably have the script somewhere. It was pretty good. And we actually got to film some of it!

I remember it was Halloween night, and we gathered together to throw a party that would be part of the story. I played a couple of roles because I also had a mask that I could wear so I wouldn't be recognized again. We had an acrobat who could do flips and all kinds of crazy ninja moves. And I even got to meet two close friends that night. It was a lot of fun. Too bad the movie died that night. It could have been pretty cool. I would probably kill to have an opportunity to watch the footage we got, but I'm pretty sure no one has it anymore.

It's been a while since I worked on movies. Sometimes I miss it, but if there's anything more difficult to break into than publishing, it's movies. Maybe someday. I have this insane idea at the back of my head that maybe Jesse and I should novelize the script. I'll probably talk to him about it next time I see him. But indie film is a lot of fun. If you ever have the chance to do it, then do it.

Monday, December 5, 2022


 My comics habit used to be out of control. I could easily spend thirty bucks a week on it, and that was an average week. Rarely did I spend less, and a few times I spent as much as sixty. I had to keep track of them all to make sure I didn't miss an issue, and I had a paper with titles on the front and back. Over the years I've gotten it down to one side of the page and very few titles at that.

I'm actually kinda surprised by how few comics I read now especially since I stopped with The Transformers books, and GI Joe just ended. Here is a list of the books I'm reading now.


THE GOON (which is on hiatus more often than not)


JUPITER'S LEGACY: REQUIEM (which is also on hiatus, but this is on purpose)

THE MAGIC ORDER (which only has one issue left)

MASKERADE (which only has one issue left)


SAGA (another on hiatus by purpose, but it will be back in January)


SPACE BASTARDS (which has been on what seems like a permanent hiatus but the creators swear will be back)


And that's it. No wonder it's becoming more and more common for me to have a week without The Best Comic Book of the Week. Remember when I used to do Cool Shit? I had to stop because it was eating up so much of my time, and that was why I started doing TBCBOTW. Now I don't think I could write it on a weekly basis because, well, what would I have to write about?

Technically Injection should probably be on the list, but even if Warren Ellis came back to writing it, I don't think I'd read it. Considering, you know. It's a shame. It was a good book, but I can't support that kind of behavior.

If you want to get real technical, Doktor Sleepless and Anna Mercury are both on the list, but there is no way in hell either one of those would ever come out, anyway. Whatever happened to Avatar Press? I'd heard some rumblings from several people, but I've been sworn to secrecy on some of that. I don't know if what I heard would be the reasons for them disappearing. Too bad. They used to be my favorite small comics press.

Friday, December 2, 2022


Truer words, never spoken.


I don't consider myself a particularly fearful man. I don't think of myself as a coward. To the best of my memory I have only ever done one cowardly thing in my life, and that was because a friend made a horrible decision and I had to back said friend's play by doing something stupid. I'm no longer friends with that person, and I think about that moment often and don't like talking about it at all, so we'll leave it at that.

But I recently realized I may have done something else cowardly, and it bothers me.

A little background. I don't have any children (and I've been pretty fucking careful to ensure that never happened). I don't ever intend to have children. I'm probably too old for that by now, anyway. If I had a kid in nine months, I'd be in my sixties when that kid becomes a teenager. I don't want to be in my sixties chasing a shithead teenager around. That's strictly for the birds.

And for all my bluster about despising children, I kinda don't. Yeah, they're annoying and filthy and stupid and generally disgusting, but when it comes down to it I'd rather hang out with them than their awful adult counterparts. I kind of view them like Eric Northman in True Blood.

Why don't I have kids? First and foremost I'm a child myself. I'm the oldest eight year old boy I know. I'm irresponsible and I'm selfish. When you have kids, you're supposed to put them first, and I have absolutely no desire to do that.

But a major concern of mine was that I'd wind up just like my stepdad, a drunk who beats his wife and kids. Even before I became a teenager I could feel his hatred and rage in me. I still feel it to this day. Sure enough, I became a drunk. I've never intentionally hit a woman in my life. I accidentally slapped a girlfriend while rolling over in my sleep. It wasn't the impact that woke me up but the feeling of her face on my hand after. It wasn't forceful, and she didn't even wake up. I was just startled because I don't really sleep well around other people, and it kind of surprised me that someone else was in bed with me. It took me a moment to reorient myself and remember who she was.

And though I've wanted to many times, I've never struck a child. But I knew that was in me, and I didn't want to pass that down. Child Abuse: The Next Generation. I wanted to make sure that whatever thing that lived in my stepfather would die with me. And I think about how he got to be that way sometimes. I have a sneaking suspicion that his dad was a Nazi. I don't mean that figuratively. I mean, the guy fought in WWII for Hitler.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking about when I considered the coward's way.

Not too long ago I watched what is possibly my favorite episode of Supernatural. It was about the life of Bobby Singer. This would probably be considered a spoiler for the show, so if you haven't watched it, maybe skip the rest of this.

The episode is called "Death's Door." In the previous episode Bobby is shot in the head. He's still alive in this episode, but he's struggling for what, at first, you think is his life. He's trapped in his memories, and he has to relive some of his deepest regrets in life. Before this episode you know him as the gruff and ornery surrogate father to the Winchesters. He's a no-nonsense kind of guy with more than a tinge of paranoia. He's also the most knowledgeable hunter the boys know. They go to him when they don't know what kind of monster they're facing.

But we learn more about what makes Bobby tick in this episode. You see, his Reaper has showed up to take him to the other side, but like I said he's struggling to succeed at something before that happens. He has to run and hide from the Reaper, and he learns the best way to do that is to find his worst memories and stick with them.

His absolute worst memory is of his father and why he doesn't have kids, either. His father beat his mom. He beat Bobby. Often. And li'l Bobby did what I'd always fantasized about when I was his age. He killed his abuser. Shot him in the head. And he swore to himself that the cycle of abuse would die with him.

And so he raised Dean and Sam as best as he could when their real father was hunting monsters. He didn't always raise them like John wanted. Sometimes he let them play hooky from target practice so they could play a little ball instead.

And Bobby realizes, in these moments before the Reaper catches up to him, that his deepest regret was not having kids. It had been the coward's way. You don't just avoid evil. You step in its path and fuck it up as best as you can. The truly heroic thing would have been to take a stand against the evil within himself and NOT LET IT WIN. To be the best father he could have ever been.

And he manages to do the one thing he was really struggling to do as he stood at Death's door. He helped the boys one last time and died.

Fear stands in our way a lot more often that we'd like to believe. We do something or we don't do something because doing the opposite scares us in ways we can't even comprehend. When I discover I'm afraid of something, I usually just do it anyway, but in this one case, where it might have mattered the most, I didn't.

And that's one of the regrets I may have to hide in when my Reaper comes for me.


One more thing. Gramps had a saying. "'Balls!' said the Queen. 'If I had two I'd be king!'" This went back to his high school days, apparently. I was thinking about it earlier tonight and decided to look up where it came from. No one knows, like no one knows who came up with the song that says, "Milk, milk, lemonade, 'round the corner doody made." Or the one about what King Kong went to Hong Kong to do. But Gramps never told me there was a second part to that. The King responded by saying that it takes 12 inches to make a ruler.

Thursday, December 1, 2022


 Earlier today I decided to upgrade my tiny notebooks in which I kept track of all of my story submissions over the years. I had some Office Depot points, so I got a couple of Moleskine notebooks for free. I'll be using those going forward.

But I've been using these things since high school, when I first learned that I could actually make money from writing stories. I'd taken a creative writing class with Mr. Langner. It was a class for seniors, but I took it as a sophomore. They let me in because they saw how serious I was about writing. There were fourteen of us, I think, including my friend Rob Tannahill's sister. At the end of the year Mr. Langner published a booklet with the work we'd created as a result of our time in that class.

He was the one who introduced me to Writer's Market, and up until the internet age I got that book every year and sent thousands of submissions out. He'd photocopied the SF/Fantasy/Horror section and put it in my greedy little hands.

Anyway, almost everyone wrote poems for that booklet. I wrote a story. A very long story, actually. Considering the subject matter, if I had done this as a student today, I'd be on the news as some kind of potential school shooter stopped by a forward thinking teacher. Even by the standards of 1994/95 it was pretty bad.

I'd written a story called "Serial Killer." And you don't have to imagine very much to figure out what it was about. There were a few grisly murders in that one to say nothing of the sexuality involved.

I still have a copy of that one. Two, actually. I'm pretty sure Rob gave me his sister's copy at some point in my life. I eventually expanded it into a novel length work, and it is the one and only novel I've ever written that a Big Five publishing house wanted to see in its entirety. This was back when there were more than five. In case you're wondering, an editor at Random House read my sample chapters and asked to see the rest of the book. I can't tell you how happy that made me feel. I had a chance at the big time!

And then they rejected me. They probably should have. If I remember correctly I was a freshman in college at the time. That book, by the way, will never see the light of day. It's pretty bad, and there's no amount of editing that can fix that.

To think of how different my life could have been!

Wednesday, November 30, 2022



So when they announced Rogue One, I couldn't help but think, we don't need this shit. The story of how the rebels got the Death Star plans? Fuck that. But then I saw the movie, and it turned out to be pretty fucking good. In fact, it has the greatest ending to a Star Wars movie that isn't called The Empire Strikes Back.

And then they announced the show, Andor, based on the past of one of those characters from Rogue One. And I couldn't help but think, we don't need this shit. Fuck that. But in the end, I loved the show. It had a rocky beginning, and I almost checked out of the show, but around the middle it got really good, and by the end it had blown me away.

Star Wars has had a long history of saying fuck The Man. The evil empire needs rebels to take it down and give freedom and peace to everyone. Andor continues this tradition on a much starker level. There are no lightsabers and Jedi. Darth Vader does not make an appearance. This is all about rebellion and making The Man pay dearly for his widespread policy of oppression.

It's kind of weird when I see Star Wars fans siding with the government on a lot of things, especially when they're voicing their opinions in favor of oppression. People worry about the rail workers going on strike and ruining their day, for example. They want the government to stop that strike from happening by throwing those rail workers a bone instead of giving them what they need. I wonder if it ever occurs to them that they're encouraging a very real evil empire. I don't imagine they watch Star Wars because they agree with the Emperor.

It puzzles me even more that Disney allows this to happen. What are the biggest corporations in entertainment? Don't bother to Google it. Disney is number one with a bullet. You don't get to be that big without being in bed with the evil empire that rules you. Disney essentially is the Empire, and yet it's giving us this story about how important it is to rebel against the Powers That Be? Very strange.

Then again, these are strange times. But to quote a great man, "They always were."

Tuesday, November 29, 2022


 I was a fan of The Walking Dead for a long time before the show premiered. I knew the team of Kirkman and Moore before even the first issue came out. I was a huge fan of their previous book, Battle Pope, and at my first comics convention I bought a Battle Pope shirt off of them personally.

In case you're not familiar with Battle Pope

When I saw that they were putting a book out through Image about the zombie apocalypse, I got very jazzed. Bought it fresh off the press. The Walking Dead #1. I eventually got it signed by Kirkman and Moore. This was in the days just before the show started. Kirkman was easy to get. He wasn't even on the list of guests. He was just hanging out at the Image booth. I got to talk to him while waiting in line for Moore, who had been on the guest list. Our talk went so well that he gave me volume one of the Invincible omnibus for free. That's a hell of an expensive book, but it paid off. I got all the others in the series, too. Moore was a lot harder to get, and that's a story for another day because this isn't about the comics.

It's about the show. I remember when the first episode aired. It was a double episode, if I recall. I made it very clear to my girlfriend at the time that no matter what we did it would involve watching The Walking Dead. So we did. I loved the hell out of it, and after getting fabulously drunk and having lots of sex, we both passed out only to be woken up in the middle of the night by the replay. Specifically by the car alarm scene because I'd left the TV blaring when we passed out.

But after that first season the show had its ups and downs. A lot more downs than I would have hoped for. It got to the point where I was baffled by the writers because they weren't doing anything cohesive with this. If they found an opportunity to make a tangent, they would do so and follow it until they had no choice but to go back to the story. They lacked focus. But every once in a while they fired on all cylinders, and that kept me engaged.

And then they introduced Negan. They handled the end of his first episode poorly. His second went pretty well when he out-Neganed the comics Negan by killing Abraham and Glenn. That was pretty sweet. But Rick and his crew kept descending into madness and stupidity until I reached the point where I thought FUCK THEM. I want Negan to kill them all and take over the show.

And so Negan and Friends was born. And when I got tired of Fear the Walking Dead, I started calling it Where's Negan and Friends? But then it got really good and I started calling it The Adventures of Victor Strand in the Nuclear Zombie Apocalypse. And now it's going to be stupid again, so it's back to Where's Negan and Friends?

They really should have called Dead City Negan Lives, but what the hell. It will probably get bogged down by Maggie's bullshit, so I'm calling it Negan and Friend. The Daryl Dixon show? I won't bother. Maybe it will be Friend of Negan? Don't even ask me about the Rick and Michonne one. I have the least interest in that one unless Rick and Michonne die horribly in the first episode. It could be called Negan and Friends: Pee-Pee Pants City.

World Beyond? What's that?


PSS: This always makes me laugh.

Monday, November 28, 2022


 When I first started my current job there was a fish tank at work. There were only two fish in it. One of them died months ago, but the other, a suckerfish, remained. After a while they got some new fish. Tiny ones. Mostly danios. A couple of them died over the months, and on Friday the suckerfish joined his friend in that fish tank in the sky.

But it wasn't removed from the tank until this morning. It had been in there for the weekend, and I had to wonder what that must have been like for the other fish. "Holy shit! Mike's dead! And he's, uh, sticking around, I guess. Maybe let's not swim too close to him." By the time I saw the fish today it had started to rot. It reminded me of Earl.

Over the years I've tried to keep things alive at my desk. I had Sea Monkeys at Conference Plus for many years, but I went on vacation once. I figured putting the office vegan in charge of keeping them alive would do just the trick, but she overfed them and killed all but three of them. I nursed those three back to health, and soon I had a tank full of the li'l fellas again. Until I went on vacation again, and another coworker knocked the tank over, killing them all.

I also had a spider plant that went with me from Conference Plus into the Arkadin years and then I took it to Call One with me. When I left Call One and entered into the Year of Fucking Not Working it died.

And then there was Earl. He was a little blue beta fish I had when I first started at Conference Plus. My friend who had referred me for the job got Earl for me as a cube-warming gift. She gave me food and stuff to clean the bowl, etc. And she said that these things were supposed to live for a long time with minimal effort on my part.

I did everything I was supposed to. I followed her instructions to a T. And you've probably already guessed what happened.

That's right. Soon Earl started swimming on his side. I'd tap the glass, and he'd straighten out, but eventually the day came when he didn't. I saw that he'd died late on a Friday. However, I had to be somewhere by 6:30 that night. I got out at 5, and it took me about an hour to drive from Schaumburg to Elmhurst. So yeah, I was in a hurry. I figured I'd give Earl his toilet funeral on Monday.

When I got back I saw that he'd rotted pretty quickly. He had moldy spots all over him, and his fins had fallen off. I took him to the bathroom and took him out of the bowl with his net. I wasn't about to just pour everything into the toilet. I wanted to keep the pebbles and the decoration for the next fish I planned on getting.

I took Earl to the toilet and flipped the net upside down. He did not fall out. I shook the net, and nothing happened. I flicked the back of the net, and he still stayed in there. It took a while, but he finally dropped out of the net and hit the rim on the way down. He left a blue Earl-shaped mark on the porcelain that was kind of disgusting. I wiped it off and flushed him.

And then I saw that there were blue drops on the tile behind me from the sink to the stall. I cleaned up the rest of Earl's remains and washed out the bowl.

But I didn't get another fish. I lost my heart for that kind of thing pretty quickly.

I currently have nothing alive on my desk except for the bugs that live in the office. There are many spiders and other things I can't identify. They have traps all around us, but the little fuckers still manage to get around. But I just don't have the heart to try to keep something else alive after all this time.

RIP Earl and that big suckerfish. His name might not be Mike. I don't know. I made that part up. But maybe Mike and Earl are together in the great beyond. Hopefully not in an office. If there's an office in the afterlife, then I'm probably going to be stuck there. I've spent the last 15 or so years hoping I don't die at work.

Poor bastards who do.