Saturday, June 27, 2015

MY 2015 SAN DIEGO COMIC CON APPEARANCE SCHEDULE!



San Diego Comic-Con International just put up their Wednesday through Saturday (so far) programming schedule and I now have info for all three of my panels for the con. If you want to say hello, get something signed (free of charge) or want to do business, you can easily track me down at the panels or sitting at the Lion Forge Comics booth or in the professional's lounge. 

Full info is below.

On Friday, July 10th:
THE WRITER'S JOURNEY: BREAKING INTO COMICS AND HOLLYWOOD SCRIPTWRITING
If you are an unpublished writer with dreams of making it in the transmedia marketplace and you don't know how or where to begin, this is the panel for you. Hollywood screenwriters and graphic novel producers share insider information, publishing secrets, and the professional realities on how to develop your ideas into a viable comics proposal.
Moderated by 2015 Disney/ABC Writing Program winner and 2014 Eisner Award nominee Brandon Easton (Marvel's Agent Carter,ThunderCats, Watson & Holmes), the panel includes Geoffrey Thorne (Leverage, The Librarians), Marc Zicree (Star Trek: the Next Generation, Space Command), Erika Alexander (Concrete Park, Living Single), and Tony Puryear (Concrete Park, the Schwarzenegger film Eraser). Topics will include how to hire artists and build a strong contract, how to seek out a publisher, and how to navigate the tough new world of intellectual property management in the digital frontier.
DIRECT LINK: http://sched.co/3koa
Friday July 10, 2015 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Room 32AB

On Saturday, July 11th:
ANDRE THE GIANT: THE MAN BEHIND THE LEGEND
The beloved pro wrestler's daughter Robin Christensen joins the creative team of Lion Forge's authorized graphic novel biography including Brandon Easton (Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven) and Shannon Eric Denton (senior editor, Lion Forge Comics) to discuss the real man known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Join this panel to reminisce about one of sports entertainment's most legendary figures. Surprise guests will be featured.
DIRECT LINK: http://sched.co/3lJX
Saturday July 11, 2015 11:00am - 12:00pm
Room 29AB

DISNEY/ABC, REINVENTION: THE WRITER, THE DIRECTOR, THE STORY
For years people have reinvented themselves. Actors turned politicians; Luke Skywalker turned Jedi; Captain America turned first Avenger. Disney-ABC's Creative Talent Development and Inclusion team has successfully assisted many achieve their dreams by helping them reinvent their careers. Whether you're an actor who wants to direct, a director who wants to write, a feature writer who wants to write television, or a comedy writer who wants to write drama, you'll get helpful tips and insight on how to successfully make a career transition from Disney-ABC writers, directors, and executives.
DIRECT LINK: http://sched.co/3lJk
Saturday July 11, 2015 5:30pm - 6:30pm
Room 24ABC

Hope to see you there!

B.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Baltimore: The Land of My Birth


People have never understood why I've always been incredibly proud to be from Baltimore. It made me very strong. 
It gave me the strength to put myself through college three times with no familial assistance, the strength to move to Boston and deal with the racial foolishness up there, the strength to move to NYC with little money and no connections and build a great life there, the strength to take the biggest chance of my life and go for my dreams of being of Hollywood screenwriter during the worst economic climate in recent history.


I watch the horrible images from my city and I also see a lot of honest, hard-working people confronting the looters and telling them that they're wrong for breaking the law. We know that there needs to be law enforcement reform, but destroying our hometown isn't the way to do it.


Baltimoreans are notoriously tough. We don't back down. We never give up. Our reputation can be muddy, but beneath the grit there's a heart of gold. There are millions of good people in the Baltimore region. They'll step up, and order will be restored.
Everything I am is because of being from Baltimore - both good and bad. It still is a great city with a unique culture with an amazing history. There's a lot of pain and suffering that's been compounded by years of systemic abuse and some of that frustration is bursting forth.


I sit in Los Angeles 3000 miles removed from the place of my birth. I wish I could be there for my brothers and sisters. One day, I shall return and do what I can to make it a better place. Until then, I will pray for Freddie Gray, the innocent men and women destroyed by the Drug War and the police officers hurt by the errant youth on the streets.
Be good Baltimore. Be better. My heart goes to you.
P.S. On a happier note: 

B. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

BRAVE NEW SOULS Free Online Screening for Black History Month!




In honor of Black History Month, I will allow THREE DAYS of FREE ONLINE SCREENINGS of the documentary BRAVE NEW SOULS: BLACK SCI-FI & FANTASY WRITERS OF THE 21ST CENTURY

From Sunday, February 1st at 12:00AM (EST) through Tuesday, February 3rd at 11:59PM (EST) you'll be able to watch the documentary free of charge! 

As the writer, director and producer of the film, I learned much about the process of documentary production as well as how many talented Black speculative fiction creators were out there who didn't get the attention they deserved. 

Brave New Souls premiered at Eagle Con LA on May 9th, 2014 to a packed house and has been screened at Stan Lee's Comikaze, Black Comic Book Day at the Schomburg and the Black Comix Arts Festival

Check out a few clips as well as the trailer for the film: 

Former DC Editor Joe Illidge talks his influences and gives advice to new writers.




Creators Joe Illidge, Nora Jemisin and John Jennings speak about the industry. 



Trailer: 


Return here on February 1st for the movie link!

B. 


Friday, January 09, 2015

The New Black Pathology: Endless Whining and Complaining About Pop Culture...




In light of all the truly horrible things happening in the world, it rips me in half when I see Black folks complaining about things that aren't really that bad in the grand scheme.

What I'm talking about specifically is the never-ending cycle of whining and complaining about movies and TV series that have predominantly Black casts. In the last three years, there's been a slew of Black movies and TV shows that have served to do nothing but divide the Black audience for purely superficial reasons.

Let me jump right to the point by discussing the latest Lee Daniels (who I'm not a fan of) production EMPIRE which debuted to high ratings this past Wednesday (01/06/15) on FOX. In the midst of the news of the ratings success, some Black folks on Facebook and Twitter have been circulating this meme:



What's interesting about this meme is that it flies in the face of a major fact that flew over the heads of the general audience:

The strong “Empire” premiere means that three of the top four launches of the season in adults 18-49 — “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Empire” and “Black-ish” — are shows fronted by African-Americans.

That's pretty fucking huge. Three shows. Three different casts. Three different universes of storytelling all with significant African-American participation. Three shows debuting at the top of the charts.

As recently as mid-2014, there's been a lot of hand-wringing over the lack of Black representation on television. Going back to 2008 - 2013, there weren't many shows at all with Black leads or stories centralizing African-Americans. I don't count those ridiculous Tyler Perry sitcoms as "Black" because they exist in a parallel reality where all spoken lines have to be delivered by actors at the top of their voice - as if they were playing to a crowded playhouse.

We went from famine to an adequate dinner in the span of two years.

Now, before I continue, I must say that no one should be "satisfied" with just "any old Black show" nor should we be satisfied with "crumbs." I've heard the arguments for years. Actually, I've heard the arguments for decades.

Let me recount a few of these discussions:




1) When I was a kid, I remember The Cosby Show being criticized for not being "Black" enough because the parents were upper-middle-class professionals and their kids didn't act like street kids. Black folks complained because it wasn't representing the streets.





2) In the early 1990s - during the hood movie boom - movies like BOYZ IN THE HOOD, MENACE II SOCIETY, STRAIGHT OUTTA BROOKLYN, NEW JERSEY DRIVE, etc. were criticized because it presented the inner-city Black community as savage and ignored the overwhelmingly law-abiding African-American working class.

Not only that, but during this same period, we were treated to an array of films highlighting the Jewish Holocaust - the most notable of these films being the excellent SCHINDLER'S LIST from Steven Spielberg.

I can tell you as someone who was in college during the bulk of the 1990s, all you would hear from the pseudo-revolutionaries was: "Of course Hollywood gonna show the holocaust. Jews run Hollywood, they gonna show how their people were treated. They'd NEVER make no movies showing how horrible slavery was! They don't want nobody to know the truth!"

I heard this for about 15 years straight.

And then...




3) Fast forward to 2012: Quentin Tarantino's DJANGO, UNCHAINED is released. The film isn't perfect, but one of the central points to the narrative was showing how indescribably horrible slavery was in the U.S. The story didn't flinch from the torture, rape, dehumanization, hopelessness and overall demonic nature of America's greatest crime.




Then in 2013, Black British filmmaker Steve McQueen and African-American screenwriter John Ridley bring 12 YEARS A SLAVE to the screens. Here's yet another well-crafted film that does not flinch from the horror of the American slave trade. It's all on the screen for you to see. Uncompromising, relentless, painful, real, inhumane. Just like slavery.

And what's been the general reaction from the Black peanut gallery?

"Why does Hollywood always want to show us as slaves? We done more than that! They always want to see us as subservient! They like those old time movies showing us as their servants... etc."

Judging by the box office returns of 42 (the WONDERFUL Jackie Robinson biopic starring Chadwick Boseman) and SELMA (currently in theaters) and the astonishingly fun/brilliant satire DEAR WHITE PEOPLE all the complainers found a reason to ignore these more balanced representations of African-American life.

And with that said...



4) In 2014, a new Black family sitcom debuted called BLACK-ish. I don't like the title, but it grew on many of us pretty fast. Starring Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laurence Fishburne and a slew of other talented veteran and new faces; Black-ish started shaky, but quickly settled into a quirky examination of how "success" challenges personal ethnic identity and how the intersection of class and race alters the perception of life itself.

And it's damn funny.

But according to a lot of Black folks online... (mind you, I copied and pasted all of these quotes from message boards, Twitter and Facebook discussions):  "Black-ish is wack! It's coonery. I'm tired of coons and shuckin' and jivin'. Of course it's gonna be popular, it makes us look like clowns and fools!"

I've watched every episode of Black-ish twice and have yet to find "cooning."

However, I can recall a show that made Blacks look like animals:

MARTIN.

I love Martin Lawrence. I love Tisha Campbell. Who doesn't love Cole/cockroach? But MARTIN - the show - managed to degrade Black people at every single turn. For whatever reason, Martin is held up as some paragon of Black progress from the Black peanut gallery. You can't go far without hearing someone say "I wish they made more Black shows like Martin!"



Martin was a show that traded in the light-skin vs dark-skin Black woman stereotype. Don't know what that is?

Light-skinned Black women = professional, intelligent, kind, warm, gentle, beautiful.

Dark-skinned Black women = mean, cruel, cold, callous, dirty, stupid, ghetto, wrong, ugly.





As the show went on, the majority of the jokes were based around how Pam was disgusting and unattractive. Her "nappy" hair was constantly derided (remember "bee-dee-bee on her neck").

The Sheneneh character was a parade of every single horrible stereotype of lower-class Black women that has existed. And yet, this show is still held up as some wonderful, transformative moment in Black pop culture.


5) Now we've got EMPIRE. The peanut gallery seems to be forgetting what a nighttime soap opera looks like. Apparently, they've never seen DYNASTY, MELROSE PLACE, FALCON CREST or anything soap opera ever.




Soap operas trade in drama. Without people in jail, or people sleeping around, or people scheming to get money/power, most soap operas don't work.

Here's some random quotes taken from Facebook regarding Empire (I swear I'm not making this up):

"The Folks who produced and are in the show, have ALL SOLD THEIR SOULS TO THE DEVIL FOR THE MONEY ! LET'S SHUT THIS GARBAGE DOWN NOW ! AMOS AND ANDY 2015 !" 

"They disrespect us. They have no regard for us. They want us stupid...just play some music for these niggers, they love that, lets just shove some drama down their throats, make them fight, have a son call his mother a bitch. Make the colors bright cause niggers love colors. NO THANK YOU. I'LL WATCH RERUNS OF WHATEVER..."

Yep.

I don't like negative portrayals of Black people in any medium. I feel those Housewives/Basketball/Hip-hop/Love reality shows do more damage to Black images than any scripted drama currently on air.

So many folks have decided the totality of the series is problematic based on one episode. Just one episode.

These are the same kinds of folks who whine about the laws and political mistreatment but won't vote - they won't even register to vote.

These are the same kinds of folks that complain about the lack of positive Black imagery but don't support movies that show a hyper-noble Black community.

A trait of millennial culture is an overwhelming sense of entitlement. You see this in the genre world and you're seeing this regarding the proliferation of new Black TV shows and movies. Apparently, if a product doesn't appeal to every single possible whim - if it doesn't satisfy some imaginary goal of representation - then it is to be fully trashed and discarded under the pretense of protecting the legacy of African-American imagery.

This is an important thing to believe in, but it is completely misdirected. What's replaced real activism is keyboard activism. Re-tweeting important news of liberation and freedom struggles is considered just as legitimate as grass-roots political organizing.

Complaining about media is considered by some a worthy replacement for creating your own stories for distribution. Whining about "bad" imagery is a substitute for seeking out the images you feel "properly" reflect the realities of Black life. Calling something "coonery" or "clowning" is a replacement for in-depth analysis of story structure and behind-the-scenes production news.

Giving something the benefit of the doubt is considered "selling out" while simple-minded, reactionary reviews based on minimal information is now the standard-operating-procedure for critical understanding.

What terrifies me is that many Blacks fall right into the stereotype of being relentless complainers. No matter what the story is, no matter how well we're presented, no matter how fantastic a performance is, no matter how well the script is written, there's going to be a loud chunk of Black folks who equate internet access with the freedom to tender nonsense complaints. Nothing satisfies them.

Ever.

I'm well-aware that the Black community is not a monolith. Things that I consider to be "normal" are completely weird to Blacks who've grown up under different circumstances. However, I do feel the proliferation of electronic media as well as the tidal wave of entertainment options has led to a compartmentalization of Black interests in media. This is a double-edged sword because it shows the incredible diversity of the Black marketplace, but it also creates an unrealistic expectation of satisfaction from every media product that cannot possibly be satiated.

What's worse, it removes the commonality of African experiences that shows/movies like The Cosby Show, Roots, The Best Man, Soul Food, Barbershop and even Black-ish centralize and celebrate.

I'm aware that many will disagree with my assessment, and that's cool. I don't mind differing opinions as long as they're informed opinions. People can have an opinion on anything, but some opinions have the benefit of deep consideration with real-world facts to back them up.

In the past 30 years, I've seen Black people get exactly what they want and then complain about something else in movies and TV. If some of you want a mainstream show where the Nation of Islam blows up a city block every week, that's not going to happen. While I don't EVER advocate that kind of stuff, there's nothing stopping any of the complainers from buying a digital camera system and creating a webseries showing all the revolutionary rhetoric they want.

But that would take time away from all the whining online.

B.

Monday, December 22, 2014

BLACK BOX PODCAST INTERVIEW: EPISODE #112 - CAREER, RACE IN COMICS, BRAVE NEW SOULS

On the latest Black Box Podcast, I was interviewed by ACTION LAB STUDIOS' Shawn Pryor about my career (Watson and Holmes, Thundercats, Transformers Rescue Bots, Brave New Souls, Andre The Giant), how to navigate the comics industry, the dangers of Black Geek Stockholm Syndrome and a host of other cool topics.

All real talk in this episode, y'all. Have a listen.

Feel free to share wherever you like! 


B. 


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I'm happy for BLACK PANTHER... however...



If you haven't heard by now, Marvel Entertainment has announced a BLACK PANTHER movie and the Black geek community has gone bonkers with virtual high-fives and backflips about the fact that they're finally getting a big-budget superhero movie with a Black lead. 

I’ve never been a fan of the Black Panther (my favorite Black superhero from Marvel was Night Thrasher from the NEW WARRIORS) but I will definitely check out the movie when it is released.

One of the unforeseen developments since the announcement of the film is the fear that this will overshadow the efforts of Black indie creators because the Black genre fans out there will have gotten what they’ve always wanted from the Marvel/DC entertainment machine: recognition.

A prominent Black indie comics creator wrote:

Great for DC, great for Marvel... It's about time. But it's only scratching the surface. There are so many talented creators out there who need support from the various comic book and film communities. How about we post more about them instead of giving so much more free advertisement to the ones who already have mega promotional vehicles?

And another wrote:

“Will independent Black comics matter after Black Panther is released? They just released one image and a title treatment - and I see a giant M-shaped shadow eclipsing an entire movement.

And another:

What does it mean, really, that we are getting a BLACK PANTHER movie? I mean, not just a knee-jerk reaction, but for comic movies with Black characters in general? There are many ways this film could go wrong so fast, but with the proven track record of Marvel Studios, I have to have some form of confidence in their ability to show this character the dignity and respect he deserves ...what does having a film like this mean for the future?

If you’ve spent any time on Black geek Facebook groups, message boards or blogs, you’d see repeated demands for mainstream studios to validate the existence of established Black superheroes to the point where it comes off like begging. For the last five years you couldn’t see a post about a Marvel movie without seventy-five pages of speculation of whether or not there was an Easter egg hidden in the background that spoke to the existence of Wakanda (the home of Black Panther).

Is this KLAW? If it is then Black Panther is close behind.

This phenomenon has been problematic for the Black indie comic book creator because whenever we’ve attempted to provide a quality alternative for these fans – our efforts have been generally met with apathy, cold shoulders, misplaced aggression and an overall assumption that our work is going to be shitty.

Worse, you’ll end up labeled as “bitter” or “angry” or “mad that nobody is buying what we’re selling.” *(Things people actually said to me).


…the deliberate critical rejection of Black independent film by Black spectators which manifests itself as a severe and bitter criticism of a Black independent film to the degree that no other commercial White studio film would be able to withstand nor would these Black spectators dare apply such ‘high standards’ to a White film.”

If you swap out the word “film” and replace it with “comics” then you’d get a good idea of what I’m getting at here. I wrote a blog piece describing this as BLACK GEEK STOCKHOLM SYNDROME and it definitely applies. We’ve got at least two generations of Black geeks unwilling or incapable of giving Black indie comics a chance.

Over the last few years I've learned that the great majority of Black geeks/comic book readers aren't really fans of COMIC BOOKS, they're mainly fans of the Marvel/DC brands. They have zero interest in indie Black material and no matter what we do or say, it will not move them in our direction. There will always be that 5% that is willing to give our material a chance and we should make sure our product is top-notch for those folks who will support us. 

The solution is to start reaching out internationally. I've begun to make connections with folks in the Caribbean and Asia because Black geeks in the U.S. have been hardwired since their youth to only accept Marvel and DC as viable means of graphic novel entertainment. It doesn't matter how horribly these fans are treated by Marvel and DC, it doesn't matter how few Blacks are hired behind the scenes, it doesn't matter how awful the storytelling is, these fans only want the same titles from the same sources regardless of quality. 

We have to keep creating and figure out ways to get a return on our investment. All the arguing, and pleading, and guerrilla marketing techniques have widely failed. Without a massive marketing budget for indie projects (because repetition of advertisements equals "higher quality" for those brainwashed by media) things aren't going to change. 


Solutions? 

1) Go international.
2) Attend as many local Black Expos as possible.
3) Connect with elementary and middle schools and see if you can have your work featured in their libraries… if your work is age-appropriate with decent subject matter.
4) Continue to get coverage with mainstream comic book and media sources.
5) Send packets to local universities to see if they are willing to bring you in to speak about your projects. This opens you up to a new audience without having to spend thousands of dollars you don't have on marketing. 

My colleagues have begun to focus their efforts away from the Marvel and DC crowd. It's such a waste of time to engage these folks because they'll simply never change.

Please don't take any of this as negativity, I wanted to provide a clear stream of thinking for those deeply concerned that the emergence of the Black Panther movie(s) will further obscure the existence of Black independent comic book creators. 

B. 


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Reflections on Turning 40...




Warning: Harsh language ahead...

In a couple of days, I'll be turning 40.

A lot of people see this as some kind of otherworldly milestone that requires endless celebratory nonsense but I've never been one to make a big deal out of my birthday.

I usually use the time to reflect on what I've learned in the previous 12 months and pray that I've become a better person in the ways that matter.

The past 39 years have not been a walk in the park. I had to leave my family much earlier than I preferred and spent many years hating myself for decisions that I never made - about situations I didn't create but had to deal with during my formative years.

By the time I hit 30, I felt I figured out everything I needed to know about life. By 35, I realized I didn't know a motherphuking thing about life, reality, the human soul or what love is supposed to be.

On the verge of 40, I've seen some crazy stuff happen with my family and friends and I've lost more than a few of both along the way. However, there have been lessons that I've learned that get me a little closer to spiritual peace and relaxation.

Feel free to share, discuss, compare and contrast if the mood hits you. No animals were injured during the production of this blog.


LESSONS BY 40:

1) A good chunk of people are selfish. There's nothing you can do about that. Selfishness manifests in multiple ways, but the best way to tell is if a person constantly "takes" and never gives you anything in return. Taking advice, money, food, time, space, clothing, job leads, other friends, lovers, etc. Yet, in your time of need, these folks are nowhere to be found. Selfish people aren't bad, but you cannot expect much from someone whose best friend is a mirror.

2) Family can be awesome but family can also destroy you. I know that parents and siblings like to run guilt trips as a form of manipulation. Don't fall for it. I realize honoring your family is a core social and cultural construct that helps maintain a stable civilization, but we often confuse "honoring" with "appeasement" or worse - enabling. No one is obligated to give up their dreams or a chance at success because their family needs something. If your family loved you, they'd want to see you happy instead of acting as a servant. Of course, go back to #1 if you need clarity.

3) You cannot hold other people accountable to your idea of success. This one was the hardest lesson to learn and accept. For a while, I truly believed that some of my friends needed a kick in the ass to get to the next level in their lives. I believed that seeing me struggle and fight and then achieve a measure of success would inspire them to pursue their goals and dreams. When they didn't do much with their lives, I began to lose respect and consider them underachievers. Whether or not they were "underachievers" is irrelevant because it is not my place to tell them how to live their lives.

I spent the better part of my 30s trying to help a few friends go to college, move to better cities, engage in healthy romantic relationships, start their writing career or just be happier people when I should have spent that time working on myself. Around 36, I decided that I wouldn't do anything else for anyone unless they specifically requested my assistance. I'm still dealing with this one, but I've learned to let go of my disappointment - after all, it's based on what I think my friends should be doing instead of what they want to do for themselves.

4) Ignore people who turn being "healthy" into a religion. I know I'm overweight. I deal with it everyday. I know I might die a little younger than others. That's life (no pun). There's a group of folks out there who plaster social media with images of tortured cows, chickens and sheep (because *gasp* we shouldn't eat meat). They take selfies with tall glasses of green sludge at fancy juicing bars. They specialize in sharing pics of them doing some ridiculous athletic activity. This wouldn't be an issue if the photos weren't accompanied by a fanatical smugness and sense of superiority about going to the gym and "eating right."

They remind me of born-again Christian nutjobs who believe they're responsible for saving the heathen masses from an eternity of suffering in the bowels of Hell. In the case of the health nuts, saving the masses from the hell within our bowels. A few have their hearts in the right place, but most are just being annoying and sanctimonious. See #3.

5) Get rid of sexual repression. If you believe I'm about to admit something salacious or scandalous, think again. I like women, always have liked women and will always like women. I'm not into BDSM or anything regarding pain or filth exchange, no bestiality, no kiddie porn, nothing illegal. Yet, there are things I like to do and like to see happen on a sexual level with consenting adults that I would have been ashamed to admit to myself in the past. I'm not telling you people any of that stuff but I will say that we all are sexual beings and many of us have desires that society makes us feel bad about (FYI - Not bisexual).

One of my core theories about what's wrong with our world is that many personal problems are the result of sexual repression. When humans repress what they desire or need to function on a regular basis, that repression often morphs into hatred, spite, anger and devious behavior. The best example of this can be found HERE - where a list of anti-gay activists are caught doing gay stuff in deviant situations. I'd argue that the men in that list repressed their natural feelings for so long that it turned into a crusade against their base nature. Who knows how many other people react violently because of repressed sexual impulses? I do know that when I stopped feeling ashamed or angry with myself about a few sexual desires, I had the best sex of my life.




7) Making declarative statements can solve problems before they begin. Here's a good one - if you have a girlfriend that you love but demands most of your time and attention and you also have friends you want to see on occasion what is the best way to navigate that situation?

a) "Hey babe, I'm going to see my buddies next week. I won't be out late, but I'm looking forward to catching up with blah blah blah."

or

b) "Hey babe, is it okay for me to hang out with my friends next week?"

If you said "b" then go watch the movie I LOVE YOU MAN and/or get a testosterone injection.

Of course any man worth his weight in salt will want to be considerate to his lover, but there comes a point when you have to show that you have your own life and interests. This doesn't just apply to dating, but also career, health, family and friendship. No one can read your mind no matter what the X-Men films would have you believe and if you don't say what you want, how you feel and what you need to be happy, then no one will know and you'll stay pissed off. It starts with a simple statement: What I need to be happy is...

8) Women respect strength. I get in trouble with women colleagues and friends because I say that women are as flawed as everyone else because they're human beings. This doesn't excuse rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment or intimidation, this just means that women can do fucked up stuff just like men, can be as shallow and superficial as men, can hurt other people in deep and everlasting ways just like men. I don't claim to know much about women because just when I thought I had it figured out, women changed the universe again so I've decided to just stop trying to reach any kind of conclusion on the opposite sex.

With that said, I have observed that women respect men with a backbone. They don't like wishy-washy guys who don't take a stand on anything or aren't working toward a goal. Women test men in small ways to see how far they can go with making you acquiesce to their demands. If you get past a tipping point, they will lose respect for you. Now, I'm not saying that a man should be a recalcitrant prick on every issue, but there comes a time when you have to stand up for your beliefs and show that you're willing to be an equal partner, not a pushover who hangs on the whims of a girlfriend because you're afraid of driving her away.



9) People take you seriously only after you achieve a few goals. During my 30s I was constantly working toward getting my graphic novel Shadowlaw published. Even though I really was waiting for my various art teams to finish the work, after a while it must have seemed that I was just another one of those "it's coming soon" creators on the scene. You know the type, always got some "project" just over the horizon or an excuse why their work hasn't hit the scene.

When I moved to LA in 2008, I didn't realize how tough it was for anyone to give you the benefit of the doubt. People in the industry do not believe anything they hear, only what they can see, which means that you better have something to show for your talents or else you'll end up in the wastebasket of human potential. I met a few creators here but I noticed that they kept me at arm's length despite me being earnest in my intentions of breaking into the screenwriting scene.

Then my graphic novel was released. Then I got some TV animation writing credits. Then I won a writing award for my graphic novel. Then I got signed to a new comic book company. Then got nominated for some more awards. Then I produced and directed my first documentary. All that stuff happened to me over the course of about 20 months. Now, influential and important people within the film and TV biz return my emails and phone calls. I get meetings with very talented writers and producers. Some would say it's common sense that an increase in output would equate to a growth in respect and recognition. I take everyone at face value and that's considered a positive by some and a negative by many. That's not something I plan on changing anytime soon.

10) Trust people until they give you a reason not to trust them. There's a dominant pathology out there that suggests you must always "cover your ass" (CYA) and "don't trust anybody" (DTA). I've always found that mindset to be a monumental waste of time.  An intelligent and logical person will always do what is necessary to protect their interests and assets. That comes with basic survival skills. The idea of not trusting anyone is kind of stupid unless you're kind of stupid too.

Here's why: all you have to do is learn how to read human body language and ask the right questions. It's not magic, it's not something you learn from watching The Mentalist, it's not a just a requirement for CIA agents. When I meet someone that claims to want to be a screenwriter, I ask them a few simple questions about their progress and process. If they're serious, I can tell instantly and I take them seriously. If not, I move on. It's that simple. You can apply to this any career or conversational situation. Serious people stand out, serious people have real answers - not amorphous rhetoric; serious people can back up everything they say, serious people don't have a need to show off.

The idea that everyone is out to get you with their hidden agenda is born from arrogance and narcissism. The only folks on Earth who actually have people out to get them are political heads of state, chairmen of central banks, CEOs of multinational corporations, law enforcement officers and drug lords. If you're not on that list, then you probably have an overdeveloped sense of self-importance.

I still believe that most people are good, but there's a lot of bullshit-minded jackasses out there who have nothing to contribute to our society. They're usually not hard to spot but for some reason, way too many of us assume those jackasses are the rule and not the exception.

Halfway through life... it's been a helluva ride so far.



B.