Wednesday, October 31, 2012

DOMINION'S LIGHT: The Graphic Novel Kickstarter!

The development of Dominion's Light began back in 1998 when I looked around the pop culture landscape and realized that there was no fantasy/sci-fi series that combined the elements of all the stories I love.

I wanted to tell a story of adventure, excitement, friendship, sacrifice and daring that took place in a world never seen in the graphic novel arena. While there have been many fantasy-based comic book titles over the years like Elfquest, Dragonlance, Elric and Battle Chasers, but none of them have collectively touched on themes that mattered to me nor did they feature an ethnically-diverse cast of characters.

Heroic fantasy like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time and the Dragonlance franchise have influenced and mesmerized writers for many years, but the core criticism is that they present high concept Western European adaptations of reality that omit the vast diversity that exists in our own world.

After a lengthy search for a conceptual designer a few years ago, I discovered Jeff Stokey (, a very talented artist who shared my love of unique science-fiction and visually stunning fantasy universes. Jeff immediately understood what visual aesthetic I wanted for the story because of his own immersion in gothic and heavy metal artwork, science-fiction and fantasy cinema as well as the complex conceptual art of major RPG video game franchises.

Unfortunately, Jeff's schedule quickly became crowded and we were forced to push Dominion's Light further and further away until we decided to amicably part ways as colleagues on this project.

After an exhaustive search for a new artist, I found DAWID STRAUSS ( - who worked in gaming and comics for seven years on projects like the MARVEL SUPER HERO SQUAD trading cards, DUNGEON RUNNERS and the smash hit sequel DARKSIDERS II.

Dominion’s Light is the story of three young people who are united by tragedy. Reso is a young man betrayed by his own father in order to alleviate gambling debts, Kyshia is a woman whose mysterious powers get her labeled as a witch and nearly executed by a mob and then there is Hammerius Rex, future prince of the LizardMan kingdom who is exiled by his peers.

And finally, there is Lord Valgon, sure to be a controversial character as he will be the first African-American villain in a fantasy setting since James Earl Jones in the original Conan movie.

Our story begins as the nations of Graid'yan are healing from the last great global conflict between the Lizardman kingdom and the race of warrior-sorcerors of Cerist Lunisia in the North. The war ended in a stalemate with both sides retreating to their respective lands and leaving the rest of the world in ruin.

The combatants were in search of the mystical power source known as the CYCLEAN BIBLE - a power so great that it can bend the nature of space, time and reality. Allowing the user to reshape the universe in their own image. Unbeknownst to the majority of people in Graid'yan, the only way to access the Cyclean Bible is through the use of the KEY ULTIMA - a device that reveals the true location of the Bible and the only thing in the universe that can unlock those energies.

Lord Valgon and his ruthless forces - the Valgonath Reapers - are scouring the world searching for the Key Ultima at the same time Resoloth goes on a quest to help his wayward father. After a deadly confrontation, Resoloth is on the run from the Reapers and comes into contact with the recently exiled Hammerius Rex and Kyshia, a teen girl condemned as a witch.

Can these three overcome their differences and survive the upcoming onslaught? Or is destiny playing a role in uniting such disparate creatures?

Dominion's Light will be a journey unlike any other you've seen before. From the windswept prairies of NERISTAD to the Las Vegas-inspired party islands of NEYONEEM to the lush Lizardman kingdom of MILLSREX to the strange, frigid wasteland of TERIST MALHAVIK to the final battle on the shores of GRAYHOLD. 

Our goal of $20,000 (US) is meticulously and carefully budgeted to cover the expenses of the art team of the graphic novel (pencils, inks, colors) as well as the cost of the nifty rewards you see here. Rest assured that your donation will 100% go toward the production of my dream.


Sunday, August 12, 2012


In this episode of WRITING FOR ROOKIES (the only podcast dedicated to the aspiring sci-fi, comic book and Hollywood screenwriter), I interview Dale Wilson of DWAP Productions, The Antidote Trust and

Dale Wilson is one half of DWAP Productions, founder and Editor in Chief at, a Creative Editor at The Search Agency, a founding member of The Antidote Trust & a comic book creator/publisher. Dale has written several stories for DWAP Productions’ four-issue anthology Caffeine Dreams, the online comic collection & other cutting edge sequential art.

Dale is not only a connoisseur of fine heavy metal and hard rock, but he has been in the American independent comic book scene for ten years and has seen so much in terms of how the business operates and the sacrifices a creator must make to survive. 

If you haven't gotten the chance to listen, Writing for Rookies is the ultimate resource for sci-fi and comic book writers who are new to the scene and want to learn how the business works from an honest perspective.

Writing for Rookies gives you real advice that you can actually apply in the real world for results. Check it out and let your friends know if you like it!


Monday, July 30, 2012

"I'M BROKE" (a.k.a.) Economics and the Indie Creator...

The New York Comic Con is on the way and in my humble opinion, it is the best comic book oriented comic book convention in the country. That might sound like a weird statement, but the reality is that most of the bigger conventions would be better described as POP CULTURE celebrations than anything remotely to do with the world of comic books. 

The NY Comic Con is still overbooked, poorly-organized and thirty-degrees hotter on the floor. The lines are outrageous and there is no true customer service. However, there is tremendous support for the indie comic book creator, and that alone makes it worth the trip.

The few times I've gone the floor has been packed solid, easily taking ten minutes to walk ten feet. And that's just the thing, the entire floor is packed with rabid fans of comic books. It's not the kind of show where the big budget Hollywood booths get all the attention. No, more often than not, you'll have just as much of a struggle getting to see someone on the "indie creator" side of the Hall as you would at the Marvel Entertainment booth.

Friends of mine who had never done a show before went to NY Comic Con 2011 and were blown away. One guy I know never had a table at any show in his entire life and was genuinely affected by the amount of recognition and respect he got for his comic and CD.

The point of this particular blog entry isn't to sing the praises of the NY Comic Con, nor is it to provide a recap of the proceedings. Rather, I want to provide a guide for my cohorts in the world of independent comic and graphic novel creation to consider new and exciting ways of getting to this convention despite a notorious lack of cash flow. 

To begin, I am 100% understanding of life getting in the way of our dreams. Kids, sick parents, bad marriages, sibling wars and a general lack of income can stop the most determined and talented creator from networking on a professional level. As with so many things, the comic book industry is a double-edged sword: on one hand, you get unprecedented levels of access to decision-makers and admired creative teams, and the other, you must be able to afford to show up in person. 

And there's the rub.

Sadly, money is everything, and everything is money. To understand the significance of ME saying that you'd have to know me personally. I'm not a money-grubbing person. I don't place a lot of value on what people drive, what they dress like, how much they own or where they live. I could care less about "bling" (such a stupid word, it's onomatopoeia for Christ's sake) and care everything about content of character. 

That said, the indie comic creator is - for all intents and purposes - dooming themselves to a life where a "real" gig is necessary and the act of creation is done in between long shifts at a job we just can't stand. I know the story. I did it for 15 years. It never got easier. 

However, even during the darkest times, I managed to get to a few key shows that would later be revealed as major turning points in my life. 

For example: 

SAN DIEGO COMIC CON 1999 - I begged, borrowed and scraped together enough money for a round-trip ticket to San Diego from Boston. I didn't have a place to crash, but I managed to rely on the kindness of a college pal. Because of the connections I made at that convention, it would eventually lead to my first gig at Dreamwave Productions. 

SAN DIEGO COMIC CON 2003 - I had scraped together money for airfare, but I had no place to stay and no ticket to get into the con. I stayed at the filthiest YMCA on Earth for one night and then crashed on floors and hotel lobbies, pretending to be locked out of my room. It was the first time I ever signed autographs as a creator and I made strong connections that would lead to me learning about indie comics studios looking for more talent. 

WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO 2006 - Again, scraped money together for airfare, but no place to stay. I crashed on the floor of my then-artist partner on Shadowlaw for one night. I stayed up until 4am and then slept at the airport the following day before leaving. At this con, I signed the contract for Shadowlaw to be released through Arcana Comics.

I can't speak on or give solutions to anyone's financial problems. It is not my place and I wouldn't disrespect anyone by suggesting otherwise. My core point is that you never know what can happen when you go to a convention. Especially a convention that is mired in the love of comic books and where there is a massive crowd voraciously buying independently-produced comics and animation.

I know a lot of ridiculously talented creators who (for all intents and purposes) are locked into their native region or their current habitat because of financial limitations. Creators with work ten times better than the stuff cranked out by the Big Two who can't get enough traction with the fans because of market invisibility. 

As a side note: I firmly believe that Wizard Magazine - for all its shortcomings - did a good job in hyping up new and unknown writing talent. Social media can only go so far and for an indie comic book creator to gain a large audience, they need to have some kind of mainstream validation. Whether working on a big title or having someone else in pop culture let folks know you exist (like Entertainment Weekly).

So what is the solution? Other than taking on a slew of part-time jobs and/or getting involved in illegal activities, there's no other way to get money quickly these days. However, there are ways for the struggling indie creator to make it to the big shows. 

1) Cheap airfare. Believe it or not, you can find good round-trip deals if you book well-enough in advance. I just checked for a round-trip flight from LAX (Los Angeles) to JFK (NYC) airports and the going rate is $299.61. That. Ain't. Bad. I used but you are free to use, or Priceline. I've always had the best luck with Lowestfare but good luck with your search. 

2) Lodging. Now this is the tough one. Especially in NYC. The best thing to do is: a) hope you know someone who can put you up for a few days in NY/NJ; b) Book a room and then split it with 5 other people; or c) Show up in NYC and check out the hostels and motels around town. They aren't the best environments, but you will get a place to sleep for a reduced price for a few days. 

3) Ask someone for the money. I know. It sucks. It sucks ass. However, think of it as an investment in yourself. Swallowing pride now means that you won't be swallowing Ramen later. 

Again, I don't wish to tell anyone how to live. But NY Comic Con is worth it. 

Trust me. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

GEEK RACISM (a reaction based on experience)


READ THIS FIRST!!! (hate to give you homework, but nothing will make sense unless you explore these words):


This is a great exploration of race privilege. As a man who has been into the geek stuff for years, I enjoyed that article because the comments section reveals something else about American life - hardcore geeks can be the most racist people on the planet. 

This is a subject that has plagued me for decades. Being the only Black guy in a room full of White geeks who have no desire to get to know me and share our collective passion for Sci-Fi and Fantasy properties feels like crossing the valley into the promised land only to find it filled with Donkey carcasses and biting flies.

I've long been the kind of guy who is willing to accept anyone in my life, regardless of race, class or gender. I used to catch a lot of heat for being friends with "weirdos" - my high school years were renown for me keeping a motley assortment of buddies. We were outcasts, not "cool" enough for the in-crowd, but nowhere near physically repulsive enough to be included with the truly marginalized around campus.

My in-crowd friends never understood why I, a somewhat "good looking" guy, spent my spare time around a bunch of losers and wimps. What they didn't grasp was that the only thing that mattered to me was whether or not someone "got" my jokes and obscure pop culture references.

That was it.

In fact, that's all that matters to me NOW.

I can vibe with anyone as long as they know what a Flux Capacitor is; or know what I mean when I say the words "Tears in rain..."; or when I say the "matrix of leadership" that I'm not referring to the Keanu Reeves movie; or I don't have to explain anything after uttering the phrase "Dark Phoenix Saga." If you understand any of that, we could be friends.

Alas, that's not how the real world works.

You see, there's this thing called racism. Or a better term would be Western White Supremacist Psychological Hegemony. It's the ingrained and unspoken belief shared by just about anyone born in the Western hemisphere that White skin is "better," white people are smarter and imbued with inherent virtue, poor people are the victims of their own stupidity and laziness, gays and lesbians are afflicted with deep mental imbalances and that anything other than the standard nuclear family structure will engineer the downfall of a society.

This mode of thinking is like the force of gravity. It's everywhere, affecting everything. Pushing and pulling on us at all times without us ever realizing it. However, without it - like gravity - life would be much different, and like gravity, it takes an extraordinary amount of force and effort to resist and counteract its influences (see Frederick Douglass, MLK jr., Malcolm X, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks).

I used to be the world's biggest naive idealist. Captain America without the irony. Superman before 1980. Yea, that was me. I used to believe that anyone into comics, sci-fi, animation, video games etc., would be automatically "better" than the layperson. I figured that anyone with the mental faculty to connect with the lofty intellectual and societal concepts within most decent genre material would be above the petty contrivances of race and ethnic strife.

Enter big boot kicking me squarely in the ass.

I've had far too many situations to relate here. Too many examples of how uncomfortable I've been made to feel at conventions and panels. Too many stories of how I've made someone visibly uncomfortable with my presence. Once you learn how to read human body language, you can immediately identify those who fear you and/or are deeply bigoted individuals. While I won't give you an academic treatise on how and why folks behave this way, I can sum it up this way:

Some White sci-fi/fantasy fans look upon sci-fi and fantasy as a "refuge" from a constantly "browning" pop culture that automatically (in their minds) alienates and confuses them. These all white fantasy worlds are their only respite from the (imagined) Black hordes of pop culture and the moment they hear that their pristine genre worlds are going to be "touched" by Blackness, they lose their minds because they feel that we are "taking" something else from them. I call it the NASCAR/NHL effect. Hardcore white fans of both tend to react negatively to increased participation from Blacks and Latinos. 

These folks also tend to ignore the existence of Black nerds, preferring to assume that we all are gun-totin', blunk-smokin', Sam Jackson-soundin' hip-hop junkies without the intellectual ability to imagine alternate worlds and other modes of thinking. Whenever the subject of race comes up, they cannot understand why this conversation exists in the first place. Why should we care about race: 1) Blacks don't read/write sci-fi, 2) the author/creator can put anyone he/she wants into their story, 3) diversity shouldn't matter in xxxxxxxxx setting because xxxxxxxxx, 4) the thematic intent and plot of the story doesn't need to include race, it's already a comment on oppression. 

Anyone who has been to a big comics and sci-fi convention recently can tell you that the crowds are super diverse with many Blacks, Latinos, Asians and Native folks engaging in cosplay and involved as professionals in the business. What's hilarious about many geeky people of color is that they also don't prefer to read sci-fi/fantasy with a racial element, preferring to enjoy the all-white universes of Tolkein and his ilk. If some of these White geeks could get past their own racist mental programming, they would realize a fundamental truth - we are all the same at the end of the day. Sure, there are some differences, but if two folks can kick back and enjoy AVENGERS or RANGO or STAR TREK  together, regardless of their station in life, haven't we moved toward the progressive worlds we love exploring? 

I shouldn't react so strongly to the comments made on the internet. Cowardice is the rule of the day online. Anonymity is liberating for the phony tough. But it wouldn't sting so much if I wasn't 100% sure that for every person behaving like a racist neanderthal online, there were another 1,000 silently nodding their head in agreement. 


Saturday, April 14, 2012

COMIC BOOK WRITERS: How to Hire an Artist?

I regularly meet novelists, screenwriters, playwrights and other interested parties who believe that creating a graphic novel will jump start their careers. There are many resources out there that teach writers how to format their ideas into a compelling comic book script but there are precious few that explain how writers can hire or find artists to draw their work.

The two best websites for finding quality artistic talent over the years have been:



I suggest doing proper research on how to format an "artist want ad" and then taking your chances there.

I do a free online podcast series called WRITING FOR ROOKIES that explains this subject in greater detail. My second episode deals exclusively with how to hire artists and what to look out for when you're trying to get the best art team for the money:

My general pointers are:

a) Make sure that you have a budget in mind and know how many pages you want for your story (24 pages for a single issue, 96-128 for a graphic novel). A 96-page book can run anywhere between $6,000 - $12,000 to fully produce unless you set up a deal with your art team.

b) Have a fully completed script. Don't write it as the art team draws it.

c) Understand that you will need to hire a penciler, inker, colorist, and letterer - many pencilers do their own inking and some pencilers do their own coloring too - you need to know exactly what your art team is best suited for.

d) Be selective of the art team. Find an artist whose style matches the exact visual sensibility that communicates what your story is like at first glance. Guys who draw in the SpongeBob style probably won't suit a Punisher or Daredevil kind of story. Don't hire the first people who respond to your ad. There will be HUNDREDS of responses to your ad and you should set aside the time to look at every email. You will find the person you're looking for.

e) Create a separate business email account. Once you post up an ad at or DeviantArt, expect a large volume of responses.

f) I would say only to hire an artist in the U.S., not because international talent isn't any good, but because it's harder to track down someone who lives in Brazil or Indonesia if they decide to flake out on the project. Best case scenario: hire someone in your own city. It's difficult, but it will help keep your project on track when you can GO to their house to find out what's taking so long with them completing the work.

g) Expect delays and plan around them. I've NEVER, EVER dealt with an art team that stuck to deadlines. There's always going to be a reason they can't meet the deadlines so plan to add at least 2-3 weeks to your production schedule. Don't tell them that, but make sure you leave that extra space.

h) If the person you hired doesn't look like they want to finish, then you fire them and get the money back (or the percentage owed to you for uncompleted work). Make sure that this is in the contract: if the artist(s) don't finish the work, they must refund whatever you've paid them minus the work they have completed.

i) Don't get into bidding wars with artists (i.e. "You're not paying me enough per page!" or "I used to work for Marvel/DC/Dark Horse etc. and I got paid $XXXX per page!") If this happens, walk away immediately. There are about 5 guys out there who pull this stunt every single time. The same dude has responded to my ads over the years and tries to pull this crap until I remind him that he has done this to me already.

j) Remember that you're now a boss/manager. Be steady, be fair, but protect your assets. If the integrity of your work is damaged, then you need to be ready to hire a whole new group of people. Don't tolerate half-ass attitudes and diva behavior. The comics market is tough and sub par work does not get you recognized.


Monday, March 12, 2012

What's Wrong with THE OFFICE? (And How to Fix It)...

I don't watch as much TV as I used to; mainly because I don't have as much time and also because I don't care about the endless barrage of shitty celebrity reality series and repetitive cop and thriller dramas that litter the airwaves.

There are a few sit-coms (remember those wonderful things many of us grew up on in the 1980s?) that I have come to enjoy like The Big Bang Theory, 30 Rock, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the U.S. version of The Office. Admittedly, I was a latecomer to The Office as I wasn't particularly excited by the original U.K. version and saw that the first NBC season resembled deadpan attempts at British humor but in an American context.

That rarely - if ever - succeeds.

I had discovered The Office on Netflix and streamed every single episode from season 1 through 4. I watched them repeatedly and memorized entire blocks of dialogue. Steve Carrell was an absolute joy to watch, his comedic timing and general line delivery choices as an actor were as close to perfect as you could get. As the show moved away from the tone and tenor of the U.K. version, the U.S. Office developed it's own unique spin on the core love story of Jim and Pam.

I started watching the show regularly at the beginning of the 5th season. This year marked an interesting turn as Michael Scott would quit Dunder-Mifflin and form his own competing paper company in the bowels of the office park. While there are a few gems from the 5th season, the cracks in the creative identity of the series become glaringly apparent. The reality-grounded world of Scranton, PA became a weird cartoon version of itself.

And this leads to my main problem with The Office:

The humor of the show was derived by the "real world" reaction to Michael Scott's antics - if every other character on the show becomes zany and wacky, there's nothing to compare Michael Scott with - and the entire series turns from an off-the-wall examination of a boss at an obscure paper company into a slapstick free-for-all featuring a staff who each pretend to be a different member of the Three Stooges.

At the onset of the show, Jim is shown to be an everyman stuck in a meaningless job who dreams of a sports journalism career in a big city. The "twist" with his character was that he was in love with a co-worker who was already engaged to be married. So far, so good. As time went on, Jim turned from a lovesick schmoe into a calculating prankster ultimately interested in taking Michael's job. He wound up getting the girl and in the process destroyed the pathos that made his character endearing in the first place.

I've said it for the last couple of years, but I believe the series finale should have been the wedding of Jim and Pam in season 6. Everything that could have been done with those characters had been accomplished.

It was a natural ending for the show: Jim got Pam, and by extension, Michael gets the "family" that he always wanted. If you recall, during the end credits sequence, there is a scene that shows Pam's mother pulling Michael into her hotel room, presumably to have sex. That ending was perfect because it leaves us with much speculation about what happens next in Jim and Pam's life.

Side note: I can't remember the last time a TV sitcom managed to be so funny and so romantic simultaneously.

This ending leaves the franchise open for a possible series of one-shot TV specials or even a big movie version further exploring the world of Dunder-Mifflin, Scranton Branch.

Want another example of a character who was changed far too much: Oscar.

In the early years, Oscar was a very normal man who occasionally injected bits of logic and intelligence into office conversations whenever Michael started going on a ridiculous tangent about a ludicrous brainstorm. Then the writers made him incredibly interesting by slowly teasing his homosexuality. In one of the best reveals of a TV character's sexual preference, Oscar is shown living with his boyfriend and then is outed by Michael in one of the greatest episodes of comedy I've ever seen in my life ("Gay Witch Hunt," Season 3, Episode 1).

Compare the Oscar haunted by his desire for privacy at work with the preening, self-righteous know-it-all he's become now. Oscar's character is defined by his desire to be the smartest guy in the room, everybody's feelings be damned.

Angela was a cold-hearted cat lady who morphed into a jealous, bitter, manipulative, hyper conservative, borderline insane nutcase who uses sex as a weapon. It sounds cool on paper but in the end, Angela is less Bette Davis and more like Natasha from the "Rocky & Bullwinkle" cartoons.

Darryl had tremendous potential as the down-to-earth warehouse foreman who was held back by Michael's strange racist paternalism but then was given an opportunity to move up in the company by the new owner. By the time the writers got a handle on the new Darryl, he then changed into an underachiever who would try to bully his friend Andy out of the Regional Manager position. Of course, Darryl worked best when he was pitted against Michael's foolishness as the voice of reason and common sense.

Now I know I've left out Dwight, Creed, Andy, Kelly, Meredith, Kevin (DO NOT CHANGE KEVIN, the dude is hilarious no matter what he does or says) and the rest. I could write an entire book about my issues with the show but I'm sure you've gotten the gist of my concerns.

Steve Carrell leaving did not harm the integrity or comic sensibilities of the series; making everyone a different version of Michael Scott has and that is what needs to be changed if the show is expected to continue (which is a shaky proposition since Mindy Kaling "Kelly" and Rainn Wilson "Dwight" have been offered development deals for other shows) then they need to make a few simple changes:

1) Have something bad happen to a couple of the side characters. I love Erin, but she could die a horrible death and that would get the show back to reality. Imagine how a lovesick Andy would behave after Erin's death and think of how the other characters would stop feeling sorry for him for having a jerky family that shuns him?

2) Get back to real office situations. So much of the humor was derived from the mind-numbing minutiae of office politics and they need to explore how technology and globalization effects the lives of 21st century workers.

3) Have real antagonism develop and have the staff draw battle lines. This is something that hasn't really been done on the show yet. A real office civil war.

4) Change the love-story dynamic. They've already done the "guy loves girl he can't have" thing with Jim & Pam, they did a twisted version with Dwight & Angela, they're doing it again with Andy & Erin and they're starting it with Darryl & Val (the new female foreman of the warehouse). ENOUGH! Find other, sexier, ways of getting people together other than the tired "Moonlighting" approach. And we saw what happened when Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd's characters got it on.

5) Consequences. Whatever happened to them? Michael learned the consequences of dating Jan, his former boss. Jim learned the consequences of being too close to Pam before she broke up with her fiancee. Stanley learned the consequences of not dealing with his feelings on top of his poor health and lousy diet. People can do just about anything on The Office and there isn't anything learned. When the characters stop learning, they stop growing, and they become less interesting.

So that's that.

Do you agree? Disagree?

Let me know what you think.


Monday, February 13, 2012


Sorry for the lack of updates everyone!

Things have been insane lately but the news is this:

-I got hired last year to write for the new Warner Bros. reboot of THUNDERCATS.

-My book Shadowlaw has been released to an immediate nationwide sell-out.

-Here's two excellent reviews of Shadowlaw: the first is from the internationally renown geek news site AIN'T IT COOL NEWS, and the other is from a brand new comic book site called COMICBOOKED.COM.

-I've been hired to work on two new graphic novel properties, one of which is with Anthony Montgomery, star of Star Trek: Enterprise and VH1's Single Ladies.

-The Shadowlaw website is HERE!

-And the press release from Arcana Studios (along with links to other press and media I've had) is HERE!

Anyone interested in buying the book can go to their local comic book store and give them this order code
(SEP110748) or try or Barnes & Noble.

As always, I hope everyone reading this is shooting for their dreams!