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Friday, January 30, 2015

CONVENTION - Come see me at Rod Library Comic Con in Cedar Falls on March 28th!

I am really psyched to announce my first convention of 2015! I will be appearing at the Rod Library Comic Convention at the University of Northern Iowa on March 28th!  I had a blast at last year's show and I'm excited that they were nice enough to invite me back this year!  I am taking pre-orders for sketches, haiku-and-a-hero sketch covers, and sketchcards, so hit me up to place an order!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

LOOT CRATE - January 2015: Rewind

It’s Loot Crate time!  My newest Loot Crate arrived over the weekend and is one of my favorite boxes yet.  This month’s theme is Rewind, so I was expecting everything to have a retro theme.  While they didn’t adhere super tight to this theme, the box was filled with a lot of really cool items.  Want to know what makes the box worth your cash?  Hit the jump to find out!

Friday, January 23, 2015

WWE Royal Rumble Predictions!

The second year of the WWE Network era begins this Sunday with the Royal Rumble!  I freaking LOVED the Royal Rumble as a kid and I’m very excited to see how this year’s event will play out.  After the hot crowd derailed the event last year, will they be happier this year? Will the show live up to the nostalgia-fueled expectations that I have for the first Royal Rumble that I’ve watched live since the mid-1990s?  Find out this Sunday and remember to follow me on Twitter for the live tweets, but in the meantime, check out my picks for the show!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Milestone Media and Me

This week it was announced that Milestone Media, one of the most exciting imprints in the comic book industry, is returning!  For those unfamiliar, Milestone was the brainchild of legendary creators Dwayne McDuffie and Denys Cowan, along with Michael Davis, Derek Dingle, and media icon Reggie Hudlin.  Debuting in 1993 as an imprint of DC Comics, Milestone was focused on bringing minorities in comics to the forefront, both in terms of creators and characters.  Their biggest property, Static, went on to become a worldwide phenomenon thanks to an award-winning animated series, though they also had hits on their hands with Hardware, Icon, Shadow Cabinet and more.  I was a huge fan of these comics growing up, which is a big surprise to most people.

To be honest, I probably wasn’t the target audience for Milestone’s titles.  When the imprint launched, I was a ten year old white kid in the one of the whitest cities in America.  Their books were on the mature end of the scale and focused mainly on minority characters.  It didn’t matter to me though, I was hooked.  Milestone had a unique voice for the comic book industry as it represented an end of our culture that had never been prominent in our industry in particular, but it was an entirely new voice to me altogether.  

I grew up in Dubuque, Iowa which, at the time of Milestone’s launch, was almost entirely white.  When I was kid, there would be a handful of non-white students in my school.  I had two African American friends when I was in first grade that lived down the street, but after I moved at the end of the year, I didn’t even meet another black student until high school.  When I was in elementary school, Dubuque made national headlines because of multiple cross-burnings and a rally held by the KKK.  For years, my hometown was known for little more than misplaced hatred.  It was heartbreaking to me as a kid and even to this day is something that I am incredibly ashamed to have seen happen.  Over the past twenty years, Dubuque has done its best to improve its image and to make up for the horrors committed by a small number of its inhabitants.  

I bring this up to help you understand why Milestone’s debut was so bold and shocking me as a ten year old growing up in this era of racial tension without having much exposure to anything but the white bread culture of a small Midwestern city.  Milestone’s characters were unlike anything I had seen.  All of the superhero comics I had read were about white guys from big cities modeled after the East Coast, but Milestone’s characters were unique and hip—and they were from the Midwest.  The comics were bold and action packed with great characters and awesome art.  Compared to Icon, Superman was just like every other superhero on the stands and I had seen enough of that.  I loved my traditional superheroes, but I wanted to know more about the culture that spawned these awesome new creations.

I may not have been the reader that Milestone had in mind when it launched in 1993, but those comics spoke to me.  Static was someone I wanted to be friends with.  Icon was the man I wanted to see take on all of the badass supervillains.  I can’t even begin to describe how cool and unique Blood Syndicate was to me.  Milestone opened me up to an avenue of American culture that I had never seen before and because of that, it has always held a special place for me.

Six years ago, Dwayne McDuffie was the special guest at a comic book convention in Minnesota that I regularly attend.  I had never met him, but dreamed of telling him just how much Milestone meant to me for all of the reasons that I’ve outlined above.  Unfortunately, I was only two weeks away from my wedding, so I had to pass on going to the show (though I did send my well-worn copy of Static #1 to get signed).  Sadly, McDuffie would pass away a few years later and I never did have a chance to talk with him about how much his creations meant to me—and how much of an inspiration he was to me as a writer.  I will always regret not going to that show.

So, Milestone Media is back and I could not be more excited.  Now how can I get on board as a writer?!

THE KING OF COOL #1 - Available Now!

Now available on Comixology - The King of Cool #1!  Written by me, with art from Scott Arnold and Jeff Fugelsang, and letters by Ben Glibert.  Check it out now! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

THE KING OF COOL #1 out tomorrow on Comixology!

I am very excited to announce that my long-awaited comic THE KING OF COOL #1 drops tomorrow on Comixology for the low price of $1.99!  This book has been in the works for the last year or so and, if successful, the creative team has agreed to finish out the story with the second and third chapters.  Joining me on the title are artist Scott Arnold, colorist Jeff Fuegelsang, and letterer Ben Glibert!

When the sleepy town of Eckhoff, Illinois is attack by an enormous alien monster in the 1950s, the townsfolk turn to the coolest cat they know, Clyde Cimmiyotti to save the day.  But can the arrogant Clyde overcome his own hubris to stop the invasion?  Find out in the exciting first issue, “Tentacled Terror Tango!

And should the response to this first issue be positive, follow the elderly Clyde’s adventures in the present day when an envoy of aliens arrive on Earth demanding answers for what happened in the first issue!

Friday, January 16, 2015

2014 TOP TEEN WEEK - Day 5: Comics

Top 10 week comes to a close!  I probably don’t spend enough time on this blog talking about what I’m reading comics-wise.  I tend to read most of my comics in spurts now that I am no longer writing weekly reviews (for those of you that don’t know, I spent several years writing the Comic Book Review Power Rankings for Weekly Crisis as “Ryan the Iowan”) and am currently buying my books just once a month rather than ever week.  I’ll drop some tweets here and there about comics that I’m reading, but for the most part I have been quiet this year about what comics I’m picking up.  As part of my 2014 recap, I wanted to talk briefly about 10 comics that I really dug this year.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014 TOP TEN WEEK - Day 4: WWE Network

One of my favorite parts of 2014 is having the WWE Network to fulfill my pro wrestling cravings.  I’ve been a big wrestling fan since I was a wee little lad, but I’ve had a lot of stops-and-starts in my viewing over the years.  After coming back to watch the WWE a few years ago, I was always bummed that I missed the pay-per-views, but thanks to the ultra-affordable WWE Network (just $9.99/month), I was able to watch all of the companies pay-per-views this year.  In hopes that more of you wrestling fans will pick up the Network for 2015 if you don’t have it already, here are my Top 10 PPV matches of the year that you need to catch up on!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2014 TOP TEN WEEK - Day 3: Movies

It’s Day 3 of Top Ten week!  Today I’m looking at my favorite movies of the year—the ones I’ve seen anyway.  I saw more movies this year in the theater than I have at any other point in my life and I’m glad that almost every movie I saw was a lot of fun.  Which movies were at the top of my list? Hit the jump to find out!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 TOP TEN WEEK - Day 2: Music

Top 10 week continues!  Today I’m looking at my favorite songs of 2014.  There are a few caveats to this list.  First of all, all of the songs were officially released singles.  While there were some really great deep tracks this year, I wanted to make sure all of the songs here were easily acceptable.  I’ll also be totally honest, this year more than others I listed mostly to modern rock on Sirius XM, particularly the AltNation and Spectrum stations.  While I do enjoy a lot of rap and harder rock, I didn’t get too much into them in 2014.  That being said, here are ten really great songs that I could not get enough of last year, plus two great honorable mentions.

Monday, January 12, 2015

2014 TOP TEN WEEK - Day 1: Cable Television

This week I am rolling out a series of Top 10 Lists celebrating my favorite things in pop culture for 2014!  We are going to hit up movies, music, television, wrestling, and comics this week, so you can learn all about what cool stuff really made the year for me.  Since I always do multiple Top 10 lists per year celebrating the best in network television, I wanted to mix up the television category by talking about the best shows on “cable” this year.  A pleathora of shows pushed boundaries and explored creative avenues untouched by the major networks, but which ones caught my eye?  Hit the jump to find out!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sorry/Not Sorry: Je Suis Charlie and Me

I have spent a lot of time thinking about the tragic massacre of 12 individuals at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris earlier this week.  We all have.  The more that I have thought about it, though, the more I have been torn over my reaction towards the situation.

The day of the shooting, myself and many others in the cartooning industry championed the hastag #JeSuisCharlie to show our solidarity with the victims and their families.  Many of us, myself included, posted images of our “weapons of choice.”  I posted a picture of me with my keyboard, while others posted pictures with pens, markers, pencils, and even styluses.  We wanted the world to know that we stood for free speech and that, as an industry, we would not back down.

We attack tragedy with art.  It is something that we are proud of and we damn well should be.  Whether its editorial cartoons or spandex-clad superheroes, we view the world through our creations—it’s how we deal with life.  We put our souls into our work and when one of our own is attacked for that, we stand together.  

That is what happened on Wednesday.  Talented people who believed in free speech were gunned down and the rest of us stood united.  I don’t apologize for that and I never will.  And yet, I'm still not entirely comfortable with my reaction.

I started to think about what “Je Suis Charlie” actually means…”I am Charlie.”

But I’m not “Charlie.”  I don’t want to be.  I have never been associated with the Charlie Hebdo magazine and, honestly, I would never want to be in even the smallest way.  While it poises itself as a satirical magazine, it has continually insulted and provoked a wide range of people.  It pushed the envelope and took no prisoners in attacking just about everyone.    The creators of the magazine took particular pleasure in attacking Muslims and, quite frankly, spat on the fact that those of the Islamic faith hold Mohammed so dearly by depicting him in humiliating ways on more than one occasion.  Even after their offices were bombed in 2011, they continued their assault on Islam.

In a lot of ways, Charlie Hebdo is a bully.  I don’t like bullies and I’m certainly not a bully myself.  I am not Charlie.  

I would never condone violence and I would never say that someone deserves to be killed.  I am disgusted by what happened to in Paris this week and I hope that those responsible are  held accountable for their crimes.  Yet, I cannot say in good conscience that I agree with Charlie Hebdo continually insulting and provoking Muslims.  Or anyone they insulted for that matter.  I have friends that would be heartbroken over how their faith was treated and that is not something I am willing to stand for, even in the wake of this tragedy.

Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing, but it is also difficult and it is not something that should be used without forethought.  No one should ever be murdered for the things that they say or the cartoons that they create.  But at the same time, we should not abuse something so beautiful and powerful by attacking others.  What good is a freedom if it is not handled responsibly?

So, I would like to rescind my use of #JeSuisCharlie and replace it with #JeSuisUnArtiste.  I am not Charlie, but I am an artist.  And I will stand by those who believe in art and wish to create, but I will ask them to use that power respectfully.

The keyboard is my weapon and I will use it wisely.  When you pick up yours, I ask that you do the same.