Kickstart the Comic – Gilded Age: Vol 1 – A Steampunk Graphic Novel

As I wrote last week, this Kickstarter has been a long time coming for me. There have been many late nights struggling over scripts or waiting for edits or all those moments receiving a new piece of artwork – it has built to this.I’m hopeful this is the next step in being able to tell stories within the comic book medium.

I love writing about these characters. I’m hopeful this is the next step in being able to tell more stories about them. And I’m looking forward to meeting the other members of The Gilded Age who have not appeared yet.

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The Gilded Age

From Terminus Media

John McGuire – Writer

Sheldon Mitchell – Artist

António Brandão – Artist

Sean Hill – Artist

Rich Perotta – Inker

Tom Chu – Colors

Nimesh Morarji – Colors

Lavata O’Neal – Graphic Novel Cover Artist

Khari Sampson – Letterer/Copy Editor

Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, November 17, 2017 at 11:59 PM EDT.

The Pitch:

We are raising funds primarily to get the Graphic Novel, The Gilded Age Vol. 1, printed. 100 pages collecting the first four issues of the comic book.

The Story:

The Gilded Age is about a group of performers, the Branning Troupe. Half actors and half carnival folk, the group travels throughout the countries of Victorian Era Europe. For some it offers a direction to their lives, others get the adoration of the crowds, and the rest find simple refuge from a world which has cast them out.

Each story would be done-in-one. They would tell stories that could be enjoyed by anyone picking up a random issue. The issues would have overlapping characters, but by and large, each issue would focus on one or a pair of characters.

The key would be that I was slowly building up my world. And making the readers care about various characters by giving each the screen time they deserved. And by doing this I allowed for different types of stories within the same world. Whether that is Western or Horror or a Heist or something Fantastical, the hope has always been to build the world from the character’s eyes rather than try and hit you with one thousand years of history.

The Gilded Age – Issue #2 – Page 12 – Pencils – Sheldon Mitchell – Inks -Rich Perotta – Colors – Thomas Chu

John’s Thoughts:

Comics have always been this way to connect with stories. Even before I was a “book reader”, I devoured comics. As the years went by, that never changed. I’m sure many of you have that same thing where you just can’t get something out of your system. Whether it is the collaborations or the characters or the universes or the ability to tell a story with a limitless visual budget or a way to connect to a younger version of myself…

I think it is all those things and a thousand others. I think it is about someone holding something your brain thought up and thinking – “Hey, that was pretty cool.”

However, the path of the indy comic creator is full of potholes. Money runs out, print runs don’t happen, and you’re constantly torn between this odd thing of people devaluing your work (“It costs how much!?!”). This Kickstarter will help push the comic to a place where it can start funding itself… hopefully into an issue 5 and 6 and 7 and…

The Gilded Age – Issue #3 – Page 5- Art – Antonio Brandao – Colors – Nimesh Morarji

The Rewards:

The Kickstarter is for the first trade of the series which collects issues 1 through 4. There are the options to get either a pdf or the print version sent to you. At the $40 level there is a chance to get the anthologies Terminus put out in the past. At the $60 level there is an opportunity to not only get Gilded Age but also Route 3 (if you missed that Kickstarter).

If being drawn as one of the Gilded Age Carnival Folk is more your style, there is an opportunity to do just that at the $300 level.

The Verdict:

Obviously, you should give this one a try, but I might be biased about such things (*might*).

Seriously though – so many comic book Kickstarters are looking for funds to even come into being. That is a different kind of crapshoot as you can never be 100% sure the book is going to be completed. This is a FINISHED trade. All this money is going to print costs just so that I can get this out there and into people’s hands.

The Gilded Age – Issue #4 – Page 4 – Art – Sean Hill – Colors – Nimesh Morarji

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I’d like to thank you in advance for checking the project out! For more information on The Gilded Age, check out the Facebook here. If you’d like to know more about the rest of Terminus Media’s comics, check out their Facebook here.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age which is currently LIVE on Kickstarter!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to keep up with all things Gilded Age.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at tesseraguild.com

New Blog Series over on TesseraGuild.com – Steampunk Fridays

I’ve started a new blog series on TesseraGuild.com called Steampunk Fridays. So far I’ve done interviews with Steampunk indy comic creators, role-playing game reviews, and even a Kickstarter review.

They post every (obviously) Friday here.

The Gilded Age Issue #1 For Free

I’m currently running a promotion where the first issue of my Steampunk Comic: The Gilded Age is free to download.

https://www.instafreebie.com/free/2V0z3

or if you are already a member of Noisetrade you can find it here:

http://books.noisetrade.com/johnmcguire/the-gilded-age-1

The only thing you’ll need to do is provide your email address.

A little about The Gilded Age:

Welcome to the world of The Gilded Age.

1877. The full dawn of Industrial Revolution has collided with the twilight of the age of magic and alchemy, leading to a most curious progeny: self-aware clockwork men. Man-made machines, with clockwork gears and steam-powered joints, serve man even as the followers of the old ways continue to nurse growing resentment of these new creations.

Trying to find its own way in this world, the Branning Troupe, made up of actors and carnival folk, moves throughout Europe performing its acts night in and night out. For some, the Troupe offers a direction to their lives; others seek the adoration of the crowds. For all, it represents a fragile, simple refuge from a world which has cast them out. They are a new family. And each member has their own desires and secrets…

Each issue of The Gilded Age is a complete story (“Done in One”) focusing on different members of the Branning Troupe. This allows for a wide variety of stories to be told: heists, western, horror, and fantasy.

And there is also now a Facebook site for all things Gilded Age:

www.facebook.com/TheGildedAgeComic

Dragon Con Memories

We’re days away from another year of Dragon Con.

Dragon Con 2014

Dragon Con is this weird thing for me because it has always been there. I believe the very first time I went I was 15 or 16 and Chad’s dad dropped us off and then picked us up some time later. It is where I first realized that there were these comic book conventions, and where I got my very first comic autographed (issue 300 of Amazing Spider-Man by Todd McFarlane). We were only there for a few hours, but my mind was blown, and I resolved to come back again the following year.

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Of course that promise was blown away the very next year when family commitments meant I couldn’t attend and ended up missing a DnD session run by Tracy Hickman (of Dragonlance fame). For the weeks afterward my friends all made sure to let me know what I missed out on.

A year later the Magic the Gathering frenzy had taken over. You had to wake up early, stand in line for some crazy amount of time, and if you were lucky you would get 1 pack of Legends. Now I know that must sound crazy to think that the current set could not be bought at any random comic store, but it was the world we were living in.

The years went by and most of the time I tried to ensure I’d go at least two of the three days. And then when it became a four-day con, I pretty much stuck to  the two days anyway. At the time it felt like they were expanding just to do it… I mean, I could see 90% of what I wanted in 2 days, why bother with 3.

But then a curious thing happened… friends began to move away or maybe they lost interest into going. And soon that group of 10 or so that made it where no matter what panel you wanted to go see or what deal was going on in the Dealer’s room – you’d know about it and have someone to share in the experience. I don’t know about you, but doing things by myself means there is no one to nudge when you see that “cool thing”.

And not long after that, I was the only one going to con… and it became strictly a 1 day thing for me.

I carried the flag for those “dark” years for my group of friends. Sure, I might see a couple of people I knew, but that old core group was nowhere to be found… and it lessened things a bit.

Then came Firefly and Serenity.

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For most of this time my wife avoided Dragon Con. It was something I think that amused her from a distance. That “thing” John did around Labor Day. Every year I’d ask and nudge and hint that I thought she’d have a great time if she just did 1 day with me.

And she always put it off. Maybe next year. Maybe next year.

Then came Firefly and Serenity. And a panel at Dragon Con with pretty much the whole damn cast.

And I had her.

And she came to Con, and saw the panel, and then saw that Charlene Harris and TruBlood was there and sat in on another panel. And we spent the evening watching the costume contest with some good friends in their room on closed circuit enjoying room service.

That’s all it took.

And suddenly I wasn’t alone anymore. I had my best friend to nudge and point at a cool costume and to experience things with and just enjoy this piece of my own life with her.

Soon enough some of the other friends have drifted back (here and there) to the con. And I get to meet up with newer friends as well… guys and gals I may not have seen in months.

It’s glorious.

At the end of Dragon Con I’m always hit with a slight melancholy. No matter how much I enjoyed myself or even on those years I was bummed out about being by myself… I would still get it. That idea of all these people who shared some passions with me… all these people who said fuck it, I want to enjoy what I want to enjoy and not worry if I look or act silly during these 4 days. I love that about Dragon Con. I love people watching. I love going to panels and seeing tv and movie stars talk about their projects and getting excited about the next big thing. I love going to writing panels in an effort to glean as much information from people in the “know” as possible.

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It makes me feel not so alone. Because, for a long time there us nerds were out in the wilderness. It wasn’t cool to say that you played DnD or Magic or read comics or liked Anime or played computer games. And for 4 days Dragon Con offered an oasis for those of us who wanted to feel apart of something bigger than just us.

So yeah, at the end of the day on Sunday (most likely I will not be down there on Monday – we’re using it to recover) I’ll get that funny feeling in my stomach that another one of these has ended, and it will be another year before I get the chance to do it again. I’ll be tired, my feet may hurt, and my wallet will likely be lighter, but even with that slight sadness I know that it is only a matter of a little time before we get to do it again.

Hope to see you this weekend!

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

This post originally appeared on tesseraguild.com.

My Writing Process

I loathe chain emails. I’m not sure if they existed in paper form, but the thing which always killed me was the warning at the end. Like something out of a Steven King novel: “If you dare break this chain of old, a thousand locusts will descend upon thy host until only misery and bones are left to thee.”

Chain Letter

I snub my nose at such dire warnings. And I’m insulted that you feel that the subject manner itself is not good enough to spur me into action. There are many things that are difficult in this digital age, forwarding something on is not one of those things.

(Though I wonder if some of my recent bad luck is a result of not sending along that latest one… hmm, maybe I should rethink my stance.)

But a Chain Blog Tour? Well now, that is a horse of a different color. And when a fellow Guild-mate taps you then you do your best to appease the chain-blog gods. So with that in mind a little something to say about J Edward Neill.

I’ve known Mr. Neill since high school, brought together by a shared love of basketball and roleplaying. For the many years I thought about writing a book, he was sitting in his dark cave (or mountain top or volcano fortress) actually putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard to create his fantasy opus: Down the Dark Path. And much like in sports where they tell you to play against better competition in order to get better at your craft – I use him as one of my gauges. Of course, this week he’s come out with Book 2: Dark Moon Daughter… so my work is cut out for me.

writing

What am I working on?

Sometimes I feel like the question should be “What am I not working on”, but let’s see:

The White Effect – Editing the latest draft of my science fiction story about a man who finds that his world is rebooting, and he is one of the lucky (unlucky) ones who realizes what’s happening.

Gilded Age – My Steampunk creator-owned comic series through Terminus Media. Issue 3 is set to have letters added, and it looks like issue 4 is about to have pencils started any day now.

The Edge of the World – A story in the vein of Journey to the Center of the Earth where our heroine seeks to find her missing uncle. I have finished the first draft of this. Still need to start editing.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

With my comic writing, and The Gilded Age in particular, I’m trying to write character based stories and create a world from them as opposed to plopping them into a world. With my novel, The Dark That Follows, I’d say that it differs from “standard” urban fantasy in that it isn’t a romantic story where you wonder will they/won’t they. Instead it is about a man in way over his head just trying to do the right thing.

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Why do I write what I do?

As you can see above, I’m a little all over the place with regards to genre (for better or for worse). I guess I just follow that old rule of write what you’d like to read, and since I don’t just read fantasy or science fiction or urban fantasy or super-heroes exclusively my brain ensures that almost everything I work on is something different from the thing I wrote before. I take everything I’ve read, everything I’ve watched, everything I’ve ever heard and put them through the grinder of my brain and then something comes out. If it is interesting and moves me, then I write about it, if not, I move onto the next project.

How does my writing process work?

It starts with music. Something to write to. Recently it has been 10 Years, Chevelle, and Deftones. Once I have the right mood set I generally have a decent idea of what needs to happen within the story, so much more plotter than pantser. For a comic script I tend to write out a 1-2 paragraph summary of the major story beats and then start writing dialogue. Only after most of the dialogue is written do I go back and fill in every panel’s description and manipulate the pace of the comic. After a couple of passes I send it on to my editors, do one more pass with their notes, and then end up doing a FINAL-FINAL pass during the lettering stage as I can see the whole picture (literally) and see if something needs to be added or subtracted.

With my novels I have the story beats, but I write out-of-order most of the time, jumping from one scene to another and then piece things together like a puzzle. After that first draft is done I follow Steven King’s advice and put it in the drawer for 6-8 weeks to gain perspective. After that time I do my second pass, and if I’m happy with that version I might reach out to a couple of BETA readers for thoughts. Another draft follows that and then the editor. And then the final draft.

But at some point I do say “pencils down” because while we can tweak and refine our work forever, it doesn’t mean we should. Release it into the world and move onto the next project.

 

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

This post originally appeared on tesseraguild.com.

Terminus Media and the CDC Team Up For San Diego Comic Con

I am excited to announce a project years in the making will finally see the light of day 4:00 PM (PST) at San Diego Comic Con during a panel titled “Using Motion Comics for HIV/STI Prevention”. I acted as one of the main writers for the project in which they scripted a series of motion comics with the idea of both entertaining and informing. Episode One of the series will be shown in its entirety for the first time at the panel with a plan to roll out the additional episodes during the remainder of the year.

Below is the press release:

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Terminus Media and CDC Team Up for San Diego Comic Con

Press Release

Atlanta, GA (July 18, 2016) On Friday, July 22nd the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Terminus Media will host a panel titled Using Motion Comics for HIV/ STI Prevention at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. The panel will highlight the continuing collaboration between the CDC and Terminus Media a Creative Services and Entertainment Studio in their efforts to use the medium of motion comics/animation to raise awareness about HIV/ STI prevention.

“With using motion comics to spread “edutainment” our hope is that we will be able to use this medium to better illustrate the facts of this issue, while also highlighting the personal experiences of those affected by HIV/ and STI,” Mark Stancil, CEO and co-founder of Terminus Media explained.

cdc-logo-1024x751

The event will be held at San Diego Comic Con between 4:00 pm-5:00 pm PST, in room 32AB. An official description of the panel is as follows:

4:00p.m. – 5:00p.m PST Using Motion Comics for HIV/STI Prevention

In the U.S., young people (ages 16-24 years) are significantly affected by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted infections (STI).  Storytelling through comic books has been shown to be a useful method for HIV/STI education and prevention.  The increasing popularity of comic related media and advances in computerized graphics have created new ways of using comics to reach youth with HIV/STI information.  You are invited to come and learn how scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Leigh Willis (behavioral scientist), Rachel Kachur (health scientist,) Ted Castellanos (public health advisor), John Brooks (senior medical advisor), and Terminus Media Mark Stancil (CEO),
Joe Phillips (lead artist) Lexington Wolfcraft (artist) worked to create an HIV/STI focused motion comic which improves knowledge about, and reduces stigma around, HIV and STI, and encourages healthy behaviors by young people.  Attendees will learn how audience feedback, behavioral research and cutting edge comic production methods were used to create the storyline and the look, sound and feel of this motion comic.  For the first time ever, during this session, the first episode of the series will be debuted.  Information will also be provided on how the public can access the full motion comic series and future plans for the series will be discussed.   

CDC_Motion_Comic1

About Terminus Media

Terminus Media is an Atlanta-based Creative Services and Entertainment studio dedicated to identifying, developing and aggressively marketing corporate and creator-owned properties into valuable multimedia assets. In addition to publication of critically acclaimed titles like The Gilded Age, the Glyph Comic Award winning, Route 3Terminus Team Up, and the Glyph-award nominated, Radio Free Amerika. Our Creative Services division assists corporate, government and private-sector clients with visual communication projects ranging from animation and character development to full-scale message-specific publications, including work done for such clients as the Centers for Disease Control, Nitto Tires, and The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra/Alliance Theatre.

www.terminusmedia.com

Terminus Media LLC

860 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 140

Atlanta, GA 30342,  contact@terminusmedia.com

Behind the Comic: The Comic Script

behindthemusic-thumb-3

The company I do a lot of my comic related work with is Terminus Media. Early on, before the money and the fame (ok, maybe I’m still waiting on that), we met in the back of a comic book shop in Stone Mountain, Georgia. These were open meetings where any number of creatives were welcomed to listen in, discuss their own ideas, and even contribute to the anthology comics if they had the desire.

Each time new writers or artists came in they had the same questions I had when I walked through those doors. When I sat down to write my very first comic script I had no idea of how to go about setting it up. It’s a weird thing, this product we read on a weekly basis, but how in the world does it get from the writer’s brain to the artist’s fingertips? How does the script work?

In the comics industry there are basically two main forms that comics take: Full Script and Marvel Method.

Full Script – This is the one most people might be familiar with. In a full script the writer typically is going to break the comic down into pages and then those pages are broken down further into panels. Then within each panel would be a description of what you want the artist to draw (perhaps painting a general idea of the scene all the way to “camera placement”). Finally there will be any dialogue or narration needed. And so on and so forth until all 20-24 pages have been scripted out.

Yet, even among the Full Scripts there are those who give a small amount of  description and those who give tons. Do yourself a favor and try to find a copy of an Alan Moore script… that man writes tons of description and analysis for each panel (some might say too much, but he is one of the greatest comic writers of all time so what do they know, huh?).

stan_lee_happy_88_birthday_by_mexpiratered-d35w8lr

Marvel Method was something that developed from Stan Lee’s early days at Marvel Comics. Since he was the main writer (only writer) he didn’t have enough time for a full script. And he happened to work with the likes of  Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. They were artists who he knew could “do the job” as it were. So he provided them with plots of the comic, but left it up to them to actually layout the pages, determine what would go in each panel, and so on. Then, once it was done, Stan would go back in and add the narration and dialogue.

I had no sample script to work from, so my first one was probably closer related to the Marvel Method than a full script. But that was due to me not knowing than any conscious decision about how this scripting thing was supposed to work.

Over the years I’ve mostly done the Full Script version for my comics. And the reason for that is because many times I don’t know who is going to be the artist on the book. And without that key knowledge, I’d rather give them my vision for the comic and then go from there, than leave them with just a plot.

But, as I work with an artist, and grow more comfortable with them, I try to leave more things in their hands. Fight scenes are probably the biggest one. I feel like no matter how I think the fight could go, the artist is going to have a better feel for the flow of the characters. So why not let them stretch their skills a little bit. I give them general ideas of what needs to happen: “Bill and Jack rumble on this page. Maybe Bill gains the upper hand early in the fight, only to have Jack turn the tables.” OR “Jack and Bill are going to fight on this page. The only key thing is that by the end of the page Jack needs to hold Bill out a window… otherwise go nuts!”

All that is a long-winded way of saying, lots of those people coming into those early Terminus meetings didn’t have a clue about scripting or, if they were artists, didn’t know how to draw from a script. They just didn’t have access to one. So a few years ago, at the behest of some, I wrote out a short called 3 Brothers for the express idea of helping newer artists have something to draw.

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I divided the story into 3 parts:

Part 1 was a love story (Romance). Two people in love with each other, some talking head shots, playful interaction.

Part 2 was about hate (Rage). Two brothers, in love with the same woman, have a major fist-fight that doesn’t go well for one of them.

Part 3 was about loss (Death). Two people, dealing with the loss of a loved one, standing in the rain (so they have a little bit of the environment to deal with).

Anyway, I think a couple of people tried it out here or there. I think it was a helpful tool, and as such I’ve added a copy here.

Perhaps an aspiring artist will get inspired by this, or want to draw something that isn’t just superheroes for their portfolio.

Hope it helps.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

This post originally appeared on tesseraguild.com.

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Does Whatever A Spider Can

With the casting news for Spider-man: Homecoming I feel like there is something I should say. I have a confession to make. Well, maybe not a confession, but more like a moment of truth. Spider-Man is my favorite comic book character.

That’s not the confession.

This revelation does not make me unique or anything. Plenty of people love Spider-Man (as evidenced by the sheer amount of money the movies alone have made). The fact that any kid might have something Spider-Man themed in his closet. Or that dozens of figures of the guy are released every year.

No, the confession is that I have not read a Spider-Man comic in quite some time (7+ years).

Now if Spider-Man is my favorite character why would I forsake him in the very media that I profess to love beyond probably even my wife’s understanding?

One name: Mary Jane Watson Parker.

Many of you will know the name Mary Jane Watson from the Sam Rami movies of the 00s as she was played by Kirsten Dunst. As you can tell from the movies, she is an important cog in Peter Parker’s life.

I personally think she’s the true love of his life, not Gwen Stacy, but that’s mostly because I don’t know Gwen. She had been dead for a decade before I picked up my first issue of Amazing Spider-Man. I only have the occasional flashback to let me know who she was.

Though, one of my favorite stories came from a “Gwen” moment. Spider-Man Blue by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale tell a story where on Valentine’s Day Peter is feeling reflective about how much he misses Gwen, and proceeds to talk into a tape recorder about the two of them falling in love. He talks to her about how her death messed him up for a long time, but through Mary Jane he learned to love again. And then this happens…

Spidey Blue 1

Spidey Blue 2

And if you were to pick up a Spider-Man comic from around 1987/1988 until about 2008 you would have probably seen Mrs. Parker in the comics. As Peter’s wife she’s been with him through think and thin.

However, if you picked up a Spider-Man comic today you might notice that Peter is no longer married.

More on that in a second…

Spider-Man appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962. By the time I started reading the comic was approximately 25 years old. During that entire time Spider-Man was a single guy. Yeah, there were girlfriends: Betty Brant, Felicia Hardy, Gwen Stacy, and Mary Jane, but he was a single guy. For 25 years those writers got to weave stories featuring a single Spidey. But that changed in 1987 (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21) when the two of them tied the knot.

the-amazing-spider-man-the-wedding-issue

I was 11 at the time this happened. I think I had read about 6 issues of Spider-Man before he got married. Spider-Man getting married did not change how I saw the character. It did not make him my “Dad” all of a sudden. It didn’t make him the “winner” of life because he married this gorgeous model (these were some of the reasons for getting rid of the marriage, but more on that later).

Growing up I never saw myself as a good-looking kid. I was taller than all the other kids, maybe a little clumsy, and shy around girls. There were plenty of times I would think about the fact that I would never find a girlfriend.

Comics are a great escape from life. When you get down on yourself, get depressed about something that’s happened to you, they are there waiting for you, month in and month out. Ready to take on the worst of the worst bad guys.

So how did it make me feel when Spidey got married?

It actually made me feel like, maybe, just maybe, there was a girl out there for me. That even if I felt awkward and ugly that it wouldn’t matter. I’d find that person who I was meant to be with. Maybe that girl next door might take a shine to me.

It’s probably silly to think that way. These weren’t real people. And yet… because Mary Jane and Peter weren’t just two people who started dating and decided to get married. These were two friends from way back. They’d suffered through tragedy on both sides. And where he had never confided in Gwen about his alter-ego, Mary Jane knew (she figured it out – girl is smart). Because she was his best friend. Moreso than Harry Osborn (when he wasn’t the Green Goblin) or Flash Thompson (in the later years), MJ was the one that he could always turn to.

So, no, it wasn’t a bad thing that this happened. Not for me at least.

And so it went that from 1987 to early in 2008 Spider-man was a married character.

But apparently this was a problem for the people in charge. Apparently having Spider-Man married meant that they couldn’t have Peter date the Black Cat or whomever they wanted him to. Apparently being married… wait for it…

Made Spider-Man OLD.

They felt like the truest form of the character was that of a single guy. That him finding love with his best friend meant he’d won and was no longer the loveable loser everyone thought he was.

They (the writers) felt like they were hamstrung on stories because he was married.

Counselor, I present Matt Fraction’s take:

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During J. Michael Straczynski’s run on the book I told my wife that I could have read 22 pages of just the two of them talking. But more than that, I think JMS understood how to approach the relationship. Mary Jane being married to Spidey is the life many women (and some men) live when their spouse is a police officer (or firefighter or in the military). There is always that chance that they may not come home that night. I don’t think that means they love them less, though. I think that means they try to fight for every moment they get.

But the powers that be didn’t like the marriage. And I’d heard the same argument about Superman and Lois Lane. And I think it is complete crap. It’s lazy writing to say you can’t come up with a story for the character because his connection to another person is marriage. Because, let’s face it, Peter Parker, single, was not going to be running around banging every chick that he meets. He’s not that character and never will be. So if he had a girlfriend he’s not going to cheat. So what the heck is the real difference there?

There isn’t one.

One other point about this that I’m not sure people really thought about. 25 years as a bachelor and 21 years married. That’s effectively the same amount of time, and one could argue that there were far more actual comics with him married than single (more titles in the 90s, etc.). But it wasn’t like this marriage had been around for only a couple of years. For all intents and purposes Spidey was a married man (or at least a committed man).

But the decision had been made. They came up with a story line that had Aunt May on the brink of death (yes, that old chestnut of a story – never used that one before!), and the only way to save her was to make a DEAL WITH THE DEVIL.

And the Devil wanted their (Peter and Mark Jane’s love).

Wait, that’s not right. He wanted their marriage.

Let’s toss aside the fact that Spidey lives in a Universe where superheroes come back to life on an almost daily basis. Let’s ignore the fact that there are mutants who have the ability to HEAL other people, and even if he doesn’t specifically know those people, he knows people who know those people (confused yet?). And let’s even forget about the fact that Aunt May is OLD and has lived the good life, and would NEVER want her nephew to make a DEAL WITH THE DEVIL.

The fundamental problem with this is that Peter and Mary Jane would never make such a deal. They just wouldn’t. Peter would find another way. He’d triumph through some angle we hadn’t thought of.

But no, he made the deal and the marriage was undone.

Amazing_Spider-Man_545

The last issue of Amazing Spider-Man I own.

And I haven’t picked up an issue of Spider-Man since.

The place I now get to read about my favorite character is in the pages of the Avengers when he happens to be on the team, or when he makes a guest appearance in a comic I read.

Now we’re 6 years into my “strike” on reading the character. They just finished a 30+ issue story where Doc Ock swapped bodies with Peter and then tried to use the powers for good. There’s a new story (that could have been told with him being married I’m sure), and one I would like to read.

But I can’t. Stupid principles.

 

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

This post originally appeared on tesseraguild.com.

Behind the Comic – The Gilded Age

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I thought I’d provide the blog with a little bit of how this little project came to be.

GildedAge_Front Cover-tessera

It all started with a convention in Orlando a few years ago. My buddy Egg either had a table or was sharing a table or something (it doesn’t much matter). The important thing was that while he was down their he met an artist by the name of Larry Watts who was looking for a project to work on. For some reason Egg thought Larry and I could match up on a project. Larry has since gone on to work on a Zenescope Comic called Robyn Hood (found here).

The only problem was that I didn’t really have any ideas that were artist ready.

Now I certainly had a handful of ideas, but I had no finished scripts that were just begging for an artist. So when faced with the prospect of working with an artist and you have no solid ideas I cheated and went onto his Deviant Art page to check out his stuff and see if anything “inspired me”.

And there it was… a shot of a old western gunfighter… with a metallic arm. In that instant, something flipped in my brain and I had the barest bones of an idea. What followed over the course of the next few days would end up becoming a pitch called Machine Heart.

Now Machine Heart was ready, but I believe that Larry was no longer available to work on it (I probably missed my window by not being prepared with something). So I filed it away on the computer, just waiting for the moment to spring it from it’s prison.

A year or so later Terminus Media was beginning to look towards doing something more than just anthology stories. They wanted to have something that could be 5 or 6 issues to start. Something different than what was on the shelves. And that little voice popped up in my brain and I mentioned my “Steampunk” story. A couple of meetings later things began to crystallize and suddenly it looked like things were a go… there was just one problem.

With an indy comic there is always the risk that there will be a delay between issues. You might have production problems, money problems, printing problems, and who-knows-what-else problems. But here we are wanting to tell a story over the course of 5 issues… what happens if people don’t want to wait that long? What happens if someone stumbles onto issue 2 and can’t find issue 1?

So what was the answer? In a perfect world you would find a way to have a regular schedule. We, however, live in the real world (one populated with superheroes and the like, but real enough) where delays are going to happen…

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Iron Man doesn’t like Daylight Savings Time either.

And then it hit me –  I could build this world from the ground up by telling single issue stories about a variety of characters. And what better way to ensure that there are plenty of characters to choose from? Have the stories take place in a vaudevillian carnival where you could have all sorts of weirdos running around and no one would bat an eye. Plus, the other bonus was that I could tell a variety of stories (adventure, horror, heists, etc.) and they could all work because of the characters involved.

There was only one more problem… a title. Machine Heart didn’t really apply to this particular story, so I needed to come up with something better than “Untitled Steampunk Comic”.

Enter Mark Twain and his coining of the phrase “The Gilded Age”. Now his applied to the late 1800s corruption occurring within the US government, but I saw something that could apply to this new world. There would be corruption (there always is), but it also rang true somehow for the comic… I can’t explain it completely, but it “fit”.

gilded age by twain

While Machine Heart’s plot-line no longer applied, the characters of Hannah and Elias still worked for me. An actress who is new to the carnival, bright eyed and innocent, and the stage magician of the crew who would need her help acquiring an item for his next performance. So I made the first issue about the two of them, giving the reader a complete story in 1 issue, but hinting at a much bigger world that I’m hoping to explore more and more of.

And that gunfighter with the metal arm that inspired it all… well, he’s getting to tell a story of his own…

Gilded Age #2-004-small

 

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

This post originally appeared on tesseraguild.com.

Behind the Comic – Misusing Time and Being Stubborn

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Making comics is a tough business. Maybe the big companies have all the little things figure out, but when you are one of the little guys there are a lot of bumps in the road. And I have come to the conclusion that there are three assets that will serve someone who aspires to create comic books (well there are more… a lot more, but these are the three I’m focusing on).

The first is to be realistic about TIME.

Dragon Clock

What does that mean? Well, what it really means is that you need to get a decent idea of your own abilities and not oversell what you can or cannot do. When someone asks you how long it is going to take to do a script or to draw your pages or to ink those pages or to color those pages or to letter those pages… well, for the sake of everyone else on your team, just be realistic about the amount of time it is going to take.

Back in the prehistoric age (about 10 years ago) Terminus Media (an Atlanta based comics company) decided to dip their toes in the comic book world. It made perfect sense, we had artists and writings sitting mere feet from each other on a weekly basis. None of us had any real credits to our comic resume, so it was a win-win situation. Plus we were meeting in a COMIC BOOK STORE for Heaven’s sake. If that wasn’t a sign to get to work, I don’t know what would be. So we got together and made a black and white anthology comic book. It worked so well we ended up doing another one, and then we did a color one, and then we did one more color one.

So what’s the problem? What does this has to do with TIME?

It took almost 7 months for that first anthology to get done. Four stories of 8 pages each took 7 months. This wasn’t 1 writer and 1 artist, this was 4 artists and 4 writers, teamed up.

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So why did it take so long? Honestly? Because people have lives that they were trying to live. School or work and everything between and when you are doing something for free, deadlines go out the window for many people. But mostly it was because these creators didn’t know how long it was supposed to take. And so they said that they could deliver their script or pages or whatever by X date… and then not do it. It is hard to make something work when you have no idea if someone is going to be true to their word. It sucks to have to hound and probe and needle and stand behind someone with a wooden spoon to whack them on the back of the head yelling “Work faster!” (Why a spoon? Because its dull, it’ll hurt more!).

With the second anthology we had learned all these lessons from the past. We knew what the big mistakes were, we knew that when someone said it would only take X time to do a task we would secretly (mentally) assume 2X to do it. “Oh, it’ll take you 3 weeks to draw those pages?” (writes down 6 weeks). We were going to streamline things… no 7 months for us!

It took 9-10 months to put out the second issue.

Why? Well the TIME thing was a big one. People said 3 weeks and we figured on 6 and it took 12 (if we were lucky). But the other thing we learned was that some people liked the idea of being in comics more than the actual “creating” of comics. They talked a big game, but when push came to shove, nothing ever materialized. And they left some of their co-creators in a huge lurch searching for a replacement.

Be PROFESSIONAL.

I’m not talking about whether you get a page rate (though that is nice), but I’m talking about how you treat the people you are creating with. Don’t waste their TIME. If you aren’t serious about the project, if you don’t care about the story or the art or whatever, and are just doing it as a goof… and are always just minutes away from disappearing from the face of the Earth, then don’t bother. All you are doing is pissing people off and showing that you cannot be trusted with deadlines.

It wouldn’t be a problem if I could just chalk it up to the idea that these guys and gals weren’t getting paid, and sometimes life gets in the way, but I’ve seen it time and time again over the last decade. I’ve seen people with talent, REAL TALENT, just not give a damn. These are writers who seem to have no problem talking about a story that is amazing, but never putting fingers to the keyboard to actually write the damn thing (Just Finish It!). These are artists who I would swear should be drawing Spiderman and Batman right now, but just won’t spend the TIME in front of their artist’s tables doing the work.

When you get a team together that cares about the project and act like they are professional, it is a glorious sight to behold. And suddenly TIME doesn’t seem like quite as big a deal.

The other piece of the puzzle, at least as far as I am personally concerned, is being STUBBORN. I’m the guy that can’t give up. When it was taking 7 months to get that first comic out, I fought and emailed and sometimes just showed up to give my support, and eventually the planets aligned and the comic happened.

Of course, being STUBBORN means that as a writer you are going to get to have a lot of scripts on your hard drive that never get off the ground. You’ll have an idea, but no artist. You’ll have an artist and struggle for an idea. You’ll have the artist and the story, but then he/she decides that they cannot do the project. Or they fall off the face of the Earth and you have to start completely over with a new team.

Over and over again until you feel like you could scream.

But I won’t give up on people. Had I given up The Gilded Age wouldn’t exist. Had I given up I wouldn’t have done Tiger Style. I wouldn’t have multiple shorts in a handful of anthologies. I wouldn’t have completed The Dark That Follows. STUBBORN. Too damn stupid to know any better apparently. INSANE, because I keep doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result… and yet, while there are many failures or aborted projects or things that just don’t get off the ground, I’ll continue to agree to doing these things. I’ll continue writing outlines and full scripts and 8-pagers and whatever else someone wants me to do if I think there is a chance it will work out. How could I not?

Shark Fishing

Because I never know when that next thing might be the one that hits. So I put as many lines in the water and wait for that fish to come.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

This post originally appeared on tesseraguild.com.