Posts Tagged writer



Comicmaniac Spotlight: The Black Parade Author Kyoko M.

Written by on Jul 8, 2013
Filed in: Comicmaniacs  |  1 Comment »

It’s been a while but I’m back with an all new Comicmaniac Spotlight. And the spotlight falls on the Nerdy novelist who loves Batman, Castle, comics, movies, fanfiction, and books

 

Kyoko M.

 

Me dolled up crop

The supernatural and sci-fi come together in  Kyoko’s upcoming urban fantasy novel titled The Black Parade. I had the opportunity to interview her and we discussed the novel, self-publishing, her love of writing and fan fiction, other projects that she’s working on, and much more.

Tali Adina: Can you give readers a brief description about The Black Parade and what was the inspiration for the title?

TheBlackParade_Revised_2 copy

Kyoko M:  The Black Parade is an urban fantasy novel about an unfortunate girl named Jordan Amador who accidentally kills a Seer: someone who can see and hear ghosts, angels, and demons. As penance, she is sentenced to help 100 souls with unfinished business find their final wishes and cross over to the other side within two years or her soul will be damned for all eternity. Right at her deadline, Jordan stumbles across a gorgeous but smart ass poltergeist named Michael. As she starts solving his case, she unknowingly unravels a plot concocted by demons that could throw the world into complete chaos.

The title is inspired by “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance. The black parade is a metaphor for death, as in dying means that one becomes a member of the haunting marching masses heading towards the afterlife. I chose this title because it encompasses the idea of my main character. Jordan is sort of like a drum major for the black parade as she leads people through the process of death and towards their final resting place, whether it be heaven or hell.

TA: They say that writers write what they know. What inspires you to write?

KM: Honestly? Weird stuff. My very first inspiration to write came from ‘Batman: The Animated Series.’ I watched the show religiously as a child and wrote oodles and oodles of fanfiction. I then moved on to ‘Batman Beyond’, which I still love even today, and then a huge bushel of different anime as I grew up. Besides Batman, though, is my own desire to create a world that I enjoy learning and talking about. Every new chapter I write is peeling back another layer of my brain and spreading it out. There are so many interesting avenues to explore when writing urban fantasy, especially the kind related to angels and demons and ghosts, and that is why I chose this as my first novel series.

However, the most direct inspirations for The Black Parade are Paradise Lost by John Milton and the feature film Constantine (2005) directed by Francis Lawrence. Both of these concepts collided in my head back in college and I absolutely had to run with the ideas once they hit. I wanted to put my own twist on the well-known figures from Christian mythology and explore the concepts incorporated in them as well as some of my own.

TA: Why write fanfiction? What about it do you love?

KM: Fanfiction is my home away from home. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. It’s like taking a Jacuzzi break for me. The reason I find it so relaxing is because I don’t have to stress about all the rules associated with creating an original character. I just have to concentrate on what I already know about a well-established character and work from there. All I do in my fanfiction is create new situations for the characters to face rather than working from scratch. I love writing scenarios that a cartoon or TV show or anime never got around to, but could realistically have done if given the chance. As I mentioned earlier, I am particularly fond of ‘Batman Beyond’, which had a decent 52-episode run, but I wanted even more than that because it spoke to me. The show took a concept that should have fallen straight on its face—Batman in high school, basically—and somehow built a unique, creative, surprisingly deep interpretation of a character I already adored and then added someone equally lovable to the Batclan.

Fanfiction also keeps my mind sharp in terms of the mechanics of writing. I still focus on character motivations, action, pacing, plot, and all the other important parts of writing, but just with less stress involved. It’s a fun hobby and I recommend it to any writers who can multitask without going bonkers.

TA: The Black Parade seems to have a mix of sci-fi and supernatural genres. Are those your favorite genres to write about?

KM:  Definitely. I am one of those awful writers who hasn’t seen most of the American classics—Gone with the Wind, Apocalypse Now, Citizen Kane—but I’ve seen so many sci-fi films that it is ridiculous. I think the sheer amount of imagination that goes into science fiction and supernatural genres is what intrigues me the most. I love creativity. I love seeing something unexpectedly brilliant, like The Fifth Element or Titan A.E. or Treasure Planet or Inception or Van Helsing (shut up, I like it!). I love how the visuals are always an important part of enhancing the story and how mythologies and legends from different cultures inspire them.

TA: I know that you also have a two more books that you’re working on to follow this one. What can readers look forward to in this series?

KM:The Black Parade’ is going to be a trilogy. The second novel, ‘She Who Fights Monsters’, has already been written, but it still needs to be professionally edited. I can’t say much without spoiling things. I will simply say that there are a lot of trials ahead for Michael and Jordan that will simultaneously pull them apart and bring them closer together. It should be ready for release next year. I’m currently in the process of writing the third novel and it is slated to be finished by the end of the year, and released in 2015.

TA: What future goals do you hope to achieve with this series?

KM: I would really love to see this series do well because there are not nearly enough urban fantasy novels that are popular with a black female protagonist. There are so many of them out there, but unfortunately, they do not receive enough attention. I want to see other black female nerds bonding with each other and getting good press. The media does not get to see enough positive female characters of any ethnicity and I want that to happen because it should. It is not just about my novels. I want to shed light on other great series out there and help the public get interested in other writers like me, no matter what background they are.

TA: When did you fall in love with comics and what other geeky things are you into?

KM: I fell in love with comics as a munchkin, thanks to my father. The first comics I read as a kid were ‘The Death of Superman’ and ‘DC vs. Marvel.’ I used to sit in my brother’s room for hours pouring over them again and again because I loved seeing superheroes fighting for those without the power to fight for themselves. From there, I went on to read several dozen ‘X-Men’ titles, some extremely great runs on ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’, ‘Watchmen’, ‘Catwoman’ (excluding the awful new 52 version of her), and of course a ton of ‘Batman’ comics.

I’m also heavily into anime and manga, though my tastes are all over the place. I love all the classics—Cowboy Bebop, Rurouni Kenshin, Yu Yu Hakusho, G Gundam, Bleach, Dragon Ball Z—but I’ve also fallen in love with some newer stuff like Kuroshitsuji, Ouran High School Host Club, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Beelzebub, Kaichou wa Maid-Sama, Great Teach Onizuka (GTO), Darker Than Black and Durarara!!! I seem to bounce between shoujo and josei and anything related to sci-fi or fantasy.

Additionally, I have a huge collection of Internet reviewers that I love to follow. That Guy with the Glasses deserves first mention, particularly Linkara, Spoony, and Todd in the Shadows because I met them in person and they are the nicest fellows you could ever hope to meet. I’m absolutely hooked on Two Best Friends Play and Rage Quit. Totally in love with the comedic duo Barats and Bereta, as well as Source Fed, Honest Trailers, and Cinema Sins on Youtube. I’m also friends with Michael Agrusso, aka ItsJustSomeRandomGuy, creator of the ‘Hi, I’m a Marvel and I’m a DC’ videos. I couldn’t be a bigger geek if I tried.

TA: Are there any other projects that you’re working on?

KM: Currently, I am working on a YA high fantasy novel that started out as just a little side novel and somehow turned into a George R. R. Martin-length epic fantasy tale. It is two-thirds of the way done and I am utterly excited about it because it is my first time ever writing in the high fantasy genre. It has been extremely challenging, but fulfilling all the same. It still does not have a permanent title, but I’ve been describing it to people as, “Avatar: The Last Airbender meets the X-Men, with a dash of Firefly.’ It has a long way to go before it is ready for publication, so I would say keep an eye out for it in 2014 or 2015 at the absolute latest.

After the Black Parade trilogy is wrapped up, I’ll be starting another urban fantasy novel about a teenage girl and her widower father hunting dragons. At this stage, it is just a lump of story and character notes, but I’m also eager to write it as well.

TA: What advice can you give writers?

KM: (1) Don’t write yourself off (excuse the pun, please). I did that for literally years. I wouldn’t admit to myself that I wanted to write novels for a living until sophomore year of college. Don’t do that, kids. If you have the love and the gift, accept it and don’t let fear rule your life. (2) Find a support system, writing related or not. You are not an island. You need people to help you and keep your head above water because this is by far one of the hardest ways to make a living and it is going to suck for an incredibly long time. (3) Read things that you love and then find something you hate and read that too. Both will make you a better writer. Read Jim Butcher, and then flip open some Stephanie Meyer right afterwards. You will immediately see the difference in quality, and that will help keep you from becoming a terrible writer. (4) Don’t be a dick. Chuck Wendig talks about this a lot and you should listen to him. One of the fastest ways to kill your career is to be a jerkoff. You don’t have to be an angel, but please, be mindful of others and don’t bully anyone.

TA: Who are the writers that inspire you?

KM: Good Lord, do you have enough space for all these names? Okay, you asked for it: Denny O’Neill, Christopher Nolan, Bruce Timm, Dwayne McDuffie (RIP, sir.), Paul Dini, Jim Butcher, Chuck Wendig, Andrew W. Marlowe, Brian Jacques (RIP, sir.), Alan Moore, Nobuhiro Watsuki, J. K. Rowling, Jane Green, Geoff Thorne, and Jackson Pearce. I will also begrudgingly add Laurell K. Hamilton to the list, but ONLY for the first nine Anita Blake novels. These writers have all shown me something different and incredible at different points in my life and I am so grateful for being exposed to them. My father and my writing sensei both scold me for watching or reading things repeatedly, but in truth that is what keeps me going. I read and watch these things in order to remember why I want to be an author and what I want to do with the rest of my life. I want to catch a sliver of the greatness pouring off of these writers someday.

TA: As a person of color and a woman in the writing industry what obstacles do you face?

KM: It’s rough out there for any woman writing urban fantasy with a female character, and it’s even harder with a black protagonist. Unfortunately, black authors tend to get lumped in together because society assumes all black writers write is terrible smut or books about how racism will never be over. It will be difficult to get anyone to take my work seriously since I am not well known and am a first time author, but I aim to misbehave and make a name for myself anyway.

There is also potential backlash because of the interracial relationship that is the core of my novel, and I will face it with a grin on my face because I happen to fully support interracial relationships. I love seeing people from different backgrounds coming together and finding similarities and falling in love. I have always believed that love is love and it cannot be categorized by skin color.

Lastly, it is extremely hard to set yourself apart as an urban fantasy writer because the genre is so popular and in vogue right now. Self-publishing is a great option, but it is also unfortunately too easy. Anyone can fart out a terrible urban fantasy novel and so it can steer away a lot of readers because they all assume your work is lousy. The most common stereotype associated with the genre is the cocky Mary Sue protagonist who is trendy, white, sassy, and well off financially. There are dozens of them. So it will be an uphill battle for me to get Jordan separated from the sheep herd and to get people to realize she has layers and issues and is worth a read.

TA: When will the book be released and how will readers be able to obtain a copy of the book?

KM: The Black Parade is slated for release in late July 2013. It will be available as an eBook on Amazon and as a hard copy there and on Smashwords as well.

 *You can now purchase the book on Create A Space and the book is now available on Amazon. So go forth and purchase this book!*

 

 

 

 

 

 




Comicmaniac Spotlight: Jason Coffee’s Warhawks

Written by on Mar 28, 2013
Filed in: Comicmaniacs  |  2 Comments »

Jason Coffee was a sci-fi writer who was trying to make it Hollywood. He was well on his way to achieving his dream as he had the awesome opportunity to analyze scripts for James Cameron, and work as an assistant on shows like Babylon 5 and Roswell. Several years ago, he passed away suddenly at the young age of 33. His last wish was for his voice to be heard.  Now, his friends have gotten together to make his wish come true. Theyre publishing a comic book based on one of his screenplays entitled Warhawks and are raising the funds through Kickstarter. One of his friends Doug Cohen reached out to me and I had the wonderful opportunity to interview him about Jason Coffee’s Warhawks.

Jason Coffee

When did you first meet Jason?

I met Jason during our first week in college in 1993. We were both film majors at Northwestern University in Chicago. I met him in a stairwell on the way up to an orientation meeting. I can still remember he was wearing a Jurassic Park T-shirt that said “Rap Attack” on it. I also remember he was anxiously waiting for his TV to be shipped to him so that he could catch the premiere of Seaquest DSV.

 

What made you decide to bring Jason’s project to life in the form of comics?

Jason loved two things: sci-fi and comics. He had a huge comic book collection and always had comics posters on his walls. When you read his short stories or screenplays, most of them have a comic book feel.  His screenplay Warhawks is about a team of cyborg superheroes. If we wanted to make it as a movie, it would have cost 200 million dollars. We still hope that someday Jason Coffee’s Warhawks will end up on the silver screen, but making a comic seemed like a great first step that we, as his friends, could achieve.

Warhawks Issue #1 Cover

 

What was the process of putting together a team, and trying to obtain the funds necessary for this project?  

The team is made up of a group of Jason’s friends who all live in Los Angeles. We started meeting after Jason passed away to see how we could fulfill his last request, which was for his voice to be heard. In the beginning, we were funding it ourselves, but as we learned everything that is involved in creating and publishing a comic, we realized we would need to raise additional funds. We’re glad that Kickstarter came along, because it’s the perfect way to fulfill our mission. While we raise money for the project, we are simultaneously spreading Jason’s creative voice around the world.

 

Billy Tan is doing the cover, and Joel Gomez (former Wildstorm staff artist and assistant to Jim Lee) is doing the interior artwork for issue one. How did they become involved?

Cover Artist Billy Tan

None of us on the team had any experience making comics, but Jason’s friend Tom Cohen (no relation to me) knew some people in the industry.  He was able to connect us with a former Marvel Comics editor who suggested possible artists for the cover. One them was Billy Tan.  I contacted Billy and he immediately responded to our story. We were so excited that an artist of Billy’s caliber was willing to draw the cover. The fact that in between working on X-Men and Green Lantern, Billy took the time to do this awesome cover for Warhawks would have made Jason very happy.

Once we had our cover, we started looking for an interior artist. Billy recommended we contact Joel Gomez, who had done some assistant penciling for him in the past.  Again, we were fortunate to have such a great artist agree to work with us. Joel’s visual storytelling is amazing, but beyond that, he has become our mentor in the comics industry.  In the weeks leading up to our first convention, WonderCon, Joel has been telling us everything we need to do to prepare. We couldn’t have done it without him.

WARHAWKS is originally a screenplay, is it the desire of you and your friends to get Jason’s story eventually on the big screen?

Our goal is for the comic to become an ongoing series by bringing in other writers and artists to tell their own stories with the characters and universe Jason created. That would be awesome. But our even bigger goal is to fulfill his ultimate dream, which was for Warhawks to become a blockbuster movie, the kind of movie Jason would have lined up for on opening weekend.

When will issue one be available and where can people get it?

The plan is for Issue One to be completed early this summer. Distribution will initially be online and at comic book conventions.  Sometime after that, we hope to have it on the shelf at your local comic book store.

You all will be at WonderCon this weekend, can you let readers know where they can find you at the con and will you also be attending any other cons this year?

We will be at table 76 in the small press area. We hope people will come by to say hello and get to know the Warhawks universe by picking up a free copy of our preview comic for Issue One.

We are on the waitlist for ComiCon, and are hoping to find a way to exhibit there. We are also looking at Long Beach, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Jason’s hometown was Atlanta, so we also hope to hit Dragon*Con either this year or next.

 

What is one thing that you would like readers to know about Jason?

You expect your friends to be the people you grow old with. Losing Jason at such a young age was a shock to us all. I would like people to know that Jason was an intensely passionate fan and writer of sci-fi and comics. In college, when everybody else was writing comedies or sensitive dramas, he was writing his science fiction blockbusters. I watched him have to defend sci-fi as a valid art form, and he never wavered. Never one to self-promote, Jason worked slowly and meticulously toward his dream of writing science fiction that would be seen and read by people around the world.  If he had lived, I have no doubt that today you would be watching a movie or television show that he wrote. Talent and passion eventually win out, and Jason Coffee had large amounts of both.

 




The Stereotypical Freaks Review

Written by on Oct 28, 2012
Filed in: Comic Book Reviews  |  No Comments »

The Stereotypical Freaks

Rating: 5/5
Publisher Name: Animal Media Group
Writer: Howard Shapiro
Pencils: Joe Pekar
Number of Pages: 140
Price: 11.95
Color: Color
Safety Content Label: T+ TEENS AND UP – Appropriate for most readers 13 and up, parents are advised that they might want to read before or with younger children.

Publisher’s Blurb:
Four disparate high school seniors come together to compete in their school’s battle of the bands. Sharing a love for playing rock and roll, the members name the band “The Stereotypical Freaks” because they feel stereotyped by their classmates – smart kid, geek, star athlete and quiet weirdo… when in fact they know they are much more than those labels that have been placed on them. When one member reveals life altering news, winning the competition takes on more of a meaning to each member. Scared and angry, upset and yet still with a lot of resolve they set out to win one for the good guys… will they?

Reviewer’s Comments:
Friendship, lost,the social issues of high school, and music all come together to create an amazing story called The Stereotypical Freaks.

The graphic novel follows four teenaged boys Dan, Mark, Jacoby and Tom-who represent the many clicks of the social spectrum. Through their love of music-and for their own personal reasons-they come together and form a band in order to participate in the battle of the bands.

As each member of the band goes through challenges and tragedies they grow and become stronger people for it. It’s as though they started out as children and are now on the cusp of adulthood due to the things that they’ve been through. They’re also more prepared for what future challenges that will come.

Shapiro’s writing is excellent. This is a story that will tug at the heart strings of readers. Pekar’s art is also wonderful as it is in perfect tune with Shapiro’s storytelling.

Overall, this is a wonderful story. This is one of the reasons why 2012 is the year of the indie creator. Go and get this graphic novel. It’s not available until November 14th. You can preorder the book on Amazon.




Comicmaniac Spotlight: Alan Kistler

Written by on May 2, 2012
Filed in: Comicmaniacs  |  1 Comment »

Welcome to the Comicmaniac Spotlight! Here is where I will feature or interview a person or persons who are either in the comic industry or they’re doing something that’s awesome and geeky/nerd related.  This weeks spotlight is author, actor, Agent of S.T.Y.L.E., and Crazy Sexy Geek Alan Kistler.  He has recently published The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook: From Direwolf Ale to Auroch Stew! and has two more books on the way. I sat down with Alan to talk about his book, his thoughts on writing, as well as what other awesome projects he’s working on.

How did you get into comics?

Alan: I found a rocket ship lying in a crater. Inside there was an indestructible red blanket, a living computer called Mother Box, and a very bitey radioactive spider. At this point, a robot dog appeared and gave me a key to a dimensionally transcendental time-ship that resembled a blue… No, wait, wait… Sorry, that’s all imaginary.

Honestly, it was an accident. Right place, right time. I was very into science fiction as a kid. I devoured Isaac Asimov and any book that dealt with time travel, parallel universes or space vampires. Loved Arthurian legends, Anansi stories and certain mythologies. When I was about 7, a friend/babysitter thought I’d enjoy a nearby sci-fi convention and took me. It turned out to really be a comic convention and there was a raffle at the door that I won, which left me with a dozen free comics. I knew some characters from cartoons, movies and TV shows. But for the most part, I had no idea who these characters were, these X-Men or Justice League teams or this blond woman in black called Ms. Marvel. I recognized Spider-Man but had no clue who his friends Iron Man and Black Panther were.

I read them over the weekend and my mind was blown. Whenever I watched TV or read books, I constantly thought, “What if these characters could all meet?” What if Columbo met J.B. Fletcher? Would they get along or get annoyed? But that would never happen. Comics, though, had shared universes! And sometimes the heroes didn’t win. The Flash in this comic had once been a sidekick named Kid Flash and the guy who had been the Flash before him had actually died! That was startling!

I talked about it with my grandparents and it turned out they knew Jack Burnley, who was a comic book artist during the 1940s. He worked on Superman and Batman and co-created the original Starman. So they took me to meet Jack and we chatted for a couple of days about Golden Age comics and Silver Age comics and what events in history inspired certain characters and stories. He showed me his collections of different Batman stories over the years, how the art, writing and personalities changed. After that, there was no going back. I was interested not only in comics but in their evolution and the history behind them.

 

What advice can you give writers?

Alan: You have an idea? Fantastic. Stop talking about it and do it.

It’s one thing to pitch an idea or share a premise with a friend, but so many writers, artists and the like get so enamored with the idea and don’t actually do anything with it. Or they think it needs to be perfect, so they focus solely on plotting and planning everything “perfectly” rather than actually taking the next step and creating something that can be developed and then shared. That’s as effective as imagining a relationship with someone you have a crush on but never have the guts to actually ask out. Make the damn thing. Write it down, beginning to end. You can always re-shape it later, but at least HAVE something to work with instead of just the idea of what it could be.

The other biggest advice I can give is to pick your battles when it comes to editing and criticism. Whatever you write or film or plan, changes WILL be made and sometimes we’re too close to our own work to see the edges that need smoothing out. Don’t ignore others or else you won’t evolve. That being said, if you feel passionately about the core of a story or what message the audience is supposed to get at the end, stick by it. The minute you stop caring and just do what you think others will like, the audience will sense it.

 

What inspires you to write?

Alan: I’ve wasted a few opportunities and I’ve seen my share of death and it’s made me sensitive to use my time as best as I can. Admiration and anger are both good motivators. A story that excites me also makes me want to cause the same reaction in others. On the flipside, a story with a decent idea but terrible writing makes me shout, “I can do better than this!” And then the other side of the brain says, “Really? Stop talking about it and do it.”

But more than all that, the actual act of writing inspires me to write. Sounds hokey and evasive, but that’s the truth. Even when I plan things out, I never know exactly what’s going to happen when I start writing. You just have to get into that rocket, launch it and then improvise with whatever strange, new worlds come across your path.

Imagination and thought are the results of chemicals and lightning in your brain! What’s not inspirational about that process? When I finish one project, I never say “well, that’s done then,” I prefer to ask, “What’s next?”

 

As a comic book historian, what fascinates you about comic book history?

Alan: There are comics that are very personal stories, of course, but if you look at the large picture of the industry and the big superhero genres, then you can see that like art or fashion or a lot of sci-fi in film and TV, the comics reflect society. What are people afraid of and what do they hope to achieve in the future?

Superman comes out of the Depression Era and first focuses on fighting gangsters, slum lords, abusive husbands, war profiteers and corrupt politicians. We were angry, it was a dark time, and here came this brightly colored guy who said, “You’re right, this isn’t fair. Let’s do something about it.” In the 1960s, we’re in the space race and Clark’s focused on meeting aliens. Now, Superman’s been relaunched and he’s fighting aliens still, sure, but he’s renewed a major focus on corrupt politicians, slum lords, gangsters and our new recession era fears. None of that is an accident.

Superhero comics in particular give me hope for the human race because most of them are morality tales. Help others, don’t abuse power, don’t give in to base emotions, don’t take the easy way out all the time. The original Avengers line-up is basically a fairy tale about cooperation. The literal god of lies and manipulation shows up and who fights him? A self-absorbed rage ogre, an arrogant knight, an anachronistic prince, a social butterfly and an introverted explorer. And these people all have to learn that they are stronger by working together and embracing their differences than they would be if they all worked alone and did things their own way. The fact that we’re still telling these morality tales gives me hope for society. Obviously, we still think there’s merit in such lessons.

 

Where did the idea for the The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook: From Direwolf Ale to Auroch Stew! come from?

Alan:
It’s not an original idea by any means. There’s been an Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook and an  Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook and various such things. When I was a kid, I bought a book with recipes inspired by the Dragonlance novels. My friend Bonnie Burton does books on Star Wars crafts and Jenn Fujikawa does wonderful geeky-themed baking over at JustJennRecipes.com.

Adams Media was aware of my work and asked if I’d be interested in doing an Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook. I enjoyed Martin’s books, so I said absolutely. It wasn’t as easy as that, of course, I still had to write samplers so they could see what kind of book I wanted to write and what recipes I’d put together and whether or not this was what they were looking for. But fortunately for me, they really loved my samples and after that, we were off and running.

 

Besides the cookbook, you also have two more books coming out: The Unofficial Spider-Man Trivia Challenge and The Unofficial Batman Trivia Challenge. Can you give some background about the creation process for these two books?

Alan: Writing those books was one of the most insane experiences of my life. Basically, Adams Media was really happy with my cookbook and wanted to use me again since they knew my forte is history and trivia related to superheroes. With both Batman and Spider-Man having movies out this summer, they wanted tie-in quiz books covering the comics, tie-in novels, newspaper strips, foreign interpretations, video games, films, TV shows, etc. At least 800 questions each book and also several information sidebars for each chapter.

They offered that I could write either book or both. Here was the kicker, though. This project had been proposed a bit late in the game, but they still wanted the books to come out in time for the movies rather than a couple of months later. So whether I agreed to write one book or both, I had about five weeks and that was it. So I had to ask myself, can I research and write 1600 questions in one month for two characters with decades of history? Or do I just want to play it safe and only write one book? But how could I choose between Peter and Bruce? I love both characters so much.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a dare. Two books? Sounds like an exciting challenge. Finally, I spoke to my friend Kiri Callaghan, a great writer herself whose work Funeral Potatoes and The Lily or the Tiger can be found on Amazon. And she said, “Dude… What would Captain Kirk do?”

And that was all I needed to hear. I said yes to both and started writing that night. It was a damn marathon for several weeks, but I did it and they liked it and I’m excited to see the books hit shelves soon. You can pre-order them already on B&N’s web-site and on Amazon.

 

I love your Agent of S.T.Y.L.E column on Newsarama. What inspired you to create this column and what other characters can readers look forward to being featured in the future?

Alan: In a way, it started when I was a kid. Not many people know this now, but I used to draw quite frequently when I was younger. I used to carry a sketchpad around at all times and I often drew what I called “comparison” pieces. I’d have a page full of Spider-Man in different costumes or different temporary transformations. I’d have Superman flying alongside Bizarro and Superboy and the Superman of the 853rd century. The Adam West Batman standing next to the original, Bob Kane Batman. The differences in design always interested me.

A couple of years ago, I met Tim Gunn and realized he had a respect and knowledge of superhero comics. And I just thought, wait, what an interesting thing this would be. Me and this affable fashion authority gabbing about different designs a hero or villain had and discussing what worked. We did a couple of videos together and it was great.

I then started thinking that there must be a website out there that showed a clear, linear evolution of all the looks a particular hero or villain would have. And to my surprise, I couldn’t find any. There were several sites that showed dozens of Spider-Man costumes or Batman uniforms, but the images weren’t in order and they gave you no context. I thought, there really should be something that does that, maybe I can do it. I had already spent a couple of years writing various articles on different web-sites discussing the histories and character evolution in comics. Maybe I could evolve that style into a fashion/design history.

A week later, I got an e-mail from David Pepose at Newsarama who had seen my videos and wanted to know if I could thought I could write a few articles along the same lines. It was perfect timing and I said sure, so we agreed to have me write about six pieces and we’d see if they got a reaction. After the fourth one, I was told ok, people really like this, we’re making it a column.

Moral of the story? If there’s a product or a story you really want to see and you can’t find it, make it yourself.

 

You co-host of the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast with Jill Pantozzi as well as the host of the web-video version. What can listeners and viewers look forward to on future episodes?

Alan: Yeah, the videos were something I did first, but I never had a stable crew and various circumstances led to there being no set schedule. Later, Jill and I were talking about how we found certain podcasts wanting and we decided to do one ourselves. She said we should just continue using the “Crazy Sexy Geeks” label I’d used on my videos since it was a good title. In future podcasts, we’ll be chatting with more comic writers, more novelists. Possibly more actors. Definitely a couple of cosplayers. We’ll also be focusing a bit more on people who make independent content in comics and web-shows, etc.

I’ll be doing some new web-videos too that will be focusing on the history of the superhero genre. It’ll be educational for new fans and pretty funny for old fans, I hope.

 

On Twitter, you’ve mentioned that you’ll be doing a radio play later in the year, can you talk more about that?

Alan: I’ve been scripting out a radio play mini-series based on a classic science fiction story that is now public domain. I have a crew and equipment. The script needs to be finished and edited and then we need to hold some auditions, but after that we’ll be rocking it out fairly quickly I believe. I’ll be in the cast as well. If it goes nicely, I’d like to continue by either adapting another classic sci-fi story or ancient mythology.

I love radio plays and it’s a shame to me that the United States considers them “old fashioned” and practically irrelevant. I love listening to new audio plays from the BBC and Big Finish Productions. It’s such an interesting medium and a great way to tell some stories when you don’t have a budget of over $90 million.  

 

What other projects are you working on?

Alan: Wait, seriously? The radio play, upcoming podcasts, upcoming web-shows, and weekly column aren’t enough? No, wait, you’re right. There are still empty hours in the late night, after all. Have you noticed how many stories and songs reference 4 am as this hour where bizarre events and strange feelings happen? For me it’s sometimes the best part of the night.

Along with the projects I’ve mentioned, I’ve been cast in a friend’s web-series pilot and may become a recurring character. We’ll be shooting the pilot very soon. I’m also co-writing a film with a friend that may involve a woman hero physically kicking ass. And when I finish a couple of these projects, I’m moving on to getting a web-comic published that I can’t discuss but involves a penguin with a gun at some point and a steampunk dinosaur villain. When you hear the villain’s name, you will laugh. It’s awful and funny.

I’m also writing another book right now. This is a much more involved book, inspired partially by Grant Morrison’s wonderful work Supergods.

 

Who’s a favorite comic book character of yours?

Alan: Oh, God… You know, it often depends on what kind of story I want to read. My absolute favorite comic book characters are Spider Jerusalem, Izzy S, Batman, Spider-Man, Nightcrawler, Barry Allen, Vixen, Wonder Woman, Superman, Anya Corazon, the Joker, Dr. Doom, Carol Danvers, Captain America, Supergirl, and Reneé Montoya. If I have to whittle it down further, Batman, Spider Jerusalem and Barry Allen.

Batman is so interesting and admirable because he has so many reasons to become a villain yet chooses this heroic path and is selfless to a fault. And we all need a little Spider Jerusalem in ourselves, this angry voice that says stop kidding yourself. Truth no matter what.

As for Barry Allen AKA the Flash… well, on top of having his amazingly designed uniform, his story is the dream of every superhero fan. He grew up on comics, wanted to be a superhero and then one day, thanks to chemicals and lightning, it happened. He became a superhero and wound up fighting alongside Superman, traveling through time, visiting parallel Earths, hanging out with aliens, and discovering secret societies of intelligent gorillas. He was a dreamer and a scientist and one day all the impossible worlds became real. Basically, he’s imagination incarnate. No wonder he never stands still!

And wouldn’t you know it? Answering this question just gave me an idea for a story.




Comicmaniac Spotlight: Christina Barr of The Gorgeous Geeks & Author of Superkid

Written by on Apr 21, 2012
Filed in: Comicmaniacs  |  2 Comments »

Welcome to the Comicmaniac Spotlight! Here is where I will would feature or interview a person or persons who are either in the comic industry or they’re doing something that’s awesome and it’s  geeky/nerd related online.  This week’s spotlight is Christina Barr of The Gorgeous Geeks.  She recently published a book entitled Superkid. The book can be purchased online for the Kindle or Paperback at Amazon.com.

I got to sit with her and talk about her book, projects that she’s working on, as well as what her sisters and her are working on.

Christina Barr

What inspires you to write?

Christina:  I’ve always loved to write.  I’ve been writing songs ever since I can remember and I always wrote very well for school.  Of course the thought of having great success is a huge motivator, but writing simply fulfills me.  A day undisturbed at my computer is what I would consider a fantastic day.  I write until words don’t make sense and I pass out with my hands still on the keyboard.  I love to write.

 

Superkid

 What inspired you to write this book?

 Christina: Superkid was the sixth book that I completed.  I was inspired by the   crazy stories my father would tell us about his childhood.  I had heard them my whole life and then one day it clicked that I should turn it into a book.

 

This book isn’t just for kids, it also appeals to grown ups, why do you think that is?

Christina: I think it appeals to grownups because it reminds them what it’s like to be a kid.  Plus, kids are funny to us.  Kids might not think they’re so hilarious, because that’s just how they think.  The book is kind of like reading Kid’s Say the Darndest Things.  The book also gets deep and emotional as well and there are just some emotions purposely put in that only an adult could really tap into.

 

Not only did you write the book, you also illustrated it. What advice can you give artists who are just starting out?

Christina: Keep working on your craft and do what you’ve got to do.  I’m so busy writing that I really didn’t want to illustrate it myself, but it ended up having to be me.  Sometimes, you’re all you have.  If you’ve got the talent to do everything, don’t let anyone put you down for it.  Become your own enterprise and let haters hate.

 

What advice can you give aspiring writers?

Christina: I’m going to pass on some really great advice that Pen Ward, the creator of Adventure Time gave me before his show blew up on Cartoon Network.  “Never pitch your baby.”  He literally came up with Adventure Time in a few minutes when it was just a short on Nickelodeon.  Even though millions of people love that show, he wasn’t extremely attached to it, which is good because Nickelodeon basically held it hostage for a while.  If you’ve written your masterpiece that you love and you don’t want anyone to touch it, it might be best to write another masterpiece that’s great but won’t emotionally destroy you if it flops or if an editor or publisher wants to make a bunch of changes.  The series I personally love the most that I think will be the most successful was the first one I wrote and I’ve at least got three books done for it.  However, I won’t publish them until I know I’ve got a solid foundation.  Don’t ever just have one masterpiece.  Write another and then another.

 

What can readers look forward to in this series?

Christina: Readers can look forward to Felix having a lot of great adventures as well as some growing pains.  There are a couple of books planned.  We might even follow him into adulthood.  He’s going to keep being heroic and trying to save the day.   There will be more characters introduced.  There will be more crushes and even some heartbreak.  There will be bullying, racial diversity, family drama, great acts of courage, and friendships will be tested.  Expect life.  But book two is going to be really fun.  I’ve started working on it and it’ll be fantastic.

 

Are there any other projects that you’re working on?

Christina:  Always.  I’m considering releasing a young adult book that I believe will be a big hit.  It’s something very original that I know readers will really enjoy.  I’m also working on two other young adult novels that I think will be great.  I really love them and hopefully I have enough time to finish them both before the end of the year.

 

What future goals do you hope to achieve with this series?

Christina: I want a big publisher to pick it up for sure, but I know it will happen regardless if I can get Superkid made into a movie.  I’ve already got dream cast members in mind.  I know it would be an instant classic, something teachers would play in school and kids would watch when they came home from school for the millionth time.  I think it would also be cool to have a comic book of Superkid.

 

You’re part of The Gorgeous Geeks. What projects or plans are you and your sisters working on? What can fans look forward to?

Chrisitina: As we get more interviews, more doors start opening up.  We’re gonna get on the ball more about doing articles on our site and we’re going to be traveling to some new cons and covering them.  New York Comic Con is one we wanna go to for sure.  We’re in the process of adding some more Gorgeous Geeks in the mix.  I’ve been working on some parodies, but it’s hard to find time to finish them.  Stay tuned.  Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, subscribe on Youtube, and visit our site.  We’ve got some great stuff coming up.

 

When did you fall in love with comics and what other geeky things are you into?

Christina: My dad was a geek, so he pretty much raised geeks.  I started to really read comic books sometime around the fifth grade, but I’ve been watching anime as far back as I can remember.  Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, Pokemon, Digimon, Card Captors, etc.  Superhero cartoons were also big in my house as well.  I was literally raised on this stuff and I’m a better writer for it.  Without comics, my dad wouldn’t have been the imaginative boy who inspired Superkid and I would have never written about him.  Thank God my grandpa brought comics home to his son, just so he could look at the pictures.  That one act of kindness created so much for my family.






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